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.