The winds howled all night last night; I was half-convinced that we'd find ourselves in Oz this morning. Instead, I woke up, walked outside, and thought we'd ended up in Perdition.
That's the smoke; the fires are a ways off, but they blacken the sky, making it look like something out of Tolkien. We're safe, backed up as we are against the sea (I'd by remiss in my duties to my surfing readers if I didn't mention that these hell-spawned Santa Anas have produced some of the greatest waves I've ever seen - the tubes at Semi-Secret Spot yesterday were something to see, and yes I feel some degree of shame writing about waves while this cataclysm unfolds.) The whole of San Diego County, it seems, is burning. The Cedar Fire, which kicked off four years ago to the day yesterday, will seem like a votive candle by comparison. We are backed up against the ocean, which means safety (probably), but doesn't lessen the anxiety.
Saturday I went to the Sacred Craft Consumer Surfboard Expo. I met up with Alan, and the two of us wandered through the forest of boards like kids in a candy store, commenting on the surprisingly high quantity of stand-up paddleboards and the almost surreal quality of Sam George's pseudo-mullet. At one point the conversation turned to our real jobs. I don't talk much about work on this site, so I wasn't surprised when Alan asked me what I did for a living; was I a writer?
Flattering question, and lately, more true than not. Big Reveal Number One, for those who keep track, was The Book Deal. Big Reveal Number Two is a variation on that. Another Professional Writing Gig, this time as the Contributing Editor for a new website, Parentricity. The site will be launching shortly, and here's an Official Description:
"Parentricity aims to become the largest, most highly regarded destination for moms and dads that uses social networking as a guide to raising young children. Parentricity will empower parents with the collective experience, knowledge and expertise of a national network of peers and professionals in an environment that fosters community and friendship. Built with the best of Web 2.0 features and functionality, Parentricity will be a one-stop resource center for parents.
Business will find an environment to solidify relationships with existing customers and contact new ones, much in the manner that MySpace allows musical groups to interact with fans. By setting up profile pages, alerting parents to new products and soliciting opinions and feedback, companies will be able to communicate with parents in a far more intimate manner than in a traditional marketing environment."
Should be pretty cool, and I'm very stoked to be a part of it. So now I have 4 jobs. Running DadCentric, putting together DadCentric Book, Parentricity, and, oh, yeah, my 9-to-5 job. And Baby #2 could arrive at any time. Well, Sleep my old friend, it's been real.
I thought I'd take a break from the usual tomfoolery and let y'all know what I've been reading (and in one case re-reading) lately. I've been on a history bender lately; three unwatched episodes of Ken Burns' The War await me on the DVR (I enjoyed the first, but was profoundly disappointed at the lack of depth to the narrative - the segment on the Battle of Midway, one of the most decisive naval actions in history and the turning point of the war in the Pacific, lasted all of five minutes). Here's what I've tackled over the past month:
Latro in The Mist, Gene Wolfe: Wolfe is widely regarded as one of the modern masters of sci-fi and fantasy, and here he spins a complex tale of ancient Greece. This book brings together two novels about Latro, a Roman mercenary who suffers a nasty head wound which becomes a blessing and a curse. Stricken with short-term memory loss, he must write down everything and everyone he encounters each night, lest he completely forget all of it. On the flip side, he is able to see and converse with the gods and goddesses of the age. This is not an easy read, but Wolfe's description of ancient Hellas as the inhabitants might have seen it, and the Memento-esque plot twists and mysteries make it one of the best genre books I've read.
The Company, by Robert Littell: Littell's novel about the history of the CIA is one of the best spy stories I've read. It follows three very different college buddies and their careers in espionage, and incorporates real-life figures into the narrative (flawlessly - the first time I read it I spent an inordinate amount of time Goggling characters' names). The technical details are top notch, and the characters (both real and imagined, especially Harvey "The Sorcerer" Toritti and James Angleton) are memorable. This is the second time I've read the book, and it was just as good as the first. Oh, and add to the list of Life's Great Pleasures - a glass of Scotch and a good spy novel.
The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, by James Hornfischer. The other day I'm watching the E! Channel, and Ryan Seacrest is talking about some actor - Reese Witherspoon, maybe - and how "brave" her performance is. If you want to know what true bravery is, read this book. Hornfischer recounts the Battle off Samar, in which a dozen or so of the U.S. Navy's smallest ships (3 destroyers and 4 destroyer escorts, along with a handful of relatively ineffectual light carriers - with planes that were not fitted out to attack capital ships) took on a massive armada of Japanese warships (4 battleships including the Yamato, 6 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers and 11 destroyers), with the fate of MacArthur's Phillipine invasion force hanging in the balance. It's not an overstatement to say that the Americans were sent on a suicide mission - one well-placed shot from one of the Yamato's massive guns could have easily sent a U.S. destroyer to the bottom. What happened during the course of the battle provides for a gut-wrenching read; easily one of the best World War II accounts I've ever read.
So there's three good ones for you; I'll chime in every so often with other good books that I've read.
I've been hinting at a couple of Big Things that were on the horizon.
Here's the first. I've finalized a deal with Sear Press, a small publishing house, and in 2008 the DadCentric book will be released.
It's really difficult to overstate just absolutely thrilled I am. Like, "Lifelong Dream # 1? CHECK!!!" thrilled. I'm taking on the heavy lifting - culling material from the 800 or so posts made to DadCentric, working with the guys to develop some new stuff for the book, assisting with the marketing, and holy shit, to say I'm giddy...I'm GIDDY LEE OF RUSH, dudes. I'm G. GORDON GIDDY. I'm J. PAUL GIDDY. I'm COLONEL JOSHUA LAWRENCE CHAMBERLAIN AT THE BATTLE OF GIDDYSBURG. I'M SO GIDDY I'M DIVING INTO THE RODE-HARD-PUT-AWAY-WET CLICHE OF TYPING IN ALL CAPS TO UNSCORE THE GIDDY.
I'll be providing updates on this site; this should be a pretty interesting process, and you'll have a front row seat at the P. GIDDY CONCERT!