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general

Raymond Carver rut

A quick update after lunch. I know I haven’t been writing in here at all, and there’s a reason for that, and it’s that I’ve been busy working on my next book. And when I have writing to do there, it’s hard to write here, because every word here is a word that could be there. Or something.

I’ve been stuck reading Raymond Carver lately, although I haven’t been reading at all, because I’ve been walking to work, and I can’t walk and read. I can walk and listen to music, but I’m sick of everything on my iPod, and I don’t want to buy any more music, because everything sucks, and I don’t really know what I like anymore. And I think I have been cured of collecting music, so I no longer have the need to keep buying shit just to buy shit.

Back to Carver, I read his collection The Cathedral, and about the title story, I swear I’ve read it somewhere else. Actually, I swear someone verbally read it to me. Maybe it was in a writing class back at IU. Maybe it was in a movie that I’m forgetting. I’m sure the story was anthologized everywhere, as it’s a popular one, but I don’t remember where I first saw it. Oh well.

If you read the drama on my livejournal about the bad review, I’ve almost completely forgotten about it. The reviewer was an idiot. That said, I wish more people would review my stuff. But who cares. All I know is I have to keep going on the current book. It’s my first book not based on my life, and the first with a real plot. Those are two points of contention, because the two most-asked questions of me are “why do you only write about Indiana” and “why don’t your books have plots like Stephen King”. The answer, by the way, to both of those questions is “go fuck yourself.” Equally annoying are the people who tell me “just write whatever, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t have a plot or structure”, because those people have obviously never written a book. There has to be some structure or it won’t work. Captain Beefheart is a novel gimmick for about five minutes, but you can’t make a career out of it. I think he’s living in a van in New Mexico, trying to sell shitty paintings to tourists.

The weather is very nice here now. It’s good weather to walk home in at night, which I have been. I’m going to Wisconsin next weekend, so lots of cheese.

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general

The Fuck Up

A side note: When I wrote about Seattle a couple of entries ago, that wasn’t any kind of cryptic clue that I was moving to Seattle, that I missed Seattle, or that I was visiting or anything else. I write about random nostalgia like that entirely because I can’t think of anything better to write. Also, I feel some need to cement my random memories in amber for later preservation. Don’t read too much into it. In fact, the topic came up when I was in Alaska recently, because there are so many regional chains up there that reminded me so much of Seattle. And when we were vaguely, theoretically talking about if I would ever want to move back, the answer was a pretty easy no, because you can’t go back. There are times I miss when I lived in Seattle and was a 25-year-old writer, eating tuna salad and cup-a-soup every night to survive on $7 a week, writing furiously every night because I had no TV, no playstation, no DVD collection or player, and no long distance because I never paid my bill. But if I went back to Seattle, replace all that with worrying about my 401K and bitching about taxes and traffic and whatever else. And there are too many ghosts in Seattle for me. I haven’t even visited since I left. I probably won’t for a while. You can’t go back. But I do write about it a lot. Don’t confuse the two.

I’ve been trying to step up the reading a bit. Finished that Amy Hempel book, got her new one, and the first hundred pages are some (but not all) of the stories in Reasons to Live. So about 100 pages out of 400 are things I already read. At least I grabbed the new one off of Amazon in hardcover when it was still in the “new hardcover – slashed price” state, so I paid like $14 instead of $21. That book is in the queue, but a couple of others jumped in front of it while I was waiting for it to show up in the mail.

I re-read Arthur Nersesian’s The Fuck-Up again, which has become one of my “friends,” the books I can read and re-read on an annual basis without boredom. It’s about a kid in New York in the mid-Eighties who is hopping from couch to floor to lover and from job to job to lack of job, mostly on the Lower East Side and Brooklyn. There’s some other story arc in there, but aside from Nersesian’s fluid writing, the main character is this old New York that is now gone. Most of the novel takes place in a ten-block radius from where I work. But all of the porn theaters and slum apartments described are now yuppie condos and fast food restaurants and Gap stores. (I think Marie told me though that he has a few fuckups, like saying a certain movie theater became a Gap store, when it didn’t, etc.) Anyway, it’s a good read, interesting.

One of the things that stuck with me this time I read was that the protagonist has a friend Helmsley that was one of these uber-intellect types. His parents died in a plane crash, and he invested all of the money and lived like a pauper on the interest. All he did was read, and write. That made me really wish I could strip away all of the distractions of my life and get to the point where the two main consumers of time would be reading books, and writing books. Now, I don’t even know what the fuck I’m doing with my time, because I never write, and I never read. I don’t have a subway commute anymore – it’s like three stops, and I usually walk home after work to clear my head, so that hour or whatever is now gone. I’ve been trying to read more at night though. The writing, well, I’ll talk about that later.

Current book is the new Anthony Bourdain, called The Nasty Bits. It’s a collection of various newspaper and magazine pieces he’s done over the last few years, cleaned up a bit and pressed into a nice little 288-page hardcover. (I guess it isn’t that new – mid-May.) Some of the themes are repeated from his last two books, and if you’ve watched his TV show, some of the essays are longer versions of the different trips he’s taken. I like Bourdain a lot, and not for the macho pseudo-elitish chef shit that makes him a star. I seriously like his writing. He’s got the chops, and he’s read enough George Orwell and Hunter S. Thompson to keep alive that tradition of sharp observation mixed with entertaining craziness. Every good writer knows the best way to lure in somebody is to talk about work. And the best way to talk about work is to take some kind of work that is truly fucked up or boring or demeaning, and add some kind of element that makes it seem like a secret society to people. That’s why that bad jobs show on cable is such a hit. Nobody’s really interested in becoming a sewer cleaner; but when it’s presented in such a way that it makes people think (or think they’re thinking), it becomes gold. Bourdain does a lot of that. I’m not going to run out and eat whatever assholes and elbows make French culinary tradition great, and I don’t want a career in cooking, or even to learn how to cook. But his descriptions make it interesting, and I like that. The book is also much better than the TV show, which is glossied and cut up and pasted together in such a way that it loses part of the element. They’re entertaining, but the essays do a much better job. I’m only halfway through this book, but I have a feeling it will be done by tomorrow.

And I haven’t been doing that much writing, but I’m finding myself picking at these Bloomington stories again, like a scab that I will never let heal. These may or may not become a book called Six Year Plan, or maybe it needs a new title. No real news or agenda here – I’m just reading stuff that has sat for a while, taking out words, tightening lines, but not really doing much. Maybe I will get more productive with it, but it’s mostly something I do when I can’t figure out what the next project will really be. I think even if I made these stories as tight as possible and then put them in a book, it would only sell two copies, and that makes it difficult to jump into the thing with great gusto. I wonder if I ever would have written Summer Rain if I ever knew how many (few) copies it would eventually sell.

Time for lunch. I think we’re walking to this new farmer’s market on Orchard, then to a restaurant around here for some kind of brunch. It’s 70 and cloudy, very cool and maybe not bad weather for walking around for a bit.

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general

Pocket books

Splitting headache. I think it’s from the heat, but it could be something else. I’m about to take some Tylenol PM, crank up the AC, and try to sleep it off. It’s been a slow weekend, which is good. I have a new dentist, and I think I can see his office from my window, so the commute isn’t a problem. He is also pretty laid-back and not all about the lectures, or the insistence that I need to cash out my entire 401K and spend it on veneers, braces, and who knows what else. I do have to go back next month for some work, but just fillings. No titanium post insertions or root canals or anything.

Lulu has a new book size, the “pocket” size, which is something like 4.25×6.875″ or something like that. I was thinking that I would love to make my own version of the pocket ref, which is my absolute favorite book ever, and I think pretty much anyone with a spare twelve bucks should buy it. It contains pretty much every reference table and material stuffed into 768 pages that fit in your pocket. I love to read it when I’m bored, and it’s always good to take on travel. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to glean together all of my most-used useless info and cram it into a little book, and others could buy one too. Like, what to do for a hangover or food poisoning, what presidents have been shot and where, the addresses of Denny’s in many major cities, a list of daily excuses to have a party, whatever. Anyway, it’s a thought.

I’ve been reading Amy Hempel’s Reasons to Live. No, it isn’t a new-age bullshit book, she’s a writer, very minimalist stuff, very good. All of her stories are told in as few sentences as possible, very tight, very deadly. It’s good stuff, except when I read it, I simultaneously want to rewrite everything I’ve ever written so it works like that, and I also just want to give up, because there’s no way I could. But I still read it. She has a hardcover story collection from this spring, I hope it’s not repeats from the book I have.

Nothing else. No writing, it’s been too hot, and my computer room has no AC. I have the laptop, but usually I spend half my time fucking with the WiFi to get it working or not working, and it won’t let me write.

Anyway…

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general

Goodbye Astoria

The last of the Astoria move-out was completed on Saturday. Now all I need to do is send my keys to my landlord and get ripped off for my entire security deposit. Saturday’s work involved a last trip to the Neptune Diner, and then about three or four hours of clearing out every remaining item in the place. I had some grand scheme of donating things to some charity, selling stuff off on craigslist, listing stuff on freecycle, or whatever else. But when it came down to it, I simply couldn’t deal with waiting on other people and whatever else, so it all went to the curb or in the garbage cans. And as quickly as we could put stuff out there, it vanished. It was like christmas for some poor bastards that hauled that stuff out of there.

The worst of the last stuff were the loveseat and single chair that I bought back in 2000. Because of the weird s-curve layout of my front door, it was like a very bad 3-D tetris game trying to get the couch out of there. It was too wide and too deep, and the depth of the curve made it impossible to take it out long-ways at an angle. I can’t even really describe it, but it was a horror to get that thing out. After clearing everything, we did a real quick sweep of the place with broom and swifter, just to get the big chunks up. Like I said, the landlord’s going to fuck me on the deposit anyway, so there’s no reason for me to get out a toothbrush and go OCD on the place.

As we left, it hit me that I’d never see the place again, and despite all of the horrific problems with it, I’m sort of sad to see it go. I lived in the place for six years, which is longer than I’ve ever lived in any place since my parents’ house. A lot’s gone on there. Every book I’ve published was cranked out while I lived there. (Some of them were started before then, but the ISBNs hit the jackets while I was living in Astoria.) I crossed the millenium there. It was a good run, I guess. I didn’t like the place as much as, say, the 600 7th Ave place in Seattle, but I’m glad to move on, but shit, that’s a sixth of my life. Leaving didn’t blow me away as much as it did to leave the Mitchell Street House in ’93, or leaving Seattle in ’99, but still. End of an era.

We had a good Thanksgiving, too. We went up to Guy and Scott’s, Sarah’s friends, up in upstate New York again. Sarah went up on Tuesday night to help with the shopping and the preparation, and I worked on Wednesday and then took the bus up. The Port Authority looked like some kind of apocalypse disaster movie on Wednesday afternoon, but once I got on a bus and headed north, it wasn’t a bad run. I think I made it to Rosendale in under two hours, door to door, and was greeted at the bus stop by Guy and Sarah, who then took us to a shopping center where we got Chinese and pizza from two different places, and I headed into a Dunkin’ Donuts for a dozen of those, just in case.

Guy and Scott’s friend Beth was there with her two-and-a-half year old son Ian and her dog Gus. Guy already started the dinner preparation, and we all ate and hung out that night, knowing the oven would get fired up in the morning for the big bird. We crashed somewhat early, and in the morning woke to find a couple of inches of fresh powder covering everything outside. Given that this is in the middle of nowhere, it meant there was virgin white snow all over everything. When you live in the city, where snow is immediately smooshed by busses and trucks and turned horrid colors of black and grey by pollution, you really appreciate the pure white of a real snowfall. Gus, a collie/alaskan husky mix, enjoyed it too. He spent a lot of the day outside, running through the drifts, trying to chase the wild turkeys and deer that cross through the yard. He was so happy, he would roll around on his back in the snow and jump around like a kid on Christmas morning.

Guy’s dinner was perfect. I’d put Guy up against anybody’s pefect grandmother’s cooking dinners anyday. He’s totally into cooking way too much food and making all of it great, so you don’t want to get in his way when he’s cooking, but you totally want to be there for the product. Guy’s pre-dinner dinner is better than most dinners, and it’s just a long onslaught of food. It’s like the iron man triathalon of food. I had to pace myself and quit early, before the handmade pies happened. We stayed Thursday night again, and then I had bacon and eggs before Beth drove us back to the city. We got back before 2:00, which meant we had the rest of Friday plus the whole weekend to chill out and do nothing, which we did.

I should throw out a few book reviews for good measure, since I’ve been reading a lot. First, Andrew Smith’s Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth. I’ve been reading a lot of space stuff lately, but this really put a new twist on things, by trying to catch up with the nine remaining Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon. Smith chases after the elusive lunar explorers, trying to bring out more than just the stock NASA facts, but to really determine what happened to these men who had the great apex of their life happen at a young age, and then had the entire country’s interest in space exploration collapse after the moon walks. Some guys are still trying to champion space missions, like Buzz Aldrin, while others turned to religion, philosophy, art, or private industry ranging from beer bottling to football team management. Many divorced and had family problems, many felt betrayed by their country for dropping the ball on the space program. Overall, the backstory is excellent and a great page-turner.

An impulse purchase I greatly enjoyed was Sam Posey’s Playing with Trains. Posey, a former Grand Prix race car driver and long-time race commentator, also spends a lot of time playing with HO trains down in his basement, something that goes back to his childhood and a Lionel train set around the Christmas tree. The first half of the book goes through the fifteen-year saga of Posey restarting his hobby as an adult when he has a baby boy, going through the construction of a massive layout in his basement. During the steps of this journal, we learn a bit about the industry behind the hobby, and the various steps you need to go from a little loop of track to a full-blown system. In the second part, he gets his journalistic background fired up and starts to go out and meet the other people with his obsession, as well as the major suppliers and magazines covering the hobby. He also goes out and tries a 1:1 scale steam locomotive, and makes a few field trips to the crumbling remains of the once-mighty rail system in this country. While I never re-started the hobby (no basement, no attention span), I had the Tyco starter set and a bunch of Life-Like buildings nailed to a piece of plywood when I was a kid, and always dreamed of a giant 1:87 reproduction of some Santa Fe freight line rumbling through a scale city. The book reminded me of all of that, and I’m sure if I did have a basement, I’d be down there right now with $700 of new HO-scale equipment.

Another great one was Michael Harris – The Atomic Times: My H-Bomb Year at the Pacific Proving Ground. Harris was drafted back in the fifties, and spent a year of his two-year commitment at the Eniwetok Atoll. He was there in 1955 for Operation: Redwing, a series of some of the biggest H-bomb explosions ever. He spent the first part of his stay editing The Atomic Times, a little mimeo base newspaper, which reminded me a bit of John Sheppard’s stories of Army journalism. He later spent time typing requisition forms and destroying carbons for top-secret shipments of nuts and bolts. On the day of the tests, with no morning, the enlisted would get pulled out of bed and ordered to stand at attention, facing away from the blast, while 20 megatons of test-device vaporized islands and ocean water. Much of his story deals with being stuck on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere (a lot like Lost, but no hot chicks) and dealing with the stupidity and pranks of various draftee-quality Army privates removed from their small towns for the first time. A minor caveat on this one is that Harris tends to be a little choppy and informal in his writing, and loves to use incomplete sentences. But the subject matter is great, and it’s a unique look at the history behind the H-bomb.

I also bought the new Vonnegut book, A Man Without A Country. Vonnegut said he’d stop after his last one, Timequake, but he came back to cash in a bit with a thin little volume of retread material. If you’ve seen Vonnegut speak in the last 10 or 15 years, take that stock speech and add in a bit of whining about George Bush, and there you go. Vonnegut’s always been a favorite writer to me, and I love all of his novels and books, but there wasn’t much to this collection except maybe a sly way to get the Air America crowd to rush out and buy it and say “best book ever!” because he compares Bush to Hitler. There’s a really funny example (or 40) of this on the Amazon reviews for the books; all of these people’s reviews are like “Hi, I’m 23 and a college graduate and I’ve never heard of Kurt Vonnegut, but I saw him on the Daily Show, which I think is a real news program, and rushed out to buy his book.” It’s also somewhat sad to see that Vonnegut has been preaching this “the world is ending tomorrow” luddite viewpoint, but he’s been doing it for 40 years now, and the world hasn’t ended. Oh well. Three out of four ain’t bad.

This entry is far too long. Sorry.

Categories
general reviews

Bukowski bios, Vinyl Junkies, Cyborg

I’ve been trying to read a little more lately; I don’t have that long train commute anymore, which is where I got most of my reading done. But I’ve been sick, it’s getting cold outside, and I’ve almost completely given up on TV lately, so I’m starting to get in the swing of things a bit.

First of all, I read the Barry Miles bio on Bukowski, simply called Charles Bukowski. I didn’t entirely like it. I don’t know if this is supposed to be the “official” bio, but it’s advertised as being one of those “total access with the family and friends” sort of books, and it’s anything but. To be fair, pretty much everyone who was friends or lovers with Bukowski for more than ten minutes has put out a book, and most of those are fairly bad. They suffer from the problem where the person only knew one facet of the guy, and they missed most of the story. Then you have the problem where the “official” bio is only going to mention the family’s opinions, thereby not giving the real story. (For the best example of this, take a look at Jack Kerouac’s various biographies, which have generated lawsuits, infighting, and a total blanket on all information from his family, who want to forever silence any voices that may paint their little boy as anything but sqeaky-clean and wholesome, which he totally wasn’t.)

In my opinion, the best Bukowski bio out there is Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life by Howard Sounes. The Miles book pretty much just tells the story of Bukowski’s life from his books, with very brief corrections and asides, but not a lot of research or dissent. If you’ve read all of the Bukowski books, you already know 90% of what is in the Miles book. But Sounes did a hell of a lot of research to find out where Bukowski lived, who he dated, where he worked, and how everything from his finances to his distant relatives fit into the picture. The Miles book has absolutely no photos; the Sounes book has photos of Bukowski that I’ve never seen before. And since the myth and the man are more different than you think, the Sounes book contains a lot more “I never knew that” moments, and made it enjoyable. The Miles book is nothing more than a recap.

The other book I finished recently was Vinyl Junkies by Brett Milano. This was a pretty light book (about 240 pages in paperback) that talked about the neuroses of people who totally get locked into a collection habit, specifically the accumulation of those pieces of stamped vinyl that people used for music replication back in the days before the CD. He talks to a lot of people who are habitual in the vinyl way, from R. Crumb to Thurston Moore, and he covers not only the general collector of yesteryear’s hits, but people who are really freaked out in their specific collections, like a lesbian that only collects Olivia Newton John, and one of the most ultimate Monkees collectors ever.

Milano talks about actual physiological and psychological reasons behind collection, which make sense, like that collectors might have a serotonin deficiency that causes them to collect in order to feel happy, which they never will. Given my recent diatribe about Stuff, that hits the mark. I am guessing this might also cover people like the crazy eBay mom (you really need to look at that link) [2020 stealth edit: long dead link, I pointed to wayback…] and people who have a thousand cats in their house. You could argue that simply trying to collect every single version of every single Elvis record ever pressed is a little less extreme, but there are some fairly fucked up stories in the book. I think if I paid $4000 for a single, no matter how rare or weird it might be, I’d probably get some kind of serotonin tap added to my water supply, and maybe add a pound of it to every meal from then on.

A lot of the book talked about people always coming back to vinyl, the harshness of the CD, the tactile feel of a record, the look of the jackets, and so on. I guess. I did grow up in the record generation, as I was born about ten years before the CD player, and the first cassette tape system in my parents’ house was the one I got for my 11th (I think) christmas. I have many fond memories of listening to the Haunted Mansion record on our orange box-type phono player, and all of my parents’ crappy record collection, from Billy Joel to Styx, all got burned into my head by the time I entered junior high. And even with tapes being my primary medium all through high school (the walkman made that a requirement; you can’t walk to school carrying a portable turntable) I got on this kick where I bought all of my old Iron Maiden and Twisted Sister albums on vinyl, so I could keep them as a backup and make my own dub tapes, something I did until CDs became completely ubiquitous a few years later. So I never got into vinyl that much, and I’ve always preferred the ease of use with CDs. Maybe if I was a few years older, though, I would have totally been hypnotized by the format, and I would have spent all weekend hauling 200,000 pounds of oil-based platters from Queens to Manhattan.

Last night I started reading the book Cyborg, which is the pulp scifi novel that The Six-Million Dollar Man was later based on. It was completely out of print, and I found it on Amazon for like a buck fifty or something. It’s a fairly horrible little book, but I enjoy it. I think I read half of it in like an hour last night. I also recently found the book The Boys from Brazil, by Ira Levin. It was a weird little alternate-history ditty about Josef Mengele still alive in Brazil, creating a giant project to start up the whole master race thing again. They made a so-so movie of it, but the book was also out of print and hard to find. What’s weird is that Mengele really was still alive in South America when the book came out, although he had no master plan other than to sit on the beach and wait out his time until he eventually died. Anyway, I find it interesting that these books, which are both classics, are out of print, and it’s not like they came out 400 years ago or something. I’m glad Amazon lets me buy up other people’s garbage, though…

Categories
reviews

Let it Blurt

It’s hotter than living hell out. It’s been an entire weekend of unrelenting weather, but this afternoon we got a wicked thunderstorm and some rain, so it felt good for a few hours. Now it’s getting hot again and the apartment is returning to swamp-like consistency. I should probably stop bitching about the weather, but the problem is that when the weather is like this, I have nothing else to write about, because my brain pretty much shuts down and all I can think about is moving to Antarctica, or how I can somehow take all of the computer parts in my house and build a bootleg air conditioner that will work better than the stupid portable one I have in my bedroom.

I finished reading this biography of Lester Bangs – I don’t remember the author [Jim DeRogatis], but the title is Let it Blurt and the author is/was this fat kid who went to visit Lester for his high school writing project, and met him at his apartment, and Lester was incredibly nice to him and talked to him for hours, and then like two weeks later he was dead. The book is the best one out there, but it was still a little weird or lacking, and I don’t know if it’s the writer (although he put a lot of effort into it) or just the arc of Bangs’ life. I mean, it seems like he was just gaining steam, and then BAM, and it wasn’t like Johnny Chapman jumped out with a revolver yelling “death to music critics” or something – he just died, and it’s still disputed if it was a drug overdose or a bad case of the flu or some mystery disease or what.

I think the thing with Lester Bangs is that describing him or what his deal was is a lot like trying to explain Devo to your mom, and you can’t really describe it, and it’s the kind of thing you just have to get right in the middle of and dive in without looking how deep the water is. And I’ve read a couple of the Lester Bangs books, and they kick total ass, and you realize how incredible this guy must have been. But all of his books were postmortem anthologies, and the little bits and pieces are good and bad and glued together at the whim of a third-person editor, and every time you read anything, you wish there was MORE somewhere. I mean, imagine Hendrix never released those first few albums while he was alive, and his entire discography was just these fucked-up, spliced together CDs that Steve Ballmer or whoever puts together. You’d get bits and pieces of the same riffs and jams, but would always walk away thinking “fuck, I wish he had some ALBUMS out!” And now, you put in Are You Experienced, and every song fits together perfectly, and every time you listen, you find some little sound that’s new, and I just wish Lester had put together some damn books in his lifetime so we all had that same experience.

The other thing about Lester Bangs is that in reading this biography, he really reminded me of my old roommate Simms, and I don’t know if Simms would take that as an insult or a compliment. I guess they, at least to me, have/had a similar persona, and Simms is totally this kind of guy that you could have a four-hour conversation about everything and nothing and that was a big Lester Bangs trademark, to the point that he had his phone cut off half the time because of huge bills to the phone co. And Lester Bangs sounds like the kind of guy who would go out and buy every Criterion Collection DVD and totally get on top of all of them as far as what was phenomenal and what was shit and somehow relate all of it to Frank Zappa. And I’m sitting here in iDVD, rendering an old video to disc, and the “burn” button is a spinning radiation-type symbol, like a six-piece circle with half yellow and half black, and it totally looks like this button Simms gave me of The Who that I still have in a box somewhere. So Lester Bangs reminded me of Simms, who I have not heard from in forever, but I just called his voice mail, so we’ll see.

It is POURING out. The top foot of my bed is drenched in water from the wind tearing the drops into my apartment. I hope that will dry off in the next hour or two. I also have about 20 CDs I bought in the last week, and I don’t want to listen to any of them. I am listening to Gordian Knot, this prog-rock project thing that is one of the guys from Cynic, along with a bunch of other prog-rock favorites like Bill Bruford and Steve Hackett, and it’s good. But I bought a bunch of stuff to fill holes in the collection, and I was bored of them before I got them out of the bag.

Okay, time to pay my bills and listen to the rain.

Categories
general

Apple Confidential

I’ve been sort of sick this weekend, although I think drinking my weight in grapefruit juice and sleeping 14 or 15 hours a day has mostly stemmed it off. It was that kind of sore throat, coated tongue, back of throat crap that is usually the first stage of something worse. What’s weird is that I have only had this sort of sickness all year, and not a full-blown cold. I hope I did not jinx things by saying that. Anyway, the three-day weekend plan has been to mostly sleep, and do some reading and other vagueness around the house.

The other day I read Apple Confidential 2.0 by Owen Linzmayer. It’s a very good history of Apple, from the birth of the two Steves up to the present. It was just published in 2004 by No Starch Press. I enjoyed reading this book a lot, because it reminded me so much of the “ancient” history of ten years ago when I supported the Mac at IU. I read through the various timelines and it made me think back to when we got our first PowerMac, when I first saw a Newton, when I first got to mess with a color Mac, and all of the other intersections with my computing past. Anyway, it’s an excellent book. I paypaled Owen twenty bucks and he sent me an autographed copy. You really should go to his site and do the same.

I had to get out of the house today, so I went to Union Square to shop for books. I went to The Strand, which for the first time ever was actually too cold instead of too hot, but didn’t buy anything. I also bought tickets to see that new hockey movie about the 1980 Olympic team, but I chickened out and decided I’d rather sit around the house for two hours instead. I know that sounds stupid, and even I can’t figure it out. Anyway, I hate sports, but I really like sports movies. I know that makes no sense, but it’s true. I have never sat through a college football game in my life, and I’d rather jam a pencil into my ear than do so, but I really loved the movie Rudy. Go figure.

I won’t go into the whole Valentine’s Day/anti-Valentine’s Day because things are just too far gone for me to deal with it, and I realize that it’s totally my fault. So I did not leave the house on the 14th, and then today I went to Duane Reade and bought about two pounds of candy for 50% off and ate them until I was sick, then I downloaded a lot of really sick pornography. That did not really solve any of my problems, but it took up as much time as the hockey movie would have.

It’s freezing outside, but it’s not bad in here, and it will be even better when I’m in bed reading and staying up late because I have the day off tomorrow. So here’s to that.

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Snow Crash

I’m getting so restless around the house, I actually cleaned. I really want to go out and do something, but it’s freezing again, and I don’t really want to blow any money, either. So I’m watching Die Hard with a Vengence on TV, although I missed the part where they digitally edited McClane’s sign that says “I hate n-words” to “I hate everyone”. I did just catch the part where the 7 train is at the fake 2-3 Wall Street station and blew up in a way that completely defies physics. Despite about 20,000 goofs, this is still a good movie. If I ever see it in the $7 bin, I’ll have to pick up the DVD.

One fun thing about watching the Sunday afternoon movie is you see the most pathetic, low-budget infomercials for junk As Seen on TV products. There was just one for the Eggstractor or something like that. It starts out with black and white footage of a woman with really crappy, frizzed out hair and no makeup, trying to peel eggs in the most pathetic way possible. Then they switch to full color and show the woman with totally Jenny Jones makeover hair, full makeup, and happily plugging eggs into this device that looks like a plastic squeze tube and another piece of plastic that extrudes off the egg shell. She’s happily de-shelling eggs like the thing’s giving her ten orgasms per egg. Then it shows the kids using it, and it’s the greatest thing since GI Joe with the Kung Fu grip. They also use the phrase “high protein” about 80 times in 30 seconds to placate the Atkins freaks. I never knew peeling eggs was such a god damned problem.

Anyway, I finished reading Snow Crash, and I was really happy with it. It’s probably one of the best books I’ve read in a while, and something so completely different. I’ve always wanted to like cyberpunk, but the Gibsonesque stuff wasn’t that great too me. It was good, passable, but too much like the crappy SciFi shows that they make to fill up time on the WB network on Saturday afternoons, and not enough like the very first time I saw Star Wars or something like that. But this book really blew me away, because it was like one part Mark Leyner’s humor with one part Kurt Vonnegut’s ability to take a couple of disparate stories and slowly weave them together by the end of the book. It’s also got all of this weird religious theory in it that almost threw me, but was still very interesting, and I wish I could learn more about that without tackling some giant, 1200-page theory/reference book I will never read.

Nothing else going on here…