Category Archives: Diversions

The best Beatles album you never heard turns 57

A Hard Days Night U.K. album cover

I grew up listening to the Beatles in real time as they hit the United States, and I learned to play Paul McCartney-style left-handed guitar and bass from their records and chord books. But I have to admit that I did not hear the best Beatles album until I moved to England in 2000 and bought the remastered compact disc… Read more »

Diversions: The end of the road in Michigan

Hancock Street Sign

I currently live a short distance from a permanently busy Florida street called Tamiami Trail, so named because it is the old pre-freeway route connecting Tampa to Miami, following the Gulf Coast south through Sarasota and Naples, where it then heads east across the Everglades on “Alligator Alley” to its southern terminus. That road is also designated as Route US-41…. Read more »

Diversions: When Jimmy Stewart played a Yooper lawyer

Jimmy Stewart

I’m on my first post-Covid trip back to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where I spent some formative years, and I realized that it was fifty years ago this year that I was the projectionist for an annual cinema tradition in Marquette, a small university town on Lake Superior. That featured film was itself another step backward in time. The on-location shoot… Read more »

Diversions: Remembering trumpeter Chet Baker

Chet Baker

Trumpeter and singer Chet Baker died 33 years ago this week in Amsterdam. He was found dead on the street underneath his room, and with traces of heroin and cocaine in his system. The circumstances behind his death were never officially determined, but one biographer has commented that it was equally likely that he either fell from the window, or… Read more »

Giving up Rush Limbaugh for Lent

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A coincidence, surely, that Rush Limbaugh and I share a birth year, or that he died of lung cancer on Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian 40-day “penance” tradition of Lent. When I would visit my then-88-year-old Norwegian grandmother while attending university near her Upper Peninsula Michigan home, she would open the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette in the… Read more »

My favorite Christmas (anti) carol

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Baby Jesus

I am not known to be a great sentimentalist about Christmas. There is one “carol” that I do like to play this time every year, however, which is a based on a poem by John Pole about a homeless newborn child, called “Anti-Carol.” The best-known version of this was recorded acapella in a strong Cockney accent by British folksinger Frankie… Read more »

Worth a read: Galileo and the Science Deniers by Mario Livio

Galileo and the Science Deniers

“[T]he present Pope, who abhors the liberal arts and this kind of mind, cannot stand these novelties and subtleties; and everyone here tries to adjust his mind and his nature to that of the ruler.” Piero Guicciardini, describing Pope Paul V (1550–1621) Astrophysicist and Hubble Telescope guru Mario Livio suggests that you substitute the name of some current political ruler… Read more »