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Belle Waring

Superstitious

by Belle Waring on April 23, 2018

We were once at a psychiatrist session that was actually for another family member, but I was kind of getting grilled. No, I was for real getting grilled. Are you crazy or nah, was the line of questioning. I mean, maybe I suffer from serious mental illness, sure, but this question seemed out of place in the context: do you have any rituals that you have to do. Ha, no! I am not crazy in this particular OCD way! Take that! And then the psychiatrist asked whether I had any superstitions. Umm.

Only one, I said, that you can’t put a hat on the bed, and especially not on a made bed because that is just straight disastrous. But I made an exception for doll hats, while at the same time feeling uncomfortable about it. (When you have little girls with dolls life would be tough otherwise.) Then everyone started laughing. You have a billion superstitions, they pointed out. OK fine, maybe I think that if you’re walking with someone and something comes between you, like the pole of a parking sign or some sort of stanchion, one of you has to say “bread and butter” and then the other has to respond with “come to supper.” Otherwise…maybe you might not get along, like something came between you in that sense? And if you kill a spider it will rain. That’s just common sense. When you get an ice-water-down-your-back feeling it’s because somebody walked over your grave (this is silly because I plan to be cremated and have my ashes thrown in the lovely May River; do I think someone kayaked over my grave or something?).

If you spill any salt at all you have to throw some over your left shoulder. Oh, this one is heavy duty: don’t take the salt out of the air. Like, you have to put it down on the table and allow the other person to pick it up. I am so serious about this one; so is everyone in my family. As a child my father waited until his aunt was very absorbed in conversation, and when she asked for the salt he handed it to her directly, and when she realized what had happened she reacted so strongly that she pushed her chair right over and fell backwards to the ground. I have convinced my in-laws to humor me in this regard by making no movement and looking at them sadly when they pass the salt until they put it down on the table in mild exasperation. There are others but I can’t think of them right now. My children were taught additional ones by our Filipina maids. Such as, your hair is stealing your growth, so cutting it will make you grow taller (Zoe fell for that.) If you cut your hair at night, snakes will come. Every grain of rice you leave on your plate is a blemish on your future husband’s face.

When I was little I had more classically OCD ones I think, like not stepping on a crack to avoid breaking my mother’s back, to where I really caused myself difficulty on the sidewalk. I actually remember when I could first step on them, initially with trepidation, then with the glee of freedom. I used to have to run my hand along and count the railings of fences near our home in Georgetown (in D.C.) by groups of…I think eight, that seems random. But maybe all 12-year-olds are kind of OCD. Now the question: do I really believe in these superstitions? Some more that others: the hat on the bed kills me, and so does taking the salt out of the air. Do I feel compelled to do them? Yes, I just plain have to throw salt over my left shoulder pretty much anytime I cook. I believe them with double-consciousness; I can see that they’re just dumb while simultaneously being unable to get rid of them. Maybe if I did CBT and repeatedly took the salt out of the air I could numb myself to their effects. But what about you? Do you have superstitions? I want to hear new ones. Though there is the danger you will pick up someone else’s superstitions and be stuck with it.

Young Man Has Crisis While Europe Stumbles Into War

by Belle Waring on March 5, 2018

So I have a sort of reading project. I read Radetzky March by Joseph Roth, and it is really the best thing ever. You should all read it, and unlike all the other books I’m thinking of, it’s not eleventy billion pages long. Europe is getting ready for WWI, but there’s no actual WWI in the book until the last five pages or so. This is as it should be because who wants to read about WWI? Then I read The Magic Mountain again which, similarly, has fighting in the mud (perhaps oddly cheerful) in the last…two pages maybe, and that’s it after 900 pages of symbolism of Europe’s decline, and brutal caricatures of European intellectuals, and five nourishing meals a day at the International Sanatorium Berghof. I’m reading all of Kafka now but it’s a detour and I don’t know how I started exactly, especially since Amerika is making me sad. But I’m almost done and setting that aside, next I’ll read The Man Without Qualities? The war’s going on for a while at the end but everyone is just dicking around in Vienna the whole time IIRC. I think the book even makes it to the end of the war?

Unfortunately it seems like I should read Proust next but…I mean, I know a girl’s got to have goals, but there’s a lot of Proust. (There are new translations I have been curious about, but.) It’s literally the best qualified I can think of, and ‘young man having crises’ and ‘Europe stumbling into war’ are lavished with care while ‘fighting in the mud’ is minimized. I think the narrator’s realization at the beach hotel, two years after the fact, that his grandmother is actually dead in a meaningful and tragic sense definitely outweighs any mud, which may not get a look-in at all. I’m pretty sure we get all the way through the war and more without any violence to speak of. Do any of you have good suggestions for the genre I made up (and I should note that young ladies having crises would be fine; I just don’t think there will be any)? I could go sideways and read Totem and Taboo, but although there are young men having incestuous crises there’s no stumbling into WWI IIRC. And if I’m just starting to drift into publication dates/influential works I could read Lukacs’ The Theory of The Novel? But why? It’s hard. It’s fair to ask, “why any of this Belle, and why are you reading Kafka if The Castle and Amerika are bumming you out, just stop.” BELLE WARING DON’T STOP READING NO BOOKS, IS WHY. And just in case you think I’m so fancy and all I read is fancy things I also just read Stephen King’s It, which is scary. Not as scary as WWI in some important sense, but pretty darn scary. [It should go without saying that I spend multiple hours dorking around on the loserweb, too.] And this may all be put on hold so I can help John by reading science fiction, anyway.

New DJ Earworm

by Belle Waring on September 14, 2017

DJ Earworm’s Summermash was an unusually weak outing, partly because it’s slow, and rebooted innocent Miley is boring, and other problems. But this Radio City Liverpool mashup is great; it’s the thing I always want him to do, namely mash up things from different years. Now if he would only mash up actually good songs that never crack the top 50 my life would be more complete, because he is like an painter given a child’s crappy watercolor kit with one of those plastic brushes with horrible stiff bristles that go in all directions, and told to paint something awesome. And he paints pretty great stuff! But what if we gave him some Mountain Goats and Janelle Monáe and stuff?!

Post Script: Ed Sheeran is the actual worst what is the deal.

R U Sure Tho?

by Belle Waring on September 11, 2017

This seems to violate the Belle Waring unitary theory of American politics. Kevin Drum proposes that “racism is not the explanation for everything Republicans do.” I grant that they want to cut taxes on the super-rich, but this is specifically with reference to Trump’s birtherism as well as Republicans’ refusal to accept Obama as a legitimate president (remember how he only got to serve 3/5 of a term when it came to nominating SC judges?). Ummm. Let’s just say I side with Marcotte in this dispute.

Happy Hari Raya Haji

by Belle Waring on September 1, 2017

Happy Hari Raya Haji/Eid al-Adha to all our Muslim readers! I live very near a huge mosque, and all the parking in the opposite lot is taken up, and all the street signs are full of locked bicycles, and the sidewalk is bordered with scores of scooters and motorcycles, and you can hear the call to prayer for a change. Normally Singapore more or less mutes it in the name of religious harmony—that is to say they forbid loudspeakers so the muezzin is singing alone, and so desperately quiet over the traffic noise and the inevitable jackhammering going on in Singapore at all times. The Indian ceremonies in which someone is blowing on a conch is frankly louder, and don’t get me started on drumming in Chinese temples or lion dances at CNY. I feel as if the men with the white caps that indicate they have been on the hajj have a little swagger today. Today on my hike I noticed the other men have generally worn embroidered and beaded black caps to keep up appearances. For those of you who don’t know, the feast celebrates both the ending of the hajj and the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail. Ibrahim and Ismail are said to have made the Kaaba later at the source of the miraculous spring which appeared when the earth was struck by the angel Jibra’il (or alternately much earlier where Hagar collapsed in prayer after wandering, in the hopes of saving her child from death from lack of water). It’s called the Zamzam Well, which is literally the coolest name ever. The day includes the sacrifice of a big valuable animal which is divided for a ritual feast, in commemoration of the ram substituted for Ismail. Lots of the many Singaporean Muslims with family in Malaysia travel there for the feast, where the cows or sheep or goats are more easily available (though of course they are shipped into mosques here.) People raise funds for charity also. Anyway, happy day!

What Music Are You listening to This Week

by Belle Waring on August 29, 2017

The recurring series that’s actually pretty popular, dammit. Also I get sweet music recs every time. Otpup pointed out that the new LCD Soundsystem is great, and although they have only released three of the songs off the new album, I have been listening to them on repeat as I do my morning 1-hour hike that I do before the sun comes up because I am a person of unusual virtue and my life has changed and now I am up from the front end instead of from the other end if you see what I mean. Also it’s really hot when the sun comes up in Singapore. Of course, it’s so muggy before the sun comes up that I come home in a lather of sweat anyway, but hey. I see lots of old people doing tai chi in the park, and occasionally monkeys. Not doing tai chi, as far as I can tell. Otpup posted “Call The Police”, so here’s “Tonite.”

I’m not 1000% sold on The War on Drugs, but I’m warming up to it. And this song is great. Damn this dude must do a good Dylan cover though.

This is one of my favorite songs from The Clash’s Sandinista:

It’s strange in a way how like this the towers of Singapores HDB blocks look, in huge clusters, but neatly painted with graded hues on the brick ends, some blues, some reds, some yellows, all planted around with tidy gardens, all surrounded with new cars.
My Neighbors
Sorry, there were much better photos but they maxed out the side of the blog. Anyway, this is in my neighborhood, so there’s that.

I have the Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox that appears in the video at 4:17 and carried it as a purse for a number of years, a choice I now regard as dubious.

Is there a name for the songwriting device of setting up an obvious rhyme and then not using it? Pavement is particularly inclined to this but there’s an example in LCD Soundsystem’s “Tonite” also:

Sure enemies haunt you with spit and derision
But friends are the ones who can put you in exile

You are expecting “prison” at that point, oder?

What Music Are You Listening To This Week?

by Belle Waring on August 22, 2017

In my last music post commenter Fats Durston recommended the Weakerthans “Plea From a Cat Named Virtue,” and it is totally awesome. Thanks, bro!

“I’m tired of this piece of string.”
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart sometimes do a The Smiths thing, but here I would say it’s more about The Only Ones. Or a combo? His voice is very like Peter Perett’s.

Sometimes I feel like bustin’ loose with Chuck Brown, Godfather of Go-Go.

Car Seat Headrest’s releae from earlier this year is still rocking me all the time, and further proves that literally anything can be a band name. Like, anything. (Plus fan-made video!) I feel that the outro is very early Brian Eno. Best quote “last week I took acid and mushrooms/I did not transcend, I felt like a walking piece of shit/in a stupid-looking jacket.” #relatable

What about y’all? You always have amazing suggestions and I listen to them all.
UPDATE: German punk band Slime’s “Viva La Muerte” is about the conquest of the Americas and it is so good.

Although maybe this anti-fascist song is more appropriate to the moment:

Profiles in Courageosity

by Belle Waring on August 14, 2017

I’m glad the president has finally been pressured to be as tough on actual Nazis as he’s been on Nordstrom Rack.

Bandwagonesque-esque

by Belle Waring on August 8, 2017

Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard released a kind of weird yet good? new album. “Oho so what!” you say. “I’ve always been meh on Death Cab For Cutie, Belle Waring, I’ll have you know.” I wish you would let me finish what I’m saying, ever! I agree. Anyway, it’s a song for song cover of Teenage Fanclub’s 1991 Bandwagonesque. This is cool as a concept album theme, and I have a soft spot for concept albums. Also, Bandwagonesque is a sublime album whose Big Star greatness was lost in the decade’s welter of grunge, so, why not cover it in its entirety? Gibbard put it this way to NPR:

“Bandwagonesque is my favorite record by my favorite band of all time,” Gibbard writes via email. “It came along at a pivotal time in my musical life, and I’ve loved it for over 25 years. It’s been such a blast taking these songs apart to see how they work and then putting them back together again.”

This is worthy-sounding but the weird thing is that he put them back together just the way they were put together in the first place. I mean, maybe there should have been new dovetail joints, or different instruments, or that part at the end of “What You Do To Me” where it fades out seconds before the end and then comes back could have been altered fractionally? The song which is changed the most is the opener “The Concept”, which he extended and made more shimmery and it is indeed a legit good cover.

However I am in a strange state of aesthetic suspension about the rest of the cover album. Is it good? I have listened to it more than once, which is a positive sign, but its main virtue was in making me listen to the actual album more? I haven’t really listened to it in ages BUT WHY NOT?!?? Now, it could be that I have deep-seated psychological problems and that’s why. Or that I have deep-seated psychological problems unrelated to my failure to listen to an album I really love for ages. That’s more likely actually. My psychiatrist would probably agree with that latter thing. ANYHOO. In short, the cover album is way too by-the-numbers, but the songs are so amazing, and his voice so well-suited to the harmonies that by some conservation of good music principle it is also good, I guess? (John likes it more than I, I think.) Additionally the production quality is a bit higher, so perhaps what I really want is a beautiful re-master.

I tried to explain/debate this problem with my brother in law but he has always been meh on Death Cab For Cutie and actually had never heard of Teenage Fanclub. So I asked him if he loved Big Star and he was fractionally slow in responding with some word that by the high questioning pitch audible just as he began aspirating was clearly going to be “well” or something like that so I said “nonononononononono. Nononononono.” You know, like a normal person would. He doesn’t love Big Star. That’s OK! Some people have a tiny chunk missing from their soul that—no, not that either; I guess some noble lovable folk just don’t love Big Star and I have to laboriously reconstruct my worldview now to accommodate this ill-shaped fact.

He actually attributed it to a well-known problem of not having listened to them as a young enough person to become truly obsessed ever. It’s not that he doesn’t ever like new music, he just doesn’t then sit there and listen to it endlessly on repeat, memorizing the lyrics, and crying slightly to himself. But nothing prevents you from doing this so I recommend it highly! Well, you don’t need to cry quietly to yourself—what if you aren’t emo like me the album is a real barn-burner after all? It’s true that there will probably never be music as emotionally important to you as music you listened to when you were 16 or 20 or whatever…but only probably. It varies from person to person. I recommend having various shattering emotional crises at different ages so the music you listened to obsessively then can pierce your heart with simultaneous love of music and hangover sadness at the same time! Wait, I’m not sure I do so unreservedly, but it does work. The real moral of the story here is that you should listen to Tennage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque; Jesus it’s so good. And hey, the other is good too?

What about you guys? Do you have music you first heard when you were 35 that you love deeply? 55? Do you love Big Star as is right and proper? Should I go back and listen to Death Cab For Cutie; it’s not like I didn’t have some songs I liked when they first came out? Did my new favorite album come out ten minutes ago and you have to tell me about it now? What’s the score?

What Music Am I Listening To This Week?

by Belle Waring on June 28, 2017

Once again, answers to the real questions. Not, why are Republicans actual mustache-twirling villains, or have we reached peak McArdle, but the music stuff. I meant to post this yesterday, but reasons. OK, cool.

Lorde’s new album is amazing. If it has one drawback it’s that as an adult she is writing about love and sexual relationships, which are the most basic song topics, really. As a young teenager she was writing about weird stuff like seeing your home city from the air for the first time or taking the train with your friends.

I love this song so much. Golden was a short-lived but good band who gave a great live show, and has this one genius song. I was inspired to listen to it by one of our commenters reminding me to listen to Ali Farka Touré. Which you should too! But the Golden song is particularly dear to my heart because they “get chicken at Negril,” an excellent Jamaican restaurant in Silver Spring, MD near my mom’s house. Also, it combines the sweetness of West African guitar riffs with the satisfying resolution of a more normal pop song, rather than a meandering continuity.

I love Bon Iver too much. So sue me. You should read the lyrics because you will for offing sure not understand them from listening to the song, I tell you what.


Hey, can’t go wrong with this one.

How Do Low-Lying States Deal With Climate Change?

by Belle Waring on June 16, 2017

The NYT today has an article about how the Dutch, with their long experience of holding back the sea, plan to advise other nations about utilizing children’s pudgy fingers to avert devastating floods. At least, I assume that’s what it’s about; I didn’t RTWT yet. More interesting and pertinent to me was this article from some weeks ago about how Singapore is constructing new land, both to increase the city state’s area on general principles and to deal with rising sea levels. Singapore is in a difficult position as a low-lying polis with no higher ground or inetrior countryside to relocate to. In addition, it is forested with high-rise apartment blocks that can hardly be moved. Bukit Timah hill, which I can see from my window, is only about 400 ft above sea level and is the highest point on the island. Singapore imports tons of sand from neighboring countries and uses it to create new islands offshore or infill and extend the current island.

The area where the Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino is located is on infill. It’s the one that looks like a cruise ship plonked on top of three curving towers. Next to it are these fabulous tree-like structures filled with plants and a stylized lotus building, and the huge ferris wheel, currently the biggest in the world, is nearby. With this and the durian-shaped Esplanade theatre Singapore has methodically achieved its goal of having a recognizable skyline. It is just like the government to plan the whole thing out like in this way after, one assumes, envious comparisons to the spontaneous towers of Hong Kong, and build it up in a slow plodding way—but then have it actually work!

From what I have seen in staying here so long, after the sand is put in, the ground is usually firmed up by being planted with trees for a while, though apparently they also build concrete honeycombs to support it from beneath. Both Indonesia and Malaysia have become irritated by the expansion and have begun to withhold exports of sand, so that Singapore has to look further afield. Myanmar has no compunction about selling something that’s worthless to them. Singapore has created something I didn’t know about, namely a strategic sand reserve in Bedok. This is also the most Singapore thing ever. Looking ahead! 10-year plans for new public housing and new MRT lines to service them! It is a curious place. I recommend you do read the whole article though it is long. The stories of a man who has viewed all the changes from the water are very interesting for a different perspective than the one I see. It is a fascinating look at what a truly endangered nation will do when it takes the Anthropocene seriously.

What Songs Are You Listening To

by Belle Waring on June 14, 2017

This is an important update on something I know you have all been wondering about with unabated bated breath, and since I am worried some of you may be turning blue from hypoxia (this has happened to me and it was no fun, so I sympathize) I have generously decided to answer the question no one was interested brave enough to ask: what music are you listening to this week, important opinion-having blogger Belle Waring? Well, I’m so glad you asked! Because now I can bludgeon you all about the head and say the new Mountain Goats album is the greatest. It’s a) a concept album b) about goths c) in the style of Steely Dan. I mean, what’s not to love. Nothing. Nothing is what’s not to love.

It’s the next song on the album, “Paid in Cocaine” which is actually the Steely Dan-iest, both in theme and execution, and it is also genius. CLICK THROUGH.

Mother Mother has a new album out and I’m not crazy about it although the song “Drugs” is OK. This, however, is good song.

The Damned. Can one ever tire of them? Well, I sometimes don’t listen to them for a while but then I recover my senses.

Kendrick Lamar’s new album DAMN is amazing like everyone has been telling you; I’ve been listening to PRIDE but I cant link, so enjoy HUMBLE. (So explicit of lyrics, if you’re at work or a three-year old is standing there.) The lyric that cracks me up is “This that Grey Poupon that Evian that TED talk”. That’s cold but accurate about the empty status symbol nature of TED talks.

Umm, like a million other things, how about Bon Iver’s “666”. It’s good that he posts lyric videos since otherwise there would be literally no way of knowing what they were. This isn’t just me leaning into my crappy all-in-one record player as a kid trying to figure out what the hell The Clash were saying, this is straight incomprehensible with made-up words in there to confuse you.

Let’s wrap things up with The Rolling Stones’ “Worried About You”. This song is genius because at the start Mick says “I guess you know by now that you ain’t the only one” but near the end of the song belts out “when did I ever do you wrong?” with apparent wounded sincerity. Like, dude, three minutes ago, is when. The part of the solo starting at 3:18 kills me. I have listened to this song on repeat so many times. I remember waiting at the blazing heat at the bottom of my apartment block for Zoe’s pre-school bus, and riding in the past the big movie theater in Little India where they sell muruku instead of popcorn, and walking in the still-sweltering early morning to my local park in Bukit Batok, just hitting play again and again and again.

So, tell me in comments what you are listening to. I am genuinely curious! Edumacate me! I’m making this a series now unless even if you all hate it.

This. Is. The. Remix

by Belle Waring on June 10, 2017

Why would anyone remix Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you might ask? Well, this is what NPR’s mellow-voiced Bob Boilen discusses with Giles Martin, son of the legendary Beatles producer George Martin, in this All Songs Considered podcast. I should note first that it seems misleading to call this a remix since it’s more like a remaster. Wait, I should note first that this sounds AMAZING and I am legit listening to this full-time now vs the original mix. It’s like a scrim has been lifted between you and the music: everything is crisper, fuller—there are drums, even! Martin explains something I didn’t know, which is that it was a technical concern for a while that the phonograph needle could get kicked out of the groove by too much drums. Ringo wuz robbed! Seriously, though, the bit where the drums come in in “A Day In The Life” (after “he blew his mind out in a car”) is fantastic now.

Back to its being a remaster, basically the band and Martin spent four times or more as long on the mono mix as on the stereo, lavishing way more care on the former. They expected everyone to listen to the mono, but then through widespread adoption of the stereo format, it turned out that exactly no one listened to the mono after a certain point. Certainly no one my age has ever heard it, and it’s noticeably different in many places. In addition to that, the four-tracking for the stereo mix, while innovative and cool-sounding, caused the sound to be degraded as it got repeatedly bounced to make the various tracks. What Giles Martin did was go back to the original tapes from which the stereo was mixed down, and to the mono mix, and then tried to create something that is in effect a stereo version of the mono mix. So, for example, the mono version of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” had something called artificial double tracking, which John loved. Another recording of his voice that’s slightly slower than the ‘top’ part (I don’t know what else to call this) is put in, creating a smeared effect that really suits the psychedelic sound. In the stereo version his voice sounds thinner by comparison. The whole podcast is worth a listen, because they put snippets from the various mixes and raw tapes next to one another so you can hear the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) differences. Or just listen to the remix of the album itself, it’s on Apple Music. Needless to say, you have to use the good headphones as the varying effects will be lost on your crappy computer speakers. For the record, Paul has listened to and apparently loves the mix. And speaking of records, they cut a vinyl version and I’m kind of coveting it. Maybe John will buy it for me as an anniversary gift. [insert winkmoji]

P.S. It is a humorous fact about my life that I never listened to The Beatles until I was 17, because my parents strongly inculcated in me the belief that you were either a lame hippie who liked The Beatles or a cool person who liked The Rolling Stones and then went on to like the Sex Pistols and The Clash, as if it were a Thunderdome-style match in which the two bands entered but only one band left. I don’t know what you also liked if you liked The Beatles; the soundtrack to Hair, maybe. This is related to my parents’ insistence that they were never hippies when I’m like we had a failed back to the land farm! I was there, dammit! Anyway, it was thanks to my horrified high school boyfriend Charles Andrews that I learned this Beatles/Stones absolutism was dumb and made zero sense (sorry Mom and Dad, and thanks Charles). It was “And Your Bird Can Sing” that sold me.

One of These Things Is Doing Its Own Thing

by Belle Waring on June 9, 2017

From the NYT:

That meant Labour-held seats were ripe for the picking, especially since northerners were not enamored of Mr. Corbyn, 68, a far-left urbanite. He seemed weak on defense and security, shaky on economic management, passionate about places like Venezuela and Nicaragua, had once had strong sympathies for the Irish Republican Army and liked to make jam.

Jam? Jam tho? Don’t northerners make loads of jam? Are they too tough because putting up fruit is for the weak? It’s actually a reasonable amount of trouble, even if very worth it.

Is The Living Easy Yet?

by Belle Waring on May 30, 2017

Summer is stipulated to begin on Memorial Day in the US. I’m pretty sure everyone else just starts it on June 1 like normal people. At any rate it’s almost summer in the northern hemisphere. Here in Singapore the days are lengthening by…seconds and headed for the solstice when the day will be 3 minutes longer than the night—which is totally imperceptible. Why not listen to Hot Hot Summer Day, an underappreciated but very awesome song from the Sugarhill Gang.

The more obvious classic is DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s Summertime, which has the advantage of having a great video.

Is it hot where y’all are? Are your kids about to get out of school and be on your hands the whole summer? Do you have screentime limits for them so people don’t just play video games and dork around on the loserweb all day? We are struggling to implement this. (Perhaps because this may be one of those ‘do as I say not as I do’ situations.) International school here ends on the 16th and John needs to be back in early August, so on the 20th we begin our dizzying yearly trek across all of fracking America, including stops in Arizona, D.C., West Virginia, and South Carolina, flying via Japan and Los Angeles. Kind of a drag but got to see that beloved family. Tell me of your plans Plain People of Crooked Timber (I am aware that they may be ‘work all summer you idiot; not everyone is an academic or has children to entertain’).