Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Celebratory End-of-the-Season Baseball (and Halloween) Blog

Been on the road, traveling through the Southwest U.S., enjoying amazing monsoon-season sunsets and sunrises--working on our screenplay but not blogging much this month. Also, I'm swept up in the world series--Go SF Giants, or as we prefer to call them, Los Gigantes!

In fact, I'm dedicating this blog to my cousin Kirsten Silva Gruesz of Santa Cruz, who wrote the hands-down best Facebook post this year, which I'm sharing below. Thanks, Kiki! Enjoy. (Oh, and I'm impressed that she managed to avoid mentioning "Dubya" who we all know was a part owner of the Texas Rangers, and has been seen smirking from their sidelines lately. Need I say more?)

Top 10 Reasons My Out-Of-Town Friends Should Be Rooting for the Giants

10 . Come on, is it not the loveliest ballpark ever, surrounded by water on two sides and crowned with a whimsical statue of a glove?

9. If your own team is in the NL, you have no choice but to stand united against the designated hitter rule.

8. The statute of limitations on Barry Bonds has run out.

7. Chances are good that either Brian Wilson or Tim Lincecum will make sarcastic postgame comments that are not completely canned (as in “It just felt good to get out there and help the team”).

6. The overhyped “bad-boy” qualities of each are minor, even kind of sweet (tats, a little off-season weed), compared to the usual pro-athlete vices like sex addiction, steroid use, and denial of same (see #8). Moreover, here in NorCal, we’re proud of the label “Freak.”

5. Announcer Jon Miller likes to shout, “!Adioooos, pelota!” when Uribe or Sandoval hits a home run, which goes some way toward making up for the long-ago ban on speaking Spanish in the Giants dugout.

4. Plenty of non-Latinos, like Miller, wear those cool Gigantes jerseys, so maybe the boycott on Arizona’s hosting of the All-Star Game next year will take off after all. []

3. Are you really considering rooting for a team named after a group that was responsible for scores of racially motivated lynchings in Texas well into the 20th century? Los Rinches doesn't quite have the same ring as Los Gigantes, does it?

2. The unoffical Giants postseason anthem will make you replay the final scenes of the last episode of The Sopranos by planting that awful, sticky song in your head again—but the lyrics are funnier, so it won't hurt as much. The guy’s a Banana Slug, to boot! []

1. It’s Halloween anyway, so you won’t look silly wearing their colors.

I've started re-reading "War and Peace" on Kindle...which always makes me think of Robin Williams' line "I love literature--I read War AND Peace!" More on Tolstoy soon.
hasta pronto!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Solidarity: A Couple of New Book Reviews

Just finished reading Vanishing Acts: A Tragedy, the debut novel by Bogota-based author Forrest Hylton, about a young American anthropologist working in Medellin, Columbia. I must confess to being a bit shocked, at first, by the language and the somewhat graphic sex--and I am not easily shocked. However, the writing is quite good--I really saw his scenes unfold, whether in noisy Medellin bars, or on rural comunes. Hylton's characters are also richly drawn, even the ones whose actions are enigmatic, and ultimately, I was moved by the story of this guy's search for both love and meaning.
The depiction of Columbia's working people was an eye-opener to me--the fictional anthropologist character found, as I've found in Mexico, that not everyone welcomes drugs or the violence they bring. Turns out most people everywhere want to live a decent, simple, life, as long as they can live that life with dignity and human rights. Hylton knows of what he speaks; he has written extensively on Columbia (and Bolivia), check out more about him on wikipedia
Vanishing Acts is highly unusual in having two versions of its text bound together, one completely in English (with the stray word in Spanish) and the other in which the book's dialogue is all en espanol...And a wonderful polyglot of New York City-Columbian-Spanglish at times.
Another new novel to recommend--this one set in San Diego and Los Angeles--is Jim Miller's Flash. This compelling tale follows a no-longer-young hipster journalist who has held on to little but his principles in his life's journey and must now learn how to be an adult and a father.
Discovering traces of a long-dead labor activist in some historical archives, the journalist sets out to discover who Bobby Flash was, and what made him champion the working man so relentlessly. The time-frame of the labor struggles (riots, strikes, marches, and every sort of abuse) was fascinating to me--I've always been interested in the period from the 1900s up to the Great Depression in the "United Snakes", and this was even more intriguing to me, as the book's story-within-the-story is mostly set in Southern California.
Riding the trolley through San Diego's neighborhoods, reading about workers almost a century ago trying to better their lot in life, I was struck by how little life has changed for today's working people. Other than cell phones and second hand designer clothes, the people that clean American's homes, watch their children, and tend to their landscapes, are the same poor class they were in 1916. No one I speak to seems to resent this situation, or dreams of strikes, or of unions, or even of a vastly better life, though there are appeals to be treated with dignity. And many of them are immigrants who'd like at least the possibility of citizenship someday. (It seems to me to be little enough to promise them.)
Flash has an upbeat and even hopeful ending, which makes it all the more melancholy to consider its theme.
We're heading south of the border today to the Baja Book Festival in Rosarito Beach area.
Hasta pronto!