Choosing my new icon

According to Mirriam-Webster, there are several definitions of the word “icon.” I bring this up because WordPress gave me the opportunity to change the icon associated with this blog yesterday, when I decided to change the theme for the first time in several years. I don’t know what the theme was called. or what theContinue reading “Choosing my new icon”

Pick up a pen, start writing

My heroes are writers. I’ve come to realize this in recent years, probably in some small part because of my experiences with this blog. It will be five years next month that I took the plunge and started collecting my thoughts and stories in one place. And I wish I had started it earlier thanContinue reading “Pick up a pen, start writing”

Complicated and off-kilter

  I’m a big Abraham Lincoln fan, and I’ve written about statues of him, and busts, and artworks, and really anything else I could find. But Lincoln Avenue has somehow escaped my attention, until now. Last night I found myself driving down Lincoln Avenue in Chicago, and I realized a couple of things. There areContinue reading “Complicated and off-kilter”

A night at the theater

149 years ago this evening, Abraham Lincoln went to see a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington city (as they called it then). Many years later, I went to see a play in Ford’s Theater. The box that Lincoln sat in that night is still on display, and there was a feeling of sadness inContinue reading “A night at the theater”

The golden arches and Abe Lincoln’s hat

I took this picture yesterday as I was waiting at a red light in Chicago. I love this view, and I could probably crop out the McDonald’s sign attached to his stovepipe hat, but why not leave it in, instead? Would Lincoln eat McDonalds, if he were alive today? We’ll never know for certain, butContinue reading “The golden arches and Abe Lincoln’s hat”

A Thanksgiving message from the founding fathers

With the arrival of Thanksgiving day, everyone turns their attention to Abraham Lincoln and the proclamation that made this into a national holiday. My love and respect for Lincoln has been well-established here, but thanks to some online research, I found a Thanksgiving story that pre-dates Lincoln. And it has a lesson for our times,Continue reading “A Thanksgiving message from the founding fathers”

A reason to admire Lincoln

I write about Lincoln all the time here, and there’s a reason for that. He righted this nation’s greatest wrong, and he lifted the scourge that undercut everything America claimed to stand for. He made the nation that calls itself “the land of the free” into a closer approximation of that. And if we don’tContinue reading “A reason to admire Lincoln”

A Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address

Today I had some time on my hands, and a clear mission in mind. I wanted to film myself reciting the Gettysburg Address and upload it to, a once-in-a-lifetime project to record and upload Lincoln’s speech for posterity. There’s still some time to do this, as I type this out three days before theContinue reading “A Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address”

Lincoln would have loved this

Today was the first time that I had ever been inside Carl Schurz High School on the northwest side of Chicago. It’s over a hundred years old, which gives it a historical cache that many schools just don’t have. I found my way to the library,  which has a scale to it that I’ve neverContinue reading “Lincoln would have loved this”

The coolest place I can think of

As a certified baseball junkie, and an Abraham Lincoln fan to boot, I can’t think of a better place to visit than where I am right now. When Lincoln was riding the legal circuit in Central Illinois, before anyone knew his name, he came to Postville park in a town that would one day bearContinue reading “The coolest place I can think of”

Only in Springfield

Last weekend, my Chicago family (wife and two daughters) and I drove to Springfield to visit my family there (parents, two brothers, sister, and two nephews). It was a great day, and I couldn’t have been any happier with how everything went. And I even stumbled upon a Lincoln story, entirely by accident. But thoseContinue reading “Only in Springfield”

Here’s why the Civil War began

With the attention being paid to the battle at Gettysburg–the Civil War’s pivotal moment–it bears repeating why the war started in the first place. It’s really not that complicated, but it cannot be brushed aside, either. In 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas were running for a seat in the U.S. senate. They agreedContinue reading “Here’s why the Civil War began”

My lifelong Lincoln tour continues

Growing up in Springfield, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln comes to you through osmosis. Lincoln’s Home, Lincoln’s Tomb, the Old State Capitol where the “House Divided” speech was delivered, it’s all right there. And I’ve been to them all. And it’s expanded into other Lincoln sites outside of Springfield: The Lincoln Memorial and Ford’s Theatre in DC,Continue reading “My lifelong Lincoln tour continues”

Nothing trumps Lincoln, but…

When I saw Lincoln on the screen last year, I felt like a kid on the last day of school. There was so much to look forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. It was the movie of a lifetime for this ardent Lincoln buff, who was born up the road from where Lincoln lived, andContinue reading “Nothing trumps Lincoln, but…”

A Lincoln apparition

I’m glad that Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln lived up to my expectations of it. It was a great movie that told a great story in a riveting way. It will win several Oscars when the time comes, and it deserves to. I don’t think anyone’s going to try bringing Lincoln to the screen again for aContinue reading “A Lincoln apparition”

A couple of interesting Lincoln views

One of the perks of being a history geek is having some interesting old things. A piece I wrote about Mount Rushmore yesterday triggered a memory of an old issue of American Heritage from 1977. At about the same time Star Wars was redefining the movies forever, the self-proclaimed “Magazine of History” ran a story about theContinue reading “A couple of interesting Lincoln views”

An alternate version of Lincoln’s words

Everybody knows the Gettysburg Address, or at least the version of it that appears in every history book you’ll ever see, and on the wall inside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C, and in other public places as well. But I recently came upon a slightly different version of it, and I wanted to shareContinue reading “An alternate version of Lincoln’s words”

Government of the people, by the people, and for the people

There’s a reason why, in a society where “that’s so last year” is a put-down, Lincoln still rings true. The man’s been dead for nearly a century and a half now, but he spoke the words, and wrote the words, that we all need to understand if we’re going to consider ourselves to be Americans.Continue reading “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people”

Seven score and nine years ago

I had a few moments in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago this evening–on the 149th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address–and so I made a modern-day pilgrimage to the Standing Lincoln statue nearby. Lincoln’s speech is nothing less than amazing, in terms of its forceful and determined statement of what the battle meant, and theContinue reading “Seven score and nine years ago”

Loved the movie, but hated the green screens

I couldn’t wait until Lincoln came out, and so last weekend I went to the only theater in Chicago that’s showing it. I was drawn into the story of how Lincoln got the 13th Amendment to the Constitution passed through a lame duck Congress. I’ll never take Lincoln’s political skills for granted again. But I’mContinue reading “Loved the movie, but hated the green screens”

In praise of writers, one and all

I often write about death in this space. I’ve paid tribute to astronauts,  rappers, rock stars, ballplayers, and even people I never knew. And there has to be a reason that I go to, and write about, estate sales as much as I do. Death is an important part of life, and to be fullyContinue reading “In praise of writers, one and all”

Quarterly report #3

When I wrote my last quarterly report back in December of 2011, I pointed out that the end of this quarter comes right before the start of the baseball season. I’m a baseball guy at heart, and have been since I was a little kid, so the thought of baseball season starting up again helpedContinue reading “Quarterly report #3”

A jewel of a sculpture

Chicago never ceases to amaze me. I’ve lived here for more than twenty years, and I’m always finding unexpected things. Today was just the latest example, and I wanted to take a few minutes to tell the story here. In June of 1865, just a month after Abraham Lincoln’s casket had come through town, ChicagoContinue reading “A jewel of a sculpture”

The best desk calendar

Over the past year, my job allowed me the flexiblity to work from home for long stretches at a time. On the days I was in the office, the first thing I would do is tear off the daily entries for the Lincoln desk calendar that I received as a gift last Christmas. Lincoln’s wordsContinue reading “The best desk calendar”

Life, Death, Alcohol and New Jersey

I met up with a friend recently when I was visiting New York. It was the day after Clarence Clemons had died, and since my friend lives in New Jersey I offered him my condolences. He told me that if you don’t live in New Jersey, you can’t appreciate how much Springsteen and his bandContinue reading “Life, Death, Alcohol and New Jersey”