Sunday, March 7, 2010


READING: Joe Schreiber’s No Doors, No Windows starts off with a slower, more measured pace than Schreiber’s other novels, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to put down. In fact, this one has the kind of elements that make classic ghost stories compulsively readable—an abandoned house where the shadows hang heavy, an uncompleted manuscript falling into the hands of a writer who’s hit a dead end, and ghosts of the supernatural and mortal varieties. No Doors, No Windows reminds me of some of Stephen King’s more character-driven novels—Cujo in particular—and Schreiber here reads just as much like Stephen King’s son as Stephen King’s son does. Good stuff.

WATCHING: Last week I unearthed a box of VHS tapes in my office closet—boxing matches from the 80s and 90s. And, yes, I am a dinosaur. I still have a VHS player. Anyway, I’ve been having a lot of fun watching some old favorites—Hearns and Leonard, Tyson and Razor Ruddock, Holyfield and Riddick Bowe, and Marvin Hagler and almost anyone.

Hagler was my guy, a lone-wolf champion. He usually trained in the middle of nowhere, didn’t have an entourage. Was ignored by the powers-that-be for years before he finally got a shot at the title. I watched him work out at Caesar’s Palace before his fight with Roberto Duran. Guy was a 160-pound monster, nothing but muscle and skin. It’s been a lot of fun seeing him in the ring again. And great to rediscover a whole bunch of boxers who (unfortunately) are mostly forgotten today—Matthew Saad Muhammad, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Iran Barkley, Yaqui Lopez…man, they just don’t make ’em like that anymore.

LISTENING: One to the Heart, One to the Head by Gretchen Peters with Tom Russell. One of the best CDs I’ve bought in ages. A portrait of the American West by two of the best in the business. Mournful, spooky, beautiful…and “Billy 4”? Man, that’s the reason they put replay buttons on CD players. Bob Dylan (and Sam Peckinpah) would approve.

Now if we could only get Russell to record another album of cowboy songs, I’d be happy. Some of those old sixties gunslinger tunes, like the ones Marty Robbins used to make into hits. I’d love to hear Russell cover Lorne Greene’s “Shadow of the Cactus.” That would be something, amigo.