Archive: October, 2009
Book Quarterly Giveaway Week is coming to a close, and since Tuesday was giveaway-less, we're tripling our efforts today to make up for it.
In the pages of last week's very-wild Book Quarterly, you'll find reviews of Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked; David Byrne's Bicycle Diaries; and Barbara Kingsolver's The Lacuna. Our critics swooned over these titles, so we figured it'd be nice to share.
But before we do, read snippets of the reviews:
Bicycle Diaries: "David Byrne doesn't ride a fixie. Nor is he training for the Tour de France. Instead, the former Talking Head represents an oft-forgotten segment of the biking population: commuters who also like to leisurely explore neighborhoods from their banana seats. And Byrne is a famous musician with a folding bike, so he gets around. Bicycle Diaries collects his observations biking in about 15 cities, including Berlin, Buenos Aires and his home base of New York. (No chapter on Philly, sadly.) Everywhere he goes, Byrne maintains an open curiosity about his surroundings, delivered in a smart yet unfussy writing style that isn't far removed from his lyrics." Michael Pelusi
Juliet, Naked: "Annie, railing against a partner she never loved and his obsessive-compulsive devotion to forgotten rock 'n' roller Tucker Crowe, posts an against-the-grain review of a recently released Tucker album. Her successful, if unorthodox, analysis drives her boyfriend into the arms of another woman and, like a magnet, sucks Tucker out of his 20-year silence, straight into her English orbit. During those lost years, Tucker surrounded himself with ex-wives who pity him and children who don't know him. His loneliness, like Annie's, just slowly happened as life went on around him. Recognizing kindred spirits, Annie and Tucker sweetly and powerfully begin making up for lost time." Char Vandermeer
The Lacuna: "A lacuna, Kingsolver's powerful new novel explains, is 'an opening, like a mouth, that swallows things,' and Harrison Shepherd, 11, dragged from 1929 America by his husband-hunting mother, finds one offshore in Mexico. When tides cooperate, his underwater passage leads to a secret opening in the nearby jungle. Later, when Harrison mixes plaster, cooks, types for Diego Rivera and becomes Frida Kahlo's confidant, he defines lacuna as 'a missing piece, a hole in the story.' Kingsolver's no name-dropper: The passionate painters appear long before they're identified, and Harrison's lack of ego he journals in third person makes him a wise, incisive observer." Mark Cofta
To win a copy of one of these three books, answer this BQ-related (that's a hint) trivia question:
Maurice Sendak is working on a new children's book. What's the working title?
E-mail your answers to email@example.com, and be sure to tell me which book you'd like. One book per winner. Thanks for playing!
Sunday night at 8-ish, I drove around my East Passyunk neighborhood looking and looking and looking for a parking space and finally found one on the 900 block of teeny-tiny Fernon, between Tasker and Morris. This is not an unusual way to spend an evening.
The next morning, my car was gone as were the rest of the vehicles on that block replaced by monster street-destroying trucks, sitting there munching on the asphalt on which I'd treaded just 12 hours before.
Shit, the impound lot. I've seen Parking Wars. I don't want to go there.
So I called 311, our non-emergency info line. The busy, sorta annoyed 311 folks told me that sometimes the city "relocates" cars for paving purposes, and that if I called the Streets Department they could tell me where exactly my car was. They transferred me.
The Streets Department lady, while griping that the 311 people shouldn't have transferred me to her, was very helpful and looked up my plate number on various slow-moving computer screens till she eventually came to the conclusion that, since the relocation had just occurred, my plate probably wasn't in the system yet. I should poke around the neighborhood, and if I still can't find my car, call my local Police Department (holler, Fourth District).
So I poked. Up 10th street, down Ninth, in and out of the little streets I couldn't imagine a tow truck could even squeeze through. I even walked up and down the aisles of the Acme parking lot like a crazy person, but nada.
This morning I called the Fourth District, and the busy, sorta annoyed lady on the phone told me that the tow companies who relocate cars for paving don't record plate numbers, or where they put the cars. "It's probably in a five-block radius of where you parked it," she said. "Just look around for it, and if you don't find it, call 911."
Now, I don't really consider this an emergency emergency I don't rely on my car, I just kinda want to, y'know, know where it is so I'll be spending the evening combing the streets of South Philly, again, on what's starting to seem like a never-ending scavenger hunt for my silver Honda. (Which is, apparently, the same car everyone else in South Philly drives, too.)
Is this happening to other people? Is it taking you forever to actually find your relocated car? If the five-block-radius rule is true, then my car could be anywhere from Broad to Fourth, Federal to McKean. Wish me luck, and share your own relocation woes in the comments if you like.
What We've Found: Controversial Dutch pol at Temple, Egyptian veil-ban, Iraqi university violence, SCOTUS hears Uighurs, spy scientist and Philly Airport worker admits theft
Julia Harte with your mid-morning fix.
Over the protests of Temple University students, notorious anti-Islamic and anti-immigration Dutch politician Geert Wilders is speaking on campus tonight.
A senior cleric banned women from wearing full-face veils at Al-Azhar in Egypt, one of the most acclaimed schools of Sunni Islamic teaching, on the grounds that the garments have nothing to do with Islam and demonstrate "radicalism."
An armed group of Shiite students and faculty were terrorizing one of Iraq's most prestigious universities, causing Prime Minister al-Maliki, an alum, to temporarily close the institution.
The case of the Chinese Uighurs, a group of Guantanamo detainees who are still in custody even though they are no longer classified as "enemy combatants," will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
A Defense Department scientist is one of several federal figures facing espionage charges after he passed along classified U.S. satellite information to an FBI official pretending to be an Israeli intelligence officer.
A former Philadelphia International Airport worker pleaded guilty to stealing four laptops and a videogame from the luggage of airline passengers.
That's right, kids. Almost half of Americans now support your right to get high as a motherfuckin' kite, down a bag of Doritos and watch Adult Swim. For comparison, more Americans now favor legalizing the devil's weed than oppose healthcare reform. Just saying. The real story here is the generational divide. If you're under 50, chances are you're pro-pot. If you're over 65, you're not. (The olds also oppose healthcare reform, on account of wanting to keep the gubmint out of their Medicare or whatever, but that's a discussion for another day.) In other words, stoners, be patient.
In celebration of last night's epic walk-off victory with this pretty astounding Sporcle quiz: Name, in 15 minutes, every player to ever appear on an opening day lineup for the Fightin' Phils in the last 22 years.
Why 22? The quiz creator doesn't explain the methodology, but it looks to me that the 1988 lineup contains some of the last vestiges of the Phillies' late-70s/early-80s glory years. Following the lineups through the years is an oft-painful remembrance of the ugly rebuilding years of the early '90s and the ugly rebuilding years of the late'90s/early aughts.
Without taking the quiz first, can you name the player that shows up most frequently, and one of the players who appears just once?
|Hyperion, 288 pp.,
$25.99, Oct. 12
In anticipation of Eoin Colfer's talk tonight at the Free Library, we're giving away a copy of his just-out And Another Thing â¦ , a continuation of the late Douglas Adams' sci-fi masterpiece The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Colfer's event (7:30 p.m., free, Free Library, Central Branch, 1901 Vine St., 215-567-4341, freelibrary.org) kicks off his U.S. tour and as a special treat, the library will be giving out "Don't Panic" towels as well as special limited Hitchhiker's editions, while supplies last.
Said Colfer (whose first name is pronounced "Owen," FYI) of the Guide: "Being given the chance to write this book is like suddenly being offered the superpower of your choice. For years I have been finishing this incredible story in my head and now I have the opportunity to do it in the real world."
From the novel's press release:
When last we saw Arthur Dent, our towel-toting hero had traveled the length, breadth, and depth of known, and unknown, space. No sooner had he made his way home to (one rather pleasant version) planet Earth than he discovered that it was about to be blown up â¦ again. Since 1997, Hitchhiker's fans have featured Arthur and friends dead, but now, in And Another Thing â¦ , Eoin Colfer revives Adams' beloved characters using his own brand of humor to propel them through another intergalactic screwball adventure.
To win a copy, be the first to answer this trivia question:
In City Paper's Food section last month, we asked a local bartender to reimagine what Hitchhiker's interstellar cocktail?
E-mail your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win.
The memes are flowing fast and furious here in Red October. In our inbox today: The Cliff Lee Clutch Bar, a send up of the Clif energy bar and an homage to the Phillies' postseason ace.
Still in search of a source of this bit of graphic noodlery, which has been up on the Cliff Lee Facebook fan page since. Oct. 7 but which no one seems to be taking credit for there.
What's the best Phillies meme of this post season?
What We've Found: AIDS march, pre-diabetic Brits, feds relax pot policy, DNA indictments, Philly cop faces rape charge and Delaware diocese delays trial with bankruptcy filing
Julia Harte with your morning fix.
Fifteen thousand people met outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art and walked along the Schuylkill to raise money and awareness for victims of HIV/AIDS, which afflicts Philadelphians at a rate five times the national average.
7 million Brits were diagnosed with "pre-diabetes" -- a condition of extra-high blood sugar levels, which makes someone twelve times more likely to get diabetes than a regular individual -- by the charity Diabetes UK.
Medical marijuana users and suppliers who conform to their state's law on the treatment will no longer be arrested by federal agents, Obama mandated in new policy guidelines that were sent to the Department of Justice.
New York City prosecutors were indicting the DNA profiles of miscreants in lieu of a real person, in rape cases where the actual criminal could not be identified but traces of DNA were left on the victim. So far, 18 DNA profile-indictments have led to the arrests of actual people.
A Philadelphia police officer was preparing to defend himself against charges of sexual assault after another officer caught him engaging in sexual acts with a prison inmate.
A sex abuse case against a Delaware Catholic diocese that was scheduled to be heard today was delayed by the diocese's last-minute decision to file for bankruptcy protection. The diocese bishop claimed that the move was necessary to ensure the diocese would be able to compensate all its claimants.
Friday: Ugh, it's gross to the max outside. Mama Omnibus calls movie night. Good thing the Philadelphia Film Fest is this weekend.! Or keep warm with giggles with Jill Bernard's singing-dancing-hilarity extravaganza Drum Machine.
Saturday: Pick up some t-shirts, jewelry and the other DIY-ables on hand at the Squidfire Art Mart and then wear them to see Paramore/Matt Haimovitz/the Arutro Stable Quintet. Your choice, Mama don't discriminate.
Sunday: Tattoos are a dime a dozen, but how many people can claim being tatted-up on board a Cruiser? Hop on the Landmark Olympia Cruiser for the Mighty Warship Olympia Tattoo Festival. Then strap on the lederhosen (is that German!?) for the Franconian Beers at Memphis Taproom. Firkins for all!
|Knopf, 688 pp., $26.95, Oct. 6|
Our Book Quarterly Giveaway Week continues with A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book, which, as Janet Anderson points out in her City Paper review, ain't for kids especially since it clocks in at a hefty 688 pages. Oof.
Byatt's novel, about Victorian idealists whose lives aren't quite as pristine as they'd like everyone to think, is already a best-seller in England and Canada, and was short-listed for this year's Man Booker Prize. (Her 1991 novel, Possession, is a Booker winner.)
From Anderson's review:
These middle-class folks engage in the most advanced ideas of their era socialism, Marxism, anarchism, anti-vivesectionism, theosophy, folklore analysis, women's rights, Fabianism. They celebrate a modern world of steamships, newspapers and electricity. Initially, it seems, they're living their utopian vision of human life to the fullest. But as the story unfolds, it becomes clear there's more afoot than individual righteousness. Family lines blur as parentage is questioned; relationships disintegrate as guilt, sex and greed enter the equation. This isn't a world opened up by enlightenment but real life, where people make bad choices, and connections between idealism and actuality lie only in the imagination.
To win a copy, answer the following trivia question:
What Roman general is the Fabian Society named after?
E-mail your answers to email@example.com for a chance to win. And check back with the Clog on Monday for a chance to win a copy of Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked.
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