Monday is here again. Another week, another cycle around the wheel of pain, grinding that grain into meal before we get sent off to join the gladiators. I saw and did a few things this weekend and today I'm going to do some reflecting. There, that's enough set up.
"The VMA's Sucked (I'm officially old, I guess)"
I tried to watch the VMA's last night, started with the pre-show and tried to hang in there as long as I could. I only got to watch about an hour of it before Breaking Bad came on and I switched over to AMC, but even then it was damn near an hour too long. I liked Lady Gaga's cross-dressing performance, I thought she sounded good and it was one of the more original stage performances I've seen on the VMA's in recent memory, but the whole atmosphere of the modern VMA's is just horse shit. I don't know if it's how much popular music has regressed in this country, the fact that MTV has almost nothing to do with actual music videos anymore or the astronomical self-important douchebaggery of the average under-30 "celebrity", but I can only stand so many people who I've barely heard of, walking around looking like either extras from a bad 70's sci-fi movie or some terrible CW teen drama. And then, to listen to them talk and it's like, dude, John fucking Lennon didn't think that highly of himself, and he was a fucking BEATLE. Plus, there are just a lot of really bad, barely talented people in music today and it's kind of personally insulting to me, as an actual musician, to see people who are just awful performers but hey, they look good, let's give them a record deal and a bunch of money! Like I said, maybe I'm getting old, but remember the VMA's during the early 90's, when bands like Nirvana, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beastie Boys, Pearl Jam, Green Day and Snoop Dogg performed? I remember when Snoop performed and I was rapping every line right along with him. I watched Jay-Z and Kanye West perform last night and it sounded like Rick Ross's manager arguing with Kreayshawn's manager over a beat at a party. I don't know man, when I hear people saying that Lil' Wayne is "The greatest rapper alive" and they're treating Britney Spears like she's a grand dame and then the Foo Fighters win like best rock album or something and it's like they got a lifetime achievement award, like everyone is all "Aww, they let the old guys win one! Good for them!" I thought that the girl showing them off the stage afterwards was trying to point them towards VH1, like "Did you gentlemen get lost?" Whatever, maybe I am officially old and out of touch with what the kids are into these days, but as my daddy used to say to me "Who cares, it all sounds like shit anyway, I'm glad I'm too old to enjoy it!"
"Speaking of Breaking Bad, it was awesome as usual"
This season is going to go by so fast. I really, really love this show. Last night's episode had me thinking and trying to figure out where the plot was going for hours after it was over. I know Walt is smarter than he lets on when he appears constantly on the brink of a breakdown and seems to barely have any control over his life, but I was starting to think that maybe he was getting himself sunk deeper and deeper into a hole he couldn't climb out of, and then last night's episode changed my mind about that. Some of the decisions he made in earlier episodes, that I thought were crazy and borderline self-destructive, are starting to appear to be brilliant tactical moves. Just when I think he's unaware of the plotting and scheming going on around him, it seems like he not only expected it, but he's actually counting on it to make everyone play right into his hands. I'm really curious to see how things are going to play out over the rest of the season, because last night's episode officially introduced some new trouble with the cartels, which could be a good thing for Walt if he plays his cards right, as well as putting Hank and the DEA right on Gus, which could also benefit Walt if he's smart about it. The sheer emotional chaos that's going on with all the central characters is so unsettling sometimes, it's almost an ordeal to get through each episode because you almost feel like you're on the brink of collapse by the time it's done, but when I can kind of see a method to the madness, it turns that anxious feeling into excitement and anticipation, and that started happening last night. This is definitely shaping up to be the best season so far, which is only a good thing for the best show on tv.
"Anderson Silva is the man!"
We watched the Silva vs. Okami fight at our good friends Shawn and Kristin's house on Saturday and it was an incredible fight! Most of the under card matches were good too, but the Silva fight was just amazing. On the surface, it was yet another 2nd round domination by "The Spider", but what struck me about this fight, more than any other UFC fight I remember seeing in recent memory, is that I could actually see Silva breaking Okami down mentally as the fight went on. Okami started off strong and aggressive, like most of Silva's opponents do, but then early in the second round Silva started turning it up and suddenly Okami couldn't land a hit. Not only that, but Silva landed a couple good pops on Okami that got him thinking, and then it happened... Silva started bobbing and weaving around like crazy, dodged a couple jabs like he was Neo in the Matrix and just dropped his arms to his side, waiting for Okami to take a swing that he could immediately counter with a knockout punch. I've never seen a guy with so much intuition about his opponents moves. Before Okami even threw a punch, Silva was already starting to dodge it. He saw what Okami was going to do before Okami even did. When he dropped his arms in the 2nd round, Okami just stood there, anxious, with his gloves up, like he wanted to punch Silva, but he knew that Silva wanted him to punch him and it had to be a trap but he couldn't figure out what to do about it. I saw hesitation, frustration and fear come across Okami at that moment. Like, I visibly saw his entire body language change from a guy full of fire and energy, ready to go toe-to-toe with Silva, to a guy who just realized he had bitten off way more than he could chew. Silva saw it too, and once Okami's energy changed in the ring, Silva attacked him and 10 seconds later the fight was over. It was amazing, the most impressive mental defeat of an opponent I've ever witnessed in a UFC fight. I've seen Silva fight his way out of some incredible situations and take down some of the most formidable opponents in his division with ease, but to see a guy just completely break from the intimidation and an inability to see a real strategy to victory against him... that was truly impressive.
"Speaking of the O'Briens..."
They're awesome people, good, good friends. Kristin made an amazing dinner, which completely blew my diet, even though I swore I would show restraint. Apparently, restraint is the first thing to go when I decide to knock back the raspberry vodka screwdrivers... We always have so much fun when we hang out with them, it's definitely an activity that should be done more often. I think we're going to try and talk them into road-tripping to the coast with us before the summer's done, maybe Monterey or San Francisco. I even like their kids, not that I don't like kids as a rule, but I'm usually sort of anxious and nervous around kids. I tend to "work blue" when I talk casually with my friends and I'm always conscious of the errant F-bomb that gets dropped when I'm making conversation, especially if I've had an adult beverage. As a result, I'm usually extra self-conscious when I'm around my friends who have kids, I don't want to be mommy and daddy's inappropriate friend. However, the O'Briens have good kids, cool kids, and I just pretend I'm at my grandma's and try to catch all the F-bombs before they spill out of my cake hole and that seems to work most of the time. But yeah, I love the O'Briens, they're two of my bestest friends and just really wonderful people.
"I can't believe I actually like exercising..."
Today begins the fourth week of my new change in lifestyle. Specifically, changing my diet drastically. It's also the beginning of my 3rd week of getting regular exercise every day. I have completely eliminated sugary drinks, sugary, salty and fatty snacks and junk food out from my diet, switched to a high-nutrition, low-calorie meal plan and have begun a daily exercise regimen, which currently consists of walking at a good and steady pace for as long as I can until my legs feel like they're on fire and I can barely keep going, then walking back home. I've lost just over 20lbs so far and I'm feeling better than ever, which led me to a realization this weekend that I thought I would never make. As I mentioned, we went to the O'Brien's house to watch the UFC fight on Saturday, and that meant I wasn't able to get in my evening walk. I didn't do it during the day because it's in the low triple-digits here on average right now and I would rather stick my head in an oven than go walking at mid-afternoon in the central valley in August. Well, I actually found myself missing not going for my walk. I pushed myself extra hard on Sunday to make up for it, which was also an incredibly foreign experience. I felt very much like I was watching someone else take the wheel of my body and start trying to get it out of the mud hole I've gradually mired it into over the last 15 years or so. Two things I never in my life thought that I would do - embrace a completely healthy diet, eliminating all my favorite unhealthy drinking and snacking vices entirely and not only getting regular exercise but actually enjoying it - I have started doing this month. It feels good though, it really does. I have more energy than I have in years, I feel healthier and better about myself and I've only just started. Still though, it's such an alien feeling to regret not going out and working up a sweat instead of relaxing on the couch with a cold drink watching tv.
"Hurricane Irene's biggest destructive impact has been on our political dialog."
I'm going to spend a lot of time ripping the hell out of the conservatives and the extremists in the religious right who have been politicizing hurricane Irene, probably in my post tomorrow, but one of my reflections on the weekend coverage of Irene's path along the east coast was the ridiculous statements made by presidential candidates, conservative politicians and the usual suspects in the religious right, like Pat Robertson. Michele Bachmann said that the earthquake last week and the hurricane this weekend were "signs from God" that politics in Washington needs to change. Really? Is that why the DC area had a rare earthquake and a hurricane shortly afterwards? Why did those things mostly affect states that historically vote Republican then? Or is that the message God is sending? Get those assholes out of there before they finish the job Bush started in 2000? Of course, Bachmann thinks she can hand us gas for under $2 a gallon if she's elected and she believes eliminating the minimum wage and paying US workers sweatshop wages will bring business back to America - never mind how people who make less than $20 a day are supposed to live when prices don't come down to reflect the change in wages, I mean, it's not like Bachmann is an economist or a business scholar or remotely intelligent, obviously. I shouldn't be surprised that she thinks that God is so worried about American politics that he sent two natural disasters of mediocre proportions to afflict the beltway just to prove some partisan point. Likewise, Robertson once again blamed natural disasters on gays and sinners. At least with Robertson, you know he's a crack pot and completely off the reservation with his extremist religious ideology. With Bachmann, however, this nut is actually running for president, and beating actual rational thinkers like Ron Paul and John Huntsman. Seriously, how crazy are you conservatives, anyway, that you support these kinds of people and believe in what they have to say?
I have a lot to talk about this week, mostly political of course, but I'll get to it in due time. This has been a rather eventful weekend, lots going on in the news, lots going on personally, just sort of one of those weekends that feels somewhat transitional, like it's a milestone passed or a door opened and I have a feeling a lot of stuff is going to be happening over the next couple weeks as a result of events set in motion over the last few days. Things that might have an impact months down the road. I don't know, I just have that feeling, you know? Anyway, as always, I'll be right here to weigh in on everything that I deem worth my time to comment on, not that I'm so damn special, just sayin'. Oh, and Hell's Kitchen is on tonight, kind of pumped about that. Take it easy, fuckers.