CategoryTwo-minute Reads

Unusual Movie Choice for a Holiday


For various reasons, it was just the four of us this year for Thanksgiving. With Owen studying forestry in New Haven and Julia working full time as a dietician and studying for her Master’s, the kids lead busy lives. Having this day together felt like a gift. We all contributed to our Thanksgiving feast. Owen is the cranberry sauce expert. Julia handled the Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes...

Black Friday at its Best


I spent Black Friday in my usual way—shopping and shopping and shopping. No, not at all. In the afternoon, a walk at Five Rivers with Owen. He’s teaching me to identify tree species. Then at night, Harriet and I went to see our friend Howard’s band, the Coal Palace Kings. They play annually on Black Friday at the Hangar in Troy, and maybe, if we’re lucky, they’ll play one other gig...

65,000 Words Down the Drain


You might have started out with enthusiasm and a vision. With a spark of an idea, a single word, a sentence that intrigued you, an unusual character trait—and you’re off and running. And then at some point you realize you’re running in the dark, taking a wrong turn, smacking into a wall. It happens to every writer, whether you’re working on song lyrics, composing a poem, or writing a short story...

Killers of the Flower Moon


I was hesitant to see the new Martin Scorsese film, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” because its runtime is almost 3.5 hours. I doubted any movie could hold my interest for that long or that I could stay in my seat for that length of time. But my sister insisted I had to see the film, so I did. I stayed in my seat. And I was interested, from beginning to end. The story, based on the book of the same...

The Atheist’s Calling


I remember bits of a conversation with my father, who was a devout Catholic, and along with my mother raised all of his five kids in the Catholic religion. I was an adult at the time, living in California, and back in Buffalo for a visit. I’m not sure what led to his question, which was this: “You believe in God, don’t you?” I didn’t. I’m an atheist. But I didn’t come right out and say it. I...

A Restful Night of Sleep


I need to be mentally and physically sharp for a big day tomorrow. I’m in bed and lights out at 10:32, but I’m thinking about tomorrow’s schedule and so I don’t fall asleep until sometime near midnight. A dream not worth recounting. Awake. Tossing. I only use eight of the twelve phrases that “socially intelligent people use to make an instant connection.” I should be better than that. The outdoor...

One Window is Opening, Another is Closing


Another autumn hike in the mountains. On our last hike in the Adirondacks we showed up early for peak fall color. This week in the Catskills we arrived a little late. Still, these mountains around me are breathtaking under any conditions. The three Catskill peaks of Blackhead, Black Dome, and Thomas Cole are familiar sights to me. An ascent to Windham High Peak, followed by meandering through the...

“You’re Not Too Smart, Are You? I Like That in a Man”


“You’re not too smart, are you? I like that in a man.” So says femme fatale Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) to inept but cocky lawyer Ned Racine (William Hurt) when they first meet in Lawrence Kasdan’s 1981 directorial debut, the steamy noir film Body Heat. Matty’s pronouncement on Ned’s intelligence sets the stage for what’s to come: she convinces Ned to help her murder her husband so she can...

Dear Gillette:


Dear Gillette: I remember a time not that long ago Harriet would tell me how good I smelled after I shaved. Now? Silence. And for that, I am turning in my loyalty card to your Gillette Foamy shaving cream. I gotta tell you, that stuff stinks now. Whatever you did to the formula, you messed up badly. In case you think I’m simply a disgruntled old drip who’s resistant to change, I’m not the only...

Why Read a Sad Story?


I have a friend who doesn’t want to read books or watch shows or movies that are sad or involve tragic circumstances. It’s a form of curation: she doesn’t need that negativity in her life, doesn’t want to be exposed to those feelings because it interferes with her happiness. I’m the opposite. I find sad, depressing, painful, tragic stories to be essential to my own quest for well-being. These...

The Cut-Up Poem


Last weekend at the Albany Book Festival my table was next to the Adirondack Center for Writing table. It’s an organization that’s building a community of writers and readers in the Adirondacks region, offering classes, workshops, events, and more for writers of all ages. They had one of those old-fashioned gumball machines at their table, this one offering (for a free turn of the handle)...

What Midlife Crisis?


I’m tabling at the Albany Book Festival when a woman walks by my display and picks up a copy of In Flight. She immediately flips the book to glance at the back cover copy. Two seconds later she puts the book down. She says in a tone that can only be heard as snarky, “Why would I want to read about a man’s midlife crisis?” “It doesn’t say midlife crisis,” I tell her. “It says midlife transitions.”...

My Favorite Mountains


Back when I was focusing on hiking all 46 Adirondack high peaks that reached over 4,000 feet, that singular mission kept me focused on the biggest mountains and the most grueling hikes. After checking off about half of the high peaks, I abandoned my quest. I realized there were too many mountains that required more than a single day’s hike to conquer, meaning I would have to carry camping...

The Sugar Maple One Year Later


About a year ago I wrote “Long Live the Sugar Maple,” about our imperiled tree. This is an update. First, a bit of background: it must have been about twenty years ago that we had the sugar maple planted out front. I’ve always loved the sugar maple’s shape and iconic fall colors and the sweetness of its syrup.  It’s the official tree of New York State. I’ve planted plenty of...

“Marketing Executive” Barbie


We went to see Barbie the other night. There’s a reason the movie is breaking all kinds of revenue and attendance records: it’s highly original, visually compelling, and a lot of fun. Margot Robbie (Barbie) and Ryan Gosling (Ken) deliver outstanding performances. And it had me smiling a lot. In some ways, I’ve never seen a movie like it—the way it depicts Barbie’s perfect, plastic fantasy world...

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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