Michael

Epicenter of Oddity

January 27, 2011

The nearby  Safeway grocery reigns as my epicenter of oddity. Tonight, while waiting to buy bananas, I watched the guy in front of me pay for two big bags of potatoes. He didn’t answer the cashier’s pleasantries. When three pennies slid from the change machine, he flicked them onto the end of the counter, as […]

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Coincidental Coincidences

October 15, 2010

Why does the mind, acting independently of its owner, insist on attaching significance to coincidences for which chance is the only plausible explanation? Or if not attaching significance, then automatically sketching out possible narratives that have no basis in fact? These questions and many others linger after a day of coincidences. First up: Driving to […]

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Tragic Rerun

October 13, 2010

The flowers are gone. So are the candles, hand-scrawled notes, and other remembrances that for months crowded the sidewalk beneath a sign advertising passport photos. But the story they told is still with me, replayed every time I pass the intersection of NW Glisan and Broadway in Portland. It’s where a TriMet bus ran down […]

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Accidental Vestige

October 9, 2010

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Some photos haunt me. None more than this one. It was taken behind our house in Nashua, New Hampshire, circa August 1958, seven months before our family moved to Florida. My two brothers and I posed for our mother, and judging from our expressions, we hadn’t yet reached the stage of reflexive smart-ass resistance to […]

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Cinematic Injustice

October 5, 2010

Forty-one years after the fact, I’m still incensed that John Wayne won the best actor Oscar for his starring role in the ho-hum True Grit, despite Dustin Hoffman’s mesmerizing portrayal of Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy. But after watching the trailer for an upcoming Coen brothers remake of True Grit, starring Jeff Bridges in the […]

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Toys of Nature

October 1, 2010

We try not to over-indulge our five-year-old son. Still, Atticus has ended up with many more things than any kid can keep track of, much less play with. I could haul away all his toys, and he wouldn’t complain — as long as he was lording over this small creek winding its way to the […]

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No One Chooses

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September 15, 2010

Nearly a decade ago, a sudden medical problem made me afraid I was going to die on the spot. What had I done to deserve the infamy of croaking in Costco?

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Fatal Fall Into History

ancestor

April 8, 2010

News about the discovery of two mostly intact skeletons from nearly 2 million years ago focuses on claims that they represent a previously unknown branch in the human evolutionary tree. I appreciate the potential significance of Australopithecus sediba, as the middle-age woman and adolescent boy have been dubbed. But my focus keeps drifting to questions […]

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Creature of Catastrophe

If CO2 was pink

April 7, 2010

Stumbling upon intersecting observations by two writers today, I was reminded of a vacation several years ago at the Olympic Peninsula’s northwestern tip. I was drinking coffee in the lobby of a lodge. A new guest was checking in. The innkeeper, making small talk, asked what he did for a living. “I work for Duke […]

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Dream of The Honey

Luke Top

April 6, 2010

A song whose foreign words I don’t understand grabbed me recently and won’t let go. The Afro-pop music by Fool’s Gold is so mesmerizing that I had never wondered about the lyrics, though Luke Top’s voice is melodious as an instrument. I’ve played the song dozens of times, often consecutively. Uplifting yet plaintive,”Ha Dvash” takes […]

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Florida urologist Jack Cassell doesn’t want to treat 69,438,983 Americans. “If you voted for Obama. . . seek urologic care elsewhere,” reads a sign outside Cassell’s office in Mount Dora, reported the Orlando Sentinel, a newspaper I helped edit for much of my adult life. Think of how shunning Obama backers could spread. When I […]

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Shirley Morris

As guest curator for a recently opened exhibit, “Tall in the Saddle: the Pendleton Round-Up at 100,” I worked with dozens of people across the Northwest. Sometimes the project intersected with the creative work of others. Among them was fine artist Shirley Morris of Bend, Oregon, who’s making a documentary that I’m eager to see. […]

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roadside memorial

Forests and cliffs along a finger of Puget Sound replace scenes from my city life. I’m driving north, Highway 101, enjoying glimpses of water reflecting gray sky. Then a small roadside cross blares a silent message: Fatal Crash Happened Here. Questions come in bursts, and the mind answers with gory images. Did the car flip? […]

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