Ned Gallagher in Havana.

Ned Gallagher:
What I’m Up To


First Day of Summer 2023



June Is Bustin’ Out All Over

In many ways the recently concluded school year was a very good one. I had consistently positive experiences with the kids in my classes, on my teams, and in the house where I did evening duty. As a school, we are pretty much back to our pre-pandemic routines now. Our government classes returned to the state and national capitals for the first time in three years and enjoyed one of the best DC trips ever. The JFK Program seniors delivered a strong set of final presentations to wrap up their experience. I was happy to connect with some familiar faces from the ranks of the alumni during Reunion Weekend last month. My tennis team’s top duo won the New England prep school doubles crown in the final weekend of spring sports. I was able to host each of my classes, my teams, the three JFK cohorts, and the residents of Quantrell for social gatherings in my (still new) house in the closing weeks of the school year. And one of my heroes, Billie Jean King, delivered the Commencement address at school in late May. All told, lots of check marks in the “plus” column. So my work life essentially provided some balance to what was, in many ways, a tough year for me personally.

And now, a few brief snippets:

  • This spring I splurged and bought myself an authentic Eames lounge chair (and matching Ottoman) for my study. This iconic piece of furniture design—mid-century modern—was something of a hefty investment, but one I can justify as I spend a lot of time reading books for reasons personal and professional.
the Eames lounge chair
  • This past weekend I indulged in a short road trip to visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt house in Hyde Park, New York, and also catch a couple of Shakespeare performances. Part of my trip itinerary consisted of a few hours in Williamstown, Massachusetts—stomping grounds during my college years. I haven’t been back there in perhaps a decade now. Lots of nostalgia in this visit, as well as the sense that a lot of the campus (and town) has changed dramatically since I lived there. Reliving my undergraduate experience a bit, I did have an irresistable urge to play music by The Police as I cruised around the college grounds!
  • I make a habit of following the televised coverage of tennis at the four major tournaments whenever I can, particularly in the latter rounds. I found myself in the car in the middle of a four-hour drive the morning of the Roland Garros men’s singles final. I was delighted, therefore, to discover a live audio feed from the BBC available on SiriusXM satelite radio, so I had the unusual experience of listening to, rather than watching, the final set of the match as it happened. Given that tennis is such a visual sport, the play-by-play and commentary was actually far better than expected. When I arrived home I was able to see the match (or jump to portions I wanted to watch anyway) on the NBC Sports streaming app.
  • Earlier this month, I spent a weekend at a place that was brand new to me: Great Camp Sagamore, a Gilded Age-era getaway in the Adirondacks. The site is appropriately rustic, the accommodations pretty basic, and the meals communal. A beautiful spot to lie low for a bit at the end of the school year.
  • In May, I completed the two-year Middle Ages Sequence in the Graham School at the University of Chicago. I’m proud of this particular accomplishment because many of the works we wrestled with were quite challenging. Heavy on the allegorical storytelling, theological treatises, and Islamic philosophy. I’m halfway through a similar curriculum in the American Tradition at this point, but whether I continue with the second year of the program will depend on whether I take on another academic project I am considering. More on this in my next update once I resolve this possibility . . .
  • In the meantime, in addition to teaching a trio of summer school classes in the mornings, I’ll be taking two courses at UChicago—one on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and another on the Book of Psalms—as well as a class on French New Wave cinema at Stanford. Also on tap in July: a week’s worth of seminars on Kafka’s short stories with the St. John’s College Summer Classics program as well as a World War II mini-course offered by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute. Then in August I am scheduled for a week’s immersion in Homer via University College London. Lifelong learning keeps me busy!
  • This summer I once again am offering an Experience Choate mini-course for the school’s alums and parents. This year’s class—Freedom, the American Dream, and Cinema of the 1970s—is something of a sequel to what I did in 2022 with a half-dozen 1960s films. Participants watch six movies over the course of three weeks and we meet for an hour online after each one for a discussion. As always: no quizzes, tests, papers, or grades involved.
  • In the interest of furthering my own cinematic education, I picked up a few boxed sets to keep me entertained in the months ahead:
    • Alfred Hitchcock Collection: Dial M For Murder / North By Northwest / Strangers on a Train
    • Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection—15 films, including Psycho, Rear Window, Rope, The Birds, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo, along with tons of extras
    • Essential Fellini (The Criterion Collection)—14 films, including La Dolce Vita, La Strada, and 8-1/2
    • Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema (The Criterion Collection)—39 films, including Fanny and Alexander, Persona, The Seventh Seal, and Wild Strawberries
    • Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Trilogy of Life: The Decameron, The Canterbury Tales, and Arabian Nights (The Criterion Collection)

    Taking advantage of the new(ish) big 4K flat screen TV and the 4K Blu-ray player in my new(ish) place to watch these, of course.



What I’m Reading

Working On Now:

  • Richard White, Who Killed Jane Stanford? A Gilded Age Tale of Murder, Deceit, Spirits, and the Birth of a University
  • Raymond V. Schoder et al., Reading Course in Homeric Greek: Book One
  • Brandon Taylor, Real Life: A Novel
  • Ned Blackhawk, The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History

Recently Finished:

  • Joan Biskupic, Nine Black Robes: Inside the Supreme Court’s Drive to the Right and Its Historic Consequences
  • Voltaire, Candide
  • Wu Cheng’en and Julia Lovell, Monkey King: Journey to the West
  • Matt Miller, A.I. for Educators: Learning Strategies, Teacher Efficiencies, and a Vision for an Artificial Intelligence
  • James M. McPherson, Abraham Lincoln
  • Caravaggio and Bernini: Early Baroque in Rome
  • William Tsutsui, Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters
  • Elizabeth Scala, The Canterbury Tales Handbook
  • Eliot Borenstein, Marvel Comics in the 1970s: The World Inside Your Head

On Deck:

  • Daniel Silva, The Collector
  • Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
  • Steve Berry and Grant Blackwood, The 9th Man

For Courses I’m Taking This Summer:

  • Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
  • The Collected Dialogues of Plato
  • The Book of Psalms
  • C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms
  • Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative
  • Robert Alter, The World of Biblical Literature
  • Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories
  • Franz Kafka, The Sons: The Judgment, The Stoker, The Metamorphosis, and Letter to His Father
  • Michel Marie and Richard Neupert, The French New Wave: An Artistic School
  • M.I. Finley, The World of Odysseus
  • Barbara Graziosi, Homer

For Courses I’m Teaching This Summer:

  • James Q. Wilson et al., American Government: Institutions and Policies
  • Leon P. Baradat and John A. Phillips, Political Ideologies: Their Origins and Impact
  • Sophocles, Antigone



What I’m Watching


  • The Bear, season 2 (Hulu)
  • Endeavour, season 9 (PBS Passport)
  • The Crowded Room (Apple TV+)
  • Break Point, season 1, part 2 (Netflix)
  • The Righteous Gemstones, season 3 (Max)
  • Secret Invasion (Disney+)
  • Black Mirror, season 6 (Netflix)
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, season 16 (Hulu)
  • Silo (Apple TV+)
  • White House Plumbers (Max)

Recently Finished—Television:

  • City On Fire (Apple TV+)
  • Jury Duty (Amazon Prime)
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty, season 1 (Netflix)
  • Unprecedented (Max)
  • Citadel (Amazon Prime)
  • SmartLess: On the Road (Max)

On Deck—Television:

  • Hijack (Apple TV+)
  • Grantchester, season 8 (PBS Passport)
  • Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, season 4 (Amazon Prime)
  • What We Do in the Shadows, season 5 (Hulu)
  • My Adventures With Superman (Max)
  • Good Omens, season 2 (Amazon Prime)
  • Futurama, season 11 (Hulu)

Recently Finished—Films:

  • The Flash (d. Andy Muschietti, 2023)
  • Incendies (d. Denis Villeneuve, 2010)
  • Chef (d. Jon Favreau, 2014)
  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (d. Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, & Justin K. Thompson, 2023)
  • Being Mary Tyler Moore (d. James Adolphus, 2023)
  • Eames: The Architect and the Painter (d. Bill Jersey & Jason Cohn, 2011)
  • Legion of Super-Heroes (d. Jeff Wamester, 2023)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 (d. James Gunn, 2023)
  • Chevalier (d. Stephen Williams, 2022)
  • The Canterbury Tales (d. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1972)
  • John Mullaney: Baby J (d. Alex Timbers, 2023)
  • 5-25-77 (d. Patrick Read Johnson, 2022)

For Courses I’m Teaching This Summer—Films:

  • Mean Streets (d. Martin Scorsese, 1973)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (d. Miloš Forman, 1975)
  • All the President’s Men (d. Alan J. Pakula, 1976)
  • Rocky (d. John D. Avildsen, 1976)
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (d. Steven Spielberg, 1977/1998)
  • Kramer vs. Kramer (d. Robert Benton, 1979)



What I’m Listening To


  • various artists, Merlí: la Filosofía Et Fará Trempar. Segona Temporada (Música Original de la Serie)
  • Steely Dan, Aja


  • SmartLess
  • The Colin McEnroe Show
  • Fresh Air

Audiobooks/Radio Dramas:

  • Stephen Fry, Mythos



What I’ve Been Attending

  • As You Like It, Actors Shakespeare Company, Medford, MA, June
  • Henry VI, Part 2, Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, MA, June
  • Henry V, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Garrison, NY, June
  • Camelot, Lincoln Center, New York City, June
  • Mamma Mia! (school’s spring musical), Wallingford, May
  • St. John’s College Teachers Institute seminar on the Analects of Confucius, online, April



Where I’m Traveling

Recent Trips:

  • a two-day trip to the Hudson River Valley and the Berkshires
  • a weekend off the grid at Great Camp Sagamore in the Adirondacks in mid-June
  • overnight stay in New York City for a Broadway show
  • a long weekend jaunt to San Francisco in early June to celebrate my nephew’s 11th birthday

Upcoming Trips:

  • a weekend in Minneapolis in mid-July
  • a few days in central Virginia (Charlottesville and Staunton) in early August
  • Europe in mid-August



What I’m Learning

  • Homeric Greek



What I’m Looking Forward To

  • watching the Wimbledon championships
  • resuming a pre-pandemic travel schedule
  • reading in the new Eames chair
  • al fresco meals on my back patio



Thanks to Derek Sivers for his concept of the /now page.
Revised: 21 June 2023