Think of something clever, win a prize. Quick catch-up since I haven't updated in a week and a busy day lies ahead.
#71 -- "Absurdistan" by Gary Shteyngart
#72 -- "The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt" by John Bellairs
If you sold a book to me by saying "it's about an obese Russian with a mangled dick who talks in hip-hop slang"... well, I was going to say I'd pass, but now that I think about it that does sound pretty intriguing. It took me a few tries to get into "Absurdistan" but once I did it was a pretty fantastic ride. Absolutely hilarious, but not just a joke-a-minute book -- clever and sharp as well. That said, there was always a feeling that it could have been better, that a little less ha-ha and a little more something-or-other would have taken it up another notch. It's the Valeri Kamensky of novels, fantastically entertaining but just short of great.
The Bellairs book was a favorite when I was younger, and I picked it up again seeking inspiration. One of the umpteen unfinished/stalled writing projects I have is a young adult book, and one of the problems with it -- it's really depressing. I mean really really. So I turned to one that I was pretty sure held up to see how it read. Realization #1 -- it's actually got a fair amount of downer in it! Mother is dead, dad's away fighting in Korea, grandmother develops a brain tumor. But Bellairs has a jaunty style that keeps it from getting too dark and without (not sure how he did this) seeming inappropriate. I still enjoyed this, years later, though I'm not creeped out as I was back then. It's kind of Lovecraft for kids, but honestly, given the choice I'd rather read Bellairs than ol' Howard Phillips.
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13 - Indianapolis over St. Louis
12 - Green Bay at Cleveland
11 - New England at Tampa Bay (after watching the Pats' ritual dismantling of Tennessee last week, only misplaced pride keeps me from making this #1)
10 - New Orleans over Miami (I'm a Saints believer now, so they'll probably blow it)
9 - NY Giants over Arizona
8 - Atlanta over Dallas
7 - NY Jets over Oakland
6 - Buffalo over Carolina
5 - Philadelphia over Washington (Eagles, you hurt me so bad)
4 - Cincinnati over Chicago
3 - Pittsburgh over Minnesota
2 - San Diego over Kansas City
1 - San Francisco over Houston
A busy day of soccer followed by American football awaits. Vacation starts Wednesday. Perhaps I'll have something interesting to say then, but I hope no one's staking anything serious on that possibility.