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

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Cough up some cash for the Rude Pundit

The always inflammatory, always hilarious Rude Pundit (see links) is fundraising for a live show at the New York Fringe Festival this summer. I don't know how much stage experience his Rudeness has, and I don't really care. He could come on stage and read his stuff in a stilted monotone and it would still be funnier than anything Jeff Foxworthy or Bob Saget has ever said in their lives.

He has set up a special site to fundraise (blow up dolls and Dick Cheney masks don't come cheap) and Ta Da! The Woodshed, by dint of our $5 contribution, has become the first sponsoring blog to be blogrolled - leading to many hits that satisfy the sitemeter monkey on my back. What with the traffic generated by His Glorious Ruditity and my mother reading the blog, The Woodshed ought to break the 2000 barrier in a matter of days, if not hours.

$5 is a small price to pay for the consistently entertaining Rude One to go berserk on stage. Hopefully there will be DVDs for those of us outside the New York area. So go toss him some change and watch him gambol, caper and fling feces at the powerful.

Monday, June 06, 2005

It's official - Americans really are crazy

Scientists finally confirm what we all knew all along. Given the results of the last election in the U.S. this percentage sounds about right.

I hope he made it to the airport
Newsweek's Baghdad bureau chief Rod Nordland came home this week and jotted down a few final thoughts on Messopotamia

"Some of the worst ambassadors in U.S. history are the GIs at the Green Zone's checkpoints. They've repeatedly punched Iraqi ministers, accidentally shot at visiting dignitaries and behave (even on good days) with all the courtesy of nightclub bouncers—to Americans and Iraqis alike."

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Book of globetrotting stories a pleasant trip with criminals

Kevin Wood / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

Small Crimes in an Age of Abundance

By Matthew Kneale

Picador, 278 pp, 12.99 pounds

London native Matthew Kneale takes readers on a vicarious trip around the world with his volume of short stories Small Crimes in an Age of Abundance.

The crimes and criminals range from a suicide bombing by a Palestinian with second thoughts in "White" to the theft of a handful of candied chestnuts by the Eastern European housemaid of a British aristocrat in "Taste." Each of the 12 stories here is concerned with a crime, be it real or imagined, or at least with someone being wronged in some way.

That's not to say Kneale has written a collection of criminal capers--he is far more concerned with the internal lives of his varied protagonists than with their deeds. "Stone" shows the reader the destructive effect a perceived theft has on a family of British tourists in China. In "Powder" a drudge of a lawyer is tempted into the fast lane and a life of crime when he finds a satchel full of cocaine. A peasant family of dispossessed Colombian coca farmers are saved by larceny in "Leaves." The four young Welshmen in the coming-of-age tale "Seasons" bond over case of petty vandalism.

The crimes are often the result of jealousy, impulse or weakness. In "Sunlight," when constantly undermined Malcolm finally finds fulfillment as writer thanks to his wealthy wife's largesse, she does her best to wound him for his refusal to be kept as a pet and in the end makes him pay for his success. In "Weight," an overweight American oil worker is smitten by a local beauty in remote China and brings her back to Dallas, where his jealous insecurity drives her to desperation. In "Metal," a British businessman rescues his taxi driver from the police during a riot in Cairo and is inspired to turn over a new leaf before caving in to convention and returning to his role as part of the problem.

It would be a mistake to get the impression that Small Crimes is a dark, depressing ride. Kneale leavens the mix of the seven deadly sins with black humor such as the paranoid misunderstanding that is the basis of "Sound."

Amid the subtle meditations on people's need for a home instead of a house, how families fall apart, and the immorality of the arms industry, Kneale skillfully uses simple language to paint portraits of complex people. While the physical descriptions are minimal, the dialogue and passing thoughts of the characters reveal volumes.