News and Muse on Deadlines

I’ve posted a little retrospective on having missed my deadline today over on the sister-blog. Check out my thoughts on the matter, if such things be of interest to you.

Weekend Assignment: Brand Disloyalty

So, the latest Weekend Assignment asks about our favorite products:

We all have a certain product in our lives we simply couldn’t live without. Tell us about your favorite product. How long have you used it? Why is it the best? If it were no longer on the market, what would you use instead? Give us all the details!

Extra Credit: Time to get creative. Take a photo of your favorite product!

So… Dear Wife and I aren’t the “brand loyalty” type.  I was probably nominally more brand-loyal than Dear Wife before she came along, but since she makes the majority of our shopping decisions, I’ve lost most of that.  So, instead of buying Skippy peanut butter (which I grew up with) we typically get JIF or maybe even the store-brand instead.  Instead of Cheerios or Rice Krispies we get “Toasted Oats” and “Crispy Rice” (store brands, of course).  Instead of an iPod, I have a Sansa Fuze (which, frankly, I love; it’s as stylish looking as an iPod, and I don’t have to use iTunes or feel like a cultist – Dear Wife got it for me as a birthday present, and it’s great).

That being the case… (other than my momentary gurgling over the Fuze above) it’s pretty hard for me to pick out a brand of product I use exclusively above all others.  I own a Dell laptop, for instance, but it’s got problems.  Dell’s model has basically been copy-pasted by all the other manufacturers at this point, so when that laptop dies, I’ll gladly play the market to find the best deal for the maximum under-the-hood beefiness (tempered by reviews from reliable sources).  If Windows weren’t so ubiquitous, I’d drop in another OS just to give it a whirl.  I regularly switch between browsers, just because I can.  For food, we typically go middle-of-the-road.  We look for good bargains for good-quality stuff.  We don’t need sterling, top-level luxuries, and we want a good deal.  For other  household goods, it’s the same.

Basically, I just don’t want to get caught up in the horse-race other people often get caught in, where we start attaching emotional value to stuff that’s just stuff.

That said: I do have my weaknesses.  But my weakness isn’t so much for a product, per se, as a… hmm… how do I put this… I’m a fantasy geek.  That means I love my fantasy novels.  (I own all of the “Wheel of Time” books to date, I have a matching set of “The Lord of the Rings”, another set of “The Chronicles of Prydain”, an all-in-one-volume “Chronicles of Narnia”, and so on… There are gaping holes in my collection that, in time, I will be pressed to fill.)  I love my fantasy movies.  (Dear Wife recently bought me the special edition of “The Two Towers” movie, which has been on my Amazon wishlist for years.)  I love my fantasy games and video games.  I love my fantasy-related paraphernalia.  And, yeah… I’ve invested a lot of emotional self-identification in this stuff.

What’s so great about fantasy?  It’s hard to pin down.  I love it because I can travel to new worlds.  I love it because magic is real – there is a sense of wonder and awe.  I love it because I can be a hero, someone who makes a difference, someone who conquers evil and saves the world.  I love it because I can see things that no eyes on this earth can see, or see things that I can never see on my own.  I love the pastoral and wilderness settings common in many fantasies.  Most of this can be said of science fiction, as well, but here’s where fantasy frequently trumps sci-fi: more than anything else, fantasy is a reflection of who we are viewed through the prism of the myths and beliefs we have about ourselves and our world.  Sci-fi is forward-looking, and that’s great.  But fantasy is inward-looking.

I mean, I’m not an elitist, or anything.  I’m a huge fan of sci-fi as well, and of many other speculative fiction genres.  If fantasy weren’t around to feed my unquenchable hunger, I suppose those other genres would do to keep me at least minimally nourished, if not moreso.  But my first and greatest love has always been and always will be fantasy.  You sprinkle a little bit of fantasy on something, and I’m all over it like a rabid squirrel on Mr. Peanut.

I guess that’s at least part of why I write this stuff.

Now… how do I take a picture of fantasy?

Oh… here’s my best shot:

An Image of Fantasy

Is this what Fantasy Looks like? Maybe a little less blurry?