The Devil and Tom Petty

This week as I hid behind my laptop from the dangers of the world I became interested again in one of Tom Petty’s songs, “Spike,” which I have listened to many times before. There are probably a dozen live versions on YouTube (Songkick says Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played 1,123 concerts, which sounds low), […]

Reach Out and—Text Somebody?

Nothing dates you faster than the lineage of your communications devices. One of my best childhood presents was a toy switchboard: I sat for hours, plugging in different lines and feeling the rush of power as they lit up, connecting people. To this day, my favorite quote is E.M. Forster’s direction for life: “Only connect.” […]

The New Who: The Marvelous Mrs. Parks

Doctor Who, “Rosa” Series 11, Episode 3 Written by Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall. Directed by Mark Tonderai. Starring Jodie Whittaker, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill, and Bradley Walsh. Guest Starring Vinette Robinson, Joshua Bowman, and Trevor White. Original Broadcast 21 October 2018 (49 minutes)     Everything you have heard about “Rosa,” the brilliant third […]

Living Color

As I write this, people are gathering wood for the bonfire. When it whooshes alight, they will sing and dance and pray away the evil inside them, and tomorrow, the festival of Holi will begin. Of all the rituals in the world, this is the one I would most love to appropriate. Colors mist the […]

Blind Dates and Naked Mole Rats

Reading about the courtship patterns of naked mole rats started me thinking about our own species. There are such similarities. Granted, naked mole rats are, by our standards, a little old-fashioned: They work hard, digging tunnels with buck teeth we would find adorable on a cheerleader, and they live at home well into adulthood, helping […]

Stolen Words

I would love to speak a thousand languages, mainly just to capture all those words that leave English speechless. If we cannot say it, can we think it? I know we can still feel it—look how often we wave our hands about, trying to find the right words. To “gloss” something is to explain or […]

Cloud Cover

I should have worn a trench coat to the stormspotting seminar; I was there under deep cover. No way was I ever going to be sufficiently observant, grounded, and methodical to be of use to the National Weather Service. Nope, I just wanted to learn about clouds. In my carefree youth (I am not sure […]

What Makes a House a Home

Writing from time to time for what the media calls “shelter” publications, you catch yourself wondering about the difference between a set of sterile, starkly beautiful rooms and a place that is just as beautiful, but also warm and homey. It should be obvious to say “lived-in,” but some homeowners (schooled by their interior designers […]

Staying in Our Own Lanes

At a YMCA pool, a young man, broad-shouldered and easy on the eyes, seems engrossed in conversation with a woman in her early seventies, her hair gray-blond and frizzy, her figure matronly. As I slip into the water, I hear them talking with mutual sympathy about lousy jobs, laughing, trading stories. Then she begins to […]

The Sloth and the Genius

    A sloth’s digestive system can work for almost two months to break down a single trumpet-tree leaf.   • • •   Leonardo da Vinci learned at race speed, gulping down physics, arithmetic, philosophy, astronomy, anatomy, medicine, literature, languages, and art history as though someone were holding a stopwatch. Self-taught, he cheerfully admitted […]