Friday, September 24, 2010

Phone Posting

You may remember that about a year ago the cord for the lap-top stopped working. We got a new one, but recently, it became clear that it wasn't long for this world. The rubber coting was pulling away from the plug & a few days ago sparks started to shoot out of it. As I didn't have any electrical tape, I put some duct tape over it for the time being. However, that was only going to work for so long. Yesterday, the battery died & I noticed that the green light on the cord wasn't lit. Assuming there was a connection problem under the tape, I started to unravel it & it took it upon itself to scare the shit out of me by sparking in my hands. (Yes... I'd forgotten to unplug it first.) Once it was unplugged, I realized the out-put plug (which had been under the tape) had broken clean off. To make a short story even shorter, the cord will be purchased @ Clover Computers next week after I get paid, but until then I've only got my phone & my office computer.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Arsenal Highlight Series

I had some problems getting the video from the weekend draw w/ Sunderland to post, but in this video you'll see Lansbury's 1st goal for Arsenal, Robbie Kean score from an off-side position, 2 penalties well taken by Nasri, & then a sweet set piece w/ Arshavin. Enjoy. You can then scroll back for the Sunderland stuff.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Summer Reading

Here we have reviews of some of the books I've read recently... & by recently, I mean going back to march or April. Feel free to come on up to Nicola's this evening after the Arsenal match & pick up a copy of these books... or order them used right here.

Roddy Doyle: The Van
I read this last spring in the run up to the World Cup. It's part of Doyle's series that also gave us The Commitments, & it takes place in Dublin, set against the back drop of Ireland's 1990 run in the World Cup. The 2 main characters get a "chip van" & wait outside of pubs to sell burgers & fries to the fans after the Ireland matches. It's a fun little book. Subtle & very well crafted.

Bernard Cornwell: Sharpe's Eagle
depending on how you catalogue them, this is either the 1st, 2nd or 8th book in the Sharpe series. It was the 1st written, the 8 in the chronology of the main character's life, & 2nd in the film series. When I grabbed Sharpe's Rifles last year, I didn't realize that the 1st in the films wasn't the 1st in the series. They're fun book, but they lack any real depth. The historical specificity is fantastic though.

Roberto Bolano: The Savage Detectives
This is an amazing book! Bolano is definitely the real deal. Born in Chile, he spent about 15 years in Mexico City before moving to Barcelona where he wrote his novels (most of which take place primarily in Mexico). The structure is frustrating as Hell, but it's well worth it. We get bout 150 pages of a college kid's diary, 400 pages of 3 or 4 page vignettes from about 20 different narrators, & then another 100 pages of the diary from the beginning.

Roberto Bolano: Amulet
Narrated by one of the many narrators of The Savage Detectives, this follows the "Mother of Mexican Poetry" through about 25 years of Mexican literary life... flashing between the ever changing present & the time she spends hiding from the military in a college bathroom stall. It's a much simpler read than The Savage Detectives (& much shorter), but well worth it.

Roberto Bolano: The Romantic Dogs
One of 2 collections of poetry I read this summer. Again, I can't praise Bolano enough. He started as a poet in Mexico, but refused to publish (claiming that publishing for for bougie suckers), but once he had some kids in Spain, he realized some cash wouldn't be a bad thing so we get a bunch of his stuff all @ once. The translations are only just now coming out... & they're coming fast & furiously. Read him!

Paul Beatty: Joker, Joker, Deuce
This is the other book of poetry I read this summer. Like w/ all of Beatty's novels, it's hilarious, heartbreaking, & loaded w/ pop-culture minutiae. He actually has 2 books of poetry, but they're both out of print already. His other one was going for $150 though, so I haven't had a chance to get that yet. If you're into the post-modern poets, give both of these guys a go.

Paul Beatty: Tuff
Paul Beatty provides a great example of the difference between st & 3rd person narratives. In his other 2 novels, we get 1st person narrators telling great, sarcastic stories. This one, though, is a 3rd person story about a young thug in Harlem who ends up running for city council. It's good, but had he stuck w/ the 1st person of his 1st book (he went back to it w/ his 3rd book), this would have been better. Interestingly, writing classes & writers' workshops often suggest 3rd person as an easier, more useful way to write. Here we see that, @ least as far as Beatty is concerned, that isn't always the case.

Colson Whitehead: Sag Harbor
Brand new in paperback, I'm teaching it this fall, so I gave it a go. He's not quite as pop-culture oriented as Beatty, not quite as flowingly poetic as Whitman, not quite as nostalgic as Jean Shepherd, & not quite as political as Ishmael Reed. If it wasn't for the running political commentary on race relations on Long Island during the 1980s, I'd say it would make perfect beach reading. As it stands, it'll be a good book on which to end the semester. It's nothing too weird or revolutionary, but it's fun... plus, members of UTFO make a cameo appearance!

Michael Cox: The Meaning of Night
This seems to have so much potential, but doesn't quite cut it. I struggled w/ this for months, thinking it would get better, but it never really did. I bet it'd make a fun movie though. It's narrated in flashbacks by a murderer explaining why he killed a man, but the flashbacks don't quite hold together, & the pacing is a bit slow. I'll give you the link, but I don't really recommend it.

Ishmael Reed: Barack Obama & the Jim Crow Media: The Return of the Nigger Breakers
If the title doesn't do it for you, nothing will. It's a collection of essays concerning the media treatment of Obama, comparing it to the treatment of slaves by overseers. At times, it's a bit over-the-top, but in general, it's pretty amazing.

Jean Baudrillard: Simulacra & Simulation
I'd been sitting on this for a long time, but was a little intimidated so I finally got to it recently. I was right to be intimidated, because it's a pretty tough go, but it's worth it. It's fun stuff. A great Borgesian look @ art, literature, & pop-culture.

Flann O'Brien: At Swim-Two-Birds
We started w/ an Irishman, so we'll end w/ 1 too. Close friends w/ James Joyce, O'Brien lets his post-modern flag fly in this weird-ass book. I love it. A college student in Dublin is writing a book about a guy writing a book in which his characters revolt & put him on trial because he's a shit-ass writer. It moves between the 3 different narratives running @ the same time, while lampooning Irish history & mythology. Word up!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oliver Kuttner & The X Prize

His car, looking like something out of THX-1138 or Logan's Run, or some other rarely seen '70s sci/fi film, won the coveted X-Prize, a 10 Million dollar award given to environmentally friendly automobiles. His car weighs in @ just over 800 pounds & gets a whopping 110 miles to the gallon. It's even got a back seat & everything so 4 people can sit (albeit probably not so comfortably) in this thing. Furthermore, test runs were made @ the Michigan International Speedway so we get to call this a local interest story too! Here's the story from Morning Edition. Check it out! And then you can check out & edit the Wikipedia page about it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Arsenal Highlight Series

I don't know why I've never done this before, but better late than never I suppose. We'll start today & see how long it lasts. Each week, after an Arsenal FC match, you'll be able to find the official Arsenal highlight footage here. Of course, when they lose 5-0 @ home to Chelsea, we may accidentally forget to post that week. I'm not going to bore you w/ some bullshit Youtube, fan-edited reel set to some shit-ass Euro-trance stuff though. I'll only be posting once the official stuff is released. After the video plays, you can scroll through the back footage to find the Arsenal highlights from the 1st 3 matches as well. Now, enjoy Arsenal's 4-1 thrashing of Bolton w/ goals from Koscielny, Chamakh, Song, Vela, & Bolton's Elmander. Also, you'll be able to see Gary Cahill's less than red-cardish red-card. don't say I never did anything for you... enjoy!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Begging Your Indulgences...

I'd like to post another Whitey Morgan post, but this one is about this evening

Stephanie is spending the weekend w/ her mom while her mom's husband is out of town. Tonight she took the kids w/ her so I had a night of pseudo-bachelorhood. W/ my night, I grabbed a tempeh burger @ Sidetrack before heading out to see Whitey & the 78s. The catch here is that they were playing @ the Scorpions MC clubhouse between South Lyon & Milford. It meant another Saturday night w/ a long drive to see those guys, but more importantly, it meant I was hanging out @ a motorcycle club clubhouse. I'm sure they're fine upstanding citizens (probably 9-5 yuppies), but I felt out of place like a mother fucker! I know it was all in my imagination, but I felt as though everyone was looking at me like I was a narc or something. I enjoyed a PBR, tolerated 1/2 a can of Miller Lite & hung out in the corner while watching the band. Had I known anyone, it would have been different, but I'm gad I went because I'd never been tot a MC clubhouse nor had I ever gone out on my own like that. Whenever I've gone by myself to see a band or whatever, I've always known I would run into friends, so this was a good experience. If only I had more leather.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lovable Loser & No Account Boozers

We went out last night to see Whitey & the 78s. Stephanie had never seen them, & I hadn't seen them in a couple years. They were playing @ the Inverness Inn which is about 1/2 way between Dexter & Chelsea on N. Territorial. It's not in Butt Fuck Egypt, but you can see it if you squint. It's a fun roadhouse style place w/ a nice mixture of locals (who knew people lived there?) & die-hard fans. I'd definitely make the trek again, but next time I see them will probably be in Ypsi. Jeremy said they'll be playing the Savoy in November & I expect to see many of you there.

Last night, they opened w/ "Me & Paul" then "Swingin' Doors," "Lonesome, Orn'ry & Mean," and "Workingman Blues." They moved away from the covers and did a few off of their 1st CD, played some new stuff that absolutely smokes, threw in some more Waylon & Merle covers including "Mama Tried" & "Sing Me Back Home." They played a couple Hank Williams tunes tunes too ("Your Cheatin' Heart" & something I didn't know).

Their new CD comes out in October & they've singed w/ Bloodshot Records, a record label that has seen the likes of Ryan Adams, Neko Case, Whiskeytown, & The Old 97s and is the current home of The Bottle Rockets, The Detroit Cobras, & Rosie Flores. The album was recorded in Woodstock @ Levon Helm's studio, & Larry Campbell (formerly of Bob Dylan's band & Phil & Friends... & Grammy winning producer of Levon's newest records) appears on a couple tracks. It should be amazing.


"Another Round"

Check out more of their stuff on the Whitey Morgan & the 78s on Myspace and then you can pre-order the new CD here:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Spacey-a-thon Post #5: Another 8 Reviews

The Men Who Stare @ Goats:
We watched this back in the beginning of May, & it's the 1 that started this whole ridiculous marathon. I wrote about it then, but I feel that a quick mention of it now is a good way to ensure it's connected to the official reviews. It's a fantastically weird movie. Great cast... great plot... great look @ the insanity inherent in the military.

A co-worker kept telling me that this is cool, but we only got around to it a couple weeks ago. I really dig it. It's even weirder than The Men Who Stare @ Goats. See it. A man is alone on a moon mining base & Spacey does the voice of his companion robot. Things go wrong & we find ourselves deep in the middle of a nice existential discussion involving cloning @ subjectivity.

This is about 3 years old & takes a close look into the Florida recount of 2000. Spacey plays a lawyer for Gore's people & we get John Hurt & Tom Wilkinson as Warren Christopher & James Baker. Oddly, 2 great British actors play the former Secretaries of State... & turn in great performances. It reawakened all the anger that lies deep w/in me concerning that election which I'm sure was part of the point, but all sides are considered in a pretty balanced way. Certainly more balanced than anything Fair & Balanced that we've become used to on Fox.

Ordinary Decent Criminal:
We watched this 1 the other night. It's a little caper flick that takes place in Dublin w/ Spacey as a master criminal w/ an Irish accent. It's OK, but not great. The capers are fun, but the cops are a but 1 dimensional & it seems to have trouble figuring out if it's an action/comedy or some sort of arty thing.

Henry & June:
The 1st ever NC-17 film is also the 1st Spacey film (other than See No Evil, Hear No Evil) that I ever saw. It's as good as I remember, but the pacing is a bit off. Maybe 10 minutes could be cut off. It's a fun look @ the writers' lives in Paris between the wars. Although, it's always made me want to read Henry Miller, I've never actually been able to get through Tropic of Cancer... it's more self-indulgent than this blog.

Glengarry Glen Ross:
I'd never seen this 1 before. The cast is amazing, but I'm sure you're all aware of that. I think I may be the last person on Earth not to have seen this. It's cool, but I wonder if the dialogue w/in each scene is more important than the overall plot which doesn't really go anywhere. BTW, Jack Lemmon is fantastic. Who knew? I think Some Like it Hot may be the only other Jack Lemmon film I've seen. That's kind of embarrassing.

A Bugs Life:
We watched this 1 w/ the kids a couple months ago. I'd seen it when Solstice & Aiden were little. It's good, but it's no Toy Story.

L.A. Confidential:
Awesome. Like The Usual Suspects, it's 1 of Spacey's defining films. I hadn't seen it in years, but I doubt I'll go that long w/o it again. The hard boiled story is fun w/ great writing & a fantastic performance by James Cromwell.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Afternoon in the "D" w/ the Kids

We were going to go to Lansing today but Isaiah is sick & Stephanie had a headache so I decided to do a little syllabizing & then take them out around here. we grabbed lunch @ American Coney Island. I'd been to Lafayette many time when I was a kid but I'd never been to American. People seem to have a preference, but I don't quite understand the difference... same owners, same food, same atmosphere, same block. Apparently, American beat Lafayette on some Travel Channel show last week; I didn't see it, I've never even heard of the show, so I'm not too impressed w/ the victory. The food, on the other hand, was great. Chili fries & a pair of coneys. I was almost done before I realized they had beer. Oh well... next time.After we ate, wee hit the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. I had never actually been there before... it's amazing! I've sent my students there many times, but the only time I got there was just into the gift shop... never around the actual exhibits. Solstice & Aiden were really into it, but Aiden was (justifiably) creeped out by the Slave Ship exhibit. There was also an exhibit celebrating big, colorful women's hats. I wasn't quite as interested in that, but it was alright. I can't wait to go back. Anyone interested in a trip down there?Or a trip out to Chelsea on Saturday night for Whitey Morgan at the Inverness Inn. The show starts @ 9:00 & I think it's outdoors. I haven't seen them in a few years, & they have a new CD coming out next month, so it should be a fun time.