Pelé, RIP

I’m not much of a sports fan, and haven’t been for awhile, but as a kid in the 70s, I had three sports idols. One of them was Reggie Jackson. The second was Muhammad Ali. The third, my personal favorite, passed away yesterday: Pelé, aka, Edson Arantes do Nascimento. I can’t equal the poetic eulogy published for him yesterday by the Brazilian writer José Miguel Wisnik, and won’t try. I’ll simply echo Wisnik’s sentiments: Continue reading

How to Keep Christ in Christmas: A Parable

A couple of weeks ago, during Advent, I decided to do something ostensibly “nice” for myself. I decided that it was time, despite my newly-found vocation as a perpetually depressed and isolated widower, to get out and do something enjoyable for a change. Music is something I enjoy, and so, I reasoned, I ought to get out and see a musical performance. In grad school at Notre Dame, I made it a habit each week on Sunday afternoons to watch a classical performance that took place right by the library where I did my studies. “Right by the library” literally meant a few paces from the library, so while the concert took place in the middle of the afternoon–premium study time–I couldn’t easily appeal to transit costs as an excuse for not going. Continue reading

Three Passings, Three Losses

Sometimes people you come to know in passing leave a more-than-passing memory. Three such people have recently passed away in quick succession, and I wanted to mark their passings. 

Many readers of this blog may know, or know of, Chris Sciabarra, The Famous Dialectical Libertarian of Brooklyn, but far fewer have had the privilege, as I have, of meeting his late sister Elizabeth (1952-2022). To the best of my memory, I met her only twice; it may in fact only have been once, but she was the kind of person who would have left a double impression from a single encounter. Continue reading

Christine McVie (1943-2022), RIP

I can’t react to the death of Christine McVie without at the same time re-living the death of my wife Alison Bowles, who lived and breathed the music of Fleetwood Mac. That’s something I’d rather not do, at least in public, so I’ll leave it at the thought that like just about everyone of my age and background, I grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac, and even at my most “metal,” couldn’t help liking them. It was through Alison that I came to love them, and through Alison’s death that their music has become a constant reminder of her, and a bittersweet fixture in my psyche. Here’s my favorite one of McVie’s songs, which manages, at least for me, to conjure up the ghosts of childhood wonder, and with it, the evanescence of adult happiness. That’s probably not what she intended when she wrote it, but eventually, the creations of a great artist take on a life of their own.

Life Imitates Art

The 2002 film “John Q” begins with a scene in which a reckless driver dies, clearly at fault, in a horrific car wreck. Her organs, including her heart, are “harvested” or “recovered,” depending on your preferred choice of medical terminology, for purposes of organ donation. That organ recovery drives the plot of the rest of the film, which involves–somewhat heavy-handedly–the transplant of that very heart into a totally unrelated person dying of heart disease. In short, one person’s recklessness becomes her tragic demise; that tragedy becomes another person’s salvation.

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A Birthday Thank-You to My Mother

Today would have been my mother’s 96th birthday.  (She died at 91.)

The other day, while indulging in my usual frustration over how my college students are so often ignorant of so many things that I was familiar with well before high school, it occurred to me that a substantial portion of those things were material I learned not in school or even through my own reading, but from my mother – not in any didactic setting, but informally.  For example, I first learned about Versailles and Pompeii through my mother’s recollections of her own school projects on those topics; the mnemonic “SPA” (to recall the chronological order of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle) she likewise recalled from her school days.

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