Wednesday, November 30, 2011

That's Great, But How Do You Light The Damn Thing?

From the Guardian

Science fiction legend Ray Bradbury, who at 91 has long been one of the last bastions against the digital age, has crumbled, with his classic novel Fahrenheit 451 finally published as an ebook.

In the past Bradbury has said that ebooks "smell like burned fuel", telling the New York Times in 2009 that "the internet is a big distraction". In an interview in which he also said that he had "total recall" and remembered "being in the womb … coming out was great", he told the paper that he had been contacted by Yahoo eight weeks earlier. "They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? 'To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the internet. It's distracting," he said. "It's meaningless; it's not real. It's in the air somewhere."

But the author has now been convinced otherwise, with his American publisher Simon & Schuster announcing on Tuesday that it was releasing the first ever ebook of Fahrenheit 451, a novel which has sold more than 10m copies since it was first published in 1953 and in which Bradbury predicts a dystopian future where books are burned and reading banned. The ebook release was part of a new publishing deal, reported to be worth seven figures, for all English language print and digital formats of Fahrenheit 451 in North America, and English language mass market rights in North America for Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man.

Maybe it's time someone re-imagines "Fahrenheit 451." Not the basic premise, which of course rings just as true (if not much more so) today, but the method. I mean, seriously, WWGMD (What Would Guy Montag Do?).

Let's face it, deleting a hard drive or someone's "cloud" account just doesn't have quite the same flair, resonance, or sheer dystopian panache as flamethrowers and literary bonfires, does it?  

It's just one more example of the native superiority of real books over those ephemeral ersatz abominations. Hell, real books even destroy better and with more style...

 I do wonder, however, how #1 Bradbury Fan Rachel Bloom is taking the news?

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's That Time Of Year...

And both my ever-diminishing back as well as my ever-expanding waist do not like it. When the dead-standing trees are still two hundred rough, brush-choked yards from the closest point you can drive the truck, one pick-up load is about all this old-ish dude cares to handle at one time.

And unfortunately, it's also this time of year...

So for the next nine days while Oklahoma's public lands are off-limits to quail and duck hunting, I will join the Fuddite Army in pursuit of The Antlered Ones, although if I tag out quickly or just get bored and restless I may load up the dogs and make a few quick trips to some nearby Kansas WIHA lands. I hear the war doesn't start up there until Nov. 30th...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jenny's First Mouthful of Feathers...

Just got back from the Kansas quail/pheasant opener with the guys from the Pheasants Forever Rooster Road Trip. The hunters were many, the birds were few, and those brought to hand were well-earned. As they should be.

Just one good, solid point on a wild public-land quail is what I wanted. Ask, walk like hell, and ye shall receive. It was a beautiful thing, and like most beautiful things, I was the only one to see it.

She sure as hell wasn't perfect, but I wasn't asking her to be. I was simply asking her to show me she was starting to get it. And I'll be damned if she's not starting to get it.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Sports That Sports Illustrated Used to Cover...

A fellow freelancer and I were talking last week about the subject of how great Sports Illustrated used to be.

Or I guess I should say how great we assume Sports Illustrated used to be, since of course neither of us (being young, hip dudes) were actually able to read back when SI was publishing hunting and fishing journalism from guys like Robert F. Jones. That SI was long since gone (or so I thought) by the time we came of age, replaced by, well, whatever it is that SI covers now. Sports, I guess.

But I didn't realize just how recently that metamorphosis had occurred until I was doing a little Google Fu on red setters (not Irish setters. Red setters. The former's a photogenic dustmop. The latter's a bird dog that has always intrigued me) and I stumbled across an SI article on that very subject. Even more amazing, it was from the Novermber 20, 1978 issue.

I would have thought that by that time SI would be basically the same publication it is today. I would have been basically wrong, because there it is. Whodathunk it. The SI Vault website is, by the way, completely searchable. Well worth the timesuck.

I sure wish Sports Illustrated still published those kinds of stories. Hell, I wish most hunting and fishing magazines still published those kinds of stories...

Incidentally, the picture above obviously isn't a red setter, it's a chessie, which was featured on the Nov. 30, 1959 cover of SI. I couldn't find anything out about him other than his owner's name was Kenneth Hand. Don't know if the dog actually ran in the 1959 National Field Trial Retriever Stakes (there were two chessies, according to the article) or if he was just a model. Good-lookin' dog, either way.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hey Man, Nice Shot*

I have to admit, I've become a bit inured to a lot of the waterfowl and waterfowling photography out there because, quite frankly, most of it's pretty derivative, especially the standard C&C (cupped and committed) mallard shot.

But I gotta say, the cover shot on the current issue of DU magazine is really, really nice. Me like.

* With apologies to Filter

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How To Beat The High Cost Of Living...

The ever-resourceful Suburban Bushwacker recently blogged about dumpster-diving for a perfectly fine-looking Burberry jacket that had no doubt been cast off by one of this year's UK nominees for Upper-Class Twit of the Year.

Since SBW and I share not only a mimimalist aesthetic, but the minimalist income stream that usually precipitates said aesthetic, I am appropriately jealous of his score. The closest I can come to matching is my purchase last year of a brand-new Barbour shooting jacket that was sitting on the clearance rack of a local insurance salvage resell store.

I have no idea where it came from or how it got there, but I had always wanted one of those classic waxed-cotton shooting jackets. When I saw this one, in my size even, I snatched it up with visions of being the best-dressed, classiest-looking quail hunter in Oklahoma (something most folks believe to be mutually exclusive...)

While not as expensive as one of those Burberry jobs, it was still a $400 jacket for, IIRC, $79, so I got it. And wore it hunting. Once.

A thick, waxed-cotton coat may be fine for genteel chaps who hunt damp, chilly Britain, standing around with a gun-bearer, in one spot, waiting on driven grouse, but it was about the worst thing this lowborn Okie prole ever wore for walking miles up and down northwest Oklahoma sandhills.

My fashionable, Orvis-endorsed dreams crushed, I went back to the vest and relegated the Barbour to being my general around-town coat, a purpose for which it performs and looks great.

Would I pay $400 for it? Oh, hell no. But I have no regrets paying $79 for it, and I'd dive in a dumpster for one in a heartbeat, headlong, even... 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A**holes and Autumn People...

A few random observations - both impolite and wistful -  on Halloween and the month of October...

First, a bit of a post-Halloween screed...

Since when did trick-or-treating with your children become a strictly vehicle-based activity? One in which the parents - who apparently can’t be bothered with the tiresome act of removing their lardasses from their vehicles and physically walking down the street with their children and, you know, engaging with them – instead kick said children out of the vehicle and slowly cruise along the street ignoring their kids and other pedestrians, updating their Facebook status on their phone and creating huge traffic and safety hazards.

Thanks for that.

What the hell, people? Is this what we’ve come to? Can we not, for one night a year, just one friggin’ night out of 365, park our cars – just this once – and take a walk instead of willfully disassociating ourselves from the opportunity to have a real, tangible, organic experience with our children?
You horrible, self-indulgent, fat, lazy, no-good, stupid-ass mo-fos; you squawking, shit-for-brained, lemming-like creatures whose asses are apparently connected - Avatar-like - with the heated, air-conditioned Corinthian leather seats in your steel cocoons, here’s a hint: Not only do you ruin the experience for the rest of us who still use our lower extremities for something other than operating a gas pedal, you ruin it for your own children, too.

How? By teaching them to grow up to be just like you. And if there’s one thing the world doesn’t need right now, it’s another generation of self-absorbed dickheads.

And this is just my opinion, but I’m pretty sure that, deep down, most eight-year-old girls don’t really want to be tarted-up pixie streetwalkers for Halloween. That’s your fantasy, and if you've secretly always harbored some Penthouse Forum daydream about rockin’ the stripper pole, hey, that’s cool, but maybe you shouldn’t be living that dream vicariously through your child. Just sayin’…

Just had to vent a little. I'm good now...

Last night, after we got home from trick-or-treating and got the kids out of their costumes and into bed, I grabbed a wee nip and curled up in the reading chair with some Ray Bradbury.
October is a restless month. It has always made me - even as a child - wistful and pensive, with a touch of fear at the transition it represents, not just of season, but of mood, being and mind. It’s the one month in which even this hoary, jaded old adult still feels some residual tug of an ancient, pagan magic we all once believed in as children, but which gradually lost its grip as we grew into adulthood.

And I don’t think there’s ever been a writer that captures the essence of, and speaks so eloquently to, my (for lack of a better term) ‘Octoberism” than Ray Bradbury. Reading “Something Wicked This Way Comes” as an adult reminds me, just a bit, of what it was like to be a child who still possessed the capacity for wonder.

That and a stiff glass of scotch also makes a perfect balm for having to deal with assholes all evening...