Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ingots

At the New York Times, Oliver Sacks on the consolations of the physical sciences:
Next to the circle of lead on my table is the land of bismuth: naturally occurring bismuth from Australia; little limousine-shaped ingots of bismuth from a mine in Bolivia; bismuth slowly cooled from a melt to form beautiful iridescent crystals terraced like a Hopi village; and, in a nod to Euclid and the beauty of geometry, a cylinder and a sphere made of bismuth.

Bismuth is element 83. I do not think I will see my 83rd birthday, but I feel there is something hopeful, something encouraging, about having "83" around. Moreover, I have a soft spot for bismuth, a modest gray metal, often unregarded, ignored, even by metal lovers. My feeling as a doctor for the mistreated or marginalized extends into the inorganic world and finds a parallel in my feeling for bismuth.
And another nice recent piece: "My letter from Oliver Sacks." (Links courtesy of Dave Lull.)

Fever dreams

Tim Adams on Hanya Yanahihara, at the Guardian (via Geoff Chadsey):
“I knew when I started it would be about 1,000 manuscript pages,” Yanagihara says, with the true novelist’s sense of fate. “I’d had the characters in my head for a long time. I was writing every single night and all weekend and it is not something I necessarily recommend. Though it was an exhilarating experience it was also an alienating one. In the first part of the book, JB [one of the four friends, an artist] is talking about painting and about how it becomes more real than life itself. That process, which I experienced, is absorbing and dangerous. It is probably one I will never have again, and one I never want again.”

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Closing some tabs

And with unusual finality - I was finally due for a new computer from Columbia (we're on a four-year cycle), it arrived yesterday and I had an emergency meeting this morning at 9:30 with a faculty desktop support guy who set it up all up for me - I'm leaving tomorrow morning for a lovely but complicated trip to Cayman, England and Iceland, and it is a boon to have this new tiny computer to travel with rather than the current BEHEMOTH!

(Which I will now leave in my office so that I have a computer permanently there, and it may be the source of future blog postings, but it will no longer be the main device....)

Links:

Neglected books still neglected, including a very funny one noted by Anthony Burgess (clearly a major source for his own somewhat neglected novel The Wanting Seed). (Via.)

Listen to all ten of August Wilson's plays for free between now and the end of August!

What would Daniel Kahnemann eliminate if he had a magic wand?

Jane Goodall on 55 years at Gombe.

Sarah Waters' ten rules for writing fiction.

A delightful roundup at the TLS on four recent books about the history of British cooking and Steven Shapin at the LRB on the history of tea (subscriber-only I think).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

44


I need an amanuensis to come and type up these notes for me!

My mood has picked up quite a bit, to my relief - in fact, when I look through past summers of blog posting, I begin to suspect that I always spend June and the first half of July in a state of mild grumpiness (consequence of overwork during the school year plus need to clear minor external writing tasks). I was training a lot more last summer but I don't think I was really feeling good about stuff until round about now, it may just be a structural cost of balancing the workload so unevenly over the academic year.

I have a lot to do before I leave on Friday, including thinking about packing for three totally different climates and sets of activities. Will still be writing Oxford talk next week in Cayman, not optimal but inevitable....

A minor bright spot the other day: my brother found our father's SSA-1099 in a bag of papers that had become separated from the other stuff he took from his apartment, which will let me file his 2014 taxes WITHOUT having to go in person to the local Social Security office and wait in line with complicated paperwork to beg a new copy! This is huge: it might be that the SS office is not as heinous a place as I imagine, but I have built this up into absolutely most-dreaded job, and having the form in hand will save me half a day of high irk and a good deal of dread in the anticipation. PROCRASTINATION WAS REWARDED - my brother was almost afraid to tell me he'd found it in case I'd already spent a horrible day obtaining a new one!

This year brought me several bad things I really wasn't expecting, and I am still pretty much just scrambling through from day to day, but I'm looking forward to the coming school year and an interesting committee-chairing assignment, and after that I will have a full year of sabbatical! I have not made enough writing time in the last year or so, and am looking forward to getting the chance to remedy the omission.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Peaking

An appealing extract from Ed Caesar's new book on endurance sport at the FT (site registration required). Hahahahaha, I had a wave of grumpiness that the book is available as of today in the UK but not till October in the US - then I remembered that in two weeks I will be in England and can purchase it in a bookstore! (Or, indeed, order it immediately from the Book Depository....)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Closing tabs

A long-overdue closing tabs post. (Alas, the combination of Facebook and a general lack of exuberance is making my blog much less active than usual - the era of the blog is largely over, I am afraid, though I am hoping I will be posting more often again once I'm through the slump.)

Have had some good sessions at the rare book library with Johnson's Shakespeare, Bentley, Theobald and various other eighteenth-century stuff. I have my work cut out for me, only two more weeks in New York with library access - better start pulling some of this stuff together....

Have seen a few really wonderful plays written and performed by friends: first of all, Winsome Brown's immensely touching and funny This is Mary Brown; second of all, Abby Rosebrock's equally touching and funny but ALTOGETHER different (I was laughing out loud, it really is a play to make you laugh and cry) Singles in Agriculture. Both of these just had short runs for now but will be seen again in future in NYC and elsewhere, I'm sure. Abby is a comic genius!

Reading a lot for work is my only excuse that light reading has been so thoroughly brain-rotting (really it is like living on Pringles, Cheetos and SweeTarts!).

Three rather appealing urban fantasy novels by Jaye Wells, the Prospero's War trilogy; five novels of variable quality in a co-authored series by Edward Fallon and others (there are some wild implausibilities in three and four in particular, but the books are readable), the Linger books (strongly reminiscent of F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack books, and more like television episodes than full-length novels, but I applaud these experiments in publishing - I would certainly read more books like this if people were writing them); a novella by Mira Grant called Rolling in the Deep (she is always very good, but it's more appealing when you see glimpses of a world or characters you care about from the novels - I still think very regularly about the excellent The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell!); Charlie Stross's new Laundry novel The Annihilation Score (harder for Stross to capture Mo's voice than Bob's, inevitably, though these books are always delightful); then a funny and disconcerting urban fantasy series by a MAN - there is of course no reason that urban fantasy shouldn't be written by men, Charles de Lint is one of its great pioneers, but I suppose the genre collided with romance/erotica in a way that makes it tend to be strongly female-dominated in terms of the writing, Kevin Hearne's "Iron Druid" books. Have read the first four and am happy that there are more. Also, an Amazon First giveaway, Sam Reaves' Cold Black Earth, which I thought was extremely good, particularly in the writing: will definitely seek out his others.

Massive number of tabs to close, in the order from left to right across the browser (sometimes I organize according to internal logic, but I don't think I have the energy!):

Marie Curie's work is still radioactive.

A new swim stroke - the fastest yet?

I am slightly horrified by the idea that Dune is the most important novel in the science fiction canon, but Hari Kunzru makes me consider a reread.

Warhol's cover illustration for The Red and the Black.

Lion facial recognition. (Reminded me of this.)

Donald Judd at 101 Spring Street.

Creepy but fascinating: the art of preserving tattooed skin after death.

A conversation with Mike Watt.

Lauren Klein on the carework and codework of the digital humanities. (Lauren is in NYC now for some weeks and we happily had a very good spin-swim session yesterday at Chelsea Piers - good for mood and morale!)

Wallace Kalkin on Deep Springs College, a place I've always had a fascination with ever since doing a Telluride Association summer program at Williams College before my senior year of high school.

I MUST DO THIS ONE OF THESE YEARS. It can be done, it's not a heroic exploit (contra Byron), but I will need to pay some attention to the logistics (this I think is the best option).

I wrote a short thing for the new Aeon Ideas site: is artistic talent innate?

The Amazing Acro-Cats! My mother and I had a funny conversation on the phone about this piece last night - I am overbooked until I am leaving NYC, and surely tickets are sold out already, but I might have to see if I can get some.... (Will pursue this as soon as I finish writing this post.) (Also, from Jane Yeh, list of cats!)

At the TLS, Peter Stothard on Antonia Fraser.

I am still sore about having to cancel my epic triathlon for September, but it made me think about this piece I liked very much - I think we could make up something similar for reading and writing, i.e. what you need to do in the way of writing during non-serious stretches to be ready to start up again hard and get a lot done in a span of some weeks.

I want this book!

Canadian slang terms (courtesy of B.). Over many years of fraternizing with Canadians, most of these terms were already familiar to me, but I still find them strange and frequently enchanting (double double!)....

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Work TBR

New "tower" approach to organizing work TBR in bedroom (I think best lying in bed!). I have another one of these in a box waiting to be assembled, but it must be said that the screwholes were so badly bored that the person helping me assemble the first one had to take the pieces to the hardware store and get them to help her ream them out so that the screws would actually go through!

KindRED spirits?

Via Amy Klein!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Light reading update

Overdue a light reading update. Basically, the month in summary: crest of relief when I dig in on a longish series that's good, then dismay when it comes to an end and I am not sure what to read next! Trying to get my act together for a productive week of work starting tomorrow, as that is the thing most likely to improve my mood and morale - this year has been unduly taxing, I am now operating at about 20% capacity, that's not good....

Just finished an advance copy of the excellent Lauren Groff's forthcoming novel Fates and Furies. I found the first half puzzling and a bit unsatisfying (it suffers by comparison with A Little Life, which on the face of it sets out to do some similar things), but the second half makes sense of the first - I wish there had been some way to have the reveal come sooner. Very good, though, regardless.

The latest Expanse installment is just as good as one might expect. I think I will reread the whole series from the start before the next volume, both because they are so intensely pleasurable and because the human element of the story sticks with me more consistently than the intricacies of the protomolecule.

Caymanian author Elke Feuer's Deadly Race, which I enjoyed very much (it's the second installment in a series, both are well-written and engaging but this one asks for less suspension of demographic disbelief in the matter of serial killer populations!).

Stephen King, Finders Keepers (an enjoyable read, good storytelling but the characters are forgettable, types rather than individuals).

Sarai Walker, Dietland (like a sort of inverse sequel to Fay Weldon's Life and Loves of a She Devil).

I liked the first two installment of Sarah Rees Brennan's Lynburn Legacy books so much that I decided to reread them in preparation for Unmade. I was sorry indeed as I read the last page: these books remind me more of Diana Wynne Jones than almost anything I've ever read, it gave me a pang!

Tim Lebbon, Coldbrook (certain similarities to the other book I recently read of is led me to suspect that he must have been as strongly influenced/impressed as I was by The Day of the Triffids in some earlier stage of life).

Then I came upon an amazingly good fantasy series by Robert V. S. Redick. Redick is my "friend" on Facebook, and posted a picture of a gecko there that captivated me sufficiently that I looked up his books: and they are so very good! Also there are four of them and they are LONG, so they got me through a tough week or so. The series is called the Chathrand Voyage, more information here: highly recommended.

I couldn't quite get in a groove after that (I have been reading a lot for work as well too, obviously, including some very interesting stuff about documentation and marginal annotation), so the rest of the list is more miscellaneous: a very brutal zombie novel by Mason James Cole, Pray to Stay Dead; four much more frivolous zombie novels (this kind of urban fantasy is so silly but so relaxing to read), Diana Rowland's White Trash Zombie series; Sarah Hepola's gripping Blackout (this Guardian excerpt captured my attention earlier in the month: not as complex and interesting a book as Caroline Knapp's drinking memoir, but extremely well-written and interesting to read); and Vendela Vida's The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty (I liked it, the writing is ravishing, but it is more novella than novel - reminded me a good deal of a couple books by Kate Christensen that were more substantial - and I found the late-stage double revelation needlessly melodramatic - one or the other thing would have been enough?).

My bedroom is stacked with dozens of half-read books, but I am too lazy to document that all here - will have to get subsumed into actual writing....

Saturday, June 27, 2015

"Sight moaty and dimmish"

Diseases incident to literary and sedentary persons!

The state of publishing

At the Guardian, Sam Leith argues that we're living in a golden age for the university press. I agree with everything he says - also I want to read some of these UP books he singles out for praise (might have to read a manuscript for the U of Chicago P so that I can get these for free - often honorarium from a press is a choice of a very modest sum of actual dollars or twice that amount in books! The Francis Barber book is already on my list and I am about to go and get it from the library):
In natural history and popular science, alone, for instance: Hal Whitehead and Luke Rendell’s amazing book The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins or Brooke Borel’s history of the bedbug, Infested, or Caitlin O’Connell’s book on pachyderm behaviour, Elephant Don, or Christian Sardet’s gorgeous book Plankton? All are published by the University of Chicago. Beth Shapiro’s book on the science of de-extinction, How to Clone a Mammoth? Published by Princeton. In biography, Yale – who gave us Sue Prideaux’s award-winning life of Strindberg a couple of years back – have been quietly churning out the superb Jewish Lives series. Theirs is the new biography of Stalin applauded by one reviewer as “the pinnacle of scholarly knowledge on the subject”, and theirs the much-admired new life of Francis Barber, the freed slave named as Dr Johnson’s heir. Here are chewy, interesting subjects treated by writers of real authority but marketed in a popular way. The university presses are turning towards the public because with the big presses not taking these risks, the stuff’s there for the taking.

Against the 1%

Some funny food details in this FT lunch with Thomas Piketty, who seems to have been making a point by choosing a really mediocre lunch venue (I do understand the preference for quiet research time over lunch!): "the now tepid bolognese," "ripe and soothing" cubes of pineapple, "a rubbery crêpe au sucre"....

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

James Kilik, 1950-2015

June 20, 2015
Art Alliance of Philadelphia

Thank you for being here with us this evening to celebrate the memory of Jim Kilik.

Early life

These thoughts are from Jim’s dad Gene:
In 1950 when Jim was born at the very tiny, now very large Overlook Hospital in Summit, the family was living in a newly built split level (built as one of the huge number to house the newly created families formed during and after WW2) in Florham Park, NJ.

His family, under the mistaken notion that children living in the cities and suburbs were deprived of the experience of country and farm living, decided when Jim was about five (his brother Michael was 4 years older) to move to a seventeen-acre Old MacDonald farm in Readington, NJ, where sheep, chicken (broilers and laying hens), ducks, a big vegetable garden, three dogs and about twenty odd cats shared the residence. (Literally: spring lambs usually were born during February snow storms and were kept in the kitchen with the mother for a couple of days. Nothing is dumber than sheep except the Shepherd who has moved from the city or suburb.) While Michael bought the whole idea of farm life, Jim ignored the whole adventure. He didn't move in a society centered around a barn. He was all business even then.

(And I’ll add in my own voice a story that I’ve heard Gene tell now and again that I really love, a little story about “Jimmy” as a kid – Jim was always a good baseball player, as borne out in more recent years by his enthusiasm for serious recreational softball. And the neighborhood kids – probably Young Gabe most of all – would ask Jim to come out to play ball. And Young Jimmy would say – “I can’t come out to play right now. I’m a busy kid!”)

Jim understood from the beginning that the family wasn't really cut out to be farmers, and eventually the rest of the family caught on, so next stop, the old house in Murray Hill, NJ, where Jim quickly got disillusioned with public schools and in about the third grade transferred to the Far Brook School -- a school that had the knack of bringing out the interests and talents, whatever they were, of the kids that accepted the freedoms allowed by the school, a move that changed his life.

The primary mover in the change of Jim's attitude was the music teacher, Eddie Finckel. Yes, and the old plastic clarinet that Jim's Uncle Allen had gathering dust since he put his musical talents with other discarded detritus in storage. There was no one like Eddie Finckel who could dig out the talents of every kid who came under his low-key but large expectations. So, naturally, when Eddie and his wife Helen started their Vermont summer camp, Jim was among the first to sign up. He was camper and then counselor and for at least one summer led a group of wonderful kids who performed under a charming but forgettable name. (Note: maybe someone here remembers what that group was called?) At camp there were a bunch of guys and girls like Hal Slapin who never lost touch with each other.

(And a nice other note on the Far Brook years comes from Jim’s classmate Lucy Marks, who remembers Jim performing a memorable Caliban in the Tempest production for their eighth-grade graduation: “every time I see that play I am reminded of how Jim growled, “I must eat my dinner. This island’s mine by Sycorax my mother. . .” Lucy also adds that her great love of the Mozart clarinet concerto is thanks to Jim, who would always oblige her by playing her favorite passage.)

After Far Brook came a short time at prestigious private high school in Morristown, a school that didn't suit Jim at all. He transferred to the public regional high school, Governor Livingston, where he played in the band and firmed up his wish to someday become a real musician. He also became friendly with boys in the neighborhood, mainly Gabe Allocco. He and Gabe, one summer, helped Gabe’s father, a first-class carpenter, tear off the multiples of rooves on the old house and install a new wood shingle roof that was closer to the original on the eighteenth century house.

In Jim’s life there were, as in most lives, ups and downs. In Jim’s there were plenty of ups but one terrible down: the death of his brother, Michael. Michael was on his way to do a good deed when he was in an accident that caused a coma that lasted a year before he died. Michael was 39.
Professional career

Jim graduated from the New School of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied clarinet and saxophone with Ronald Reuben of the Philadelphia Orchestra (he also worked with Loren Kitt and Kalmen Opperman). During a long and successful career as a freelance musician in the greater Philadelphia area, Jim played many different kinds of music; he was a member for 22 years of the Delaware Symphony, but also performed regularly with the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra, Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, Network for New Music, Relache and the Playhouse at the Hotel Dupont in Wilmington.

I have heard many funny tales of these years, some of them not perhaps suitable for this sort of occasion (much alcohol was clearly consumed – and it is still slightly a regret that we were not able to host this gathering at the Pen and Pencil Club, which would have been a suitable venue but which isn’t set up to accommodate so many people at once!). Just a glimpse of their flavor will come from Jim’s friend John Hall’s reminiscence of when he first moved to Philadelphia in 1971 – he met Jim when Jim’s roommate lent him a place in their apartment in the 900 block of Pine Street while John looked for housing of his own. This is how John describes it:
The Pine Street apartment was the place where friends gathered on Friday nights (the only night when we took time from studying and practicing to socialize) before going out to a Pine Street pizzeria for hoagies, cheese steaks, beer, and pizza. A noteworthy and now-famous feature of this apartment was its attic, which Jim thoughtfully lent (rent-free) to our friend Todd Hemenway and wittily dubbed “The Winter Palace” since it had no heat, no running water, and broken windows so that the snow fell inside as well as out. Todd lived there for two years.
The other terrible “down” in Jim’s life

Gene wrote of one terrible “down” in Jim’s life. There was another that it’s important to remember this evening. Many of you know that Jim had to give up playing professionally in the spring of 2001. He had been struck by hand-focal dystonia – dystonia is one of the horrible afflictions that can strike professional musicians and others (in the mouth and embouchure, often, for brass players, but in Jim’s case in his hand). He followed with great interest Leon Fleisher’s activism and research around the problem of dystonia, participated in interviews for a documentary about dystonia awareness and was a very active supporter of the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation. Among other treatments he tried, Jim traveled to New York for a splinting trial – the theory was that by immobilizing the dystonic hand for two months it might “learn” or find new neural pathways on coming out of the splint. The leader of that trial, Dr. Steven Frucht, wrote these words to my mother after hearing of Jim’s death:
I have very vivid memories of Jim’s participation in the splinting trial. He was so engaged and willing to participate to help other musicians. I remember how astute his observations were about his condition, and how he understood the challenges facing similarly affected musicians.

It was a great privilege to meet and care for him.
Two important things to remember about Jim

When I think of the legacy Jim left behind, I think of his selflessness and generosity in two very important different domains: teaching, family and friends.

First, then, some thoughts on Jim’s teaching.

Jim was a longtime faculty member at Settlement Music School, as well as being on the faculty at Widener University in Chester.

These words come from Jim’s student Bill, a retired psychology professor at Temple who came regularly for coaching on the pieces he was playing with a local amateur orchestra and for summer music camps. Bill wrote this letter to Jim in February:
I wanted you to know how much your teaching and coaching has meant to me over the years. You are the first clarinet teacher who said to me (at various points in time) that you had been thinking about what the previous lesson had been about and now you had some additional suggestions. They were always on the mark. That alone set you apart from the ordinary “what do we work on this week” approach. You either knew the music I needed to learn (I was continually amazed at the range of your repertoire) or you got the score and a recording and proceeded to help me figure out how to play the piece . . . or at least how to be a bit better at faking it. That’s another unique feature about your teaching style: being willing to learn something new. Of course, the result on the student, me, was to make me work all the harder without feeling discouraged. Any number of times with a concert coming up I would bring the passage at hand and you would give me the encouragement that I was playing it just fine. A typical Kilik quote: “I don’t want to say anything because I will ruin it. It’s just fine.” Boy, those words helped me more than you can imagine. You know the repertoire and the techniques for both E-flat and bass clarinet. My being able to play (or attempt to play!) those instruments gave me entree into a literature that I never could have imagined performing on the standard clarinet. Your knowledge of the instruments from mouthpiece to bell helped me to get a far better sound and to gain almost enough information to ask Mark J. intelligent questions. Well, maybe not quite yet.
And this comment is from Rosemary Banks, the mother of one of Jim’s absolute prize students, Nzinga, who is now in her third year studying jazz at William Paterson University, after hearing from some other students and colleagues of Jim’s at a gathering at Settlement Music School last weekend:
I had always thought Mr. Kilik treated my daughter Nzinga very special by how vigilantly he taught her, and the support he gave outside the classroom. But yesterday I learned he did that with all his students, his friends, his colleagues. That makes me respect and appreciate his integrity and heart even more.

Nzinga and I always said that when she played in New York when she became a famous musician, she would send airfare and front seat tickets to Mr. Kilik. That was our dream. We are still in shock and terribly hurt that he is gone, but for us he will always be there in that front seat—very reserved and thoughtful, but obviously supportive with a kind of suppressed pride.

We will never ever forget him and we miss him so much!
These were Nzinga’s own words:
He was not only a great teacher but a great caring person as well. I had only hoped for him to see me reach the apotheosis of my playing so he could witness all his hard work put into action. He was the best teacher I have ever had and I wouldn't be where I am without him. He was always committed, never late, always went overtime on lessons and always believed in me. I can go on and on about his greatness.
And really capturing the essence of Jim’s gift as a teacher are a few thoughts from Danielle, another of Jim’s prize students from over the years (my mother remembers going with Jim to hear her play Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps).
I really hope he knew what an important part of my life he was—a teacher and a mentor during such a significant part of my growing-up. I so clearly remember my first lessons with him in the basement of Jenkintown SMS. He taught me so much, including perhaps the most important lesson that I come back to so often in my teaching career: to take my own ego out of teaching. He was an amazing teacher and an amazing musician, but at some point he stopped playing at my lessons because he didn’t want me to pick up his own idiosyncrasies. When I went to college and had the option to continue studying with him, he told me it was time to get a different perspective. In my lifetime I don’t think I have ever seen a teacher who was able to make these kinds of decisions and I am so grateful to him. Not to mention the hours and hours of basically free lessons he gave me during summers whenever I needed help.
By emphasizing teaching, I don’t want to downplay Jim’s deep musicianship. I know many other friends and colleagues here who played with Jim over the years would say something similar, but in lieu of a complete roundup I will just share this comment from Mike Shaedel, pianist and Settlement teacher who played with Jim regularly, mostly through the Settlement Contemporary Players:
I enjoyed working with him so much. He was such a fine musician and a fine human being. He had a warm friendliness and seemed to operate completely outside the competitive spirit that often marks the music world. I appreciated that so much, it made working with him such pleasure!
Finally, there Jim’s legacy of generosity and warmth to friends and family. He was the partner my wonderful mother deserved her whole life and was lucky enough to find in the middle of both their lives.

I have many fond memories of Jim around the house – eating a banana for breakfast every day, on the rationale that the potassium in it was essential for heart health (when explaining this, he used to make a little gesture as of a creature keeling over dead like a canary in a coal mine); calling out “WHEEEEEE!” as he drove over a pothole, of which Philadelphia streets have very many (I should add, on the theme of generosity, that the reason I was so often in a car with Jim was that he was always eager to help my mom out by ferrying her visiting children around town as needed!); doing a 50-mile charity bicycle ride with me and my brother Michael and his lovely wife Jessi, who had a special connection with Jim (Jessi said recently that it was only in conversation with Jim that she learned that the “P&P” had an actual name, and that those letters stood for Pen and Pencil – they had both had stages of Philadelphia life, not at the same time, in which they regularly frequented that legendary joint). Jim had a huge amount of enthusiasm for softball, for bike-riding, for a whole host of errands and tasks that made my mother’s life easier.

Jim and my mother were devoted partners for twenty years, and in the wake of Jim’s cancer diagnosis in late December they got married officially in January. I wish we had had more time to celebrate that union. The final thing I want to tell you about, and I think it’s my favorite memory when I think of Jim, is just the way he used to say my mother’s name. “Caroline” – it was immensely fond, affectionate, yet it also had a tone of seriousness acknowledged her authority, and he definitely thought she had the final word on everything that mattered! My mother is all things that are excellent, but she is not eminently teasable, and I think Jim is really the only person who had license to tease her: as, for instance, about the habit that she and I share, of pouring a largish tumbler of whisky late at night before bed – Jim had a particular gesture that I really can’t reproduce, but that I categorize with the canary-in-a-coal-mine bananas-are-full-of-potassium motion, in which his eyes went very wide and his hands moved apart to signal the very massive nature of the tumblerful that tended to get poured!

And on that highly appropriate note, please get another drink and something to eat, and let us return to this excellent music and an evening of stories and reminiscences.