Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is the best holiday.  These are the best things about Halloween!

Best Candy: Full-Sized chocolate bars (any brand).

Full-Sized candy bars are the greatest thing you can find in your bag after trick-or-treating.  Miniature candy bars are awesome, but ultimately they just make you realize how much happier you would be if you had more than just one bite of a Snickers or more than one Reese's peanut butter cup.  Getting a standard-issue bar is a major score - especially if you have parents like I did who put you on a "You can choose X number of pieces per day to eat and that's it!" ration, because a whole candy bar only counted as one piece!

Honorable Mention:

Sweet Tarts
Sugar Babies
Pop Rocks
Gum that lasts more than 10 chews

Best Costume:  Zombie!

Of course I'm biased, I love zombies!  However, flesh-eating undead usually make the best costumes.  I like costumes that are creative and inspired by pop culture, but I have a strong loyalist soft spot for traditional Halloween costumes and what's great about zombies is that they currently fill both those roles.  This has created an interesting phenomenon this year, since most girls wear "sexy" costumes inspired by whatever's popular, of seeing hot girls trying to dress up as "slutty zombie".  Hey, get enough orange beer in me and I don't care if you're slutty Karl Rove...

Honorable Mention:

Vampire (non-sparkly kind only)
Demon or Devil
Sarah Jessica Parker

Best Scary Movie:  Halloween!

Of course this is the best scary movie to watch on Halloween, duh!  While this may not be my personal choice for best scary movie of all time, it's definitely the one most pertinent to watching with the lights out on Halloween night when all the trick-or-treaters have gone home and it's just you, your over-active imagination and a sugar-induced fit of hyperactivity that easily mutates into sheer paranoid terror at every creak and bump you hear by the time Michael Meyers starts hacking everyone to bits.

Honorable Mention:

The Exorcist
Dawn of the Dead
Night of the Living Dead
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Howling

Best Spooky Familiar:  Black Cat!

Of all the creepy, possibly demonic companion pets that a witch, vampire or some other spooky Halloween character keeps by their side, the black cat is still the king of the hill.  Proof is in the fact that most of you probably get weirded out right now if one runs across your path, even if you're not overly superstitious.  Besides, cats are famous for that cold, emotionless stare (as seen in the picture above) and when all you can really make out in the dark is a pair of unblinking, spooky-green eyes... yeah, that's good for a double-take and a good tingle up the spine.

Honorable Mention:

Raven or Crow

Best Halloween Monster:  Werewolf!

You probably thought I was going to say zombie, but while that might be the best Halloween costume, I think werewolves are the best Halloween monsters.  See, Halloween is a holiday where you spend the prime celebrating time walking around in the dark, going up to potentially strange houses and asking for candy.  Often, those walks require you to go outside of the protection of street light illumination and it's in those shadows that the eyes of the werewolf lurk, watching you, waiting for an opportunity to strike!  Werewolves are the scariest Halloween monster, in my opinion, because they look like normal people during the day, but they become an unstoppable killing machine when the moon comes out.  If Halloween fell on the same night as a full moon, forget it, I would sprint from streetlight to streetlight as a kid and I just knew the minute I had to go more than 10 feet between light sources, that's when the werewolf was gonna get me and rip me to pieces.

Honorable Mention:

Vampires (non-sparkly only)
Psycho Killers

Best Slutty Costume:  Sexy Chainsaw Killer!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love sluts.  I had the pleasure of attending a costume party at a bar near my hometown with a bunch of friends  this weekend and I was amazed and perpetually semi-aroused by all the different variations of "slutty ____" costumes on all the attention whores there.  However, "cat" and "nurse" and "French maid" get old after a while, especially when there are at least 3 of all of those at any given party.  Therefore, I like to see girls mix it up with their sluttiness!  Why not be a sexy chainsaw killer?  I mean, if you're gonna get hacked into pieces and cannibalized, wouldn't you rather it be by a chick with great cans and breath that smells like a mix between appletinis and vomit?

Honorable Mention:

Sexy Angel/Devil
Sexy Pirate
Sexy Fairy
Sexy Doctor
Sexy Girl who Has Sex with Me

Best Place to Party on Halloween:  Haunted House!

Hells yeah!  When you want to have a rockin' Halloween party that turns into a blood and guts gore-fest of human butchery by the end of the night, nothing beats a good old haunted house!  There are plenty of rooms for couples to sneak off too and get slaughtered and then stuffed in a closet or something while everyone else parties downstairs and you don't find them until you're looking for a place to hide from whatever is killing everyone later on after half the party has already been hacked to bits on the dance floor.  Added awesome points if someone, somewhere in the house, at some point, breaks out a Ouija board.

Honorable Mention:

Abandoned Hospitals/Asylums
The Middle of Nowhere
Occupy Oakland

Best Halloween Drink:  The Brain Hemorrhage!

 This drink rules because it's so gross looking and when it's made right (like the one pictured) it's really quite a disturbing sight to behold.  However, it's pretty damn tasty going down and a few of these bad boys will get you ready to party in no time!  It's pretty easy to make, although perfecting the "brain hemorrhage" look takes some practice.  Basically, you fill your shot glass mostly full with peach Schnapps, then gently pour a little Bailey's Irish Cream over the rounded bottom of a spoon, so that it drizzles on top of the Schnapps.  This has the effect not only of making sure the Bailey's doesn't sink too far into the Schnapps and mix with it, ruining the effect, but it also creates a cool ripple in the Bailey's that kind of resembles brain folds if you do it right.  Lastly, pour just a few drops of grenadine into the center to create the "hemorrhage" that looks like a blood clot that eventually breaks through the "brain" on top and settles in the bottom of the shot, as you can see from the pic.  They taste pretty darn good, get you buzzed and look ooky, what's not to love?

Honorable Mention:

The Zombie
The Headless Horseman
Candy Corn
Pumpkin Beer

Best Halloween Blog Post Ever:  This One!

Ok, that might be a lie.  Whatever, I'm going to go load the dvd changer up with my collection of epic horror movies and start the "shit your pants in terror" marathon right now!  By the time some poor little bastard ignores the universal "go away, no candy here!" indicator of my porch light being off, I'm going to be so jacked on Halloween scariness that I'm going to chase the little shit down the street with a butcher knife and I don't care if his mama's with him!  Of course, if she's dressed like a slutty MILF or something, she better hope she's got her track shoes on...

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's some kind of Great, Pumkin-like object, Charlie Brown!

I love Halloween, absolutely love it.  It's my favorite holiday.  I love everything about it, from the costumes to the scary themes to my annual tradition of watching as many scary movies as I can during the entire month of October.  I'm just a fan of Halloween, through and through.  It's even the one time of year that candy corn doesn't completely disgust me (but only for a minute).  Halloween is just a perfect holiday.  I mean, think about it, it's got everything - costumes, parties, stuff for kids and grown-ups to do, things you give away (candy, mostly, sometimes STD's) and it's own official object to decorate and show off your Halloween spirit.  Christmas has the Christmas tree, Festivus has the unadorned metal pole, the Fourth of July has shit you set on fire and Halloween has the Jack-O-Lantern!  It is on that note that I present to you a brief collection of some of my favorite Jack-O-Lanterns and related pumpkin-based creations in tribute to the best holiday ever!

Killer Pumpkin Man

This is one of the first funny pumpkin creations I remember seeing, so I have no idea how old it actually is, but this image has been around for a while and reposted about a billion times over the years.  It's creative, funny and just disturbing enough to let a smart kid know that this dude probably has the best candy.  We're talking chewy sweet tarts, mini snickers bars, maybe even some Reese's peanut butter cups.  All you gotta do is muster up the guts to walk past this crazy ass killer gourd and ring that doorbell!

Drunkin Punkins

This is also an oldie but a goodie that I remember seeing way back when.  Unlike crazy killer pumpkin man, the guy who made this display probably doesn't have a great selection of candy.  It might not be as lame as the people with the orange and black wrapped taffy that tastes like a combination of stale peanut butter and ass cheese, but he definitely cheaped out and got some ghetto ass candy so he could spend more money on the booze he's got in there for the party he's throwing later after all the trick-or-treaters stop knocking.  So, you might get some of that crappy gum that keeps it's flavor for about 10 chews if you're a kid, but if you're a grown-up, dude probably has some Patron Silver ready to hammer back!


"Witness the power of a fully armed and operational carved pumpkin!"  This one hits all the nerd receptors in my brain.  I just love it.  This guy probably has either some really obscure, Japanese candy that he ordered online or he's got Mars bars or something to be ironic.  Either way, you're probably going to get hooked up because if he put this much effort into just carving the pumpkin, there's definitely going to be some dry ice or something involved when you actually get to the front door.  Oh, and I'm guessing he answers dressed as a Jedi.

Now this is a life worth saving!

This would be the best Jack-O-Lantern ever if it was displayed at either a Planned Parenthood clinic or next door to some hyper-religious pro-lifers.  Either way, this house probably has Red Hots or some other, possibly devil-themed cinnamon candy.

"So I'm sitting in my room and my parents walk in and they're like 'Mike, we want to talk to you' and I'm like 'ok'..."

This one is awesome and disturbing, but mostly awesome.  Clearly, this pumpkin has given up, the question is, why?  What caused this guy to get so despondent that he blew his... pumpkin guts?... out?  Is it because the guy who carved him is planning to give out healthy treats, like snack packs of baby carrots, to the kids?  Or, is it because he got a look at the Jack-O-Lantern next door...


One of the most disturbing and brilliant Jack-O-Lanterns I've ever seen.  For those who aren't familiar with the image that this carving pays homage to, google "goatse" images with the filter off.  Yeah, I should probably warn you first, but I like to let people dive in to shit like that without any idea what temperature the water is.  This is a fantastic carving, but at the same time you know that if this dude has any candy at all, it's probably soaked in rohypnol.  It also caused me to be aware that there is a borderline creepy fascination with integrating porn and pumpkins...

"Pump" kin

What are the odds that this dude is going to answer the door without his dick out?  This is actually a pretty great early warning system for parents.  If you see any variation of the "people fuckin"-o-lantern on someone's porch, you already know to just keep walking the kids on down to the next house.  The fact that the carving is so detailed on this just further lets me know that somewhere inside the house is another pumpkin carved with an anatomically correct vagina and anus opening.  Speaking of which...

I'm just doing this to pay my way through pumpkin college...

Extra creativity points for using the pumpkin's own natural butthole instead of carving a new one.


So many similarities between Palin and Pumpkin.  Both are thick, usually seen with a fake smile that looks carved on, they're popular for a few weeks every year, get old and repulsive really quickly the more they're left out and it would be so much fun to just smash them against a curb or throw em down the street for shits and giggles.  This is easily the most terrifying Jack-O-Lantern you could see on someone's front porch.  Also, for kids, you know this house isn't giving you any candy, because hand-outs are for socialists!

Finally, a real "Jack"-O-Lantern!

"Heeeere's Johnny!"  All beer and no tv makes Homer something something...

Happy Halloween, ya bastards!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This is still America, right?

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Tiananmen Square, China

Oakland, CA



U.S. soldier in Iraq

U.S. soldier in America

Is this an appropriate response to a few individuals throwing bottles and cursing at officers?

Just because we're owned by China doesn't mean we have to act like them...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ok, Mark, I'm taking your suggestion.

Thank you, Mark Borba, for providing me with a blog topic for today!

For everyone who isn't on my facebook friends list and didn't read the back and forth exchange between Mr. Borba and I, this is a video clip he recommended to me for my consideration and a possible inspiration for a blog topic today.  I found this clip to be very interesting and I think I can make some relevant points on it, so I'm taking his suggestion and running with it.  First, a little set up...

This is a clip of an interview that economist Milton Friedman gave to Phil Donahue in 1980.  It is relevant because the points that Mr. Friedman makes are germane to the current views on the market - namely the system of capitalism and the free market and the constant desire by those who are disenfranchised with the flaws in that system to find the "perfect" socio-economic political structure by which to live.  There are points made that I agree with and those that I don't, so first, here's the clip in question:


Here was my response to that clip in the context of our discussion:

It was an interesting clip and I actually agreed with the economist. I will say this, however - 31 years ago, our "big business" system was a lot more diverse and its power far more limited by regulations than it is today. There were dozens of competing businesses in the major industries instead of just a hand full. Milton speaks of the free market and I think he makes a very good point about the ability of a free market to do what a totalitarian regime or a communist dictatorship can't, but then again that seems like pretty basic, common-sense stuff too. Of course a free society with a free market economy will prosper and provide opportunity for the common man that is unavailable in an oppressive regime. Ultimately though, the economic and political climate was a lot friendlier towards ambitious upstart companies competing with the "big dogs" back then. When you have dozens of modest corporations to compete with, rather than 6 or so mega-corps with the power to single-handedly create unsurmountable barriers to entry, competition is a lot easier. In today's current corporate and political structure, I wonder how easy it would be for a company like Microsoft or Apple to start in someone's garage and take on a big corporation like IBM. In fact, I wonder how easy it would be for the NEXT Apple or Microsoft to take on those two companies in our current collusion-rich, unrestricted market system?

So, I think it's important to keep that in mind while listening to Mr. Friedman's soliloquy - the business world, economy and market structure today is very different than it was 31 years ago. That doesn't mean the free market is a failed concept or that capitalism is a flawed principle on it's face, it just means that there needs to be a temperance of fairness and regulation in the market to protect the ability of the entrepreneur, the "little guy" to create a superior product or provide a better service and compete on a level playing field with the "big dogs". That existed in abundance in the 80's, but much less so today.

Where I sort of disagree with Mr. Friedman though is where he sort of merges "greed" with "ambition". There's a difference between the desire of some people to always come in first in every race, to always be the best at whatever they attempt to accomplish and the baser emotion of pure greed. Competitiveness and ambition are positive motivating factors that lead people to compete fairly and follow the "may the best man win" philosophy - nothing wrong with that. Greed, however, follows the philosophy of "win at all costs" and that, obviously, creates a great deal of problems for basically everyone else who isn't you. I think extolling the virtues of competitiveness and ambition and the desire to succeed is a great thing, but let's not equate those positive mindsets with the destructive, narcissistic emotion of simple greed, all that does is justify injustice and excuse inexcusable behavior.

To expand on that, let me first say that I've always been a supporter of a fair market system.  I stress the term "fair" because I think there is a distinct difference between a "free" market and a "fair" one.  A free market is like a frontier border town in the old west - there's an illusion of order but it's generally a pretty lawless place and whatever tenuous hold the local sheriff had on the populace could easily be upset by the influence of the greedy and the powerful.  It's like every old western movie plot, the lawless town with the corrupt sheriff and along comes the hero in the white hat to restore order and right the wrongs.  That lawless frontier town is an unrestricted free market.

A "fair" market, on the other hand, is that same border town after the hero in the white hat kills the bad guy in the black hat in a showdown at high noon, runs the corrupt old sheriff out of town, pins that tin star on his chest and wins back the trust and respect of the townspeople.  A fair market has regulations that protect the people, allows for competition on a level playing field and insures that the "may the best man win" philosophy is adhered to over the "win at all costs" mentality.

Both of those things rely on a capitalist framework to function, however.

I've never been opposed to capitalism, only to the corruption of an unrestricted and unregulated capitalist system gone wild.  I agree with Mr. Friedman that a capitalist system is the one most likely to provide opportunity to the common man and the one most likely to create wealth and prosperity in a society.  That being said, it is only through the strict enforcement of fair market protections that those wheels can keep turning smoothly.  Anyone can be successful in a capitalist society, as long as they're given a fair chance to compete.

This is a crucial point that I think gets overlooked or even intentionally ignored by those who favor across the board deregulation and the removal of any and all restrictions on the "free" market.  I think the reasoning for that attitude is reflected by Mr. Friedman's comments regarding greed as the motivating factor in all people.

Yes, I agree that greed is present in all of us.  It's a basic, albeit flawed, human emotion that drives all of us more often than any of us would probably care to admit.  However, greed is not a virtue.  Greed doesn't produce a better society, it destroys it.  The equation of competitiveness and ambition with greed makes it easy to dismiss the latter by lumping it in with the former.  Greed is the "win at all costs" mentality of the corrupt frontier town, ambition is the "may the best man win" mentality that exists when the hero in the white hat restores peace and order to the people.  Ambition drives you to work hard, stay focused, dedicate yourself entirely to achieving your goals and so on.  Greed drives you to do whatever it takes to make sure no one else ever achieves more than you.  They are not the same category of emotion or ideology and, as I said in my quoted section, putting them in the same basket allows one to excuse inexcusable behavior.

The issue that a lot of people have with the current status quo regarding our economy and, specifically, our markets is that "greed" has become synonymous with "ambition" and "competitiveness" and that is a bad thing for the majority of the country.  The push back against movements like the OWS protest and the 99%'ers is from people on the other side who believe that greed and ambition are the same thing and that when you attack one you're attacking the other.  It's for this reason that those who protest against the greed on Wall Street and in politics are accused of wanting to stifle competitiveness and punish ambition.  This is an inaccurate and unfair indictment because nobody is opposed to being competitive, nobody wants to punish someone for working hard and achieving success fairly by playing by the rules.  The issue that people have isn't with those who have wealth, it's with those who can never have enough wealth.  It isn't with people who want to succeed, it's with people who want to see everyone else fail for their own personal benefit.

Nobody begrudges the entrepreneur who starts a business at home and turns it into a thriving company.  They begrudge the huge mega-corporation that tries to buy out that small businessman before he becomes a threat to their profit margin and, if he refuses their offer, they do everything in their power to destroy his business and run him into the ground, lest he actually provide customers with a better alternative to their product or service.  Like the crooked cattle rancher in that old west movie who takes over the neighboring lands from his competitors and uses the corrupt sheriff to help him do it, that is the greed of the big corporations who use unscrupulous and unethical tactics to eliminate fair competition in order to preserve their neo-monopoly on their respective industry.  This is where a clear distinction is drawn between greed and ambition, between selfishness and competitiveness.

It still may fall on deaf ears because I know that the majority of people who have grown accustomed to defending greed as a virtue can't see a difference between being greedy and being competitive, they can't see that there is a strong moral distinction between ambition and selfishness.  They think that "win at all costs" is a fair set of rules to play by, so the very aspects of that mentality that are so flawed in my mind are positives in theirs.  However, I am confident that the majority of people in this country can see the clear difference between being ambitious and being greedy.  I think that most people understand that playing by the rules and winning is preferable in a civilized society than winning at all costs and abusing the system to preserve your standing at the top of the food chain.  That fact is becoming more and more apparent every day.

So, thank you, Mark, for giving me a great little video clip to talk about today and providing a source for some perspective on fair market vs. free market capitalism.  It has given me an opportunity to hopefully clarify my own views on the subject and I appreciate not having to think up something compelling all by myself!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

5 Movies I Can't Wait to See

Last weekend, I went to see Paranormal Activity 3.  Yes, it was a good movie and yes, all the articles and reviews about it that bitch about the movie having almost none of the scenes from the trailers in it are accurate, but it was still just as entertaining and creepy as the last 2 and, to an extent, even a little bit scarier.  However, as I was watching the trailers, I realized there are some movies coming up that I'm very excited about seeing.

1.  The Devil Inside

This was one of the trailers that came on before PA3 and there are parts of it that were as scary, if not scarier, than PA3 was.  I love possession/exorcism movies, when they're well made.  This looks like it could be one of the well-made ones.  Of course, I've fallen for that trick before, but I'm still going to give this one a shot because... I mean DAMN that trailer is creepy!

2.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I watched the original Swedish versions of the "Millennium" series which were released in 2009 and 2010 and they were excellent.  In my opinion, they were done well enough that they didn't really need an American remaking, but I get that a lot of American moviegoers will never see the original Swedish versions because they don't like subtitles.  However, what really got me excited about seeing this particular remake is that David Fincher is directing and I'm a big fan of his.  I suppose the remake of "Let the Right One In", simply titled "Let Me In" wasn't bad, so I'm inclined to give this one a day in court as well.  Certainly it's going to be a much better remake than the new "Footloose"...

3.  Avengers

I'm excited about this movie for a number of reasons.  One, it doesn't have Ryan Reynolds in it.  Two, it has Iron Man and Scarlett Johansen in it.  Three, I liked Thor as well and, while I haven't seen Captain America yet, I have heard that it's also good, so I'm pumped about seeing this one.  On the negative side, I wish Edward Norton would have reprised his role as the Hulk instead of yet another new dude, but apparently that role was never meant to be played by the same actor in two different films.  At any rate, this movie promises to deliver, so I'm excited to see it.

4.  A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

I loved the first two movies, although I was pretty surprised that two ancillary characters from American Pie would end up having a film franchise that would stay funnier longer than the huge movie they spun off of, but if this third installment is anywhere near as good as the last two, then they will have lasted exactly one movie longer than American Pie did before it jumped the shark.  This movie looks like it's going to deliver the same crude, stoned and titty-filled humor that made the last two movies so great, plus NPH!  Neil Patrick Harris becoming this outrageous, over the top misogynist maniac was the greatest random cameo turned recurring character in the history of modern film.  The only thing better than that would be Zombieland 2 where Bill Murray comes back as an actual zombie.

5.  Chronicle

This looks like it could be a surprise hit or a big dud, but I'm leaning towards the former.  From the trailer, it's the story of 3 high school kids who happen upon an extraterrestrial object and soon begin to display extraordinary powers.  One of the 3 boys starts becoming increasingly sinister in his use of his abilities, leading to a massive confrontation with not only his two other gifted friends, but the military as well.  Cool special effects, an interesting premise and an engaging trailer all has me wanting to see this when it comes out, I just hope that's not all there is to this movie, because it definitely looks promising.

Monday, October 24, 2011

We're ALL job creators...

Did you buy groceries this week?  Go out to eat somewhere?  Did you buy new clothes?  Maybe even a new car or truck?  Did you take a vacation, maybe a trip to the beach or the mountains or somewhere else?  Did you fill up your car or truck with gas?  Did you pay your utility bills?  Rent?  House payment?  Did you pay taxes?

If the answer to any of those questions is "yes", then congratulations!  You're a JOB CREATOR!

Yesterday, my wife and I went to the Big 5 sporting goods store in the mall.  I bought a pair of running shoes and she got some wrist and ankle weights.  Total price: $30.  There were 3 employees in the store.  That means, roughly, we paid for one hour's wages for those 3 employees.  WE SAVED 3 JOBS!

Last week, we went to the grocery store and spent about $100 on groceries.  There were about 10 employees in the store.  That means we paid the hourly wages of all those employees, give or take.  WE SAVED 10 MORE JOBS!

We pay income tax on all the money we make, that tax revenue is used to help pay the salaries of hundreds of thousands of government employees at the state and local level.  MORE JOBS CREATED OR SAVED!

With all this talk about looking out for the "job creators", let's not forget who really creates jobs in this country - the middle-class.

You ever buy a pair of Levi's?  Did you know that denim jeans were originally created as work pants for men who had rough jobs that cotton slacks just couldn't hold up to?  Levi Strauss & Co. rose to prominence during the gold rush in the 1800's, because their jeans were exceptionally durable and comfortable and held up to all kinds of abuse.  That entire company only exists because of the working class.  If the only people who bought clothes were the wealthy elite, blue jeans would never have been invented.

Here's another industry that exists solely because of the working class - work boots.  The next Wall Street banker you see with a pair of Timberlands on will be the first.  Those companies only exist because of working-class men and women who buy their products.  Those jobs are literally due entirely to the support of middle-class Americans.

You know why every fast food restaurant has a 99-cents menu?  Here's a hint:  It's not because they want to cater to millionaires.  McDonald's isn't the huge corporation it is today because of rich people, it's because millions of average Americans eat there every day.  When was the last time you saw a fast food menu with a "Job Creators only" section?  You know "All items in this section are $1,000 and up"?  There's a reason why that doesn't exist - because businesses don't depend on rich people to stay afloat, they depend on the vast consumer base that is the working class.  The 99-cent menu exists so that, no matter how little you have, you can still afford to spend your money at that restaurant.

Every time you spend money in the retail sector, every time you pay your bills, every time you pay your taxes, you're helping to create jobs.  You're helping to save jobs.  You're a job creator!  How does it feel?  Empowering?  It should, you're officially the most important people in the country according to the Republican party.

While they're busy running around talking about "protecting the job creators", maybe they need a reminder of who those "job creators" really are?

You know what McDonald's would be without millions of middle-class Americans buying their products every day?  Bankrupt.

You know what your local grocery store or big-box retailer would be without your business?  Broke.

You know where your city, county, state and federal governments would be without your tax dollars?  Busted.

You know where all those "job creator" defending politicians would be without your votes?  Looking for someone to create a job for them...

While we're talking about protecting those poor, delicate and endangered "job creators" from the cruel oppression of a slightly higher tax rate, let's not forget that without our money, those "job creators" would have no businesses to create jobs for.  Herman Cain can talk down to the OWS protesters all day long, but he'd damn sure let Godfather's deliver some pizza to them, wouldn't he?

That's the hypocrisy of the right when it comes to protecting the wealthy elite at the expense of the rest of the country.  You can give big businesses all the tax breaks you want, but without customers there's no money to even worry about taxing.  The Republicans are so busy making sure nobody touches the wealth of the wealthy that they don't even care that these people wouldn't be wealthy in the first place if the working class didn't buy their products and services.  The less money there is among the working class, the less money there is to spend and send up to the "job creators".  Now, that might not matter when they already have all the money in the first place, but they don't have it all just yet, they still need a lot more of our money before they control every penny in the economy.  People can't spend what they don't have.  Eventually, there won't be enough wealth at the bottom to support the wealthy at the top and that's when the whole house of cards will collapse.  We've seen it in other banana republics like Colombia and Argentina, a caste system is doomed to fail.  Without a robust middle-class to drive the economy, it becomes a collection of a few wealthy elites pushing their money around and building bigger and stronger walls to keep the oppressed and impoverished working class from storming their castles and taking what they want.  If that's the Republican's vision for America, then so be it.

In the meantime, though, I'm going to pat myself on the back for helping create so many jobs this weekend.  I'll be waiting for my promised tax relief now...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Best news of the week.

“As promised the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over”

"Today I can say that troops in Iraq will be home for the holidays."

Policy in Afghanistan - Bin Laden dead, Al Qaeda routed.

Policy in Libya - No U.S. casualties, low operational cost, Gadhafi killed.

Policy in Iraq - A decade of war finally ending, soldiers home for Christmas.

It's been a good week for the president, the culmination of a successful foreign policy that has seen the destruction of our greatest terrorist adversary, the death of a maniacal and anti-American dictator, the liberation of a nation and the end of the longest and financially costliest war in our nation's history.  I can't top that, so I'm just going to say that I can't wait to see my friends in the military come home for good to be with their families and loved ones.  I can't wait for the focus to shift from building other nations to rebuilding our own.  It's a great way to end a historical week.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Haters gonna hate...

Total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, fiscal years 2001-2008:  $949.8 billion
Total U.S. and coalition military casualties in those wars, 2001-2008:  4217

Total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, fiscal years 2009-2011:  $496.8 billion
Total U.S. and coalition military casualties in those wars, 2008-2011:  579

What does this mean?  For the same approximate annual cost as the war in Iraq and minimal troop presence in Afghanistan from 2001-2008, the Obama administration has conducted full-scale military operations on both Iraq and Afghanistan with only 1/8th of the casualties to American and coalition military men and women.

Osama Bin Laden:  Dead
Moammar Gadhafi:  Dead

What did the Republicans have to say about Obama's foreign policy, his ability to be commander-in-chief and his probability for success in these military efforts?

"I would not have intervened [in Libya]"

"Obama put us in Libya, now he's putting us in Africa" - Bachmann apparently knows her way around an atlas as well as she knows her way around the constitution...

"Dithering" = Killing Bin Laden and all his successors as soon as they pop up.

Surprise, Romney is wrong again.

Cain giving credit to Bush for Gadhafi, even while admitting Obama's leadership provided the most U.S. support.  Funny, they still credit Bush for all of the good things that have happened in the last 3 years, but that stock market crash?  Those bailouts?  All the financial corruption and job loss that nearly bankrupted our country and put 14 million out of work?  Nope, not Bush's fault, that was 2008, this is 2011!

Honestly, it doesn't surprise me that the Republicans didn't give Obama credit for giving the order to take out Bin Laden.  Nor does it surprise me that they're somehow trying to tie the death of Gadhafi to Bush when Bush wasn't even trying to get Gadhafi.  Dude had a fucking high school crush on Condoleeza Rice for crying out loud.  It doesn't surprise me that the Republicans want to give Bush credit for all of Obama's foreign policy successes, even though they were shitting all over those policy decisions when Obama made them just a few short months ago.  It doesn't surprise me that Republicans want to rewrite history and lay the entire stock market collapse at Obama's feet when it happened a year before he took office.  That they want to completely absolve Bush and the Republican party from any culpability in the market collapse, the first bank bailout and the $10+ trillion in debt that they handed over to Obama on inauguration day.  None of this surprises me because this is how the Republicans roll now.  Everything good that happens during Obama's term is really all because of stuff Bush did, even if he didn't do a damn thing on the subject.  Meanwhile, everything bad that happens during Obama's term - including the catastrophic economic mess he was handed directly by the outgoing administration has nothing at all to do with Bush.

Bin Laden dies on Obama's watch - Nope, it was all due to Bush policies that just took 9 years to kick in, that's all.

Gadhafi dies on Obama's watch, thanks to Obama pledging support - despite strong and vocal objection from every GOP candidate and many prominent Republicans - Nope, it was all due to Bush, even though they really hated the idea at first, since it worked it was actually all Bush's doing, never mind that there was no policy on ousting Gadhafi then, it's still all because of Bush.

During the campaign, the Republicans warned us that America would be "less safe" under Obama.  They told us Obama would be a "weak" leader.  Mitt Romney just this week called Obama's foreign policy "timid".  Every GOP candidate and many Republicans in congress criticized Obama's decision to offer support to the Libyan rebels.  From day one the Republicans have told us over and over that Obama was not prepared to be commander-in-chief, that his policies would fail, that we would be less safe and less protected under his watch, that the terrorists would be emboldened and gain strength due to his weakness.

Bin Laden:  Dead
Gadhafi:  Dead
Anyone who has tried to succeed Bin Laden in Al Qaeda since his death:  Dead

The scoreboard don't lie, bitches.

Haters gonna hate.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The most important place we can occupy is the voting booth.

Recently, congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass) was on the Rachel Maddow show and he said something simple and absolutely spot on.

"Yes, I hope there will be pressure to do even more, but I, again, want to be honest, simply being in a public place and voicing your opinion in and of itself doesn’t do anything politically. It is the prerequisite, I hope, for people getting together and voting and engaging things. And I understand some of the people on occupy Wall Street are kind of critical of that. They think that's conventional politics. Well, you know, the most successful organization in America in getting its views adopted is the national rifle association. They are in many cases a minority. But in addition to everything else they do, they very effectively identify who the members of the congress are, the legislatures and vote for them."

It all comes down to this - if you aren't going to occupy a voting booth in 2012, then you're wasting your time occupying Wall Street right now.

Statistically speaking, young adults are a voting minority.  Adults 18-25 tend to turn out and vote in the smallest numbers relative to their percentage of the population.  This is due to a number of factors, not the least of which is a disenfranchisement with electoral politics.  Simply put, most adults under 30 don't care about politics, they don't follow politics, they find political discussions boring, they don't feel like their vote matters, that it's a waste of time and they don't think politicians from either party really care about them or their problems, so what difference does it really make who wins?

Well, many of those same young adults are down at the OWS protests and other protests in major cities all over the country right now.  Many of those same young adults are posting "I am the 99%" pictures and comments all over Facebook, Twitter and other social media.  Many of those same young adults are just finishing college and facing the worst job market in over 60 years while saddled with the highest average student loan debt in our nation's history.  Many of these young adults are finding themselves entering into the "real world" with the boot of oppression already firmly planted on their necks and they're pissed off about it and looking not just for someone to blame, but for a way to change the status quo.

So, how do you do that?  It's really easy - you VOTE.

The voice of the 99% might have been stifled and drowned out by the trumpets sounding from the ivory towers of the elite 1% over the last 30 years, but we're still a democracy for now and that means the one voice of the people that cannot be stifled or ignored is the voice we raise when we pull the lever in that voting booth.

If you're down at an "Occupy" rally, if you're expressing solidarity with the 99%, if you agree with, support or believe in the message that the 99% are trying to get out there, then you must prove it in the voting booth.  Simply saying "I am the 99%" isn't enough.  Putting a sticker on your car isn't enough.  Copying and pasting statuses isn't enough.  It's great that this movement has grown legs and is resonating with the very people at whom it is meant to ignite emotion, but without real, meaningful action, it will go down as the greatest waste of potential in modern history.  A rally without action is like a sports car without an engine - it looks great but it doesn't go anywhere.

So, if you're unhappy with the current political structure in our country, then vote to change it.

If you're unhappy with the wage imbalance that is crushing the poor and middle-class, then vote to change it.

If you're unhappy with the Wall Street plutocracy, where the richest 1% make all the rules and the other 99% of us suffer the consequences, then VOTE TO CHANGE IT.

If all you're going to do is sit around a bitch, then you're no better than the people you claim to be opposed to, because neither of you is doing a damn thing to change the status quo.

That's it, that's all I have to say today.  This is a message I'm going to be repeating more and more as it gets closer to election time, but it cannot be said enough.  If you aren't happy with the way things are in this country right now, if you want to see real change to our system, then you have to get out there and vote on election day.  Who we elect as president, who we put in congress (and who we throw out), the legislation and policies we choose to support all has a profound impact on the quality of life we are going to create for ourselves both in the immediate future and for the long term, for our children and their children.  Your vote does matter, what you do does make a difference.  If young adults in America turned out to vote at the same rate as people over 40, our country and it's leadership would look a lot different today.  Hell, there might not even be a need for an OWS or 99% movement, because the people would already have spoken.

I'm not trying to tell you how to vote (although you can probably guess my suggestions), I'm just telling you to vote, period.  If you care about what's happening to our country, if you are tired of the 1% getting bloated with wealth on the backs of the other 99%, if you want to see things start to improve in this country, then you have to make your voice heard where it really matters - in the voting booth.  Otherwise, you're just living up to the ignorant stereotypes that are being promoted by the media, the pundits and the politicians who stand to make a lot of money by keeping things the way they are.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Problem with Herman Cain

Ok, Herman Cain is now the front runner in the GOP primary chase.  Well, depending on what poll you look at he's either the front runner or he's in a dead heat with Mitt Romney, but regardless, with the meltdown of Rick Perry, the indefensible ignorance of Michelle Bachmann, the outright media bias against Ron Paul, the dismissal by the base of Jon Huntsman and his loony "I believe in science" psychobabble and the fact that Rick Santorum is officially less likable than the recto-spooge/lube concoction named for him, Herman Cain has floated to the top of the toilet bowl, alongside the universally disliked R.I.N.O.

This means a few things.  First, it means people now have to treat Cain as a "serious" contender for basically the first time since he entered the race.  Second, it means that, because he's now being treated seriously, people are going to start challenging his ideas, vetting his proposals and, most importantly, actually listening to the things he says.  This has led to a minor explosion of new and "controversial" statements made by Cain in the past and present that are being held to increased scrutiny and it has put pressure on Cain to explain many of those statements, back up his proposals with actual data and basically defend his position like any serious presidential contender would have to.  For many, this new attention to Cain has revealed serious holes in his armor and flaws with his platform.  For me, however, it just reconfirms what I felt about Cain from the minute he entered the race.

See, a while back I talked about the very first interview I ever saw Cain do.  It was an interview for Dick Morris' internet channel or whatever the hell it is.  Some kind of lunch chat that looked like it was filmed on the set of a cheap porno and with the same production crew and budget.  Back then, Cain was lucky to poll in the high single-digits, but boy was he confident!  Here is the interview, in fact:


In that video, there were a few things that bothered me about Cain right from the start.  The first was the he subtly qualified himself as a "blacker" black candidate than Obama - something he has done previously, the infamous "I'm more authentically black" statement.  He also drives that wedge further by mentioning Obama's "African black" heritage vs. Cains "Brought here as a slave black" ancestry, all part of that "I'm a more authentic black guy" rhetoric.  The second thing that bugged me about Cain in this interview was that, in spite of basically calling out Obama over racial authenticity, Cain defiantly and confidently states that one of the biggest differences between himself and Obama is that he "Has never and will never play the race card."  Now, if you just ignored all the subtle "I'm blacker than you" racial calling out that Cain did of Obama, you still have to wonder what, exactly, Cain is implying with this statement.  Is Obama a serial race card player?  If so, he certainly doesn't do it on camera, when talking about his job, or the constant obstruction he faces from congress for no other reason than because it's him asking for stuff.  I've never heard Obama play the race card, unless being proud of your heritage and your family and your upbringing is playing the race card?  Unless acknowledging that you accomplished what you did in life in spite of your skin color, not because of it is playing the race card?  I was always led to believe that "playing the race card" is when you accuse someone of racism because they dare to criticize someone of a different race, or expecting special favors in life because of your race.  I've never seen Obama do either of these things, but ok, whatever Mr. Cain, your point is?  Well, not 5 minutes after stating, matter-of-factly, that he would never play the race card, Cain starts to talk about being a company vice president "When it wasn't cool to be a black vice president"  That's a pretty quick turnaround to start playing your race as some kind of game playing piece, perhaps in a card-like shape...  Lastly, the thing in this interview that got me to say "Yeah, this guy is completely full of shit and a joke" was when he was talking about how his family grew up poor, working class and needed assistance.  All during that time of their lives, he and his family were Democrats.  They supported Democratic policies, and so on.  When Dick Morris asked him what caused Cain to change his political views to become a conservative Republican, Cains actual response is "Well, I started to make a little money..."  That interview told me everything I needed to know about Herman Cain - he's a hypocrite, he's self-righteous and he's a complete phony.

No wonder he's neck and neck with Mitt Romney.

See, here's the difference between Mitt and Herman.  With Mitt Romney, you know he's a fake.  You don't need to just hear his words - the guy literally flip-flops on his positions within news cycles - you can see it in his face.  Romney himself doesn't even look like he believes the shit he's saying.  When Mitt talked about the Occupy Wall Street movement a week or so into it, he said "I think it's dangerous, this class warfare".  This week, Romney said "I'm not worried about the 1%, they're doing just fine!  I'm worried about the 99%, the rest of us..."  What do you mean us, Mitt?  Who's "us"?  You got a turd in your pocket?  Mr. $250 million net worth, what part of the 99% do you fit into, exactly?  You made most of your money by buying and selling companies, resulting in the pillaging of their retirement and pension funds and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, who the hell are you to talk about the middle-class like you even know how to pump your own gas?  But, see, it's not surprising!  When Mitt talks about being pro-life now, about believing life begins at conception, yes there is literally video that exists from back when he was running for governor of Mass. where he says he's strongly pro-choice and believes a woman should have the right to choose what she wants to do with her own body.  When Mitt bashes Obamacare, yes, we know Obamacare was modeled on Romney's own public healthcare plan in Mass!  We know Romney is a total phony, he always has been.  Cain, on the other hand, is an entirely different kind of phony.

Mitt's a phony, but he's a plastic phony.  Listening to Mitt wonder why people don't take him seriously is like listening to a blow-up doll who says "What do you mean I'm not a real girl?"  Mitt is actually the very definition of a R.I.N.O. - he is totally a Republican in name only.  He was a moderate, if not liberal, "Republican" when he ran for governor and now he's suddenly a hyper-conservative Tea Party chaser who can't remember which side of a position he's on from one week to the next.  His phony insincerity is as obvious as a flaming, neon peacock coming up the street in a hot pink cab with a salsa band on the roof.

Cain, on the other hand, is a different kind of phony.  He's like the friend of yours who keeps trying to fuck your wife and every time you confront him about it he says "What?  I'm just kidding!" and then sends her a picture of his dick.  Cain is a phony who pretends to be sincere.  He says outrageous shit, like that he wants to build a "20 foot high border fence with razor wire on top, electrified!"  And then, when he gets called out for it later, he says "I was only kidding!  Well, I mean, I'm not kidding about wanting to build a 20ft. high fence with electrified razor wire on it, but I'm kidding about whatever might have offended anyone!"  Dude... THAT'S the part that offended everyone!  He makes statements that are absolutely serious, because he's making them to pander to and incite the ultra-conservative Tea Party base that has taken over the GOP.  It's only when he gets called out for what he says and realizes it might actually come back to bite him in the ass on the campaign trail that he back peddles, but only just enough to pretend he's contrite, not enough to actually be sincere.

He makes statements like this all the time.  In fact, just today, there is a new clip of Cain saying "Some have said that I'm only doing this (campaigning) because I want a tv show or a radio show, but let me be clear, that is not the case at all and if you don't believe me, you can buy a copy of my book..."  He then smiles at the end, like "See, it's all just a big joke!"  Except it's really not.

For all intents and purposes, Cain only got into the presidential race for self-promotion.  He's not unlike Gingrich or Bachmann in this respect.  All 3 of those candidates have books out or coming out and all 3 are capitalizing on their increased media exposure to promote those books and advance their own careers.  All the candidates will now get higher speaking fees when they lecture - something Cain in particular did a lot prior to entering the race and will undoubtedly do when he's getting 5 times the price per appearance afterwards.  However, thanks to the overwhelming unlike-ability of Romney, the total meltdown of Perry and the aforementioned negatives of the rest of the field, Cain has found himself an unlikely front runner to a race he never expected to seriously do well in from the start.  However, in true "sincere phony" fashion, Cain is acting like this is something he had planned for all along.

It's like, if Mitt Romney was an NFL fan and you asked him who his favorite team was, he would say "Who won the superbowl?  Ok, that's my favorite team!"  Cain, on the other hand, would say "Who won the superbowl?  Well, I said in my book - which is on sale right now - that I thought they would win the superbowl and they did so really they've always been my favorite team."  Then you go and buy his book and realize he doesn't talk about the superbowl at all in it and when you ask him about it, he says "What?  I was just kidding about that!"

Cain was never a serious candidate.  If he was, he'd have a better fiscal policy than a rehashed pizza deal slogan.  Seriously, "9-9-9" is a one-topping, take-out only pizza deal if ever I heard it.  Not only that, but it's the default tax structure in Sim City.  It's an intentionally over-simplified version of a tax system, set up to give Sim City players a very basic tax code simulation that is meant to be only one aspect of the game and not something that requires much thought or effort to fine-tune.  This is by design, so players can focus on making their imaginary characters do funny stuff with all the crap they buy for their houses.  It's not intended to be a serious framework for the largest economy in the world.  It would be like using the map on the back of a box of animal crackers as an atlas to navigate a trip around the world.

Beyond that, Cain is just completely out of touch with the average voter.  He chastises the OWS movement, famously saying "If you don't have a job and you're not rich, don't blame Wall Street, blame yourself!"  He is the textbook definition of a "sell-out".  He's a guy who made a little money and immediately turned his back on the life he lived before earning his fortune.  He's perfectly fine with using his struggle to illustrate what a great man he is for rising above his situation, but he refuses to acknowledge the institutional and historical factors that created that situation in the first place.

He speaks about being "too young" to be a part of the civil rights movement of the 60's, but he was born in 1946.  Cain was in his early 20's at the height of the civil rights movement.  Furthermore, he lived in Alabama, ground zero for the movement.  He says in his book that his father used to tell his family to "move to the back of the bus" when instructed to do so because they "didn't want to make trouble" and that it was easier "to just go along with it" than fight for their dignity.

Now, I don't expect anyone to put themselves into the position that the civil rights protesters did in the 60's.  I wouldn't blame anyone for not wanting to be arrested, beaten or assaulted, even if it was in defense of their own basic human rights.  However, I do expect a certain kind of principle and leadership and bravery from someone who wants to be my president.  Herman Cain, CEO of Godfather's Pizza, can go to the back of the bus all he wants if that makes him happy - but President Herman Cain, leader of the free world and commander in chief of our armed forces... he damned well should have fought for his rights.

But, this is why Cain doesn't understand the OWS movement.  This is why Cain doesn't identify with the 99%.  Because Cain sympathizes with the 1%.  Not just because he is the 1%, but because he doesn't rock the boat.  He knows better than to make trouble with the people who got the cops on their side.  He was taught from an early age to know his place and he stays there.  Hey, if that's the choice you made, that's cool, but own it.  Don't pretend to be something you're not, because that just makes you a phony.

Don't act like a fighter just because you worked your way to the top like a good little bee.  Don't act like you're "authentically black" when you jumped when the white man said to jump.  Most of all, don't pretend like you know what it's like to be black more than Obama does when you call out your own people as being "brainwashed" by the Democrats.  Don't pretend you know the struggle when you don't even want to know the people struggling.

And that, in a nutshell, is my problem with Herman Cain.  He's just as much of a phony as Mitt Romney, except he thinks we're too stupid to realize it.  He's got a bunch of gimmicky "bumper sticker" slogans that, predictably, resonate with dumb people who don't own a calculator and he's a great token black guy for Tea Party Republicans to say "See!  It wasn't about race with Obama, cuz we got our own ni... err, African American candidate too!"  With Romney, at least you know where you stand with him - that being whichever way the wind is blowing that week.  With Cain, you keep thinking you know where you stand with him and he keeps trying to fuck your wife every time you leave the room.  "What?  I'm just kidding!"

Whatever you say, "Black Walnut", whatever you say...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ah, Monday!

I'm back,  bitches.  This seemed like a long weekend, even though I stayed pretty busy for most of it.  Usually, when I'm running around doing things, the days tend to zip by pretty quickly, but I feel like I haven't written anything here for a lot longer than 2 days right now.  I had a pretty good weekend, too.  Got some boring responsible stuff done around the house and whatnot and also went out and had some fun with friends.  Ran some errands, checked some things off the to-do list and still found time to be lazy and, most of all, watch the season 2 premier of The Walking Dead.  I really like that show and it came along just in time to ease my withdrawals from Breaking Bad ending for the year.  Thank Xenu for AMC, or else my week would just be one long stretch between episodes of The X Factor, punctuated with little snippets of The Daily Show and Tosh.0... oh, and South Park is back, but still, I like having shows that I look forward to making time to watch live, rather than just catching on dvr when I have free time.  I like getting excited about a show so that I can't wait to watch it and I actually choose to sit through the commercials to see it live.

So, I'm just sort of sitting here and I don't really have a preconceived idea for a blog topic today, so I'm randomly typing out whatever pops into my head.  Yes, this will almost certainly result in a creation that serves to take minutes from your life reading it that you can never get back, don't say I didn't warn you.

Oh, here's something that I've been thinking about for over a week now but I keep not putting it down in writing...  You know how the new iPhone 4S has this voice recognition feature where you can talk to your phone?  Basically, you can give it voice commands and it will respond to them.  This lets you do things like ask for directions verbally instead of typing them out, etc.  Well, one of the big uses for this voice technology is that you can speak the words you want to say to someone and your iPhone will type them out for you.  This way you can send text messages to people without having to actually type out the text.  Now, call me crazy, but isn't that what us old timers used to call making a phone call?  "Isn't this awesome?  I say what I want to text and my phone types it out and sends it, then my friend can download an app that will read my text out loud!  It's the future!!"  No, it's actually the very first thing a PHONE ever did, but hey, if you're willing to pay $500 for something that can literally be accomplished with 2 cans and a taut string, knock yourselves out.  See, this is why education is so important.  Honestly though, what does this say about Apple customers?  They're honestly so addicted to buying anything new with an Apple logo on it that they're getting excited about carrying on traditional phone calls through a synthesized, 3rd party intermediary.  It's like when your friend is on the phone with another one of your friends and you keep telling your friend stuff to say for you, only your friend is charging you $500 for the privilege and gets every 4th word wrong.  I kind of feel like people have been pushing around the dirt with a rag over at Apple for a while now and pretending to look busy.  I mean, ok, the iPhone is pretty amazing and it did totally change the mobile phone industry, but what has Apple done since then that's been anywhere near as groundbreaking?  The iPad?  Come on, it's just a bigger version of the iPhone that can't make phone calls!  It's what should have come out 2 years before the iPhone.  And now the 4S?  It's an iPhone 4 that you can talk to... stop the presses!  Omg, I can't wait to ditch my perfectly good iPhone 4 to buy this slightly improved newer version... you know... because it's newer!  I'm personally stoked about the 4S, not because I can't wait to own it, but because I can't wait to buy an iPhone 4 for $100 now.  Yeah, 6 months ago when all my friends were plunking down $600 for one and literally raging because white was sold out, I was just kicking on back with my cheap-ass $40 Samsung and biding my time...

See, it just sort of proves my theory that maybe Steve Jobs really was the brains of the whole operation because once he started to get really sick, even before he stepped down, the innovation over there took a nosedive.  I've played around with an iPad and yeah, they're pretty cool, but they're not setting the computing world on fire.  It's almost been like a bet over there, like "How many retread ideas and old crap in new packaging can we put out there before people stop lining up 5 hours before the stores open to buy them?"  Apparently, the answer is "you'd be surprised!"  Someone really needs to pick up that torch before the next great Apple invention is... literally... a torch.  Think about it, it could be called the iBurn and it will instantly ignite any flammable object it comes in contact with.  Of course, it will require constant patching through iTunes and will cost $800, but you can't really put a price on a stick that catches stuff on fire with an Apple logo on it... plus, it's available in white!

I haven't watched much news this weekend, I tend to take the weekends off from thinking about serious things and getting all worked up over world events and politics and shit.  It's a big reason why I started doing casual Monday posts instead of just diving right into serious opining.  I just don't want to do a bunch of news homework first thing on a Monday morning.  In that respect, I'm not unlike most of the politicians in Washington right now.  In fact, given the amount of actual progress and production that has come out of congress in the last 3 years, I'd say by blogging about politics an average of 3 days a week, I'm putting almost 10 times the thought, effort and production in the area of politics that they are.

Instead of bogging myself down with news and knowledge, I focused instead on recreation.  As I mentioned at the top, I went out with some friends and watched my good friend D.M. Seale and his band, The Chasers, play at a bar near my hometown.  It was a fun night.  I drank enough to actually get up on stage and sing a horrible hybrid version of both the original NIN and Johnny Cash interpretations of the song "Hurt".  Basically it was like I started trying to sing it like Cash, realized I suck, then tried to sing it like Trent and realized... hey, I still suck!  Fortunately, I had more than enough alcohol in me to not give a shit and see it through to the bitter end.  There is something very cathartic about singing a song badly in front of a crowd of people and not even caring that you sound terrible.  It reminds me of the old days when I was still playing with Los Cochinos and we would do those same kind of bar gigs, the ones where you have to stretch about 2 hours worth of songs you actually know into 5 hours of music, so by the end of the night you're calling people up on stage and pulling songs right out of your ass.  Around that time, I would usually jump off the drums, grab a mic and start doing a medley of 90's rap songs.  I'm not a good rapper at all, but when someone is hollering out the lyrics to "Gin and Juice" to a room full of drunks, it's never not a party.  I think this is why I like karaoke so much, too.  I just enjoy the hell out of getting enough of a buzz to lose your fear and inhibition and then jumping on a mic and trying to kick the party into overdrive by reminding everyone how much better a song is when sung by the original artist.  I need to talk the crew into doing a karaoke night with me sometime soon...

Ok, that seems like a fair amount of typed paragraphs.  I feel like I've delivered enough content here to not feel like I completely wasted your time in reading this.  Your results may vary, but at least you didn't pay for this shit, am I right?  Don't worry, I'm going to make some lunch and watch Hardball and by this time tomorrow I'm sure I'll be all pissed off about something and motivated to write down words that seem intelligent to the casual observer.  In the meantime, keep upgrading your iPhones, because I'm trying to get a 4 on the cheap, son!

Friday, October 14, 2011

There's less of me to go around...

As most of my friends know and anyone who follows my silly postings with regularity, I have made some pretty major lifestyle changes over the last couple months.  I began eating healthier and getting regular exercise with the initial goal of losing enough weight to satisfy the pre-surgical requirements for gastric bypass.  However, in the 8 weeks since I began, my outlook has changed and my goal now is to lose all the weight by myself, through healthier eating and exercise alone, without the aid of surgery or drugs.

2 months ago, I would have been embarrassed to talk about my weight.  Specifically, how much I weighed when I started making these changes.  Today, however, I have a much different attitude.  I am happy to say that I weighed 400 lbs even exactly 2 months ago.  I'm happy to say it because today I weigh 349 lbs.  I have lost 51 lbs in 8 weeks and I did it without crash dieting, gimmicks, pills or any "quick fix" short cuts.  I know that I still have a long way to go before I reach my goal - at least another 100 lbs - but I've already lost over 1/3rd of the weight I wanted to lose and it's only been 2 months.

So, how did I do it?  How have I lost weight consistently every week, without one bad week of gaining weight?  The answer is ridiculously simple.  I changed how I eat and I started exercising.  That's it.

I'm not on a "diet".  I hate that word, because of what it implies.  The idea that a "diet" is a punishment that must be endured, like being grounded or put on probation, that's a recipe for failure before you even begin.  If you think about eating healthier as a punishment that must be endured, then you've already lost.  Eating healthy is something you have to embrace and accept as your new lifestyle.  It's not a temporary setback that must be overcome, because you have to keep eating healthy your whole life or you'll just gain back the weight.  This is why diets fail, it's not that the person is flawed, it's that the whole concept of temporarily enduring an uncomfortable situation in order to somehow gain life-long positive results is complete garbage.  A two-week diet is good for exactly that, two weeks.  If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to change how you eat for the rest of your life.

So, I did.  I stopped drinking regular sodas and sugary drinks.  I stopped eating junk food.  I cut way back on fast food and even then, I choose the salads over the burgers.  I made the decision to eliminate unhealthy food options and replace them with healthy ones.  Instead of junk food like chips and cookies, I snack on fruits and vegetables.  Doesn't sound as good?  Maybe not, but you know what sounds worse?  "I weigh 400 lbs".

Incidentally, I eat good.  I'm never hungry.  In fact, I eat more now than I did before I changed my eating habits.  The difference is, instead of filling up on carbs and fatty foods and sugary or fatty snacks, I'm filling up on lean proteins and vegetables and fruits and healthy alternatives.  I eat a bigger plate of food now but I'm only taking in a fraction of the fat and calories.  Here's a quick example - for the same amount of calories as a double cheeseburger, large fries and a medium coke from any fast food place, I can have a huge plate of salad, two large pieces of grilled chicken, a generous helping of mashed potatoes, all slathered in gravy and butter and all the diet coke I can drink.  Or, better yet, I can eat a reasonable-sized salad, one piece of chicken and a sensible portion of mashed potatoes, hold the butter and go easy on the gravy and lose 5 lbs a week.  There's no starving going on here, just changing up the menu.

The other half of my secret to success is exercise.  When I first started, 2 months ago, I could barely walk around my block once, that's how out of shape I was.  Now, I'm up to nearly 4 miles a day.  I walk a mile every morning and about 3 miles every evening.  I also have started very basic strength training, stuff like push-ups, leg lifts, doing some lifting with light weights, nothing crazy, just enough to start building muscle and help my body burn even more calories and fat.  That's part of how I've made it work for me too, pacing myself.  I don't try to do too much at once, I gradually have been easing myself into longer and harder workouts, just as I've been gradually easing myself into smaller and healthier meal portions.  Like I said, I started doing a lap around my block - maybe 1/4 mile - every day and now I'm up to almost 4 miles per day plus strength training.  You might not think getting off that couch and exercising feels good, but you know what feels worse?  Not being able to fit in a booth in a restaurant.  Knocking things over in stores with your stomach.  Being completely out of breath after walking from one corner to the next up a hill.

When I hit my goal weight, I'm going to write a book about my story.  I'm going to talk about how I have found the motivation to make these changes and stick with them and my journey from an out of shape 400 lb man to the active, healthy and happy person I will become in less than a year.  If one person can find inspiration in my story to make the same positive changes I have, it will be worth it to me.  Anyone who knows me knows that I was probably the last person in the world they would have expected to be the healthy-eating, exercising guy I've become.  I was probably one of the worst eaters I know and I considered exercise to be a form of torture.  However, the guy I was just 2 months ago is a stranger to me now.  I have turned a corner in my life and I feel better than I have in over 10 years, which incidentally was the last time I weighed less than 350 lbs.  I know a lot of people say this, but when I say "If I can do it, you can do it" I'm not just blowing smoke up your ass.  Literally, if I can do this, anyone can do it, because I was about the most unhealthy, anti-exercise, doomed to get diabetes and a heart attack and be dead by 50 person you'd ever meet and today I'm one huge step towards being someone vastly different.  It's not hard to do, it doesn't require buying a bunch of fancy food and expensive equipment, it just takes you deciding that you're ready to make a change and it takes the commitment to stick to it.  It can be done, I'm all the proof that I need of that, and I'm going to continue to prove it... and, of course, I'll keep you updated the whole way.

So, that was my Friday.  Pretty damn good one if I do say so myself.  Now, I'm going to go make myself a delicious sandwich, have an ice cold vanilla coke zero and watch some lie detector results on Maury.  Living the life, baby, living the life...