Saturday, April 27, 2013

Licht, Liebe, und Leben

The fantabulous Yaz Pistachio has granted me the Liebster blog award. These are fun occasions to share a bit about yourself and build connections to one's fellows in the blogosphere.  About a year ago, I got another of these bloggy awards from Amanda Heitler (does anyone know what became of her?), and at that time, I punted on the fun facts about myself.  Time to make up for that!

So the thing is to provide 11 random facts about myself, answer the 11 questions posed by the granter of the award, nominate another 11 bloggers, and pose them 11 new questions. I don't think I'll hit all 44 of those marks, but let's see...

Eleven Fun Facts About Cygnus:

1. For about a year in college, I was the theater critic for our university newspaper.

2. I'm half Irish, one quarter English, and one quarter Italian.  My son has to sum up his ethnic origins in thirty seconds.  :-)

3. I juggle.

4. Ever since I can remember, I've had kind of a sixth sense regarding old-style television sets (the ones with vacuum tubes, I suppose).  I could tell if one was on within a radius of 30 or 40 feet, even if it was in another room, around corners, with the sound turned all the way down, etc.  It's an unmistakable fuzzy, staticky resonance that fills the whole body.

5. If I ever join a religion that requires me to face the most sacred place in the world while praying, I'd have a hard time choosing between Harvard's Widener Library and Moe's Books in Berkeley.  Two of the choicest concentrations of holy objects in the world.

6. Like most boys, I had disagreements with my Dad growing up.  But he made Mjolnir for me.  We're good.

7. There's a line in the REO Speedwagon song "Keep On Lovin' You" that I misunderstood for most of my life.  The singer likens his subject to a snake, who's "All coiled up and hissin."  For the life of me, I always thought it said "All coiled up in hearsay."  I still like my version better.

8. Because of strange scheduling conflicts and coincidences, my wife and I defended our dissertations and obtained our respective advanced degrees -- at different universities -- on the same day.  It's crappy that we couldn't be there for each other, but at least the stress was over and done with in one go.

9. One of the strangest places I've ever been was Vigeland Park in Oslo, Norway.  Hundreds of oddly distinctive statues -- some of which reminded me of Ally McBeal's creepy dancing baby -- all created by the same artist, dot these stately grounds.  I suppose part of the strangeness for me was that I was there around 11:00 pm, in the month of June, and it was still light out.

10.  I don't really speak German, but I can recite (and sing off-key) the first few verses of Schiller's Ode to Joy in the original.  At least one German said that I sound like a native speaker when doing it.  Just don't ask me "Wie geht es Ihnen?" or anything complicated like that!  :-)

11. There's no place in the world I'd rather be on a Saturday night than home watching Doctor Who with my lovely wife and adorable son.

Eleven Questions from Ms. Pistachio:

1. Why do you blog?
In 2011, I started this blog because my excitement about games (both the old-school role playing variety and the philosophical Glass Bead variety) was peaking, and I needed to gush about them and explore their connections.  In 2013, I keep blogging because I haven't yet plumbed the depths of those connections, and I keep finding new, fascinating connections -- of the people variety.

2. What is your goal for the next six months?
Get back to 4-5 days a week on the treadmill.  :-)

3. The next year?

Successfully enrich young minds.  (I'm slated to teach courses in Spring 2014 and Fall 2014...)

4. The next five years?

If I really am serious about constructing the Glass Bead Game, I'd probably better learn to play a musical instrument.  (So many people see music as the glue that holds the Universal Language of All Ideas together...)  I think I can trick myself by actually taking the plunge and buying some kind of portable electronic keyboard.  Once good money has been paid, I'd feel too guilty if I didn't start piano lessons on it!

5. If you could have any meal for dinner tonight, anywhere in the world, what would you have?

On special occasions, my wife makes a Szechuan peanut butter noodle dish that has the most exquisite flavor combo.  Cannot be topped!

6. Who are your influences?

Part of that story is being told in my April A-Z posts.  The others were a whole host of teachers, advisors, colleagues, and friends.  See #11 below for one of them. 

7. Have you ever had a recurring (sleeping) dream? If so, care to share it?

There are actually 5 or 6 that make an appearance every so often.  They all seem to be either visits to places that do not really exist, or memories of times that did not really happen.  (As you may be able to guess from fun fact #5, many of the places involve secret sources of rare books!)  These dreams feel utterly real when having them, and when waking up there's often a brief time when I have to sort out my memories a bit.  Am I sure that I've never been there, or done that?

8. Without looking it up, do you know what your birth stone and zodiac sign are?
Leo, and I'd guess the stone is golden yellow in color (topaz?), since Leo is ruled by the Sun.  [Bzzt... nope.  But what do peridot and sardonyx have to do with a solar lion?]

9. What was the first name of the first person you kissed/who kissed you?

10. What is your favorite pizza topping?
Oh, Squid precognitively stole my answer.  How can it be anything other than bacon?

11. Most interesting teacher you ever had?
Well, the most interesting was the geometry teacher who encouraged us to steal spoons from the restaurant at which we had an awards banquet.  But let me go with "best" teacher instead.  In high school, we had a split course in anthropology and sociology, taught by the gentlest soul I've ever known.  Mr. K (first name Gyula) was polymathic in knowledge and introduced me to many concepts that changed how I thought about the world.  Even well into college I looked back on the notes I took from his class.  But what's burned into my memory is his consolation of a girl who was going through a rough time.  A few kids were sitting around a table -- study hall, I think -- but none of us knew what to say after hearing what she was going through.  Mr. K kind of spoke to all of us, but really was addressing her.  He told a few anecdotes, some about his own life, one from Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, and ended simply with "You know I believe in you."  My summary doesn't do it justice, but trust me -- magic.

Eleven Other Bloggers to Get the Award:

Glurp... this is where I have start to have problems.  Many of the ones I'd choose were already a part of my group of 11, and Squid picked off a few others.  What say you good readers just look to the right at my blog roll and pick a few new places to visit.  I know it's not to easy to "Follow" other bloggers any more (i.e., there's no longer an easy "follow button" at the top of the screen; at least for me), but please make the effort if you discover someone interesting.  Many of these folks are old-school role-playing game enthusiasts with streaks of creativity that just won't stop.

I'm going to pass on creating the 11 new questions, since I'm not explicitly tagging anyone with them.

Oh, and the title of this post is German for Light, Love, and Life -- gotta balance being a Liebster with being a Lichtster and a Lebenster (if that makes any sense).  This phrase was also the title of a mythical magical lodge that supposedly started the whole Victorian English occult revival in the 1800s.


  1. Oh, wow. What a beautiful post! I feel like there's so much I want to comment on but let me scroll back up and pick just a couple ...

    Okay, right. Fun fact #3 is cool. Fun fact #4 is even better! I *love* that. Also, I like the bzzzt bit and I'm gonna have to challenge both you and the Squidman on best pizza topping. For the Pistachio, it's all about the artichoke.

    1. Also, yeah. I've been thinking about Amanda too because of the A-Z thing ...

    2. I'd like a chance to test out fun fact #4 again, but who can find those kinds of TVs anymore? :-(

      I saw the other day that the last thing Amanda blogged about was a short note to say "I'm going to start blogging more." I hope everything is okay with her.

    3. Maybe she needs some encouragement. Let's all go over there and give her a friendly noogie.

  2. A lovely peek into your life Sir :-) Also it reminded me of a TV I owned that took 30 loud crackly minutes to warm up and let the viewer have any clear sound or picture.

    1. And, when turning off, did it also collapse all light into a central dot? I always loved that little dot. :-)

  3. Just stopping by for the A-Z Challenge. Please check us out and sign up to follow if you like what you see. Juliet atCity Muse Country Muse