There’s an interesting thing that happens when the house is full of people, my ability to write blog posts essentially goes away completely. Part of that is because we don’t advertise the blogs to my 16-year-old stepdaughter because of some of the content on OS’s blog; and part of it is that with people around there are simply too many other things to do.
DAYS ago I was tagged by Tiffany to complete a meme, and I’ve been incredibly slow in getting it done even though I’ve actually been thinking it over and writing up answers piecemeal every morning. What follows is the order I answered the questions, including my revision and “final answers” once I thought about it, pretty much unfiltered. And Long. Sorry guys, this is what happens when I write in chunks day after day…lots and lots of nothing all strung together.
6a. What’s your guilty pleasure?
My Xbox360. I ended 2009 completely addicted to Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age Awakening, and then moved on to Bioshock 2, then Halo: Reach, then I backtracked to Halo: ODST to get my Halo: Waypoint career up to spec, then I bought Fallout 3: GOTY and fell in love with Fallout all over again. I’ll probably write up a review just of that (since I played it on PC first and discovered that I am now a complete convert to console gaming), but Fallout 3 has CONSUMED me for almost two months. For Christmas I got Fallout Vegas (which will be a new addiction) as well as several games that I passed over in the last couple of years that had now become more economically priced (Assassin’s Creed II and Batman: Arkham Asylum for example) and I’ve got many hours of fun ahead of me.
I should point out that I get in about 10 hours of XBOX a week, give or take. Some weeks I crank in much more, especially on weekends, but for the most part it’s a hobby and not an addiction. For example, I haven’t turned the XBOX on since the girls got here, and I doubt I’ll play it again until after they leave. There’s just too much else to do, and that’s a good thing…but as pleasures go, I often feel guilty about playing what is essentially a solo experience on the 24″ HD monitor in my office.
2a. Favorite pre-1960 movie.
Easy, “The Great Escape”…which came out in 1963…damn. Ok, then “The Thomas Crown Affair” (seeing a Steve McQueen theme?)…nope, that was 1968, which throws me because I think of Thomas Crown as coming out before Great Escape…ok, then “Lawrence of Arabia”…crap, 1962…how about “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”???…nope, 1966…Gregory Peck’s MASTERPIECE “To Kill a Mockingbird”???…nope, 1962. DAMN, do I wish I’d lived in the 60s or what?
Hummm…ok, let’s jump back a generation and think pre-war Hollywood.
Oh. No question.
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman with a perfect cast including Peter Lorre who went on to pretty much KILL in everything he was ever in, including “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” which is probably my no. 2 pre-1960 movie.
What’s stunning about watching Casablanca today, is the timing of it. Written before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the movie is essentially an indictment of American isolationism in the face of Germany’s march west on two continents. Rick-the-capitalist-american’s journey is the journey of “not my problem” America becoming “this is worth dying for” America. He starts out as a disinterested and borderline-cynical capitalist running a casino in a place where only local politics are his concern, and he is dragged (back) into a world where resistance is the only moral choice.
It’s a romantic movie that isn’t about the hero “getting the girl in the end” but about “the hero doing the right thing in the end, even at a high cost to himself.” This lesson was not lost on the audiences of the day, and it shouldn’t be lost on later generations who watch it long after the contextual events are consigned to the unread chapters of history textbooks.
In 1941, when Casablanca was being written and filmed, America collectively knew that freedom had an enemy, and that enemy was sweeping across Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific…but we had not yet come to grips with the mountain left to climb. England was barely clinging hope night after night as the blitz rained down and the rest of western Europe was firmly in Axis hands, nearly the whole of the Pacific theater was dominated by the mighty Japanese navy, and Hitler was so confident that he was pushing the battle to the very gates of Moscow and Stalingrad.
Bombs had not yet rained down on the USS Arizona and the rest of the American Pacific Fleet, the “day that will live in infamy” speech had not yet rallied a nation to war, Midway was still a long way away, and “the Normandy invasion” was still what William the Conqueror did to England in 1066.
Before Casablanca, sitting on the sidelines was still an option for America in World War II, and the movie had a simple message about inaction…about not getting on the plane. To quote Rick, “If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not on it, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”
A generation listened. They got on the plane.
1a. Favorite holiday TV special, Christmas or not.
Even though it’s not really a “special” but a regular ol’ movie, Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” staring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye…Danny Kaye…oh yeah…
2b. Favorite pre-1960 movie.
I wish Casablanca was my favorite pre-1960 movie, or something else profound like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” or one of a half-dozen wonderful movies by Hitchcock (“Vertigo” and “North by Northwest” are also favorites)…but it’s not.
My favorite pre-1960 movie is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” from 1947 staring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. It’s ostensibly an adaptation of the James Thurber story of the same name…but Thurber was so frustrated by the changes to accommodate Kaye’s comedy style that he had his name removed from the credits.
Which is too bad, because the movie is marvelous. It’s funny, and charming, and sweet, and Danny Kaye is a musical genius. Sadly, it’s not currently available on DVD, and my VHS tape copy wore out years ago. I’m constantly scoping netflix to see if a new version is coming out, but as of yet, no luck.
Is it important, or thought provoking, or even inspiring? Not really, except as it relates to the power of imagination and storytelling. Which are important things, but not really among the most profound messages to come out of Hollywood in the 40’s…but I love it, and I guess that’s all that matters.
3. Most embarrassing moment of the year 2010.
I’m not yet prepared to write about my most embarrassing moment in 2010, but I’ll share my second-most embarrassing moment:
At a corporate function early in April of 2010 I was sitting at a large table with several close co-workers as well as a handful of new additions to our sales and marketing teams. The conversation was freewheeling and was largely driven by the “talkers” at the table (including myself) who were all road tested friends and co-workers with a couple of years together under our belts, traveling together and working together over long hours and long flights. We knew each other well, and the conversation flowed in and out of personal topics with ease.
As a group, the talkative old-timers included the nephew of a Catholic Bishop, the son of an Evangelical minister, a Shiite Muslim, a devout Hindu, a notoriously lax Buddhist; and myself, a fourth generation Seventh-Day Adventist who has left the Adventist Church and now has a difficult time defining and identifying a faith which floats in some kind of “Zen Catholic” miasma of unresolved beliefs.
As a group, we’re all A-Type personalities who tend to talk enthusiastically and in declarative statements. When discussing how I grew up in Boise, Idaho during a time when it was called “Little Salt Lake” as an Adventist, we started discussing the similarities and differences between Adventism and Mormonism for those at the table without a real understanding of the specifics of either faith (several people thought they were basically the same faith). I ended up using a comparative analogy that ended with the phrase “that’s the difference between adventist-crazy and mormon-crazy.”
In retrospect, it comes as NO surprise that the quiet new sales manager for the southwest region sitting next to me was born and raised in Provo, Utah…and that he served as the bishop for his local stake. Which I found out when the new sales manager for Texas asked him where he was from, no more than ten seconds after my words and the resulting chuckles had left our lips.
I could have died right there from a consuming pillar of burning shame.
I will explain to the internets how I am not a bigoted bastard with exactly the same explanation I gave to him, at that table.
When we moved to Boise in the very early 80’s, the total population of the treasure valley couldn’t have been more than 200,000 souls, with about half of those actually IN Boise. This is a stunning fact when one considers that the Treasure Valley metro area is now something like three-quarters of a million people, but I digress…
Of the 200K people, I’d estimate that half were Mormon, a third were Catholic, and the remaining fifteen percent were miscellaneous evangelical with a strong Nazarene presence, especially around Northwest Nazarene College outside of Nampa.
In the neighborhood I grew up in, there was my family, the Catholic family across the street, and the adventist family that lived six blocks away who’s kids I went to school with. Beyond that, as far as we could ride our bikes in any direction in a day (and I’m talking miles), every family was Mormon. Over the years I lived there (my parents still live in that house, I left for boarding school at 14) two other adventist families moved in within biking distance, and another Catholic family moved in at the end of the block next door to the stake house…but everyone else that came and went were Mormon.
Let me tell you something about Mormons, they make great neighbors. They’re quiet, they mow their lawns and wash their cars, they participate in community government, they build good fences, their kids are generally respectful and well behaved, and they care deeply about their families, their homes, their communities, and the people they live near.
There’s something else the Mormons are good at, spreading the word. Every Saturday afternoon from 1982 until…well, now…a teen-aged believer would politely knock on my parent’s door, introduce himself and ask if he could share his faith with us for a few minutes. I’m pretty sure we were on the “preparing for mission” practice list. They would be given a cookie or other small snack, a drink if they were thirsty, and then we would all sit with them in the formal sitting room on my mom’s antique chairs and listen to them share.
Sometimes they did pretty well, sometimes they were a stumbling mess, on a couple of occasions they even broke down crying or dissolved into uncontrollable hysterical laughter. But we always listened, smiled, thanked them for their heartfelt message, and then we’d make small talk with them for a few minutes and send them on their way.
I had been given at least a dozen copies of “The Book of Mormon” and “The Pearl of Great Price” by the time I left for Boarding school, and I’d read both of them cover to cover at least once. PoGP is terribly dry to a teen-ager who isn’t Mormon, but I figured if I was going to talk with the kids that came by every week, I may as well know where they were coming from. TBoM is MUCH more interesting, and the pictures reminded me of the religious artwork that hung in Adventist churches and church offices, and I found the themes and depictions strangely compelling.
I have a lot of respect for Mormon thought and philosophy. The concept of the Mormon couplet that goes “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, so shall man become” speaks very much to my personal belief in the progression of consciousness and cosmic origins.
Adventists and Mormons have a lot in common. We both have a strong belief in a modern day prophet that founded our faiths, a special calling as a group that marks us out as special and individual even when surrounded by a society of “non-believers,” and we share many behavior taboos that were born out of the temperance movements of the early 1800s (restrictions on smoking, drinking, and caffeinated beverages for example). On many occasions growing up I was told that I “would make a good Mormon” and I never once took that as anything but a compliment.
While I am not a member of that faith, I’m probably as close to it as a gentile can be. Which is why I tend to think of it with a sense of familiarity very close to the familiarity with which I think of the Adventism that I grew up in. While familiarity might breed contempt, I really have no contempt for either faith (beyond the elements of Adventist church government that I find overtly contemptible for specific and personal reasons that have NOTHING to do with the general body of Adventist believers).
While it hardly excuses my behavior, my use of the word “crazy” in the context of either faith was meant with the affection that one refers to one’s own “crazy” family, and not as and indictment of either faith.
To my great relief, the Mormon gentleman sitting next to me knew exactly how I meant it, and wasn’t offended at all. We ended up talking for more than an hour about Park City and Saint George Utah (two of my favorite places), skiing on the Wasatch Front compared to Bogus Basin and Brundage in Idaho, and about his youngest brother’s mission to England compared to his own time living in London several years ago.
Discussions about London brought up one of my most beloved topics, BBC Television…
6b. What’s your guilty pleasure?
…Actually, there’s something I love even more than my XBOX. I love British Television. I watch hardly any television anymore, six sitcoms (How I Met Your Mother, Rules of Engagement, 2.5 Men, Mike and Molly, The Big Bang Theory, $h*! My Dad Says) and two dramedys (Castle and Glee) for a grand total of five hours of TV a week, less if there are re-runs.
I used to be a TV-holic, consuming at least six hours a night and twenty-plus on the weekends. I don’t know if I changed, or if TV changed, or if it’s just a little of both (actually, I blame the advent of Reality TV) but I have a hard time with most of what gets broadcast today and I live and die by my DVR.
If I lived in England, I’d still be a TV-holic. Doctor Who, Eastenders, Top Gear, Primeval, Sherlock, Being Human, Skins, The Graham Norton Show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, What About the Buzzcocks…the list of shows I LOVE goes on and on and on.
What’s great about the BBC is that they know how to make a day of television. For example, this is the trailer for the Christmas Day broadcasts:
So good I found the background music artist on iTunes. Because I’m a nerd that way.
Ah…Matt Smith as the Doctor…such a nice surprise…which reminds me…
1b. Favorite holiday TV special, Christmas or not.
Yeah, “White Christmas” is great…but what I REALLY love is the annual Doctor Who Christmas Special. This year was the first time the special was broadcast ON CHRISTMAS by BBC America and my whole family was front and center. And it rocked. I’ll write another post someday about my lifetime love for Doctor Who…but for today I’ll just leave it at “LOVED IT.”
4. Do you love football in the snow as much as I do?
If it’s the Seahawks playing the Rams for the Playoffs while I sit on a comfy couch with a beer in one hand and a plate of little smokies covered in BBQ sauce in the other…then yes. If it’s ME scrabbling for a rock hard ball in ankle deep crystallized precipitation while enduring sub-freezing temperatures, then decidedly NO.
Actually I think of Football as an end of summer sport, played in the heat and resulting in grass stains and a shattered hand (I broke three carpel bones, six metacarpals, and two phalanges…but that’s a story for another time).
I miss summer. Warmth, sun, barbecues and fireworks on the fourth of July…
1c. Favorite holiday TV special, Christmas or not.
Dammit. I was wrong again. My favorite holiday special is listening to the Boston Pops 4th of July concert on the radio on a blanket at Fort Vancouver Park and then watching the largest fireworks display west of the Mississippi when the sun goes down. They show it on TV, but it’s better to be there in person.
5. Do you think people that sweeten their coffee with honey are totally weird? Or are you ONE OF THEM?
In the occasional mexican mocha, sure…but I prefer my honey in my Chai Tea. My coffee sweetener of choice is Raw Sugar and a splash of Toriani Carmel or Hazelnut syrup.
6c. What’s your guilty pleasure?
After I started writing this, I discovered my newest and bestest guilty pleasure. It’s called Minecraft and it has a hold on me that cocaine or meth could only dream of achieving (that’s a purely theoretical drug reference btw, I’ve never touched an illegal substance in my life TYVM). I now find myself looking at the tile in my bathroom and envisioning how to carve it into complex shapes and chambers…and I dream at night of diamond and redstone ore rendered in beautiful pseudo-8-bit glory.
It’s simple in both visuals and concept, and it represents the best that indy gaming can aspire to be.
I’ve spent HOURS playing a low-tech game with a simple premise, and almost as many hours surfing the “Minepedia” for tutorials and guides.
I’m not even able to explain WHY I love it so much, I just do. It appeals to both my creative side and my adventure side. Part role-playing, part world-building, part farming/mining/crafting sim…
I’ve wandered deserts and tundra, delved under mountains and lakes, explored places that look like the floating mountains from Avatar, delved into deep and hidden dungeons, and once I hunted down zombies with snowballs. I’ve grown forests of trees for wood and fields of wheat for bread, I’ve fenced in cows and chickens for milk and eggs, and I’ve even saddled up a pig and charged into battle wearing a golden helmet and wielding a diamond sword.
I’m looking forward to making a minecart roller-coaster, electrical doors, and timer circuits to trap skeletons and spiders…and I haven’t even begun to play it multiplayer…
7. Would you video tape yourself dancing to cheesy 80′s music? Please? No, seriously, please? Name the song!
Wang Chung’s “Dance Hall Days” would be my song of choice (thanks TB), but will I videotape it and post it on the interwebs? Maybe if I find the perfect wizard-of-oz themed costume or ugly sweater (watch the video linked on TB’s post if you didn’t get that joke).
BONUS QUESTION: Who was the last person you drunk-dialed, and what were the circumstances?
My wife. The circumstances were simple, I was at a company retreat, and had consumed WAY too much company-paid-for alcohol (and I wasn’t even in the top ten drinkers list). I had an appointment to call home and wish Dude a good night at his bedtime, and call I did. Then I fell asleep for 12 hours. Wasn’t THAT exciting?
[*Eyes the LONG scroll of paragraphs stretching back for miles…*]
Well then, like I said, that’s what happens when I write for a couple of hours a day over more than a week; nearly 3500 words semi-randomly strung together and repeatedly rehashing the same topics over and over. This is why I edit…
Oh well, not this time.
[Word Count: 3402]