“Long Live the Queen!”

Like many Americans, I am an avid watcher of historical television series produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation or other such entities. A case in point was the just-concluded first season of “Victoria,” starring the winsome “Doctor Who” alumna Jenna Coleman in the role of the world’s longest-reigning monarch. Victoria occupied the throne for an…

Genuinely Living in the Past

Faithful readers of this blog will recall that my hobby is Civil War re-enacting. I’ve enjoyed re-enacting for 25 years now, but never pretended that it gave me anything but a sidelong glance into the typical Civil War soldier’s daily life. Therefore, I was delighted recently to encounter the works of British freelance historian Ruth…

Battling the bodhran

Growing up I never had the opportunity to learn music, let alone take up an instrument. While I “inherited” a good tenor voice like my Dad’s, and have enjoyed belonging to a variety of school and church choirs, I never learned to read music, either. I learn vocal pieces solely by repetition and memory. Thus,…

Losses

Anyone exposed to the mass media is likely to feel as though a steady drumbeat of celebrity deaths characterized the year 2016. There were actors (William Christopher, Carrie Fisher, Robert Vaughn, Gene Wilder); sports figures (Muhammad Ali, Joe Garagiola, Gordie Howe, Arnold Palmer); musicians (Leonard Cohen, Glenn Frey, Merle Haggard, Paul Kantner, George Michael, Leon…

The “other” Bruce

In October 2016, famed rocker Bruce Springsteen’s aptly-titled autobiography, “Born to Run,” was published. I look forward to reading this book someday, but permit me to draw your attention to another veteran rock musician, a guy I call “the ‘other’ Bruce,” Canadian singer Bruce Cockburn (CO-burn). Cockburn is no neophyte: born in 1945, since 1970…

Meet “Abby the Wonder Dog”

Generally speaking, the pet-ownership world is reputed to be divided into people that prefer cats, and those that like dogs. I fall into the latter category. I make no judgment of folks that enjoy birds, fish, rodents, horses, amphibians, snakes, reptiles, insects . . . or dinosaurs. Thus far, three Springer Spaniels have graced our…

Sign of the times

As I begin this post, it is important in these turbulent times for readers to understand that I am not using it to make a political statement. Got it? Okay. The United States has been at war for fifteen years in Afghanistan and Iraq; only the Vietnam War, twenty years in duration, lasted longer. For…

“Back to one!” (Part 4)

As the afternoon of filming on a portion of the actual Gettysburg battlefield progressed. we background actors grew antsy: after endless retakes we decided to take matters into our own hands. Crossing the “stop line” on the latest take, we broke into an approximation of the eerie, warbling Rebel yell. Our officers sensed what was…

“Back to one!” (Part 3)

After a drizzly journey that ended by traversing central southern Pennsylvania’s hilly terrain, the Seventh Michigan’s “Gettysburg” contingent arrived at the immense ski lodge near Gettysburg that was to serve as the film’s registration site. Upon signing in each re-enactor received a “Killer Angels Background Artist” tee shirt and ball cap – in blue or…

“Back to one!” (Part 2)

Civil War re-enactors adopt the identities of actual units that took part in the war. Mine, Company B of the Seventh Michigan Volunteer Infantry regiment, formed at the town of Mason in September 1861. The Seventh, comprised of men from throughout Michigan, fought in all the major battles in which the Army of the Potomac…

“Back to one!” (Part 1)

Concussions from an artillery barrage ripple up the backs of Union infantry huddled behind a stone and earthen position nicknamed “The Angle.” Dust raised by cannon blasts swirl around the troops, penetrating their noses and mouths. “Get out of the way!” roars an artilleryman at the prone figures. “Move, move, move!” Several blue-clad soldiers roll…

An official “Re-enactor Mudder”!

Are you familiar with the term “mudder”? Originally it applied to a racehorse that ran well on a muddy or otherwise difficult track. Nowadays its meaning has expanded to include pickup trucks with the same capability. The newest twist is “Tough Mudder,” a $250 million industry in the United States, with over two million participants…