This has been a busy month.  Too many airplanes.

In case you missed it, check out my review of the new Princeton Review TOEFL book.  I felt let down by it.  Princeton Review should do better.

Meanwhile, when I was in Canada I finally got my hands on a copy of the newest edition of the MLA Handbook.  I often work with students preparing for their freshman year of studies in America and I always encourage them to get a printed copy of the handbook so they don’t f–k up the formatting and sourcing of their essays.  A few of the students even listen to my advice!  If you are planning on studying at a university in the USA go get a copy.  You’ll use it quite often.

I read a few normal books and articles, meanwhile.

Continuing my read-along with the Norton Library Podcast, I read “Diary of a Madman and Other Stories.”  I think this might be my favorite from the podcast series so far.   Gogol is new to me – I didn’t realize his works are so humorous.  If you want to check out the podcast, here’s a youtube link.

I used my airplane time to dig deep into my stack of unread issues of the New Yorker.  A few articles are worth passing along.

First up, I read the March 28, 2022 issue (yeah, I’m really behind).  I read The Pied Piper of Psychedelic Toads, about the consumption of a hallucinogenic substance harvested from South American toads… and the fellow who has popularized the practice.  The whole thing seems really cultish.  If you are into cults (isn’t everyone nowadays) you might find the article amusing.

I also read the September 19, 2022 issue.  I enjoyed The Enduring Allure of Choose Your Own Adventure Books. This one is for aging millennials who have fond memories of these odd little books.  Readers not familiar with them might want to skip this reading.  Another piece from the issue worth checking out is Johnson and Johnson and a new War on Consumer Protection.  This one describes how users of that company’s baby powder have suffered severe health problems, as well as the company’s efforts to avoid taking financial responsibility for its action.

Moving ever forward, I read the September 26, 2022 issue.  A fun article in this one is The Case of the Disputed Lucien Freud, which tells the story of a portrait that may or may not have been painted by the famous artist.  If this tale wasn’t so bloody convoluted, I would turn it into an integrated writing question!  TOEFL experts know that the Official Guide to the TOEFL contains an integrated writing question about a famous artwork of disputed providence

And then I read the October 3, 2022 issue.  Most interesting was Seize the Night, a long article about the famous DJ Soluman.  Since I’m really square, I’ve always wondered what it is that makes DJs so special.  I mean, they just play other people’s music, right?  Well, it seems to be more complicated than that.  Passages about music show up on the TOEFL now and then.  You’ll never get something about this sort of music, but the point of this column is to encourage people to do some challenging reading, so I think it is relevant.

Lastly, I read the March 13, 2023 issue!  Yes, I made it to 2023.  I enjoyed The Fight over Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, which describes a long conflict between the city of New York and the owners of the famous arena.  I didn’t realize until now that the famous Penn Station is located immediately underneath the arena.  That makes it quite difficult for the city to carry out a much-needed expansion of the station.

That’s all for now.  More odds and ends next month.


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