Quickie Grammar Musts

For those of us who want to put our best foot forward, the most crucial step would be to brush up our grammar as well as our Shakespeare. I've  often written in these pages that we should require the diagraming of sentences in all our public schools. But lack of interest in grammar has already gone on so long that many of the teachers themselves don't appear to care about the difference between an adjective and an adverb. 

Diagramming sentences was required in public schools when I was a girl. Miss Posterino at the Saugatuck Elementary School in Westport, Connecticut was my second-grade teacher. She got married that summer and in my third grade she continued to hammer her very valuable knowledge into my little brain as Mrs. Chirapa. Mrs Chirapa is why (and how) I became a writer. 

I wrote a book a half century ago that was published by Simon & Schuster; my editor, Richard Kluger -- who had been the last literary editor of the New York Herald Tribune -- said I  had made only one grammatical error. I tended to use "like" when I should have used "as," (or vice versa). Since I've grown up (grown old!), I've come to realize how essential proper English is for understanding yourself, also. The difference between a subject and an object, for example, is the difference between one who acts and one whom is acted upon. Yet I spoke to a 13-year old boy last week who told me his teacher said they don't use "whom" anymore at his school. 

A complete sentence has a subject and a predicate. (A noun and a verb.) An adjective may modify or describe a noun but an adjective may not modify a verb. So you would not wish to say that you paint real well; you would prefer to say that you paint really well. ("Ly" added to the end often turns an adjective into an adverb ) For that matter, you wouldn't wish to say that you paint really pretty, either. Pretty is an adjective.  •  Barbara Waterston, November 22, 2019

Old Fashioned

I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’m old school. Growing up was a time when if you had a fierce headache, for example, it wasn’t necessary to share that fact with others. You could . . . but a headache was nothing to brag about. We shouldered our problems as best we could and tried to share our strengths, not weaknesses, with those we came into play with during the course of our days. We would rarely admit it when our feelings were hurt. There was a song that was popular then called “Keep Your Sunnyside Up.” Another popular song was “Smile Though Your Heart Is Breaking.” You get the idea.

But nowadays in this upside-down world, it has become positively de riguer to accuse others of not treating you with kid gloves. People – many people – have lost their  jobs and reputations for using the “n” word, for example. (I have never used the “n” word and do not condone the use of it.But people should not be losing their jobs over a single word.) And to believe in traditional marriage is considered “hate speech.” To speak of such things “trigger” “un-safe” responses that are not their fault. (They are your fault.) Just yesterday, or some time this past week, apparently, a bill was introduced or passed in Massachusetts calling “the ‘B’ word” illegal. 


And a seven year old boy in Texas, until last week, was receiving treatment to turn him into a girl. His mother dressed him in dresses and polished his finger nails. No actual operation was performed, thank God . . . (Yes! THANK God. God created that child. Don’t imagine that you know better than God what sex he should be.) I called the Texas governor and left a message that allowing this was child abuse. And apparently he agreed. The judge in this family’s court case decided that both parents would have to agree in order for that to happen.

The Catholic church requires a marriage to be consummated to be official. The husband must be capable of transferring his semen into her body, without benefit of artificial insemination.

Believe me when I say that a man, in order to master that job if you will, must be up for the job. He must be at least her equal spiritually. Otherwise it will not happen.

Marriage is difficult enough. You don’t want to have to be cooperating for fifty years with some schlemiel who is unworthy of you. It is the test that must be passed; otherwise the marriage is annulled.

Now Pope Francis is considering the idea of allowing married men to be priests. I am against that for two reasons. First, I must explain that I have been celibate for almost forty years. What celibacy has done for me is to allow me to love – to truly love – many people. When I was sexually active, the person I was having relations with was special. The rest of my time (I exaggerate to prove the point) was waiting for that special time. Now, if you walk into my “movie," you have my attention. You are special, too.  

The second reason is that a woman shouldn't need to worry whether or not her priest or minister has ulterior motives while she is baring her soul in the confessional. • Barbara Waterston, October 27, 2019

Everything is at Stake

"Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" -- 2 Corinthians 6:14

What I can't figure out is how anyone at all could vote for a Democrat. What have they got to offer? All a senator has to do is zip it . . . and do what Chuck Schumer says. Schumer Says . . . Schumer Says . . . And in lockstep, salute and/or bow to him and give up common sense, so our American Congress can change the United States of America into North and Central America. And it will all turn into Venezuela.

The Dem Lems are Socialists. Republicans are not. The Dem Lems (you figure it out) love Kumbaya and open borders and gooey feelings. They want all the children to get trophies. They want everything sugar and spice and perfect. 

They don't approve of hurt feelings. They think girls should be believed. Socialists believe in quotas and that all people are not merely born equal, they stay equal The ideal is AVERAGE. There is no such thing as excellence. Everyone lives in ticky-tacky Monopoly houses/LeFrak City/cookie-cutter condos). 

Just remember this: if there hadn been the carpetbaggers, there wouldn't have been the Newport, Rhode Island mansions. I'm just sayin' . . . If you're thirsty for beauty, it's got a better chance in Capitalism. Competition. Vote for Capitalism today. 

To choose Capitalism is to choose at least the possibility of excellence. I went to Staples in 2009 in search for a fountain pen. They only sold medium nibs. THEY ONLY SOLD MEDIUM NIBS! That horrified me.

I like President Trump because he's different. (Like Louis Armstrong.) And he gets it done. And on time and under budget. And the Dems'll destroy his dreams for the wall.  • Barbara Waterston, November 6, 2018 

John McCain: A Grand Adventure

His wife tweeted that her marriage of 38 years had been an adventure. His daughter said that he loved her and she loved him and that he showed her what it is to be a man. But this was a maverick! Aren't mavericks supposed to be "bad boys?" (Though he told Fox News that he thought of himself more as a fighter.) He told lots of people over the years to "do the right thing." The right thing was what he fought for his entire life. 

After surviving his plane being shot down during the Vietnam war, John McCain was held in solitary confinement for three years at the "Hanoi Hilton" (prison). Then, his having come from a famous military family, his captors offered to let him go -- though the other prisoners who'd survived would have to stay on. John McCain refused the early-release offer and remained with his fellow American soldiers. That's doing the right thing. That's what it is to be a man. A man shoulders things. A man soldiers on. 

But didn't Maureen Dowd write a book called Are Men Necessary? a decade ago? The more recent MeToo movement rightly demands respect and the Harvey Weinsteins of the world are beyond filthy and disgusting, granted. But what about due process? And, frankly, the girls could have quit. No job on earth is worth being forced to watch a big fat pig masturbating into a potted plant.

But are we trying to change human nature with a law? Men need to be needed. We don't have to be the same as men. I don't want to be a football player. I think women want the back and forth . . . the ballet . . . the beauty, which without men, in my humble opinion, is impossible.


John McCain taught us, too, what it is to be a man. When he cancelled his medical treatment a day before he died, I tweeted: "Thank you for your example and thank you for your service." • Barbara Waterston, August 26, 2018

A Genius and a Gentleman

Tom Wolfe died earlier this month, God rest his soul. He was a very kind man. He was at the New York Herald Tribune when I was there, though he was a reporter in the news room. I was a “fashion reporter” on the seventh floor. He was the founder, really, of the “New Journalism.” He wrote news the way you’d write a novel. He made it interesting. He brought it home. He put the news in a time and place. To the who, where, when, why, and how he added place (which is somehow more specific than mere where), and zeitgeist and attitude. His first attempt at fiction many years later (“The Bonfire of the Vanities” which turned out to be a best-seller and a movie starring Tom Hanks and Melanie Griffith), had me laughing out loud at a coffee shop on page one. 

How to explain the difference between Tom Wolfe humor and, say, Saturday Night Live humor? But even Saturday Night Live humor has changed somewhat of late. The Dana Carvey George H.W. Bush and the Ford pratfalls aren’t as killer-schadenfreude as the Alec Baldwin Donald Trump. (When did mean-spirited become de humor rigueur? Did it begin back when Joan Rivers called Liz Taylor fat?)

Wolfe dared to talk about class, maintaining a bit of Episcopalian distance. Formality.  He was, before anything else, a Southern gentleman. He found the way to tell the truth without pouring salt in the wound and saw, if not humor exactly, the irony in everything.

When I was still living in New York and after the Tribune had long-since closed its doors, Tom Wolfe lived around the corner from me. From time to time we’d bump into one another on the street. We would chat for five minutes and be on our way. We never had a coffee together or anything but I liked and certainly respected him and I thought he liked and respected me. So once living up here in Rhode Island, just after I began to publish Providence magazine, I wrote and asked him to write something — 500 words on anything at all. He wrote back saying he wished me well with Providence magazine, but no could do. He had a “ferocious deadline” gaining on him. But somewhat later, months — maybe a year or so? — Richard Merkin sent me an invite to one of his art openings with a catalog, the introduction to which was an essay by . . . yes . . . Tom Wolfe! So pushy little I, of course, grabbed the opportunity to ask if I could publish it. (He had, after all, already written the thing . . .)

I still have the piece of paper my answering service at the time left for me: Yes, Tom Wolfe (misspelled) says you may publish it.

He wrote every day: ten pages triple-spaced, no matter how long it took. They say it’s best to write quickly (whoever they are). (Earnest Hemingway was one of them. He said to write as fast as possible. You can always edit later.) (I’ll sleep when I’m dead.)

I think it was Mark Twain who said the difference between a good-enough word and the perfect word is the difference between a lightning bug and lightning. Tom Wolfe was lightning. 

• Barbara Waterston, May 29, 2018

Imagine Love. Imagine That.

John Lennon put it into his will to make Yoko Ono an official author of the song, “Imagine” which some call his finest single. It was finally decided to do so by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) last June at a ceremony.

I interviewed Yoko Ono for “The American Woman,” a weekly public affairs radio show I hosted for WPLJ, the ABC FM affiliate in New York City, during the time John and Yoko were separated and he was living with their assistant May Pang in Greenwich Village, sometime in 1973 or 1974.

 She said, ”It’s for each of us as women to imagine it (things)differently. Look at George Orwell's book,1984. It’s a male fantasy that is already coming true. Can't we do better than that?” 

What are you projecting? Are you asking for trouble? Are you full of fear? Because I think words tend to come true . . . 

Dr. Sigmund Freud told us the conscious mind is only “the tip of the iceberg.” He said that we are controlled by our subconscious. Does that mean we are powerless to forge our own paths forward? And that there is no such thing as self-determination? Are we really mere victims of circumstance? I disagree with Freud. I think we are here on earth to be tested. And depending on how well we overcome each situation determines not only our own future but also adds to the collective situations of our families, friends and neighbors. 

“. . . You may say I’m a dreamer. . . But I’m not the only one

I hope one day you’ll join us, And the world will be as one.” 

 by John Lennon & Yoko Ono  

● Barbara Waterston, November 7, 2017

Say What?

What do we tell our kids? “We live in America. That means that if you work hard enough, you can be president of the United States! (So you can be humiliated in front of your own family and the entire world, and your reputations, too, may be demolished if your mother or father wins that position. That honor. You will be laughed at; you will be ridiculed. The New York Bloody Times will tell bold-faced lies about you. 

You try to stand it; you try to stand up straight and go on and do your job, that which you promised those who voted for you . . . but the mainstream media keep kicking you in the stomach and scratching your eyes out. 

So more and more of your time is spent in a defensive posture: “No, I didn’t say that! I didn’t do that! Leave my daughter out of it!” You have nowhere to turn. Your very administration is out to get you. The “Deep State” (those who have worked for the government for years, who are meant to be neutral from all politics, are figuring out little ways to undermine you. They illegally “unmask” (identify) people in the intel agencies and leak their names and secrets to The New York Times and Amazon’s Washington Post (who in turn publish unattributed articles.) So you can’t trust your goddam secretary! You are alone on this planet with your creator, and if you’re a non-believer, you are now an island, like it or not. Maybe you’ve got a loyal wife; let’s hope so. But basically it’s you and your Bible. You’d better get a dog.

Every day there’s a new violation, a new deliberate misinterpretation. Before not long at all they’re calling you a racist. A Congresswoman from the state of Misery (oops. I meant Missouri) last week called for President Trump’s ASSASSINATION.


My dear children, it’s the world we have left you. Strive to be the leader of THAT!  •  Barbara Waterston, August 20, 2017

I Hate the Tweets, Too.

I hate the Tweets, too. Some of them . . . Most of them . . . But I think President Trump is a foreign-policy genius. And he has already righted the ship economically,  on Wall Street here at home, anyway. And served notice to the whole world that we are no longer Mr. Nice Guy. Contrary to 19 of the G-20 nations, exiting out of the Paris Accord wasn’t an anti-environment action; it was a we’re-not-a-sucker-any-longer gesture. We’ll rejoin when the others pay their fair share. 

President Trump has articulated how destructive the so-called Iran Deal was. We essentially paid for the recent North Korean intercontinental missile test because we gave hundreds of millions delivered in CASH -- already laundered -- in the dead of night by unnumbered jet airplane  to Iran, who is in bed with North Korea. Why did Barack Obama do this to our country? (I prayed every night of the last years of his presidency that he wouldn’t close GITMO down.) (Three guesses which his father was: Shiite or Sunni. First two don’t count. Hint: Iran is Shiite.)

Then two weeks before the inauguration, President Obama (at that time still president) tore down the walls between all seventeen of our intel agencies (heretofore secretive and as competitive as Harvard and Yale, or say Army and Navy). So now they shared secrets one with the other; if you wanted to find out who among the embedded Deep State employees leaked information to the press – while it had already been like searching for a needle in a haystack, it was now a search for a needle in a pile of needles! Why did President Obama do this? And why only sixteen days before leaving office?

So along comes President Trump’s inauguration, and the next day the “Nasty Girls” in their Pussy hats bragging about wanting to blow up the White House and such.

Can you blame President Trump (who by this time had been given the message from the mainstream media that they don’t like him) for fighting back with the only weapon he had? (The Tweets.)

Now, of course, we’ve got the Donald Junior twenty-minute June 2016 appointment problem, not to mention the Qatar problem and the healthcare problem. Expect more Tweets ahead . . . 

  Barbara Waterston, July 12, 2017

Yet They're Threatening To Impeach!

Sunday, President Trump delivered an historic speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to more than fifty leaders of mostly-Muslim countries about the scourge of terrorism that has touched the entire planet, and reared its ugly head again just yesterday in Manchester, England. He didn't use the dreaded-by-Barack Obama term (“radical Islamic extremist") but he pulled no punches, either. His speech not only mentioned that this was about good versus evil, the Saudi leader who introduced him said the exact thing, too. 

I'm not saying that Saudi Arabia is any great example of American values. Women still can't drive there. They still have to cover themselves from tip to toe. It used to be illegal, punishable by death, to carry a Bible into the country, and if you're an American married to a Saudi and make the mistake of bringing your child in there, too, when you go for a visit, if your husband decides he misses it and wants to move there, if you want to return to America you need his written permission to leave at all. And be prepared to leave your child behind, because he now has -- by having entered the country -- dual citizenship. And in Saudi Arabia, your child is legally considered a Saudi. He is whatever your husband wants him to be.

But President Trump wasn't there to deliver a lecture. Not there to judge. He was there to extend an invitation for a partnership in which each of the more than fifty countries would fight for their own traditions and values, and so would we. He is not apologizing for being an America-first president. Is THAT the garlic to the stew? The missing ingredient? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday after POTUS left Saudi Arabia for Israel, that he felt an actual possibility for Middle East peace.

 But this morning on Morning Joe (MSNBC), Joe Scarborough was sticking with Mika . . . They're engaged, after all . . . And Mika as we all know has no time for Trump. Even in silence, she's screaming "Impeach!" • Barbara Waterston, May 23, 2017