Monday, 16 November 2015

Humour, Hubris and Horror

The word of the week is dogmatic.

Nov 9 – Rich Comments

Who cares about the rich?

You'd think that nobody, to hear some of them complain, and though I don't quite agree with the bias with which this article was written, its tone did strike a minor chord with me.

In all truth, the Comments section is a much better read than the article itself, where people express their opinions quite freely about what they believe the ‘reality of the rich’ consists of.

Myself, I've known a few rich people over the years, along with a whole lot more folks who are making a decent living as well as those who are making a moderate way through the financial jungle.

Who's to say whose way is the best way?

I don't like disconnects, of people becoming disassociated from the realities of those around them. I think what strikes me as the truest note from the article( as well as some of the Comments )is that those people who are furthest removed from the uncertainties of a payday-to-payday existence make assumptions about what’s fair for them, in terms of their place in Canadian society.

What do you think?

Nov 10 – Flashback gaming?

Oh, for some disposable income and some even more disposable time…

What's old is new again: reboots and retro thought are always in fashion at some point, and was videogames the classics never really go out of style, they just wait to be re-merchandised.

Back in the day, I was the proud owner of a few classic of videogame consoles. A ColecoVision, Atari 2600, PS1 and TurboGrafx16 were all systems that I happily collected as many games as I could, usually at bargain prices at flea markets or discount stores over the years, as the darn games were fairly pricey brand-new. I never owned an NES, SuperNintendo, GameCube, Intellivision, Sega Master System or Genesis, but just listing all those makes me realize how much more money I could have spent trying.

Nostalgia the rescue!

Game makers have released ‘updated’ versions of many of these classic consoles in the Flashback series, which are packed with dozens of built in games. For example, the Flashback ColecoVision has 60 games to play, is much smaller than the original with more comfortable controllers and a much better video signal to boot. I actually have an original ColecoVision console in my closet gathering dust, as I sold most of the games years ago, not having played them in quite a few years.

All the same, I've dabbled here and there with emulating some of my favorites on the PC and more recently on my cell phone - the ancient hardware requirements are nothing to the power of modern systems. I even had every Atari game ever made on my old ASUS PDA, which took up a total of 8 megabytes of space: a pittance.

Since these new Flashback systems are relatively cheap, I may pick up one or two of the new year from eBay, once people get tired of them. Or by then, I might have figured out some better ways to emulate the games on my phone, so I can take them with me, though the idea of playing the old classics with crisp graphics on my big screen TV does have some merit as well.

Nov 11 – Remembrance

Freedom is bought, not given. Remember those who paid that price for you.

Nov 12 – Laughter

As this week's been a little rocky, I'm glad tonight's presentation was about humour.

As with all the presentations that I do for my writing group, I do a lot of research in the weeks prior. With this particular topic, I thought I knew most things there were to know about humour, but my research told me that I wasn't as familiar with laughter as I thought.

Funny, that.

Humour, or comedy as it's more generally known, is a subjective thing. What's funny to one person might leave someone else cold, but in general everyone knows what's funny what is. For writers, it's more difficult, as crafting a joke isn't nearly as easy as telling one to a friend: you're building a joke that will be read potentially by thousands of people, so it has to be the best you can make it.

Just as with all kinds of writing, creating comedy is best done by experiencing it in large quantities and in many of its forms as often as possible. For myself, I loved reading the Sunday funnies, where Garfield, Hagar the Horrible and all the others cavorted comedic splendor but I was growing up. Reading the ‘Laughter Is The Best Medicine’ and ‘Humour In Uniform’ columns in Reader’s Digest was also a favorite pastime of mine, as the written comedy help fine tune my own sense of what was funny as well as comedic timing. Later on, the more subtle humour of comic strips such as Calvin and Hobbes or The Far Side showed me the many layers that comedy can employ.

If you want to know more about comedy( and I suggest that you do, it's everywhere! ) You can download the presentation that I crafted for this evening here

Laugh it up, it's good for you.

Nov 13 – Tears

It’s a day of tragedy today – again.

Another day when the actions of a psychotic, twisted few have affected the lives of many. Of when the desire for power has ‘justified’ the slaughter of innocents, who in the minds of the psychotics are not innocent at all… but simply infidels to be ploughed under in their path towards world domination. Of placing their beliefs and interpretations of ‘the truth’ above all others, at any cost.

If you don’t believe me, have a read through this article.

Be warned: it’s a LONG one, which I couldn’t read in one sitting – there’s a lot of info, and a ton of things to think about. What the article does point out though, from its sheer length and detail alone, is that these are complicated issues with deep roots that are at the cause of ISIS violence.

What’s a solution?

Not ‘thoughts and prayers’ which seem to be the standard media feel-good line for the public. I’d replace that in an instant with ‘Empathy and contemplation’ meaning to try to understand those behind the violence, to empathize with their victims and to THINK about what’s trying to be accomplished by these acts of terror.

Fear and paranoia are powerful tools in the arsenals of extremists.

They’re more powerful in many ways than bombs or bullets. With fear and paranoia, extremists can reach people anywhere in the world, to spread a message of mistrust and violence that only helps their psychotic cause.

As the shock rolls over the world from the events in Paris today, many people are reacting as scared humans always do: finding easy targets to blame. Some are even using today’s tragedy to further their own agendas( “More guns in the hands of private citizens would have stopped this cold!” and so forth )which is not only cowardly, but criminal, in the sense that they are dividing people’s attentions by playing off their emotional states of uncertainty… when we ALL need to be standing together against the psychotics.

Nov 14 – Road Trip!

This morning I was out the door on the road well before 8 AM. My girlfriend and I headed over to the USA via the ferry, driving her car to go and visit her family for a surprise 80th birthday party for her grandfather. With the aid of short border lines, some Gravol( for me )and good sailing weather, we made it to the states and her parents place by early afternoon.
After a short visit with her parents, we headed out to the community center in the nearby town where the party was to be held. I was tickled to be asked to be a part of the celebration and brought along my camera, which turns out to of been an excellent decision - more on that later.

It was a few hours before the guest of honour arrived, more than enough time to settle in and get comfortable with the various family members who had already arrived early. While it wasn't a huge gathering, with less than two dozen people all told, it was a lively and fun bunch that were there.

I had brought along my ‘new’ camera( a Nikon 830L ) just in case opportunities arose to take pictures as needed, and as it turns out this was the perfect opportunity. I started out by capturing the surprised look on my girlfriend’s grandpa’s face as he walked through the door to be met by his gathered family and went from there. All throughout the evening, I captured pictures of people enjoying themselves, doing my best to compose them properly in the moment and not to let motion blur mess up what could be an excellent photo. I think I did pretty well overall.

The party wound down around 9 PM and was soon after that we were back at my lady’s parents place to stay for the night. The combination of a busy travel day and a fun party was too much for the both of us and we were both off in dreamland sooner rather than later.

What a great day!

Nov 15 – Burblings

While we didn't have to be on the road quite as early this morning as yesterday, it was still necessary to leave soon after 9 AM in order to catch the 11 AM ferry sailing. My girlfriend and I breakfasted with her parents, a sumptuous feast prepared lovingly that we all thoroughly enjoyed. The rainclouds from yesterday had vanished and we drove off into a brilliantly sunny sky, surrounded by clouds far off on the horizon. The ferry ride was somewhat more arduous for me, as the wave action was more intense first half of the journey and I exercised willpower to stay the wobbly feeling in my stomach. Once we got out of the open water and in amongst the smaller islands, the shimmy of the ship call calmed right down and I relaxed once again. I was home by early afternoon, feeling happy and quite content after a wonderful trip.

I had a late lunch out, sitting on a patio in Cook Street Village, keeping somewhat warm in the afternoon sunshine while working on some writing. I was home again in a couple hours, feeling tired, so I took a nap while my sister worked on the main computer for her own commitments.

Around 7pm, I started feeling odd, too hot: I checked the room temp and it was normal. Within a few minutes, I was sweating heavily and feeling nauseous. I staggered upright and made it to the bathroom – after doing my business, I felt better, but queasy and not at all hungry, despite not having dinner yet. My sister checked on me while I rested after that, sipping water and having dry toast; I’ve no idea why it happened: maybe it was something in the late lunch? Too much rich food yesterday? Delayed reaction to motion sickness from the ferry ride? I don’t know.

I dozed on and off all evening until midnight, when I felt somewhat more alert… and ready for bed, with a good night’s sleep. I’d only managed to complete about half the blog by early evening when I had my weird food-upset episode tonight.

This blog was finished late Monday night, well after work and a few hours spent at my girlfriend’s writing group session tonight. I thought about what I was going to write today and polished it off in about an hour after getting home, which isn't bad. It's one of the few times that I've missed writing my entry on Sunday night and to be quite honest, I don't feel bad about that, because I was feeling really bad last night - I needed the time to rest and recover, apparently.