Josh Ritter is the musical guest tonight on Letterman!

Definitely give a listen and a watch to this great guy who started off like the rest of musicians, singing at coffee houses and logging in miles on a beat-up car. He made it big in Ireland first, and now in the U.S. A few years ago, we could see Josh regularly when he used to play open mikes at Club Passim in Boston. Great guy – couldn’t be happier for him!!! I describe his music as a young Leonard Cohen. Joan Baez has already covered one of his songs on a CD of hers.

11:35pm CBS
Tonight, Jan 12
The Late Show with Dave Letterman

Josh Ritter on Letterman Dave Letterman

I’m friends with this great band SHAGG! They are in the Top 10 right now for an mtvU prize. Please vote for them! You can vote for them as many times as you go to the site! Thanks!

Definitive Jux, an indie hip hop label based here in NYC, is running a contest through mtvU, and the winner gets to record an EP as well as a single and video with Def Jux rapper Mr. Lif. Shagg was selected for the “Top 25” and now, Shagg is in the “Top 10.”

There’s one week left to go.
Please keep voting! YAY! Looks like you can vote as often as you like.

Go here and click on the “DEF JUX TOP 10” graphic on the left halfway down the page.

I’m a huge fan of interactive entertainment, i.e. fun with real activities. Here are two great places.

1) I’ve been here and love to take my friends here. This is TOMB, an interactive adventure. An interactive, who-done-it, move-through-three-chambers, and solve-puzzles adventure, done in groups of 10-15 people. Love it!

2) Ninja Restaurant in NY (haven’t been yet, but want to go): the waiters hide and surprise you and jump out at you and the food includes swords that you need to pull out. Here is a video about it, and I heard about it from this link about 10 unusual restaurants:

Will Smith is starring in “The Pursuit of Happyness,” and in this article, he says that he read a lot about happiness in preparing for the movie. Will Smith says he liked best what Aristotle said about happiness:

“I’ve been reading a lot about what is happiness, and I feel Aristotle had the best idea,” the 38-year-old actor said while seated in the stately wood-paneled McCormick Room atop Tribune Tower. “He broke it down in the Nicomachean Ethics. Like for me it feels directly and inexorably connected to self-esteem.

“So I always explain it as: Think of yourself as two people, and one of them is inside of you, and he’s a scorekeeper. And he keeps score of your idea of the world. … And when you have a conflict with your scorekeeper, that’s unhappiness. Happiness is being completely in sync” — he slapped his palms together — “with your own perception of goodness.”


Have you seen March of the Penquins? GREAT MOVIE! I highly, highly recommend it.

March of the Emperor Here is a great penguin spoof by CANAL+ about how sometimes it’s better to see a movie than talk about it!

In Europe, “March of the Penguins” was called “March of the Emperor.” ENJOY IT!!!

Also, here is the song Somebody by Queen from the movie Happy Feet.

penquins singing

Finally, in chinatown in NYC, there are chinese bakeries that make super-good-looking Penquin cookies!

An interesting lesson-story gets passed down from generation to generation in some families. I’ve heard this story from my friends with some variation, but for some reason in the accounts, it’s consistently the father who is the main hero who demonstrates this phenomenon. Here are the two main versions I know:

Pebbles Rocks & Pebbles. The father with his little daughter is on the beach with some pail, and the father shows his little girl that she can pour a lot of pebbles into the small pail, and then when she tries to add large rocks, they don’t fit…. BUT if you take those same pebbles and set them aside and if you add large rocks to the pail first, and then pour the pebbles in between the large rocks, then both the rocks and the pebbles will fit.

And then the father says to his little girl, “See, it’s just like this – if you put in the important things in life first (laughing with mom and me, doing your homework, visiting grandma and grandpa), then the little things will all fit, and if you put in the little things in your life first, then the lrage rocks just won’t have any space.”

Walnuts & Rice. I always imagine this version of the story happening in the fall (around Thanksgiving or the winter school break). And I always imagine the father wandering into the kitchen while the child is playing with cooking ingredients on the kitchen table. And I always imagine a measuring cup, some unshelled walnuts on the table, and some rice in a pile. I imagine the father filling the rice to almost-full in the measuring cup, and then attemping to pour the walnuts in as well. Walnuts
And then I imagine the child saying, “Oh, no, dad, that’s silly. Try it the other way!” And then the walnuts go in first, and after that the rice. And then the father says to the child, “the walnuts are like the people you love
your mom, your brother and me
and the rice is all the things in life
that we all think we need

The above are lyrics from Kevin Briody. The words are from his song “Walnuts and Rice,” which I heard him perform once live, and it was great. Kevin Briody (rhymes with “sobriety”) is a singer-songwriter, and if you like it, you should catch him performing sometime. Another excerpt from Walnuts and Rice:

He took one handful of walnuts
and one handful of rice
you see my dad he had a funny way
of handing out advice
first he poured the rice in
this empty candy jar
but when he poured the walnuts in
they spilled down to the floor

He said, “the walnuts are like the people you love
your mom, your brother and me
and the rice is all the things in life
that we all think we need
how we fill this empty jar
is how we live our lives
first things first, there’s room for both
walnuts and rice”

Well i looked at him all confused
and he looked at me all content
as the smile grew across his face
i asked him what he meant
then he emptied out that jar
but before he put it back
this time he poured the nuts in first
and the rice filled in the cracks

Note: Written on 11-16 and posted for 11-15 to precede quote Thursday.

Today is an incredible, historic, wonderful day for women in chess!

Judit Polgar beats Veselin Topalov. Topalov is the highest ranked chess player in the world. He was the FIFE World Chess Champion for 2005. This is the first time that a woman has ever beaten the highest ranked player. Topalov’s chess rating has been at 2890, and is currently 2813. Polger’s chess rating is currently 2710.

Judit Polgar

The Essent Chess Tournament 2006 is currently going on (Oct 20-28). (The site is mainly not in English, but the chess moves, photos, and standings are quite readable. Judit is in the Crown Group.) In this tournament (today’s news), Judit Polgar, 30, beat Veselin Topalov, 31. There are six rounds in the tournament, and so far, Polgar is winning the first two rounds!

To watch the winning game, click here. Then hit the play button “>” to watch each move. Judit plays white. It is incredible to me that in her moves 16-17 and 26-27 are both two-part moves to accomplish something – that she is calm enough to move her pieces in time to where she wants them to be. Try to guess move 26 before she makes it. The commentators say this was her winning move. Pause at move 25 and see what you think.

* She is a mother of two, and returned to chess in January ’06 after a fifteen-month maternity leave.
* Judit Polgar wikipedia entry.
* The chess games of Judit Polgar.
* Some photos of Judit.
* I wrote about the Polgar family before here (specifically her father and how he trained his three daughters, the youngest of which, Judit, is the most successful in chess).
* Brief bio from, “Judit Polgar was born in Hungary in 1976. Her childhood consisted of an extensive chess education from her father and her sisters, and she began to compete internationally as early as 1984. In 1991 she became an International Grandmaster by winning the “men’s” Hungarian championship. At fifteen years and five months of age, she was the youngest grandmaster in history, breaking a record that Robert James Fischer had held for over 30 years. She has been the highest-rated woman ever since FIDE’s January 1990 list, and in 2003 she entered the overall top ten.”
* Judit’s sister Susan Polgar runs a Chess Center in NY and has an active and very interesting blog.

Alvaro Fernandez has started a wonderful blog: the Sharpbrains blog, all about brain fitness! I posted once about the company that Alvaro runs, Sharpbrains, and the interesting articles on that website.

Here are some of my favorites from his posts so far:

And today’s Sharpbrains post relates to both #2 mind-body and #3 decision-making: Mind/Body and the Role of Emotions in Decision-Making.

My favorite section of the sharpbrains blog is the brain exercises section. This section, which is updated with a new brain puzzles every few days, has you shuffle around different parts of your brain – sometime doing estimates and calculations, sometimes interesting word exercises, and my favorite is that Alvaro puts up many visual puzzles, such as the penny question, the Stroop test, and the classic old-lady/young-lady (see the post for an explanation of the below image):

Old Lady / Young Lady

So enjoy Alvaro’s blog! And he says that any questions you have on the brain to email him or to post comments on the blog.

In closing, here is the New Yorker’s recent update of the Old Lady / Young Lady discussion. :)

Turning Into