Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Movie Review: Girl With A Dragon Tattoo

I just watched the newly released David Fincher film, "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". And it was fantastic! Let's start with the plot. The plot of the film is exceedingly simple. (No, that is not a bad thing.) Disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is hired to investigate a 40 year old missing persons case and is assisted by the titular character, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). But that simplicity allows for two things: one, it provides a solid framework for what is a truly stellar film, and two, it elicits a deeper questioning: Why has this journalist been disgraced? Who would choose a disgraced journalist to investigate a missing persons case? Why investigate after 40 years? Just reading the plot of the film had me asking a bunch of questions. Which is fantastic for a mystery thriller, especially one by David Fincher.

Watching a David Fincher film is always an interesting experience. The single most intriguing aspect of the film was the amoral landscape of the film. The bulk of the story takes place on the  Vanger family island, which already sets the events of the film in a kind of clean, distant space, that allows for an almost clinically detached experience, but Fincher enhances that emotional detachment by shooting in severe, spartan sets and wide shots that keep the viewer far away from the events, and has the side effect of downplaying the visceral reaction to the brutality of some of the film. Yet, at the same, he delivers a steady stream of expositions, plot development, and story twists that keep the viewer MENTALLY engaged in the film. 

A lot has been stated about the casting of Rooney Mara as Lisbeth. There has been buzz and critique in equal amounts. Coming out of the film, I can honestly say that Mara delivered a fantastic performance. Her physical transformation alone was reminiscent of Christian Bale (Check him out in The Machinist to see what I mean.), and yes, I mean that as a compliment. Mara played Lisbeth to the hilt, coming across as vulnerable, strong, empathic, psychotic, hyper-intelligent and emotionally naive. It was a truly engrossing performance from a relatively new actress. She even managed to steal scenes from Daniel Craig, and that is truly impressive in my book.

Speaking of Daniel Craig, I've felt sorry for him ever since he became the new James Bond. The amazing popularity of his more brutal version of Bond seemed to cement his career's inevitable doom: typecasting. Which would honestly suck, because Craig is an exceptionally talented actor. ( My favorite film of his: Layer Cake.) But this film gave him the perfect opportunity to shatter the Bond image into itty bitty pieces. 

One of the toughest things to portray on screen is intelligence, of any kind. For all that I love of the character, 007 isn't an intelligent man. Clever and street smart? Yes. Intelligent? No. And that's how Craig breaks away from the Bond character in this film. In playing the disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, Craig portrays the investigative mind perfectly. You can literally SEE the connections being made and the deductions coming to light as he pores over the information presented to him over and over again. And this is enhanced when he enlists the help of Mara's character and they set in to investigate the disappearance. When they started working on the case, it evoked an image of Sherlock Holmes & Watson coming together on their first case. I'm hoping that this film does well, so that the other two films can be brought to light under the OCD eye of David Fincher.

However, this movie is something of a slow burn. It's a film that you have to devote a lot of attention to and that slow plays its audience throughout the entire film. Fincher utilizes that slow place to enhance the tension in some scenes, to break up the exposition in others, and to add emotional distance to yet other scenes. The one constant is that slow pace. And that could be the film's downfall. I'm really hoping this one does well. I would love to see more movies like this.

If you're looking for a slow paced, intense thriller, then "Girl With A Dragon Tattoo" is the film for you. I mean it, you'll LOVE it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Master Has Returned...

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys & Girls, the Master has returned. That's right, the man who practically INVENTED modern day sci-fi horror with his film, Alien, has come back to the Alien universe. And now, you will see how the Alien movies SHOULD be done. Cameron, Fincher, and Jeunet get out your notebooks, cause you're about to be SCHOOLED!! Here comes Prometheus!



The first trailer for Ridley Scott's Alien prequel, Prometheus, has been released. Check it out:





How awesome was that? Now, I've been avoiding getting too deep into the production of this movie, but after this trailer I had to do some research! I found out a lot of cool stuff, but I'm not going to spoil anything for you. However, I do have a question. It seems that Ridley Scott want this movie to have an R rating, but the studios are hesitant to go above PG-13. As such, Scott is making two cuts of the film, one for each rating, for the studios to review. What rating do you think this movie should be released under?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sulu Speaks Seeking Star Slander Cessation....

Recently, there has been a battle going on in the CyberWeb InterSpace, my dear readers. A re-ignition of the Eternal battle between Star Trek & Star Wars, instigated by none other than Capt. James T. Kirk himself: William Shatner. And Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher, responded.

Now, in an attempt to unite the two feuding fandoms, George Takei steps in as the ambassador for Star Peace in his unique position as the ONLY actor (at this time) who has EVER starred in BOTH!! Yes, that's right, my dear readers. George Takei is bad-ass enough to have starred in not only Star Trek as Sulu (Come on, you all KNEW that, right?), but also as Lok Durd in the Star Wars: Clone Wars tv series!! (That one I don't expect you'd have known... Hell, *I* didn't even know that until today! Which is why I'm taking the time to educate YOU as well!!)

And so, George Takei calls forth the two universes of Star Trek and Star Wars to join together in harmony and in battle against the TRUE ENEMY of us all: TWILIGHT.

Gone is any sense of heroism, camaraderie or epic battles. In its place, we have vampires that sparkle, moan and go to high school. Now, I'm not above mixing in a little sex appeal to spice up the fantasy, but sci-fi fans be warned, there are no great stories, characters or profound life lessons to be found in Twilight. Nooo…In Twilight, the only message that rings through loud and clear is: 'Does my boyfriend like me?'





Buffy, Blade... We're counting on you!!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Is Fear A Factor For You?

There are times when I'm convinced that the universe is out to get me. While I don't believe I'm the ONLY target of the universe's mischievous sense of humor (that would be the height of arrogance and make me WORTHY of being on the list), I am on it's list. But then I get certain gifts from the universe that are of such magnitude that I have to question whether or not the universe actually hates me. This post is about one such gift.

I'm not a big Christmas person. I'm not a Grinch in that I'm out to ruin Christmas for everyone, I'm just not one to really participate in it. So, the month of December is kind of boring and annoying. (You try listening to 31+ days straight of cloying & sappy music relating to a holiday YOU don't enjoy and see if YOU like it. And yes it's 31+ days because it normally starts the day AFTER Thanksgiving and goes straight until Dec 25th. The plus is covering the stragglers that start up before T-Day and possibly go on after the 25th.) Yes, I know my birthday is in December, but given that it's 2 days AFTER the global celebration of the birth of Christ, my birthday is pretty much a non-event. However, for THIS YEAR, I have been given, not one, not two, but THREE gifts from the universe to allow me to survive this harrowing time known as the month of December!

#3 - Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game Of Shadows (out 12/16)

#2 - Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (out 12/16)

#1 - The return, after a SIX YEAR hiatus of the ONLY reality tv show I would EVER watch and the original bad ass game show: FEAR FACTOR!!!! Here is a clip of what's in store for this new season:



So, the question is... Is fear a factor for you?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thoughts On... Chivalry

When I think of Chivalry, I think of the actual definition of the word: the system, spirit, or customs of medieval knighthood. It's an ideology and set of behaviors that was created in the 14th century. And like most of the thinking that existed in the 1300s, it not something that works in modern day society. In fact, the core theories of chivalry don't really exist anymore. It mutated over the course of time from the definition of knighthood to the definition of gentlemanly behavior.

One of the most cherished examples of chivalry these days is the movie Gone With The Wind. Personally, I didn't like the movie. But as a movie buff, I understand it's importance. Still when talking about chivalry, women hold up that movie and say that chivalry is dead. I'm a guy, so take this with the appropriate grain of salt. Personally, I don't think chivalry is dead. However, it has changed.

Remember, the basic concept behind chivalry is the idea that it is the job of any honorable man to protect the women around him since they weren't capable of protecting themselves. They couldn't pull out the heavy oak chairs. They couldn't open the heavy wooden (or metal) doors. Now, it's been 72 years since GWTW was made. It's been even longer since the Civil War era during which the events of the movie takes place. And a great deal of things have happened in that time.

Things like women's rights, women's liberation due to the lack of labor because of that small blip called WWII, the sexual revolution, and the establishment of sexual harassment laws (including precedents for class action suits). These things have fundamentally altered how men & women relate to each other. Those alterations led to the blurring of gender roles. This forced chivalry to be less overt and "go underground" for lack of a better term.

As a guy, I do find it interesting that a lot of the women I know (and several I read about) pine for that lost era when men were expected to do everything, and women just took care of the home and the kids with no other responsibilities being socially acceptable. In a society where they have the right and duty to take care of themselves, women want to go back to when they didn't. The sentiment is so prevalent that there was even a movie based on the concept: Kate & Leopold.

Now, I grant you that men (for justifiable reasons or not) have become less overt in their romantic gestures. That is a given. But I ask this question of you ladies: Would you really trade in all the freedoms you have in modern day for chivalry of the type seen in GWTW or K&L? Really?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who Will Be Your Pretty Little Enemy....

In honor of my completion of the main storyline of Batman Arkham City (I still have to finish the side missions & trophy hunting), I'm posting the lyrics (and a video of the song) of my favorite song from the Arkham City Soundtrack. I present to you: Deranged by Coheed & Cambria

This city’s lost all hope, I repeat, I boast
The strange will walk alone
They scurry with their doubt
The darkness shrouds, the sirens shout
Against the concrete below
Oh, This works all you and me… Its all our being
We'll burn this city down

Who will be your pretty little enemy?
When I’m gone your world will prove empty
I promise, you will always remember me
The jokes on you, poisoning
While you clean the streets of misfortune
I pick the innocent from my dirty teeth
We’re one and the same... Deranged

We were our worst nightmares delight
And I promised you,
As you always knew
Our world’s a paradise

Who will be your pretty little enemy?
When I’m gone your world will prove empty
I promise, you will always remember me
The jokes on you, poisoning
While you clean the streets of misfortune
I pick the innocent from my dirty teeth
We’re one and the same... Deranged

There is no me without you
I will behave, I will be
An afterthought… Your make believe
Your darkest day... your friend in need

Who will be your pretty little enemy?
When I’m gone your world will prove empty
I promise, you will always remember me
The jokes on you, poisoning
While you clean the streets of misfortune
I pick the innocent from my dirty teeth
We’re one and the same… Deranged

HaHa HaHa HaHa HaHa
We’re one and the same… Deranged
HaHa HaHa HaHa HaHa
We’re one and the same…

Deranged



*All rights to song & lyrics belong to the artist. I own nothing of this..

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

One Dream Dies & A New One Is Born...

Awhile ago, I declared my intent to attend the 2012 Comic-Con in San Diego next year. For a long time, I had the dogged intent to actually go forth with that plan. I had the Comic-Con page as my homepage so every time I went online, I knew whether or not the badges were on sale. I had several big plans in fact. I was going to go to a "Weird Al" concert in Concord, NH. I was going to visit friends in New Jersey for Thanksgiving, I even had a plan to spend the week between Christmas & New Year's Eve (a.k.a. my birthday week) visiting friends in Canada! It was going to be off the HOOK!!

However, reality, moving ever so slowly, corrupted those dreams until they were nothing but dust. I didn't get to go to the concert. Car issues prevented me from being able to building up the cash to go to NJ and also killed the trip to Canada. And now, while I'm still in financial recovery from all the legal fallout of my car issues, I am finally letting go of the dream of going to Comic-Con 2012.

I simply don't have the $ to buy the badges when they come sale. And that doesn't even cover the round-trip flight, hotel stay, car rental, food costs, and spending money for the Con itself. Frankly, it's just too fucking expensive to go. Therefore, in order to save myself a great deal of emotional angst (and my friend the blowback of that angst), I'm letting go of the dream. My journey to Comic-Con is no more.

In it's place, there is a new dream. One that is FULLY achievable, but will require a great deal of work on my part. For my Christmas present to myself, I will be building myself a new PC. From SCRATCH.

Mind you, I've had my current PC (which I also built from scratch) for over SIX YEARS! The only things I've had to upgrade is the video card and the DVD burners.

I start the research on Motherboards and CPUs tomorrow. I should have it all laid out in a week or so, and as God is my witness by Jan 1st, 2012, I will have my ENTIRELY brand NEW PC.... including a new monitor, keyboard, and mouse!

Mission: PC Update starts... RIGHT NOW!

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Been A Little While...

My dear readers... it's been a little while since I've posted anything. I know how much you enjoy reading my ramblings and essays. It must pain you beyond belief to not have heard from me in such a long time. All I can say is... I'm sorry. The good news is (as this post is clear evidence of) I'm posting again. And I have a LOT of content to put out there. Keep an eye out over the next couple of days. You'll get a lot more stuff to ponder over...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!!

And now ladies and gentlemen without further ado, here is the first trailer for the new Avengers movie coming out May 2012.






'Nuff said!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Night Out...

This past Saturday I went to one of my old haunts. This great little bar in Haverhill, MA called "Kelley's Pub". Now, I know what you're thinking, dear readers. You're thinking "But you don't drink, why would you be at a bar?" Well, the truth is I was in the mood to do some karaoke and Kelley's was where I started. So, I decided to go back. I hadn't been there in years and it seemed like a good idea to go back and check it out. Interestingly enough, the place really hasn't changed much. They improved the lighting, and added some more doors to improve ventilation, but otherwise it's the same place. Now, as surprising as my decision was to venture out, that wasn't the biggest surprise of the evening for me.

Big surprise #1: When I arrived, there was a birthday party! A girl was celebrating her 30th birthday... at a bar. It's an interesting choice, and one I might actually consider for myself someday. (When I can afford to throw MYSELF a birthday party!) It's a cool idea, and if I do it on the bar's karaoke night, I might even get "free" karaoke at my birthday!

Big surprise #2: The karaoke at Kelley's is still being run by the same lady, a hottie named Danielle. What makest this an even bigger surprise is that she remembered me on sight. And this was after my not showing up to one of her karaoke nights in about 2 years! She actually remembered my name! And not like it took her awhile to remember, I mean right away. She saw me and greeted me right away. And then immediately asked if I was going to sing that night. Apparently, my singing made some sort of impression. I wonder why, I mean it's not like I'm a good singer or anything.

Big surprise #3: It took me while to find a song. Not that I didn't want to sing or anything, but people kept picking the songs I wanted to do before I could put them in. So, I picked one of my "standards", Micheal Jackson's Billie Jean. Now, normally when I pick a song, there really isn't any reaction. People just go about their business. But, this time was different. The "dance floor" was emptying out as my name was called to go sing. I went up to the mic, and as soon as the music started playing, the crowd actually CHEERED and people came back to dance! One girl (and yes, she was very cute!) even told me that my choice of song was "the best song of the night"! She then proceeded to started vaguely threaten me that "I'd better kill this song or else". I didn't really need the additional performance pressure, but it was understandable considering that there were only 3 people in the bar who knew I could do a somewhat passable job at singing. It also added to her attractiveness which I think is a little weird, but par for the course for me.

I hung out till the bar closed at 1, heard KaraokeGirl Danielle sing incredible versions of Rihanna's "S&M" and Adelle's "Rolling In The Deep". I listened to some good music, sang a song, checked out a bunch of hot women who were dressed to kill. In the end, I have to admit, I had fun. It was a good time. And I find myself looking forward to going back.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Thoughts On... Abortion

I know this is a hot button topic for people, and normally I don't discuss it. But I recently read a blog post discussing the topic and I can't really stop thinking about it. My opinion on abortion is.... unusual. I'm good with intellectual analysis, so let's take this from an intellectual perspective. The issue of abortion seemingly revolves around two key issues: the definition of life and when life starts. But for me, there are two more factors: the definition of murder and human nature.

Normally, when the battle between pro-lifer & the pro-choice movement starts it's about where life begins. Pro-life says life begins at conception, pro-choice says it begins at birth. And this then leads to the battle on how to define life. But let's stick to where life starts. On this part, I have to go with the pro-lifers. Life starts at conception. Before you get all bent out of shape, hear me out. Science believes that life on this planet started when certain amino acids got together and created the first living cells. And that's the key. Even today, modern science recognized that there are LIVING SINGLE CELL ORGANISMS. (For example, the amoeba. If you do some research, I'm sure you can find more.) So, if a single cell can be alive, then a fertilized egg is alive. Period.

The question is what does "alive" mean? Enter the definition of life. In my experience with science, there are 2 types of life: sentient (self-aware, conscious, like human life), non-sentient (not self-aware, like an amoeba). Pro-lifers believe that a fetus is a person, where pro-choicers tend not to agree. And then the fighting begins which pretty much kills any further debate. Personally, I agree with the pro-choicers on this. A fetus is not a person. There is no question that a fetus is alive, since life begins at fertilization. However, to be a person it must SENTIENT life. A single cell is alive, like an egg or a neuron. But a single cell can't process feeling or emotion, but billions of them together, like with a brain (billions of neurons) or a baby (trillions of cells, including those neurons) CAN! For me, that is what makes a person.

Here's where my THIRD factor, the definition of murder, kicks in. Now, most people agree that murder is when one person kills another person. I don't subscribe to that theory. It's too messy because it has too many variables, the biggest of which is the definition of a person. My definition of a person works for me, but not for everyone. For example, if an alien kills a human (Greedo kills Han Solo) is that murder? Technically, if the alien isn't a person then it isn't murder is it? Under my definition the alien is a PERSON, just not a human one. For others, it may not. Think about it.

The one single universal quality of all life that humanity has encountered so far is that it's all mortal. In other words, EVERYTHING DIES. The key to my theory of murder is WHEN that death takes place. My definition of murder is the unnatural stoppage of life. I don't care who did it, just that a life was ended before it was supposed to. You pick a rose, that's murder. You stab a girl, that's murder. You abort a fertilized egg, that's murder. And for me, murder is wrong. 

Now the whole point of this debate is whether or not abortion should remain legal. This is where my fourth criteria, human nature, comes in. Let's say that abortion is re-classified as illegal. That won't stop people from having unwanted pregnancies. It's in human nature to have unprotected sex, that won't EVER stop. What will stop if abortion is illegal is the capability of reputable doctors to perform abortions. Reputable medical schools would have to stop TEACHING how to do it in fact, so there would be an entire generation of doctors who won't know how to do it at all. So to get an abortion, a woman would have to go to a non-reputable doctor. Which would lead to the very real possibility of her death. Now, I believe that one murder is bad, TWO murders is even worse. So, I support abortion being legal.

However, I can't personally support abortion. I just don't think it's the right thing to do. After all, I consider it murder! But with this last bit, my own personal code of ethics comes in. I've stated in previous posts, that I can't expect the rest of the world to live by my rules. The rest of the world, by definition, would include the hypothetical pregnant woman who I'm in the relationship with. According to my ethics, my rules do not override her decisions. So, while I can't support abortion personally (and I never will), in the end the choice must rest solely on her shoulders. Experience has taught me that lesson all too well.

And that's my stance on the subject. I don't really fall in either camp, but reside in the small overlap of both theories. I don't ask that you agree with me, dear readers, as I said this is a very hot button topic that leads to intense debate and serious fights. But, I hope that after reading this post, you'll at least understand my point of view. Share your point of view in the comments section!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Diet Update - Weight Watchers Week 3

It's been a little while since I've written one of these. With all the upheaval going on in my life, it is difficult to take the time to sit down and write one of these posts. But, if I don't take the time to do it, it'll be the first thing that slips. One slip will lead to another, and another, and then I'll be back where I started. So this is me taking the time to chronicle my latest step on the path to a healthier me. You'll notice that I didn't make a reference to war or a battle there. That's because I've actually changed the way I see this process. It's a small change, but as is evident in Chaos Theory, small changes can vastly alter the course of events. And this was a very small change.

Up until now, I saw my weight loss as an adversarial process. I thought I had to battle myself, to wage war against my mind in order to accomplish my goals. However there is a rather large flaw in that theory. My gaining weight wasn't a malicious act. There wasn't some part of me that cruelly plotted to kill me over the course of 30-50 years by putting food in my mouth. I am the way I am right now because of the choices I made. Sure, there were outside influences, but I chose how I reacted to those influences and events I couldn't control. I chose how they would affect me; how much importance to place on them. In the end, it was all my decision. And these decisions were made slowly, step by step... OVER TIME! When I realized that, I came to the inevitable conclusion that for this issue I was facing, I had to work the same way. I didn't need to mount some huge counter-offensive in my head. I just needed to make small changes and keep them going. If I want to be a healthy person, I have to make the choices that will lead me to that. It won't be instantaneous, and it won't be easy. But it is that simple.

And these choices can't be made for frivolous reasons. It is statistically proven that the average man will not make the choice to eat healthier until they have a major health crisis. I am proof of that. If it wasn't for my Gall Stone incident, I wouldn't be doing this. It isn't to get sex. it isn't to get a girlfriend or a wife. It isn't to become some active martial arts master. And, it isn't for anyone else, either. Lord knows, practically all of the few girlfriends I've had have asked me to lose weight. Friends, family, even strangers have all given me excellent reasons to lose weight. But in the end, I made this decision because I realized that I want my life. The good, the bad, the in between, I want it all. I want to live my life. And I want to live it for as long as possible. The only way I can do that (that's in my control) is to be healthier, to change my lifestyle and lose the weight that will most definitely kill me MUCH sooner than was intended. I did it because I WANTED TO.

There are people out there who have told me that I am an inspiration to them. Some have even started on their path to being healthier and losing weight because of me. That's pretty cool, and I wish you all the best. But, I hope you're doing this for the right reasons. Those reasons will sustain you during the rough road ahead.

Getting back on track, this is my 3rd week in Weight Watchers. When I started, I had gone up in weight from where I was on the HMR diet. That was mostly because I was no longer eating extremely low calorie foods. I went from 476.2lbs up to 480.4lbs. I missed my first meeting after that, so I don't know if I lost anything that first week. However, my second week, I had dropped 5.2lbs to be at 475.2 lbs. This put me just under the weight I was at during the last week of the HMR diet. So, I lost what I had gained, plus a pound or so. Here are the stats for my week 3 weigh in:

Previous Weight: 475.2lbs
Current Weight: 468.8lbs
Weight Delta: -6.4lbs

This is my single biggest drop in weight EVER. And, it isn't a mystery as to how it happened. I finally started going to the gym. In the past week, I've done a total of 3 two hour workout. I did some cardio to warm up, some weight training to build muscle, and then 60+ min of cardio to just burn fat. At this rate, in just 3 weeks, I will reach my first WW goal of losing 5% of my body weight. And that will be pretty cool. In the meeting, they also talked about physical anchors. Actual objects to remind you of the goals you accomplished. When I hit that 5% goal, I know exactly what I'll get as a reward and an anchor. I'll tell you when I get it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Top Ten Movie Songs...

By now, my dear readers, you should all know that I am a unabashed movie lover. However, Loving movies isn't just about collecting a bunch of DVDs and stacking them in a bookshelf or collecting digital copies on an external hard drive. It's about appreciating all aspects of movies: direction, cinematography, acting, writing, and music. Yes, even music. No matter how powerfully written a scene is, adding the right music adds an infinitely greater power to the scene, be it comic or tragic, intense or lighthearted. And music has been an aspect of movies that I have not given props to in this blog. Well that ends right now.

I've compiled my top ten movie songs as an ode to the depth music adds to movies. Now, as always, there are ground rules. The song has to be an actual SONG, meaning having lyrics as well as music. (Musical scores will be in a future post, I promise.) And the song has to be indelibly, inextricably linked to the film. Just because it's a hit song and it was in a movie doesn't make it a real movie song. Ready? Here we go:

10 - From Electric Dreams(1986), Culture Club's "Love Is Love"
We start the list with a little known 80s movie about Miles and his new computer that on one fateful night comes alive thanks to a fortuitous spill of liquid into the machine. One of the best scenes is when the man tries to teach the computer the meaning of love so it can write a love song. The first version was... well horrendous would be too kind a word. After a bit more coaching from Miles, it "composes" the second version of the song to show what it has learned.






The real beauty of this scene is the simplicity of the cinematography. Lyrics on the computer screen and shots of the girl who is the object of both Miles and his computer's love. It enhances the music perfectly. Incidentally, this is the ONLY Culture Club song that I actually LIKE.

09 - From Mortal Kombat(1995), The Immortal's "Techno-Syndrome"
Yes, I know that this song was written specifically for the movie, but very few movie theme songs truly capture the spirit of the movie. I know this movie is horrible, and the fight choreography was even worse. But you have to admit, hearing that battle cry, "MORTAL KOMBAT!!!" just gets your blood pumping and ready for a fight!







For this song, I didn't include a clip from the movie, but this video does capture the spirit of the song even if the end credits kind of ruins the effect.

08 - From Weird Science (1985), Oingo Boingo's "Weird Science"
And we're back in the 80s with a John Hughes movie about 2 teen boys who manage to achieve the Holy Grail of nerddom by creating a real live girl with their computer. Yet, even though they created her, they still can't control her.






It's amazing that the same man who wrote the music for Beetlejuice and the 1989 Batman came up with such a light, pop song that could still touch upon so many of the themes of the film. And thank God too, the movie would not have been the same without it.

07 - From Eddie & The Cruisers 2(1989) - John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band's "Garden of Eden"
This movie was about a man struggling to suppress the music living inside him. Despite the world's loving his previous work.






This particular song is emblematic of the main themes of the movie. A song that sticks doesn't have to have a lot of flash, it only needs to speak to something deep inside you. Even with a simple topic like the struggles of a man trying to get a girl's attentions (and showing a young punk who thinks he's a musician what a REAL artist can do), you can write something that will stay with your audience forever.

06 - From Joe Vs. The Volcano(1990) - Eric Bourdon's "16 Tons"
Joe Vs. The Volcano is a low key movie with high powered actors that just needed the work. It tells the incredible story of Joe, a normal guy working a dead job and happens to him when he's diagnosed with a fatal disease called a "Brain Cloud".







Now this song wasn't written for the movie, just redone. This rock version while upping the power of the original song, also adds to the dank, soul-killing atmosphere that Joe finds himself in at the beginning of the movie and the strength of will it takes to survive in that environment and maybe, just maybe getting OUT of that world.

05 - From Risky Business(1983), Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock 'N' Roll"
Do I really need to introduce this? Really?






This scene is over 25 years old, and yet as soon as that song starts playing the first image that comes to mind is Tom Cruise sliding down the hall and dancing around rejoicing that his parents are gone.

04 - From Say Anything...(1989), Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes"
To know Lloyd Dobler is to love him. Watch this movie and you will know Lloyd Dobler. This movie has so many awesome lines and great moments. This film pretty much sealed my appreciation of John Cusack's talent.






But who can forget that iconic moment with Cusack holding up the boombox as the couple's song plays trying to get his ex to talk to him again? Talk about a moment of movie magic! I was kind of hoping to find a video of the full song with that scene in it, but I had to settle for the music video.

03 - From Highlander(1986), Queen's "Who Want's To Live Forever?"
A movie of immortals roaming the world, in a contant struggle against each other to win the prize of being the last and only immortal left in the world. In the end, there can be only one!






While I have my personal favorite songs from the movie, this particular song speaks to the core themes of the film. How love can make you feel alive & help you pass the endless years of an immortal life. But when you have to watch your loved ones grow old and die, why would you want to live forever? Listening to this song can still bring tears to my eyes.

02 - From Almost Famous(2000), Elton John's "Tiny Dancer"
Almost Famous, the story of a young man chronicling his time with an up & coming band during the early 70s. It's a wonderfully touching coming of age story.






There are times when you're with a group of people that everyone seems to suddenly hit the same vibe. In fact, the movie is mostly about people trying to catch and keep that vibe going forever. This moment in the film captures it perfectly.


01 - From Legend(1985) (U.S. Version), Tangerine Dream's "Loved By The Sun
This is Ridley Scott's simple fairy tale. A story of innocence and love and how easily those can be corrupted. It was also my introduction to Tom Cruise. Looking at the movie 26 years later, I can see all the inherent flaws in the story as well as the production. (Honestly, I would LOVE to see Ridley do a remake of this one. Yet, I still find the movie utterly captivating. It will never lose it's hold on me.







Due to studio interference, Ridley Scott's original vision was never fully seen in the US until very recently. The biggest and most pervasive change was the removal of Jerry Goldsmith's soundtrack for what the studio thought would be a more effective pop soundtrack. I have since seen the original version and the studio made a grevious error with that change... except for this song. It's the one thing from the US version of the movie that I would keep. It captures everything the movie portrays: the simplicity of legendary stories, the majesty of nature, the beauty of love, the allure of innocence and the corosive effect of hatred. The video I selected for this is the best version I could find that represents the true power of this song for me.

And there you have it folks. My top ten movie songs. What are YOUR favorite movie music songs?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pick Things Up...

Well, after a long arduous process, I have finally come to a decision. I have finally chosen a gym. Actually, I chose the gym a while ago but I've neglected to tell you about it, dear readers. You might ask why, given how forward I have been on other, more embarrassing, topics. Frankly, I didn't actually believe I had made the choice, and I haven't been going on a regular basis. It seems that at the time I made the decision and acted on that choice, the rest of my life imploded. The universe didn't want me to keep going at this moment. But that is the subject of another post. Right now, let's focus on one of the few positive events that have occurred in recent times.

Getting back to topic, I've never had any illusions (delusions?) about myself. I'm a fat man roughly the size of one of Jupiter's medium sized moons. (Don't argue with me on terminology. The reality is I'm fat. Let me enjoy showing off my intelligence by creating cool references to my size. It's one of the few pleasures in my life. God knows no one else puts any effort into it. Seriously, how difficult is it to call me "Fatso"? You have billions of neurons in your brains, people, USE THEM!!) Despite my size, I'm surrounded by overly healthy, fitness minded friends. Those very same friends are going to explode in reaction when I announce the gym I've chosen. Some of you may have guessed already, for those of you who haven't, the gym I chose is: Planet Fitness.

Now, I wait while you all explode in reaction, positive or negative.
.........
......
...
..
.

Done? Good. Now for those of you who like the choice, Thank you. For those of you who don't, I'm sure you have many good reasons for why I should have chosen whatever other gym. Those reasons might even be valid. But there is only one real reason why I chose Planet Fitness. It breaks down into 4 words. Ready? Here they are:


UNLIMITED FREE PERSONAL TRAINING


Get it? I've never been afraid to admit when I don't have knowledge in a given topic. In those topics, I defer to experts. But getting access to those experts can be prohibitively expensive, especially in the realm of health & fitness. So to get that knowledge for FREE (meaning at no additional cost above the membership fees) is a chance I HAD to grab. While my membership allows me to go to any of their facilities, the gym I'm going to be at the most is the one on Exit 6 next to Chunky's. I'll usually be there at night, most likely after 8pm so I can avoid the crowds and have access to more machines. Any of you who have memberships, feel free to drop by, you might even see me!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

I Love This Plan, I'm Excited To Be A Part Of It....

Since I lost my diet plan last Thursday, I've been thinking about where to go from here. After all, I still have direct health issues to deal with. Just because I'm not paying an OBSCENE amount of money to a diet program doesn't make my medical problems go away. I gave serious consideration to devising my own plan and working that. I have no doubt that I can do it, or that it would be effective. After spending several minutes building up my ego on the subject ("Yeah, I can DO this!! It'll all be ME!!!), my mind decided to actually kick in and shut me up by bringing to light the biggest problem with me doing this on my own: depression.

There are times when I get really depressed. Due to life stuff, due to financial stuff, due to whatever, and being on a program by myself, I can lose track of the importance of being "on plan" just because I don't care enough about myself at the moment. (It's happened in the past, believe me.) In virtually all those cases, it took the influence of someone ELSE to break me out of my "funk". I looked at some online only programs, but that just gives the illusion of being connected. In reality (or IRL, for the chat savvy amongst you, my dear readers), you're still alone in a room, typing on a PC.

One of the many good things about the program I was on, was being in a tiny room (which was kind of stupid considering there were going to be a great deal of obese people there) full of people going through the same things you are. Some are further along (which gives you hope that you can make the next couple of days or weeks), others are just starting (to whom YOU give hope to. Which can be quite weird!), and some are just maintaining their weight. But that energy is something that was cool to tap into. While the instruction wasn't all that great (but teaching ME, of all people, can be challenging given my data absorption rate), but my classmates were cool. I got some good ideas from them, and I think they got some good ideas from me. In the end, I wanted to get in touch with that vibe again.

So, I looked around and decided to join Weight Watchers. It's kind of the best of both worlds. I get to be in a comprehensive program which has been around FOREVER. (Says alot, right?) I get to go to meetings which by their very nature will have a different flavor of that same vibe I'm looking for. It's inexpensive (only $40/month), and since they don't have food restrictions (just portion control) I can design my own meal plan. I joined today, and I'm learning the ropes on their online site. Later on, when I get the moolah, I'll be getting either an iPod Touch or a smartphone to get the WWMobile app and be tracking EVERYWHERE!! For now, I'll need my home PC (or I can track at work).  The WW Center is near my house and on my way home from work, so that's really cool! I go to my first meeting tomorrow evening. I'm kind of nervous, but that's natural when starting something new.

For those of you in WW, my daily points allowance is 71, which I hear is a LOT of food. Right now, I'm working on figuring out how many points I used today, which I have to get back to. So this is so long for now, folks. Oh, and keep an eye out, I might have another announcement in a couple of days!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Diet Update: Week 6 - The Final Week

You are probably very intrigued by the title of this post. After all, I told you that the initial phase of my diet program was 13 weeks. But when I first heard of this program while sitting in my hospital room at St. Joseph's, I made what has turned out to be a prophetic statement. And, dammit, I was proven right. The statement was very simple. "I don't think I can afford this program." At the time, though, it was a medical necessity because I needed to lose weight quickly in order to increase the safety margins of the operation to remove my gall bladder. I thought it would go quickly because of the weight I had already lost on the IV fluids, but that turned out to be COMPLETELY wrong.

Now, I'd been working with the people running the program to manage the doctor and class fees as well as the cost of food. And for a little while, things were going well. Then the prices went up on the food and I started falling behind. I kept up a valiant effort, and I thought I was holding my own. Because of my suspended license (see previous post), I missed Tuesday's diet class. I called in and let them know the situation. I also told them I'd make up Tuesday's class tonight.

I walk into the clinic, and the lady who 6 weeks ago told me that she would do whatever it takes to make the fees work for me tells me that I currently owe $410. I told her I could pay half. she said she was getting pressure from the corporate office and she needed to collect the whole amount. I informed her that I couldn't do that and still pay my rent. My only other option was to with the At-Home version of the program, so I wouldn't have to pay for classes. That dropped my debt to $310.  Yay!! I still can't pay that. And just like that, I couldn't continue in the program.

So, with a small supply of diet food in my house, I was asked if I wanted to put down the $200 I had towards the debt. I know she was trying to be nice. I really, really do. Which allowed me to keep from yelling my response to her. If I give you that money without being in the program, I don't get the diet food, and I won't have the money to buy groceries (a.k.a. REAL food), since the rest of my money HAS to go to the rent. I guess while I wasn't yelling, I came across kind of intense because she seemed a bit taken aback. She asked if I would like to talk to their nutritionist to set up one on one consultations. I said sure and sat to wait for the nutritionist's schedule to open up. After about 3-4 minutes of waiting, I saw the nurse that handled my weigh ins, and told her I was out of the program, but I wanted to get a final weigh in. She said she could in a few minutes. Then one of the class instructors came out, recognized me and came over to chat. I sketched in the situation, and she seemed genuinely sorry. Then she headed in to start her class. Another minute or so, and the nurse came out to do my weigh in:

Previous Weight: 476.2lbs
Current Weight: 477.6lbs
Weight Delta: +1.4.6lbs

(Although, my scale at home says I'm at 470lbs.. so think on that!)

That was the icing on the fucking cake! I went UP in weight this week! I thanked the nurse for the courtesy and then sat back down to wait for the nutritionist. After a further 10 min or so of waiting, I get called back up to the reception area, where I'm told that I would need a referral from my primary care physician in order to set up the one on one consultations. Rather than have me wait (neatly skipping over the 20 min or so I had just wasted waiting), I could just get the referral and then come back.

I nodded and turned to collect my things and leave. As I was about to walk out, the lady asks if I would like to buy the week's worth of food I had ordered. Once again, I showed the mastery of my restraint and didn't yell my response, but I couldn't really mask the bitterness in my voice, as I simply said, "There really wouldn't be a point." And left.

From the beginning, I KNEW this program was going to end this way. I had no doubt that I would be able to do the diet, I just knew I wouldn't be able to afford it. And the fucked up part is, the program was WORKING!! Aside from today's mishap, I had lost approximately 30lbs!!! This is yet ANOTHER THING that I couldn't fucking have because I simply did not have the money for it! God, I am so angry right now I could kill someone.

But this is NOT the end of my health issue. It's not like my gall bladder is going to suddenly fix itself. I still have to lose weight to have the surgery. I still want to keep losing weight until I get into my target range of 200-250lbs. This is just the end of that particular diet program. And I have changed. I'm no longer drinking soda as if I were hooked on an IV, I'm walking 3/4ths of a mile every day (except during rain storms and hurricanes), and I am healthier. Which brings up the question: what happens next?

Well, some of my friends had said to me (after I got out of the hospital & before I started the HMR diet program) that I could lose the weight on my own. Are they correct? I don't know, but I guess it's high time I find out. 

Speaking of the Big House...

Awhile back, I got a ticket because my car was not registered & I got a warning because I still had my temp driver's license. That started an odyssey that put me up against the DMV in TWO different states. Two days and massive headaches with a double dosage of bureaucracy, and I was able to get my actual license & my car registered. But in my battles, I forgot one key thing: the original ticket.

It was forgotten until this past Friday, when I was pulled over by the cops and found out that my license was suspended. And as you all know, driving with a suspended license is against the law. And what happens when the cops catch you doing something illegal? You get arrested. Yes, my dear readers, I was arrested on Friday. When the cops put the cuffs on me, he told me that he was cuffing me with my hands in front because I was too big to fit in the back of the police car with my hands cuffed behind me. It turns out he was right. I was barely able to get in the car with my hands in front.

Getting out of the car was another ordeal. After a couple of minutes trying to get out, the cop had to uncuff one of my hands, so I could get out of the car. He cuffed me again and walked me into the police station, booked me and threw me in a cell. I was fingerprinted (digitally, which was so cool!) then placed back in my cell to wait for the bail commissioner. I signed some paper work paid a fine to the B.C. and then got a cab ride home. Then I got a ride to the tow yard, where my car was and paid the fine to get my car out, had a friend drive my car home and then take me to work. And then for the next five days, I had to make due with rides to work and staying home instead of doing what I needed to get done (like go to my diet class). Then I got my paycheck and paid the DMV off and got my driving privileges re-instated.

In the Big House....

For those of you who don't know what happened at the end of House's seventh season:


DO NOT READ THE REST OF THIS POST!!!
 
SERIOUSLY!
DON'T DO IT!!

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!




At the of S7 of House, M.D., our favorite misanthropic medicine man drove a car through his ex-girlfriend, Cuddy's, house. Luckily no one was hurt, but that was one HELL of a fuck you. The last we saw of House he was on a beach basking in the sun. Now check out the preview for season 8 of House, M.D., potentially it's final season:







Prepare yourself for an obvious bad pun... It looks like House wound up in the Big House for that little stunt last year. (Told ya, it would be a bad pun... Hey, at least, I warned you!) It looks like he achieved the status he so envied in an anecdote he told previously about a hospital janitor in Japan who no one acknowledged until there was an undiagnosable medical condition at which point, the janitor was called to save the day. This season also marks the end of 13's (a.k.a. Dr. Remy Hadley) tenure on the show. Rumor has it that if S8 turns out to be House's final season, she might pull a comeback, but that remains to be seen.

Still, it looks like House is still up to his old tricks, and if this is his final run, I hope it's a good one!! Thoughts?

End Of Summer...*


Summer is always a bittersweet time in my year. I don't like intense heat, but it's a break from the seemingly never ending cold of New England. I'm not great with women and seeing them strut around in less than nothing is a painful reminder of that, but nothing beats scantily clad women walking around all over the place. (Except NAKED women, of course!) Hey, I'm a straight guy, staring at women is built into my DNA. Now, summer is coming to a close and to be quite honest, I look forward to it. My favorite season is Autumn after all, so I just take the end of summer in stride.

Right around this time, though, a very specific memory comes to mind. It's back from when I was in college in Vermont. This was during a time in my life when I was still just a city boy getting used to the cultural shock of living in a rural environment. Instead of going home for the summer, I volunteered to stay at the college and work for the summer in the computer labs to help the Summer Language programs with their IT issues.

Normally, when someone thinks about Vermont they think of nothing but miles & miles of snow and cold weather. Take it from me, you wouldn't be too far off. But during the summer (short as it is up there), it's like a whole other world. Almost like something out of a fairy tale. Personally, I hated it. I missed the sounds and rhythms of the city. The honking horns, the blend of different foods cooking in the air, the people yelling.. all of it.

One night, I was walking back to my dorm after my shift, and taking my usual shortcut through a field when I spotted something in the almost waist high grass in front of me. The only way I could describe it was that it looked like the grass was sparkling. At first, I thought I was imagining it. I kept walking and I saw it again. The grass was sparkling!! I stopped dead in my tracks and just watched. When I stopped moving, I noticed that the lights were moving and blinking on and off. That's when my brain kicked the awe & surprise out and I realized what I was seeing: fireflies!

In my whole life, I had NEVER seen a firefly. I stayed in that spot watching the fireflies for a full ten minutes before they drifted away. Looking back it seems kind of stupid, but at the time it was a very magical moment for me. That moment is when I got my first real appreciation for nature. If the non urban world can come up with something that beautiful... there might be something to it. And if I recall properly, later on that week, I met my first girlfriend.

Every year when summer ends, that memory comes to mind. Interesting, huh?

* This post was written for Awesome Annie's Rockin' Art Show. Check it out. You might learn something!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Birth of Psychoanalysis...

There are times when several great people get together under the hand of a master and accomplish something beyond awesome. It happened with the Ocean's Eleven remake and I think it's going to happen again. Check out the following trailer for A Dangerous Method:





I doubt that this will gain the same level of press buzz as Ocean's Eleven, but many great films were ignored by the masses. Just think about this, we have Michael Fassbender (Hex, 300, X-Men: First Class), Keira Knightley (POTC: Curse of the Black Pearl, King Arthur, The Jacket), Viggo Mortensen (The Prophecy, Hidalgo, Eastern Promises), and Vincent Cassel (Ocean's 12, Eastern Promises, Black Swan) all in ONE Movie under the direction of David Cronenberg (Scanners, eXistenZ, History of Violence)... This is a MUST SEE MOVIE!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Welcome to Fright Night... For Real

There was a time back in the day when horror movies were fun to watch. They didn't take themselves too seriously, but they weren't complete spoof movies either. Then came movies like Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Friday the 13th which proved that horror movies can be a serious money making  genre for Hollywood, and a good portion of the fun left the genre. Like the original, Fright Night is a fun movie.

The storyline isn't really original. A teenage boy, Charlie (played by Anton Yelchin), finds out that his next door neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell) is actually a vampire. Predictably, no one believes him, so he goes to the nearest vampire expert Peter Vincent (played by David Tennant) to help him kill Jerry. Honestly, it sounds like the plot of practically every vampire movie before Blade. But Fright Night differs in how it treats the concept of it's story line.

For example, it's a trope of modern day vampire lore for vampires to have exotic sounding names or old world versions of common ones, which is played with by naming the vampire Jerry. And then have the characters in the film riff on that. And there are plenty of other clever little tricks thrown in to give the overloaded vampire movie genre a fresh cleansing breath of laughter. I would say that the closest I've seen to this style of writing comes from Buffy The Vampire Slayer (the tv show), but that's not really a surprise since the main writer of this movie, Marti Noxon actually wrote for that show. Obviously the script for this version covered a great many of the plot holes of the original as well as updated the story for modern times. It also added more dimension and depth to the characters, giving the cast more to sink their teeth into, so to speak.

Speaking of the cast, the casting was also phenomenal. For me, most movies starring Colin Farrell tend to be hit or miss depending on whether or not the director chooses to let Farrell act or just focus on his movie star looks. With Fright Night, there really wasn't a chance for a miss since either approach, given the tone of the film, would just enhance the performance. Anton Yelchin is perfectly cast as Charlie, since he seems to specialize in being able to display courage, fear, sincerity and intelligence all at once. My favorite role of his is still the young Kyle Reese in Terminator Salvation, but Fright Night is a close second. But the real surprise for me was how much I loved David Tennant (formerly the 10th Doctor Who) as Peter Vincent. This Criss Angel clone version of Peter Vincent really played to Tennant's major strength as an actor which is the constant switching from semi-serious to completely outrageous and back. I do have to admit, it was awesome seeing Tennant again.

Overall, I can't say that this movie will be winning any Oscars, or even MTV Movie awards. This isn't an award type of movie. I would this more as a modern day cult classic along the lines of Army of Darkness. So, if you're looking for a cool flick to pass a couple of hours with, I would DEFINITELY recommend Fright Night. Oh and if you go see it, keep an eye out for a couple of cameo appearances, one by Lisa Loeb and the other... I'll leave as a surprise.

Oh, and to end this particular review, I'll leave you with my favorite song off the Fright Night 2011 soundtrack, Hugo's cover of 99 Problems! Enjoy!




Friday, August 26, 2011

More Medical News...

Today was the day I met the surgeon that is going to eventually take out my gall bladder. The appointment was little more than a 15 min conversation. And at the end of that conversation, I have to ask a question: Do all doctors go to a class that teaches them how to deliver news in the most doom & gloom, creepy way possible? I mean, I get it. I've watched the requisite medical shows. I understand the psychology here. Most people in my situation are kind of clueless about the dire circumstances they are in. And an overly blunt, even slightly cold recitation of the possible outcomes can be a shocking awakening, kind of like a bucket of glacier cold water dumped on you. But in my case, all it really did was showcase how little this doctor knew of the kind of man I am.

I already knew the risks, and I know the dangers I'm currently facing as well as the factors I have on my side. So while the shocking speech really had no effect on me, it did allow me to learn something about my surgeon. And I liked what I deduced. He seemed to be a no nonsense, straight talking kind of man. The type that will always tell you the truth, whether you like it or not. This is the type of man that can be a good ally in the medical battles ahead of me.

As for the medicine, we covered the risks of the procedures I have to have done. There are two. One is the gall bladder removal, and the second is an endoscopic procedure to check and make sure that all the gall stones are out of my system (and if not, remove them). There is a risk in delaying the procedures, but that same delay also buys me time to lose more weight and increase the safety factor. My surgeon has done this many times and according to him 800,000 gall bladders are removed in the US every year. It's a very common procedure with minor risks.

We went over my gall stone incident in the broad strokes, and I sketched out the particulars of the diet program I'm in. He wanted to discuss permanent weight loss options, meaning gastric bypass surgery or the lap band ring. But I pretty much vetoed that. This diet is working for me, and I want to give it a real shot before I start to consider more drastic, surgical options. As for how well the program is working, realizing how much I lost in such a short time kind of clued the doc into the fact that I was taking this very seriously.

By his assessment, (and I agree) my weight loss progress is good so far, but now I have to step up my game. The easy part of my weight loss program is pretty much over, now it's time for more strenuous activity so I can ramp up the drop in weight. A side benefit of more powerful workouts is that my muscles, skin & other organs will tighten up. This will reduce the amount of excess skin I will most likely have to remove as I keep up the weight loss.

I also got a time frame for the surgery. Balancing risk vs reward, safety vs medical necessity,  he would recommend the procedure be done within the next 2 months. I set up another appointment with him in a month to further assess my progress. If things are going well, he'll schedule the surgery at that time. But the surgery will have to be at least a month out. We both agreed that this is the best course of action.

From here on out, my goals are basically to stick with the diet, ramp up the physical exercise and focus on losing as much weight as I possibly can. I still believe that I can lose all the weight I need without surgical intervention. Now, it's time to put my money where my mouth is and PROVE IT!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Diet Update: Week 5

Well, it's Tuesday night, again, and you all know what that means!! That's right, it's time for my diet update!! Grab the popcorn, put the kids to bed, this is going to be an amazing ride!!! (Not really..) For those of you who don't remember, my diet changed last week due to financial difficulties. I couldn't afford the diet with all the medical supervision, so they dropped the doctor visits. This had the unexpected side effect of switching me to an alternate beginner's track.

Before, my diet consisted of a minimum of 3 shakes & 2 entrees. I could have more, but that was the basic minimum I had to consume daily. The numbers approximate 1,000 calories a day. But that was with medical supervision. Now, my diet has an added "catch", I have to have 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day. MINIMUM... What's a serving? Usually about 1 cup of whatever item your discussing. Unless it's salad greens.. one serving of lettuce (for example) is THREE cups!! DAMN!!

According to their numbers, the average U.S. citizen eats about 1.5 cups of fruits & veggies COMBINED in a day. My diet requires I almost TRIPLE that. Nice, right? Well, this first week, I tried the best I could, and managed to get up to about 3 servings a day for 3-4 days. But something about the switch worked. Check out my weigh in results!!


Previous Weight: 480.8lbs
Current Weight: 476.2lbs
Weight Delta: -4.6lbs


And another 4 lbs down!!! Yeah!! Right now, I'm at the weight I was when I left the hospital after my GSI (gall stone incident). This is kind of a mind blowing thing. Get this: I was on IV fluids for 4 days with no food of any kind and then on hospital food for 2 days. When I left I was 474lbs. Get that? In less than ONE WEEK, I dropped from 506 to 474. When I started eating solid foods, I gained it all back.

It took me FIVE WEEKS to lose almost the EXACT SAME AMOUNT OF WEIGHT!! Fucked up, right? And this latest 4 lb drop was INCLUDING fruits & veggies!! All in all, this was a good weigh-in. I kinda feel like celebrating, but I don't really have a way of doing that just yet. I'll think of something!

Strange Events Today...

Today has become kind of surreal for me. First, I realize that all my clothes are starting to feel looser than they were before. I have 3 pairs of jeans, 1 pair that is blue and 2 that are black. The blue jeans were always loose on me. One of the black jeans was a little tighter than the blue but still kinda loose. The other black jeans were tight. Both of my black jeans were so tight in fact, that I didn't need belts to wear them. Yesterday, around mid-afternoon I noticed that I had to keep pulling up my jeans (they were a black pair). Today, I grab the other black jeans and the same thing starts happening, to the point where I had to dig around to find my belt or risk my pants sliding half way down my butt and making me look inappropriately cool (NOT).

Secondly, at lunch today, one of my co-workers tells me that there is a noticeable difference in my appearance! I've been looking at myself and referencing an old pic (prior to all of this) and I have NOT seen a difference. Then a second co-worker concurred! This part is cool, but kind of unbelievable.

Finally, there's my walk. One, I noticed that I've gained speed again. I'm now at 6 min per quarter mile. Which is great, until you realize that the same 18 min that it took me to do 2 laps, I'm now doing THREE laps!! DAMNIT!!!! What's worse is, I did 3 laps and I only had minor cramping in my back. It looks like my new shoes and insoles are helping out my cause.

But this walking thing is getting kind of dangerous, I was almost hit by a FedEx truck during my second lap. I'm still a big guy, I can't believe the guy almost didn't SEE me!! But I'm okay and it looks like this new diet stuff might actually be working!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Looney Tunes Auto Insurance

I've always found the art of filming commercials interesting. Such a short time to hawk a product to millions of people. And very few make good ones. One such company is my car insurance company, Geico. For years, their commercials have had me rolling on the floor laughing my ass off!! (or ROTFLMAO for those of you who can't read normal english anymore)

I just saw a new commercial (to me) for Geico that I think is hysterical!! Check it out:





However, my favorite commercial is the one with "the Movie Trailer Guy" Don LaFontaine. *does the voice*

In a world where no recognizes a man, his voice becomes memorable..

Check out this one:





That is by far my FAVORITE Geico commercial!!

Economic Implosion....

I am very particular about the movies I like. I used to think that I was open to any and all movies, but to be completely honest, I'm a movie snob. And being the "larger than life" personality that I am (a quote from my friends, I don't actually believe that about myself), I make sure that everyone knows how much of a movie lover I am.

The cool thing about my friends is that whenever they find an interesting or "out there" kind of movie, they bring it to my attention. This was after they stopped trying to find movies that I haven't seen at the local video store. The age of the internet makes it easier to just send me links to movie trailers. Here's the latest trailer I was recommended by my friend, Rafael.





Hollywood continues it's obsession with beginning of the fall of US economy in 2008. But given how little has been actually explained, it is a rich topic for exploration. The really interesting part of all this is the casting though.

For a single film to attract the attentions of Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Simon Baker, Stanley Tucci and Demi Moore, the concept and script must have been an AMAZING read. This is a movie I'm DEFINITELY going to see. Thoughts?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thoughts On... The Nuances of Morality

This past weekend I was given the opportunity to try a new activity. One that, when I first heard about it, I thought went against my established principles and morals. Granted, I wanted to do it, after all, trying something new is always interesting, but something in my head put the brakes on, and I was locked in indecision.

And that was the key thing. Normally, when I find that something goes against what I believe, I just refuse and drop the matter. But something kept pushing me to reexamine the situation. It was like I knew I would be making a mistake by refusing. And it turned out I was right. In re-thinking the issue, it turns out that I was refusing because the opportunity was being provided by someone who wasn't acting according to what I thought should be done. And once I figured that out... everything changed.

The single biggest rule in my personal code of conduct is that my rules apply to ME. I can't expect the rest of the world to live by MY rules. Who am I to tell everyone else what to do? God? Hitler? The Republicans? No. Just because someone is acting by what they believe is right instead of what I believe is right doesn't make their actions wrong. I don't eat snails or frog's legs, but I don't say that the French are wrong to enjoy that. In re-examining the situation from that perspective, my whole outlook on the matter changed and I think it became much more accurate.

However, in looking back, I'm surprised how subtle the influence of my principles are. It was a gentle pressure to guide my "kneejerk reaction" to land against something that turned out to be greatly to my benefit. I think that in the future, I will be much more vigilant in how I apply my philosophy to the world around me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Diet Update X2

As you may have noticed, I skipped my diet update last week. There wasn't any real reason for it, I just forgot. Hey, I'm human, I'm entitled to some forgetfulness every once in awhile, right? I still went to my diet class, I'm still on the diet. Nothing's changed... Well, that's not exactly true, but we'll get to that a bit later. Because I forgot, today you're getting a DOUBLE DOSE of diet magic!! Here are the numbers for last week's meeting (8/9):

Previous Weight: 486lbs
Current weight: 482.2lbs
Weight Delta: -3.8lbs

Now that was a bump up in the right direction! Unfortunately, I broke my diet again this past weekend. I had some Chinese food on Sunday and then some bar snacks on Mon. I don't really have an excuse except to say that I did it of my own free will, and I accept the consequences of my actions. Those consequences are below:

Previous Weight: 482.2lbs
Current Weight: 480.8lbs
Weight Delta: -1.4lbs

I checked with the diet people and today I've closed out my 4th week on this diet. I've looked back on my progress and my biggest issue is exercise. I've upped my physical activity a great deal this past month, but I need to really step it up. My calories burned need to jump drastically. So, by the end of this week, I will have joined a gym and started working out on a daily basis. And this will be IN ADDITION to my lunchtime walks! I'll just have to see which gym I can afford.Now, one month is a good milestone, right? So lets look back and see how I'm doing by the numbers.

Career High Weight (just before the hospital stay): 506lbs
Current Weight: 480.8lbs
Weight Delta: 25.2 lbs <===== Can you BELIEVE THAT!!! In just over FOUR WEEKS!! Right??

I mentioned earlier that something's changed. It's always been my belief that I wasn't going to be able to afford this diet. And at some point, I was going to be unable to continue because of the financial burden. Well, the first domino in that direction has fallen. In looking back on the past month, the higher ups in this program have identified that I'm struggling with the fees of the program. So they've moved me out of the medically supervised level of the diet. This by necessity means I'm now in the track that allows fruits & vegetables as part of my diet. This is the big change I was talking about earlier.

I'm hoping that this will help me save some money (since I don't have to pay for the doc visits any more) and make my life on this diet easier. We'll see how that plays out.

A Chill Falls Over Gotham....

There's two months left and my anticipation builds with each passing day. So far, every thing I've heard & seen for Arkham City makes the game look even more awesome. Yesterday, they jumped to a new level of awesomeness!!!! They revealed a new boss and he looks off the HOOK!!! To modify a phrase from a tv show I'm watching:




THE FREEZE IS COMING!!!


Now, I have to admit, when I first read Mr. Freeze in the comics, I wasn't too impressed. He just seemed like a blank slate villain of the week to me. But when the people creating Batman: The Animated Series re-wrote him, he became much more fascinating. They maintained the hard-nosed aloofness of the comics version, while simultaneously adding a layer of tragic sadness & misery to him that made me empathize with Victor Fries's plight. These same people are working on the Arkham City game and they are carrying on with Dr. Fries's story in excellent fashion. Check out the trailer:







Wasn't that amazing? And I noticed a few things. One (and this is really awesome) they managed to get Michael Ansara (the voice actor who played Freeze in Batman:TAS and Batman Beyond) to reprise the role!!!!* Second, in terms of game mechanics, it looks like the boss fights in B:AC are going to be more customized to the style of the villains you're facing, which is amazing considering that the repetitive nature of the boss fights in B:AA was one of my pet peeves with the game. October 18th can not come fast enough!! What are YOUR thoughts on Mr. Freeze?

*NOTE: Turns out I was wrong on the actor playing Mr. Freeze. It's actually Maurice LaMarche.Another great veteran voice actor. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Young Cimmerian ...

Below, I have a video that I found of the first scene of the new Conan movie. It shows a young Conan eager to fight with the Warriors. There's nothing really spoilerish about it, and there's a trailer afterwards.

Check out the quality of the fighting and cinematography here...





After watching this scene, I'm feeling a GREAT DEAL better about this version of Conan The Barbarian. The trailer afterwards is pretty good too. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Top Ten Book Movies....

So, there I was taking a 5 min mental health break at work and I decided to cruise some of the blogs my friends like reading and I came across the blog of a new author, Jennifer Hillier, who had a post about her top ten favorite movies based off novels and the idea caught fire in my mind! Come on, I'm a movie buff and I read a lot. Are you seriously surprised that I'm enthusiastic about this idea!!

But, being a movie buff, I can't just spit out a bunch of movie titles. After all, there are so many great (and not so great) movie versions of books. But the rules here are very simple: I can only include movies based on novels I've ACTUALLY READ. So, a great movie like, Shawshank Redemption, is out because I never read the story it was based on. Let's see if I can actually make it to ten!

10) Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling - While I did have some problems with the pacing of the film (it came across like a series of vignettes and not a school year in the life of Harry Potter), the movie managed to capture that sense of awe & wonder that is part & parcel of being a child and that the books had in spades. For me, it's what made the books so enjoyable to read.





09) Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams - Reading this series of books is taking a trip into a sci-fi wonderland built on complete and utter nonsense. A feat that I thought would be impossible to bring to live-action film. This movie proved me wrong. Now, I grant you the dry British style humor didn't really carry over to American audiences, but I still LOVED the movie.






08) Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton - In every book-to-movie translation, there are ideas that have to be dropped for many reasons. Watching the movie, I was amazed at how the filmmakers managed to retain so much of the core philosophy of the book with just a fossil (get it?) of the story line. And despite the media hype over the special effects of the movie, I was very relieved that the story had just as much importance as getting the dinosaurs as photo-realistic as possible.





07) LOTR: Fellowship of The Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien - Unlike the other two movies which mostly descended into a pattern of walking, fearfully waiting for major battle, inspired speech to dispel fear, major battle, and repeat, the first movie did exactly what the first book did: Make you fall in love with the Hobbits and their way of life. Pulling you into their world through kindness and affection and then gripping you with fear as that world is threatened. It was awesome!!!





06) The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown - This movie was basically a carbon copy of the book. Since the book was so awesome, the movie was therefore just as awesome. There's nothing like a good religious conspiracy to get the blood pumping!!!







 05) Noble House by James Clavell - This is probably the longest book I've ever read without it being assigned in some class. The incredible depth of detail that Clavell poured into that book was masterfully reproduced in the movie. (Granted it's a made for TV movie that was split over 3 nights, but it was such an amazing work I had to include it!!)






04) The Dark Half by Stephen King - As this blog proves, I like to write. And given my predisposition to the Sci-Fi & Fantasy genres, I had come up with the idea of writing something that becomes real, but Stephen King did an EXCEPTIONAL job with this book and the movie really captured that spirit. It's one of the few movies that EVER creeped me out.





03) American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis - When I heard that this book was being made into a movie, I thought it would suck. There was no way a human being could portray the multi-faceted psychological landscape of the main character. Then I watched the movie and it was like I was watching the book play out before my eyes. I was riveted. This was also my introduction to Christian Bale, who soon became one of my FAVORITE actors.





02) Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice - This book was recommended to me by the chaplain at my college. Yes, that's right. A man of God recommended a vampire novel to me. And I was with Anne Rice when she made it publicly known that she disapproved of the movie and the casting. Then I WATCHED the movie & I was blown away. The movie captured the book so well it was startling. And, I still owe Tom Cruise an apology for doubting his ability to play Lestat. I just wish the other movie in this series had been done as well.




01) Silence of The Lambs by Thomas Harris - This movie introduced my all time favorite movie villain, Dr. Hannibal Lector, to the rest of the world. And while the movie modified certain details (as they all do), it did a fantastic job of capturing the soul of the book and the style of Hannibal himself. This movie is by far my all time favorite adaptation!





Honorable Mention:
A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson - While it couldn't find a spot on my top ten list, this movie definitely deserves an honorable mention. Again, the movie captured the creepiness of the novel, but it also managed to perfectly display the escalating frustration of the main character, a normal blue collar worker, who has to deal with an exceedingly bizarre series of events occurring in his life. This is probably my favorite Kevin Bacon movie!

Friday, August 5, 2011

My Daily Walk

As part of my new diet program, I have to burn about 2000 calories a week. I'm not there yet, but in an effort to comply, I have started to do a ten minute walk around my office buildings. I checked on Google's Distance Calculator and if I stay on the asphalt, one lap is equivalent to a quarter mile. I've been trying to do it on a regular basis. Normally, I wouldn't remark on something so mundane as walking, but yesterday something rather interesting happened.

Usually, there's someone walking with me so my walk goes by in conversation. Yesterday, I went by myself and about a minute into my walk, I decided to sing. There's usually no one around, so I just started up with "Swinging On A Star". As I was singing, a blonde on the other side of street (walking past the Crowne Plaza hotel next to my job) started smiling at me and told me I have a beautiful voice! Then on my second lap, I was joined by a co-worker who after I told her what the blonde said, virtually begged me to sing and she concurred!!

Like I said, the song I was singing was "Swinging On A Star". It's the version I heard on this amazing hidden gem of a movie called Hudson Hawk. Rather than torture you with MY version of the song. Here's the one I learned from:





Isn't it a great song???

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Diet Update

My weekly weigh-in this week did not go as well as I'd hoped. This past weekend, I broke my diet twice. It was partially emotional eating (I was stressed out due to car issues.) and part of it was strategic due to a mis-calculation in the needed amount of diet food. I'm back on the diet now, but the consequences of my break were felt this week. The worse part is I did an unofficial weigh-in in the morning at my house and the scale reported 476.8lbs!!! I was ecstatic!! But the official weigh-in told a different story. Here are the results:


Previous Weight: 487.2lbs
Current Weight: 486lbs
Weight Delta: -1.2lbs


That's what I get for breaking the diet. I should be back on track with my "aggressive" weight loss next week. Here's hoping!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Return To The Dead.... Soon

There's been a lot of buzz recently about one of the creepiest shows on television: AMC's The Walking Dead. The creator, Frank Darabont, leaving the show, but not before firing the entire writing staff. Questions about who the next showrunner is going to be, etc. But as the saying goes, the show must go on.. And it looks like nothing can stop the return of The Dead... Check out the newly released full trailer for Season 2 of The Walking Dead.






I think this is going to be a creepier, more suspenseful season than the first one!! Can't WAIT for October!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Diet Update

I went to my diet class last night for my weekly weigh-in. After my first week, I'm doing well. No side effects, no energy drop. Things are pretty much normal for me now. It feels like my life is settling down in this respect. I'm still dealing with the "temptation phase", but I have my ways to handle that. I'm still looking into a gym that I can afford to join so I can fully maximize the benefits of my diet. Now it's just a matter of keeping on, keeping on.  The stats for last night's weigh in are below:


Previous Weight: 495.2lbs
Current Weight: 487.2lbs
Weight Delta: -8.0lbs

Interesting note: From my record high weight of 506lbs (before my hospital stay) to my current weight of 487, I have lost a total of 19lbs!! Cool, right??

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just In Time...

A friend of mine recommended that I see a trailer for a movie. At first I was hesitant, because this friend is kind of hit or miss with his movie choices, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. And the trailer was AMAZING! Simply amazing. I loved the concept, I loved the look... but the main lead is questionable... Check it out and let me know what you think...