Category Archives: Living

Would you let partisan politics ruin your family?

  In my summer travels and writings, I recently had an opportunity to see the play “The City of Conversation,” by Anthony Giardina. The play is about family and politics, and how the latter could affect the former. In short, and without diving into the work itself too much, the play is about two strong women, […]

My Father’s Day

Dad holding me, Christmas 1960. (click to enlarge - photo courtesy of author)

On Pearl Harbor Day, 1996, I came home early from work, and within minutes of walking in the door, my sister called with news of our father’s death. After hanging up, the poet Robert Lowell came to mind. A New Englander who spent his life at odds with an old-school father, Lowell once wrote: I struck […]

Her eternal search for E.E. Cummings

PoetsCummings

  I‘ve made the pilgrimage before, even in the rain. Early one morning, under a misting sky, I drove down to Boston – specifically, to Jamaica Plain. My last visit had been years before, yet I followed the course by memory. Urban landscapes can change in 35 years, but finding Forest Hills Cemetery is never […]

Stage Names: Portland Stage finds more than just a Lost Boy

Gabriel (Tyrone Davis Jr) offers Christine (Mhari Sandoval) a sample of papaya, in Portland Stage Company's production of "Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods," by Tammy Ryan. (Click to Enlarge - Photo by Aaron Flacke)

Sitting in the shadows during a weekend performance of Portland Stage’s “Lost Boy in Whole Foods,” the poet E.E. Cummings haunted me: a man who had fallen among thieves lay by the roadside on his back dressed in fifteenthrate ideas wearing a round jeer for a hat   fate per a somewhat more than less emancipated evening had […]

Stage Names: Portland Stage unleashes raucous “Hound of the Baskervilles”

(L to R) Sir Henry Baskerville (Steven Strafford), Dr. Watson (Ryan Farley), and Sherlock (Dustin Tucker) hear the howl of the Hound in The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson. (click to enlarge-Photo by Aaron Flacke)

You knew right away — from the opening lines, in fact — that this version of Sherlock Holmes was going to produce a delightfully delicious evening. When the usual Portland Stage Company official did not come out to welcome the crowd and thank sponsors — leaving the task instead to the play’s three actors (who were already on stage) — […]

A hotel room for Christmas

The author's son Jason, with his season baseball trophy, late summer, 1993. (click to enlarge - photo courtesy of author)

  My best Christmas was spent in a hotel room, and I have the candy jar to prove it. Filled to capacity with old, inexpensive holiday ornaments, it sits at home on a bookshelf and collects dust, yet remains a treasured possession. In the early 1990s, I used to make monthly pilgrimages to Iowa to […]

Stage Names: What Martin Luther King, Jr. tells us from Portland Stage

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Harvy Blanks) lays out a new dream discuss while Camae
(Kim Staunton) listens on. (click to enlarge - Photo by Aaron Flacke)

PORTLAND – About halfway through Portland Stage’s current production,  “The Mountaintop,” a fictional, near-fantasy account by Katori Hall of the last night of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life in a Memphis motel room, I heard the echo of Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) : “This is not a biography; is the confession of every man who struggles.” Those words, […]

Patti Stevens found suicide in the realm of tortured souls

Dave and Patti Stevens on their wedding day in 1990. (click to enlarge - photo courtesy of Stevens Family/Twitter)

The recent tragic case of Patti Stevens, the Dallas, Texas area woman who took her own life on Oct. 25 in the wake of her husband Dave’s brutal murder by schizophrenic former Texas A&M football player Thomas Johnson, once again brought the scourge of suicide to the national spotlight. Indeed, in an eerie parallel to Andy Warhol’s  alleged “15 […]

Seared in memory: What were you doing on 9/11?

9/11: UA Flight 175 hits WTC south tower. (click to enlarge - photo by Robert J. Frisch. Use allowed under the terms of cc 2.0 Generic)

In my lifetime, there have arguably been three events considered show-stopping cultural icons; instances when, years later, someone might ask: “Where were you when … ?” or “What were you doing when … ?” The first was President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963. As a young boy not yet in school, I didn’t grasp […]

On Labor Day, a journalist cleans out his files of nuggets and gems

The dead man's hand: two pairs of aces and eights, the cards held by Wild Bill Hickock had when he was shot in 1876. (click to enlarge - Photo by Tage Olsin. Use allowed under CC 2.0 Generic)

A journalist’s research, fact-checking and interview leftovers often provide a treasure trove of information the public never sees. On any given week, I’m working on a handful of writing and editing assignments for a variety of publications. Periodically my files – both paper and automated – require purging. It’s something I like to do on […]