Hurricane Sandy: Curbing my Enthusiasm

It’s very strange to turn on the TV to images of havoc when ultimately I ended up having such a calm night in my neighborhood.  If I hadn’t known it was a Hurricane I would have thought last night was just kind of stormy, not devastating.  The mood was light where I lived. A small handful of people wandered out to bars to socialize in the stranger-than-normal calm of NYC.

What’s funny is that the sensationalism in the news reporting is very easy to catch when it already feels in-genuine  Looking at the TV screen, then looking outside my window to my calm street I wanted to shout: Liars! but knew that the storm really was brutal in some places.

At one point I even joined in the twitter fun by passing this image around:

Hurricane and Monsters

Hurricane Sandy unleashes her worst.

But in all seriousness, I feel very happy to have escaped last night without any danger. And it’s provided some nice cuddle time with the boyfriend.  Although he did make us watch the shining… on a night when things are already creaking and the power might go out at any minute.  Can you imagine?!

Fish, a Tap Essay

I let slip to my boss recently that something has changed in me and I may be now more interested in journalism than I actually am in theatre. I’m not quite sure why this is happening to me (it might be a phase!), but I know I’ve become enamored with the “ideas circuit” as I once heard it called. What’s the idea’s circuit?  I’m not quite sure who coined the phrase and what exactly they meant, but I imagine it to be entities like Slate, NPR, Ted Talks, RadioLab; and people like Neil Degrass Tyson,  Malcolm Gladwell, and (until recently?) Jonah Lehrer. Look at your Fish

Well recently  I came across a new one for me: Robin Sloan.  Robin has led what sounds like an interesting life being a Media Inventor.  In his own words, these are people that are “primarily interested in content—words, pictures, ideas—who also experiment with new formats, new tools, and new technology.”  Robin held a position in this vein at twitter in the early years of social media. And Why am i talking about him? well he’s created this mobile app called FISH which he describes as a TAP ESSAY. Basically it’s an essay broken up into slides, and you tap the screen of your iphone to advance while you read it one slide at a time. Each slide contains about one sentence (or sometimes one word, for dramatic effect) and is styled slightly differently in terms of font and colors to make the journey dynamic.  And I really love it. Sloan’s thesis of the essay you can read for yourself, but I want to say that I think the delivery of the message is one of my favorites that I’ve ever seen.  Here’s a list of reasons why:

  1. Something about the interactivity of tapping to advance makes it feel like play
  2. Because you’re not confronted with the FULL ESSAY at one time there’s no urge to scroll to the bottom and think: this is too long. And stop reading
  3. Because each line is carefully delivered and styled appropriately it feels like your hearing someone talk.

It’s a really well done product.  I have actually loved “slideshows” for a long time (mostly for that reason that you can control how  much writing is released and pull major focus to a point if that’s what you want).  A while before discovering Fish: A Tap Essay I created a “click-through” essay in service of my Undergraduate Alumni Association titled The Third Thing College Gets You, hosted on slideshare. The idea came to me out of nowhere and I’m actually quite proud of it. Every now and then I tweet it, or post it on facebook hoping that someone important sees it, stands up at their desk and shouts: That Kid’s a Great Communicator!

That will be Mission Accomplished. Enjoy The Third Thing…  below. :)

Men’s Bags: Hold-alls, Barrels, Messengers, Duffles.

Recently I went with some good friends to a “gay days” at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. We had an excellent time, and I got to ride the fastest and tallest roller coaster in North America. Although most of us were stone sober we did finally arrive back in New York exhausted at 2AM. As we piled out of the van and hugged good bye I collected a whole foods canvas bag which I had used to carry snacks in that afternoon. Justin and I said goodbye to our friends and walked home. The next morning I realized that I had left my shoulder bag in the trunk of the zipcar.

I’m not quite sure how it happened. I think that the Whole foods bag satisfied my need to be holding something, otherwise I probably would have felt naked and would have figured it out.  Also, we were tired.

Since I live in NYC and I’m ALWAYS carrying around books, gym clothes, extra food, etc. the loss of this bag has disrupted me immensely.  But before I I really go searching for a new bag I decided I would really shop around, and take some time to think about it. Here’s a picture of the bag I lost (the colors are a little different):

Fred Perry Blue Shoulder Bag

There are 3 things to consider for the replacement bag:

  • It needs to work in the office, or at least over casual office attire.
  • It needs to be big enough to hold my gyms stuff (the bulkiest part of that is my sneakers)
  • I like the Retro-look, Bright Colors, and typically don’t wear things with huge logos splashed across the front.

So here are some choices.  Since this bag was Fred Perry I decided that I’d look hard at some other Fred Perry bags, but eventually the search stretched out to other designers.  What does everyone like?

Fred Perry Blue and Gold Barrel

Fred Perry Black Hold-all

Goodale Grey Rain Duffle

Lacoste Blue (or Red) Gymnasium Bag

Speedo USA & UK Hands

Puma “Ferrari Collection” Brown Weekender

French Connection UK Red Shoulder Bag

 

Fashion aside, there are some pricing/sizing concerns,  but it’s fun to cast a wide net .

the NEXT good thing.

Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn.

This past week I went and saw the play Cock at the Duke theater here in New York.  This is a very sparsely written, sparsely staged show in which a young, handsome man must choose between his boyfriend and a woman who he has unexpectedly fallen in love with.  As Boyfriend and Girl battle for the attention of the indecisive, identity crisis victim there are many funny lines urging him to do what is natural: living a heterosexual social existence, or following his “born in” gayness.  Somehow bisexuality as a concept is only briefly mentioned, but mostly this play is about choice. choice choice choice.

Leaving the theatre I was talking to my companions about how much I liked the show, but how I was surprised that it had opened up this debate which I had thought we already finished. Aren’t we, I said, beyond the point where people believe they can choose their sexuality. We are Born This Way to quote Lady Gaga.  The response I got from my friend surprised me, and it was actually the second time in one week that I had someone describe choice as the next era in identity politics.

Please let me backup: Earlier that week my dear friend Cale and I had a long conversation over ramen about  Lady Gaga (it seems she enters all conversations about identity) and how she was “a disappointment” to Cale.  At first I was indignant.  Who could be disappointed? I balked.  I said it not as a worshiping fan, but as a person alive in 2012. Gaga might be an acquired taste, but she is notable enough and successful enough that “disappointed” felt like an odd word.  Cale explained, and I will now paraphrase:

We’ve already had champions for the just be yourself/just love yourself movement. This is something we covered in the 90s and earlier. “it’s ok to be gay.” “black is beautiful.” These kinds expressions are good because they confront discrimination but they are still based on one era of identity politics: the What-you-are is Who-you-are era.  When Gaga first came on the scene and was acting crazy I was really excited because she wasn’t just acting crazy she was defying categories. What type of person wears a meat dress? well no type. Gaga was creating this elaborate personality that wasn’t actually based on race, religion, or gender.  She was simply who she was, with no category of what she was. And so the underlying message wasn’t What-you-are is Who-you-are, it was: Explode-who-you-are and go invent yourself. This is an era of identity politics with much more choice. But then she released the album Born This Way and everything imploded because you don’t have any creative power anymore; you were just born this way. the end.

I’ve shared this conversation with several people and gotten a lot of mixed responses. But it opened up in my head the concept of looking toward choice as the NEXT good thing.  My theatre companion for the show Cock suggested to me: perhaps this play was operating in a space where this man’s sexuality was a choice and not inherent. After all, there was not easy answer for the main character.  He couldn’t just detect who he was attracted to, he had to choose. And it takes him a play’s worth of time.

So what do I think: I want people to believe it’s ok to be gay. And for now having no explanation other than your genetic makeup is nice. The fact that “it’s not a choice” has been a great defense for gay people, disabled people, and minorities. But as two friends in one week have expressed to me, maybe there’s a new era of social justice where (as long as your not hurting anyone) your choices should be respected too, not just traits that you were born with.  That sentence sounds really obvious when I read it back, but in my mind it was a subtle shift. Perhaps we can have it both ways? what you are is ok… and what you choose is ok too.

New Tech

I’m somebody that cycles through a lot of Google calendars. First of all, when you have close friends who don’t mind sharing their calendar with you it’s not hard to collect a whole fleet of them because it makes planning events much more easy. When can I force you to come over and make soup with me?  Well, it looks like you’re free Thursday!

[On the topic of soup.  I’ve been thinking lately about home much I like inviting people over and cooking for them.  It’s such a nice thing that I don’t think I have much opportunity to do in NYC. Part of the reason is because there’s no room in our apartments, but also everyone is damn busy. My plan is to have a staggered dinner party that takes place on 4 different days throughout the month, that way you can invite everyone you like, and there’s a chance they can make one of the 4 days.  I would tie the days all together with a common menu theme, like serving a different soup each night.  The entire series would be called “4 Great Soups,” or maybe “Soup’s On!”  don’t you wanna be friends with me?]

Any anyway, calendars. I also I tend to set up a new google calendar for each project I’m’ involved in.  Lately I become a volunteer event coordinator for my college alumni group.  It’s a lot of fun but it fills my calendar with deadlines and events.  For this reason I created a new Google Calendar and, more than any other supporting calendar to date, i decided that I REALY needed this to sync alongside my general calendar on my iphone.

I’m just going to warn everybody.  This is more tricky than you expect, because you actually can’t do it from you device.  I snooped around in my settings menu for about 5 minutes before googling for the answer which takes exactly 1 more step than i would have expected in 2012.  You can visit this link for all the hairy details, but basically you’ve got a few steps to link you phone to your google account, THEN you gotta switch to your computer, sign into your google account and visit m.google.com, a place you’ve never been to before, to select what parts of your google calendar get sent over to your phone.

If you need to do this yourself. good luck. :)

People’s History

Why does school happen before you’re grown up?  There are so many things that I would have valued more now that I’ve grown.  there is a book called the People’s History of the United States, by historian Howard Zinn.  When I was a rising junior in high school I remember that we had to read this tome (it was a very thick book) as summer reading and write a summary of each chapter.   By the end of this assignment I should have had a solid overview of all of the major events and time periods between 1942 and Today.  HOWEVER, because i was young and dumb and on summer vacation, I somehow found a way to do the work without actually paying attention to anything.  And nowadays I feel like my historical knowledge is a little patchy, so I’m actually planning to read the whole book again!

Just think of the time I would have saved if I had cared more earlier.  But I guess you can just never predict when a future conversation about the musical  Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is going to make you regret your attentiveness in 11th grade.

I also occurs to me that I should probably look for those summaries the next time I’m home at my folks house.

Did this need to be invented?

I’ve got a lot of friends with gift registries right now: for babies, for weddings, etc.  Actually.  Those are the only two reasons I can think of.   the end result is that I’m getting a huge array of home goods paraded in front of me, and some of them are quite funny.  Usually I think their funny because they are so specific. Here’s on i saw today:

The All-in-one avocado tool

Now. I love avocado almost as much as I love air.  In fact,  you’ll notice it ranks well on my all time list of favorite things:

  1. Air
  2. Alligators/Hippos from Fantasia
  3. Avocado
  4. Playing the piano
  5. Singing
  6. NPR
  7. Stationary
  8. Funny Drag Queens
  9. Surprise Endings
  10. Bodybuilders

But do you really need an all-in-one avocado tool? maybe a knife and spoon would get the job done.