Sunday, August 31, 2008

Atlanta, Last Day of August

You go to the trouble of making a stencil with your dopey stab at irony, sneak out under cover of darkness, get your message on to a hapless utility box -- and never think to double-check your spelling? You people make me crazy. Crazy, I say.

Once upon a time, this must have been a fairly bustling little corner -- the building to the right was the Ford Factory, and the trains would have rumbled by just overhead. Now the factory has been converted into decrepit lofts and struggling businesses, the train tracks are overgrown and forgotten, and this was taken from the vantage point of a run-down Kroger parking lot. The Beltline would run right by here, on the old tracks, which might actually do something for the area (or make it worse, I guess. I really need to learn something about the project).

Even the police stations go out of business around here.

If I ever do a coffee table book of Atlanta's best signs, rest assured, Dugan's, you'll be featured prominently.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Klouček #7

Now here's some of that excitement that was desperately needed: a new Tomáš Klouček, my ... seventh. If you want to see the others, they're here (though I don't think I ever posted the Blue Jackets jersey).

I could have been showing off #7 AND #8 today. A couple weeks back, I e-mailed Brushback to point out a TK Rangers that was up on eBay, since he'd once shown interest in getting a Klouček jersey. He cleverly suggested that instead I should go for it, as it would improve my collection. I saw his wisdom, and showing the will-power I'm known for, I got into the bidding. Probably for the best, I ended up outbid.

This is Klouček's 2007-08 home jersey from RI OKNA Zlín, the Czech league club. He'll be spending 2008-09 with Barys Astana of Kazakhstan, so I probably won't end up tracking down his new jersey.

The RI OKNA logo. They seem to be a construction company. They have a secondary logo, which is a kind of stylized house in a stylized circle in front of a stylized hockey stick, which is kind of cooler, but it only shows up on the sleeves.

For the last few years before this past season, the Hamé food company was the main sponsor, so the jerseys had a bear that was either snarling or cuddly, depending on when you looked at him. I found some Hamé marmalade in a European import grocery here a couple years ago, and was more excited than I care to admit.

Cuddly-style bear still shows up, but he's relegated to the side of the front now.

One other note: 22 is one of my lucky numbers (really - along with 2 and 13), so getting a #22 Tomáš Klouček jersey is a sign of something good, right? Actually, the Syracuse jersey is also #22, but I'm not as crazy about the Crunch jerseys as I am about Czech ones.

Other than that , there's a surprising lack of wear for a guy that racked up 142 penalty minutes (I think that's the equivalent of about 900 in the NHL) and got thrown out of a few games. I would've expected lots of rips and stuff, but I guess they're using tougher material.

Oh, and I can now wear a Klouček jersey every day of the week. Beat that for awesome.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Excitement is Building

HC Kometa Brno are through to the finals of the Tipsport Cup -- goalie Alexandr Hylák stopped everything en route to a 2-0 shutout. I had hoped to find the semifinal live online, but I forgot to look.

I honestly don't know if anyone in the Czech Republic even cares about this tournament -- I'm imagining everyone in the country biting their fingernails, but for all I know they don't care. I'm just trying desperately to inject some excitement into my life; the other highlights this week have been my fantasy football draft and getting a new garbage disposal installed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Scenes From A Rainy Night in Atlanta

A couple, out for a dog-walk in the light rain. They're heading up North Highland Avenue, near my house.

A bridal store recently moved into a building over there -- what was once the Harvest restaurant, which I remember as being good despite never remembering a meal there. It's still fairly new in that location, so perhaps it caught the guy by surprise.

They're walking at a decent pace until they get to the bridal store, and the girl stops dead in her tracks. Stops, turns 90 degrees, gapes at the window display (rain be damned).

The guy (and dog)? He does everything but break into a sprint. He started moving as fast as a man can while technically still walking.

* * *

A while back I was gonna write something about how rain suits Atlanta and the city's a bit prettier/friendlier during it, but I sobered up. I had something (what, I'm not sure) there, though. It loses its big city hopes during a nice rain like tonight's, and settles into something more comfortable for Atlanta -- it feels more like a large town rather than a city.

Granted, everyone in that city starts driving like they're dealing with a blizzard, so it's not all fun and games. But around here I'll take rain over sunshine.

Friday, August 22, 2008


#36 -- "Ghost Story" by Peter Straub

One of my favorites when I was a kid, and something I've been meaning to re-read for some time now, ever since I read "Turn of the Screw" and finally understood some of the references/homages. I'm pleased to say that it holds up extremely well -- the "town cut off" theme is perhaps the most effective in horror fiction, and this is up there with "Salem's Lot" on top of the heap.

I'm pleased to note that it wasn't just chilling -- Straub writes extremely well, and this is so much better than most of the stuff I was reading when I was 15. Back when I was actually getting paid to review books, I got called out by a local store-owner for tossing the old "transcends the genre" line around like a limp penguin. He was right, but sometimes things do transcend the genre, and this is one of them.

I fear most of the stuff I liked back then wouldn't hold up today -- I've been thinking about, and then rejecting, the idea of giving Ramsey Campbell a read -- but this does. It'd be better if I could read this with about five feet of snow outside, but that's unlikely for now. It's great anyway.

* * *

In the "trying new things" category, I got past one of my culinary taboos yesterday and had a beef tongue taco at a little joint out on Buford Highway. Two observations:

1) "tongue taco" sounds horribly obscene -- seriously, go tell a co-worker that you're having "tongue taco" for lunch and see how long you keep your job. I made an effort to say "lengua taco," probably pronouncing it horribly and causing merriment for the staff. I always associate "lengua" with Los Crudos, not tacos.

2) for something so daunting (to me, at least), I'd expect tongue to be more exciting... either mind-blowingly tasty or horribly, life-changingly awful. But it was just kinda ... bland. Compared to the other tacos I got (barbacoa and pastor pork) it didn't make much of an impression.

* * *

I haven't been paying attention to the Olympics because I'm a bad American, but I have been following my new adopted hockey team, HC Kometa Brno. And I'm pleased to see they're doing well. They're undefeated in preseason play thus far, and in the Tipsport Cup, which is some sort of Czech preseason club championship, they finished on top of Group D (beating out three Extraliga teams!). They'll now face BK Mlada Boleslav in the next round, on Wednesday, I think. Then real-life Czech league play begins on September 10th.

Also, in case anyone from the Czech Rep. stumbles upon this, I've been e-mailing HCKB, trying to find out if they'll sell me a Kometa t-shirt despite my being in the U.S. -- no response yet. So if anyone out there cares to buy me one and send it over, you'll be rewarded somehow or other. Drop me a line.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Svejk Unrestrained

#35 -- "The Good Soldier Svejk" by Jaroslav Hasek

A bit later than planned, the first novel from Tibor Fischer's list of the great Eastern European books. Svejk is something of an institution in the Czech Republic now, and many pubs have cashed in on tourist schlubs like me by proudly displaying Josef Lada's iconic representation of the little fellow.

I actually read this some years ago, but the version I read previously was considerably bowdlerized and about one-third the length. This version clocks in at about 750 pages, and was intended to be much longer -- it was originally written as a serial, but Hasek died midway through, which puts a damper on anyone's writing career.

Its label of "classic" is pretty well justified -- yes, it's too long and too repetitive (he was getting paid by the word, after all), but it's hilarious and sly. Svejk, if you'd rather read it here than on Wikipedia or whatever, is a Czech soldier in the Austrian army during World War I, constantly causing trouble for his superiors by feigning (?) idiocy. There's been much said about how Svejk represents the Czech character by using subtlety rather than force to screw over those more powerful, but I wouldn't really know anything about that. It's really funny, though, and I'd recommend it as a bedside book -- there's no real long-lasting plot, just a series of adventures and gags, so just read it when you need something to fill the time.

* * *

In the words of ICJ, the best thing in the history of things:

Thanks Ski Bum. For those who find a penguin inspecting troops and getting knighted sort of lacking without context, here's the full story of Nils Olav.

* * *

Finally: Phreakmonkey doesn't post much, but when he does, it's really really cool. He's got photos of an abandoned winery in southern Atlanta up now.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Maiden Atlanta

We're still in the dregs of August, a/k/a "the month when everyone with half a brain gets the hell out of Atlanta," an appellation it shares with June, July, January, February, much of May and September, and probably a week or so in April. But there's little signs that eventually, it may cool off a bit and this whole disgusting heat-fest will ease a bit. You no longer have to get up before 7 a.m. if you want to spend a little time outside; yesterday I was strolling at about 10:30, post-rainstorm, and it was actually pleasant outside. Imagine that! Pleasure!

I've pretty much gone all summer without going out and taking photos, because it's been so bloody disgusting that I just sit inside and read/lie on the couch until it's either time to go to work or socially acceptable to go drink beer, depending on what day of the week it is. But taking advantage of an early awakening and the not-horrendous temperatures this morning, I went for a little stroll near my house.

Iron Maiden was one of my favorite bands as a youth, and I still retain some fondness for them, so every time I pass by this sign I mentally say "Maiden!!" to myself in a faux-Wayne's World voice. It's hardly the stupidest little habit I have, but it's up there.

I don't really know why Maiden Lane exists. It's basically a back alley, but doesn't really lead anywhere anyone would need to go. It's got some alternative entrances to Chinese joints and condo complex parking lots. That's about it. I saw two things that seemed to actually have Maiden Lane addresses; one a garage (not a garage business -- just a garage), the other a condo building that actually faced out onto a larger street.

A friend once told me that some of the little lanes and such in my neighborhood had some purpose back in the pre-automobile era, but I've now forgotten what that purpose was, so I'm not sure why I'm even bringing this up.

A for effort and spelling, D for execution (bars are backwards). See me after class.

Here's that garage. Looking very... garagey. I dig the numbers, though.

Maiden Lane seems to have been paved only recently -- I remember it being gravel the last time I drove on it (which was probably two years ago, at least). Now it may be the best-paved street in Atlanta, which I'm sure is a thrill for the five people that drive it daily.

Parts of this poster were torn away and illegible, which is unfortunate, because I was pretty excited to finally find out who caused Katrina.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Something I Learned Today

Things, actually:

1) Someone has created a blog devoted to good representations of the humble ampersand, and I enjoy it. If you had told me that prior to me seeing this blog, I would have looked at you strangely, but go figure. My brother passed it on. Thanks, Tim.

Apparently it got hyped on, which I'm vaguely aware is a big blog, but I've always associated it with Leo Kottke the musician. Nothing against him -- I saw him once in Boulder, and he was pretty good, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't drunk -- but I always figured a web page devoted to him would be kind of dull. Yeah, I know this one ISN'T devoted to him, but I can't shake the association.

2) The Canadian Football League actually gives out a "Most Valuable Canadian" award in the Grey Cup. This has cheered me to no end. I guess (please don't correct me if I'm wrong) that they give an award to the real most valuable player, and then they give the Most Valuable Canadian award to the most valuable player who's actually from Canada, which is like the substitute kicker or something. If you know anyone from Canada, go ahead and tell them -- "Hey, , you're the Most Valuable Canadian in my book." Unless they're a prick.

I found this fact when I was searching for a good deal on a Saskatchewan Roughriders jersey, just in case anyone thought I wasn't a dork.

Atlanta's Extremes

The Ski Bum and I were wrapping up a hike yesterday -- weekly hikes being my major method of trying to counter a primarily beer-and-wing-based diet -- when we came upon an older fellow in a parking lot.

"Can I try out some jokes on you two?" he asked. In the movies, there would be ominous music at this point, but I haven't developed full-time soundtrack capability, so I said sure.

He told us that he was going to be appearing at a comedy club in Boston, and that they'd just legalized gay marriage up there (untrue). He told us two gay jokes of various degrees of awfulness, and while his delivery was good, they were pretty unfunny even if that's your thing. Still, I chuckled politely.

He went on to tell us that he had a deal with a major publisher for three books of jokes, at $50,000 a pop (his story kept changing at this point -- we heard no more about the comedy club) and then, somehow, went from there into explaining that gay marriage was bringing about Sodom and Gomorrah, and end times. Men lying down with men, God doesn't want us to do that, so on. I couldn't really fact-check him on this because it's been a while since I read the Bible and all I really remember is "pillars of salt" and so forth. We stared, made non-committal noises, and then TSB said "well, it'll be good for population control, at least" as we sped away (him saying something to the effect of "thanks for critiquing my sense of humor!" behind us).

Then this morning, I was driving home from an errand and stopped at a stoplight (that's the law, here in Atlanta!). A sort of out-of-it looking guy was wandering through the cars. He walked up to the driver's window of the car next to me, pulled up his shirt, and pulled down the front of his shorts. Then, apparently rebuffed, he readjusted himself and strolled off.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Quick Update

Hope to get back to regular posting (how often have I said that?) in coming days, but lots to do this morning so just the usual crap about books:

#33 -- "The Boys on the Bus" by Timothy Crouse

I've wanted to read this for ages -- Crouse worked alongside Hunter S. Thompson covering the 1972 election and I've always sort of viewed this as a companion volume to "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail," which remains my all-time favorite political book. This is more a look at how the media covered the election, and it's really, really, really good. Much of it is extremely relevant today.

#34 -- "Nowhere Man" by Aleksandar Hemon

Bosnian novelist Hemon is getting touted pretty heavily these days with the release of his new book, so I figured it was time to finally read this, which has been sitting on my shelf for a few years. Not at all what I expected -- I thought it would be much darker, but this, while often grim, is also kind of sweet and poignant. We follow Josef Pronek, a Ukrainian living in Bosnia, through his life through the eyes of various narrators. The last bit is supposed to make us question what we've been reading before, but it didn't really work for me -- it just seemed tacked on. I have a feeling, though, that this book would benefit from multiple readings. Beautifully written -- Hemon wrote this in English after speaking the language for less than a decade, if I recall correctly, and he puts most native English writers to shame. I could write a ton more on this, but like I said, no time. I'll be getting his other books at some point.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Chop Chop

Well, looks like someone hasn't been updating his blog at all. A lack of material is to blame, I'm afraid. I could tell you what I've done with my past week, but you'd go into a coma.

A couple weeks back, I announced the adoption of HC Kometa Brno as my hockey team, since both the Avalanche and Thrashers seem headed for hockey tragedy in 2008-09. Now I'm proud to announce that the Post-Pessimist Association is taking on an AHL affiliate --


The frowny-faced scolds of the hockey blog world have been up in arms about this team's mere existence in recent weeks, because the name is, I guess, improperly worshipful of the church of hockey. "Gordie Howe never played for a team called the 'Chops'!", they whine. If ever there was proof that hockey fans take shit way too seriously, this is it. Do baseball fans cry about the Albuquerque Isotopes? I don't know -- I don't really read baseball blogs other than Fire Joe Morgan. But I suspect they have better things to do with their time.

There's a lot to like about this Chops team! That's a nicely-drawn pig, I must say -- he looks angry, because he's just found out that he's going to be a pork chop in the near future. How's he going to deal with that anger? I don't know, but I'd guess via playing hockey. Although since he's apparently a disembodied head (maybe the rest of him is already in plastic containers at Kroger), he might not be so good.

A few more kudos: the pig (head) isn't carrying a hockey stick. Nice restraint there. And the team name isn't the "Chopz," as it would have been if this were 1998.

I'm really curious as to why this has excited such vitriol and breast-beating. Unless they're named after an animal, sports team names are intrinsically kind of dumb. If the St. Louis Blues or Indiana Pacers came around today, they would sound stupid. And if the Iowa Chops had come around in 1972, people would hail this as old school.

So go Iowa Chops. I plan to buy a t-shirt sometime soon (no jerseys - let's not get ridiculous here).