Showing posts from 2020

Bookshot #129: 1971 A Global History of The Creation of Bangladesh

I listened to an interview with Srinath Raghavan a few months back on the podcast The Seen and The Unseen and when they talked about this book and it seemed like a must-read to me, so when I got some birthday cash to spend a couple of months back, I ran down a copy on Amazon and snagged a copy to see if it lived up to the hype of the interview and you know what? It absolutely did.

(Mild Tangent Time: Why the sudden interest in the geopolitics and history of South Asia? Well, to be honest, it's about a potential future. I don't know if I'll ever go back to get the PHD, but since my Master's Thesis focused so much on the politics of South Asia, it makes sense- at least to me, to keep expanding my knowledge base in the area, just in case.)

So, let's talk about 1971.

What I know about 1971 mainly comes the biography of Indira Gandhi (by Katherine Frank) I've got kicking around on the bookshelf. There, 1971 is portrayed as Indira Gandhi at the height of her powers- …

Netflix & Chill #75: Sonic The Hedgehog

Watched On: The Big Screen
Released: 2020
Directed By: Jeff Fowler
Starring: James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter, Jim Carrey
Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer 64%, Audience Score 94%
Pick: Austin's

So, the Eldest Spawn is a major fan of Sonic the Hedgehog- when his DS was actually working* he could play the video games- the old school ones and loved every minute of it and then followed that up with the cartoons on Hulu- both the new and old school ones. So- and it seemed like a million years ago now, what with all this pandemic going on- it was actually maybe a month ago- that we went to see Sonic The Hedgehog the movie. In theaters. On the big screen.

Sonic (Ben Schwartz), is, of course, a blue hedgehog who can run at supersonic sepeeds. He's sheltered as a child by his guardian Longclaw, an owl (Donna Jay Fulks), who wants to protecth im from a tribe of echidnas for his power. When they catch up to him one day, Longclaw gives him a bag of rings that can create portals to other p…

10 Things About This Mess

1. This is a multi-level crisis which means you've got multiple potential points for successes and failures and depending on where you live, you're mileage may vary when it comes to finger pointing/grading. In general, I find it helps my overall anxiety level to think of it this from a local, then state, then regional, then Federal and then Global perspective. It's way too early to lock in 'final grades' on this mess yet, so whatever you do: grade on a curve.

2. Read this.  Insert [Surprised Blink Gif] and then lean back and really think about it...  I'm not sure he's entirely wrong, but it's an insight which I don't think has really occurred to anyone yet- because we're all sheltering in place and slowly going stir crazy being locked inside our houses.

3. The nature of 'work' has changed, probably forever and that's a good thing.

4. Once the dust settles, I'd be interested to see how urban planning reacts to this. The overall tr…

The Lit City Blues Plague Days List

Howdy y'all-- so, I'm going to start keeping a running list of thoughts/links/initiatives that I've come across to kind of help get knowledge moving around out there. I'm not in Public Health. I have no secret sources of knowledge. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own...  if you know of something that I should add to my list or have some comments/thoughts you want to get out there, let me know and I'll throw 'em on the list...

1. In general, I am taking the attitude of "it's already here" and acting accordingly. Plan. Plan. Plan. Don't wait for confirmed cases or for the government to tell you what to do. Educate yourselves, make informed decisions for yourselves and make a plan for yourselves. We've cleared the decks for the rest of the month in terms of non-essential appointments for the kiddos and we got an extra thing of TP, 200 bucks of groceries and are preparing to hunker down and get into "work or home" mode for …

Squawk Box: The Office

Well, I did it.  I finished The Office.

The Office had eluded me for years. It was one of those shows that I couldn't quite get into-- I tried a few times and just sort of petered out after half a season or so. I started fresh this time and stuck with it- and honestly, once you break through that first season or so, it's smooth sailing- especially once you get into the Jim and Pam of it all. And honestly, at this point I've seen so many GIF/memes and references to it online, it sort of felt incumbent upon me to actually sit down and watch the show, if for no other reason than to finally understand all the references for once.

I think the thing that blocked me the most was Michael Scott (Steve Carrell), especially in the early going. At first, he just seemed like an incompetent dick of a boss, who was so massive oblivious to modern workplace etiquette that you just thought there could be no possible way he would last in that position for as long as he had up until the show …

What I'd Tell My Nieces

Look, I'm a dude and if you're still processing the fact that five women have dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination and the sixth is technically still running but facing what I imagine to be really, really shitty math and don't want to hear from a dude right now- I get that. Don't read this post. Come back in a week or two and it'll still be here, I promise.

But here's the thing: I have not (as of yet) been blessed with a daughter, but I do have four nieces and the sackcloth and ashes routine that's going on in the wake of Elizabeth Warren's exit from the Presidential race is starting to piss me off a little bit. This:

Rachel @Maddow to @ewarren on her dropping out: “Feels a little bit like a death knell in terms of the prospects of having a woman president in our lifetimes." — Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) March 6, 2020 starting to piss mee off a little bit. Articles like these are starting to piss me…

Netflix & Chill #74: Last Christmas

Watched On: Redbox
Released: 2019
Directed By: Paul Feig
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Thompson, Boris Isakovic
Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer 46%, Audience Score 81%
Pick: The Missus'

Because we're parents, the Missus and I get to see many trailers for many movies that we say, "Oh man, we should go see that one" and that inevitably never happens, because life and kids. Occasionally, we'll get back around to one of them usually courtesy of Redbox or a streaming service- and Last Christmas turned out to be one of those movies.

The movie opens with Kate (Emilia Clarke) heading to her job as an Elf at an all-year Christmas shop in central London. The owner (Michelle Yeoh) calls herself Santa. She's also currently homeless having been thrown out by her flatmate. While at work, she notices a man outside the shop staring upwards- she talks to him and finds out his name is Tom. (Henry Golding)

After an unsuccessful audition, Kate sees Tom agai…

Welcome, Redditors

Well, this is a pleasant surprise to start the week with!

If you followed the link over here, welcome! It's a general mish-mash of all kinds of things that rattle around my brain-- in terms of writing related things--

I've got books out there in the world! My first two 'babies' are:

The Prisoner And The Assassin

The Arrows of Defiance

Just e-books for now, I want to get them back as print on demand paperbacks sometime this year.  Also, my third book The Last President is getting close to the finish line and I hope to have that out later this year.

Hey, did you like my response to this writing prompt? Lots of people told me I should write more of it-- and I've been trying to listen and figure out how and then I found out about r/redditserials, so expect The Adventures of Preston and Lark to pop up there sometime in the next couple of month- maybe even this month if I can get my act toget…

Bookshot #128: Shadow & Claw

Gene Wolfe has been on my list of authors to read for a long time. My parents used to have a copy of all these books, but somewhere along the way it vanished. I tried to pick it up from the library a couple of years ago and realized almost immediately that it was going to take far longer than two weeks to get through and finally, I just ended up snagging a volume with the first two novels, Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator (Entitled in their combined form as Shadow & Claw) and plunged into the magnum opus of the author many considered to be one of the best science fiction authors of the 20th Century.

The first book, Shadow introduces us to Severian who is an apprentice of the torturer' guild who nearly drowns when swimming the River Gyoll which runs through the great city of Nessus where the Autarch rules. On his way back to the Citadel where the Guild is located he and a few other apprentices sneak into a necropolis where he meets Vodalus, a revolutionary…

He Should Be Here

I've been trying to write this every year for the past ten years. There are some things you just can't put into words, which for someone who writes so damn much is kind of maddening. I'm not a big 'writing is therapy' kind of a guy- some people are all about that, but it's true: writing is therapy. Getting the words down on the page helps. For this, I've just never been able to do it.

So, two quotes:

"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

Hemingway is not my jam. There was always that period of time in college where you knew somebody that was obsessed with either Hemingway, Kerouac or Charles Bukowski. I was never one of those people. But this quote. Man, for this one- he gets it right.

"Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

Christ, I hate this quote. The language is so cold, clinical and detached. It's not wrong, of course- it's absolutely correct, but it doesn'…

Squawk Box: Undone/The Mandalorian

Squawk Box returns for February with a two-fer: Undone from Amazon Prime and of course, The Mandalorian from Disney Plus.

Undone caught my eye mainly for the animation-- made using rotoscoping, it looks absolutely gorgeous so I wanted to check it out. What I found wasn't just beautiful animation, but a tightly focused eight episode first season which explores the nature of reality. When Alma (Rosa Salazar) gets into a car crash, she discovers that she can navigate through time using the power of her mind. Her father, Jacob (Bob Odenkirk) appears to here and offers to teach her how to harnass this power to investigate his murder, reset the timeline and hopefully bring him back to life. Alma agrees and the two of them begin a reality warping journey through the moments of Alma's life trying to piece together what happened to her father back then and uncover the meaning of some family history and some secrets along the way.

In the meantime, the other people in Alma's life- ra…

Boozehound Unfiltered: Glen Moray

Boozehound Unfiltered is back for 2020!
So, before we get into the nitty-gritty of the Glen Moray 12-Year-Old Single Malt, I suppose I should digress a little and explain what I'm going to do going forward with this feature. A couple of birthdays ago, the Missus got me a set of Tiki Glasses. She then followed that up with Smuggler's Cove an excellent bible on all things Tiki (if perhaps slightly unhelpful for beginners in the Tiki Life). I've sort of decided to mitosis this feature up. Going forward, you should expect to see some Tiki-specific posts, some cocktail related posts and some straight-up reviews of bottles of whiskey and other goodies I pick up along the way.

As part of my general and annual New Year's Goal for better health, I'm going to be cutting back on my alcohol consumption as well. I used to be pretty good about only having a wee dram or a cocktail on my days off. That has turned into damn near a nightly thing, which isn't bad, per say- but it…

The Caucuses Weren't A Disaster They Just Played One On TV

Hey, here's a secret for all y'all...  the Iowa Caucuses actually went pretty well. Reporting the results is where it all went sideways. I wasn't particularly impressed by the State Party's Response and I was even less impressed with the DNC's response to all of this.

The Missus and I came out to caucus in Iowa City's 17th Precinct. 800 people showed up to caucus, so getting us all in there was something of a logisitical nightmare, but once things got going, they went pretty well and by 10pm, we were all done and dusted. Sanders and Warren cleared the first two rounds comfortably and we rallied enough Biden folks on the 2nd Alignment that we got Amy Klobuchar to viability by the end of the night.

Apart from being cornered by a Yang Ganger for a sales pitch (they had a decent contingent of people-- more than I expected to be honest) the experience was overall good. For all you can say about different ways of voting, caucuses do have their drawbacks, but I got to…

Netflix & Chill #73: Some Like It Hot

Watched On: Amazon Prime
Released: 1959 Starring: Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe Directed By: Billy Wilder Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer 95%, Audience Score 94% Pick: Mine

So I was searching for inspiration yesterday at work and tripped and fell down a rabbit hole of articles listing the 100 Best Movies on Netflix, then Amazon Prime and finally Hulu. And, on a whim- having decided that Aguirre, The Wrath of God would be a little too heavy for a Saturday afternoon, I went with another cinema classic: Some Like It Hot.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge cinema buff. I watch movies and over the years I've found 'classics' that just blow me away and that I currently own, somewhere. (Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion In Winter- Gandhi, if you want to count that one.) But when faced with a choice of ingesting the classics or watching whatever I feel like, I'm usually one to follow my Id and just watch what I feel like. Why then this sudden turn to classic …

This Week In Vexillology #301

Well, guess what? We've finally reached the end of our Lost Archives. It's taken us I don't know how long to get here, but we're down to the last official entry and a bonus one I stumbled across and thought would be a good idea.

Our first offering, comes to us courtesy of the Scottish Independence Referendum-- the prospect of Scotland leaving- and this was well before Brexit and the mess that followed- raised the interesting question: what was going to become of the Union Jack without Scotland? This 2014 article from the Atlantic floated several possible designs and these three were my favorite:

First, giving Wales some love. Wales is the only Constituent country of the United Kingdom not to be represented on the Union Jack. It's kind of hard to sneak a dragon in there, but as it turns out there are some pretty decent opportunities to get Wales in there. There's this one:
I kind of dig this one for it's simplicity. You're changing out blue and replacing…