Book Revku, Vol. 12

A sample of Studs
An unmistakable voice
Born through listening

P.S.: Further Thoughts From a Lifetime of Listening by Studs Terkel (226 pp.)

Book Revku, Vol. 11

The chalk one was rough
But the other essays sing
He makes me jealous

Silk Parachute
by John McPhee (227 pp.)


The 50-A-Day Project: The First 10 Books

I've made it through 3,278 pages of 10 books so far, which I think is about how many books I read all of last year (since I'm late in writing this, I'm actually a little ahead of that...over 3,500 and on the 12th book). So that makes me feel pretty good. Here are some of the highlights.

Best Fiction Book: Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky by Patrick Hamilton
Best Nonfiction Book: The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
Toughest Read: John Burroughs: Naturalist by Elizabeth Burroughs Kelley
Easiest Read: Early Royko by Mike Royko
Number of Books on Loan: 1 (Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Cameron Crowe). Thanks, Kelly!
Number of Books Given as Gifts: 3 (John Burroughs: Naturalist by Elizabeth Burroughs Kelley, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett, A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan). Thanks Bryan and Josh!
Number of Books Signed by the Author: 3 (Libra by Don DeLillo, My Life Outside the Ring by Hulk Hogan, Uncommon Carriers by John McPhee)
Book That Was Sitting on the Shelf the Longest
: Libra by Don DeLillo, purchased in, I think, 1997, at the Ithaca College Bookstore. Worth the wait, too. It's probably my favorite of the DeLillo books I've read.

Best Paragraph:
"For there is this about men. You can embitter and torment them from birth. You can make them waiters and sailors (like Bob) when they want to be authors. You can make them (as Bob and most of them were made) servants of their passions--weak--timorous--querulous--vain--egotistic--puny and afraid. Then, having made them so, you can trick them and mock them with all the implements of fate--lead them on, as Bob was led on, only to betray them, obsess them with hopeless dreams, punish them with senseless accidents, and harass them with wretched fears. You can buffet them, bait them, enrage them--load upon them all evils and follies in this vale of obstruction and tears. But, even at that, there is yet one thing that you cannot do. You can never make them, under any provocation, say die. And therein lies their acquittal."
from Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky by Patrick Hamilton

More revkus to follow (I hope). And I'll check in again when I hit 20.

Book Revku, Vol. 10

Not the best or worst
Of the wrestling books I've read
Yes, there are a few

My Life Outside the Ring by Hulk Hogan (304 pp.)

Book Revku, Vol. 9

A few went right past
But when he's on, he's the best
At putting you there

Uncommon Carriers by John McPhee (248 pp.)

Book Revku, Vol. 8

A tough go in spots
But, like the mountains he loved,
Worth all the climbing

John Burroughs: Naturalist by Elizabeth Burroughs Kelley (260 pp.)

Book Revku, Vol. 7

That November day
Was not something I dwelled on
But this made me think

Libra by Don DeLillo (458 pp.)

Book Revku, Vol. 6

I would not have guessed
That the tale of a book thief
Would be a great read

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett (258 pp.)

Book Revku, Vol. 5

Columns: a lost art
He was one of the masters
Though sometimes he slipped

Early Royko by Mike Royko (214 pp.)

Book Revku, Vol. 4

Quite deftly written
Until the PowerPoint slides
Then it gets too weird

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (274 pp.)

Book Revku, Vol. 3

We all have our flaws
And they'll likely defeat us
But still we press on

Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky by Patrick Hamilton (511 pp.)

Book Revku, Vol. 2

He's Shotgun Willie
And the Red-Headed Stranger
But that's just the start

Willie Nelson: An Epic Life by Joe Nick Patoski (498 pp.)

Book Revku, Vol. 1

Yes, your prayers have been answered! The revku has returned! But this year I'll be devoting my vast 17-syllable skills to the books I'll be reading as part of my 2011 resolution: the 50-A-Day Project, wherein I vow to read 50 pages for fun/personal edification everyday of 2011 (not that the stuff I read from 9 to 5, five days a a week, isn't a bucket of personally edifying fun, of course, but I'm focusing more on reading away from the computer screen). I realized that I hadn't been reading much for fun anymore, and that I felt a little dumber because of that. And I also wanted to stick up for the printed and bound word (no Kindle for me). And since I have five overflowing bookshelves in my apartment, it seemed like a good idea to knock the dust off of a few jackets.

So far, so good: I'm actually averaging almost 70 pages a day. Yes, I'm bragging. At least until you start seeing some of the books I've been reading. Then the time for bragging will most certainly be over.

I won't necessarily be posting these as I finish the books, so don't think I've failed if you don't see some revkus for a bit. And I'll pause after every 10 to give a non-revku rundown on the state of things. At least in terms of reading. For a wider state of things, you'll probably have to speak to me. And I don't generally speak in haiku, so don't expect that.

Anyway, here we go.

The book is just fine
But the movie is better
Thanks to Phoebe Cates

Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Cameron Crowe (253 pp.)


Soundtracks I Have Loved: UHF

Soundtrack: UHF
Year Released: 1989
I Bought It On: Cassette, which I can't find, and I am not pleased about that
How Does It Hold Up?: Your question insults me

Track Listing

1. Money For Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies
2. Gandhi II
3. Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters From a Planet Near Mars
4. Isle Thing
5. The Hot Rocks Polka
6. UHF

7. Let Me Be Your Hog
8. She Drives Like Crazy
9. Generic Blues
10. Spatula City
11. Fun Zone
12. Spam
13. The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota

What more can be said about the genius of "Weird Al" Yankovic? Well, as it turns out, one more blog post's worth. And then there will be no more left to say. We will merely speak his name, perhaps listen to a song or two, and then nod knowingly.

But, first, this edition of Soundtracks I Have Loved, which will examine the genius of Mr. Yankovic through the prism of what may be his greatest achievement, the cinematic tour de force (I'm debating whether to change that to tour de farce...hmmm...nah, let's leave it) UHF and its companion soundtrack.

UHF, one of many excellent films featuring cinema's greatest little person actor, Billy Barty (see also Body Slam, which also starred Roddy Piper, Captain Lou Albano, and Charles Nelson Reilly...do you really have to ask if I have the soundtrack?), has lost very little of its charm over the years. I could, I suppose, see how the charm might not be for everyone, but, well, if you're one of those people, you've clearly stumbled upon the wrong blog. You may now leave.

For those who have stayed, here are the best five seconds of UHF--maybe the best five seconds in film history (sorry, Asian people).

Or perhaps you prefer "Wheel of Fish":

Maybe you're a "Spatula City" fan:

What I'm getting at is that you're bound to find something to laugh at in UHF. And if you don't, well, hey, good for you. Enjoy your life of dullness and snobbery. Jerk.

Only the last of three clips above (along with "Gandhi II"..."no more Mr. Passive Resistance") is on the soundtrack, which features both songs included in the movie and some other stuff floating around Mr. Yankovic's sainted head at the time, both parodies and otherwise. Of the otherwise, I had a particular fondness for the big finale of "Generic Blues" ("Maybe I'll blow my brains out mama, or maybe I'll just go bowling instead) and the ridiculousness and bombast of "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota", which I can only hope will be the next kids' book he writes (here's the first one). I was less pumped up about "Attack of the Radioactive Hamsters From a Planet Near Mars" and the title song. But the latter grew on me. And the video's excellent.

Oddly enough, the parodies on the soundtrack aren't among Mr. Yankovic's finest ("She Drives Like Crazy" is particularly weak, but, then again, maybe I just hate the original), though "Isle Thing" has its moments and fits the soundtrack theme well, as does "Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies," which gets bonus points for having Mark Knopfler actually playing on it (thus enabling his guitar work on the song to be more easily heard in Canada.

But the soundtrack's best parody is easily "Spam." Weird Al and food are almost always a home run.

"Spam," however, is not the reason why I loved the soundtrack to UHF (nor is the 17-second "Let Me Be Your Hog" or the theme to Stanley Spadowski's Clubhouse, "Fun Zone", though I have no quarrel with either). No, the song most likely to make me rewind my cassette over and over again was the unbelievably awesome "Hot Rocks Polka" not only one of my favorite Weird Al songs, but also one of my favorite polkas. And that's me saying it, so take heed.

I could listen to that every day and not grow tired of it. In fact, I might start doing that. Hooray...a new goal in life!

And so ends this SIHL installment and my praise of our greatest parodist (and fantastic live performer...honest...go see him and you'll agree) "Weird Al" Yankovic. Actually, to be honest, my praise will never stop. I lied at the beginning of the post.



What I Liked About January

*Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, Canal Room, NYC
*Nate Balber's first birthday party
*Alejandro Escovedo, City Winery, NYC
*Cheap Trick doing "Dream Police" on Conan

*Bouncing back from a Time's Up loss
*Sarah Jarosz, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC
*Bobby Bare Jr. House Concert, Jersey City, NJ
*Another snow day

*Maybe Pete, Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ
*Meeting some Sigmans
*Holding to the New Year's resolution
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places