Archive for February, 2009
I’d be sitting on a train, reading Drink, Play, F@#k: One Man’s Search for Anything Across Ireland, Vegas, and Thailand by Andrew Gottlieb, and a woman on the train would smile at me and sigh just a little. Then she’d get a closer look at the cover. The smile would degrade into a frown of confusion, and finally come to rest as a smirk of contempt. The third time, the woman in question was actually reading her copy of Eat, Pray, Love: One woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. I’m telling you – there might be five men on the entire planet that have read that book, and four of them read their wives’ copy while no one (including their wives) were looking. The prospect of finding a man reading it on a commuter train was a source of great fulfillment for these women, cruelly dashed by the clever cover art of Paul D’Innocenzo.
When I first saw Drink, Play, F@#k… in the bookstore, I chuckled to myself, but wrote off buying it because I figured it was a parody of Eat, Pray, Love…, and most of the humor would be lost on me (given that I’m not one of the five men discussed earlier). But then Martin Wilson, the book’s publisher, saw my blog post on the topic, and sent me a free copy. And so, with my ego properly stroked and my motivations properly aligned, I read it. And I’m here to tell you that I fully enjoyed it, even though I still have no idea (or desire to learn) what Eat, Pray, Love… is all about.
Drink, Play, F@#k… concerns Bob Sullivan, a thirty-something New York businessman who’s wife of eight years leaves him for another man. In an effort to rid himself of the pain this caused, Bob decides to quit his job and spend a year cavorting around the world. His trip is divided neatly into three, four-month jaunts – to Ireland, where he drinks heavily, to Vegas where he plays everything from craps to golf, and to Thailand where he, well…you can read the title.
Bob establishes up front that his true love in all of this, his metaphor for life if you will, is the roulette wheel. So much so that the book is divided into 38 small chapters – twelve in each country, plus two introductory chapters (the zero and double-zero). I’ve always liked books that are organized this way – you can pick them up, read an entire chapter, and walk away feeling like you accomplished something in less than five minutes. Not that I put this book down too many times…
Before you think I’m gushing just because I got a free copy of the book, I should tell you that my hopes were not high in the beginning. The first twelve chapters (Ireland) were supposed to be about drinking. As it turns out, only eight of them were. The other four were rants about Bob’s ex-wife, intended to explain to us just how hurt and pissed off he was about his wife’s infidelity and general whininess. One of them is even dedicated to clarifying that his wife is not the “evil, crazy bitch” that the other three chapters clearly show her to be. The other eight chapters were indeed about drinking, but that’s really about it. Bob drinks with a redhead named Giovanna. He drinks with his friend Colin. He drinks in exotic locations. And while he’s drinking, well, not much happens. I was beginning to think that the entire book was going to be a plotless platform for this fictional guy to bitch about his cheating ex-wife.
Then Bob went to Vegas. Here, me meets his “guru,” Rick, and together, they have several, honest-to-goodness adventures. There are the requisite “win a lot of money” and “lose a lot of money” stories that you’d expect from a Vegas trip, but also some clever bits on a golf course and even a helicopter ride with a hot waitress in the Grand Canyon (want to know more? Read the book!). By the time Rick sends Bob off to Thailand to get laid, I was thoroughly hooked.
In Thailand, as promised, there is plenty of sex. But along the way, the adventures continue. Bob meets some interesting characters, not all of which turn into sexual conquests, and eventually redeems his Ireland stories with a nice tie-in to the first section that I won’t reveal here.
When all was said and done, I walked away feeling completely satisfied with the story. It was a quick read, cleverly written, and with enough plot twists to keep me interested throughout. This is the kind of book I’ll probably throw into a beach bag a few years from now and read again, because I’ll remember it as a good read, but forget the details of what happened.
…and also to see the looks on the womens’ faces when they realize what I’m (not) reading.
In the spirit of my previous post – What Happened? A Summary of the Financial Crisis, I present what I hope will be a factual, non-partisan view of President Obama’s recently announced plan to reduce home foreclosures – the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan.
If such things interest you, click below the fold. Otherwise, please enjoy my next post, which makes reference to alcohol, gambling and sex.
Back in February, amidst steroid abuse charges against Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens, I wrote this:
I mention my kids because I’m very much of the opinion that sports, for adults, is entertainment. It’s a diversion from the things that truly matter in our lives – our families, our jobs, our communities, our politics, etc. As an adult, my interest in whether or not a professional baseball player cheated to win a World Series doesn’t amount to much more than idle gossip. It simply isn’t that important in the big picture. But kids view sports differently. Kids dream of becoming professional athletes. They emulate them. They watch their every move and listen to their every word. The athletes are, for better of for worse, heroes in their world. Superheroes, like Superman or Batman, but real enough to watch on TV and during the occasional trip to the ballpark.
I went on to talk about what I told my kids about folks like Giambi, Pettitte, and Clemens. I encourage you to re-read the post, but in summary, it’s this: “great baseball players, but also cheaters. And no one likes to play with a cheater.” Pettitte’s case, it should be repeated, was a bit different, in that his sin was more about not listening to your doctor and not about trying to win by breaking the rules. Also, he apologized for it when he got caught. I hope my kids never cheat, but if they do cheat, I hope they have the sense to apologize and make things right.
Which brings me to Alex Rodriguez.
I’ve been playing around with the template here at Familygreenberg.com. And is often the case when I do that, I call upon my small but loyal group of regular readers to throw some feedback my way. Here’s what I think I’ve done. Please tell me if you see anything differently on your end:
- Header Image: Inspired by Jeff Porten‘s “images of things in his life” and Ilya Burlak‘s “horizontal image that doesn’t take up a lot of space on the page” styles, I give you the new Familygreenberg.com header image! (Huzzah!) I’m especially proud of getting the site name in the upper-left and the current page/post title in the upper-right. It’s the little things that make me happy, really. Anyway, thoughts? Comments? (Oh, and if you really miss the “cloud,” it still lives over at http://www.familygreenberg.com, which redirects users back to the homepage).
- Font and Justification: The Veranda font and full-justify spacing were starting to get to me, so I migrated to Georgia font (heck – if it’s readable enough for The New York Times, it’s readable enough for me), and good ol’ fashioned left-justification.
- Small changes to the footer text. Not that anyone ever reads it anyway…
- I changed the Bold tag so the text is black, rather than the grey it used to be (the grey always seemed less emphasized than the rest of the text to me…)
- Some tweaks to how I get images to left & right justify. This shouldn’t be visible to you, but if you don’t mind clicking over to this post and making sure the first book cover image is right-justified and the second one is left-justified, that’ll be a good test for me.
That’s about it for now. Other suggestions for things I can do to pretty up the place are welcome as well, of course…
In the mail today:
This marks the first time anyone’s ever sent me anything because of something I’ve written on my blog, so first of all – as the kids might say: W00T!
Secondly, my mission is now to uphold my part of the bargain, which includes reading the book and posting my review back here at I Should Be Sleeping.
Watch this space…
I used to read Dave Barry’s stuff all the time, and then he kind of fell off my radar. This afternoon, his name popped into my head for some reason, so I went searching, and wound up at his annual Year in Review. This feature of his never disappoints, and 2008 is no exception.
JANUARY. . . begins, as it does every four years, with presidential contenders swarming into Iowa and expressing sincerely feigned interest in corn.
In FEBRUARY . . . the undefeated New England Patriots lose the Super Bowl to the New York Giants in a stunning upset that confounds the experts, not to mention Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which had $38 billion on the Pats to win.
In MARCH . . . the troubled Olympic torch becomes embroiled in a protest riot in Athens; witnesses claim the torch ”reeked of alcohol.”
In APRIL . . . John McCain gets wind of something called the ”Internet” and orders his staff to give him a summary of it on index cards.
In MAY . . . both the Kentucky Derby and the Indianapolis 500 are won by Usain Bolt.
In JUNE . . . the scientific community is elated by NASA’s announcement that the Phoenix lander has detected ice on Mars. The elation turns to concern when, several hours later, the lander detects a Zamboni machine.
In JULY . . . the economic news continues to worsen with the discovery that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have sent $87 billion to a Nigerian businessman with a compelling e-mail story.
In AUGUST . . . Barack Obama, continuing to shake up the establishment, selects as his running mate Joe Biden, a tireless fighter for change since he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1849.
In SEPTEMBER . . . the Republican convention gets off to a tentative start in St. Paul when President Bush and Vice President Cheney are unable to attend, partly because of Hurricane Gustav, and partly because the organizers told them that the convention was in Atlanta.
In OCTOBER . . . the entire nation rejoices as the World Series is won, yet again, by a team other than the New York Yankees.
In NOVEMBER . . . Barack Obama, in a historic triumph, becomes the nation’s first black president since the second season of 24, setting off an ecstatically joyful and boisterous all-night celebration that at times threatens to spill out of The New York Times newsroom.
and in DECEMBER . . . The CEOs of the Increasingly Small Three auto makers return to Washington to resume pleading for a bailout, this time telling Congress that if they can reach an agreement that day, they will throw in the undercoating, the satellite-radio package AND a set of floor mats. ”We’re actually LOSING MONEY on this deal!” they assure Congress.
Kudos to Seth Meyers and Saturday Night Live for calling out the folks who fall all over themselves to call out Michael Phelps:
NOTE #1: Not entirely safe for work, in a late-night network TV kind of way…
NOTE #2: But still hilarious, also in a late-night network TV kind of way…
NOTE #3: Thanks to Willow Gross for passing it along…
Hat tip to Josiah Neiderbach for sending along this fantastic photo:
Very soon, my baseball friends, very, very soon…
Bill Gates, speaking at the always awesome Technology, Entertainment & Design (TED) conference, made a point about the dangers of mosquito-spread malaria by releasing a handful of mosquitoes into the crowd, stating, “There’s no reason that only poor people should be infected,” and then after a few seconds of nervous laughter, telling them that his mosquitoes were malaria free. (The video, which is about twenty minutes long, but well worth the watching, is here).
Some folks were not amused:
Peggy McClure, a retired educator from San Jose who has an uncommon but life threatening allergy to mosquito bites, had this to say:
“I was appalled. I have anaphylactic shock reaction to mosquitoes. I have actually been bitten in Los Angeles County where he did this and had to be hospitalized. Everyday I sleep with a mosquito net in San Jose. Obviously this is wasn’t a very smart idea… to those of us who have to walk around with an EpiPen in our purse every day. I applaud what he’s doing to eradicate malaria. I just think he should realize that live mosquitoes aren’t good.”
Yeah, she’s right. Mr. Gates – it was a cheap stunt that got your talk more publicity than it would otherwise get, but here’s a thought: if the canister you opened turned out to be empty, you’d have made the same point without putting anyone’s health at risk. Maybe next time, ‘mkay?