I basically did a control-Z on blogging about a month ago. It was completely unintentional, a combination of too much travel, holidays, a short family vacation, a lot of work, and quite honestly, the NJ Devils going on an 8-game winning streak that had me devote significant time to coaching from in front of the television or streaming broadcast of their games. After spending a few solid, uninterrupted days with my family, the best thing I did was plow through a few books.
Doug Hornig’s “Boys of October” explores the 1975 Red Sox. I remember their World Series against the Cincy Reds vividly, not because I was a Sox fan but because the Red Machine had eliminated my beloved Pirates for a few years running, and I was happy to cheer against them. It was also the first series in which everyone was an armchair manager; I vividly recall hearing my elementary school friends discussing whether Bill Lee or Luis Tiant would pitch Game 6. It was a fun perspective, penned before the Sox lost the Series in 1986 and eventually won in 2004.
On the sci-fi front, Richard Morgan’s “Thirteen” was outstanding, possibly his best yet, and Charles Stross’ “Halting State” was even better. Most of Stross’ work could be described as the right-oriented cross-product of Hello, Cthulhu t-shirts and Benny Hill-flavored looks at Her Majesty’s bureaucracy. “Halting State” is “Numb3rs” meets Wikinomics with a Java jolt, literally, and it’s a very fast-moving story. I finished it the same night that “Numb3rs” featured a storyline involving an alternative reality game, which was both ironic and fitting.
I also listened to all seven parts of Cory Doctorow’s novella “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow/Now Is The Best Time of Our Lives”, a superb riff on the Disney ride of the same name, and polished off Douglas Coupland’s “The Gum Thief.” I’ll admit to thoroughly hating Coupland’s “JPod,” mostly because I felt like he ran into character development issues and solved for j by writing himself into the equation. But “Gum Thief” made up for his prior detour with sharp writing and characters that blur in and out of story lines. In a week when I spent copious amounts of time thinking about blogging, writing (actually cranking out a paragraph of the now-dormant hockey book), FaceBook, and my hockey team’s web site, it seemed an apt metaphor for my own various states of matter(ing).
Finally, John Grisham’s “Playing for Pizza.” It’s not a great book, it pales in comparison to some of the other sports literature I’ve read, but it was fun. And that was the whole point of bringing reading into the foreground.