100 Objects Special: Back to School Week!

Summer’s almost over! Back to school time! This year I thought I’d celebrate the week with a tribute to all hardworking teachers and their achingly confused students…

Jacke Wilson’s Top 5 Stories Celebrating Teachers

Object #7 – The Keyboard*

I started on “Three Blind Mice.” I stopped halfway through. For some reason it sounded terrible.

“There must be something wrong with the piano,” I said.

Miss Steiner reached forward and for a second I thought she might choke me. Instead she seized her clipboard and flung it halfway across the room. It bounced off the top of a kettle drum.

“THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THE PIANO,” she shouted. “IT’S YOU—YOU CAN’T PLAY!”  Read the whole story

Object #10 – The Spitwad

In other classes, the teachers released this energy with a few little quips now and then, letting the students laugh and tease and push back, so the air would clear and the business of learning could begin. It was like the quick open-and-shut of a pressure valve.

Not in Mr. Ward’s class. In Mr. Ward’s class it was all pressure, no valve. For months. Something had to give.

Which brings me to the glorious day when Mr. Ward told a joke. Well, sort of a joke… Read the whole story

Object #14 – The Bass Guitar

I was in a band with my son. A real band. A rock band. Who knew where this would lead? His younger brother liked to bang on things and claimed his favorite instrument was the drum. His mother had a beautiful voice. We wouldn’t be Van Halen or anything, of course. But maybe a few local gigs…? Not now, but maybe in a few years…? Read the whole story

Object #15 – The Coffepot

I had not realized how much courage this was going to require. Ms. Laporte, who was sitting in a student desk at the center of the room, reading words one at a time out of a notebook she kept locked in her desk, was an imposing figure in normal times. When running a bee, she took her intensity to a new level. Her straight black hair was pulled off her forehead and secured in a tight bun, exposing her forehead, which was lined with the permanent anger she kept just below the surface at all times. Read the whole story

Object #23 – The Passage

It was left to the wise professor to provide the comment that took me into a whole new world of literary possibility. Not, in other words, literature as what-have-you-read-I’ve read-that-too. Not lists and check boxes. Something else. Read the whole story

*The Keyboard comes with a special followup, in which I hear from an old friend whose artistic father memorialized the music teacher in a fantastic painting.

Onward and upward, everyone!

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Writers Laughing: Seamus Heaney

Still working up the next Object. In the meantime, let’s enjoy a bit of mirth with the great Seamus Heaney, caught here in the act of extreme laughing:

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That’s the kind of raw exuberance that makes his translation of Beowulf so good! Here’s a more natural one:

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And here’s one with a special guest star… Continue reading

Writers Laughing: Alice Munro

Okay, sometimes these are a little hard to find. But there’s no shortage of photos of the amazing Alice Munro laughing (and a million of her smiling). I like this one for its spontaneity and joy…

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Author Elizabeth Hay is on the left. And here’s a bonus! Alice with a special guest…  Continue reading

A History of Jacke in 100 Objects #24 – The Rope

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I didn’t like my new boss much. On my first day he had me scraping tar off the inside walls of his truck, ten hours in a hot, enclosed space breathing in noxious odors. The second day he blasted “beer farts” all the way to Skokie and back, and I had to sit next to him pretending not to be disgusted. On Wednesday I jumped in the truck and nearly passed out from the toxic chemical smell that greeted me.

“It’s heavy duty paint we got back there,” he explained. “Heavy. Duty.” He narrowed his eyes. “As in, not legal in some states. If you know what I mean.” Continue reading

Writers Laughing: Kurt Vonnegut and John Irving

Here’s a reminder that life has moments of joy as well as sorrow.

 

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What a great picture. Why do I think that Vonnegut must have said something funny (unexpected and acerbic and witty), and Irving started laughing uncontrollably, and finally Vonnegut joined in because Irving’s laughter was infectious…

Have a great day, everyone! Onward and upward!

Sneak Preview: The Promotion

In honor of on-campus interviewing everywhere… an excerpt of The Promotion (on sale now at Amazon.com):

When Big Law Meets Big Trouble…

“Humor, depression, and hope all together in one short book… The Promotion was my first book by Jacke Wilson, and now I am wondering if I have been sleeping under a rock not to have noticed this amazing author…” – My Author Within

CHAPTER ONE

You need to understand this first: I have a weakness for people with passion. Continue reading

Writers Laughing: Samuel Beckett

Could anyone be bleaker than Flannery O’Connor? Well, okay, maybe Samuel Beckett. But take a look at this…

 

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Maybe he’s thinking about the Amana Colonies.

Or maybe he’s just trying to quell the pain…