Monday, January 12, 2009

For He Himself Has Said It, and It's Greatly to His Credit

I believe I have arrived at a solid New Year's resolution finally. Upon great reflection and deliberation, I have decided to spend the year 2009 further exploring my oft-neglected cultural heritage.

In this multicultural, homogenized, globalized world in which we live, we often feel the pressure to try new things, to embrace ideas and traditions from cultures outside our own. Often this leads to great advances in a more tolerant, more understanding world. Like Laotian restaurants. And margaritas.

But far too often, as well, the plethora of choices available to the modern man or woman leads to ignorance of one's own cultural heritage. As we learn more and more about the world, we find less and less time to delve deeply into the traditions that once bound our ancestors together, the shared knowledge base that provided community and a sense of purpose. My resolution is to rectify that neglect.

Too long have I ignored the simple truth of my past. As a white, upper middle class, private and prep-school educated member of the intelligentsia, I feel it is my duty to my people to learn more about our great and glorious past, to gain a firm grounding in the traditions of our forefathers. So my resolutuon is to spend the year acquainting myself with all those traditions that I have shamefully neglected in my first twenty eight years upon the earth.

Therefore, in the month of January, I am beginning to compile a list of things to accomplish. Things that will bring me closer to the inner Anglo-American snob that has too long remained suppressed within me. The shame I have brought upon my noble lineage shall finally be overcome, and I will be able to hold my head high amidst the glorious accomplishments of the past.

As such, I am soliciting suggestions from you, my readers and peers, as to things I can do in pursuance of this goal. Texts, activities, knowledges to pursue--any advice is welcome as I strive to bring myself closer to my heritage. So far, I have comprised a preliminary list, which is admittedly brief at the moment, but will hopefully grow as the year develops.

1. Read classical texts, particularly Greek and Latin tragedies. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey as well as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Other suggestions welcome.

2. Read Dante's Divine Comedy.

3. Watch Gilbert and Sullivan operas, particularly H.M.S. Pinafore and Pirates of Penzance.

4. Learn something about wines.

5. Read something by Proust.

6. Listen to more classical music. Suggested composers/pieces I can get from iTunes welcome.

7. Continue education in fine Scotches. Maintain snobbish disdain of blendeds.

A short list to be sure, generated solely upon one night's brief reflection. Further suggestions and advice are welcome. Remember, any insight you offer will not only be for my personal edification, but will aid greatly in the preservation of a noble tradition in the modern world.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Reason to Believe Maybe This Year Will Be Better Than the Last

Looking back over my resolution from last year, I realize that 2008 was an epic fail on my part. I did not manage to break up a single set of my attached friends. Seriously, I set myself one lousy goal, and totally neglect it. Epic. Fail.

So it's January, during that magical time when school hasn't started, deadlines are still blissfully out of sight (excepting the fellowship deadline on Wednesday and the article I planned to send out by Christmas), there are no obligations other than what I set for myself, and Batman is out of town. All these things add up to a wonderful existence that I only achieve for about two weeks out of every year. Basically, my life becomes a complete inversion of normality. I wake up later and later each day, go to bed even later every night, so that eventually I'll be waking up at 3pm and going to bed around dawn. "Surely he can't be serious!", I can hear the naysayers naysaying. Well, I am serious...and don't call me Shirley.

Yes, I can achieve this total transformation through a series of machinations designed to fill my days with an endless succession of activities that require no real time schedule, just time commitment. Largely, they involve my tv and Xbox. My bautiful, beautiful Xbox, that brings me such wonderful things as 30 Rock episodes (via Netflix online!), Left 4 Dead online, and Bioshock, on loan from the Mixologist, which is perhaps the most freakily terrifyingly awesome game ever played. It's a horror/shooter/mystery game set in an underwater society with 1950s decor and an Ayn Rand philosophy. And it's terrifying. Particularly when played at 2:30am with all the lights out.

Beyond that, my blessed friend of Netflix constantly brings me movies to cure hangovers (Tropic Thunder) and season three of The Wire, which is leaps and bounds better than season two. I'm perfectly willing to admit that this is the better show, though I think I still enjoyed Deadwood more just because of the more colorful characters. But season three has sold me. Other than that, my marathon Lord of the Rings viewings and enjoyment of season one of Entourage (a gift from my brother) provide enough variety for when I don't feel like watching one of the other things on my list.

So yeah, I've been spending a lot of time in front of the tv. Eventually, this is all going to crash and burn, and my reckless abandonment of sense will bite me in the ass. But, like most good Americans, I choose to recklessly ride out the good times rather than anticipating the bad.

Other than that, break has been fun thus far. Went to my 10 year high school reunion, and I totally staved off the patheticness of still being in school by recognizing that I was one of the few of my class who didn't look like they had swollen in some way. Small compensation compared to their wives and jobs and homes and success, but in many ways I'm a small, petty man.

Plus, a ton of my classmates are now lawyers. So I am set if I ever break the law in St. Louis. And given my feelings for St. Louis, that's probably where I'm most likely to break the law in some way, shape, or form.

New Year's with TGD, Red-Headed Stepchild, et al. Good times, don't really remember the ending. If I did anything embarassing, I'm totally shifting the blame onto the Mixologist for giving me that manhattan with absinthe in it. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Lastly, I'm in the market for a New Year's Resolution. Since I did so poorly with my last one, I'm thinking of aiming much much lower. This year is guaranteed to suck already, at least in the period between September and January when I'm on the market, so low expectations will be a blessing. Any suggestions?

Ok, it's 2am and I'm bored. I guess I'll go kill some zombies or something.