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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Gun Control on Easter

Nothing says “holiday” like a family discussion about gun control. After the dishes were cleared  and relatives had made their cases, I came home to the Cleveland Plain Dealer and a sobering op-ed by Leonard Pitts, Jr. Pitts writes that since the December killings in Newtown, Connecticut, nearly 5000 kids in America have been shot […]


Today’s episode of “Radiolab” on National Public Radio, replayed from December of last year, related to happiness and its definition. The show explored the idea of bliss, including a fascinating story about a man named Bliss. Here’s the show, well worth listening to. While I listened, I contemplated my own moments of bliss. In June of 1982, I gave birth to […]

Ann Patchett’s “Run”

Novelist Ann Patchett was here in Cleveland last week. She’s a polished, funny speaker, and the crowd loved her. I got to ask her a question about her novel Run and decided to rerun my review of that book from 2007, originally published (with some cuts) in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, below.  . Ann Patchett with […]

The Kindness of Strangers

I just returned from a quick visit to Boston and New York City–not a vacation or a whirlwind shopping trip, but an effort to keep my daughter company as she underwent fairly serious surgery. I rarely travel on my own. When I do, my calm exterior masks an inner certainty that something terrible is going […]

Eclectically Bleak

I own a tee shirt which proclaims, “I survived Satantango.” Given to me by a sympathetic friend, it refers to a seven-hour, black-and-white film by Hungarian director Bela Tarr. Its tone is called “miserablist.” Yes, not only seven hours, but seven miserable hours of bleakness. I like to joke about it, but I’m actually glad I […]

Good Movies Galore

I have fond memories of Jean de Florette and its sequel, Manon of the Spring,which came out in 1986. The brilliant Yves Montand and Daniel Auteuil conspire against a thin, handsome (even with a hunchback!) Gerard Depardieu and, playing his daughter, the spectacularly beautiful Emmanuelle Beart, to acquire valuable land in gorgeous Provence in the 1920s. These films are suspenseful, […]

What We Talk about When We Talk about Education

  For about seven years, I have taught a seminar at Case Western Reserve on progressive education and school reform. (Its formal title, believe it or not, is “Schoolhouse Rocked.”) At the beginning, I hoped to introduce my students to the liberal reformers of education I admired: John Dewey, Maria Montessori, John Holt, James Herndon, […]

C’Est Finis

A period of my life has ended. At the beginning of Christmas break, around the second week of December, I began reading Les Miserables (1862), preparing to see the film (based on the musical, based on the book) over the holidays. I finished reading it about half an hour ago. I spent almost three months getting […]