Tag Archives: The New Yorker

sunday salon/currently …

Sunday Salon banner

Big week ahead!  Listen to Your Mother Pittsburgh is Friday night and it’s pretty much all that’s on my mind. There’s some final show prep that I need to work on  — including writing a two-sentence introduction that should be easy, but this is proving to be THE HARDEST THING.

Yesterday the Tribune Review did a nice write-up about the event, including an interview with me.  That was fun to put on my PR director hat again. On Wednesday evening a few of us are going to HOT for Your Health, an event hosted by Women’s Health Conversations, one of our show’s sponsors. And then Friday is showtime!

I’m taking Friday as a vacation day from work and getting my hair, nails, and makeup professionally done (thanks to a generous gift card from my sister-in-law).  I am very, very low maintenance when it comes to this stuff;  I have the most basic of hairstyles and can go months without a haircut, I don’t know what it means to have one’s “roots showing” (my hair is its same natural color that it has always been), I can’t remember the last time I had a manicure (pretty sure we’re talking at least a decade and quite possibly much more, maybe even two), and the only makeup I wear is lipstick. This is just not my thing. It’s expensive and time-consuming and I usually can’t be bothered except for a special occasion — you know, like telling an audience of several hundred people about part of my life that I’ve never publicly discussed.

Reading

The Price of SilenceThis week I finished The Price of Silence: A Mother’s Perspective on Mental Illness by Liza Long. She writes candidly and honestly about the struggle of getting an accurate mental health diagnosis for her teenage son and her experiences navigating the mental health and judicial systems.  She addresses how stigma and fear are at the crux of our society’s ineptitude in caring for people with a mental illness. The book is sobering and well-researched. I’m planning a longer review in the next few days (ironically, May 2-8 happens to be National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week).

I’m trying to catch up on my many back issues of The New Yorker. One of the most fascinating articles was Gay Talese’s piece (“The Voyeur’s Motel”) in the April 11 issue  about a guy who purchased a motel for the soul purpose of spying on his guests and recording their sexual activities. It’s an unbelievable and fascinating read, and apparently a book is coming out this fall.  Another good one was “The Scold,” Nick Paumgarten’s profile of Mr. Money Moustache from the February 29, 2016 issue.

 

That’s about all for now. Hope you have a great week!

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

currently … wrapping up christmas

Christmas Eve - presents

Christmas Eve, 2015

Currently
It’s our last night of our Christmas vacation in Philly. We’ve been here just shy of a week, enjoying a nice balance of seeing family and friends (usually over brunch or dinner) while also having some downtime (usually spent reading or writing).  It’s always impossible to fit in everyone who we’d like to see and all we’d like to do, but I think it worked out well this time.

Tomorrow’s a travel day back to the “Burgh, then I’m off on Tuesday. Whenever possible, I try to give myself a “re-entry day” on the tail end of these trips. It’s back to work on Wednesday — along with one final dentist appointment this year to use up some insurance dollars — before another few remaining vacation days segue into a long weekend.

Christmas Reading

Like FamilyRDear Mr. You

I admit, I’m scrambling to meet my goal of 52 books read in 2015.  Right now, my tally is 47 (much lower than previous years).  This may be attainable if I stick to shorter books, but I’m not sure.

Reading short books was my strategy for this trip.  So far on this vacation, I’ve read one —Like Family by Paolo Giordano. I was so excited to see this one at the library because I loved (but, sadly, didn’t review) his previous novel, The Solitude of Prime Numbers.  I really liked this new one, which I breezed through in a few hours (if that). Told in flashback and set in Italy, it’s about a couple who hire a housekeeper, Mrs. A., to help out during a difficult pregnancy and who stays on as a nanny for several years. After Mrs. A. is diagnosed with cancer, she decides to leave the household abruptly. The book, then, is about how she has changed the course of the couple’s marriage and their lives.

Right now I’m reading Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker, which is incredibly well-written and very likely to be on my favorites list. This exactly the reason why I usually don’t post my best-of lists before year’s end; this time of year often brings more opportunities than usual to read and more often than not, something I read while we finish up this trip around the sun surprises and delights me.  Dear Mr. You is going to be that book. The concept is fantastic: it’s structured as a collection of letters that Ms. Parker has written to each of the significant men in her life.

Christmas Not Reading …
For the past few years, I’ve enjoyed spending part of Christmas week with a holiday-themed story. The timing of this needs to be carefully considered and calibrated; I don’t like to start this particular book much before Christmas Eve and I like to be finished by the day after Christmas. This started in 2011 when I reviewed A Clockwork Christmas, a collection of four steampunk tales.

A Christmas Carol was my 2012 selection, followed by The Chimes last year. (I’m not sure what happened in 2013. Maybe A Christmas Carol again, I don’t know.)  I wasn’t impressed with The Chimes, and I was even less enamored with this year’s selection, The Cricket on the Hearth. Slightly less than halfway through this one, there was still no sign of Christmas in Dickens’ long-winded and discombobulated narrative.  This happened to be one of my Classics Club selections, too (although not the one for this most recent spin), so I’ll probably replace it with something.

Christmas Listening …
Between wrapping gifts and a few bouts of insomnia, I’ve been listening to more podcasts than usual. Here are some of the best:

The Writer’s Almanac: “The Meeting” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (12/25/2015)
Such a perfect poem for Christmas when you’re missing someone special.

Burnt Toast: “Someone Put a Diaper on the Turkey” (12/17/2015)
Listeners’ stories of hilarious holiday disasters involving food.

New Yorker Poetry: Ellen Bass Reads Adam Zagajewski (12/16/2015)
Adam Zagajewski’s poem “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” resonated with me.

On Being: Martin Sheen: Spirituality of Imagination (12/16/2015)
Fantastic interview with actor and activist Martin Sheen about his spirituality.

“Yeah, the love that I longed for, and I think all of us really long for, is knowing that we are loved. A knowingness about our being that unites us to all of humanity, to all of the universe. That despite ourselves, we are loved. And when you realize that, and you embrace that, you begin to look at everyone else and you can see very clearly who in your vision knows they’re loved and who does not. And that makes all the difference. And I began to give thanks and praise for that love. You know how, so often, people say they go on this journey — and I said it, too — that “I’m looking for God.” But God has already found us, really. We have to look in the spot where we’re least likely to look, and that is within ourselves. And when we find that love, that presence, deep within our own personal being — and it’s not something that you can earn, or something that you can work towards. It’s just a realization of being human, of being alive, of being conscious. And that love is overwhelming. And that is the basic foundation of joy. And we become enviable joyful. And then we see it in others, and we seek to ignite that love in others. You can’t do it. You can’t force someone to realize they’re loved, but you can show them.” – Martin Sheen

The Moth Podcast: Eve Plumb and The Pittsburgh StorySLAM (12/15/2015) 
Eve Plumb (you know her as Jan Brady) is hilarious in this episode of The Moth where she shares stories about her childhood on and off the set of The Brady Bunch, and her relationship with her mother. In another story (not involving Eve Plumb or Jan Brady), a slideshow of photos intended for an audience of two winds up being shown at a family gathering.

Christmas Shopping …
The Husband, The Girl, and I all received some great books for Christmas — and The Girl and I went on a little bit of a shopping spree (thanks to her Christmas cash burning a hole in her pocket) at two local independent bookstores.  I need to wrap up this post, though, and get to bed, so I’ll plan on doing that recap separately.

Anticipating … 
I can’t believe this is the last Sunday Salon/Currently for 2015!  I really like doing these posts (even though they tend to take me forever) and in looking back over my blogging this year, oftentimes they’ve been the only posts I’ve written in a particular week.  I’m hoping to remedy that in 2016.

In addition to the book haul from this week, I have a few other fun posts planned.  Hope your holidays were good ones and that you have a great last week of 2015!

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

podcasts of the last few weeks. (and months. and years.) Ep. 11

NaBloPoMo November 2015

Something has gone a little quirky with my PocketCasts app; for whatever reason, a lot of old episodes recently downloaded onto my phone when my phone’s WiFi was left on. (This snafu nearly blew our monthly home Internet/data/Wifi/whatever usage allowance slightly over the edge.) And when I say a lot, I’m talking 1,300 back episodes — some of which are over three years old and some that I know I’ve listened to and deleted.

(I’m a little frustrated with PocketCasts, actually; it seems a bit unreliable lately, quirky, and more than a little buggy.  Anyone else having these sort of issues or is it just me?)  I’m sure there’s some explanation that more technical minds than mine could figure out.

While I’m pondering that, here’s something else I can’t figure out: why the hell was The Longest Shortest Time cancelled by WNYC?

I listen to a bunch of podcasts — as of this writing, I subscribe to 88 of ’em, which could be contributing to my downloading issues, but I can’t be the only person who subscribes to this many podcasts, can I?  — and The Longest Shortest Time is one of my top five. Hillary Frank has a knack for telling compelling stories about the struggles of parenthood. It’s honest, real, well-written and never fails to draw me in, regardless of the interview.

From the Facebook page, it seems as if Hillary Frank is considering next steps, which will hopefully involve taking LST to another home.  We can all keep our fingers crossed that this does happen — and sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, I’ll be catching up on a few LST episodes I’ve missed.

Here’s what I’ve been listening to lately — in chronological order, including the first episode of an infamous podcast that’s a year old:

Fresh Air with Terry Gross: Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber On ‘Finding God In All The Wrong People (9/17/2015)
A recovering alcoholic and former stand-up comic, Nadia Bolz-Weber started The House For All Sinners and Saints, a church in Denver, Colorado that is rooted in the Lutheran tradition. (Bolz-Weber is an ordained minister in the ELCA).  She’s a down-to-earth combination of realism and traditional theology and I loved listening to her. Her new book, Accidental Saints: Finding God in the Wrong People, came out this month and I immediately checked it out from the library after listening to this interview.

Strangers: The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read (7/10/2015)
How does someone graduate from high school and college — and then spend 17 years as a high school teacher — without knowing how to read? John Corcoran did. His story is fascinating and sad at the same time.

New Yorker: Fiction: Michael Cunningham Reads Harold Brodkey’s “Dumbness Is Everything,” (6/1/2015)
I love Michael Cunningham and would happily listen to him reciting the alphabet. Even better is listening to his melodious voice read this Harold Brodkey story from a 1996 issue of The New Yorker. I’d never read — nor heard of — the late Harold Brodkey before this episode, which was certainly quite the way to start my morning commute to work.  (And yes, I now need to read much more of his stuff.) Love the New Yorker: Fiction podcasts for that very reason.

Death, Sex, and Money: “In Sickness and In Mental Health (4/8/2015)
One in five people has a mental illness. We have a stereotype about who “these people” are, but the reality is that people with mental illness are our family members, our friends and loved ones, and our co-workers.  They’re people like Guilia who was a happily married newlywed before experiencing a psychological break and being hospitalized for what would be diagnosed as bipolar disorder.

Serial: Episode 1, “The Alibi”  (10/3/2014)
In what is probably the cruelest part of having some episodes downloaded and others not, the first episode of “Serial” turned up in my queue, followed by … none of the others.  Of course I listened to the first episode anyway. Of course I did. And of course I’m now hooked.

As I said, it’s so odd that all these old episodes would suddenly just download. I can’t figure it out, but regardless of the reason, I’m glad it allowed me to catch some great episodes of some of my favorite podcasts.

 

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

Podcasts of the (Last Few) Weeks: Ep. 9 and 10

 

I’m behind on my Podcast of the Week posts by a few weeks, which means that you get more than the usual amount of great stuff for your listening pleasure. So much good stuff to tell you about in this “episode.” Let’s get started.

One of my recent recommendations was “The Accidental Gay Parents” from The Longest Shortest Time. I loved this story about John and Trystan’s journey as a couple and their four-year quest to officially adopt John’s niece and nephew. Their adoption was finalized earlier this month and they recently returned to The Longest Shortest Time with an update in Episode 62, “The Accidental Gay Parents 2.” IfI had to make a list of some of my most favorite stories I’ve heard via podcast, this one would be among them. (A bonus: I found out that a local blogger friend of mine has been friends with Trystan since middle school!)

“Strangers” is becoming one of my must-listen-to podcasts and the first episode I heard was  “American Mormon – International Mr. Leather.”  I am totally drawing a blank on the guy’s name, but suffice it to say, he was raised Mormon. On the podcast, he shared his family’s reaction to his news that he was gay and and the losses of several friends and partners during the AIDS epidemic. Today, as the holder of the title “International Mr. Leather,” he speaks about his life in a polyamory relationship and the parallels it has with Mormonism.

Wearing a ribbon on one’s lapel to symbolize support for a particular cause is a gesture that needs no explanation. The idea of such a ribbon originated in spring 1991 when an artists’ group in New York known as Visual Aids decided to make a simple, folded red ribbon to raise awareness of AIDS. This was during a time when AIDS was feared and people with AIDS were pariahs. With “Awareness,” episode 173 of the podcast 99% Invisible, those who were involved in creating the first AIDS ribbons reflect on the impact of their small ribbon. (7/21/2015)

On Song Exploder, Death Cab for Cutie lead singer Ben Gibbard talks about the creation of “El Dorado” from the band’s new album and the origin of the song in his divorce from actress Zooey Deschanel. I include this because I really like Death Cab for Cutie.

Margaret Sullivan doesn’t do many interviews, but in the July 22 episode of Longform, she discussed her role as public editor of The New York Times. It’s a candid, insightful look at an interesting job as well as at journalism itself.

Longform gave its listeners a bonus episode on July 31 with this interview with Noreen Malone, the author of the New York Magazine piece “Cosby: The Women – An Unwanted Sisterhood.”  She discusses that powerful cover photo, the genesis for it, and the process of getting all the women to participate.

I’ll admit that I didn’t really follow all the news about the recent New Horizons’ mission to Pluto. The New Yorker Out Loud podcast’s July 20th episode “Do You Know Pluto?” was an intriguing look at this former planet – and what qualifies something to be categorized as a planet in the first place.

If you’re a ProBlogger reader, you might enjoy Darren Rowse’s new podcast, also called ProBlogger. His popular series, “31 Days to a Better Blog” is a must for newbies to this crazy blogging world and a reminder to those of us who have been doing this for awhile. (When anyone asks me if you can really make money from blogging, I’m going to direct them to Episode #32, “Can You Really Make Money Blogging?“)

I’m dying to talk to someone about Alec  Baldwin’s interview with singer-songwriter Paul Simon on “Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin” because it was … just … so… strange. I mean, it was almost uncomfortable to listen to. If you’ve heard it, you know what I mean and how Paul Simon (who I really like, but a little less so after that interview) came across as a total ass.

(A much more enjoyable “Here’s the Thing” episode was Alec’s conversation with David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. Listen to that instead.)

…’til next time.

 

 

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

sunday salon: currently

The Sunday Salon

Currently: In my usual weekend spot on the deck with a Mason jar of water, the Sunday paper and my current read (Belief Is It’s Own Kind of Truth, Maybe by my friend, Pittsburgh author Lori Jakiela). Nothing on the agenda today except reading, preparing a few blog posts for the week ahead, finishing a book review, getting caught up on the two online courses I’m taking, and potentially watching Steelers football on TV tonight.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a gorgeous summer’s day. (Well, aside from being at the beach, that is, but that’s not where we’re at.)

Reading: I was between books earlier this week, not quite sure what I was in the mood for next, and decided to try something unusual for me – finishing an entire issue of The New Yorker. To my surprise, I actually did. I tend to read the magazine piecemeal: an article here, a short story there, and pretty soon I have piles of them around the house with those insert cards bookmarking my spot.

The New Yorker - July 6 and 13 “Five Hostages,” an article in the July 6 and 13 issue, deserves a mention because it was so compelling and heartbreaking. Those families … I simply cannot imagine the anguish they went through, and to not be able to tell anyone that their child was a hostage in Syria while they personally were negotiating with ISIS. The focus of the piece (which I had to read over several days and in brief intervals because it was so emotionally intense) is how the abandonment they felt led them to join forces with each other and David Bradley, the owner of the media company that owns The Atlantic. He took an active, personal interest in bringing the hostages home, as Lawrence Wright has written in this incredible piece of journalism.

Incidentally, if you haven’t listened to the July 21 interview with New Yorker editor David Remnick on WNYC’s podcast “Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin,” it is well worth the 48 minutes. Very insightful and entertaining, as most of the episodes on this podcast are. (This one is quickly becoming one of my favorites.)

Oh, and if you are a listener of “Here’s the Thing,” what the hell was that interview with Paul Simon earlier this week? Holy shit. I’ve never heard an interview where the subject sounded so miserable. Seriously, Paul Simon came across as a total ass, and I say that as a fan of his – although slightly less of one now. Uncomfortable to listen to doesn’t describe that.

Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe

As mentioned, on Friday I started reading Pittsburgh author Lori Jakiela’s new memoir Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe. She had me from her first sentence: “When my real mother dies, I go looking for another one.”  Belief is described as part adoption narrative and part meditation on family, motherhood, and what it means to make authentic connections. So far, 43 pages into this, it delivers.

Listening To: In the car, my listening is still primarily podcasts, which I can’t get enough of. I’m also listening to the audio book of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, which is so incredibly good. I have this on my Kindle and I can’t believe I’ve never read this one, but that’s what The Classics Club is for. (This is one of my selections, mainly because it has been on my TBR forever.)

Counting: Speaking of TBRs, have you guys done that quiz/calculator thing that’s making the rounds on Facebook about how long it will take you to read your entire TBR pile?  My results are depressing as hell. With 1,870 books on my “want-to-read” Goodreads list (yes, really) the TBR calculator informs me that reading all 1,870 books will take me 26 years and 8 months and I’ll finish on March 29, 2042 when I am 73 years old.

It lies: I’ll only be 72 on that date, with 73 looming a few days later. But, hey, what’s a year when it is going to take me 26 of them to read all the books I want – without adding a single thing to said want-to-read list?

Learning: Because a coworker mentioned how much she is enjoying MOOCs (massive online open courses), I decided to see what they are all about. Needless to say, I’m completely hooked on them, too. I told my mom that I was registered for a total of five online courses between now and throughout the fall, and she asked how I possibly found the time for five classes.  (She knows the answer to that: I’m the world’s worst when it comes to cleaning my house, as I have no interest in that crap.)

Anyway, I’ll be spending some time today trying to wrap up what I can of Weeks 3, 4, 5, and 6 of “Literature and the Country House,” my first course and one that is being offered through the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, UK. When I announced to The Facebook that I was doing this, more than a few thought I was actually spending six weeks in England taking this course in person. I wish. Instead, I’m on my deck in Pittsburgh dusting off the English part of my English/Communications degree while reading poetry and excerpts from “Hamlet” and other classics. I’m more than a little behind, but that’s the beauty of MOOCs. Besides being free, they tend to move at one’s own pace.

My second course, “Childhood in the Digital Age,” started this past Monday with The Open University. That’s a bit shorter (only four weeks) and seems like it will be easier to keep up with. This one has some connections with my job, in a sense, so there are practical and personal reasons for participating in this.

Watching: Probably the Steelers vs. Vikings game tonight because … Steelers football, baby! Whoooo!

Hope you’re having a great Sunday!

Thanks for sharing this post!
0