World Cup!  Duh, what else is there?

But, what to wear out to a World Cup watching party?  City Pages has a column to help with that dilemma.

Leave it to U2 (that may be unfair, it may be all Bono) to give me a reason to not watch World Cup 2010.  It’s nostalgia, but in the (anterior) future.

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Israel.  Clearly.  How can a person alive to-day not be distracted by the nonsense?  My question though, is, when was the last time we heard talk about solutions?  These days the talk is about whether one can criticize Israel and not be anti-semitic.  The answer is yes, but that question then turns everything into an episode of Seinfeld.  Only a Jew can criticize Israel, and even then they tend to become self-loathing.  The Right has again taken away the discussion and turned it into something unproductive.

To-day was cold, everywhere I went was cold.  The Swede’s place was too cold for morning fun.  The gym was too cold to worry about being surrounded by yoga girls (maybe I’m just sensitive because I have a small mat).  The Tin Fish was too cold to ignore the insipid kid and his whiny dad.  My place was too cold to think about the yoga girls.  Now I am at a chain sports bar for some cold sports, Stanley Cup finals, and am finally comfortable.  In a national chain.  *sigh*

The waitress just asked if I wanted some food.  “Maybe after I sober up.”  She looked at my just-delivered beer and laughed.  Little cutie with a red-dyed mop on her head always laughs at my jokes.

I read a Lester Bangs review of Bob Dylan’s Desire.  Holy shit!  It was tight and, oh, so, devastating.  I only wish I had the ability to be so mean.  So, here goes:

I notice there has been no response from The Wooden Pickle about the cover wars.  He said it was on.  What a cock-tease.  An articulation of the above Bangs’ piece and my calling him out:

“[Buttercup] doesn’t give a damn about [music], and if he spent any more than ten minutes actually working on the composition of [It’s ON: Cover Song Battle] then Bryan Ferry is a member of the Eagles.”

“At length I concluded that any [post] whose principal utility lay in such an emotional twilight zone was at worst an instrument of self-abuse, at best innocuous as a crying towel, and certainly was not going to make me a better person or teach me anything about women, myself, or anything else but how painfully confused [Buttercup] seemed to be.”

Stay Warm,

SN

Bangs, Lester.  (1976, March 8).  Bob Dylan’s dalliance with mafia chic: He ain’t no delinquent, he’s misunderstood.  The Village Voice.

It’s a rainy day outside.  Looking Seattle but feeling Minnesota.  These days always disappoint.  I am here so little in the summertime that when it rains I feel as though I am really missing out on something.  Despite being stuck inside, I find that to be more of a distraction than anything else.

I am excited for Friday when World Cup action begins.  I am really excited for Saturday when the US kicks off with a match against England.  We’re supposed to lose, but that merely makes rooting for the US risk-free.  And if we win…  The Swede, sadly, has to do some work like thing on Saturday.  She clearly hates freedom.  Her boss too.

I am thinking of heading to Nomad for the match and then the block party afterwards.

I am distracted with thinking about an office.  I am moving in September and will have access to a second room, that I want to turn into an office.  Simple design, a desk, chair and bookshelves.  I have lots of books and am looking forward to having a dedicated place to display them.  For quick reference.  In any case, I have decided to hold up on an ereader, especially since my life the past few months has been about simplification and becoming more analogue.  Hearing an interview with Nicholas Carr about his new book The Shallows helped solidify that decision.

My drink of choice has been a Gin and Tonic for a long time.   I first discovered it when an underaged drinker, because bartenders rarely card someone who orders a G&T.  “That’s an old person’s drink,” I’ve been told by more than one woman.  Passing through.  Zactly.  Troy Patterson, already a preferred distraction, has just disclosed the wonder that is gin.  And moved himself higher into the pantheon of StoopidNoodle distractions.

While speaking of drinking, how about combining it with literature.  Here is a Forbes piece about literary pub crawls.  I have often thought about seeing if there could be a Minneapolis version of this.  F. Scott Fitzgerald.  F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Hmmm.  Clearly some more research is necessary.

It’s a rainy day and I am to help officiate a high school track meet.  I’m not quite sure how I managed to be talked into it.  I think it went something like this:

“Whitewashing this fence sure is fun.”

I’m just a fancy monkey, folks.  Enjoy yourselves.

It’s hot here.  Not so much hot as humid and sticky.  I was thinking this morning of how to convey just how miserable it is.  Not just miserable, but miserable for Minneapolis especially this early in the year and coming on the heels of last week’s cold.  It is like Dallas summers, not as hot but just as gross.  So gross that I am now inside and most people are just now arriving at their cubicles.  Normally I am gone at the summer gig when the weather makes this turn.

The worms hanging from their invisibles trapeezes even look tired.  When biking you no longer have to worry about the geese, they stay off the pavement it’s too hot.  They do sleep with their wings spread open.  A natural sort of heat sink, I guess.

There’s two new regulars at the Tin Fish in the mornings.  An old woman that bikes in and then straps on rollerskates.  Also, a middle aged man that drops his fishing boat into the lake with skilled aggressiveness.  He plows the truck way back into the water, and slams on the brakes, skidding into the water.  The boat flies off the trailer, he then jams the truck forward and the wench just spools out the chain.  All in all it’s an amazing sight, like watching a gifted gymnast do things you didn’t know the body could do.

To-day’s story was Bradford Tice’s “Missionaries“.  Meh.  The writing was okay, nothing special.  The story seems to gain respect because it is salacious and about Mormons.  It seems overly cynical.  Tice’s comments in the back of the Rushdie anthology even hint at this.  Just like the old European stories about the Ottoman odalisques.

I do recommend you read Sash Frere-Jones’ piece about James Murphy.  Even if you do not know nor care about LCD Soundsystem, this article is sweet.  Frere-Jones definitely knows his craft, even if his sense of taste sometimes leaves me shocked.  The article also provides a wonderful list of other music to check out, which is another criticism I sometimes find with Frere-Jones: he falls back on obscure knowledge as a way of beating the reader into agreement.  He’s that guy at the cocktail party hanging by the punch bowl with the array of statistics making debate impossible.

I am still working on Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask.  It’s a fun book, in the same way Juno was a fun movie.  The story is vanilla.  It’s the voice of the main character that is special.  And vulgar.  And childish.  Scatological.  It’s my friends and I in the French Quarter after the first night.  Do I need to read this book?

Rushdie, Salman, ed.  (2008).  The best American short stories, 2008.  NY: Houghton Mifflin.

This is the nicest day of the year so far.  The weather is perfect, which is probably why I continue the trend of fucking up a good thing.  I did bike down to Lake Calhoun in the morning where I managed most of my morning rituals.  The short story was good.  The theory essay was not so much.  The word of the day is peal.  Because that’s useful.

There was a woman there who looked to be in rough shape.  She was a typical Minneapolis radical: early 20s, waifishly thin probably starving broke, dressed in warm – termperature warm – and dark clothes.  She sat in the sun, in the walkway of the Tin Fish.  A turlte sittign on a sunny deck waiting to be stepped on.  She read something, book held above her face, knees propped up, crotch aimed at those of us in the seating area.  An old lady did ask if she was okay.  She said yes as she played with her Swiss Army knife.  I wanted to talk to her, to learn about the series of poor choices that probably led her to this state.  I wanted to help.  I also did not want to be denied the charity and instead to have the offer turn into a salacious quid pro quo on her part.  That offer happened once.  I steel feel guilty for the pity I felt.

There’s a funeral this weekend for The Swede’s grandmother.  Never met her.  She sounds like my Aunt Mick, who was the coolest person I’ve probably ever met.  Drove to Roseville, had to pick up the suit from the dry cleaners before five.  What else is there to do in da burbs but to watch a movie?  Robin Hood it was.  Then to coffee shop.  But coffee shops out here are unlike the coffee shops at home.  Here they cater to children and the stay-at-home mothers.  Plenty of distractions so the Mommy Blogs can be written.  My preferred coffee shops have distractions so the hipsters blog instead of finishing the novels they’ve been working on for the past year.  Either way, it’s all about enabling.  Nonsense.

Blading at the Roseville Oval later.  Watching the derby kids get their derby on.  Then to fetch some wings and beer.  The Swede does not have to rise at the ass-crack of dawn, so later tonight will be a better night than most Thursdays.  Then a drive to Iowa with her folks tomorrow, so it will be a worse Friday than usual.

The most notable thing I read to-day was Jack Pendarvis’ column in the recent The Believer.  I’m still not sure what was going on.  But it was entertaining enough that I will read it again.  Again again.  “Life sure is funny when you think about it.”  Or so says a skeleton of a dog.

She [the Minerva] floats only because boys mind her pumps all the time, she remains upright and intact only because highly intelligent men never stop watching the sky and the seas around her.  Every line and sail decays with visible speed, like snow in daylight, and men must work ceaselessly worming, parceling, serving, tarring, and splicing her infinite network of hempen lines in order to prevent her from falling apart in mid-ocean with what Daniel imagines would be explosive suddenness.  (Stephenson 2002, 217)

That’s a marvelous passage and needed applause.  Only one adverb to detract from its beauty.  Few adjectives.  Plenty of descriptive verbs.  It also acknowledges the infinite struggle against nature for technological stasis.  More importantly, it does not chalk up the struggle to labor, but highlights the labor intensiveness of the struggle.

I am reminded recently of a talk by Alan Weisman, author of The world without us, where he remarked about the popularity of his book among conservative talk shows.  He had anticipated being lumped into the tree-hugging environmentalist camps, but was instead surprised that the conservatives glommed onto his praise of the common laborers.  The book does, after all, read like the show Dirty Jobs would.  Not that Stephenson has never been suspected of not being a friend to labor.  But why is labor friendly to the conservatives?  A question I have yet to find a satisfactory answer for.  False ideology, sure.  But how does it work?

What is also interesting about Quicksilver is that much of the beginning is set aboard the Minerva.  At the same time I started this tome I also started and finished another book which involves the Minerva. Only a few chapters of Linebaugh and Rediker’s The many-headed hydra were assigned, but I had to read the whole thing.  It is about the role of sailors, slaves and commoners in the revolutionary Atlantic.  Tracing labor through the major struggles, it was a fascinating read.  Its dovetails with Quicksilver were too odd.  Nearly sublime.

While I am speaking of sublimity, I am really excited about the latest book I just started reading to-day: Massumi’s Parables for the virtual. All four of these writers are extremely gifted and I have no doubt that had their interests changed any, had their body-sites been repositioned slightly on the grids of identity, then they all could have been best of friends.  Or competitors.

This clearly was not labelled as a post about reading and yet I can do nothing but think about what a strange confluence these three books have created for me.  Especially in such a short period of time.  I know I will be speaking more about the Massumi book as I already have some ideas to knock around before I take them to the faculty.

And…notice the comment Stephenson makes about the snow melting in the sunlight?  I have never really seen it at work until to-day.  The past few days were spent in delirious moments of waking between naps as I slept off illness.  Watching the icicles dissolve was fascinating.  But seeing the snow on the ground recede to the shade line was doubly amazing to-day as I trounced around the city celebrating the new warmth. It was a good day to be alive and in Minneapolis.

Linebaugh, Peter & Marcus Rediker.  (2000).  The many-headed hydra: Sailor, slaves, commoners, and the hidden history of the revolutionary Atlantic. Boston: Beacon Press.

Massumi, Brian.  (2002).  Parables of the virtual: Movement, affect, sensation. Durham, NC: Duke UP.

Stephenson, Neal.  (2003).  Quicksilver. NY: Harper Perennial.