Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reading Rainbow & A Comedy Show

August is almost upon us, and what that means is a month of my NFL Preview articles. I love doing it. I think it's fun to be right and funny how wrong I can be sometimes. So since that is on the horizon, I just wanted to pass along a couple of reviews for a limited assortment of items.


Consider The Lobster by David Foster Wallace

One of the joys of my college experience was learning that I didn't have to take a math requirement. As a result I picked up a class titled Contemporary American Short Story. That class, ended up being one of my favorite during my time at college, and one of its lasting impressions was my introduction to David Foster Wallace. DFW has become one of my favorite authors and has the literary work to back it up.

His latest installment, Consider the Lobster, finds the always enlightening and entertaining DFW tackling everything from porn awards to John McCain on the campaign trail. He can write as intellectually and dramatically whether he is discussing double penetration shots or the lull of redundant speeches. The manner in which he, almost easily, transitions from a place of pure absurdity to the heights of intellectual prose is as impressive as it is depressing.

While the lyrical gymnastics DFW goes through makes you love to read his essays, at the same time, any one with any hope of ever publishing anything has to leave disheartened as DFW is certainly the foremost stylistic writer out there. You think he is just writing stream of thought through the way he presents himself, but when you take in the essays as a whole you realize that each piece of writing is incredibly intricate and imaginative that no human could spout out such words in such a format.

For people that aren't familiar with DFW, I probably wouldn't recommend starting with this book, but if you do, you'll know from the first story (the one about the porn awards) whether you're on board or not. The constant footnotes and long digressions could frustrate one that is not ready to commit fully to such a reading, and the reading only gets more difficult as the book progresses.

This book ranks up there with DFW finest works. If you are willing to commit to the reading and want to enjoy great essays on a wide variety of subjects, then give this book a go around.

For the ratings system I wanted to do something different than simple numbers. I want a symbol, like "Two Thumbs Up" like that. So I decided to flip the script. I'm using a symbol, but not a positive symbol. As a result of using a negative symbol instead of a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the best, one is the best because more of a negative thing would be bad. Follow?

So, what's something bad, related to books that I can rate these things with? Papercuts. Done.

1.5/5 Papercuts

Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman

I followed up Consider the Lobster with Klosterman's book of essays. Now, initially this was a mistake. Klosterman's style is different than DFW in that it is much more straight forward and, for lack of a better term 'simple.' Now, while no one would or should expect a bunch of DFWs running around, but Klosterman's essence is in his ability to universalize seemingly obscure Gen X topics. His seeming irreverence serves as an opening to topics and ideas that do ring true to all kinds of people.

He touches on Billy Joel, Saved By The Bell, and lots of other topics that only invite the reader to take Klosterman's deranged trip along with him. Even though some of the topics were a little before my time, I was able to enjoy myself much more after I moved past this whole, he's not DFW thing.

Klosterman is an interesting read, and his ability to use random facts (a personal favorite thing of mine) and to relate personal experiences of his to a more universal appeal that comments on society in general is a great thing to behold. This is the first Klosterman book I have read, and I will be sure to follow up with his work in the near future.

1/5 Papercuts


Ricky Gervais

Ever more famous actor/writer/director/comedian, Ricky Gervais, creator of "The Office" and "Extras" took some time out of his now busy movie schedule to do some shows in America for an HBO special.

I saw the opportunity to jump on these tickets months ago, and since Ricky is one of my favorite, I guess entertainers is the word, I couldn't miss one of his few New York City shows. I have seen some of Ricky's comedy before on Youtube, and what is unique about him is that he is not a comedian by trade. His background is more in writing and acting.

This lack of polish is evident as Ricky takes the stage. Granted he is in a crown and cape as his name lights up right behind him, so confidence is not the issue. He transfers from story to improvised rant back to material in a semi-awkward way, but charming and enjoyable the whole time. For every politically incorrect shot he takes, he is sure to deflect any feelings of ill will by mocking himself, and his new found celebrity.

It was great to see him live and in person, and while the worst thing I could do was try to recreate some of his jokes, I will say some of his funniest moments include a pamphlet and Humpty Dumpty. Sadly, I feel like people that tune into HBO to see Ricky's special as a means to "see what he is about," they may be disappointed as his stand up does not nearly equate to the hilarity on The Office and Extras. For a Ricky fan like myself it was a blast, and I hope he comes around again soon.

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