>What are You Reading This Summer?

>Lots of magazines and websites put out summer reading lists. For whatever reason, summer is supposed to be a time when you read more, I don’t know. I’m not a seasonal reader. If anything I probably read a little more during the darker months because there is less other stuff going on. Maybe too many people making editorial decisions think that we all still take vacations in the summer and need something to read while lounging at the beach or sipping cocktails at the pool. I don’t think that’s the case for most of us, but we can dream, right?

Richard over at The Broken Bullhorn (and a fairly frequent commenter around these parts) put up a post detailing the list of books he expects to read over the summer. I figured I’d do the same, since just last weekend I tried to get my arms around the growing pile of books I still need to read, and organized them into a loose queue to pull from. If all goes as planned, this is what I should be able to knock out over the summer, provided a summer actually comes to Missoula this year.

  • The Last Good Fight by Joe Layden (just started this, about 25% of the way through. It’s a NF book about the Mike Tyson/Buster Douglas fight on February 11th, 1990, as well as behind the scenes stuff about both of their careers and the events leading up to the historic fight. Pretty great so far.)
  • Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth (novel about a guy who is the president’s vampire bodyguard or something. I don’t know, not something I’d normally pick up, but it comes highly recommended by Beau Smith, whose opinion I trust, so I figured I’d give it a read)
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (story collection based on nonfiction events from the author’s experiences in Viet Nam, I believe. Came up in conversation w/ Patti Abbott, who suggested I give it a read for the Forgotten Book Fridays thing I occasionally participate in)
  • True Grit by Charles Portis (classic Western I’ve never read)
  • The Raven’s Gift by Jon Turk (mentioned this in a post earlier this week; a nonfiction account of the author’s experiences with an old shaman in Siberia)
  • A Bad Day for Sorry and A Bad Day for Pretty by Sophie Littlefield (the first two novels by Sophie, who has become one of my internet pals over the last few months. Sorry was/is up for all kinds of First Novel awards, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer person. Pretty just came out a week ago. Wanted to get right on these, but forced myself to put a couple in front of them)
  • The Lost City of Z by David Grann (nonfiction account of an Amazonian adventure expedition gone awry. I love stuff like this!)
  • The Song is You and Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott (yes, for those who don’t know, she is the aforementioned Patti’s daughter. Julia loves her books, and I’ve loved the two I’ve already read. When people ask for book recommendations, I always mention Megan now!)
  • Body by Harry Crews (one from my Powell’s Books haul, and the one Christa Faust recommended to me as a great place to start with Harry Crews. A black comedy set in the world of female bodybuilding)
  • A Fighter’s Heart by Sam Sheridan (a nonfiction account from a guy who traveled the world learning different fighting techniques, as well as a look into the philosophies of why we fight. Or something like that)
  • American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell (collection of stories about down-and-out folks in rural Michigan. Julia read it, liked it, and said I’ll probably like it too)

This list should get me through. I have a few other books (not to mention graphic novels) stacked alongside that I might add here and there as well, plus I know a new Gabriel Hunt book is coming out soon which I will definitely grab and read as soon as I’m able to, but for the most part this should be a plan I can stick to.

Or not, we’ll see.

I’m curious to know what other people are reading, or will be reading!

>A True Ohio Tragedy

>I’ve mentioned this famous Ohio landmark before on this blog — the legendary Ohio Touchdown Jesus.

Looks like the Thunder God took offense at this likeness, however, for lightning has struck the statue down.

I knew the damn thing was big, but Jesus!

The sculpture, 62 feet tall and 40 feet wide at the base, showed Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the way the arms were raised, similar to a referee signaling a touchdown. It was made of plastic foam and fiberglass over a steel frame, which is all that remained early Tuesday.

TDJ, I’ll miss you next time I’m passing through. . . .


Jesus is on fire!

>Random Sampling From My Brain

>The Beautiful Game

Four days into the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and I’ve watched every match, but I’m feeling a little burned out. The problem is I’ve been staying up too late and then getting up too early (first game has been kicking off around 5:30 AM here). But it only comes around every four years, so I’m going to stay the course. As for my assessment thus far, I’d say Argentina looks like they will be pretty good once they get dialed in a little better, Germany already looks awesome, and Italy looks like shit. I’m curious to see how Brazil and Spain look. The USA/England game was a lot of fun. I wish the USA had won, but I’ll live with a draw. They pretty much need to win the next two games, though.

These first games of the finals can be pretty boring, because many teams tend to play not to lose. Once the next round of games come around, more and more sides are forced into must-win situations, so the intensity goes up. I’m looking forward to that.

Intrepid Adventurer Rescued

I was following the story of Abby Sunderland, the 16 yo girl who was attempting to sail around the world before contact was lost with her. I was happy to see that she was found and ultimately rescued. The article I linked raises some good questions about whether she should have even been out on the ocean in the first place, never mind that she was alone. For example, this particular passage:

One commentator on the Los Angeles Times website summed up the view of many: “Abby Sunderland was on the wrong type of boat (a racing yacht) in the wrong location (the southern Indian Ocean) at the wrong time of year (winter in the southern hemisphere). Other than those minor details it was a well-planned voyage.”

That comment is weighed with more than a little sarcasm, I’d say. So besides the question about whether her parents were being irresponsible in allowing her the attempt, there is also the question of the cost and risk involved in the rescue. Who picks up those charges? One would think the people responsible in the first place — Abby’s parents — would have to foot the bill. I imagine that if they can afford a yacht like that for such an adventure, picking up the rescue tab isn’t such a big deal, though in this article, which also discusses the possibility of a reality show and book, Abby’s father claims to be broke.

I can see both sides of the argument. What it comes down to for me is admiration — I admire Abby’s attempt, and I admire that she wasn’t cowed by the fear she no doubt faced stranded at sea. The older I get, the more I realize how much of life is wasted by doing things that really aren’t adventurous at all. There’s nothing exciting about doing the day in, day out of work, scrambling to make payments on this and that, and all the other trappings we get lured into that are supposedly elements of building a “successful” life. Hell, I sure can’t picture my kid taking off solo around the world; I can’t picture myself doing that. One thing I do know is I sure do need a little more adventure in my life, that’s for goddamn sure. Taking support calls and making pathetic attempts at writing novels no one will ever read ain’t going to do the job for me without it.

Conquerors of the Useless

I’ve been thinking about a lot of this stuff ever since this great movie that Julia and I watched when we were in Portland, called 180 Degrees South. Here’s the trailer:

During the movie, Yvon Chouinard is talking about adventures. He talks about these CEO types who climb Everest; the route is pre-prepared for them, they have teams of people to haul their gear for them, etc. Yes, there is still an element of danger, but real transformative adventure? He says something to the effect that people like that “are assholes before they leave, and they’re assholes when they get back.” I’m not paraphrasing very well — just watch the movie. I’m impatiently awaiting its arrival at my house on DVD. I found it very inspiring.

Jon Turk

I’m reminded of a guy I’ve seen speak a couple of times in Missoula named Jon Turk. He is a scientist, writer and adventurer. I’ve read two of his books, In the Wake of the Jomon: Stone Age Mariners and a Voyage Across the Pacific, and Cold Oceans: Adventures in Kayak, Rowboat, and Dogsled. Both involve some harrowing trips that I don’t know that I’d be up for, but they are fascinating reading. His latest book, The Raven’s Gift: A Scientist, a Shaman, and Their Remarkable Journey Through the Siberian Wilderness, is on my shelf and soon to surface in my TBR queue.

I could ramble on and on about what I love about Turk’s writing and how he’s chosen to live his life. But this little quote from his website really says it all:

I am now 64 years old, and still blessed with good health. My body and I have an agreement. I take it to places where we have fun; it takes me to places where we have fun. We’re a team, my body and I.

That really sums it up, doesn’t it? What’s life without living a little bit? Some might call all my existential angst some kind of midlife crisis or something, and maybe they’re right. I think it’s bigger than that. Not living a certain kind of life is a betrayal. Even the things I like — stories of heroes living on the edge, adventure yarns, wilderness, travel, etc. — are like subliminal messages from my brain telling me what I should be doing. Making sure my feet find those paths is becoming more and more important to me than ever before.

>Another of the Silly Things I’d Buy if I Could Spare the Money

>Would do it in a heartbeat.

USA vs. England 2010 Jabulani Match Ball


The ball England and the USA will be playing with during their World Cup match up. Printed with USA vs. England, the stadium, the date and the match number.365 Inc is the only place you’ll find this ball stateside.Teams will be playing with balls with these graphics during the match.Meant to be a collectors item. Graphics are not meant to hold up under long-term play.adidas’ Jabulani is the Official Match Ball for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.Constructed with eight new thermally-bonded, spherically-shaped, 3-D EVA and TPU panels, the Japbulani is perfectly round and has been equipped with a new Grip’n’Groove technology that ensures it flies straight and true.The Japbulani is designed for never-before-seen power, swerve and control. It’s a ball truly worthy of the best in the game.

Maybe I should start a porn site, then I could create a wish list, and then basement dwelling perverts would send me stuff. Bitchin’ soccer balls and comic books have got to cost less than expensive lingerie and sex toys, right? Then, in return, I could post racy photos of myself hammering the ball into the back of the net, reading comics while sprawled across some sketchy motel room’s king size, etc. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

I definitely need to come up with some kind of plan for disposable income, especially after my friend Toni totally let me put both of my eager hands on her iPad last night, with her main man (and all around swell guy) Bruce watching the entire time. I almost needed to smoke a cigarette afterward. I still haven’t washed my hands. And those things are like $600 or so, aren’t they? Damn.