My grandfather never talked about the war.

We knew he was a veteran. Years after he died, our town hung banners honoring veterans of World War II and he was among them.

The banner showed a picture of him in uniform, long before my mother and her siblings came along.

“Horace Geier — 1920–1999”

No one ever called him “Horace.” Most people called him “Buck,” and Buck knew seemingly everyone in town. Ten-minute excursions to pick up milk at the store turned into hour-long odysseys, as he stopped to talk to everybody he ran into.

He’d lived in the town…

Bill Fisher was a comic book guy. But he wasn’t THE Comic Book Guy.

As in, he wasn’t that guy from The Simpsons, the bitter, sarcastic gate-keeper.

And maybe that’s because Fisher’s News Agency wasn’t a comic book store, just a place I went to get comic books.

Fisher’s was a cramped storefront in Ashland, the town where I grew up. They sold newspapers and magazines and candy and soda and and used paperbacks.

But I went there for the comics.

I don’t remember when exactly I started going there. Sometime in high school. …

The new priest came just before Christmas, in the last year of what they would call the Great Famine.

It began with the rain, more rain than anyone could remember, unending storms that left the fields choked with useless crops.

All over the country, people had slaughtered their livestock. People lived on tree bark and grass, on sad bits of bread, on roots and on nettles. An old hermit lady would sometimes bring apples to the village from some secret orchard, no one knew where.

There were stories of people who had eaten their pets, their babies, their dead. Fat…

In the summer, at night

My dad would sit in the yard

He’d open a beer, usually beers

And we’d sit on lawn chairs

And look up at the sky.

We’d hear the chirrups of crickets

And the occasional dog

And sometimes Ed from next door would say hi

And sometimes my brother would join us

But mostly it was just us

And the crickets

And the hum of planes overhead,

Their lights red, winking at us as they crossed the yard

We’d guess where they might be headed

North to Boston, east to New York, west to Pittsburgh


As a kid, Coleman Winstead would daydream about what he would do to survive if he got stuck on a deserted island.

The first order of business would be finding water. He’d trek inland, where he’d discover a freshwater spring bubbling out of a mountain cave.

Next would come food, which in Cole’s dreams always came down to unnamed tropical fruits — papaya? mango? — that grew all over the island or the meat of wild pigs, which he’d hunt with a sharpened stick.

He’d also use sticks — and possibly rocks — to make a fire. The fire would…

I’m about to move out of the apartment where I’ve lived for more than 17 years, and that means I’ve been unearthing a lot of stuff I’d forgotten.

Sometimes it’s good (old photos, letters from friends) and sometimes it’s not so good (why do I own TWO collections of Dennis Miller’s Rants?).

I also came across a bunch of old stuff I’d written, including some regrettable attempts at crime fiction, and a few poems.

I don’t write poetry as much as I used to, and was surprised to find that a few of them were…well, not painful to read.


Every time there’s a school shooting — and how horrific is it that school shootings are an “every time” thing — pro-gun people offer up the same solution: teachers should have guns.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t the answer.

I’m not saying that I don’t trust teachers to have guns. I’m just saying there are lot of teachers I can remember who I’m glad did not have guns.

Father Kovacs, sophomore year theology — When my brother was in his class, he forced the kids to watch a three-hour documentary on the Catholic mass, spread over maybe three or four…

My mom, like a lot of people, has an Amazon wishlist. And while there aren’t a lot of people with my mom’s name, there are enough that finding hers was a little confusing, at least at first.

Still, I know my mom pretty well, and was able to ID her list by process of elimination. (I ended up getting her books, which is what I get most people.)

Here are some of the things my mom runs the risk of receiving for Christmas from people who don’t take the time to do what I did.

  • A 15-minute analysis of a…

On a Thursday evening five days before Halloween, Julia Ennis walked into her parents’ house and found a man-sized doll sitting at the kitchen table.

She yelped and dropped the book she’d been carrying. It sounded like a thunderclap in the empty house.

They stared at each other, a woman who hadn’t played with dolls in 20 years, and this lifeless pale thing dressed like a car salesman, in a pair of khaki slacks and a green polo shirt.

The doll was leaned forward, its arms were folded across the table top, as if it were listening to a very…

By Tom Coombe and Liam Garrett

Few companies have dominated the headlines more than Amazon this year. They bought Whole Foods, introduced their new Echo and unveiled plans to plant a multi-billion dollar second headquarters somewhere in the U.S.

Then came Tuesday’s announcement about Amazon Key, a new service that allows the company’s delivery workers to access customers’ homes with the help of a smart lock and Amazon’s Cloud Cam.

Essentially, it allows couriers to access your home, so you no longer have to worry about packages sitting unprotected on your front porch.

It might have you wondering: What else…

Tom Coombe

It's not heavy, it's awkward.

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