Friday, October 24, 2008
A hell of a week here, busy busy busy at work and exhausted at all other times. Now, though, I've got vacation, two weeks off and no real plans or responsibilities to fill them. Not planning to go anywhere, and I don't know if I've ever had two weeks off just here in Atlanta. Maybe surrounding a birthday once or twice, but those were generally filled with birthday-style events, and Fidel was still in town, rendering Atlanta a non-stop party. Now, Fidel's gone, the Ski Bum is out of town for a few days, and the PPA proprietor is rather lazy.
I'd intended to get up and go wander around decrepit parts of Atlanta for the first time in ages, but it's been 50 and rainy all day so the camera got put away. So I did virtually nothing all day -- grocery shopping, cooking, writing (10% of Friday) and drinking wine/playing BurgerTime (90% of Friday). It's too bloody cold to go out without reason, so it's a Friday night inside. No bad thing in these economic times, and a $5.99 bottle of shiraz from Trader Joe's gets me just as tipsy as paying $8 a glass elsewhere.
Let's get up to date on various things in the dullest way possible:
Books: I'm reading "Garden of Eden," by Ernest Hemingway -- the book that got me chatted to during a sushi dinner not long ago -- and it's resoundingly ... ok. It feels like Hemingway writing with Fitzgerald characters. Not bad at all, often quite beautiful in fact, but when I'm reading Hemingway I want it to inspire me to go strip shirtless and fight in the Spanish Civil War and make love to a nurse and drink wine and carouse and make love again and fight and lose the nurse. This makes me want to quit my job and go be very emo on a beach somewhere, which isn't quite as cool. It's short but I'm having some trouble getting through.
I pulled "Black House" by Stephen King and Peter Straub off the shelf today -- it's been sitting there for years, to the point where a panicked spider hurriedly fled as I opened it. I haven't read a King novel in years; I haven't finished one since the craptastic twosome of "Desperation" and "The Regulators." I think I tried both "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" and "Bag of Bones" in recent years, but finished neither. There was a time when a new King novel was an event, now I see one in Borders and think "how many is that now?" This is a sequel to "The Talisman," which I loved... but I was 15 then. We'll see how it goes.
And I'm reading "Europeans," by longtime New Yorker writer Jane Kramer, a book I didn't know about until I noticed a mention in Bryson's "Neither Here Nor There" (on, uh, the 36th time I read the latter). All essays, some interesting, some less so, all well-written.
Music: I finally got that goddamn Sheriff song outta my head. Better stuff I've been listening to:
* Spiritualized, "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" and "Let It Come Down." There's a new Spiritualized album out, by all accounts really hot shit, but my way of dealing with the economic downturn is to not buy new albums. Instead, I'll dig out those I haven't listened to in a while. These both sound fantastic -- as I grow older, I suspect these are getting better each time I dig 'em out. Beyond the soaring/orchestral/druggy/shoegazer stuff, "Twelve Steps" off the latter album is one of the best rock songs extant. When it comes up in the car it gets repeated a minimum of three times, so feel lucky you don't ride around with me.
* Ignition, "Complete Services" discography CD. Assist to Brushback on this one -- I'd been listening to the Warmers' first album off and on recently, but for some reason I didn't make the necessary logical leap and dig this out until his recent post. What a great band -- one of my all-time favorites on Dischord (let's see -- Minor Threat, Lungfish, these guys, Fugazi, Circus Lupus -- yeah, definitely top three or four) -- and in retrospect, a band way ahead of their time. They were able to do the political/concerned thing without sounding naive or contrived. This makes me want to start a band just to cover Ignition songs; hell, just to cover "Proven Hollow" over and over would be enough.
* John Coltrane, "Live at the Village Vanguard" box set. I can't write anything intelligent about jazz, beyond "I like John Coltrane," so instead a story. When I was writing for the Arizona Daily Wildcat, Noah started mocking me for referencing Coltrane in a music review, snidely asking which period Coltrane I meant. Months later, he was at my house and exclaimed on the many Coltrane CDs I owned -- "I didn't think you really listened to him!" The punchline is that I was referencing Coltrane in an Iceburn review, so he really should have continued mocking me.
* Unwound, various albums but mostly "Repetition" and "New Plastic Ideas" these days. Goddamn, another great band, and this isn't really a rediscovery because they've never been far from my playlist since "Fake Train" came out, but if I go even a few weeks without listening I'm blown away by just how great they really were when I pick 'em back up. That last sentence is a nightmare to parse, I'm sure, but I'm kinda deep into the wine now. All the best of Sonic Youth at their most aggro but without any of the wankery. Maybe I'm mistaken but they seem largely forgotten today, and that makes me sad.
Writing: A much-loved PPA tradition comes to an end this year, as I won't be starting Nanowrimo only to abandon the effort a week (and 1,500 words) in. That's because -- and I risk cursing myself here -- the more general novel-in-progress is going well (in fact, it's going for the first time in a long while). To properly date it, the n-i-p predates the birth of the PPA -- I think the last time I gave anyone other than TSB anything to read was about six months before I started this here blog. (which was meant to spur my writing, and the evidence now suggests that it held it back. hmm.) Anyway, the dust is off and it's going kind of well, and after writing this last part I've just guaranteed I won't touch it again 'til August of 2010.
HC Kometa Brno: They've sunk to second in the 1.liga, but they're a mere point behind leaders Slovan Usti nad Labem, and the teams meet up Saturday. Spare a thought for HCKB, wouldya? Also: it appears I may have secured a t-shirt.
Health: The least-fun thing to write about. Subsequent tests have basically confirmed the initial diagnosis; I'm going about getting a second opinion for reassurances' sake and because heart surgery isn't something you just leap into, but I'm also proceeding as if this will happen. I met the presumptive surgeon a few weeks back, who was both reassuring (seems to be an expert in the field) and terrifying (if a trivia contest ever calls for a comprehensive list of things that can go wrong during heart surgery, call me -- it's SEARED INTO MY BRAIN). One positive, at least -- he told me to avoid strenuous exercise, giving me an awesome excuse.
Politics: I wasn't going to share this story, but then I realized it's a bit late to be worrying about my dignity. A few days back I was talking about the Clash, and I mentioned their singer -- "Joe Plumber." Oh god I can't wait for November 4.