Monday, April 29, 2013

571. Liebster

Last year I brushed off an award I received thanks to the A-to-Z exposure, but I figured I'd take a similar honor a little more seriously this time.  Y'know, just because.  But because I yam who I yam, I'll still play by my own rules.

The Liebster Award so far as I can tell is yet another way for bloggers in this community to spread themselves around a little, increase awareness.  When I get to the part where I pass it along to others, you'll see how I most intend to subvert the process.

First things first, though, is the trivia.  Because I'm doing everything by the number 13 rather than the 11 I got from the Armchair Squid, who's a friend of Mock's he's always referencing and I finally visited this month (and thank goodness because he talked about comics throughout the Challenge), here's some useless knowledge for you:

  1. Growing up my favorite stuffed animal was Tigger (as in Tippecanoe and Tyler Too, or something like that).  It wasn't until later, after I'd thoroughly enjoyed Bill Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes (which is ongoing, just to make that clear), that I started to realize that I had my very own Hobbes.
  2. I played the violin growing up.  I've got one that my grandfather made.  It stands to reason that he's the reason I took the instrument up.
  3. Do you have any idea what a melaphone is?  It's basically a trumpet mixed with a French horn.  It's what I learned to play when it became clear that a violin was not a perfect fit for a traditional middle school band.
  4. Speaking of the French horn, I learned to play the melaphone as a transition to playing that instrument.  I kept playing until high school, which was also the last time I played the violin.  The French horn killed the violin.
  5. My mother watched Star Trek when it was originally aired in the '60s.  She gets emotional anytime she watches Star Trek II: The Search for Spock.  I watched the original series in '80s syndication.  I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation more regularly when it went into second-run syndication (which was a nightly ritual in my family), although I remember obsessing over the final episode in 1994.  My brothers watched Star Trek: Deep Space Nine from the start, but I didn't catch it until late in the second season, but it was my favorite of all the series by the third.  I watched Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise from start to finish.
  6. As a kid, my favorite superheroes were Spider-Man and Robin.  I didn't read comic books until later.  Instead I followed them in other ways, such as Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and Batman (via Adam West and Burt Ward).  I adopted Green Lantern as another favorite entirely on the basis that he was so closely identified with the color green (which as I've referenced recently is also part of why I became a fan of the baseball team Oakland Athletics).  My interest has since grown more sophisticated.
  7. I can't speak French.  My parents spoke it as their secret language when they didn't want us kids knowing what they were saying.  They both learned it from growing up much more closely to the generation of French Canadians who migrated to New England in the early 20th century.  In high school and college, French classes were some of the worst torture I ever endured.  On 9/11, I was in the cafeteria when the planes were hitting.  I went to a literature class, but when the reality of what was happening started sinking in, it was a French class that was the first one I didn't attend.  Naturally everyone was excused for such behavior that day, but I sure as hell didn't miss the class at all.  I don't learn language the way they teach it in school.
  8. That may also be why I was technically held back from kindergarten.  When they were administering their tests for entrance, I guess I didn't meet their expectations.  This meant I was usually about a year older than anyone else in my class.  Since my birthday is in September, I guess that's why it happened to begin with.  I'm always on the bubble with these kinds of evaluations (which is the way the world works, unfortunately).
  9. I'm not an idiot, though.  Although compared to my brothers, who both graduated valedictorian in high school, maybe I am.  Though I'm much more well-read, comic books or regular books.
  10. I have two brothers and two sisters.  Both my grandmothers died before my parents met.  They grew up in Blackstone, Massachusetts, and Woonsocket, Rhode Island, which are right next to each other.  They lived within walking distance of each other (although my mother is about ten years older).  One of my dad's brothers actually met my mother before he did.  My dad was serving in the Air Force, deployed to Thailand during the Vietnam War, when he received the news of his mother's death.  My mother lived with her father, as much for him as for her after her mother's death.  She was a competitive roller skater, but had moved on from that after the local rink (which was in her backyard) burned down.  To help keep her father active she took up square dancing.  It was in this activity that my mother and father met.  That technically makes them squares.  I have never engaged in this peculiar activity.  Perhaps this is how Ted meets his wife in How I Met Your Mother?
  11. John F. Kennedy was a flashpoint for both my parents.  My dad remembers he was sitting on a wall when he heard about the assassination.  My mother made a robe for Kennedy.  She remained pretty obsessed with him, though she eventually grew disenfranchised the more his personal failings came to light.  I trace my own obsession back to them.  One of the more embarrassing mistakes I've made in my life was when I read a biography in middle school and mistook the word "motorcade" for "motorcycle" and became convinced that I'd learned a sensational new detail about the assassination.  In addition to Lee Harvey Oswald, there had been a motorcyclist who sped by Kennedy's car and shot him!  Yeah, well obviously that didn't happen.  I don't remember if I simply forgot about it, realized my mistake, ...or just started accepting the familiar reports like everyone else.  For all I know, the cover-up continues!  Zapruder missed the motorcyclist!  The conspiracy lives!
  12. Stephen King grew up in Durham, Maine.  He went to Lisbon High School.  Famously, English teacher Prudence Grant told him he couldn't write very well.  Years later I had her as a teacher as well.  Most students hated her.  I found her to be pretty awesome.  King also attended the University of Maine in Orono.  He wrote an opinion column for the student newspaper Maine Campus.  I also attended UMaine, and wrote for the opinion section of Maine Campus.  King returned to give a speech while I was still attending.  I got there early, sat in the back.  A news reporter asked if I'd like to shoot an interview.  I declined.  I didn't read King until college, and I started with The Gunslinger, the first book in the Dark Tower series.  It was almost the last.  I thought it was pretty horrible (other than the opening line "The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed," which was something he'd written while at UMaine).  I gave him another chance, possibly because of the book Faithful, which he was fortuitously writing during the 2004 Red Sox season, which saw the end of the Curse.  I read more as I moved to Colorado.  King also lived in Colorado, where the inspiration for The Shining hit him.  A car hit him about a decade back, and you can find its lingering influence in pretty much everything he's written since.
  13. Yes, there has technically been trivia in this about people other than me.  This last item is definitely only about me.  I started wearing glasses in first grade.  The first time I noticed a real difference in my vision was the first time I went to school after damaging my glasses.  When I was even younger, I once put on a pair of white frames, like predicting the future.  I do not have a pair of white frame glasses, though.  (Although that would be cool.)  Predictably, with vision that got bad so early it only got progressively worse as I got older.  I subsequently earned the traditional distinction of the Coke bottles, like a regular Professor Farnsworth.  
Good news, everyone!  We've only got several thousand more words to go before this Liebster post is over!  (This may be another reason why I didn't do this last time.  Either I write short and pithy or I drone on and on...)

Squid only had had eleven questions, so I'll just have to pretend there are two extra ones as I answer them...

  1. If you could relive one year of your life again, which would you choose and why?  I think 1998 was a fairly important one as far as my creative development goes.  So that one wouldn't be so bad.
  2. If you could be good or better at one thing without putting in the time and work, what would it be?  Getting people to consider me a good first or second option for anything.  Honestly, I don't know what I can do differently myself at this point, so having a wizard do it would be really nice.
  3. You've been invited to join a bowling league and you may choose any five people to be on your team.  There's just one catch: you can only pick fictional characters.  Whom would you choose?  Well, obviously not Mr. Burns.  But the rest of the Pin Pals would be a great start.  That would give me Homer Simpson, Moe, Otto, and Apu.  I'd take Dr. Sheldon Cooper as a fifth, and we'd be named the Wesley Crushers (not the Wesley Crushers, not the Wesley Crushers).
  4. How do you really feel about pears?  I'm not passionate one way or another.  I only eat them in a fruit medley, though.
  5. How do you feel about the metric system?  Honestly, it's one of the earliest ways I learned that different cultures really are different.  And strange.  Different and strange.
  6. The Doctor knocks on your door.  He'll take you to visit any place on Earth at any point in history (he always seems to make the choices in interstellar travel).  Where and when do you choose?  This question, for those and who don't know, refers to Doctor Who.  I suppose in relation to that I would go back to 1999-2000 and take up that offer from one of my college friends at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania, where I attended my freshmen year, to watch some of his Doctor Who.  Because I still haven't gotten around to it.  I watched some of the Eccleston version, though, when it was playing in the States for the first time, but that's about it.
  7. If you could learn any new language, which would you choose?  Well, I suppose French would be nice, to actually learn it rather than basically study it.  But if I take the phrasing literally, and it's a "new" language, it'll have to be the one the alien overlords speak when they finally come.  
  8. You have one personal quality which eventually annoys everyone in your life including, on occasion, you.  What is it and do you feel it's within your power to change it?  My dad dealt with frustration by getting angry.  As a result, I do the same.  Except by "frustration," I've tended to take a lot of what I experience by that mood.  Everything irritates me.  If people around me were more generous about it, I could be a regular Larry David.  I don't mask this.  Well, I try and be tactful about it, but it's pretty obvious.  I've got an expressive face.  I don't like the idea of being phony.  If that's how I am feeling, then I can't just pretend that everything's fine.  An entire day can be ruined.  Once it starts it's hard to stop.  And you have no idea how much of common everyday behavior can easily bother someone like me.  You don't want to be employed in basically any of the jobs I've had if you've got this personality.  But because I'm terrible about handling my personal affairs, that's what I've got.  If I could change that, if I could play nice with others (although people generally like me, because I've got other personality quirks that they admire), that would be nice.  How to do that?  I have no idea.
  9. If you knew when you were younger what you'd be doing with your life now, how might you have planned things differently?  Do you think your life would truly be better if you had?  My life is pretty crappy.  It's been pretty crappy.  Yet I'm stuck in the difficult position of justifying it because creatively, I'm happy with what I've written, and what I've had to experience to write it, even if I've had no luck getting other people to care.  The real trick is, if I were happier, would I be a better or worse person?  Would I have accomplished anything that I personally could be proud of?  Again, I have no idea.  There are so many instances I can think of that if I'd made a different choice, I'd be leading a different life.  And yet as a writer, I know I'm better now than I've ever been.  If I'd written Tug Rushmore, for instance, like I wanted to straight out of college, would that be remotely worth reading today?  I still haven't written it, by the way.  It would have been my first book.  Instead I didn't start writing a book until about a year after graduating, when I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time.  Do I in fact grow more content with myself the worse my life becomes?  
  10. If all went south and you had to turn to a life of crime (assuming you haven't already), what line of dirty work would you choose?  Preferably one with as little risk as possible. Because like Fang I'm a bloody coward.  Probably something that would be very clever, like being a confidence man.  
  11. How do you get your geek on?  With comic books, science fiction, TV, professional wrestling.  Everyone's geeky about something, though.
  12. What makes you so wise?  I once ordered a burger, and it came with fries.  That's why I'm so wise.
  13. You just made that up?  No, that's a poem I wrote a few years ago.  If you like that, you'll like this one better: I did not order green eggs and ham.  I did not say my name was Sam.
Anyway, now is the point where I pass the Liebster Award to others.  Traditionally you apparently tell the recipients directly.  I'm not going to do that.  A good number of them don't even read my blog(s).  I'm simply going to direct you to thirteen blogs I enjoy:

  1. Do you have TV shows you watch obsessively?  Tell me about that.
  2. Do you have a movie or movie series you obsess over?  Tell me about that.
  3. Do you have an author you obsess over?  Tell me about that.
  4. Anything interesting about your hometown?  Tell me about that.
  5. Traveled a lot?  Tell me about that.
  6. Is there something you really hate?  Tell me about that (because it's not the Internet unless someone's talking about something they really hate).
  7. Do you have any great fears?  Tell me about that.
  8. Have any even tenuous associations with famous people?  Tell me about that.
  9. Have any relatives you want to talk about?  Tell me about that.
  10. Do you know the answer to life? the universe? everything?  Tell me about that.
  11. Is there a movie you thought was better than the book?  Tell me about that. 
  12. Do you have a favorite historical figure?  Tell me about that.
  13. Have you ever had a favorite comic strip?  Tell me about that.
That's it, really.  I switched the number to thirteen mostly because it's 2013.  I'm am amateur obsessive-compulsive type.


Al Diaz said...

Congratulations on your award! And thanks for choosing me. So your grandfather made violins? How cool is that? Plenty of interesting details about you here.

The Armchair Squid said...

Cool! Thanks for playing.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Congrats and thanks for the award. It's wierd how no one knows where it came from. I didn't know Calvin and Hobbes was still around.Didn't it end on 1995.

Tony Laplume said...

Calvin & Hobbes did in fact end in 1995. It's my enjoyment of it that continues. I guess I could have worded that better.


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