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 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.