Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Heart XKCD

Geeks of the world rejoice!

I Love xkcd from NoamR on Vimeo.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stay Free

If you know me, you know I love the Clash-like I love coffee, breathing, big books and IPA. But although I love the loud angry punk sounds of their first album and the well done rock and roll that is London Calling, my favorite Clash song of all time is "Stay Free" off of Give Em Enough Rope (a much underrated album.)

This is a surprising choice for me for several reasons. For starters, it's got Mick Jones singing lead and not a Joe Strummer. For another, it's not lyrically perfect. In general I think lyrics are as important , if not more so, than melody. As a result my favorite songs tend to be songs with clever lyrics. It's also entirely solo-no nice tenor on tenor harmonies. And I still love it.

But it's partially because of the imperfection of the lyrics that I love the song. Give Em Enough Rope is proof that more mellow songs can still be punk.

"Stay Free" is a ballad (and I always have a soft spot in my heart for ballads.) It is hopeful and has good guitar and base in the background. But what really caught my heart was that the lyrics of the song sound like an essay written by some public school kid in NYC a good 15 years after the song was written. I could see some kid with whom I'd gone to high school, who came from Bed Stuy writing this song (or something like it) up for a poetry assignment.

No that's not quite right. I can see some kid writing up something like this song at one of the schools where my mom worked with the New York City writing project (they went to some of the nastiest schools in NYC.)

But the point is, it sounds like a kid trying to make sense of the world around him. It is differently beautiful than "I Fought the Law" or "White Riot" or "Janie Jones" in that it's not angry. There's a soft, chewiness to the song, but for all that it's still punk (see subject matter, also aforementioned lyrical quality) even though there's no screaming involved.

If it wasn't for all these things the song would be my favorite for another reason. My sister is 29 years old, married and about to have her third child. Although I'd obviously heard of the Clash she's the one who waved them in front of my face and insisted that I buy their albums. The last time I hung out with her before she became a mommy, we went out drinking and walked all over Manhattan and stayed up far too late. Just as we were on the porch to our parents house getting our keys out, she asked if I'd heard Give Em enough Rope and Stay Free in particular. She said I had to hear the song because it was awesome. In spite of the fact that I was practically asleep on my feet I was thrilled that she had picked out the same song that had caught my attention. We had a brief conversation about it and then we went to bed. The next time I saw her she was a different person.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

more about the recently disolved partnership

This is not the part where I beat my breast and sniffle and discover that I was a terrible girlfriend-entirely unworthy of Sean's affection. Instead this is the point where I affirm to myself and all within listening that loving someone-being in love-is not enough. It's also the part where I admit to some of the things I've done wrong, but like I said, no breast-beating.

I admit that the things I am willing to post on the Internet are not my only sins. But the others are too personal for me to write up online. That's fair right?

Sean and I had nothing to talk about. He didn't want to hear what I had to say of an evening and I would get annoyed with him when he interrupted my reading to tell me something. This had been apparent for sometime, but did not seem to me like cause to end the relationship-after all we still loved each other.

But it finally occurred to me today as I walked to the commuter rail that you cannot keep a human happy by treating them like a cat. What do I mean by that? Well, I was perfectly willing to accept that Sean liked to spend time playing with the Internet , or playing with the Wii. I thought I could just live with him and we could just pursue our own interests--but still pass each other in the hall or in the kitchen and talk and that this would still constitute a relationship.

I admit that even now I'm wondering what was wrong with that model (perhaps some of the things I'm not willing to write about on the Internet) but I also know it is not a good one. For one thing, your SO should get more respect than your pets. When I say this I do not at all imply that this was my lack of respect for Sean was my fault-or at least not entirely. I mean that your SO should be someone that you respect and treat differently than you do your cat. And that's about the level of involvement I was willing to give Sean. Any more would have given me a headache or caused arguments.

None of this means I don't love him and didn't value his companionship-it's just that somehow-bizarre as it seems to me still-people who love each other and value each other's companionship can't always live together.

I now feel like I aught to sing a few lines out of Chess-the musical. I really don't know what the take-away from all of this is for me. There's "Sorry you wasted 9 years" or "humans suck" or "you're weird" or "you're unlucky." I'm going to choose the last, kindest summation.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Raison d'ĂȘtre

It's okay if the thing you do best and like to do best is not how you make your living. Or at least I hope it's okay. The reason I was put on this earth is to be a Bookseller. For the purposes of this rant I am defining a bookseller as something other than someone who works in a bookshop. I suppose I could say "book-enthusiast" or "book-lover" but the first of these terms is ridiculous and the second is only a subset of what I meant.

I have been a professional bookseller. It was no fun. I hated shelving and working retail is, well, not remunerative. I found that even though I worked in bookstores (and as such was at least smart enough to enjoy reading) the management of these stores tended to treat me and my co-workers as if we were teenagers working in a CVS.

But getting books into people's hands is another matter-one that has nothing to do with money. I love getting people to read. I love helping them find just the right book-or introducing them to something they never would have considered before, but end up liking. Working in a bookstore makes it easier to do this (0r at least provides a wider audience) but doing it on a non-professional basis is also possible. If anything, doing it for your friends and family is more challenging and therefore more rewarding.

This afternoon, a woman I work with (at a financial services firm-not a bookstore) said that she enjoyed reading more because of me. It made my day and justified my non-paying quest.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I recommend Gaudy Night

I've been on an "all you can eat" Dorothy Sayers binge lately (as my facebook friends have no doubt noticed) and I have to say that my favorite of her novels is still _Gaudy_Night_.

Why? Well for starters, as many of my friends know, I have a fondness for Strong Female Characters (yes, I know,some of you are shaking your heads right now-pretend you don't know me for a minute) so I naturally prefer the novels with Harriet Vane in them to the straight up Lord Peter Wimsey ones. (another aside-I've mentioned earlier on this blog that at some if my lowest points over the last month and a half I have imagined Miss Vane talking to me and saying stern but comforting things and it really has made me feel better. Does that make me crazy?)

Not only is _Gaudy_Night_ a Harriet Vane novel, but it appeals to my inner Romantic, my inner Feminist, my inner Historian and my inner Pragmatist/Enjoyer-of-Thorny-Problems. Needless to say, It is very rare for a work of literature to interest all of those aspects of my personality at the same time.

So let's start with the easy ones. This book is historically interesting because it was published in England in 1937 and is set at a woman's college (well a ladies college). This is long before all women became "sisters." there are female servants(Scouts) who are treated no better or worse than the domestic staff at any of the other locations in which Lord Peter solves crimes. The male staff have no problems discussing amongst themselves how England could use "a 'itlar." I find this comment particularly interesting because I cannot imagine any post WWII English writer including such a remark-even to give historical verisimilitude. This book is a snapshot of a rare environment. As such it is historically interesting.

My inner Pragmatist finds it interesting to watch the discussions of the "professional" women-the professors and dons about the difficulties of having staff that have to stay home to deal with sick children. They wonder what they went and hired these women for-knowing that they had children who were bound to get sick sooner or later. In fact the axis on which the book turns is Woman's Place in Society and whether one can have a life of the mind as well as a romantic life (until I meet my own Lord Peter I think the answer is still no unless you are very, very lucky.)

For the record I have some sympathy with the characters who wonder what they've gone and hired women with children for, but I was also pleased to see that some of the dons are happy to put up with the bother because one of the women in question is a widow and needs the job.

As the book is set at a ladies college in 1937 and concerns a poison pen writer, the members of the college are reluctant to involve the police for fear what people will say (celibate women, "soured virginity"--of course one of 'em went of her rocker-weren't made for the life of the mind, women.) Even our heroine Miss Vane is sure that's what's at the bottom of it all. Lord Peter is more rational. He says "It's no use saying vaguely that sex is at the bottom of these phenomena-that's about as helpful as saying that human nature is at the bottom of them. Sex isn't a separate thing functioning all by's usually found attached to a person of some sort." which statement I thought rather forward-thinking for 1937.

That's most of the interesting analysis. My inner feminist is intrigued that they *had* women's colleges in 1937 (although they were obviously not for everyone, Harriet Vane is a country doctor's daughter-not an aristocrat.) And my inner romantic finds it interesting watching the interaction of Lord Peter and Harriet Vane and seeing what she thinks of him and about him.

And for the record I don't think I'll ever use this app again. Not only did this take at least twice the time it would have taken for me to write this out on a computer with a real keyboard, but I'm sure it has way more spelling errors than it otherwise would have had.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Yay! No more difficult mobile blogging

It's a good thing I got this app since I don't have internet service yet.