Elliot's Essays

Words of a Feather

Perhaps a few of you — as I did — fell under the spell of Jim Fixx's bestselling The Complete Book of Running, which was published in 1977, and so you too began jogging for regular exercise. Having been an exceptionally unathletic child, I was not a natural runner. A former friend once observed me jogging past his house in my coral-colored running shorts and described my unique ungainly style as that of an "arthritic flamingo." Yes, it was at that very moment that he became "former."  When poor Mr. Fixx was found dead seven years later of a massive heart attack by the...

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Just Call Me Chip

Here I sit at my iPad in late December, ready to begin my January 17 essay for you. For some reason, no topic has come to mind during these last few days, so I figured that my lying here on my comfy den couch, iPad poised on my holiday-inflated stomach, would inspire me. I figured wrong.   Am I, for the first time, in the deadly throes of… Writer’s Block? No! My topic has just arrived on the wings of desperation. I shall write on that most elusive of topics: writer’s block itself. And I can definitely trace my knowledge...

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Stocking Boy

Because my father owned a women’s hosiery store, I found myself employed during junior and senior high summer vacations at his Midwestern Hosiery Company. Being able to call my boss 'Dad' had its advantages. My hours of work were basically from when I wanted to appear (10:00 a.m. seemed congenial) until Dad ran out of busy work and sent me home, much to the relief of both of us. By my high school years I had requested a more creative position than a mere stock-boy stocking stockings. (I've been a connoisseur of awful puns for over sixty years now.) When pantyhose...

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A Dickens of a Christmas

Poor Charles Dickens. Here is an author who seriously remarked: “In a hundred years I hope to be remembered as the man who wrote Martin Chuzzlewit.” Martin who? Sorry, Charles, it’s now been way over a hundred years, but Mr. Chuzzlewit has become a literary casualty of the Missing-In-Inaction variety. Did Dickens happen to mention a second work that he hoped would bring him immortality? No, he did not — which is so odd given the fact that he made the prediction in 1843 when he was not only writing the now neglected CHUZZLEWIT but also had just finished one other...

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Spotlight ON Professor Engel

I was reading an article last week about an on-the-job death where a man trying to deliver newspapers to subscribers during a tropical storm was killed by flying debris. The freak accident was bad enough, but the journalist saved the truly tragic coup de grâce for the last sentence: “He leaves behind a wife and three young children.”    I realize that the odds of my own tragic on-the-job demise are quite slim. I suppose I could be at a podium in an auditorium in which an enormous spotlight has been faultily installed above center stage where I stand lecturing on...

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