Random Selections from the Blog

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Black Beauty goes to World War One

Posted January 12th, 2012
Black Beauty goes to World War One

Apparently a few British critics have made the connection between Anna Sewell’s classic, Black Beauty (1877), and Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse, the basis for Stephen Spielberg’s most recent film, but no American reviewer I have encountered has thought to compare them. Perhaps in this country the relationship is not so obvious but Black Beauty belongs…

All I Want for Christmas

Posted December 20th, 2012
All I Want for Christmas

What, no peppermint stick ice cream? Is there something wrong with this place stuck just under the Mason-Dixon Line? My Dear One has been searching high and low and with no luck. There is none at Klein’s/Shop-Rite, none at Mars, none at Weis or Wal-Mart. We even tried Wegmans, hoping that their chi-chi reputation and…

Portraits of a Presidency

Posted February 15th, 2018
Portraits of a Presidency

On February 12, 2018, the portraits of the 44th President and First Lady of the United States were unveiled. How do I like them? Let me, as it were, count the ways. The paintings are modern. The artists who made them (Kehinde Wiley, b. 1977, and Amy Sherald, b. 1973) are young-ish. Both are figurative…

I-35: Des Moines

Posted October 12th, 2016
I-35: Des Moines

There were dropped jaws and more polite phrasings like, “What has persuaded you to make this move?” when I told people that I was moving to Iowa, in 1985 for a job as curator of education at the Des Moines Art Center. “Big careers are made in smaller museums,” I often answered. But the truth…

Charm City’s War

Posted June 16th, 2012
Charm City’s War

  Since bicentennials are a once-in-a-lifetime experience, my Dear One and I found it impossible to ignore the “Star-Spangled Sailabration” of the War of 1812. That war is one of those conflicts largely ignored in American education. We’re very big on the War for Independence but leapfrog the War of 1812 to get to the…

The First Snow of Winter

Posted December 8th, 2013
The First Snow of Winter

Snow began to fall today sometime in later morning, near the end of Sunday Morning on CBS. Slate-gray skies and nippy air encouraged me to move briskly as I took my morning turn around the neighborhood. Newscasters solemnly itemized the cars wrecked, the trees and power lines snapped under the weight of ice, the flights…

The Naples Jaunt 2: Downpour

Posted January 5th, 2017
The Naples Jaunt 2: Downpour

Rrrrrnnnnnhhhh! Rrrrrnnnnnhhhh!… Rrrrrnnnnnhhhh! Rrrrrnnnnnhhhh! … Rrrrrnnnnnhhhh! Rrrrrnnnnnhhhh! What the hell was that? Oh god. The doorbell. The guy from the bar downstairs with our double espresso, cappuccino, and a couple cornetti. What time was it? Must be eight o’clock, that’s what I told Francesca when she said first breakfast was a freebie. I felt around…

Shining Silver

Posted November 24th, 2010

I have honored Santa Argenta, the patron saint of gleaming metal, and polished silver twinkles on the table I have set for the first of our pair of Thanksgiving dinners, the modest meal I share with my Dear One and my Tattooed Boy on Thursday evening that precedes the far more ambitious spread on Saturday….

Next Great Artist 9: Nature Concentrated

Posted August 5th, 2010

Bill Powers led the Final Five into the woods. China Chow, draped in earth-toned cloak, presented them to “Nature herself” and gave instructions to incorporate something they found, something “without a pulse,” into their works. She also mentioned that this task would take down two more artists and leave the three for the Grand Challenge…

Book # 12 in 2018: “The Good Good Pig” by Sy Montgomery

Posted April 9th, 2018
Book # 12 in 2018: “The Good Good Pig” by Sy Montgomery

I read Sy Montgomery’s Soul of an Octopus (2016) and it permanently decreased my options on the sushi menu. The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood (Ballantine/Random House, 2006) may not permanently put me off pork, but it will make me consider the nature of each life that ends up on my dinner…