So, um, I got distracted this weekend, which explains a little bit why this edition of the Weekend Reader is being posted late on Sunday afternoon. My apologies, although I have a modicum of an excuse, which I’ll hint at below. In the meantime, if you wanted to hang onto some of these stories for reading later in the week, your secret is safe with me.
As you might imagine, the weekend brought a lot of coverage of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Some of the stories I read were first-rate, but more than a few came across as by-the-numbers coverage, with little if anything new to offer. But maybe the best Sept. 11 story I saw this season came from Jennifer Senior of The Atlantic, who took a deep dive into the death of one 9/11 victim, Bobby McIlvaine, and explored how his death has torn apart his family over the past two decades. It’s not an easy read, and you might cry at the end, but the tears are earned.
Speaking of 9/11 anniversaries, I should note that Diane and I were married on Sept. 11, 1982 (in a chapel in the basement of a movie theater in Missoula, but that’s another story entirely). We celebrated our 39th anniversary Saturday at one of our favorite haunts in Corvallis, Magenta. We dined outside; it was a perfect evening in Corvallis and the restaurant was relatively uncrowded, thanks to the OSU football game a mile or so down the road. Since 2001, of course, the day has taken on a bittersweet taste for me; I tried to write a column on this topic for the Gazette-Times a few years ago, but I couldn’t get the tone right and abandoned it; it’s one of the very few pieces I started for the paper that I didn’t finish, but that’s mainly because when deadlines loom, you usually go with what you’ve got. I might take another run at that piece for the blog sometime, though. Maybe next September.
Jack Forrest of The Oregonian/OregonLive checks in with a story with some good news: The state’s 2021 wildfire season has not been nearly as brutal as last year’s season. But that news comes with an asterisk: The 2021 season isn’t over yet — some fires continue to burn and wildland conditions are such that we could see additional blazes as summer winds down. And, of course, there’s a bigger asterisk hanging over all of this: Climate change means that wildfire season is going to keep starting earlier and ending later than in years past.
Here’s a COVID-19 angle that probably hasn’t occurred to you, unless you’re a pet owner who’s needed to get your pet into a veterinary clinic for emergency surgery: Austin Jenkins of OPB reports how veterinary hospitals and clinics are desperately overwhelmed these days. And even though your pets don’t have the coronavirus, the pandemic is still to blame for this.
If you’ve been reading me for a while (I can’t imagine why, but thanks!), you know of my high regard for poetry. In that light, I enjoyed this column by Tish Harrison Warren, a priest in the Anglican Church in North America and the writer of a new opinion newsletter in The New York Times, about why poetry is so crucial right now.
Finally this weekend, a couple of pieces from the arts-and-entertainment beat. The Atlantic’s David Sims, a reliable reviewer, has crafted a somewhat suspect list of 26 movies that critics hated but deserve second looks. Sims goes well beyond the usual titles you see in lists like these — he includes movies such as “Jason X” and “Halloween III: Season of the Witch.” Is there a movie that you thought didn’t deserve the critical derision it earned upon release? List it in the comments section below.
Guitarist and songwriter Lindsey Buckingham, who was fired from Fleetwood Mac, is about to release his first solo album in 10 years. To mark the occasion, Lindsay Zoladz of The New York Times has a long profile of Buckingham that’s a must-read for fans of Buckingham, one of pop music’s most notable eccentrics. And fans of Fleetwood Mac will want to check out the story, which is packed with juicy details, including a rundown of what Mac fans now call “the smirking incident.”
That’s it for this weekend; I’ll see what I can do to get next week’s edition out in a more timely fashion. And I wasn’t even smirking as I wrote those words.