Saturday, January 31, 2015

Re-Branded



Earlier this week, Andrew Sullivan announced to his readers that he would soon be ending his blog. There was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth from the audience, and now Sullivan is reconsidering (or, to be more precise, is looking into the idea of having the blog continue without him at the helm, instead run by a team of people).  One need look no further than RogerEbert.com to see how something like this might play out, what with the film critic's web site continuing to publish the reviews of others after he passed away almost two years ago.

In truth, I am uneasy about such things. It can be argued that Ebert's web site has been a success since his death. Admittedly, I periodically check its reviews, and sometimes happen across a reviewer who I likely never would have heard of otherwise. That's what Ebert was wanting, I think -- both to keep film criticism alive, and to nurture a new crop of reviewers, giving them the needed exposure. It's not the same, of course, going from a repository of one man's opinions to that of many but, yes, it might be working.

The situation with Andrew Sullivan is similar to that of Ebert's, though Sullivan is thankfully very much alive and with us. When a web site has been known for so long for the being the voice of one person -- his thoughts, opinions and feelings -- is it possible to shift it over (successfully) to being representative of many voices? Granted, he's had others contribute to the blog over the years, but predominantly when he was on vacation or otherwise indisposed. Readers knew that Sullivan would be coming back. How about now?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Top 10 Songs of 2014



I'm going to be honest. As far as recent years are concerned, 2012 was my favorite for doing these Top 10 Best Songs lists. I still listen to that playlist. Such great music. 2014 did have its moments, however, and here they are. Oddly enough, of my top ten favorite songs from last year, the list contains two by dead people. Remember: they just have to have been released in 2014, not necessarily recorded in 2014.

Without further adieu...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The House As a Home



I happened across the listing by chance, as one so often does when perusing the internet. Curiously enough, I am familiar with both the house and the listing agent, the house having once belonged to a friend's family, and the listing agent being an old school chum. But it's the house that grabbed me. It's the house that, frankly, tugs at my heart strings.

315 S. Garfield Ave. in Champaign, Illinois is, in many respects, a house like any other. Cape code-style, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, located on a nice, quiet street (I promise I'm not attempting to do an ad for it). So, yes, a fairly typical middle-class home in the midwest. What makes this abode special (to me) is its history. Here resided my good friend Derrick and his parents Ike and Linda. Here, dear reader, I spent many happy moments of my youth.

Friday, January 9, 2015

An Unsuitable Way to Die



There was a bit of stir this past week as a Dr. Richard Smith opined that dying from cancer is probably -- to his mind, anyway -- the best way to go. There was, of course, much indignation expressed at such a point of view. Folks have felt the need to redress Dr. Smith by recounting how awful cancer is to experience and deal with (be it personally or as a caretaker). They are, of course, correct in their assessment: cancer is an awful, terrible disease.

For reference, here is a quote from Dr. Smith about why he finds cancer preferable to more sudden forms of demise:

"So death from cancer is the best ... You can say goodbye, reflect on your life, leave last messages, perhaps visit special places for a last time, listen to favourite pieces of music, read loved poems, and prepare, according to your beliefs, to meet your maker or enjoy eternal oblivion.
"This is, I recognise, a romantic view of dying, but it is achievable with love, morphine, and whisky.

There it is. Oddly, I'm not as outraged by the opinion of Dr. Smith as others seem to be. We're all entitled to our opinions, and there's no skating around the fact of what a dreadful experience cancer can be, yet.... if we're to be honest with ourselves.... haven't we all, at one time or another, thought about how we'd like to go?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tapestry



A friend's new profile photo appeared on my Facebook feed, a friend I've known since the late-1990s. Honestly, my first reaction was, "He's aged a bit." But then, looking back at the photo a moment longer, I thought, "He's actually still as beautiful as I thought he was almost two decades ago." And the beauty isn't just a remark on the physicality. It's an observance of the person, of the soul. Imperfect? Yes. But still beautiful.

Ageing is an odd thing. It's been hard to escape the markers of feeling older because of the evolving physical landscape of places one once knew. The site of the hospital where I was born now sustains an apartment high-rise. Where once I knew fields at the edge of town, there is now a thriving shopping area with residences and, possibly, a new high school on the horizon. Many favorite shops and restaurants have come and gone over the years.

The changing of insentient things during the passage of time is one way to mark age, though I'm also reaching a point where it's now people who are helping notate the progression of age. My friends and I are older. Some are even dead. All this before (most of us) have turned 40. It's a good reminder of the companion (or predator, depending on how you look at it) that we refer to as time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yesterday's Restaurants



The local newspaper has a feature from one of Champaign-Urbana's most legendary restaurateur's, John Katsinas, on what his favorite area restaurants were that have now since closed (or will soon be closing).  It's a nice little read, and has made me stop and think about the restaurants that have come and gone that have left an indelible (and edible) impression on me throughout the years.

Here we go....

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Visits with Lewis



I had the dream again last night.

There are, perhaps, two-to-three dreams about my father that are played on regular rotation throughout the year. My mind selects them (for what reasons I do not know) every 6 months or so. Last night saw the return of the 'Old Lewis' dream, as I like to call it. The events play-out in fairly similar fashion each time: dad is still alive, older (the age he'd be today), and I visit with him for a few days at a time. They seem pretty realistic in the light of day, save for the fact that Lewis is, in reality, dead.

It's odd, but the dreams are set in present day, with me being a 38-year-old adult, however they almost always have me leaving mom's house, waving goodbye to her like some overly-excited schoolboy, as I depart for dad's house for the next few days. It's like the visits with dad I had in my teens, except I wasn't too happy about those at the time.