The LeBrachelor

•July 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I haven’t written a blog post in a VERY long time but I feel the need to post one right now about the biggest topic of the summer in the sports world, unfortunately: Where the hell is LeBron James going to play basketball?

It has taken over sports news ever since the NBA playoffs were over. No wait, it’s been on the news even BEFORE Kobe won his 5th ring. I know, many of you were rooting for the Lakers and I was for Boston, but can’t deny what happened there. Kobe did win his 5th ring and guess what? There was no hoopla about that. There were no specials about him or his career. Same goes for Phil Jackson. Everyone wanted to know where he was going to coach, or if he was even going to coach at all. Was there a special for that decision on ESPN? No. He just mentioned that he was going to remain coaching the Lakers. How hard was that to say? Better yet, what about Kevin Durant? He decided he was going to stay with the Thunder and he mentioned that via Twitter. Less than 140 characters is all it took to inform us of his decision. But no, folks, LeBron has to say some things on a much grander scale that requires a whole damn one-hour special on ESPN, dubbed “The Decision.”

While I was chowing away like a fatass at Wendy’s, I read an article by Bill Simmons, an ESPN columnist and writer of “The Book of Basketball,” a New York Times best-seller. I will be referencing the article heavily, so here’s the link to it in case you’re confused about what I’m saying: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/100708

The article discusses some rumors about Bosh/Wade/James teaming up together in the future, red flags about how Wade and Bosh made everyone believe they were playing for other teams because of all the meetings and how all three would play together considering all three of them are big-time players whom demand a lot of playing time. Fast forward though to points #19 and #20. This is what really spoke to me

Simmons is 100% correct: Sports has changed. Instead of it being about winning and competing, it’s now about being a big celebrity, getting as many endorsement deals as you can and having your face all over the world. Now, I’m a firm believer in national heroes (because I have plenty) but in the end, it’s all about winning championships. It doesn’t matter how good you are individually. If it did, then LeBron should be playing basketball all by himself for 48 minutes, no break and nobody to hand the basketball over to. But no. He didn’t sign up to play 1-on-1. He joined the NBA so he could help to build a team and win a title. Has he done that? Hell no. He quickly grabbed endorsement deals thanks to being overhyped and put his name all over the world as “King James.” How the HELL can you call yourself that when you haven’t even proven yourself? Did you ever hear Kobe or Jordan refer to themselves like that? NEVER! Jordan had plenty of nicknames, but he never EVER called himself the greatest or the King (even though he rightfully is the King of Basketball). Sure, he had deals with Nike, but he never let his popularity bring him down. He stayed focus with his core in Chicago and alongside Phil Jackson, won six NBA titles, in three-peat fashion twice. Phil Jackson has to be the greatest NBA coach ever because he never let his superstars destroy themselves with an ego. Instead, he told them to never let that grasp you otherwise you will lose focus in the game. That is exactly what LeBron James has done. And now fast forward to this summer.

Honestly, this is the LeBrachelor. He’s just dwindling down teams one by one and will pick the team which he can build a championship-winning circle around, right? Wrong. He’s going to pick the team based off how he can live a glorious lifestyle, whether it’s roaming the streets of New York, Miami or Chicago. If he stays in Cleveland, I’ll be shocked. I know he wants to get out of there because honestly, what’s so great about Cleveland? Losing sports town, not as fabulous as the other three cities that want him. Of course he wants out. He’s going to betray his loyal fan-base in Cleveland all because they aren’t as glamourous as the others. What a piece of crap. Who does that? Someone who wants a truckload of money that they don’t really deserve. I’m honestly getting sick and tired of this crap. A one-hour special on ESPN….”The Decision”…..come on. All he needs to do is announce where he’s going via a statement. That’s it. Boom. Done. No TV special, no special treatment. Obama deserves a one-hour special because he’s the President of the United States. LeBron doesn’t need a special. This is all ridiculous. Just focus on playing the damn game of basketball, just like all the greats have. Learn from them, Prince James. No, you aren’t even deserving of the Prince title. You’re just LeBron James, from Akron, OH.

One God, Many Prophets

•January 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This is the title of the first chapter of my book “The Heart of Islam” by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. The author of this book not only was born in Tehran but he is a well-educated man (M.I.T. and Harvard grad) and local. He’s the university professor of Islamic studies at GWU. My┬ácuriosity about Islam started when I was watching the news about Iran and the Middle East’s struggle with religion. There are various sects in the Middle East that don’t get along with each other. The media portrays Islam as a faith that professes lies and ties with terrorist groups. I really don’t like the media’s portrayal of the Middle East because it’s completely wrong. I’m not trying to start a political or religious debate with this topic. All I’m wondering is where Islam came from and what is it all about. Throughout reading this book, I’m going to be summarizing each chapter that I read and offer my thoughts/opinions on the topic.

The first chapter is all about laying down the basic beliefs of Islam. I already knew that Islam is linked with Judaism and Christianity but how so? Yes, all three religious are monotheistic and each have a sacred scripture that they base their beliefs on but there has to be more. I’m going to continue reading and see if the answer surfaces on its own. Otherwise, I’ll read another source to find the answer. What intrigued me upon reading the middle of the chapter was how Muslims judge each others’ true beliefs towards God (Allah). Not only must a Muslim love God and believe in him, but they must also believe in the Prophet, Muhammed. I also found out that once a Muslim mentions the Prophet’s name, they say “May peace and blessings be upon him.” Reminds me of the phrase “Peace be with you”, the phrase people said when they met Jesus. I guess I just found another similarity between the religions. There is a sub-chapter that discussed Islam’s attitude toward various religions. Muslims are very fond of other religions within the Middle East and don’t bother to convert each other or harass those who aren’t Islam. What a change from America, where every religion continues to seek conversion from the masses. Then again, since September 11th happened, Muslims are frowned upon here in America. That’s a shame considering that many Muslims are good human beings who practice their faith without distracting us. I do see why we argue the fact that most terrorists are Muslim. Here in America, we continuously stereotype many races such as all African-Americans steal or Hispanics are lazy and don’t want to work. But what many people don’t realize is that terrorists do not know right from wrong. They may think that the acts they commit are just and will give them a ticket to Allah, but killing doesn’t make things right. That’s self-explanatory. Nowhere in the Quran does God want to “take out the opposition literally.” I digress, I’ve fallen off-topic. The sub-chapter about unity speaks of the number one link between all Muslim religions: the Quran. Unity for a religion is stressed constantly through communities. But on the other hand, unlike Christians, Muslims do not allow non-Muslims in holy places. I can respect that because in my opinion, what business does a non-believer have there? I’m not trying to be shallow, but it doesn’t make much sense to me. The only way one would be there is if they were converting. I guess you could be curious and want to find out what they do. Oh well. I’ve already received a ton of information just from one chapters. I still have plenty of reading to do about the faith. I’m open to discuss my thoughts with anyone who would like to talk about it.

Dissatisfied

•January 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

That’s the one word to sum up my behavior this morning. I’m completely dissatisfied with how I acted. Seriously, why did I do that? There was no need to shut someone down even though I thought what I said was a joke. Apparently, it’s not that funny. I’ve had this sense of humor for a long time and it worked when I was younger. Nowadays, it’s a touchy subject for some people, especially if they’ve been traumatized. I don’t ever mean harm towards anyone when I joke but sometimes, boundaries are set for a reason. Overstepping boundaries not only triggers these feelings of disgust but makes the person feel unloved. I never mean to harm or offend anyone yet I constantly do. Why can’t I change that about myself? For some reason, these old habits continue to follow me everywhere I go and with everyone I meet. Ugh. I must control myself better. I had a problem before with my panic attacks and learned to control my anxiety. Now I must learn to control myself in certain situations that can potentially set me off. At times, I’ve contemplated going to a therapist and discussing my issues. It’s not that I feel uncomfortable that I don’t want to do it. I would rather solve this problem on my own. People who read this will probably think that I’m stupid for trying to do this on my own. You’re entitled to your opinion but I prefer to do this on my own. I know for a fact that I can do this because I was able to conquer anxiety on my own. Many people take prescription drugs and suffer from depression. I was very fortunate to get through the pain with the support of my family and Jeanine, my ex-girlfriend. I’ll never forget being cured of those heinous panic attacks. I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. My shackles cracked and now I’m able to enjoy life again. Honestly, I’m going to start praying often again. I need to go back to church and listen to the word of God. My faith and religion have helped me in the worst times and it’s about time I let it enter my life once more. Every conversation I have with my Mom is about how our faith has been keeping us together and strengthening ourselves each and every day. I love my family and I love my friends. I love Christine and I can’t keep hurting them with my bullshit. It’s time to put in some damn effort and step up to the plate. I’ve been on strike two and hitting foul balls like crazy. It’s time to hit my home run and end the game that’s been going on for too long. Why did I just make a reference to the sport I dislike the most? Well, if you know me, I always use analogies. Deal with it. Christine, if you’re reading this (and I know you will), I love you so much with all of my heart. The effort will come and swipe you off your feet. We’ll make it through this, I promise. I love you.

Bring on the New Year

•January 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This is my first post of the new year, 2010. Wow, so I’ve lived through some pretty important decades, that’s for sure. This post though won’t be a reflection like the last one. Instead, it’ll be about what’s been going on the past week.

New Years Eve was pretty awesome. I took Christine out to Sakura, a Japanese steakhouse near my apartment, and enjoyed a nice pig-out. We came back to my place and watched Jersey Shore. Seriously, as much as I hate that show, it’s addicting. The stereotypes, the guys trying to get the girls and failing, all perfect television. Like I’ve told Christine many times, TV wouldn’t be awesome if you have every person on it to be the “nice guy.” Drama attracts viewers and so do stupid people with horrible education apparently. I know I don’t normally watch TV but the new year has brought new shows that I’m bound to succumb to. Just great. I’m not going to name the other shows because it’s embarrassing. Moving along!

My work schedule in terms of teaching is back on track. The holidays and snow screwed up a lot of my money-making. Now that school is back for the youngin’s, it’s time to start the lessons up again. I also got a call from an old student of mine saying he’d like lessons again. He will make number five if I begin to teach him. Naartjie is giving me more hours as well, so the money will start coming in again. Speaking of money, I’ve been looking at what I’m spending my money on and it’s startling me. In the past year alone, I spent enough money to buy a brand new car. That is insane. This means that I must micromanage myself when it comes to my spending habits. Grocery shopping and staying in to cook/do activities will happen more often.

I bought two new books from Barnes and Noble today so that should keep me occupied when I’m bored at my apartment. Also, my BlackBerry has enough entertainment for myself but not for Christine. Maybe I should become a hermit and just watch movies. I started practicing guitar again and begun work on a new arrangement for the Pep Band. In fact, I’m gonna have Amy work on the chart with me! Yay for collaborations! We’ll see how all this works out. I’m excited to finally play Stayin’ Alive during the second rehearsal. Let’s hope it goes well. I’m out, y’all. Goodnight!

New Years Eve

•December 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Well, I told you all that I would be writing a post about my year in review. Currently, I’m exhausted from cleaning my room and bathroom for over an hour straight. I’m listening to the Princess and the Frog soundtrack so hopefully that’ll get my brain thinking. Here it goes. Just so you understand, each paragraph, the beginning, middle and end of the year are covered in 4 month spans.

The beginning of the year started off with me being in a relationship already for months. That relationship turned out to be a flop as I didn’t really want to be in it anymore. Dragging out a relationship you don’t necessarily want to be in ends up hurting both parties so I had to end it. Turns out it was for the better. Basketball games were in full swing and Mason was dominating every team they encountered, especially at the Patriot Center. The NFL playoffs kicked off and were exciting to watch with friends. Super Bowl 43 was extremely exciting to watch even though the Steelers won that one, barely. The Pep Band was good to me and so was my spring semester. I passed all my classes, met some new friends and continued to bond with Christine. The CAA tournaments were fun to watch and although Mason lost to Penn State in the NIT, it was a good season overall. Also, the beginning of the year introduced me to my first apartment and what it was like to live on my own. I loved that apartment because I was by myself. Plenty of friends came over and shared some good times over there. If you don’t know, I’m not there anymore.

The middle of the year was when college was over for me. The summer started and I didn’t have much to do. I was only teaching private lessons at the music store at the time and occasionally at peoples’ houses. Christine ended up going to Europe and that left me with not much else to do. Many people went home for the summer and we spent a lot of time together. I did manage to get a hold of Finale and started to learn how to arrange music. I also did a lot of playing and recording throughout the summer. Spending the summer doing things for myself was a big change considering I’ve always been in a relationship around that time. Because I was living at home, I also spent a lot of time with my family. That’s one thing I must do more this year: spend time with people I love. The end of the summer meant it was time to get an apartment for the school year. I did a random roommate search and found a place right behind Silver Diner. I’m currently still in this apartment and will be until the end of the summer. The end of the summer also brought me something special: a beautiful relationship with Christine. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.

The end of the year was probably the busiest time of my life. This past fall semester was jam-packed with activities from schoolwork, teaching, gigs, basketball games, family time, my relationship, friends and working at my new job in the mall. I work at a kid’s clothing store called Naartjie, in Fair Oaks, in case anyone didn’t know. Being my most productive semester at Mason, my guitar playing improved and my knowledge of songs and theory grew. One thing I want to do more of this upcoming year is to continue being consistent on guitar and land gigs everywhere and anywhere I can. Both Christine and I’s birthdays were celebrated and we spent the two major holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, together. I’d say that’s a pretty good year complete with ups and downs. In the end, I’m still with the woman I love and I have my friends.

I know this may be really cheesy, but hey I’d like to have a few resolutions written down for reference. For those of you who end up reading this, thanks a lot. You are probably a good friend of mine (or Christine, ha) and have influenced me one way or another. Hope everyone has a Happy New Year and stays safe. Lookin’ forward to what 2010 has in store for me.

  • Work on improving my relationship with Christine
  • Be consistent with my practicing of guitar
  • Land gigs and work on playing more with others
  • Focus and do better on schoolwork (no procrastinating)
  • Do my best as Treasurer for the Fraternity
  • Make more time to socialize whenever possible
  • Become more family-oriented
  • Continue to be responsible and a man of high character

The Holidays

•December 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I haven’t posted anything since the last few days of the semester. My finals went well and overall, I passed all of of my classes! Psychology wasn’t the greatest achievement for me but I still managed to escape unscathed. Once finals week passed, winter break officially began.

It technically started the day before my last final, which was Christine’s birthday. It was a two-day celebration that consisted of good dinners, family time and fun. I had a little setback on the first day but bounced back and gave some love to the birthday girl. It was also Kat’s birthday, might I add. They are identical twins after all. I gave Christine her gift and took her out to dinner at whatever restaurant she wanted: TGI Friday’s. Not exactly fancy but still good nonetheless. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and loving her. Not much more needs to be said!

The weekend came by and brought us a gigantic blizzard: the biggest snowstorm in the area since 1996. Talk about a turn of events, I honestly didn’t expect to receive that much snow. I think the total was around 18-20 inches. Epic. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go teach in Ashburn the entire weekend because my car was covered in the snow (and eventually ice). I stayed in all of Saturday and went out to shovel/rescue my car on Sunday morning. I posted some pictures of the adventure on Facebook. Overall, it took me roughly five hours to get my car out and help others shovel some snow as well. My back was torched afterwards. I could smell my lower back cookin’.

Christine’s brother Sean came to rescue me that Sunday so I could attend the holiday party at their house. I’m surprised that many people came to the party considering there was absolutely no way to park on their road. Because they live on a hill, driving upwards on ice is not the smartest thing in the world to do. We all enjoyed the party filled with food, laughs, stories, movies and fun. During the party, I started to reminisce about my family parties and how every single one we had we played White Elephant. No White Elephant fun this time but that’s ok. I always got stuck with the lamest gifts, except for the chocolate!

Since this past week was Christmas week, Naartjie was busy pretty much everyday up until Christmas. I got plenty of hours in and had fun selling some sweet clothes. I’m very lucky to have such wonderful co-workers at the store because they make the boring moments a blast. Thanks y’all!

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, what did you bring for me? Apparently, a bunch of presents. Yeah, I didn’t expect to get half of what I received but thank you all. The clothes, food, electronics, gift cards are all wonderful treats. This year, I had two Christmases, one at home and one at Christine’s. Yup, I got more gifts there too. She has the most generous parents ever. I love her entire family (even those damn pups and the new one, Poofy). I’d say that this Christmas definitely ranks for me as one of the best because I got to spend time with everyone. Wendy and Hunter and the kids are all in Colorado, though. I do miss them a bunch. I didn’t get a chance to fly there a few weeks ago because of school finishing up but I will try to go next year.

So the holidays have come and gone, that quickly. This Thursday will be New Years Eve. Wait…what? The year is coming to an end already? Well, like I’ve been doing the past four years, I will definitely be writing a blog on Thursday about how 2009 has fared for myself. I hope I can remember enough to write a lengthy post about it. That’s about all I’ve got to write about. P.S. if you’re on Twitter, follow me! garytheman03

The Last Days of the Semester

•December 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Well, it’s that time already. Wait, what? Really?!?! Yes, the end of the semester. Because I’ve kept busy with so much, this semester definitely flew by for me. It all started off very well with a new woman in my life (love you babe) and a fresh start with music. This has been the most productive semester for me in terms of playing tunes. Combos had me playing through various eras of jazz and allowed me to put my improvisational skills to the test. I knew that I would be able to flourish at the two performances we had and I did. Playing with those guys improved my chops and my knowledge bank of songs. In terms of my private lessons, Rick had me going through a bunch of tunes. In fact, we actually worked through roughly ten songs, the most I’ve ever done in my five semesters at Mason. Even though the juries have us playing through two to three songs, having enough prepared always leaves a good impression to the jurers. Jazz Arranging with Mr. Maiello taught me a lot about hearing the band, the progressions and the various techniques each section utilizes. Completing Misty and hearing the GMU Jazz Ensemble playing it felt gratifying, regardless of the errors I need to go back and fix. Arranging is an art that requires you to keep going and constantly writing. When I graduate, I definitely want to consider arranging tunes for jazz ensembles. For now, I will focus on playing in the band instead, hehe. Music History 2 was just lame. I’m sorry, I tried to give it a chance but the material was quite boring. I managed to do well in the class overall despite not doing much. Oh well. Choir, enough said. This semester sucked for Choir and I’m very glad that’s over. No more singing in the dump. Psychology was a disaster. I went to the classes in the beginning, took good notes, studied them and took the exams. Each exam I took, I thought I did well but nope. I’m not failing the class but it’s still a horrible grade. Damnit. I have one more chance to redeem myself: the final exam on Tuesday. I plan on studying my ass off big time. So this was basically a big summary of my semester academic-wise. Personal issues, well there were things that went sour. Eventually, those issues managed to work themselves out and get back on track. Every relationship has their roadblocks but working through those say a lot about each of us. Actually, one thing I didn’t do this semester was workout consistently. Christine and I want to start doing that together. That needs to happen as soon as it can. The holidays are approaching but before I write about that, finals need to be done and over with. Four things need to be done before my semester is over: revising my MHS 2 paper, Jury, two finals and Moose’s Broadway Recital. Then the holidays can happen. That’s all for now. GMU lost to Dayton by a point. We’ve been doing terrible lately. No bueno. More on that later.