Sunday, January 27, 2013

Upcoming Events

This is me reading at the first installment of the wonderful Pigeon Coop Arts Salon, a night of live music and readings put on by John Dylan Keith and Sarah Masslon.  Here's an audio recording of me reading "Address to the Greenville Senior Women’s Club 35th Annual Pedigreed Dog Show by the Mystery Writer H.L. Lemontre" - thanks to Molly Thompson for this!  Come to the next one, it will be absolutely wonderful.  

February 10 is the next Hot Dish - this time we're doing a Sunday brunch.  Come for the waffles and the morning drinking, stay for readings - and music! - by Amelia Gray, Wendy Molyneux, Joshua Shenk, LaMuff, J. Ryan Stradal, and also, slightly, me.

Also on February 9 I'll be doing Sketch Cram at Upright Citizen's Brigade.  Basically, I show up at UCB on Saturday morning, me and the other writers write up a brand-new sketch show from 10am-7pm, and then it's rehearsed and performed by the actors that night.  If you're up and around at midnight on Saturday, come see it!

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Revelations In My Browser History More Embarrassing Than Pornography

1. I have separate bookmarks for “Removing Urine From a Mattress,” “Removing Urine From a Rug,” and “Removing Urine From an Upholstered Chair.”

2. Recently I couldn't remember if the name of the country was Hungary or Hungaria.

3. I opened a link from Pinterest called “90 Ideas for Holiday Wreaths” and clicked through all 90.

4. I've looked up “lay vs. lie,” forgotten the answer, and looked it up again, seven times.

5. I searched for my own name on Wikipedia, just in case.

6. I watched the first ten minutes of “American Horror Story” episode one, got scared, turned it off, then stayed up until 2am reading an entire season's worth of recaps.

7. I have hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpurchased shopping cart items including a $200 sonic skin cleansing system, Python for Dummies, a tweed capelet, and a bird bath.

8. At some point in every Wikipedia research thread I get bored and just jump to the List of Serial Killers.


Thursday, January 03, 2013

In Praise of Information

as opposed to Fruitless Pondering.

Don't get me wrong, I love the occasional fruitless ponder.  But one of the things I don't understand at all about the anti-technology sentiments of many parents is the idea that somehow looking things up online is bad, that a more authentic response to questions is to just - I don't know, passively muse on them?

Looking things up is good.  Looking things up is how you learn.  And it's how your children will learn, too, if you let them.

Several of my Facebook friends today posted links to "Mom's iPhone Rules For Son," a set of guidelines a mother gave her 18-year-old son before giving him his own phone.  There are many reasonable pieces of advice in there, but this one struck me as absolutely absurd: "Wonder without googling."

Don't you remember in school when your teachers would tell you to stop and look up a new word in the dictionary whenever you encountered one?  Or when they taught you to use an encyclopedia? So why does this not apply when the dictionary or the encyclopedia is digital and not print?

A few days ago I started thinking about yeast and bread - how was yeasted bread discovered? Where and by whom?  How does yeast work chemically? And so on.  So I looked it up.  I spent about an hour and half online reading and now I know a ton about yeast (go on, ask me).  What if instead I had just said, "Huh, yeast - that's weird," and left it at that?

Sure, a kid might come to a few interesting conclusions about yeast on his own.  And maybe a few of the very brightest kids would concoct independent experiments on yeast.  But most kids, like most adults, would think about it for a minute and then move on, because that's how most people's brains work when they have no information to kickstart their thought processes.  Yes, some truly ineffable things (life, death, justice, love) may be best pondered in the silence of the heart.  But simple factual information about bread is not one of them.

My daughter is too young to read, but whenever she asks me one of those typical toddler "why?" questions and I don't know the answer or can't clearly explain it, I say, "Let's look it up online together," and then we read about amphibians or watch a YouTube video on how to make glass.  Actual information about glass-blowing seems to me far more valuable and interesting (and educational) than fruitless low-tech pondering.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Blind Dog And Guide Cat Go On Walks Together

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

With Sympathy


Deleted Lines From My Recent Grad School Applications

1. "I am animated, in equal part, by grandiose theories and the small-minded memory of long-ago slights."

2. "I am pedantic with those below me, but slavishly obedient to anyone in authority."

3. "I am reflexively progressive but culturally and socially isolated from the people I feel most qualified to save."

4. "Critiquing is as close as I have ever come to enjoying."

5. "I am perennially unable to perform simple tasks like paying a bill or finding my car in a parking lot, and I choose to believe that's because I'm smarter than everyone else rather than the much more likely opposite."

6. "The less something matters to the world at large, the more it matters to me."