June 19, 2005

Tag- I'm It

In which Matt Welch makes up for being too old to haze my ass at the Nexus, and I lament again that I was too young to be there with he and Mr. Superstar Juror and all them other Legends Of Yore (not that my esteemed contemporaries were slouches- on the contrary). Disadvantages to me because (1) I failed to check Technorati, obviously, and (2) he must have figured out that these surveys are like kryptonite to me, even though I'm not so good at them anymore. Oh, not to mention (3) at this late date I have no one to pass this on to. Crap.


1. The total number of books I own
Uh, it's less than before. I must be the least well-read of anyone holding a BA in English.

2. The last book I bought
Well, technically it's a big coffee-table monster called "The Art Of Modern Rock" and it's all about gig posters. Before that I bought "Mapping Mars" by Oliver Morton, mostly, um, for the cool graphics of what Mars would look like if it had an ocean.

3. The last book I read
Re-read my brother's copy of "The Greco-Persian Wars" by Peter Green. Bryn likes that one slightly more than Green's "Alexander Of Macedon" which is the one I prefer. Green has a no-holds-barred way of writing about classical history that's refreshingly frank and un-stuffy, especially when he's eviscerating other scholars' sloppy assertions.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me
It's late and I'm lazy, so I think I'll make this the Dumbed-Down Deadly Nostalgia Of Youth version (since my 10 year high school reunion is nigh). In no special order:

My copy of "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" that blew my 16-year-old mind. Dogeared and highlighted to death. That was also the copy that Emily read before we went on our first date, to see the Gilliam film version with Depp/Del Toro. She liked it.

A similarly debased copy of Bill Flanagan's "U2 At The End Of The World" (Laugh all you want) in which the author manages to convey the supposed insanity of the Zoo TV tour and the general insanity of any rock tour. It nevertheless was one of my inspirations to write about music.

"Strike Two" by Ron Luciano. As a little-leaguer in 3rd grade I found this umpire's memoirs hilarious, especially his career-spanning feud with O's freakazoid manager Earl Weaver. Worth the price of admission alone for the chapter about baseball in Latin America, "The Dictator Is Always Right".

"Warrior Scarlet" by Rosemary Sutcliff. This might have been one of the historical fiction books I was read as a child that got me interested in actually studying history and geography at a relatively young age. It's fairly mundane stuff, now that I think about it, set in pre-Roman Britain, but that's not the reason it's here. What I remember about this is how it was read to me- during an unusually cold California wintertime in front of a roaring fireplace. My mom read it to my brother, sister, and I (this may have been close to the year my parents separated) after we'd decorated the Christmas tree- she read it to us by the lights on the tree and by the firelight. Hell of a way to engross a kid in a story about grubby peat-diggers who painted themselves blue.

...and finally...Unknown Title/Author: I had this tome about the conquistadors when I was a kid that had three sections- one for Cortes/Mexico, one for Pizarro/Peru, and an introduction explaining the leadup to Iberian craziness in the Americas. The idea was that the newly-Christian Spain had all these illiterate, religiously zealous, maniacally violent soldiers on its hands, and no more Muslims to kill on the peninsula, so off they went to the new world. Cortez is torn several new assholes, and so is the aged Pizarro, not to mention other contemporaneous swashbuckling jerks. The book also spares no niceties for the cannibalism, cultural appropriation, and oppression of the Aztecs, as well as indicating the sheer zonked docility (until it was too late) of the Inca in the face of the brutal Pizarro clan. Anyway, the book was hardcover and was missing its dust jacket, so I remember it as a red cover with a gold conquistador helmet in the center. I have no idea what it was called or who wrote it and it has been lost in the several moves that my mom and stepdad made in the past decade. The historical period it covers is one of my favorites, though, and I miss it greatly.

So there you have it. I may be a competent writer sometimes, but a Titan Of Letters I surely am not.

I feel like I should mention other Real Books that I've read, but people are still gonna snicker since they're things by Rushdie and Ellis and other well-known megalomaniacs. I think I should also be congratulated for eschewing the Thrown In Random Classic like Gatsby or Sound & Fury or whatever. I mean, I love lots of those too, but I couldn't write about them right now and not sound pompously fake (or at worst like a Nick Hornby geek-boy). Oh well. The chain ends here, folks...


  1. contempories, yes. esteemed ... debatable.

  2. well, you guys all did much more work than I did anyway what with being editors and all.


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