Wow! Thanks for all of the feedback. Didn't expect this much of a response, especially over the weekend. Keep it coming.
Non-poetry books: The only one so far that I've already read is Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea, though that was a long time ago. I went through my Hemingway phase somewhere in the very late-80s, early-90s and had a love/hate thing with him. While I liked his style, I felt he was a little overrated. His manly-man posturing was very appealing, though, especially since I believed I was going to put a bullet in my head when I turned thirty. I've read some Vonnegut but I'll be damned if I can remember which ones! A quick Amazon search and Hocus Pocus and Bluebeard both ring bells. I DO remember loving his writing style, though. Chabon's book has been on my to-read list since I got back into comic books last year. The others all sound interesting and I think I'll have to spend a lunch or two browsing through Borders checking them out.
Non-political topics: Some great stuff that I'll come back to in more depth in later entries, but I'll take a quick stab at some of them now.
* The first thing that struck me about the Mrs. Croc/Salvation Army endowment - right after, "Wow, that's a shitload of money!" - was why didn't she donate the money to the Ronald McDonald House instead? Then I remembered the Salvation Army's issues with gays and lesbians and wondered what McD's EOE policies were. Then I hoped it would help squash Dubya's plans to funnel federal money to religious organizations via "faith-based initiatives." I also flashed back to my American Express days and a class we had on how to sell rich people life insurance for charitable intentions and tax evasion purposes.
* The top-selling comic book ever - X-Men #1 (art by Jim Lee) - sold 8 million copies in 1991. Speculators and egotistical artists nearly killed the industry shortly thereafter and it's still very much on life support. Today's top-sellers, in the US, are lucky to hit the 100,000 mark. Licensing keeps Marvel and DC afloat while they try to figure out how to expand their audiences beyond the faithful and fickle fanboys. In Japan, on the other hand, manga is respected and treated as an actual art form. There isn't the stigma we have here of it being for kids or, in the case of some underground stuff, perverts. As for that ever changing, I think Peter David said it best: "It's possible. If there's a world war and we're conquered by France or Japan."
* I'm still in touch with one ex-girlfriend, from while I was in the Army at Ft. Campbell, KY. She's now married with a son and currently living in Houston, though on the verge of a long-intended move to NYC. [CB: If you're reading this, I know I still I owe you info on those neighborhoods! Very soon!] We still talk once a month or so. We would have likely divorced within two years if we'd gotten married as we were both pretty young, stubborn and nowhere near ready to settle down. Of the others - the significant relationships, at least - I haven't the slightest idea where they are these days and am only vaguely curious about a couple of them.
* Passion is stimulating. I don't care what the subject is, if someone is really passionate about it, I love to read/hear what they have to say. For me, politics has always been a fascinating subject and this particular election, as important as it is on so many levels, has gotten me riled up like few things ever have. When I first started this blog, it was mainly intended to be a place for me to let loose some of my frustrations about the poetry scene - the anti-loudNOTES, if you will. Having moved on from there, politics was the thing that grabbed my attention the most.
* On life after louderARTS...well, that's one that needs its own entry, preceded by some introspection and, perhaps, self-censoring, so I'll come back to that one! ;-)
More to come...