Monday, February 21, 2011

Stayin' alive

I'm going to get right to the point. Obesity scares me. When the people I love neglect their bodies and health, not only do I fear for them… I fear I will lose them way too soon. I was browsing Fox News online earlier today and came across this article about heart attack survivors who don't change their eating habits (or start out good and go back to eating crap and not exercising) and it hit me pretty hard.

You see, three years ago my dad had a heart attack (in and all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet no less). I almost lost my dad because for years and years he has neglected his body. The consequences of both my parents being unhealthy has always been in the back of my mind, but until that point never really scared me.

It scares me now.

That day in the hospital I saw obesity in a new light. I finally saw it as dangerous - I saw it as something that could take away people I love. It's been really hard to vocalize this to my parents without getting angry. After the attack, my dad did eat better and he exercised… for maybe 6 months. My mom kept on the same path of bodily destruction she's been on for years, and slowly my dad joined her again.

My parents have a hard time walking around. They aren't old, but their bodies are showing wear that shouldn't be there yet because of the weight they are carrying. Maintaining a healthy weight isn't just about looking good. When you're healthy you feel better, your body works better, you sleep better, you're at less risk for diseases… the list goes on.

I feel like as Americans we are conditioned to put junk into our bodies, and it's killing all of us. I can only beg the people I love to practice healthy habits so much, but even I don't always succeed in practicing them. We live in a society that tells us that things should be easy… and with growing technologies, etc. we are all becoming lazy because as far as I know there is no iPhone app that's gonna get my ass on a treadmill. Motivation has to come from inside, and staying healthy isn't easy. Losing weight and retraining your body and mind for health is even harder.

To my parents, finding health seems like an impossibly steep mountain to climb. Unfortunately, it is a mountain that never had to be there in the first place. The last time I really sat down with both of them, we were in a bakery. I couldn't bring myself to order anything but hot tea, because standing in front of that case of sweets with the two of them just took me back to that day in the hospital. The three of us sat down at a table, me with my tea and my parents with lattes and a big slab of chocolate cake. I couldn't watch them eat it. It's the hardest thing in the world to sit and watch people I love most in this world kill themselves with food. My dad promised me that day they were going to "get healthy" but I've heard it before, from both of them.

The thing is, I know they both want to. I know that for both of them, food is an addiction. Add that to their sedentary lifestyle, and you have a losing situation. I can beg until I'm blue for them to get up and start moving… gradually chip away at the bad habits they've developed and finally start living healthier.

I beg them to stop breaking my heart. I once told my dad "I know I have to lose you sometime, but please don't let it be because you're fat. Please don't let it be because of something you could have prevented."


I beg all of you to strive towards a healthy lifestyle, no matter what shape you are in right now. If nothing else, think of the people around you who love you and would be devastated if you were taken from them too soon. I hurt for my parents every day, and pray that they will find the strength and motivation to do something about their health. I'm not sure how much hope I should have though, because if a heart attack won't jolt someone into reality, I'm not sure what will.


Be healthy for yourself and for the people you love. Do it to feel better and live longer. We all have it in us, and if we motivate and encourage each other we'll find success.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My funny Valentine

Well, it's Valentine's Day, and it's almost over. A lot of you are breathing a sigh of relief, some of you are getting laid, and the rest of you don't care.

All I have to say is, whatever you did today, I hope you laughed. If not, check out this assortment of festive messages and get in a few chuckles before you head to bed. I like to think there is a little something here for everyone:

Yes please.

If the Hoff loves me, all is right with the world.

I included this for my grouchy and cynical readers.

Nothing says I love you quite like defacing public property... an overpass would have been more moving, but this will do in a pinch.

For now.

It's important to be your own kitteh, no matter what the world thinks of you.

You do, right?

This one says it all for me.

This too.

Everyone loves a bacon reference...

... but they love actually receiving bacon more.

Fiery passion should really come with some sort of insulating potholder. This guy may be a little too hard-core for me.

Use good beer for that and we'll talk.

Yes Will Wheaton. I would like to make a Wheaten-Hoff sandwich. I mean, who wouldn't?!?

And my personal favorite:
I just want to slap it and watch the ripples go and go. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Love is in the air

Valentine's Day. It seems like everywhere I look, there are reminders blasting me in the face that it's coming. I can't watch TV, pick up a prescription or even go to the gym without one. It's a Hallmark holiday... a moneymaker for florists and chocolate companies.

It's just another day. A crappy, gaudy, glitter-encrusted, cuteness-overloaded day.

Isn't it?

I used to think Valentine's Day exists to remind me that I'm lonely. I walk through CVS or Target and it seems like all those frilly pink and red heart shaped things are silently screaming "I'm not for you!" But as I've gotten older, I accept and ignore all that kitsch. I put my blinders up to do my shopping, and tell myself it's just another day. It's cheesy and stupid. Who needs this crap anyway?

I think the answer to that last question is: we all do. I do. I need it bad. I'm not just talking about couples or romance, that excludes too many people. In fact, it excludes me, and I'm not down with that. I think if you look past all the lace and heart-shaped whatever, you'll see that it's actually a pretty wonderful thing to have a day that celebrates love. I may not have a date, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love and am loved by many wonderful people.

It's easy to forget that when all I see surrounding me in January and February is romantic vomit all over every store ever. Loneliness creeps in and I think about how much I'd like to be coming home to someone, instead of an empty, dark apartment. Romantic love is precious. Having a partner and a mate to lean on and walk through life with is worth more than anything I can think of. It is not something to scoff at or take lightly, and one day I hope to find it.

But like many many people I haven't found it yet. I'm realizing more and more though, that most of us have a bigger network of love and support than we realize, and we take it for granted.

I don't want Valentine's Day to be just another day. Celebrating love is one of the most worthwhile things you can do. I celebrate my friends and family. I celebrate people I've loved in the past and people I have yet to meet. That thought all by itself lifts me up like you wouldn't believe.

I sometimes do have to remind myself that I'm not alone, and way too often that's really hard to do... especially this time of year. It seems like everyone is paired off these days and I am showing up to the ark solo, like I didn't get the memo or something.

But really, not everyone is, and that's OK. We all do things in our own time, and things happen when we're ready for them to. In the meantime, rediscover how important the existing people in your life are, and fall in love with them again. Valentine's Day should, in its purest form, serve as a reminder and revival for ALL of those who we love and who love us in return.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone. Lets celebrate together.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


So... I have to rant for a minute.

I watched a zombie movie last night, and by now you probably know how much I love those. A good zombie flick fills my heart with joy and happiness... it's like the Care Bear Stare going on in there. It's glorious. Also, I'm starting to discover that there are some genre movies being made overseas that are getting some great buzz among fans like myself.

So I decided to put a few into my Netflix queue and see for myself. Last night, I watched the Zombie Diaries (please please please don't confuse this one with Romero's Diary of the Dead... which was a snoozefest). Now, this is a British one that came highly recommended, so I was pumped when I sat down to watch it.

Which brings me to the point. This is not a movie review.... plenty of those exist for this movie, like this one. This is a rant. This is shit I'm sick to death of seeing in movie after movie after movie, with few to no exceptions. Here goes:

Dumb humans should not survive in a deadly outbreak of anything. Ever. In the event of a zombie apocalypse scenario, it's pretty much everyone for themselves. You figure out how to protect yourself, and you survive. Even in a band of people who know how to survive, there will still be casualties, which is why the dummies should be the first to go. You can't bumble your way through the apocalypse....

If someone gets bit by a zombie, inevitably he or she will be allowed to stay with the group until they (somehow unnoticed) die and come back, hungry for brains and flesh and shit. These people know what will happen, why should this person be any different? Shoot them in the face before there are more casualties and quit wasting my time.

Whenever some asshole in the group flips out and starts threatening his buddies, kick him out of the group. He'll probably end up doing something stupid or hotheaded that will get someone killed, and probably not himself either. One of the main components of survival is to stay calm, don't make a ruckus, and don't threaten the people who are trying to keep each other somewhat safe. Rocket science I know.

Drunk people are not accurate shots. Now this is a big one. Survivors drink a lot in zombie flicks, which is understandable, but dumb as fuck if they're out in the open around say, a campfire. Do they really think having the only light in a darkened, post-apocalyptic world is safe? Of course they do. But then, when an attack happens, two or three people get killed then BOOM! right between the eyes. One of the survivors, as if instantly sober, saves the day with deadly accuracy. It does make sense that survivors would hone their shooting skills out of necessity, but no one can shoot straight when they're drunk.

Also, I have a hard time believing that a 5-3 115 lb. girl can fire a large pistol one-handed with any kind of accuracy. I've seen shit like this way too much in these movies. Last night I saw a girl the size of Kirsten Dunst nail a zombie straight through the forehead, one-handed, with a giant pistol that would kick anyone's arm back like crazy, from about 40 feet away. Riiight.

Get continuity in your story. Now, in their defense a lot of movies do this pretty well. I mean, you're not going to be able to enjoy a zombie flick without suspending your disbelief just a bit, so a few small plot holes can be forgiven.... but don't try to go from point A "OMG there's some weird virus that's killing people!" to point D or E which is "OMG there are like 5 people left alive in the whole world and the rest are ZOMBIES!" Fill the holes in. Please. Get me some transitions so I know what the fuck is going on.

Show me something new. I love George Romero, because he was the first to ever make a zombie movie that was bloody and gory (Night of the Living Dead, 1968). He continued with several genre movies that changed not only zombie flicks, but horror altogether. I still watch anything that comes out that he's had a hand in, and I gotta say, I'm sick of the narration. I'm sick of the same scenarios over and over again. I'm sick of the same cinematography, even the same sounds. I believe Romero has sold out to the genre that he helped create, which is sad. I saw a lot of his influence in the movie last night, which in some ways made me remember what groundbreaking imagery and commentary he is capable of. In fact, the bulk of Diaries was a (well-done) mash-up of Romero's slow-paced, deliberate style, and the frantic, shaky camera work of the Blair Witch Project.

The scariest thing about an apocalypse is that humans can't stop it, and we like to think we are in control of everything. I don't want zombies to be so predictable, because that edge of the unchecked inevitable goes away and I can't suspend my disbelief. There is no tension when you know exactly what is going to happen. Show me a movie where zombie mayhem and catastrophe happens DESPITE the best efforts of intelligent people. Make me afraid to go outside. Make me pull my feet up onto the couch in case some undead hand could reach out and grab my ankle.


Ok, so now it is time for my recommendations. Hmmmm. I think I'll include a little something for everyone.

For newbies or people who like a little comedy mixed in, get Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland. Both are fantastic, won't stress you out too bad, and provide a nice soft introduction into an otherwise hardcore horror genre. I have to say, Shaun of the Dead is one of my all-time favorite movies, period.

If you want a classic, go for Night of the Living Dead or the original Dawn of the Dead. Both are George Romero at his finest. A harsh reality, biting social commentary and of course hordes of flesh-eating undead. Romero was only 28 when he made Night of the Living Dead, which was the first time zombies had been portrayed as flesh-eating monsters. It makes me feel like such an underachiever.

For something new, fast-paced and scary, get 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later. Now, I'll say for the sake of argument that these are not true zombie flicks, because there are no undead.... but these movies are tense, creative and really well done. You should also check out the Dawn of the Dead 2004 remake. Tell me, is there anything scarier than a fast zombie? Undead rotting corpses running at you at top speed, hungry for your flesh.....

Mmmmm ok, howabout something gory? Do you want to see blood and entrails splattering around your screen? Get Peter Jackson's Dead Alive or Robert Rodriguez' Planet Terror. These two are over-the-top for sure, to the point where it gets ridiculous. Yes, that is the Lord of the Rings' Peter Jackson. Fulci's Zombie has some pretty great scenes too, like zombie vs. shark, and an epic slow-motion close up eye-gouging scene. What's not to love?

Zombie Diaries is a wild card. I'd recommend it to fans of the genre, but no one else. There are some great moments that really keep you on edge. As a throwback to Romero's style, there is also a wonderful look at how different groups of survivors interact and handle themselves. It's not trying to make any bold social statements, but merely "document" the end of the world from different viewpoints. It has some holes (a lot of which I ranted about above) and starts really slow, so you have to power through for a bit. To sum it up into one statement, it is what Romero wanted Diary of the Dead to be. Gladly, there was no narrator, which was a plus. Really what made the movie interesting was the last 45 minutes or so when the drama, confusion an terror came from the survivors themselves.


Next on my list? The French Zombie flick La Horde. I'll let you know how that one is.