You’d think

… after (almost) ten years of blogging, I’d know when not to blog. Ten year celebration here at Fiatech I managed to get out onto 6th street and spend three hours between “Friends” and “Chuggin Monkey” … no idea which bands I actually saw but the musicians flitted between the two, and … I don’t know where to start … they entertained. So much higher quality than either Nashville or Memphis. Austin rocks, even outside SXSW. Good news is the band that ended at Friends are apparently there on Tuesday too. Could do a lot worse.

(Post Note : Main band at Chuggin Monkey was “the Statesboro Review”)

Austin Update

After a week over in North Carolina and Maryland, I’m back in Austin for a second visit. Had the experience again of driving up from Houston on 290 – all the meadow grass and spring flowers on the median as well as either side. Beautiful.

In Antones, saw Gary Clark Jr again, with Eric Zapata also again, on the second guitar, and a much mellower balance this time with the rhythm section; Gary really shone …. and Pinetop Perkins watching from the sidelines too.

Great selection of beers, US and local Texan, as well as international … at least  50 on draft … at The Ginger Man, which was interesting after discovering two (!) brewery pubs in Frederick, MD last week. The internationally promoted US beer brands give a very limited view of the amazing quality and variety of US beer. And, coincidentaly, it turned out the part-time-waitress / geology-student sat next to me at the bar reckoned Destin, FL and Mustang Island, TX her favourite US beach locations, no prompting, even if she did rank the spring meadow flowers as weeds as far as her lawn was concerned. Quality will out.

Apologies Dear Reader

As well as rather large gaps in the flow of blogging, due to current overly busy lifestyle phase, I see the BBC news plug-in has failed at last – I need a news feed widget (anyone ?) – and I see also that my page format is now browser / version dependent – fine in Chrome, but error prone in IE6 (yes, still IE6 on the corporate desktop). Time for some maintenance – one day soon. Still working on Buzz integration, which I think may lead to making worthwhile use of Wave … LinkedIn is OK – for work-related contacts and posts, but FaceBook and Google Friend Connect are just a mess – no ?

Ahab’s Wife

I first blogged about Ahab’s Wife (by Sena Jeter Naslund) back in 2002 just after I’d finished Moby Dick, and I was researching something on Spenser’s Faerie Queen … Una is the queen in Spenser and Spenser is Una’s maiden name …. in Ahab’s Wife. I’ve actually read the book, only in the last few weeks, helped by two “twelve hour sunset” westbound Atlantic crossings.

Contrary to the earlier review I quoted, there is in fact a great deal of Ahab in the book, not to mention The Pequod, its full complement of characters and not forgetting Queequeg’s coffin. And not just the style draws (deliberately) on Melville, but the subject of whaling – even the stench of the butchery, blood & blubber – figure prominently.

It’s a human story about people and nature, none too deep, and a high quota of deaths and disasters makes the drama seem overly contrived, written to a formula, but surprisingly hard to put down. It’s by a woman about a woman – menstrual cycles, needlework, shopping, baking, recipes … canibalism and whaling and sea and lighthouses, riverboats, and great lakes and fresnel lenses, and lots of reading, Austen, Emerson, Thoreau, (Henry) James, Margaret Fuller, racism, dwarfism, abolitionism, quakerism, unitarianism, universalism, investment, (earth) oil and the ubiquitous Greeks. 666 packed pages (definitely 666, not 668 per the earlier quoted review – there are 2 pages of personal acknowledgement after “finis” – was that contrived too ?).

… disappoints at the end,
because it doesn’t seem to have a reason
for having been written …

Well constructed, engrossing read, but none too deep as I said.
Oh and, the opening line …

“Captain Ahab was neither my first husband, nor my last.”

The third husband ? Spoiler in the comment added to the 2002 post.

Beggin’ for Messi

Despite being a big fan (of Reading FC), usually when I blog a mention of football it’s for some exemplary moral decision-making reason, but I had to post this link to Robbo’s blog. Normally I avoid top-flight UK & European and national / international football because it is so rarely about the beautiful game. I could pin-point a particular game, where after all the stardom issues, a game some years ago between Kiev and Man U (I expect) was so tactically and technically perfect it was more like watching chess than a sport – an error-free sterile stalemate on the pitch.

Anyway Jose’s return to  Chelsea had all the usual “top-flight” ingredients – Chelsea a long-running soap-opera of a morality-tale to start with – but Mourinho and Messi brought some real style and sheer fun to football, the latter for Barca against Stuttgart. Mourino’s return lived up to the script and the hype  – he does his own hype – and watching Messi was like watching a precocious schoolkid, not only running rings around his opponents (and scoring) but looking like he was doing it for his own amusement.

Jose; got into their heads and made the whole thing about him – which is how he sees the world anyway.

Messi; ball at his feet, running at defenders like a clockwork mouse darting between the legs of narcoleptic cats.