Court decisions and James Horner

I’m sitting in the Seaside Coffee house, drinking a stinging nettle tea, and planning the best way to get to all the stuff I have to talk about today. I can feel the wind from the cold day sixteen years ago I first wandered away from a Welsh pub called the Village Green, climbed over a hedgerow, and wound up lost in a field of nettles. When I got out, it was like having dozens of tiny but pervasive bees lodged in my shins. I don’t think I’ve cried for that long since.

Of course, back then, I had no idea you could drink the bloody things, or make soup out of them. Nor that my job would eventually involve waist-high fields of pointy things. Time has made a change in me, indeed.

Today’s first big deal is of course the Supreme Court, who last week followed their usual method of making significant decisions all at once and then fleeing town (my high school theater director, whom I hated with a passion I now reserve only for 100-degree weather, whistling, and Channing Tatum, used the same tactic for posting cast lists). I have very ambiguous feelings about the highest court in the land. On the one hand, their secrecy is excessive, but on the other hand, in the 21st century, it might be necessary to have at least one branch of government that operates out of the public eye. On the one hand, they have far too much power to dictate policy; on the other, I recognize the hypocrisy of complaining about “judicial activism” only when I disagree with the decision. In the end, I think my reservations about the Court stem more from people misappropriating them for political purposes than for anything they themselves have done. But they could easily just refuse to hear such obviously political cases…like I said. Complicated.

But these are questions for next week. Now’s the time to celebrate. King v. Burwell, the case that will allow millions of people to continue going to the doctor, and Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that finally universalizes the government protections of marriage, will join Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education on the “good” side of the court scale, where they have a lot of work to do balancing out Bush v. Gore, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, and D.C. v. Heller. So, in the name of celebration, here is my favorite equality picture.


This is a good day to be American. It’s always been a journey, not a destination, and the redemption of this country will never quite be finished. But today I raise a nettle tea to my homeland.

Next up, I wanted to take some time to acknowledge the life of James Horner. I haven’t been so sad about a famous death since Terry Pratchett, partly since I always hoped Horner would score the movie version of one of my books someday–I love his Celtic touches and his bombast. Here’s the main theme from Braveheart, which still makes me grieve for 800-year-old history:

And “Southampton” from Titanic, which always makes me forget that the ship is going to sink:

Rest peacefully, James.

Just as a final note, Celtic music is wonderful, isn’t it? I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this already, but strong melodies that plumb the reaches of the scales in both directions, performed on simple instruments, are the apex of music for me. The whole Northern European tradition offers that in spades. Expect more to come.


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