Monday, December 22, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Overland Park pt 75-82

End of October through November, 2008.

Part 75

75! I cannot believe it. But this one has nothing to do with Halloween or the election or its eventual aftermath. Mainly because I’m still fuming about the top 5 list and how strange it is. This is all about the upcoming season and what it means for us.

And before I start, a shout-out to my spiritual advisor Patrick for the assist on this one.

Here we go:

A look at consumerism in the face of the 2nd Great Depression.

How in this world of the one of the worst economies most of us have ever faced, how do we feel about paying a ton of money on presents for people in the upcoming holiday season? A lot of us have to deal with the fact that birthdays and holidays almost always seem to correspond. I have my birthday, 2 of my good friends birthdays, as well as a few family birthdays, all between now and the end of the year, and as the economic downturn continues to worsen and worsen, we’re all left wondering: what next?

Being that my own birthday happens in December, I can feel the crunch. Every time I open my wallet, I see it. Empty. All my money is going to the debts that I already have (which I’ve discussed at length before) such as school loans, car payments, increasing credit card debt, and everything else.

And as the economic crunch continues to be felt and Christmas and the holiday season is right around the corner, what has to go? What gets forgotten as you try to uphold the image of being a provider, a good son and husband, a good friend?

Being a man, I’m notorious for pushing one very important thing to the side: my health. Working at a very stressful job in a very stressful season, you deal with weight-gain as its easier to just run to McDonald’s and pick up a double cheeseburger for a dollar than it is to run to the local grocery store and buy a thing of cheese, a thing of beef, buns, and then cook them. It’s only a dollar at McDonald’s, but you forget about what it does to your health.

And it’s faster too. So you deal with it. And then you start getting chest pains. Your teeth always feel dirty. You have trouble sleeping and you have headaches and you just get worse and worse everyday. The bags under your eyes grow and your cholesterol keeps going up, but because you have to pay rent, a car payment, or anything else, you have to forget about yourself and just keep working.

Add that with working long hours and everything else and you’re left with taking about 5-10 years off your life in the span of 6 months. Of just bad eating. Bad dieting. Bad health and bad lifestyles.

But I’ve changed that, so hopefully all is good.

But this blog entry isn’t about my health and my changing body (that comes up soon). This is all about what’s coming. The storm heading over the horizon and the biggest shopping season of the year.

You can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. You walk into any department store in the mall, Targets, Wal-Marts, Costcos, Sam’s Clubs, anywhere big that sells you the junk that you need to live (like a whisk, or a food scale, or a tuning fork, or whatever it is we buy), you see it.

The fake Christmas trees are on the shelves. Stockings. Christmas cards are out at the local Hallmarks. The lights and the decorations. They’re all sitting there. Judging us as we step foot into these massive stores. And some people have to buy the junk because they love the holiday so much.

Me, not so much.

But again, this isn’t about my distaste for organized holidays where gift-giving is essentially the main crux of the celebration. It’s about what our consumerism is going to do to each and every one of us as we decide what we have to purchase on this upcoming holiday season.

Will we be frugal in the face of this crisis or will we continue to spend and increase our own debts to the point where the albatross around our neck grows so heavy that we can’t take it anymore? Will we give in to the temptation of the cookies, the presents, the shiny objects staring blankly at us as we step foot inside the stores?

What do we do? What can any of us do?

For me, this upcoming holiday season of Thanksgiving through New Year’s is about putting on a happy face for the family. My wife loves this time of year so I generally do it for her. I do it because I want to appear like I care.

Most of you know that I’d rather just stew about it. But I won’t.

And in the face of this economic crisis, we’re also faced with something our lame duck President told us on at least one occasion: spending as much as you can is good for the economy. They generally expect an economic upturn right around the Christmas season because people are spending their hard-earned money on crazy gifts that you’ll love for five minutes and hate for the rest of your life. Is spending that money this year a good thing? Or will it be the worst thing you could ever do?

You have to figure that yes, it will be good for the economy, now, but it won’t be good for you in the future. Because that money that you spend will mean more stress, more debt, and it could lead to poverty or even losing your home. Which a lot of people are facing daily. Stories riddle the newspapers and magazines about the growing foreclosure rates.

So you have to ask yourselves: who has the responsibility of propping this economy up? Is it on your shoulders? You and your family? At what cost do you take it upon yourselves to keep the economy afloat by spending the money that you worked so hard to gather for your family and yourself and then spending that money on the same family, only it’s putting you further and further in debt?

In this instance, does the ends justify the means?

I’m paraphrasing when I say this: but who bails you out?

It’s on your shoulders at that point. Just like it’s on my shoulders to get myself out of the debt that I constantly face. And I’m dealing with that. It will be a process, probably for the rest of my life, that ebbs and flows. But I know that with the downturn being so problematic, with thoughts of job loss on everyone’s minds, I have to stop and think. I have to sit back and think do I really need this blu-ray in my hands right now? Is it important? Do I need to buy this book for my brother for his birthday, or do I just slap him on the back and wish him a great day?

At what point does the gift-giving start to only mean crisis for you and your family? And at what point do you stop it?

I’m not sure. I’m mainly here with questions. There is a lot going on in this world that is very frightening. Each of us are going to face it (unless we have a trust fund or something, and then, can I borrow some money). We’re going to be left with some very hard decisions, and one major one is coming very soon.

How much can you spend on this Christmas season without seeing the red creep into your debt? And how much of yourself are you willing to give away to save the economy that constantly scares you?

It’s a lot to think about. It’s a crisis for certain, and it weighs heavily on our minds as we face the upcoming election as well.

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Part 76


To open, here's a new quote that I love:

"Rosa Parks sat so that Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so that Obama could run. Obama's running so that we all can fly."

-Jay-Z

That's right. That quote is attributed to Jay-Z. I don't know how he feels about the rest of this entry, but I can tell you this, I don't just think this should be about African-Americans. I think it has a lot to do with the world, but obviously, African-Americans in general.

I just hope that Obama shows the world we can still fly with this election. I hope that the night ends the right way.

On to the show:

UPDATED:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122586056759900673.html?mod=special_page_campaign2008_mostpop

So I am ecstatic for all of like 10 hours after Obama won. Proud to call myself an American. Proud that my country was smart enough to think about the choice and think about the future and elect the person who deserved to win. Who was honest. Charming. Smarter. I can finally say my president is smarter than me.

And then California goes and does something like this. Disrespectful. Stupid. Moronic. The biggest mistake they could have made. Let's show the world how smart we are one minute and how stupid we are the next. I am so very sad for anyone who lives in California, and I can only say that I really hope that it goes before the Supreme Court and gets overturned. Just disgusting that they would pass this stupid proposition. If you have a gay family member, and you voted to ban gay marriage, you are despicable. I am ashamed for you.

Back to the original post:

I promised my spiritual advisor, Patrick, that I wouldn't talk about the election. But the broad strokes have to be mentioned. Some that don't even really apply to us, living here in Kansas and Missouri, but they will in the future. They will if the right to make a choice becomes something that the entire United States decides to use.

Prop 8, Prop 2, and Prop 102 in California, Florida, and Arizona, respectively.

The Anti-Gay propositions that have been attached to this presidential election.

One big one that has gained a lot of steam in recent memory is Prop 8, in California, mainly because in recent months gay marriage was upheld as lawful, and now there is a proposition to essentially take that vote back for "respectful marriages," or whatever it is they're talking about.

I'm married. I'm heterosexual. Big deal. Honestly. If I was gay, I would want to love and cherish whichever person I chose to, and I would want the rights to do so just like any asswipe in Hollyweird has the right to marry any woman/man they want to marry on a whim. Prop 8 is a state constitutional amendment that is titled Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry.

Eliminates the rights.

Those rights were granted by the state only recently and now people want to take those rights away. And why?

To protect the sanctity of marriage, according to all the people who are voting for these propositions. Because the sanctity of marriage is broken if two people who love each other completely don't deserve to be married. I don't care that the Bible says two homosexuals shouldn't be allowed to cavort or be with each other or be married. The Bible also says stuff like an eye for an eye (which has caused all kinds of trouble for our economy and our world with a President and Government that follows and adheres to the rules of the Bible almost completely). I don't always like what the Bible says because of people who HATE other people for their lifestyle choices, such as the way they dress, the way they talk, the things they believe in, and no, I'm not saying that homosexuality is a choice.

But who you love is a choice.

I learned at a young age, in a very Conservative state, that accepting people was the right thing to do. I'm not the nicest person in the world, but I sure as hell will not turn away from a friend if they came out of the closet and I sure as hell wouldn't give up on them as human beings, nor would I say to them, you know what, I'm sorry that you love another man or woman, but I don't think you deserve the choice to love them, or the freedom to spend your life with that person.

Who am I, God?

Shouldn't God, if you believe in that entity, be the only person allowed to make that decision? Who's to say that God isn't pro-gay marriage? Who's to say that God doesn't love a man? I mean, the Bible teaches to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, so you know, if you follow the Bible to a T, maybe you're gay. Maybe everyone is gay. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.

This really pisses me off. I was raised a Catholic. I went to Catholic pre-school and graduated from a Catholic high school. That's where my faith went. It went down the tube with all the idiots who spew hate at other people for making a choice that doesn't fit alongside their own beliefs.

I mean, if your daughter was raped by a scumbag who threatened to kill her if she didn't have sex with him, would you want your daughter to go through the pain of childbirth? Would you want your daughter to then spend the rest of her life looking at that baby and resenting them, hating them, because they remind her of that awful person who took choice away from her?

Aren't you taking choice away from your daughter by not giving her the choice to make up her own damned mind?

Aren't you doing what God teaches you not to do?

It frustrates me to no end. I've worked with gay people. I have friends who are gay. I don't care what they do behind closed doors and I don't care who they love.

Just so long as that person loves them back. All I want for the people that I care about is for them to be happy. All I care about is that they are allowed to live their lives and be happy, no matter what.

And I want them to be free.

To have the freedom to choose who they love and who they marry. To have the freedom to make a decision in the face of an intense diversity.

Seriously though, if you believe so wholeheartedly in the Bible, that marriage and sex are only for pro-creation, than I'm worse than most. My wife and I use birth control. So yeah, every day I do something terrible and I spit in the face of people who tell me that MY choices aren't good enough, that my choices aren't worthwhile, that what I believe in isn't right.

But I do that because my choices deserve to be my own. Not someone else's. My choices about life, honor, respect, love, everything, belongs to myself.

If you're so good, if you're so loving and so holy, why do you think it's okay to tell me what to believe? I've never come out and tell anyone what to believe, I just share my beliefs.

Love them or hate them, it's your choice to make.

And that's always what these blogs have been about, to this day. The right to choose. The right to make the choice that means the world to you. The right to choose what you do with your life.

The right to choose who you want to spend the rest of your life with. The right to choose anything, and not be fearful that that choice will lead to the end of your life.

Because this is about you. This is about your choice.

This isn't about me.

This isn't even really about you.

This is about who comes next.

Who follows us.

This is about keeping freedom alive for the people that follow us on this world.

This is about making a world that our children and their children and anyone else's children can believe in.

You want to say it's hope? Fine. Say it's about hope. But it's about not believing that you are better than anyone else because you're so holy.

Just because you believe in God doesn't allow you the right to hate someone for their beliefs. It doesn't give you the right to throw eggs at women who have abortions or turn your nose up to gay people or hate someone who is Jewish or Muslim.

If you choose to believe what the Bible teaches you, so be it. But don't force those beliefs on me. Just live your life, and let people be allowed to live their own. Wouldn't Jesus want it that way?

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Part 77

The times they are a-changing.

Seriously, big changes are afoot. It's strange right now.

I voted for a presidential candidate who won (and honestly, I'm still a little in shock that it happened this way and I'm still super-excited). But there are so many things going on right now, personally and in the world, that I feel like change might be another topic to blog about today. Tomorrow. Whenever.

It doesn't matter.

Change is here. So let's embrace it.

Embrace change.

It's one of those things that face us everyday.

At work.

At home.

In the economy.

In everything we do.

I'm sure Dustin would mention to all of us that being capable of change, facing change in the workplace in almost a daily form, is one of those things that will make you a very good candidate for growth opportunities. So of course, let's talk about that.

I've spoken about the Company that I work for in the past. Never in definites. Never in terms that will get me fired or get you to know who I work for. It's all on purpose. It might have something to do with needing a full-time job to pay the bills so that my writing can sustain me in my creative endeavors. It might be that I would piss a lot more people off if they knew what I was writing.

Anyway.

As I was saying, change is one of those basic tenets that we are required to face once we begin a career. Once we start work.

Change comes in different shapes and sizes. It can be life changes like undertaking a new health kick that helps you lose weight in the face of stress from the same job that you most times despise, but again, pays the bills. It can be life changes like moving to a new city. Starting in a different part of the Company.

Having a different opportunity face you everyday.

It could be listening to Queen's album A Kind of Magic while you write this blog and thinking about something other than the film Highlander. But that's impossible. Every time I listen to this album, Highlander is all I think about.

Again, another digression.

Change faces us everyday. In everything we do.

We roll with the punches. We move along. Or we get left behind. We move along or we're left in the dust to die.

My wife and I get into arguments just like every couple does. But she takes care of me. She's the positive one in our relationship. I'm the ultra-negative one. Like you didn't already know that.

But change comes in forms that attack things like relationships. Friendships. Loves. The hardships that face you as you get older are ones that don't go away.

And I'm the type of person who hates to think about getting older. Hates thinking that everyday I get older and I can't stop it.

But that's all part of change. And again, that's probably why I'm listening to that Queen album and thinking about Highlander.

Another birthday is on its way, and the quarter-life crisis started early for me this year. If you've been following the blog with any regularity, you've seen that to be the case. But as usual, talking about yourself gets a little too boring.

So where else is change needed or being felt?

Why Kansas City of course.

My Frink Gooch and I are in complete agreement with Kansas City sports. They are despicable. Disgusting. The teams that we have to root for are nothing but a joke. A couple of jokes.

A friend asked me to come over to their after Thanksgiving party and watch the Chiefs game on Sunday November 30th. Being a terrible friend I just laughed at them. I humbly tried to say no, but I couldn't help it.

I'm not a fairweather fan of the Chiefs or the Royals, but I'm not a fan in any sense of the word. They are both awful, and I feel bad for the fans in Kansas City that need the sports to watch.

I was one of those people who was excited to hear about the possibility of a basketball team coming to KC, and of course, completely upset to hear the chances slip away. I hated to see the Blades go, the Attack, the Comets, jesus, even the Kansas City Kings.

I wasn't old enough to remember going to a Kansas City Kings game as they stopped playing here in 85, but there are pictures to prove I was at one game, at least.

Not having a team, not having a reason to go to Kemper Arena, is a little depressing. Truly.

Not having a reason to root for KC sports, is a little maddening. The Wizards, for some reason, never felt like a real KC team to me like the rest. I suppose they are still our only real shot at a sports team, but who knows really?

The change that KC really needs is almost a complete overhaul of the two teams. Obviously, get rid of Peterson.

He's one of the worst things to ever happen to KC. EVER.

Probably the worst thing. He's done nothing good for the team. Get rid of Herm. Why we ever hired a guy with a LOSING record for the Jets to be our head coach and lead KC to victory makes zero sense at all. But I'm not the head guy there.

Hell, hire Marty again. Give him a new chance. Get Art Shell back (unless he already is).

Give us a damn team to root for. And the Royals? Jesus, I don't know what to do with them. Drop ticket prices. Drop PARKING prices. Drop food and drink prices. Get a team out there that is young and wants to play.

Get someone out there to kick some ass. Even then, if they lose, we'll all be loaded on 4 dollar beers and we'll be happy as hell because we got dinner and a show.

Also changing, the face of the world we live in. I'm completely excited for the president-elect, Barack Obama.

I've never been excited to see a new face put to politics. One who I stand for. I believe in. One who is charming in a good way. A good speaker.

Someone I believe in. Someone I don't necessarily trust as I don't know him personally, but I still see him speak and believe in his humility and I still feel like this is a man I can stand behind.

And I think he's smarter than me.

Which is the best thing.

There are a lot of people out there who are scared of him. Scared of the way the world will change. Obviously, the US will not become a socialist nation.

I've spoken about socialism in this blog before as well, and it doesn't work. There are too many greedy bastards in the world who have their own interests above all others, and a lot of those people run the country.

So there is no way that socialism will become the face of our nation. If some of those things carry over, I'd welcome them. I'd be wary of the way they would turn out, but as has been mentioned by smarter people than I, some tenets of socialism were used already for the recent bailout.

Let's take some of this change with a grain of salt.

There are people out there scared of the changes that we face. I'm generally scared of change. I'm scared of what comes next and not knowing what the future holds.

That is a part of life. Not knowing the future. Not being able to change the outcome of everything. Not being in charge of everything.

But change can be a great thing.

It can lead you on a path so much better than the one you were previously on. It can lead you to things above and beyond what you could ever even imagine. It can change your entire world in just one small word.

We just have to be smart enough to allow it to do exactly that.

Take the step.

Take the leap.

You can't be a part of change if you don't try, if you don't make a jump, if you don't just try at something and fail miserably a number of times and then you get to make that one massive impact that people will talk about for years and years.

Mine is coming.

You have all been witness to a part of it. But something very big is on the way.

VERY big.

There are things in place that will change, hopefully, my entire life. I just have to take a leap on this one, and I just stepped off the ledge. Get ready.

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Part 78

So let’s talk about depression. Let’s talk about things that bother each and every one of us and things that should probably be mentioned as things that affect us. And they might affect us in different ways.

But a lot of us face depression in different forms. I myself have faced it on numerous occasions, and it’s become a companion.

Something I take with me anywhere I go.

But this isn’t necessarily all about me. We all know that these types of self-help blogs only work if they show the problem with an anecdotal concept that the author may have faced, and then provide an answer or suggestion on how to fix it.

Screw that. I’ll do this my way.

So what kind of depression can face us in our daily lives? Currently, I’ve grown a little extra-weary, and have mentioned this before, about getting older. Facing the quarter-life crisis. Thinking that I’m turning 25 soon and I have minimal to show for it.

That’s something I face yearly.

My birthday and getting older is always something that will bother me. It bothers a lot of people. We don’t like to think about getting older, growing more gray, getting another step closer to the grave. But should it scare me so much that I shut myself off, shut myself down from new experiences?

That defeats the purpose of the crisis.

Crises precipitate change. I mentioned change in the last blog. And if you know where that quote comes from, either the original quote itself or which musical group (the all-time greatest hip hop album) used that quote, you can be my best friend.

I digress.

As I said, and you’ll hear this a lot, crises do precipitate change. There are any number of crises facing the world today. Economic, weather-related, health, job market, housing market, you name it, it’s in crisis mode right now.

Which forces all of us to get into crisis mode.

Which ruins our own standard of living.

I mentioned recently about how the stress of the economy is wearing me down. How it’s beating me into the ground everyday to think about how my money means nothing because it’s going nowhere.

Well, it leads to depression.

And how do we fight it?

Some people suggest the power of positive thinking. People like Tony Robbins and Richard Simmons, I’m sure. People that may have had a bout of depression in the past, may have had to live in the shadows of depression.

But what does the power of positive thinking do? Is it any better than just bottling up the rage and anger and pushing it down, further and further, until there is so much rage built up that you eventually just want to explode?

It can be.

The power of positive thinking doesn’t always work for me. I’m not a positive person, by nature. That doesn’t mean it can’t work for you. It can.

Anything can work for you, if you choose to let it.

So positive thinking: take a step back and look at your life. Write a list of pros and cons. Things that are good and things that are bad. People who assist in these situations say writing these things down sometimes takes the power away from them. You can see how truly small it is.

Listing works for some people too. Write all the things that are bothering you today. If it’s something that can’t be fixed in a day, it may help to skip it. If it’s something like getting older, it might be wise to just step back, look closely at it, and realize that is something you have no control over. The only control over it that you have is how you perceive yourself. You may be getting older physically, but if you don’t want to believe yourself to be any older, then don’t.

Simple as that.

So list it out. Pick out something you can change.

Like you don’t like the clothes that you wear. Or your weight.

I had a recent bout with being overweight and I’m working on that. That is something I can physically control in the choices that I make in the foods that I eat, the things that I drink, and the just general choices in my daily life.

I choose to be a little more active, which has helped. I’m eating better, more fruits, veggies, cooking dinner at home, eating much less fast food, imbibing no alcohol (which is tough as I love imbibing) and drinking no soda.

Soda is a big one.

It used to be I get a taste for Dr. Pepper so I drink 2 liters. Or more. In the span of an hour.

I’ve been off soda for a month now, and plan to never go back. With the choices I’ve made there, I’ve lost 20 pounds. In a month, which isn’t the greatest, it could be better, but it will be. So that’s something I can physically control and am.

So now take another look at that list and see if anything else on there is something you can change. You may not be able to change your own outlook on life, but you can certainly try.

I’m a dreamer. I’m an existentialist. I hate sitting and being tied to a desk and having my day doled out to me in assignments, messages, and memos. I like to think of things outside of normalcy. I like to look at things and change the way I look at them.

I don’t believe in absolutes.

So me giving these suggestions, understand that none of them are meant as absolutes.

I was reading an article about surgery that was approved by the Food and Drug administration to help treat depression. It’s called the Vagus Nerve Stimulator implant.

It sounds like a pacemaker. A generator is put into your chest. Your vagus nerve is connected to it and you’re shocked into the brain.

It’s supposed to affect your nerve.

I can’t understand how this could be a good thing? It’s just a lower form of electro-shock therapy, and when has that ever seemed like a good idea? Essentially, you’re electrocuting your brain to start thinking better things, and if that doesn’t work, well, maybe you’ll just nuke the thing and then all your thoughts will be mush anyway.

So whatever, right?

I think positive thinking seems a little more realistic as opposed to shocking your brain into submission.

Other things have worked for me. I’ve never been diagnosed as depressed, but it’s been in my family. My entire family has dealt with it in some way, shape or form before. I’ve had friends kill themselves, I’ve attempted it myself, I’ve been in and around it since I was 10 years old.

We’re getting close to 15 years now.

So strange to think about that.

But things that have worked for me have not really been the power of positive thinking, drugs, alcohol, or anything like that. It’s so much easier.

Take a walk. At night. When it’s quiet out and you can be alone.

Not so much alone with your thoughts, as sometimes being alone with your thoughts can be a very bad thing, but taking a walk always worked for me. It centered me. It put me in a different state of mind. I was outside, in nature, walking alone, and just capable of taking a breath and opening myself up to the things around me. It made me realize I was small in comparison to the world around me, but that didn’t scare me.

It never made me feel insignificant. It just made me feel like a part of everything.

So taking a walk always worked to calm me. Gave me time to center myself. As does meditating.

I’ve gone on record, often, discussing my thoughts on religion, organized or otherwise.

I’m not suggesting zen Buddhism. I’m not suggesting Namaste yoga or focusing your chi or anything like that.

I’m just talking about meditating.

Sitting alone in a room. Focusing on not focusing on anything. Being alone with your thoughts and just centering yourself. Focusing on the things that matter most to you. Pushing the things away that don’t.

Focus only on your breathing. You are entering a cave. There you will meet your power animal.

It’s all about the focus of thoughts. It’s all about you.

Depression is a big, scary, beast of a thing. I’m not telling you that anything I suggest will work for you. I’m only hear to make suggestions. Offer assistance. Tell you things that have helped me in the past and may work wonders for you.

I still struggle with it. I still deal with stuff like depression everyday. It’s a very scary thing. Depression itself precipitates change in the fact that when I face this depression, it forces me to re-evaluate things. Right now, I’m scared of the future because I don’t know what it holds. The big changes I mentioned last time are not health or age-related. They are related to my future. My dreams becoming reality.

I’ve gotten a taste of the thing that I want to do with my life, and it’s within grasp. It’s so close I can taste it. Big things are in store, and it’s scary. It’s scary to think that if it doesn’t work out this time, that it’s back to square one.

But that doesn’t have to scare me anymore.

I’ve gotten further toward my dream than a million other people come in their entire lifetimes. And I’m only 25.

So I have that.

It’s still a long, hard struggle, and the road will be littered with failure. But the change that could come from this will be something so great, something so completely ridiculous and strange, that my life will be different. And that will be scary as well.

But that’s the point. Change is scary. Change is different. But it’s all about rolling with it. Accepting the change. Accepting the world for what it is and changing those things that you can change.

So this is it. This is the start. We’re on the cusp now, so buckle your seatbelts.

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Part 79


Lay-offs. Mortgage crisis. Gay marriage. War. Massive companies going out of business and leaving thousands of workers without a place to go to get away from their families. What the hell are we supposed to do?

Let’s look at the weight of the world and let’s use something I’ve mentioned before that it seems someone may have picked up on. That we need to be the change that the world deserves. We need to be the change that we believe in.

Seems like there was another blog on this here site mentioning the same thing.

This morning I did something very strange, I listened to the radio. I listened to the radio for the first time in a very long time as I drove to work. I never listen to the radio, but something was screaming in my brain to listen to the radio this morning. For some reason. I was compelled.

So I turned the dial and there it was. Afentra, who I hate, was talking to a member of the Phelps family. Who I despise. Anyone who has lived in Kansas or Missouri, watches the news, or pays attention to anything knows who this family is. They’re the absolute worst.

No, I’m not saying they have no right to say what they believe. I’m all about freedom of speech. One of the things I back above and beyond anything else in this world. So I would never say they have no right to say what they believe.

But I don’t agree with that dipshit family in any way, shape, or form.

Something you may already know is how I feel about “gay” marriage. I think it’s stupid to call it gay marriage just because two gay people are getting married. It’s marriage. It’s two people coming together out of love and spending their lives together because they choose to love that person and want to spend the rest of their life with that other person.

Now, anyone who wants to Bible-thump at me, feel free. I’m not going to listen. I’m a staunch non-believer, for all intents and purposes, I’m an atheist. That’s my choice.

So living in Lawrence for 4 years was a big struggle because every time I saw one of those idiots from the Phelps family with their stupid signs saying God hates Fags or God Hates America, I wanted to explode. I wanted to smash my fist against each and every one of their faces and just take my anger out on them. For believing that horseshit.

I can’t remember the exact number of times I came across them on campus. I know one was during a Free Music Friday near the Union when a damn near riot almost broke out. I know that they were in front of the Lied Center as my friends and I made our way to see George Carlin give an amazing show. I know they are generally there around graduations.

So I’ve been around them. I’ve seen them. And listening to them spit their bile and talk their bullshit makes me want to just go violent and fly into a rage. My wife said that’s what they want.

But you know, again who wants to Bible-thump at me, feel free, but here’s where I wanted to take this:

If God hates America, why do the Phelps still live here? Why does their crusade against gay people involve going to rallies being held for rights for all people? Why does it include going to funerals or social events that pretty much have nothing to do with equal rights for all people?

And how do we contain them?

Anyone who is going to the rally on Saturday against Prop 8, be prepared. They will probably be there. They will probably be there, spewing their hate speech just like the Nazis did against Jews in World War 2, but they’ll be protected by the first amendment and there is nothing we can do about it.

But is that true? Is there nothing we can do?

We can ignore them. Give their words no power. If they get violent, we get more violent and I’ll be right there on the frontlines to go after them and stop Fred Phelps before he can eradicate a group of people that should be allowed to live their lives however they damn well choose. Just like Hitler before him. So yes, I am boiling down his followers to Nazis. Freedom of speech says I can, so I just did.

Because the Bible also talks about loving your neighbor. Being good to everyone. Opening your homes and your arms for people of all colors, creeds, sexual orientation. But I guess you idiots who think otherwise don’t pay attention to the New Testament and only see God in the vengeful creator way.

And if that’s the case, good luck. Because you’ll be burning in hell just like everybody else.

Next topic, as I’m sure I’ll talk at length about that for a long period of time (good job Connecticut on allowing gay marriage, I’m proud of you. Too bad I live in a state that’s not progressive enough to realize that all people deserve the same rights as us atheists and heathens).

Car makers of the US: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_t4oY2AFkthw/SRt2pkmsyDI/AAAAAAAAD9s/zq8AjN18pFw/s1600-h/american-auto-industry.jpg

Why is it that us bleeding heart liberals are killing America? Is it because we choose not to drive American made cars if we can at all help it? Buy American electronics (haha)?

I mean, how many of you readers bought an American made TV in the last few years?

Exactly.

You see, with GM going down the drain yet again, we’re left with a big gaping question: what the hell does the government do about that?

With the bailouts going around, who’s to say the government isn’t going to bail them out and help them sustain while they drain down the tubes?

They probably will.

The government is going to bail out anybody and everybody who they think can assist in stimulating our terrible economy.

Anybody except for you and me.

You see, I do work for a company that does a ton of business in the US. Last I heard, my company wasn’t facing bankruptcy and lay-offs like Cerner, DHL, GM, Sprint Nextel (every year! Why do people keep going and getting jobs there). Hell, even Garmin is having trouble.

But who’s getting bailed out? Auto manufacturers. Banks.

But not the people who truly stimulate the economy.

People with a wall of credit card debt facing them down every day and people with school bills and who knows how many other bills they are faced with month after month after month.

Mortgage crisis is on its way as more people lose their houses and their jobs every single day. But we aren’t being saved.

We aren’t being picked up and assisted in our time of need even though our country continues to fight a losing war against terror and a losing war against the fallout of the economy following one of the worst presidents in history.

It’s terrible.

I constantly wish that life was more like movies. That I could escape into a different world and be faced with the choices that the narrator in Fight Club had to face (the movie, not necessarily the book, even though that would also be exciting).

Think about the end of that movie. Think about the experiment being presented to the world in destroying all the financial institutions and giving us a chance to start over. What would happen if each and every credit card user was given a do-over?

Do you think they would save their money or do you think they would immediately go out and spend spend spend just like they used to?

I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but it’s clear as day.

They would amass the same debt, if not more, and they would then be assisting in providing the economy it’s own refresh button. Because they’d be pumping that money back into the economy, buying things they didn’t need or buying new cars.

Like the ones built by GM.

It’s all relative.

Everything is.

Especially if you’re a Christian who thinks that God is protecting you by making gay marriage not a right that people deserve.

I mean, do you really need your house, your job, your car, your life, when you have God to protect you. God acts as roof, labor, and everything you need, so why don’t you give up your home for people that desperately need it?

People that are homeless. Jobless.

People who are suffering. But see, you’re probably sitting on your throne and saying, well, I worked hard to get where I am, and God will protect them too.

It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it?

So what choice do we have left? How do we make the change that we want? Can we? Can we actually make change when faced with these harsh choices, with these horrible things that face us?

I mean, the economy is so bad, that NBC just cancelled My Own Worst Enemy and Lipstick Jungle. Is there no justice?

But seriously folks, what change do you want?

Do you want the world to wake up and realize that the reason these institutions are failing is because no one believes in them? The reason that the world doesn’t work may have something to do with church and state not being as separate as they should be?

Do you make wishes on stars or pray to a spirit in the sky that protects you to make things better? And do they ever?

It’s all about choice.

Just like it always has been and just like it always will be. God isn’t going to get you a better job when you get laid off from Sprint.

You are. God isn’t going to pay off the debt that you’ve accrued in your lifetime. You are.

God isn’t going to save General Motors. The government is.

But we only have ourselves to rely on. It’s strange how much the world continues to look and feel like a strange variation on a theme, like you walked through a door and entered a different dimension, one very similar to the old one, but not so much. It’s strange to think that one day I was living in belief of a higher power and the next I wasn’t.

But I feel free and clear living my own life. Living my own plan.

I’m not scared of going to hell for speaking my own mind or living my own life because I’ve made a choice. A choice that works for me. I work at the company I work for by choice. I own the things that I own by choice. I don’t feel like blaming other people for the way the world is, but if it was my choice, there would be some changes made.

That’s for sure.

So here’s what we have to do: make a choice. Do you need a new car? Do you need a new job? Do you need a home bigger and more expensive than the one you already own? Do you need to live outside of your means? Do you deserve the right to damn someone else just because they love someone?

Do you deserve a right that someone else doesn’t?

Shouldn’t we all get a choice here?

******************************************

Part 80


Losing your job and losing your friends. What is the world coming to?

This has been a very tough year for the people who know me. In the past, I’ve felt like a blight to those people around me, like a virus that sucks all the good out of their lives and leaves them a worthless husk. Like the grim reaper, only my influence isn’t felt in the death of themselves, just in the death of something they care about.

5 years ago was the last time I really felt like that. When my grandma died, an old friend from school died in a car crash, another friend killed himself, a relationship ended, and my whole world was left shaken to the core.

Now this time, my world has been shaken again.

6 people I know have lost their jobs at some point this year.

6.

6 people. Family, friends, my spiritual advisor, friends of family and family of friends. Each lost their jobs in the face of this immensely staggering deficit that faces the country and that throws their world and all of our worlds for a loop.

How is that possible? How is it that certain people lose their jobs while others, who do zero to no work or give zero to no effort, continue to work and continue to see green and see position changes and possible new opportunities? How does that work out?

Probably because those people who do move on to bigger and better things haven’t made it a habit of ever knowing me or being a part of my life.

I know that it’s ridiculous to think, and it probably is. But I cause a stir in a lot of things. Read some of my older blogs. Ones about gay marriage and rights. Ones about freedom of choice. I stir the pot. That’s what I do. And the people who know me are the ones who usually get burnt by the backdraft.

So where does that leave me?

When you have a friend or a number of friends who lose their jobs, what do you do? Do you leave them, penniless and alone, and let them struggle to live their lives with any modicum of respect or anything resembling their old life? Or do you step in and assist them?

Being that I feel guilty, in some crazy way, I step in. I offer assistance. A warm home. A home-cooked meal. Money if needed. I do what I can and provide an ear and a strong shoulder to cry on if they need it.

But that’s not what this blog is about. This blog is about spreading yourself thin for the people that you care about. It’s about forgetting about yourself to the point of breaking. It’s about giving too much of yourself away for others so that they can be happy.

It’s about how much worse you can make things for everyone that way.

Picture it this way: if you have had a lifetime of depression, the people around you have a lifetime of depression, and you’re feeling blue, you’re feeling down, you need someone to talk to, what do you do when the person you want to talk to is feeling the same way only a little more amplified at that point?

Do you bottle up your rage?

Do you hide it all away?

Do you forget about their feelings and just ride yours down into oblivion?

If you’re trying to be a good friend, you probably hide them away. Hide them for another time when you can get back to them and feel them a little more strongly.

But where does that get you?

It gets you stuck. Alone. In a dark room in the middle of the night. With no one to turn to and nothing to do but scream or cry or let loose all the rage and break a bone in your hand.

It leaves you wanting some form of personal interaction that you’re missing at that point. And being a loner doesn’t work so well at that point as it just leaves you cold.

But the people who need you still need you. MSN had a link about this yesterday or the day before. What do you do for those people who have lost their jobs? And their answer was don’t be an ATM and just keep giving them money. Be more personal and give them a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, and just be there for them.

That doesn’t always work though.

So you’re spreading it thinner and thinner for the people who need you.

You’re going to a place that you hate so that you can pay bills. You’re smiling your way through the day as you curse it on the inside. You’re screaming for something different. But you’re suffering through for a purpose.

Because your curse is to carry the grief that all these other people have. Because you choose to do so.

One of my biggest pet peeves, right now, is how often I spend listening to other people. Opening up my home and my time to people who need me and then getting nothing in return. Offering a safe voice for someone to listen to. A sounding board if someone else has problems.

My old best friend and I used to talk about personal things. Things like life. Drama. Depression. Sadness. Being scared of getting older. Now my sounding board for all of that is whoever reads this blog and thinks that I’m a psychopath for airing my dirty laundry on a website.

But in the beauty of the internet, the anonymous is king. I’ve never given you my real name, and I probably never will. Nor have I made most associations known to you. But I’m not a liar.

This is me, airing grievances.

This time of year does this to me. Every time. My 25th birthday is right around the corner. A downward spiral is following me as it approaches because in the 24 years of my life, I’ve rarely had a good birthday. A good Christmas. A good season of real cheer. Christmas has been about disappointments for as long as I can remember, and I’m trying this year not to believe that that will happen. But I can’t.

I’m a pessimist.

So I stand before you as a man who is offering you advice. Offering you the choice to listen and to change your world. To not follow my path but to follow one that could be a little clearer and a little easier to handle.

Just because I’ve dealt with depression does not make me an authority. Just because I have a hard time in the Christmas season does not make me a motivational speaker.

Growing up Catholic and then denouncing it will do that to you. You’re still left with the good old Catholic guilt, but none of the beliefs, faith, hope, or ability to seek a higher power.

But this is me, seeking out a higher power.

A higher truth.

I want to find out that the people who lost their jobs and had to restart a major part of their lives didn’t have to do it because of some stupid whim on some stupid company cutting costs. I want to believe that the world isn’t a dark and scary place that beats us down, destroys our good will, and then shapes it into something resembling a dark bile.

I want to believe that my friends and family would go out on the same limb for me that I always do, but I can’t. I don’t think that way and I don’t see it. I just see my side. My side where everything has been spread so thin that there’s nothing left for me to give, not much left for me to offer.

And that’s the point.

When people need you, you have to hold something back for yourself. You can’t give everything of yourself up for them. You can’t shape their world for them as yours crumbles around you. You can’t lift them off the ground and pick up their pieces when yours are still spread in a million different directions.

You can’t help them if you’re beyond the help that you can offer.

It’s a strange world we live in and we’re making it stranger every day. Don’t follow my path.

Don’t believe what I say.

But do remember that friendships, familial bonds, and everything that shape who you are depends on yourself first and the other party second. But that other party is crucial.

If the people who you are helping, who you offer help to, are never going to give help back, are never going to be available when you need it most, then the one-sidedness of that just continues to turn you into a doormat.

And doormats are only good for cleaning shit off our shoes.

***************************************************

Part 81


Rock Band vs. Guitar Hero World Tour:

Recently, I was made aware by a few people that my blogs were getting a little on the angry side again. A little more angsty and a little more difficult to read.

So in the spirit of the upcoming holidays, I thought, why not do a blog about giving thanks? That might be next week.

Probably Tuesday or Wednesday.

What about doing a blog about Christmas? Eh. I’ll do that later.

So instead, I will do a variation on a theme and discuss certain things, one of them being the all-important question on everyone’s mind:

Rock Band or Guitar Hero World Tour?

Now I’m speaking from experience as I’ve played both Rock Band 1 and 2 and Guitar Hero 2-World Tour. I’ve played them on Wii, PS3, PS2, and XBOX 360. So I’ve seen them in different forms.

But I will be discussing the odds and ends on which one you should pick for your loved one, whether it be son, brother, dad, husband, boyfriend, nephew, niece, sister, mom, girlfriend, wife, or grandparents.

This is the way I see it on these games and that’s it. It’s still going to be your choice, but from the horse’s mouth, this is the way I see it. Also, there is more to discuss once this is done, so we’ll be following it with a bit of news.

Songs:

This is one thing that should be on everyone’s minds.

This is the one part of both games that should come into contention for all of you as you’re deciding which one to pick.

Now Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour both have 16 songs that correspond with each. Once you get past that, each game has a total of 84-86 songs that are playable (having to unlock some as you go).

The big difference is the downloadable content. Not only can you play Rock Band 1 songs with Rock Band 2 equipment (and vice versa), but you can unlock all 58 Rock Band songs with an easy download, not to mention hundreds of downloadable songs that you could download for the first game.

And here is that list:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_downloadable_songs_for_the_Rock_Band_series

Over 300 extra songs.

Add to that the 20 downloadable songs that are being made available for Rock Band 2 in the upcoming days (if not already) as well as whatever insane amount of downloads that come out for that one as well (something like 500+ downloadable songs and full albums even) and you’re left with both a hefty price for the new content, but hours upon hours of playing pleasure.

And the songs run the gamut.

Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails as well as The Pretenders, Buzzcocks, Black Crowes, Grateful Dead, Boston, and all over the place. They’ve even got Stephen and the Colberts. One thing you won’t find is Tool, which you then can find on Guitar Hero World Tour.

That’s about the biggest difference unless you’re really looking forward to playing Jimi Hendrix and bands similar to that. Downloadable content includes Metallica, Boston, Foreigner, Rick Springfield, Blind Melon, Ted Nugent, REM, and a few others. Paltry now, but soon to grow.

One thing people have been championing about Guitar Hero World Tour is the fact that you can make your own music.

There’s a problem with that. You can’t add vocals.

So strike one.

You have to rely on the instruments you can purchase for this game.

Strike two.

And big strike three: you make no money off the song or the overall use of that song by other players, but you can be certain that Activision is currently trying to find away to make some scratch off of you.

http://www.gamedaily.com/articles/news/guitar-hero-world-tour-sees-25000-usergenerated-songs/?biz=1

A subscription opportunity, meaning that Bobby Kotick and the jerks over at Activision see your songs as a way for them to make money, and give you none of it. Seems downright illegal to me, but I guess if people are dumb enough to allow them to do it, that’s on you then. Me, if I want to make music, I’m going to do it the old-fashioned way.

With a drum machine and a computer.

Winner: Rock Band

Instruments

This is the one people came to see. This is the one most people are interested in. Rock Band 2 had the ability to create a drumset, guitar, microphone combo set that included everything you’d need to start a band and that included doing what they had done before and just doing it better.

Better peripherals on the guitar (read: more guitar-like and a little heavier), a drumset that is a little sturdier and wireless, and a new microphone that catches everything.

Guitar Hero World Tour rushed out shoddy pieces of equipment in order to make a quick buck and beat the holiday rush and then threw it all on you, the fans, to fix and pay for later on.

Best showing of this: the drumset for GHWT is horrible.

Poorly built (like slapping a couple pieces of PVC together in order to make a pipe-bomb) and then poorly packaged, the system here is just to be quick and pointless. The drumset for hundreds if not thousands of people broke within minutes to hours of gameplay. Not because of smashing your hands and sticks against the heads, but from just shoddy craftsmanship.

http://kotaku.com/5068898/guitar-hero-world-tour-facing-drum-issues

Now that’s all well and good, but read some of the comments at the bottom. It costs you money to ship, they give you a hard time, and then when you finally get the new set, you’re better off fixing it yourself as opposed to sending it in because you save money that way and get to play your game.

Now, I’ve had Rock Band one drums for awhile now, and they work just fine still. I’ve had no issues. My friends and I get together to play this quite often. One of them likes to hit the drums quite hard. But I know, from experience, that if I did have an issue with the drums, Harmonix replaces them for free, pays you for the shipping charges, and gives you the new set, not the old.

Again, a friend of mine followed this curse.

The guitars for World Tour, I will admit, are better. But the rest of the set is ridiculous. The drums may have 5 parts to them, with the two cymbals and the three heads, but it’s a poorly crafted piece of junk that does not work past about a week if not sooner. Not only that, but in Rock Band 1 and 2 the “starpower” upgrade during the game is much easier to do (which I will get to in Gameplay). GHWT has a pretty stupid method to do that.

Winner: Rock Band

Gameplay

You may think I’m biased after this one, but reading all the news articles that show a definite bias toward Guitar Hero left me a little cold and I felt it was my duty to say something.

Rock Band is built for picking up and playing for whatever period of time you want to play. If you want to train, pick it up on a lazy Sunday like my wife does and practice. Grab the guitar, the drums, the microphone, and try your hand at any part of them. If you want to dominate and go on a tour of the globe, grab some friends and start to rock or go on a solo gig and just own all those songs on whichever instrument you desire.

Guitar Hero seems built for the ultra-lazy player, the one who doesn’t want to really start a band but would rather just play by him or herself. The gameplay is standard Guitar Hero, punch some buttons, string some chords, and you rock the song.

But if you’re singing, good luck.

Depending on the resolution of the TV or the quality of the system you’ve purchased it on, you better have the liner notes handy or you will not be able to read the lyrics, whether in static mode or scrolling. That was one thing that could have been good about that. But alas. No.

The other thing that my wife pointed out while attempting to rock as a group in GHWT was the lack of direction in the instruction book. Pick up the book for Rock Band 1 or 2 and they delve into the songs, they delve into the gameplay, they tell you what certain things do and how to do them. Guitar Hero World Tour relies on the player to either get online to figure it out or just play through it.

If I hadn’t been told how to get starpower on drums in GHWT, I never would have figured it out. But you have to hit both cymbals at the same time, missing at least 2 notes while you’re attempting this, to rock out. In Rock Band 1 and 2, you are given a portion of the song with which to just cut loose and hit any drumhead you want, and that blasts you into starpower (so long as you hit the last note needed correctly).

Much simpler, much easier, and just so much more awesome.

Another difference on say, the Wii version of GHWT, while singing, you have to hit the A button to power up. So I hit the A button every few seconds to just do it, whatever. In Rock Band, if you hit the notes correctly and kick ass on the song, boom, you get powered up and you just sing to your heart’s content. Easy enough.

The one thing my wife liked about Guitar Hero was the ability to just strum on beginner mode. Which is nice for true beginners. But the difference between beginner and easy is such a jump that even someone who has played both would not be able to make the jump without struggling.

So the game is for those people who’ve played Guitar Hero before. Not very user-friendly.

Winner: Rock Band

Overall worth and enjoyability: again, Rock Band takes this category too. It was one-sided, I’ll admit, but having been dealt frustration while playing Guitar Hero World Tour and just enjoying myself while playing Rock Band regardless of how well I do, I feel that it makes sense. There is only so much frustration I like to deal with when playing video games, video games that are supposed to be a fun-filled time, something you do as a hobby.

Not something that pisses you off.

I have more fun in general on Rock Band. My friends, wife and I have created about 5 different bands between the two games. All of them ridiculous. All of them crazy. And just an insane amount of fun. Picking a name first, getting points and earning money, and then getting to go back and decide what would a character like Momar Van Der Camp or Cherries Barnaby wear while rocking? What would Dr. Jasper Belmont do, or what would a band of Mad Max rejects look like on stage together?

And they always look awesome.

Sometimes it’s a bunch of fun to just pick up the game, scroll through the clothes, and pick out crazy outfits. Pick out new looks. And just change everything about the character.

That’s where the fun is. That and all the Battle of the Bands, the Tug of War, and all the extra things you can do in Rock Band 1 and 2 makes that the game to buy.

So those are my thoughts on this battle. Rock Band is the series to follow. They love their fans and they believe in their game. They don’t have to rely on supermodels and sports stars to sell their game. They don’t have to have Tony Hawk roll in on his skateboard while faking his way through a drum solo in a commercial.

Have you seen Rock Band’s commercials? They play the song and show regular people playing them with their instruments. Regular people like you and me. People who can actually afford this game as opposed to the constant stream of having to buy and re-buy drumsets for Guitar Hero World Tour.

Next time, we give thanks. And maybe talk about D-Rex!

*****************************************************

Part 82


Things to be thankful for this time of year:

You know, I’m not that big a fan of the holiday season. I worked retail for a long period of time and I absolutely despise the way people act in the holiday spirit when they go shopping, especially the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday, Green Friday, whatever you want to call it.

Most businesses say it’s the greatest shopping day of the year. I’m sure the people in Washington are looking to that day as the day the economy bounces back as everyone goes out shopping at 4 am for deals on shit they don’t need just because it’s on sale.

I mean, look at Circuit City right now. People are buying crap there that has obviously been marked up 20% and then put on sale for 10% off. It’s insane.

But people see deals so they start buying.

So here is my list of things I am thankful for, in no specific order.

NOT WORKING RETAIL

I realized this recently, more power to you if you have a full-time job as well as a second job in retail or food service this holiday season or any holiday season. Seriously, more power to you.

You’re stronger than I. I worked retail or in customer service in some aspect (and still do) for about 8 years straight. I hated it. I worked at all the major chains. All the major electronics stores, retail stores, big savings stores. And I hated every minute of it. All told, no joke, I’ve had about 30+ jobs in my lifetime. And I’m still not even 25.

But that’s not the point.

I’m thankful that I’m not working retail this year because I would probably hurt, maim, or massacre someone this year. I was recently at the Target on 119th and Blue Valley Parkway this past weekend just doing some quick looking around, getting ideas for my nephew and for other family members. Just looking.

Not really harming anyone.

And Johnson County parents have officially become the last group of people that I want to see in any capacity for the rest of the holiday season. I know they’re not all bad, but on 4 different occurrences in the same Target store, some asshole mom or dad pushed their way either right in front of me or right through me.

A woman hit me with her cart while looking through the DVD section and didn’t even say excuse me. Didn’t say anything. Just looked at me and looked right back at the shelves.

It’s insane to think that I lasted 8 years without hurting someone. I went off on her. I called her some nasty words. I threw my hands in the air in disgust and stormed off out of the section, thanking me for letting me know that I was lower than her on the shopping totem pole and letting me know, by hitting me with her cart and not having the decency to say I’m sorry, that I wasn’t worth her time.

It’s amazing. I’m all but certain she went on with her life, shopping and picking out other presents, and treating the people at the registers like crap or the people stocking shelves like they were nothing more than slaves there to do her bidding.

So I’m thankful I don’t work retail, otherwise, you might have seen me in the news for something terrible and big.

OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT

What a relief. What a soaring victory. What an awesome day.

It’s strange to be on the winning side of an argument about politics once in my life since every election before this that I had been able to vote in my side had lost. So obviously, I’m voting democrat. Big surprise I’m sure.

But it was a great day because the person I believed in, the person who I felt was smart, very well-spoken, a decent, hard-working man and one who actually deserved to be president and deserved to be in office (not just because he felt he deserved it because he had been a POW) was elected to be our next president.

The fact of race doesn’t come into the equation. I was just proud that we elected a smart person to lead us again, as opposed to some idiot who we thought would be a good drinking buddy.

On that same occasion, I was brought down and am completely ungrateful for what happened in California. But it’s just one of those things. We took a step forward and two steps back by way of progression. I am thankful that that means there is more work to do at making our country a better place, but it’s still ridiculous to think that we would take rights away from people that deserve them just as much as the idiots who took those rights away from them.

FRANK MILLER: DIRECTOR

I’m not so much thankful for this. The Spirit looks like shit. I’m thankful in a different way.

I’m thankful that this movie will probably bomb. And if it doesn’t bomb, than he may leave comics forever. So I’m thankful one way or the other. The guy who wrote Robocop 2 and 3 and currently writes one of the worst comic books of all-time (All-Star Batman and Robin) deserves none of your money. He deserves to be unceremoniously retired for destroying comics and making them everything parents hate and giving parents the perfect argument against them.

Fascist. Drivel. Not worth their child’s time or money.

But think about this: now he’s making movies, and some people are actually excited for them. Which boggles my mind. Yes, Sin City was a direct adaptation of his work, that’s fine, Sin City transcended the suckiness of the comic because his artwork wasn’t on screen. Had it been on-screen, people would have thought that a child had drawn the pictures and no one would have seen it (especially me). But if you fill the screen with actors and actresses that people generally like or are interested in seeing, you will create interest in a film.

The Spirit, not so much. Sam Jackson and the women are the big draws of this film. Sam Jackson was in Snakes on a Plane. Scarlett Johansson sure can’t sell a movie (any of her recent Woody Allen flops). Neither can Eva Mendes. Nor can they act their way out of a paper bag.

Throw in an unknown as the title character and a plot that sounds like Sin City part 2 (only set in a comic universe where people are supposed to smile and come out during the daylight and not at night only) and you’ve got what probably will be a spectacular flop. Fingers crossed. One way or the other, I either won’t have to see his comics at the store any longer, or I won’t see his name attached to a film ever again. So one way or the other, I win.

DARREN ARONOFSKY AND DAVID FINCHER

I am thankful that people are paying attention to one of Darren’s films. I’ve been saying for years that he’s one of the best directors working in the business. Him and David Fincher. Now both have movies releasing this year with big draws and big names in them. Both have people paying attention.

And the press is following the stories.

It makes me happy. It makes my love of The Fountain seem slightly vindicated. If you’ve never seen that movie, put it on your Netflix queue or rent it or just buy it. Best Buy sometimes sells it for like 5 bucks on DVD. It’s worth it.

It’s a love story from the director of Requiem for a Dream by way of science fiction. It’s beautiful. It’s gorgeous. It’s heartbreaking.

I can’t wait to see The Wrestler and I can’t wait to see Benjamin Button. Two of my most anticipated movies of the year and both are on their way out.

COMIC BOOK MOVIES

Now this is another of those give and take relationships. For every Dark Knight, there’s another Punisher. For every Iron Man, there’s a Spirit.

There are 75 comic movies in the works as we speak, and probably more to follow every day. So I’m thankful that Hollyweird is feeling the need to make comic book movies, but I’m not thankful that they’re doing it to specifically make money. Not for the fans. Not for the love of the comics. They just see it as a cash cow and a quick buck and all of us are proving them right.

Just like viewers did with a Twilight movie. You put someone’s favorite comic or literary character on screen and people will see it. It makes sense. It’s like remakes. You add a little spice to an old idea of a film that people loved, and people might go see it (case in point: The Day The Earth Stood Still).

Comic book movies and comics in general are close to my heart, but with the current spate of films being made based on anything and everything comic, I feel the need to be worried, because the bubble will burst, it always does. And at that point, they’ll give the Superman franchise to the guy who wrote the Wanted comic book.

SUCCESS

As I mentioned previously, I’m slowly starting to dip my feet into something big. And my not wanting to jinx it is what has kept my mouth shut so far. I hate to keep baiting you into thinking I’m going to give you hints, but it will be big. You will notice it. You will hear about it. But you won’t know it’s me.

It’s just strange to feel successful in a fashion like this, something I’ve been trying my hand at for years. And every day is a new adventure and something wonderful. So I’m thankful for the new friends and relationships I am making because of this leap I’ve taken as well as the continued working relationship I’ve created with these people. Add that to my friends and family, and it’s starting to look like I’m kicking depression’s ass.

Beyond that, I’m losing weight. It’s a struggle as there are so many things I want to eat that I shouldn’t, but I’ve dropped some nice numbers of weight in the last month and I want to keep it trending down.

So fingers crossed on that as well.

REMAKES

No wait, I’m not thankful for those. I hate remakes.

I’m obviously at a loss after those. I could go on and on about what I’m thankful for like family and friends and my wife and our awesome cat. But I won’t. It’s just one of those things where enough’s enough. Have a great holiday and I’ll see you back here sometime later this week for more new stuff. And maybe a little more news about my mystery.

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