Friday, June 30, 2006

Middle Western Exposure

(Photo from Spudart's site
Another exhibit from CCC were artist John Kearney's metal sculptures. My picture of the Cadillac Venus is too blurry and there was a smaller version of the moose above too. It also gave the Michigan Avenue address of the moose. What you can't see is the anatomically correct metal pizzle of the noble beast. As we passed by a father was attempting to herd his three young daughters into a photo op with the moose. The youngest one about 4 years old then proceeded to hang on to the penis and inquire loudly enough for several dozen passerbys to hear "Daddy, What is this?"
I just hope this is the harried father's only witnessing of his youngest holding onto a metal dong with both hands.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Chicago Cultural Center

Nick Cave's Sound Suits

Last Saturday rising at the crack of 10 due to time spent in after hours bars drinking $6 dollar vodkas (Not bad actually considering the $5 beers at show which were a bargain as it appears that all draft beers in Chicago are a half-sawbuck) we checked out of the hostel and got our key deposit back (2 beers).

The plans called for some cheap activities to make up for the excesses of the evening. So we stowed bags in car and hoofed it to the nearest CTA stop and headed downtown to investigate Millennium Park. (A nice pdf map of park here.)
After touring the park, hot and envious of children playing in the Crown Fountain, and watching S. take some photos (still need to finish that roll so they can be posted) we grabbed some, at least in my case, atrociously sweetened tart unidentifiable red fruit lemonade and walked by and then, noticing it was free admission, into the Chicago Cultural Center. I recommend it as the building is grand and cool and the exhibits we saw were worth checking out. Did I mention it was free?

The above photo is a series of shamanistic suits made of mostly found materials by artist Nick Cave (not the murder balladeer who hangs out with the Bad Seeds as I first thought). They reminded me of a favorite book in a series I devoured in my youth. The book was The Mystery of the Dancing Devil and was part of the Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators series. In fact I need to start looking for them again in case I missed some near the end. I liked them better than the ageless Hardy Boys because of the continuity between novels, the California setting with secret hidden headquarters in a junkyard and of course the ultimate meeting with Hitch to wrap up the case and fill out the loose ends.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

As promised the snapshot of our cell room at the hostel.
I have been fortunate in books of late. The English, August novel was excellent. I just finished the historical novel Arthur & George by Julian Barnes coincidentally also with ties to India and the titular Arthur's last name is Conan Doyle. Great read. On the discard shelf I picked up a copy of The Gourmet Gardner by E. Annie Proulx and Kraft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, which makes for hours of entertaining reading particularly the case studies included. Apparently masturbation is the root of all evils.
The publican of the Dublin Undergound loaned me a copy of a book he read on plane ride back from a recent trip to Ireland, McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthy. Born in England to English dad and Irish mom he recounts his childhood trips to visit relatives near Cork with present trek around same area (circa 2000). I am only a few chapters in but I have nearly snorted coffee through my nose on three occasions while reading it. It would have have happened again but I ran out of coffee and I had to go to work. The prologue sets the tone where it begins to enumerate some of the Immutable Rules of Travel, No.8 Never pass a bar that has your name on it. Others include Never eat at a place with laminated menus and Never attempt to score weed off Hasidic Jews in Central Park under the impression that they are Rastafarians. More rules come out his travels across Ireland proceed. I was saddened to learn that the author died of cancer in 2004 at the age of 51.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sport's Guy's You Tube Hall of Fame

ESPN columnist Bill Simmons on the You Tube phenom... and arguably the high water mark of the rock video....

from his article yesterday here...

Monday, June 26, 2006

The downtown view of Chicago from our room at the Arlington House, an international hostel in Lincoln Park area. It was a bargain for 75 bucks a night with private bath but a real no-frills with two single beds no phone or tv. Still it was less than a third of what we paid for a night up the street at Days Inn on last trip here.

We saw Calexico at the Metro. Can't say enough about these guys. Gotta love the horns. It was a very good show made even better by solid opening act performance of Broken Social Scene guitarist, Jason Collett. Only down side was a few too many idiots more into talking than listening. Highlight was during encore with both bands on stage, about 12 people, doing a cover of Dylan's Gotta Serve Somebody.

Friday, June 23, 2006

"What Fresh Hell is This?"

I managed my escape from Lansing. Actually the Nuthouse was not bad for a Sport's Bar. It is located diagonally across from Oldsmobile Park (the blurry thing in the background of sign), home of the Lansing Lugnuts, who sadly were out of town and were probably back in Cedar Rapids playing the Kernels. So we finally made it downtown after being stuck in hotel in meetings etc for a couple of days. Our dump of hotel was made historic on day of departure when thefollowing was related to me by friend. Apparently two women who were admiring my colleague's Mustang as he prepared to drive back to Columbus exclaimed, "This place used to be the Playboy Club that's why it's so nice!"
I could not confirm that it was the same location but have no reason to doubt the claim. I did find out that the Lansing Playboy club was the very last one in the U.S. to close, in 1988. End of era I suppose. Anyways, I was almost stuck there another night thanks to weather and United Airlines. Will have to go into details later. Off to Chicago for some R&R.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Apparently I was mistaken and Manet did not actually witness this Civil War naval engagement off the coast of France. He painted it from newspapers accounts or others sketches, not sure. The Met had an exhibit a couple years ago. A nice little history of the painting is here. It's part of a large modern art and impressionism blog on Princeton website. (link below). Nice resource.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

(I stole the vintage postcard idea from Ragna's recent trip.)

Greetings from Lansing! It seems like Madison but with more GM cars and less Priuses. (Priuii?). So far we have recieved a lot of blank stares from people when asking what are the local attractions. At least its a short stay, some of my coworkers have had to stay here for a month at a stretch.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Happy Bloomsday

Eve Arnold, Marilyn Monroe Reading Ulysses, Long Island, New York, 1954.

New Hampshire poet Donald Hall named new poet laureate
By Beverley Wang, Associated Press Writer
June 14, 2006

WILMOT, N.H. --A fax last week informed Donald Hall he would be the next poet laureate of the United States, and since then, between phone calls, sitting for photographs and giving interviews, he has been thinking about his new job.
"I had one friend, I asked him to give me ideas for what I can do as poet laureate, and he typed out 85," said Hall, a former New Hampshire poet laureate. (Rest of article is here.)

I remember reading him after he published the book of poems dealing with the death of his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon. NPR has good coverage and several of his poems here from All Things Considered. I like the one below. It's good to see a New Englander back in office. (Kearsarge is also the name of the ship which fought and sunk the famous Confederate ship Alabama off the coast of France. Edouard Manet witnessed event and the painting hangs in Philadelphia Musuem of Art. I have always wanted a copy of that print since I was a big fan of Scott O' Dell's The 290 as a teen. FYI. Sorry about the tangent.)

Mount Kearsarge Shines

Mount Kearsarge shines with ice: from hemlock branches
snow slides onto snow; no stream, creek, or river
budges but remains still. Tonight
we carry armloads of logs.

from woodshed to Glenwood and build up the fire
that keeps the coldest night outside our windows.
Sit by the woodstove, Camilla.
while I bring glasses of white.

and we'll talk, passing the time, about weather
without pretending that we can alter it:
Storms stop when they stop, no sooner,
leaving the birches glossy

with ice and bent glittering to rimy ground.
We'll avoid the programmed weatherman grinning
from the box, cheerful with tempest,
and take the day as it comes,

one day at a time, the way everyone says.
These hours are the best because we hold them close
in our uxorious nation.
Soon we'll walk -- when days turn fair

and frost stays off -- over old roads, listening
for peepers as spring comes on, never to miss
the day's offering of pleasure
for the government of two.

POSTSCRIPT: If you DID NOT see The Squid and the Whale yet you might not want to read the rest of this. Minor plot spoiler ahead..... I enjoyed the movie but the one story line about the older kid plagarizing Hey You by Pink Floyd and no one catching on immediately bothered me. The movie was set in Brooklyn 1986...The Wall came out in 1979 and was one of the first records I owned that was not from a yardsale, hand me down, or Columbia House Record Club. It was played incessantly on the radio for years. Everyone knew that album backwards and forwards even in CT. Especially after Alan Parker's film version came out in 1982. It was the midnight movie for years paired up with Rocky Horror. I just found that one a little hard to swallow. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"Irish Coffee All Around"

Coffee reduces cirrhosis risk

Study shows four cups per day cut risk of alcohol damage to liver by 80 percent in women and men.

Carla K. Johnson / Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Coffee may counteract alcohol's poisonous effects on the liver and help prevent cirrhosis, researchers say.

In a study of more than 125,000 people, one cup of coffee per day cut the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by 20 percent. Four cups per day reduced the risk by 80 percent. The coffee effect held true for women and men of various ethnic backgrounds.

It is unclear whether it is the caffeine or other ingredient in coffee that provides the protection, said study co-author Dr. Arthur Klatsky of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif. The study was in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine.

Cirrhosis is an irreversible scarring of the liver that hurts the organ's ability to filter toxins from the blood. Not all heavy drinkers develop it.

Hepatitis C and some inherited diseases can also cause cirrhosis. But the study found coffee did not protect the liver against those causes of scarring.

Cirrhosis from all causes kills more than 27,000 Americans a year and sends nearly 400,000 to the hospital.

About the study

Participants ranged from teetotalers, who made up 12 percent of the total, to heavy drinkers, who made up 8 percent.

Coffee consumption was noted only at the beginning of the study, which the researchers admitted was a limitation. They were followed for an average of 14 years.

Other findings

The study found coffee drinkers had healthier results on blood tests used to measure liver function, whether or not they were heavy alcohol users.

The researchers found no reduced risk of cirrhosis for tea drinkers.

While I prefer mine with just whiskey and black coffeee some of these sound excellent and for those interested I found some decent recipes from Cocktail Times.

In 1952 Jack Koeppler, owner of Buena Vista in San Fransisco brought the Irish Coffee recipe back to the United States and made it famous. Every year, the Foynes Flying Boat Museum holds an Irish Coffee Festival in August. The festival has the world's best Irish Coffee making competition.

The Original Irish Coffee
Joe, Sheridan, Foynes Flying Boat Museum

Cream - Rich as an Irish Brogue

Coffee- Strong as Friendly Hand

Sugar - Sweet as the tongue of a Rouge

Irish Whiskey - smooth as the Wit of the Land

In a warm stemmed whiskey goblet, pour one jigger of Irish whiskey. Add one spoon of brown sugar and fill with strong black coffee within one inch of brim. Stir to dissolve the sugar and top off with whipped cream, slightly aerated by pouring it over the back of a spoon. Do not stir after adding the cream as the true flavor is obtained by drinking the hot coffee and Irish whiskey through the cream.

Classic Irish Coffee
- 2 oz Bushmills Irish Whiskey
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 5 - 6 oz freshly brewed strong black coffee

Stir thoroughly and top off with a layer of heavy whipping cream, poured gently over the back of a spoon.

Hot Kiss Goodnight
- 2 oz Bushmills Irish Whiskey
- 2 teaspoons cream de menthe (green or white)
- 1/2 oz creme de cacao (white or brown)
- 4 oz freshly brewed strong black coffee

Stir thoroughly and then add a thick cap of whipped cream; place Hershey's Kiss on top.

- 2 oz Bushmill Irish Whiskey
- 4 - 5 oz hot chocolate

Stir thoroughly and then add a thick cap of whipped cream; sprinkle with flakes of chocolate.

Hot Mocha
- 1 oz Bushmills Irish Whiskey
- 1/2 oz creme de cacao (white or brown)
- 1 1/2 oz hot espresso

Stir thoroughly and top off with a layer of heavy cream, poured gently over the back of a spoon

Hot Irish Monk
- 2 oz Bushmills Irish Whiskey
- 1 oz Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
- 4 oz hot chocolate

Stir thoroughly and add a thick cap of whipped cream; sprinkle with chopped, toasted hazelnuts.

Flag Day (The holiday not the song by the Housemartins)

(Photo by Tom from his recent Memorial Day Weekend trip to Boston. Almost looks as good as the World Series Champs banner that was draped on the Green Monster last year.)

The true sign of an obsession with a writer or writers, it has been said, is when you start to collect their journalism. Happily, in the case of Anthony Bourdain, it has been done for us. His latest, The Nasty Bits, is from page one not very vegetarian friendly as he describes in great detail the sharing the delicacies of a seal with a family after a recent hunt. Blackberries soaked in blood? I consider myself willing to try almost anything once but none of the seal parts even remotely whetted my appetite. But the world weary traveller makes a point about how these expeirences can not be captured on the page or even by film. But he proceeds to do just that capture the moment in an evocative manner.The book is mish-mash of various pieces written with usual gruff charm and his 'Wait, how did i get here again?' attitude . I love a writer whose favorite bands are MC5 and The Stooges. I was introduced to him at the Dublin Underground by drooling drunk cook friend of mine after Bourdain's book reading upstairs at Prairie Lights. He said I looked like a cook. (It was before I cut all my hair off). I took it as a compliment. I wish I had the Food Network as I have not caught any of his most recent series.

I also might have to get cable for the summer since the third season of Entourage is coming soon. Just started watching season 2 and I recommend it. It is a breezy comedy that has no laugh track and never devolves into soap opera plots that often befall the usual sit com characters . The core cast is solid, Jeremy Piven is note perfect as the agent, and guest stars abound, Val Kilmer as a Lebowskiesque dope dealer, Gary Busey as, well, Gary Busey, who is clearly no longer even attempting to play another role except himself.

Reading an amusing novel English, August: An Indian Story by Upamanyu Chatterjee. Blurbs compare it to Confederacy of Dunces and Catcher in the Rye. And the truth is probably somewhere in between. The publisher's (New York Review Books) website has a pdf file of the intro and first chapter and it can be found here.... Funny is also a collection of poems from Jennifer Michael Hecht, weaving old jokes and philosophy together and producing poems that bear reading. ICPL has both of these books (although currently checked out).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

"She's gone to get some records by the Status Quo"

Wrestling with blogger again today... CVB doing cover of Pictures of Matchstick Men one of my favorites but I have a 'thing' for covers. Actually, I have another version by Angry Samoans which is more enteraining because they are so obnoxius and drunk they play it twice.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.

Miniver loved the days of old
When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
Would send him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,
And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
And Priam's neighbors.

Miniver mourned the ripe renown
That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
And Art, a vagrant.

Miniver loved the Medici,
Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
Could he have been one.

Miniver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing:
He missed the medieval grace
Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.

-- Edwin Arlington Robinson
I finally got around to watching Grizzly Man, thanks to the library's new express dvd checkout for current releases. I understand this film was a real tragedy but solely for the reason the girlfriend died. Clearly Treadwell had some problems and harbored a death wish. Still... what the Sport's Guy calls the Unintentional Comedy Factor is through the roof. It is impossible not to laugh out loud somtimes during this film. If I didn't know it was real I would swear it was a mockumentary, a cross between The Life Aquatic and Best in Show, starring Owen Wilson. Werner Herzog's narration does not help deter this feeling "... Die landskape ist a metaphor for a schoul in turmoil..." It's a must see. I will have to watch this again sometime.
Also saw the Miranda July (Junebug) , Me and You and Everyone We Know... uber-quirky and strange and which approaches some uncomfortable areas, but as someone pointed out it never ventures over into Happiness territory.
The poem above is another from the 100 Modern Poems book that I have been perusing. Not familiar with author but apparently he also toiled in obscurity (Does anyone ever toil in renown?) in a customs house like Melville before being 'discovered' by Teddy Roosevelt. Not sure how many other poets can trace their success to Presidential favor. Even Frost was familiar before being tapped as top bard by JFK.
I also have to second El Duderino's recommendation for Freakonomics, definitely fodder for discussion and a quick intruiging read.

Friday, June 09, 2006

My friend Tom sends me random pictures all the time. Usually with little or no explanation of where he was at the time of photo. This one I must be from his last trip to Boston. (There was another picture of the door from The Bull & Finch of Cheers fame and a shot from the bleachers of Fenway.) Not sure exactly where in Boston this sculpture is but it is one of his better snapshots.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

War Stories

Vietnam, 1966
by Neil Sheehan

Antarctica, 1958
by Robert Stone

New York, 1967
by Roger Angell

Sierra Leone, 1997
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Ivory Coast, 2000
by Tony D’Souza

Yugoslavia, 1991
by Aleksandar Hemon

Iraq, 2004
by Wendell Steavenson

Too late for Memorial Day but just in time for the D-Day anniversary the current issue of New Yorker has the war zone vignettes above that are worth checking out. Also available online is something called Dear Home Front, an audio slideshow edited by Andrew Carroll (of the Poetry & Literacy fame). The slideshow is about 30 minutes and needs a Flash player installed.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

American Life in Poetry: Column 062


Gardeners who've fought Creeping Charlie and other unwanted plants may sympathize with James McKean from Iowa as he takes on Bindweed, a cousin to the two varieties of morning glory that appear in the poem. It's an endless struggle, and in the end, of course, the bindweed wins.


There is little I can do
besides stoop to pluck them
one by one from the ground,
their roots all weak links,
this hoard of Lazaruses popping up
at night, not the Heavenly Blue
so like silk handkerchiefs,
nor the Giant White so timid
in the face of the moon,
but poor relations who visit
then stay. They sleep in my garden.
Each morning I evict them.
Each night more arrive, their leaves
small, green shrouds,
reminding me the mother root
waits deep underground
and I dig but will never find her
and her children will inherit
all that I've cleared
when she holds me tighter
and tighter in her arms.

Reprinted from "Headlong," University of Utah Press, 1987, by permission of the author, and first published in "Poetry Northwest," Vol. 23, No. 3, 1982. Copyright © 1982 by James McKean, whose most recent book is "Home Stand," a memoir published in 2005 by Michigan State University Press. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

I don't have as ready access to internet so posts will be intermittent, brief, or as you can see, largely lifted from other sources. If you do not subscribe to the email version or read it regularly online or in a local paper you are missing a treat. I still need to read some more of Kooser's own work, which has been on my 'list' since his appearance in town several months back. The 'list', like the English Constitution, is unwritten and exists only on various scraps of paper, small notebooks and in my head.

I get to visit a new town in a couple weeks. Work is sending me on a brief trip to Lansing, MI. If anyone has any sightseeing or dining suggestions please let me know.

P.S. Is anyone else annoyed with the piece of crap spell-checker that comes with Blogger? I mean if Google can take over the world you think they would be able to use the same engines to spell check competently.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Summer Reading?

Meet Cliff Janeway, Former Denver homicide detective forced into retirement for taking the law into his own hands in a domestic abuse case. Now he runs a book store dealing with rare 1st editions which natually always leads to murder. Well, not really. But it seems like it. Good stuff though.

I was returning a video to library yesterday and saw that the lastest book in this series was out. The Bookwoman's Last Fling is the fifth in this mystery series by John Dunning. I love mysteries, novels of intrigue/spy and when combined with the book collecting world it seemed too good to avoid. This particular one adds horseracing to the mix of murder and books.
I am kind of obsessive about reading series characters in order so I would recommend starting with Booked to Die but they can be read in any order as they do stand alone with the exception of missing a few things about characters that develop over the course or ones that come along later. Dunning was a reporter and used to run a book store in Denver until he closed it down after success of the first Cliff Janeway book. He still maintains an online version of the store, Old Algonquin Books.

If you liked the Davinci code genre but prefer something a little less page turny and tad more literary, the Washington Post book world critic suggested the following , "If you like these sorts of books, I suggest instead Lawrence Norfolk's Lempriere's Dictionary, A.S. Byatt's Possession, Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum, and Iain Pears' An Instance of the Fingerpost."

I would choose Instance of the Fingerpost and Lempriere's Dictionary as I think they have been overlooked. If possible find UK version of the Norfolk book as the American one has been expurgated to the point of confusion in some spots. I have a copy of the Byatt book but have never read it as I wanted to read Middlemarch first since they are related. Obsessive again I know.

Catching up on a couple months worth of music blogs is nigh impossible but I did find a reference to an older Onion piece on I am Fuel music blog (its in my list somewhere). Apologies if you saw this already...

Inventory: Seven Songs With Factual Or Logical Mistakes In The Lyrics

1. U2, "Pride (In The Name Of Love)"

It's probably difficult to work the assassination of a civil-rights leader into a song––but if anyone can do it, Bono can! Unfortunately, he fudges the facts a bit in the last chorus of this song, when he sings about the killing of Martin Luther King Jr., "Early morning, April 4 / Shot rings out in the Memphis sky." King was actually shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel at 6:01 p.m., which makes Bono off by about 10 hours. But he did get the date and the city right. Oh, and the pride part. Which isn't bad for a Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

The rest are here...