Monday, June 30, 2008

Figment

Yesterday Todd and I went out to Governors Island to check out an art event/festival taking place. Figment brings together artists and art appreciators for a participatory day of creativity. We saw everything from museum-quality (to this untrained eye, at least) sculptures to a collage of sharpie-drawn self portraits, to which we added our own. There was also a performance aspect, but we mostly missed that. As we were taking the ferry over we saw the first bolts of lightening. After only a few minutes on the island the skies really opened up. We, and all the other art patrons, hid inside for the worst of it. Lucikly many of the exhibits were in the old military residences on the island, so we were able to go from dry spot to dry spot and still enjoy the day.

The goal for next year is to actually contribute something to the event, which means I better learn how to do something artistic in the next twelve months.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Playing the Building

Todd and I took advantage of our day off by heading downtown to an old abandoned building that used to be the launching pad for the Staten Island Ferry. David Byrne of Talking Heads fame has turned the place into a public art space: by rigging an old church organ to the pipes, columns, and motors in the building, visitors are able to literally play the building. The pipes were, for me, the best part. The sounds they emitted had an other-worldy quality that I loved.

Check out Todd playing the building:

video

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Obama in '08

Todd and I went to an Obama event this morning. The Obama peeps tried to get people across the country to get together, and nationwide there was something like 4,000 events taking place. We picked the one we attended, Three Parks Democrats, based on location (around the corner from my apartment was pretty convenient) and the short description they put on the Obama website.

After a short intro video, everyone there talked about why they wanted to be involved in the campaign. I mentioned how unhappy I've been with the current administration and the direction of the country, and also talked a bit about how in 2004 I had planned to do something for Kerry's campaign. I never did a single thing, though, and when he lost I felt frustrated that I hadn't put myself out there. For me, voting isn't enough; I really care about politics and think that it's important to do whatever I can to move us past the politics of fear, the erosion of our civil liberties, the Iraq War, the healthcare and energy crises, and so much else that we're mired down in right now. I'm not really excited about tabling or knocking on doors and bugging people during their dinners, but I do think I need to do something. I hope the campaign has other needs, but I have to commit to doing something.

One really interesting thing to note, though, is the demographics of the meeting we attended. It was hosted by a gray-haired old Jewish woman, and with the exception of only one other guy there, I think Todd and I may have been the only people not yet members of AARP. Given all the press Obama has gotten for being able to rally the youth vote, I thought it was interesting that geriatrics were the primary people in attendance. Maybe Three Parks just happens to skew old, but it definitely caught my attention.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Public Art: The Waterfalls

During my time off, I had the chance to take a look at NYC's newest public art project: a series of waterfalls in the East River. Below is a pic of one visible under the Brooklyn Bridge from near South Street Seaport. Sadly, it was pretty underwhelming. I thought the Gates that peppered Central Park not so long ago were much more wonderful. Maybe it's because you could walk through the Gates and only just look at this waterfall from across the expanse, but I didn't feel much of a reaction to it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Revote

Ok, anyone who voted in the second list of books below (now deleted), please vote again here. You can, god willing, now pick up to five--as you were supposed to be able to do all along. Sorry for all the confusion!

Vizu + Blogger = FAIL

OK, I'm feeling really frustrated right now. I messed up on creating the second poll below, and it only lets you vote for one thing. I recreated the poll and reposted it (those of you with RSS may have seen it during it's 45-second existence). Despite having fixed it in Vizu, though, you can still only vote for one thing on my blog. I don't know if this is some kind of memory/cache thing or if the universe simply does not believe in democratically-determined summer reading lists, or what. Anyway, it's fucked up. I think I have to recreate the whole thing and try again, which is annoying me and kind of temporarily sucking the joy out of this little project .

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You Choose: What Should I Be Reading?

Ok, everyone, here's your chance to direct my summer reading. My lame-ass (but free) poll service won't let me do more than ten options per poll, so I've done two lists here. You can pick up to five from each. I'll read the top six vote-getters before Labor Day. Happy voting!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer Reading

Very briefly on the train this morning, Todd and I bounced around the idea of giving ourselves summer reading lists. Does anyone else do that? I like the idea, because it harkens back to my student days when the summers were idyllic and I could spend hours each day with a novel if I wanted to. I’m romanticizing this, really, because I’ve had an after school/summer job consistently since I was sixteen, but in my revisionist history, I was sprawled in the shade under a tree with a good book all summer every summer.

I work just as much in the summers now as I do every other season, but I still feel like I should be able to fit in a solid amount of reading. Perhaps it’s because the sun sets so much later that I want to believe there is time for more. Since I have such a giant pile of books waiting to be read already, I’ll create my reading list from that. I’ll post a poll in the next few days so you can all vote for which books should go on the list.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Absentee Fathers

Remember how Little Women is all about the chicks in the March family? While they’re chilling out in Concord, Massachusetts, Mr. March is off serving as a chaplain in the Union Army during the Civil War. Louisa May Alcott gives her readers very little information about his experiences during the war, and it’s this void that Geraldine Brooks fills in with her book, March.

Much as Alcott modeled Little Women’s sisters after her own family (she, of course, represented aspiring writer Jo), Brooks looks to Alcott’s father for inspiration here. His politics and ideologies—many quite radical for the day—are present in the book, and Brooks paints a picture of a deeply flawed but earnest and good-hearted man trying to do right by his family and in the world.

Brooks adds depth to other LW characters left unexplored, too: in addition to Mr. March’s war experiences, we get a lot of back story about Marmee, and she come across as more three-dimensional and less saintly than in Alcott’s portrait. We also learn more about March and Marmee’s courtship as well as the family’s fall from society into poverty.

And while all the nods to Little Women are a lovely addition to the original novel, It’s March’s experiences with slaves and war contraband (escaped slaves and former slaves who were taken by the Union Army) that give the story its heart. Knowing Little Women surely added something to the experience of reading March, but this is a novel that stands on its own quite well.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Found: One Good Book

Had it not been for Josh's recommendation, I'm not sure if or when I would have picked up Carolyn Parkhurst's second novel: Lost and Found. With its The Amazing Race-like reality TV plot, it sounded too...something. Too flighty maybe? Or just silly. Despite my love for shows like TAR and Project Runway there is definitely still a part of me that expects reality television to be lame (Farmer Wants a Wife keeps my expectations low), and a book built with this pop culture phenomenon as its foundation could have been a disaster.

Josh was right on the money (as he just about always is with book suggestions, I have to say), though, and Lost and Found is a great read. As with her first novel, Dogs of Babel, Parkhurst's style is instantly engaging and her prose imminently readable. But where Dogs of Babel took some understandable but ultimately unsuccessful diversions, Lost and Found has no such missteps. The tale explores relationships of many varieties (mother/daughter, siblings, friendships of convenience, romances of hope, etc.) all the while looking at our culture's obsession with media. Parkhurst's characters are honest, their pain real, and their frustrations at having to lug parrots and ski poles around the world for a cash prize very funny.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Shakespeare Around the City

Anyone looking for a great evening where you get to both be entertained and feel totally cultured (Shakespeare = Culture, right?) should check out Flux's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. My friend Aaron is in it, which is how I found myself there earlier this week. I'm happy to report that both Aaron's performance and the show as a whole are great.

Next week I'm seeing Hamlet in the park, so my affair with Shakespeare continues...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Free 'Taters for Out-of-Staters

My title is the contents of a very memorable side-of-the-road sign I passed by driving from Twin Falls to Pocatello, Idaho. In addition to Idaho, I've also been to all these other great states:




Where have you been?

For the record, I don't like that they've chosen to show the visited states as red, since "red states" has such a political connotation.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Unwanted Pregnancies All Around!

This, coupled with yesterday's cuntribution to the blog, means I'm on something of an anti-McCain video mini marathon. And I'm ok with that. Thanks to Shannon for allowing me to steal this from her blog.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

No Cunt-ry for Old Men

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Annoying workplace jargon

I stumbled upon this list of business catch phrases that most annoy workers worldwide and had to share it. I also feel compelled to add a couple to the list. My current workplace seems fairly (though not entirely) free of this kind of ridiculousness, but McGraw-Hill was filthy with it. There was:

Blue sky, as in “What would you like to do with this project, blue sky?” Or “What would you like to change, blue sky?” In other words, “What would you do with this project if it existed outside the limitations imposed by reality? You know, if you had all the money in the world, a time machine, and a less annoying set of coworkers?”

Then there was the short-lived but extremely intense “thud factor” heyday. My boss (crazy Lisa, for those of you in the know) came back from a week long meeting where this phrase had apparently caught on like wildfire. Suddenly every book we published had to have a “thud effect” which basically meant it had to reach the customer with a whole mess of crap. No concern about quality as long as there was an accompanying CD, website, instructor’s manual, and tie-dyed pot-bellied pig to draw attention to the whole lot.

And then there was the famous Emily Barrosse not-quite-jargon-but-just-as-annoying-nevertheless, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” To which I always wanted to answer, “Anything but this.”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Anyone out there care about business?

We have all manner of business writing positions available in my group right now (blogger, web editor, speech writer, you name it). If anyone reading this wants to hear more or knows of anyone who might want to hear more, shoot me an email or leave a comment.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Back that shit up

Over the weekend Todd’s Mac Book totally freaked out. The computer is less than a year old, so of course it’s meltdown was completely unexpected. Unfortunately, because all signs pointed to a long (longer than a year, anyway) and healthy life, Todd hadn’t backed up his data. The computer’s hardware will all be repaired/replaced free, but the ridiculously high cost of data recovery has to come out of pocket. The lesson to this story is to back up all your files! His situation scared me into action, and I went to the Apple Store and bought a Time Capsule over lunch. Other options are a more basic external hard drive or an online service like Jungle Disk. One way or another, though, we should all be doing this.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'm ready for my massage now

Ok, so I did yoga yesterday. What else do I want to do more regularly? Spa, of course! I haven't taken advantage of having a friend in the spa and wellness industry at all, which is shameful both as a friend and as someone who really just wants to be pampered.

What makes it even worse is knowing that I'm missing out on something pretty damn spectacular. Drew Patrick Spa was just written up in The Fire Island News yesterday, and--as expected--it was a total rave. Here's just a snippet of the great things they say:

It’s hard not to be impressed by the spa’s elegant interior and tranquil atmosphere. What’s more impressive, however, is that the spa’s treatments and service live up to its appearance. Allt’s vision has been spectacularly realized. Employees strive to cater everything to an individual’s needs in a warm and welcoming way. The skills of the therapists and technicians are highlighted rather than overshadowed by their sumptuous surroundings.
I can vouch for just how beautiful the spa is, and now I just need to get back out to Bay Shore to confirm that all the glowing praise about the treatments themselves is true, too!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Stretch

I need to take a couple of vacation days before the end of the month, so I have today off from work. I'm definitely spending some of my day lounging around, reading, etc., but I also wanted to do something good for myself. So I went to a kick ass 90-minute hatha yoga class at Life in Motion this morning. I say it was kick ass for two reasons: first, it was great. The studio has huge windows so we could look out over Broadway, and the teacher was energetic, supportive, and helpful. The second way it was kick ass, was that it totally kicked my ass. It felt great, but it also really pushed me. I'd like to start going more than once every five years, which is about what I'm averaging now.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Things that make you go hmm....

How is it that I’ve just finished eating a giant salad for lunch and am still hungry?

And why haven’t I taken or posted a self portrait in weeks?

And why, oh why, does Camilla insist on finding shit on the floor (her toys, a run away crumpled up receipt, whatever) to drop into her water dish so I’m faced with something sopping wet every time I give her new water?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How to be Good

A while back, I found myself with oodles of new books to read, all courtesy of Rena who was doing some spring cleaning. I read one of her offerings, Nick Hornby’s How To Be Good, last week. In my experience, Hornby is typically a fun read with an engaging style and prose that you can speed through, and that certainly holds true here. His characters don’t all ring true, but they are all in service of his plot and, more importantly, themes.

  • What makes someone a “good” person?
  • Why is getting just what we want often so disappointing?
  • Can you not want to be married to someone just because he refuses to make fun of something that is absolutely and utterly mock-able?
How To Be Good is funny, fast, and good summer fare.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Favorite performance

Over the weekend, Rena and I took in the new Sex and the City movie. I knew Rena liked it, since it was her third time seeing it. That, plus my affection for the series, definitely gave me high hopes for a couple of hours well spent. I was surprised, though, by my favorite aspect of the movie: Kristin Davis. She’s always been a great member of the foursome, but she was never my favorite part of the show. She really stood out in the film, showing great range, heart, and comedic talent throughout. This success is especially interesting given that in many ways she got the least dramatic storyline. It’s sort of like when Julianne Moore made trying to bake a cake the most riveting part of The Hours, despite all the excitement of the other storylines. Go Kristin!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Busy weekend

This past weekend was all about staying inside and avoiding the heat—it was brutal! Thankfully, Todd and I had some home improvement projects that kept us safely indoors. Todd’s been shopping around for bunk beds for his kids for a while, and my eagle eye spotted a flyer on a bus stop shelter the other day for a free set. An old couple doing some much needed (and I mean much needed—you should have seen the amount of crap in this potentially gorgeous but totally time-warped apartment) spring cleaning was getting rid of them. Todd and I were something like fourth and fifth in line for the bunk beds (we both called) but fate was on our side and persons one, two, and three flaked out, giving us the chance to snag them. We got really lucky—not only were the beds free, they were also made of real maple wood; no pressboard Ikea crap for us!

Once we got them back to Todd’s apartment, the rest of the weekend was about painting his living room, reorganizing furniture, and assembling the beds. They were actually incredibly easy to assemble and disassemble, and good thing, too. Without any instructions there was a certain element of trial and error to getting them just right.

The heat wave continues, and I have every intention of finding more to do in inside.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Camilla soaking up the sun

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hot town, summer in the city

Thank god for my good super, because it is hot as balls this weekend. It's our first heatwave of the summer and hit the mid nineties today. From what I hear, it'll stay this gross through at least the beginning of next week.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Hillary is Tracy Flick

Am I the only person who has seen the movie Election who didn't realize that Hillary kind of is Tracy Flick?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Rejected

Remember last year when I got to watch the entire Tony Awards with the Coast of Utopia director? Well, apparently the powers that be over at Tony Central have decided that is enough awards show fun to last me a lifetime. After accepting me as a seatfiller for this year’s shows a couple of weeks ago, they have unceremoniously dumped me. I just got the below in an email:

Hello:

I am very sorry but the Tony Ticketing office was
recently told that our number of allotted seatfillers
has been cut. You are unfortunately beyond our allotted
number and will no longer be able to seatfill. Again,
this is out of the Tony Ticketing Office’s control and we
apologize profusely. We know what a special event this is for
you, and we wish we could share it with you this year.

Just to clarify: if you arrive at Radio City on June
15, even with the printed seatfiller letter, you will
NOT be permitted into the awards show.

Again, our deepest apologies on this inconvenience.

Regrets,

The Tony Ticketing Office


Wankers.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Obama for President!

Congratulations to Barack Obama for securing the nomination! I think Hillary Clinton deserves a lot of kudos for coming as far as she did, though I think it's definitely time for her to accept defeat gracefully. Now on to the speculation about who will be tapped as veep. Todd and I have a bet about Hillary's chances (he thinks she has one, I don't), and I keep hearing a lot about Sam Nunn (former senator from Georgia) and Kathleen Sebelius (governor of Kansas). I don't know much about either one of them, so it's time to do some research.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

McCain's Running Mate Shortlist

Monday, June 2, 2008

Hooray for good supers

After a very unpleasant call with the woman at my apartment management company earlier this week (my upstairs neighbor flooded her bathroom and now I have water damage to deal with), I wasn't really looking forward to calling my super today. But, after a couple of warm and muggy days, I really wanted my air conditioner put in, so I had to give him a ring. I'm not some A/C slacker--if this was a regular window unit I would have managed. But this is a special sleeve unit (goes into a hole in the wall made especially for air conditioners) and is about ten feet up from the floor. Even on a ladder (which I don't have), I really didn't have the arm strength for this project. Luckily, my super was totally accommodating and friendly. And now I'm able to sit in a refrigerator if I want. His helpfulness was a very nice surprise and antidote to my cynically low expectations.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Are you in an exclusive relationship with your current novel?

I was trying to make my way through Absurdistan last week for my book club on Wednesday night (result: failure), but accidentally left it sitting on Todd's dresser after visiting him. Getting ready for work the next day I realized the book was gone; I couldn't face my commute book-free, so I had to start another one. I usually only read one book at a time, so it's been a little new for me to bounce back and forth between them.

It got me wondering if most other people are into book exclusivity, or if you all, like Todd, zig-zag from book to book and keep several going at once.