David Skinner Articles


Craft Warning

Classic style for the modern temperament
Nov 03, 2014

Vladimir Nabokov, who knew a thing or two about the subject, once wrote, “Style is not a tool, it is not a method, it is not a choice of words alone.

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Where Angels Fear to Tread

David Skinner, intrepid traveler.
Dec 07, 2015

Friends of mine once saved for a trip to Europe by emptying their pockets at the end of each day and placing any money in a big plastic jug. Occasionally, when short of cash, they had to turn the jug upside down and withdraw a bill or two with a pair of tweezers, but the system worked. After a couple years, they bought plane tickets and were on their way. 

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Words Fail Me

David Skinner finds his voice.
Sep 28, 2015

Dear reader, don’t take this personally, but sometimes I think of pursuing another line of work. It’s not you, it’s me. Writing is just so hard. The words don’t seem apt, sentences come loose, a draft seems more deserving of the delete button than your readerly attention. 

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Casual Podcast: Words Fail Me

9:15 AM, Sep 27, 2015

THE WEEKLY STANDARD Casual Podcast, with David Skinner reading his casual essay "Words Fail Me."

Remember, when you sign up for our digital premium access, many of our print magazine articles are available to you courtesy of our professional readers.

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A Vacation from Modern Parenting

David Skinner, father interrupted.
Aug 10, 2015

I was in my office, happily encircled by little piles of paper, drafting an article, when real life interrupted. 

My wife Cynthia was on the phone. Our sons, she said, had ridden their bicycles—with permission—to the fancy overpriced coffee shop two blocks away to buy caramels. The shop was closed, they found. 

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Casual Podcast: Skin in the Game

11:30 AM, Apr 11, 2015

THE WEEKLY STANDARD Casual Podcast, with David Skinner reading his casual essay "Skin in the Game."

Remember, when you sign up for our digital premium access, many of our print magazine articles are available to you courtesy of our professional readers.

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Skin in the Game

David Skinner's body for sin.
Apr 06, 2015

I got married on April Fool’s Day, but not to make some kind of point, ironic or otherwise. It was just one of the Saturdays on the calendar when my fiancée Cynthia and I were trying to schedule our wedding. 

It would be, I initially thought, inconvenient that our anniversary would forever hold another, not necessarily complementary, meaning. But, perhaps for that very reason, other soon-to-be-wed couples avoided the day and made it easier for us to book a church and reception hall. 

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A Winter’s Tale

David Skinner gives life lessons.
Mar 30, 2015

It was the middle of January, and the ski school was full. The price of private lessons was much higher than we were willing to pay. Cynthia, my wife, was obviously frustrated.  

She had that look—slack cheeks, lips thinning, every few minutes a concealing hand to the forehead. It was enough to make me think of how little I had contributed to the planning for this weekend. 

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Casual Podcast: A Winter's Tale

David Skinner gives life lessons.
12:45 PM, Mar 22, 2015

THE WEEKLY STANDARD Casual Podcast, with David Skinner reading his casual essay "A Winter's Tale."

Remember, when you sign up for our digital premium access, many of our print magazine articles are available to you courtesy of our professional readers.

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Young Spice

David Skinner stays young.
Mar 02, 2015

Over the holidays, I was at my sister’s place. The youngest generation was racing about the house screaming “Not in the face!” as they shot each other with foam projectiles launched from colorful plastic rifles. 

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Casual Podcast: Young Spice

David Skinner stays young.
8:45 AM, Mar 01, 2015

THE WEEKLY STANDARD Casual Podcast, with David Skinner reading his casual essay "Young Spice."

Remember, when you sign up for our digital premium access, many of our print magazine articles are available to you courtesy of our professional readers.

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Outer Borough Tales

Man hands on misery to man in Queens
Dec 08, 2014

On the third page of We Are Not Ourselves, it is said that Big Mike lives in an apartment on whose walls the only piece of art is a painting of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland. If not a friend to the world of fine art, Mike is a great friend to his fellow Irish immigrants in Woodside, Queens. On stools and from behind the bar, he holds forth on matters great and small, helping this one with marital advice and that one with a job.

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Fighting Irish

David Skinner, aging jock.
Sep 08, 2014

Twice now, as I enter my forties, I have picked up a new sport. First I took up tennis, which I have always enjoyed watching and is known to be a game one can play well into the gray-haired years. And a couple months ago I started playing Gaelic football, a bruising, I hope not bone-crushing, but definitely high-speed, um, melee more than an actual sport, which perhaps no one of any age should play and about which I knew almost nothing.

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Casual Podcast: Fighting Irish

11:05 AM, Sep 06, 2014

THE WEEKLY STANDARD Casual Podcast, with David Skinner reading his casual essay "Fighting Irish."

Remember, when you sign up for our digital premium access, many of our print magazine articles are available to you courtesy of our professional readers.

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Casual Podcast: The Family Man

Read by David Skinner.
9:15 AM, Jul 27, 2014

THE WEEKLY STANDARD Casual Podcast, with David Skinner reading his casual essay "The Family Man."

Remember, when you sign up for our digital premium access, many of our print magazine articles are available to you courtesy of our professional readers.

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The Daily Dishes

David Skinner, dedicated dishwasher
Jul 21, 2014

Recently I was fingerprinted for a work ID. Sitting at a little table across from a gentleman who, like many federal employees, wore his ID badge and metro card around his neck, I concentrated on rolling my right thumb just so over the scanner between us, from the leftmost edge of the nail to the flat, fleshy center before lifting straight up. Then I did it again. And again. And again.

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Casual Podcast: The Daily Dishes

Read by David Skinner.
10:35 AM, Jul 19, 2014

THE WEEKLY STANDARD Casual Podcast, with David Skinner reading his casual essay "The Daily Dishes."

Remember, when you sign up for our digital premium access, many of our print magazine articles are available to you courtesy of our professional readers.

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The Family Man

David Skinner's first muse
Jun 16, 2014

The first writer I ever met was my Uncle Joe. He was tall, with a fading cap of screwy red hair, big mischievous eyes, and a smile that might have been drawn by Dr. Seuss. 

I remember him saying to my younger brother and me that there were goblins in his basement. No way were we going to fall for that. He opened the door, inviting us to take a look. “Go ahead. You can see them, can’t you?” We peered down the basement stairs, into the darkness, but saw nothing. “Whoa, there goes one, did you see it?”

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The Saint of the Family

David Skinner in the eye of the beholder
Mar 31, 2014

In our dining room, there was a small glass-top table that looked like an old-fashioned pushcart. On it my mother kept several small plants that made a mess of the glass top as they shed their leaves and, when watered, dripped soil from the holes at the bottom of their pots. To clean the table you had to remove all the plants, wipe down the glass, clean off the bottoms of the pots, and return them to the glass. It was a chore we always put off, except when Aunt Eileen was coming to visit.

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Casual Podcast: The Saint of the Family

2:31 PM, Mar 26, 2014

THE WEEKLY STANDARD Casual Podcast, with David Skinner reading his essay, "The Saint of the Family."

Remember, when you sign up for our digital premium access, many of our print magazine articles are available to you courtesy of our professional readers.

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It’s How You Play the Game

David Skinner, cheering section.
Dec 16, 2013

I was on the sidelines at my daughter’s 11-and-under travel soccer game. It had been a successful season, but today they were being outmuscled by a very physical team from Warrenton. With a strong wind blowing against them and only one substitute on the bench, the Alexandria Heat were on the wrong side of a 5-0 rout. 

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The Forgotten Woman

David Skinner’s Queens blues
Sep 30, 2013

A few years ago, I was in New York with my wife, Cynthia. Passing through Queens, we stopped in to see an old family friend of hers who was in town, with a new baby, visiting relatives.

I knew little about this woman, whose name was Cathy, except that she and Cynthia had seen a lot of each other growing up. She was also mentioned in a few family stories, including a favorite of mine about my father-in-law’s boating days.

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The Ninja Party

David Skinner, shadow warrior
Aug 19, 2013

Americans may be having fewer children, but we make a fetish of the ones we have. This is obvious to anyone unlucky enough to have attended a child’s birthday party in recent years. 

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Mister Early Riser

David Skinner, (anything but) routine parent
Mar 25, 2013

My wife Cynthia occasionally interviews our kids, jotting down their answers in little journals. She asks questions like, What was your favorite part of our trip?

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Wars of Words

Dividing the world into prescriptivists and descriptivists.
Oct 01, 2012

The fifth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary, published by Houghton Mifflin, was released last fall. In the typecast world of dictionary publishing, American Heritage is the “conservative” dictionary. Developed in the 1960s in the wake of company president James Parton’s failed attempt to wrest control of the G. and C. Merriam Co., which had recently become notorious for the publication of the “permissive” dictionary, Webster’s Third, the first edition of the American Heritage Dictionary was deliberately marketed as the choice of squares and fogeys.

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Maddy and Daddy

David Skinner discovers his daughter.
Apr 30, 2012

"You’re going to Spain with or without your kids?” That was the question friends always asked when I mentioned the upcoming trip. And why not? So much of my social life these days revolves around my children that I regularly receive emails identifying the sender, after the signature and always in parentheses, as So-and-So’s mom or So-and-So’s dad. It’s like a reversal of the Russian patronymic, which identifies people by their father. In this case adults are identified by reference to the little people they chauffeur to soccer games.

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For the Record

David Skinner, Witness
Aug 01, 2011

 

Walking around the block recently, looking at the foundation of a new house going up, I remembered one of the most important days of my life. I was five years old. My parents had purchased a house—this was in Queens in 1978—on a double lot. They split the property in two and were building a second house on the empty half. The plan was for us to move into the new house when it was finished and sell the old house.

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The Cycling Life

The two-wheeled approach to happiness.
May 30, 2011

It’s All About the Bike
The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels
by Robert Penn

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