Nebohý

Carter has asked that I re-write “Jack and the Beanstalk” to read to his second grade class on Authors’ Day. I am stuck.

I am actually thinking of a re-write for adults and another for 8-year-olds. I want to recast Jack as a somewhat nebbish Woody Allen-esque character, you know, still lives with his mother, never gets anything right, gets swindled out of his cows, knows how to sweet talk the giant’s wife. (In case you wondered, the word nebbish comes from the Yiddish nebekh, meaning poor, unfortunate, and before that from the Czech nebohý. I love words, and I have always thought of Jack as nebbish, even though I didn’t have the word for him.)

So here’s where you come in.

What kinds of new plot twists or characters could we derive to make the story fun for second graders? Or for adults?

Add your ideas to the Comments section or email me at “lullabyemail (at) gmail dot com.”

Nevski Prospekt

“You are too young to have eyebrows like that,” she said with her Russian accent. “You look like Brezhnev.” So Irena, one of forty or so barbers at Astor Place Hairstylists, always remembered to cut them. Continue reading

Cad

Eddie’s white stretch limo glided by around 5:30 in the opposite lane heading toward campus to pick up him and his girlfriend Ann. My colleague Terry’s eldest child has his prom tonight. Since Terry lives on the school property, Eddie and his date will take their pictures on the grounds, probably standing somewhere in the meadow that used to be a practice polo field when the 117 acres was owned by the publisher of the Boston Globe back in the early 20th century.

My prom, in New York City in 1981, was not so bucolic, nor so romantic. Continue reading

coining

“Brevity is the soul of wit” and “Necessity is the mother of invention” are two of my favorite aphorisms. I quote them to myself, if not aloud, often.

Seems there’s a pattern, though, so much so that the person(s) who coined them may not have been that witty or that needy.

Each aphorism follows this formula: “[Concept ending in -ity] is the [core of a matter or relational identity] of [intangible principle].” Hey, folks, we can come up with our own! So I wrote down like 20-30 words in three separate columns, and here are a few new aphorisms for you to use in daily life:

“Hyperactivity is the offspring of fear.”
“Fidelity is the keeper of contentment.”
“Frigidity is the killer of happiness.”
“Identity is the mistress of wonder.” (Can’t figure that one out, but it sure sounds cool.)
“Timidity is the enemy of love.”
“Destiny is the attendant of mystery.”

You get the picture.

This is what I do on a Friday afternoon after I get off work and my air conditioner has not been installed by maintenance yet.

Keats said it

I cry at beauty.

What I mean by that is when I come across a truth, whether profound or simple, I cry. I may not shed tears, but there is a great heaving in my soul that is cathartic and deep and cherished and pleasing, and this Truth-Moment that makes me experience all that, is beauty. Continue reading