December 9, 2011 § Leave a comment
Ack! I’ve been absent. Sorry. Here’s my schedule for the next two days:
Saturday: Volunteer! Watch El Clasico. I really hope that: Jose Mourinho pokes someone in the eye, increasing my enjoyment of the game by a factor of 167%/Zlatan appears to strike fear into the heart of Pep Guardiola in a giant hotdog costume/David Villa scores three times and tears the shirt off his body to celebrate this feat of valor, thereby setting everyone’s underpants ablaze/Xabi Alonso shakes his head in disgust at the limb-rending fracas on-going in the center of the pitch and retires from the match to pose for GQ and soberly ponder reruns of The Wire for the rest of his life/Madrid wins. Make some food (snickerdoodles? brownies? lunch next week?). Exercise by riding my bike over something unpaved, like my neighbor’s dog (just kidding). Write, you slob.
Sunday: City Lights cruise with friends! Forecast to involve chicken salad (ft. a few dehydrated raisins), dry white dinner rolls, cheap booze, uncurtailed vomiting.
I really want A Naked Singularity, by Sergio de la Pava. GENIUS 24YO LEGAL EAGLE + heist of the century?? + immigration + crime + boxing + damnation of systemic poverty = my tongue is lolling out the side of my mouth.
Thinking of getting the Toshiba Protege for Christmas.
EXERCISE, register to run, buy white elephant gift. XMAS GIFTS FOR BOBBY!! send ppl holiday cards (inc. sabina!). put together and mail package to esther!
October 31, 2011 § Leave a comment
Whooooa. How is it already the 27th of October? I am bad at this blogging thing but extremely good at replying to emails, as I’ve spent the last four hours bailing water from my flooded inbox. What’s been going on? Well, I:
- Went to Chicago and came back. Accomplished zero writing but did whip up an enormous amount of food, from recipes that may or may not have called for pounds of bacon, cups of cheese, and butter by the half stick. I regret nothing.
- Stayed up until five a.m. transfixed by Christopher Hitchens’ Hitch-22, which is a great read (see preceding post), and gearing up to be my favorite non-fiction discovery since Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains. It’s full of evil regimes, intrepid journalists, salacious literary scenes, raging commies and gay camp. Seriously.
- Saw my first hockey game with Em and Susan and Bobby. Was happy that S. could make it out, but emotional distances are harder to bridge, even if one hugs hard and hopes that performing the iron armband maneuver is adequate to convey genuine affection.
- Watched Manchester United lose by an astounding 6-1 margin to Manchester City, a defeat in which the wondrous David Silva figured prominently. Then had to talk shit about how Silva had aged and turned haggard and grown bags under his eyes in order to placate B., who was getting grumpy about the gusty sighs I was emitting over the beauty of Silva’s passing.
- Attended another show at Second City. TOO MANY CHING-CHONG JOKES.
This pretty much tore my heart out and ate it raw.
August 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
“There were no assigned seats, and Besiktas fans made it a mission to keep their rivals out of the covered stands, which were considered to have the best views and the best acoustics. In what became known as the Inonu War, as many as two hundred Besiktas supporters would sleep in or around the stadium before a match, in order to defend their seats. They used fists, sticks, and rocks, and as hostilities escalated, switchblades, meat cleavers, and the razor-sharp, sword-size knives used to slice doner kebap. … By the mid-eighties, people were using Molotov cocktails and guns.
“There are stories of Carsi members striking up friendships with players by first slashing their tires and then giving them a ride home; of trashing the players’ facilities, and then turning up the next day with baklava and flowers.”
From Elif Batuman’s article on Besiktas fans. So sardonic without ever being explicitly so. I keep getting emanations of this vibe from New Yorker articles; perhaps it is the famed house style? The last one I remember reading where this also happened was Ariel Levy’s piece on Silvio Berlusconi, where she, very adroitly and without a hint of anything you could detect in the text, lays out all the foibles and absurdities that have accumuluated around the life of Italian television’s ruling media mogul cum prime minister, he who is besotted with underaged prostitutes, and does so in a completely condemning way, while never raising the stylistic pitch of her voice to a level above reasoned neutrality. It’s quite effective! This equivalent of saying something incredible while keeping a completely straight face. All the feelings of horror and disgust lie within the reader, and nowhere on the page.
I like the stories about the schizophrenia-prone Carsi members, I’m plotting things for it already. The ground down working class fan whose whole life is his team, and Cesar the rising young star, with his careless blonde hair and the apple shine of promise on him. If only he weren’t so volatile, so fearsomely bad-tempered, his mother always laments…. The background: a massive strike that has nixed all economic activity and thrown the whole city into disarray. Railways idle and trash goes uncollected. Shops shutter. At night, power lines cut out without warning, and important neighborhoods, not just poor ones, are plunged into darkness. In meeting rooms and at negotiation tables, tensions rise after a power outage results in a spate of robberies and several deaths; suited men confer, speak to each other in increasingly shrill voices, storm off. Hostility edges every exchange. The cashier at the market is surly, tosses your peaches into the bag without a regard for if they’ll bruise. Even Cesar in his remove feels it. One game is canceled. The crowd’s chanting gets nastier. A broken-necked glass bottle, craftily aimed, sidelines one of his teammates for he doesn’t know how long it’ll be. And he keeps seeing the same fan: at games, during training, standing back from the hubbub, gazing at him. At the same time that he is annoyed he feels pity and curiosity; he is at that age where both come to him easily. Why does the man look so sad?
That was before he left practice the day after a bad loss and found his car’s windshields smashed in, of course.
August 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
Toni used to look after Cesar. Now he didn’t have to, for the most part. They spent their time goofing off. In situations where others were on the verge of being broadsided by Cesar’s temper Toni sometimes intervened to defuse the situation and sometimes provoked Cesar to even greater snits, in the way that only people who knew you best could do. He did this to spare others by drawing Cesar’s ire onto himself; or because he just wanted to see what the fresh hell Cesar would get up to. They called each other horrible wounding things, bawled each other out for muddling that through ball, missing that shot, stormed off on one another spitting venom and swearing to make the other rue the day he was born, but in a minute again they were slapping each other on the shoulder and joking in the locker room, their shouts ringing off the tiles. The more terrible they were to one another the more they proved to each other their deep, abiding affection.
Toni had once cut Cesar’s head out from a team photograph and glued it onto the picture of a wheelchair bound cripple, then papered the halls of their training ground with black and white photocopies; Cesar had been in the middle of a goal drought and Toni knew that though Cesar would refuse to speak to him for a week afterward, public humiliation would enrage him to success. And Cesar had left a gift of unwrapped raw fish in Toni’s car soon after that, as a joke about Toni’s own drought, as it related to the women Toni loved, pursued, and moped and pined for, who tormented him ceaselessly though he only ever wanted to make them happy. Then Cesar tried to arrange dates for Toni, once even hiring a call girl as a joke, but Toni and the woman recognized each other at the dinner table, greeting one another with exclamations of surprise and delight, and then Toni had to explain to Cesar over the phone that the girl was a family friend’s younger sister who had fallen on hard times, what with the recession and the strikes that had waylaid funds initially dog-eared for federal educational loans, and that Cesar was disgracing Toni’s reputation by thinking it necessary to purchase women for a man such as himself, who all women wanted and who all men aspired to be, and that furthermore, it was pure exploitation to have called this young woman, a student and a good girl, whose future Toni would make it a priority to take care of, by inquiring if any open administrative spots needed filling at their organization. In concluding the conversation Toni hung up smartly, not realizing that Cesar had disconnected the call out of sheer boredom ten minutes earlier.
August 15, 2011 § Leave a comment
Other People’s Love Letters, edited by Bill Shapiro: Much less than I expected. What was I expecting? Tales of anguish and redemption springing off each page; a book of pop-up love stories, the kind that can unfold a castle before your eyes. The problem I suspect with collating love letters in a venture of this sort is that you get a self-selecting population that reads and responds to open calls for materials published in books of this kind. That was an overly elaborate way of saying that if you were an alien reading this book you’d be convinced that white middle-class urbanites have this love thing staked out all for themselves, and that the rest of the earth either doesn’t feel or doesn’t write. Still, took down some useful lines (“You’re beautiful. By the way. Where do you stand on chains?”). Some jubilant. Some embittered. Some I will be reusing in smutty fanfic. Ha ha ha.
Soccer in Sun and Shadow, by Eduardo Galeano: Loved this. No, really. Feverish admiration for how this guy gets it, and when I say it, I mean, my soul. Galeano is great on the obsessiveness of fandom, and nigh unbeatable on the variety of plot twists that can occur in the time between a ref’s bookending whistles and cause traffic accidents and/or spontaneous designations of national holidays in countries on the other side of the world. And his clever, twisting language! So muscular, yet spare.
Longer thoughts on the latter book here.