Sunday, September 18, 2011

Where I was, and what I was doing

Those visiting this blog may notice the sizable gap between my last "Season's Reading" in early 2009 and my recent flurry of activity. So before I continue on with what passes for "content" on this blog, I thought I would give an explanation.

Firstly, my career as a fledgling teacher occupied most of my intellectual resources, so that when I had a break where I could stop working and devote my mind to the consumption of a story, it was either one that I could share with my family (a film or book or video game with the kids; television or film with my wife after the kids were put down to bed), or in a medium that was more immediately engaging, where I didn't have to work so hard at comprehending form, content, or inferred meaning.

Literature is solitary - while a story experienced through television and film can and should be shared. As much as I crave the mental film of reading, there are the films Up, Coraline, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Despicable Me, etc, to share for the first time; the exquisite detail of HD Blu-Ray in Disney re-releases like Sleeping Beauty, to experience anew. So of a weekend morning or family movie night I would rather hold one of my children than a pen or book - I would rather be with them in the landscape of whatever film we are experiencing than alone with an author (even with myself as that author).

And when the children were tucked away and my wife and I could sit together, I wanted to be entertained by a medium that we could share. Lost, Mad Men, Heroes, Burn Notice, Dexter, Entourage, Big Bang Theory, Chuck - all excellent shows where I could immediately see my wife's reaction, know her opinion; relax and commune with the limited conscious time we had together.

And then there were the times when I was alone downstairs - when my loves slumbered - and I could choose my entertainment - usually of a Friday night. Those hours I spent on the movies and TV shows that my wife didn't care to see, or that my kids are not allowed to see yet. Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles; Asian action films like The Myth, Rob-B Hood, House of Fury, PTU, etc; those films and seasons filled the hours when I just wanted to sit on the couch, drink an ale, and neglect the mental and physical duties and obligations of being a Mr. K, and just be Josh.

Then, finally, there were video games. They can also be a shared entertainment experience with my children (Wii Sports Resort, The Legend of Zelda, New Super Mario Bros Wii, Rachet & Clank, Lego Harry Potter, Little Big Planet, and yes, even, occasionally, Disney Sing It Family Hits (what happens in the living room, stays in the living room), and a more immediately gratifying mature gaming experience (Half Life 2, Splinter Cell, Uncharted, Knights of the Old Republic, etc). But what video games offer now are increasingly complex interactive experiences - and the best modern games can offer intellectual engagement with a sense of progress more tangible than a turned page, or a finished chapter; games offer a more readily quantifiable achievement in their gameplay and completion than books - and while they should never be a replacement for literature, they are certainly a rich alternative.

But now, my energies are finally beginning to balance between the work I get paid for (teaching), the work I wouldn't mind getting paid for (writing), and my entertainment choices. So stay tuned for reviews of what I've read over the past couple years, and continuing updates on my writings.

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