Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Waiting Game

As the month of June draws to a close an uncomfortable silence settles in around me - it's time.

The time when, well, ANY time now, I should be hearing something back from the wonderful people at the CFC.

I'm doing my best not to be THAT guy - you know that guy - the one who calls them up and pesters away, trying to milk out any teensy bit of info. It's not easy, that's for sure - I've picked up and hung up my phone at least 3 times today, overriding that instinctual need to KNOW one way or the other.

And so I keep on keepin' on - I ended up going to work today, deciding against taking the day off and realized that working when everyone's off is probably one of the worst ideas I could've thought up. I came into the office today to see that almost none of the work that was assigned to be completed over the weekend was done. In fact, a good chunk of it was left on my desk with a nice little 'smiley' post-it note.

Thanks guys, I love you too.

Yet no matter where I wander my phone's by my side, ringtone cranked. Nope, not on vibrate today - if someone calls I wanna hear it loud and clear.

On a side note: I was walking through the halls earlier today and I heard my ringtone clear as day, damn near jumped out of my skin. Turns out I'm not the only person working today after all and the Universe knows how to play one hell of a practical joke.

I think I'm starting to develop a twitch.

In other news, I spent a good amount of the weekend cooking with my girlfriend - it was actually a nice little moment in time, to be surrounded by warm laughter and the smell of fresh cilantro. (Incidentally, ground pork and cilantro is my new favourite flavour).

Yeah, as far as distractions come, I couldn't have asked for better. She helped to keep my mind off the CFC stuff and firmly on the task at hand - which was good 'cause the knife was a lot sharper than I remembered. Together we came up with a pretty tasty dinner and a decent pot of chili. I think I'll be having leftovers for most of the week (not really a bad thing).

But time keeps on ticking and there's really not much left for me to do but wait it out - as sucky as that is. I'm trying to keep my mind occupied on other things: writing, drawing, whistling, watching TV - only it's not long before I find my mind slipping back into that familiar rut.

Yeah, waiting's always the hardest part.

I'm gonna go heat up some chili.

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Musical Interlude

“List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now.”

So Mr. McGrath tagged me in an fun little internet meme and it's actually pretty interesting because I'd been pondering writing about this last weekend when I hit the Video Games Live concert out at Dundas Square.

For those not in the know, Video Games Live is a concert where they have a full orchestra come out and play classic Video Game soundtracks - from the bouncy fun of the Super Mario Bros theme song to the extreeeemely badass riffs of "one-winged angel" (the mind-searing final-boss battle tune from Final Fantasy VII).

Now, I know not a lot of people 'get' videogame music - my girlfriend certainly doesn't - she doesn't quite understand why the crowd went wild when (out of nowhere) the orchestra burst into the Castlevania theme or went stone silent when the heart-breaking notes of "Aeris' theme" wafted out amongst the crowd.

I've gotta give the lady credit though, she stuck it out and even had a good time - obviously not as good a time as myself, but she recognized a few songs and characters, most notably that stupid giant mole boss from Super Mario Galaxy (she had quite a time figuring out how to beat him). She kind of ribbed me a bit for being a geek but that's okay I came to terms with my thumb callouses a long time ago.

Personally, I found it pretty awesome (in the awe-inspiring sense) that so many people could come together and share what are normally single person experiences (unlike movies, we often end up playing games alone). I mean, to hear so many others that I've never met singing the same tunes and having the fond memories as me, it's a really cool sense of community. That night I talked to several people at random and we all ended up just laughing and joking around, chatting about our favourite games and levels - offering tips and advice.

All-in-all, it was an amazing night for me and it brought back a lot of fond memories.

And so, in that spirit, I'm going to share with you 7 of my favourite video game songs - hopefully you enjoy them as much as I do:

Chrono Cross - Dream of a Shore Near Another World


Final Fantasy VII - One Winged Angel


Legend Of Zelda - Main Theme


Halo - Main Theme


Mega Man 3 - Title Theme


Super Mario Brothers - Medley


Final Fantasy 6 - Overworld Theme/Terra's Theme


I just want to say that there are so many fantastic songs that I had an insanely hard time cutting down this list, this post has been sitting in my Draft bin since Sunday night as I've been trying to narrow down the songs.

Hopefully you enjoy my little selection - and there's a TON more where this came from. It really saddens me that more people don't get the chance to experience the emotions and the stories that follow some of these games (which in some cases are top notch).

Anyways, enjoy.

Oh yeah, and I tag Cameron, Elize and Mr. Epstein (if he hasn't been tagged already).

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dim the lights.

“I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it. “ - George Carlin

There are a lot of things that are going to be said about him, there are a lot of things that I want to say about him... But I'm not sure that putting it into words would do it justice.

I'm going to try anyway.

George Carlin - with his honest, 'fuck you, you hypocritical bastard' style - helped to get me through some pretty hard times when I was younger. With all the shit flying around my head, I could just pop in a cassette (thanks to good ol' uncle Carl) and let it all go.

You see, he made it okay for me to be pissed off at the system and life and all the stupid shit you're pissed off at when you're in the midst of a shitload of changes and the world just don't make sense. Hell, even through he was only in my headphones he was still the only adult in my life at the time that seemed to even acknowledge that things were fucked up.

His words and honesty - his perception - guided me through places and times that my parents simply couldn't. And... yeah... he made me laugh when everything around me made me want to cry.

Yet, as I grew up and 'matured' I found myself appreciating even more about this man - the heart behind the cynic. The man who desperately wanted everything to be okay and was so desperately pissed off that no one - for all our intelligence and 'power' - could figure out how to make it right.

Even as he railed against the system and the hypocrites, as he called down his fury against religion and big business, what he seemed to be saying is "Why can't you all just fix this?!"

To live that long and see all this wonderful promise, all this potential and then to see it savaged and lost to something as banal as greed and apathy -- well, let's just say I feel a certain amount of kinship with Mr. Carlin.

In everything I've seen, everything I've heard, I get the sense that he wanted to believe that we could be better - that what we are was not all we are capable of being.

Unfortunately, as time marched on and the world refused to get with the program, lines like his classic quote "Inside every cynical person, there's a disappointed idealist” seemed to echo out from a much darker place.

What broke my heart was watching his later stand-up, to see him older - haggard and angry, to watch those brief moments where the comedy melted away and the pain of it all seeped in. His frustration was palpable and when it happened the crowd just went silent. Luckily, being the showman that he was, he always seemed to be able to get it back - to step away from the edge of that abyssal heartbreak that he must've felt.

Some days I don't know how he did it.

George Carlin looked at the world and he saw the big picture. He saw it and wondered why no one else did - or if they did, why weren't they doing anything about it? Why was everyone allowing themselves to get caught up in all the niggling little shit that doesn't really matter in the end?

What inspired me was that instead of being defeated by this, instead of letting it all break him, he stood up and fought back in the only way he could: he used laughter and language and nuance and rage to make us see – to give us a glimpse of the world outside. He worked to find ways to bring us together, to push us to surpass the social and economic limitations put upon us by those who think they know better.

And the world is a better place because of his fight.

George Carlin is dead but his words – his intentions and his insights – are what matter. They will remain here to uplift, enrage and inspire any who dare to listen and question the world around them – who wish to make their own decisions about what is ‘right’ and who gets to say so.

I’m going to leave you with some videos I’ve selected to show the man that I will remember.

Thanks George, for everything.

Cheers,
Brandon

Things that bring us together:


Soft Language:


The Ten Commandments:


Pro-Life is Anti-Woman:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Those Greedy Bastards! (And how it's all our fault.)

So I have to thank Mr. Henshaw for inadvertently starting me on a new rant. His wonderful post "Expensive oil or white collar crime" got me all fired up over the concept of rampant greed - something that I'm sure most of us are becoming acutely aware of these days. Between the Mortgage fiasco down South, the respawning of the Oil crisis or the many and varied accounts of utterly stupid amounts of greed. Just today they finally brought charges against the former Nortel execs whose unchecked greed lead to the loss of over 60,000 jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars.

And so I posted in the comments about my frustration with the situation and then laid the responsibility right where it belongs: With us. Like it or not, we're the caretakers of the system.

All of us.

It's funny because if you look at this closely, at a micro-level, you almost can't blame these people, individually. In reality they're just looking out for themselves.

Yet that, in itself, is the root of it.

As I see it, the root problem is that a lot of people try to create this 'mound' of crap for themselves - usually once they start a family. They want to have 'stuff' for themselves and 'stuff' to leave for their kids - they need to have a house and a car and a legacy.

Is that so wrong? No, not in theory, not on a small scale. But now you've got millions of people all scrambling to grab all they can and keep it from one another to give to their own.

The more money you have, the more crap you can grab for yourself because that's the power we allow 'money' to have.

And hey, if we had infinite resources, this wouldn't be a problem. But we don't and thus it is. Now imagine that on a Global scale - unchecked ambition with mass amounts of hoarded power granted to small amounts of people.

That, in theory, is why we have laws. To ensure that all people get a fair shake, that no one's just going to come along and murder you and take what you have or steal what you've earned. Do they work? Well, that's a whole other story - best answer: sometimes. Laws only work when the masses stay an active and informed part of the system (though sometimes not even then). I love how people love to say 'the system is broken' like it's somehow beyond them, not realizing that they, themselves, are the system - an incredible, powerful, strong part of the system. The system is broken because we are broken, we have only limited interest in keeping the system working and thus, like any neglected machine, it fails us.
Constantly.

At the end of the day, we are all interconnected - and not in some silly, stoned-out hippy kind of way. I mean that our individual actions have ramifications that affect each other in direct proportion to the amount of power we have. When we work together with a common interest - well, that's when shit gets done. That's when COUNTRIES are formed or wars get ended (or started...). When we work together, that is when corruption is exposed and eliminated - culled from the herd like the disease it is.

It's not easy to keep the system in check but it's not easy because we have a few trying to watch the many - as opposed to the many trying to watch the few. Like the old adage goes "many hands make light work".

The reality of the situation is that most people just want to do their thing, live their life and be happy. It's when we stop looking out for one another, that's when this shit starts to take root. It's when we stop communicating with each other that corruption thrives.

What makes it the saddest thing to hear is that it's the easiest thing in the world to fix. You just have to give a damn and convince the person beside you to give a damn. Give a damn enough to be motivated to fix the problem.

Easy-peasy, right?

Cheers,
Brandon

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's a matter of confidence, really.

"I am supporting those amendments, the party supports those amendments," said Liberal critic Denis Coderre. "I don't have any problem, personally, to have an election on culture and what kind of Canada you want to live in."

And it is with those words that the Liberal party seems to have finally found their balls (ahem, so to speak).

I like to think of myself as pretty 'party neutral', I try to hold all politicans - regardless of what banner they fly - accountable for the snail trail they leave in their wake. Unfortunately it seems like the Conservative Party, as of late, has been acting a tad too big for their britches.

And it was killing me (and a good number of Canadians) that they seemed to be getting away with it.

After the stink of Bill C-10 came bubbling up to the surface - nearly wiping out the Canadian TV and Film industry as we know it while rewarding Americans who would cross the border to work here on the cheap - a good number of people have turned their attention toward our Parliament.

The extra pairs of eyes have managed to find a few more rats peeking out from the murky little ecosystem they've managed to start for themselves up there - and with more flashlights and pitchforks joining the fray it would seem like the Liberal party is finally stepping up.

'Bout damn time.

Now I know a politician's job is to represent his or her consitituents - in theory, their own personal feelings are not supposed to play a part in this sort of thing, they're there to do the bidding of those who elected them. Of course, that's not how it often works out. The other half of the deal is that the politician is supposed to report back to their constituents about things that are going to effect them.

Apparently the idea of what 'effects' people is quite open to interpretation.

Censoring the Canadian voice to allow for American interests to benefit? Well, I would think that's somehow 'tell-worthy'. And yet it's been awfully quiet up on the hill - haven't heard anything from my MP or MPP in a while, about anything, really. Guess it's not election time yet...

As an outsider to the process, having the guts of it exposed like it's been - seeing the clockwork laid bare - I'm really getting an appreciation for how much of a game it really is. Like the political version of 'Operation' our government works their agenda from behind the scenes, trying to slip in as many changes as they can without 'Touching the sides'.

Now I'm not so naive as to think this isn't how things get done in this country, but to see it so blatant and so brazen - to see a Government caught red-handed and then to try and use polling numbers to get their opponents to back down and let the changes through anyway... it just blows my mind.

The scariest part is that it seemed to work for quite a good chunk of time - the Conservative government attempting to turn Bill C-10 into a confidence vote so that if it failed Parliament would fold and the Liberals (not doing too well in the polls) would have another, much bigger, fight on their hands.

Oh how I shook my head as I watched Mr. Dion's crew quiver in their seats. So powerless to do anything to stop it. And whatever could they do? Certainly they didn't want to risk the Conservatives winning a Majority. So of course, when in doubt, do nothing.

It's one thing when you watch a Majority Government change your country on a whim it's another when you watch a Minority Government bend your country over a table - in broad daylight - with barely a mutter of dissent.

Okay, maybe there was dissent inside the walls but if there was, I certainly didn't hear much of it out here. Where'd all that passion go that was so flamboyantly on display when it was time for us to cast our votes?

And where were the Bloc or the NDP? One would think Jack Layton, former poster-boy for 'new politics' in Canada, would've been raising a shitstorm of his own but again, I heard whispers at best.

Only now, as Canadians mobilize themselves, as they inform themselves, as they fight to get involved, do the politicians stand up with the fire and brimstone to champion 'our culture' and 'our way of life'. We shouldn't HAVE to be learning about these scandals from the newspapers, our own politicians should be policing themselves - warning us ahead of time of what's coming down the pipe. How is it that a reporter at the Globe and Mail knew more about an upcoming bill (in this case C-61) than our own politicians?

Well, hey, at least it's happening. I guess I should be thankful for that.

Now, since you're up, would you please do something about Bill C-61 (that ridiculous Canadian knock off of the DMCA), Canadian Net Neutrality and Bill C-51?

That last one's a bit of a pet project of mine that makes the implications of Bill C-10 look like a fart in the wind in comparision. The ramifications of this bill being passed would effect almost every single Canadian life in a big way.

Imagine a law that would allow search and seizures without warrants (or evidence!!) and allow for fines of up to $5 million if you're caught growing, sharing or preserving an 'unregistered health product'.

For the record, 'unregistered health product' equals dangerous things like: Garlic and Vitamins. Basically anything of the 'heal thyself' variety that's cheap and therefore in competition with Big Pharma. (oh yes, there's always another battle, sad as that is to say).

Read more on the bill (and how it will effect you) here: http://www.stopc51.com/

Read a pretty scathing legal review of C-51 (written by Shawn Buckley, President of the NHPPA - Natural Health Products Protection Association) here: http://www.stopc51.com/c51/legal_review.pdf

Join the Facebook group! (over 33,000 strong) here: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=12580615687

Oh, and take a look at the following video as Assistant Deputy Minister Meena Ballantyne is caught on camera recruiting in universities for Bill C-51 - a full month before the Bill is even tabled! She lets slip some interesting details on what our government has planned...



Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, June 16, 2008

Battlescarred

So, I finally got around to seeing the halfway point finale for Battlestar Galactica Season 4 (thank you PVR *big smooch*).

Just a big ol' warning button here - Muchos spoilers of the large variety to follow so please watch the episode first if you haven't already.

Moving on...

I sat there dumbfounded as they stood together on that black soil, the geiger counter ricketting away - wreakage and ruin stretching as far as the eye could see. It was a harsh change from the feeling of hope that'd been present before - only moments ago - as they'd first jumped into orbit around the big blue marble we like to call "Earth".

As the credits rolled I found myself... bothered. I get the narrative, I get why they took it there but as the screen faded to black, I felt frustrated - and not in the good way.

I was reading through some blogs today and I hit upon Mr. McGrath's take on the mid-point finale. He makes a lot of sense but one of the things that really hit home with me was this:

"But for a show like BSG, where they do their best to throw curves, eventually wears to a point where you can sense that thing coming, as I did -- just because that's their thing. It's like going to an M. Night film. The guy always has a twist, so at a certain point, even if the twist doesn't suck, it's still not really going to do it for you because you get jaded. "Here it comes. Ooh. The twist." And it doesn't impress you even if it's good. Familiarity breeds -- well, if not contempt, then at least...complacency? I don't know."

I started to think about what it was that bugged me about the halfway point finale and I think I've figured it out: It seems to me that BSG ends its major revelations on a down beat.

Granted, I'm not sure how you could reveal the final 4 and it be a happy occaision, but I think - especially on this occaision - I feel somehow cheated.

I get the sense that the ending was too much - like they sullied a moment that they'd worked so hard to earn. Maybe they were too afraid to allow themselves to truly bask in the glory of their accomplishment or maybe they thought it wasn't a 'good enough' ending to have it end on a high note as they floated around Earth, a million questions lingering.

Anyone who watches the show knows it's not going to end well. This is not going to be a series that has a big ol' red happy bow on it - so I feel like they cheated themselves (and us) out of having that one true, pure moment. That apex where we as the viewer know it's all going to go downhill from there. I mean, come on! I know the shit's going to hit the fan - there's 10 episodes left - so let them have their moment and let it end there.

Yes, I know, it's not 'Galactica-style' to do that, but that's why it was needed. We know this season's going to break our hearts - hell, Mr. Olmos himself described Season 4 as "devastating".

Give them their moment in the sun.

Personally, if you had to have that touch of darkness, I would have preferred to have seen it end with the fleet together, celebrating as one - truly celebrating and then, maybe somewhere off to the side of CIC we see a sensor go off or a little warning pop or a biohazard sign beep. Just a little something to darken the horizon, to let us know that everything's not Kosher. But even that may have been too much. We already have a million questions and the one you answered in the very end would've served just as good a launching point for the last half of the season. Why'd you have to show it now?

I think, in a sense, that it bothers me so much because the ending forgets that the viewer has been on this journey too and doesn't reward anyone properly for taking the journey with them. Instead we get sour faces on a ruined planet and the feeling that everything we've invested into the show thus far has been for nothing.

Okay, sorry, that was pretty harsh. But, still...

We could've seen resolutions made and friendships rekindled (even if only for a moment), we could've seen a real reaction between the Humans and the Cylons or just basked in the moment together. We could've seen so much more, we could've enjoyed that moment in the sun (yes, even from orbit) if we were allowed to.

But we weren't.

Instead, I felt like the writers didn't trust the audience enough to enjoy the culmination of that moment with them. And that's a shame because it was something I would've enjoyed, something that would've made the experience fulfilling for the characters and the viewers - granting them the time to appreciate the fullness of the completion of their goal and then ending with that high point.

Unfortunately, that's not what happened. As I watched the pain on their faces, as I watched their hope scuttled after such struggle and pain, it felt cheap to me. And I know it's just my 2 cents an' all but a part of me is starting to wonder why the characters don't look directly at the camera and say "Why can't we catch a fucking break around here?!"

All-in-all, while the hum-drum ending wasn't a dealbreaker for me, it did make feel sad for the first time when watching my favourite show. And that sucks.

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Notes from the Countryside

I got away from the city for a bit and it was a nice change. I went up to a place where mosquitoes mate freely (unlike some Young People who Fuck...) and feast on our blood like the Vampyres of old. A great many times I likened it to being set at the edge of a Horror flick - with its long, rolling fields and looming Canadian forests - hell, if we got lost out there it wouldn't be pretty.

Well, except for the part where I still had 5 bars on my cell phone about 5 miles deep into the woods. Talk about your creep-killer.

We explored some caves and stalked through the timberland in search of some sort of adventure. Short of muddy shoes and a good deal of swollen, itchy appendages we ended up coming out of it a-okay (much to our chagrin...).

I've been thinking alot lately about how I came to be a writer and how my life would've been different had I chosen to follow that path alone instead of wandering all over Hell's half-acres like I have. You see, back when I was a kid - like 5 or 6 - I used to love to write, even won an award or something for it (my mom's got the medal packed away somewhere).

They said I was a 'very imaginative' child and they thought I'd have a great future as a writer. Of course I had other ideas - I wanted to be an artist. Well, actually I wanted to be a Robotics Technician but only because I liked the sound of the words, I had no idea what the job actually entailed. I knew I loved to draw though, that was a big thing for me. Writing, meh, it was just something I did, drawing was what WOWed people.

And so I spent most of my time doodling in school, never paying attention to the compliments I'd be getting on my essays and ignoring the marks I was getting for my written work. Writing was just something I did - if I needed an essay I'd wait until the night before and bang something out, confident I'd at least pull out a B.

Gawd, looking back on it I feel like smacking that young kid around a bit.

I ended up going to college for Art and Design - again, getting exempted from the College-level English course based off an essay I threw together in under an hour. I never respected the gift that I had been given and the part that kills me is that I never PUSHED it.

Until now.

I sit here looking at my screen some nights just wondering where I'd have been had I recognized what I had. Or if someone had recognized what I had and pushed or guided me. Would I be established by now? Would I be a well-known writer?

Or would I still be that quiet, removed, loner kid who was afraid to talk to anyone?

Yeah, there's a better question: Who would I be? I mean, the respect that I've gained - not just for my writing, but for all writing - has taken a long time to reach me, it took me a long time to realize that this is my calling. But I think the respect that I've learned is more important because of that. I can say, undoubtedly, that who I am now is because of the people I've met along the way, because of all the paths I've trod to get here.

And, frankly, I like who I am now.

Yet there are days when I'm typing away or bashing my head against that imaginary brick wall when I can't help but wonder where I'd be had I not squandered my gift for so long.

Though maybe 'squandered' is a bit too harsh a word. It took me a while to get here but I did manage to earn a wicked story or two to tell along the way. And really, isn't that what being a writer's all about?

Cheers,
Brandon

Monday, June 02, 2008

Summer Lovin'

Waking up with sunshine blaring in your face is, well, it's a nice switch compared to our wonderfully dreary winters - however I'm still not entirely sold on this whole ' bright, shiny, happy thing'. No, I'm not going Goth, I just had a rather eye-opening experience this past weekend.

The lady and I went out to this weird shindig where they take a photo of your skin and take another that goes 'just below the surface' - about 2 millimeters to be exact. I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into but I thought "hey, it's a nice day out, lets enjoy it a bit'.

So we end up at this rather swanky spa that smells disturbingly of 'fresh, clean citrus scent #31' - essentially it's like someone standing under your nose and squeezing a cocktail of fresh lemons, grapefruit and ozone up your nose. At first it was kind of refreshing but by the time we were done I was pretty much ready to go mano-a-mano with Mr. Clean's metrosexual younger brother.

Anyways, we end up on the 4th floor in a dimly lit room that could almost pass for Caligula's walk-in closet - waiting and watching as freshly-buffed people saunter around us in pristine terrycloth (or whatever the expensive version of terrycloth is) bathrobes. Not to harp on them, I'm sure they're very nice and all, maybe I was still reeling from the lemon-grove sprouting in my nostrils.

One by one they call us in, get us to fill out a little survey and talk about our skin types. Lucky Irish/Italian man that I am, I get to be skin type #3. What does that mean? I guess it means that I get the dubious honour of frying like an Irishman before crisping like a Sicilian. Good times.

Anywho - so they lead me into this small room (and of course they're all named - I think I was in the 'Venus' room or something) with a smiling young woman in a lab coat and a camera that looks like it was found in my Grandfather's basement. As I settled into the room she began asking me questions. And with each question I felt my heart sink a little more.

"Did you ever get a sunburn before the age of 18?" Yep. Several. I was outside a lot when I was a kid. I probably spent most of my pre-teen years impersonating a lobster when summertime rolled around (until I discovered Nintendo, that is...).

"Didn't you use sunscreen?" Uh, no. Who had time for sunscreen? Better yet, who cared?

So then her eyes roll a bit in her head and she gives me this look that looks eerily like my mom's only a tad more condescending - I wonder if that's a look that mothers bestow up on their kids or if it's just genetic, shared through our common bond of Humanity?

Right, well, she asks me to rest my chin on the stand and close my eyes. A brief double-flash later and she pulls out the picture - setting it aside while talking to me about how disastrous my childhood was for my skin.

Nice.

With the photo ready she prepared to pull off the protective cover but paused long enough to warn me that it may be a bit 'shocking'.

"How bad can it be?"

Holy Fuck, I've got shit spackle all over my face.

Before me laid a side by-side comparison of my face and 'below' my face. Now, I've always had some freckles, they act up in the summer and go away in the fall - I just thought it was a natural part of who I was. Apparently it's not. According to my petite lab-coated friend, that deluxe coating of dark blotches littering my face is IRREVERSIBLE skin damage.

Now, I'm not a vain man, I'm not someone who spends 60 minutes trying to get my hair in the proper 'fell-out-of-bed' arrangement before heading off to work- but Holy melanoma, Batman! I freaked out pretty hardcore -- Not like gasping for breath or anything, hell I didn't even start screaming and doing little kiddy-spins on the floor, but inside, I was fucking losing it.

"Here are your problem areas" she said, gesturing to spots that could've been satellite photos of a post-war mine field.

"So, uh, what can I do?" I asked, thinking "I'm sure NOW she's going to try and sell me something, something to fix it and make it better". Uh, no. "Sorry, that's how it is, we can't do anything about it - all you can do is try to keep it from getting worse".

And then she gave me a free bottle of sunscreen and sent me on my way.

I got to keep the picture.

Yay.

Wear your sunscreen, kids. Or a sombrero.

Cheers,
Brandon