Friday, May 29, 2009

What IS wrong with Kansas?

So, I might have done a little channel flipping last night and I maybe, just maybe happened to click over to ABC in time to see the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The winner, Kavya Shivashankar, is from Olathe, Kansas. If you didn't happen to be RANDOMLY FLIPPING CHANNELS and ACCIDENTALLY STUMBLED ACROSS the spelling bee's final round Shivashankar does this really fascinating thing where she writes words out with her finger on her palm before and then during her answers. Like she has a tiny invisible chalkboard.

The winning word was "laodicean."

Not a word you use every day?

LAODICEAN (1)
SYLLABICATION: La·od·i·ce·an
ADJECTIVE: 1. Of or relating to Laodicea. 2. Indifferent or lukewarm especially in matters of religion.
NOUN: A native or inhabitant of Laodicea.
ETYMOLOGY: Adj., sense 2, in reference to Revelation 3:14–16.

Here's the thing though. While running through some news items about the win I made the mistake of checking out a piece in the Kansas City Star. The piece was actually quite good but the reader comments? The reader comments were the online equivalent of visiting a mental institution.

Not to suggest that any individual person posting suffers from some strange and profound mental illness worthy of causing them to be institutionalized (2). But, I'm sorry, when you can wring a deep and ongoing left wing liberal media conspiracy out of a piece about a young girl winning a spelling bee...well that's just insane.

INSANE
SYLLABICATION: in·sane
ADJECTIVE: 1a. Of, exhibiting, or afflicted with insanity. b. Characteristic of or associated with persons afflicted with insanity: an insane laugh; insane babbling. c. Intended for use by such persons: an insane asylum. 2. Immoderate; wild: insane jealousy. 3. Very foolish; absurd: took insane risks behind the wheel.

1. I didn't actually know all this. Though I did know Maecenas...which is the word that knocked Tim Ruiter out.
2. Not in writing at least.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It was a Dark and Stormy cocktail

If you know me you know two things (1).

I like a good book and I like a good cocktail.

Imagine the pleasant buzz in that space where the other half of my liver once was when I discovered that Eric Felten brought those two things together.

Also on the stack...Benjamin Wallace's The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine.

Which caused me to wonder...has anyone ever written a healthy memoir (2) about their personal relationship with the cocktail?

I mean, think about it. How many books are floating around out there about food and eating and life? Food is love. Pasta is love. A good hearty beef stew is love.

But suggest that a Manhattan is love? A French 75 is life? All you ever needed to know you learned at the age of 12 when you were taught to make a damn fine Bloody Mary?

Then you have not a life-affirming tale...but the makings of an intervention.

1. I know. That's a little self-centered. If you know me you undoubtedly know more than two things. Otherwise your life would be really quite sad. I mean...how does one earn a living?
2. Meaning one that does not involve the phrase "pool of sick."

Like a spiral in a circle, like a wheel within a wheel...

I think too much. I know that I do.

I tend to get incredibly focused on something that is bothering me and then sit and turn it over and over in my head. The longer I do that, the more worked up I get. The more worked up I get the further I dig in.

And the further I dig in the more irrational sounding I become.

All these are things that I do know. I'd like to think that this is something I could change about myself, but there is a good deal of evidence to the contrary.

Trying to explain the source of my most recent frustration The Freelancer used his favorite strategy.

He suggested we talk about him instead.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spoiler Alert: Lots of Sarcasm Ahead

See that?

Those are your pants.

On fire.

Are you happy now?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

SEARCH: Noodles, memoir, trouble game

I'm sorry, but books like this are why I still spend way too much time in bricks and mortar stores buying books that I am not reading nearly fast enough (1).

How on earth would you ever stumble across this book online?

"That book looks interesting. Where did you get it?"

"Oh, I was online looking for a memoir that involved an author writing letters to the creator of Ramen Noodles."

Or, more likely, "I was listening to NPR..." (2)

1. Though the reserve stack is soon going to come very much in handy.
2. Let it be noted, however, that in this case I did not hear about this book on NPR first. I found it on my own. Sans Morning Edition help. In your face public radio.

And you will find a rapper, lying in a manger...

A little Sunday school moment, from the book of Acts:

"'So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken from us - one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.' So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias."

I don't want to give away how things are going to go when they actually choose but I'll say this. It's totally not how you think.

I mean, when I was reading I thought...c'mon...guy who has as many names as a West Coast rapper or...Matthias. Is there a real choice here?