“Adverbs are radioactive.”

That’s what my son says. He should know. Most of his babysitters were Ph.D. candidates in English, and now he teaches English at a community college in Orange County. One of the classes he teaches is English 99, which is pre-Freshman Comp (English 101). Nearly all of his students are still learning English, but they don’t know quite enough to cope with English 101.

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Fussbudget Editor

I’m a major fussbudget when I’m editing.

As I edit, I am fairly conservative about our language. I believe that we should respect its history and construction. That is, if there’s already a word that works, it may not be necessary to make up a new one (unless we do it for a specific purpose). Some years ago, for example, I campaigned on a listserv against the word “gaialog.” Using this stupid word instead of “dialog” to indicate women talking made me crazy.

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I’ve read Shakespeare. All of Shakespeare. (And, yes, I can sing along with Cole Porter’s “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.”) My M.A. and Ph.D. major was English Renaissance literature with an emphasis on the drama. That means Shakespeare and that bunch—his friends and rivals. I’ve also read a lot of Elizabethan and Jacobean history and Shakespeare criticism. Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed by living actors, and that’s why I prefer productions with actors on stage, either live in front of me or on DVD. I have, in fact, a whole shelf of DVDs of Shakespeare’s plays, plus the big box of all 37 plays as produced by the BBC in the early 1980s. I once spent a month watching them all and wrote a blog about it.

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Finding New Goddesses

Finding New Goddesses by Barbara ArdingerYou have no doubt noticed that spiritual and religious writing is almost without exception Highly Serious. But look at the standard-brand monotheistic holy books, mainstream metaphysics, Eastern wisdom, channeled “wisdom,” books on philosophy and meditation—hardly a smile in any of it, never a giggle. “This is Deep Thought,” the earnest and learned ones seem to be telling us. “Our Religion Is Nothing To Laugh At.”

Why not? What on earth (or in the various heavens and hells) is so holy that we can’t make fun of it?

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Stepping Into The 21st Century…

“Mother, it’s time for you to join the 21st century.” This is what my son has been saying for twelve or thirteen years. He said it again a day or two ago. I’ve heard him every time. Gee whizzly—I know it’s a new century. Didn’t I work on a Y2K project?

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The Witches That Fill My Home

I’m not sure when I started collecting witches. I remember going to a public ritual in 1988 or ’89 and seeing someone with a beautiful witch. “Where’d you buy her?” I asked. I went to the same store the very next day. Now I have (I think) 350 witches (not including me and not including the witch doll who rides in the back seat of my car with her own seatbelt). For a long time I thought I had about 200, but when I was interviewed a few years ago, I did a witch census.

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