Drew Toal

Spader is the new Rumsfeld


I didn’t think it was possible to pack so many cliches into such a small space, but the voiceover on this trailer for the 1985 James Spader vehicle Tuff Turf may have set some kind of record. It’s almost poetic…

Meet Morgan Hiller
He’s got an attitude
They’ve got a problem
He lives in two worlds
Always behind enemy lines
Tuff Turf

He’s a loner on a roll
An outsider on the edge
Caught between a dangerous loser
And the girl they both love
They can’t shut him down
And they can’t cool him off
Tuff Turf

He stands alone
And one way or another
He’s going to make this town his own
He’s always been a rebel
Now he’s about to become a hero
Tuff Turf

Random / 9 Comments
August 12th, 2009 / 12:34 pm

Mightiest of books, mightiest of men

kirk_vikings_1Following the expulsion of Erik Bloodaxe from York in 954, England had enjoyed a quarter-century of respite from Viking attacks. One of the two men responsible for their resumption was Olaf Tryggvason. Olaf’s is one of the emblematic careers of the Viking Age, describing in clear trajectory his graduation from marauding sea-king to missionary land-king. His life and career are the subject of one of Snorri Sturluson’s longer sagas, of one even longer called The Greater Saga of Olaf Tryggvason, and of a lost sage written in Latin by Odd Monk, which nevertheless survives in a free translation.

That bit is taken from Robert Ferguson’s epic, forthcoming history of the Vikings, coveniently entitled The Vikings. If you could have a saga written about you, what would it be called? And who would write it? Subquestion: How do you think Erik got the surname ‘Bloodaxe’?

Blind Items / 2 Comments
August 11th, 2009 / 2:41 pm

From the Balki Bartokomous wiki

One episode had Larry going duck hunting and the normally gentle Balki surprisingly asks to come along, out of an intense hatred for ducks, which are regarded as vicious predators on Mypos. The description he gives of the ducks on Mypos later in the episode, however, implies that in fact Pterodactyls still exist on the island.

Excerpts / 27 Comments
August 7th, 2009 / 2:45 pm

Wouldn’t it be awesome if Hank Williams III [Update: Turns out it was junior in the picture. My bust.] turned out to not actually be related to the legendary Hank Williams I and instead turned out to be the illegitimate son of Marge Schott and dog shit? Because I think that would be awesome.

Literature of the golden gophers

Jesse_VenturaI’ve got Minnesota on my mind. This contest—an ongoing, weekly Minnesota-themed trivia melee and scavenger hunt beginning this October—looks like a lot of fun, and the Twin Cities sound like a pretty awesome and cold place to be. Apparently, one has to actually be in town to take be able to win fabulous prizes (Vikings era Randall Cunningham jersey? Jesse “The Mind” Ventura autograph?), but they are, until August 14, taking submissions for questions which will be the engine for the lit hunt. Email your esoteric questions concerning dissenting opinions from the Warren E. Burger court to twincitieslit@gmail.com. Contest winners will receive a grab bag of books from Coffee House, Graywolf and other sweet presses.

Coffee House Press, Graywolf Press, The Loft Literary Center, and Milkweed Editions are celebrating our anniversaries and Minnesota’s thriving literary community by hosting a grand scavenger hunt: Around the Literary Twin Cities in (Almost) 80 Days. Each week, from mid-October through December 24th, we will be releasing a Minnesota-themed literary trivia question with prizes awarded for correct answers presented at local venues and a grand prize drawing at the end.

Contests / Comments Off on Literature of the golden gophers
August 3rd, 2009 / 4:02 pm

Diet tips

Do tricks. Get fed.

Do tricks. Get fed.

Speaking as a recently rehabilitated lover of Pop Tarts and Easy Mac, I have recently (the last year or two) actually started to wonder about where my food comes from, and what the process was that brought it before me. There are plenty of books out there now for the curious (Fast Food Nation, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, etc), but I, for one, am only interested in taking nutritional advice from a reclusive, bearded old Japanese farmer—specifically, The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka (recently rereleased by the NYRB). In this wonderful little book, Fukuoka lays down the details of his unique practice of sustainable, “do-nothing” farming, and speculates on the not-so-awesome ramifications of industrial agriculture and your typical food consumers disassociation from their hunter-gatherer forebears. Fukuoka died last summer, at the ripe, wrinkly age of 95, so I think it’s safe to say that his methods worked.

Uncategorized / 11 Comments
July 27th, 2009 / 1:24 pm

Earlier today, my friend Rebecca im’d me with the message, “Barth died.” I inquired, “John Barth?” She said, “Uh, sure.” The Internet turned up nothing on this, so I asked her where she heard this distressing news. Turns out she was talking about Barth from You Can’t Do That On Television, and just assumed that was his full name. Barth: Gone too soon.

Fishing for something to read

I'd love to hook me a Snork

I'd love to hook me a Snork

I was back home in South Jersey this past weekend. Knowing full well how difficult it is to find good books down there (there will be no Nelson DeMille for Mrs. Toal’s boy), I made sure to bring my own reading material. Of course, in the end, I was no match for the call of the mall, and before I knew it ended up poking around in Borders. When was the last time you found something good at that place? It’s all vampires, self-help and celeb or Jesus bullshit these days. You have to go in to the nonfiction aisle to even have a chance of finding a tolerable title. Which I did. And I came across Tom McGuane’s The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing. Has anyone read this? I haven’t been out fishing for at least a decade, yet felt strangely compelled to read it. I like McGuane’s fiction well enough, but to define your life in terms of angled snappers and trout—that is awesome.

I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to Atlantic County for suggesting that its denizens can’t read. I’m…sorry.

Behind the Scenes / Comments Off on Fishing for something to read
July 22nd, 2009 / 3:41 pm

James Hamilton-Paterson: Green opinions you can trust

Saltier than thou

Saltier than thou

“The oceans have long been, and will long be, subjected to ruthless exploitation and even, in places, to ruin. It is not really the sea which is in recession, though, but wildness itself. Wildness is everywhere but it can no longer be seen; and its apparent vanishing is a direct consequence of the new conservationism. ‘The Wild’ is nowadays a concept ringing with the overtones of patronage, of collections by schoolchildren on its behalf. The present generation is as much contaminated by its own reverential and placatory attitude as the older was by domination. There is something ignoble about it, compounded as it is of urban sentimentalism, virtuous concern and sheer panic at having irrevocably fouled the nest while so comfortably lining it…Virtue and the wild share no common universe.”—Seven-Tenths: The Sea and its Thresholds.

Power Quote / 2 Comments
July 16th, 2009 / 10:08 am

A thousand times yes. Bobby Digital drops some knowledge and his “singular philosophical code” on us October 15  with The Tao of Wu.