CIFF43 logo

People still ask what movies I saw at this year’s Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF43) back in April. Here’s my list. All-caps indicate a feature film; mixed caps and lowercase indicate a short. These are films I actually saw at the festival–not the films I previewed last year.

We’ve now started screening films for CIFF44, which starts on March 25, 2020.

  • The Elephant’s Song
  • The Double Date
  • Brotherhood
  • The Wild Drive Life
  • All My Guardian Angels
  • Valentino and the Prodigy
  • Lose and Found
  • Deviant
  • The Wind Phone
  • Life in Miniature
  • Borthplace
  • Disfluency
  • Spin
  • Santuario
  • The Corner Store
  • Guaxuma
  • A Mythology of Pleasure
  • Jesse’s Girl
  • The Astronaut
  • Pickle Man
  • Skin

No Rush to Judgment in SCOTUS Decision

Here’s my letter to Senators Brown and Portman:

Let me be clear about my political leanings on Judge Kavanaugh. I have no idea what he did or didn’t do as a high school or college student. That doesn’t mean it isn’t important. What’s more important is what he does in this moment. And seeing and evaluating that will require time.

Continue reading “No Rush to Judgment in SCOTUS Decision”

Points Raised, Solutions Elusive

The education alternatives David Osborne offered at The City Club on Friday were thought-provoking but flawed.

I value the work of the Cleveland City Club, and I’m proud to serve on its Education Committee, where we work to bring presenters to the podium of America’s oldest free speech forum. The Education Committee is a diverse group, with members representing a wide variety of interests. The City Club aims to bring a wide variety of opinions to the podium, and sometimes I attend presentations where I expect I won’t hear much that I like. (We should all do more of that.) Friday’s was one of those.

Continue reading “Points Raised, Solutions Elusive”

Recovering Nicely, Thank You

Ever since my November 10 surgery on a biceps tendon, people have asked how I’m doing. I’m gratified that they care, and I’ll put some answers here. I’m trying to approach this whole episode as  a learning experience, and perhaps some will find it interesting.

I tore the tendon playing golf last summer.1 The conservative initial treatment consisted basically of watching to see if it healed, as a strain would. But it didn’t, so eventually an MRI confirmed a “high-grade” tear 2 of my right distal biceps tendon. 3

My pain and movement limitations weren’t too bad at that point, but if the damage weren’t repaired it could easily tear the rest of the way, which is more painful, disabling, and complicated to treat. The repair is interesting, as shown in this unthreatening YouTube video. My surgeon, Dr. Scott Zimmer, has a couple of twists on the procedure shown there, but overall the video offers a pretty accurate look at the surgery he performed.

For the first week, a half-cast immobilized the arm while the incision was covered by a bandage. The main job of the half-cast was to immobilize the arm  and give the incision a chance to heal. The first week was inconvenient not significantly painful. Mostly I was tired, taking a lot of naps. I took some ibuprofen but avoided the available Percocet.

A week after the surgery, a physical therapist replaced the half-cast with a brace, which allows more movement. It’s also removable for cleaning and for the exercises which she prescribed. I’ve been doing those religiously ever since.

The stitches were removed on Wednesday, and I learned that I will be wearing the brace until December 20, although I can take it off when I’m sitting around or doing the prescribed exercises.

I can drive, but long distances wouldn’t be advisable. I can type and write, but poorly and with some pain. I am exercising to regain range of motion. Everything takes longer than it normally would, especially since I’m right-handed.4 And I’m tired: even today, over two weeks since the surgery, I still take a lot of naps.

Until I see him next, the doctor wants me to wear the brace when playing the piano. Practicing with the brace is awkward and irritating. I’ll start regular physical therapy next week, so things could change if I make spectacular progress. 5 Full recovery and normal strength is measured in months, not weeks. I don’t expect my right hand to have normal strength right away, but I tend to be too loud anyway.

So, if you’re one of those wondering how it’s going, now you know.

  1. Right. It took me 67 years to get a sports injury.
  2. “High-grade” means more than half.
  3. “Distal” means away from the body’s midpoint, as opposed to “medial.” The biceps is anchored to the shoulder and the forearm: medial tendons connect the biceps to the shoulder in two places while the distal tendon connects it to the forearm at a bump called the radial tuberosity. That’s where I tore mine. And I’ve learned that “biceps” is both plural and singular.
  4. Showering and dressing in particular are a challenge. So many people have related their stories of leaky plastic bags that I have to share this photo of a device known as a “cast cover.” A sanity saver!
  5. I plan to play one of the 4:00 Christmas Eve masses at Church of the Resurrection, as I have for the past several years.

Mary Taylor Speaks at the City Club

These days Republican candidates are under a lot of pressure to establish that they are True Conservatives, and  that means embracing school choice, low taxes, and business interests. But it hasn’t been that long since the state’s largest teachers’ union endorsed Republican Mary Taylor for State Representative in 2004.

Now she’s Ohio’s Lieutenant Governor, and she is running to succeed term-limited John Kasich as Ohio’s next Governor in the 2018 election.

So it was natural that I wanted to see her “Meet the Candidates” appearance on July 7 at The City Club of Cleveland. As most of my readers and friends know, I am pretty much a single-issue voter. It’s not that I don’t care about other issues, but I know more and care more about education than any of the other topics. (And it’s pretty much the only topic on which people ever ask for my opinion.)

Taylor identifies as a conservative, but on education she downplays ideology. She affirmed her support for school choice, but she also pointed out the need for charter school accountability. Perhaps more important, she recognizes that charter schools were originally envisioned as laboratories to try out education innovations–not just to provide competition for the public schools. She wants to bridge what she sees as an excessively sharp division in K-12 education between college prep and career training tracks.

You can hear or see the whole session on The City Club’s website; or you can focus on what she said about education. Here are points I identified from the audio podcast: you can hear all three in less than five minutes.

  • At 17:29, she makes her position statement on education, and this is where she mentions her concern about the separation between college prep and career education.
  • At 28:30, you can hear her address my stock question to candidates for Governor: “What will a Mary Taylor administration do to maintain and improve Ohio’s common schools?” You can judge for yourself how successfully she answered the question.
  • At 50:00, she answers a Twitter question about vouchers.

All three comments are important to understanding her stance on education, and you can listen and draw your own conclusions.

Four Republicans are running already for Governor, and it’s likely that one of them will represent their party in the fall 2018 election. Even Democrats like me need to pay attention to their positions. I plan to ask my question to as many of the candidates as possible, and I’ll report my impressions here.





































































































































The First Day of . . .

Many who will read this page know that I retired yesterday. My retirement from NEOEA was a “long goodbye,” and over the past year many have asked the question that retirees hear so often: “What are your plans?”

I haven’t really had an answer, but I do have some guesses. I have been fortunate to have a wide variety of interests, and they have always competed with each other. So within the next month or so I’ll begin to see what I enjoy the most and what I miss the most, and that should give me some direction.

At the heart of my expectations would be family and friends: enjoying our children and grandchildren, doing further genealogy exploration, and reconnecting with friends I’ve been too busy to see.

I will continue to play and sing the music that has always been such a joy to me. I’m looking forward to mastering the “retirement camera” I bought a couple of weeks ago. I have plenty of things to work on in our house and my workshop. I need to read more, write more, cook more, see some movies, and attend some concerts. I continue to care about the state of society and especially our responsibility to educate future generations. I plan to start paying attention to my health.

And I’ve been preparing this website. My friend Dan Dyer is perhaps my biggest role model: his “Dawn Reader” blog provides an excellent example of retirement energy well-spent online.

As Dag Hammerskjöld wrote (Markings, 1864): “For all that has been–thanks. For all that will be–yes.”

That’s a Wrap

It’s time for one last post before putting our campaign to bed.

Since learning of our loss yesterday, many people have called or written to ask how I’m doing. I’m doing just fine, thank you. You can’t run for office if you can’t take defeat, and from the beginning it was clear that winning this race would be a heavy lift. I’m proud of the campaign we ran, proud of all of you who helped out, and proud of the trust you placed in me to advocate for what we know is best for kids.

During the campaign, I met hundreds of people and made many friends. I also learned some valuable lessons.

  • People value high-quality public schools for all students, and they are looking for candidates with a positive vision for education and society.
  • Despite the distrust that exists between different segments of our diverse district–as in society itself–we have more in common than we sometimes realize.
  • You’re never too old to develop greater self-understanding. Campaigning taught me things about myself. This isn’t the place for specifics: ask me sometime, preferably over a pint.
  • Regardless of their political persuasion, candidates–especially entry-tier candidates–are heroes. I met many wonderful candidates giving freely of their time, talents, money, and energy to make things better.
  • “Commitment, service, and leadership” isn’t just a slogan: it’s a summation of what we should demand of officeholders in general and State School Board members in particular.

So, to answer the question several people have asked: If I had known a year ago that this would be the result, would I do it again? Oh, yes. I wouldn’t have missed it.

All of which doesn’t make losing less painful, but it helps to keep a sense of proportion. My race was just a small footnote in a much larger, historic election. If Campaign 2016 was a national tragedy, as I believe, then in that context my own setback will seem pretty small.

A lot of people are sad today. Let’s pray for our country and, especially, her children.

This post originally appeared on the website of my 2016 campaign for State Board of Education,

Election Eve

As I write this, polls will open in ten hours. Twenty-four hours or so from now, we’ll know the result of this amazing adventure.

By tomorrow, this campaign will have taken up exactly a year from November 8, 2015, when friends from Warrensville Heights, Aurora, Bedford, and Twinsburg stood with me at Bay High School as I announced my candidacy for the State Board of Education.

Since then it seems that we have been on a treadmill, but I have never doubted the importance of the voters’ decision or the value of this effort.

Tomorrow we’ll see what the voters decide. I probably won’t write one of these columns tomorrow. Afterwards, there will be a time for thanks, and a time for reflection, and sadness or joy to express. But for now, let’s do our duty as citizens. See you at the polls tomorrow!

This post originally appeared on the website of my 2016 campaign for State Board of Education,