Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mighty Morphin Power Sam

I miss doing the daily updates, so I can talk about how stupid O.J. and how we just follow along with his antics like a rabid Snoopy in "Peanuts" or the latest on Britney Spears. Then again, I think I've been spared from all of the crap from whomever the the patron saint of blogs is. Still, I hate to be the subject of the recent posts these days. It seems like a kind of an ego stroke to me, but as some famous writer once said (Perry White? Oscar Madison?) "write what you know". On now to this week's thrilling chapter.

I think this whole road to self improvement is coming along well this week. I've heard words of encouragement from many folks out there, which I think is fantastic amd hope it doesn't stop from there. I do plan on doing my part as there are loads of folks I haven't talked to in a while, so a "pay it forward" sort of thing is due to many of the people who stopped and left a note.

As for the weight problem, I've been working out now at three to four times a week and I can already see improvements on that. The thing that freaks me about working out is that I start to feel like I'm about to go through some sort of transformation, which I know is suppose to happen. However, the transformation is that of The Incredible Hulk. I know this sounds stupid, but here me out on this. On my father's side, I come from a family of muscle bound men. 100% natural, all solid men with no by products, that's how they were until it stopped with me. As soon as I discovered beer and smokes at the age of eighteen however, that lineage was over with. I mean, really. Y'all should have been there for it, Jheri Curls and all. The bad part of all of the partying was that I would soon gain loads and look like Al Roker. Now, with working out as much as I have been the past few weeks, my muscle tones are starting to show up around my shoulders and I'm starting to feel like I should be walking on my knuckles the way my arms hang now. Still, I promise that I won't start flexing around folks when this said and done and there will be no topless photos of me when I hit my goal. Sorry to anyone who actually wanted to see me in that state of undress, but I'm not putting me or anyone through that. But, if you are that person, you must be smoking corn husks or something.

On the days that I'm not working out or going to dialysis, I'll be returning to with three classes this go around. I hope to do well this time by not having any strokes for the first part and making sure that car works as well. Looking back at the start of this year, it's hard to believe that I've been a college student and how far I've gotten since January and that in less than 9 months, I now have a 3.0 G.P.A. which still blows my mind just writing about it. Remember, I turned into Bluto Blutarsy once I hit eighteen, so at forty-one all of this is just an amazing feat to me. By the way, still no algebra in the mix this time, so I think I'm spared once again until it's time.

In the long run, this whole makeover is a joy and scary at the same time but it is something that is long overdue. This is a completely new road I'm going down that there for me to cross years ago, but I'm just heading down that way now. If I can just get over al the potholes and bad traffic along the way, I should have a smooth ride for a good long time.

I hate cliches' by the way, but could think of no other way to finish this entry. I told you I hate writing about me...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sing Along With Sammy

A couple of weeks ago or two essays down, I talked about the pitfalls of kareoke. Since then, I 've gotten a lot of response from it so I thought I'd give you all a bit of an update.

Last Friday, I did another fill in hosting job for my friends at the hole in the wall redneck bar. The turnout was on the deadside since there was a severe thunderstorm warning for the area and you know that alcohol and water don't mix well together. I was feeling just a little bit better than I have in the past few weeks (thank you, Prozac!), but everyone in the bar was in there grumpy mood that wasn't made better thanks to the weather. Everyone decided they wanted to sing depressing ballads which was killing me. It didn't mater if they could hold a note or not, these were drunks with issues this night. I did my best to get them excited, but I couldn't get them more revved up, to parephrase John Cleese, if I threw 100, 000 volts up their bum. It got to the point where no one wanted to sing and I had to do something so I did.

At one point, there was a large drunk woman who decided to grab the mic at a point where I was using my patented snappy patter to get folks to do a tune when she out of the blue started doing an alcoholic version of Billy Vera and The Beaters "At This Moment" acapella. I nicely told the woman that we do have the song in the kareoke song list and all she would have to do is find it along with her name and the song number listed and I'll be happy to bring her up. To which told me that she didn't want to look for it. I sat her down and did my best compose myself on how to deal with this crowd when I decided to the song myself.

Now, anyone who knows the song knows that "At This Moment" is a very soulful tune that requires a lot of power behind it when it's sung. It needs to be done from the heart as well as the lungs and if you just sing in the shower, you should never do this tune in public. It goes back to the comparison of sushi from the original post: This song would be blowfish sashimi and if you don't know how to serve it, someone could die from poison. It's true. But I did it anyway first, to perk those drunks up; second, just to see if after the stroke could I still sing.

For the record, I'm not really a proud man about much and try to live a simple, humble life. However, when it comes to singing I can say that I'm that damn good. Although I shifted from high tenor to middle baritone from age, smoking never really helped out my lungs and I lost a lot of the power I used to have. But now that I've quit smoking (over sevn weeks and keeping count until the day I die), it made me wonder if my lungs were ready for a workout of a tune of that nature. It was and I KILLED. If my voice was a hurricane, I was a class five that night. The look on their faces was in shock and awe. I had been a fill in KJ there until the reguar host comes back this week, but finally I made them pay attention to me. The tune was note for note perfect all the way up to end to which I got major applause. With the way things have been for me lately quite truthfully, I needed that a whole lot. I guess I can make folks happy if I just sing so I can get personal gratification from it. I'm glad that I was born with such a talent like that so I can make folks feel good. I'm also glad that I sobered them up enough to keep the place hopping just a little bit longer.

Now for those of you who've never heard the tune before or are a kid of the Eighties who remember Alex P. Keaton fawning for Courtney Cox whenever this song was played on "Family Ties", here's Billy Vera and The Beaters with "At This Moment" with a reminder: if you ever decide to do this tune in front of a crowd, you better bring your A game. Otherwise, you 'd be best to stick with your freinds from the office and do "Love Shack".

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Are You On The List?

It's been a lot of crap going on in my life as of late but today I just got the best news I've heard in over two years. As most of you know, I have End Stage Renal Failure or E.S.R.D.. In layman's terms, my kidneys screwed up and I need a transplant. I've been on the U.N.O.S. (United Network for Organ Sharing) transplant list since 2003 doing my best to have surgery as soon as possible (please don't ask why my family hasn't stepped up to the plate with a kidney as I would be here for days explaining). However, because of weight gain over the past year, I've been put on hold in the list. I've truthfully gained over 40 pound (okay, maybe 50) over time and it's been driving me crazy. Surgeons are concerned that if a person isn't at the right weight during and after a transplant, the organ could reject the body and it could mean trouble. In other words, if I don't lose the weight, I don't get on the list.

Well, the good news is I talked to someone today from the Medical College of Georgia, the hospital doing the transplant. Coordinaters there have been keeping in touch with me the past few months to see about my progress every three months. Sadly, I had to tell them about the mini-stroke of July, but I did tell them that I've recovered quite nicely since, but I still had the weight. The coordinator told me that I was still on hold on the U.N.O.S. list, but the great news I got was that once I lose the weight, not only would I get back on the list, I would be shot to the top of the list. It turns out that I have accrued time in those three and a half years, which means I'm due for a transplant. According to U.N.O.S., the average wait time for a kidney, dead or alive, is at least two to four years. That, and the fact that my blood is A postive pushes me up at the top of a very high list. Here's the gist: A positive blood is not that common in African-Americans, however it is in a lot and I mean A LOT of people in the United States, White, Black, American Indian, the very races I just happen to be mixed with.Surprizing though, between my brother Rocky and myself, the only full blooded member I have left on the planet, we don't match since he has O positive blood. Mind you, they have the medicine available now for me to accept any blood type kidney, but it's best to match type for type for a better outcome. All this means is that when the time comes, I could have a new kidney immediatly after I'm reactivated. It's the best outcome for my ailment I've heard in, well forever. With all of that being said, I need your help.

No, I'm not asking for your kidney or money to help pay for the transplant and other medical things. Not yet anyway.

What I want, REALLY WANT to lose this weight. I want to do this so I can finally have a somewhat normal life again. However, I need the encouragement to do this. When I was in the hospital, I heard from people then, but after I got home it became quiet which is a damn shame for anyone.

If your reading this and you are just an aquatence of me ( most of you My Spacers are that) then you really don't have to do this. Mostly because you really don't give a damn about anything and just wanted me on your freinds list just so you could fill it up to Dane Cook capacity. Sorry, but you are who you are and I called you out. So there. I'm talking to YOU. Anyone that reads Sam-A-Rama or this blog. Anyone from My Space who are my real freinds on and offline. Even if you're a freind;y stranger who's been in a perdiciemnt like this or knows someone who has. I need your encouragement more than ever. I have been personally fighting this battle alone now for over four years and trufully I'm this close to tired and ready to chuck it all in and let Nature take its course afterwards but that would be selfish of me to go out like that. I know that I can get through this. All I just need an extra push. If it's even just an "Are you okay" is all that I ask. Whether it's online or off, which would be a whole lot better so I can see you face to face to tell you thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So there you go, my great news of the year. I'm glad you read it. I hope you help.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Talking TV

I know that most of you didn't watch it last night, but since there's nothing really on television until the start of their Fall season (C'mon, Chuck!), I caught the MTV Video Music Awards. First up, they really don't videos much anymore, so why have an awards show other to suck up. Next, the show was shot in Las Vegas at the Palms Hotel and while it different to see artists and bands get their own "musical suites", it also felt hot and claustrophobic because of the crowded rooms. I was digging on the Foo Fighters' room, especially and wished they could have just run that for me the entire two hours. I'm glad that it only runs once this year instead of wall to wall showings like they do with everything else they run, other than music videos. With that being said, there's one performance from the show that I hope will never be seen again...

If you did not watch the show last night, you missed either the worst comeback in the world or the funniest episone of The Singing Bee ever. Sure, at this point you realize that most fo the artists on the show are going to lip sync, but Britney Spears couldn't even remember the words to her own song. In other words, if you've ever been on a nightclub damcefloor recently and right in the middle of it you've seen a chick who looks drunk on vodka and Red Bull trying to mouth the words of "Toxic" and even then the words ain't right, then you have seen the second former Miss Federline Sunday night. I think what is needed here is at least three more months in rehab, then a guest seat at The View just so I can have the pleasure of hearing Whoopi just say, "Child, what the f*** is wrong with you?" ( Oh, yeah. It's gonna happen and I can't wait).

Speaking of TV, as you may have heard by now that Time Magazine has come out with its top 100 Television Shows of All Time list, of which I approve of at least 95% of. I mean, Felicity? I never got it. My personal fave to replace it would have been Good Times, but I'm not Time. Damn...damn..DAMN!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Ah, Kareoke

What can one say about kareoke that hasn't been said before? It is the vengence of the Japanese for losing in WWII after the bomb. Kareoke and octopus sushi, I believe, is the devil's tool and it's just plain wrong. Somehow, people are atracted to them both especially when they're drunk. They'll have one beer to many and say aloud even tho9ugh they think they're speaking softly, "Say, I'll think I'll give this a try" when they damn know that once they do it, they are putting themselves in danger. Stupid people should leave both kareoke and sushi alone if they don't know what they're doing.

I've been helping out a friend who has five kareoke systems running throughout the town and since I need the extra money, I thought it would be fun. It is, however there are some pitfalls to hosting kareoke:

1: In Japan. everyone looks nice and clean and the bar looks spotless. Here in America or at least in town where there's kareoke, everyone has at least more than two teeth missing and scruffy as hell and that's just the women.

2: Alcohol is everywhere. I can understand that as sometimes you need Liquid Courage to get up there in front of a mic, bt if you've done at least five beers you should be cut off from singing. There should be a three beer limit if you plan on singing your heart out the whole night before you get to "Welcome To My Nightmare".

3: Someone is going to sing Jimmy Buffet.

4: As for the word "sing", there really isn't any real singing in kareoke. For the most part, folks just fumble thru the words on the screen as they go by. I've been folks get up there and just stop trying to even read the lyrics and make an even bigger ass of themselves to the point where they just stand there and just beg for somebody else to do the song. Nobody wants to "D'yer Maker" after you just screwed it up for everybody.

5: As Dave Letterman would say, "This is only an exibition, not a competition. Please, no wagering." That kinda goes for kareoke as well. As a host, I'm not looking for stars, I'm looking to help the bar make money and to give drunks something to do. I'm not gonna give away prizes to the best singer because there is no best singer in kareoke. It's a level playing field out there on the bar floor. I did a show Friday night and a jackhole came up to me and handed in his songslip and told me that I should crank his voice up becasue the best singer was in the house. I looked him straight in the eyes and told his that he wasn't. He seemed upset and angry that I should tell him something like that, but I told him that no one is the greatest singer in the bar when it come to kareoke. Then he understood what I was saying while in his booze fueled stardom and he shook my hand and everything was fine afterwards. By the way, the guy was okay. Adequate, but at least he was in tune thank God.

The thing is, if you're looking for someone from a record company to pull up to your local hole in the wall, redneck filled, beer and piss smelling bar and sign you up after hearing you do your best Mariah Carey impression, you also have a shot of finding a a dog who poops gold from its butt. But you also have the same chance of having Simon Cowell comeing and stopping you into your second chorus of "Friends in Low Places" to tell you go to go home and slap the pee out of your mother for birthing such a horrible singer. Kareoke is all about getting up there and just having fun and singing goofy tunes with friends to see who can top the other with crazy songs. It's not "American Idol" and if it was the tryouts, you'd be sent home crying. Just stand up and sing as all that's asked and have fun, even if you aren't the best singer. Besides, the best singer is the one hosting the thing.

That would be me.