What It Is: 10/25/10

What I’m reading: Finished Never Let Me Go, read Charles Burns’ X’ed Out, and began Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza.

What I’m listening to: Barking, Walking Wounded, and a new Mad Mix I’m working on.

What I’m watching: Leaves of Grass, plus some football, some baseball, and Bored To Death and Eastbound & Down.

What I’m drinking: I’m outta limes, so I went with Amy’s gluten-free alternative: Bard’s sorghum malt beer.

What Rufus & Otis are up to: Taking a nice, energetic hike on Sunday, (pix here and spex here) and getting overstuffed on treats at Rusty’s on the way home.

Where I’m going: Nowhere! Why? You got somewhere you think I should go?

What I’m happy about: The autumn sensorium is just so beautiful. You can check out the first couple of pix from the hike to get an idea of the visuals.

What I’m sad about: The Yankees getting knocked out of the playoffs. On the other hand, I’m also happy about this because it means I won’t be staying up late watching World Series games. So it’s a wash.

What I’m worried about: Eating too much candy on Halloween.

What I’m pondering: Blowing off another NBA preview. The season starts tomorrow, so I’m guessing that’s less of a ponderment and more of a certainty.

What It Is: 10/18/10

What I’m reading: I started The Odyssey, but decided to take a short break with Never Let Me Go.

What I’m listening to: Fox Confessor Brings The Flood and Sir Lucious Left Foot

What I’m watching: Bear Nation (some of my best friends are bears) and Withnail & I

What I’m drinking: Dry Fly & Q-Tonic

What Rufus & Otis are up to: Not a lot. I was sick, so no Sunday grey-hike.

Where I’m going: Nowhere in particular, but I’m hoping to get a Herriman hike in on Saturday with a pal, provided my headcold’s all gone.

What I’m happy about: Getting into NYC on Saturday to meet up with Mark F., a good pal of mine. We had a nice brunch at the Double Crown, during which the ex-girlfriend I mentioned last week dropped off the accordion I’d bought from her. After eating, Mark accompanied me to the Billy Reid store on Bond St., and then we walked up to Astoria Wine & Spirits, St. Mark’s Comics and Porto Rico Importing Co. (for a bottle of Bols Genever, Marvel’s Strange Tales II, and a pound of Kona, respectively) before the farmers’ market at Union Square and Mark’s departure back to the Bronx. We had a good, meandering conversation. Between that and the previous weekend’s catch-up with my old high school pal Jen, I’m reminded of how much I need to stay in touch with old friends.

What I’m sad about: This lousy headcold. Grr.

What I’m worried about: Well, Mark’s response to our conversation about wearing nicer clothes (a prelude to visiting the Billy Reid store, which was a blast, btw) was, “Are you belatedly becoming a metrosexual?” I told him that if I started wearing man-scara, he could disown me, but once I began lugging the old-time suitcase containing the accordion down the street, he withdrew the question. As it turns out, carrying that accessory into the store seemed to grant me some weird street cred with the staff at the BR store. It seems that “Can you check my accordion for me, please?” isn’t said often enough nowadays.

What I’m pondering: How long it’s going to take me to learn to play that accordion, considering I have no musical training. Also, what else Never Let Me Go is a mix of. So far, I’ve got Such, Such Were the Joys and Camp Concentration (which you really should read). And whether I’ll ever buy anything from Billy Reid (I was sorely tempted).

What It Is: 10/11/10

What I’m reading: Re-re-re-finished The Iliad, at last! I’ve got a bazillion questions/observations to follow up on. This is the fourth time I’ve read Homer’s poem, but the first time that I ever really felt for Achilles’ plight. In past readings, I think I focused too much on his descent into vengeful madness. Also, I considered him to be a bit of a douche. This reading, I found myself invested in his character in full, and feeling a great deal of sadness as he deteriorates into nihilistic gloom. I’m going back to The Odyssey next, where Achilles makes a sad return.

What I’m listening to: Simple Things and Fields.

What I’m watching: God’s Cartoonist, that Jack Chick documentary.

What I’m drinking: Bombay Sapphire & crappy ol’ tonic. We were traveling.

What Rufus & Otis are up to: Spending the weekend with their grey-pal Tut. He seemed pretty sad to see them go when we picked up the boys on Sunday. One of Tut’s owners e-mailed to let us know that everything was going fine; she told us that the dogs were all playing musical beds in the living room, and that Otis had cruised on upstairs immediately after entering the house. Otis has a habit of blindly zooming through any new house he enters, not exactly exploring, but trying to get to their furthest reaches ASAP. Anyway, Tut sleeps downstairs in the living room at night, so his owners thought Ru & Otis would be alright doing the same. Instead, one of the owners wound up sleeping downstairs with them, because my boys wouldn’t stop whining about being left to sleep away from people.

Where I’m going: I’ll probably head into the city this weekend for a little shopping-reconnaissance, and also to buy an accordion from an ex-girlfriend.

What I’m happy about: Getting to see a little bit of Kansas City, attending the fun wedding of one of Amy’s pals, and getting to catch up with an old high school pal I haven’t seen in around 15 years.

What I’m sad about: Not getting to see a college pal of mine in the area, whom I haven’t seen in 10 years. I tried, but she was busy during our scant window of free time.

What I’m worried about: The encroachment of The Jersey Shore. At our hotel in KC this weekend, we had to change rooms twice. The first time, it was because the room stank of cigarette smoke. Our second room was located next to The Loudest People Ever, a bunch of 20somethings who were in town to PARTY!!! We thought we could put up with it, but after the ruckus failed to abate at any time that Friday afternoon, and we could only cower in fear at the thought of what the four or five people would be like when they got back to their room drunk at 3 a.m., I decided to go back to the front desk to see if we could get a quieter room. As I waited for the elevator, the occupants of the next room joined me, heading out to PARTY!!! It was a pack of four, and I sweartagod, the two women looked like

  1. a cross between Snooki and J-WOWW, and
  2. J-WOWW without boob-implants and 70% more haggard.

I got to the front desk while they were making their standard ruckus in the lounge area, and I quietly said, “I’m in 221, and my room is next to Those People. I need you to find us a room not next to them.” The clerk’s eyes widened and she said, “I’ll get you up on the fourth floor, where it’s quiet. We’ve been getting complaints about that room for the last few hours.”

Now, the guys were standard post-frat sluggards, with beer-bellies, khaki shorts and baseball caps for non-baseball teams, but the ladies were in too-tight sheer white t-shirts, bras sticking out, and “worn” jeans that made them look like frayed sausages. I thought, “What hath Jersey Shore wrought?”

What I’m pondering: Starting a series of posts about Achilles/Odysseus/Homer under the title Man Of War. You guys interested in my ruminations on the subject, or participating in an online conversation about Homer?

What It Is: 10/4/10

What I’m reading: That Iliad. Patroklos just went down, so things are about to get out of hand.

What I’m listening to: Sir Lucious Left Foot, A Friend of a Friend, In Our Nature, and some Steve Earle.

What I’m watching: Boardwalk Empire, Bored to Death, and Eastbound & Down. That’s a pretty sweet Sunday night lineup by HBO (not that we stay up to watch ’em). Oh, and the stupidest finish of a college football game I’ve ever seen (not that I watch much college football): LSU beating Tennessee when too many Volunteers volunteered to make the goal-line stand on the last play of the game. I mean, I’ve seen teams called for 12 players on the field, but FOURTEEN PLAYERS, all lined up? We “joke” that LSU coach Les Miles may be a slow adult, but to see his idiocy get trumped by another coach? I should make a “Special Olympics Bowl” joke here, but I’m not that mean. Oh, wait . . .

What I’m drinking: Dry Fly & Q-Tonic, although I spent most of the week dry, in hopes of getting off the stress-induced cycle of drinking and/or taking a Xanax in order to get to sleep. Why I chose to do this during a heavy-duty production week, I don’t know. I should’ve waited till this week, when there’s less work stress to pervade my brain.

What Rufus & Otis are up to: Going on another long-ass hike on Sunday. On Saturday, Ru pulled his R. Kelly trick and peed on Otis’ head when they were out for their morning walk. Oh, and they played grab-ass.

Where I’m going: Kansas City for the wedding of one of Amy’s pals

What I’m happy about: Finishing my October issue (pretty much) on time.

What I’m sad about: The Ultimate Trailer Show on HDNet got cancelled. This is a serious problem, because Robert Wilonsky’s show was just about the only way I found out about good upcoming movies. If it weren’t for that show, we’d never have heard about Louis, and I’d have missed out on one of the best musical experiences of my life. So, grr. Basically, we’d just open Netflix when Wilonsky’s show was on, and plug in movie after movie. In fact, our next Netflix delivery comes from a UTS episode: The Good, The Bad and the Weird. (UPDATE: and, my wife reminds me, without UTS & Wilonsky, we’d never have discovered In the Loop, which is among my favorite comedies.)

What I’m worried about: That I’m forgetting something. I’ve been pretty stressed lately, and my memory’s been addled as a result. Friday, walking the dogs, I had some song lyrics in my head, but couldn’t recall the song they were from. It took a day or two before it came back to me: Babylon Sisters. But that made me sad because that’s also the title of a book for which my pal Sang, who died in January, designed the cover.

What I’m pondering: Achilles and fate (again). I hope to write at length about a couple of thoughts on the subject, but I need to finish the poem again first. I love how each re-read finds me focusing on a different key; last time (2007), I made a muddled attempt at figuring out the role of the gods in the action & the characters’ lives. Now that doesn’t seem like too much of an issue to me.

What It Is: 8/30/10

What I’m reading: The Iliad.

What I’m listening to: Sir Lucious Left Foot, The Singular Adventures of the Style Council, Simple Things and Blood Like Lemonade

What I’m watching: Nothing much. We watched 3 hours of Spike Lee’s new New Orleans documentary, but eh.

What I’m drinking: Luchador Tremblor shiraz. I’m out of Q-Tonic, as is one of my hook-ups.

What Rufus & Otis are up to: Sadly, getting diagnosed with mange of some kind. They’ve been scratching like crazy the last few weeks, keeping us up in the middle of the night, so I took them down to the vets’ offices to see what was what, hoping it was just allergies. They figure it’s mange (not sure what variety), so the boys are on antibiotics and Benadryl. Rufus is okay about taking capsules with yogurt or Barney Butter, but Otis is much pickier, so that’s been a bit of a trial. We kept them home from this week’s grey-hike for that reason, not wanting to risk getting the other dogs mangenated.

Where I’m going: Harlem! Amy & I are going to the Apollo tonight to see a performance of Louis. It’s a (new) silent movie, with accompaniment by Wynton Marsalis and a bunch of other jazz musicians. Just watch the trailer and you’ll understand why we’re making the hike out to 125th St. for this one-night show. (The last silent movie I saw was Silent Movie.)

What I’m happy about: Selling off my 2nd generation Kindle for enough money to upgrade to a 3rd gen model pretty cheaply. And since I’ll be reading my print edition of The Iliad (Lattimore’s translation isn’t available as an e-book), that’ll tide me over until the new model arrives. Also, we took a nice hike on Sunday (sans doggies, since I think they contracted this mange by hanging out in the brackish water of Ramapo Lake a month back), which will likely be better in autumn. Oh, and on a little pre-pick-up-Amy-at-the-train-stop shopping expedition on Friday, I was mistaken for a J.Crew employee and had my shoes complimented by young Club Monaco salesman in the span of 10 minutes. I think that’s a little more flattering than last week’s experience at the hiking store.

What I’m sad about: This mange thing makes me look like a crappy dog-father (and my dogs are itchy and irritable/ticklish).

What I’m worried about: Nothing significant. I finished our September issue on time, and my big annual conference is looking pretty good, as far as attendee count and speaker/panelist anxiety goes.

What I’m pondering: How many R-rated movies I saw before I turned 10. I saw at least three in the theater: Caddyshack, History of the World, Part I, and The Jerk. I’m pretty sure I saw Animal House and Blazing Saddles at home (decoder box) before my 10th birthday, too.

What It Is: 8/23/10

What I’m reading: After Bernard Knox’s death last week, I decided to read his introduction to Fagles’ translations of Homer. I found myself bored by them for some reason (probably because of their focus on philology), so I decided to break out my old Richmond Lattimore translation of the Iliad. I don’t think I ever read the intro before (written by Lattimore), choosing instead to dive right into the poem itself. It was illuminating, esp. his segment on how the meter of the poem informs some of the descriptions, as well as his piece on how many of the similes bring everyday life into a poem about war. I decided to dive back into the Iliad, with hopes of sticking through the Odyssey, too, and then rolling into Troilus & Cressida and some of the other Shakespeare plays I haven’t read. The problem is, it’s tough for me to stick with this stuff when I’m not being pushed nowadays. It almost makes me want to start some sorta online book club. I doubt I could put together a Homeric Reading Society of Ringwood, NJ, awesome though that concept would be. I could do what I did with that Montaigne collection, and try to write about it each week, but the Essays are (mostly) self-contained and speak about personal experience in a way that the Iliad and the Odyssey don’t. I think any attempt at writing book-by-book comments on Homer would be a waste of my time, insofar as it would have to involve real scholarship I simply don’t have the time to perform; I’d much rather have a conversation about it. Still, I’m going to reimmerse myself in the wrath of Achilles. I’ll try to let you know what comes of it. Maybe I’ll finally develop some ideas on how we’re supposed to understand the role of the gods in the play (Lattimore’s intro has some helpful comments on that, too.)

What I’m listening to: Greetings from Asbury Park, Spirit of Radio, Wake Up The Nation, and the most awesome single of the year:

What I’m watching: An Education and Whip It,. Comments to come on Tuesday. I hesitate to call them reviews. We also watched that Rush documentary again, because it was on, and because it’s wonderful to see the camaraderie within the band. And you really need to watch Louie.

What I’m drinking: G’Vine Nouaison & Q-Tonic.

What Rufus & Otis are up to: Not too much. I didn’t take them on my hikes this weekend, and we decided the Sunday grey-hike was too rainy to deal with.

Where I’m going: NYC this afternoon for a pharma-interview, but no other travels planned.

What I’m happy about: A raver-looking chick behind the register at Ramsey Outdoor told me, “Wow, you have really beautiful eyes,” when I was buying a hat to keep the sun off during hikes.

What I’m sad about: She could’ve been my daughter, if I’d started off young.

What I’m worried about: The doggies’ seeming bout of allergies, which is leading them to nibble on their forelegs and sides at weird hours. I thought they might have fleas, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Amy’s for giving them benadryl, but I’m hoping this’ll pass..

What I’m pondering: Whether I could launch that Homeric Reading Society here in town. “Ringwood Atheneum”?

What It Is: 8/16/10

What I’m reading: I finished Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up, the Scott Pilgrim comics, and The Playwright, a comic written by Daren White and drawn by Eddie Campbell. I enjoyed The Playwright a lot more than I enjoyed Campbell’s last big comic that he wrote himself, The Fate of the Artist, and it was a much more satisfying book than the ill-conceived adaptation of The Black Diamond Detective Agency. I need to go back and re-read The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard to see if I was judging that one too harshly. Anyway, I also re-read Wilson, which I enjoyed just as much as I did when I read it in May, and went back to Matt LaBash’s essay collection, Fly Fishing with Darth Vader, but that’s partly in the interest of clearing off my nightstand. I haven’t thought about what book I want to commit to next.

What I’m listening to: A random mix of singles and albums, none of which are coming to mind right now.

What I’m watching: Greenberg, Notting Hill, Matchstick Men, and District 9. I’ll try to write about them tomorrow.

What I’m drinking: Whitley Neill and Q-Tonic.

What Rufus & Otis are up to: Visiting their golden retriever cousins in Connecticut, then taking a long greyhound hike the next day up at Wawayanda state park.

Where I’m going: Nowhere! Amy managed to get Monday and Tuesday off, so I tweaked the remainder of my vacation schedule to match that, but I think we’re just gonna stay in and do some house stuff and otherwise try to take it easy.

What I’m happy about: Learning that one of my pals is the subject of a new Paris Review Writers at Work interview. And clearing out a shelf and a half of books by admitting to myself that I will never write a novel about the epistemological implications of the Enigma machine and what it means to decode something. Even though it means I have to give up on using the title Tales from the Cryptanalyst. Which I still think is awesome.

What I’m sad about: One of the people on our grey-hike learned she has throat cancer and is getting what sounds like pretty aggressive radiation treatment.

What I’m worried about: What I may find when I’m cleaning out the attic today.

What I’m pondering: How you separate the questions, “What is the meaning of life?” and “Do you believe in an afterlife?”, both of which were posed to me by another person on our grey-hike on Sunday. She’s “conducting an informal poll,” as she put it, on the former question, and it struck me that it’s difficult to talk about that without making assumptions about the latter question.