The Sims 2

On the PC. 

I debated writing about this, but seeing as how I’m in the midst of one of my periodic Sims binges, it seemed somehow dishonest not to write about it. But part of me thinks it’s a little shameful: I’m a 27-year-old woman with a job and a husband and a great life in a wonderful city, and I become obsessed with the imaginary lives of little pixelated people in my PC.

This American Life: What I Learned from Television

A Chicago Public Radio Production at Avery Fisher Hall on Monday, February 26.

I wrote here about This American Life once before. It was one of my earliest blog efforts, and I struggled to articulate what makes the radio program so special. The stories it features are so diverse in type and tone and subject matter that it’s difficult to capture what it even is, much less why I love it so much, why I babbled merrily for days to anyone who would listen when it became available as a free podcast. (Seriously, I’m evangelical about this. Visit iTunes and check it out.)

When I heard the show’s creators had agreed to do a television version for Showtime, I cringed, partly because I worried that This American Life’s beautiful, literate craftsmanship could never make the transition to TV and partly because Sean and I don’t get Showtime, so I won’t be able to see it—mixed feelings, clearly.

A memorial of one

I thought about attending one of the many services held in New York to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

More fun with music videos

“I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” Panic! At the Disco; “Fidelity,” Regina Spektor; and “Not That Kinda Girl,” JoJo.

Sean and I watched the MTV Video Music Awards on TiVo so that we could fast-forward through the commercials, boring acceptance speeches, painfully awkward patter, and performances by artists we don’t like or don’t care about. (We’re in our mid-20s—too old for MTV, really—so there was a lot of fast-forwarding. We are ancient.) In typical MTV fashion, they don’t actually show more than five-second clips of any of the nominees, and it’s the same dozen or so over and over again anyway, but it still put me in the mood to write about one of my favorite guilty pleasures: overproduced music videos. Whee!

Fun with music videos

“Not Ready to Make Nice,” Dixie Chicks; “Here It Goes Again,” OK Go; and “Deja Vu,” Beyoncé.

Even in New York, not much goes on in August. The big performing arts organizations are between seasons, the film studios put out their worst movies, and it’s too damn hot to venture outside anyway. So I’ve decided to indulge in one of my true guilty pleasures: music videos. Happily ensconced in my air-conditioned Astoria apartment (provided that Con Ed doesn’t decide to cut the power again), I’m writing about a few of the gesamptkunstwerk* miniatures that have captured my interest lately.

This American Life

Weekly radio program from Chicago Public Radio. Heard on public radio stations nationwide as well as satellite radio. Check local listings.

When I first moved to Missouri for graduate school, I spent nearly a month alone without television, Internet access or even a DVD drive on my computer. Giving up one would have been difficult but manageable; giving up all three was agony.

Deprived of a flickering screen to distract me from my loneliness and anxiety, I discovered the joys of public radio. Not all of the programming was to my taste. I only tolerated Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me and absolutely loathed A Prairie Home Companion, but I fell rapturously in love with This American Life. Every Saturday afternoon, I curled up next to the radio for the hour-long program. Host Ira Glass would describe the abstract theme for the week and then introduce a few stories loosely related to that over-arching idea. Some stories were heavily reported, some were personal narratives, others were pure fiction, but nearly all had a distinct, individual voice and something meaningful to impart. The writers impressed me with their skill but, more than that, with their wit and insight and honesty. For that month, This American Life was a major highlight of my week.