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Here's my Goodreads.com review of the above book. Sometimes I love to snark.

Depressing, downbeat, downright morbid? Ah, it must be literary fiction, the type of reading that's too emo hipster for me. Jim Shepard's short-story collection is on the National Book Award shortlist, with scores of rave reviews from popular publications and users of this site. To be fair, it must be very well written, because it kept me reading most of the way through despite my predispositions. Shepard sticks to certain themes: all his protagonists are men living in extreme settings (from the French Revolution to the site of one massive earthquake), with father issues, most of whom inadvertantly precipitate family tragedy (which leaves them wracked with guilt). We're talking excessive, nearly comic tragedy. The narrator of the first story is responsible for the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the mass poisoning of the countryside, and the death of his two brothers (sorry, Dad). I did enjoy the horror themes in a few of the stories, such as "Ancestral Legacies." And "Pleasure-Boating in Litubya Bay" had me with its small, contemporary, domestic, slow-motion domestic disaster story. But I'm glad I've read my dose of highbrow fiction--I'll have to go for more of an escape next time.
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Just what I freakin' need: something new to worry about.


Is it me or does it have to be more than coincidence that this ran in their FASHION issue? I'm all down with the virtues of hitting the gym (must set alarm for the morning!) and building muscle mass. There's definitely a core of sense here. But telling women "you can't trust BMI, you can't trust your weight, you can't trust your size" just isn't a good way to promote health. And the image too, it plays into that lizard-brain "I hate my body, I'm fat, I'm gross" instinctual thought pattern that most women constantly struggle to overcome. I'm especially concerned by the fact that they don't explain how a woman can find out whether she's really "too fat". As if there aren't enough women out there w/ eating disorders? Bleh.
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from [profile] miriam1978

Copy this list; leave in the bands you've seen perform live; delete the ones you haven't, and add new ones that you have seen until you reach 25. An asterisk means the previous person had it on their list. Two asterisks means the last two people who did this before you had that band on their list, etc.

[sorry about the difficulty of reading this, folks--I can't write about concerts and not reminisce!]

1. They Might Be Giants** 
[oh, only about 6 *times*... sometimes with [personal profile] orichalcum and [profile] adamhmorse including that time at GenCon w/ [profile] havenstone]

2. Tori Amos* 
[twice, including in 1996 with [profile] havenstone, [personal profile] outlawradio, [personal profile] julianyap, et al]

3. Dar Williams* 
[4 times, sometimes with [personal profile] ladybird97 and [personal profile] outlawradio]

4. Wilco*

5. Indigo Girls [3 times... the first was my first ever live show!]

6. Moxy Fruvous [may they rest in peace]

7. Da Vinci's Notebook 
[RIP. 3 times, first w/ [profile] havenstone, [personal profile] resonance42, [Bad username or unknown identity: orichalcum , [info]ladybird97] et al. My arrangement of Kingdom in the Sky is still performed by Vocal Heights.]

8. Robbie Schaefer [he opened for Da Vinci's Notebook, as I was telling [profile] a_dodecahedron]
9. Dave Matthews
10. Sheryl Crow
11. Tin Hat Trio [3 times. RIP]
12. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band
13. The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones
14. Rage Against the Machine [didn't see THAT coming, didja?]
15. Girlyman [most recent show I've seen, [personal profile] matt_rah was there]
16. Banana Fish Zero 
[RIP, friends of mine, 4 or 5 times, JT & I were groupies and [personal profile] resonance42 came along at least once]

17. Gin Blossoms [i'm dating myself]
18. Spin Doctors [i'm REALLY dating myself]
19. Primus
20. The Lemonheads
21. George Clinton & the P-Funk All Stars
22. The M Shanghai String Band
[3 times; amazing live shows, if you're in the NYC area, you MUST check them out!]
23. Goo Goo Dolls 
24. Moby
25. Sugar Ray

[editorial comment #1: I listen to and like a number of bands that previously were on this list, but I've seen very little big-name, new live music in recent years. So if anyone WANTS to go see Belle & Sebastian, The Magnetic Fields, Arcade Fire, or The Polyphonic Spree with a non-hip fogey, I'd totally be up for it.]

[editorial comment #2: I totally would have seen REM too, but my parents wouldn't let me go with my friends b/c it was Rosh Hashana]
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[courtesy of


 although everyone in my various LJ social circles seems to have gotten this one today]

1. Go to www.careercruising.com
2. Put in Username: nycareers - Password: landmark
3. Take the 'Career Matchmaker' questions at the upper left corner
4. Post the top 10 results.

This is after the supplemental quiz--the initial one had me pegged as a set designer, which is extremely random. The thing about these quizzes is that of course there are tasks that come with any job that one would dislike. But there's a big difference between stuff I accept as a necessary evil (like paperwork) and stuff I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole (STS), like working outdoors in all weather. And this quiz doesn't distinguish between them. Having said all that, here are my supplemental results:

1. Librarian
2. Communications Specialist
3. Professor
4. Writer
5. Researcher
6. Historian
7. Library Technician
8. Stenographer
9. Director
10. ESL Teacher
"But what I really want to do is direct...."

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Happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] marginaleye! Have a great day, and see you in a few weeks.
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Just a short note to say that things are better here--a walk on the beach helped, altho getting back to the house afterward was more of an adventure than expected. A couple of us had to fight our way thru virgin woods/vines/undergrowth, and emerged with lots of scratches and bug bites. My friend's sandals were sacrificed. The beach was lovely, tho, and it was nice to learn I'm not the only person irritated by certain group dynamics. I think we're all going to come out of this still friends. There was a fun game of mini-golf this evening, and tomorrow we're driving up to another town to see a friend that some of us know from back in the high school day.
xse99: (dangermouse)
Argh. I hate when a vacation one has been excited about ends up kinda sucky. I'm trapped at beautiful Remote Seaside Location with Official Cute Couple, Unofficial Cute Couple [heretofore not a couple], and Random Quiet Gay Friend of Friend. (It is duly noted for the benefit of the other member of this party who is on LJ that I'm not blaming him--please don't take this personally.) There just have been a lot of awkward moments, and that plus insomnia plus suspect shellfish has got me pretty subdued. At least the weather's gorgeous, and I got to play skee ball on the boardwalk yesterday. At least this vacation has passed the halfway point.

Sign at boardwalk amusement park: No Single Riders
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OMG, so many possibilities! Must choose 10...

Enjoy the Silence--Depeche Mode
Everything--Alanis Morrissette
Everywhere--Michelle Branch
Everyday People--Sly and the Family Stone
Every Breath You Take--The Police
Everyone's a Little Bit Racist--Avenue Q soundtrack
Experimental Film--They Might Be Giants [ok, so the homestarruner.com film sold me on this one]
Everybody Have Fun Tonight--Wang Chung
Every Day Is a Winding Road--Sheryl Crow
Enormous Penis--Da Vinci's Notebook
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A while ago I posted about making themed playlists, and I thought I'd share. Here's the list about driving and traveling. It hasa some rough spots, but I'm pleased with fitting many different types of music together.

Come Sail Away--South Park
Fun, Fun, Fun--Beach Boys
Cadillac Car--Dreamgirls [look at me mister, I'm a star]
Little Red Corvette--Prince
Cars--Gary Neuman
Traveling Again--Dar Williams
Get Out the Map--Indigo Girls
Long Time Gone--Dixie Chicks
Every Day Is a Winding Road--Sheryl Crow
Running Down a Dream--Tom Petty
Hey Jealousy--Gin Blossoms [tomorrow we can drive around this town and let the cops chase us around]
Highway to Hell--ACDC
Route 66--Depeche Mode
I Left My Wallet in El Segundo--A Tribe Called Quest
Go West--Pet Shop Boys
German Test Drive--Spymob
Upside Down from Here--Atom and His Package
Destination Moon--They Might Be Giants
Highway Chile--Jimi Hendrix
South Side--Moby
Keep the Car Running--Arcade Fire
Into the Great Wide Open--Tom Petty
Like a Rolling Stone--Bob Dylan
Road Buddy--Dar Williams
I-95--Fountains of Wayne
and of course
Paradise by the Dashboard Light--Meat Loaf

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Comment and I'll give you a letter. In your journal, list 10 of your favorite songs that begin with that letter.

Don't Stop Believing--Journey [not this a cappella version]. 
Dance Hall Days--Wang Chung
Dancing in the Dark--Bruce Springsteen
Dancing with Myself--Billy Idol
Daniel--Elton John
Dream On--Aerosmith
(Don't Go back to) Rockville--REM
Don't Get Around Much Anymore--[standard, I have a Duke Ellington version]
Don't Fear the Reaper--Blue Oyster Cult
Down Under--Men at Work

Wow. Clearly I stopped listening to music in the '80s.
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My homework this week includes spending time on lots of different blogs. That's how I found this video of "Do the Right Thing" done with Fisher-Price Sesame Street toys. You KNOW you need to watch.

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I read this book a couple of months ago, and it's definitely my fave stand-alone book of the year (HP7 being in a separate catagory for series). Like the work of Dave Eggers (yep, I'm uncool enough to admit to liking him), this was the kind of subway reading that had me hoping for an unexplained 20-minute delay in service. 

Review )
xse99: (dangermouse)
In honor of his birthday, I'm posting this exchange I had w/ O recently--after he tripped getting onto a down escalator and almost took a dive into a pile of British toys.

Me: OMG, are you ok? I don't know what I would have done if you'd fallen.
O: I'm fine... you would have laughed.
Me: No!
O: I know you would have laughed. I would if you fell. <big grin>
<long pause>
Me: Well, it's good to have friends you can count on.

I still think he's wrong, but I felt this surge of affection when he said I would have laughed. Because it's possible that he's right, but either way, it's good to have a friend who understands that kind of thing. (And it helps to know, based on our 12 years of friendship. that he might have laughed for about 20 seconds before making sure I was ok.)
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These are some short poems I wrote, dating from the late 90s. It's funny to go back and look at them again. It's like finding aging snapshots in some album and being unable to recall where you were and what you were doing when the pictures were taken. Maybe you have the barest idea of who some of the other people in them might be.

I think being an English major in a program that emphasized the Major English Poets (Chaucer and Shakespeare and Milton, oh my!) definitely had an effect on my writing of the time. I was lavish with adjectives, flush with formality, and hopelessly romantic. But you're only young once! And I still like these little guys. 

Poems )
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Ironically (or maybe not), my Writing and Editing for the Web class is kicking my ass. I mean, it's difficult, probably because

A) my last experience with journalism was back in college


B) I have a more-than-full-time job, several extracurricular activities, and a life.

But on a more positive note, some of the fun things I've been doing with these late, great days of summer. Last Thursday night some friends (including [livejournal.com profile] matt_rah) and I went to see a triple bill of Main Squeeze Orchestra, Mucca Pazza, and Slavic Soul Party. Things were a little dicey at the beginning, with doors opening over an hour late due to a last-minute "inspection" of the venue. But we got in, got a table, got our obligatory drinks, and then... well, there's nothing like an all-accordion "Bohemian Rhapsody" to warm the soul.

Saturday I went to Warm Up at PS 1, this outdoor afternoon dance party at a contemporary art museum. Big summer fave. This year the courtyard's been done up with what look like Dr Seuss-inspired beach cabanas (and sand). Not to mention the sculptures that drop a ton of water on your head if you time it wrong (or right). My friends wouldn't dance, and I wasn't ready to leave them behind, so we ended up back in Central Park at a free jazz concert to benefit New Orleans. Not bad.

Sunday I got up before some of y'all went to bed, and waited in line to get free Shakespeare in the Park tickets w/ my equally insane friends (and a few hundred of our fellow New Yorkers). The show was absolutely worth it, though--they're doing A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the outdoor setting was MADE for that play, I swear. This was one of the few shows in recent seasons that hasn't relied on a few big names from movies and TV. Nope, these were actual stage actors, and it showed. Great lighting, costumes, music....

Now I'm happy 'cause my friend loaned me her They Might Be Giants double-CD set. And suddenly everyone's my friend in New York City.

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Just had my first online class chat. Interaction not quite as rich as face to face, but I was less intimidated about commenting or asking questions. Downside: hard to remember who said what (tho personalities did emerge). Upside: I kept picturing the one guy in the class as HOT. (I mean, what's the Internet REALLY for, anyway? Um, kidding.

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...of Yale SR, Swarthmore SR, and singing exists. And I have seen it. And it is good.

xse99: (dangermouse)
I used to make mix tapes back when there were, you know, actual casette tapes involved. I made both my parents mix CDs (of oldies) for their birthdays. And this morning, inspired by
[profile] rockmarooned  no doubt, I woke up early with the inexplicable urge to create themed playlists, which I'll ultimately post here when I'm not running out to [personal profile] matt_rah 's place to sing.
I made three: 

*One about cars/driving/traveling--for the car I don't own
*One about New York City, 'cause we really are as self-absorbed here as you think
*One for the holidays--never too early, and Halloween decorations are out already
*and one about cheating/being cheated on--I blame my new Amy Winehouse album (and jury duty)

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I recently saw the movie "Sicko", which was entertaining and horribly depressing at the same time. I'd really like to get some background on the healthcare systems in other nations (England, France, Canada, Cuba), as Moore presents a fairly one-sided view. But I'm willing to believe that the gist of the film is accurate--we don't have universal health insurance and many other nations do. The friend I saw the film with brought up a couple of good points, including the idea that R&D for medical devices/procedures/drugs mostly occurs in the US and that if care were less expensive the companies who do that work would have no incentive to do so.  It will be interesting to see how the issue of health insurance plays itself out in the 2008 presidential election. Until then, I just need to keep my job and benefits.... 

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I'm taking a class on Writing and Editing for the Web, and one of the assignments involves discussing two Web sites I really like and why, as well as two I really dislike and why. Seems to me this might be interesting to folks, so I'm posting my responses below:


*Google, natch: in addition to its awesome usefulness, I appreciate the clarity and simplicity of the design—just the search box, with News, Maps, etc options in the upper left corner

Amazon: This site has been getting better as the product offerings have widened. Useful features like Search Inside the Book have been dropped in without disrupting the basic design. I appreciate the chance to see all the product categories at top of the home screen, as well as the listing of all categories and subcategories on the left of the home screen. It’s useful to have the basic search option either across all categories or in one particular category. And as a publishing professional I appreciate the fact that you can search for books by ISBN in the Advanced Search option.
*Yahoo: Despite a recent redesign, this site is extremely busy visually. The list of links on left of screen is in a small, unattractive font with icon for each (the icons add to the cluttered look of the list). The layout doesn't seem logical (entertainment box over news box over Marketplace box).
*MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority, NYC): This site contains extremely useful information, but it makes you dig for it. I usually go to this site to find out about bus and subway service changes. It takes a few clicks from the home screen to get this information. The fact that there are separate links for “Weekly subway advisories” and “Weekend summary” is confusing. On the home screen itself, useful features like the Trip Planner are difficult to find because they’re buried under links to things like the agency’s budget and the “Tunnel-Boring Machine Update.”


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January 2009

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