Saturday, June 21, 2008
The Wall Street Journal was starting to become more like other papers in the wake of the Murdochization of the paper, but on Saturday, it had two columns that were special.
The Peggy Noonan column on the memorials to Tim Russert, what set him apart from others, and when the memorials went over the top was very perceptive. It is at the following web address:
Another perceptive column in the same day's paper was the Terry Teachout column on the Dylan radio show. It not only captured the magic in the variety of music played and the perceptive intros by Dylan, but also went on to identify one of the problems with the iPODian age we live in--
"Teenagers and college graduates are less likely to listen to radio nowadays, a decline that media consultants attribute to the rise of the iPod, which allows its owners to choose from thousands of previously downloaded songs at will instead of settling for whatever a disc jockey cares to play. The assumption is that under-40 listeners are now choosing to withdraw into gated communities of musical taste, behind whose electronic walls they listen only to what they already know they like."
The whole column is at the following web address:
Monday, June 16, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
In this 500+page opus, you meet and remeet the Deans, as some Deans fall in and out of life, into comas and out with their memories intact, getting born and reborn under the Dean name or under an assumed name. The Deans take care of each other, but in odd and stubborn ways. In other words, its not your average American sit com family, but it may be a credible attempt at the great Australian, or any country novel.
The main characters are heroes and or villains, criminals and or moralists. They are weirdos and crackpots and or philosopher kings and visionaries. They are brothers, fathers, sons, lovers, haters, friends, and enemies--they are a little of all things. They are celebrities and people exploring their cosmic insignificance, they are sons becoming a part of their fathers or mothers, not always understanding that they may be part of something bigger than themselves. They may be starting with a credo and then spending the rest of their lives trying to prove it. It's not your run of the mill family story by any means...
You walk or crawl, then run with the characters through time from the New South Wales bush to bohemian Paris, from sports fields to back alleys to strip clubs, from living in a maze in Australia to living in the jungles of Thailand to living and dying in a leaky boat of immigrants in the Pacific. These are pieces of the puzzle, parts of a whole story, portions of a whole life or several lives-- they are truly "Fractions of the Whole." The Deans and associates are sickly, bloated, freewheeling, horrendous, funny and sometimes moving as they fight to leave the world, or stay, and leave a mark on the world or not. They are people taking themselves too seriously and not seriously enough. Often, this is a satirical view of individual searching, and societal reverential, hero-worship--which is after all all just a small step away from hateful, scandal-lusting.
This is a long tale of a world that often turns ugly. The book is sometimes well-written and sometimes not. It manages to stay out of the gutter of life, just barely, staying just a fraction ahead of full-blown despair. It is a compelling yet long read.
Much of this blog entry above was written from the third row of a bus from NY to DC with wi-fi. It is striking how the oddity of a rolling wi-fi on wheels is just another fraction of a whole...
It is difficult to capture the plot and subplots of this book within a book if that is what it is, but a good effort is made in the review at the following web address:
Thursday, June 5, 2008
I am a loyal baseball fan, but sitting under the stands at DC's National's Stadium for over two hours while it rained heavily reminded me of just how much a business baseball is.
While the infield was covered by the tarp, large puddles were forming in every other part of the ball park. Families with small children were waiting patiently--one family from as far away as Oklahoma. The field was clearly unplayable after an hour or so, but the scoreboard indicated that the Nationals were monitoring the weather and they would provide updates.
No updates and no information on the weather was provided; fans were not advised of what the chances of clearing were. Instead, there were just the constant ads on the scoreboard and the vendors selling their overpriced wares. When enough ads were shown and enough food and merchandise sold, the vendors packed up their leftovers, and the game was finally called off on account of profits--enough was made by the team, to end the torture of the fans sitting through the heavy rains patiently. And on the next day they would return to see the play again and pay again and again....