Moss, is humor writer from Tennessee. She writes a
weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny
things that happen to everyone.
She has written for the Daily News of Kingsport, Griffin Journal,
Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton
Advocate, and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News
Journal. She has been
published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks
at Guidepost Books. Her articles have appeared in
numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.
She is a
former board member and past Editor of the Columnists.com, website of the National Society of Newspaper
oldest and largest professional organization
for columnists. She is the Web Editor of
Humorists.com and a founder of the Southern Humorists writers'
organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of HumorColumnist.com.
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Online Since 1999
||An Awesome Conference...
An Awesome Conference
have recently returned from a trip to Indiana University for the
annual conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. The
three days there were such a swirl of experiences that I feel a bit
like the monitor of my computer, which was green when I sat down to
write. The computer monitor was easy to fix once I found the right
button, but my own button is a bit harder to
In most college towns there is a wide diversity of intellectual
experiences and Indiana University is certainly typical in that
respect. We crammed a whole lot of activity into a very short time.
It started out typically enough with welcomes and introductions.
"Yes, you can teach old dogs new tricks, with enough
treats," said the NSNC President. And that pretty much spelled it
out -- old dogs learning new tricks “ or at least having the
opportunity to do so.
One of the things we liked best about the location was the fact that
Ernie Pyle had been a student there. You may not be familiar with Pyle
as he is disappearing from public awareness. He was one of the most
famous of correspondents during World War II, covering it from the
perspective of the average GI Joe, a phrase he invented. It is not the
period he wrote in that is important, but the brilliance with which he
wrote that is so admired. The Ernie Pyle Hall of Journalism was right
next to the hotel. It gave me goose bumps every time I walked by.
But there was more, much more. The famous Kinsey Institute, which does
research in human sexuality, gender and reproduction, is at Indiana
University. Who knew? You can bet that when it was time for the Kinsey
speaker's presentation, the room was packed. It turned out to be quite
tasteful and the presenter was both
amusing and informing. But there were no pictures. Those were over at
the Institute's Art Museum, which I didn't visit but heard was quite
That evening we visited the Oliver Winery, which lead me to call it
"sex and booze" day. It wasn't as bad as it sounds -- no,
really. There were orchards of grapes, and giant fermentation tanks,
and barrels where the wine aged. Of course, we have similar
establishments here in Tennessee, but they are fermenting whiskey, not
And if all this isn't enough, there was the visit to the Buddhist
Cultural Center. It seems the brother of the Dalai Lama taught at
Indiana University, and when he retired, he decided to establish a
center to educate the West in the understanding of Tibetan and
Buddhist culture. The decor was highly elaborate and the traditional
food was strange to my taste buds.
We found the Director, believed to be the reincarnation of a holy
person, to be quite interesting. He even let me snap his picture in
his traditional red robe. He explained Buddhism as the study of
self-awareness and the path to enlightenment. But, columnists were
less interested in self-awareness than in the fact that the Dalai Lama
likes Tootsie Rolls, which shows that we apparently have a long way to
All this was wrapped up by a day at a marvelous place called the West
Baden Springs Hotel, which dates back to 1902 and has been visited by
celebrities and presidents. It has been refurbished in the style of
the Gilded Age Period, and is a wonder to see. It boasts an
unsupported dome roof over a large atrium that causes everyone who
visits to stop and look up in awe. We had a historic tour and learned
about times past during which it served as a Jesuit Monastery, among
other things. It fell into ruins before being purchased by the present
owner and restored into a glamorous luxury resort that attracts the
rich and famous -- as well as columnists looking for a story.
There was much more, of course, live music by the best pianist in
Bloomington, a harp player stolen from the National Harp Festival
going on at the university, and distinguished professors and writers,
who told us that inspiration is contagious. And so it is... I wouldn't
mind going back to be inspired some more.
Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss
Nashville, TN 37219
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