May 24, 2009 |
In a National Public Radio essay nearly three years ago, I pondered the lack of a word for parents whose child has died. I remember I said it must be a quiet word, like our grief, but clear in its claim. I recalled the word that Lady Bird Johnson wanted no part of when her husband, President Lyndon B. Johnson, died - widow, related to a Sanskrit word meaning "empty. " She was not empty, she asserted. She was grieving. But at least she had a word to resist. On this Memorial Day, when we remember those who have died in war, we are still without a word that identifies their survivors' loss.
July 12, 2005
WHAT WOULD possess our scientists to blow up a comet? NASA has successfully blown a hole through a comet hovering some 80 million miles from Earth. When you think about it, 80 million miles isn't very far in comparison to the size of our universe. To quote NASA's scientists, "We want to see what's inside the comet because it may give us more insight on how the universe came into existence. " That sounds like a risky long shot. Blowing up a comet is not a good way of studying how the universe came into existence.
March 21, 1987
If women have the early advantage in the war between the sexes, men do better in the middle years. They don't get stretch marks or develop cellulite, nor do they feel compelled to battle ceaselessly against bulging waistlines. Men's wrinkles are considered signs of character, while women's wrinkles are considered wrinkles. Perhaps in recognition of this lack of parity, men were given a special curse of their own - baldness. Undisguisable and irremediable, it has a powerful humbling effect, reminding men that their youth has passed.
February 15, 1999 |
Thousands of years ago, when cave-dwelling families clustered around glowing fires, they could see that life had a natural order: Young adults did most of the hunting and gathering for food. Lots of children scampered around. And a few old gray heads helped watch over the babies. That's the order most people still want to see, with the family focused on parents and children. Grandparents and elderly aunts and uncles are in the picture, but toward the edges. But as we move into the 21st century, that "natural" order will be overturned in industrialized countries, where the elderly soon will outnumber the children.
January 27, 1990 |
In all the excitement over the changes in Eastern Europe, I didn't pay much attention to commentators who warned that ending the grim stability of the Cold War could make the world dangerously unpredictable. Then Mikhail Gorbachev appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair. That one stopped me. Before all of this turmoil, you could count on the cover of Vanity Fair for straight celebrity flash: Daryl Hannah, for instance, or Kevin Costner or Bruce Willis or Jessica Lange or, it almost goes without saying, Michael Jackson.
July 11, 1986 |
Allen Ackerman is a Chicago criminal lawyer. In his long career, he has skillfully defended drug pushers, killers, thieves, motorcycle gangs, and villains of almost every felonious persuasion. You would think that a guy like that would have developed a flinty heart and a calloused soul. But that's not the case. Ackerman, it turns out, has a soft, sentimental side. This is revealed in a letter he sent me about his reaction to a funeral he recently attended. The funeral was for a former client, Michael Spilotro, who was bumped off recently with his brother, Tony.
April 21, 2011
A division turned upside down And the last shall be first . . . for now, anyway, in the AL's Central Division, where the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals are off to surprising starts. The Indians, who finished 69-93 a season ago, 25 games behind division winner Minnesota, sit atop the AL Central with a 13-5 record, two games ahead of the 11-7 Royals, who finished dead last at 67-95, 27 games out, in 2010. Conversely, preseason favorites Minnesota and Chicago are down at the bottom of the division after slow starts, brought about at least in part by some key injuries.
June 26, 2009 |
It's not that the art of glassblowing doesn't get any respect. It's just that it never hurts to remind people that even if it's a bowl or an ashtray, it's still art. This explains why Emily Kimelman Gilvey and her husband, Sean, had planned to turn their Hudson Beach Glass studio into a small gallery ever since it opened in October. They wanted to show paintings and photography as well as exhibit their own line of glassware and others. "We're a small, family business that's making something," said Gilvey, a photographer turned mystery writer.
April 23, 1991 |
If you are disgusted by dung, miffed by manure, offended by offal, please move on to the next story. Because this one is full of it. But if you want to know about a business that has grown dramatically simply by relying on the natural order of things - the natural order, in this case, being that dogs (1) eat and (2) expel, often on lawns - then you're reading the right page. Meet Dr. Poop. "That's what they call me," said Michelle MacLaren. "When I go to a client's house, the kids come out with cookies and say, "Hi, Dr. Poop.
September 9, 2005 |
They make a cute couple, Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman. Living together on a big ranch nestled in the valley of some Wyoming mountains, old Einar Gilkyson (Redford) and old Mitch Bradley (Freeman) pass the evenings playing cribbage and jawing about the weather. In the morning, Einar - a cattle rancher who has sold his cows, except for the few he keeps for milk - comes in and gives Mitch his morphine, and helps him shave. A couple of years back a bear wandered onto the property and made a lunch snack of Mitch - he's maimed, and in pain, and on crutches now. If the relationship between Redford's and Freeman's characters in the pile-it-on melodrama An Unfinished Life bears more than a passing resemblance to that of Clint Eastwood's and Freeman's in Million Dollar Baby (which was actually made after this)