Today I’m Thankful For…

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I would like to touch on a few of the things I am truly thankful for on this blessed day.

I. My Health. At this time one year ago, I truly had one foot in the grave. Between heart problems, stomach ulcers, migraine headaches and the abundance of other problems that were eating me alive due to stress, I couldn’t believe I was going to live to see the end of 2017. My son was the only thing keeping me going, the only thing in my life that really mattered to me at all. A year later I am truly on the road to recovery. I have a long way to go, but the majority of my problems have been overcome, once the issues that were causing me so much stress were eliminated. While I still deal daily with stress, as everyone does, my stress level now has lowered so much it’s barely a blip on the stress radar.

II. My Friends And Family. I often say I owe my friends a debt of gratitude I can never repay, and that is so true. So many that I was not “allowed” to remain in contact with over the years that I have been able to reconcile with, you helped to fill the hole in my soul this year. I cannot stress enough how much all of you truly mean to me.

III. Technology. This has been the greatest tech year of my life. I upgraded my cell phone, I got a new 4K Smart TV, upgraded the RAM in my PC, bought two new stereo systems, two Amazon Fire Sticks and upgraded my video game collection. I often sit an reminisce about my younger days, without thinking about the fact that I have everything I had in my younger days, and I have it at my fingertips anytime I want it. As a young lad I loved watching The Dukes Of Hazzard but I could only watch it on Friday night’s, when it was on the air. Now I can put in a DVD or turn on Amazon Prime video and watch it anytime I want to. And that goes for anything else I want to watch. What a time to be alive.

IV. My Mind. No one has ever accused me of not being intelligent, in spite of the large number of stupid decisions I have made in my life. One of those decisions was to allow my brain to stagnate for the past 10 or 12 years. Not only was I not learning, I was dumbing myself down by being around too many people who lacked not only a higher level of intelligence but, in some cases, even basic intelligence. That’s a bad place for an intellectual mind. Now I’m able to learn again and I’m taking full advantage of it. Physics. Engineering. Mathematics. History. Social Sciences. Chemistry. Paleontology.

V. My Life. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything or anyone. If I could just rewrite my life from 2006 to 2017 (with the exception of every second spent with my son) and make a few more intelligent decisions in my teenage years and I would call my life “perfect.” While I can’t change the past, the future is mine for the taking and brother, I’m taking. I’m living for me, doing what I want, when I want and how I want. Thankfully.

Thank you for reading, God bless and Happy Thanksgiving.

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Random Thoughts…

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Random Thoughts

  • I am in the midst of a mid-life crisis. I spend every day in a mild state of depression as I look at myself and wonder what I did with the past 41 years. With the exception of baseball, I have basically failed to pursue any of my intellectual passions. My love for history (both world and American) are well known, as are my love of science (especially physics and paleontology) and politics and mathematics. Now, suddenly, my mind has become a sponge and my thirst for knowledge is unquenchable. I study all I can, all the time. I even listen to YouTube programs about physics before I go to sleep. Why didn’t I have this desire 25 years ago?

  • I am finally learning that it doesn’t pay to carry a grudge, no matter what has been done to you. Not only because I saw what happens to other people who have been wronged as they make complete asses of themselves on social media and that is the only recourse they are getting, but because I know now that carrying a grudge is a one-sided situation, because the person you carry a grudge against may not care at all. Especially when the person in question is a psychopath.

  • In a previous post, I mentioned that I was going to start watching every existing Alfred Hitchcock-directed film (I have all of them in my DVD collection) and I have yet to start on that due to my horrible time-management abilities and lack of focus. So I am trying very hard to get that started this week.

  • I also need to take better care of myself physically. Between 2010 and 2017 I fell apart both mentally and physically and now that I am completely on the other side of that mentally, and have wiped my ass of it permanently, it’s time to fully put my body back together. I know I’ll never be as fit as I was at 22, but that’s my goal. I can’t believe I even made it to 41 years of age, to be honest. From the time I was 15 I always said I would never make it to 40. I never knew at 40 ½ I would be reborn and have to basically start over, but here I am, ready to go.

  • Finally, I am thinking about getting a new job. I have been self-employed for the past 11 months and while I enjoy it and I am financially secure, I am also bored out of my mind and couldn’t imagine spending another 20 or 30 or 50 years like this. Or, maybe I’ll just take this opportunity to start taking some classes in some of my preferred subjects that were neglected for so many years.

Top 5: My Favorite Everything… Revised

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This entry is a revised version of a previous entry, from January 2018. This was just for fun, to see how many things had changed in the ten months since the original entry. New additions to the list will be marked with a (*). Enjoy.

FAVORITE MOVIES
Back To The Future
Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Return Of The Jedi *
First Blood
The Lady Vanishes *

FAVORITE BOOKS
The Art Of The Deal
The Catcher In The Rye
The Autobiography Of Benjamin Franklin *
Moneyball
Think Big And Kick Ass *

FAVORITE COLORS
Black
Blue
Silver
White
Gray

FAVORITE ACTORS
John Wayne
Brad Pitt
Harrison Ford
Joseph Cotten
Gene Wilder

FAVORITE ACTRESSES
Sharon Stone
Uma Thurman
Julie Newmar
Kim Novak
Grace Kelly

FAVORITE SUPERHEROES
Batman
Superman
Captain America
Spider-Man
Wonder Woman

FAVORITE VILLAINS
The Joker
The Red Skull
Lex Luthor
The Penguin
Mandarin

FAVORITE FRUIT
Pineapple
Apple
Banana
Grape
Watermelon

FAVORITE VEGETABLE
Corn
Potatoes
Green Peppers
Tomatoes
Hot Peppers

FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVORS
Rocky Road
Chocolate
Neapolitan
French Vanilla
Coffee

FAVORITE MOVIE CHARACTERS
John Rambo (First Blood)
Sam McCord (North To Alaska)
Marty McFly (Back To The Future)
Catherine Tramell (Basic Instinct…  Hey, that’s what got me through puberty)
Han Solo (Star Wars series) *

FAVORITE TV CHARACTERS
Jack Tripper (Three’s Company)
Perry Mason
The Lone Ranger *
Paladin (Have Gun – Will Travel)
SpongeBob SquarePants *

FAVORITE TV SHOWS
Mystery Science Theater 3000 *
Alfred Hitchcock Presents *
Three’s Company
The Lone Ranger
Perry Mason

FAVORITE CANDY
M&Ms
Whatchamacallit
Snickers
Rolo
Hershey With Almonds

FAVORITE RESTAURANTS
Longhorn Steakhouse
Denny’s
Chili’s
McDonald’s
Burger King *

FAVORITE MUSICAL ARTISTS
AC/DC
Megadeth
Hank Williams, Sr.
The Beatles
Judas Priest *

FAVORITE WEBSITES
Facebook
iFunny
YouTube
Wikipedia
Amazon *

FAVORITE SONGS
“Sin City” by AC/DC *
“I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles *
“Angry Again” by Megadeth
“How About That” by Bad Company *
“Hysteria” by Def Leppard *

FAVORITE VIDEO GAMES
MLB The Show
Batman Arkham series
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES trilogy *
Super Mario Kart *
Grand Theft Auto III *

FAVORITE BOARD GAMES
Monopoly
Life
Chess
Scrabble
Yahtzee (which doesn’t technically have a “board” but it makes the list anyway)

FAVORITE SPORTS
Major League Baseball
Minor League Baseball
NCAA Baseball

FAVORITE BASEBALL PLAYERS (ALL-TIME)
Frank Thomas
Bo Jackson
Jose Abreu
Pete Rose *
Mickey Mantle *

FAVORITE YEARS OF YOUR LIFE
2010
1995
1987
2018 *
1998

FAVORITE SUBJECTS FROM HIGH SCHOOL AND/OR COLLEGE
History (high school)
Journalism (high school)
Criminal Law (college)
Business Law (college)
American Civics (high school)

FAVORITE CITIES
Chicago
Los Angeles
Phoenix
Las Vegas
Pittsburgh

FAVORITE BEVERAGES
Coca-Cola
Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
Folgers Black Silk coffee
Ocean Spray Cran-Grape Juice

FAVORITE CEREAL
Apple Jacks
Cap’n Crunch
Frosted Flakes *
Cocoa Pebbles
Quaker Old Fashioned Oats *

FAVORITE CARTOONS
Looney Tunes
South Park
Beavis and Butt-Head
SpongeBob SquarePants *
Scooby Doo, Where Are You?

Peace.

“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” – Alfred Hitchcock

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Those that have known me for any appreciable length of time know that I have been a fan of the works of Alfred Hitchcock for nearly 30 years. I was first introduced to him via Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes in the fall of 1991, when my mom invited me to watch an episode and I was instantly hooked. In the years since, I have acquired nearly never episode of that program plus all of his surviving feature films.

I actually began taping Alfred Hitchcock Presents the year I discovered it, on VHS tapes, as they aired on Nick At Nite. In 1998, I re-recorded every episode that was shown on TV Land. Finally, when the program was released on DVD, I was quick to purchase every season that’s been released. I am still waiting for the release of the final season. I’m not sure why every other season was rushed to release except that one.

As for his feature films, AMC ran a marathon in 1999, the 100th anniversary of Hitchcock’s birth, and I filled as many VHS tapes as I could with those films. The ones that weren’t shown, I would try to find at my local movie and music stores.

Then, in 2010, I purchased three studio-release boxed sets, as well as a $5 Walmart boxed set that featured mostly silent films from the 1920s. The few films that were not included in any of these sets, I purchased on individual DVDs.

I have 54 feature films and 229 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in my collection. I plan to watch ALL of them over the next five months or so. While I have, more than likely, watched every episode of the TV program over the years, there are still 10 or 12 feature films I have not seen, even though they have been in my collection for a number of years. This has been a dream of mine for some time. Now it will happen.

In addition to watching, I also am planning to rate each film and TV episode through my IMDb account. I have done this previously with the 1950s TV series State Trooper and with the first two seasons of the original Star Trek series. I think it will be fun to look back on that as the years go by and especially when I watch a film over again.

This little project has literally been something I have been desirous of doing since at least 2005. I knew it would be a winter project, since my summer nights are taken by Chicago White Sox baseball games. I also knew it needed to be done at a time when I would have absolutely no outside distractions on a nightly basis.

My current thought process says I would like to watch three films per week, which will take 18 weeks if all goes as planned. I would also like to watch roughly 10 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents per week, which would take roughly five months, and I would finish up right in time for MLB Spring Training in 2019. I do worry about burnout, though a few years ago I watched every episode of The Lone Ranger during the winter months, 221 complete, and never suffered burnout. And could have watched more.

I have printed out the title of all 54 feature films and will be cutting them out and putting them in an old cigar box and will draw a film out and watch, that way I’m leaving which films I’ll be watching completely to chance. I don’t want to just jump in watching my favorites (i.e. The Lady Vanishes, Rebecca and Psycho) all at once.

Oddly enough, the oldest surviving Hitchcock film, titled The Pleasure Garden, is one of the few I have not seen before. It was not included in any of the boxed sets. Released in 1925, I was able to secure a DVD copy from Amazon at a reasonable price. Apparently, it is now out of print because it is no longer available on Amazon or eBay.

I am looking forward to this project. It is many years in the making.

Below is my collection.

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Single. Staying That Way. No, You Cannot Change My Mind. End Of Discussion.

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Recently, I announced my decision to take myself off the dating grid for at least a year. I was at the breaking point trying to explain to women that I am in no position mentally to be involved in a relationship at this time, or to date anyone exclusively, or even once, for that matter. The past has not been kind to me and I needed time to lick my wounds and let them heal before I even considered trying dating or a relationship again.

This decision has been met with ridicule and “threats” of “I’ll be the one that can make you change your mind.” Therefore, I felt a public service announcement was in order, because sometimes you just can’t get through to people by normal means.

First, let me explain what brought me to this point. I recently got out of a situation that was so rancid and repulsive that I sincerely thought it was going to be the death of me. The physical and emotional toll were heavy. I put on 80 pounds through stress eating, my hair was falling out, I was sick all the time due to my immune system not functioning properly due to stress, I had stomach ulcers, I had the shakes, I couldn’t sleep, my eyes were constantly twitching and I was suffering from severe migraine headaches that lasted for hours. All things considered, its a miracle I am alive.

So, to every woman in the world who isn’t married or engaged or spoken for, no, I have no interest in dating you right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re the lowest form of scum or the most beautiful woman in the world. The answer is no. Period.

Part of this stems from the area in which I live. I live in north central West Virginia, and its just as bad as the national media portrays it. A large percentage of the women here are literally disgusting. I’m talking toothless, cockeyed, covered in meth sores, living in run-down shacks, tripping over rats and carrying who-knows-what kind of STDs.

And most women in this area seem to “recycle” boyfriends, i.e. they make a habit of just trading boyfriends around and infecting each other. That kind of thing makes me sick to even think about and totally turns me off to ever putting my hands on another woman. Thought I would have definitely made an exception for the girl mentioned earlier.

I also refuse to do long-distance relationships because, quite honestly, they’re ridiculous. Why would I want to “date” someone I never see? I’m way too needy for that.

Yes, I have myself in kind of a catch-22 here. I don’t want to date any local trash but I also don’t want to date anyone who isn’t local. Do you see the pattern here?

I don’t want to date.

I want to spend the rest of my summer enjoying myself. Watching baseball. Working. Smoking the finest cigars. Going for drives. Upgrading my office and doing work on my PC and my gaming systems. Working on my baseball card collection. As well as things that are a little more simple, like I want to spend some time not being miserable.

During the month that I was talking to the flake who ghosted me, I legitimately thought I might be able to be happy again with a significant other. I’m not sure how that happened, or why I would have thought something so ridiculous at that point. But now that I know better, I know better than to let chance have the opportunity to do it to me again.

Everyone should make themselves happy before they even consider making anyone else happy. I know at this point that I have been so disconnected from myself for so many years that I just need some time to get used to being myself again. Doing the things I have always loved but couldn’t do. Just being me and not having to do for anyone else.

Now, I need to say, this is not about selfishness. I think that down the road I’ll be a better man than the man I am now and that will, in turn, be better for whomever I eventually end up with, whether that’s next year or a decade from now. At this point, I’m a broken man and I’m not going to be good for anything to anyone. Who would want that?

In closing, I want to reiterate that no, I will not be changing my mind about this decision and no one on this earth is going to tell me what to do when it comes to my dating and social life. It’s not up for debate. It’s my life and I’ll do with it what I want. No one is going to change my mind or make me alter my plans. Only death can do that at this point.

Thank you for reading and God bless.

The Best Years Of My Life: A Retrospective

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As I reach what could be considered my “mid-life” point (40), I have been taking stock of my life and doing a lot of reminiscing.  And the more that I think about it, the more I can say, without hesitation, that three years of my life stand out above all others:  1983, 1995 and 2010.  In those years, I turned six, 18 and 33, respectively.

1983

Naturally, 1983 is the most difficult to fully put into perspective, on the basis of the fact that I was six.  But, I can clearly remember some aspects of that year.  I “graduated” from Kindergarten and started first grade.  The most important happening that year took place in the summer, when I discovered He-Man and the Masters Of The Universe.  I saw the cartoon on TV and immediately needed to go to the store to find the action figures, which I saw during commercials.  I can remember this vividly.  Mom and dad took me to a local store and I got the Skeletor figure, though I wanted the He-Man figure, but it was not in stock.  In fact, it would be several months before I finally found a He-Man figure.  But I would spend the following six years as a fan of the franchise, and now I own the entire series on DVD in a limited-edition, numbered boxed set.

I was also a huge fan of The Lone Ranger and The Dukes Of Hazzard.  The Lone Ranger had a momentary resurgence of popularity in the early 1980s due to the release of the film “The Legend Of The Lone Ranger,” released in May, 1981.  The release of the film lead to the old 1950’s TV series seeing air again, as well as the release of an animated series, both of which I remember well.  I can remember going to the store and getting caps for my cap guns and plastic Lone Rangers masks.

The Dukes were another matter entirely.  I was completely obsessed with the Dukes in 1983.  I couldn’t wait for Friday nights.  And then Saturday mornings, when The Dukes, an animated version of the show, was airing.  I had Dukes action figures, posters, cars, play-sets, shirts, pajamas, lunchboxes.  You name it, I had it.

I now own a limited-edition boxed set of The Lone Ranger, which was released in 2013 to coincide with the release of “The Lone Ranger,” a Disney film that was a box office bomb, which lead to the boxed set being pulled from shelves sooner than expected.  I also own the complete Dukes Of Hazzard series, and films, on DVD.

I got my first bike in 1983, for my birthday.  It was, surprisingly enough, a Dukes Of Hazzard bike.  The good news was, I had a new bike.  The bad news was, I had to ride that bike for the next six years, because I didn’t get another bike until I turned 12, and my Dukes bike was so small it barely held me anymore.

I also got my first “personal” TV in 1983.  It was a 13″ color TV with wood-grain housing and no remote, because it had knobs as opposed to buttons.  I got years of usage out of that TV, in fact, I still had it in the late 2000s, when I went HD.

Kindergarten was great, I have nothing but good memories of it.  First grade, not so much but nothing bad.  I would have many betters years in school.

I went on vacation in 1983 with my family and we visited one of mom’s friends who lives in Michigan.  She had the coolest electronic gadget:  A VCR.  I can clearly remember being amazed at the concept of putting a tape in this machine and then watching a movie.  With no commercials and to watch at any time, and stop at any time.  We got home from vacation and went straight to the Magnavox dealer and bought one.

1995

Naturally, what stands out here is high school graduation and starting to college.  I enjoyed high school immensely.  At the time, I was happy in all facets of my life.  And I was looking forward to getting out of high school and moving on.

My home life was great, my love life was great, my academic life was great.  My two obsessions at the time were playing Tecmo Super Bowl on the Nintendo and collecting AC/DC albums on cassette.  I had gotten Tecmo a couple of years previously but my playing really hit its peak in 1995.  I played seven consecutive seasons with the Cleveland Browns, winning three Super Bowls.  And one of my fondest Tecmo memories was an all-night season my friend Joe Nunez and I played, he with the Cleveland Browns and myself with the New Orleans Saints.  We still mention it to this day.

I had been collecting AC/DC albums since 1993 but in 1994 Atlantic Records re-released the band’s first 11 albums, digitally remastered.  So I kind of had to “start over” to an extent.  Then, in September, they released their first new studio album in five years, “Ballbreaker.”  I played the cassette completely out in no time.

One of my favorite memories of 1995 was my TV show collections.  In June, I started taping Three’s Company every day, as two episodes were shown on TBS every morning.  Later that year, in December, I started taping Perry Mason.  I watched those tapes until they were so worn out the sound was pretty much gone and the picture was quite snowy.  I have replaced both with complete series DVD sets over the years.

I was such a fan of these two shows that I wired my TV through my stereo and recorded the soundtrack from episodes of each show onto cassette to listen to in bed or while I was driving.  When I started to college, I would take a cassette with two episodes of Three’s Company on one side and a single episode of Perry Mason on the other.

I LOVED college.  It was the happiest era of my life, bar none.  Life was constantly in motion and I couldn’t wait to get to each and every day.  Couldn’t wait to get up and go to class.  Couldn’t wait for class to be over so I could go home and watch that day’s Three’s Company and Perry Mason episodes.  Couldn’t wait to play Tecmo Super Bowl after dinner.  Couldn’t wait to go to bed and do it all again the next day.

What’s odd is that as soon as 1996 turned over, everything went downhill and 1996 will forever be known as the second-worst year of my life, after 2017.  My girlfriend and I split, my best friend at college just up and quit without a word, my parents lost their jobs when the company they worked for closed the plant they worked at.

But 1995 was absolutely exceptional from the beginning to the end.

2010

Wow.  What can I say about 2010.  I had one obsession in 2010.  Girls.  All girls, all the time.  I had two or three dates every weekend, sometimes two in one night.  At times, it might just be a girl coming over to watch TV.  Sometimes it was a legit dinner-and-a-movie date.  Sometimes it was a straight hook-up.  Sometimes it was a platonic dinner.  Sometimes it was all of the above.  Whatever it was, it was great.

I was made to be single.  This is the life I would choose if I had a choice.  As Benny Hill said, “why make one woman miserable when you can make so many so happy?”  And in 2010, I did my best to make as many women happy as I could.

The only thing that stands out to be in 2010 as far as entertainment goes is that I discovered The Rifleman, and bought a bootleg DVD set on eBay.  And yes, I had a girl over to watch a few episodes of the series after it arrived in the mail.

Speaking of bootleg DVDs, I also found a guy selling a set of Marvel Comics animated shows that were produced in the 1960s, based on the actual comic art.  These programs are well known among Marvel fans but they have never been released on DVD in the United States, though a European release does exist.  So I found a seller who had gotten a hold of the European DVDs and burned them, quite professionally, onto Region 1 DVDs.  We negotiated a price and I was thrilled to get those in my collection.

My average 2010 week was spent at work during weekdays and in the pool every evening, blasting AC/DC and watching the sun set behind the house.  Then on the weekends it was restaurants, movies, shopping and girls, girls, girls.

The only bad thing about 2010 is the way it ended, the last six weeks of the year were nothing like the first 46, which included a broken ankle and several months spent in a walking boot.  But I won’t let that stain the year, overall.

EPILOGUE

I have said on many occasions I would not trade my life for anything or to anyone.  I have had the most enjoyable life, with so few exceptions, and the memories are priceless.  And 1983 (childhood), 1995 (teenage years) and 2010 (adult years) are the pinnacle of each era of my life.  I’m hoping that 2018 will measure up in some way to these three years from my past, and so far, its doing pretty well.

Peace, and God bless.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: My Top Ten Favorite Covers Of All Time

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With the countdown on to the release of the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, which will be released in February, I have decided to do a countdown of my Top Ten favorite SI Swimsuit Issue covers.  Which should warm up a cold January evening.

10.  HAILEY CLAUSON, 2016
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This was one of three available covers in 2016, the other two featuring Ashley Graham and Ronda Rousey, respectively.

9.  KATE UPTON, 2013
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8.  ELLE MACPHERSON, 1988
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7.  IRINA SHAYK, 2011
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6.  KATE UPTON, 2017
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There were three Kate Upton covers in 2017

5.  KATHY IRELAND, 1992
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4.  BAR REFAELI, 2009
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3.  TYRA BANKS, 1997
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2.  KATE UPTON, 2012
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Kate Upton’s first year as cover model.

1.  HANNAH DAVIS, 2015
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Now known as Mrs. Derek Jeter.

The Hannah Davis (Jeter) cover sticks in my mind because, when I got back to the Jeep with it after getting it out of my post office box, I was so flummoxed I couldn’t figure out how to start the Jeep.  Without question, my all-time favorite cover.  No contest.

We now await the 2018 cover, but it will be hard-pressed to compete with this one.

Peace.