Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Overzealous Christmas Gift or a Problem?

Tonight the clerk at the Choice Liquors waved off my ID and said "I know you".

In Fridge:

Dundee Honey Brown: 12
Sea Dog Blue Paw: 12
Hoegaarden: 15
Harpoon UFO: 6
Sam Adams Cherry Wheat: 4
Young's Double Chocolate Stout: 2
Boddington's: 4
Long Trail Blackberry Wheat: 8
Stella: 1
Magner's Irish Cider: 6
Delerium Tremens: 3

That's 71 beers for those of you scoring at home.

Friday, November 27, 2009

What I Just Read: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I did not read this book because it was highly recommended to me, not because of any good reviews, nor because it seemed like a book I would enjoy. I read this book simply because of the ad-campaign. I saw it on the T, on that backs of buses, all over the internet, in the newspaper and magazines. Not to mention it stared at me for some time when I worked at Borders. So I had to read it.

Now it may not come to many of you as a surprise that I enjoyed an International Best Selling Novel, but I did. Though not all that challenging in a literary sense and clearly losing a bit with the translation from Swedish, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson was still a thoroughly enjoyable and thrilling book. It reminded me a lot of The Da Vinci Code, which would make sense because it's a crime thriller that is fast paced. The book moves like a movie, and even has a montage part that spans a a couple months in a few pages. I would not be surprised if you end up seeing this as a movie in the next few years. Overall I liked it and can not wait (but yet I will wait) until The Girl Who Played With Fire comes out in paperback.

Which leads me to the over all look of the book. Limiting the color scheme to four (black font, orange + green design on a yellow background) really works for the book, and interlacing the title in with the dragon design was a neat way to make the dragon stand out. The book has a nice light feel to it and the pages turn fairly easily but at the same time do not have cheap bible paper feel to them. The one problem I have with the cover is the orange strip on the back for Mr. Larson's picture and a few blurbs. I wish it wasn't there. It brings about a rough and abrupt end to a rather intricate and beautiful cover.

Sorry if this post is lacking in substance, I finished this book a month ago and never got around to posting on it. I should also have a post on Neverwhere, which I finished today, in the next couple days.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A "Thank You Card" Thanksgiving

On this here day of thanks I give you heretofore a sampling of my thankings. Thankings that should have arrived in the mail yesterday, to thankees I shall be seeing today. Calculated I assure you.

My Nana was disappointed that I donated her money to Mr. Obama's re-election campaign and expressed hope that I might not do the same with my birthday money. I followed her advice, in a manner of speaking.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cambridge, it's what's for dinner.

Why does Cambridge, between Blanche St. and Albany St. on Mass Ave smell like a whole bunch of these?

No really just go stand by the gas station (maybe stand across the street so you aren't getting high off the gas fumes) and take a big sniff. Am I right or am I right? It doesn't matter what you think, because I'm right.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What I Just Read: On The Grand Trunk Road

Steve Coll and Mr. Staggs (yes I just Googled a High School teachers name and I got his Twitter page in under a minute, the world we live in is bizarre. I also got his blog and Linked in page, as a result I now know pretty much everything about the guy since I last saw him 6 years ago) are the two main reasons why I chose Political Science as my major. Thomas Friedman is another reason but I like to forget about that time in my life.

Anyway, as a result of my love of all things written by Coll it was inevitable that I would stumble across On The Grand Trunk Road at the Derby Square bookstore and therefore force myself to buy a book that was published in 1994. So what if most of the info on India and Pakistan is out of date and the Tamil Rebels are no more, I still enjoyed learning more about India and Pakistan than just Nehru and Jinnah (not to mention learning anything at all about Sri Lanka, for one I had no idea India occupied Sri Lanka for a few years).

My favorite part of the book was Coll's work on the question's surrounding General Zia's death. Besides it being perfectly obvious that Zia was assassinated by his own men it shows exactly to what lengths Coll will go to in order to find the real story. My understanding for what drives Coll is much clearer as a result.

Though I ended up not reading the end of the book because it contained only a fraction of the insight Coll gave in his book Ghost Wars a decade later (10 years works wonders, especially with the help of a research assistant or two), I would say that the book was worth reading even if time has given it quite a beating. His first hand accounts and the present day feel of events that happened 20 years ago make reading the history easier than it would be if I were sitting in a history class.

Like the majority of non-fiction books this book did little for me when it came to the cover. And why should it have? It's is about actual events and not some parallel universe which allows the imagination to do whatever it wants with the cover as long it is remotely linked to the story in some way. He is a journalist not a creative thinker.

In summation: Do I like the cover? Not really. Do I think it could have been better? Certainly. Do I care to spend another line talking about how much better it could have been? No.

Cat-Day +365

..... and still as pitiful a hunter as ever.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I'm a sucker for a good story line. That's why I read the final Harry Potter book from the moment I got it at 1 PM to 8 AM the next morning, that's why I go on This American Life binges, and that's why it took me a matter of weeks to watch every episode of The Wire. I can't help it, good books, good television, good radio, and even movies are all the same to me; they are stories.

It's funny how adult's always tell you that books are superior to television, and that the path to success, and therefore enjoyment, is paved with books. Of course there may be some truth to that, hours upon hours of watching reruns of Friends and Frasier may do little more than occupy your time, but the same can be said for trashy Romance novels and endless loops of Top 40 hits.

Everything is good in moderation, and everything has it's good and it's bad. But something that grasps your attention, makes you experience emotions beyond a simple chuckle, makes you understand yourself and others around you a little better, no matter what medium it travels, is worth the time.

Don't blame me, blame Battlestar Galactica.

Friday, October 9, 2009

No, Thank You.

Since I was a small child my mother required of my brothers and I that we write thank you notes whenever we were given a gift or a some of money. It would take weeks of constant nagging and threats to get us to write them, it was like pulling teeth. As a result of all those years of writing I have since come to the conclusion that if you are going to write a Thank You Note you might as well make it interesting and memorable. So here I present for your perusal a few notes I wrote in thanks to my family for cutting me a check that I promptly turned around and paid off some debt with. Enjoy.

It should be noted that my Nana is not a fan of President Obama and wrote of such fact in her card to me. Just some perspective.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Kindness Of Strangers

This past weekend Katy, her cousin Kevin and myself went to the Harvard Natural History Museum which was an all around good time. Upon returning back to our apartment to pick somethings up I received a Facebook message from someone named Elisa claiming that she had found my license and how would I like it returned to me. I quickly checked my wallet only to find that in fact my license was missing and I had been driving around for the past hour without it.

I guess my point is Elisa did not have to search me out on Facebook and mail me my license she could have just as easily thrown it away, or stolen my identity. But she did not, she wrote me a note and sent it to me the next day in the mail. Very kind of her. Thank you Elisa.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Interview That Got Away

On my way to the North End today to have lunch at Galleria Umberto's I decided to get off at the Government Center T stop and walk across City Hall Plaza. As it would happen at the same time I was walking across the plaza Councilman Flaherty and Sam Yoon were giving a press conference to a handful of reporters and television cameras about the absurd political scandal that is the email deletions at city hall.

I'll get into Flaherty, Yoon and the emails later, but what struck me was the proximity with I had found myself to someone I could have voted for and someone I have the chance to vote for in the future, something which has only happened to me once when I listened to Governor Deval Patrick speak at a house event in Gloucester. It's an interesting feeling being in the presence of someone you only see on TV screens and in Newspaper articles, who have positions and agendas that appear to be black and white. Then you meet the man (or in this case men) and he is not a robot, he is not unplugged and wheeled away when the interview is over. No they make small talk, shake hands, laugh, look awkward, even nervous. It's weird, or maybe it's normal. Either way they are like everyone else, just in a different situation.

Of course me being me I thought after the press conference was over the reporters would fan out and do an interview or two with a random bystander. Myself being the only bystander I thought I stood a pretty good chance of being interviewed. It was not to be. But you the reader should not suffer for journalistic reluctance so here I present to you the "Interview That Got Away":

Underling: First of all I would like to say to my mother as well as any potential employers out there I don' look like this all the time. I usually shave and walk around with my hair combed and clean clothes. Today is an anomaly.

Reporter: What brings you here today?

U: I was just heading over to the North End for some Arancini and Sicilian Pizza, I happened upon the press conference and decided to stick around just in case I got interviewed.

R: Do you go to school in Boston?

U: I studied political science at THE Northeastern University, but currently I work at Bartley's in Cambridge as a line cook, because of the economy of course.

R: As a student of Politics what is your take on this whole "Emailgate" thing?

U: First of all can we please just agree that nothing should have the ending "gate" on it any more?

R: Ummm....

U: I'll take that as a yes. But coming back to your point I think this whole thing is a non-issue, the emails if they contain anything of relevance have little to do with the day to day running of the city nor any of the real issue the city is facing. That being said this is a great issue for Councilman Flaherty and Mr. Yoon to jump on. On the one hand they can label the Mayor as out of touch and his staff as ill equipped to deal with the technological advancements being made in goverment. On the other hand they can label the Mayor as an obstructionist of the law, someone with something to hide, a crook.

R: How do you think the Mayor's camp has handled this so far?

U: Poorly. I mean they could have killed this early by simply firing Mr. Kineavy and appointing a special investigator who answered to the City Council and had full access to anything and everything. Instead the Secretary of State and the Attorney General are not competing for face time 0n the issue and the Flaherty - Yoon campaign does not have to make us care about issues, they simply just need to express their outrage and demand accountability. This is just bad for the Mayor.

R: And you work where?

U: At a burger joint.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mongolian OCD

I have somehow over the past few weeks embraced my inner prep cook and started doing things like this; cutting and measuring out every part of the Mongolian Beef dish I am going to make for dinner tonight (which I am convinced was created by someone working for the Beef industry who needed a reason to get rid of flank steak which is 33% fat). It may have something to do with working in a kitchen or being hungry or my need to be organized or finding myself wanting to cook dinner but having to wait for Katy to come home in order to do it. Either way I'm some where between a Chef and the manly version of a house wife, I can't decide.

And yes if you click the picture it is a full res JPEG. I know how to shrink it, yet I don't care. That goes for you people with 56k, I just do not care that it may take you 3 minutes to load that picture, upgrade or move.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pedestrians ‡ Bikes | Cars || Cars | Bikes ‡ Pedestrians

Regardless of what Dennis said on last week's It's Always Sunny (great show by the way, if not completely pointless) no you should not ride your bike on the side walk because it is in fact against the law, and your doing so may result in me slashing your bike tires (or a donut thrown at your chest from a speeding vehicle, oh it could happen to you).

You only think I'm joking.

The older I get the better off the world is that I did not go to school to become a cop or there would be a surge in bikers being ticketed and smokers getting random tickets for littering, disturbing the peace, and loitering.

Yet I guess if you are afraid of getting hit by a car (or by a beer bottle) you should probably ride on the sidewalk when it comes to busy streets. Though I am ethically opposed to it I guess it can be excused in the name of less dead bikers.

That is unless you are riding over the Mass Ave Bridge where you don't in fact
have to ride on the sidewalk. Why you ask? Because believe it or not there is a dedicated fucking bike lane! No I can assure you it is not for Smart Cars, its made so people like you don't have to choose between being killed by a car or killing a pedestrian. Consider yourself educated

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What I Just Read: Coming Up For Air

This was the book I was supposed to finish on our last trip to New York, that was about a month ago. I have no excuse except that that bed was so damn comfy looking.

One can never go home again, that's what I took away Coming Up For Air by George Orwell. The first half of the books is the recounting of the dull life that was and still is George Bowling, his parents, his first sexual experience, his love for fishing, serving and not serving in WW I, and about how fat he is. This mostly boring first half of the book is almost made up by the fact that the second half is devoted to him realizing that everything he remembered and held in such high regard has either vanished, changed into something he despises or may never have existed in the first place.

Yet underneath the mundane and nostalgic life of George Bowling is a classic Orwell undertone; the haves abuse the have nots and that is never going to change.

My favorite scene in the book is when George goes with his wife to listen to a famous Anti-Fascist give a lecture. George is not that interested in the lecture because he knows Hitler is a bad man and he does not need to be told so by a man spewing hatred. The thing is George does not care what type of system is in charge be it fascists, democracy, communism or whatever, he is still going to be making a few pounds a week and have to listen to his wife complain about the price of butter. He sees the arguments between the Communists and Trotsky supporter in front of him as nothing but rearranging chairs on the Titanic. Nothing matters.

Through George, Mr. Orwell is taking note of the pre WW II political landscape and saying he really does not care for it. There is going to be a war, people are going to die, England may end up under fascist rule but in the end will anything really change? Politically of course, because if Coming Up For Air tries to prove anything it's that though many things change, most things stay the same.

Though this book was fairly boring and at times difficult to get through there are very good parts to the book. In addition to the scene at the lecture, there is an almost prophetic sequence in which George describes the London Blitz with houses reduced to rubble and for the most part all out destruction. The thing is Coming Up For Air was written in June 1939 a full year before the Battle of Britain began, a truly amazing imagination.

I have always enjoyed Orwell, but then again who does not like Animal Farm and 1984. If it was not for the fact that I read Down and Out In Paris and London and loved it I do not think I would have bothered reading Coming Up for Air. I like Orwell's bleak outlook on mankind, his pessimistic view that power undoubtedly corrupts and the greedy always vanquish those who are not. It may be bleak and glass half empty , but I enjoy it.

The book design is fairly modest, a white background with gold trimming and a neat black and white picture of a man vaulting a large puddle which Katy says looks a lot like a photo that Henri Cartier-Bresson would have taken, neat none the less. I like it despite the misleading title and the hopeful picture.

I have one other Orwell book in my possession that I have yet to read, Homage to Catalonia, which is a work of non-fiction about the Spanish Civil War, I plan on giving it a try in the near future.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Jon • Kate + 8 = Why Procreation Isn't For Everyone

I really should be doing wedding things for Katy right now but I just had to tell you; Jon and Kate have a dysfunctional relationship. I know this might come as a surprise but if you throw a couple with 8 small children on TV things are not going to end well.

Enough of the trying to be funny and saying something new, I could not care less about Jon and Kate or the Angelina/Brad/Jen love triangle that occasionally turns into a rhombus when Jen finds a man (or in John Meyer's case a boy). My question is why do I need to know about Jon's hot and steamy second affair with the nanny and how they have sex when the kids are in the other room? Why do I need to know that this time Jen is over Brad for real now that she has Gerard Butler in her life (and really going for King Leonidas? So cliche.)

The answer is I don't know, and there will always be room for useless gossip in American culture, you can not get rid of it. The truth is I am fascinated by this in a way, Brad and Jen split up in 2005, or so my research says and yet we are still talking about them. They are either incredibly weak when it comes to their emotions or their is a vast conspiracy in the entertainment industry to keep this story going to make us forget about the fact that Jennifer Aniston's career ended when Friends ended. Regardless the 4 years of Star magazine covers is not ending any time soon.

As for Jon and Kate who thinks having 8 kids is a good idea? OK, and who thinks having camera crews and producers follow your every movement is a good idea? Now let's combine those two ideas. If you came anywhere near the word "moronic" then you are correct. These people are egotistical maniacs! They had 8 children for Christ's sake, talk about narcissistic (and do not blame the fertility drugs, they already had two kids, they knew the chances of having too many kids and they could have helped the world out and adopted). Then they went on TV? When has reality TV ever led to good things? The first winner of Survivor went to jail, and have you seen Flavor of Love?

I don't know where this is going so I'm just going to stop here, but before I go I just want to say do not have 8 children, do not lay your relationship out for all of America to see, and do not under any circumstances date Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, or Jennifer Aniston.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Not Every Kitchen is Hell, Just the Two I've Worked In

Working in a busy kitchen is one of the most stressful environments anyone can work in. The only way one can have more stress is if they have someones life in their hands, have millions of dollars at risk, or they are getting shot at. I know what your saying, "But I have a deadline for a report for Friday", yeah well in a kitchen you have a deadline every 5 seconds and if you miss it the boss is hollering at you, which tends to add to the stress of the next order and it's all down hill from there.

A few summers ago I worked at Woodman's of Essex, the place where the fried clam was invented by a man who was not so ironically called "Chubby". Woodman's is a family run business so as a result there are something like 25 people you have to listen to. Though I may not have liked the way they treated their employees or how they seem to think you should pay for the honor of eating at a hot and sticky clam shack where you have to pick your food up at a window, I still count it as a large and fairly positive experiment in my life. For if it wasn't for Woodman's I wouldn't have learned how to fry, to mop, to wake up at 5 AM, what it's like to smell like fried food for days, or the amount of time and effort that goes into preparing a restaurant each day. Nor would I be working for Bartley's where the only reason I was hired was because "I've never worked with someone who worked at Woodman's before, so I guess I'll have to give you a try."

Bartley's is a whole different animal then Woodman's. First off I actually like the food we cook (Burgers), second, all I do is put the toppings on the food and place it in the window, no burning myself required. The biggest thing of all to me is that the guy who does all the hollering and demanding actually works in the kitchen and the kitchen would not be able to run without him. I admit it sucks getting yelled at, but when it's coming from someone who is doing something much harder than you and not just standing around dictating then there is nothing you can do but shut up and do it right.

Yeah I stand on my feet all day and yeah I get paid far less than I would if I was sitting in an office at a computer with a fraction of the stress and physical labor but in a small way it's rewarding and eye opening. Yes I will keep telling myself that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Freaks + Economics

Even though I worked at a Borders and therefore know that all those "sales" and "deals" are just scams it does not mean I'm smart enough to not fall for it. As a result I walked away with Freakanomics by Levitt and Dubner, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson as well as Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I went in there with a 40% coupon looking only to get Neverwhere, make you own judgments.

In my defense I have always wanted to read Freakonomics, but because they decided to reissue it 2340239 times in hardcover form I had decided to pass on it for the past 37 years.

Quick side note on why I prefer paperbacks to hardcover books.

1. Paperbacks are cheaper
2. Paperbacks have art work directly on the cover where as hardcovers tend to be bland and indistinguishable from one to the next.
3. Dust jackets, the bane of my existence.

I may have bent your ear about my hatred for dust jackets before, and if I have feel free to stop me. Dust covers suit one purpose, to look stupid. Why would one cover a perfectly good solid book cover of cardboard and cloth with a flimsy easily rippable piece of paper and think that its going to do anything but fall apart? Let me let you in on a little secret: Hardcovers are a scam and serve very little purpose besides being a collectors item.

And now back to our regularly schedule program

What appealed to me about this book, aside from the fact that I always liked the blog that was based on this book, was that it seemed to a easy way to explain economics to a kid who got a C- in Economics. That and it's full of random facts and as you all know I love random facts, much to the detriment of social situations.

Because this book is just a bunch of random facts and tidbits I am going to give you my observations and points in the same fashion.

- This book brought about an argument between my mother and myself that involved African American women from the South Side of Chicago, crack, and me calling my mother stupid (though I continue to believe the phrase "you do not know what you are talking about" is not an insult as much as a statement of fact).

- My favorite part of the book was when they debunked the theory of broken windows used to fight crime in NYC during the 90's. If you are one of the hundreds of people who have had to listen to me talk about how great broken windows is, I'm sorry and no you can not have that 20 minutes of your life back. No you can not speak to a manager.

- Rudy Giuliani is a fraud.

- I need to start following Sumo, Japans national past-time. Apparently the game of fat men is so important to Japan players cheat, sort of like Baseball in America. For those of you keeping score at home I now need to get into Sumo and Soccer.

- Conventional wisdom is usually wrong.

Overall a very enjoyable read, I had a hard time putting it down. I would recommend it to anyone who like myself has a hard time visualizing economic theory and the day to day effects of social factors on the economy. And no I have no idea what I just said. It was a good book, read it if you get the chance.

The cover of this book has potential and I'm sure when they first made the cover, with just the Orange/Apple on the front it looked great. Then they added the title and the authors, normal enough. Then they added the subtitle, a quote, the lines "New York Times Bestseller" "Finally in Paperback" and "With New Material" and the cover starts to look like every other book in the business section. With all that said I like that they kept with the colors of the Orange/Apple in regards to everything on the cover.


Note to any of you readers who actually borrow books from me. You can't anymore. I'm done sharing with you paper folding bastards. Of course I don't mean that, part of the reason I buy all my books, besides from my capitalistic obsession to own everything I touch, is so I can give the books to other people to enjoy. So to make that easier and to give me a reason to play "Librarian" every once in a while I have started cataloguing all my books.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What I Just Read: The Grapes of Wrath

My pledge to avoid all things trendy and hip has brought me to The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The Grapes of Wrath is the foremost novel cataloging and illustrating the effects of The Depression of the early 20th century. Don't worry, I'm a step ahead of you, I realize what could be more trendy than a book about The Depression when the American economy is in the worst recession since the early 20th century. My answer is, probably nothing. If anyone were to see me reading this book they would probably think "he must be worried about the economy". Blast! Foiled again!

No I am not in fact reading this because I might be heading Californy way because my crops failed and my Political Science degree holds no value (though with recent headlines California may not be a viable option). In fact I read (or was supposed to read) The Grapes of Wrath in my AP English class. It being a large book as well as my mothers favorite book, and wtih me being a rebellious teenager and there being something called SparkNotes, I took a pass. Being a little older, and a little geekier (or maybe its embracing my geekyness) I have decided to revisit books that I passed on in High School, this being the first one.

I really enjoyed reading it this time, took me a bit to get into it, but once I got past the part where I stopped last time I started to get into it. I particularly enjoyed how with every other chapter Steinbeck takes a different approach to the story. By that I mean every odd chapter is a sort of short story, mirroring the way he writes in The Pearl, except when he does so it is setting up the scene for the next chapter where the story of the Joads continues. A story of poverty and what that poverty does to those in it and those outside of it.

It's actually a very pertinent book in respect to my situation right now, granted I have a roof over my head, food to eat and if it came to it I always have my parents. That being said, the past few months have been like the Joads heading to California, thinking about working, thinking about what I'm going to do when I graduate. Tom Joad's parole is like my Logic grade, I'm just waiting to get caught, and the Joads finally reaching California is like me taking my last final, now I really need a job.

It may have been that weak connection with the book I just mentioned or it might be that I realized Steinbeck isn't that wordy after all. Regardless I think I like the man.


This is the most common copy of the book in bookstores today. It is a paperback, not a hardcover, so therefore it does not have nor does it need a dust jacket (I hate dust jackets). For some odd reason Penguin Books got it into their heads that they should sully some of their books by making it appear as if it does in fact have a dust jacket on it. They do this by elongating the front and back covers of the book (so the covers are double the size of the book) and then folding the outer half of the cover in upon it self, making it resemble a dust jacket. The reason for this is twofold; one is to add more information about the book to the inside cover, and the second reason is to infuriate me.

I would remiss if I did not tell you that I have contemplated removing the inside portions of all these books with a razor blade. Not just my books (for which I have and never will have any such monstrosities) but all books such as this, a crusade of sorts, a crusade to purify the ranks of books.

And so this is why I purchased a Penguin Classic version of The Grapes of Wrath. Now Penguin Classics are not the most desirable versions of a book to buy, mostly because the format is the same for every book (black background, white trim complete with orange and white font, only the upper two thirds of the front cover differing from book to book) and the quality of paper is only a step above Bible paper (Bible paper is incredibly thin in order to make the thickness of the book as small as possible, the offset is easily tear-able and partially see through paper). I only buy them when every other copy of the book is undesirable to me.

That being said, I do like this cover (upper 2/3) for the artwork. Not being an art critic, I cannot tell you why I like it (if I was to tell you I would say it is for the burnt tones of the piece), I just do. Though I think it might have something to do with the simplicity.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What I Just Read: Guns, Germs and Steel

I started reading this about two years ago, I got to the part about domesticating plants and animals, after that it's all just a blur. Well actually it seemed quite boring to me, I think I was on my first Co-Op, maybe not. Regardless the point is I finished reading it, finally. I had not thought about finishing until I came to the realization that out of all the books I had read this is the book that I reference the most, so I should probably finish it before recommending it to others.

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond is an explanation for why the world is the way it is. Now I'm sure some historians and other people who are more intelligent than myself may not see it that way but Mr. Diamond explained why white people seemingly rule the modern world and why we ride horses instead of llamas. It was helpful, I learned quite a bit and would recommend it to anyone who wants to get an understanding of how the current world came to be.

As for the book itself, I have done no research but my guess is that the cover is a artistic depiction of the abduction of Montezuma by Cortes and his men. Which if it is true is an apt picture for the cover of a book that goes onto explain how a hundred or so Spaniards took down the strongest Empire in North America. By explain I mean go back to the days of Mesopotamia and give a step by step set of directions on how best to develop a dominant society. (Hint: It involves thousands of years, a few plagues, and a lot of wars). I like the cover, the book is a bit on the tall side, but if you made it smaller it would also be bigger, if that makes any sense.

I plan on reading Jared Diamond's other books (Collapse, The Third Chimpanzee and Why is Sex Fun?) some time in the future but not for some time. For now I'm still reading The Grapes of Wrath and then after that Katy requires that I read Crime and Punishment, or else.

And we end this rather short yet never ending post with a book I really want to read but can't bring myself to buy because of how many books I already own that I have not read yet; it's called Sum by David Eagleman and it's all theories about what happens to you when you die. I blame you Radio Lab.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What I Just Read: Political Waters

As the last book I will ever read for my Undergraduate career Political Waters by Eric Jay Dolin perfectly summarizes how I felt about most books I read and classes I took while at Northeastern; it was interesting but overall the information lends itself to specific arguments that do little to interest the audience (in this particular realm it was environmental law, something I care little for even though this is the third class that I have come in contact with it).

If you were ever confused as to what Dirty Water by The Standells was about then this is your book. Political Waters chronicles the development and consequent reseolution of the Boston Harbor pollution problem, which began when the Puritans settled the Shawmut Peninsula and then began making waste.

Political Waters explains why and how sewer systems were implemented in America and how the process went from a private affair to an incredibly public one. An affair that saw countless acts of legislation and private suits that brought us to our current situation.

A little side not: Boston Harbor is actually quite clean in comparrison to what it has been like in the past, noticibly cleaner than even 15 years ago. That being said I wouldn't swim in it. Oh and please head the signs.

The book itself has a textbook feel to it with the glossy cover all the way around and the rather long sub heading. The book is large (tall and wide, not thick) and upon inspection of the text inside you realize it does not need to be. Though those features are enough for me to say to hell with the book I am intrigued by the map/painting on the cover. The cover is a detailed illustration of what looks to me as mid to late 17th century Boston. Being a large fan of maps and illustrations of cities this cover of course would pique my interest, and I of course am known to have purchased books solely because they have neat covers.

As I said before this is my last book for class at Northeastern, this week marks my last week as an Undergrad. It's weird, and I really don't know what to say. Honestly I don't. Maybe just that from here on out I would like to think the books I read will always be of my choosing.

Friday, July 31, 2009

An Open Letter to Dan Shaughnessy

Below is my response to his most recent column and every other column he is ever written.


I would appreciate it if you stopped writing columns that prey on people's emotions and disparage individuals when it is easy and convenient for you to do so. Not only is your attack on David Ortiz of speculative nature on a court ordered sealed document it also leaves out the good he has done for people through reaching out to the community. Of course the only thing that matters he tried to be a little better at his job, have you ever cheated on your taxes, have you ever broken the speed limit, have you ever knowingly hurt someone? How is it you find yourself on Mount Pious smiting those who break your moral code?

But I understand, you created the curse, you perpetuated it and you stand to make money from a new one. You ruined Nomar, Pedro, Manny and now Papi, men my childhood was based on. I hope you're (corrected at the behest of Mr. Shaughnessy) happy.


Kevin Doyle

Edit: In his response Mr. Shaugnessy noticed that i put YOUR instead of YOU'RE like I should have, that was after he told me to grow up.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Clarification, or Three

There are a few search terms that keep appearing in my Google Analytic's report and I would like to clarify them so as to help you find what you are looking for.

1) What is an underling?

Well Merriam-Webster Dictionary categorizes and "underling" as: One who is under the orders of another.

In a sense we are all underlings unless you are the President of the United States but then again even he has a wife to deal with, so yes we are all underlings.

Official Definition of "underling" for Grumbling of an Underling is hereby: Everyone in the world.

2) Neil Gaiman's girlfriend is Amanda "Fucking" Palmer (twitter @amandapalmer) she looks like this:

She makes music, usually sad, but is really cool to see in concert (scroll down). You should be happy for Neil.

3) a. In entering "Kevin Doyle" into Google you have come here. More than likely you are looking for an Irish soccer star by the same name, sadly I am not he. Try Google again and click any link other than this one you will get something about him. He looks like this:

As you can see I bare little resemblance to him. Although I do bare a striking resemblance to this guy.

b. You Googled (a word that is surprisingly not a word in Google's spell check) "Kevin Doyle green" in which case you were surprised to find that I advocate things such as the invasions of Mexico and Canada to guarantee our energy independence. That's because you are looking for Kevin L Doyle the professor of Green Energy ( and not a college kid begging for a job. Speaking of which....

c. If you have come to my blog through doing research about me in order to decide if I am worthy of offering a job you should know that I will never sell out to the man and give up this blog.

OK that's a lie, I would willingly stop and even delete this blog if it meant a full time job. What? If this blog only ends up being a way to get a job through deleting it then I see it as a win.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Consider Yourself Soiled Ol' Glory!

As I have noted before I am taking a "A History of Boston" as one of my final two classes (which I have to pass by the way). In this class there are a couple books I have to read, books I may or may not have read if it were not for this class. The first book I enjoyed very little and concluded that because of it's title, appearance and plot there is very little chance I would have ever read it.

The Soiling of Old Glory by Louis P. Masur catalogs the issues and the incident behind the famous photo by photographer Stanley Forman. It uses the infamous photo to deconstruct the outbreak of racial animosity in Boston during the 1970's so we can better understand why it happened. For me it read much like a 200 page Wikipedia article, informative but at the same time dry and boring.

Having read All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald when I was younger I already have a fair grasp on the riots and violence that surrounded the forced busing of the 1970's. What really interested me was the photo, which I have never come across although I have lived in Massachusetts my whole life.

Stanley Forman
won a Pulitzer for "Old Glory" which pictures a black man being held while a young white male is poised to strike him with the tip of a pole holding an American flag. The scene takes place in front of Boston City Hall during an anti-busing demonstration which Ted Landmark (the pictured black man) was unfortunate to walk through.

Mr. Forman also won a Pulitzer for a picture he had shot a year prior to his picture of the flag. This picture (shown below) was taken at a fire in Boston, and while taking photos of the scene Mr. Forman took this photo moments after a fire escape gave way and sent the child and woman five floors to the pavement. The woman pictured died as a result of the fall while miraculously the child survived. As a result of this photo, which ran on the front page of the Herald American, Forman was characterized as an oppurtunist who chose to take pictures from safety instead of helping those in trouble. When in fact this very photo led to sweeping reform of Boston fire escape laws which have undoubtedly saved countless lives since.

The book itself is a fairly average book with a glossy cover that borrows heavily from the picture it chronicles. The font used for the title is in all caps with a paint splattering effect which leaves dots of color on the white background. It's simple and lacks originality mostly because the picture was not hard to find when the book is based on said picture.

In the end the photo itself and it's photographer are very interesting and warrant more interest on my part, but the book itself delves heavily into why the photo is visually compelling instead of simply leaving it to the reader to comprehend and providing the setting it was in (which it does but I feel the setting is lost in the details). In all likelihood I would not read this book if it were not for my class, mostly because I know the setting in which this picture took place and all I would need to see is the photo and a brief history of the actual event itself.

I feel like this post can not end so abruptly, so I'm going to dally for a moment.......wait for it........OK, now we can say goodbye.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On Hispsters and Lullabies

A couple weekends ago Katy and I were going to see the tall ships and decided to bring our books, she Trainspotting (cult movie starring Ewen McGreggor) and me Lullaby (if you read but not much, you read Chuck Palahniuk). Katy joked that if anyone looked in her purse (which because of her refusal to be like every other girl and buy a duffel bag for a purse has our books sticking out of it) they would think we were trendy/hipsters.

Now if you know me you know I hate trendy people and I hate hipsters, mostly because they stole my witty t-shirts, my skinniness, made listening to certain music and books that I might like or read "hip" and decided to like shitty beer that I also like to drink form time to time. (Katy says their mantra is "i take photos, drink shit beer, and read cool books").

So I might be called a hipster, because they share traits with me. Just like I used to get "you take emo pictures" because I hate posing for pictures. I'm perilously close to being a victim of "hipster" profiling and I'm not even a fucking hipster! Though apparently I'm only a stupid hat and a pant size away from being a spitting image of one.

Now you did not come here for a rant about hipsters and my apparent likeness to them, though I'm sure you enjoyed it. You came here because you wanted to get the skinny (always wanted to use that word) on Lullaby. Besides not being able to get the voice and image of Edward Norton out of my head, Lullaby is solidly enjoyable novel of very easy language and fairly predictable plot.

Upon reading Lullaby I now understand why so many people consider Chuck Palahniuk their favorite author and why Fight Club translated so easily from a book to a hit movie. Mr. Palahiuk writes with a distinct style and flow to his book which makes the digestion easy and therefore keep the book going at a fast pace. It reads like a movie. With a hint of anti-society mixed in.

But more than anything I like it because it makes you think about situations that are in a way possible but at the same time not thought about as much as they should be. I would go into the specific thought process I came away with but I would ruin the book. If you read it and the part about possible genocide via irregular means catches your interest then feel free to send me an email and we can talk about it.

Lullaby is a beautiful book to behold. The cover is a solid white with black curvy font, with a dead bird placed in the middle. The texture of the cover is not rough or slippery, but instead, for lack of a better term "grippy". The pages on the inside are filled to the edges, not wasting excess space on borders. My one grippe is that chapter endings and chapter beginnings never share a page back to back, I feel not doing so is a waste of paper. But that is far from a deal breaker, just excessive.

More books by Mr Palahniuk will be read in the future I am sure but for now I think I will stick to the classics and critically acclaimed in lieu of the confusion surrounding the question of my "hipster" qualities.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

(P • B) ⊃ B

I like Blueberry Pancakes (and Raspberry ones) and I like beer, and because I am taking a Logic class (which I may or may not pass, evidence of the latter to follow) I can say say that just because I like Blueberry Pancakes and I like beer does not mean I would like Blueberry Pancake beer. Aux contrare monfrare! As a matter of fact (P • B) ⊃ B! [(If I like Blueberry Pancakes • I like Beer) ⊃ I like Blueberry Pancake Beer!]

To be fair, Sea Dog Blue Paw is not meant to be a Blueberry Pancake Beer, just merely a beer that tastes like blueberries. Yet the buttery aftertaste combined with the taste of blueberries makes you feel like you are gorging yourself on pancakes that have the added benefit of getting you drunk. I feel as if Willy Wonka is behind this, realizing that beer that tastes like a delicious meal is far more marketable than his three course gum.

That being said I find it hard to keep up my very manly reputation while frequently being seen drinking a fruit beer (pun intended). Katy very frequently attacks my manliness on the grounds that I enjoy beers such as UFO Raspberry, Sea Dog Blue Paw and Hell or High Watermelon (though her intentions for doing so elude me). Here I mount my defense.

1. Try Sea Dog, I guarantee you will like it! (imagine a local TV commercial pitchman voice and then do what it says)

2. Since when does like a tasty beer make you less manly? Why do I have to drink Coors Light or Bud Light to be a man? Or to go to the other end why do I need to drink IPA or some bitter beer that looks like it was fermented with black licorice to be a man? Why can't I just like the beer that I like.

3. Which brings me to my next point, in Belgium, one of the leaders in beer making since the beginning of time, drink a fruit flavored beer known as Lambic. Besides being one of the best things on the face of the planet (though when I say this leave the Cherry flavored one out, it tastes like Robitussin), it is not considered non manly to have.

4. It is made in Maine and real men are from Maine.

With my manliness living to fight (or not fight) another day, we now come to the obvious the question; if a beer tastes like blueberry pancakes and blueberry pancakes are eaten for breakfast is it OK for one to drink a blueberry pancake tasting beer for breakfast?

I say yes, but then again I am not opposed to drinking at all hours of the day to begin with. I mean the ability to have a drink, not actually drink all hours of the day, I may be manly but not that manly.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Buck Stops Here

To quote the large book about a man I read in 7th grade, "The Buck Stops Here". Big Buck Hunter makes me want to buy a shotgun and go hunting for Big Buck Hunter consoles. In particular the Big Buck Hunter at TC's Lounge. Why? Because at no point in it's existence does that game not piss me off.

The one thing that really, really, really, really gets my gourd (old people say it why can't I?) is the noise that emanates from the machine when someone is not playing it. It makes this western wolf like noise every time the game starts it's loop. If you have been with me to TC's you would know that each time it does this I also make a noise, but one a game isn't allowed to make.

Now let's get one thing straight, if you live in Boston, you attend Berklee, you wear flip flops with pants and you frequent a drinking establishment called TC's Lounge then you are not a hunter and the closest you are going to get to a rifle and a large four legged animal is a paint ball gun and your friends Newfoundland (an exchange you would lose). So no, I'm not impressed by the "skillz" you have in respect to Big Buck Hunter, because if that gun was real and that Moose an actual 400 pound piece of meat and fur you would have no clue what to do.

Which brings me to my next point; it's just glorified target practice, that cheetah isn't going to maul you and that heard of Buffalo isn't going to trample you. There is no threat to your person what so ever, you are hitting clay ducks but instead of a gun with kickback its a glorified laser pointer for $1 - $2. That's fun?

That all being said, I had my moment of weakness with the game a few weeks ago when Katy and I went to NYC for her to sit in a meeting and for me to drink at random bars. At one of these said bars I was going to the bathroom and I noticed that there was a "Safari" edition of Buck Hunter. After scoffing at it I noticed that there was one credit already loaded on the game, and being a person who never turns down things that are free, and apparently a person who changes there opinion on things just because they are now free (so yes give me free things and then I will no longer sneer at you, strong convictions), I decided to give it the good old college try (I have no idea what that means but I wanted to say it). I picked my weapon (having never fired a weapon this was quite simple and random), I picked my prey (always wanted to hunt Elephant, just don't have the few extra grand laying around to pay off an African tribe to tie one up for me to shoot), and I was ready.

Then the machine prompted me for another credit. Like teachers making making 10 question quizzes worth 20 points, this machine made one play worth 2 credits. Why would they do that? Besides making me feel and look like a complete and utter moron I can think of no reasons.

So yes Big Buck Hunter does make me want to shoot things, but four legged animals have no need to be worried.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What I Just Read: The Shoemaker and The Tea Party

As you may or may not know I have entered my final term at Northeastern University (Not Northwestern, unfortunately I am not that smart), and as one of my two final classes I am taking The History of Boston, which I am calling "Story Time take 2" (the first "Story Time" being America and the Sea). In this class like many classes out there we have to read books and the first book is The Shoemaker and the Tea Party by Alfred F. Young, and in the words of a Chicken Lou's cook "What could be more fun than Shoemakers and Tea Parties?"

As a matter of fact there probably far more things more interesting than Tea Parties and Shoemakers. George Robert Twelves Hewes, "The Shoemaker" mentioned in the title of this book, is the vehicle used by the author to show how the "Tea Party" changed to suit the political necessities of the day.

The analysis of the "Tea Party" is well done, even if it is slightly obvious. It is the biography of Mr. Hewes that irks me, it is mostly a regurgitation of two period biographies and a whole bunch of inference (second class this semester is logic btw). All in all I would call it weak, and Hewes a victim of circumstance and good genes and not all that deserving of a biography. The Tea Party thesis could easily be made without.

Fun Fact: Hewes named his 11th son, Eleven. Best "Boy Named Sue theory" name ever.

The cover looks and feels like a Borders Classics book, that is to say rushed and ugly. The inside of the book is average with period pictures through out.

Suffice to say I would never buy this book nor read it if I was not required to do so.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's Easy (but probably not probable) Being Green: Hydro-Electric Home

Here is our ongoing segment known as It's Easy (but probably not probable) Being Green. Which is ripped from a Kermit the Frog song. Again I am not the green energy consulted that also goes by the name Kevin Doyle, I'm just the guy who mistakenly gets his emails.

Dear Mr. President,

I hope this letter finds you well, and after we last met I hope this letter simply finds you at all. Again I apologize.

But moving beyond that I would like to get straight to the point, I have an idea that could save the average American a bit of money on their electric bill, that is of course if they live in the Northeast and that is also of course if it continues to rain non-stop in the Northeast and if the system is actually cost-effective, I'm just the man who thinks of things, I don't actually implement them.

As you know the Northeast has become a rain forest in the past 2 or so months, with nonstop rain drenching the area on a daily basis. What I propose is that we harness this rain water on a house to house basis and turn it into electricity.

In my two dimensional illustration pictured above I show how water defies physics and runs down only one side and one corner of a roof, hits a water wheel and through a system of pulleys it somehow charges a battery. I claim to know nothing about either weather patterns or power generation but I do look outside and I do notice my electric bill and there must be a connection. That's why I think you should hand this off to your energy experts (of which you would do well to remember I am not one of them) and have them develop the system and give it the American Public, the word "give" being loosely defined by you.

As always Mr. President feel use your "Bully Pulpit" to beat people into submission and make them implement this system. Though if the black and blue populace does not re-elect as a consequence don't come crying to me.


Kevin (No L required) Doyle

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Haikuing While Under the Influence of Rain

Seeing as how I fancy myself a poet I figured I would document the rains of epic proportions we have been experiencing the past 24723847 days through Haiku. Enjoy

What is misery
Rainstorms are miserable
Rain is misery

Rain, rain go away
Come again another day
On second thought, don't

It will rain today
It will rain again Friday
Rain is relentless

Raindrops on my head
My head below my shoulders
My neck really hurts

Foot in a puddle
Clothing soaked all the way through
Fuck Mother Nature

Friday, June 26, 2009

What I Just Read: The Painted Bird

Thanks to two 4+ hour bus rides and 2 hours to myself in Central Park I finished this book in one day, the actual finishing happened somewhere in Central Connecticut on a dimly lit bus.

The Painted Bird
by Jerzy Kosinski is a story of a young boy, who through his parent-less wanderings through Eastern Europe witnesses and befalls unspeakable (though not to him) attrocities at the hands of the local village populations. Reminded me a lot of Night by Elie Wiesel (in the fact that it was a story about the atrocities of WWII through the eyes of a child).

The stories in the painted bird are meant to be shocking and gut wrenching but to me his words had very little effect on me. The scenes he depicts were just that to me, scenes. I do not disagree that rapings, beatings and torture are horrific and indefensible acts but having not felt any of the effects of such actions. I think that may have been why I was surprised, partially due to Katy's reaction to the book, at how it was not as graphic as I thought it would be.

On the whole I enjoyed the book, in large part to the changes in the main characters thought process through out the book. Much like A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah who reflects on the mental toll that war and soldiering during his childhood had on him the painted bird talks about how adult events such as war, sex and torture are damaging to children.

To put it bluntly the design of this book is terrible in almost every way possible. For starters orange, purple and gray are not colors that work well together, and when you lay them on top of one another they really hurt the eyes.

The bird on the cover looks like someone used MS Paint (ha Painted Bird get it?) to put it on there. As a matter of fact this whole cover looks like it was put together in MS Paint by an Elementary School kid. The fact that it was made some time in the 60's or 70's is no excuse they should have updated it by now.

On the inside the words are smooshed together while leaving an inch for the margins. My question is why not give more spacing for the words or make the book smaller as a whole?

Next up is Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk. Last time I came in contact with something associated with Mr. Palahniuk was Fight Club (the movie not the book), just as the title credits were beginning I was told the whole plot of the movie. Now as a warning, if you know what happens in this book and you somehow bring it to my attention before I finish, I will kill you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What I Just Read: An Arsonist's Guide To Writers' Homes In New England

Winner of the longest title of the year award.

Seeing as how I no longer have to write silly English papers and I am no longer required to know Spanish I thought I might read a few things of my choosing. That is of course until I start school again on Monday which includes Logic and The History of Boston, which may prove to be some interesting reading in itself. To the book!

An Arsonist's Guide To Writers' Homes In New England is one of the books that you are on the fence about until you come to the climatic scene and then the book is abruptly over. For the majority of the book I found myself struggling to pay attention and wanting to jump over paragraphs the author dedicated to stories the main character thought were the life stories of total stranger. While some were incredibly entertaining others were woefully drawn out and were simply delaying the inevitable ending of the book.

The book reminded me of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in the way that narrator is very simple minded and the reader tends to understand what is going on before the narrator does. The problem is in Loud & Close the narrator is a child and in Arsonist's he is a grown man, or as the narrator likes to say a grown ass man.

Good book, with a different take it could have been great. Not a must read but a good one no less.

I like the cover, for one it takes balls to go with an orange cover ( I would say as much balls as it took for me to wear a bright orange shirt to school once a week in 8th grade but I think that was more stupidity than anything else) and second the burning lady (not once, not twice but three times) was a nice touch. What I didn't like is the lighter orange around the title letters, too far man.

After much internal deliberation I have decided to forgo Daniel's favorite author Murakami and the beautiful looking Lullaby by Palahniuk for now in lieu of the more jarring book The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski. As I understand it is very doable and desirable to read in a day; and seeing as how I have about 6 hours of bus riding tomorrow (to and from NYC) I like those qualities.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What I Just Read: American Gods

Before we get into the book just an overall formatting change of how I am going to approach books from now on. Why I thought you needed two posts per book I have no idea, so I am no longer going to give you the book cover review and my thoughts going into the book. Instead I am going to lump them in with the review after the book, the result being one large post on; my thoughts going into the book, the cover, and my overall review.

I know what you are thinking "How will we know what you are reading?!?!?!" do not worry yourself about that, I will still continue to give John Lennon a frined in the What I Am Currently Reading list in the left hand column but instead of linking to a post it will link to the Wikipedia page of the book or the author. That being said there may be a spoiler in the at link, so consider this your spoiler alert.

Again for those of you who were not reading:


If you are like 99.9% of the people on the planet and have no desire to be updated about what books I am reading and what my opinions are then I apologize for the last couple paragraphs.

Anyway on with the show.

Katy loves Neil Gaiman, so much so that when she found through his Twitter (his tweets are the reason she is on Twitter in the first place) that he was just down the street enjoying some museum time with his girl friend Amanda Palmer (or as she calls herself Amanda Fucking Palmer) she almost ran out the door.

Speaking of Neil Gaiman's girlfriend Amanda Palmer (twitter handle: @amandapalmer) Katy and I each won tickets to her secret show in Cambridge via Twitter. The show was more than enjoyable, and even if you do not care for her music her personality more than makes up for it. This show, being no more than 200 people there, was all request with her staple "Ask Amanda" segment being mixed in. "Ask Amanda" involves the audience submitting a bunch of questions and Amanda picking a few to answer. Let's just say one question lead to us knowing which boob Neil Gaiman prefers (the left one) and the name of her boobs' musical act "Titter and the Plus One's".

Anyway the point is Katy loves Neil Gaiman and because of that she made me read his book American Gods. Now yes Katy is slightly crazy and her recent choices of audio books have been a little suspect (the ones that involve vampires) but her past recommendations have been spot on (Lolita, Everything Is Illuminated, The Corrections ) so I was not all that worried.

I would like to say that I very rarely shut out the rest of the world in order to read a book. I believe all of the Harry Potter series and Dune were the only books to invoke that trait of mine. American Gods showed shades of that which involved me angering Katy by reading at the dinner table (though I must say she had been on my case to read it for months and then she gets mad when I put it down?). What I am trying to say is, I enjoyed it. Thoroughly.

Then again it is hard to imagine not enjoying a book that takes Gods from all over the world and gives them human traits such as greed, alcoholism, lust and anger, among others. Besides that there is not much I can say that will not spoil the story, other than that Mr. Gaiman writes with the ability of a classic Sci-Fi/Fantasy writer but in a modern day and adult fashion, if that makes sense. Just read the book, you will enjoy it, and if you don't enjoy it then you have no soul.

As for the cover, it is a decent cover, nothing jaw dropping about it but it suits it's purpose. At first you pass you wonder what it has to do with Gods. After reading it you wonder why that house? To which I tell you it's a stock photo from Getty Images.

Next book up is An Arsonist's Guide To Writers' Homes In New England by Brock Clarke, yes it's a novel and not an actual guide to burn by. Came highly recommended by a few people, I will report back when I inevetably finish it, that is of course unless you are a book about John Lennon.

New BANNER!!!!!!!!

There is a new banner above. It's funny. You should sit there and chuckle to yourself for a few moments. Not too long though, because that might be considered a bit creepy.

For the original photo, and how it was created, check out Katy's blog for the details

Sunday, May 31, 2009

What I Just Read: The Discomfort Zone

Sorry, I've been busy. And when I am busy you the reader suffer. For that I apologize. That being said the situation will not be getting better anytime soon. That being said it will get better one random day when I decide I need to post 3 things I want you to know about it. That being said here is the review of The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen. That being said, enjoy.

Long, long ago, in a blog post slightly below this one there is a book cover review.

The Corrections were great because the story was ridiculous. The story opens up with pages dedicated to comparing Enid's need to hide mail from Alfred with guerrilla warfare. The later part of the book takes places in Lithuania and a military coup. It was hilarious because it was ridiculous.

Jonathan Franzen's real life, though funny at points is unfortunately not as ridiculous as his fictitious family life is in The Corrections. The book is broken down into anecdotal stories from his early years and one around his present self. They are funny and sad but more than anything the book opens a window into how he got ideas for his characters in The Corrections. His parents are milder, more humanizing versions of their fictional selves. The siblings are, as far as I can tell, varying versions of Mr. Franzen himself.

All in all it was a decent book with an amazing cover. Would I recommend you read it? No, only if you want to understand the thought process behind his writing The Corrections, and even then it isn't worth it that much.

As for news on the cover, I went looking for it. Northeastern did not have a copy of the magazine, so I submitted an order for a copy from any library that had it. On that order I said that a copy would only be of use to me if it was in color. I got this:

(Click on them and they give you a bigger more legible file)

When it comes to the Woman's heart that was much better than nothing at all considering I could not find a legible copy to begin with. Yet I wanted it in color to see the detail. Regardless my hunt is far from over. You will see a color copy with detail in the future. Mark my words.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What I Am Reading: The Discomfort Zone

I enjoyed Jonathan Franzen's book The Corrections immensely and upon realizing that I would not be working at Borders much longer I promptly bought the other two books of his that we had in stock.

The Discomfort Zone is meant to be (as the cover says) a personal history; all of 20 pages in it appears to me to be a tamer telling of The Corrections with his real mother and father reflecting milder versions of their counterparts in the Corrections. Makes you wonder if he wrote this only to clear up any misconception that Alfred and Enid were fictional characterizations of his parent. Not all of us can be fooled.

Yet again Jonathan Franzen fails to disappoint in the cover department with this being my favorite book cover of any book I have read so far. My being a lover of maps it isn't hard to believe that a book with a very descriptive map of a man's heart would catch my fancy. Now after doing a little research stemming from reading the back cover, apparently the original map (published in a January 1960 edition of McCall's) came complete with a map of a Woman's heart as well. I have been unable to find a good quality version (here is a poor one) via the internets so I now have plans to look through Northeastern's collection of Magazine's and if I cannot find it there I will hunt it down at the library of congress. To be continued.....

Monday, May 4, 2009

What I Just Read: Factotum

They say never judge a book by it's cover, well then maybe don't read this.

There are two constants in the life of Henry Chinaski; every woman he beds was "good" and every job he has ever had and will have asks far to much of him for far to little pay. Factotum is not different, Chinaski like most books gets himself hooked to a crazed woman who likes to show him some leg while at the same time moving from job to job (mores so in this book than any other) where his bosses don't understand him and ask far too much of him.

I get the job thing, he is lazy by nature, hates being told what to do and above all would rather be sitting in his bed with his back to the wall drinking a beer. I get that.

What I don't get is how a man that looks like this, who considers himself not to be a ladies man can be found giving it to a new woman every other chapter (What is equally as confusing is the year long dry spells he speaks of). Now of course this is fictional and not autobiographical (though Henry Chinaski sounds awfully close to Charles Bukowski) and he probably embellishes most of what he writes but there must be some form of truth to it.

Regardless of an overall meaning I enjoy reading Bukowski if not for the sex crazed boozed up smart ass Chinaski but for the quick to the point writing and the finality of each book. The use of his novels to portray periods of living be it his life from birth to leaving his family, or his work at the post office, or even his preoccupation with only women, each book he writes is about one period in his life and the main issue that his life revolves around at that time (what an English teacher would call a theme).

That being said I am going to leave Hollywood and South of No North for later. I find it hard to believe that anything is going to top Ham on Rye, Post Office or the other two I read, so I plan on reading Bukowski when I'm not likely to feel let down and in reality all I want is my sex crazed boozed up smart ass fix.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Top 5: Things NOT to Say to an IM Official

If working for Northeastern Intramural Sports has taught me anything it has taught me how to take a whole lot of abuse from peers. As a result of that abuse I have come to look at the role of a referee in a new light as well as speculate as to how smart students who attend NU really are. What follows are 5 things you should never say to an IM official unless you are A) looking to make yourself look like an idiot or B) looking to get yourself banned from IM Sports and the Marino Center.

5. He hit me first!

Unfortunately I did not see him hit you first, if I had he would also have a penalty. And no I am not going to take your word for it, if I did that I would be calling a "penalty" on someone every 30 seconds. Besides that, did your mother never teach you about turning the other cheek and being the better person? Or maybe you learned about proportional responses? Sort of along the lines of being pushed to the ground and then turning around and slugging the guy in the face, I think that was not a proportional response on your part.

On top of that I have one set of eyes and unfortunately they both have to look in the same direction at all times. So yes I miss calls occasionally, it happens, get over it, losing a IM dodgeball game should not be up there with the murder of a family member.

4. Have you played Hockey before?

I love answering this question because in fact as a Hockey ref I have played hockey once or twice in my life (wowzers!), to be specific I have been skating since I was 2 and been playing Hockey since I was 4, so what's your next question Mr. Lipton? Do I know how to blow a whistle? Do I know how to lace up my skates properly? Do I sleep at night? Am I blind? I have a question for you: can you read? In particular the part of the rules where it says this is a "non-contact league". I don't care how hockey is played in the NHL because believe it or not this isn't the NHL and you aren't Sidney Fucking Crosby so stop whining like him and serve your two fucking minutes.

3. Shut the #%&@ Up! (and all manner of swearing thrown in my direction)

This one puzzles me; why would someone think it is all right to verbally abuse the person who controls their playing eligibility? It's liking bitching to a cop for a speeding ticket, what do you want a busted tailight and reckless driving tacked on? I can throw you out of this game for looking at me the wrong way (sadly I haven't found a pair of IM eyes I couldn't stare down) and no one from my boss to the President of the University would fault me for it. But yet you think it's ok to tell me to go fuck myself and how to do it? Do I look like the dumbest guy in the world to you? On second thought don't answer that question, just be quiet.

2. What's your name?

What are you going to do with my name? Complain to my boss about me? He likes me and he doesn't like you. More importantly he doesn't like people questioning the calls of his officials. So what on God's green earth do you think he is going to say to you, do you think he is going to fire me because my interpretation of a hooking penalty is a bit different then yours? I think not.

1. You want to fight outside after this is over?
This isn't as much of something not to say to a referee as much as it is a fear I have. I am waiting for the day when I'm walking down the street, ordering a beer at a bar, or grabbing a box of Cheeze-Its from the shelf at Shaws and suddenly someone blindsides me with their fist. And all that because they couldn't understand why I threw them out of a game for jumping over the boards and playing the role of Killer from Slapshot. It's going to happen, maybe not tomorrow and maybe not next year, but someday it is going to happen.

Just keep the audible noises from your throat to a minimum and behave like the decent human being your mother and father brought you up to be. That's all we ask.