My wife and I finished season one last night. It’s really, really good — as good as everybody says it is.

It’s exciting to think about what a weird show this is, compared to the rest of TV: you’ve got the transgendered and gay characters at the forefront, sure, but it’s also a super-Jewish show (“the most Jewish show I’ve seen on TV”). Of course, just like a lot of other TV, it’s amazing that none of these people really seem to work (SPOILER: Josh, the only character with a job-job as an A&R man at a record company, gets fired).

But I really enjoyed it, and, maybe best of all: the music really kicks ass.


Filed under: my watching year 2014



Going Deep with David Rees

I suggest actually watching this series backwards — the last episode of the first season, “Shaking Hands,” is the best, there’s a [SPOILER ALERT] scene where some researchers attach strings to the muscles in a cadaver’s arm to show you how a handshake works. Really gross and totally amazing.

Here’s a nice interview with Rees about the show, which really started with his book, How To Sharpen Pencils:

My hope was always that people would realize how interesting pencils are. A pencil represents 500 years of engineering and experimentation and materials research and stuff, and by extension how interesting the whole world is if you just decide to take a minute and get out a magnifying glass and just really study the shit out of shoelaces. To us, shoelaces are incredible. That was the total mission of the show. We live in this society that really values spectacle and the latest gizmos and gadgets. Part of the spirit of our show is that anything can be interesting. It’s just a matter of perspective and how obsessed with it you get.

Emphasis mine. You can watch the whole season on Hulu.

Filed under: my watching year 2014



Stephin Merritt at Barnes & Noble Union Square, 9/29/14

Merritt was there to talk 101 Two-Letter Words—his new book of short poems celebrating the 101 two-letter words allowed in Scrabble—with Roz Chast, who illustrated the book.

Not pictured: Stephin’s ukelele.

See Stephin’s full list tour dates

For those who need a recap: Boy meets adoring, obliging apple tree and eventually, through a combination of utter impotence and blatant manipulation, makes off with her branches, her trunk and, of course, the literal fruits of her labor. (I’m not even going to get into the biblical implications of Silverstein’s decision to make the tree of the book’s title apple-bearing.) “And the tree was happy,” reads the last line of the 52-page story, a sentiment repeated by Silverstein so many times that it sends some, like me, into paroxysms of reflexive indignation.

Of course, maybe we’re just projecting, but to those who would say that Silverstein’s book is a moving, sentimental depiction of the unyielding love of a parent for a child, I’d say, Learn better parenting skills. To those who defend it as a warts-and-all parable lamenting man’s inhumanity to man — or, perhaps, man’s inhumanity to woman — I’d say that I’m not so sure Silverstein, who dedicated the book to a former girlfriend, “Nicky,” was writing an indictment of what men assume they can get way with. The boy uses the tree as a plaything, lives off her like a parasite, and then, when she’s a shell of her former self and no longer serves any real purpose, he sits on her — which makes her happy? (“That book is the epitome of male privilege,” a friend groused.)


“An artist is a creature driven by demons. He don’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why.” —William Faulkner, born on this day in 1897.

(via yeahwriters)


This past few days there have been reports that there is a ”just as bad as ISIS” terror group plotting international attacks from the same region — a group named Khorasan.

The director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., said on Thursday that “in terms of threat to the…

“I guess, in short, I don’t write with an agenda. The few times I’ve tried have failed. I listen to what the poem wants to become, not what I expect it to be.”
— Jeanann Verlee, interviewed by Thomas Fucaloro for Luna Luna (via bostonpoetryslam)

(via writebloody)

Go to other countries. Not a typical backpacking tour. Planned tour
means you will hang with Americans on bikes and flirt with drunk
Germans and someone will steal your Levi’s in the hostel and a guy
from Poland will sock you in the face while bad techno plays
everywhere and you will learn nothing except that your face hurts and
not everyone showers. Get into other cultures and talk politics and
love. Meeting other people is the only way to know if you believe what
you believe cause it’s been handed to you, or if it really rings true
in your heart.

Getting lost should be seen as a sweet chance to be found.

Remember, you belong everywhere.

— Derrick Brown (via awkwardmelmo)

(via writebloody)

“I’d just say to aspiring journalists or writers—who I meet a lot of—do it now. Don’t wait for permission to make something that’s interesting or amusing to you. Just do it now. Don’t wait. Find a story idea, start making it, give yourself a deadline, show it to people who’ll give you notes to make it better. Don’t wait till you’re older, or in some better job than you have now. Don’t wait for anything. Don’t wait till some magical story idea drops into your lap. That’s not where ideas come from. Go looking for an idea and it’ll show up. Begin now. Be a fucking soldier about it and be tough.”
— Ira Glass, LifeHacker Interview (via yeahwriters)
“Carrying over a feeling of failure from one day to the next is a recipe for a string of non-productive days. So make sure to end the day not feeling like it was lost.”

Calvin liked the water on this hike a lot better than the last time in #Ojai. So did @spencer_seale and I! #hiking #matilija

Currently at the top of that waterfall. #yosemite #yodome2014 #yosemitefalls #waterfall (at Yosemite Falls)