Saturday, October 25, 2008

This is insane.

You would think the Onion had a time machine when it posted this at the begining of the Bush Presidency.

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28784

Some priceless snippets. -

"You better believe we're going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration," said Bush, who plans a 250 percent boost in military spending. "Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?"

On the economic side, Bush vowed to bring back economic stagnation by implementing substantial tax cuts, which would lead to a recession, which would necessitate a tax hike, which would lead to a drop in consumer spending, which would lead to layoffs, which would deepen the recession even further.

Finally, the horrific misrule of the Democrats has been brought to a close," House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert (R-IL) told reporters. "Under Bush, we can all look forward to military aggression, deregulation of dangerous, greedy industries, and the defunding of vital domestic social-service programs upon which millions depend. Mercifully, we can now say goodbye to the awful nightmare that was Clinton's America."

Bush concluded his speech on a note of healing and redemption.

"We as a people must stand united, banding together to tear this nation in two," Bush said. "Much work lies ahead of us: The gap between the rich and the poor may be wide, be there's much more widening left to do. We must squander our nation's hard-won budget surplus on tax breaks for the wealthiest 15 percent. And, on the foreign front, we must find an enemy and defeat it."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rick

Rick,

Thanks for the feedback. It is a great fear of mine that my writing will get worse not better. I've seen it happen to writers who become complacent.

I greatly appreciate the feedback and the thoughts you shared and especially devoured the praise. It was great to read what you wrote about Marilyn's story because that is approaching book form. The text is done and I have sent it out to four readers to ask their thoughts on what parts are slow or need to be changed or even which work well. It was an incredibly amount of work turning a blog into a memoir. How Marilyn and I met, daily routines, the Magic and MMORPG years, the discovery of the Cancer and the aftermath are all included and fleshed out. All it needs now is feedback and final editing.

I don't quite know how to address the passion part in my writing. Right now, I am traveling, writing, and trying to learn Spanish. It is much harder to convey passion about Spanish class than it is to convey passion about the struggle to succeed at Magic and make it to the pro tour. Of course there is passion about struggling to keep Marilyn alive and keeping a positive attitude. It's very easy to show the rage you feel at nurses that suck or the fear when the infection comes back and I am awake all night in the hopital with a bucket and helping the nurses change the sheets every thirty minutes.

I'm not competing in anything right now and no one is dying under my care (thank God) so I am sure my writing has lost some edge that it used to have. I also used to put more work into my Star City columns because at one point I was being paid well to write them. And being about Magic, well, I've always had strong feelings about that.

You're one of the few people to comment on my fiction. I am assuming you are referring to the first chapter of my novel I had posted a long time ago called "Eminent Domain?" Fiction was hard! Would be nice to know if people enjoyed that first chapter when it was posted. If my passion came out in that I am very glad. That bodes well for the far off future.

I will think of what you have said and see if I can find a way to express my passion for other things in my writing. It is a problem. I am in Rome right now and it is beautiful. I have recorded some great slice of life observations here. But no matter how many times I write "staggering" or beautiful" or "breath-taking" I don't know how to compose travel writing that can speak with the passion of battling Cancer or someone in Magic or MMA. I think I can only express wonder and humor.

I know what you are saying and I agree. The quandary is how to solve it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Antony

Can't help it.

When we were home this summer one of the things my folks most wanted to show us was a tribute to Leonard Cohen on DVD. Many artists think he "stands above." That he is something special and amazing. The tribute was many artists playing his songs and talking about how great and amazing he was. Including Bono who clearly had a massive man crush on Leonard Cohen. I think this is wonderful to give honor to someone before they die. To let them know how much you appreciate their work before they pass on and can no longer (in conventional terms) hear your words of praise.

When first introduced to him, I found his lyrics shallow and annoying. On my second exposure, I found him captivating. He's not a singer but a songwriter but people pressure him to sing, so, sometimes he does.

I found many of the singers in the tribute to be amazing, but one really shocked me. Impressed me. Startled me. Touched me?

"Show me on the doll where Antony touched you."

And so, I must share. Trust me. Do not flash through this entry and song as fast as possible. Save some time for this. When you have ten minutes and some privacy (i.e. a closed door so you can crank it) then see if you can feel what I felt. Add it to the list of things I consider a "thing of beauty."

First, watch the lyrics sung by Leonard Cohen and understand he's not that great a singer. Not necessary to crank it.

Then watch the tribute lyrics sung by "The Lovely Antony" and I hope you enjoy them like I did. Yes, he looks like a spastic autistic mongoloid but seriously, I find that part of his charm. Crank it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Life Continues

Don’t you hate it when websites don’t get updated? I mean seriously, I have been waiting weeks for Aikida to be updated and that guy is just slacking off. What is up with that?

Can you tell that I’m back in Spanish class? Hence the lack of updates. Yeah. Sorry about that. Class is still about as good as it can get right now. Montse is a fantastic teacher and the students are pretty good. The best I could reasonably hope for really. ZERO Italians. Many Germans. A couple of Americans.

Sitting next to me is Auralie, an attractive eighteen year old girl who gets grossed out anytime we talk about where food comes from. She used to be a vegetarian but eats meat now. That was until class last week when we started talking about blood sausage, fried pig ears, callos (intestines) and calf brains. She was seriously getting sick so I kept trying to steer the conversation to another subject but the class was having none of it. Being Spanish (read, not politically correct at all) Montse thought it would be a good time to pull out a supermarket flier and show her the pale white skin of dead suckling pig on sale which almost made her barf. She’s since gone back to being a vegetarian. She is fluent in English and adds a lot to the class.

Sitting next to her is a German girl who… Let me explain something first. Montse likes us to practice Spanish by asking what we did the previous night or what our plans are for the weekend. The girl sitting next to her is party girl. Her plans every weekend are “I’m going shopping and then tonight going out to a discothèque.” Every weekend. Around the other side of the table we have laughing girl. She laughs at everything and it makes it hard to understand her.

“So ahhhahhahahha last night I was hahahah at the movies. And this guy hehehe, he came in and he sat next to me hehehehahahaha and I started to talk hahaha to him and he didn’t like that hehehahaha so he stabbed me hahehahahaha. I’m still bleedling hahahaha. Seriously, can someone hahahaha help me?”

She laughs at everything she says. I’ve rolled my eyes so much I’m starting to get grooves in my skull. Next to her is sound effects girl. A thoroughly pleasant German girl who makes a whistle or a click or a cluck with her tongue to add emphasis to things she says. “So, I was sliding down the banister, fell off(whistle) and landed (tongue cluck) on my ass.” It’s very amusing and she clearly is doing it unconsciously. She makes me smile.

We started talking about Jamon, the cured pork that Spaniards obsess over. Wendy got a plate of it when I first came to Madrid but I was sick. The marbled meat looked disgusting to me I was so nauseous. It looked like fat with tiny bits of meat in it. Wendy ate the whole plate. When I moved over here we tried again. We went to El Corte Englais to select a grade and asked the butcher what he would recommend.

“What is the Jamon for?”

“It’s his first time tasting Jamon.”

You would have thought she told him it was for losing my virginity. (There's an unpleasant image.) He got all solemn, yet happy. “Oh you are so lucky. I wish I was you, tasting Jamon for the first time. It is the best food on the planet. You will love it I promise you. You must have the very best Jamon. Take this beautiful woman, wait for the sun to start to go down, open a bottle of fine Rioja and savor every bite. Your first taste only comes once in a lifetime.”

We did as he bid and that night sat on the terrace and sipped wine and I tried Jamon. I didn’t really get it. Wasn’t that big a deal to me. The second time it tasted a little better. There was a tickle in the back of my head like the glimmer of knowledge. The third time I had Jamon, I got it. I couldn’t get enough of it. I now understood why Spaniards went so crazy for the stuff. Since then we have bought a Jamonera and I carve whole legs in my kitchen. They last months.



Montse tells the class her first Jamon story. It was Christmas and she wrote a letter to Santa. (Actually it was probably the three kings but Americans will understand the Santa reference better.) “Dear Santa, I have been a good girl all year and I only want one thing for Christmas. My very own Jamon. I promise to leave hay under my bed for your hungry reindeer. Love Montse.”
Christmas came and Montse got a bike and a Barbi and some new clothes and a few other toys. Her mother asked her at the end of the day “How was your Christmas Montse?”

“It was good mama. I got a lot of things I wanted.”

“You seem a little disappointed.”

“Well, really I only asked for one thing and I didn’t get it.”

“Did you look under your bed?”

“No!” And rushing to her bed, Montse finds a whole detached back leg of a pig under it. How wonderful! A Jamon all her own!

Always interesting.

So, Wendy and I have completed our own personal goal of running fifty miles in four weeks. Go us. We run three and a half miles four times a week. We both stepped on the scale this morning and each of us has gained two pounds since we started. Some bad. Sigh.

The gazelle on the other hand has run fifty-two miles and that’s without updating her runs for the past week. Chatting with the gazelle this morning on IM.

Molly: Did Wendy tell you that my Ipod for running died...so none of my runs are being logged??

Molly: You just have all the challenge luck!

Jamie Wakefield: Yes! We win again!

Molly: Jerk

Sadly, she got her Ipod working this afternoon and surged ahead of us by over twenty miles. Wendy and I will have to run more than a marathon in four days to win this challenge. I’m thinking we lost this one.

In other news her son Jesse is one of the nicest, smartest, well behaved kids ever raised. Despite the fact that he is only fourteen years old, when we have family gatherings, he stays with the adults after dinner and doesn’t go outside with the other kids. He sits and chats, help clean up and is a part of the adult conversation. What a geek huh?

Actually no. He’s getting straight A’s in school and playing football. This past week he ran in a twenty yard touchdown, became vice president of his class and started dating the president of the senior class. As a freshman.

Sorry for the short update. At the end of week we're heading to Rome so next week you get to hear my thoughts on Italians. I bet that'll be interesting.