Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Breaking News: It’s 2011

New Year's drunks

Photo © 2010 Cassie Melnikow

Well, in case you haven’t noticed it’s a new year! As usual, I’d like to give my fond farewell to the 12 months that just left us by wrapping up the best and worst shit I experienced during it. Instead of making one of those Feature websites, though, I’m keeping this thing to just a small post. This one’s been wanting to come out for a couple weeks now. I finally put in an hour and knocked it out. Enjoy (or don’t)!

Albums
Best: Elton John & Leon Russell – The Union (2010) – Dad actually turned me onto this one and I begrudgingly played it at work as I had nothing else to listen to at the moment. I liked it upon the first spin, but it wasn’t until the second and third listens that I truly appreciated it for what it was – a showcase of fantastic, solid songwriting from top to bottom.
Runner Up: Kanye West – Late Registration (2005)

Worst: Avenged Sevenfold – Sounding The Seventh Trumpet (2001) – I wanted to give some more modern rock a chance and Avenged Sevenfold was somewhere on the list. Unfortunately, Random.org picked this album for me. Well, “Sounding The Seventh Trumpet” has to be a joke. Bad screaming, amateur “melodies,” and noticeable mistakes on an album filled with way-too samey-sounding songs.
Runner Up: DMX – Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood (1998)

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Basketball Games
Best: Atlanta Hawks vs. Dallas Mavericks (2/26) – A phenomenal, triple-overtime game with two near-equal opponents – in the Top 5 of all games I’ve ever seen! Jason Kidd had a monster game, leading the Mavs back from down 15 points with 8 minutes to go. At one point, the crafty Kidd even ran into Atlanta’s coach, who had stepped onto the court. The result was two free throws and possession. I’ve never seen that ever! Wild, wild game.
Runner Up: Dallas Mavericks vs. Denver Nuggets (3/29)

Worst: Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trail Blazers (1/30) – Mavericks lose to an injury-decimated Blazers team who were on the tail end of a back to back. Ugly game that didn’t need to happen.
Runner Up: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks (1/3)

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Books
Best: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner – Freakonomics (2005) – I’m only going to do the best book of 2010 since I read just six and pretty much liked them all. Freakonomics just wins over Sex, Drugs and Coca Puffs as I appreciated the similar passion behind it that I see in my own NBA Sim projects. Eye-opening book, even though I wish they went a little deeper into the statistics and research of each essay.

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Comics
Best: Infinite Crisis (2005-2006) – Just like the books section, I only read 6 new comics this year and pretty much enjoyed every one. The best was Infinite Crisis which is a sequel to the legendary 1985 Crisis On Infinite Earths storyline. What’s great is that the sacrificial protagonists from that first book become the villains in this. Great, though dense read and fantastic artwork.

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Live Shows
Best: Kramer’s Reality Tour (1/2) – Ever since Seinfeld did the episode on Kenny Kramer’s reality tour I have always wanted to do it and 2010 was the year I finally did! Brandon, Steve, an unnamed officer, and I braved the chilly weather in January to board a bus hosted by the inspiration behind Kramer and see … a couple of places Larry David referenced in his show. To be honest, this wasn’t the most electrifying thing I’ve ever been a part of, but it was unique and spent with a couple of Seinfeld-obsessed friends so this one takes the cake.
Runner Up: Promises, Promises (7/30)

Worst: Next To Normal (7/24) – Went here with some friends who came up for the weekend. Usually, I’m not a big musical fan – the acting is over the top (as it has to be to convey to a giant room full of people), and the music is usually sub par (emphasis on advancing a story in the lyrics over interesting musical ideas). Well, this one was also way too melodramatic as multiple scene cliffhangers ended in Full House-style with someone running to their room crying. Ugh.
Runner Up: Comic Strip Live (6/5)

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Movies
Best: For A Few Dollars More (1965) – Obviously, everyone is pretty familiar with the awesome The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, but I didn’t see the first two installments in this trilogy until this year. And, wow, good shit! Tons of style, great characters built from very little background, and it’s just very entertaining watching each of the three camps trade the upper hand the whole time. Highly recommended.
Runner Up: Platoon (1986)

Worst: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) – I saw the original Mortal Kombat movie when it came out during the summer of 1995 and loved it. Upon successive viewings, it doesn’t hold up all that well. Still, I had always wanted to see the sequel just due to the nostalgia surrounding the first movie. Well, as I’m learning more and more, decisions based purely on nostalgia usually turn out to be terrible ones. I was cringing in the first 5 minutes of this movie and only managed to sit through the whole thing as a challenge of endurance.
Runner Up: The Expendables (2010)

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Restaurants
Best: Swig [Bar] (3/26) New York, NY
I’ll keep this category brief and only mention the best place. Swig is a bar located just blocks away from our place and is a great place to grab a drink with visitors. The atmosphere falls right in between a dive bar and an upscale bar – perfect for this comic book reader in old man clothes!

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TV Shows
Best: The Civil War (1990) – I recall watching a few episodes on video while staying at my aunt’s house sometime around 1994 but I didn’t seriously pay attention until I got these through Netflix this year. Wow. This series is 20 year old and it’s still breathtaking – the production values are incredible, it’s both educational and entertaining and, most impressively, it makes the entire setting of the 1860’s come alive. Now, I can’t wait to get through Ken Burns’ Baseball.
Runner Up: Sober House: Season 2 (2010)

Worst: Amazing Stories: Season 1 (1985-86) – This was a series I remember watching a few episodes of back in its original run when I lived in Long Beach, California. I’d never seen it since so I only had a few, hazy memories of it. Unfortunately, those memories weren’t very illustrative of the entire show. The episodes I remembered were alright … everything else was garbage.
Runner Up: Celebrity Rehab: Season 3 (2010)

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Video Games
Best: Heavenly Sword [PS3] (2007) – I have a giant list of games I need to get through and to make sure I actually play all of them, I’m going in chronological order. So, I finally got around to the crop of games that came out right around the time the PS3 first debuted. Heavenly Sword was one of these and was spectacular. Interesting fighting gameplay, a gripping story, and the best acting I’ve ever seen in a game, it also was relatively short (about 9 hours). Great, great game.
Runner Up: Bully [PS2] (2006)

Worst: TitanWars [iPhone] (2010) – Gotta be honest: I don’t remember a thing about this one. I was in a phase of downloading a bunch of random, free iPhone games and these two were pieces of shit that lasted less than a day on my phone.
Runner Up: Bowman Attack [iPhone] (2010)

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Video Game YouTubes
Best: Metal Gear [MSX] (1987) – Video games are, and have always been, a huge hobby of mine but I’m finding that I have less and less time to play all the games I want to. So, to satisfy this demand I’ve grown to love watching people beat games on YouTube. Anyway, this game is NOT the one for the NES – it’s the original one for the Japanese MSX system that the NES version was based on. Fucking awesome game, especially impressive for 1987.
Runner Up: Ultimate Spider-Man [PS2] (2005)

Worst: Brawl Brothers [SNES] (1993) – A lot of the games I watch on YouTube are old games that I either don’t have the equipment or patience to play. Brawl Brothers was a game my brother and I rented some weekend back in 1993 and never beat. As such, it was one I had to see again. Mistake – this thing is boring and shows how far games have come in 15 years.
Runner Up: Splatterhouse 2 [Genesis] (1992)

    Site Updates:

  • Added Grand Theft Auto IV [PS3] (2008) to Currently Enjoying
  • Removed The Bravery – The Sun and the Moon (2007) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed Elton John – Caribou (1974) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added Crash Kings (2009) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added George Harrison – Dark Horse (1974) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added The Cape (2011) to Currently Enjoying

Current Mood: Rocking at Rusted Hero show tonight emoticon Rocking at Rusted Hero show tonight

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The Lost Word

Hmm ... any type of theme being portrayed here?

© 2010 ABC Studios

Warning: I’ll try to steer clear of spoilers, but if you haven’t seen the final episode you may want to wait to read this blistering [stanus.butt] review.

In case you weren’t already aware, I’m a Lost lover, so naturally last night’s final episode was kind of a big deal. Unlike the last, huge tv-ending event (Sopranos), I was emotionally invested in all the characters from Oceanic flight 815.

To celebrate the grand closing, Cassie scored some tickets to a meetup Lost group that was having a huge party in Brooklyn. One of the members had actually secured a famous “lost” Brooklyn subway station as the venue and we would all enter it in a hatch-like way (via a manhole in the street). It sounded really interesting and cool so I was a bit stoked.

We took the hour-long ride from our place to downtown Brooklyn and managed to find our way to the designated intersection but we didn’t see anyone who looked like a Lost fan. Worse, we didn’t notice any manhole-lifting equipment around, either. Well, to be honest, we had arrived just 2 minutes before the time said we were supposed to get there so we thought maybe they started early. But then … why would the equipment be gone? It all seemed fishy.

Cassie called the number on the tickets but the person answering stated they had no involvement with the event. Ok, weird. Now we thought we had fallen for a scam, so we took the ride back home. Quick side note as Cassie later discovered the event had been cancelled as of Monday and she had somehow missed this small, insignificant detail.

So we watched the final episode on our hot tv – half an hour into it to burn the ridiculous amount of commercials – and it was just as cool as some silly, Brooklyn subway viewing. Far more appropriate, anyway, as we had started this series watching on my laptop alone in my New Jersey bedroom. Even though Lost was a super-popular show I never really watched it in a party setting – it was best served isolated and in the dark much like the survivor’s setting.

Regarding the actual show, itself, I was pretty much pleased with everything. Sure, it was a bit too melodramatic in the relationship department for me – as final episodes all seem to be – but I enjoyed the fact that they didn’t attempt to answer all the questions. Why should the final episode be any different than the others? I was always kind of let down by the big reveals throughout the run of the show and enjoyed all the cliffhangers so much more, anyway.

Even though I’m very non-religious, I didn’t mind the Christian overtones to the whole closing. Just because I’m not into it doesn’t mean some artist can’t believe it or put it in his or her work. Whatever, it was interesting even if it was silly. A belief in an afterlife certainly wasn’t sillier than polar bears on a jungle island and smoke monsters!

I’ll wrap it up here even though I haven’t said a whole lot. Basically, it wasn’t as different or disappointing as the Seinfeld episode, nor was it as pretentious as the Sopranos. I’m trying to think of a better series ending actually … maybe Quantum Leap? I haven’t had a show be as big in my life as Lost in a long time, which is saying something, so it’s a little bittersweet to see it go.

But, fuck, now I have a lot more video gaming time! Thank you, Oceanic Six ;)!

    Site Updates:

  • Updated blog IDs for July 2009 posts
  • Removed Mary J. Blige – What’s The 411? (1992) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed Arcade Fire – Neon Bible (2007) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added Cheap Trick – Sgt. Pepper’s Live (2009) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added DMX – Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood (1998) to Currently Enjoying
  • Posted May 19, May 20, May 21, May 22, and May 23 journal entries to The Shack: 10th Anniversary | 2000-2010
  • Created Photos page for The Shack: 10th Anniversary | 2000-2010
  • Removed Cheap Trick – Sgt. Pepper’s Live (2009) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed DMX – Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood (1998) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added Kanye West – Late Registration (2005) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added The Cranberries – Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (1993) to Currently Enjoying
  • Removed Lost: Season 6 (2010) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed The National Basketball League: A History, 1935-1949 (2009) from Currently Enjoying

Current Mood: Applause emoticon Applause

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Running in the Cold

Post-run victory poses

Photos © 2010 Cassie Melnikow, Stan Syckes

I just had a whirlwind of a weekend and, for once, I mean this in a good way!

I had President’s Day off (this past Monday) so I was already looking at a 3-day weekend but I also had another ace up my sleeve. During my Christmas vacation last year, I had to “work” two 4-hour slots even though I was away from the office. I parlayed this into a carryover vacation day and decided to use it last Friday to form a superhuman 4-day weekend! Here’s a few of the highlights:

  • Friday – we anticipated everywhere on Sunday to be crazy as 1) it would be Valentine’s Day and 2) most everyone would have the next day off. So we switched dates and made Friday the defacto V-Day. After eating lunch at our favorite hole-in-the-wall Italian place, Ottomanelli’s Cafe, we hit up the Guggenheim. I really liked the architecture but was unimpressed by the art – it seemed like hardly anything was there and most of the pieces were cubism (one of my least liked periods). The weirdest part of the whole thing, however was the “performance art” happening right in the lobby. Two actors were slowly making out for the full two hours we were there. Really creepy.

    After exiting the Gug, we walked through Central Park which was still covered in last week’s snowfall. It was very peaceful, even though the ice and snow gave dog owners a great excuse not to pick up dog poop and there was a suspicious amount of yellow snow on the paths!

  • Saturday – Took it easy. Did a few errands, played a shit load of video games, watched the Olympics opening ceremony and the All-Star Saturday Night games. I erupted in my pantelones when Dirk won the Shooting Stars contest for Team Texas!

  • Sunday – We woke up at the crack of dawn (7:45am), got dressed as warm as we could, and headed out to Prospect Park in Brooklyn for the Valentine’s 5K Run. It was my first race of any kind – and I could count the number of times I’ve run 3 miles in my life on one hand – but Cassie and I both did a lot better than we expected. I finished the full lap around the park in 27:27 (my practice run on the treadmill Friday was just a hair over 30 minutes) and came in 58th place, though I started way in the back and wasn’t looking to go fast. It was actually a lot of fun and I’m glad I did it, but I think I’d enjoy races more during warmer weather. The picture above is Cassie and I putting on our victory poses post-race!

    After a well-needed (and super lazy) 3-hour nap, I woke up and watched the NBA All-Star game. It was fun and stupid all at the same time – so it was pretty typical of these games (see here, here, here, and here for further proof).

  • Monday – Uh … I played even more video games. There was no stopping me! I vegged, watched TV, and prepared for my second straight 4-day work week. Bonus!

    Site Updates:

  • Removed Primus – The Brown Album (1997) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Hard Promises (1981) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added Movies to Best/Worst of 2009 feature

Current Mood: Rested emoticon Rested

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Super Bowling

A bunch of sweaty, spandex-wearing men pile on top of each other

BREAKING NEWS: The Super Bowl was played last Sunday!

It seems to be that for the past decade I’ve flip-flopped my Super Bowl watching activities. Either I’ve gone all out, attending large parties filled with many people, food and beer or I’ve sat inside my place by myself and had it on in the background.

Well, this year Cassie and I were invited to our friends’ (The Bess’) place to watch a little football and eat a shitload. Since Cassie’s Indianapolis Colts were in the contest, she went in full support – shirt, pants, scarf, and jersey all emblazoned with the horseshoe logo. I managed to fit myself into one of her Colts t-shirts and called it a day. Because of the weather, a few people decided to bail on the party, though it was great to finally meet their 13-month old future rock star, Dylan, for the first time. I’ve only seen him in blurry iPhone photos and it was fun to see him in person (though most of the night he was afraid of me and instantly in love with Cassie).

Aside from drinking a ton of beer (holy shit, those pre- and sometimes post-band practice bar trips are upping my tolerance considerably!), we played a gambling game where everyone is assigned random points. So, if I were to get 0-7, that meant that at the end of any quarter, if the integer values of the scores ended with 0-7, I’d be a winner. It was slightly more complicated than that but if you’ve never played it (and I don’t know the name), I’ll spare you the details.

Anyway, I’m sad to say it was a bad night for team Gatito as we never won in our gambling game and the Colts ultimately succumbed to … something. To tell you the truth, I know I was in front of a TV for 4 hours but I can barely remember anything I actually saw on it. I was having too much fun in the meantime, I guess.

NEXT POST (a teaser!!!!!!!!!!!): The return of the band! Interesting updates await …

    Site Updates:

  • Added Comics and Live Shows to Best/Worst of 2009 feature
  • Removed Hall and Oates – War Babies (1974) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added B-Ball’s Best Kept Secret (1994) and The Black Crowes – The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1992) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added Twitter feed to sidebar
  • Added Primus – The Brown Album (1997) to Currently Enjoying
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MINI BLOG: Tool Academy 2

Tool Academy: Season 2 (2009)
Well … if I’m going to completely lame up stanus.butt why not do it in style and make my first TV review about Tool Academy 2. That’s right, I watched all (well, most) of the show about guys who had to go into therapy and perform tasks to prove they weren’t tools to their girlfriends. The trailers for it really had me thinking it was going to be a rung below even the Brett Michaels love show fare, but I actually enjoyed myself. If it’s going to be reality TV, it must involve fuck ups and mental cases for me to stay tuned. [3/5] Liked It

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Viewing Review

Yep … this site is going to start being a lot more reviewy. I’m falling into a period of my life where I do the same things over and over again (work, play guitar, play basketball, watch basketball, talk about basketball, dream about Dirk Nowitzki) so I’m going to pepper this thing (extremely liberally) with what I think of all the entertainment I experience.

At least that’s the plan for now until my band starts gigging and then things will get cool.

Maybe.

Anyway, the way I rate TV shows and movies is pretty similar to how I rate albums. Ok, actually they just use a similar scale and have none of the OCD-like 2-part system. Since I’m a card-carrying member (and lover) of Netflix, I use their system for movies:

  • 1 – Hated It
  • 2 – Didn’t Like It
  • 3 – Liked It
  • 4 – Really Liked It
  • 5 – Loved It

Whew … now that we’re done with that uber-important information, just know that I do the same thing for TV shows … except I rate each episode and take the average!!!! What the hell is wrong with me?

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The Future: What Screen Do You Got?

I just finished watching someone play through the entirety of Final Fantasy X (2001 Playstation 2 game) on YouTube – 16 hours of “entertainment.” I only put that in quotes for your protection as I’m sure anyone but myself would find this extremely boring.

FFX was a game I fondly remember playing during my senior year of college but one in which I got completely stuck on at the very end. I struggled for a month trying to defeat this one boss, but you can only beat your head against a brick wall so many times and the game was finally discarded to make room for the next game. I mean studying. … Did anyone believe that last sentence?

Anyway, I bring this up because it has dawned on me that I now watch more of my visual entertainment on YouTube rather than on my TV (which is fucking awesome, by the way). And most of the reason I do this is because YouTube has the content I want. While regular TV channels show crappy reality shows, dance shows, talent shows, and unfunny, lame sitcoms YouTube is showing what happened at the end of a game I never could finish five years ago. It’s showing me old NBA games from the 60’s and 70’s.

And, of course, YouTube has brought Chris Chan into my life.

So, until the 2010 NBA season begins (the best chance TV has got at getting my attention), I get the feeling I’m going to be sitting in front of my computer at home rather than sitting in front of my TV. Although, hell, with NBA League Pass, I can watch any of those game online, too.

Current Mood: Wowed emoticon Wowed

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  • Zepmoon
    Thursday, September 17th, 2009 at 15:02 | #1

    Agree – that there Internets is the future of TV.

TWITTER: Full DVR

Result of a 4-day weekend away: DVR at 96% capacity!

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The Behemoth

Photo © 2009 Stan Syckes

As I mysteriously alluded to in the last edition of [stanus.butt], there was a large, new purchase that occurred at the new apartment. Cassie and I have gone all in (to debt, that is) towards a purchase of a 46 inch, Samsung backlit LCD HDTV. We found a really great deal on Amazon, and it arrived super fast. They initially had it ready for us last Thursday – but neither of us were going to be home – so they moved it back to Saturday.

Unfortunately, the majority of our weekend was spent performing the final painting/cleaning touches to our old apartment. If all goes according to plan we turn in our keys tomorrow and receive a healthy security deposit back (that should go great at paying off that beast of a tv).

Also, before you ask, no, I haven’t set up my PS3 up to it yet, much less simmed any NBA games on it! All this giant screen has beamed into our room so far is a lot of Cops and VH1 reality programming (in glorious high definition). But perhaps I’ll get some gaming and better show-watchin’ in during this week. KEEP A HAPPY THOUGHT!!!!

    Site Updates

  • Added Sub Menu to Albums page of musicDB to choose between album types
  • Added lyrics legend to recording pages of musicDB

Current Mood: Ecstatic emoticon Ecstatic

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  • Zepmoon
    Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009 at 08:07 | #1

    Very nice! Good luck with the move.

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Holy Running Batman!

A quick break between singer audition blogs to recap what else I’m up to …

  • Batman – Over a year ago I entered a pact with El Stevedore about purchasing old TV show series. We were both huge fans of Batman (the 1966 TV series) and The Wonder Years but neither are offered as full DVD collections. So, we did some research and found people who had taped every episode and copied them to DVD. I would get Batman, he’d get Wonder Years, and then we’d switch when finished.

    Well, I got caught up with other things like my old band, the NBA, and Lost but Stever didn’t wait for me. In fact, after watching all of The Wonder Years, he impatiently got his own copy of Batman. Meanwhile, I’ve finally started to watch these bad boys, now. So far, the show is way better than I had remembered. I have watched some of my favorite childhood shows (Quantum Leap, Danger Mouse, Thundercats) post-childhood and none have measured up to the memories I have of them. Well, readers, Batman may be the exception! You have to be able to operate in a camp atmosphere (and I specifically have to toss out my “comics must be treated seriously” film adaptation expectation) to fully appreciate (and just get through) each episode but there are gems here: great acting (really!), classic superhero vs villain ecapism and Rocky & Bullwinkle-esque jokes that are more appreciated by the adults than kids.

  • Running – I admit it … I hate running outside for no reason. If I’m playing a sport, I love it. If I’m running to catch a bus, I can rationalize it. But any other reason to jog outside and I have to overcome crippling boredom. So, when I found out that the our new apartment building comes fully stocked with a gym I was so excited that I needed a new pair of pants! Although relatively tiny, it has 2 treadmills, 2 bike machines, 2 elipticals, and quite a bit of weight lifting equipment (eh … I’ll get to those eventually). But the best part is that the gym is on the 32nd floor in a completely glass-encased room. So, as I run my miles on the treadmill I’m literally overlooking First Avenue from 32 floors in the air. It’s like running in the sky. Pretty hot.

    Anyway, since it’s now so convienient to run just the way I like (on a treadmill), I’ve begun another legendary 100 Mile mission. This will be the third one I’ve started (and hopefully completed) and will try to track down how long it took me to do the two previous. Keep track of my progress on the 100 Mile Challenge counter that I’ve added (waaaay down) on the sidebar.

Later fools … oh, and some more batshit making the band drama coming up next post …

    Site Updates

  • Added 100 Mile Challenge counter to sidebar

Current Mood: Ready To Kick Some Ass On A Treadmill emoticon Ready To Kick Some Ass On A Treadmill

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