Life is theater and music on A Good Reed Review
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Several months ago as Dobbs was heating up, a dear, pro-life friend asked me if I considered a fetus a life. My knee jerk reaction was absolutely not. I kept thinking about my answer, and after a good night’s sleep realized that my friend had asked the wrong question. She didn’t really want to know if I considered a fetus a life. Of course it’s living tissue. What my friend was really asking was whether I believed that a fetus was a person. There my answer is still unequivocally, no. Clinically, it really shouldn’t be considered a person until it is born, or as Roe v. Wade decided almost 50 years ago, at least until the point when it is viable outside of its host/mother’s body. Before that point, options to terminate a pregnancy if so desired should remain legal, safe, and available to all. [Continue reading]
In early March, The New Yorker published a fascinating report on a legal crusade to confer “personhood” on Happy the elephant to help protect her rights. The article, entitled The Elephant in the Courtroom: A curious legal crusade to redefine personhood is raising profound questions about the interdependence of the animal and human kingdoms, discusses the fierce debate over what constitutes personhood, and why that is important for legal protection. Several cases from around the world are discussed where various non-human species were granted “non-human person” rights as part of various efforts to protect them from abuse. Animals on the endangered species lists gain a few more protections as well, but they are still not considered persons and don’t enjoy the same freedoms as humans. While the legal calisthenics over which animals deserve additional consideration based on human determination of whether they are sentient or not provide an interesting intellectual exercise, there is a basic fact of science that is lost. Rather than being separate from the Animal Kingdom, humankind is part of the Animal Kingdom as any introductory biology class (based on science) makes abundantly clear. There is indeed an interdependence between various animal species, and our arrogance aside, it should not be a legal matter but a biological imperative that supports the expansion of what we call animal rights or perhaps even personhood. [Continue reading]
Though first released in 2010, David Baldacci’s Deliver Us from Evil is just as relevant today. This is the second (and so far last) in the Shaw series. The story can stand alone and grips the reader from the very first page. Shaw works for a shadowy international organization under Frank Wells and was originally conscripted for his considerable talents in exchange for dismissing some sticky legal issues in which he’d been ensnared. While his every move is tracked, he takes on assignments to apprehend the most dangerous criminals to hand off to the appropriate law enforcement organizations through a cooperative, multinational effort. At the outset, Shaw is still smarting from his previous assignment through which his fiancée lost her life, and with her, he lost his heart. The bulk of his backstory was shared in the first book of the series, The Whole Truth. [Continue reading]
In our current world, there is a great deal of effort being expended to bend people’s perceptions of reality to gain personal, organizational, or even national advantage. I’ve written about the dangers of propaganda before, and in modern society with its current technological advancements there are more tools available today than ever before to impose false realities, i.e., to create mythologies. … Taking a step back from current world events, it’s instructive to consider something that Yuval Noah Harari observed. In his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, he introduced the idea of common myths, upon which all of our modern societies are based, suggesting these myths may have primed us all to be open to persuasion in direct conflict with our own observations. [Continue reading]
Amid the ongoing circus of seeking accountability for those breaking the rules at the highest levels of our society, I think back to my school days when I learned something about how limits might apply. As children we all push against the boundaries imposed upon us in some ways which helps to define our sense of right and wrong. I’m reminded of two particular incidents from my grammar school days that affected me beyond the simple situations at hand. [Continue reading]
Every so often we are fortunate to cross paths with somebody with that intangible spark that makes them stand out in a really good way. They bring enthusiasm to all they do, and they inspire others to reach far beyond what seems possible. I ran into such a person some years ago, and I’ve been amazed by what this young fellow has done and continues to do.
I first worked with Val Zvinyatskovsky when he was but 10-years-old. He played the role of Jojo, one of the leads, in a youth production of Seussical that I was music directing. This particular group used live orchestras drawn from the greater musician community to give their young actors the privilege and thrill of performing in musicals in a way that would prepare them for potential careers in professional theater. Through the rehearsal process, this young actor stood out as one of the most skilled, prepared, and polished young thespians I’d seen. He not only had all of his lines and blocking down pat long before the cast needed to be off book, but his musical timing was impeccable. He never missed. Even so, it wasn’t until we got into the run of the show that I realized just how accomplished and curious this young man was. [Continue reading]
As happened most nights, Alex and Rowan Jeffries were having an impassioned discussion over dinner. The twins had been sharing a house for most of their lives, Alex a professor of biochemistry and Rowan a professor of music and religious studies at the same university. Having grown up together and only living separately as university students because they attended different schools in different states, it was both comforting and financially practical to have come together again once their student days were over. Neither had ever been married, and they considered one another perfect roommates. They relied on each other and were the best of friends even though they had a few notable philosophical differences. In fact, those differences often helped them, though they really only differed dramatically in a few areas. In other areas of their lives, they were often in agreement even when their approaches sometimes diverged. This evening, they were engrossed in a discussion in which they agreed for the most part, but differed in application. The subject this evening was honesty, or more directly, the value of truth and dangers of lies. [Continue reading]
I have always been intrigued by geometry and interesting shapes and perspectives in pictures. In fact, going through school, geometry was my favorite math class and not just because of the beautiful logic proofs, but I digress. In photography, sometimes a rather mundane scene can be fascinating when approached from a unique angle. Other times, the shading can even make common shapes pop. As mentioned in previous essays, I have spent a lot of time wandering through the exhibits packing the various Smithsonian museums over the years. While the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, D.C. is my favorite Smithsonian location by far, I also appreciate several of the others in its vicinity. The Museum of Natural History has much to offer, and although the easiest way to get a good picture there is to buy one of their brochures which are filled with many elegant professional photographs, where is the fun in that? It’s far more satisfying to discover a unique perspective and capture it directly if possible. [Continue reading]
Previous essays in the series:
In 2006, Richard Dawkins wrote a book that has garnered high praise from some and unabashed fury from others. The book has the provocative title, The God Delusion. Dawkins uses his background as a scientist specializing in evolutionary biology to examine a simple conceit to explain why so many people refuse to even consider leaving religion behind despite compelling evidence to refute its validity: “I didn’t know I could.” In his Preface he explains that his intention in writing this particular book is to raise consciousness to a few ideas such as why atheism has merit and can facilitate a productive and fulfilling life without guilt or apology; how concepts like natural selection, though often misunderstood, provide more probable alternatives to religious dogma; and how religion corrupts childhood and encourages exclusion. He acknowledges the importance of various scriptures such as the Bible, not as divine instruction, but as works of literature or historical fiction. As such, he explains how they provide cautionary tales and cultural references while inspiring countless modern works of literature, and he laments the ever decreasing familiarity with such sources even amongst those who claim to be religious. Mostly he intends his book to inspire people to think and examine the world around them anew, open to the beauty that comes with greater understanding through science. [Continue reading]
Growing up, we wrote letters. We also talked on the telephone, but if people lived more than just a few miles away those phone calls could quickly get expensive, much more so than the cost of a stamp. … Fast forward a couple of decades and chat rooms became ubiquitous among the computer savvy. These allowed people of various interests to join together remotely sharing ideas and prose among like-minded aficionados. Chat rooms were essentially social media infants. It would be another decade or so before our present day social media started popping up in various corners. The advent and ubiquity of social media today has given far more people than ever before the opportunity to write, some for a much wider audience than they may have previously imagined possible. [Continue reading]
Earlier in this series, I talked about how my parents inspired me and encouraged my love of music. They are both long gone now, Dad for over 50 years and Mom for a decade, but every time I play anything, I think of them. In the last installment discussing whether I was still a musician or not, I came to the conclusion that even without performing for others, I am and always will be a musician. The pandemic has pushed me to enjoy my music more privately, and in doing so, return to my roots and my first instrument, the piano. Playing the piano reminds me of my mother, especially when I play some of the repertoire that she played frequently. One of her favorites was Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude. Mom used to play this one with deep expression and early on told me the story her piano teacher told her about the piece. Her favorite teacher used to tell her stories about every piece she was assigned, and in doing so made the music come alive as much more than mere notes on the page. [Continue reading]
Previous essays in the series:
The holiday season is upon us, and there are myriad music and theatrical events to celebrate the season. It is also the heart of the football season where a different kind of theater plays out all over the country. For some, the drama is in the game itself. … there is another kind of spectacle playing out in stadiums across the country, but this one engages fans from all walks of life. … Finally, there are the extreme fans. These are the ones who take fandom and raise it to a performance art form bringing a type of theater to light … My friend Mark is one such fan. … Today, many 49er aficionados know him as 49erMark. [Continue reading]
In REMEMBERING MOM AND DAD, I make the jump from analyzing the stories to telling them. The book is a collection of nonfiction essays and short stories written over time remembering Bayla and Jerry Jacobson. The stories include personal recollections from my experience along with the retelling of numerous events related to me in conversations over the years. Some of the stories included are: “Music in the House”, “The Parenthood Plunge”, “The Jacobson Pet Parade”, “Disney Days of Summer”, and many more. Interested?
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