Friday, August 29


only love can break your heart

"Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet." Say a little prayer for him? I hope he'll be home coming home soon...

Sunday, August 24


I run. I love running. But it can be so incredibly, mind numbingly boring sometimes that even my best playlist can't drop a beat to save it. So I've recently revisited some of my favourite podcasts in order to keep my mind from shutting off completely (I tried reading magazines, but it is somewhat nauseating when you are running on a treadmill, and my vision is poor anyway.) I'm a complete latecomer to them, and the iTunes music store where I've been downloading them for free from can be daunting in it's number of choices, but here's what I've come up with so far. I like the New Yorker's Comment podcast for it's generalist mix of commentary on things like depictions of race, how parrots can learn English and then teach other parrots and the philosophy of John Adam's operatic compositions. I just discovered something for my geeky linguist tendencies, which is called the Word Nerds (I listened to a podcast today on the "secret" languages, jargons and lingos.) My other go-to right now is WNYC's Soundcheck podcast, where I've heard a great interview with Dean Wareham on this new book, a debate on "Paul vs. John," a discussion on why protest music today is so different than it was in the 1960s and an examination of one hit wonders. I've been told that Sasha Frere-Jones has a great one, too. I'll add it to my list, but maybe I'll save some for commuting, life's other great time-suck.

Thursday, August 21

38 states

Three controversial maps.


My friend Nurri insists that I am fascinated by systems (which is true.) I am truly fascinated by determining patterns and mapping out paths of abstract ideas. Most of my recent work has involved close examination of language, and although I'll probably never be more than a fan, I do find myself reading about it as much as possible (I have not completely ruled out a PhD in Linguistics if I choose to stay in NYC for awhile.) One of the worst books I've read was about the history of the Oxford English Dictionary, and despite the poor writing, the historical facts are fascinating. Until the OED was begun by the Philological Society of London in 1857, English was one of the last European languages to try to establish a standardization. If you consider that a dictionary by definition (funny) is a book of alphabetically listed words in a specific language, and requires definitions, etymologies, pronunciations, and other information, this was no small task to accomplish. One of the most interesting things about the process of getting all this information was that it was achieved by going out to the public and asking them to read books and find the information about words from their context. Imagine a paper form of a wiki (floorboards had to be reinforced to accommodate the weight of all the papers sent back with word definitions.) The final "facsicle" was published in 1928, about 70 years after the project had begun. Being that all languages are living, the dictionary has also had to evolve to accommodate changes in the use of English (consider text messaging: bastardization or alternate spelling?) Well, I suppose with the proliferation of slang terms appearing both as spoken and spelled, alternate sources of information are necessary to jack in to that kind of thumb lashing. (If you still have are curious, visit Baragona's for more.)

Sunday, August 10

doubts on technology

When I was a kid, I played with paper dolls. My sister and I would trace their outlines and draw fantastic costumes for them to wear, then carefully cut them out with strategically placed tabs so that they were prepared (at least in outfit) for whatever adventure we envisioned them in. Sometimes real dolls seemed so limited by the rules of the three–dimensional world, whereas our paper dolls could always defy the laws of physics in their two–dimensional one. Although not paper dolls, Low–tech magazine does have dioramas, vehicles and monsters to be printed from your computer and cut out. Fun activity for when the radiation from your computer screen becomes eye–watering. There is also an interesting article on visual entertainment before the advent of television, including devices like the stereoscope and the magic lantern.

Saturday, August 9


I still have a soft spot for minimal guitar electronic noise, and I suppose the popularity of bands like high places make me feel less like I'm getting old and out–of–touch (people still listen to black dice, right?) Anyway, I'm heading out tonight to see Growing, and if you have not given them a listen; they make for very nice end-of–summer music, especially on a beautiful Saturday like today.

Friday, August 8


The eccentricities of logic in the English language are truly fascinating, especially the fact that we abide by weird stylistic rules because they are universally understood, not because they necessarily make sense. Some choices have been made by use, others determined by print, others by the dominance of certain ethnic groups, still others (like the letter aitch) by rationality. The New York Times posted an article today on why we capitalize the letter "I". If you're still interested, Daniel Heller-Roazen wrote a great book on the forgetting of language.

Tuesday, August 5

think global, act local

I spent many hours during my thesis years pondering the question of whether the idea of an indigenous, local culture was a good or bad thing. Is retaining local culture maintaining a diversity of ideas, or is it hindering a group's ability to progress? Are we culturally obsessed? Interesting article from the Humanist discusses the pros and cons.

Monday, August 4


The best game I ever played when I was homing from work was on the Washington City Paper's website. One of our sister alternative papers in the AAN/CAN circuit, they run a page online every week called "Spot the Drummer." Since I spent most of my time sitting next to a drummer and waxing poetic about music as opposed to entering classified ads, I became pretty astute at picking out which was the drummer based solely on promotional photos of obscure bands (and yes, the theory of beards is unproven.)


Of all the things a person can be bad at, mine lately has been sleeping. My doctor told me that I should hide my clock, so that I have no idea what time it is. I always think it's funny to try to trick yourself, as if you didn't know where the clock was or what the reasoning was behind hiding it. I already, however, set my clock a half hour fast and I can never find anything that I don't put in the usual place anyhow.
A few articles on sleep and the brain that I read this weekend posited the idea that sleep is a totally irrational activity, and also that sleep makes you smarter.

Sunday, August 3

right brain

An interesting article on the function of the right side of the brain in language connotation, and how that affects our serendipitous moments.

sandro perri

I can always tell if I really like something when I come back to it unconciously, as with most of Sandro Perri's musical output. I don't have much of the lingo for describing composition, but I can say that I liken it's response in me to listening to Morton Feldman. I found an interesting article that touches briefly on his use of language in composition here. And you can listen to the whole Glissandro 70 album on Lastfm!

I worry sometimes that as I age my taste will freeze like a time capsule from a past era. There are so many things that I loved to listen to over the years, and now when I go back to them, I'm somewhat embarrassed by the music but can narrate nostalgically the circumstances that impressed it on my memory. It's strange to me that the popularity of some music seems to derive from a herd mentality, that it's an occurance in a time, place and (communally with a) group gives it a place in our collective memory. It's strange because fundamentally it's a listening experience and could be packaged any way, or heard in any circumstance. I can't say I'm exempt from that, but somehow these individual experiences with a piece of music appeal to something further in the brain that make us bond with other listeners.