Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bookslut

One of our friends just got a really cool job. Congrats to Caroline on being named managing editor of Bookslut, effective June 1 (I think). Bookslut is a lit mag/review site/Chicago literary hub. Click here to check out the story in the Tribune, and click here to check out Bookslut. You'll be able to find the Bookslut link on One More Cup of Coffee For the Road in the "Sites You Should Look at Every Day" section, or whatever the hell it is called, from now on. Good job, Caroline. You now have many, many more readers than the four that I have.

Well, that was nice.

In my dream I was walking down the street with a girl. We were holding hands and walking, and I was looking at our hands. I looked up and there was a dark-haired man in front of us; he wore a beard. He pulled a gun on us and pointed it at my face. I woke up.

Monday, April 27, 2009

You don't know me. Shut up, you don't know me. Squeal like a pig when you...
























It's the fucking Swine Flu. This happens every couple of years; last time it was the damn avian flu, or whatever. It's not the fucking plague, and we're not all going to die. Nobody you know is going to get the swine flu. I think about .00000000000000000000000000000000001% of the population is going to be affected by this. So let's all FREAK OUT. Let's all start TALKING ABOUT THE SWINE FLU. NOBODY GOES TO WORK; NOBODY GOES TO SCHOOL; NOBODY LEAVES THE APARTMENT. You probably ARE more likely to contract the actual bubonic plague/black death/whatever, which fizzled out... what, 5 centuries ago?... than you are to catch the goddamn swine flu. Let alone die from it. But whatever -- let's all FREAK OUT, let's all start talking about BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN VACCINES, let's all look at the maps of the U.S. with the little circles of Swine Flu infections that get BIGGER AND BIGGER as the news people project the TERRIBLE DEATH OF HUMANKIND FROM THE SWINE FLU. Clue: that little map with the circles (that get bigger and bigger the farther ahead the news people look into time, until the entire country is covered in one big circle)? It's the same map that they used the last time we had a deadly plague kill us all -- the avian flu. And it's the same map that they used that one time when that other plague killed everyone. Seriously, it's the fucking Swine Flu.


FREAK OUT.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Summer/Autumn Lit Challenge

On the heels of DeWolf's announcements about his summer projects, I thought that I would tell you what I have been/am/will be doing. As you may know, each semester I undertake what I have dubbed a "Lit Challenge." In a Lit Challenge, you select one writer and use his or her biography as your night read (because we all know that biographies make the best night reads, right?); for your daytime/pleasure reading, you read as many (and, hopefully, all) of that writer's (major) works. During the fall/winter of '08, I did Joyce; during the winter/spring of '09, I did Hemingway. Here is what these Lit Challenges boil down to:

The Joyce Lit Challenge:
Nighttime bio: James Joyce, by Richard Ellman
Start with: Dubliners
Then: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Then: Homer's The Odyssey (you need to read this before reading Ulysses)
Then: Ulysses
Optional: Finnegans Wake

The Hemingway Lit Challenge:
Nighttime bio: Any bio except James R. Mellow's Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences (I thought Mellow was a crap writer and an idiot)
Start with: In Our Time
Then: The Sun Also Rises
Then: A Farewell to Arms
Then: Death in the Afternoon
*At this point, you should be just about finished with your bio. Switch your nighttime read to A Moveable Feast
Then: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Then: The Old Man and the Sea
Throughout the challenge, you should be reading as many of Hemingway's short stories as you can, whenever you have a half-hour or so to spare.
Optional: To Have and Have Not

I just finished my Hemingway challenge; actually, I should say that I just ended my Hemingway challenge. I made it about 100 pages into For Whom the Bell Tolls and decided that I was burned-out on Hemingway, and that I needed to finish up the challenge. So I scrapped that book and picked up The Old Man and the Sea. I only made it about 60 pages into that one because I was so burned out on Hemingway that I couldn't handle it anymore (and hopefully I will have reviews of all of the ones that I did finish posted soon). Also, I had finally figured out what my next Lit Challenge will be, and I was really excited to get started on it.

Before I tell you what my next Lit Challenge is, I will tell you what I ended up thinking about Ernest Hemingway.

In one word: overrated.

But he is still great, and he is a genius. His greatest strengths are in his stylistic abilities (fear adjectives, write short sentences, don't say anything that you don't need to say, the iceberg theory, etc.) and in his ability to write dialogue (although I do have some issues with that one). His greatest weaknesses are his plots, his absolute inability to create characters that resemble females realistically in any way whatsoever (his females are ridiculous fantasy-caricatures), and his tendency to overdo his trademark bravado. When it comes to Hemingway it's the shorter, the better. The vignettes he included in his debut, In Our Time, are really his best work. The longer a Hemingway piece gets, the more it seems like an over-worded vignette. But...reviews later (hopefully).

And now for my next Lit Challenge. It is:

Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Dostoyevsky of course lived in Russia during the 19th Century; he wrote Crime and Punishment, Notes from Underground, and The Brothers Karamazov. I am just beginning the Dostoevsky challenge, and so I am not sure exactly how the challenge will play out. Here is what I am thinking so far, though:

The Dostoyevsky Challenge
Nighttime bio is the Mochulsky bio referenced in the "Currently Reading" section above.
Start with: Poor People (or is it Poor Folk?)
Then: possibly The House of the Dead
Then: Notes From Underground
Then: Crime and Punishment
Then: The Gambler
Then: The Idiot
Then: The Possessed
Then: The Brothers Karamazov

Obviously, it would take me about a year to get through all of these books (and he's got more, too), so I will have to make some cuts (unless I can manage to keep this going for a year or more).

So that's what's on tap. I'm excited (and, as I was told recently by someone who I had just told about my Lit Challenges, a nerd).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why Are You Successful: the Charlie Sheen Edition























I look at you and I see a drunk guy wearing a Hawaiian shirt on a boat. Also in that picture is your wife, who is thinking about divorcing you. You have a six-pack of Beck's in the refrigerator, don't you. True story: My friend used to work on your show, and he once drove you to the dentist. You got caught in a traffic jam along the way. You told him to buy guns. You are an even bigger loser than the other guy on that show, which is saying a lot. I've never had a conversation in which any of the following phrases have been uttered: "I like Charlie Sheen." "Charlie Sheen is talented." "Charlie Sheen is funny." "Charlie Sheen has a redeeming quality." You're like that guy you knew a long time ago who you think about now and say to yourself, "Yeah, that guy was kind of scary." One of your eyebrows is stuck in eternal-furrow mode, and the other is stuck in "Hmm, that's interesting" mode. If I was hanging out with a group of girls and we saw you, you would have an inescapable nickname within thirty seconds. It would probably be "Brow," but when I talked to you I would make it sound like I was saying "Bro," although it would have that California surfer accent that would make it sound like I was saying "Brahhhh." "What's up, Brahhh." But I would really be saying, "What's up, Brow." You would try to hang out with us because we would all be laughing, but you wouldn't realize that we were laughing at the fact that you aren't realizing that we are laughing at you. Eventually, I would start making fun of you directly -- to your face. You would let it go, though, and you'd stick around because you'd think I was kidding. I wouldn't be, though; that's why it's extra funny. Years later, even, one of those friends would ask me if I remembered "Brow (Brahhh)," but I would have no idea what they were talking about. You watch Ferguson, don't you. You listen to Creed, don't you. You've been to a Britney Spears concert. You don't spell well. You get into some cocaine sometimes. You have pinched a waitress' ass. You have a cat. The cat's name is Bongos. You blow pot smoke into your cat's face. You have been to jail. You have a son you've never met. You have your own storage space; there is a tent in there. It's blue, and it's never been used. You keep asking people to go camping. You talk about Kobe a lot. You have the bad Korn records, and you don't have the good Korn records. You listen to Dave Matthews. You keep calling him Dave. You ask chicks to go to Dave shows with you; some of them go with you, and this sustains you. You take vacations to Florida by yourself. You ask people what they are doing three Saturdays from now because it's your birthday on that day. No, not this Saturday -- three Saturdays from now. You get your haircut at Supercuts. You have had the same really short and meticulously groomed sideburns for twenty years. You own a pair of white sneakers. You call them sneakers. You call people the next morning to tell them how hungover you are. You watch your own show. You frequently mispronounce the names of athletes who play for your favorite sports team. Every one knows that you are only a fan of that particular sports team because you are trying to fit in, and it's awkward. You had a sub-woofer installed in your car.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April 8: December 8, Jr.?



Today is of course the fifteenth anniversary of the day that an electrician discovered Kurt Cobain's suicide, and I just realized that today has a weird connection to December 8. April 8, in addition to being the anniversary of the Cobain discovery, is the birthday of John Lennon's son, Julian. Weird?

The next year is going to be tough for me: I am going to be 27 (the rock star death age), and will have to negotiate not one but TWO magnetic death days.

Kurt.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My 2009 MLB Predictions


Spring is here again, and that means that it is time to start watching the White Sox every night, to start making fun of your Cubs-fan friends every day, to start actively hating the Yankees and the Red Sox, to start passively roting for the Cardinals, and to start blowing off important things and going to day-games instead. Here are my predictions for the 2009 MLB season, which starts tonight.

A.L. Central

Division winner: Chicago White Sox

Runner Up: Minnesota Twins

Last place: Detroit Tigers


Most people aren't picking the White Sox to do much this year...but more on them later. The Twinkies are always there in the end. A lot of people are picking Cleveland to win this division this year... but everybody does that every year, and Cleveland always chokes. The Royals will have a productive year by getting out of last place -- a spot that will be occupied by the Detroit Tigers, who will not get out of the free-fall that they started on last year.


A.L. East

Division winner: New York Yankees

Runner-up: Boston Red Sox

Last place: Baltimore Orioles


I hate the Yankees, but they -- and especially Derek Jeter -- are going to be more motivated than they have been in years because they will definitely be wanting to christen the new Yankee Stadium with some World Series champagne; they are going to play hard and will have the most wins in all of baseball this year. I hate the Red Sox too (or, as I like to call them, "The Yankees, Jr."), but they will continue being a pain in the ass, taking the A.L. Wildcard with 90-plus wins. Tampa Bay, who won the division last year, just won't be able to stay with the Yankees and Red Sawks all year. Toronto will be a .500 team, and the Orioles might be the worst team in baseball this year.


A.L. West

Division Winner: L.A.A. Angels of A,

Runner-up: Oakland A's

Last place: Seattle


The Angels really have no competition in this division; they could take September off and still win it. Oakland is supposedly going to be better than they were last year, but they've got no chance. Texas sucks, and so does Seattle -- although I'd really like to see Ken Griffey, Jr. have a nice year in his return to the Mariners.


N.L. Central

Division winner: Houston Astros

Runner-up: Chicago Cubs

Last place: Pittsburgh Pirates


Every one on the planet is picking the Cubs to win this division and Houston to finish in second-to-last place. But I think that the Astros' signing of Ivan Rodriguez is really going to make a huge difference for Houston -- especially their pitching staff (and yes, I do realize that this is a pretty crazy pick). Listen to some of the names on the Astros: Ivan Rodriguez; Roy Oswalt; Miguel Tejada; Carlos Lee; Lance Berkman. Sure, their pitching staff looks shaky... but I think Ivan Rodriuez is going to be the difference in this division. I think also that the Cubs are in for a let-down season -- one in which their key players under-perform and they miss the playoffs. The Cardinals will compete; the Brewers, Pirates, and Reds will not.


N.L. East

Division winner: New York Mets

Runner-up: Philadelphia Phillies

Last place: Washington Nationals


The Mets really did themselves a favor by signing closer Francisco Rodriguez in the off-season. I think that he is the reason that they finally stop choking the division away at the end of the year. The Phillies look good, too, and they'll take the N.L. Wild Card. The Braves will be there for most of the year, but won't be able to keep pace at the end. The Marlins will compete for half of the season, and Washington is going to blow.


N.L. West

Division winner: L.A. Dodgers

Runner-up: Arizona Diamondbacks

Last place: San Diego Padres


The Dodgers have Manny. The Diamondbacks are going to be pretty good. San Fran might be pretty decent. Colorado and San Diego are going to blow.


A.L.D.S.

White Sox over Red Sox

Yankees over L.A.A.A. Angels


A.L.C.S.

White Sox over Yankees


N.L.D.S.

Mets over Houston

Dodgers over Philly


N.L.C.S.

Dodgers over Mets


World Series

50 year anniversary special: White Sox over Dodgers.