A Few Well Chosen Words David Bouchier's weekly essays are full of unexpected observations and whimsical opinions. Listeners will relish his entertaining, enlightening, and sometimes exasperated commentaries on the routines that carry us through the year, the surreal rituals of politics, the unsettling experience of foreign travel, and the confusions and comedies of everyday suburban life.
A Few Well Chosen Words

A Few Well Chosen Words

From WSHU

David Bouchier's weekly essays are full of unexpected observations and whimsical opinions. Listeners will relish his entertaining, enlightening, and sometimes exasperated commentaries on the routines that carry us through the year, the surreal rituals of politics, the unsettling experience of foreign travel, and the confusions and comedies of everyday suburban life.More from A Few Well Chosen Words »

Most Recent Episodes

David Bouchier: Travelers' Tales

When Odysseus returned from Troy he had a tale to tell and, fortunately, somebody wrote it down. Homer's Odyssey could be considered the first travel story really worth hearing. The long voyage of Odysseus was basically a Mediterranean cruise during which me met interesting people like cannibals, monsters, tempting women, and even made a side-trip to hell. Then, as now, a good travel story needed exotic characters and dramatic incidents, and the Odyssey is full of both. We all enjoy telling

David Bouchier: Who Am I Talking To?

Now that so many people are talking, apparently without embarrassment, to little electronic devices in their living rooms, I feel better about my own minor eccentricity. Among many bad habits, all of which I blame on my parents, is my habit of talking to animals. My mother often said, in exasperation: "You might as well talk to the cat." It was her definition of futility, but I took it literally. So, I did talk to the cat, and still do, and to any other cats I meet, if they are inclined to

David Bouchier: The Accidental Library

Each summer we return to the same house in France, and one of the many advantages of this rather unadventurous habit is that we don't have to worry about what to read during our stay. Our reading is selected in advance in the form of several shelves of miscellaneous books that I call the accidental library. These books have accumulated in geological layers over the years. We have added some, our visitors have added some, and some have appeared mysteriously out of nowhere. You will often find

David Bouchier: A Simple Haircut

Last week I had a haircut, not at my usual Long Island barbershop but at a ladies' hairdressing salon in the French village where we were staying. The reasons are too complicated to explain, take my word for it, but the young proprietor Muriel had agreed to give me a high-speed low-cost trim between her more conventional clients. The other customers were all ladies, their heads covered in lather and exotic chemicals, who naturally disapproved of my intrusion into this temple of beauty.

David Bouchier: There's A Hole In My Bucket List

The famous travelers of the past like Lord Byron, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Gertrude Bell were essentially solitary. That's how I started out in my teens, puttering around Europe on a motorcycle – alone not because of my noble independent spirit but because nobody would ride on the back. Now we travel in crowds, sometimes crowds of two or three thousand when a big cruise ships comes in. There's no "escape," whatever the Sunday Supplements tell you, and precious little wonder or magic in that

David Bouchier: Rituals And Repetitions

Everybody knows what to expect on the Fourth of July. There will be flags, barbecues, picnics, concerts, parades, fireworks, political grandstanding – and the Post Office will be closed. In a world that is so full of uncertainties it's good to be sure of something. Every nation has some such annual festival – Polish National Day, May 3, is marked with folk dances, traditional costumes and lots of food. On Saint Patrick's Day the Irish like to wear green, go to church, and watch rugby matches,

David Bouchier: Putting On Appearances

A steady stream of advertising material pours into our mailbox, and yours too I'm sure. It has been estimated that the average American, whoever he or she is, sees five thousand advertisements every day, so it is hard verging on impossible for advertisers to capture anybody's attention. One sneaky trick is to put your name in a prominent position on the printed material. Nobody can resist seeing their own name in print. An example came the other day, a flashy card with the bold headline: "Time

David Bouchier: Polyglot

I have always admired and envied the ability to learn languages. The English language is hard enough, with its half million words, weird grammar, and odd pronunciations. Other languages are worse. When we try to master a new language we are thrust all the way back to our inarticulate early childhood, and we feel helpless. I've been to many places where I couldn't understand a word anybody said: Russia, Hungary, Greece, Scotland. It's humiliating. Every summer we see ads for yet another new

David Bouchier: The Reading Marathon Of Summer

Summer reading is one of those traditional pleasures, like family fun, that exists largely in the realm of fantasy. About a quarter of all American adults claim not to have read even a single book in the past year. But that leaves 75 percent who have read at least one, even if it was only The Art of the Deal . Yet, at this time of year, the newspapers and magazines invariably hit us with their "Summer Reading Supplements," each one thicker and more daunting than the last. One such supplement,

David Bouchier: Worth A Thousand Words?

A distant relative sent me a package of old family photographs, hoping that I could identify some of them. It was a vain hope. A few of the images came just within the range of personal memory: my parents, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and some embarrassing childhood pictures of myself. One of the nice things about human memory is that it is self-editing. It allows us to forget so much. But old photographs can destroy a lifetime of benign amnesia in a single instant. These ancient images

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