Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Being surprised by what Bo knows

It didn't take long for "Girls" to capture the love I'd previously bet on "Luck". They're entirely different shows, and the confused exuberance of "Girls" has the legs for the long run that "Luck" probably never would have mustered. Even if the racehorse controversies hadn't befallen the latter. I don't think I'm alone in keeping an eye out for more of the story on the takedown of "Luck" - some tragic horse deaths led to protests and, eventually, to questionable claims of credit for shutting the show down. In what I thought was one of those related stories, Saturday's NYTimes had an interesting Q and A with none other than Bo Derek. I'd previously read about Derek's animal advocacy. Some of it was pretty flaky. Yet what I saw here impressed the hell out of me. Her thoughtful, pragmatic responses about racing oversight (she serves on the California Horse Racing Board) get buried a bit. Mainly because lots of people are focused on a portrait she shot for this month's "Vanity Fair" of Chantal Sutherland. Derek shot Sutherland as a very racy Lady Godiva. That might be enough to merit a mention. But the accompanying text for "VF" that Bo wrote is good. Really good. So much so that I forgot all about the "Luck" pivot point that got me into this. Check out Bo's work - behind the camera, not in front of it. It caused me to check my snarkiness without uttering even one mention of her movie career. Well...maybe just one..."Bolero"

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bookin' and pickin', the way a good "blogger" should.

The act of joining a crowd of thousands at the tail end of a pilgrimage seldom produces an obvious path to enlightenment. But that's exactly what I'm doing in early June when I dive into the receding tide of this year's Book Expo America (BEA - named in honor of Bea Arthur...at least that's what I'm telling people). So even though I've been advised it can be an endless swarm of people with no particular utility, I'm all in. Woo. Hoo. I also mention it here to bolster my registration as an official "book blogger" - a job I've taken very seriously (wink, wink) for a very long time. To prove my bona fides, I'll even add in a few recent thoughts as a consumer of bookish products. Or is it book-y? Hard to decide - such is the richness of language-ing.

1. As someone who spends what most people consider a sick amount of time out running, I've graduated from podcasts to audio books. Less annoyance, more substance. At least that's occasionally so. Case in point - Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve is a deep pool of awesome road fodder. I'm about a long run and a cool down away from a full review. Greenblatt's book deservedly won last year's Pulitzer and National Book Award for non-fiction. Plus he's repped by my literary agency. All very good things. In whatever form, The Swerve moves along smartly and with real purpose.
2. The novel I desperately need to find a few hours to sit down and finish (in old-timey, dead-tree form) is Kevin Barry's City of Bohane. Irvine Welsh (who will never do anything better than Trainspotting, nor does he need to) gave him a front cover blurb - that and Pete Hamill's review in the NYTimes Book Review caught my eye. But once I dipped into it myself, Barry's melodic, mashed-up, bleak-future Irish brogue got all up inside my brain and turned things a wee bit off kilter. In a good way. Bohane dances a fast and brutal jig, while Barry writes like a house and barn and the surrounding grassy hills on fire. I give this book huge conversational props. It may even be great. I'll let you know when I'm through.

I could go on. Us "book bloggers" so often do. Maybe later.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Not even a MILF or a scissors-wielding Mitt tops the snap on this lid.

Just sticking my head through the blogversational door for a few brief comments before heading back down to the salt mines. I'm surely not alone in seeing loads of stories worth earnestly discussing. Even with the current distracting titillation offered by stories on prep school bullying and being way too attached to certain parents. Amidst all that you've probably missed that the U.S. Postal Service threw a bone to rural America by deciding to keep a ton of small offices open a few hours a day for at least a few years. The deal likely will come to stink. But at least huge swaths of America can still make the trip into town to pick up and/or mail their manifestos. In even easier to miss news, the Labor Department has backed away from the overstated tempest in a teapot some feared might prevent farm families from hiring their own bairns. Or is it utes? Depends on the holler from which you hail, I reckon. As of now, this just means lots less job searching for farm kids throughout small town America. I can feel the collective disappointment for a subset of America's youth who lament never getting their shot at bagging your groceries. Takes one to know one, if you catch my drift. Finally, a totally missed case with an engrossing narrative effectively came to an end in Iowa yesterday when a last jailed defendant was paroled from prison. To mark that fact, not a single news story was filed, even though the parolee made the front page of the "Washington Post" two months ago. I'd link you somewhere worth going, but this case turned into Gertrude Stein's Oakland, if you know what I mean. Rest assured, I won't keep you hanging forever on that note.

In non-newsy news for a totally different reason (since I've not yet mentioned it), I'm about waist-deep into planning my next roadtrip. And it's a humdinger. This time I'm looking at two weeks and change spent traveling through densely-populated - and way in the middle of nothing - parts of Canada and the northeastern urban corridor of these United States. Mix in a little rural New York State and you've got me on the road from just after Memorial Day through mid-June. By then I plan to have some new tools up and running for everyone to keep tabs on the work in progress. Maybe more definite show to go with the rarely clear tell. However it's construed, check back. Please. And, thank y'all for doing so.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Science update - peas feeling pain, ferrets don't like treadmills.

The NYTimes' "Sunday Review" has always offered a weekly cocktail party primer for time-strapped folks looking to veer in unexpected directions. Very much along those lines this week was the article "If Peas Can Talk, Should We Eat Them?" Where else can you get a "neurobotany" poke in the ol' brainpan? As a result, I've got my next opener for a back-and-forth with chatty vegans. You might also find it fascinating, if you've ever wondered if vegetables might lean toward being a less-than-willing part of our food chain.

I also noticed some popular press repackaging of a scientific paper I never would have expected. Both the NYTimes (in Gretchen Reynolds' "Phys Ed" column in yesterday's "Science Times") and "The Economist" got all clever with a study focused upon running and the evolving human taste for "endocannabinoids" (science speak for that runner's buzz, oddly akin to what you'd get from toking up). Aside from the obvious switch flipped by the running angle ("Hi, my name is Eric, and I'm an addict..."), the choice of research animals for that study caught my eye. Ferrets. They put goshdarn ferrets on a treadmill - unsuccessfully, believe it or not. Aside from the mind's eye comic payoff, it was one of the few recent examples I've seen of weasels being used in research. Both takes are very much worth a looksie, especially if you get out there running and often wonder why.