Elliot's Essays

Winging It

With my career having been spent frequently lecturing on a stage, I am often asked if I was in many plays during high school or perhaps later in community amateur theater. Nope. Somehow, I have never been any good at playing a role. I guess I just don’t have the vivid imagination to inhabit another character. There’s only one peculiar character I can do successfully on stage: Elliot Engel, Teacher-Lecturer. I did have one experience being in a high school play — well, two actually: my First and my Last. It was a minor role in Eugene O’Neil’s Ah, Wilderness!....

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Sharing My Sparklers

AAA Lighting Aardvark Repair Service Aardwissen, Lars Aarnet Design Aasinja, Meredith Those are the first five entries in the current Raleigh, North Carolina phone book. OK — you know I’m just playing with you. There is no longer any actual thick paperback city phone book here or probably where you live. They have all gone the way of the rotary-dial telephone. Well, I do see that you can download a PDF file of many city-specific old phone books just by using your magic iPhone. But if your iPhone incompetency matches mine, then accessing a PDF is about as likely as...

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Perish The Thought

I vividly remember when I was a lad of twenty-six (well, an old “lad”) and had just accepted an offer for my first academic tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor of English at North Carolina State University in 1975. I was told by the department chairman that my teaching and service to the department would be very important in my professional development.  But he also told me that I would soon need to have in place a contract signed by a publisher for an academic book which I would be required to write if I wanted to be assured of...

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E.E. Mail

There’s so much I like about email: first is the fact that its name derives from both my first and last initials. I’ve been sending E.E. mails since I licked my first stamp and envelope on a note that I arduously composed as a kid to my grandma and grandpa to thank them for my birthday gifts. And I can see that younger self right now using my tongue as much in the labored writing of the thank-you note as in the gluey fun of licking the stamp. Email is also, of course, the wondrous vehicle for Darian to deliver...

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My Biweekly Fix

I was starting this essay by writing about how much I have enjoyed sharing myself with you biweekly, and I suddenly realized that I wasn’t sure if “biweekly” meant twice a week or once every other week. I googled. Well, I’ll be darned — it actually means BOTH! Isn’t our mother tongue just incredible in her inconsistencies? And what I need to share of myself in this particular essay is my new role of Caregiver. As I typed “Caregiver,” I couldn’t help thinking that we are care-givers to people, but we are care-takers for animals and even for cottages. Isn’t our...

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