Class, newspaper and sleep have been dominating the majority of my time recently, and it’s been hard to get up the inspiration to really write anything, blog or fiction.
I feel like I’ve hit a point in my short story where I really need to step back and figure out some basic things, like what the plot actually is, who the characters are, etc. I guess I hoped that that would all come together as I scribbled notes here and there, but alas, all I have right now is 10 pages of random stream-of-consciousness writing. What I have learned is that I think memoir, real-life writing is more what I should go for, because looking back at what I wrote, the small parts I made up are significantly worse than what I took from my own experiences.
I’ve gotten really into audiobooks and other audio stuff recently, whether in the form of podcasts, music, audiobooks, whatever. I’ve always loved reading, but I often have trouble getting into a book enough that I’d like to keep reading it, so for some reason this system works so much better. In the last few weeks I’ve gotten through:
FREE, a book by Wired editor Chris Anderson about the changing economy of web-distributed content and the future of FREE content. A good read, and pretty interesting, as Anderson himself reads it, and he makes an interesting case about how many different aspects of our lives can be FREE. Shipping can be FREE. Games can be FREE. E-mail can obviously be FREE. A good mix of techie and econ-nerd candy, I’d recommend it if that’s the kind of thing you think you’d enjoy. Best part? It’s Free on iTunes here.
My biggest critique is that I think he simplifies a lot of the issues at hand, which I guess you’d have to do to make such a sweeping statement as he’s trying to do. The section on video games, which I took particular issue with, mentioned that profitable formats of many online games that give away their games and sell the ability to marginally improve the game for real money. This is something he calls FREEmium, letting the few pay for the many. He fails to mention World of Warcraft in detail, which seems like a fallacy when you’re talking about online games, both because of the 11 million people happy to shell out $50+ for the game and $15/month to play, as well as the over $1 billion (with a “b”) that they made. Sure, maybe penguins splashing around, like he’s saying, has some unexpected profit source, but Blizzard seems to be doing pretty well with their pay-until-you-pull-the-WoW-needle-from-your-arm model too. Plus, isn’t it annoying how I say FREE a lot? Get used to it, he says it about 18,166 times, and usually as a noun. “FREE can do this,” “People are using FREE,” blah blah blah
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, because I’ve actually never read any Twain before. Just finished it today, and I liked it. I admit Tom’s tone and the “Yep, that’s so,” conspiracy/legend/folklore/toadying after conspiracy/legend/folklore/toadying got a bit tiresome, but I honestly enjoyed it and OH MY GOD THE GIANTS JUST HIT BACK-TO-BACK HOME RUNS! Sweet. Now, where was I? Right…
Me Talk Pretty One Day, because Duh. David Sedaris is brilliant, and I feel like I’m late enough getting on the bandwagon that there’s quite a bit of Sedaris on said bandwagon to entertain me for quite some time. Sure, I’ve been listening (and laughing) to him on This American Life for years, but this is the first time I’ve checked out one of his books. I got it cheap on iTunes, and I feel like I got a lot more out of hearing him tell it than I would just to read it, as his voice and mannerisms are not to be missed. He does special voices for characters, and a few of the chapters in the audiobook are taken directly from live readings he’s done, which made the whole thing even more amazing. Definitely recommend.
World War Z, which I just started today. It’s the second book by Max Brooks, the author of the Zombie Survival Guide, and it’s thoroughly entertaining so far. It’s a book detailing “personal stories” from the Zombie outbreak, and the audiobook is performed by a big cast and structured around interviews with the author. I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m thoroughly entertained already.
I’ve been a little Giants-crazy the last few weeks, as the team actually seems to have decided that they want a piece of the playoffs. Appropriate, considering the fantastic pitching staff, but the lack of offense has been at best frustrating and at worst Happy Gilmore-level rage inducing. There’s a gringo bar I’ve been going to to try to watch the games, but the entire Giants/Rockies series wasn’t on their cable, which was really a shame, especially considering how many socks the Giants rocked in that series.
I’m stuck watching GameChannel and reading everything I can find, and just hoping that the Giants make the playoffs so DirectTV won’t have any excuse not to show their games.
Speaking of, I went to my first real big soccer game here, between two of the three major teams, Colo Colo and Universidad CatÃ³lica. The other of the three teams is Universidad de Chile, my school, which is more than a little bit confusing. I thought at first when I got here that it was a collegiate league, considering the two top schools each have a team, but it’s fully professional and the connection between the schools and the teams is really blurry at this point.
The group that I was with, a rag-tag group that a friend of mine invited me to join, were fans of Colo Colo, which I guess is something of a controversial team. This is strange, because the team is supposedly the “indigenous rights” team, representative of the poor, underrepresented indigenous, Mapuche, of the south. The name Colo Colo was the name of a famous Mapuche warrior, and their logo is of a Mapuche warrior. Still, Colo Colo for a long time was the best-funded team and won, a lot, bringing comparisons to the New York Yankees. It’s also owned by SebastiÃ¡n PiÃ±era, the conservative presidential candidate billionaire, which makes it pretty strange that it’s historically the team of the downtrodden.
The game itself was pretty wild, and when I say that I am of course referring to everything that didn’t have to do with soccer. Don’t get me wrong, I like watching soccer, in that it’s better than golf sort of way, it’s just that it’s reminiscent of an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, where you know that no matter how it looks, the vast majority of the game is just going to be an exercise in frustration. Which is why I can’t understand people who say that they can’t stand watching baseball because it’s “too boring,” but go out day after day to watch 90 minutes of kicking the ball back in forth, often ending in a 0-0 tie. This particular game ended 2-1, constituting a score 900% above average, but the first half had literally one shot on goal. Plus, I don’t see “baseball is slow” complaints as valid when the soccer “intense action to the EXTREEEEME” is punctuated by some player or another flopping on the ground and grabbing their leg in “pain” when hit by a mild breeze. That just ruins the game, and it’s particularly irritating when you see them grabbing at their leg like it’s about to fall off, only to get up and continue to run for the next hour straight.
And you can see that the fans know this, because though they’re watching the game and cheer or boo when their team scores, they quickly found other ways to entertain themselves: wall-to-wall singing. That’s right, they have set songs, and the segue from one to another without gap, with nearly everyone in the crowd chiming in. It’s quite fun, and I tried my best to pick up the lyrics, though I’ll have to look up the team songs beforehand next time so I can join in. My favorite was when they all start whistling and flipping off the other team: quite fantastic when thousands of middle fingers rise at the same time. Plus, they throw about 300 square miles of rainforest worth of toilet paper onto the field, which is just north of the Dodger beach ball sign of love for a team.
After the game, which we lost, was also pretty interesting, as the armed riot guards politely pushed us toward the exit and we made our way out. There was no riot that we could see, but every car parked nearby had at least one window smashed in and the characteristic odor of tear gas could be detected from a ways away, where I guess there had been unhappy/happy fans angry/celebrating. The Chilean national team is going to be playing Ecuador here in Chile for a World Cup qualifier, and Kendal and I are trying to get press credentials to cover it. It’s a bit short notice, and I’ve been trying to track down the number (the team doesn’t seem to have any listing), but I’m psyched to check it out.
I tried to figure out what order I was writing this blog in, but I gave up a bit back when the GIANTS WON. Sorry, just wanted to throw that it there. They picked up a new pitcher, Brad Penny, and despite doubts as to whether he’d pay off or not, be pitched beautifully tonight and hopefully will continue to be a great asset for the Giants.
Monday was pretty wild, as I went to La Moneda, the presidential palace, for an 11 am press conference. Or so I thought. I walked into the security room, flashed my press badge and got a Prensa visitor ID. I went into what they pointed to, thinking this was where the press conference would be, only to find a journalists’ room with rows of computers, some reserved for specific news agencies and some not, fast internet, and a dozen incredibly bored journalists watching TV, checking their Facebooks, playing Farmville and what looked like CounterStrike, and basically lounging around. The press conference was I guess not happening, but rather President Bachelet would be rolling out a new pension law in a ceremony a little while later. I decided to stay for that, and hung out until it started.
The ceremony seemed pretty standard, with rows of dignified looking people in suits sitting and watching as Bachelet, Finance Minister AndrÃ©s Velasco, Education Minister something something and some other dude they didn’t both introducing came to the stage. Bachelet said a few words about something in Spanish, some guys carried in a table, they all signed the bill, and everyone left for some tea and crumpets. Fun stuff.
I was in the room, managing to convince people that I had a right to be there, standing behind the TV cameras in the press section of the room. At times I was about 2 feet from Bachelet, which was pretty cool, but there was a definite attitude of a lack of security from “press.” I couldn’t help but think that if I actually had bad intentions, it would be soooo easy. But I don’t, so there’s that. Bachelet’s pretty cool, though she also has an imperceptible accent, and it was all pretty cool. I’m going to make a point of going to La Moneda more often, and hopefully I can get to know some of the other reporters (and play their video games) a bit more.
Going back to the office to write the article for the event was pretty terrible, as the law itself was both boring and cryptic, as it ended up being a law that would incentivize older staff and faculty at state universities to retire, to “renew” the universities. They said nothing about why they were doing this, or how it would work, but I presume they’re doing it to encourage young people to take these vacated jobs. It just would have been a whole lot easier if they had articulated that at some point.
What I didn’t add, but desperately wanted to:
“Bachelet’s speech was punctuated only by Finance Minister AndrÃ©s Velasco’s cell phone, which jingled a cheery Christmas tune until the economist quieted it, stopping to check something before putting it back in his pocket.”
I don’t really remember Velasco’s ringtone, I’m pretty sure it just rang, but I found this too funny to pass up.
I’m sick again, which sucks. I’ve had a cold since getting back from La Serena, which Luz blames on the change in climate. I swear I’m not normally a sickly person, but the last few weeks haven’t really been good evidence toward that claim, and I’ve spent all of today stuck in bed chugging cough syrup and water. I also had a terrible headache for several days, which I could only get rid of with something (wonderful) called Migranol, which I could buy over-the-counter.
Luckily I can do most of my work from home, so it’s been fairly not too hard to get by. I just want to get better.
For a while I managed to only have a cold, separate from the terrible debilitating asthma attack, until I woke up this morning wheezing. Last I checked I think I’ve managed to push the asthma beast back into its whole with strong drugs, where it’s going to stay, damnit.
Hmm, looks like I found something to write about. Weekend Trip description really will come soon, I swear. I started a post and all, I just need to finish it, and I’d like to post it with something more than “it wer fun.”
But when that happens, you’ll be the first to know.