Monday, July 30, 2012

Rex & Jake's 50-Book Reading Challenge

Many of you know Rex. If you don't, you should. He's a terrific individual.

But he's also a son of a bitch.

When he heard (from me) that I had an ongoing list of books I wanted to read before I die (Gravity's Rainbow, Infinite Jest, etc), Rex announced that he could and would read them all before I did. This would explain the week we spent in Mexico with Rex referencing "Ulysses by The James Joyce." As of this writing, he has read less than 40 pages of it (which beats my total page count of 0), but the challenge still loomed. Soon enough (as in just last week), the ante was upped when it was proposed that we challenge each other to the 100 books every person should read, made up by some blog/newspaper/thing. Realizing that we didn't care about half the books (fuck you, Scarlet Letter), we decided to make our own (surprisingly well-rounded) list of 50 books that neither of us have previously read and then "race" to finish the collection. We don't know what the prize will be yet, and this is going to take us years, but, as of September 1st, this is the our 50-book reading challenge list:
  1. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  2. Foundation And Empire by Isaac Asimov
  3. Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  4. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
  5. Fool by Christopher Buckley
  6. Women by Charles Bukowski
  7. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  8. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  9. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
  10. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
  11. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  12. Absolutions by Patrick DeWitt
  13. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  14. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
  15. I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan
  16. The Beautiful And The Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  17. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  18. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  19. To Have And Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
  20. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
  21. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  22. Nobody Move by Denis Johnson
  23. Ulysses by The James Joyce
  24. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  25. Immortality by Milan Kundera
  26. The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin
  27. The Farthest Shore by Ursula Le Guin
  28. Tehanu by Ursula Le Guin
  29. Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
  30. Life Of Pi by Yann Martel
  31. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
  32. Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann
  33. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  34. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  35. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  36. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  37. Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
  38. Half Asleep In Frog’s Pajamas by Tom Robbins
  39. Skinny Legs And All by Tom Robbins
  40. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
  41. Barrel Fever by David Sedaris
  42. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  43. Anthem by Neal Stephenson
  44. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
  45. Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson
  46. Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut
  47. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  48. Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
  49. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  50. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
First person to finish the list wins.

Let's do this.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

No Soliciting

The folks at work put me in charge of writing our no soliciting sign, which I thought was pretty swell of them. Design by Alicia. Photo by Nick.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: A Battle Of Brothers & A War Of Words

Below is this morning's text message conversation after Matthew saw the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. As with anything, my brother and I spin wildly out of control. 

*Disclaimer: There are threats here that sound like spoilers. I can't tell you, as I haven't seen the movie yet. However, I can tell you that my brother always tells me characters die in every single movie he sees before I do.*

Matthew: Bane soooo good! Epic movie, when you seeing it or did you?

Jake: Awesome. Stoked. Seeing it Sunday.

Matthew: Thats cool...waiting is cool, I already saw it...whatever, no biggie. Sundays cool though too. What? Patronizing? Nah, not me fella. How many Batman movies have you seen? 2? Oh, neat. Me? Oh, well I have seen the entire trilogy...Well, talk to you later pal.

Jake: You know who wouldn't have liked that text? Batman.

Matthew: Are you some expert now? What do you possible know about Batman. You haven't seen the struggle of the 3rd movie. Guy gets pushed to da motha fuckin edge...the least I can do is be there for him. And you...and YOU!...sleeping in your cozy fuckin bed pretending you got his back. Citizen, step it up!

Jake: Yeah, I'm an expert. I've read anthologies on America's vigilante hero, late at night, alone, studying for a test of character that I pray never comes. What'd you do, toss some Jujubees into your shit-eating grin and worry like a little girl when Bane got buckwild? Motherfucker, I read KNIGHTFALL. I could write a criminal justice paper on the maniac.

Matthew: Yes, Jake. Yes. Use that anger. You have a cute relationship with Batman, thats sweet. Do you kiss him ganight on his wittle Bat nose, or kiss his wittle Bat wips? Or fuck is big ass blackk diuck?

Jake: Oh, you think crime in Gotham is a joke? You think Batman appreciates you crackin' wise? Batman needs all the help he can get, and you're out there replacing Ls with Ws. That's real helpful. Also, it doesn't surprise me that you can't spell "dick" correctly. Your favorite Justice League member is probably Aquaman.

Matthew: Aquaman makes me super let. Treat me nicely or Ill begin to hold the third movie hostage and release a snip it of info for every cutting remark in the future. This isss your reckoning Jake Kilroy. The possibilities of the third movie hold still on a thin sheet of ice. So tread lightly, brother, the end is near. Where is your Batman now?

Jake: I know those words...you son of a bitch...you madman! But to play idle in the end times is hardly fitting of those who believe in honor and justice. I am a man without costs. I am a servant of the people, even to those who betray me. I won't become the villain that you have evolved into. I will protect integrity as all that I love shatters before my watchful eyes. But you...you're the brother this family deserves, not the one it needs right now.

Matthew: Fair enough...Gordon dies BANG! Did you think I was kidding? Did you think this was a game? There will be no surprises left, your enjoyment will be sucked dry and for what? Your integrity? Catwoman dies. BANG! I will take everything that you love and break it. Come Sunday, you will sit in the darkness and watch feeling the nothingness, missing out on the emotions that I rode knowing not what would come next during the sinister blackness of midnight. But you will already know what is to come! Praising those around you for their genuine weeping or happiness. You will sit there, hoping you forget what I told you...praying, but that moment will not come. I have not texted to ruin the third movie, I have come to crush your soul, killing your enjoyment of Batman, stringing you along a precept of hope that will be nothing more than a mere illusion. Welcome to hell.

Jake: If the monstrous cruelty that your unclean sweaty pubic hair-encrusted fingers have typed is true, then I swear on the tragic pile of shit that you half-wittingly decided to call a life, I will never let you feel safe again. I will pay hundreds of dollars for advanced screenings and illegal copies and give them to myself for every Christmas to come. All you will receive from me is a note telling you the ending of every television show and movie you even had a slight fucking interest in seeing. Here's a hint on your "life," you mouthy bag of fear and regret: the ending will be long and miserable.

Matthew: But...it isnt possible. I BROKE you. You should lay there taking all that I have thrown at you...and yet, you stand. You were supposed to crawl and with your dying, trembling hand reach out to me and beg me to stop. Me, crouching down to slap it away and whisper "no." You should be in pieces with fear and hurt.

Jake: Criminals aren't complicated. You just have to know what they're after. What were you trying to prove? That deep down, everyone's as ugly as you? The world is full of people ready to believe in good. Sometimes, the truth isn't good enough. Sometimes, people deserve more. Sometimes, people deserve to have their faith rewarded.

Matthew: Do not think this the end. We stand on the shoulders of the past and call it a beginning. I am not the first or the last. I am a continuation! Once you start this fight, it never shall end. Your hollow threats, your empty heroism will not stand proud for long. You have made a mess of things today and you will be praised by the weak for it as the strong retreat to regroup and stoke your pampered ego. Wait is all that you will do until the next time we meet. So prepare, for it will only be me that you think about henceforth for the remainder of days and when you least expect it, I will take all that you love.

Jake: Not everything comes at once, little brother. Not wit, not disease, not revenge. Do not mistake waiting as fear. It is hunger that I beg of my body. It is the practice of the lion to wait in the high grass. A king fights when the horde arrives. A fool fights when the anger comes. I anxiously await the battle, and I will endlessly fight the war.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tom Hanks Remembers Nora Ephron

I read this on Eyvette's blog, the superb Eyvette Minute, and I thought it was worth sharing. As a fan of a few of her films, especially the two starring Tom Hanks, it's nice to know that this is how Nora Ephron saw the world.
Knowing and loving Nora meant her world — or her neighborhood — became yours. She gave you books to read and took you to caf├ęs you’d never heard of that became legends. You discovered Krispy Kremes from a box she held out, and you learned that there is such a thing as the perfect tuna sandwich. She would give your kids small, goofy parts in movies with the caveat that they might not make the final cut but you’d get a tape of the scene. For a wrap gift, she would send you a note saying something like, “A man is going to come to your house to plant an orange tree — or apple or pomegranate or whatever — and you will eat its fruit for the rest of your days.” Rita and I chose orange, and the fruit has been lovely, sweet and abundant, just as Nora promised — a constant and perfect reminder of the woman we loved so much.
- Tom Hanks via

Sunday, July 8, 2012

"what i want"

"what i want"
a fiery musing of the craft by jake kilroy.

a torrent,
an endless torrent,
an endless torrent of wisdom, heartache, showmanship,
truth, beauty, laughter, wit, adventure and romance
is what it would take to give me what i want to give.
somewhere in the hollow corridors of my bones,
there is a priest leading an unruly mob of writers.
and though i find my heart in no church's lost and found,
i can respect anybody with a generous soul and humble clothes.

brimstone can be the broken artist's paint can fuel,
as i tried in teenage cheap shots of self-medication
with aspirin and sleeping pills, like a sheep in wolf's clothing.
but, without surprise, it was never enough
to become the wisecracking junkie loser prodigy goof
that every idiot 11th grader wants to be after
reading one book by an expatriate.

still, the wind bellows through me like a cavern,
rock guts being shifted by a bloody sea,
tucked under sky blue skin,
all waiting for a better metaphor of a rowboat.

so i wonder if the great fire of mankind's spectacular history
should burn cave art into the shallowest curves of my grace,
to finally fill me with what i beg of most from my body and spirit,
two wild cards shuffled into the cheater's deck in a local parlor,
as i call writing the greatest illusion of sleight of hand in the west,
a mere tool, trade or craft to give me what i want.

and so i want to drain ink from the great well of human sadness
and put it to the pages of history and conquer nobility.
i want volumes of the pitiful rage
that lurks in the alleyways of every man.
i want shelves of the desperate uncertainty
that hides in the creaks of every woman.
i want the great american dream shoved into a bag.
i want the well drink orders of our country's most hopeless authors.
i want the clarity that comes with an ego,
and then i want to smash it against a rock,
like a monkey with darwin's bones in his grasp.

i want the truth that comes with quiet moments.
i want the sounds that come with anxiety.
i want the racket of dinner party conversation,
so i can bottle it and sell it the god
that invented loneliness.

i want women, not girls.
i want heroes, not men.

i want to stop writing the pithy observations
of a well-meaning american twenty-something.
i want to stop writing the ins and outs
of daily life as seen from a slowing car.
i want to stop having epiphanies in cafes
and not in the great throws of americana.
i want to stop writing poem after poem
and start writing epic after epic.

Friday, July 6, 2012

"gods and goddesses in the summertime"

"gods and goddesses in the summertime"
written in a mountain town by jake kilroy.

with a mug of coffee and a book,
the star-spangled morning grits its teeth on a porch in the woods
and takes in the flavor of american promise.

it clicks its tongue,
profound and noisy like the building of a homestead,
and licks the salt of memory off its chapped lips,
just to whistle the tune of his darling mistress.

he spent a cool night's drive
swerving on the curvy mountain forest roads
with a high moon looming like a back door into the heavens,
but he knew it was just a night light left plugged in
and would one day set the satin sky aflame.

and it was all to speed demonic,
almost into the ravine or into the great sky wilderness itself,
so he, the barely gripping daylight sparkle plunge,
could fold back his long hair
and tuck his ears against his woman's stomach
to hear her atrium ribcage,
as even the most desolate of gods want to hear
songbirds, maybe lovebirds,
to forget their gambling problems and pandora snuff boxes.

this is as the most pristine of goddesses,
swathed in the glowing rapture of pictures and pages,
want to hear the pulp squish against bone;
their man's heart, their most sacred fruit,
their garden of eden patio furniture set.

so, when it's summer,
and no mortal has hopes of protection or advice,
the gods and goddesses disappear to their vacation homes,
slumping into mountain town cafes for omelets and cocoa,
because all they have back at their cabin is a holy book
and the power to have everything
while being so unholy bored with it all.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!

Let's celebrate America. But let's celebrate the America in The Sandlot. Let's celebrate the America of Ken Burns. Let's celebrate the America that gave us Bob Dylan, The Matrix and Popsicles. On this day, let us attend this country like a national festival and joyously celebrate the radical people rocking hell within it.

Old Flames XX: Fireworksmoke

We rode to the fireworks, but just barely missed them. We dodged traffic to catch the tail-end of the grand finale. We loitered around long enough to catch the shallow follow-up show they did out of guilt. For a brief moment in America, all I could see was a firework show and a stop sign. Wasn't that America?

Wasn't that life, missing the big show to catch the smaller, shorter show that leads to wanting more? Isn't that what summertime bike rides are for? Aren't we just trying to find the kids we grew up with?

That was the panic attack under the streetlight. That was the explosion that we heard within our rattling bodies. We heard the aches of the years. We heard the wearing of bones. We heard the exhaustion of thought. But it wasn't enough. We rode on.

We rode through neighborhoods, suburbia, love, lawlessness, hope, rage, beauty and war. We sailed through the years with ease, curving our wrists over the passing of time, just a smooth drift through the purple, blue and white of time travel. Just another light show to walk through. Just another late night dive that nobody can get enough of.

This was the beginning of the end. It was the end of the beginning. All of this was never meant to be, but it was unstoppable.

Truly, we waited for it as it swallowed us whole. Time mangled our bodies and made our minds better. But it hurt. We don't know what to wait for now, and maybe that's the problem.

Maybe the problem isn't that we need to make it to the tracks. Maybe the problem is that we aren't sure what station it is.