iPhone application produced by Things Made Out of Other Things.

I have a tendency to hibernate through January. The weather is miserable, and post-holiday lethargy sets it, and all my neuroses and fanatic streaks come out to play. Last year I spent an inordinate amount of time killing zombies in Fallout 3, and this year, well, this year I spent an inordinate amount of time killing darkspawn in Dragon Age: Origins (I’m not proud). But I’ve burnt out on that game and now I’m indulging in another realm of dorkiness: I’m obsessed with the Eucalyptus app on my iPhone.

Eucalyptus is not a game; it’s e-reader software that allows you to search and download from the vast archives of Project Gutenberg. Thousands upon thousands of books—virtually any title you can think of with an expired copyright—are available for free within seconds, and Eucalyptus keeps everything tidy, organizing by author or title and showing at a glance how far you’ve paged through the virtual books. The program is elegant and intuitive and, best of all, readable. The size of the text can be adjusted, the “pages” turn with fluid grace, and on a crowded train, it’s easier to pull out a palm-sized phone than a six-by-nine hardcover. I’ve become so attached to Eucalyptus that it’s no longer reserved for commutes and queues; I’ll curl up in bed to read from my phone, which is, I admit, kind of weird.

Meet the Breeds

Presented by the American Kennel Club and the Cat Fanciers’ Association at the Javits Center on Saturday, October 17.

I strongly believe in adopting dogs and cats from shelters. My childhood cats—all of them wonderful pets—came from animal shelters, as did Tess and Luna, whom Sean and I adopted in January 2007. A few years ago, though, one beloved branch of my family suddenly became obsessed with Tonkinese cats—a turn of events that has made my pro-shelter, anti-breeder soapbox a lot less fun (and that takes some doing—I love my soapboxes), so suffice it to say that Mom, Dad, Sean, and I did not check out Meet the Breeds because we’re in the market for a pure-bred. No, we were there for the spectacle. My parents happened to visit on a miserably cold, rainy weekend, and we were looking for indoor entertainment.

We certainly found it at the Javits Center. Breeders from all over the United States convened at the event, with booths featuring some 160 dog breeds and 41 cat breeds—a small zoo of domesticated animals. We spent hours wandering through the enormous exhibition hall, marveling at the more exotic breeds and cooing over the cutest ones and learning more than we ever needed to know about everything from the Ocicat to the Manx to the Chinook to the Keeshond.

Fun with music videos because there’s nothing else to do in June

“Waking Up in Vegas,” Katy Perry; “Lessons Learned,” Matt and Kim; and “Paparazzi,” Lady Gaga.

I admit that saying there’s nothing to do in June is an exaggeration, but options (at least my kind of options) do tend to dry up in New York in the summer, and Sean and I have been out of town too, so voilà! A music video post! Easy filler!

The Sims 3

On the PC.

Once again, I’m engrossed in the imaginary lives of imaginary people. I’ve been playing with Sims ever since the first iteration of the game, nearly a decade ago, and it’s kind of embarrassing. I’m not even one of those players who use the games to construct elaborate buildings or design clothing, which would be more justifiable, I think. No, I just get a kick out of telling myself stories about the imaginary people, like a little girl with her dolls. Like I said: kind of embarrassing.

Green Porno

Seasons 1 and 2 online at

First, let me assure my parents (and disappoint anyone who stumbled here looking for masturbatory material) that there’s actually nothing pornographic about Isabella Rossellini’s fantastically weird series of shorts. They’re miniature films about sex, yes, but sex between snails and starfish and dragonflies and other creatures too alien to anthropomorphize. Green Porno isn’t titillating (and surely isn’t meant to be), but it is intriguing and funny and occasionally poignant, even beautiful. Rossellini might be a bit of a kook, but she creates an infectious sense of wonder with her vignettes.

Fallout 3

On Xbox 360.

I wish I could say that, while temporarily living the life of an anxiety-ridden, cold-weather-hating shut-in, I took the opportunity to complete an afghan or immerse myself in French New Wave films or organize the papers stacked on my desk or do something else productive, to quote my ever-productive mother. Sadly, I did none of those things. Instead, I spent an inordinate amount of time blowing the heads off terrifying, gun-toting mutants.

The Xbox is primarily Sean’s toy. Deprived as a child of all but the most educational computer games, I have no talent or affinity for the first-person-shooters he and his friends sometimes play together online. But occasionally, one of the video games hooks me in spite of myself, and I, too, am hypnotized by the screen, holding my breath, twitching my thumbs, and feeling very, very dorky.

The hook for Fallout 3 is the setting: a desolate, post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C. I find an odd, Planet of the Apes–type pleasure in exploring familiar landmarks through a nightmarish looking glass, but beyond that, post-apocalyptic stories fascinate me. There’s a perverse kind of optimism in imagining a world gone utterly, completely wrong in which hope, somehow, still endures. The water may be radioactive, the mutants may be vicious, but people are still cobbling together communities—reduced in circumstances, perhaps, but surviving, in a bleak, sci-fi twist on the Little House books I loved as a kid.