I know what you're thinking.
The last thing the world needs is another blog about music, sports and food by some hack that thinks he's some sort of Legs McNeil, Shirley Povich, or Jeffrey Steingarten. Between PL, AP, and myself there are enough washed up coremen trying their hand at these topics. But this is something I have been meaning to do, and now that I am done with school (sort of) I finally have the time to put a little effort into this and update it on the regular. God knows I have enough opinions to put forth. The real issue is taking the time to type them out.
WRAPPED UP IN BOOKS
As I stated earlier, I am sort of finished with school. I took an incomplete to finish my research project. A little more research and 10 pages or so and I will be done with my M.A. and then I have the luxury of finding a job. I have been in school for about four years straight, and in that time I have had almost zero time to read for pleasure. But I have been stockpiling books that I have been planning on reading over that time. While I was recently on vacation, I finally got to dig into my pile of books. Reading these were a breeze compared to what I have been reading over the past few years.
One of a Kind: The Rise and Fall of Stuey "The Kid" Ungar, The World's Greatest Poker Player (Nolan Dalla and Peter Alson)
Biography of Stuey Ungar, 3 time WSOP champion that blew all his money at sportsbooks and on drugs, namely cocaine. He did so much blow his nose looked like it melted. He came back from haggard condition to win his last tourney, but blew all of that money too. Ungar grew up around wiseguys, was never really told what to do, and did what he wanted. He was always on, and in his prime was near unbeatable, first in Gin Rummy, then when he could not get a game, he switched to high stakes poker. The authors started this as a tell all from Stuey, but after he died they continued their project. As messed up as Ungar was on drugs, the book devotes very little space to his addiction, portraying sports gambling as his real weakness. I blazed through this in about two days, so it's a fast read, if you have any interest in the poker world, the WSOP, or Vegas its worth a read, but not as good as...
Positively Fifth Street (Jim McManus)
Continuing my poker motif, I read this next. I bought this right before I finished my BA, and had a hard time getting into it, barely reading the first chapter before putting it down, Figuring I would need something else to read on vacation, I took it along. Once the book got going, it was actually pretty good. it sucked me in and I had a hard time putting it down. You would need to have an interest in poker and have some familiarity with the game of Texas Hold'em to get into the poker parts. McManus was hired by Vanity Fair to cover women playing in the WSOP and the Binion murder trial. Being a poker player, McManus used his advance to play a satelite tourney and played in the WSOP, making it to the final table. Between studying the case and various poker books, he manages to interview some of the women playing in the tourney long enough to piss them off. He can get off on tangents, but overall the book was a good read. You'll want to grab this one before the Ungar book.
Ask the Dust (John Fante)
Since I tore through my two books so quickly, and nowhere to buy any English magazines or books, I was forced to read a book Beth brought with her on the trip. John Fante was a writer in LA in the early to mid 20th Century that played a role in influencing Charles Bukowski. Buk wrote the foreward for this version, and this printing features correspondence between the two authors from 1979. Fante's influence on Bukowski is pretty obvious. He writes about his fictional personna Arturo Bandini (Bandini is to Fante as Henry Chinaski is to Bukowski) The major difference is Fante's protagonist tries to do the right thing, and usually does. Fante's Bandini evoked images of Holden Caulfield and Max Fischer, a young kid that huge visions for himself, but didn't know what he really wanted or how to go about getting it. I don't know if I'd reread Ask the Dust like I have Bukowski's Henry Chinaski/ LA novels, it was cool to go back to one of Bukowski's influences years after the fact.
Currently I am reading the novel MASH by Richard Hooker. If you have seen the movie, you pretty much know what happens in the book. If you only know the TV series, do yourself a favor and read this or watch the movie (or both.) I am so psyched to be able to read for pleasure, and have so much on deck to read, I'll report back here when I get through a couple more books. In the coming weeks/ months I am planning on reading John King's football (soccer) trilogy, Broken Summers by Henry Rollins and plan on tackling Moby Dick one of these days. It's only been sitting untouched on my pile for 3 years.
I didn't plan on writing this much about the books, and don't want to shoot my wad, so I'll save my rantings on the Indians/ baseball for later. Considering how disgusted I am with the team, it's probably better that way. I am heading up to Milwaukee this weekend to see them play, so I'll have a review and pics of Miller Park next week. More importantly I am going to score some butter burgers (as seen in Hamburger America) and hit up the Jelly Belly factory, and I may try to cop some kicks seeing as Mil has multiple SB dealers as opposed to the one in Cleveland.