Friday, October 14, 2011

i'm not a star

i like rick ross.  a lot.  in fact, he's probably my favorite rapper around right now.  not necessarily the best, but he is by far the most entertaining in my eyes.

i don't know what that says about the state of rap music today, but it is what it is.  i got the idea to write about what i view to be a crucial time in rap as i was listening to lil' wayne the other day.  he was (as usual) making his claim as the best rapper alive.  i got to he really the best?  here's what i came up with.

lil' wayne is most definitely NOT the best rapper alive.  most prolific, probably.  funniest and most clever?  if not the best, he's definitely in the conversation.

in my estimation, the best one going right now is kanye west.  he also happens to be the most polarizing.  but i don't think anyone can deny that he has the grandest vision as to what his music can be.  no other rapper puts his thoughts and emotions out there like he does.  his music is his therapy, like i think the best art is.  kanye is rapper as artist in that he paints pictures and landscapes for us, and writes as crisply and creatively as the best novelists do.  but nobody wants to acknowledge that because his medium is not universally regarded as art.  which is a shame.

who else is in my list of the best?  lupe fiasco, eminem and jay-z are at the top.  kid cudi is there, and so is royce da 5'9".  i dig youngsters like meek mill, drake, and roscoe dash.  i think wiz khalifa and odd future* are overrated.  i think slim thug and chamillionaire need to come back soon.  i think outkast needs to get back to doing what they do best, which is to collaborate and not separate.  i think snoop needs to smoke something good and channel himself from 1992-1997, then release something new.  i think mike jones and paul wall should go away and never come back.  i wonder what happened to ludacris (busy acting, i guess), dmx (cocaine is a helluva drug), dr. dre (a tortured genius?) and nelly (who knows).  and i wish 2pac, notorious b.i.g. and pimp c were here to celebrate with us.

(*tyler the creator reminds me of a 3 year old who curses at his parents dinner party to get attention and try to "shock" them.)

right now, rap is at a fork in the road.  it's definitely more accepted in the main stream, but it's threatening to become unthreatening.  it needs to take a lesson from punk and go back to scaring people and making them tense.  the "what are they going to say next?" aspect is what's missing and is one of the biggest things kanye brings to the table.  and he knows it.  and he's smart about it.

where is the angst?  rap music used to be about speaking up about injustice and oppression.  these days, it's about cheap puns, money and cars.  those things are great, but one can only talk about their maybach in so many ways before people get the point and want to hear about something else.  tell a story, be creative.

where's the message in the music?  rap is making itself irrelevant as a social commentary.  it's a more accepted form of entertainment, which is good for the bottom line.  but for the conscience?  i guess that chapter remains to be written.  hopefully there's a kid listening to common, kid cudi or kanye right now that wants to be the next great voice of a generation.  my fingers are crossed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

jesus built my hot rod

those of you that know me are well aware that music is a huge part of my life.  the title of this entry comes from one of my favorite workout songs, performed by ministry. 

i haven't done this in a while, so i present to you another in my line of workout playlists.  as always, please feel free to share the songs that get your blood pumping and keep you jacked up while working out.  here we go...

white limo - foo fighters
got no shame - brother cane
feel good, inc. - gorillaz
can't tell me nothin' - kanye west
always on the run - lenny kravitz
spin the black circle - pearl jam
i'm not a star - rick ross
on a plain - nirvana
my own summer (shove it) - deftones
b.y.o.b. - system of a down
bleed american - jimmy eat world
the taste of ink - the used
corduroy - pearl jam

thoughts and/or suggestions?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

a moment to reflect and to remember...

september 11th, 2001 was a day that changed our world. i was 23 years old, out of college for a little over a month and not sure what to do with my life.  the world was in front of me, and over the course of the next few hours everything would change.

i woke up and turned the tv on and couldn't believe my eyes.  to this day it hurts to even think about the images i saw and what they meant.  i lost a lot of my innocence that day, but i also learned a lot about humanity and the strength of a nation that won't back down from any challenge.

i don't think i can truly out into words how proud i am to be an American, about how proud i am that we live in a place where we can think and say what we want.  we may not always agree, but at the end of the day, we're all Americans and we all want what's best for our great nation.

i hope that tomorrow you're able to tell a veteran, police office, or fireman how proud you are of the job they do; how without the sacrifices they make, we wouldn't be the country that we are.

this is my thank you.  i am forever grateful for the honorable job you do and for the oath you all have taken to protect us from harm and fight for our rights.  God Bless America.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

story of my life


1. The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with

sometimes i don't understand why we feel the need to constantly belittle everything we don't agree with.  i do it all the time, and it's something i'm working hard to stop.  is it something we're born with or something we learn?  it's the eternal nature vs. nurture debate, and i can't say what the answer is.

what i do know is that it makes me sick to my stomach when all i hear is complaining and the ones doing the complaining never seem to offer solutions.  they expect someone else to have the answer and all they want to do throw blame around.

i'm all for taking a stand for what you believe in, but do you have to always point a finger when it's not necessarily called for?

boom.  knowledge dropped.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


ahhh, if i could only get my toes in the water and my ass in the sand, things would be just about perfect.  i am loving life, i'll tell you that much.

things change when you start to look at life differently.  of course, a lot of that comes from the fact that i am literally a new man.  i've lost a small, adult woman.  that is to say, i am roughly 95 pounds lighter than i was at this point 5 months ago.  i have a new lease on life, and it's funny how that will make a man appreciate the little things.

i've been to new orleans and galveston the last two weekends on distinctly different vacations.  new orleans was to get away for my 11th anniversary with the most beautiful woman i've ever laid eyes on.  and we got to go with two of our best friends in the world, to help us share the occasion.  it was a wonderful weekend of drinking, eating and sightseeing.

galveston was the family vacation, with my 2 little hellions.  i love those kids more than life itself, but i think they were specifically programmed to find my last nerve and jump up and down on it.  having said that, it was still awesome getting to spend time with them away from home.  they love it anytime we get to leave the city, so they had a blast.  especially when they got to go to schlitterbahn and moody gardens.

and this weekend will be an entirely different getaway, as i head to college station for my annual fantasy football draft with my best friends.  this will be daddy and his stupid friends time.  hopefully nobody gets arrested.  just kidding, honey.  i hope.

so, there is a distinctly positive outlook on the horizon.  life is good today.  life is good today...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

sick of myself

my favorite matthew sweet song, and one of my all time 90's favorites is this entry's inspiration. the song has nothing to do with this, but the title is appropriate considering the information i'm about to divulge.

a little over 4 months ago, i weighed the most i ever have. i was literally sick of myself and i knew something had to give. either i was going to be dead by 35 or i was going to stop being selfish and make some changes.

407 pounds does weird things to a person. it makes them feel completely worthless. it makes them wonder whether they deserve to live. it makes them question why they can't seem to make seemingly simple decisions to stop eating. but most of all, it makes them feel disgusted with what they see in the mirror, no matter what's on the periphery.

fast forward to now. there's about 90 pounds removed from that 407. it's a different person occupying my body and my attitude is pretty much that i can conquer the world. granted, i know there's a long way to go. but the hard part is over. wrestling with the decision seems so stupid now.

it's like someone handing you 2 guns. one's real and it's loaded. the other's a water gun, also loaded. then they tell you, "okay, pick one and point it at your head; now pull the trigger." it's a no brainer (pardon the pun). but when you're in the position i was in, that loaded gun just seemed like it couldn't hurt me. until one day, you fire a shot into the air and you realize "holy sh*t, that thing will kill me."

so here i am. wiser, stronger, more focused. the world is mine. i hope you guys are ready for the ride.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

little wing

listening to the srv and hendrix classic has got me to thinking about how precious life is and how it can be taken from us in the blink of an eye. stevie ray is my favorite guitarist of all time and i still remember the day he died. a few years later, i would hear about kurt cobain's passing, then tupac shakur, then layne staley and the list goes on.

musicians and other celebrities dying seem to hit me pretty hard. but what about the other so-called "regular" people who leave us unexpectedly everyday? where's the feelings of sadness for those people?

i guess what i'm saying is that we should treat all human life the same way - christopher wallace was just another person before he was the notorious b.i.g. - should i honor him any differently if he was chris the mailman as opposed to chris, aka big poppa?

people's music and art touch us and inspire us, but so do those who teach us and relate to us every day on a more personal level.

just something to think about...

Friday, June 3, 2011

tiny dancer

sunday is my wife's birthday. i've known her since we were 11 years old. we started dating 18 years ago. and we've been married for almost 11 years.

there's nothing about me that she doesn't know, and vice versa. we are that couple that completes each other's thoughts, but we've always been careful about not crossing over into creepy or gross lovey-dovey, schmoopy territory.

this is my attempt to explain to her (and those of you reading) how much she has impacted my life. i try to be a better man, husband and father because i'm scared to disappoint her in any way. if she wasn't here with me tomorrow, i wouldn't be either.

some things transcend explanation or simple logic and i think our relationship is one of those things. i try to make her mixtapes (or cd's) to give her some insight, but they never fully capture all of the emotions running through my little brain.

i've written prose to try and adequately express my feelings, but there's a disconnect between my brain and the pen in my hand that could never allow those thoughts to mean the same thing that they mean in my head.

so my actions are ultimately all i have, and i hope those actions do some justice to the way i feel. i know i'm not perfect, but to me she is. and i'll do my best to make every year she celebrates better than the one that came before it.

happy birthday to the perfect woman. love you.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

read my mind

this kindle thing might be one of the coolest things ever. i bought my wife one for her birthday about 2 years ago and since then i've used it a couple of times. but the coolest thing was when they made an app for it on the iPhone and more importantly, the iPad. now i essentially have my own kindle, but with all the other badass things the iPad can do.

when i had jury duty a couple of weeks ago, i broke out the iPhone and did some reading. it's funny how many people lose that passion for reading. when i was younger, i couldn't read enough. once i got to college, i lost that love. now i'm hoping to re"kindle" it. you see what i did there?

so with that in mind, i set out to make a list of a few books i want to read by the end of the year. feel free to join me on my quest and maybe we can discuss once we're done. without further adieu, here's my list:

collected stories by john cheever
blood meridian by cormac mccarthy
a sport and a pastime by james salter
a sense of where you are by john mcphee
winter's bone by daniel woodrell
women by charles bukowski
american tabloid by james ellroy
so long, see you tomorrow by william maxwell

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

one man army

one of my favorites from what i think is an underrated band, our lady peace. i chose this because i feel like i am a one man army sometimes, even though i know that to not be the case. there are plenty of people on my side, but i often feel like i'm the only one fighting on the front lines. however, i know that's also not true as there are many of my friends who have taken paths similar to mine.

there are definitely times when i'm frustrated, though. this past weekend was one of those times. we were eating at rainforest cafe - the kids love it, the parents not so much. the food is okay, but the prices can be downright ridiculous. case in point, we ordered 4 soft drinks (2 were included in the kids meal price), 2 kids meals, an appetizer of chips and queso, an appetizer size quesadillas and a side salad. it was $50.

my frustration came in when i ordered a side salad, ate less than half, and paid $7 for it. i wanted something else, but couldn't justify spending $10-15 for something i knew i couldn't finish half of.

so, i know i'm better off than before and i'm truly grateful for the opportunity i was given. but i am still getting adjusted to this and frustration is one of the many emotions i entertain on a daily basis when it comes to food.

it's like a girlfriend you know isn't good for you. the relationship is toxic and everyone around you can see it except for you. you're blinded by how pretty she is and by how good she can make you feel before she lets you down again. in the end, you have to take drastic measures to ensure your survival. that's what i've done. i didn't trust myself around food, that's the bottom line.

so here we are roughly 8 weeks later, almost 65 lbs lost and starting to get some of my long lost confidence and swagger back. i still can't eat pizza, hamburgers, pasta, most dairy products, eggs and the list goes on. but that's okay and i'm slowly figuring out what i can handle. and things will get better - it's always darkest before the light. and i know i'm not a one man army, even if i feel like it sometimes...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

roll away your stone

it's been a while.  glad to be back, though. i chose this title for a couple of reasons - first, it's a great song by one of my favorite new(er) bands; and second, it's kind of a metaphor for opening up to life.

i got a message from a friend of mine this morning asking some basic questions about my surgery and if i regretted anything. as someone who has struggled with their weight for their entire adult life, i don't regret anything.

i have tried every diet, taken pills, tried out for reality shows - you name it, i've done it. after struggling all those years, i made the decision to have surgery. some people say i took the easy way out. to them, i say "you try it". i've made huge lifestyle changes because i knew i couldn't do it on my own. i willingly took the fork out of my mouth, so to speak. it was my decision to make a change. it was my decision to know that i'll never be able to eat the same way again.

so, would i do it over again if i had to? you bet your a$$ i would.

i didn't get chosen to be on a reality show. if i had, things might have been different. but i didn't, so i made the choice i had to make, knowing myself and my habits/routines. i saved my life, and i don't care what anybody says or thinks because they don't live my life. end of rant.

so, in summary, i am happy. i would do this again. i am thankful for the prayers and kind words of the people who have supported me. i don't care what the haters say. why? 'cause haters gon' hate...

Monday, March 28, 2011

feeling good...

this weekend was the kind of weekend that i live for. 

it kicked off friday night at a longtime friend's wedding.  it was outside, but it was very mild weather so it wasn't bad at all.  we had a nice time catching up with more old friends and enjoying good food.

saturday, i got to spend some quality time with my baby girl.  i call her my baby, but she's almost 3 now.  i guess i'm the kind of daddy that will always view her as my "baby".  we watched toy story 3 and took an awesome 2 hour nap.  then my mother in law came over so kathleen and i could go to dinner with my oldest friend (oldest as in longest time being friends, not age) mel house and his wife, melanie.  we checked out el real, a new tex-mex place in montrose that's been getting a lot of (well-deserved) hype.  great dinner and great conversation with awesome people.

we had a great morning at church on sunday, discussing john chapter 4. it is really cool to know we are still here after almost a year. though small, we're growing and slowly finding our place.

after church, the family headed to cadillac bar for brunch with our friends jay, katherine and jon.  cadillac bar is my favorite brunch spot and it didn't disappoint.  we came home to rest for a little while, then it was off to baseball practice with my little man.  he's getting so big, i don't know what we're going to do with him.  i'm so proud of him and how far he's come with baseball.

i am truly blessed to live the life i live.  great friends, great family and knowledge that my God is an awesome God makes for peace in an otherwise messy world.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

a change is gonna come

it's been far to long since i've been to this neck of the interwebs.  but i'm back and i'm sticking around for a while.  i know i've neglected this by working on other projects, but i realize i have to stay true to myself, so i'm back.

and i'm back with some news.  i'm having bariatric surgery next friday, 4/1.  so in the coming months, there will be a lot less of me.  but still many opinions to be shared.

also coming up, i'll be sharing my list of my favorite female rock bands, more of my favorite songs of all time and whatever else grabs my fancy.  so please stick around and i'll try to do more to make this worth your time.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

goodnight, elisabeth

favorite songs entry #2 is counting crows with "goodnight, elisabeth".   counting crows became popular when i was in high school, but i never really got into them much then.  i was too busy listening to my angst filled music - you know, nirvana, pearl jam, weezer and more rap than i can remember.  but when i got to college, i started listening to them more and more and they became one of my favorite bands.

"goodnight elisabeth" is my favorite crows song.  there are others i think are unbelievable, but there's something about this one.  it's definitely slower than most of their others and has a mellow, almost depressing vibe.  but i think that's what really draws me to it; when i'm depressed, i listen to it and i always start to feel better.  it's tone is plaintive, but it has a soothing and ultimately healing effect on me.

i know many of my peers are too cool to listen to counting crows.  they will dismiss them as posers, hipsters or whatever other term they deem appropriate.  they are definitely not hard rocking band.  what they are is melodic, cohesive and smart.  frontman/songwriter adam duritz is underrated as a lyricist and knows how to work his words.  but i will admit, his dreads are terrible.

on to my favorite lyrics of the song, two lines which really stand out to me.  "we couldn't all be cowboys, some of us are clowns" - that just about sums it up for me.  we all have a place and purpose.  it may not be what we want, but it's what we've got and we have to try to make the best of it.  my favorite lyric is "me, i just say my prayers and i just light myself on fire and walk out on the wire once again."  we keep going and we live to fight another day.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

feel good inc.

this is the first entry in an ambitious new series that i'm starting - my favorite songs of all time.  pretty bold, i know.  but this will be more than just a list.  i'm going to explore my feelings toward the song in question, what emotions i feel when i hear it and try to generalize why it's one of my favorites.

we begin with "in your eyes" by peter gabriel.  my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) and i were watching say anything, we were probably seniors in high school at the time and we decided that it would be our song.  we even danced to it at our wedding and whenever it comes on the radio i always think of her.

different people have different takes on the meaning of the song, but that's what makes music so great.  it's open to interpretation so you can make it about anything you want, even if it's not what the songwriter intended.

my view of "in your eyes" is that the narrator is saying his love for this person is what keeps him sane.  wherever he may go, he always ends up back with her where he belongs.  many people see this as a testament of faith, a relationship with God.  i can definitely see that side, but for my purposes i'll stick with the romantic love view. 

this song makes me think about all the ways i love my wife and how lucky i am to have her in my life.  i feel like a teenager whenever i hear it because i'm instantly transported to the early times in our relationship when everything was new.

the years have changed us but i still love her as much, if not more, than i did back then.  and "in your eyes" reminds me of that every time.  it's a great song by an underrated artist from a movie that helped shape my views of love.

Friday, January 7, 2011

simply the best

Best of Houston – Food Edition

Here are my favorites around town. Please take into account, I haven’t been everywhere so there very well could be better out there. I just haven’t found it yet.

Sandwich – Bahn Mi at Tropical Smoothie and Sandwich

I’ve had good bahn mi sandwiches before, most notably at Les Givral. But this sandwich ups the ante with a fried egg on top. Combine that with the fresh cilantro, jalapeno and carrots and you’ve got my favorite sandwich in town.

Dessert – Apple pie at Heights West

Simply put, the best apple pie I’ve ever encountered. I won’t spoil the surprise, so please go to Heights West and check out this awesome creation.

Chile con queso – Tony’s Mexican Restaurant

This will be a hotly contested category. Everyone has a favorite, but to me Tony’s is the best. The queso is creamy and delicious with a hint of spice. It’s also the perfect texture, something I think is key when determining a good queso.

Burger – Rancor Burger at Petrol Station

Let me get this out of the way first. This burger is not good for you. I wouldn’t recommend eating more than 2-3 a year, if that many. But when you do, you’re in for a treat. It starts off with an awesome homemade bun. Then, you have your ½ lb patty with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and a fried egg. I see a trend here with me and these fried eggs. Anyway, I get my Rancor with mayo, tomato, pickles, onions, bacon, cheese and the aforementioned egg. No room for lettuce here, my friend.

Chicken Sandwich – (tie) The Yardbird at Armadillo Palace and The Clucker at Miller’s Café

Each is distinct – the Yardbird comes with Mayo, avocado, cheese and bacon; the Clucker is dressed with BBQ sauce, with everything else optional. I prefer mine with grilled onions, bacon and swiss cheese. Both are delicious in their own way. Try them and you won’t be disappointed.

Brunch – Cadillac Bar

This is obviously personal preference. There are many great spots for brunch, but for sheer number of options, Cadillac Bar can’t be beat. Ever since my favorite brunch spot, Jalapenos, closed a few years ago, Cadillac Bar has been there to pick up the slack. They have a little bit of everything, from typical breakfast fare such as waffles, omelets, bacon, eggs benedict and chilaquiles to enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas and desserts like tres leches, flan and an assortment of postres and cakes.

Pizza – Pink’s

With apologies to my runner-up Raia’s, there’s something special about Pink’s. Can’t put my finger on it, but it’s plain awesome. However, Raia’s thin crust is to die for.

Ice Cream – Mexican Vanilla at Amy’s

Sure, the place is run by dirty hippies who would probably rather be playing hacky sack, but their ice cream is something from Heaven. Creamy, smooth, delicious. But please remember to keep the hairnet on, dreads…

Steam Table – Simo’s Diner

Simo’s is old school. Nothing fancy, just straight up goodness. Their steam table includes salad, entrée, 2 sides and bread for anywhere between $5.50 and $7.50. They have awesome chicken fried steak, baked chicken and turkey & dressing. But what really sets them apart is they menu selection, which includes a solid gyro. Give Simo’s a try – you’ll like it.

Breakfast Tacos – Balderas Tamale Factory

A hidden gem on the Northwest side at Jones Rd. and Grant Rd. Their eggs are buttery, the cheese is melty and has the perfect amount of salt, and the tortillas are phenomenal.

Chinese Buffet – Hunan Chef II (I-10 Location)

Everything is fresh, nothing is ever left waiting to be filled (food or drink) and it’s always crowded. That equals a winner for me. But beyond that, the food just tastes better – it’s seasoned well and you don’t feel like you’re eating spoonfuls of MSG.

Grocery Store-Prepared Food – HEB

Hands down the best place to stop when you need to pick something up on the way home, but don’t have the time to wait anywhere else. They have a great selection, from steak to chicken dishes and fish as well. The sides are fresh and they have many healthy options as well. Did I mention it’s only $5.99 to $7.99 for an entrée and 2 sides?

So there you have it. Any comments?