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On her quietly brilliant 2011 solo debut, Last Summer, the Fiery Furnaces singer/guitarist Eleanor Friedberger dialed back the art-pop zaniness of her day job several notches, which gave her verbose travelogues welcome breathing room. On Personal Record, Friedberger settles further into a vintage, Laurel Canyon-inspired sonic space, in which sparkling electric pianos and swirling organs commune with her sweetly brash vocals. Personal Record’s best moments are its most subdued. The delicate bossa nova ballad “Echo or Encore” and the hippy-ish idyll “I Am the Past” are particularly gorgeous. Elsewhere, “She’s a Mirror,” with...
  Oh Erin, say it ain't so! Fierce single mom turned justice-crusader/biopic inspiration Erin Brockovich (now Brockovich-Ellis) was arrested on Friday for driving her boat when she shouldn’t have been. A state wildlife and game warden on Nevada’s Lake Mead noticed her struggling to dock it, and discovered she was a bit too tipsy to be steering the boat in the first place. In his words, she “exhibited several signs of an intoxicated boater.” I bet you didn’t expect to read that sentence today. Erin was arrested for operating under...
  Is this the end of the "man bike"...? And why are bicycles gendered anyhow? Since the beginning of time for the bicycle (1817!) bikes have had genders, and dudes have rolled around on frames made specifically for their manly selves. Officials in the Netherlands say the age-old male bike design is straight up dangerous, and want man bikes off the road. The problem: standard men’s frames have a horizontal crossbar. That’s the “top tube” in this handy diagram:   It's really high, straight-across, and a real pain when you...
  It all started with a vagina. Earlier this spring, a Facebook support group directed towards moms posted a picture of an anatomically correct vulva. The group boasted a readership of around 22,000, and the image was clearly meant for education, empowerment, and advocacy. It fell in line with the other discussion topics on Motherwise – which writes about “breastfeeding, parenting issues, and birthing options,” as well as serving as a platform for discourse and community. Within three hours, the picture was taken down. Upon further inquiry, Facebook...
Following her debut novel, The City is a Rising Tide, Rebecca Lee presents a collection of seven biting stories about the luxury we take in life’s ordinary comforts, and the threats, real or imagined, that lurk beyond the surface. As of this writing, Bobcat was longlisted for the international Frank O’Connor Prize for story collections, and the praise is due: with deadpan humor, Lee’s light touch illuminates the contrasts in everyday life—warmth and cold, past and present, beauty and terror—imbuing her realistic tales with quiet depth....