What Are You Reading

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by Lancealot, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,542
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    Rick Telander's Homer's Odyssey; Chicago Sun Times this day:

    We can go back in time to when
    baseball was seemingly built
    around craft and basestealing
    and base hits and bunts and all
    the tricks that could be employed
    in such a simple yet shockingly
    complex game.


    The long ball and analytics could stand some de-emphasis. Knuckle down, choke up on the stick, thievery,
    knock down drag out slug fests, spit balling.
     
    LizzieMaine likes this.
  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    If John McGraw were alive today, the modern game would kill him.
     
  3. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
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    Location:
    New York City
    That Statcast launch angle graphic and data they now show after each home run hurts my head, especially since each network has its own way of showing it. Also, I just can't get excited about 29 degree vs 32 degree launch angles even though the announcers are quite emphatic that I should. Maybe it's 'cause I can't pick that stuff up in real time anyway.

    Despite all the home runs blasted this way and that in the recent Yankees-Redsox series, the most enjoyable old-school play was Sanchez's rifle throw to pick off Nunez at second (and not cause it was a good thing for the Yankees, but 'cause it was awesome classic baseball):

    https://www.mlb.com/video/sanchez-picks-off-nunez-at-second
     
  4. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,542
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    In the Cubs front office led by Theo Epstein, a Billy Bean disciple, analytics rule the roost; whereas Joe Maddon
    is more old school bare knuckles baseball in which numbers, while valid to some extent, cannot excise the
    human variable from the game itself. A struggling rotation, a bullpen back end that is in triple AAA Iowa for lack
    of a closer, and a batting lineup that tends collective collapse all too often see launch angles and all other faddish
    notions fall by the wayside. A capable batter intent on homering; instead of a choked bat line drive with his eye on
    nailing a base, striking out is common occurrence. Baseball is inherently a fuller, much more richer game when basic
    fundamentals are adhered, not cast aside by a numbers-crunching front office staff.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
    Fading Fast and LizzieMaine like this.
  5. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,542
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    Just culled off the internet: America's rural radio stations are vanishing-and taking the country's soul with them,
    Debbie Weingarten in Wilcox, Arizona; The Guardian

    Newspapers and radio stations....
     
    Tiki Tom likes this.
  6. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,184
    Location:
    Vienna, Austria
  7. Julian Shellhammer

    Julian Shellhammer Practically Family

    Messages:
    532
    Just started The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington, for our next read-aloud book. I had read it decades ago, but it's new to the Missus.
    On the side, I'm revisiting Red Harvest by Hammett.
     
  8. Vera Godfrey

    Vera Godfrey Practically Family

    Messages:
    915
    Location:
    Virginia
    Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
     
  9. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,542
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    Started Elizabeth Hardwick's Seduction and Betrayal again, then ran into a gal pal Lit Phd enroute
    this morning and passed the book to her. She has to cobble a number of classes together at several
    colleges to make a full time paycheck.
    _____
    Alan Dershowitz is Wrong About Impeachments, Keith E Whittington; Lawfare, June 3, 2019

    Alan through the academic looking glass.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
  10. Bushman

    Bushman My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,145
    Location:
    Chicago
    Just about to finish "Aladdin" here, and then I'm moving on to "Peter Pan".
    [​IMG]
     
    Vera Godfrey likes this.
  11. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
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    Location:
    New York City
    Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

    A young Cuban American woman, living in Florida, travels to Cuba to fulfill her just-deceased grandmother's last request to have her ashes sprinkled in Havana where the grandmother grew up the daughter of a wealthy sugar plantation owner whose family benefitted from the social- and economic-construct of the corrupt Batista regime. The novel flips back and forth between the daughter's present day discoveries about her family's history in Cuba and the grandmother's life in Cuba during the pivotal year of '59 as Fidel Castro's rebels were about to defeat Batista's forces.

    Three quarters of the novel is okay at best - a by-the-numbers plot, a sugary romance and too much modern thought and perspective given to historical characters, but the book elevates itself in the last quarter as it becomes serious about the politics of the revolution and the tense relationship between the Cubans who stayed and those who left and established the Cuban exile community in Florida.

    The book's view is that the Batista regime was a corrupt dictatorship that benefitted a few Cuban oligopolistic business interests (and their families) and American investors in the casino, travel and other businesses at the expense of the Cuban people who lived in poverty with little political freedom. It argues that the revolution - led by Fidel and Che Guevara (and a few others) - promised a better life with democracy and personal freedom for all Cubans, but instead delivered a murderous and corrupt thug regime that made life, for many, worse by turning Cuba into a poverty-riddled Marxist police state.

    With that backdrop, the book highlights the tension between the Cubans who stayed and suffered under Castro - and the subset that risked their and their families' lives to fight the regime through subversive actions - and the anti-Castro community of exiles that rebuilt their lives in the USA - many sending money back to friends and family while trying to effect change in Cuba through its influence on American politics.

    Here the book picks up as you feel the two communities united against Castro but suspicious of each other - with those who stayed jealous and resentful of those who left and those who left somewhat masking guilt at leaving with fervent pro-Cuba / anti-Castro passions. The relationship between the two communities is nuanced, murky and, sometimes, inconsistent - just like real life.

    But of course, being a modern novel, it bends to modern political pieties as, while it condemns Cuba's repressive regime, it tries to avoid highlighting or even acknowledging the freedoms and opportunities the exiled community has greatly benefitted from in the USA. In the same breath that it denounces the surveillance of the police state in Castro's Cuba and its torture of dissidents - and the lack of economic opportunity for those who want to work and better themselves and their country - it notes that America "still has its injustices" (which is true, of course - like it's true of every other country, ever), but the contrast is too great - the abject economic and political misery of the average Cuban versus the political freedom and economic opportunity for the exiled community in America - for the contrast between the two countries to be missed.

    I can't recommend a 300 page novel just for a good fifty or so pages, but hopefully, this young author's future books will have more writing similar to those strong passages.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
  12. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    "The New Inquisition," by Konrad Heiden.

    This is the most important book about the Holocaust that most people have never heard of -- because it was published in 1939 by a devotedly anti-Nazi German journalist with an international price on his head, and published in the US by the small, left-leaning Starling Press. It did not attract much attention on its initial release, except in left-wing circles, where it was extensively discussed and heavily distributed, and mainstream readers remained oblivious to the book.

    Which is very very unfortunate, because Konrad Heiden here laid out in explicit and meticulous detail exactly what the Nazi government of Germany was then doing to the Jews, and, even more significantly, what it intended to do. Americans were aware of "The Night of Broken Glass," November 9-10, 1938, which received extensive publicity in the mainstream press, and Heiden takes advantage of this familiarity to start his story with an extremely detailed description of the events of that night, as told by eyewitnesses. And from there, he moves into a discussion of the concentration camp system which was already well underway, with Sachsenhausan, Buchenwald, and Dachau the most notorious operations, with extensive testimony from prisoners who had escaped or had otherwise gotten their accounts to the outside.

    These camps were not extermination camps, not yet, but after a careful examination of the specific methods used to break the prisoners, Heiden lays out a prediction:

    "Mass murder is the goal, a massacre such as history has not seen -- certainly not since Tamerlane and Mithridates. We can only venture guesses as to the technical forms such mass executions are to take...

    "Viewing the events of recent years, no one today can still afford to take lightly any sentence from the book Mein Kampf. Men high up in the regime are fond of using the term 'to push the button,' though their listeners are never quite sure whether the mocking tone should be taken seriously. Often they add the explanation -- still in jocular vein: to assemble all Jews in a large hall and then to release the gas by pressing a button."


    Heiden's most important point in this book was and is a vital one: one of the hallmarks of a dangerous fanatic is that he gives off plenty of warnings before taking action. Often he will tell you exactly what he plans to do -- and then he goes ahead and does it. Those who hear those warnings and do nothing bear a substantial share of the guilt for what follows.
     
    ChiTownScion likes this.
  13. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
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    Location:
    New York City
    ⇧ Throw into the mix, mainstream movies such as "The Mortal Storm" and "Night Train to Munich -" both from 1940 (and there were others) - and while not fully showing the horror of the camps, it was another way that someone not closing his or her mind to the evidence would know something very bad was going on in German even before the US entered the war.
     
  14. Bushman

    Bushman My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,145
    Location:
    Chicago
    Finished Peter Pan in a day. Now I'm reading "Fear" by Bob Woodward.
     
  15. RBH

    RBH Bartender

    [​IMG]

    Currently I am reading G-Man by Stephen Hunter.
    The Bob Lee Swagger character is loosely based on my 1st cousin.
    So far its a fun read!
     
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  16. Woodtroll

    Woodtroll Practically Family

    Messages:
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    I enjoyed that book. Hunter's take on the historical records, and the way he "adjusts" them to his plot, is interesting but not over the top.
     
    RBH likes this.
  17. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,542
    Location:
    Chicago, IL US
    SCOTUS slip, American Legion v American Humanist Association...the usual suspects dissented....
     
  18. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon.

    This is one of those books I remember making a big hubbub when it came out, and I'd always meant to get around to reading it. Well, all of a sudden it's nearly twenty years since I resolved to do that, so when I saw a dog-eared paperback copy in the slush bin at Goodwill this week for a buck, I figured the time has come.

    Given that the novel tells a story set against the world of the comic-book industry in the years just before the war, I had conflicted feelings about it -- that being a subject I have firm views on, and I didn't want to invest time in reading a book that would end up annoying me with unfounded conclusions or disappointing me with sloppy research. So far, those concerns have proven unfounded -- there are minor irritations, mostly petty anachronisms, but generally speaking both the setting and the themes run true. The book follows the careers of two young Siegel-and-Shuster-like naifs who create a blockbuster comic-book success called "The Escapist," and end up ruthlessly exploited by their publisher, but Jerry and Joe are sitting pretty compared to Josef Kavalier -- a militantly anti-Nazi refugee from Czechoslovakia whose comic panels explode with gory vengeance -- and Sammy Clay, a sexually-confused young man who tries at all times to create the impression that he knows what he's doing even when he doesn't.

    Along the way, Joe and Sammy meet and interact with quite a few real-life comics figures, including Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, and Bob Kane, and some of their experiences are loose adaptations of events from the actual lives of these and other personalities. Chabon does a good job of blurring the line between fiction and reality here, giving you the sense that the story is set in one of those comic-book alternate universes where history unfolded just slightly different from our own. Occasional footnotes citing scholarly references concerning Joe and Sammy's activities heighten this illusion.

    Nevertheless, I'm not having as much fun with this book as I thought I would. If I have a beef, it's that Chabon writes like a "writer," in that self-conscious aint-I-clever way that throws in flossy descriptions of mundanities wherever they'll fit, and often where they just get in the way of the prose. Now, one writer who actually did this in comics to the point where you wanted to scream was Jerry Siegel himself, who never let grammar or syntax get in the way when he wanted to toss in a ten-cent word, and I haven't decided yet if Chabon is doing a deliberate parody of Siegel's style in these passages, or if he's serious. I'd prefer the former to the latter. And I guess I'm really not buying the idea that "The Escapist" -- a weird amalgamation of Superman, Captain America, and Harry Houdini -- was a character and concept that would have set the world on fire. From what his stories sound like, he'd have more likely ended up one of those throwaway characters in the back pages of a second-line Quality comic, between the adventures of Bozo The Robot and an ad for Tootsie Rolls.

    Meanwhile, I hear that the Metropolitan Opera has commissioned an opera based on "Kavalier and Clay," and I await with great enthusiasm seeing Jonas Kaufmann hurtling across our screen as "The Escapist" some Saturday afternoon.
     
  19. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,050
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Worth taking a look at is The Conversations by Ondaatje and Walter Murch, the editor of The English Patient movie. They discuss novels and film and being the first and then the last creative talent to work on a story. This is especially interesting because the movie was considerably different and yet retained so much of the feeling of the novel to such an extent that few people ever noticed. Ondaatje seems to have liked the films and he and Murch are good foils for one another. Walter Murch is the only person to have ever had a movie win best picture AND sound editing TWICE: Apocalypse Now and The English Patient. He tends to find Directors to work with who shoot a great deal of material and give him wide latitude in how he assembles it, often playing fast and loose with the original plan.
     
  20. Julian Shellhammer

    Julian Shellhammer Practically Family

    Messages:
    532
    Finished Red Harvest and immediately started The Maltese Falcon. Hammett does what he does extremely well: stand-out characters, convoluted mysteries, some notable turns of phrases, and a sense for the reader that these sorts of things really happened, or could have happened.
     

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