06/22/15 6:00am

On a May day, 70 years ago, World War II ended in Europe. Myriad books have been written, among the best “The Liberation Trilogy” by Rick Atkinson, which take us across Africa to Tunisia, into Sicily, through Italy and on to the Normandy beaches and Berlin. Atkinson clearly details the strategies, the tactics, the battles, but his gift lies in humanizing those who participated, those who were there. (The trilogy’s titles are “An Army at Dawn,” “The Day of Battle” and “The Guns at Last Light.”) (more…)

04/19/15 6:00am

April Fools’ Day was a while back so I’m writing about April Foolishness. If you find anything serious in this, call the authorities.

Blond guy answers the phone, listens and says, “It certainly is” and hangs up. Seconds later the same thing happens: “It certainly is,” he says again. After the third time his wife asks what’s going on. He says, “Someone keeps saying, ‘It’s a long distance from Seattle.’ ”  (more…)

12/21/14 7:00am

Christmas is next week, a holy and joyful day filled with memories of the past and dreams for the future. An early memory for me is midnight Mass in the convent on the corner of University Avenue and the Washington Bridge — long gone, replaced by public housing. It was a magical service, highlighted by the cloistered nuns, hidden from sight, chanting and singing in their high-pitched voices. I’m not going to dwell on religion, though, mine or yours. Joy is the theme, and the laughter that joy can bring.


10/19/14 6:00am

There aren’t many books you can buy in three different weights — the 100-pound version, the 30-pounder or the three-pound bantam weight — but the Oxford English Dictionary would be one. The 10-volume set requires a sturdy bookcase; the two-volume (four photographically reduced pages to a page complete with magnifying glass) is handier; and the entire immense work, on several CDs, would slip right into a knapsack.  (more…)