Two opportunities this weekend to meet memoir-writers you know from Writing Out Loud

June 7, 2017CommentsPosted in book tour, careers/jobs for people who are blind, memoir writing, public speaking, writing

Those of you who have read Writing Out Loud know that essays by the writers in the memoir classes I lead are sprinkled throughout the book. This week you have a couple of opportunities to meet some of those writers in person:

  1. Bruce and Anne Hunt (Writing Out Loud readers will know them from Ch. 65, “The Hunts”)  will each read their essay from Writing Out Loud at a book-launch party The Village Chicago is throwing for us this Friday, June 9 from 2:30 to 4 pm at the Woman’s Athletic Club, 626 N. Michigan in Chicago.Blog readers in the Chicago area can still sign up, you just need to RSVP by the end of the business day today, June 7, 2017 at or 773.248.8700. Admission is $12 for Village Chicago Members and $15 for non-members (book purchase separate).
  2. Anna Nessy Perlberg (Writing Out Loud readers know her from Ch. 85, “Anna’s House in Prague”) and Wanda Bridgeforth will read during a panel we’re doing at Printers Row Litfest titled Getting Your Memoir Off the Ground…and Published. Wanda self-published her memoir, On the Move. A number of her essays are also excerpted in Writing Out loud, and on Sunday she’ll read from Ch. 22, “All Aboard with Wanda.”Anna will read a section from her memoir The House In Prague, which was published by Golden Alley Press last year. The panel will be moderated by Nancy Sayre, publisher/editor at Golden Alley Press. This all happens at the Printers Row Lit Fest on Sunday, June 11, 2017, at 10 Room 4008 at Jones College Prep High School, 600 S. State Street in Chicago. Advance tickets for the event are free of charge but are sold out. A few extra tickets will become available 15 minutes before the event and they are free of charge too, available on a walk-up basis. Come on down!

PS: Whitney the Seeing Eye dog and I will also be sitting at a table in front of Sandmeyer’s Bookstore, 714 S. Dearborn, from 11 a.m. until noon on Saturday, June 10 during #prlf17 if you want to stop by and say hello. Buy a book, and Whitney the Seeing Eye dog might just add her pawtograph, too…!

Mondays with Mike: Pun names

June 5, 20177 CommentsPosted in Mike Knezovich, Mondays with Mike, Uncategorized

No matter where I’ve lived, and no matter where I’ve traveled, I’ve noticed a commonality, and I’m not sure it’s heartening or not: It’s the love of so-good-they’re-bad punny names for certain businesses.

Not all businesses mind you, but for some reason, certain businesses just bring out the best/worst in their pun making owners.

Photos of porta potty.

There’s a Pepe Le Pew joke here for the taking.

Take the beauty business—hair salons, tanning joints, etc. I can riff off a dozen that I’ve seen just driving around over the years. (From Hair to Eternity is one of my favorites.) But I Googled and it’s really a thing. I mean really a thing. Take this Buzzfeed feature—there are 18 featured altogether, and if you have the nerve, by all means look at them all. Here’s a quick sampling:

Grateful Head

Combing Attractions

Scissors of Ahhhz

There’s something about grooming, because the same thing goes for pet groomers and boarders. Have any doubt? Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is go through this roll call of pun names at AtlasObscura titled A Round of Appaws for America’s Best Pet Care Plans. A few examples:

Noah’s Arf



And of course, there is the porta potty business. Even the tag lines are ripe for exploit—Number 1 in the number 2 business for example. Chicago is well represented in this old but still good AdWeek piece on porta potty company names. Just a few:


Wizards of Ooze

Doodie Calls

I’m thinking about opening a waxing business. I’m gonna call it Grin and Bare It.

Don’t miss Seeing Eye dog Whitney and me this Saturday at The Bookstore

May 31, 20172 CommentsPosted in book tour, careers/jobs for people who are blind, Hanni, memoir writing, Whitney

Whitney the Seeing Eye dog and I will be signing copies of my new book Writing Out Loud from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, June 3, 2017 at The Bookstore, 475 N. Main in Glen Ellyn, one of Chicago’s western suburbs.

Reviews on of my new book about the colorful cast of characters in my memoir-writing classes in Chicago (and how I manage to lead them without being able to see what I’m doing) have been positive, and one very important review came in by phone last week as well. Ninety-five-year-old Wanda Bridgeforth, one of a handful of writers featured in Writing Out Loud,, called immediately after she’d finished reading and said, “I’m so full I can’t talk.” Now, that’s sayin’ something!

That's Jenny with the late great Seeing Eye dog Hanni and me a few years back at The Bookstore in Glen Ellyn.

That’s Jenny with the late, great Seeing Eye Dog Hanni and me at The Bookstore in Glen Ellyn.

You might remember my friend Jenny Foucré Fischer from numerous posts I’ve published here about the independent bookstore she’s been working at for decades in Glen Ellyn. Jenny and I have been friends since our teenage years in Elmhurst, Illinois, and she announced her retirement last month. That means my booksigning this Saturday just might be the last one she has set up for The Bookstore. So let’s help her go out with a bang, shall we? C’mon down!

Mondays with Mike: The lingering war at home

May 29, 20173 CommentsPosted in politics

Our friends Jim and Janet will be visiting Vietnam come June. And if they have the kind of experience that seemingly everyone who visits that country has, they are likely to come back marveling at the culture, the food, and the warmth of the people who we were at war with not so long ago.

image of helicopter

Saigon fell in 1975, but Ken Burns thinks we’re still not over it.

After Saigon fell in 1975, though, I’m not so sure those of us at home ever fully reconciled with one another. Just a month ago I was party to an argument that I surely didn’t think I’d be hearing in 2017. It was about Jane Fonda, and her infamous trip to North Vietnam while the war was raging. There are those who despise her as a traitor, and those who will defend her to various degrees. This, more than 40 years after the war ended.

It was an unpopular war, one we lost, so the returning veterans didn’t get any ticker tape parades. And lots have had to fight—or are still fighting—for benefits and treatment that were owed them by the VA.

I was just old enough to remember the strife at home clearly. The war tore open a rift in my mom’s side of the family—one that they all carried to the grave. My sister, who was editor of the high school paper, was nearly expelled after she ran an anti-war poem. Hard-hat construction workers beat up long-haired demonstrators. And Kent State. And, and, and….

I was reminded of all this by a NY Times piece written by filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick titled Vietnam’s Unhealed Wounds. Burns and Novick are doing a documentary on the Viet Nam era that is soon to be released.

Here’s a passage from their article:

For more than a generation, instead of forging a path to reconciliation, we have allowed the wounds the war inflicted on our nation, our politics and our families to fester. The troubles that trouble us today — alienation, resentment and cynicism; mistrust of our government and one another; breakdown of civil discourse and civic institutions; conflicts over ethnicity and class; lack of accountability in powerful institutions — so many of these seeds were sown during the Vietnam War.

I think there’s a lot to the idea that a lot of current divisions are traceable to that time period. The older I get the longer view I take. I’m looking forward to the documentary. But it will be hard to watch.




A puppy, or a dog?

May 24, 201712 CommentsPosted in blindness, questions kids ask, Seeing Eye dogs, visiting schools, Whitney, Writing for Children

A lot of inquisitive kids.

The visit Whitney and I made to Arlington Traditional School last Thursday was our last one for this school year. What a great way to end the season. The second-graders we talked with had already read Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound before we arrived, so they were armed with questions. Some examples :

  • How many years could you see, and how many years could you not?
  • Do you know when it’s daytime?
  • How much did it cost to buy that dog at the puppy store?
  • Can you write in a straight line?
  • How did you pick that dog from all the puppies at the puppy store?
  • What games do you play?
  • So if you didn’t buy your dog at the puppy store, was she free?
  • How do you write books if you can’t see?
  • If you didn’t train that dog, who did?
  • Can you spend your own money?
  • How did you train that dog?
  • How did they teach it to cross the street?
  • Do you ever get scared?
  • Is she a puppy, or a dog?
  • How many streets did that dog help you cross so far?

That last question was a toughie, and I took my time answering. “Four thousand three hundred and sixty-two times,” I said. They seem satisfied with my answer.