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On Nixon’s 100th Birthday: Charisma Had Nothing To Do With It

I’ve never been one of those charisma nuts …. I think one of the curses of the modern television age is that it puts far too much attention on appearance…

Beginning the New Year With Memories of Ravi Shankar

Many might ask why re-release Raga now [2010]? The answer is simple: it was a very special period of my life. —Ravi Shankar (1920-2012) The 1960s without Ravi Shankar, who…

Before the Beatles There Was Sam Weller: Concluding The Year of Dickens and England

You read me Shakespeare on the  rolling Thames,  That old river poet that never, ever ends – Kate Bush “The new year belongs to England” is how I began the…

Andrew Solomon’s Timely, Timeless Book: Embattled Families and the Work of Love

“I am glad I had kids and glad I had the kids I did,” says Sue Klebold, the mother of Columbine killer Dylan Klebold, “because the love for them — even…

On Flaubert’s Birthday, Brubeck Makes the Stars Shout, Flaubert Makes Them Weep

The word is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out melodies for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will move the stars. —Gustave…

A Holiday’s Holiday: The Beatles’ Magical But Embattled Tour Is Reborn in Blu-Ray

If you think of “holiday” as an enhanced departure from routine, the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour (Apple Blu-Ray DVD) qualifies as the ultimate holiday movie, in spite of what happened…

At Play With C.K. Williams: A Shape-Shifter Breaks for the Goal

For the long hard slog through the eight years of the Bush presidency, it helped to have Paul Krugman’s Op Ed columns in the New York Times, and Frank Rich’s…

Investing in “Breaking Bad” — A Matter of Life and Death

I believe in Walter White, his family and his friends. They aren’t just objects of interest and curiosity and occasional sympathy …. I actually care deeply about whether they live…

Shelter from the Storm: Shakespeare, Mary Shelley’s Creature, and A Song from Sandy

“The season [June 1816] was cold and rainy, and in the evenings we crowded around a blazing wood fire and occasionally amused ourselves with some German stories of ghosts,” writes…

“John Keats Still Writes Poetry”: The Birthday Poet and Princeton’s Prodigious Encyclopedia

A Poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence …. —John Keats in letter, Oct 27, 1818 Finally I’ve found an occasion worthy of a column on The…