Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Well, here we are again. It's a white Christmas in Denver, and the family is here and safe and warm, and I'm reflecting on another year. Listening to, I am reminiscing about my favorite holiday songs, many of which take me back nostalgically to working winter breaks at the Pasta House, Co. in the St. Louis area. The Christmas tape had songs like:


And, now that it's thirty years later, and I'm living in Colorado, I've added a few favorites to my list such as:

Looking back, I realize that twelve months ago I was "Looking for Something about Life." I imagine I'm still doing the same in 2017. A year later I've managed to learn a little about playing piano, and I am forever trying to work a bit more art and culture into my life. The world continues to baffle me, though I am inclined to worry less about that which I cannot change, and I've come to realize that people will believe or not believe what they want with little help from me. Thus, I am trying to focus on hugging my people and tending my own garden as much as I can.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Mendelsohn: a father & son study The Odyssey

Man, I really dig smart people. And veteran scholar and critic Daniel Mendelsohn definitely qualifies as one of the smartest people in the contemporary humanities world. If you're a reader, and especially if you are a reader of reviews and essays on the classics and humanities, you've most likely read some DM before, as he has been publishing critical commentary for years. Now he's released perhaps his most personal work with his re-visiting of Homer's The Odyssey in a seminar class at Bard College with his 81-year-old father sitting in on the class. Wash Post writer Wendy Smith offers an engaging and inviting overview of the man and his project as "Daniel Mendelsohn learns that teaching his dad 'The Odyssey' is a classic trip."

Daniel Mendelsohn is one of the finest critics writing today and the most broadly erudite, as comfortable and astute assessing blockbuster movies as he is when writing about classical Greek and Roman literature. He’s also an elegant and moving memoirist, of his personal history in “The Elusive Embrace” and of his family’s entanglement with the Holocaust in “The Lost.”  His lovely new book, “An Odyssey,”draws on all Mendelsohn’s talents as he braids critical exegeses into intimate reminiscences to illuminate them both. His 2011 seminar at Bard College on the “Odyssey” becomes a voyage of discovery not just for his students but also for Mendelsohn, who gets more than he bargained for when his 81-year-old father, Jay, decides to sit in on the class.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Art, more art - in Denver

Some time around a year ago, I concluded that what I need more of in my life was art. Art, jazz, photography, food, culture, .... life. The reality was that while I am pretty well-established and successful in my personal and professional lives, I was reeling from a sense of ennui, and I needed to be reminded that music, art, literature, and culture are the "things we stay alive for." For that reason, I am glad that even as a school administrator, I have remained in the classroom with a connection to the humanities that give us meaning and understanding. And I am also thankful for writers and critics like Denver's Ray Rinaldi and the Denver Post for continuing to cover the art world as an indispensable part of news and society. Reading about those neighborhoods where art is thriving, I am inspired and fulfilled, not to mention reminded to see the world like an artist.

These days, the Golden Triangle is the serious contender. While other districts have been turned upside down by gentrification, the triangle has remained a reliable place to see good work, due mostly to the fact that four of the city’s most venerable and trusted dealers call it home, with William Havu, Sandra Phillips, Tina Goodwin and Bobbi Walker all running namesake businesses within a few blocks of each other. The neighborhood also happens to overlap geographically with the city’s well-hyped Museum District, which means it hones in on the arty aura of the Clyfford Still Museum, the Denver Art Museum, The Art hotel and, starting in March, the newly relocated Kirkland Museum.

The world is alive. Get out there and see it.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

George Will explains the Wedding Cake/Gay Marriage Issue

Making a cake is not practicing or "exercising" Christianity. For me, it's that simple. It's all in the words of the amendment:

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Having been born and raised Catholic, and having practiced that religion for many years, I understand the perspective of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Philips, who believes that his religion and faith do not approve of homosexuality and subsequently the legality/legitimacy of same-sex marriage. That said, I cannot fathom how he extrapolates that belief into arguing that conducting business at his cake shop constitutes violating his religious beliefs. While I do know the origin of the opposition to homosexuality in Scripture, I also know that doing a job is not practicing the religion, and nowhere in Scripture does it expect, command, or encourage the faithful to deny doing business with anyone, including those believed to be in a state of sin.

Making a cake ain't going to church or receiving a sacrament, Jack, and thus you are wrong in your interpretation of your faith, the Constitution, and the law.

Conservative writer George Will expounds on the issue as well this week in his commentary, More Wrongs than Rights in Masterpiece Cake Shop Case anticipating the Supreme Court ruling on the cake issue and Colorado's anti-discrimination legislation.

The First Amendment speaks of speech; its presence in a political document establishes its core purpose as the protection of speech intended for public persuasion. The amendment has, however, been rightly construed broadly to protect many expressive activities. Many, but there must be limits.
Phillips was neither asked nor required to attend, let alone participate in, the wedding. Same-sex marriage was not yet legal in Colorado, so Craig and Mullins were to be married in Massachusetts. The cake was for a subsequent reception in Denver. But even if the cake were to have been consumed at a wedding, Phillips’ creation of the cake before the ceremony would not have constituted participation in any meaningful sense.
I do believe Will goes a bit off base when he criticizes the plaintiffs for filing the case. Sure they could have gone to other shops, George. But that's not the point. Other consumers in other towns might not have that luxury, so the case had to be resolved, and Philips had to be sued.