Saturday, March 24, 2018

Limerick Friday #442: Hollywood Loses An Underrated Character Actor, Plus March Sadness

In "Say Anything," emoted stoic pain
Phenomenal as "Frazier's" Martin Crane
He was the emotional core
Offsetting some psychobabble bore
RIP John Mahoney, an acting treasure it's plain

A generation that's not just text readers 
These kids act like leaders
While adults act like kids
And keep our country on the skids
Maybe they're more than just Tide Pod eaters

The government killed his Dad
Blamed it on a trip gone bad
Personal life forgone
To pursue an obsession long
"Wormwood," hard to watch but glad

Destroyed all my bracket sheets
With the ugliest of all beats
No-showed against Seton Hall
But I do have to say, y'all
This is a promising debut for Keatts

After the Pack bitter pill
A&M gave us a thrill
Pounded the 'Holes to dust
Justice against the unjust
Michael Jordan face across Cheater Hill

Friday, January 26, 2018

Limerick Friday #441: A Super Bowl Full Of Dry Heaves, Plus The Pack Is A Sputtering Surprise

The Cheatriots dug out of a hole
For yet another Super Bowl
Five calls in a row
Gave them plenty of mo' 
One penalty on them, roll NFL roll

Hypocrisy a word too kind
For the racist leading the blind
Weep for the future
Fix gaping wounds with a suture
A government publicly losing its mind

Another long offseason looms
After another season of dooms
Can Gase look in the mirror
And see his problems clearer
He'd better or he's gone, I'd assume

Find cardio somewhere
Eat better if you dare
Chase happiness in your world
Let dreams be unfurled
Rededicate through commitment and care

No upperclassmen to be found
As State gets up off the ground
They play hard as hell
Can't quite make it to the bell
But with Keatts, they're upward bound

Monday, January 15, 2018

Scooter & Hum’s Top Five Books of the Year 2017

In a year littered with strong candidates, coming up with the top five books I read in the past 12 months was as difficult as ever. Compounding the challenge was the presence of a couple of books whose cultural impact lent them more consideration than they otherwise would have warranted. As a result, Cory Doctorow’s “Walkway” landing outside the top five by a hair was as tough an omission as I can remember during the Scooties selection process—made even harder by the fact that I exchanged emails with the author during the course of the year. Entering the second decade of the Scooties’ existence, I look forward to more such dilemmas in coming years.

Without further ado …

#1: "The High Mountains of Portugal," by Yann Martel 

What I Say Now:

In the spirit of Stephen King, Martel picked up the kernel of a story he began a quarter-century before, finishing it when he was a more mature and nuanced writer. “The High Mountains of Portugal” achieves an admirable balance of shock, brilliance, and the comic absurd in nearly equal parts. To me, Martel is a treasure, as previous Scooties have demonstrated, and this book is a worthy successor to his previous works of art.

Passages to Remember: 

"When he looks in his eyes in the mirror when he shaves, he sees empty rooms. And the way he goes about his days, he is a ghost who haunts his own life."

"A man or a woman may not need to work so hard to live, but a cog in a system must turn ceaselessly."

"Long before Darwin, a priest lucid in his madness encountered four chimpanzees on a forlorn island in Africa and hit upon a great truth: We are risen apes, not fallen angels."

"Mostly, though, we went about with quiet, reserved insanity. It's what you do."

"Odo is a being of the present moment, Peter realizes. Of the river of time, he worries about neither its spring nor its delta."

"Because to suffer and do nothing is to be nothing, while to suffer and do something is to become someone."

#2: "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," by Betty Smith

What I Say Now:

Essentially an autobiography, this story evoked real emotion that snuck up on you while building a subtle sense of shared experience with the characters. Smith’s prose was sparse but moving, elevating this book to well-deserved stature as perhaps the defining depiction of poverty-stricken, wartime New York City. As an added bonus, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" served as an ode to reading, spurring numerous hipster tattoos.

Passages to Remember: 

"Sometimes when you had nothing at all and it was raining and you were alone in the flat, it was wonderful to know that you could have something even though it was only a cup of black and bitter coffee."

"The Nolans just couldn't get enough of life. They lived their own lives up to the hilt but that wasn't enough. They had to fill in on the lives of all the people they made contact with."

"Feeling his arms around her and instinctively adjusting herself to his rhythm, Katie knew that he was the man she wanted. She'd ask nothing more than to look at him and to listen to him for the rest of her life. Then and there, she decided that those privileges were worth slaving for all her life."

"The sad thing was in the knowing that all their nerve would get them nowhere in the world and that they were lost as all people in Brooklyn seem lost when the day is nearly over and even though the sun is still bright, it is thin and doesn't give you warmth when it shines on you."

"One delves into the imagination and finds beauty there. The writer, like the artist, must strive for beauty always."
"What is beauty?" asked the child.
"I can think of no better definition than Keats': 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty.'"
"Francie took her courage into her two hands and said, "Those stories are the truth."

"Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost."

"If there was only one tree like that in the world, you would think it was beautiful," said Katie. "But because there are so many, you just can't see how beautiful it really is."

#3: "Doomed City," by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky

What I Say Now:

This story by the Strugatsky brothers was hugely controversial in the context of Communist Russia, but despite that backdrop, it was funnier than expected, evoking “Animal Farm” and “Catch-22” at times. There was admittedly a lot of symbolism and satire to wade through, making the book confusing and hard to follow at times. The brothers were clearly working on a number of levels, but the end result was an interesting read as well as a compelling political and social commentary.

Passages to Remember: 

"'The Experiment is the Experiment,' said the Mentor. 'It's not understanding that is required of you but something quite different.'
'If one only knew ...'"

"Well, great writers are always grouching too. It's their normal condition, because they are society's sick conscience, although society doesn't have the slightest suspicion that they even exist."

"You're being asked a simple question: Can a society exist without creative talents?"

"Deeds should be worshipped, not statues. And maybe not even deeds should be worshipped. Because everyone only does what he's capable of doing. One makes a revolution, another makes a tin whistle. Maybe I only have enough strength for a tin whistle--so that does mean I'm shit?"

"A myth is a description of a real event as perceived by a fool and refined by a poet."

#4: "Hillbilly Elegy," by J.D. Vance

What I Say Now:

Vance’s book was trumped (pun intended) as an explanation for the ascension of Trumpism. However, in retrospect, it’s difficult to view the story outside the prism of it as a launching pad for Vance’s burgeoning conservative political career. He rightly points out the “cognitive dissonance” that Southerners experience when their perception of self doesn’t match up with reality; the choice to embrace a disconnect between their world and their values. The book fails, however, when Vance attempts to turn himself into a superhero, refusing to take responsibility and trivializing violence and destructive behavior as somehow justified or a rote fact of life in a region. Though a number of analogies fell short and Vance very clearly and evasively avoids any talk of potential solutions, “Hillbilly Elegy” ends up here due to its relative importance in the national discussion and its attempt to explain the inexplicable.

Passages to Remember: 

"There is a cultural movement in the white working class to blame problems on society or the government, and that movement gains adherents by the day."

"How much of our lives, good and bad, should we credit to our personal decisions, and how much is just the inheritance of our culture, our families, and our parents who have failed their children?"

" ... being a hillbilly meant sometimes not knowing the difference between love and war."

#5: "Sleeping Beauties," by Stephen and Owen King

What I Say Now:

The unique father-son writing format drew me in, and the plot line itself was endlessly absorbing. However, the dialogue felt a bit off for a Stephen King work, and the book suffered from some repetition and unwieldy language, which may reflect the impact of son Owen King. The story fell apart a bit at the end, with some loose ends left untied and a seeming rush to conclude. Overall, a worthwhile read and an intriguing consideration due to the father-son dynamic.

Passages to Remember: 

"Another part of getting older: you forgot what you wanted to remember, and remembered what you wanted to forget."

" ... People loved their pets, often with a degree of openness they couldn't allow themselves to express toward other people."

"Something flickered in Lila's mind, the mental equivalent of a glittering fleck in the sand, quickly washed over by a frothing wave."

"The Internet is a bright house standing above a dark cellar with a dirt floor. Falsehoods sprout like mushrooms in that cellar. Some are tasty; many are poisonous."

"The rain sounded like an ocean being stirred."

"What did any of it mean? What was the point?
"Terry decided the point might be a gun. He got out Frank's flask and had a tug."

"Loss changes you. Sometimes that's bad. Sometimes it's good. Either way, you eat your goddam pork chop and go on."

Honorable Mention (in 10 words or less):

"Walkaway," by Cory Doctorow: Absorbing, clever tech tale damaged by unrealistic, Sorkin-like dialogue.
"Two Gentlemen of Lebowski," by Adam Bertocci: Hysterical quick read cleverly translates Dude into highly quotable stanzas.
"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," by Samuel Langhorne Clemens: Reread of literary treasure ineligible for Scooties, but welcomed excellence.
"Letterman: The Last King of Late Night," Jason Zinoman: Iffy writing somewhat sabotages biography of tortured entertainment genius.
"Content Rules,” by Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman: Good, if dated, resource collection somewhat offset by unlanded humor.
"The Open Organization," Jim Whitehurst: Manual for tech innovation through creative abrasion, tension-driven collaboration.
"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," by Robert M. Pirsig: Overrated tale of bad father motorcycling, thinking in fortune cookies.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Limerick Friday #440: "Godless" Takes Netflix By Storm, Plus "Mr. Robot" Ups The Anarchy In Season 3

Jeff Daniels as a plains devil
Cinematography on another level
A genre-bending tour de force
Kinda like "Scarface" on a horse
In "Godless," all western fans revel

An end to the reign of error
Open mikes she will go on to terror
A writer who can't write
A manager who can't manage right
A parenting class might make her care-r

Playoffs usually mean one and done
Slipped past the first week by one
Then I won by three
Chopped the pot politely
Gonna lose the title by like a ton

Won 8 of the last 11 meetings
No matter what the seedings
The rams never stop bleating
Even though the cheating
Has yet to stop the Pack beatings

Mr. Robot was ripped from the headlines
Navigating technology landmines
The FBI working with Big Biz
Common folk beholden to a hacker whiz
Need Elliott to stop American deadlines

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Limerick Friday #439: His Loss Had Us All Free-Fallin', Plus We Needed A Drug Besides Tryptophan

He made rock & roll heady
For his departure we weren't ready
"Full Moon Fever" a classic
Though some thought him Jurassic
Music won't be the same minus Tom Petty

Is Doeren real or fake?
The question after a collapse at Wake
A promising season does fade
His own bed has he made
Today everyone knows what's at stake

'80s nostalgia shown delightfully
Dustin's one of the best things on TV
Hopper was hiding Eleven
An upside-down binge-watching heaven
Stranger Things, so when is season three?

Can't find a dependable tight end
Or a kicker whose kick doesn't bend
A promising fantasy season
Fading for the injury reason
Offer me someone healthy and press send

Drama the order of the day
Many games of he say, she say
'Tis the season for strife
Now pass the carving knife
That's just the Thanksgiving way

Friday, October 27, 2017

Limerick Friday #438: Don't Look Now, But The Pack Has A Squad, Plus King Finally Translates To TV With A Win

The offensive line was a joke
So the coach did rails of coke
We play like a dump
So let me do a bump
The 'Fins in 2017, folks

5-3 so far on the year
In a schedule that's a bit queer
Solid roster top to bottom
Need a tight end if you got 'im
Jordan Reed is an injury fear

The Pack's pretty good, I swear
Though the local media doesn't care
They'd rather talk UNC-Cheat
And sniff jocks as part of their beat
While NC State continues its tear

On decency he's taken a dump
With the IQ and awareness of Gump
Embarrassing days for our nation
What's led us to this low station?
Hate in the age of Trump

Mr. Mercedes the surprise of the season
Freaked me out beyond reason
Stephen King well-translated to screen
Acting better than I've seen
Need a Season 2 if you pleasin'

Friday, October 06, 2017

Limerick Friday #437: Tom Petty Passing Got Me Free-Fallin’, Plus Fantasy Got Me Bobbin’ And Weavin’

Vegas hit us all in the mouth
Reflecting an America uncouth
Then Tom Petty died
And every music fan cried
Especially those of us “Down South”

Jitters made me want to heave
Penalties made me want to leave
But amidst all the elation
I ask you Wolfpack Nation
Are you finally ready to believe?

A racist dotard pile of blah
Has made us the world’s pariah
Ignored his own citizens in need
Threw them toilet paper indeed
This is who are now, America fuck yeah

One woman lived only on bread fat
To her, other ones kinda fed that
From a place that didn’t know comms
To one rife with pom-poms
Culture shock, thy name is Red Hat

A league with ever-changing rules
Filled with no-trading fools
A 14-team stalwart once
Now it’s like third-down punts
Fantasy football, a kick in the jewels