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The Jonah Lehrer Story is Not Sad
Published on July 31, 2012 by Sara Foss

After the Jonah Lehrer quote fabricating scandal came to light, my friend Hanna emailed me. "Question, journalist-to-journalist: Why is everyone on my Twitter feed calling the Jonah Lehrer story 'sad'?" she asked. "Sad for Bob Dylan? Is it sad when a reporter makes up quotes, or just embarrassing?"

I speculated that people were sad about the incredible waste of talent, the shocking downfall of a gifted young writer. But I agree with Hanna's overall point. When I think of Jonah Lehrer's quote fabrication (and his self-plagiarism), the word sad isn't what comes to mind. The word pathetic is. Honestly, what other word is there for someone who makes up Bob Dylan quotes? The guy is still alive! With a legion of obsessive fans!

I've been suspicious of Lehrer since his self-plagiarism scandal, in which he was found to be re-posting essays and blog posts that he'd written elsewhere, and passing them off as new work in his blog at The New Yorker. This isn't as terrible a journalistic sin as plain old plagiarism, but come on! A blog is a place where you comment on what's going on, flesh out new ideas, engage with readers, voice the occasional opinion and tell interesting stories. For whatever reason, Lehrer didn't feel like doing that.

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Keeping Up With the Garden
Published on July 31, 2012 by Sara Foss

In her column Greenpoint over at the DG, my colleague Margaret Hartley writes about the difficulty of keeping up with the garden - something I've been having difficulty with, as well.

Here's an excerpt:

"The garden is coming in fast and furious now, furious being the operating word. If we don’t pick every day, or several times a day, we’re in big trouble. And someone gets mad.

'HEY! How come no one picked the beans?' someone will say. 'Why has all the lettuce bolted?' someone else will offer. Or 'HEY! Why are these cucumbers so gigantic?'

My new morning routine includes picking time, which comes after dog-walking time and before critter-feeding time. A basket of cucumbers and summer squashes, a big bag of basil tops for pesto — Quick! Before the basil bolts! — and several cabbages."

Click here to read the whole thing.


Remembrances of Guns
Published on July 30, 2012 by Sara Foss

Like many people, I've been thinking about guns in the wake of the mass shooting in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater.

It's no fun to have a gun pulled on you, as I can attest, having once been mugged at gunpoint. I was lucky - the gun wasn't fired, and the man who mugged me eventually ran off. Even so, close encounters with death - and the instruments of death - are difficult to put out of your mind.

Over at Gawker, my Oberlin classmate Kiese Laymon has written an essy about his encounters with guns. Like me, he hasn't forgotten these experiences.

Click here to read Kiese's piece.


Wilco at Ommegang
Published on July 30, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about Wilco's concert at the Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown.

Here's an excerpt:

"I’ve never been to Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown before, but I’m happy that they’re hosting concerts, because it gave me a good excuse to visit. I headed out there on Saturday for the Wilco concert, and by the time we located the overflow parking lot, took the shuttle to the concert grounds and made our way into the venue, I was ready for a beer. Good thing I was at a brewery!

There are advantages and disadvantages to holding a concert in an out-of-the-way place. Getting there can be a bit of a chore, and once you’re there, you’re there — you can’t just run out and grab some food downtown, because that would require getting a shuttle, retrieving your car and driving 15 minutes. But the seclusion of such places can create a magical and unique experience, especially if the area is pretty. Brewery Ommegang is a little bit like Saratoga Performing Arts Center, but much smaller, with a sloping hillside and a nice view of the countryside and nearby farms. (The stage overlooked a silo.) Once I got in there, found a place to stand, grabbed some food and a beer, I was able to relax and just enjoy my surroundings. One of the nice features of going to a brewery concert is that all of the beer is basically brewed on site, so even though you’re paying $6 for a beer, it’s not like you’re drinking Budweiser or Rolling Rock."

Click here to read the whole thing.


Yes, I am still going to see "The Dark Knight Rises"
Published on July 29, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the shootings in Aurora, and how I remain committed to seeing the new Batman movie.

Here's an excerpt:

"I have not seen 'The Dark Knight Rises' yet, but I will because I am a moviegoer and I go to movies like that.

Like everyone, I was pretty horrified by the murders at a screening of the film in Aurora, Colo., and I quickly emailed my friends Dave and Melissa, who now live in Denver but used to live in Aurora, to check in and make sure everything was OK. I then emailed another friend, a neuroscientist at the University at Colorado, to ask whether she knew the alleged shooter, who was studying neuroscience at the school. My friend replied that he worked down the hall and that although she didn’t know him “everybody else did.”

By my estimation, this put me about two degrees away from an alleged mass murderer, which is way too close to comfort. But I have little to complain about — my friends are fine, and my family is fine and I’m fine. The same cannot be said for the victims and their friends and families, and my heart goes out to them, just as it always does when something like this happens.

But I am still going to see 'The Dark Knight Rises.'"

Click here to read the whole thing.


Top Reads of the Week
Published on July 27, 2012 by Sara Foss

Parenting: R.B. Austen on the things she has learned since becoming a parent, and Sara Foss on gardening and babies

Sports: Steven Reeves on Lance Armstrong

Movies: Sara Foss on "Magic Mike"


The Red Sox: Terrible, but Fascinating
Published on July 26, 2012 by Sara Foss

I was optimistic about the Red Sox this season.

But things haven't turned out as I'd hoped.

I divulge more over at the DG.

Click here to read my thoughts.


From Waste to Warmth
Published on July 25, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, my colleague Margaret Hartley writes in her weekly column Greenpoint about how the paper she recycles at her local church is transformed into a cellulose-based insulation.

Here's an excerpt:

"There are two new bins behind a church in our town, big green bins with black plastic tops. They sort of cement the church as one of our main recycling centers.

We already take old clothes, shoes and books to the church’s thrift store or the clothing collection bin, and bring bottles to the bottle collection bin behind the thrift shore. Now we can bring loose paper and box board too.

The new bins are from Green Fiber, a North Carolina company that recycles paper — newspaper, cardboard, junk mail, office paper — and makes it into insulation. Our town already collects newspaper and corrugated cardboard, but the new bin takes a lot more, including the endless stack of school worksheets that we save for fire starter. Although we’re kidding ourselves if we think we could ever start enough fires to significantly reduce the worksheet stack. Now we can just dump it in the bin, and know it will be used."

Click here to read the whole thing.


Things I Have Learned Since Becoming A Parent
Published on July 25, 2012 by guest author: R.B. Austen

Kenzie joined our family just over two months ago. As new parents, we made sure we were ready for her: The nursery was set up, the diaper bag packed and the car seat installed. It was, nonetheless, a little surprising when they let us leave the hospital with her. Of course there have been numerous funny moments since then: helping her try to find her thumb to suck on, watching her grandparents and aunt take an endless number of pictures of her over the course of 10 minutes to capture her smiling face, waking up and realizing that she slept through the night.

Besides the importance of remembering my sense of humor and to laugh at myself, here are a few things I have learned since becoming a parent:

People love to touch babies! Maybe I’m not bubbly enough, but thankfully I never ran into a problem with people wanting to touch my pregnant belly. A newborn with strangers is a little different.

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Watching "Magic Mike"
Published on July 25, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new Channing Tatum/Steve Soderbergh male stripper movie, "Magic Mike."

Here's an excerpt:

"There’s plenty of flesh on display in 'Magic Mike,' the new movie about male strippers in Tampa, Fla., and a fair amount of dancing, sex and drugs, too. But the film is more substantive than the subject matter would suggest, which won’t come as a surprise to people who have followed the career of Steven Soderbergh, one of the more cerebral and experimental filmmakers working today, but might disappoint filmgoers simply looking for a good time.

For one thing, 'Magic Mike' isn’t so much a fantasy as a deconstruction of a particular type of fantasy. Mike, played by a very charming Channing Tatum, is hard-working and sharp: He does construction during the day, strips at night, and is also trying to start his own custom furniture business. We see how women respond to him at the club, but we also see his life behind the scenes, which isn’t particularly terrible, but requires constant hustling, in an often-futile effort to get ahead. (There’s a sad-yet-homorous scene where he puts on a suit and glasses and visits a loan officer at a local bank; unsurprisingly, he application is denied.)"

Click here to read the whole thing.


Reconsidering Lance Armstrong
Published on July 23, 2012 by guest author: Steven Reeves

For American cycling fans such as myself, the moment is indelibly etched in memory. Lance Armstrong, the upstart, launching a vicious attack on the steep climb up to the ski resort of Sestriere, shedding his rivals with each forceful, almost angry, pedal stroke, his jaw clenched as he ignored the pain building in his legs. Armstrong had been riding strong the entire 1999 Tour de France, but many wondered how he would fare in his first real test against men who excelled in the high alpine mountain passes.

Armstrong had found success early in his cycling career, though mostly in one-day races where his seemingly boundless energy and fierce determination allowed him to beat more seasoned competitors. Despite his obvious talent on the bike, his earlier attempts at the three-week-long Tour had ended with but a few hints at the legend Armstrong would one day become.

But his explosive, dominating climb up the mountain that day in 1999 not only stunned his rivals – some of the best professionals in the sport – it sent a clear message that the then 27-year-old Armstrong was not only a force to be reckoned with in cycling, he had also beaten the cancer that nearly killed him several years earlier and derailed his career. The Sestriere climb showed he had returned to the bike better – much, much better - than before.

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Arts in Hudson
Published on July 23, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about some of the fun things I've done in Hudson, N.Y., in recent weeks.

Here's an excerpt:

'I’ve made several trips to the Columbia County city of Hudson in recent weeks and here’s what I can report: Hudson is a cool little city, with an interesting arts community, nifty new venues and some impressive industrial architecture. I haven’t been there during the day, but there appears to be a thriving gallery and antique scene, if you’re into that sort of thing. The drive from my apartment in Albany to downtown Hudson is about 50 minutes and I wouldn’t make it for just anything, but the city keeps hosting events that seem worthwhile. If this keeps up, I’ll be going there all the time.

On Friday, I traveled to Helsinki Hudson, a restaurant/club that is the new home of Club Helsinki, the Great Barrington club that closed its doors in 2009. The two venues have similar vibes, although Helsinki Hudson is larger and perhaps a little more elegant — less roadhouse than nightclub. Like its predecessor, Helsinki Hudson offers a small, intimate atmosphere, great sound and an eclectic schedule. I caught the Americana/folk duo Brown Bird there, and they were pretty impressive, playing an array of instruments (cello, violin, guitar, bass drum, etc.) and producing a surprisingly full and complex sound. David Lamb’s deep, rich baritone reminded me a bit of the Capital Region’s own Sean Rowe, and blended well with MorganEve Swain’s clear, melodious voice."

Click here to read more.


"The Master" is Coming
Published on July 22, 2012 by Sara Foss

Here's a trailer for one of the movies I'm most excited about seeing this year: Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master."


Watching Babies and Gardens Grow
Published on July 22, 2012 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about my three-month-old niece, Kenzie, and also my unruly garden.

Here's an excerpt:

"I spent some time with my 2-month-old niece Kenzie over my vacation, and here’s what I can tell you: She has really bonded with the chandelier in my parent’s living room.

Every time she saw that thing, she gazed at it and smiled and made funny baby noises. With the exception of my mother, she seemed far less interested in her human relatives, refusing to look my father in the face and becoming increasingly distraught whenever I held her. I’m trying really hard to make this kid like me, but she seems bound and determined to resist my charms.

And I’m already getting blamed for the baby’s bad behavior. At one point, Kenzie was acting particularly cranky and stubborn and my sister said, 'She gets this from her aunt.' Which didn’t seem quite fair to me. From what I can tell, the baby is way more interested in lamps and windows than anything I ever do. And she clearly has a mind of her own."

Click here to read the whole thing.


Top Reads of the Week
Published on July 20, 2012 by Sara Foss

Pet Peeves: Dan Schneider on drive-throughs

Parenting: Cindy F. Crawford on her potty training success

Movies: Sara Foss on "Moonrise Kingdom," and "Shut Up and Play the Hits"

Society: Sara Foss on whether a vacation can be too busy


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