The mysterious Mr. Pooh

Right now I am in the middle of doing the final grades for my writing students — but I am running into a slight bureaucractic glitch. The English department sent me a list of student names next to their essay grades. Most of the names are clearly recognizable. However, some of the names are a little strange, and I can’t figure out if they correspond to actual students or if they are imaginary people who exist only in another realm. Take, for example, the mysterious Crajantan Pooh. Crajantan Pooh did quite well on the University Essay. In fact, he scored well above the median. On the down side, I have never had a student named “Pooh” here or anywhere else. I put Mr. Pooh’s name into a worldwide Google search and nothing came up, not even when I narrowed the search to “Hangers-On of Christopher Robin,” “Tigger Has a Posse”…

A man who needs no introduction

One of the student essays included a reference to “Jesus — the renowned religious figure.” Usually, I don’t see a clarifying statement used in that kind of situation. It’s like saying “Buddha — famous peaceful entity” or “God — a world-famous overwhelming presence that controls everything.” I guess the student was afraid that the graders might mix him up with “The Jesus” character from “The Big Lebowski.”

Such a frigid end!!

Avoid these sentence constructions when writing political manifestos: “The cessation of both opposing directions leads to the absence of the very substance that brought this country to life.” “It is frightening to think of the world coming to such a frigid end!” “The anonymous article, written by William Bennett …” “Such thinly conceived faiths shed much war onto any attempt at cival uniformity.” “A force overtly apparent …” “Terrorists taking over the nation? Or our nation being reduced to the perplexity of complex capitalist conformity? Neither option is particularly amusing.” “What it boils down to is: this is a war between values (America) and a nation of terrorists (Iraq.) That is not a value judgment.”

Santeria — the clean version.

I laughed out loud at the new Nintendo commercial, showing a bunch of freshly scrubbed kids sitting under a sunny tree and strumming along to — of all things — “Santeria” by Sublime. The kids are all smiles as they sing, “I don’t practice Santeria, I aint got no crystal ball, I had a million dollars,” etc. Then the kids skip directly to the chorus — conveniently eliminating the lines about popping a cap in Sancho and slapping her down. Hmmm. Is Nintendo advocating that the youth of America perform “the clean version” of every pop song in public from now on? I’m looking forward to Nintendo commercials featuring the squeaky-clean versions of songs by the Sex Pistols, NWA and Cannibal Corpse.

Painting chimps

I enjoyed the New York Times article about the colony of painting chimps in the Hamptons. ChimpYaddo, ChimpBreadloaf and ChimpMacdowell are soon to follow. P.S. Amy’s blog, once moribund, has been revived. You can find the blog at Also, I still don’t have a voice.


I have (literally) lost my voice. This may come as a surprise to people who know me. To paraphrase one of my students, I could talk the potato off of a couch. My voice loss happened gradually. During my last two days of classes, my voice sounded like a claw rasping against a window. Then it cut out altogether — right in the middle of class — and I wonder when it will ever come back. It’s hard to get by with no voice at all. Going to the grocery store is strange. Boxboys say, “Paper or plastic?” Cashiers say, “Credit card or debit?” Then I point at my tonsils, and make a throat-slashing gesture to signify my voicelessnes. They don’t understand. They get cross with me. They think I am threatening them. Last night, I woke up to find my cat, Robert Earl, biting me on the arm. I…

Tales from Cupertino, part VII: Mother-in-law nearly arrested in sushi restaurant!!!!

You won’t believe this. My mother-in-law was hanging out with a pal in one of the most illustrious sushi restaurants in Silicon Valley. I’ve been there many times; it is quite good. Anyhow, my mother-in-law (M.I.L. in future references) ordered the sushi as usual, but her friend ordered a hot-chicken dish, which came out uncooked and gross!! The friend sent it back to the chef, who sent it back to her still cold and completely unchanged. The friend sent it back to the chef again, and this time it was shoved into the microwave and was slightly warmed up — but it was still rather rubbery and unpleasant. Anyhow, when my MIL and her pal challenged the bill, the waitress said that they had better pay up or they would both be arrested! Trying to get to the bottom of the problem, my MIL approached the chef herself, and he…

Why does this city smell so bad this week?

As everybody knows, some sections of Haight Ashbury smell like essential oils, pot and and reeking B.O. However, bad smells are not confined to my neighborhood. The Financial District smelled quite fishy and moldy when I was walking through it yesterday. Foul aromas wafted from every vent and manhole as I hurried through the streets en route to the new Nicole Kidman film. It’s hard to walk when you are holding your nose and closing your eyes and not breathing through your mouth. I think someone should spray this entire city down with Axe.

A Guggulah-Muggulah for Amy Winehouse

The undeniably disgusting Guggulah Muggulah cured me of my bad cold this week and restored my voice. I’m wondering if it might have a similar wholesome effect on Amy Winehouse, whose personal tsuris is preventing her from carrying on with her tour. I think a good strong cup of Guggulah Muggulah might put her back on the straight-and-narrow. But in her case, I would leave out the rum. I would just go with the straight up milk, honey and butter combination.