Book Log – Shakespeare Wrote for Money

Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby

This is the third and purportedly final collection of Hornby’s monthly essays about reading from The Believer magazine.

I am terribly disappointed that he stopped writing this column. I finished the book on the plane ride to Juarez this week, and laughed out loud a few times, which is embarrassing.

Do you read for fun? Are you not pretentious about reading? Do you want dozens and dozens of good recommendations spanning many genres and decades?Then you absolutely need to read these collections. I think they’re funnier than Nick Hornby’s novels, and I dearly love his novels.

Also, the introduction is by Sarah Vowell, who everyone should be in love with. My favorite excerpt:

I’m dismayed by how cheered up I was when the September 2006 issue of The Believer arrived and under “Books Read” Hornby had put down “none.” In that column, collected herein, he confesses that he didn’t read a book at all because something called “the World Cup” was on TV. I’m not entirely sure what that is, as I do not live in the world; I live in the United States. But from what I can tell, he didn’t crack a book because this World Cup thing was as all-consuming a free-time eater-upper as the DVDs of the first three seasons of Battlestar Galactica were to me. Not that I’m convinced that this Ukraine v. Tunisia rivalry he describes has the depth of feeling and moral ambiguity so dramatically summoned by the space humans’ ongoing war with the Cylons the humans themselves created, but then again what does?

Go get this book, and the others. If you come by my house, I’ll loan them to you. Probably.

Volume 2: Housekeeping vs. The Dirt
Volume 1: The Polysyllabic Spree

Who is going to continue what Hornby has started? Who will have the time and dedication to read 7 or 8 books a month and write about them in a humorous way?

I’m accepting applications in the comments below. It’s an unpaid position, and anyone likely to recommend Tolkein need not apply.

Various and Sundries

The kids have been in Kentucky this week. I don’t know that I’ve spent the time as wisely as I could, but probably properly.

We got home late Sunday after many setbacks in departing Kentucky, though with a cooler of leftover pulled-pork and chicken bbq.

Monday night I had my second Karate class at the Atlanta Cuong Nhu center, which is down near Dad’s Garage Theater. This is the place where RocketBoy has been going for a few months now with varied success. He suggested I start taking classes and promised to help me, so I thought that sounded like a good idea.

The people are very nice, and I feel energized (if physically tired) after the classes, so I believe I’ll stick with it.

Tuesday night, with the kids gone and both steakums and I free of obligations, we of course headed straight for the bedroom… where I scrubbed the master bathroom to within an inch of its life and Stacey began her cleaning and organizing of the rest of the house.

Later, smelling of cleaning supplies and sweat, we put our feet up on the couch, drank some wine and watched a couple episodes from Weeds, Season 4, Disk 1.

Last night, Stacey had to work, so I did what any bachelor-type guy would do when confronted with a free evening… ordered pizza, de-molded the bathroom ceiling, watched Spanish language television, and folded laundry. Are you with me, guys? Right?

I’m actually delighted with the discovery of the Spanish language stations. I don’t think our TV has ever been tuned to anything except PBS, Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel. All of the grown-up TV1 watching is either done through Netflix DVDs or Hulu.

I watched Un Gancho al Coraz√≥n (literally, A Hook to the Heart, but I think hook is used as an expression meaning attraction), a telenovela that just started airing in the US. I just barely understand what’s going on. I’m going to have to figure out how to record this stuff. Ironic, since I spend my days designing DVR settop boxes.

Also, I caught a couple episodes of House via Hulu. I totally understand what’s going on there.

The kids are coming back tonight, and Saturday we depart for New Jersey to visit the wily Italians for 8 days. Only, my brother-in-law sold his pizza shop, so I’m not entirely sure how we’re going to eat.

Lest anyone was thinking of robbing our house while we’re gone, know that we’ve got dog/house sitters. Assuming, of course, that the dog doesn’t drive them out through annoyingness. I know the dog is driving me to New Jersey after a week with no kids to entertain him.

We checked in with the kids each day, mostly to make sure they hadn’t tied up my parents and left them in a closet. They bought RocketBoy a new bike without training wheels, and he’s been practicing that, while Scout has taken to RocketBoy’s last bike like a pro. Also, they went fishing (no catch this year) and to a park in Frankfurt with a waterfall you can walk under.

And some sort of dinosaur park. Scout reportedly rode a blue dinosaur.

So they haven’t missed us one bit.

I’ve missed them. The house just feels wrong.

Albeit, clean.

1 I originally wrote adult TV, but that just sounds like porn regardless of context, doesn’t it?

Book Log – Silas Marner

Silas Marner by George Eliot

I’m working my way through the Eliot oeuvre courtesy of

Silas is a short, simple work, but well-written and enjoyable. Silas Marner is a weaver who moves to a new land and ostracizes himself from most human contact after being jilted in love. He remains focused on his work and increasing wealth until a robbery forces him out of his hermitage.

Middlemarch was primarily a story of the upper class (as is all of Jane Austen’s work), so it is refreshing to delve deeper into the lives of more common folk of the era.

I note that Gutenberg has a Spanish language version… there’s a lot of dialect in this book; I wonder how they handle it in translation.


Aside from a Palm Z22 filled with Eliot, I’ve got The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hajdu and A User’s Guide to the Brain: Perception, Attention, and the Four Theaters of the Brain by John J. Ratey lined up for vacation reading.

Also, Diez Comedias Del Siglo De Oro should I feel compelled to really exercise the mind.

Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization

Scientific American: 5 Years After: Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results

This is a wimpy, half-a**ed decriminalization of marijuana, heroin, LSD and others… it’s still jailable to grow it and sell it, but if you’re caught owning or using it, instead of jail or punishment, you’re sent for counseling. Possibly a small fine.

Walter Kemp, a spokesperson for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, says decriminalization in Portugal “appears to be working.” He adds that his office is putting more emphasis on improving health outcomes, such as reducing needle-borne infections, but that it does not explicitly support decriminalization, “because it smacks of legalization.”

Huh-huh… he said “smack”.

He doesn’t say what exactly is wrong with legalization. Possibly it just wouldn’t fit into a single column. Possibly because the reason is because people would use drugs and drugs are bad. And that sounds like a weak argument no matter how you phrase it.