Friday, April 27, 2007

Again With the Yellow

Your Inner Color is Yellow

Your Personality: Life's too short not to have fun. Your bright energy brings joy and laughter to those around you.

You in Love: A total flirt, you need a lot of freedom to play. But you'll be loyal to that one person who makes you feel safe.

Your Career: You love variety in a job, and you probably won't stick with one career. You would make a great professor, writer, or actor.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Just Another Manic Monday

So, 10 e-mails (6 from me) and 14 days after getting in touch with the head of the drama department at my school, auditions will be happening on Monday, May 30th. How's that for cutting it close? Hopefully people will reply; it would suck if no-one was interested.

It's actually going to be interesting to go through the audition process from the other side of the desk. I've provided some sides for the kids, but have no idea what their cold(ish) reading skills will be like; the teacher mentioned that she's tried to emphasize the validity of the audition process in her time at the school, but that doesn't mean she teaches audition skills, just that she encourages everyone to come and try out. I'm going with a couple thoughts in mind: an idea of what I want to see and a couple different notes to give to auditioners to see how they handle direction and what adjustments they're able to make on the fly. Other than that I'm really trying to be as open as possible, not even thinking about what the characters look like. I have no idea what sort of talent or committment levels I'm about to encounter, and I'm trying not to get my expectations too high in terms of the former. Luckily, the play (being completely honest) is somewhat mediocre, being written for young audiences/performers, and not too demanding.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Loose Ends

A week to go before I leave for Europe, and things are not where they need to be.

Over a week ago (at her request) I sent the current head of drama at my old high school an audition flyer with sides, asking her to get back to me with a more specific date and time. Since then I've been waiting...and waiting...and waiting.

Around the same time I had asked a friend who had registered a business when he helped produce a couple plays if I could use that business's info; the theatre I'm hoping to use charges first time renters a reservation fee which is several hundred dollars higher than if you've rented previously. This fee is credited towards your eventual rental bill, but anything which reduces up-front costs is a good thing. Since then I've been waiting for him to dig it up and send me the info, along with any information he might still have about donors. He mentioned the majority of their funding along those lines came from personal donations, which is something I'll probably be doing as well; if I can get $100 from 20 people (or some variation thereof like $50 from 40), that'll pretty much cover my rehearsal costs.

The school's going through a lot of construction, so I won't be able to use any space there for rehearsals. I've identified a couple alternatives which are actually better (read: cheaper), so that's fine, but lacking the business number I'm unable to actually go ahead and reserve anything. This has placed me in this state of perpetual waiting, which sucks.

The auditions are what's really worrying me, though. I can take care of reserving space out of the country; what I can't do is see these kids, and the lack of reply to this point worries me. I mean, I understand she's a teacher and all, but shit. How long does it really take to figure this stuff out?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

But Wait, I'm...

So, the media frenzy begins.

There's been an odd number of stories about Koreans expressing their extreme sorrow and apologies.

I mean, it's fine and all - certainly I'm not suggesting that it's stupid for those people to express their condolences - but there's something about it that's a little odd.

It's the obsession that Koreans have with the fact that the shooter himself was Korean ("Along with profound grief for the victims and concern for Cho's family, many expressed fear that his actions would tar the entire Korean American community -- which has long been associated with such values as hard work, education and family unity."). I don't think there's any added shame because of the shared nationality. Remember all the stories after 9/11 about Sikhs and other non-Muslim Arab or Pakistani people getting harassed? Bigots aren't too finicky. Say the shooter was Chinese, and some people were harassing a Korean. Are they gonna stop when the guy goes, "Wait, wait, I'm a Korean!" Conversely, given this situation, if some Chinese or Japanese person is getting bothered, I hardly think the fact that they're not Korean is going to help. Asians all look the same to Westerners, after all, right?.

Second, as details begin to emerge, it's clear that this is a very weak case for pro-gun control people. Cho bought his guns early this year; the .22 on February 9th and the 9 mm a month later, on March 16th (per this article). And while advisors and students are all coming out of the woodwork to say what a creepy guy he was (as they always do, after such an event), he had no background, no history of violent acts, nothing that would have raised any sort of flag. Aside from a complete ban on handgun purchases, I cannot think of any gun registration law which might have prevented this. And even given a ban, it's possible that he might have been able to acquire two or more handguns illegally. In fact, from what I know of gun enthusiasts, that's part of the argument which they use to justify the purchases of guns for security; criminals will acquire them illegally, so citizens should be able to purchase them legally for their own defense.

Lost in the shuffle of this is the news that the Supreme Court upheld a 2003 legislative ban on partial-birth abortions. I'm not gonna get all crazy (as I'm sure both abortion-rights and anti-abortion activists are) about how this is the beginning of the end of legalized abortion in the US, but it's certainly a situation that people should keep aware of.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Everyone Hates Toronto?

An amusing/interesting editorial over here, in response to a documentary released this week about the virulent hatred the rest of Canada bears for Toronto and its denizens.

It's amusing because anyone who's spent time in any of the true metropolises of the world has somewhat of the same perspective on Toronto that Torontonians have on the rest of Canada. Toronto's a nice city, don't get me wrong, but compared to New York, London or Tokyo it remains somewhat quaint and provincial.

It gets interesting near the end, when the writer mentions:
Post-colonial studies teaches us that citizens of colonies (or, in Canada's case, former colonies) suffer from a psychological condition that causes them to constantly perceive themselves as being outside the centre, as living on the margins.
In the 20th century, it's interesting to note that a number of the more infuential Western cultural critics have been Canadian. Marshall McLuhan, Naomi Klein and John Ralston Saul are all fairly well known in those circles. In some ways, I think you can count comedians as cultural critics as well; most stand up comedy these days depends on some aspect of a common culture. Canada, of course, also seems to produce an inordinately large number of talented comedians. At the time, I found it odd that Canada could produce such a disproportinate amount of such critics, and tried to fumble my way towards a reason. Tying it to the colonial experience was something I hadn't considered, and yet it seems to make a fair bit of sense.

The dominant news story today is, of course, the shootings at Virginia Tech. When more details start coming out, I wonder what, if any, ramifications there will be politically. At this point it's silly to make any inflammatory statements about policy (not that that'll stop any news media outlets, I'm sure), but you would think that at some point, Americans might stop and ask how many such killings they will tolerate before legislating some sort of effective gun control, even if it's just a knee-jerk reaction to such horrific violence.

Of course, I suppose another way of looking at it is that the death toll in Virginia is like any given day of the week in Baghdad. But that's a whole other kettle of fish, and, to be fair, things do seem to have settled down some since Petaeus was put in charge.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


I could have sworn I'd done this one, but I don't see it in my labelled drawer, so:

You Are Expressionism

Moody, emotional, and even a bit angsty... you certainly know how to express your emotions.
At times, you tend to lack perspective on your life, probably as a result of looking inward too much.
This introspection does give you a flair for the dramatic. And it's even maybe made you cultivate some artistic talents!
You have a true artist's temperament... which is a blessing and a curse.

I'm Super

You Are the Super Ego

While some people may think first and act later... you often don't act at all.
You'd rather be safe than sorry, and you take ethics pretty seriously.
Like everyone, you have some pretty crazy desires. But unlike everyone, you restrain yourself.
You have high standards for your own behavior. And you happily exceed them.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Nepotism Rules?

Had a good conversation with a high school friend of mine who I'd lost touch with.

Couple more details about my show: it looks like the performance space I'd been hoping to use is booked. I mentioned this today, and my friend suggested another space in Oakville which might even be better for my purposes, the studio theater at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts.

Part of the reason why I'd originally chosen the space at my high school was the hope that I might be able to get some sort of a discount on renting it. Interestingly enough, it turns out that my high school drama teacher is the Vice Chair of the board at the Oakville Centre.

I have connections! Who knew.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mr. Darcy, I Presume?

There are some people who are extremely comfortable talking to complete strangers, people who can sit and chat and instantly put others at ease.

I don't think I'm one of those people.

It is highly possible that this is a skill, something that can be learned through practice, repetition and personal reinforcement; certainly pick-up artists believe it is. It is also possible that there are some people who cannot learn it, or who will always be somewhat lacking, due to personal deficiency (for lack of a better term).

It's sort of funny that I posted a few entries ago about projecting our own personalities onto literary characters; the identification with characters in novels which personalizes them, which gives them an emotional and mental resonance in our own lives. Anyone who's ever read a book or watched a movie and thought, "I'm just like that person!" knows what I'm talking about. Because one of the things that struck me about Mr. Darcy when I first read Pride and Prejudice was his ill manner in the company of strangers, something which I (unfortunately) think I share.

It makes me uncomfortable to sit and chat with people I don't know; it makes me uncomfortable and nervous, and I'm prone to saying inappropriate things because of this (or just sitting silently), which leads to bad first impressions, which tend to be rather difficult to overcome. Maybe I just need to do suck it up and it more often, to push myself outside of my comfort zone, but doing so is - well - uncomfortable. Maybe I should just accept the fact (like Darcy) that I'm probably never going to be great in situations with complete strangers, and ask my friends to do likewise. Maybe I should get over myself.


Also, don't ask why this is posted at this time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Producer

Things are happening.

A few weeks ago, after I'd expressed an interest in producing but also my extreme ignorance as to what producing entailed, a friend of mine passed along the contact info of a classmate we'd had in high school, a guy who'd gone on to do a bit of theatre producing in Toronto. I sat down with him soon after and we had a decent chat, getting generally caught up and talking about this and that. In the end, it came down to, "Do it," with a couple caveats based on his experience; for example, his friend (the creative part of the team, my former classmate being the business, organized part) was careful to select productions with a built-in audience, such as Rocky Horror.

I spent some time mulling it over and decided that I would, indeed, do it. I knew what I wanted to do; the same material I would want to be performing, if it was being produced. But fear and doubt set in. After all, I didn't (still don't) know what the fuck I'm doing.

The compromise: using personal contacts. I got in touch with my high school drama teacher, told her I was thinking about producing a play and would love to give either current or graduating students opportunities. She loved the idea, but not so much the script I had in mind (This is Our Youth, which has many, many naughty words in it, because that's the way kids talk, which is part of what makes the script so strong). Instead, she suggested Skin, which is written with younger actors and audiences in mind, and deals (in quite the fortuitous circumstance) with race and racism.

So, one Complete Idiot's Guide and a couple more e-mails to various parties later, I'm looking at something that might actually happen, that I will make happen. It's still embryonic; I haven't secured the rights yet, because I want to see the black box space at my school before I decide whether to put it on there or in the 150-seat recital hall (which I doubt we could consistently fill), and the size of the venue apparently helps determine the royalties you'll have to pay, and I have no idea where the hell I'm going to get the money or how much I'm going to need. But things are moving.

And I'm scared shitless.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Still Nerdy

I've been puzzling over a recurrent theme in Underworld since I read it; at the time I tried to communicate it to a friend but it was pretty rough.

It concerns trash; a number of the characters in Underworld are involved in trash disposal, and Delillo writes about it on numerous occasions. I think what he's aiming for is an effect similar to The Human Stain, a meditation on the aftereffects of people's lives, the "trash" they leave scattered in their wake as they pursue this path, then that path, loving, hating and being indifferent towards those who come into their lives. And just as we don't think about the physical trash we throw away - the packaging around an iPod, the jar that peanut butter comes in, the plastic wrap around a cd or dvd - individuals are frequently ignorant of the effects they can have on people around them, both positive and negative.

It's not necessarily born out of any kind of malice or altruism (though it certainly can be); for the most part, it comes from a basic disconnect between individuals. People act in certain ways; they say things, they don't say things, they say things in certain ways, with certain inflections, and to their mind they are sending messages to those they interact with. But because others aren't privy to the specific way in which that person sees and interpret things, their actions (or inactions) are mistaken or missed completely.

Say you've had a fight with a friend or a loved one. Some time has passed, and you feel bad about what you've said or done to them, and want to apologize. Most people are too proud to come out and say, "I'm sorry," so they'll act in a manner which physicalizes these feelings. But the other person might not necessarily realize this, and they react accordingly. You, thinking that your overtures of apology have not only been refused, but explicitly rejected, become upset because of this, and the seeds of a deeper discontent are sown; not through any deliberate attempt but because of a simple disconnect.

This is the trash of human life: the sidelong glances, the unsaid words, all the insignificant details which mean so little to us and yet define us to other people, are the only things they have to judge and know us by.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Nerd Alert!

Some literary thoughts that have been pinballing through my head.

I had a conversation with a friend a bit ago about change in Pride and Prejudice. And I'm not all that sure that there's much of it. I mean, I think part of the point of the novel is the extent to which people's true natures are misinterpreted, due to prejudices held by other characters (see how it all ties in with the title there? Spiffy!).

Really, I guess it's a question of what constitutes change in a person. Fundamentally, I think people don't change. What they can change are their opinions, but their basic natures remain the same. In terms of Pride and Prejudice, Darcy remains the same proud, moral person throughout. He likes Elizabeth from the start; even though he only refers to her as "tolerable" at the dance, in the subsequent scenes it's clear that he, in fact, finds her attractive. What seals the deal is her personality; her wit, her intellect, her lack of artifice. More than anything, it is this last point; Darcy is not the sort of character to be attracted by the typical female schemes - anything smacking of such sentiments would actually repel him, I think.

Conversely, for Elizabeth, what brings about the change in her opinion of Darcy is the fact that while he and his actions are mistaken, he remains steadfast and true to his own moral principles. Again, it seems unlikely to me that any man whose beliefs were easily mutable would appeal to her; she requires an equal, a man of forbearance and intellect to match hers. It is because their fundamental natures are so similar that they are both so suited and so antagonistic towards one another.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

You Can't Handle the...Nevermind

An interesting article over here about (what else) Iraq; interesting because it makes a couple points which politicians tend to gloss over.

Bush's supporters are big on rhetoric about staying until the mission's accomplished. But what does that mean, really? "'The time scale to succeed is years,' said John J. Hamre, a former deputy defense secretary, while 'the time scale for tolerance here is 12 months for Democrats and 18 months for Republicans.'"

Fundamentally, the biggest problem with the administration's approach to Iraq was that they believed that Iraq's dictatorship could be toppled and replaced with a democratic government in the space of a year or so, perhaps 2 at the most. They had to sell the war to the American people (and, to a lesser extent, the global populace) in the first place, so the rhetoric all centered around Saddam and how he was so dangerous that he had to be removed. Just as in the Plame case, what's most frustrating is that had the administration been honest, it might have been excusable. People make mistakes, and many things that have happened in Iraq could not have been easily predicted. But now you're looking at a 5 to 10 year process just to work the cycle of violence out, and politicians continue to suggest that America can simply send more troops to calm Baghdad down for the summer, and all the other problems - the underlying ones which drive the violence - will magically work themselves out in that time.

There are, to my mind, two major reasons why sectarian violence continues. The first stems from political discontent. I don't think extremists from either sect are convinced that democratic forms of power sharing are acceptable; I don't think they view the level of compromise required by most democracies to be possible or desirable. I don't know how you convince these people that it can work; religious extremists are not known for their flexibility of doctrine.

The second stems from the American presence in Iraq, and is driven mainly by foreign fighters, or largely influenced by them. As long as American troops are seen as occupiers in Iraq, as long as America continues to support Israel, as long as America maintains garrisons in Saudi Arabia there will always be those who use these facts as rhetoric to drum up support among the disaffected and disenfranchised. America is there, and America is vulnerable; not only militarily but politically, because toppling an American-supported government is the closest terrorrists will ever come to toppling America itself.

But instead of coming right out and telling us this is what is required, the administration stonewalls. They say we can't withdraw now, but don't even attempt to say how long they think victory might take. How can voters make rational decisions when the only plan given is, "Trust us"? What about the troops, those troops which politicians are always so quick to say they support, who are having tours extended, being called up more frequently, and having home time cut to shorter and shorter lengths? Don't they deserve to be told the truth?

Across the board, this administration has responded, no. The American people are not strong enough to handle the truth; indeed, they don't want to be told the truth. In terms of domestic politics, Bush's true legacy is not Iraq, it's the reclaiming of executive privilege which he and his staff have overseen. From his use of recess appointments to signing statements to the numerous confrontations with Congress over testimony from presidential staff and advisors, the Bush administration has pushed presidential power to levels that are probably pre-Watergate. And while they may be content today with their guy in the White House, they might do well to remember that once power is established, it is exponentially more difficult to get rid of it; and some day, the person in the White House might disagree with them.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Returning to the dispute over Iraq funding.

The rhetoric over "pork" spending being added to the Iraq funding bill is both interesting and pointless. It's interesting because it shows how people will suspend their prejudices when things are in their favor or according to their own desires. It's pointless because it's nothing new. To wit: this story, noting that, "...such spending has been part of Iraq funding bills since the war began, sometimes inserted by the president himself, sometimes added by lawmakers with bipartisan aplomb."

For those who missed it, there was also a story a few days ago in the Times about a visit which John McCain and some other members of Congress paid to a Baghdad market, which led to McCain's comments that the liberal press was painting an unfairly poor picture of Iraq. In reply, rebuttals from the Washington Post and New York Times.

The thing is, McCain is correct to a degree. I'm sure there are many great things going on; in the worst situations it seems there are always acts of random, altruistic goodness (which get turned into Hollywood movies so we can all feel good about ourselves, but that's another post topic), and I'm sure progress might be being made outside and even within Baghdad, in terms of building infrastructure and whatnot. But it is somewhat difficult to ignore people dying and continuing to die in acts of premeditated terror. Wasn't the insurgency in its "death throes" a few years ago? Wasn't Al-Zarqawi the head of the serpent, and wouldn't the rest fall into disarray without him? Consider this, from the Times article: "'Every time the government announces anything — that the electricity is good or the water supply is good — the insurgents come to attack it immediately,' said Abu Samer, 49, who would give only his nickname out of concern for his safety."

You cannot win a fight against an insurgent or guerilla force with a purely military operation. There has to be a political element, because you have to win hearts and minds. And the point when the Americans could have done so in Iraq is, in my opinion, long past. Throwing more troops at it might create the security to rebuild, but how long can America maintain those troop levels? 2 months? 6? A year? 5 years? Infrastructure (power, water, sewage plants and the like) can only be built so quickly, and what of the political processes? Yeah, wow, they voted. People are so happy! They have a democracy! There's no reason for anyone to kill anyone else anymore!

It is somewhat horrible to say, but if the US wanted to rebuild Iraq as they did Japan and Germany after the Second World War, they actually should have done more damage during the invasion. Only out of such physical, emotional and mental devastation will a people accept such widespread changes forced upon them by another. And even then, given the sectarian divisions which didn't (I don't think) exist in 1950s Germany and Japan, the rebuilding process in Iraq still might have failed.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Spring, When a Young Man's Mind Turns to...Politics?

So Dubya's all upset; it's kind of funny how this Washington Post article makes him sound like a petulant child: "He strode alone into the Rose Garden and complained that 'it has now been 57 days' since he asked Congress for more money for the Iraq war and still has not gotten it."

It's an interesting question; clearly, the legislative branches are well within their explicit, Constitutional powers over appropriations and funding. But there's a conflict in this instance with the President's position as Commander in Chief. You can't fight much of a war without money, so is Congress interfering with that perogative? Aren't generals always constrained by circumstances? If the administration doesn't get the money they want with their current situation, doesn't it behoove them to either work with Congress and convince them to give the money or scale back their plans so they're in line with the money they do get? Say, for example, they get half of the money they say they need for their current plans, and then they go ahead with those plans anyways, sending soldiers without enough armor (gee, where have I heard that before?), equipment and whatnot. Whose fault is it, then, if casualties which might have been prevented by full funding occur? Is it the fault of Congress for not providing the funds? Or the fault of the administration for sending soldiers out, knowing they lacked the proper protection? Who benefits from a political situation where both sides are like kids in a staring contest? Bush himself mentions, "'The Congress is exercising its legitimate authority as it sees fit right now,' Bush answered. 'I just disagree with their decisions.'" (quoted from this story) Isn't that a democracy? Man, it's too bad those Founding Fathers didn't think that maybe the legislative and executive branches might have disagreements from time to time. No other president's ever had to deal with a combative Congress, right?

There was a story a little while ago about a family who had lost relatives in both Iraq and Vietnam (as I'm sure many military-oriented families have), where a person was quoted as saying their relative had died in vain in Vietnam, and they didn't want that to happen again in Iraq. What is interesting is the notion that the death in Vietnam was for nothing. Why is it perceived that way? Is it because America pulled out of a situation which (to my admittedly uninformed view) was untenable, one which they arguably should not have been in in the first place? Or is it because America didn't "win"? Or did they? How's Vietnam doing these days, anyways? Those damn Commies won, right?


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hobgoblins, Politicians and Pomposity, Oh My!

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul simply has nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words and to-morrow speak what to-morrow things in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day. - 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' - Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
I've heard/read the above quotations before (though the passage is usually distilled to the first and last sentences), and they're fine and all, but there is a troubling aspect to them as well.

Emerson is not saying people should change their opinions willy-nilly, depending on whatever they might be feeling at any given moment. He is not inveighing against consistent thought on the whole, but against a small-minded consistency for the sake of being consistent, for fear of not being able to explain yourself when others say, "But on such-and-such a date you said this." Consider modern politicians and their endless dances to avoid being caught in such a situation in the first place, and their awkward responses when they cannot ("I voted against it before I voted for it!"...what a schmoo). There is nothing wrong with examined consistency, just as there is nothing wrong with examined, honest variance (perhaps I should say there should be nothing wrong with it, since wide swaths of the population seem to feel otherwise. Not that that was the only reason for Kerry's loss). It is the underlying motivation which accounts for an individual's greatness, or lack thereof. One can easily picture people changing their beliefs every day, according to the prevailing currents of thought around them, and then quoting Emerson to justify themselves. Such actions are the consequence of mental laziness, of minds seeking justification for their own weakness, cloaking themselves in arrogance and pompousness. I mean, who the hell would quote Emerson today?

To be passionate, to be honest, to be sincere and empathetic; these are the things which Emerson asks of us. Yet how many of us, through misguided vanity, believe we are that which we are not?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Projecting Into the Past

I've been rereading Pride and Prejudice, and (aside from it increasing my dissatisfaction with the 2005 film adaptation) thinking about a bit of literary critique in the introduction to the edition of Wuthering Heights I read, which identified Heathcliff as the perfect "other": a man whose past and motives are unknown, an individual upon whom others are free to project whatever they wish.

Before the advent of the modern novel (in general terms, the publication of Woolf, Proust and Joyce), the concept of the interior life of a character was less emphasized. External events and actions were the focus, from which readers were left to infer interior motive. In some ways, one wonders how much current enjoyment of classic texts owes to this fact, to the fact that modern readers are free (within reason, as dictated by the actions of the characters) to project whatever motivations they desire onto the protagonists. Modern novels which attempt to expose the precise inner workings of a character can be no less timeless or brilliant, but require a far more thorough understanding of the era and society which they are products of before one can begin to understand their characters.

For example, Elizabeth Bennet. A modern reading might identify her as a strong, independent woman: a modern heroine, unwilling to settle for a materially comfortable yet spiritually and intellectually dissatisfying marriage. Yet is that not modern, Western thought projecting its own morality into the past? She is an individual, yet it is only Western thought which prizes the individual above the collective, emotion over rationality; only in Western art is romantic love deified. Is it right of Elizabeth to be so contemptuous of Mr. Collins (admittedly, this is difficult to argue against), and subsequently, of Charlotte for accepting him (this is far less so)? And yet, whether or not it is right, it is true, and it is consistent with her character and the novel as a whole. As with philosophy, when reading fiction one must always distinguish between what the writer believes should be and is. And even if her actions weren't completely rational, the cardinal rule which one must always remember is that people are not consistent. People will frequently say one thing and act in a different manner; only in art do we demand purity of thought and deed before accepting a character as "believable," when reality and experience teach us otherwise.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Show Me the Money

1. The Rebel Sell: Why the culture can't be jammed, Joseph Heath & Andrew Potter
2. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
3. Rabbit, Run, John Updike
4. Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer
5. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser
6. Middlemarch, George Eliot
7. The Code of the Woosters, P. G. Wodehouse
8. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
9. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
10. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Jack Weatherford
11. Let Us Compare Mythologies, Leonard Cohen
12. The Sandman: The Wake, Neil Gaiman
13. The Sandman: Season of Mists, Neil Gaiman
14. The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller
15. The Sandman: The Doll's House, Neil Gaiman
16. The Sandman: The Kindly Ones, Neil Gaiman
17. Underworld, Don Delillo
18. The Sandman: Fables and Reflections, Neil Gaiman
19. The Sandman: Brief Lives, Neil Gaiman
20. Robert Kennedy and His Times, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr
21. The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, Neil Gaiman
22. The Sandman: Dream Country, Neil Gaiman
23. The Sandman: A Game of You, Neil Gaiman
24. The Sandman: World's End, Neil Gaiman
25. The Sandman: Endless Nights, Neil Gaiman
26. The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Frank Miller
27. Book of Longing, Leonard Cohen
28. Different Seasons, Stephen King
29. Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse
30. The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson
31. Moneyball, Michael Lewis

Moneyball is a study of an attempt to analyze baseball, and baseball players, on a statistical basis, in order to deal with the realities of a league in which teams with $40 million payrolls are asked to compete with teams with $160 million payrolls. It is as much about the opportunities afforded by inefficiencies in markets as it is about baseball itself, which probably explains the book's appeal to people outside of baseball. This makes it a doubly whammy of nerdiness (baseball statistics + economic analysis = holy crap zzzzzzzzz), but that's ok by me.