Category Archives: music

Learning the mandolin — good for my brain, if not your ears

Learning to play the mandolin at age 57, with no musical background whatsoever, is best described this way: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is stiff. But that’s OK, because my musical adventure keeps the brain “muscles” loose and … Continue reading

Posted in Irish Investigations, music | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Which version of ‘Hallelujah’ is the best? Does it matter?

Five years ago I heard a group of college students perform an a cappella version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and was spellbound. Newsweek recently ranked 60 versions of the song, from best to worst. I disagree with the magazine’s No. 1, John Cale (“Shrek,” the movie). … Continue reading

Posted in Irish Investigations, language, music, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

When ‘The Boy With No Story’ has a tale to tell

Sometimes I fear I have no story. I don’t mean writer’s block. I mean that I have no story, no narrative that spells out what it is I’ve done, or what I’m doing, with my life. This struck me the other … Continue reading

Posted in Children, communication, family, Irish Investigations, language, music, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Would you swap your talent for someone else’s?

Let’s say you’re a gifted painter. Maybe you don’t make a living at it, but it’s a source of pleasure and fulfillment, occasionally joy. But for years you’ve wished you were a standout baseball player, even though you’re not so … Continue reading

Posted in art, Irish Investigations, language, music, running, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

‘The Last Waltz’ and other Thanksgiving rituals snuck up on me

It’s scary sometimes how the mind works. Mine, anyway. When Michelle came home from work the other night carrying cameras, backpacks and other tools of the photography trade, I greeted her at the door with, “Take a load off!” It’s not … Continue reading

Posted in cancer, Children, family, Irish Investigations, music, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Enjoying the peace and quiet … of peace and quiet

Even before a timely visit from a butterfly, I’d been thinking a lot about peace and quiet. My girlfriend is reading Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet,” which champions “The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.” A couple of weeks … Continue reading

Posted in communication, Irish Investigations, music, peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

‘… a time when every summer will have something of autumn in it’

If you recognize the quote in the headline, you’re a fan of baseball and great writing. Those words sum up the urgency that accompanies growing older, the passion with which we can live our lives — and for me, how I want … Continue reading

Posted in Baseball, family, Irish Investigations, music, peace, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Have you checked your wallet lately?

The question “What’s in your wallet?” may conjure a popular television commercial for a credit card, but for my money there’s a better answer. My library card. It’s been in my wallet for so long, and has been used so often, … Continue reading

Posted in American History, Irish Investigations, libraries, music, photography, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A premature ‘Last Lecture’: Time Wounds All Heels

Tomorrow I will send a letter to each of my three sons, ages 25 to almost 21. I started the letter in 2008, shortly after a good friend died in his sleep at age 52. My friend never married, never … Continue reading

Posted in communication, family, Irish Investigations, music, peace, role models, running, war, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

As a kid in a shopping center, it was a Temptation to shoplift

I’m unsure of the statute of limitations on shoplifting, but here goes . . . This was around 1970 or 1971, when I was barely a teen. It was probably on a dare, or perhaps in response to peer pressure. … Continue reading

Posted in crime, Irish Investigations, music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments