Tag: Will

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We have been binge watching The Crown lately, being just as interested in the intimate details of the British royal family as any other red blooded American. And why not? It may be fiction but it isn’t drawn from a comic book. That digression aside, one episode in particular caught my attention, the attempted coup with […]

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Not “Will,” Not “Willy,” But Just Plain “Bill”


That’s what Bill H., my most memorable friend, liked to be called. Just Bill.

Bill became a student at the community college where I taught English after he retired in his sixties from his ceiling installation business. He was a working-class Master Carpenter who had grown up on Mission Hill, Roxbury (moving constantly to stay ahead of the landlords), during the depression. He remembered his parents dancing in the kitchen the night FDR won. After high school, he got his carpenter’s license and joined the union–he was a loyal union Democrat all his life. He also joined the army and fought in Europe, seeing men blown up just yards away. Later, he guarded Italian POWs somewhere in the South. He got to like them. Once he rode his Harley to my house to drive me in my Honda to the airport. As we took off he said, “You know, Jimmy, this is the first Japanese car I have ever been in.” Though he had served in Europe, he never forgave what happened to our POWs in the Pacific Asian theater.

Group Writing: Motherhood and Will


I am mother to six intelligent strong-willed individuals. On this day, August 27, I rejoice in the example of St. Monica, whose feast day it is, and take the opportunity to reflect on Will and Motherhood.

For a mother, one part of the job is to exert her will on her babies and make them do as she says. She must learn when to exert that will, and when to relax and allow the children to be free. As they grow she must teach them her will so that they can learn to do it without her around. Eventually, the plan is, they will learn how to do what is right without her and choose to do it on their own, thus becoming useful adults.

“I Won’t!”


My father was a remarkable man. Over the course of his long life, he met very few men whose will was stronger than his own. Here’s the story of one of them:

Shortly after World War II, Dad was ordered to the ancient Northern Nigerian city of Sokoto to serve as the Assistant District Officer (that is, as everyone else’s general dogsbody) in the British Colonial Service. It was his first posting, and the culmination of a childhood dream that had as its origin the adventure books of Edgar Wallace and the stories of his hero, Sanders of the River.

When I was entering my teens, nineteen out of any twenty English boys you picked would have known of Wallace, and most of them would have known who Sanders was as well. Those who did not, had simply not yet got around to reading the eleven books that Wallace produced, between 1911 and 1928, featuring his hero, the legendary District Commissioner Sanders, together with Captain Hamilton and Lieutenant Bones, the soldiers commanding his detachment of Hausa Police, and Bosambo, the wily Monrovian who Sanders plucked from the jungle to be his right-hand, man, who then became Chief of the Akasava, a tribe until then rent by internecine feuding. As I found out later in life, kasava (manioc) is the staple food around Forcados, where Wallace was stationed for part of his term in West Africa. The simple addition of an “A” to this common Nigerian word makes it a thoroughly acceptable and relevant tribal name. But I digress. [Note well: The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree in this regard.]

I Will; You WILL


I just started my 24th year as an elementary school teacher. A little over half of that time, I no longer had my own children living at home. I didn’t begin this teaching career until my “baby” was in eighth grade, so I’ve lived a different life than many of my younger co-workers. But, since I don’t have to take care of my family of little children after I spend my day in the classroom, I’ve grown quite fond of my off-duty life.

Which brings me to the topic for this month’s Ricochet group writing project — “will.” During the break in the summer, and whenever there is a school holiday, I get to exercise a great deal of free will. If I want to sleep late, I will. If I want to drive out to the coast and see the ocean for a few days, I will. Whenever I have the opportunity to go visit my grandchildren, or brothers and sisters in another state, I will. My life is mine for the choosing. But, once that calendar page turns to the beginning of the school year, “my will” is turned into “you WILL.”

Will Smith and the Will to Succeed


As the summer reaches peak heat and humidity, my overheated brain turned to the interaction of Will and will. Will Smith’s greatest artistic work was about the will to succeed. It blew apart the dominant cultural narratives, of black men as economic losers, and of American capitalism as a rigged system. At the same time, Will did not sugarcoat reality, faithfully conveying Chris Gardner’s autobiographical story about the pursuit of happiness.

Will Smith leveraged a middle-class safe-rapper persona into the starring role in a situation comedy, from which he launched into Hollywood stardom. In the late 1980s, he performed as The Fresh Prince with DJ Jazzy Jeff, achieving enough success to attract the attention of television studios. “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” was a play on the old Beverly Hillbillies, updated with a streetwise kid from Philadelphia being sent to live with relatives in Bel Air.

Six seasons of television success postured Smith for comedy roles on the big screen and he became a money-making machine. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, his movies have generated:

Will of the Wisp


will-o’-the-wisp: noun

  1. (Also called: friar’s lantern, ignis fatuus, jack-o’-lantern) A pale flame or phosphorescence sometimes seen over marshy ground at night. It is believed to be due to the spontaneous combustion of methane or other hydrocarbons originating from decomposing organic matter
  2. A person or thing that is elusive or allures and misleads

There are probably few ship types surrounded by as much romance as the Civil War blockade runner. It was risky, but not illegal. It was not smuggling. Rather, it was an attempt to circumvent a wartime blockade – a blockade that was legal only in so far as it could stop neutrals from entering or exiting a port declared blockaded.

Losing the Will to Live


Franz leaned back in his chair, massaging the bridge of his nose under his eyeglasses. It was 4:45 pm, nearly time to leave. He sighed and then his eye caught the photograph of his wife, Anna, and daughter, Greta. Anna was sitting on the arm of the sofa looking down at Greta with a slight smile on her face, while Greta beamed at the camera. They were dressed in their best clothes, which were modest by German standards, but the style of their clothing was overshadowed by the intimacy and pure love they shared. Greta held her favorite doll in her lap, one passed down to her by her Grandma. She called the doll Rebecca as her grandmother had. Franz touched the glass covering the photo and moved the frame closer.

He was a bank clerk and he had been in his current job for five years. He wasn’t a stellar employee but a reliable one, never having missed one day of work. He had enjoyed the work environment, although lately it had started to change. Colleagues who had once smiled at him or returned his smile, or had stopped by his desk to chat seemed to have distanced themselves. He continued to be courteous to everyone, but he felt as if he were becoming invisible. At least when he arrived home that evening, he would be greeted with delight.

On Raising Willful Children


I am a bit stubborn, when I want to be. Just a bit. Like the way water is a bit wet or the sun is a bit hot.

My wife is a bit stubborn too, when she decides to be. And now we have kids. Twin girls.

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In Group Writing, Ricochet members claim one day of the coming month to write on a proposed theme. This is an easy way to expose your writing to a general audience, with a bit of accountability and topical guidance to encourage writing for its own sake. Haven’t participated in Group Writing yet? We’d love for […]

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Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for January 24, 2017, it’s the Carnage? What Carnage? edition of the podcast. We are brought to you this week by Patriot Mobile. Do you want a portion of every dollar you pay for mobile phone service to go to left wing causes? That may be happening, but there is an answer: Patriot Mobile.

This week we will discuss the dystopian, gloomy perspective that President Trump (wow! That felt good!) has of the current American experience as exemplified in his inauguration speech. Why does the media insist on hammering Trump for pointing out the “carnage” in the streets? As Heather Mac Donald points out in a recent National Review piece, if 16 unarmed Blacks killed by police in 2016 is a horror story, why isn’t 6000 Blacks murdered (in 2015) by fellow citizens not appropriately described as carnage?

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I suppose if someone wanted to capitalize on the controversy over Shilling Reagan – How a New York Windbag Is California Dreamin’ then the best way would be to create an online petition conservatives could sign uniting around the verdict that Mr. O’Reilly had a Big Hack Attack and should march around Times Square with […]

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