Category Archives: Literature

What I’m reading

The Blue Collar Bass Player.

This post is mainly aimed at my bass playing friends but also other types of musicians might enjoy it. I just got through reading the latest revision of Ted Gould‘s book and felt compelled to share this review.

With his new book (iTunes link), Ted skillfully bridges the gap between the living room and the global stage. In between these two extremes is where most working bassists live and learn — often the hard way — the important lessons of making a good impression, doing homework, getting and keeping gigs, and much more.

Unlike a lot of professional or self-help books, this one isn’t “fluffed up” with vague, useless concepts that up the page count but waste your time. Instead, Ted packs it with value, pulling zero punches with dead-on advice to help bassists avoid common pitfalls and bring their best to their job as musicians. Whether you’re trying to get from basement to bar, from local venues to regional or beyond, or simply expand your work to other types of gigs, “The Blue Collar Bass Player” is the book for you.

No joke, this book is packed with practical, awesome information. Definitely worth a read if you want to up your game!

In slumber, the sound of distant crowing.

There are a lot of heartbreaks you set yourself up for as a parent. Perhaps you have a while before you need to deal with some of them — the first date, going off to college and moving out, the eventual wedding — but no dagger strikes so deep yet as the odd and unforeseeable moments when you look at your young one, and realize they will never again be as young as they are right now, and comprehend the two or the ten or the twenty-nine months you’ve lost forever since the last time your heart broke when you realized this.

And if you happen to be mercifully oblivious in your distance from that place on some particular evening, there is nothing that snaps you, like an elastic band, back into that wistful reverie faster than coming in your nightly story time to the last chapter of Peter Pan, wherein the eternally young and impish boy returns after many years to the home of one Wendy Moira Angela Darling, now grown up and with a daughter of her own:

Continue reading In slumber, the sound of distant crowing.

More than a footnote.

My wife alerted me last night to a terrible loss to the literary world — writer David Foster Wallace was found dead Friday night of an apparent suicide. DFW was already at 46 a giant of American literature and, even though he tended to the self-absorbed, his writing was passionate and magnetic. I always found his love of the footnote charming and amusing, even when it was distracting. I’m sad to think of all the wonderful books we’ll never see now.

Sometimes you can go back.

I was surprised and overjoyed to find out that one of my favorite novelists, Nelson DeMille, is returning to catch his readers up on the cast of one of his best books, The Gold Coast. The end of October will see the publication of The Gate House, and I’m already itching to read it.

DeMille hinted last year about retirement, but apparently either exaggerated or reconsidered. In either case I’m happy because his books are some of the most enjoyable page-turners I’ve ever read. Less hardware porn than Clancy, more believable than Cussler, and more Hemingway-esque than Ludlum or Follett; and always these books are driven by interesting characters, narrative, and dialogue that easily shifts from funny to touching without violating reason.

If you haven’t checked them out, try The Gold Coast (sort of The Godfather meets The Great Gatsby, or The Talbot Odyssey (great spy thriller). Anything DeMille writes is guaranteed enjoyable summer reading, at worst — at his best he elevates the thriller to elegant social satire.

Jeffty is five.

Cinematical reviews a portrait of one of the only writers to come out of the science fiction genre who will matter in a hundred years — Harlan Ellison, in a biopic called Dreams With Sharp Teeth. Go HE!

I met Harlan once at a book-signing and, determined not to raise his legendary ire with any controversial comments, I simply told him, absolutely truthfully, “You’ve made me laugh and cry more than any other writer whose work I’ve read.” For a moment he was actually taken aback, but graciously and somewhat sotto voce he said, “That’s one of the nicest compliments anyone’s ever paid me.”

The impish Harlan did eventually reclaim control of the host body, but in the meantime it was nice to give back a little of the joy I’d had from reading his work. I challenge you to read “The Deathbird” without a sniffle, or “The 3 Most Important Things in Life” without a snicker. By the way, he shares a birthday with my wife, so a belated happy 74th to ya, Harlan.

Evie’s story corner, No. 1.

EDITOR’S NOTE: No spelling, punctuation, or other content changes have been made from the author’s original work.

The Hero, by Evelyn (age 7)

Once upon a time, when Nature was wild beyond rights, there was a young man who took a dare to go into the woods alone for 30 days. Yes, it was a terrible dare to take in those days, but he took it, never knowing what dangers and adventures he would face. So when the day came for departure, he went into the woods with a smile on his face. The people were far too busy worrying to notice his waving hand dissapear into the woods. Yes, he stayed there for the 30 days, he encountered many dangers, like the abyss, the vultures, and the crocodile. And there were his adventures. There was the shark adventure, the turtle adventure, and the ghost adventure. At the end of the 30 days, he was famous. He was known worldwide. Known as “The Most Famous Man In The World,” people came from far and wide just to hear the story. And he told the story to everyone.

THE END.

Real life continues unabated.

This weekend was as good a time as any to take a step back from work for a bit, so I might as well wrap up some non-Fedora things I’ve been doing lately — less accomplishments than enjoyments, really.

I got some reading done for pleasure, including one of Alan Moore’s latest latest works. Eleya and I also sadly bade farewell to our favorite regular comic that came to a glorious and touching end this past month, Y: The Last Man. Apparently some group of Hollywood-based mental midgets is trying to make this into a film; let’s all hope no one at that particular meeting is high enough to actually greenlight it. Need I mention LXG? I didn’t think so.

I also saw a couple of good movies with family members — Enchanted with my daughter, an irresistibly sweet movie about making your own happy ending, and (violent mood swing!) In the Valley of Elah with my wife, a moving and bitter elegy about the cost of war that, stacked up with No Country for Old Men, probably had Daniel Day-Lewis wondering if he should bother writing notes for an Oscar acceptance speech in the face of these towering performances from Tommy Lee Jones.

Evie turned seven on Thursday, and among other gifts we got our little shutterbug a 7MP camera of her very own. That’s turned out to be a mixed blessing, as she is always sneaking up to take pictures when one is not looking one’s best, such as on Easter weekend, lazing on the couch with a three-day growth of whiskers reading all sorts of mind-rotting comic books. But this is the pain one must suffer when trying to raise the next P. T. Anderson.

We also showed the house once this weekend — disappointed it wasn’t more — and, to allow for future showings without the carpets sporting tufts of dog hair the size of guinea pigs, got the dog an appointment at the groomer down the street. We had a nice family stroll to pick her up on Friday, with delightful springlike weather that it seems is going to return for most of next week. That should make it easy for me to start taking some lunchtime walks of my own, to get away from the computer for long enough to burn a few calories.

Time to sign off; Eleya and I are going to suck the marrow from the last of the weekend’s bones by watching Rendition, a heartwarming tale about — oh, wait, that’s not it at all. Nope, more high drama, tears, and deep social meaning, and nary an explosion to be seen, I’m betting. TTFN.

Random assortment.

Sorry I don’t have time to look up links. Google is your friend; use it. 🙂

Fedora.

Got a release notes package put together, only to find out that I broke something stupid that I had originally done right and then subsequently “fixed,” in the way that you might fix a car by, say, hitting it hard with a sledgehammer. Thankfully Bill Nottingham pulled my posterior out of that particular conflagration. Now I need to handle some of the F8 IG draft bugs coming in.

Potatoism.

I’ve watched all this week’s episodes of Ken Burns’ latest doc, “The War,” and it’s not bad in terms of dramatic heft. Unfortunately it’s about a mile wide and six inches deep; I think any documentary trying to tell this particular story in only 14 hours is, by definition, doomed to that kind of coverage. Now I have a respite until the concluding episodes starting Sunday night.

Books.

I’ve done precious little reading this whole summer, although I did finally finish Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake” last month. (I usually only get around to reading for 20-30 minutes at bedtime, putting the book aside when I start to nod off.) Right now I’m reading the first volume trade paperback collection of Alan Moore’s “Supreme,” which is an interesting homage to the history of superhero comics in his customary sly, nudge-nudge fashion. Eleya just finished Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go,” which I’d like to get to as soon as I finish “Supreme.” And if I get too uppity, the third volume of Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle is still giving me the finger from the reading room bookshelf, cheeky bastard.