Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Invisible Monsters - Chuck Palahniuk

This book is way over the top drama, but very Palahniuk in delivery and writing.

Fashion, models (but not drugs or surgery) seem like very odd topics for Palahnuik to have intricate knowledge of.

The book is enjoyable, in its own strange way.

I'm going to read my last Palahniuk novel: Choke.

It's getting a little monotonous and boring.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Skiing in Okemo 12-8-2007

Okemo was awsome. As usual. Click on picture for full size (it's big)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Foggy Blurry Midtown

It's not poor image quality from a cellphone, it's art. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Classical Music on Pandora

As mentioned on their blog and my mailbox, Pandora has classical music.
I'm excited. I can now be cultured and only mildly distracted at work at the same time.

The Pandora email has links to stations: (I like the Symphonic, Romantic Period)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Blackwater - The Rise Of The World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army

Bartered this book from a co-worker for 'Survivor' (see last post)

Started: 11/9/2007
Finished: 12/11/2007

I've always been lukewarm on the exposé novel genre, but maybe that just stems from my distrust of non-fiction to be entertaining. After reading the book I came to realize that I stand correct in my assumptions. This book suffers from the same problem all non-fiction literature is plagued with: there is one grand point to be made in the entire book. The rest of the book feels like a book report (albeit a well written one). Scahill makes his point early on in the book, and keeps talking about the same thing for the rest of the book. It's not as bad as the 'dead horse beating' in The World Is Flat, but there is something very off putting here. There is a distinct lack of a cohesive narrative. The book picks up in certain parts with the stories of several mercenaries, lawsuits, etc, but for the most part it reads like a research paper.

For these exact reasons, this took me like a month to read.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Survivor - Chuck Palahnuik

I felt as if I've had it to easy in my recent bouts with literature, so I've decided to go for something more serious.

Survivor is written backwards. The first page in the book is numbered 2xx and the pages count down to 1. This way I know how much I have left to go. It seems a fairly odd but fitting style of layout.

The narration, layout, etc are all done in a similar style to style to Fight Club. The narrative is hindsight aware retelling of events that have already happened with in the order that the narrator percieves them leading to his current state. There is the slightly offsetting amount of Home Economics details offered by the author, also in some sense similar to the information conveyed by Ed Norton's character in Fight Club.

I'm half way through the book, and it feels like I'm going to borrow another one: Choke

It seems as if Palanhuik really enjoyed Psychology in college (or is still teaching). The references and usage of the DSM and the various disorders were humorous and nostalgic. As far as social commentary, this is a much darker than what I've been recently reading.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Boomsday - Christopher Buckley

A modern version of Jonathan Swift's 'A Modest Proposal'.

This book centered around the idea of the surmounting Social Security debt imposed by the Baby Boomer ('46 to '62) generation on the current generation. The proposed solution involved 'Voluntary Transitioning' : having old people volunteer to kill themselves after the age of 65 for tax benefits.

A light and humorous read, the book took me about 5 days to read Oct-1 to Oct-5 2007.

up next ... Chuck Palahniuk, maybe

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Absurdistan - Gary Shteyngart

Another glorious exploitation of the NYPL, I borrowed this in the same Shteyngart batch to read in 20 days. At this point I must profess I am somewhat saturated by satire, Russian culture, and the author.

A large portion of this book the author devoted to himself, or his literary incarnation of Jerry Steynfarb author of the the Russian Arriviste's Hand Job. Amusing, yes. Noteworthy literary achievement, no.

Half of this book is a discussion of food, which is to my liking. The author crams sturgeon, vodka, and whatever else restaurants can conjure to feed a 325lb man. Shteyngart shows some breadth here, creating completely different character from V.Grishkin of the last book.

Amidst the absurdity of Abusrdistan, mockery of Hunter College (who's students are poor and impressionable), and the nativity of the protagonist, the book two punchlines:
1. It's all a sham: There is no oil and everything is a corporate machination.
2. The bigger punchline is that of Jewish-Russian parental love and attachment. This seems to be a recurring theme in Shteyngart's work and servers as its main redeeming feature. While this invokes embarrassment (Sixty-Nine Cents, short story in the New Yorker 'Food' issue) or annoyance (Débutante's Handbook), it's ultimately heart warming. While it's possible to explain slang, gangsters, and soviet life, unconditional parental love seems to be out of scope.

All I have to say:
Humongous G ... bitches!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Russian Debutante's Handbook - Gary Shteyngart

For me this book symbolizes freedom, a sense of accomplishment, and a borderline obessive-compulsive joy of finishing things I've started but abandoned.

I picked the book up originally from the BPL based on Igor's ranting and recomendations. It turned out to be a delightful read (I'm still waiting on payback for Almanac Of The Dead) but I was unable to split my time between last semester of school, a master's thesis, and a book. I tend to be a very absorbed and dedicated reader.

I was very conflicted about giving up the book so I ended it on the boundry between New York and Prava, Republic Stolovaya.

The NY portion I found a little hard to digest partially because it's too crammed with witty remarks and side comments and partially because the experience is too familiar. While I have not yet reached the protagonist's stage of life, I have survived through similar circumstances.

I picked up the book again, a Master of Science in Computer Science and a Software Engineer and found it to be a more pleasant and enjoyable read. The book came from the NYPL and I still owe the BPL ~$20. The MidManhattan NYPL branch is 2 blocks away from work, so I made due with a library card.

Fully stocked with $1 honey roasted street peanuts and a lemon Snapple from work, I embarked on this glorious quest of picking where I left of 7-ish months ago.

The Prava chapter seems a bit unrealisitic and slightly too believable at the same time. Perhaps I have not been to Europe for the book to be set in better context. Apparently I found myself in Norwalk, CT instead.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Liar's Poker - Michael Lewis

Captures such a distant moment, its well worth the read

Monday, October 1, 2007

When Genius Failed - The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Managment by Roger Lowenstein

Read it after my dad in about two weeks. Great literature to read during August 2007 Credit Crunch. The market situation resembled the shenanigans in the book: same words, same money, same problems, same solution, same assholes.

While a bit too long, the book goes to great length to heighten the suspense and stretch the pleasure of the inevitable collapse. It's as if the author takes some pleasure in prolonging the enviable and using foreboding language. It goes to some length to explain the finance and math involved. It's hard to say whether the characters arrogance was correctly captured, justly portrayed, or accurately reported.

The Pragmatic Programmer - Andrew Hunt, David Thomas

This was a 'class' assignment during training for work. The book starts off strong with good style suggestions, clever ideas, and funny interjections. It's a well written book, with many of what I felt are good points. However, I have managed to come up with some harsh words for it:
  1. Its exactly not what it's promises to be: pragmatic
  2. As many 'punchline' books do, this one starts of strong with a pre-boiled set of points, and keeps chewing on them for the rest of the book.
  3. In the spirit of above, the later chapters of the book lose focus and discuss some minor irrelevant points.
  4. It feels like a 20% auto-summary of every blog post on JoelOnSoftware

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Blink - Malcom Gladwell

Power of thinking without thinking!
read it over the summer. closely follows a psych textbook. made PS2104 very unexciting.

Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

Bought from Strands ($4.95 + tax) 4/12/2006 - 5/17/2006
So far, this book is brilliant. Possibly the funnies thing I've read in ages. Finals got in the ways, so this took a while. Finished reading in South Beach, FL.
Brilliant book. Yossarian Lives !

A year down the line, I think I've adopted some things from this book into my behavior. I can't see anyone being happy about that.

Worth a re-read.

The Grapes Of Wrath - John Steinbeck

I read this book while on vacation in Yellowstone National Park, August of 2005. Borrowed from BPL.
A little slow (at first) but other wise very insightful and somewhat inspiring book. Finally understand references in 'ghost of tom joad' by RATM. Its written in vernacular : southern slang of the '30, so the dialogue is hard to understand and/or get used to.

My Travels With Charley - John Steinbeck

Started : Mid September 2007
Finished : October 5th 2007

Steinbeck gives this book a predictable but enjoyable feel. The journey seems uneventful and the book does not seem to do it justice in length. I found it interesting from a historical perspective, which I doubt the author meant for it to serve. It offers a glimpse into the existence of people in an era I missed by a long shot. I find that fascinating.

It feels like writing the book gave Steinbeck time and space to write down his thoughts on traveling. Most of which I found interesting, true, or amusing (like the bit about hunting)