Rick's Ramblings

You have found Rick's Ramblings, a Web Log.

I have been writing in this space for a few years now. Visit the archives to get a feel for my style.

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Email: rickumali@gmail.com

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Saturday, May 19, 2001
I finished An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser. This was the most ambitious book I've read this year, because it is literature, and it was quite long (814 pages in my Signet Classic edition).

I was grateful for the lengthy afterword by Irving Howe, a literary critic. He put the novel into perspective for me.

The plot is simple: young boy with passive morals falls for the allure of the luxurious life, which leads to murder. But this simple sentence gives no justice to the depth and detail of this somber novel. Howe writes that the novel continues Dreiser's form of 'naturalism', which basically means lots and lots of prose. At times, it was almost like listening to someone drone.

Howe also points out that Dreiser really exposed you to the inner machinations of the main character, the unforgettable Clyde Griffiths. It was almost claustrophobic, how close I got to Clyde.

Howe states that a theme in the novel was the tragedy of trying to break free from one's social strata. Clyde is a poor boy/man, due to his upbringing as a child of poor wandering missionary parents. Clyde is exposed to riches when he works at a hotel as a bell boy. Clyde craves the good life 'insanely', but he cannot obtain this life because doesn't have the education or the fortitude. Through fortune, he obtains a position in his rich uncle's factory, and his troubles start. He sees the good life of his uncle, and cousins, and he starts reaching for it, by obtaining the favors of a rich woman. Unfortunately, his earlier relations with a factory girl causes a conflict in his pursuit of this rich woman, and the novel descends into the consequences of Clyde's 'solution' to this conflict.

A harrowing book. Would I recommend it? Yes. But give yourself time.

Friday, May 18, 2001
Today I visited the Robbins Public Library. I hadn't been in a public library in many months, and drifting in and out of the stacks of books was fairly intoxicating. I was searching for a back issue of GQ magazine.

In the current issue of GQ, the Letters to the Editor praised an article in the February 2001 issue by Guy Lawson. He apparently wrote a first-person account about skating a shift (or a period) with the New York Rangers. I'm always on the lookout for good sports articles, so I was excited to try to find this issue in the library. Sadly, my library does not carry GQ. Unbelieveable!

Of course, I tried to find the article on-line, but I was unable. My wife, a librarian, accessed some special searching tools, but was unable to obtain it. I did find an old Lawson article on junior hockey, which I haven't read yet.

Looks like I may need to visit the Boston Public Library.

Tuesday, May 15, 2001
I wore jeans, a casual shirt, and my Fatbrain black twill cap to a career fair by BrassRing (Burlington Marriott, MA). I also brought my daughter, Mia, in a stroller.

Again, plenty of people, but this time there was good elbow room. Someone remarked about my baby "I guess you have to get them started early during this economic downturn." Yes, indeed. I wish I had prepared a resume for little Mia.

I ought to take these fairs a little more seriously. Plenty others in the auditorium did: suits, leather binders containing their resumes, nice shoes. Forgive me for the belief that clothes rarely make the man. I acknowledge that they do offer a first impression, but I think by being so informal, I'm the one making the impression. I suppose it doesn't hurt that I was the only one walking around with an infant.

Monday, May 14, 2001
Yesterday, the Sunday NY Times was delivered in its usual blue plastic bag, but enclosed were two copies of Saturday's newspaper! The rest of the Sunday paper (leisure, magazine, book review) arrived, but the main Sunday sections did not.

Miffed, I scanned headlines at the main NY Times website, but it was fairly unsatisfactory. I missed flipping through the broad pages, and smelling the paper and ink.

I was about to call to complain, but later that morning, the delivery service reappeared on my block, and gave us a new Sunday paper, complete with the missing sections. Jenn figured that enough people must have called to complain. It made for a good Sunday.

Quick note: I didn't drink that beer yet. Maybe tonight, as I just interviewed with a second company, and things look promising.