Welcome to 2016, People!
Your faithful servant, Mr. G, is here to fulfill your information needs in this wonderful, first installment to his mailing list. So, what’s been happening?
Star Wars, People! Star Wars!
Here’s the scene: We are in Phuket. We have just gone halfway across town, past the bars and massage parlours (no one told me Patong was like this), where we find ourselves at the mall on December 18th. I see that Star Wars is playing, but we were waiting until we got to Bangkok, so we could see it at a good theater. I say to my family, “Do you want to see it?” They reply, “Why not?”
So, despite the fact that we thought we would not be able to see Star Wars on opening day, we actually managed to see Star Wars on opening day. And what did we think?
Well, the first time, I saw it, it was a bit “meh”. Don’t get me wrong. I thought it was an enjoyable time at the movies and a good flick as a whole. But when we walked out, I didn’t feel like it was great. I wanted it to be great, and it didn’t feel that way to me. I enjoyed all the characters, loved that they had a female lead in the movie, and was impressed with the story points and visual effects. But it was missing something.
Naturally, I had to see it twice.
The next time we saw it, we were in Bangkok at the Siam Paragon. We saw it in IMAX, which was how the movie should have been presented in the first place. However, the filmgoing experience wasn’t as good as it should have been, mainly because of the seats. I am a tall guy and the seats in this theater leaned back, which meant that any time the person in front of me would move, their seat would cram into my knees. It didn’t hurt; it was just startling each time, like someone hitting your knees to test your reflexes at random times during an immensely loud movie. Plus, there was the notion that every time I moved my legs, it would force that person’s seat forward. I know that this was jarring, because the person behind me kept doing it to me.
Thus, I spent half of the movie being incredibly still, trying not to move so as not to disturb the people in front of me (there were two people, one seat foreach knee). After a little while, I just gave up and said, “Forget it! I’m just going to disturb these morons and go on about my business…” which I did. Things were better after that (though not for the people in front of me).
The key to seeing the movie a second time, however, was the notion that I was able to absorb a bit more of the story. All of those moments that rang false for me the first time were a bit better the second time. I understood the film more when I saw it again and that made me like it even more. For instance, I understood this moment better the second time I saw the film, even though I totally missed it the first time…
I didn’t even remember seeing that moment in the movie, but it was an important, and integral part of Finn’s character. That’s what happens when you see films the first time; you miss important aspects of the plot.
So, I saw Star Wars and all is well in the world. Now, I am not sure what to look forward to in the coming year. Captain America will be good, but what about after that? Not sure. Maybe I can look forward to the next Star Wars installment in two years. That’s an awfully long time.
But why should look forward to that? Well, children, I have a theory.
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen The Force Awakens, then you should stop reading now. Ready?
I’m copying this from an email that I sent a friend…
Okay, here you go…My theory on who the big bad is (even though they would never
Oh, if only I could write the
That’s all I have to say, people. Write me with your opinion asap.
I never have enough time during the day. Do any of you guys feel that? I feellike I am always scrambling to get things done. Of course, you would feel that, as the majority of you on this list are students and you’re always bending overbackwards to get things done for your teachers or your parents or the cult thathas convinced you to join them (Don’t do it!). What you may discover whenyou’re all grown up is that the feeling that you have when you are overwhelmeddoesn’t actually go away. It’s always there, things waiting to get done…novelsto write, movies to make, albums to record. There’s a billion things on the list. What are the things that YOU don’t have time to get done? I wonder…
I am more than halfway through my latest novel, which is currently titled “Bono/God/Satan”. I’m really not sure if it is any good, which is a weird feelingto have. With the rest of my work, I was always vaguely satisfied by what I wasdoing, but with this one, there’s a bit of a hollow place in my brain where thisnovel came out. There are many factors at play when I discuss this book, however. One of which is that it is clearly an adult book. By that, I mean that itdeals with very adult themes and there are curse words in it (Oh, my!). Theother factor in that is that it deals with some pretty heavy subject matter, subject matter that I’m not sure I have the right to write about. That may soundlike a strange statement, but it’s true. The events of the novel are so deadly serious that I’m afraid I’ll be laughed out of the room.
“But what’s the book about, Mr. G?”
That’s what makes this novel weird. It’s about Bono, the lead singer of the band U2. It’s about how one day, Bono arrives in the kitchen of a teenage boy andsays that he’s an angel and that he’s there to save him. And he does…only in away that one would never understand. From there, we go on to suchlight subject matters as domestic abuse, school shootings, Salman Rushdie, and the 1993 siege of Sarajevo.
Still with me?
Yes, the novel is weird. It’s an adaptation of Mark Twain’s “The Mysterious Stranger” (the greatest short story ever written), but it’s not really like that. I’vetaken real people and real events and inserted my own characters into the mix. Very, very strange.
I’m about 57000 words into the novel at the moment and shooting for 100,000words. Again, whether this will be any good or not is a dicey subject. I offer noclues other than to say that, occasionally, when I read back on parts that arealready written, I never hate it. I suppose that’s a good sign?
My next project will be writing a television script. I have a friend here inBangladesh that is going to write a pilot with me that focuses on professional wrestling in the mid-1980s. Yes, you heard that correctly.
In the meantime, one of my books, Ghosts in the Magic Kingdom, will becoming out soon, so look for it. And when I stop being so lazy, I will publishThe Wizard of New York City, which is going to be fun.
So, what’s happening with you? Is everyone as totally freaked out about thenew Star Wars film as me? I will be in Bangkok at Christmas and have plansto see it and weep with joy during the entire film. You need to know this.
Write me a letter soon! I love letters!
I will close with this gif.
This gif is my reminder to theflygineer to let me knowwhen Shanghai Disneyland is opening so I can buy my plane tickets. Remember, for those who are still there, we will plan to skip school that day togo to the park. Yes, this is your former teacher telling you to skip school to goto an amusement park with him. We will make a documentary about it.
The End of the Affair…
All good summers must come to an end…
Holy moly, folks. What a summer. This has definitely gone down as one of the best summers I’ve had in a while (especially after LAST summer when we had the nightmare of moving to Bangladesh…but I digress…). We have been zipping all over the continent, doing all kinds of strange and unusual things, so I thought I would write up a post that would fill people in.
TWO ten hour flights from Dhaka left us absolutely exhausted, but there was no time to waste, as we quickly found ourselves in Oklahoma (as documented in a previous post). We were back in Toronto after that, followed by a lovely trip to Montreal! We rented an apartment in that lovely city, and despite not speaking a word of French, found it to be a wonderful place.
Here’s a picture from Mont Royal, a largish mountain in the center of the city.
Little did we know that the first weekend we were there, a comic convention was happening. Naturally, we decided to go. Comic conventions are always populated by freaks and weirdos, which means that we fit in perfectly. My daughters got to meet and get an autograph from Haley Atwell (and it only cost $55!). Haley is the star of “Marvel’s Agent Carter”. She was in the Captain America movie, as well as Age of Ultron. And yes, boys, she is just as good looking in person.
Very cool. The funnest part of that was that I tweeted her the photo and she retweeted it to her thousands of followers, so Harper and Abbey were famous for about 12 hours. My phone started dinging nonstop with alerts tell me my tweet was favorited.
But we couldn’t stay in Montreal too long, because we had tickets to see U2 (!) in Toronto, so off we went. Our seats were in the nosebleeds.
It was a great show nonetheless.
Here are some pics…
The big screen in the middle was part of the show. They actually performed inside it. It was a really cool effect, and if you like U2 (and stage shows), then it is well worth looking at.
Then, we went back to Montreal, where we had a quick visit to Mont Tremblant…I had a peanut butter cup.
Then, Tracey and I went out for our fifteenth wedding anniversary. I ate food. Here’s a picture of the lovely couple.
Oh, but that’s boring.
I wasn’t actually done with U2, so we flew down to New York City to see them again (this time with a couple of friends). Here’s us in Times Square…
Here’s a painting we saw…
But then, it was time to see U2 again. The first night, our seats were just okay…
But the next night, our seats were pretty good…
I can say that it is quite weird to be so close at a concert like that. First, I was on my feet from 5:30 PM until Midnight, and sure, you yahoo youngsters might think that’s no big deal, but I’m almost 29 years old and that was tiring. I also made some interesting observations about performing. Bono (pictured above) never made eye contact with the crowd, which was weird. I guess that’s what you have to do as a performer…you have to really shut yourself off and just go for it. Still, I thought it was strange. The other thing that I noticed was how short Bono was. Check out those platform shoes. He was probably only up to the bottom of my nose. That must be why he is a rock star. He’s got a huge chip on his shoulder.
So, the very next day, I got to visit a very special place…
I was a “special” guest. Not a lot of people get to go up there, which is understandable. I didn’t take a lot of pictures, because I was trying to be too-cool-for-school and pretend I wasn’t totally geeking out, but in reality, I was geeking out. Every conference room in the building has a theme. This is the “Hulk” conference room:
I wasn’t able to go into the “Thor” conference room, because they were having a meeting, but trust me when I say it was cool. Entering the Marvel offices was like entering the Pentagon. I had to be signed in in the lobby, then I had to present a photo ID and sign in at the entrance, and then I had to be buzzed through and have a guide through the offices, which was also cool. I met a lot of the editors and had a great time.
When all was said and done, we flew back to Montreal, and we immediately hit the ground running at the “Just for Laughs” festival. Basically, the “Just for Laughs” festival is a giant gathering of comedy greats. We had tickets for every night that week. We started by seeing Dave Chappelle, then Wyatt Cynac, then Trevor Noah (the new host of “The Daily Show”), then we saw a live interview with Mike Myers, followed by something called the “Live Reading”.
Basically, the Live Reading is where they take a famous movie script and recast it with new actors, who read it on stage in front of a large audience. This year, they did “The Big Liebowski” and the cast consisted of Jennifer Lawrence, Patton Oswalt, Michael Fassbender, Olivia Munn, and others. It was a lot of fun. Here’s a bad picture from the back of the audience.
During the festival, the family and I were walking down the street in Old Montreal, and I was walking behind a couple of really slow people. I was getting vaguely annoyed at the whole thing, thinking, “You’re so SLOW. Why are you SO SLOW? I want to go AROUND you, slow-poke!” Then, I heard a familiar voice and thought, “Holy crap! It’s Professor X!” Yes, I was getting annoyed with Patrick Stewart, Captain of the Starship Enterprise. Tracey snapped a stealth picture of me and him.
That was kind of cool.
But alas, we had to go back to Toronto, which is where I find myself now, writing this lovely letter. Good news arrived in the mail today, for it seems I will have several books published soon…
You can await word on these soon…
Send me an email to let me know how you’re doing. And please encourage others to sign up for this list. I want it to grow!
Well, it’s been a while since I sent anything out, so here’s the latest from Mr. G! See that picture up above? That is a picture of the greatest donut shop in the history of the world, and it has been my go-to place for donuts ever since I was a little kid. They only open when they want to and they have a very limited amount of donuts, but as a whole, it really is the best donut shop in the history of the world. Did I repeat myself?
The place is called Morgan’s Bakery and as you can see from the picture, it has been in business since 1948. Everything is good, but I particularly like the chocolate twists, which are phenomenal, and something I would assume are dipped in crack and MSG before being served to the customers. I went in that day wanting one donut and ended up eating three. OH, THE SHAME!
It is currently a rainy afternoon in Canada and I am sitting on the floor of the living room at my father-in-law’s house. We have already been to Oklahoma for the summer and will be venturing to Montreal on the 1st of July to live a bit of the French lifestyle. It should be oh-so-fun.
While I was at my mother’s house in Oklahoma, I did what I’d been meaning to do for a while, which was to go through that old box of “stuff” at the bottom of the bathroom closet, which houses all kinds of Randall P. Girdner memorabilia that I’m sure will be worth massive amounts of money someday. Some of the first things I found were my report cards from my senior year. So embarrassing. For all my constant harassment of you yahoos and your cases of senioritis, you should all know that, when I was 18 years old, I had a grand case of it, too.
Yes, that was my grade in chemistry. I never got a “C” until my senior year. Pretty shameful as a whole. In the 4th quarter, I was doing okay, but after that, I must have been a bit off. My chemistry teacher’s name was Ms. Elliott, and though I’m sure she was a fine teacher, I don’t think she liked me much. (That’s a dirty little secret that us teachers have…sometimes, we just don’t like you…and by “you”, I’m not talking about YOU…I’m talking about the others that are not like “you”. Or maybe I didn’t like you…Who knows?). Anyway, that was pretty bad. Have a look at this:
Here’s my grade for PE my senior year. You may wonder why I had to take PE my senior year. Well, it was because I didn’t have enough PE credits after quitting football, so I had to have it. Notice that, during the 4th quarter, I had zero absences. That was not technically true. I managed to convince the college intern that I would go get him food if he let me drive his car to go get it. I ended up going to get food for him almost every day and very rarely attended class. Ah, could the Oklahoma education system be better than that?
Did I ever tell you that story about the Health teacher that let me skip class as long as I did well on the final exam? I may have embellished that a little bit, because I thought that I got an “A” on that final exam. It turns out that I only got an “85”, but that’s pretty good for a guy who never went to class, right? And notice my grade!
I had “Honors English” my senior year as well. That was for the smart kids. As you might be able to surmise, my grades did not reflect my intelligence. I had eight absences over the course of the semester. That was the maximum you were allowed without failing the course. AND I had six tardies. It was the FIRST CLASS OF THE DAY! What do you expect? Either way, look at that semester exam grade, baby! Still, this was somewhat shameful. I really went downhill my senior year. The good news is that, at the same time, I was taking classes at my university and got all “As”. Pretty good.
Even more shameful than all of this, I found my PSAT grades as well. Check this out…
Oof! That’s embarrassing. 87 out of 100 on the verbal portion and 46 (!) on the math. I knew I was bad at math, but really, I wasn’t THAT bad. I might not have really been “on the ball” that day. That’s why I don’t like tests. The funny part is that I still probably had a much higher score than most of my Tahlequah classmates. Yeesh!
I found some other fun stuff in there, too. Like this:
That’s me on the right in 9th grade at our big “coronation” dance. My friend, Roschan, and I were stylin’ in our tuxes and running shoes. Good times. Or how about this:
Here’s the Student Council page from my 9th grade yearbook. I was president. One might find me in several of the pictures on this page. I was so cool.
Okay, that’s all I’ve got for now.
Here’s a few updates on what I’m doing:
1. Still writing my “The Fictional and Unsanctioned Travel Guide to Walt Disney World”. I’m almost done with The Magic Kingdom and will start on EPCOT next. This is taking WAY too long to do.
2. Currently reading: Spider-Verse (a collection of Spider-Man comics from the last year) and “Flash Boys” by Michael Lewis, an account of how corrupt the stock market actually is.
3. Movies I’ve seen: WHIPLASH was the best film of last year. Hated Jurassic World. Cried almost through the whole of Inside/Out, which is the best movie of 2015, so far. I’m such a wimp. Mad Max was “Meh Max”. Not so great. I also enjoyed “The Kingsmen”.
4. TV? Silicon Valley is my current favorite show, followed by Veep.
5. Music? U2, U2, U2! Seeing them on the 6th in Toronto and then on the 18th and 19th in NYC. Here’s a video. They pulled a guy up from the audience to play with them. It’s quite funny…
Write me a letter to let me know what you’re up to, kiddos. And for those of you who wrote me in May and I haven’t written back, I WILL WRITE YOU BACK. I got very busy as school was letting out and didn’t have time to write proper mail.
Greetings lads and lasses!
Mr. G here with another missive from the land of Dhaka, where I find myself ensconced in my apartment after a day of teaching at the school. We only have six weeks left (!), so things are starting to wind down here in Bangladesh and I am very much looking forward to the summer. Summer, ladies and gentlemen, is like a giant sigh of relief for one’s brain. A lot of people look at teachers and say, “Oh, those lazy buttheads get the summer off! They’re so lazy!” But what those people don’t understand is that teaching is a very mentally taxing career. Putting up with a bunch of butthead students grinds a person down throughout the course of the year. What makes it worse is dealing with a bunch of butthead teachers on top of all that. By this point in the year, I have a tendency to just disappear into my room and have as little contact with anyone other than my students for as long as possible.
In other news, it’s that time of year again! Time for another Marvel movie, kiddos! On Saturday, I took the family to see Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. My spoiler-free review is this: There were too many compelling stories and too many compelling characters and not enough time to spend with those stories and characters. I guess we’re all just too used to television, where stories and characters are given time to breathe. I am reminded of my favorite show at the moment: The Flash. The storyline for The Flash this season could have been told in a single movie, but that doesn’t work for television. They have to build characters and have a storyline unfold throughout the course of 22 episodes, rather than tell the whole thing in two hours.
That was the problem with Avengers. They just had too much going on. I like all of those characters too much and would have been happy with a six-hour Avengers movie. Sadly, it was only 2.5 hours (although I have heard rumors that there will be a 3+ hour version of the movie when it is released on television, so let us keep our fingers crossed).
Still, overall, I liked the film, even with all of its flaws.
And you’ll all be happy to know that I am continuing the Mr. G tradition of taking students to see Marvel films. We are all headed to the theater on Wednesday (50 of us!) to see the movie and we are quite looking forward to it. Supposedly, we have a theater reserved just for us, but that’s a story that can’t be told here.
Hmm…what else? This summer, we will be in Toronto for a week, Tahlequah (Oklahoma) for a week, and then we will be spending a month in Montreal. I am very much looking forward to spending some time in a new Canadian city. In addition to that, I will be seeing U2 on tour not once, not twice, but THREE times. “That’s ridiculous, G!” you might say, and I would agree with you, but I am still looking forward to it. I am taking the whole family to see them in Toronto, then I will be flying by myself to New York City to see them at Madison Square Garden. It should be a hoot and I’m very excited.
Anyway, here’s my list of the month:
TV: Veep, Silicon Valley, Survivor, Amazing Race, Daredevil, Community
Movies: Last movie I saw was Imitation Game. It was good. Haven’t watched anything since.
Books: I am currently reading “Ready Player One” and am expecting an Amazon delivery of Christopher McDougal’s new book about endurance athletes (I can’t remember the name). And, of course, I am teaching “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the moment.
Music: Well, of course, I am listening to a LOT of U2 at the moment. Their new album (the one everyone was mad at them for putting on their phones) is called “Songs of Innocence” and it is truly spectacular. Someday, I will write a long essay about how awesome U2 actually is and you will all listen.
Okay, that’s it. As always, I would love to hear from each and every one of you, so write me an email to let me know you’re alive…
And it only took a year and two months!
Okay, so a lot of you spent this last year with me and you would be sitting beside me and hear my phone ding. Some of you may have thought, “That Mr. G is certainly rude! Answering text messages when he should be teaching!”
The truth of the matter was that that “ding” was a reminder for me to take my “Video of the Day” and I dutifully took that video every day, from February 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015. Every day, I filmed something. Whether it was something exciting, something beautiful, and, sometimes most interestingly, something absolutely mundane.
My ultimate goal was to edit all of these together, which seemed like a daunting task. I have avoided it for the last few months. BUT, I sat down last week and said to myself, “Time to work…” I put together all 365+ videos into one, gigantic compilation, which you will find here.
It’s 40 minutes long. Some of you might find it absolutely boring. Some of you might find it absolutely fascinating. Some of you probably don’t even read these things.
The odds are very high that if you’re reading this, then you are IN this video in one way or another. If that’s the case, congratulations! Don’t sue me if you were ugly that day. I was going to list everyone that was in the video, but that would have taken FOREVER, and I had no interest in doing that.
Please feel free to share this with people. My hope is that youtube won’t take it down, because I’ve got a ton of copyrighted music in this video. We shall see. If they do, then I’ll just host it on my own site.
If you have any questions, let me know!
I’m sure you missed me…
Hello everybody! Or as Dr. Nick Riviera would say, “HI, EVERYBODY!”
Mr. G here. I’m sure you’ve all been wondering to yourselves, “Gee, I wonder what G has been up to!” Well, I’ve been busy, people. Very, very busy.
Bangladesh is going well, as far as we can see, but in all honesty, we never really leave the diplomatic enclave in which we live. It’s not because we don’t want to explore, but more because there is lots of political turmoil in Bangladesh at the moment and there is the potential of danger if we were to travel anywhere outside the “safe” zone. Basically, that means that we live in an approximately two square mile zone and never leave. That can be bad at times (the political party out of power likes to throw firebombs), but can be good as well, because it means MR. G NEVER HAS TO LEAVE HIS HOUSE.
In my career as a teacher, I’ve had snow days and things like that, but last Wednesday, I had a political violence day, which meant that we, along with everyone else in the school, was confined to our houses from midnight to midnight. We were asked not to go outside for fear of escalating violence.
Of course, there was no violence. We sat around our house, had a picnic on the roof of the building, and enjoyed ourselves. They lifted the restriction by noon and all was well. It was a lot like that “typhoon day” in Shanghai, where everyone was prepared for the city to be hit by a massive typhoon and it turned out to be a sunny, beautiful day. Good times.
In other news, a few weeks ago, we had our “Discovery Trips”, which are the AISD equivalent of Shanghai’s “China Trips”. The entirety of the high school and middle school took off to various places around the area to explore. 3 HS teachers and I took a group to Bhutan, which is a difficult place to get into, because it’s not really big on the tourist scene. I made a couple of videos of the trip, which you can find here. Look under Week 7 and 8, respectively, to watch the videos.
That being said, I’m still producing my videos of the week. I’m behind, but up to Week 8. Some are good, some are bad. Some are experimental and some are the typical Mr. G videos. Quite a mix.
On the creative front, there’s not much happening. I am trying to get The Wizard of New York City ready for publication. I was working on a vampire novel before February, but I’ve stopped that at the moment, because I was kind of bored with it. I might go back and reread it later. I also wrote a horror script in January called “The Scottish Play”, but it wasn’t that hot. I will get started on something else soon, but I’m not sure what.
All right, that’s all I’ve got. I hope all is well with the lot of you. If you get bored, drop me a line and let me know what’s happening. For those of you in Shanghai, be prepared, because next year at this time, I’m headed back to go to Disneyland. I expect SOMEONE to get me some free tickets.
And a free place to stay.
Oh, and could you also buy my plane ticket for me?