01 October, 2007

Playing Dumb

As you can likely tell by the title of this blog, I have been often accused of feeling superior to others. This is partly true. But it also depends upon which criteria you are using. There have been many times I have been sitting in a classroom or meeting or social gathering and thought to myself "Man, I am really out of my element here". If it comes to almost any kind of home or automotive repair, I am almost completely inept. I got excited just because I was able to change my outlets and have them still work. To be fair, there are many other things I do feel I am "superior" in. Yet the point of this particular post is not to establish or unestablish (is that a word? It is now) my superiority over others. No, the point is, do I (or anyone else) have a responsibility to "act dumber" just to make others feel comfortable? I would argue no. While you should also not rub it in some one's face that you know more than them or can do something they can't you also shouldn't feel obligated to act like an idiot just to boost their ego. One of the problems with society today is that people are WAY too concerned with offending someone else. I have news for you. No matter what you do or say, someone, somewhere is going to be offended. We have a problem when the majority tries to appease the minority (and I am not talking about race here). It seems we are forced to appeal to the lowest common denominator. While it's fine to try and include as many people as possible it's really not fair for those who are "superior" to have to settle for mediocrity. Everyone should want to try to better themselves in at least one area of their life. Everyone should strive to be considered "superior" and not just be content to be one of the mindless, status quo masses. If that viewpoint makes me sound superior, well.... I can live with it.

25 September, 2007

Read this...and this

One of my favorite things to do in life is read. I would prefer to sit down with a good book almost more than anything (my wife will attest). As a result, I also like to share with others good books that I have read that perhaps they have either not heard of or not gotten the time to read. My main interests are fantasy and history although I have been known to read other things from time to time. If something is good, I'll likely read it regardless of what genre it belongs to. Thus, I would like to share a few titles I really enjoy. If you are looking for something to read you should try them out. In no particular order...
Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson. If you are not a "fantasy geek" you likely will find nothing here to whet your appetite. If you are, however, and you have not read any of this series (the Malazan Book of the Fallen) then you really need to jump on the bus. NOW. This series is incredible (I have just finished the 4th book). The world he has created is rich in detail and history, as well as being rather dark but enjoyable. Gardens of the Moon is the first, but for my money the best one(thus far) has been Memories of Ice, the third in the series. Rarely has an author made me care so much for his characters that by the end of the book it felt as if my heart would break (this is kind of a dark series, as I mentioned and I'll say no more so as not to ruin any surprises). Again, if you like fantasy, read these books!!
The Stand by Stephen King. If you think you don't like horror and/or Stephen King, this book will prove you wrong. It is considered by the large majority of King's fans to be his crowning achievement. I can't argue with that. I've read a lot of his books and this is by far the most moving. This book is not so much horror(though parts will keep you up at night) as it is a story of Good vs. Evil. The stakes are real and there is no middle ground. His character development is incredible and the story almost never lags. Check it out. And, by the way, I used to think I didn't like Stephen King either(based on the fact most of his movies suck) until I read Stephen King...
John Adams by David McCullough and Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Two books about two of my favorite "founding fathers". In fact, it's largely because of these two books that Adams and Hamilton are two of my favorites. You're probably thinking you would never read a "history book" because they are sooo dry and boring. You would be wrong. These narratives are more intriguing than the majority of fiction I've read in my life. If you didn't like my first two suggestions, try one of these two titles out at least.
I could list many more titles (and probably will in the future) but this will get you started for now. If you read one (or have already) let me know what you think. Enjoy!

24 September, 2007

Stop the Apostrophe!

I am not an English major. I do not know all the rules of grammar. I have no idea what a dangling participle is (though it sounds like something you could be arrested for if you were in public). All that said, I do know how to use an apostrophe. I thought pretty much everyone above grade school level did. Judging by the large number of signs abusing the apostrophe, however, I must assume I was laboring under a misconception. The most common use of the apostrophe is to denote possession, such as "Bill's car". It is also commonly used of course in a conjunction ( is not becomes isn't). Sadly, a growing number of the population seems to be falling in love with the use of the apostrophe, even some who clearly should know better. If you spent years in law school, you should know that you and your partner are not "Attorney's at Law". I'm pretty sure you are not possessors of the law. Or how about the car repair shop near my home with the sign "Mark's Toy's"? I have seen so many examples of the misuse of the apostrophe that it is driving me crazy. It is just indicative of the poor state of education in most of this country. Or maybe people just don't care if they look ignorant.

20 September, 2007

The Fall of Man

Autumn is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year. It's always been but I'm not really sure why. It could be the crisp air--cool, but not yet cold. Maybe it's watching the leaves change color (if you live somewhere that they do). It almost certainly has something to do with the beginning of football season. But I think deep down it just reminds me of my childhood. I am originally from New Orleans, where the seasons are 10 months of summer and 2 months of not quite winter. For about 7 years of my childhood, however (age 3 and up), we lived in Iowa. And, while I have lots of memories of that time, the best ones invariably seem to be of this time of year. I know most people view autumn as a time of things dying or, at the least, fading until spring. They don't look forward to winter and they desperately miss summer already. To me though this is the best time of year.
I'm also more of a night person. This probably says something about my personality...

19 September, 2007

Reasonable vs. unreasonable

A friend of mine e-mailed me a quote that got me thinking about a subject I almost wrote about previously. The quote is from George Bernard Shaw and it goes like this... "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. All progress, therefore, depends upon the unreasonable man." To me, most of America is the "reasonable" man. It's convenient to take the easy way. Most people are, sadly, like sheep. They have no real opinions of their own because they are afraid, in these politically correct times, to offend someone. They have no true interests of their own. They follow the masses in determining what they really like. If this weren't true, reality t.v. would have died out by now. Most people are eager to part of a mass consciousness. They fear being an outsider. So much so that they will sacrifice their own personalities on the altar of general opinion.
At first blush, it is easy for me to dismiss these people as stupid. But that's really not fair and really not accurate. It's not stupid to want to be part of something bigger than yourself. The problem, in my mind, comes when you are so eager you will become a part of anything even if it is something you would not normally be a part of. There are certain phenomena, tragedies, celebrations that bring us all closer together and that is for the best. But to watch a t.v. show or listen to certain bands or read that best selling book just because your neighbor tells you that you absolutely must is just wrong. I would argue that the problem with America is that people are too reasonable. They are too eager to let the will of the masses dictate society. At this point those of you that are politically inclined are crying foul, no doubt. Anyone who follows politics knows full well that, in that arena, it is the will of the few that controls all. That is a separate issue for another day for the purposes of this post.
Politics aside, most people just "go with the flow". Society is shaped not so much because a few people want it that way as much as it is that so many people do nothing about it. They may rail against it. They may be disgusted or appalled but, in the end, they will not actually do anything about it. You may have a right to say what you want and complain incessantly about things but if you never take steps to change it then you are really just part of the problem. I would much rather be a friend of the "unreasonable" man who strives to change the world. Hopefully for the better but, if not, it falls upon other "unreasonable" men to oppose them.

17 September, 2007

Top 5 Songs EVER

I don't like lists that rank things. But they sure are a quick way to piss people off and start heated debate (two of my favorite pastimes). My list of best songs ever probably would change depending on when I wrote this and what kind of mood I'm in (as I'm writing this I'm wondering if I should include "Brown-Eyed Girl" or not). So, I may not argue vehemently for this list since I'm not 100% sold myself but I am willing to argue nonetheless.
5. "Life in the Fast Lane"-- The Eagles. Try not to sing along to this song. I dare you. If you know even some of the words it's impossible. This song just rocks. Nothing else to say.
4. "Hey Jude"-- The Beatles. You can't have a top 5 list without a Beatles song. There may be other songs of theirs you'd put here but for me, this is the one. This song gets me every time. It's about taking a chance on love and the effect it has on you. How can you not like that?
3. "All Along the Watchtower"--Jimi Hendrix. Yes, I know this was originally a Bob Dylan song but 99% of America didn't. So while technically this is a cover it is one of the most bad ass songs ever. I'd be lying if I told you I knew what it was about but that just doesn't matter when you're listening to it. And for those of you who think you don't like Jimi Hendrix then you must not like songs with guitar playing in it because everyone that came after Jimi was influenced by Jimi.
2. "Stairway to Heaven"--Led Zeppelin. I tried not to put this on the list because it makes you seem like a poser. This song is on every one's list. But it's there for a reason. It's just plain awesome. I've heard people say there is a hidden Satanic message if you play this song backwards. If that's true then this song is even more awesome because they wrote a great song forward that really has a backwards message. How hard is that?
1. "American Pie"--Don McLean. You're asking yourself why. This is the only song on the list that I would defend to the last word. This song is like an epic poem put to music. I don't even like Buddy Holly(that's who the song is about) and yet it makes me feel. If you think this song doesn't belong you really need to lock yourself in a room and listen a few times. Seriously....
There are many bands I love that wouldn't make this list ever (Rush, Yes, Soundgarden) because this list is about individual songs that transcend time and genre. And no you can't put anything on this list less than 10 years old. If anybody tries to argue that someone like Nickelback should be on here, you're an idiot.

Why I hate USC

Let me preface my statements by first saying that I am a die hard fan of the LSU Tigers. No other team comes before the purple and gold. Mike the Tiger. Death Valley on a Saturday night. Hold that Tiger. Nothing else compares in my mind. Well, it's football season once again and the fires are burning bright again. USC is ranked number 1. I have no problem with that since I think preseason polls are a joke. The first polls shouldn't come until October thus avoiding embarrassment for teams like Auburn and Michigan (who people thought would be pretty good and aren't). So what is my beef with USC you might ask? I'm glad you did... They are pretenders to a throne they never lawfully sat upon.
You see, back when the BCS(Bowl Championship Series for the football acronym impaired) was first implemented the parameters were voted upon by all participants. In other words, all the AD's (athletic directors), coaches, college presidents, etc. agreed on how the system would work (the fact that it doesn't is a discussion for another day). Anyways, everyone agreed and that includes USC. Well, in 2003 there were 3 schools vying for one spot in the BCS national championship game -- LSU, USC, and Oklahoma. USC got left out (and for the record I think they got the shaft...Oklahoma didn't even win their own conference championship). But, none the less, USC got left out and LSU won the national championship game on the field. Fair enough, right? Everyone played within the confines of the system and LSU came out on top. Except that wasn't good enough for USC. The coaches poll voted them number one (why is there a coaches' poll? Who knows) So since then, USC would have you believe they have won 2 national championships this decade and played for a third. Yet, the year they won it on the field they were in no hurry to share their title with Auburn (who also went undefeated that year). So the truth is USC has won one on the field, got beat in another and never played for one in 2003. So they need to stop saying they did. It makes them look like the poor losers they are. I hope that somehow this blog is read by every member of the student body at USC, all their players and coaches, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinert. You all need to shut up about 2003.

The beginning...

I have considered starting a blog for a long time now but, as with many things in my life, I put it off. Until now (obviously). Why blog? To appease my ego? In part. Because I think I have something to say? Maybe. Perhaps for all those people who believed I would one day be a writer. Well, people, this is about as close as I'm likely to ever get. So enjoy.
I would like to pretend that I have some sort of plan laid out. I don't. I would try to convince you that I will follow a regular format. Not likely. I can't even guarantee that I will post with any regularity. Anyone who knows me will tell you I procrastrinate almost religiously. So, we will see what develops.... I am more than willing to discuss any topic with civilized, thoughtful individuals. If I write things that offend you, this blog is not for you. There is something in this world to offend everyone. If you want to read things that only make you feel peaceful and happy then, by all means, go find a blog that does that for you. This is not it. So, please, don't write me telling me you were offended by something I said. You have been warned....
Anyways, here's to a new beginning. Let's hope it's not a complete disaster.