Bear Stories

"Over the course of a couple days, I found that everybody from my parents’ generation on up had at least one bear story, and often more."

Good Things of 2014, a Complete List

Can 2015 possibly surpass it?

We’ll just have to wait and see.

The Best Gift I Ever Gave

gift from the sky

Presented by by Capital One®.

During the holidays, we’re often asked what we wish for ourselves. This holiday season, Capital One is instead asking people to share their wish for others. Read on for a touching story that demonstrates the true meaning of giving.

There are no guarantees in gift giving. I learned this the hard way, when I gave my dad a new sugar bowl.

The original, shaped like an overturned onion bulb — round body, pinched base — meant something. My dad had bought it in the seventies, with my mom. Three decades later, the lid was gone and so was she, taken by cancer a month after my 23rd birthday.

In the haze that followed, I’d made more decisions than the one to protect our sugar from bugs: to love people while they’re still here; to conquer vanity, because who knows whether you’ll die with all your hair; and most concretely, to organize the house, so my dear dad could live his life.

No Things

The year 2014 was, for me, never better than for a brief hour on the morning of Sunday, June eighth, several thousand feet in the air above the southwestern edge of Costa Rica. It was my last day of vacation—my travel day, really. Six of us had spent a week snailing our way around the tiny country in a Toyota 4-Runner. We scrambled first up into the mountains, among coffee plants and volcanoes, and then we wound our way down to the beaches along the Osa Peninsula, flinging ourselves into the merciless surf, for shits and scrapes.

My long trip back to New York had begun around seven that morning. Two friends drove me forty minutes down the gulf side of the peninsula to the lone airstrip in Puerto Jiménez, where I climbed into a Cessna Grand Caravan 208 just after nine a.m. The plane was a twelve-seater with two pilots (a “puddle jumper,” as my father says), and there were six other passengers on board. After about fifteen minutes we made a “technical stop” on the Pacific Ocean side, in Drake Bay, a fact I had been warned about in an email update from Sansa Airlines. What I did not expect was for all the other passengers to disembark. Where the hell were these people going? I could have sworn the stop was just technical. I wondered, was I supposed to get off too?

A Long December

Fun fact! My frosh year of college, which I am calling frosh year because I went to Wesleyan and that is what we called it, I went to a concert in New Haven. Possibly Hartford. More likely New Haven. We went to go see the Counting Crows. Cake was the opening act. In terms of Cake, this was before they had that hit on MTV, and in terms of the Counting Crows, let me just say that “Anna Begins” made me feel things deep in my heart. If you are younger than me, you probably call this sensation “getting the feels” or “feeling some sort of way.” At the time, I just called it the quickening. That particular song gave me the quickening. And so, in 1997, I was really excited to go see the Counting Crows. #SorryNotSorry but whatever.

And so. Cake was in the news recently. That was a bummer. And then I ran into my friend Trace who went to that very same Counting Crows concert with me. That was nice! And then I was thinking about the Counting Crows a whole lot for the first time in possibly over 15 years because, I mean, it’s been a long December. Right?

Its been a long December and theres reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.” – Counting Crows

Adam Duritz’s dad worked in the same medical practice as my other friend’s father and they went to the same high school. So we waited outside the stage door and my friend yelled out the name of the school and Adam Duritz ignored us. Then Sara Gilbert showed up (She was attending Yale at the time? I guess?) and she was on (or hosted?) SNL with the Counting Crows and so they had a nice reunion and eventually we gave up because, admittedly, we weren’t even about to recognize the other Counting Crows if they came outside, so, really, why bother.

But, holy smokes it’s been a long December. The longest December of all. Wake me up when December ends. If this year is truly to be considered never better, then I am worried about the future. I mean, I’m always worried about the future because we’re totally going to run out of oil and then water and then there will be terrible wars and someone will use a nuclear weapon and render the entire planet into a dystopian nightmare worse than anything in those YA books we like so much.

The end of the year approaches. For many, it is a time to take stock of the past twelve months and look forward to the future, constructing an emotional architecture to support the weight of the notion that whatever comes next will surely be better than the trash heap that came before it. This is a faulty notion. Next year, we will inevitably only remember how much less worse this year was, because nothing ever gets better, especially, but not exclusively, on the Internet.

So, Never Better. That is the theme for The Awl’s goodbye to 2014. The essays will start today and help finish out the year; not all of them are so grim (Never Better: it’s a versatile phrase!) but we are glad to publish them anyway, if only as future cautionary tales. The package will be collected here.#

When You're Tripping on Vyvanse and a Man in a Frog Suit Appears

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, PandoDaily East Coast Editor David Holmes tells us more about what it’s like to shoot a music video in Brooklyn in 2014.

Making magic

A photo posted by David Holmes (@holmesdm) on Dec 12, 2014 at 8:06pm PST

David! So what happened here?

So I was helping my girlfriend, the photographer Alison Brady, with a music video she’s directing for this nice Grizzly Bear-ish rock band called Redfoot. I want to make sure I don’t overstate my role or take undue credit, so when I say “helping,” I mean carrying light-stands, sweeping floors, making coffee, and staying out of the way. Available but invisible—which would a fitting title if I ever write a memoir. Or a relationship self-help book.

Monsters in the Museum

lead

Domenico Remps, Cabinet of Curiosities, 1690s

On February 13, 1718, Peter the Great, Tsar of all the Russias, issued an edict on monsters: All monsters, animal or human, were to be requisitioned for the new museum in his new city, St. Petersburg. Peter desired anything in the realm that was marvelous—extraordinary stones, human and animal skeletons, the bones of fish and birds, old inscriptions, ancient coins, hidden artifacts, old and remarkable weapons—but he wanted monsters most of all.

After a week or two of mental rest and emotional easing, of public withdrawal and private return, of outward quiet and inner recomposition, of forward blindness and rearward clarity, of not forgiving and forgetting but of remembering and reckoning, and of peace-making, I will hold myself to a single resolution: to be a gracious and subservient subject of the Great and Fearsome Sandra—Sandra the Hideous, Ripper of Faces—and to accept, with humility and respect, the new order into which I expect to return.#

December 22, 2014: A1 or Bust

iQ by Intel: Refocus