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at 20:00 on 08-08-2018, Robinson L
No worries, Raymond. My intention there was to correct, not to retaliate, and I'm sorry if I came across as aggressive. The wording of your reply read to me like you'd misconstrued my "keep plugging away" line to apply to myself as opposed to you, so I was trying to clear up the (perceived) confusion; an attempt which clearly backfired. Oops.

I also used to be a classic radio buff. The interest waned when I grew out of my teens, but I still have a soft spot for 'em. But my parents also used to read to me when I was a little kid, and since I was a precocious little tyke and didn't learn to read properly until several years past the standard age here in the US - ahh, unschooling - they needed something else to occupy my bored little mind when neither of them could read to me. Hence, I grew up with audiobooks, and there my interest hasn't waned. (And considering how very slow I am with regular books, it's unlikely to wane anytime soon.)

I've actually listened to many books narrated by George Guidall - he seems to be a pretty prolific narrator. And I'm not sure if he's really a cut above the rest; true, a lot of audiobooks I've encountered have had mediocre or down right crappy narration, but there's also a lot of real talent in the field, and they turn in some quality stuff. (Then again, I'm not the best person to judge this stuff - when it comes to movies and tv, I can't even spot a bad performance 4 times out of 5, so why imagine I'd be any more discerning when it comes to audio narration?)

I actually haven't read any of Banker's books so far - again, slow reader - but I appreciate those of his short stories I've heard on podcasts so far.

Anyway, congratulations on your job offers, and your refund; I'll cross my fingers that everything works out financially between now and October.

I know bugger-all about wrestling, but I have been entertained by Noah "The Spoony One" Antwiler's video rants about it. I've also heard good things about Lucha Underground, which I understand is less than a decade old, but I don't know how one would go about watching it. Oh, and coming back to commentary, the funniest thing of any kind I've seen in a while have got to be Martin "Little Kuriboh" Billany's "Mark Remark" videos; practically incomprehensible to someone not already familiar with the WWE, but so incredibly funny that I have to pause an average of two or three times an episode because my sides hurt so much from laughing.

... Not sure if any of that helps with what you're looking for but, ehn, thought I'd mention just in case.
at 14:41 on 07-08-2018, Arthur B
There's a cross-section of Western wrestlers doing well in Japan right now - Kenny, Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks, Will Ospreay, etc. (Plus there's a long history of Westerners doing a stint in Japan at some point in their career - Finn Balor and AJ Styles did their stints there before tearing up WWE, and then you've got legends like Chris Jericho. Even Hulk Hogan didn't get huge in the US until he cracked Japan.)

That said, I think a lot of them got their groundings in Western promotions before getting signed to Japanese ones; I'm not sure how the process of getting into the Japanese developmental systems works for Westerners.
at 07:20 on 07-08-2018, Raymond H
Heya gang. Sorry for my recent bout of radio silence. Things have been quite busy, but thankfully they also seem to be looking up at last (knock on wood, God willing, and all that). Borderlink and RCS have both given me job offers, though I wish to hold out on any final decisions until I hear back from Interac, as it's the best company I could possibly get into, and even if I don't get into them I want to know for certain first. Also, for consolidating my private student loan, I got a small refund, which is JUST enough to pay off a full month's amount of loan repayment! I'm especially thankful for this because regardless of what company I sign on with, I won't be officially starting until September, which means I won't get my first paycheck until late October. I should be able to save up enough money to pay for rent and food if I scrimp, I just have to remember not to be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

I've also realized from conversations with friends that I've given the thought of becoming a pro wrestler far more thought than normal people do. Because I don't know where to start watching pro wrestling though (partially because it's so huge and impenetrable to newbies, partially because...I don't have a TV), I'm mostly contenting myself with documentaries on particular stars. If I had to pick one particular person to start following, it'd be Kenny Omega, as he made me realize that there were Western pro wrestlers in Japan (I know, I know, that must seem blatantly obvious to you fans, but I'm still new at all this), but again, I don't have a TV.

Lesse, what else? I still hope to keep my two-articles-per-month schedule up. I'm working on an article about the Sekigahara movie I saw recently, although I'm thinking of maybe doing one massive article about all the movies I watched this summer. Also I've got something big planned for October, let's hope Arthur lets me do it.

@Robinson, yes, I know it was meant to be encouraging, and I took it as such. I apologize if it seemed as though I misinterpreted your words, though I am curious as to what gave that impression. I'll admit, my upbringing as a writer has been somewhat Spartan (which caused no end of trouble when I took a Creative Writing class for the first time), but I hope nothing I said came across as insulting or demeaning.
I looked up this Banker guy, and I have a particular weakness for mythic retellings, so I have to check out at least one of his books now. I'd like to get settled into a new address before I even attempt ordering books (plus, y'know, no money till October), but I still haven't started my free trial with Audible, and I'm loving the audiobook version of Grendel I'm listening to now, so perhaps that will be an appropriate route for Banker and On the Jellicoe Road, especially if I end up with a job that requires a commute (my last school was 5 minutes bike from my apartment). Thank you for the review, and to answer your question, yes, audiobooks are significantly easier and cheaper to find than print books here. However, as a fan of radio, I've always born an irrational distaste towards audiobooks, perceiving them as a poor bastard spawn of two other superior media formats. It wasn't until I began listening to this Grendel audiobook that I began to come around (admittedly it is narrated by George Guidall, which I suppose puts it a cut above your average fare, but still).
at 06:54 on 02-08-2018, Ichneumon
I think I shall check that out later!

As for recent reading of my own, Arthur’s review of The Manual of Detection convinced me to give it a go and, what do you know, I really enjoyed it! Extremely charming book.
at 20:02 on 31-07-2018, Robinson L
In other news, I recently listened to Ashok K. Banker's short sf story The Quiltbag, available free through the Lightspeed Magazine podcast feed. I suppose I shouldn't be a surprised that the title is a pun: the story deals with themes of heterosexist (and racist) oppression ... and it features sentient fabrics. Aren't we cute.

Anyway, despite dealing with some pretty heavy topics, the tone of the story is fairly light - to the point where justice, when it comes, is shockingly intense, though I suppose it's warranted. And at the very end, the message of the story is
as awful as things in our own world can be in terms of racial and heterosexist oppression, they're overall better than not, and prospects for improvement are actually pretty good

Not sure I'd call it a great story, but if someone is feeling despondent about the state of the world, and in the need of a pick-me-up, it may be worth checking out.
at 15:00 on 28-07-2018, Robinson L
Er, actually, I meant that as a word of encouragement for you to keep up the writing, as you clearly have talent that's worth further cultivating.

As for On the Jellicoe Road, I actually wrote a somewhat more straightforward review of the book (though loaded down with a bunch of tangential ramblings and personal axe-grinding) several years ago. I did think there might be trouble getting hold of a copy given your current geographic situation, but not knowing much about the minutiae of living in Japan, I wasn't sure how much. I dunno if you could get a copy in translation, or if so, whether your Japanese is strong enough to make that practical. I also don't know how easy or difficult it would be to get an audio copy in English online, or whether you go in for audiobooks at all (though if you do, I can give Rebecca Macauley's narration my highest recommendation).

I don't mean to push the book on you; you should decide for yourselves whether to read it, and if so, when, and how much effort you're willing to go to for it. I'm just putting it forward for your consideration.

I hope your RCS interview went well, or failing that, that an equally good opportunity comes down the pike for you soon.
at 10:57 on 26-07-2018, Raymond H
Okay, I finally have time to address everyone now, although I'm really tired (I've been up since 1:30 AM, and it's 6:30 PM now) and I have a sunburn and blisters and a lot of stuff going on. But, if I may do this to the best of my ability:

@Robinson: The basic principle is that, if you took out a public loan from the US government, by serving the US government or one of its many branches, you may be forgiven for the loan. If you took out a private loan, which I did, the govt. can't do anything about that, although since I consolidated that loan, they'd probably be able to do something.
Concerning your writing, yes, please keep plugging! I've been plugging since day one, and really the only reason I decided to express myself with prose is because it's the only art form where nobody told me I was shit definitively enough to make me give up.
On the matter of driver's licenses, it's less the side of the road and more the fact that we have 50 states, each with their own individual DMV's (or BMV's), with their own set of rules and testing criteria. That simply isn't feasible for the Japanese government to get a handle on, so it's easier to just subject the poor foreigners to rigorous tests. Also, apparently there are more than five, it's just those are the most famous ones. Basically, being a cursed nationality means either
a) Your country has too many individual, prefectural driving organizations for the Japanese government to deal with
b) Your country is too poor/underdeveloped for the Japanese government to believe it capable of maintaining proper driving laws
c) Your country operates under a writing system besides the Roman alphabet or Kanji/Hiragana/Katakana, which makes it a pain to translate and put all the information into the computer systems (with the exception of South Korea)
So, basically, anyone who isn't European or some other, smaller G7 nation has to go through the extensive testing. But in the end, it's all rather a moot point, as I can't obtain a license anyhow until I have a new address on my residence card.
I have not yet read On the Jellicoe Road. I must admit I found the review somewhat nebulous, with it saying very little beyond that the book was good. However, if you and Kyra and quite a few other people say it's that good, it surely must be doing something right. Remember though, I have to pay exorbitant shipping fees for English books here. Even so, you have my thanks.

@Ichneumon: By you mean...?
And I say to you what I said to Robinson, keep on plugging! It sounds like your book shall be a weird and wonderful creation.

Also, on a more general note, RCS has finally responded, and scheduled an in-person interview with me tomorrow. I think of the great Alan Shepard as I do my best to plan in my sleep-deprived state.
at 04:00 on 25-07-2018, Raymond H
AEON said no. And because I moved out on Saturday, I can't get a japanese driver's license until I get a new address on my residence card. I turned down the Altia interview to make room for license applying, and RCS never responded. I have a phone interview with Interac on Friday, but nothing else.