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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Soccer Fatwa

I read about this soccer fatwa in a recent Harper's and found it fascinating. Amusing? Scary? Whatever it is it's definitely worth a read.

Final 2005 Reading List

Here's the full list of books that I read this year. 57 in total. More than one a week, not too shabby :-)

  1. What's the Matter with Kansas - Thomas Frank
  2. How We Are Hungry - Dave Eggers
  3. The Wilco Book - Wilco
  4. The Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby
  5. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim - David Sedaris
  6. Ticket To Ride - Larry Kane
  7. Hobart #4 - Various
  8. McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #15 - Various
  9. Forced Entries - Jim Carroll
  10. Imperial Hubris - Michael Scheuer
  11. The Plot Against America - Philip Roth
  12. Platform - Michel Houellebecq
  13. Slapstick - Kurt Vonnegut
  14. Fever Pitch - Nick Hornby
  15. Poets on the Peaks - John Suiter
  16. Cannery Row - John Steinbeck
  17. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs - Chuck Klosterman
  18. Waxwings - Jonathan Raban
  19. So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star - Jacob Slichter
  20. Everything Is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer
  21. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail - Hunter S. Thompson
  22. Invisible Monsters - Chuck Palahniuk
  23. The Devil Wears Pinstripes - Jim Caple
  24. Stranger Than Fiction - Chuck Palahniuk
  25. Naked Pictures of Famous People - Jon Stewart
  26. The Winter of Our Discontent - John Steinbeck
  27. Haunted - Chuck Palahniuk
  28. Thirteen Days - Robert F. Kennedy
  29. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
  30. Founding Brothers - Joseph J. Ellis
  31. Running With Scissors - Augusten Burroughs
  32. Like A Rolling Stone - Greil Marcus
  33. Superstud - Paul Feig
  34. McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #16 - Various
  35. Killing Yourself To Live - Chuck Klosterman
  36. This Is Burning Man - Brian Doherty
  37. Aliens of Affection - Padgett Powell
  38. In The Country of Country - Nicholas Dawidoff
  39. The Fortress of Solitude - Jonathan Lethem
  40. CivilWarLand In Bad Decline - George Saunders
  41. The Insomniac Reader - Various
  42. Fair Ball - Bob Costas
  43. The Pirate Coast - Richard Zacks
  44. Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer - Warren St. John
  45. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005 - Various
  46. Get In The Van - Henry Rollins
  47. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please - Raymond Carver
  48. Mao II - Don DeLillo
  49. Snow White - Donald Barthelme
  50. For Whom The Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway
  51. Edisto - Padgett Powell
  52. The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas - Davy Rothbart
  53. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love - Raymond Carver
  54. Born Fighting - James Webb
  55. Sometimes a Great Notion - Ken Kesey
  56. Kerouac in Florida - Bob Kealing
  57. Pastoralia - George Saunders

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Pastoralia

Book #57 (and probably the last book) of my 2005 reading list was George Saunders' Pastoralia.

The book consists of 5 short stories and the titular novella (which you can read an excerpt of here). The novella is outstanding and even on it's own would justify picking up a copy. Although there's nothing to top 'The 400-lb CEO' here the short stories are all solid, particularly 'The Barber's Unhappiness' and 'Sea Oak'.

Definitely recommended, though if you're just getting started on Saunders I'd recommend picking up CivilWarLand in Bad Decline first.


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Kerouac In Florida

Book #56 on my 2005 reading list was Kerouac in Florida: Where the Road Ends by Bob Kealing.

Jack Kerouac is prolly my most favoritest author, so given that and the fact that I grew up in Florida it was pretty much a given that I needed to read this book. Before reading the book I never realized just how much time Kerouac had spent in Florida. It was interesting to see just how deep his connection to the state was and learning a bit more about the man behing the legend. As a baseball fan, I particularly enjoyed the stories about Kerouac's fascination with baseball (he could frequently be found taking in a game at the minor league parks in Orlando and St. Petersburg) and his friendship with ballplayers such as Paul Gleason and Mickey McDermott.

Part of the proceeds from the sales of this book are being donated to The Kerouac Project which brings in writers-in-residence who get to live and write in Kerouac's Orlando home.

Sometimes a Great Notion

Book #55 of my 2005 reading list was Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion.

This was a stunningly good novel and definitely earns a spot as one of the better books (perhaps the best?) I've read this year. Kesey masterfully tells his story of the Stampers, an Oregon based logging family, by weaving between the voices of each of his characters sometimes shifting perspective within a paragraph or even within a sentence. It's a style that could easily blow up in a lesser author's face, but Kesey manages to pull it off beautifully. Highly recommended.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

Florida Museum of Natural History

Today I went with my parents to the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus. The museum is quite nice and has improved markedly from when I was there a couple of years ago. Definitely worth checking it out if you're ever in Gainesville.

One of the coolest things we learned about was the bear dog (aka Amphicyonids), a dog-like animal that could grow to the size of a frickin' bear. Definitely not the kind of critter you'd like to run into in the woods.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Happy Blog-o-versary!

One year ago today was my first post! 365 days, 388 posts, and 18,000+ hits later and my site still sucks, but at least I'm having fun doing it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Get Behind Me Satan

Someone found my site today by searching for the term 'David Blaine is the Devil'. Sheez people, act like you've seen someone levitate before. I'll grant you that anyone who can rip his own heart out is bound to draw comparisons to ole' Beelzebub from time to time, but would Fiona Apple, Josie Maran, Madonna Manon Von Gerkan really be dating Lucifer?



End of Year Lists

It's that time of the year again where everyone posts their top 10 lists. Here's mine.

Top 10 Albums of 2005

10.

Black Mountain
Black Mountain


9.

Dangerdoom
The Mouse and the Mask


8.

The White Stripes
Get Behind Me Satan


7.

Sage Francis
A Healthy Distrust


6.

Damien Jurado
On My Way To Absence


5.

Holopaw
Quit +/- Fight


4.

Ryan Adams
Jacksonville City Nights/Cold Roses (I'm combining this into one mega-album)


3.

Art Brut
Bang Bang Rock & Roll


2.

CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

1.

OKKERVIL RIVER
Black Sheep Boy


Just Missed
Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning; Scott H. Biram - The Dirty Old One Man Band; Caitlin Cary & Thad Cockrell - Begonias; Magnolia Electric Company - What Comes After the Blues; Decemberists - Picaresque

Best Album That Missed My 2004 List and Doesn't Qualify as a 2005 Album
Arcade Fire - Funeral

Best EPs of '05
Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy Appendix; The Village Green - The Village Green EP; Fiery Furnaces - EP

Best Soundtrack of '05
Townes Van Zandt - Be Here to Love Me

Best Live Shows I Saw This Year
Arcade Fire at the Paramount
The Decemberists at Bumbershoot
Okkervil River and Earlimart at the Crocodile Cafe

Most Disappointing Album of the Year
Ryan Adams - 29

Most Disappointing Live Show of the Year
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at Neumo's

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2005

You Say It's Your Birthday

Happy Birthday to me (and Ricky Martin). 365 days until I'm officially old.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Got XBox 360?

My brother shot this photo of a local auto parts store scalping XBox 360s. Hey, it's cheaper than eBay.

autoparts xbox

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Ryan Adams - Baseball coach

Ryan Adams meet McSweeney's. Wasn't there a Billy Bob Thornton movie like this recently?

Baby Camo

So I know after my last post you were probably thinking 'It's all well and good that I can take my beer and go hunting now, but who's going to do the babysitting?'. Well never fear, baby camo is here.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Huntin' Beer

While walking through our local grocery store yesterday I discovered that Busch beer offers a limited edition hunting packaging. Yup, their 12-packs of beer now come in a special camouflaged box so you can take it with you into the woods without scaring off any bucks. Only in the South.

Beer. Deer. It's only one letter off. Coincidence?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

How To Clean Up Pro Wrestling

Cheap Seats hosts Randy and Jason Sklar contributed a funny article to this week's Slate questioning the effectiveness of the WWE's recent announcement that they would begin randomly drug testing wrestlers.


These guys were definitely on something illegal...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Gators Raking In The Recruits

First Tim Tebow commits and now today brings us the news that the Gators have landed Percy Harvin and Damon McDaniel. Looks like things are shaping up pretty well for Urban's first full off-season. Now if we can just find a way to beat Iowa.


Born Fighting

The 54th book I read this year was Born Fighting: How The Scots-Irish Shaped America by James Webb. I got this one as a gift from my parents last Christmas. Although it took me eleven months to get to it, I did manage to get it in under the one year wire. Phew.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Live from Florida

This post is coming at you live from Interlachen, FL. I'll be here for the next couple of weeks to spend the holidays with my family. Moving has been mad hectic, but now that I'm on vacation maybe I'll be able to post more than once every 10 days :-)

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Book #53 on my 2005 reading list was Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

Though I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, I found it to be yet another stellar short story collection. Carver just kicks ass, no two ways about it.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I got out of reading this one was a discussion I had with a friend while reading the book. He told me about the fascinating but controversial claims that much of Carver's early works were actually ghost written by his eccentric editor Gordon Lish. Gotta love a good literary feud.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas

Book #52 of my 2005 reading list was Davy Rothbart's short story collection The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas.

Rothbart is perhaps best known as the founder of Found Magazine, although according to the bio on the back of the book he's also a contributer to This American Life, a documentary filmmaker and a rapper (who knew?). All in all it's a pretty solid collection of stories, though the title story and the final story "Elena" were the clear standouts for me.

You can read an excerpt from the opening story 'Lie Big' here.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Edisto

Book #51 for me this year was Padgett Powell's coming-of-age novel Edisto. It's one damn fine book by one damn fine writer (and I'm not just saying that because he's from Gainesville). The man has a way with words that's truly unequaled. You should read it, but if you don't believe me here's Walker Percy's (another damn fine writer) blurb from the back of the book:

'Edisto is a truly remarkable first novel, both as a narrative and in its extraordinary use of language. It reminds one of The Catcher in the Rye, but it's better - sharper, funnier, and more poignant'.

Pretty hard to beat that.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The 50 Book Challenge

Here are the books I read as part of my 50 book challenge:

  1. What's the Matter with Kansas - Thomas Frank
  2. How We Are Hungry - Dave Eggers
  3. The Wilco Book - Wilco
  4. The Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby
  5. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim - David Sedaris
  6. Ticket To Ride - Larry Kane
  7. Hobart #4 - Various
  8. McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #15 - Various
  9. Forced Entries - Jim Carroll
  10. Imperial Hubris - Michael Scheuer
  11. The Plot Against America - Philip Roth
  12. Platform - Michel Houellebecq
  13. Slapstick - Kurt Vonnegut
  14. Fever Pitch - Nick Hornby
  15. Poets on the Peaks - John Suiter
  16. Cannery Row - John Steinbeck
  17. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs - Chuck Klosterman
  18. Waxwings - Jonathan Raban
  19. So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star - Jacob Slichter
  20. Everything Is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer
  21. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail - Hunter S. Thompson
  22. Invisible Monsters - Chuck Palahniuk
  23. The Devil Wears Pinstripes - Jim Caple
  24. Stranger Than Fiction - Chuck Palahniuk
  25. Naked Pictures of Famous People - Jon Stewart
  26. The Winter of Our Discontent - John Steinbeck
  27. Haunted - Chuck Palahniuk
  28. Thirteen Days - Robert F. Kennedy
  29. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
  30. Founding Brothers - Joseph J. Ellis
  31. Running With Scissors - Augusten Burroughs
  32. Like A Rolling Stone - Greil Marcus
  33. Superstud - Paul Feig
  34. McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #16 - Various
  35. Killing Yourself To Live - Chuck Klosterman
  36. This Is Burning Man - Brian Doherty
  37. Aliens of Affection - Padgett Powell
  38. In The Country of Country - Nicholas Dawidoff
  39. The Fortress of Solitude - Jonathan Lethem
  40. CivilWarLand In Bad Decline - George Saunders
  41. The Insomniac Reader - Various
  42. Fair Ball - Bob Costas
  43. The Pirate Coast - Richard Zacks
  44. Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer - Warren St. John
  45. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2005 - Various
  46. Get In The Van - Henry Rollins
  47. Will You Please Be Quiet, Please - Raymond Carver
  48. Mao II - Don DeLillo
  49. Snow White - Donald Barthelme
  50. For Whom The Bell Tolls - Ernest Hemingway

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Drum roll please. I have officially completed my 50 book challenge! Book #50 was Ernest Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls.

I'm sure this book has been throughly dissected by a million English-lit majors out there so I'll spare you my version. I will just say that this is one of those books that you pick up and know within the first few pages the ending ain't gonna be happy. From there it's pretty much turning each page wondering when the other shoe is going to drop. It's a great book though and I throughly enjoyed reading it.

On the back cover of the paperback version I have (Scribner Classics/Collier Edition 1986) there's a great synopsis that beats any desciption of a book I've ever read on a back cover. It reads as follows:

"Hemingway went to Spain in 1937 to cover the Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance. From his experiences he wrote this classic story of an American, Robert Jordan, who fought, loved and died with the anti-fascist guerrilas in the mountains of Spain."

That's it. If you ever need to do a book report on this book in less than 50 words it would be hard to beat that.

Rumors Of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Never fear, I am still alive and kicking despite my lack of posts lately. Turns out that buying a house and moving are a crap load of work. Who knew?