Thursday, August 18, 2005

This meta-entry is going to be lengthy

Holy crap, two entries within a week? Are you serious? Wow, I'm on an unbelieveable pace!

Despite the sarcasm, yes, you're getting another Blog entry and this is going to be interesting because on Saturday I am being taken out for my bachelor party. On Sunday, I plan to write with a hangover, so you get a before and after effect.

So, aside from some late-night Tuesday entries, where the hell have I been? I'll tell you what, I've been busy. Very busy. The last three months have been about the busiest of my life, not only has work amped up (I have about 15 conferences that I'm trying to get ready for, including two super conferneces being held at the same time) but I've had a ton of school work, the comic strip thing and the wedding. Aside from going to the gym, that is literally all I've been doing with myself.

I just finished up an Adobe Illustrator class and I had a great time with that. The teacher was awesome, a real nice guy who taught us an awful lot. He and I spoke a bit after class and he told me that I have a lot of talent, which made me feel great. I wish I could upload some of the stuff that I did in class, but I can't do it from Amesbury (that's where I am right now) and the version of Illustrator I have at home is about four years too old.

The one thing about that class is that we got tons and tons of homework. For example, this past week, I had about 4-5 hours worth of school work to do. And even though I like what I'm doing, it was still sort of hard to sit in on a Sunday afternoon and work for three hours rather than being outside enjoying myself. That's the way it goes though.

Aside from being waist-deep in work during the last couple of weeks I did get to see a Sox game. My boss took me and a few other coworkers to see the Sox play the Royals in Matt Clement's first start since getting beaned in the head. Despite spotting the Royals a four run lead, the Sox stormed back to crush them. As of last night, Kansas City has lost 18 games in a row.

They're nearing Oriole teritory. You remember the 1988 Orioles, began the year 0-21, got Cal Ripken Sr. fired, landed Billy Ripken on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was quite a streak.

The cool thing about going to the game was that it was on a Thursday afternoon so we got to play hookey and we saw the contest from the roof box seats. Last time I was there was a 1990 game against the Yanks where Mike Greenwell hit an inside the park grand slam and the Sox won 15-1. I can't believe I can remember crap like that, but when I was in college I could barely remember my name.

So why am I in Amesbury? Simple, I am going to the hospital tomorrow for some kidney stone test and I was supposed to go to visit a doctor tonight. The latter story is a better story, so I'll tell that one first.

Faithful readers of 19Thoughts may remember that around this time last year, it was thought that I might have Grave's disease. This infects the thyroid and while it isn't fatal, it can still mess you up. In December I visited the specialist, Dr. Karbowski (I think that's how you spell his name) and he did some tests. The tests came back negative and he said that it looked as if I was in the clear, but he wanted to make sure and wondered if I could see him in June.

I said no problem and made an appointment. By the time June came, I forgot all about it and rescheduled for today. Yesterday Dr. K's secretary called and told me that I needed a referral from my primary care physician Dr. Traister. So I called his office up, but they wouldn't give me the referral because I haven't seen Traister in about a year. "That's just our policy," the receptionist said.

So I had to go to Dr. Traister's office, get a physical or something (chances are good that they would've taken my blood pressure, weighed me and told me I was good), in order to talk to Dr. K. Of course this was not going to happen in a day's time, so I would've had to cancel Dr. K's appointment for tomorrow, make an appointment with Traister, get my blood retaken, then make a new Dr. K appointment just so he can tell me I'm ok.

Does that make sense to anyone? It didn't to me either, so I told the receptionist that the policy "sucks" and hung up on her. Dr. K's receptionist was cooler and she told me that Dr. K would call me with the results of my tests today. He did and I'm looking fine as far as the Graves' disease is concerned.

Now tomorrow, I have to go to nuclear medicine and get an IVP which is an IV that fills my kidney with dye and then they are going to take a bunch of x-rays. They say that this procedure lasts for about an hour, but we'll see. I was really bummed out that I have to go to this, but if it's just for an hour, it won't be so bad.

Aside from those hospital misadventures, not much has been going on. I have been doing a lot of reading and have finished two books in the last few weeks. I'll tell you about them right now.

Not only was this one of, if not THE, best sports biographies I've ever read, it could be one of the best overall books I've ever read. From start to finish, I was completely captivated by this book.

Written by Leigh Montville, this tells the story of Ted Williams (no shit) from humble beginning to tragic end. And the best part is that it's not just about baseball. The book is about 500 pages or so and at around 220, Montville ends Ted's playing career. I remember thinking to myself, well, this is going to get slow. But it didn't. The book got better and better and better.

Montville is a hell of a journalist and really knows how to spin a tale. And the best part is that he portrayed Williams as he was, warts and all. Everyone knows what a great ball player he was, what a terrific fighter pilot and fisherman he is, but most people don't know that he's a crappy father and a lousy husband. But that's who he was, that's why Ted Williams was Ted Williams.

He was the uber-every man. What he did well he did better than anyone else and what he sucked at, he sucked really bad. He was a man of extremes and Montville plumbs those extremes with great care. It seemed that he spoke to everyone who ever said a word to Williams.

When I met him a few months ago at that book signing in Brookline, I asked him about this book and he told me that originally this was going to be a 100,000 word book that would take a year to research. In actuality it became a 200,000 word book that took two years to research. He said that Williams is just that fascinating of a person.

And I agree.

While Joe DiMaggio got a lot of ink for being such a mysterious and alluring man, which is why people found him so "interesting", Ted is a far better character, a far more complex man to read about. And while he might not have been the greatest family man, he seems like he was the greatest friend anyone could ever have. Loyal to a fault (which tripped him up in later years) Ted never forgot a kind word and usually paid everyone back ten-fold.

After reading this book, it is apparent to me that Ted Williams led one of the greatest American lives of the last 100 years.

I'm not sure if you remember the book review I wrote a few weeks ago about Nietzsche's "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" and how I tried reading this book about ten years ago and I couldn't do it.

"A Clockwork Orange" was another book that I just couldn't get into when I first bought it eight or nine years ago. I have no idea why I couldn't read these books, yes they're written differently and it takes a bit more concentration to get through them, but it wasn't as if they were written in Mandarin Chinese. But there they were on my bookshelf, mocking me ... ha, ha you're too dumb to read us. Well, I read both of them and I have to say I'm glad. I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Clockwork is written in a sort of half English half-cockney/Eastern European slang language. It takes a chapter or two to really get into the language, but once that happens, the book is fantastic.

The book is just like the movie, the main character's name is Alexander and he is a 15-year-old psychopath that enjoys beating the hell out of people, running stuff over and raping chicks. That is what this dude does every single night. One night he gets busted doing this and is sent to prison. While in prison, he gets an offer to shorten his 15-year sentence to two weeks if he undergoes an experiment.

He figures he'll skate, so he agrees. The problem is that he get brainwashed into relinquishing any aggressive forms of behavior. Whenever he wants to practice some of the old in and out (rape) or ultraviolence (kicking the crap out of people) he gets violently ill. While this may sound like a good idea, it turns out it's made him harmless like a kitten, so he gets his ass kicked by a conga line of people that he screwed over in his past life and there's nothing he can do about it.

Burgess brings up a lot of interesting philosophical points in this book, namely: the subject of free will and free choice, being mindlessly good is not necessarily a good thing, a person does need some sort of mean streak to live in the real world and to what extremes should the government go to "rehabilitate" criminals. Is taking away their right to freedom of thought worse than their original crimes?

And like I said earlier, with the hodgepodge of the language it may be hard to follow so I suggest watching the movie first. Even though Burgess hated it, this is one of my all-time favorites.

So that's it for now, see you on Sunday ... I hope.

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