?

Log in

Previous 10

Jun. 29th, 2016

reading tiger

We're back on track! (Reading/Listening)

But don't expect it to last, b/c next week I will be in Hawaii (!).

Still reading Detroit City, which is still a fine book. I should be finished with it soon. As far as chapter books with the kids go, I'm currently reading them a charming little YA mystery called Enchantment Lake.: A Northwoods Mystery. (https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/enchantment-lake) It's set in a small lakeside community in northern Minnesota, one that can only be reached by boat and only intermittently possesses electricity and is full of aging, eccentric residents. But the demographics are changing, someone's building a road and maybe a golf course, and suddenly a lot of "accidents" are claiming the lives of the older generation. Francie, an aspiring actress who briefly played a teenage detective on TV, comes back to help her elderly aunts discover what's really going on.

Published by University of Minnesota Press, this was written by someone who, you can tell, is intimately familiar with the northern Midwestern landscape. I've never been up to northern Minnesota, but my family used to have a house on a lake in southern Michigan (near Cassopolis). Not a vacation house; my own elderly relations lived there year-round -- the whole Filley family, whom the Selkes intermarried with, had 3-4 houses all next to each other, if I recall correctly, and the local access road is still named after them -- and we'd go to visit on weekends. So all the little details keep making me shiver with delight. (The peat bog! The midnight fishing for walleye, using leeches as bait! Jigsaw puzzles you've done so many times before that you try it without the reference photo to make it more challenging! Birch trees!) I am not entirely sure the kids are as entertained as I am, but they seem to enjoy Francie and her dotty aunts (are they sisters? a couple? does it matter?), and the writing is sprightly enough to keep their attention. It's too bad this book didn't get more attention -- I plucked it from the returns cart at work -- because it's really quite well-crafted and more satisfying than the usual YA mystery fluff. At least so far.

Meanwhile, I wrote about Prince again: http://www.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2016/06/28/earworm-weekly-lets-pretend-were-married-by-prince

Jun. 23rd, 2016

reading tiger

reading and listening

Detroit City: I had forgotten how colorful Coleman Young was. "Swearing is an art form. You can express yourself much more exactly, much more succinctly, with properly used curse words."



Earworms:

Queen: http://www.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2016/06/14/earworm-weekly-we-will-rock-you-by-queen

Katy Perry: http://www.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2016/06/21/earworm-weekly-firework-by-katy-perry

Jun. 17th, 2016

reading tiger

we were doing so well there for a moment!

Still reading Detroit City is The Place to Be. It's still great. More soon.

Jun. 8th, 2016

reading tiger

reading and listening on schedule

I grew up in Michigan, about two hours away from Detroit and four hours away from Chicago. My father's family still lived in Chicago, and I didn't drive, so my pull was always toward the other side of Lake Michigan -- unlike much of the rest of my hometown, who would head to Detroit regularly for concerts or other daytrips. Still, like many folks I have a soft spot for Detroit. And also a little better grasp of the city's true history. (But only a little.)

I just started reading Mark Binelli's Detroit City Is The Place To Be and already I am damn impressed. Maybe it's the part where he compares 1920s Detroit to the Bay Area (he says Silicon Valley, but his book is a few years old and the Valley had not completed its takeover of points north and east). He didn't intend that passage to resonate like it does to me, reading now, but he has a very large and sobering point.

But there's lots of other good stuff too, and I look forward to reading it.

Speaking of Detroit, this week's earworm column is on the Spinners (known as the Detroit Spinners in the UK).

http://www.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2016/06/07/earworm-weekly-ill-be-around-by-the-spinners

P.S. I stumbled across Binelli's book because of his most recent publication, Screamin' Jay Hawkins' All-Time Greatest Hits, which looks to be a very interesting novel and is on order for me at work. Binelli's first novel, btw, was Sacco and Venzetti Must Die, which also looks interesting and ambitious.

Jun. 1st, 2016

reading tiger

Reading and Listening: short but sweet

Almost through H is for Hawk.

This week's earworm column is on The Bloodhound Gang:

http://www.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2016/05/31/earworm-weekly-the-bad-touch-by-the-bloodhound-gang

May. 25th, 2016

reading tiger

Timeliness! Reading and Listening

This week I reveal a possible origin of my music critic so-called career, through the medium of a bus trip to Canada and an earworm of a U2 song.

http://www.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2016/05/24/earworm-weekly-u2s-the-unforgettable-fire

I took a short break from H is for Hawk to read Little Labors by Rivka Galchen. Little Labors is a little book. It is consciously modeled on The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon, and it is about early motherhood, motherhood with a pre-verbal baby. I love everything about it. The discussions of babies in literature and art. The discussions of the absence of women in American literature versus English literature, something I was ranting about just the other day *before* I read that particular passage -- how I cannot remember a single woman author I read in high school American Literature classes, and only a handful from college. Galchen also turns to genre literature -- crime and mysteries -- and specifically mentions contemporary how many contemporary Japanese crime writers are women, both bits of which reminded me of a conversation I had with [Bad username: nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com] once. Also a discussion of the trendiness of the color orange, Sei Shōnagon herself, and loads of other tasty stuff, including pithy one-liners about other people's children, for example. The miscellany form is so ridiculously well-suited to the material of early motherhood that I am mildly appalled that this is more or less the only book I know that uses it, although structure of The Argonauts is similar. Little Labors may be little, but it's making a big argument about motherhood and writing, albeit doing so obliquely, in a very Pillow Book sort of way if you get my drift, a very subtle, clever, pointed but never full-frontal way.

May. 19th, 2016

reading tiger

Reading/Listening/Floating in the Void

We have lost all sense of time and space, it has become clear. We are floating free of calendar squares, timelines, appointment reminders. We have transcended chronological expectations. Strange, since we are still a creature of deadlines in our other life, as well as shift work. We have an alarm on our cell phone that goes off once a day -- two to three times, if you incorporate the snooze function into your calculations. But calculations are just another form of ordering, and ordinal regimen is what we have detached from somehow. Time, we are told, is an illusion, time on the Internet doubly so. Tilt your head and we may all gain a glimpse of infinity.

Or I could just be turning into a terminal flake.

Probably there are other mitigating factors, like fatigue -- I am so fucking tired, it's near the end of the school year, I now tutor on Wednesdays instead of Fridays, etc. Anyway, I am here now, with you, and I have been reading the best-selling, award-winning H is for Hawk.

My God, this is such a good book. I knew about the grief over her father's unexpected death and the training of the hawk; I did not know about the delicate discussion of T.H. White and his sexuality (and the remarks about closeted homosexual British nature writers in general), nor the class implications of falconry, nor her prickly yet endearing self-consciousness about the whole endeavor, which is part and parcel of her talent for the careful observation of particularities. And the writing is beautiful.

This week's earworm: Alicia Keys torments me.

http://www.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2016/05/17/earworm-weekly-alicia-keys-if-i-aint-got-you

May. 9th, 2016

reading tiger

It's Monday. What?

I've been on heavy deadlines, and then recovering from deadlines, and so I've been absent hereabouts for a bit. Now I'm back with a spot of time (OK, procrastinating on another deadline), and even though it's Monday I thought I'd take a moment to catch up on the reading and things.

I sailed through "Bullies: A Friendship" by Alex Abramovich. Its title doesn't give much of a clue what it's about, but the cover does: it features a man displaying his East Bay Rats back tattoo to the camera. Abramovich discovers that his childhood bully, Trevor Latham, is now head of the EBR motorcycle club, on the other side of the country, and reaches out to him. Abramovich ends up relocating to Oakland for a spell to hang out with Latham and his buddies at the clubhouse on San Pablo and also explore a city in the grips of rapid change -- we get chapters dedicated to Chauncey Bailey's murder and Occupy Oakland, whose denouement coincides with the book's. Abramovich I think unfairly dismisses East Oakland as fairly uninteresting, but that's the biggest flaw. It's an interesting culture-clash narrative, definitely worth reading.

ETA: and here's a nice interview with Abramovich published in Vogue, of all places, that gives more insight into the book: http://www.vogue.com/13411297/alex-abramovich-bullies-interview/

I also just finished "Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen" by Mary Norris, a copy editor at the New Yorker. It's a mixture of memoir, language history, and grammar lessons; I didn't learn much new grammar but I did learn some interesting history, and the memoir bits were charming. I will say that she hits a good balance of prescriptive and descriptive, which you kind of have to when your day-job is enforcing the idiosyncratic standards of the New Yorker. If I did trigger and/or content warnings, I would say that the chapter on Norris' sibling's transition and the linguistic perils thereof was rough reading, but I appreciate her honesty even if she does give herself a cookie at the end. Overall, it's a good insight as to what working in a copy department is actually like.


Some music columns that you may have missed:

Meghan Trainor, "All About That Bass"
http://www.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2016/05/03/earworm-weekly-all-about-that-bass-by-meghan-trainor

The Bangles, "Manic Monday"
http://www.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2016/04/26/earworm-weekly-the-bangles-manic-monday

Apr. 22nd, 2016

reading tiger

a short placeholder of an idle thought while gathering my wits this week

Those of you who have heard my tales of attending the AVN Awards will remember me talking about the Planet of the Porn People, b/c porn stars are all like 5 feet high and change and I felt like I was a true giantess walking among them.

Prince, of course, was legendarily short, and legendarily sexy. I will let you draw your own conclusions here.

Apr. 14th, 2016

reading tiger

Reading and Listening has apparently taken an extended Thursday engagement.

Beck and geek chic: http://www.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2016/04/12/earworm-weekly-becks-new-pollution

Almost done with Black Deutschland. What a fantastic book. Along the way I also read Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, which is super-cute and stars G.'s new favorite comic book character, incidentally.

Previous 10