Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fatty's Favorite Records of All Time!!

The year's drawing to a close and it seems like a good time to take stock of things.  When I say "things", I mean my favorite movies and music albums ever. Because that's what's really important, right?

I did a list of my 20 favorite a while back and I broke things up into decades, so it looked like I know more about music than I actually do.  But when I'm very honest with myself, I have to admit that, while I wish my favorite records were by hip, cool pop bands or respectable punk bands (or Led Zeppelin), the truth is that I LOVE crappy music.  Bad, long-haired metal.  That was the music that made me fall in love with music in the first place.  So, this current list more accurately reflects the music I love, even though I know it's bad.  These are my all-time 20 favorite record albums.  Read 'em and weep.

20.


Cherry Pie by Warrant

Why it's here: Because this record contains a near-perfect combination of catchy hooks, loud guitars, and sophomoric lyrics.  Because the video for the title track is seared into my memory like it was my first kiss (not all that impressive, really) or my first acid trip (still waiting on that one).  And because the riff from "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was one of the first rock riffs I learned to play and it sealed my desire to play loud rock guitar.

The best thing about it: It's vapid, dopey, and about as deep as a birdbath, but it's FUN.

19.


Back for the Attack by Dokken

Why it's here:  Between George Lynch's searing licks and Don Dokken's soaring vocals, Back for the Attack was full of virtuoso performances.  Lynch's guitars sounded like the stuff nightmares are made of, and that's a good thing.  And "Kiss of Death" is still one of the best opening tracks I've ever heard, making you NEED to hear what the rest of the record sounds like.

The best thing about it: George Lynch's screaming lead tone.  This was the first record where I was drawn to the guitar solos because of how they sounded instead of how many notes were jammed into them.

18.


Twilight of the Thunder God by Amon Amarth

Why it's here: A lot of themed metal bands are very hard for me to take seriously.  Not Amon Amarth.  Holy shit, these dudes are scary.  Singer Johan Hegg's deep, booming roar sounds like Galactus's tummy grumbles when he hasn't eaten for a while.  The rest of the band is as heavy as heavy gets, but the riffs are catchy, even melodic and hummable.  If you're looking for a soundtrack for Ragnarok, or if you just want some kick-ass tunes to drive around to, look no further.

The best thing about it: The half-time riff midway through the title track.  So heavy, so moshy, so awesome!!

17.


King of Clubs by Paul Gilbert

Why it's here: When metal died off here in the States, I found that I really enjoyed singing along with my car stereo.  The only problem was that the folks singing on most my CDs were much better than I was, and I felt embarrassed trying to keep up with them.  Gilbert, former (and current?) axeman for Mr. Big, solved that for me by putting out this collection of hooky, singable songs and by having a voice that's not any better than mine.  SCORE!!

The best thing about it: Getting caught singing along with it at a stop light and getting a round of applause from the car next to me.  Yes, that actually happened once.

16. 


Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses

Why it's here: Because it sounded like pissed-off Axl Rose was sneering and yowling over a bed of a billion pissed-off guitars.  And Duff McKagan's bass made me take notice.  And Steven Adler's drumming was monstrous.  But mostly because Appetite was way more pissed off than the whole hair rocker crowd while not being as scary as a lot of heavier metal bands.  Yes, there was a time when really heavy bands scared me.

The best thing about it: Slash's bad-ass solos proved to me the you could say more with two well-chosen notes than you could with a billion poorly-chosen notes.

15.


Ashes of the Wake by Lamb of God

Why it's here: For a long time, I was out of metal, choosing to jam out to the sweet melodies and buzzsaw guitars of power pop bands.  With Ashes, Lamb of God slapped me upside the head, woke my ass up, and pulled me back into metal.  Plus, it made me wanna get better at plying guitar, though that hasn't really happened yet...

The best thing about it: The title track, an instrumental guitar-gasm that's so chock full of shredding leads and killer riffing, it could be a course on how to play metal guitar all on its own.

14.



Weezer (The Blue Album) by Weezer

Why it's here: In the middle of the glum and gloomy 90s, there was this oasis of fun, tuneful, silly songs about choo choo trains, surf boards, and vacations.  Not only that, but "Buddy Holly" would have you singing along by the second chorus, even if you didn't know the song.  And it all ends in a beautiful climax of feedback and guitar noise on "Only In Dreams".  It's a perfect crank-it-up-and-sing-along record, and it convinced me that I could write and sing my own songs on guitar.  A good time and an inspiration.  What more can you ask for?

The best thing about it: Either the rush that comes over you during the finale of "Only In Dreams" or the feeling of power that comes while singing "Say It Ain't So" at the top of your lungs.  I haven't decided yet.

13.


We Are In Love by Harry Connick, Jr.

Why it's here: My buddy James used to drive around in an old orange Subaru hatchback, with this record playing, and singing along.  It didn't take too long for me to get into singing along with Harry, too.  More than any other album, We Are In Love is responsible for my love of singing along with my car stereo.  And that's one of my favorite things.

The best thing about it: That you don't need a lyrics sheet to figure out what he's singing.

12.


Axis: Bold As Love by Jimi Hendrix

Why it's here: Anybody who tries to play rock guitar these days owes Jimi a debt.  The dude influenced sooooo many guitarists, who in turn influenced even more players, that you're proboably influenced by Jimi, even if it's an indirect influece.  This is my favorite Hendrix record.  It contains my favorite Hendrix track ("Spanish Castle Magic"... So heavy...), and it opened up a new world of blues, soul, and R & B guitar playing to me.

The best thing about it: I love that this record opens with an intervew between a talk show host and an alien.  I've often wondered if Jimi was actually from another world.  He was just so far ahead of everybody else...

11.


Powerslave by Iron Maiden

Why it's here: Dave Murray and Adrian Smith are one of the greatest guitar tag teams in metal.  Their harmonies, solo trade-offs, and galloping riffs indoctrinated a whole generation of guitar players, myself included.  And Bruce Dickenson's wail is one of the most god-like wails in metal.  This record jumps into the fray with "Aces High" and just never stops.

The best thing about it: The imagination and the way Dickenson told stories with the lyrics.  Many country "artists" pride themselves being musical storytellers, but the storytelling in Maiden tunes blows all those country guys and gals away.

10.


Pornograffitti by Extreme

Why it's here: Simply put, this is here because I wanted to be Nuno Bettencourt after I heard this record.  I wanted to be as cool as him.  I wanted to look like him.  Most of all, I want to play guitar like him.  Plus, the songs are pretty catchy, and this band could throw down some jaw-droppingly pretty music when they wanted to.

The best thing about it: If you weren't careful, you could make "Get the Funk Out" sound an awful lot like "Get the F**k Out".  It was kinda funny.

9. 


Persistence of Time by Anthrax

Why it's here: I loved a lot of older Anthrax tunes, stuff like "Madhouse",  "Caught in a Mosh", and "Be All End All".  But I didn't really love Anthrax until I heard this record.  It's heavy.  It's brutal.  It's not stuffed full of jokes or pop culture references.  There's nothing wrong with jokes or pop culture references, but sometimes you just want a metal band to kick ass.  And, good Hell, does Anthrax kick ass on P.o.T.  The surprise of it all is probably why I love this record so much.

The best thing about it: The triple-punch combo of  "Intro to Reality", "Belly of the Beast", and "Got the Time".  You get a tuneful instrumental track that leads into a pretty kicking, brutal metal tune, which in turn segues into a surprisingly awesome cover of a Joe Jackson song.  Good stuff!

8.


Strength by Enuff Z'Nuff

Why it's here: I have a weakness for music featuring catchy vocal melodies and loud guitars.  So how could I not love a band that sounds like the "hair metal Beatles"?  Z'Nuff actually got forced into doing the whole hair metal thing by their label, but they later evolved into a stellar power pop outfit.  But this album has so many awesome, sticky choruses, so many fun to sing along with hooks, and so much harmonized vocal beauty, that it's their best work, for my money.  Plus, "Goodbye" is the best power ballad I've ever heard.

The best thing about it: "Time To Let You Go", the record's closing track, is perfect, beautiful, weepy, acoustic guitar-driven perfection.

7.


Diary of a Madman by Ozzy Osbourne

Why it's here: There were a bunch of guys who tried to fuse metal guitar to classical music composition.  Most of them were kind of wankers who just used the endeavor as an excuse to spray a billion notes in all directions.  But Randy Rhoads was different.  He used classical concepts to add drama and epicness to Ozzy's songs.  And, in my opinion, it never got better than it did on "Diary".

The best thing about it: The creepy opening acoustic guitar on the title track.  It makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

6.


As Daylight Dies by Killswitch Engage

Why it's here: The riffs, the arrangements, Howard Jones's singing/screaming...  It's all awesome.  But what puts this record over the top for me is the guitar sound.  It's thick, it's juicey, it's lush...  It's beautiful in its own way.  This record also has to be here due to the sheer number of times I've listened to it without getting sick of it.  Seriously, I've spun this record A LOT.

The best thing about it: Imagining all the shit Adam D gave the rest of the band while making this record.  Stuff like that makes me laugh.

5.


Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan

Why it's here: This record was my gateway into the blues. And it taught me how much power a clean guitar tone could contain.  Nuff said.

The best thing about it: The amount of energy SRV puts into every note.  And the amount of feeling he wrings out of each note.

4.


Defenders of the Faith by Judas Priest

Why it's here:  Because this is the first real metal record I ever bought.  I bought it because I liked the cover artwork and it blew my brain out the back of my skull.  I hadn't experienced that feeling before and I haven't felt it since.  This record sealed my fate as a metalhead.  That's why it's here.

The best thing about it: Rob Halford's awesome syncopated screaming at the end of "Some Heads Are Gonna Roll".  It's pure metal perfection.

3.


Hysteria by Def Leppard

Why it's here: This is the record that kicked open the door to heavy rock music for me.  Not that it's a very heavy record.  It's not.  But the guitars are still loud, and Rick Allen's drumming is volcanic.  It may be the best-sounding album I've ever heard.  Best of all, I don't feel stupid or embarrassed listening to Hysteria now.  I feel kinda dumb listening to a lot of the hair bands I used to love (like Warrant, Poison, etc.).  But Hysteria still sounds as awesome.

The best thing about it: The gorgeous, shimmering guitar sounds.  They blew my mind when I was a kid and didn't know anything about recording music.  Now that I know how they got those tones, I still get goosebumps.

2.


Rust in Peace by Megadeth

Why it's here: The first track contains lyrics about The Punisher.  The second track is a kick-ass metal jam about a bunker full of dead aliens.  If those were the only two songs on the record, I'd love it.  But you get a bunch of other killer tracks performed with astounding technical skill.  Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman duel guitars with shredding abandon and eyebrow-scorching fury.  Nick Menza's drumming is complex but he always holds the beat.  And Dave Ellefson's bass is the glue that holds the whole thing together.  And it all frakking rocks!

The best thing about it: Did I mentions there's a song about the bunker where the government is keeping dead aliens?  It's sci-fi AND it's metal.  It couldn't be more perfect for me of Godzilla showed up and nuked everything in sight with his radiation breath.

1.


Pinkerton by Weezer

Why it's here: I have a deeply personal relationship with this record.  It got me through some very dark times in college.  Pinkerton is the first record I ever heard that I could relate to on a personal, emotional level.  It sounded like River Cuomo was going through the same bullshit I was.  Because of that, this record has become part of me in a way no other record ever has.  That said, the day I can listen to Pinkerton with thinking "This sounds a lot like my life" will be a great, great day.

The best thing about it:  The fact that on "Falling for You", River perfectly captured that "Oh shit, I think I like you" feeling I get when I meet someone I'm interested in.  I may be interpreting it wrong, but that sure sounds like what he's saying.

So, there you have it.  My 20 favorite records ever.  I'd love to have better musical taste.  But you know what?  Somewhere, there's a universe where my taste in music is considered outstanding and your taste in music sucks nutsack.  So there.

Anyway, feel like sharing some of your favorites?  Leave a comment.

Also, my 20 Favorite Films of All Time countdown is coming soon.  Like probably in a couple days.  Til then, I'm outta here like last year!

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Trailer and a Full Load of Meh

As you guys doubtlessly already know, the teaser trailer for the forthcoming Star Wars flick, The Force Awakens, debuted today.  I've watched it about a dozen times and I gotta say... I'm not really moved.

I'm on record as not being in favor of more Star Wars flicks.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm a huge fan.  For a long, long time, Star Wars (Episode IV if you wanna get over-nerdy about it) was my favorite movie of all time.  I'm one of those people that can quote the first three movies pretty much start to finish.  I don't even hate the prequels and I think Revenge of the Sith was actually pretty damn good.  However, I feel like that story was finished and doesn't really need to be added to.  The only reason to make new movies is so Disney can make get a return on their investment in buying Lucasfilm.

However, as things wore on, I kinda started thinking "It IS a Star Wars movie.  Maybe I should give it a chance."  I'm not a fan of the title, which seems more appropriate for a cheap pulp novel than a Star Wars film.  But I kept reminding myself that I hadn't yet seen any footage.  J.J. Abrams has made stuff that I like quite a bit.  Disney seems to be keeping out of things, which, for me, is a very good sign.  Maybe it'll turn out okay.  It was no time to be making uninformed decisions or opinions. After all, I hadn't seen anything from the movie yet, right?

Well, I have now and I'm a little worried about how unimpressed I feel.  This is a Star Wars trailer.  I should be bouncing off the walls.  That how I was for the Special Edition Trilogy trailers.  That's how I was for each of the prequels.  Hell, I sat through The Water Boy a second time a week after I saw it just to see the Phantom Menace teaser.  And I ran out of clean underpants, I was so damn excited.

This time around, nothing.  I'm not excited.  I'm not disappointed.  I'm just kinda like "Oh, this is what this is gonna look like".  Even the shot of the Millennium Falcon twisting and looping over a landscape covered in sand dunes while pursued by TIE Fighters while the strains of John Williams of majestic score wells up on the soundtrack.  Even that didn't do too much for me.  It looked like a shot from a Michael Bay flick that just happened to have the Falcon in it.

It didn't help that this trailer is more about introducing the new instead of bringing out the old favorites.  I understand why they'd do that.  This is a new Star Wars movie for new fans, not people like me.  They wanna intrigue them, not me.  Hook the young.  I get that.  But you can have all the shots of X-wings that you want, and if I don't see R2-D2, you're not gonna get me excited.

So, in the end, all I can really say is "Meh".  There's nothing in the trailer that really turns me off but there's nothing in the trailer that jacks up my excitement.  And the fact that I'm feeling this way about a Star Wars movie makes me really quite sad.  I'm still probably gonna go see it.  I'm hoping that it'll surprise me and that'll love it.  But my stoke factor is pretty low and I'm afraid it may be sinking.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014, Week 2

A quick update: not much happening.  I switch projects and now find myself like 12,000 words behind the pace.  I'm finding getting excited to write is exceedingly difficult when I'm all alone.  I do okay when I'm with other writers, though.  So, I've decided I need to set a different goal for myself.  I'm gonna try to write some, at least a little bit, everyday.  It doesn't matter how much as long as I put in a concerted effort.  So, that where I find myself.  Stay tuned.

Crush of the Week!!!!


And... We have our first repeater.  Back during the initial run of COTW, we "honored" Gemma Arterton.  After viewing Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, we decided it was time to do so again.  Miss Arterton plays a bad-ass witch killer who stock around the screen in tight leather, and she looks pretty amazing doing it.  Soon, she'll be lending her voice (and a super-sexy voice it is) to Reds and Grays, an animated yarn about squirrels.  And if you haven't checked out Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters yet, give it a try.  Then, you too can get woozy over the beauty of Gemma Arterton, this week's Crush of the Week!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

On NaNoWriMo 2014

It's November.  Again.  That means National Novel Writing Month, and I'm participating for the fifth straight year.  But this is the least excited I've ever been for NaNo.  I chalk that up to several factors:


  1. There's less of a feeling of challenge, cuz I know I can do this.  I've done it four times already and "won" it every time.  It feels kinda like been there, done that.
  2. I'm not excited about what I'm writing, even though it's something I've wanted to write since before I knew I wanted to be a writer.  I can change gears and do something different, and I'm planning on it.  But I'm not happy with my slow start.
  3. There are other things in life that seem more important right now.  With everything that's going on, I'm having a tough time justifying writing 50,000 words of something nobody else will ever read.  Is that really the best way to spend my life right now?
I DO really wanna write something, so I'll come up with something and I will hit 50K.  I'm just not feeling it right now.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Crush of the Week!!!


Crush of the Week isn't always up to speed on everything.  For example, COTW's buddy Clifton (check him out at http://nova-corps.blogspot.com) recently introduced us to the excellently geeky game show King of the Nerds.  The season one champ was the adorable Celeste Anderson.  Miss Anderson won our hearts with a lethal combination of beauty, shyness, and nerdiness.  Plus, she's a professional gamer, which is pretty hot.  So, let's show some love for Celeste Anderson, this week's Crush of the Week!!!!  Just don't challenge her to a round of Halo.  She'll kick your ass.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Once There Was A Band...


Once there was a band.  A band that produced an unholy hellacious racket.  A band from the cold northland of Sweden that influenced everyone from Killswitch Engage to Darkest Hour to Unearth to your little brother's death metal band that will never get outta your dad's garage.  That band was At the Gates, and they were amazing.  Then one day, they were gone.  They left us hoping they'd return to rescue us from the shitty little kiddie metal bands that grew up on the bands that ripped them off.  Then, HUZZAH!!  The heroes did return with a bad-ass, booty kicking record that shows everyone how to do it.  Here's a taste, the title track.  Loosen up your neck and throw up them horns!!!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Crush of the Week!!!!




This week, Crush of the Week is getting some serious crush-butterflies in our tummies for Bethany Cosentino.  And while Miss Cosentino is a beauty, this is more about her voice.  She sings, writes songs, and plays guitar in the band Best Coast.  She also duets with Rivers Cuomo on "Go Away", a track on the new Weezer record.  Best Coast mines a similar vein of breezy power pop, and Miss Cosentino's voice is pretty stunning.  Not to mention, she looks pretty adorable playing guitar and singing.  Check out the video below for proof.  Another plus: it looks like she's a cat person, and COTW really likes cat people.  So, put your hands together for Bethany Cosentino, this week's Crush of the Week!!!!  (Meow!)



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Crush of the Week!!!!


Crush of the Week was sitting in the movies, watching Guardians of the Galaxy, when a question struck us: who is the incredibly fetching young lady who's hanging out with Nova Prime?  Well, kids, it turns out that the amazing imaginatively named "Nova Prime's Assistant" is played by the gorgeous Mikaela Hoover.  Miss Hoover doesn't say much in Guardians, but she sure does look pretty.  And she's turned up in a lot of stuff, too.  Miss Hoover has appeared in the film Super, and she's graced TV shows like How I Met Your Mother, The League, and Happy Endings.  Here's hoping we get to see (and hear) a lot more of the beautiful Mikaela Hoover, this weeks Crush of the Week!!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Crush of the Week!!!

So, I'm resurrecting this feature, mainly cuz I don't work on Wednesdays right now and I need something to do.  And now, enjoy!!


Most of my buddies don't watch football, but one very good reason to plunk down on the couch and pass a few hour watching pigskin is that you'll run a very good chance of getting an eyefull of Milana Vayntrub.  The lovely Miss Vayntrub currently hocks cell phone service for AT&T, and she's absolutely adorable doing so.  She's also appeared in Life Happens and several College Humor videos.  Miss Vayntrub trained with comic improvisers The Upright Citizens Brigade.  She was also born Uzbekistan, meaning  she's got some exotic European flavor.  That's not enough to make me buy an I-Phone, but it IS enough to make me say "Let's hear it for Milana Vayntrub, this week's Crush of the Week!!!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Forget the End! Everything's Alright Now!


Weezer is maybe my favorite band of all time.  I love their awesome growly guitar sound and their nerdy sensibilities.  But for the past few albums, since Maladroit really, there's been a problem.  I'll love each new record intensely for a few months but then I start to feel pretty meh about them.  I'm not one of those Weezer fans who thinks the band will always suck until they produce another Pinkerton.  There are always two or three songs on each Weezer record that I truly dig ("Perfect Situation", "Trainwrecks", ect.).  But none of Weezer's recent releases have really captured my imagination like those early Weez efforts.  I enjoy them for a few weeks then I'm on to something else.  But, I think their new record, Everything Will Be Alright in the End, is gonna have some staying power.  From the opening staticy crackles to the confetti bursts of sweep arpeggios that bring the album to a close, this is one sold, rocking, sing-along platter of power pop perfection.

It probably helps that the band has welcomed back Ric Ocasek, the guy who spun the dials on the Blue and Green Albums.  This is one great-sounding record.  The guitars are thick and meaty, the bass is punchy, and the drum pound away muscularly.  This is a record that'll sound completely bad ass blasting from your car stereo.  And as for Rivers Cuomo's singing, well this is a great performance.  He's all over his range, from soaring falsetto to gutsy mid-range melodic gusto.  Rivers hasn't sounded this inspired in years.

As for the songs themselves, they run the gamut from heavy almost metal ("Back to the Shack") to peppy, melodic power pop that Weezer does better than almost anybody ("Lonely Girl", "Go Away").  The best songs are the ones that don't standard Weezer operating procedure.  "I Had It Up to Here" is a funky jam, with Rivers singing a lot of high notes.  The next song, "The British are Coming", is magnificent, from its references to "punk-ass Redcoats" to it's soaring, infectious chorus.  The record ends with a three-part song cycle that features A LOT of guitar solos.  There's not a ton of shredding here.  They're the kind of solos you can hum after a couple listens.

Come to think of it, the return of guitar solos to Weezer's music  is one of the most welcome elements of EWBAITE.  Weezer had pretty much excised guitar solos from the past couple records, so it's nice to hear Rivers and co-guitarist Brian Bell open up on their axes.  As a guitar nerd, I appreciate the hell outta that.

This is the first Weezer record in a very long time that I can honestly say contains no bummer tracks.  I'm not skipping every other song.  In short, this is the band's best work, maybe since Pinkerton.  There's no searching for the perfect song, and every tune sounds like a Weezer song, which hasn't been the case (Hello, "Can't Stop Partying").  The guitar solos are awesome, and the melodies hook you in the spot in your brain that makes you sing along, even if you don't know the words.  Bravo, boys.  Everything is definitely alright now.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You!!

I don't know about you, but I often wonder what a movie based on my life would look like.  Would it be a comedy?  Oscar-bait? Arthouse Indie Drama?  I imagine that for it to work, a lot of dramatic license would have to be taken.  Someone once said that if you have a choice between printing the truth and the legend, print the legend.  It's the same in the movies.  Film the legend.  And the legendary version of my life would contain way more fast cars, beautiful women, samurai duels, and explosions.  They'd probably have to throw in some time travel and a trip through outer space, too.  Just for good measure.

And who would play me, you ask?  Well, here's my short list, in no particular order:


1.  Jack Black - I can't tell you how many people told me how much I remind them of Mr. Black's characters in School of Rock and High Fidelity.  He's a little short, but it could work.


2. Eugene Mirman - Well, he looks kinda like me.  And he's funny.  Almost as funny as I am.  Actually, he's probably funnier.  And I have a feeling we could get him for cheap.


3. Tyler Labine - Labine played a sort of tubby, shiftless slacker in Reaper.  Then he played a redneck in Tucker & Dale.  That covers all the bases, pretty much.  Plus, he can grow a sweet beard.


4. Jensen Ackles - Everybody is more handsome in the movies than they are in real life.  Why shouldn't Movie Me be super frakkin' attractive?  Besides, you gotta buy into the fact the the love interest played by Hayley Atwell (Or Alison Brie.  Or Olga Kurylenko.  Or Tina Fey.  Or Christina Hendricks.  Or Rosario Dawson.  Or...) would actually be interested in me.  So, Movie Me better be way more attractive than Real Life Me.


5. Nick Frost - Honestly, Frost's probably the best choice for Movie Me.  He's got the wit, he's got the face, and he's got the body.  There's just one problem: his accent.  So, I better get to work perfecting my British accent, just in case he can't fake and American accent.

Bonus Pick:


-- Idris Elba - You know, in case they choose to set the movie in a parallel universe where I'm the world's most handsome African-American man.

And for the director, the only guy who could do it is this guy:


you know, seeing how ever since watching The Double, I'm convinced he's my smarter, more successful doppleganger.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Death Ain't Scary Enough

Ok, so you know how I did a post a bit ago where I bemoaned having to be on a diet?  Remember that?  Well, I have completely fallen off the frakking wagon.  I could blame the deep depression I've been slogging through the past two weeks or so.  I could blame Satan for tempting me beyond my ability to resist.  I could blame locusts or toads or frakking Sasquatch.  But I can't because the truth is that death isn't scary enough.

I hear tell that death is strong motivator for many, Many, MANY people.  People stay healthy cuz they don't wanna die.  They do science to keep themselves from dying.  They build monuments to themselves, write their stories down, and create works of art so their memories can live on after their bodies are worm food.

 Don't get me wrong, I'm petrified of the uncertainty that comes along with death.  I'm terrified of never getting everything I want to get done in life done.  But, I'm not so scared that I can avoid a big greasy cheeseburger with a sh*tload of fries and a big ass soft drink.  I still can't turn down pizza, pasta, and cheese-slathered Mexican food.

The root of the problem is that eating is about the only thing lately that makes me happy.  And eating healthy just doesn't do it.  I need 0 nutritional value.  I need stuff that binds up my digestive tract for days on end.  You don't get that kind of satisfaction from cale and tofu.

I guess another part of it is that life has been very rough lately, and I spend a lot of time wishing it was over.  I just don't seem to be able to notch a win at all.  Everything I love about life seems to be turning to sh*t right now.  So death just doesn't seem very scary.  There's gotta be something to hold on to.  I just can't see it right now.  At least when I stuff my face with junk food, my mouth wins, for a little while anyway.  And all it'll cost me is my health.  And possibly my life.  Fair enough.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Random Thoughts - Aug. 11, 2014

Just a few things that have been on my mind recently:


  • Robin William's passing, if it was truly a suicide, is extremely tragic.  Although, truth be told, I'm not too torn up about it.  While I respect the man and his work, I was never a huge fun.  Talk to me when George Lucas or Ozzy Osbourne passes.  I'll have a lot more to say then.  At the same time, I've been very near to suicide several times, even recently.  I know how it feels to be so down you don't see any alternative other than ending it all.  That's a feeling I never want any one to feel, no matter who they are.  I've been hospitalized for depression and anxiety, and it sucks far more than I have the ability to articulate.  I'm truly, deeply sorry anyone goes through similar travails and hope Mr. Williams has now found peace.
  • That hoping-no-person-feels-suicidal thing doesn't apply to Kim Jong-Un.  I hope he gets the super blues and takes a bath with a toaster or steps in front of a speeding bus.  The bat shit crazy bastard.
  • Sometimes I wonder if all the gun rights activists who tell us we can takes their guns when we can pry them from their cold, dead finger realize that the folks on the other side have rights too.  Like the right not to have a gun waved in their face if they happen to cut a gun owner off in traffic.
  • If you offer me a choice between being happy in my career or having money, I'll take being happy every time.  But, gorramitt, it would be nice to have enough extra scratch to buy a ginormous guitar amp or road trip it to Scandinavia to visit my Viking ancestors and see a bunch of kick-ass death metal bands.
  • I still think Ranger Rick could take Rocket Raccoon in a fight.  Rick's freaking resourceful.
  • I recently learned the some Native Americans believe Sasquatch to be able to shape-shift, like Mystique the X-Men villain.  So, if your wife, girlfriend, etc. has mustache, you may now have an explanation.
  • I am against straight people legislating the legality of gay marriage because they don't understand what it's like to be gay.  If you don't understand someone else's life experience, you don't have the right to legislate how they live.  That's like me telling a world-class athlete how they should eat.
  • I used to just try to ignore Disney.  Now that they own basically my whole childhood, I completely despise them.  Up yours, Mouse House!!
  • If you're pissed off about how studios are mucking up your nostalgic favorites, it may be because you don't realize one simple fact: If you're over the age of 18, Hollywood isn't making these movies for you.  If you don't believe that, go see the new Ninja Turtles movie.  If you love the old cartoon or the dudes-in-bad-rubber-suits movies, you'll probably hate it.  But your 9 - 14 year-old son will love it and he'll keep coming back.  And that's the audience Hollywood cares about.
  • In some corners on the universe, aliens can't see us, even with their most powerful telescopes.  The light from our solar system hasn't had time to reach them yet.  That kinda blows my mind.
  • Jeremy Clarkson, one of the host on the BBC's Top Gear, once said that the U.S. has never won a war without help, particularly British help.  That's one way to look at it.  Another way to look at it is that in the Revolutionary War, we kicked Britains ass with the help of the French.  THE FRENCH!!  And nobody's scared of the French.       

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fattie's 5s: My Favorite Reality TV Shows

I hate reality TV.  Hate it.  Nothing bothers me in quite the same way as watching regular people trying to screw over other regular people in situations that are about as unrealistic as situations get.  I hate all those singing shows, where people with a dream get judged by talentless "celebrities".  Those contests like Survivor?  Pass.  Docutainment stuff like Cake Boss?  Pass.  And don't get me started on Duck Dynasty.  But there ARE a few that I like, and here are my five favorites:

5.


Deadliest Warrior - Awesome weaponry?  Check!  Badass guys wielding those weapons?  Check!  Smack talk and explosions?  Check and check!!  Though it went downhill after Max Geiger lest the show, Deadliest Warrior was a fun show manly-man wannbes (like myself) that went a long ways towards answering a lot of those "who would win in a fight" throwdowns I had back in the comic book shop.

4.


Mythbusters - Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman build awesome machines, test out theories, and blow stuff up, all in a quest to find out whether on not those urban legends we've heard are true.  Things get funny and myths get confirmed or busted.  Plus, Kari Byron is pretty damn attractive.

3.


Who Wants to Be a Superhero? - Wannabes created their own superhero characters, and Stan "The Man" Lee put them through a series of  challenges to see who had the right stuff.  Though the show only ran two seasons, in part because Stan couldn't stand to kick aspiring heroes to the curb, it was endlessly entertaining.  Excelsior!!

2.


BBC's Top Gear - Three middle-aged guys horse around, drive bitchin' cars, and make fun of Americans.  A couple times an episode, someone drives real fast around a race track.  Camping trailers get destroyed.  It might sound lame.  It totally isn't.

1.


Comic Book Men - Set in Kevin Smith's comic book store in New Jersey, this show is basically all about sitting around hanging out with the guys that run the store.  But it's a comic book store, which means all sorts of nerdy conversation.  Also, folks keep bringing really cool items to sell.  It's like Pawn Stars for nerds.  Plus, it's just freaking hilarious!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Hooked on a Feeling...


... And that feeling is the feeling that comes over a guy (or woman) when he (or she) gets exactly what he (or she) wants.  When it comes to Guardians of the Galaxy, exactly what I want was a fun, ass-kicking sci-fi romp with cool characters, big laughs, and action scenes that set your eyeballs to dancing.  And, good gravy, is that exactly what I got.

Guardians is the tenth film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it's the first one to untether itself from our little home world, Earth.  The Guardians are guarding the actual galaxy and not just Earth.  That means some compelling new worlds and frames crammed so full of cool stuff you can't possibly see it all the first time through.

The story centers on Peter Quill, who, as a child, gets abducted (but not eaten, and don't you forget that!) by aliens led by Yondo (Michael Rooker).  Jump ahead 26 years and little Peter has grown into an interstellar outlaw who wants everyone to call him Star Lord (Chris Pratt).  No one does.  After Quill snatches a mysterious orb-shaped knick-knack, the movie makes like an intergalactic take on the Blues Brother, with everyone from Yondo, to Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted daughter of big baddie Thanos, giving chase.  In short order, Quill finds himself in a Nova Corp prison with Gamora, the troublesome twosome of Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a hulking, green-skinned bad ass who doesn't understand metaphors.  The crew decides to team up to break out and then, ultimately, to stop Ronan the Accuser (Lee "The Piemaker" Pace) from destroying the galaxy.

DC may have the market cornered on sulking superheroes, but Marvel excel at injecting humor into their stories while keeping the tension up and the stakes high.  And Guardians is the funniest Marvel movie yet.  There were times during the screening I went to when dialogue was lost in the laughter from the audience.  Everybody gets a chance to get chuckles.  All of our heroes get a chance to strut their ass-kicking action stuff, as well.  I can't decide if my favorite action moment belonged to Groot or Jondo.  The movie felt briskly paced with no real slow parts.  It also had plenty of heart.  From the first scene to the climactic battle (where Groot actually made me cry a little bit) there are plenty of moments the play the emotions like a finely-crafted vintage Gibson Les Paul.  Combine all this with awesome epic battles and one of the grooviest soundtracks I've heard in many moons, and Guardians truly has something for everyone.

Guiding this production is James Gunn (he did Slither and Super previously).  And he's done a fantastic job.  The worlds are imaginatively rendered, especially a planet covered in geysers and a city built inside the skull of a deceased giant space being.  Gunn keeps the camera moving without going to mental with the movement.  He also wrote the script, which was pretty damn great.  Best of all, he lets things be weird, which you'd expected in a movie that features a motor-mouthed raccoon and an anthropomorphic tree with a limited vocabulary.  If you wanna see just how weird, wake sure you sit all the way through the credits.  In short, Gunn took the best parts from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Blues Brothers, and Serenity, threw it all into a blender, frapped the living crap out of it, and came up with a rousingly entertaining space opera that's better than at least four of the Star Wars movies.

Last year, Pacific Rim was easily the most fun I had at the movies.  It had been years since I was soaring so high after seeing a movie.  I felt the same way walking out of Guardians of the Galaxy, and I thankfully didn't have to wait so long.  Maybe, this is a good sign.  Maybe, summer movies are going to be fun again.  I can always dream.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Diets SUCK.


For the past week or so, I've been on a heart-healthy diet.  I am NOT happy about this.  As far as I can see, there are only two benefits of a successful diet: 1) You lose weight and get more healthy and 2) You can take all that money you used to spend on junk food and put it towards something more important, like purchasing a vintage Guns n' Roses pinball machine or getting a tattoo of Rocket Raccoon and Groot on your back.  That all comes at a price, and that price is steep.  He are the worst things, for my money, about being on a diet.

  • Constantly feeling hungry.  They tell me that feeling will go away, but I don't believe them.
  • The headaches and light-headedness that accompany a huge drop in one's daily caloric intake.
  • Being told "You can eat this" or "You can't have that".  I don't like being told what I can eat at all, and that makes it all the more likely that I'll rebel, spend three days eating nothing but Pizza Hut pizza and Eazy Cheese, and completely blow my diet off the rails.
  • Feeling uncool because I'm not skinny, like all the pretty people who seer to diet just for fun.
  • Feeling even worse because I'm a fat person who can't eat what he wants.
  • The sheer horror conjured up by the thought of going out to eat with friends.
  • The thought that I might get too skinny for all my kick-ass t-shirts, and I'll have to start my t-shirt collection over again.
  • Sugar-free products don't taste as good as their sugary counterparts, no matter what the marketing people tell you.
  • Feel like I just broke up with Wendy from Wendy's and that Jack from Jack in the Box is no longer my friend.
  • 4 words: NO MORE GUMMI BEARS.
As far as motivation, dying hasn't been doing the trick, so I'm trying another trick.  Director Peter Jackson lost a whole bunch of weight recently.  If his Hobbet-ness can do it, surely I can, too.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thanks a Lot, Pete...

My buddy, Pete, posted this vid on Facebook the other night.  It's a tune called "Pretend" by a band called I Fight Dragons.  What does it sound like, you might ask?  Well, to my ears, it sounds a lot like Weezer-esque power pop with some groovy 8-bit melodies spliced in.  On top of that, IFD sprinkle on some lyrical material that's so nerdy, it makes Rivers Cuomo look like an iron-pumping, cheerleader-banging football jock.  And, that makes for some awesome music that's pretty addictive.  Enjoy.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Book Report: I Wear the Black Hat

Roger Daltry famously sang once that "no one knows what it's like to be the bad man".  Sometimes it seems like the thoughts, emotions, and motivations of evil people can never possibly be known or understood.  It's often postulated that good people aren't as good and bad people aren't as bad as they seem.  One thought that Chuck Klosterman posits in his book, I Wear the Black Hat, is that good and evil may not even exist because they're based on nothing sturdier or more absolute than values and opinions.

I Wear the Black Hat isn't really an attempt to humanize evil or to even really understand it.  Instead, this series of essays is more interested in what motivates us ad a society to label one person a villain while labeling another a hero.  It questions why some people who do evil things come away as folk heroes while other undeservedly shoulder the role of the antagonist.  The author comes to define a villain as "the one who knows the most but cares the least", but even this definition has exceptions.  In the end, so much depends on the lens one chooses to view the world through.

I'm an unabashed Chuck Klosterman fan, and have been ever since I read Fargo Rock City, his  memoir about growing up a metalhead in small town North Dakota.   He's funny, clever, insightful, and thinks about unimportant things, like pop culture, way too damn much.  I Wear the Black Hat carries much of that over, but it digs a bit deeper, trying to unearth what inside us influences who we view as heroes and villains.  Over the course of this book, I learned the following nuggets of truth:

  • The most evil thing one can do is tie a woman down to railroad tracks.
  • Pop culture has a tendency to give us characters whose lives are define by one single event.  Real life is rarely that way.
  • Batman can only get away with what he does cuz he's a fictional character in a fantasy world.  That shit doesn't fly when real life people try it.
  • Presidents lie.  It's part of the job.  All of them do it.  Not just Obama.
  • Handsome people can get away with villainous behavior, while less attractive people are more easily vilified, even if they're the most decent people in the world.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch is a "sexy British weirdo".
  • Depending on circumstances and motivation, plane hijackers, drugs dealers, and funk narcissists can be both appealing and reprehensible.
  • People may hate you because you don't hate anybody, even though you should.
I Wear the Black Hat hooked me fast and kept me burning through the pages.  I read in about two days.  It's not very long, at two hundred pages, but it's two hundred pages of pretty awesome and thought provoking stuff.  It left me with one reverberating thought: what if I'm the villain in my own story?  If I wasn't having so much trouble sleeping already, I'd definitely be in for some long, lonely nights spent thinking.  

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lookie What I Found!

I stumbled across this whilst dicking around on the interwebs the other day and it kinda hooked me.  The band's called Space Elevator (so far as I can tell the song's called "Elevator") and they're kind of a 70s throwback funky, bluesy rock kinda thing.  But it's got a lot of what I like in a band: hooky melodies that get snagged in your head, cool guitar tones, a sweet squealing guitar solo, and an attractive woman belting soulful vocals while decked out in a catsuit.  Check it out!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Caffeine Withdrawal Haiku

Trying to get off caffeinated beverages is a bitch.  Not nearly as bad as other addictive substances, but a bitch all the same.  This is what it feels like to me...

Steel-toed boots bashing
My cranium to tiny shards
I'd kill for a Coke...


Monday, May 26, 2014

X-Cellence Reclaimed


With so much bad, sucky, and just not good turning up in X-Men movies recently, you'd think that Fox was doing everything in their power to completely ruin the franchise and its legacy.  They managed to right the ship with First Class, although I still had some pretty serious problems with that flick.  But after seeing Days of Future Past, I feel comfortable saying that all has been forgiven.

Days of Future Past marks the return of Bryan Singer to the X-Flicks director's chair, and you have to wonder what the hell Fox was thinking when they chased him off.  Singer knows how to capture the Merry Marvel Mutant Society and make their exploits feel serious and dramatic without things bogging down in joyless  stoicism.  Days of Future Past has high stakes, what with mutant kind on the verge of extinction and all, but it never becomes shoe-gazingly dour.  It's a welcome approach that makes the movie both tense and fun.

The story is a little complicated, involving time-traveling consciousness, multiple people playing the same characters, and killer robots.  I'd break it all down, but I kinda don't wanna.  I'm lazy that way.  What's important is that the story hooks you and takes you on a very enjoyable ride.  I really dug the despondent Professor X stuff.  It was nice to see a character that dignified and hopeful at the bottom of the barrel.  Quicksilver was way more awesome than I was expecting, and I came away wanting to see more of him.  The design of the Sentinels, the giant mutant-killing robots, is pretty cool, especially the future Sentinels.  When they unleash their death rays, their heads open like the blossoms of some exotic flower.  Very cool stuff.

One of the best things about this movie is that the story is focused pretty tight on a central group of mutants.  Wolverine, Mystique, Beast, Professor X, and Magneto all get a chance to strut their stuff.  This is a welcome change from earlier X-Flicks, which seemed so packed full of mutants that things got unfocused and diluted.  Along with the mutants, we get a great performance from Peter Dinklage as Bollivar Trask, inventor of the Sentinels.  You hate the guy, but you kind of see his logic, too.

My favorite scene in the whole movie came when Feds trap Professor X, Wolvie, and friends in a kitchen.  Quicksilver does his thing, and the result is spectacular.  And quite hilarious.  The scene where Magneto lifts a baseball stadium is breathtaking.  Those scenes make up for the less inspired fight scenes between the future mutants and the Sentinels.  There's scene where future Prof. X talks to past Prof. X that gave me goosebumps.  Mystique actually gets some pretty emotional stuff, too.  The balance is definitely shifted in the direction of character stuff, but that just makes your ass get kicked harder when the action scenes come.

Some people will complain about the huge continuity problems, but that reminds me of something I heard former Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada say in an interview.  It was something along the lines of "I don't care so much about the continuity as long as the stories are good".  That seems appropriate to bring up here.  DOFP smooths out some of the bumps in the X-Flick continuity, but it simply ignores others.  But none of that really matters cuz X-Men: Days of Future Past is a pretty damn good story all on its own.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cage Match: Godzilla vs. Pacific Rim

One of the hardest things about writing movie reviews, and something I struggle with, is to come up with something that stands out and hasn't been done 8 million times.  With the release of Godzilla this week, I really wanted to do something different than a regular review.  And since Godzilla has a ton in common with Pacific Rim (big monsters, stoic heroes, same studio, etc.) I thought I'd do something that's only been done 7 million times and measure how the two contemporary kaiju classics stack up against one another.  LET IT BEGIN!!

 THE SKINNY: Godzilla is about humans trying desperately to survive in the face of marauding giant monsters.  It's more about the human characters and how they react to their situation.  Think of it as The Walking Dead of big monster movies.

Pacific Rim is about humans trying desperately to survive in the face of giant marauding monster.  But they do so by building towering mechs to punch the monsters in the face.  Repeatedly.  And the monsters are from another universe.  And Ron Perlman gets to chew some scenery.

THE RUN TIME: Godzilla clocks in at a relatively trim 123 minutes, while Pacific Rim is a bit longer at 131 minutes.  The difference is that Godzilla is a slowly developing, deliberately paced drama, while Pacific Rim is a ridiculously entertaining action movie.  ADVANTAGE: Pacific Rim

MONSTER ORIGINS: Like the classic Godzilla movies, the monster in this new movie are the result of mutation brought on by radiation.  In Pacific Rim, the monsters come through a portal at the bottom on the ocean, direct from some screwy alternate universe where everything is in day glow colors.  I like other universes better than radiation.  ADVANTAGE: Pacific Rim

THE CASTS: Both films feature stoic leading men who kick ass and don't say very much about it.  Charlie Hunnam (from Rim) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla) are pretty much the same character.  So, the supporting casts have to pick up the slack and make things interesting.  Godzilla has some great actors in the cast, like David Strathairn and Ken Watanabe.  Rim treats us to Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, and the always badass Idris Elba.  While I have to admit that the Pacific Rim cast is more fun to watch, the better acting comes from the Godzilla cast.  What really tips the scales is Bryan Cranston.  He is fabulous in Godzilla, and puts the King of the Monsters over the top.  ADVANTAGE: Godzilla

THE WRITING: Neither of these scripts is anything to write home about, but the writing in Godzilla seems more realistic.  At least as realistic as a movie about rampaging giant monsters can be.  ADVANTAGE: Godzilla

THE MONSTERS: Here you probably have to count the Jeagers from Pacific Rim.  After all, they are big, metal monsters.  And the giant stink-beetles-from-hell in Godzilla are kinda cool-looking, but they reminded me a little too much of the Cloverfield monster.  But, Godzilla had Godzilla.  Granted, Godzilla kinda looks like a giant reptilian version of Bob Hoskins here.  But he's still King of the Monsters.  ADVANTAGE: Godzilla

THE ACTION: You go to movies like this to see monsters tear sh*t up, and neither disappoints.  The climactic end battle in Godzilla is phenomenal, and will have any kaiju movie lover cheering.  Still, Pacific Rim has big monsters AND giant robots fighting, sometimes while using freight ships like baseball bats.  Plus, nobody in Godzilla ever gets to yell "ELBOW ROCKET!!"  ADVANTAGE: Pacific Rim

THE HOLY SH*T MOMENTS: (Spoiler Alert)  No movie from 2013 had a better "Holy Sh*t" moment than when Otachi spreads out his (or her, or its) wings and drags Gipsy Danger into the sky.  But, Godzilla has a couple of moments that are exactly that awesome.  ADVANTAGE: Draw

THE MUSIC: I was a bit disappointed that I didn't hear anything that hearkened back to the music from the 1954 original in Godzilla.  The score was fine, though, and did the job.  It just wasn't all that memorable.  Pacific Rim had that awesome, guitar-spiked score which made you want to go stomp on cities yourself.  It's the second thing in his career that Tom Morello should actually be proud of.  The first was getting knocked into oblivion by Tony Stark's Mark I suit in the first Iron Man flick.  ADVANTAGE: Pacific Rim

THE DIRECTION: Guillermo Del Toro does everything he does with a fanboy love that bleeds through the screen.  That love for kaiju and mechs is all over Pacific Rim.  You can just imagine him geeking out while coming up with fight scenes or killer shots.  There is love present in Godzilla, too.  But it's more reverential.  Gareth Edwards has chosen to make every frame in Godzilla a tip of the hat to the original movies.  The backgrounds of shots are stuffed full of references to those old movies and past Godzilla foes.  And you know what?  Neither way is superior.  ADVANTAGE: Draw

So, it's time to count up the points.  And the winner is... Pacific Rim!!  But barely.  The fact of the matter is that while Godzilla is a very different movie with a very different focus, if you liked Pacific Rim, you'll probably dig Godzilla.  I love both films and can't wait to watch 'em back to back in a marathon.  So, get out to your local multiplex and see Godzilla.  And if you haven't had a chance to scope out Pacific Rim on video, well, what are you waiting for?  Killer, kick-ass kaiju action awaits!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Inspiration to Keep Going... For Now...

I'm sure it's not much of a secret, but lately, I've really been having a hard time.  I'm sad, I'm lonely, and I haven't been able to see it getting any better any time soon.  I can't seem to find any hope.  I've been wondering if there was ever any hope to begin with.  It seems like the only thing I have to look forward to is the next big movie, and when that's all you have to look forward to, you really don't have anything to look forward to.  
So while I was wallowing in a miasma of dejection and self-worthlessness, I was watching Friday Night Lights.  I was pondering giving up on trying to attain my dreams and just crawling into a hole and dying.  And then, Tyra Collette, a high school senior who wants nothing more than to get out of her hometown, gave the following voice-over, an excerpt from her college entrance exam: 
Two years ago, I was afraid wanting anything. I figured wanting would lead to trying, and trying would lead to failure. But now I find I can’t stop wanting…  I want to fly somewhere in first class. I want to travel to Europe on a business trip. I want to get invited to the White House. I want to learn about the world. I want to surprise myself. I want to be important. I want to be the best person I can be. I want to define myself, instead having of others define me. I want to win; and have people be happy for me. I want to lose and get over it. I want to not be afraid of the unknown. I want to grow up to be generous and big-hearted. The way that people have been with me. I want an interesting and surprising life.
It’s not that I think I am going to get all these things. I just want the possibility of getting them. College represents possibility. The possibility that things are going to change. I can’t wait…
This hit me like a fully-loaded clown car.  (They hit hard cuz they're packed full of like twenty clowns, right?)
Obviously, I'm not going off to college.  Still, a lot of this is exactly the kind of stuff I want outta life,  I want to define myself, and not be defined by other people.  I want to not be afraid.  I want to be generous and big-hearted.  I don't know what represents this stuff for me.  I just know that I want it.  And I know I can't give up trying to get it because if I do, I for damn sure won't get anything I want.  So, for today, I've decided to keep plugging.  Who knows how I'll feel tomorrow, but for today, I want to keep trying.