Category Archives: Living

“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 […]

Coach K: A sports role model we can actually root for

  There is a silver lining in every cloud after all, and this week we will find it on the hoops hardwood. Recently, the nation’s sports attention has been on DeflateGate – the alleged cheating by the New England Patriots in the recent AFC Championship Game, enroute to the Super Bowl. And while that affair’s fallout will linger, […]

In cold and flu season, Musterole remains the remedy of my dreams

My contractor had to delay repairing my kitchen floor for several days while caring for his sick boy, who had a chest cold. After the second postponement, I sent him this text message: Vicks on his chest, back and throat might help; too bad you don’t have Musterole. Ah, Musterole; how easily that word came […]

Irrational love: A Mustang memory

Some years ago, Ford Motor Company held a writing contest for past and present Mustang owners to describe their favorite memory of the American icon. The prize was a trip to Los Angeles for a Ford convention and further Mustang considerations. While I didn’t enter the competition, my own recollection of the classic pony car […]