Birds and Flash and junk

Egad – has it really been a week since the last blog post?  I guess when Gita’s not writing the blog-oil recedes to a trickle around here!

I was out of town this past weekend for a wedding. Lots of Thai folk. It’s kinda of amazing, actually – the general expat community in Japan was pretty open in my experience. That is, my circle of friends was constantly assimilating newcomers, who would in turn bring in newbies of their own. Made for some fun parties. The Thai community here in the US, from what I’ve seen through my wife, seems similarly friendly and inviting, but it feels like a smaller world. We met people in North Carolina who had traveled from different parts of the country (and from Thailand), and yet there were varied threads to be discovered. In other words, it wasn’t just “hey, you with the bride or the groom?” There was mesh.

Aside from that, I’ve got a Castalia House post lined up (as in “in mind”), and a couple other things a brewin’. I’m mostly dividing my time between C# study and reading  Bridge of Birds. I’ll have some thoughts on that up soon.

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I’m also halfway through the Greatest Adventure of All, which is pretty dang great so far. Flash Gordon is a beast. Animated Aura’s not so bad, either.

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Soon it’ll be time to power my way through the rest of Hiero’s Journey, and then I’ll once again be confronted with the paralyzing decision of what to read next. Saberhagen? Vance? Some more Brackett? But I haven’t read Tarzan yet! Maybe I will just descend into madness instead.

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-Bushi

bushi

Taking stock

I don’t write much about my personal life here – mainly because I’m an anonymous internet troll, and my story mainly involves caves and butting heads with other trolls (and occasional people). But today I celebrate another year on this earth, and so I’m feeling a little contemplative.

I’m not where I’d like to be in life, which is not an uncommon situation. But still, I have much to be grateful for. Though my finances are among my chief stress-inducers, I’m well off enough that I can eat. I have a pretty decent home-built computer, and I have a bountiful supply of books. Though I’m not at an ideal job, I’ve found a career I enjoy. That’s not nothing!

My wife and I have been preparing for our delayed wedding celebration, which will be held next month. So there’s that. And (excuse me if I get sappy for a moment) – she’s the blessing I’d been praying for for years.

I’m lucky to have great family – my mother has been a bastion of strength and wisdom throughout the years, and to her in part do I owe my interest in SFF and a good amount of handed-down books.

I’ve also been blessed with true and good friends. I’m proud to count our own Kaiju prominently among them. And a woot to him for his Hugo nomination! Congrats, buddy. I always knew HP had superior taste. ;)

More recently, I’ve been fortunate to discover a whole new world of literature. I remember my dad used to keep old Tarzan and Conan books in our basement. Sadly many of those have been lost to the ages, and so I’ve been working on my own collection. I’ve plugged Cirsova and Jeffro many times already as having catalyzed this, in addition to Kaiju. It’s been awesome to discover other blogs dedicated to these older gems and greats, and to see new ones cropping up. I’ll have to do another post soon highlighting some of what I’ve found.

Related to that, an apology to anyone who enjoys my literary musings – I’ve slowed a little and I imagine my pace will remain a bit languid until after the wedding stuff is behind me. Still, will check in and share my thoughts as time permits.

Thanks for reading, y’all!

-Bushi

bushi

 

The state of the blog: 2016 and beyond

A few days late, but here’s my obligatory summation of the past year at PC Bushi.

The numbers:

We picked up a lot of momentum this year, as we gained a bit of direction and became more engaged on social media and within the nerdy blogosphere.

For 2016, we reached 7,540 views, 3,845 visitors, and 139 posts. Not huge numbers, but an enormous amount of growth.

Interestingly, our top 3 posts were one about artist Pogo, Kaiju’s opus “The Quest of Mecha-Harambe”, and a random crap I took on Eternal Sonata.

Posts on Undine, the Dragon and the George, and badass womenly women in SFF were a little bit further down the list, but still drew a respectable amount of eyeballs.

Direction and developments:

For my part, 2016 brought a major epiphany. I’ve mentioned before how the discovery and exploration of the Cirsova and Jeffro blogs turned me on to Appendix N, and beyond that catalyzed a general awakening to the body of quality scifi/fantasy that have become obscured over time. Since then I’ve generated a Grand List of such works. My foot was already in the door thanks to my familiarity with Tolkien and Herbert and Asimov and the like, but by the saints, I had no idea how much greatness I was missing. I also owe Kaiju for getting me into Conan.

I’ve gotten through some of the foundational stuff this year, which I’ll briefly talk about a little further on. There’s a lot more to get to, which I suspect will provide much blogging material.

Kaiju has been working on a writing project of his, which I’m told is progressing. Otherwise he pops in sporadically to muse about the end times and such.

The other big item is that we picked up another contributor recently – Gitabushi, who’s been tearing it up with guitar porn and posts about things like politics, philosophy, and his military experience.

Scientificion/Fantasy:

This year I’ve gotten to the following:

Poul Anderson – The High Crusade was an amazing execution of knights versus aliens, and managed to toe the line between humorous and silly without slipping into the latter field. I also read Three Hearts and Three Lions, which probably has had a greater impact on gaming. Three Hearts contains the seeds of many iconic fantasy RPG elements of today – the paladin and his steed, dwarves with Scottish accents, trolls weak to fire. This year I’ll get to his other seminal work, the Broken Sword.

Leigh Brackett – just one of her short stories; not enough to form an opinion yet. In 2017 I’ll be digging deeper.

Edgar Rice Burroughs – the first three Mars stories. Man, these rocked, especially the first two. I’d like to work on Tarzan and one or two of his other properties this year.

Gordon R Dickson – A reread of the Dragon and the George, and it was still an awesome book. Mission to Universe was mediocre, but had some cool ideas.

Robert E Howard – I continued to read through the Conan stories and also got some Kull and Solomon Kane in. I just can’t say enough how great Howard’s characters are and how masterfully he shaped them.

Fritz Leiber – I keep hearing how fun and iconic Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are; I should have started with them, and this year I’ll be checking out their tales. Gather, Darkness! turned out to be a disappointment.

Madeleine L’Engle – I reread the first two Wrinkle in Time books for the first time since I was a kid. Some creepy, awe-inspiring notes and an underutilized flavor of the scifi-fantasy blend. This series reminds me of Lewis’ Space Trilogy.

Michael Moorcock – Elric of Melnibone – I’m not quite sure what to say here. I’m glad to have become acquainted with the character and with Moorcock’s Eternal Champion universe. Elric himself is kind of insufferable. But he provides a valuable insight into the genesis of characters like Salvatore’s Drizzt, and perhaps influences upon the likes of Geralt of Rivia. In 2017 I’d like to check out the Hawkmoon books.

Offutt – My Lord Barbarian turned out to be a rather lackluster affair, with a great setup, interesting world, and serviceable characters. The story itself felt rushed and underdeveloped.

Pournelle – I’m just finishing up King David’s Spaceship as of this posting, so my opinion on it may not be 100% fully formed yet. That said, I was a little hard on the book early on, as it hit upon some irksome, all-too-common fantasy tropes. It’s really sucked me in, though, and unless it ends in a terrifically unsatisfying manner, I’ll be giving it high marks. What I’d expect from the co-author of the Mote in God’s Eye.

Fred Saberhagen – If Berserker is the least of the series, I’m really looking forward to delving into his works. I’d heard this first installment was nothing to write home over, and it’s always pleasant to have  your expectations are surpassed. The tales of humanity pitted  against the titular world-killing sentient machines were highly enjoyable.

Jack Vance – One of my favorite discoveries, most definitely. The Grey Prince started off a bit dryly, but was such a great tale of the failure of an extreme focus on “social justice” and the dangers of growing soft and naive. Star King left me drooling for more Vance. This year I’m hoping to get to a lot more of his stuff, starting with the Dying Earth stories. Also Vance was a supreme troll, which is awesome.

Roger Zelazny – Despite devouring the first five Amber books, I’m still not quite sure what to make of Zelazny. The Amber stories as a whole were among my favorites of the year, though as individual books I’m not sure they hold up quite as well. At his best, Zelazny weaves together intrigue, magic, and action, along with engrossing character interactions, in a way that leaves you wanting more. At worst, his writing gets trippy and disjointed. Maybe this year I’ll check out Lord of Light and see how it compares to Amber.

Various authors – I also read some viking sagas, some Dunsany, and other assorted short stories from classic scifi/fantasy authors. Lots of neat stuff. One of my favorite short stories was The Man Who Lived Backwards, by Charles F. Hall. Some really great ideas and imagery there. I also read Frankenstein, but there’s some debate as to whether that counts as scifi!

I’ve got a lot lined up for this year. Aside from what I noted above, I want to get to more Dunsany, some Clark Ashton Smith, Anne McCaffrey, Larry Niven, Piper, de Camp, Doc Smith, Eddison, Pratt, Norton, and a few others.

Personal:

I’m working in an industry that I (mostly) like, and last year I locked down my woman. I suspect there’ll be kids in the picture sometime this year or next. Often things fail to work out how or when we want them, but we’re not privy to the Plan. God is good. May He bless us with a happy and successful 2017.

 

-Bushi

bushi

The birth of a bushi

I’m happy to welcome a new contributor to the blog – Gitabushi, otherwise known as Nathan Alexander. NA has been a Twitter crony of ours for a while now, and he’s talked about getting back into writing. Given that he’s thoughtful, intelligent, and all sorts of nerd (and also a fellow asiaphile), I figured he’d fit in over here.

I was going to introduce him as another music geek and SFF junkie, but he had this to add (that teaches me to ask if I’m missing anything):

“Pre-WWII battle rifles. Strategic board/wargames. Geopolitical analysis. Linguistics. Games Theory applied to real-world problems. Kansas City Chiefs. Relationships (differences between men and women, and how to help both understand each other better). Parenting. Philosophy.”

Yeah, he’ll be right at home here.

Welcome, NA.

-Bushi

bushi

 

The Doldrums

We’ve been inactive for much longer than I like, but not for unhappy reasons. I just recently started a new job and have been learning the ropes. Much to learn still, but I retire home every day very tired, in a good way.

Kaiju, meanwhile, has been finishing up his CS degree while working full time and rearing two wildkin. And also he doesn’t care about you, dear readers. Never forget that.

Probably most notable in tech news is the approach of the next iPhone generation. I expect it will drop tomorrow. And when the 6S drops, so will the price on the standard 6. This is when I make my move. So long, 4S – you have served me well.

In culture and politics, there’s always a lot going on. My more primal side is rooting for Kim Davis, while the more rational side cringes. I am also enjoying the spectacle of the Queen crashing and burning, but am also steeling myself for the very real possibility that she will wind up above the law.

More to come in coming days.

-Bushi

bushi

The Kaiju Awakens

Greetings. I am Kaijubushi and will be one of the contributors to this here blog. I have many similar views on politics, religion, and life as the PC Bushi so I won’t repeat them here.  Know, however, that where our views differ I am always correct.  The Kaiju leaves only scorched earth in its path.

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Hail

I have a confession to make. Though I’ve lived nearly all my life in “blue zones,” I’m a conservative. I’m also a papist. These are topics I don’t write about very often on my other blog or on Facebook.

I didn’t used to be very political. I played video games, I read my scifi and fantasy novels. I tithed a percentage of my income to the gods of Magic the Gathering and Ultima Online, among various other minor nerdist deities. I studied Japanese and lived in Japan for a while.

Somewhere along the way, things started to change. Culture is always shifting. The culture wars rage. But these interests of mine, which I always thought to be neutral ground, began to gradually polarize. Perhaps it’s always been this way; maybe the wax of social media and the explosion of the internet opened my eyes. Who knows.

The major game companies now shoehorn gay romances and transgender characters into their premier titles to satisfy a small but vocal (and powerful) minority. Those who find such decisions distasteful are labeled “uninclusive” at best, and more frequently “bigot” or “homophobe.” Gaming news sites trumpet these developments as major victories.

Major tech firms (and in other industries, too) like Google, Yahoo, and Yelp have cut ties with conservative coalition ALEC because of its stance on climate change. Don’t you know that it’s settled science?

Mozilla CEO and co-founder Brian Eich was forced out of his job after it came to light that he had donated a small amount of his personal money to California’s Proposition 8, which defended traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Wrongthink.

Apple’s Tim Cook recently joined the chorus of ignorants condemning Indiana’s passage of a religious freedom bill. He’ll gladly sell an iphone in a country that beheads gay people, but finds the thought of exempting someone from the legal compulsion to cater a gay wedding just appalling.

It goes on and on. The culture wars rage.

This Western decay isn’t isolated, either. During my time in Japan I discovered that most of my expat compatriots were liberals and leftists. That’s not to dismiss them as people – my best friend over there was politically and theologically almost my polar opposite, and I believe that he was a good person. It’s not always easy or fair to break people down into categories, but there are definitely certain prevailing views among the expats over there. I’ve spent some time in the Japan blogosphere and that perception has only been reinforced. One fellow on Twitter put it quite nicely some time ago:

Well, this has been a nice rant, but hasn’t really told you anything about PC Bushi. Only in the past year or two have I become aware of a conservative pushback. Conservative news sources like the Drudge Report and HotAir work report political news from a more “right” point of view. Matt Walsh writes about current events through a Christian lens, and Steve Crowder aims to show that conservatives can be both funny and intellectual when it comes to politics.

Blogs like Reaxxion, God and the Machine, and Scifi Wright work to show that there are Christian and conservative nerds, and their voices are important, too.

And that’s why this blog has sprung up. Because the silent majority’s silence can be just as damaging as the raging of the “Morlocks,” as JC Wright likes to call them. It may be too late for our culture; maybe all we can do is slow the decline. But that’s not a good excuse to sit on the sidelines and wait for the BBQ.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

-Bushi

bushi