Guided Tour, Subscription Drive, and a Birthday Bucket

One of these little people was me. (Aren't white babies CUTE?) This is just a nudge to read below-the-page-break.

One of these little people was me. (I am the upright one, but I’m not sure I want to know what was in my mouth, either.) This is just a nudge to encourage you to continue below the Read-More button. Trust me: we’re still cute.

[8-minute read if you love me, 3 if you’re still not sure. This will soon make sense to you.]

August is yearning to become September. The world wants to go back to school. (I do, don’t you?) Naturally, every time I prepare to post something here on JHdotCOM, I do go back to school, figuring out some of what I think I think and what I’m nearly sure that I feel. To “see what I say,” as one writer put it.

What immediately follows is a guided tour¹ of this virtual place — good to see you! make yourself at home! and a shameless attempt to nudge you into subscribing to the writing I scatter around it. See the command in the upper right corner? Don’t be afraid to obey it. Thanks for coming. (And please remember to shut the door when you leave.)

¹ Wait, you’re an old friend? Skip down to the ‘Read More’ button if you already know your way around. I had an August birthday. I wrote about it, and have decided to share some of my restlessness, doubt and inextinguishable intentions. You’re welcome.


Just below where you are right now – in the “At First Glance” section of the site – I most recently was reporting on someone about whom I’ll write more, or call me a procrastinator. (Quick! This is an emergency — get this man a procrastinator!) Marilynne Robinson is a superb writer of luminous and sharply spirited fiction and coolly brilliant essays on everything from science and religion to the culture of fear. (Libraries. Writing. Democracy. Liberty. Grace, too.²) And farther down the “AFG” queue is another sort of celebration: the appearance of my 700th Web-log post. [UPDATE: Not long after this post, the site registered its 30,000th page view, which could be construed as a YUUUGGE number. Just yuge.]

² Bonus points if you got the Tragically Hip song reference there. Your reward is in your heart.

Over yonder on the right, in the “It’s All About Sports!” section (just below the SO EASY TO SUBSCRIBE IT MIGHT AS WELL BE FREE area), I wrote earlier in August about Ottawa’s Carleton University and its brilliant, undersung dynasty of a men’s basketball program, after the Ravens had chaffed the Wichita State Shockers. There, I predicted that the Ravens would finish 6-0 against their American NCAA guests. Last night, they proved me right with their second conquest of the St. Thomas Aquinas Spartans from downstate New York. I also wrote, and not for the first time, about the wondrous women of Canada’s Olympic Team in Rio de Janeiro. (Hey, that’s all over now, isn’t it!)

Just below my playground excitements is a collection called “He Said/She Said”, which doesn’t just fire out an endless stream of out-of-context bons mots but meditates on them. (Marilynne Robinson will be making more appearances there.) I just shared a beauty on solitude from American writer Fenton Johnson, and as usual tried to set it up so that readers know where it came from and why it got my attention. And just before THAT, I quoted something profoundly simple from the dying (but not fading away) Canadian rock idol/poetic conscience Gord Downie of the band The Tragically Hip. They just played what is likely their last concert together, and (most of) a nation is still talking about it over a week later.

The fourth and last section, “On Second Thought”, doesn’t get frequent treatment, but I did throw in some Howdy Poetry about a month back, which is a rarity (and not only because it references my long-departed Dad). “OST” is generally for pieces that I’ve sweated over for longer periods.

And would you consider, now that you know your way around, subscribing to this thing? ‘Cause it’s so easy and FREE and everything. Okay, no more nagging.


And now here’s the Birthday Thing, which got away from me. I was surprised how personal it became – I blame my little sister as much as possible, have from her cradle days – and so you may or may not be keen to carry on. As Neil Gaiman sometimes warns of his blog posts, Contains ME. This has quite a LOT of (possibly self-absorbed) me, actually, but I decided to run it here below the “Are You SURE You Want to Read More of This Stuff?” break. Some of you may identify with the daunting feeling of Another Trip ‘Round the Sun, another non-youthful number attached to your biographical file. Birthday Blues. This one hit me hard, about two thirds of the way through August, right when and how I was afraid it might.

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Hundreds! The 700 Club. Double Century Descending. And Other Not Really News.

Twitter made this just for me. Thanks, Twitter!

Twitter made this just for me. Thanks, Twitter!

[2.5-minute read.]

It’s a day of hundreds, centuries, and numerical landmarks that end in double zeroes. (N.B. Not *that* 700 Club. Relax.) Because hundreds! Because, why NOT? Because you’ll see, that’s why! [UPDATE: And thousands, too, ‘cuz ’bout a month after this breathless report, JHdotCOM — this humble effusion of my thinkings — hit its 30,000th page view, which sounds like a lot. (If I cut back on the thinkings.)]

The 100. This is a TV show I have never seen, and only know because I follow a guy on Twitter who’s brilliant but weirdly seduced by gobs and gobs of television. What’s more: a hundred? In the folly of my middle age, I feel I want to live to that age, partly because I’m afraid of missing out on grandchildren if I don’t¹, partly because though allegedly a man of faith I’m afraid to croak, and principally because my hero, the basketball coaching legend John Wooden, fell a few months short and I’d like to do something he couldn’t pull off. When he died in 2010, I was a long way from L.A., and my bucket list was one large item lighter.

¹ Well, of course this is a shot at my sons!

200. TWO HUNDRED? Before this blog existed, somewhere around the turn of the century, I hit two hundred pounds for the first time ‘round, and it hit me back. Hard. I found the never-published chronicle of my comical lard-based dismay a couple of years ago, when I was flirting (again! still!) with that flagstaff of fatness, and included it in a 2014 blog-post. My China years of playing basketball, walking everywhere, and reduced access to my preferred vices had gotten me down. Weightwise, that is. Sometime this past year, I cow-tipped my new scales at 200 again, and it ticked me off, so I instantly did nothing about it.

HOWEVER! This very morning, friends and strangers and aliens and all my flat-bellied players, my scales said THIS: 199.5  (Pounds, that is.) So: YES!! And ‘BOUT FRIGGIN’ TIME!! And more brave muttering about how this is just the start and I can DO this and old-guy underwear ads, here I come! and so on. And Bruce Springsteen started singing in my head, so that’s good, too, though I think he had a different kind of descent in mind.

300. I refused to see the movie, and I still think it was crap. * he limps off to growl at children* But I was a pretty consistent .300 hitter in my bat-swinging days. *he prepares to launch into “boring stories of / Glory days…*   Springsteen’s everywhere today.

400. It has been four centuries since Shakespeare died. So whatcha gonna DO about it?

500. Nothing to say about this number, except that it’s linked to Fortune, which is a fickle and ephemeral thing (and I haven’t made mine yet but this blog post could change all that).

600. Tennyson, anyone?

(Give yourself a banana split if you guessed “The Charge of the Light Brigade”.)

“…’Forward, the Light Brigade!’ / Was there a man dismayed? / Not though the soldier knew / Someone had blundered. / Theirs not to make reply, / Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die. / Into the valley of Death / Rode the six hundred…” Because poetry.

700. SEVEN. HUNDRED. BLURTS. SEVEN HUNDRED! (In which the bloggish typist finally gets around to the point of what this post is, sort of, about. Don’t miss it!!)

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