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In Spite of Everything, I’m Ending 2020 Feeling Very Lucky

30 Dec
Sunset over Chestnut Hill Reservoir

By nearly every measure, 2020 was not a good year. The reasons — many of them stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, the contentious election (and politics just in general), and the multiple cases of racial injustice — have been well documented, so I don’t need to spend a lot of time rehashing them here. We’ve all lived through this year, and we know how bad it was.

But, while the pandemic may have taken a lot from us, including plans, people, and the passage of time, it did not take away perspective. In fact, the darkness of this year only made the light shine brighter.

To that end, there were also plenty of good or fun things that happened, and things that were worth smiling about. These things should be remembered, too. We should be grateful for all the doctors and healthcare workers, the public health officials, the teachers, the supermarket employees, and many other “essential workers” who went above and beyond to keep us safe, healthy, well fed, educated, stocked, and supplied this year. And of course, we should applaud the millions of people around the world who rightfully took to the streets to affirm that Black lives do, in fact, matter, and to demand that others said the same and acted accordingly.

To be clear, I’d never say I had a good year in 2020. I spent much of it alone in my small apartment, I was often confused or angry or frustrated (or all three), I lost my job over the summer, I couldn’t travel or go to the movies or experience concerts or do other in-person things I enjoy, and there’s been a nagging sense that life is passing me by while I social distance. As the Lone Bellow sang in their song “Dust Settles,” “I’ve been missing from the land of the living.” 

And yet, amazingly, in spite of everything, I actually found something to be happy about every single day this year. That’s just one reason why I’m ending 2020 feeling incredibly lucky.

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My Niece Is Turning 10 Years Old Today. Why Can’t She Stay Young Forever?

4 May

On a recent visit to New York, it got to be that time, and my sister asked my niece, Abby, who she wanted to put her to sleep that night. With minimal hesitation, Abby responded, “Uncle.”

So up we went, and after a bit of her customary procrastination — she had to rearrange her stuff, she had to check out her fish, she had to put stuff away, she had to change from shorts into pants, then change back again, etc. etc. etc. — she got into bed. Continue reading

So Long, and Thanks for All the Cookies

2 Apr

cookies

Like Pavlov’s dog and the bell, these cookies made me salivate on a regular basis

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m a very lucky person.

Today I’m saying it because I’m happy to announce that I have a new job and it’s my last day at my current place of employment.

Woo hoo!

To be honest, I don’t even want to say I’m leaving my current job. Rather, it’s more like I’m seizing an opportunity and moving on.

This opportunity came along at pretty much exactly the right time, and was the kind of job I was hoping for next. Actually, it’s the kind of job I was hoping for when I left a previous employer back in April 2012. So, yes, I’m very excited about the change, and the fact that things for me professionally seem to be back on track again.

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2013 Was a Lucky Year for the Movies

30 Dec

Inside Llewyn Davis scene2013 was the year Hollywood decided to blow up the White House — not once, but twice.

The year that Johnny Depp’s over-the-top character schtick totally and irreparably jumped the shark.

The year James Franco’s best performance was in a movie about Spring Break depravity, not the Wizard of Oz prequel — or even the movie where he played himself (a version of himself, anyway).

And the year even Bruce Willis didn’t seem to enjoy being a part of yet another Die Hard movie.

Yawn.

So you’d be forgiven if you thought 2013 was a bad year for the movies.

But you’d be wrong.

This was, in fact, one of the best movie years in recent memory, as Hollywood treated us to a bounty of impressive releases. The best of those grappled with important issues, such as racism, the economic climate, what it takes to survive (and thrive), and how tenuous our connections to each other are. They didn’t  provide easy answers or soft commentary, but through a variety of storytelling methods and production values, they entertained us, and in some cases, even inspired us to change our ways.

Of the 66 films I saw this year (!!!), what were the ones that in some cases, literally made me want to stand up and cheer? Here’s my list (with links to my reviews, where they exist). Continue reading

My Favorite Part of This Past Weekend

3 Jan

kids holding handsMy niece and nephews (as well as my sister and brother-in-law) were in Boston this past weekend.

We had a really fun time. It was a great way to end the year.

The six of us managed to pack a lot of stuff into the three days, especially given the snow storm on Saturday, and when they left on Monday afternoon, the three kids apparently fell right to sleep in the car.

That’s one sign of a good weekend.

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There Was Magic in the Night at Fenway

16 Aug

What do you say about a Bruce Springsteen show that starts with “Thunder Road,” the previous evening’s high point, performed simply and in classic style, with just piano and harmonica by Springsteen and “Professor” Roy Bittan?

What do you say about a Springsteen show that includes diverse but amazing audience requests like “Thundercrack,” “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?,” “Frankie,” “Quarter to Three,” and “Prove It All Night” (with the 1978 intro), and where a cover of Eddie Floyd’s “Knock on Wood” (a song the band has only performed once before — in 1976) is considered by Springsteen to be the weirdest one of them all?

What do you say about a Springsteen show that also includes an excellent, powerful “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” an awe inspiring “Land of Hope and Dreams,” and a transcendent “Backstreets?”

What do you say about a Springsteen show where he sings “Waiting on a Sunny Day,” and ironically, that’s when it starts raining? Then he does an acoustic “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” and it starts raining even harder?

What do you say about a Springsteen show where he asks for a hot dog and beer so many times that someone actually gives him one — at the start of “Working on the Highway” — and he chugs that entire beer in one sip … while still playing the intro to the song!

What do you say about a Springsteen show where even the usually stoic and serious Max Weinberg smiled a few times?

What do you say about a 30-song Springsteen show where only 12 of those numbers were repeated from the night before, one of which (the aforementioned “Thunder Road“) performed so differently that it kinda doesn’t even count as having been repeated?

What do you say about a Springsteen show that ends — with Ken Casey of the Dropkick Murphys joining the band for “American Land” — and then treats the audience to a fireworks show off the Green Monster as they’re leaving the stadium?

What do you say about a Springsteen show that’s even better than the one the night before?

Really, what can you say other than that you’re lucky to have been there. Damned lucky. Continue reading

Two Great Gifts for My Birthday This Year

7 Jun

How is it possible that an entire year has gone by since I turned 37?

Not that I’m complaining, of course, because today is the Day of All Days.

It’s my birthday!

Woo hoo!

Anyone who knows me knows that I love my birthday.

Still.

Yes, despite being 38 — not 40 — and past the age when I should probably stop making a big deal about it, I still love my birthday.

The truth is, it’s hard not to celebrate when there’s so much to be happy about.

And this year, I am in a particularly good mood on my birthday. That’s because I’ve received two great gifts recently. Continue reading

This Is Why I’m Lucky

9 Dec

As I’ve previously written on this blog, I’m a lucky man.

But I fear I wasn’t specific enough.

So … now that I’ve returned from five days in Park City, Utah, where I was for a conference, I thought I needed to be a little bit more specific about why I feel so lucky … Continue reading

Lucky Man

10 May

The truth is, life is pretty good for me these days.

I’ve got two young nephews and a niece who just turned 3 years old.

I’ve been busy, I’m happy, and the weather is turning nicer.

Oh, and last week at this time I was in Captiva Island, Florida, on another trip for work.

Already this year I’ve been to Las Vegas and Key Biscayne for conferences.

And this was the second time I’ve been to Captiva for this particular conference. Continue reading

So Damn Lucky to Have Been There

31 May

Where to start about night two of Dave Matthews Band’s two-night homestand at Fenway Park?

After all, there’s, ahem, so much to say.

For one thing, my seat was a vast improvement over the one I had Friday night. There’s just no comparison between sitting in the Grandstand (where I was Friday) and sitting on the field (where I was last night).

As Dave sings in one of my favorites of his songs, “Everything’s different … just like that.” The sound quality on the field is clearer, louder, sharper, crisper, and better — as is the view, of course.

Also, the audience is much more engaged with the show. They’re also older and less inclined to smoke up (at least that was the case with those around me).

And that all added up to a much better experience for me. It was like I had been to two completely different shows. Continue reading