To mangle a familiar quotation from Tolstoy, all regions of Italy are different, but each is Italian in its own particular way.
Suppose the Italian regions were women (humor me here). Lombardia would be a glamorous but unapproachable Milan model. I see Emiglia-Romagna as a wealthy, slightly dowdy widow. Umbria would be the wholesome, friendly girl next door. Unlike the American girl next door where I live, however, this one is a terrific cook.
On cable TV, there's a whole truckload of reality shows that make fun of working-class, white Southern culture. They are some of the most popular and talked about new shows, too, such as Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty.
MTV tried cashing in on the redneck TV trend with its own hyped-up platform for young Southern kids behaving badly, Buckwild. It played like a Southern-fried version of Jersey Shore. Its stars were a dimwitted crew of young people in West Virginia drinking hard and riding pickup trucks through ditches filled with mud.
My friend the Sports Curmudgeon called me the other day: "Hey, Frank, I got a few things to get off my chest." He was about to take off on a Fantasy Fan cruise, where devoted sports buffs are drafted as fans for desperate losing teams, but he promised to text me his complaints once the ship got out to sea.
Sure enough, here came the Sports Curmudgeon's latest rants.
In an effort to find a compromise for a politically fraught issue, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a proposal to make the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B more available to some younger teens without a prescription and to older women by moving the medication out from behind the pharmacy counter.
On Tuesday afternoon, President Obama declared May as Older Americans Month, National Foster Care Month, National Building Safety Month, Jewish American Heritage Month and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.
The president also issued a statement on the investiture of the new king of the Netherlands.
While small and routine, these moves were all easy to understand, as were the accompanying proclamations from the White House press shop.
Not long ago, the idea of Fleetwood Mac ever touring again seemed far-fetched at best. But as of this spring, not only is the band back on the road — according to drummer and founder Mick Fleetwood, they're having an easier time filling seats than in the past.
It's the end of an era at the Little Art Theatre in Yellow Springs, Ohio. On Tuesday, the theater will run its old, 35 mm film projector for the last time. Then, starting Wednesday, it will close for several months to install an expensive new digital projection system.
You expect to find great trees in city parks and botanical gardens. But you might not expect to find ancient or unusual trees in the inner city or smack dab in the middle of a highway.
Benjamin Swett has a love of trees so deep that he's written pamphlets about them, created photo exhibits and now has a new book, New York City of Trees. His book has pictures and stories of some 60 trees in the city.
I took a walk with him to some of the great trees, often in unexpected places.