A few notes on Stanley Tucci’s new book

I recently read Stanley Tucci’s new book, “Taste: My Life Through Food.” I have never met him, and I probably never will, but I wanted to say a couple of things about this book, which I really did enjoy. First (and this is a pet peeve of mine), if you make a pun, it is intentional. When you write “no pun intended” or even the unnecessary “pun intended,” it just doesn’t make any sense. Give the reader credit for recognizing the pun and know that they will derive a sense of satisfaction from “getting it” without being hit over the head by the cue that means “get it?”
Second: as an actor, he ought to know the real definition of a vomitorium. It does not mean what he thinks it means here. Every theater and stadium has them. This term refers to the exits through which actors or audience members enter or leave, often just called “the vom.”
But nitpicking aside, at the end of the book Tucci writes about his almost perfect recovery from the cancer and treatment that altered his ability to eat somewhat normally. This really struck a chord with me, particularly this passage: “Whatever I ate had to contain a certain amount of moisture in or around it, otherwise it took quite a while to get it down my throat or I just couldn’t eat it at all.”
And further: “For everything that entered my mouth, I’d have to calculate what I’d need to augment it with in order to swallow it without without choking.” He writes about often preferring to eat alone, away from his family, due to his embarrassment or frustration about not being able to eat without fear.
I’ve written a few times about my similar reactions to eating after I had the surgery that removed a third of my palate and part of my upper jaw. The roof of my mouth is covered with a hard plastic appliance that covers up the hole, but doesn’t provide the moisture necessary for foods that require it in order to be thoroughly enjoyed. Also, because of lingering (and permanent) numbness in my front teeth and lips on one side, I can’t bite anything directly and also can’t feel if my food has landed where I intended it to go. All this is to say that Tucci put into words the very same things I have gone through and continue to deal with nearly four years after my jaw surgery.
When someone puts these complicated feelings into words and you have an aha moment reading them…well, I had to write about it. Thank you, Stanley Tucci. I hope you enjoy all the things you CAN eat from now on!

Patriotism, Politics, and Playing Ball Revisited, One More Time

Update: 2020. This is something I wrote in 2005. During the opening ceremonies at the World Series Game 2 in San Francisco in 2003, a giant American flag filled the field, held high by representatives of our armed services. A Marine who had lost both legs and an arm tossed out the first pitch. TheContinue ReadingContinue Reading

I Want a New Drug

I did write this, but I don’t remember why exactly. For a class I was taking? It was pre-legalization and pre-dispensaries, so there’s that. Anyway. Oh, the places you’ll go when you clean out your file drawers.     Alpha-Hendrixanol™ (as advertised in AARP Magazine) Developed by the Pheelgood School of Herbal Energetics Wouldn’t youContinue Reading

The Book of Leaves

April 6th, 2020 Closets and drawers have been weeded through and organized. Small repairs have been made here and there as we continue to shelter in place. After years of dreading the task,it was finally time to get out the big box of photos that had been languishing unsorted for decades, probably. On a dayContinue Reading

Books and More Books

  On a whim, I recently combed through my bookshelves and gathered together all the print books, anthologies and journals I have contributed to in some way: either as writer/ editor, beta reader, Kickstarter donor or friend. Some authors kindly added my name to the acknowledgements, which came as a pleasant surprise. The book IContinue Reading

It’s that time of year again.

Nu? So It’s Christmas

September 24, 1919

On this day, the one hundredth anniversary of his birth, here are the thoughts I jotted down to read at his memorial service in 2001. My dad was a teacher, and like many outstanding teachers, he never took time off from teaching. Sure, there were vacations and summers, but he was always on the job.Continue Reading

Bandon, Oregon

 I read this piece at the Octopus Literary Salon at an event that paired published authors with emerging writers. I wrote it in response to my partner’s piece, which touched on smoking, the wind, being young and making mistakes. I didn’t know right away how to respond, so I looked out the window and listened.Continue Reading

On the occasion of my sister’s birthday

It’s April 9th, my sister’s birthday. In what has become an annual tradition–for now anyway–I’m re-posting this edited version. Five years ago, in 2014, I was out of town at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and missed being here for her birthday. So I put together something special to make up for being away, becauseContinue ReadingContinue Reading

Playlist for March 22: A hip medley

If they allowed me a playlist for tomorrow, it would have to include these three tunes. Thanks for all the good wishes from near and far.