Category Archives: writing

Death-row attorney’s message of hope amid injustice

At one point during Bryan Stevenson’s lecture on injustice and mass incarceration in America, the young man in his 20s seated next to me in the crowded auditorium quietly wiped tears from his face, trying to be as inconspicuous as … Continue reading

Posted in poverty, racism, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A new direction for Irish Investigations blog

If this blog had a storefront window, I’d have put up a sign in October: “Back in 10 Minutes.” Oops. It’s been more like 10 weeks. I’ve been busy developing a professional website to usher me into the next phase of … Continue reading

Posted in Irish Investigations, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 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

A 67-year-old man in a wheelchair dies, then gets smeared by internet trolls

The recent passing of Syracuse icon Gertis McDowell is instructive for two very different reasons. One, we can all learn from his upbeat attitude and the happiness he spread to strangers even when he was in pain. Two, we can try to … Continue reading

Posted in college, Irish Investigations, language, poverty, Technology, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 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

A tell-tale sign of a good vacation

We came across this street sign while out on a run during vacation in Northern California. The sign marks a street adjacent to an elementary school, and it fits our mood after putting cold, snowy upstate New York in the … Continue reading

Posted in family, Irish Investigations, photography, running, Travel, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Is Christmas ‘a sad season’? John Cheever had the answer

Every December I re-read John Cheever’s short story, “Christmas is a Sad Season for the Poor.” And every year I share a link to it on Facebook. I don’t think many people bother to read it — even when I preface it by … Continue reading

Posted in books, communication, hunger, Irish Investigations, language, poverty, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

When ‘thoughts and prayers’ don’t seem to be enough

It took three tries, but I finally came up with some words of sympathy for a family that lost a wife and mother to cancer at age 54. I hadn’t seen any of the family for a few years, as … Continue reading

Posted in cancer, communication, family, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Intent vs. Outcome: ‘What I really meant was …’

A simple and clever sign my girlfriend and I saw on Cape Cod over the weekend made us smile. And it capped a recent rash of lessons about language, and how the words we choose can be crucial. In a driveway … Continue reading

Posted in communication, driving, Irish Investigations, language, Travel, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments