Yearly Archives 2022

Ten Years of Blogging: A Retrospective

Ten years ago today, I hit the little blue “Publish” button that sits off to the side of my composing page here on the WordPress blogging platform. I’d actually finished most all final preparations on a long day’s Christmas Eve, keeping my designer/technical person on the phone an unconscionably long time from across the country as we worked through countless—and, of course inevitable—last-minute glitches and tidy-ups. (Thanks, Randall!)

Then I waited till after the holiday to post it. I figured it would only irritate potential readers to debut a blog requiring their attention in direct competition with the celebration of a messiah figure’s birthday that is tended to heavily by billions of people around the world.

That post on December 27, 2012 ran a lengthy 2,336 words in what was essentially a literary review of the novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson’s life work...

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“For Unto Us, a Child Is Born”: Handel’s “Messiah” Universalized

It’s a by now familiar state of, if not  bliss, then at least deep contentment: listening to “Messiah,” first performed 280 years ago and ever since performed by one orchestra and choral group or another around the world whose members raise their voices to the celestial vision George Frideric Handel was setting to music from the words of the King James Bible as rendered by his librettist and friend Charles Jennens.

I’ve heard the work live probably 10 times, sung along with it (gamely!) several more when performances presented that option to audience members, and listened/sung with recordings countless more.

And so it was again earlier this month at the annual kickoff to the Christmas season at Duke University Chapel.

So identified with the oratorio is Handel that his last name is attached to the work almost inseparably in every performance or recording you’ll ever come across—never just the official ...

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Bodies in Motion: A Meditation

Sometimes, in the diffused light of dawn or dusk, or on foggy streets where almost indiscernible shapes begin to reveal themselves as a human being or two in motion, I will peer a little closer, catch a certain swing of arm, quickened cadence, bounce of head or forward bend and know instantly, “There’s Gene!” (Or Karen or Kate or Kelly.)

Our bodies in motion are akin to signatures, indelible gestures that mark and follow us throughout life. All our intimates (excepting the visually impaired) can spot us from the proverbial mile away.

But those signatures do share something profound in common: how badly, with what relentless intensity, our bodies seek to scrawl them across the firmament.

When he sold his camera equipment last summer, it was evident he was heading for a crossroads, the bitch of it being that none of those roads ahead had much of anything to offer him.

We commence this effort from the first m...

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Battered, Bruised, and…Resilient? The U.S. Constitution’s Very Good Year

Given the overt, in-its-face and over-the-ramparts challenges the Constitution of the United States faced from January 6 onwards, any pundits envisioning a positive year for it would likely have been jeered right off their microphone or desk chair.

But perhaps we should look at this through an entirely different lens. Or perhaps, given the events of recent months, we might finally be able to do so.

It’s not that the Constitution wasn’t put under severe stress and strain in 2022 (and for several years before that, actually). After all, it doesn’t get much more overt than a full-scale, violent assault on the U.S Capitol with the intent to overturn our most sacred ritual of free and fair elections.

More overt still: a direct call last week from the recently deposed president to simply do away with the Constitution and all other “rules, regulations and articles” that might prevent him from being reinst...

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Call of the Wild (Within): Carl Sandburg’s “Wilderness”

Grrrrrrrowwwwwwwlllllllllroarrrrrrrrrrr!!!! The wildness echoes through prairies and canyons, carries over hillsides and frozen peaks, through churning waters that send chills down spines as it reverberates to the very ground of being and splays out an inherent threat to destroy all in its path.

Loosed from any chains of decorum and constraint, it is capable of cold remorseless cruelty, impervious to the call of conscience and mercy, subject only to its primitive need for survival, sustenance and the dominance its genetic coding compels it to maintain.

It is wolf, it is fox, it is hog and fish and baboon and eagle.

And as plain-spoken American poet Carl Sandburg suggests in his seminal, heavily anthologized poem, “Wilderness,” it is also us.

Nicely clothed, carefully coiffed, artificially scented and politely mannered humans, kin to creatures large and small, in something less than full possession of a la...

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