Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Alive and Thankful.

New Year's Eve 2014 at Òran Mór in Glasgow, Scotland.

As this year draws to a close, I'd like to thank everyone who has continued to read this blog. Your continued support of this personal adventure of mine is absolutely appreciated. What started out as a means to fight off my inner demons has morphed into something much more amazing than I ever expected. Two years ago, I was at one of the lowest points in my life. Depression and anger were eating me alive. My health, both physical and mental, were abysmal.

I decided to make one last-ditch effort. Instead of giving in to my faults, I pushed back and chose to improve myself. Over the life of this blog, I've changed a great deal. Writing has allowed me a means of release. The deep-seeded anger slowly left me over these past few years. Today, as I like to refer to it, I'm an angry man in recovery.

My physical health has changed parallel to the internal improvements. I started out weighing a whopping 340 pounds. I would eat when I was stressed because I didn't have a proper means of handling my emotions. My idea of portion control was pitiful, to say the least. Today, I'm down to around 280 pounds... and I'm not done yet. I've shed an entire wardrobe of clothes. I can now wear sizes which I never thought would be possible. My ability to breathe and exert myself are the best I've ever experienced. I can use self-control to limit how much and how often I eat. For the first time, I am able to feel my ribs and muscles I never believed I had! Hopefully, I've added years to my life. I want to be around to see where we're headed as a global civilization. I want to travel and see places far and wide; friends both near and far.

Let's face it... I was slowly killing myself before I started this blog. Now, I am alive and thankful to be a better version of myself.

I have you, the reader, to thank for all this. You've listened to me talk about some very personal issues. Some things I definitely feared writing about and making public. But, I decided long ago that fear was not going to control me. Now, I am able to write about a wide range of diverse topics, both serious and comedic. Some topics you may enjoy, some you may not. But you know what? That's okay. We're all different. We all enjoy a multitude of various activities and interests. What counts is that you've been here with me through it all.

I hope you'll stay with me through 2015.

From your friend... brother... companion... student... teacher... ally... fellow human,


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Losing Their Luster.

The 2014 holiday season has called it quits. The trees are going away (took mine down tonight). All the pretty bulbs are being rolled up for storage. Wrapping paper and bows have been returned to their dark prison in the bedroom closet.


I noticed today while shopping that department stores and retailers of virtually all sizes aren't waiting to push Valentine's Day upon us. While passing Nature's Emporium, a local pet and garden center here in Burlington, NC, their electronic billboard was already touting the upcoming holiday. In bright letters, it said...


I thought to myself... wow! Not a week ago you were telling me how important Christmas was. Now, it's as if you've completely forgotten the holiday. I haven't even popped a bottle of champagne for New Years yet and you want me to confess my undying love via a garden flag?! Do you have amnesia? Then it hit me. This isn't just an isolated incident. Perhaps my thoughts about amnesia were spot on. What if nearly all retailers in today's modern age have HOLIDAY RETAILER AMNESIA?

Certainly, I can understand the imperative of a retailer to make a dollar. I'm a retailer myself. The holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Years is when I turn the highest profit of the year. But what's the difference between them and I? I don't forget to respect the holidays in their own time. I give each and every benchmark holiday on the calendar a chance to breath and stretch its legs, so to speak.

In essence, my point is this... and it relates to my previous articles about Thanksgiving being over-run by Christmas.

Give every holiday it's due time in the spotlight. If we stretch every single holiday out from one to the next, then those special days lose their luster.

Every day can't be a holiday, otherwise there would be no holidays.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Films That Will Make a Man Cry (And It's Okay).

Guys, fess up. There are movies that tug at your insides and turn on the waterworks. Even the darkest of hearts will find themselves feeling terrible after watching these fantastic films. In no particular order, I present an abbreviated list of cinema classics that will make a man shed a tear...

*There are spoilers ahead, though the newest film on this list is from 2009. If you haven't seen these movies by now, then that's your problem.

The Green Mile - I can remember seeing this for the first time when it premiered. My brother Joshua and I went to the movie theater on base at Fort Pickett in Blackstone, Virginia. We had no idea what we were about to witness. What was expected to be a sci-fi film turned into one of the finest heart-wrenching modern classics I've ever seen. I can remember very vividly how my cheeks were soaked as I walked out the theater.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Another movie I saw opening weekend, the Return of the King unexpectedly turned on the the plumbing in my face. I was so absorbed by the film that I didn't even notice how sad I was towards the end. Surrounded by a large swathe of my family, I choked up during the scene where Sam picks Frodo up and carries him up Mount Doom. Sorry folks... Sam was the real hero of The Lord of the Rings. From that scene till the very end, I was weeping.

Up - Just about one of the saddest animated films I've ever watched, Up proves how far one person will go to honor the memory of their lost love. I can't do this film justice - just go watch it if you haven't already.

It's a Wonderful Life - I never appreciated this movie as a kid. It wasn't until I was an adult and dealing with depression that it hit home how very special this movie truly is. Jimmy Stewart proves his worth in a picture that wasn't even celebrated when it premiered. In fact, most audiences and critics snubbed It's a Wonderful Life and said it was rubbish. The lesson to be learned here? There's no amount of wealth on this planet that can replace friendship, respect and love.

Gladiator - Maximus' death scene is haunting and chilling. Though he fought to ensure the freedom of his fellow enslaved gladiators, it was apparent that his soul had long left the mortal realm before his last breath. Maximus was a man living on borrowed time, longing to return to his family. In the end, he received his much-deserved prize... a peaceful release from life. His family awaited him in the Elysian Fields.

The Iron Giant - The other animated entry on this list, The Iron Giant proves you don't have to actually be human to be human. In fact, our titular robotic hero is more human than most of the other characters in the movie. By film's end, he saves an entire town in a selfless act of sacrifice. It's the only time you'll catch me actually liking something Superman-related (I hate that boy scout).

The NeverEnding Story - I was probably five or six years old the first time I watched The NeverEnding Story, and it still gets me right in the feels. Poor Artax sinking into the Swamp of Sadness is a terrible, terrible thing to watch. Atreyu's screams stick with you long after the scene is over.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day - Yet another film on my list featuring a robot acting more human than the real thing. By journey's end, the T-800 has saved the future (or so we thought), destroyed the CPU and arm from the previous Terminator and kept the Connors alive. Though, it realizes that the future can never truly be secure in so long as it functions. Something inside the T-800, beyond all the programming and logic circuits, makes it realize that self-termination is necessary. That final thumbs up... boy that gets me. The dire score by Brad Fiedel is the icing on the cake. You will cry for a machine.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles - You literally spend the whole movie watching Neal and Del go from bitter frenemies to the tightest of pals. The scene in which Neal rips Del apart for being a blubbering, annoying mess is enough to get you boo-hooing, but the final sequence where you realize that Del is a homeless widower punches you right in the gut. It finally dawns on you that Del stuck by Neal's side throughout their entire adventure for no reason other than to be his friend. Of course, Neal returns the favor and takes him home to meet his family. 

Starman - Jeez, can I watch this movie without crying? It's just too much for anyone, let alone me, to process. We watch an alien being come to Earth, learn how to love and give Jenny the one thing she could never have -- a child. The Starman adapts to Earth in a way that reflects the best in humanity. The final scene in the Barringer Crater turns me into a blubbering idiot. Jack Nitzsche's score (also did One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Stand By Me), full of pounding synthesizers and strings, only accentuates how damn sad the ending is. The Starman has to say goodbye, never to see Jenny or his child ever again. GRAB THE TISSUES!

Once - The final entry on this list (which is in no way exhaustive or complete) is about loving someone in only the short time that you have, even though it's not meant to last. Like two ships passing in the night, Guy and Girl (as they're known in the film) fall in love for only a brief while. They can not stay together due to outside commitments, but the emotions they share, even only temporarily, are very powerful. The fantastic music in Once pushes this above average romance tale onto much higher ground. Falling Slowly indeed... right into your shirt sleeve to hide your face!
That does it for now. Do you agree or disagree with a film on this list? Perhaps you feel I forgot something? Or... you just want to laugh and call me a wuss? :-D

Either way, I'd love to hear your feedback. Until next time!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

When One Night Just Isn't Enough.

Howdy folks! I'm working on a blog post that I've decided to finish and post tomorrow. It just grew too big, too fast. Instead of wasting it on a Sunday evening when no one will read it, I've decided to publish it tomorrow afternoon when it'll be more readily enjoyed by my devoted audience. I'll give you a hint...

What could it be? A Dawson's Creek Best-Of list? An in-depth discussion on the filmography of this generation's finest actor -- James Van Der Beek? An article about how awesome Pacey was? Or perhaps I'm misdirecting you... I'll never tell!

Sleep on it kiddies. I'll have an actual in-depth article for you tomorrow. I suspect you'll either love it... or laugh your ass off at me.

*You know... I might just have to write about Dawson's Creek after all. I was an unabashed fan of the show!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Cookie Cutter Country Girls

We've all seen them.

You can't escape them.

They're waiting for us.

At every pool party... on every lake... at every crappy country music concert...


The faces have been blurred to protect the innocent... or the ugly. Your choice, honestly.

Girls like this are a dime a dozen, are they not? We see them everywhere -- self-absorbed white country girls. They tend to congregate together like moths to a light bulb. Somehow, they always wind up on camera in massive group shots. These broads believe they're special, but they're all the same in reality. Their hair color or boyfriend may change, but inside they're indistinguishable -- prissy, gullible, conceited vamps.

Take a look at your Facebook or Instagram feed. Odds are you know someone whom believes they're a country girl. Not just believes it, but runs with the label and embraces the lifestyle. These Cookie Cutter Country Girls love...
  • Guys with big trucks
  • Bud Light
  • Camouflage Tervis Cups
  • UGG Boots
  • Really short shorts
  • Confederate Flag Bikinis
  • Pink Browning Decals on their Honda Accord
  • Claiming to be a cowgirl
  • Being treated like a princess
  • Shitty pictures on Pinterest
  • Obviously targeted asinine rom-coms and country-themed movies
  • Getting pregnant at an early age
  • Faux-distressed Mossy Oak hats
  • Naming their kid Colt or Dylan
  • Linking everyday activities to "gettin' muddy"
  • Claiming to drink hard whisky (when it's usually just Fireball)
  • Taking photos of themselves holding a firearm
  • Putting on makeup to go "hunting"
  • Having their pictures taken "professionally" by their best friend whom claims to be a photographer on the internet
I could go on and on, but why bother? We all know the type. In reality, these gals wouldn't last five minutes in a survival scenario. The only thing "country" about these girls are their lack of economic and social advancement.

You're annoying.

You're unoriginal.

You're just plain loathsome.

Ladies - I'm talking directly to you. Please... just be your self. Stop trying to cram your whole world into the country girl aesthetic. The only people that come out ahead are the corporate raiders and plutocrats whom sell you all this lifestyle crap you don't really need. In the end, you're just oppressed, repressed and underdressed. Don't fall into the trap of being a cookie-cutter woman. We've got enough of these dingbats as it is.

I dare you to tell me I'm wrong. If you do, be prepared to site your sources.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Advice For Trashy People.

Tonight, I want to bring a bit of laughter into your home. Your weekend is finally here. It's time to enjoy a few beers, take your shoes off and relax. This is intended as a work of comedy... but in all reality, I'm being very serious.

This afternoon, I took a trip to a local Wal-Mart to pick up some supplies. Obviously, the miscreants and degenerates I encountered served as a point of inspiration. Upon these blessed little tidings of trashiness, I found my muse.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. I present to you a new segment I like to call...


  • Tuck Your Gut In. As surprising as it may be, no one wants to see the fat jiggling out the bottom of your shirt. Either wear a shirt that hangs lower or stop wearing belly shirts. This has nothing to do with you being fat (I'm fat). More so, this has to do with you looking halfway intelligent. The rippling blubber pouring forth from your tiny top is not attractive. It just makes you look like a depraved ass.
  • The Fire Lane Is Not Your Personal Parking Spot. Instead of idling your odorous, filthy 1996 Toyota Previa (with mismatched doors) in the fire lane at the front of a department store, try parking it in one of those lined-off empty spaces in the parking lot. I'm certain that it's important for your girlfriend to quickly retrieve milk formula for one of her five screaming demon spawn, but I'm sure she could walk from the parking lot in a reasonable amount of time. Based upon the size of her back-boobs, the walking would probably do her some good anyway. There's a reason it's called a fire lane... BECAUSE IT'S FOR FRICKIN' FIRE TRUCKS!
  • You Can't Mask Funk With Perfume. This shouldn't need any explanation, but it unfortunately does. Washing your body with soap and water can work miracles. Then, once you've dried yourself off, apply deodorant under your arm pits (more than one application in a day is perfectly acceptable). Merely pouring perfume or body spray all over yourself does not hide the funk radiating from your near-rotten carcass; it merely accentuates the filth and makes it carry farther down wind. If I'm standing behind you in a checkout line and make a strange face, then it's probably because you smell like a camel's taint.
  • Your Children Are Not Cute. That's right... we all hate your kids. They're good-for-nothing brats that are driving all the other customers in the store absolutely insane. Instead of ignoring the venomous rascals, try this little tactic called parenting. Get them in order, stop letting them scream and make noise and encourage them to CHILL THE HELL OUT!
  • Your Stories Suck. I came to the store to purchase things I need. I did not come to hear you relate a story about skinning a deer. I don't care what knife you used to skin the deer. I don't care about the size of the deer. I don't care about how big the antlers were. I certainly don't care that it tasted real good. What do I care about? The footage of you circulating the internet. You know... the video where you drop your shotgun and accidentally blow your manhood off, all the while trying to look cool on your webcam. Yeah... that story I care about. YOU - OUTTA THE GENE POOL!
  • Don't Wear Pajama Pants In Public. This one is easy. When trying to make a monumental decision like which pants to put on and wear in public, here's an easy guideline to work from. Are your pants pajamas and intended for comfort or slumber? THEN DON'T WEAR THEM IN PUBLIC YOU INSOLENT DONKEY!
  • Wash Your Hands. If I happen to visit the lavatory while in a department store, I wash my hands after using the facilities. Trust me... I notice when you walk into a washroom, touch your private bits and don't wash your hands. This is especially true if you make a bowel movement, then vanish without so much as flushing the toilet or getting your hands the slightest bit wet. Not only are you helping to spread disease (like Ebola), but you're not giving any due regard to the other people you might encounter. No one wants to touch your shit fingers!
  • Put Your Vaporizer Away. We get it... you're an 'oppressed smoker' whom has lost the right to inhale your cancer in public. But then, little baby Jesus himself delivered the miraculous answer you've been waiting for -- the vaporizer! Now you can suck on that metal cylinder anywhere you want and breathe in the sweet margarita-flavored vapor you've always dreamed of. No worries, right? WRONG! Your harmless vapor smells like mule piss! Just because it's not technically smoke doesn't mean you can walk around in a cloud of nicotine bliss, all the while forcing your fellow man to encounter and smell it. Part of the problem with smoking to begin with was the stinky cloud of smoke wafting into a room and making it smell terrible. The vapor is no different, only this go round it's worse because now you can claim you're not spreading cancerous second-hand smoke. Hurrah -- I don't (potentially) have to die to smell your fumes of death. I get to live forever and ever enjoying your pungent aroma of feculence. OH JOY!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas to All!

As I write this blog entry, I'm nestled in bed with a big fluffy dog keeping my feet warm. It's been a long day full of work and celebration. My bones ache, my muscles are sore, my eyes are weak. This was a Christmas I won't soon forget.
Hopefully, your holiday has been filled with joy. I wish all of my readers a Happy Christmas. Here's to a wonderful last few days of 2014... and the year ahead.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Gift of Life.

Hello everyone. Tonight's blog needs few words, so I'll get to right to the heart of the matter (and the photos). Just a few moments ago, I was lucky enough to witness the birth of two beautiful baby lambs. The amazing process of birth is something to behold, especially in animals as friendly and cute as sheep. How spectacular to witness such a marvelous thing on Christmas Eve. I hope these two newborns have a long and happy life on the farm.

Merry Christmas everyone!

The Twelve Transformers of Christmas - Twelfth Day

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Twelve Starscream clones,

Eleven Seekers seeking,
Ten Scourge missiles,
Nine Generation One comics,
Eight Sharkticons,
Seven Junkions,
Six Constructicons,
Five Technobots,
Four crappy Michael Bay movies,
Three Autobot trains,
Two Skullgrin cannons,
And an awesome little tape named Frenzy. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Twelve Transformers of Christmas - Eleventh Day

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Eleven Seekers Seeking,

Ten Scourge Missiles,
Nine Generation One Comics,
Eight Sharkticons,
Seven Junkions,
Six Constructicons,
Five Technobots,
Four crappy Michael Bay movies,
Three Autobot trains,
Two Scourge missiles,
And an awesome little tape named Frenzy.

The 2014 Family Christmas Party.

Just wanted to take a quick moment this evening to thank everyone for coming to the family Christmas party. Josh, Niki, Brandon, James, Julie, Crystal... thanks for making my Christmas so much more awesome. Without you guys, my life wouldn't mean much of anything. Being able to celebrate the holidays with you means more than you know.

Many gifts were exchanged. Much alcohol was consumed. Lots of food was eaten. It was a fantastic afternoon with great mirth and merriment, not one I'll soon forget.

Be safe in your travels over the course of the holiday. Until we can meet again...

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Twelve Transformers of Christmas - Tenth Day

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Ten Scourge missiles,

Nine Generation One Comics,
Eight Sharkticons,
Seven Junkions,
Six Constructicons,
Five Technobots,
Four crappy Michael Bay movies,
Three Autobot trains,
Two Skullgrin cannons,
And an awesome little tape named Frenzy.

A Hidden Gem from the Past.

While shopping at my local Food Lion grocery store, out of the corner of my eye I saw something I hadn't seen in many years. The customer before me in the checkout line had a bag of Old Fashioned Vanilla Creme Drops!

Mind you, I was a pre-teenager the last time I had a creme drop. It seems that as I grew older, this particular holiday treat disappeared, never to be seen again. I knew of specialty shops on the internet that were producing creme drops in small quantities, but they were very expensive. In some instances, over $30 for a single bag.

I quickly, but politely, got the customer's attention and asked where in store she found them. She pointed me to their location. Briskly, like an excited stallion, I trotted over to their holy location. Behold... there were two bags left, and I got them both!

The bag says 'old-fashioned', to which it should be taken quite literally. Creme drops are a very traditional confectionery that go way back. Though, it seems they've all but vanished in modern times. Of course, I eat in a much better way than I used to, so I'll be slowly eating these instead of inhaling an entire bag in one night. I can remember eating whole bags of creme drops at Christmas as a kid. Boy... someone should have stepped in and stopped me.

I was so glad to discover the creme drops today. They're like a hidden gem from the past, stirring memories of holidays gone by.

What are some of your favorite holiday candies and sweets?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Pan Am Flight 103 Disaster.

I just wanted to take a moment this evening to speak about a serious event from our collective past. Today marks the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster, which occurred on December 21, 1988.

An aerial photo of the Lockerbie, Scotland crash site.

The terrorist attack, which lead to the death of two-hundred and seventy innocent people, was dastardly. Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland at approximately thirty-one thousand feet. The explosion killed all two-hundred and forty-three passengers and sixteen crew members on board. As the plane crashed, another eleven local residents were killed. Of the passengers on board, one-hundred and eighty-nine were American.

In the time since the explosion, it was determined that the plot was hatched by Libyans. They acted most likely in retaliation for a 1986 Libyan bomb strike enacted by the United States, which happened to kill Muammar al-Qaddafi's youngest daughter. Qaddafi was the ruler of Libya for over forty years.

Muammar al-Qaddafi

It's a tough thing to lose someone you love in such a tragic manner. To lose them during the holidays, though? That's absolutely brutal. I can understand the hatred that many residents of the Middle East feel for America. Our government has done many terrible things to far too many innocent people. It does not give one the right to murder more innocent people in response, though.

I can only hope that mankind will eventually rise above this "eye for an eye" mentality and seek a more peaceful future.

The Twelve Transformers of Christmas - Ninth Day

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Nine Generation One comics,

Eight Sharkticons,
Seven Junkions,
Six Constructicons,
Five Technobots,
Four crappy Michael Bay movies,
Three Autobot trains,
Two Skullgrin cannons,
And an awesome little tape named Frenzy.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Twelve Transformers of Christmas - Eighth Day

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Eight Sharkticons,

Seven Junkions,
Six Constructicons,
Five Technobots,
Four crappy Michael Bay movies,
Three Autobot trains,
Two Skullgrin cannons,
And an awesome little tape named Frenzy.

Sleepless Nights and Why I'm Thankful.

A common scene in my room as a child around 2:00 AM.

For many years as a child, and right on through my teenage years, I didn't sleep much. At one point around age nine, I'm almost certain I developed a case of chronophobia. I'd lay in bed at night, just staring at my clock and counting the minutes away. I was so stressed about making myself fall asleep that I'd become increasingly agitated and upset as the minutes flew by. At some point, I'd simply pass out from exhaustion between 3:00 and 4:00 AM. When you have to get up for school around 6:00 AM, it can be a challenge. Though, somehow I did it and made great grades. My willpower is what pushed me through.

Oddly enough, this blog isn't about my lack of sleep. It's about a side-effect of my condition.

As a consequence of not sleeping, I did a lot of things in the night while my folks were asleep. Books were a common source of entertainment -- I must have plowed through hundreds as a child in this manner. From Chaucer to Conrad, I read it all. Some of my most favorite books were first encountered in this way, like Betty Smith's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" for example. Many nights were spent drawing and doodling by flashlight and moonlight. One of my favorite late night activities was enjoying music and talk radio. Of course, I made sure to use headphones. Sometimes, my mom or dad would wake me up in the morning and ask why I had a headphone cord wrapped around my neck. What they didn't realize was that when I finally passed out, it would be with the headphones still on. My dreams were often filled with music from the outside world, acting much like a soundtrack to the visions in my head.

To this day, I still have a hard time falling asleep without background noise, like a running television. I guess falling asleep for so many years with headphones on changes you permanently.

During these late night explorations into music and radio, I discovered many things not necessarily intended for children and teenagers. It's at this time that I developed my passion for Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Dire Straits. Unbeknownst to my dad, I'd lay claim to the cassettes he'd stack up and never listen to for my personal collection. Pink Floyd's The Final Cut and Jethro Tull's Crest of a Knave were (and still are) my two most beloved albums. I listened to them so much that I could remember them in their entirety in my head. Without having anything to listen to, I could close my eyes, concentrate and listen to a playback of the albums purely from memory. The strange part? I still can. I have permanent copies stored in my brain. While in class at school, I'd often get bored with whatever the teacher was saying. So... I'd zone out, enter my own world, "listen" to my music and escape.

Interesting side note -- the The Final Cut cassette that I co-opted from my dad came from Robby Batte, a highly talented photographer whom many of you may know. It was a copy he loaned my father, to which wound up ultimately in my possession. I still have that tape. To this day, I can remember the first time I looked at it in his car (the Battemobile). I'm eternally grateful to the Batteman for unexpectedly introducing that album into my life at such a young age. How cool is it that ripples from the past still influence our present in small, but powerful ways? Thanks Robby!

I also enjoyed many radio programs throughout the night. In the late '80s and on through the '90s, you could still hear actual disc jockeys on the radio playing real records. Even though I was in Virginia, I could dial in Oldies 100.7 WTRG from Raleigh late at night with little interference. They played Oldies from the '50s and '60s, which is probably why I grew to appreciate rock and roll at such a young age. Their disc jockeys had personality and explained information about the Oldies tracks and their respective artists. Ron McKay was one of the best jockeys on the station and he served WTRG very well -- right until the station changed format in 2004.

On Sunday nights, I could dial in WRDU from Raleigh on 106.1. I'd stay up all night eagerly awaiting Rock Talk with Allan Handelman. Allan was (and still is) a great interviewer. He'd cover the gamut of topics, not just those necessarily related to music -- paranormal, history, pop culture, current events, cinema, television, etc. If you ever get the chance, check his show out at

Another program I listened to regularly was LovePhones with Dr. Judy and Jagger. It was your typical sex advice show where people called in with their questions and concerns. This would also play on WRDU 106.1, Monday through Friday at 10:00 PM to midnight. My mom or dad never gave me "the talk", but I never really needed them to anyway. Thanks to programs like LovePhones, along with lots of books, I was already very-well acquainted with the human body, sex and dating. If only I'd had the courage to use that information to get girls to like me in school! I would have been UNSTOPPABLE! The program went off the air around 1998, to which I eventually transitioned to Loveline.

As I look back on that time in my life, I'm thankful I had all those sleepless nights. They certainly played a role in defining my personality. Without them, I don't think I'd have grown up to be so gosh darn interesting!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!

I don't have much to say with today's blog, but I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on something special to me. At this, the most wonderful time of the year, I wanted to say thank you to my maternal grandparents.

I already had an Atari gaming system by the time I was seven years old (thanks cousin DJ), so video games were an entity that I was familiar with. But, something glorious was about to happen. My Grandma and Grandpa gifted to my brother Joshua and I our original Nintendo Entertainment System at Christmas in the year 1989.

The gift that started it all -- the Nintendo Action Set.

For twenty five years, I've been playing original NES games -- Mario, Donkey Kong, Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, Mega Man... the list goes on an on. I owe it all to my grandparents, to which I'm very thankful. I'm thirty-two years old this year and have amassed hundreds of NES game cartridges; my collection continues to grow.

Having a Nintendo helped shape who I was as a child. It encouraged creativity and strategic thinking at an early age. My Nintendo pushed me to think outside the box and solve puzzles. That little grey box took me on an adventure.

I've been hooked ever since.

My Nintendo is still hooked up and ready to play at a moment's notice. I don't have to worry about scratched discs or a faulty internet connection. You just open the front flap, insert the cartridge and press the power button (a few seconds of blowing on the cartridge might be necessary). We might live in a hyper-realistic digital gaming age, but all I need to be happy are eight tiny bits.

Grandma, Grandpa... wherever you are in this universe... thanks.

The Twelve Transformers of Christmas - Seventh Day

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Seven Junkions,

Six Constructicons,
Five Technobots,
Four crappy Michael Bay movies,
Three Autobot trains,
Two Skullgrin cannons,
And an awesome little tape named Frenzy.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Twelve Transformers of Christmas - Sixth Day

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Six Constructicons,

Five Technobots,
Four crappy Michael Bay movies,
Three Autobot trains,
Two Skullgrin cannons,
And an awesome little tape named Frenzy.

Things Trashy People Shouldn't Discuss in Public.

Hello friends! I'm back with another slam-bang article about a constant source of laughter in my life. That's right... trashy people.

A sighting of the not-so-elusive Homo trashicus at a local department store.

While doing some holiday shopping earlier today, I was unfortunate enough to be trapped behind some rather unsightly characters. Imagine this scene...

Three rather dingy bumpkins in t-shirts, sandals and ripped up jeans (must have forgotten it's December). They all had a terrible smoker's cough and their voices were raspy. The female (I think) among them had a highly suspect dye job; her hair seemed to be hiding an Irish Wolfhound of some sort. On her arm was a giant tiger-stripe purse. The two fellows had some interesting head gear. One sported a faded bandanna with motorcycles. The other had a giant cowboy hat that was too big for his head. I could detect a hint of Skoal and cheap cigarettes in the air.

I found myself asking... who let these ruffians into JCPenney?

While waiting for their cashier to scan their items, they had a long conversation about various unsavory topics. I'll include their topics below, along with some other humorous things I've heard spoken publicly as of late. I present to you...

Things Trashy People Shouldn't Discuss in Public!

  • Don't discuss debt collectors ringing your phone at all hours of the day and night. No one cares that you owe Verizon over $300, which you've failed to pay for many months. If you can't come up with a meager $300 in ninety days, then you've failed at life.
  • Don't discuss your daughter's trouble with her 'baby daddy'. We all know she's an ignorant, attention-starved tramp. Save the legal talk for your trailer park... or for The People's Court, which you surely watch every day.
  • Don't discuss personal lubricants. No... I'm not joking.
  • Don't discuss which guy you're going to hook up with this weekend. We like to be surprised... just like you during your next pregnancy test.
  • Don't discuss how many times your wife has miscarried. It's just sad and depressing that you keep impregnating her with your demon spawn.
  • Don't discuss the merits of your muddin' truck. Such a vehicle has none.
  • Don't discuss how many times your brother was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Your brother has nothing to be proud of.
  • Don't discuss the giant abscess in your back. We can already smell it. We certainly don't want to imagine what it looks like.
  • Don't discuss your fascination with My Little Pony if you're a grown man. It just solidifies what we're already thinking -- you're a creep.
And finally, here's a big one.
  • Don't discuss how you're waiting for your monthly public assistance check to buy smokes. I know a much cheaper method to kill yourself that doesn't eat up my tax dollars... and it's a whole lot faster too! *cough*traintracks*cough*
Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Twelve Transformers of Christmas - Fifth Day

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Five Technobots!

Four crappy Michael Bay movies,
Three Autobot trains,
Two Skullgrin cannons,
And an awesome little tape named Frenzy.

The Murder of George Stinney.

News broke just a few hours ago that George J. Stinney, Jr., a fourteen year old boy executed by South Carolina in 1944, has posthumously had his first degree murder conviction overturned. Obviously, this judgment is too little, too late; Stinney was the youngest person executed in the United States during the Twentieth Century. Yet, at the very least, his name is cleared. At the same time, the State of South Carolina has finally acknowledged the gross error it made in murdering a child.

The mugshot of George Stinney.

The circumstances surrounding Stinney's conviction have always been suspicious, to the point of being farcical. Unfortunately, few records exist that document his trial fairly.

Stinney was charged with the murders of Betty Binnicker (age 11) and Mary Thames (age 8) on March 23, 1944. The two girls, both Caucasian-American, had been out searching for wildflowers in the town of Alcolu. George Stinney and his sister Katherine, both African-American and fellow residents, happened to speak to the two girls while on their journey. The girls asked George and Katherine if they knew where any wildflowers were growing. That was the last time the two young girls were ever heard from.

The next morning, Betty and Mary were found dead in a ditch with their heads crushed.

During the search for the two girls, George and Katherine volunteered the information about their encounter to local police. Instead of using this information to continue their investigation, the police immediately apprehended and charged George Stinney with the murder of Mary and Betty. George was kept isolated from his family, whom were promptly run out of town with the threat of being lynched. Because no lawyer would represent him, George was provided a court appointed attorney (a local tax commissioner seeking election). The entire process of selecting a jury (which happened to be twelve Caucasian men), presenting evidence (to which the prosecution had none), finding George guilty (which took an astonishing ten minutes) and delivering his sentence (which would be death by electric chair) took only one day.

The prosecution put three Caucasian police officers on the stand whom said George Stinney confessed to the murders. Though, they had no written record of such a confession. When asked during the trial, Stinney said clearly that he had not confessed. The prosecution produced no other evidence against George during the trial. Stinney's court appointed representation did not object to the three officers' testimony, nor did he object to the lack of physical evidence against his client. By the end of the day, Stinney was convicted and sentenced to death.

Just a few months later on June 16, George Stinney was executed via the electric chair. George was so small in stature, he had to sit on a bible in order for the chair apparatus to attach to him. The buckles attaching to his limbs and the mask placed on his face were all too big. During the first jolt of electricity sent into his body, the face mask came off and his left arm flopped around violently. Witnesses to the execution later claimed in interviews that the sight of George's face during the electrocution was gut-churning. He cried until his body went limp.

Four minutes later, the poor fellow was dead.

I'll put it to you bluntly. 

George Stinney, a child with no reason to be suspected of such a heinous crime, was murdered. The saddest part? Motivated by racists and bigots, the State of South Carolina sponsored one of the greatest crimes against humanity this nation has ever seen. They murdered an innocent child all in the name of racism.

I can't imagine what was going through George's mind as he sat down in the electric chair. The terror of knowing your death was just minutes away, all funneled through the mind of a fourteen year old boy... it's simply beyond words. George took his unwarranted punishment with bravery not found in men many years his senior.

George died like a man.

Whenever I think of George Stinney, I'm reminded of how important the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution are. We are all due the right to a fair and public trial. To preserve the rights of the innocent, we must also preserve the rights of the guilty. Our Constitution acts as a shield to those whom would perpetatrate terror against the innocent. In this case, the Constitution failed him. His fellow citizens failed him. The State of South Carolina failed him.

Mary and Betty were failed, too. Instead of finding their actual killer, the State pushed an innocent boy into the jaws of death as a scapegoat.

Leap ahead to present day. Take a look at yourself. Analyze your own beliefs and actions.

Are you still failing George Stinney?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Racist Mechanic!

At this point in the holiday season, many of you have surely wrapped a few packages. Have you ever stopped to wonder about the tape you use to seal your wrapping paper together? More specifically... why is it called "Scotch" tape?

You're about to find out!

An antique roll of Scotch Tape in a metal container.

Scotch tape has become a generic name for transparent sticky tape, even though it is also a brand name. Scotch Tape, as a brand, originates with the world famous 3M Corporation. An employee by the name of Richard Drew invented cellophane tape, as it was known then. While testing the tape for use in an automobile body shop in 1925, the "Scotch" name miraculously came about. A paint technician / mechanic using the cellophane tape on an auto repair project was displeased with the amount of adhesive on the tape; it just was not sticky enough. In a fit of anger, he passed the tape back to Mr. Drew and exclaimed "Take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!" This somewhat racist rant was related to William McKnight, who was a first generation American to hard-working Scottish immigrants. McKnight was a decent man whom worked his way up through the 3M company from assistant bookkeeper to President. The "Scotch" connotation stuck with Drew, so he christened his invention as Scotch Tape and sent it to retail.

And yes... Drew added more adhesive to the tape.

Mr. Richard Drew - Image Courtesy of the 3M Corporation

Scotch Tape has been in production and available at retail for nearly a hundred years. The name has become so synonymous with tape that it has become the generic term for it (much like thermos or aspirin). Without Scotch Tape, we'd have a much harder time wrapping our holiday gifts.

The slightly odd moral of the story? The next time you find yourself reaching for a piece of Scotch Tape, remember to thank a racist car mechanic!

The Twelve Transformers of Christmas - Fourth Day

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Four crappy Michael Bay movies,

Three Autobot trains,
Two Skullgrin cannons,
And an awesome little tape named Frenzy. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Importance of Christmas Cards.

A very old Christmas card featuring Santa Claus in a make-shift zeppelin.

If it's not already abundantly clear, I like to write. Writing is therapeutic, as well serving as exercise for my brain. It keeps my noggin loose as a goose, you know what I'm saying? When it comes to your mind... if you don't use it, you lose it.

One of my most favorite things to write are holiday cards. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, I probably mail out a couple dozen greeting cards to family and friends. Odds are you've probably received one from me at some point (or you're about to). I write and send holiday cards because I want the recipient to know how important they are to me. Though many miles and difficult schedules may keep us apart, I am thinking of you.

But where did holiday cards come from?

The world's first Christmas card.

The origin of the Christmas card goes back to London in the year 1843. Sir Henry Cole commissioned over two-thousand cards to be printed with an illustration by John Callcott Horsley. Henry Cole was already notable in his day for inventing the Penny Post, which was a cheap and effective means of sending a letter for only one penny. Horsley was a well-respected academic painter and illustrator in England. These two men could not have known the phenomenon they were about to unleash upon the world. Ever since, Christmas cards have been in constant production (which also spread to other holidays on the calendar throughout the year).

Jump ahead to the year 1873. Christmas cards were not yet a ritual in the United States. Prang and Mayer, a lithograph company located in Boston, Massachusetts, began to sell greetings cards for Europeans, which they then followed up with the first commercially available Christmas cards for Americans in 1874. Louis Prang, the owner of the company, is known as the "Father of the American Christmas card". If you're an artist, the Prang name should sound familiar to you. Louis Prang was an outspoken art education advocate, to which he developed and sold art supplies and educational materials through is company. His name graces the Prang brand of art supplies, which include colored pencils, watercolors and crayons! Every time you use a Prang watercolor set, you can thank Mr. Prang in due part for creating the American Christmas card!

For over a hundred years, Christmas and holiday cards remained a common seen item in folks' mailboxes. Though, in the advent of the modern technology age, Christmas cards have take a back seat to emails and virtual greetings. Such electronic messages are fine and dandy... but they just can't replace the warmth that comes from receiving an actual card in the mail. To know that someone took the time to write a card, put your address on it, affix a stamp and take it to the post office... that shows initiative, authenticity and purpose. A recent study by the Heritage Foundation was not promising, though. In 2013, they confirmed via the US Postal Service that the volume of greetings cards mailed had shrunk over fifty percent since 1987. Even worse, the volume shrinkage between 2010 and 2013 was ten percent! As evidenced, the rate at which people are not mailing cards is rapidly sinking.

All is not lost, though. You can take part in sending a personal holiday message of love and affection. Grab a pen, get a holiday card from your local pharmacy or department store, slap a stamp on it and put it in the mail! Write your mom, your brother, your best friend from high school! I promise you this - a card filled with warm wishes and season's greetings will mean much more than any e-mail ever can.

Want to get on my greeting card mailing list, but don't believe you're already on it? Send me a message (Facebook, text, email, etc.) and let me know your address. I want to mail you a holiday card!

The Twelve Transformers of Christmas - Third Day

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Three Autobot trains,

Two Skullgrin cannons,
And an awesome little tape named Frenzy.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

How Women Came Before Men... and Nipples Too!

After seeing some rather disturbing misinformation earlier in the day, I thought I'd quickly cover some scientific data in a very simplified manner. Specifically, I want to explain how women existed before men.

A classic television couple -- Ralph and Alice Kramden of 'The Honeymooners'.

To my friends, both scientific and brainy; I realize this explanation will be very basic. I don't want to delve too deep into the specifics of gender determination because it would go over most folks' heads. I'm 'dumbing it down' on purpose for the benefit of the layman. Bear with me.

When a fetus begins to develop in the womb, it starts out as a simple mass of cells. Over a number of weeks, these cells slowly start to form the basis of the human body. At some point around weeks six through eight, the sexual chromosomes of the fetus determine which sex it will become. Women, in terms of a chromosome pair, are identified by XX. Men are identified as XY. To be specific, the Y chromosome is the determining factor in the sex of the fetus. The presence of the Y chromosome is what makes a fetus grow into a male. The X chromosome has no power over this choice; only the Y chromosome will produce a male child. By default, all fetuses would become female if not for the presence of the Y chromosome. Both the X and the Y chromosome are allelic mutations from ancient autosomes in mammals. What's an autosome, you ask?

A diagram of all twenty-three human chromosome pairs.

An autosome is a chromosome pair that does not determine the sex of a creature. As humans, we have a total of twenty-three pairs of chromosomes. Twenty-two of those pairs are autosomes -- meaning they do not have any influence on the gender we develop into as a fetus. The final twenty-third chromosome pair that we possess DOES control our sexual development (it's known as an allosome).

After the fetus detects the presence of the Y chromosome , it grows into a male. It couldn't be any simpler. One reflection of this shared origin between males and females are our nipples. How many times have you heard someone ask in jest "Who do guys have nipples?"

The reason behind it is simple. Men and women both have nipples because all mammals develop this feature at an early stage as a fetus. All fetuses, whether eventually determined to be male or female, develop identically before the sex is selected. The presence of nipples is one of those non-sex based factors that develop. Due to how evolution has worked in mammals, the presence of nipples (or the lack thereof) has not been a trait which was turned "on or off" by natural selection (it simply wasn't "important" enough). By default (yet again), we all get nipples. 

So there you have it my friends. I can't make this explanation any simpler. When you first started to develop as a fetus (essentially a proto-female), you were by default going to be a girl. You grew nipples (at least I hope you did). Are you a man by chance? Then your allosome had a Y chromosome in it. Congratulations!

Any questions?