So some guy from Wisconsin also named Adam Peterson allegedly killed someone and has possibly killed two others. Jesus.
A few thoughts here:
1. Welcome Wisconsinites visiting from Google. I'm not that Adam Peterson. In case it wasn't clear from the last post, I wouldn't murder someone named Marino. Kiss someone named Marino? Maybe...
2. After getting knocked down a peg by this kid, I'm now the 109th most well-known Adam Peterson in the country. I think I'm behind an unusually personable tax account from Cleveland and the president of the Northwestern Michigan Orchid Society.
3. I've covered this before, but seriously, what's wrong with the Petersons? In the last three years alone we've killed more people than bird flu. Just once I'd like to turn on the news, hear about a murder, and not have to think, "Please don't be a Peterson. Please don't be a Peterson. Please don't...damn it!"
4. Why can't a Petersen kill someone to take the attention away? They're the ones that are really nuts.
So some guy from Wisconsin also named Adam Peterson allegedly killed someone and has possibly killed two others. Jesus.
So there is now definitive evidence that Dan Marino is the greatest quarterback of all-time. I don't understand the math, but I'm just happy there is now a number that tells me what I already know. Sort of like how Christians and Pixies fans know that God is seven.
That number: 8,593
Needless to say, that number is bigger than seven. Take that, God/Elway/Ross Gload.
Speaking of the book club, it's almost my time to pick a book. It's been agreed that it can't be anything that one of us has already read, so I'm looking for suggestions.
Unfortunately, it has to be something that the local library has at least three copies of which pretty much means it needs to be something relatively new (past 2-3 years) and popular (like a book club pick), preferably already in paperback for those of us buying the book. Also, I don't think they'd go for a short story collection and I don't think I'd go for a memoir.
Books I'm considering:
The Confessions of Max Tivoli
Pros: Might be good or at least not suck
Cons: Don't know if I can handle another narrator with an alternative lifecycle
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Pros: Probably good, I actually want to read it
Cons: Not yet in paperback, not enough at library
Okay, I now realize those are the only two I'm really considering and one isn't even really possible. There are plenty of others, but none really meet the library requirement. You can check here. If there are less than three copies available, it's probably not going to work. It's amazing, even some of the biggest books of the last two years only have one or two copies in the entire system.
I would actually really like to read a classic, but none that I haven't read and are readily available really come to mind. Sigh.
So start suggesting already.
This is the first book that has made me really regret being in the company's book club. And it's not that it's awful, exactly, just that it's the sort of consensus book that any group of readers will inevitably gravitate toward. It's a bestseller. It's high-concept without literary pretense. It's got sex and violence and spooky. It's vaguely timely.
It's also pretty much bullocks. Our hero--a label I often use as a synonym for protagonist but here I literally mean hero-- is a young Irishman in the mid-1700s who finds out he's not Catholic or Protestant but some kind of ill-defined tribal/Gaelic thing. Oh, and Jewish. There's probably an offensive joke to be made given these surprising developments, but there's very little humor to be had in these pages as our hero is too busy being wronged and then avenging wrongs. After his father is murdered, our hero follows his killer to colonial Manhattan but not before befriending a mysterious slave. How to describe the slave...hmm...did you see The Green Mile? The Legend of Bagger Vance? No? Well, let's just say he's magical. And a negro. So, yeah, some kind of magical negro basically.
After avenging his father's death--for the moment, at least, we're told that his tribe requires him to kill any and all male heirs as well. This is remarkably nonsensical for revenge purposes but great for tying a plot together!--our wounded hero is saved by Bagger Vance who, without even asking, grants him eternal life on the condition that he never leaves Manhattan. Um, thanks, Bagger.
It should be mentioned that this is nearly half way through the book and the American revolution hasn't happened yet. This lallygagging through the beginning and ending of the story forces the novel to move quickly through the intervening centuries but not first without the obligatory cameos from George Washington and Boss Tweed. Mostly our hero, like The Dude, abides until the day Bagger returns to set him free. Eventually the book settles into post-millennial New York where our man has established a comfortable, anonymous existence as a sometime reporter, sometime playboy who mostly just seems miserable with still having to be alive. As the reader surely feels the same way, it would be nice if everyone just got put out of their misery a little sooner, but that can't happen until a scion of his enemy appears in New York, he meets a long prophesied woman, and something happens during the second week of September 2001.
It's that event, used here as a shameless attempt to insert drama into the languid final pages, that looms largest in the last section. The character literally can't take two steps without pausing to look at the majestic towers. I'm reminded of this Onion article. When not looking at the towers, the author fulfills his contractual obligation to J&R Music World by repeatedly mentioning the store. I'm not joking, he mentions the full name of the store at least 10 times, as if everyone in Manhattan runs around navigating by using J&R Music World as a point of reference.
"Well, just go eight blocks past J&R Music World and then take a right. Walk another four blocks to the north of J&R Music World, then take a right, walk eight blocks in the direction of J&R Music World, and then walk four blocks south and you'll have reached the J&R Music World. Seriously, they've got great deals on Sony Walkmans."
Okay, so maybe that wasn't a direct quote.
The worst part--maybe, there's a lot of competition--is that our immortal hero who has lived through 300 years finds himself nostalgic for Charlie Parker and Willie Mays. He laments that "the kids" don't know these bastions of American history. Apparently not even the immortal are free from white, middle-class, boomer nostalgia. I try not to swear on this blog, but seriously, fuck you, guy who wrote this.
On top of it all, the book ends poorly on a note of ambiguity. Basically we've spent 600 pages waiting to know if this guy is going to kill off the family of the man who murdered his father and if he's ever going to die and the book tells us...maybe. Well, maybe I think that's an absurd copout for a book that could have allowed itself at least one risky move. Apparently that part of the book was cut out to allow more space for condescension toward Africans and the Irish. I'd actually like to imagine that this is how the entire book was edited down from a 2,000 page manuscript to a scant 600 pages.
Should I include the scene where the character does something unexpected, the guy who wrote this asks himself. No, I should instead include the scene where the character draws prostitute vaginas.
I'm not joking. Sadly, neither was the guy who wrote this.
Two really odd google searches took people to this blog within eight hours of each other yesterday:
"Tim Allen Gets Raped in Prison"
"Fat Pictures Ohio Random Walmart"
For the record, I come in first and fourth, respectively, in the search results. That is until I actually post this. At that point I'll lock up the market for Tim Allen rape fetishists and those looking for pictures of fat people at a (non-particular) Wal-Mart in Ohio.
I feel pretty good about that.
Apparently there is a radio station here in Lincoln that plays the audio track to soap operas during the middle of the day. Today I heard two women fighting about someone named Tony. Occasionally a booming male voice would interrupt to yell, "Why is there always fighting in my house!" He yelled this a few times, but this didn't really deter the conversation about Tony who, I gathered, might be a bit of a bad seed.
I guess I don't actually know that this was a soap opera, but it was either that or a self-produced amateur radio show from the saddest house in America.
Today in Misguided Stock Photography
So Microsoft has little tips in the corner on the first screen you see after logging into Hotmail. Fine. Whatever. Mostly they are silly but logical constructions that are able to tie an image in with the text to create understanding on the part of the user.
Makes sense, right? We are supposed to believe that this benevolent, Jetsons-esque robot is the glue behind their complicated multi-hundred-million-user email system. Fine. As this is more or less what I believed anyway, I don't have any problems here.
Then there is this one:
Now this is a bit of a stretch. I suppose we are to see ourselves as the ants in this equation and that our contacts are really just fellow ants "united" with us. Fine. As I more or less use my account to plan fruit heists, I can follow along with this easy enough.
But I have no idea what the connection is behind this stock photo and the message here:
Am I the dog? Is the dog trying to leave me a message? What does the headset have to do with email? And where did he get that headset anyway?
The message here really seems to be: Hotmail, a Lynch-ian world of cruel absurity and ritualized dehumanization, is now easier than ever.
Things I am going to do on this, the longest day of the year
Finish 500 pages of book club book
Write 500 page book club book
Buy a hat
Drink a coffee
Drink a beer
Check a score
Buy all the hats
Go to a bar
Talk about The Wire
Drive to Kansas City
Wash car (again)
Listen to music
Film own episode of The Wire
Remove Barksdale costume
Build bed out of legos
Disassemble bed and place legos back into ice cream buckets
I know that seems like a lot, but this is the longest day of the year.
I have a story in the new Madison Review which you can order by clicking here. This is also an older story, but one of my favorites since it's a) titled "Carom" and b) one of two stories I wrote at the time that really had me feeling like I'd figured something out about how I wanted to write. Of course, the other one--which I like even more--isn't published. I should send it somewhere. You can have it, if you want. Maybe I'll post it here.
"Carom" is about a guy named Smith who wakes up and realizes his roommate (and exactly everything his roommate owned, down to half of the things they purchased together) has disappeared. Oh, and the guy's girlfriend finds her biological parents after years of searching and realizes that her last name is Smith, too. Oh, and he thinks his ex-girlfriend might have had his baby without telling him. She's remarried to a man named...Smith. So there's a lot going on. I should have made it a novel. Maybe later.
It is my only story inspired by a kid with the last name Smith I used to work with at Holiday Trav-L-Park. His sister married a guy also named Smith, but he told me they researched it beforehand to make sure there were no shared relations.
I remain unconvinced.
How to Make a Mitchell Report a Mitchell Report
Find & Replace:
Settlements -> Androstenodione
Trilateral Statement -> Infield Fly Rule
Camp David -> Coors Field
Yasser Arafat -> Barry Bonds
Palestinian Liberation Organization -> National League
Ehud Barak -> Ehud Barak
West Bank -> Knuckle Ball
Bill Clinton -> Lou Clinton
Intifada -> Strike 'Em Out Throw 'Em Out Double Play
fivethirtyeight.com is incredible. Basically, it takes the never more maligned science of polling and does cool statistical things with it using the historical accuracy of the poll, the methodology, the sample size, etc. Best of all, it's written by baseball statistician Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus. I like anyone who can tell me why the Royals are going to lose and Obama is going to win without me understanding any of it.
Also, I don't particularly care for professional golf, but Joe Posnanski's take on Tiger Woods is, as always, a must read.
For those of you keeping track, for the first time since at least March, the sun fell and rose in the world of Judge Parker. That's right, it's been the same day in this fictional world of plot holes and questionable jurisprudence for over 100 real days.
Things that happened and level of excitement:
*Bus Ride - Relatively exciting
*Lawyering - Not at all exciting
*Snooping - A little exciting
*Almost but then not getting caught snooping - Negatively exciting
*Terrorist kidnapping - Exciting
*Flirting - Gross
*Drug ring arrests - Gross
*Prison visit - Positively exciting
*Bland night time recap - Lengthy
I just wish once I could have this conversation.
Me: How was your day?
You: I snooped, almost got caught snooping but didn't, came home and talked for three days, was visited by the state police, and then I went to visit our neighbors in prison who, incidentally, I was snooping on because they were growing pot. There's a story there, too, but let's save it for when we have a week plus one extra long Sunday strip.
You: How was your spring?
If that happened, I wouldn't even have the heart to reply with how my newly hired Iraq War veteran lawyer and my legal secretary almost got blown up but then, of course, didn't.
I don't even remember how I found out about Scott Snyder's debut collection of stories, but I'm glad I picked it up. There are quite a few really great stories here and even at its lowest points it's always interesting and well-written. Quite a success, all and all.
At the heart of most of the stories here is the central protagonist's self-doubt which has driven them from their loved ones and stifled their advancement in life until they end up in places they hadn't heard of until they found themselves there alone and discontent. A good number of the stories feature some kind of encounter with the grotesque (a brain-damaged country singer, a famous actress disfigured in a wreck, etc.) which work as a nice counterpoint to make the protagonist's ennui-based melancholy seem all the more shallow.
The first story had me worried, bogged down as it was in the brand of desperately cute quirkiness that few contemporary writers are immune from (this one included). Our hero, fresh from his job of lassoing barrels filled with people who intend to go over Niagara Falls, chases after a blimp carrying his former girlfriend who, I should mention, previously worked as a fake wax figure in a wax museum. Yeah, it was a bit much, the kind of overreaching that can be palatable in a single story but deathly mawkish in a full-length collection. Characters with quirky jobs who fall in love with character with quirky jobs...I mean, jesus, I feel like there are at least two stories doing that in every journal I read (sometimes written, poorly, by me). Oh well. I guess I've already covered my thoughts on this type of work here, but mostly I wish it were a little bit less per(vasive/suasive).
See what I did there.
Anyway, more to the point, Snyder does it better than most, but he's even better when he lets something else drive his fiction. The best stories here, including the title story, my favorite, manage to be original without veering into the emotional vacuum of pure oddity. The compelling strangeness of these stories comes from the way they explore the fringes of American geography and history with characters realistically shaped by their backwoods environment. It makes for a cohesive collection of work even though individual stories are separated by hundreds of years and thousands of miles.
So, apparently My Untimely Death is now at Amazon.com. You can pick it up right here. As this is greatly preferable to having to mail a check, I hope they'll be getting more than the one copy they currently have.
Did I mention they only have one copy at the moment?
I still think it's cool.
If you haven't seen this already, you really only need to watch the first 15 seconds of this video.
Based on last night's basketball game, this man is also a terrorist:Sadly, al-Qaeda doesn't let him in the game any more than Doc Rivers does.
So I've discovered that a good percentage of people who visit this blog are actually coming through Google image searches to this post in order to get pictures of Sean Penn and Al Pacino in Carlito's Way. That really puts things in perspective.
Still, it's oddly comforting to know that a lot of people in Finland desperately need pictures of the cast of Carlito's Way. I don't remember reading that in the World Fact Book.
In a completely unrelated development: There may be no better way to waste four hours than The World Fact book. For instance, you may have known about the islands that constitute Vanuatu, but did you know that nearly 11% of the population are Seventh Day Adventists?
I suppose if you did know that, you also have a position on the Matthew and Hunter Island disputes that will surely drag us into WWIII someday soon.
The Cupboard has returned and we're ready to announce that our first volume will be Parables & Lies from Jesse Ball. It's not available yet--and won't be for at least a couple of weeks--but the website has been updated with subscription information and excerpts. I'm posting it here in the hopes that if you're a sympathetic reader of this blog, you might go to the site, poke around a little, and let us know what you think.
We're also officially taking subscriptions now and they're quite the deal. For $10 you get a year's worth (4 volumes) of incredible prose. You can also buy the volumes individually for $3 but that's just silly. These are absolutely as inexpensive as we can make them while still putting out a high-quality publication and we think you'll be pleased with the final product.
There will be a lot more details, pictures, and unrequested email announcements coming from us in the near future, but for now just please check out the website, read the excerpts from Jesse's incredible work, and let Dave or I know if you have any thoughts.
Clock King is an awful super villain but a great hourly employee. Why are those qualities always mutually exclusive?
In case you doubted the power of One Song Sunday, the Journal Star has you covered:
Lincolnites try to make 13-hour song
The best part is going to be when tomorrow they publish an article headlined:
Lincolnites make 13-hour song
It's been a slow news decade here in the Star City.
What we saw of the performance (approx hours 8-11) was really fascinating and worked thanks to the random performances from the people mentioned in the article. I did my part by softly hitting a bongo, just once, until Carlin took over and actually music-ed with it. I'm no hero.