What a great weekend!

At least the view was nice from this bridge that cost us $30 to traverse.

I had a fantastic weekend hanging out with my sister. Even though there’s eight years between us, we’ve always been extremely close. Since Dorena and I moved out on our own, our time together has dwindled, and I cherish the chances we have to be alone together.

There’s about four people in my life that I can be completely open and honest with, and there’s Punk, who actually gets the whole story, all of the time. It’s such a special bond, and I truly don’t know what I’d do without her. And most of the time I don’t know what to do with her! Wacka, wacka!

Alright, enough of that sappy shit, let’s get into the weekend recap. Rude Awakening and Domination are fucking incredible bands, and they’re all really great people. Seeing them twice this weekend was so awesome, and I can’t wait to see them one last time (on this tour) on Friday! They’re quickly climbing the ranks of my favorite bands simply because of how stupidly great they are live.

Lionheart is one of those bands that I’ve loved from the beginning, and I’ve enjoyed watching their maturation and evolution. It’s a real treat getting to see them two days in a row, and I’d genuinely be happy seeing them every day. They’ve been playing this really funky, Hip-Hop/R&B kinda breakdown, and it’s so damned smooth. Totally love it.

It’s also fun seeing how some of the same trends at hardcore shows upstate exist downstate as well. One in particular is that we really dislike circle pits in the Capital District. There’s just something about our dancing style that it doesn’t work for us, and whenever a band calls for one, we stand around looking at each other blankly, waiting for the next breakdown to get back to our moves.

Down in Brooklyn, a singer called for a circle pit, and I looked around, curious to see what the crowd’s reaction would be. They all had the same disinterested look I had, and I felt right at home. It’s always a relief when you’re away from your friends and you feel secure in the group you’re with. Hardcore dancing can become violent quickly when someone interprets an action incorrectly, so it’s great when you can settle in at a different place without much trouble.

I was also interested in seeing how my body would hold up to the vigorous activity two days in a row. I hadn’t done that in a very long time, and I was surprised how well I felt today. I even played basketball with Dorena and Josh for a few hours and I’m doing alright. Let’s see how I feel in the morning tomorrow. I’m expecting cramp city.

There’s a longer post in me about hardcore somewhere, and maybe I’ll get to it at some point. It’s an interesting culture, and I’d like to take a look at it with some depth. The two topics I’d really like to cover are pit decorum, and aging in the scene. We’ll see how that goes in the future.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier was simply amazing. There were a few moments that bugged me, but not even enough to mildly cut into my enjoyment. The combat in this movie is my favorite style I’ve ever seen. The mixing of parkour and power that Cap utilized was spectacular. It was the first time I felt that there was a super human fighting regular peons. His strength and speed were showcased beautifully, and the cinematography of the battles was top notch.

Not since The Book of Eli have I come away from a movie with such a lasting impression of how fights were portrayed. The fighting was great, the handling of Bucky was great, and I really loved the supporting cast of Falcon and Black Widow. Widow’s character has finally blossomed into a complete character, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m so down for a Widow movie, so get on it, Marvel.

The NSA-like S.H.I.E.L.D. program to monitor and preemptively snuff out criminal activity was poignant and very topical. There were moments of dialogue that made me swell up with pride, wishing more people would vocalize the sentiments that Cap had. The only way to stop this is to have our voices heard, and to witness it so succinctly conveyed in a fucking super hero movie was surreal. I’ve seen that Chris Evans is getting to that point where he doesn’t want to be Captain America any more, so if they can somehow parlay into the Civil War story arc and wipe him out, I’d be totally down for that. I have full faith that Evans could pull off the intensity that would demand. He put across a ton of stalwart conviction in this film…

They set up at least four new story lines to follow up on, and I’m excited to see them unfold. I Highly recommend this movie, even if you were like me and thought the first Cap movie was mediocre at best. It may have very well dethroned Iron Man as my favorite Marvel movie adaptation. Really, I enjoyed it that much.

Also, I cannot wait for the Blu Ray to come out, so I can snag some screencaps of the end titles, too! They were such a beautiful representation of minimalism that I’m sure they’ll be in constant rotation on my computer’s desktop. The polish on this movie was extremely high. Oh, and the nod to a previous Samuel L. Jackson character made my sister and I erupt with childish glee when we saw it.

I swear, it was in unison, and almost the exact same sound.

TL;DR: Hardcore shows are still awesome, this old fucking man can still dance with kids half his age two days in a row, the new Captain America is fucking fantastic, and I love my sister!

This Blog of Mine

I’ve been making around nine posts a month on this site, usually talking about whatever strikes me at the moment that I’m inspired to post (like now). I’ve been struggling to find an identity for my blog, and I think if I had a more consistent approach to writing posts it’d be better for the handful of readers, and this writer.

My buddies derryX and The Fat Lantern have their niches –dining and comic books, respectively. Do I need to carve one out for myself too? I’m not sure what that’s going to be. I collect different types of toys (mostly Transformers, LEGO, and Marvel figures), so I could do posts about new things as I get them.

Last week, I picked up the turtles that I said I wanted just under a month ago, and I’ve been having a lot of fun playing with them. I’m really in the mood to take some pictures and talk them up, and I’m probably going to do that this weekend. So there’s one new post, and we’ll see how the figure reviewing pans out. I don’t know if that’s what I really want to delve on, though.

I’m 29 and I’ve listened to Howard Stern since I was ten or eleven, and I’ve always been inspired to be open and honest about things happening in my life. The problem is, I don’t actually open up about things the way I should, and shit tends to fester and get out of control. Then, it gets to a point where I’m entirely over-stressed and miserable, and it all comes out in a fervor of rage and anxious energy. Thanks, Mom, I got this from you!

It’s unhealthy and I need to break out of that habit. Maybe this will become a private journal that I publish publicly for ridicule and mocking. I’ve done it a few times in the past (check out posts I’ve tagged as ‘bio’), and they’ve been the least viewed posts on the site. I’m entertained by the idea of sharing things most people wouldn’t, but the reception hasn’t been as significant as I hoped. I like getting reactions to the things I do, and it seems that the really personal things aren’t what get the attention I want.

It seems to be the stories I tell about the things I encounter that really shine, so I guess I just need to have more interactions with people so I can tell more stories.

I’m a Disgrace to Vets

It was Veteran’s Night at the ValleyCats game tonight, so they had some dude come out and sing God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. Since the attacks on 9/11, this song has become some de facto religious-infused anthem for our nation, and it drives me crazy. My interpretation is that those of us that want to have some cool secret message of how great of a Christian nation we are, have elevated this song to be on par with our actual National Anthem. I want no part of it. Apparently, me not taking off my cap during this ridiculous fucking song at a baseball game makes me a terrorist traitor that people just have to hassle.

I’m not marching around trying to get you to keep your hat on your head, or omit this song from the half-inning ceremony. I’m simply exhibiting my free speech to silently object to the use of this song as a symbol of my country. I stand to alleviate the majority of the morons that want to pick at me for wanting to ignore the song’s existence, but I will not concede  as far as supporting this song on the same level as our anthem by removing my hat and covering my heart. It’s a rather small distinction I’ve made for myself, isn’t it? What harm does this cause you?

During the Cold War we added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance to show that we weren’t dirty heathen communists, and strangely enough, no one in school seemed to care that I always skipped over that part. It’s amazing that children can tolerate different opinions, but full grown adults won’t have any of it.

I don’t even want to rant about the Pledge so back to this evening. This ridiculous song is being sung by some guy on the field, and I’m standing there looking over numbers from the game on my Kindle, since I couldn’t remember how many strikeouts this guy had. I feel a slap on my right shoulder; one that was obviously not a mistake and meant to grab my attention. I spun around to see what the hell was going on, and why some asshole behind me had the gall to smack me. He was red in the face and made a motion that I should remove my hat. It became clear that he was actually angry about my decision to leave my hat on, and wanted to hit me to show me that I was pissing him off. What a fucking maroon. I shot him a dirty look which said not to fucking touch me again, and I turned back around and went back to the stats from the game.

A few seconds later he mutters to his wife, “What a jerk, why isn’t he taking his hat off?” I threw my hands up in disbelief that this douche bag was so concerned with my hat. He leans over and says –and I quote, “There’s men and women fighting for our freedom. You leaving your hat on makes you a disgrace.”

Really? Really?  Last time I checked, part of the freedom that our armed forces are “fighting to protect” is my right to not recognize religion at all if I so choose, and regardless of you agreeing with my outward expressions, I’m free to make them as long as I’m not portending harm that I intend to inflict.

I’ve been making a concerted effort lately to not overreact to stupid bullshit like this, so I did my best to ignore this mook and not escalate it further. Needless to say, in spite of my best efforts to let this slide, it’s been eating away in the back of my head since I got home from the game. I’ve lived my life with an expectation of mutual respect. I don’t go around cramming my belief that there’s no such thing as a god (no matter which one –or many– you decide to align faith), but there’s absolutely no respect given to me for my stance.

The last time I was vocal about my atheistic views was with a person I considered a friend. I was told that I needed to grow up, open my eyes, and become educated. Right, because I don’t believe what you do, I’m the one that needs to change. Makes perfect sense. The same fucking feeling hit me tonight when that asshole was telling me I was a disgrace.

My decision to not believe in a supreme being isn’t an attack on what you believe, though it’s sure as hell taken that way in almost every circumstance. When atheists want to return the Pledge of Allegiance back to its pre-Cold War lyrics because we’re uncomfortable with Christians trying to impose their religion upon us, we’re trying to upend their entire way of life and we need to be stopped.

When Muslims wish to build a community center that happens to have a Mosque in it, miles away from where radical Muslim terrorists attacked our nation, we can’t allow it because everyone that follows that religion is obviously a terrorist, and it’s only a matter of time before they raise suicide bombers in our very own city! Keep in mind, though, we don’t ban churches after radical extremists fly planes into tax buildings or blow up our parking garages. They’re just one-off nut jobs that don’t warrant any concern.

When I don’t give credence to a shitty folk song that basically says our nation only exists because of god, I’m a disgrace to our army and way of life. Fuck off. Seriously. I stomach your religious overtones on a ton of things in our country, so please, for the love of your god, let me retain my modicum of dignity when I silently reject those ideals to appease my stance.

Your free speech is not better because in your head it’s backed by your god. I’ll continue to leave you alone, how about you start leaving me alone? Deal?

I Failed as a Man Today

I needed printer paper at work earlier, so I go down and grab a ream from our copy area. As I’m walking back, there’s one of the chicks in the office in front of me, in a form-fitting dress about five or six steps ahead of me.

I was quite hypnotized by her ass as we were walking, and for no reason at all, she turns and looks directly at me. Totally out of the blue, and I was so focused in on it that I didn’t even notice her head had spun around until my eyes lazily moved upward to make eye-contact.

It’s every man’s job to not be caught while looking. Sure, as we get older and more desperate we don’t try to conceal it as much, but I totally blew it today. It was the first time in almost 15 years that I was so obviously and blatantly caught while staring –discounting the times Dorena has caught me staring, of course, since you know, we’re married and shit.

Anyway, I remember the last time like it was yesterday. I was working as a cashier at Hannaford, age 16. A woman in an unassuming sundress comes down my line and pays by check. Luckily for me, I was on the register without one of those wings that comes up and away from the terminal, so she had to bend toward the belt to write it out. As she leaned over, I saw all the way down to her feet.

She was still hunched over with her arm extended with the finished check before she cleared her throat two times and stood back up. The horny teenager in me was saying, “She noticed and she liked that I liked it, and she wants me to know she knew.”

The pragmatic truth-sayer part of me was calling my other half incredibly stupid, and I made it my goal to never be caught again. I suppose once every 15 years isn’t a bad mark to strive for…

The Advice Asshole Saga: Part Three

You don’t need to read part one and two of the saga, but what’s a downfall without a build-up?

My site was popular with celebrity fans, amateur picture seekers, and people that liked out of this world random content. A lot of my WTF? Gallery was distasteful. I’d post pictures of crime scenes and car wrecks with varying degrees of gore, and I wound up with about five or six members that really liked that type of content.

One of them started talking to me through an instant messenger, and I figured that if I made him the head honcho of an entire section of that kind of content, he would regulate it and I’d be tapping into another subculture of internet users. More users, more popularity. More popularity, more income from ads. The great part of the arrangement was that I could focus on the content I wanted to deliver, and he could focus on the other stuff that I was growing tired of. We’d be working independently under one hat to drive up traffic and our own notoriety.

Thus was born the Sanity Fades section of TheAdviceAsshole.net. The leader of the section started branching out and making new connections with web sites, and driving up memberships and visitors over the next few months. I continued on with the syndication of  random pictures and videos. You know how the popular kid in school always gets in trouble for doing something stupid at some point? When you’re weak you make really unwise decisions when you get into a position of “power” and popularity.

I was posting thousands of dollars worth of copyrighted content for public consumption daily, without any sort of buffer between my site and the rest of the world. MSN and Google started ranking me very high on a wide variety of search requests. At one point, typing “Met-Art” into google would link you to threads on my site, containing premium picture sets, ahead of the links to the same pay-only content on Met-Art itself. You can imagine how annoyed they were when they saw sites higher, especially when those sites were distributing their content for free.

I started fielding takedown notices weekly. They started slow, requesting a post in a thread be removed here, an entire topic there. I always responded to the requests and removed the content, and eventually resorted to a disclaimer that linked to a specific form for details on which pages you wanted me to take down. This sated the lawyers for the copyright holders for a while, but it wasn’t enough. The culmination of this battle was a request to remove 127 individual threads that contained proprietary content at once. They were gracious enough to give me 24 hours to remove the content, and if I did not comply within the allotted time, they were going to formerly press charges.

I remember delegating the deletions amongst my staff, and it took the four of us about two hours to go through and remove everything. I decided it was high time to lock the site down, and only allow members to view the content we were posting. I was naive and thought that it would stop the requests, and that we’d be left alone to continue on as we always had.

I restricted access to the existing posts, but they were still indexed in search engines from before the lockdown. My host started to get takedowns, and they were not happy. They’d just lock my site down for hours at a time, since they were afraid for their own well being. They’d wait until I was on the phone with them to open the site up to my IP so I could remove the problem content before they put the site back up for everyone.

After this happened six or seven times over the span of a few weeks,  things became contentious between the two factions of my site. I was being forced to censor my part of the site, but it was adversely affecting Sanity Fades, a no-holds-barred harem of debauchery. I really don’t want to go into what was being shared, as I’ll have to pull out some of the horrid imagery buried in the deep recesses of my brain, but I assure you it was egregious.

What started off as a spot for some gory pictures had now devolved into the most wretched hive of scum and villainy. When I came to my senses I was disgraced by my ignorance, and I wanted to shut down the section altogether.  My half of the site was on its last legs, and I wanted to consolidate the ‘normal’ members and have a ‘normal’ forum. I killed the porn and Sanity Fades sections, and the SF people got incredibly pissed.

They started to post their content all over my site, so I started deleting the threads. They started to post more and more, so I started banning them. They’d sign up with shill accounts and spread more of the shit around, so I started to ban their IPs. They got together and hit my site with denial of service attacks daily for two weeks.

My host decided to dump me once and for all, and I threw in the towel on the whole Advice Asshole web site. I have suspicions that my one-time friend was helping facilitate the attacks. The instant I shut down my site, SanityFades.com opened up with all the same users that I was removing from mine.

I was going to go all out and slam the guy in this post, but I’m better than that. It’s not my place to speculate about the demons he was facing, or in what state of mind he may have been (if his Sanity hadn’t completely Faded, har har har). It was a cantankerous end to a friendship, and we’ve moved on in the years since. There’s no point in bringing it up to the surface and dealing with all those emotions again.

For three years, I ran a very successful site and had a great time doing it. There were a lot of laughs shared, and I made some really great friendships. Let’s leave it at the good times. A slight validation of my success was that once my domain expired after closing down, the registrar left it as an ad page for three additional years. I know because I was nostalgic and wanted to try again. I went to claim the name and they wanted almost  $3,000 for it. It wasn’t worth it then, and it’s not worth the $10 now. The outlet of an angry teenager with emotions he didn’t understand was pivotal, but I don’t need to live in the past.

It’s time to say goodbye to The Advice Asshole one last time, and what better way to do it than by letting everyone in on who shot JR?