Saturday, June 25, 2005


In Which I Take The Weekend Off...

Gosh, so many directions I could steer this weekend in.

I suppose I could do some work. We just closed another issue and instead of getting to the massive backlog that has built up since my roadtrip, I spent Friday sitting around dazed, glazed, feeling that mixture of dizziness and relief that comes after racing at breakneck speed to a distant point on the horizon, the clock ticking, the pressure building, and finally you make it with seconds to spare. Like when you're on a long drive and really have to pee and there's no rest area anywhere and suddenly you see the friendly blue sign and veer into the lot and do your nervous scooting dance across the compound to the Temple of Porcelain Relief. It feels like that.

I suppose I could answer some emails, such as the one from the person who asked if I didn't feel like a "hypnocrite" for "glamnerizing" drinking in my recent absinthe post, especially in light of how alcohol has "bruised my life" (I like that phrase. Makes me feel like a fuzzy old peach with dings and brown spots on me). No doubt I could make quite a long and soulful post out of that, pouring out a great deal of emotion and sharing with you my tearful struggle vis-a-vis the nature of alcohol and my own experiences, coupled with my search for a life in balance and tying it back to the universal sojourn for truth that we all, in our own way, must undertake.

But then I thought, Well fuck that.

So instead, I'm taking the weekend to indulge in one of my worst habits: reading.

No, reading in itself is not the bad habit, it's the way I do it. I usually have about 4 or 5 books going at once (right now I have 6. Seven, counting the comic). This drives Her Lovely Self right up the wall. She's a one-book-at-a-time reader, which is fine. I just get in moods to read different things, and when I do, whatever I'm reading, however good it is, needs to be set aside until I'm ready to give it my proper, full attention. It's no reflection on the writer. In fact, if you've made it into my on-deck circle, consider it a good thing.

So, on the off-chance some of you might care, or be motivated to try one of these titles, here's what I'm reading this weekend:

foop Foop! was written by a novelist and blogger whose link you'll find over at the right. Chris Genoa is spontaneous-incontinence-level funny. For the longest time, his blog was written by the persona of an anthropomorphic Italian mite named Pepino and that lil guy never failed to bring a smile to my face. Chris is back at the blogging reins now, in part I'm sure to promote his book. And it's working: My pal C-Dog bought it for me. I'm on chapter 1 and am digging it mightily. If Ray Bradbury had written "Downwind from Gettysburg" after visiting a dentist who was a little free with the nitrous oxide, it might have turned out something like this. If you hurry, you can audition for a part in the audiobook here (I'm still working up the nerve to email in my audition).

fade10 Fade From Blue #10 is the final issue of an excellent comics series about a group of sisters on the run from...well, even that might be giving away too much. If I had a girlfriend, this is the comic I'd give her to get her to read comics. Excellent characterizations, and a story that really hinges much more on the relationships of the sisters than on any of your standard comic-book action. I especially like the sister who works as a magazine writer. You can find out more about the series (and the upcoming collected volume here.

seabiscuit Seabiscuit is just one of the many icons of pop culture's past that has always fascinated me. I minored in U.S. history in college and was particularly fascinated with the Colonial era and the Depression years. Seabiscuit was obviously a big part of the latter. I don't really have an opinion about the movie, but Laura Hillenbrand is one hell of a versatile writer. She makes history very engaging, especially when she throws in anecdotes about giant piles of horse manure wiping out entire towns (and we all know what a sucker I am for those kinds of anecdotes).

Marley William Morrow sent me an advance copy (ah, the perks of this job) of Marley & Me, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist John Grogan's memoir of and valentine to his dog. Plenty of male writers have had dogs in their lives and felt compelled to write about it, not always to best effect. But this is one of the better efforts. Grogan's a pretty goddamn good writer.

sedaris David Sedaris sure as hell doesn't need any help from me plugging any of his books so I'll just say this about Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim: It's an enormous comfort to read someone else's work and realize there are families that are so much more fucked up than your own, and yet at least one of the members of that family can find the humor in it. Gives me faith in humanity, it does. Or at least in the fact that I, too, might one day cash in on my dysfunctional relations.

buried Where Are They Buried? was a birthday present from my brother, who remembers well my love for trivia books (or else the book is a sinister hint of some kind). When we went on road trips, I would spend hours devouring trivia tomes and spouting the most inane bullshit. Little has changed since childhood, I'm afraid. What's great about this book is that it not only tells you how assorted famous folks died, but also where to find their bodies, if you're so inclined. That's service journalism, man!

mirrormask With the exception of his very earliest works of nonfiction (such as his Duran Duran bio), I've read everything Neil Gaiman has written. As good as his novels are, I think he's at his best when he collaborates with artist Dave McKean. As a graphic novel, for example, Mr. Punch is probably up there in the top three. And their children's books, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, and The Wolves in the Walls are second only to Jules Feiffer's books in my son's list of favorites. Now they've done a movie together, with McKean directing and Gaiman writing. Much as I wanted to wait and see it, I broke down and got the Mirrormask script book, which is absolutely fascinating, first as a story, and second as a peek behind the curtain. Or maybe I mean that the other way around. And it'll satisfy my Gaiman fix until Anansi Boys hits stores in the fall, so there's that.

And no, I don't get any kickbacks from any of the writers whose works I've just mentioned here. But if they should happen to stumble upon my humble reviews and feel the urge to reward my unsolicited endorsements with signed books or free comics, let the record show that I stand ready to accept them.

So, I'm off to read. Hope you likewise have fun plans for the weekend.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

Hey Sugar -

I noticed that you put a link up to my LJ (blog). While it is much appreciated, you might want to consider taking it down. While I do tell a lot of Mike stories and am trying to stretch my wings by writing personal essays, I also write slash, which in all likelihood would offend a lot of your readers.

Me again -

Just a little clarification, I have your link on my page because reading your blog is the highlight of my day. While I don't comment often, I do check your blog every day. I would like to take this opportuity to tell you how much I enjoy your writing style. It's very engaging.

Hey there,

I included your link not out of some obligation to reciprocate but because yours is one of the blogs I like to check regularly and the list at right makes it easier for me to find stuff.

I'm not too worried about offending folks (have you read my post about airborne fecal matter?)

But sincerely, if the link makes you uncomfortable, I'll take it down.
Well I LIKE your recommendations (both on your links and these books). Nice range of stuff (esp. that graveyard book. Somebody has good taste)

Besides It's all WAY more interesting than you are, MM.

Your BRother
It's good to hear I'm not the only person who reads more than one book at a time. Currently sitting on my nightstand is the complete collection of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (first time reading it), Valley of the Horses (3rd time reading it), Return of the Native, and Legend Born. The first 3 are what I read when I'm between sci-fi/fantasy books. Enjoy your weekend, there is nothing like a good book, or 6.
I kinda have the same problem.
But the books I read tend to be everywhere I go ...

hey they grew legs, I don't know how it got into the kitchen cabinet.
As to the e-mail troll calling you a hypocrite, fuck 'em. You owe no explanation.

I read in spurts. I'll go with nothing for a while and then for a few months I do nothing but read. Hmmm - I think it's time to get my nose back in a book, thanks for the suggestions. I need some mind candy.
"Chris Genoa is spontaneous-incontinence-level funny."

That made my day.
I picked that same habit up from my father --- drives my mother mental!!!! (an added bonus)

random Seabiscuit fact: Seabiscuit's owner (played, I think, by Jeff Bridges in the film, though I have not seen it)was my grandfather's uncle
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