Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Bright Side of the CSA

CSA= Community Supported Agriculture

That's locally grown beats in a sweet & sour glaze, beat greens made spicy with red pepper and olive oil, and egg fried rice with chorizo and local onion diced in. Ain't it colorful?

Yeah, you should be jealous.

One of my 30 before 30 goals is to lose 30 pounds, and my strategy is to eat a little healthier: second helpings of veggies instead of starch, a little less meat, a little less beer, plus more exercise. I'm actually pretty sure I won't make it, since I'm unwilling to go on a stricter diet. But I've lost some weight, and I'm in better shape than ever.

And I'm pretty happy with that.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Reader I Mean to Be

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
But there are readers and there are readers. There are people who read to anesthetize themselves—they read to induce a vivid, continuous, and risk-free daydream. They read for the same reason that people grab a glass of chardonnay—to put a light buzz on. The English major reads because, as rich as the one life he has may be, one life is not enough. He reads not to see the world through the eyes of other people but effectively to become other people.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: Swann's Way by Marcel Proust

It's been nearly 3 weeks since I finished the first book of Marcel Proust's masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time. I enjoyed Swann's Way, but I did not love it. The first 100 pages or so were a slog.

When I rail against the Victorians, I often forget that the early 20th century was still chock full of Victorian values and ideals... and ideas about what makes good writing.

I suppose what separates the great works of the 19th century from those of the 21st century revolves around immediacy. The Victorian ideal was the slow build to the big reveal. Think about Scrooge standing over his own grave, the remorse of Frankenstein's monster, and the mad wife in Mr. Rochester's attic. Proust's novel might be the ultimate in Victorian fiction.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Few Reasonable Yankee Trades

Well gang, 1992 has not been kind to our beloved Yankees. At 42-48, we're headed to our 6th straight season in the lower tier of the AL East. We haven't really been in the hunt in that stretch, and the 1981 pennant was a long time ago.
The path we're on isn't going to get us anywhere. We've got to blow it up and rebuild.
So I suggest these three trades:
1. Don Mattingly to the Brewers for Dave Nilson and Cal EldredYes, he's in the third year of the richest contract in MLB history, but he's not impossible to move. And while he's still a Gold Glover, let's be honest: this version of Donnie is a long way from the MVP we knew.
Nilson is an MLB ready catcher, which isn't an area of need for the Brewers with BJ Surhoff entrenched behind the plate. Nilson was rated the #27 prospect in baseball before this season. Yes, I hear that the AAA ball park in Denver is a real hitters park, so Nilson might not repeat his .317/.369/.479 line at the big league level, but this guy is a catcher who can hit. He can split time with Nokes behind the plate.
Eldred is a big right hander, who was a first round pick only 3 years ago, and if Denver is a hitter's park, it's not slowing Eldred down. He's allowing only 1.16 baserunners per inning and he's got an ERA of 3.00.
Losing Donnie would hurt, but the Yankees are a few years from really contending, and Nilson and Eldred will help more than the Captain.
2. Steve Farr for Kevin YoungThe Pirates look like a great team, but I think they need a little more to win the World Series, and with Bonds, Drabek and Bueschle's contracts all up they are in "win now" mode. 
Farr (1.54 ERA and 1.02 baserunners per inning) would instantly be the best arm in their bullpen and would help kill any late rallies.
Young is a great looking third baseman/ first baseman. The knock against him is that as a righty, he couldn't take advantage of Yankee Stadium's short porch. But he and Pat Kelly would be a young right side of the infield for a long time.
3. Prospects for Pedro Martinez
The Yanks have already got #1 prospect in the league Brien Taylor burning up the system, why not go after #10? The Dodgers are in such sorry shape that they need quantity. Offer them Bernie Williams and Carl Everett and see if they want to rebuild their outfield (since the Stawberry rehab tour is going so well in LA). With Hall, Kelly and Tartabull all in long term deals, the Bombers don't need the outfield prospects.
So what do you think of my plan? Do this, and by 1994 we'll be coasting to the pennant and the World Series.
Come on Stick, make it happen! Stop sitting on your hands!
Also posted at the Pinstriped Bible.

Happy Friday! The Vacation Edition

Is there a less productive day than the day before a (well earned) vacation?
Must... focus... on... work...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

30 Before 30 Brewery: Outer Banks Brewing Station

Over the 4th of July holiday, Carol and I spent some time in the Outer Banks. And on Saturday night of that week, I crossed off item #9 on my 30 Before 30 at the Outer Banks Brewing Station.

I ordered the flight, and I was able to try all 5 of the beers they had on tap.

The photo is grainy, but the drinks were delicious.

From left to right, that's the Ã–lsch, the LemonGrass Wheat Ale, the Altimeter, the Drunkel Wizen and the Stormy Roses Stout. (Link to more about those beers).

The stout was really supreme, almost sweet and very rich. But it was so hot that it just wasn't a stout kind of day. So, the LemonGrass Wheat won out for just the right hint of lemon on top of a crisp and refreshing beer.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Review: The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud

Bernard Malamud's first short story collection, The Magic Barrel, won the 1959 National Book Award. Does that make it a great book?

I am drawn to 20th and 21st century male writers, especially to Americans. In part, this must reflect the sexism of the publishing industry, especially early in the century. Partly, it must reflect a prejudice that I have (that most boys must have, or else why would the psuedonyms JK Rowling and SE Hinton and Franklin W. Dixon exist?).

In half-jest, when I last re-organized and pruned my books, I filled an entire bookcase with books about lonely men. Roth and Hemingway and Miller and Coetzee and Faulkner.

But I was disappointed by the lonely men populating Malamud's thirteen stories. Even those who have women in their lives don't know how to allow themselves to be helped. The women are either at home with the children ("Behold the Key"), harping about money ("The Bill"), laying in bed dying ("Angel Levine"), or prizes to be idealize, won or discarded ("The Magic Barrel," "The Lady of the Lake," and "The Girl of My Dreams," respectively).

Saturday, July 13, 2013

30 Before 30 Six Month Update


4. Use the pasta maker
Delicious with pictures.
9. Visit a new brewery
Outer Banks Brewing Station, 7/6

In Progress:

1. Read In Search of Lost Time (A Remembrance of Things Past)
I finished Swann's Way on our recent vacation. Review to follow.
2. Finish the Modern Library's Top 10 List
To read: UlyssesDarkness at Noon, and Sons and Lovers.
11. See games in 2 new baseball stadiums
Nationals Park 6/25 and ???
12. Plan our European vacation
14. Learn to play 3 songs on the guitar
15. Submit poems to at least 6 publications
16. Lose 30 pounds
17. Create a board game
24. Listen to at least 52 hours of Top 40 radio
25. Take pictures of 12 events
26. Visit Philadelphia, Baltimore and DC 3 times each
We went three times to the World Cafe in Philly. We've been to a Super Bowl party and to Nationals Park in DC. We've been to a graduation party in Baltimore and an Orioles game.
27. Improve the blog layout
I actually think this one might be done, but depending what I learn in the Javascript course I'm taking in the fall...
28. Learn Javascript
29. Post 208 times on andalittlewine
I'm halfway through the year and only at post 69. With 139 posts to go in 26 weeks, I need to churn out better than 5 posts a week. This might be harder than I originally thought.
30. Complete monthly to-do lists of house projects

To Do:

3. Hold a fancy dinner
5. Cook something complicated
6. Host a fest
7. Visit one new US metropolis
8. Visit a new winery
10. Go whitewater rafting (minimum Class 3)
13. Tour the National Aquarium
18. Volunteer 10 hours
19. Build a tv stand
20. Learn to drive standard
21. Go to an island on a ferry
22. Watch 5 great movies
23. Learn to play Go

Friday, July 12, 2013

Happy Friday!

Rainy day on the Eastern Shore, but that won't slow me down.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: The Twits by Roald Dahl

Children's books have been a car ride staple for our last few road trips, and on our recent trip down to North Carolina, we brought along Roald Dahl's The Twits.

It's a story about a truly awful husband and wife, who torment each other with horrid pranks. They also keep a family of monkey's prisoner and force them to stand on their heads all day long.

The great moment comes early in the book- Mr. Twit convinces Mrs. Twit that she has "The Shrinks." By gluing extra lengths of wood to her cane and chair each day, he tricks her into believing she is shrinking- that her head is collapsing into her neck, her neck into her body, her body into her legs; and that all that will be left of her is her shoes. This is revealed to be a lie, and Mrs. Twit plots her own revenge.

At the end of the book, after all the tricks and plots and plans, the neighborhood birds team up to destroy the Twits. The birds do it by attaching all the Twits' furniture to the ceiling, convincing the Twits that they need to stand on their heads in order to get right-way up. Once the Twits are standing on their heads, they are crushed under their own weight- their heads collapse into their necks, necks into torso, torso into legs.

The axiom runs that we are what we repeated do, and the Twits constant evil brought that evilness back to them. It's the very definition of poetic justice. Plus it was laugh out loud funny.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy Friday

“Discipline 'makes' individuals; it is the specific technique of a power that regards individuals both as objects and as instruments of its exercise. It is not a triumphant is a modest, suspicious power, which functions as a calculated, but permanent economy.” 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Retiring Writers

The tradition has always been for writers to die at their desks. Kafka, Dickens, Proust, Hemmingway- all left manuscripts and last works laying around.

In announcing her retirement, Alice Monro mentions the recent retirement of Philip Roth.
Ms. Munro said she was encouraged by the example of Philip Roth, who declared that he was done last fall, as he was getting ready to turn 80. “I put great faith in Philip Roth,” she said, adding, “He seems so happy now.”
Writing is demanding. It requires a constant dissatisfaction with past and current work, an unwillingness to ever believe that you've said it quite right. Why wouldn't you want to give that up?

I wonder, though, if in the back of their minds, these great writers who have walked away from their craft haven't remembered the example of all those dead writers who left work unfinished. It is, I think, natural to want some control over history's final analysis. Roth has retired to work more closely with his biographer; he is giving himself time to answer the questions- why this version and not that?; what do you think of this character 20, 30, 50 years later?; what scene would you like to revise?

As I am reading Proust in English, I am keenly aware of the complications death can impose on a story. Of the seven volumes, Proust was only able to oversee publication of the first four. The sixth book of In Search of Lost Time has been especially revised based on the discovery of multiple manuscripts and typesets. The books were translated into English by CK Scott Moncrief, who promptly died before finishing the translation of the seventh book. The Terence Kilmartin edition I'm reading is a re-translation of the translation of a work that was never finished.

I imagine Monro and Roth are happy to avoid that mess, too.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Yankees in July

Well, I said in my last baseball post that the end of June would be make or break time for the Yankees, asking for just 14-10 from June 5-June 30, and the broken down lineup the team ran-out for the last couple of weeks... well, it broke.

The team was actually 11-11 for the month at the start of play on June 25th. And then they embarked on their current 5 game losing streak, finishing 11-16.

But we knew June would be rough, and that's before Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis had season ending surgery, before Andy Pettitte posted an ERA a shade below 5 for the month, before the Vernon Wells recovery tour bottomed out at .133/.143/.147.

There's no reason July should be different for the Yankees. The offense is not of a caliber to swing it with Boston and Baltimore and even Toronto. So if the pitching isn't perfect, this team has no comeback potential.