Monday, August 22, 2011

Infinite Jest - Attempt No. 2.

So I'm about 160 pages in to this monstrosity. That's 30 pages past the point where I gave up last time. I'm going to tell you what this book is about (to me*).

There's a family who runs a tennis academy/boarding school in New England for elementary-through-high- school aged students. The family has three boys. One is a professional football kicker in Arizona, one is currently enrolled in the school and a pretty decent tennis player, and the other is mentally disabled somehow, but allowed to live on campus and seems to be a bit of a pal to everyone at the school.

The father has died and the mother and uncle took over the operation. He was apparently raised by an alcoholic, failed, pro-tennis player father who began teaching him, at age 10, a little bit about tennis while sipping whiskey. They lived between Arizona and California, depending.

There are a bunch of drug addicts that live in and around Harvard mugging people for their fixes. One's a transvestite. One dies during an overdose of something (drano?) while the rest watch. Then they put him in a dumpster.

There's another group of seemingly very uneducated, possibly drug-addicted other folk, but I thought they were Southern?

There is also a drug treatment center and the character who started it, in a run down neighborhood outside Boston.

One of the kids at the academy lived in this neighborhood. He is talented and does not come from money, like many of the other students. Almost all the kids participate in some form of drug use, and this kid deals in clean urine to keep them all eligible and enrolled.

Ok, now up in Canada, some Prince's Eastern European physician is comatose after watching a video that arrived in the mail. Everyone that goes to rescue him also finds themself fixated on the looping video in the playing device.

There's another dude that gets massive quantities of weed and locks himself up in his apartment to smoke it until it's gone. I forget the quantity. Maybe he smokes like two ounces in a weekend? Something insane like that. He keeps trying to quit but then goes back for one more bender. You might imagine he's a little paranoid.

Finally, there's a couple of guys sitting on a mountain outside of Phoenix. One's undercover dressed as a woman. The other is in a wheelchair. They are sitting and observing something. They might be in the military or some kind of police force. They sort of seem to work together but not.

Sometimes it seems like maybe the tennis academy is in the Southwest also, not in New England, but I'm pretty sure it's in New England. There is a big tournament discussed that IS in Phoenix.

This middle kid (youngest?) of the family, the one who can play pretty decent tennis and is an upper-classman at the academy seems to have had some kind of mental breakdown. He's a secret pot smoker. It's often unclear whether he (and his disabled brother) can actually talk – or if they are just imagining their conversations. He was of the sort of smart where he can memorize an entire dictionary and recite definitions, including the page number where they appear (depending on which dictionary you'd like him to reference). He's trying to gain entrance to a school in Arizona, when he cracks under pressure.

*I really have no clue if any of this interpretation is accurate. At this point I just keep reading when I can, as much as I can. Sometimes that's just a few paragraphs – before I get overwhelmed and have to close my eyes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Corn and Brat.

Went up to Wendt's place for the annual Corn and Brat festival in Williams Bay this weekend. Caribbean steel drum band, all the corn and brats and beer you can consume, fireworks, DJ, bands, beer pong... What more can you ask for? Except, of course, kicking the whole weekend off with dinner at Mars.

There was immediate seating on the patio, but how can you choose to do that when the alternative is to wait an hour for a table in the elegant dining room while you enjoy your first cocktail outside on the water? Um, not us. You need this in the background while you enjoy your ribs:

The SAME LADY is still playing the damn piano bar?! This lady was entertaining this joint when I was 10 years old.

Saturday it was grey and rainy. After a drive-by in Lake Geneva (town) we opted for a more local and lower key lunch at Gordy's. Bloody, beer back, tortilla soup and lunch followed by... a nice, long, 2 hour... NAP! Perfection.

So after numerous drive-by's of the C&B all weekend, it was time to hit it. But first, we loaded up our roadies and walked a couple blocks to Gage for the Caribbean band and party before the fireworks. Nothing like a band set up on a platform with a boat as the background to get you in the mood and watch the sun set.

When it seemed the kegs had run out at Gage, we made our way down to the madness of Corn and Brat.

This is where you got your ears of corn. As I got my second (sorry it was so good!) ear of corn, I realized that they weren't taking them out of the large tin cans that were lined up – stuffed full vertically on the grill with their husks sticking out – and THEN dipping them in butter...

Nope. On closer inspection (see the shiny, greasy husks?) it appeared they were literally heated IN the butter. And then you got to take your drenched corn to the shaker section and spice it up. Holy goodness.

The crowd was amazing. This t-shirt was a favorite.

A 12-oz beer was 2 tickets (2 bucks) and a "pitcher" was 7. No joke there was a table of people playing flip cup by the band/DJ that had, not exaggerating, a tower of at least 50 pitchers stacked empty on their table. We ended up beating it out of there, after dying laughing with two women who were convulsing over their 30 terrible i-phone self portraits, and joining some failed beer games – "If this is a beer drinking game when am I supposed to DRINK?" – around 11. Both nights had the most amazing, see-your-shadow, full moons that I've seen in a long time, too. Layed out on Pier 301 for a few hours and stopped by the Farm Stand on the way home. Super weekend.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

This is summer.

Something about Teddy's swim situation hanging over the ropes at WSSC ~ well I love it that he's hanging with me most weekends even if he can't come in the "Big Kid" pool yet.