Monday, November 28, 2005

Sunday, November 20, 2005

chess: new gloss without the brilliancies

Levens, David. Basic Chess. Jan. 2006. Sterling Publishing. c192p. color illus. glossary. index. ISBN 0-600-60804-2. $7.95.

for Library Journal

David Levens’ latest book delivers exactly what it advertises: basic chess. Suitable only for novices, the work presents the fundamentals in the trademark bright tones that characterize the booming instructional book market. While his work proves somewhat thin on tactical practice opportunities, Levens lays out the game and its basic principles, moving into essential knowledge such as standard openings; piece strengths, weaknesses, and movement; pins, forks, and skewers; or common mating patterns. The surface gloss of chessic history, including the obligatory hat tip to famous players (Dickens, Nabakov, Duchamp, Amis, et al), adds little to the text. The pages would have been better allotted to more exercises, the key to improving any beginner’s games. Advanced beginners hoping for a new collection of tough puzzles or reviews of sophisticated lines of play would be better served by standbys like the lively Pandolfini’s Ultimate Guide to Chess or the lesser-known 303 Perplexing Chess Puzzles by Fred Wilson and Bruce Albertson. Additionally, nearly all the information in this book is available on the Internet. Not recommended.—Elizabeth Kennedy, Oakland, CA

Thursday, November 10, 2005

where i'm at

i love my country,
but i want to start seeing other people

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

look into my crystal ball: see before you the valley of ashes

i sit at work.
i am given pictures.
i write 'catchy' phrases.

these pix generally depict sporty spice in various degrees of impractical fauxthleticism.

example one: crunchy gal in yummy fern-hued vest strolling toward big moody mountains. i write: storm warming.

example two: studly strongwoman wearing bright orange eye-assaulting shirt and playing ball with dog riverside. i write: fetching tops.

example three: holiday product shot of two fuzzy pullovers with scarves flung over them all carefree-like. i write: give fleece a chance.

and so on.

and all i really want to write -- all i really ever want to say these days -- to everyone who crosses my path all day long is: you are fucking doomed. the planet is self-destructing. and not only china. that's just easier to report than the fuck-all we're annihilating.

and it's your fault for buying that take-out ...

or yours -- see on your desk, that little plastic buddha? producing that required we release all sorts hideous VOCs into the air and leachate into the earth your very buddha sat his ass on ...

or yours for doing your nails in that ridiculous pink color and killing all the fish with the runoff going from the mississippi straight into the ocean and choking off all other flora with red algae and starving the fish and driving sharks inland to eat us ...

doomed. i mean you.

left alone

up on the wall, readable while i brush my teeth:

To Waiting

by W. S. Merwin

You spend so much of your time
expecting to become
someone else
always someone
who will be different
someone to whom a moment
whatever moment it may be
at last has come
and who has been
met and transformed
into no longer being you
and so has forgotten you

meanwhile in your life
you hardly notice
the world around you
lights changing
sirens dying along the buildings
your eyes intent
on a sight you do not see yet
not yet there
as long as you
are only yourself

with whom as you
recall you were
never happy
to be left along for long