Unfinished books

Tomorrow starts the reading challenge for 2020, the first month is the unfinished books I have been neglecting throughout the year. The list includes four titles by Jim Harrison, one epic novel by Will Self, Thomas McGuane’s first novel, Henning Mankell’s last book, plus a few about pipes and food. There are also two titles in my Hoopla Audiobook files that I need to finish.
Most of these books I am about half way through and the only time I really have to read these days is after work before bed. Once in a while, who am I kidding, every night my daughter helps by waking up at 3am and not falling back asleep until 5am. I haven’t figured out what I will do with the books when I am finished with them. Time will tell.

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Project 2020 is a go!

Every year there are things that I set out to do and most of them are left as distant memories sitting in a smoldering pile of crap. These are goals I set for myself and are quickly forgotten for various reasons. The excuse of “Life” is often used, and going along with life has only gotten me so far. After turning forty and running out of excuses I have decided that it is time to “Man Up” and make these changes that I keep telling myself that I need to do. The new year is as good of a time as any to try something new and see what sticks and what doesn’t.
This project has three different aspects to it; reading, fitness, and finance. Why did I pick these three? They are the three things that have irritated me the most about my life. I don’t read as much as I would like, instead always choosing to watch some shitty show on Netflix and wasting my time that could be spent doing something more productive. Skipping to finance, it bugs the crap out of me how much of my monthly payment on my house is eaten up by interest. Instead of complaining I think it is a better idea to do something about it and have some joy in knowing the mortgage company won’t make as much as they were hoping. Finally fitness, my dad had a second heart attack this year and while I am young I have noticed that I’m no longer in the kind of shape I was in at 30. Lifting weights and running were part of my daily routine and since I moved into my wife’s house there isn’t any room for exercise equipment. Walking as become my routine, towing my daughter behind me in a wagon, but that hasn’t kept the pounds off and reaching an ungodly 225 pounds. I haven’t weighed that since I was married in 2003 and back then I bought P90X shredding down to an athletic 185. Even when I was at my most muscular state, I only peaked at 205 for a frame of 5 foot 9 inches. Either way, I need to lose about 40 pounds.
Reading challenge is as follows, each month there will be an author that I will read. At the end of the month I will reveal the books I read, what I thought, and what I recommend. The list of authors is as follows:
Jan- read unfinished books and clean out Goodreads list.
Feb- louis L’amour
March- Will Self
April- Craig Johnson
May- Joe R Lansdale
June- Thomas McGuane
July- Jim Harrison
Aug- Larry McMurtry
Sept- E. L. Doctorow
Oct- Mark Twain
Nov- Philip Roth
Dec- Michael Perry
Read along if you like, my current reads will be logged in on Goodreads under Matthew Gilman.
Workout Goals include:
-lose 40 pounds by June 2020
-Eat less carbs. Limit myself to 1-2 drinks per week.
-Eat oatmeal every morning.
-Drink 2 glasses of whole milk after every workout.
While I do have a schedule of things I would like to do I have decided that I need to ease into things and set the bar low at first. Free weight workouts will get me started in the winter months while I also play around with diet. I want to see what kind of changes I can get from playing around with carnivore diets, paleo, vegan, and intermediate fasting. I’m not that interested in bulking up since my joints might be able to handle the weight they once did over a decade ago. While I experiment with these diets I also want to find recipes in cookbooks I have collected over the years and not be stuck with the same boring crap you would see an athlete or bodybuilder eating.
Finance Goals:
Obviously if you want to pay down a mortgage you start by making payment towards the principle. I sat down and made a budget for the year that doesn’t give me much wiggle room. If I keep myself busy with the two other goals, I should be able to stash away $1100 a month towards my mortgage totaling $13,200 for the year. It’s a good chunk of cash and I’m hoping I will see some results when it comes to the principle. Any other money that comes my way will also be thrown at that monstrosity. We will see what the end result is.
So, that’s it, my project 2020 for the coming year. You can also find videos on YouTube at Typing Piper and follow along there with updates.

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Will By Will Self

I was able to find a uncorrected proof of Will on Ebay while searching for other books by Will Self. At the time I was disappointed to see some unflattering reviews, but considering that some of them admitted to not finishing the damn thing or complaining about things like the English spelling and Vernacular of the dialogue I had to give a go.
considering the subject matter and where Mr. Self is currently in his life I was not surprised that he referred to himself in the third person. As a man in my 40s now I have to say I am not the same person I was back in my 20s. The stories at appear to jump back and forth connecting here and there and ultimately coming back to the beginning. There are catch phrases that are repeated “Againanagain” being one and “Waste not want not.” there are several of these and a few appear to be song lyrics appropriate for the time. there is an odd mix of writing in Italics but I took it as pointing out the importance of the phrase and it of course came up in the story at some time later tying the book together in these fine threads.
I’m not an addict and have never gone to AA or tried hard drug ever in my life, but I do know people who have gone that path and most of them are no longer with us. from what I saw and the things I know that happened I can say that regardless of this book taking place over the pond and in India, for a short period of time, the life of an addict is the same and I for one am glad that Mr. Self was able to pull himself out of it. I doubt this book will ever be turned into a movie or a Netflix series and it doesn’t need to. The format of the novel was the perfect format to tell it and there is should remain.

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Get Off My Lawn You Goddamn Kids!

The following is a rebuttal to my last post “Hollywood, the bunk movie dealers.” These are not my words and have not been edited in anyway (except for this intro). if you would like to join the discussion comment below. –Matt
By Stephen Wolthuis

Matt and I have spent hours, and I mean HOURS, discussing every imaginable topic, mostly while drinking of course. What I love most is that we don’t argue, nor do we just agree with each other for the sake of it, we discuss; it’s quite nice to be honest. So, when he sent me a link to his newest article, I happily set about reading it, expecting to agree with most and disagree with parts, but generally enjoying it. However, this was different. While I still enjoyed reading it, I found myself wholeheartedly disagreeing. I messaged him requesting the opportunity for a rebuttal to which he more than enthusiastically agreed to post. So here it is. Let the discussion commence!
Matt and I are close in age, about a year apart, so we grew up with the same cultural touchstones; Star Wars, Transformers, Goonies, Saturday morning cartoons, Reaganomics, etc. I am an unabashed nostalgia junky; I wear it on my sleeve and make no apologies. But nostalgia can be dangerous, it can cut you off from truly great things right in front of you and, even worse, it can create a belief that there existed this great time when all was perfect (MAGA anyone?). So, when Matt stated that 1999 was the last year movies were good, I shook my head and thought “nostalgia just took another one”.
I love the movies I grew up with! I make my daughter watch Goonies. I still think fondly of spending an entire summer in my high school years watching every classic I could get my hands on. Spielberg, Zemeckis, and Lucas defined my childhood and Kubrick, Scorsese, and Coppola brought me into adulthood. Most importantly, I remember the great year of movies from 1999. I also remember, as Matt pointed out, how it also featured the steaming pile of garbage that was the Phantom Menace (I saw it 9 times, convinced it would magically become great….it didn’t). But where Matt and I diverge is in the twenty years since.
Let go back to 2010. Christopher Nolan had come become a big name through his clever work on Memento and his fantastic take on comic book movies with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. But in 2010 he headed back to original works with Inception. I still remember seeing it for the first time. I was absolutely blown away with the concept of the movie. Visually dazzling, a story that grabs you, and writing that pops (“you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling”). I hadn’t left a theater that thrilled since I was a preteen staring at the screen while velociraptors chased children around a kitchen in Jurassic Park. And the soundtrack, I encourage everyone to listen to Hans Zimmer’s “Time”. I agree with Matt on the power of the music of movies; John Williams is always my number one played artist on Spotify. Inception became a huge financial and critical success; and it holds up great nearly ten years on.
I want to talk about another film, dramatically different but no less incredible. Richard Linklater spend twelve years making Boyhood. He systematically filmed briefly each year to capture the coming of age story of Mason. This movie left me a bit breathless when I finished. As my wife likes to say, “it gave me all the feels”. It’s easy enough to try a new “trick” in filmmaking, but Linklater created a movie that would not have been the same without the use of the same actor. I left looking back on so many moments from growing up that I was almost afraid to watch it again. The soundtrack too should be mentioned, featuring great tracks from Wilco, Arcade Fire, The Black Keys.
I bring these two movies up for a reason, they are originals works that are distinctly modern and I believe both will stand the test of time. There are countless others I could mention, from Lord of the Rings or the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to The Departed or John Wick. In the same hand I could mention that every E.T. has a Mac and Me, or every The Deerhunter has Heaven’s Gate. When we dismiss an entire two decades outright and anything going forward, we miss the opportunity to truly see the great work out there or allow ourselves to simply enjoy what’s in front of us. Is the market overly diluted? Absolutely! Is there an emphasis on rehashing the same old crap? Yep! But greatness is sitting write in front of us, and it isn’t hard to find. I refuse to be the guy screaming at kids to get off my lawn, and instead give the new stuff a try……. but do actually stay off my goddamn lawn!

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Hollywood, the bunk movie dealers

I shouldn’t be surprised by the negative reviews coming out about the latest Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker, if you can call it that. It would appear that the lobotomized prostitution of everything I enjoyed about my childhood is complete and that there is nothing else left to ruin, that I can think of anyway. Star Trek was rebooted with the same old characters brought to a long, slow, painful death in a world that I don’t recognize. Star Wars had the shit fest of bringing back characters who wanted to stay dead and didn’t bother creating any new ones we would give crap about. GI Joe, hell, I don’t know if that one is worth mentioning. I think it all started with Transformers, that was where this all started. It all started with a douchebag named Michael Bay.
There was a time when movies were good, when you could go to a theater and spend a couple bucks and not hate yourself after you left wondering “what the hell am I doing with my life?” or “how can I get my money back?” The world has changed in the last twenty years and for some reason Hollywood has no interest in investing in anything that is new or imaginative. Its like they have given up because they know we, the public, will continue to dish out cash on whatever shitshow they put on the big screen. It’s as if they are counting on us being too dumb to care.
There is substance that is missing from movies today. We traded classic culture for modern trivial trash hoping it would connect better with the new generation. Instead of having the mood of the movie brought out by classical music they resort to bad hip hop and pop music trash that will not stand up to the test of time. I grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy, Indiana Jones, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, hell I can’t list all the great movies from then but I can tell you it all stopped around 1999.
In my old age of 40 years old, I have grown fond of classical music. There isn’t a message being pushed, no stupid repeating lyrics that run through my head over and over again. There are moments when I hear sounds, the rise to a crescendo, the roar of trumpets with cannons in the background, a piano telling a story, and sometimes a flute taking me to a wooded forest far away with creatures I will never meet. Sometimes when I listen to that music, I hear bits and pieces of the movies I loved growing up.
George Lucas listened to classical music when he was writing the original scripts for Star Wars and when he had the movies in production, he told John Williams the pieces he was listening to for certain scenes. They didn’t steal the music from composers, they used the feelings that they gave the audience. To watch a movie these days is to feel like you have driven through traffic at the five o’clock rush hour and almost got into an accident a half dozen times. There is no rhyme or reason to it, the plot usually doesn’t make any sense. Keep the audience watching and don’t give them time to think.
The worse offense that Hollywood is guilty of these days is pushing a political agenda that the majority of the population is tired of. It leaves these movies to be quickly forgotten and no longer standing the test of time. Instead of touching on a subject that all generations go through at some point they instead concentrate on subjects that nobody will be talking about a year or two from now. A New Hope was based on Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, a mythical story telling model that worked for thousands of years, one that everyone can connect with. Now we have… nothing. It’s hard to tell what writers are working with, things seem to happen for no reason and when the going gets tough they throw something in that just keeps the story going.
When Spielberg worked on Jaws he had trouble getting the lighting of the water and sky just right so the scenes matched. Every installment of Star Wars were three years apart with enough time in between to get things right. Hollywood has become lazy, unwilling to put forth the effort to gain the audience respect expecting them to fork over their money just because you made something. That’s not how this works, you have to give us something we want to see, where we say “thank you” in the end and want more.
I watched the Phantom Menace three times in the first week it came out because I couldn’t believe how bad it was. “It seriously can’t be that bad, can it?” It was. I viewed Attack of the Clones once to figure out it was trash and I never saw Revenge of the Sith in the theater. My money wasting habit was over. I would not be fooled again. I did eventually try to see Revenge of the Sith, picking up a copy for $1 used at a second hand store. I put it in the DVD player and fell asleep the three times it tried to watch it, always waking up to some guy screaming and crying with his legs missing and his body on fire. By that point I didn’t care.
This pattern has repeated over and over again especially after 1999. I don’t know what it was about that year for movies but it appeared to the last movement of hope for Hollywood. We saw the likes of The Matrix, Fight Club, American Beauty, and American Psycho. Somehow these movies had stayed in our minds for two decades now while others that have come along are laughed at, snickered, sneered, and some people won’t even admit they watched. I had hopes over the years. Ready Player One could have been something special, but what should have been a long mini series on a platform like Netflix was instead butchered to be a two-hour movie losing much of the world created by the book.
Technology has taken away the creative effort it takes to make something truly great. Why figure out how to make a creature pop out of somebody’s chest when you can do it with a computer. When Sam Raimi made Drag me to Hell I thought it was going to be something special, bringing back those funny creative special effects that takes a crew to pull off. Instead, it was all done on computers losing the magic he had created thirty years before. There was no single frame animation, puppets, or bucket of fake blood. Drag me to Hell didn’t describe the movie, it described what the audience felt like when they watched it in the theater.
The majority of films Hollywood has released in the last twenty years deserve to find themselves at the bottom of a Walmart 10 for $10 barrel. The most horrible offender of recent years has been Netflix and their low budget garbage that doesn’t even pull off being entertaining. Bloodsport was a low budget movie that didn’t have much going for it but it told a story and everyone from the crew to the actors at least tried their best. These days you’re lucky if one person doesn’t look like they have been medicated on Xanax for half of their life.
Film makers of recent years are the worse of the millennial generation, not taking time to learn, thinking they already know how to do everything, and expecting to be paid even when they deliver a pile of burning dogshit to the screen. The great movies of the past had culture behind it, something that would connect to the audience for reasons that even the audience wouldn’t understand at the time. There is something in our DNA, a hidden code, a message that resonates with all of us to a point that can be unlocked when it is done right. That has been lost in this industry and I don’t know if we will ever get it back. Maybe that time has come and gone and it is our moment to move onto something else. I’m burned out of trying to find something good on Netflix, I can’t remember the last movie I watched in a theater, and the last DVD I viewed I popped out after twenty minutes realizing it was just another 90 minutes I was never going to get back of my life. I’m not sure where to go from here, if I should keep hope alive only to require medication later to fight the depression Hollywood has forced upon me or just give up all together and call it quits. The Last Jedi is making more sense to me now and I don’t know if I should be concerned. Luke drinking the blue milk from the lactating walrus and being a grumpy old codger makes sense all of the sudden. As someone who used to love movies, I feel betrayed and let down too much to care anymore. People try to tell me why the new Star Wars, Star Trek, and Marvel movies are good but I can’t listen anymore. It shouldn’t have to be explained, I should be able to walk out of the theater and feel excited about what I saw and want to see it again. Instead I feel my wallet lighter, less time to do something meaningful with my day, and horribly depressed.
As the Critical Thinker said on his recent YouTube review for the Rise of Skywalker “movies are not to push a political or social agenda. They are meant as a form of escape from the world we live in. It’s why we desire to go to a galaxy far, far, away. It is a form of escape.” There is no escape these days. There is no getting away. Everything is propaganda. Everything is simple minded trash. Maybe the punk rockers were decades ahead of their time and had the right idea. Smash your television. Free yourself from the man. Reagan, Trump, the devil is always that man in a suit who tells lies and pushes an agenda. I found these things called books. Maybe it’s a way out, a portal to another world that I have been seeking. They might not cure all of my desires but it’s a start. David Foster Wallace warned us of this, the horrible desire of Infinite Jest, a movie that doesn’t exist and if it did it would slowly kill us all. If Hollywood was a drug dealer it would be that kid on the corner always selling Oregano as hydro weed. Eventually, you stop buying.

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Who watched the Watchmen… and enjoyed it?

This was the question I asked myself after finishing the season that will be quickly forgotten and hopefully sooner than later. The series started off weak with an overly violent finale of cows being mowed down by an M60 machine gun. As the story progresses, we learn little about the characters and find nothing to bond with as we follow these flat one-dimensional masked people around Tulsa Oklahoma. Why on all of god’s green earth would the sequel to Watchmen take place in Tulsa? We never find out and there is no good answer.
The last thing the internet needs is another bitch fest about a poorly written TV show but since Hollywood seems to be inclined to take everything I remember fondly from my childhood and repackaging it into a heaping pile of dogshit I think I have the right to complain on my own blog. The last time I tried to do a review on Rotten Tomatoes it was removed in a week with no notification or message as to why.
All together we have 9 episodes of left-wing propaganda that I have been tired of hearing and frankly I have been burned out since I learned that Louie CK jerked off onto his stomach in front of two consenting adults that immediately regretted it. The villains in this show come in two parts, white supremist and Asians, you heard me, Asians. The main villain turns out to be Lady Trieu, a billionaire who is going to save the world, but there is little to no back story, no personality, and we don’t have any idea what her vision is. Plus, there was the suicide bomber that killed Angela Abar’s parents in Vietnam. So racist points scored on the writers of Watchmen, or maybe they are trying to say that Asians are just more white people? Who knows?
The cannon for Watchmen, the Before Watchmen mini series that was released in 2015, was completely ignored. The once German war criminal, Hooded Justice was replaced by a gay (or possible Bi-sexual) black man. Even the thick German accent that was described in the original 12 issue mini series was ignored for the sake of ideology. I completely understand why Alan Moore wants nothing to do with DC after seeing your creations bend over and violated on the big screen.
There was on gem, one hope that kept me watching. Looking Glass was the only character the writers decided to explore. We had one good episode of television and then it was like the creative team decided “no this is too much work, let’s just destroy the series from here on out.” Looking Glass didn’t appear in another episode until the finale, only as a side character and had little to no involvement in the plot. Most of the series was like this. It wasn’t until the last episode that we learn why the police had the Nite Owl’s flying car. What happened on the White Night ending up being a huge disappointment, Angela being spared was the result of some shitty dialogue for a poor plot twist. For more than half the show Angela’s husband appears to be some lobotomized soy boy toy that most of the women treat like a walking dildo. Hell, even Laurie has an Excalibur Dr. Manhattan vibrator that shows the only purpose a man like him has. After being treated in such a way throughout all nine episodes I guess I would want to die too like Dr. Manhattan eventually does, committing suicide in the end for no purpose whatsoever.
I say he committed suicide for two reasons, he can see the future and the first trick he learned after becoming Dr. Manhattan was how to duplicate himself. Again, the first book was ignored all together. Some of the other things I picked up on, oh ya, communist are good. That was a shocker, not really. Reparations should be paid out to people that had nothing bad happen to them by people who didn’t do anything to them. That’s a shocker as well. No, not really. All white people are “secret racist.” Hell, I grew up hearing that one.
If there is one thing I learned from watching this show it is this, white people have no business pushing agendas for other races. I overheard a conversation once asking the question “why don’t any white people write like Ta-Nehisi Coates?” It was a poorly thought out and silly question leaving out the biggest factor of all, white people aren’t black. We don’t have the same background, life experience, culture, or history. When was the last time a straight white man wrote a great piece of black lesbian literature? Do you really want us to tell you about racism in America? Ya, I didn’t think so.
There was an opportunity here and it was lost early on along with the plot of this show. What could have been a great piece of writing was sacrificed to the Woke Gods of the broke and destitute. “Once you go woke, you go broke.” I believe that is the saying.
DC is in the process of destroying some of their best properties. Dr. Manhattan officially joined the DC universe which makes no sense whatsoever. Damon Lindelof wiped his ass with cannon for a show he admits will not have a second season. Like Lost, Watchmen will go down as a show that was entertaining but the writers were too busy micro-dosing on who knows what to put together a coherent plot and therefore slapped together something that resembles the writings of a paranoid schizophrenic.
With this series finally over there are burning questions the audience still has. Who was Lube Man and what the hell was with Dirty Panda? There is something to look forward to. At some point, there will be a Lube Man and Dirty Panda sex tape. There is no way that won’t be made. If there is one thing that is dependable in this world it’s the porn industry’s ability to cash in on the dumbest thing people will pay money to see. That might be the only saving grace of this show. If that happens maybe it could go down in history as something more than a left-wing dumpster fire. I’m still waiting for the hate to start since there were no Trans super heroes in the show. How trans phobic could Lindelof be? Not one trans person. How dare you Lindelof. I thought you were better than that. No really, I don’t care, but now that the cat is out of the bag people will start hating on this for the wrong reasons of course. It would be nice if Hollywood stopped playing the games of the left, pushing ideas nobody wants to an audience who has been burned out for over a decade now. Please stop already. Where have all the good artist gone?

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Financial independence is not designed for you

I am tired of listening to shows like Dave Ramsey and hearing people call in with six figure incomes wondering what they should do with their surplus cash. These are not the people dealing with hard times, barely making it with little to show for their work. I will take this one step further and say that if you have a college education, a six-figure income, and you still can’t figure out how to manage your money then you deserve to fail and we should let financial natural selection take its course. This blog is not for the wealthy idiots out there playing with index funds and credit default swaps. This blog is for the 40-hour work week, car payment, house payment, no retirement, no savings, ex wife stole half of my 401k, why is my mortgage payment still going up, kind of guy.
I have read several books on finance, FIRE, debt management, and the millionaires next door. One thing these books have in common is leaving out the lower middle class writing them off as too poor to work with and not worth helping. We make up the majority of our population and to write us off as not worth helping shows a lack of imagination, in the meantime Wall street takes our money in the form of 401ks and 403bs balancing out their books, throwing any of their losses our way. We are stuck not knowing any better, happy for a 1-2% increase in our portfolio while all the gains made with our money is shifted elsewhere. This is where my lack of trust stems from. I saw what happened in 2009 and knew from that moment on I would never trust any of those sons of bitches.
I’m not here to say people can’t find some kind of independence. I have met people over the years who do fairly well for themselves on very little money. Is it ideal, no. Is it better than that paycheck to paycheck life, yes. There are many things people like Dave Ramsey got right. In some ways everyone got something right, what is wrong about these books, talk shows, blogs, and podcast is that they leave out the little making them think there is no hope. Finances are not just a game for the big players. Keep in mind, even professional bowlers make up to $30,000 a year. It’s not much but its not nothing.
I was lucky back in 2005 when I initially bought my house. When the mortgage company told me I could buy an $85,000 house with a $700 a month payment I told them they were out of their minds. “But the computer says.” Lucky for me I had seen the Terminator movies and knew that computers were out to get me. These suits weren’t looking out for my best interest and I knew that. I ended up with a $65,000 house with a monthly payment that was the same as the rent I paid on a one-bedroom apartment. On $10 an hour I could barely afford that.
The years passed and the hospital I worked for continued to screw people out of their raises, my insurance company continued to jack up the rates on my coverage until my monthly payments were one hundred dollars more than when I bought the house. In 2008 the economy went to shit, my wife left, I was stuck with a house payment, car payment, thousands of dollars of debt, and a job that had not given me a raise in several years. Like the rest of the country I was being bent over a desk, no lube applied, waiting for the ride to end. Then I decided to no longer play the victim.
The credit cards were the first thing I paid off. The monthly payment was a meager $50 on average, I threw hundreds at it and watched the balance shrink. When that was paid off, I cut the cards up and went to work on the car loan. I tore out payment slips from the book, sending in 2-3 at a time. The car was paid off two and a half years early. Looking back, my only regret was stopping there. I had money in the bank, I was able to life something resembling a life, and for the first time was able to do things when I wanted to. Ten years later I wonder what my life could look like if I just went to work on paying the house off. Now it’s time to find out.

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