Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Veritable Boon of Questions!

From Overworm, this time:

1) Who is your favorite superhero and why? Is it the same as when you were 10 or 15 years old?
Captain America. I've always been a sucker for his straight-ahead moral certainty, the whole
"mere mortal leading Gods" thing, the unbreakable shield, the sometimes over-the-top
patriotism combined with a harder edge, the "best hand-to-hand- combatant in the world"
angle - all of it. A good Cap story can still give the 31-year-old-me serious goosebumps.
When I was 15 Cap had already taken over as my favorite, but as a kid I was a huge Spider-Man fan, primarily instigated by those Electric Company shorts and then the still-fondly remembered Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. It wasn't until I got into comics, ironically, that the good Captain overtook Spider-Man in my estimation.

2) What comic book based movie do you think absolutely missed its mark?
It's an easy one, but the Captain America film was, of course, just a travesty. I still
remember seeing the teaser poster (a great image of the just the shield and a date) at a
local movie theater months before its non-release, and the feeling of burgeoning excitement
I felt. What a let down the film was when I (finally) saw it. More recently, the Fantastic
Four film was something of a let down, even if it did have its moments. Still, I wouldn't
say it "completely" missed the mark.

3) What comic book based movie do you think perfectly encapsulated on screen what the comic captured on paper, and in fact might be a better example of the character than anything done in print? If no CBBM has achieved that particular nirvana, which has come closest?
I wouldn't call anything "better" than what's been done in print, but that's largely a
function of the mediums, not a lack of ability on the filmmakers' parts. The fact is that over thousands of pages and many, many years, a character or world can be much better established, understood, and explored than they can in one two-hour movie. That said, I think the best, most complete, most accurate and deeply layered portrayal of a comic book character
so far has been Ian McKellan's Magneto. I'd love to see a Magneto film, but don't really see
the need for a "young Magneto" treatment. With the right script, McKellan would deliver one
heck of a film.

4) What song or musical artist do you like that doesn't quite fit in with the music you typically listen to? Or do you never really stray musically?
I listen pretty freely to pop/rock, Broadway stuff, film scores, classical, jazz, so I tend not to be locked in to any one style. Still, within the rock/pop world the stuff I like tends toward the not-as-really-hard side, so the kind-of-hard Living Colour might stick out a little bit.

5) If you were to write the great American novel, what would the title be? The cover blurb? The plot and main character?
I already have. Well, it's not "great," never mind "the great." And it's more of a novella.
But it's American! It's called Seeing the Ball, and I wrote it as my thesis for my MA in
English. 120 pages or so. It's about a teenaged boy whose family takes in a younger relative when tragedy strikes his mother, and about the bond the two boys form through baseball. Cover blurb? Probably something awfully trite like "Life threw Kevin a curveball."

6) Doughnuts or bagels; Gatorade or juice; dogs or cats; sunrises or sunsets; scorching summers or frigid snowpacked winters?
Doughnuts. (Sweet and fried? Count me in). Juice, although I like Gatorade very much. Dogs - you can't play with a cat. Sunsets (sunrises are nice, but you have to get up pretty early to catch one). Scorched summers. Get yourself to a pool or beach or a lake and you can still enjoy the outdoors. A frigid winter is all about being cooped up inside for days on end- blech.

I'm more than happy to answer more, so if anyone has any further questions, ask away.

And on a bookeeping note, Tosy and Cosh will be taking their traditional end-of-semmer break from all things computer-related imminently. We may post today or tomorrow, but will be gone for a good two weeks after that - so enjoy what's left of your summer, everyone!

Until Whenever

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Plethora of Answers!!!

Lefty supplies this sextet of queries. Thanks Lefty!

1. What play/performance have you seen the most times?
Probably Pippin. I've seen many productions, including: My high school's (they did it when I
was in seventh grade). A theater group's in college. A local high school's (I was as a judge
for the Paper Mill Playhouse's Rising Stars program). And I directed it for another high
school several years back. That production was an unadulterated nightmare--a school with no
theater program to speak of that hadn't done a musical in decades; a music director fresh
out of college who was presiding over a dessicated music program and was completely
overwhelmed; paltry turnout for auditions; a horrible attendance rate at rehearsals; no
orchestra or even a piano player for rehearsals (the actual shows were done to a MIDI
keyboard, the songs having been programmed in - except for two songs which were, and I am
deeply, deeply ashamed to even admit it, done to a CD of the Original Broadway Cast
recording with the vocals (somewhat) faded); a part-time, unpaid, absentee choreographer;
and in me a director who had only one other show under his belt. Just bad all around. But I
do like Pippin as a play, even after all that, and would love a chance to do it right one

2. What U2 album have you owned the most times in different formats?
I've owned The Joshua Tree, Rattle and Hum, Boy, October, Achtung Baby, War, The
Unforgettable Fire
, and Under a Blood Red Sky on cassette and CD. I've never owned a vinyl
album at all.

3. What's your top five U2 songs? What's your five worst U2 songs?
Top Five:
1) "Where the Streets Have No Name" - Greatest. Rock song. Ever.
2) "Please" - Oh how I long for a jazz cover.
3) "Walk On" - Moves me every damn time I hear it.
4) "One" - This will stand the test of time, I predict.
5) "Pride (In the Name of Love)" - The quintessential U2 track.

Rapidly moving up in the ranks and with an outside shot at cracking the top five at some
point are "City of Blinding Lights," "Acrobat," "When I Look at the World," and "Mercy."
("Mercy" is an unreleased song that was leaked with the How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
stuff - it was going to be on that album at some point. It's a killer, killer epic track,
very much a joyous union of classic and modern U2 sounds with some of the structural sense
of "Bad." Can't wait for the proper commercial release.)

Bottom Five:
1) "Elvis Presley and America" - A largely improvised first take that sounds like it.
2) "Miami" - Too laid-back and lazy.
3) "4th of July" - U2 shouldn't do instrumentals.
4) "Paint It Black" - U2 has done some great covers ("Satellite of Love," "Unchained Melody,"
"Everlasting Love" - but this one is very bad.
5) "Fortunate Son" - This is worse.

4. What music do you "rock out" to (other than the boys from Ireland)?
The artists I listen to a lot don't tend to rock that hard - Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan,
Sting, Radiohead, Neil Young, Tracy Chapman, Aimee Mann, Dire Straits, Paul Simon, Queen,
The Who - some solid rockers there, bit mostly theatrical rock or quieter
singer/songwriter-type stuff. The hardest stuff I listen to regularly is probably Living
Colour - Corey Glover has a hell of a voice.

5. What CD, Movie, and TV show are you embarrassed to own or watch, but enjoy them a lot?
CD: Time-Life Christmas. Some real cheese on there, but still essential.

Movie: Karate Kid, Part II - The drum thing isn't nearly as effective as the crane move, but it's still pretty cool. And I love that they pick up exactly where they left off. I like the ending of the first film, and appreciate the benefits of ending on that high, but always wanted a little bit of a denouement.

TV Show: The Apprentice. A ridiculous show with just-banal contestants and a stiff and
aggravating Donald Trump that I still watched pretty much three full seasons of.

6. What's your favorite Meme you've done?
I like those "100 things about me" things, personally - good fun and a lot of material.

Until Whenever

Monday, August 14, 2006

Even More Answers

These come from Anonymous:

1. What band that you haven't seen in concert would you most like to see?
Radiohead. There aren't many bands/artists that I have a deep enough interest in to warrant the expense and time of seeing live (for me, a concert in which I don't know most of the songs already is an exercise in tedium--the simple fact is that I just don't "get" music on a first listen), and most of the ones I do I already have. I've seen U2, John Mellencamp, Sting, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Tracy Chapman, Paul Simon, Pete Townsend - but never Radiohead. And from their one commercially released live CD, I'd quite like to--there are a few songs on that that I like MUCH better than the recorded versions.

1a. What band that no longer exists do you wish you had been there for (like for instance the Beatles at Shea or the Cavern Club)?
Easy - The Who, complete with Moon pounding away like a lunatic. Their live recordings give a sense of the energy and thick meatiness of their live playing - I can only imagine what it was like to actually be at a Who concert in their prime.

2. What book would you like to see made into a movie?
I'm going to cheat a little and pick Garth Ennis' epic of filth, profanity, blasphemy, and wonder, Preacher. This was a 80-some-odd issue comic book series, though, that told one long, cohesive story over those issues, so what I would simply love to see would be an HBO series faithfully taking all that material and playing with it. Five or six seasons should be enough to get in all that Preacher-y goodness, I think.

3. What question would you ask Stephen King if you could?
"Where do you get your ideas?" (I kid.) King is pretty open with his fans and about his process, so there's no big obvious question for me. I am very curious about why he hasn't decided to actually script the Dark Tower comic he's working on (he's just plotting), and would love to ask him why he declined to write it entirely himself.

Until Whenever
More Answers!

The august Roger Owen Green (I don't really know whether or not he's august, but in pictures he's posted on his blog, he sure looks it), asks the following questions:

1. What should the U.S. do in Iraq?
Damned if I know. I tend not to write about politics here, because, for me, thinking about politics and world events is hard thinking - whereas thinking about why Bono is the best rock vocalist ever is fun thinking. That being said, my position on Iraq is that we never should have invaded the country in the first place - the same old song and dance, no compelling evidence, links between Iraq and terrorism fuzzy at best, etc. But we did invade Iraq. And, to me, to leave now - with the country, if not "on the brink" of civil war, sure as hell close enough, would be just wrong. This is one of those "no good answers" deals. I don't imagine that we are going to pull some wonderful endgame out of this mess - more and more Americans and Iraqis will die in the coming months and years, and the end result will most likely be, not the beacon of Democracy and a catalyst to a new Middle East we were promised, but a barely stable nation with a very uneasy democracy in place. But the alternative - the US pulling out and the country falling into an all-out civil war that we let happen (and in some senses created) - is untenable. So we're left with a pretty sucky choice, but one I think we must accept.

2. What should we do about Israel and Lebanon? Is the war a precursor to Armageddon?
I haven't the foggiest notion of what we should or shouldn't do - or, to be honest, about what Israel should or shouldn't have done or should or shouldn't do now. But it doesn't feel good, that's for sure. The day this whole started felt eerily like an Archduke Ferdinand moment to me - although I sure as hell hope it's not.

3. Is there a heaven and/or hell? What are they like?
Nope. I'm a pretty straightforward atheist - no God, no heaven, no hell, just one life to do what you can and then nothingness. Not the most comforting of world views, but there you are.

4. Five bloggers you read at least every few days.
From the blogroll to your right, the five I read most often are probably:

What's Alan Watching - The always-fun TV blog of NJ Star-Ledger critic Alan Sepinwall.

A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago - A smorgasbord of links and commentary whose subjects typically hit all my sweet spots.

The House Next Door - Sepinwall's fellow Ledger TV critic's site, with some of the best in-depth and long-form TV and film blogging around. I often am left out of the conversations there, in that I often haven't seen the film or show being discussed, but the level of discourse and interaction is top-notch.

Byzantium's Shores - Jaquandor shares some of my obsessions and is always worth a read.

About Last Night - Terry Teachout's blog is still a must-read, even if the cultural waters he swims in are a little tonier than the waters in my usual swimming holes.

5. What was the closest you've ever come to death?
See here (question #26). Almost hit a concrete divider going 70 miles an hour. Happened so fast I didn't have time to be scared.

6. Is global warming reversible, and if so, how?
I'm sure it is - but how it can happen, and how long it will take, I'm guessing are both a much bigger investment than we realize. I'm not what you'd call optimistic, in other words.

7. How much wood WOULD a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
All of it. All of the wood.

8. What could you consider your greatest pet peeve?
People who think they are more important than others. Line cutters. People who are too good for certain tables at restaurants. People whose e-mails are ALWAYS flagged as "important." Those people.

9. What is your most useless talent?
I can bark like a dog to uncanny effect.

10. Why is there air? (We can compare your response to Lefty's future response.)
Why? Because an atmosphere was created millions of years ago as the planet formed? The full scientific explanation is no doubt more complete, but that's the gist of it.

Keep the questions' a comin', people!

Until Whenever

Friday, August 11, 2006


I'll be answering the questions left in the comments thread here in spurts, so by all means, keep asking away. The first batch is courtesy of that gentle giant, Jaquandor, who asks:

1. Right back at you: one change you'd make in the Star Wars prequels, and why. (I asked him this question in his "Ask Me Anything" post.) Get rid of Jake Lloyd. As I've said many times before, I like the Star Wars prequels very, very much, but do think the first is the weakest, and in large part due to the remarkably bad performance by Lloyd. Maybe it's Lucas' inability to work with kids? Or is Lloyd simply bad? I don't know. But Lloyd's Anakin is just a flat-out unskilled, unconvincing performance - stilted, cardboard line readings and as unnatural a presence as all get out. And this is in a film that, by design (and appropriately so), features some very mannered and unnatural acting. A good performance in that key role would, I think, have had a cascade effect of improving several other elements of the film that fans and critics have had troubles with--improving the film disproportionately.

2. You're still solidly in the pro-ER camp, so: you can remake the show so one character from the pilot has never left. Which character would it be?
John Carter. All the other original characters were older, and it makes sense that they'd no longer be at the same hospital. Having Carter as a constant from the beginning to the end would have given the show a clear character arc - from newbie to senior voice of wisdom - from the first to the last episode. That they did do this to some extent I like (after all, Carter only left a season ago or so)- but Wylie's leaving took that very nice structural element of the show away, and it's felt it, I think, this last year. That being said, the "Carter goes to Africa" stuff has always felt very natural to me and right for the character- I would love it if in the last season, whenever that might be, Wylie did return for more than an episode or two - say the last eight or ten, to really tie the whole show together.

3. You once took me to task for basically impugning the fair state of New Jersey, as though the state consists of nothing more than what can be seen from the Jersey Turnpike. So: what's so great about New Jersey? (Seriously: sing your state's praises!)
From my perch in Northeastern New Jersey I am no more than:

  • An hour from the capital of the freakin' world (in fact I go there five days a week to work). The wellspring of the musical theater I love, more art and culture than can possibly be indulged in in one lifetime, great and history-laden sports franchises, some of the world's best restaurants, the list goes on.
  • An hour and a half from some great beaches - relatively warm water (in the 70s this late in the season), good waves, clean sand, boardwalk attractions for the kids. Jersey's beached have a reputation for being dirty, with polluted waters, but the truth is far from the rumor.
  • An hour and a half or so from the Delaware water gap - hiking, rafting, beautiful mountain scenery.

And even closer by, there are: Loads of charming, cozy towns. A not-too-shabby arts scene. Lazy Sunday rides through farmland, small towns, state parks. All the shopping you could hope for - from megamalls and huge bookstores to boutiques and unique shops. A great Ivy league and a great State university only 40 minutes from each other. The real question is what does Jersey not have (or at least have access to)?

4. Describe, from bottom slice of bread to top, your favorite sandwich.
I get it every Tuesday in the cafeteria at work: Lettuce. Thinly sliced red onion. Shredded carrots. A generous dolloping of chunky blue cheese dressing. A fair-sized splash of hot sauce. A more-than-generous heaping of fried, boneless, buffalo chicken pieces. All placed on a a large, jalapeno-flecked wrap, and wrapped up nice and tight. A small slice of heaven.

5. God comes down from the sky and tells you that you can have any career you want, but it MUST be one that involves intensive physical labor. (Assume he'll equip you with the physique, if you don't have it already.) What career do you choose?
How are you defining "physical labor?" If you simply mean a career that involves strenuous physical activity, the answer is easy - NBA basketball player. I love playing basketball, but, as the fated would have it, pretty much suck at it. On top of that I'm, well, how should I put this, a little fat and lazy, so when I DO play, I get winded ridiculously easily. AND I have a bum knee (torn ACL). So a career where I would get to play the game on a high level, with the requisite ability and necessary physical prowess? Sign me up. Now, if you didn't mean to include athletics, if that's cheating, I'd go with construction. I'm whatever the opposite of handy is, so if God were to see fit to magically endow me with a carpenter's skills and sense . . .

Keep the questions coming, readers!

Until Whenever

Doin' the Friday Shuffle

Today, it's am "all-opera" shuffle - just for the hell of it.

1. "All guns are ready, Sir!" -Benjamin Britten - Billy Budd
The sailors ready for battle. Frenetic, then quiet and moody, then ominous.

2. "Eyes like tunnels" - William Bolcom - A View from the Bridge
The chorus admonishes the lawyer character for failing to save Eddie from his tragic end, as the lawyer character voices his own regrets.

3. "Welcome wanderer! . . I know a bank" - Benjamin Britten - A Midsummer Night's Dream
A slow, stately, and quite pretty aria for the countertenor role of Oberon.

4. "You won at poker" - John Adams - Nixon in China
I love Adams' shifting, shimmering musical backdrops here.

5. "Some of them don't look so bad" - Jake Heggie - Dead Man Walking
The warden tries to warn off Sister Prejean from trying to help Joe. Nicely muscular and masculine music for the arrogant warden.

6. "Led Tourments De La Bete" - Philip Glass - La Belle et la Bete
Almost lilting and pretty, yet still in that identifiably Glassian minimalist style.

7. "Fool to let it come to this" - Benjamin Britten - Peter Grimes
The townspeople voice their assumption that Peter has once again turned to abusing his apprentice. Rapid, almost bouncy figures nicely echo the townspeople's paranoia.

8. "Act I/Prologue" - Benjamin Britten" - The Turn of the Screw
A narrator opens the opera by introducing the basics of the story in declamatory style over unadorned piano.

9. "Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show" - Benjamin Britten - A Midsummer Night's Dream
The rustics.

10. "Good mornin', sistuh! It's Porgy comin' home" - George Gershwin - Porgy and Bess
Children's choir and the town welcome Porgy back at the outset of Act III.

Until Whenever

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Music Morsels Vol. XXIV - You're the One

The first (but not last--the 'z' entry is similarly constrained) default choice in the "Music Morsels" series. I was actually surprised that Paul Simon's You're the One was the only album in my collection to start with the letter 'Y,' but there it is. This was Simon's post-Capeman album, and was considered to be pretty much a disappointment in most quarters, including, I suppose, these. It's not that it's a bad album, really, but it has none of the sparks generated by the "play with a very specific genre" approach Simon took with his last three albums (South African rhythms and sounds for Graceland, South American percussive elements in Rhythm of the Saints, and a compelling blend of Puerto Rican and doo-wop sounds in The Capeman). Sure, there are some nice songs here, but the overall impact of the album is soft and squishy - it's the kind of album that's easy to forget. That being said, there are some nice moments - the wry, almost-defeatist humor in "Old" is actually pretty funny (with lines like "the first time I heard Peggy Sue, I was 12 years old" set to a, yes, Buddy Holly riff). The album's one true highlight is the slow, languid "Love" and its centerpiece and chorus of a truly lovely sustained melody sung over the single syllable of the word "love."

Grade: B-

Until Whenever

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I Hope I Don't Hear Crickets

Because Jaquandor had such a good time with it, and recommended it so heartily, I'm soliciting any and all questions from my readership. Anyone want to ask Tosy and/or Cosh anything at all, just leave it in the comments below, and I'll answer in a forthcoming post. Ask away!!

Until Whenever

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Buried Beauties - Kristin Chenowith

Haven't done one of these in a long while, but reading (yet more) hype about Aaron Sorkin's forthcoming Studio 60, including the much-repeated fact that the Harriet character in the pilot is a gossamer-thinly veiled Kristin Chenowith, reminded me of just how pretty Chenowith is - classically beautiful but with real character in her face.

Until Whenever
Your Entertainment Dollars

James Poniewozik of Time magazine, in their TV blog Tuned In, has an interesting post up today about how the cost of being entertained has skyrocketed in recent years. The post was spurred by a piece in The New York Times warning us that the days of the old-fashioned tube TV may be les splentiful than we think. Poniewozik goes on to describe how an entertainment budget that years ago only needed to support a small TV, a record player, and the occasional movie now has greatly expanded to support a cable bill, DVD rentals, DVDS, stereos, iPods, etc., etc. The post got me to thinking - how badly (or not) have I succumbed to the need for more, more, more when it comes to entertainment options?

We have a 32-inch in the basement family room, a 29-inch in the smaller main floor den, and a 25-inch in the bedroom. All tubes, no plasmas, LCDs, or others. Unfortunately, the price of flatscreens still has a lot of dropping to do before we go that route. Each TV is hooked up to a DVD player - the basement one has a cheap $30 model and the bedroom has our a five-year old first DVD player. The den has a DVR - not a TiVo, but a Panasonic DVR with DVD recorder, bought on clearance at "only" $200 bucks or so. This is a newer toy, and a favorite--although, befiting the price paid, it's a buggy, crash-prone thing that loses the listings (and programmed shows-to-be-recorded) once every ten weeks or so so. The bedroom and den TVs are also hooked up to old, still working fine, VCRs as well. We rarely buy DVDs but do spring for the Blockbuster Netflix-clone account.

Conspicuous consumption grade: C. No flat-screens and a cheap, buggy TiFaux?

My first-ever shelf system, a going-off-to-college gift from my parents, hides behind a chair in our living room. There's an iPod clock radio in the kitchen, and a surround-sound system with 5-CD changer hooked up to teh basement TV and DVD. It's not a true 5.1 system, though, as neither the DVD player or stereo possesses the necessary decoder. I do have a 60-gig iPod with color screen (no video though), but that was a trade-in from a iPod wannabee (NOMAD Jukebox) that served me for two years, until right before the replacement plan was up. I wouldn't have bought the iPod cold. I very rarely buy CDs, and turn to the library system for much of my musical curiosity.

Conspicuous consumption grade: C+. Justifications aside, I do have an iPod. But, again, no fancy stero to speak of.

Library, library, library. I go to bookstores often, but nine times out of ten leave empty-handed. There

A four-year old Sony VAIO that will probably last several more years--the first computer we bought (the VAIO's predecessor was a hand-me down). Cheap laser printer. We do, with a wince, pony up for cable Internet access though.

Conspicuous consumption grade: C.

A four or five year old Olympic digital, 3.1 megapixels. A three-or-four-year old Sony camcorder that I've never been able to get to work with the computer.

Conspicuous consumption grade: C.

Cell Phones
The cheapest models we could get when we signed up.

Conspicuous consumption grade: D.

In the end, we're pretty cheap, cable Internet aside, and don't really keep up with the Jones' much at all. Sure, there are things I'd like to spring for, but I'm comfortable with our entertainment budget.

Until Whenever

Monday, August 07, 2006

One Book . . .

Untagged as I may be, I'm still taking a meme from Terry Teachout's blog and running with it:

One book that changed your life
"Changed my life" is a bit dramatic, and, for me at least, not really accurate for any book. But the single book that probably had the single biggest impact on me was Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. It was given to me by a favorite Aunt when I was but a wee one, and it's been a constant ever since - I've had the remarkable pleasure of now reading it to my own children, a pleasure, given their ages (2) and limited appreciation of literature in general, that will only continue to reap regards in the years to come.

One book that you've read more than once
See here for a more detailed reckoning, but Stephen King's It easily holds the tile (not counting children's books that I've read dozens upon dozens of times). The novel's epic-yet-tidy structure makes it ideal for re-reading, as the sheer mass of the thing allows for multiple new discoveries each time out.

One book you'd want on a desert island
It's just so cliche to say "The Complete Shakespeare," but I just may have to. After all, this is a lot of time spent alone waiting for death with only one book to keep me company. I have to think that this choice, while maybe idealized and snobbish, is a good and practical one as well. And think of all the fun that could be had in acting out one-man readings on the sand?

One book that made you laugh
I just finished Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons, and I laughed out loud several times. But Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide is probably the all-time champ in that regard.

One book that made you cry
When I read The Giving Tree to my children for the first time, I welled up something fierce. Something about the book's harsh, almost cynical treatment of the sacrifice of being a parent - a treatment that nonetheless has an overall warm and fuzzy effect - just gets to me.

One book that you wish had been written
From the bits that appeared in The Salmon of Doubt, the never-completed new novel Douglas Adams had been working on when he died would have been a welcome addition to his ouvre.

One book that you wish had never been written
A geeky response, but reading the wretched The Courtship of Princess Lea while hobbled up for a week in college was a dismal waste of time.

One book you're currently reading
The annotated Wizard of Oz, in drips and drabs as I have a spare moment. Lots of interesting background on details and bits from the book (The story that Baum came up with the term "Oz" from a file cabinet drawer labeled "O - Z" may well be apocryphal. Who knew?)

One book you've been meaning to read
Shirley Hazard's The Great Fire, in large part due to Our Girl in Chicago (Teachout's co-blogger)'s rhapsodic posts about it. I picked up the trade at a used bookstore down the Jersey Shore last summer, but have yet to delve into it. And, after this weekend's visit to the library yielded Bill Buford's foodie memoir Heat; A Prayer Before Dying, the last Dennis Lehane Kensie and Gennaro mystery; Ian McEwan's Saturday; and The Castle of Lyr, the third Prydain book, it may still be a while before I get to it.

Until Whenever

Friday, August 04, 2006

Doin' the Friday Shuffle

1. "Ogre Battle (Remix)" - Queen - Queen II
A kind of pointless remix of a great obscure Queen song.

2. "Jesus Was an Only Son" - Bruce Springsteen - Devils and Dust
A serious shuffle of a song from Bruce.

3. "Postcards from Paraguay" - Mark Knopfler - Shangri-La
Gentle uptempo song with a very mildy quasi-Latin beat going on.

4. "Courtroom Scene" - Pete Townsend - Tommy (Original Broadway Cast)
Some surprisingly credible shredding going on up front in this short scene.

5. "Passarim" - Antonio Carlos Jobim - Antonio Carlos Jobim's Finest Hour
Silky cool bossa nova.

6. "The Word" - The Beatles - Rubber Soul
Very 60s.

7. "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" - XTC - Upsy Daisy Assortment
The Song that answers the question "what would happen if Jesus returned today with the name of Peter Pumpkinhead?" Answer? It would have gone pretty much the way it did for him first time around.

8. "Mama, You've Been on My Mind" - Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series Volume VI: Bob Dylan Live 1964 - Concert at Philharmonic Hall
Dylan and Daez dueting, a bit clumsily.

9. "Summertime" - Ella Fitzgerald and Luis Armstrong - Porgy & Bess
The trumpet, the voices - heaven.

10. "Multitudes of Amys" - Mandy Patinkin - Experiment
A stirring and sweetly desperate reading of an obscure Sondheim song cut from the original production of Company.

Until Whenever

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Random Top Ten!!

Random Top Ten!

Random Top Ten Drinks

(Disclaimer - I don't drink alcohol)

10. Good Coffee Milkshake - I love me a good milkshake.

9. Coke Zero - My current favorite soft drink. For once the "it tastes just like the real thing" marketing crap ain't.

8. Virgin Pina Colada - Coconut and pineapple are just so happy together. They're the couple you'd be shocked to hear divorced.

7. Coconut Yoo-Hoo - Not the coconut-flavored chocolate Yoo-Hoo, but the old-school, just coconut flavor. Haven't had it in, literally, decades.

6. Coffee - An essential ingredient to the day.

5. Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha - Would be an essential ingredient of the day if it a) weren't $5 a pop and b) weren't damn unhealthy.

4. Chocolate Milk - Cold chocolate milk in a clear glass, made with whole milk and Quik. One of life's most elegant pleasures.

3. Orange Juice - I often imagine this is what the nectar of the Gods must have tasted like.

2. Grape Juice - I've always loved grape-flavored things, and this is my favorite of them. Just purply goodness in every drop.

1. Dole Orchard Peach Juice - I wish juices didn't have calories. I really wish this one didn't. Like drinking a wonderfully ripe and sunny peach. Damn, now I want some.

Until Whenever
. . .

Never read any Tom Wolfe before . . . mostly through Charlotte Simmons . . . he's good . . . maybe a bit overwritten . . . (where's the editor? 650 pages?) . . . good grasp of characters, some great humor . . . effective use of setting . . . very engaging plot . . . great eye for detail . . . but what's with the paragraphs of short sentence fragments encased in ellipses? . . . Seriously? . . . It's annoying . . . adds nothing . . . I like real sentences . . . I want more of them

Until Whenever

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Second Time Around

Michael Blowhard, over at 2 Blowhards, posits an interesting query: what books have you read more than twice? My list is below. It's fairly long, as I am a big re-reader (and was a huge re-reader as a child). Part of it is that I have a embarrassingly bad memory for plots and such - I'm rereading the Lloyd Alexander Prydain series now, a series I haven't read in probably almost twenty years, and I don't remember hardly anything of the plots. Occasionally I'll feel guilty about re-reading something (in that it's time that could be spent discovering something new), but the guilt is usually won over by the sheer pleasure I get in discovering things in the books I could never have noticed in just one read. In an attempt at full disclosure, I've put in parenthesis after each entry a number to indicate just how many times I've read a particular book. The asterisks indicate books I, in all likelihood, will read again at some point (some of these I expect to read to my children).

Stephen King
Bag of Bones (2)
Cujo (3)
Cycle of the Werewolf (2)
Danse Macabre (2)
The Dark Half (2)
The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger* (4)
The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three* (3)
The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands* (3)
The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass* (2)
The Dead Zone (2)
Dolores Claiborne* (2)
The Eyes of the Dragon* (3)
Firestarter (3)
Four Past Midnight (2)
The Green Mile* (3)
Insomnia (2)
It* (5)
The Long Walk* (3)
Misery (2)
Night Shift (2)
On Writing (2)
Pet Sematary (3)
Rage (3)
Different Seasons* (3)
The Stand* (3)
Thinner (2)
Tommyknockers (2)

J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone* (2)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets* (2)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban* (2)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire* (2)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix* (2)

Isaac Asimov
The Caves of Steel (3)
Fantastic Voyage (2)
Foundation (2)
Foundation and Empire (2)
Foundation's Edge (2)
The Naked Sun (2)
The Robots of Dawn (3)
Robots and Empire (2)
Second Foundation (2)

Robert R. McCammon
Swan Song* (3)

Edward P. Jones
The Known World* (2)

Douglas Adams
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy* (3)
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe* (3)
Life, the Universe, and Everything* (3)

Lloyd Alexander
The Book of Three* (4)
The Black Cauldron* (4)
The Castle of Lyr* (3)
Taran Wanderer* (3)
The High King* (3)

William Shakespeare
Hamlet* (3)
Romeo and Juliet (2)
Macbeth* (2)

E.B. White
Charlotte's Web* (3)

Samuel Beckett
Waiting for Godot* (3)

Tennessee Williams
The Glass Menagerie (3)

Terrence McNally
Lips Together, Teeth Apart* (3)
Love! Valour! Compassion!* (4)
Master Class (2)
Corpus Christi* (2)

I also read two or three times as a child most of the Beverly Clearly Ramona books and much of Judy Blume's output, as well as many an Encyclopedia Brown entry.

Until Whenever