Posts Tagged ‘life’

Early Saturday afternoon I was suddenly consumed with a burst of restlessness, an urgent need to get out of the house and do something that did not involve staying in the house. It was a gorgeous day – high clouds, crystal blue skies, mild temperatures with low humidity. There were plenty of local options to burn off the jumpiness. We could shoot down the road into Princeton and wander among the ivy, day trippers, and shops. A short drive in any direction would take us to hiking trails and parks. We could stroll around our familiar streets and blithely comment on minor changes to our neighbor’s outdoor décor. We could do any of these things, things we’ve done 1,000 times before. But on this particular Saturday I wanted more than the usual distractions. I quickly concocted an impromptu plan.

I slipped downstairs. With the subtlety of a diplomat I asked Caryn if there was anything she hoped to get done before the end of the day. She mentioned a few things, but they all had a self-imposed deadline of Sunday night. Seeing an opening, I shot my plan at her. (Figuratively.) “Let’s go spend the night in Philly!” Within minutes we were headed south to the city where Ben Franklin fathered an illegitimate son, where Angelo Bruno was rubbed out Mafia-style in front of his home, and where (more…)

Since musician Nanci Griffith’s recent death her fans have flooded social media with an avalanche of tributes. They reflected on songs and albums which hold special meaning. They remembered concerts and television appearances. They talked about times when her music shepherded them through challenging periods. These posts were (and still are) varied, heartfelt, and often tinged with sadness and melancholy. But almost universally they were framed with feelings of gratitude and thanks.

The official announcement of her passing specifically mentioned her wish that no details surrounding it be publicly shared for at least a week. It was a curious and, in this age, unusual choice, although (more…)

Word came down today that my nephew was admitted to the University of Cambridge. He will begin his studies in the fall. As a statement of fact, he is officially further along than I was at 18. Heck, he is further along than I am now. Okay, I realize his accomplishment is not about me, but I simply want to assuage any uneasiness he may have harbored about a direct comparison to his New Jersey uncle. I imagine this was his predominant concern over the past several months as he awaited news of his acceptance. How could it not be? Well, the results are in and you are on it like a car bonnet. Rest easy, good nephew.

Cambridge is, as you know, one’s of the world’s most British universities. Founded over 550 years before the United States was even a gleam in a suspicious Plantagenet’s eye, they have been in the education biz for a long, long time. Not University of Bologna long. Don’t get carried away. But definitely longer than (more…)

The relentless avalanche of details surrounding the most recent ex-president’s last two months in office brings to mind the radio crime dramas of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Sirius XM broadcasts many of these old programs like The Whistler, Boston Blackie, and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. They also rerun comedies, variety shows, and straight dramas from the golden age of radio, but it is the mysteries which are particularly entertaining and nowadays, surprisingly instructive.

These shows did not deal in subtlety. A crime was discovered. The hero arrived at the scene, sussed out the whos and whats and wheres, and quickly settled upon a primary suspect. The rest of the program (more…)

As a child I had a troubling, recurring dream. I was probably 4 the first time I dreamt it and it would regularly return until I was 8 or 9. I hesitate calling it a nightmare since it never reached the point where I felt helpless and doomed. I would end the threat before it got that far, but I am jumping ahead.

In the dream it was the middle of the night. The drawn curtains blocked out the street lights. I was alone on the floor lying on my stomach watching television. My arms were propped up and my head rested in my hands. The television was in my father’s living room. It was a large, very old black and white Zenith, the kind that took a moment to warm up when first turned on. A small dot would appear in the center of the screen and gradually grow larger until the full picture appeared. When it was turned off, the dot (more…)

“Would you like anchovies on your pizza?”

Excuse me? Anchovies on my pizza? Are you pranking me? That’s hilarious! Where is the hidden camera? While you’re at it you should ask if I’d like a nice dusting of baby powder and a fresh dollop of mud on each slice.

“Have you ever tried it?”

Wait. You’re serious? Why would I eat that? Imagine the sound of rodents racing through the walls as you sit down in a restaurant. You don’t see the wall crawlers, but does that matter? Would you still want to order food? Not if you’re with me. If you multiply that sickening feeling by 1,000 you may understand the scope of horror I feel when it comes to anchovies on pizza.

“You should try it. How can you be certain if you’ve never tried it? Do your own research, man.”

For that I had no comeback. They were right. Until I (more…)

Most of us never see artists at work. Most of us never want to see artists at work. The process of visualizing, creating, refining, and polishing is the best left in the shadows. The multiple iterations required to arrive at a completed piece are neither appealing or interesting to most of us. The mental and emotional gyrations which spun and swirled in Van Gogh’s head and hand as he accelerated towards The Starry Night or Café Terrace at Night may fascinate, but they hardly make good viewing. Bach’s endless tinkering with notes and sounds while he composed the Brandenburg Concertos may appeal to the musicologist, but the rest of us are satisfied listening to the music. Nobody wants to see Meryl Streep stand in front of a mirror practicing gestures, accents, and tone while preparing for a role. The image of Anne Coates viewing reels of film in a cramped editing room, then manipulating them in search of the proper pacing for Lawrence of Arabia, is best left to film students. We just want to see the movie. The effort behind (more…)

we watch

Posted: August 27, 2020 in Observations and Commentary
Tags: , ,

We watch the world like it is a video game, full of carnage and mayhem, but never tactile or real. We watch chaos erupt in metropolises, cities, and towns. We watch protectors turn aggressor. We watch frustration turn to anger and anger turn to rage and rage turn to destruction. We watch military grade weapons filter into the hands of the unprepared and unstable. We watch youthful fervor morph into (more…)

New Jersey, along with a large portion of the eastern United States, is in the midst of a “bomb cyclone.” Bomb cyclone grabs your attention, doesn’t it? It commands a serious and dramatic response. It also sounds like a new film by Roland Emmerich or an especially potent libation at “The Bunker”, the Pentagon’s underground officer’s lounge. Naturally, real meteorologists don’t call it this. They prefer “explosive cyclogenesis.” For them explosive cyclogenesis more concisely explains what it is happening. Conveniently, it also helps justify debt incurred through years of graduate and post-graduate study.

Weather events like these are very technical, but a winning topic of conversation among attendees of the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society. Those folks (more…)


Tom Petty has been gone for three months, but it still doesn’t feel real. Since the mid-70’s he has always been there doing his thing without much fanfare, like bedrock. His songs, especially the earlier ones, routinely pop up on classic rock stations. Whenever that happens the volume gets boosted a bit. Part of the reason is the songs are solid; the other is they offer warm familiarity. This may be true of all music you enjoyed as a kid, but not all of that music endures. Petty endures, like bedrock.

I was never a superfan, but I like a lot of his work – and love some of it. I saw him live for the first and only time in 1979. Back then huge video screens did not flank the stage, so unless (more…)