Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Books Good and Bad, sports

I'm finally on antibiotics for the sinus petri dish living in my head--only three days in and already one hell of an improvment. Downtime drives me nuts, but at least I've read a lot over the last two weeks, here are the highlights.

Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men. McCarthy is one of my all-time favorite authors, he can write more with less than about anybody else I've ever read. If you've never read any of his earlier books such as "The Crossing" go and buy one, it's worth it. I paid full hardback price for No Country, and it was worth it. His sense of the world is so sharp and lucid--if you've been reading airport junk then reading McCarthy will feel like sucking almost painfully cold water out of a mountain stream after being forced to drink chlorinated junk in a city.

Thomas King, A short History of Indians in Canada. I wanted to like this book but didn't, it's just too damn loopy with too much over-done sly humour. There are some great lines, but none of the short stories ever grabbed me. A line or two would, then it would slide off into some tangent my mind would refuse to slide toward. I started having the evil thought that this book was so popular because the guy who wrote it was an "Indian," then decided perhaps that wasn't such an evil thought but just realistic. It does offer an interesting perspective on one Native's thought, but I want more than that in a good book.

Lama Surya Das: Awakening the Buddha Within. I hate buying books with titles like this one, it just sounds so fucking stupid to me that I tend to buy this sort of book with the same sneaking attitude I usually reserve for buying "feminine hygeine products." No red-blooded male should buy a book about awakening anything within. Anyhow, this book is damn good despite its title and lives up to the spiel a friend gave when he suggested it. I've been reading a bunch of Buddhist smack lately, this is better than average. It's also lethal for insominia as it requires careful reading and reflective pauses on what's been read--ten pages of this book would put a meth head to sleep. I'm still not done with it as result, I start off with Cormac McCarthy and when the night starts shrinking to morning I'll switch over to "Awakening the Buddha within" and next thing I know the alarm is going off. So not very awakening on a physical level but very engaging mentally.

Joyce Carol Oates: What I Lived For. I've read a bunch of Joyce Carol Oates, I really want to like her writing and often do for brief periods. "What I Lived For" is another book that seems promising but just couldn't keep me stuck into the pages. I don't think many writers can write convincinly about the opposite sex, and Oates can't about this book's male protagonist, Corky. Corky is a dick, and should think more like one to stay in character.

Dan Brown: Deception Point. This book sucks. It's the worst sort of airport trash. I read it after the Da Vinci Code, Brown's most famous book, and felt robbed that I'd paid something like eight pounds for it in the UK ($15cdn). It should give anyone hope who has ever felt that he or she could write a best-selling thriller.

Jim Harrison: True North. Jim Harrison is also one of my favorite writers. I'm only halfway through this book but damn is it good, stayed up way too late reading it, a sure sign of a good read. Harrison is willing to write about the inner chaos we all live with--many authors try, but Harrison gets it right, at least from a male perspective. I'll probably stay up late tonight again. Best line so far: " many changes in the direction of our lives come as a result of accidents, happenstances, the slightest pushes in any direction, and on a more negative side the girl you met at a gathering you didn't want to attend who infected your life to extent that the scar tissue will follow you into old age." Yeah, that sums up more than a few situations during the first 20 years of my life.

Right, all four of the people reading this are probably about sick of politics and literature, your regularly scheduled "Sick, dude!" blog will resume tomorrow as I'm actually going to get to climbing again, yeah!!!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Flapping, Politics, Colds

Today I finally got into the air again with my paramotor. Took a while to figure out how to hand-start it in the cold weather (battery dead), and it never really ran at full power but enough to get off the ground and cruise around the Canmore valley. Fantastic, flying is something special, especially in the thick winter air with the snowy mountains glinting in the sun. There were even some thermals in the ice haze which was pretty cool, who would have thought?

Red Bull was having a field manager meeting involving ice climbing at the Junkyards (just above Canmore), so went and buzzed 'em. Bit windy and turbulent so I couldn't get really low over the ice climbs, but low enough to scare myself, wind pouring through the Grassi Gap as usual. The Zoom dealt with it well, sure is a pleasure to fly a glider that's just relaxing (I normally fly pretty twitchy competition gliders, the Zoom is a more intermediate-style glider).

When I landed I had a bad case of the screaming barfies from keeping my hands above my shoulders while flying the glider. It was -5 when I launched and definitely colder than that up high with the wind factored in, but nothing could take the smile off my face, except waiting for my sinuses to equalize from the altitude difference... Finally went to a doctor this morning, diagnosed with sinus disease from hell, on antibiotics for the first time in at least ten years starting tomorrow. Sick of feeling sick--maybe it wasn't a good idea to go freeze myself stupid today, but I had to do something fun and flying counts. Sometimes you gotta do stupid stuff just to stay sane.

Had some writing published in the New York Times, I expect some ranting responses, grin...


Canada has troops in Afghanistan. I really ought to know why exactly we have troops there, if for no other reason than some of my buds are part of those troops. I can't ask my buds because they are "top secret" or something, but I would like to know more. Mr. Harper (Canadian PM) recently killed the idea of a discussion about what our troops were doing in Afghanistan, saying, "Debate sends the wrong message." By this he means the bad guys in Afghanistan will listen to the debate and think, "Oh, the Canadians aren't really serious 'cause they're talking about why they are here in Afghanistan." Now, if having troops in Afghanistan is a good idea then why not get that out on the table? If Harper believes he's right, then a united Canada saying, "Hell yeah, let's work hard to sort Afghanistan out, we'll do whatever it takes as a country" sends a strong message to the bad guys. But if being in Afghanistan is a bad idea then I really don't care what the bad guys think. I just want to hear some of the people both in the military and in government explain why having troops in Afghanistan is a good idea. Or a bad idea, whatever, I just want to know what the goals are.

Harper's excuse of, "If you talk about anything I don't like then you're helping the terrorists" is Bush's favorite line. I hope Canadians show more sense than the American public, who keep letting Bush off the hook with his, "You're a terrorist if you're not for me and my government" excuse. My favorite Bush logic of late is this: "Hey, it's OK if I break the law in the US, I was chasing terrorists who also break laws. I need to break the law to catch terrorists who break the law." Um, no. It's called the constitution and even the President of the United States has to listen to that moldy paper, that's what makes the US the US and not Iraq. So, Bush, you can't wire-tap your citizens without a warrant. Period. Bush should be impeached for breaking the law, not just "censured" as one Democrat is arguing for. This is more wishy-washy bullshit Democrat behaviour, I'm starting to think not one of them in the United States has any sort of balls at all. Bush has clearly broken the law with his domestic wiretapping, and the best any Democrat can do is say, "Ah, gee, you really shouldn't have done that, let's see if we can censure you a little Mr. President." This sort of weak-ass behaviour really makes me miss Hunter S. Thompson, the US needs a Hunter Thompson now in the worst possible way (Thompson quote on Nixon: If the right people had been in charge of Nixon's funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning."). Government is always corrupt, but occasionally it starts to fester like a boil. We just popped ours in Canada (later Mr. Martin, you were not only corrupt but deadly boring), it's time for the US to do the same with the whole Bush/Rove festering mess of infected pus.

No workouts, nothing useful, and I'm getting cantankerous about it all.