Tag Archives: Online Writing Classes

An Essential Tool for Your Success as a Writer

There was a time when one of the most difficult parts of writing was the researching.

Now with the internet and search engines plus another essential online tool for a writer – Wikipedia, research is becoming a breeze.

A master at researching for writing, Dr. Jeffrey Lant,  covers how to use them and why in his extraordinary online course. Find out more at: http://writerssecrets.com/intro


Everyone can use our work with a few conditionserching,searching,writing,

Wikipedia has taken a cue from the free software community (which includes projects like GNU, Linux and Mozilla Firefox) and has done away with traditional copyright restrictions on our content. Instead, we’ve adopted what is known as a “free content license” (specifically, a choice between the CC-BY-SA and the GFDL): almost all text and composition created by our users is and will always remain free for anyone to copy, modify, and redistribute. We only insist (and our licenses require) that you credit the contributors, state the free license your re-use is under, and that you do not impose new restrictions on the work or on any improvements you make to it. Many of the images, videos, and other media on the site are also under free licenses, or in the public domain. Just check a file’s description page to see its licensing terms.

We care deeply about the quality of our work

Wikipedia has a set of policies and quality control processes. Editors can patrol changes as they happen, monitor specific topics of interest, follow a user’s track of contributions, tag problematic articles for further review, report vandals, discuss the merits of each article with other users, and much more. What are felt to be our best articles are awarded “featured article” status, and problem pages are nominated for deletion. “WikiProjects” focus on improvements to particular topic areas. Really good articles may go into other media and be distributed to schools through Wikipedia 1.0. We care about getting things right, and we never stop thinking about new ways to do so.

We do not expect you to trust us

It is in the nature of an ever-changing work like Wikipedia that, while some articles are of the highest quality of scholarship, others are admittedly complete rubbish. We are fully aware of what it is and what it isn’t. Also, because some articles may contain errors, please do not use Wikipedia to make critical decisions.

Further information: Wikipedia:General disclaimer

We are not alone

Wikipedia is part of a growing movement for free knowledge that is beginning to permeate science and education. The Wikimedia Foundation directly operates eight sister projects to the encyclopedia: Wiktionary (a dictionary and thesaurus),Wikisource (a library of source documents), Wikimedia Commons (a media repository of more than ten million images, videos, and sound files), Wikibooks (a collection of textbooks and manuals), Wikiversity (an interactive learning resource),Wikinews (a citizen journalism news site), Wikiquote (a collection of quotations), andWikispecies (a directory of all forms of life). Like Wikipedia itself, all these projects are freely licensed and open to contributions.

Further information: wmf:Our projects

We’re in it for the long haul

We want Wikipedia to be around at least a hundred years from now, if it does not turn into something even more significant. Everything about Wikipedia is engineered towards that end: our content licensing, our organization and governance, our international focus, our fundraising strategy, our use of open-source software, and our never-ending effort to achieve our vision. We want you to imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That is our commitment—and we want your help

Read more at the source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Ten_things_you_may_not_know_about_Wikipedia#Everyone_can_use_our_work_with_a_few_conditions

Wikipedia can be a great tool for learning and researching information. However, as with all reference works, not everything in Wikipedia is accurate, comprehensive, or unbiased. Many of the general rules of thumb for conducting research apply to Wikipedia, including:

  • Always be wary of any one single source (in any medium — web, print, television or radio), or of multiple works that derive from a single source.
  • Where articles have references to external sources (whether online or not) read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says.
  • In most academic institutions Wikipedia, like most encyclopedias and other tertiary sources, is unacceptable as a source for facts in a research paper.

For more on researching on Wikipedia go to the source at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Researching_with_Wikipedia

Find out about Free Images available at:


How to use tools like Wikipedia to strengthen your writing is all covered in the Writers Secrets Extraordinary Online Course.

From a rich, full and productive life, Dr. Lant now passes on his writing secrets In the Writers Secrets Package Including:

  • Three volumes of his “Writers Secrets” Series
  • 35 video sessions with summaries from his Online Writing Course

Available at:  https://writerssecret.samcart.com/products/writers-secrets-package

Of Docents, Writers Secrets Docents, “Decent Docents”.

docents_touring_double_picHey, there. It’s Dr. Lant. And I’m here to recruit you, your heart, your mind
and your soul to the great cause now growing like a weed at
www.writerssecrets.com. Specifically, I want you to become a Docent.
If you’ve visited any of the great museums of human achievement, you
may already know what a Docent does, but let me remind you.

docent_meaningA Docent is thoroughly familiar with any given institution and directs visitors
appropriately so they understand what the institute is all about and make
visitors comfortable and welcome.

My first recollection of the word was at a lunch party given by Boston Globe
Book Review Editor Herb Kenny. He was a delightful man, carrying his
deep knowledge of books and authors lightly; charm his metier.

He made a point of inviting me to his lunches, where I was always at least 20
years younger than the other, more experienced litteratti. He encouraged me
(not that I needed so very much) to talk at the table where words were delivered
lightning fast with deadly accuracy; then threw me books to review for the great
newspaper now no longer great and of little consequence.

He knew I would review what he assigned me with care, the better to get a
much-needed check… as well as another review assignment, plus all the free
books I could carry; for these books I had muscular determination.

Herb had a mischievous, thoroughly Irish disposition. He told me I couldn’t
possibly be a WASP since I disdained tennis. I responded that he couldn’t
possibly be Irish because he played the insufferable game so well. He responded,
with lightning speed remember, that he jumped the fence and played under the
bright lights, making sure the bill was paid by any of the many Brahmins who took
Herb and all his antics to heart, as I did.

One day he raised his glass and asked for our attention. As we were a free-
spirited boisterous group, he may well have had to ask more than once. He
waited for a moment or two and began his remarks on the “Decent Docent”…

Alas, all I can remember of remarks likely hilarious is that such a prim authority
would have presented herself in sensible shoes, severe tweed with a diamond
brooch de rigueur. It was very likely a family piece, valuable but never bombastic.
One had such jewelry; buying only when necessary from Shreve’s where “daddy” for
the family did discrete business, showing rarely, telling only the nearest and best

Herb would have rendered these remarks with savoir faire, a hint of malice just
discernible, his account ephemeral, clever, kindness mixed with vinegar;
words of intellect suffused with the good humor always available on call along
with the humanity that marked him as a gentleman, despite his Irish heritage.

As I write these words, I realize how long it has been since I’ve properly
remembered him and the great service he provided to me, young, awkward,
with more intellect than judgment, burning with ambition, and showing it.

He has been gone these many years, all his congenial colleagues too. I am
thus the last of these literary gents still alive… but I have a scheme and this
scheme involves you.

Start by visiting www.writerssecrets.com You will quickly discover that
this is a mecca for every kind of communication yet invented for sapien by homo.
Here words matter, ideas matter, clarity matters, wit matters, lyric beauty
matters, and honest criticism matters. You know this. You believe this. Now
fight on the linguistic barriers for the standards you know are important and
which we see daily eroded and deteriorating.

Call me now at 617 547 6372 or mailto:drjlant@worldprofit.com  or go at once
to join at www.writerssecrets.co

We charge a small fee, just $29.95 for the Exquisite Online Course with Dr. Lant or get the whole Enchilada for a onetime fee of $99.95.

You will be given instructions on how to access my memoirs “A Connoisseur’s
Journey.” It is an important book and Docents need to be familiar with the
text. When you’ve finished, post at testimonial at www.amazon.com. Then
enter my name, Jeffrey Lant, and follow the directions to post.

By this time, our superb General Manager Patrice Porter will be in touch to
answer your questions and train you as a Docent. We advise you take just
two hours a week on screen, more if you care to.

In extending this invitation to you, I say with pride that not a single candidate,
not one, has turned down this offer to make history. If I am primus, I am primus
inter pares.

I look forward to hearing from you at once, thereby augmenting the team and
ensuring our success.

from Dr. Jeffrey Lant
in the Blue Room

Reflections upon the completion of 350 articles of commentary in the current series; what it takes to write commentary worth reading.

It is still dark outside my brilliantly lit Cambridge, Massachusetts office at 5:31 a.m. Eastern time, September 14, 2011. I am happy not only because I have just a few minutes ago completed my article of the day… but because this is the 350th article in my current series. Today’s article was a series of way out on a limb predictions about the 2012 American elections; prognostications at once cheeky and magisterial. Quick, can you say President Rick Perry?

It occurred to me upon the completion of this article that I owed it to my millions of online readers, to posterity, and to myself to explicate my view of what constitutes superior commentary and how to provide it. Incipient commentators will want to know… and it is always a wise idea to record your side of any given matter before successors mangle, distort and rearrange the facts.

blue_room_bestWhere my commentary is written.

My office is situated across the street from Harvard Law School, a place of renown amongst whose graduates are the current president of the United States, the chief justice of the United States, and 5 of the 8 associate justices. It is a place where words matter and where students are instructed in the writing of limpid, precise, meaningful prose. It is a powerful example to have before oneself every day, and I strive to maintain these standards and be guided by them.

The actual room in which I write is unique. It resides on a piece of property originally owned by the Reverend Charles Follen, Harvard College’s first professor of both the German language (1825) and of gymnastics and physical education (1826). His abbreviated career at Harvard ended in 1827, perhaps because of his advanced political opinions.

Professor Follen was a reformer, an apt example for me. He wished, of course, to bring the latest advances in German pedagogy to Harvard… and he was also a rabid abolitionist at a time before such a viewpoint was acceptable. His views were so extreme they affronted his colleagues and neighbors who were undoubtedly pleased when a boat on which he was traveling from New York foundered on January 14, 1840. Dead prophets are so convenient… and it is safe to name myriad roads and places after them, as they memorialized the deceased Follen who no longer roiled the peace of their comfortable consciences. But here’s what’s important about Follen as far as I’m concerned. He had rage about the status quo, an acute desire to change and improve it, and moral superiority. All are useful to the commentator, and the spirit of Herr Doktor Follen envelope and reinvigorate me.

I call this room the “Imperial Webcast Facility” and that is accurate, if a trifle grandiloquent.

I used the word “imperial” for several reasons. First, it was a major subject of mine at Harvard, where I studied principally European history (from 1969), taking the M.A. degree in 1970 and the Ph.D. in 1975.

Second, I call it “imperial” because of the portraits and signed photographs which inhabit this space along with me. These include the boy Phillippe d’Anjou (born 1640) who became Philip V of Spain. Just 17 when he was made king by the decision of Louis XIV, he became the longest reigning Spanish monarch ever. He was never actually called an emperor but as ruler of 1/6 of the globe we may confer this courtesy.

His portrait by Henri Gascars, portrait painter to the Royal Children of France, Spain and England, is quite possibly unique… for when his Spanish majesty was a mere French duke he was of no importance whatsoever. Perhaps Gascars felt put upon painting such an insignificant subject; if so, I trust he kept his sentiments to himself, for King Philip was of a vengeful disposition. In any event it is a lovely picture of a young man elevated to rule by small pox and God’s will.

Two emperors of Austria hang near their earlier cousin of Spain, Joseph II (reigned 1764- 1790) and his brother Leopold II (reigned 1790-1792). These were just two of the many siblings of unlucky Marie Antoinette. Both pictures of these imperial brothers came to me in shocking condition, but the careful ministrations of my long-term London conservator Simon Gillespie brought them back to majesty.

Joseph’s portrait was by Josef Hickel, a well known painter who fathered an even better known painter son. It’s an artistic rendering that does full justice to the aesthetic man known to history as sublime Mozart’s patron. As for the painting of the Emperor Leopold, it is exceedingly rare because it shows him as Grand Duke of Tuscany, a training position for younger sons of the dynasty.

The room is packed with one royal, imperial, grand ducal and noble artifact after another, including two signed photographs of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, assassinated in 1914 along with his morganatic wife Sophie, the proximate cause of World War I. The 1890 photo of the young Franz is on my desk where I can stare at leisure into the eyes of this man of destiny. It is part of the palpable history that irradiates this special room. But important though this is, it is not the most important thing in this room…

… that would be the essential tools of the imperium, the keyboard where I compose, the screen where I daily webcast… and the unceasing flow of commentary from the one to the other. These tools and the messages are all mine, but the arrangement owes much to the office of another imperator, Napoleon.

Napoleon's_officeWhen he was a young man on the make, Napoleon met the love of his life, Josephine, a woman made for love and pleasure who adored luxury and never minded the bills; someone, she knew, would always pay. That someone more often than not was her second husband, General Buonaparte. In 1798 he left his faithless wife to seek fame and fortune in Egypt. While he was gone inventing himself and his legend, she purchased a lovely country house neither could afford. She cared not; he was enraged… and so Malmaison, the estate where both were happiest, came to be.

In it, the soon-to-be emperor had an office, not so very much larger than mine. In it were fine examples of the grand and grandiose Empire style, so imposing, including his desk and chair. Of course such artifacts are off limits, never to be touched, much less used. But I knew at once I wanted an office like this… and so, while the slothful guards took a long break I sat down in the chair, positioned myself just so and reviewed every millimeter, opened every drawer… then starred out the window to the verdant lawn on which the couple Bonaparte found happiness together as they strolled and loved each other.

I was happy there, too… and mulled over what Napoleon would add to this room were he alive today.

The answer was obvious for a man who spent his life communicating to manage and administer his empire… live 24 hour a day webcasting … and so that is what I added to my international communications center.

Then www.writerssecrets.com gathering place for my fellow scribblers, writing peers worldwide, appreciators of literature and folks who just like some wild and woolly conversation.

Now you must consider yourself invited for this is a place of culture, humanity, a progressive outlook and a can-do attitude, where learning is valued, solutions sought for grave social issues and personal dilemmas, and where the focus is always on uplifting, improving, enhancing… just like it should always be for every commentator… and is most assuredly the way it is for me.

Visit me and the Writers Secrets Team in our LIVE Center at: http://www.TheLiveBusinessCenter.com/?id=27538

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

* * * *
About The Author

2016 is here and with it Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s 69th birthday. He is, he likes to
say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age
5 continue. Over Twenty award-winning books, millions of readers worldwide. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs;
worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of
his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has
delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.co. You will also want to join his writing
course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything
you ever write.


George J. Quacker Production
Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.ry

‘ … in all the old familiar places.’ The insistence of memory… any time, any place, in an instant, there, never alone or unaffecting.

Vera_LynnAuthor’s program note. I was ruminating about my next article this morning when it happened. I was thinking of doing a piece on the bookstores we all grew up with… inviting places you could go to get out of the storm, and sit and read for a bit, even if you had no money that day to purchase. That was my intention but things got away from me, as they often do these days… and I was remembering. No, not merely remembering… but being there… on Clark Street, Chicago, where special stores for second-hand books catered to the bibliophiles of the Windy City… folks who discovered these stores like an archeologist the layers of ancient Troy or Babylon, eureka!

But then, fleet-footed memory ran fast ahead… and it was not just the place I was recalling but why I was there and who I was with. Then, there she was. It was my mother; I was 13 or 14 or so and she was young and beautiful. She was telling me, and I did not just remember the words; I heard them, just as she said them…

… an admonition she had told me every time we visited such a place of leather bound and folio’ed addiction that I could have as many books as I could carry, but not one more. I would nod sagely, signifying agreement… then run rampant through the shelves, brainstorming strategies to break the treaty and emerge into the late afternoon light with more than I had agreed to. Sometimes, if a title moved her, she’d even concur… while making it clear this was no precedent.

And then there were tears in my eyes… and I missed her and that smile which was as vibrant this early morning as it was those long years ago… Songstress Vera Lynn knew this feeling and made it the signature of an entire generation, the World War II generation. The minute “I’ll be seeing you” (music by Sammy Fain, lyrics by Irving Kahal) was released (1938), it was clear this was not just or even mostly a song about the people you would indeed see again… but, as war engulfed Europe, far more poignantly about the people, literally here today, gone tomorrow — that you would only see again in your mind’s eye… with fond recollections, love, tears, all ingredients of memory which works its potent alchemy so sharply in “all the old familiar places.”

Thus, go now to any search engine to find this well-loved number; there are many fine renditions, but Vera Lynn’s is my own constant selection.

Around the corner, memory awaits…

I often think that remembrance is unrelenting, unremitting, unfair. It means us to remember and ensures, through pangs that can grip you with unbearable force and urgency, that you will remember… whether you like it or not. And most of us don’t like it… at least the fact that memory has the unrivalled power to stop us from what we are doing and demand instant obeisance. And this can happen anywhere, at any time.

Old familiar places of course make us aware of the sovereign powers of memory… old familiar objects do, too; photographs, prized possessions, and especially clothes which retain scents. Oh, yes, scents. A whiff of Chanel no. 5 makes me reel, pulled from whatever I am doing… to right where memory wants me to be. This was my mother’s scent, and I see myself buying some for her at Mr. Mackey’s general store one Christmas when I was a boy. I had no idea the sustaining power of that fragrance or that gift…

Scents you once detested, memory changes to gifts of great value. A friend told me not so long ago that she hated the pipe smoke her husband insisted in generating, to the gags and disgust of his wife and others. Those “others” may have felt relief when his passing removed the menace; she did not. She searched their well-appointed home, his drawers, his closet sniffing the air until she sniffed just what she wanted and was looking for: the pipe scent, pungent, masculine, unmistakable that signified in her grieving mind… him. She told me, too, hesitant at first, that she had found some of his special mixture tobacco, smoked it herself (to near nausea) until the bedroom resembled the back room of a political convention… then lay down… closed her eyes…. and remembered. It was the night she felt nearest to him. Before she said another word, I embraced her… before she said so much, so intimate. That was for her alone.

Even rulers of great lands…

No one, however powerful and well placed, is immune from the powers of memory and its connivances. It means to have you… and it will. As Queen Victoria, ruler of half the planet, learned and relearned every day of her long life. She was just 42 years old when her obsessively beloved consort Prince Albert succumbed; he was just 42, too. Her world dissolved… and she spent a lifetime and the patience of a great nation, doing whatever it took to assuage the memories and escape the madness of her ancestors.

His pajamas, his soap, even his toothpaste (with new paste applied daily) were all summoned to assist in the process of at once keeping the memories from overpowering while simultaneously holding them close. Queens are not alone in discovering that this formula is hard, perhaps impossible, to render just so… just so you can continue.

And these memories become most potent at Christmas… for this holiday of the greatest joy becomes a minefield of the greatest pain… not something you look forward to, but something you dread and fear…

This is wrong.

What you should fear and dread is not the unrelenting grip of your memories, their proven power to discommode you, their potency and unbridled force… for these are the good things, the necessary things you should move heaven and earth to protect, conserve, and maintain. Instead, fear and dread the steady diminution of these memories, time that brings not precise, enhanced remembrance but oblivion, well-minded people telling you over and over again (out of kindness, mind, however misdirected) to get “closure” on the matter and so diminish what you should be greatly striving to keep intact, close and forever.

“This too shall pass”, the Bible says. But beware of what you wish for, for you may get it. And is oblivion and eternal loss truly what you aim for? Thus hold every memory close and give way when memory seizes you… for what you have is precious and irreplaceable.

Thus approach this holiday season with a fresh new attitude and embrace the memories, every one of them no matter how painful. Remember, you are the curator of your memories… the person responsible for tending them, ensuring their vibrancy… charged with their complete and total extent. This is one of the duties of every adult; in fact, the proper realization of what memory is and its intrinsic significance in our lives is one of the proofs that you have lived, have loved, that you are an adult, with an adult’s insight.

None of this is easy, obvious or the work of an instant, not least because as you mature and grow sensitive to their interpretation and significance your understanding shifts, improves, ripens. And you see why sustaining these memories, in their total completeness is so very important.

Now let’s listen again, with a different ear, to Vera Lynn’s song and, for the first time understand that it is not Vera Lynn singing to us, bringing the balm of peace, serenity and comfort. It is immemorial memory itself… resonating through your life through the ages.

“I’ll be seeing you In all the old familiar places…

I’ll find you in the morning sun And when the night is new. I’ll be looking at the moon But I’ll be seeing you.”


This article is dedicated to my colleague Lance Sumner, in friendship, and in recognition of his good heart, vigilant keeper of profound memories.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

About the Author

Now with near seven decades of a successful writing career, Dr. Lant is, he likes to say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age 5 continue. Sixty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs; worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything you ever write. Go to: https://writerssecret.samcart.com/products/writers-secrets-package


Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Christmas from another point of view. The Grinch has his day… astonishing revelations from his first-ever interview exclusive to me exclusively here.

GrinchAuthor’s program note. You just never know what impact the printed word is going to have, and this tale of The Grinch proves the point. Thanksgiving Day, The Grinch (he insists upon the use of the capital “T” ) was sitting at home having polished off last year’s holiday left-overs as his wont, when his eye happened to see a corner of an article used to wrap the garbage. It was my report on “Squawk”, the valiant leader of the “Young Turks” fighting for the freedom of turkeys everywhere.

The paper was greasy, ripped, noisome from the remainder of The Grinch’s favorite morsels which stank to high heaven…. in fact, he could only finish the article by searching online for it at www.writerssecrets.com. He liked what he read… and at that moment (as he later told me) he determined to break his lifetime of media silence. He wanted his story to be told, and he wanted me to tell it.

Within the hour, his invitation was en route to me, never mind that it was the middle of the night, 3:22 a.m. Eastern. The Grinch knew his man. You can sleep anytime; but such an interview comes but once in a lifetime.

The letter to me from The Grinch.

There was a sharp knock at the door, the kind of knock that summons you to Destiny. I couldn’t immediately tell if it were real or a dream but its insistence made the point. There was a note under the door. It said, “Open the door!”, nothing more. So more irritated than apprehensive, I did. There was a Christmas bouquet on the welcome mat, wilted, one half- eaten candy-cane alone amongst the dying foliage. And there was a message, too, on stationery engraved with this motto, “After me, you are the most important person on Earth.”

The message couldn’t have been clearer: “You have 10.5 minutes to get dressed and leave for your Exclusive Interview With The Grinch. Be sure to brush your teeth. Don’t keep your car and driver waiting!”

I’m proud to tell you, nearly 66 that I am, that I was ready with a minute to spare, though there was, I confess, stubble on my noble chin.

A black limousine was waiting, sleek, important looking… and clearly in need of a good wash. The night was chill, the breeze off the snow piecing and unremitting. The door to my car was open, and I could hear rock music from within. It was Eric Clapton singing “After Midnight” where “we’re gonna let it all hang out”, where “we’re gonna find out what it’s all about.” It was astonishingly apt music….

I slid into the back seat, where my full attention was immediately arrested by a pair of creme colored eyes looking directly into mine. At the same moment he merely brushed my hand by way of greeting. It was fur, not flesh, and it was a shade of green I had never seen before. Then right beside a dog, his dog Max, a half-breed rumored to be The Grinch’s only friend, faithful to his Master, his aspect anything but welcoming. Throughout our interview The Grinch idly stroked his hide. I liked him the better for it.

“Well, get in, Mack, it’s cold out there,” a directive swiftly followed by a short, sharp nudge to my rib cage. My encounter with The Grinch was well and truly underway.

“Ask me anything….”, and he grinned broadly, the kind of grin of ribald remarks, very dry martinis perfectly made, and bottoms pinched just so. Thus I learned that The Grinch liked the good life. “Cookie, Mack?” He offered a box of demolished Christmas cookies with the air of a prince. There were dog hairs in the mix. I declined the dainty. “Your loss, Mack. Now what do you want to know?”, and he told his driver to “get the lead out.”

The Grinch’s personal history.

“Tell me about yourself, Mr. Grinch,” I asked. “Nothing I’d rather do, Mack. For as you know, I am a most interesting fellow”. Max’s tail wagged as if in confirmation. And so in a voice that mixed insinuation, wisecracks, and sweet self satisfaction, he laid out the broad outlines of his unlikely life, the life that made him one of the handful of the immediately recognized. He laid back, lit a stoggie (whether I liked it or not) and readied himself for his favorite story… his, at which there came into his eyes a look of reverie, fond remembrance, and Olde Lang Syne. He smiled the smile of those who love themselves to distraction, not wisely but too well.

Yes, there he was, the creature of the hour, the creature the world loved to revile, sitting back, oozing self satisfaction, toodling through the darkness of the night, going nowhere in particular, loving the high life. It was all so wicked cool… and then he remembered this all had a purpose. “Now, Mack, what is it you wanted to know?”

The facts.

“What started it off, sir?”

And darned if The Grinch didn’t shake his tambourine and so begin his tale.

“Mack, it all happened a very long time ago, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was near Christmas. I was a shy kid and had only a small role in the school pageant. I played one of the extra shepherds who get put in the back because they have to be put somewhere. It was not my finest hour.”

“It so happened that from the time I was a nipper I had a beard, full, rich, patriarchal. The day of the pageant, my mother decided her shepherd needed a freshly shaved look. But she was terrible, absolutely awful at what she was doing and cut me to ribbons. I was in despair knowing what the other kids would say.”

“Mom, was horrified by what she had done. She took some ointment from the cabinet and applied it liberally. Then she kissed me and sent me on my way.”

At this point he closed his eyes, the better to recall his affecting story.

“I thought the matter was closed, but as I got closer to school, the kids started pointing at me, using some pretty strong words I can tell you. To a certain extent I was used to them; after all I was a kid with a beard. But these remarks were nothing compared to what they were calling me this day. It was the worst ever and every single one of them was pointing at my face.”

“As soon as I could I went to the boys’ room to see what I could see. And what I saw horrified me. My whole face was green, I mean every single inch. It had to be that ointment.”   “I wanted to run away.”

The hot words came thick and fast, every aspect of the incident at his fingertips. He decided to run home and hide. But he was grabbed by a teacher who thought he was trying to escape from the pageant, something boys did. He was deposited on stage… and then it happened.

The Grinch explodes.

“I couldn’t stay on that stage. I couldn’t face the teachers and all the kids who started to snigger and point the minute they saw me. I just had to get out of there.”

He turned. He tripped. He fell on a pile of boxes wrapped like Christmas presents under the tree. He crushed the boxes. The tree fell. The crowd roared. The kids jumped all over the place pointing at me and shouting. There was the pop, pop, pop as incriminating photos were snapped in their hundreds.

And then The Grinch heard himself shout in a voice not his own…

“I hate Christmas. I hate everything about it,” sing song like a chant. “I hate Christmas. I hate everything about it. I hate Christmas. I hate everything about it.” The crowd went bananas.

Dr. Seuss heard it all, too, because he was in the audience that fateful day. And he knew a great story when he heard one. He went home and started work on the book which after many drafts and edits became in 1957, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.

“Mack, I get a nice fat royalty check every Christmas, which enables me to live in the manner to which I’ve become accustomed.”

The car was just pulling up to my house. The dawn was just about to break. I had just one more question to ask, but when we arrived, the door opened as if by magic. The Grinch poked my rib cage again, Max glowered at me.

“It’s been real, Mack. Write me a good story.” He told the driver to “put pedal to the metal”. And he turned his head in my direction and seemed to say something. But Max was barking, while the car shot away and I couldn’t be sure. I thought I heard him say something like “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night”. But I can’t be sure…  it’s so unGrinch-like.

And then I heard one more line from Clapton in The Grinch’s unmistable voice:

“We’re gonna cause talk and suspicion”…… and he was laughing, Mack, he was laughing….

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

About the Author

Now with near seven decades of a successful writing career, Dr. Lant is, he likes to say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age
5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs; worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything you ever write. Go to: https://writerssecret.samcart.com/products/writers-secrets-package


Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

‘God rest you merry, gentlemen’. At my home that means preparing everything for the visit of the Prince of Peace. It’s a true labor of love.

Xmas_stampAuthor’s program note. Please note the date: Saturday October 13 for this is the opening of the Christmas preparation season for 2012. Archeologists and cultural historians will be grateful to me in years hence when they get their government grants and write their learned tomes about the whys and wherefores of Christmas in this our particular era. Yes, I say they will be glad to have each salient fact, observation and deduction gathered by yours truly and herewith shared with the world.

For we are talking about the most joyous event of the Christian year, Christmas, and its preparations, staggering for some, meagre and tardy for others, but all acknowledging that this is and continues to be an event of significance to each of us.

How was October 13 selected as the commencement date for this event? Easy! It was the first day when your observant author was assailed by not one but a series of “the Christmas season has commenced” portents, signs which might easily be dismissed were there but one or even two, but which in their concerted numbers make it clear that the great count-down to Christmas, with its traditions, meanings, songs, poems, foods, displays, sentiments, travels, resolutions, friends, observances has now commenced in earnest and for the next 71days until the day itself your life will be affected, influenced, shaped and to a greater or lesser extent determined by what our fellow travelers do or don’t do, buy or don’t buy, wear, stand in line, decorate… or don’t wear, stand in line, or decorate.

In other words, because of the birth of a child you may or may not believe was the Son of God your life and all its prosaic concerns and tasks will be hi-jacked; weeks of your life will be less yours, significantly influenced and directed by others you don’t know, will never meet, but who are nonetheless powers over you, determined you should listen to them… or else.

The first portents.

The thing about portents, that is a clue to future occurrences, is that they must for maximum impact take you completely unaware. One moment you’re doing such and such a task; considering such and such a thing; talking about such and such a topic. Then the portent arrives, preferably delivered by one or more appropriate gods of Olympus, all of whom seem to traffic in the dicey business of portents, omens, divinations, and auguries. The portent (often obscure and therefore more amusing to its deity deliverer) having arrived, pushes other quotidian topics to the bottom of your consciousness, pulling out the rug on what you were focused on a moment ago and substituting quite a different agenda.

Yesterday, October 13 mind, these portents arrived thick and fast; itself a sign that a seismic moment had arrived; actung! stop what you’re doing and pay attention. And unless you’re that hapless noodle the bored and therefore capricious gods have determined to make even more hapless and miserable, you do pay attention. Thus does your life cease to be as much yours as it was just a moment before. The gods know this, but they have kept this insightful observation for their own delectation and benefit ere now. They wouldn’t dream of imparting this intelligence to you; “free will” for humans being one of the most potent and popular of their shrewd devices for controlling the not so sapiens homo.

Let me make one thing clear, for sharing this with you I shall be persona non grata at Olympus tonight, for if mankind knew just how little true freedom their gods have allowed us, there would be such a revolution as has never been even imagined before, much less consummated. And the gods would surely have to make concessions, or they would never regain exalted position and control… and what would their excellencies do then to amuse themselves at our expense?

What is your portent saying?

Portents must be clear but capable of complete misunderstanding. In other words, when reviewing an event that could be a portent, two reasonably intelligent people must be capable of drawing two dramatically different conclusions, for a portent is not a directive… not a declaration… if it were the gods would be most unhappy… for if their signs could be so easily read by everyone the muddles beloved of these ancient deities would cease and the gods who already have to wrestle with the matter that is eternity…would fall into even deeper despair; for they already have too little to do and far too much time in which to do it. Remember, their irritation, ennui and pique become the basis for our misery. No wonder they don’t want us to know.

Christmas portents by the hour.

The gods realize humans are short sighted, careless, capable of massive confusions and misunderstandings. Thus, the game becomes determining the precise formula that will give us clues (but not too many) and insight (but not too much). Even the Olympian gods are not born knowing these things; they must learn. And they do so at our expense, for what are we humans for if not to provide the wherewithal for their education and expertise? We are just so many lab rats to divinity. Nice work if you can get it.

Store sightings, catalogs, email.

The first shop in my neighborhood to deck the halls was the smoking shop in Harvard Square. Given the fact that teen-age smoking has dropped dramatically; thereby proving that even heedless adolescents can get the message if we adults have the patience and deliberation to beat them about the head with it.

As a result, the revenues at the smoking shop have most probably dropped… whilst their Harvard-charged rent has undoubtedly done the reverse. It is therefore obvious why they want to weigh in with a cheery seasonable greeting and display. “Give the gift of cancer.”

Even the most knowledgeable of advertising executives might think twice before taking on this daunting account. Still, there they are, hoping that the dwindling number of young smokers will purchase their diminished life span from them, especially if they can do so in the name of Jesus, who promised the eternal life the smoking shop is doing so much to curtail. Cool.

Catalog temptation (and ease) by mail and the ‘net.

Stores like the smoking shop need to lure you into their premises as early as possible before Christmas; their continuing survival depends on it. But catalogs live to remind you how difficult and irksome store shopping is in the age of catalogs and ‘net. Simply mentioning the invading hordes, the unending lines, the harassed staff, the parking difficulties is usually enough to tip the scales to catalog shopping online and off. That persuaded me. As a result the last several years such shopping constitutes all my shopping.

The problem is the proliferation of mail-order Christmas catalogs, especially after you become a proven buyer. Then you may expect to hear from each catalog at least 3-4 times before their last frenzied promotion, hitting about December 15. All prophesy consumer distress if you fail to ACT NOW, visit their website and ORDER!

But here the retail stores re-emerge as they reap the considerable advantages deriving from procrastinators like you. At this point you will most assuredly wish you had heeded their October warning. You will pledge to do better next year. You won’t, of course. And so you’ll keep your name on every list; a portent of things to come, especially purchases you’re sure to make. They know that, even if you don’t.

Polishing the silver.

In my house there is one certain activity that indicates the coming of Christmas. That is polishing the silver. It is a very time-consuming task, taking a couple of days. Mercedes Joseph, so giving and warm in all her aspects, will take these traits and leave the silver burnished into eye-popping radiance. It’s a significant part of our invitation to the Prince of Peace, an invitation that will see us clambering up step ladders to clean the chandeliers in all the rooms to ensure that all is brilliant and every facet sparkles. So that there is not a single molecule of tracked in dirt or bunched carpet. We work hard to make it perfect; we work early and late to make it perfect… and we do it all because of the advent of this harbinger of our salvation; because we will do it, not because anyone tells us what to do or oversees our efforts, evaluating what we do.

We do it, because this is Christmas and the greatest gift we give is our voluntary adherence and a belief that starts in our hearts and has no ending whatsoever.

That is why October 13, I awoke to the strains of my favorite carol running through my head, “God rest you merry, gentlemen/Let nothing you dismay”, first released in 1760. In an instant I find Bing Crosby’s 1945 version; then in a search engine one other version after another, including a rendition by “Barenaked Ladies” (2004). Only the very young can find the sniggering humor in such sophomoric nomenclature, but today I don’t care.

For you see, every off key note I sing proves that I have become a portent myself of the great event en route “For Jesus Christ our Savior/Was born upon this Day”, and we rejoice in the Good News passed from me and mine, to you and yours, to a burdened world which needs “tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy”, the true meaning of Christmas and why we gentlemen and gentlewomen rest merry and shall remain so long past the day and season itself.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

About the Author

Now with near seven decades of a successful writing career, Dr. Lant is, he likes to say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age 5 continue. Sixty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs; worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything you ever write. https://writerssecret.samcart.com/products/writers-secrets-package 


Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

‘Hush, little baby, don’t say a word, Papa’s gonna buy you…’ The minefield that is the ‘perfect’ gift and why the person getting it will never forgive you.

gift_Author’s program note. Over the course of your life, you’ll give a cart load of gifts. Gifts for people getting engaged, gifts for getting married, even gifts for getting divorced. There are gifts for going away and gifts for coming back. There are gifts for job promotion and gifts upon retirement. There are gifts for Christmas… and gifts for birthdays…. gifts for lovers… and, of course, the gifts you give yourself for coping with the utterly thankless responsibility of ensuring that this mountain of gifts arrives on time and always with the thoughtful consideration expected, required… and no doubt given!


Just reading this (very) partial list of gift giving occasions and events makes me fatigued and anxious. So many to give to… so little time… and as for the bucks required… Daunting! Exhausting! Downright intimidating! It seems like an awful lot of work for the fleeting “pleasure” of seeing the recipient’s beady eyes bore into your hapless offering, the entire future of your relationship hinging on what you’re giving and the terrible scrutiny it’s certain to receive by not only the closely inspecting and ultra finicky recipient… but also by every single person who will receive (whether they like it or not) the recipient’s staggeringly detailed report (in triplicate) on every aspect of what you gave.

It’s enough to drive a body to drink. I wonder whether there’s anything left in that bottle of cheap schnapps Uncle Ernie palmed off on me last Christmas.


Well, I want you to know that I’m not going to take it anymore. I mean, I’ve been bled enough, raked over the coals enough, embarrassed enough, chagrined, attacked, insulted, berated, demeaned, degraded, excoriated and humiliated enough by the whole stinking business which you and I both know is a conspiracy cooked up by a posse of shameless, rapacious robbers, like the owners of catalogs selling overpriced and completely useless bibelots along with licensed marauders who sell wilted flowers and low grade chocolates with high fallutin names sporting princely prices.

Everyone knows these criminals are mostly aging gay men, precious hair strands (fewer by the minute) arrayed in flagrant pompadour, wearing too much bling and an ocean of cheap scent with names like “Passionate Embrace” and “Te quiero”, not merely perfume but an eternal wish.

They have to sell tons of this egregious bric-a-brac to get the bucks required to give endless presents to their much younger boyfriends who demand gifts, then turn up their perfect aquiline noses at what they get, while demanding still more. Oh, my, what a muddle!

That’s why I am setting up something you and I both need. I call it Gift Givers Anonymous, and it’s a place we can hie to whenever a gift is given or received and we need to sound off. The first meeting is hereby called to order. Since I invented this baby, I get to go first.

Agenda for gift sound-off by the founder.

1) Lavish gifts given by me to people who failed to appreciate them sufficiently, if they were even appreciated at all.

2) Paltry gifts given to me by cheap-skates who lavished neither care nor concern nor any consideration at all on what they gave me.

Dear friend, now that you have the agenda, let’s get down to the essential business of blaming others and praising each and every generous gesture, no matter how small, we have ever made. This will take some substantial time because generosity and munificence are my middle names; not to mention that the milk of human kindness runs thick and malted in my veins.

The Music. I have chosen as the music to accompany this long-overdue article a song we have all heard from our earliest days when dandled on parental lap. It is called “Hush, Little Baby”. You’ll find it in any search engine many different versions of this song — whose lyricist and composer have been lost; (no doubt due to someone whose gifts were not in the fields of efficiency and management.)

Everyone and his brother has changed the lyrics. Still I found a very peppy version I quite like, by my near neighbor in Cambridge, Yo Yo Ma cleverly partnered with Bobby McFerrin, a man whose incandescent smile, far beyond mere happiness, suggests receiving a great big present, like having Ma play for him for free. Anyway, go listen to it now and sing along with the lyrics about a luckless man who kept buying things for his spoiled rug rat, things that kept breaking, cracking, ripping, fading, irritating, disappointing.

“Hush, little baby, don’t say a word/ Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird/ And if that mockingbird won’t sing/ Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring/ And if that diamond ring turns brass/ Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass.”

Urgent personal note: I trust the lyricist who chronicled all these problems contacted the Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce about them. Such a string of bad luck is more than coincidental. Take my word on that. See for yourself…

Great gifts, surprising consequences.

Ok, it’s time to dig into my immense, colossal, huge, astonishing array of stories about how I have given much and more often than not been “rewarded” by the back of the receiver’s hand. I am chagrined to expose these tawdry events, but the truth demands it. Besides, I have carried this burden alone long enough. Just the thought of sharing it amongst all of you makes me positively giddy.

Here is a tale I could never tell (no matter how liberating) but for the fact our organization is pledged to a secrecy so impenetrable that even master spy Edward J. Snowden could not breach it. Alors…

Each year at Christmas I lavished presents on my dear mama, including the annual seasonal commemorations and heirlooms produced by America’s greatest silver smiths and crystal producers, Lennox, Towle, Gorham, et al. I was a prodigious purchaser of these stylish items, ranging in price from $40 to $150. I bought lavishly and gave lavishly, earnestly believing that they were received with all appropriate gestures, touching words, and loving regard. Over the course of many years, these valuable gifts became a trove, if not a king’s ransom, then surely a baron’s.

Then one day, close to the holiday, the phone rang. Mother. And I sat up ready for the expected gratitude to be rained upon me — not. “I got two more of those blanketty blank bells today. I’ve been meaning to tell you… I HATE THESE THINGS! Stop sending them!!!”

This was bad. But worse followed. At Christmas…. The most unforgiving gift season of every year.

One year, feeling exceptionally flush with cash, I ventured into F.A.O. Schwarz, a place of magic where the deepest of pockets is required. Anyway, this year I had those packed pockets and so ventured forth with confidence and elan. I was going to buy my beloved niece Chelsea and nephew Kyle something Over The Top, something grand, opulent, in-your-face, in short the very things one finds in wanton abundance at this entrancing place. And so, faster than you can say American Express, I selected and had shipped presents designed to awe. Alas, they did their job too well.

Fast forward a few days. Phone call. Sister, mother of above-mentioned enfants terrible. I was ready for gratitude, for praise, for rose petals and cotton candy. Instead I received a good and thorough lecture, exceedingly long and detailed, about the impertinence of giving magnificently when the merely adequate would do.

In plain English, this meant that while my whopping presents (a bear bigger than he was; a stunning miniature silver tea service for her) were favored by the kiddos, hers would be sneered at and disdained. And That Would Never Do. Thus, the radiant kindness and most considerate of gestures was dismissed as a clever ploy for estranging stingy parents from impressionable children preferring their suave and subtle uncle, an unscrupulous man of shrewd calculations, unequaled manipulations, and malignant stratagems; a man who has gotten his own back, recovering his wounded self-esteem, thanks to the empathetic and supportive membership at Gift Givers Anonymous.

Thanks and a superb gift-giving idea.

As the exuberant applause began to wane, my sentiments as rendered above having brought near chaos celebrating our collective freedom from the double thrall of gifts inadequately acknowledged and inadequate gifts given, I capped my timely presentation with one last idea, that each member (and members only, please) draw up a list of approved items desired, in this way to ensure that only the right gifts be given, not gifts we had been forced to say we liked, but which we most decidedly did not. Prospective brides have been doing this for decades, which in no way detracts from my unique emendation and improvement.

Please, then, note what I most humbly request: a pizza cutter, shower soap dish, one aluminum cullender, one pair wooden salad  tongs, six wooden hangers and three violet or lavender sachets for eradicating persistent moth infestation. Then the meeting was adjourned, members handed my list as they left, revivified, refreshed in spirit.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered all my lists in the trash, the last one defaced with this sentiment partly obscured by a huge red X. “Give you gifts? I’ll be d–ned if I do. I resign!”

Was it something I said?

About the Author

Now with near seven decades of a successful writing career, Dr. Lant is, he likes to say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age
5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs;
worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of
his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has
delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing
course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything
you ever write. www.writerssecrets.com

Get a year of insights and tips like these in Dr. Lant’s extraordinary online course where critiquing of your work is done LIVE with your reading and working on your rewrite!

Come visit Dr. Lant and the Writers Secrets team in the Live Meeting Center – a place to gather and be listened to!
For fellow scribblers, writing peers, appreciators of literature and those who like good conversation!

Go to: http://www.TheLiveBusinessCenter.com/?id=27538

George J. Quacker Production

Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

For the lonely at the holidays.

man_in_Santa_hatby  Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. There are about forty days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, depending on just when the first holiday falls… and for millions these can be the most painful days of the year, a time of acute loneliness, isolation, and despair. All you want to do is put on a brave face… and get through them as quickly as possible, wounded and sore just as little as possible.

But this year I want you to have the best holidays you’ve had in years, maybe decades… I want you to get more, far more, from them, enjoy yourself and spread the maximum joy to the maximum number. In other words, I want you to be the impresario of happiness, expecting nothing in return, just the real point of the season: giving joy to the world.

Let’s start with music… One of the things that depresses folks at the holidays is the endless renditions of unbearably chipper, even nauseating holiday ditties, you know, of the “Frosty the Snowman” variety. So much sugar and fructose is sure to set your teeth on edge. Luckily you can fight back, at least at home by identifying some non-holiday songs you like and filling your abode with loveliness, just the things to please you.

In this connection, I selected “The Shadow Waltz” from “Gold Diggers of 1933.” It’s a pre-code Warner Bros. musical film directed by Mervyn LeRoy with songs by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics), staged and choreographed by Busby Berkeley. It’s the perfect film, with the perfect music to take you out of your sad state and self-pitying condition and set you… dancing. In an instant your feet will start an insistent tapping that means you must get up and whirl a pillow around the room.

“In  the Winter let me bring the Spring to you/Let me feel that I mean everything to you/ Love’s old song will be new/ In the shadows when I come and sing to you.”

One after another, Hollywood’s most popular male vocalists (Dick Powell, Bing Crosby, Rudy Vallee) had a go at this haunting tune and its lilting message,

“Let me linger long/Let me live my song.”

Go now to any search engine and see which version you prefer… they’re all wonderful.

Now let’s get started crafting the holidays you want and which will make you as happy as possible.

1) Plan yourself “Merrie Little Holidays”.

Each of us needs a highly personal quantity of the holidays; this can range from 24-hour-a- day immersion, or just a little bit Christmas morning. You need to determine just how much you need… and arrange matters accordingly. Remember, there is no “right” answer, no “right” amount. It all depends on you. Thus, honesty is essential.

Far too many people arrange their holidays according to what others want and expect from them. But here you’re arranging for the precise amount that is perfect for — you!

2) To make sure you get the proportions just right, write down what you want in priority order and what you don’t. Don’t fib… and don’t consider any one’s wishes but your own. This in itself will make these holidays distinctive. And if somebody you know doesn’t like your choices, advise them to go to any search engine and find George Gershwin’s grand tune “Who Cares?” (lyrics by Ira Gershwin) from the 1931 musical “Of Thee I Sing”.

Offer them one of your least favorite bon-bons; you know, the one you sampled and put back in the box. Serves ’em right. I think you’re catching the right spirit now… Now kick up your heels and sing out…

“Who cares?/ So long as I care for you and you care for me”.  Oh, mama! The holidays will never be the same. And isn’t that the idea?

3) Plan how many decorations you want. Remember, this is entirely your call. You decide whether you want a huge display in and out or just one little candle in the window. Again, write down what you want… and what you don’t. Feels good doesn’t it? Yeah, I thought you’d like this new approach to the holidays.

Then do what you’ve done every year of your life; dig into the attic, basement and closets to review your decorations. But with a brand-new eye and purpose this year. You are going to use only what YOU want. Remember, these are YOUR holidays… and the decor must suit but a single person. And if others don’t like it? Revert to George and Ira Gershwin above. “Who cares?”

4) Now food. This is crucial. We all have our holiday favorites, of course; mine are too numerous to mention. But the holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without them. Again, it’s time for a list. What “must” you have? What don’t you want under any circumstances. And, yes, complete and total honesty is required. (Admit it, Aunt Annie’s dishes you so extravagantly praised in years past made you sick to your stomach. Now you don’t have to eat them, like them, or praise them. Delicious.)

Having written your list and prioritized what you want, it’s time for The Search. Of course this must be done online. Search under such categories as “comfort food”, “comfort food baskets” and the actual name of particular comfort foods you loved but are not available in your neighborhood now.

In my case, one of my several once loved (and never forgotten) special foods was Jay’s Potato Chips. 55 years ago and more, my darling grammie used to give them to me every afternoon when my paper route ended in her kitchen. Now you may not regard these beloved chips as holiday fare… but I most assuredly do; along with a bundle of others. You can bet that I’ll get a gift basket of them —  for myself of course — long before the holidays are over. Will I share it? Don’t bet the ranch.

Now choose… alone, a little less alone, not at all alone.

It’s time to consider your holiday people options. Do you want a lot, some, or none at all? Remember it’s your choice. Use the tango principle for making it. And thus I give you one of the greatest tangos ever written: “Orchids in the Moonlight”, written for the 1933 film “Flying Down To Rio”. I like Rudy Vallee’s seductive version best.

What to wear… or dispense with. Always your choice.

You may think that you’ve been alone in past years because you’re too old, but you’re wrong. Any age is the right age if you have the right attitude and are willing to pull out all the stops. “Orchids in the Moonlight” will help.

To ignite its smouldering passion, what you need is a broad red ribbon, tied on like the contestants in the “Miss America” pageant. You’ll also need a red, red rose (clenched in your teeth in the approved manner) and you’ll need that all-important melody, the melody Rudy Vallee renders so well. One more thing: for the ultimate look add a Santa cap. It’s such a chic, unutterably alluring chapeau. Can you really afford to go without it?

Now, dance alone or dance with any number of visitors who accept your invitation. Be sure to keep some extra ribbon on hand, and some extra roses, too. Some people, imagine, will come unprepared. Overlook such faux pas, the better to achieve the greater good.

“When orchids bloom in the moonlight/And lovers vow to be true I still can dream in the moonlight/Of one dear night that we knew.”

Lovely, isn’t it? Seductive… enchanting. So YOU!

And now it’s time for the grand finale, compliments of one of the Great Republic’s most scandalous performers, Josephine Baker. In 1927 she had a hit on her hands, a hit entitled “Then I’ll Be Happy.” You’ll be happy, too, if you rethink your entire approach to the holidays; indeed, your entire approach to life. Don’t wait for miracles to occur… make your own miracles and share them with folks less inventive than you are.  Here’s how this one works: Give these lyrics to each person who visits you and make them serenade you with them before they leave:

“I wanna go where you go do what you do/Love when you love then I’ll be happy I wanna sigh when you sigh cry when you cry/ Smile when you smile then I’ll be happy.”

Oh, just one more thing…

… the doorbell just rang. There was a delivery gal with a look of profound respect in her eyes and the loveliest holiday bouquet. “Dr. Lant,” she said, “It’s from the President, President Obama, sir.” And she all but saluted. Now you and I know who ordered the flowers and wrote such a fulsome greeting on the card… but I assure you if he weren’t so busy just now he would have sent this colorful and respectful ensemble himself.

… I wonder if he likes to tango…

About the Author

Now with near seven decades of a successful writing career, Dr. Lant is, he likes to say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age
5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs;
worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of
his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has
delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing
course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything
you ever write. www.writerssecrets.com

Get a year of insights and tips like these in Dr. Lant’s extraordinary online course where critiquing of your work is done LIVE with your reading and working on your rewrite!

Come visit Dr. Lant and the Writers Secrets team in the Live Meeting Center – a place to gather and be listened to!
For fellow scribblers, writing peers, appreciators of literature and those who like good conversation!

Go to: http://www.TheLiveBusinessCenter.com/?id=27538

George J. Quacker Production

Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Cambridge senior citizen releases stunning manuscript of Herod, King of the Jews. Astonishing revelations from the man accused of ‘The Slaughter of the Innocents’ and intended murder of Jesus The Christ.

Herodby  Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s note: I have held this story privily unto myself for over four decades now. Not a day goes by, not an hour, that I have failed to examine this manuscript, touch it, venerate it, until I have come to know each sentence, every word, indeed every smudge and discoloration.

Since the very day this story begins, so many years ago, this document has determined the course of my life. Instead of merely discovering perhaps the most important of historical documents — the apologia pro vita sua of Herod, King of the Jews, archetype of majesty, I have found a master… for whatever role I have played in this matter, it has always been Herod who has called all the shots, just as he called them every day of his life, as much a King in death as he was most assuredly King in life.

This papyrus clearly marked with the royal seal of Herod, King has held me in thrall. I have wondered, indeed dwelt on the matter with near manic intensity, whether I was right to withhold notifying my dissertation advisor of a find I knew almost instantly was a matter of the first importance, a certain wonder to the world, significant to people everywhere.

I was, however, just a second-year graduate student at the time and was as such unsure of my way; of no consequence or standing whatsoever. I decided then, and have lived with the consequences of this decision ever since, that when I was “ready” I would release the fateful document I have always known would make my career, guarantee a plum academic appointment, respect and admiration my certain portion…

… along, of course, with the jealous denunciations, painful abuses, and hurtful execrations of those who were determined to bring low anyone who threatens, as I and this seminal document would most certainly threaten, the version of events they had propounded and rested their careers, well being and reputations upon.

I was convinced then that I was not ready to withstand such abuse, which I knew was certain and so made the far-reaching decision to be silent and maintain this silence. Each time thereafter I determined I was at last “ready” for the world to know and take my rightful place amongst today’s Sadducees, I paused knowing the first query I would be universally subjected to was “why?”…. why had I waited even a single minute for revelation, the fateful query which even I recognized would undercut my case and make its acceptance even more difficult than I knew it would be.

Thus from the moment I determined I would not inform my advisor, would not inform anyone, my fate was sealed. Herod gained a loyal servant… I gained a boot on my neck, for I lived no longer my life; I lived only the life Herod, King permitted me. Here’s how it all began…

In Widener’s stacks, a bomb shell.

I was, I admit, a diligent, more plodding than brilliant student for all that Fair Harvard selected me. As such I was guaranteed a “good” job, at a “respectable” university… secured sustenance, but not one scintilla of the glory, fame and fanfare I yearned for. To avoid this fate, one known by most graduate students and the average Academician, I needed a dissertation that was at once meal ticket and masterpiece. And for that I needed just the right topic.

After discussion, I was given permission to write on the role of the “Slaughter of the Innocents” in the development of Christian theology, iconography, hagiography, and belief… and as such was immediately introduced to Herod, King, the designated villain of the matter.

Herod, scoundrel, murderer, infanticide, scourge of every decency, infamous traducer of every humane value, King.

The point of a dissertation, a doctoral thesis, is for the designated educational authorities to determine if you, aspirant to the Academy, can advance the cause of truth (“Veritas” as they simply say at Harvard) and, having advanced your point of view, defend it against all comers, and so enrich humanity.

It is the noblest occupation of all, the process through which assertions, however audacious and astonishing, shine out not as opinions but as Truth… thereby taking the place of mere arguments once regarded as important, now instead to be regarded as untenable propositions; no longer regarded as anything but the quaint beliefs of earlier, less enlightened times. All true scholars participate in this crucial work, indeed it is the major reason for the very existence of the Academy, where all work hard for wages ample but not excessive, shaping society, enriching society, advancing society word by careful word, idea by new idea.

I was proud to walk this road, honored, humble before such a great goal, determined to be worthy of the name Scholar. And so I opened my research on Herod (born 73/74 BCE, died 4 BCE aged 70); his reign (37-4 BCE), his wives (10), his children (at least 10), his vast achievements (particularly the construction of the Second Temple of Judaism and the astonishing engineering feat that was Caesarea Maritima and its breathtaking port, the envy of every governor and autocrat necessitous of tax revenues and wishing new ways to tap into the never ending bounty that was the trade of the Orient. Herod was the envy and inspiration of all, even unto the reigning Roman emperor himself.

The dark, sinister, paranoid, sleepless, fearful ruler, murder always at the ready to ease his uneasy spirit.

Then there was the “other” Herod, the one whose violent deeds continue to shock, disquiet, and disgust. This was a man of dark thoughts and darker deeds, a man whose penchant for murder as statecraft still reeks two millennia later. This was the man who killed his second wife Queen Mariamne, likely the only woman he ever loved; who then roamed the corridors of his many palaces calling her name, summoning her back to the life he had summarily ended.

He likewise killed his three sons by this queen as well as unnumbered officials, soldiers, priests, subjects, and nobles. Such a man well knew there would be jubilation at his death and so ordained that the leading men of every family, tribe, and section should die with him, thereby producing distress, lamentation and grief suitable for his stature and majesty.

Such a man could easily be thought to commit the unthinkable, the one act universally regarded as unmitigated evil, the act known to history as “The Slaughter of the Innocents”, enshrined for all the world to know and judge in The Holy Bible (St Matthew, 3,13-16)

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years and older, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.”

This was and has always been the gravamen against this notorious sovereign, a grave charge found no where else. Even so, this heinous deed was accepted by all, historical fact, the very gospel. My diligent researches revealed nothing more… until one unforgettable afternoon in the cool recesses of Widener Library.

There at the bottom of a dusty box, tied in heavy string, marked as a previously unopened, uncataloged bequest of Judaica was destiny in the form of a seal, the kind of official marking on the correspondence of some great man indicating a matter of significance. And so it most assuredly was…

The Gospel according to Herod, King of the Jews.

I would have removed the document from the box in any case. The shear beauty and intricacy of the seal, remarkably intact, assured that. Its design I later identified as an element from the facade of Herod’s masterwork, the Great Temple of the Jews. The document that followed was in Greek, a language Herod knew well from his extensive classical education.  Here, too, he had the advantage of me…

But  I knew enough to know the salutation was the king’s own. It said “Attend! To Herod, King!” He used the Greek word, “Basileus.”

Soon I was giving every moment that I could enter the stacks to this document; early and late I thought of nothing but its translation. But this was not enough. My poor Greek made for slow progress…. and so I determined to “borrow” this document from the library, promising to return it as soon as I had finished, but of course that day never dawned. I am looking at it now…

Obsession, a secret life, Herod rules my life.

Over the course of the next months, which ultimately turned into long years, my entire attention was focused on the document, which in due time proved to be a death-bed justification of the events of his momentous reign. The drift was always the same, I did such and such a thing because I was King, not saint.

Yes, he killed Queen Mariamne “a tiresome woman who would not keep to her place”. Yes, he murdered her brother the High Priest “an ambitious man with his eye on my crown and the head in it.”

Yes, he murdered his three sons by Mariamne “useless drones with only one interest in life… seeing me dead.”

The document, running some 5,000 words in the most elegant and sophisticated Greek imaginable, was a treasure trove of valuable insights. He made it clear each word was the word of a king, as such sacrosanct; that he would not deign to dissemble even if it were to his interest. And so he produced a document only the ultimate insider could have produced. That is why his remarks about “The Slaughter of the Innocents” disturbed me so…

In whose interest?

Herod, King, so renowned and powerful even on his bier that he could afford to tell the whole truth about himself, was forthright on this matter, too. He never saw any “wise men” (characteristically saying that he had been looking for such men quite unsuccessfully for his entire life); never received them; was never told that they sought the infant “King of the Jews”. If they had he could have directed them to dozens of such people in and around his kingdom, claimants to the throne being “common as dust”.

Moreover, should he have wished to kill the children of Bethlehem as the legend states, he could easily have found methods at once less flamboyant and more effective, starting a pest house there for instance, thereby introducing new plagues and contagions. He then went on to another matter. But before he did, he asked his reader to consider in whose interest such a canard might be. Certainly not his.

Over time the likely answer to Herod’s sharp question emerged. The early Christians lacked credibility and needed as many “miracles” as quickly as possible, to grow and prosper. Casting Herod as the certain cause for one of history’s most tragic and cruel events allowed the early fathers to dazzle by claiming miracles, indeed the very involvement of God Himself on their behalf, never mind it was untrue. Thus instead of this Biblical “truth”, I came to adhere to Herod’s no nonsense conclusion; that the entire matter of this slaughter was fraudulent, a pack of convenient lies composed for their own purposes.

What was I to do? I had by now been expelled from Harvard, not for the theft of one of history’s most important documents; that was child’s play. Rather for neglecting my other work and classes. Thus, I had even less standing than before. And so the matter rested for all these years. Thus, I allowed the selfish beneficiaries of the hoax known as “The Slaughter of the Innocents” to continue their falsehood and deception.

A special message from Dr. Lant.

Three months ago, I found in the lobby of the building where I live a  hand-delivered package hand-addressed to me. I noticed at once it had no return address. Per my invariable custom, I opened the box at once, only to find all the documents collected by the ex-Harvard graduate student whose research on the matter has been so meticulous and invaluable. It even contained the headline he once expected to appear upon publication of his discovery.

However while I have used this headline above, I am by no means sure I shall ever publish this article, much less the poor man’s work, acute discoveries and conclusions as he clearly expected me to do. Here’s the rub…

Myths are important, you see, none more so than this one. For, yes, I am fully persuaded King Herod, not the single reference found in The Holy Bible, was right, that the research of our scholar was right. However their conclusions are inconvenient, to say nothing more, to churches and Christians everywhere. They need belief and Herod’s truth would only unsettle them so, especially at Christmas. For the story of Christmas relies on Herod, the three wise men, the dream God gave Joseph to flee into Egypt, and “the slaughter of the Innocents’.  You see my dilemma….

**** EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a FICTIONAL STORY by the author woven from a real life event.

About the Author

Now with near seven decades of a successful writing career, Dr. Lant is, he likes to say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age
5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs;
worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of
his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has
delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing
course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything
you ever write. www.writerssecrets.com


Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

My most memorable Christmas, delivered by hand, changing my life. Now my time

Dr._Lants_benefactorAuthor’s program note. One of the most marvelous things about the Internet is that wherever you are the riches of the world are just a few keystrokes away, and this is never more true than at Christmas, when you can, wherever you are, remember, access what the most fertile, inventive, and creative minds crafted to celebrate the birth of our Messiah. It is a feast, a banquet, an embarras de choix that never palls, even if you do have distinct touches of Scrooge about you.

One of my favorite Christmas carols never fails to exult, thrill, and cleanse. I always feel better hearing it… and if you know it, I suspect you feel the same. It’s called “Carol of the Bells,” and if you don’t know it, it’s my pleasure to introduce it to you. You’ll be glad to have it. Either way, go to any search engine to find it. There are many fine versions.

Play it now… turn it up and up again. This is no pallid anthem but a stirring declaration that something of transcendent importance is about to occur… and the bells are ringing out to ensure you don’t miss it and are not late.

It is of Ukrainian origin; a 1904 choral miniature work by Mykola Leontovych, set to the words of an ancient Ukrainian pagan chant. It tells the tale of a swallow flying into a household to proclaim the plentiful and bountiful year that that fortunate family will have. Given the rocky road we’ve all traveled this year, I am sure you hope that swallow visits you… as I do.


I was just 26 in 1974, the time in one’s life when, having assiduously pursued education, self-improvement and development, one is ready to stride life’s stage and announce to the world that you are ready to demonstrate your powers and do your bit, however small, to make things better on terra firma. You have your health, your teeth, an ample mane, and that crucial “never say die” attitude, so necessary, sure to be sorely tested in the days ahead. You can be certain of that. In short, you’re as ready for life as you’ll ever be. And that life bloomed for me in 1974…. when I set out, like the protagonist of every great novel, not just to see the world, but to conquer it.

And so this year, I tasted life, and tasted deep I tell you, in the city where everyone finds the England — and the life — they desire… London.

London, beloved, rich, desired, accepting.

If one believes in Fate, as I didn’t then but believe now, I encountered mine in what I regarded, not alone either, as the greatest city on earth… where every minute was like the best champagne and every person delivered gifts one had waited a lifetime to receive and was ready to savor. In this year, in this city everything was possible… so long as one was bold enough to dream it, bold enough to seize it. And I was… and I did.

Robert Montgomery Scott…. His Excellency will be pleased…

I can see him clearly in my mind’s eye… and will never forget. He was a gentleman to his fingertips… which meant cordial manners, polished speech, and, most of all, consideration; for a gentleman is nothing without that. When I entered his office in the Embassy of my United States, in Grosvenor Square, he was direct, but most kind; I could see at once he meant to be my benefactor…

I had written Walter Annenberg, U.S. Ambassador that year, to see if he would assist me in gaining access to the Royal pageants I was studying and wished to see at first hand. Ambassador Annenberg, a titan of American media, richer than Croessus, was the best kind of envoy being gifted with means and the desire to disperse them liberally. He also understood the need that media have for never- ending content and the need to encourage the creators of such content, people like me. And so he asked the debonair Mr. Scott to receive the young Harvard man and see what could be done. He was no doubt scrutinizing me, drawing his own conclusions; that was his job. But the scrutiny was oblique, a chat, not an inquisition. And after this most amiable inspection he said, “For the next year, whenever the Ambassador is invited to any Royal ceremony, you shall go as a member of his official party.”

The skies had opened and the road below was clear. I was grateful then… and grateful now because he — and the Ambassador — had given me just what I needed, just when I needed it. And how often does that happen in even the longest life? But it was happening to me, in 1974, in London, and I put the bit between my teeth and relished the run.

That summer there was a shower of largesse… not least because of the Harvard Traveling Fellowship bestowed on me, a Fellowship which made it all possible. I went to the annual ceremony of every order of chivalry… the Bath, the Order of the British Empire, the St.Michael and St. George, and delved deep into the mysteries of Thistle, St. Patrick, and Garter. I loved every minute of it and, for current use and later reflection and proof that I had lived, wrote it all down, fodder for many articles to come. I had occasion to thank the Ambassador over and over again…

… especially on the day when I attended the ceremony marking the 25th wedding anniversary of H.M. The Queen and her Consort of Edinburgh. My reserved place was right behind one of Prince Philip’s sisters, as if I were a sprig of the Family Royal myself.

But money at an end and the pressing need to harness reality brought me back to Cambridge, to Harvard, to graduate, to get a job I was perhaps destined to hate; how could the mundane details of “real” life compare?

But I had a scheme… to write my way to freedom… and so back to London where in due course I returned in December of 1977, there to hand-deliver a proposal for my first book, to Hamish Hamilton the famous publisher whose ranks I wished to join.

No knock. Just a letter.

It was Christmas Eve, 1977. My friends and I were going to Covent Garden, dressed to the nines, bright, mordant, as sophisticated as earnest money and deadly effect could make us.

Just before we left, a letter was slipped under the door… it was hand addressed to me. I opened it with alacrity only to read, “I regret to inform you…” It was on Hamish Hamilton’s stationery. I didn’t complete the letter and was marooned in such unhappiness no Sugar Plum fairy could lift my spirits.

Upon returning, I saw the letter, on the floor. Robert Dobson, so often in the right place at the right time, picked it up and said, “Hadn’t you better read this?”

And so I did… and in instant, a single instant, there was “Joy to the World” in my heart as my now editor Roger Machell wrote, “I regret to inform you we cannot accept your proposal as written but if you make a few minor changes…” A contract and cheque were waiting for me after Christmas at his office. And so “Insubstantial Pageant: Ceremony and Confusion at Queen Victoria’s Court” was born… and another benefactor stepped forward, Christmas Eve mind, to advance my career and provide succor.

Now it my turn, 64 this year as I am, to give to others in remembrance of the many, now too often gone before, who have given to me. God having blessed me so, and especially that unforgettable Christmas, makes that imperative, pressing, essential, a great joy and comfort.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

About the Author

Now with near seven decades of a successful writing career, Dr. Lant is, he likes to say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age 5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs; worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything you ever write.  https://writerssecret.samcart.com/products/writers-secrets-package


Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.