Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dispatches from the Abyss - Thursday, Oct. 4th

And today is the day I turn 34 as well as the 50th anniversary of Sputnik, the first man-made object to orbit the Earth. While my dad and I were at dinner he was telling me about what a shock it was that they did it and that his teacher in school told his class that Sputnik was the reason they should concentrate on math and science. My father was trying to think of a way he could convey the shock the world felt when the news broke about Sputnik. The best example he could come up with was that the shock would be comparable to Nigeria dropping a nuclear bomb on someone. First there would be the shock that they even had a nuclear weapon and then the shock that they would actually use it. It has been too long since my dad and I sat down and had dinner. We used to go out to dinner fairly regularly, but since I moved into Houston proper he has been finding excuses not to do dinner. Now that he sees how easy it is to get to my house he says we're going to start doing dinner more often and next time I am supposed to take him to a steak place!

After I got back home from dinner my mom called to wish me a Happy Birthday. It was good to talk to her even if there was nothing really interesting to report.

Sorry about not posting anything last night. After work Scott and I got together over at Downing Street for a couple of beers and a cigar or two. I had an Ashton Heritage that I had bought some time ago and Scott gave me a cigar made by Padilla Cigar Company which I am saving. I might light it up Saturday night, we'll see. I still need to decide what to wear on Saturday night. Part of me wants to bust out the kilt if it is cool enough. I was thinking the kilt with a white shirt, tie, cream stockings, and Ghillies. The thing I can't decide on is which sporran to wear. Should I wear my formal fur sporran or my casual black sporran? At some point I need to nut up and buy a brown sporran as well as set of brown and black sporran straps. You know if it was supposed to be cool enough I would wear a sweater and the dress sporran, but I think I will just go with khakis and one of my Cubavera shirts. And a luchadore mask. (j/k...or am I?) I need to do something where I can wear my kilt again; it has been too long.

Oops, got distracted there being a clothes horse and all. After I got home from Downing Street I had some leftovers for dinner and then went and was lazy on the couch for far longer than I meant to be. By the time I was thinking about sitting down and writing it was already almost midnight. I was fighting to stay awake while lounging on the couch so I decided to go ahead and call it a night rather than force myself to write for an hour and end up staying up WAY too late rather than just kind of too late.

I recently finished the second Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus from Dark Horse comics. Ryan Sook is the perfect choice for the stories featuring Spike and Dru, but some of their other artistic choices were a bit off, particularly Hector Gomez who was the penciller on the final story in the collection. His art is good enough but until Xander said Willow's name I did not know who the character with the long hair was since her and Cordelia ended up having the exact same face. Come to think of it none of the characters really looked like the actors that portrayed them, something which needs to be done in comics of this sort. If you're really in to Buffy then this collection will be right up your alley, but it is not really something for the casual fan. I also finally started reading the collection of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's smash hit series Phonogram. Back when this book first came out it was the darling of the comicsblogoweb and thus I was not able to track down a copy (much like Mouse Guard) so I had to wait for it in trade. So far it is VERY interesting and I am looking forward to getting into it more. The main character describes himself as a phonomancer and I have started to think about this as a sort of shaman in Shadowrun. Once I am done with the book I may scribble some ideas down and see where they get me.

While I am on the disparate subjects of my birthday and comics, there is one comic I need to recommend to any of you out there who are WWII aviation enthusiasts like me. Romain Hugault's The Final Flight. While it clocks in at only 52 pages for $10 it has some of the best aviation art I have seen in a long time. It contains stories about four different pilots in different theaters of WWII which are all interconnected. The stories are enjoyable, but really the best thing about this book is Hugault's artwork. You get to see a Japanese Zero, an F4U Corsair, a P-38 Lightning, several P-47 Thunderbolts, FW-190s (an example of which has recently been resurrected in Germany), Messerschmitt Bf 109s, B-24s, P-51s, and Yakolev YAK-9Ts. I love the paint jobs on the Russian planes! Your best bet for getting this book is probably to try and order it from the publisher, Paquet. If you're interested in seeing more of Romain's work you can check out the gallery he did for the Paris Airshow 2007. (Here is a link to a painting he did of a Russian MiG-29.)

I really think the CAF or Lone Star Flight Museum ought to get this guy to do a series of lithos of their various planes. They could then put them together in a calendar. Since the author is an aviation enthusiast and pilot himself I bet they could work out some trade where he donates the art to them. I would totally buy one of the calendars.

Speaking of planes check out this SFX clip from the upcoming Red Baron movie:

Hey look! The shitty formatting is back! And you can see a better version of this clip here. Be warned this one takes a long time to load.

HFS! I have not seen Flyboys since it got such crap reviews but I had VERY high hopes for the movie. From what I can tell this appears to be a pretty high-quality project so I cannot wait until it makes it to our shores. To tide you over until then here is the official site, the pretty much useless IMDB entry, and the Wikipedia entry which has some interesting links at the bottom.

Can you tell I am SOOOOO ready for Saturday to get here so I can go to the airshow? I love watching old warbirds fly. There is something beautiful and graceful in the way they move through the air that more modern planes have lost. I think part of it is just the design of the planes themselves. Even the really aggressive looking planes are all smooth lines and curves whereas more modern jet fighters are angular. You know what? Let us take a moment to enjoy the curves of a Spitfire as it goes through its paces at the Russell Group air show from 2006:

God I love those planes!

Well, I have managed to get myself good and distracted by a couple of things so this is not going to be an hour of uninterrupted writing. I am going to keep at it until 12:30 and then start working on getting this bad boy up on Blogger so I can hit the sack.

So I complained in one of my last posts about the fact that my iPod had locked up on me and this necessitated me wearing down the battery before I could do anything with it. This meant that I was without my iPod during my commute on Wednesday. This being the case I went ahead and took the Phonogram collection with me, intending to read it on the way into the office on the train. Of course this means that the train was full that morning and there was no seats available. ARGH! Even though my iPod was back in full effect today I went ahead and took both the Phonogram collection and the latest Tolkien book, The Children of Hurin, with me with the intent of reading. The train was worse this morning. ARGH! At least I had some funkwoodjamz to occupy my mind, which was nice until a bunch of noisy punk-ass kids decided to get on the train at the McGowen stop. Not only were they loud, but they all stood right in front of the door and made it very difficult to get out of the train. Damn kids. GET OFF MY TRAIN!

I had a completely random encounter at Downing Street last night! Scott had gone to return some of the beer he had leased from the bar and get some more smokes leaving me alone out on the patio. This was okay because for all the bitching I do about that pit of evil some call Taco Milagro, the scenery over there can be very nice at times and Wednesday night was a good night. While I was sitting there, puffing away at my Ashton and splitting my contemplation between the wild ass running around Taco Milagro and how tasty Amstel Light can be, an old friend of mine, Tim Brisko, appeared out of nowhere. I am sure he came from Taco Milagro and he was catching a ride with one of his compatriots so basically we just shook hands and said hello, but it was cool to see him, if even only for a couple of minutes. I forgot to tell Matt about this when he called last night to brag about his triumph at some bachelor auction for which he had volunteered to be auctioned off. He only went for $60 to a girl he was already going to take out anyways. I so should have tried to get some of the girls in the group to go and run up the score on him. Particularly Katie. She would scare the shit out of him. Anyhoo, apparently Matt walked away from this auction with three or four phone numbers of bachelorettes as well as an email address or two. Now he is convinced I need to do this despite my protestations that I turn in to a complete freak show in front of attractive women. I am not certain why this is. Generally I am fairly confident about myself. I know I am smart, funny, and fun to be with, but I guess I get caught up in the whole being fat thing. I know how guys should dress and if I could get fashionable clothes that fit reasonably I would, but nice clothes for fat fucks like me are not cheap and I fall into a weird category where anything I buy off the rack really needs to be tailored for me and how I wear my clothes. Ultimately I guess it is because I am lazy and just couldn't be arsed to do anything about it because, despite liking how I look in suits and so on, I am more comfortable in a pair of jeans and a camp shirt and fat fucks in jeans and camp shirts are a dime a dozen in this town.

Wow! Hey look kids, we've ended up talking about women again, even if just tangentially, so I guess I ought to go ahead and dive into at least one of the subjects which has been bothering me and that subject is Margaret. (I suppose the phrase "dive in" might be a poor choice of words here, but I am nothing if not inappropriate.) Many moons ago Margaret and I dated. There was kissing and some inappropriate touching, but at the same time she was sleeping with two or three ex-boyfriends. This did not really bother me too much since I understand the need to get laid and I am not the sort to jump into even a casual relationship with my britches around my ankles, so I waited for a month or so to see where things were headed with us. By the time I got to the headspace where I was ready to sleep with Margaret she was out of the wanting to sleep with me headspace. While I can't remember the exact date I do remember that she broke this news to me at my first AA* party. Basically she said that she just wanted to date me and fuck other guys. This is where I should have told her to fuck right off and been done with it but I am nothing if not too nice and too desperate so I keep hanging around with her in the vain hope that things might go somewhere. And then there was the whole thing about really liking Margaret and thinking that she might be someone with whom there had been the potential for a very long term relationship there. Boy was I wrong on several counts there.

Now let me back up for a moment and share something else with you. Several of my friends who happen to be girls back in College Station do not like Margaret AT ALL because of how (Hah! I initially typed hos rather than how) she behaved while we were dating. The specific problem they had with her was how she flirted with Abe, my roommate at the time, while she was ostensibly with me. This will become important later.

After a while I got tired of putting in all the work of dating Margaret and not getting any of the rewards. Quite frankly I got tired of her shit right around the time she left UCS so it was easy to just be done with her. I did not have to see her at work and with Margaret it was out of sight, out of mind so I was golden.

Once Abe returned from his deployment to Kosovo things changed as suddenly Margaret started hanging around again. By this time Abe and I were living in a big house so when Margaret was over it was easy for me to ignore her if I was so inclined. This crap basically continued until I left College Station.

I am not sure what started it but for some reason I invited Margaret to come down to Houston and go out drinking with me one weekend. We went out and things seemed to be fine however this was a huge fucking mistake on my part as I started to think I had feelings for her again. Margaret has this incredible smile that just kills me every time she lets it fly and I honestly enjoy hanging out with her. One of the things you should know about Margaret is that the old saying "In vino, veritas" really applies to her. She gets drunk and she starts speaking the truth as she sees it. As she gets closer to graduation we start to hang out a little more and during her truth stages she goes through two things over and over again. First she felt like the world was stacked against her because she was a woman and she wasn't certain she was heading into a field she wanted to be in for the rest of her life. Stuff I would consider usual graduation anxiety. The other thing is she started to ride my ass about "abandoning" her in College Station. She would tell me time and time again that the only reason she was hanging out with Abe was to make me jealous. It worked a little bit but I am a stubborn ass so I wasn't going to give her the satisfaction of knowing that. At the time I so wanted to point out that she was the one who decided I was worth dating but not fucking and if she had wanted to remain friends after that little revelation she should have put more work in to the friendship, but I held my tongue because the past was the past and, being the pathetic jackass I am, I was thinking that maybe we had a new future ahead of us.

Things came to a head right around Thanksgiving of last year. She was in town for some reason or another and we went out to Downing for a few rounds. We got a little drunk and for some reason that night I decided to make my move. There was some fumbling and inappropriate touching before Margaret put a stop to everything and basically told me to fuck off. I was so wound up I was actually shaking. I went and took a cold shower and still had trouble falling asleep. I did not sleep real well that night. The next morning was one of those uncomfortable moments where I was embarrassed about getting turned away and so I was probably a little gruff. I think we emailed once or twice since then and I have only seen her once.

Back when we were dating for some reason we were talking about what our biggest problem is when we are in a relationship. Mine, hands down, is jealousy. It has always been a bit of a problem for me and led to the demise of more than one relationship but the whole Kat imbroglio really brought it to the fore. It went from being something that was just dumb to something I had to consciously confront and deal with on several occasions. During the course of this discussion her behavior with Abe came up and somehow she ended up promising me that she was not interested in Abe and would not date him regardless of how things ended up with us.

So a few months ago I am on Gmail when Abe pops in to check his mail. We end up chatting for quite awhile when out of the blue he mentions that he and Margaret are dating now. (She lives in Arlington BTW.) I ended the conversation with Abe pretty quick as I needed to go have a drink right then. Ideally I would go have a drink and get in a fight because my mad was up, however I am not that sort of guy so Scott and I headed over to Downing where I proceeded to down Appletons and Cokes like they were going out of style and smoke the last of my Cuban cigars. Seemed like as good an occasion as any. While I was there I started writing about my entire relationship with Margaret in my head but I never got past the opening:

There I was at the bar. Again. Rum and Coke in one hand and the last of my Cubans in the other as I fought the urge to punch someone. A stupid, self-destructive urge to get in a fight that can only be brought on by a woman. Not just any woman, but the one that got away and yet still manages to twist you into an ugly thing barely recognizable as human.

I have thought about how to tell this story time and time again and have never gotten past the ball of hate I have in my stomach for both her and Abe.

Scott was an excellent drinking companion that night. He did not offer any advice and just nodded in agreement when I said things about fuckin' women. A little later Matt suggested that I should think about whether I will still care about this when I am 80. Of course the answer is I certainly hope not but I still feel justified in my anger at the both of them. For her it is not so much the broken promise as the fact that this means when she was dating me and flirting with Abe there really was something there. This plays into the anger I have towards Abe as well, however more of it comes from the thought of "Bros before Hos." If I plan on asking out someone a friend of mine has dated then I am going to ask my friend if he minds. Ultimately my friendships with Rob, Scott, Kyle, and Matt are too important to me to risk over pussy. So in the end I wish I would have embraced the chance to tell Margaret to go fuck herself when I had the chance. C'est la vie.

Tune in tomorrow when the Happy James Funtime Hour pretends to be fun!

* Please note that AA here does not stand for Alcoholics Anonymous, I am a drunk not an alcoholic, but rather Autonomous Acres

(I would like to point out that I made it through the entire section about Matt being auctioned off like some poor man's Jason Lee without making any Mallrats references or quotes whatsoever. Well fuck.)

Star Trek Generations Soundtrack by Dennis McCarthy
The Da Vinci Code Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer

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