Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Recovery Mode

Ah, I would sure love to have this week off. There are many folks with the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. They get to frolic with their children and return gifts that they disdain. Meanwhile, folks like me stand behind the counter and laugh along with your jokes, as if we have the week off too. I did take yesterday afternoon off. I just didn't go back after lunch (with the boss's permission, of course.)

I have about 35 pages left to read in The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley. It's a great character novel, centered around the ninety-one year old Ptolemy Grey, who is trying to piece together his important memories before he dies. He wants a clear head, so that he can leave something of worth to his remaining family members.

I talked to my son this morning, who will probably not pull into Seattle until at least midnight tonight. The severe winter weather conditions on the east coast are still wreaking havoc on the travel plans of many people, including my four-year-old. I've missed Justin's smiling face over the last week, and I'm looking forward to hanging out with him this weekend.

Now here is a video for you all. I wish I could play some Monster Magnet at work today, but it would probably end up sending the customers running from the store with their ears bleeding.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Crunch Time

For all of those dedicated Americans who believe that shopping at Christmas is their patriotic duty: you are running out of time. Friday is Christmas Eve. The bookstore is actually bustling with business today. Many folks are obviously draining their bank accounts in a feeble attempt to reconnect to friends and family over this Christian/Pagan holiday by giving them gifts. I can barely make it from payday to payday, and that's without throwing a holiday like Christmas into the mix.

I am no longer in between books. In fact, I am just over halfway through Hubert Selby's The Demon. Selby is also the author of Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream. This book could just as easily been called My Life as Sociopath. I'll most likely have the time to finish The Demon before the week is through. I'm already eyeing Walter Mosley's latest, The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray, as my next read. My wife just finished it last night, and had nothing but good things to say about it.

I came into work an hour early today, but I seriously doubt that the day will see me leaving work an hour early. We've been quite busy, and I assume that my help can be utilized right up unitl 6:30 pm. Otherwise, I would be happy to go home, and get warm with my loved one. I do have to make one stop tonight: my son and his mother are leaving for Georgia for the holiday week, and I want to give my son a hug that will last him the week. We also have a couple of gifts to drop off.

I have just ten minutes left to my lunch break, and then I must wade back into the crowds upstairs. I think that I'll actually have some time to shelve books, which is always fun.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yet Again . . .

I am in between books yet again. Last night I finished reading Matt Briggs' yet-to-be-released novel, The Strong Man. Unfortunately, it was just okay. I started to write a review late last night, but essentially it's like this: The Strong Man is a quirky coming-of-age tale, based in Seattle, but set against the first Gulf War (Desert Storm.) Young Ebeneezer Wallace (I kid you not) knocks up his Chinese-American girlfriend, and then his army reserve unit gets sent to the Middle East. There are some interesting elements to the tale, but I there seemed to be a lack of overall cohesiveness. In a way it's a morality tale, but by the last page I'm still left wondering what Ben (Ebeneezer)has learned from his experience on the peripheries of war.

I am at work, (which means that I shouldn't be blogging) but I wanted a chance to expound a little on my decision-making process for my next read...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Better Life Through Suffering

Okay, I've been here at work for just over two hours. I'm walking around wishing that I had money and time. Specifically time off. I lied in my earlier post. There are actually places I would rather be today than buying decrepit books from desperate customers. I'd rather be walking in the woods with my own conscience for company. At least I'm not able to discard myself when I think something disappointing. I'm stuck with my own senses and values, so I somehow better find a way to enjoy the ride. As for others: They can discard me when I disappoint them, like some piece of garbage that cannot be recycled. All we can do in this life is try our best, and for some that may not be good enough, but I'm a human, whether I like that fact or not.

Happy Happy Happy

Gosh, I'm so happy to be at work today! The sun is shining; my checking account is 67 dollars in the negative; and my significant other is not speaking to me. I cannot think of any place I'd rather be today than work. Here I can serve those who have hefty bank accounts, and whose houses are all in order (so to speak.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Post Traumatic Dream Syndrome

I hate those mornings when you awake from a particularly disturbing dream. The dream may not even be memorable, but the emotional fallout stays with you for the rest of the day. The aspect of the dream that brought this on could be very simple: losing my son in the mall, or having a particularly bad argument with an ex of mine. Dream reconstructions that may not even be based on an actual event, but some distorted version of your actual memories. The reality of the dream doesn't seem to matter though. So I'm dealing with one of those mornings today. I don't remember the details of the dream, but to add discomfort to an already uneven awakening, my ex-wife called me shortly afterward with some question about refinancing the house, in order to take my name off the deed. It was like bitter frosting on an already sour cake.

Speaking of Cake: I attended the KNDD's Deck the Hall Ball last night with my 17-year-old stepson (is "stepson" the correct nomenclature?) There was a six-band lineup, which means that the couple of bands were less than stellar. In fact the first "band," Sleigh Bells, was downright awful. They were composed of two members: a screaming banshee, and a punk-like dude on electric guitar, who kept running in front of his precious Marshall Amps, and playing with buttons on his computer. I kept thinking of the morality tale The Emperor Has No Clothes. Here we were being told that this "band" was the next great thing. They will blow you away. Instead I think that Sleigh Bells actually sucked, yet we were being cajoled into thinking greatness. I wasn't falling for it.

Cake was the third band of the night. I had been wanting to catch Cake live for many years, but this was probably not the event for that moment. They only played for about a half hour, and seemed less than tight. Maybe it was the fact that they flew from the east coast that morning.

The highlight of the night was The Black Keys without a doubt. They were the next to last band, and I think most folks left just after their set, not waiting around for Broken Bells.

I could expound more on last night's show, but I'm quite hungry and I hear a certain bagel shop calling. First I need to drip some gasoline into the tank on my car, and stop by the Jalisco Mexican Restaurant, and pay them ten dollars from yesterday's lunch. I had the cash, but they were short on change. I'm leaving a little early, but I'll have time to do some reading before reporting for duty at the bookstore.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In Between Books

I finished reading my first lean and mean Parker novel by Richard Stark last night. It was a quick and intense read, but now I'm in that netherworld in between books. I have a few that I was going to peruse last night, but instead I ended up writing until four in the morning. I haven't done that in a while. I didn't write in my journal, which is well overdue, but some things have to wait (like my personal whines and rants going into a journal that will disappear at the demise of technology.)

I'm tempted to read David Rakoff's latest collection of essays entitled Half Empty. It's message appears to be directed at misanthropes like me. The holiday season is just ripe for misanthropy, believe me. I'm also considering reading an advance copy of Matt Briggs latest novel, The Strong Man, which was passed my way. He is a Pacific Northwest author, and he'll be doing an event for the book at our store next month. It might be nice to have read the book when he comes.

I have tomorrow off, because I will be attending the "Deck the Hall Ball" at the WAMU center (named after a bank that failed a couple of years ago.) The doors open at 4:30 and there are six bands in the lineup, including Cake, The Black Keys and Jimmy Eat World. I will be accompanied by my companion's 17-year-old son. He is psyched to be seeing an actual rock show. I'm just hoping that I'll be able to sit down for the show, being the cranky curmudgeon that I am.

Enough with the Bagels Already

Post midnight blogging. There's nothing like it. I put my on headphones, and listen to music at unhealthy levels. I struggle to come up with some words that somehow describe my life as it currently stands. Maybe I'll get lucky and turn a phrase that I'm happy with, or come up with a particular rant that is cathartic.

Lately my posts have felt more like laundry lists: go to bagel shop, read book, go to work. Boring. But thought takes time, at least in my head it does. It may feel like I have less time these days, but the truth is that it's the same amount of time, it's just being filled up by other events besides writing blog posts. I've tried to write some posts on the fly, but those are the ones that sound more like banal lists of today's tasks.
****

So, I did eat at the bagel shop today. It was Monday, so I figured that I had gone the weekend without tasting those yummy everything bagels, with veggie cream cheese. I was due. I also felt quite flush with a ten dollar bill in my pocket. One of the youth that works the counter at Bagel Oasis recently clued me to the fact that there were free refills on soft drinks, even though they sell small, medium and large. For the longest time I just automatically ordered a large, which is self-serve. The whole pricing tiers and self-serve aspect of the soft drink sales at Bagel Oasis often had me scratching my head. Now I order a medium, and usually top it off once. I save 70¢, or something like that.

That is today's bagel update. Someday I may tire of this dietary routine, but not just yet. I'll probably have more to write about my visits to Bagel Oasis in the future. Maybe something about the nubile young women, who work the counter there; and how I'm old enough to be their grandfather. I may sometime write about the characters who come in regularly for their bagel fix (besides me.) People like my former neighbor, who purposefully avoids eye contact with me, when I'm sitting in the adjacent booth. He is probably harboring judgments against me, because of my divorce; or because I wasn't the most social of neighbors. Too bad, so sad.

Will I eat at the bagel shop on Tuesday (of which it now is, because it's nearly 3:30 a.m.)? Only time will tell. Speaking of time. I have once again run the clock out. It's time to brush my aging teeth and crawl into bed beside the love of my life. I sense some spooning in my near future.
****

I'll leave you with one of my favorite numbers performed by Raul Malo the other night at the Tractor Tavern. (Yes! I actually got off my ass and attended a live show!) Unfortunately, I could not find a video of Raul singing "Moonlight Kiss" on YouTube but I did find a number of videos of a line dancing group in Australia, performing a nifty routine to this number. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Out With the Old

There is something cleansing about trading my old books. I've been trucking some of these books around the country for years. Over those years my tastes have changed. Also, my collection has quickly outgrown any residence I might be able to afford these days. It's time to hone my reading list, and start some of those literate tomes I've been putting off until my retirement.

The rain is continuous lately, so that give me the impetus to go through all my boxes in the garage. If I'm disciplined this week I may actually finish reading Portnoy's Complaint. Other than that it's pretty much business as usual this week. At work we are hoping that sales will continue to increase as the Big Consumerist Holiday nears.

Time to grab a little lunch before braving the elements.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Why Oh Why?

Why have I been so remiss when it comes to blogging? My goal was to at least surpass the number of posts last year by a few, a mere few, but if I don't get on the ball I may actually fall short of my goal. I should have been posting pictures of our beautiful snowfall last week, but I need to actually purchase a new photo card for my camera. Even though I don't buy into the whole Merry Consumerist season, I still have the feeling of being busy, because I work in retail. Customer service is the most thankless job there is when it comes to the holiday season.

Other than being lazy when it comes to blogging, I have been slowly making my way through Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint. It's an extremely well written book, but ultimately it's still a 274 page rant to Alex Portnoy's psycho-analyst. Brilliant writing or not, I can only read someones rant for so long. Portnoy's complaints about his Jewish parents starts to get repetitive after a while. I think I may have to burn through a mystery/thriller after finishing this novel.

I am still in love, even though the forces of society sometimes make me wonder about the sanity of the rest of the globe. I feel quite happy that I have managed to find someone who is at least as sane as I am (which may not be saying much.) If only we could be snowed in for the rest of the winter, to read and revel in our couple-ship. Let the rest of the world bustle about in some false sense of importance. We know that they are just running in circles.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stuck in the Middle

It's Wednesday. The middle of the work week. "Hump Day" to some, drudgery to others. The rain is steadily dropping to the absorbent earth today. I'm about to eat yet again at the bagel shop. It's an eating habit that I cannot seem to shake yet, but like any other repetitive eating habit, it will fade with time. I finished reading Jar City, an "Icelandic thriller," a few days ago, but I haven't been able to commit to a new book yet. I've been bring a few with me to work, including Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth, and Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. I'm not sure what fictional world I want to dive into.

Last night I watched the recent film adaptation of Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside of Me, starring Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, and the multi-talented Jessica Alba. If you are not familiar with the story, it's about a psychopathic cop, who has a penchant for sadistic sex. The film was publicity worthy for the film beating that the Jessica Alba character is subject to. Needless to say, the film was not easy to watch. I think part of the success of Jim Thompson's novels is the voice, the narration, but the interior mind of a psychopath is difficult to film, especially without making the audience sick. The dark humor of Thompson's novels are lost when the depravity of the characters is actually seen on film.

Now I venture forth into the gray rain of the Pacific Northwest. There is an author event tonight at the bookstore, and I have already mentally committed to introducing the author, since my co-worker (the fledgling rock star) absolutely "fucking hates" doing introductions.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Monday Sweet Monday

Monday has the psychological power that it does, because the majority of us start our work week on Monday. Luckily for me, one of my co-workers traded shifts with me today, so I do not have to punch in until 2 pm. That gives me time for lunch, and reading before putting on my customer service face.

I nearly finished Jar City, an Icelandic mystery over the weekend. I'll most likely finish it before turning in tonight. It's a decent thriller, with a fast moving plot, but I miss the lack of characterization that one tends to get in more literate novels. It doesn't help that I just finished reading an excellent novel that also doubled as a fast-paced thriller.

Now I must step into my own Monday, which happens to be overcast at the moment.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Music Video

Thanks to moving my entire compact disc collection over to the house, I now have new music to load into my computer. Last night I enjoyed listening to Annie Lennox's first two albums. Here is a cut from her first solo album: "Diva"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Time is Up

Tuesday and the deluge is back. We had a sunny respite over the weekend, but the dark damp has returned. A large part of my book collection is now putting its trust in the infallibility of our detached garage, which is probably not going to live up to its expectations. I already spotted a leak directly leaking onto a stack of books. Oh well, material possessions will not follow me into the (imaginary) afterlife.

I think that I'll stop trying to talk myself out of going to the bagel shop once again, especially now that they have started to get my order right. It's also a nice spot to relax before going into work. I'm about halfway through the book Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and I'd love to just spend this rainy day reading, but I'll have to settle for an hour of reading time in the church parking lot before my shift starts.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shed a Little Tear

Today all of the liberal (read: sensible) people are a little verklempt. It's sometimes hard to fathom how the working masses consistently vote against their own best interests. They have been duped into thinking that any tax is bad. Our flag-waving, tea-partying citizens must somehow believe that little fairies come out at night and fix the potholes in the road, or that the public school system is staffed by volunteers. (It almost feels that way due to the continued undervaluing of our educators in this country.) On the bright side: Dino Rossi became a three-time loser. What's next for Dino? There are so many options on the horizon. I'm sure he could be a guaranteed loser at most anything if he put his mind to it.

I finished reading Steve E. Landsburg's Big Questions, which ended up irritating more than educating me. It certainly was the wrong book to start reading during my long weekend. I have already started reading Tom Franklin's latest novel, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, and it's the kind of book that makes you consider calling in sick to work to finish. I'm already running in the negative in both sick days and vacation time, so that's out of the question for me.

For whatever reason, probably none, I have been listening to a lot of Grateful Dead recently. I've discovered some of their live stuff that has been released over the last decade, some of it dating back to 1967, and I'm quite enjoying it. I was never a Deadhead. In fact, I only saw them live once, (plus I saw Jerry Garcia on tour with his own band.) I watched them sitting next to a die-hard Deadhead, and he was carping the whole time that the previous night's show in Hartford was much better. In the meantime, he's taping the show, and jotting the down the song list. Now that Jerry is dead and gone, I still enjoy listening to his meandering and melodic style of guitar playing.

Even though I am tempted to stay up until four in the morning, watching a movie, I am going to give into good sense and turn in. I still have a few items in storage at my previous residence, such as my bicycle and my collection of movie posters from the 1970s. You know, precious stuff. It would probably be a good idea to clean out my possessions from the old homestead for good. Lucky for me, I am renting a house with a garage, which easily fits all of my unnecessary crap.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Back on Home Turf

Which means that the food supply is always running low, due to the presence of hungry teenagers in the house. It means that the little stresses of life threaten to come creeping in at the edges of our existence. Now we must seek out quiet corners to read, and only in uninterrupted increments of ten minutes. Even then there is always a chance that one might hear the loud brays of laughter coming from the basement, which might be off-putting to someone immersed in the novel about the Holocaust, or trying to decipher the secrets of the universe as plotted out by some self-serving economist.

The extended weekend itself was dreamy, as always. No matter where I may travel with my Significant Other, I always feel as if we are adrift on a timeless, and stress-free island . . . that is until check out arrives at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning, which all the more abrupt when you were thinking that checkout was at noon, and you've already lounged around until just past eleven.

Before arriving home to who-knows-what, we picked up my son, and went out to lunch at the Ram Brewery & Restaurant, situated on the west side of the beautiful Northgate Mall. Today being Halloween, many of the waitresses were scantily dressed in some type of costume, be it a tigress, or some leather-clad hooker. It just so happens that our waitress was dressed as a waitress. We ordered our usual helpings of meat and fried foods, accompanied by sweetened and carbonated drinks. My son was obviously quite tired, which he usually is after spending any time with mommy. She doesn't believe in idle time, whereas daddy has mastered the art of idleness.

Tomorrow it is back to work at the bookstore. Monday means that I'll be working the day shift, 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.. Most likely I'll have lots of books to shelve, since being away four consecutive days. And being a creature of habit, I'll most likely have lunch at Bagel Oasis, just down the street from the bookstore. I'll have my usual two everything bagels, toasted, with one schmear of veggie cream cheese shared between the two. Then I stand back and watch what how close the young workers behind the counter come to getting my order to me correctly. I would say that their success rate is less than fifty percent. Lucky for me, those are percentage points that I can afford to do without. Regular cream cheese instead of veggie? No problem. Forgot to toast the bagels? Not an issue. I can chew. Maybe next time you'll get it right. The odds are against it though.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Don't Let the Sun Catch You . . .

. . . Going to work. Ah yes, the sun has decided to grace us with its presence today. Meanwhile, I'm about to go into work until 10 p.m. tonight. The good news is that I have the next two days off. The plan was to fly to Madison for the next FFRF convention, but in the last two weeks stress and overwork, sprinkled with a few unnecessary elements thrown in by my ex-wife, and we have all the ingredients for a required extended weekend of R & R.

I have about 30 pages left to read in The Orange Eats Creeps, so I'll finish that today, and not a moment too soon. I don't want to be reading about Teenage Hobo Vampire Junkies over my break. I think I'm going to tackle The Big Questions next by Steve Landsburg, an economist attempting to clarify some of "the big questions" by using the latest research in physics, mathematics, and economics.

Other than reading, relaxing, and other more personal pastimes, I will be moving the rest of my belongings (read: books, CDs, and other ephemera) over to my current abode by midnight on Sunday. Otherwise all of my belongings will likely be turned into pumpkins . . . or end up at Goodwill.

Well, it's time to venture out into the sunshine, scrounge up some lunch, and then head into the old grind known as Ravenna Third Place Books. Adios.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What Happened to Me?

My last post revealed my slight fetish for women wearing black knee-high riding boots; and then I just seemed to disappear . . . at least from my blog anyway. Actually, life did go on, and continues to go on. Some things stay the same, but there is always some slight variation. For instance, my ex-wife has decided to draw a line in the sand over a label: "stepmom." Meanwhile, I continue to try and read all the books in my collection, while at the same time continuing to bring home more books. I still don't get out to the movie theatre like I should (or used to.) My Significant Other and I are going away a week from tomorrow.

Speaking of going away, wasn't it only last month that we took a jaunt down to Portland for a little rest, relaxation and reading? Yes, in fact it was just after Labor Day that we took a little break. Frankly, it feels like months ago. There are two teenagers living in the house, and then my "almost 5" year old son arrives on Thursdays and stays through Sunday. About the only way we can get some peace and quiet that last for more than a half hour is to drive away out of earshot.

The sun is still gracing us with its presence. I can only hope that it decides to stick around for the weekend. There's nothing better than getting my son out to the playground for a few hours. It beats having him inside devising ways to convince us to let him play the Wii (or "little Wii," or PSP.)

Now it's time to make my regular trip to the library to pick up some new music. I'll also have time to visit my favorite bagel shop, before I park myself under the shade tree at the local church, and immerse myself in the latest book I've chosen to read.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Speaking of Boots . . .

Is it wrong for a man to complement a woman on her footwear? Specifically, a pair of knee high leather boots that look like they are made to dig into a horse's flanks in order to get it to move? There was a woman in the bookstore today, quizzing me about our used book buying procedures. She was an attractive woman, probably close to my age range. I didn't notice her boots until she started to walk away. I had a strong urge to exclaim "nice boots!" but coming from a man, my comments would probably be perceived as sexual in nature...which they would be, of course. I opted for the safer route, and held my tongue. Besides, she probably has a collection of whips at home in her closet.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Smells Like Bootylicious

Okay...I admit that I'm behind the curve on a lot of videos that have already made the loop through our electronic society. I just discovered this mash-up tonight, while reading a recent paper cuts blog on the New York Times, written by Matthew Sharpe. Sharpe's latest novel, You
Were Wrong
, is my featured staff pick for October. His blog lists some of his favorite musical cover versions, and the "Smells Like Bootylicious" mash-up made the list. Here it is in all its glory:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sun Break

Fall is being staved off momentarily, while the sun blankets the city with its warmth today. I'm up early enough to get out and have some lunch and some substantial reading time. I'm just over halfway through Will Bunch's Backlash, and I can safely say that I'm tired of reading about the ignorant masses that are gaining power in our young country. I'm ready for another zombie novel at this point. At least the zombies have better personalities than the tea-baggers.

I was thrilled to meet a celebrity last night in the bookstore. At least he's a celebrity in my eyes: Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos, and author of the new leftist polemic (and I mean that in a good way) American Taliban. I told him last night that Will Bunch was a little too kind with the tea-baggers, and Markos replied that he takes "no quarter" in his book. In fact, he's been accused by the left of being too mean. Yeah, we just let their fools shout "Liar!" in a crowded congress, while we sit back on our good manners. Bullshit!

Time to take in a little sunshine before work.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jonathan Richman

Here's a late night/early morning bonus video, because I'm too tired to write anything. A little Jonathan Richman for y'all with "I Was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Back to Work

I did work last Thursday and Friday, after our little jaunt to Portland, but today marked the beginning of my first full week back at the bookstore. And I left at lunchtime on Friday, because my son had been quite sick with some type of stomach virus. Priorities. I'm back to sticking books in my cabinet, so that I can consider buying them this week. I can't even remember what books I set aside, beside one I found for my Significant Other. She recently read This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper, and a used copy of an earlier book of his came in today.

I'm about a hundred pages into Will Bunch's book Backlash. The subtitle is: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama. Will Bunch, who also wrote Tear Down This Myth about the sainthood of Ronald Reagan by the misty-eyed right, gives a fair account of the craziness that has been popping up since the election of Barack Obama. I wasn't sure if I was ready to read a 350 page book on the Tea Partiers (I still prefer "Tea Baggers"), Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, "Birthers", and the rest of the lunacy that arose after the election of our first African-American.

Gosh, I wish Barack Obama really was instilling an era of socialism in America. I'd even settle for the namby pamby version, which is Democratic socialism. We are no where near either of those ideal options. Instead, Obama has tried to plow the middle ground, and still enact some reforms that would force the all-powerful corporations to pay heed to the law of the land. I'm one of those old-time Naderites, who firmly believe that the corporations run this country, and that they are in the process of running it into the ground. Witness the recent oil spill of biblical proportions in the Texas gulf (if God did things like oil spills.) Witness the morphing of real news journalism into some form of entertainment, which is a steady stream of salacious and bloody fictions, with a few facts thrown in to give it authenticity. It is the news after all.

So I'm enjoying Backlash, and reading some political nonfiction for a change. I have enjoyed the recent spate of novels that I have read over the summer months, but I may actually end up reading another political book next. I found out today that Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily KOs, will be in our store next Monday to promote his book, American Taliban. I'm excited about his appearance, and I may just try and at least start his book before his appearance. His blog was one of the half dozen or so that kept me sane during the 2008 election.

Other than my reading, there is not much new to report. My son is feeling much better after his bout with a virus last week. I'm already looking forward to some time off this weekend, and I still have four-fifths of the week left to go. I was browsing through some of the new DVD releases that are coming out in the next few weeks. For example: Criterion releases of Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line," Kubrick's "Paths of Glory" and the 1977 Japanese cult classic "House." Lots of good things to look forward to, including a trip to the annual FFRF convention in Madison at the end of October.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Back in Emerald City . . .

. . . But not quite home yet. We left Portland by train at 12:15 PM today, and arrived in Seattle just after four o'clock. We had planned ahead to stay one last night in town. We are staying in a fancy suite, but benefit from the fact that my Significant Other usually works on site during the week. If I gaze in between the tall buildings directly in view outside of the room windows, I can see parts of the Olympic Mountains, and once in a while a ferry slides into view. There is also a very deep tub that fits two quite nicely, thank you very much. Otherwise, there are three wide-screen televisions, including one in the bathroom, that are wasted on us. We come with books in hand, searching for reading nooks before we even make it to our room. My Significant Other actually has to get up for work in the morning, and be in her office by 7:30 AM. I'm luckier in the respect that my shift at the bookstore doesn't start until two in the afternoon. I have a feeling that my S.O. may be coming home early to care for Justin. It seems that he picked up a virus during his first week of pre-school.

Yesterday we made one more foray into Powell's before calling it good. I went prepared with a list this time, and found a few of the specific items I wanted. I picked up another 8 or 9 books (I don't feel like pulling them all out of the bag at the moment in order to give a more accurate count. I found a good deal on some Jeffrey Brown graphic novels. They are more memoirs actually, except for the adventures of Bighead. I also sprung for a used hardcover of Matthew Sharpe's debut collection, Stories From the Tube. I had purchased a reading copy of Jamestown on the previous day's visit to Powell's, but I'm keeping my eyes open for a nice hardcover edition. [I had written yesterday that it was initially the New York Times book review that got me interested in Sharpe's Jamestown, but it was actually the Salon.com review. In fact, Matthew Sharpe has a reprint of that particular review on his site, and it reminded me that I was an avid reader of Salon in that day. So, I stand corrected.]

I finally chose the book that I am currently reading: Horseman, Pass by by Larry McMurtry. But I am still high on the most recent book I read, Matthew Sharpe's You Were Wrong. It will be my featured staff pick at the bookstore for the month of October, which mean 20% off for any of you local shoppers!

Well, as the clock tends to do on most nights that I choose to post a blog, the has slipped past two in the morning. I should seriously consider getting some sleep before having to vacate my plush surroundings by noontime. I think my S.O. will be departing when I do, rather then staying here to work. Working is just a way of ruining a perfectly good vacation. My bright side is that I am only working two days before the weekend. And, as we all know, everybody's working for the weekend.


Forgive me. I didn't include barf bags with this blog; and pretty much any video from the '80s requires some type of vomit receptacle. You have to admit though, this damn song is infectious...just like a disease.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday in Rose City

Here we are at the Mark Spencer Hotel with just a mere block separating us from Powell's Books. We took the 11:25 AM train from Seattle yesterday morning, after dropping my son off with his mother. We watched in wonderment as an angry young man nearly came to blows one of the porters at King Street Station. It seems that he got off the train, and couldn't get back on until everyone else boarded. All that anger so early on a Sunday morning.

The train to Portland got us in just before 3 PM. We meandered our way over to the Mark Spencer, gazing into the window of Powell's en route, and exclaiming aloud at the crowds that seem to pack their every corner. We checked into our room, enduring as much of the stale cigarette smell as we could before heading out for a late lunch, and stopping by the front desk to request another room. We strolled across the street to the nearby Kenny and Zuke's Deli, and filled up on French fries, covered with cheese and pastrami. Needless to say, there was leftovers.

We then checked into a new room with less of a cigarette smoke odor, and more of an old musty hotel odor. We quickly transferred our things, and then headed over to Powell's for our first visit of the trip. I browsed through the sale books and the mystery sections for the most part. I came away with six books, all fiction, and for the most part, all titles I have been on the lookout for. I bought a paperback version of Jamestown by Matthew Sharpe. I just finished reading his latest book, You Were Wrong, and I've been wanting a copy of Jamestown ever since I initially read the review in the New York Times back in 2007.

Other titles I picked up yesterday were Wounded by Percival Everett, Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff (a nice unmarked hardcover), I Wake Up Screaming by Steve Fisher (Hollywood noir from the 1950s), and How the Dead Dream by Lydia Millet. I also picked up a cheap mass market version of Joseph Heller's Something Happened, because I've been contemplating making it a staff pick at work, but not before rereading it.

Today was a day just to lounge about the hotel room, read books, and do crossword puzzles in pen. Tonight we had Domino's pizza delivered, and I enjoyed a hot bath, before logging on to update my Goodreads, and to post this blog. Tomorrow is our last full day in Portland. We plan to make one more foray into Powell's bookstore. There is also a little noodle shop around the corner that will probably get our business. Otherwise, doctor's orders are for rest and relaxation . . . Doctor Mark that is. We may have to make another stop at Georgia's grocery store, to pick up various sundries, including my precious unsweetened iced tea.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Thrill of Anticipation

Now that there are a mere three days left until my Honey and I take our mini-vacation, we are downright giddy with anticipation. We're psychologically starting our vacation this Friday night, when we go to the nearby Crest Theatre to see "Cyrus." Saturday evening the kids will be doing their thing at PNO, which delightfully stands for Parents Night Out. Since the kids will be out, which may actually stay in, and enjoy the quietude that seems so rare in our house these days. We then leave fairly early on Sunday morning by train to Portland, Oregon.

I'm seventy pages into Matthew Sharpe's You Were Wrong, and I have already committed to making it my featured staff pick for October. The writing is brilliant, so much so that it's a little intimidating. The book is barely over 180 pages, but there is so much packed into every sentence. I still suspect that I'll get it finished before we leave on Sunday morning, so that I have the pleasure of starting something new for the trip. If you're a book person like I am, than you know the pleasure of choosing books to take on a trip. The fact that I'll be staying at a hotel a mere block from Powell's Books just means that I'll be bringing more books home than I left with. Typical behavior on my part.

Last weekend I happened to hear a song from John Scofield's tribute album to Ray Charles. The album is entitled "That's What I Say" and here he is doing a cut with another guy, whose name I cannot remember. It's something like Dick Weed, or Dork Boy...some appropriate appellation like that. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Trivial Tidbit

Here I sit, eating mini Snickers, and drinking berry fruit punch ("all natural.") This may just be the pause that refreshes, but I can't be sure about that. I just spent an hour and a half watching all of the bonus features on the Clash "Westway to the World" DVD. Even though I love The Clash ("The Only Band That Matters") I don't think I have the stamina to watch another 90 minutes of the actual documentary. I have the DVD on loan from a co-worker, but I gave him my copy of "Shaun of the Dead" to watch, so we're even.

I still have "Crazy Heart" at home from Netflix. It's going on three months now, and I haven't quite been in the mood to watch a formulaic movie about a country singer, battling personal demons and drink, and managing to make an emotional comeback at the end. I want to see Jeff Bridges' performance, and I won't avert my eyes when Maggie Gyllenhaal is on screen.

Besides pausing for mini Snickers, and writing a trivial blog post, I'm thinking of reading for another half hour or so, before turning in. I have officially started to reading Matthew Sharpe's new novel You Were Wrong. I have not quite been able to get into the story yet, but I'm barely thirty pages in. It may be that I still have the taste of zombies in my mouth from the last two books that I read. I would like to finish You Were Wrong before I leave for Portland on Sunday, so that I have the pleasure of picking something specifically to read on vacation. A vacation read, so to speak, but not in the James Patterson mold. More in the mold of a Brian Evenson, or Boris Vian. Those are a couple of the writers I'm interested in these days.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Treading Water

The skies are gray, but my mood is light blue. Today is Thursday, which means I work with a friend of mine today, and it also means that tomorrow is Friday. Friday I work the day shift, and then I get to spend the evening with my family.

I think I'll patronize the bagel shop today. It's been a couple of days. Then I'll give myself about an hour to read before heading into the daily grind.

I still peruse the political news every day, but it all just seems too crazy to even comment on. Some redneck pastor in Florida is about to having Koran burning party on September 11th. There are only about 50 people in his congregation, but Pastor Dumb Ass is proud to put his ignorant flock in the international limelight. I personally am not offended by people burning religious documents, just as I am not offended by the burning of a flag. Symbols are just that: symbols. And their materialistic counterparts are just so much paper and cloth. What riles me is the total ignorance that seems to be pervading this country, and growing at a phenomenal rate. Who would have thought that simply electing a black man to the presidency would drive those looneys, who were already near the edge of sanity, right over the edge.

Just a Pause

Try as I might, I cannot seem to get to bed before 3 AM. I may make it there tonight, but just barely. I was compelled to read until just past two in the morning, and now I'm closing up shop. I just wanted to make a brief post before retiring.

My son (and his mother) dropped by the bookstore this afternoon. Hearing Justin exclaim "Daddy!" and then turning to see him running towards me, always puts a smile on my face. He'll be showing up for his three-night visit tomorrow afternoon. I'm sure he'll be requesting Wii™ time immediately, but we do our best around here to moderate his gaming.

I have been contemplating buying some type of bare-bones laptop, so that I can write on the go. I have always been able to get my thoughts down more efficiently by typing than longhand. I often encounter sights that inspire me to jot down some thoughts and ideas. For instance: Today I was driving north on Roosevelt Avenue, heading towards my local library, when I saw a young woman in a black track suit spit upon the street. She was on the center island, about to cross the lane I was in, and I was struck by the fact that she had just spit on the street. When I glanced her way I noticed that she was in fact brushing her teeth. Hence the spitting in public.

Maybe if I had a laptop, and a few minutes to type, I could come up with some pithy statement about brushing one's teeth, while jaywalking. What's next? Shaving your armpits while you wait for the bus?

I currently have a reading agenda, which I have entirely imposed upon myself. I am almost midway through my second zombie novel. I shelf the horror section at work, and I thought it was about time that I read something from my section. Also, these two books in particular (Pariah and The Reapers Are the Angels) looked more promising that the usual tripe that ends up in horror. Next up, I would like to read the new novel by Matthew Sharpe, entitled You Were Wrong. I loved his earlier novel, The Sleeping Father. In fact, I made it a staff pick at work. My hope is that I can finish You Were Wrong (it's relatively short) before our train ride to Portland on the 19th, so that I can start something fresh for the trip.

I have managed to move the clock a little closer to three in the morning. Time to close this up, and head to bed. Tomorrow is my last night shift of the week, which means that I need to get up early on Friday. Let's hope that the sun decides to get up with me that day.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Start and the Finish

I have actually started more than a few blog posts lately, only to have to save them for later, when time gets away from me, and it becomes to late to finish anything I have started. It is now the seventh of September. My love and I will be going for a mini-vacation in just under two weeks. That little sojourn seems to be the only thing on my mind lately. I must really need a vacation.

I finished reading Pariah by Bob Fingerman last night. It was the first of two zombie books that I plan to read. I will start The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell (pen name) today, and hope that it's as well written and as entertaining as Pariah.

Speaking of zombies: I was perusing my favorite political blog today, and stumbled upon this preview that I just have to share with you. It's from a new series on AMC ("Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad") this fall called "The Walking Dead." I may actually have to start watching TV again.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Break in the Clouds

The sun has finally burned through the clouds, here at about quarter past three in the afternoon. That's about par for the course these days. The nights are getting chillier (Yeah!)and the cloud cover threatens to stay around the whole day through. But overall today's forecast calls for laziness, and a general tendency to layabout. I have not yet found the energy to walk out on to the deck in order to sit and read. And there are still piles of books in my office to shelve.

I'm nearly done reading The Extra Man by Jonathan Ames, and it's just what the doctor ordered. It's funny yet poignant. It's Quirky with a capital Q, and it's sexually perverse. What more could a reader ask for? The writing is quite enjoyable, but I'm also champing at the bit to read some of the recent titles that have been added to my collection, such as two novels with zombie themes: Pariah by Bob Fingerman and The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell. For whatever reason I am in a zombie mood. Something gory, yet philosophic. Frightening and at times laugh-out-loud funny. Maybe I'm hoping for a little much, but any books I read now are still technically "summer reads."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Soon to be a Major Motion Picture

My reading over the last few month has been greatly influenced by upcoming movies. I just finished reading A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth, which is being released this fall as "The American," starring George Clooney. Before that I read Ghost by Robert Harris, and now "The Ghost Writer," directed by Roman Polanski is at the top of my Netflix queue. Recently I also read Sideways by Rex Pickett, (One of my all-time favorite films) True Grit (Once a film made famous by its star John Wayne, and soon to be re-shot by the Coen brothers) by Charles Portis, Pop. 1280 (a new film version starring Casey Affleck was briefly in the theaters)by Jim Thompson and On the Beach by Neville Shute.

The books above are all books that I've been that have been on my to-read list (with the exception of A Very Private Gentleman.) The book that I will start before the end of the day is The Extra Man by Jonathan Ames. I have been wanting to read some of his work for years, and the new release of "The Extra Man," starring Kevin Kline, finally got me to pull one of his works off the shelf.

I finally made my reservations for the Concourse Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin, for late October; Halloween weekend to be exact. This year will be the fourth consecutive time that I have attended the annual Freedom From Religion convention. I made a promise to myself after attending my first convention that I would make an effort to attend every year. I don't do much for myself, as far as groups or organizations. My wife will never lose me to the golf course; but I felt right at home with the other attendees of FFRF's convention.

But Before Madison there will be a little sojourn to Portland, Oregon. My Significant Other and I will take the train from Seattle and stay three nights at a hotel a mere block from Powell's Bookstore. Working at an independent bookstore myself, I always have to support other independent bookstores. The only drawback with shopping at other bookstores though is that I don't get the 40% discount that I get on my home turf. I have compiled a very short list of authors to look for at Powell's during our visit. The little vacation if just under a month away, but I'm giving myself permission to start counting. I don't see any event on the horizon that would hamper our plans.

After our three nights in Portland we will take the train back north to the Emerald City, and stay one more night away from home in a luxury suite in an undisclosed location. Why rush back into the routine of home life? In the meantime I still have just over three weeks of work before our little break.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More Fridays Please

I really want today to be Friday. I want to have dinner with my son tonight, and look forward to hanging out at the park with him in the morning. But today is only Thursday, and that means that I need to go to work, and shelves books. On the bright side, I'm working with my favorite co-worker tonight, and my least favorite co-worker is on vacation this week.

My son and his mom should be en route from Montana back home to Seattle. Justin's mom will be dropping at the door tomorrow, and I'm sure he'll need a bath after a week in the woods. He'll also be probably be requiring some gaming time, but he's due that, I guess.

Right now I get to have lunch with my Significant Other before it's off to work. Maybe if we get comfortable under a shady tree I may just forget about employment obligations.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Parental Worries and the Reading Queue

Being a parent comes with its own set of worries and concerns. My son is currently on a camping trip with his mom, which is a great thing. The worry comes in when the details of the trip emerge. They —mother and son — travelled by car from Seattle to Glacier National Park in Montana late Sunday afternoon. Mom's plan was to drive late into the night, and then to stop briefly for a rest at a motel on the way. At that point they would be a short drive to the campgrounds. Mom freely informed me that Glacier was where celebrity zookeeper, Jack Hanna, was recently attacked by a bear. (I hear that his visage is on wanted posters all through the animal kingdom.) We're also talking about a vacation spot that is most likely out of cell phone range. I don't recall Grizzly Adams texting Mad Jack, checking on his safety.

I'm sure everything is fine, and my bright-eyed, and funny-as-all-get-out son is having a blast. I just wished that they had brought along Molly, the dog. That would have at least given me a feeling of safety, knowing that the dog would protect the family from wild animals and intruders (at least Molly would attempt to protect them until she was overpowered by the larger animal and...) But I wouldn't be surprised if dogs are not allowed at Glacier National Park.

Due to the camping trip I will be seeing my son Justin a day later than usual this week. By that point I will welcome his Wii talk. At any moment, he is liable to walk up and whisper in my ear, "Daddy, I have a great idea. First: we eat breakfast. Then we go to the park. Then we come back and play the Wii game..." By the time he gets back from the wilderness he will be having Wii withdrawal. That might not be a bad thing.

On the reading front: I am more than halfway through Robert Harris's The Ghost, which is a political thriller, featuring a British ex-Prime Minister, who is obviously modeled on Tony Blair. The title refers to the Prime Minister's ghost writer, who is helping him to pen his memoirs. It's quite a page turner, even though it's in a class with Crichton, Cussler, and their ilk. Actually, it's quite well written, but I don't think Harris is attempting to convey any heavy philosophical ideas through his thriller. It certainly works as entertainment though.

Next up in my reading queue is A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth. I was drawn to this book, because I recently saw a trailer for an upcoming film called "The American," starring George Clooney, and it's based on this book. I was previously familiar with Booth's name as an author for his cultural history of marijuana, called Cannabis. The book A Very Private Gentleman is touted as a literary thriller. The narrator is an international criminal with a taste for the quiet life, and painting butterflies. After reading two thrillers in a row I think I'll be ready to read something a little more literary. I've been wanting to read Hardy's Mayor of Casterbridge for a while now. And then there are a multitude of other books I'd like to read before my eyes fade. Ah well. So many books, so little time.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hazy, Hot and Humid

I was coated in a sheen of sweat as I toiled in the bookstore today. It seemed that the air conditioning unit was barely breathing. Of course the automatic doors don't help, as — along with customers — a rush of hot humid air comes inside every time someone says "open sesame." I imagine all these customers taking their books home to read in the shade, maybe even reclining in a hammock. And whenever they take a book off the shelf to purchase, I'm right there to replace it, or to shift the other books over and just generally straighten it all out so I'm satisfied with the appearance of my section.

Today I started reading The Ghost by Robert Harris. I'm reading it in anticipation of seeing the film ("The Ghost Writer") soon. It garnered good reviews upon its release, and I believe it was even nominated for a few Oscars©, for whatever that's worth. The book is a typical beach/airport read in the vein of Michael Crichton, or Clive Cussler. I'm usually quite judgmental of this type of book, but there is nothing wrong with ingesting some mindless fodder once in a while. I can try and unlock the secrets of consciousness at another time.

The clock shows that it's past two in the morning. I need to go out and lounge on the deck for a bit — where there is a cool breeze — before turning in for the night. Tomorrow I'm working a day shift of sorts. I need to be into work by eleven in the morning, and I'll leave for home at 7:30 pm. There is an author event tomorrow evening, so I can help set up for that. And there is always shelving to do.
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I have been listening to a lot of Iggy Pop lately. I even posted a video of him recently, singing one of my favorite songs from the late 1970s: "I'm Bored" Tonight I'm posted a slightly altered version of another of Mr. Pop's hits: "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog." Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

No Excuses

I'm not even going to try and come up with a list of excuses for not blogging lately. Let's just say that life gets in the way sometimes. It's just a couple of minutes before 12:30 PM, which means I must leave soon if I plan on getting something to eat on the way to work. Yesterday my back gave me a serious warning that it was likely to throw a wrench into the works if I was not careful. That was all the warning I needed to leave work a couple of hours early, and come home to pop a few muscle relaxants. I ended up having a very restful sleep, and my back has been minding its own business this morning, so that's a plus.

I finished reading Citrus County last night, and now I need to pick a book to read. It's always tough when I am scheduled to go to work, and I haven't picked something to read yet. I have a book on the way from the local library, so I'm looking for a quick read to fit in before the book arrives.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Odd Day

Today is an Odd Day in the fact that I am going into work at noon rather than 2pm. I'm already screwed up, because I should eat before work, but I'm not hungry yet. I'll get my break around 4pm. I guess the plus side is that I'll be home at 8:30pm as opposed to 10;30pm. Viva la difference.

I have actually sat down to write a blog post more than once since my last post, but it always ends up being quite late. Lately sleep has won over, and I put away my blog for another day. The heat has also kept me a little less active than I usually am. I recline on the couch to read my book and then the white noise from the fan lulls me to sleep. Ah well.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bonus Boredom Video

Here is the one and only Iggy Pop singing about a predicament that he finds himself in. Take a listen.

Anyone Bored?

It is late Thursday night, or early Friday morning, depending on your viewpoint. Is the glass half empty, or half full? Are we leaning into the weekend, or merely winding down from Thursday? Whatever it is, I'm sitting here trying to throw a few hundred words together in some semblance of a blog post. Aerosmith (of all groups!) is blasting out of my headphones; their vibratory musical sounds winding their way through my ear canal, and presenting themselves to my mind to be decoded. Late 1970s, early 1980s hard rock band hailing from Boston and its environs. Lead singer originally noted for his resemblance to Mick Jagger (big pouty lips, bulging crotch at the forefront), but he soon outgrew that label. Known for hits such as "Dream On," "Walk This Way," and "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" among others.

One more day of work. One more day of finding authors on shelves for customers. "Where's your nonfiction section?" "Do you have any used copies of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo?" "Is The Help in paperback yet?" Once in a while I can direct folks towards personal favorites such as Edward Abbey, Dan Chaon, and Jim Krusoe. I'm quite anxious to start John Brandon's sophomore effort, Citrus County. I need enough time to carve at least 50 pages out of it before closing the cover. I don't want just a little taste. I want to immerse myself in the text for an afternoon. I should have plenty of opportunity for that this weekend. Who knows? I might even get it finished by Monday.

And then it's on to the next book, filling my mind with words and ideas. Filling it with the trials and tribulations of fictional characters, but also examining my own ideals and situations through the eyes of the author. Movies are fun, and music soothes my soul, but literature and taken me across centuries and taught me who I could be. [Sounds corny, but we call it Maisy.] Now I while away my hours alphabetizing, pricing used books, receiving new books, and assisting other readers track down just the right title for them.

I never understand anyone who complains of boredom. Their ennui is self-induced and false, because there are books to read, and music to enjoy. One of my favorite pastimes has always been taking a long, leisurely walk, and letting my mind wander, and my allow my woes to drop away. Others find fulfillment in sport, or gardening. But boredom? Please spare me the sound of a siren like whine winding its way into my canals, thanks to your lack of imagination.

Boredom is a state of mind and a choice, because one can always choose to lift one's duff from the soft and inviting sofa and take action. Even if that action is only walking a dozen or so steps to the kitchen to boil water for tea. There may even be a few crumpets left to accompany that tea. And this imagined entity can take the tea and crumpets out onto the veranda, and enjoy the view of the vineyards. Poof! Boredom gone. At the other end of the spectrum: You could take a short trip to the 7-Eleven and pick up a 12-pack of something cheap and encased in aluminum. (Aluminum - Its atomic number is 13) Then you could watch one of the many sports programs sponsored by that very beer you're sipping (slurping? Gulping?) Poof! Boredom gone.

Tonight — to battle that phantom known as "boredom" — I have chosen to write a rambling, and ponderous blog post. Late night/early morning be damned. Full speed ahead. I also have the advantage of knowing that mon amour will be taking my loquacious and energetic son to work with her in the morning. He will have fun there, and I will get a few more hours of precious sleep before heading to work.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Missing You...

No, I'm not on vacation again. I just seem to be at a severe lack of free time lately. Nothing has really changed, but it just feels like I have less free time. Evidently, my blog posts have slipped down the rungs on my ladder of priorities. If I had a laptop, and free Wi-Fi where ever I roamed, then I would probably post more often. I was in the mood to write just before work today, while I was sitting in the shade behind a local church. The time before work is usually reserved for reading though.

Speaking of reading, I finished reading my first (and the first) Inspector Van der Valk mystery this evening. It showed promise, and I'll probably read a few more in the series at some point, but I have a feeling that my admiration for the character is reserved for the old BBC series. I've already picked the next book that I'll read: Citrus County by John Brandon. I loved Brandon's debut novel, Arkansas, and I even have a signed copy. Citrus County was just released, and I'm hoping that I can write up a complementary staff pick card for it, to help boost its sales in our store.

Now it's time to get to bed, before the robins start to sing, and all the drunks are asleep.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Random Thoughts


Sunset is the close of the day. It's also the name of a magazine featuring the west coast of the USA. The sunset years, or "golden" years are the pseudonyms for the last days of human life. The sun does not actually set anywhere, of course. It just hangs there in the heavens, exerting gravitational force on the planets that surround it, keeping them in its orbit. It is a huge nuclear furnace that enables little old us out here on planet Earth to live as we do. That's right, because of the warmth of the sun we have nice green lawns, white water rafting, and plenty of flora and fauna to go around.
* * * *

I've had a $25 Best Buy card since my birthday at the beginning of last month, and I finally found a reason to use it yesterday. The latest film directed by Noah Baumbach, "Greenberg" was released on DVD yesterday. After the sale cost of "Greenberg," I still had five bucks to use, so I found a copy of "The French Connection" and "The French Connection II" for only $9.99. I don't know if there are any extras, because the packaging is pretty bare bones. Now that I think of it, I seem to remember that I saw "The French Connection II" at a drive-in theater way back when. No wonder I don't remember it very well. Drive-in movie theaters were never really for watching movies.

In fact, I've been pondering going to the drive-in theater this summer at some point. The only problem is that during the summer way up here in the Pacific Northwest the sun sets at about 10 pm (if at all!) They also have outdoor movies in some of the neighborhoods here in Seattle, where you show up with your blankets, and snacks, and "enjoy the show." Lots of stuff to do here in Seattle when the sunshine is available for use.

I should be done reading The Chalk Circle Man tomorrow at some point. It's quite enjoyable, especially because I read mysteries for the characters and dialogue. The Chalk Circle Man is the first in a series, and I can certainly see myself returning to these characters again. I think I'll be reading another mystery next, by the British author Nicolas Freeling. There was a BBC series based on his Inspector Van der Valk mysteries back in the 1970s, and I really enjoyed that show, so I thought I'd give the books a try. The first book, Love in Amsterdam (aka Death in Amsterdam) is waiting for me at my local library.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

International Hump Day

Yes, it's Wednesday again. It's a gorgeous day outside. Not too hot. Not too cool. Just right to play hooky. Oops! I did that last week. I guess I need to work all five days this week. Actually, I came very close to taking Monday off. There was this plumbing problem that nearly brought me to tears, but at that point I was ready to get out of the house, and in to work.

As has become my habit lately, I will head to the bagel shop for lunch, and then to my favorite reading spot before work. I'm about halfway through The Chalk Circle Man, and, as with most mysteries, I expect this to be a quick read. It's quite fun, and just chock full of quirky characters. Certainly not high brow entertainment, but then again it's not the Overton Window either.

Monday, July 12, 2010

It's All Over Too Soon...

It is very late, or very early depending on your point of view. I just came in from the deck. I sometimes sit out there during these early morning hours. It's usually very quiet, and peaceful. Tonight there was a mist blowing in the breeze. The online weather report described the current condition as a "drizzle." Whatever the label, the precipitation felt nice upon my skin, especially after the recent spate of unusually hot days.

My son left for NYC earlier today. He will be back late Friday, so time with him this week will not be all that much less than usual. This is his second cross-continental trip in just over a month. He'll be doing the town in New York, and the forecast is calling for rain, so he'll be doing some indoor activities. I look forward to his happy and healthy return.

Again, after finishing the excellent novel Jakob von Gunten, I had a difficult time choosing another book to read. I want to read so much at once that I'm nearly stymied by sheer quantity of books on my shelves (and in storage, and that I've yet to buy.) I've been reading Beyond Einstein by Michio Kaku half-heartedly for the past week. It's Kaku's attempt to explain Superstring Theory to non techies such as I. It's an enjoyable book that feels more like a refresher course than anything new and enlightening. I was still craving a good novel, so today I started reading The Chalk Circle Man by the French mystery author, Fred Vargas. That's Ms. Fred Vargas.

I was determined to get something onto my blog this weekend, but I really should retire before the sun announces Monday morning.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bright Light

The sun is blazing above Seattle today. The temperature is supposed to reach into the 80s. There is a breeze, which makes the warmth more palatable to me. It just so happens that I went to bed feeling nauseous last night, and darned if that nausea didn't return today just as I was fixing to go to work. I actually had to pick my son up from his gymnastics class today, and that we made a rare visit to Red Robin to indulge in some lunch. After that Justin's mom was done with her medical appointment and ready to pick him up. It was at that point that I called in sick. My boss thought it was doable manpower-wise, and he told me to "get yourself better." Lucky for me, getting myself includes sitting on the deck under the sun, reading Jakob von Gunten.

Yes, I finally started a novel a couple of nights ago. It's by the Swiss writer Robert Walser, and I've been meaning to get to Herr von Gunten for a while. Really, I've wanted to read the book ever since I saw the film "Institute Benjamenta," which is based on the book. The film is very visual, and David Lynch-like, and unfortunately it's now out-of-print. It's been a few years since I've seen the film, so the book is still a bit of a revelation to me. Walser was without a doubt ahead of his time with his modernist take on literature.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Holiday Videos

Can there be a more definitive version of our bloody anthem? Good morning soldiers. Rise and shine. It's the Fourth of July in the United States of America, Inc. We bring you Coca-Cola, Marlboros, and Freedom all wrapped in one big messy sieve of a package.



When I see someone waving a flag, or an SUV with plastered with bumper stickers with boastful nationalistic sayings, I think of the Clash. The Only Band That Matters. The Clash, and Joe Strummer in particular, was the political and humanistic voice of my generation.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Too Many Choices

For some reason I'm having the hardest time picking a book to read next. I finished reading the very short Simenon novel, The Engagement mid-week, but try as I may, I just haven't settled on my next book. I always feel a little unmoored without being in the midst of a good read. I keep picking up nonfiction titles, which is probably a clue has to what I should read next. My temptation is to continue to read a slew of mystery and noir crime novels, because I eat them up so fast, and they are quite enjoyable.

I was telling my beloved about my dilemma tonight, and her response was that I probably could have had a another book read by now. That is true. Usually I find the process of choosing my next book to be fun. It gives me a chance to browse over the titles in my library yet to be read. It reminds me of titles I hadn't thought of in a while. I haven't had a real stretch of significant reading time in a while. I got most of The Engagement read while sitting in my care waiting to go into work. After posting this I'll peruse some more books, and maybe I'll actually settle on something.

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, and that is a nationally recognized holiday here in America. That means plenty of 4th of July sales; additional excuses (and days!) to get drunk!; and the big kicker: explosives! The fourth happens to fall on a Sunday this year, so Monday will be the holiday "observed." That means no mail delivery, no bank business and so forth. Flags will be waving with extra gusto throughout the weekend.

Someone left a plastic flag on our porch the other day. What was I supposed to do with it, plant it at my grandfather's gravestone? Wave it during local parade, as the high school band marches by playing some George M. Cohan tune? Or send it back to China from whence it came?

The students next door were getting all beery again. It is Saturday night after all. I have no issue with twenty-somethings with nothing better to do partying on the weekend, but because our house practically within arm's reach of their house, then every smoke break becomes fodder for my judgement. I was taking a break on our back deck as is my wont, when I overhead such wonderful nuggets as: "I love tequila. I could drink it all night long." "I tell people I'm an ER surgeon all the time." "Thanks a lot asshole." Then they moved off to some local bar, where they could continue their intellectual discourse.

There is a beautiful half moon rising in the east, slightly obscured by clouds. I'll have to take another break outside in the moonlight before I retire. Our neighborhood is surprisingly, and pleasantly quiet after midnight. The college kids are never really loud past midnight. I don't think that they party on the back balcony, because it looks like it's leaning towards the parking lot at a unsafe angle.

Time to stop procrastinating and choose a book to read. Time's a wasting.

Father/Son Day

Everyone is out of the house today, so it's just my son and I. After lunch we're going to go see "Toy Story 3." He has already seen it, but will not matter. After that we have a date to play Super Mario Brothers on the Wii. We've set our limit at 25 minutes. I haven't played any video games with Justin, so I'm sure he'll be happy to kick daddy's butt.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just a Minor Weakness

I have thin skin. Human skin is composed of three primary layers, but I think I may have entered this world with one thin layer. It would certainly explain why I have a tendency to be so sensitive to comments from others. I'm even quite empathetic to the misery of others, down to the lowliest mouse.

Recently my son started enquiring about skin colors. He was asked what color daddy's skin tone is, and he replied, "light blue." It's light blue, because of my lack of extra protective layers. Maybe that's why I'm frequently "blue." I would much rather have thick rhino-like skin if it would shield me from the pain and suffering in this world. The human decline is all around me, and because I have the power of sight, and a sensitive skin layer that picks up all these vibrations, I often find myself fighting off the pull of the blues.

Ethically though, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I found refuge in reality shows, cheap beer and overrated sports teams. I'd rather live in pain, and feel the suffering of the world, along with the Buddhist monks, philosophers, and street prophets.

On another note: I saw my old counselor for the first time in about two years. She was leaving the store with a coffee in her hand. I was chatting with my co-workers at the counter, but she stopped and said hello. She even gave me a hug, and wanted to smooth over any hard feelings I may have had at the termination of our sessions. I replied honestly that I was pretty damn happy now. I didn't mention anything about taking on the suffering of the world though. No need to inject any negative thoughts into a chance meeting with my old counselor.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fade to Gray

The sun has disappeared. If it stays away through the weekend it could mean well for the bookstore's big used book sale. If the weather is nice then the customers may just find something better to do. I'm planning on going in tomorrow for about four hours in the middle of the day to help out during the sale. If the store is not bustling with book buyers then I may just slip out early.

I'm still feeling like I need a couple of days break, even though I returned from my vacation recently. I'm just craving a couple of days filled with quiet and time to read. I have about 50 pages left to read in Nicholas Carr's The Shallows. I'm about ready to dive into another novel, so I'm ready to finish The Shallows this weekend.

Winter's Bone opens today, but I don't think I'll find the time to see it this weekend. It's a must-see though, and I'm not going to let this one find its way onto DVD before I see it in the theatre.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dragging It In...

It's Monday, which means I need to head into the bookstore soon. I may just end up at the bagel shop for some lunch before my shift. The bagel shop has the convenience of just being around the corner from Ravenna Third Place. Plus I finally figured out the perfect formula for my toasted bagel: one schmear of veggie cream cheese split between two everything bagels. For the longest time I would get one schmear per bagel and it's just too much cream cheese, dripping out the sides of the bagel.

A co-worker had asked me to trade shifts today, which would have had me working 10 to 6. I declined, because I'm still getting back into my routine after my vacation. I came in for a few extra hours this past Saturday, because my boss was out with a bad back. I will also be coming in for at least a few hour this Saturday to help out with the Big Sale. So, I will work my normal shift, arriving back home just before 10:30 pm tonight.

I'm craving a short camping trip, and I'm hoping to squeeze that in before the summer closes its curtains. I would love a few quiet days in the woods, preferrably by a babbling brook. Some time to walk, read, and just soak up some of the wilderness ambience. First the rain has to take a break, and let us Seattlelites enjoy a brief sunny respite.

The Weekend Fades to a Close

Days go by. Weeks fall by the wayside. All in all it's just the world turning, as we blithely move about upon it.

I yearn for some quietude. Sometimes I stand on the deck at the back of the house at three in the morning, just before the earliest birds have begun to sing, and I absorb the pre-dawn quiet as if it's a precious commodity.

The weekends are never long enough, and my shift at work always seems to crawl along at a slug's pace. Sometimes my only desire is to lie entwined with my loved one, as the afternoon rain slides down the window pane.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Reading Notes and Bonus Music Video

I've got a little bit of the post vacation blues, especially since it was more of a obligation-vacation than anything else. What else explains the fact that we didn't get any time to read while there? Reading is one of my most cherished pastimes, and if I don't have time for that then I am too damn busy. While on "vacation" I finished reading Rex Pickett's Sideways, which was very similar to the film. There are some significant differences, such as Miles and Jack going wild boar hunting in the middle of the night, and instead being shot at by the hick that lead them out there. Also, Miles and Maya become intimate in a complicated way, whereas in the movie there is never any consummation of their relationship. The changes that Alexander Payne made for the film only seemed to improve the realism of the friendship between the two characters.

I'm now reading The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. I'm only about 50 pages in at this point, but it's an interesting read. Carr incorporates all of the latest in brain research data to examine how our actual thought patterns may be altered by the manner in which we browse the web. I hope to get some substantial reading time this weekend, because I'm already craving some fiction. I've been pondering a few classics that I've been meaning to get to, such as Great Expectations and The Mayor of Casterbridge. I've seen at least a few film versions of Hardy's tale, but I'd like to read the original. I don't really have any novels that are high on my "to read" list...except ALL of them!

As if I don't already have enough unread books on my plate, I recently started a list of favorite books that I'd like to reread. I've only read a handful of books more than once, including The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler, and Pan by Knut Hamsun. There are at least a half dozen more that I'd like to revisit in the coming years. It's been so long since I've read books that I consider favorites, that I'd like to refresh my reasoning for keeping them in a cherished place in my memory bank. Some of my early choices are: Desert Solitaire by Ed Abbey, Jernigan by David Gates, White Noise by Don DeLillo, and Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. There are books that I read in my youth that I would surely disdain now, but I don't believe that the classics mentioned above are among them.

* * * *

Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Frank Black, a.k.a. Black Francis, particularly the album Bluefinger. All of the songs on the album reference Dutch musician and artist Herman Brood in some way. Black's album Teenager of the Year is one of my all time favorite discs. Here is an interesting video for the song "Your Mouth Into Mine" from Bluefinger.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Catching Up and So Forth

Let's see...where was I before I was so rudely interrupted by that vacation? Oh yes, I was here in Seattle, working the 2 to 10:30 pm shift at the local independent bookstore, taking care of my son half the week, and generally "living the life of Riley." As far as this blog goes, I have a little catching up to do. It is probably best that I start with the most recent events in my life, since I'm more likely to remember those more clearly.

Tonight my beloved and I attended a concert by Boz Scaggs. Who, you may ask, is Boz Scaggs? Well, if you're curious, you can jump into your "Wayback Machine" by clicking on this Wikipedia link. This was the first time I have seen a show at a local casino. That seems to be the venue of choice for certain musical artists just past their prime, with a few top 40 hits under their expanding belt to attract the grey haired crowd. We arrived at the Snoqualmie Casino just at show time, and secured parking in the multi-storied garage.

We made our way circuitously through the intentionally confusing casino to find the seasonal stage in the parking lot just to the side of the front entrance. As we walked to our seats a bald eagle chose that moment to glide majestically over the crowd as if on cue. The formerly endangered bird merited a round of applause for his appearance. Shortly thereafter Boz Scaggs, and his band took the stage. It was a good performance in a chilly overcast June evening in the Pacific Northwest.

The 66-year-old (!) Scaggs played an hour long set, performing songs such as Allen Toussaint's "Hercules" and "Sick and Tired (of foolin' around with you)," written by "Fats" Domino and Dave Bartholomew. After a short break, and before the applause ended, the elder musicians (elder except for Miss Monet, the booty-licious backup singer) bounded back onto the stage for an encore of nearly a half hour, running through a repertoire of hits, including "Lido Shuffle," "Breakdown Dead Ahead," and "Lowdown." Overall a very good show, even though I would have preferred a more intimate venue (such as the Triple Door downtown), so that Boz would have felt comfortable playing some of his more quiet numbers, including some of his recent interpretations from the Great American Songbook.

* * *

Besides attending an oldies concert, I have been getting back into the grind at the bookstore. We're getting ready for our big bi-annual "40% off all used books" sale, which means buying lots of used books, and pulling old titles off the shelves to be marked down. There have been two author events, plus Magic Monday in the week since I have been back. Today I worked a day shift, starting at nine this morning, but by noon I thought it would be wiser to have lunch with my loved ones and then catch a nap before leaving for tonight's concert. I was right.

The vacation itself was quite nice. It's true that I was visiting family instead of lounging poolside in Negril, but even considering that it was a nice respite among family and friends. I overindulged by attending at least three parties, and eating all those east coast things I don't get out here (or at least not in their original version): Del's frozen lemonade, Sax steak sandwiches, and a chocolate frappé and clam roll from Bliss Brothers Dairy. Never mind the various birthday cakes, and our last night feast of baked stuffed lobster. These particular crustaceous delicacies, were special ordered ahead of time for our party, and were stuffed with lobster and scallops and shrimp.

While driving around the neighborhoods where I grew up, I was struck by how little things had changed. In some ways it seemed that things had stalled because of the economy, but it also seemed that some old places were still in the hands of families, who were not ready to sell off their properties to the highest bidder. I enjoyed seeing the old cemeteries, and stone walls. I told my partner as we drove by one particular graveyard, that in the fourth grade our teacher took the class to there to do gravestone rubbings. I guess that was part of growing up in New England.

I was also privy to a raucous thunderstorm during our stay, and during the evening, while I relaxed on the front porch of friends, I saw lightning bugs, and more stars overhead than I've seen in quite a while. Visiting is taxing, especially when it's family, but I did well until about mid Wednesday. Then I hit my wall. We were flying out Friday, so I spent Thursday going to the U-district near Brown University and RISD. That's where I went during my adolescence to find good books, and to see art film double bills at the Avon Theatre. The College Hill Bookstore has been closed for some years now, and it seemed that there was more swag and less books at the nearby University Bookstore. I was specifically looking for a copy of Nicholas Carr's The Shallows, but their copies hadn't arrived yet. I settled for a copy of the first Richard Stark novel, and a book about a Brown University student, who spent a year at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

Well, that's about all the catching up I have time for right now. I have one more day of work, and then the weekend arrives. I'm hoping that there will be some sunshine and reading time during my upcoming weekend. There's always hope.
* * *

And as if this post isn't long enough, here is a video of Boz Scaggs doing his hit "Breakdown Dead Ahead."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Back in Town

I have returned from my obligation/vacation. I got back into town late Friday night, and I haven't really had a chance to sit down and write about that week that was. Soon though...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It's Vacation Eve!

Tomorrow at around eleven in the a.m. we will be flying to Providence, Rhode Island, to stay with friends in nearby Massachusetts. We'll be there a week plus travel time, and there will be reunions aplenty. I'm still trying to decide what book I will be starting next. I timed it so that I need to start a fresh title at the beginning of the trip, but I'm still fretting as to what will engage me; what will provide the necessary escapist fare for vacation?

My bag is packed. I just need to through in a few odds and ends, and I'll be ready to go. I'm glad the flight is not at sunrise. I'm awoken early enough by my four-year-old. I will have wireless access at the residence where we're staying, so there is a possibility that I may post a blog or two. There is also a strong possibility that we will take the opportunity to catch up on the Breaking Bad episodes we have not seen yet.

Now here's Delbert McClinton doing "Giving It Up For Your Love" from an old Austin City Limits. All I've got to say is, "More cow bell!"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Anticipation

There are now 500 books in my "to-read" queue on the GoodReads site. I feel like I've reached some milestone of anticipation. There are 500 books stretched ahead of me, awaiting my attention to bring their stories to life. The 500th book incidentally was The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, yet another Scandinavian mystery.

I certainly have been on a book buying binge lately. I'm using my upcoming vacation as an excuse to buy new books, but the truth is I'll be lucky if I can finish one on the trip. My four-year-old son will be accompanying me, so reading time will be limited, just as it is here at home under the same conditions.

I'm currently fifty some odd pages away from the end of True Grit, and I have a strong urge to finish it tonight. As I'm reading I'm amazed at the sheer perfection of the story. The tale is told by 14-year-old Mattie Ross, who is determined to personally bring justice to the man who killed her father in cold blood. She employs the Marshall Rooster Cogburn to track the killer, and they are joined by a young Texas ranger named LaBoeuf. There is a film in the making, directed by the Coen Brothers. Jeff Bridges will play Rooster Cogburn, and I believe Matt Damon is playing the young girl, Mattie Ross. He's quite the actor that Matt Damon.

Besides all the books I'm looking forward to reading, I'm also excitedly anticipating my upcoming vacation. In the beginning 7 days (plus 2 travel days) seemed like plenty of time, but the days are already filling up with parties, and other familial obligations. As some goober once said though, "It's all good."