The Art of the Matter

ART PRIES US open. A violent character in a film reflects us like a dark mirror; the shades of a painting cause us to look up into the sky, seeing new colors; we finally weep for a dead friend when we hear that long-lost song we both loved come unexpectedly over the radio waves.

Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

Fatherhood in C Major

SHE IS but 11, yet as R. stood on stage, her hair fixed just so, wearing a short-sleeve button-up shirt and a frilly black skirt, and running the bow across the strings of her violin with skill and poise, she looked much, much older.

Q. typically is the one we see as acting above her age. Because she’s scary-smart and loves to hang out with her big sister, she seems like a tween trapped in a 6-year-old’s body. R., though, the personification of sweetness, with a heart as big as the sky, is impossible to conceive of as less than two years away from being a teenager.

But at last week’s violin recital, dressed as she was, playing as she did, R. began — just barely, mind you — to come into focus as the young woman who’s not too far away. As much as I want to stave it off, it was a beautiful sight. | DL

‘A Voice That Was All Rage and Envy’

thumbsdownNOT LONG after I became a dad, contemporary, grown-up pop culture began fading from my radar. And so year-end best-of lists (movies, TV shows, songs, books, etc.) of the kind published over the last week hold much less sway with me these days. It’s hard to get excited over such things when you have lots of conversations that begin with “Remember that episode of Victorious when … ?”

Though I no longer read the content of such pieces, I have noticed that alongside the best-of lists, papers and magazines are running worst-ofs. This stinks.

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In Which My Creative Efforts Take an Unexpectedly Melodic Turn

pianoEVERY MONDAY evening since last summer, I’ve taken R. to a house on the edge of our neighborhood, where she spends a half-hour seated at a gorgeous grand piano learning melodies and chords from a wonderful, fun, funky, funny teacher.

After she’s finished, she moves to a chair near the fireplace, and I take her place.

At the tender age of 43, I am finally learning how to play a musical instrument. (I choose not to count the air guitar I’ve played for many years.)

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Other Things for Which I’m Thankful

Yes, of course I’m thankful for my family, my health, my friends, my job, and my house. But there are other, less obvious things for which I am grateful on Thanksgiving Day 2012:

  • “Lonely Boy.” The guitar-crunching, beat-driving, blessedly economic anthem celebrating unrequited love was my gateway to the Black Keys, and the best rock song of the year. (Yes, I know it was released in 2011, but I didn’t hear it until this year.) A staple on my iPod.
  • Cole Hamels. The suave southpaw would have commanded a massive contract on the free-agent market, but instead signed a massive extension to stay with the Phillies. No, he won’t be hurting, but Hamels’s deep ties to Philadelphia–he and his wife are among the most visible and outspoken philanthropists in the region–seem to be genuine. Here’s hoping a few Cy Young Awards and World Series titles are in No. 35’s future.
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