Friday, October 30, 2009

The Interrogative Mood

I've been reading this book over lunch, parked in my parked car, seat laid back low. Reading way down low is best for my own absorption of this book. The sentences are gulped in espresso-sized spoons. One swallow. Ummmm. Followed by another. It is truly original and, like a fine scotch or port, it should be sipped slowly and between long bouts of thought.

I encourage you all to buy this book as you will undoubtedly be marking it up if not adding your own "entries". How Padgett Powell can use the specific technique (some would say trick) over the course of 176 pages and keep you continually enmeshed is a wonder of writing.

It's an amazing book, without parallel in my (limited) reading experience.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not Fogetaboutit-ing!

Pouring gasoline on the fire, a certain NY-based scribe opined that Phillie Phans "chickened out" when they visited the not-so-hallowed-anymore bleachers of Yanqui Stadium. He even quoted a Philadelphian (a turncoat, to boot) that "New York fans are arrogant and obnoxious, Philly fans are needy and obnoxious."

This fan, "Howard Goldstein is a bleacher denizen and a lawyer. He lives in Philly and owns season tickets to both stadiums. In the Bronx, he is a Bleacher Creature wearing a Yankee cap in Section 203. In Philly for Game 3, he'll probably wear a red cap." May Mr. Goldstein (the worst sort of creature, a dual town fan) and other Yanqui fans find Games #3 and #4, within the warm and inviting confines of Citizen's Bank Park, to their liking as they realize that the Bronx Cheer is a mere whimper to Philadelphia's Sow-Philly Snear.


H1N1 & The Elbow Bump of Peace

In a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article regarding the Swine Flu and the methods of avoiding/spreading it, a few sentences jumped out.
Visitors to an open house in Squirrel Hill last weekend were greeted by the homeowner, but not with a handshake.

"We're doing elbow bumps," Janet Anti told her guests, offering the outside of her bent arm. "Because of the national emergency," she added, and everyone nodded knowingly.

Then later on in the article,
As for the elbow bump, it hasn't caught on widely, but some houses of worship are encouraging congregants to find other ways of greeting each other.

As a spotty participant in organized religious events, I squirm like a worm when the time comes around at (Catholic) Mass when the Handshake of Peace ceremony rolls around. Symbolic gestures are just not my thing and the Handshake was at the top of my list for activities best avoided. Yeah, yeah, I know, paint me in full color "Anti-Social". While you're brushing me, let me say I was never a big fan of the folk masses either. Kumbaya, indeed.

So, this "ban" on handshakes and possible switch to elbow-bumping has made me curious, if only to attend once just to see urban-challenged adults trying to bump each other without blackening each other's eyes.

Whas up, J.C.?

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Note to Current & Future "Helicopter" Parents....

...from Maurice Sendak.

"Go to Hell".

Love it. Absolutely. Positively. Love it!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Coming Soon to WWW.WVUD.ORG near you... the latest installment of The Morning After. Tune in this Sunday from 9:00 to 12:00 EST for 3 hours of commercial-free, harangue-free, chock-full-of-music radio on 91.3 FM or (better sound quality)

New-ish music. Old-ish music. Maybe even nebbish music. Who knows? Deep into late Saturday night planning and then early Sunday morning playing. And, at (302)831-2701, all requests are considered and some are actually fulfilled.

My version of this show, staffed by 6 different d.j.'s, tends to start out low and slow building to an eardrum-bursting conclusion at the top of the morning. Felling out of sorts on Sunday morning? Take in a listen and all your sorts will be re-aligned or at least significantly jostled.


Twiddling One's Thumbs Activity

This previous summer, I had a chance to realize one of my long-held dreams, which was to visit Lake Louise and its low-key spectacular hotel. Just in case I win the lottery or come into money from a relative I've never heard of, I decided to apply for the Fairmont Hotel card, so that the next time (I'm considering converting to Hinduism to ensure there's a next time, even if it's not in my current time) we go to Lake Louise, I'll be able to get a special rate.

Well, Folks, the application only cost you the amount of time it takes to fill out, so if you feel like doing something that will keep your change in your pocket and yet give you a (perhaps false) sense of grandiosity, I suggest you get yourself one of these cards.

Why bother with another piece of plastic that you may never use?

Well, scroll down about half-way on the application and highlight the category "Title".

I've filled enough card applications in my lifetime such that filling another one is automaton-ish. Same old..same old. Well, Fairmont Hotel's stopped me in my tracks.

Who would have thought that I could title myself Prince, Archbishop, Viscount, Sultan, Prime Minister, Maestro, even Yg Di Pertuan Agung? I settled on "Count" as there's a barely tenuous grip my surname has on a self-annointed royal family back in the Old Country. My father, as a joke and as a term of endearment by his friends was nicknamed "Grof", Croatian for "Count". With his sense of self-inflicted humor, he was laughing somewhere as I hovered my mouse over and then clicked on "Count".

Can't wait to receive the plastic acknowledgement of my royal standing.

"Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise? Yes, please make a reservation for 2 for Count Darko....."

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Brain Love

While some of us are loading up our brain cells and computer memories with data to concoct the winning combination for this week's football fantasy game/lottery pick ticket/poker game with the boys/baseball playoff games, a few other more-highly oriented people are focusing their brain matter on the important things in life.
Namely, Love.
Or, at the worst, a Hot Date.

Seems our higher schools of learning are not just places to sleep/eat/drin...and drink some more. There's some kanoodling going on.

What better way to describe this proposal than brain-dating? Who woulda thunk that electroencephalography and/or magnetoencephalography could all lead to a love match? Only a CMU-er, I guess...

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Juliet, Naked - Not Just for the Hornby Obsessed

Finished Juliet, Naked late Friday night, with a decelerating rush. I was getting to the end reluctantly, sometimes flipping 10-15 pages back to slow down my finish. For all of the lukewarm and lackluster reviews, Nick Hornby's latest came through strong, clear, kind but not maudlin, and, IMHO, highly recommended. It's been compared to his High Fidelity, a comparison that seems stretched. The exuberance and the self-deluded assuredness of righteousness of youth has given way to the late middle-aged acceptance of doubt and acceptance. It is beautifully crafted and chock full of Hornby bits, those quippy sentences sure to come up in your conversation later on.
It is a story of obsession based on minuteness and the instability of credos one may build one's life on. It's a novel of life's goals too quickly realized with fall from grace being more a slow skid to mediocrity than a bang of a thud re-enforcing the height.
As is his usual, Mr. Hornby spends little ink developing or describing the lay of the land; it's the characters that drive the story and it's the dialogue that has you re-reading passages. He is, as usual, delicious. He is, as expected, aging well into another stage in his life.

(Just a side-note, I think Janet Maslin's review of Mr. Hornby's book is pretty much dead on. She's a reviewer with a soft heart for odd and interesting character-based books as evidenced by this review of Tim Pages' Parallel Play.

Note Bene: Funny, this. In "Juliet, Naked", one of the main characters is passionately involved with a blog which is centered around another of the main characters. At various times, there are mainly 15 people who are participating/commenting on that blog. Mr. Hornby, although having a blog of his own (mainly intended as a promotional device), makes it clear through the voices of 2 of the 3 main characters that he's not a real fan of blogging nor of the Internet and, out of left field here, nor of accountants.
Punch in "Juliet, Naked" and you'll have 1,510,000 Google entries/queries. Who's the lion? Who's the tamer?


Thursday, October 01, 2009

To My Dear Verging on Pertinence Readers,

Greetings from Juliet, Naked land. Having a great time. Wish you were (which you may be) here.



A Luddite - I've Had It With Modern "Conveniences"

I'm getting one of these. Soon. Soon, as in I-wish-I-had-it-2-Days-Ago soon. Call me a Luddite. Go ahead. I welcome the label. I'll go out and buy a t-shirt emblazoned with a large L and I'll wear that t-shirt proudly.

I'm not what you'd call a leading edge kind of guy. Slavic sensibilities dictate that I stand on the sidewalk and watch the parade of fearless leading-edgers straggle by, all cut up, bleeding, and limb-less. Let these curious, daring, masochistic types soldier on, I say. Me, I'll wait until the fallout of new products has been cleaned up leaving items proven to work.

So, I thought it was safe a few years back to venture into the electronic memopads, the Palm Pilot world. I've had my Palm Pilot II for about 8 years now, generally pleased with the single purpose I'd used it for, namely replacing a compressed and tattered memo pad wadded up in various backpockets. But, the hiccups with the PP II were getting more unpleasant. The mysterious disappearance of entries, the total disappearance of all entries, the fast battery drain, the screen one couldn't read in any dim light.
Then, 2 days ago, a complete shutdown. Batteries zonked, data disappeared, on/off tab inconsistently working and, horror of horrors, I hadn't backed up the PP II in over 3 months as my barely-1-yr-old Dell, nicknamed Dreck, crashed. I was not a happy camper.

Streadily over the last 3-4 months, I have had it with the galaxy of electronica; I'm setting off into a different universe (how's this astronomy analogy holding up? Inaccurate, right?). I'm tired of backing up data. I'm tired of punching stuff in and than re-punching as my fingers clumsily spell out things differently than what my brain is telling them. I'm tired of loading batteries upon batteries into things that are alleged "life" support devices. What the heck's wrong with a manual operation? My handwriting's gone to hell from disuse. Penmanship was next to Godliness when I was a tyke; now it's totally jumblethwacked.

So, with hopes that my mind does remember some of those passwords, codes, and pseudonyms I've devised for my sites, my charge cards, my bank, my zen chants, I'll be jotting them down into this book. A book, which will be permanently chained to my body so that my manual auxiliary memory will be close to me.

Now, if I could only find a replacement for this, I'd be a smiling fool. Think this may work? I've got spools and spools of string somewhere down in the basement..

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