Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Blizzard of 2010

I'll tell you about it some time. Until then, there is this...



...and this...

Idiot With A Tripod from Gothamist on Vimeo.

Friday, December 17, 2010

"I'm Spending Christmas Alone"



We love Xmas songs as much as the next guy (especially that classic Phil Spector collection), and we think we've found our new favorite. It happens to be by our favorite young (har har) playwright/provocateur, Young Jean Lee, and our buddy/her beau Tim Simmonds. It also happens to have all the qualities that make for a great Xmas song: sleigh bells, sardonic wit, deadpan delivery, hand claps, a Sergio Leone reference, and a sax solo!

"I'm Spending Christmas Alone" by Future Wife (Young Jean Lee and Tim Simmonds)

From http://www.youngjeanlee.org:
I’m Spending Christmas Alone is the first of several new songs from Future Wife we will release in the coming months, leading up to the April 2011 premiere of ONE-WOMAN SHOW (written and performed by Young Jean Lee, with music by Future Wife, produced as P#11 by 13P in collaboration with YJLTC) at Joe's Pub.

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Young Jean Lee's "UNTITLED FEMINIST MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY SHOW" continues tonight through Sunday at the New Museum.


And...

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Plea, A Poet



A note from Tony Hoagland regarding his friend, the poet Dean Young (posted here with permission):

Dear Friends,

Dec 10

If you are reading this, you are probably a friend of Dean Young, a reader of poetry, or part of the great web of Warren Wilson community. And you may heard that our friend Dean is in a precarious position.

Over the past ten or fifteen years, Dean has lived with a degenerative heart condition ("congestive heart failure due to idiopathic hypotropic cardiomyopathy" is the diagnosis). After periods of remission, in which his heart was stabilized with the help of medications, the function of his heart has worsened. Currently, Dean's heart is pumping at an estimated 8% of normal volume.

For the last two years he has had periods in which he cannot walk a block without resting. His system - especially his lungs--gets flooded with fluid the heart cannot remove. Drugs which once worked have lost their efficacy. He is in and out of the hospital, unable to breathe without discomfort. There are no more medications on the horizon.

Things are rapidly worsening. Dean has been placed on the transplant list at Seton Medical Center, and is in the critical category. (At this writing he is in ICU. ) He's got to get a heart soon, or go to intermediate drastic measures like a mechanical external pump.

Whatever the scenario, the expenses, both direct and collateral, will be massive. A transplant itself will cost eight hundred thousand dollars. His insurance will pay most of direct costs, but the auxiliary out of pocket expenses-- after care, physical therapy, medications, complications- are expected to run over one 100 thousand to 250 thousand dollars during the coutrse of treatment.

Dean's friends have connected us with The National Foundation for Transplants (NFT) a non-profit transplanting fundraising organization. (The money collected will only go to pay medical expenses not covered by insurance; They meticulously monitor it; any money that might not get used by Dean's needs will go into their general fund for others.)

If you know Dean, or his work, you know you know that his poetry is what the Elizabethans would have called "one of the ornaments of our era"-- hilarious, heartbreaking, courageous, brilliant and already a part of the American canon. His amazing body of work-- ten-plus books,-- his long career of passionate teaching, his instruction and mentorship of hundreds of younger poets, his many friendships, his high, reckless and uncompromised vision of what art is: all these are reasons for us to gather together now in his defense and support.

The website address is http://www.transplants.org/donate/deanyoung On behalf of Dean, myself and the principle of our friendships in art, I hope you will donate what you can. Thanks, my friends.

Yours,

Tony Hoagland

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Things to Read, Drinks to Drink: Hot Booze Edition


Hot Booze Edition



This year's fiction Pulitzer was a surprise for many reasons, not the least of which is that it went to a little novel from a tiny press. And while I know plenty of people who were somewhat ambivalent about Paul Harding's Tinkers ("Well, it's great that the Pulitzer went to a small press title, but the prose is really purple" is a typical criticism), I really enjoyed the book. In many respects, it breaks a lot of writerly maxims by indulging in serious word play; by providing so much exposition; and by jumping somewhat precariously into flashbacks that have somewhat heady ramifications for the book's narrative present.

That said, it's a book that takes risks with its language and, in doing so, burned some pretty clear images into my head. The sense of cold, in particular, and the isolation of a rugged, rural winter are viscerally described and sustained throughout the novel, and I found myself leafing through the book months after reading it to re-read certain passages that had stuck. Love thick prose or hate it, this one's well worth a read.

And what better way to enjoy a freezing day and a book that's practically obsessed with the cold than to drink something hot and boozy? Unfortunately, it's all too easy to screw up a hot, boozy drink. The first and worst problem with hot, alcoholic drinks is that we typically make them too sweet. With standard, cold cocktails, we're used to flavor profiles that range from savory (dirty martini anybody?) to bitter (ummmm... bitters much?) to sour (again, obvious), but for some reason, we just love us some hot, sticky, sweet drinks during the winter.

Tis the season for sweets and treats, I suppose, but I'm just not interested in peppermint schnapps in hot chocolate. I'm sure there's a way to make that great, but when I'm feeling cold on the inside and need a quick warm up, I want nothing more than a kettle, a bottle of Jameson, a tablespoon of sugar, a lemon, and some cloves. This is an unbeatable hot toddy recipe that's easy to make even after you've had a couple.



In a sturdy 8 oz. mug or thermal glass, combine the following:

2.5 oz. Jameson Irish Whiskey

1 tbsp. sugar

1 oz. fresh lemon juice

4 oz. hot water

Spike half a lemon wheel with four or five cloves (Stick them into the pith and they'll stay put in the lemon wheel. In the picture, they're spiked through the peel itself, which would also work. I once just stuck them into the flesh thinking that this would allow more of the lemon juice from the wheel to seep into the drink, but when the flesh got warm, the cloves dropped to the bottom of my drink and made my last sip or two particularly bitter and, well, clove-y. It was weird.) and drop it in the glass.

You can add a cinnamon stick if you want, but you know what? That seems needless to me. One frilly garnish is probably enough.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hitchens vs. Blair: Is Religion a Force for Good in the World?

I'm not the biggest fan of Christopher Hitchens, but you can't deny his unfailing debate chops during this round of Blair pummeling arguments and rebuttals (at this year's Munk Debates) about the value or hazards of religion and faith. It's sometimes too easy to misread assuredness and a sophisticated understanding of an issue as arrogance or condescension, but (in my opinion) Hitchens maintains an entirely rational, reasoned, and respectful tact while dismantling each of Blair's vapid contentions and concessions...