Sunday, August 14, 2011

Baa, Baa, Baa!

Note: Two days ago I had surgery on my shoulder. It was a minor procedure, sort of, although I was fully anesthetized and ever since I’ve been partly anesthetized with pain killers that make me goofy at my clearest. Bear with me, please. If you have any complaints about my driving, call 1-800-BAD DRUG.

Yesterday I received an email from Terry Ross, the editor and publisher of Black Lamb, the literary monthly print magazine I contribute essays to. I’ve never met Terry, but it’s a matter of literary pride that I get to drop the line, “My editor, Mr. Ross…” Since that’s one of my favorite gaglets, I may have pulled it on you before, in which case I’m sorry. My favorite Mr. Ross story:

When Dorothy Parker finally opened her apartment door, disheveled and disgruntled, the messenger from The New Yorker said, “I’m sorry to disturb you, Miss Parker, but Mr. Ross says he needs your copy right now,” to which Dorothy P. replied, “You tell Mr. Ross I’m too %&!#ing busy, and vice versa!”

Anyway, my Mr. Ross, Terry, was also requesting copy, though not so urgently. This was Terry’s annual advance schedule and shout-out for next year’s themed issues. Each year Terry assigns themes to six of the twelve issues. January is the “Anniversary Issue,” which I don’t really understand as an assignment, but I suppose I’ll find some topic that has a certain yearliness. One of the summer months is for the annual Book Review Issue. I’m trying to decide among J. M. Barrie’s My Lady Nicotine, Christopher Morley’s The Trojan Horse, and Thorne Smith’s The Nightlife of the Gods.

For next year’s other four, Terry has thrown down some heavy gauntlets: Gambling, Medicine, Politics, and Religion. I wish I could call in some assistance. For Gambling, I’d enlist my stepson, Cory Graham, who lives in Las Vegas and has worked as a marketing manager for several of the large casinos. As for Medicine, I’d seek help from my brother, Thomas Daniel, who is Professor Emeritus of Case Western Reserve Medical School and has devoted his retirement to writing distinguished books of medical history. In the Religion department, I’d turn to my son, Ben Daniel, a Presbyterian minister and the author of the award-winning book Neighbor: Christian Encounters with “Illegal” Immigrants. Then there’s Politics. Everyone I know is an equally cocksure and flawed authority on that subject. By the way, the Politics issue will come out in November 2012. How’s that for timing? We can look forward to fireworks. The literate and flamboyant columnists of Black Lamb occupy all available positions on the political spectrum. You can be sure of two things when you read an issue of Black Lamb: writing to enjoy and admire, and at least one firebrand to disagree with, whatever your own position may be.

For more information about Black Lamb, check out
By the way, subscriptions are reasonable. That’s unabashed soft sell for a good buy.

And as long as I’m at it, check out what else Terry Ross is up to, speaking of the year 2012. He has published a beautiful Literary Calendar for that year. Illustrated in full color, the dates are packed with literary facts, tidbits of gossip, authors and their titles. Want to know what writers were born on your birthday? Here they are. Guess who shares a birthday with Andre Gide, George Eliot, and William Kotzwinkle? Hint: he’s about to take a nap.

Anyway, for more information on The Ultimate Literary Calendar for 2012, see


  1. John,
    I enjoy your posts. I sure hope your shoulder heals quickly. Writing can be difficult enough without physical pain and/or pain killers. But, please, until then, stay off the roads!

  2. Thanks, Pat. I won't be driving for three weeks, so the roads are safe until further notice.