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Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 D-Bag Awards Round Six: Media D-Bags

So, in the year 2010, the media continued to be full of douchebaggery. Now, you may ask why I did not include Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly in this group. After all, they are part of the media. However, I fell they are more politically motivated. Beck had his rally and Bill had his opinions on "who killed us" on 9/11. So, I discounted them as media and moved them to the political round. Don't feel too bad about them. This round has four worthy d-bags competing for the title.

Julian Assange
Some may call him a hero. Others will call him reckless and dangerous. Well, he is. I give him credit for exposing a lot of information that should have been brought to light. However, his leaking of diplomatic cables has the potential of putting a lot of people in danger. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you actually should do it. Information and knowledge are powerful weapons and they are just as destructive as guns and bombs. Do I want transparency in my government? Yes. Do I want people to be held accountable for their actions? Yes. But we still have soldiers in Afghanistan and a fragile balance in the world and bringing these things to light can put a lot of people in danger. But, what is the safety of people vs. the freedom of the press, right? There's a thing called tact, you d-bag. How about you turn that probe on yourself and open up your closets and let us look at the skeletons.

Perez Hilton
Sometimes having an opinion has its merits. Perez feels he's witty and clever with his little squiggly lines and other stuff he posts on his blog. Last year he almost made the list over the whole Carrie Prejean deal. Granted, she was a bigger d-bag but he obviously came in with an agenda when he asked her the whole "opposite marriage" question. He also went for the jugular when he claimed Michael Jackson was feigning illness as a stunt to get out of having to do the "This is it" tour. Oops. He died. This year he posted a picture of Miley Cyrus, on stage, supposedly without underwear. Now, since he's not into Miley, it could be excusable. However, she was underage, at the time and that constitutes distributing child pornography. When he realized his faux pas, he claimed it was fake and had proof. Instead of re-posting the picture with undies, intact, he instead posted a different picture, claiming it was from the same occasion. Um, right. He got with his pants down. Perez, regardless of how much you poke fun of people I could care less about, you are a overexposed, hack, d-bag and you should probably just go away.

That's what I said. Me. The ole Mongster himself. Why? Here's a list of reasons. I spend way too much time doing this kind of stuff and don't take care of the things that need to be taken care of in my own life. My house has about 15 projects that are either started, on deck, or on the drawing board and I would rather quibble over celebrities or draw funny pictures on shirts or get blown up by 12 year olds on Call of Duty death match than do them. I get cranky for no reason and take it out on those around me. Most of all, I have no right to point the finger at anyone else when I have am a no talent ass clown hack of a blogger with an Internet connection and no ambition to do any real work. That's why I'm a d-bag. By the way, if you ever see the call profile AngryMongo on Call of Duty Free for All, that's probably me. Frag away, I'll sneak up on your ass and knife once for payback.

And the winner is,

Dr. Laura Schlessinger
Myself aside, Dr. Laura is a champ d-bag all on her own. Her past indiscretions are legendary but this year she thought it was OK to just go off shouting the "n" word, just because others get to do it, too. Well, if that isn't reason enough, then I don't know what is. Here's a tip for you, Dr. D-bag. You don't get to use the word. I don't get to use the word. In fact, those that use the word shouldn't be using it. Whatever your race is, the word is still a bad one. I don't care if you use it in a sentence, a lyric, or a joke. "It's just a word." You're right, it's just a word. You have every right to say a word and we have every right to be upset over it. It's not the word, it's the history assigned to it. It's the 400 years that preceded Dr. Laura that make the word inflammatory. It's not about free speech or rights. It's about common decency and common sense. That's why you're a douchebag, Dr. Laura.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 D-Bag Awards Round Five: Company D-Bags

After the shock and awe wore off from the Wall Street bailouts and general lack of ethics among big corporations, 2010 was still able to produce some great d-bag moments in the corporate sector.  Here's our nominations for the Big Business D-Bags.

The once proud computer manufacturer/retailer got hit with the corporate stick this year as they connived to keep hush about knowing that 11.8 million PCs were defective. That's the problem with getting to be a big guy, you have to stay there and sometimes you beg, borrow, or steal to do it.

Being named Consumerist's Worst Company In America last year didn't stop Comcast from being total d-bags. Personally, I have to use them in some form because FIOS is not in my area. Secondly, Comcast thought it knew best when it came to failed connections to websites. It automatically replaced my standard "Page cannot be displayed" screen with suggestions of websites I might want to go to. Instead of opting into that service, I had to take multiple hours to keep it from happening. Then it came back, automatically, and had to be manually stopped a second time. But that's besides the point. Comcast is hell bent on becoming the big brother of television by buying up NBC, and it seems no one, not even Al Franken, can stop this disaster waiting to happen.

I don't know why MTV continues to call itself MTV. This year, the once great music television channel that gave us music videos, Liquid Television, the late Ken Ober's basement, Kari Wuhrer in a tube top, 120 minutes, Headbanger's Ball, Beavis and Butthead, YO MTV Raps, and a host of other great music related programs decided to drop the word Music from their moniker. Actually, they decided to stop lying about playing music videos. Unless you were able to correctly decipher the schedule and make time between the minutes of 3:40AM and 4:20AM you probably haven't seen a music video for years. Instead, MTV has decided to focus its energy on more reality based programming. I guess you could blame The Real World for all this since it kind of started the genre. Personally, I blame Adam Curry.

Since 9/11, air travel security has been on the cornerstones of the new world order of Homeland Security. But, as 2010 rolled into high gear, the level of privacy violations have gone to plaid via ludicrous speed. The back scatter scanners may or may not cause cancer but more importantly they tell everyone what your wearing, or what you are... packing underneath your Calvin's. The images are not detailed enough to perhaps titillate, unless you like the kink of a Marilyn Manson video or Silent Hill video game but the fact that the images got saved. They shouldn't be, in any case, saved. If you aren't into being x-rayed, then you could get the pat-down from the cold, chapped fist of justice. People feel violated and the proof that these methods of protection from terrorists are not confirmed. Basically, you are letting the TSA get to second base. Can we say, "Bad touch."

And the winner...

This one was a no-brainer, in fact I don't even have to say anything about it. Everyone knows what BP did and what they failed to do so no use in beating a dead, oil covered, horse.  The best part about all of this was that it took Kevin Costner to come up with a plan to solve the issue.  Take that, Waterworld grosses.WTG, BP!

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 D-Bag Awards Four: Political D-Bags

Round four of the nominations goes to the political d-bags that made this year so d-bagarific. Yes, the list of noms looks a little slanted towards one side, but stick with me on this one.

Christine O'Donnell
She ran for the Senate in Delaware under the banner of the Tea Party Movement. What happened after the primaries was one of the funniest campaigns since Sarah Palin looked up from her house and saw Russia, declaring six more weeks of idiocy. As far as her own idiocy is concerned, here are some highlights, in no particular order. She criticised reckless government spending yet she had financial difficulties that made her look more fiscally irresponsible. Then she attacked her opponent, Mike Castle, by insinuating that he was having a homosexual affair. She ended up winning the primary. Various stories floated around that she was in a Masters program at Princeton, while she didn't receive her undergraduate until 2010. Her LinkedIn profile was a bit off, listing Oxford as a place of study, and she claims it was not created by her. She asked voters to keep an open mind about her but played the conservative, no hey diddle diddle with your kitty in the middle because it was just as bad as adultery. Meanwhile, her own past was wrought with various sexual experiences including the best of all, the witchcraft card. Oh yes, if you haven't seen the videos or heard the stories, little miss goodie two shoes was a witch.

Was she?


First off, she was poser. Anyone remotely associated with the real kind of witchcraft that gets bastardized in the media and throughout organized religion has nothing to do with Satanism, yet O'Donnell claims she dabbled in witchcraft and had sex on a Satanic altar with animal blood. Um, Satanism and Witchcraft are two different things. Pagan (real witch stuff) predates Christianity. So, she's basically stupid in two religions. Also, going on that whole crusade against evil pretty much makes her a hypocrite. This witch shouldn't be throwing rune stones.

Bill Maher showing witch clip from Politically Incorrect

Sarah Palin
Palmgate, Fencegate, Trig-Gate, and pretty much any other list of ridiculous gates that have come out of the three ring circus that started once she decided to quit her job as Governor of Alaska. Well, she had to, in order to spend more time gaining fame from the media circuit in order to build up a following should she feel the urge to, oh I don't know, run for President in 2012. First she used her son, Trig, as a prop in most of her early appearances. Then we had the Hillbilly Palm Pilot or the Palin Prompter occur. As a contributor to Fox News, Palin supposedly interviewed LL Cool J and Toby Keith, but both of those interviews were lifted from previous interviews in which Palin was never involved in as an interviewer. As someone who continually berated the President for using a teleprompter it comes as a surprise that she would get caught red handed doing the same thing during a speech. Not to let an opportunity to make waves go by, she also defended idiot extraordinaire Laura Schlessinger's use of the "N" word during a radio show. Apparently, Palin forgets that First Amendment rights do not extend themselves to employers, who can fire or suspend whomever they want to, for violating company ethics. The latest in d-baggery is the whole reality show that allows Sarah Palin to hunt and slaughter just about anything she can get her sharpie palms on these days. If only the camping trip with Kate Gosselin would have turned into a Timothy Treadwell documentary, or a pillow fight, that would have been something.

Palmgate from Inside Edition

Bill O'Reilly
The political pinhead made major news during the whole Ground Zero Mosque debate when he went on The View and pretty much generalized the entire issue of 9/11 as "Muslims killed us on 9/11." That statement and the ensuing argument caused Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar to leave the set, much to the chargrin of Barbara Walters who chided her cohosts for the act of defiance. The entire issue over the Mosque site can be boiled down to the d-baggery statement, uttered by O'Reilly. Whether or not the Mosque should be built near or within a few city blocks is debatable. It could be called a power play or a simple matter of available real estate. However, the misconception that Muslims were responsible for what happened on 9/11 is the basis for most of the issues we have in this day and age. The assigning of blame to an entire class, race, gender, or religious identity for the actions of extremists within that group is what has eroded the fabric of humanity. All Muslims are not terrorists, just as all Christians are not like Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. All political pundits are not like Bill O'Reilly, just the d-bags.  :)

Bill O'Reilly on The View

Glenn Beck
The Rally to Restore Honor was neither a rally or honorable. It was a publicity stunt, pure and simple, down to the date and location of the event, August 28 at the Lincoln Memorial. Beck billed his rally as a way for Americans to unite regardless of political affiliation or religious background. Figures in attendance were grosely miscalculated as much as the message that was being given at the rally. Boiling it all down, it was simply a way to generate publicity for Beck. He is, by his own admission, not a political pundit. He is an entertainer. He says he could give a rat's ass about politics. If that is not honorable, then I don't know what is.

Tea Party Movement
The movement was supposed to be a call to arms for Americans, tired of government. What it became was a puppet of the GOP's plans to take back government by using waht they felt was a necessary tool, fear. Fear that government, and Democrats, were trying to socialize, grow, and take over everything in America. But, I guess I should disqualify them and I do. I am simply playing into my own argument of blaming an entire organization for the acts of individuals. Those individuals used the Tea Party as a platform to be racist, homophobic, ethnocentric, comparing Obama to Hitler and Lenin, among other d-baggery. So, I humbly excuse the Tea Party Movement from being nominated and move onto the winner of this round.

Politicians in general
There I go, generalizing again, but I can't help it. This year was all about the political process. The movements, the elections, the bills, the everything. It has all boiled down to this. The political process in this country has been about getting in control, not actually doing the right thing for America. It doesn't matter if it's a Democrat or Republican, Red or Blue, Left or Right. Whether it be Mitch McConnell declaring that his highest achievement should be to make Obama a one-term president or Obama going back on his word to end the Bush era tax cuts, everything has been about control, not the American people. In the words of Bill Murray from Ghostbusters II, "I'm a voter. Aren't you supposed to lie to me and kiss my butt?" Mitch McConnell's single highest achievement should not be making sure that Obama is a one-term president. It should be to do what is best for the people he serves, whomever might be in charge of country. He needs to not stall or kill things as a power struggle, but to work together and get things done in order to make this country a better place. Instead of working against each other, how about they all start working with each other. We all wanted change and we would have gotten it if they would have all stopped playing the part of the bitter playground kid who didn't like how the game was going and took their ball and went home. Suck it up, d-bags. We elected you. We changed the team line up in 2010 and don't think we won't do it again come next election. Everyone is getting a full count from now on and there is little room for anyone to screw up here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 D-Bag Awards Round Three: Reality D-Bags

Up next is the d-bags from reality television, the ultimate sign of the fall of Western Civilization. Some of these folks aren’t talented enough to have a real career or their lives are ridiculous enough to be put on film.  God help us all.

The Cast of the Jersey Shore
I was hoping against hope that this show would not have lasted. Even if it meant I would never sell another Jersey Shore related shirt in my stores I hoped that this was purely a joke that would just go away. Nope, it didn’t. Reality television’s newest stars are still going, way beyond their 15 minutes of fame and are continuing to gain fans. Whether you are a fan of the pugilistic Oompa Lompa, Snooki, or the comfortably fitting shirt challenged Mike “The Situation” whateverhislastnameis, you probably live to do Gym, Tan and Laundry and avoid grenades like the plague. Me, I avoid this show like the plague. Unfortunately, the missed the cutoff date for last year’s list, premiering in December. However, they’ve managed to rack up an impressive rap sheet this year. We’ve got…

Being all around ethnic stereotypes of Italians from New Jersey… of which only one of the original cast members are from New Jersey (No longer even on the show, at that) and only three of the cast members are actually full blooded Italian. Two are half and one is Chilean who was adopted by Italians.
  • Arrested for fighting in bars
  • Overuse and promotion of tanning beds
  • Being general douchebags

Separated at birth?

Heidi Montag
Someone may have to remind me, again, who the hell this person is? I have no clue who she is other than she decided to get so much plastic surgery she makes Barbie look biodegradable. I mean, come on. I realize that she made the list last year as part of a tag team with her husband, Spencer Pratt, but I guess I decided to block out what her real claim to fame is. Oh, right she was on Laguna Beach, the loosely called reality show on MTV and then The Hills. Yeah, real life, sure, I believe that. Oh, and she became a recording artist. Wow, that was really groundbreaking wasn’t it? Oh, and then her and her husband divorced. Why? To help her career. She compared the momentum of fame she would gain from the divorce to that of Sandra Bullock’s fame after her split from Jesse James. She is actually putting herself in the same realm of reality as Sandra Bullock. Hmm, oh, and there’s a supposed sex tape, which she denies, while her husband shops it around. Ok, once again, how is any of this reality?

Before and After Shots.  More Plastic Than Barbie

Jesse James
Speaking of Jesse James, welcome to d-bag garage. Today we’re going to take a wonderful relationship and tear it apart and make it into a huge lie. Jesse had the sweet life. I actually admit to being a fan of Monster Garage and his persona. Then he met Sandra Bullock and it was like all weird relationships we see in life. “What the hell is he doing with her?” kind of feeling. Sandra Bullock is this level headed, sweet gal next door, save the world and all the puppies kind of person who is genuine and she hooks up with this grease monkey kind of bad boy. It couldn’t be more perfect right? Once again, this is reality television at its finest. There was the infidelity and with a porn star, no less. Let me restate that, a Nazi porn star. And all of this came to light as Sandra accepted the Oscar and touted that Jesse made her a better person and her resurging success was a direct result of their loving marriage. WTG, d-bag!  Just for the sake of argument, look at these two pictures and you tell me.

Sandra Bullock

Michelle McGee

Teen Mom Cast Members
Once again, I admit I do not watch this show. In fact, I stay away from these types of shows because they are simply vehicles for people trying to get a career out of nothing other than being a teen, pregnant, or a little person… or a washed up 80s icon (tv or wrestling, take your pick). Put simply, the people featured on this show have either gotten into trouble for abuse of the other parent, criminal behavior, hit and runs, mental problems and just being a d-bag in general. But then again, the purpose of these types of behaviors is to be exploited for the sake of advertising and money at the hands of the network that puts them on television.

Teen Mom Amber Giving The Baby Daddy The Smackdown

And the winner is?   I have two endings.  The original and then the one I had rethought.

I really wanted to pick Jesse James. The sum of what he did was cause enough to be the winner. The ridiculousness of the spectacle that became the news story surrounding his infidelity and divorce from Bullock was d-baggery at its finest but I will not feel bad for Bullock in this case. If she had stayed with him, then she would have gained my sympathy and a spot on this list for being an idiot. But she is neither an idiot nor a d-bag. That being said, I cannot give him the award because as much of a d-bag as he is, the cast of The Jersey Shore’s total amount of d-bag moves eclipses the sum of one Jesse James. So, my hopes for 2011 is that either The Jersey Shore gets cancelled or it stays on the air, allowing me to make money off of them being idiots and d-bags. Well played, to my advantage!

OK, so I originally picked the cast of The Jersey Shore.  However, I went back and rethought the outcome and am going to strip the D-Bags of MTV of their win and give it to Jesse James.   Why?  While I stated that the sum of what the cast of TJS did outweighed what Jesse did, I believe in my heart that he is the bigger douchebag and yes, I actually used the full word because he deserves it.   He had it all.  He had a beautiful wife that loved his kid.  He had a great company.  He had all the world on a platter and he just fell back on his bad boy ways.   There can be something said for trying to reform the bad boy.   There's also something to be said for wasting an opportunity that you will never have again in your life.

2010 D-Bag Awards Round Two: D-Bag Celebs

For our second round we have the cream of the A – D List of celebrity d-bags. These people, who we seem to want to live vicariously through with everything from TMZ stories to Twitter feeds, have taken great pride in being exemplary at the art of being a d-bag.

Mel Gibson
Another repeat offender. A few years ago, Mel went on a bender and was pulled over in Malibu. He went off on a anti-Semitic / misogynistic rant with the arresting officers. He apologized, sought treatment, divorced, and had a baby with Oksana Grigorieva, a Russian pianist and recording artist, mostly phone messages. Then the real fun began. The Gibson Sessions began coming out as a series of taped phone calls between Mel and Oksana. They should be on iTunes sometime next year. Quality stuff like the instant soulful classic, “You Make Me Want To Smoke.” It may rival Alec Baldwin’s funkadelic, “You’re a Rude Little Pig” from a few years ago in terms of downloads. Still, Mel found time to play with his Beaver in The Beaver and even pal Jodie Foster came to his defense. In all this, you know a comeback was just waiting to happen. Then Mel got dropped from The Hangover 2 and well, that just made it all worse.

Miley Cyrus
The tween sensation cum bong smoking young adult has had a pretty trying year. Prior to turning 18, Perez Hilton decided to post and mark up pictures of her on tour causing his own d-baggery and possible criminal charges. Then she finds out her Mom went from being all achy breaky with her Dad to doing the Unskinny Bop with Bret Michaels, who she sang with on Good Morning America in June. After that, she turned 18 and went downhill. It’s almost as if she looked at her life and then looked at Lindsay Lohan and said, “Yeah, that’s what I want to be like.” Think of it this way. Both were Disney kids. Both had/have a singing career. Both have had risqué photo shoots. (Possibly even nude photos of Cyrus have surfaced, though it’s undetermined if it’s her or when they were taken.) And now, booth have been found out to be doing drugs. Ok, you can say that smoking Salvia isn’t exactly illegal, but when you see a video of her hitting the bong and then making less sense than the Yip Yips from Sesame Street it’s not pretty. Why is she a d-bag? She may be 18 and may be an adult and quite frankly, she's old enough to do what she wants, but her fan base is still under age and impressionable. Not every Hannah Montana fan turned 18 when she did. You can blame the celebrity and media all you want but then I say to you, “Not one of those Harry Potter kids got busted for anything.” Although, Harry Potter did show off his Whomping Willow on stage in Equus.  In the end, Miley needs to either lay off the junk or at least stop getting filmed doing questionable things.

Achy Breaky Bong

Lindsay Lohan
Where do you begin? Rehab, Jail, Rehab, Drugs, Funny or Die. By the way, Lindsay, Funny or Die is the name of the website, not your choices for what to do with your career. There’s not much you can say that hasn’t already been said by everyone else.  Although, the biggest moment of d-baggery was the fingernail scrawled with FU in the courtroom. Who was that for? Take your punishment, get clean, write a book, make a comeback and fall off the wagon again.   You're still young.   Really, it is time to take stock and get your life back on track before you derail even more. The bottom never looked so good, right?

Is that a Lee Press on Nail?

Paris Hilton
Apart from being a no talent ass clown, she’s a horrible flyer. In July she was detained and released after being caught at an airport holding marijuana. Then, in August, she tried to use her Jedi Mind tricks on authorities by telling them that the cocaine in her purse was gum. Then she tried her best Austin Powers impression, “It’s not my bag, baby?” Finally, she admitted and was given probation. Then, she traveled to Japan and was denied entry because of the strict drug laws. Other sites on her Asian promotion tour are even stricter than Japan. If she’s not careful, she’ll be in a new reality show called, “The Brokedown Palace Life” Frankly, I blame the justice system. It’s obvious that giving her probation does nothing. Lock her ass up for a year.

"That's pot. I mean, no it isn't."

John Mayer
“That’s enough John Mayer” was sprayed on a brick wall by Chris Griffin of the Family Guy. Apparently, he didn’t get the hint. I’ll give him this, he’s a great artist. But he’s a terrible date. The appearance on Ellen, just before the New Year, was downright ridiculous. His Twitter Battles with Perez Hilton are like two T-Rexes engaging in a slap fest. It just doesn’t really make for compelling pugilism. He basically is the Kanye West of the media world and Kanye West takes offense at that. The dude just needs to stop and take a step back. I understand, no junk no soul but let’s get a little perspective. You’d never see John Lee Hooker getting into a Twitter fight with Dick Cavett.

Is that a Cosby Sweater?

And the winner is?

I’ll say this was a close race. I had a hard time figuring out who was the bigger d-bag and honestly, it’s almost a shame to just give the award to someone in order to not have a tie. Still, on the whole, the biggest d-bag has got to be…

Mel Gibson

Are you recording this?

Whether or not Oksana shares some of the blame for why Mel is Mad is debatable. We’ve really only heard his side…through ranting over the phone, which makes him look like a total train wreck.  However, this is not a one shot deal.  This is a pattern of behavior that should really not be as unexpected as one might think.  Mel’s over the top behavior is almost a parody of some of his more “out there” characters.  He’s gone Martin Riggs by way of Jerry from Conspiracy Theory. If anyone doubted that his career was in the crapper, after the DUI arrest, his fit has really hit the shan.   I think he may be a threat to himself, at this point.  But then again, even Roman Polanski won Oscars after being accused of rape. As far as the others go, Lindsay is almost on her way out and Miley may just be going through some growing pains. John Mayer could be a nominee next year and that would probably make him a shoe in. Paris? I don’t want to give her any awards for anything. Let’s just hope she goes away.

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 D-Bag Awards Round One: Jock D-Bags

First up are the playmakers and d-baggers of the sports world. We’ve got infidelity, drunken antics, pictures of winkies being texted, team changers, and a power tripping commissioner.

Tiger Woods
His biggest act of dickery came in 2009. He had cheated on his wife, Elin Nordgren and completely destroyed his persona of this elite golfer with a genial appeal. 2010 kicked off with the discovery of many different women Tiger had given the long ball to. Making matters worse, Tiger had a subpar year in golf, missing the cut at the Masters and various low placing spots in the other Majors events. There was also the creepy, egotistical ad campaign from Nike involving a video which featured narration by his Dad, the late Earl Woods. Did he learn anything? Probably not. It will be some time before Tiger returns to form. Of course, if he were to retire tomorrow, he’d still be able to live lavishly.

Tiger Woods Commercial Narrated By His Late Father

Ben Roethlisberger
Ben can look back at 2009, from a professional standpoint and be proud. His personal stats were phenomenal, breaking franchise records left and right. Even though the Steelers failed to make the playoffs, Ben’s performance rating was great, overall. However, off the field his antics in a Georgia bar landed him in the hot seat which kicked off 2010 with an investigation into possible sex assault charges, which were dropped due to lack of evidence, and a four game suspension, which was upheld due to lack of common sense by the NFL and fellow nominee Roger Goodell. But Ben has made good on his suspension, completing whatever steps he needed to earn his way back into the good graces of the league. Even if there are chants of “No means no!” in the event that Ben plays in his third Super Bowl appearance in February, you cannot argue that Ben is a tough as nails player, shrugging off a broken foot, broken nose, a inexperienced and struggling offensive line, and the constant evil eyes he gets from those who feel he was guilty of a crime in order to continually win games for his team. You have to wonder if maybe he’s playing at this level and through the adversity in order to redeem himself in the eyes of his team and his fans. Odds are, if he hoists a Lombardi trophy in Dallas, this coming February, he’s probably going to be given a pass. I won’t say that I, personally, have not forgiven him for his attitude off the field but, I’m just glad he got rid of that stupid haircut. He may still be a lifelong d-bag and only the off season will tell.

Big Ben Story on WTAE

LeBron James
James played in Cleveland for seven years without bringing home a championship. In July, he became a free agent and began being courted by other teams in the NBA. His biggest dick move came from holding a televised special announcing his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami. Now, free agency is what it is. I am not bothered by the fact that LeBron left Cleveland. I am bothered by the fact that he informed his employers just minutes before the LIVE telecast and wasted all of America’s time with such a piece of self-inflated egotistical douchebaggery.

LeBron Interview and Decision

Brett Favre
When it comes time for Brett Favre to be inducted into the Football Hall of Fame, no one will deny his deserving of being there, not even me. However, the fact that he should have retired um, 1000 times already makes him the number one sports douchebag in my book, alone. How many times will he make the world wait to see if he’ll decide to leave the farm and go to camp? How many backup quarterbacks will join teams hoping for a legitimate shot of starting, only to have Brett say, “Hmm, should I retire? Hmmm, naaaaahhh!” Then again, how many times are we going to have to use bleach on our minds to scrub away the image of Little Brett being texted to Jen Sterger? The QB supposedly sent inappropriate texts, including one of his Mini Viking to Sterger in 2008, along with voice mails. He admitted to the voice mails but denied he was the one who sent the texts. Whether he acted on all those bad intentions he had, this much is for sure. The lack of disciplinary action against Favre for these acts just makes Roger Goodell look more and more like the king of all d-bags.

Pants on the Ground Foreshadowing?

Derek Jeter
Love them or hate them, the Yankees are an elite ball club. They play to win, even if they have to cheat to do it. Back in September, a pitch bounced off the end of Jeter’s bat and Jeter pretended to be hit. He even had the trainer look at his arm in an effort to sell his injury. Taking his base gave the Yankees a chance to score, helping their race to the playoffs. While Instant Replay isn’t used in baseball in this fashion, repeated viewings of the clip, clearly shows the bat being hit and Jeter admitted as much, later. So, is what he did cheating or just part of the game? Yeah, his job is to get on base and help his team win games, but what does that say to all the impressionable young fans and players he has become a role model to? Win at all costs and don’t get caught. Bud Selig should take a page out of Goodell’s book and start fining players for poor sportsmanship. Then again, the Yankees would probably get preferential treatment like certain Hair Club For Men Members QB’ing up North.

Jeter Cheeter

And The Winner – LeBron James
LeBron may not have cheated in basketball, assaulted anyone, sent inappropriate pictures of himself or cheated on his wife, like the others, but his actions involving his decision to leave Cleveland were ridiculous. The town is not the greatest, I get that. But they welcomed you in 2003 and cheered you on, buying merchandise with your number and likeness. In turn, just because you didn’t get that brass ring, you decided that their devotion was second or third rate and jumped ship to a better team. And you did for the publicity. You went on live television and indirectly declared that your decision to go to Miami should more important and newsworthy than a war in Afghanistan, a environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, a natural disaster in Haiti, and any number of issues this country has faced coming out of the recession. Kudos LeBron, you are the biggest D-Bag of this round.

Honorable mention time
I wanted to limit the category to five nominees but had to at least mention Steve Johnson of the Buffalo Bills because he blamed God for him dropping a game winning catch against the Steelers. And to top it all off, he did it over Twitter. Granted, the continual praising and thanking of God for anyone’s abilities to make millions of dollars to play a sport has become so blasé that it demeans a higher power and comes off as inauthentic. However, blasted said higher power and the fact that you did it over a social network like Twitter just makes you look like a complete ass.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

For The Love Of All That Is Sacred In This World, Stop Hollywood, Now

For those of you tuning in, expecting to see the first round of the 2010 D-Bag Awards, I apologize. It’s just that news has come up that has taken precedence. It’s not even new news. Well, it’s new to me. I’ll explain.

Just as we were all sitting down to give thanks and enjoy some turkey, the news came out that Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, the film, found its leading man to tackle the role of Nathan Drake. Now, for those of you who have not followed my blog in recent months or have been under a gaming rock for the last three years, there are a couple of PS3 games called, Uncharted. Both the first and second game are beyond phenomenal. I’m not talking in terms of what Grand Theft Auto 3 did for gaming. Uncharted took your standard run and gun, swing and jump style of game and blew the back out of the console.

Let me gush, for just a paragraph. Uncharted is not just a typical game. The graphics are amazing, the mechanics are spectacular and the acting is top notch. There are moments in Uncharted 2 where the line between actual game play and cut scene is so blurred that you would need a microscope to see the transition. You are just walking along a wall and all of the sudden a tank bursts through the wall and nearly knocks you off a cliff and you continue to move after all this happens as if you never lost control of your character. You climb up rickety ladders and boards give way. I mean the second game begins with you dangling over a Tibetan mountainside in a wrecked train. You have a bullet wound to the guy and are forced to climb to safety while the train slowly sinks over the edge. Pieces give way, you fall off of different parts and land further down, only to begin climbing again. These are, of course scripted, but still seamless in their incorporation into actual game play. Quite simply, the storyline alone makes it a worthwhile series. Hell, it makes it a better movie. It makes the last Indiana Jones movie look Pitfall, the Atari game, in comparison.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune Trailer

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Trailer

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception Trailer
Coming 11-1-11

That’s the extent of my gushing. Now, here comes the ranting. Hollywood, in its infinite wisdom and infinite stupidity has decided to make a movie of the first title in the series, Drake’s Fortune. The premise of the game is that the descendant of Sir Francis Drake is on the hunt for the City of Eldorado and its gold. Of course, there are bad guys, heroines/damsels, double crosses and climactic battles. It’s a perfect movie idea. And that’s exactly why it shouldn’t be made into a movie, because there has yet to be a great movie that has been adapted from a game. Although, I will give props to Mortal Kombat. It is what it is and perfect for the type of game it was. We won’t talk about Super Mario Bros, Double Dragon, or Street Fighter. We just won’t. Tomb Raider had all the right ideas but with the wrong delivery and Resident Evil is a good movie series that happens to share a few elements from a game. It is not a faithful adaptation. Silent Hill comes closer but still makes us want a little more of the game involved.

But, Hollywood, being Hollywood will stop at nothing in its quest to destroy all that is good for the sake of a few bucks and the possibility of a sequel. So, now that there is nothing stopping an Uncharted movie from being made, one can only hope that with the company behind the game, Naughty Dog, some justice will be done. That is usually when the world depants you and laughs maniacally.

My hope is that the movie would hinge on casting the right people in the film as their video game counterparts. Now the names Nolan North and Richard McGonagle may not be well known in the movie industry. So what? The names Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson were not known before a little film called Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone came along and it was an ADAPTATION! 

Looking at the original cast, Nolan voiced and provided the physical model for Nathan Drake and Richard did so for Sully in the Uncharted series. If you were going to cast a movie based on a game that had this kind of voice acting alone, along with a great script, wouldn’t you, at least start looking at the people who originated the characters? OK, Hollywood doesn’t want to put the weight of a blockbuster on the shoulders of people who primarily do voice over work. That’s fine. But then, wouldn’t you start looking at the people that kind of look or act like them? Prime examples, Nathan Fillion as Drake and possibly J.K. Simmons as Sully. Not too hard to see either one of them in those roles. Hell, you could make a minor case, although it would be extremely type cast and creepy, to cast Jeffery Donovan as Drake and Bruce Campbell as Sully. The fact that they almost function in those types of roles on Burn Notice is almost calling the relationship a trope.  Kind of like older, close to retirement cop and younger, loose cannon, slightly insane cop ala Lethal Weapon.

What happened next? Somehow, someone in Hollywood decided to first go out and get director David O. Russell to direct the film. Any hopes I had of even considering this movie salvageable went out the window with that decision. This is the guy that directed I Heart Huckabees and I’ll let you go and look up the rant against Lily Tomlin on YouTube on your own time. Put it this way, the guy is an ass hat. Yeah, he directed Three Kings but that doesn’t excuse his douchebaginess.  See, I still found a way to include the theme of d-bags in this post. So, of course, seeing as how David O. Russell will destroy this film, it couldn’t possibly get any worse, right?

Wong.  Way back at the tippy top of this post I mentioned Thanksgiving and that’s when this turkey hit the fan. They have announced that Mark Wahlberg will be playing Nathan Drake. I will wait for your brain to stop bleeding from that information.  I will then repeat it because it only serves to strengthen you. Marky Mark is playing Nathan Drake. Head meet desk. Before you decided to call me a fanboy, crybaby, Simpson's Comic Book Guy, let me explain.

Exhibit A: The crapfest that was Max Payne.
Exhibit B: SNL’s Andy Samberg clearly has Mark Wahlberg’s acting style down pat and is clearly the best choice to play Mark Wahlberg in the Mark Wahlberg life story.

Mark Wahlberg Talks To Animals from Max Payne Interview

Exhibit C: The Happening. Now, I will give as much blame to M. Night on that film but Mark Wahlberg’s acting made Andy Samberg’s impression of Wahlberg a better performance than the ridiculous suckfest that was his performance in The Happening.
Ok, so the video below is an exaggeration of the scene in question, but before they start tinkering with the speed, you can get the idea of what caliber of acting we're talking about here.

The Happening at 33 1/2, 45, and 78 RPM

I give up, Hollywood. This is exactly the kind of crap that caused me to start Mongo Angry! Mongo Smash! and I just want to curl up into a ball and try to use enough bleach to scrub away the dirty that is my soul after hearing this news. This will ruin the series. And, after all, the new game, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is coming out next November and then two years later, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune will bow in theaters and be destined to the Walmart bargain bin before the first showing is even over. You win, Hollywood. I have nothing left. I have tried to defend you, but like a battered woman married to an alcoholic, I keep coming back, only to end up with another bruise, explained away as a household accident with inanimate objects. You’ve killed my soul and somehow I am to blame for it. Goodbye cruel world.

Oh wait, there’s more. There’s even talks to have Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci appear in the movie as Nate’s father and uncle. ZOMGWTFBBQ?!?! First off, that has to be some sort of joke. Second of all, those two characters aren’t even in the games... any of them!

In the words of Marky Mark, himself.  "What? No!" 

Shoot me now, and use very large bullets.  I'll be back next time with a legitimate D-bag awards post.

Monday, December 13, 2010

2010 D-Bag Awards: Nominations

Just in case any of you really enjoyed last year’s D-Bag Of the Year Awards, I am going to hold another Awards post, devoted to the dickery for this past year.  I have decided that I will not use the same format as last year, simply for the sake of sanity and time. This will be a straightforward posting with no elaborate scenarios. I will simply deliver each round with a brief summary of what each one did and the winner.  Those winners will go up against last year's winner, Death, in a sudden death cage match with ill tempered squirrels.

The Nominees for 2010 are:
D-Bag Jocks
Tiger Woods (2nd year Nominee)
Ben Roethlisberger
LeBron James
Brett Favre
Derek Jeter
Steve Johnson

D-Bag Celebs
Mel Gibson
Lindsay Lohan
Paris Hilton
John Mayer
Justin Bieber

Reality D-Bags
The Cast of The Jersey Shore
Heidi Montag (2nd year Nominee)
Jesse James
Teen Mom cast members

Political D-Bags
Christine O’Donnell
Sarah Palin (2nd year Nominee)
Bill O’Reilly
Glenn Beck
Tea Party Movement

Company D-Bags

Media D-Bags
Julian Assange
Perez Hilton
ME (Mongo)
Dr. Laura Schlessinger

CED:  Chief Executive D-Bags
Roger Goodell
Bob Nutting
Steve Jobs

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Lesser Man Project: Week 5

Week five puts me at my first major milestone for this experiment. 10 pounds lost. That’s an average of 2 pounds a week and I’ve barely done any real work other than cutting back to a cup of cereal every morning, eating smaller portions of lunch and dinner and limiting those pesky snacks to almost nothing.

Nothing major to report other than I am heading into rough waters as I get closer to the end of the month. Thanksgiving was easy compared to the thought of being off work for the last two weeks of the month. Being home for an extended amount of time is dangerous to someone trying to lose weight. Food is at the ready and boredom tends to lead to phantom hunger pains. Fortunately, I have a wife who loves to make lists. She’ll keep me busy, I’m sure.

In case you have been keeping score with that sliding scale on the side bar. I tried out a free countdown graph but my math skills are rusty. I’ve been flubbing the percentages for a few weeks now, so if anyone can verify to me that 12.5% of 80lbs would be 10lbs, I’d appreciate it. It would be nice if I could just enter in attributes like lost pounds and have it show up correctly. Maybe I’ll tweak the coding a bit to see if I can get it looking the way I want it to.

Take care all.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Reason #296 For Why I Will Not Get Into Heaven

I am, by no means, a very religious person. If that bothers you, then you need to stop reading right now and go find another blog in which to waste your lunch hour. If you are still reading then you might actually get a kick out of this story.

Like I said, I am not religious. For my daughter’s sake I go through all the necessary steps to ensure that she believes the everyday stuff that my wife believes. She is a born and raised Methodist and I can swing with them because they aren’t as stuffy as my upbringing, Byzantine Catholics, or what we usually called Greek Catholic. Now, Byz. Caths. are not as strict as your garden variety Roman ones. Our priests could marry, for one, and we didn’t have to do that whole Confirmation and CCD classes thing. I did attend Catechism classes and made my first Holy Communion when I was five. It wasn’t too bad and was kind of fun. It helped that our priest was pretty cool. My earliest memories of Father Marco was that of a man walking around in the floor length black priest attire, with black, horn rimmed glasses, a cup of coffee in one hand, and a cigarette, dangling out of his mouth. I loved that guy. He was a total trip.

Making my First Holy Communion

Apart from Catechism classes, I did regularly attend church on Sundays, with my family. For a five year old, it was rather boring.  Even if the service was done with some tonal inflection [read: sing-songy], an hour can seem like days.  We attended Sunday morning mass which was either something like 10:00AM and 11:00AM. God help me if I would have had to attend the masses that were done in all Slovak.  As it was, I spent a lot of that hour in church, thumbing through the books, trying to read the Slovak pages instead of paying attention to the English side. Basically, all you really needed to remember was when to kneel, sit, stand, and FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

This usually occurred when I was not sitting directly next to or between my brother and sister. If I was, then there were usually snickers and suppressed chortles sneaking out of us as we screwed around in the pews. The smartest kid would always sit furthest away from our parents, out of striking distance. I imagine that the “Let us pray” request, coming from the priest, should not be followed by the muffled snorts of a ill behaved child in a very acoustically endowed room.

Hallelujah hi-jinks, aside, all was well with our experience. Eventually, however, Father Marco died and my parents were a bit put off by his successor, Father Mike. He was a bit of an old school priest with a lot to say for members of the church who didn’t believe in tithing, in any amount. We began to attend in less frequency, going only on Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve, before completely leaving the church, all together. Of course, as a child, I didn’t mind. I was getting to sleep in on Sundays. I took my weekend sleeping very seriously, as you can tell. Something I don’t get to enjoy at all anymore with a three year old.  A three year old who gets up at 8:30AM, on the weekends, in great regularity, that is.

Now, I have said, with the utmost certainty, that the reason my parents decided to stop going to church was based solely on the attitude and actions of the newer priest, Father Mike. But, what I’ve come to realize, as I get older, is that parents answer one question in a certain way to avoid the issue cascading into 300 other questions. I’ve learned this as a parent. I always want to give the truthful explanation to any question my child has, because I am a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie who likes to have the answer.  Yet, the answer I give is usually the predecessor to more questions which always end up in redundancy on my part. So, I give a short answer of “yes” or “no” or “ask your mother” to avoid such inquisitions. So, when I asked my parents why they stopped going to church they gave me the universally accepted answer of “Father Mike did ‘this’” or “We felt Father Mike was being ‘this.’”  However, I have pieced together, from experiencing my own line of questioning, as a parent, that a deeper conspiracy may have resulted in our expulsion from the church.  In all likelihood, it was my fault.

I have not done all the required research and could be speculating, A LOT, but I think my parents were forced to stop attending church because of something I did. If you were hoping I would elaborate into a three hour rant, you’re in luck. We’re already an hour in by this paragraph.

Like I said, I have fond memories of Father Marco, and scant memories of Father Mike. But, my last memory of going to church was on a snowy Christmas Eve. We had gone to an evening mass, probably so my mother could continue wrapping presents from “Santa.”  She was not Catholic, so her excusing herself from certain church related activities was not suspicious in the least to me. I mean, there could not possibly be any mythical holiday figure related activities in place of another, in other words. So, my father loaded us kids into our Jeep Cherokee, with optional snow plow, and headed up the road a bit to church.

I had made the classic blunder like all kids that night. Even my kid makes it all the time, now. When parents ask you if you have to go to the bathroom, before leaving, you should say yes. The same goes for adults in their late 30s and up. You always go before you leave. That's the rule.  I don't care if you think you are fine.  You go.  We are forever having to take our daughter to the bathroom whenever it is the least convenient to everyone. Well, I was just as bad as a child. I had just eaten dinner, accompanied by two glasses of iced tea, and then informed my father, with the upmost certainty that “I did not have to go.” He accepted my third repetition of that answer and off we went.

I felt the urge to pee about five minutes into our drive but kept my mouth shut. Upon reaching the church, I informed my father that I had to go and he gave me that “I thought you didn’t have to go” speech followed by my response of, “I didn’t have to go, THEN.” He told me to hold it and we went into the service which was beginning to start. The last half hour was pretty unbearable as I repeatedly said, in a whisper, “I have to go.” Of course, the church being rather on the empty side elevated that whisper into a mild roar. I guess it could have been worse. My child will inform an entire restaurant that she “Has to go poop.” And, just in case anyone didn’t hear her, she will repeat that statement again in five seconds at a louder volume.

After the service, my eyes were literally watering. I was ready to burst. In a totally related context, I don’t think the Spanish Inquisition employed such torture as my father, continually telling me to hold it. By the time we made it back to the Jeep, which was parked on the street next to the wall that ran along the front of the Rectory, I was in dire straits.  Home was only a five minute drive, at most, but I wasn’t going to make it out of the parking lot.

I pleaded with my father, one last time, and he caved. “Fine. Come here.” I expected him to locate a bathroom, somewhere inside the church, out of the cold darkness that was Christmas Eve in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Instead, he directed me around the driver’s side of the Jeep and said to go there.

“But, I’m outside.” I said.

“Just go.” He said.

“Someone will see me.” I said.

“No one will see you.” He said.

“Dad?” I asked.

“Do you have to go or not?” He said.

I went.

Tucked away along the side of the big honking Jeep Cherokee, with optional snow plow, I let out a pee that could have put out the fires of Rome. Moses could have parted it and led his people to freedom. It was the most relief I had ever felt in my short time on this Earth. My father, brother and sister stood watch, on either side of the Jeep, shivering as I continued to pee for what seemed like hours. I stood there, in a church parking lot, reaffirming myself that “No one could see me,” over and over.   I did this and then looked up to the sky, as most men do when they relieve themselves with great elation. I looked up into the night sky, with all its wonder. The twinkling of the stars were the only source of light that cold night. I stood there and looked to the… heavens. “Uh, oh.” I thought.

The Scene of the Crime
circa today via Google Street View

The following events are of my own speculation. I have no proof other than a gut feeling that serves to bring this story to some kind of conclusion as you are probably ready to collect social security, by now.

That night while I slept, anxiously awaiting Christmas morning and lots of Star Wars action figure type presents, I believe that some ethereal communication network informed Father Mike of my desecration of church property. Perhaps even God, himself, got on the horn and rang up Father Mike through some kind of sophisticated communication system, hidden behind a book case, in his office. I imagine him moving a statue of the Virgin Mary, triggering a switch that opened the wall revealing an ornate device with lots of blinking lights and buttons, along with a big microphone and headphones. A flashing light, indicating an incoming message, catches his attention and he sits down and dons the holy headphones, answering the call.

“My son. That boy has peed on my land. Banish his family. It is Christmas and I am trying not to smite too many people.”

"It shall be done, O Holy Father."

I imagine that a few days go by and Father Mike has a lengthy conference with my parents, informing them that I was seen, writing my name in pee on the Rectory wall. We were to be excommunicated and possibly barred from entering heaven at the time of our death no matter how many good deeds we may have done byt then.

I could be WAY OFF in this assessment of what really happened. What my parents told me, as a child, could be totally true. But, if you expect me to believe that there is a deity that can be everywhere and see everything, then how can I expect there not to be some form of punishment for whizzing on a wall outside of church. In any case, I guess I won’t know whether or not my theory is true until I die and go up to heaven. Whereupon, when I reach the Pearly Gates and find myself barred from entering I’ll know I was right. In that case, I will totally take a leak on the gate and gladly go to hell.  It's a long trip and I've learned to go before leaving.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Cave of Seclusion Has Poor Radio Reception

Every once in a while I have to come down out of my cave of seclusion to see what’s happening in the world. The Cave of Seclusion is much like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, except it shields me from the crap that is out there on in mainstream Pop Culture, like Bristol Palin making it to the finals on Dancing with the Stars or yet another reality show like Bridal Plasty. But, I should embrace the malaise instead of shuddering myself from it. After all, I am in the business of making t-shirts based on such tripe.
It was one of these trips down from the mount that I discovered Cee-Lo Green’s new single, “F**k You!” I’m trying to keep it PG around here. I have limited exposure to Cee-Lo, other than the song Crazy from Gnarls Barkley. I still love that song and keep it on current play lists for my listening pleasure. However, I had heard that he had released the new song but since I don’t listen to Top 40 stations that only play the top four songs in a constant rotation of ear bleeding torture, I tend to miss a lot. I had to go to my wife’s niece and ask her to call up “F**k You!” On Demand. I guess that’s the way we get music videos nowadays. MTV no longer plays music videos and I didn’t exactly have access to YouTube when I made this request of the 14 year old who loves everything Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift related. I don’t blame her, I blame society.

I was blown away at the song. It was perfect. It had a great Motown feel to it while spouting obscenities, although it was censored. I had to call it up on YouTube to get the uncensored version, because even though I love it. I’m still too cheap to go out and buy the CD for one song. Afterwards, my wife’s niece called up Katy Perry’s “Fireworks.” From what I can pretty much gather, Katy Perry’s music career consists of things shooting of her breasts in the videos. Frankly, I could turn down the sound and watch "California Gurls" and be happy. My thoughts are that her first album was probably the best she’ll ever be. The whole “I Kissed a Girl” song was the pinnacle of her credibility and now she simply panders to girls who want to be like her and teenage boys who become piqued with the promise that she might actually fall out of her top. I don’t blame her. I’ve been there. I remember recording the video for Motely Crue’s “Take Me Home” and running it back in slow motion just to see how close I could come to seeing a hint of nipple when the female fan lifts her shirt in the concert footage during the chorus. Of course, you never do see anything but Tommy Lee’s expression of “WHOA!” You’d think he’d never seen a pair before.

I really need to start getting out of my bubble. I have a three year old who is quickly adapting to the world around her, even though I’ve tried to shield her from the crap that is out there.

I admit, my methods probably aren’t approved by child psychologists. One Saturday I happened to be flipping through channels and found Ghostbusters on one of the cable channels and, of course, had to watch a couple of minutes. Forgetting that there was a three year old present, I continued to watch as Slimer greased up Venkman and then became trapped inducing the pop culture nugget, “We came. We saw. We kicked its ass!” That got repeated, immediately by my child. I toyed with the prospect of putting Toy Story on for the umpteenth time, which don’t get me wrong, it’s a great movie, but I can only take so many repeated viewings. I weighed the fallout from this decision and decided to throw the DVD in and watch from the beginning. Ghostbusters, not Toy Story. She was hooked. I figured she’d be a little frightened but she kept asking me to rewind the parts with Slimer and The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. She doesn’t get frightened by things on television. Now, seeing a Halloween decoration, in the store come to life, has spooked her to the point of screaming until her eye sockets were flushed red, but seeing the skeleton cab driver in Ghostbusters simply caused her to say, “Hey, that skeleton isn’t a very good driver.”

Thankfully, I was able to locate her portable DVD player because Ghostbusters 1 & 2 has become her new favorite loop of movies. I can freely sit and play Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare free for all while she sits and dances to the "Ghostbusters" song.

Unfortunately, one day, the crap of the world reared its ugly head in my living room. While being fragged by 12 year olds over my Internet connection, this little voice began singing from across the room. She was playing with blocks and just muttering the lyrics to a pop song. At first, I had no problem with this behavior. That was until I heard what she was actually saying. She was singing Ke$ha’s “Take It Off.” After being blown up by a grenade, I called my wife into the room. “Guess what your daughter is singing?” I wasn’t appalled at the lyrics, but more the choice of artist. Where the hell did she hear this crap!?!?

I need to step up my daughter’s instruction on the finer artists of 20th century pop culture. I figure some heavy doses of RUSH and CCR followed by a nice application of some Johnny Cash and Cream. I’ll be damned if any kid of mine is going to start singing that crap that is on the radio.

Of course if she breaks into “F**k You” anytime soon, I might let her finish the song before I scold her for swearing. After that I’ll tell her to go watch Ghostbusters on her little DVD player while I get blown up another 15 times. Parent of the year award, here I come.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Lesser Man Project: Week 3-4

This is just a quick update about this week and last week’s progress. With the holiday falling near the middle of the week I was swamped with other work in preparation for being off for a few days and had to miss posting. Apologies to all of you who are hanging on my every word concerning my quest to lose weight. Sarcasm is intended there.

This is going to be the toughest part of the experiment. We are heading into the winter which means lessened outdoor activity, unless you count putting up Christmas lights which should be considered an Olympic Sport at my house. It also means that we are heading full force into the holidays which means lots of bad influences like carbs from Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, cookies and leftover Halloween candy, and Egg Nog. Egg Nog, alone, could negate any progress I’ve made over the last couple of weeks.

I will say it has become so much easier to pass up the snacks. Because we are heading into December, people are bringing more and more goodies to work. I’ve passed up a few things but I hate to insult someone by not accepting their offer of food. One of my biggest problems is that I am, like my namesake, Mikey from the LIFE cereal ads. When I first met my wife back in 1998 I went to dinner at her house and met her parents. They like to cook and they don’t skimp on portions. Whenever I would finish my plate they would continually say, “Have some more.” Soon, one serving of pasta became two large plates. Trust me, I like food and I like to eat but I have to begin turning down such hospitality if I plan on losing the extra weight I’ve gained in the last ten years. So, here’s the progress report.

Here’s the good news.
I did not gain any weight after the Thanksgiving weekend, in fact, as of today, I'm down an additional pound. My wife made her first Thanksgiving dinner with a 14 pound fresh turkey, sweet potato casserole, homemade stuffing, corn casserole, and Pillsbury iced cinnamon rolls. All in all, I had two helpings of stuffing, turkey, sweet potatoes and rolls and managed to come back to work on Monday with no extra weight. And, it’s not like I did a damn thing but veg out on the couch watching movies and playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Free-For-All Deathmatch. That is a new addiction of mine and I really suck at it, which makes for a lot of frustration and continual attempts to get better. Let’s just say that I cannot wait until I unlock the perk of dropping a grenade when I get killed because I die more from grenade drops than I do from anything else.

Here’s the bad news.
I might be reaching that first plateau. I was kind of hoping I could get back to my earlier weight of 255-265 before having to add additional steps. I can explain the additional 20 pounds very easily. My mother-in-law passed away in April and that’s when I started gaining the extra weight. It would be normal for us to eat at my in-laws, maybe three to four times a week. Sure, the extra portions are a problem but at least the food is home cooked and not full of bad stuff. Since April, we have been going out more and eating quicker, more carb heavy and fatty foods. While my wife is becoming an awesome cook, especially with that turkey that I am still eating sandwiches from for lunch, she teaches piano almost every afternoon into the evening and doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare a meal.

Next Steps
Hopefully, with the brief lull in festive eating, I can knock off a few more pounds the way I have been. Last night I caught myself, after work, wanting to break into the sweet rolls before they have to be pitched. Luckily, they looked kind of nasty and we pitched them. The apple on my way home from work is still enough to hold me until dinner. Although, after the New Year, I am sure I will have to ramp up my efforts. Don’t expect any resolutions from me because they are trap and a great way to fail. In fact, I advise any of you, looking to lose weight, to follow my example. Don’t make a New Year’s Resolution because you are betting against yourself. Resolutions tend to be unrealistic, pie in the sky goals. Instead just start taking those small steps that create results and stick to them.

Breakfasts for the last week
Weekdays – 1 cup Lucky Charms and skim milk
Holiday weekend – no breakfast or Pillsbury cinnamon roll

Lunches for the last week
Leftover turkey sandwich
Light Yogurt
Diet Pepsi

Snacks for the last week
Pumpkin pie with Cool Whip (Late at night – VERY BAD)

Dinners for last week
Thanksgiving dinner
Leftover Thanksgiving dinner
More Leftover Thanksgiving dinner
McDonald’s club sandwich meal with Diet Coke, small
Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, small fry, small Diet Coke, no Frosty

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Childhood Movie Madness

I blame Ginny, over at That’s Church, for this post. She opened up the floodgates by mentioning Pete’s Dragon in a recent post.

In my 35 years of being on this Earth, I have seen a lot of movies. I mean a lot of movies. And even though there are movies I have not seen, I could probably hold a conversation about or figure out what movie you were talking about if you were all staring up at the ceiling, waiting for the answers to fall from the sky into your head. My own sister regularly uses me to settle arguments or jog her memory about movies, even if I haven’t seen them. It’s just something I pay attention to.

So, when Ginny went on for a few paragraphs about tattoos and Pittsburgh and being old, the one thing I latched onto and ran with was the comment about having the song, “We Got a Bill of Sale Right Here” from Pete’s Dragon, stuck in her head. That immediately sent me reeling into my subconscious iPod playlist to retrieve “Every Little Piece.” Now, I’ve been going, “Money, Money, Money by the pound” every few minutes until my brain explodes in a pop culture mess all over my cube.

That mess sent me on another hunt, this one went further into my brain, past the cobwebs and skeletons and thoughts of Susanna Hoffs in the “Walk Like An Egyptian” costume and the poster of Alyssa Milano in a New Jersey Devils’ sweater on my bedroom wall when I was a kid.  Um… excuse me for a minute.

Ok, where was I?

Oh yeah, going past all that I return to my early childhood, in grade school. It’s just about this time of year and with the impending holiday season the lack of structured instruction taking place, we’d all assemble in the cafeteria/gymnasium/auditorium in my school and watch movies. They were usually Disney flicks or other kid friendly fare. One of those movies was, in fact, Pete’s Dragon. That conjured the list of other movies I had seen during these days.

Pete’s Dragon
Hot Lead, Cold Feet
The Apple Dumpling Gang
The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again
No Deposit, No Return
Any number of Herbie movies, minus Lindsay Lohan
The Black Hole
Freaky Friday (Again, minus Lindsay Lohan.  This was the Jodie Foster version)
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (Kurt Russell version)
The World’s Greatest Athlete
Escape To Witch Mountain
Return To Witch Mountain
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines

The only other movie I can recall being shown at our school was that super secret sixth grade film that was shown to all the girls. They taped paper on the windows so that we couldn’t see what was going on in there. Conspiracy, I tell ya! It’s all a plot to take down Y chromosome!

That’s all I got folks. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be somewhere in the recesses of my mind with Alyssa Milano, Susanna Hoffs, and a Disney movie marathon.

Friday, November 19, 2010 Makes My Afternoon Disappear

I have been spending an ungodly amount of time surfing through this site. One of the folks I follow on Twitter made reference to their effervescent bacon tablets and that just got me spiraling into a wasted day of wishful thinking. appears to be a site that advertises products for men… who have exorbitant amounts of disposable cash. But I love it. It ranks up there with

Here are some highlights of products I would definitely want. Note, I can probably afford the cereal marshmallows and that’s it. LOL.

Mint Robo Cleaner

1959 Land Rover Series II Model 109

HP Slate 500

Cereal Marshmallows

Mac Book Air 2

Where was I?  What's work?  What's my pin number? 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Lesser Man Project: Week 2

Here it is, week two. I topped out at six pounds by Saturday morning and I couldn’t believe that. I’ve seem to either reached a plateau or just negated the work I did because I’ve been hovering there since then.

I’m actually lucky to have not gained it all back this past weekend. It was a pretty bad one. It’s always hard to do the right thing when you don’t have the time to do it. Friday night, my father-in-law’s band played a set at the American Legion in Scottdale, PA. That meant rushing around to get things done in order to be there for an 8PM start. I was good for lunch, having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with my usual light yogurt and Diet Pepsi. On the way home from work I had my usual snack, a gala apple. Then nothing else until dinner.

I was the designated driver so I had to drive us all there, including my father-in-law and his friend. We had one of my wife’s piano students watch our daughter for the evening which would last well past midnight. After picking up her dinner, a pizza from Fox’s, I found myself desperately craving a piece, but I was good. However, after dropping off my father-in-law and unloading the equipment, my wife and I headed to McDonald’s for a quick bite. It was nearby and would be quick. So, I made up for that craving. I wasn’t too bad. I had a small diet coke, small fry, and a grilled chicken sandwich. In fact, I only had one beer in the first hour and drank a couple of Diet Cokes the rest of the night.

Saturday was a different story. We needed a small but, quick lunch in order to get some stuff done. I opted for some breakfast sandwiches at Sheetz. Usually, I’ll get extra cheese on it, but as part of the new plan, did without. For dinner, one of my wife’s friends wanted to go out with us and suggested a place we’ve never been to. We drove everyone to Indiana, PA, to visit Fire Mountain. It’s a buffet like Ponderosa or Old Country Buffet. It wasn’t bad. They had carving stations and salads and desserts. Figures, I’m trying to change the way I eat and we go to an all you can eat buffet. I had a piece of chicken, not breaded, some regular salad and seafood salad, breaded shrimp and a couple of other items. For dessert I had a scoop of cookies and cream ice cream and a small piece of chocolate cake. I could have been much worse, believe me.

Sunday, we had a late dinner that was more snack-like in nature. The Steelers played New England on Sunday night… and lost. We decided to have taco dip, Tostino’s Pizza Rolls, and a plate of cheese and crackers. I couldn’t help but have a two servings of the taco dip and pizza rolls. It’s amazing how good bad food can taste when you are cutting back. And I mean “bad” as in “bad for you.”

Monday, I had the leftover pizza from Friday night. Two pieces of pizza never tasted so good but since I’m used to eating four or maybe five, it was a short lived decadence. You know the rest of my lunch, yogurt and diet pop, and an apple for the ride home. That night was another night out.

I never really looked at how bad we’ve eaten until I started documenting it. I mean, we eat out a lot. I can count on one hand the times I’ve eaten dinner at home in a week. I’d still be able to give you a Boy Scout salute along with that. There’s no excuse other than we don’t cook a lot and with my wife teaching lessons until almost 7pm there isn’t a lot of desire to do it afterwards. I’m going to start looking into some crock pot stuff that I can do.

Monday would have also been my mother-in-law’s birthday. We would normally have eaten in on a Monday, but seeing as how we would have definitely taken her out to dinner we decided to continue that tradition. Persichetti’s in Jeannette was one of her favorite places but they are closed on Monday’s. Our normal Tuesday night stop is Zackel’s in Claridge so we opted for that Monday and Persichetti’s on Tuesday. In honor of my late mother-in-law, I had a Reuben. It was pretty good and light on the Thousand Island dressing. I had about four or five fries from my daughter’s plate and my diet drink.

Tuesday’s lunch consisted of my wife’s leftover Italian sub, which was half of a half with no dressing. The usual additions were present, light yogurt, Diet Pepsi and gala apple. At Persichetti’s that night, I had a house salad with house vinaigrette, a small piece of bread with butter and a turkey club. Normally, I would ask for extra Miracle Whip, but didn’t. It came with a small soufflé cup full and that was it. I also had a half of a piece of garlic toast at my wife’s insistence.

Today should an overload as I will be eating my wife’s left over spaghetti. She had the sampler, last night, which consisted of a piece of small portions of lasagna, gnocchi and spaghetti. She left half of the spaghetti and lasagna and I’m making that into two days worth of lunch. Today, the spaghetti and tomorrow, the lasagna.

Along with the observation about how bad I’ve been with eating out, here is what I’ve also noticed.

  • Cereal is lasting me a lot longer but milk is going out of date before I can drink it.
  • I’m not as hungry as I used to be. There are moments I feel really hungry before dinner but they are almost forgettable.
  • I found a particular pair of pants that I stopped wearing because I assumed they wouldn’t fit. They are smaller in the waist than my normal ones and they don’t have any give, whatsoever. They fit now. They may have always fit, but they fit better than I thought they would and they were falling down, too.
  • I’m having to throw a lot of food because I’m not eating it. Leftovers are taking forever to get rid of and I’m stretching them into one or two days worth of lunch.
  • I feel satisfied and not hungry, even after a little bit of food.
  • Food that I haven’t been eating taste really good, especially the stuff I shouldn’t be eating.
  • I’m enjoying food more, mostly because I’m not feeling overfull after a meal. There were times I almost dreaded eating, because of how I would feel afterwards, but that’s not the case, now.
You can do this, too. I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor, so you have to figure out what is best for you.  I would also consult one of those people before you go crazy.  But these kinds of changes are small and aren’t really impacting your diet as much. I’m just thinking logically about how to approach this experiment. I’m cutting back on the amount of food, not the quality. I am recognizing where I need to have the give and take.

I’ll eventually plateau and have to take new steps to lose more weight, but I’m not suffering and I’m getting some desired results. This wasn’t hard to do. It was actually very easy. I know that for a lot of people out there, being overweight and actually doing something about losing it is hard, for whatever reason. Remember, I’m doing this with the intent of not making any drastic changes and not starving myself or becoming some fitness nut or health guru.

I could easily go home, grab a bowl of candy and go to town. It would be nothing for me to stop and get a pack of Klondike bars or something else that could derail my progress. You just have to get your mind in the direction you want to go and the body WILL follow. Start small, be realistic and just keep at it. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself for doing a good job but remember that the treat should still fall in line with the style of plan you are doing. For me, it might be dessert at a restaurant but share it or take some to go. You don’t have to give up on something good like Tiramisu, which I love, but perhaps just a little bit is enough to satisfy whatever urge you might have and still not be a detriment to your progress.

The mind first, then the body. That is what is important. If you cannot get your mind to accept that there needs to be a change, you will never stick to a plan. You cannot trick yourself, you cannot cheat yourself and you cannot beat something you don’t believe in beating.

Keep going. It will work.

Monday, November 15, 2010

November 15, 1944

There should be an email saying Happy Birthday. There should be an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. There should be a brand new tea cup or some gadget she would love. There should be a card signed from a little girl. There should be a dinner at Persichetti’s or the Olive Garden. There should be a lot of things, other than sadness.

I’ve avoided talking about what happened back in April because it’s still rough. I’m having difficulty sketching out this post just because of the lump in my throat. But, it’s time.

On April 11, 2010 my wife’s mother died. She lived life the way most of us wish we had. She didn’t go jumping out of planes or pushing the speedometer to 106 mph just to feel the rush of flying on the highways. But, she lived life without fear. Fear of what another person might think about her clothes or opinions never entered her mind. When you get a 12 year extension on a death sentence you stop sweating the small stuff.

I first met my future mother-in-law on November 8th, 1998. That weekend had been the first official date I had been on with her daughter, my future wife. It was the kind of date that makes you wonder why she called me the next day. After all, I totally embarrassed her at the movie theater, laughing and literally slapping my knee at the comedy of The Waterboy. The fact that her daughter had punched me in the leg as I dropped her off was probably my only saving grace. She must have felt bad and called me up, asking me over. I didn’t know I would be having dinner with her parents as well. After all, I had never met them and was totally unprepared.

I remember meeting this little white haired lady with these bright red rimmed glasses. She had this spiky hair and round face, full of rosy cheeks. My first initial thoughts was that she was the offspring of Elton John and Sally Jessie Raphael, if that were possible. She puttered around the kitchen getting dinner ready while I took on the task of dealing with the aspect of meeting my future father-in-law. “Now, he’s probably going to want to show you his guns. It’s a scare tactic. He’s a farm boy.” My wife informed me before descending into the finished basement of her house, decked out with a living room, game room and full kitchen. Being the smart ass that I was, I needed to break the ice and diffuse any tensions that might take hold of my first official meeting with the parents. After introducing myself to her father, I took the initiative to say, “So, I hear you’d like to show me your guns.” The laughter alone made me feel 100% safer and dinner was a breeze.

As we became closer, I felt as if her parents were an extension of my own family, years before I had even asked my wife to marry me. That was five years later. But, over that time, I learned a lot about my future in-laws, including my wife’s mother.

I almost didn’t get to meet her. Just that last year she was fighting for her life. She was diagnosed with stage IV renal cell carcinoma. That would have been a death sentence for nearly everyone. Her only saving grace was that she had been giving that diagnosis while already opened up on the table. The doctors knew there was a tumor, but they had no idea what else was there. They proceeded and she was put into a study where a high dosage of a drug was given to her. She was literally taken to death’s door with her immune system, only to ring the bell and run away. She came back from the brink and you could never tell she had been sick.

I got my first real glimpse of the real character my mother-in-law was that first Christmas. The whole house decorated as if the North Pole exploded in their home. It was amazing. She would literally take off most of the month of December to enjoy the holidays and enjoy them she did. The day after Thanksgiving her husband would go to hunting camp for the next week while she’d decorate. I could only imagine the electric bill. Scattered around the house were reindeer, snowmen, elves, animatronic Mr. and Mrs. Claus, wreaths, bows, and the lights, oh the lights. It was like a shopping mall with no stores.

Come Christmas Eve, they would throw out a spread that would make you want to take a long winter’s nap. She took such great pride in presentation and everyone took home a party favor. She reminded you if you didn’t, too. Along with the food was a sing along of Christmas Carols. She loved a good party and loved the holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas.

Oh, we had our differences. There’s no doubt. But it was never anything that didn't get resolved quickly.  We'd argue over stupid things and sometimes I felt she but into stuff that didn't need adressed.    In fact, at first she even told my wife not to hang her hopes on me. “He’s not going to stick around. He wants to go to California.” Had I actually done that, I would have went alone. After the cancer in 97, there’s no way my wife would have moved away from her parents. We all try to deny the existence of our own mortality, as well as the mortality of our parents, but after going through what this family went through, my wife wanted every minute with her. But, I didn’t quite understand it. I couldn’t. My family was always there. It never mattered how far away I moved or how long it was between phone calls or visits. I accepted that my parents would be there when I did call. I took them for granted. But, I never took offense to the statement about the longevity of our relationship.  It probably made me a more mature person.

I stayed and I became a part of that family. My wife would tell you that her parents loved me more than they loved her.  I just think it was different.  We got along on a different level.  I understood her.  Of course, it was always easier buying her mom Christmas presents. I could spot a good gadget or tea cup that she would love. I mean, how many grandmothers did you know nearing retirement age that had a Sirius satellite radio in their car along with a docking station for her iPod? She loved little things that lit up or whirred. A Dollar Store pen that lit up and had a Santa or Black Cat on it tickled the hell out of her. She would go shopping for Christmas all year long and each Christmas morning the house was wall to wall, floor to ceiling presents. They could be little things that she picked up along the way or they could be the big purchases. She never disappointed.

Neither did the cancer. It put up a good fight. In 2006, she had to have more surgery and this was the one we thought was going to get her. She lost her spleen and some of her pancreas. She spent a week in recovery alone, though that was because of a administrative snafu. Still, I had confidence that she would be back. She didn’t disappoint me. She was now my mom, too. I was damned if I was ready to let her go. She just looked death in the eye, flipped him the bird, and told him to, “Eff off!”

Even after that bout, she never seemed to slow down. She could out and beat the best of the holiday shoppers. You could just see her shuffling around the mall with those dangly snowflake earrings, snapping her gum in frequent crackles. She’d come home with a sleigh full of purchases to wrap later, on the pool table. She’d fire up the Christmas music or put and put on a pot of tea.

She always tried new things, no matter what the consequences. She loved her cooking shows and would often make us guinea pigs to her culinary whims. It’s sad that I know who Paula Deen and Sandra Lee are. I could sit there and watch them with her simply because she enjoyed them.

She loved musicals, too. If it wasn’t Christmas music she would be enjoying a good soundtrack like the one from Chicago. I remember taking her to see the Phantom of the Opera when it came out a few years ago in movie theaters. Her taste in movies was a lot like mine, including taking her to see a James Bond movie, much to my wife’s chagrin.

And she was a good Grammy. I say that, not taking anything away from my own mother, but my mother-in-law had a style all her own. My daughter loved her and loved having her babysit her while my wife and I were at work. I had always hoped that she could retire exactly when she wanted to but unfortunately, after 15 years as in HR, her job was terminated due to redundancy. Also, the cancer had come back.

This was a new one. We had all gotten over having the stomach flu in February of 2009 and something about my mother-in-law seemed off. She would have trouble remembering things and would fight to find the right words. My wife knew something was up and told her to get checked out. She left work one day to go get a scan. Now, she had been through countless scans over the years because of her history, but not once had they thought to check her brain. There it was, a tumor, pressing on her brain, causing the confusion. It led her to stop the car at mailboxes and run through red lights. The doctor called before she had even got back to work, telling her to get to the ER in Shadyside. It wasn’t good. She called me and told me to pick her up and bring her straight to the house, so that her husband could take her while I made plans to get my wife and break the bad news.

The tumor was there and then it wasn’t. The week after St. Patrick’s Day, my mother-in-law went in for brain surgery and three days later, she was home. Afterwards, you couldn’t have known she even had a tumor. It was a piece of cake and she was home free, or so we thought.

Nearly ten years had gone by from the initial diagnosis to the second surgery in 2006. Now, it was just three years later for brain surgery. My wife was worried that her mom was running out of house money to play with at the table. Her mom had never seen the ocean and she’d make sure she’d see that. It wasn’t so much a bucket list for her mom, but for her. As we sat in the waiting room after surgery, we flipped through vacation guides. We didn’t know another obstacle would present itself before June.

Mother’s Day was spent in Shadyside hospital. My mother-in-law was riddled with pulmonary emboli. She had to be put on a high dose of blood thinner and we feared she wouldn’t be able to make the nearly 12 hour trek to the beach. We also found out that she had developed another tumor, in her only remaining ovary. But, since she was going to have to wait for a few weeks to have surgery, thanks to the clots, we decided that she should just go to the beach anyway, and we did.

I remember seeing her propped up in the back of the van, keeping her legs elevated. We’d make frequent stops for her to get up and move around. I wasn’t sure she was so keen on the logistics of planning and executing a trip like that. Yet, once she got there, she enjoyed the hell out of it. Vacationing in a nice big house, seeing the ocean for the first time, sleeping in, she loved it. Our last night there, after the car was packed and the house was checked, we noticed some leftover frozen custard that was just going to be tossed. So, the fondest memory I have of that trip was sitting in the kitchen, finishing off the last of the frozen custard with my mother-in-law. I asked her what she thought about this whole thing. She couldn’t understand why people went through all this trouble to go to the beach. The sand gets in everything. You deprive yourself of sleep. You fight over stupid things like maps and exits and directions. Then, I asked her if she would do it again, perhaps next year. She said she would. With that, we ate the last bites and called it a night.

Surgery to remove the tumor went like clockwork, like it always did. However, there was a new wrinkle. Her abdominal fluid showed signs of cells. It was determined that this was not renal cell cancer but ovarian. She would have to endure chemo. She went for six treatments over the next 18 weeks. The time over the year she should have enjoyed the most was nearly negated with vomiting and exhaustion and the loss of that spiky white hair. She began wearing a wig because she refused to not go out and do things, but the vibrancy that she had with walking around a mall or driving in her little car was diminished. She got tired more easily. She started to feel like fighting was pointless. She was tired. No more surgeries she said. I’m done.

Apparently, she wasn’t, just yet. 2009 was about as bad a year as you could tolerate. Brain surgery, pulmonary emboli, ovarian cancer and chemo would disgust anyone from wanting to see another year of the same. However, in March, after a full work up and scans, she was given a green light. She was, for all intents and purposes, cancer free. Another deal, another set of cards, and house money back on the table. We began planning another trip to the beach and there was general enthusiasm from her about going. We were looking to put the previous year behind us.

We had a lovely Easter dinner and enjoyed company. Then she started getting a headache. Now, this was a woman who could tolerate pain. On a scale of one to ten, it would have to be somewhere near 20 for her to complain but this was different. She went most of the week after Easter with the headache and finally went to see a doctor. They didn’t feel worried and sent her home. On Friday, April 9th, she enjoyed Chinese dinner at our usual restaurant and felt better. On Saturday, it was almost unbearable. My wife took her to the hospital. She said the pain was if someone had hit her in the back of the head with a baseball bat. She was totally cognizant at the hospital and rattling off all the medical information she had always had to recite when she went anywhere like that. Soon, everything worsened and they decided to life flight her to Pittsburgh. She went into a coma and they nearly lost her on the way.

This woman who had beaten cancer for 12 years. This woman who loved Christmas. This woman who loved her family and life with such a fervor was now gone. She was alive, but nowhere to be found inside. From what we can tell, she had an aneurysm. Her brain bled, filling up her skull, causing the flow of oxygen to cease. She could not breathe on her own and she would not wake up. They tried to remove the swelling, hoping to alleviate the pressure and give her a chance. It wasn’t enough, or it was too late. In any case, she was alive because she was on life support, until we said otherwise.

To actually hold the fate of someone in her hands, to make that decision is not something I would wish on anyone. I wanted her to fight. I wanted her to come back. She always had before. But not this time. We gave it the night and on Sunday, April 11th, we had to chose. There was no chance she would ever regain consciousness and even if she had, she would never be the same person we knew. I knew she would never accept that quality of life, not in a million years, but I didn’t want to accept the finality of it all.

On the way to the hospital, we had to explain the situation to our daughter. She was too smart to dumb down the issue and we didn’t want to use an analogy that would confuse or scare her about what was about to happen. We simply told her what happened and what was going to happen. My wife told her we were saying goodbye to grammy and that she was going to live with Jesus. My daughter asked if Jesus was a nice man. My wife said that he was and that he was the nicest man you would ever meet. My daughter said, point blank, “Well, good. Because I would kick him in the balls if he wasn’t.” You can only imagine the simultaneous laughing and crying that went on in that car. Somewhere, in the aether, I imagine a snort and a cackle, along with the snapping of gum.

We still went to the beach this year.  It wasn't the best trip we have ever had, because we were missing someone.  She would have enjoyed the trip, it was much smoother this year.  She would have loved seeing the wild horses.  She would have loved the house we had this year, with a great view of the sound.  She would have enjoyed the dinner we had at Captain George's.  She would have loved seeing her family having fun.   She would have loved to see alot of things.  She would have loved to see her youngest granddaughter's first day of school and first peanut butter paint job on our living room.  She would have loved to see her new kitties growing up fat and sassy, just like she would have wanted.  Still, she got to 12 years she would have never had and in that time she got to see one daughter graduate college, both daughters get married, another grandchild be born, the beach and twelve more years of Easter and Fourth of July and Halloween and Christmas.  She got to see her husband learn how to play bass and play in a band.   And now, you could say, she sees everything with a great vantage point.

It’s been seven months since that day and every day a new challenge faces us. How do we cook that? How do I fix that? What does this benefits packet all mean? The things we would always ask her are discoveries we would have to make on our own. Still we laugh and still we cry over the memories. Still, my daughter says she misses grammy and wishes she could be here. Still, I do, too.

Today is her birthday. She would have been 66 years old. She would have outlived us all if she could. With all her maladies and missing parts, she could have run circles around me. And regardless of how bad it gets, I plan on making sure this holiday is as magical as any, for her sake. I want the party and I want the glitz. It’s not to take the place of what she did, but to honor it. She loved a good party and that’s what life is, a party.

Eat, drink, and be merry.

Don’t forget to take your favor.

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