Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

2014 Book Goal: 52 (mostly non-fiction)
2014 Books Read: 47 (89% non-fiction)

fahrenheit-451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is one of those classics that everyone should have ready long ago- right?  Well much like Slaughterhouse Five, despite being a scifi guy, I never found time to read Fahrenheit 451.  

I have to tell you – I did not like it.  This dystopian tale of a world where books are banned and firemen are employed to destroy any found, was just too negative for me.  It went from a creepy tale of a miserable middle-aged fireman to just a sad tale on every possible front.

I’m sorry, I just have to have some sunshine in my escapism.  In fact, I only made it about two-thirds of the way through the book before I just had to put it down.  It felt like a waste of my time that took me to a downer place that I didn’t want to be.

Call it a classic.  Call is the great American novel.  You can call it whatever you like, I just will have to agree to disagree.

Who knows?  Maybe the world was in a darker place and the publishing world was in a darker place, but it just creeps me out and saddens me.  Sure, the message of the importance of books is one I can get behind, but I think this one was just popular because the editorial world promoted it.

by Chris Doelle

Tour de Awesome!

Marcel Kittel - Giant/Shimano

Marcel Kittel – Giant/Shimano

I can honestly say that this years Tour de France was my favorite since Greg LeMond defeated Lauren Fignon by 8 seconds in a record-shattering final day time trial.  It has been that long since there was some real drama in Le Tour.

Despite Vincenzo Nibali‘s convincing win, nothing appeared to be set in stone right up to and including the final stage.  Despite some of the big favorites going out early due to crashes, there was some amazing performances every step of the way.  Despite the turning of the page in terms of the old guard retiring, the new guys were instant favorites.

Congratulations to Nibali for winning what I still insist is the first clean tour in decades.  Congratulations to one of my favorites – Peter Sagan for winning his 3rd straight Sprinters Jersey despite not winning a single stage.  Congratulations to Marcel Kittel of ‘the hair’ for his four exciting stage wins.  Congratulations to the French who for the first time in 30 years put two riders (Jean-Christophe Péraud 2nd and Thibaut Pinot 3rd) on the podium.  Congratulations to Chris Horner, the 2nd oldest in the tour for turning in some amazing days enroute to completing one of his best tours. Congratulations to Thomas Voeckler who I’ve watched transition from a brash young rider in the 2004 tour to a gutsy veteran that is always a blast to watch.  Congratulations to Jens Voigt for one of the classiest farewell performances from one of the most dependable of the Tour regulars. Congratulations to NBCSports for once again resisting the urge to replace Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen with someone younger as commentators.  Sure, they added a host of younger supporting staff, but they are the voices of the Tour de France. Congratulations especially to the tour organizers who not only cleaned up the drugs in this sport I love so much but put together a series of obstacle and tests that made each and every stage amazing.

Thank you to everyone involved.  Thank you for giving me back the sport I love.

by Chris Doelle

Dawn of the Planet of the Lame

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is visually fun.   Watching hundreds of “apes” swarm a city while shooting and blowing things up is a sight to see.  The subtext of the film however is a bit hard to swallow.

This may be the conspiracy theorist in me, but hear me out.  The film serves the typical liberal agenda by saying, “man is evil… man is destroying the world… man is the cause of his own destruction.”  That self- hating “we suck” attitude is right out of their handbook.

But Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes things a bit farther.  The entire film not only focuses on how we have created the problem, in showing that these apes too can be corrupt (thanks to their mishandling by humans,) but that there is no difference between ape and human.

I know, I know… it is fantasy.  It is a movie.  There has to be a suspension of disbelief for most films to work.  Maybe I was just feeling defensive about another film ripping on humanity.  Dang it though – we’ve done some pretty excellent things as a species.  Where is the celebration of that?  Why take the cheap, easy shot?

As a film it had some major plot holes.  It was a typical Hollywood churn-out film with CGI apes in place of higher paid actors.  The transition from hooting to talking over the course of a couple days was the most insulting. “GOOOOO!” became “Hey, thanks for bailing me out of the mess I was in.  That dude Kobo is the one that shot me.  He learned to shoot a gun two minutes ago.  He’s got a chip on his shoulder about being experimented on.  Oh by the way, how are my wife and kid?  You take care, I’m heading out to have a dramatic battle against the super villain even though I’ve been mostly dead all day.”  I may exaggerate a bit there :)

Watch it for the CGI.  Don’t waste your time on the storyline.  Don’t waste your time on the logic.  Don’t waste your time trying to resolve the holes.

On second thought… just don’t waste your time.

RATING 4 out of 10 social media, new media titan, chris doelle, fresh media works, http://www.freshmediaworks.comsocial media, new media titan, chris doelle, fresh media works, http://www.freshmediaworks.comsocial media, new media titan, chris doelle, fresh media works, http://www.freshmediaworks.comsocial media, new media titan, chris doelle, fresh media works, http://www.freshmediaworks.com

Book Review: America Imagine a World Without Her

2014 Book Goal: 52 (mostly non-fiction)
2014 Books Read: 46 (91% non-fiction)

512zEAXEgmL._SL500_AA300_PIaudible,BottomRight,13,73_AA300_America Imagine a World Without Her by Dinesh D’Souza is another one of those books that I am embarrassed to list among non-fiction titles.  It is straight up neocon propaganda.  Keep in mind, I am very conservative.  This book however, is an embarrassment to true conservatives.  It is rah-rah hype and frankly just simple.  Anyone with a brain in their head will see through this attempt to justify America’s actions with an argument equal to, “Bobby would just beat on Sue if I didn’t beat on him.”

It starts with typical fear-mongering about how America is doomed to destroy itself largely by the actions of liberals.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the agenda of the liberal leaders is absolutely wrong.  I just know that blaming them for everything is what has gotten us into trouble as a country.  Both “sides” get us hating and fighting each other so we don’t pay attention to how both are screwing us.

Sorry, its hard to ignore politics when reading a political book.  D’Souza’s book is just that.  It is not an analysis of what the world would be without America.  It is not a look at the effect the US has had on the world stage.  It is simple grandstanding political hyperbole – nothing more.

I only noticed the book because I saw it was already out as a film.  I was intrigued by the title and hoped so much for an adventure in intellectual experimentation.  I was hoping some realistic look at this “what if” scenario.  Last I saw, the Rotten Tomatoes rating for the film was hovering around 7%.  That made me feel good about the movie-going public.

Sure, he makes some great points about what is wrong with liberalism and the “progressive” movement, but D’Souza isn’t going to win any converts with this book.  Those who agree with him will cheer along.  Those who disagree will denounce it as right-wing hate mongering.

There is nothing to be gained from this book.  It adds nothing to the conversation.  It says nothing original.  It just adds more noise to the arguing.  Don’t waste your time with this book.  I am not going to waste my time linking to it.

Chris Doelle

15 Seconds of Real – a big thank you to all my friends. #keepitreal

Chris Doelle

Google Calendar, I love you… but you’re killing me!

googlecalendar

Okay, Google Calendar is not exactly killing me.  Some of the weirdness I have experienced with it recently have however, peeved me a bit.

Okay, so not a lot of weirdness… but I am peeved nonetheless.

It all started when we took a family vacation last month.  In our travels, we swapped time zones a couple of times and all of the sudden every one of my appointments moved to one hour later.  Ie. if I was scheduled to meet someone at 7am, Google Calendar showed it at 8am.

I figured it would all straighten out once I returned to Texas but nope.  Not only did it not correct anything, it continues to happen.

I setup an appointment just a couple days ago and when I logged in this morning, it had moved to one hour later.

I love Google Calendar and organize my business, kids, church, football, and personal life with this amazing tool.  It has to work though!

Have you have any problems like this with your Google Calendar?  Know of a fix?

Book Review: Bob Dylan In America

2014 Book Goal: 52 (mostly non-fiction)
2014 Books Read: 45 (91% non-fiction)

Bob-Dylan-in-AmericaSean Wilentz’s, Bob Dylan in America, was not what I expected.  I expected some history on Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman) and some rah-rah about what a great songwriter he was.  Sure, the book included that, but it also had some rather strange stuff.

Wilentz is a noted historian and grew up in Greenwich Village, New York when Dylan was coming up.  Surely, he is qualified to write this book.  And yes, he does a great job of the storytelling.  Where he failed is in trying to make too big of a deal out of Dylan.

I’m sure the Dylan devotees are up in arms about that comment, but hey – he wasn’t all that revolutionary to me.  He was a master marketer who rode a wave of musical style and political commentary to the bank.  In later years, he changed his tune (literally) and rode other waves in an attempt to cash in, albeit less successfully.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are some song by Dylan that I love.  The Hurricane (the story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter‘s imprisonment for murder) is my favorite but despite many attempts before and after, he never captured that same feel,  I still listen to that song regularly.  I am just not a fanboy.

Wilentz also goes off into strange places with French artists and Dylan’s search for “art” in what felt like more marketing.  He was a decent songwriter, a decent singer, a below average performer with a totally unique sound.  He was not the greatest living embodiment of art and truth, which is the undertone I felt reading this book.

If you love Bob Dylan, you will love this book.  If you, like me, like parts of Bob Dylan’s story and discography, you will like parts of this book.

Chris Doelle

Proof that persistence pays off! #txhsfb

Lone Star Gridiron relaunchIt has been ten years since I started Lone Star Gridiron with my good friend, Mike Wright.  In that time, we have seen a lot of great Texas high school football!

It began when we played together for the (then) Class 2A Industrial Cobras.  From those days in the early 80′s until now, we have both had great love for the sport we call “the greatest sport in the greatest state.”

Ten years ago as the podcasting thing was starting, I created the Lone Star Gridiron show to prove a regional series would work.  The idea was to see what worked in the world of new media and see if I could build an audience.  From the first few diehards that listened to the show to the tens of thousands that visit on a daily basis now, it has really taken off!

In the decade since I first called Mike and had to beg him to sit down in front of a microphone and talk football, we have not only gained millions of fans around the world, but transformed ourselves from the biggest fans of the sport to a couple of the biggest experts.  It has taken us all around the state to the Meccas of Texas gridiron history.  It has put us in front of great kids, amazing coaches, wonderful parents and devoted media personalities.  It has been a great decade and this ride is just getting started.

This relaunch is the first redesign of the site in over three years and what an improvement!  Thanks to the help of another partner – Cody Marx Bailey - we have been able to take advantage of a lot of technological improvements that have come along in that time.

We have completed a large part of transferring over a collection of the most extensive historical data covering high school football in Texas and have made that available on a subscription basis. We are talking more than 100 years worth of data on more than 1,500 school!

We have also begun integration of The Brotherhood of Texas High School Football with the site.  The Brotherhood is a non-profit we have put together to honor the folks that played a role in making this sport we love so much.  The idea is to honor anyone who ever played the game in Texas.  We send people to a signup page where they let us know when they played, what position, who their coach was, teammates – you name it.  The coolest thing we have gotten out of this data are the amazing stories when we ask them to share their favorite thing about Texas high school football.  This stuff is pure gold!

The plan for integration will be to eventually list anyone who ever played and continue share their stories.  Eventually, we would love to be able to provide scholarships as well.

If you have been a part of this journey with us – thank you!  If this is all new to you – check it out… we are having fun so I know you will too!

Chris Doelle