Reading Books

My former Amway sponsor said if you don’t read books you might as well be illiterate. I responded by saying I would still need to read restaurant menus, but I get his point. I don’t believe that people who read abundantly are more intelligent because it depends greatly on what you read and how you process the information. Finishing a large catalogue of books from the teenage vampire genre doesn’t make you an intellectual.

In the past couple of years I have been trying to make it a habit to read more and I have been failing at it for the most part. In a book that I have been slowly reading over the past few months it suggested that when it comes to progress anything is better than nothing, just don’t give up. So I made a promise to read at least 2 pages a day no matter what. I’ve been failing even at that but I never mentally called it quits.

I’m on a quest towards self-improvement and progress. For $20 or free you can get a lifetime of information from people who are smarter, more educated and more experienced than you are. All you have to do to absorb their powers is to read what they wrote.

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I don’t know if I’d recommend any of the books I’m reading to many people. Marilyn Manson’s book is the most entertaining…surprise surprise. The other 3 books have good information but can be boring too. Reading internet articles seems to be more practical. I believe books have to be a certain number of pages so that the publisher or whoever can justify a higher cost, and in return you get a bunch of filler pages and paragraphs.

If you want to improve in a particular area in your life, reading the appropriate books is a must. If you’re not seeking out information to improve in a particular subject it means you’re not interested in improving or you think you know it all.

If I was a parent I would be reading books on parenting, children, social sciences or at least a stripper’s autobiography for lessons on what not to do. There’s books to help you with your career but a good sign that you don’t like your job is if you have no interest in doing it better. Who wants to read books on something they hate doing? If you’re not interested in seeking information on raising a better child then maybe you don’t really want to be a good parent?

Today I read 20 pages. I deserve a cookie.

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Jewel Discovery

On a recent adventure on YouTube I stumbled upon a video that I felt was worth clicking on. Stumbling upon videos on YouTube is like waking up at some stranger’s home after a night of binge drinking…you don’t remember how you got there.

I was never a big fan of singer/song writer Jewel but oddly enough I have her first album from a Craigslist buy of bulk CDs that I purchased in 2007. The video which I enjoyed got me to look up her Wikipedia page where I discovered that she had an autobiography. That took me to the Goodreads site and the ratings for the book were really good then I’m at the website of the local library and it tells me it has the book available.

So I borrow the book and I’m almost done reading it which is a semi-amazing task for me. Some kids have more karate trophies than I do completed books. It’s such an accomplishment for me to finish reading a book that I hang on to the ones I’ve read like they are trophies.

As a teenager, Jewel compiled her experiences from a shitty childhood, the hopeless ways of the ruined adults around her, and made it her goal to not end up a statistic. I’m not sure if the term “statistic” was what she used back then but basically she didn’t want to end up like every adult she met growing up. I was in my 30s before I was even aware I became a statistic or was at least becoming one. My focus for most of my life was how to better navigate my low level environment rather than focus on how to leave it behind.

There’s a lot of spiritual type writing in the book that concentrates on exploring her thoughts and emotions during times of crisis to help make sense of situations and to ultimately come out better and stronger. As with many other celebrity stories this one also has a tale of a fortune lost. She had such a deep attachment to her sub-par mother that she gave her full control of her money earned as a musician. 17 million albums sold later, Jewel finds out she’s broke. Fortunately for Jewel she was able to make it all back with her on-going success.

Jewel’s intention was to never be famous. She just wanted to get by with singing and music. Before she got signed by a record label she was living in her car, playing at small cafes and getting propositioned for sex by men looking to take advantage of her having no money.

I’ve enjoyed the book so far. It ranks up there with the other autobiographies I’ve read.

In the video she goes on stage at a bar disguised as someone else and sings her own songs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes Master

The sign on the front door told me to go around to the back basement to deliver the parcel.  It was an old house and the guy who came out of it was older and bummish looking.  For whatever reason he had to tell me the story of how he just came back from some city in California after visiting his Master.  My brain executed a search for what ‘Master’ might have meant and the first result was a dominatrix but I didn’t think it was likely.

He went on to tell me that his Master was some Chinese dude who was supposedly a cross between The Dalai Lama and Eckhart Tolle.  After 20 some odd years of arthritis, his Master did some accupuncture on him that immediately cured him.  I guess I would call this guy my Master too if he did this for me.

The guy started going off about all this spiritual stuff.  He spoke about meditating and kept referring to the word ‘blessings.’   His Master was flying into Vancouver on that same day and he had to meet him at the airport.  I was thinking, wow, you must be special for this Master guy to give you so much of his time.

This Master person had some credentials under his belt.  He has written a bunch of books and 10 of them have been New York Times best sellers.  That’s pretty badass.  That’s why I was wondering how does this bum get so much attention from him.  Yes I am being judgmental but that’s what makes life fun.

He gave me one of the books by his Master and told me that it would help me solve my internal Rubik’s Cube and bring out blessings from my heart.   I told him I would read it and pass it on and he said, “no, that’s yours to keep.  If you know anyone who wants a copy just send them here.”  Sounds like a perverted scheme to me.  He probably has a thing for Chinese guys.  If I didn’t stop this guy from rambling he would have went on and on so I told him that I had to go or my Master will fire me.

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Mike Tyson’s Memoir, ‘Undisputed Truth’ …A Semi-Review

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A person with a big tattoo on their face is still a rare sight but Mike Tyson is a rare human being.  There will always be something that people admire about a person who can kick everyone’s ass.  Bruce Lee has been dead for 40 years but he’s a legend because he can kick your ass.  Mike Tyson hasn’t been in the ring for a decade but he’s still always on the news because people are fascinated/disgusted with his character.  As he likes to put it, he’s ‘an entertainer.’

When the general public thinks about Mike Tyson, they think about a crazy man who is a convicted rapist.  He was definitely at least a little crazy and he was convicted of rape which he has denied had really happened since day 1 which he goes into detail about in the book.

To summarize, his book begins describing his troubled childhood in a poor crime-ridden neighbourhood and goes from there to tell about the crimes he committed as a youth, the white guy who rescued him and built him to be the youngest Heavyweight Champion in boxing history, the details of his boxing career, getting ripped off by everyone, sexual escapades, his rape conviction, prison and his many stories of him being an asshole.  As interesting as the stories are, it’s also his thoughts and the story behind each story that make them special.

His autobiography is honest, disgusting, comedic and sometimes philosophical.  He puts it all out there for you to love or hate but if you have decided to read it then you will most likely love it.  The book is filled with similar stories from people who have lived the rock star life but multiplied by 5.

For me, as entertaining as his tales were, I felt kind of a connection to him.  He grew up without a father and was neglected by his mother.  As interesting as his life was, the part of his life that many people find just as interesting is the opposite of his accomplished tough guy persona. He wrote often about his low self-esteem and how insecure he was throughout his whole life.

“I couldn’t take being the big fish and having everyone talk nice about me.  That made me feel uncomfortable because of my low self-esteem.  It got to be overbearing and I had to berate myself and cut myself down.”

“I was just a miserable person then.  I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be with me.  I didn’t want to be with me.  I think that my mother had handed down her depression to me………..I had everything that I wanted but I wasn’t happy within myself.  The outside world wasn’t making me happy anymore.  I didn’t know how to get it from the inside, because happiness, as I realized later, is an inside job.  So in this state of despair I did the last thing I should have done.  I got married.”

He refers to himself as a “schmuck” and “smuck” many times throughout the book, saying that a “smuck” is not even good enough to be a “schmuck.”  He refers to himself with these words when he tells a story about himself getting tricked or ripped off.  I’m not defending all the negative behaviour that he has exhibited throughout his life. He has done some shitty things.  I think we would all be much different though with millions of dollars and if our whole identity was based on being the toughest guy on the planet.  I’m sure I probably would have been a super dickhead too.

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‘Life Itself’ by Roger Ebert…Semi-Review

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My reason for wanting to read this book was because it was written by a man who could no longer speak, eat or drink.  His face was also a bit disfigured from failed surgeries.  Although not completely suited to my taste, there were some chapters that I enjoyed.  I think it can be difficult to enjoy a memoir from a person who grew up in different era and with different morals.  I was mostly bored with the chapters about his youth.  There wasn’t enough chaos for me.  It didn’t sound like there was much poverty.  He loved his parents and they loved him.  He mentioned the many relatives that he had in his life and they all seemed like decent people.  Perhaps if you grew up in that era or knew enough about it then it might be more interesting to you.

I’m calling this a semi-review because I didn’t read the whole book.  Maybe I should have because I went back to some of the chapters I skipped and they had some interesting parts to it.  He wrote about his interviews and conversations he had with famous people like Oprah and Woodie Allen.  He mentioned that Woodie Allen said he did not live a day that he did not seriously consider committing suicide.  I’m not sure if he was just being over dramatic.  You would think he would have done it by now if he thought about doing it everyday for a few decades.  Who knows, maybe not.

Of course I liked the one chapter where he wrote about his childhood dog, ‘Blackie’ because I also had a dog with the same name and also lost him in a similar fashion.

I was disappointed with the chapter about his alcoholism.  I thought it was going to include stories of hookers and blow, wetting his pants on the subway or some other degrading tale.  Nope, it was mostly about him and Alcoholics Anonymous and a few other tidbits.  My expectations may have come from the other memoirs I have read by known substance abusers like Slash, Steve-O and Mike Tyson.

The chapters about his cancer, failed treatments and the aftermath were a good read.  Tragedy has that kind of a appeal.  Before his health issues he considered blogging and having online friends not very appealing.  I forget the term he used but it was something negative.  Possibly similar to what a truck driver would think of if you asked him about wearing an ankle bracelet handcrafted by a hippie.  But when you are a writer and permanently lose the ability to speak, you might just give blogging a try, and he did.  He became a regular blogger and greatly appreciated the world of blogging and the community that came along with it.

I’m not a person of much faith but I can get on board with the following words from his book,

“I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do.  To make other less happy is a crime.  To make ourselves unhappy is where all the crime starts.  We must try to contribute joy to the world.  That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances.  We must try.  I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”

 

Blackie

I am sort of reading Roger Ebert’s memoir right now.  This radio show I listen to was talking about it and I thought it could be interesting reading a book written by a person who knows he doesn’t have long to live.  I have skipped a lot of chapters because much of the material does not suit my taste but there was this one chapter that hit home with me.  The following pictures are from his book, Life Itself.

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Coincidentally, I also had a dog named Blackie when I was a teenager.  Maybe it is not a coincidence though if a lot of people name their dog Blackie.  I had just moved back in with my mother and I guess I asked for a dog.  I remember that I really wanted one. We went to the local dog shelter and for whatever reason I chose Blackie.  

Blackie wasn’t trained very well.  In the first couple days we had him, he chewed up my new shoes and also ate all the muffins that were on the kitchen counter.  The dog loved me though.  Blackie was so happy to have a home.  There was one big issue though.  Blackie did not like my mother or anyone else really.  He would growl at her and it obviously made my mother uncomfortable.  

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I went out one day with my friends.  I stayed the night at one of my friends because I now lived a few suburbs away. When I arrived home, Blackie was gone.  They took him back to the dog pound while I was away.  I cried that night.  All I had left from the dog was his scent on my bedroom carpet.  I am not sure if I had the dog for even a week.  

People always tell me it is okay to leave a dog at home for 9 hours by itself while you are away at work.  I just don’t agree, not 5 days of the week anyway.  So I guess until I stop working full time, I am not getting a dog.  

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Me and my Blackie when I was 14 years old.

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Ebert’s Blackie

What’s On My Bookshelf

 

 

 

 

I was never much of a reader.  Minus all the books that I was forced to read in high school and the number of books I’ve read is about 5.  The kind of books I’ve read are mostly autobiographies from people that I once admired.

-Chris Rock
-Slash

Shit, that’s only 2.  The other book I’ve read was Donnie Brasco.  Okay so I’ve only read 3 books since leaving high school.  Oh wait, I’ve read a Buddhist book a few years ago.  That’s the only one that keeps me from looking unintelligent.

I have a bookshelf.  My little cousin made it for me in Woodworking Class when he was in grade 12.  It’s mostly filled with guitar magazines, DVD’s and half read material.  Okay, maybe one quarter read.  My obsession with Slash was borderline unhealthy at one point.  If I was a female I probably would have given myself up to be his groupie.

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The other day I was eating and looking at my bookshelf and found it amusing how the Holy Bible was on the same shelf as The Punisher Max comic books.  I purchased that bible for $8.  I thought it was pretty cheap.  It’s not a bad deal if it means I can get into Heaven for $8.  That’s cheaper than the cost of admission to a night club here.

 

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This shelf contains the Jehovah Witness’s bible.  Most of it is similar to the Holy Bible but some names and events have been changed to protect the happiness of others.  When I was younger, I had an interest in learning Spanish.  I took an introductory course in college but soon learned that in order to learn a new language you have to immerse yourself in it.  Fight Club is one of my favourite movies because of its view towards life and society.  I figured the book would be at least just as good.  I can’t say that the book isn’t because I have only read about 4 pages.

 

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I absolutely loved The Simpsons during the mid to late 90’s era.  I can watch those episodes anytime.  You might take me for a fan of the movie Dune but I’ve never actually seen it.  An old tenant at my mother’s house left it behind. 

A couple years ago I became quite interested in Mike Tyson after watching the documentary that was made in 2008.  Besides being an entertaining boxer, he was very amusing outside of the boxing ring.  In the documentary, the way he spoke was very engaging.  The DVD shown in the picture is not the documentary.  It’s just a DVD of him beating people with pillows around his hands.

This is a humorous clip from the Chris Rock Show.  Well, humorous to me which sometimes doesn’t count for much.