Monday, December 31, 2007
Just started reading the Joe Strummer biography by Chris Salewicz that I found in tatters on the discard shelf of the local public library. Not really in shreds but the binding had been broken and the book is now in several sections and a smattering of loose pages. Somehow this seems apropos for a story about Joe Strummer. Not sure when or if the film will be available around here likely it will be out on DVD or it may show up at the university theatre here in town. Not to end the year on a bummer but its not a bad time to pop in some Clash records or a Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros cd to ring in the new year. In a lovely piece of foreshadowing I found a decent copy of their Global a Go-Go cd a few weeks back for a buck. Happy New Year to all. Peace.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
I had a laptop accident. This sounds completely made up but one of the cats knocked the laptop off of the coffee table and it landed squarely on the wireless network card. So until I get my new card to work (Windows 98 challenges etc.) I am back to using the library or catch as catch can. Anyhow, I found the video clip over at Powell's Books. I ganked this holiday song from the I Am Fuel music blog which was in turn ganked from Coldplay website. Seems like if they made a video for this version of the Pretenders song it would have to include Zach Braff."2000 Miles" - Coldplay
Thursday, December 13, 2007
A Christmas Dirge- Nellie McKay
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Former Iowa Writer's Workshop author Denis Johnson made the list in addition to winning a National Book Award for his tale of Vietnam Tree of Smoke. There is one notable exception to heaps of praise this book has received. A different take from B.R. Meyers in Atlantic monthly was republished here at Powell's Books website. Is this a hatchet job or is the emperor naked? I am suspicious of some of Meyers' claims but I still need to read the book. Or at least skim it.
How about a Christmas song? Here is one from the compilation Stockings by the Fire (Its in a Windows media format as I having some mp3 conversion issues. Thanks to a friend I am now the proud owner of a ten year old Gateway laptop Pentium III running Windows 98 so I have some compatibility issues but I am grateful for the computer as my former desktop is dead.) Anyway let me know if there are any issues. I will try and put up some more holiday songs.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer- Jack Johnson
Good game yesterday but I do feel that we will see Pittsburgh again in January and it will be a tougher game as Pittsburgh's offense was impressive and the Steelers first string safeties will be back. I think 16-0 would be great but I want the Pats to win the Super Bowl first and foremost. This season is uncannily similar to the year Payton Manning blew up the record book but then ended up watching the Pats win the Super Bowl from his couch. Speaking of big games and guaranties; Anthony Smith meet Freddie Mitchell, Freddie Mitchell meet Anthony Smith.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
"Christmas is the one time of year when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ." - Bart Simpson
As soon as the elderly waiter
placed before me the fish I had ordered,
it began to stare up at me
with its one flat, iridescent eye.
I feel sorry for you, it seemed to say,
eating alone in this awful restaurant
bathed in such unkindly light
and surrounded by these dreadful murals of Sicily.
And I feel sorry for you, too —
yanked from the sea and now lying dead
next to some boiled potatoes in Pittsburgh —
I said back to the fish as I raised my fork.
And thus my dinner in an unfamiliar city
with its rivers and lighted bridges
was graced not only with chilled wine
and lemon slices but with compassion and sorrow
even after the waiter removed my plate
with the head of the fish still staring
and the barrel vault of its delicate bones
terribly exposed, save for a shroud of parsley.
By Billy Collins
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The best Thanksgiving episode ever. I would rank the Northern Exposure Thanksgiving next followed by the gang of Cheers get together at Carla's house with the inevitable pie in the face. The local library recently aquired the 4th season of Northern Exposure and I am enjoying the fond memories of watching this in college and the reruns that used to be on A&E in the afternoons.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I received a superb present from my mom yesterday. She sent me a stack of old postcards that my grandparents had mailed to be when I was very young from all over the world. I hope to scan some of these and post them up because they look awesome and while reading them it evoked a series of cascading memories from seeing the old addresses of previous homes and deciphering the briefly scrawled words of my now deceased maternal grandparents. The Door to Bitterness by Limón take places during the Korean holiday of Chusok, sort a combination of Thanksgiving and Memorial Day for ancestors which is also a nice coincidence.
Happy Thanksgiving to all! I am off the grocery store to fight the mobs for some rutabagas,cranberry sauce, and chestnuts. Then I am attempting a pumpkin cheesecake. Wish me luck, I will need it.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Let's pick up the mood a bit. The above is a clip promoting film about First Avenue Club in Minneapolis during its prime as you may be able to tell from the title. I saw Bob Mould there on a solo tour about seven years ago and was lucky to run into him at some hip veggie restaurant before the show. Way cool. Him not me.
Monday, November 12, 2007
My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn't,
dammit: No tears.
I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way--the stone lets me go.
I turn that way--I'm inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap's white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman's blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird's
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet's image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I'm a window.
He's lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman's trying to erase names:
No, she's brushing a boy's hair.
by Yusef Komunyakaa
From Dien Cai Dau
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
The problem with going to Des Moines on a weeknight to see a band is that you are still about an hour away from home at 1:30 in the morning.
The venue was cool although crowd seemed a bit ambivalent. I think an Iowa City show would have had a better turnout but that is also what happens when you get two legitimate headliners on the same bill. There was a third band that opened, Backyard Tire Fire. They are playing at the Picador here in town tomorrow night and they played a decent set. Worth checking them out.
Jason did a great job including a goosebump inducing version of Decoration Day and an awesome cover of Van Morrison's Into the Mystic. Cracker was fun and I recommend their new album, Greenland. It was unfortunate that most of the crowd was probably their just to hear them play Eurotrash Girl and Low but it was still worth the trip and the late return. I did sleep in the next day.
How many days until No Country for Old Men hits town? New Yorker's brief take on it here.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The above video by Gogol Bordello was recommended by my Tucson gang. We are heading out to Des Moines (the Hartford of the Midwest) tonight to see Jason Isbell open up for Cracker. Very excited. (About the show, Des Moines not so much. I think this will be the only the 2nd or 3rd time in the last eight years that I have lived in Iowa. Don't really know the city that well so I shouldn't really knock it. Not that I have met any great champions of the place either, see Bill Bryson etc...) I have not seen the full Cracker lineup in a while and this should be a great combo. I will post some photos from the show if and when I can.
I highly recommend seeing the film Little Children. Hard to describe but it is memorable. I would also suggest avoiding the so called 'art' film, Old
Boy Joy, even though it clocks in at a mere 76 minutes it was more painful to sit through than Hiroshima, Mon Amour.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Recently I have been listening to and enjoying the latest albums from Rilo Kiley, Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakam (all Buck Owens covers), and The New Pornographers. Speaking of Neko Case, the November issue of Poetry has a brief essay by her about poetry entitled, "My Flaming Hamster Wheel of Panic About Publicly Discussing Poetry in This Respected Forum". You can read it here. Here is another poem from The Poetry Anthology. I like this one as I think we have all been at poetry reading that has exceeded our allotted span of attention and the mind starts to wander. Have a good weekend. (I was just informed that Wilco will be on PBS' Austin City Limits this week. Check your local listings. And now the poem....
At the Poetry Reading
I can't keep my eyes off the poet's
wife's legs—they're so much more
beautiful than anything he might
be saying, though I'm no longer
in a position really to judge,
having stopped listening some time ago.
He's from the Iowa Writers Workshop
and can therefore get along fine
without my attention. He started in
reading poems about his childhood—
barns, cornsnakes, gradeschool, flowers,
that sort of stuff—the loss of
innocence he keeps talking about
between poems, which I can relate to,
especially under these circumstances.
Now he's on to science, a poem
about hydrogen, I think, he's trying
to imagine himself turning into hydrogen.
Maybe he'll succeed. I'm imagining
myself sliding up his wife's fluid,
rhythmic, lusciously curved, black-
stockinged legs, imagining them arched
around my shoulders, wrapped around my back.
My God, why doesn't he write poems about her!
He will, no doubt, once she leaves him,
leaves him for another poet, perhaps,
the observant, uninnocent one, who knows
a poem when it sits down in a room with him.
by John Brehm
Source: Poetry (June 1998).
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
A patch of spearmint growing wild in the lawn. Mojitos anyone?
I walked downtown to the library yesterday on a beautiful day (as it is today). I enjoyed strolling past the trees with leaves erupting into the yellows, oranges, and reds of autumn. Alas, I have to give up the easy life of the past month on the dole and return to work tomorrow for a brief project.
I have almost finished the Wolf of the Deep by Stephen Fox. It is about the Confederate raider, Alabama, and its captain, Raphael Semmes. I remember first reading about this story as a kid when I happened upon Scott O' Dell's The 290. I had been working my way through all or as many of the ALA's Newbery Medal winners as I could find. After reading Island of the Blue Dolphins that lead me to his Sing Down the Moon and The 290. I think this was the beginning of my passion for history or at least historical fiction.
I still remember vividly those books which are now being made into films and am leery of watching them for fear it may dispel my memory of them at that time. The devastating (to me at the time) Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson and Susan Cooper's The Grey King come to mind as favorites. I also loved the mystery of Ellen Rankin's The Westing Game and was blown away by the racial tensions depicted in Mildred Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. I have forgotten more of these books than I remember and I wish I had kept up with the young adult fiction. I think I will go look for some of these again.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The headliners played a new song, "Opening Act", from their upcoming album but the opener for the evening was the very talented Ryan Bingham and his band the Dead Horses.
Churlita covered the show well enough that I don't need to add much. She left out the part where she charged the stage and was wrestling the bottle of JD out of Patterson's hand during the final encore.
I first heard of the Drive By Truckers when their album Decoration Day came out. So for me while the show was very good I did miss Jason Isbell and his songs. That said I am still very much looking forward to new DBT album in January, tentatively titled Brighter Than Creation's Dark.
Last week I watched the film version Alan Bennett's play, The History Boys. I highly recommend it. I also caught the NPR story on his novella pictured at right, The Uncommon Reader. Both are very funny. Running out of time here at the library so I must close for now. More tomorrow.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
I long for returning to New England in the fall but I really can't complain about Iowa especially with the weather this year. However, I do miss celebrating Columbus Day weekend, which should always be spent at Baxter State Park in Maine. (I whined about this last year too if you want to read about it. The first part of previous post is here.)
I am enjoying the Ben Franklin biography very much. He was a complicated man but he does inspire one to begin a self improvement program. Well, almost. As the author points out he does seem to be the founding father that we would most likely be comfortable drinking a pint with. The most entertaining probably as well.
I took a break this weekend from the bio and was thumbing through another neglected book on my shelf The Poetry Anthology 1912-2002. It is the best magazine of poetry ever. Nothing could compare and itself is a guide to our literary culture. Granted that includes Joyce Kilmer's Trees as well as Eliot, Pound, and Plath. I ran across several Iowa allusions which I will share this week. The first is an airport poem and since I am heading out to Moline to pick someone up at the airport it seemed appropriate. It is by Philip Booth who dies earlier this year. For more about him see the Academy of American Poets here.
Seeing Auden Off
Ithaca last night, Syracuse at noon, Cedar Rapids tonight.
His face cracked like a dry salt flat, a line for every poem,
he tries two airport Gibsons, reserved (behind dark glasses)
for his flight. Sleet primes the runways, candlelight
preserves the bar. The jets suck air, burning their own feces.
Jakarta, Shannon, Idlewild, are everywhere the same.
He autographs deserted landing strips. In Iowa tonight
he’ll sign five gins, whet his faults, and lust for limestone.
He has his autopilot on; who am I to name the pieces
into which a poet cracks? Fire and sleet and candlelight.
I gulp the beer he pays for, and see through his smeared glasses
the dark impossibility of home: we drink the price of being done
with Ithaca and Syracuse; I wave him off, toward Iowa, tonight.
Philip Booth (1925-2007)
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I have been watching little else but baseball playoffs the past couple of days. Happy for the Red Sox so far but I realize there is a long way to go. Sad for the Cubs as I thought they would do much better against the Diamondbacks although I know Ju Che Child is happy for his home team. As is Red State Librarian whom I imagine is rooting for the Indians against the Yankees since his beloved Reds did not quite make the playoffs. I doubt the Yankees will go quietly in this series and I am hoping the Cubs rally. The Rockies have to be the sentimental favorite and no one wants to face a team this hot. I love baseball in October. Go Sox!
Monday, October 01, 2007
Tonight we are heading to see Ryan Adams on campus thanks to the generosity of friends. Crossing my fingers as to which of his many personalities will show up. I was just told that he had a meltdown at a recent performance. At least he should be sober.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Last Saturday we attended the wedding of a close friend that I used to work with. It was an unseasonably warm day that could not have been more perfect for a wedding. It was good to see some old friends from my days of working at the Co-op.
Ceremonies by the water make me nervous. I am always wary of some ancient guest pulling me aside and telling some war story about dead albatrosses. Thankfully this did not happen. The bride did read a poem that I have always liked by E. E. Cummings. Here it is:
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
Friday, September 21, 2007
I am on P.G. Wodehouse kick at the moment, specifically the Blandings Castle novels. For me reading these are very relaxing, stress relief at its best. Christopher Buckley once said words to the effect that it is impossible to remain unhappy while reading Wodehouse even if you try. He can turn a phrase as very few can. Check out the random quote generator.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Post bingo stroll towards dinner with my eyes apparently shut. We had a very good and comparatively cheap Thai meal at a place called Spice. Drinks were redundant at this point but I had the Mojito Sake Kamikaze and S. soldiered on and armed herself with a Sake Bomb. Our plans to get up early the next morning and catch a museum did not pan out for some reason. Instead we had some great bagels at Murray's and then off to Grand Central and points east.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
...and we found an excellent one despite the intitial sticker shock of $13.95 (I have been away too long!) that included cole slaw and beverage... (I do realize that some purists would eschew the hamburger bun in favor of the split top hot dog bun. But since it is supposed to be about the lobster and this was a hot lobster roll and not a lobster salad roll I had no complaints.)
I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
John Masefield (1878-1967).
(English Poet Laureate, 1930-1967.)
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Mannequin 3: Dexter in the City
I followed the blond back to our hotel.
Snapshot from the cab ride back to Grand Central. We took the subway bags and all to the hotel for 4 bucks and then realized the cab fare was only $6.50 plus tip.
S. took this picture across the street from the station shortly before catching the train and collecting the rental car and heading to Doolittle's house in Mass.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
We made it back yesterday after a whirlwind tour through NYC, Mass. and Conn. I don't recommend the pace but it was fun even if we had to jettison some of our planned stops. It was great to see at least some of the big city and spend time with family and friends. Details to follow... eventually.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
The Road to Help
A thong of beauty is a joy forever.
The panty’s over: it’s time to call it a lay.
The shadow of the come of pleasure
and naked singles of the world
are here, under the bush, with her hair.
For Hamlet and Lear are queer.
Myself am help. Shall I part my bare behind?
God bless the grind! I shall walk softly there.
The paths of Laurie lead but to the grove
Of coral babes and amber studs
with black belts in the marital arts.
Of his boners are coral made.
“Dope” is the thing with feathers.
The love of monkey is the root of all evil.
Was she a virgin or a waking dream?
“Deaf,” was all he answered.
‘Tis better to seek, to find, and now to yield
than never to have lust at all.