Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

by Wallace Stevens
From Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens by Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens.

One of my favortie Stevens poems of which NPR had a commentary yesterday on All Things Considered. Apologies for those who heard it already.

Also from Bookslut's blog, the passages from the nominees for the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award. These types of awards always seem to include a few shots at sacred cows but these are truly some tortuous prose examples. This years list includes John Updike, Paul Theroux, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie and others. I have read the Theroux (a favorite author) and this novel (Blinding Light) did not really do much for me for several reasons, one of which was that there were too many more passages that they could have chosen their selection from. The choice of Garica Marquez (Memories of My Melancholy Whores) is sad because I think the Maestro should have been left alone. The novel was dissapointing but not horrible and at times poignant. The story is an abridged Lolita narrated by a journalist on his 90th birthday looking back on a life of writing and deciding that his world shoud end with fire instead of ice. Book is too short to give away any more of the plot.

Anyway my vote goes to Ben Elton's scene from The First Casaulty.

"Ooh-la-la!" she breathed as he smelt the clean aroma of her short bobbed hair and the rain-sodden grass around it. "Oooh-la-jolly well-la!"
And so they made love together in the pouring rain, with Nurse Murray emitting a stream of girlish exclamations which seemed to indicate that she was enjoying herself. "Gosh", "Golly" and, as things moved towards a conclusion, even "Tally ho!"

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Somewhere in Greenwich Village

I was annoyed that the post about Van Ronk showed up before Monday's post. I am over it now. But I did want to call attention to it.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Top 50 Reasons to justify leaving New England for the Midwest

To be sporadically posted and in no particular order.

# 15. KUNI's Night Music show with Bob Dorr on Sunday evenings with the 30 minute Beatles set.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Mayor and the Coach

"In Greenwich Village, Van Ronk was king of the street, he reigned supreme."-- Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol.1

Two recent non-fiction reads from the library: The Mayor of MacDougal Street by musician Dave Van Ronk (with Elijah Wald) is a fascinating story of the life of a musican and the Greenwich Village music scene before and after Dylan. Van Ronk is a born raconteur and amusing playful narrator even a bit goofy at times but always compelling. His discussion of what folk music was and is at the time was very illuminating. For Dylan fans this book makes a very nice companion to Chronicles, Vol I.
Fills in some of the gaps and is a little more personal then the Dylan book which to me seemed a bit distant or removed.

I was fortunate enough to see Dave play at a small venue in Providence, R.I several years before he died. In the early fall of 1997 while living in New London, CT a friend (Ken H.) mentioned that a local blues musician we enjoyed going to hear, Dan Stevens , was taking guitar lessons from the legendary Dave Van Ronk. After noticing the blank expression on my face, Ken gave me a bit of background on Dave and the Greenwich Village scene. Later he found out that Van Ronk was playing a Stone Soup performance and I tagged along. There is a lot of music and interview samples here from the coauthors website. The book cover link will go to the book site.

The second book will be of interest to a select group only I imagine. The Education of a Coach by David Halberstam. Examines the success of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and attributes it to the mentoring of Bill's father, the recently deceased Steve Belichick. I would have liked a more detailed book but I did enjoy it. University of Iowa football coach, Kirk Ferentz, is one of Belichicks disciples.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

To all my family and friends and to all of those who are separated from theirs.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Rediscovered this book on my shelves. A collection of platitudes which would as Flaubert described it be 'the historical glorification of everything generally approved.' It would he said, for instance, show that 'in literature, mediocrity, being within the reach of everyone, is alone legitimate and that consequently every kind of originality must be denounced as dangerous, ridiculous etc.' Funny guy but I tend run into this kind of thing all the time. For example when pretentiously smug dolts from grad school are spouting off at a nearby table while you are trying to eat your Korean spicy pork and refraining from using your chopsticks as weapons becomes almost impossible.. But I digress. This book also reminded me of Flaubert's Parrot, a wonderful book by Julian Barnes which if I recall was recommended to me back in college by El Duderino. (Go Huskies!) A French Flaubert site from Universite de Rouen here.

The Flaubert quotes are from an article by A.S. Byatt on Madame Bovary. (Part 1; Part 2)

Excerpts from the book:

ABSINTHE Extra violent poison: one glass and you're a dead man. Newspapermen drink it while writing their copy. Has killed more soldiers than the Bedouins.

ACHILLES Add 'fleet-footed': people will think you've read Homer.

BLONDES Hotter than brunettes. (See BRUNETTES.)

BRUNETTES Hotter than blondes. (See BLONDES.)

FIRING SQUAD Nobler than the guillotine. Delight of the man who is granted the favour of facing one.

IDEALISM The best of the philosophic systems.

IDEALS Perfectly useless.

IDIOTS Those who think differently from you.

PARIS The great whore. Heaven for women, hell for horses.

RABBIT PIE Always made of cat.

SPELLING Like mathematics. Not necessary if you have style.

WEALTH Substitute for everything, even reputation.

WOODS Induce reverie. Well suited for the composition of verse. In the autumn, when walking through them, say: 'There is a pleasure in the pathless woods.'

from Flaubert's Dictionary of Accepted Ideas

Monday, November 21, 2005

Youth Hockey Coach Jules Winnfield

Direct Link from Google videos. Check out the Daily Video link in my Journals section.

James Gandolfini in a musical?

El Duderino mentioned that the Coen brothers were signed on to direct Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men. While looking into this I also noticed that they were executive producers for a movie called Romance & Cigarettes directed by John Tuturro with a talent laden cast (a few exceptions not withstanding.)

Apparently there is some delay in release due to studios merging or some such nonsense. Expect to see it next year. (And yes I realize this was just a thinly veiled excuse to publish the poster.)

Italo Calvino

"Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade."
Italo Calvino- If On a Lonely Winter's Night a Traveler

Pop culture guru and novelist Jonathan Lethem's (Motherless Brooklyn) essay in last Sunday's NY Times Book Review is a good introduction to the works of Italo Calvino . I have only read one Calvino title, Invisible Cities, which had been recommended to me after reading Marco Polo's Travels for a Medieval Travel Literature class. Calvino's book mesmerized me and introduced me to the possibilities of the novel.

"Of all tasks, describing the contents of a book is the most difficult and in the case of a marvelous invention like Invisible Cities, perfectly irrelevant."
-- Gore Vidal, The New York Review of Books

Sunday, November 20, 2005

"All the really good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow. So I went back to Iowa."- Grant Wood

It is very hard for me to stop monkeying around with old posts I found a comprhensive site on Grant Wood here with examples of all of his work and also where I lifted the quotation from. It would be interesting to find out if Ragna's comment was true. It might get her stripped of Iowa citizenship though and me sent back to New England in a hurry. I also put the Stone City image mentioned in the previous post.

Grant Wood was also an inspiration for the Stone City Brewery formerly located in Solon, IA but Stone City sounded better I guess. It's now closed but they did brew a mean Pale Ale, the Stein Bock with a heated railroad spike dipped into it was very tasty and the Artist Colony was supposedly named after his old art colony in Stone City.

Grant Wood

Went up to Cedar Rapids, IA yesterday to see the Grant Wood exhibit. Apart from the obligatory American Gothic there was a range of works gathered from museums around the country. My favorite apart from the paintings of Stone City and Weem's Fable of George Washington was a stained glass window from the Iowa Veterans Memorial.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Top 10

I like lists and I love books. So reading lists about books are almost as much fun as browsing through a book store. The Guardian Unlimited's book site has the weekly Guardian Review which contains a variety of Top 10 lists by selected authors on a mulititude of subjects. It is also one of my favorite sites for reading book reviews behind the Washington Post and NY Times both which you have to register for but are free.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My First Literary Crush

"When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon." - James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss

Slate has decent article on certain celebrities most loved book from college. I was pleased to note some of my favorite writers/mentors including Bill Simmons (ESPN's Sports' Guy) and Harold Bloom (Yale's Shakespeare Guy). The most surprising choice was Paris Hilton selecting The Bell Jar. Just kidding. My own choice would be the above quoted Crumley. I will explain why at a later time. Please post your choice as a comment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Playing with dates

Playing with dates to be smooth.

Under Construction

In process of migrating over from my old 'sandbox' site. Please be patient. If you lack for something to read, (and if you are here that much is apparent), Haruki Murakami should suffice (from The New Yorker).

Monday, November 14, 2005


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