Sound of Mettle: How to make a record when you can barely hear

In the fall of 2009, my wife, singer-songwriter Marty Winkler, and our friend Michael C Steele, a multi-instrumentalist and record producer, persuaded me to start work on a CD of some of my songs. Tunes of mine had appeared on Marty’s albums, and her renditions of “Gotta Stop Breaking My Own Heart” and “Heavenly Bodies” had even gotten airplay on stations like New York’s WNYC and KCRW in Los Angeles. But I had balked at recording myself because, well, it seemed like the height of self-indulgence. …


My life “after deaf” is an open-ended story. New chapters just keep presenting themselves, begging to be written.

Here’s the latest. After watching a report on an evening newscast Monday about the brouhaha over Georgia’s new voting laws, I decided to contact our governor, Brian Kemp, to let him know what I thought.

I fired up my laptop and located the official website of the Governor of the State of Georgia — https://gov.georgia.gov/ — intending to send Kemp an email. A cochlear implant has made it possible for me to converse pretty normally face-to-face, but I struggle to understand even…


“Sound of Metal” reminds us of sounds we take for granted.

Sound of Metal, an Oscar-nominated Netflix film about a thrash-rock drummer whose hearing dies, is a long shot to grab the Best Picture or Best Actor statuette. But if it doesn’t win Best Sound for sound designer Nicholas Becker, the Motion Picture Academy should just fold its tent and end all that “And the winner is. . . .” business.

Becker and his creative team of recorders, mixers and editors don’t just do a (pardon the expression) bang-up job, they accomplish something unique in the history of film: They approximate for a hearing audience what it’s really like to be…


Anyone who has read my memoir about losing and partially recovering my hearing knows that I’ve never met a pun I didn’t like.

What I neglected to mention in the book is that “Life After Deaf” wasn’t the only title I considered. With my wife, Marty Winkler, and my agent, Eric Myers, as sounding boards, I tossed out a stream of titles, looking for something catchy but not too outrageous or obscure.

So here, now, finally, is the list.

The Best Ears of Our Lives

Deaf Reckoning

Deaf Trap

Deaf in the Afternoon

Deaf Race 2000

Matters of Life and…


Firecracker photo courtesy Macau Photo Agency.

If we were to play word-association and you said “fireworks,” I would not say “4th of July.” I would say “Christmas.” I have no memory of popping firecrackers or shooting off Roman candles on the Independence Days of my youth. Why that is, I’m not sure. Maybe it was just too hot in July in south Mississippi. I don’t recall the city of Laurel ever having a big fireworks-in-park event, either.

Where I lived, out from town in the unincorporated, almost-anything-goes country, fireworks fever would strike soon after Thanksgiving. …


I sure hope Donald Trump plans to donate his body to science. When his time comes, I mean.

I know it’s a long shot, the most science-averse U.S. President of all time bequeathing his remains to, say, the medical school at Harvard or Emory or the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater. But I’m serious. He’s a rare human specimen, and he owes it to the nation — to the world — to make himself available for posthumous study.

First of all, there’s his body, the ample corpus that makes him look like a…


America the beautiful balancing act. Photo: Noel Holston

The Washington Post’s Sunday magazine yesterday featured a powerful article about our bitterly divided country’s prospects for healing after Tuesday’s election. The author, Gene Weingarten, though he’s a humor columnist by trade, struggled to keep his optimism up.

I understand how he feels. So do millions of us.

A dear old friend, a naturalized American citizen who fled South Africa because of apartheid, told me the other day that despite accusations from the Right, she doesn’t hate Trump supporters, she simply can’t fathom their allegiance to such a creepy guy. …


Nothing Donald Trump said during Thursday’s final Presidential debate told us more about who he is and how he views life than his response to a question that moderator Kristen Welker posed to both candidates in the closing minutes.

“President Trump,” she said, “people of color are much more likely to live near oil refineries and chemical plants. In Texas, there are families who worry the plants near them are making them sick. Your administration has rolled back regulations on these kinds of facilities. Why should these families give you another four years in office?”

Trump didn’t hesitate. “The families…


More, perhaps, than cheeseburgers, adulation sustains Donald Trump. It’s his happy meal, his comfort food, his B12. Last Saturday, at a tarmac rally in Muskegon, Michigan, he got a huge serving from a good-sized crowd of MAGA-capped supporters.

The big headline out of the Muskegon campaign stop was that Trump encouraged the crowd when a “Lock her up!” chant began in response to a swipe he took at Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer. She was understandably livid given that the FBI only days earlier had broken up a white supremacist plot to kidnap her and put her on trial for her…

Noel Holston

Mississippi native, award-winning veteran of The Orlando Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Newsday, stand-up storyteller, lives in Athens, Ga.

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