Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Saw this in a local scenester newspaper in CT and loved the Lieberman aside. Also made me realize I do miss the old local rag Icon (or was it Ikon? No, that is a copy machine.)

I did get the latest reading schedule in mail from Writer's Workshop and the Fall lineup is loaded. Roughly in chronological order just hitting the highlights it looks like this: Marilynne Robinson, Zadie Smith, T.C. Boyle, Denis Johnson, Michael Chabon, Heidi Julavits, Jane Hamilton, Barry Lopez, Frank McCourt. I am sure some more will be on the Live fromPrairie Lights Fall schedule (Mark Danielewski for one) that aren't covered here although there is some overlap of the above.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My nephew was a little apprehensive about meeting his uncle. He calmed down after a bit but was still somewhat leaky when took this snap shot. The family will send me some clearer pics soon. Also a niece is on the way as my sister is due in two weeks. My other nephew will be back in high school this year. The same one my sister and I attended, um...well lets just say several years ago.

I left CT around 10 in the morning yesterday to drive up to Albany to catch flight but due to delays and storms it was well over 1:30 am CST before I made it home. Really beat but will try and reconstruct a narrative about the week back East.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Shades of Fame Exhibit

Cool Papa Bell

This year's Hall of Fame class was largely comprised of former Negro League players who were finally enshrined. The art on display was impressive.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

One can only imagine how enjoyable it was for me to watch the Red Sox re-enact the Boston Massacre of '78 in a pub in Cooperstown while on an excursion to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Damn Yankees.

Spending the week in Albany for work. More on the visit to Cooperstown to follow later if I can weasel some internet access.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Save the Date

I was already excited about the new Pynchon coming out in December. I am now ecstatic about a chance to read a new Cormac McCarthy, The Road, due out next month (9/26). I am surprised it follows relatively quickly on the heels of No Country for Old Men. Not that I am complaining. Nice start to the fall publishing season.

New Music

Picked this up the other day and it sounds great. The fake names are gone this time around but the solid sound remains.

What is your Golden Smog name?
(Golden Smog's aliases were derived through the following formula: First Name = Middle Name, Last Name = Name of the street they grew up on). For example mine could be either Dexter Country Club or Dexter American Canyon (kind of lame actually). There are more here from an old contest when the previous album came out.

Some of the songs can be heard at their myspace page.

Older stuff still around here .

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Recent Perusings - Edward Sorel's Literary Lives

Found this on the new book shelf of library. Series of anecdotes about writer's lives. Mostly their dirty laundry. In addition to Tolstoy, Sorel also skewers Sartre, Rand, Mailer, Brecht and more. This quote is apt from a book review... The scathing effect of this quick read is best described in an introduction from E.L. Doctorow: 'never have authors of such magnitude been so casually eviscerated.' I also enjoyed Sorel's First Encounters series about famous folks meeting up which like some of these literary lives appeared in The Atlantic. An old exhibit of his portraits are located at the National Portrait Gallery site. Couple of panels from the book are below but I could not find any of the more personally damaging panels. There is a nice one of Jung in a review here but Brecht seems to take the cake for being quite the scoundrel.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Moon Over Parador

Picture if you will a beautifully orange tinted moon, nearly full, hovering over and reflecting upon the gently flowing Cedar River on a cool, breezy, summer night. That is what I attempted to capture. The results, as you can see, are somewhat less than described. I need to get a real camera.

My ex-neighbors invited us down to their cabin near Atalissa and it was relaxing chilling out by a fire near the water. They grilled some steaks, intially there were five, but due to a deft and hungry Great Pyrenees, only three made it to the grill. The dog had wolfed down the first two and was starting on a third when he knocked over the plate and alerted us to the theft in progess. Good times.

Last night we saw David Zollo at the Tuscan Moon in Kalona. The food was a little dissapointing, more for the price and selection but it was good. Not sure of I would be in a hurry to try it again though.

Friday, August 11, 2006

"Can't you see you're not making Christianity better, you're just making rock and roll worse?" - Hank Hill

The quote is apropos of nothing. I just thought it was funny when I heard it on a King of the Hill rerun. Yesterday when I went home for lunch a package was waiting. Nothing like a letter or a surprise package of music to interrupt the steady flow of bills.

In the spring of 2004 I was working in Tucson for about a month and when not working or disrupting Juche Child's quiet family life in Chandler I managed to meet some cool people workin at our site. R (and his wife M.) dropped a whole bunch of live shows on me, introduced me to the music of Calexico, and took me along to see Ramblin' Jack Elliott at the Congress Hotel. (Dillinger was arrested after a fire broke out in hotel or something strange like that.) Thankfully, no photos of that evening exist. The only evidence, a scratched up cell phone that broke my fall. Details are fuzzy but I think mojitos were involved.

We have sporadically attempted to trade more shows but I am lazy and disorganized and it can be a time consuming process especially when one is lazy and disorganized. Anyway, I did finally manage to send some live shows to them several months after I downloaded them.

It was still a pleasant surprise to open the box and find a live Neko Case disc from the All Songs Considered show in D.C. (still available here to listen but not broken into tracks so if anyone is interested I can burn it but see above for how long that may take.) Also included in the care package was The Raconteurs (lovely throw back looking website reminds of me of my old Compaq) Jack White's other band, also someone I had not heard of Marianne Dissard (Tucson based chansonnier a la Edith Piaf accompanied by one of the Calexico boys), and the pièce de résistance (to keep up the tortured French motif), a Grateful Dead set from the U of Iowa Field House circa 1982. R. also tipped me off in advance about the upcoming Calexico show at the Englert and I was able to snag good seats.

I will work on list of shows I have and put it up here in case anyone is interested in some live stuff. Keep an eye out around the new year at the current pace. I am currently scheduled to return to Tucson for an extended stay Oct-Nov, just in time to spoil JuChe's Thanksgiving or least his Halloween. Enjoy the weekend. I am off to take the kittens to their first vet appointment. Oh, Joy!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Girl Interrupted at Her Music
I have been trying to wrap up some books so I can focus on a Really Big Book. I had some recent finds on the library discard shelf. Earlier in the week I picked up George Saunders' Pastoralia (his new collection In Persuasian Nation is available). I can't recommend him enough as a short story writer as good as or even better than Gabe Hudson, Thom Jones, Alice Munro, or Chris Offut he could approach Carver status. He is definitely one of authors I look for when doing a quick triage on The New Yorker's table of contents to see if it's worth saving.
The next day on discard shelf there was a copy of Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen. I had no idea it was an actual memoir. I had been under the impression it was a simply a film in which Hillary Swank Angelina Jolie had earned an Oscar (or a nomination) by garnering the sympathies of the Academy voters for being forced to do a movie with Winona Ryder. It was a difficult book to put down. I fell asleep reading it and then finished it shortly after waking. Years earlier I had schlepped a copy of her novel Asa as I Knew Him around since Army days and I may have even read it. I know I started it. It was one of those Vintage paperbacks from the '80s that showed up in droves on remainder tables like Bright Lights, Big City. Never made the connection to her writing this memoir.
Like the narrator of the book I had been to the Frick, which at the time (1994) I was not familiar with, but I was in NYC visiting and so on a recommendation I went go see the Vermeers. I don't recall the one pictured above that provoked Ms. Kraysen so much. I did end up buying a print of the Officer and Laughing Girl which I liked for the detail of the map in the background as much as I did the subjects. It languished in my closet for several years until a former roommate had it framed for my birthday and now adorns bedroom wall. (I would also have to recommend the movie Girl with Pearl Earring if only for the cinematography. I can't recall a lusher looking film since All the Mornings of the World.) Anyway, I am glad I took a chance on the book.
To maintain the theme of insanity a coworker passed on a copy of Augusten Burroughs' Running with Scissors. A disturbingly hilarious coming of age story that I had heard of but never got around to. Again, I could not put the book down until I finished it late last night. The film version is due out this fall and it looks like a great cast. I hope they can pull it off without it turning into a farce. I will check out his next two recollections Dry and Possible Side Effects but not until I take a break.
After all these books and watching Born into Brothels, I needed to return to something a little less heavy and so I am concentrating on finishing one more library book, Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart. If you liked Everything is Illuminated then this is a book for you. Excerpt of first chapter is here to check out. Then I take a break from library and try to read the Really Big Book that has been on my shelf for over a decade. (Don't want to say the name yet in case I jinx myself.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Hold Steady

I am still not sick of this song...

One can only imagine the other available "rides"...

Army considering proposal for military theme park

(AP) A Florida developer is pitching the Disney-like amusement park to go alongside a $300 million Army museum, which is expected to open near Fort Belvoir in 2013. The Washington Post reports the park would allow people to "command" the latest M-One tank or feel the rush of a paratrooper freefall.

The Army wants to move the museum to a piece of federal land that it says has space for the museum's hotel and entertainment complex. Although they have no authority over the federal project, local officials say roads in the area wouldn't be able to handle the resulting traffic.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I know the tune is horrible but I could not resist...

Apologies to those who already been subjected to this and thanks to Juche Child aka The Pho King for passing on a slightly different version.

FYI: The Pho King family reunion is on the beaches of San Diego this year. Get your temporary adoption paper work in early. Details to follow.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth

My classmates and I shortly before graduation from DLI on the Presidio of San Francisco, May 1987. The Army must have been truly desperate at the time. Anyway I felt bad about leaving on such a downer note with yesterdays obit so I dug out the photo albums and was playing with a copier/scanner. Shortly after this photo was taken most of us went to West Texas for the summer.

Sometime in Summer or Fall of 1987 after a brief field exercise at Goodfellow AFB. (There is a slight chance this scene is from later in the same year at Ft Devens, MA but I don't think so. I wish I had clearly labeled my photos.) We were doing some military language instruction here for a couple months after DLI. It was quite a change of pace after a year of civilian instructors in San Francisco back to drill sergeants in San Angelo, TX.

It seems that brief periods of my life are photographed in detail while there are also complete years that go undocumented. Skip ahead to the Spring of 1993 and the annual Oozeball Tournament at UConn. Around 200 teams signed up to play volleyball in about six inches of mud. As I recall we did pretty well making it to the sweet sixteen or so before being eliminated in sudden death. With so many teams there was a lot of lag time between games where we could do a rough clean up and down some beers. Good times. (The identities of those pictured will be kept secret unless they step forward on their own.) Note the saranwrapped library in the background to prevent students from being hit by falling bricks from the recently completed construction. El Duderino has mentioned this building previously.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Arthur Lee (1945-2006)

I was sorry to read that the oft troubled Arthur Lee, former front man to the band Love, lost his battle with leukemia and died yesterday in Memphis . One of my favorite pop albums of all time is Forever Changes. While never a big commerical success (refusing to tour didn't help) it seems that there has been a resurgance of his songs perhaps due in part to Wes Anderson's film soundtracks especially Bottle Rocket. My favorite cover of the frequently covered song Alone Again Or is the live version by Calexico.

There is a detailed obituary from Rolling Stone and I am sure more will follow soon. I will be purchasing a remastered version to replace my missing copy of Forever Changes from Rhino.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

"Oops,went to the Bahamas there, just for a second"

Actually to beat the heat this weekend I went for a stroll with Chuck Palahniuk by sitting on sofa in the AC and reading Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk Around Portland, Oregon. It is part of Crown Journeys, a series of short books wherein authors wax eloquently about areas close to them. Coincidentally S. had just finished reading his book Haunted and was kind enough to share some of the more disturbing elements... an autoeroticism accident involving a swimming pool drain for example.
The Portland book is compelling with non-touristy suggestions for destinations and insider tips. It also contains brief intercalary Postcards from Palahniuks's life in the area over the past twenty years including being beaten up, participating in a Santa Rampage, and his first acid trip which can be read here. I was dissapointed not have made it to Portland while out in Seattle this spring but am glad to have read this book before my eventual first visit. I look forward to checking out other books in this series including Kinky Friedman about Austin, Roy Blount, Jr. in New Orleans (although that might need an updated version), or Iowa's own workshop mentor, the late Frank Conroy on Nantucket. (Another reading at Prairie Lights I missed.)

It would be interesting to have historical authors in modern cities such as Poe in the Fell's Point area of Baltimore battling tourists for a bar stool, Rimbaud in Paris trying to find a decent domestic absinthe, or Dickens sampling the fusion cuisine of modern London . Who else? Van Gogh in the hash bars of Amersterdam? Actually those were probably already there.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Drive By Snapshot

Taken somewhere in California while driving between Tucson to Newport Beach, May 2004.
Was wrestling with blogger about posting pics and it took a while for this one to go through. So I am using it as a test scenario. I will attempt to get some more commentary type things up about recent reads and films such New World by Terrence Malick which I felt was tediously ponderous and the best comment I read so far was that the film is like Disney's Pochantas but without the songs or the comic relief of the animal characters. Colin Farrell is as wooden in New World as he is in Miami Vice, another recent dissapointment.