Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


∞ ∞ ∞

The part of me that claims to be Irish

salutes the part of you that claims to be Irish!

(Actually, my ancestry is about half Irish, and I’m absurdly proud of that half.)st-patrick-celtic-cross-9-inch-2006885∞ ∞ ∞

“For the great Gaels of Ireland

are the men that God made mad,

for all their wars are merry,

and all their songs are sad.”

~G.K. Chesterton

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Ah, quit yer ructions and givin’ out, I know it’s tomorrow, sure, but I’m celebratin’ it today! (And tomorrow!)

∞ ∞ ∞

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A Day in the Heart of Brazil

4a493d8423448a4b5440d5d346d078d0My Featured Bloggers this week are Maggie and Richard of Monkey’s Tale, “An Adventure Travel Blog.” And adventurers they are! Canadian writer Maggie and photographer Richard are avid climbers, skiers and hikers, so they spend lots of time in their own magnificent Rockies. But they’ve also traveled to pretty much every place else on earth, including Antarctica! Enjoy this photo essay of Salvador, the historic heart of Brazil.

Monkey's Tale

Colourfully painted heritage buildings surround the cobblestone square in the heart of Salvador’s historic centre. Whether you love to feast your eyes on old architecture, people watch in a lively square or have lunch in an outdoor patio, you will find all of that and more in this lovely Old Town.

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America Up Close and Personal

My Real Memoir

From the Big Orange to the Big Apple! It’s still the longest road trip I’ve ever taken. Our YMCA leaders were a married couple who, along with their two young children Brian and Judy, had signed on to see the New York World’s Fair. Most of the dozen teenagers stayed kippered into the van singing Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” But I often rode in the RV with Brian and Judy, where I could stretch out and watch the scenery from the big picture window in the back. We saw so many tumbleweeds I began to think of us as tumbleweeds.

But once we hit Oklahoma City, we veered north into the Ozarks’ deep piney greens. We also saw blacks and whites. People, that is–carefully separated. I was stunned to find “White” and “Colored” bathrooms at a little mountain general store. I also saw boxes of leftover 4th of July firecrackers, including one brand featuring a crude caricature of a “colored boy” on a split-rail fence scarfing down stolen watermelon while an angry white farmer brandished his pitch fork.

The Voting Rights Act had passed into law just before we left, but no one here seemed to have heard of it. It was the first time I’d seen racism openly displayed, and it preyed on my mind for the rest of the trip. Later that day, as we passed the two towering halves of St. Louis’s not-yet-connected Gateway Arch, it seemed a more apt metaphor for America than the single, completed arch would be.

We stayed in the basement of a Baptist church in Queens, rolling out our sleeping bags on the hard linoleum floor, just blocks away from where West Side Story had been filmed. “Walk in threes,” they warned us. “One or two is an invitation to a mugging; more than three is an invitation to a rumble.” The gangs here were defined by ethnicity, we were told: Blacks, Hispanics, Whites, Asians. The church was making progress in ethnic reconciliation, but there was so much left to be done.

The World’s Fair was a short ride away, and yet in another galaxy. The motto on the iconic Unisphere read, “Peace Through Understanding.” This is the way the world should be! I thought, full of cool new cars (the Mustang was introduced here), push-button phones (!), know-it-all computers (a bedroom-sized mainframe analyzed my handwriting and told me I was “moody” and “opinionated”), and singing children. But then those children only got along, I suspected, because they were animatronic.

We squeezed in everything we could, Rory and I: the Empire State Building, Nathan’s hotdogs, Lindy’s cheesecake, the cheapest sandwiches on the menu at Sardi’s, the Radio City Rockettes. I loved NYC. But the most indelible moment came at the end of a train ride to Connecticut.

Rory had promised to visit his aunt. She was dignified and gracious, serving the New England version of high tea. Everything went swimmingly until I mentioned the segregation we’d seen in the south. Her husband quietly informed me that the only solution was to “send those people back to Africa where they belong.” Once I realized what he’d said, everything I’d been chewing on rose like bile in my brain. I jumped up and shouted, “This is their country too, as much as it is yours!” He shouted back. It got worse, much worse. Rory’s aunt began to cry. So Rory quickly thanked her and dragged me out of the house.

Later, on our way back to California, we slept under a prairie sky exploding with stars, and I realized that America was both uglier and more beautiful…

Than I’d ever imagined.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

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How to Avoid Procrastination!

Thought for the Week

Anticipation Procrastination
Anticipation Procrastinay-yay-shun is making me late
Is keeping me [and everyone else]
way-yay-yay-yay-yay-aiting…” *

According to an article in Psychology Today, the number one reason for procrastination is another “ation,” catastrophization, the tendency to overexaggerate how difficult, boring, or unpleasant a task will be, and consequently to put off the “unbearable” event. The second reason is that people tend to waste time loathing themselves for something that’s a universal human trait. So forgive yourself for being human and start procrasti-not-ing with these four steps:

  1. Picture it Done: Focus on being on the other side of the task and on how good it will feel being there.
  2. Get Real: Schedule a realistic (even slightly overlong) amount of time to accomplish the task.
  3. Commit: Tell someone who cares, or if possible who has a vested interest in your completing the task. It’s easy to let ourselves down, it’s harder to let others down. Guilt works!
  4. Take Stock: At the end of the day, ask yourself (or God) not just, “What could I have done better?” but “What did I follow through on? What did I get right?”

Happy Procrastinoting!

*With apologies to Carly Simon
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Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

You are the eye

Eye of the storm: 1) (noun) Calm region at the center of a hurricane; 2) (idiom) Calm in the midst of conflict or a tumultuous situation

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to you. For you formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

~Psalm 139:11-14

Posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Don’t Forget!

It’s Daylight Savings Time!

Don’t forget to set your brain forward!

 P.S. I’m off doing a speaking date today. Recurring episodes of The Wishing Map will resume next Saturday. Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet jumped into this entrancing adventure, why not start right now? Click here to begin!

Wishing Title 2 (logo only)

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The Best Movies of 2022

This list (after posters below) is highly subjective. Not only haven’t I seen every movie released last year, and very few foreign language films (in the U.S. most are released after the Oscars), but “Bests” are always a matter of personal taste. However, because I’m a filmmaker and film lover, my blogger friends seem to appreciate the suggestions.

The Fabelmans – One of Steven Spielberg’s best films—ever. And that’s saying a lot. Unlike the recent barrage of thrown-together post-pandemic features (I’m talkin’ to you Netflix and Amazon Prime), Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical love letter to moviemaking, was developed over many years. It’s beautifully directed, acted and, of course, filmed, and is my hands-down favorite movie of 2022.

Banshees of Inisherin – It will help your appreciation of this marvellous little tragi-comedy, if you understand it as a parable about Ireland itself, particularly during The Troubles of the mid-to-late 20th century.

The Woman King – Although two other very-well-done action-thrillers* have gotten more award season attention, The Woman King remains my favorite action film of 2022. Indeed, it’s one of my favorite movies of the year. Period.

TÁR – Apart from wildly diverse interpretations about what the movie is actually saying, TÁR is a riveting drama, anchored by Cate Blanchett’s brilliant performance.

Pinocchio – Months after Disney’s heavily-promoted live action version of its own animated classic yawned its way into our hearts and pocketbooks, Guillermo del Toro gave us a truly original animated version of the story. It faded rather quickly but will, in time I suspect, be discovered and loved by many.

1883 – Technically a limited series (in other words a multi-part movie), this tragic, moving, and surprisingly profound prequel to TV’s Yellowstone, features riveting performances by Sam Elliott and newcomer Isabel May.

Weird – Having written and produced a spoof myself, I loved the sheer cleverness of doing a parody of a “biopic” of the life of a musical parodist, Weird Al Yankovic.

Matilda the Musical – This adorable stage-to-screen adaptation is one thing Netflix did get right.  It’s funny, tuneful, and downright lovable.

Living – A throwback, in the very best sense, to old-fashioned morality tales like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Last Holiday. With a perfect supporting cast surrounding the matchless Bill Nighy.


  • Everything Everywhere All At Once is a bit overstuffed, but is wildly creative
  • Top Gun: Maverick is formulaic but oh-so entertaining, and superior to the original
  • Avatar: The Way of the Sequel see it for the production values if nothing else
  • Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is endearing. Megan is not. But both are very entertaining.
  • Dueling fantasies: House of Dragons (HBO) and Rings of Power (Prime) had their flaws, but both satisfied our hunger for old-fashioned Hollywood epics. Andor (Disney+), Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Paramount+) and The Golden Age (Prime) helped fill that need, as well.
  • Finally, two ongoing adaptions continue to address my far deeper need to see human values and truths explored in story form: All Creatures Great and Small (PBS/Channel 5-UK) and Angel Studios’ revolutionary The Chosen.
Posted in Movies, Popular Culture & Entertainment | Tagged , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

From My Idiom Attic

Raining Cats and Dogs - OpenClipart-Vectors (pixabay.com)Idiomatic (i-dē-ə-ˈma-tik)  adjective  1. Of or relating to idioms. 2. Peculiar to a particular group or person. 3. Place in Mitch’s head where he stores old idioms.

Idiom (ˈɪdɪəm)  n  A phrase which cannot be understood from the meaning of the individual words it contains, for example, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

My mom introduced me to idioms when I was a kid by using them frequently. When I was misbehaving (roughly 23 hours per day), she would warn me that she had eyes in the back of her head. The-Shining-Jack-Nicholson-Through-Door-394x394I can still picture them peering out at me. And in the evenings, she would ask me to go “stick your head through the door and tell your father dinner’s ready.”

Years later, my circle of friends included a roommate from the Netherlands named Constant who knew very little English. But that didn’t hinder him; he’d just transliterate colorful Dutch idioms. In the midst of a conversation he’d say something like, “Yeah, that’s like handing your uncle a fish while he’s riding a bicycle.”

Another foreign-born friend, an adorable woman from Bulgaria named Yolly, was fluent in English, but used delightfully quirky imported idioms. For example, she would often tug below her eye and say, “See any boats?” I finally asked her what it meant. She said the phrase and accompanying action were used whenever anyone over-explained something. In fact, the idiom was so common in her country that the eye-tug was usually all that was needed.

She didn’t know the idiom’s derivation, but we figured it must mean something like, “Do you think there’s no brain in my head, just a lake with boats floating around in it?” For years after that, I’d tug on my eye when anyone over-explained something. Just so I could tell them about my wonderfully idiomatic friend Yolly.

What are some of your favorite idioms?


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A Sunday Afternoon in Harlem

06ef6ec73f8893420e05dac4cacd35b2My Featured Blogger this week is Janice Reid of Sincerely Jan. A former finance industry professional, in 2018 Jan switched her focus to fighting–and surviving–Acute Myeloid Leukemia. This gave her “an entirely new perspective,” she explains, leading to a life that today “is slower but more fulfilling, more self-aware and spiritual.” And it shows in the thoughtful and always engaging photo essays Jan shares with us. Read on and see!

Sincerely Jan

It had been a while since I’d last been to Harlem and let’s just say, at that time, the landscape was a whole lot different than it is today. Back in its heyday in the late 20’s and throughout the 30’s, Harlem had been dubbed “The Black Mecca of the World” due to its rich culture and wide array of artistic and political expressions. Its landscape was marked by brownstones and other historic buildings and even though blacks were the majority of its population, it was a melting pot of peoples of different races and cultures.

By the time I got to the US in the mid 1980’s Harlem was already in decline, in fact one could say it had already hit rock bottom and most recall that period as the darkest in Harlem’s history. Crime and drugs ran rampant, poverty was real, and for most non-residents of Harlem our…

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Pen Pals Forever!

My Real Memoir

  • “To a real sweet guy and brain that is in most of my classes and is real neat.” ~Sherri
  • “From your most hansome [sic] friend.” ~Manuel
  • “You have a real bitchen personality and you’d better keep it that way!” ~Barb
  • “Ya’ fink. See ya’ in the future (unhopefully).” ~Your star, Terry
  • “Stay as bitchen as you are.” ~Sandee
  • “To a real cool nut from an even cooler one.” ~Ray
  • “I’m going to make this prediction: I think you’ll leave your mark on the world. But even if you don’t, you’ve left your mark on me, and a very nice mark it is.” ~Tina
  • “Even though you’re the most popular and best actor, you’re still my [underlined four times] friend.” ~Rory

Most teenage friendships don’t last. Of the people who wrote in my 9th grade yearbook above, only Tina and Rory have remained forever friends. To my surprise and delight, however, I met another forever friend a thousand miles away from home that summer.

And my paper route made it possible.

Paperboys were supposed to be just that: paper boys. So it was my dirty little secret that, even after my fifteenth birthday when my closest friends and I piled into Mom’s car to go see Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, I still had a paper route. Still, it was paper route money that paid for my summer YMCA Caravans. That summer’s Caravan would be the best yet, and the farthest away—all the way across the country to New York City!

My four-times-underlined friend Rory and I and a dozen other teenage boys, with sleeping bags and massive quantities of Wonder Bread, road-tripped it with an old couple (like 30-something) in a van and RV by way of the still-new interstate highway system.

I only remember one incident before we hit the midway point, but it’s a biggie: We stopped to make bologna sandwiches in a park in Amarillo, Texas, and there was a strange buzz in the air. Naturally, I assumed it was some sort of secret high-frequency government experiment, and worried aloud to a cute local girl who was there babysitting her kid brother that we’d all soon grow immense and see-through-y and attack the nearest skyscraper. The girl, Judy, laughed, explained that we wouldn’t have to be very big to attack Amarillo’s “skyscrapers,” and asked, “Haven’t y’all ever heard of cicadas before?” I hadn’t. We talked for ten more minutes before the final call to pack up and leave. “Hey, y’all want to be pen pals?” I asked in my best faux drawl. “Shore!” Judy replied. So we quickly swapped addresses.

We wrote for decades. And then, after the advent of Facebook, Judy sent me a box containing every letter I’d ever sent her! Within were insights, some pretty cringy,* that are invaluable now in piecing together My Real Memoir. So, thank you, dear Judy…

My four-times-underlined friend!

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

*Re. the letter above: Yes, I really did ask her what her “measurements” were. I had many traits back then, but tact and class weren’t among them.

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