Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Happy Boxing Day!

"Helmets must be worn while playing croquet during walnut season. Trust me."

I have been enjoying my time away from the all pervasive Internet but regret not putting up a Christmas message. So here it is. Merry Christmas.

I took the above shot on the way out of some Goosetown friends' house on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. It looked cool but unfortunately we did not have time for a game as we were on our way to a family dinner. I am still recovering from all the food and bottled cheer of the past four or five days.

I finished Bill Buford's Heat last night. (I had read most of it a couple of months but had to return it to libraryt before finishing last 30 pages or so) It is the best non-fiction book I read this past year (admittedly a relatively short list). Coincidentally, a radio interview was rebroadcast this morning (WBUR's On Point) while I was on the way to work. I look forward to reading his next book.

Just started Special Topics in Calamity Physics quoted on the right. It is a very compelling read and I can see why it was on a lot of people Best Of Year lists. Dave Eggers latest seems to be both horribly depressing and worth checking out at the same time.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Picture the Far Side Cartoon with Bob's Assorted Rodent truck crashing into one from Al's Small Flightless Birds.

As well as digging around the net for seasonal songs, Christmas movies have been a theme of late. I bought the remastered edition of Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire as well as a copy of Christmas in Connecticut with Barbara Stanwyck which coincidentally is also featured on TCM this Christmas Eve as one of Robert Osbourne's overlooked holiday films. We also dug out another favorite, White Christmas. Still yet to watch is The Ref and It's A Wonderful Life. What else? The orginal version of The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant and of course TNT will not let us miss A Christmas Story.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"Take Off ,Eh?"

Found this over at Check The Cool Wax while browsing through music blogs looking for Christmas Songs. Also over at Big Rock Candy Mountain a link to The BellRays and the song "Tell The Lie" on their site may not be a holdiday song but it is catchy as hell. Motown sound with some serious backup.

Next Year's Christmas Card

A great place to sit back and sip a pint while listening to Neko Case wail out her version of Tom Waits' Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis.

We were at the Dublin for a birthday gathering last night. Stayed out a bit too late for a school night but was fun. In the words of Westerberg, I can't hardly wait for the New Year's Eve toast on Dublin time even though last year it was up to the rafters in people.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The circled building in the above photo opposite of the Eagle (a Mega Touch Photo Hunt looking shot in the mouth of the Thames River from the New London side) is where I worked almost immediately after graduating from college. It is located on the production side of the Pfizer campus in Groton, CT.

After graduating with a liberal arts degree in History and Political Science I had no immediate plans of going to grad school and I soon discovered that the only openings were with various temp agencies in the area. The job at Pfizer was called Fire Watch. Which basically meant watching other people work and making sure they didn't start any fires while welding or sneaking smokes in the port-a-john during the construction the aforementioned building, a new automated plant designed to replace one next to it and eventually eliminate about a hundred jobs.

It was supposed to be a 3 month position which lasted well over a year, averaging about 50-60 hours a week. I eventually quit or was asked not to return after balking over one too many "mandatory" voluntary OT weekends. One of the best jobs I had there was when I was assigned to drive the freight elevator and I was able to read during down times as surreptitiously as possible. I learned a lot about the world of construction or at least the politics of site management. I also learned not to bet a bundle on NFL games on Sunday to try and catch up for the college games you lost money on Saturday. Throwing good money after bad I think they call it.

We also witnessed several explosions emanating from neighboring buildings (apparently a fairly routine occurrence in Caffeine production there), some pigeons mysteriously dying after flying through what was termed a "harmless" vapor release, and the best was while eating lunch on a beautiful day on the river's edge when an abandoned "empty" pipe line that was being dismantled started spilling hundreds of gallons of unnaturally green liquid out into the river. There were pleasant things to look at too. Lots of sailboats and yachts but the best was watching the submarines on their way to and from the Naval base. Something about them made it compulsory to follow their silent trek no matter how many times we saw them. My dad had been a career submariner so that might have had something do with it but I noticed that many others stared at the undersea boats as much as I.

This past weekend we made a last minute decision to go and see Iris Dement at the Englert and I am very glad we did. I had forgotten how great her voice is and how much I enjoy her sense of humor and the subtle upbeat sadness of some her songs. I need to dig up and listen to In Spite of Ourselves soon if I can find it. I think it was during the final scene of the final episode of Northern Exposure when I first heard Our Town.

When Iris first came she was more than a little nervous and asked for someone to bring her a drink to calm the nerves. It was cute and throughout the show she was charmingly wry and self deprecating but not in the fake fishing for compliments manner. She even broke out some newer songs written for her and Greg's first wedding anniversary and one about his family farm where they spend time when not in Kansas City. Iris will be back in Iowa (Davenport) in Feb. and I am already planning on making a concerted effort to go.

Speaking of Greg, I forgot to mention that last week he was on WBUR's (Boston) On Point show broadcast locally on KUNI. I managed to get a question to Greg about the possibility of his ever playing with Iris. Here is the link to the whole show featuring many songs off his latest. My question came on about fifteen minutes into the show.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Abject Bitterness Meets Intoxicating Beauty"

Bob Mould's first solo album, Workbook, is featured on this week's Shadow Classics on NPR. This record featured his only semi-mainstream single, See a Little Light , and the video was a Sunday night staple on MTV's 120 Minutes. The rest of the album is even better and well worth checking out again for the first time.


The view from the sofa (aka A Study in Clutter)

The Bad Sex in Fiction Awards are out from Literary Review, Iain Hollingshead was this year's winner, for a passage in his first novel Twentysomething:

"She's wearing a short, floaty skirt that's more suited to July than February. She leans forward to peck me on the cheek, which feels weird, as she's never kissed me on the cheek before. We'd kissed properly the first time we met. And that was over three years ago. But the peck on the cheek turns into a quick peck on the lips. She hugs me tight. I can feel her breasts against her chest. I cup my hands round her face and start to kiss her properly, She slides one of her slender legs in between mine. Oh Jack, she was moaning now, her curves pushed up against me, her crotch taut against my bulging trousers, her hands gripping fistfuls of my hair. She reaches for my belt. I groan too, in expectation. And then I'm inside her, and everything is pure white as we're lost in a commotion of grunts and squeaks, flashing unconnected images and explosions of a million little particles."

The rest of the shortlisted plus previous years winners can be found here. The nominees include Thomas Pynchon and Irvine Welsh. I have barely started the first and could not finish the other.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The El 'N' Gee was to New London like the Rat was to Boston. This is the same location but its not really the same place. The original closed down and reopened as a rave/all ages hangout which then changed its name back to the original. Most touring bands playing between New York and Boston had a slew of other more popular venues to play i.e. Toad's in New Haven, the Agora in Hartford, the Living Room in Providence and so on. So only a few 'name' bands actually chose to stop in New London. We did see some great shows though. The Breeders, Social Distortion, Rev. Horton Heat, the Bosstones (2 nights in a row), and a Quiet Riot reunion tour were just some of the highlights.

Anyway saw some flicks recently due to someone's current obsession with James Bond aka Daniel Craig. Layer Cake was pretty good and they have been playing it a LOT on cable. We also saw Sylvia with Craig as poet Ted Hughes, movie was better than I expected. Paltrow was good and also along with her role in Proof seems to be quite adept at playing 'crazy'.

Last night we watched a Starz production Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride, a documentary on Hunter S. Thompson. It was very uneven. Not surprisingly it focused on the films made about him Where the Buffalo Roam (great job by Peter Boyle and it's sad to see him go) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. However it tended to repeat portions of its interviews as if the audience would not remember seeing the same clips earlier in the film. There are some great interviews with Depp, Murray and other actors that were drawn to HST as well as footage and clips of the man himself. Overall its worth watching but it also shows just how difficult making a good documentary really is.

Recent perusing includes Umberto Eco's collection of lectures On Literature, a new Cynthia Ozick collection of essays, The Din in the Head (her previous collections are well worth picking up: Quarrel & Quandry and Metaphor & Memory). I had the new LeCarre novel on reserve, another Africa one, The Mission Song when I also found the most recent WWII spy novel by Alan Furst, the true heir to Eric Ambler. So I will be busy with those for a bit but I am also begining to read all of the Ross Macdonald, Lew Archer series. Good, dark, L.A. noir.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Gram Parsons photos by Andee Nathanson available through Rhino Records

More Christmas wish list stuff. I like the one with goggles.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The view from Iggy

The view from Hopper


Found: in *Title Page — Used and New Books*,
Rosemont, PA, a translation by Vladimir Nabokov
of poems by Pushkin, Tyntchev and Lermentov,
published London, 1947. A snip at twenty bucks.

Given for a 50th, to "my Boris more-than-Godunov"
from Anna, "Because of Pushkin, because of love";
then again, in 1986, to "my dear Joseph
who, tomorrow, will be heading off
to Moscow. From Alex. P.S. see above".

Vona Groarke
Volume 22, Number 1 – 2005

Now that I am back home with a new camera I can promise a never ending supply of cat pictures. Poem is from Poetry Daily archives from one of the poems soon to be retired. Liimted posting on horizon due to lack of access but I will do my best to keep up the appearance of a blog.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tonight at the venue formerly known as Gabe's and The Day of Infamy

Fan video for Killer Parties by The Hold Steady.

On a more important note. I rememeber visting Pearl Harbor and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial when I was around 11. My grandparents were retired and living near Poipu Beach on Kaui. My sister and I spent the summer there with my mom who had attended high school on Oahu during one of the stints of being moved around a lot due to grandfather's government job. She eventually met my dad there while he was in the Navy. During our last week we spent time in Honolulu and the Memorial was a haunting place even to a pain in the ass youth such as myself. I can still picture the oil from the ship of the entombed sailors slowly leaking upwards to the surface. The article below is from The Boston Globe

Final roll call for survivors of Pearl Harbor
By Jaymes Song, Associated Press December 7, 2006

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- This will be their last visit to this watery grave to share stories, exchange smiles, find peace, and salute their fallen friends.This, they say, will be their final farewell.

With their number quickly dwindling, survivors of Pearl Harbor will gather today one last time to honor those killed by the Japanese 65 years ago, and to mark a date that lives in infamy.

"This will be one to remember," said Mal Middlesworth, president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. "It's going to be something that we'll cherish forever."

The survivors have met here every five years for four decades, but they're now in their 80s or 90s and are not counting on a 70th reunion. They have made every effort to report for one final roll call.

"We're like the dodo bird. We're almost extinct," said Middlesworth, now an 83-year-old retiree from Upland, Calif., but then -- on Dec. 7, 1941 -- an 18-year-old Marine on the USS San Francisco.

Almost 500 survivors were expected to make the trip to Hawaii, bringing with them family members and haunting memories.

Memories of a shocking, two-hour aerial raid that destroyed or heavily damaged 21 ships and 320 aircraft, that killed 2,390 people and wounded 1,178, that plunged the United States into World War II, and that set in motion the events leading to atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

" We're witnessing history," said Daniel Martinez, chief historian at the USS Arizona Memorial. "We are seeing the passing of a generation."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Home at Last...

I arrived yesterday afternoon despite American Airlines and O'Hare's best efforts at delaying my return. It seems that the Cedar Rapids flight is always delayed and routinely the first one cancelled. This was just a two and half hour delay changing departure gates twice. Initially I had enough time to make the connection from Phoenix. After nearly reaching the original gate (G15) I realized I left my mp3 played on the plane. I went all the way back to that gate (H14) and they said no one had turned it in. Returning back to the American Eagle section of terminal I checked the big board and flight was still on time and would be boarding in ten mintues.

Almost at the gate, I was paged and then recieved a call from American saying that the person sitting next to me had found my mp3 player and and would give it to me at Gate K12. So I turned around lugging my carryons and quickly walked there. I gave the woman a quick thanks briefly wonderding why she had not just given it to the check in counter where we had arrived and then shuffled back towards my plane now about 10 minutes after I was supposed to board but still 20 minutes away from takeoff. I arrived at gate out of breath and realizing just exactly how out of shape I am as they promptly switched the gate to one upstairs(G18). I trudged upstairs and then noticed they had delayed the flight an hour, something still not reflected on the large board. All my rushing was for naught or at least could have been done leisurely. I gave up and went to find something to eat. Two more delays, another gate change(G20), and an hour or so of flying time later I was in Cedar Rapids. A rapid shuttle ride home and I could unwind. Strangely enough none of these delays were seemingly weather related.

So, it is good to be home except for dealing with my car. I now have to go find a new battery or have someone explain to me why a 72 month battery has lasted 25 months, exactly 1 month after the free replacement offer expired.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Seems to be some issues with blogger and loading images, links, etc. There is a workaround but I am too lazy to figure it out.

I have been incessantly listening to a mix cd from Heather over at http://fuelfriends.blogspot.com

It is eclectic gathering celebrating her one year anniversary that does a couple things I appreciate in good mix tape. First,it starts off with a kickin' song by Blackalicious but more imporantly it also introduces me to several artists that I was with and sent me looking for more of their music. Also coincidentally since I just watched this movie it has Paul Newman's song about plastic Jesus' and Madonnas on the dashboard from Cool Hand Luke. Nice touch that.

The one song I keep rewinding and playing over again is an untitled song ("I Hear Your Songs") from a forthcoming release by Leona Naess. Here is what Heather says about it:
"This new one from Leona's upcoming album is definitely her most singable, radio-friendly, and excellent sounding song in a while. With great couplet lines like "Shake these hips and let them persuade you / Take my songs - they're always about you" . . . the lyrical writing style is classic but the sound is uptempo & fresh."

You can download individual songs or the whole cd as as zip file below. If it is no longer available drop me a comment and I will burn.


I will post some updates and hopefully pictures from the Calexico show at The Rialto tonight. It is the annual holiday benefit show they put on in Tucson. Proceeds are going to Humane Borders (http://www.humaneborders.org) and Music For America (http://www.musicforamerica.org).
Thanks go out to local friends R & M for getting me a ticket to this show. Back in Iowa on Monday barring any complications such as Mexican jail or bad weather.

I almost forgot that I wanted to mention something about the wonderful variations of Pho. I had lunch at this place that used Key limes. The owner of the place was very insistent that I not add any sriracha or hoisin sauce. She kept saying "Our soup is good!" and motioned that if I wanted sauce to use a little dish and dip meat into that to keep the broth pure. She was right it was really good and I love the idea of Key limes. Perfect size.

UPDATE: Looks like its back up and running. Great Calexico show will fill in details later. I need to pack, check out and head to Phoenix.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Recent Readings

A painting by my brother-in-law, Leo, on display at Mystic Arts Center.

From The New Yorker's Shouts and Murmurs section. (Saunders is one of the best short story writers currently writing.)



Dear Ken:

Got your note, deeply honored. Being new to the company, really appreciate opportunity to outline some ideas for “Borat” DVD. As Josh mentioned, we do indeed have a wealth of footage that could be put to good use as DVD extras. In other cases, have taken liberty of suggesting some reshoots:

OPENING “VILLAGE” SECTION: How about a high-speed montage of the actual difficult, brutal lives of the villagers in Romania—the hours of debilitating toil, their oppression at the hands of their corrupt government, premature loss of teeth, death of infants, etc., etc.—culminating in a panning shot of the village on the morning of the day when they first realize they’ve been had, and that, as far as posterity goes, they will always be remembered, if remembered at all, as savages, rapists, prostitutes, etc., and they stumble out of their little sheds or whatever, looking traumatized? (Would be good if one or two could fall into depression/commit suicide as a result = confirmation of their “subhuman” status? Rich social commentary.)

ALT: The scene where the one-armed old man, many months later, weeps in his room at the memory of being tricked into wearing a sex toy on his arm. Priceless!

(Continued here.)

Mark McGwire

Good article by Jim Caple on whether or not Mark McGwire belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I agree with Caple, vote him in. He never tested positive while playing. All the rest is mere speculation and his cringe inducing appearance in front of Congress. I also think Pete Rose should be allowed in and then we can stop hearing about him. Forever.


The latest American Life in Poetry column by Ted Kooser has a touching seasonal poem.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The woods near the lake close to the house where I grew up in Ledyard, Conn.

"Just a quick one before I go." I am still organizing pictures and the work project is ending with more of a bang than a whimper but at least its ending. I did buy the new Pynchon, Against the Day, for the flight home and have read most of the blurbs about it which run from indifferent to enthusiastic with some claiming both at once. As to be expected I suppose.

I am convinced that bringing only this book along will be the best way to get over the hurdle of actually starting this thousand page monstrosity. His last one sat on my shelf for nearly ten years so I hope this approach works. I also think the Pynchon Wiki is a great idea and will be most useful.

We used to spend a lot of times in these woods. The lake (not shown) is where I basically learned to swim despite the leeches. There is a new street of houses that extends near the cemetery and they named it after the Captain above. They even put a path that leads partway to his grave marked by the flag. The woods seem to have shrunk far more than just the land being developed. It must also be in part that in our youth everything seems much larger than it actually is. (Trite but true as the cliche goes.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Back in the U.S.S.R."

Tucson anyways. It was a good trip home to see the family and some friends from high school and some others from college. Went by pretty quickly. On the way home I sat next to a nervous flier who was not to be put off by the headphones and book I was attempting to deter her with. It worked for a while until the double white Russians kicked in. Then all bets were off. I made it safely despite the turbulence both inside and outside of the aircraft the latter of which had initiated the Lebowski specials. I also have some more pictures of family and home to put up once I get my stuff organized.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

More of the Tailgate Party...

Sadly I did not get a Husky face tatoo...

A little chilly compared to Tucson but a beautiful day nonetheless.

A good breakfast is an important start to a long day of drinking.

UConn Tailgate Party

College friend Pat loading up for the early morning tail gate...

The new stadium....Go Huskies!

Husky mascot stopped by during the game

Friday, November 24, 2006

Mystic, CT

New London, CT

Eugene O'Neils former local pub currently owned and operated by member of local rock legends, The Reducers

The Coast Guard ship Eagle near the mouth of the Thames (long A sound)

Church on State Street (also a long A sound)

Even Superman needs a little rest sometimes...

Andrecito was worn out from Thanksgiving and saving the world...

I have never really used a Mac but I could get used to it. Playing around on with Photobooth on my sister and her husband's computer. This is the third time in a row that I brought torrrential rains with me on a visit to CT. Clear and beautiful out this morning. I will be trying to get some decent pictures of old stomping grounds. Friend from high school called me up and I am getting together with him and some others tonight.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Alice's Restaurant

Mom and Niece Daniela

Nephews John and Andrés

I am getting spoiled with rental cars its going to be tough going back to the '90 Corolla. This one has XM radio. Listened to the super long version of Arlo Guthrie's holiday song. It was a live recording on 30th anniversary of the orginal and included anecdote about going to Jimmy Carter's inauguration and Chip Carter informing Arlo that his record was part of Nixon's collection. Funny stuff but you have to let him tell it. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dateline: Dallas

DFW (Letterbox Edition)

Waiting for a flight home in DFW, a fellow traveller (insert own joke here) with an Admiral's Club membership brought me in on a guest pass.... Still tipsy from the wine upgrades... The anticipated overburdening crowds were overestimated as I experienced it. I did not have to wait in a lot of lines but I arrived at airport super early and was rewarded with over an hours worth of Aerosmith songs at an airport BBQ joint and not the good ones.

"One more cup of coffee..."

On my way to Phoenix last night I stopped off near Casa Grande to see a coworker/friend. His family lives in the area. This place is on the old Tucson to Phoenix highway and was supposedly popular with John Wayne and Bing Crosby both of whom lived in the area. It is one of those classic bar bars.

I am leaving my worries of work and laptop behind as I head to the airport this morning and eventually Connecticut. Will try to get some shots of the neighborhood. Safe travels to all of those wending their way home or wherever this weekend. Cue the music...

Monday, November 20, 2006

The so called 'little bastards' were noticeably larger when I took these on my return home the weekend before last and they were obviously overwhelmed to see me. This weekend I watched The Girl in the Café starring Kelly Macdonald (Trainspotting, Gosford Park) and I was very impressed with her performance.

The film was an HBO production about a romance between young woman and a diplomat whom she accompanies to Iceland for G8 summit. The story at times was a touch heavy handed but I enjoyed it. After a little digging on IMDB it seems that Macdonald is going to be playing the female lead, Carla Jean, in the Coen Brothers adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men. Looks like this could be worthwhile. (Knock on wood)

The climactic scene in the HBO film was moving but it also brought to mind an old joke recently circulating as an urban legend regarding U2 singer and future head of the World Bank, Bono. The following was sniped from Snopes.com:

Bono, whilst playing a gig in Glasgow, got the whole crowd to be silent and then began slowly clapping his hands. He got the crowd to clap along for a while, the stadium quiet except for the rhythmic clapping...

After a short period Bono spoke, saying that everytime he clapped his hands a child in Africa died...

Suddenly, from the front row of the venue a voice broke out in thick Scottish brogue, ending the silence as it echoed across the crowd, "Well stop ****ing doing it then!"

Sunday, November 19, 2006

View from hotel of Santa Catalina Mountains

"Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets."

From the back seat of a ride home to serendipitously watch Taxi Driver before falling asleep.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Song for Autumn

In the deep fall
don't you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don't you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don't you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

Mary Oliver

Here are some shots of Southeastern Connecticut from a friend and a poem from the Poetry Daily archives that seemed apropos. I will return to the ancestral demesne this next time week for the holiday. Looking forward to see family, friends and some old haunts.

Friday, November 17, 2006

"Work is the curse of the drinking class."

On the way back to Iowa last weekend I was upgraded to first class for the first time ever and it was just like that Seinfeld episode. Except instead of a supermodel I sat very close to a seeing eye dog. It only lasted for a couple hours from Tucson to Dallas but I did get a Wee Brie which is really fun to say and was very yummy. As were the several glasses of wine and the mini-pizza that accompanied it. I had forgotten what it was like to be served food on planes since they eliminated meal service from coach.

I had been planning on an excursion to the Tucson dump tomorrow with a friend who is working on his house but I have to work instead which is not too bad since it might mean an earlier return home. I just hate the last minute notice. I also learned that it is best not to stop at a Macy's store on the way home from work still wearing a tie. After four people asked me if I worked in Men's Wear I fled.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

'Evil Empire' Move Over...

Daisuke Matsuzaka

Red Sox paid 50 million for the rights to make this young man very rich. Not sure if it is the right move or even the right position to be shelling out for this off season but I am willing to give St. Theo the benefit of the doubt. If it is designed to keep him out of a Yankee uniform and to establish the Red Sox in the Asian market it could pay off but it is still a hell of lot of yen to be risking. Makes me nervous. Lucchino must eat his own words now too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Wherever there's injustice, oppression, and suffering, America will show up six months late and bomb the country next to where it's happening. " -

P.J. O'Rourke

A little drowsy today as I stayed up catching the end of Million Dollar Baby shortly after I had finished watching the climactic court room scene from North Country. Not a viewing schedule I would recommend for the same night although both were very good especially the latter, compelling story told by an incredible cast and an excellent soundtrack heavy on Dylan.

I was catching up on the Writer's Almanac and read that today was P.J. O'Rourke's birthday and I realized I had not read anything by him since letting my Atlantic Monthly subscription lapse several months ago. He is one the funniest writers I have ever encountered. He was a perfect right wing gonzo libertarian counterweight to Hunter S. Thompson at Rolling Stone. Several years ago while visiting a friend in NYC I chanced to find out about a reading at some mega-book store nearby while I was in town and so I managed get a couple of his books signed. Naturally I picked up a copy of Republican Party Reptile for El Duderino.

According to one source O'Rourke is one of the most quoted humorists of all time and a quick search of the web will reveal some of his gems. His latest book about Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is due out in January and I think its the first book that is not just a collection of previously published articles he has put out in a while.

Speaking of books no one reads anymore, today is the anniversary of the publication of Moby Dick. I would like to again recommend Frederick Turner's novel about Melville, The Night Inspector.

This Borat news item makes me a bit more leery of all the hype for this film. Still want to see it though. James Bond takes priority however.

The Last King of Scotland is supposed to be great as long as Forest Whitaker is on the screen. It is likely not to be shown back home until next semester on campus at the Bijou. There is a good book about a coffee heist set in Uganda during Amin's rule by Donald Westlake called Kahawa (Swahili for coffee). Not sure how hard this would be to find but Westlake does capers extremely well and assembles an assorted cast. It has been years since I read this so I hope it holds up to my memory of it. Westlake's son used to live in the Goosetown area and I remember meeting him through mutual friends. I was big fan of all his dad's comic crime novels especially the Dortmunder series and also his darker titles written as Richard Stark.

Monday, November 13, 2006

"Put on some old sad bastard music, see if I care."

Had to stop and see Jerome before I left town again (and K. and J. too of course)

"We move like cagey tigers..."

Half of Iggy's head and half of Hopper.

Difficult to coordinate the flash delay and cats at same time. This was also after stopping by the Dublin, T's place, and cracking open the Maker's Mark while waiting for a pizza. The camera eats batteries which I gather is why they tried to push the lithium batteries on me when I bought it. Will probably try the rechargeable option first but still it is upsetting when Duracells last for only a few shots.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand."

Gehryesque Sculpture/Arch in Terminal D of Dallas Fort Worth Airport

I feel like I just left for Iowa but I am already back in Tucson. Tempus fugit and all that. I have a few dozen new pictures of our cats to sort through. I will post only a few I promise.

I had a perfect book to read on the plane in honor of Veteran's Day, Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Dick Winters. In addition to recounting his version of events covered previously by Stephen Ambrose and the HBO mini-series he also gives his impression and views on what leadership, experiences, and how he managed to continue to exemplify in the role of combat leader under extreme circumstances. I still can't believe he survived leading from the front as he did. He is a model to live by.

I also noted the latest installment in the Det. John Corey series by Nelson DeMille, Wild Fire, was recently released. This highly entertaining series which begins with Plum Island, set not too far from my hometown in Connecticut, the locale being what first attracted me to the book. One of the other books in the series with the same character, Lion's Game was eerily prescient of terrorist attacks on US soil. Early novels revolve around Cold War, Vietnam, IRA etc... After getting hooked on the John Corey character I went back and read all the older ones, eventually. They may not be for everyone but they are a guilty pleasure for me. The first two chapters of his latest are excerpted on his website. And the NY Times has an article here. And they are perfect for airplanes so I may break down and get this one for the Thanksgiving travel nightmare to come. Blogger is giving me grief not sure if its working or not.
So I am going back to my movie. I forgot how good the supporting cast of Cool Hand Luke was or that after the egg eating scene that Luke looks like he is being crucified. What a great movie.

"Calling it your job don't make it alright boss."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Now batting for the Red Sox...Andruw Jones"

In my dreams pehaps, but the USA Today mentioned that the Red Sox could be looking at trying to add Atlanta slugger Andruw Jones to their outfield. Crossing my fingers. Hopefully Manny will stay or we can get more than fifty cents on the dollar if he is traded. Foulke looks like he won't be back. Still need a shortstop and a closer if Papelbon is joining the rotation. Wakefield and Timlin will be back. Please God don't let Timlin pitch in the World Baseball Classic again this year. We need him to make it through the whole season.

Starbucks exploded overnight into full Holiday sales mode. I don't want to hear any Reindeer songs or think Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I did notice that they are selling a new Sarah Mclachlan holiday song album called Wintersong which will likely be pretty good. Also there is a Santa Baby compilation of standard seasonal tunes with usual suspects Frank, Elvis etc.. and some new flairs thrown in Aimee Mann and the aforementioned Sarah. I will definitely be buying that one.

I just head Disney is making a film out one of my favorite teen books, The Bridge to Terabithia. It looks like they are focusing on the imaginary world part the story. I am fairly certain they will screw this up completely. It would be nice to be wrong though.

UPDATE: McSweeney's daily entertainment, I Would Like to Apologize To The Class by Wendy Molyneux is a must read. I almost blew Diet Coke out of my nose trying to suppress laughter in a quiet room with 40 people diligently scoring essays.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Introducing, for the first time here, ...Claire

Juche Child and child

Friday night I went down to see Robyn Hitchcock at the Hotel Congress and it was a intimate show but it was more comfortable sitting at the bar and having a better view of the stage from the reflection in the mirror. Especially since I had not really paid attention to any of his recent music except for various random appearances on80's compilations and a greatest hits cd that I remember buying from an online cd club.

The only song going through my head was his old indie radio hit, If You Were a Priest from when he was backed up by the Egyptians. Come to think of it that greatest hits record is at least ten years old and I am not sure exactly where it is any longer. Anyway, it was a very good show and he did a great cover of a Psychedelic Furs song, The Ghost In You. Since the venue is actually inside a hotel I ran into Mr. Hitchcock in the lobby while I was waiting for a cab. One of those awkward handshake deals while slightly tipsy and studiously trying to avoid fawning but still kind of cool moments. More about him later.

Saturday after work I drove up to the outskirts of Phoenix to rendezvous up with Juche and family. The eldest son had been dropped off at the grandparents and we dined with the perfectly behaved princess Claire. We ate at a place near their neighborhood, The Elephant Bar. A deceptively labeled joint as it was clearly a restaurant not a bar and their was no elephant whatsoever on the menu. I was disappointed about the lack of endangered species but the other option I chose (steak,beef) was very good.

After a wrestling match, we had a bottle of white and Mrs. Juche instituted a new wine veto rule. Juche is no longer allowed to be final arbiter for the vino selection. In the future, his preference will be duly noted and then subsequently ignored.

Waterfront park in Tempe

Sunday was camera shopping day for me. That was a comedy of errors due to the nature of the 'technical' assistance available at the mall stores that sell cameras these days. Afterward we decided to go check out the grand opening of the Phoenix Art Museum only to discover that the opening was still a week away and the Sunday paper article was a preview for the following weekend.

So instead we took a walk around the Tempe area pictured above and then had a nice lunch at Korean place. It seems the trend these days for Korean restaurants is to have a Japanese name and sushi option and the Korean dishes. Sound marketing I suppose. Awesome spicy squid in any case.

Elbows akimbo, the formerly lean not so mean fighting machines of the 1o2nd and 1o7th MI BNs and veterans of the 1989 Yakima Flyaway & Sierra Vista Tiananmen Reaction Force, as well as the 2004 Flagstaff Thunder Run, and the 2006 Bob Dylan San Diego campaigns. Ribbons yet to be designed.

Juche was in the Army almost a year before I was and I followed his path almost identically. We both went to language school in San Francisco, followed by more training in Texas, and Massachusetts before being assigned to Korea and the DMZ and then back to the States for assignment at Ft. Ord, CA.

After his discharge home to AZ , we hooked up down near Sierra Vista in 1989 while I was on temporary duty for a mission which to this day must remain classified. To protect the innocent and also because much of it is rather fuzzy. Although rumours of a video tape of this mission still abound, they have never been verified and the tape has never surfaced so all of this must remain speculation, mere or not. As it should. So after the wonderful lunch, I returned to Tucson and that is where I must take up this narrative again, but later.