Friday, August 29, 2014

Once again I am a PAID radio announcer - Thanks, Marty!

Two years ago yesterday, this video was posted.

Yesterday I joined Marty and Samantha in the WORC-FM 98.9 studio in Worcester to record a Marty's of Dudley radio commercial. Marty intended to introduce me to Lance Ballance, Rick Brackett and Matt Ferguson, who might help me find work as a radio announcer.

Next thing you know, I was the ANNOUNCER in yesterday's ad. It will air Sept. 2 to announce Marty's fall specials. I left my (vocal work, not librarian) resume and a demo CD and hope this is the first of many opportunities.

I will post the audio here as soon as I can.

This was my first PAID (with hot dogs at Coney Island) radio work since my weekly "Critic At Large" spots on WGFP-AM 940 in the 1980s when I was paid actual money! Thanks, Marty!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"I am a US citizen and suddenly my Massachusetts ID isn’t good enough?"

Today's Boston Globe article explains why I went to our local Post Office today to pick up a passport application.

How shocking that you could - today - be denied entrance to a federal building because your ID is a legitimate Massachusetts Driver's License.

More shocking yet - in 2016 you could be denied boarding on an airplane with that license.

Why? "Bruce Tarr, the state Senate minority leader...a Republican, said" of "The Democratic Patrick administration. 'The only thing you could speculate is that somehow compliance with REAL ID would thwart the administration’s attempt to give driver’s licenses to those who aren’t here legally.'"

Mass. IDs at odds with federal law
Federal agencies blocking entry, citing compliance
By Jessica Meyers | GLOBE STAFF | AUGUST 26, 2014

WASHINGTON — Susan Podziba couldn’t enter a federal building near Washington this month because her driver’s license revealed an unacceptable home state: Massachusetts.

Caption: Susan Podziba was unable to attend an important meeting in Washington this week because she wasn’t able to enter the building.

Bay State residents can no longer use their driver’s licenses to get inside some government agencies because the state is one of nine that have not signed on to a federal law called REAL ID. If nothing changes, they will even lose the ability to display their licenses to board a plane.

The REAL ID measure presses states to verify citizenship and update security standards when they issue licenses. Congress intended the act to prevent terrorists who arrive in the country illegally from boarding planes. But officials in Massachusetts and elsewhere have balked at a program they contend costs millions, raises privacy concerns, and infringes on states’ rights.

States face no direct penalty other than the frustration of their citizens.

Some restrictions — such as the one that kept Podziba, a public policy mediator from Brookline, out of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — began in late July.

“It was bizarre, and then I really felt embarrassed,” Podziba said. “It was like wow, I am a US citizen and suddenly my Massachusetts ID isn’t good enough?”

She ended up conducting the high-level meeting in a cafeteria outside the security gate.

Governor Deval Patrick’s office referred questions to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Cyndi Roy Gonzalez, an agency spokeswoman, said the state has applied for an extension to give it enough time to meet the law’s requirements.

“DHS is asking the states to do something radically different with their licensing systems,” she said. “We want to make sure we do it right and do it well.”

She did not elaborate on the delay.

Massachusetts, in order to comply with the law, must meet a list of benchmarks when issuing licenses that include checking a person’s legal status, retaining images, and establishing background checks for employees with access to sensitive information. The standards aim to prevent fraud and enhance safety.

Homeland Security, which delayed enforcement of the 2005 law for years, started a gradual implementation in April. The second phase began in July. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have received extensions, and 21 are considered compliant. Three additional states haven’t made the changes but offer a special license people can display.

That leaves residents from six states unable to enter restricted parts of federal buildings without another ID, such as a passport. They are: Massachusetts, Maine, Oklahoma, Alaska, Arizona, and Louisiana.

Since the latest phase took effect July 21, it remains unclear how many people the change has affected or how many federal facilities are strictly enforcing it. The law varies in its effect; tourists may still go to Smithsonian museums without ID and defendants can attend court proceedings.

Caption: “It was like wow, I am a US citizen and suddenly my Massachusetts ID isn’t good enough?” said Susan Podziba. As of late July, Massachusetts licenses do not comply with the REAL ID Act.

Sidebar quote: ‘It was like wow, I am a US citizen and suddenly my Massachusetts ID isn’t good enough?’

Since the latest phase took effect July 21, it remains unclear how many people the change has affected or how many federal facilities are strictly enforcing it. The law varies in its effect; tourists may still go to Smithsonian museums without ID and defendants can attend court proceedings.

Unless the state participates in the law, Massachusetts residents without other identification will find themselves banned from White House tours next year and commercial airplanes as soon as 2016.

“It’s an entirely foreseeable result of Massachusetts’ failure to comply with a federal law,” said Bruce Tarr, the state Senate minority leader.

Tarr, a Republican, said he received “very little response” from the Democratic Patrick administration. “The only thing you could speculate is that somehow compliance with REAL ID would thwart the administration’s attempt to give driver’s licenses to those who aren’t here legally.”

The state’s Joint Committee on Transportation rejected a bill in June that would have granted driver’s licenses to undocumented residents. Patrick supports the issue on grounds that it increases the state’s ability to know the background of drivers, but opponents consider it a dangerous benefit for lawbreakers.

The 2005 federal law stems from recommendations by the 9/11 Commission. Several of the hijackers who commandeered planes in the attack used driver’s licenses to board.

Critics fault the federal government for creating a costly program that doesn’t achieve much.

“For any American citizen, they should find this whole program completely laughable and ridiculous,” Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said.

Even if it did make sense, he said, the state would need to spend millions on new technology and background checks for certain employees. The federal agency unveiled its enforcement plan in December, five years after the original deadline.

“The whole thing has been kind of a bit of a farce,” Dunlap said. “I don’t hold out an awful lot of confidence it will be implemented in a timely way and have any effect on border security or national security.”

Maine officials now advise residents to bring a passport when they visit federal buildings.

A NOAA spokesperson confirmed the agency couldn’t let Podziba into the building because Massachusetts does not comply with the law. Federal buildings affected, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Patent and Trademark Office, have some leeway in how they enforce standards.

Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Catron said the agency’s slow rollout allows the changes to occur in a “measured, fair, responsible, and achievable way.”

States must show progress or justify a delay to receive the latest extension.

Proponents warn that states failing to comply threaten the entire system.

Identity verification standards are “extremely common sense,” said Andrew Meehan, policy director of Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, a Washington-based nonprofit. “For states to not be doing them really puts residents [and] driver’s license and ID card holders at risk.”

Civil rights groups worry about the opposite: requirements that punish those without other identification, such as senior citizens or the poor.

“Not all of us have passports,” said Tanya Broder, senior staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, an advocacy organization based in Los Angeles.

Podziba, whose work has included a project on secure driver’s licenses, just wished someone had informed her about the issue.

“I support security, but Massachusetts, to me, is on top of public policy issues and requirements,” she said. “It should be cleared up.”

Jessica Meyers can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @jessicameyers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Physician, Musician, Hero: Dr. Mark Finklestein

When I saw this article in Friday's Boston Globe I immediately thought of the Brockton Symphony Orchestra's own Renaissance Man, Dr. Mark Finklestein.

Mark is an esteemed physician who somehow finds time to play several instruments in the "BrSO," serves on the Board of Directors, and writes the extensive Progam Notes that inform concertgoers of the personal stories and musical significance of the composers and pieces of music.

He is also a Grand Benefactor of the Orchestra, putting his money where his mouthpiece (or reed) is.

Greater Brockton is blessed to have Mark Finklestein, just as Greater Boston is blessed by the physician/musicians described in the article below.

The Boston Globe
Boston’s prominence in medicine, music isn’t an accident
Doctors of music
By Christoph Westphal | AUGUST 09, 2014

ANDRIS NELSONS, the young new conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, recently performed at the Tanglewood Gala Opening concerts. Listening to the exquisite performances, I was struck by the number of physicians and scientists in the audience. Music and medicine are twin passions, and I wondered: Do data exist that underscore a link between these seemingly disparate worlds? Why should the fields be closely linked? Might a connection explain Boston’s being a world-class city for both music and medicine?

It turns out that the BSO tracks specific data linking music and medicine. Roughly one-fifth of the audience for winter season BSO concerts consists of MDs or PhDs. Moreover, physicians and scientists are similarly overrepresented on the board of the orchestra. The current president of the BSO, Paul Buttenwieser, is a practicing psychiatrist and an excellent pianist.

Curiously, the converse is also true: Many more physicians have been trained musically than in the general population. According to the work of Harvard Medical School professor Alan Steere, over 70 percent of doctors have received musical training. Many physician musicians in Boston have found their home in the all-doctor Longwood Symphony Orchestra. This includes Harvard Professor Leonard Zon, the internationally recognized stem cell researcher and LSO’s principal trumpet player for 30 years. Other physicians, such as psychiatrist Richard Kogan, have found creative ways to blend their medical profession with their musical avocation. Kogan presents lectures on the mental illness of famous composers, and then performs their works.

Why are music and medicine so closely linked? Harvard Medical School professor Lisa Wong is president of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra. She has written the book “Scales to Scalpels,” in which she describes fascinating physician musicians such as Terry Buchmiller, a pediatric surgeon at Harvard-affiliated Children’s Hospital.

Buchmiller majored in music and was concertmaster in college; she has subsequently served on occasion as concertmaster of the Longwood Symphony. Buchmiller compares musical and surgical training: “What makes you a great musician? You have to break things down, repeat them, practice them over and over . . . and then take a step back and put the emotional and mental pieces together to make it into a whole. It’s the same with being a great surgeon. There are many little pieces, many tiny skills that you knit together in ever-changing ways . . . Think about suturing. You’re tying the same tiny knot over and over, and every one has to be perfect because someone’s life is on the line. You’re saving a life one tiny knot at a time . . . that kind of repetition, experimentation, and exploration ingrained not only a skill, but a whole pattern of thought, a whole structure for approaching the world.”

Both music and medicine require dedication, discipline, and creativity. The author Malcolm Gladwell famously calculated that 10,000 hours of practice were required to become excellent as a musician. Similar dedication and discipline are certainly required to become an excellent physician. However, to become truly world class in the art of music, or the art of medicine, creativity is also imperative. Creative insights permit the best physicians to treat the most difficult diseases. Inspiration is similarly required of musicians to reveal the deep inner beauty of music.

Boston benefits from the close connection between music and medicine. It is not a coincidence that one of the world’s great medical schools, Harvard Medical School, and one of the world’s premier orchestras, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, are both located in the same city. Our region attracts the very best musicians and physicians in the world. In fact, in many cases, there is significant overlap amongst these physicians and musicians. These two worlds enrich each other, and all of us.

Dr. Christoph Westphal is an amateur cellist and physician/scientist. He is a Boston-based biotech entrepreneur and serves on the boards of Harvard Medical School and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Educate Yourself through "Active Engagement!"

As I worked my way through college in the 1960s I pitied classmates whose parents paid for their "education" (they referred to the diploma as their "meal ticket") while they ignored every opportunity to interact with professors and expand their knowledge and understanding.

I long for a society that embodies the contention in the article below that "college contributes to the creation of reflective civic engagement, empathy, and healthy lifestyle choices." I look around at educated citizens unable to experience "empathy" as they walk past other humans with the blinders of hand-held devices isolating them. I attend Town Meetings where, rather than "reflective civic engagement," the few who attend indulge in name-calling and sloganeering.

That frustrating reality flies in the face of their optimistic "It is only through active engagement in democratic processes and public debate that we reach a true understanding of the social ills that plague our society and find solutions that can be politically institutionalized." Would that it were so.

For decades I have testified that public libraries (as the vehicle for SELF-education) are the other public institution with this lofty goal: "Education is the only way toward enlightened public debate, which remains our best hope for addressing the profound social ills that face our country."

Frank Zappa said, "Drop out of high school, go to the public library and educate yourself." Rather than dropping out, I recommend that in school, college, the workforce or the unemployment line, you take every opportunity to educate yourself through "active engagement" in this world that we share.

Telegram & Gazette
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
College is not just about jobs
By Hans G. Despain and Zachary Stein

What's college for anyway?

Students will be returning to campus in a few weeks and college towns will be bustling. The frenetic energy that marks the beginning of a new school year will mask the recent decline in college enrollments. Why are fewer young people choosing to go to college?

One reason for this is that all indications suggest that job prospects for the classes of 2015-8 will be weak. There are bright employment opportunities for nurses and physicians, post-secondary educators, and accountants and auditors. Likewise, engineer, economic, finance, management, and education majors should do fine in the next several years. Nevertheless, unemployment for those under 25 is nearly 14 percent, and 11 percent for those aged 20 to 24.

The biggest problems for future graduates are not business pessimism, an unwillingness to hire, or the recession levels of unemployment. The main problems are structural shifts in labor markets; there simply are not enough high-skilled, well-paying, college-degree jobs for the number of students graduating from college.

Forty-three percent of science majors graduating in years 2009-11 are employed in positions that do not require a college degree; most of these jobs pay less than $30,000 per year. Economists call this underemployment. For social science majors, 48 percent are underemployed. 52 percent of liberal arts majors and 50 percent of business majors are underemployed.

For decades it has been "normal" for 30 percent or more of college graduates to be underemployed. However, there was a time when the majority of these jobs (for example mechanics, electricians, dental hygienist, and other skilled trades) paid well and were career-oriented or "good" non-college jobs, filled by college graduates.

But things have changed, as demonstrated by a recent article in the Federal Reserve's "Current Issues in Economics and Finance."

In the 1990s, more than 40 percent of college graduates were underemployed. However, 50 percent of these underemployed recent-college-graduates had "good" non-college jobs, and only 16 percent were in low-paying non-career-oriented positions. Today, nearly 45 percent of college graduates are underemployed, with more than 20 percent of them in low-paying positions, and only a dismal 36 percent in "good" non-college jobs. Worse still nearly one out of five recent college graduates can only find part-time work.

These numbers are the result of structural labor market shifts that have nothing to do with curriculum or what individual professors or colleges are teaching. There are simply not enough good jobs, with or without a college degree. The arithmetic is simple: 23 percent of jobs pay above $50,000, while more than 30 percent of the American population graduates with a four-year college degree. 50 percent of jobs pay less $25,000 per year.

These dismal job prospects go a long way in explaining the recent decline in college enrollments. Compounding the problem is the trillion-dollar student loan industry. College is simply too expensive for individual households, often without any hope for a "good" job.

Many commentators conclude that these data suggest we need to decrease college enrollment. For example Ohio economist Richard Vedder and his colleagues conclude, "All of this calls into question the wisdom of 'college for all.'" Vedder continues, "the underemployed college graduate is an expensive luxury we can ill afford as a nation." The problem for Vedder is not merely underemployment, but "overinvestment" in higher education.

We draw nearly the opposite conclusion.

The very idea that one could "overinvest" in higher education shows a profound misunderstanding of what higher education is for. College is not, nor has it ever been, merely about getting a job.

Higher education in the United States has a heroic tradition of educating for social integration, civic engagement, and personal development. This tradition stretches from Thomas Jefferson through John Dewey to today, and values a well-educated enlightened citizenry, for its own sake, and for the health of our democracy — not merely for the functioning of our economy.

This is a tradition that we cannot afford to neglect. It is only through active engagement in democratic processes and public debate that we reach a true understanding of the social ills that plague our society and find solutions that can be politically institutionalized.

Psychologists have for years been insisting on the cognitive and emotional impacts of higher education, specifically how college contributes to the creation of reflective civic engagement, empathy, and healthy lifestyle choices.

These essential components of responsible citizenship are threatened by simplistic economic ideas about what higher education is for.

When the economy is underperforming, this leads to reactionary argumentation, like Vedder's: "due to the lack of jobs — not everyone deserves college education."

Universities and colleges, likewise, often mistakenly overemphasis the job training aspects of their mission at the expense of undermining the civic, cognitive, and socio-emotional responsibilities of higher education.

During the 2008 campaign, President Obama expressed a desire for providing a college education to everyone, so to achieve some level of economic success. This latter aim is clearly illusionary. The time has come to transcend the economic rhetoric about education and see education anew as a force for the health of our democracy and individual personal development.

We must move beyond the illusory calculations of the "return on investment" in a college degree driving the (unconscionably profitable and predatory) student loan industry. No other industrialized nation has burdened its young adults with such debt; they have instead invested in them and in the long-term future of their societies.

Education is the only way toward enlightened public debate, which remains our best hope for addressing the profound social ills that face our country: a lack of good jobs, household and business indebtedness to mega-sized corporate banks, trillion-dollar indebtedness of college graduates, and a far too cozy relationship between Wall Street and Washington.

Hans G. Despain, Ph.D., is chair of the Department of Economics at Nichols College, Dudley; Zachary Stein is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate School of Education, Harvard University.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Pequot Museum - YES! - You can keep the Casinos.

The only time Jody and I went to either casino was to spend an afternoon in what Muther describes as Foxwoods' "surprisingly thorough three-level off-site museum documenting the Pequot tribe from the 16th century to the present. The architecture of the museum is stunning and the dioramas, which are generally terrifying and creepy in other institutions, are realistic."

Earlier in the article he refers to "enticing electronic bleeting." The only time we actually entered any casino was in Atlantic City. We had to pass rooms full of slot machines to reach the theater for a WHEEL OF FORTUNE audition. Muther's "electronic bleeting" was anything but "enticing" to me - it attacked my ears and nervous system, making me want to run out of the place screaming, covering my ears. Yech!

"Yech!" is my reaction to just about everything else described in this article, other than the museum. We never went to the casino during our day at Foxwoods. It was home to museum, then home, satisfied.

Betting on a good time: Mohegan Sun vs. Foxwoods
By Christopher Muther | GLOBE STAFF | AUGUST 09, 2014

Mohegan Sun, left, and Foxwoods casino both have a lot to offer

UNCASVILLE — “What’s the matter, kid? Someone flush your goldfish down the toilet?” the woman seated next to me asked as I half-heartedly hit the “Repeat Bet” button on my slot machine at Mohegan Sun.

I was unaware that I looked like an Abilify advertisement until she pointed out my slumped shoulders. I explained that I couldn’t get tickets for that evening’s Justin Timberlake concert.

“You poor thing,” she said, giving me an eye roll. “I’m sure in some universe this is a problem, but not in mine. Get over yourself.”

She was right, as women who smoke menthols between sips of White Russians in casinos at 2 p.m. often are. I had a weekend to explore Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, and there was plenty happening at both mega-casinos. I refused to cry a river over Justin.

I’ve been to Mohegan Sun plenty of times, but never stepped foot in Foxwoods, which is just 15 minutes away in Ledyard.

I’ll confess that I am partial to Mohegan Sun. For the past 10 years I’ve had incredibly memorable experiences there, such as the time Charo jumped me and tried to take my shirt off during her Christmas show. Her talon-like fingers furiously opened buttons over my objections as she sang “Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus?” True story. Feliz navidad!

My initial impression of Foxwoods: It looked like a mall built in the late 1980s that underwent multiple expansions. These new sections don’t aesthetically match. Some are beautiful, others a bit sad. It’s like a quilt stitched by a well-meaning but color-blind aunt. Also, the endless maze of corridors connecting all the casinos, entertainment venues, and restaurants are so unwieldy that I suspect even Google Maps would have a difficult time navigating it all.

For someone looking simply to gamble, Foxwoods is the winner. It has 340,000 feet of gaming space, Mohegan only 300,000. The effect of both casinos is the same: Alien spaces filled with busy patterned carpets, mesmerizing lights, and enticing electronic bleeting. Walking through both provided a fascinating look at human behavior. There were seniors sporting cotton candy-textured coiffures robotically playing slots. Nearby men in their 30s, who looked like they stepped off the set of “Entourage,” filled the gaming tables while young women tugged at their micro skirts while they stumbled through the halls late at night after one libation too many.

Both casinos sit like a pair of unlikely monoliths in the middle of the woods in the southeastern part of the state. Mohegan Sun is owned by the Mohegan tribe, Foxwoods by the Pequot tribe. Foxwoods is the largest casino in North America. Mohegan is its hip little brother. Both have restaurants, stores, arenas, pools, spas, and gyms. Tens of thousands of gamblers and party-lovers make the trek down here every weekend.

Another reason why I preferred Mohegan over Foxwoods is the lack of natural light. Foxwoods had more windows in the gaming areas. Let’s face it, no one is all that pretty after a nicotine and rum-scented day of gambling. We all look better in dim, ambient lighting.

Food selection at both casinos is made up of sit-down fine dining options, mid-price eateries, and quick bite options. Mohegan wins this round because it has the only Krispy Kreme doughnut shop left in New England.

Foxwoods has more gambling space.

My failure to get Timberlake tickets gave me unwelcome time to make these observations. I started my Connecticut casino weekend by dropping in on a Friday rooftop party at Mohegan. It’s more glamorous than it sounds. The roof deck was on a parking garage. The entertainment was a Rolling Stones cover band. The lead singer of the band looked like Mick Jagger from a distance (particularly when I squinted), and the bargain drinks put everyone in a good mood.

Downstairs, doo-wop stalwarts Little Anthony and the Imperials were playing in a lounge called the Wolf Den. Anthony still sounded good given that he’s been performing for more than 50 years. I started getting uncomfortably angry toward all the Timberlake fans filing into the casino, so I traveled to Foxwoods to see four of the Wayans Brothers perform stand-up in the posh Grand Theater. I was so tired trying to find my way out of Foxwoods afterward that I had to stop for gelato and directions.

Another of the advantages that Foxwoods has over Mohegan is a surprisingly thorough three-level off-site museum documenting the Pequot tribe from the 16th century to the present. The architecture of the museum is stunning and the dioramas, which are generally terrifying and creepy in other institutions, are realistic. Foxwoods also has hiking and running trails just outside the casino. It’s a nice change to see a casino encourage outdoor activity.

I spent my second day in Connecticut exploring the $225 million museum, and giving Foxwoods a second chance. Perhaps my initial reaction was too snippy. I roamed the gaming tables and the endless hallways. What I noticed was a good selection of stores plopped haphazardly throughout the complex, rather than logically organized. I stayed in the luxe Fox Tower at Foxwoods that night. The hotel was beautiful, but seemed disconnected from the rest of the complex.

The Casino of the Sky at the Mohegan Sun.

Back at Mohegan — yes, you can hop between casinos all day long — I saw Adam Lambert with Queen and found a friend at the craps table who walked away at the end of the night with $800. I think my winnings at the penny slots totaled negative $63.

But my purpose at casinos is not gambling, which is why I always examine the entire complex. I look at it as an anthropological experience, and the Petri dish of humanity is what draws me. I can’t think of other places where I’ve seen busloads of Chinese gamblers alongside hip clubbers, high rollers, fans of slightly washed-up 1970s pop acts, and those willing to spend big bucks to see comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld. I’m there to see all that, plus the Dalíesque shenanigans of Charo, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and, perhaps, next time, Justin Timberlake.

Christopher Muther can be reached at
Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dennis Lehane - an author whose life was changed by libraries!

I'm guessing that Diane Costagliola has already clipped this article from today's Boston Globe, but want to make sure she sees that this incredible writer is a proud (actually the pride is my own assumption) graduate of her new domain, Boston College High School. (Diane recently left the Thomas Crane Public Library, where she was a top-notch reference and all-around librarian to direct the library at BC High.) I'm sure all of my library friends will enjoy Lehane's saying "The nuns told my mother that I read well past my age level, which was the only nice thing they ever said about me. So my mom got me a library card, and it changed my life." I have heard him speak at fund-raisers for libraries, so I know his gratitude for libraries as life-changing is sincere, and he does something about it.

Dennis Lehane, novelist and screenwriter

By Amy Sutherland | GLOBE CORRESPONDENT | AUGUST 09, 2014

Dorchester-born Dennis Lehane may be soaking up the sun most the time now in Santa Monica, Calif., but he hasn’t left behind Boston’s bleaker corners as his soon-to-be-released book, “The Drop,” makes clear. In a reverse of the more typical order, the mystery sprang from the screenplay Lehane wrote for a movie, which stars James Gandolfini in his final screen role. Both projects will be released next month.

BOOKS: What are you reading now?

LEHANE: I’m reading nonfiction: “The Impossible Exile” by George Prochnik about the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, whose work was the inspiration for the film “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” I’m just a huge fan of that movie.

BOOKS: Do you read books films are based on to extend the movie experience?

LEHANE: Yeah. I like to see the movie and then read the book because the book deepens the experience. Where as if you read the book first the movie always pales by comparison. I was a huge fan of Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient.” When the movie came out I was like, “Really? This is what you’re excited about?’’

BOOKS: Are you reading any fiction?

LEHANE: Yes, “Fourth of July Creek” by Smith Henderson, which is set in 1980s Montana. It was published by Ecco, which is a safe bet. They published my favorite book of the past five years.

BOOKS: What was that?

LEHANE: “The Son” by Philipp Meyer, a big, rich book that takes on the big, rich themes of this country. It reminded me of early Cormac McCarthy. Clean, rich, muscular, the kind of writing I respond to the most. I only had 100 pages to go, and my dog Rosie ate my copy.

BOOKS: Has this dog eaten other books?

LEHANE: This is my second white English bulldog, and they both have been crazy and had incredible tastes in books. My previous one, Stella, ate Brad Watson’s “The Heaven of Mercury,” and the next day it got nominated for the National Book Award. She also ate a Toni Morrison book and an Edith Wharton book. Stella wouldn’t even look at a James Patterson.

BOOKS: When you went to Boston College High School did you read anything that had a big impact on you?

LEHANE: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” Tom Perrotta and I talked about how every writer we respect names it as the book. It just casts a shadow over the 20th century.

BOOKS: Did growing up in Dorchester shape you as a reader in any way?

LEHANE: Yeah because no one did it. You’d get beat up pretty quick for it. I was in the midrange of popularity, but I took it down a notch by sitting in the back of the classroom and reading. The nuns told my mother that I read well past my age level, which was the only nice thing they ever said about me. So my mom got me a library card, and it changed my life.

BOOKS: Is there a book that really captures Boston?

LEHANE: I don’t think anyone’s written a comprehensive Boston book. Some do a great job of capturing a time period, such as J. Anthony Lukas’s “Common Ground” about the city’s school desegregation.

BOOKS: Given your Irish background have you read a lot of Irish writers?

LEHANE: It’s never been like I got to blow through all of James Joyce, though I did. The books that have spoken to me have been Irish-American, specifically William Kennedy’s books. Reading Kennedy was like going home. Once when I was in Albany, N.Y., I got lost, but from reading all his books I knew to look for the major streets, which is what I did.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

This Book can Change Your Life - if you are or want to be a writer!

Robert's Rules of Writing: 101 Unconventional Lessons Every Writer Needs to KnowRobert's Rules of Writing: 101 Unconventional Lessons Every Writer Needs to Know by Robert Masello
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I gave this one five stars, "It was amazing," because it would have been so easy for this to be a disappointment. Instead, I looked forward to each new "lesson," each of which is its own "chapter." Masello is often tongue-in-cheek in how he conveys his lessons, but deadly serious in giving budding (and experienced) writers a wealth of options for making their work better. I found silly humor in the little slips of paper on the cover, with lesson numbers and bits of the lessons looking like a page of them had bit cut into strips. Humor because (does this count as a spoiler alert?) the lesson numbers on the strips on the cover do not correspond to their numbers in the books. (Who checks these things? I do but don't know if anyone else does, or cares.) For me, this works best when I read just one or a few lessons at a time, so my brain doesn't get overloaded. It only looks like "light" writing - it is actually dense with experience, information and perspectives. I recommend it highly.

View all my reviews

Friday, August 8, 2014

This is Nonfiction that can Change Your Life! Highly recommended.

Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of CivilizationGo Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization by John J. Ratey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

But I LOVE "the Afflictions of Civilization!" At least, I love them until I look at my overweight body, or realize that my chiropractic visits are the result of not "Going Wild." This book pulls together scientific and "wild" threads to show us how we can enjoy the benefits of living in the 21st century without the frequent side effects of health issues, stress and lack of connection. They (author John J. Ratey and coauthor Richard Manning) make meditation and exercise much more attractive than you might imagine. They will make you at least think about getting more sleep, and they may send you back, as they have for me, to Christopher McDougall's Born To Run - A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 7, 2014

This post is labeled "Harry (personal)" - it's very personal!

Rest in peace, my dear friend. During the four years covered by these yearbook pictures, we wouldn’t have used that phrase. “Buddies,” yes, “wild and crazy friends,” sure, but “dear” wouldn’t have occurred to us. I have so many wonderful memories of Terry, who taught me to be my own man and march to my own drummer (although wearing his big brother Jimmy’s patent leather shoes in no way compromised that individuality!)

I’m sorry I won’t be able to make it to New York for the wake or funeral, but I send love and condolences to Linda and all of Terry’s family and friends.
The Senior picture on the right, and the one on the bottom with Terry's predictions, are from the 1965 Highlander, yearbook of Highland Falls, NY (now O'Neill) High School.

The picture to the left is Terry as a Freshman, from the 1962 Haldanian, yearbook of Haldane High School in Cold Spring, NY. The two below that are Terry as a Sophomore, and then Junior, at HFHS. (Kids from Garrison were bused to Haldane in our Freshman year, then to HFHS since our Sophomore year. Now Garrison students can choose.)

The Putnam County News and Recorder
2014-08-06 / Obituaries

Terry Lee Ridpath

Terry Lee Ridpath, 67, of Garrison, passed away in Naperville, IL on Saturday, August 2, 2014, while doing what he loved best – spending time with his grandkids.

Terry was raised in Garrison, and was the son of James Thomas and Mildred (Janakovich) Ridpath. He married the late Audrey P. (Stubing) Ridpath on July 2, 1965, and they spent 47 wonderful years together.

As a retired Captain from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department and a U.S. Army veteran, Terry was currently involved in a variety of organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police Stephen P. Driscoll Memorial Lodge #704, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and the American Legion. He was also a drivers’ education instructor for the AARP.

He is survived by his two daughters; Leigh Ridpath Lau of Brooklyn, NY, and Cheryl Conway of Naperville, IL. He is also survived by five beautiful grandchildren: Sadie, Katherine, Skylar, Eleanor and Hudson. Additionally, he left behind a sister, Linda Ridpath Guerra, a nephew, Billy Guerra, and two wonderful son-in-laws, Sherman Lau and Chris Conway.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made to Rosary Hill in Hawthorne, N.Y.

As the hospice facility that took care of his beloved wife during her battle with liver cancer last year, Rosary Hill held a special place in Terry's heart.

The family will receive friends at the Clinton Funeral Home, 21 Parrott Street (corner of Parrott & Pine St) in Cold Spring, on Thursday, August 7th, from 5 to 8 p.m.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m., Friday, August 8, 2014, at Our Lady of Loretto Church, 24 Fair Street, Cold Spring. The burial will take place at St. Philip’s cemetery in Garrison.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A gem - small and worth reading and rereading!

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get DiscoveredShow Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading Austin Kleon's delightful small book was filled with serendipity and pleasure. Jody and I were on the subway (Boston Green Line) just after leaving The Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. I turned to page 73 in Chapter 4 "Open up your cabinet of curiosities." As I read his description of the Wunderkammern, aka "wonder chamber" or "cabinet of curiosities" in the homes of wealthy, educated Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries, I realized the "Isabella" is nothing, if not an immense "cabinet of curiosities." Her will assured that it would be shared, heeding Kleon's advice on that page, "Don't be a hoarder."
As "Harry The Librarian," I love the section later in Chapter 4, "Credit is always due." Kleon points out that "Crediting work in our copy-and-paste age of reblogs and retweets can seem like a futile effort, but it's worth it and it's the right thing to do." This recalls a conversation decades ago with library colleague Carolyn Noah, both lamenting the "borrowing" that was already widespread. "I'm a Librarian, and I believe in footnotes!"
Later, in a section of Chapter 7, "Don't turn into human spam," he counsels "You want hearts, not eyeballs." If you have a web site, you will know what that means. His quote on page 131 from record producer Steve Albini echoes one of my favorite self-improvement writers, Steve Chandler. Kleon tells us "Albini laments how many people waste time and energy trying to make connections instead of getting good at what they do, when 'being good at things is the only thing that earns you clout or connections.'"
In 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free, Steve Chandler tells how he and songwriting partner Fred Knipe "invested a huge amount of our time... to expand our network of connections in the music business. We networked and schmoozed... And if there was ever time left over, we also wrote songs. In the end, however, our biggest financial successes came from people we did not know. In the end, networking meant nothing at all. The schmoozing was an empty waste of time and ego."
I will finish this review where Kleon starts it, with the lesson of Chapter 1: "You don't have to be a genius."
I highly recommend this book to artists, writers, musicians and anyone who would like to indulge their passions and make a life-affirming, gratitude-filled impact on their world.

View all my reviews