WINGSPREAD Ezine for May, 2023

Spreading your wings in a perplexing world
May 2023                                                    James P. Hurd

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  • Blessed Unbeliever published!
  • Writer’s Corner
  • New story
  • This month’s puzzler
  • Wingspread Ezine subscription information
  • Wisdom


It’s exciting to see the interest in Blessed Unbeliever, a novel about religious zeal that morphs into religious doubt, and the persistence of pursuing grace.

Sean McIntosh lives in a California world of Fundamentalist certainty—until his world unravels. He’s trying to make sense of losing his girlfriend and losing his dream of becoming a missionary pilot. And he’s shaken by contradictions in the Bible. His despair leads him to commit a blasphemous act and declare himself an atheist—all the while at Torrey Bible Institute!

Blessed Unbeliever (paper or Kindle version) can be found at Wipf and Stock Publishers , Amazon or wherever good books are sold.

Writer’s Corner

Punctuation matters!

Word of the Month:  EN MEDIA RES. Latin, meaning “in the middle of things.” It is effective to start a story, not at the beginning, but en media res, just before or just after the climactic event. Then you can fill in the details as the story unfolds.

Tip of the month:  “If it sounds like ‘writing,’ I rewrite it.” Elmore Leonard. Our readers should be captured by the story, not impressed by “the writing.” Writing is only the container, the medium that carries the story to the reader.

Your turn: Who is the most interesting character you’ve ever read about, biographical or fictional? (I like Sherlock Holmes. He is hilarious, but he doesn’t know that.)

This month’s puzzler

Adapted from Car Talk Puzzler archives

I’m going to give a series of names, a series of words, okay?

I’m going to give you a piece of the series, a sub-set of words, and your task will be to give me the rest of the series and tell me what the series is. 

And here they are: 

  • Juliet.
  • Kilo.
  • Lima.
  • Mike.
  • November.

And that’s it. That’s all I can give you. Pretty rough one huh? Good luck.

(Answer in next month’s Wingspread ezine.)

Last month’s puzzler: 

Recall that Ralph, an auto mechanic, can’t seem to get through airport security. He empties all his pockets, even takes off his belt, but still sets off the alarm. The TSA guy asks, “What’s your work?” Ralph replies, “Auto mechanic.” “Ah; that explains it!” says the TSA guy. What did the TSA guy realize?

Answer: To protect his feet, Ralph wore steel-toed boots—which set off the alarm. Removing them, he zipped through security.

New story: “Fearful of Finding the Fatal Flaw”

. . . In short, I became a Bible nerd. My faith depended on big words: dispensationalism, eternal security, election, the millennium, pre-Tribulational rapture and especially inerrancy. We sang, “The Bible stands, like a rock undaunted, far above the wrecks of time. . . .” The Bible was without error (in the original). . . . But I despaired of finding the answers I was seeking. I even considered becoming an atheist. . . .

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Last football wisdom (I promise!)

What does the average Alabama player get on his SATs? 

How many Michigan State freshmen football players does it take to change a light bulb? 
None. That’s a sophomore course. 

How did the Auburn football player die from drinking milk? 
The cow fell on him. 

Two Texas A&M football players were walking in the woods. One of them said, ” Look, a dead bird.” 
The other looked up in the sky and said, “Where?” 

What do you say to a Florida State football player dressed in a three-piece suit? 
“Will the defendant please rise.”

How can you tell if a Clemson football player has a girlfriend? 
There’s tobacco juice on both sides of his pickup truck. 

What do you get when you put 32 Kentucky cheerleaders in one room? 
A full set of teeth. 

University of Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh is only going to dress half of his players for the game this week. The other half will have to dress themselves. 

How is the Kansas football team like an opossum? 
They play dead at home and get killed on the road 

How do you get a former University of Miami football player off your porch? 
Pay him for the pizza.

These exquisite insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to four-letter words.

1. “He had delusions of adequacy ”
Walter Kerr

2. “He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”
Winston Churchill

3. “I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” Clarence Darrow

4. “He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

5. “Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”
(Ernest Hemingway about William Faulkner)

6. “Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.”
Moses Hadas

7. “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”
Mark Twain

8. “He has no enemies but is intensely disliked by his friends.”
Oscar Wilde

9. “I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one.”
George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

10. “Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second… if there is one.”
Winston Churchill, in response

11. “I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here”
Stephen Bishop

12. “He is a self-made man and worships his creator.”
John Bright

13. “I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.”
Irvin S. Cobb

14. “He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.”
Samuel Johnson

15. “He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.
Paul Keating

16. “He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.”
Forrest Tucker

17. “Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?”
Mark Twain

18. “His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.”
Mae West

19. “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”
Oscar Wilde

20. “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts… for support rather than illumination.”
Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

21. “He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.”
Billy Wilder

22. “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But I’m afraid this wasn’t it.”
Groucho Marx

23. Exchange between Lady Astor & Winston Churchill:
Lady Astor: If you were my husband I’d give you poison.
Churchill: Madam: If you were my wife, I’d drink it.

24. “He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.”  Abraham Lincoln

25. “There’s nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won’t cure.”
Jack E. Leonard

26. “They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.”
Thomas Brackett Reed

27. “He inherited some good instincts from his Quaker forebears, but by diligent hard work, he overcame them.” James Reston (about Richard Nixon)

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