Category Archives: Portland

Zaftig zucchini, anyone?

A very, very large zucchini, (Click to enlarge. Photo by Lmbuga. Courtesy use permitted under the terms of CC 3.0 and GNU Free Documentation License, version 1.2)

A few days ago, I texted my friend Amanda (side note: a captain on U Maine’s cheerleading squad in the 1980s), and asked her how her famous gardens were doing, specifically her zucchini. Her answer back was telling: “I don’t do zukes because there are always fools like you growing them, and giving them away.” […]

Looking into the eyes of freedom

The Minuteman statue, by Daniel Chester French, at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Mass. (click to enlarge. Photo Courtesy od Dave Pape; released for unrestricted use in public domain)

Whenever I walk the Revolutionary battlefield in Concord, Mass., I’m heartened by our nation’s resilience. Studying the world-famous Minuteman statue, and on the same ground where, in the spring of 1775, a hastily formed American militia awaited King George’s troops, I can’t help but value the cost of freedom. This drive for liberty, however, was nothing […]

Father’s Day: Pitching to Jason

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

  Ten years ago, I sat down one afternoon to relax with Donald Hall’s classic book on sport, Fathers Playing Catch with Sons, one of my all-time favorites. While reading one of its essays, I was interrupted by the clicking of a computer keyboard from across the room. My son Jason, then in his first year of […]

Memorial Day: The loneliness of the funeral officer

The funeral offer presenting the next of kin's burial flag from the deceased veteran's casket. (Click to enlarge - US Navy photo in public domain)

In 430 B.C., after the first year of the Peloponnesian War – arguably history’s most devastating civil conflict, between Athens and Sparta – the Athenians gathered to bury their dead and hear a eulogy by the general and statesman Pericles. In what has been described as the paradigm for Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, he uttered these […]

Where have you gone, Bobby Fischer?

Bobby Fischer at his best: on the attack.(Click to enlarge. Photo in public domain; use allowed by CC 2.0)

Many years ago, while on vacation in Mallorca, I bought a chessboard, an inlaid mahogany slate with tournament-caliber playing pieces. The purchase was impulsive, and a nostalgic salute to my adolescent fervor for the royal game – along with an attempt to motivate myself back to regular play. While the latter never transpired, recently I came […]

Have a burger and some baseball, President Nixon!

1969: President Richard Nixon throwing out the first pitch at a Washington Senators game. (Click to enlarge. Photo by Walter K. Leffler, donated to the Library of Congress and released for unconditional use in public domain).

Some time ago, a friend from South Portland sent me a collection of historical political articles. One of the pieces included a 1983 interview with President Richard Nixon. It reminded me of Watergate’s disgrace, but also of overshadowed deeds, to include opening China to the West, exiting Vietnam, signing the first arms control treaty with the […]

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 […]