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Showing posts from May, 2018

Book Review: A Gambler's Anatomy, by Jonathan Lethem

I can't remember if I started playing backgammon because I started reading A Gambler's Anatomy , or if I picked up A Gambler's Anatomy because I had started playing backgammon. In any event, the book is a novel about a professional backgammon player who travels around the world looking for "whales" to swindle out of their money. Not a bad premise for a book, right? A unique one at the very least. Jonathan Lethem writes intelligent fiction, what I suppose you might call "literature." And yet what really is literature and where does the line fall between literature and genre fiction? If a book is about spacemen using laser guns, and it's emotionally moving and teaches you something about life, does that qualify as literature? On the other hand, if a book is exquisitely well-written, about a middle-aged professor having a mid-life crisis, praised by everyone in the literary establishment, but does nothing to move that literature? What ma

Rooney's Lager

If you can walk by a beer called "Rooney's Lager" and not at least consider buying it, then I submit that you a.) are lacking in true Steeler fandom, b.) are not a real Pittsburgher, and c.) may not even have a heart at all. Seriously, this is why it pays to take a chance every once in a while, especially on a local product.  At $5.99 for a six-pack, I fully expected this beer to be one of those light American lager beers that we know and love and which have formed the backbone of our beer drinking culture, but which are ultimately forgettable flavor-wise. Also, the name doesn't really help. Although it is named after the legendary Rooney family (owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers) and bears some amount of history with it, in a weird way the name almost turned me off . I thought for sure this was some "white-label" promotion done by the Pittsburgh Brewing Co. in which they slap a new label on a six-pack of Iron City. I could not have been more wrong. R

Book Review: Runnin' with the Devil, by Noel Monk

"For one thing that goes single thing that goes wrong, a hundred things go right.  Do you know what I spend my time doing? I sleep two or three hours a night. There's no sex and drugs for Ian, David.  Do you know what I do?  I find lost luggage.  I locate mandolin strings in the middle of Austin! You know? I prise the rent out of the local Hebrews. That's what I do!" -- Ian Faith, manager of Spinal Tap Though that quote was said by the manager of a fictional rock n' roll band, it could probably apply to any rock band's manager, ever, and certainly could apply to the author of this book, Noel Monk, who managed Van Halen during the first and best era of the band's history: 1978 to 1984. If you're a child of the 80s or lived through any of the 80s as a fairly young adult, or even if you just love rock n' roll, you have to have at least a little spot in your heart for Van Halen. Their music is such a permanent fixture of radio