Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Non-fic Mash-up - This I Accomplish: Death to the BCS

Holy damn, how I wish!

But anyway... besides their beautiful mash-up results, these are a couple of books worth reading.

Title: This I Accomplish: Harriet Powers' Bible Quilt and Other Pieces
Author: Kyra E. Hicks
Publisher: Black Threads Press (2009)

I've already passed this book along to my mother, a quilter (a quilter who lost her copy before she got a chance to read it, I assume its snuggled down under one of her beautiful quilts), so apologies if I mix up my memories. Hicks started this project with the intention of creating a comprehensive bibliography of sources regarding Harriet Powers and ended up finding so many exciting new details regarding the life of this famous quilter that she decided to include everything she found along with her bibliography. She also brings new information to light about who owned Harriet Powers' quilts and when.

Harriet Powers (1837-1910), a former slave and native Georgian, amazes quilters and art admirers to this day with her beautiful quilts. Hicks brings to life the journey of these quilts, from creation to display, in an enthusiastic manner but, even better, she gives readers a more in-depth glimpse of an enduring figure in American history. Her findings make it possible to know more about the woman Harriet Powers was and, I think, illuminate her personality in a way that wasn't possible before Hicks' research.

Hicks does a great job of sharing her sources with readers (including pictures and reproductions of letters) which is a must for me to really enjoy this type of non-fiction. In the midst of all her research, though, it's impossible to lose track of how much she loves what she's doing. This is not a dry listing of her research but a re-telling of Hicks' journey that is teeming with the joy she obviously found in learning more about Harriet Powers. This definitely gets a recommendation from me!

Title: Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series
Author: Dan Wetzel, Josh Peter, Jeff Passan
Publisher: Gotham (2010) 

You know, I don't even care much for basketball but this time of year I salivate over the excitement that is a tournament with a champion decided on the court! And do you know why? Because my greatest sports passion is college football and if a sport exists with a more fucked up way of determining a champion I'll eat my (LSU Tigers) hat! I don't think I'll be gnawing on canvas anytime soon though because nothing, I repeat NOTHING, is more infuriating than post-season college football.

And if you think you know everything there is to know about this messed up system then think again! I thought I had a pretty good handle on the boondoggle that is the Bowls, but holy buckets of stupid it's so much worse than I thought. Still, even after seeing how much money schools lose by going to bowls (yes, you read that right: LOSE!), how badly managed the bowls are, how little they do for local economies, how bad the match-ups are, and how much control TV has over our post-season, none of it was as bad as the institutional support and upholding of a system that is wholly unfair! In the end, all the fiscal arguments are moot when you think about the fact that this is a sport that's not even sporting! Gah! Gah! Spitting mad, here I come!

If you've never given a thought to college football then you probably aren't going to be that interested in this book. But, if you've ever been affected by University budget cuts then you just might be interested in the tax returns for Bowls and the money your University is probably bleeding out to the Bowls. Skip the sports stuff if you want but if the money stuff doesn't open your eyes to a problem that is bigger than the sport then I'd be very surprised.

A couple things that I didn't like about this one is that sources weren't included and the writing was uneven. I know a lot of conversations the authors had were confidential but a lot of the info wasn't and I would have liked a list (at the minimum) of source material by chapter in the back of the book. My theory on the writing was that it had to do with having three authors but maybe it was just my response to the general style. Anyway, this one is worth investing some time in.

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