Monday, June 29, 2009

Notes From the West Coast

I'm sorry about the long delay. R.A. and I got back last night from a ten-day trip to the West Coast, which included San Francisco, a wedding in Bodega Bay, two days and a Shakespeare play in Ashland, two nights in Bend to do the laundry, a visit to my sister and brother-in-law (and dog) in Hood River, and then a morning flight out of PDX. Pretty whirlwind, actually, and I probably could have done with a little less time in the back of the truck. But we got to see a lot of California via car, which is my favorite way to see it, and we even got to see the Sacramento Bird and Wildlife Refuge.

Throughout the entire trip, R.A. and I kept coming up with fantasy scenarios for our future. We'll move to San Francisco, start up a small publishing company, publish the works of all our friends and other obscure poets and Wittgensteinians. R.A. will get her Ph.D. at Berkeley, and I'll help raise money for the local nonprofit dance and ballet scene. We'll buy a ranch outside of Sebastapol, buy some llamas and raise and breed corgies to pay the mortgage. We'll rent an old cottage on the outskirts of Ashland, attract a following of young university students and teach them all a new religion that contains elements of Voodoo Catholicism, the mythology of the Shasta-Achomoawi Indian tribes, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. At night, we'll go out and rob graves in order to open a portal to the underworld and undo all bonds forever.

Probably shouldn't have told you that last one.

"The Owl Doctor":

The prairie falcon made war on the northerners and was killed. Coyote claimed to be a medicine man and was the first to doctor him. He was merely a pretender who wanted to obtain pay. Then others, all owls, doctored him. Hihina, the large owl, sodut, the white owl, wedjiji, the ground owl, and hihimcha, the small owl, were the ones who doctored him. It was the white owl that cured him.
Hawk is skeptical of this plan.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

We Should Invade Indiana

I am such a dork. I think that this ad, by Nike, is the coolest thing ever:

It combines my appreciation for baseball, crazy-made up maps, and early American history. I especially love how most of the West - including Eastern Oregon - is still "unincorporated territory." Also that the White Sox country is completely surrounded by the Cubs. (But since when did the Cubs colors include orange?)

Sadly, with the Lakers up 2-0 now, I have turned my full attention to baseball. Of course, that hasn't been much better for me, with the ChiSox playing like a bunch of lollygaggers so far this season.

And even the early promise of a Kansas City - Pittsburgh World Series has faded, with the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Phillies all rising to the top of their respective divisi0ns. I am probably in the minority when I say that a Royals-Bucs final would be good for Major League Baseball: Two older franchises, with strong histories but who haven't won in a while, two struggling, mid-west cities that could use the marketing and economic attention, etc. But, no. Everyone in the front offices at the MLB just want the big money match-ups. Thinking about it, I think the following is the ideal situation for MLB in terms of viewership:

NLDS: Mets vs. Cubs, Dodgers vs. Phillies
ALDS: Yankees vs. Angels, Red Sox vs. White Sox
NLCS: Cubs vs. Dodgers
ALCS: Yankees vs. Red Sox
WS: Yankees vs. Dodgers

Of course, I'm sure they wouldn't mind a Cubs-Red Sox Series. But with NY-LA, you're guaranteed to get that West Coast viewing market.

So with that in mind, I proudly present the worst possible match-ups:

NLDS: Rockies vs. Reds, Pirates vs. Nationals
ALDS: Mariners vs. Rays, Royals vs. Orioles
NLCS: Rockies vs. Pirates
ALCS: Rays vs. Royals
WS: Rockies vs. Royals

(Sigh) A boy can dream, can't he?

Monday, June 8, 2009

I Want to be a Paperback Writer

Every now and then, when I'm roaming the aisles of a Borders or a Barnes & Noble, I come across one of those promotional aisles for new fiction. They're usually prominently displayed, and are arranged in a style of "if you liked X, then you'll love Y!" Most recently, these shelves have been stocked with various Twilight ripoffs, like Chosen: A House of Night Novel:

Chosen: A House of Night Novel (House of Night Novels)

Or Frostbite: A Vampire Academy Novel:

book cover of  Frostbite   (Vampire Academy, book 2) by Richelle Mead

These kind of generic brand drugs are sure to be able to ride the coattails of the Twilight books just enough to sell oh-so-many copies as to be profitable. This kind of false branding is as old as advertising itself*, but it's only been since the Harry Potter books that I began to notice it in publishing. But this model of book-making isn't nearly as exciting as what I like to call the "Frankenstein" method of book writing. For example, I just now came across an internet ad for the new bestseller, The Last Patriot, by Brad Thor.

The Last Patriot
On its product description, The Last Patriot describes itself as follows:

In a pulse-pounding, adrenaline-charged tour de force, Navy SEAL turned covert Homeland Security operative Scot Harvath must race to locate an ancient secret that has the power to stop militant Islam dead in its tracks.

This is awesome. It's like writing your best-seller along the lines of Mad Libs. It's like cobbling together your own book out of the used parts of a John Grisham novel, The Da Vinci Code, and the inside of Glenn Beck's mind.**

I mean, just try it yourself:

In a (adjective), (adjective) (noun), (profession) turned (adjective) (profession) (name) must race to (verb) an ancient (noun) that has the (noun) to (verb) (adjective) (noun) in its (plural noun).

Try this:

In an intelligent, lucid thriller, water polo player turned famed symbiologist Robert Langdon must race to break an ancient code that has the potential to ensnare the corrupt Catholic Church in its lies.


In a brilliant, breathtaking conclusion, orphan turned heroic wizard Harry Potter must race to recover an ancient artifact that has the ability to defeat the evil Death-Eaters in their final conflict.


In a sexy, swashbuckling adventure, ne'er-do-well turned captain Edward Reynolds must race to recover an ancient rod that has the potency to endow the bloodthirsty pirate Stagnetti with the largest saber in the Caribbean.

See? It works for everything.

* And not just in advertising products. In 2004, pro-Russian factions in Ukraine ran Viktor Yanukovych in the Presidential election, partly because his pro-West opponent was named Viktor Yushchenko. The politicians were hoping that the similarity of the two candidates names would confuse voters, and cause many of them to mistakenly vote for Yanukovych instead of Yushchenko.

** I'm not kidding, either. Here is the transcript of an interview between Beck and Thor. (Which, if it had been a conversation between the 90's alternative rocker and the ancient Norse god of thunder, would have been awesome.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Late-Night Jungian Personality Test

I do this every once in a while. I think it's interesting how it changes over time; five years ago I used to be considerably higher in "judging" and lower in "perceiving."

Extroverted (E) 69.44% Introverted (I) 30.56%
Intuitive (N) 75% Sensing (S) 25%
Thinking (T) 56.41% Feeling (F) 43.59%
Perceiving (P) 63.64% Judging (J) 36.36%

ENTP - "Inventor". Enthusiastic interest in everything and always sensitive to possibilities. Non-conformist and innovative. 3.2% of the total population.
Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)

I also think it's interesting how big Jung is lately. At Open Court, we receive dozens of unsolicited manuscripts a month on Jung, about how he secretly predicted the end of the world, about how we're all coming towards a singularity in consciousness, about how Jungian psychoanalysis can make sense of Biblical texts, etc. I like Jung, don't get me wrong, but I guess I feel like he lends himself to being appropriated by kooks* and conspiracy-theorists a little too easily. Like those people behind "The Secret" and whatnot.

And Joseph Campbell. I feel like he is coming up all the time lately. Enough already with the archetypes! I get it! Neo is Jesus is Luke Skywalker!

* I initially wrote that as "cooks." Damn those cooks and conspiracy-theorists!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

They Taught a Woman to Read?!?!


"U.S. Releases Secret List of Nuclear Sites Accidentally:""

The federal government mistakenly made public a 266-page report, its pages marked “highly confidential,” that gives detailed information about hundreds of the nation’s civilian nuclear sites and programs, including maps showing the precise locations of stockpiles of fuel for nuclear weapons.

"Cheney: No 'Evidence' of Iraq, 9/11 Link:"

“On the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9/11, there was never any evidence to prove that,” Cheney said during an interview Monday night with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.

The former vice president explained away the early uncertainty of the connection by insisting that intelligence gathering is “more an art form than a science,” pointing to several examples of past CIA failures.

“They misread Saddam Hussein's intent when he invaded Kuwait in 1990,” Cheney said. “They underestimated the extent of the Iraqi program to try to acquire nuclear capability back in '90 and '91. They missed 9/11.”

Cheney did not list the never-found Iraqi weapons of mass destruction as an intelligence failure, saying only that the CIA and the broader intelligence community have done a “magnificent job as part of the effort to keep the United States safe these last seven and a half years.”