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September 2017
Vol. VII, No. 299

September 2017

The Best of Weekly Hubris

Golden laurel wreath worn by a Thracian princess from the Triballi tribe, from the Mogilanska Mound in Bulgaria’s Vratsa.

Golden wreath worn by a Thracian princess of the Triballi tribe, from the Mogilanska Mound in Bulgaria’s Vratsa.

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring: “How did the writers of ‘Weekly Hubris come together, readers often ask me? This month, I asked my Contributors to weigh in, in order of appearance in my life  . . . and they did! The hagiography was entirely unanticipated, by the way. I expected grumbling about my pedantry, constant importuning, and eccentric House Style: what I got was this outpouring of affection, which I return in full measure to this group of long-loved fellow writers.”

Jean Carroll Nolan: “We met twice, first time in—darned if I can remember —1964? 1965? We were in what is now called middle school, and both of us suffered from the nearly terminal self-consciousness common to people of that age. We were aware of each other as intellects, but ran with different crowds. Never intimate. The second meeting, 40 years later, was a virtual meeting, a result of online correspondence concerning our 40-year high school reunion and, as they say of jelly, that time it ‘set.

Adrienne Mayor: “I first encountered Elizabeths wonderfully engaging wit and deep Philhellenism in her column in ‘The Athenian, Greeces English-language magazine, I think in 1978-79, my first year in Athens. I also contributed some articles and cartoons to the magazine. In 1988, when she invited me to contribute something to her new journal, ‘The Southeastern Review, I was so honored. I leapt at the chance with an epistolary essay about my nascent hypothesis that the legendary Gold-Guarding Griffin might have been influenced by ancient nomads seeking gold in the dinosaur fossil deposits along the ancient Silk Route. Ive always been grateful to Elizabeth for publishing that tenuous piece, for it was instrumental in a book contract with Princeton University Press for The First Fossil Hunters.”

Elizabeth, Helen Noakes, and fellow Reiki Master, Tara Creaven, Santa Fe NM.

Elizabeth, Helen Noakes, and fellow Reiki Master, Tara Creaven, Santa Fe NM.

Helen Noakes: “When Elizabeth and I first met, in the 1980s, we were upside down, ‘relaxing into headstands in a yoga class in Athens, Greece. She looked coolly elegant in the pose. I prefer not to imagine how I looked.”

Michael House FRGS: “We met in 1988. I had moved to Greece in 1987 to escape from Mrs. Thatcher and in the vain hope of turning myself into a writer. Elizabeth was Deputy Editor of ‘The Athenian’ magazine, now sadly defunct. I guess I must have sent in a piece, or maybe I just turned up at the office. I met Elizabeth, rather in awe of her wonderful columns for ‘The Athenian’ and even more so when I met her in the flesh. She kindly gave me some commissions and I interviewed inter alia the leader of the Greek Left Kyrkos and the novelist and polymath Ralph Bates. She turned my scribblings into publishable prose, and I became a sort of a writer. We have been friends ever since.”

Diana Farr Louis, writer Judith Lawrence Blish, and Elizabeth, Athens, Greece.

Diana Farr Louis, writer Judith Lawrence Blish, and Elizabeth, Athens, Greece.

Diana Farr Louis: “I met Elizabeth in the late 80s in Athens when we were part of a team working on the new Penguin Guide to Greece, but we bonded in 1999 when we met on Corfu, serendipitously staying at the same hotel and each of us writing a guide to the island. We teamed up and went everywhere together. Our defining moment was when we found ourselves in a tiny village called Ano Korakiana (‘Upper Crow), which an existing guidebook acclaimed as having half a dozen exquisite churches. The trouble was the key to all of them resided with a custodian in Kato Korakiana (‘Lower Crow), whom we never did track down. It was a typical Greek moment and whenever either of us mentions someone or something as ‘coming from Ano Korakiana,’ we know there is no hope. We have been devoted friends ever since and I’m so glad she badgered me into joining Weekly Hubris back in 2010.”

Dean Pratt, Elizabeth, Ingrid Eisiminger and, standing, Dr. Sterling K. “Skip” Eisiminger, Pendleton SC.

Dean Pratt, Elizabeth, Ingrid Eisiminger and, standing, Dr. Sterling K. “Skip” Eisiminger, Pendleton SC.

Dr. Sterling K. “Skip” Eisiminger: “Let’s see—I was approaching the elevator in Strode Tower following a class in Clemson Universitys Daniel Hall when I noticed an attractive young woman standing alone beside the bubbler. I used a line I’d used before: ‘Waiting for Godot? She said, ‘No—streetcar named desire. Knowing I’d been outwitted, I decided to take the stairs, but Elizabeth and I have been friends ever since, despite her superiority.”

Claire Bateman and Elizabeth, Central SC.

Claire Bateman and Elizabeth, Central SC.

Claire Bateman: “I was honored to be Elizabeths office mate at Clemson, my first year teaching. I remember asking her how she managed to have such beautiful skin, and she said: ‘Hats. Her elegance, style, wide-ranging intelligence, and compassion, were immediately evident to all whom she encountered!”

Anita Sullivan: “I met Elizabeth about 12 years ago when I came across a copy of her wonderful book Greek Unorthodox, and discovered in the final chapter that she was the fiancee of Kevin Andrews at the time of his tragic death. A decade earlier, in the 1990s, I had read his The Flight of Ikaros, and judged it to be the very best of all the Greek travel essay books I was devouring at that time. To find someone who not only knew him, but also was a writer herself, was an amazing gift. I wrote to her about how much I was moved by her story, and we have been friends ever since.”

F. Theresa Gillard: “I think it was my fifth foray into higher education, whilst I was doing one of my career college student stints in the late 90s, that I met Elizabeth. In my early 30s, I was determined finally to finish. To prove it, I went back to where it all started, Anderson College in Anderson, South Carolina. Now, my experiences with professors had, till then, been nothing to write home about. Mostly, profs had despised me for . . . being me. At AC, though, I had two stellar profs, Elizabeth and Joyce Wood. These two visionaries allowed their students to excel, to move beyond the boundaries of their (and their professors) intellectual limits without blame, shame, or insecurity. Writing was and still is my thing (albeit mostly on hiatus these days). So, I always got the most pushback in my creative writing classes. Honestly, writing was so natural for me that it took me a while to figure out that I had a talent and should probably run with it. And, man did I run at AC. I knocked assignments out of the park without a bat or ball. One professor gave me an A- because he couldnt believe that I typed up my assignments five minutes before his class. He wanted to know my ‘process. According to Dr. We-Wont-Name-Him, I had to have a ‘process, because there was no way I had produced that sort of writing in five minutes. I explained that I meant that it only took me as long to write a piece as it took to type it, which varied, and could easily be less than five minutes. This truth did not help my case, obviously. EB-H, on the other hand, seemed teeming with intellect. And, for once in my life, I bounced off the wall of her sheer genius, and up. Like, I was dumbfounded. She was correctly correcting me. I was accustomed to proving those red marks on my papers were erroneous. I ain’t gonna lie: it was an instant crush. For me, EB-H is proof positive that we are all genuinely blessed to simply be. I am blessed that I have been able to share the same space and time with her.”

Konikoff, Deborah Grisorio, Dean Pratt, and Elizabeth NYC.

Konikoff, Deborah Grisorio, Dean Pratt, and Elizabeth NYC.

Ross Konikoff: “It happened 22 years ago next Wednesday, at the Local 802 Musicians Union Hall In New York City, where I leaned toward the trumpet player on my left and asked, ‘Who’s that dame over there, the one with the hair? ‘The fragile-looking one, near the door? I think that’s Dean’s old lady, he said. ‘There’s only one way to find out, I said, walking over. ‘Are you Dean’s woman? I asked, accusingly. ‘Who wants to know? Elizabeth shot back. I knew we would be good friends, never supposing just how good.”

Jerry Zimmerman: “There was nothing virtual about my meeting Elizabeth, being more hyper-real than most human contacts. My late wife, Rhona, was interested in a trip to Greece and my hair cutter in town (Teaneck) pointed me enthusiastically in the direction of E. This led to serious hijinx, including but certainly not limited to: knowing more about Greece than I ever thought I would; becoming more involved in the local and world-wide history of Yoga; starting a Yoga program with E as one of our teachers; big-band-jazz up close; personal and devoted support for Aikido and our Dojo; Reiki and other healing energies for me and Rhona; serious brow-beating until I agreed to do some art for baby ‘Weekly Hubris, which morphed into some tenuous writing, then morphed again into the delight and hell of really trying to get something down, for gods sake; a deep and treasured friendship; a continuing apprenticeship under an amazing editor (I never understood what an editor really did before: now I seriously know!); and countless weird and wonderful things. But I digress: I met Elizabeth over the phone.”

William A. and Ted Balk, Elko SC.

William A. and Ted Balk, Elko SC.

William A. Balk, Jr.: “Why do bars and intermediaries always have a place in my recounting of first meetings? My brother Ted had encountered Elizabeth and Dean in a favorite Clemson watering hole, and he’d been overjoyed to meet witty and wise conversationalists beyond the usual college town crowd. Teds a raconteur, so apparently his family were mentioned—Im not privy to the context, and for self-preservation, I have no intention of pursuing that. Nevertheless, one day I received a phone call out of the blue from Elizabeth, of course, about whom I had heard plenty myself. Our first time ‘meeting each other telephonically lasted more than an hour.”

David Christopher Loya: “I first encountered Elizabeth on Facebook when, in early 2011, one of my many progressive rants was provocative enough to earn her notice. She sent me a friend request, and thus began the most engaging conversation of my life. A year later, we met in person for the first time. I was returning from the Cannes Film Festival and stopped in New York for a few days. We met two other times upon my return from Cannes and, on the third visit, I finally was able to get to know her husband, Dean, who not only is among the greatest living jazz musicians on the planet, but a great guy–a true mensch. In Elizabeth, I have found a rare friendship that will last the rest of my life. The best thing yet to come out of this unlikely deep connection is the co-production of a significant, independent motion picture. Together we are working on a film based on her extraordinary erotic novel, The Visitors Book. The screenplay is now being written and the entire development package will be ready for presentation at this years (2017) Toronto International Film Festival. Creating The VisitorsBook with Elizabeth will be among the great achievements of my career; but most important, I am fortunate now to work with someone who is a member of that small remnant of humanity distinguishing itself as truly life-giving. (Besides, Elizabeth is good for my ADD! No one else deals with my non-linear thinking the way she can. She never misses a beat, has among the fastest cerebral processors Ive ever encountered and, for that alone, Elizabeth will always be among my favorite ‘bright and shiny objects.)”

Dr. William Ramp: “Our first meeting was brokered by a former brother-in-law who knew David Christopher Loya and, through him, Elizabeth and ‘Weekly Hubris. He suggested I might find kindred spirits there. Some months later, I made an impetuous submission and received back a courteous and reserved response to the effect that one does not submit to ‘Weekly Hubris; one commits. Just as impetuously, I committed. Since then, the two of us have undergone much travail over that commitment, but have, I think, become significant in each others lives for good or ill, all without ever meeting in person. I do treasure a couple of phone conversations in which, phone-phobic though I am, I reveled in Elizabeths lovely, lovely voice and diction. But all this is to digress. I have had the great good fortune to work with two legendary editors. From both, but especially from Elizabeth, I have learned that a good editor is the crowning achievement of modern civilization. And precious beyond rubies as friend, encourager, fellow-pilgrim, and saving scourge of writerly ego.”

Guy McPherson: “I met Elizabeth in the customary way for these times: virtually. Facebook brought us together. Our shared love of writing and ideas maintains our bond.”

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring & F. Theresa Gillard, Anderson SC.

This September, in a Best of ‘Weekly Hubris issue, we include work by 16 current and former Contributors: Wayne Mergler, Ross Konikoff, Claire Bateman, Dr. Guy MacPherson, Alexander Billinis, Jerry Zimmerman, Jean Carroll Nolan, Dr. William Ramp, Helen Noakes, Anita Sullivan, F. Theresa Gillard, William A. Balk, Jr., Dr. Skip Eisiminger, Diana Farr Louis, Michael House, and Elizabeth Boleman-Herring.

Eudora Welty, author of “One Writer’s Beginnings.”

Above The Timberline

“The Vanishing Storyteller (Best of WH),” By Wayne Mergler

ANCHORAGE Alaska—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 10/11/2010—The late, wonderful Eudora Welty wrote in her memoir, One Writer’s Beginnings, that she learned to be a writer mainly by listening, as a child, to the conversations of the adults around her. I was particularly moved by that description because I remember how much that kind of listening and absorbing was a part of my own childhood. In those days, in the South, before television seems to have ruined nearly everything, before air conditioning altered whatever TV missed, everyone used to sit on their front porches in the cool of the evening after supper. (Read more . . .)

Well, Tarzan, shall we?

Well, Tarzan, shall we?

West Side Stories

“Naked, We Walked the Earth for Six Days, but Lo, On the Seventh, We Dressed (Best of WH),By Ross Konikoff

MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 1/12/2015—It has been said that nudity is easy for the beautiful. While this may explain my wife, Deborah’s, abandon, my own fearlessness I attribute to denial and poor vision. Early on, Deborah and I discovered that neither of us was the least bit reluctant to unattire at a nude beach or a European-style spa. In fact, I enjoy being unveiled amongst other nudies, not for prurient reasons alone (my personal favorite) but simply because it feels strangely liberating. (Read more . . .)

They went up and up, ever smaller as they plumbed the darkness.

Speculative Friction

“Rising Time (Best of WH),” By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 12/9/13—One afternoon, three children playing in a back corner of their garden came upon a pair of large stone fingertips sticking up out of the soil and pressed closely together as if the hands were positioned palm to palm. So they all went to get their digging spoons, and set to work, the eldest with his sterling silver baby spoon from very long ago; the middle child with her sea-shell-shaped sugar spoon; and the youngest child with the runcible spoon.  (Read more . . .)

Message, preferably non-verbal, in a bottle.

Message, preferably non-verbal, in a bottle.

Going Dark

“A Letter to the Future (Best of WH),” By Guy McPherson

SAN ANTONIO Belize—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published in February 2017—I have a few suggestions, if you’re interested. But first, please accept an apology on behalf of my self-absorbed species. We left a helluva mess. Sorry about that. The mess is so bad, I’m surprised you’re here. We left a small world in our wake, populated with microbes, bacteria, fungi, and similar, “simple” life forms. You must’ve brought what you need to survive. Maybe it’s several million turns around the sun after the year we called 2018. Probably you’re self-reliant and way late to our little extinction party. (Read more . . .)

A purloined fig.

A purloined fig.

Roaming East Roman

“Stolen Figs, Stolen Spuds (Best of WH),” By Alexander Billinis

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 1/25/2016—I remember it well, particularly on a freezing day here in Chicago, though over three decades have passed. We anchored our boat at Molos, a small bay well south of Hydra town, where the only structures were the posh villas of several wealthy and discreet Athenian families. We often came there for a quiet swim, usually with air mattresses and our small dingy. My aunt and uncle were with us on this occasion, and Theio Niko, scanning one particular villa’s grounds, saw dozens of fig trees, heavily laden. Turning his sparkling Corfiot eyes my way, he said, “Alekaki, row me to the shore,” grinning as he stripped down to his Fruit-of-the-Loom tank top and same-brand tighty-whities: “We’re off to steal figs!” (Read more . . .)

Steve, Corey, and the author.

Steve, Corey, and the author.

Squibs & Blurbs

“A Tale of Three Brothers (Best of WH),” By Jerry Zimmerman

TEANECK New Jersey—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 11/22/2010—Admittedly, this is biased, but I’m pretty sure I have the two best brothers in the world. When I was younger, I assumed everyone had a happy family and that all the kids in a family fought and played, loved and hated each other, or got along or didn’t, depending on which week you happened to be talking about. My brothers and I were certainly all that and more, yet coming from a tight-knit and loving family, under it all, we knew we were family, with a capital FAM, not us-against-the-world but, rather, us-together-in-the-world. (Read more . . .)

Gabe hadn’t tasted honeydew, and had neither flashing eyes, nor floating hair . . .

Gabe hadn’t tasted honeydew, and had neither flashing eyes, nor floating hair . . .

More Light

“Light & Death (Best of WH),” By Jean Carroll Nolan

SEASIDE California(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 9/28/2015—Autumn has been both cruel and kind to me, over the years. Events as disparate as horse races, baseball campaigns and the births of children have been disastrous and heartbreaking or wondrous and full of delight. Life just happens, you know, a personal drama in which one is at once the protagonist and the audience. In 1976, on 7 November, I gave birth to twin boys, Gabriel Francis and Jacob Collis, each tiny and perfect and doomed by their eagerness to be part of the chaotic world outside the womb. They arrived a little more than two and a half months early, Jakesecond born, and a breach, who got beaten up during deliveryliving only ten hours, and Gabe digging in for four and a half days before returning whence he came, leaving me bereft and swollen with maternal love and milk. (Read more . . .)

Lake Erie, near Port Dover, Ontario.

Small Things Recollected

“Of Nostalgia & Going Sideways Beautifully (Best of WH),” By William Ramp

LETHBRIDGE Alberta, Canada—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 9/7/2015—Sometimes, it can be salutary to reflect on what one has written. When I look back at columns I’ve produced for Weekly Hubris over the past year, I note an unplanned thematic continuity: ambivalence about attachments; ambivalent relations to place, memory, and history, a certain courting and evasion of nostalgia. (Read more . . .)

It might be your heart.

It might be your heart.

Waking Point

“The Heart of the Matter (Best of WH)By Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris) —First Published on 7/6/2015—You go to the UCSF Clinic with an issue you think will be easily resolved. “My lungs feel tight,” you say to a doctor with a benevolent smile. “My sinuses are blocked. It’s difficult to breathe. It feels like a weight on my lungs, here.” You point to the center of your upper chest, hope that you are conveying your symptoms precisely, realizing that physical symptoms are as difficult to put into words as deep emotions, fear, epiphanies. You add, “It’s my allergies. An inhaler would probably do the trick.” (Read more . . .)

Immediately, my body began to shake beyond my control and my eyes filled with tears.

Immediately, my body began to shake beyond my control and my eyes filled with tears.

On The Other Hand

“The Physicality of Language: From Hand to Mouth (Best of WH),” By Anita Sullivan

EUGENE Oregon—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 1/4/2016—One evening, I sat in the audience at a poetry reading, waiting for it to start. Other people were talking quietly, but I wasn’t conversing or paying attention to individual words, only aware of the general hum. Then, from directly behind me, a voice began to speak slowly in a hoarse whisper: “Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote/The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,/And bathed every veyne in swich licour . . . .” The first three lines from the “Prologue” of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales were being spoken in beautiful Middle English dialect. (Read more . . .)

Blue, 1964 Chevy truck.

Blue, 1964 Chevy truck.

Status: Quo Minus

“The Blue Of John’s Daddy’s Truck (Best of WH),” By F. Theresa Gillard

BOSTON Massachusetts—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 8/20/2012—I wrote this back in 2001. My brother Brian and his best friend John were out in the yard talking and laughing like usual. I couldn’t hear their conversation. But, I did hear one phrase: “John’s Daddy.” Inspiration for this little tidbit. John’s Daddy’s Blue Truck. John’s Daddy’s blue 1964 Chevy truck was all I saw when I pulled up. A strong scent of honeysuckle enveloped me as I made my way to the grave. (Read more . . .)

Thomas Eakins’s “The Swimming Hole.”

Thomas Eakins’s “The Swimming Hole.”

Epicurus’ Porch

“Summers Remembered, Seasons Foreseen (Best of WH),” By William A. Balk, Jr.

ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 7/14/2014—With accelerating age and the passage of seasons, I seem to have developed an increasing appreciation for the pleasures of those three seasons other than summer. Nevertheless, I retain an almost boyish sense of awe and joy as summer arrives, an unmistakable urge to wander bare-shouldered and bare-footed in blazing sun and through splashing sprinklers. The cold black waters of the Edisto River, the briny taste of rolling Atlantic waves—summer’s temptations, for a boy, retain their untarnished appeal, if only in golden memory.  (Read more . . .)

“Tereska,” by David Seymour.

“Tereska,” by David Seymour.

Skip the B.S.

“The Farther You Go, the Better It Looks: Home (Best of WH),” By Skip Eisiminger

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 7/4/2016—Some might say, “A home divided cannot stand,” but few would say, “There’s no place like a house.” Indeed, one Nevada madam flatly stated, “My house is not a home.” No argument there. As a young man, the father of the novelist Ron Rash casually demonstrated the difference between house and home. Walking to his mill-village residence after he’d picked up the key, Mr. Rash realized that every house in the company-owned compound was identical, so when he reached “home,” he tossed an old boot onto the roof to identify it. I did something similar to the Model “A” Ford I once owned by painting it white. Wisdom begins with a roof, according to a West African proverb, but once the roof is up, the owner often wants to modify and decorate the floors and walls below. (Read more . . .)

The menu doesn’t have to be elaborate.

The menu doesn’t have to be elaborate.

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge

“Meals That Linger In The Memory (Best of WH),” By Diana Farr Louis

ANDROS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 7/28/2014—A week ago, a new friend and fellow writer, though about subjects far removed from food, asked me to tell her about the ten most memorable meals I’d ever eaten. The question started my mind racing back over countless lunches and dinners, but as I riffled through the images stored somewhere in my taste buds, we turned the discussion to what makes certain meals stand out from the ordinary. After all, eating is an act we lucky ones perform on average three times a day, and remembering them all would not leave much room for anything else.  (Read more . . .)

Iraklia advertising.

Iraklia advertising.

Polemicist on Holiday

“Iraklia Diary (Best of WH),” By Michael House, FRGSa

KINGS SUTTON England—(Weekly Hubris)—First Published on 3/31/14—I’m far from sure I want to share Iraklia with the world, but I promised Elizabeth, so here is the story from the beginning. At first, everything went perfectly. I arrived at Heathrow Airport early and deposited my luggage at Aegean Airlines’ very efficient check-in desk. I was well looked after on the plane by a nice flight attendant who might, perhaps, have chosen a less vivid shade of lipstick. We touched down at Venizelos Airport in the early evening, the sky cloudless, the late-September air pleasantly warm. The carousel was very slow—seven pieces of luggage made circuit after circuit in solitary splendor before a few companions appeared.(Read more . . .)

Prometheus in he act of “Hubris,” stealing fire from the gods.

Prometheus in the act of “Hubris,” stealing fire from the gods.

By Way of Being

“How We, at “Weekly Hubris,” Met,” By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

LIMBEAU Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—September 2017—How did the writers of ‘Weekly Hubris’ come together, readers often ask me? This month, I asked my Contributors to weigh in, in order of appearance in my life  . . . and they did! The hagiography was entirely unanticipated, by the way. I expected grumbling about my pedantry, constant importuning, and eccentric House Style: what I got was this outpouring of affection, which I return in full measure to this group of long-loved fellow writers. (Read more . . .)

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