Friday, March 16, 2018

Stupid Movie Reviews: Valerian & the City of a Thousand Planets

Welcome to Stupid Movie Reviews!  This is a new, uh, maybe bi-weekly segment on the blog.  This week, we’re looking at a rather enjoyable stupid movie,Valerian & the City of a Thousand Planets.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Crunch: On Competition & the Value of Short Term Goals

I went skiing with my buddy Brian a few weeks ago.  Despite losing a day at Mount Snow to comically extensive airline delays, we wound up having a great time out at Okemo once we finally got out there.  We put in something like fifteen runs over the course of maybe five hours plus lunch.  It was enough that we staggered off the mountain at the end of it, exhausted but happy.  About the only thing that kept me awake on the drive home was Brian’s minute-by-minute updates on Army’s lacrosse game against perennial powerhouse Syracuse.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

#SBRLLR: First Taste of Glory (Part 3)

I found myself sitting on the windswept bench of some close-packed aluminum bleachers a month or so after school began, watching my father take command of First Reconnaissance Battalion.  His men were formed up in companies in front of a forlorn Quonset hut outpost called Camp Tallega, which sat lost in the sun drenched high-desert hinterlands of Camp Pendleton’s immense beachside training ranges.  Dad had written a speech on notecards for the event, but when he got up to give it in front of his new Marines, he went through a mere card or two before putting his notes away and speaking extemporaneously.  He looked ill at ease to my eyes, particularly when trying to speak from notes, but he was also grimly determined to be the man, the commander, that his Marines needed him to be.  He was discomfited to be around guys who saw themselves more as a special operations unit than as traditional infantrymen, a change in mindset typified in my father’s eyes by the fact that Recon Marines said “Hooyah!” rather than the more traditional “Ooorah!” that characterized the rifle companies he’d been with prior to that point in his career.  I had no idea what his prepared remarks were intended to say, but off the cuff, he acknowledged that the language barrier was only the beginning of the things that he needed to learn to be the best commander that he possibly could be.  He also promised that the Marines in front of him could count on learning a few things from him as well.
His men stood silently in formation, looking uniformly lean, mean, and competent as Hell.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Six Things on a Saturday: Trying to Get Caught Up

I’ve had a busy week.  Did a lot happen while I was gone?
I actually have the day off!  Yay!!!

Friday, March 9, 2018

#SBRLLR: First Taste of Glory (Part 2)

I was a few weeks into the process of becoming “myself” in the pool in Vista when I arrived on the pool deck at Fallbrook for the first time for water polo tryouts.  I’d found a home on the Vista Swim Team, but now I had to find a way to fit in at my school.

Friday, March 2, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: Return to Chaos

Happy Founder’s Day!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Summer Reading List, 2018

Sketch in My Notebook
Though we’ve done book and TV reviews since this blog’s inception, the Summer Reading List Project didn’t formally get its start until 2016.  That first List was very successful, both in the sense that my friends enjoyed participating and because I myself found a bunch of books that I quite enjoyed reading.  I’ve done a few additional Lists in the months since, but none of those have informed my actual summer reading in the same way.  Mostly, they’re just been lists of related books that I put together as part of the Project’s archives.
This year, however, I’m actually looking for something to read.  Like you, I have my favorites.  But it seems like a lot of my favorite authors aren’t publishing right now, and here we are.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

#SBRLLR: First Taste of Glory (Part 1)

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
― Thomas Paine
My mother drove me out to my first practice with the Vista Swim Team one afternoon a few weeks before I was set to start my freshman year of high school.  I stepped through a gateway cut into a twelve-foot chain-link fence and onto the deck of an unassuming six-lane public pool.  I felt as though I’d been transported into a bygone era of swimming lore.  The facility itself was ancient.  The pool area was a solid mass of flat yellow concrete, stretching maybe fifteen feet out from the pool’s lip, which overhung an eight-inch trench-like competition gutter, also cast from concrete.  I’d seen competition gutters previously, but only at collegiate competition facilities, which typically boasted newer pools, electronic timing systems, and gleaming sidewalls cast from shiny aluminum.  By contrast, Vista’s pool had the oldest competition-style gutters I’d ever seen and the only ones made from concrete.  Kids had been swimming for time in Vista for decades, and even back in the day, those kids had possessed the right swimming technology, probably since before East Carolina University had even had a swim team.

Friday, February 23, 2018

5 Things on a Friday: You Really Should Be Following Me on Twitter

Facebook instituted a new News Feed algorithm recently, and I hate it.  Ostensibly intended to cut down on the site’s 3rd party media manipulation and endless political arguments, what’s happened instead is that I’m now seeing the same posts over and over again.  Stuff that I would have glossed over in months past is now literally inescapable.  If anything, I’ve actually muted more people in the last month than I had in the previous twelve.
Usually just for 30 days, mind you.  I use the “Take a break from this poster” option because I still like my friends.  I just don’t need to read their political thoughts on repeat.  
Meanwhile, the algorithm’s effect on me has been to cut this blog’s traffic in half.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

#SBRLLR: Tennessee to California (Part 3)

To eyes that had grown used to the flatly forested lowlands of Coastal Carolina, Southern California was an infinitely varied series of high desert steppes, rolling hills, and zooming concrete superhighways.  Where Carolina had been uniformly green and rural, Southern California was all rocky browns and tans, distinctly urban, and interspersed at irregular intervals with tiny patches of spindly trees and tumbleweeds.  As we drove north from San Diego Airport, the hills grew slowly greener and more forested, until at last we arrived in Fallbrook, a brilliantly green oasis in the desert of San Diego County and the self-proclaimed Avocado Capital of the World.  
This would be our new home.