Saturday, October 23, 2010

Off My Ass

I finally did it. I took the first step. I visited the website and I joined up. I talk about getting involved, I follow the websites, I make the odd comment and run the odd diary blog, but today I did something a bit further.

I volunteered.

Who knew?

Now, I have no idea on if or how I may be used. But I put my name in, left a phone number, provided an actual e-mail address. Told the wife. She said that was fine, maybe I could get some exercise of my fat ass and go door to door. I countered that fat, exhausted and sweaty doesn't make for a good profile for getting someone to vote. She countered that something that would drive a fat ass like me to go out knocking on doors would make a better impression. Left me speechless, like she usually does.

Still, it's not a time to sit back idly and bitch from the sidelines, it is time to get involved and since I am out of work, more or less sane and have the time between book writing sessions of inspiration, perhaps its a harbinger of things to come. For those who do not see the world as I do, that's perfectly okay with me. I've decided that if you don't agree with me or my politics, that's more than alright, but it does matter that you feel the way that you do for the right reasons, as opposed to the same old antipathy that apparently drives our voter enthusiasm, like I've always voted Republican or Democrat because that's what Mom or Dad or Great Uncle Charlie said....times have changed and people are no longer what they appear to be.

Get involved.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fat Guy in Tucson

As it often goes, sometimes you simply have to let the chips fall where they may....and in this case, be sure to vacuum up after yourself else Mom will be pissed.

For some reason, I have felt a need to share my opinions with you, those few of you that may actually take the time to read what I say, who may stumble here on a later date when you have come under my spell of long winded prose and awkwardly charming mixed metaphors.

So, the Fat Guy in Tucson wants to take a few moments and discuss what we're watching and why I think it's good. Reminder, ymma, so if you don't like what I like, well good on ya, support what you do like to you and yours.


What we're currently watching.......

The Amazing Race 17 - don't ask me why this is compelling, but watching people interact with each other, their competition and the locals is what does it for me. That is drama, there is a prize and you get to see the best in people and the worst in folks. It is also a wonderful travelogue for the planet and serves as a weekly reminder on just how good we have it compared to mny other places in the world.

Haven - SyFy channel. Damned if this one didn't sneak up on me and get me interested. The god myth thing going on in the background serves as the Maguffin here but the acting and the scripts are pretty tight and it makes for an entertaining hours as little by little more of the story is revealed. They are using King'ss style here and being true to it as far as how he tells a story. Good call. Also, a good call is the opening and closing theme music is by the same folks that did Firefly, haunting melodies and its good to see those folks gainfully employed.

Rubicon - AMC - I dunno if this series is getting the play that it should, but it addresses questions about morality in our day and age. It involves smart people attempting to solve dangerous problems and not everything is at it seems. I don't know if this will be renewed, but I sure as hell am enjoying season 1.

Spooks/MI-5 - on PBS replays - only starting season 8 now (season 9 is in production in the UK currently I believe). This is good stuff. hard choices, hard decisions and spy stuff is a weakness of mine in that it takes guts, savvy and brains to make it all fly. This is easily the best thing I've seen out of England since Monty Python. This stuff is so good, I've been hunting down free streaming episodes out on the web.

The Venture Brothers - Cartoon Network/Adult Swim programming. - If you were a fan of Johnny Quest growing up then you have to watch this. It turns the entire genre on its ear and points it at the funhouse mirror. Incredibly silly and yet nifty, I can't explain it, you have to experience it. If you haven't seen it, talk to me, I can help.

The Rachael Maddow Show - Most of you folks know that I am of the liberal persuasion and Rachael is where I go to get my fix. She is funny, respectful and gets her facts together before going after anyone, regardless of political affilliation.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

my favorite anime

one of the nice things about being a complete reprobate is that it allows you to have some diverse interests and as such, I've decided to start to list things that I like, dislike for those that wish to argue and ebate such things. Naturally, your own opinion is lacking if it doesn't dovetail with my own, but seeing as not all of us can be right all of the time, I'll allow you to be wriong here when you disagree with me.

this list is my own, I've seen a boatload of cartoons, good, bad and indifferent, but what I am referring to here is the japanese, or japanese inspired art form of anime, which is often times simply manga brought to the screen and made real.

Again, this is a personal preference, your mileage may vary.

10) Lovely Complex

It seems simple, but it isn't. The would be love interests don't seem like a natural match, he's short, she's tall. Their interests are similar in many ways, but its that old bugaboo of peer pressure and how one sees oneself that continually get in the way of romance. Friends are understanding, history that never quite leaves us and our own way of looking at ourselves and seeing ourselves in someone else's eyes. The humor is broad and the characters sympathetic.

9) Hikaru No Go

Anime about a traditional asian board game. It takes a while to warm up, but the episodes talk about the inner struggles to prove oneself and the dedication needed to become the best. It also goes into loss and pride and shows the evolution of a child into a young man. Worth the time to invest in it if you're looking for insight into asian cultures and foriegn concepts of gaming.

8) FLCL / Fooly Cooly

This has just about everything you might want in a series, a love triangle between a space pirate, his dame and the new kid who has been chosen to be integral to his release. With varying styles, killer music and everything from baseball playing robots to teenage pyromaniacs this series is for those who like their minds expanded or are tired of seeing just the "same old thing". The music is so good, I bought the band's music as an import.

7) Working!!

A slice of life series that is very recent. It covers a nice mix of personality types who are only slightly broadedned for our own entertainment purposes. One of the few series that had me laugh out loud at least once an episode. If you enjoy adult flavored wacky, this is the series for you.

6) Rurouni Kenshin

If you're gonna watch japanese anime, then you must understand that the weapon of choice is hard steel and no, we're not talking bullets. This is a feudal era setting when Japan is painfully moving into a more modern era. Not all of the old ways have died just yet and the primary character is a man looking to escape his past or finding a way to deal with it that allows him to have a future.

5) Cross Game

There had to be at least one sports anime and this one is the best, again, ymmv. It covers the subjects of family loss and grief and love and baseball. It does it in such a way so as to not bludgeon the viewer but slowly allows them to realise the depth of it's characters and to allow them to express themselves just as much as what is not said as is actually spoken.

4) Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood.

A reworking of the original that follows the 2nd year of the manga more closely (not the fault of the folks who created the 2nd part of it, it hadn't been written yet) but following the magical art of alchemy in an alternate universe and the moral and personal battles that follow. Great stuff, wonderful voice acting and great plot developments. It's nifty stuff visually.

3) Great Teacher Onizuka

yeah the artwork looks dated these days, but the story is great in how a former rebellious youth imparts his own special brand of wisdom to the adults to be in this rather ribald version of "To ir, with love" japanese style. The life lessons are good and help the students grow up and see themselves for who they are and how they can get there from how the actually are.

2) Bleach

If its battles that you want, you get it here. lots of wonderful over the top hyperbole to boot. There's always another challenge and yes, the style has fallen into the Inuyasha trap of never seeming to ever be an end, but the ride is fun and the cast is resplendant with wonderful archetypes and folks that are oozing subtleties and backstory. the only problem is that we've already had three filler arcs of stories to make up for all of the time it takes the manga to catch up. Who knew the afterlife was so full of anguish.

1) Cowboy Bebop

This the best blend of story, music, visual and characters.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Saying Goodbye

In a manner of speaking, politics is to blame for this. Not specifically for my Dad's death, which happened these last few years gone by, but in forcing me to face that experience and rethink it and then to wonder how it might have played out differently today. I don't like to think of my father's passing simply because reexamining loss is never what you would call a pleasant experience. Seeing the national discussion taking place and watching those who treat the end of your lifes journey and then couching it as a political statement; I find that revolting. The idiots that appear to oppose anything that looks and sounds like it may be of benefit to those who haven't had things go their way, they have defined it in those terms. Dad's passing was something of a rite of passage for me, not one that anyone is ever really ready to make, yet so many of us have it thrust upon them unprepared. There is no "right" time for this personal test, if you care to be trite, you could call it a "pop quiz" on life itself.

Dad had been declining, at first gradually, and then more markedly as the time and chemo treatments slipped away. He was an athlete, he was charismatic, my Dad was a person who made an impression on people. He was not a saint. Sometimes he was more caring about his personal pride than about the example he was setting, he said that appearances mattered. In the latter years, when alcohol would mask his anger at how things had come to pass and how his own choices had dissappointed himself, and our choices and how life had turned out to be for his sons. despite that, he did his best to enjoy life and pull what he could from the curve balls that life threw at him. He started out as a poor little miners kid, never expected to be much, one of six. He was not the eldest or the best looking or even exceptionally talented but he was a grinder, he worked hard and knew the value and ethics of hard work. Passed that along to me and my brother. Aim high, plan low, by that he meant that we should strive to be our best selves and be ready for the worst repurcussions.

He didn't understand my dreams, but never sought to change them. Just wanted to make sure that I had a plan for taking care of me and my own. Wanted me to be happy. Wanted my brother to be happy. He had discovered that happy damn near trumped everything else. If you were happy, want of income wasn't that big a deal. Still, he had that pride thing, he was happy with what he had managed to accomplish, and as such, that sin of pride was mortally embarrassing when his health failed him. Maybe it was the drinking, but more than likely it was the smokes. He accepted that verdict begrudgingly, tried to deal with it in the best way possible, setting aside some term life for me and my brother. making sure his second wife, Doris, was set up in such a fashion to ensure that she could live out her remaining years without want.

The big C bested him on it's return engagement. You see, he had beat it back once already, but he never bought into the idea that once bested it wouldn't be back. If anything it released him to enjoy and savor the smaller things even more, grandchildren, pets, family. He did his best to not dwell on the past, revisiting transgressions wasn't on his agenda when new and better memories could be made. He had made plans in advance to settle accounts financially as best he could when round 2 started. He gamely signed up for the new bout of radiation and chemo despite how it had racked him before. He started to diminish though, people could see but wouldn't say and still he knew it. His mind though was as sharp as ever. When needed, he could still pull off those paternal looks that caused you to rethink what you had just said. Yet as he was still savoring what he could from everyday he knew that time was running out.

I got there with my family over a Thanksgiving holiday. We spent time together, good times, watching sports, playing cards. He held his latest grandson in his lap and marvelled about life all over again. he laughed watching my eldest run slightly amok with his dog throughout the house; the barking and playing noises seemed like a comfort rather than a bother. In the past we might have been chided for our lack of parental discipline, but not now, he was simply happy to be there in the moment, his family by his side.

We spent a good week there. Not really touching upon the unspoken truth, how close he was to the end, how we understood that this time was different. We clung to that last thread of hope, knowing the truth but afraid to say anything but in muted whispers to each other. Still holding out for the possibility for a reprieve. He had changed from the man I knew and grew up with. The docs he was seeing had to treat/hurt him in this fashion in order to burn all of the disease out of him. He spoke of how life was slowly losing it's pleasure for him. He couldn't even pee without help. Of all things, he was upset at his loss of virility, as if somehow that made him less of a man. He told me how he and Doris had planned on hospice care in case this latest round of chemo was unsuccessful and that if this didn't work how he didn't want to die in a cold clinical hospital bed.

We left after the holiday. I was sobered but hopeful. My brother came in a few days after me and from the best that I can tell, the same performance was repeated with his family. A good family visit. Saying goodbye in the best way that my Dad knew how.

A few days before Christmas the call came. He'd collapsed in the bathroom, the chemo had weakened him to the point where his wife, Doris, couldn't even help him, to help himself. He was embarrassed again for having had it come to this point, she said. He wanted to do this one thing, to go to the bathroom, on his own. He hated having to rely on something or anyone for this small part of our everyday lives that was so simple yet had become so humbling. That night he was taken to the hospital. Doris called and said that based on what the tests showed and the doctors had advised, he didn't have long to go. He wanted us, his boys, to be by his side and could I come?

I don't even remember the plane ride, I remembered asking my boss if I could go, I remember my wife encouraging me to go, she would handle the holidays with the kids and not to worry, I obviously had married well and thanked her for being her. I got into Dallas and was soon at his bedside. He was a shell of the person that I grew up with. The same person who had inspired various amounts of fear, respect, adoration and laughter was leaving us. He had been a constant in my life, he would always let you know if what you had done was the right thing to do. Praise was not given freely but was earned, which made it all the more special when it came from my Dad.

The pain was clearly racking his body and the doctors had informed Doris that at this point there was nothing that they could do but keep him doped up to deal with the pain. This meant that most of the time he was silent, his breathing rattled, no longer any hope of a hospice room or even his own room to provide some small comfort over these last few steps before his final release. Not being able to be in his own clothes, surrounded by the things in life that he had earned for his departure like a pillow that fit just right, no tubes, no music to soothe him. None of the smells and sounds of home. Just the beeping and hum of machinery and the antiseptic smell of bleach and medicine that provided a backdrop of clinical indifference. The staff were fine, some of them understood and accepted the personal side of our grief and despair. Others were more clinically detached for their own reasons, for either caring too much or having been hardened by watching this rite of passage all too often.

During those last hours, Dad would occasionally reach a level of lucidity that was like a transcendance through the drugs and through the pain he to be able to acknowledge the fact that I was there. It took a special effort to get there, but that was my Dad, he was never really afraid of the hard work that was required to get the job done. He was able to let me know that he was proud of the person that I had become and wanted me to live and enjoy my life; as much as he had found pleasure in having me in his. What can a son say to his father after that? The only words that came to mind were "I love you". So I said those words. I could see that they had found him and I could see the joy in his eyes. Those words weren't shared nearly often enough between us. We were men after all and those kinds of emotions are usually implied instead of spoken. But those words had found him and with that, he closed his eyes and was able to rest a bit easier.

The time was fast approaching where the struggle, his struggle with the betrayal of his own body against his mind was coming to an end. There was a brief moment when it appeared that he had found a way to come back to us one more time, I grasped his hand and told him that he didn't have to fight any longer. He had nothing left to prove. He had the love of his sons and of his wife and that we understood and that he could let go. I left the room to allow Doris to say her goodbyes in private. Then we sat in an awkward vigil and watched him slip past. It was quiet, we were stoic as well as we could be before the tears came. We cried. We cried for our loss, we cried because he no longer had to be in pain. We cried because we hurt, because we were embarrassed that we couldn't allow him to go the way that he wanted. We cried because we were helpless and we cried because we cared and loved him so much.

After an hour or so, we had to move on. They needed to move the body. They had to clean the room, the plans had to be made for the "after". Phone calls had to be made, to family, to the paper, to home. There were more tears to be shed, memories to be reviewed and replayed. It remains a farewell that remains with me throughout my life, because it changes you and stays with you for all of your days.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The World is a scary place

To be honest, I think that is what is making the world such a troubling place these days, people are unable to comprehend and keep up with all of the changes that are taking place. It's like the 1920's all over again, for example. In the 1920's we had the fact that the average consumer could now have access to cars and radio. Women had the right to vote, a world war had ended and the might of democracy prevailed. This meant that your entire world was now expanded well beyond the limits of the farm, the street, or a section of town. You could get news from all over, as it happened, that day. If you wished to, you could get in your car and go somewhere, make a visit to see family, friends, places of interest. There was this new sense of freedom that you really could do anything or become almost whatever you wished to be with hard work and ambition. Granted there was a certain naivete to all of that, but the wide world was filled with people who had fought against long odds and succeeded, inventions were appearing that made lives different, if not better. Free time was available for people to pursue their own interests, survival was no longer a 24/7 concern.

Now look at the changes that we experience today, women are no longer tied to their bodies if they choose not to be, science has progressed so far as to allow us to damage the planet, yet making our lives so radically different that people do not understand or comprehend their ability to understand and known and learn more than they had ever done before. I think people are simply afraid that we're changing things beyond their ability to understand them and accept the change itself as being a good thing. I don't wish to live in the past, I want to see the future come to life, because I think the vast majority of us just want to be able to live our lives as we choose, surround ourselves with our loved ones and see that we can do better for ourselves and our species and stand on the threshold of knowing more than the sum of ourselves.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Favorite Forgotten Films

Just wanted to give a little bit of love to movies that never got the publicity, sometimes are known as being cult films, but for some reason they simply resonate with me. Some may be your personal howlers but for me, I'm more than happy to kick back and pop in the DVD, the VCR tape or catch it on cable if I have to and simply enjoy the time for what it is....

They come in no particular order, just stream of consciousness kind stuff and I'm staying away from blockbusters, these are the films that you may have missed somewhere along the way...or they could be forgotten classics made before my generation knew how good movies even were.

1) Real Genius
2) The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai
3) Big Trouble in Little China
4) Used Cars
5) The Trouble With Angels
6) Some Kind of Wonderful
7) The Devil's Brigade
8) Fierce Creatures
9) To Sir With Love
10) Allegro Non Troppo
11) Adventures in Babysitting
12) That Thing You Do!
13) Matewan
14) Finding Forrester
15) While You Were Sleeping

Oldies that still have a powerful message for me or provide a guilty pleasure

1) 12 Angry Men
2) To Kill a Mockingbird
3) Lillies of the Field
4) Blackboard Jungle
5) The Quiet Man
6) Stagecoach
7) Rio Bravo
8) Donovan's Reef
9) Seven Samurai
10) Captains Courageous
11) How Green Was My Valley
12) Casablanca

I could go into these films in greater detail and maybe I will at a later date, but I wanted to get them down here because I was in the mood to...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Whatever File

There are times where I wonder if the Hokey Pokey is what exactly it is all about....

There are some things that I still need to have patiently explained to me in such a fashion that make me wonder if I still need to be showing up at school and filling the hole under my desk full with pictures of airplanes shooting bullets and explosions on mountaintops and stick figures going aaaarrrgggghhhhhh.....or if that is what got me into trouble the first time.

I wonder at times what in the hell ever attracts a woman to a man. I've seen some men in my time and it makes me think that women, on the whole, must be fatally flawed to be able to find us (the men folk, because lets face it, we're not all Sean Connery or Brad Pitt) attractive and decide to keep us around. I mean I can do the foot massage thing. I've been known to do a neck and some shoulders once upon a time as well. But taken as a complete package, I'm surprised that there aren't more cat and dog ladies.

I don't always feel a need to control the remote, unless there is something that I want to watch being on. Hey, I'm a guy, at least I don't dictate what everyone else has to watch when I'm not watching it.

It's strange that as I have become more reclusive, my personal politics have been more inclusive.

I feel the need to have my voice heard, out on the world wide web of anonymity.

After all of the experience that I have gleaned from this life, the most refreshing thing about it is being able to laugh at myself.

How is it that I can somehow identify with someone across an ocean by participating in a game with them online, yet I still couldn't tell you the names of my neighbors. In admitting that, does that make me a bad person?

religion has to be based on faith... when you are relying on a tenet of beliefs and events that took place hundreds of generations before our own existence was created and then have those beliefs and ideas translated across multiple languages and be able to ensure that what was taught then is what should be taught now... well you just have to take that on faith I guess.

I wish to help my neighbors, but in ways that they cannot see, like by having my cars be in good repair, my weeds pulled and my grass mowed. My apologies though if you see my fat ass wheeling out the trashcan just after the crack of dawn.