Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Update on Stuff

A friend recently wrote to me: "Your blog seems to have become a site for book reviews rather than detailing the everyday life of Joel Swagman. Sure, I know which books to read and which ones to avoid but the voyeurism factor has dropped significantly."

I can't claim I haven't been blogging much, but obviously the focus of this blog has been changing. Well, what can I say? Now that I'm back in the US, I'm running out of interesting stories in my everyday life.

.....Then again, some of the stuff I blogged about whilst in Japan wasn't all that interesting. Like just writing down conversations from a BBQ, or a night in a video arcade. Or several other posts I could probably mention. If I chose to write down every night out or every conversation like I did in Japan, I could probably come up with just as much material back here.

But I don't feel the need to. Part of it is now that I'm back in the US and speak English all the time I don't feel as much of a need to seek avenues of self expression as I did in Japan. And also since I don't have free time to kill at work on this blog, I no longer blog as a way to kill time. Now I only blog when I feel like I have something to say.
(By the way, blogging just to kill time at work explains several posts over the past couple years. I'm thinking especially of that series on past Chimes articles, but several other posts apply.)

If it weren't for the book reviews, I guess this blog would have been very bare the past few months. The book review project has admittedly taken over the blog a bit. I didn't expect that when I started this. Who knew I read so much?

Although I didn't anticipate so many book reviews, I do like the idea of this project. When you read something the information is only going one way, so its nice to have a feeling of interaction with the book. Plus, when you are reading a book, you tend to want to talk about it with other people. And usually other people couldn't care less. So having this alternative outlet is a good way of saving the people around me from having to hear me talk all the time about what I'm reading at the moment.
(I should also mention that I originally got the idea from Phil and Peter, who announced similar projects on their blogs, although I didn't give them their full credit when I first started).

So, other than books, what has been going on lately? Well, I've enjoyed getting in touch with a lot of you. Getting together for coffee isn't the kind of thing that makes a good blog entry, but in the last month I've really enjoyed hanging out with Brett and Sarah, Phil, Bork, Peter (and meeting his lovely wife. Congratulations Peter) Dean, Guam, Tex Bruiny, my brother and his family, and even those of you without blogs.

Speaking of which, my Brother and his family were just up last week. Damn good to see them again. I don't have any exciting stories, and besides my sister already covered it on her blog (briefly here, and then in more detail here. I can only hope someone was in good shape to make that drive home after all the imbibing of spirits).

Bork is back from Russia and we got together the other night to watch "Why We Fight" which is an excellent documentary. I was nitpicking at some of it when Bork and I watched it, but over all it is much better than the much hyped "Fahrenheit 9-11". Bork and I lamented why "Fahrenheit 9-11" got so much more press, and in the end concluded it was because of the culture of celebrity obsession and the fame of Michael Moore. Two years ago in my review of "Fahrenheit 9-11" I said that despite the flaws of this movie, people needed to see it anyways just to expose themselves to the costs of this war. But I take that all back. Forget "Fahrenheit 9-11". The movie you need to see is "Why We Fight." You might not agree with it, but you owe it to yourself and to your country to at least expose yourself to this point of view before you start yelling obscenities at peace protesters.

Work has been going okay. I'm now in the last week before I switch over to the Fall job of teaching English to migrant workers. Now that the summer is almost over, in retrospect I might have been a bit whiny and spoiled before when I complained about how boring this job was. I mean it was only for 5 weeks. On the other hand, a really boring 8 hour shift is a real downer when you're in the middle of it. It's hard to focus on the big picture all the time.

Brett mentioned to me a couple times that interesting things always happen at these types of low level service industry type jobs, and that I should get a lot of good stories and blogging material. But thus far no luck. I work 3rd shift (11 PM-7 AM), and no one is really in the store during that time. Some friends have asked me what kind of people usually shop at 4 in the morning, and the answer is no one does. Until maybe 1 or 2 there are a few college age kids floating around (maybe) and about 5 some of the early rising old people start showing up, but most of the night the store is completely dead.

A week into the job I was transferred into the "Health and Beauty Care" Department. So I've been learning a lot about different kinds of shampoos and soaps. You would be amazed if you actually thought about how many different kinds of shampoo there are out there. I'm not sure what that says about our society. Sure people need to wash their hair, but who takes the time to shift through all these bottles of shampoo deciding which one is ideal for their hairstyle? Not me, that's for sure.

So that's my life at work, stocking shampoo and soap and wondering if handling feminine hygiene products makes me any less of a man. One more week left.

Useless Wikipedia Fact
Continuing the Captain Marvel theme (the most famous Superhero you never heard of)
Did you know that...
Captain Marvel was, based on sales, the most popular superhero of the 1940s, since the Captain Marvel Adventures comic book series sold more copies than Superman and other competing superhero books during the mid-1940s.

Captain Marvel the first comic book superhero to be depicted in film.

Captain Marvel introduced the phrase "Holy Moley" into the English language.

Captain Marvel was the first major comic book hero to have a young alter ego. Although kid superheroes had generally been neglected before Marvel's introduction, kid sidekicks soon became commonplace shortly after Marvel's success: Robin was paired with Batman in May 1940, and Captain America was introduced with sidekick Bucky in March 1941.

Even more than ten years after the character first disappeared, the superhero was still used for allusions and jokes, in films such as West Side Story, TV shows such as The Monkees, M*A*S*H, and American Dad!, and songs such as "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" (1968) by The Beatles and "Shazam" (1960) by Duane Eddy. Elvis Presley was a fan of Captain Marvel, Jr. comic books as a child, and later styled his hair to look like Freddy Freeman's and based his stage jumpsuits and TCB lightning logo on Captain Marvel Junior's costume and lightning-bolt insignia.

Link of the Day
Want to feel intellectual? Check out this debate between Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault, and feel smug the rest of the day.

Why We Fight: Movie Review (Scripted)


Whisky Prajer said...

What the hell is wrong with book reviews?! And why can't they provide the same vicarious thrill factor? Holy moley, already!

Maria said...

I do - I'm the one who reads bunches of labels on shampoo before choosing the "right" one which most of the time proves to be dissapointing. Currently I have 3 sets of shampoo in my shower. Am I a freak - certainly. Am I thankful for my right to choose - uh huh :)

Anonymous said...

I just think that it is pretty hard to put too much blame on him for that. Sure, the government should of acted quicker, but alot was screwed up by the local government. But i will give him credit that he was in New Orleans very quickly afterwards. You really cant go after someone for a natural disaster, it wasnt handled the best, but to a certain extent...he did what he was able to do, alot of what happened was just bad luck. (the leeves breaking and flooding the city)

Joel Swagman said...

Well, no the natural disaster wasn't his fault. But I don't think it would be controversial to say the handling of it was In fact Bush admitted as much himself last year. You could argue there's more than enough blame to go around with city and local officials, and you would be right, but when the man doesn't even call off his vacation for several days during the worst natural disaster in American history, I don't think he should be surprised that it creates a negative public impression.

suz said...

great to meet you in GR. I hope teaching goes well.

Melissa said...

Hm, that's the first time I saw your Japanese BBQ post. It was very enjoyable, actually. Hail, randomness!