Friday, August 29, 2014

Health Food

I don't know which is sadder... that I think adding lettuce, tomato, and peppers to a sandwich makes it healthy... or that compared to everything else I eat, it is healthy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

10th Blogiversary!

Today is the 10th anniversary of The Hum of Desperation blog. This is the 1,584th post I've published.

I began blogging as DJWriter, my not-particularly-creative name for my nowhere-near-successful freelance writing business. I thought blogging would drive traffic to my business site. I thought having a personal blog could get me a gig writing a corporate blog. What a fool I was.

Inspired somewhat by Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn's blog, I began with more political material, although books, music, and my personal life were always in the mix (Jen Garrett was another early influence). Does that sound like a recipe for success? Of course not. This blog has never had a focus so it has never attracted much of a following. Heck, even my wife and my best friend never read it. After a few years I burned out on politics and turned to writing mostly about books. Occasionally I get the thrill of receiving a comment from an author.

My most popular post over the years is a little rant about Las Vegas from 2005 that struck a nerve with a lot of Vegas haters (many of them residents), drawing more than 300 comments to date. That's probably five times more than all my other posts put together. For the past few months, strangely, it has been eclipsed by another nine-year-old post about gay hookups in rest areas. Perhaps even odder, the second most popular post recently is about the 2006 State of the Union address!

My interest in The Hum of Desperation waxes and wanes, but my most prolific days are surely long gone. Lately, more often than not, I'll consider writing about something and ultimately decide it isn't worth the effort. I wish this anniversary had come at a time when I was more enthusiastic about blogging. Regardless, ten years is a long time for me to stay interested in anything so it's worth celebrating.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

2014 Books Part XI

Take a Seat: One Man, One Tandem and Twenty Thousand Miles of Possibilities by Dominic Gill - I had to buy this the instant I read its gimmick: guy pedals a tandem bike from Alaska to Argentina and invites strangers to hop on the stoker seat. Gill takes his time with many extended layovers, collecting some great stories along the way. I could never tour that way, though. I don't have the temperament for dealing with so many strangers in unfamiliar cultures and rolling with whatever happens. So one disappointment with this book is that it failed to reawaken the bicycle tourist in me. My other disappointment is what Gill left out. I understand that a book about a long trip cannot tell everything, but he should have written more about the people who rode with him since that is what sets Take a Seat apart from other bicycle touring stories. 4 stars

Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling by BikeSnobNYC - Never having read the BikeSnobNYC blog, I was shocked by how different this book is from what I expected. I thought the author would be judgmental and full of attitude but actually he's pretty reasonable. Sure he makes fun of hipsters, but hell, they deserve it. I bought this at Borders several years ago mostly because I'll buy any bike book if it's cheap enough. If I had known how much I would enjoy it, I wouldn't have waited so long to read it. 5 stars

I, Goldstein: My Screwed Life by Al Goldstein & Josh Alan Friedman - This memoir from one of America's most (in)famous pornographers is hilarious, disgusting, and entertaining. It's also pretty sad. The publisher of Screw magazine wrote this after his world collapsed—he blew millions of dollars and stayed in homeless shelters before Penn Jillette gave him an apartment. He tells some great stories here, but sometimes it's a little hard to follow. 3 stars

Strange Days: The Adventures of a Grumpy Rock 'n' Roll Journalist in Los Angeles by Dean Goodman - I had never heard of Goodman, probably because he wrote for Reuters. The material is largely from the 1990s, but most of the artists he covers were past their commercial prime by then (that's just an observation, not a complaint). Strange Days is pretty good as far as the rock interview genre goes. 4 stars