Dave McKean

Wednesday reading — dribs and drabs

What I've been reading

Not that much, since I've mostly been trying to catch up on my NaNo effort for this year. (40,000 words and counting…)

I read The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island. Bill Bryson's work has always had a strong curmudgeonly vein—indeed, this was probably the strongest draw for me when I started reading his books in high school—but I felt like this effort crossed the line into old-man-yells-at-cloud territory for me. I mean, this is the man who introduced me to the amazing media frenzy surrounding the 1927 sash weight murders, something I recounted with great delight to everyone who would hold still long enough to listen; I feel that he could do better than following it up with a bunch of tired snark about how modern gossip rags signal the end of civilization. They're obviously deeply worthy of mockery, but try to have some perspective! The book still has some funny scathing bits, as well as some lovely appreciative bits, which are the other thing Bryson excels at, but I expected better on the whole.

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grip tape is love

Wednesday reading — baseball and also some things that are not baseball

What I've been reading

I read Slade House, a relatively short horror story that's like a companion to The Bone Clocks. All my favorite things about David Mitchell's books are more effective at a regular length, I think, but it is still nicely creepy.

I read The Sleeper and the Spindle, Neil Gaiman's Snow White/Sleeping Beauty Mashup. I'd read it before, actually, but it is better with the illustrations, which are gorgeous with the gold ink. An ebook is not an adequate substitute.

I read Honor Girl, a graphic memoir about the summer that the author fell in love with one of her camp counselors and the two of them mostly danced awkwardly around their attraction to each other and camp gossip. I didn't love the art as such but I do love the visual storytelling, and it's really great at evoking this very specific time and place.

I read Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks. In spite of the subtitle, I would say it was more suited for mildly serious geeks at best, but then my baseline may be skewed by my own intense geekdom. It is entertainingly written, though, so I'd give it a solid recommendation on that basis.

I read Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game by the president of my alma mater, John Sexton (or, as we used to call him back in the day, JSex). I remember when he started teaching it as a class, especially since he did it through my own particular school, the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where you didn't even have to be president of the university to offer a class with an unusual subject like that, and I totally would have tried to register for it sometime just for the novelty of hobnobbing with the university president if the subject had been anything other than baseball. If you had tried to tell me while I was in college that one day I would be deeply interested in baseball I would have laughed in your face.

It probably would have been a fun class, though. It's a pretty good book, even though it was written by a Yankees fan. At least he feels the need to justify his Yankees fandom: he was originally a Dodgers fan, like a good Brooklyn boy, but then after his son was born, he felt that he needed to adopt a team that was actually still located somewhere in the five boroughs. I mean, he clearly made the wrong choice, but as a Catholic he felt drawn to the team with the most history, in spite of the fact that it was the history of being the Yankees. Also the Mets were actually being quite successful at the time while the Yankees were sucking. Still, I don't think these are actually adequate excuses.

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Liv Tyler

Wednesday reading — finally

What I've been reading

I read the Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen eARC. When the Vorkosigan series was at its peak, each book incorporated plot, character stuff and theme into a perfect, seamless whole and it was truly beautiful. This book I would say is pretty much entirely character stuff, with the barest minimum of story stuff to hang it on. Objectively speaking, I would probably not say it was a very good book, and it would be hard to recommend without a lot of caveats.

Subjectively, I loved it.Collapse )

I read Career of Evil, J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith's new Cormoran Strike book. Mild spoilersCollapse )

I read The Copper Gauntlet, the second book in Holly Black's series co-written with Cassandra Cla(i)re that is often a bit meta about Harry Potter, among other things. Although I don't like it as much as my favorite Holly Black solo books, it continues to be fun. I'm especially interested to read the next one after something happens at the end of this one that one might expect to be saved for the end of a series.

I read Shopaholic to the Rescue, which is essentially the second and also more entertaining half of the last book in the Shopaholic series, which I complained about ending abruptly. I'm totally going to have to keep reading these books to discuss them with my mom even if they get terrible, so I was glad that they returned to acceptable form for an entry in a series that isn't as fresh as it used to be.

I read Detection Unlimited, which is the last mystery novel that Georgette Heyer published before her death. It features a particularly twisty mystery, as though she were pulling out all the stops, including the classic, a character who himself writes murder mysteries.

I read/skimmed How Not to Read: Harnessing the Power of a Literature-Free Life. Aside from the selection of better book titles, which is a schtick I have enjoyed, it wasn't very good. How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard is the more intellectual but also much funnier version of this book that I recommend instead. It has no pictures, though.

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Royals on parade

The parade experience was pretty amazing. Parts of it were amazingly awesome, whereas other parts were amazingly…other things.

We hadn't had one of these things in thirty years, so I suppose it's not surprising that everyone was a little out of practice. A lot of people who heeded the call to use Kansas City's public transportation ended up waiting for hours and/or not getting transported anywhere, which is not surprising considering that Kansas City's public transportation is not very good at the best of times. On the other hand, a lot of people who didn't take public transportation ended up doing crazy things like ditching their cars by the interstate to walk, which is also pretty suboptimal. My mom and I avoided both of these scenarios by dint of arriving at 8:30 AM for the 12:00 PM parade, which allowed us to park in an actual parking garage for a mere $10 and do all of our hours of waiting after we had secured spots separated only from the barrier lining the street by a group of tweens, who were short and easy to see over.

The parade itself was a lot of fun. We cheered and waved and took lots of pictures and videos, while the honorees smiled and waved and took pictures and videos of us in return, which I thought was pretty adorable. The whole front office got to march in the parade too, and they rounded it out with a few local high school marching bands and giant baseball floats. Everyone was so happy and excited and the atmosphere was great. There were tons of kids everywhere, unsurprisingly since I think every school for miles around was closed.

After the parade had passed us, we tried to get to where they were holding the rally by taking a straightforward route from point A to point B, with no particular indication that as we approached Union Station from the north we would end up penned in by barricades. We could see the blue and white sea of people, many of whom had apparently skipped the parade altogether to secure good places to watch the rally, from where we were standing at this barricade, so I suppose they didn't exactly have a lot more room for us. It was unclear what was supposed to happen, none of the police officers or parade staff on the other side of the barrier could or would answer our questions as to what was going to happen, and it was pretty frustrating, although I have to say the people we were barricaded in with were still pretty jazzed about being there overall, and we bonded over our adversity and attempts to decide what our next move should be.

They did eventually reconfigure the barricades so we could get through, and we squished just far enough into the crowd that we could see the giant video screen. I mean, we were actually very close to the stage! Just off to the side where we couldn't actually see anything that was going on there. But we could hear and sort of see everything, so that was pretty good.

They're estimating about 800,000 people were there, and I have no idea how sound their methodology is but it certainly seems plausible to me. Now we just need to host a bunch more World Series parades so we can master the logistics…

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2015 World Champions!

I'm still ridiculously overwhelmed by last night's game! I mean, don't get me wrong, once they took a 3-1 lead in the series I never doubted that they were going to win, but I thought they were on track to do it in six games. Another game six in front of a home crowd tomorrow would no doubt have been a lot of fun, but we're having a giant parade instead.

I plan to be at that parade. I'm pretty sure it's going to be a massive logistical nightmare, but it should be an incredible massive logistical nightmare. But now I really have to get some sleep, or I really won't survive this experience.

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tall for no reason

game one fun

Chris Young, man. By all rights he shouldn't even exist. No other team wanted him at all this year. Certainly no other team dreamed that they could take him all the way to the World Series where he would get the win in game one, and yet there he is. (I thought that was fitting, since he couldn't get the win in game four of the ALCS because they went to the bullpen early to play it safe while it was still a closely-fought game, even though it ended up being a 14-2 blowout. This time he was the one who bailed the bullpen out.)

So far it seems like the oddsmakers and various baseball pundits had the right idea when they said that this was going to be a very even matchup. I feel like the Mets and their fans got a pretty good crash course in the crazy things that could possibly happen in a game with the Royals, starting with that preposterous inside-the-park home run on the first pitch. (But seriously, who throws Alcides Escobar a fastball over the plate on the first pitch? Do you even scout, bro?) It certainly wasn't boring, unless you count the part where play was stopped due to technical difficulties.

I am looking forward to seeing Jacob deGrom pitch tonight, even though he is apparently burdened by his glorious hair and plans to cut it after the World Series. How could he do such a thing? His hair is a national treasure.

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