Skip to content

Category Archives: Culture

Tolkien on HBO

I resisted watching this, because I was afraid that the film had turned the story of Tolkien’s life into yet another costume romance for, and about, twenty-somethings set in all the usual sorts of glamorous British settings. In fact, it is that, and it requires that we re-imagine the quintessential white-haired and tweedy Oxford professor […]

Back from the Dark Ages: Leeks

Leeks, where have you been all my life? As I was making yet another pot of leek and potato soup today, I found myself wondering: When did I first see leeks? Why have I never seen them growing? Just when did they start showing up in grocery stores this time of year? I don’t really […]

A dry history of interesting times

The Oxford History of Anglo-Saxon England. Sir Frank Stenton, Oxford University Press, 1943. 766 pages. Robin Hood? King Arthur? We all know the myths about Anglo-Saxon England. But if we were called upon to name a fact or two about Anglo-Saxon England, most of us would just scratch our heads. For a long time, I […]

Could it happen again?

Decent Americans are horrified by the fact that 45 percent of American voters would vote for a con man like Donald Trump. Having lived in the American South for much of my life and having known many Republican jackasses, and having observed as these people have been manipulated and misled since the televangelist days, I […]

Georgia on our minds

It’s Friday night, and we’re still waiting for the media to call the election. Once we’ve won the White House, all civilized eyes will turn to the Georgia Senate runoffs in January, America’s only hope for a Congress that will work with President Biden. Everyone seems to be listening to some version of “Georgia on […]

хор мальчиков хорового училища им.М.И.Глинки

Russia, just now — as has often been the case — is poorly regarded and even feared in the West. But we might do well to keep in mind that the Russian people and the Russian oligarchs in the Kremlin are two very different Russias. While watching a great many music videos on YouTube for […]

Wild persimmons — and persimmon pudding

Persimmon pudding and cognac. Click here for high-resolution version. I had persimmon pudding today for the first time in at least 50 years. If you’ve ever once had persimmon pudding, you’ll never forget it, because there’s nothing else like it. I have my own persimmon trees now at last, so I have done my best […]

The Schubert Generation ★★★★

The PBS network has started a new season of “Great Performances.” The premiere of “The Schubert Generation” was Sept. 25, and it’s now available for streaming on the PBS web site (but only for a few weeks). I don’t think there has ever been a bad episode of “Great Performances.” It’s a cultural lifeline for […]

Enola Holmes ★★★★

The plot is a bit shaggy. But no matter. It’s enough of a plot to tie together all the necessary ingredients for an entertaining romp around old England — mystery, some thrilling train scenes, spooky old houses, some carriage rides, villains, fights, and even some fireworks. The heroine is Enola Holmes, the younger sister of […]

Wigtown podcast with Ken and Astrid

Here at the abbey in April 2020, at the baby’s six-month-old half-birthday party. For some years now, Ken and Astrid have been regulars at the Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland. This year, because of Covid-19, the book festival will be virtual. As one of the virtual events, here is an excellent 30-minute podcast from Wigtown […]