The pumpkins, penny candy and neighborly hordes of goblins and ghosts shouting “Trick or treat!” remind us of the ancients and their belief that the souls of the dead must be appeased. But it’s the days that follow Halloween that most interest me. All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are time set aside to…

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THE University of Michigan had a chance to shine at the end of February when our symphony orchestra toured by bus from Ann Arbor to Carnegie Hall. The musicians made stops at Oberlin and Cornell before getting to West 57th Street. Kenneth Kiesler, our maestro, selected Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and a new composition by a…

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“DEMOCRACY is untidy,” said Donald Rumsfeld. “It sure is,” we Michiganders nod, watching our state legislators navigate fecklessly between tax increases and budget cuts trying to keep Lansing’s ship of state afloat. The autumn has been spent under the threat of a government shutdown over the state budget imbroglio. The big solution: a “service tax”…

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The men I have coffee with most mornings in town are all in what we never call the last trimester of our lives. We’re winding down, golfing more, worried that what’s ahead won’t be as good as what’s gone before. We are retiring or retirees. Our memories are more certain than our prospects. Some things,…

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HE big cemetery with the name like a golf course out on the Interstate across from the mall was seized by a state conservator this winter. Seems someone took the money — $70 million in prepaid trust funds — and ran. It’s one of those theme park enterprises with lawn crypts and cheap statuary and…

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Last year they opened a new Irish pub on Main Street here. O’Callaghan’s they call it, and it’s owned by two Palestinians who did it up in high Paddy style, with snugs and dark hardwoods, Guinness and designer lagers and a couple of imported boyos behind the bar. The décor came from Dublin in a…

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Review By THOMAS LYNCH Sex and the dead, William Butler Yeats wrote to Olivia Shakespear nearly 80 years ago, are the only two topics that “can be of the least interest to a serious and studious mind.” Sandra M. Gilbert got close to the first topic more than 25 years ago in her groundbreaking study…

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Like President Bush, I enjoy clearing brush in August. We both like quittance of the suit and tie, freedom from duty and detail and to breathe deeply the insouciant air of summer. He makes for his ranch in Crawford, Tex., a town with no bars and five churches. I come to my holdings near Carrigaholt,…

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Moveen, Ireland — IMAGES of the papal wake dominated the news this week: the dead man’s body vested, mitered, laid out among his people in St. Peter’s Square, blessed with water and incense, borne from one station to the next in a final journey. Such images – along with the idea that millions of people…

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From the cottage I keep in West Clare, I sometimes look across the Shannon Estuary to the Kerry Hills. From the end of the peninsula, I can make out Ballybunion, where Bill Clinton golfed in September 1998, in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky imbroglio. Back in Washington, Senator Joseph Lieberman was calling Mr. Clinton’s…

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