Music Fix

May 27, 2009

I make no secret of my adoration for The Avett Brothers, a band I fell for even harder after seeing them live last summer. For that concert at the Oregon Zoo, I stood in a monsoon-like rain, oblivious to the drenching.

Now I’ve seen them again, this time indoors last Friday night at the Crystal Ballroom. I leaned against the stage with the most die-hard music fans I’ve ever met: people who had flown from South Dakota, a couple who had driven eighteen hours from Colorado, and a woman from Washington, D.C. who was taking in her eleventh show on the band’s present tour. Another guy was seeing his sixth performance in nine days. All planned to take in the Saturday night show too. Read More

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Alternate Universes

May 24, 2009

I pass the bathroom door. Our soon-to-be four year old, Atticus, is seated naked on the toilet. His mother is next to him. Atticus is holding her iPhone, which is playing a YouTube video of Sesame Street, a technique for scaring off the constipation spirits.

Surely no one forecast such a scene more than a half-century ago when, at the same age, I needed to relax on the toilet. But what if I would have requested similar attention from my mother (or father), two people never inclined to assist in my bodily discharges post-potty training? Read More

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Slumming in the City

May 19, 2009

Movement outside the bathroom window. Peering through the blinds, I see a heron atop the neighbor’s garage. It’s scoping out the goldfish in our small backyard pond. Some are so large they’re often mistaken for koi. All are oblivious to the harbinger of death gazing upon them. Read More

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Taken by time

May 16, 2009

When I was in college, my roommate and I often drove back roads deep into the Georgia woods. The roads would narrow to little more than rocky rutted paths. With no idea of our whereabouts and not caring, we’d then walk until the forest enveloped us. It was aimlessness with purpose, a meandering quest for serendipity. I miss it. Read More

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Cancer With Wry Smile

May 9, 2009

I’m a big fan of a guy’s blog. He’s a storyteller, and a damn good one. Even if he wasn’t, he’d win my award for best blog name: And I Am Not Lying.

Jeff Simmermon hasn’t posted much lately, and I just found out why: he apparently has testicular cancer.

His account of learning about the tumor and what’s ahead is entertaining yet poignant, like his other writing. The piece also conveys an attitude worth emulating when confronted with a serious medical problem.

The older I get the more I wonder how I’ll handle what’s likely inevitable.

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Spring flower girl

May 9, 2009

matildaIn evening light, she and a friend drift past my house. “Can I take a picture of your hat?” No hesitation or strange look in her response, only a guileless yes. “What’s the occasion?” She glances at her friend. “I make them all the time from what I see along the sidewalk.” Lilac today, maybe dogwood tomorrow. They saunter off. I ask flower girl her name. Looking back over her shoulder — slowly to keep her hat in place — she calls out: “Matilda.”

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Showing my age, I remember when teenagers called AM radio stations at night to dedicate songs to girls or boys they liked. The lyrics communicated things they couldn’t say face to face. In junior high school, I was one of the them.

Sometimes we masked our identity but made clear whom the song was intended. Or we identified ourselves and left people guessing about the recipient. If we were lucky, our dedications would air live rather than get read in the DJ’s hyper parlance. What was said would be the source of giggled chatter at school the next day. Read More

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Blood Puddle Pillow

May 7, 2009

When my wife and I were dating, I went to her apartment. She greeted me with an enigmatic smile. Smelling faintly of perfume, she led me upstairs to the bedroom. On the floor was a chalk outline, like those drawn around a dead body at a crime scene. It was me, she said.

Today I remembered that moment and the insight it gave me into her macabre sense of humor. Triggering the memory was finding “The Great Slumber a.k.a. The Blood Puddle Pillow.” Read More

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pursue-justice

What’s the context of these quotes from the epigraph page of a book I bought today? Not the unfolding torture scandal, though it could be. Instead they set the tone for Savages & Scoundrels: The Untold Story of America’s Road to Empire Through Indian Territory by Paul VanDevelder. Read More

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Wine and Wind

May 3, 2009

We had crowded into a building filled with tables filled with wine. As we — wife and another couple — snaked through lines of people and sampled the wares of artisanal vintners, rain began drumming on the roof like it does in Florida, not Oregon. The sound drowned out the chatter. Wind swept through open doors. Curtains of rain swirled sideways. Then came thunder, and people cheered. They cheered because thunder is rare in Portland and because enough wine makes violent storms a happy backdrop on an early spring Saturday. Read More

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Story Quest

April 30, 2009

I’m lost in the Lost City of Z. When I open the book in bed at night, my world disappears. Reality becomes author David Grann‘s riveting account of the obsessive hunt for a place that may have never existed.

Grann had phenomenal material without visiting what may be the remotest place on Earth. His adventure, blended discreetly into a multi-layered story, brings the narrator alive on the page and leavens his dire accounts of explorers forever lost in Amazon jungle. Read More

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Dog Boy

April 25, 2009

I swear it’s true: Dog Boy, aka son Atticus, asked to enter a dog carrier. (Please, no calls to  the child abuse hotline.) His mother consented (arrest her, not me). Photographic proof here: Read More

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Classroom Chaos

April 24, 2009

I can’t imagine a more poignant or tragic portrayal of classroom chaos than that depicted in the French film The Class. Fictional but shot documentary style, the story shows a teacher’s persistent but futile attempt to reach students mired in pubescent rebellion and complex culture clashes.

Throughout the film I kept thinking of my school days, serene and boring in comparison. But that was the 1960s in Central Florida, when classroom order and conformity resembled the symmetry and prevalence of orange groves. Everything has changed there, too. Read More

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