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Another Love Song: You Affect Me

Sorry to bother you again, but you showed some interest in my love song Holding My Heart.

I have done one more collaboration with the mystery musician, which I think will be my last.

It's called You Affect Me. It's on YouTube:

You can find the original poem here:

Thanks for listening. Thanks for your kind words about my other song.

Early listeners had this to say:

"A wonderful song that reminds me of a mash up between Gershwin meets Beatles"

"My god, the music is beautiful.  And it adds more layers of feeling to the words"

"The cute Lehrer-esque rhymes you admire so much can be annoying in a sincere love poem aimed at the general public." (I take a comparison to Tom Lehrer as a compliment)

"literally made me cry this morning.  Didn't expect that.”

"Very Nice Song"

Actions have Consequences

Actions and decisions have consequences. I have been thinking about that in particular regard to a childhood friend of mine. He had a bright future the day he was born, but squandered it with poor decisions.

I regret none of my decisions, literally, given the way things turned out. I suspect others in my life do not now feel the same.

Even decisions which seemed dumb at the time turned out to be for the best.

There are no dumb decisions, just learning opportunities. Alas, while some people live and learn, some people just live.

 Clare Horner Aphorisms 1

As I noted last time, I admit Horner was a misogynist and a homophobe, although an apparently successful marriage slightly reduced the former. Don’t Trudge on the Fudge was written just before he died. As I expected, I found his form as an aphorist was good to the end.


 “I don’t know what I am, but I’m glad I got to be one.”

There is a place of total bliss and complete knowing,
enclosing all the universe I’ll ever have the sense to see,
and a dollop more.
It is in the center of you and shines for me,
as I actively rest there
in the ecstasy of my place of special welcome.
Honest love makes sense. (If it doesn’t, it isn’t.)
A marriage license doesn’t make you more married than a birth certificate makes you more born.
Nothing turns me on like sanity.
Like anything living, love requires nourishment.
When My Heart Tells
When my heart tells you
it loves you with all my body,
don’t you doubt it.
My mind oversees the whole thing,
and it knows.
Life is a billion-dollar computer jammed by a dead bug.
The whole phriggin mess is absolutely silly. The only reason we don’t usually notice is because it keeps us so damn busy.
Sing: “She has the kind of kisses I’ll live for.”
You may get confirmation from some of your own sex, but fulfillment comes from the other one.
People should remain together only if their changes continue to justify it.
How nice that no one can lose me, since one can’t lose what one doesn’t own.
I’d like to put everything I have
In or around anything you have
In order to say that
or whoever you are
I’d just like to be there.

Advice to First-year College Students

This advice is most relevant to my alma mater MIT, but probably even applies at Cal. This is the talk I wish someone had given me before my freshman year.

Yes, the year I entered MIT, 1970, is figuratively a million years ago. But everything statistical in this column is an indisputable fact.

You have been the best student in every academic class since Kindergarten. At the very least, you were in the top 1 percent. I am going to tell you something you could easily figure out, but aren’t motivated to think about because you don’t think it applies to you. It does. Even though MIT stopped publishing class rankings shortly before I arrived, you’ll have a pretty good sense of where you stand relative to your peers.

The odds are 1 in 1400 that you will be the top student in your class. They are 1 in 14 that you will be in the top 100 students, and a 1 percent chance of being in the top 1%. (Thanks for the math, Joe Edwards) It’s a simple statistical fact. If your very identity is based on your being the best student (as mine was), you are in for a rude awakening. You have been a big fish in a small pond. You are now a small fish in a big pond. As we used to say, “Getting an MIT education is like trying to get a drink of water from a fire hose.”

This is likely to generate anxiety and perhaps even depression. Even 50 years ago, MIT had mental health resources I never thought to tap.  Today you can and should tap them if you need to. Yes, you can motor through mild anxiety and depression by yourself, or with the help of your friends. But they are not trained mental health professionals, and if either your anxiety or depression is severe, get free help from a counselor.

Here are several things I was told that made my MIT education go better, and might smooth yours:

* “Statistically, someone has to be in the bottom percentile.”

* “We wouldn’t have admitted you if you couldn’t do the work. You can do the work.”

* “Do you know what they call the person who came in last in their class in medical school? Doctor.”

This does not mean you should not work hard and strive for the best grades possible. You should. You will be amply rewarded if you graduate, no matter what your GPA. Admittedly I never worked in science or engineering, where the situation is different, but I was never asked for my transcript until I applied to be a teacher (turns out you need a C average to be a teacher in California. I just made it.). Still, except for my job teaching 8th grade U.S. history, every job I ever had stemmed from the fact that I graduated from MIT. (Ask an upperclass student about “ring tapping.”)

In conclusion let me say that my four years at the ‘Tute would have gone better had someone told me this all at once before I arrived, rather than dribbling it out over four years.

Review: Secondhand Lions

Here’s the simple facts, from Wikipedia

Secondhand Lions is a 2003 American film written and directed by Tim McCanlies. It tells the story of an introverted young boy (Haley Joel Osment) who is sent to live with his eccentric great-uncles (Robert Duvall and Michael Caine) on a farm in Texas.

Besides the mind-boglingly great cast, this film offers a sweet story, sweetly told, with a few grim themes to keep the whole thing from congealing into treacle. As a kid who spent summers with his grandparents, I get some extra enjoyment of the main “summer with the great uncles” plot.

The underlying theme, “What is reality?” is handled deftly, and left me hanging on every plot twist. Thank God this is an American film, so there is no ambiguity left at the end. I am telling you this not as a spoiler, but to increase your enjoyment of the film by letting you know it turns out all right at the end.

If, as A.R. Gurney, Jr. once said to me, “Good vs. Evil is a comic book; good vs. good is art,” then this film is a comic book. Who doesn’t like a comic book?

BLM at Trump Tower

The mayor of New York is going to paint “Black Lives Matter” on 5th Avenue in front of Trump Tower. One would expect anyone and everyone to be thrilled to be living anywhere near one of the most famous paintings in the world. Does this idea sound familiar? See Washington, D.C.

Think of the joy that the tenants of the tower will derive from being able to see and appreciate the painting, the subtlety of the shading and brush strokes, the sublime message conveyed by the artist's selection of colors and context.

Holding My Heart

Apologies to those of you who have already seen this in an email or two. You can skip to the next item—except there’s a new Youtube version.

I paid a freelance musician (who has asked to remain anonymous) to set the words of one of my love poems to music. People say it’s beautiful; including even some people not related to me. If you like it, please plug the heck out of it on social media, a universe in which I have zero visibility.

I'd love it if lots of people heard it. This song is royalty-free, although credit for the lyrics is always appreciated.

There are two versions

One is more song-like, with a hook:

It is also on YouTube

The other is simpler:

Here are the lyrics:

Holding my Heart

If you have a preference, let me know.


Here’s a list of the sources of the images in the YouTube video:


Here are some reviews from friends and strangers:

“It touched my heart.”

“It is beautiful!”

“Good Lord, Paul. That sounds really good.  Nice work all around.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed your song and I found myself humming the tune. Heartfelt.”

“How very beautiful this is, Paul! Thank you so much for sharing. It truly brought tears to my eyes."

This and That

A sign at a demonstration: “First they came for the journalists. We don’t know what happened after that.”

Comments by Popular Demand

The posts in this new version of the blog seem to call for comments, so I have turned that feature on, in case you didn’t already notice.

New Reviews

Check out the section in the right hand column for several books I’ve read in the last year that meant a lot to me.

Fopish Frivolity

I had a catch phrase in high school and college.: “Stop all this Fopish Frivolity.” It was similar to Monty Python’s use of Graham Chapman, dressed as an authority figure, who would walk in and say “This sketch is getting is silly.” I hope my recollection brings a smile to the lips of my high school and college friends, and a look of confusion to the rest of you.

I said it for years before I saw Python for the first time, which was years before you saw them. I took the train to New York to review And Now For Something Completely Different, which was “too niche” for Boston and played only New York and LA. Having no film notes from the movie company, I assumed John Cleese was Monty. You can find the review of the Internet; I have no intention of helping you.

West Wing

Thank you Daniel P. Dern for bringing this to my attention:

35 People You Might Not Realize Appeared on The West Wing"

Adolescents: Human and Animal

A good friend just recommended a book. I haven’t read it yet, but since I have long wondered why any human male lives to be 18, I am fascinated by the topic: Wildhood: The Astounding Connections between Human and Animal Adolescents by Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers. If this question has also puzzled you, find out, again, that Cole Porter was right, “We’re merely mammals, let’s misbehave.”

Keisha Lance Bottoms

Several people whose opinion I respect have been telling me the black female major of Atlanta would make a better VP for Joe Biden than Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris. Google her. Listen to her speeches. She is a woman of substance, and would make a worthy and helpful addition to the ticket.

Books in the Background

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe of Syosset, New York  has been a veteran contributor to this column has is a freelance writer. She sent me a lovely essay, Home Libraries or Staged Exhibits about the bookcases in the background of broadcasting-from-home celebrities. Give it a look!

Help with Unrequited Crushes

Here’s your chance to offer advance information for a special edition. Since every woman upon whom I had an unrequited crush, with the exception of the one who died, reads this column, it could get interesting.

My first question is: how rare is the phenomenon. One of the beautiful intelligent women I loved unrequitedly (hi!) said I was the only person who had ever professed to having a crush on her. I find it hard to believe, but I haven’t asked the rest of you. Was I the only one?

I’ve only known one really handsome, intelligent guy (apologies to the rest of you; your look are OK, he was an Adonis) and he never mentioned anyone having a crush on him.

Perhaps I am about to write a whole column about something that has only ever happened to me. Have you ever had an unrequited crush, been on the receiving end of one, or know someone on either end? How did it feel? Sweet, pleasant and flattering? Bizarre and Creepy? Fill in your feelings here. How did it end? How did it work out?

Right now, I only have a me-me-me introduction. I’d love to include some other perspectives. Write me: mailto:[email protected]?subject=crush