Monday, February 23, 2015

Every Day A New Millennium

This little essay may seem obscure to those who are not teachers, and consequently are not constantly belabored by the phrase "twenty-first century skills", but you who have the privilege of being fellow members of the noblest profession should see what I'm getting at.
Siena Superior Merit School -- Siena, Italy
                                    Prospectus for the Year 1517

Parents and students who wish to embrace the future and who realize that the traditional dull, stultifying rote learning of the Trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy) do not prepare young people for the exciting world of the future should consider enrollment in Italy’s most innovative and creative educational institution, the Siena Superior Merit School.

 At SSMS, we strive to equip our scholars with SIXTEENTH CENTURY SKILLS, the skills they will need to succeed in the exciting modern era of the new century, a century that is so different from all preceding centuries that entirely novel educational methods are required.
We have instituted CENTRI DI ECCELLENZA (CdEs) to allow students to pursue their passions in areas of great importance for this dynamic new century:

E The ASTROLOGY CdE:  Advances in the highest celestial art make traditional astronomical studies all but obsolete. As sure knowledge of this science progresses, those who grasp it fully are assured of profitable employment. Why study the past when you can predict the future?

E  The ALCHEMICAL CdE:  What young man would not thrill to the exciting pursuit of the Philosopher’s Stone? Turn lead into gold! Experiments in our newly-completed, ultra-modern facility, Farelli Hall, (a gift from an alumnus most successful in the manufacture of gun- powder), will not be without some danger, but the survivors graduates of this CdE will be fully equipped to lead the way in further advances in Alchemy, the Science of the Future.

E The THEOLOGY CdE:  Those students whose passion is for truth and certainty will surely thrill to the careful exegesis of sacred texts and close study of Canon Law. What can be more certain than that, as the Holy Catholic Church enters its 1,500th year of existence, its eternal truths assure its unchallengeable domination of our continent, and eventually the world? We plan to open a branch school in Wittenberg, Germany, under the direction of Father Johann Tetzel, Europe’s foremost expert on indulgences.
We have also instituted CLASSI MISCELATI (“Classes that are Blended”) to give students adequate time to pursue their passions. These classes meet just twice per week. By a magical process that has to be experienced to be understood, students will learn just as much as before, even though they meet 60% less than before, in those rather obsolescent areas—such as Italian, History, and Foreign Languages—that are really no longer as relevant in the dynamic Sixteenth Century as they were in the benighted twenty centuries that preceded our new, exciting age. 
Note: Pedagogues needing further enlightenment should consult "Well, Hello," the post for 7 July 2013. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Reading!

I want to wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas and a felicitous New Year, as well as to remind all and sundry that
Storm Approaching (Part I of the Mercenaries series),
Gold and Glory (Part II)
Resolution (Part III)
The Free Lands (Part IV)
And Gladly Teach (educational satire) and
Hodgepodge (humorous essays)

are still available (at Amazon, other online retailers, or from the author).Why not buy (and even read) one (or more) of these fine books?    

Sunday, November 2, 2014

HERE WE GO AGAIN: Health for the Holidays

Those helpful folks at Wellness Weekly have begun their annual cam-paign against anyone enjoying himself (see essays of December 2013 and Jan. & Feb. of this year, “Healthy Eating,”, “More Health”, and “Yet More Health”). In the October 6 issue of their killjoy newsletter they proffer even more valuable advice as to how we should conduct ourselves as “the temperature drops” and “many of us turn to rich foods,” which might have a terrible consequence: “if we aren’t careful” we might “gain weight”.

In case any of you are inclined to reckless indulgence, in case you might be tempted by Satan to gourmandize on such things as chips, hot dogs, pizza, wings, beer, hot chocolate, pumpkin-spice latt├ęs, apple cider, whipped cream, caramel drizzles, cream of potato and broccoli cheese soups; soups containing cream, cheese, or meat; pumpkin layer cake, cheesecake, bread pudding, macaroni and cheese, Halloween candy, or yams and sweet potatoes mixed with cheese, cream, butter, canned soup, or bacon—(I thought yams and sweet potatoes were the same thing, but the bulletin differentiates)—here is some useful advice:

- If you are watching television while you eat anything, do push-ups, sit-ups, or jumping jacks during halftime or commercials. (And, I might add, after the game why not run around your house a few times, rappel from your roof, or turn somersaults on the lawn?)

- Pedal on a stationary bike while you watch a game.

- Why not drink green tea instead of malevolent beverages like hot chocolate or cider?

-  Chew sugarless gum. (Perhaps they might also suggest chewing the gum wrappers. They will taste just as good.)

- Hide the candy. (They suggest this twice: “Stash sweets out of sight” and “Put candy bowls out of sight”. One must ask, why do they seem to endorse preparing these hidden bowls at all?)

Remember, sinners, all it takes is an extra hundred calories a day to gain ten pounds in a year.

You may not be able to die rich, but you can certainly die skinny, thus saving money for your heirs when they can purchase a small coffin.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

More Mirth

The revised and expanded edition of my collection of essays is now out. Hodgepodge, the successor to Miscellanea, contains seven items not found in its predecessor; three items were deleted. I particularly recommend essay 23, "The Adventure of the Surprising Ending," my only foray into fan fiction, a gentle satire of the great TV series 'Agatha Christie's Poirot' starring David Suchet. 

Hodgepodge is available at Amazon in print copy and will be available as an e-book before too long. It's also available from the author for $10 (postpaid). 

Brian Libby / 1000 Shumway Ave. / Faribault, MN 55021 

Monday, July 14, 2014


Welcome to my blog! Here you will find humorous and satirical essays on various topics (such as education, nutrition, and films) and information on my books. The problem with blogs is that most of their material is buried. So here is a list of the main essays at Write Away, organized chronologically by topic; and I invite visitors to take the moment or two required to use the handy archive gadget on the left to locate the articles they might find interesting.

For regular visitors—if such there be—let me say that I am preparing a new edition of Miscellanea, my collection of essays. It will include several new pieces—some already on this blog—and will have a new title (probably Hodgepodge). I hope to release it in September.

Please leave a comment on any essay that moves you to express an opinion, and remember that my books are easily available at, other online retailers, or from the author—see the brightly-colored flyer directly below this post. Why not buy one? You will find descriptions and excerpts on the blog. I also welcome messages at
ESSAYS (Amusing)
2014:  February 25:  Yet More Health
2014:  January 13:  More Health
2013:  December 29:  Healthy Eating
2013:  October 5:  On Institutional Advancement
2012:  August 23:  An Innovative Boarding School Model
2012:  August 13:  Testing Kinesthetic Students
2012:  May 20: A Cautionary Tale
2011:  October 10:  An ‘Aria of Revenge’ a la Verdi
2011:  July 26:  Lights! Cameras! Teach!
2011:  July 26: Project 1812: History for Kinesthetic Students
2011:  May 10:  An Innovative Grading System
2011:  January 12:  Evelyn Waugh on Educational Reform
2010:  October 11:  A Theory of Art
2010:  February 15:  The Test of the Future
2010:  January 28:  The Newest Members of the U.N.
2010:  January 7:  Just What the Doctor Ordered

2011: July 25  / July 20:  Historical Films
2010: March 1:  The LOTR Film Trilogy (Take That, Peter Jackson!)
2010: February 21: Star Wars III:  A Critique of "Revenge of the Plot"
2010: February 7:  A Critique of "Tacky Clowns"
2010; January 8:  A Critique of "The Phantom Mess"
2013:  April 24:  The Adventure of the Surprising Ending
2011: March 17:  “Consulting”: from And Gladly Teach
2010: October 6:  Resolution
2010: April 4:  Gold and Glory
2010: March 7:  Storm Approaching
2010: February 1:  And Gladly Teach

Monday, March 24, 2014


Keeping in mind that one purpose of this blog is to publicize my literary efforts, I here present a handy flyer that gives you lots of information about them. If any interest you, please do not be shy about buying them or sending me any questions about them that you may have.

(You should, of course, click on the images so you can see them clearly.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I am unsure if these little pasquinades meet with any approval—since no one leaves any comments here—but I cannot resist bringing you further examples of what people must put up with today on the subject of food.

1)  From the March issue of Consumer Reports OnHealth:  “An English study found that women who took a brisk 15-minute walk reduced their desire for chocolate…. All of the groups reported a lower level of craving—and were less tempted by images of chocolate."

I assume that the value of this English study is to warn women against taking 15-minute walks and thus depriving themselves of enjoying one of the most delicious and nutritious foods on our planet, one of the things that makes our wretched existence bearable.

2)  In the March issue of Consumer Reports there is a review called “Top Popcorns.” It begins thus: “Plenty of Americans reach for popcorn when it’s time to watch the Oscars, the Crawleys, or the latest zombie attack. When we asked readers their favorite snack during special shows, popcorn led the list. (To our readers’ credit, ‘Nothing: I don’t snack’ came in second.)”

You see? You see what these people are doing to us? In an article that reviews popcorn, the writers commend those (16.7%) who never touch it—who, indeed, “don’t snack.” In an article that tells you which popcorn is best to eat, we are made to feel guilty about eating it. How frail and wicked we are! How we must admire the stalwart Puritans who never snack, who sit there nobly not enjoying a light collation of goodies, who resist the promptings of Satan to eat between meals. (And God knows what their meals consist of. Probably celery sticks and clear broth.)

The same issue of CR contains a long article about the best TV sets to buy. It might be better if the magazine warned people about wasting their time watching the Oscars, the Crawleys (whoever they may be), or zombie attacks.

PS - Any comments?