Order in Court
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   July 22, 2021

I’ve only been in court twice in my life, and the first time, in 1956, resulted in a jail sentence. I was 21, recently immigrated from England, and eager for new American experiences. Driving my first car, I had received a ticket for going over an occupied pedestrian crossing. (Since then, I’ve mostly been a […]

A Lifelong Intrigue When it Comes to Toys
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   June 24, 2021

There was a time when the very word “toys” was magic to me, and the idea of a big department store, with a whole section devoted to them, was probably as close as I’ll ever come in this life to conceiving Heaven. Of course, there have always been children at play — and children must […]

 

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How to be a Saint
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   June 17, 2021

Being brought up Jewish, I never learned much about being a Saint. At least one Hebrew prophet (Isaiah) made a mockery of the whole idea of any human claiming to be “holier than thou.” Of course, besides people, virtually every religion — even Judaism — has its holy places and holy objects, to say nothing […]

Go With the Flow
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   June 10, 2021

In one of my favorite movies, Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the Commander of a U.S. Air Force base is so crazy that he not only orders an atomic attack on Russia, but he believes that Fluoridation is an enemy attempt to poison our “precious bodily fluids.”  […]

Stick With Me
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   June 3, 2021

One of the expressions I remember from childhood playground banter would arise when somebody said something nasty to you, and you wanted to get back at them, with something equally derogatory. So, you would say: “I’m rubber, and you’re glue –Everything you saySticks back to you!” Or, if you wanted to be even more vicious, […]

Not My Kind
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   May 27, 2021

It is no accident that the words “kin” and “kind” are related — quite apart from the fact that Hamlet’s first words, “A little more than kin, a little less than kind,” refer to his ambiguous relationship with the man who has murdered his father and taken his place. Even today, there is understood to […]

Vital Signs
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   May 20, 2021

Many of the signs we see throughout our lives are telling us not to do certain things (whether we might want to do them or not). One of the most common says, “NO TRESPASSING” – although this might confuse some people, especially children, who are taught (as I was in public school in Toronto) to […]

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Hook, Line, and Stinker
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   May 13, 2021

One of my favorite parts of one of my favorite movies is the scene in Citizen Kane in which Susan Alexander, Charles Foster Kane’s “discovery,” is making her debut as a singer in the grand opera house he has built for her in Chicago. (Incidentally, I always wondered just what that opera is, and learned […]

No Stone Unturned
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   April 15, 2021

When you think of something permanent, what first probably comes to mind are the “everlasting hills,” or at least a piece of one, which we call a rock or a stone. That’s why we use stone to mark graves, which has the additional advantage that you can “inscribe” something on it. But of course, we […]

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No Bones About It
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   April 8, 2021

I thought it was a big deal, about three decades ago, when I got my first broken bone – after falling off my bike. But it was only the collarbone (clavicle), and only a “hairline fracture.” This, I knew, was one of the easiest bones to break, and one most likely to heal quickly, which […]

Long Division
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   April 1, 2021

In many marriage ceremonies, the couples swear to stay together “Till Death do us part” – and some manage to fulfil that vow, even though Death may be a long time coming. No similar oaths, that I am aware of, bind parents and their children – in fact it is assumed that, at some point, […]

Perish Prolixity
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   March 25, 2021

When I was first privileged to write this column, I was set a 750-word limit. I knew that I could go a few words over or under, and nobody would care. But I decided to make a game out of turning in exactly 750 words each time. What made this relatively do-able was that, unlike […]

Smile!
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   March 18, 2021

In our culture, the act of smiling has not always had a very positive image. Among great paintings, I can think of only one that would qualify. It’s called “The Laughing Cavalier” by Frans Hals (1624), but he is only smiling, not laughing. By the time of World War I, however, it was a different […]

Causes
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   March 11, 2021

One way to make life seem worth living is to find a cause you truly believe in, and devote yourself to it. It might be political – getting someone elected – or social – getting something banned or permitted – or religious – spreading your own belief, or disputing someone else’s. I myself have rarely […]

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