Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kings of Leon and New Top 5 List

Today, I had another workshop for my new story in my fiction course. It went well. When I got home, I planned on reading through all the letters that my classmates write in response to my story. However, while checking my email, I found that Kings of Leon put their entire new album, "Because of the Times" up on their myspace page for a free advance listen. The album comes out next tuesday and I have been anticipating it like crazy. So, instead of reading through my workshop letters, I sat in my dark office and listened to this album in its entirety through headphones. Wow. Its incredible. Check it out by clicking here.

Also, last friday, stacey and i went to another GWA (graduate writers association) reading at the Landmark inn. Just like last time we went, it was wonderful. We all sit in a room at the hotel and listen to each other read recent poems, stories and essays. A waiter comes by and gives us stuff to drink. Our heads get lighter and we listen to unique voices reading powerful writing and playful writing and sad writing and hopeful writing. It is such a great experience as so many of us writers are all in the same boat, here: laboring over every word on our new story or poem late into the night and hoping that it may be the one that might be published or speak some truth to a ready ear. Whether it is this experience or the concentration of serious, serious work and sweat put into these pages or the possibility and fear of the truth that may have been read that night, we often all drink too much and end up at another bar laughing and arguing and talking about hemingway. After sitting with my writing friends late at the shamrock late into friday night, this was certainly the case. Saturday morning i came up with this list:

Top 6 Albums for a Hang-on (greek-speak for a hangover)
1. Tom Petty's "Wildflowers"
2. Grateful Dead's "Live in Europe, 1972"
3. Pavement's "Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain"
4. Black Rebel Motorcyle Club's "Howl"
5. Sufjan Steven's "Greetings From Michigan: The Great Lakes State"
6. Kings of Leon's "Aha Shake Heartbreak"

feel free to post your own top 6.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Graduate Assistantship

Saturday, while playing backgammon and drinking Jameson with my family back in GR, I received a phone call from my advisor in the English office at NMU. He called to offer me the Graduate Assistant position that I'd applied for. This means that, starting next fall, I will be teaching a Freshman Composition class, on my own, but with guidance from a mentor. In addition, all my tuition will be waived and I'll be given a stipend to live on. I am very excited. and, i just figured I would update everyone. For those of you that were praying for this, thank you. We are blessed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

not a cheap trick

seriously, this is no cheap trick. this is real. this is rock'n'roll. if you want to be the next rick nielson, you need the best up-date reviews in rock'n'roll critique. you can find it here.

Monday, March 12, 2007


the king wants YOU to have access to the best rock'n'roll reviews and top 5 lists in the jailhouse. do it here: uh-uhha-huh-uh-huh (quivering lip not shown).

Sunday, March 11, 2007


alright. we are home. last night we just threw our bags in the office, got some food, then just vegged while we watched "marie antoinette" and "the departed." today we set about the fun task of unpacking and cleaning our apartment. I was very tentative about unpacking my backpack as i already found one scorpion crawling through my hiking clothes (see below). so, very slowly, i unzipped each pocket, peered into it with a flashlight, then pulled out every item, shook it a few times and set it aside. I didn't want to leave the room during this process in case a scorpion crawled out while i was gone and i couldn't find it. I took out every item of clothing and put them right in the dirty clothes bin, that went right to the washing machine (i figured if i missed one, i'd at least drown it). all that to say, my backpack is finally deloused of critters. no venomous arachnids in our apartment, clothes, or luggage.
i must say, though, a little bit of me kinda wanted to find another one. I had already planned out the container I would keep it in--a cardboard box with holes punched in the top--and what flora and fauna i would place in the box to make my scorpion feel like he was in the desert--some sand, a large peice of bark, a few rocks, maybe some snow just to confuse it, and a bowl of water--and exactly what i would feed it--crickets, grasshoppers, earwigs, old research papers. But, alas, no scorpion. i suppose we'll sleep better knowing that are apartment, though drafty and with a nonstop running toilet, is venom free. safe for children and sleepy students. i can safely walk around without socks and lay on the couch without investigating under its cushions. though, the experience made me want a pet. i'm sure i'll get over that, for now.

sleep well, i finally will.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


as you may know, i've been in tucson, AZ for the past week. and have spent much of my time hiking in the mountains. well, as it is our last night here, i was packing my clothes into my backpack and apparently brought something back from the mountains with me. i was rolling up a shirt and as i shoved it into my pack, this crawled out. also, if you didn't know, im staying in a condo with my wife and her grandma, aunt and cousins. im the only guy here with five girls. i wanted to be discreet about catching it and letting it go outside, but i needed something to put it in and did not want to lose sight of it. so, i had to yell to stacey in the other room to bring me a cup and a cover. then, everybody came in my room to see what is up. thats when i caught it, and let it loose outside, after everybody saw it. i wonder how the girls will sleep tonight...

p.s. grandma troost did a little research on this scorpion and what she found is here. in case you don't read it, here's what you missed:

"It is the most dangerous scorpion in Arizona. The sting of this scorpion can be fatal to humans, mainly infants and small children, so it is important to be careful when picking up firewood or rocks. During the past century, the sting of this scorpion has killed more people in Arizona than all types of poisonous snakes combined."

sleep well.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


since spring break started, these are the books I've read, and all three of them are very much worth mentioning. The first is George Saunders, In Persuasion Nation. This is an incredibly (almost) flawless collection of short stories. From cover to cover, the best collection i've read. If you want stories, but do not want to tackle 300+ pages, read this. If you want social consciousness and commentary that probably will lend insight to some of the frightening things you notice in our culture, but are not sure how to articulate them yourself, read this. I think he is master of the craft, and is very thorough. If you dont want the social commentary, read it anyway. The stories can be both funny and devastatingly sad at the same time. I am confident that these stories are all very important. And I know that there are few writers like George Saunders. Check this out, please.

The next book I read was Lee Siegel's Who Wrote the Book of Love. This is part of a quasi-trilogy about writing about love. I've read Love in a Dead Language, and it was equally as wonderful as this book. If you don't mind reading about the complexities of love, mainly sex, from the perspective of a five-year-old lusting after his classmates and friend's sisters, while ultimately learning priceless lessons of love that some of us that are not five-year-olds still have trouble understanding, this is a book you should read. Siegel's mastery of lanuage (he's a professor of religion studies at the University of Hawaii) and wordplay, puns, allusions, etc is so evident in this book. There are many plays on Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn throughout the book. If you catch them, you will undoubtedly fall out of your chair in a fit of laughter and utter amazement at this guy's brilliance and mastery. I'm a bit biased as I started reading this book already in love with Siegel, but am confident that if you like a well written story and are somewhat interested in sex (and love), you will like (and want to sleep with) this book.

After finishing the Siegel novel, I found this on a used shelf at a grocery store in Tucson. Immediately I thought of the hardcover first edition of Where the Sidewalk Ends that I lost to my brother in a latenight card game months before his daughter was born. (Although I haven't yet given him all the books and CD's that i lost to him that night via IOU's, I feel that the Silverstein book was a good start). Anyway, this is Shel Silverstein's The Missing Piece and it is fantastic. The drawings, the rhyme, the simple story: wonderful, as Silverstein is. I read it in one sitting (on the toilet, so the book has already been defiled and the chances of my brother now wanting this one during a late-nite card game has dropped drastically) and it was as close to literary happiness as I have ever acheived while sitting on the toilet. I would like to thank Shel for that moment. If you've read Silverstein, there is no sense in describing this book. it is simple, clever, and I am sure that if you ever owned a puppy, or listened to Dr. Hook and The Medicine Band, you will enjoy it. The only difference is that this is one complete story instead of a collection of stories.

I am currently reading Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49. The picture here is of an audio recording, but I am actually reading it. I am enjoying the read: wonderful sentences, mysterious, with some blunt comments on metafiction and studying literature. I've heard that this is probably the most read Pynchon novel, but not the best. I suppose it is the most read because it is the shortest. Which is, guiltfully, why I picked it up. All I can say is that I am thus far enjoying it, and appreciating the humorous techniques Pynchon uses and hope to, by the end, understand exactly what purpose those techniques are serving.

Hope you check out these books, and i hope you enjoy them.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


stacey and i are in tucson arizona this week. we're on spring break from school, and are out here with her grandma, aunt and cousins. it is out-of-control beautiful out here. like marquette, but different. where in marquette there are mountains of snow, here there are mountains of jagged rock. where, in marquette, beer cans and cigarette cartons dot the snow, here cactus and wildflowers pepper the mountains. it is wonderful. the sky goes on forever. at night, it feels unnatural, like it is still being worked on, like color splotches are lined up in the sky waiting for an artist to pick the right one. i'm fine with all of them. we went hiking yesterday. these pictures are all ones stacey took . some from the condo, some from our hike. well, i think people are waiting for me, so i better get going. i'll probably write some more later.

sorry about the rushed-ness of this post.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

happy birthday cobb...

just so everybody knows, its this guy's birthday today. actually, since i am posting this late at night, yesterday was actually his birthday. (the one on the left--the one on the right is my neice, emily). This is my cousin, jacob: my hunting, guitaring, "madden"ing (as in the playstation football game--not the act of inciting anger within one), heater installing, golfing, soon-to-be-fathering, always laughing (and making others do so), rugbying, fishing comrade and brother who is also always willing to drive his two brothas (from another motha) to taco bell when we've had too much too drink. i love you jacob. can't wait to see ya in a couple weeks. work on that golf swing, spring is coming. GO TIGERS!!! --manbaby