Wednesday, October 19, 2005

100 Best Books

Time came out with a list of the 100 Best Books written (in English only) since 1923, the year Time debuted.  I scanned it to see how many I had read.

Here’s the count:
Animal Farm, George Orwell
Beloved, Toni Morrison
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
Lord of the Flies, William Golding
1984, George Orwell
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

And I’m reading Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone.  There’s several books on the list which I own, but have not read.  I guess I’ll have to now.  

Some interesting selections, Ubik by Philip K Dick (he would have been thrilled!) and Watchmen (a graphic novel) by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.  Notable snubs:  Stephen King, Bret Easton Ellis, and Theodore Sturgeon.

Music Minute

Lately I’ve been digging on a lot of Metallica, mostly old stuff, but some new stuff.  For instance, I was driving about a week ago and Master of Puppets came on.  My steering wheel instantly became Lars Ulrich’s drum kit and a once in the a lifetime solitary karaoke session broke out.  If you know that song like I do, you know all the words, all the drum fills, all the riffs.  

Last weekend, KBPI played Blackened while I was in the car with my nephew.  All conversation immediately stopped and I turned the radio up.  I don’t think Scott had ever heard it, so he didn’t have that kind of intimate knowledge that I have.  So I was left to bang on the steering wheel alone, howling “Blackened is the end!  Winter it will send!  Throwing all you see!  Into obscurity!”  Scott wasn’t impressed, but he’s growing up in a hip-hop world and right now he’d rather listen to Mariah Carey.  

And then today, perhaps as a treat, And Justice For All, possibly a shortened version because playing a 9 minute 44 second song us kinda risky in today’s radio market.  The quality that struck me upon hearing it again today, which I think is probably the 347th time I’ve heard it (not that I’m counting), is how symphonic it is.  Musically, it’s genius unseen in rock music before or since.  It’s a metal symphony, complete with all the necessary movements and crescendos.   In other words, fricking awesome.

Another band that has piqued my interest is Avenged Sevenfold.  Here’s a clip of a song called Bat Country.  I’m not sure what to call them.  They’re a little metal, a little punk, a little emo, but I kinda like it.

Monday, October 17, 2005

More Drivel

I heard from an old “friend” today.  This is what he had to say:

you know what man, you just don't fucking get it.  You may "remember it differently" but I have the f'in logs.  "Time and distance" are not going to make this any better.  This did not get "blown out of proportion" due to the disrespectful "you're an idiot and  I'm a genius routine."  You offer up plenty of disrespect on your own.  It got to this point due to your creepy fucking attempt to leverage what was the worst moment in my life to your advantage.  And you, chatting up my wife while posting that shit about me just makes you even more of a f'in creep.  You just stir up shit.  So tell ya what?  Leave me, leave my wife alone and write whatever pathetic drivel  you like.

He’s the “friend” from my previous post and is also mentioned elsewhere in previous posts.  Obviously, he’s not a friend anymore and as sad as it is to lose friends, when they talk to you like that, who needs em?

To clarify, I haven’t been “chatting up” his wife, although since they have been having marital problems I can understand why this might be an issue for him, although an issue of his own insecurity rather than my lasciviousness.  I have been friends with both him and his wife for years and until recently, my animus with him had not extended to his wife, and yes, I have used a chat client program to talk to her.  But “chatting up?”  Please.  Certainly not in the context he’s suggesting.  

The bone of contention, as I understand it, is a big argument we had a while back.  The way I remember it is the way I recorded it on the blog.  I sent him an article.  He sent me a “blah blah blah.”  I replied back pointing out how intelligent that response was (of course employing apparently lethal doses of sarcasm) and he went off.  He said with what he was going through (the aforementioned marital troubles) he didn’t need personal insults.  I replied back that I didn’t need them either, and the “blah blah blah” was pretty insulting.  And as all arguments do, it just devolved from there.  I don’t have the transcripts, but apparently he does.  

It’s interesting that he would think I was using his troubles with his wife to gain some kind of advantage (not sure in what, exactly), because I thought he was using his troubles to excuse being a dick and I told him so.  Am I supposed to sit there and suffer all the misplaced anger and abuse because a guy is going through a rough patch in his life?  Is that the healthy thing to do?  Or should I say, Look man, don’t take it out on me.  I chose the latter. Having marital issues does not give one a license to be a dick.

Schadenfrued Indeed

I remember as the Iraq war was heating up getting into daily debates with a friend on the subject. I won't recount the battles in detail, but they weren't always friendly. They would frequently devolve into dismissive name-calling and invariably end with my "friend" pointing out that my formal education ended midway through my senior year in high school. Needless to say, we're not all that friendly anymore.

Funny thing is, though, events have supported this high school drop-out non-college having ignoramus rather than my (supposedly) free-thinking and educated rival. I only mention this now because in the last two days I've run across two items which seem to be speaking to our constant intellectual battles, not only in terms of subject matter, but also tone and emphasis.

Here's the first one, from an incendiary post on Huffington Post (hate to love it):
It’s really possible that right now, before our eyes, unfolding in slow motion, is a sordid, jaw-dropping story that connects everything from Bolton to Dobson, GannonGuckert to HannityO'Reilly, Florida in 2000 to Ohio in 2004, Enron to Halliburton, lies about the Texas Air National Guard to lies about WMDs. Twenty minutes ago, to hear the media tell it, Rove & Co were geniuses, presiding over a generational shift to the right. Now, they’re lawyering themselves to the gills, and beltway speculation centers on whether the GOP could lose both the House and the Senate in 2006. Yesterday, you had to be some tinfoil hat-wearing Michael Moore type to connect the dots; tomorrow, conceivably, exposing the grand conspiracy will be a recipe for a Pulitzer.

That one snapped out at me because of the mention of the tinfoil "hat-wearing Michael Moore" type. There was a time when my friend would suggest I get a tinfoil hat to protect me, which I'm sure made him think he was the funniest dismissive jerk in the world. Of course, I also like Michael Moore, but unlike righties and his detractors, I don't think Moore is all that politically sophisticated nor is he a spokesman for a whole generation. In other words, I think Michael Moore is good at what he does, preachy political theater, but he is not the face of liberalism and should not be regarded as such. Sorry, rightwing pundits, there is no Michael Moore wing of the party. It's a myth created to make it easy for dismissive jerks to ply their trade.

And I will say it once more with feeling: Just because George W. Bush and his cronies give you the willies doesn't mean that you require a tinfoil hat. Just because you enjoy Michael Moore's work doesn't make you are a commie scum who should move to Europe. Unfortunately for my friend, and everyone else who used similar arguments, saying otherwise is just idiotic.

On another topic, the reconstruction of Iraq, my friend and I also debated, but with less vigor. His view was colored with heady nostalgia for the Marshall Plan, the preferred analogy among the neocons, who saw the mission in Iraq as this huge wellspring of generosity, which would be recognized and embraced by the Iraqi people. Of course, I had serious reservations about this convenient metaphor, not the least being the complete irrelevency of comparing WWII to the Iraq conflict in any way, but I'm a tinfoil hat wearing Michael Moore devotee with a GED and no college education, so of course I was wrong.

Or was I? From the Washington Post:
In the prelude to the war and in the early days of the occupation, Mr. Bush and top members of his national security team compared the effort to remake Iraq to the American occupations of Japan and Germany. As the insurgency grew - a feature missing from those two successful occupations - they dropped that comparison. Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state under Colin L. Powell, argued in an interview recently published by an Australian magazine, The Diplomat, that it was a flawed way of thinking from the start.

"Those who argued at the time that the acceptance of democracy in Iraq would be easy, and who drew on our experience with Japan and Germany, were wrong," he said. "First of all, Germany and Japan were homogeneous societies. Iraq is not." He added that the German and Japanese populations were "exhausted and deeply shocked by what had happened," but that Iraqis were "un-shocked and un-awed."

Now where do I apologize for being right? Schadenfreud indeed.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Broncos Clobber Tom Brady and the Bradiots

The Broncos held on to win a lopsided game against the Patriots.  They ran up a big lead early and let the Patriots come to within 8 in the last quarter.  That wasn’t very fun to watch.  But Tatum Bell had a nice 68 yard run and the defense pounded Tom Brady more than once.  At one point, he got caught intentionally grounding the ball so worried was he by the Denver front four.  The look on his face was priceless.  Oops.  Best of all, no turn overs.  Jake’s on a roll.

Two more months…I’ll be there!!!  I need some Bronco gear.  

Dear Diary

So I’m not hurting for ideas.  I have lots of them, in various media too.  Scripts about Jonestown and the Peoples Temple massacre, the war in the former Yugoslavia, ideas for novels, a mystery novel about snake handlers and another, hopefully a series, about a private eye coming to terms with the people in his life.  Then I also have this hugely ambitious idea for what I call my Great American Novel.

Encapsulated in a sentence, it’s about kids growing up too fast and not being able to handle it too well.  I’m not going to go into any more detail than that, but I assure you, it’s epic, Shakespearean even.

And yet I haven’t written a word of the actual text.  Oh, I’ve scribbled outlines, jotted down notes, even tried my hand at a scene or two.  But it wasn’t quite it.  I don’t know what it will be, but I felt like the idea needed some more developing, some more time in the oven, so to speak.

A few weeks ago, at a dollar store, I picked up a few of those old composition books, with the black marbled cover and sewn binding.  I never had to use them in school and always preferred spiral bound notebooks, but the composition book has a kind of mystique.  

I had seen them in the movie Seven, where the police found stacks of them filled with his psychotic rantings, and looking back that movie may have been the inspiration for my intense journaling fetish.  There was something about those stacks of journals, every page filled, that got me, although in my case it wasn’t a preface to any eventual crimes but intended to be the distinguished transfer of my personal papers to the Trust upon my death for study and possible posthumous publication.  Plus it was good for the craft.

And though I had kept a journal about my own daily affairs (somewhat lazily these days, I might add), it never occurred to my to write a journal from the point of view of a fictional person, not as a story or to be part of any novel, but just as a sort of warm-up, as a way of really getting the thoughts of the character on paper without having it make sense in terms of plot or story, without having to worry about rewriting it later.  It would be an interesting exercise anyway.

So I grabbed my new composition book, 100 sheets, 200 pages, wide ruled (unfortunately – I prefer college ruled), I started writing in the voice of one of the main characters of my Great American Novel.  

Her name is Rachel McCaffrey, 17, just finishing her junior year and getting ready for the last summer ever before graduation.  She lives in an affluent neighborhood with her family, her parents and her younger sister Amber.  Her best friend is a shy wall flower named Marissa who is starting to get boring.  She has a crush on a boy named Justin, but so does every girl in school.  She’s young, dumb, white and free.  What do you think she’s going to do?  The biggest hint comes from the title, The Myth of Invincibility. *

So basically, if you wanted to state it objectively, I’m a 28 (almost 29!) year old man writing the diary of an imaginary 17 year old girl.  It’s a trip.

* (She’s going to find out she’s not invincible!)