Montageman: A dude who writes

November 11, 2008

What’s Going On?

Filed under: random — Tags: , , , , , , , , — montageman @ 3:59 am

The election is finally over.  Yeah, it was last week, but whatever.  2 years of campaigning comes to an end.  I’m glad McCain didn’t win, but I don’t have the same elated feelings that others have about Obama.

The holidays are upon us. This year is going to be difficult.  It’s been about 6 weeks since my mom passed away, but I’m not even close to coming to terms with the whole ordeal.  Not sure what this time will bring or what the best course of action is going to be.

I’m really enjoying working at Trader Joe’s.  Every time I’m there, I get more excited about the work I’m doing.  It’s very physical labor, but at the same time, I am happy when I’m there and time flies.  Totally fun and engaging work – isn’t that what we all look for?

Been trying to keep up with Wii Fit.  It’s not easy.  15-30 minutes a day is hard to put together oddly.  Our days are so packed full of shit that I have difficulty finding 30 minutes to work out.  It’s a shame.  However, Wii Fit is an incredible game – it makes exercise fun and competitive, which is something all of us can use.  The success of The Biggest Loser on NBC should show us that competition is good when it comes to losing weight and being healthy.

Some music I’ve been into lately: Parliament, Metal Fingers (MF Doom), Girl Talk, Black Kids, TV on the Radio, Ike and Tina, Dudley Perkins, Quasimoto, Meiko Kaji, The Cramps, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, The Who and The Velvet Underground.

Going to Ann Arbor tomorrow to see Christopher.  Should be fun.  Don’t know where we’ll go to eat.  Krazy Jim’s? Zingerman’s? Ashley’s? All would be wonderful or maybe we’ll find some place new…


October 22, 2008

A Month Later…

Filed under: healing — Tags: , , , — montageman @ 6:18 am

On Friday this week, it’ll be one month since my mother passed away.  Not much has occurred during this month.  I have not come to terms with it yet.  Not sure when I will.  Everyday something happens that I wish I could tell her.  Mundane shit – Laila’s babbling, Joy’s antics on My Name Is Earl, something said at work, etc.  I spoke to my mom nearly everyday for a large portion of my life.  We never fought for a long period time & I can honestly say I told her everything I possibly could have before she died.  Yet, I feel this emptiness inside that is impossible to describe.   Part of my enjoyment in life was being able to call my mom and share it with her – now I know it may sound completely selfish, but honestly, a lot of what I do now is less fun without my mom here.  This is not to say that I don’t have fun, far from it, but there is a level of satisfaction that I had the next day when I called her and let her know what had happened the previous day.

I guess this is part of the healing process – annoyance at her for being gone.  I know it wasn’t her choice to go, obviously, but there is a part of me that is both angry and annoyed.  It still doesn’t seem fair.  My mom was 50, a new grandmother & a totally wonderful, loving person.  The cancer she had (colorectal) does not normally manifest before 50 years old.  A colonoscopy would not have been in the cards for someone her age.  I still find it hard to believe that there were no warning signs.  I mean 16 months ago she goes in for surgery only to find out she has stage 4 cancer with no prior signs?  It just doesn’t make sense.

These are issues I need to come to terms with.  Yes, time will help all of this, but quite honestly, time isn’t the most comforting thing right now.

September 29, 2008

For Mom (RIP 1958-2008)

Filed under: family — Tags: , , — montageman @ 2:53 am

On September 24, 2008, Mom took her final breath in the presence of many of us here today.  We will not remember Mom at that moment, rather the memories we have shared over the past couple days and will continue to share for the rest of our lives and beyond will shape the collective remembrance of a wonderful woman – a devoted daughter, beloved sister, caring wife, a loving mother, proud “Grammy”, and friend.

Many days on my way home from work, I’d call Mom to catch up on last day or two.  She’d always listen to my work stories – no matter how boring – and I would hear stories of her nightly gallivanting with my dad whether it was to the casino or out to dinner.  They always had a blast together and it was evidenced by the way she spoke. There was always joy in her voice. Her voice would perk up even more during this last year whenever we spoke about Laila, my daughter and her grand-daughter.  Nothing brought a smile to her face or a perk to her voice more than hearing about her little lamb.  No matter how small the accomplishment, she was always very proud of Laila.  Of course, this is because she was always so proud of her 5 sons.

Pride is something that must be earned.  During the most trying times in her life, my mom never complained even on her worst days.  We are proud of her for her strength and her ability to still smile even under the most dire of circumstance. She never had a “bad” day – sure, she had days when she was tired or not feeling well, but that didn’t stop her from talking to anyone who wanted to hear her voice that day.  She was always willing to lend an ear and occasional laughter.  She had a wonderful laugh – one that could light up the most gloomy of days.

For us, this day might be viewed as the gloomiest of all.  Today, we say goodbye to my mom in a way.  She will no longer be with us physically.  However, from this day forth mom lives forever in our memories, thoughts, and dreams.  Eternal life, while a difficult concept to understand, is primarily a function of history and the passing down of stories.  Heather and I will make sure Laila knows many stories about her “grammy”.  Stories that hopefully will be told with such fondness that Laila will in turn tell her children and grandchildren about my mom.

Mom, there are not proper words for me to utter right now to you.  I love you immensely – we all love you immensely.  You will be missed, but never forgotten.  You will be thought of constantly and remembered lovingly forever.

A couple of nights ago I came across a song by Warren Zevon that I thought was fitting for this moment.  I’d like to read a couple lines for everyone:

Sometimes when you’re doing simple things around the house
Maybe you’ll think of me and smile

You know I’m tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for awhile
Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you

Thank you, mom, for making me who I am today.  I love you.

September 18, 2008

My Mom

Filed under: family — Tags: , , , — montageman @ 1:40 am
Me & my mom at her 50th birthday party

My mom and I at her 50th birthday party

Roughly 16 months ago my mom was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Her initial prognosis was dire –  the cancer had spread and was stage 4.  Mom has been in the hospital on and off for the past month or so.  She’s not eating much, the painkillers have her totally fucked up, and she’s on a slow decline.  She’s 50. A young woman, mother, grandmother.  There is nothing fair about this.  Cancer is a motherfucker.  A couple months ago I would’ve said that she was doing well and things were under control, but how quickly the tables turn. I am the oldest of 5 boys – we are very protective of our mom.  Also, our 14 month daughter, Laila, hardly knows her grammy yet.  Helplessness.  Cancer cannot be defeated. It can be stalled, but eventually the stage 4 shit wins.  We’ve had a really wonderful year and I can’t help but think/hope that there is light at the end of this tunnel, too.  Of course, it is my mom, so I’ll be as positive as I can no matter what is said.  Matthew (my brother that lives in NYC) is bringing some Mon-A-Vie home.  I am a firm believer in healing through food, so maybe it’ll help? Hell, anything is worth trying.  This is Mom! It’s hard to imagine – 6 weeks ago she was so full of energy, but all the while there was this monster attacking her body.  Looking at her, you could never tell. She hid it well. And that is why this is so hard. Seeing your mother suffer sucks. I want to make everything better. And I will keep trying, refusing to see an end.

July 23, 2008

Twitter addiction

Filed under: twitter — Tags: , , , — montageman @ 2:12 am

I recently decided to reactivate my Twitter account.  Suddenly, I am totally addicted.  Twitter is simultaneously easy and difficult.  It’s easy to text message 40404 with a little blurb about what I’m doing, but it’s difficult to summarize the action within the character limit.  Restaurant reviews suddenly become little blurbs – chicken parmesean was tough or these doughnuts are stale.  Don’t know how long I’ll stick with this – as you can see I haven’t stuck with blogging.  Maybe Twitter will lead me to blog more.  On a sidenote, I’m going to do a 5K run/walk on September 7.  Hopefully, I can stick with the training regiment for that.  We’ll see…

May 16, 2008

Annoying Klondike Commercials

Filed under: marketing — Tags: , — montageman @ 2:23 am

Klondike sponsored a good portion of the Thursday night TV tonight on NBC, so during My Name is Earl and The Office we were subjected to two of the more sexist, chauvinistic, and sophomoric ad campaigns that I’ve seen in a long time.  Basically, the full focus of these ads is men, but not all men, rather men who feel as if talking to their partner is a nuisance or that women are somehow inferior to men.  These commercials sent me back 50 years to the days of these ads.  I’m not a marketing exec or anything, so I don’t know how or why these commercials even made it to the air, but I imagine that they’ll work.  Oh well, all I can do is not buy Klondikes.

March 25, 2008

Wrestlemania 24 (or why I still love WWE)

Filed under: barthes, wwe — Tags: , , , — montageman @ 12:15 am

I don’t watch wrestling as much as I used to.  Years ago, it was virtually impossible to get a hold of me on a Monday night.  I was constantly flipping between WWE Monday Night Raw and WCW Nitro.  WCW has been defunct for years after being bought out by Vince McMahon and WWE.  There is no longer a “Monday night war,” rather WWE has Monday to itself so the sense of urgency has decreased tremendously and the quality of the show has thereby fallen as well.  There are moments, however, when I am glad that I still follow wrestling if only a little bit.

Tonight’s Raw was the last one before Wrestlemania 24 this Sunday.  Wrestlemania is the biggest pay-per-view event of the year for WWE, so tonight’s show was the last push, or advertisement, for Sunday’s big show (no pun intended).  I didn’t see all of the show tonight, but what I did see made me want to order Sunday’s show badly.  Roland Barthes in “The World of Wrestling” discusses wrestling as spectacle – a sport unlike any other in that the outcomes really do not matter.  “Wrestling is the sum of spectacles, of which no single one is a function: each moment imposes the total knowledge of a passion which rises erect and alone, without ever extending to the crowning moment of a result, (24)”.    Storylines are written, outcomes are fixed, and there is never any intention of damaging another’s body.  The audience is more interested in the build-up and is quick to forgive if their favorite wrestler loses because tomorrow will bring another challenger and more build-up.

Tonight’s build-up for the Ric Flair/Shawn Michaels “Career Threatening” Match was incredible.   After nearly 40 years in the business, Ric Flair’s career might come to an end on Sunday.  He “hand picked” Michaels for this match.  While they are friends and both are baby faces (good guys), Flair has told Michaels repeatedly to give him what he needs on Sunday.  Flair is and always has been one of the best interviews in the business, so his build-up is always fun to watch.  Tonight’s was a rundown of his historical significance and all of the legends he has feuded with and defeated – Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Hulk Hogan, Terry Funk, Dusty Rhodes, Bruiser Brody, Sting – what matters most in these instances is not the result of the many matches fought, but rather the spectacle that led up to these matches.  The matches themselve are also important, since they are a pay off for the build up and the beginning of a new exposition, but all historically important matches take place within a particular contextual moment, not just on the fly.  Raw’s main event tonight was an 8-man tag match between Flair/Michaels/Cena/Triple H Vs Big Show/Orton/Umaga/JBL.  The end had Ric Flair force WWE Champion Randy Orton submit to the figure four.  An ideal way to lead into Sunday’s event – Flair showing strength and Orton showing weakness.  Even though the outcomes truly do not matter, it is important that these matches appear to be competitive.  Flair can beat Michaels – Randy Orton might lose his title.  But even if Michaels loses and Orton somehow wins, next Monday’s Raw might have build up leading to Michaels taking on Orton even though Michaels lost.

March 23, 2008

Found photo

Filed under: random — montageman @ 5:55 pm

This photo was sent to me via picture message on my phone last week.  I have no idea who these people are, but they look quite happy.   To think all it took was the mis-typing of 1 digit for this to be sent to me rather than the rightful recipient.   I love text messaging for this reason – I also love my phone book for the same reason.  I almost never send a text or picture via manual entry of a phone number.  I live by my phone book.  If my cell phone dies, communication will cease.  Weird – I used to have an incredible memory for phone numbers.  Now, I rely 100% on my phone.  Laziness has set in, I guess, or maybe I just need to remember more important things…


March 18, 2008

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Filed under: videogames, wii — Tags: , , , , , — montageman @ 10:12 am

First of all, it is not normal for me to go out on the release date of anything to purchase or see it. I try to avoid opening nights of films, I’m not big on standing in line for something. The last time I waited in line was for the Wii a couple Christmases ago. The Smash Bros. franchise has been around since the days of Nintendo 64. A very easy game to pick up and play, Smash Bros is frenetic and has infinite replay value. I didn’t really play Smash Bros. for N64 much – I started playing Smash Bros. Melee on the Gamecube. Part of what I like best about Nintendo and their games is the small learning curve for initial enjoyment, meaning a novice can pick up just about any Nintendo game and play around for a few minutes to get the gist of what’s happening. For example, just from watching for a few minutes, my near 80 year old grandmother was able to play Wii Bowling with us. The ease of play is even better on the Wii due to the physical nature of the games. When limited physicality is imparted on these games i.e. actually swinging the Wii-mote to play Tennis or Golf, the learning curve switches from “you must hit A at just the right moment to hit the ball” to “it’s just like playing real tennis”. I use the limited qualifier because games like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero are actually much more complex given their use of total physicality along with their rhythm component.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl is excellent. An easy game to pick up and play as well as game rife with unlockable items (over 700 from what the dude at Gamestop told me) and game modes, Brawl has near infinite playability for single players as well as multi-players. Additionally, the game can be played online, but when we tried to play my brothers recently the game slowed down so much it was unplayable and we bailed on the idea. We haven’t tried again, but hopefully that will be fixed (or maybe it was a hardware issue on our side). We’ve played for roughly 6 hours thus far, so I have not experienced most of what the game has to offer. More to come as we work through the game.

March 4, 2008

Rock Band

Filed under: affect, play, videogames — Tags: , , , , , — montageman @ 2:17 am

I was given an Xbox 360 as a birthday present this year.  A wonderful gift, indeed, made even better because one of my brothers has let me borrow his copy of Rock Band with all of the accompanying instruments.  Essentially, Rock Band takes the Guitar Hero model of rhythm gaming further and adds drums and vocals.   What is great about these games (along with Dance Dance Revolution and the like) is there is an endless replay factor.  Even after you’ve scored 100% on a particular song, you can jump online and compete against an unlimited and ever growing number of players.  Furthermore, the game play of Rock Band does not require learning the Xbox controller scheme rather you must learn the guitar/drum/microphone scheme, which may be easier for those not familiar with controllers.  Similar to the Wii model of using the controller as a point of action, the player is actually doing the actions on screen.   Much different from games like Grand Theft Auto or Madden NFL 2008 where the player is using buttons to stand in for actions i.e. the A button shoots a gun or throws the football, Rock Band players are banging the drums, singing into the microphone, and strumming a guitar.  Thus engagement with the gamer is taken to a new level beyond the controller as representation – the A button is no longer the trigger.  Drum sticks are necessary to play Rock Band.   The importance of physical engagement in rhythm games complicates the relationship of the player to the controller and the game.

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