And Speaking of Harry Potter…

So our Blog Buddy, Mike Allegra, is having a contest to give away a copy of Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist. The ballot question is what fictional character would you most want to have as a next-door neighbor. I picked Hermione Granger. We could go to used bookstores together and then come back home and argue about how we are each going to arrange our home library. This isn’t thinking like a scientist, I know. It’s thinking like a humanist.


Image: “Hermione in the Library” by Pelegrin-tn


Cover art: Elizabeth Zechel

Thoughts for a Doodle Do…

So my pal Mike Allegra over at heylookawriterfellow is doing his semi-annual Doodle Contest. So here are my words: panther, dapper, samurai, flying pig, poetry. Because the Middlebury College mascot is a panther (and let’s face it, my cat Musashi is kind of like a very formal, tuxedoed panther), Musashi is dapper, I studied Japanese fencing, I had a coaching company with a flying pig logo, and um, er, uh, can’t remember the reason for the last one, might have to think about it more…


To get your name in the drawing, leave a list of five words in the comments section below. They can be any words at all, but – and this is important – the words cannot be completely random. Each word must be connected to you in some way.

For example, here are my five words:





Chip ‘n’ Putt

The connection between you and the words doesn’t need to be deep or profound, it just needs to exist.


Want me to stuff the ballot box in your favor? Fiiine. I’ll add two more ballots if you announce this contest on your blog and link back to this page. That’s three chances to win!

Don’t have a blog? No problem. I’ll give you one extra ballot if you announce this contest on your Facebook page or Twitter feed. (Be sure to post links in the comments.)


As I mentioned, the winner of the drawing will get a custom made, one-of-a-kind, Mike Allegra doodle suitable for framing! Woo!

But the winner will also get something else:

An original, one-of-a-kind, Mike Allegra-penned story! This story will contain all five of the words you supplied to enter this contest. I can’t promise you a good story, but I will do my best.

So do me a favor and choose fun words, OK?


Your entry is due on or before Tuesday, April 5. The winner of the drawing will be announced on Wednesday, April 6.

That’s it! Give me five words and get going!


Writer Vacations


In the twenty plus years since I returned from teaching in Japan, I have had exactly one vacation that wasn’t related to a conference, a wedding, or visiting family. People always assume that teachers get oodles of free time during the summer, but that is only true in opposite proportion to how much money I have. So normally, in May and June and the end of August, I sit around the house or in cafes and write. Back in 2004, however, I got really crazy and went to the Arts and Crafts conference set in the A&C redecorated Disneyland Hotel. I attended talks and workshops about the A&C Renaissance, bought a piece of original art by Laura Wilder, had drinks with a real, live homicide detective, and on the day after the conference, spent the entire day in Disneyland. I even met Pluto, who dipped me.

PlutoMe MostTight

Probably the most fun I had was as I was getting to the font of the line, there was a little boy and his mother behind me. He kept sealing looks at me and finally, in great confusion, asked, “Who are you here with?” I said, “Oh, I was going to bring my parents, but they’re in Connecticut.” His mother laughed. He just looked confused. My evil side is narrow, but it’s deep.

I tell you all this because that crazy writer guy, Mike Allegra, is doing his Win a Doodle Contest again, and he is (after Laura Wilder) one of my favorite artists. (I also like Patrick McDonnell, Sandra Boynton, and Ando Hiroshige.) And I would like to win a doodle by him.

After all, to quote Willow Rosenberg, “You do it too. You do doodle too!