Legends will fall

Unless you’ve been on the planet Ork for the past 48 hours you have no doubt heard of the passing of comic legend Robin Williams. Robin Williams thrilled audiences for decades, spanning generations and, indeed, often several generations simultaneously (see Aladdin or Hook), with a style uniquely his. I use the word unique with purpose, as in one of a kind, not merely unusual. He truly was a unique talent, and by all indications, a genuinely nice person as well.

That Robin Williams was only 63 when he passed is tragic. That he died by his own hand even more so. The last time I heard the name Robin Williams was a few days before his death, when I read that his estate in Napa Valley was listed for nearly $30 million. Thirty million dollar estate. I guess you never know about someone’s inner demons until it’s too late.

Sad news last night as well to hear of the passing of the great Lauren Bacall. Ms. Bacall was 89. Fifty-seven years after her movie star husband, Humphrey Bogart, left us much too soon, Bacall’s death shows that at any age, legends will fall, and it will always seem too soon.

I guess one should be thankful for the legends themselves.

A trip to the country

Yesterday I took a drive out to Bel Air, Maryland, for a wedding at the Liriodendron Mansion. The Liriodendron was at one time the summer home of Dr. Howard Kelly and his wife, who needed to escape the Baltimore heat in those pre-air conditioned days. Dr. Kelly founded the hospital at this little college down the road called Johns Hopkins.

Bel Air is one of those once quaint Route 1 towns now overrun by shopping malls and chain restaurants. But the Liriodendron does not disappoint. Unlike other homes turned museums, the Liriodendron (it’s unclear whether I should include the article before the name) really does feel like a home. Great food and a well-tuned piano help.

It’s worth a trip to the country.

You’ve got to try harder than this


At least our friends at the New York Times seem to recognize this as the publicity stunt it was. Funny that fifteen years ago they trumpeted one of their own in such an “experiment”: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_14?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=nickel%20and%20dimed&sprefix=nickel+and+dim%2Caps%2C235.

Two things: one, try harder if you’re the experiment subject in this scenario. Two, don’t try this if you’re a Republican. They won’t like it. Trust me.

Instant Classic

Even when fielding less-than-great teams, the Yankees and Red Sox somehow still manage to produce amazing games when playing on national TV. Ever wonder why they play on ESPN so often? Me neither.

Silent treatment

Day five of no voice. This sucks. As someone who relies on his voice and furthermore loves the sound of it (so I’ve been told), this is doubly bad. The best analogy I’ve heard so far is “like seeing Fred Astaire in a wheelchair.”


Of which I speak

An unpleasant side effect to a nasty cold I had this weekend, I was barely able to speak yesterday and the day before (welcome relief to some I’m sure). Luckily I live in 2014 and rarely need to actually speak to anyone at all. Ha!

Going west again

I spent the day today in Clear Brook, Virginia, a little town west of here tantalizingly close to the West Virginia border. Today was my wife’s company’s family picnic day, and for the first time we got to bring our son (the most adorable baby on Earth). Food, fun, games: the usual suspects. Today was a damn good day. And the best part about having a “Saturday” on a Friday? There’s another Saturday tomorrow.

Harpers Ferry excursion



Today I got to take a group of young historians to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, one of those places on the short list of “famous” American small towns. Harpers Ferry really has a lot going for it: history, nature, politics, adventure. Hard to believe the same little town has two rivers, two canals, three states (sort of), several rail lines, the Appalachian Trail, and, oh yeah, site of one of the most deadly civilian uprisings in American history.

If you’ve never been to Harpers Ferry I recommend it, even if you care nothing about history and politics. The AT and the nearby C&O Canal Towpath give a close-up view of both nature and an old-timey downtown, again, touching each other as is not often witnessed.

The point pictured above is known as Jefferson’s Rock, from which one can see the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. When visiting in 1783 (20 years before Meriwether Lewis gathered provisions here, met up with Clark, and started his trek west, and nearly 80 years before John Brown’s raid), Jefferson called the scene “worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”

Most people make a habit of disparaging all people and things West Virginia. I think West Virginia might be our most underrated state. Hillbillies and moonshine? Remember, during the Civil War, they were the enlightened ones.