Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bizarro Ben Stiller

Jill & I saw the movie "Greenberg" with Ben Stiller last night.  Avoid this movie at all costs.  Depressing and annoying.  The only redeeming quality is the acting of Greta Gerwig & Rhys Ifans.
Greenberg's got problems, but we didn't care about him at all, because he's just another a-hole in a world with plenty of them.  I don't need to see a 107 minute movie about one.
This gets ½ star out of 5.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Yes, I know no one forced me to be on facebook in the first place.  And I'm not trying to make a big deal out of getting off of there. 
a) It's cluttered. I don't care that so-and-so likes the Outer Timbuktu Anti-Bullying League.  And I know I can filter this stuff.  But why should I?
b) It's Borg-like.  Zuckerberg will assimilate you.
c) It's addictive. This is why I got rid of my teevee.  The face is just another form of channel-surfing, IMHO.

Do something constructive. Write a poem, a story, a blog, something INTERESTING.  Make some jewelry, plant a garden, sing a song.

Later, face.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sprawl? No, small.

  I've been thinking a lot about suburban sprawl (again), especially after watching James Howard Kunstler's talk on  Mr. Kunstler's book "The Long Emergency" covered the topic well, along with related subjects such as peak oil.  It has been an essential issue to be resolved for many years, not just because gas has hit $3 a gallon again.
  On a related note, if anyone has read Bill McKibben's new book "Eaarth", let me know what you think of it (I haven't read it yet). Also, if you attended his talk at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee last night (Friday, April 16th), let me know how that went.
Happy Traveling.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rainy Days and Tuesdays in South America.

  OK, so replacing the thermostat for the furnace/AC has turned into a huge pain, so I'm taking a break to do this.  (Why does my house have to have so much old, unadaptable crap in it?)

After long consideration (and delays because of the Irish lit, poetry, music, etc. obsession), I'm beginning more adventures into South  American literature.
  First up is Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges, who is reminding me what a combination of pure imagination and scholarly knowledge can conjure up.  I'm glad I have an Oxford dictionary and a basic autodidactic knowledge of 19th & 20th century literature, philosophy, and history. After only 55 pages, I am spellbound.  There are echoes of Lord Dunsany here in the fantastical entities and ideas.
  Not having much background in this realm, I would welcome further suggestions (and comparisons, if any apply).

Next up will probably be The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares.  I started this one last summer, got distracted, and didn't pick it up again.  What I remember of it is that it was mysterious and unique.  This one comes highly recommended by old friend Jay Johnson and is another in a long line of NYRB classics added to my library over the last five years.

After finding the music of Dervish oddly conducive to the reading of Borges,  the next music to play as accompaniment will be Coconut Rock from Ocote Soul Sounds and Adrian Quesada.

After Morel it'll most likely be time to dive into the works of Eduardo Galeano, recommended by Pauls Toutonghi (after his author appearance at the old Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop in Bay View) and pal Joe Lisberg.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Evil April Third

  The second book in Walter Mosely's "Leonid McGill" series, Known To Evil (Riverhead, $25.95, hardcover), is definitely worth a look.  Leonid is a former mob fixer in New York City who's trying to keep straight while running his PI agency.  He's enlisted by the shadowy "most powerful man in New York" to find a mysterious missing young woman.  The twists and turns the plot takes are highly imaginative.  Recommended, but I'd wait for the paperback on this one.  The first book in the series, The Long Fall, was released in trade paperback in February. You should most assuredly read that title first.

  Benjamin Black is returning this month with the third book in his "Dr. Quirke" series, Elegy For April (Henry Holt, $25.00, hardcover).  This book is highly atmospheric, taking place during a damp, foggy mid-1950s February in Dublin.  However, the characters and plot in no way take a back seat to the setting.
  The doctor's daughter Phoebe tells him that her friend, Dr. April Latimer,
has been missing for over a week.  April is known as a wild girl, and her disappearance is blown off by many, saying that she's probably just run off with a man.  April's creepy, high-profile family especially want nothing to do with this, having disowned her years before.
  Included in April's circle of friends are Phoebe; Jimmy Minor, an annoying reporter for a Dublin paper, Patrick Ojukwu, an African studying to become a doctor, and Isabel Galloway, an actress at the Gate Theater.  Suspicion falls upon Patrick, naturally, this being mid-century Ireland.
  The black humor, dourness, and persistence of Dr. Quirke are unique and come through as his battle with drink becomes a huge problem whilst attempting to solve what happened to April, a junior doctor at Quirke's hospital.
  I've read this one twice already; it's that good.  Read the first two in the series. They are outstanding as well.

  PI Mike Kelly is returning for his third case in The Third Rail (Knopf, $24.95, hardcover), by Michael Harvey.  Taking place in 2010 Chicago, this one is a thrill ride on Chicago's El, where a deranged killer (or two?) is indiscriminately shooting riders and then moving on to other sites in Chicago for more carnage.  All the while he's taunting Kelly, who gets pulled into the case in more ways than one.  Yes, this time, it's personal!
  Images from his childhood come rushing back as the killer lets Kelly know that he's been watching him for years.  It's then revealed to him that the madman has kidnapped Kelly's girlfriend. What will he do next?
  The details of contemporary Chicago and Kelly's Irish-American background add a lot of flavor to this fine entry to the series.  Read 'em all.
  Here's a trailer for The Third Rail.

  See youse next time.