Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor: What Does Your Life Promise?

Life promises nothing. And everything. An earnest young man named Tristan called me Wednesday night on behalf of the University of Tennessee’s Arts and Sciences Annual Telefund, he said. I found a mailer from my alma mater in the P.O. box last week, so I knew this was coming and already planned to give. Perfect … Continue reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor: What Does Your Life Promise?

Hope and the Human Spirit: Postcard from Home

Knoxville’s downtown Market Square once held an imposing masonry building that served as a center for thriving commerce, including a beloved farmer’s market that purveyed meat, poultry, dairy, produce, and flowers trucked in from the city’s rural outskirts. A 14-year-old boy set it ablaze lighting a cigarette in the late 1950s, goes the story, gutting … Continue reading Hope and the Human Spirit: Postcard from Home

Summer Reading: Some Promising Looking Fresh Hell

What fresh hell can this be? It is a line sometimes attributed to Shakespeare, but Dorothy Parker said it. Dang Shakespeare. It's one of those quips that sounds so civilized, so much better than any number of other crude things one might choose to say when a situation demands it (wtf comes to mind). I found Dorothy … Continue reading Summer Reading: Some Promising Looking Fresh Hell

Mike Birbiglia, Life’s Interruptions, et al.: A True Story

In a recent interview comedian-writer-actor-director Mike Birbiglia spoke of becoming a new dad on the heels of a work project, how he timed things in a way he thought he could stay in control, and then—like all brand new babies do—his infant daughter completely upended his best-laid plans while she successfully upstaged him. He’s a … Continue reading Mike Birbiglia, Life’s Interruptions, et al.: A True Story

How Firm a Foundation: Training a Young Dancer for Life

Unrelenting questions, lobbed one after another by a well-intentioned ballet school dad, my back inches from an icy cooler packed with pricey frozen concoctions in one of Knoxville’s fancy new grocery stores. Did I think there was something special in his young daughter Celia? Did she possess a gift for classical ballet? And what about … Continue reading How Firm a Foundation: Training a Young Dancer for Life