Tuesday Ramblings

Well, I was going to write something last night because I’m trying to get back into the habit but I got pissed off because I kept trying to link to a song on youtube and for whatever reason the interface will not do it. For those of you that don’t use WordPress on a regular basis, the most consistent way to post something(meaning it won’t get lost or not post) is to go into the dashboard even though they put a nice little button called “New Post” up at the top of your blog presumably for quick posts of text, pics, videos, etc. The problem is that this nice little button, at least when trying to post videos for me, often doesn’t work, and then you’ve wasted your time and anything you’ve written about the video b/c it’s just gone. Either you’ll get done pasting in the url, fetching the video, and writing whatever you want to accompany it, and the publish button will be greyed out, or you’ll hit the publish button and nothing will happen. It’s quite annoying because it’s really by far the fastest and easiest way to post a video…when it works.

Anyway, enough bitching about that. It’s cold as hell here now. I’ve actually been looking forward to cooler weather and kind of like the winter, let alone fall, but when it’s cloudy, windy, AND cold it kinda sucks. It was supposed to snow here tonight but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. I’m still kinda like a kid when it comes to snow. I’ve lived in parts of the country in the past where it snowed all the time but having lived in Atlanta for the most important years of my life, I’m used to maybe a slight chance of snow once or twice a year.

And I still get excited for some reason. I actually like that since I’m further north and in the mountains it snows a bit more, or at least it did two years ago, last winter was really mild. It’s a lot more fun to look at the scenery covered with snow around here than the city, and I have a 4wd vehicle so I actually enjoy driving in it a bit. There’s not that many other people out and the ones that are aren’t dumbasses like in the city so it’s a lot safer. I find it fun other than the one time I drove back up here from Atlanta the day after xmas a few years ago during a bad snow storm where I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to my house.

But, doesn’t look like there’s gonna be any snow tonight…too bad really. After a few years of working from home so not really getting out of anything if there WAS snow, I have class tomorrow night so I wouldn’t mind a bit to snow to get out of it.

That brings me to another sad subject: being too old to give a crap about Halloween and not having any kids to get excited for them about it. We discussed in class about how we had it Halloween night and the younger people were all butthurt about it and I truly didn’t care..lol. Damn it made me feel old. I used to at least have a friend that up until 4 years or so had a Halloween party every year, but he moved to another city. So now I’m not planning on doing anything special on Halloween, though I haven’t decided if I might just skip this class for the first time because I’m sure half the people won’t be there.

Anyway, I’m gonna go find something to do. Hope everyone has a decent Halloween.

Thoughts

So I haven’t written on here in awhile. I’ve meant to but just been too busy with school and work and life. Having to write papers for this English class I’m taking kinda takes the fun out of writing for fun, but I felt like writing tonight. This post is basically going to go into how I’m kind of an unfeeling prick, yet a wuss sometimes too, and how certain random things can really come out of nowhere and hit you hard.

So I have a bit of a situation with my grandmother, she’s in her 90s and is my one remaining grandparent. I only bring this up because it’s part of the context; I won’t go into it further because it always kinda brings up uncomfortable sympathy and offers of help and basically makes everyone feel kinda weird and I tend to keep stuff like this private.

But anyhow, despite the fact that I have anxiety disorder and get down at times, I’m kinda one of those stoic type of guys. I can certainly get hurt and feel like shit sometimes but I very rarely cry or outwardly show emotion. I tend to keep things bottled up.  But the weirdest thing happened tonight: I was playing a game and had pandora on and lately my pandora station of choice has been a bit more mellow indie pop and bluegrass kinda thing. And this song comes on, it’s a female singer and is kinda chickish sounding but not that bad but I feel like I’ve heard it before, so I looked it up on youtube. It turns out it was played in the very last part of the finale of a show I didn’t really watch that much but happened to see the finale of: Six Feet Under.

This was a show that had 5 or 6 seasons on HBO and ended probably 4 or 5 years ago. I never really got into it because it was about a family that ran a funeral home and honestly was a bit too morbid for me, I don’t really like to think about that kinda stuff. But I watched it here and there and my mom and some other people had told me that the series finale was really good, so I watched it. Basically the last 10 minutes of it is one of the main characters driving off and interspersed with scenes of the futures of all of the characters, them getting married, kids, etc. But also every single one of them dying.

It’s pretty moving for a TV show, but it’s also pretty damn intense. Some of the characters die suddenly, some of very old age, they all usually see dead loved ones from their past…I don’t know. I just really affected me to be watching it tonight. I actually found myself crying for the first time in probably 5 years or more. A lot of it shouldn’t be sad because some of the characters live to be into their 90s but it just made me think about mortality, my own and that of others, in a strangely more intense way than I normally ever do. Part of it is probably what I alluded to earlier, but it’s just depressing as fuck to think that no matter what you do with your life you’re gonna die someday, often before you think you should.

Anyway, if you’ve never seen the clip it might be worth a watch because like I said it’s intense, so I’ll throw it on here I guess. I think I need to watch some comedy now or something.

You have to skip to about the 3 min mark to get to the start of the part I’m talking about.

The Modern Days Sports Fan

Ugh, so I’m going to talk about something that most people probably don’t give a shit about but that bothers me: sports fans and the internet. I’m a pretty big sports fan as has previously been described, especially when it comes to football. I have blogs and sites that I go to every day to read about my teams. I have in the past posted on forums and messageboards. That of course has a bad reputation and there are many bad to literally insane messageboard/forums/blogs out there for any team in any sport you can think of. But there’s also some good ones where you can have a back and forth with intelligent fans of your team.

And unlike pre-internet days, it really can help you vent your disappointments and celebrate your victories with people of like mind. As I pointed out in my college football orphan post, I’m a fan of a team(UGA) who doesn’t have that many friends who are also fans of that team, so many time a blog or messageboard is the only chance I have to vent or talk about said team. One that I’ve been going to for years is “Get The Picture” http://blutarsky.wordpress.com/, one of the few sites I have in my links. It’s run by a guy that I used to post with on an old now defunct UGA forum years ago.

Being a blog and not a messageboard, and being run by a levelheaded guy, it doesn’t get nearly as crazy as a lot of places do after a loss or whatever. But reading the comments section on there still gives you a microcosm of the world of internet sports fandom at large. Which is to say that it reminds me a lot of partisan politics. You have people that live and die by their belief in one issue or another and anyone that disagrees is not a “real fan” or a bad person or whatever.

To bring it back to UGA, blind homers and people that think everything is great and you should never question any coach or player are called “Disney Dawgs”. I’m not sure what the name is for those that bring up negative things, but inevitably they are accused of trying to stir things up, not being “real fans”, or only showing up after losses to bitch, among other things. Now that’s not to said that the people who are negative don’t make fun of the “Disney Dawgs” either, they certainly do.

Then you have people like me, those in the middle, those that don’t think that the UGA coaching staff can do no wrong but also don’t expect them to be fired tomorrow morning. The problem is that like with politics, it’s getting more and more impossible to stay in the middle anymore. If you say something that one side disagrees with, you’re vilified by that side, you’re not a “real fan” etc.

I find it discouraging both that being a sports fan can be like following politics and that even though the internet can bring people together with similar ideas from all over, it also lacks the civility that you would use when dealing with someone with an opposite view in real life. I’m sure there’s probably political messageboards and blogs out and there I truly shudder to think how bad they must get.

Just take a fucking step back people: whether it’s sports, politics, music, art…whatever, just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them a bad person, fan, someone with bad taste, etc. Stop tying your own personal opinions into your self worth so much that you actually get angry because someone dares not share the same opinion as you all the time. I’m certainly as guilty as any at getting into arguments with people over dumb shit, but just try to have some civility even if it is just the internet.

Weekend Ramblings

Was going to post more this weekend but 2 of my 3 sports teams pissed the bed so I wasn’t much in a writing mood. I used to be a huge Braves fan when I was younger but find baseball more and more boring as the years go by, but I decided I’d watch the one game wild card playoff(a horrible idea) they were playing in Friday night. Of course them being the Braves they lost. Not a huge deal since I’m not as big a fan these days but still annoyed that I invested the time and attention into something so fruitless and ultimately discouraging.

Then I watched college football all day Saturday leading up to the top 10 matchup at 7 of my team(UGA) and South Carolina in Columbia. As it turned out, all the excitement and anticipation I had all week and all Saturday were basically taken away in about 20 minutes. The entire UGA team and coaching staff basically took a huge dump on the field. They were down 21 points before the first quarter was over, and really didn’t even put up a fight the rest of the game. An utter embarrassment and I’ll spare the readers on here much more talk of it. I’ve been venting on a UGA blog last night and today about it so I’m luckily mostly vented out.

I was afraid after the events of the last two days that my third major team that I root for, the Atlanta Falcons, would wet the bed too today but luckily they managed to win and are 5-0 on the season. They didn’t win handily so I had to sweat this one out too and I’m not sure what I would have done had they lost as well. Yes, I take sports too seriously, but for me the highs are higher than the lows are low, though last night’s UGA atrocity tested that theory greatly.

So outside of all that I basically did nothing productive this weekend, I’ve got tons of reading and work and errands to do this week but hey, that’s life. I’m trying to get back into the habit of writing on here but it’s for some reason just not as easy as it was when I first started. I guess I had such a huge backlog of shit to get off my mind at first that it all came out in a flood. I still enjoy writing on here, I just haven’t had as many topic ideas lately and unless something interesting is going on, I don’t want to do the Rambling thing too often and bore people with how mundane my life really is. Being busy doesn’t help either.

Anyway, hope everyone has had a good weekend and I’ll post something tomorrow. Thanks for reading as always.

1000 views

So I’ve obviously been half assing it on putting out new content lately…just a bad couple of weeks as previously stated, but I logged on tonight to post something about how I got suckered into baseball and the Braves again and how Lucy pulled the football away yet again. Then I checked the stats even though I figured they’d be about nil and saw that I was sitting right at 1000 views all time, which is kinda cool, even if the views have tailed off in direct relation to how much and how often I’ve written.

Of course I realize there’s plenty of folks with blogs that get 1000s of views per day, but for a guy that doesn’t really focus on anything in particular, it’s still cool to hit 1000. Makes me want to refocus and starting trying to write every day again. So anyway, thanks to those that have read the blog in the past and those who continue to…I’ll try to hold up my end better than I have been lately.

Historical Fiction

So I’ve already admitted my fondness/weakness for post apocalyptic fiction in a previous post, but another weakness of mine is historical fiction. I think it gets a bit of a short shrift because while there’s some amazing writers and books in the genre, there’s also a lot of lackluster ones. I’d imagine most “literary” critics and literary snobs probably look down on the genre, which I think is a bit unfair. For instance, some “classics” such as War and Peace and A Tale of Two Cities, both of which I’ve read, are basically historical fiction and I’m sure there’s plenty of others that I’m missing.

My point is, while there’s probably plenty of drivel in the historical fiction genre, and while genres as a whole are looked down upon often, there’s some amazing books and writers in it. I would probably say that a few of my favorite books and some of the most moving I’ve read are historical fiction. Now I will admit that I have a bias towards this genre having been a history major in college and still read a lot of non fiction history books on a regular basis. But a good historical fiction book can sometimes do a better job of making you feel how things really were than a dry textbook could ever hope to. Not to mention that some people that couldn’t care less about history might be drawn to research a particular period that they’ve read about in a good historical fiction book.

So anyway, having written my defense and praise of the genre, I’d like to mention a few that to me are simply amazing and that I highly recommend even if you don’t like history at all. Rather than just listing some and giving a brief synopsis like I did with the post apocalyptic stuff, I feel the need to give some of these books a bit more time and space, so this will probably be a recurring series rather than just a list. I will warn you, most of these books are on the long side, which to me is a plus: if a book is good, I don’t want it to end. I’ve read most in print and also own many of then in audio form and a lot of the audio versions are over 40 hours long.

When I thought about writing this, the first book that came to mind for me was Shōgun by James Clavell. It was first published in 1975 so if you’re my age or younger you may have never heard of it, but at the time it was a huge bestseller. They even made a primetime miniseries of it in the 80s that was successful and according to Wikipedia it had sold 15 million copies worldwide by 1990.

Anyhow, this book is based on the feudal age of Japan. If you don’t know much about Japanese history, it was basically not that different from feudal Europe. There was originally an Emperor who was supposed to be divine and descended from the Gods, but after a time the emperor became more of a figurehead as powerful lords called daimyos, basically the same as powerful lords in Europe, took over lands, built up armies of retainers(samurai), built castles, and basically ruled their own parts of the country. Every now and then one of the more powerful lords would have the strength or prowess in battle to subdue the other ones and have himself declared Shogun by the emperor, meaning he ruled the country supposedly in place of the powerless emperor.

At the beginning of the book though, there is a different situation: in the preceding years a peasant general had been so great in battle and strongwilled that he had either beaten or won over all of the powerful lords. He couldn’t proclaim himself Shogun because he was originally a peasant and only those of the samurai class could be Shogun, so he basically created a title for himself, Taiko, and ruled the country. Unfortunately for him, he died with a young heir and while the great lords all claimed that they would rule the country together until his heir came of age, anyone that has studied history could see how that would work out.

Anyway, the book starts in 1600 amid this turmoil and is told from the point of view of an English navigator on a Dutch ship that is wrecked in a storm. He’s actually called a pilot and his name is Blackthorne. He’s washed up with some of the crew on the lands of a vassal of one of the most powerful daimyos named Toranaga. The Japanese can’t speak his name in their language so for the rest of the book he is known as Anjin, pilot in Japanese. This shipwreck isn’t a great thing for him or his crew because at this point only the Spanish and Portuguese are allowed to trade in Japan and them both being Catholic countries they hate the English and Dutch for being protestants and also don’t want any other countries to hone in on their monopoly.

Blackthorne and his men are also looked upon as smelly barbarians by the local japanese villagers and the minor lord whose land they washed up on. Things aren’t looking good between the Catholics calling for them to be burned and the local lord thinking they are barbarians, but after a bit, word travels up the feudal ladder to Toranaga who is the ultimate overlord of the area, and also the one person that the other lords suspect might try to seize power in the vacuum. Blackthorne/Anjin knows about navigation, knows how to build ships, and there are cannon and guns recovered from the wreck of his ship, so he might be useful to Toranaga.

And that’s basically where the story really starts. It’s semi based on the real historical Shogun Tokugawa and is frankly amazing in how well it presents the Japanese psyche and way of life at this time. There’s treachery, love, revenge, death, battles, and some simply moving scenes, a few that actually can still bring tears to my eyes. Honestly, it’s one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read in how it truly brings to life a past time and way of life, and like I said it has plenty of action and intrigue.

I recommend the audio version as it’s quite well done but it might be a bit pricey. I’m sure there are cheap used paperback copies on Amazon to be found so if this sounds at all interesting to you, I suggest you find some way to get it. It’s probably in my top five books I’ve ever read, and that says a lot as I’ve read probably thousands of books by this point in my life.

Anyway, that’s enough for today’s historical fiction rec…there’s a few other really good ones that I’ll probably suggest in the future and feel free to let me know if there’s any I miss or if you like or dislike my selections.