Sunday, August 31, 2008

Books You Should Be Reading Number 48 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

Behind The Scenes At The Museum by Kate Atkinson

I am sent to bed first and have to negotiate this treacherous journey entirely on my own. This is manifestly wrong. I have adopted certain strategies to help us in this ordeal. It’s important, for example, that I keep my hand on the banister rail at all times when climbing the stairs (the other one is being clutched by Teddy). That way, nothing can hurtle unexpectedly down the stairs and knock us flying into the Outer Darkness. And we must never look back. Never, not even when we can feel the hot breath of the wolves on the back of our necks, not when we can hear their long, uncut claws scrabbling on the wood at either edge of the stair-carpet and the growls bubbling deep in their throats.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Books You Should Be Reading Number 47 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

What Happened by Scott McClellan

So I don’t agree with those who excoriate the “liberal media.” As long as they do their jobs professionally, I have no problem with liberal reporters, and I certainly dealt with them happily enough as press secretary. The real problem with the national media is the overemphasis on controversy, the excessive focus on who is winning and who is losing in Washington, and the constant search for something or someone to pick on and attack. These bad habits too often cause the larger truths that matter most to get lost in the mix.


On the various leftist sites I frequent, this book was held up as a damning piece of evidence that the Bush administration was just as corrupt as we all knew it was.

It’s nothing so dramatic.

I didn’t learn anything in this book that I didn’t already know (gasp – the evidence for going into Iraq wasn’t so good!!!two!!!) but is still worth a read for two main reasons:

Firstly, it is a nice inside look at the processes of the White House. Many in the Bush administration have been justifiably - but not helpfully - turned into cartoon super villains by, well, The Daily Show, the Left Wing in general, and, well, their own decisions and lives to this point. McClellan’s book humanises them, and gives an insight into what was going through the minds of members of the administrations during such tragicomicedal clusterfucks as Hurricane Katrina.

Secondly, it’s a truly fascinating portrait of a true idealist who genuinely believed that George Bush would make America and the world a better place, and who, over the course of years realises that he is very wrong. McClellan is still a Republican, still thinks highly of George Bush as a person, and is fast to point out that the situations many in the administration found themselves in were not as black and white as they later appeared to the pubic. So this isn’t a rabid attack from the left, it’s a faintly shocked sounding admission that maybe idealism didn’t win the day, written by a man whose reaction to the last seven years is a mixture of sadness and genuine surprise.

Now I just need to get my copy of Fair Game back off the student I lent it to, and I can read an angry political memoir...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

“Sir, my parents think you’ve brainwashed me.”
“Why exactly?”
“Because last night I was reading that book you gave me at the same time that I was eating dinner.”
“Why is that unusual? Most of my books have food stains on them.”
“Well, it’s just that I don’t usually, you know... read. So my parents think it’s weird that I’m not putting this book down like, ever.”

Yeah, this job’s still worth doing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

“Sir, you ignored us the other day at the bus stop.”
“Didn’t I walk with you to the bus stop?”
“Yeah, but after you got on your bus, you just ignored us. We were banging on the windows and yelling your name, but you just had your hood up and ignored us.”
“Well, that wasn’t intentional. I have no peripheral vision in that hood, and when I heard yelling and banging, I probably just assumed it was a couple of trouble making hoodrats. And, as it turns out, I was right...”

Monday, August 18, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

Student 1 “You smell like farts!”
Student 2 “You smell like farts!
Student 1 “Why don’t you have a shower?”
Student 2 “I did – with your dad!”
Me “Some decorum please, ladies.”
Student 1 “Yeah, have some decorum, dick!”

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

Today's video: Weapon of Choice, by Fatboy Slim.

Christopher Walken dances.

If you're still reading this, that means you haven't immediately clicked on the above link, which clearly means you haven't properly understood me.

Christopher. Walken. Dances.

(As per usual, linked to rather than embedded because of the drop in quality that comes with embedding.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

Now, by and large, I don't do "sweet", however, the video for Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros is impossible not to like. It's actually quite remarkably touching and, well, just really sweet, dammit. Go and watch it while I feed a bunch of kittens into a wood chipper to get back into my usual frame of cynicism.

(As per usual, linked to rather than embedded because of the drop in quality that comes with embedding.)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Books You Should Be Reading Number 46 Of A Bunch

Apathy Jack writes:

It by Stephen King

I discovered news of old horrors in old books; read intelligence of old atrocities in old periodicals; always in the back of my mind, every day a bit louder, I heard the seashell drone of some growing, coalescing force; I seemed to smell the bitter ozone aroma of lightnings-to-come. I began making notes for a book that I almost certainly not live to write. And at the same time I went on with my life. On one level of my mind I was and am living with the most grotesque, capering horrors; on another I have continued to live the mundane life of a small-city librarian. I shelve books; I make out library cards for new patrons; I turn off the microfilm readers careless users sometimes leave on; I joke with Carole Danner about how much I would like to go to bed with her, and she jokes back about how much she’d like to go to bed with me, and both of us know that she’s really joking and that I’m really not, just as both of us know that she won’t stay in a small place like Derry for long and I will be here until I die, taping torn pages in Business Week, sitting down at monthly acquisition meeting with my pipe in one hand and a stack of Library Journals in the other... and waking in the middle of the night with my fists jammed against my mouth to keep in the screams.


It is 1116 pages. I know this because I first read it when I was eleven or thereabouts, making it the longest book I had read at that point – it was a source of some pride.

King has written his share of stinkers, but in this book he gets it right. I’m not saying it’s without its faults – the sexualisation of the female member of the gang, for example, didn’t sit right with me when I was the same age as the characters, nor does it today – but overall it is an entertaining read with some genuinely scary parts, which not many books can boast. Rereading it for the first time in a long while I picked up more than a few nods to Lovecraft, which I missed the first few times around, and the long digressions from the main plot (which when I was a kid I thought were fairly irrelevant) do a very good job of creating an entire haunted city. Well worth a read, especially on a dark night when the worst storm in decades is whirling around your house and uprooting your trees.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Apathy Jack writes:

I do love a narrative in music videos. When I watch the vast majority of them, I'm struck by the fact that the directors have lost a perfectly good opportunity to make a three-and-a-half minute short film with inbuilt soundtrack. With that in mind, I present Savin' Me, by Nickelback. It's not hard to hassle Nickelback for a variety of reasons, but no matter what you think of the song, the video – the weird little story of what happens to a man after his life is saved by a stranger – is a great little piece, and a fun watch.

(As per usual, linked to rather than embedded because of the drop in quality that comes with embedding.)