Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Boxing Day

New Year

Skiing in July,
fishing in February,

the days disjoint
and groove,

a meltdown of months,
a mind out of whack.

I'm still back at August
where the Beaujolais

that came
from 35 villages

fit sideways
inside my head,

the dorsal fin of it,
the brain slowed

por fin to belief.
Between then and now

the numbers,
an 8-Ball routine

jacked on polyethylene,
trees unmercifully diminished,

choked by maneuverings
and light.

I'll release last year
in May

when I shovel
the driveway

and go geologic,
a Paleolithic hell—

if each season
were twice as long

the year
would wear me well.

Teresa Leo

The Halo Rule
Elixir Press

I spent most of last night with Humphrey Bogart on his birthday as TCM was showing my favorite movies of his (Casablanca, The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen). The clip above played in between movies and was very moving like the clip they do on the Oscars.

Christmas Day was pleasantly spent on couch watching television and finishing Amitav Gosh's amazing Sea of Poppies. The only downer is that the book ended on a cliff hanger and I must wait for the next book to come out.

I talked to some of my family back in Connecticut and was relieved to hear that presents had arrived in time. I picked out some of the pretty Ugly Dolls, Ox and Puglee, for my niece and youngest nephew.

The poem is due to be retired from the Poetry Daily archive and it is likely that this will be my last post of 2008 so its kind of a mixed bag. Peace.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"James Bond is what every man would like to be and what every woman would like to have between her sheets." - Raymond Chandler

Hyperbole aside, Chandler is mostly right. I saw this on the new book shelf at the library and decided its been too long since I have read any Fleming. This will go well towards warming your cockles by the fire.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Alphabet Juice

This could easily be my favorite book of the year. It is definitely at the top of my gift list for those who love words, usage, and etymology. Plus its hilarious. There is an except here.

I know I talked about Iowa City being recognized as a city of writers but I think it is clearly one of the best cities for readers. I have managed to find numerous steals at the local public library's retail store. Someone recently dumped what looks like their entire non-fiction collection and I happily snapped up several wonderful biographies (Morgan, Rockefeller, Teddy Roosevelt) as well as some great collections of essays, Jacques Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence and Clive James' Cultural Amnesia.

Despite the quote about cultural and reaching for ones revolver (James covers this a bit) Cultural Amnesia is an amazing concentration of erudition. I can't believe I have never read much of James before this. I can not recommend this book highly enough. Like Blount's book it is perfectly suited to skip around and dip into. It will also lead one to at least another several dozen books suggested by its author. lector emptor.

Sea of Poppies is also a feast of words and one of the few novels I have come across that comes with its own Chrestomathy. (Which is online at Amitav Ghosh's webpage.) It turns out this is the first book of an intended trilogy which means one will have to wait patiently for the story to continue. Drat!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

He took down the Decembrists and Kanye; Who's next?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Modern Skirts

December has arrived bringing with it the first blanketing of snow for our fair city. I had a good time over Thanksgiving. Wednesday night at the last minute I was talked into going to see a hypnotist at a local club. I almost went under but some one's drunken fiance brought the bouncer over to our table and broke my concentration.As it was the performer also had to come over bring two of us fully back awake as we were partially hypnotized.

One of our group did end up on stage and even became the closing act. After enjoying the series of minor humiliations of others I am so glad I was not one of them. There would of been a video of me hypnotized to imagine that I had no genitalia on YouTube about 20 minutes after the show ended.

So after a long Wednesday night Thursday was a relaxing day of great food, a croquet match, several rounds of euchre, and getting beaten down in Foosball. I made a pumpkin cheesecake that came out okay even though I forgot the bourbon whip cream topping.

The song now most stuck in my head is the single, Soft Pedals, from the Athens based band Modern Skirts forthcoming record. I heard it on the new Paste Magazine sampler. The new album is produced by REM's Mike Mills and Cracker's David Lowery. Check it out here from Aquarium Drunkard blog. If you happen to be in Atlanta for New Year's Eve they will be playing with Cracker and Young MC. Not too shabby a line up.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

(Cover by N.C. Wyeth)


I didn't know I was grateful
for such late-autumn
bent-up cornfields

yellow in the after-harvest
sun before the
cold plow turns it all over

into never.
I didn't know
I would enter this music

that translates the world
back into dirt fields
that have always called to me

as if I were a thing
come from the dirt,
like a tuber,

or like a needful boy. End
Lonely days, I believe. End the exiled
and unraveling strangeness.

Bruce Weigl

I will not make it back to see the family in New England for Thanksgiving so the sentiment of the poem is more for the last time I was back in Connecticut two years ago. This year it will be spent in my adopted home with friends here in Iowa. I would like to send out best wishes to all those spending the holiday with their loved ones and families. I hope to see you all sooner than later.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Boston Spaceships

Robert Pollard's latest post Guided By Voices project. I think he also has another band with a record coming out soon and likely a couple of solo records. He puts almost as many records as Joyce Carol Oates writes books. This video is one of four submitted by fans. The rest are at the Boston Spaceships site.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Iowa City Named World City of Literature

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
"This is at once a celebration of the literary riches and resources of Iowa City and a spur to action," said University of Iowa International Writing Program Director Christopher Merrill, who led the UI Writing University committee that submitted the city's proposal. "We look forward to working with our new partners in the Creative Cities network -- to forging dynamic relationships with writers, artists and others committed to the life of discovery. This is a great day for Iowa City."
Iowa City joins Edinburgh, Scotland, and Melbourne, Australia, as UNESCO Cities of Literature.
Here is a link to a video of Marvin Bell reading his poem, "Writers in Cafe", that accompanied the application. Also a pdf of the poem.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pedroia wins AL MVP award

Congrats Dustin. He just missed sending the Red Sox to back to back World Series.

“And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks"

William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Photo by Ginsberg 1953

This book is mostly a curiosity long known to exist but withheld from publication for numerous reasons including the wishes of Lucien Carr himself. All the principles are dead so now it comes out. After reading the first half I wouldn't recommend it for any one's holiday shopping list but for fans it's worth checking out just to see their early styles.

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. "

Another music mix site, Mixwit. I have only played around with it for a few minutes after running across Bob Mould's latest DJ Mix. I was trying to make a mini-mix of current faves; the new Lucinda Williams duet with Elvis Costello Jailhouse Tears, a Loudon Wainwright track since he is town tonight, and a cool song by Teitur, Catherine the Waitress. Not sure about how the whole thing works but I love the part about designing your own tapes and you tube like linkage.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Veteran's Day (Belated)

American Life in Poetry: Column 189

On Swearing

In Normandy, at Point Du Hoc,
where some Rangers died,
Dad pointed to an old man
20 feet closer to the edge than us,
asking if I could see
the medal the man held
like a rosary.
As we approached the cliff
the man's swearing, each bulleted
syllable, sifted back
toward us in the ocean wind.
I turned away,
but my shoulder was held still
by my father's hand,
and I looked up at him
as he looked at the man.

In celebration of Veteran's Day, here is a telling poem by Gary Dop, a Minnesota poet. The veterans of World War II, now old, are dying by the thousands. Here's one still with us, standing at Normandy, remembering. -Ted Kooser

I did not get to post in time for Veteran's Day yesterday so here is the ALP column for this week and thanks to all veterans of the past and to those of the future who are currently serving. It was a good day for war movies yesterday as I flipped back and forth between The Bridge On the River Kwai and The Guns of Navarone, followed later with long stretches of Midway.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

More Good News...

Photo Credit: David Scrivner/The Daily Iowan. Iowa sophomore Daniel Murray kicks the winning field goal for the Hawkeyes from 31 yards out on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008. Murray's field goal put Iowa ahead of Penn. State 24-23 with one second left in the game

A nice turn of events this week. I did not brave the weather to see the game in person but enjoyed it from the comfort of a cozy sofa while reading the DeMille potboiler.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

'Nuff said. (I won't mention the weather today in consideration of those trapped indoors.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

One of Saturn's moons, Enceladus. (Photo from NASA site. More at Boston Globe here.)

I wish I had my camera with me to capture how perfect it is outside today here in Iowa City. There are long lines here at the library lobby for the early voting stations. This along with the weather seem to bode well for Election Day tomorrow. (Knock on wood.)

I finished Tony Horwitz's book this morning and again still highly recommend it. Check out the website for the book. He also includes a thorough section on notes and an extensive bibliography for further reading. American Journeys is one of the online sites he mentions as one of the best compilations by and about explorers.

I am off to find another book and head outdoors.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Chicago Ten

My weekend was fairly sedate. I ended up going to the Sarah Vowell reading at the Englert on Friday night and she was funny as anticipated. I enjoyed the book especially since part of it talks about the area in Southeastern Connecticut where I grew up and where my immediate family still lives. It would have been nice to have my copy autographed but crowd was too large so we chose Indian food over a long line of gushing fans and book store owners with twenty copies of each her books. I am continuing the early American theme with the Horwitz book, A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World.

I caught the above documentary on PBS and the animated portions created from transcripts of the trail perfectly captured the circus like atmosphere. I recommend seeing it. Saturday night I got talked into playing poker at the local American Legion by a friend who had to cancel at the last minute. I stuck around anyways but didn't win anything in the tournament. I did have some fun drinking cheap beer and playing for small stakes with other tourney washouts.

Music wise I am currently cranking up the latest Lucinda Williams album. Very good and a return to form circa Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. The new record Little Honey includes guest musicians include Charlie Louvin, Elvis Costello, Matthew Sweet, Susanna Hofs and others.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Some Reservations

Photo by Melanie Dunea

From the book featured at right that I found on the new book shelf at library. After reading the introduction by Bourdain and seeing his picture I could not resist the book. (Bourdain's recipe included in the book is for bone marrow and salad). A local cook recently loaned me a copy of Don't Try This At Home: Culinary Castrophes from the World's Greatest Chefs, a lot of the chefs are included in both books so it was good to put faces to names (among other body parts).

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Bob Mould- Sound on Sound

A clip from Bob Mould solo show. These images were being screened behind him as he played. Glad someone posted this. I meant link to this last week but I seem to be getting worse about timely posting. Must try harder or fail better as the man said.

Avett Brothers

Saw this on a few music blogs. Bartender at the Dublin turned me on to these guys. The Silver Jews are at Picador tonight. Thinking about going if it's not too expensive.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


photo ©2008 leah bennetti from File Magazine

Ah, Fall! This is the exact time of year to be in Maine. Not sure where this picture was taken but Maine is where I would like to be. Baxter State Park... I have rambled about this before.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Golden Years

All I do these drawn-out days
is sit in my kitchen at Pheasant Ridge
where there are no pheasants to be seen
and last time I looked, no ridge.

I could drive over to Quail Falls
and spend the day there playing bridge,
but the lack of a falls and the absence of quail
would only remind me of Pheasant Ridge.

I know a widow at Fox Run
and another with a condo at Smokey Ledge.
One of them smokes, and neither can run,
so I’ll stick to the pledge I made to Midge.

Who frightened the fox and bulldozed the ledge?
I ask in my kitchen at Pheasant Ridge.

by Billy Collins

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sigur Rós

Muzzle of Bees had a Sigur Rós post with more videos and mp3s. I just experienced listening to their latest album cranked up while going through a car wash. It felt like a stoner move.

"Feelin' Minnesota..."

I ganked the picture of the Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens off of Wikipedia. We didn't actually go here on this trip. Also this was coincidentally a postcard I just mailed to Doolittle back in New England. I'll see if I get some photos tonight.

At the last minute I got pulled into a road trip to Minnesota. We stopped off at mutual friend's house here in Rochester last night and are heading into the Twin Cities to see the band Sigur Ros tonight. Should be fun even if I don't know the music all that well. This will be a short turn around as my friend has to fly out of Iowa tomorrow so we head back right after show. Not looking forward to that drive.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spain- On the Road Again

I left house today to return books and videos to library after watching the Red Sox win, all but clinching a playoff spot. I also wanted to avoid the updates crawling across the bottom of the television screen indicating that the Patriots were being drubbed by the heretofore hapless Dolphins. To add ineptitude to insult, I find myself mired in last place in my inaugural fantasy football season and it doesn't look like I will be climbing out of the cellar this week or in the near future.

Spain would be a good place to escape to. The clip above is from a show on PBS I lucked into finding. It was the first episode of a new series with Mario Batali, Mark Bittman, Gweneth Paltrow. and Claudia Bassols eating there way around Spain. (Guest appearances by Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.) I enjoyed it and look forward to the rest of the series. He is promoting a companion cookbook. Batali, not Quixote.

Speaking of Spain, I am also hooked on the cooking/travelogue series by Chef José Andrés, Made in Spain. I really want the soundtrack! I should ask the public library to order them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

North Korea

High-level North Korean officials take part in a mass meeting celebrating the country's 60th birthday in this picture distributed by North Korea's official news agency KCNA in Pyongyang September 8, 2008. The portrait in the huge North Korean national flag is the state founder and "Great Leader" Kim-Il Sung. The right side letters read, "Celebrate 60th birthday". North Korea's foundation day falls on September 9, 2008. (REUTERS/KCNA)

I saw this link from Boston Globe's website on the photography blog Conscientious. I would love to visit North Korea and it's been almost twenty years since I was stationed in South Korea it would be great to return as a civilian.

Sarah Vowell's book led to me check out the Broadway recording of the musical she referred to in the preface that I quoted. (Assassins!). I also found a DVD copy of 1776 which Vowell attended at Ford's Theater which she prefaces by saying,"Going to Ford's Theater to watch the play is like going to Hooters for the food.'' But then she gets hooked on the musical despite her obsession with Lincoln's seat.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


photo ©2008 tim carpenter from File Magazine

I was in the middle of a late night poker session Saturday night when someone phoned another player with the news that the writer David Foster Wallace had killed himself. We were unable to confirm it at the time and I did not hear all the details until Sunday night. He will be missed. I never finished his novel Infinite Jest but I really enjoyed his essays and his erudition. His review of Garner's Modern American Usage is a classic example. Wallace also had several entries in The Writer's Thesaurus that are worth looking up.

On a more positive note, my friend Dolittle sent me a copy of Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation. It fits in perfectly with my Teddy Roosevelt obsession.

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Some days dance in the bracken"

Glen Uig

Believe in this couple this day who come
to picnic in the Faery Glen. They pay rain
no matter, or wind. They spread their picnic
under a gale-stunted rowan. Believe they grew tired
of giants and heroes and know they believe
in wise tiny creatures who live under the rocks.

Believe these odd mounds, the geologic joke
played by those wise tiny creatures far from
the world's pitiful demands: make money, stay sane.
Believe the couple, by now soaked to the skin,
sing their day as if dry, as if sheltered inside
Castle Ewen. Be glad Castle Ewen's only a rock
that looks like a castle. Be glad for no real king.

These wise tiny creatures, you'd better believe,
have lived through it all: the Viking occupation,
clan torturing clan, the Clearances, the World War
II bomber gone down, a fiery boom
on Beinn Edra. They saw it from here. They heard
the sobs of last century's crofters trail off below
where every day the Conon sets out determined for Uig.
They remember the Viking who wandered off course,
under the hazelnut tree hating aloud all he'd done.

Some days dance in the bracken. Some days go out
wide and warm on bad roads to collect the dispossessed
and offer them homes. Some days celebrate addicts
sweet in their dreams and hope to share with them
a personal spectrum. The loch here's only a pond,
the monster is in it small as a wren.

Believe the couple who have finished their picnic
and make wet love in the grass, the tiny wise creatures
cheering them on. Believe in milestones, the day
you left home forever and the cold open way
a world wouldn't let you come in. Believe you
and I are that couple. Believe you and I sing tiny
and wise and could if we had to eat stone and go on.

by Richard Hugo

I have been revisiting all the detective novels of James Crumley this week. Which always refers me back to Richard Hugo from whose poem the title of Crumley's The Last Good Kiss and this blog are taken from. A collected works is out , Making Certain It Goes On: The Collected Poems of Richard Hugo.

Monday, September 08, 2008


It's going to be a long season.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008



I have not been in the mood to post much of late. That attitude combined with a lack of regular internet access and a proclivity to procrastinate is not good for regular posting. So I figured it was at least time for some more cat pictures. Lately they have been a bit surly as their rations have been cut per doctors orders.

The holiday weekend was relaxing. I spent a portion of it down towards Kalona at a cookout. It was fun evening of good food (smoked salmon) and good music (local singer Dave Moore) which turned into an early morning of good company (friends that live near the cookout). Sunday afternoon I drove home and saw some Mennonite (or Amish) girls wearing their tell-tale bandannas and roller blading past the cheese factory. There was a blood orange sun setting in my rear view. I wished I had brought my camera. This was the best August weather wise we have had in Iowa since I moved here nine years ago.

Monday, August 25, 2008

It was recently my oldest nephew's 18th birthday and I thought I would do what all good relatives are supposed to do and that is post embarrassing photos. The above is a picture not long after he was born and featured in the center. My sister. Mom. Grandma, Dad and myself complete the rogues gallery.

This is a shot at Fenway in Boston when John was around 5 I think. This combined first baseball game with first train trip. He was sound asleep and complete dead weight however when I had to carry him back to South Station for the return trip to Connecticut.

I think this is not long after Christmas where in Thumper and My Little Buddy fought for attention. It's always good to keep these photos around.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Up On Cripple Creek..."

Road trip back to Northeastern Iowa for second time this month....

Some fellow local reprobates and myself did a last minute kayaking trip in Bluffton

A nice pose down the next morning after we had recovered with a good nights sleep.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"It was a pleasure to burn..."

I enjoyed watching this film. It holds up well and I had no idea it existed. Nice touches by Truffaut and there is a making of documentary on the DVD worth viewing. This was Truffaut's first color film as well as his first in English. Good stuff. Also on the DVD is an interview with Ray Bradbury from 2002.
I also enjoyed the recent King Arthur with Clive Owen in the title role. A different take on the Arthur legends. This led me to my shelf to read about the Roman emperor Hadrian whose wall in northern Britain the main battle scenes of the movie take place near. Turns out he was one of the more stable emperors of that period following the fall of the republic. Granted this is in comparison to Augustus, Caligula, Nero, etc... Seems like a good film could be made just about Hadrian. It would not take much to better Oliver Stone's Alexander the Great crapfest of a few years back.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Lower Chesapeake Bay

Whatever happened to the cross-chest carry,
the head carry, the hair carry,

the tired-swimmer-put-your-hands-on-my-shoulders-
and-look-in-my-eyes retrieval, and what

became of the stride jump when you leap
from impossible heights and land with your head

above water so that you never lose sight
of your drowning person, or if he is close enough

where is the lifesaver ring attached to a rope
you can hurl at your quarry then haul

him to safety, or as a last resort
where is the dock onto which you tug

the unconscious soul, place him face down,
clear his mouth, straddle his legs, and press

with your hands on both sides of his rib cage
to the rhythm of out goes the bad air in

comes the good air and pray he will breathe,
hallowed methods we practiced over and over

the summer I turned eighteen to win
my Water Safety Instructor's badge,

and where is the boy from Ephrata, Pa.,
I made out with night after night in the lee

of the rotting boathouse at a small dank camp
on the lower Chesapeake Bay?

Maxine Kumin

The Southern Review
Summer 2007

This poem is from is from the Daily Poetry archives. Have not been on the internet much this week but will make an effort to keep this up.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Pink Rose, Green Bug"

Getting a little dusty around the old blog. I have been enjoying the Canadian television series "Slings and Arrows". I suppose its a drama but with more fun bits than serious and it does feature one of the former cast members from "The Kids in the Hall". It appears most of the episodes are on YouTube; here is the first clip. I was was fortunate that our local public library has all three seasons.

Off to the dentist this afternoon and am not looking forward to it as it has been slightly longer than the recommended six months between visits. Closer to a 108.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Living in America (not the James Brown version)

This is a pottery sculpture from a local artist I picked up a few years back from a silent charity auction. I added the feather duster headdress yesterday.

'Living in America,'
the intelligent people at Harvard say,
'is the price you pay for living in New England.'

Californians think
living in America is a reward
for managing not to live anywhere else.

The rest of the country?
Could it be sagging between two poles,
tastelessly decorated, dangerously overweight?

No. Look closely.
Under cover of light and noise
both shores are hurrying towards each other.

San Francisco
is already half way to Omaha.
Boston is nervously losing its way in Detroit.

Desperately the inhabitants
hope to be saved in the middle.
Pray to the mountains and deserts to keep them apart.

Anne Stevenson
Selected Poems
winner of the Neglected Masters Award

I meant to put this up a while back and it will have to stand as a belated 4th of July poem. The book is from the American Poets Project which I have mentioned previously here. I highly recommend the series.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

High Tide in Tucson

Calexico on iLike - Get Sidebar

On a slightly more positive note, Calexico has released a trailer for the upcoming album. Did I mention they were playing for free in Chicago in September at a World Music Festival? I am sure I did.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Thomas Disch 1940-2008

How to Behave when Dead

A notorious tease, he may pretend
not to be aware of you.
Just wait.
He must speak first. Then
you may begin to praise him.

sincerity and naturalness
count for more than wit.
His jokes may strike you as
Only laugh if he does.

They say he's mad for art,
but whether in the melting
elegiac mode of, say, this
Vase of Poppies
or, turning the mirror
to his own face, a bronze skull
gorging on a snake --
that is a matter of taste.
In any case, the expense
is what he notices.

What to wear.
Some authorities
still insist on black.
But really, in this modern age,
your best is all that is required.

-- Tom Disch

Thomas Disch, novelist, poet, critic, playwright, and children's book author, is dead. He took his own life after a series of tragedies. NY Times obit here.

For me, discovering Disch was world altering. He expanded my horizons and expectations. From the not just for kids book, The Brave Little Toaster to his book on poetry The Castle of Indolence, one of the few books of criticism I have read and enjoyed for pleasure, I have enjoyed his writing for years. He taught me more about how to read with a critical ear than anyone else. His book on science fiction, The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World is a must read for all, even those who disdain the genre.

He will be missed. His blog is here.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive. . . .” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?”
Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process.

-- Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

More Summer Reading

Paul, our local expert from Prairie Lights bookstore, has turned me on to many books over the last several years and now he has gone global via the 'Tube. Enjoy and have a safe and pleasant holiday celebrating the birth of our country. Where is my Lee Greenwood record?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Cafe Tacuba

I went home for lunch and caught the end of these guys playing on Austin City Limits. Mexican Pop/Ska/Rock...I like it and they remind of Skatalites, Bosstones, etc...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

"History ... is a nightmare from which I am trying to wake."

Thanks to Paper Cuts blog for pointing out the cover of the latest Poets & Writers magazine and the classic Marilyn photo. One of my goals for this summer's reading is to get through Richard Ellman's biography of James Joyce. I recently found a hard cover copy in excellent condition at Goodwill. I love the dark blue cover embossed Joyce's name and the Brancusi's symbol for Joyce on the fronts piece. I just need to find a good beach or a 'disappointed bridge' to sit and read on. And to somehow get paid for it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"I got more records than the KGB"

"What the hell is that fat bastard writing about us this time?. I wish we could read."

This song is, in the parlance of the day, "so last year" but I can not stop playing it. It's an Adrock remix so a little different. The original version caught my ear because it's laid over top of one of my favorite Joe Strummer tunes, "Straight to Hell". That and the gunfire chorus.

M.I.A- Paper Planes (Remix for the Children by Adrock)

All the hipsters nod your heads and tap your feet. And at the end laugh cynically like college radio DJ's at UConn in the 90's mocking the non Fugazi fans. You get the picture.

Let's Dance to Joy Division-The Wombats

I love cover songs. This one goes out to The Dude. He abides.

"Friends of P"-Tokyo Police Club

"Let us read then, you and I..."

The unlikely mashup of T.S. Eliot and Portishead from The Elegant Variation.

To go along with the clip, Oprah's Magazine has a list of 5 Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once:

1) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

2) Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot

3) The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century
translated by Thomas Merton

4) Waiting for Godot
by Samuel Beckett

5) Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

I would include Lolita for my Top 5 but the rest are fairly arbitrary which I suppose is the nature of lists. I might swap out Eliot with Whitman. Have to think about it some more. It depends on the list requirements and or qualifications too. Does there have to be a play? A poet? Non-fiction? Too many variables. Discuss amongst yourselves. Suggestions welcome. As our subject nouns.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Wedding

Rainbow over Bushwood aka Fox Run C.C. in West Branch after the hail and thunderstorm.

The groom and his merry men.

Some of the ladies.

The usual suspects...

The sister and sister-in-law of the groom. (I was forced to retake this shot as they felt there was not enough cleavage in the first take.)

The Master making time.

The jacket is older than Ted. The women are decidedly not.

The rest of the pictures are online below.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Birth of Cool

Check this out from the library recently. Review here. And here.
New stamps this week celebrating two of the main influences in the above book.

I just got the most recent issue of Paste. My next new song of is from the cd sampler from a couple of issues back that I thought fits this mid century modern theme.

The Republic Tigers - Building & Mountains

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Boys of Summer

Peter Gammons "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". Check out his label and charity, Hot Stove Cool Music. Also see Fenway Recordings compilations of Boston locals.

If it wasn't for the Boston Red Sox winning a couple of World Series in the past 4 years I would never have been able to read Bradley's book featured at right. If not for the two championships reading this book would be like slowing peeling off a scab had healed and been covered with larger injuries (I still don't think I could read anything about the Sox's 1986 loss to the Mets). That said the book is an excellent history of the season and history and how the teams ended up in a one game playoff after the end of regular season in 1978.

I was 11 years old and had been living in Connecticut for around a year and half. There were only two baseball teams. People rooted for the hated Yankees or the Red Sox and in our part of New England it was the Red Sox. Yankee fans were transplants or band wagoners from the 1977 season. The Greatest Game evokes this era of baseball before skyrocketing salaries and players changing teams like underwear due to free agency. It brings back all of the minor role players in the days where kids like us knew them all because we had their baseball cards. This book is similar to the format of the wonderful recent biography of Sandy Koufax by Jane Leavy in which chapters alternate between description of the game and the background leading up to it. The first names say it it all: Reggie, Carlton, Billy, Catfish, Goose, Yaz, Thurman, etc...etc...etc...

Yesterday the music blog Aquarium Drunkard had a post about the recent release of the The Baseball Project from Yep Roc Records. Apparently this might be an extended project since its subtitled Volume One: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails. I would never pass up an opportunity to listen at least once to a record that has the "Ted F*cking Williams" on it. That track and another are available at the end of the post I mentioned above. Anyway I am so ready to go see a major league game. Let's play two.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"The Door into Summer"

No Boat by Christoph Vandewiele

Wired has had several photo contests recently. This is one of their Top 10 summer photo ones as chosen by the editors (I assume it could be a group of monkeys for all I know). There was also a reader's poll version. They just started a new theme one about squares and are still taking submissions.

I had very good time at friend's wedding this weekend and I will upload some photos when I get a chance too. The title of this post is from a novel by Robert Heinlein in which the protagonist's cat makes his owner open up every door in the house during winter to try and find the door that leads into summer. For me the door into summer this year is this song:

Five Years Time-Noah and The Whale


Friday, June 13, 2008

Purple Headed Womb Ferret

The last post was a bit of a downer so though I would go out having a laugh with a clip from the first episode of Extras with special guest star Kate Winslet.

High Water Mark Yet to Come

Flooding on the Iowa River at the Park Road bridge in Iowa City, Iowa, on June 12, 2008 (Press-citizen / Dan Williamson)

I just saw these numbers on the Press-Citizen's website.

Iowa River
• Current: 27.43 feet.
• Flood stage: 22 feet.
• Forecast: 33 feet by next week.

Have a safe weekend.

'You're nothing but a pack of cards!'

First viewed over at Hello Vegetables. The accompanying track for video was composed by 19-year-old South African artist Nick Bertke using sounds from the Disney film Alice In Wonderland.

The Iowa City wedding of the year is tomorrow as a close friend and favorite publican is finally getting married. Should be the social event of the season for those who are not flooded out of their homes or trapped behind closed bridges or washed out roads.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Big Picture

South Korean protesters carrying candles are blocked by police buses during a rally against US beef imports in Seoul on June 1, 2008. (KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images)

This blog does not do the picture justice unless you click on it to blow it up. The Boston Globe has a fairly new site with some excellent news pictures. It's called The Big Picture.

I first heard of this over at Photojojo

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Of moving accidents by flood and field."

City Park, Iowa City. Photo from Iowa City Press Citizen.

This is the worst flood I have ever seen but I was not here in 1993 so I can't say how it compares to then. You can see the outdoor theater at the top of the picture surrounded by water which has forced a temporary relocation to City High for this summer's Shakespeare Festival. Thankfully our place is on higher ground.

UPDATE: Not to make light of other people's misfortune but it does remind me of the The Onion headline, "Johnny Cash Called in to Assess Flood." I could not find a link for that so how about this instead:

Friday, June 06, 2008

"...Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, Of cabbages and kings..."

My goal this weekend in addition to making a summer book reading post is to try and make this dish. That is only if I can find some decent cherry tomatoes at the Farmer's market although I fear it is too early in the season. I can always improvise. The Pesto Bread side is a must for soaking up the clam juices.

I know a ton of people have covered this song but I like the keyboards on this. Enjoy the weekend. My book post

Love Song- Death Cab for Cutie (Cure cover)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Shakedown Street

Are these worse than the Kurt Cobain Chucks? Perhaps not but it still feels like I threw up in my mouth a little bit. I have to admit I do own a couple of Jerry Garcia ties but at least the man was still alive and ostensibly designing them himself at the time. The new line of Converse reminds me of a line of sporting goods that were licensed in Ernest Hemingway's name including shotguns. Perhaps Remington can get in on this with a line of 20 gauges in Cobain's name.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Summer Reading Quick Hits

(Watch Hill, Rhode Island. One of my favorite places for summer reading.)

As I mentioned recently I was going to talk about summer books. Last Sunday the NY Times went ahead and put out there summer reading issues of its Book Review. This is just a brief attempt while I compose my masterpiece.

In an essay in this section Joe Queenan talks about reading the big ones in "Jumbo Lit" including one (Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities) that has haunted my shelf unread for several years and taunting me to conquer it.

David Sedaris has a new book of essays coming out this week. This has to jump to the top 10 of any summer reading list. I remember going camping with some friends and taking turns reading some of his pieces by the fire and attempting not to choke on a Smore or snort beer out your nose. There is an excerpt from his collection When You Are Engulfed in Flames at the publisher's website here.

UPDATES: Added some more links to Music and Words.

Friday, May 30, 2008

"It's funny because it's racist."

This seemed appropriate since I have been trapped at one of our satellite offices all week with limited computer access. So even less posting then normal for a while probably. I am working on a post about summer reading. And by working on I mean I just thought of the idea about five minutes ago. I have a list of what I want to read though. In my head. The new Rushdie book, The Enchantress of Florence sounds perfect for a summer read. Excerpt here. Rave review here.

I am enjoying this new book about John Quincy Adams currently focusing on his role as a congressman after his presidency, his role fighting slavery in the House of Representatives and the defense of the Amistad escaped slaves. Adams was as excellent a statesman as his father but more neglected by history. In part due to an ineffective term in the White House caused mostly by being saddled with an opposition controlled Congress and Adams' stubborn refusal to remove various Jackson sycophants from his own Cabinet.

This book shows our sixth President enjoying more success in getting another chance at establishing his proper legacy. Another cool thing is that most of diaries are available on the web at the Massachusetts Historical Society. It is a little bit of work to decipher his handwriting but it is fascinating stuff. (OK, maybe that's a bit strong. I did read a few pages and they are okay but fact that they exist online I think is cool). Enjoy the weekend.

Friday, May 23, 2008

"In Our Youth Our Hearts Were Touched With Fire"

Normandy (picture is from a woman named Rachel. I found it on her blog via google)

[An address delivered for Memorial Day, May 30, 1884, at Keene, NH, before John Sedgwick Post No. 4, Grand Army of the Republic.]

Not long ago I heard a young man ask why people still kept up Memorial Day, and it set me thinking of the answer. Not the answer that you and I should give to each other-not the expression of those feelings that, so long as you live, will make this day sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth--but an answer which should command the assent of those who do not share our memories, and in which we of the North and our brethren of the South could join in perfect accord.

So far as this last is concerned, to be sure, there is no trouble. The soldiers who were doing their best to kill one another felt less of personal hostility, I am very certain, than some who were not imperilled by their mutual endeavors. I have heard more than one of those who had been gallant and distinguished officers on the Confederate side say that they had had no such feeling. I know that I and those whom I knew best had not. We believed that it was most desirable that the North should win; we believed in the principle that the Union is indissoluable; we, or many of us at least, also believed that the conflict was inevitable, and that slavery had lasted long enough. But we equally believed that those who stood against us held just as sacred conviction that were the opposite of ours, and we respected them as every men with a heart must respect those who give all for their belief. The experience of battle soon taught its lesson even to those who came into the field more bitterly disposed. You could not stand up day after day in those indecisive contests where overwhelming victory was impossible because neither side would run as they ought when beaten, without getting at least something of the same brotherhood for the enemy that the north pole of a magnet has for the south--each working in an opposite sense to the other, but each unable to get along without the other. As it was then , it is now. The soldiers of the war need no explanations; they can join in commemorating a soldier's death with feelings not different in kind, whether he fell toward them or by their side.

But Memorial Day may and ought to have a meaning also for those who do not share our memories. When men have instinctively agreed to celebrate an anniversary, it will be found that there is some thought of feeling behind it which is too large to be dependent upon associations alone. The Fourth of July, for instance, has still its serious aspect, although we no longer should think of rejoicing like children that we have escaped from an outgrown control, although we have achieved not only our national but our moral independence and know it far too profoundly to make a talk about it, and although an Englishman can join in the celebration without a scruple. For, stripped of the temporary associations which gives rise to it, it is now the moment when by common consent we pause to become conscious of our national life and to rejoice in it, to recall what our country has done for each of us, and to ask ourselves what we can do for the country in return.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Full speech is here. There is another one here too.

from Wiki:

During his senior year of college, at the outset of the American Civil War, Holmes enlisted in the fourth battalion, Massachusetts militia, and then received a commission as first lieutenant in the Twentieth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He saw much action, from the Peninsula Campaign to the Wilderness, suffering wounds at the Battle of Ball's Bluff, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. He is also said to have shouted at Lincoln during the Battle of Fort Stevens, saying "Get down, you fool!" when Lincoln stood, making him a susceptible target.[1] He was mustered out in 1864 as a brevet Lieutenant Colonel after his three-year enlistment ended. Holmes emerged from the war convinced that government and laws were founded on violence, a belief that he later developed into a positivist view of law and a rejection of romanticism and natural rights theory. After his death two uniforms were discovered in his closet with a note attached to them reading, "These uniforms were worn by me in the Civil War and the stains upon them are my blood."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Le Chat Gris

Iggy (aka Figge, as in he's as big as a museum)

In the interest of equal representation and so as not to play favorites I present Ig. His brother may actually be inside the Prairie Lights bag. They like bags.

On a movie kick lately, the other night I watched "The Darjeeling Limited" and enjoyed it more than was expected. I like Wes Anderson films even if Owen Wilson plays the same character in every movie he has ever done. The DVD also has the short prequel film, "Hotel Chevalier", a must see as as it introduces a full version of the song "Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)" by Peter Sarstedt. The film soundtrack is excellent as usual with Wes Anderson, a lot of Kinks and the scores from several classic Indian films. Check out the clip that someone obviously put some effort into.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Clever as cold coffee and whisky..."

(Hopper in the window)

Dialing While Intoxicated

Even this late I'm clever as cold coffee
and whisky. Scavenged that desperate pouch
of black shag I should've chucked ages ago,
ashes over-spilling the bread plate, butts
floating in backwash. Cup rings roam
the tabletop, the phone pad, half-stamp
my game of solo hangman. All of the E's
in "every ounce of everclear" busted
my bank long before tonight. But I dial on,
the kite and key of electric currency,
that flash of red, first frost in the maple trees:

in Amsterdam, look who's coming down the canal,
bicycle tires turning, up over the flock of bridges,
hump-backs bent and feeding, and round the crocus
and hemlock circle at Weteringschans. Who knows
which ex- is on the line? Then pub doors open
down Dorset Street, lights go off over Liffey murk,
the kitchen receiver sounds its dull double-bleat.
My sister, single now, searches for the phone.
And in Dunedin, the next day's already broken,
wobbled its way up summer twilight on sea legs,
half a year ahead. I could lick and tuck
one last roll-up, even call there collect.

John Hennessy

The poem is from the Poetry Daily archive due to be retired this week. Seemed like a good combination for a Monday. A pleasant weekend overall.

Last night I saw the surprise Oscar darling "Once". It was sublime and worth the hype. Check out his band The Frames doing the Pixies "Where is My Mind"....and this version of "Gigantic" with a kid's choir. He and his co-star of the film where on Jimmy Kimmel doing "Caribou" but I couldn't find it.