Samurai Gaiden: Takayama Ukon Shigetomo

Here in December many will celebrate the Christian Holiday of Christ’s Mass. The celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth in Christianity. This coming year will also probably lead to a celebration for Japanese Christians as the Vatican plans to perform a beatification of a martyred samurai, that’s fancy Catholic speak for a type of formal acknowledgement of completion of miracles or martyrdom in the name of Christ; Latin for “To Make Blessed”.

That samurai in question is the Sengoku Daimyo….Dom Iustus, also known as Takayama Ukon Shigetomo.

Takayama Shigetomo (1552-1615)

Takayama Shigetomo (1552-1615)

Shigetomo, as we’ll refer to him for the duration of this post, was born Takayama Hikogoro, the son of a relatively small regional lord in Yamato province, Takayama Tomoteru. Tomoteru was the lord of Sawa castle and served the Matsunaga family, whom you might remember from the Ashikaga Yoshiteru video as the main force behind the attack and murder of Yoshiteru.

Tomoteru was an early adopter of Christianity and had his son, Shigetomo, baptized a year before Matsunaga Hisahide led the assault on Yoshiteru’s mansion at Nijo. Shortly thereafter the Matsunaga and the Miyoshi came to blows over how to puppeteer the new Shogun and the Takayama castle at Sawa was easy prey for the Miyoshi advance.

The Takayama were now ronin, but got hired into the Oda forces through the good graces of another Christian daimyo, Wada Koremasa, who allied with Oda Nobunaga after he became Ashikaga Yoshiaki’s patron to make him Shogun.

A few years later when Oda came to serious blows with the Miyoshi the Takayama were stuck in the middle of things, again. One of the Miyoshi samurai, Araki Murashige, besieged the Takayama castle and their new master, Wada Koremasa came to their aid.

Unfortunately for the Takayama, Koremasa died fighting against Murashige’s forces. Even with Koremasa’s death, though, Murashige wasn’t able to capture the castle. Once the initial war was over the elder Takayama became one of the chief advisors to Koremasa’s son, Wada Korenaga.

Sadly for them, Korenaga didn’t much like the Takayama clan. Korenaga plotted the murder of Tomoteru and young Hikogoro, now known by his adult name, Shigetomo. Tomoteru decided to make the first move and he invited the young lord over to the Takayama home. Korenaga arrived with an armed escort and this is where we first get to see young Shigetomo in action.

You see Shigetomo led a group of fifteen samurai in a brutal assault on Korenaga’s escort and in the end Korenaga was dead. During this time the elder Takayama had been negotiating with Araki Murashige, who had recently defected to the Oda side.

Murashige made no argument against the Takayama taking over the Wada lands, centered around Takatsuki castle, and neither did their overlord, Oda Nobunaga. Most likely because Nobunaga had originally won over the Wada clan by supporting the Ashikaga Shogunate and this was the same year that Nobunaga chased Yoshiaki out of the capital and usurped his throne.

Five years passed with the Takayama ostensibly retainers of the Araki clan, until Araki Murashige led a revolt against Nobunaga. This was a very inopportune time for Nobunaga, as he had his forces spread out toward his borders, and Murashige was in the middle of his realm. Nobunaga had also just completed blockading the besieged temple-fortress of the Ishiyama Honganji.

If the Araki revolt wasn’t dealt with quickly and efficiently, dissension could brew elsewhere in the Oda realm and the Honganji might actually be able to break the stranglehold on them; the stranglehold that it had taken Nobunaga years to plan and carry out.

Murashige’s home base of Itami was surrounded by several smaller castles which protected it from assault, chiefly of these against Nobunaga were Ibaragi, held by a certain Nakagawa Kiyohide, and Takasaki Castle…held by our very own Takayama clan.

Nobunaga had a Jesuit missionary brought to negotiate with the Takayama, knowing that both Tomoteru and Shigetomo were devout Christians. Nobunaga gave simple terms: If Takasaki surrenders, Nobunaga will aid the Jesuit churches in the area. If the fort doesn’t surrender…then Nobunaga will wipe the churches out and expunge the Christian influence in the area.

Shigetomo refused to endanger the Christian populace of Takasaki and fled the castle in the night, much to the chagrin of his father. Tomoteru sent messengers to Araki Murashige apologizing for Shigetomo’s lack of loyalty; most likely because Murashige currently held several members of the Takayama clan as political hostages.

The Takayama were in an especially precarious situation when Shigetomo and his new priest friend went to Ibaragi and convinced the castellan there, Nakagawa Kiyohide, to surrender to Nobunaga.

In the end Nobunaga was successful and Murashige’s home of Itami was besieged and Murashige wound up fleeing his imminent destruction. To his credit, Murashige released the Takayama hostages unharmed even with Shigetomo’s betrayal.

At that point Nobunaga rewarded Kiyohide and the young Shigetomo. Kiyohide got to keep his castle at Ibaragi and Shigetomo’s father was forced to retire in favor of his son.

Tomoteru shaved his head, denounced his Christian faith, and became a Buddhist monk by the name of Zusho. This is ironic for two reasons. The first of which is that when Christianity first spread to the capital region, Tomoteru had been an ardent foe, trying to convince Matsunaga Hisahide to expel the Christians. The second reason you’ll discover as we continue to talk about his son, Shigetomo.

Now Shigetomo owned Takatsuki…and he immediately set to work on converting the population to Christianity. Christian history applauds Shigetomo’s work as just and holy, however many Japanese of the time and certainly now, believe that Shigetomo was basically a Japanese Torquemada.

They believe that he forcefully converted the populace of Takatsuki to Christianity. Shigetomo spent five years there in power and in that short time he converted 72% of the populace, that’s 18,000 people, to Christianity. That’s a lot of ‘willing’ converts.

Especially taking into account the fact that Shigetomo reportedly looted and destroyed numerous Buddhist temples, converting the ones he didn’t tear down into Catholic Churches? Ehhh… either way it irked the local population of Buddhist monks who petitioned Nobunaga to force an end to the conversion.

Nobunaga had recently torched and murdered the entire populace of the Enryakuji Temple Complex and was currently fighting three separate fronts of fanatical Buddhist Warrior Monk sects. Needless to say he really didn’t seem to care about what Takayama did to the temples in Yamato.

Now, regardless of whether Shigetomo was just a brilliant Sermon-writer or was actually holding a Japanese Inquisition he also managed to convert several other prominent men and women to Christianity. Kuroda Kanbei and Hosokawa Tadaoki’s wife, Tamako, among them.

Now we have arrived in the year 1582 when Akechi Mitsuhide betrays Nobunaga at Honnoji. Toyotomi Hideyoshi races back into the capital region and along the way he passes through the province of Settsu where both Kiyohide and Shigetomo have brought their armies and they joined the Toyotomi vanguard, eventually leading troops on the frontline during the Battle of Yamazaki.

When the Toyotomi and Shibata went to war later in the year over a succession dispute on which of Nobunaga’s sons would succeed him, Shigetomo and Kiyohide were sent north to be the first line of defense against the Shibata.

The Shibata lord, Katsuie, sent his nephew, Sakuma Morimasa to make an opening break into the campaign. Sakuma attacked Shigetomo’s post of Iwasakiyama which Shigetomo apparently decided was an untenable position and he abandoned the fort, fleeing to the castle at Tagami where Toyotomi’s half-brother, Hidenaga was stationed.

Sakuma went on to assault nearby Shizugatake and actually managed to kill poor Kiyohide who was guarding it, however this put Sakuma too far south compared to the rest of Shibata’s army. Toyotomi counterattacked and defeated Sakuma, paving the way for Shibata’s eventual defeat.

Shigetomo is largely considered to have been a coward during this campaign, however he may have been charismatic enough to convince Toyotomi that it was in his benefit in the end. After all, if Iwasakiyama hadn’t fallen so easily, Sakuma might not have been so hot-headed and arrogant as to march all the way to Shizugatake and get taken by surprise.

This is surprising given the fact that he was actually on fairly bad terms with Toyotomi at the time, because he refused to light incense at Nobunaga’s funeral; citing the fact that Christians were not permitted to participate in the rituals of infidel religions.

Either way Shigetomo got the chance to redeem himself in 1584 when he participated in Toyotomi’s invasion of Shikoku. He apparently performed well and was awarded a fief at Akashi in Harima province, worth roughly 60,000 koku.

As with Takatsuki, Shigetomo immediately went about tearing down or converting temples and converting the populace. And once again the cries of the local monks were ignored. That is until after Toyotomi managed to diminish the power of the warrior monks in the capital region, something he depended on Shigetomo to help with, and decided that Christianity was gaining too much ground in Japan.

Shigetomo participated in Toyotomi’s invasion of Kyushu in 1587 and before he even got back from helping to win that war, Toyotomi had him removed from his fief at Akashi and made a ronin. Shigetomo took up with the far more politically powerful Konishi Yukinaga, another Christian daimyo that was given a large fief in Kyushu.

Shigetomo eventually wound up wandering his way to the Maeda lands and took up under Maeda Toshiie, whose wife we talked about a few months ago, and remained there for several years, even after Toyotomi and Toshiie’s deaths.

In 1614 when Tokugawa Ieyasu banished the Christians from Japan Maeda Toshitsune, Shigetomo’s lord at the time, believed he would be troublesome. However in the end Shigetomo acquiesced to the Shogunate and boarded a ship to be removed from the country.

He was exiled to the Philippines where he was welcomed by the local Jesuit missionaries and some reports suggest that he was offered the chance to lead a Spanish-funded invasion of Japan, but turned down the offer, instead opting to remain peacefully in Manila.

Which he did for the next 40 days, wherein he died of illness.

Shigetomo was, and still is, a polarizing figure in Japan. Christians laude him as a pillar of faith and heroism and many others despise him as a cruel betrayer and coward. Either way he must have been well-regarded by some back in his day to have accomplished all that he did.

The conversion of notable samurai and their wives and servants, not to mention being welcomed into Maeda Toshiie’s ranks, suggest that he was a skilled and well-spoken man. He is considered to have been good with poetry and the Tea Ceremony as well.

So in the spirit of Takayama Dom Iustus Shigetomo…Merry Christmas for you Christians out there and Happy Rohatsu Day for everyone else.

~RCS

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Christmas 2015

Mimi and I both want to share some holiday cheer this year.  We’ll be at work on Christmas Day, so here’s some holiday stuff to keep you folks going while we’re chuggin’ along.  The first one’s from Mimi and the second one’s from me.  But from both of us…we hope you have a happy and safe holiday season, whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, Milad un Nabi, Rohatsu, Winter Solstice, Boxing Day, or any one of a dozen other December holidays.

DJComic_003

That’s what Rich gets me for Christmas every year, and my birthday, and our anniversary, and valentine’s day, and independence day, and cinco de mayo…

Ͼ-Mimi


I came across this picture a few weeks ago and couldn’t help but share it.  I found it to be pretty funny and I’m not even a fan of Snoop Doogg’s music.

Snopp Christmizzle

Twas the nizzle before Christmizzle and all through the hizzle, not a creature was stirring, not even a mizzle.  Fo’ shizzle.

All were waiting for Sizzle Clause and his bag.  To bring all the good homies and bitches their swag.

Hahaha; it amused me, I hope it amuses you, too.

~RCS

DJ Comic: December Holidays Part 1

DJComic_001

This month was actually supposed to be Bingo Month and Write a Friend Month, but I feel this fits December better.  The holiday season actually seems a little less crazy now that I’m an “adult” because Rich and I can’t visit nearly as many family members because of work and other adult-ish stuff.  I have a huge family, so when I was kid my parents would be driving all over the place.  We went to two different places on Christmas day and had to go to 3 or more other places the weekend before or after Christmas, too.  Hopefully everyone’s holiday season isn’t too crazy.

Ͼ-Mimi

Sleepy Christmas…

So, I, uhh…am pretty tired right now.  I had to work Christmas Eve and halfway through my shift I got a call from one of my officers.  He called off for the overnight shift.  I was quite perturbed, because we have additional manpower requirements on holidays so we have a harsher penalty for calling off on holidays than for regular days.  When I asked him why he was calling off he said, “…my father just passed away, I’m at the hospital now.”

Whoops...I might be an asshole.

Well…this just got awkward.

The only officer who wasn’t already working or out-of-town admitted he was already three sheets to the wind by 7pm…and was actually drinking while on the phone with me.  So I worked a double on Christmas Eve, and had to come back to work Christmas Day for the afternoon shift.

So I just thought I’d share a video I found while sitting around with nothing to do which helped me get through the night…

~RCS

Avon: Campaign 26, 2014

Hey, everyone!

I know it’s been longer than it should have been, but we took a pretty good computer virus to the nutsack (and by nutsack I mean hard drive, of course…also a scrotum) and I’ve been pretty busy working on a new project that I hope to have some good news about in the coming weeks.

Anyway, Mimi made a video for Campaign #26.  Orders are due in by December 3rd, 2014!

~RCS

Veteran’s Day 2014

I’m sure after a few years of this you all know the drill.  Marine Corps Birthday/Anniversary followed by…Veteran’s Day.  As is usual, we have a Photopost today.  But first, a little something to think about when you’re cheering at a parade or listening to some guy with more stars on his shoulders than brains under his cap give a speech: We are, legally and technically, a secular nation.  We have, codified in our laws, procedures that prohibit the favoring of any religion.  As such, we shouldn’t have any religious holidays be national holidays.  But consider this…

December 25th, an arbitrary day picked to celebrate the birth of Christ by ancient Romans.  There will be no mail sent or received that day.

November 11th, a symbolic day chosen to mourn those lost during the seminal tragedy of the last century, WWI, and a celebration of our soldiers and sailors who served nobly in the armed services.  Mail will be picked up and delivered on this day.

Consider that, on Christmas a soldier can’t get his paycheck mailed to him.  But he can on Veteran’s day.  And how many of you are taking a day off to celebrate the soldiers who protect you from evil, as compared to how many of you will be taking Christmas day off to celebrate a fat man putting overpriced knick-knacks under an aluminum tree?

Priorities.  We, as a nation, need to try to get some.

So without further ado…funny stuff:

Vet2014-5

What? Gotta have somethin’ to do to keep yourself occupied on those long flights.

Vet2014-6

This is what it would look like if there were any Buddhist Theocracies in the world.

Vet2014-10

I…have no idea what I’m doing.

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Who likes Short Shorts? The ladies watching the PT group like Short Shorts! Ooh-Rah!

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I believe those mustaches violate the uniform code.

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Too much time was spent on the details of that glorious penis.

Vet2014-7

“All I know is it ends in ‘-stan’.” “Oh, yeah, that sounds repressed as shit, let’s liberate the hell out of it!”

Vet2014-3

Sadly, this still wouldn’t be the weirdest story I’ve heard from Marines.

Vet2014-9 Vet2014-4 Vet2014-2 Vet2014

~RCS

And like I said…USMC birthday…

Happy Birthday to you!

Happy Birthday to you!

You kill anything that stands against the Red, White, and Blue!

Happy Birthday to you!

Kids With Badly Chosen Names.

What is with the names parents give their children lately?  Doesn’t anyone have a bad idea filter anymore?  When I was born my parents were going to name me after my two grandfathers Norman and Sylvester, but decided to name me after their middle names; instead for fear of me getting teased or bullied for the archaic names (didn’t help, in the end, but oh well).

At work we’ve got one of those Salvation Army toy donation trees where they hang little tags on the tree with a kid’s name, age, and gender.  You take the tag, buy a gift, and return the gift with the tag attached to it.

It’s a great idea, I wholeheartedly support it.  But some of the names on these tags are ridiculous; particular giving girls boys’ names and boys girls’ names.  Not that I don’t support giving a child the chance to decide their own gender identity and such, but I think Johnny Cash said it best, “Life’s hard for a boy named Sue.”

3409050077_11417315ff

Hallo! My name eez Naythan! I am pleased to be your new mail-order wife!

A 13-year-old girl named…Naythan.  Seriously?  In what language is Nathan a girl’s name?

A 10-year-old boy named…Dyan.  Now I’m sure it’s probably supposed to be pronounced Dee-ahn, like Deon.  But if you were a substitute teacher, or a classroom bully, you’d look at that name and say, “Diane?”

Naythan, I’d like you to meet my son…Dyan.

Those are the worst offenders on the tree, but it got me thinking about other stupid names parents give their kids.  For instance, my elder siblings and I went to school with a set of three sisters.  The eldest was named Heaven, the middle one was named Destiny, and the youngest one was named Chastity.  And as you might expect, Chastity had her first child at 16, because she was a hard-partying slut.  Her conservative religious family was very upset by it, I’ve heard.

Which brings me to a new motif my fiancé has told me about.  Where she works (in retail services) she has come across no less than four occurrences of the name Neveah.  Yes, that’s Heaven spelled backward.  Four occurrences of it in a town with a population of five thousand in two months’ time.

I’ve heard stories of a family who liked ramen noodles so much they named their daughter Toprameneesha, that is…Top Ramen Eesha.  Another good one I’ve heard of was La-a, which I would pronounce La-Ah!  But her parents claimed, “It’s pronounced La-Dash-Ah!”  No, no it isn’t…learn to spell.

A colleague of mine was pregnant and when she found out it was going to be a boy, she decided on a name…Destinasia.  She said she mixed Destin, a form of Dustin, and Anastasia.  What in the hell made her think that was a good idea?  Her defense was that she’d just call him Destin for the most part, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to be called on by his teacher as, “Who can tell me the answer to number three?  Hmm?  Destinasia?”

And just so you don’t think I’m picking on Black people for weird names, there are plenty of stupid white names out there, too.  Look at my niece, for example.  My sister couldn’t decide what to name her second daughter, so she let her first daughter (who was about 4 years old at the time) choose her name.  The elder sister was becoming fast friends with her cousin, Becca; so she decided to name her new younger sister ‘Becca’.  Dooming the poor girl to be known around the family as ‘Little Becca’ for the rest of her life (seriously, we already have two Gregs and they were known as ‘Big Greg’ and ‘Little Greg’ their whole lives).

My fiancé’s whole family is a derivation of Robert.  There’s her brother, Bobby, her uncle Bobby, her uncle Robby, her grandfather Bob, her cousin Robert, and her grandfather Bobert.  Okay, the Bobert one’s not legit; I just like making that joke in fast succession… “We’ve got Robby, and Bobby, and Robert, and Bob; Ribbett and Bobert!”

Always reminds me of the comedian Juston McKinney talking about his name, “My Dad thought he was funny; ‘you were born just on time; get it?’  No it’s not funny, it could have been ‘just in time’ and it would be the same joke!”

~RCS

Christmas Is Coming!

If you folks haven’t caught on, I’m not a very religious person…certainly not big on celebrating fake Christian holidays like Christmas.  But since it’s a national holiday and I come from a long line of sheep Christian-y people, I get roped into celebrating it nonetheless.  I don’t put up decorations, but I do buy folks presents.  Of course I buy said presents in early February and then box them up in a closet for ten months until I pull them out, maybe find time to wrap the big ones, and hand them out to in-laws that don’t like or remember me and my own family.

This brings up a few things…

First of the purchasing aspect.

As I said, I purchase my presents in early February.  I purchased a certain kitchen tool, for which I can’t say what it is (because a few of my in-laws who do remember and family members read this and I don’t want them to know what I got them, yet), that usually sold for $30 a piece.

Y’know what?  Fair disclaimer…if you are related to me, by hook or by crook, err…by blood or by impending marriage, stop reading this one and go straight to the next point.  Thanks!

As I was saying, all through November and December they cost $30 a piece.  Well I got each one for $10.  We wiped the store out, filled up the cart.  But there still wasn’t enough for everybody, so we decided that each separate family will get one.  That meant we still needed individual gifts.  So we got some nifty blankets for everyone who is close on the family tree, which were normally $12-16 a piece.  We got them for $2.

Then for the more distant relatives we got some coffee mugs which were usually $2.00 a piece, but we bought them 4 for a Dollar!  Yeah, that’s 25 cents a piece.

We also had no huge lines, or rushes, or anything like that.  It was actually fun shopping for all this stuff with my fiance.

Secondly…the ‘rub it in your face’ aspect.

This one isn’t so much about the in-laws so go ahead and read this part if you want, as long as you aren’t related to me by blood–nah, screw it, read it anyway.  That’ll just make it so much sweeter to know that you realize what’s coming and there’s nothing you can do about it.  (I’m diabolical, aren’t I?)

So, like I said before, I got a bunch of stuff for everybody.  Spare stuff, even, and it’s not just mindless crap, either; it’s all stuff that can be used and may very well be enjoyed.

But it’s no secret that I come from relatively poor blood, so my family decided some years ago that we adults won’t exchange gifts.  I think the past couple of years we haven’t even bought for each other’s children (of which I have none, so I was cool with that fact).  But out of all my siblings, and until recently my mother included, I made the most money in my family.  It comes from leaving the dried husks of my home town and moving into the city to get a real job in a place that has a functional economy.

Needless to say ‘we’ decided not to buy gifts for each other a few years (roughly when I moved to the city, 9 years ago) and that year I surprised everyone with some gifts.  Because I’m that kind of asshole.  I’d grown up as the black sheep of my family.  My middle sister was always the favorite and my eldest sister always earned a begrudging respect from my mother.  Even when my mother started up her own business, her eventual plan was to bring all three of her kids into the business.

First my middle sister came into the scene to help her with accounting (she had originally gone to college for Special Education Teaching, then switch majors to Psychology, then dropped out of college) and after a few years, my mother figured she would bring in my eldest sister.  My eldest sister has been a telemarketer and telephone surveyor for years…which translated, to my mother, as her being experienced in ‘marketing’ so she would handle the marketing department.

Then there was ‘one’.  And that one was me.  I would be brought into the business to…uhh…?

Everybody needs a janitor, right?  No, no, she couldn’t offer such a lowly position to me, of course; when compared to my sisters’ elevated positions as heads of Accounting and Marketing, respectively.  So she finally came up with a plan: She would buy a building and let me rent it from her so that I could open a martial arts school.  That was the plan she came up with.

Because here’s the problem: I’m sadly lacking in talent, experience, and competency in her eyes.  I’m also physically and emotionally weak.

Well, okay so I am emotionally weak, I will admit that.  I led a strange life that shattered my emotional capabilities (purposefully, mind you) to become the ultimate soldier.  Then the Marine Corps said, “Oh, you now what?  We don’t need you right now…go away; and don’t come back.”  So I was the ultimate soldier.  I could quote Sun Tzu, I could lead a crew of cadets through the woods with a faulty compass, I could sneak through a forest without snapping a twig, I could hit a can at fifty meters blind – using ‘muscle reflex aim’ with a rifle, and I…was working in a factory making paint, synthetic oil, and veneer coatings.  But that has nothing to do with anything and was just kind of a tangential brain dump, sorry.

Anyway, back to the story at hand.  So I’m talentless, inexperienced, incompetent, weak, lazy, and unwilling to learn.  Totally neglecting that I showed her how to use a computer when I was seven, I built my first website before she even surfed the internet, and I finished a novel several years before her (I’ve got 3, she has none).

Without getting into what few talents I do actually have (most of them involve killing in some fashion, and in the Christmas spirit I’ll skip over that idea), I’m basically the black sheep of the family, as I said.  It probably doesn’t help that I moved away as soon as I could (given the aforementioned brain dump, was it really a surprise?).  But I am also the highest-grossing black sheep of the family.  And I relish in the bastardic glee of the looks I receive from my siblings when I hand them a gift and they have nothing to give back.  It gives me that one, little, petty step over them.  It’s a small, meaningless step, but it’s still a step forward.  The goal of any outnumbered, outmaneuvered, and outclassed combat force is to “Move forward with minimal losses”.  That little step would cost them more than it would cost me, percentage-wise.  And more importantly, I’m a petty bastard and it makes me feel better.  So I do it.  Moving on…

Thirdly the ‘you can’t catch me off guard’ aspect…

Going along with my abhorrent pettiness, comes the fact that I hate it when I’m on the receiving end of that little trick.  My former co-worker and my buddy got me with this; each of them only once.  My coworker never discussed gift exchanges, so it never crossed my mind.  We were working a patrol together on Christmas Eve and he handed me a gift.  I had nothing to give him back, so that night I got him some gourmet coffee and wrapped it, then took it into him the next day.

My buddy asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told him I barely tolerate exchanging gifts with family, I don’t exchange gifts with friends.  He was cool with that, until the week before Christmas I showed up at his place for a gaming night.  “Oh, by the way…I got you two $60 games.  Here ya go, buddy!”

You…bastard!

I got him something later, but it was just that one time he got me with that.  The next year (which would have been last year, now) I now had a fiance to tote around.  So I showed up at his place for a gaming night and he gave me a DS game.  And I had my fiance hand him the Bath and Body Works gift card packet.  The confused look on his face was great.

Take it, bitch!!

Oh, uhh, of course it was just a packet.  The gift card inside was a GameStop Card.  It was listed as from both of us.  You know…from me, the guy he gave a DS game to, and also from my fiance…who he had no gift to give.

MUHUHUHUWHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!

He almost gave her the blue-ray box set of the Spartacus series from HBO, but we didn’t have a Blue-Ray player.  Which brings me to…

Finally!

The only gifts we wind up waiting on are, inevitably, my fiance’s gift for me and my gift for her.  So this year she’s one-upping me.  I’m basically making a mix-tape of a bunch of hard-to-acquire music that she likes in a feeble attempt to live up to what she got me.

A 600GB Playstation 3 with Assassin’s Creed Revelations and the new Assassin’s Creed III!

It showed up in the mail (we bought it from Amazon) and it is sitting in the corner of the room.  I have strict orders that I do not get to open it until Christmas.  This is vengeance for the fact that last year I bought her Christmas present in March and wrapped it in July, and refused to give it to her or tell her what it was until Christmas.  But I’m not allowed to even open the box it came in…

NOOOOOOO!!

~RCS

Connecticut Christmas Fire

I’m rarely very topical (because I’m slow to post things, so I usually avoid severely topical issues), so by now you’ve probably already heard about the fire in Connecticut.  That’s a tragedy with lots of heroism from within the house.  Sometimes, though, heroism just isn’t enough.

Somebody placed fireplace embers in a trash can which caught fire and the house went up with it.  The mother escaped by leaping through a window onto scaffolding and when the fire department arrived she directed firefighters to where the sleeping children were located, on the third floor.

A man inside, a family friend, gathered up two of the children and headed downstairs to the second floor where the heat was too great to go further.  The three of them got separated and one of the children rushed back up stairs where she collapsed and perished in the fire, while the other child her elderly grandmother found her.  The grandmother and the other child also failed to make it out.  The man wasn’t able to find either child before being forced to make it out of the house, sadly alone.

The third child was found by her grandfather and they rushed to a window in the back.  The grandfather placed the child on a set of books and crawled out a window onto a back porch.  He then reached through the window to pull the girl out, but alas he was too weak at that point to save the girl.  The grandfather perished before he could get the child out and both of them perished in the window.

The fire was so great the firefighters were unable to remain in the house for long.  With all their equipment, they made it through two rooms on the third floor, and then were forced back by the flames.

Here’s CNN’s official report on it.

Certainly makes me want to put a battery in the smoke detector, I must admit.  I wonder if any lives could have been saved in that house by a fire alarm or a smoke detector, which the house lacked as it was under remodeling.

~RCS

Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas to all you practicing and non-practicing Christians.  Festive Eid* to all you practicing and non-practicing Muslims.  Happy Channukkah to all you Jews.  Giddy Holiday to any Pagans who happen to celebrate something around these times.

Christmas Eve has ended and we are now into Christmas Day…hopefully you remembered to aks Santa for what you wanted.  And hopefully you got what you wanted.

What did you ask Santa for?

And if you’re one of those really pious, fervent Christians who belive that Christmas is Jesus Day, not Santa Day.  Then I leave you with this…

Damn it Jesus, quit using Resurrect. That's a cheap move!

Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate, or pretend to celebrate as the case may be!

*Yes, I know that Eid al-Adha was in November this year, but it sthe most recent Eid, right?  Consider it a belated Eid well-wishing.

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