Monday, July 23, 2007


I heard of this movie first (keep in mind we don't watch TV... by choice) when searching for Keep Holding On by Avril Lavigne on Youtube. The song is on the soundtrack... sorta... i don't recall hearing the song until the credits rolled.

Anyway, the Eragon-Keep Holding On video was pretty cool, and to the top of the Netflix queue the movie went.

The movie starred an apparant newbie, Edward Speleers along with some delightful veteran actors including Jeremy Irons, Sienna Guillory, Robert Carlyle, John Malkovich, and the lovely Rachel Weisz (as the voice of the dragon).

I have no complaints about the movie, though I wish it had been more. The acting was good, the special effects were good, but the storyline was formulaic: Kingdom suffering under the cruel rule of a knight-type turned evil, the hope of the people falls upon an unsuspecting farm boy who, with the aid of a magical dragon, brings freedom to the kingdom.

Oh well. The kids liked it, and it was fun.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Ah, Pink.

I heard the name maybe a year ago, maybe more. Being the shallow fellow I am, I instantly despised her. I didn't even know what she sang. Anyone who called themselves 'Pink' must be moronic.

Whoa, was I wrong.

I like Pink (born Alecia Moore) because she can sing. Man, can she sing. Deep and powerful are her vocals. And her songwriting, though sometimes awkward (e.g. Dear Mr. President), is powerful as well. Her videos are technical, edgy, moving, and entertaining. One of my favorites is Don't let me get me. Her in pigtails reminds me of my 2 year old daughter, who is a bit of a tough, independent rebel... and looks like Pink a bit.

Let me say something about Dear Mr President. I think the lyrics are awkward because they're more than just a little naive. I feel a little bit embarrassed just listening to it, though the singing is great. Though my bent is toward conservative, my dislike of the lyrics is not because of that. I, myself, have more than a few issues with Bush. The message is simply not very sophisticated. I do admire her gall to make such a song, and I understand her desire to make it. Good for her.

I also like Pink because of her look. Sometimes she's cute:

Somtimes, she's not.

Sometimes she's feminine:

Sometimes she's not:

Sometimes she's glamorous:

Sometimes she's not:

Sometimes she's girl-next-door:

Sometimes she's not:

She's sometimes a bit naughty:

She's always a little crazy:

A woman, she is. (and this is not porn - it's Bryan Adams photography!)

The B-Flow and the G-Groove

When I was in college, I roomed, or housed, with two lovely sisters named Bridget and Gina. Wonderful women I admire greatly for a variety of reasons. I was their irritating guy house-mate. Anyway, to me they were B and G, or B-Flow and G-Groove. I think these are actually groups of some kind, but I'm not familiar with them. However, when I think of these monikers of theirs, I think music.

As I mentioned briefly in a previous post, or somewhere on this post, I've been paying a lot more attention to the music I listen to. Music appreciation, you could call it.

In the "On my desk" section of the sidebar, I"ll be listing either individual songs or albums that I'm digging at the moment. After they've moved off my 'now playing' list, they'll go to the shelf. Keep in mind, not everything 'on the shelf' I liked.

So I was making an hour trip from Albuquerque, and listening to the radio, and got a string of songs I'm really digging right now. One of them is Give it to me by Timbaland. I must comment that I have historically disliked Justin Timberlike, for no other reason than he was in the boy band 'N Sync. But two things have happened recently that make me respect the guy. #1, he's with Jessica Biel in some way.

#2, He grooved with Nelly Furtado on "Give it to Me"

These are both women I, um, admire greatly. Go, JT.

Next, a remake of 'Time after time' came on by, I believe, Quietdrive. I don't know who Quietdrive is, but their remake was a decent version of Cyndi Lauper's. Yes, I like Cyndi Lauper. My friend, Lisa, teases me greatly about this, but hey, if a pop punk band thought she was cool enough to faithfully recreate her song, then I guess I'm not so lame. And Sarah McLachlan saw it fit to do a 'feat' version of time after time with Cyndi. I am very fond of Lauper's studio version, which everyone knows, but the feat McLachlan version is stunning. Vocals are amazing (though Lauper breaks a little once), and the acoustics, wow. Below is a youtube clip of a live version. The studio version is much better, so try to find a good mp3 somewhere. I thought Sarah was playing a twelve string guitar, but from this video it's clear Sarah's only singing, and the mesmerizing acoustics must be coming from that guitarist or Lauper's gizmo gadget she's strumming.

This second video is a fun cover video for Quietdrive's 2006 remake.

Also playing over the airwaves was Irreplaceable by Beyonce. I despised this song when I first heard it months ago. When I finally listened to the lyrics, however, I was moved. Though I'm not sure this song will stay on my playlist long, I have respect for it.

Then came 4 in the morning by Gwen Stefani. Great song. My first exposure to Gwen Stefani was Hollaback Girl which my then 5 year old daughter unfortunately learned the lyrics to and belted out in school. Again, I found Stefani irritating at first, then quickly grew to like her very much. Now I'm a big fan.

Finally came Pink. I'll devote an entire post to her.

So anyway, that was my music appreciation for today.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Man in the Hut

I like David Sedaris. I've read a couple of his books, some of his short stories, and I even listened to a radio broadcast reading by him. I'm thoroughly enchanted by him. The wit of Dave Barry, sans the cerebral bent, which is refreshing.

David Sedaris is simply a joy. What a treat to find a piece by him in the New Yorker.

I can't say I took anything profound away from this essay. As seems to usually be the case, Sedaris seems to simply chronicle life, comically highlighting irony and ridiculous outtakes. Here, he talks about, well, a man living in a hut in the village in Normandy where Sedaris lives with his partner, Hugh. The man in the hut is Jackie, who is living a caricature life of a modern day French peasant on the downslope of life.

Sedaris exposes, as usual, his deep insecurities, submissive nature, and generally dysfunctional personality. All framing his looking glass observation of Jackie, sliding from a sadly mundane life to disgrace to illness to death.

Clearly not a happy story, but funny, and weighs as another citation of the human condition.

Sedaris, David. "The Man in the Hut." The New Yorker 4 June 2007: 48, 53-55.

Fashion bug

No one can accuse me of being a fashionable guy, save special occasions. And just because I often look like I put on whatever I tripped over on the way to the bathroom, it doesn't mean I don't admire fashion.

I have four obstacles that impede my claim to fashion: First, I have little idea what is fashionable. Second, I don't have much money to spend on fashionable clothes. Third, I don't always find the time to put together a daily ensemble. Finally, I don't always think I look good enough to be in fashionable clothing.

However, I still desire to be fashionable. In fact, a big part of the Body department of the AG Project is outward appearance, which includes dress. So why desire something that comes seemingly unnaturally to me?

In the June 4 New Yorker, a piece by a Lizzie Widdicombe in the Talk of the Town anecdotally captured why. The piece is about a high school boy, Robert Asch, nearing his prom, who emails Duckie Brown (an "eccentric menswear label" out of New York, presumably) about fitting him out with one of their ensembles for the event. The two partners, who make up the small-time home-run label, agreed. Asch, from New Jersey, comes to their studio and gets fitted. Widdicombe writes that when done, "Asch moved his arms around: 'I feel fantastic.'"


Widdicombe, Lizzie. "Prama." The New Yorker. 4 June 2007: 33-36.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Summer Reading List

Finally organizing my reading list. Quite a challenge. In the sidebar you'll notice three sections below the picture: On My Desk, In the Q, and On the Shelf. On My Desk is what I'm currently reading/watching/listening to. In the Q is what I plan on reading/watching/listening to next. On the Shelf is what I've read/watched/listened to and am done with.

I wish there was a Blogger widget that allowed me to comment on the list items on the list itself. Like a review of each book or a listing of the articles-of-interest in periodicals. I know I can do it using the HTML widget, but I don't want to get into that. I guess I'll just create blog entries to comment.

Note that the Lit section will list books and magazine periodicals. I will list periodical issues, but not not individual articles. The list isn't totally comprehensive as I'll read articles here and there from other magazines, newspapers, and online sources.

I also realize that I'm sporadic about periodical readings. I have a dozen periodicals on my desk. Reason is that I go back and forth, never seeming to finish any one periodical till weeks later, when I've exhausted all the meaty articles and finally get down to the fluff. I need to change that habit and digest each issue immediately so I can shelve it and move on.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Business Ethics & Multiple Intelligence

I once, while in college, received a subscription to a publication called Strategy + Business published by Booz Allen Hamilton. I never knew who gifted me this subscription, but I found the magazine profound. It had no b.s., just many solid articles on business. It didn't have the glossy, dumbed down glam of Time, but rather the serious intellectual quality of the New Yorker. No 'Ten Ways to Make Your Business Succeed' type articles or 'Ask Don' columns. Anyway, as part of this project, I subscribed to this publication as reading material for career and mind.

I'm in the middle of an article (Howard Gardner Does Good Work by Lawrence M. Fisher). Howard Gardner is a Harvard professor in the School of Education. His relevance to business comes from his scholarly linking of cognitive development and leadership ability.

First, I admire Howard Gardner for his lifestyle. A brilliant, but frugal man who lives a professionally ethical life. Second, I like what he has to say about business ethics. When presented with the question of why should businesses concern themselves with anything more than making money (i.e. ethics), Gardner states that the survival of business may depend on it.

How bold! How profound! How true... Fisher paraphrases Gardner, too could corporate enterprises be rejected by the body politic -- consumers, employees, and even shareholders -- if they fail to generate wealth for more than a privileged few. If given a choice, he [Gardner] believes, knowledge workers will flock to companies that embrace high standards of excellence and that allow them to feel engaged with society, leaving other firms with the less talented, less motivated members of the workforce.
I have always felt this, but haven't put it so eloquently. In my business aspirations, I have always believed that I needed to not just make money (let there be no doubt that I want to make money), but to fulfill a social need and create economic and social wealth for the community my businesses operate in. I want my employees to be better compensated than anyone else around and that the communities they live in provide them a higher quality of life. Sort of like the utopia Milton Hershey envisioned for Hershey, PA, but rather than providing everything, I want to endow the employees and community businesses with the ability to do it themselves.

Another quick mention in the article is about Gardner's other studies. There are two that caught my eye. The first put forth in his book, Five Minds for the Future. The second in Creating Minds. Both of these I'll put on my reading list.

Five Minds "posits five sets of congnitive capabilities that will be any successful citizen, professional, or businessperson. These include the 'disciplined mind,' the 'synthesizing mind,' the 'creative mind,' the 'respectful mind,' and the 'ethical mind'" (Fisher). The article sprung forth from this last 'mind,' but I find a great interest in reading more about the others.

Creating Minds
interests me because of my daughters. Fisher writes of the book's posit, "Children do indeed know how to play, but achieving sustained creativity requires first mastering a particular domain, whether classical piano or particle physics, which in turn requires at least 10 years of intense study, generally amid a community of supportive individuals." I've suspected this after watching my 6 year old daughter jump from activity to activity, never spending more than a couple weeks learning anything. Karate, gymnastics, dance, theater, t-ball, ballet, horseback riding, authorship, singing... they never lasted and I can't say she actually achieved any true understanding, much less mastery, of these disciplines. I know that I've found in my own life a great difficulty focusing on anything or achieving true mastery over anything. I think it's because I was allowed to "do whatever I wanted" and my childhood and adolescent genius was spent on who-knows-what, rather than focused on any one discipline.

In summary, a great article on a great subject. And an interesting author for me to explore more.

Fisher, Lawrence M. "Howard Gardner Does Good Work." Strategy + Business Summer 2007: 82-91.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Work Ethic

My wife brings me books from the library she thinks I might find interesting. She brought home Total Recall by Sara Paretsky. What a treat! It's a VI Warshawski novel (yes, the one they made a movie about). I've read one or two in the past I enjoy them thoroughly.

In just the prologue, I've already been stirred. I haven't gotten any further, but apparently there is a character named Lotty Herschel who lived in England during WWII. The prologue is titled "Work Ethic." Lotty observes, " was my only salvation... it's a narcotic, the oblivion overwork can bring you." She notes that the Nazis had a slogan over their camps, arbeit macht frei, or work will make you free. Lotty goes on to note, "... work can numb you. If you stop working even for a moment, everything inside you starts evaporating..."

I have mixed feelings about work. I, too, find work a narcotic. For the past seven years, since leaving collegiate studies, I have immersed myself in work. Robotic work. It made the past seven years pass quickly... yet I'm not sure what I gained, other than saying I worked hard for seven years. After I left work my full time job in February, I felt a little lost. I had lost my routine of monotonous work.

Now I'm self-employed and I'll admit it's a bit difficult to adjust. Rather than rote work, I need to perform creative development work. There is no boss setting expectations, there is no SOP for me to follow. I've been conditioned for so long to simply put your head down and work that it's hard to transition to entrepreneurial work.

Like Lotty, I found work a salve. It was my escape. It wore me down over time, however. It drained all my creative power. But I do miss it. I miss being 'productive' in the traditional sense. I miss it to the point that I'm often tempted to pull out the classifieds and start submitting resumes. Just so I can get the high of working. George Foreman was on David Letterman (or perhaps it was Conan O'Obrien) recently, and George spoke about how there was no better feeling than waking up in the morning and having a job to go to.

I agree with George. George is an entrepreneur, however. He doesn't have a typical 8-5 job. He has business ventures, in addition to his sports profession. But it seemed that to him, these were jobs to him. That he gets up every day to attend to his job. I need to do that. I need to structure my life so that my entrepreneurial ventures fulfill that narcotic lust for work.

Paretsky, Sara. Total Recall. New York: Delacorte Press, 2001.

About this blog

This is a companion blog to the AG Chronicles project and AG Chronicles blog. This may be curious reading on its own, but it's actually an exercise in advancing the AG Chronicles personal improvement project. Please visit the site to learn more about it.

An anthology is a collections of works of some type. The works typically have commonality of some sort -- same author, same genre, etc. Here, the commonality is that I have read/watched/listened to these works.

These 'works' will consist of novels, short stories, articles, music, and movies. Basically, anything that I read, watch, and listen to. It's meant to chronicle the things that I actively put into my head, how they make me feel, and what I think about them.

I'd also like to give some credit here to a friend of mine, Bill. While I have described myself as an intellectual of sorts, Bill is the real deal. He has a website called the Anthologist's Cabinet, and it is because of him that I remember the term "anthology" and it is why this blog has its name. Also because I couldn't think of a better name. I'll probably mention Bill quite a bit in my blogs because he is a person that I admire greatly for his reflective nature and natural intellectual abilities.