It’s Sunday and Kat’s leaving today.
Arrived Wednesday night, leaving today, Sunday, @ 1.22pm, going back to Swarthmore.

Wednesday night had a nice. long conversation, as is our wont on her visits, and Thursday we continued the conversation through a long dinner at L’Espalier.

We watched the two episodes of “My Brilliant Friend,” that have already aired. A landmark series.
Saturday night we watched an episode of Victoria, so fine.

Sunday morning is our last quality moment together, a breakfast at a nearby downtown Boston hotel and a conclusion of this set of conversations.
So gratifying.

She’ll return on December 21 for an extended visit, leaving on January 18.

We created holidays to reflect the rhythms of our culture.
For example, the Christmas season giving us a time for respite from the harsh winter to come.
For our students, the harsh winter incorporates the tedium of continued studies.
No ending in sight.

And then Valentine’s Day, auspicious.
The days now noticeably longer.
Spring imminent, or at least, not many weeks left to the winter.
Makes it all doable.


Tagging Today
Monday, November 26, 2018
My 228th consecutive posting.
Time is 12.01am.
Boston’s temperature will reach a high of 47* with rain in the afternoon.

Dinner is to be determined on a trip to the supermarket.

Question of the Day:
How did it come about that Michelangelo chose David as the piece he would sculpt from the Duccio-block?

Posted on November 26

Love your notes.
Contact me @

Here’s one from Sally Chetwynd, taking time from her book launching to pen a most welcomed note.

Dear Dom, 

In the vernacular of the younger generation: OMG!  Amahl and the Night Visitors has been an integral part of my family’s Christmas ever since Menotti wrote it.  It stands head and shoulders above all other Christmas-themed shows or productions with the true meaning of Christmas.   

We as a family were so enthralled with the story that we acquired a vinyl recording of it, and most of us – mother, two brothers, and myself – can sing at least half of it from memory.  I can’t tell you how many times a year my mother and I will exchange some little quote from Amahl, in reference to something we are busy at, like a little joke between us.  The music of the peasants dancing for the kings is particularly lovely.  And I never would have ever heard about all those different kinds of magic stones that Kaspar carries in his box – oooo, lapis lazuli!  Saw some of that yesterday in the Chinese empresses exhibit at Peabody Essex Museum. 

Thank you for posting about the Amahl story, for too few people in the world have even heard of it.  NBC ran it regularly every year until the late 196os.  When they stopped, I (a teenager) wrote to NBC to ask why, and they wrote back to explain that their rights to run it had expired.  Some six or eight years later, when I came home from college for the Christmas holidays, I found a letter from NBC waiting for me, proudly announcing that they had acquired rights once more to air the program, posting the specific date and time for me.  But it seems to have died away again over the years.  I think I will look for a DVD of it to have for my very own. 

Oh, Dom, thank you for remembering Amahl! 


Web Meister Responds: And for us.  Winnie the pooh, Amahl, reading the 1000-page Lord of the Rings, and, as one of my sons reminds me, listening to Dylan Thomas read his own “Child’s Christmas in Wales,” so many cultural moments to share with the next generation.

Short Takes: City Life,
Albania Independence celebration on Boston City Hall and Dom and Lauren at the Winnie the Pooh exhibit at the MFA.

Organizers of the rally.

Second from left:

Second from right:
Lauren and I at the Winnie the Pooh exhibit at the MFA.

Lauren enjoying the Winnie the Pooh exhibit.

Short Takes:
Thanksgiving dinner at L’Espalier was a great success.
Kat and I had a great conversation.
The ambiance and the service were terrific.
But the food was a terrible letdown.
Every course offered, from the amuse bouches to the dessert was well-prepared but so elementary as to be boring.
A major step down from several of the meals I’ve enjoyed there in the last several years.
Not worth the $525.00 for dinner for two.
Not neqarly.

Henceforth I will neither return nor recommend it.


Answer to Question of Day:
Why did Michelangelo choose David as the piece he would sculpt?
This piece is derived from Irving Stone’s “Agony and the Ecstasy” as well as Wikipedia.

Research and Theme Development
The Wool Guild and the Board of Works of the Cathedral announced a competition among sculptors to produce a great work for the city of Florence using the Duccio-block (See entry dated 11/25 for detail of the Duccio-block.)
Even before the commission was awarded, Michelangelo, just finishing the Pieta, had begun reading the Old Testament and Dante for ideas for the damaged seventeen-foot high block, making hundreds of drawings in the process.

Early one morning Michelangelo went out to look at the block as the first rays of sunlight hit it.
The sun cast him as a giant shadow on the block, causing him to think that David must have seen himself as a giant to face down Goliath.
A giant, as the symbol of the new Florence in desperate need of a patriotic symbol.
If awarded, he would sculpt a David.
He burned all previous drawings.

He researched David and was struck by the passages of youth and strength.
“He is sturdy besides, and a tried warrior.”
“Lion or bear, I would catch them by their throat and strangle them.”
Was there any greater feat of strength in the bible?

The Greeks carved bodies from their white marble of such perfect proportion and strength that they could never be surpassed.
But the figures were without mind or spirit.

Michelangelo’s David would be the incarnation of everything Lorenzo de' Medici had been fighting for: a glorious creation capable of beauty, strength, courage, wisdom, faith, in his own kind, with a brain and will and inner power to fashion a world filled with the fruit of man’s creative intellect.

David would be Apollo, but considerably more; the most fully realized man the world had ever seen, functioning in a rational and humane world.

Now to draw this on paper.
Months went by.
Drawings brought him no closer to resolution.

Still confused, Michelangelo bought a marble block about a third the size of the Duccio-block.
Only after he rough-carved the smaller piece did he realize the source of his confusion, trying to sculpt two mutually-exclusive ideas: the moment David conquers, symbolically stepping on Goliath’s head, and the moment he decides to kill Goliath.

If Michelangelo chooses the warrior, David loses complexity: he is a warrior.
So he chooses to portray David at the moment he decides to take on Goliath.
The moment he reaches an exultant height of resolution along with fear, repugnance, hesitation, and doubt.
The moment he becomes a man.


I saved Michelangelo’s commission from the city of Florence in here.

I saved Michelangelo’s commission from the city of Florence in here.

Good morning on this Monday, November 26, a day short of a full month before the main event of the season.
We talked about holidays and rhythms.
Negatively reviewed the food at L’Espalier.
Heard from Sally about Amahl.
Presented some views of City Life and talked about Michelangelo’s inspiration for the David theme.

Che vuoi? Le pocketbook?

See you soon.