Thursday, April 05, 2018

The Most Important Thing

I was watching an advertisement for Masterclass on YouTube with Spike Lee.  At the end of the piece, he said something which brought tears to my eyes:  "The majority of people live, work and die and hate every minute of it.  So if you can make a living doing what you love -- you've won."
And yet, why is it so difficult to do that very thing?  So many people strive to win and fail.  Or do they not try hard enough?  Or do they even know what it is they enjoy doing?
I've thought about this about my own life for many years.  No one wants to grow up to be a copier repairman.  It's a stressful and thankless job, not to mention an underpaid one.  Most Eastern philosophies such as Taoism, Hinduism and Buddhism think one must accept their lot in life and make the best of it.  Basically, bullshitting yourself into thinking you like your job when, in fact, you don't. 
I think the only way to win this game of life is to get serious.  To blast out of your life all the various and sundry accoutrements that halt and hinder your progress toward doing what you love and making a living doing so.  How to do so?  One has to isolate and categorize the rungs of the ladder:

1)  What is it you love to do?

2)  How is one recognized for doing it?

3)  What careers are available for those who do it?

4)  How long will this take?

5)  What must you sacrifice in order to do it?

6)  Is it worth it?

7)  If you're serious about it, never give up.

I love writing.  This is the one thing I have done since I was a child and continue to do to some extent throughout my life.  But I could fill a warehouse with the failed attempts at novels and scattered poems that I've never even had the courage to submit.  But I think, now, I will submit those poems.  I did this once when I was in high school, but I was had.  It's called 'vanity publishing' and my vanity was certainly hooked.  I won a 'Silver Certificate' and had my poem published in an anthology called 'Poems of the Western World'...wha??  It only served to add importance and significance to those so-called poets who pined for such things.  I guess the fact I still have the ponderous tome in my library is evidence enough that my vanity has not waned in the interim.
But this time my submissions will be to actual poetry magazines and publications.  I want to know what the world thinks of them and how I can improve my craft.  Time will tell.  And I will keep whoever reads this blog appraised of the situation as it develops.
Until then, I am recalibrating my compass for a different pole... maybe I'll win.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Sleeper Must Awaken!

What's it been?  Almost four years since the last installment?  Brian, why don't you just let this blog die? 
Just moved into Sacramento this past December.  I like the space and the cleanliness of the place, but I can't stand big cities.  My neighbor smokes on her balcony casually dropping her butts onto my front porch while playing hip-hop music, loudly, from her smartphone.  I open the front door of my apartment and the wonderful smell of tobacco smoke assaults me.  My tub takes twenty or so minutes to drain after a fifteen minute shower.  It is not uncommon to find homeless people digging for grubs in the back of the building, nor for police choppers to announce overhead to call 911 if you find a medium-sized built man in his late 20's with grey sneakers and a black hoodie.  I've heard residents call it the "Ghettocopter".   Yesterday, I opened my windows to air the place out for once, taking advantage of the warm, clear, spring weather, and played some of my favorite classical pieces at a good volume to discourage the upstairs neighbor from her usual, musical pursuits.
Why did I move?  Well, it made sense for a couple of reasons.  Gone are the 70 mile commutes (140 miles both ways), and the landlord raised the rent by $150 twice in two years.  I knew it was going to happen.  When the 11th St. bridge was finished in October of 2017, I told myself that that was going to start a surge of rent increases in the downtown area.  Sure enough.  It wasn't a week later that I was told the inevitable news.  So, I found myself a place for $1,000/mo. and so far, so good.  Overall, I am a happier person for the change.  I am sure my car thanks me for it as well.
There was a game convention not a few miles away from my new residence this past month called Sac ConQuest.  I didn't go.  I felt the twinge to go.  I wanted to play games and have some fun.  I wanted to meet new friends in the hobby of board and card games, but I was afraid of what I would find.  You see, I quit going to game conventions some years ago because I saw the same people that I couldn't stand over and over again.  Look, there are two types of gamers:  Those that perform ritual acts of hygiene and Those who do not.  I hate to bring up such a trope, but it's a truism.  I also find that those who do not partake in establishing good hygiene also have mental issues:  OCD, ADHD, Asberger's, and a host of little to large placements in the Autism Spectrum.  The pot is calling the kettle black here because I inherited my ADHD from my father who also has it.  But just because I have a condition (however innocuous) doesn't mean I have to like everyone who has it.  There is a frequent condition in gaming (particularly board gaming) called AP or Analysis Paralysis; this is a condition where a person will sit there for an egregious amount of time thinking over every possible combination of moves to come up with the winning one, or at least, the best one.  I understand that behavior if it were a world championship chess match worth half a million dollars in prize money, but for a friendly game of Caylus at a game convention?  And these were the main reasons I didn't go to the convention.  The weariness of having to endure people versus the fun to be had in a board game.  I found the former to outweigh the latter in my mental balance (or perhaps imbalance).
So, I have decided, therefore, to call my gaming days quits, at least for board and card games.  I'll stick with my old pals role-playing games and video games (PC only - screw consoles!). 
And I have decided to go back to being a wordsmith and penning and reciting some poems.  I will try to link up with the Sacramento Poetry Center again and see if things have changed.  (I have already looked at their website and - damn!  Things have changed!)  The last time I graced their podium was in August of 2005.  Now, I will have to screw my courage to the sticking post -- again.
Thanks for enduring me for another quadrennial blogpost.  Hopefully, I will write again sooner rather than later.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Your Own Private 9/11

I have noticed a trend in modern blockbusters that I find rather disturbing. I just got back from watching the movie Godzilla and realized that quite a few movies these days show tons of multi-skyscraper destruction. Examples: Godzilla, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Star Trek, etc. It could be that those are the only movies I tend to watch. (It is interesting that the majority of these scenes take place in San Francisco (Star Trek 1 and 2, Pacific Rim, Godzilla)). But I couldn't help wondering why the sudden interest in building removal. Answer? Because they can. Technology has advanced to the point that such feats of titanic destruction seem plausible and real. But that doesn't really answer the question. Perhaps we are inured to it, post 9/11? Or is it that 9/11 gave the analog data needed to simulate realistically the act of a falling skyscraper? Is it no surprise that Star Trek: Into Darkness had an afterword dedicating the film to the victims of 9/11. What disturbs me is most is this: What filmmaker believes that we want to relive that moment over and over again by creating images that is immediately going to invoke such memories? Or maybe I am more affected by 9/11 than I care to admit. When United 93 came out in 2005, people found it difficult to see it. "Too Soon" they said. It just seems to me that it is still 'Too Soon'. I am already getting inured to mass destruction, and I take it our American audience is as well. Already Hollywood is trying to find a way to raise the bar. What's next?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Musing at Huntington Beach

So I am on the beach in SoCal watching the sun set with a Dos Equis in my hand. Watching sunbathers bathe and swimmers swim. And here of all places I feel the rent in the fabric of my soul, if I have one. I have come to the conclusion that I may be wrong about some things. Something like Morpeus says in the movie, The Matrix, "like a splinter in your mind." That something is not quite right. Something doesn't make total sense. What is it? A tugging between the heart and the mind. A knowledge of meaninglessness but the inability to believe it. Or the not wanting to believe it. I love life. I love life more in my 40's than I ever have in my 30's or 20's. Why is this? Is it because I have a stable career for once? Perhaps. Is it because I am truly free to do as I wish? Not really, because it has always been so. Is it the fact that I have and appreciate my friends and family more than ever now. Could be. Like this blog, I feel the need to write without really writing anything that could be construed as meaningful. Or logical. What is the sun set saying to me, I wonder? The ocean surf? The gulls just a few feet above my head? The sandcastles and the orbiting children? Life just is? For now I will accept that conclusion for I do not have the will to seek another. I will simply sip my beer and stare lazily at the light which will inevitably snuff itself out in the west awaiting the cool embrace of an August darkness.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kentucky Blues - Day Six

I woke up in a semi-refreshed state. I wandered around, ate some oatmeal with sugar and bananas. Dad asked me who makes the best oatmeal in the family, and I answered "You do, Dad!" which pleased him immensely. Sadie and Kayden woke up and we played around for a while. Kayden and I and Poppy went with us to Aldi's and shopped for milk and stuff. Then we went home to drop Kayden off and Dad and I went to Dixie Bowl and tried to perfect my approach. Dad was giving me pointers on what do and not to do in order to spin my ball. We played three games and during the last game I did pretty good, even by Dad's standards. Mind you, during all this, Pat is watching little Benjamin. Then we came back to eat lunch. Lisa came by to pick up Benjamin and we talked a bit about things to do in Louisville. She commented on a painting exercise that roves about Louisville (or perhaps the eastern half of the country) and for a nominal fee and a glass of wine, an instructor teaches you how and what to paint. I thought that was a cool idea, but the schedule didn't mesh. We looked at the planetaria in the area and their schedules didn't match either. So, we planned for Friday to go to the Science Center in Louisville and eat sushi at Osuchi's or Wild Ginger. At least, that's the plan. As is common for this family, plans change on a moment's notice. A fact I am trying very hard to get used to. I stayed up late with the kids and watched some programs on TV with them. Then Kayden and I looked up Bane and Green Lantern and Batman on the internet and talked about their adventures for awhile. We then went to bed. It was kick-back day - which was nice for a change. See y'all tomorrow.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kentucky Blues - Day Five

I awoke in pain. The drinking of the previous evening left me with a slight hangover in the form of a mild headache. I bore it as well as I could before I finally relented and took a couple of ibuprofen. We lingered and talked for a while - chillin' - and then Dad and I took off for the Corvette Assembly Plant in Bowling Green, KY. We didn't have time to go through their museum, but the one hour tour through the plant was quite interesting. We saw the Z06 and ZR1 being assembled. We found out that the least wanted color of Corvette was Arctic White, the most requested as Torch Red, and the color that they discontinued as of next year is Inferno Orange. Bowling Green was an hour and a half away (110 miles) from Valley Station (where Poppy and Meemaw live). Then we made another trip to Kart Kountry, this time with Emily and her new boyfriend Matt. We made one round on the go-cart track (I was not too impressed even with a better cart), then we did 18 holes on the mini golf course. I made another hole in one on Hole #8 as did Dad. But Dad made another hole in one on Hole #16. So I still lost. Though I did better this time, Dad still had me by 12 strokes. We then went back home and milled about a bit (this happens a lot with this family) and then went out to eat at Bonny and Clyde's Pizza Parlor at 9:30pm. I love this place. It was a former Shakey's that kept a lot of the original feel and taste of Shakey's. I ate about five slices and a couple chilled mugs of Michelob Amber Bock. We went home again and I taught Sadie and Kayden the game of Carcassonne and played until they got sleepy. I turned off the lights as I was the last one in bed and made sure the doors were locked and I turned in. See y'all tomorrow. P.S. There was a cornhole tournament going on down the road at Brewski's. When we passed it there was about six or seven games going on with a large crowd. When we came home from Bonny and Clyde's, only one was left... the crowds had thinned. I don't know if that was the finals or a couple dudes squeezin' one in at the last beams of daylight.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kentucky Blues - Day Four

I woke up to a screaming baby. Not much happened for the front half of the day. Ate breakfast and talked to Poppy and Pat until Emily showed up. Then I talked to her for a while about life in general. We decided after a long while to go see a historical site that was quite close to home: The Farmsley-Moormen Landing off the Ohio River. This place was a booming center of commerce during the early days of Kentucky (1820-1870). The house was solidly built and had two stories. We learned a considerable amount about the 13 slaves he owned and what their duties were. Farmsley himself died of malaria at age 49 and left no will nor children. After a ten-year long court battle, the Moormens acquired it and kept it until 1983, when the Archeological Society took it over. A very nice tour guide, Renee, escorted us through the home and had a lot of historical information. I noticed she had a Germanic accent and her co-worker remarked that she was originally from Mannheim, Germany and married an American soldier during WW2 and came over to Kentucky during that time. Yes, she is an old woman, but very alert. After that, we came home and I was Grillin' and Chillin'! I cooked up seven steaks and some hamburgers (there were some complaints that was more because of timing and not so much my grilling competency). I drank a few Guinesses and a couple of terribly made Margaritas. Got a little tipsy. Ate some of that grilled zucchini and yellow squash and loved it. So Dad was right...again. Eric (my brother in law) made some excellent potato salad. I ate until I got full (what else does one do in KY). Poor Natalie tripped and fell again which kind of dampened the mood near the end. Talked for a bit with Trish until she left, then silence.... I went to bed listening to Andante Cantabile by Tchaikovsky. See ya'll tomorrow.