Month: January 2013

Academy Awards Here We Come (Again)

Last year I broke a 57-year-old tradition and decided to see all the films nominated in  the Academy Awards Best Picture category.  We had a blast, updating More to Come… when I thought we’d seen the winner, as well as on the night of the awards. This year, Candice and I are back at it again. We thought we had an early start. Over the summer and fall we went to a couple of movies that, to our eye, had Best Picture possibilities.  We both loved The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom. Shows what we know. But we quickly hit our stride, and after tonight’s viewing of Beasts of the Southern Wild at AFI Silver Theatre, we’ve now seen four of the nine Best Picture nominees. Since it is our most recent viewing, I’ll just say that Beasts of the Southern Wild is an interesting film, but best picture quality…ummm, I don’t think so.  And I’m sorry, but Quvenzhané Wallis did not deserve a nomination above Maggie Smith in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. …

Standing on Shoulders While Looking to the Future

Every four years, when the country gathers to inaugurate a president, some of the nation’s most historic buildings take center stage. From the Benjamin Latrobe-designed St. John’s Church where the First Family attends a morning service, to the White House where the President meets with his successor or the leaders of Congress, to the U.S. Capitol where the Chief Executive takes the oath of office under a magnificent dome largely completed during the darkest days of the Civil War—our nation’s peaceful transfer of power occurs in and around stately buildings that are cherished witnesses to history. And the inauguration ceremonies end the following morning at yet another historic building – Washington National Cathedral – where the nation’s secular and religious leaders gather for the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service. I have attended many different services and ceremonies beneath the Cathedral’s soaring vaults. I remember Evensong services in the great choir where I heard young trebles sing a Pie Jesu that lifted the congregants—all twenty of them—to another level of grace. The sanctuary worked surprisingly well as …

R.I.P. The Earl of Baltimore and Stan the Man

Baseball lost two members of the Hall of Fame this past weekend:  Earl Weaver and Stan Musial. There’s much that could – and has – been written about these two baseball greats.  I’ve linked to Joe Posnanski’s blogs above, but I could just as easily have sent you to read Tom Boswell’s column on The Earl of Baltimore or George Vecsey on Stan the Man. I won’t go on about Weaver’s baseball genius – decades before Moneyball made his theories all the rage – or Musial’s quiet consistency – to the point where he was widely considered to be the best ballplayer of the postwar decade. No, I’m going to focus on their nicknames. Baseball has the best nicknames. Period.  In Why Is Baseball So Much Better Than Football, Boswell touches on the topic in multiple ways, but he sums it up here: Reason #85:  Baseball nicknames go on forever – because we feel we know so many player intimately.  Football monikers run out fast.  We just don’t know that many of them as people. Then …

Inaugurations: Here’s to the Optimists

Today is Inauguration Day 2013.  Cue the oh-so-tired Washingtonians. Here are some real quotes from my “Facebook Friends” (before I deleted my account last evening). “OMG, the tourists are clogging up the Metro.” “I’m not going, that’s oh so 2009.” “The return of the economic destroyer in chief” (this obviously from a disgruntled Republican who has rewritten history). “Limousine gridlock.” The newspapers also get into the act. “Experts” who see the world through their lens and no other, have all the answers for what ails President Obama, the political parties, or the country as the second term begins. Well, I refuse to play that Washington game.  I have a son and four of his college classmates down on the mall today, and they are excited to be a part of history. Andrew and another friend from Washington have spent the last four days touring one friend from California and one from Vermont all around the city – hitting the hip neighborhoods, going to Evensong at the National Cathedral, watching the changing of the guard at …

Farewell Facebook

Before the weekend is out, I will have deleted my Facebook account. I’ve contemplated this change for months.  It is time. Facebook has been great in making initial connections with people I haven’t seen for years.  However, I’ve moved quite a bit from how I felt about Facebook three years ago. I will miss hearing from certain friends from across the world. But the changes Facebook has made to their privacy, news feed, photo – you name it – policy have made this a very different platform than I signed up for.  I don’t like how Facebook now asks me, “How are you feeling, David?” Really?  None of your damn business, frankly. In the end, it is more important that I be present in the moment. I’m not going to write a long list of reasons why I’m saying farewell to Facebook.  There are enough of those online, like here, here, and here. And I’m not leaving the online world.  Many of you know how to reach me at work or home via email (and …

Guitar: An American Life

“You start off playing guitar to get chicks and end up talking with middle-aged men about your fingernails.” This is just one of the dozens of truisms, cogent observations, and laugh-out-loud lines found in Tim Brookes’ 2005 Guitar: An American Life. Candice gave me the book for Christmas, and though I finished it shortly after New Year’s Day, I’ve only now found the time to say how much I enjoyed this “part history, part love song” to the guitar. I learned of the book last summer when I met Rick Davis, the builder of my two Running Dog guitars. Rick – along with a new guitar he built for author Tim Brookes – are featured in Guitar. After baggage handlers broke his Fylde guitar, Brookes turned to Davis to build him a new one.  In alternating chapters Brookes chronicles the building process while taking the reader through an idiosyncratic yet compelling history of the guitar. Since the book has been around for a few years, it is easy to find good book reviews online. I’ll content myself …