Monday, July 27, 2009

The little things in life

I am in serious denial about Infinite Summer. I've been an average of 100 pages off the pace for some time. My first writeup is probably also going to be my last. See, this is why blogging is bad for me sometimes, I lack consistency. Maybe that's why Twitter is so much more popular in my mind.

Anyway instead I will bring you commentary about the little things in life that I'm enjoying, in bullet point format:
  • My fixed coffee maker. I own a Cuisinart Grind and Brew coffee maker. It costs an absurd amount of money for such a device, but I owned a series of sub-par coffee makers prior including a couple of hand-me-downs. My requirements were a coffee maker where I could reliable set a timer, and one that was industrial enough to not start breaking or leaking water all over the place (I've owned a lot of cheap coffee makers). At any rate, the Cusinart Grind and Brew fit the bill and then some. It has a bean hopper that fits a half pound of beans and it grinds them to an exact quantity every time. This is the greatest coffee maker I've ever owned, and a few months ago it started breaking down on me. It would shut off about half way through brewing and require me to keep resetting it. It took a call to the Cusinart customer service people to realize that I hadn't ever de-scaled it with vinegar. Why it didn't occur to me sooner is beyond me (I've de-scaled plenty of coffee makers). So, I did this for the better part of a Saturday afternoon, watching limey junk shoot out of the thing for a good hour and about 6 cycles. But it's working great again. My wallet and my stomach thank me.
  • Horse Racing - I've been out to the track 3 times this season and I've had a great time every time. Last Saturday was especially fun - it was the claiming crown at Canterbury Downs - lots of good horses and great jockeys. Russel Baze was there, he's the jockey with the most wins in the history of the sport (I don't think Kevin Gorg went 20 minutes without mentioning it the entire day). He was also riding a bunch of middle of the pack horses that were not favorites. Still, he managed to win two races in which we had Win/Place/Show bets and we also hit the Exacta on one of the races. (totally on a whim, I decided to bet on his horse and the exacta at the last minute). Total winnings of 140 bucks from these 2 races. Not too shabby - we basically ate and drank for free and had a good time while doing so.
  • Lazy Sundays - Katie and I drank coffee, played bejeweled blitz and watched the Big Brother feeds yesterday morning and it was pretty perfect. After the storm of work on the house to get it market ready, it's nice to have some lazy weekends where we do whatever we want.
  • Big Brother Feeds - as mentioned in the prior item, I got the live feeds for Big Brother this year. Totally worth it. They have a flashback option which is killer, and it's totally fun to see the whole picture. I'd been reading bloggers who were talking about all the stuff you were missing if you didn't watch the live feeds and they are totally right. They edit the show in ways they want to edit it and it's not always totally accurate as to what is really going on. My habit is to go home and watch the salient points from the prior night for an hour or two based on the various guides out there, then flip on the live feeds and watch them while doing other things.
  • Podcasting: I've always been a fan, but now more than ever, I'm hooked. My favorites in no particular order are The Bill Simmons Report (ESPN), This Week in Tech, and various Public Radio shows (This American Life, Car Talk, Fresh Air, Marketplace). My only grip is that I wish my Ipod touch had an option to synch all new episodes over wifi versus always having to sync with Itunes. You can download individual shows directly on the touch, but you have to manually go in and find them.
It's been a great summer so far and these are just a few of the things that are contributing to that.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Infinite Summer Week 1 (and a half)

I decided that I'm going to do these updates every week. This one is a little late because I got engrossed in another Wallace novel, The Broom in the System, which I've now completed.

Page 66 (slightly behind the pace)

Most interesting thing I read this week:
the scene where Erdedy is waiting for his drug dealer to show up (chapter 2- pages 17-27). DFW really captures the frantic essence of the character and situation.

To be explored in more detail: Scene with Wardine. I'm told it comes together later.

Laugh Out Loud Moment: Filmography of James Incandenza:
"Various Small Flames. Latrodectus Mactans Productions. Cosgrove, Watt, Pam Heath, Ken N. Johnson; 16 mm.; 25 minutes w/ recursive loop for automatic replay; color; silent w/ sounds of human coitus appropriated from and credited to Caballero Control Corp. adult videos. Parody of neconceptual structuralist films of Godbout and Vodriard, n-frame images of myriad varieties of small household flames, from lighters and birthday candles to stovetop gas rings and grass clippings ingnited by sunlight through a magnifying glass, alternated with anti-narritive sequences of a man (Watt) sitting in a dark bedroom drinking bourbon while his wife (Heath) and an Amway representative (Johnson) have acrobatic coitus in the background's lit hallway. UNRELEASED DUE TO LITIGATION BY 1960S US CONCEPTUAL DIRECTOR OF VARIOUS SMALL FIRES ED RUSCHA - INTERLACE TELENT CARTRIDGE RELEASE #330-54-94 (Y.T.-S.D.B)"

So, how did I get here? Count me in among those that had barely ever heard of David Foster Wallace until his passing. I don't roll in those literary circles usually (though I have several friends that do). I'm mostly a non-fiction reader these days, I read a lot of business books and biographies. I've (somewhat ridiculously) limited my fiction reading to brain candy type stuff, like Vince Flynn and John Grisham - mass market stuff that's entertaining, but lacking any kind of interesting depth and meaning. Things that I can plow through in a few days without really thinking much. The reading equivalent of reality television (versus watching something of more substance, if it exisits these days, which one could argue).

Up till now, my experience with DFW has been a random essay in a magazine - I also read some of the Harper's stuff that they neatly collected after his death. He's right up my alley though, and I found Broom utterly enjoyable with many poignant and funny moments, yet mixed with a serious tone at points. He really does a fabulous job at character creation and conveyance of the character's thoughts and emotions.

I first heard about Infinite Summer nearly simultaneously on my Twitter account from my hombres Lauren Jumi and Jenni. Lauren's co-running the Infinite Summer Community on livejournal, and between that, the discussion boards on goodreads, and infinite summer site's discussion board, there's plenty of online outlets to discuss the book. I've picked up some clues from these areas. I also purchased a copy of Elegant Complexity to supplement, and it's already come in handy a few times to examine the overall narrative structure and some of the particular scenes of interest.

I'd been meaning to pick up more books of substance and read, and this gets me well on my way.

More to come...