Find “How I See It,” Robert’s series of humorous and thought-provoking essays on whatever is on his mind at the moment.
Hello! Welcome and thank you for visiting my blog. I hope to make it a place you will enjoy being from time to time as I post new essays. Exactly, or even generally, what I will write about is not something I care to pin down for I intend it to be whatever is on my mind at the moment I take on the chore of writing it. The common thread is that I will always try to be entertaining—sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes satirical or just plain silly, whatever seems appropriate to the topic, but always entertaining in some way. I have a great love for the art of the written word, for humor, and for reading and writing essays.
My writing credits are varied—essays, books of fiction and non-fiction, stage plays, screenplays, stand-up and sketch comedy, news and features, poetry, music, cartoons, speeches, advertising and unusually literate grocery lists. I can say that listening to improvised bedtime stories and reading a humorous autobiographical essay all by my very creative father when I was a boy, and later an essay called “My Face” by the great humorist Robert Benchley, were the sparks that made me want to become a writer. My brother Jeff and I were carefully tucked into bed for Dad’s stories; I discovered the Benchley essay as a teenager at about 3 a.m. one weekend while standing guard alone over tables of books for sale at a church Strawberry Festival. I later got into James Thurber, Mark Twain and others, but this was my start. I still have that special love for essays and expect it to fuel my writings here. I am also a supporter of strawberries, especially when dipped in dark chocolate. I have found that dipping almost anything in dark chocolate makes it better, even marginally edible things such as cardboard, foam rubber and gravel. Please don’t ask me for a complete list or recipes.
I suppose I should offer my essay-related writing credits at this point, a sort of resume to help you know where I’ve been and where I might be going with this blog. Perhaps it will be helpful to me as well. The very first (as opposed to merely “the first”) instance of my writing something that I can recall was at or before age eight in Philadelphia, sitting by the cesspool in my back yard trying to copy word for word Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.” I was likely diverted from that ambitious task after a few sentences by the urge to play aggressively on the nearby swing set and find clever new ways to fall off and bleed. From that tender age through, oh, about thirty, I sported an impressive array of scabs that prompted strangers to approach and say, “May I have your autograph, Mr. Knevil?”
In elementary school, I was a reporter for the mimeographed student newspaper and wrote a column called, “Room News.” At least, I recall writing one of them, and I suspect it was not about a room but about the achievements of the students in that room. None of those achievements come to mind today except that I wrote the column, so perhaps it started like this: “Nothing of interest is going on here in room 113 with the notable exception of my writing this column to report it.” Writing about anything—a brick, a shoe, a bag of lemons—somehow elevates it to a curious level of importance and even celebrity above that of the lowly common brick, shoe or bag of lemons. Such is the effect of the searchlight that is the written word, and such, for better or worse, is the power of the writer.
For my undergraduate college newspaper, I wrote a weekly humor column called “Cooper’s World” about whatever was on my mind with the only goal of making my classmates laugh to the point tears, chronic abdominal pain and hives. Later, I wrote movie reviews of films I had admittedly not seen, explaining what happened to cause me to miss or lose interest in the screening and why the title was enough for me to guess if the film was good, bad, or somewhere in between. Two titles I recall are “Rocky” and “Blood Sucking Freaks.” I remember sitting in a large lecture hall one morning watching two students in the row in front of me giggling at my “Blood Sucking Freaks” review and one asked the other, “I wonder what this Cooper guy is like?” (Writers live for moments like that.) I wondered what I was like too.
I have also written humorous essays for literary journals, magazines, the Houston Chronicle, and some to read before live café and college audiences and on radio and television as a founding member of a literary/comedy/musical performance group called “The Writer Guys” during a wonderfully creative period of my life. Blog-wise, I wrote a monthly web column of commentary and advice for my fellow students while I earned a Doctor of Chiropractic degree in my forties. (My bachelor’s degree many years earlier was in journalism with a lot of English and drama courses thrown in.)
Enough said. It now remains for me to start writing and see if I can earn your initial interest and loyalty as a reader. I will always do my best, and I will always read and appreciate your feedback. See you here soon. I’ll bring donuts.
PARTING THOUGHT (from my book, “Pruning the Family Tree”):
I never have to say, “I stand corrected.” When people correct me, I make sure I’m sitting. And sometimes I’ll kneel or squat corrected.