This time of year, I’m drawn to think of the people who founded this country — no surprise there; it’s what the 4th of July is all about — and the kind of world they occupied while creating the form of government we have today.
I find myself inside a fireworks tent two days before opening at the beginning of the fireworks selling season. In this particular city, fireworks legally go on sale in temporary locations starting June 20 of each year. Sitting down a bit from me on the still bare table is an enthusiastic Chris Sander, the 28-year-old proprietor of Powder Monkey Fireworks (which, he carefully points out, is styled “powder monkey FIREWORKS”). I found myself here on a quest to learn more about how the fireworks business works, though as I listened to Sander’s insights, it became clear he was dispensing business wisdom applicable far more broadly than just his own market.
Okay, I confess it: I like the Harry Potter movies. No, I’ve never read any of the books, either for my own enjoyment or to children, the usual adult excuse for having read them. My association with the long Potter saga is limited to the movies. Fact is, I was late even to those, having seen the first few on DVD years after they were in theatres.
This television show has already been commented on roundly—praised, lambasted, lamented—so perhaps I am undercutting our goal here at OFB. But in so many ways, it is a microcosm of America today, in both its tragedy and possibility, and as such, it cannot be ignored.
The day was sunny and warm at the Lake Placid, New York, horse show, the skies clear as can be. The altitude lent a certain dry coolness to the air — it didn’t feel as hot as it was — and made sunburn likely.
They say that mules are stubborn, but my money is on robins. Well, at least the robin that has been trying to build a nest on my porch light.
The email message was a happy surprise. A fellow in California, at something called the “L.A. Theatre Works,” was putting together a project (he did not say what) and wondered if I still have the original tapes (I don’t) from a radio report I did in 1983. His email note to me was above a long series of messages and replies he had sent to and received from others, in pursuit of the missing audio.
The hot new word of 2011 is “bespoke.” If you listen, you’ll suddenly hear it everywhere. It used to be a perfectly good word, but by midsummer it will be threadbare and tattered from overuse. The wear is already showing.
Back when the world was young, there were mechanical devices in newspaper, radio, and even television newsrooms called “teletype machines.” The precursor to modern electronic printers, these things were very noisy. They had letter keys inside them, on arms, and in response to electrical impulse they would type the (usually) correct letter in the fashion of a typewriter.
The sky wasn’t just dark, it was … weird. Meanwhile, the weather radio was going crazy, with alerts interrupting other alerts.