Friday, January 17, 2014

Five Things on a Friday: GQ vs. the Economist Edition

1.  GQ vs. the Economist
Hannah’s Girl Scout troop had a fundraiser a few weeks ago where they had to sell magazines.  Now, I hate these kinds of fundraisers--because, for example, the troop sold hundreds of dollars worth of magazines but only netted $15 for their efforts--but I still told them that I’d buy a magzine from them because I don’t want to constantly be the Grinch-Dad.  I figured, How hard can it be to find a magazine that’ll be at least somewhat entertaining?

The voice of Rocket Racoon.
Answer: very hard.  It ultimately came down to a choice between The Economist and GQ, and I confess that I chose GQ.  The Economist is a great magazine, but it’s expensive, and if the reporting is very good and very detailed, it’s also an order of magnitude more than I need--or even find interesting in most cases.  I took it last time and ultimately came away feeling like I’d caused the needless deaths of thousands of trees over a product that I just wasn’t reading very often.
So I took GQ this time.
There’s an article in there on Bradley Cooper, the voice of Rocket Racoon in the upcoming Guardians movie, and I’m looking forward to reading it.  There’s something on Duck Dynasty that I will certainly skip, and then there were several long sections on men’s fashion that, frankly, I find baffling.  I mean, How to buy a hipster suit off the rack?  Who cares?  The hipsters are all broke, and if they’re not, I guarantee they’re not dressing like that.  Maybe there are collectively fifty thousand hipsters living in the Village and/or in some swanky part of LA that I’m not familiar with for whom that story about buying super-swanky suits off the rack is appropriate--there was even an exchange-via-social-media aspect to it--but…  I am thinking of the one guy I’ve met in my entire life who’d find all of this fascinating, and he owned a vintage second-hand store in Bangor, Maine.  That right there is legitimate hipster-ism.  We talked about matching striped ties with plaid shirts, and he came across as something of an authority on the subject.  But beyond that one guy, I just don’t know.
Anybody?  Am I missing something?
Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading the rest now because reading through it feels like trying to interpret radio signals from Mars, but without any actual thought required.  And I like that it’s mindless.  I just hope that Bradley Cooper is good as Rocket Racoon.
2.  Swimming and other Training Stories
Better training week this week.  I’ve been on the bike three times for my regular commute ride, and for a day and half of that, we even had decent weather.  This particular morning, I’m back to freezing my ass off out there, but hey, at least it’s not raining or snowing anymore.
I also made it out to the YMCA to swim with my friend Ben this week, and that was--easily--the best I’ve felt in the water since October.  I actually felt like myself for the first thousand or so yards, and that was nice.
If you’re wondering, we did:
 --- 5 x 100 @ 1:30 warm-up.  I held right at 1:20 on these.
 --- 200 kick
 --- 16 x 50 @ :50, every 4th one fast.  I was around :32 or :33 on the fast ones and :37 on the others.
 --- 200 pull
Granted, that’s not a long workout, but like I said, I felt good doing it, and that counts for a lot.

3.  Writing After the Offseason Ends
But now I remember why I write so little during triathlon season.  
I started doing the commute rides Wednesday morning, and then I did that swim Wednesday night.  Then I woke up Thursday, and try as I might, I could not shake the fog out of my head. I sat in the shower for ten minutes trying to think of a way to approach the next scene with Sneax and the bad guys from the Legion of the Red Lord, but beyond the obvious fact that Sneax is going to sneak up on them in the dark, I’ve got nothing.  It’s a day and a half later, and I’ve still got nothing.
I just can’t get my mind to focus on it.  There’s too much else going on, and whatever extra energy I had this week went straight into the pool.  Maybe I’ll be able to get some mojo back this weekend; otherwise, progress on the book is liable to grind to a halt until much later in the year.  And yeah, that wouldn’t exactly be a disaster, but it’s not the way I was hoping things would go.
On the other hand, I don’t want to force it and write crap.  I’ve already written a novel that I just don’t like, and that’s fine, but it’s not what I want this time around.  I mean, I can read through that first one and see what I need to do to fix it, but it’d be like starting over from scratch with the same idea, and I’ve not been able to get fired up to do that, especially not when there’re so many other things to do.
Brandon Sanderson wrote six novels before he finally published Elantris, and even Elantris isn’t close to being his best work.  I’m guessing that Mistborn: the Final Empire was probably book number ten for him.  
This is not the kind of statistic that inspires confidence for me in my own writing.
4.  Gyro Night
Sally made gyros last night in the crock pot.  Meanwhile, Emma has been reading a bunch of books from the Myth-o-Mania series, which are based on Greek myth and--amazingly--star Hades as their protagonist.  So I asked the girls to name their favorite and least favorite things from Greek mythology.
Hannah said that her favorites were Hercules and Medusa, and her least favorite was Hades, and then she started talking about the Disney version of Hercules.  That’s unfortunate but maybe better than nothing.  It got me thinking that maybe I should show them the original Clash of the Titans some time this weekend.
Emma said that her favorite story was the one with Hades and Persephone (she pronounced it “Per-sa-fōn”) and that her least favorite was anything to do with Perseus.
I said that my favorite was the origin story, where ZeusPoseiden, and Hades overthrow their father Cronus and then draw lots to split control of the world, leaving the inhabited portion of the earth itself to their sister Gaia.  My least favorite story, by a mile, is the one where Hercules steals the Golden Fleece.
5.  Steelheart
Finally, I read Brandon Sanderson’s book Steelheart this week.  It struck me as very similar to Mistborn: the Final Empire, at least until the third act anyway, but with much more in there for gun enthusiasts and/or members of the NRA.  It’s weird because Sanderson is a young guy and a former college professor, so I’d had him pegged as a liberal, but this new book comes across as almostBranch Davidian at times.  The beginning especially is very much in the mindset of “you can have my guns when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers.”  
But it softens over the course of the book, and actually, now that I’m thinking about it, so does the protagonist.  And the book is written in the first person, so maybe that change of tone is deliberate.  Which would make the message somewhat subversive for right-wingers.  When we start, our hero David doesn’t care about anything but revenge and his rifle, but by the time we finish, he’s a much more well-formed human being, capable of risking his life for others and actually losing not one but two rifles without considering it a personal tragedy.
Alright, I take it back.  This book is not particularly right-wing, but it’s politics are so subtle that I didn’t really get it until I started writing ab
See?  This is why I blog.
Anyway, Steelheart: urban fantasy adventure staring evil superheroes and a bunch of well-armed quasi-religious nutjobs.  I liked it, especially the third act.  But I feel like I really need somebody else to go read it now and tell me if my reading was actually correct.

1 comment:

  1. And there's my favorite, Athena, the goddess of wisdom.