Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A little Husker Du in the morning usually gets me going too.

Sinus pressure from hell today. I tweaked up blog a bit and restored some links that were lost in the template migration plus some new ones. I need to work on figuring out tags. '...time enough and the world.'

Some quick hits for today...

The New Yorker has a David Foster Wallace story up this week.

The Sports Guy is in Miami for the Super Bowl and offers not only some travel advice...

"(Which reminds me, the people I know with Miami experience recommended the following tips for Super Bowl week: Keep your wallet in your front pocket at all times; don't tell anyone your room number; don't get on I-95 unless someone is holding a revolver to your head; hold your drink at all times; don't wear an expensive watch or expensive jewelry; double-lock your room door at night; look both ways as you're exiting an ATM; and if you hear what sounds like a car backfiring in a nightclub, lower your head and start running. Good times! Nothing gets the creative juices going like the ongoing threat of physical danger. I'm not even kidding.)"

... but also some of the themes for the week.

"5. The Maxim party and the Playboy party going head-to-head this weekend. Kind of like Grey's Anatomy and CSI battling it out Thursday nights, only with more cleavage and more dead hookers. "

The rest is here. Enjoy!

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Art of Losing

This is a painting by my brother-in-law's father. It was inspired by a picture of my sister and her husband with my nephew on the pier in New London. I took a shot of the painting when I was back in CT over Thanksgiving.

I am back from Ohio. The work there went well but it was too brief a trip to do much else except catch a cold, forget my phone charger in the hotel room, and leave a copy of The Peloponnesian War in the glove box of a rental car. (That reminds me we watched Troy this weekend and while not great it was infinitely better than Oliver Stone's swords and sandals piece of dung Alexander which we attempted last week and ended up fast forwarding the last 90 minutes with the subtitles turned on. Anyway, I was reading about Sparta and Athens in preparation for The 300 until losing the book but I digress.)

I excel at losing things on trips. I left a pair of dress shoes in Baltimore after a long weekend at Camden Yards to see the Red Sox. I misplaced a phone charger in Mesa after the most recent presidential election but at least they mailed that one back to me...for a slight fee. There also was a baseball cap in Columbus last spring along with another phone charger. Carelessness, I realize it as such but Elizabeth Bishop puts it in perspective.

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"...Also, Dude, chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please. "

"To criticize it would be like tripping a dwarf."

-Wilfrid Sheed on Otto Preminger's "Hurry Sundown,"

My new favorite quotation and applicable to so many things. I ran across this yesterday catching up on book chats by Washington Post's Michael Dirda my current favorite critic and who I turn to first when looking for something to read. One comes out of a chat session with a multitude of suggestions. Links are below but you may have to register for free to read them in their entirety.

Dirda on Books Archive here.

Dirda Reviews Archive here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

American Poets Project

I love this multicolored collection of slim volumes of poems from The Library of America. I also have a few of their normal volumes like Tom Paine's Collected Works or The Novels of Raymond Chandler but the print is small and paper too thin for me to enjoy reading and the uniform black covers don't have much shelf appeal.

This series of American poets has a contemporary poet servings as editor for a particular volume such as J.D. McClatchy for selections of Edna St. Vincent Millay or Robert Pinsky on William Carlos Williams, and Whitman deserves no less than Harold Bloom. I am still hoping for them to come out with selections from Hart Crane, Elizabeth Bishop, and Wallace Stevens. They serve as great introductions to poets and are nice pocket editions to carry around.

The only one that strikes me as a filling a much needed space is the volume of selected lyrics by Cole Porter. He has written some great songs certainly but the words on the page read cold when divested of their music and it doesn't quite work for me. I would preferred a companion cd at least if they insist on publishing lyrics. I get one of these every couple of months directly in the mail and every fifth one or so is half off. I think the next one due out is Kenneth Koch so I will leave him with the last word. I am off to Ohio tomorrow and will return sometime on Friday.

from One Train May Hide Another
(sign at a railroad crossing in Kenya)

In a poem, one line may hide another line,
As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.
That is, if you are waiting to cross
The tracks, wait to do it for one moment at
Least after the first train is gone. And so when you read
Wait until you have read the next line—
Then it is safe to go on reading.

Kenneth Koch

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"I need a camera, to my eye..."

Another random photo emailed to me from my friend Tom in Conn. This is probably from last years trip to Buffalo to see the Patriots. I went on the inaugural trip up 1998 but none of the subsequent games in what has become an annual event. (The Bills won on a Doug Flutie comeback drive but we bought some Flutie Flakes anyway.)

The first time we had just missed a huge snow storm it was piled up everywhere. Naturally we made a pilgrimage to the Anchor Bar, home of the original Buffalo chicken wings (or so they claim). I could not talk the boys into trying to find Righteous Babe Records though.
I picked up Anthony Swofford's (Jarhead) new novel, Exit A, from the library. It's about a military brat in Japan so it looks like it could be my bowl of miso. He will be reading Wednesday night at Prairie Lights. Of course I will be in Ohio. That's two in row of his readings I will have missed. I hope I will be in town for Jane Smiley in Feb.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Extreme Close Ups



It's been at least a month since I put up some pictures of the boys. They were not really that impressed with their first snow experience although they did eat it.

Same window two weeks later...

The snows have finally arrived. I am not complaining as we have gotten away with a very mild winter so far. Not to say it was all that pleasant pumping gas this morning and needing a crow bar to open up the gas tank door. The lack of posting is due to work as I am going to Columbus, OH next week. It also has something to do with the law that objects at rest tend to stay at rest.
Recommended Reading: Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann. Already a bestselling historical novel in Germany this book came out here in November. The lives of scientist Alexander von Humboldt and math genius Carl Friedrich Gauss and their eventual meeting in 1828 are explored in bittersweet detail. Funny and illuminating.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Skinhead Hamlet

Shakespeare's play translated into modern English.
by Richard Curtis

The battlements of Elsinore Castle.
(Enter HAMLET, followed by GHOST.)

GHOST: Oi! Mush!
GHOST: I was fucked!
(Exit GHOST.)
(Exit HAMLET.)

The Throneroom.

CLAUDIUS: Oi! You, Hamlet, give over!
HAMLET: Fuck off, won't you?
HAMLET: (Alone) They could have fucking waited.
(Enter HORATIO.)
HORATIO: Oi! Watcha cock!
HAMLET: Weeeeey!

Ophelia's Bedroom.

LAERTES: I'm fucking off now. Watch Hamlet doesn't slip
you one while I'm gone.
OPHELIA: I'll be fucked if he does.

The Battlements.

GHOST: Oi! Mush, get on with it!
HAMLET: Who did it then?
GHOST: That wanker Claudius. He poured fucking poison in
my fucking ear!
HAMLET: Fuck me!

The rest of the play can be found at the link below. Someone recommended it but I can't recall who or where I ran across it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hickory Hill Park

The only direction one can face in the meadow without seeing the signs of encroaching development.

Trail map of park near Bloomington St. entrance

New cage in Hickory Hill Park

I suppose the cage thing keeps the downed tree remnants from clogging up the stream but it does look strange in the middle of a park. If there wasn't a few feet of cold water at the bottom of it I would have tried to take some shots while posing inside. We took a long walk around most of the park the weekend before last. The Trail Map is not really that helpful but it sure is sturdy.

Friday, January 05, 2007

"I'm thinkin' about my doorbell, when you gonna ring it..."

Annie Leibovitz The White Stripes, New York City, 2003

Watched PBS' American Masters bio of Annie Leibovitz the other night. It was a happy accident of channel surfing and a nice coincidence since S. had received Leibovitz's latest collection, Life in Pictures as a gift. I generally like her black and white portraits and her less dramatic work with some exceptions like the one above. There are some good places on the web to check out her American Music series. The Andrew Smith Gallery is one but the Detroit Institute of Arts has an interactive feature that is cool if you can hear the sounds.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


US Poet Laureate Billy Collins reads his poem “Forgetfulness” with animation by Julian Grey of Headgear.

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

I thought this was appropriate for entering my 40th year and why I feel the need to start writing more things down. Perhaps it is also why after some time off from work I had to have my network password reset. Twice. Today I forgot the new one that I had made up yesterday to replace the old one.

There is another video of Collins' poem The Dead.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

"...No thanks to the grindstone..."

View from a window (not mine) at work.

Happy New Year. No more holidays in sight and work is starting to crank up in preparation for the busy season. The time off was pleasant and I did little else but lounge about and enjoy a variety of gifts.

Music wise, Tom Wait's Orphans was one of the coolest albums I received, a 3 CD set that I am still just getting into and S. also picked up a very funky album from Brazilian Girls that I get more addicted to every time I listen it. I also got Little Miss Sunshine and thoroughly enjoyed the dysfunctional family road trip. We watched Friends With Money last night and what appeared to be a run of the mill midlife crisis chick flick turned out to be pretty good. In the words of one of the characters it was "...minimalist with a splash of color...maybe an orange lamp?"

Some friends in Tucson sent along an amazing DVD of Calexico live in London from 2002 as part of the Further Beyond Nashville festival. I have not even gotten into the extra features on this yet. A must own. Calexico will be touring with Iron & Wine this month in Japan so if anyone has an extra ticket count me in.

Resolutions. I have a few. I want to quit x, y, and z. I would like to start a, b, and c. More of this. Less of that. I do want to resurrect the book blog I started and abandoned last year to keep track of books that I was reading. This time I also want to keep track of those purchased, the amount spent, and books that I tabled for later or simply abandoned. As well as make notes of books that were recommended or ones that I want to remember for the future trips to book stores as a wish list. I will post a link to that once I get it together.

The first book I finished in 2007 was a recommendation from Red State Librarian. The Corpse in the Koryo by James Church, the nom de plume of a career intelligence officer who spent over thirty years in Asia. This is the debut novel in what I feel will be an intriguing series about a police detective in North Korea. The murder mystery is almost ancillary to mood evoked and settings of a place we know next to nothing about and yet Church's tale still rings true. I would love to be able to visit North Korea and this is an excellent alternative.