Have spent the past hour handing out candy to kids in my neighborhood. Boy I miss being able to do that. Having to walk around all night lugging a pillowcase around. You used to have to do some work to get the candy. When you’re the candy-hander-outer, all you need to do if you want a Reese’s is to reach into the bowl between brigades of kids. I’m typing this during one such break now, my mouth stuffed with chocolate. So much for the 4 miles I ran today.
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So the Tribune now has posted a ranking, based on a poll some social networking site I’ve never heard of conducted, that describes what people think the Coolest and Least Cool nationalities are.
The obvious question: Does that seem a little, I don’t know, insensitive? Wrong? It’s a non-issue, clearly; don’t think I’m stirruping into my high horse. It’s more just — weird? http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/ct-coolest-not-so-cool-nationalities-pg,0,3404918.photogallery
America came in as Coolest nationality. Least Cool? Sorry Belgians! You lame-o’s! You’re even worse than the Poles and Turks (2 and 3, disrespectively)! Ha…ha-ha. Hmm.
1. The Postmarks — “Winter Spring Summer Fall”
2. The Adolescents — “California Sun”
3. Radiohead — “Black Star”
One of the hardest things about fiction is dialogue. One of the best writers of dialogue, in my view, was the crime fiction author Raymond Chandler.
I’ve been revisiting his work recently, and recalled this passage from his first novel, “The Big Sleep,” which is maybe my favorite exchange ever. Here is private detective Phillip Marlowe smarting off to his new client’s butler, Norris:
“…What does Mrs. Regan want to see me about?”
His blue eyes gave me a smooth level look. “She has a misconception of the purpose of your visit, sir.”
“Who told her anything about my visit?”
“Her windows command the greenhouse. She saw us go in. I was obliged to tell her who you were.”
“I don’t like that,” I said.
His blue eyes frosted. “Are you attempting to tell me my duties, sir?”
“No. But I’m having a lot of fun trying to guess what they are.”
We stared at each other for a moment. He gave me a blue glare and turned away.
This scene, like the entire book, feels effortless. But note the way he weaves so cleanly between dialogue and exposition. And, more so, note how clever the dialogue is. Particularly the last lines in the exchange, which send me to giggles each time I re-read it.
1. The Head and the Heart — “Lost in My Mind”
On this first day of fall, an appropriately autumnal offering from these folks from Seattle.
2. The Weepies — “Keep It There”
From the husband-wife duo’s 2003 “Happiness” album.
3. Reverend Gary Davis — “Cocaine Blues”
Digging deep for this one…
4. Woody Guthrie — “Hobo’s Lullaby”
…and this one. Go to sleep, you weary hobo.
5. Elliott Smith — “I Don’t Think I’m Ever Gonna Figure It Out”
From the New York Times editorial page:
Troy Davis is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday for the 1989 killing of a police officer in Savannah, Ga. The Georgia pardon and parole board’s refusal to grant him clemency is appalling in light of developments after his conviction: reports about police misconduct, the recantation of testimony by a string of eyewitnesses and reports from other witnesses that another person had confessed to the crime.
The link to the full article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/21/opinion/a-grievous-wrong-on-georgias-death-row.html?_r=1&ref=opinion.
I don’t know if Troy Davis is innocent or not, but I hardly think it matters: I want my country to err on the side of caution, on the side of whatever uncertainty exists. I very much hope Davis sees tomorrow.
1. Guilty Simpson — “Michigan Nights”
An often very good rapper from Detroit, exhibiting one of his very good tracks in this ode to his home state.
2. Dinah Washington — “September in the Rain”
In honor of it being September, and occasionally rainy.
3. MIA — “Pull Up the People”
Before there was “Paper Planes,” there was this.
4. Bonnie Prince Billy — “Bed is for Sleeping”
This guy is so good.
5. The Jesus and Mary Chain — “My Girl”
JAMC translating the Temptations classic into their late ’80s brood.
6. All Time Quarterback — “Dinner At Eight In The Suburbs”
The Ben Gibbard solo project that isn’t the Postal Service.