Thanksgiving musings

The following is a spatter of random thoughts that have gone through my head throughout the course of the holiday. I may or may not attempt to chronologically sort them when I’m done, as I’m pecking this out on my busted iPad.

The above picture is my wailing niece. I wanted to have some sort of visual to accompany this post.

This trip is the first time that I’ve brought my own car into the Commonwealth of Virginia in quite some time. The last time I drove my own car on my old stomping grounds was when I still had my old Nissan and I still felt it had the legs to make the trips from Atlanta to NOVA. Part of it is refreshing and fun to drive my own car on old familiar roads, but another part is apathetic and piteous of the residents of Virginia, whom have apparently been beaten into submission of driving like sissies in fear of the overzealous ticketing and fine system in place here. Safety is one thing, but the legions of people camping the left, passing lanes, going the approximate speed limit are bigger hazards to other motorists than the occasional tryhard going 88 mph, I would hypothesize.

Before I got to my sister’s place, I passed a Best Buy. It had a line wrapped around the building. It was also 3:25 pm on Thanksgiving Day. When I left my sister’s place at like 7 pm on Thanksgiving Day, there was a line wrapped around the nearby Target.

Now I’ve made no secret that I’m enthralled by Brack Friday shopping as well, but I still have yet to cross that threshold of going out on actual Thanksgiving Day, and I don’t think I will. Most merchants already put all their shit online as of the last two years, and it’s pretty easy to knock out a lot of shopping by Wednesday now, at the expense of somewhere from 10-20% less savings, if any at all.

But I kind of think that Brack Fridays in general are about a year or two from being overkilled to death. It’s not because I’ve personally had little interest in it this year, but because it’s really seemingly like the cusp of capitalistic gains is being quickly reached, and it’s maybe a year or two away from merchants doing their “sales” online all week instead of just Friday, and the ensuing rat race of competitors trying to keep pace. And then it will escalate to people getting killed over a $10 waffle maker on Brack Friday before Brack Friday, or human stampedes on Brack Tuesday and someone getting shot over a $250 Piss4 on Brack Wednesday. It is definitely getting worse.

It’s funny how sometimes the only thing that prevents or allows someone to have a bad day is the person themselves.

Due to miscommunications, and some seemingly petty discontent over the notion of driving for 90 minutes, I basically missed Thanksgiving dinner, because it started at 1 pm, and I didn’t arrive until 3:30. By the time I arrived, the food was completely gone, and some of my relatives had already peaced out. A part of me felt rather disappointed in the way things had turned out, and was actually mulling on whether or not this should be chalked up to being a bad Thanksgiving. But a plate with an adequate amount of food was set aside for me, and I still got to eat some turkey, stuffing, potatoes and typical foods. I still got to see several relatives who were still there, and still managed to get the third degree lectures on how I need to get married and unload the curse of a house I reside in now.

It wasn’t exactly the Thanksgiving gathering I had hoped for, but it wasn’t bad enough for me to allow myself to creep into a bad mood. Nor was the added 90 minute drive from Richmond to my old stomping grounds, and the ensuing life’s lectures at my aunt’s place.

I was thinking about this in my car in one of the numerous long drives I had to makes today. I was kind of on the fringe of putting myself into a pity party and letting my mood sink into an unhappy one, but I forged the mental fortitude to realize that nothing was truly that bad, and found myself kind of using that line of thought as impetus to brog this now.

The circumstances of this trip weren’t necessarily the best, but I’m making the best of everything that I can. Thanksgiving itself, in spite of being spent mostly in my car, wasn’t really terrible, despite earlier thoughts that it might be. I’m a little puzzled at my general apathy with Brack Friday shopping, but I guess that’s not a bad thing either. Doing manual labor tomorrow will kind of stink, but there’s still salvation at the end of the tunnel yet.

And as for Thanksgiving traditions go, I’m thankful for lots of things. I’m thankful to have a family that cares enough to occasionally make me feel exasperated with them. I’m thankful to have a job in a tumultuous employment environment, to have fairly good health, and some semblance of having my shit together, I guess. And of course, I’m thankful for the people and friends in my life that make me not feel so alienated from the rest of the world when I think I’m all alone sometimes.

This is our country

Embarrassing, isn’t it?  Normally, I’ll feign ambivalence to the unfortunate news of the world, but given the fact that this story is literally, quite unavoidable, enough thoughts have swirled around in my head to where I felt like writing something.

I’ll keep it short (as I can), because it’s not like there’s going to be any shortage of opinions on this matter, and mine certainly isn’t going to make or break anyone’s line of thinking.

I’m not qualified to say on whether or not I feel that it’s good or bad that the officer in question has apparently gotten off the hook without any sort of punishment, because I simply have not paid any attention.  However, I do think that it’s completely unfortunate that the response of such a decision from the predominantly black community of Ferguson, Missouri has been that of a massive eruption of violence, vandalism, looting and general destruction.

Reading this CNN article, two things in particular stood out to me:

The violence is exactly the reaction that Michael Brown’s father pleaded against. Before the grand jury decision was announced Monday night, he implored protesters to stay peaceful no matter what the grand jury decided.

“Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer,” Michael Brown Sr. said. “No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change. Change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”

The father of the slain victim, one of the few people that actually lost someone, that was duly affected by the actions of the subject matter of the trial, pleads for peace, regardless of what the decision of the court would be.  I’d hope that if there was absolutely one person for the sheep to listen to, it would be the father of the deceased.

But of course, that didn’t happen, and the rest was history.  Including:

Looters broke into a beauty supply store and stole hair weaves and wigs, leaving the heads of mannequins strewn in the middle of the street.

And in nearby Dellwood, some people torched a row of cars at a car dealership and set several businesses on fire.

So, a bunch of people were unhappy with the jury decision of a trial that didn’t really affect them, personally, so their reaction to display their disagreement is to go on a massive crime spree, burning cars, smashing windows, and stealing things for their own personal gain?

Riiiiiiiight.  Real injustice being fought there with such cerebral tactics.

There’s really nothing much more that I want to say in regards to this.  It’s unfortunate that a whole bunch of black people feel wronged, and I can understand the skepticism of racism that a white police officer is seemingly get away with killing a black teenager scot free.  But at the same time, erupting as a community in a massive crime spree isn’t exactly the best form of protest or best method to draw up sympathy and future support, either.

When did Dragon Ball become so popular again?

There’s a tiny part of me that fears that inquiries like this will become more and more frequent throughout the rest of my life, which is going to make me come to the realization that it’s not so much the world behaving erratically, but that I’m clearly becoming old.

But seriously, chalk this up like my once inquisition of the rising popularity of Deadpool, but I have to ask, why is it that Dragon Ball has evidently become so popular again?

It really does kind of baffle me.  At least Deadpool’s rise in popularity can be somewhat chalked up to a talented writer really giving him a chance to shine, and fans responding extremely positively in regards to said re-development of his character.

Dragon Ball, to my knowledge hasn’t really been given such a renewal, save for from what I understand was a slightly condensed version of the show to cut down the magnanimous fight sequences that lasted six, 22-minute episodes to detail the importance of a punch.  But overall, it’s still very much the same exact Dragon Ball that aired through the late-80s into the mid-90s.  There is where I am perplexed to why it’s apparently so popular.

Another part of it is has to do with the fact I was never a fan of it back in the 90s either, when I was at my prime anime-watching days, and worked at Anime FX then, where I had pretty much a vast collection of anime I could’ve watched at any time.  Frankly, I never saw the appeal, and that in itself was somewhat surprising, considering the fact that I was a fan of Akira Toriyama’s artwork (from Chrono Trigger fandom), and that I generally enjoyed the fighting genre, whether it’s martial arts films to action sequences in movies.  But for whatever reason, Dragon Ball had absolutely zero appeal to me.

It’s probably because I was such a hipster with my anime tastes back then, and when something is popular, I tended to go in a different direction.  And for whatever reason, Dragon Ball was so stupidly popular amongst young boys, Hispanics and African-Americans, and its videos, action figures, posters and any other merchandising was the strongest selling stuff in the world.  It’s like there was always so much buzz about Dragon Ball, that I simply grew to resent it.

Either way, it perplexes me to how popular it’s become again, and I frankly don’t understand it.  It’s not really that different than what it used to be.  Perhaps the fights are no longer 26 episodes but instead are 13, but still, it’s not like there’s any new content.  Video games that act like the television show, where fights encapsulate battlegrounds that are larger than the Utah Salt Flats, and everyone can shrug off massive punishment and 9,000-hit combos like they were getting pelted by a Nerf gun.  And then there are movies that have been made and are having sequels planned, and people are going ga-ga over it on social media, and making me have these thoughts of wondering how something that was once was hot, has gotten hot again, after such a dormant period in between.

Unfortunately for me now, I don’t have the friends I did back in the late 90s who were on board with me with our mockery of Dragon Ball.  If I’m too vocal about how stupid Dragon Ball is today, I’d be all by myself and face accusations of being contrarian and elitist.  So I’ll just stick with the opinion that I simply just don’t understand why Dragon Ball is apparently a popular thing again, and leave it at that.

Nails in coffins

As if the Braves couldn’t do anything else to make me want to dislike them more, they had to go and designate for assignment (cut) pretty much my favorite pitcher in the world, Jonny Venters.

Now, I understand crystal clear the logic behind this decision, and if it were like Antonio Bastardo getting cut by the Phillies or Sergio Romo getting cut by the Giants, I wouldn’t have given two shits, but it happening to Jonny Venters, and I’m now a little emotional about it.

Venters was hurt.  And then got hurt again.  In the worst kind of way, tearing a ligament in his elbow, while he was already rehabilitating from a torn ligament in his elbow.  Long story short, he had to undergo the dreaded, career-altering Tommy John surgery for the third time, after he hadn’t yet fully recovered from Tommy John #2.  Very few pitchers come back from Tommy John surgery twice, and even fewer return from a third.  From the business sense, it’s obvious and logical to why the Braves had to release Jonny Venters, and once again, I say that if it were anyone other than Jonny Venters, I probably wouldn’t have cared.

But seriously, Jonny Venters was pretty much my favorite pitcher.  After John Smoltz left the Braves and ultimately retired, there wasn’t really a pitcher that I was really a fan of, on my own freaking team.  The Braves Way was always to get “cost-efficient” stopgaps and hope that the legions of pitchers that the team drafts and develops, actually matures into something spectacular.  And based on the successes, and lack thereof, over the last years, it’s safe to say that there hasn’t really been anything to be that genuinely excited or impressed over.

But then in 2010, this kid named Jonny Venters was called up, and before anyone knew it, he was pretty much dominating the major leagues, in a relief capacity.  I’ve always been fascinated with relievers in general, but it was really an awesome thing to see that my own team had this reliever that was pretty much going gangbusters on everyone he faced, with this gigantic high-90s fastball, and this absurd sinker; and it should be worth mentioning that he threw left-handed, so such an arsenal coming from the left side wasn’t something that most people were particularly used to seeing.

Venters finished out his rookie year with an ERA of 1.95 (really good) and had a strikeout ratio of 10.1 (also really good).

But then in 2011, Jonny Venters somehow managed to perform even better than his stellar rookie season, when he lowered his ERA to 1.84, en route to making the National League All-Stars, which was kind of a big deal, because middle relievers like Jonny Venters often go ignored, overshadowed by the litany of starting pitchers and hotshot closers that tend to take up the pitching slots.

Long story short is that I was a gigantic Jonny Venters fan.  I loved watching him pitch, even when my general enthusiasm about the Braves and baseball itself waned.  I was so incensed when the Atlanta Braves team store did not have a Jonny Venters shirsey for sale, that I went online and paid out the nose to have a Venters #39 shirsey made, which I managed to actually flag him down and show him whilst in Washington D.C. once, hoping to impress him.  When I used to write for Talking Chop, and the writing staff would divvy out players for end-of-the-year reviews, I was adamant and made sure that nobody but me would write about Jonny Venters.  Basically, my attempts to spread the word about just how awesome Jonny Venters was inspired me to really expand my horizons with baseball statistics into sabermetrical analysis, and I think I did a pretty decent job of relaying to our readership that Jonny Venters was pretty fucking good at baseball.

And since I’m such a Jonny Venters fan, this is where I’ll say that we’ll never say never, and hope that in spite the magnanimous odds in front of him, I hope Jonny Venters can find his way back in the Major Leagues someday.  But until that happens, it’s only in memories can Venters fans like me can remember the good times, of Venters owning batters like this:

Consumer anxieties and Brack Friday

Piggybacking onto my recent butterfingers and the cracking of my iPad3’s screen, I’ve been lightly scouring the internet for any deals for a new iPad, preferably an iPad mini.  Just earlier in the week, I found a particularly appealing deal for an iPad mini 2, for $199 at Staples.  I missed out, because there are people out there way more fervent and evidently not asleep when the rest of America is, because by the time I caught wind of it at 8:45 a.m., Staples was pretty much wiped clean of all iPad mini 2s.

I was dejected by this, and surprisingly way more than I probably should have been.  It’s like the seed of getting a replacement iPad so quickly had sown a rather large batch of hope, only for it to be snuffed out just as quickly.

Sure, I’m still going to be keeping my eyes peeled as the Thanksgiving week encroaches upon us, for hopefully an iPad that doesn’t cost retail, or at least has some sort of kick back, but in reality, I know that I shouldn’t really be holding my breath.  I’m getting the impression that iPad minis, especially are going to be hot ticket items this Thanksgiving shopping season, and if I get my heart too set on getting one, I’m only setting myself up for disappointment.

I know that there are deals for iPad mini 3s floating around, but upon doing research on Apple’s own comparison site, which reveals that literally, the one difference between a mini 2 and a mini 3 is the fingerprint identity sensor, I don’t feel is worth the $100 cost differential, and would rather much prefer a mini 2 over a mini 3.

Knowing my flakiness when it comes to wants, I’ll probably manage to come across a mini 3, and just buy it regardless.

The funny thing is though, and I probably alluded to this the year prior, but with the coming of yet another Brack Friday, I can’t really say that there’s anything that I really want.  Especially in the realm of electronics, where in past Brack Fridays, I’ve purchased things from big screen TVs, corresponding stereo equipment, video game hardware, computer peripherals, and all sorts of camera gear.

Aside from a new iPad, I can’t say that there’s really anything that’s particularly putting me in the mindset that I need to gear up for shopping warfare or anything.  My television has two lines of dead pixels on it, which might warrant seeking a new television, but honestly, I feel like such moneys could possibly go towards something more rewarding or personable.

Perhaps I’m getting older, my priorities are shifting, or perhaps a combination of both, but I’m finding myself looking at a lot of smaller ticket things, or clothing in particular.  There are lots of places where I favor getting clothing from that do some pretty drastic deals on Black Friday or Thanksgiving itself, and since most of its available online, I’m once again relishing in the opportunity to do it again.

Either way, it’s obvious that I take my Thanksgiving shopping pretty seriously, and the fact that kind of nuisance-ish circumstances are definitely going to cut into them is what’s kind of had me in this anxious mood lately.  I can’t say that I was ecstatically looking forward to Thanksgiving this year, but I did see it as a weekend to relax and eat without dealing with the stress of travel and chores, but now I really just want Thanksgiving to come and go, and put it behind me already.  I do not like feeling this way.