Richard Thompson at The Egg
Published on September 30, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the Richard Thompson/Teddy Thompson show at The Egg ... and list some bands/musicians I wish would visit the Capital Region.

Click here to read it.

Animals in the City
Published on September 30, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about how I like seeing animals in the city.

Here's an excerpt:

"When I leave work, I’m usually in a hurry to get in my car and drive home.

But the other night, I paused as I made my way across the parking lot.

There, feeding in the grass that edges the woods behind the office, were two deer. They glanced at me, their faces curious and watchful, their eyes bright and alert and unafraid. Not everyone lives and works in such close proximity to wildlife, and I marveled at my good fortune.

During the summer, I lost my temper one night while walking at Empire State Plaza.

The reason: a group of preteens throwing garbage at the ducks. The ducks are one of the season’s highlights. The adults take up residence in the spring; soon after, they give birth to fluffy yellow ducklings that learn to swim in the reflecting pools. Wooden ramps, strategically placed on the sides of the pools, make it easier for the ducklings to climb in and out of the water.

In my mind, the ducks are something to be celebrated.

I like living in the city, but urban life comes with certain sacrifices. I live near some pretty nice parks, but nature itself often feels like it’s at a distance. I see squirrels and mice from time to time, and on one of my evening strolls an opossum darting out of an alley caused me to jump in fright. Years ago, I was treated to the unexpected sight of a trio of beavers swimming in the ponds and ambling along the banks of the Corning Preserve. But such wildlife sightings are few and far between. When I walk, I expect to see pavement, parking lots and multibuildings. Not animals."

Click here to read the whole thing.

NFL Picks, Week 4
Published on September 26, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I make my week 4 NFL picks.

Click here to read them.

Recent Reads
Published on September 24, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about two books I recently read, both written by newspaper columnists: "No Ordinary Lives" by David Johnson and "1 Dead in Attic" by Chris Rose.

Click here to learn more.

Watching "The Spectacular Now"
Published on September 24, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new coming-of-age film "The Spectacular Now."

Here's an excerpt:

"I love coming-of-age films, and the new movie 'The Spectacular Now' is a very good one — unusually sensitive and perceptive, with lead characters who are endearing and flawed and worth rooting for. Critics have compared “The Spectacular Now” to the great coming-of-age teenage romance 'Say Anything,' and though it’s not quite as good as the earlier film, it’s certainly in the same league.

Much of the film’s success hinges upon Sutter Keely and Aimee Finicky, who fall in love during their senior year. Sutter (Miles Teller) is funny, bright and likable, but lacking in ambition: He’s a heavy drinker who cares little about schoolwork or responsibility — about anything other than having fun, right now. Aimee (Shailene Woodley) is smart and geeky and shy, but not exactly lacking in confidence — it’s just that her interests and goals lie outside of the high school mainstream. One of the nice things about this film is that becoming cool isn’t Aimee’s primary goal in life, as it would be in a lesser teen film: She’s content to do her own thing, and is drawn to Sutter because she senses that he’s a good person, not because he’s popular and goes to cool parties. Sutter and Aimee are a mismatch, but the film doesn’t dwell on this, and the plot is about much more than whether they get together, or go to prom. They do get together, and they do go to prom, but 'The Spectacular Now' is more interested in how their relationship changes them, and what it might mean for their future."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Meeting My Pig
Published on September 23, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about buying a pig ... and meeting it.

Here's an excerpt:

"About a year-and-a-half ago, one of my high school classmates moved to Schoharie County from Philadelphia with the goal of becoming a farmer.

He began leasing a farm that was no longer in use and raising goats, chickens, rabbits, sheep and pigs.

And when he began taking orders for pork earlier this year, I decided I had to buy some. Not because I love pork, although I do. But because I had some extra cash, wanted to support him and thought it would be cool to eat locally raised, organic pork from a farmer I went to high school with.

I didn’t think I was capable of consuming half a pig by myself (or fitting all of the meat into my freezer), so I asked my landlord and her boyfriend if they wanted to go in on the pig with me. They said yes, and during the winter we made a $150 down payment.

'You can visit the farm this fall and see the pig,' my high school classmate said when I handed him the check.

I mentioned this possibility to my landlord, who shuddered.

'I don’t want to see the pig,' she said.

I understood my landlord’s perspective.

But I did want to see the pig."

Click here to read the whole thing.

NFL Picks, Week 3
Published on September 19, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I make my week 3 NFL picks.

Click here to read them.

Watching "The World's End" and "The Grandmaster"
Published on September 18, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new movies "The World's End" and "The Grandmaster."

Click here to learn more.

Oneohtrix Point Never, Live
Published on September 16, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about the Oneohtrix Never Point show at EMPAC, which was pretty good.

Click here to read about it.

Nine Inch Nails Hesitates
Published on September 15, 2013 by guest author: J.K. Eisen

After Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails won the Best Metal Performance Grammy for 1992’s brutal and profanity-laced “Wish,” he jokingly said that his tombstone should read: “Said ‘fist fuck,’ won a Grammy.”

If the reviews for NIN’s latest album, “Hesitation Marks,” are any indication, he might want to add one more sentence: “Didn’t scream for almost an entire album, received critical acclaim.”

A lot has been made about the more mature, restrained sound that Reznor offers on “Hesitation Marks,” NIN’s first album in five years. When you’re a successful 48-year-old musician, a father and an Oscar-winning composer, it’s not convincing when your latest album rages about your misery.

But despite the accolades for “Hesitation Marks,” many of the songs tread familiar territory with less-than-compelling delivery. Some may say that Reznor is showing restraint, but the album’s title sums up much of the performance, which seems hesitant. It sounds as if Reznor’s attempt to avoid any sign of immature angst on the album excised some of the passion as well.


Officiating: It Gets Easier
Published on September 15, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about officiating my third wedding.

Here's an excerpt:

"When Washington state legalized same-sex marriage, my best friend from high school, Beka, and her partner of 15 years, Laurie, immediately got engaged.

'I can marry people,' I told Beka, because I suspected this information might suddenly be of interest. 'I’ve been ordained online.'

A couple of months later, Beka asked me to officiate at her wedding, and I said yes.

I love weddings, and I especially love to be involved in them. I’ve been a flower girl, a reader, a maid of honor and officiant. I’m by no means an expert on weddings, but over the years I’ve learned a fair amount about how they’re supposed to work and what makes a wedding satisfying. And I’m finding that officiating gets easier the more you do it.

The first wedding I officiated, for my friends Heather and Davi, was a huge challenge that involved trying (and mostly failing) to get headstrong people to do what I said.

During the rehearsal, I worried that the ceremony would be a total failure — that nobody would be able to hear me over the nearby traffic, that the groomsmen would do something crazy, that my notes would blow away. But the service went extremely well, mainly because everybody kept their mouths shut, listened to me and waited for my cues. This is when I learned that even the most difficult people tend to be respectful and polite (and silent!) during weddings.

I also officiated my sister’s wedding, and it also went quite well. I had learned from my previous officiating experience. I’d gotten better at bossing people around, and I understood that wedding parties, much like children, need guidance and structure."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Recent Viewing: Films
Published on September 12, 2013 by Sara Foss

Elysium (2013) ***

Conviction (2010) ***

Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) ***1/2

Blue Jasmine (2013) **

Bandit Queen (1994) ***

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2002) ***1/2

Computer Chess (2013) ***1/2

The Expendables (2010) ***

No One Knows About Persian Cats (2009) ***

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984) ***1/2

The World's End (2013) ***1/2

Help My Friend Jennifer Become Chief World Explorer
Published on September 12, 2013 by Sara Foss

You may remember my high school friend Jennifer Johnston sharing a three-party travel essay about her adventures in Nepal and Bhutan last summer. (Click here for part one, here for part two and here for part three.)

Jennifer recently made that photo essay into a one minute video hoping to earn the "Best Job Around the World" for a travel website. See the video and vote for her to be the next Chief World Explorer to do voluntourism around the globe. You can vote once every 24 hours until Sept. 15th.

Click here for the link.

Here's to following our dreams in 2014! Good luck Jennifer.

NFL Picks, Week 2
Published on September 12, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I make my NFL picks.

Click here to read them.

Pleading My Case
Published on September 12, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about my recent court appearance.

Here's an excerpt:

"I know people who contest every traffic ticket they receive.

I’m not one of those people.

I’ve always had a difficult time explaining why I should get out of a ticket I know I deserve.

This reluctance to plead my case stems from something I first became aware of in childhood, when I observed classmates shamelessly lobbying for better grades on tests. Now, I can totally understand asking for your grade to be changed if you uncover a mistake — if the teacher erred when correcting your exam.

But that’s not what was going on here. These students weren’t pointing out mistakes. They were arguing that because they really wanted a higher grade, they should get one.

My few attempts to engage in this sort of behavior were abject failures.
During tests, I observed that my classmates were sometimes able to summon the teacher, ask for clarification about a question, and receive helpful hints. I decided I should try this, too, and requested some extra guidance during a chemistry exam. My teacher simply stared at me. 'I can’t just tell you the answer,' she said.

Perhaps this experience explains my lack of confidence at pleading my case."


Click here to read the whole thing.

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