Archive for September, 2009

#32 Rich Tradition by Tom Leach

September 28, 2009

I picked this book up at Kroger, which is something of an oddity for me. Leach, the play-by-play voice of the Wildcats, chronicles the uptick in the fortunes of UK football, as led by Rich Brooks. The book was an interesting review of the last six years (wow, this really is his 7th year) of the life and (usually) hard times of UK football. While Brooks seems destined like Moses to not journey to the promised land of football greatness, he has done a fair job of setting the table for those to follow.

Extra props to Leach for a game-by-game review of all six seasons, including the first three, which I generally spent trying to forget that there was UK football, much less that I cared about it. The book is enjoyable, if a bit expensive for a paperback.

Joe

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7 1/2 weeks of parenting

September 28, 2009

Last week, my daughter slept through the night. She’s really and truly done this once, but we’ve had two more 11 PM to 6 AM sleepings, so she’s certainly doing well in that department. She’s also soiled herself mercilessly and cried a lot. She is showing signs of her own personality. Lots of smiling, starting to stick her tongue out if you put yours out at her, making very occasional happy baby noises, and starting to exert the sort of stubbornness that I don’t see how she can avoid, if biology or environment have any effect on us.

My insights are still limited to the fact that parenting is very difficult and very rewarding. Now that she’s starting to get interested in things, we’ve got to be a little more interactive. While she still likes “Radio Nowhere” a lot, I think it’s falling behind “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in the grand scale of things. Which is fine. I don’t want to end up with a pop culture junkie… just a happy little girl.

Back to work comes soon for Julie, so the time at home for her is winding down. Working with a kid, without usurping the mother’s role here because I certainly can’t speak for that, is a strange mixture of freedom and fret. It IS nice to get away from screaming and dirty diapers for a few hours. It’s bad to know that somewhere out there, your child is growing up, and you’ll get to see some more of it when the pile of papers on your desk disappears.

That said, as adults, we are destined to live our own lives, and our children are destined to live theirs. Maybe the shift comes at 9 1/2 weeks, when Mom goes back to work, or at five when little girl goes to school, or at 18 when “adult” girl goes to college. Whenever it is, it is a bittersweet time, as the world starts to interject itself and make us not the only important part of our daughter’s life. But I’m not that stressed about it. There are a million bonds already that will keep us an important part of her life. Hopefully, she’s as happy about that as I am.

Joe

I join the 21st century

September 28, 2009

As a birthday gift, I got a shiny, pretty ipod classic, in all its 160 GB glory. It was advertised as holding 40,000 songs. Who has 40,000 songs, you may wonder. I think I do. Actually, I’m sure I do if you count all my bootlegs, with 973 versions of Bob Dylan singing “All Along the Watchtower”. I’m curious to see if I have 40,000 songs that are actually listenable.

Unfortunately, I’m still stuck in the 20th century on my PC, so while I have a 160 GB Ipod, I have 35 GB of hard drive space to use with it. So far, complete Dylan, Beatles and Springsteen have amounted to about 11.5 GB. For my remaining 23.5 GB, I’m thinking Jayhawks, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Ray Charles, Buddy Miller, Tift Merritt, a bunch of jazz/blues/old country/rockabilly stuff on the Proper label, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

Whenever I buy a new PC, with a big spacious hard drive, then it truly is on. We’ll see how many times even I can listen to “All Along the Watchtower”.

Joe

#31- Meat Market by Bruce Feldman

September 23, 2009

Not a chronicle of slaughterhouses or pornography, this book is about college football recruiting.

Feldman spent a year following Ed Orgeron, then coach of the Ole Miss Rebels, through the gamut of recruiting experiences. We go from Orgeron challenging his players to a fight, to him watching illegal rooster fights, to him recruiting some of the guys who have made Ole Miss a great team over the last two years. Of course, Orgeron didn’t survive to see that happen. Not literally. He’s alive, he’s just a defensive line coach at Tennessee. When his players didn’t deliver overnight, Coach O got canned. Probably best for everybody, as he certainly was not a master strategist or tactitian. That said, Orgeron is/was a tireless recruiter, and a guy who seems to love the thrill of the hunt as much as the victory of the catch.

This was a very interesting book. It chronicled the insane inner working of a college football program, the immaturity of young athletes, and the pressure cooker of SEC football. It told all about a Cajun wildman and his quest for glory, and the bedraggled assistant coaches, who sounded about as confused as I am on a normal day in my work. I liked it, and would recommend this one. It’s a quick read and is rather educational.

Joe

#30- The Crowd Sounds Happy by Nicholas Dawidoff

September 23, 2009

This book was a memoir about a boy growing up with an insane father and a love of baseball. Frankly, it sounded like a great book. I was excited to read it. The early chapters were poignant and impressive.

And it all fell apart. Sorry about the old man, Nick, but seriously, you were one whiny kid. Maybe my perspective was ruined by the birth of my daughter just before I started the book, but I came away mostly feeling sorry for Dawidoff’s Mom. She kept his less than financially prosperous family taken care of, and appears only to have been rewarded with a pissy attitude and a recitation of her foibles. Seriously, if Dawidoff had griped one more time about (more or less) not having designer clothes in season, I’d have sold back the book, invested in plane fare, gone and smacked him in his overly-sensitive head.

I haven’t learned much in life, but here are two things I’m sure of: 1) Parenting is hard work, 2) Growing up is hard work. Cut the ‘rents some slack. They’re not perfect, you’re not perfect, I’m not perfect. At some point, life is less about the crappy hand that we’re dealt than it is what we can do with it. Dawidoff’s Dad was crazy. His Mom was overworked. I understand his attitude toward the first, but cut the Mom a break. I would.

Joe

Book #29- Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs

September 10, 2009

This is the first A.B. book I’ve read (after birth). Fortunately, Chuck Klosterman is basically an irrepressable smart ass who writes about pop culture in a funny, entertaining way. The book is a collection of essays. Some get a little ponderous (like his essay on Vanilla Sky), some are more than a little absurd (Saved by the Bell), and some are so dead on that you can’t help but agree (country music).

Klosterman is probably not for everybody. That said, if you’re between 25-40, have a strong interest in the pop culture of the ’70s and ’80s, and/or have strong opinions about things, you’d probably dig it. I think there’s something in here to offend the sensibilities of everybody, but also something that we can all remember and agree with. Plus, it does have a fun title.

Joe

An update from the land of parenting

September 10, 2009

So, I haven’t posted so much. Having a newborn baby and going back to work have taken up lots of time. We also just traded vehicles, callously abandoning Julie’s old Civic despite its 130 or so thousand miles of efficiency. Somewhat bizarrely, the new vehicle has a cassette deck. Yes, it’s a 2006, and I know I hadn’t bought a tape for many years before that. But oh well… I’ll be breaking my Hammer cassettes back out soon.

I have realized that the 50 new books is likely not happening, but I am still reading, and am not totally abandoning the project. I have finished one and have another in close proxymity to completion. Who knows- 40-45 might still happen.

Parenting is very intense and challenging, and very rewarding. I would say so far the hardest part is dealing with a crying baby who you know has no legitimate (i.e. hungry, dirty, sleepy) reason to cry. Chuck Berry and Springsteen seem to generally help my little girl. Which is good. God knows they’ve helped me too.

The best parts? I guess you really have to experience them. I am partial to when she nuzzles her head into my neck and tickles the crap out of me. Or her funny faces and smiles, which are becoming more regular these days.

I’ll post a little more… hope everybody out there hasn’t forgotten me and is getting along well.

Joe