Lumbar Liquidators, or How Back Pain Is Not Something to Mess With

IF YOU WANT to get an idea of what it feels like for a whale to get harpooned, I suggest you herniate a disc in your lower back so severely that an anesthesiologist has to insert a needle into your spine and inject a dose of steroids in hopes of reducing the inflammation. Twice in the last month I’ve undergone such a procedure, and in each case my mind flashed immediately to Melville.

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Tome Swift, or How Smaller Page Counts Are Feeding My Habit

short readsTHE PLAN TO read more in the new year was going well. Until it wasn’t. Even my audio book consumption dropped off. In both formats, I started works only to get into them and lose interest. And before too long, my reading momentum was gone.

Looking for a way to get my nose (and ears) back into books, I recalled a list I’d seen online of well-done quick reads. That seemed like a good way to ease myself back into it — not by taking on a weighty doorstop whose heft could prove intimidating, but by leveraging the psychological boost that a work of smaller scale could provide. The Goldfinch? Um, no, not this week. Dept. of Speculation? Jenny Offill’s novel, checking in at 192 pages, is at the top of the list I’d seen. Perfect.

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Creative Righting, or How an Irreverent Marketing Campaign May Inspire Me to Reorient the Ship

kkaprod2_largeWHIT HILER WAS not the presenter I expected to be the one to deliver my annual March jolt of “Get off your ass and create.” That shock of inspiration inevitably happens at CUPRAP’s spring conference, typically courtesy a gifted writer or determined peer. Hiler, though, is not only an agency guy but also a partner in a side project called Kentucky for Kentucky, whose goals include rebranding the Bluegrass State with the tagline “Kentucky Kicks Ass.”


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Trig Newtown, or How Heavy-Duty Math and Science Don’t Mix Well with Audio Books

Indy and MarionTHE AUDIO VERSION of James Gleick’s Isaac Newton is a mere five CDs — about two-and-a-half round trips to work. Newton was a genius, of course, a pioneer in mathematics and physics, yet I knew little of his life beyond the almost certainly apocryphal tale of the apple conking him on the head, leading to his theorizing about gravity. So I figured Gleick’s book was worth a listen.


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Rants and Faves, or Why Modern Sports Introduces Cynicism to Fans Far Earlier Than It Should

ShadyTHE WORST PART of the Eagles’ purge of LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin (and, last year, DeSean Jackson) isn’t the torrent of drivel it has unleashed on sports talk radio and Twitter. It’s having to explain it to the girls.

“Why would the Eagles get rid of those players? I thought they were good!”

Well, they are, but their cap hits were too big–

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Wee Mail, or How a Break in Electronic Communication Made for a Great Snow Day

avalanche_1801540cTHE GIRLS AND I had snow days yesterday, with the schools they attend and the college where I work all closed. The occasion afforded reflection on yet another example of how differently parents and their children see the world. All of us greeted the closures with joy, but for quite varied reasons.
For R. and Q., there was no school to deal with. R. had homework, but it was minimal, so she enjoyed plenty of chillaxing. Q. spent hours and hours at a friend’s house. And at the end of the day they romped in the snow at an impromptu neighborhood gathering.

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Family Wise, or How Watching the Right TV Is Bringing Us Together

Amazing-Race-PhilUNLIKE THE HOUSEHOLD in which I grew up, we’re not a watch-TV-every-night kind of family. When it is on, we try to make our viewing a communal activity. Although it’s tempting to let the girls zone out in front of Nickelodeon or Disney Channel while we attack our respective to-do lists, J. and I are cognizant of the fact that our jobs keep us from parenting as actively as we’d like. Relegating the TV to babysitter status is not something we’re keen on.

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