Michael

A condensed version of this story was published in the East Oregonian newspaper.

…Sill, a self-taught newsreel cameraman who would earn a media-star reputation for getting exclusive footage and delivering it to theaters first, reached the largest audience. Such was the power of motion pictures, the new medium transforming the nation’s cultural landscape …

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Rockets At Night

March 19, 2009

Growing up in Central Florida, I saw dozens of rockets streak across the sky. They became part of the landscape. That’s not to say they weren’t memorable. Especially at dusk while I fished in our lake from a row boat with my father. One of us would spot the trail of fire, and we’d watch […]

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Memorable Lines

March 19, 2009

Subjective selections, yes. Some dubious. But Esquire‘s choice of the greatest 70 sentences are a humbling and inspiring read that I stumbled upon. Finding them led to a search for best opening sentences, and this list of 100 from novels echoes longer.

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Rewarding Failure

March 16, 2009

How can the $165 million that AGI is paying employees be considered bonuses if awarded for failure and not success? And that’s just the start. The bonuses are part of $450 million to be doled out. Some of my vanished retirement money came from annual bonuses while working at two Fortune 500 companies. Every manager […]

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Mystery of the Mounds

March 14, 2009

Three mounds of black dirt sprouting droopy yellow flowers in a vacant lot. It’s raining and I almost don’t stop the car. But the sight is too incongruous in this expanse of green to pass up. The oddity warrants a photograph, I decide, and unsheathe my camera.

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History Lost

March 13, 2009

Today I stood beneath a statue of Teddy Roosevelt astride a high-stepping horse. I was among  75 people in Portland’s South Park Blocks. Warmed in late afternoon sun, we protested plans to greatly reduce access to the Oregon Historical Society research library across the street. Many people spoke of the library’s key role in their […]

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Merits of Chaos

March 10, 2009

If better organized I would not have spent so many hours this month navigating the treacherous paper trail of my recent past. Tax time triggered this journey through canceled checks, receipts, and cluttered file draws. Disgust with the disarray then led to wholesale purging and imposition of order. But the paper trail also reconstructed much […]

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Lunar Mission Gone Awry

March 9, 2009

Our little boy, Atticus, spots a bright moon at dusk. He’s holding a toy modeled after one that was around when I was a kid, the Dan Dare Planet Gun. Pull the trigger and it launches a spring-powered propeller disk. I’ve wound it to the max. From our front steps he aims at the moon […]

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Panhandlers for Obama

March 6, 2009

Long before The Sopranos, I learned about real-life Mafia from Gay Talese in his stunning 1971 book Honor Thy Father. So his recent byline in the New York Times‘ City Room blog caught my eye. Talese recounts helping panhandlers improve their income by composing better-worded signs that invoke President Obama’s name. Word gets around. Tonight, […]

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Media Junk Food

March 6, 2009

Not only did we learn this week that Portland is the country’s unhappiest city, a new study says it’s among the least manly. But according to whose definition? These criteria aren’t my idea of manliness. The Portland Business Journal reports that “cities scored higher based on the number of sports teams they have, the number […]

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Commode Commentary

March 6, 2009

The bathroom at Mississippi Studios in Portland is the home of succinct political commentary that summarizes the sentiments of many people these days. A message typed on a sheet of paper taped to the wall above the toilet advises patrons to flush twice. Below the message someone has scrawled an addendum: It’s a long way […]

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Amped Up on Live Music

March 5, 2009

Strange feeling, though not new, to look around a small-venue concert (my favorite) and see I’m the only one looking, well, old. I wonder what the twenty-somethings think when they see my gray and white hair. Have they ever considered that love of live music doesn’t vanish when you hit thirty or well beyond?

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Nose Job Memory

March 4, 2009

Among my earliest memories of my mother is her repeated complaints about the prominence of her nose and expressed hope to have it “fixed” one day. I thought of her nose when I saw this drawing from a 1930 nose reshaper ad. She complained persistently for several years. Her hope, which my frugal father greeted with […]

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