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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, February 25, 2006

Damn You Stephen King

So I know it's not considered at all hip to like Stephen King, but I'll fess up and admit I'm a fan. I've long argued that he's a sort of modern day Charles Dickens, prolific and wildly popular in his time, but dismissed by his critical peers as second-rate. At times he may suffer from the Ryan Adams' School of Self-Editing, but over the years he's managed to produce a number of top-notch works, especially in his short story collections such as Different Seasons, Skeleton Crew, and Night Shift. My favorite King work by far though is The Stand which to this day remains one of my absolute favoritist novels of all-time. It's yet to be seen if history will be as kind to King as it was to Dickens, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if his books continue to be widely read for years to come.

It would be one thing if all King did was write a few good books, but no, it turns out he has to be a cool guy too. For one he's a huge baseball fan, who regularly attended Red Sox games with the late Stephen Jay Gould. Then in this week's Entertainment Weekly, I find an article in which King reveals himself as an alt-country/rock-abilly fan detailing the sad demise of a unrecognized band called Diesel Doug and the Long Haul Truckers. In the article, King name checks Steve Earle, Whiskeytown, Robbie Fulks, and Uncle Tupelo and even manages to work in a nice U2 diss. And to top it off, he's extremely charitible. Damn you Steven King, why must you be so cool?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

3,000 Songs

3,000 tracks into my Last.FM experience here's what my top 10 artist list looks like:

1. Ryan Adams 76
2. Uncle Tupelo 56
3. Wilco 47
4. Whiskeytown 44
5. Townes Van Zandt 41
5 (tie). Johnny Cash 41
7. Neil Young 39
8. Damien Jurado 38
9. Death Cab for Cutie 34
10. Nirvana 32
10 (tie). Clem Snide 32
10 (tie). Okkervil River 32

No big surprises, though I didn't expect Death Cab or Nirvana to be quite so high. Guess I like-a da alt-country.

Here are the songs I've played the most:
1. Johnny Cash - Don't Take Your Guns to Town 7
1 (tie). Holopaw - Quit +/or Fight 7
3. Clem Snide - Your Favorite Music 6
3 (tie). Damien Jurado - Ohio 6
3 (tie). Centro-Matic - Janitorial on Channel Fail 6
3 (tie). Damien Jurado - Yuma, AZ 6
3 (tie). Damien Jurado - Circus, Circus, Circus 6
3 (tie). Damien Jurado - Paperwings 6
3 (tie). The Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) 6
3 (tie). The Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) 6
3 (tie). The Arcade Fire - Crown of Love 6
3 (tie). Silversun Pickups - Kissing Families 6

Monday, February 20, 2006

Oh The Glory Of It All

Book #7 of my '06 reading list was McSweeney's editor Sean Wilsey's epic (480 pages!) memoir Oh The Glory Of It All, which by the way also gets the distinction of being my first library book of the year (check is in the mail Sean).

Any book that garners blurbs from Dave Eggers and George Saunders (and a kick ass title) is bound to be good, so with that in mind I picked this one up with high expectations. Fortunately it didn't disappoint. It's a fascinating tale of growing up dysfunctionally rich, complete with high society parties, scary private schools, a messy divorce, and more teenage rebellion than you can shake a skateboard at. It's all told with a raw intensity that reminded me of Eggers' (equally well dubbed) classic A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

Some will question the truthfulness of Wilsey's account of things ala James Frey, but he (and his publisher the Penguin Group) has stood by them despite Dede Wilsey's (aka the evil step-mom) one time threats to sue if the book went to press. Completely accurate or not, it really doesn't matter to me, it would still be an interesting read even if the whole thing were fiction.

Detailed Reviews/Articles
MetaCritic's collection of reviews
Powell's review
Seattle Weekly review
Village Voice article
Suicide Girls interview

Links/pictures of a few people mentioned in the book
Al Wilsey (dad)
Pat Montandon (mom)
Dede Wilsey (step-mom)
Danielle Steel (yes that Danielle Steel)
John Traina


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Belly Dancing

Last night we went to watch a friend belly dance at the University Heights Center (a converted historical schoolhouse that looks eerily like the Wallingford Center inside). The event was a benefit for our local YMCA and featured not just local dancers but internationally known dancers as well.

Having never watched more than a few minutes of belly dancing at a time, I didn't really know what to expect. Turns out belly dancing is frickin' mesmerizing. Pretty girls, fire, swords, and cool costumes how can you lose?

The Belly Dancing Librarian

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

True Crime 2

I've been playing True Crime 2: New York City on the Xbox lately. It's the first game I've gotten into in awhile. Turns out the reviews for the game, not so good. With gems like this "Even if you forgive the flimsy story and derivative gameplay, you'll have a hard time getting past the game-stopping bugs and glaring technical problems that plague this game," it looks like I might be just about the only person in the world who likes it. Gamer credibility (what little I ever had) fading fast...

Player of the Week

Cool, I got Player of the Week in our flag football league this week. Manged to make the team picture too which is pretty funny since I'm just a sub this season. Next stop....NFL Draft!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day from the Drive-By Truckers and Darth Vader.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Science Friction

Book #6 of my 2006 reading list? Michael Shermer's Science Friction: Where the Known Meets the Unknown.

I found this one to be fairly disappointing. I like Shermer's writing style and have always found his works to be well thought out and interesting, but this book felt like a fairly random collection of essays that were at best tangentially related. On the whole it didn't hold up for me. While some of the essays were interesting and well worth reading, I found others to be very skippable.

Although I wouldn't recommend rushing out to buy this one, I still think it's worth checking out Shermer's other works as he's one of the better more thought-provoking science authors that I've read in the last few years. If you're just getting started I'd go with something like How We Believe. There are also lots of Shermer's articles online, a few of which can be found here and in his magazine Skeptic.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Outsourcing Homework

Man, I tell ya the college kids today are really brilliant. Outsourcing homework? Back in my day you were lucky if you could just find some sample code to look at on the web.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Hurricane Seattle

We've been getting pounded today by winds gusting up to 50 mph. It's the wind storm of the century! Okay, maybe not but it's still pretty exciting weather given our usually mild-mannered (aka rainy and 40 degrees) winter days. People's biggest concern? Whether or not they'll have power so they can watch the Super Bowl tomorrow. Go Hawks! :-)

Man Punches Horse

This guy may have seen Blazing Saddles one too many times.

Tweedy at the Moore

We saw Jeff Tweedy at the Moore Theater last night. He was excellent as always (though I miss when you used to be able to see him at the Croc). He played a sweet set mixing Wilco standards, new stuff, Loose Fur songs, and even a couple of old Uncle Tupelo tunes. Glenn Kotche opened with a suprisingly entertaining drum solo set and then joined Tweedy on stage later for a few songs. Good times.

Sorry About That

Looks like my decision to curtail my spending and use the library more is really hitting Amazon.com's bottom line. My bad ya'll.

Signing Day

Earleir this week Florida scored a football recruiting class that was consistently ranked as one of the top two classes in this nation this year. You can find the full list of players who signed here. Next stop SEC championship.
“We are fortunate at Florida to not only recruit premiere athletes but premiere student-athletes, and this class is really representative of that fact. They are high-character people, and this is critical and should be critical to the University of Florida. The coaches and I have a great relationship with these guys. This was a great day for Gator football." - Urban Meyer