A Happy New Year Gift From Antonin Dvořák


It has become tradition
in this space to offer up a musical selection that fits the tenor of this day. Three years ago (or was it 300?) we highlighted  the 4th Movement to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as a way of ushering in the New Year with, shall we say, a bang, not a whimper. (Apologies to T.S. Eliot on that line!)

So today, looking forward to a presidential inauguration, an end to this damn pandemic (let us pray in the manner we see fit…), and just, by golly, another year in which we are still breathing and able to reach out to our fellow human beings traveling along with us on this not-so-long and vexing, though still, let us not forget, often joyous road, I figured, “How about another scintillating 4th movement of an orchestral classic?!” 

And just like that, here appeared Mr...

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Eighth Annual Holiday Photo Gallery

Once a year during the holiday season, we turn more into a photo rather than word blog, with the objective being nothing more than the pure pleasure of beholding striking images that tell a story, tickle our funnybone, raise a goosebump or a question, shake our grasp or deepen our take on reality, or otherwise address our endless curiosity about the world beyond our own skin.

So, without further ado or yapping from here, let us proceed to the pictures!

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Peaches and Dan by Larry Rose. In case you were wondering, “Peaches” is the one on the left…

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Surf’s Up! by Magdalena Roeseler. Wave, Camera, Action!

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Praying Mantis by Rosie Kerr. Seems it’s trying to sell us something, but what it might be?

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Cave Opening by Kiwi Thompson. It may require seemingly endless trudging, but look what awaits!

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Sprouted! by Manuel Schinner. The space between the big and second toe is called a “sandal gap,” but...

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Can the Commons Be Saved?

What binds us together as Americans? It’s a question weighing heavily on the nation’s collective psyche as we enter winter and a holiday season unlike any other in anyone’s memory.

Through most of 2020, we’ve been enduring our own Twin Towers of catastrophe—a deadly pandemic that has altered most every aspect of our lives, and a calamitous presidential election, around which the incessant vituperation of the campaign has become even worse in its aftermath, and far more malignant for our democracy than anyone had previously been able to imagine.

Grievance and distrust are the coins of that realm, and once they start replicating like the viruses they are, the organism can be a long time healing.

Politically, we seem no longer to regard our opponents as simply wrong-headed or misinformed, but as soul-soiled, with evil intentions...

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Brilliant Songs #18: “The Parting Glass” (Celtic Traditional)

We are awash in babies here in our little corner of Durham, the bulk of them hovering, for this precious and brief stage, around the pre-walking and just-walking ages of 10 to 12 months or so. Hoisting themselves up by the side of their wagons or with a parent’s extended fingers, bouncy and jovial, taking a halting drunken step or two before plopping down on their diapered tushes.

Working to regain their footing as we come around the corner with our dog at the end of the leash, they stand and point and break into wide grins while uttering little “Uh, ooh, uh-uh-uh” sounds, all bouncedy-bounce, immensely pleased with the sheer fact of living and watching and exploring their ever-expanding world.

Portraits of innocence and pure being, sharing, in some ways, more in common with their peers of other species, be they lamb or kitten, puppy or chimp, than with the elders of their own, nicked and coarsened as thos...

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Joe Biden Won! So Why Do I Feel So Bad?

We have lost—all of us. The whole country, everyone. Conservatives, liberals, libertarians, Tea Partiers, Antifa, you name it. No one has truly escaped the chaos, rivenness and rancor that abides after a relentless, four-year tsunami of invective and incompetence from on high.

All of us are dragged down and worse for the experience—even those who convince themselves otherwise, whose adoption of a near religious devotion to a cult leader defies rationality and the actual religion many of them claim to live by.

If they’re alive at all, that is. Upwards of 281,000 of us aren’t anymore, courtesy of a willfully, colossally mismanaged pandemic in which partisan politics was the sole consideration in the executive branch’s response.

We had heard incessantly that a swamp would be drained, and instead we are chest-high in mud, tangled in kelp, our breathing labored, our vision obscured, the horizon barely a...

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