Monday, May 30, 2005

In case any of you have ever gone through your daily lives and suddenly stopped to wonder "gee, I knida wonder what pisses Marines off", this is for you: Being called 'soldiers'. A soldier is an over-promoted, undertrained guy who wears a silly looking green uniform, the most formal of which looks like our service Alphas. The less formal versions of their uniform have a green shirt of a revolting green color. Chicks really dig the slime green shirt. An appalling number of them think the government has issued them a Lightweight, Magazine fed, Gas operated, Air cooled, Shoulder fired backscratcher.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Book Meme: "I've been tagged, but it's not bad!"

Total Number of Book I've Owned
Several. Okay, maybe it's higher, perhaps approaching an even hundred. I usually read only the important ones, and it wasn't until recent years that I would have picked up and read a serious, non-school, book except at gunpoint.

Last Book I Bought
Buzz Williams
Spare Parts. About being a Marine reservist in the pre-9/11 world, taunted by the active duties as somehow less of a Marine, and looked at askance by a civilian world still somewhat awkward about the military.

Last Book I read
Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel's
The Da Vinci Hoax. Good book, and very in depth. The authors would have been able to save a lot of time by simply giving us a list of pages from the book that were completely free of glaring historical errors.

Five Books That Have Meant a lot to Me
Based on the discretion of the others who have played this game, I'll assume the Bible is a given.
1. The Way by St. Josemaria. The best book on personal character and reflection that I have ever read, and I share that opinion with many others. Every time I pick it up for the first time in a while, I think to myself "how did I ever neglect this for such a long time?" I've read some Chesterton, particularly Orthodoxy, but as far as the East is from the West, so much better are the writings of St. Josemaria, which include The Furrow, The Forge, Christ is passing by and some collected sermons, mostly published posthumously. While Chesterton's work centers on what is wrong with the world in general, St. Josemaria's work centers on what is wrong with you in general, and believe me, he knows.
2. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. This is another excellent meditation book, and it's surprising how real it all feels while you read it. Lewis has some great insight on how the devil tempts us, and how just when we think we have foiled him, we end up being in another one of his plots.
3. Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. Long, drawn out, at times boring, but ultimately masterful treatise on human suffering and the effects of sin upon same as well as upon the human psyche.
4. Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield. Very dramatic, with some scenes young kids are not ready for, but still engaging and enthralling. Pressfield (Tides of War, Bagger Vance) might not be the best in writing style, but that does not matter in a book completely narrated by it's characters, a gimmick also used by Bram Stoker in Dracula. Also includes a book-long discussion on the nature of the opposite of fear, as distinct from simple aphobia.
5. My only toss-up here is the academic area. Although I greatly enjoyed Paul Johnson's Modern Times and A History of the American People, it'll have to be Ann Carroll's Christ the King Lord of History that takes this one. It's rather beneath my level, being mainly intended for eighth through tenth grade, but it was probably this book that really gave me an interest in history strong enough for me willingly to tackle some bigger works.

Tag Five People
I tag John, Shiela and Charlemagne, quite convenient that they are all at the same blog and because they are the only ones who ever post. I also tag Judit, if by some chance she reads this. The fifth person will be tagged via e-mail, because I am taking the liberty of tagging someone who does not blog.

Update: Are people misinterpreting that "Five books" section, or am I? I left out books like the Iliad, the Odyssey and Lord of the Rings because as much as I may like those books, they didn't "mean a lot to me" in the same way that some of the ethical/philosophical/acamdemic/meditational books I mentioned.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Latest Strongbad e-mail: Hilarious!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

*Whip crack*

What is this laziness? So that's what they've been teaching you in America!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Gadzooks. A whole week without a post. I hate it when that happens. Last night I read Amy Welborn's Decoding Da Vinci (by "last night", I mean it wasn't a long book). Her writing style reminds me of myself when I was about sixteen or seventeen, but I forgive her for her sassiness on the grounds that she writes mainly for teenagers. For that same reason, I perfectly understand why her book is so short.

I guess I'll post this game that's going around. The last one was ten things you've done that most of your readers probably have not. This one is five things people around you are crazy about, but which you don't see as much in as they do.

1. You probably won't be surprised. Harry Potter. I don't get it. These are kids books written for kids, with kid's plots. So if you've ever wondered why some of the gimmicks were tired or predictable, yeah, that'd be why.

2. Gilbert Keith Chesterton. I know plenty of his devoted fans, and I have even dabbled in some of his works myself, and they were alright, but I fail to understand why some people cannot get enough of them. There's even a Chesterton
blog containing quotes of his, resurrected and applied to current affairs; by those who can recite his every paragraph, for those who can't.

3. Rock, especially metal. I bring this up because of still-fresh memories of a rock concert in Indio, Ca, that needed Marine volunteers from Twentynine Palms for security, and which a lot of my until-recent classmates signed up for as soon as they heard about it. And of course some of them came back to base when it was over complaining of various things, like getting stuck at the gate all night. I had little sympathy for them; less, in fact, than I have for one of them who complains about being broke when he not only smokes and drinks, but has an expensive-ass TV in his room. This isn't a fortune 500 company. This is the military, we are the same rank, and I know for certain we get paid the same. (I actually have softened on my dislike of country music, possibly because more than a quarter of my classmates were from Texas, and many of the rest were from the Midwest in general).

4. Yellow ribbons/"support the troops". You may wonder why I of all people would list this, and I admit it is a fair question. I am not a "troop". That's first off. Second is the fact that yellow ribbons are for citizens imprisoned in a foreign country. Huh, that must be why the first time I ever saw yellow ribbons flying was not for the War in Iraq, but for Harry Wu back in the late '90s. We currently have only one serviceman unaccounted for in Iraq, and he is almost certainly dead.

5. Tattoos. Not all tattoos, just the ones that have no meaning whatsoever. I always get pissed off, more than most other things, by phony stuff. It was only recently that I became aware that "tribal" tattoos, as if they were part of an indigenous people's passage into manhood, simply referred to a design with no meaning or significance whatsoever that was easy to draw, because if you messed up, you can just incorporate that mistake, perhaps by repeating it on the other side.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Not the Shores of Tripoli
But I am going to Africa. They expect it will start this June, but they don't know when they expect it to end.

The trip home was relatively uneventful, because seeing Regis Philbin get off the flight I was about to board counts as a coincidence, not an event.

I need to start getting more sleep. I spilled ice water on myself on the plane when I woke up, and if I remember correctly, I got up and walked the aisle like a dumbass before deciding what to do ("Brush ice off seat, sit on folded blanket" was, I believe, the course of action I decided upon at length). I've never liked the idea of being so delirious or disoriented that I did silly or downright stupid things without thinking about them. That's why I don't drink (well, that and the fact that I enjoy my money, my rank, and my liberty, and have an antipathy towards being deprived of all three if caught.) Alcohol exists to make other people act stupid so that I can laugh at them, and it defeats the object if I incur the effects.

I'll let you know more about Africa when I find out. It is likely to be less violent than Iraq, but on the other hand, the people there probably like us less and are more suspicious.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

"I am the voice of one crying in the desert, 'make straight my way, for I want to get the hell out of here'"

Have yet to pick up my ticket, so I'm not sure when I will be getting home. By the way, I think I may have discerned something: My reserve unit is not overseas at this time, because the good corporal who fielded my call said that the first weekend that I'm home will be a drill weekend. I can't be sure.

I hate softball, and was put in sort of a bad mood when they made us play softball as a class. They pitched not only underhand, but lollypop style. I wasn't sure whether to swing at it or catch it and make an out. People could not believe me when I told them that I was decent at baseball. At least not until I laid down a bunt, which they told me was a) not allowed, and b) a pretty damned good bunt. Softball is for girls, middle-aged men, and anyone who cannot hit or pitch a baseball. We ought to have played soccer, because, though there were few people there that were skilled at it, at least it would have been more fun and more people would have played well. We also played dodgeball the other day, but not the way I was familiar with. Where I come from, (I learned to play at Opus Dei camp) you play in an indoor court, preferably large like a hockey rink, with about twenty balls and a hundred guys. THAT'S some fun right there.

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