How to…

19 12 2007

I added a new section to the site: “How to…” In the spirit of teaching yourself things, my goal is to show people how to do said things. My first “How to…” is going to be on getting into PA school. It’s a learning process, right?

Stop to Smell the Pine Boughs

19 12 2007

A great piece by Garrison Keillor, from the International Herald Tribune :

Stop to Smell the Pine Boughs 
by Garrison Keillor

It was Christmas in the New York City subways last week, musicians heading off to play Christmas gigs, and in the Times Square station a wild-haired old man out of a George Price cartoon pounded out “Winter Wonderland” on an electric organ, a rhythm attachment going whompeta-whompeta-whompeta, and two crazed battery-powered Santas dancing the boogaloo, nearby a young trumpeter giving “Oh Holy Night” a good working over, and then the doors closed and we racketed uptown as an old codger came into the car and launched into “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” as he limped up the aisle, jingling his Styrofoam cup.

I am pretty much hardened to Christmas music, except at the end of the Christmas Eve service when the lights dim and the glories stream from heaven afar and the heavenly hosts sing Alleluia and then, from long habit, tears well up in my eyes and I weep for the dead who enjoyed Christmas so much and for humanity in general, and then we go sashaying out into the cold starry night and walk home.

A big orange and some fresh pine boughs and “Silent Night” are all I need, and cookies, of course.

They are the strings that when I pull on them I pull up the complete glittering storybook Christmases of my childhood.

Even when I’m in in Manhattan, the combination of orange and evergreen and the holy hymn brings back a snowy night in Minnesota and the colored lights, the mound of gifts, the deluxe mixed nuts in the cut-glass bowl, the candles, the faint air of Lysol from the toilets, and the cologne of my uncles as they sit munching their peanut brittle.

I stood in line at a pine-bough-decked-out Starbucks behind a tall, beautiful, dark-haired woman who ordered a venti mocha latte, 180 degrees, seven pumps, 2 percent, no foam, and though the headphones around her neck were playing the Beatles who were back in the U.S.S.R. spreading their broken wings and learning to fly, and finding Gideon’s Bible to help with good Rocky’s revival, the smell of chocolate and pine brought back the lights, the snow, the whole blessed day.

The advantage of growing older: a few details stand for the whole, just as in poetry.

The aim of a festive season is to attain amiability, and perhaps actual joy, which we may find in our private moments but which at Christmas we seek to attain together, thus it is a true test of the power of the community to elevate its members, without which we may as well take to the woods.

The family gathers, with its checkered history of jealousies and resentments, hoping to share warmth, to instill the most sullen member with a measure of cheer, and if it cannot do this, then it will break apart.

We left our families to escape our disapproving elders and find friendlier authority figures who give us permission to be original and write our own stories.

All we parents, no matter how wonderful we may seem, have said and done bad things to our children, and so we are relieved when they escape us without apparent permanent damage. And we hope for forgiveness, and for them to want to be with us at Christmas.

But how can we make them happy this time, when we have failed so often in the past?

The beauty of Christmas is that it is not about us, our creativity, our fabulous décor, the glittering gifts we can afford, but about a story and ritual that lift us all.

The other night I saw a young man standing on the corner holding a gas can and asked him if he needed a ride.

He said he’d been to a party at his sister’s house and a guy started beating up his sister and the young man jumped the guy and the cops came and broke it up and the young man had forgotten to ask his sister for money to buy gas for his car which was now out of gas and here he was on a cold night, far from home, a little drunk and very broke.

I did what anybody else would’ve done, and all the way to the gas station and back he was a little incredulous, but that’s Christmas. It isn’t about me, just as it isn’t about the shepherds in the pageant who are worried about forgetting their lines.

Not a problem. We all know the lines. Just do what the others do and try to beam when it seems appropriate.

Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” can be heard on U.S. public radio stations. Distributed by Tribune Media Services.


9 12 2007

“The generous and beautiful people behind these worthy charities are so inspiring. I could not be more pleased that our tour helped raise awarenesses and financial support for each one. (If I were single, I would not look to meet people at a bar, a church, or online, I would volunteer.)”

— Frank, founder PostSecret

Heroes and the consequences of the writer’s strike

8 12 2007

My first reaction at seeing the words “season finale” in a patient’s room was shock. How could Heroes be having a season finale now? WTF, mate? NBC is screwing us out of an amazing series end.

I had to sit and stew for a few days of working before finally seeing the “season finale” of Heroes. Having witnessed it, I must now say kudos to whomever put this together.

The Office ended very early due to Steve Carrell’s willingness to strike with the writers. The fact that Heroes kept going as long as it did must only be due to advanced filming of the series. In a couple small ways, you can tell that the plot was rushed to a finish, but they really did a wonderful job ensuring a halfway decent wrap-up and a quality future season.

And now for comments:

***********SPOILER ALERT***********

I was dissatisfied with a number of things. The plot line with Nikki, Micah and [what’s-her-name, whose power of visual muscle memory kicks ass] is very lame. Why should we care about a robbed comic book and a fire when the fate of the world is at stake? Nikke then gets caught in the fire when the house explodes, and we’re left to think that she’s dead. We can be pretty sure that she’s not, though.

That ties into one of the big frustrations for me. Tim Kring stated that one of his big points of creating the series was to make it like a comic book. Characters live and die nearly every episode. The best example of such is the death of Tawny Cypress’ Simone Deveaux, who dies just when you thought Peter might have a shot at getting laid. Suddenly, Claire’s blood is the deus ex machina that heals every character. The only one who seems to be gone “for sure” is Nate Petrelli.  More people need to die, and more need to enter the show. It’s already a great springboard for talent. Just keep the actors coming!

Now for the good: The writers (or producers or editors or whoever is left) did a great job of resolving the Shanti virus issue without making it crazy. Granted, we still don’t know what happened to Caitlin or what will happen with Adam Monroe who, according to Hiro, “won’t be hurting anyone anymore.” I’m still holding out for an Adam vs. Sylar battle royale that take up a whole episode ala Dragonball Z.

Nate getting shot is bullshit, as is the “final” fate of Adam. Peter’s change of sttitude probably should have taken another episode or two, but what can you do? I think that the room of mysterious things (such as a brain, a key and a poker hand with four queens) might mean a lot of things for future episodes. On top of that, there is no more imagery with the Primatech DNA logo, the cockroaches or many other things. They will hopefully start getting more creative like (I’ve heard) lost has gotten… though without going overboard as Lost (again, as I’ve heard) has.

The volume three title, “Villains”, is perfect. The show needs to get back to the intent of good vs. evil. I’m excited for its future stories… and Maya sucks. Why was she brought back to life?

Sylar Out on the Town

8 12 2007

For: my friend Nate
From: Josh @

Zachary Quinto

Zachary Quinto, the guy who plays Sylar on Heroes, was at the Radar party last night. I love Heroes and hate Sylar. He’s such a dick and he totally screws over that cute South American girl with the eyes that cry blood or whatever. Plus he’s annoying. So when I saw Quinto, I wanted to punch him, naturally. It could have been because I ran into him just as the upstairs bar was shutting down and wouldn’t serve us and he’s like (to his friends), “I just talked to the Skyy Vodka® people downstairs, they’ll totally hook us up.” So I was clenching my fist and cocking my arm, when I realized he was wearing kind of emo black rimmed glasses, chucks and a pea coat. He had spiky hair too. He even had a scarf. And then it dawned on me. Zachary Quinto looks like a nice gay boy. (Is he gay? I think so but I don’t know.) And my rage subsided because Sylar is totes not gay. Cognitive dissonance is such a more deadly foe when you are filled with vodka.