Posts filed under “Books & Literature”


You may have noticed that artificial intelligence has reached its tentacles into the robot-scam-call business. We use the term “intelligence” rather loosely, of course. Still, there are robot callers designed to fool the unwary into thinking that they are speaking to a human being. And since the calls are being recorded, there is some chance that someone will listen to the recordings, possibly for technical reasons or possibly out of sheer boredom.

Now, you could complain about the constant interruptions, or you could decide that this is your chance to make the world a more entertaining place. If you are being recorded, after all, why should your conversation with the robot be dull and predictable? Dr. Boli has written out a few very short playlets for the dramatically inclined. He hopes his readers will take inspiration from them and compose their own dramas for the appreciative robot audience. Together we can turn our minor annoyances into performance art.

You. Hello.

Robot. This is Anna from the Senior Advisors. How are you doing today?

You. Thanks for calling, Anna. I need advice, but I’m only a sophomore.

(Long pause.)

Robot. Hello.

Robot. Hello?

You. Gheshz.

Robot. Hello?

You. Xhbasfuyr.

Robot. Can you hear me now?

Robot. Hello.

You. Hello.

Robot. This is Stacy from Senior Advisors. How are you today?

You. I have seen too deeply into the blank chaos of eternity to relish the temporary pleasures of mundane existence.

Robot. Great! The reason for the call is…

Robot. Hello.

You. Thank heaven you called! Listen, be careful what you say. I think we’re being recorded.

Robot. This is Elsie from Smart Alarms. How are you doing today?

You. I think it would be better if we spoke in code. Arches fall when Wendover smiles on the turkey.

Robot. Are you the homeowner?

Robot. Hello?

You. This is Emma from Senior Advisors. How are you today?

Robot. Can you hear me now?


At the age of 95, Samuel Hazo is still relatively young (relative to Dr. Boli, that is), but he has been in the poetry business for a while now. He has never been better. This new collection of new poems is Hazo, the former Poet Laureate of Pennsylvania, in peak form. Wistful, satirical, angry, delighted, grieving, contemplative—here we meet Samuel Hazo in every mood. Most of his poetry is written in a kind of three-beat blank verse, but we find him switching effortlessly to a rhymed light verse that nevertheless carries a heavy weight of wisdom. And in every poem, Hazo seems to be talking directly to us. His poetry is always conversational, never showing the careful and laborious revision that went into making it seem spontaneous and effortless. Here is a book that proves what Dr. Boli has always suspected: poetry is wasted on the young.

Find Becoming Done at Amazon.


Are you trying to make a career as a writer but suffering from writer’s block? Here are some useful writing prompts to make you want to take up another vocation.

Weather: What is the weather doing outside your window? Why is it doing it? What is its motivation?

Voyage: You are about to go on a romantic voyage to a faraway land. Write about the experience of getting your passport photo taken.

Memory: You are an aphasic amnesiac with no memory of how to operate a computer keyboard, typewriter, pen, or pencil. Go!

Detective: Your mother has hired a private detective to find out whether you’re still flossing now that you have your own apartment. How do you feel about that?

Wishes: A genie grants you three wishes, as long as you can express each one in proper Latin hexameters. What are your wishes?

Otherworldly: You wake up in an alternate universe where everything mauve has become something more like puce. How do you keep your sanity?

Religion: You have a chance to meet God for coffee at Crazy Mocha. Make a list of complaints to bring with you.

Visitors: Space aliens show up at the gymnasium while you’re on the stair stepper. How do you explain what you’re doing before they decide the merciful thing to do would be to put you out of your misery?

Horror: You wake up in the middle of the night with the sickening realization that you have been wearing your baseball cap at a very uncool angle. What will you do when you have to go out the next morning?

Museum: You are a museum curator and you want to mount an exhibit called “A Century and a Half of Cotton Swabs.” Write the grant proposal.