Editorials

With rain dripping down now and a similar forecast for several more hours, the weather makes a book review of “Fifty Words for Rain” an appropriate topic for this week.

For two weekends, you will have the chance to experience live one-act plays in Wayne County. Center Stage Theatre will perform One Acts 2021 at the Wayne County Museum on July 23-25. Spotlight Theatre will present A Night of One Acts at the Sabre Cinema on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base on J…

One of my most rewarding volunteer responsibilities is to organize a blood drive at St. Francis Episcopal Church on Thursday, July 22, a task I have done for the last six years. Becky Barclay’s excellent article on Friday, July 2, in this newspaper has inspired this look at blood itself and …

In preparation for Sunday and July 4, I have put the red, white, and blue wreath on the front door, set out the red and blue bath towels, and changed the table linens to flag-like placements. Besides displaying small flags on our church grounds, we will celebrate our country’s birthday this …

Adventure — summer seems to be the time for experiencing this word that originates from the Latin advenire, meaning “arrive”; and from the Latin adventurus, meaning “about to happen”; from the Old French aventure, a noun; to Middle English to Modern English. Its definition combines both Lati…

  • Updated

Now let us all praise these giants in children’s literature who have departed this earth but left a legacy of their works — Beverly Cleary, Eric Carle, and Lois Ehlert, all of whom died between March and May this year.

  • Updated

Several months ago, when I participated in Dr. Elliot Engel’s Shelf Improvement Book Club, I learned about the Trilby hat when we were studying Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca.”

  • Updated

Public employees work for you. Your taxes pay their salary. In fact you — every person reading this — have a right to find out what any public employee is paid.

  • Updated

As often happens, when I search for a topic, I turn to A.Word.A.Day, the website that discusses etymologies of words that have the same theme, defines them, and gives examples of their use.

  • Updated

Having just heard Dr. Elliot Engel’s lecture on F. Scott Fitzgerald at the Asheville conference, I was excited to attend the Center Stage Theatre production of “The Great Gatsby” last Sunday. The play captured perfectly the mood of the 1920s, an era of decadence, corruption, hopeless longing…

  • Updated

In late 2020, a veteran soldier was in a mental health crisis. Distraught, he left his home in the family RV, his wife convinced it would be the last time she saw him. A Charlotte-based veterans organization, The Independence Fund, who had provided suicide prevention training to him in the p…

  • Updated

On the third and last morning of the conference, “Blue Ridge, Biltmore & Blooms,” Dr. Elliot Engel presented “Exploring the Bounty and Beauty of North Carolina Poetry,” after first pointing out that while we have been speaking for 250,000 years, we have been writing for only 5,000 years.

  • Updated

The current school year has been the challenge of a lifetime. Online/virtual learning became an unexpected necessity. Many parents, whether they were prepared or not, had to balance busy work and home lives with helping their children with virtual school.

This writing is coming to you from Asheville, where my sister Marie and I are participants in a literary conference titled “Blue Ridge, Biltmore, & Blooms with Professor Elliot Engel,” occurring at the Renaissance Hotel near Asheville’s downtown and neighboring Thomas Wolfe House and Museum.

One of the many pleasures of substitute teaching in an English as a Second Language class in a local elementary school is the opportunity to learn from students whose parents have come here from Yemen, Palestine, El Salvador, and Mexico.

In trying to cull our books, I came across a small paperback entitled, “The Phrase That Launched 1,000 Ships,” by Nigel Rees, a 1991 publication from Dell Publishing’s Intrepid Linguist Library. Other titles in this collection include “Anguished English,” “Demonic Mnemonics,” “Get Thee to a …

The Easter season for Christians promised more rejoicing than ever as we seem to be moving out of our entombment in our homes for this long period of darkness called the pandemic into the bright light of salvation.

March has been the month for various celebrations, including National Reading Month, so here is a review of my recent reading — Tom Hanks’ collection of short stories, “Uncommon Type: Some Stories,” published in 2017. British reviewers panned Hanks’ first attempt at creative writing, but Ame…

Earlier this month, the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York, announced the nine women to be inducted for 2021. Inductees include former first lady Michelle Obama, soccer icon Mia Hamm, NASA’s first African American female engineer Katherine Johnson and PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi.

It’s Sunshine Week across America, a time when the public’s right to see government records and attend government meetings — in order to hold government officials accountable to the people who employ them — is traditionally celebrated.

In case you missed it on Monday, March 8, Happy International Women’s Day! Celebration of women’s concerns — everyone’s concerns — appropriately occurs in March as women worldwide have had to march, strike, protest, and otherwise campaign publicly to free themselves from oppression and to ga…

  • Updated

The state currently allows children to wed. It seems like an issue that is supposed to be nestled in the far corners of the world. That couldn’t possibly happen here, right?

When, why, and how did sentimentality get a bad rap? As a literature major, I soon learned that sentimental literature was judged to be manipulative and exploitative of our emotions: If a work of art moved people to tears, then it was somehow unworthy of cerebral or intellectual examination.…

Two playwrights, Arthur Miller and August Wilson, address tragic heroes in similar yet different ways in their plays, “Death of a Salesman” and “Fences,” both of which have been converted to film versions.

All you fellow lovers of the history and organization of English grammar: Prepare to lament if you don’t like the ways our language is changing and will continue to change. Herein lie predictions of the future, based on the ways people use grammar and on the ways we have been trained to teac…

  • Updated

My last column written for the News Argus was published on Feb. 2, 2020. During the seven years prior, I had frequently written a February piece to coincide with Black History Month.

What a nice coincidence if you are reading this column on Valentine’s Day which inspires its subject of love, that many-splendored thing, or as some wags have it, that many-splintered thing! Whatever it is, it makes the world go ‘round, it’s blind, it’s the ambassador of loss, it’s a kind of…

Watching “The Long Song” on PBS Sunday night coincided with my reading the autobiography “Twelve Years a Slave,” by Solomon Northup. In addition, I am substitute teaching in an eighth-grade classroom where we are beginning a study of black leaders and Abraham Lincoln during Black History Month.

Amid the political turmoil of these past years, many word-lovers have deplored the misspellings on protesters’ signs as they demonstrate, giving rise to accusations and blame directed against the American educational system.

When do words matter? You might reply, “All the time,” and you would be right. On Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, our president’s words incited a riot, despite the declaration from a Cary woman in the crowd of protesters who said he didn’t urge the crowd toward the Capitol where he “would be with t…

You have to be a nerd like me to enjoy websites like the one from Merriam-Webster that posts “8 Ways for Being Quiet” and other language tidbits that fascinate — or not. The months that begin the new year seem to be the “quiet” ones except for noisy Valentine’s Day in February and noisier St…

Despite travel warnings, I needed to see our grandsons and daughter and sisters during the holidays, visits which entailed driving to Virginia during which I encountered a snow shower that in some areas created a Currier and Ives prettiness. Both my stay in Fairfax and in Gloucester involved…

The plan was to write a recap of 2020. But then I thought who wants to start a new year by looking back at one so terrible? Instead, I decided to look onto 2021 with what we learned from the previous year.