2019

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There are 23 days remaining in 2018, as of the time I write this blog entry.

I want to address my New Year’s Resolutions, and what I hope will be a personal New Year’s Revolution. While 2018 was a good year in many ways, and one of the best I have had in many years, it still came up well short in a number of areas. The way I figure it, 2018 was for licking the wounds of years’ past. In 2019, it’s time for me to take a big step forward.

Here are some of the basic changes I want to make for 2019 and beyond:

I. Get my body back in working order

I know that it’s a common practice for people to plan to get themselves into better shape when each new year rolls around. In my case, it’s more a matter of survival. I’m 41 years old and I’m around 60 pounds overweight, maybe as much as 80 pounds. I certainly can’t continue on the path I am on. Most of this weight is due to seven years of overeating due to an insane amount of stress and unhappiness that I didn’t have enough sense to walk away from. In December 2017, that became a moot point, and I was free of the chains that bound me. Now, I have a chance to right that wrong and put my overweight, broken-down body back together.

II. Get my mind back in working order

This could easily cover two resolutions. First, I want to do what I should have done in 2018 but didn’t due to the fact that I didn’t know what was happening in my life for the first several months of the year. I was going through a period of trying to “re-establish” myself, so to speak, trying to put my life back together after seven years of abject misery. Rebuilding friendships that had been lost during that time, and gaining new friends. But I didn’t take enough time for myself, as I tried to navigate through a world I was unfamiliar with after being basically a “hostage” from late 2010 through late 2017. I had a hard time getting my “sea legs” under me.

Second, I want to start learning again. The only lesson I learned during the “Dark Ages” (2010 to 2017) is that being around the wrong people really can cause a legitimate level of brain rot. I didn’t pursue my passions because they were frowned upon by people who opinions should have never mattered because they weren’t worth anything to me anyway.

I have a thirst for knowledge, and in 2018 I started studying some of my favorite subjects again, from mathematics to physics to anthropology to engineering to astronomy. I want to expand that exponentially in 2019, and soak up as much knowledge as my brain will hold.

III. Learn to leave the past in the past, and concentrate on the future

This is a BIG one, and I’m not just talking about the unhappy parts of my life, either, few as they may be. One of my problems is that I spent way too much time sitting around reminiscing about 1982 or 1995 or 2002 or 2010 instead of focusing on the time at hand. This is a mistake I have made all my life. I long for happier days, instead of making the present day happier. In high school I longed for my childhood. In the early 2000s I longed for my high school days. In the late 2000s I was yearning for the early 2000s. In the Dark Ages I was dreaming about any time that wasn’t then. To this day, I still find myself reminiscing about happier times.

I also spend too much time lamenting the evils that were done to me, and the unhappy days (especially the past half-dozen years). Those times are over, and beating myself up over not making changes before they were thrust on me doesn’t make it any better or change anything in any way. Life has gone on. I have to leave the good and the bad behind me.

This has lead to some painful moments. When I lost my son, I found I couldn’t do ANYTHING that we used to do together, I couldn’t watch any of the shows we watched together or play any of the games. Therefore, I had to get rid of my entire Ghostbusters and DC Comics collections, because it was just to painful to have to look at them anymore. So I replaced them. Where my DC Comics shows and games used to sit, I now have a Star Trek collection that I am extremely proud of. Where my Ghostbusters games and shows and movies were once stored, I have filled that section of my media collection with some of my all-time favorite Westerns.

IV. Clean up the trash in my life and put it where it belongs

I took great pains in 2018 to remove any mention of certain people from my social networking, as well as deleting and/or burning pictures, text messages, emails, etc. While I haven’t been 100% successful, it’s an ongoing process and will eventually be completed. As I have brought new friends into my circle, I realized that not all of them are on an acceptable level, and some cleaning will need to be done. Two years ago, at this time, I had 162 Facebook friends and around 200 Twitter followers and I didn’t even have an Instagram account. As of now, I have over 1,100 Facebook friends, nearly 1,300 Twitter and 600 Instagram followers.

While I managed to clean out the gutter trash, there is still some sidewalk trash that needs to be swept up and thrown away. I have an excellent and well-earned reputation and I intend on keeping it, which means eliminating the riffraff from my life. Permanently.

V. Try to forgive, but never forget

This will be the most difficult resolution, because I have to train my mind to forget, and anyone who knows me well knows I have a mind like a steel trap, once something goes in, it doesn’t come out. I absolutely HAVE to let go of the anger and hatred I have toward my son’s worthless, ugly, gutter-trash, hood rat of a mother and his equally-worthless, lying, gutter-trash half-sister. As much as hatred fuels my very existence, I cannot continue to live on hate for the rest of my life. I have to let it go, and put it in the hands of the Almighty, as Romans 12:19 says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but give place unto wrath; for it is written: Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.” I have complete and total faith that justice will be served.

But to forget is another issue entirely. I will never, NEVER, forget. Ever.

VI. The UCLA Conundrum

This will make no sense to anyone who reads this without some explanation.

And frankly, I don’t want to dive too deeply into it. I’ll simply say this: In 2019, I want to make a decision once and for all as to whether I am going to get NCAA Football 14, NCAA Basketball 10 and MVP NCAA Baseball 07 out of my attic and play a full career as a three sport student-athlete at UCLA. This project has been done twice before, once in the late 1990s and once in 2004. I have wanted to do it again in the 14 years since, but have never had a better opportunity.

The problem lies in the fact that I’m 41 years old and I haven’t watched a single college sporting event since the West Virginia vs. Marshall football game in 2012. I’m not only out of the loop, I’m not even in the same area code. And I don’t know if the desire is even still there. It may be time to put my UCLA project out to pasture. I’ll know better around April of 2019, because if I do decide to go through with the project one last time, I’ll want to start in August 2019.

VII. Decide once and for all if I want to be a single man for life

I have debated with myself on every side of this issue. Yes, I want to get married and have a family. I think. The fact remains the best thing that ever happened to me is the fact that I have never been married, because if any of the three options I have had in my life to get married had ever come to pass, I would have put a rope around my neck a long time ago.

My marriage options over the past 15 years have consisted of an ungodly ugly woman who lived 3 ½ hours away from me and used to email engagement ring photos to me (there was a 0% chance of that happening), followed by a morbidly obese, hateful, old woman who is in her 50s today (there was a 0% chance of that happening), followed by an ugly, worthless skank who pushed marriage to the breaking point (there was a 0% chance of that happening).

So, my experiences with marriage are not good. Luckily I’ve never been married.

Do I want to? Or do I want to just continue as a happily single man? I don’t know.

But as 2019 progresses, I intend to find out. And I mean that, once and for all.

VIII. Maintain this list, not just for 2019, but for the rest of my life

I don’t want to sit down here one year from now and have to think about the same things I’m thinking about now. I want to be past that. Once I have climbed the mountains before me, I want to move on to other mountains and climb those as well. And more after that.

I wouldn’t trade my life to anyone for anything. I would change a few things if I could (i.e. I would have my son and have no memory of his mother and I would be 80 pounds lighter and a lot more sure of myself) but I’ll take what I have been blessed with. I just want to take better advantage of the gifts I was born with. I will not deal in the slums anymore. I will not waste my days reminiscing or lamenting about past happenings. I’ll make the most of what I have.

IX. Get back into video gaming again

I haven’t gamed regularly in years. In my younger days, I played daily, whether it was Tecmo Super Bowl or Super Mario Bros. 3 or something entirely different. I have neglected my gaming over the past decade or so. I had made a good turnaround after buying my son a PlayStation 4 and several games he enjoyed for his PlayStation 3, including Ghostbusters and Batman/DC Comics games. Now I want to get back into retro gaming. I have a Retron 5 console that plays NES, Super NES, Sega Genesis, Nintendo Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance games. I also still enjoy titles from all four PlayStation consoles, and I have a backward-compatible PlayStation 3 that plays PSOne, PS2 and PS3 titles. And a PS4.

I purchased a number of well-known Western games, from The Lone Ranger for the NES to Gun for the PS2, Call Of Juarez for the PS3 and the entire Red Dead series. I also bought as many Star Trek titles as I could find, from the NES to the PlayStation 3. And, of course, I used to make a habit of playing Grand Theft Auto III every October/November years ago.

In closing, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read and know that I am absolutely convinced that 2019 will be the best year of my life, so far. There will be good times upcoming, and there will be bad times, but as long as the good outnumber the bad, I’ll not complain. My life as a whole has been far, far more good than bad. The last decade? Not so much. But I will do whatever it takes to make 2019 the most successful year of this millennium for me.

Peace.

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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.

This Has Been A Great Year

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Over the past few weeks I have read a lot of posts online from people complaining about what an awful year 2018 has been. That lead me to write this, because I can honestly say this has been the best year I have had since 2010 and one of the top three years I have had in the past 15 years.

I’m not saying 2018 has been perfect, by any stretch. January was somewhat disastrous for me but it was also a cleansing moment. I lost my son for the time being but I also eliminated a lot of negatives from my life. I started being able to sleep again, and I was excited for baseball even though I knew the Chicago White Sox were looking at a long season of losing. By the time Spring Training rolled around I was starting to really feel like my life was on the upswing. And after the previous seven years, I was definitely ready for it.

For the first time in my life, I managed to watch every Chicago White Sox game this year. All 162 regular season games and every Spring Training game that was telecast. My only regret is not playing more MLB The Show on the PS4, but hopefully 2019 will be the year I can remedy that.

I was able to reunite with a large number of friends I had not been allowed to talk to in a number of years and met a ton of new friends. I am thankful for all of them. They helped make this year extra special for me.

There were setbacks, including my severely sprained ankle, the fact that I didn’t get into better shape but I am still down 20 pounds from where I was in January. I met a few people I would have been better off not knowing but I can’t complain about those little life lessons we all need to be taught. And it had been a long time since I had an extended run as a single man. The world has changed a lot in the past seven or eight years.

I am ready to take the next step in my life. I am going to begin taking online classes in physics, engineering and mathematics, which I wish I had done 20 years ago but I spent too many years not using the intellectual gifts God had bestowed upon me. Instead of learning and doing the best for myself, I flat-lined and spent my time with people who were not only not on my level intellectually but I lowered myself to that level as well.

I had planned to do my Alfred Hitchcock reviewing project this year but I’m going to put that off to next winter, I want to focus on my online classes and finally watching the complete original Star Trek series this winter. I started on it last year and watched the entire first season and massively enjoyed it, and I still have two seasons to go, as well as the original motion pictures and the animated series as well. I can’t wait.

Most importantly, it’s time to take this broken-down, past-it’s-prime body and turn it into the body I had when I was 22 years old. And there is no reason I can’t, the only thing standing in my way right now is me.

One of my few regrets in 2018 was not getting back into my cigar hobby early enough, I pissed away months that I could have spent enjoying cigars before I bought a new humidor and restocked it. But, now they have months to season and should be ready to smoke next spring. I can’t wait.

As good as 2018 was, and it was great, I think 2019 could be the best I’ve ever had. While my Amazon store is doing the best business it’s ever done in the eight years I have had it, I want to expand it and make it even better. I would also like to get a new job in addition to my Amazon store. I would love to have as much to do as possible to keep me busy in 2019.

I also want to start attending Minor League baseball games again in 2019. That has been one of the highlights of my past summers and it’s time to do it again. I needed the year away to kind of cleanse the memories of the past but now that the slate is clean, I will enjoy getting back into it again.

Life is what you make it. I did a damn good job making 2018 one of the best years I have had in a decade and a half. Here’s to a better 2019.

“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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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.