Saturday, August 16, 2008

It must have been moonglow....

So, one debate coach accuses another of racism. The logical response? Moon a roomful of students. The video shows it all, or most of it.

The Provost's reaction?

"We're sure that there's probably some facts and information that's just not available. I mean, you see a lot on the video, but we need to make sure everything is revealed before we take any action," said Gould.

Did he really say that? EVERYTHING revealed? Now, THAT is one aggressive Provost! "Shake for me, boy, I want to be your backdoor man..."

(Nod to KL)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just To Make Angus' Head Explode....A Music Review

I'm going to go out on a limb here.

Angus let's me write book and movie reviews, and accepts the results. But music...well, he has to draw the line somewhere.

Still, I'm going to take a shot.

I had to drive to Charlotte, NC (2.5 hours from Durham) for a breakfast gig at Skyland, and then do a Keith Larson radio thing, which was really fun.

On the way over, and on the way back, I listened to several of the CD's my son had left in the car.

And....I have a new favorite band. Vampire Weekend. (I swore I wrote this before I looked up any reviews, or actual info. So this is blind).

Admittedly, a bit too much self-aware northeastern prep school cleverness. And the drummer goes back and forth between doing a version of "More cowbell! I want more cowbell!" with his cymbals, which he apparently just got for xmas and is really excited about, and then veering toward a sound that appears to be playing drums on someones plastic kitchen chair.

All that I concede. cool does it sound? And the lyrics are just smashing, and surprising. Here's "Mansard Roof":

I see a mansard roof through the trees
I see a salty message written in the eaves
The ground beneath my feet
The hot garbage and concrete
And now the tops of buildings, I can see them too

The Argentines collapse in defeat
The admiralty surveys the remnants of the fleet
The ground beneath their feet
Is a nautically-mapped sheet
As thin as paper
While it slips away from view

And I really loved "Blake's Got a New Face," and "Walcott."

Okay, so I promised myself I would finish writing before looking at reviews. Now, I just looked.

And, as you the astute reader already knew, my "new" favorite band is in fact a little old to be called new. In fact, I should probably get my ass kicked before homeroom by the punks who hate pseudo-African emo-wanna-be ripoff artists. But I'll be listening to that album for the next week or so, when I drive.

If you have NOT kept up, you may find this quick historical description informative, and funny.

Nigel Tufnel opens a sweets shop!

More Angus book reviews

1. The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon.

Chabon creates an absorbing counterfactual world with a hard-boiled detective story inside it. Informative and hilarious, big chunks of the book are as good as any fiction I've read. Chabon is a terrific writer. The ending does not do the rest of the book justice, but I flew through this book and really enjoyed it. It's along the lines of "Gun with Occasional Music" by the brilliant Jonathan Lethem and "Hard-Boiled Wonderland & the End of the World by Murikami. Highly recommended.

2. A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif.

This is an awesome debut novel. It tells the story of the death of Pakistani dictator Zia and offers several options for how his plane went down. It's by turns sarcastic, poignant, & informative, but always funny. Again the pages flew by for me. The side characters of Baby O and Uncle Starchy will stay with me for a long time. I saw someone describe it as a cross of "Catch-22" and "Libra", which is good, but I'd throw in "A Confederacy of Dunces" into the mix as well.

3. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

An even better debut novel. This is a 270 page anti-India screed. It's lovely. It reminds me very much of an extended Thomas Bernhard rant, though there is way more action here than in a Bernhard book. Indian politics, corruption, caste system, and the heinousness of village life all get vigorously rubbed in your face. I read this all in a single afternoon here in Santa Fe. Just wouldn't stop and put it down to go outside. You gotta check this out.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nachas Grande

As has been noted before, I like cheesy nachas.

Thursday night: Younger younger Munger (Brian) played in the city semifinals for Raleigh summer baseball, 16-18 division. We are ahead 2-0, fourth inning. Pitcher having trouble, walks bases loaded. We get a grounder to pitcher, force at home, one out. ball to Brian, who is playing left field. Medium deep. Brian misjudges it a little, comes in, has to go back out. Catches it, and throws it home, weight on his back leg.

And the ball comes in a line to the catcher, chest high, right on the baseline. Runner from third, tagging up and running, is out by two steps. Inning over.

We end up winning, 3-0. On to the city finals.

FINALS: Neanderbill and the lovely Sharon come out to the game. Beautiful sunset, temps in the low 80s, low humidity. Fantastic. Maybe 100 people watching, cheering.

First inning: Runner on second, one out, Brian batting. Strike, ball, foul.
Then foul, foul, foul, all with two strikes. Good battle. Enemy pitcher, big kid, muscles up and fires a hard fastball. Brian takes a nice easy two strike style swing, and lines sharply into center. Run scores on the single.

Brian steal second, takes third on a wild pitch, scores on slow grounder to second. We lead 2-0, with Brian driving in run number one, and scoring run number two.

Third inning, Brian playing third, our pitcher is having trouble, two walks. Runner on second takes off for third. Pitcher steps off, without balking. But throws kind of a sidearm thing to third. Brian, scrambling to cover, reverses direction, scoops up short hop throw, and reaches over to tag the runner. Huge out.

A hit, a strikeout, a hit, another walk. Now, 2-1, bases loaded, two outs. Fast batter. Batter tops one, slow roller to Brian. He charges hard, amazingly (really hard to get kids to do this, for some reason.) Ball takes funny hop, bounces up his arm, but he keeps it in front of him. Picks it up, and of course I can see the future: he is going to throw it 11 feet high, into the foul territory behind third [CORRECTED: FIRST!] base, and three runs are going to score.

Except that he makes a throw like third baseman, gets on top of it, and fires a laser right into the first baseman's glove. Runner out by half a step, takes off his helmet, and kicks it, getting a warning from the ump. We are out of the jam. Still ahead, 2-1.

Top of the fourth inning. Brian leads off. Goes with an outside pitch, and hits it exactly where I was so sure he was going to throw it. Over the first baseman's head, right fielder tries to cut it off. But it is crushed, and skips past him, all the way to the wall. Brian trips going around first, because he knows he has a triple. But the right fielder has a weak arm, and Brian DOES have a triple.

Scores on a wild pitch. We have three runs.

Bottom of fourth inning. High fly foul ball. Hits the arm of unmoving Neanderbill's chair with a loud crack. He is not looking. Pretty scary.

Bottom of the last inning. We are now ahead 3-1. Disaster is in the air. Our pitcher is struggling with the strike zone. Ump calling it tighter and tighter. At one point, our pitcher holds his arms out to the side and yells, "Where was that? WHERE WAS THAT?" after a fine-looking pitch is called a ball.

A walk, a wild pitch, runner goes to third. A strikeout. 1-2 count on next batter, bottom of the order. This kid couldn't hit if he had a boat paddle. Inexplicably, our pitcher throws a loopy curve in the dirt. Gets past catcher, goes to the fence. Run scores. One out, score is 3-2.

ANOTHER walk. Goes to second on wild pitch. Fly ball to short left. Runner takes off, then goes back. Left fielder tries to be hero, throws if over head of second baseman, even though runner is already back. Runner goes to third. First baseman, backing up throw to second, does NOT just run the ball in. Instead, he fires it sort of kind of toward home. Catcher desperately blocks throw in the dirt. Runner stays at third.

So...two out, runner on third, we are ahead 3-2, last inning of city championship. Top of their order now. Cocky kid who thinks is great. He isn't a great player, but he is just fine. Any hit, any error, or a wild pitch ties it. Everyone is screaming. Even Neanderbill is smiling slightly. The lovely Sharon is yelling.

Cocky kid hits a silo shot, just fair, halfway between home and first. First baseman, none too steady on fly balls, is looking up into the lights, the late night sky, and he has a good three seconds to contemplate the implications of failure. I can see the future: It is going to hit off the heel of his glove, and the runner is going to score from third. We are going to lose.

Except that he catches it clean. And I get my nachas. Yum. City champions. Trophies, photos, dancing and yelling. When the nurse first says, "Oh, it's a boy!" this is what you are dreaming of, but hardly dare hope to have.

(nod to Newmark's Door, for turning me onto nachas in the first place)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ode to Neil West (The Lord is my Barber)

From the comments on Mungowitz's WITBD post. I am too proud of myself to leave it there.

The lord is my barber, I shall not want.

He maketh me lie down to get shampooed. He restoreth my highlights.

Yea though I have male pattern baldness, I will fear no dandruff. For he is with me. His clippers and combs, they comfort me.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will get free haircuts forever.

The NRA loses a couple members

(click directly on story to enlarge for ez reading).