Monday, July 24, 2006

Howl like a wolf and a witch will open the door…

The inevitable fact about enjoying even the most obscure pop culture interest is that someday some other fan of said obscure interest will find himself creating something for mass consumption and the interests of his youth will rise. You will rejoice with a knowing nod to this artist and know that all along that record, comic, movie kicked ass (take for example any of the plethora of modern fashions and attitudes filched from the then shunned skateboard world circa 1990-1994). Clerks 2, aside from being a great movie, has prominent King Diamond music, songs from “Them” to be specific. I still don’t think we’ll King Diamond shirts at Hot Topic, though it might be funny if we did. The last thing I expected to hear at the multiplex was King Diamond.

MOTAB is a monthly bike race/parade. The best way to describe it is this: bring a crappy bike, place it in the stack of other bikes, wait for the start, hear the start, run and retrieve your bike, do many laps around the old paint factory (this involves gravel, some off road riding, and much silliness), at the end of 24 minutes the first person to cross the finish line wins. Crossing the line has nothing to do with the number of laps completed, nor the speed in which you are traveling -- it is mainly luck. In celebration of the Tour de France’s doping scandal this was the all doping MOTAB. Your spokecard had the name of a banned rider on it and you had to drink a cup of EPO (read: cheap, red wine) before digging your bike out. It happens every month and I will certainly be there for the next one. It is every bit as fun that it sounds, probably more so.

Congratulations to the Mennonite Tour de France Champion Floyd Landis. His performance in Stage 17 is nothing short of legendary, right next to Eddy Merckx. I can hear Yarrow, BC rejoicing.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Always on the wrong side of whatever side there was

My softball debut at Bowling Green in Middleton was not exactly a trainwreck, but not exactly a star spangled spectacular. I went 0 for 5, but lined out once to the second baseman and then grounded out to the first baseman. The conclusion to draw is that my swing was slow. I tried to make some adjustments but all I ended up with was some fouls. I'm happy, like they tell the 8 year olds in little league, to have made contact. They stuck me in left field and my first fly ball was in the fifth inning on 2 outs. I caught it cleanly and ended the inning. It turns out that if I had let it drop we would have lost due to the run rule (if you are losing by 8 runs at any time after the 5th, you immediately lose). In little league we called it a slaughter rule. I misjudged a few other balls after that first one, but I'd like to think that my most important fly of the day was caught. In my defense I have never played fast pitch softball with a 12" softball. Since I'm from Chicago I'm used to 16" softballs, slow spinning pitches, and mangled fingers. These people here use gloves and pitch around 80+mph. When I arrived I mentioned that I was only used to Chicago clincher softballs, not the 12" 'kitten' balls. The response: "Yeah, we don't play with that size. We're straight." I felt like part of the team. Maybe if I could commit to an entire season and take some batting practice in the spring I could play much better, but I suspect cycling will always win my time when summer comes.

A big thankyou to Salma for the American Hardcore book. I'm enjoying it but like any book documenting something as underground and as much a life force as hardcore is to many people, there is plenty to disagree with. The book Dance of Days was a a great read, but too obsessed with kneeling at the Ian MacKaye altar and enshrining DC punk. So far American Hardcore is painting a smarter and wider picture, but a few things are sticking under my skin. I'll finish the book first and rant at that time. It has me digging into my cd collection so it must have an inherently good core. Any book that talks about such importand bands, music, and songs are welcome.

Friday, July 14, 2006

You haven’t aged well, nor have you learned

I think it was Scott that first came up with the expression “ it’s like swimming with your clothes on” to describe riding a mountain bike after being used to riding a road bike. That is a perfect phrase. It is also how I have felt lately regarding the books I’m ‘reading’ right now. Just thinking off the top of my head, here are the books that currently have bookmarks in them:

American Hardcore: A Tribal History by Steven Blush
Showcase Presents: Green Lantern
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway
Jack Hagee, Private Eye Graphic Novel
Cell by Stephen King
Spider-Man/Black Cat: Evil That Men Do by Kevin Smith

I use old concert stubs as bookmarks and am all out of bookmarks right now. No new books are allowed to be started. That is the rule. I impulsively feel that my reading volume has spiked downward, but I ultimately realize that I’m reading just as much as before, it is just that nothing is getting finished.

Thankfully I am still keeping up on my weekly comics, mainly the all important weekly 52, and I was able to finish Cell at lunch.

Cell was a tight, excellently paced, short novel. I genuinely appreciate a longer Stephen King novel and the way he slowly weaves different characters into each other’s lives, sometimes taking a few hundred pages of characterization and action before they ever meet. This rarely feels bloated or wasteful, The Stand being an excellent example. The Cell is much different and is successful in its own way. The intense doom of the unknown zombie threat and its source functions best when it is unknown to the characters as well as the reader. We only meet characters when the main protagonist Clay meets them – no omniscient storytelling here. At the end we’re never sure of the true facts of the Pulse – we only know what the characters know when we they know it. Not a great book, but a very good one. For me, it all successfully hinged on the third person point of view that veered constantly towards a first person one. Also, there are many zombies to be dealt with, a healthy fear of technology premise that harkens back to the fear of atomic energy centered films of the 50’s, and the omnipresent political underpinnings all zombie tales possess. A solid grade of B.

The fast pitch softball team a few coworkers belong to has felt a pinch of dwindling members so I’ll be playing in a double header tomorrow. It’s a kitten ball, not a Chicago softball, but I’ll survive.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Dirge for #28

Better in the long run by far, but sad for the Hawks right now.

Dies iræ! dies illa
Solvet sæclum in favilla
Teste Dale cum Wirtz!

Bell destituet et
Maestitia invesperascit impers.
Havlat attinet spes et
Somnia hodie.

Day of wrath and terror looming!
Heaven and earth to ash consuming,
Dale’s word and Wirtz's truth foredooming!

Bell is gone and
Sadness grows dark.
Havlat holds the hopes and
Dreams now.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Time is not your friend, it spites you

I love the Rev. Paul Bearer's lyrics.

I had been out of town for most of the past week so updating is sparse, and my life has been somewhat uneventful. Sleeping in and simply getting some miles in on the Orbea is wonderful and uneventful and welcome. I swapped my worn out tires for some Hutchison Tour de France tires in a nerdy nod to this months grand tour. Yes, yellow stripes are involved. George Hincapie had a dud time trial today and I fear as a result his hopes of a tour victory are nil. All of USA's hopes are now on Floyd Landis' capable shoulders.

I have an itch to purchase an art print for framing in a grasping attempt to class up my life. Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights has been the front runner in the back of my mind for many years, and it still is. I only wonder if it is too busy and dense to be enjoyed at the width of 4 feet. Would a smaller portion of it blown up be better (probably from the right panel)? Any ideas? What about Memling's Last judgment?

Such a short post -- maybe this coming week will bring more excitement. Maybe I'll get into a fight with a vulgarity screaming hippie -- I mean 'free thinker.' Maybe the Cubs will find themselves on a winning streak and I will write a tear soaked dirge exploring my sadness. Maybe I'll mention my bike.