“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
—Mark Twain

I have said or written many times how important I think it is to specifically define the subject you are talking about before you plough in with the diatribe (yes, I’m talking to myself here). In other words, if you are talking about such massive subjects as, say, God or democracy or Christianity or freedom or free-market or Left Wing or pacifism or globalization et cetera, make clear what you actually mean by the word. Without doing so, our talks are more confusing and less enlightening than we may suppose.

To wit:

All I can think to add is the same advice I gave my 13 [now 18] year old niece:

Whenever somebody asks, “Do you believe in God [or abortion or evolution]?” or, “Are you a Socialist or a Democrat or a Republican?” I strongly recommend getting their definition on whatever they’re asking you so you don’t get immediately boxed in to someone else’s agenda. Because everybody has their take on “God”, and God is a very loaded term, and before you know it you’re caught in a mini-Crusade, and theoretically you could end up on the side of the infidels. But with a little sweetness of speech, a conversation may just begin that serves both people.

On that note, this little youtube piece sent to me from my multi-talented friend Andrea. My god, we went to grad together—which was just before John A. McDonald ran for Prime Minister (sorry, Andrea), the Vancouver Millionaires won the Stanley Cup, and even before I had finally grown a full-blown mullet).

The piece is, like, pretty, like, you know, entertaining? Actually, so is the short essay about, like, my mullet.

Love ya!

Ol’ Pete (and by love, I mean, you know, like, on a deep cosmic sort of level and unity and and also I hope your life is going well and also I love ya, that’s all).

If the youtube piece didn’t make you laugh, or left you laughing but wanting more, and the mullet-piece did or didn’t do the same, maybe you’d like to listen to this read-out-loud excerpt from Understanding Ken, a novel I wrote after my mullet had been amputated, yet possibly when John A. McDonald was still boozing it up, god rest his pickled liver.



  1. Karen says:

    Ooooo, so close to my heart!

    Wouldn’t it be fantastic if every student in the world could hear that poem twice each year from Grade 7 until HS graduation? Most important, no class discussion. Have the students write a quick—one or two paragraphs—off the cuff opinion piece on its meaning each year. It would be interesting to see how each student’s ideas change over the years.

    Mr. Mali’s other videos are well worth the time for a listen, too.

    This editor’s pet peeve? “Those ones.” That is not a valid term unless you are pointing to a group of 1s hanging out together.

    Seriously and most important, we so often forget how powerful words are. We are the only creatures on the planet capable of communication through speech; we claim it sets us above all other life. Yet we so often fling them like weapons with little regard for how they can affect people, especially young people, who are still so literal and impressionable.

    And yet, we can use that very same amazing power to calm the frightened, sooth the tired, let someone know how deeply we love them. A much better use of such strength.

    Love to you and those you love.
    (Please note the period vs. comma. It’s a declarative sentence, no question about it.)


  2. Lovely Karen.

    I know I make a ton of moose steaks, so I appreciate you putting up with me. I greatly appreciate your appreciation for words. And I noticed the period. Thank you. I use a comma because I thought it was correct, yet I’ve always wondered, ‘Why a comma?’

    And so it goes.

    Lots of love to you and yours!


  3. AndreaCee says:

    Gee, I found the mullet kind of hot….

  4. Those were the days—a hot mullet. I guess I didn’t mind it either. Pete xo

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