Occasional Items

Talks and such

My career as a public speaker had a somewhat dubious beginning when I was chosen as "class poet" for my college graduation, a designation that, given what I produced for the occasion, might more aptly be changed to "class limericist." Fortunately, my grandmother could not quite hear what I said and was thus still proud of me.

News of that debacle must have remained within the confines of Berkshire county, for it has not prevented me from being asked to speak at events both on and off campus: honor society inductions and such like. I must confess it is great fun, though I am never entirely convinced that I have anything valuable to say. And I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I prefer to read entirely from a prepared script.

Here are a few of those presentations, just for the heck of it. There may be an instance or two of "poetic license" in some of the autobiographical details, though nothing along the lines of James Frey or JT LeRoy. Please note that each of these is a creature of its occasion, prepared to be spoken to a particular audience in a particular place and time. They have not been edited, corrected, or updated, so please be kind!

What are you doing here? With a nod to William James

Why it is important to know how to fail, with helpful hints from Bruce Springsteen

A plea against industrial education; or, why people tend not to take pictures when they are hugging the edge of a canyon

Why Captain Ahab is a model of how not to read, and how American Beauty might have ended differently if only . . .

How not to be a writer; and why nothing of significance happens on graduation day

A short account of my time spent exploring the ruins of the Southwest in the weeks after September 11, 2001; written for the Campus Magazine

The lessons of my college graduation, Bob Dylan, the desert, and some accounting

My first airplane flight, my first day at college, and why we should strive to be more than pond scum

Meteor showers on my 45th birthday, Bob Dylan, and why you should not trust people who insist that you "dress professionally"

The perils of the over-examined life, why I bought two wooden spatulas, and what Emerson might have said to Bartleby.

Why ignorance is better--more useful--than knowledge.  Sort of.  With nods to Animal House and Thoreau, and a plea not to do what I did.

Wherein Charles Baudelaire and the musical Hamilton meet by accident and maybe make some beautiful music together.  Just you wait!