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The Reading List: Lonesome Dove

The Reading List is a segment of the blog where I let you know the thing I just read and some thoughts about it along with the next book in my list. Should you want to read along with me, let me know in the comments!

For a long time, Lonesome Dove was a bit of a joke in my family. My dad watched and fell in love with the miniseries back in the early 90’s. His taste in movies is pretty much limited to things with horses so his love for it was kind of written of as, “it’s probably just another horse movie.” Yet he would tell everyone he could that it was one of the best stories ever written and that everyone should watch it.

Thirty years after he initially told me to watch it, I picked up the book. I could have just turned on the show and watched it and been done with it, but I’m a reader, and a believer that if there is a book of it, you should read it. I was inspired not by my dad telling me I should read it, but by a booked call “1000 Books to Read Before You Die” by James Mustich. It’s on his list, and therefore I should read it.

This book is a treasure to me.

This is a long story, but it’s one that you can learn to take your time with. It doesn’t get in a hurry. It’s cadence is much like the pace of the characters on the journey in the book. They go slowly, but they go with purpose. We meet our first characters, Augustus McCrae and Woodrow F. Call, right out of the gate. These two people are some of the most well written characters in literature. Augustus, or Gus, is crotchety, wise, clever, fun loving, and lazy. Call is everything opposite of that. He’s stubborn, quiet, and everything is about work. They play off of each other so well, and I think many of us could hope to have a relationship like theirs.

There are a whole bunch of characters that come into play as you read, like Deets, Jake Spoon, Newt, Pea Eye, and of course, the lovely Lorena. Lorena is what they refer to as a “sporting woman” who pretty much everyone is in love with but she won’t give them the time of day. All she wants to do is get to San Francisco.

Our character begin their journey when they find that there is a paradise far north of Texas called Montana, and it’s nothing but beautiful country unsettled and still wild. Call gets wind of this and decides it’s time to close up shop in Lonesome Dove and drive some cattle up there. The fates of several characters become intertwined thanks to this one decision and from there the adventure takes off.

I could sit here and tell you the whole story, but I’d rather just tell you that inside this book are some of the most real and believable moments of any book I’ve ever read. Over the 855 page read, you will get attached to them. There’s no way to avoid it. I cared so deeply for some of these folks because the writer, Larry McMurtry, takes so much care in writing about their fears, joys, and shortcomings. They’re breathing people in my head. I will say that I was driven to tears at least three times while reading this book for different reasons.

I love stories about journeys. Sometimes those are physical and sometimes it’s just character growth, but they work for me. This one is full of both. I love Gus as a character so much that I named my latest work laptop after him, and I’m sure I’ll do the same with something else. Maybe a pet…or a kid..or something.j

I ended up watching the miniseries after reading this and I have to say that it holds up incredibly well. The book is better because you get to understand what the character is feeling, but may of the actors in the show do an incredible job with the source material. Nothing of significance is added or taken away, and I’m super grateful for that. I kind of wish they would remake it these days, but I also can’t see anyone but Robert Duvall as Gus. He played him exactly as I saw him in my head. It really is a masterpiece.

Anyway, I think you should read this. It’s fantastic. Just set aside some time and pace yourself because it’s a big book.

Now I’m off to something else. I don’t know what yet, but I’ll post here when I figure out what it’s going to be. I’m open to suggestions. Comment here if you have a book you think I should read!

The Reading List: The Stand

The Reading List is a segment of the blog where I let you know the thing I just read and some thoughts about it along with the next book in my list. Should you want to read along with me, let me know in the comments! 

Boy, The Stand was one long and rough journey. Both for me and the characters in the book. This is one of those books that people will tell you that you should definitely read, and I’m here to tell you that they are all right. You should read it. You should be prepared to work through it, but if you can get through all 1200 pages, you’re in for a very satisfying story.

Stephen King’s novel was released in 1979, but apparently people were upset that he didn’t include 500 pages worth of “extra” material, so it was republished in the early 90’s. I never read the original cut, so I really don’t know what was missing in the original. I do have an inkling of what might have been left out. There are some long rat holes into the lives of what I might consider to be secondary characters, but really at the end it ended up being pretty important. The only review I can give you is on the epic 1200 pages that I plowed through.

The short story is, I loved it! It was such an incredibly well written and well paced story. It took forever to finally get to the summary you read on the back. You don’t get to meet Mother Abigail for maybe 600 pages. Knowing that there was a “stand” coming, but never seeing an inkling of it for almost half the book was a little tough. Though I did find it pretty fun to read each character’s journey and how they found each other. By the time all the main characters got together, I knew who they were. I knew their past and what made them who they were. They were all fully formed humans once the story got rolling.

One chapter in particular blew my mind, and that was Chapter 8. It’s the section of the book that simply spends some time talking about how the plague, Captain Trips, spread from person to person. It was amazing to read how one person took it to three people who took it to another four who then took it to seven people. It’s not like reading geneaologies in the Bible though. It’s not boring. This book is never truly boring. Stephen King has a way of wrapping you into stuff that should be really straight forward and then turning it just a little askew. He shifts the normal just enough that it’s weird and slightly off putting.

There were a few characters that I loved reading about. Nick Andros, Stu Redman, and Tom Cullen. I mean, there are plenty of other fascinating folks in this book, but these guys were the heroes. There was also Frannie Goldsmith and, of course, Randall Flagg (aka The Dark Man.) Nick was a deaf and mute dude who managed to do more than anyone would have expected considering the world he ended up in. Stu was just a great guy who managed to get rolled in with all the other right people. He was kind of the patient zero in the story. One of the folks that was closest to the original victims but never seemed to catch the flu. Tom was mentally challenged but very much ends up being a key to saving the day. 

Randall Flagg though, man. That guy was dispicable and deranged. King doesn’t hold back in letting you know that he’s some other kind of force in this book. He quickly tells you all about Flagg’s history and his status as Satan’s Imp. He’s a bad dude, and he’s always been around. He just waits for the next catastrophe and tries to capitalize on it to rip people apart. The only good news we have is that he doesn’t win… or does he? You might walk way wondering if the world is going to be awesome after all the dust settles, or if we’re just doomed to repeat our mistakes over and over. Was the haven in Boulder really any better than all the convicts in Vegas? I still don’t know, and it’s something I’m likely to be thinking about for a while.

This is definitely a must read. Give it a try.

Next up: The Heroes – Joe Abercrombie

That Was Close

I’m almost 100% certain that I just ran into Dave Gardner from the Double Fine Adventure documentary at my local coffee shop. He was an animator on Broken Age, and a pretty cool dude, at least as far as I could tell. I was too chicken to say hello and tell him I loved the game. Oh well! Maybe next time.

It’s a small world.

Another New Thing

I’m trying out yet another new blogging platform to see if it meets my needs. The good news about this one is that it’s completely free. Especially if I decide to host it on Github Pages. I really enjoy using Ghost as my blogging platform, but the major downside is that I have to self-host it and that costs money. I don’t really want to spend money so it leaves me with only a few options. I can use my existing wordpress blog on Dreamhost, but it’s a bit slow and wordpress is just too heavy for my needs now. I could use a service like Blogger or Tumblr, but I really don’t want to do that since I won’t have direct access to the database and all that good stuff. Since Ghost is looking to be out of the question, Github might be the next best thing.

The thing about Github Pages is the whole thing is generated from markdown files that I have on my local machine. All I have to do is commit to a certain branch, and BOOM, blog is online. It’s a really neat system, but the barrier of entry is a little high for someone who doesn’t already use Github for their day to day work. I’m used to doing a lot of this stuff thanks to my job, so it’s not too bad for me. Wrangling Jekyll took a little bit of work but there are some nifty plugins out there to get it up and running faster.

We’ll see how this goes and hope for the best. My major concern is being able to export the data from the Jekyll instance into another blogging platform if I ever need to. The good news is that I may be able to do it no matter what since the markdown files for every post are available to me all the time. Worst case scenario, I have to write a script to take all the posts and format them for me to meet the needs of the platform I’m moving to.

Either way, I’m pretty happy with it and we’ll see if I keep it up. I think it’s going well so far!

Catching Up

I really let this blog fall to the wayside again. I was doing so well too! Oh well, let’s just give this a try again and see where we get this time. I don’t feel too bad, but there has been a lot going on and a lot of things that happened that warrant at least one post to catch up on it all. I don’t really feel to much like writing or anything, so this may be short. Then again, I tend to type most when I wasn’t really in the mood for any of it. Here goes.

The last post that I wrote, I talked about how my grandfather was sick and back in the hospital. After a rollercoaster of an emotional weekend and two trips to Alabama, he passed away. March 13, 2013 was the date. I’m not sure how I was supposed to feel, but in a lot of ways I felt relief that he didn’t have to suffer anymore. His breathing was so shallow, he probably weighed 80 pounds soaking wet, and he was just hanging on for the sake of hanging on. He passed away peacefully there in the hospital, and was buried at the Macedonia church cemetary in Alabama.

I actually was given the privilege of leading the funeral service, which was kind of scary but at the same time it may have been the easiest public speaking I’d ever done. I got up in front of family and friends to talk about how awesome my grandfather was and to also comfort them in a time they needed it. I believe that God totally prepared me for that moment, and had been gearing me up for it for at least a few months. He’s been pulling me really close and I’ve seen some amazing things happen in the process. I felt like it was a great opportunity for me to open the lines of conversation with folks about how much God really loves us, and when we as Christians die, it’s just God calling us home. It’s stuff like that that helps us to deal with death and what’s going on when we pass. I firmly believe that’s the way it is anyway. I’ve seen and felt too much to convince me to think otherwise.

That was a pretty big event for all of us, but things have gotten a bit back to normal. I’m not entirely sure how the rest of my extended family is really doing right now, as I’m sure it’s a lot different and pretty lonely without him here. We’ll get through it just like anything else though. Not that it’s easy.

In other news, Stephanie and I have been getting more and more involved in the church and trying to help out. It’s been incredibly rewarding for both of us. I’m so glad that we decided to really pick a church and be a part of something there. I’ve probably gotten  more out of it than I’ve put in, but it’s been so awesome. I ran the video switcher today, which was basically just a hardware version of CamTwist for me to use. I was shocked at how similar the two are. I feel like maybe all the podcasting I’ve been doing over the years has really prepared me to do this kind of thing. It’s amazing  how God can find a way to use all the little hobbies that you have. It’s super exciting. I really like helping out there :).

Steph also got a job!! She’s working for Walgreen’s (not the retail side) and is having a blast with it. I’m so proud of her. It’s incredible. We’re truly blessed to have finally found a place we love to live, friends we really enjoy hanging with, and jobs we really like. It took us a while to get here, but we did it! Life’s good so far, man. There’s a speed bump or two along the way, but that’s just the way it is. Always look to the brighter side and dwell on positive things, that way nothing will get you down. 🙂

Thumpin’ in My Trunk

BassI’m surrounded by bass on all sides. Not bass like the fish; bass like the sound. The problem with this particular bass is that it’s not mine. I live in an apartment complex, which is basically a simple way of saying “a concentrated area of people who, though separated, share a common living space.” I get to live in my downstairs neighbor’s living room at random points of the day via her excellent sound system. It’s definitely a really good one, but unfortunately for me, I don’t want to have to listen to it all time. The neighbor next to us has an even more powerful system. The worst part about her is that her bedroom is right up against ours. We had the privilege of waking up to 90’s rap hits on Saturday morning around 9am >_<.

Get that JSON

I made nearly zero progress on my fun web app at work today. I absolutely hate when that happens because I feel like I do all kinds of work, but then I come out with very little forward movement. I’m starting to think that I know very little about javascript, and I’m just bumbling my way through things. I’m at the point where I can read it but I can’t write it. It’s kind of like Spanish. I know enough to get by and figure out what someone is trying to say, but I can’t quite say anything back. I’m losing my mind with it. 

Maintenance

Please excuse the completely un-customized theme for a minute. I’m going to have to make some adjustments to make this blog mine again. After the WordPress 3.0 upgrade, the site got a little messed up so I had to drop back to the default theme. I should have it working again soon. Thanks for the patience!

smart people are awesome

This guy has hit the nail on the head in just 3 paragraphs. I love this guy’s philosophy on work, it shouldn’t have to be as serious as we all make it. Work can be fun and we can still get a lot done, if not more. I might get this book, all from reading this guys little blog post. His name’s Doug Rushkoff by the way. The book might be good.

As my lectures bring me from industry to industry, I find myself amazed by just how little fun most people are having. Whether separated from one another by policy, competition, or cubicle, the last thing that seems to occur to people is to have fun together—when it should be the first priority. Instead, managers feel obligated to reign over employees; executives think they must hoodwink their shareholders; sales believe they must strong-arm their clients; and marketers assume they must manipulate the consumer. All for the life-or-death stakes of the next quarterly report…

Instead of relentlessly pursuing survival even after our survival needs are met, we must learn how to do things because they fulfill us— because they are, in a word, fun. Fun is not a distraction from work or a drain on our revenue; it is the very source of both our inspiration and our value. A genuine sense of play ignites our creativity, eases communication, promotes goodwill and engenders loyalty, yet we tend to shun it as detrimental to the seriousness with which we think we need to approach our businesses and careers.

If we can switch our orientation to fun, and see it not as an anarchic threat that needs to be quelled but rather as the core motivator and source of meaning for all human thought and behavior beyond basic survival, we will enable ourselves to reach levels of success that were previously unimaginable. Our very definition of success transcends survivalist notions such as cash reserves, time remaining, or personal safety, into the realms of self-worth, meaning, connection to others, and greater purpose. Plus, it’s better business.

Via Boing Boing