In Anne Rice's most recent foray into fiction, the novelist uses first-person narration to tell the story of “God in a man-suit” at the ages of seven and eight.
     The good news is, Rice is an accomplished writer. The story holds one's interest — even if one believes, as I do, that Rice is completely off the mark in her interpretation of the very few facts we have available.

October 2005

     An annus mirabilis is, literally, a wonderful year. The term denotes a year in which a number of remarkable things happen. “The Waste Land and Ulysses both appeared in 1922, the annus mirabilis of modern literature.” The term annus horribilus, a horrible, frightful, dreadful year, appears to have been used first by Queen Elizabeth to describe 1992, the year in which Windsor Castle caught fire and her sons Charles and Andrew both divorced.

October 2005

     Poor Annabel. Morning after morning she would get into the box and strain to pee, forcing me to watch her as I waited to clean the box of its overnight deposits. I thought she had cystitis, a female problem in which you “gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now,” even when there's nothing inside to go. I had cystitis when I was ten years old; it's no fun, but it goes away.

July 2005

     Exciting discoveries of ancient religious texts — especially the 52 texts found at Nag Hammadi in 1945 — are prompting religious historians to rethink the standard account of Christian origins. In Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (2003), Elaine Pagels reexamines the first three hundred years of Christianity in the light of theologians’ growing suspicions that the fourth gospel of the Bible, commonly known as the Gospel of John, was written to rebut the Gospel of Thomas.

September 2003

     Groupthink. It sounds like something out of 1984, doesn’t it? In Victims of Groupthink, psychologist Irving Janis defined it as “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.”

     Note: At the invitation of its editor, this article was written for the September 2003 issue of Going Forward: A Pro-Mensa Publication. At least for the next several months, it can also be found at the Going Forward website at this address.

August 2003

     In May 2003, Tampa Bay Mensa local secretary [president] Maxine Kushner engaged in misconduct so egregious I had no choice but to resign. This essay summarizes the facts of Maxine’s misconduct and contains a link to a file that contains “chapter and verse.”

May and August 2003

The essays dated between May 2003 and May 2002 were written for the Tampa Bay Sounding, the official newsletter of Tampa Bay Mensa.

     Once in a great while, I enjoy a time-travel story, like “Groundhog Day.” But I think most time-travel stories are the progeny of lazy writers who would rather meet a deadline and get paid handsomely than think about whether their premise is even slightly plausible.

May 2003

     It all happened so fast. My husband went in for a routine physical. The internist had an echocardiogram done and sent Jerry to a cardiologist. The cardiologist did a simultaneous trans-esophageal echocardiogram and cardiac catheterization and sent him to a surgeon. And suddenly there I was, sitting in the surgical waiting room at All Children’s Hospital (and don’t think I’m ever going to let my husband forget that his surgery was done at All Children’s).

April 2003

     It was a bright, cold day in November, and the clocks were striking eighteen. Julia Winston, her chin nuzzled into her breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions.
     It was November 3, 2008, and Younger Brother’s anointment was scheduled for tomorrow. Julia was an employee of the Ministry of Truth, so it was part of her job to explain to the proles that the anointment was an “election,” and that it was important for them to get out and vote for Younger Brother. Otherwise, Al Sharpton might become “Chief Executive Officer” (Elder Brother’s preferred term) of Oceania.

February 2003

     “In Mensa women are underrepresented,” Victor Serebriakoff wrote in 1985. “Everywhere, in every country, the proportion is the same. Only one member in three is a woman.”
     I have always been mystified at why men are overrepresented in Mensa. There is nothing intrinsically superior in the Y chromosome; in fact, intelligence is carried on the X chromosome. And we all begin life as females; gender differentiation does not begin until a fetus is six to 14 weeks old, and if the process of masculinization is interrupted, for example by the mother’s poor nutrition, the fetus reverts to female.

January 2003

     The first member of Mensa who lived in the Tampa Bay area was Tom Reesor, who joined in spring 1964. A year after Tom pioneered, the first Tampa Bay meeting was held in Clearwater, with six members attending. (This is further evidence of the Cosmic Rule of Six: The first official meeting of Mensa in 1946 had six members attending, and the first official meeting of American Mensa in 1960 had six members attending.)

December 2002

     Mensa was born in England on October 1, 1946, the brainchild (so to speak) of Roland Berrill, Lancelot Lionel Ware, and Sir Cyril Burt. None of the three envisioned a large organization; Berrill thought that 600 would be the ideal number of members.

November 2002

     August 1945: Days after bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending World War II, a young Englishman met a middle-aged Australian on a rattling, neglected, war-torn train. This unlikely pair struck up a friendship.

October 2002

     Once upon a time, a midget hated a giant.
     The giant had the most access to riches in the village, by far. The midget’s people controlled most of the wealth in the entire world (oil and gas), but a tiny elite hogged almost all of it for themselves.

September 2002

     When I was a child, my family took a lot of car trips. We skied in the winter and visited grandparents in the summer, both of which meant round trips of hundreds of miles. Dad edited and wrote for the National Geographic, which occasionally meant round trips of thousands of miles. And of course there were cousins on Sanibel to visit, roughly 1,200 miles one-way (as the car drives).

August 2002

     For as long as we have been human beings, people have dreamed of the Moon — that symbol of enchantment and mystery, yearning and lunatic creativity, hanging there in the sky like a Liberty dime. I love those midnights when the whole world shimmers with silver light and you sense that anything is possible.

July 2002

     My husband and I are fans of “Six Feet Under,” the HBO dramedy about the loves and angsts of a family of funeral directors, each of whom is more neurotically repressed than the next.

June 2002

     By now you may have noticed a few changes in the Sounding. Maxine Kushner is enriching her professional life, and I am privileged to take the reins of the newsletter from her hands.

May 2002

     In the first weeks after the horror of September 11, dozens of rumors flew around the Internet that Nostradamus had predicted it. However, every e-mail that I saw with so-called quotations was obviously bogus.
     It seemed to me, though, that September 11 was enough of a focal point in history that if Nostradamus had been a genuine seer even a tiny fraction of the time, he ought to have predicted such an atrocity, so I dug my aged paperback out and read it again.

October 2001

     My husband Jerry and I are cat lovers. Between the two of us, we’ve been owned by dozens of cats in our lifetimes. Right now, we have four. Our youngest, Biscuit, came to us about 18 months ago. You should have seen him, the day we adopted him: five months old and completely terrorized by the bright lights, loud noises, and crowds of Adoption Day at Petsmart, cowering and quaking in the miniature litter dish the SPCA had put into his cage. He weighed four pounds, and I could hold him easily in my cupped hands.

November 1999

     A former boyfriend of mine once complained to me about a mutual friend: “She'll say something — sometimes only half a sentence — and then she'll look at me expectantly, as if she thinks I'll get the rest of the thought by ESP. I never understand what she means. It drives me crazy.”

June 1988

* The 4,000 most attractive men in the world are gay.
* You left your driver’s license in your other purse.

August 1986