Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bacon up some links of sausage and stuff

So you may have read recently that the World Health Organization has declared that reading this blog will cause cancer. It's not a matter of when or if. In fact, if you've made it to this sentence you've probably got about 15 minutes to live.

So go fry yourself a wheelbarrow full of bacon and read these links. Might as well go in style:

** Trying to stay hip with the latest app? Me either. But just in case.
In this list you’ll find juggernauts like Facebook and Snapchat along with hidden gems that haven’t hit the top of the App Store’s charts yet. Every one of these apps serves a valuable purpose, making life easier, better, or just more fun.
** Been there, done that: Prince Invites Fans to Party With Him at Paisley Park
"If you don't leave here feeling fantastic, there's something wrong with you," Meier said.
** Politics anyone? Nate Silver says next presidential election is 50-50. That's cutting-edge thinking folks. Sigh.
I’m not saying Clinton is doomed. Rather, I think the “fundamentals” point toward her chances being about 50-50, and I wouldn’t argue vigorously if you claimed the chances were more like 60-40 in one or the other direction. But Clinton is no sort of lock, and if she loses the popular vote by even a few percentage points, the “blue wall” will seem as archaic as talk of a permanent Republican majority.
** At ESPN, mistakes were made. Like showing soccer matches.

** So, you made it this long, eh? Might as well enjoy some coffee, eggs, pasta, wine and chocolate too, as those used to be considered bad for you too. 

And, you gotta check out Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and their song S.O.B., and yeah it might have some cuss words in there. As this website says: "The song depicts the struggles of alcoholism in a soulful, chaotic way." 

If your toe isn't tapping by the end, you're probably dead now.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Making the pitch for some baseball books

There are some serious goofballs in baseball. Fortunately, people write books about them.

With America's pastime heading down the home stretch, I thought I'd take a look at some of the baseball books I've read over the years. Most of the more autobiographical ones I read during my youth in the 1970s and 1980s. Since then, either my tastes have evolved or the athletes and managers don't tend to put pen to paper as much, relying on the easier and less sophisticated Twitter characters and emoticons to express their thoughts.

I have one baseball book sitting on my to-be-read shelf: Fathers Playing Catch with Sons, essays by Donald Hall.

I have another thick fiction book that I'm a third of the way through, but haven't touched it for several months. I haven't quit on it yet, and intend to finish it, but it just wasn't doing much for me at the time: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.

So here's a glance at some of the better ones I've read. I'm not going to go to all the work of providing links to these. You know how Google works:

* How Life Imitates the World Series - Thomas Boswell

* Who's on First - William F. Buckley Jr.

* Steinbrenner - Dick Schapp

* Ball Four - Jim Bouton
* Ball Four Plus Ball Five - Jim Bouton

* Temporary Insanity - Jay Johnstone
This guy was one of my favorites. Quite the prankster.

* The Wrong Stuff - Bill "Spaceman" Lee
After being traded by Boston, Lee said: "Who wants to be with a team that will go down in history alongside the ‘64 Phillies and the ‘67 Arabs?"

Also, I'd forgotten about this, but Wiki reminded me that: "in 1987 he announced plans to run for President of the United States for the Rhinoceros Party.

* The Umpire Strikes Back - Ron Luciano
* Strike Two - Ron Luciano
My favorite line of his was: "I never called a balk in my life. I didn't understand the rule."
Luciano committed suicide 10 years ago.

* In the Country of Baseball - Dock Ellis
He threw a no-hitter in 1970 under the influence of LSD.
He threw at every batter in the Cincinnati Reds lineup in a game in 1974, because he could. Today, in an era where a bat-flip causes acne conglobata among ESPN anchors and the rest of the sports media, imagine what that would've done to them.

* All My Octobers - Mickey Mantle
You've probably heard of him.

* Tales from the Minnesota Twins Dugout - Kent Hrbek

* When You Come to a Fork in the Road Take It - Yogi Berra, RIP

Monday, October 5, 2015

Finished: Block's 'Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes' and need a cold shower

It's amazing how much a guy can get accomplished on the weekend with the kid working and the wife away visiting her family. I read an entire Lawrence Block book.

The Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes is really good. It's Block latest, published under the Hard Case Crime imprint. He goes back to the dark, sexy, noir genre and hits it hard. There's a little more hard-core sex in here than I was expecting (that's what she said) and a couple times I found myself thinking about the author and going: "Man, this guy's quite the horn-dog for being 78 years old."

Still, while it might have been a little overly explicit in places, it wasn't entirely gratuitous. The scenes were necessary to delve into the psyche of a couple of the characters (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). The plot was good, the twist at the end was good (though I saw it coming just in the nick of time).

I'd like to know why Block chose to write this under his own name, rather than under his Jill Emerson pseudonym of which he wrote Getting Off just four years ago. Seems if you're going to have a name for each genre, it might have been more appropriate there. Still. Very good. 7 out of 10 on the Haugenometer. Goodreaders have it at 3.75 of 5.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Time to go on a binge

There's binge watching ("24" comes to mind); there's binge drinking (college comes to mind); there's binge eating, and then there's probably the best thing for you: Binge reading.
For me binge reading is a joy. To spend consistent time in company of one specific group of characters, or one author's voice, is to spend quality time with good friends in a world far removed from the stresses of daily life. It is escapism at its purist.
I've done the binge reading thing a few times, not always with just one author, but also with a topic or genre. For instance, currently I've been joyfully stuck in the dark alleys of detective noir, reading Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block and their earlier work under pseudonyms. Am in the middle of Block's newest book, a throwback to his dark noir days, "The Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes."

Most recent author I binged on was Robert Parker. Great stuff. I've binge-read Tim Dorsey's first ten books until I got caught up on his current stuff, as I did Vince Flynn.

It's fun, but you kind of hit that spot where you need to stop before things get old. Haven't got there yet with my dark, sexy, murderous 1950s-60s noir novels yet. Hope I never do.