Act

I have been watching the riveting and thoughtful documentary series, The Last Movie Stars – that chronicles the life and legacy of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

Before they were married, Newman and Woodward studied together at the Actors Studio, alongside contemporaries Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.

The first episode shares their experience in the studio. A cast of current actors, including Ethan Hawke who directs the documentary, recite The Actor’s Vow.…


Progress

Understandably, we can be prone to seeing and focusing on the problems around us. I myself have succumbed to this bias of problems over solutions with some regularity. Anyone who follows the daily news might fall in the same sinking boat. After all, we’ve grown up in an era of “if it bleeds it leads.” Even my former literary agent once told me that books about problems sell better than those that offer solutions.…


Take

Last week while walking my dog, I noticed what I thought was one of those awesome free standing “Lending Library” kiosks.

However as I approached, I saw that this one did not include a single book. Rather, it was filled with canned goods and other non-perishable food items. The sign at the top read, “Take What You Need.”

The presence of such a structure was both a sign of our difficult economic times and a refreshing public display of community kindness.…


Break

I could use a break. Perhaps you could too.

Inflation, gas prices, a heat wave, divisive politics, and a pandemic that just won’t go away have made the last few months borderline unbearable.

This is to say nothing of what individual stressors we all might feel.

The summer is by definition supposed to be “a break.” Although that seems to apply more readily to students than the rest of us.…


Headache

I have a headache. The precise location of the pain is above my left temple. The temple is particularly vulnerable as it is the place where the four bones of your skull fuse together.

The name temple is somewhat ironic. In ancient times dating back thousands of years, it was believed that headaches were caused by evil spirits.

In order to give them a physical route to leave the “temple” they would drill a hole in the skull. …


See

Marcel Proust once wrote, “The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is…”

He is writing about the role artists play in society in a chapter perhaps appropriately named, The Prisoner.


Citizen

As July 4th approached, I was reflecting on the state of our country. JFK’s famous exhortation from his inaugural address, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for our country,” popped into my mind.

In lieu of recent events, one could look at the first part of that quote and conclude that what little we have asked for from our country has been denied.…


Pride

The end of the school year usually engenders a decent amount of pride.

In my home, there were wonderful report cards, end of year concerts and successful soccer seasons. Two of my kids “moved up” – one entering high school and our youngest leaving elementary school.

Beyond the general achievements, each gave us reasons to feel particularly proud.

Our youngest was sad to leave the innocence and safety of elementary school.…


Found

How many times have you lost your keys? Hopefully around the same number of times you’ve found them.

Of course, there are many things we lose and can never find again. Or we find things we were never looking for in the first place.

Our deepest losses are of loved ones. As are our most precious finds. 

Our relationship to the ideas of what is lost and found tends to be somewhat transactional.…


Graduating

Last year, I was honored to deliver the commencement address at my alma mater, Penn State.  It was held in Beaver Stadium, where over 100,000 fans stream in each Saturday during football season.

The students graduating that day would go out into an uncertain world.  A pandemic still wore on, the country and specifically their state was deeply divided.  

Yet they were graduating with a college degree and into a strong job market.…


Golf

Each year, I play anywhere between 4-8 rounds of golf. The infrequency of my play is presumably a key contributor to the lack of improvement of my game.

I have over my life taken golf shots that defy the laws of physics. Balls careening in directions and angles that I could not replicate if I tried (including once where the ball went backwards.) I have hit trees, water and even golf carts with an almost impressive frequency.…


More

I knew what I wanted to write about on Tuesday. I am still not sure what I have to say.

Speechless and helpless are two natural reactions when the same thing happens over and over again and you are at a loss for what to do about it.

If you read the number 19,  you know exactly what I’m talking about.  But let us not forget the two – teachers who died in the line of fire.…


Ride

It was an especially hectic weekend. On top of the standard travel soccer chaos, there was also a band/chorus concert and tech week for one of my daughter’s theater groups.  All of this was compounded by the fact that my wife was away on a well-deserved, but ill-timed, girls’ weekend. I was flying solo.

We had managed the first three days quite well, due in large part to some good planning and even better temperament from my three daughters. A…


Promise

Over the last week, I attended concerts for two of my children. Both are in band, one is also in chorus. In an auditorium packed with proud parents, I doubt that I was alone in marveling at how these 12 and 14 year olds had become such accomplished musicians. They had surpassed my own musicality years ago.

Similarly as I watch all three of my children on the soccer pitch, I must acknowledge that they shortly will become more skilled at their sports than I ever was at mine.…


Sides

I have heard Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” dozens of times, but until recently I never actually listened to it.

On Sunday, I watched the wonderful and moving film, CODA, where it plays a central role. Ruby, the sole hearing member of her deaf family, chooses it as her audition song for admission into the Berklee School of Music.

The desire to go to college is not shared by her family, who don’t appreciate their daughter’s love of music and fear the effects her leaving would have on the family’s fishing business.…


Fame

Spiderman came to Hastings this week. More specifically, Tom Holland was in my town shooting a new anthology series for Apple TV.  Throngs of kids lined up in a marked off area to catch a glimpse of him. When he finally arrived, clad in period 70’s garb, they screamed.  Calling out his name, filming his every move, clamoring for him to come by and say hello – which to his credit he did.…


Upgrade

My family and I recently went to Los Angeles for spring break. I wasn’t able to select our seats in advance to ensure that all five of us could sit together unless I was prepared to upgrade our seats.

Later in the trip, we went to the Universal Studios theme park. The tickets were not cheap, $125 each. Yet when we arrived we found extremely long lines.…


Soccer

I coach all three of my daughters’ travel soccer teams. Between practices and games, I will spend almost twenty hours a week on a soccer field. This doesn’t include traveling to and from games or any of the administrative headaches that come with the gig.

It can be very stressful getting kids ready, out the door and on time. Each team has had their share of growing pains.…


Savor

My friend recently told me the story about a lunch he had with another friend of ours. They were getting together at an old stomping ground where we had all had lunch dozens of times before. The circumstances this time were different.

Our friend had terminal cancer, was very weak, and it was clear that this would be their last lunch together. Eating his burger took longer than usual and the waitress seemed to hover a bit.…


Aphasia

I was startled when I learned that Bruce Willis was stepping back from acting due to his recent aphasia diagnosis. This New York Times article headline describes this affliction as “stealing your ability to communicate.”

My reaction was informed by my own experience with aphasia over a decade ago. Shortly after the birth of our first child, I found myself, on occasion, saying a word I didn’t intend to.…


Belief

What or who do you believe in?

Beliefs can be a tricky thing. We all have them, in fact hold them dearly. Yet seldom do we explicitly state or share them. More often, beneath the surface, they inform, influence or dictate many of our actions.

Beliefs, according to the Oxford dictionary, can be defined in two ways:
One is “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.”…


Funk

Have you ever been in a funk? Assuming the answer is yes, how did it feel? More importantly, how did it end?

As I write this, I find myself in the middle of one.

For me, funks are episodic. Sometimes lasting a few hours, sometimes a few days. Rarely much more.

Different from true crises, which force us to focus all our energy to resolve a single pressing problem, funks are often a collection of smaller issues.…


Observe

This week as part of an Earth Science’s assignment, my daughter has to go outside and observe the phases of the moon. Once she’s found it in the night sky, she is to draw what she’s seen. Over time, she is expected to see the various waxing and waning phases and presumably draw some conclusions.

On a few occasions, she’s asked me to go outside and see the moon with her, which we’ve thoroughly enjoyed.…


Anything

My last cycle of REM sleep often occurs just before I wake. It is during this time that your brain processes emotions and emotional memories. It is also when we dream. Lately, it seems as if the emotions I’m processing range from mildly troubling to deeply disturbing. As I often remember my dreams, this can lead to an unsettling start to my day.

As it was this morning.…


Chairs

It is a common misconception that Thoreau was a hermit. That when he went to “live deliberately and confront only the essentials of life” it was an act of seclusion.

His choice of furniture and its reported use is a direct contradiction of this.

Among the few possessions in the tiny cabin on Walden Pond, were three chairs. He said one was for solitude, two for friendship and three for society.…