Choice picks from the blogosphere

Thank you, thank you, thank you all for making such wonderful suggestions! After work today I'm stopping at the Barnes and Noble in Georgetown to pick up some of these reads.

Readers' Recommendations
J. G. Ballard, Super Cannes
John Barnes, Finity
John Barnes, One for the Morning Glory
Sylvia Browne
Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America
Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country
Bill Bryson, The Mother Tongue
William S. Burroughs
Raymond Carver, Where I'm Calling From
Jennifer Crusie, Fast Women
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Jonathan Edwards
William Gibson
Glen David Gold, Carter Beats the Devil
Shirley Hazzard, The Great Fire
Shirley Hazzard, The Transit of Venus
Bill Holm, The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere on Earth: Minneota, Minnesota.
Anne Lamott
C.S. Lewis
Ian McEwan, Atonement
Kent Meyers, The River Warren
James Morrow, Only Begotten Daughter
James Morrow, Towing Jehovah
Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography
Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
Daniel Quinn, Ishmael
Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow
Carl Sagan, Demon haunted world: Science as a candle in the dark
Leonard Schlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess
David Sedaris, Holidays on Ice
David Sedaris, Talk Pretty One Day
Simon Singh, The Code Book
Rex Stout, The Doorbell Rang
Mark Twain, The Bible According to Mark Twain
Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
Sarah Vowell
Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog
Alex Witchel, Me Times Three

The problem with boredom

I've been bored all week. My posts reflect that.... you know, that general feeling of ennui and lethargy.

There's no cause... no specific event that turned on the sluggishness.

In fact, I've been working out, spent a relatively active week meeting new people and have been busy with work. But there isn't anything I want to capture, nothing special to be recorded, no presumption that needs testing.

I promise I'll do better next week. I'll try a little harder and write something worth reading. Or else, what's the point?


Each day, I visit my email inboxes and delete, on average, between 150 - 500 emails a day. A DAY! It's such a waste of time.

Why does spam exist? Don't these marketing geniuses realize that most people, 99% it seems, DON'T read their messages.

Who has a solution that will eliminate spam forever?

Below is a random sample of the goodies that populate my emailbox.

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Wackos who populate the planet

The Raelians claim to discover the secret to eternal youth.

Raelians? you might ask.

You know, the wackos that announced to the world they had cloned a few human babies, only to refuse independent physicians to examine the pregnant women or the "cloned humans."

I guess on the bright side, CNN has stopped reporting on this controversial cult's discoveries. For a full report, go visit This is London.

Here's a question for you - would you want eternal youth?

The unconscious
  1. Leapfrog::plastic children's pool
  2. Co-workers::camraderie and support
  3. Mustang::1967 Shelby GT 500
  4. Wafer::Vanilla Wafers
  5. Nicotine::Marlboro Ultra Lights in a box
  6. Fast food::McDonald's happy meal toys
  7. Suffocate:: gagging on a plastic bag
  8. Myth::Avalon
  9. Lane::Underwood - my first home
  10. Unexpected::a surprise party

How do these associations pop to mind? How do words and phrases have power to trigger a snapshot, a snippet of memory, a distinct flavor or aroma?


What's better than....

Pictures of You by The Cure?

Do you believe in magic?

I grew up watching televised specials of Doug Henning's magic tricks. Mom would make jiffy pop and we'd settle around the tv and see *magic*.

Then came the brooding, dark haired David Copperfield. I was distraught when he made the Statue of Liberty disappear, thinking I'd missed my big chance to visit the famous landmark. I gasped when he tackled the Boeing 747 - one second it was there, the next second *poof*. Gone.

Now here's David Blaine and I just don't get it. He's been buried alive, encased in ice, then stood on a platform in Central Park. How is this magic?

Oh, but he does levitate.

Blaine's last stunt, hanging out in a suspended glass box for 44 days in London, didn't go over so well with those Brits. Now doctors are using his case to study the effects of malnutrition and starvation .

Professor Jeremy Powell-Tuck of the London Independent Hospital says, "Blaine said that the trick was in there being no trick. I was cynical but when I saw the phosphate drop, I was pretty convinced. I don't think any illusionist can fake that."

Is that stunt really considered *MAGIC*? I think magic, I think of a disappearing act, a miraculous escape, objects flying through the air unaided by string or other visible devices.

What is magic to you?


Some days I can be such a bitch

Everyone of my friends and family know I write. They know in addition to writing, I edit. So, there are days when I'll open my inbox to find a research paper written by my 17-year-old cousin that needs proofreading. Or a mid-term report from my dad that needs to be edited down and reformatted. Or a story that needs to be fleshed out before the "real writing" begins.

One thing I hate, truly despise, is getting a message that reads "Tell me what you think" with an attachment that is not only incomprehensive, but runs rampant with factual error. The unspoken assumption is that I'll rewrite it... because I care about the person.


A few emails shoot back and forth. Instead of responding in a calm and mature manner, I completely lose my head and write back that not only is the paper a piece of trash, but the individual is stupid. STUPID! A fourth grader could do a better job.

I don't offer much in constructive criticism - preferring to cover the word document in bold red marks, slashing out words and paragraphs, before sending it back with the message, "Don't waste my time."

And now I feel awful - although I don't understand why the person lied to me, saying the attachment was a 3rd draft (when it so obviously was thrown together without making any sense).

I could have handled things better. I might have taken the high road. I should have stopped at the fourth email reply.

I know my friend thinks I completely overreacted... that I was way out of line for making it personal by throwing insults. I did apologize for the "Stupid" remark - but it doesn't help that I know I never should have made that comment in the first place.

(insert intense frustration here)

Tell me something came up. Tell me you didn't understand the assignment. Tell me a study buddy didn't do their share of the work. Tell me anything but "that's the best I can do."

Because that's an insult to you and me.


Who puts these lists together?

The staff at Men's Journal compiled a list of the 50 Best Guy Movies of All Time.

In the top 10 are (borrowed from the Men's Journal site):

Clint Eastwood shoots first and asks questions later, creating the most politically incorrect hero in movie history. With his ever ready .44 magnum, Clint brings unreconstructed frontier justice to criminal-coddling San Francisco, becoming a role model for law-and-order conservatives everywhere. Ronald Reagan even took his best line ("Make my day") from Sudden Impact, a later Dirty Harry film. Best Line "You have to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

"What is it with men and The Godfather?" wonders chick-flick princess Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail. Tom Hanks responds for us all: "It is the I Ching. It is the sum of all wisdom." Francis Ford Coppola's mob opera is the modern guy's indispensable guide to surviving with honor in a dog-eat-dog world. Key Scene How can anyone choose? The horse head in the bed? Sonny's murder? Michael shooting the cop in the restaurant? We know every one backward and forward. Best Line "Don't ever take sides with anybody against the family again." "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse." "Leave the gun; take the cannolis." There are millions of them.

An unapologetic assault on everything decent and honorable -- and that's why we love it. Al Pacino's Tony Montana makes his Michael Corleone look and sound like Mr. Rogers. Nothing beats the film's coke-fueled mobster wisdom. Lines like "First you gotta make the money... then you get the power, then you get the woman" set the tone for a whole generation of gangsta rappers. Key Scene One word: chainsaw. Best Line "Say hello to my leetle friend."

4 DIE HARD 1988
Forget all the great action scenes this film has -- the best moments are when underdog Bruce Willis kicks the snobby Eurotrash villains' asses without ever losing his all-American sense of humor. The scene where the German villain gets his comeuppance for trying to use the word "cowboy" as an insult resonates more today, though it'd be even better if the guy were French. Key Scene Bruce crashes through the window hanging from the firehose. Best Line "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker!"

Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally offered the human lead, but he realized that a killer robot from the future was the role he was really born to play. "There is a little bit of the Terminator in everybody," director James Cameron observed. "He operates completely outside all the built-in social constraints." Key Scene Any qualms about rooting for a malevolent robot vanish when he vaporizes a tacky L.A. dance club. Best Line "I'll be back."

Along the endless highways of the Australian outback the loner hero of western and samurai fame gets a futuristic face-lift from Mel Gibson's leather-clad Mad Max. The film has it all: punk-rock marauders, a razor-edged boomerang, postnuclear angst, and high-speed demolition-derby car battles, plus just the right amount of mythic uplift to put it over the top. Key Scene When Wez, the deranged Mohawk man, erupts over the hood of Max's truck, it's a "boo" shot for the ages. Best Line "You want to get out of here, you talk to me."

Forget Catch 22: World War II gets its true sixties makeover when Lee Marvin trains a bunch of prison rats and turns them into a squad of stone-cold killers tough enough to make Americans, whether redneck or hippie, proud as hell. The cast is a macho who's who: Jim Brown, Charles Bronson, Ernest Borgnine... Telly Savalas! A true believer is anyone who's seen it a dozen times. Key Scene Jim Brown's heroic death sprint, a feat of open-field running -- while tossing hand grenades -- that beats anything he ever did with the Cleveland Browns. Best Line "You've got one religious maniac, one malignant dwarf, two near-idiots, and the rest I don't even wanna think about!"

This cyberpunk epic signaled a new kind of male hero, the tough-guy computer geek, and Keanu Reeves makes a most excellent digital superdude. By setting the nonstop action in cyberspace the Wachowski brothers are able to supercharge all the fights with gravity-defying wire fu and some amazing breakthrough CGI. Key Scene Neo's airborne subway station showdown with the heinous Agent Smith. Best Line "There is no spoon."

Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and an animatronic gopher named Chuck E. Rodent make mincemeat of your old man's snooty pastime. It took 20 years and the arrival of Tiger Woods to make the game seem cool again. Key Scene Rodney in excelsis at a high-tone country club soiree bellowing "No offense!" to the horrified diners. Best Line "Hey, everybody, we're all gonna get laid!"

10 ROCKY 1976
A blue-collar anthem for the ages, as lunkhead from the neighborhood makes good because he can absorb a surreal amount of punishment. The sequels fudged the fable with too many sappy clichŽs, but the original lays it on the line. Working guys embraced Sylvester Stallone as a punch-drunk Great White Hope, often bloodied but still unbowed. Key Scene Sly on the steps of Philly's Museum of Art, doing his bouncy victory dance. Best Line "All I wanna do is go the distance."

What else do you predict will appear on the Top 50 List? Is there a film that SHOULD have made the Top Ten and didn't?

For the complete list of movies, you'll have to pick up the December 2003 issue on newsstands.

Reading recommendations

There are 8 bookcases in my apartment, overflowing with books. I've read most of them.

There's a tottering stack of unread novels and biographies beside my bed. Ahab's Wife, Moby Dick, Girl With A Pearl Earring, The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton, Natural-Born Cyborgs, The Trust, America's First Multimillionaire, The Red Dancer, ..... Last night I wasn't in the mood to read any of them.

I'm looking for some fresh story ideas. What are some of your favorite books? Have you read something that stayed with you for a long time? What was it? What authors do you cherish?

I desperately need reading suggestions!


Random argument on a Monday morning

So... I'm drinking my coffee, reading the news, sifting through emails, and half listening to a pal of mine when I catch the words, "the potato famine was one of the most important events in history."

To prove a point, I was wondering how many of you could tell me (without Googling it):
1) When the potato famine occurred?
2) What WAS the potato famine?
3) Whether or not you believe it was one of the top 25 events in all of history.

How is this not a gender issue?

Angela Anthony and Iesha Miller have been best friends since they "were knee high and do everything together." Everything, including ruling over the Homecoming Court as King and Queen of Hayward High.

Isn't the whole point of the "court" to recognize an outstanding female and male? Why are people compelled to make political statements out of EVERYTHING? How did tradition become such an ugly concept?

Isn't the whole point of the exercise to honor a female (the Queen) and a male (the King)?

KING: noun. Son of noble kin; a male ruler of a nation or state usually called a kingdom; a man who is supreme or highly successful in some field; a male supreme in his class.

A disservice was made to the boys of Hayward High School. They were beaten by popularity.

The administrators of that school aren't doing Angela Anthony any favors. In real life, exceptions to the rule are rarely made.

Perhaps one of the biggest problems with American youth is that they expect to have everything handed to them in life. And when they don't get it, they throw violent tantrums and break down.