Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pokemoning OKC pt. 1

Pokemoning Okc: The adventure and exploration.

"It's over there!"


"over there" I point to a back yard along the side of the road.

"oh I see it!" My friend, Steven whips out his phone and aims it at the back yard.

"did you get it?!" I ask grabbing his shoulder and turning him slightly towards me so I can see his screen.

"No." he said "I ran out of pokeballs"

"How? I have like 200 of them?!"

That's how it started, that's how my getting off work at 4am turned into an adventure of exploration. The plan, was to drive Steven to a few pokestops and get him some items what it turned into. Was so. Much. More.

We head towards my house as the sun began to rise and decide to head out on foot. I needed to pick up some smokes from a gas station down the road that have them for 75 cents off. If I'm going to get lung cancer. I'm going to get it as cheaply as possible.

I live between midtown, the Asian district and the Plaza. That should give you a pretty good idea of the area. We walk a ways before coming to our first pokestops. We loot it greedily preparing to head to the next stop.

Except we don't. We ourselves stop and look inside the record shop that isn't open yet and take a glance around.

"I've been meaning to come here and see if they have any Ray Charles records for my daughter, she loves Ray Charles but I haven't gotten around to it yet"

The place in all honesty, is a mess of old albums and records. Someone has attempted to put order into the chaos but it looks like chaos is gaining the upper hand. There are piles and piles of old record and one of those bass drums kids play in marching bands. Everything is old and you know if you walked in it'd smell of dust and cardboard. We take a few more seconds to glance around before we start heading down the street again.

We don't go far before hitting another pokestops. This time it has a picture of a trolley.

"why is there a trolley here?" I ask as I look around. To me this has just been the bus stop I see people sitting at when I leave for work. That's when we notice the plaque.

I stand and narrate as fast as I can the tail of the trolley that use to be on this side of town that would take students from here to the school that was north of us. That's when I notice the metal framed trolley art price that's slightly covered by bus stop and bushes.

"huh... That's weird, I never noticed this before" we take a quick gander and went about our way.

We make it to the gas station where they keep the more affordable death sticks. I pay and begin our walk again. We are headed to a park that looks similar to a dog bone Nintendo controller. I start to head for the cross walk but before I know it Steven is walking across the road.

"What are you doing!?" I exclaim as I go to follow him confirming my mother's suspicions on if my friends jumped off a bridge, I would also jump off that very same bridge.

"I bike everywhere dude, I don't have time for cross walks" Steven speaks as he meanders to the other side of the street with my inexperienced jaywalking tail trotting behind him. That's right, I'm a rule breaker now. No pokemon are off limits. I am a trainer that can't be trained. What next!? Going into a store with no intention of buying Anything!? Jumping a fence!? This was getting exciting.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

5 Reasons You Might Want to Check Out Pokemon GO

Be Social: Pokemon Go compels you to talk with someone you normally wouldn't probably a LOT of someones. And it's a brilliant icebreaker. Seriously. You'll end up having a 10-minute conversation with someone you'd have little to no reason to say hello to, even in friendly Oklahoma. I've met more of my neighbors in the past three days than in three years and I'm damn outgoing.

• Engage with the world: When is the last time you really explored your neighborhood? I live in a historical area and It's a huge, wonderful world out there. Go explore it.

This is the Pokemon you always wanted: Seriously, the tech has finally caught up with the original spirit of the game, which is awesome.

Get off your couch: You have to actually move to make the game walk. Car rides don't add kilometers. Walking does, so does bike-riding. It makes me proud and happy to see my ENTIRE neighborhood out and about in the evenings. That's pretty magical. 

• The world needs more things that bring us joy: In light of the past week? There's plenty of bad news. I'm not saying that the bad news should be ignored or dismissed. I'm saying that in the absence of any positivity despair thrives. Don't let it. Find something that brings you joy and pursue it with wild abandon.

• Bonus Round: It's ridiculously fun. You never lost that love of a good scavenger hunt. This is an epic, global scavenger hunt. That's pretty fucking cool.

Once you join in, come find me in The Paseo. I'll be hunting Pikachu until he's mine!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Seveneves: a very not-little book about the importance of the moon

Neal Stephenson doesn't do anything half-assed. Following his career from the beginning when he came screaming onto the scene with Snow Crash - a slick, funny smart younger sibling of Burning Chrome by William Gibson, he was immediately recognized as worth your attention. A gifted storyteller with a wild imagination, Stephenson stories are rich with the unexpected and clever. A lot's change since Crash, and Stephenson has revealed himself as a little bit of a polymath-cum-renaissance man. It shows in every one of his increasingly dense tomes that show off his big, sexy brain. His books, if lobbed from a window would (hopefully) instantly kill the unlucky pedestrian below. They also double as a bludgeon, or as fellow Okie Geek Joshua Unruh is fond pointing out: a doorstop. 
I adored Snow Crash for what it was: fun, funny and fast. It was the last of Stephenson's books of a manageable size. Since then he's been wowing us with HUGE stories filled with intricate world-building and lush narratives that we inhabit for weeks, sometimes months as we experience the wonderful. 
Stephenson isn't just asking for your attention. He's the real deal, baby - he wants a commitment and if you're willing, he will take you on a trip that you can't get out of your head. But only after you've got the lingo down (no, really - Anathem has an actual glossary) and you can describe, from stem to stern the world in which all the action happens. Along the way you'll meet fascinating characters — in The Baroque Cycle, follow the adventures of the plucky (and not particularly lucky) Jack Shaftoe, a syphilitic (of course) former navy man-turned-pirate as "The Imp of the Perverse" leads him on improbable adventures. While telling his and several other people's stories, Stephenson manages to inform readers of the history (part of) world, especially the provenance of the modern financial system, primarily dealing with coinage. Yeah, it's that kind of story. Stephenson's works, when broken down by plot description, sound like PhD dissertation topics. Isaac Newton makes regular appearances.
It's wonderful. It's daunting. For someone who's thrilled at the prospect of spending no less than two months on a trilogy, it's so firmly up my alley. 

"The challenge of writing a novel in which some of the most important entities are rocks is that some of the most important entities are rocks." - Charles Yu, Sunday Book Review - New York Times, 27 May 2015

Seveneves is a treatise on the future of the human race via our scientific achievements in the middle of the 21st Century. It was my favorite book of 2015, and as my fellow hosts and sweet husband can attest, I couldn't shut up about it for months. It took me a good month to read, which is unheard of. I'm always snatching a few more minutes to continue the story, and I read really, really fast. This one took me what felt like forever, with more joy every minute. 
It begins with an unemotional account of the day we lost the moon. In the telling of this event, the author treats us, in hindsight to a dispassionate-yet-intricate description of what happened and it's effect on the characters — of which there will be very few in a short time. A few days later, the world's leading scientific minds arrive at the ramifications of the loss of the moon, and the importance of that beautiful orb hanging in our sky. 
If you are not comfortable with loving and detailed descriptions of celestial bodies, (and, okay - I really don't understand, but,) I can firmly say that this is not the book for you. Part of the joy of this book is the loving descriptions of that beautiful rock that keeps the tides in working order, and how much we would miss her were she gone. Succinctly — that's the story of Seveneves — and that's not the story at all. The opening action seems almost random until you are firmly in the story. Not a word or a moment is wasted. Nothing is unnecessary. The editing must have been brutal. What remains is jaw-dropping.
It's that kind of story. 
What follows is an impossibly good narrative about space, science, human technology and advancement told in detail that would, in less capable hands, make the most ardent science wonk squirm. And yet, when told in Stephenson's passionately curious and ridiculously informed voice: the novel is part tech manual, part compassionate meditation on the best and absolute worst that humanity has to offer. 
The result is simply staggering. It's all the things the author has to say about science in all its geeky detail — it's beautiful, it's hopeful and it's the author (and his characters) at their nerdy, curious and absolute best. 

(And if there's any objective way to express how profoundly this book moved me, it took me six months to be able to articulate it in words, rather than enthusiastic high-fives - real or emoji.)

Sunday, January 31, 2016

I like big books and I cannot lie ... (I tackle doorstop fiction so you don't have to).

I am an exceptionally fast reader. I always have been. I don't skim, I don't "speed read", I read voraciously and anything I can get my hands on. So, while the sight of a weighty tome, one that could be used as a doorstop, might make some readers quail, if I'm hooked within a few pages, it's on. Knowing that I will have something to read for the next few days is simply a relief. Reading is something I absolutely cannot do without — it was my first addiction and earned me the completely original nickname "bookworm" among my cousins. Books have been my companion for some very lonely times and places. You can plunk me down in the corner with a good book and probably forget about me for a while. My mother told me "when you're a reader, you never have a reason to be scared or lonely, ever." 
I will read just about anything I can get my hands on, and when I can fall into a narrative that I'm loving, I can think of far worse scenarios. I'm discerning, but not overly concerned what anyone else thinks of my choices and neither should you. It's true that reading is good for your brain, and a good narrative is as much escape as mental exercise. And while it should be pleasurable, something that you're not enjoying is absolutely okay to put down. Yep, I've put down Catch-22 more than a few times. I know that Kurt Vonnegut endorsed it, and kudos, Mr. Heller. It doesn't speak to me, at least yet. 
I used to feel guilty about not finishing books that I didn't enjoy, plugging through until the end until I realized, it could be just as much about you as the author. It's not the right time for that book. Put it down, and if it's something you really want to finish, pick it up again in a few months. My friend described a certain book as a "joyful experience" today &mdash that was the perfect turn of phrase. Anything that isn't for you — unless you're simply in a masochistic frame of mind — it's alright to let find you again when it's time, which may be never. 
Meanwhile, I'll be over in the corner with something to read. The really big ones? I'm thrilled to embark on that journey and let you know whether you should jump on that train. Maybe you can put this down and go grab some Pahlaniuk, which I HIGHLY recommend. He's a Hemingway, never giving more information than you need. Make no mistake: I do not believe that because a book is long, it's good. For example, I am not a big Tolkein fan. I don't enjoy two pages to describe something that takes two sentences. When you delve into an author, you're asking to trust them, and be trusted in return. Any author who is not complicit in this agreement is okay to put down. It's a relationship — if it's not mutually beneficial, move on. Meanwhile, I'll be over here, nose in a big book. Don't bother me, I'm reading and working on my elevator pitch for this book I want you all to read. 

(Originally published on my own blog, Life and Other Fatal Pursuits).