Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday update and last chance to get your picks in...

Well, I am back! Christmas was great. We had 3 Christmas celebrations - my parents', Jessica's Dad and Stepmom's, and Jessica's Mom and Stepdad's. Food was great at each celebration and the gifts were generous and flowing! However, none of the celebrations were without memorable events - we had the salmon catching on fire at one event, my mother accidently, but TOTALLY innocently and indirectly calling Jess fat, and Jessica's stepdad breaking his ankle which required an ambulance ride and now surgery. Yes, we had all those, but overall, it was a wonderful Christmas. Well, maybe for everyone except her stepdad. I'll try to post some pictures in a couple of days.

As this will probably be my last post of 2008, I wanted to update you and give you one more chance to make your guesses for the contest I am running all year long in 2009. As I love burgers and Jess loves ice cream, I am asking you to guess how many times we will consume these respective foods in 2009. We will include a picture each time one of us eats the food. As an update, these are the guesses I have so far:

Burgers for Manuel:
Mom - 33
Nani - 75
Jose - 258
Alien - 254
Laura - 104
Sal - 120

Ice Cream for Jess:
Nani - 75
Laura - 156

Obviously a lot more burger than ice cream guesses so get them in. Already guessed and want to change your answer? Go ahead here. I will allow guesses until the end of the week so if you don't get them in by Jan 1, feel free to still guess (until Sunday the 4th.) The more guesses the better. There ARE prizes involved!

See you in the New Year! Oh yeah, I pick Tara to do the next Scavenger Hunt word pick.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


So, this weekend I got a handy dandy new mini video camera that I wanted. Because of the ease of using it and uploading to youtube on this new camera, you will probably also start seeing osme videos on this site too. Little video blogs.

With that, today was the annual making tamale day. We usually make them the day before Christmas Eve as we eat them at Grandma's on Cristmas Eve. I decided to make a quick video while there.

With that, have a great Christmas everyone. I will be out of town right after Christmas for a few days with no internet connection so I will be back next Monday. Have a safe Christmas and see you all later...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Manuel on Movies #9

It has been quite a while since I have done one of these so I have a lot of movies to catch you up on...

Teeth - We start off with an interesting movie for sure. I heard the premise of the movie and I KNEW I had to see it. I'll just come out and say it - this is a movie about a teenage girl who discovers she has her vagina. Let me repeat that. She has teeth in her vagina. Wanted it to sink in. Now, before you groan, know that this was actually a pretty good and enjoyable movie. Not really a horror; not really a comedy; this best can be characterized as a quirky independent films. If you don't like independent films that are a little "off", then this isn't a film for you. But if you are one who appreciates "weird" movies that really say more than the average Hollywood film, this is a good choice. I don't want to give to much away, but know we both enjoyed it. 7.5 out of 10

Super High Me - In the same vein as Super Size Me, where a man eats nothing but McDonalds for 30 days, this is a movie where a pot smoker first goes 30 days without pot and then goes 30 straight days basically being high all the time. I thought it was definitely geared more towards how pot isn't that bad for you rather than showing any bad effects of it. It had some interesting parts, but for the most part, I thought this wasn't as good as it could have been. 5 out of 10.

Shutter - ANOTHER Americanized version of a J-Horror film following in the steps of The Ring, The Grudge, and countless others. This movie follows a couple who after surviving a car crash, start to see images of an eerie figure in the pictures they take. Like all these films, it boils down to someone was wronged and it needs to be fixed. It really wasn't that creepy. 90 minutes of entertainment that you will forget 90 minutes later. 5 out of 10

Step Brothers - This was pretty damn funny. Just seeing grown men act like immature kids was enough to get me laughing a good handful of times. Of course, you have to like Will Farell to like this movie(and I know some of my readers don't). Crude, often very wrong, I very much enjoyed this tale of two adults suddenly becoming step brothers and having to share a room. 7.5 out of 10.

Open Water 2 - Open Water 1 was about a couple who get left in the middle of the ocean on a scuba diving trip and eventually get eaten by sharks at the end of the movie. It was noteworthy because of the way it was filmed - independent with a hand held. The simplicity of it was intriguing. Well, hoping to capitalize on the success(?) of the first one, a sequel was made. This time, a group of beautiful people go swimming in the middle of the ocean and then can't get back in their yacht because they left the ladder up. Hilarity ensues. Ok, I made that up. What follows is frustration because the people are just so stupid. You find yourself yelling at the tv and by the end, WANTING them all to die. That MIGHT have been the point as maybe the director wanted you to see how people panic. I don't know. While fairly entertaining, I couldn't sit through a second viewing. 5.5 out of 10.

Never Back Down - With the popularity of Mixed Martial Arts and UFC, you knew it would only be a matter of time before a Karate Kid style movie was created. Let's kid in town...check. Bully who beats people up with the hot ex girlfriend.....check. A wise trainer from another country who intially is reluctant to train the kid but gives in....check. Music video training montage.......check. This was a very by the book movie, but you know what, it was pretty entertaining even though it was made with the MTV crowd in mind. Maybe it is because I am such a big fan of Karate Kid(which they are remaking) that made me like it. But I liked it. Again, it entertained me. 7 out of 10

Gone Baby Gone - This was a wonderful drama in the same vein as Mystic River from a few years back - a dark, depressing drama that is made even darker because of some wonderful cinematography to give it that down feel. The story revolves around an attempt to find a child who has been kidnapped. What follows is a deep story that has so many layers to it with unexpected turns. Featuring an all-star cast and brilliantly directed by Ben Affleck in his directorial debut, this is one that shuld not be passed up. 9 out of 10

Forgetting Sarah Marshall - I had some high hopes for this film. As a Judd Apatow fan and hearing such good word of mouth on this film, I figured it would be pretty good. Well, for the most part, it was pretty good. Thing is, I expected it to be a lot funnier. It gave me a few chuckles, but never really laugh out loud funny and not often either. The story was cute and Kristen Bell was even cuter, but overall I was kind of disappointed. Towards the end, I was almost bored. Oh well. 6 out of 10

The Day the Earth Stood Still - I have never seen the original, but the trailer made it look pretty good. I might have been able to wait for video, but then I heard it would have new trailers for Wolverine and Terminator:Salvation before the movie. Then I was sold. Terminator looks like a good continuation of the story with John Conner being played by one of my favorites, Christian Bale. Wolverine looks awesome and seems to have a nice dark tone in this prequel to the X Men movies. I am quite excited for them. Oh, the actual movie I went to see??? Eh, it was ok. It kept my interest. It had some cool effects. The theme of the movie was timely. But overall, the movie was pretty forgettable in the long run. I enjoyed it, but I am ok if I never see it again. The trailers were more exciting. 6.5 out of 10

Bigger, Stronger, Faster - This was a REALLY good documentary about steroids, the people who use them, the pressure to use them, and the effects that Hollywood and Sports have had on the steroids business. Rather than being one sided, it really does a good job of presenting both sides of the story. Both arguments are really convincing. The mixture of documentary footage with popular culture references make it a really fun movie. This comes highly recommended! 9 out of 10.

The Strangers - "Because you were home." This was a really creepy movie about a couple terrorized by strangers who are outside their home. The use of very little music and instead relying on dead silence and anticipation make this an enjoyable movie. I didn't think it was quite as scary as people made it out to be, but I am sure it was magnified if seeing it in a theater. 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Health Update

As you may recall, a couple of months ago, I told you Jessica's step mother was diagnosed with cancer. Besides being distraught because of a loved one so close to me being sick, it disheartened me to see someone so healthy come down with cancer unexpectedly - someone who took measures to live a long life.

Well, since she was first diagnosed and I blogged about it, things haven't been all that great. After a little bit of false hope for a curable type of cancer, we found out she had something called leiomyosarcoma, which is in its simplest form, a cancer of the connective tissue. This is basically what holds all your organs in place. Unfortunately, you can't really cut out the cancer as well, it holds your body together. On the other hand, as far as chemo goes, there is really no known combination of chemo drugs that are known to be effective in "curing" the cancer.

With that in mind, when we found all this out, Fran decided that she didn't want to go through the pain of chemo if the doctor could not guarantee that it would add anything to her life and could in fact make it more painful. The doctor said that route would maybe give her 6 months. The doctor couldn't say, "Do chemo and you will get at least an extra 6 months or so," because he had no idea. So, she was all set to do no chemo when she had a conversation with a chemo nurse who told her that the only certain thing she knew about is what would happen if she did no chemo. If she tried chemo, there was no certainty what would happen and she has seen miracles happen before.

So in the end, she decided to give chemo a go. She is currently in week 5 of a 9 week go at this. Week 1, she does one chemo drug, week 2 is 2 drugs, and on the third week, she rests. Then it starts over again. She is doing 3 cycles of this for a total of 9 weeks and then they will reevaluate and see if it is working.

In week 3, her rest week, she actually ended up in the hospital for a few days. But after a week of poor health, she got right back on the chemo horse in week 4. She is really weak and spends most of her time in bed lately, but she is sticking with it. Her braveness and strength and willpower has been truely inspiring. I just hope at the end of week 9, we are given some encouraging news.

I went to the doctor today because I NEVER get headaches and well, I have had a headache pretty much for 3 weeks straight. My doctor thinks it is stress, but referred me to a neurologist. Well, if it is stress , I guess that would be pretty believable at this particular time. We shall see....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Poker Player of the Year Finals

Saturday night was our annual Player of the Year finals for poker at my house. As you know(or may not know), we play poker every 2 weeks at my house and gain points for the final at the end of the year. We have done it three years and I have somehow one all three years. I was the three time defending champion! This year however, I have not had a great year by any means. In fact, it has been downright horrible with almost nothing going my way. I guess you can't win them all and I went into the final on Saturday in 8th place.

We started off a few hours earlier than usual with a potluck so we could relax and enjoy before the big game. There was some great food and some good times had. Then, the games began.

With 15 players present, we had to start on two different tables...

Peeking at my cards...

It would be a couple of hours before we narrowed it down to one table...

Although I played the best I had played in a long time, it wasn't enough and I would end up getting 4th place in the tournament. Despite obviously wanting to repeat for a 4th straight year, I was mostly happy with how things ended up. This year, there would be a new champion...

It would come down to Gary and Jason...

Gary was pretty stressed....

But in the end, he prevailed....the new 2008 Champion! Congrats man...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nice Package...

So, yesterday, we got a package in the mail from As it is the holiday season, it seems like we have something fun in the mail pretty much every day in the last week. This time it was a big box on our door step. What treasures would await in this giant package?!?!?!
Well, hopefully it is not breakable because look at the absolutely piss poor job they did in wrapping it:

Well, at least they put air bags inside to keep this treasure safe. Still, a big box like this, I am so excited!!!

And what was in this GIANT box.....

Yes, they really did use this gigantic box for a friggin' calendar. You have got to be kidding me!!!!

The dimensions...

Calendar: 15in x 15in x less than ¼ in thick

Box: 17 3/4in x 21 1/2in x 12in

No, the calendar isn't for me....

On a side note, I drove past this place today. Now, I am sure they do something pretty commendable, but don't you think they could have come up with a different, not so creepy, name?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I almost didn't make it here

A few weeks ago when I turned the lights off on this blog, I hut the door on getting to today's events. As it turned out, I came back and because of this, I can say that today is the four year anniversay of my blog. Yup, 4 years ago I wrote my very first post and well, I coudln't be happier with the way things have turned out. Well, I guess I could be one of the most popular blogs on the net, but let's face it, my writing is far from that type of quality or consistency. I know I thanked you all when I took down my blog a few weeks ago, but again, thank you to you all.

As I enter my FIFTH(!!!!) year of blogging, I have an exciting feature coming up for 2009 that I would like to announce now. As you may all know by now, I love burgers. They are easily my favorite food. I often wonder how many burgers I eat in a year so this year I will keep track. To make it fun, I will take a picture of every single burger I eat next year and feature it on the blog. To make it even more fun, I will turn it into a contest for my fellow readers:

It is quite simple, guess how many burgers I will eat in 2009. Post your answer in the comments. Closest to the correct answer will win a prize, but I have no idea what it will be yet.

I know Jess wants to get in on the fun so she will also do her own little contest with HER favorite food, complete with pictures. So.....

How many times will Jess eat ice cream next year?

The rules for me - if it is a burger(Ground beef) on a bun, it is a burger, no matter what else is on it. For Jess, every time she eats ice cream - bowls of ice cream, cones, a la mode, or a Blizzard.

I think this will be fun. Remember, this begins in 2009, not right now at this moment. Let the guesses begin...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Tunes and Treats

Got a couple of things for you today. First is a fun link that I got off one of the message boards that I frequent.

Curious about what was the #1 song on the Billboard charts on the day you were born?

Click on this link!!!

When I was born, it was "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late" by Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams

I know a lot of old songs, but I can honestly say that I have no idea what that song is.

How about the #1 song when I turned 18? - "Tha Crossroads" by Bone thugs-n-harmony

I liked that song...

When I turned 21? - "Livin' La Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin

HA! That is too funny.

Oh, how about I go back exactly 9 months from when I was born. My conception song if you will(I know, I know, I wasn't necessarily conceived 9 months before I was born. Just for fun)

"Best of My Love" by The Emotions

Hehe - naughty, naughty!

How about you?

A quick update on my weight as I haven't updated in a while. I think last time I updated my weight loss since I got the Wii Fit in June, I was down almost 17 pounds. That was near the end of September. Well, I reached a low of around 17.2 pounds right before we left for DC. Now, I know we ate out every meal when we were in DC(not like we could cook), but we walked our ASSES off for that week so I didn't think I would gain a LOT. I was wrong..

I came back and weighed in - 8.9 pounds gained. I was beside myself and pissed. That was mid October. Well, since then, I have been doing ok. I finally got all the weight off and got down to a low of 17.5 pounds total lost right before Thanksgiving. I am pretty proud of myself. Well, mostly. Since turkey day, I have gained back roughly 3 pounds as I think we have cooked dinner exactly one time since then. Jessica's stepmom who as you remember has cancer, wa sin the hospital pretty much all last week and that involved Jess going to see her every night after work at home and at the hospital. Well, that means bringing home food every night and well, that isn't the best for you. I am not too worried as I know we just need ot get back on track; and we will. But overall, it is going ok. A few more pounds to get back to my low and then...oh yeah, Christmas!!!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Go Speed Racer.......GOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

It has been a week since I blogged, but I am not burnt out already. In fact, there is a TON I have to blog about, but it was a very busy work week. First week of the month....sigh...

Anyways, I don't want to try to cram everything into one long post so I will blog today, take the weekend off, and then have a post for you every day next week! Yeah!

Monday, some friends and I went to R.P.M here in town which is a go-cart racing track. This is not your miniature golf type go-carts. These definitely have more speed and handle MUCH better while being on a good track. Check them out here!

I have been there a few times with my father-in-law, but the large majority of my friends had never been there. So, after months of planning, we got a large group of us together after work on Monday and had us some good times.
Safety first!
Getting in our cars
Let's go!
Duncan hugging the turn
Me coming around the corner like a pro

Track is pretty big

Here I come again!

Get off my ass!

Not in any particular order...

Good times!

Friday, November 28, 2008

BLACK Friday

Yes, the day after Thanksgiving. We spend all Thursday with family and thinking of all the things that we are thankful for. 24 hours later, we become a nation of savages as we fight with one another to get get the best deals at the store before our fellow man can get to them first. In Long Island, people really took their holiday greed to the next level:


NEW YORK – A Wal-Mart worker was killed Friday after an "out of control" throng of shoppers eager for post-Thanksgiving bargains broke down the doors at a suburban store and knocked him to the ground, police said.

At least four other people, including a woman eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or minor injuries, and the store in Valley Stream on Long Island closed for several hours before reopening.

Nassau police said about 2,000 people were gathered outside the store doors at the mall about 20 miles east of Manhattan. The impatient crowd knocked the man to the ground as he opened the doors, leaving a metal portion of the frame crumpled like an accordion.

"This crowd was out of control," said Nassau police spokesman Lt. Michael Fleming. He described the scene as "utter chaos."

Dozens of store employees trying to fight their way out to help the man were also getting trampled by the crowd, Fleming said. Witnesses said that even as the worker lay on the ground, shoppers streamed into the store, stepping over him.

Kimberly Cribbs, who witnessed the stampede, said shoppers were acting like "savages."
"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been on line since yesterday morning,'" she said. "They kept shopping."

The 34-year-old man was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 6 a.m., police said. The exact cause of death has not been determined, and the man's name was not released.

A 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to a hospital, where she and the baby were reported to be OK, said police Sgt. Anthony Repalone. At least three other people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries.

Police said criminal charges were possible in the case, but Fleming said it would be difficult to identify individual shoppers. Authorities were reviewing surveillance video.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark., called the incident a "tragic situation" and said the employee came from a temporary agency and was doing maintenance work at the store.

"The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top priority," said Dan Fogleman, a company spokesman. "At this point, facts are still being assembled and we are working closely with the Nassau County Police as they investigate what occurred."

Shoppers around the country line up early outside stores on the day after Thanksgiving in the annual bargain-hunting ritual known as Black Friday. It got that name because it has historically been the day when stores broke into profitability for the full year

It is sickening. It really is. My favorite part is where they ask people to leave because someone has died and they reply that they had been in line all night. Oh, boo fucking hoo on you. Why don't you stay in line then, but the product you were planning on getting, and then give it to the family of the poor guy who was trampled? I am sure that family is going to have a GREAT Christmas now! Unbelievable...

Despite the horror from this story, I am not against Black Friday. I like to look at all the ads the day before and see if there are any can't pass up deals. I have no problem getting up in the early morning if there is something I really want. I don't resort to mob mentality, but it is fun oging out and being done with going from store to store by 9am. I went out this morning and what I found was a sharp contrast from last year. Last year, I stood in lines for 30-45 minutes to buy something. Parking spaces were hard to come by. Crowds were shoulder to shoulder. Today? Not so much. At the few places we bought things, there were 2 or 3 people in front of us in line. Parking was plentiful. You could shop comfortably without running into people. I am sure our economy has NOTHING to do with this change! Yeah, that was sarcasm...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Like a Phoenix

I'm back
the fog has lifted
The earth has shifted
and raised the gifted
You knew I'd be back so pack your bone
And hit the road jack cause daddy's home
In the end, I couldn't do it. I love writing too much, even if it is usually just nonsense. Over the past couple of weeks, I can count numerous times where I thought of something I could post on the blog and then remembered I don't have it any more. Maybe it was the finality of it that opened up my creative juices again. The statement that you don't really know what you got until it is gone it not always just cliche bullshit. Once I took away my outlet for laying out what was on my mind, the world gave me a big "Yeah, right" and started throwing creative ideas out into my world left and right. It has been a tough year for Jess and I for a large variety of reasons and the worst is nowhere near behind us. However, if I just sit and dwell on it instead of expressing myself, it might end up being worse. This past weekend, Jess and I were out to lunch and we saw a child who behaved as if he was just a miniature me. At that moment, I said to myself, "How can I NOT write about this?" I can't just keep this story to myself and Jess and that was it. It was at the moment I knew I was coming back. Thanks for the well wishes in the previous post and no, this was never a ploy to gather sympathy and build my self esteem. 2 weeks ago, I really was done. Now, it is a new beginning...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

All good things...

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened. - Dr. Seuess

It is what you are thinking. This is the final post on Manuel's View. I've been thinking about it for a while and every time I thought about it, I convinced myself to stay around for a few more posts. My posts have been fewer and fewer lately, and well, I'm just tired. I was one month short of four years. Four years, man; I don't know whether to laugh or cry. In the end, I've just run out of things to say and the desire to write about whatever nonsense is going on in my life. Will I return someday? Possibly. At this point in time, I think I am done with blogging. I might miss writing, but I have something up my sleeve should I ever have a desire to write again. A few years ago, I came up with a plot for a story that I really liked and I followed it up by writing the first chapter which I ended up loving. But that is at far as it went. Maybe I will pick that up again.

To my fellow bloggers who I have met, I thank you for all your support and feedback. This blog would have closed a lot sooner if many of you hadn't come along and made me feel like my writings were worth something. You guys are all awesome and write beautifully and encourage you to keep up the good work. Thank you to my family and friends for their support by reading daily. Thank you to my wife and Rich for occassionally contributing to the blog. Thank you all. It has been fun, but like the cliche says, all good things must come to an end.

And like that........he's gone......

Monday, November 03, 2008

The costumes!

Well, Saturday we had our Halloween party and if you ask me, the costumes came out great. My sister helped us on Saturday evening with our makeup and stuff and the overall look. Really, no words would do it justice so here are the pictures. Enjoy...