Author Archives: Art

Now that’s a gentleman!

It was a great feeling, reading the letter by a true gentleman. And maybe a scholar too, who wrote articulately, in a balanced manner and laid the blame at the altar of politicians.

Let me explain:

The letter writer’s identify is still a secret, but we do know that he’s a wrestler from Rio Grande High School in Albuquerque who was in the middle of an exam at the time the court case he was involved in was taking place. That made it impossible for him to attend the court hearing; his attorney read the letter for him. Continue reading

Curses! It’s cursive

Remember the days of yore when people used to write? We’re talking about writing in two senses: writing a letter, for instance, and also using our pencils and pens to help us create messages someone else could read.

Being a left-hander sort of excused me from winning or even competing in any penmanship sweepstakes at Immaculate Conception School, as our homeroom teacher in third grade, Sister Mary Plena Escritura would usually say, “What can we expect from Arthur? After all, he’s a left-hander.”

So naturally, vowing never to attempt a job that required writing things by hand, I ended up in journalism. One day, when working in Gallup, N.M., I came across an issue of Editor and Publisher, the trade publication for people in journalism and scanned a column titled “Who writes the most?” I wasn’t surprised that in those days, the early ’60s, the honor went to desk sergeants in police stations, who needed to field countless phone messages every day. Continue reading

The process or the product

The Internet has made it easy to get information. I was using Google, the main search engine, on many computers, long before it became a verb in its own right, as in “I’ll Google that information.”

A man who influenced me during my many years on the Highlands University faculty was also my major professor as an undergraduate, John Adams, who I wish I could have influenced as much as he did me.

Let me explain:

The late English professor simply eschewed modern technology, which he called gimmicks. If, in a fit of nostalgia or trivia, or simply chewing or shooting the fat or the bull (he would have said “masticating the bovine”), I happened to ask him, for example, to cite a passage from John Dryden, I believe he’d have taken the trek to Donnelly Library to find out. Continue reading

Toemaine poisoning

There’s no accounting for some people’s tastes — literally. Take the case of the Santa Fe man who for the third time has been charged with attempted atrocities on the foot of an ex-girlfriend.

The last time, earlier this month, Daniel Anaya was arrested after the woman reported that he attacked her after tracking her down in her new home in Albuquerque. Police say Anaya allegedly tried to cut off her big toe with a cigar cutter.

The ex-girlfriend fought him off by jabbing his back with a fork. Fortunately for the woman she’s all right, even if in an earlier fetish-driven attack, Anaya succeeded in biting off her toe nail. Continue reading

Let’s hear it for sobriety

The plan was to make this my last column. Yes, the idea was to end on this topic, ideally with Column No. 1000, which would have been during the first few months of 2022. Figure, 52 columns a year (I’ve never missed a week!); today’s column is around No. 540, so we’re more than halfway there.

Here goes anyway, but in my round-about way, I need to give some background. I’m a teetotaler now, but not for any religious, social or moral reason. Quite simply, when I checked out of Christus-St. Vincent almost two years ago, after a bleeding ulcer, the attending physician suggested I not drink at all anymore, I assume because ulcers and alcohol don’t mix.

Why didn’t I shop locally and keep my tax dollars in Las Vegas? Well, the only doctor at the time who could treat my condition was out for the weekend. Continue reading

We lose them by threes

It was impressive watching a procession of friends making their way up to the podium Monday to pay tribute to the friend of many: Mel Root.

Understandably, several of the testimonials took the form of athletics, a host of former teammates telling the large crowd about this story or that — often sprinkled with humor — about some experience they’d had years ago.

But for the record, Mel was more than simply an athlete; he was a coach, a superintendent, an owner of a camp, a husband, father, grandfather, and — a bit of a rarity in these parts — a Republican in a Democratic stronghold.

Several rose to eulogize the 79-year-old Root at his funeral at the First Baptist Church. Now it’s my turn, and as hard as I try to avoid it, here comes another football account. Continue reading

Whom are youm to ask?

The simple answer is that if you can use “him,” you can use “whom”’ if “he” fits, use “who.” That was my proposed subject for this week’s column.

We were in the Optic newsroom as I spouted this bit of faux erudition, when fellow writer Lupita Gonzales said that when it comes to “whom,” we need to think of objects, not subjects. As a now-retired long-time teacher of languages, she’s right.

Is there a construction in English that causes more confusion? Even Hollywood aggravates the issue when it popularizes expressions like “Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!” (Or is it whom?)

Well yes there are a couple of grammar and usage questions that can rival the who-whom syndrome: Try the there-they’re-their conundrum. Actually, in a mere five words, my friend Chad Boliek, submitted this in response to my having broached the there-their-they’re issue in a recent column. Chad wrote: “They’re there awaiting their bus.” Continue reading

Adding s’s to our yes’es

The first thing I reach for in reading a newspaper is the opinion section. And when going online, to read other newspapers, I click until the editorials, columns and letters to the editor show up.

In short, I luuuuve to read other people’s opinions. But that (reading others’ opinions) comes with a price: namely fighting my urge to correct people’s spelling, grammar and punctuation. Often, I miss the points others make because I’m too busy chasing commas, run-on sentences and words that dangle.

I’ve noticed a gradual decline in people’s ability to spell: the your/you’re issue appears insoluble as does the wont of some to over-punctuate.

Let me explain: Continue reading

Love and hate: It’s about time

We’d been only about four hours into Daylight Saving (not Savings) Time when Bonnie asked her perennial question: “What time is it?”

“It’s 6 o’clock,” I answered, barely awake. “No! I’m asking you what time is it really?” Oh, I get it. “Really” doesn’t refer to the time on the clocks, which I had spent ages dutifully resetting to synchronize with DST, early last Sunday; “really” really refers to the time is was before that back-breaking clock-resetting period hours before.

“Well, then, I guess it’s ‘really’ only 5 o’clock,” I said. But that single answer won’t suffice for long, I am sure. Bonnie will keep “reallypeating” that question until … until we go back to standard time, in six months.

We’re clock watchers and clock buyers. We have at least one clock for every room, including bathrooms. The nocturnal tripping into each room to … let’s see: It’s spring, so we need to spring forward, i.e., make the clocks show 3 a.m. when it’s 2 a.m. … to advance the clocks. Continue reading

Is New Mexico missing again?

A popular, long-lived feature in New Mexico Magazine is called “One of Our 50 is Missing.”

It’s a collection of anecdotes submitted by readers whose state got short-changed by some non-New Mexican.

In this “Missing” column, you’ll read, for example, about a flatland tourister visiting this state and expecting to pay in pesos rather than dollars, or of some phone rep, trapped in a cube somewhere, who tells the New Mexico caller that the company doesn’t ship to foreign countries.

You get the picture.

My time in the Midwest invariably was spent explaining that “Mexico City is farther away from my hometown in New Mexico than we are, right here in Aurora, Ill.” And people often wanted to see my driver’s license, to test their Spanish-reading ability. Otherwise, they’d simply refuse to believe there was such a state with such a name.

Someone ought to hurry and send one of the latest New Mexico omissions to our state magazine. In this case, the University of New Mexico Lobos — yes, those guys who play great basketball — got slighted in an Associated Press poll. You probably realize by now that the Lobos, winners of their conference, are currently ranked 14th in the U.S. Continue reading