Monday, January 31, 2011

The Rep I've Kept

Every once in a while, someone says something which sheds light on the reputation that I possess. I'm always grateful for this, because no amount of deliberately wheedling, begging and interrogating can extract any such information from even my best friends. They seem to think it's weird that I'd want to know what I'm like from their point of view, or at least they don't know how to answer when they are thinking about it. In any case, there was a couple of weeks ago a nugget that I came upon in casual conversation, and it was very suggestive of what my areas of expertise are in the eyes of my peers.

A particular movie came up: 'Cannonball Run'. I mentioned at hearing the name that I hadn't seen it. This is less unusual than it might have been if we were talking in 1985. In the year 2011, a relatively slender segment of the population has seen that film, featuring though it does the once highly esteemed Burt Reynolds and a host of likewise erstwhile stars. Even so, utterance of the fact that I personally had not seen it met with great surprise. This was very revealing, and I was reminded that I apparently have a much broader range of film viewing under my belt than most people I know. I say this not because I conclusively know it, but only by such evidence as I have just related.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Great For Freight

For the first time since I finished college, I live in a building with an elevator. Those college dwellings were ambitious ones indeed. The first was 25 stories, and I was on a floor somewhere in the middle- my memory isn't what it was, but I believe I may have been on the fifteenth floor. Obviously I was high up enough to justify the regular use of that building's elevator. It was kind of neat, although much of the novelty was gone as I found how difficult it often was to use when demand for space exceeded supply. It was quick so long as one could get on though, and as it initially had mirrored walls, I found it a useful last chance to see how I looked before it was too late.

The second building I lived in during college was of basically equivalent size, so the elevator was the de rigueur means for getting up and down. The stairs were unthinkable except in case of fire or getting from the ground floor to the communal floor immediately above. As I think I may have said, this building is a mere three stories, and while I do live on the uppermost floor, the value of the elevator is dubious. It exists probably only because the law demands it. The edifice is probably just enough to trigger regulations that compel such things as an elevator, but the practicality of using it is limited.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

World Street

I happened to be dropping off a piece of mail in my building's lobby when I chanced to glance out the front, which is mostly glass. Since I can easily go many days without leaving my apartment, I seized the opportunity to be able to say that I had gone outside today no matter how things transpired. Once I stood outside, I decided to go a little further and make a complete circuit of the street I live on, or at least the single block of it. It was an edifying experience.

I started thinking about the multiple concentric shapes that constitute one's home at different levels. I say 'shapes' because they really aren't circles, but irregular shapes. At one end is one's own bed and at the other the universe itself. In between there are many 'homes', but one in particular interests me at the moment, and that as I said is the street my building is on. It only took a few minutes to walk the entire thing around, but it's astonishing how much there is in it. At one end is the busy main road, populated by various businesses. The small burger restaurant with only outdoor seating is most prominent from my perspective. On this particular day it was closed for no reason I could discern. Opposite that is an alley that goes on for some blocks and ends at the next major intersecting road.

Friday, January 28, 2011

That Game

I like games well enough. I may not be extremely competitive outside of not ever wanting to be wrong, but I like playing games reasonably well most of the time if I know how to play them. Boardgames are pretty fun, although there are too few opportunities to play. I got out of video games some time ago, not finding the financial outlay necessary to be in line with the amount of time and energy I had the desire to put in. I like card games in principle, but favor some more than others. I like blackjack, and would like it more if I could count cards (that applies to most card games). I very much like hearts, which I learned to play in Boy Scouts. I don't care for poker.

Tragic it is therefore that the sole game of cards I have the opportunity to play is Texas Hold 'Em. The game of poker and all its permutations is a total mystery to me. I have little interest in the psychological gamesmanship of the betting phases, and I cannot say what constitutes what hand. I have a vague understanding of where some of the hands are in relation to each other as far as strength is concerned, but would be flying blind in a game. The fact that I do not know how to play and consequently am not very good undoubtedly has a great deal to do with how I like the game, but whether I would like it anyway I can't say.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Incident

I was terribly distraught a couple of weeks ago. I had just bought a pair of Poinsettias at the '99 Cents Only' store, and immediately began deeply investing in them emotionally. I was full of thoughts about how best to care for them. I wondered what to call them, and took some time to decide on that. I pondered where to keep them and settled on the ledge of our balcony. I watered them, and watched the first time as the water dripped down past the second story and first story balconies, both of which belong to friends. Little did I know what was to follow that water in the same fashion. I'm afraid I must call the plants Sid and Nancy, for they leapt from their place days later in an obvious attempt at self-destruction.

One, which I figure should be Nancy, landed top first, and was by far the worse of the two for their tumble. It was quite a grisly sight. The plastic pot was severely cracked and the soil was spilling a lot. Her main stalk was irreparably severed, and it was uncanny how she had already begun to wilt and dry up. It was as if her will to live was entirely gone regardless of how fatal her injuries were to prove. Resisting the urge to cry, I solemnly brought her inside and gingerly placed her in the trashcan. She may have only cost some fifty cents as part of a two-for-one deal, but she was worth far more to me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meat Market

I have a hard enough time doing my grocery shopping. I don't enjoy it in the least, and am always desperate to get out of there so that I can do something else. I don't have the easiest time making decisions, so I spend forever in there, and that's when all I'm doing is scrutinizing the merits and prices of food. Now, I'm used to shopping in ordinary grocery stores where all the people are either outrightly unappealing or at best generally non-descript. That's what the stores back home were like, and that's what they were like in both Chicago and each neighborhood I've lived in here so far. Even the place just a couple of miles away was like that.

Here is different. This is genuinely a cool neighborhood. There's no end of neat stuff. The streets are alive and the business enterprises smack of vitality. I've said that this neighborhood is better than Hollywood, because it has the cool people but not the crazy people. That carries over to the grocery store. Evidently no matter how awesome you are, you still have to not just eat but shop for yourself. I always was fascinated by the DMV because I figured everyone has to go eventually, including the rich, famous and cool. Such people would not have to go to the grocery store, right? I guess I was wrong about that.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fall Behind And Get Left Behind

One major failing of mine has got to be keeping up on ongoing contemporary pop culture concerns. I happen to be a big fan of old stuff and have a problem with keeping to routines, and those two things make it very hard for me to stay up to date on such things as tv shows. There was a time when this mattered very little. Nearly every tv show consisted of one stand-alone episode after another, with everything going back to normal by the start of the next one, no matter what had happened. Nothing permanent transpired unless an actor left the show or the producers got scared they might be canceled. It didn't matter if you missed episodes or watched them out of order.

With serialized tv shows becoming the rule, it matters now, and I'm constantly in a precarious position. For a time I had a dvr, and while I didn't have any of the premium channels, I was able to stay on top of what mattered. Either I was getting together with friends to watch the big premium shows or I was watching them on dvd before too much time had passed. The rest I was all over just as soon as they had recorded. I suffered some spoilers from people I didn't know, but did not have any real trouble with my friends.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Country, Right Or Wrong

There is a country and western bar in Burbank which friends of mine like to patronize from time to time. Actually, it used to be that all of this particular group of friends went there until a grievance formed with one, and now he won't be caught dead there. I guess that life's too short to go to bars which make you mad.  In any event, that person's attendance being out of the question on one particular night, we returned. It was our second bar of the night, but we had just been bolstered by the arrival of another friend (who had not yet been known to me personally).

This bar had live music, and the dance floor was happening. Rather, I should say that it was as happening as such an aged collection of dancers could make it. The place looked like a retirement home in El Paso. I also noticed that there was some apparent difference of opinion as to what the dancing should be like. No group of more than three or so was on the same page. The largest group was attemping some out-of-sync line dancing. Others were engaged in two person dances of a non-descript nature. I myself was content with tapping my toe and bobbing my head when a good enough song came on, which was more often when the band finished and we turned to the jukebox. I picked songs by Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. A friend picked 'Whip My Hair' by Willow Smith.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Adopting A New Thing

I have recently acquired a laptop. This very post was written on it. I never have had one of my own, and having observed others using theirs all these years has left me none the wiser as to just how one makes the most of the thing. I have succeeded in squeezing all the functionality out of every cellphone I ever had, doing things with some that predated mainstream adoption with the advent of the smartphone. The laptop is something else though. I'm trying to not just really get the benefits of having a portable computer but to avoid the social pitfalls of same.

When does one use a laptop and not the phone? When does one eschew both and just be a human being the way we used to? I'm still trying to work that stuff out. It's probably unwise to have the laptop with you everywhere, so a judgment must be made on the likelihood of it proving both useful and not awkward. I'm accustomed to bringing everything and the kitchen sink just in case, but that's really not a workable strategy with something like this. As I don't presently drive, everything must be born on my back, so to speak. If I take the laptop with me, it must always be on my person. In a bad situation, it could be stolen or damaged. Bad situations must be avoided.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What Kind Of Show Is This?

It seems to me that there are three types of performances. I have had occasion to think about this because I have performed quite a bit by my standards in the last year, and have been involved in all three types. Each one has its unique qualities, and I don't quite know what could be the best among them. Now, there is of course the performance that you plan on giving. You want to do it and anticipate doing it, then you do it as you intended. I don't mean that this is a scripted thing as opposed to improv, as it easily could be that. I just mean that it's a predicted thing. That being the case, there is no good cause to believe that anything unusually surprising will happen.

There is also that fairly well-known thing, the command performance. Someone who wields power over you demands that you perform. It may be a malevolent type of power, such as a man with a gun firing at your feet and ordering you to dance, or it might be a softer, more pleasant type of power, such as that of an attractive woman using her wiles on you. In either case, one is left doing things they perhaps would rather not, so as to avoid a worse fate. It's better to suffer a loss of dignity singing a treacly pop standard than to get slapped, am I correct?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Old Man On The Kitchen Counter

I made an interesting discovery at about the same time as my birthday, which I recounted yesterday. It concerns my microwave, which I guess I never really looked at all that closely. I knew it was old because it had been made by Montgomery Ward. Cursory research indicates that store went out of business some nine years ago and exists today as an online store after being revived by some junk mail company. I certainly knew the microwave was old, but did not realize how old. The information plate on the back educated me. Interesting it was to discover that it was just eleven months younger than I myself.

That hit me like bad news indeed given its condition. It is not in good shape. It takes twice as long to cook anything in it as it is supposed to. The door is very creaking, and makes this horrible sound when I open it all of the way. The unit is very large, heavy and cumbersome. It certainly takes up far too much space on that counter. Those things are inconveniences to be sure, but one can live with them, as one could with what is probably very poor energy efficiency. Probably intolerable is the radiation that I have to imagine it puts out.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dia De Natal

I had my birthday recently. It was not something I was looking forward to. I stopped enjoying birthdays once I finished college. I don't know exactly what about that triggered a change in my attitude, but it would seem that exiting academia and entering the 'real world' led to a greater appreciation for aging and my mortality. Some time ago, my anxiety stemming from the matter came to the fore during what remains one of the best improv scenes I've had. A man is worried about losing his significant other on account of his aging, but she allays his fears in the aftermath of his latest birthday party. It was a musical scene, and the song was 'Happy Birthday To Our Love'.

The party is the only thing that makes the occasion tolerable. This year, I was feeling a bit down as I had not planned a party for myself. Every birthday party of mine had either been planned by myself or my parents, who had not done so since some time during grade school. This time around, I kept thinking of putting together a party, getting stuck on logistics and postponing it. The same thing happened last year, but I finally slapped something together at the last minute and felt grateful that nearly everyone came. It was fun, although looking at pictures from that night I can't see any evidence of it on my face.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Paternal Botany

I wrote of pets yesterday in an unflattering light, so let me show another side. A desire that has largely gone unfulfilled since I have moved to Los Angeles is that of having a pet. My whole life I had one pet or another, and it was most satisfying to love them and care for them. There were great annoyances when they would misbehave and there was deep grief when they would expire, but it was a worthwhile thing in my experience. Unfortunately, the apartment building in which I now live does not permit pets. Now that I am fully responsible for my home, I don't know that I would want one anyway. What they do allow are plants, although I cannot have an "excessive" amount.

For some time I contemplated the idea of getting a plant, and seeing that reference to them in my new lease led me to cement the plan. Of course, with the holidays coming I decided to wait a little. The weather was bad and I would be leaving town for a while anyway. I like my roommates and have no good reason to doubt their ability to care for a plant, but there was no upside to getting one at that time and entrusting it to them. Either they would care for it poorly and kill it or care for it well and leave me coming in effectively as an interloper the plant didn't really know and not its true owner. Plants are really rather intuitive, I suspect.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Pet Peeve

The holiday season is well behind us, but one thing continues to rankle me. There is in such holidays as Christmas deep meaning for me. The reason for the season, as I've heard it put, is the birth of Christ, and we celebrate by following the example of the wise men and giving gifts to those we care about as well as being charitable towards our fellow men. Each holiday on the calendar has its own significance which rivals that of Christmas, and I take them seriously. Here's what bothers me: why do we go to the trouble of extending the holiday to our pets?

Every year, there I am reveling in the Yuletide spirit which I so appreciate. I've been to church and have taken the trouble to properly observe the occasion, so of course it's quite reasonable that I should both give and receive gifts as well as partake in a grand holiday meal with all the proper trappings. I'm eating it and feeling special until a holiday meal comes out for the dogs. They aren't Christian and don't know what the day is all about. They certainly have not given any of us gifts outside of a possible dead bird, which is something they can hardly be counted on to do every year. Yet it is so that they get a turkey dinner from Iams or whoever and receive gifts to boot!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Back Seat Rider

I have many occasions to travel by car in spite of not owning one- I just always sit in a passenger seat instead of the driver's seat. Providing that it's not a massive old van, one is left with three basic possibilities. There is what they call 'shotgun', after the old frontier precaution of having a man sitting by the driver ready with a shotgun to defend the wagon from whatever manner of hostile force. People call out 'Shotgun!" when they want to sit there, but never come through on that essential function. No one really means much of what they say anymore.

That seat is definitely in the greatest demand, but may or may not be the best one. For the tall or large passenger it probably is, although being alone in the back seat may afford the opportunity to stretch out. The front passenger seat also ensures that you are close enough to someone- the driver- for conversation. Should there be multiple people in the back seat it amounts to a wash in that regard unless there is a clear difference between the conversation in the front and that in the back. On a long trip some may be sleeping in back, and it's not much fun to be in close proximity to that. Also worth considering is the car's capacity for properly distributing both conditioned air and the sound from the stereo. Both are indisputably essential.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Open Sesame

A lot of things that people do seem useless. I understand why they do them, and I even do them myself. Even so, I can see the probably futile or even counterproductive results of them in the making. One thing that has cropped up quite a bit lately is that passive-aggressive epistle, the open letter. It's a singularly impotent gesture, isn't it? I could see the purpose of writing and disseminating one if the intended recipient were actually unreachable. I myself penned one because there seemed no way of actually tracking down the one with whom I would have corresponded, so it seems that there is some purpose to it if done correctly.

Too often however, I see open letters to people who are eminently reachable, and it strikes me that the grievance being aired (and a grievance is always the object of such letters) just might get resolved if the letter were actually sent to the person being addressed and not to one's friends on a social networking website. As it is, people who care for the letter writer wonder in exasperation at their thinking. I know I do in any case. It really is a shame, and I think that technology may be partly at fault for beginning the trend of of making functional the person unable to confront.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Whaddaya Trust?

I have bought into technology about as much as anyone, evidenced by this very blog. I'm quite enamored by the ways in which the internet, smartphones and the like have eased life by saving labor and offering solutions to long-festering problems. I've also been aware of technology's shortcomings. Apart from the deep questions about whether or not it's changing society for good or ill, there are other very practical reasons why one should keep a critical eye. I'm always surprised by the total credulousness in some people that enables major calamities.

I understand that the precious iPhone had a little software glitch. Now, that device has been revolutionary by all accounts, offering a bewildering array of incredible features which are often useful. I could see myself using one, and do have a similar phone. The iPhone glitch affected something I use on my own phone- the alarm. Some obscure error resulted in a specific type of alarm failing to go off for a couple of days early in this new year. People are quite angry, and rightfully so, but at entirely the wrong person if they fault the company. Are they not the one who put their faith in a phone which has an undisputed track record of glitches and minor failures? One sufferer of the glitch was resentful that the maker of the phone offered no warning so that she could set a backup alarm. I'd say that would have been a smart and reasonable measure in any case.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Years ago, I had what I would now term regrettable taste where facial hair is concerned. Many would say (and do say) that my taste now is as bad as ever in that area, but for the sake of argument we'll say they're mistaken. My opinion is what matters at the moment, and I have to say that I looked lousy wearing a beard. I just had this billy goat-looking thing on my chin which was just substantial enough to nearly get caught in the zipper of jackets. Looking back, I'm not really sure what I was thinking. I guess that the condition of being in my late teens and early 20s is explanation enough.

The trouble is that I have poor distribution of facial hair. There are two spots where it thrives- the upper lip and the chin. Outside of that it looks like an untended lawn, with overgrowth in some places and nothing at all in others. I don't like to let it go very far without shaving. I think that I look not terribly bad with stubble, conjuring up the image of a Hungry Joe of 'Catch-22'. I guess what that's saying is that with stubble I look like a demented, emaciated war veteran. When I look at that in writing, I feel compelled to retract my belief that I look good with stubble, especially since I dislike 'House' and others for purely that reason, but maybe I'm the exception.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Zapatas Rojas

I don't like negativity. I fear that in spite of that it comes through in my creative output anyway. Some is appropriate, but as they say, all things are best in moderation. Thus today I choose to write of something that I like. I never used to to think that people paid much attention to shoes, or at least to a man's shoes. When I was a boy, the new school year meant a new pair of basketball sneakers which were deliberately brought to the attention of others, but as an adult I do no such thing. I thought my footwear flew under the radar.

Evidently I was terribly wrong. For the last few years, I had been primarily wearing non-descript white sneakers. They never did draw any notice. By chance, just as my most recent pair was badly breaking down, I came into possession of a used pair of shoes. They were also sneakers, and they were unfortunately not quite my size. Luckily, while they were too long, they were just the right width. Laced tight, they fit like a dream. I'm a practical guy, and considered this good enough to wear them. I didn't imagine that they would be any more than adequate. I was wrong on that.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Aye, It's Missing

Over the holidays, something happened to me that never had before. I lost a contact lens. Now, I'd misplaced them for a while, but never failed to turn them up after a few minute's search. I was something like Daniel Boone in that regard. After the lens went missing, I was quite bent out of shape for a few minutes, finally calming down after I recovered some sense of perspective. That led, as it so often does, to my realization of the potential for a reasonable post on this blog.

I first wore glasses in the sixth grade, as I believe I've said before. I wore them continuously until about my second semester in college, when I tried contacts for the first time. They were not a success for me, suffering as I did some kind of blurriness with bright lights such as tv screens and traffic lights. I went back to the glasses until my final year of college, at which time I found them to be much more viable somehow. Either my eyes improved in some respect (unlikely) or contact technology improved. I recall easing into the wearing of them a little more day by day and fearing that they might fall out one night in Chicago while I was out seeing the remake of 'King Kong'.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


For a few months there, I was living at one place after another for short stretches of time, but each time it was long enough to almost get fully invested in the place. I guess we're supposed to call that 'couch-surfing', even though I was sleeping in my own bed in a bedroom each time. It wasn't too bad, although it wasn't ideal either. I'm happy to be in a stable place where I live now, and my family's home (where I was over the holidays) is still like that also even though my bedroom there disappeared a long time ago.

What's tough is sleeping any place where I will be for as little as a day or so and maybe just a bit more. It might as well be a house of eggshells I'm in considering how gingerly I walk for the time I'm in such a place. Even in the home of a good friend, I'm in a kind of paralysis. Oh, it's basically fine as long as that person is accessible, but they eventually will go to sleep with a few perfunctory advisements about the place. The fact remains that I don't know where almost anything is or how to work the things I can find. I try to just not touch anything if I can help it, as I certainly don't want to do any harm. Perhaps partly as a result, I tend to not sleep very well in such situations. I'll do anything to get back to my own bed if I can.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Do It Yourself!

Something quite despicable is happening, and it's all under the guise of empowering people. Perhaps that's the typical way of it. What it is has to do with media. I think it started as a case of necessity being the mother of invention, as did reality television, whose rise I trace to the emergence of 'COPS' during the late 80s writers' strike. There was no interest in buying such a show until the value of one which operated independent of writers became apparent. In a pinch, that program became a hit with an incredible profit margin and the rest was quite inevitable. Consumer-driven content for media outlets was probably likewise inevitable.

Those running the outlets probably never dreamed that anyone but trained, experienced professionals would be fit to do things like contribute film reviews or footage of news events. They weren't qualified, they didn't possess the necessary equipment, and who would ever work for free? It was a dream too ridiculous to entertain. Certain factors made it less ridiculous. When certain media began to struggle and cheaper content became very appealing, I suppose they were quick to dispense with antiquated notions of professional pride. The proliferation of good consumer technology such as camera phones made it practical. Now we have Joe Schmoe's video footage of a mudslide and his review of the latest Indiana Jones movie. The tv station runs the former and the paper runs the latter, both at no greater cost than attribution to Joe Schmoe, who is a sucker.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hometown Paper

I was recently, as I have noted, back home with my family for the holidays. I lately touched on my interest in the obituaries, but don't take me to be a purely morbid person. That section is just one of many which hold my interest. The paper that I see at that time is the preeminent one in the state of Arizona, the 'Republic'. My mother worked there at one time, and it was a vibrant, indispensable staple of the community. It's hardly at its high water mark now, but remains viable at least for local coverage if one properly accounts for editorial bias of the sort which affects all papers run by humans.

They don't write their own national or international stories if anyone else has written ones which may be licensed. Generally those sections are taken up largely by wire service articles, which are serviceable but do not cause civic-minded locals to swell up with pride at the achievements of their journalistic institutions. The in-house writing is adequate, being most evident in the probably more profitable sections of the paper. The locals news section is an example of this, as is the sports section. If they didn't write about the local teams, who would? The national media takes little interest.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Old Acquaintances

I went home to Arizona for the holidays. Naturally the purpose was to be with my family, and I spent the bulk of the time with them, but I do my best to see friends when the opportunity presents itself. Regrettably, my friends from the Phoenix area have long ago scattered, and few remain in the area on a year-round basis. I do my best to see them. As for the rest, I just have to hope that they are coming home for the holiday and will be in town when I am.

It's a remarkable experience to see old friends after a while. An ordinary 'Hello' is inadequate, and a handshake or hug of normal strength doesn't seem to fit the bill either. When you're that glad to see someone, you have to just about kill them showing it. You have to be downright abusive verbally, or at least it is often like that with me. In a joking tone, the most vicious and disparaging things are said. I guess that's what may be meant by 'killing with kindness'. We're a peculiar type, my friends and I. Naturally we have deep affection, but this very odd way of showing it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Options For One

Something that's pretty good about dogs (and other living beings which are entirely dependent on you) is that you do not have to be terribly deferential when it comes to what food you buy and serve them. The dog may start out particular, but sooner or later it will compromise its high standards and eat the cheap dry food if that's what you buy. I don't believe it matters whether you show a track record of caving if it resists. Any time you choose to take a stand, that dog is eventually going to relent. Lest it seem that I'm cruel, let me get to the point: I treat myself something like a pet dog when it comes to food.

I buy just what I need to eat for at least a week, and ideally longer. I don't buy anything extravagant, and I don't buy superfluous food for the sake of variety, which is a luxury. Options would be nice, but even if I were very eager to spend more on food, I would still not be prepared to spend more time in the grocery store. I get to the point where I just have to escape, and I make some rash choices so that I can do that. As a consequence, whereas other people might have a choice of fish or spaghetti for dinner, my choices are limited to eat or don't eat. Actually, that's not strictly true. I can eat what I have for dinner, I can poach food meant for breakfast or dinner, or I can go out to eat. I can't do the last of those too much, I try not to do the second, and most of the time I do manage to do the first.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Let's Watch!

I can hardly stand to watch sports alone anymore. I sometimes can if I have an overwhelming interest in a game for one reason or another. It's not enough for it to be any kind of championship game. I can watch if I have some kind of fantasy sports interest, or if my favorite college team is involved. Otherwise it's tough. I get distracted and bored. It has given me reason to contemplate the specific qualities of certain types of people with whom I might and have watched games. It can affect things about as much as having someone or not.

A generally disinterested or uneducated party is about worse than no one. It's exhausting explaining things. I think I'm not a very good teacher. It can be amusing sometimes, but is otherwise too much for me. It's best if those with whom I watch a game are reasonably knowledgeable, but of course I don't mined if they're no more so than I am. No one likes to get corrected on a fact or point of game tactics and strategy, or maybe that's just me (and I'm the point, aren't I?).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Life Story Told

There is something about which I have been upset for some time. It seems in my mind to be a very reasonable complaint on my part, and yet I appreciate that it will probably appear rather insensitive. It has to do with my habit of reading the newspaper alongside my father each time I return home for the holidays. As I believe I've noted in the past, he continues to receive home delivery of the print edition, and undoubtedly will as long as they continue to make it. Each morning that I am there, I read the paper with him, making sure not to step on his toes so to speak. You must understand that newspaper lovers can't abide the disruption of their yet-to-be-read sections and their discards, so you have to proceed carefully. It's a rewarding experience, but one which requires some effort and deference.

My grievance is coming, so don't worry. One section I enjoy is the obituaries. I don't read them all. The thing that interests me is how each one expresses the sole salient fact common to them all: the death of the person in question. Most of them put it in precisely the same way. The favored expression is that the person has 'passed on'. The next leading phrase is that the person has gone to be with the Lord, or some such variation on the same essential thought. A very distant third is the bare statement that the person has died. In truth, I don't begrudge anyone the choice of how to say what has become of them. I only know what I will opt for, and that is to say that I have died.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Presently Speaking

Christmas is past, but for me one thing lingers in my mind, and that is buying gifts. It does happen to a lesser extent through the year, after all. It's not something that's hard for me as a rule, but can be more or less difficult depending on the person in question. That must be true for everyone. I guess you don't want it to be too easy, which suggests in my mind someone who is single minded about conveying what they want all the time. It just sounds very selfish. A person seems more virtuous if they're giving off clues unwittingly, but you do need those clues. I'm not interested in some kind of great challenge.

I believe in gifts that are personal and reflect my knowledge of and connection with the person in question. I am not against receiving gift cards, but prefer not to give them if I can help it. They can be personal to some extent provided they are not cash cards (which do have their value as gifts), but I find them unsatisfying. They say that stores love selling gift cards because a surprising number of people don't even use them, and those that do invariably spend a little more than the value of the card. I've found that to be true, but as I've said my objection is in giving them, not receiving.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Measure Of A Man

I'm a liberal-minded guy when it comes to sketching out the parameters of gender roles. I feel that everyone, XX or XY, deserves an equal shot at whatever they want in society, but even so I cannot shake much of the tradition definition of what makes a man. As I understand the notion, a man is in dereliction of his duties if he does not make a living based on his wits or brawn or both. It's no longer necessarily the case that he carries his wife and family on his back, although it obviously once was and still happens. Men are also understood to be tough, resourceful and resolute. This conventional definition has had some bits stripped away, but is substantially intact if my observations are correct.

I know what I feel, anyway. I feel like more of a man when one or both of two things is happening: firstly, when I am earning a living. When I am engaged in good and honest work and getting paid for it, I swell with some amount of pride at the knowledge that I am pulling my own weight. Be it politically correct or not, I feel like a man when I am entirely self-sufficient. That's not really accurate anymore since for longer than I've been alive women have been managing the same feat with great aplomb, but I can't help feelings. I can only mitigate the unfortunate ones.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What Do You Say To The Subway?

I take public transportation as my primary conveyance. Few people as a percentage of the whole do so, and I can appreciate that for many it's not a realistic option. I maintain however that at least some amount of the time it is suitable for all. This is born out by the experiences I have had riding a bus or train with friends who do not do so very often. The scenarios that give rise to such a broach of routine are these: the person's car is out of commission; the person considers the destination to be too much a hassle to park near. People frequently seek me out in at such times, as I am known to be the resident authority.

It's a disruption to my routine, albeit a happy one. Seldom having any company on sometimes long rides, I delve into books and my phone. I get a lot of my reading done this way, and some amount of my communication (texting, not calls in such a noisy spot). Naturally all that gets thrown out the window when I'm with someone on the subway. I say the subway because while I've gone with people on the subway numerous times, I have done so really only once on a bus, which does not attract the well-to-do rider with nearly as much success.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Year Of Living A Year More

Today is the first of the year, and I for one feel compelled to address something. It certainly has nothing to do with New Year's resolutions, which I have never made a point of making, let alone keeping. It seems to me that somehow this must be yet another seasonal event ginned up to sell something. Actually I suppose that it's been ginned up to sell everything, ranging from exercise equipment to college tuition. Are various retailers and educational institutions allied together in a massive worldwise cabal? No, I can't say that I believe that, but the only reason I have for being skeptical is my standard distaste for those who show particular interest in conspiracies. I think it's a series of coincidences based on predictable human behavior.

Neither is the thing I'm interested in anything to do with college bowl games, which are presently in full swing and which used to mean something once you got to New Year's Day, but now are meaningless all the way until you get to the very last one. I admit that my ire has been raised just typing that, but I'm not at all going to devote this post to something like that. The Bowl/Playoff debate is yet another meaningless debate which I have checked out of. They'll do whatever they want to do, and it affects me little if at all. I have more productive lines of argument to pursue.