May the Bird of Paradise Rest in Your Armpit

The man with the 70's hangover---big stache, wide lapels, swooping toupee---assigned to teach my fifth grade class regularly heaped this wish upon us: 'May the bird of paradise rest in your armpit.' What this meant, and why it should happen to us, was never made clear. It was only, mysteriously, repeated. This was a 1982-83, … Continue reading May the Bird of Paradise Rest in Your Armpit

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Stock Recovery Plan

So what if the stock market is on a rollercoaster this week? Grab some cheap thrills and laugh off your losses with a 15% savings on Patchworks, a hilarious office satire about the ordinary bureaucrats working hard for you in Washington DC. Price too steep? Check it out at the Fairfax County Public Library! Can one … Continue reading Stock Recovery Plan

A Borrower Be

The patient wait is over. Patchworks is now available through the Fairfax County Public Library. Reserve your copy today. Can one intern save us from ourselves, when the government he works for keeps shutting itself down? Patchworks shares a pound of absurdity for every ounce of tragedy, winking in dismay at the circumstances of our … Continue reading A Borrower Be

The Portable Art

Unlike the stuff we writers produce, art and music seem to make no demands of those who encounter it. The artist puts it out there---hangs it on the wall, pours it through speakers---and the public responds. They see it. They hear it. They get on with their day, likely the better for having encountered these … Continue reading The Portable Art

Swamp Talk

Why do the murders keep happening? What are we doing to stop them? Can one earnest intern make a difference, when the government he serves keeps shutting itself down? Join the whole Patchworks crew for a bite at The Fed Buffet. Great Falls Library 9830 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls, VA Saturday Feb 3rd, 1:30-4:00 America's next gun … Continue reading Swamp Talk

Writers’ Tip—Go Away!

Five weeks of surfing stretched out before me off the white beaches of northern Brazil. On the bus from Salvador to Ilheus, a teacher on summer leave, a young man with no duties, I felt the ultimate exhilaration of liberty. A peak experience, anticipating surf in the mornings and writing in the breezy shade of … Continue reading Writers’ Tip—Go Away!

A Tic Is Not A Style

I don't know what it is, but I've observed a natural tic in my writing lately. I wish I could call it a style, but it isn't. It isn't something pretty. It's a tic. If I had a tendency to do something that made my writing stand out---Raymond Carver, T.C. Boyle, Zora Neale Hurston---it would be … Continue reading A Tic Is Not A Style

Rock Paper Scissors Shutdown

Gun violence isn't the only systemic failure of the federal government to be yodeled at with doomed futility in Patchworks. Furloughs and government shutdowns also pepper a story full of recurring small deaths. There comes a point---moments before the plot's big turn---when two sympathetic colleagues must choose: which of them will take a round of furloughs instead of … Continue reading Rock Paper Scissors Shutdown

When Researching Aliens

Best to look at the problem from the other side. Not aliens on earth---earthlings in space! By far the most memorable version of Space Oddity for me is the one recorded by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield during his long sojourn aboard the International Space Station. The lyrics are somewhat different from the original, and so … Continue reading When Researching Aliens

The London Embassy

What to read this week? Paul Theroux’s The London Embassy, of course! This day in history U.S. diplomacy with England took over a new location. Our landmark perch in Grosvenor Square is no more. I visited the location once---an aside to the controversy going on right now, and one that makes this move feel deeply … Continue reading The London Embassy