"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, October 14, 2005

RIP Theodore Roosevelt Heller of Chicago, who asked we send acerbic letters to Republicans instead of flowers.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

All schedenfreude, all the time

The imminent flameout of the Bush junta is much on my mind these days. It's been quite a while since I've watched the news or picked up a newspaper with such anticipation of rain of shit that is about to fall on some deserving heads Its not just the Plame case, or the day of reckoning for Tom Delay in the ever widening Jack Abramoff shitstorm or the Bill Frist insider trading charges that are bound to be coming soon, its the cumulative effect of all of these along with the rethuglicans plummeting poll numbers and the hints of the U.S. mass media regrowing its collective spine as they smell blood in the water. With his blinking and twitching Dubya's looked like Capt. Queeg on crystal meth in his interview on NBC as he pretended to build houses for the poor. Obviously the strain is starting to tell.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pickin' and grinnin'
Kevin Wood / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

Guitar: An American Life

By Tim Brookes

Read by Tim Brookes

Blackstone Audio Books

11 1/2 hours on 9 CDs, unabridged

Sometimes we owe debts of gratitude for the oddest reasons. Author and "semiprofessional" guitarist Tim Brookes owes a great deal to the anonymous baggage handlers who mangled his most cherished possession. When his unknown benefactors managed to snap the headstock off the beloved Fylde guitar he had owned for 22 years, just months before Brookes' 50th birthday, his wife offered to buy him, within certain budgetary limits, any guitar he wanted as a birthday gift.

The promise launched Brookes on the dual quests that make up Guitar: An American Life.

The first is a chronicle of his search for the guitar of his dreams. Brookes tries out all the guitars in dozens of shops, coming to the realization that guitar shopping is the one time that men shop like women, going into stores and trying everything on with no serious intention of buying anything.

He decides to look for a custom-made guitar and after a brief search hooks up with luthier Rick Davis of Running Dog Guitars. Brookes follows Davis through every step of the guitar making process, exploring in depth the ins-and-outs of wood selection, design, shaping and finishing.

Such a close look at guitar making has the potential to bore senseless any but the serious guitar aficionado, however, Brookes makes it fascinating.

Between steps in the construction of the author's dream cherry-wood flattop, he pursues his second quest, compiling for the reader an extensive history of the instrument from its origins in Arabia to its arrival in America in the hands of Spanish soldiers.

Brookes traces the evolution of the guitar from its days as a ladies parlor instrument to its vital role in the creation of modern American music.

This second thread of Guitar takes an anecdotal approach to examining how the instrument has shaped and been shaped by North American pop culture. Brookes attends guitar conventions, talks to collectors, musicians, and cultural historians to present a wide-ranging look at the most popular, most widely played instrument in the world.

A seasoned radio presenter who regularly contributes to National Public Radio's Weekend Edition in the United States, Brookes wry take on his subject is never over-serious, though his passion for it is clear.

At times, the audiobook seems like a long radio documentary and you expect to hear those interviewed speaking for themselves.

The only disappointment is that after hearing so much about the building of Brookes' guitar, we never get to hear him play it.

(Oct. 7, 2005)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Another one for the good guys

What do the Toronto Maple Leafs have that the Montreal Canadiens don't?

Black and white photos of their last Stanley Cup win.

While the Habs have Red Fisher