Monthly Archives: May 2010

Tinkers.

“George Washington Carver began to hallucinate eight days before he died”

So begins Tinkers by Paul Harding and boy oh boy. How do I say this?

How do I say a book sucks?

How do I dare say that something someone worked on, putting their heart and soul into for months and maybe years and managed to find an agent and a publisher and got it finally out there and received accolades and a Pulitzer Prize and how dare I say it sucks?

But.

It’s awful.

Or maybe I’m not deep enough or smart enough to plumb the depths of this tiny little white book about a guy dying and dreaming of his dead father. Or maybe, kinda like feeding caviar to a puppy, it was just wasted on me- but I just didn’t get it.

I kept waiting and reading and wanting the story to build, for it to do something other than simply chronicle George’s death. But it didn’t.

It sucked.

Next on the dog pile- Continental Drift by Russell Banks

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Reality.TV?

I was just gettin’ ready to sit down, hoping tonight was the night I’d write that world class stellar post, that somethin’ somethin’ that even my mom and Miss Carol would be proud of and maybe even read.

But then I got to watching Deadliest Catch again.

And my incessantly constant laziness kicked in and I thought, ya know, maybe familial pride and readership is overrated and maybe I’ll just take the easy road, ’cause I’m all about easy, and write about the Alaskan King Crab fishermen again.

Quick sidebar-These guys are, without a doubt, the hardest people I’ve ever seen and, as a guy myself, as much as I might like to think I could throw myself up against that life and somehow prevail, or at least survive, I know in my heart of hearts that I couldn’t.

But. Still and nonetheless, I wanna think I could or should?

So, anyway, I started googling for Deadliest Catch pictures because taking photos of the TV doesn’t work so well anymore and as soon as I googled it?

I found out that Captain Phil Harris died.

And it stopped me and deflated me.

Captain Phil ran the Cornelius Marie and was a hugely colorful character, as they all are. He’d had his share of medical problems in the last year or so but, well, damn. And fuck.

So I sat back and thought, hey, it’s not like I’ve ever met him, or ever would, or for that matter might not even ever want to.

But still.

I found myself strangely saddened by his passing. For reasons I can’t even begin to describe, I was suddenly missing him, even as the show kept spooling out on the TV behind me and-a-still-alive-Captain-Phil hauled his strings and cursed his crew and smoked his endless cigarettes. And I wondered what his sons and crew who work the boat with him would do without him at the helm, even though I have NO connection with him whatsoever except via me watching a TV show.

And then it got worse. I realized that blogging and reading and caring about fellow bloggers is kinda the same kinda shit.

I’m all caught up in the lives of strangers that I’ve become close to, having never met them.

And it’s cool.

‘Cept it makes ya think, ya know?

Dog On It.

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn is, in a word, cute.

Miss Carol brought this book home from the hospital she works at saying that one of the staff had given it to her to read. Since I was between books I got to read it first.

After the first page I was ready to throw in the towel. Or maybe just throw up. I imagined the person at the hospital that had given Miss Carol Dog On It must’ve been one of those little old ladies that volunteer and answer the phones and stuff and probably think that EVERYbody likes the same little books that her little granddaughter likes.

It was that bad.

But I was too lazy to get up and go find something else to read so I opened up another beer and condescendingly kept plowing along, positive that I was wasting my time.

And ya know what?

I’m kinda glad I did. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Dog On It will never be mistaken for literature but it’s cute and honestly? Spencer Quinn does a really good job of getting inside of Chet the dog’s head and giving us a dog’s thoughts and viewpoint.

The story is the first(??) of the Chet and Bernie mysteries and is totally predictable but it’s fast and easy to read and you don’t have to think too much and did I mention it’s cute? Also, at the very end,

Whoops, hold it, hold on a sec-

What’s that sweethoneybabychile? No, nothin’, just messin’ around on my goofy little blog. Why?

You wanna do what?

NOW???

I’m ON IT!

Gotta go, gotta run, Miss Carol wants to go get nekkid in the hot tub. seeya.

Next in the pile- Tinkers by Paul Harding

NASCAR NEVERMORE?

Sorry about the photographs. They’re not mine. They were scraped with bleeding fingernails from the internet. Maybe it’s just my lack of net-savviness or maybe it’s NASCAR’s lockdown on everything NASCAR but this is what I was stuck with once I found it, given the ten minutes I spent searching.

If I hadn’t been so lazy I would’ve brought my own camera on Saturday. But I was lazy.

So anyway.

Saturday arrived and we arrived at the track not really ready for the onslaught. It was AMAZING. Overnight the crowds had tripled and quadrupled and NASCAR NATION was throbbing and hot and ready for the race.

The sheer numbers of fans was mind numbing, but and yet, kinda comforting?

So anyway.

We went up to the sky suite and ate and drank some more and went down to the Midway which is the most amazing marketing thing I’ve ever seen, complete with the drivers themselves in person signing shit. What other sport has the talent in full access mode? I’m starting to love NASCAR.

After that was the pre-race obligatory pit-row visit. It’s kinda like staring at things that kinda look like cars, but aren’t?

So anyway.

Back to the sky suite where the beer was cold and the food was hot and ever-changing. More munching and chugging, and then finally it was time for the big race.

Ya gotta hand it to NASCAR, they make an event an EVENT. After the blessing and after the national anthem and after the fly-over and after the para-jumpers and after the salutes to God and country the big boys of NASCAR cranked it up and wheeled onto the track.

The excitement was palpable and went up a coupla hitches. As those roaring cars circled the track, warming up, with the flags fluttering and blowing everywhere and NASCAR NATION screaming its want and need and all of it building to a wildly exhilarating crescendo I couldn’t help but get caught up in it.

And then the start.

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(and again, sorry for the shitty photograph and my inbred laziness)

The Start.

Honestly, I think it’s what welds NASCAR fans into a NASCAR NATION and maybe me into a NASCAR maybe-fan. The Start makes you stand and whoop and holler knowing at that instant you’re solving all the problems of the world with your mightyness and the mightyness of all your buds around you. And you’re drunk with the power of it all. It’s that strong.

But then? After that high? The race goes on.

And on. And on. And, um on?

And even though it’s brutally loud and the smell is a thick soup of burnt jet fuel and burning rubber the circling and brutally loudness is trumped with the all day drinking and eating and all the sudden? You’re asleep.

And you wake up and you realize the race is over and the guy that had been leading, like forever, somehow lost on the final lap or something which has gotta just suck.

(and again with the crappy photo)

So you clear the thunder from your ears, suck down another beer or two and head out.

Would I do it again?

HELL YES.

On Sunday driving home I was thinking maybe that’s enough NASCAR for me, but ya know what? after a week to think about it, I think maybe I need it?

NASCAR Nation.

A quick aside before I get into Saturday’s race.

Yep, this is just gonna keep goin’ on and on. Kinda just like a NASCAR race.

And ya know what? Maybe it should. A NASCAR race is a marathon. And granted, my NASCAR marathon was one of eating and drinking and hanging out and watching cars hurl themselves around a circular track, but, hey, it’s a marathon nonetheless.

So back to the quick aside.

NASCAR fans are amazingly and beautifully rabid. Holy shit. They’re the warmest, most genuine and friendliest tattooed and pierced folks you’ll ever meet.

I’m thinkin’ that maybe because of the frenzied love of their sport, they manage to somehow get along and share a communal experience on a weekend basis with hundreds of thousands of their closest buds?

I’ve never, ever, seen anything like it.

That you can cram a whole bunch of possibly, probably, volatile folks into a hopped up, high octane fueled, super-charged, environment armed with coolers full of cold beer and force them sit all day waiting for a night time race in the hot sun on aluminum bleachers is amazing enough.

But that around six-pack number two, the fights don’t break out was way surprising to me. That tattooed beer bellied nipple pierced Bubba doesn’t get really tired of tattooed beer bellied nipple pierced Bobba staring at his chick’s halter top and starts whaling on him in the hot humidness was (is?), I think, truly amazing.

But they don’t.

They all hang out. They drink and yell and scream and mostly just take their numbered, speedy-looking, NASCAR tee-shirts off and wave ’em around like the flags that’re flying everywere.

The NASCAR Nation clumps together, becoming a huge ONE-ness, an entity bigger than it’s parts, something cool to watch. And the best part?

Nobody gets pissed off- everybody hangs and has fun.

Maybe the rest of the world should be takin’ a lesson from these people.

Just sayin’.

NASCAR Newbies.

So we got up there on Friday afternoon. There being Richmond International Raceway and Miss Carol’s and me’s first ever NASCAR experience.

Our friends, the ones paying for all of this, were chomping at the bit to get to the track and I was, as usual, running late and, as usual, pissing everyone off.

But we got there.

I don’t know what I was expecting.

It was actually pretty deserted and we all drank and ate in the sky box and watched qualifying which our friends who were paying for all of this assured us was important but from what I could tell, it seemed like everybody that got on the track and went roaring around qualified for the race.

But maybe that’s just me, maybe I was missing something. Hey, it’s not like that’d be anything new.

So anyway. We drank and ate the day away and before I knew it, it was time for the Nationwide race which, according to our friends is kinda like a warm up band, a lead-in, a teaser, to the main event.

And it was way cool.

It was loud and racy and we ate and drank and watched and went back to the hotel and drank some more.

But ya know what? In the cold hard light of Saturday morning I found myself sitting on the edge of the bed, staring out the hotel window, wondering about this NASCAR stuff. I wasn’t quite sure it it was something that I needed in my life.

continued….