Ramblings – The 2014 Holiday Edition

The holidays always get to me now because I live in the same town as my family but haven’t really spent Thanksgiving or Christmas with them for years, not that the holidays have been big for us when I was young. But, my brother has kids and he likes doing these things for them to help them feel normal I think. Most of it is still pretty informal, but we do have family who come through the house, and I don’t know how to interact with them. They’re not strangers, because I’ve known them since forever, but most of them weren’t a part of my life for almost twenty years. Well, aside from the wedding here or funeral there. I just don’t get them, and I imagine they feel awkward and uncomfortable around me. One of the issues I have with them is they love to gossip and I’m not a big talker and I don’t like listening to gossip, and I’m sure I’ve been the subject more often than I should, but they aren’t as educated or informed as they think regardless of how much conviction they have or how loud they speak.

A language disconnect exists between my mother’s generation and mine, because I’m old enough to speak our language conversationally, but not well enough to get into arguments, and they’re young enough to speak English but not… you get the picture. We both understand each other, we just can’t respond properly. Let’s just say we don’t have the discourse I would like, but we’ve never been a family with much discourse. Most conversations consists of the older person “guiding” the younger. It’s not the easiest to deal with unless you don’t care about rocking the boat.

I may have suggested these two books in the past but if I haven’t or if you’ve forgotten and want something new to read during the holidays, please go find a copy of Breece D’J Pancake’s The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake. Most of the stories are set in Appalachia but his writing is subtly beautiful like long poems and the guy can really construct a story. This is what Kurt Vonnegut said about Pancake, “I give you my word of honor that he is merely the best writer, the most sincere writer I’ve ever read. What I suspect is that it hurt too much, was no fun at all to be that good. You and I will never know.” The other book is Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee. It’s an immigrant story set in New York City with a marriage on the rocks as the backdrop to a spy/political thriller. Maybe it’s not really a thriller, but in terms of writing style, Lee’s the Fitzgerald to Pancake’s Hemingway in this scenario. Yeah, just went there.

You can find Native Speaker just about anywhere. I seem to run into it in half the second hand bookstores and Goodwills I frequent. I’ve bought that book almost a half dozen times now and am on my second copy of The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, which is a lot harder to find. It came out in 1983 nearly four years after Pancake took his own life and was reprinted in 2002, but you can definitely find it on Amazon if not at your regular haunts. If you get either and don’t like them, just let me know and I’ll buy the copy off you.

As a 49ers fan, it has been a long season. I don’t care much about the turmoil and controversies off the field, because I’ve been desensitized from following sports all these years, but they were also a mess on the field. They played more than half the season without three of their best defenders and their offense just never looked right, and that’s before my opinion on Colin Kaepernick and their offensive scheme. So I’ll just try to enjoy watching the last two games of the year, but will love the playoffs even more without a rooting interest. Well, until I start betting foolishly. New England, Green Bay, Denver and Seattle have been fun to watch.

Besides, basketball season has started and I’ve got high hopes (Springsteen’s Glastonbury concert is playing in the background as I pound this keyboard.) for the Chicago Bulls. As long as Derrick Rose can give them a good 30 minutes each night during the playoffs, I think they have a very good chance. He doesn’t even have to be great. Just be an above average point guard on offense and an average defender for the position.

Also, Georgetown looks like they have a decent squad this year, especially compared to last year’s crazy team. I saw the game against Kansas and they look like they’ll be able to match up and be competitive with just about anyone, barring the bad night here and there. Hoya Saxa!

One of my friends, who I won’t name here, got gunned down at a bar about a week and a half ago. I met him when I first moved back into town and he was the bouncer at one of my local watering holes. He also worked at a sandwich shop in the mornings. Just a young happy-go-lucky guy with a smile each time I saw him. I didn’t realize how young he was because he was a big guy. I’m also a terrible judge of age and I know too many older people who carry themselves like children. But all things considered, he was just a nice kid.

I don’t know the reasoning, but apparently some guy just walked up and shot him outside the bar. He ran inside and fell on the ground immediately in front of the pool table, and the gunman fired more shots at him from the doorway. Died on the scene. None of the witnesses say they can identify him because most of them were inside and the guy was wearing a mask, but I find it hard to believe someone can’t figure out who it is because it’s a small town and people talk.

I’m glad I wasn’t there that night. It’s where I usually spend Sunday evenings playing pool with some of the regulars, but that day I was out at friend’s house watching football and hanging out in a hot tub. I found out about the shooting because a couple of friends called/texted wondering if I was okay because they know it’s one of my regular spots.

Have I mentioned how much I like the Kindle Fire HD 6? It’s small enough to fit into most inside jacket pockets and really easy to hold with one hand. I have the Moko case for it, which makes it even easier to handle. Still waiting for the stylus so I can try out some of the drawing/sketching apps. My fingers aren’t so precise.

I have a bad habit of bingeing on old TV shows once they’ve completed their run. The current one is One Tree Hill. Don’t judge me. It’s completely unbelievable, but I love seeing Craig Sheffer play the role of the good guy when it seems like he spent so much of the 80s as the athlete/prep asshole. Okay, maybe it was just Some Kind of Wonderful, but I could have sworn he was the antagonist in a half dozen movies.

Also watched the first season of Marco Polo. Lots of naked Asian women, who are definitely not Mongolian. Take the embargo off Claudia Kim!

Well, I guess that’s it for this one. Don’t mind the punctuation, spelling and grammar. I just wrote it as fast as I could.

Happy Holidays,

Mister Saechao

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