EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+

There we sat, Mom and I, side by side on the piano bench. A mirror on the panel above the keyboard reflected our fingers, perched to perform. Deadly piano-playing duo? Not quite. You see, I had decided to teach Mom to play the piano. She was in her mid-50s; I was 13.

Perhaps a grade eight history-teaching project had infected me with the teaching bug. More likely it was connected to Dad’s second bout with cancer. At the hospital, the radiation had zapped his tumor. Now he was back home and had returned to work, but Mom and I were left with the aftermath of his life/death ordeal. We needed a diversion to keep us sane in this sudden change to supposedly safe routine. Besides, my music credentials were impeccable — five years of learning Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin on our pink Roxatone-coated piano.

“FACE,” I pointed to the white keys straddling the middle of the keyboard, “That’s middle C.” I followed the methods of my own piano teacher, Miss Garlick.

Every Saturday morning at ten a.m., I walked four and a half blocks to private lessons in Miss Garlick’s basement studio. Despite her name, she exuded sweetness and competence when her fingers flew along the piano keys of her black upright or black baby grand. Her pink puffy cheeks and short grey hair gave her the appearance of everybody’s grandmother. More… “Don’t Look Down”

Sharon A. Crawford, a former journalist, is a freelance memoir and fiction writer, writing instructor, blogger, book reviewer, editor, and actor. Sharon was Writer-in-Residence (2009 to 2014) with the Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch, currently is a member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, Toronto Heliconian Club, and runs the East End Writers’ Group. Sharon writes the Beyond mystery series. Her latest mystery novel is Beyond Faith. Visit Sharon’s website https://samcraw.com/ and her author blog https://sharonacrawfordauthor.com/.

EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+
EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+

Existential crises are by no means exclusive to students in the liberal arts (think the bearded Beat emanating a cloud of hand rolled tobacco smoke, nauseated by these two options: to drop out and hitchhike cross country or attend his Intro to Western Phil class). The burdens of years of scholarly toil, the substantial time in esoteric animal labs, the hypercompetitive pursuit of graduate study lead many students in the sciences to also question: What’s the point of it all? The rigors of the pursuit of knowledge as a means to a career in medicine weigh down too many bright young minds such that by the time the goal is met, the soul is bruised and weary. More… “Death Meets the Doctor”

Nikhil Barot, MD is Assistant Professor of Medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+
EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+

First thing’s first: If you heard yesterday that bacon is just as likely to give you cancer as smoking cigarettes, you heard wrong. Take a deep breath and get the whole story. (Wired)

The tables were turned on one of the most interviewed people of the past seven years. This time, Barack Obama was asking the questions and Marilynne Robinson, novelist and essayist, was answering. (The New York Review of Books)

Charles Shultz’s“adorable” little characters were called “Peanuts” by just about everyone but him. Charlie Brown’s love, the Little Red-Haired Girl, was never meant to be drawn. The long-running comic strip appealed to adults and children and sometimes had a dark side. Now, all that is being flipped on its head in the shiny new Peanuts Movieand Shultz may be rolling in his grave. Take a look back on 65 years of Linus, Lucy, Charlie, and, most importantly, Snoopy. (The Atlantic) •

Maren Larsen is the associate editor of The Smart Set. She is a digital journalism student, college radio DJ, and outdoor enthusiast.

EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+
EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+

A former hedge fund manager’s recent decision to increase the price of a pill from $18 to $750 has sparked interest in prescription drug pricing and sales. This drug isn’t optional: It’s the standard treatment for taxoplasmosis, an illness that mainly affects those with compromised immune systems due to HIV or cancer. But when it comes to non-lifesaving pharmaceuticals, companies rely on advertising to get the word out. In article from our archives, Greg Beato discusses how the restrictions on drug advertising may be helping out the advertisers in the long run.

Critics of prescription drug ads contend that one reason they’re so effective is because they’re so misleading. But while it’s true that few prescription drug ads, if any, go out of their way to call attention to the shortcomings of their products, there’s an alternate explanation for their success: Prescription drug ads are amongst the most honest content that appears on TV. •

Read It: Drug Deals by Greg Beato

Get in touch with The Smart Set at editor@thesmartset.com.

EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponGoogle+

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held its annual convention in Chicago recently, and I was there. Let me make clear at once that I am not a member of this august body but am instead married to someone who is; I was thus in the logistical position to report (with some admitted bias) on the proceedings.

ASCO is a big organization, and its members engulfed the city. Everywhere I looked, disheveled men and women could be seen carrying over-the-shoulder ASCO satchels and leafing through behemothian ASCO Convention Proceedings. Only Chicago and Orlando have convention centers big enough to accommodate the more than 30,000 doctors, researchers, drug company representatives, and sundry others attached to the cancer industry who attend this meeting each year. And although Orlando has hosted on occasion, there’s a certain dissonance in talking about myeloma in the morning and visiting Mickey Mouse in the afternoon. Chicago,… More…

 

I have a rare form of cancer. I only have a few months left. Can you offer any consolation? — Yuki M.

I will try. I don’t know if you’re afraid or not, but I would be, and maybe what you’re afraid of is not dying, but rather love. I guess that does sound a little far-fetched, but when you look at it another way, it’s the only thing that makes sense.

Crater Lake

There was a war between good and evil. We decided to call the body good.

That made death evil. It turned the soul Against death completely.

Like a foot soldier wanting to serve a great warrior, the soul wanted to side with the body.

It turned against the dark, against the forms of death it recognized.

Where does the voice come from that says… More…