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Showing posts from May, 2010

The Bantam Trivia Quiz Book by Donald Saltz

There's nothing trivial about The Bantam Trivia Quiz Book by Donald Saltz. Because trivia is as essential to its buffs as oxygen to lungs.

So what if its nostalgic cover looks as dated as any Love Boat episode, it's what's inside the book -- all that useless information (more than 1,800 Question-and-Answers of it) -- that counts.

Much like your average Liberal Arts education, The Bantam Trivia Quiz Book is a shotgun blast of meaningless facts you'll never need to land a good job or lead a productive life, unless your dream is hitting it rich on Jeopardy.

This Is Spinal Tap by Rob Reiner, Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest & Michael McKean

[An online friend recently mentioned Spinal Tap to me, and I remembered I'd once written something about Spinal Tap, so I revisited what I'd written (nearly a year ago, last summer) and heavily amended, revised, edited and added to it. May you gag, should you read it.  May you smell the glove. Pray you break like the wind. . . ]

Before VH1s Behind The Music; before YouTube; before Borat and Bruno; before Heavy: The Storyof Metal; but not before The Jerk or Airplane! or SNL, but before In Living Color and Dumb and Dumber, but not before Monty Python or Anaconda....what I mean to say is, In The Beginning, before Wholly Moses or Holy Moses, but not after Armageddon, either, there were the legendary British mock stars, Spinal Tap, a band of spectacular mini-Stonehenge proportions, both sonically and stuffed-sock-in-crotchily, and it was rad, and it was bad, and it was bitchen, and it was unquestionably clear their artistic intentions, when they opened with, Tonight We're Gon…

Consider(ing) the Lobster, and the cut short life of David Foster Wallace

This piece was originally written a couple weeks after David Foster Wallace's (DFWs) suicide, Sept. 12, 2008. I lived less than twenty minutes south of where DFW taught at the Claremont Colleges the last half decade or so of his life. I often considered the dreamy idea of either just showing up at one of his classes, or calling his department and seeing if I could get through to him, not to be a worshipful lunatic fan looking to him as some messiah, but simply to ask him if he wanted to go hiking. In the mountains I know like the back of my hand literally just behind and to the north of his back yard. I thought a question like that might disarm him, and would allow me to explain to him quickly that I wasn't a stalker or serial killer, but simply loved to hike, and thought he might like to too; and then I'd tell him, once we were on the trail (Icehouse Canyon Trail probably) how the outdoors have been such an escape, a refuge and replenishment for my often overly wroug…

Daughter's of the North by Sarah Hall

I love the women of Sarah Hall's Carhullan Army (a.k.a. Daughters of the North) the"North" being the Northern Highlands of England. These rawboned, muscles honed (but not quite Amazon-like) ladies live off the land like modern day Pocahontases, assuming Pocahontas had a diesel-fueled Jeep, automatic rifle, and was on the lam from the villainous (but not very well defined) "Authority" of Hall's brief and bleak and too abrupt-ending novel.

These hardy (mostly British) women, bedecked in utilitarian handmade hemp attire, sweaty and presumably stinky from the hard work of either tending to their small farm or training in their leader's (Jackie's -- a now celibate lesbian and a ruthless megalomaniac) amateur "army," enjoy their time off work by occasionally "secreting" to the few local remnants of men for their lascivious, sexual gratification. Woo hoo! These women actually use these men as sex objects! (can you believe that a woman…

Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter

Some novels hit so close to home as to make their reading so uncomfortable we avert our eyes from the page, hoping the characters won't make the same foolish mistakes we made once upon a time. We cringe, like we might upon looking at faded photos from our awkward adolescence. Don Carpenter's Hard Rain Falling, back in print since Sept. of '09, thanks to NYRB Classics (muchos gracias, NYRB Classics!!) is one such novel for me.

Jack Leavitt, an anti-hero extraordinaire as anti-heroic as Taxi Driver's Travis Bickle (sans the psychosis) has recently run away from an orphanage. He's seventeen. He's just been locked out of his dirt bag motel room he rents. It's already dusk when we meet him, brooding about this and yearning for that, and the events in his life, as he walks downtown through the seedier side of Portland, Oregon, are only going to get darker.

We know both his parents are deceased from the stark prologue to this -- Don Carpenter's first publis…

How Washing and Waxing an Itasca Mini-Motorhome Helped Procure My Copy of The Baseball Encyclopedia

This book weighs 4.5 pounds. Four-point-five pounds of mostly raw statistical data sans statistical analysis on over sized coffee-table style pages with teensy margins, font size at most 7, printed on something like rice paper, only the paper is not opaque; the flimsy type of paper comprising most Bibles. This edition approaches 2,300 pages. That's 2,300 pages of raw baseball statistics. Imagine reading all seven volumes of Proust's In Search of Lost Time, only instead of reading about bucolic introspective meanderings throughout the lovely French countryside as remembered by a sickly, housebound young Frenchman, you read about nothing but home runs and earned run averages and balks, on pages tissue-thin, the tiny text printed all the way out to the edge of distant margins, printed practically off the edge of the page like "bleeds" (that's printer's lingo for you).

I washed and waxed one Saturday afternoon in 1982 my father's twenty-five-foot long …