Tuesday, November 3, 2009

LIVESTRONG CHALLENGE, Austin, October 25th

It has taken me some time to digest what the whole weekend was like, how it affected me, and probably all of the other people that were there. Also, it was a tough travel trip, well, tough being relative in the big picture, if you know what I mean.

Saturday morning I went down to the Austin Convention Center to pick up my rider packet, to see what the LAF had set-up for us to see. The thing that was most overwhelming, that even now staggers my mind, is the tribute site in the center of the hall, where so many of us put the names of family, loved one's, friends, who have been touched by this disease. To see the Survivor's, yes, with a Capital "S", celebrating, being celebrated. Everything came into an even clearer perspective for me, even though I knew why I was there.

When I picked up my rider packet, I was told that they no longer had 2-XL t-shirts, and I could have one from last year, but since I have had this time to ride, I decided to go ahead and take the Large, thinking I am in good enough shape to wear a smaller size! Unexpected benefits of unemployment, I guess.

I returned to the hotel, and had to go to a nearby cycling shop, as I had discovered that when I put my bike together late Friday night, early Saturday morning that the screws and nut on the seat post collar had rattled out during the flight. This was going to be just the beginning of my challenge, little did I know. As I rode the bike back to the hotel, I also noticed that the steerer felt loose in the headtube, which is a real problem, if any of you know what that means. I figured I could go out to the start Sunday morning and get this solved.

So, bright and early Sunday morning, I was off to the start line. Great guys from one of the local shops put an additional headset spacer in for me, tightened things up and then it was time to wait for the start of the ride. The greatest thing about the wait was that as Team Fat Cyclist members arrived, we automatically gravitated toward one another, and other riders were constantly shouting "GO FATTY!"

As I stood on the starting line, maybe all of the cyclists felt the same way, realizing the enormity of what these LIVESTRONG CHALLENGE rides and runs mean to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and as a result, to the thousands, perhaps millions of people who they have been able to reach to as a result of the fund-raising efforts of everyone involved.

There was constant chatter from the announcers about Team Fatty and Team Nagel, who raised just slightly more than we did, a great job by them, 11 members compared to our massive team! There were four groups up front, Lance and his buddies, Team Nagel, Team Fatty and the Ride for the Roses riders, who individually raised $10,000 or more.

Lance spoke, rolled out, and the wait was on for our start. Again, with his words, I think the mighty weight of the challenge of this fight against cancer became more apparent as we set out to ride.

As we started, I must admit that even though I knew that pacing myself for this ride was important, I tore out, pushing myself at 20-25 mph through the first 8-10 miles. I would eventually pay for this, although I didn't know it then! Well, I probably knew it then, I just didn't know how.

And when they describe this as Texas Hill Country, they aren't lying. And for any of you that think because I live in Denver I go up hills more easily, forget it. I'm still 6'3", 210#, and gravity still works against me! Even rolling hills are a big challenge for me, but it was something I relished.

My goal was to the 90 miles in roughly 8 hours. As I reached the turn-off to the 65/90 mile split, I experienced something that I had never felt before- a cramp in the top of my right quad, which is just above the knee cap. The muscle seized and I was a little concerned. I reached the split, talked to one of the medical support personnel, and made a decision to not do the full 90 miles, much to my own chagrin.

The hills continued, the camaraderie of the riders was truly wonderful. Wearing the distinctive black and pink of Team Fatty, with Team Fatty clearly on the back, made for a great ride. I rode a different pace, talking and laughing, listening to people's stories about why they were riding, talking to survivors, other Team Fatty members.

As I look back, the thing that has meant the most about this ride is the ability to contribute to something bigger than myself, to do something, in some small way, for those people who are so close to me, who have touched me with their stories.I realized how truly fortunate so many of us are, to forget the struggles of daily life for a few hours and be part of this collective committed to making a difference.

Team Fatty, 600 strong nation-wide, raised $790,000 for LAF. We fought like Susan, for AW, for Donna, for my grandfather, for Judith, for so many others. We aren't finished, there are so many more miles to ride. Elden Nelson has created something for all of us to be a part of, to help make a difference.

Thanks to all of you who helped make a difference!

Friday, October 2, 2009


Dear Friends and Family- On October 2nd, 1996, Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with Stage III testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain. Most of the story has now been written, seven-times Tour de France winner, youngest World Champion, multiple one-day race winner.

But the lasting impact of his recovery has been the creation of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and the work they do with cancer patients and their families around the world. Though cancer survivor rates have increased in the intervening years, the incidence of cancer diagnoses continues to increase.

On October 25th, I will join with more than a thousand other riders in Austin, TX, to participate in the LIVESTRONG Challenge ninety-mile bike ride. I am riding as a member of Team Fatty Riding for Susan, the wife of Elden Nelson, who passed away in August after a long fight with terminal breast cancer.

But I’m also riding for my grandfather, who battled prostate cancer, Kate’s mom, who has had successful chemo for cancer in her eye, Kate’s aunt Judith who we lost to cancer, and lost the a wonderful cook, for my friend Melanie’s cowboy father, A.W., fighting pancreatic cancer, for my friend Paul who’s beautiful wife, Donna, lost her battle with breast cancer this summer, as well, leaving family and friends behind.

We have all been touched, been hurt, have seen the way cancer effects our families and friends. I am asking you to help me make a difference, to help these families. We all know things are tight, and I am not asking you to do very much. I know I have many friends, so together we can all make a difference. Even ten dollars from each of you would make a significant contribution to the LAF. Please go to http://austin09.livestrong.org/buzzliteboy, where you can make an online donation, or download a form to mail in a contribution.

Thanks for supporting me in this endeavor. Kevin

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Travels with Norm (All Apologies to Calvin Trillin)

Then God sent the Greyhound to live among man and remember. And when the Day comes, God will call the Greyhound to give Testament, and God will pass judgement on man. (Persian Proverb)

At 3:45 PM on Saturday, August 1st, the Great Dog Norm was laid to rest. A gentle beast, Norm had been with us for just over five years. Many of you had met Norm, been subjected to the hypnotic gaze of his deep brown eyes. Not a single person had met Norm and walked away without thinking that this was a special and unique dog.

As I had pondered this day coming, I began to reflect on the short years we have had with Norm, and what he had brought to our lives. And the amusing things he had shown us.

I realized just last night why it was he was always so unenthusiastic about going for a walk. During his racing career, there was always a Grandstand Parade, before each race, then into the starting box and away they went, flying around the track, chasing Rusty. I believe that for Norm, the result of the walk was the chance to run. When we walked him, it was always back to the house, no run. Eventually, he learned this and decided that the walk was a lose-lose for him.

The car ride, though, always resulted in a run, or someplace new to explore. The mornings or afternoons I wold come home with a rag-arm, and Norm would come home exhausted because of the constant chasing of the Kong Ball around the field in Portland were the best days ever for him, I believe. He would not stop until I did, and usually, it was me that stopped first- the Kong is heavy and gets hard to throw.

The car ride also resulted to trips to the beach, wide open runs on sand so reminiscent of the track. I believe that there was actual joy emanating from his body as he raced between Katie and myself one spring on Gleneden Beach while we stayed at Pan-a-Seah. Up and down the beach, until his tongue was hanging from the side of his mouth.

But Norm taught me slowness, as well. To take time, to enjoy. The luxury of the late afternoon in the yard. The indulgence of a good stretch. Watch a Greyhound do “Downward Dog”, you don’t need a yoga instructor, trust me.

But most of all, Norm taught me to be gentle, and kind, that I will be judge. He was always patient with children, adults, with us. He looked at me, at us, with trusting eyes, knowing that we would always do right by him. Although today was difficult, and will be hard for a long time, it was what was right by him.

And on that Judgement Day, I hope Norm stands as witness for me, for us, and testifies that we did what was just.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

100 Miles To Nowhere!

This weekend, specifically Friday, I will be participating with 421 other people in the 100 Mile Ride to Nowhere. That's right, we will be riding nowhere, in the hopes of raising fund for the LiveSTRONG Foundation. Friday morning, I will don my fancy bike tights, saddle up and ride my bike trainer for what I expect to be about six hours, ON MY TRAINER, IN MY BASEMENT. Going nowhere. All in the hopes of raising more for the fight against cancer, for those who are fighting this deadly disease themselves, or for those who have friends, lovers, family, whomever, who have already lost the battle.

The many many and varied forms of this disease creeps into our lives and our conscience every day. We at Team Fatty have made a pledge to at least try to do our part, to increase the awareness, to have some fun at our own expense, to do what some of these folks can't.

We all have been touched by Cancer. It used to be the word no one said, a stigma. Now, thanks to organizations like LiveSTRONG, Komen, PanCan Action, the stigma is gone, but the reality is the same. These organizations are doing great things for the folks who have been diagnosed, who are in treatment, for their families, friends and loved ones.

So, what can you do to help?

There are two great opportunities for you here. One, you can go here, and contribute directly: https://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=294758&supid=224672663. You may have to cut and past that, or click the link on my home page here on Facebook.

Now, for any of you that ride, between now and May 25th, there is an additional bonus. For every $5 contribution, you will be entered into a raffle to win a new Kona Cadabra. Those of us on Team Fatty helped his wife's doctor win a contest to name this bike. I will keep track of the names of everyone who enters and will then have a drawing of my own, IF I WIN the bike. Note the disclaimer, IF I WIN the bike.

Here are a couple of links about the bike and the woman who won the bike initially:


We all win, knowing we have done something good.


PS- You can follow the progress on Friday at Twitter @BuzzLiteBoy. I will do hourly updates, if not more often, on the progress, time, speed, RPM, etc. Should be scintillating!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Random Thoughts

I was reading http://arcticglass.blogspot.com/ today and something she wrote struck me, about not being nearly as depressed about her circumstances as she thought she might be. Jill is an extreme athlete to the maximum, riding what is called the Iditarod Trail Invitational, an event for runners, bikers and cross-country skiers. Sounds heinous to me, but she finished last year and set out to beat her time this year. On day one, she fell into a small ravine along a river and got wet, and ended up with frostbite on her foot and having to pull out of the race, along with her boyfriend, who was developing pneumonia.

Now, this is something I would never consider doing, but I completely understand the issues involved insetting a goal and not being able to achieve them, or conversely, achieving them. In the fall of 2001, we had dinner with friends of Katie's parents, and Bud said he was going to this ride, from SF to LA, call the California AIDS Ride. I thought, wow, sounds like a great thing, raise money for a great cause, something that is important to me, as it had been such a blight on the industry I worked in and struck very close to home. So i began training and working very hard to make this ride. And I did. I can only imagine the way I would have felt if I had pulled out partway through.

Which brings me to the present. Many of you know I lost my job in December, through no fault of my own, no fault of the company, just another victim, along with the 2.3 million other people that have lost jobs in December- February as a result of the economy. I moved to Denver with high hopes of the things I wanted to accomplish, the things I wanted to learn and do for the company. All of that is gone, blown away in the wind like so many other things we find that happens in our lives.

Yet, curiously, I find that the days go by, and I am generally happy and contented with my life. Sure, I would prefer to be working, to be a contributing member of society. And ultimately, I will be again, in some fashion. But after twenty-three years of the daily grind, it has been a welcome change to be able to wake-up, drink my coffee and think about going to the gym and for a bike ride.

And being able to ride the urban trails of Denver, to explore the beauty of the wetlands, to take in the incredible expanse of the Front Range. Eventually, I will need something more, but for now, the view in the picture above, suffices.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Visual Effects

If you are giving an award for visual effects, it seems to me that the movie with the most amazing visual effects, shouldn't a movie like Dark Knight win? Or Iron Man be nominated? And Dark Knight wins for Sound.

A movie that is shot partially in I-Max, shown on these massive screens, contains the details that it does, probably deserves the award.

Ugh. I can't stand it. I'm just going to quit.

The Idiotic Musical Number

Why? WHY? WHY? WHY? If they wanted to do musical numbers, why couldn't they have done the real musical numbers, maybe nominated Bruce, maybe let Peter Gabriel sing his whole number from Wall-E. I'm trying not to curse.

Kate just commented they haven't done a number like that in a long time. Maybe they won't again! I never need to hear another note from High School Musical ever again. They do that crap, and no awards? Then later, mark my words, they will be cutting peoples speeches shorts and trying to play them out.

And then the funniest thing I've seen all night was a preview for the new Ryan Reynolds/Sandra bullock movie. With Betty White. Looked funny. Ryan Reynolds is in one of my favorite comedies of all time- Just Friends. He is just freakin' amazing!

I love Alan Arkin. Was there a better role than his in Little Miss Sunshine? What a great performance? And I think I have a man-crush on Josh Brolin! Two great roles, two years in a row. What luck. His performance in No Country was fantastic!

Tropic Thunder and Robert Downey! See the extras on the DVD. Christopher Walken and the speech in Pulp Fiction, with the watch, was one of the funniest movie moments of all time.

And if Heath Ledger does not win,..... waiting. And Heath wins, what an incredibly bittersweet moment for all of Hollywood. I think I will turn the sarcasm off and appreciate the fact that the voters got the vote correct this time. Great nominees, tough category.

The Change-up

What was the deal with SJP? Is she not the most awkward person in Hollywood? Why does she keep getting work? Who hires her? And why?

And do they think we are stupid with this whole telling us the process of how the film is made!

Finally, a highlight- Ben Stiller breathing some life into this dreadful production! They didn't want Jon Stewart as host, for what reason?

Obviously, the Academy is going to award everything to Button and Slumdog. The voters have no imagination. Certainly a lovely film, but how can Dark Knight not be awarded? Ridiculous. I may just go to bed.

Now we have the fine actress Jessica Biel. She's done what? And why are there so many commercials? Another 30 minutes gone by and what, 1 meaningful award?

Academy Awards, the first 45 minutes

I missed the opening monologue, saw Penelope get Best Supporting Actress, saw the Best Adapted Work for Screen go to Milk, and decided I was going to publish a scree every time Milk won. The only thing I liked about that category was Steve Martin and Tina Fey. Martin was funnier in that 5 minutes than he was the whole Saturday Night Live he was on. And Tina is just one smart, funny, beautiful woman.

The next category was Animation, and it annoys me to no end that Wall-E was not nominated for Best Picture. Really? Really? And later, you will hear me rant about Dark Knight. And thus far the winners are so unsurprising it is not even funny.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Something New!

Last night, the wife and I ventured up the Front Range to Boulder to see Boulder Ballet's latest offering, Momentum. Many of you who know me know that I am not a fan of the dance. Any dance. As a member of the Board of Directors of The Dairy Center for the Arts, one of my responsibilities is to attend performances of the Resident Organizations and the companies that are renting the theaters. I'm glad I did.

For those of you who don't know, The Dairy is a multi-disciplinary arts center, with a number of resident orgs., plus companies that rent space on a regular basis. There is also gallery space with rotating exhibits. Last night, there were three performances, and three new exhibits opening. It was quite an artful evening!

To the Ballet. The theater is an intimate space, seating 150 max, I think I have been told, and it was full. I'm not going to write a critique or review of the program; it's not my job and that's not the point. I'm just going to tell you about what I really liked, and why. And encourage you, if you are in the Denver Metroplex, to go see this.

There were three Interludes, performed by Peter Davison, that were very funny, very unusual. Peter moves very well, creates incredibly unique characters, and made for nice transitions between the pieces.

The second major work on the program was titled Infernal Suite, choreographed by Ben Goodman. It consisted of three pieces, Monkeys, Hindus and Lovers, all very different stylistically, showing Mr. Goodman's range as a choreographer. Of the three, Hindus was a beautiful piece, in tone, color, tempo, music, about a woman who is ill, sick, near death's door, what have you, and is revived by these three other women. The two female principals in this piece, Jennifer Aiken and Jamie Johnson, are just beautiful in this work. Ms. Johnson, especially, has this incredibly focused energy that mesmerizes the audience in this work.

Ms. Johnson was also the focus of the other number that I believe was a highlight of the evening, Versus. Ms. Johnson and Lance Hardin were the principals in this back-and-forth struggle that was deeply textured. The troupe interacted with the two until all ended on the floor in a massed pile, as one living, breathing mass. It was an indelible image. The folks I was sitting with all were talking about it at the intermission.

These were the works that really stuck out. The whole evening was quite enjoyable. I am not slighting any of the other works, only choosing to point out what my favorites are/were. The work runs through the rest of February, into March. Check out their website, http://www.boulderballet.org/, to learn more and to find dates of future performances.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Revisionist History

And I quote: "If we tried to suppress the expansion of the subprime market, do you think that would have gone over very well with the Congress? When it looked as though we were dealing with a major increase in home ownership, which is of unquestioned value to this society -- would we have been able to do that? I doubt it...We could have basically clamped down on the American economy, generated a 10 percent unemployment rate. And I will guarantee we would not have had a housing boom, a stock market boom or indeed a particularly good economy either," - Alan Greenspan, Former Federal Reserve chairman.- Thanks to Andrew Sullivan and The Daily Dish.

What a load of crap.

Since when is the Fed Chief supposed to worry about whether or not the Congress likes what he is doing to control the markets? This revisionist history crap annoys the hell out of me. This is Greenspan trying to protect his legacy, t place blame for his lack of institutional control over the Fed, the markets and what was going on to create this idiotic crisis we find ourselves in.

Certainly not all of the blame goes to Greenspan. But, in my part-time job as an economic analyst (that's a joke for those of you who are too dense to get it), and after the reading I have done, which isn't a joke, there is a clear line between GBII and his "NO HOUSE LEFT BEHIND" policy and the housing crisis, credit bubble we find ourselves in.

When did it become wrong to rent? And what exactly is wrong with renting? For years, people saved their money and renting a house, an apartment, whatever, and were happy. Yes, yes, we all have this 1950's-era dream of a white house, with a white picket fence, 2.2 children and a wife in the kitchen with our scotch and soda ready when we come through the door. But that BS died in the 1970's, didn't it? Or did it?

Certainly there were policy makers prior to GBII who decided that there needed to be more home ownership. But the policy of the Chimp-in Chief, pushing for lower interest rates, led to Countrywide, led to credit default swaps, led to the greed in the market that has created this huge bubble that burst so delightfully and is now leading to 500,000 jobs lost month, increased inflation, and God knows what else.

There is a reason they are called the SEVEN DEADLY SINS, people. Greed is one of them. Everyone looking to make a quick buck, everyone looking to have one more thing, another car, a bigger house, a jet ski, you name. "The more people I get into some sort of sub-prime mortgage, the bigger my BONUS! YIPPEEEEE!"

And Greenspan wants us to believe that holding to stricter lending practices would have created 10% unemployment? What is this, some sort of Seinfeldian Opposite World, where he is George Constanza and he is doing the opposite of what he has always done? What does he think he has created with what he did? His stupid policies have created a stock market bubble, a housing bubble and unemployment that will go well beyond 10%. The man should probably go to jail for malfeasance. I'm trying to keep this G-rated for all of my readers out there, but this annoys the crap out of me. There are people suffering across every sector of the economy because of bad policy decisions. And those are his reasons? As my friend Peter Clogg used to say, "Good night nurse!"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Great American Novel

I have just finished

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

by David Wroblewski, and began to think about the incessant talk in the book media about the next, or first, if you will, GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL. In my mind, we have seen a number of GAN, if you will allow it, over the course of American literature, each defining the time in which it was written. Certainly I do not intend this to be a comprehensive list, by any means; it is only a list of what I believe to be GAN's. Argue at your leisure, or not. Make your own list. I don't really care one way or another.

While I am sure there was great writing being done prior to 1850, I believe Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter probably qualifies as the first GAN. Although the subject matter concerns events that took place years before, in 17th-century Boston, Hawthorne is recognizably the first of the great fiction writers in America. Consider that Hawthorne was 46 when he wrote this.

Second, we need to consider Melville's Moby Dick, written just one year later, in 1851. Melville was only 32 years old when he published his great story of the White Whale and Captain Ahab. It's length was problematic for the reading public of the day, and probably for some of the reading public of today, as well, with our 10-minute attention spans, but it has come to be recognized as one of the great novels of all time. If you want to read the true account for the Melville novel, I recommend In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick. It will give you more nightmares than a Stephen King novel.

In 1876, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, otherwise known as Mark Twain, wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, to be followed by Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1884. Huckleberry Finn was not a prescient look at the run for President by Mike Huckabee! A very strong argument could be made, and I guess I am making it, that these two novels are the GAN of the last quarter of the 19th-century. Throw Poe in there somewhere, although horror fiction always seems to be short-changed when it comes to talking about great writing.

As we turn to early part of the 20th-century, things begin to get very difficult to define. Theodore Dreiser, Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald all have had a lasting impact on the literary definition of America. I would argue that ALL have written a GAN. Ot two, as the case may be.

Dreiser, An American Tragedy. It even says American in the title. Sinclair wrote The Jungle, responsible for making the meat packing industry somewhat safer in the early part of the century. Where is today's Upton Sinclair? Lewis creates a toss-up for me between Babbit and Elmer Gantry. Both books are great in their own special way. Gantry, by the way, was recently adapted into an opera. Hopefully I will see it someday.

Finally, Fitzgerald. How do these novels- This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, or Tender is the Night- not qualify as the GAN? I remember being in college, probably '87, '88, and being on a Fitzgerald kick, and reading everything. It was beauty and tragedy at its finest. I think I stayed up late for many nights in a row, just reading everything I could.

We must consider Hemingway and Steinbeck. Personally, my favorite Hemingway is A Moveable Feast, but we are talking fiction. I think the argument for H. either drops into A Farewell to Arms or For Whom the Bell Tolls. Neither really float my boat, so if you have a different opinion,....

Steinbeck, I think is easier, although there may be plenty of argument about this choice, as well. Hands down, The Grapes of Wrath. What story is more quintessentially American than this one. It is all about the American Experience, at a pivotal time in American history. You can't argue with a novel that was made into a film starring Henry Fonda, directed by John Ford. And, later, in 1995 was the subject of a song by Bruce Springsteen.

In 1940, Richard Wright wrote a book that I found to be incredibly amazing- Native Son. The story of a young black man who killed a white woman and his girlfriend, Wright's novel, and I'm quoting here because it has been a long time since I read this one, is about the "racial inequality and social injustices so deep that it becomes nearly impossible to determine where societal expectations/conditioning end and free will begins." I remember being stunned by Wright's writing when I read this. I don't know why I picked it up. I'm glad I did. I different kind if GAN, but one nonetheless. Ralph Ellison later wrote Invisible Man, distinctly different about being a black man in American society, won awards in 1953, and addressed racism in a completely different manner. It must have made people incredibly uncomfortable.

In 1951, we must not forget the book that made us all into rebels, J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. So many authors have been influenced by this work, and so many of us, as well, it would be a mistake to not consider it as one of the GAN's. Who knows what happened to Salinger. I like to believe that the character in W. P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe, Terrance Mann, was maybe close to the truth.

I'm ignoring the Beat poets and writers, because I don't like the literature and/or the writing. Maybe Kerouac and Burroughs wrote some great things, that truly expressed and exposed some part of the American experience, but I have a hard time believing that there are universal truths in that writing. Again, this is my opinion. If you don't like it, BITE ME! Or Howl, of the mood suits you. Maybe we can make a stupid Facebook application!

In 1960, Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. Hard to believe a short novella, and really it is not much more than that, has had such an impact on literary society. I have not met a single person who has not been moved by this book. The movie starred Gregory Peck, who won the Best Actor Oscar. A British literary society has listed it as the number one book all adults should read, ahead of the Bible! I don't know about that, but pretty amazing.

In 1973, Thomas Pynchon wrote Gravity's Rainbow. I have read most of this book. Don't ask me what it is about. Don't ask me if I remember any of it, or part of it. It was one of the strangest things I have ever read. Or will ever read. I know what the basic "plot" was supposed to be, but I spent a summer at Chautauqua trying to plow my way through this thing. It belongs on the list.

I know Updike belongs on this list. Many people would pick one of the Rabbit books. Maybe because of my age, these are not my favorites. I prefer his later work. My two favorites, well, three, I guess, are, In the Beauty of the Lilies, Toward the End of Time, and Terrorist. The first two were published in 1996-97, respectively, the last in 2006. Great writing toward the end of the career of one of the greatest people of American letters. I also really like Gertrude and Claudius, but it is more of a novella.

Jane Smiley belongs on this list. She has captured what it means to live in the Heartland, like no other writer. And I don't want this to be too male-centric. Her novels Moo and 1,000 Acres are two of my favorite books. 1,000 Acres probably ranks up there on the All-Time List, because of the eternal subject matter. If you love Shakespeare, you will love this one.

The authors of the modern age are too numerous to name. Stephen King, Dave Eggers, Michal Chabon, Bret Easton Ellis, John Cheever, Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, all are worthy for consideration of having written the GAN at some point. And, like I said, this list is not comprehensive, just my idea, what I like.

For me, Edgar Sawtelle is the first GAN of the 21st century.


Friday, January 30, 2009

The First Post

I've been thinking about this for a while, and have finally decided to do it, since I'm unemployed and bored out of my skull. I'm going to write, somewhat consistently, my thoughts on the current state of the world of opera, as discreetly as I can, so as to not damage my position in that world, the state of entertainment (like one more person needs to do that), about KU basketball and cycling.

Let's talk basketball. Last April, the Jayhawks ripped a National Championship from the hands of the Memphis Tigers, because the Tigers couldn't hit their free throws. Memphis fans can whine all they want about how the championship was theirs, but until they learn to shoot the charity, it's not going to happen.

Eight players from that 'Hawk team went to the NBA draft, leaving all of us to wonder what this team would look like in 08-09.

At times, it has been downright ugly, most recently in Lincoln against the 'Skers on Wednesday night. But, HC Bill Self is beginning to instill some toughness into this team, Collins and Little are the embodiment of Self on the floor, and come tournament time, they are going to be scary good. I'm predicting Sweet Sixteen.

And let's talk about the supposed Best Fans in The World in Lincoln, NE. I will not argue, to a degree, that the football fans are probably some of the most knowledgeable and friendly people in the country, who support their team. I remember being at an NU-KSU game, probably '99. NU turned the ball over on their first possession and the Mildcats took over on the NU 35 or so.

The NU fans made that place louder than a Metallica concert. KSU went backward on three plays, NU blocked the field goal attempt and the rout was on. That's the football fans.

Basketball fan? Every stereotype you want to throw out there is okay with me. I was in that dungeon of a building they call a basketball arena in '97, '98, when Paul "The Truth" Pierce was still with the 'Hawks, one of a number of 'ol Roy's teams that under-achieved. The fans booed KU throughout, acted like they deserved every call, etc. It was the same Wednesday night, as the 'Hawks stormed back from a 13-point deficit to take a much need win on the road.

By the way, if it was '98 that I saw them win there, that team later went on to lose to Rhode Island in the second round of the tourney. I was in a hotel in Mobile, AL, lighting a Pirates of Penzance. And the year before they lost to eventual National champion Arizona in the Sweet Sixteen. That KU team was loaded, should have won it ALL- Pierce was a freshman, and had this additional NBA talent- Raef LaFrentz, Jacque Vaughn, Scot Pollard- and a great supporting cast. I curled up in a chair in our apartment.