Thursday, January 29, 2009

John Updike has passed

I will never forget taking my American Literature course during my undergraduate studies. The course was entitled: Hawthorn to Updike, a survey of America's greatest authors. I was raised in Nebraska, and so I had read Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Poe, and Bradbury, but I had never heard of Updike. Who was he? When our course began I recall being shocked that not only was Updike still alive, but that he was not all that old. In those days he was in his late fifties, still producing, and giving brilliant lectures on writing and literature. I immersed myself in his writing during university. One thing I learned was that the only way to read his work was with a dictionary in hand, because he would reach out to his readers with a vocabulary that spanned the English language. His incredible characters, their sexual endeavors, self loathing, and ever so common lives being blown into heroic proportions, reminded me of Shakespeare in the way that every character could be elevated -- risen to a pedestal of personal greatness -- before their inevitable fall. 

His short stories were my favorites, and if you have never read any of his short stories you owe it to yourself to pick one up and read this master. What I loved was that his characters were us, the people around us, the us we recalled in our youth or the us we may someday be, and at every turn within his tale they stayed true to the human restraints and to human nature. 

I will miss him. To honor him, I'm putting down the novel I was reading by John Irving, and revisiting some Updike pieces. 


Monday, January 26, 2009


Whenever I'm feeling like things just aren't going my way. You know those times when you order a mocha and they give you a hot coco or you get a bad review or your students sit like zombies as you tell joke after joke or you fight your way through traffic only to find the mall's parking lot is completely full or you go to the sock drawer where you hide the emergency cash, only to remember as you pull open that drawer, that you blew that cash on lottery tickets because you saw the number 437 in your dream or you decided to get healthy so you brought a pocket full of vitamins only to find out in hot weather they sort of crumble and melt in your pocket or you hear the news about one of your friends and they are a huge success and you always thought to yourself, "at least I'll be doing better than that guy" or you smile at a pretty young lady and she smiles back, but as she gets closer you realize the she is a he (dang sex chances in Thailand are the best in the world) or you realize your 40 and all the cool kids now refer to you as pops or you find more hair in your brush than on your head. Well for any of these reasons really, I like to go to the Mall Namamwan and stand next to the furniture store with the big red sign that says: WINNER. I don't know why, but it always makes me feel a lot better! After all, life is all about perception. I feel like a winner!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Siminoe Video of the week #3

Okay planet Earth. This SIMINOE song of the week is just where it's at. For everyone of us who is going to wake up tomorrow morning, hit the shower, and rush out the door to work for the man. Keep your head up and keep hustlin'!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009



The temperatures in Bangkok are plunging, the locals are shivering, and we foreigners are rejoicing the break from the heat. It is actually COLD in the shadows around the city of Bangkok. Temperatures have dropped below 60% at night, and even during the day it has only been getting up to about 65%. Honestly in all my 7 years in the capital I have never experienced a streak of  cold like this. I am loving it. My aircon has been off for days and it feels good to lay beneath a blanket at night. I am sure the heat will return with a blazing vengeance, but for now I'm enjoying the chill!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ndamukong Suh

What kind of 300 pound freak leaps above the offense line and blocks a chip shot field goal? The same kind of monster who sacks quarterbacks, catches touchdown passes, intercepts passes, and pretty much drives offensive coordinators crazy -- and his name is SUH.

Here in the city of Bangkok the Nebraska bowl game began at 1:00 AM instead of 1:00 PM, so blurry eyed, buzzing with coffee and a few beers, I tuned in TVU and projected it up on my big screen so I could watch the game. I would like to apologize to my neighbors, who I'm sure were all sleeping, but I was jumping around and screaming with every fumble, interception, and blown play. Nebraska played a fierce game on defense, but our offense looked -- at times -- deteremined to give the game away. Fumbles run for TD's and interceptions run back almost in for 6, it was maddening. Still, they fought on and finally in the second half they looked like the team that won their last 4 games of the year and challenged Texas Tech to an offensive shoot out -- something almost no one in the nation could do.

This was my wife Nan's first real experience with a Husker game, as often I can only tune in an internet radio station. But, last night the TVU picture was amazing and I got to see the entire game in full color and at full speed! Magical!

Huskers win 26-21 over Clemson in a nail biter. Welcome to Nebraska Bo Pellini, 9-4 in his first season. Now that is Nebraska football!