Tuesday, March 4, 2014

X-Men and Sherlock Holmes Compete for My Attention

Some random thoughts:
There are too many shows that I need to watch. It seems impossible that I should ever get to watch all of them. A couple I’ve happened on lately: Sherlock and Burn Notice.
I enjoy Sherlock a lot, and I was encouraged to discover there aren’t that many episodes to catch up on. It seems intimidating (as intimidating as watching television shows get) to see six or seven seasons of a show I’ve never watched before and to be faced with the daunting prospect of watching them all. I feel the same sense of reluctant dread when I discover a long book series.
Maybe dread isn’t exactly the right word, but the self-inflicted pressure to consume and finish the long volumes or series can feel very much like a trap of wasting time.
On the subject of wasting time, a book that has grown tedious, boring, and/or generally lacking in joy can be a hard thing to abandon. Staying with a difficult text can be a rewarding experience when that moment of epiphany is finally reached. I will finish Moby Dick, though I’ve set it down for a bit. (Actually, I’ve enjoyed most of Moby Dick, but the chapters on the specifics of whaling get repetitive after a while.)
A rewarding experience I had with a difficult text that I finished was Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. I was 200 or so pages into it and ready to give it up (it’s a 700+ page book). I set it down for a while and came back to it. After finishing it, I was glad I did. The story of the architect who never compromises his ideals no matter what became a compelling, if sometimes frustrating, book. I had read The Anthem by Rand, but that short volume had done nothing to prepare me for the lengthy tale that was The Fountainhead.
My most recent book that I’ve put on ice [and there have been books I’ve never come back to (at least not yet), namely, for one, Iain Banks’ space opera The Algebraist. I first heard of Banks in passing through one of the prompts for National Poetry Writing Month, an event I hope to participate in again after an aborted attempt last year. The prompt was to write a poem with the same title as one of Banks’ novels.] is a collection of letters from weird fiction author H.P. Lovecraft to a young correspondent named Robert Barlow. While the collection was originally intriguing, it developed (devolved?) into repetitive and uninteresting minutiae. A critic of my critique could argue that the personal correspondence of an author to a fan and aspiring writer would definitively be little else but minutia, but I had read from more than one source that some of Lovecraft’s letters were as good as any of the fiction he wrote. Still, Lovecraft wrote approximately 100,000 letters in his lifetime; I suppose they couldn’t all be literary masterpieces. Surprisingly, Lovecraft named the young Barlow his literary executor in the elder correspondent’s will.
I think the 2 volume set with Lovecraft’s correspondences with Robert E. Howard will be more interesting, though I obviously can’t be sure. I’ve skimmed through them, and they look to be longer for one. The fact that Lovecraft wrote these letters out long hand (he despised using typewriters according to respectable sources) is compelling, although perhaps a long typed letter would be more difficult to write in the 20’s and 30’s than a hand-written one.
While starting to write this blog, I was watching an episode of Sherlock that I hadn’t seen before, but I stopped it because I like to give the detailed stories my full attention. It’s one thing to have a show like American Dad, South Park, or Family Guy running in the background while reading or writing is one thing (and I do enjoy these shows; I think they’re funny and can be good mindless entertainment, though lacking the quaint and more frequent heart of The Simpsons), but to enjoy shows with intricate plots I like to be paying attention.
Actually, I do still have an episode of Sherlock going at the moment, specifically the one with Irene Adler. The actress playing her is very attractive, and I definitely don’t mind watching this episode again, or any episode of this show for that matter. 
When I first watched this episode, something about the name of Irene Adler seemed familiar, and it wasn’t from the Sherlock Holmes stories. A character named Destiny from X-Men comic books borrows the name as her real name.

NBA Dreams of Not So Much Reality

I keep playing this video game I’ve had for years now: NBA 2K10. It’s on the PS2. I’ve yet to buy a PS3, much less the newer PS4.
This info may be boring to anyone who’s not an NBA fan, but here is my explanation of my boredom. I started the franchise with the Boston Celtics. The first season starts in 2009 and goes to 2010. In real life, the NBA Finals was between the Lakers and Celtics, as it was in the game. In my season, the Celtics won. Not that odd. Next season in the game, same match up and same result. Again, not that strange. In real life, the Lakers and Celtics met 2 times in 3 years between 2008 and 2010. Not that strange to meet 3 times in 4. 
The strangeness begins as Kobe Bryant leaves the Lakers for Minnesota. Kurt Rambis is the T-Wolves’ coach. Maybe a Laker connection and triangle offense sells Kobe on a switch. Phil Jackson retires. Doc Rivers retires a 3-time champ (2008, 2010, 2011). New Celtic coach. Next Final in 2012 is Celtics over a Kevin Durant-less Thunder (Thunder make Finals without Durant). My Celtics defeat the Westbrook-lead Thunder in 4 games.
Next season, Tim Duncan is not on a team. Another break in realism. Surely the Spurs would have made room for him. I decide to make room on the Celtics for him. With Duncan, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo (Duncan signed for near veteran minimum exception) I defeat Portland in the 2013 Finals. (Lebron stayed in Cleveland through all this and doesn’t do much.) Okay, so that is a pretty good team and Brandon Roy (still healthy in this video hadn’t land) gets hurt in the Finals. Well, I sign Duncan to a long-term deal and trade him to Minnesota with Kobe for…Kevin Love. Granted, in this franchise Love was laboring away on Minnesota’s bench, so I freed him from that.
Well, in the 2013-14 season (in the game) I trade away Pierce, Garnett, and Allen. So, even though it made sense to trade off aging players, I likely would have been run out of town as the guy who traded off 3 five time champions (4 if you include Duncan). Except that with the addition of a promising rookie, I didn’t miss a beat and was the 2nd best team in the league still. I even tried loading up the other contenders to beat me. The Nets had Carmelo Anthony, a still healthy Yao Ming, and Jalen Rose (the game’s doing not mine on this one). I beat the Nets in 5 and the Anthony-less Nuggets made it to the Finals, where I easily swept them. Wish I had left Anthony on the Nuggets. That may have been a better match up. Just to see if I could, I scored 116 points with the rookie in a playoff game this season, too.
I’m now in the 2014-15 season and 2nd in the East to the Nets. The new rookie (now 2nd year) might be MVP. I have a new big three of Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, and this Alvin Bridges. But I’ve won 5 NBA Titles in a row and probably on my way to a 6th. Why am I still playing? The season’s seem to be a forgone conclusion and the game is way too easy.

Selling your dreams

Some advice I should have listened to, and a sentiment I can empathize with:
”After all, the sale of one’s things merely postpones—& does nothing to avert—a crisis.About the last things I’d ever part with are books & other familiar possessions which have always formed part of my natural environment.”-H.P.Lovecraft
I’ve sold a lot of books and comic books and own a lesser fraction of those items than I’ve owned compared to what I possess now. There are times I lament the sale of my many volumes of comic books. Once I told a seller I wanted 90% cash and 10% trade (saying that I wanted 90 and 10), but being misunderstood as wanting 90 *dollars*, I was made a poor offer and regretfully accepted, as I was anxious to sell. I had a lot of stuff, collected over several years, and this wasn’t even everything I’ve ever sold. 
When I was moving, I sold vast portions of my existing comic book collection, holding on to maybe half of them. Large runs of Transformers, Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor sold for pennies a copy. I wanted to make space, but I likely could have accommodated them in my new place.
Still more I sold of those I held onto, selling my X-Men comics at a show to a dealer. I carried 2 large boxes to a show and traded 10 years of collected stories for a mere 200 bucks, not even of cash, but in other comic books.
The past is past and past tense now, but I still regret selling some of those items. Other items I’ve sold and regretted, too, although I’m glad I’ve not become a hoarder either.

What I Was Afraid to Say (Poem)

I gave myself to you,
Fully and completely it seems,
Or else I wanted to.
I wanted to be lost,
I wanted to dive completely into a shallow pool,
Do what I wasn’t supposed to,
What didn’t make sense.
Afraid to write what I feel,
Afraid to say, “I love you,”
Because did I really?
Could I really?
Does it matter
If it felt real to me?
Is a simulated emotion less than a real one?
What I tried to say in verse, or couldn’t,
Was that I loved you, as best I understood how,
As best as my heart knew how,
As much or as little as I wanted to,
And I wanted to.
I wanted to believe
Believe you were the person I wanted you to be:
A reader
A beauty
An introspective soulmate.
You were all of those things and more
Or less; I don’t remember which.
I tried to tell my poem
All the disappointment I held
That you were not meant for me.
That poems would not be written about us
That lines would not form any symmetry between us
But maybe they did in another world.
I felt a love, a passion, that did not exist for you,
But seemed to for me.
I don’t care who realized it wouldn’t work between us
Say it’s you because it’s probably true.
I do remember you
And that time I loved you
It seems yesterday
But it might be now
At least a facsimile of an emotion, but no less real
For feeling that way
That way I remember now
That love I created yesterday
Lingers as the memory of today and the longing of tomorrow.

Technology Fix

I’m learning more all the time about online communications. Sometimes I feel I write as if I’m a visitor from the past and just learning about these new computers.
Something I’ve considered today, something I probably should have thought of before today, is appropriate conversations to have online. I don’t mean just not inappropriate things to say, but conversations you shouldn’t have online, but in person. If I’m talking out issues and questions concerning a relationship, maybe I should wait to raise some of those issues in person. Not the issue I was imagining, but I’m reminded of the episode of Sex and the City in which a character breaks up with Carrie Bradshaw via a post it note. Maybe there are conversations you should have in person, whether it be for embarrassment or just because it’s a more personal conversation.
For all my talk of being an internet noob, I can handle myself online a bit. I think maybe I just like to be mindful of the entire process. I do like privacy, but I don’t mind saying some things that I’m into: H.P. Lovecraft, NBA basketball, comic books.
I use the internet to enjoy these things.
Buy Lovecraft books on Amazon. Watch NBA streams online. Download comic books off torrent sites or read from online subscriptions.
Activity journal quick hits:
Started reading Lovecraft’s letters to Robert Barlow. Sad preface to the book. Barlow wasn’t able to see Lovecraft on his deathbed before he died and Barlow may have killed himself over the threatened revelation of his homosexuality. Lovecraft corresponded with Barlow when he was as young as 13, though Lovecraft was unaware of his age until they had been corresponding for three or four years.
The Golden State Warriors have a very good basketball team this season. Steph Curry is an incredible player and he may end up being an all-time great player. He is fun to watch. Watching a live online feed of the Warriors game. Jazz and Warriors tied. Jerry Sloan, longtime coach of the Utah Jazz, will be honored at half time. He holds the record for most wins with one franchise and for technical fouls.
Rereading the Fantastic Four comic book series. (Reading for the first time for some stories). The cbr files read better on my phone than the Marvel Comics Unlimited app. I read the cbr files on the comic book reader app Komik, and I can’t speak highly enough of the Komik app. Convenient to be able to read comics on my phone. I used cbr files when I did research for my undergraduate degree in English. One of the funnest papers I wrote was a paper for a Queer Theory class on sexuality themes in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men. ‘Impotent Supergods’ was the title, I think.
I’m able to enjoy these things through the internet, and I think I enjoy them as much or more with others. I like sharing my interests with others, and it can be gratifying to share yourself with other people.
Another part of myself I’ve shared lately is what I affectionately call my book addiction. That may be a post for another time, but maybe I should start reading more of them right now.
Another aspect of my online life I am thinking of is my ability to fix my computers. I am no computers technician, but I know how to use Google. I’ve solved many a problem (with admitted assists from actual computer tech friends). I still don’t know how to talk about computers sometimes, and maybe I can’t keep up with computer techs, but I like to have these conversations about mediated communications online and our interfaced lives with computers.

Simulated Feeling, But No Less Real (Poem)

Lost I was, thinking of you.
Lost, past tense I say or do I lie?
That first visceral feeling I felt
Seeing you for the first time sitting outside before class.
Was that the root of what I felt?
Pure lust for your smooth tan thighs?
Is all the flowery talk of love and life just nothing but lies?
I don’t think so, but maybe a mix of truths.
Talking of romantic things, then looking at you,
Hearing romantic thoughts come out of your pretty face,
Imaging talking to you in all those beautiful imaginary places.
Talking to you now in the present place,
Recognizing my admiration you did, admiring my appreciation of beauty of all things
Even of you and this impossible ideal I set up in my mind.
All of these beautiful thoughts and things are as beautiful as they were then
As real as they ever were, or even more so.
Idle thoughts really, but aren’t those the best kind?
Imaging us together, but no more than we ever were than when we met.
I live to love bravely, though perhaps too quickly or slowly with you,
How hard to trust a fiery love that burns with disingenuous flame.
How easy to regret a question asked too late or soon
Or never said at all.
Simulated feeling, a facsimile of love,
Does a cloned emotion result in any less of a broken heart?
Broken I am not, but remembering you tonight I am,
Wallowing in an emotion,
Reminiscent for an epic romance that never was,
Lost in the pages of that book you lent me,
Misremembering a love you scarcely caused.


Stuck waking up early. Had dreams today, but don’t remember as much. Need to start writing them down.
I’ve been more social lately and am actually getting out a little bit more. Need to start doing things that don’t cost as much money, though, ‘cause I need to save money. It’s my own fault, really.
I’m trying to not be too hard on myself still. I can always start saving again and being more thrifty. I did it in November and part of December, so I can again.
Full week. Feel like I was pushing it too much maybe, trying to do too much. Friday: shopping, chilling, movie. Saturday: eating out again, mini-golf. Sunday: watching football out (no cable). Monday: work. Tuesday: work, movie, etc. Wednesday: aborted plans that included a concert, lots of sleeping.
Future? More of the same this week. Book club tomorrow and meeting a friend for lunch and catching up. At least I think lunch. Haven’t figured out what to do or where to go. Work Saturday. Museum Sunday with another friend.
Time to start saving again, though, too.