I’ve never bothered with one of these things before, but there’s a first time for everything. Also, I’m watching my Windows Server VM update itself so I can do some testing, and that drastically limits what I can do besides “write text” for the moment.
So, seven random things about Chief Heathen, which turns out to be harder to make interesting if you’ve got eight years of blog posts illuminating most of your life.
I wish I could sing. It turns out I have excellent pitch, but (apparently) neither the disposition to gain technical mastery of an instrument nor vocal cords that will do anything other than my normal speaking voice. It’s annoying.
I hate old movies. Not all of them, just most of them. Generally speaking, if it was made before 1965, I probably have little interest in watching it. I’m not sure why this is — certainly the vocabulary of film became drastically more subtle and interesting in the auteur era of the 70s, and certainly too films made since I was born have more to offer me in terms of cultural resonance, but other than that kind of generality I can’t really explain my distaste for old movies. Obviously, there are exceptions for giants of the film canon, but for popular movies it’s a pretty hard and fast line.
My most recent passport — sadly now expired — was issued in a city and country that no longer exist. On a student tour of the Soviet Union in 1991, we all got royally hammered more or less at every opportunity, and certainly before every Aeroflot ride. Between Moscow and Tbilisi, my passport must’ve slid out of my jacket as I napped (or was taken by a nefarious thief; it doesn’t really matter). This generated some great consternation for the tour leader (my Russian prof), but imposed no actual inconvenience aside from an early-morning trip to a photomat in Kiev for a replacement pic (where our Intourist guide forced the shopkeeper to take me immediately, and to hell with the 40 or so Ukrainians waiting in line). The actual passport wasn’t put together until our last city, where there was a U.S. consulate, and where I delighted myself by stepping back and forth across the threshold (“I’m in the US! I’m in the USSR! I’m in the US!” etc). Consequently, said passport — containing what must be the least flattering photo of me ever taken, and that’s saying something — is stamped “Issued by United States Consulate, Leningrad, U.S.S.R.”
I’m shocked I’ve stayed in Houston 14 years. When I moved here in 1994, it was a lark — the idea was hatched in a drunken party weekend, and executed less than a month later. I assumed I’d live here for a bit, and then branch out. Except cool things kept happening, and I eventually bought a house, and my career turned into a travel-heavy thing (thereby rewarding me for living in mid-country), and I got involved in local nonprofits, and built a great network of friends, and here I am still. I still don’t think I’ll be here forever, but we sure do have good friends here. I just hate the summers.
I’m coming to grips with my 20 years of science-fiction-fan apostasy, and have actually begun delving into the pool a bit more. I read piles and piles as a teen, but was pretty much done with it by late high school. Real books — and I still think of them as such — were more rewarding to me. In my thirties, flying as much as I do and in need of more reading material, I started sampling again, first with the Dresden novels and then with Scalzi’s work, but also with bigger bits at a friend’s suggestion. It’ll never be what I read by default again — too much of it is utter crap, poorly imagined and badly written, and in willful violation of this law — but it’s fun to include as part of my literary diet.
I never really planned this technology career, so I still don’t really know where it’s going. There’s a lot to unpack there, but I mostly decided against going to grad school in creative writing because I didn’t want to be poor, and I liked hacking with computers as much as I liked writing. But I didn’t really give it much more thought than that. I sort of thought I’d keep writing, and while in some ways (e.g., here) I have, I really pretty much retired from fiction and poetry a long time ago. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. It’s also pretty obvious my nonprofit arts activities are attempts to scratch this particular itch by being close to art being done instead of really making any of my own, and (like most such replacements) that’s unlikely to be satisfying in the long haul.
It will surprise no one for me to say that I’m a deeply cynical bastard; I trust people in general to be dumb as posts and venal besides, and to act stupidly in their own interests, or based on superficial lies. This cynicism extends to an utter disgust ar the willful and ham-handed emotional manipulation that is part and parcel of so much of pop culture, and said culture’s inability to separate sentiment from sentimentality. So it may actually surprise people to learn that “It’s a Wonderful Life” completely has my number, and that Sam Wainwright’s telegram makes me tear up every single year: MR GOWER CABLED YOU NEED CASH STOP MY OFFICE INSTRUCTED TO ADVANCE YOU UP TO TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS STOP HEE HAW AND MERRY CHRISTMAS SAM WAINWRIGHT
Seven people? You must be joking. Virtually none of my people blog. But I’ll try: Dorman, Christina, Patrick, JoAnn, Chris and Cathy, Noel, and Erin, for whom this is a surprise soft-launch. (Sorry, honey; your idea is too good not to push.)