Thursday, July 31, 2008

Top 13 Testic Lit Reads of Summer 2008

I apologize for the delay in revealing the Summer 2008 Testic Lit List, but with good friends in town and a busy work schedule, it got pushed to the side. Besides, I couldn’t possibly rush something as significant as what will most likely be the first in a long series of incredibly famous lists.

The Summer 2008 Testic Lit List came to fruition from the following sources: diligent research, anecdotal recommendations from friends and colleagues, suggestions gleaned from thousands of comments left by loyal readers, and some interesting books I saw on the train ride to work this morning. Some stories have recently appeared while most are/should be classics.

Without further ado, here are the Top 13 Testic Lit Reads of Summer 2008 in no particular order. So dig that library card out of that shoebox in the closet and git runnin. These selections are sure to gently stimulate your giant intellect for the rest of the summer.

T.C. Boyle, Tortilla Curtain
You don’t get anymore testicular when you can summarize a story with the words tortilla, environmental destruction, and xenophobia.

Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
A story about a brother raising his younger after the death of their parents. Dave is a Chicago native and the novel (Creative nonfiction? Memoir?) is praised for its wild and manic-depressive tone. Thanks Nyberg.

George Saunders, Civilwarland in Bad Decline
Six short stories and a novella. Smart satire for the summer; about the ridiculousness of the modern world. Per DNALand

Jonah Lehrer, Proust Was a Neuroscientist
This is an easy-to-follow book about how eight artists who were tortoises to the hares of science. If you don’t mind your eyes being opened to the world of literature, food, and a little history, this is a must-read. You will appear incredibly intelligent and sexy to anyone you’re trying to bag.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Honestly, I’ve started and stopped this book three times. Not because it’s unworthy, but because I’ve never been man enough to handle the rambunctious journey. Maybe 2008 is the year? Per White Collar Redneck

Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle
Meet ice-nine, a compound that turns liquid water into solid. It’s got science, religion, and the end of the world. Everything a growing boy needs.

Anthony Doerr, The Hunter’s Wife
This is a short story that, after finishing, kept me still for three train stops because I was so struck by its words. Not for the vegetarians.

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
This borders on chic lit only in its title. In fact, this meandering tale theorizes why humans began to stand upright, comments on the irony of gyms, and is a great story about pilgrimage. Perfect substitute for an actual walk.

Isaac Asimov, The Last Question
A very short story that answers all your questions about the future and God. Hint: He does not have a long, white beard.

Evolution’s Workshop: God and Science on the Galapagos Islands
A personal favorite due to my obsession with this island chain. Features pirates, rats, and delicious tortoises whose meat keeps for months!

David McCullough, 1776
A militarized (and very popular) account of the American Revolution. The rebellion was bred into us.

Oscar Wilde, Picture of Dorian Gray
Completely haunting. I read it frequently. Then stab myself.

Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Say what you want about Rand or her philosophies, but this has sex, trains, and perpetual motion engines. Read this last, as its 645,000 words will surely take you until my next list is released.

Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma
DNALand lent it to me at the bar last night. C'mon, anything involving food...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Call for submissions: Testic Lit

Inspired by one of my faves who has been mentioning her personal “chic lit” progress all summer, I’ve decided to research and compile one for the boys.

Let’s call it...Testic Lit. ("dick lit" sounded far too plebeian)

This list—--for the men out there who find themselves yearning for a bit more than occasional GQ magazine or blockbuster action flick---will cover all things that happen to be fucking cool.

This list MAY include:

-Current events, pirates, money, murder, gadgets, music, sex, sin, and gratuitous violence.
-Distinguished authors. Let's go for quality plus excitement with this list.

This list may NOT include

-Comic books (let’s not dig ourselves any deeper);
-Stories containing the words nail polish, romance, shopping, self-help, Prada, pregnancy, or feminine napkin;
-Any book with the words “eat”, “love” and “pray” in the title;
-References to Mars/Venus, unless you happen to be battling aliens on said planets;
-Descriptive metaphors for sex acts (I’m talking to YOU hot and pulsing root of manhood);
-No lame mysteries that you buy from the checkout stand at Wal-Mart.

This may prove harder than we think. In a few quick Google searches, I uncovered only lists that helped men to find Christ, resolve identity problems, and books men should read if they ever felt like engaging in domestic violence.

So provide me with some recommendations in the comments section. Haven't read it yet? I don't care. I’ll compile them on Monday and we’ll have a handy guide to getting through the strapping, broad shouldered tome at a time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You'll beg me not to leave you...

For quite a few months now, I’ve been gazing at this amazing little portal into another dimension.

You see, a few months ago, I applied and was accepted to a number of graduate programs very much NOT in my current field and in very much WARMER, PALM TREE-LINED climates. Obviously I wussed out because...well, I’m a wuss.

Fate: Hey! Try something new with your life!
Me: Nah.

Anyway, these PALM TREE-LINED campuses keep sending me reminders to register for classes, find housing, apply for funding, and even meet my new professors. I haven’t the heart to unsubscribe. In fact, I NEED these communications lately. They come with pretty images of campus and I start fantasizing about going to college to learn all over again. Actually, those fantasies more or less involve me living on the beach and having a six-pack. Wha?

With the pictures of palm trees, I start thinking about the missed opportunity I had with the aquarium fundraising offer. I mean, constant beach/sand/pool/sea turtle life would be quite welcome right now. Plus I love enchiladas and margaritas and this place was like forty paces from the Mexico border (only if you’re bring chased under the light of a new moon). The pay vs. cost of living also would have me probably owning some sort of water recreational vehicle. For sure. Oh, plus pools in every apartment complex. Makes the 5x5 backyard deck seem not so cool, huh?

Alas, portals into other dimensions are often rose-colored, at least in my sad and sardonic universe: First, my mentor for my favored grad program was killed in a motorcycle accident this summer. That means, I would have made plans and moved to Florida only to not be trained by the best. Also, everyone knows that grad school is NOT undergrad bong-filled frat parties and instead perseverance and academic competition.

Secondly, the aquarium I would have been employed at is currently witnessing the Eye of God (aka eye of Hurricane Dolly). As I say no more to Iowa, God’s wrath washes away the entire business district; I say no to Corpus Christi, Hello Dolly; I say no to graduate school and the lead professor has an accident.


So maybe all of these decisions (are they regrets?) were the right ones. But then again (how often do you get to quote Fight Club?): "On a long enough timeline..."

Who is cool? I am.

Sunday, I saw Dark Knight like everyone else in America who’s cool.

My opinion? It was too loud, too long, and I left the theater with the urge to jump off of a tall building. EVERYTHING a summer blockbuster should be! Action flicks should be nothing but eardrum rupturing explosions roaring away for two and half hours while instilling our male youth with a false sense of invisibility. On my deathbed, my only regret shall be that I didn’t somehow acquire superpowers.

As for all the talk about Heath, I could barely tell it was him under all that glorious insanity (will someone practice the disappearing pencil trick with me? I'll be Joker). A minor disappointment was that Batman’s fighting technique more closely resembled “barroom brawl” when compared to the stealthy HOW DID YOU COME OUT OF NOWHERE TEACH ME ninja moves from Batman Begins?

Monday, apparently the sky above Chicago—like most roads, train tracks, elevators, stairways, and sidewalks—is under construction. Covering it until repairs are complete is an ominous, misty, warm, cloud (see picture...which is also goes well with the Dark Knight convo). I call it God’s Armpit mainly cuz the city also smelled like the world’s biggest one. It's better than calling it The Mist, which would give me daymares of walking to the train. PS have you seen this movie? I recommend it if you feel like hating humanity for two straight hours then being swiftly punched in the nuts.

On my way to lunch, I nearly ran into my old boss. It was soooo obvious that she had seen me—but deliberately ignored me—because I could read her lips which were silently wording a prayer that I’d ignore her the same. Normally, I’d quash all that hope and lavish loud and awkward conversation all over her face. But I also left that job with us both agreeing I was a shit-for-brains slacker. So I played her game. Thank you, years of 9-5ing...thanks for transforming me into just a shell of who I used to be...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

why not me?

You have no idea how pissed I am not to be in line for Dark Knight. Damn you, IMAX website!!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Obesity in America

There is something incredibly therapeutic about consuming string cheese. My guess is that it’s the only time you are encouraged to play with your food, save for peeling fruit. All of our food should be peel-able before eating.

In my 27th year of life, I’ve finally started eating better. I feel this is quite an accomplishment, considering my upbringing AND the fact that I’m doing this now and not 10/20/never years from now.

As a growing boy, my scrawny body worked really hard to absorb every last existing nutrient out of Little Debbie HoHo’s and pop. I grew up on a farm where vegetables were really only consumed 3-4 months out of the year (garden) while the rest of my meals consisted of fatty beef or pork (one time pets of mine) combined with potatoes, potatoes, and more potatoes. And soda. Averaging 2-4 a day. My dear readers, this should come as no surprise, especially when you reference the state of Nebraska on this map.

High school and college eating habits were predictable enough: whatever I could afford, meaning fast food (fear not Wendy’s, I’ll never stop loving you…from afar), noodles, or colorless cafeteria fare.

With full time employment and free evenings post-graduation, menus were (still no complaint here) alcohol and late night pizza. I’d actually hope that I’d pass out before finishing the WHOLE pie.

Then came the doctors appointment a few months ago, where I was shocked (!?) to learn I had high cholesterol. This, combined with a less than impressive midsection, led me to believe that perhaps the exercise and healthy-eating habits of others weren’t simply a fad I could continue to ignore.

So now, I run and swim and stick to a depressingly “diet-sounding” diet authored by some healthnut douchebag at Men’s Health. (I really should be getting paid for glowing endorsements like this.)

I am again shocked (!?) to see that it works. I feel betterish, more energeticish...all those things annoyingly fit people say to others. The belly will always need work of course; you can’t expect to work miracles against arteries clogged with 27-year-old high fructose corn syrup.

And let’s be honest, I’d still kill for a slice of pizza and a Mountain Dew.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

So pretty...

Thanks ang for pointing me in this direction. I've played with word cloud generators before, but this one is the prettiest.