Funny You Should Say That
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   September 7, 2021

The Library of Congress categorizes all published books which are submitted for registration, according to their contents. When my first book, I May Not Be Totally Perfect, but Parts of Me Are Excellent, was published, I had no idea how they would classify it. I had thought I was writing a new kind of one-line […]

Feeling Cornered
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 12, 2021

Little Jack Horner sat in the corner,Eating a Christmas pie;He put in his thumb,And pulled out a plum,And said, “What a good boy am I!” Your childhood probably included this “nursery rhyme.” But it provokes many questions: If Jack Horner really was a “good boy,” why was he sitting in a corner, which even today […]

 

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Idle Pleasantrees
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   August 5, 2021

A man named Joyce Kilmer managed to publish five books and have five children before being killed in World War I. But he is remembered only for one imperishable poem, called “Trees,” which concludes with the modest words: “Poems are made by fools like me,But only God can make a tree.” True enough, I suppose, […]

High, Neighbor
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   July 29, 2021

Until my early 30s, I had never smoked anything. In fact, the practice of smoking appalled me. Sometimes I’d be with a group of friends, and they would start smoking a cigarette of some kind, which they passed from hand to hand. They would invite me to join in, but I made it plain that […]

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 […]

Then and When,“Instead of Past, Present and Future, I’d prefer Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry.”
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   July 15, 2021

I am often asked (in my dreams) how I ever got to be so smart, so wise, so good-looking, so popular and successful. Then I wake up, and the only question in my mind is, how can I get through one more day, with this aging mind and failing body? Here I am, on an […]

Of Humans and Their Obsession with Heads
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   July 8, 2021

The practice of making an “either/or” type of decision by flipping a coin has a surprisingly long history. The Romans had coins with a ship on one side and the emperor’s head on the other, so their equivalent of “heads or tails” was “ship or head” – in Latin, “navia aut caput.”  It has always […]

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The History of Complaining
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   July 1, 2021

Many large businesses have or used to have “Complaint Departments,” where a specially trained employee deals soothingly with dissatisfied customers. To my knowledge, there is never a corresponding “Compliments Department.” The only approach I’ve ever seen to that idea has been an occasional jar labelled “TIPS.” In this online age, it can be much more […]

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, […]

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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 […]

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 […]

Weighty Matters
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   May 6, 2021

For some reason, our language associates heaviness with seriousness and importance. The very word “gravity” can convey both of those feelings. On the other hand, things that are relatively trivial are considered “light,” in the sense of having less weight. To make these matters even more convoluted, we now have the designation “lite,” – no […]

It’s the Law
By Ashleigh Brilliant   |   April 29, 2021

Quite apart from our legal system, there are so many laws in Science and Economics and other disciplines that it must have been inevitable for satirical “laws” to appear, usually commenting on the perversity of life as we experience it. Probably the most famous of these “laws” states (in various versions) that “If anything can […]

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