Out of the Forest

January 25, 2007, 9:19 pm
Filed under: music

Pop singer/songwriter Nellie McKay resurfaced on Monday for a performance with the Brooklyn Philharmonic on David Letterman. It was a fun performance, which has of course been YouTubed for your viewing pleasure.


January 25, 2007, 9:18 pm
Filed under: vegetarianism

A follow-up to yesterday’s veg post, a new study from Australia has shown that vegetarians have higher IQs on average than their meat-eating fellow citizens. From the article:

Nutritionist Rosemary Stanton says a vegetarian diet can’t enhance intelligence in itself, especially if people forgo the brain-building qualities of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.But like Kennett, she says people with high IQs are likely to be thinkers.

“And thinkers are probably going to realise the ethical and health related benefits of not eating meat,” she says.

I don’t think you will convert meat-eaters to vegetarians by essentially calling them stupid, which in a way this article does, more than once. It’s all rather condescending and presumptuous if you ask me.

January 24, 2007, 11:50 pm
Filed under: haiku

stonecrop bloom

his parched mouth

clings to mine    summer still

                        on the shaded terrace

                        a bid of two hearts    cloves

                                                       in his cigarette

                                                       island sunrise    teatime kiss

                                                                               a hint of hibiscus

                                                                               in the jam

January 24, 2007, 11:48 pm
Filed under: vegetarianism

I’ve been working hard to adhere to a vegetarian diet for several weeks now.   Over lunch today, while chomping on yet another VegiMax sandwich from Blimpie’s, I surfed the net for more information on the benefits of “going veg”.  I found a wonderful article by Kathy Freston over at The Huffington Post from a few days ago.  Go read it.   It’s chock-full of incredible information.  The gist:

Last month, the United Nations published a report on livestock and the environment with a stunning conclusion: “The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” It turns out that raising animals for food is a primary cause of land degradation, air pollution, water shortage, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, and not least of all, global warming.

The researchers found that, when it’s all added up, the average American does more to reduce global warming emissions by going vegetarian than by switching to a Prius.

And, I might add, going veg is less expensive than a Prius, and the health benefits to your own body are well established.  These facts can’t be ignored, even if the cruelty to factory farm animals doesn’t weigh on your conscience.  The article was all the motivation I needed to get through that veggie sandwich, and dream about tonight’s blackbean burger.

January 23, 2007, 8:44 pm
Filed under: board games

I think there is beauty in mystery, and excitement in the hunt for solutions. Mystery can be a key element to any artform, and when it is, I’m hooked. Even so with board games!

Perhaps the best mystery board game is Mystery of the Abbey, from Days of Wonder. A bit like Clue, but much more complex and open-ended in terms of investigation, Mystery of the Abbey is a great game for boardgame geeks and mystery fans alike.

Like all games released by Days of Wonder, Mystery of the Abbey features gorgeous game pieces and a beautifully illustrated board. In terms of quality of pieces, there really is no better game-maker, to my knowledge, than Days of Wonder. When the board is out on the table, with its detailed illustrations of each room in the abbey, it is just nice to look at.

If you’ve read Umberto Eco’s murder-in-a-monestary novel The Name of the Rose, or seen the film, then you’ll have some idea of this game’s theme. It is set in a medieval monestary, and each player is a monk who resides there. Brother Adelmo, a fellow monk, has been murdered, and its up to you to identify the killer from a list of 24 suspected monks. You gain information about the suspects primarily through the careful and thoughtful questioning of the other players. You can ask anything, so long as the answer does not require them to specify a monk by name.

There are other ways to gain information, like stealing information from other players, or visiting the library to consult its powerful books. Once you think you have identified the killer, you can make an accusation, and pray you will not be proved wrong.

There are some elements of the game that are rather strange. As is the case with real monks, for example, you must attend mass in the chapel throughout the day (at the end of each round), which means you never have long to explore the board during a particular round as you are constantly being shuffled back to the chapel. Also, because you are able to make point-earning revelations throughout the game regarding certain characteristics of the killer, it is actually possible to score the most points and win the game without being the player to make the successful accusation!

But these oddities only add to the charm of the game. This is certainly a game worth owning and playing, especially on those stormy nights at home.

For a fascinating history of the game, checkout the website of Bruno Faidutti, the game’s distinguished author.

January 19, 2007, 6:37 pm
Filed under: music

I dwell in nostalgia a lot. I don’t really believe it stems from any dislike for the present. I’m happier now than ever. But somehow the past always has this allure for me that I long to recapture. The best way to do that, I find, is through music. Nothing can encapsulate a period of my life more, I find, than a favorite song from that time.

Recently I was thinking back to the early 90’s. I was in high school. Essentially friendless, mostly by choice. My parents had divorced and my mom was out most weekend nights with her boyfriend. I spent many nights alone in our house. I would read. Listen to music. Dream about things. One late night I turned on MTV and caught my first episode of 120 Minutes, the old alternative rock show. I thought how frightening the music was, how subversive, how rife with possibility. I was young and naive. But that music really sparked a love for different music.

This week I decided to burn a CD of music I heard on that show. It has worked to take me back to that time. Wouldn’t really want to go back, but the memory is nice. I looked up the artists featured on my CD in Wikipedia. Some are no longer making music, but a majority are still soldiering on…

Here’s the tracklist. They’re all incredibly tame, now that I listen to them. A few of them became mainstream hits, but I remember when…

  1. “Glamorous Glue” by Morrissey
  2. “Blood Makes Noise” by Suzanne Vega
  3. “Ugly Truth Rock” by Matthew Sweet
  4. “Opalousas (Sweet Relief)” by Maria McKee
  5. “Drive” by R.E.M.
  6. “Success Has Made A Failure of Our Home” by Sinead O’Connor
  7. “Bluebeard” by Cocteau Twins
  8. “Carnival Is Over” by Dead Can Dance
  9. “Saints” by The Breeders
  10. “Weirdo” by The Charlatans
  11. “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star
  12. “The Right Decision” by Jesus Jones
  13. “Human Behavior” by Bjork
  14. “Laid” by James
  15. “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes
  16. “Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum

January 16, 2007, 9:58 pm
Filed under: beliefs, nature

slender loris

The slender loris. Just one of the many unusual and often-overlooked animals on the Edge project’s conservation list. The creature is, rather unsurprisingly, hunted for its eyes, which are popular in folk medicines.

The Edge of Existence project will protect these rare creatures, along with other strange animals. From the article:

“If we lose them there’s nothing similar to them left on the planet,” said Dr Baillie. “If you were to think of an Edge species in art terms, it would be like losing the Mona Lisa, something that’s irreplaceable and completely distinct.”

I like the comparison to works of art. It is my contention that all creatures on earth contribute, in their own way, to the beauty of the world, and deserve to be as protected as the most valuable of human creations.

You can read more about the Edge project, and make a donation, on their website.