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Holiday Catch-Up

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I hope everyone had a great holiday season and that you’ve had enough time to recover from your revelry. The Year 2006 is already here and we’re looking forward to a great new year at Slushpile. Thanks to everyone for reading these past six months or so and if there is anything you want us to cover, please let us hear from you.

Here’s a recap of the Slushpile family’s holiday season…

Reading Materials
During the holiday, I made my way through a few interesting reads…

First, I read Chuck Klosterman’s three books, Fargo Rock City, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puff, and Killing Yourself to Live. These aren’t terribly new, but I found all of them enjoyable, particularly Fargo Rock City. If you’re at all interested in hair metal (a term I hate, but it’s the most widely accepted label) or if you grew up in a small town, this books for you. Pick up a copy by clicking on the cover image below: 

Fargo Rock City : A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota

While landlocked in Kentucky, I read The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survial Among America’s Great White Sharks by Time editor Susan Casey. I’ve always been fascinated by these impressive creatures and Casey’s book both educates and inspires even more awe. One of the most amazing things about great white sharks is their sheer size. We think we understand their immensity (is that a word? it fits this description anyway) but Casey puts it into perspective. “A twenty-foot shark is efight feet wide and six feet deep. That’s wider than a Suburban, as wide as a Mack truck. That’s wider than Yao Ming is tall,” she writes.

The Devil's Teeth : A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks

I also read Da Capo’s Best Music Writing 2004: The Year’s Finest Writing on Rock, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Pop, Country, & More. The 2005 version is out and was also on the bookstore shelf, but it was edited by J.T. Leroy, who I must admit I’ve never liked, and the ’04 version was edited by Mickey Hart. But more important than editors, I picked up the ’04 edition primarily because it’s 360 pages and the ’05 effort is 202 pages. Don’t know if it was a down-year or what, but the two books cost the same amount so I went with the one that gave me an extra 150 pages. Great writing throughout, including a couple of efforts from my colleagues at PopMatters. If you love music and writing, this is a fantastic read.

Da Capo Best Music Writing 2004 (Da Capo Best Music Writing)

My Other Obsession
Although books and literature consume the vast majority of my free time (and finances) I do have one other obsession: guitars and music. With six guitars, a mandolin, a bunch of drumsticks, several harmonicas, and a violin scattered around my apartment, I often worry about being crushed under an avalance of books and music. Unfortunately, those fears are immediately ignored everytime I discover a new and intriguing axe. Right now, I’m lusting after the new Dave Navarro signature Paul Reed Smith guitar and I’m still on the lookout for the weird Alvarez Scoop from the 80’s.

But now I can hopefully channel some of that guitar obsession into more productive outlets. I recently started posting to a new guitar blog, DistortionThatRocks.com. If you’re inclined towards strings and things, be sure to check us out.

Isolophobia Irritants
This might be revealing my own lone-wolf misanthropic nature, but I have to admit that I’m perfectly comfortable being by myself. I have no problem whatsoever staying in my house and I’m largely immune to cabin fever. Which makes it hard for me to understand these people who are so miserable on their own that they must sit in a coffee shop for 8 to 10 hours, by themselves, puttering on their laptops.

I saw this numerous times during the holidays. At Panera, we stopped for lunch and the restaurant was swamped. People were eating standing up and others stood outside in the wind to eat because there wasn’t a single available table. However, there were four tables hoarded by people entrenched with their laptops.

We managed to secure seats, sharing a table with not one, but two other families, and I was afforded a fine view of these specimens of Cannotus Be Alonis. Three single men, each taking up a four-seat table, backs to the wall, staring into their laptop. The fourth man was actually taking up a six-seat table. Two of them had coffee cups on their tables, two had nothing.

So, four guys were keeping 18 seats. What were they doing? I don’t know, but I do know they all managed to keep the same scowl on their face as they squinted at their laptops. I do know that I caught several of the Cannotus Be Alonis peeking up, looking at the rest of the people in the restaurant. Whenever someone made eye contact, the specimens quickly dropped their gaze back to their laptops, scowls were refreshed, their nuclear fusion research obviously so important.

Later that day, after hours shopping, I stopped back by that same Panera for a soda on my way to the car. The same specimens were still sitting there, still scowling into their laptops, still hoarding tables, more than five hours after I had originally spotted them in the wild. I suppose I shouldn’t complain. It’s the restaurant’s job to ask them to leave if they are causing a problem. And since they didn’t rent their space by spending $1.50 on a cup of coffee, I guess they had every right to sit there for hours on end. But I don’t get it.

I’m not a coffee drinker, so admittedly, I don’t understand coffeehouse culture. But are these people suffering from isolophobia, the fear of being alone? Is sitting in a coffeeshop for hours on end, staring at a computer while scowling so everyone thinks you’re doing something imporant a way of meeting women?

I don’t get it.

 

The World’s Newest Blogger
And in what is certainly the most joyous development of this holiday season, my partner-in-crime is now a proud father. Gadget guru, blogger extraordinare, and king of all BWL media, John Biggs welcomed his firstborn son into the world at 10:15am on December 28th. John’s lovely wife Asia and the new baby are both happy, healthy, and thrilled with Santa’s present.   

John followed this momentous event up with guest appearance on the Montel Williams Show where he discussed upcoming tech gadget trends for 2006 and then had an article published in the New York Times. So it was quite a heady couple of weeks for Slushpile’s patron saint.