Saturday, January 22, 2011

Drug awareness

One of my sisters is now a PTA member at the elementary school all three of us attended as children.  Her sons, my nephews, go to school there.  Sometime last year, the association cleaned out a storage cache dating back to the school's days under its original name, Sunnyside.  There were photos, letters, programs, and scrapbooks from as early as the 1950's ... and nobody wanted them.  Some of the items eventually made their way to the school district's headquarters, but my sister rescued things that otherwise would have been thrown out.

The page above came from a scrapbook from the late 70's or early 80's.  Look, pictures from a drug awareness program! I remember attending those at school.  See, there are some teachers speaking, probably about the evils of drug abuse.  There's a police officer, perhaps explaining the legal ramifications, or what to do if a bad man should ever offer you drugs.  And ...

Wait wait wait wait wait.

There's an interactive table of pipes and bongs?  And Mrs. Zieth is explaining their uses? I so don't remember this from the drug awareness programs when I was in elementary school.  Look at the little kids, eyes alight with interest, exploring the fascinating items on the table.  How come we never got a pipe and bong demonstration?

I think my favorite part is that this photo was actually taken, selected for the scrapbook, pasted down, and carefully captioned.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2010 in review: Live Music

On to the final recap post for 2010 - music.  Here are the numbers:

Total shows (counting each day of multi-day events): 40
A couple notes on this - for the first time, there were a handful of big shows I couldn't count because though they were "shows," they weren't music.  Comedy, book readings, Anthony Bourdain.  Even if I had counted them, though, I'd still be down nearly 20 shows from 2009's total.  Damn!  I think the crazy Spain run of 2009 accounts for half of that discrepancy, though.

Performers seen for the first time (headlining, in this particular incarnation): 6  (Dawes, Jay Farrar + Ben Gibbard, Jakob Dylan, Xalam, Hunstville, the National)

Performers seen for the first time (support or other variety setting): 19  (including Mike Benign, the Low Anthem, the Dodos, the Duchess and the Duke, the Books, Mavis Staples, Outrageous Cherry, Lawrence Arabia, Philip Selway, Owen Pallett, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, J.C. Brooks, Joan of Arc)

Seen most often: Wilco, Martin Rivas, Philip Selway

Favorite concert moments of 2010, in no order:

  • My mostly-joking request for "Single Ladies" being granted by Jeff Tweedy, 3/13
  • Glenn Kotche beheading a woman during On Fillmore's set, 8/14
  • Women dancing in the aisles during Xalam's show at the French Institute in Dakar, 5/28
  • Rhett Miller playing "Ray Charles," 3/5
  • The Low Anthem's cell-phone-cricket-chirp crowd participation number, 3/6
  • Low stage (!!!) at the Orpheum for the New Pornographers, 8/4
  • The National performing "Terrible Love" in front of 27,000 people, including President Obama, on Library Mall, 9/28
  • The entire audience singing along with the preshow music of "Living on a Prayer" at the Ryman before the Avett Brothers came out dressed as mummies, 10/30
  • Viper and his Famous Orchestra's Miley Cyrus cover, 7/9
  • The first notes of the acoustic set of my first "evening with" Wilco show, 4/2

Bring it on, 2011.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2010 in review: Books

For the fifth time, here's a list of the books I read over the past year.  Stats follow:

1. Manhood for Amateurs - Michael Chabon
2. Under the Dome - Stephen King
3. Things the Grandchildren Should Know - Mark Oliver Everett
4. Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run - Alton Brown
5. Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable - Bruce M. Hood
6. Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession - Julie Powell
7. You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas - Augusten Burroughs
8. 100 Posters 134 Squirrels - Jay Ryan
9. I Drink For a Reason - David Cross
10. The Crowd Sounds Happy - Nicholas Dawidoff
11. Stealing Buddha's Dinner - Bich Minh Nguyen
12. In Search of Norman Rockwell's America - Kevin Rivoli, Norman Rockwell
13. How We Decide - Jonah Lehrer
14. Somebody Else's Daughter - Elizabeth Brundage
15. Not Becoming My Mother - Ruth Reichl
16. Dead Until Dawn - Charlaine Harris
17. Living Dead in Dallas - Charlaine Harris
18. Senegal in Pictures - Tom Streissguth
19. Club Dead - Charlaine Harris
20. Dead to the World - Charlaine Harris
21. Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy - Gary D. Schmidt
22. Dead as a Doornail - Charlaine Harris
23. Definitely Dead - Charlaine Harris
24. All Together Dead - Charlaine Harris
25. From Dead to Worse - Charlaine Harris
26. Dead and Gone - Charlaine Harris
27. Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert
28. A Touch of Dead - Charlaine Harris
29. SuperFreakonomics - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
30. Vanity Fair's Proust Questionnaire - Graydon Carter, Ed.
31. Everything is Wrong With Me - Jason Mulgrew
32. The Summer Before - Ann M. Martin
33. A Year in the World - Frances Mayes
34. Children Standing Before a Statue of Hercules - David Sedaris, Ed.
35. Dead in the Family - Charlaine Harris
36. The Poisoner's Handbook - Deborah Blum
37. Born Standing Up - Steve Martin
38. Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout
39. The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To - DC Pierson
40. Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
41. Every Patient Tells a Story - Lisa Sanders, M.D.
42. The Emperor's Children - Claire Messud
43. Beatrice and Virgil - Yann Martel
44. Zeitoun - Dave Eggers
45. The Senator's Wife - Sue Miller
46. Holy Fools - Joanne Harris
47. Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
48. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
49. The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larsson
50. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson
51. Timeriders - Alex Scarrow
52. Educating Esme - Esme Raji Codell
53. Both Sides of Time - Caroline B. Cooney
54. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
55. Dragonfly in Amber - Diana Gabaldon
56. Voyager - Diana Gabaldon
57. The Fiery Cross - Diana Gabaldon
58. A Breath of Snow and Ashes - Diana Gabaldon
59. An Echo in the Bone - Diana Gabaldon
60. The Impostor's Daughter - Laurie Sandell
61. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling
62. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
63. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
64. Emily of New Moon - L.M. Montgomery
65. Emily Climbs - L.M. Montgomery
66. Emily's Quest - L.M. Montgomery
67. Jane of Lantern Hill - L.M. Montgomery
68. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned - Wells Tower
69. The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver
70. War Dances - Sherman Alexie
71. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk - David Sedaris
72. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
73. Black Swan Green - David Mitchell
74. Birds of North America - Lorrie Moore
75. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
76. The Mind's Eye - Oliver Sacks
77. Ad Boy: Vintage Advertising With Character - Warren Dotz
78. Songs of Love & Death - George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois, Eds.
79. The Curious Incident of the Dog in Nighttime - Mark Haddon
80. The Road to Yesterday - L.M. Montgomery
81. Empire Falls - Richard Russo
82. The Cat in the Mirror - Mary Stolz

Total books read: 82
That's six more than I read in 2009.

By male authors: 34 (41%)
By female authors: 45 (55%)
By both: 3 (4%)

Previously read: 14 (17% - down from last year's 20%, but has nothing on 2008's impressive 4%)

Marketed for children/teens: 14 (17% - down from 2009's whopping 26%, but still a presence)

Fiction: 52 (63%)
Nonfiction: 30 (37%)

2010 still leaned more heavily toward fiction than nonfiction, but I noticed an interesting breakdown in the list itself.  Aside from Under the Dome, the first fifteen books were all nonfiction.  Then, for awhile, it was about half and half.  But from book forty-five (somewhere around August) on, it's almost 100% fiction.  I think that's because I spent a lot of time rereading series in the second half of the year.  Two of those - the last three Harry Potter books and all of the Diana Gabaldons - can be blamed on my September trip to the U.K.  I was also very busy in autumn, which meant turning to my own bookshelves and those of friends over the library for quick reads.  That increased the numbers for "previously read," and certainly padded my fiction totals.

You should definitely read: The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.  The Poisoner's Handbook is a fascinating account of the rise of forensic medicine around the 1920's.  There are jaw-dropping anecdotes about women who worked in watch factories painting their fingernails with lead paint, and the ways unregulated prohibition-era bootleg liquor killed so many more people than alcohol ever had before.  Cloud Atlas is a unique collection of six stories spanning ... well, space/time/worlds ... I'm not sure how to describe it.  At first each story seems to end without warning and abruptly plunge the reader in the next, leaving you wondering what just happened.  But eventually, you realize there is a method to the madness, and that it is awesome.

Don't bother reading: Cleaving by Julie Powell.  It's not a bad book, really, but my god, Julie Powell is whiny and self-indulgent.  She's honest, which I suppose is admirable (though really, do we have any real clue how honest she is?), but the enthusiastically detailed accounts of her infidelity made me want to punch something.  Possibly Julie Powell.  I felt like I was reading someone's LiveJournal.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 in review: Travel

Happy 2011!  Here's the first of three posts looking back at things I did in 2010.  Without further ado, travel:

States visited (not counting layovers): 10
Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, Massachusetts, Maine, Tennessee

New states: 2
Rhode Island and Maine. With that, the east coast is officially checked off!

States left before I reach 50: 5
Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming.  I could have hit North Dakota for work last year, but it would have meant missing Rhode Island the same weekend.  And since Rhode Island was not for work, Rhode Island won.

Countries visited: 4
England, Scotland, Spain, Senegal.  Two of the countries were new!  (I count Scotland separately, not as part of the UK.) And one of them meant...

New continents: 1
Africa.  I have South America and Antarctica left to conquer.  Somehow one of those seems easier than the other.

What's ahead for 2011?  Aside from a return to the Berkshires in June, it's a blank slate so far.  As always, my goal is at least one new state.  Hopefully a new country, too.