Saturday, May 07, 2005

Books of '05: The Memory of Running

I stopped reading Marquez's autobiography. The writing was beautiful but I wasn't in the right headspace for it. A bit heavy duty. On my father's suggestion I started reading The Memory of Running by Ron Mclarty. I remember reading a review a few months ago and noting to myself that Mclarty was from here in Rhode Island. Apparently he has been writing for most of his life but this has been his first novel to be published a situation I hope to find myself in someday. In the usual its not what you know but who you know scenario Stephen King read this manuscript and saw to it that he be published. Viking publishing too, not too shabby.

As it turns out most of the book takes place in the town that I grew up in. Home sweet home. Passages about the fishing spots my dad used to take me to, whole chapters about my high school, and even mentions of the Boy Scout camp where I spent large chunks of my boyhood summers. I have been trying to read 40 pages a day and this book makes it easy. The narrative though depressing seems familiar and heartwarming. In the first three chapters "Smithy" Ide's parents and sister die. The other day I was reading in the cafeteria at work and on the verge of tears as "Smithy" talks to his mom in her dying moments. That's good writing.

Reading this book reminds me of the first time that I read "On the Road". "Smithy" hops on his bike to ride across the country for no apparent reason ala Forrest Gump and learns quite a bit about himself in the process all the while recounting childhood memories of East Providence Rhode Island.

It is moments like this, pivotal moments, that I had always failed. Sometimes there are moments when a person has to make a decision, as opposed to letting things just happen. A person has to happen himself. I had never done this. Life bounced off me, and bounced me and now it was going to bounce me to death. My fat ass, my blue suit. And so I turned my sizzling Raleigh off the 95 hill onto the Hope Valley exit ramp at approximately sixty-five miles per hour.

I am not one to go around recommending books. If someone asks what I'm reading I have no problem sharing but I normally don't initiate the conversation knowing that most of my friends and acquaintances have different tastes in books than I do (if they read at all) McLarty's Running will snap me out of that. Maybe its the home town thing but I will be giving this book as gifts and shouting from the mountain tops the fun and wild ride these memories of his bring.

Security Checkpoints

The Wife is flying high at about 30,000 feet right now on her way to North Carolina. She is getting together with her mom and sister down there for a weekend. I dropped her off at the airport at about 6A.M. It is unfortunate that I couldn't wait with her at the gate. Saying goodbye at the ticket counter just doesn't have that romantic movie feel. Picking her up and meeting her at baggage claim is not right either. Gone are the days of waiting at the gate and seeing your loved ones coming directly from the plane. Those movie moments just another casualty of the unfortunate events of 9/11. On top of the human tragedy, some little things won't ever be the same.

Friday, May 06, 2005

What the hell is wrong with Kansas lately?

Vonnegut writes a story. Fiction. A story. The story talks of how forcing everyone to be equal would have disastrous consequences. In their infinite wisdom some Kansas school departments decided to use the story as justification for denying less affluent areas equal funding for their public schools. Makes perfect sense right? I mean if we give the poor kids any funding they might actually think that they could amount to something. We wouldn't want them getting any ideas or motivation now would we.

Fucking Kansas.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Riding into the Sunset.

Yesterday I left my ipod at home for the busride to and from work. The bus in the morning was packed as usual with high school kids still half asleep and grumpy as anything. There generally is very little conversation on the morning busride. About three quarters of the way downtown after all of the seats and most of the spots to stand had been taken an enormous woman got on carrying her walker. It was apparent that it had been a long time since this woman had any steady shelter nevermind a shower. The bus driver turned to ask for some of the kids in the front to move so she could sit down but he was too late. Most of them where fighting for position to get as far from her as they could.

Under her arm she carried a large Dean Koontz book. I've never been a big fan of his and cannot remember the title. She took her seat and scanned the kids around her obviously looking for someone to talk to. Anyone who has ever ridden the bus knows that rule #1 is never make eye contact. I have one of those faces that complete strangers love opening up to so it was very important that I keep my head down and try to observe without being observed. Luckily she found a polite young lady next to her to occupy her time.

"Do you like to read lots of books?" The large woman asked the girl. The girl is always struggling to carry her three or four large textbooks onto the bus in the morning and this day was no different. She nodded her head and kept looking at the floor but unfortunately it was too late for her.

"This is a great book," Large Lady said as she dropped her Koontz novel onto the lap of Polite Student. "You should tell your teacher that everyone wants to read this book." Large Lady had one of those voices that alerts everyone around -- Beware, Crazy lady talking. Polite Student held her ground and kept her eyes on the shoes of the person sitting across from her and said nothing. A smart move in my eyes.

Large Lady would not be deterred. The crazy ones never are. "I'm writing a book you know." Something in this statement sparked interest in Polite Student. Perhaps she is writing her own book or she wanted to intimidate Large Lady into backing down.

"Oh yeah, what's it about?" She asked defiantly. Polite Student has been riding the same bus I have for the last 8 months. I have never seen her talk to anyone. I am still confused as to what brought it out of her.

"It's complicated" Large Lady replied. "I write science fiction so it has to do with so many things." immediately the image of stacks and stacks of notebooks filled with ramblings ala Kevin Spacey's character in Seven came into my mind. I half chuckled but kept my cool so as not to attract attention.

"It has to do with space and water and people and computers and it is very complex and very dark just like life it gets very dark. There is a lot of very sad and depressing stuff."

A few moments passed without a word between the two of them. My stop was approaching and as I readied myself to get up and off the bus she said it.

"Don't worry sweetie it is still a story, so by the end everything works out."

One of my heroes (after my dad of course) has written that after weeks of trying to end one of his novels he asked his agent for advice on the problem. His agent came back "Ending a book is easy. Your hero gets on his horse and rides into the sunset." Its a lot like that I guess.

The point of all this -- What else have I been missing looking out the window and listening to my ipod?

Bonsai Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

This n' that, good n' plenty, bits n' pieces...

Terry has great story about an actress who I personally can't stand but her box office draws lead me to believe I am in the minority. Hilarious.

Justin Peck (who runs the beautiful blog Beautiful Stuff) has a great piece up at Y.P.R. Check it out and laugh.

Want to know what humans will look like 2 to 4 million years from now? Check out this interactive piece to see. Especially apt in Kansas where they are about to embark on hearings to decide whether or not they want to teach their children about gravity, no I mean the need for oxygen, er, no I mean, evolution. Yeah that's it. Evolution.

"To debate evolution is similar to debating whether the Earth is round. It is an absurd proposition." Topeka attorney Pedro Irigonegaray who has agreed to defend evolution as valid science.
(Thanks for both links goes out to SOT.)

I have seen a couple of movies lately that I missed out on in the theaters because, well, because I don't go see movies in the theaters because I have better things to do with my 7 to 8 hundred dollars. Anyway, in short form -- I loved Sideways like everyone else. I thought 21Grams was good but a bit too heavy duty. The Incredibles was about as good as movies get animated or otherwise entertaining.

On the television front, The Wife and I have been on a big Futurama kick lately. Always funny and often smart.

My father gave a demonstration for the Rhode Island Bonsai Society last Saturday. I took a bunch of pictures and had every intention of posting some of the highlights and a write up here. Then I thought it would be a good idea to start a photoblog with some of the shots that I was really proud of and then I decided that it was too much work to neglect three blogs when I get so worn out not posting on the two I already have so I ditched that idea and decided to do nothing. I am very good at that.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Catching up on lost time.

I've started Gabriel Garcia Marquez's autobiography Living to Tell the Tale. I have never read anything by Marquez. Love in the Time of Cholera, and 100 Years of Solitude I had heard of but never gave them any time in my search of all things Vonnegut. Well now I am broadening my horizons and all I can say about Mr. Marquez's writing is . . . Wow. Wow. Truly beautiful writing that put me in Columbia fro the afternoon. How could I go so long without reading this guy? I'm glad I have found him now.