sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

August 18, 2010

wednesday random ten
posted by soe 3:52 pm

You know the routine: Hit shuffle on your favorite music player and record unedited the first ten songs it opts to play. Here are mine from my iPod:

1. “Moon over the Freeway” — The Ditty Bops
2. “Madagascar” (Push Remix) — Art of Trance
3. “Bajo Otra Luz” — Nelly Furtado featuring Julieta Venegas &
4. “Needles and Pins” — The Searchers
5. “Messiah: Part II, No. 44” — London Symphony
6. “Chicken Fried” — Zac Brown Band
7. “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree” — Mel & Kim (Yeah, nothing ever really gets deleted from my iPod. I would have been shocked if a Christmas song hadn’t come up…)
8. “Taxi” (live) — Harry Chapin
9. “Daydreamer” — Adele
10. “Crazy” — Gnarls Barkley

I have to say: This may be one of the more eclectic playlists my iPod has ever come up with.

What does your iPod/cd changer/etc. think you’d like to listen to today?

Category: arts. There is/are 3 Comments.

into the stacks: heat
posted by soe 1:44 am

Heat by Mike Lupica

From the jacket: “Michael Arroyo grows up in the shadows of hallowed Yankee Stadium, a boy forever on the outside looking in. His only chance to see his field of dreams? Pitch his Bronx all-star team to the district finals and a shot ta the Little League World Series. But there is a problem. Michael is good — too good. Rival coaches and players can’t believe a boy could be this good and be only twelve years old.”

My take: Ace pitcher Michael, his 17-year-old brother Carlos, and their Papi are relatively recent arrivals in New York, having escaped from Cuba with the hope of getting the gifted Michael to the Little League World Series and, eventually, to the Majors.

All is progressing according to plan: Michael is feeling great both from the mound and at the plate. He and his best friend Manny, a fast-talking catcher with a secret passion for dance, books, and movies, are part of an unbelievably good summer all-star team in the Bronx. And there’s this beautiful girl named Ellie who’s started showing up at the playing field some days who’s got a wicked arm and a great laugh.

You’d think life just couldn’t get any better for Michael until an opposing father/coach writes a letter to the local Little League saying he suspects Michael is older than he’s allowed to be, and the league votes to suspend Michael until he and his family can produce his birth certificate to prove his age. Suddenly, life has just gotten much more complicated, threatening to reveal a secret that Michael is guarding closely and that could get him and his loved ones into a lot of trouble.

Sports columnist Lupica has created an interesting backstory for his main character and his secondaries and does not feel obligated to share all of it with us. This helps to make the characters feel like people with stories outside of the confines of the novel. Also, there were several spots in the book where I thought, “Oh, so this is where the story is going to go.” And often it didn’t. I don’t know if those were intentional false leads or if Lupica just, as Jasper Fforde puts it, built himself a lot of off-ramps that he didn’t end up needing, but, again, it works.

I think this is a book that a lot of boys would really like. Michael’s not an outwardly emotional character, but he’s got a lot going on beneath the surface. He feels out of control in his life, but when he’s on a baseball field that all slips into the background. Plus, Manny makes an awesome best friend. The boys try to solve their own problems without getting adults involved, which recalls to mind a number of poor interesting choices I made as a teenager because I could see grownups were just going to complicate things. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, merely that it’s real.

It’s not just boys who’ll like the book, though. Anyone with an appreciation for a well-told tale focusing on the underdog also will close the back cover with a smile on their face. I’m glad I picked it up.

Pages: 220

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