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Category: Daylog

Hecking Hills

Labor Day always feels like the liminal point between summer and fall, despite, as of this writing, fall still being three weeks away. And also despite this disgruntled Earth currently basting its idiot children.

I spent this Labor Day weekend in a cabin in Hocking Hills, for a Birthday in the Woods celebration for my friend D. This was my first time in Hocking Hills, and it was an altogether enjoyable experience. My phone lost its signal a few miles away from the destination, and that was before I drove into what felt like a forested hole in the ground. Eventually the narrow, muddy road led to a clearing, in which stood two luxuriously appointed cabins.

I spent most of my time drinking and sweating with some excellent co-celebrants. And since the general theme was summer camp, we even made friendship bracelets. Beautiful, profane friendship bracelets.

Not fully certain the cabin-in-the-woods life is for me, but it was a pleasant way to spend a hot, not-quite-fall weekend, celebrating a friend.

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Leaving San Diego

I returned home yesterday from a brief excursion to San Diego.  Ohio, in truly reliable fashion, greeted me with a snow-covered windshield that required scraping.

Leaving San Diego, one of my favorite cities, is never easy. I love it at any time of the year, but especially so in winter. The perpetual glow of the sun and moderate temperatures is rejuvenating, and is a marked contrast to Ohio in January. San Diego is also home to one of my favorite humans, which doesn’t make leaving any easier.

A few highlights:

Caught a double feature at the Digital Gym, and both films were quite good.  The first was a bonkers Chinese horror film called ZOMBIOLOGY: ENJOY YOURSELF TONIGHT, which featured a gigantic chicken mascot that could shoot eggs that exploded heads, and somehow also turned people into zombies.  The second was the charmingly violent and funny TURBO KID, a clever film that plays like if ’80s-era Steven Spielberg had directed MAD MAX ON BMX BIKES.  If TURBO KID sounds familiar, like it did to me, it’s because it’s been — or at least was — on Netflix for some time. If it’s still on there, it’s definitely worth a watch.

Also went to the San Diego Museum of Man to take in their excellently-staged Cannibals: Myth & Reality exhibit. The topic was already intriguing, because cannibals, but the presentation and flow were top-notch and really drew you in.  Favorite bits include:

  • Real-life incidents where folks were forced to eat each other, or were faced with that decision, because Not Eating Your Friends and Family would otherwise spell certain doom;
  • The Cannibal Tribe trope, AKA “all brown-skinned people already living in lands ‘discovered’ by European explorers are deemed cannibals because the dehumanization of indigenous populations makes enslaving and slaughtering those populations all the more palatable”; and
  • The Oregon Trail-like game Donner Trail.

We also got a quick tour of the shop where the exhibits are built and accidentally met the Post Secret guy, who it turns out is really nice.

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And on my last night in town, dinner was acquired at the nearby Viejas Casino buffet. I have sampled many fine buffets in my day, but this was by far the best.  I gorged on prime rib and desserts, and, since all-you-could-drink alcohol was included in the price, I accompanied the food with champagne. Delicious and decadent. A perfect way to end the trip.

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Here We Go Again

Ringing in the new year like…

Hah. Or something like that.

The transition from 2017 to 2018 has been a quiet one for me. I have either a head cold, unhinged allergies, or a sinus issue, or some charming combination thereof. So tonight I’m staying in, sucking down cough drops like it’s my job, and watching the terribly bad but entertaining THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER. Don’t be jealous.

I haven’t been a total hermit today. Went out earlier with friends for a fancy steak dinner and some time at the casino, where I played blackjack and ended the evening $190 ahead. This was my first time playing blackjack at a casino, and even had I lost my precious monies, it would still have been more entertaining than feeding pennies into the greedy maws of the slot machines. Las Vegas is in my future next summer, so I’m looking forward to losing my savings at blackjack, then trying to win it all back at “Guess a Number Between One and Ten” in some rinky-dink casino, just like Clark W. Griswold. Does anyone else remember VEGAS VACATION, other than me and Nate?

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2017 has been by all accounts a long, bizarre year. I feel like I say some variation of that every year, but damn it, this time I really mean it. I’m not even going to try to collect and summarize my thoughts about the abysmal political and social landscape that’s dominated 2017, except to say: (1) in respect to all things politics, 2017 can fuck right off; (2) my picture appeared in the local newspaper; and (3) I am still emotionally abusing Chrome’s Word Replacer extension by making it replace a certain person’s name with “My Ass,” and thus making my eyes bleed a little less when I read the news. So to paraphrase the meme, Word Replacer is the real MVP.

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According to my comprehensive authors spreadsheet, I read 22 books in 2017 (not counting graphic novels), down slightly from 25 in 2016. I would like to get that number closer to 30, but we’ll see. Life is a lot busier than it was, which I am not unhappy about. Still: it’s good to have goals.

Favorite book from 2016 was Michael Swanwick’s NOT SO MUCH, SAID THE CAT. Swanwick is a wonderful novelist, yes, but he is also one of the finest short story writers alive, and with this collection he again demonstrates why.

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2017, for me at least, is ending on a relatively high note. 2018 may be worse or it may better, but despite my occasionally affected cynicism, I remain a cautious optimist. No resolutions this year, except to read more books, eat better, and drink more wine.

Here we go again. Strap in. Happy New Year.

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The Main Event

I am woefully behind in writing here (again), as I prepare to leave for Florida (again). It’s been an insanely busy but amazing couple of months. The downside of doing fun things is that I am not good at making to time to write about them. And when I have been writing, it’s been to work on a short story (tentatively titled “The Bear and the Cyborg”).

Mostly wanted to post some pictures taken two weekends ago at THE MAIN EVENT, a celebration/fundraiser I attended benefiting the newly-built main branch of the Dayton Metro Library. The library was done up to the nines, even if it is still unfinished inside, but that just it a little more flavor. There were various performances, musical and otherwise, live art, and other entertainment spread across three floors, along with a lot of hors d’oeuvres and booze. So much booze.

DML has a bunch of other photos documenting the festivities here. It was an excellent time spent with some of my favorite people. 5/5, would go again.

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Music and Sunshine

I’ve been trying to spend more time writing fiction-y things instead of blogging (like I already do so much, haha), since the creative energy expended here, while fun, does not further my longer-term goals, and I only have so much of it. Still, my memory is such shit that even though I take a lot of pictures when I do stuff, if I don’t contextualize them with some kind of narrative, however brief, I will find myself looking back on the photos with a foggy sense of, Well, that looked like a fun time, and that will be about the extent of it.

Anyhow, two Fridays ago I drove to St. Louis with Nate to see the Lillingtons and Even in Blackouts play. These are two bands whom I love but who both disbanded back in the Aughties, and got back together for this show. It was also billed as John Jughead Pierson’s — formerly of Screeching Weasel and sorta-currently of Even in Blackouts — 50th birthday shindig, but I am not 100% sure this was the main reason for the reunion. Regardless, the show was fantastic, and I’m so happy we made the trek. I saw the Lillingtons play, once, about 17 or 18 years ago in Dayton, at the long-defunct Club Safari, but it was great to see them again. This was my first time seeing Even in Blackouts perform, and I was not disappointed.

Here’s a shot of EiB performing. Not pictured: me sweating my ass off.

I got back from St. Louis Saturday afternoon, then flew out to Tampa on Sunday morning to visit friends, including my erstwhile travel copilot Kat. Did the beach one day, then drove over to Orlando to do Universal Studios for a day — and by “day” I mean “all fucking day” — then back home on Wednesday. It was a short but excellent trip. Couldn’t have asked for better weather or company, and I didn’t even get sunburnt. Lovely week all-around.

Above two photos were taken at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

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Standing with Planned Parenthood

On Saturday morning a “Nationwide Rally to Defund Planned Parenthood” was staged, so of course I had to attend the counter-protest being held at the same time.

Their opponents would paint them as solely being provider of abortions, which is why they want the organization “defunded.” Setting aside the moral argument for a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body, along with the facts that federal dollars don’t go towards abortions, and that abortion isn’t even a service provided at the Dayton clinic, there is demonstrable evidence that the types of valuable preventive services and education Planned Parenthood offer leads to fewer abortions.

I have several friends who, without Planned Parenthood, would not have been able to get the routine services they needed. So I was happy to come out Saturday and support Planned Parenthood, even though I would much prefer that such a thing not be necessary.

Also, since I was near the front of the protest and was carrying a sign with a clearly visible, non-profane message, my smiling face showed up in the local news.

My immediate reaction upon seeing the picture was relief that I’d taken the time to make sure my sign’s kerning was decent.

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Leia Organa: A Critical Obituary

I was out at lunch with friends yesterday, and the topic of Carrie Fisher and her very unexpected passing came up. That conversation reminded me of an obituary that was published, not for Fisher herself — who, in accordance with her wishes, was said to have drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra — but for a certain character she is famous for playing.

It’s a fitting tribute, I think, to Carrie Fisher, and honestly one of the more interesting STAR WARS-related things written in years.

Leia Organa: a Critical Obituary:

Leia Organa, the politician and revolutionary who led the defeat of the Galactic Empire, died after a short illness. She was 60 years old. Hers was a life laced with controversy concerning everything from her tactics to her very ancestry, but her intelligence, commitment to the Republican cause, and place at the heart of the Rebellion, and later the Resistance against Neo-Imperialism, remains the indisputable core of her legacy.

[…]

The Organa Doctrine identified the path to victory, but the woman herself remained on the front line, rarely pausing for conferences with Alliance intelligence droids. This may have contributed to the ambiguous reception she received in the post-Imperial era, as she didn’t emerge with the political influence accorded leaders like Mon Mothma . While they directed large scale operations (often per Organa’s theories and recommendations) she led covert operations on numerous worlds. She worked under deep cover as the bounty hunter Boussh, and during Galactic Concordance negotiations at the end of the war, admitted that during this period, she personally assassinated Hutt leader Jabba Desilijic Tiure. […]

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Another Year

We’re several days into the new year, but there’s still time for a little introspection on the year that was. And what a weird year it was.

2016 had some high points, but it had a lot more low points, and one really, really low point.

From a “me” perspective, though, I can’t complain. (And I realize how fortunate I am to be able to say that.) I’m still working out on a regular basis, which at this point is just habit. I still have a job that I enjoy, and that enables me to be able to travel and see friends and family. I spent time in New Orleans, Kansas City, England, France, and Austin, and probably somewhere else I’m forgetting. A major highlight was visiting England. I could easily have spent several more weeks (or months) there.

I wasn’t going to talk about the election, but it’d be hard to reflect on 2016 without mentioning it. Especially since my personal reaction to the outcome was not great, a reaction which honestly caught me off-guard. I think it was a combination of politics fatigue leading up to the election, and then legitimate surprise that CASE NIGHTMARE ORANGE actually happened. Also throw in the onset of the cold and sunless days, and, well, things were a little bleak for a while. What helped get me to the other side was taking some small, concrete steps to help support civil liberties, adding Mike Turner’s phone number to my contacts, and using Chrome’s Word Replacer extension in a possibly immature but amusing fashion.

Looking ahead: I’m not really a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, since I think trying to effect major lifestyle changes on an arbitrary date is not a great way to set one’s self up for success. That said, I do have some general goals this year. Fine-tune my fitness, specifically focusing on stretching, so my muscles don’t one day get so tight that they snap like an overburdened tree branch. Travel more, even though I will likely remain stateside this year. There are friends that need a-visiting. Though I can feel my passport getting restless already, so who knows. I slacked off on writing this last year, so I’d like to renew that effort. I have a couple of short story ideas that have been marinating for a few months, and the Thing That Threatens to Become a Novel has been crying out for more attention.

2017 will not be a boring year. It won’t be easy, either, but then it never is. Be kind to yourself, and to others, in the year ahead. I’ll see you on the other side.

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Beauty and the Beast

Just hum the words to “Beauty and the Beast” to yourself while you watch this gif of a Russian hockey player and a figure skater together at Russian hockey league all-star game a couple of years ago.

Beauty and the Beast – Kovalchuk and Morozov Figure Skating for the KHL All Star game

[via Wil Wheaton]

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