Writer’s Workshop: At Seventeen…

At what age would you like to restart your life? What would you do differently?

I guess this is a follow-on to the question from last week about what I wish I could do.

Since my stroke and the subsequent events that have led to me being retired on disability, I’ve given lots of thought to these questions. Probably too much thought, actually. Brooding over past mistakes is a highly-addictive and unproductive use of my time. Fortunately, I’ve learned to limit it to the hours when I’m in bed and have been awakened by a full bladder, which usually gives me a few minutes before I fall asleep and wander the hallways and highways of my dreams. There are so many things I’d do differently, and they all happened at different stages of my life.

Image by b0red from Pixabay

I’d like to restart my life on March 25, 1973, the day I turned 17. This was the end of my junior year and start of my senior year of high school. My mother and I had a difference of opinion about where I should go to university, and I didn’t fight hard enough for my choice. As a result, I ended up going to a school I didn’t want to attend. My first two years at university were a disaster, and I didn’t care. I don’t like myself when I’m passive-aggressive like that, but that was the person I was then.

There was a lot of good that came of that, though: I ended up transferring to one of the schools I did want to attend, where I met the love of my life, I graduated a semester early, we were married and have lived happily ever after. Had I gone there to start with, Mary and I probably would have ended up being two ships that pass in the night. Divine Intervention works in mysterious ways…

(That was short. That’s a record for me.)


I and a group of very nice people, let by the lovely and talented Mama Kat, do this Writer’s Workshop thing every Thursday. Kat posts a list of a few prompts to her blog every Tuesday or Wednesday, from which we select one and write on it, then share our essays with the other folks doing it (and, by extension, the other readers of our blogs). It’s tons of fun and Kat told me she doesn’t mind if I invite other people to join in. If you’re interested, click the icon below and read all about it.

Oxymoron #atozchallenge

Oxymoron is a word formed from the Greek words ὀξύς (oksus), “sharp, pointed, keen,” and μωρός (moros), “dull, stupid, foolish.” An oxymoron is a contradiction in terms. Even the word is a contradiction in terms (i.e. “sharp dull”).

We mostly think in terms of comical oxymorons, such as

  • jumbo shrimp
  • educational television
  • military intelligence
  • business ethics
  • civil war
  • happily married
  • Microsoft Works
  • tall shortstop

The term sophomore (used to denote the second year of high school or college in the US) is an oxymoron, (sophos, “smart” + moros, “stupid”).

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is full of them: “brawling love,” “loving hate,” “heavy lightness” etc.

I’m sure that you can think of a few more…

#1LinerWeds from Sgt. Schultz

An audio one-liner from Hogan’s Heroes:

Sgt. Schultz, played by the great John Banner, had multiple opportunities to bust Hogan and his men for their extracurricular activities (demolitions, helping POW’s from other camps escape Germany, impersonating Nazis, etc.), but always managed to look the other way for a piece of apple strudel or a chocolate bar. Often, he would walk away, exclaiming “I KNOW NOTHING!” Banner himself escaped Austria for the US when the Nazis took over and spent World War II serving with distinction as an Army supply sergeant.


One-Liner Wednesday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word from Brylcreem. A little dab’ll do ya!

Two for Tuesday: Nick Colionne

There’s a story about Nick Colionne, who started playing professionally at 15 years old: He would play in the clubs around Chicago, and to appear older he’d draw a mustache on himself with eyeliner. One night, his grandmother caught wind that he was playing in a club, went down to the club, wiped the mustache off of him, and hauled him home.

He managed to grow up and divides his time between being a smooth jazz guitarist and being an elementary school teacher in Elgin, Illinois. His first album, It’s My Turn, was released in 1994, and his most current release is last year’s Just Being Me.

From 2016’s The Journey, here is “Morning Call.”

From 2006’s Keepin’ It Cool (recorded in part at The Soundbank in Northfield, Illinois, my hometown while I was in high school and college), here is “Can You Feel It.”

Nick doesn’t have a web page, but there is a fan page on Facebook, and AllMusic has lots of good information.

Nick Colionne, your Two for Tuesday, April 16, 2019.

Noxzema #atozchallenge

I’m one of those “pink people”: I have a redhead’s complexion, meaning pale with a tendency to freckle or burn in the sunlight. When I was growing up, we’d spend a lot of time at Hartigan Park (formerly Albion Beach) swimming in Lake Michigan, and since we were typical kids we’d run around with no shirts on all afternoon with the sun beating down on us. More often than not, I would go home with a pretty nasty sunburn, because this was in the days before sunblock and SPF factors, when we used baby oil to help us tan.

Mild sunburns were fairly easy to deal with, but mine were rarely mild. When the burn was so bad that I couldn’t sleep, my mother would come in with the blue jar of Noxzema. She’d smear it all over my back, and it would bring some comfort.

User:Gsaltzman [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D

Now, if you go to their website and read the FAQ’s, you see this:

Can Noxzema be used to cool sun burned skin?

Over the years Noxzema Original Deep Cleansing Cream has been used for many reasons but we have not tested it for this use. We recommend it to be used as a cleanser that needs to be rinsed off after massaging onto the face.

Kind of a bummer, since when it was first developed by Dr. Francis J. Townsend of Ocean City, Maryland, he did so specifically to treat sunburned people. It had things like camphor, menthol, phenol, and eucalyptus, all of which are good for soothing sunburned skin. The name itself is derived from the phrase “no eczema,” as it was sold as a treatment for that skin condition as well.

Initially the product was sold by the Noxzema Chemical Company, which became Noxell in 1966. Ownership has changed a few times since then, and it’s now manufactured by Unilever, who sees it as a facial scrub, nothing more. It might be good for sunburn or eczema, but they demur at the suggestion that it is.

Noxell also made shaving cream until a few years ago, or at least the company allowed the manufacturer to use the name. It was the subject of a number of popular commercials which ran from 1967 to 1973. They were popular, of course, because of the spokesmodel, the quite lovely former Miss Sweden 1961, Gunilla Knutsson.

The first time my aunt saw this commercial, she said there wasn’t a blade in the razor, or the guy would slice his face to shreds. They should have put a disclaimer on it that said “DO NOT ATTEMPT,” except back in the ’60’s we knew better.

The commercials also made David Rose’s “The Stripper,” which had been a #1 hit for him and his orchestra in 1962, popular again.

Even when the posts aren’t about music, I always manage to work some in…