Chuck Thompson
Chuck Thompson

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So far kate@outboxonline.com has created 44 blog entries.

Seattle Mariner Announcers Dave Sims and Mike Blowers: Classic Commentary

Been sending notes back and forth with Shanghai Bob and a few other friends about the unintentionally funny/bad ways baseball announcers fill time between pitches. Caught an all-time classic exchange last night between bored (and usually very good) Mariner TV play-by-play guy Dave Sims in full-on Bob Uecker “Juuuust a little outside” mode and the world’s most colorless color guy, Mike Blowers, whilst both struggled through another tepid Mariner performance. Read more...

Tracking HBO’s “The Pacific” Part II

And the show turns out to be ... pretty lousy. Like most people I know, I stopped paying attention right around episode four.The biggest problem, I think, is that in buying into the fashionable rehabilitation of the Imperial Japanese soldier as hapless victim of forces larger than himself (I think the Clint Eastwood WWII movies started this fiction), and by focusing almost solely on grunts in obscure jungle and island Read more...

Tracking HBO’s “The Pacific”

Eight years ago, doing research for a book called The 25 Best World War II Sites: Pacific Theater, I relied on the works of a pair of U.S. Marine veterans named Robert Leckie and E.B. Sledge to guide me through some of the most horrific battlefields of the war—Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Okinawa. It’s been particularly fascinating and slightly surreal to watch as the HBO series The Pacific has tracked the same Read more...

To Hellholes and Back Playlist

I recently put together a TO HELLHOLES AND BACK playlist for Largeheartedboy.com, a great site that, among other things, asks writers to set their books to music. The following playlist is suitable for any occasion, but particularly applicable for a book about confronting traveler paranoia and places with crappy reputations. Introduction: The Four Horsemen of My Apocalypse“Are You Man Enough” — The Four Tops I never tire of this song Read more...

To Hellholes and Back: the funniest joke in Africa

The first chapter of “To Hellholes and Back” introduces a running theme of the book’s Africa section — my month-long effort there to uncover the funniest joke in Africa. Reader Chuck Hafter has submitted a better Congo joke than I was able to uncover. Told to him in the 1980s by a friend from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Hafter’s joke nevertheless remains painfully accurate, as I Read more...

Smile character updates

In response to occasional queries regarding the whereabouts and well-being of several of the more notable figures who traipse through the pages of Smile When You’re Lying — and to confirm to at least two e-mailers that, yes, these people do in fact exist — the last days of this Smile-flavored website feel like the time to offer a quick update. (In a month or two this site should undergo Read more...

4 subversive opinions on eve of 2009 NBA Finals

SteroidsStrange that no one talks about steroids in the NBA. Personally, I don’t see how you can’t speculate. Compare players with those of ten or fifteen years ago. Forget Dwight Howard’s twin pythons. Even today’s bench scrubs look ready to strap on for the Lorry Pull or haul the Atlas Stones at a WSM comp.It’s not just the bodies. The hyper-aggressive play, barely controlled wrestling matches that pass for post Read more...

To Hellholes and Back

A quick note to confirm that the recent sluggish pace of postings here does not indicate an inactive site. Mostly the lack of scintillating new copy is a matter of being consumed with finishing up work on a new book. To Hellholes and Back: Bribes, Lies and the Art of Extreme Tourism will be published by Henry Holt in December 2009. Inspired by the latest media drumbeats of Mexi-paranoia, the Read more...

Last Hours of George Bush

I’ve been looking for an appropriate opportunity to post an email I received over a year ago and today seems like it. In a few hours Barack Obama will be sworn in as president; George Bush becomes history. Surely to be remembered for a multitude of sins and failures, it seems plain that the Iraq War will remain at the center of Bush’s legacy.The following email, which deals only peripherally Read more...

Drag

With the smoking ban in Oregon set to take effect in less than a week, I figure I might as well post one last shot across the bow of the USS Pussification. The following essay appeared in extremely shortened form in Esquire last summer, and in a length closer to this one in last November’s issue of Portland Monthly magazine.DRAGI don’t smoke. Never have. Never will. In addition to the Read more...

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