Saturday, January 16, 2010

Simon sez.


It's been amazing to hear what things mark me as being "old" in the eyes of my students.

I have not yet gone to see Avatar nor am I anxiously awaiting my opportunity to see Avatar.

I do not game. I do not know the names, plots or extraordinarily complex mythologies developed for the sake of games (1).

I do not know music to save my life.

This isn't a new thing though. I've never been a music guy as much as I have always wanted to be. I marvel at music writers and long for that never-to-come day when I can kick back and toss out references to the Sex Pistols and opine on the greatest rock albums of all time.

Music writers are cool. Music guys and gals are cool.

And now it seems, so is NPR's Scott Simon who interviewed Ke$ha on Weekend Edition Saturday.

The interview was great. Great enough for me to hop onto iTunes and download some music from her new album Animal.

See, as ready as I am to run into a store and drop $20 or more on a hardcover book I've never read, I freak out when it comes to buying music.

But Simon's interview - which he said was going to earn him some flack from Saturday morning NPR audiences (2) - not only included great music but revealed that the singer with the slightly annoying $ in her name, as a kid, used to sneak in to Cold War history classes at the university near her house because she found it fascinating.

Rock me Mikhail Gorbachev.

1. Though I have learned enough to know when a student is basically ripping off a game developer's characters instead of developing ideas of their own. I also firmly believe that mythology courses in colleges and universities will soon have to include this electronic pantheon...but that is for another post.
2. Yeah. He probably will.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

He's just not that into shoes.


It seems the heel is back with a vengeance.

High heels. Towering, spiky, heels-so-high they're more an architectural statement than a shoe.

Lately, particularly on the subway, I've started to notice the return of that staple statement of the '80s: super tight jeans paired with ridiculously high heels.

As a static, visual image I like the high heel (1). There are some that actually look more suited for a gallery pedestal than a rush hour sidewalk.

But it's the walking that gets on my nerves.

While it has been some time since a fashion trend sent me running to the mall (2) I understand the lure. The magazine picture of a carefully styled model, invariably standing knock-kneed and hunched over with just the right mix of sweat and sparkle that she is more artistic portrait than person, that launches that little voice in the back of your head. "I need those shoes. I will look great in those shoes."

And you might...if those brilliant looking shoes don't cause you to walk like a Clydesdale. If those shoes don't change your posture in such a way that your continued verticality is called into question. If those shoes don't slow you to such a pace, not because you are teasing out admiring glances from all around you but because you are physically incapable of forward motion, that you are literally stopping traffic.

Yes ma'am. I'm talking to you.

1. Though I have to say that when I was filling my portfolio case with design work, believing that a career in the fashion industry was the only way to go, I was a fan of oversized sneakers with white rubber toes and barely there mules. I once designed a group of dresses based on the gowns worn by Ginger on Gilligan's Island that were all paired with marabou tipped bedroom-style slippers.
2. I blame you mortgage.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Not funny.


I'm sitting here at my desk with a review deadline hanging over me, project papers to grade and a stack of work for my second job at Big Important Group (1) and just about fifteen minutes ago I felt it.

The tickle at the back of my throat.

This is how colds often start for me...a little tickle in the back of my throat that I try my darnedest to drown away. Juice. Tea. Water. I don't have time to feel sick. I don't have any interest in feeling sick. I don't intend to let this little tickle get me down.

A trifle dramatic, you say? A bit much? The classic shout out from a (curiously unmotivated) Type A personality whose body might be suggesting that it doesn't care if he has "time to be sick?"

Yes. Yes. And yes.

All very true. All very logical.

None of it enough to keep me from trying to take this little tickle to the mat.

It's on little tickle. It is on.

1. Known from here on in as BIG.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Coming home to roost.


So, the neighborhood listserv to which I belong has dissolved into a chicken fight.

Literally.

It seems there is a petition being circulated to allow for the keeping of urban chickens. Or, more precisely, the keeping of chickens on pieces of residential property measuring less than an acre. As things now stand, apparently, if you have an acre or more you're already free to set up shop.

When all is said and done I don't think I'm really worried about a sudden rush of chicken ownership in my little corner of our fair city.

No, what's been more interesting to me has been the direction that the discussion has taken. While a variety of reasons against the keeping of chickens has been offered with a few lone voices calling out pro-poultry propaganda, one thread has focused on what it is that makes a city a city.

As in, if you want to own chickens don't live in the city.

Or, on the flip side, one of the reasons to live in a city is to be able to have the freedom to do what you want as long as it isn't harming your neighbors or fellow citizens.

The folks who seem to be quickest to point out that chickens belong on the farm and not on Fifth Street?

People like myself who grew up in rural environments and didn't really think twice about leaving livestock behind.

Which led me to think about farmers' markets and community agriculture projects and the locavore movement. Is there a difference between those of us who grew up with very concrete ideas about where our food came from and those folks who, as the food books like to remind us, think of chicken as coming from the freezer and apples from the produce section.

Not in an idiotic way mind you. I'm not saying that they believe these things grow there.

That's kind of nuts.

But is part of the reason that I'm happy with my weekly vegetable delivery and picking up the occasional roasting hen from the market because I know that raising chickens is a major commitment? Because I think of the folks we knew growing up for whom a vacation wasn't much of an option because cows need to be milked and one bad night can empty a hen house? Is it because, similar to plumbing and the repair of electrical wiring I'm happy to leave it to the professionals?

Regardless of how this all shakes out Leopold and I will not be filling the backyard with chickens.

Unless we can teach them to play the piano.