Category Archives: Living

Good fences make good neighbors

"Good fences make good neighbors" is one of the English language's most recognized phrases, from Robert Frost's 1914 poem, "Mending Wall." (Click to enlarge - photo by Sarang, released for unconditional use in public domain)

I was 13 when I first read Robert Frost’s Mending Wall, and it changed me forever. That verse began my love affair with writing. As National Poetry Month is now upon us, it’s worth recalling how Frost inspired me to pick up a pencil every day and draft my inner thoughts on paper. At that […]

At Easter, “Jesus Christ Superstar” still rocks the house

2010 production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" at the Minack Theatre, Cornwall, Great Britain (Click to enlarge. © Copyright Rod Allday and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence )

In New England – as in so much of the Western world – church attendance has been on a severe decline, and outreach is a priority for all Christian congregations. Yet one of the most effective (and scantly used) heralds for that cause remains a 35-year-old rock opera by two genius Brits that is a landmark in […]

Stage Names: Portland Stage sees “Red”; so should you.

Studio assistant Ken (Ross Cowan) and abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko (Zachary Wyatt), in Portland Stage's production of Tony-award-winning "Red," by John Logan. (Photo courtesy of Portland Stage Company - click to enlarge)

PORTLAND — My artist friends often express surprise when they learn that once, in what now seems like another lifetime, I was a soldier. My response to this reaction is always the same: “Soldiers and artists might just be the last true romantics left; they have far more in common than what’s on the surface.” While […]

“Forests fear me!”…the complete Erik Larson interview on “Dead Wake,” only in the BDN!

New York Times bestselling author Erik Larson, whose new book, "Dead Wake," was recently released. (Click to enlarge: Photo by Benjamin Benschneider, used courtesy of Penguin Random House)

    One of the beautiful things about being an independent journalist is that often you get to work on projects where you are left with tons of unused material, particularly from interviews. I found myself in this boat – no pun intended – with interview material I have from New York Times bestselling author Erik […]

Stage Names: “Whipping” up race, religion and the Civil War at Portland Stage

Wounded Civil War veteran Caleb (Tom White), returns home to find his former slaves, Simon (Ray Anthony Thomas) and John (Brooks Brantly) in Portland Stage's "The Whipping Man." (Photo Courtesy Portland Stage Company)

PORTLAND – The beauty of reviewing the same play two years apart in another state performed by a different Equity company is how the one work can be, well, different — even if its earlier version mirrors it. And so with the 150th anniversary of Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse just weeks away, our ongoing American reflection of race, culture, religion, and war can […]

In bleak midwinter, hail the gods of early spring!

While sandlot baseball has virtually died among kids in the U.S., Americans abroad play it as a reminder of home, as these Marine show in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2006. (Photo by US Marine Corps, released for use in public domain)

In the weeks-long news blitz about this winter’s bone-chilling, record-setting cold and snow, it escaped me that Major League Baseball spring training camps opened this week. While channel surfing, I noticed a countdown clock almost wound down behind a sportscaster. Then he spoke the magic words: “Pitchers and catchers report!” As a teenager I followed the national pastime, even after […]

Fifty Shades (of gender differences)

Enough already with the over-analysis. You want to know why Hollywood’s latest abomination, the movie adaptation of the #1 international best seller “Fifty Shades of Grey” is such a critical bust even though it may end up reaping in a bounty? Two reasons: Gender and art, which aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, either. Simply put, E. […]

Do clothes really make the person?

Haute couture? Fashion designer Pierre Balmain fitting gown on actress Ruth Ford. What does this dress tell us about its wearer? (Photo by Carl Van Vechten. Source: Library of Congress, in public domain)

A half-century ago, President Dwight Eisenhower observed: “When you put on a uniform, there are certain inhibitions you accept.” He should have known something about the subject after four decades as an Army officer. While military uniforms can be an obvious source at which to point in considering occupational attire, commentators have argued the significance […]

Stage Names: Want to understand the Cold War? Portland Stage’s “Havana” can help

PORTLAND – The title of this review is as ludicrous as some of the situations in which Graham Greene put his characters in the 1958 “entertainment,” “Our Man in Havana,” one of his frivolous works surrounded by serious novels that secured his legacy as a legend of 20th century letters. But with President Obama having just announced a move to normalize relations […]

Bracing for Blizzard Juno? Grab a shovel and some Zen.

With Winter Strom Juno bearing down on Down East, friends and family won’t lose a chance to poke fun at me over an obsession for shoveling snow, specifically the messes which accumulate in my driveway following storms. But in taking self-effacement to the nth degree I let some other thoughts slip by. This is a chance to make […]