Friday, September 18, 2015

Why this election season is already tired.

I haven't made it a point to pursue this blog over the past year, but as the election season heats up, I thought I'd fire this up, too. I have no delusions of grandeur (thanks, Han), but I do hold a degree in Political Science and I am quite familiar with rhetoric, spin, and politics in general.

I think I can speak for a large portion of disaffected Americans who are not allied significantly on the left or right, but who merely see their day to day efforts going less far month by month. School isn't even a full month old, and between the debates and Common Core Math for my 9-year old, there is plenty driving me to drink on a Tuesday night. I would have Sundays for a little escapism... except I'm a Raiders fan. That's like loving movies but having Adam Sandler as your favorite actor. It sort of tempers the expectation.

So, like many people, I like to read the news, watch the news, or absorb it through osmosis of social media. Sometimes there are positive stories, sometimes there are awful ones, and almost without a doubt there are cringe-worthy ones. I don't hate on people, and I certainly don't have the time or energy to devote myself to any particular "cause" on twitter. I like to read extremist views as much as moderate ones, just for context and to see what the nut-jobs on either end of the spectrum are up to. I don't/won't preach (those people are annoying), and I certainly don't pretend to have the answers as to what the candidates will add to or steal from our lives over the next year.

So, with that said, I'll begin by summarily dismissing the notion that Donald Trump is going to go away quickly. Yes, the debate this week was not a strong performance for him, and yes, his visibility may diminish as other candidates on the Republican side rise. No, it is not a good look failing to correct a birther at an event. However, he is still very much viable and striking a chord with conservative Americans who are tired of the status quo and he isn't going anywhere soon. Similar to Jar Jar in the prequel trilogy, there WERE people that liked the guy. True, those people were generally 7, but you get the idea. Hell, I don't like the guy as a candidate (Trump... not Jar Jar... ok yeah I don't like Jar Jar as a candidate either) but I can easily see his appeal.

What is troublesome is how fickle the media swings its "pendulum of awesomeness" (*TM) away from anyone after, seriously, one bad night and one bad look at a press event. I realize campaign season is a bit of a roller-coaster at times, but the media should have a responsibility to take the long view on at least the (currently) lead candidates. If Trump has shown anything, it is his ability to avoid disaster in the short-term by committing faux pas.

So my predictions for the next week are pretty simple, and probably accurate. Trump will say or do something which irritates a major media outlet (and be fine). I will watch the Raiders lose at home to Baltimore (and be fine). Finally, I will fumble my way through "helping" my 9 year old with absurdly complicated methods to solve easy math problems (and be fine).

Truth is, life is pretty good for most of us, and in comparison to other parts of the world, even a terrible day here beats a terrible day in Syria. That doesn't mean we can't complain, or observe when things could (and should) be a hell of a lot better. That's a really long-winded way of saying we like to complain about politicians, and that we are completely entitled to do so.

See you next week,

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Superbowl XLVIII

Ok, so clearly I don't post as often as I would like, or should, but it has been long enough and an incredibly fluid and challenging 2013. So, in moving forward, I would like to talk about something near and dear to my heart, and my first blog entry in months. Football.

Having just finished both Championship games, I take away from both of them a very distinct vibe in how our sports culture could be moving forward, and how it likely will.

Disclaimer #1. I am a lifelong Oakland Raiders fan. I bleed silver and black, and from Ken Stabler to JaMarcus Russell, I have rooted for my team in all manner of circumstances. I say this as a precursor to explain my disdain for all four teams playing in their respective championship games today. I loathe Denver. They have been a division rival for as long as I remember walking and talking, and for the duration of my life as a Raider fan, all I ever heard about the goddamn Broncos is Elway this and Elway that, and I recall fondly Denver getting destroyed by San Francisco 55-10 in SB XXIV. In fact, I maintain to this day that the ONLY reason Elway (and Shanahan, by the same virtue) has two rings is because of Terrell Davis.

I digress. My disdain for the 49ers comes from their incredible success across the bay, and the socioeconomic difference between San Francisco and Oakland. Now, with the caveat, that if the Raiders are awful, I usually secretly wish SF does well since I was born in Redwood City... I have always felt that Oakland fans are looked down on by the rest of the league (possibly excluding Philly and Cleveland fans, you dirty bastards).

Disclaimer #2. The Raiders are awful, and have been since '02. I blame many people for this, but primarily the Snow Bowl and the Tuck Rule are responsible, as I believe that game (and the godawful, bullshit rule that gave Tom Brady the win, his career, and his first SB appearance) caused a rift between John Gruden and Al Davis that led to Superbowl XXXVII. If John Gruden wins the Snow Bowl, many things are different in the NFL. He stays on as head coach, no rift, and the Raiders go on to face St. Louis that year (no guarantee they win, just that Oakland wasn't taping walkthroughs so at least there is that). Tampa Bay, even IF they make it to the SB next year without Gruden (which I doubt) don't know their opponent better than any other possible scenario, and don't read every play like a Dr. Suess book led by Bill Suck-ass Callahan (lifelong friend, stooge, and I firmly believe shill for Gruden).

I digress again. Under disclaimer #2 I think I explain my disdain for New England, but it goes further than that, in that since that game, they have represented everything I hate about elitism and favoritism (and at the risk of opening Pandora's Box, Racism... see their treatment of Richard Seymour vs Tedy Bruschi). This leads me to Seattle, who for years I could give a good goddamn about, since they were awful and were the perennial Browns of the AFC west (sorry Cleveland, it is true though). Then they left they went to the NFC and I really could care less about them... up until they got to the SB.

I even felt bad for Seattle when the refs screwed them out of a win against Pittsburgh (and be quiet Pittsburgh fans, you were handed that game and you know it), as I liked Holmgren, Hasselback, etc. However, Pete Carroll is an asshole, and his team is largely comprised of assholes, especially Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman. That's ok, Al Davis was an asshole for years, and I loved his team. The difference is how an asshole conducts themselves under win/loss conditions.

The post-game interview with Sherman goes to show how he is, and by virtue of the multiple PED failures this year how dirty their defense is, and by virtue of their incredibly obnoxious fan base (again, via previous disclaimers, Raider fan here... but Oakland was good... no GREAT... for DECADES and has 3 championships and division titles out of their ass, Seattle has been relevant for the equivalent of how long the Spice Girls were), Seattle is by far the worst team in the league right now to root for... which leads me to my long winded TL:DR point.

I am rooting for Denver in the Superbowl, which pains me to no small degree. I put this mainly on two factors. #1 John Fox. I always liked the guy. I liked him in Carolina when he coached Delhomme against the Pats in a SB I again think was handed to NE, and I like him now even coaching against the Raiders in a division that in no way remotely possible was winnable by Oakland this year. #2. Peyton Manning. Since Oakland sucked for so long, I developed a surrogate team to root for, which ended up being Indy (not just because of Manning, but also Dungee, Mathis, Freeney... and honestly Bob Sanders who I still maintain is one of the greatest safeties to ever play the game who just got hurt). I like Manning. I like him in interviews, I like his humility, his grace, and his tact. He is everything that Seattle isn't.

It sucks rooting for a lifelong rival to win the big game, just because the OTHER team is a bunch of ass-hats. However, that is the reality of how annoying Seattle is to everyone not from Seattle. They are awful, and god willing we see a reverse of SB XXIV and Manning lights them up for a 45 point win. I'll drink my beer, eat my chicken wings, and tip my hat to a Denver team I've hated my entire life just to shut those jerkwads up, and to hopefully see Richard Sherman cry at some point during the game. Respect? The guy screams at a sideline reporter about how good he is after making ONE good play in the game and wants respect.

Free advice from a non jerk-wad who doesn't play in the NFL... if you want respect? Conduct yourself with dignity, tact, and grace (again, see Manning), and then you earn it automatically.

Lose, lose, lose big, Seattle. You deserve nothing more. Correlation to the opening point? Seattle = bad football culture (Harbaugh isn't much better than Carroll, tbh, but his players seem to be), Denver = good football culture (and I seriously throw up in my mouth when I say that... goddamn Broncos).

Go blue and orange.

-James Bishop

P.S. Since I do write, and this is technically a writing blog... update is book #2 at 75k words and moving along. Convention appearances upcoming soon. Going to drink more beer and rant at people who care about how awful Seattle is. Cheers.

Friday, July 19, 2013

As to why sub-culture is a vanishing concept.

Hello, and long time no see. Blah blah been busy (translation I suck at social media and spend too much time playing video games).

Anyway, so the San Diego Comic-Con is going on now, and looking at how incredibly popular it is, and how much money comic book movies make, I think it is fair to say that geekdom is no longer the province of anti-social teenagers playing Dungeons and Dragons in their parents basement.

Also... not a rip, because I still play Dungeons and Dragons, and if that makes me a geek, gtfo. Not really (Dungeons and Dragons is weird and silly now, so I play Pathfinder and Shadowrun. Much better imho).

I digress. So my wife and I have just finished watching all of Freaks and Geeks, and it was a really good show, but not for the reasons most people like it. Yes, you got to see Jason Segel and Seth Rogen and James Franco before they got HUGE, but more importantly it was a pretty good look at how kids, if given the chance, actually can evolve and mature and grow.

Not going to preach, but I will strongly advocate for episode 18 in particular, how James Franco's character is forced into the A/V group and ends up playing D&D with them and loving it, is a pretty awesome argument for my own theory that kids really do just want to be accepted and respected by their peers.

Hell, adults too for that matter. Being judged sucks, whether socially, professionally, academically, or by your family.

Anyway, with the bazillion dollars Marvel (now Disney, who also owns Lucasfilm, which makes Mickey Mouse gatekeeper to at least 90% of my entertainment quota) is making on comic book films, contrasted with the tanking of The Lone Ranger this year and John Carter last year the indication to me is that comic books are not only "cool" but they are a Juggernaut (sorry) of commerce and success.

Geeks: and I do mean to just skip #1 because that's weird and not relevant, but 2 and 3 I think can be dismissed as no longer being pejoratives.

Hollywood has finally figured out that things that used to get "geeks" beat up for ten years ago are now so awesome that they are worth billions of dollars and are universally appealing (unless you are A.O. Scott... and also a delta bravo). They figured it out with Tolkien, they figured it out with comic books, and Star Wars and Star Trek have always been titans of commerce.

So why is it still geeky to like this stuff, when from all appearances... most people do?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Easter is coming too quickly this year.

Just wrapped up St. Patrick's Day festivities (by wrapping up I mean finally tossing out all the bottles). My oldest is sick with what appears to be a case of far too many chocolate gold coins from the Leprechauns, so home sick with the kids today.

Was thinking quite a bit about Easter this morning, mostly because it is going to be in March again this year, and I seem to recall it being in April a lot more when I was a kid. Less than two weeks now, and I had to scramble to get it off from work. I digress.

So Easter made me think of Catholicism, which in turn made me think of the new Pope. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, or Francis I seems like he's a pretty genuine guy. I like that he is visibly less preoccupied with the pomp of the office, and more in touch with his constituents. Good luck to him. However, I can't help but feel very strongly that this was another missed opportunity for the Vatican. Francis is another conservative Pope, and with the church in such trouble and turmoil lately, this feels like a selection that will promote further disconnect. Maybe I'm mistaken.

In science fiction, frequently the church is portrayed as the bad guy, and although I feel that one of the main reasons for that is because it is such an easy target I also think that a lot of people, writers included, feel a strong sense of alienation from an organization which, in theory, is supposed to be welcoming and inclusive. I can't think offhand of any good examples of the church portrayed in SF as a primarily benevolent organization dedicated to goodwill and promoting positive aspects of human nature.

By "the church" I don't necessarily mean Catholicism, but rather any large state religion with significant similarities. It just seems like the church is forever seen as antagonistic in this genre of literature, and I don't think it's because all SF writers hate God. I think, as mentioned earlier, that it is just a symptom of the Vatican continuing to move backwards rather than forwards with the modern times.

Anyway, Happy Easter to anyone who celebrates it, and to anyone who doesn't have a nice Sunday, March 31st.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Introductory Post

Hi everyone, James here. This is my first blog entry for The 13th Archive. While I will use this blog for occasional self promotion, I will spend most of the time on it talking about various aspects of subculture. Fantasy, science fiction, post apocalyptic stuff, etc. Zombies, Jedi, comic books, TV, movies, and actual literature are all fair game.

I have published a novel, my first in a series of three. Hell's Reaping, book one of the Apotheosis Trilogy is currently available on a bunch of eStores including Amazon and smashwords. The first edition is the one you will see for the next little while, while a second edition will be available soon under the name of my actual publisher who (yay!) decided to pick me up.

I'm a thirty-three year old married father of two boys. I have a degree in political science (worthless, btw), but the classes I actually liked in college were mythology, religion, and writing classes. I do not consider myself religious, nor do I espouse any particular religion. I hate the word "multicultural" but it actually applies to my writing and my beliefs about entertainment. My book draws from all three of the main branches of western religion, but I also utilize significant amounts of eastern philosophy and spirituality.

Check it out if you want, it's rad. No really, it is completely awesome. One of these days it is going to blow up, but until then comfort yourself in knowing you could be among the few who got in and discovered it before it was huge.

Again, I won't use this primarily for self promotion, just thought it prudent to mention that I am an author here. My next entry will not involving any pimping. Promise.