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Monday, May 16, 2011

100 Things About Me

So, a few other friends have done this same blog, so I figured, what the fuck, I'll do it, too. These 100 things are in a completely random order, and they are all 100% true. Also, if you have questions about a certain item on this list, feel free to ask. However, depending on the item and the question, I may not give you much of an answer. Now, onto the list.

1. 4 years ago, I spent a night in jail.
2. I dated former porn star Tabitha Banks for a brief period in 2006.
3. I have never smoked a cigarette, nor have I ever used any recreational drugs of any kind.
4. I have tried alcohol in the past, but I have never been drunk, or even so much as tipsy.
5. Even though I own literally hundreds of video games, many of them have remained unfinished for various reasons. In some cases, I've never even played the game.
6. After I got back into the gym once my daughter was born, I weighed as much as 210 pounds at one point (I am back down to 160 pounds now, though).
7. Despite not speaking the language, I love Asian films, especially those in the horror and action genres.
8. I had a threesome with my wife and a friend last week.
9. I proposed to my wife before we even met face-to-face.
10. I really enjoy the music of Sheryl Crow.
11. My all-time favorite band is the Misfits.
12. I have not been to a concert in nearly 10 years, and the last concert I attended was-sadly-ICP.
13. I have slept with exactly 13 women in my life.
14. I briefly trained to be a pro wrestler 9 or 10 years ago, but had to give it up after injuring my back.
15. I hate feet, but have a fetish for good-looking women who wear tall socks/stockings/tall boots.
16. My mother is a national-level bodybuilder.
17. I love the idea of world travel, yet have never had the chance to travel outside of the U.S.
18. I have lost two children due to miscarriages.
19. I have never seen The Wizard Of Oz all the way through.
20. I own somewhere in the ballpark of 1500-2000 VHS tapes, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs.
21. My favorite actor is Jason Statham.
22. I co-created two separate comic book series with friends while in high school (Obviously, they were never submitted for publication or anything like that; they were done just for fun).
23. I have never broken a bone in my life.
24. I currently have 24 tattoos.
25. Had I been drafted to war during the years I was eligible, I would have been a draft dodger and moved to Canada.
26. I have "deflowered" a virgin.
27. I split my forehead open in the 8th grade while at school after running head-first into a locker.
28. For a time, I knew the entire script for Wayne's World by heart.
29. I have read the dictionary cover-to-cover.
30. Prior to the age of 21, I got away with illegal gambling in Las Vegas when no one carded me.
31. I spent the first 25 years of my life in the state of Washington. I plan to move back to Olympia in the near future.
32. I worked in a prison for a year and a half.
33. I am an Atheist.
34. My all-time favorite sitcom is Married...With Children, with Seinfeld, NewsRadio and Arrested Development all tied for second place.
35. I have never been fired from a job.
36. My daughter has three middle names, after my mother and grandmother.
37. All four of my grandparents are still alive.
38. The only surgery I've ever had in my life has been stitches (twice).
39. I hate The Lord Of The Rings movies.
40. I love conspiracy theories, the unexplained, unsolved mysteries, etc.
41. I am a firm believer that, somewhere out in the universe, there is one or more forms of intelligent life.
42. I owned seven cats at the same time at one point in my life.
43. I have both an Associates and Bachelors degree in criminal justice, despite not working in the field nor having interest in working in the field.
44. I'm a firm believer in animal rights, and would defend an animal's rights before another human's any day of the week.
45. I would love to get paid to write for a living, but I am my own worst critic when it comes to my written work.
46. My favorite genre of music is 80's/New Wave, and my favorite artist in the genre is David Bowie.
47. In 2006 after being dumped once again, I seriously contemplated killing myself.
48. I was divorced by the age of 23, remarried by 25.
49. I spent three miserable years working for Wal-Mart. As a result, I refuse to shop there.
50. I can count on one hand the amount of times I've been in a physical fight in my life.
51. I began shaving at the age of 12.
52. I hate having body hair, so I "manscape" myself.
53. I hate looking at myself naked.
54. I have a very difficult time taking compliments.
55. My favorite stand-up comedians are Harland Williams and David Cross.
56. I have never met my brother-in-law, and I'm not sure that I ever will.
57. Despite living close to the Canadian border for 25 years, I have never been to Canada.
58. I hate all sports except pro wrestling and bodybuilding.
59. I began cursing regularly at the ripe old age of 4.
60. Despite the first Silent Hill game coming out in 1999, I did not finish it until last year.
61. I am obsessed with being in shape.
62. I actually like shopping.
63. My celebrity heroes are Owen Hart, Phil Hartman and "Dr. Death" Steve Williams.
64. My grandmother on my mom's side is the strongest woman I've ever known.
65. In the last five years, I've lost two friends to tragic accidents.
66. In my life, I've lost two friends to suicide.
67. I do not drive, nor do I have a license.
68. I have a habit of pulling hairs out of my face (nose, mustache, eyebrows, etc.).
69. I hate when people crack their knuckles, yet I have a habit of constantly cracking my thumbs.
70. I really hate when customers from my store run into me outside of work, as they always want to ask me work-related questions.
71. I like eating chocolate candy and French fries at the same time.
72. I also like eating chocolate candy and popcorn at the same time.
73. I can eat ketchup on just about any kind of meat.
74. I refuse to eat seafood of any kind.
75. My favorite restaurant is Peking House in Centralia, WA.
76. My all-time favorite meal is Peking House's Almond Fried Chicken Special.
77. I understand why some people are religious, but will never be able to fathom why someone would willingly be a Mormon or a Scientologist.
78. I actually took and still own a photo that appears to be of an apparition.
79. I had front row seats at Wrestlemania XIX in Seattle.
80. I am fascinated by Egyptian history.
81. I'm a big fan of Japan and all it has to offer.
82. Despite being a Marvel comic fan, I hate pretty much every Marvel movie that has ever come out.
83. I only buy movies and games. I don't rent either in any capacity. Ever.
84. Since he remarried, I have had a really hard time talking to my brother.
85. I'm not a registered voter, and have no interest in registering.
86. I don't ever want to have to go back to Wyoming for any reason whatsoever.
87. Both of my marriages took place in Las Vegas, with one set of my parents attending each wedding.
88. When it comes to soda, I only drink diet.
89. I hate Jack Black
90. I do not understand why anyone-male or female-likes Lady Gaga.
91. I lost my virginity at the age of 14. Oddly enough, she actually pressured me into having sex, not the other way around as is the norm (In fact, I actually tried to talk my way out of it several times).
92. My first kiss was the same girl I lost my virginity to.
93. I did not have sex again until I was 18 (not by choice; it just didn't happen until then).
94. Only two movies have ever truly made me cringe-Hostel and Audition.
95. Despite being nearly 30, I still really enjoy putting together LEGO sets.
96. My best friend is bisexual.
97. During my senior year of high school, I wanted to become a porn star after graduation. Not only did I think it would be a fun job, but I legitimately thought it would be the only chance I would have of having sex again.
98. I never planned on getting married a second time, or having kids.
99. Despite being from Washington, I find Nirvana to be one of the shittiest bands in the history of music.
100. I don't like my job, but am afraid to leave it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Remembering A Great Friend

(Author's Note: All photos in this blog are my personal photos.)

While I try to be humorous and relaxed with my other blog entries here, this entry will be a little bit different. This is something I thought about writing a lot today when I realized what day it was. Today is the day that would've been a friend's 51st birthday. Unfortunately, that friend is no longer with us. This blog will be about remembering that friend, the one and only "Dr. Death" Steve Williams.

I first met Doc purely by accident when he came into my store in April 2008. At first, I thought maybe it was just a guy that looked like Steve Williams (I believed he lived in Oklahoma, as that's where he went to school). After I asked him how he was doing and got a response, I couldn't help myself. "I'm sorry to ask this, sir," I started, "but aren't you 'Dr. Death' Steve Williams?" He just looked at me, gave me a smile and said that he was. At this point, I turned into an idiot fan boy-the kind of wrestling fan I normally hate-and started gushing to him about how I was such a big fan and couldn't believe he was in my store. Now, he could've acted embarrassed or even irritated that a fan was gushing over him, and I would have understood completely, as I know this kind of thing happens to famous wrestlers all the time and it can get irritating for them. Instead, his grin just got bigger and he said "Thank you!" He continued to shop in the store, while I just stood there, semi-dumbfounded. After he decided what he wanted, he had to run back out to his truck to get his credit card.

Once he came back in, I decided that I should at least strike up conversation with him, if for no other reason than it was the polite thing to do. Yes, he was famous, but he was also a customer, after all. Now, as I said, I thought he lived in Oklahoma, so the first thing I asked was what brought him to Colorado, and that I knew he was doing a show here soon, but it wasn't until June. Again, surprisingly, he was very open and told me about how he was actually from Lakewood originally and had moved back a while ago to take care of his mother, who was legally blind. I wasn't expecting that much information, as I didn't mean to get nosey and personal with him. But Doc never made me feel like I was being nosey. He was just an honest man and gave me an honest answer. I shared a little more small talk with him, told him I'd be at the show in June, and I looked forward to seeing him again. He smiled, replied with a similar sentiment, and went on his way.

Fast forward a couple months later, and it was time for the show I mentioned earlier. Doc had his own table set up, and was selling hats, photos, copies of his autobiography, etc. I walked up to him as I wanted to get an autographed photo and maybe get my photo taken with me. He shook my hand and I said, "I don't know if you remember me, but you came into my store in Lakewood a couple of months ago." Again, I would've understood if he didn't remember me, as I was sure he met fans all the time. He took a second to think, and immediately said, "[Store name]. I bought Muscle Milk from you, right?" He remembered me! We continued talking for a few minutes, and when I asked to get a picture with him, he was more than happy to oblige (the picture at the end of this blog). He then proceeded to take a photo with my wife Heather, and my stepdaughter.

Now, before I continue, a little back story for those that might not know. In 2004, Steve was diagnosed with throat cancer, and it was unknown whether he would survive it or not. Well, he not only managed to beat the odds and survive (he had to have a stoma put into his throat in order to communicate, but otherwise made a full recovery), but actually resumed his wrestling career after that, truly defying the odds.

By 2008, he had been nearly four years cancer-free and looked almost as good in the ring as he did prior to the disease taking over. He had also found a new lease on life and began living every day to the fullest. He was never shy about talking about the cancer, and took time out of his day to encourage others to take care of themselves so they didn't suffer the same fate, namely quit smoking. He became a very inspirational person for both fans and other wrestlers alike. Anyway, back to the story.

After this show in June, I began to see Doc at least once a month at following wrestling shows, talking more and more with him each time, and we got to the point where I could actually call him my friend. He always made time to come talk to Heather and I at shows, even if it was just for a moment or two. As it turns out, that's just how Doc was. He was a friendly, outgoing guy who found good in nearly everyone he met.

After a couple of months, I decided that I needed to buy a copy of his book (BTW, if you'd like to buy a copy, it is out of print now, but used copies can still be found at places like At one of the shows, I bought three copies-one for myself, another copy for a friend of my mom's, and one for my grandmother, who is also a wrestling fan-and he gave each one a personalized autograph, even addressed the one to my grandma with the line "Dear Grandma Jo". I told him a little bit about my grandmother, who is also a cancer survivor, and how she was able to overcome the odds like he did. He smiled at me as I told him about her, a smile I came to really like. He just had a smile that you could see a mile away, the kind that was one in a million and was as genuine as you could possibly hope for. He then told me to make sure that I told her to keep fighting and that he would keep her in his thoughts and prayers.

We kept going to these shows, and would always see Doc and chat him up. He would sometimes attend the show after parties at Buffalo Wild Wings as well, and we'd chat him up a bit more. He always seemed happy to talk to friends and fans, and never acted like it was a burden. He always seemed happy around other people, and as I got to know him more and more, I found it was always genuine happiness.

We ended up missing a couple of shows at the beginning of 2009 because Heather gave birth to our only daughter together (her third child, my first). We decided at one point to see how she'd do at a wrestling show, despite being an infant and took her to one. Turns out she did just fine, not being fussy or cranky or anything like that. So, when ACW, the wrestling promotion Doc was mainly working for in Colorado and the promotion we would usually see himi at, ran a show in April of 2009, we decided we'd take our daughter with us, despite her only being three months old at the time. As usual, Doc was at his merchandise table, talking to fans, taking pictures and whatnot. As we began to walk up to him with our daughter, Doc looked at us and then looked away, only to do a double-take and look at us again. When he saw our baby girl, his entire face lit up (he was a parent and grandfather himself, and absolutely loved kids) and said "Well! What do we have here?" We told him about our daughter, when she was born, her name, etc., and then I said, "I probably know the answer to this, but could we get a picture of you and our daughter together?" Before I could even finish my sentence, he had his hands stretched out, ready to hold her. He wanted to take the picture almost as much as we did! He scooped her up in his arms and gave us his signature "Thumbs Up" to pose for this photo:
It instantly became my all-time favorite photo.

Towards the end of the year, Doc decided that wrestling was wearing him out and that it was time to retire. If anyone deserved a nice retirement, it was Doc. He had wrestled for every major promotion in the U.S. and Japan (and man, was he a huge star in Japan), had become a household name for many wrestling fans, and was a living legend. Unfortunately, his retirement got pushed up a couple of months. In August 2009, Doc's throat cancer had come back, only about a month shy of his five-year anniversary of being cancer-free. That same month, ACW held a retirement show for Doc, going as far as to fly former WWE diva Dawn Marie to the show, who had become friends with Doc through her charity organization Wrestler's Rescue (she was in the process of helping raise money to get Doc a hands-free device to allow him to communicate more easily. At this point, he would have to hold his thumb to the stoma in order to speak). That night, Doc beat ACW Heavyweight Champion Franco D'Angelo to win the belt, giving him one last shining moment in his career before retirement. He made a speech as the entire locker room emptied to pay their respect, and he told those in attendance that night, "I beat this once. I'll beat it again."

Unfortunately, Doc was not able to beat cancer the second time, and in December 2009, just days after Christmas, "Dr. Death" Steve Williams passed away at the age of just 49 years old. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I was in shock the entire day after I found out, and felt numb for weeks afterwards.

In January, ACW put on a tribute show for Doc, with all money from the show going to his family to help cover his final debts such as funeral services. Former WCW World Champion Vader, a Colorado native and close friend of Doc's, also came to the show to pay his final respects. I did not stop crying for nearly the entire show, and I wasn't the only one. Many of the wrestlers could not keep it together, and many in the audience had a difficult time as well.

To this day, I still have a difficult time thinking about Doc. I think about him and I smile, but at the same time, in the back of my mind, it dawns on me he is not with us anymore. After he had been gone for about a year, I decided I wanted to honor him in some way, and the best way to do that would be with a tattoo. In February of this year, I finally had the tattoo done on my shoulder. It is the most meaningful tattoo I have on my body, and I hope that, if there is an afterlife, he can see it and he is looking at it with a smile on his face.

I only got to know Doc the last year and a half or so of his life, so I can't claim to know him as well as other people did. I wish I had gotten a chance to know him much better, and I still regret never being able to take him out to dinner like I had planned on. However, the memories I do have of him, I will cherish for the rest of my life, and I will never forget the time I spent with him, no matter how brief it was.

Doc, you left us way too soon, and I miss you every day of my life. I love you, my friend.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Game Shelf: Assassin's Creed II (PS3)

So, in case some of you aren't aware, I am a huge video game fanatic. Across numerous platforms, I own a collection of between 300 and 500 video games (The picture above is only of the games I own on the current generation of consoles. And yes, this is my actual shelf). Because of this, what the hell, I'll give you billions of readers my take on various video games that I own and have finished. Since I just finished Assassin's Creed II, I figured that would be the best place to start.

For those who didn't play the first game, Assassin's Creed had the player control Desmond Miles, a seemingly average man who has been taken captive by a group called Abstergo. Abstergo uses Desmond to find out information on his ancestor Altair using a virtual-reality style machine known as the Animus. Altair, a professional assassin and member of an elite guild of assassins. However, over the course of the game, it is discovered that Altair is being used by the guild to find a powerful artifact known as the Apple of Eden. At the same time, Desmond finds he is being used by Abstergo to discover the location of the Apple, which is sought after by the famous Templars, who Abstergo is a front for.

The second game takes off from this point with Desmond and former Abstergo employee Lucy escaping and reconvening at a secret location. Lucy, after seeing what Abstergo is really about, agrees to help Desmond escape on the basis that he help them find the Pieces of Eden (the apple and a second part) in order to use them the right way and keep them out of Abstergo's hands. Lucy, along with her friends Shaun and Rebecca, use their own version of the Animus to allow Desmond to travel back in time to the life of Ezio Auditore de Firenze, the son of a prominent Italian family and descendant of Altair (and, as a result, another ancestor of Desmond as well).

As the character of Ezio, the player traverses across several historical cities of the Renaissance Age, including Firenze (Florence), Venezia (Venice) and Romagna, hunting down the conspirators behind the murder of Ezio's father while at the same time uncovering clues as to the reasons behind the elder Auditore's death. There are numerous side activities such as collecting Codex pages and having them translated by Leonardo da Vinci (a friend of the Auditore family) as well as finding glyphs hidden on historical landmarks and analyzing them for Shaun and Rebecca. You also hunt down seals, which help unlock Altair's original Assassin's outfit and weaponry, safely stored in uncle Mario's castle in Monteriggioni.

One of the great things about the Assassin's Creed games is the amount of history that is jammed into them. Although the games are a work of fiction, they feature many real-life historical people and places, as well as actual conspiracy theories and legends, namely involving the Templars. As you progress through the game, biographies of these people as well as description of places become available to you for your reading pleasure. Being a history buff, I enjoyed reading these little tidbits. It's not imperative that you read them, but they will certainly give you a better understanding of events and happenings throughout the course of the game.

Throughout the game, Ezio tracks down the conspirators behind the death of his father and brothers (he is able to save his mother and two sisters, who spend the rest of the game caring for Mario's castle in Monteriggioni). With each conspirator he assassinates, he comes one step closer to finding the top man and the reasons for the initial killings. Eventually, he finds Rodrigo Borgia, more commonly known as Pope Alexander VI, a ruthless individual who plans to use the power that comes with the Pieces of Eden for his own personal gain.

While I won't spoil the ending, I will say that it involves the remnants of the gods that the planets in the solar system are named after-represented by a figure calling herself Minerva, Desmond being contacted directly by Minerva via the Animus, as well as Desmond's crew being discovered and confronted by Abstergo.

So far, I have played through both this and Assassin's Creed. Having been so impressed by the first game, I really looked forward to the second game. Needless to say, the second game took everything great about the first game and made it even better. The locales the second time around are much brighter and feel more alive, the story is much deeper, and the main character is much easier to relate to. While Altair was a great character, the fact is he was very cold throughout the game, showing little to no personality. Ezio, on the other hand, is charismatic, caring and actually shows emotion in regards to those around him. Plus, he has several historic sidekicks. Including the aformentioned da Vinci, Ezio is also aided by Machiavelli and the Medici family. While the cities in the first game were all very historic, their design made them all feel identical to each other, with no real historic landmarks being featured. II, on the other hand, has numerous landmarks featured, and every city you visit feels very, very distinct from every other one, with the game developers partially basing the game maps on the actual city layouts of the time period (the late 1400s).

While there are no skill levels to choose from in the game (i.e., Easy, Medium, Hard, etc.), the game is easy enough for anyone to beat while still providing a challenge for more hardcore gamers, especially those looking to collect all the trophies/achievements. The boss fights are fairly straight forward, and the cut scenes after you kill each boss are much, much shorter this time around, which allows you to jump back into the game faster.

I only have a couple of complaints with the game. There are several side missions you can do throughout the game to earn yourself more money, including deliveries and races. Most of these are okay, but I found the races to be frustrating, and completely ignored them after failing the first one several times. Also, the side missions you do in order to collect the Assassins Seals-six total-get progressively frustrating. The first three are relatively easy. The fourth one is only frustrating because it can be difficult to find your way out of the tomb (once you do though, it's pretty straight forward). The fifth and sixth ones are somewhat timed, as you have to pull several levers before they retract. If you can't do it within a certain amount of time, the lever retracts and you have to start over. Fortunately, you can redo this as many times as needed, and the game does show you the easiest pathway to take in order to reach the levers. While these six tombs are not necessary to complete the game, I still recommend doing it, as it unlocks Altair's gear, which is stronger than any other gear you can buy throughout the game.

Overall, Assassin's Creed II is an extremely satisfying adventure, and it makes me want to dive right into the next installment, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, which continues the adventures of Desmond and Ezio. Fortunately, I already own this game, and will be starting it shortly.

Overall, I give this game 4/5 stars. While not perfect, the complaints I had are few and far between, and I found myself enjoying the game way more than I was frustrated by it. With each chapter, the story unfolded more, and I found myself enthralled, wanting to unlock more and more of the story.

Friday, May 6, 2011

That's Great, It Starts With An Earthquake...

So, during the course of creating this blog, I posted a poll asking what I should talk about first. Due to the overwhelming response by my millions of readers (Did I say millions? I meant BILLIONS), I guess I will start this blog off with what I have been focused on the most lately, and that is my weight lifting. When my daughter was born in 2009, I had begun to gain a lot of weight, and got as high as 210 lbs. (when I moved to Colorado, I was 160). After my mom came to visit to see her brand new only grandchild, she had immediately noticed how much weight I had put on, and I noticed it too, after I saw some of the pictures she took while she was here. Needless to say, it was really bad, and I couldn't believe how much weight I had gained. So, I decided that it was time to get my fat ass back into the gym and drop the extra weight.

Fast forward to summer of 2010. I had just started back in the gym, and was already down quite a bit. As it turned out, all the walking I had been doing to the bus stops, home, etc. (and I had been doing quite a bit) had paid off: I had dropped back down to 175 lbs. My goal weight was to get back down to 160 again, so I was close. However, no matter how hard I worked out and tried to watch what I ate, I had hit a plateau at 175. I was seeing solid muscle gains from my time in the gym, but I still wanted to get my weight down.

Fast forward again to just a couple of months ago. I asked my mom-a national-level bodybuilder and personal trainer-what I could do to not only see some further weight loss, but hopefully some better muscle tone and definition, especially in my midsection. It has always been my biggest problem area, and the one part that I've never seen much results. She said she'd set up a diet similar to hers, and that it should help with not only the weight loss, but better tone. She was right, and the diet has paid off extensively. It is now early May and I am at 162 lbs. Furthermore-and this is my favorite part-I am seeing abs for the first time in my life. I am actually beginning to see a six-pack, something I never thought I'd get but always wanted.

As I am seeing more and more definition and the weight continues to drop, I have been thinking about bodybuilding competitions more and more. Although I've never competed, I've been around the sport of bodybuilding my entire life and have become a fan as a result. I have seen my mom and several friends compete many times, and I've always admired the success they've received, especially because I know how much work they've put into achieving that success. I've never been in competition shape, but it's something I've always wanted to try at least once. With how things have been going lately, I have been thinking about competition more and more.

At the rate things are going, I could be in competition shape by this time next year, if not sooner, so I am seriously considering it. The only thing I could see struggling with is having my mom prep me. It's not that she wouldn't do it or that I don't want her to (she would and I do); it's the fact that we live 1800 miles apart that might make things difficult. However, there is the strong possibility that my family and I will be moving back home within the next year (another story for another day), so it could still be feasible. I know she would still try to help me if my family and I stayed here in Colorado, but I'd much rather be closer to her, as it would make things easier for everyone. Aside from that, I really want to move back home anyway. This just gives me one more good reason to do so.