In Lieu of Flowers on Valentine’s Day

~ Lifebook #16 ~

Some guys go for the flowers and chocolates. Me, I get my wife, who is an avid reader, books on the major holidays. The reasons are obvious, but also because they last longer than candy and flowers. Healthier too. The permanence of books can represent the longevity and permanence of a relationship. Remember that, fellas. And you’re welcome 🙂

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P.S. Of course you later follow it up with a nice dinner out and some fun and games at Dave and Busters 😉

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Bibliophilic Bookworm

~ Notebook #10 ~

bibliophile – a person who loves or collects books.

bookworm – a person devoted to reading or studying.

Guilty as charged. When you can swoon at the olfactory interaction of books–burying your nose in them to inhale their great scent–then you (I) might have a book-loving problem. I can’t get enough of them. I also can’t read them fast enough. I’m a bit of a collector–not quite a hoarder, but I do: 1 — prefer to have things in a physical, tactile form, and 2 – physically keep the things I like. I’m that person who would, if he could (and maybe someday) line a room in his home with nothing but bookshelves filled end-to-end with books, a collection of mostly yet-to-read books. Nothing represents potential quite like an unread book (just like an unfilled, blank page).

And of course this all naturally extends to what I like to call my Comic Book Fetish as well.

Speaking of comics, I saw this the other day (ignore the 2015 date — there’s no expiration on this kind of initiative for literacy).

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You can even support this initiative annually without spending a dime when you participate in Free Comic Book Day, every year on the first Saturday of May. This year it’s on May 6th. It should be a national holiday.

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I Nearly Died a Year Ago Today

~ Lifebook #15 ~

Well, not quite (however, June 1st, 2013 was a different story), but, let’s just say I was lucky to survive this event relatively unscathed a year ago today.

So I was involved in a car wreck on my way home around 6:30 PM on February 2nd, 2016. The 2014 Kia Forte EX sedan I’d been riving at the time was rear-ended by an elderly fella who seemed a bit out of it (onset of dementia, I suspect). I was at a stop light, perhaps 4 cars back when BAM! My world was jolted, jostled, rattled, rocked – whatever synonym you want to use. I was unharmed, miraculously, I suppose because he obviously wasn’t going too fast, but unfortunately/fortunately the rear of the car took the brunt of the impact and the collision forced my car into the SUV ahead of me, hardly even damaging it, yet crunching the frontend of my car pretty good. Long ordeal short, my car wound up being totaled (the estimator got up to $10k in damage and knew another $5k was likely and thus I got a call from an adjuster and was happy to’ve had GAP insurance as well).

Here’s a look at that smashed backend.

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However, this unfortunate event eventually lead to the acquisition of the car I drive now, the black 2016 Honda Civic EX sedan on the right. Third new black car in a row. I wanted dark gray but they could not find me one with dark interior.

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I often complain about my having bad luck (it’s probably not as bad as I’d like to think), but this is a situation where bad luck had a direct through-line to good luck. Not the stuff you can quite capture in a bottle or duplicate, but I am grateful for the random occurrences when they arrive.

 

Lifebook 14 | Goodbye, Grandma

My maternal grandma, my last living biological grandparent, is gone. She died yesterday, January 12, 2017, in her sleep. It was a good life at nearly 95 years, despite all the hurdles she’d faced pretty much her entire life. Now she can rest in peaces, forever without worry.

Daybook 9 | Sunless

According to the weather app on my phone yesterday, we are in for a long stretch of virtually sunless cloudy-covered days here. A stunning monochromatic overcast threatens to oppress all that exist below it. Such is Winter in the U.S. Midwest, which I suspect perhaps mimics that of the United Kingdom, the way you hear them tell it. Ugh! What a miserable backdrop for anyone’s existence.

This reminds me of what I wrote in the first ever Journal Juice entry called “Overcast” on December 9, 2014.

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The Morning Muse 10 | All the Things

If you’re into astrology, casually or seriously (I’m somewhere in the middle, heh), then you may have observed that those born under the Libra sun sign are often described as indecisive, likely due to a constant imbalance/balancing of their scales, so to speak. It’s true, we do tend to take our time to think things through thoroughly (how’s that for alliteration?), and being inherent intellectuals we are loathe to progress toward a conclusion without weighing as many of the facts as possible. But for me it’s not so much about indecision as it is about being a victim of the macro view of things. I see the forest among a single tree. And I view each and every tree in that forest as unique and worthy of inclusion.

So to be clear, my dilemma in what I want to do as a creative human being endowed with certain talents is not one of indecision. It’s simply that I want to DO ALL THE THINGS! At the same time, even, which is impossible.

The rub is, I am merely human—one human. And I have responsibilities and a family, friends, etc. I can’t be the untethered, wayward, free spirit obsessed with producing all the art that I want and be the multifaceted artist that I want to be. I can’t focus on writing and playing music when I should be focused on writing stories, for instance. So if there’s one great inner turmoil that keeps me up late at night, it’s acknowledging this fact and coping with it.

Of course, the other part of being human is being stubborn and trying to be what you cannot actually be, regardless. Trying to do the impossible. Crazy stuff like developing a dozen projects in a short period of time.

Yearbook 2016 #2 | The Entertainers & Public Figures

As 2016 continues to claim the lives of entertainers and other public figures, I’m going to take a moment to give shout-outs to the notable entertainers and public figures of the year of 2016. Obviously this list is highly subjective of my personal perspective.

I’ll start first with the socio-political, then move on to sports and the arts.


Person of the Year – Van Jones

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Mr. Jones, the man who stole my look (haha), has been the sane, rational and peace-promoting voice amid the tumultuous political storm of this election year. He’s open to debate, to listening to the other side and establishing the kind of dialogue that can lead to understanding, enlightenment and hopefully empathy. I posted a video here over the summer that showed him taking time out to answer some pro-GOP’ers question on the streets when they tried (unsucessfully to goad him into a contentious debate. He didn’t fall for it, and he managed to surprise and educate his interviewees and all the onlookers. He’s a classy guy with a big heart (was also good friends with the late Prince). After the election was over he did a special series on CNN called “The Messy Truth” that aimed to understand why voters supported the Orange One. A journalist/political commentator willing to go into the shark infested waters of ‘the otherside’ in an effort to understand and expose their specific truth, is just another of many reason why I’m compelled to tune in to this man.


Male Public Figure of the Year – Bernie Sanders

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No, he did not win the Democratic nomination at the end of the primaries, but he was very gracious in defeat, and while he campaigned he helped galvanize a nation of progressives while awakening and reminding those who’ve been asleep or have forgotten what a progressive democracy should look like. A model of consistency, he never wavered in his message.


Female Public Figure of the Year – Ana Navarro

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One of few conservative public figures who had the courage and integrity to speak out against the very existence of U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump within her beloved GOP. And when a lot of ugly truths started coming into the light, she did not back down, especially on her CNN platform. She once tweeted: “The (R) behind [his name] does not stand for Republican. It stands for REPREHENSIBLE. REPUGNANT. REPULSIVE.” Navarro never backed away from her opposing stance against the Orange One. She even voted outside of her party. She’s my favorite conservative mouthpiece.


Athlete of the Year – LeBron James

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2015-16 NBA Champion and Finals MVP. Season Stats: 25.5 ppg / 7.9 rpg / 8.6 apg | Career Stats: 27.1 ppg / 7.9 rpg / 6.9 apg.


Sports Competitor of the Year – Russell Westbrook

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2016 Stats – Averaging a Triple-Double in the main categories: 31.7 ppg / 10.6 rpg / 10.9 apg at 6’3″, 200 lbs, 28 years old for the Oklahoma City Thunder.


Sports Broadcaster of the Year – Molly Qerim

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Words that describe “Mollywood” are: poised, intelligent journalist, fair-minded moderator, astute commentator, and a jubilant and exciting hostess with the mostest who is quite easy on the eyes. She can be seen weekdays on ESPN’s First Take and Mike and Mike shows.


Sports Podcast of the Year – Jalen and Jacoby

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While at work I would listen to a specific lineup of daily sports podcasts. This is the one I most looked forward to for unique insight (Jalen Rose being a former player likes to take us “behind the curtain”), humor (Jalen and his co-host David Jacoby have great chemistry and a naturally blended sense of humor) and a variety of sports, hip-hop and pop culture entertainment topics. The self-depreciating humor and things like the “Don’t Get Fired Topic of the Day”, “Jalen Summarizes a Movie Plot” (badly) and the “Give the People What They Want” Q & A are standout segments.


Sports Entertainer of the Year – “Papi” Gonzalo Le Batard

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Papi is the sardonic heart and driving force of humor on his son Dan Le Batard’s TV show Highly Questionable on ESPN. Co-hosted with Bomani Jones who plays both the other straight man and the other comic foil, the three men have developed some of the best chemistry on TV. But every fan of the show watches it for Papi’s antics, everything from his hot takes, his disses, his rants, his raps, his dancing, his stripping, his predictions, his phone calls to “Jaunito” to place a bet, and his declarations ending with “Papi has spoken.” And of course he’s always intrigued during the “Si or No” segments.

Honorable mention goes out to Bomani Jones as well as the entire Inside the NBA crew (who essentially win this category every year by default) of “E.J.” Ernie Johnson, Kenny “The Jet” Smith, Sir Charles Barkley and “The Diesel” Shaquille O’Neal


Sports Analyst of the Year – Herm Edwards

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I love. This man. I could listen to Coach Edwards speak just on life, let alone sports, all damn day long. He’s that sage uncle we all wish we had. His sports analysis is great because of his unique perspective on life and sports comes with a profundity that you really can’t get elsewhere. He is a national treasure. Remember, even in the game of life “you play to win the game.”

Honorable mentions go out to Jalen Rose, Max Kellerman, & Shannon Sharpe.


Comeback of the Year – Metallica

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With eight years passed since their last proper album, the fellas–James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo –returned with Hardwired . . . To Self-Destruct, an effort that arguably surpasses their previous few. Standouts songs for me are: “Moth to a Flame”, “Now That We’re Dead”, “Hardwired”, “Spit Out the Bone” and “Atlas, Rise”.


Letdown of the Year – The Weeknd

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Starboy the album is easily Abel Tesfaye’s worst offering in five years. ‘Nuff said. “Starboy” is a good song, though.


TV Ensemble of the Year – Cast of The Flash

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Favorite TV Show. One of my favorite TV families. It’s always a good time hanging with them on Tuesday nights.

Honorable mention to The Walking Dead ensemble cast.


Film Ensemble of the Year – Cast of Captain America: Civil War

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If you’ve seen this movie, then you know full well why.


Writer of the Year – Ed Brubaker

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From Criminal to Velvet to Kill Or Be Killed, Ed Brubaker (a writer on HBO’s Westworld also) was the scribe who entertained me the most this year.


Newsletter of the Year – Orbital Operations by Warren Ellis

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Warren Ellis and his old blogsite were the original inspiration for my finally adopting the practice of keep a regularly updated blog. A couple of years ago he discontinued the blog in favor of his morning.computer irregular journal and his weekly newsletter called Orbital Operations, which arrives almost every Sunday afternoon/evening. It keeps me inspired to write about the writer’s life.

Honorable mention goes to “From the Desk of Ed Brubaker” newsletter.


Comics Podcast of the Year – iFanboy Pick of the Week

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I finally started listening to Connor, Josh and Ron break down the week’s comics on a more regular basis this year and have enjoyed it quite a bit.

Honorable Mention goes to John SuintresWord Balloon of course.


I could think up all kinds of subjective “of the year” categories, but I think this is enough for this Yearbook entry.

So what does your “of the year” lists look like?

-BLR