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Tuesday
Jul222014

Why My Children Will Be Smurf Children 

 

Keep your options open. No, keep your mind open. 

I say that, because a few weeks ago, my lady dyed her hair teal. Sometimes it looks more blue, sometimes it looks green. 

She had been talking about doing something crazy with her hair for a while, then just made an appointment and did it. 

Now, you know how you like dudes that are exactly 6-foot-2 with 6 percent body fat, a pHD at least, with a neck tattoo?

Or how your girl has to have shoulder length hair, an Xbox Live subscription and wear no less than a Double D?

Throw all of that out. Really, get rid of it. We evolve like crazy, so you never know what's going to make you tick tomorrow. Be fluid with it. 

Because that blueness has my head messed up.

I can't keep my smurfing hands off Mrs. G. So if I bow out of the no kids club, just know that it was meant to be. The gods so fit to bless me with a blue headed goddess and I yielded to the desires of the universe. 

If Jay-Z can name his kid Blue, so can I. Or maybe if he's a boy I'll name him Azul. That's "blue" in Spanish. Because I'm cultured. 

-Rone

Monday
Jul212014

Bring Some, To Get Some Revisited: Fight Weekend

The heat was raw on my skin and the sting of sweat in my eyes made me glad I skipped the contact lenses.

Graham men sweat a lot, but I was drenched for good reason this time. It was Hell 2.0 as the former reporter in me felt the need to go through what a fighter goes through, in order to get to the meat of the “story”.

The fighter was my friend, Justin “The Tactician” Patterson, who was two days away from his third professional mixed martial arts bout. Mrs. G and myself had just gotten off a plane to Dallas, TX, where Justin and his wife, who I had known since freshman year of college, lived.

Justin was cutting weight for his fight, so that he could get down to the 170 pound limit for the weigh in the next day. I was the only “civilian” in the sauna, as two other fighters in Justin’s camp piled in and more sweat got in my eyes.

The four of us made small talk, until I realized that these dudes were crazy and I had to go find some oxygen. You see, they did maybe eight different 10-minute intervals in the heat box. I tapped out after number three or four.

It dawned on me that I was happy with my 185-ish body, and if I stayed in there sweating it out with them, I was going to accidentally drop down to about 170 right along with Justin. Not wanting to lose weight just to watch a fight, I let them endure the wrath of the heat for a little bit longer and excused myself to hydrate back up.

I went to the mat to knock out some pushups and burpees, so that I wouldn’t completely feel like a hoe cake.

We kicked it the whole day and got up early the next morning to drive about 4 hours for the weigh in. Justin still had some pounds to shed, so this dude wore sweats on sweats on sweats, along with what looked like a trash bag and a hoodie, so that he could leave sweaty ass prints get down to his target weight.

Now I’m sitting beside him in the truck and am debating whether to say something or just let him cook. I decided to ask him once and leave it at that. I’m sure they know what’s normal and what’s not.

 “You good, man?” I asked.

“I’ll live,” Justin said.

I felt the need to say something, because to me, he looked like he was dying. He was sweating like a whore in church and it seemed like it was taxing for him to even speak, as he drifted in and out of naps.

When we got to the weigh in, he was off his target weight and had to forego food and water as he jumped from treadmill to bike, bike to treadmill, treadmill to shadowboxing to keep sweating … keep sweating … keep sweating. 

I played the background, helping when I could, as his coach told him to relax, but still encouraging him to sweat it out. I wanted to be a fly on the wall and let him do his thing, not wanting to be the bad luck charm coming in from out of town, ruining the rhythm (and his undefeated record).

We got to the weigh ins and as soon as he stepped off the scale, Justin downed a pedialyte and devoured some delicious smelling turkey based concoction.

I was staying in the hotel room with Justin for the weekend, and from the night before to the afternoon on the day of the fight, we probably watched five or six movies. The vibe was low key, a contrast to the warfare that we both knew was about to take place.

 “Do your thing, man,” I told him one last time as he drifted off into the nap. 

I went across the street for the amateur fights and felt nerves running through my body. It’s clear that it’s an athletic competition, but there really is no escaping the fact that your friend is about to put his life and health on the line--and when they close the cage, there’s one way in and one way out.

My nerves calmed when it came time for his fight.

Now let me preface this by saying that Justin is an all smiles, Japanese anime watching, wife cuddling, nice dude. Let me preface it further by saying that he freely uses the word “yummy” to describe food that tastes good.

But when I went to the tunnel for his entrance, saw him take a knee and bow his head for a few minutes and come up—I got chills. 

I didn’t see the mild mannered dude I cut up with in Vegas. I didn’t see the dude who was talking about Pokemon hours before the fight. I looked in his eyes and saw the son of Satan, ready to bring hell to the cage.

 

“Yes, sir! Yes, sir!” you might hear me yelling in the video above.

He had a gang of supporters at the entrance, but I could tell by the look in his face that Justin had left the building and he didn’t see any of us. As Lil Wayne’s “Drop The World” played, the lyrics hit home as he marched to the octagon, mind right, ready for war.

“I got ice in my veins …. Blood in my eyes … Hate in my heart … Love in my mind.”

The lyrics were fitting.

They spent the first round feeling each other out, but it was clear that his opponent didn’t want to trade. His opponent attempted a take down early, but after that, Justin was finding him with his jab with increased frequency.

Once the second round opened up, Justin was pretty much picking his spots whenever he wanted, until he caught him with a clean shot, forced him into the cage and smothered him with rights and lefts until the ref waved it off.

Second round knockout.

I haven’t played basketball in years, so I’m not sure if I can still dunk. But when I saw the ref’s hand wave, I got out of my seat and jumped what felt like 15 feet in the air, about ten times in a row. I lost my voice screaming. I grabbed Mrs. G and threw her into the air about 15 times.

Victory.

Now I only got to witness a very, very small portion of what Justin went through to pick up that W. Aside from wanting to see a friend do well, I gained a crazy amount of appreciation for what you have to do mentally and physically to prepare for such a task.

You gotta bring some ass to get some ass.

Those were the words I remember boxer Antonio “Magic Man” Tarver saying in a post fight interview. He had recently shocked the world with a second round knockout of the then invincible Roy Jones Jr., and was taking on all challengers.

Those words stuck with me as I relate them to Justin’s fight and to life in general.

I don’t live inside of Justin’s head, but I’m sure that when he goes to that dark place, he knows that in order to put himself in a position to live his dream, he has to go out there, man to man and TAKE something from his opponent.

They both want the same thing out of life and both of their roads to glory run through each other. It’s the rawest, most pure form of ambition that you’ll see.

But in order to get that glory and accomplishment, he has to be willing to stand in there, with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide and accept the fact that his opponent is trying to rattle his brain or choke him out, the same way that he’s trying to--on the road to getting what he wants out of life.

Before all of that, he had to be willing to kill himself in the gym, at the dinner table and on the track in order to even have a seat at the table. There were no guarantees and you’re only as good as your last fight.

Moreover, there are only so many slots in the UFC, so you gotta kill yourself just to be good, let alone great.

With no entitlement, no guarantees that your dream will come to fruition and a daily battle to outdo yourself and push your limitations, you have to be willing to bring some ass, in order to get some ass.

While most of us aren’t fighters, it doesn’t make that any less of a reality.

Every day that I’m not writing, every day that I’m not on stage, every day that I’m not pushing my limitations, there is someone out there trying to take my spot. Since I’m not staffed on a TV show and haven’t made a dime off of standup, I don’t even have a legitimate spot to take at this point.

But if I ever hope to have a spot, I have to do it blindly, with full faith, paying my tab with effort up front, so that I can see the fruits of my labor on the back end. In the midst of “bringing some ass” I lose time with friends, time with my wife and basically walk a lonely road that only my comrades in writing and comedy will ever truly understand.

We all walk that road.

While your repercussions for not showing up to the dance might not be getting knocked out, it might be getting replaced at work by someone who went the extra mile to learn some skills.

You might not be stepping into a cage, but maybe every day you don’t show up, your husband or wife realizes that they’re being taken for granted and that they could do better.

You might not be getting in shape for a fight, but perhaps every day you say no to moving your body and eating right, you’re letting the great opponent Diabetes get an edge, or are shaving off the limited amount of good physical years you have to play with your kids or travel comfortably.

My point is that when you strip away the distractions, life is ALWAYS about getting ready for the next storm that’s coming and preparing yourself to get through it, so that your tomorrow is brighter. The storm is coming one way or another, so we always have to be focused on getting a reward out of it.

Now unfortunately, God made me too pretty to fight for a living, so I’ll have to apply those principles to dreams of my own. But I know that if I want something, it’s on me to go after it, and there’s no reason not to attack every challenge with the heart of a fighter. 

Monday
Mar312014

Five Reasons Standup Comedy Sucks When it Sucks

In an incredibly helpful video posted by comedian Ari Shaffir last year, he dropped an asinine amount of valuable info at LA’s Comedy Store, to baby comics like myself.

He said a lot of great stuff, but one of the things that stood out to me the most is that, until you bomb countless times, you don’t know anything.

Now I’ve bombed my fair share, and even got booed off stage once, but it looks like I have a healthy amount of bombing left to do before I smarten up. Most of the time, when you bomb, it’s because of the WAY you’re presenting yourself, and not so much the joke itself. Of course, unfunny is unfunny, but I’ve had stuff kill one set, and then bomb another set.

Thankfully, standup comedy, as with life, has lessons with every failure. In my couple of years doing standup, I’ve noticed five definite things that myself and other comics do, or don’t do, that can make or break a set.

Speak Up!

When I first started doing comedy in Blacksburg, Va., this was my main issue. I’m a naturally laid back dude, but the host and my first comedy mentor, Anthony Quinn Robinson, told me that I needed to speak up. Matter of fact, he said I sounded like I was trying to be a midnight love radio DJ. I’ve gotten better at it and don’t think it’s my Achilles heel anymore, but no matter where I’m doing time, I still hear those words echo in my head sometimes before I go on.

Reason being?

You have to control the crowd. You don’t have to be a loudmouth, rah rah type comic, but you have to speak with authority, especially when you first go on. Even if you’re a lazy, stoner type, your voice is your instrument, so you have to draw the crowd in, especially if alcohol is flowing and waitresses are milling about taking orders.

Shut Up!

Not literally, of course, but new comics are too verbose. I cringe looking at old videos, because I’ll kill with a setup and punch line, but then ramble for a minute and a half before saying something funny or interesting. Writing is in my blood, so I learned a long time ago that most of the time, tight is right and less is more.

The same applies with comedy.

I’ve learned to trim the fat with my sets, cut out any words that aren’t actively helping the joke and not ramble when explaining things. This makes your jokes stronger, especially when, if telling a long joke, you GET THERE with jokes, rather than empty explaining.

Don’t Waste Time

The biggest thing I miss about doing comedy in Virginia is that I could do 15+ minutes whenever I went on. In Hollywood, you’re doing 5-minute spots mostly, and if they’re crunched for time, you might get cut to three minutes.

While I have the luxury of doing open mics 7 nights a week, multiple times per night, I don’t have a chance to do as much time, so I don’t have time to waste. I was at a club a couple weeks back, where a comic had a 5-minute spot, and pulled out, (I am NOT making this up) a sword, a stick of dynamite and other assorted items.

There was a lineup of 10 comics or more, along with some musical guests. For someone going on with limited time, you can’t waste a second.

Fear of Silence

This past weekend, I took Mrs. G out to Inside Jokes on Hollywood Boulevard to support a fellow comic, Julian Michael, I met a little while ago. He had a great set, but though the jokes alone were funny, he added so much to it by taking a little moment to let it breathe.

Having that little moment of silence draws the crowd in, so that they want to laugh, even before hearing what you’re about to say next. I practiced this more in Virginia, but in Los Angeles, find myself sinking into bad habits of fearing silence, based on a joke not hitting, or talking too fast after watching comics bomb before me.

Which brings me to…

Fuck ‘Em

There really is absolutely no other way to put it.

Offstage, I’m the most chill, friendly, people loving person you’ll meet, but before I grab the mic, I have to go up there with the mindset that I’m better than you, and even if you don’t love me, Jesus does.

The split second you find yourself holding back, acting out of character, trying too hard, fearing rejection, wanting too much to be liked or letting them judge you, you already lost. If I’m going to bomb or offend, I’m going to bomb or offend, but it’s going to be on my terms.

When I walk out with that kind of confidence, no matter what comes out of my mouth, it’s usually a pretty decent set. When I let those doubts creep in, I usually bomb, or have an awkward set.

Confidence is king in all aspects of life, so I try to walk with these tenants daily on and off stage.

Friday
Mar142014

Mars and Venus: She and I Are Not the Same

I’ve been married for a bit, and would consider myself a pretty OK person.

For example. When my wife and I argue, and it gets really intense, every part of me wants to take a step back to lull her into a false sense of security, only to turn my head hop forward and catch her across the jaw with a Shawn Michaels super kick.

Now while that would feel good, and while it would feel even better to stand over her unconscious body doing the “suck it” crotch chop, I don’t do that. Do I deserve a medal for that? Absolutely. Do I expect to get one? Maybe if we move to one of the few states that still lets you beat your wife, but I love sunny California too much.

So I just take my L and keep it moving.

Some arguments provide growth, while others are just annoying. After having a good mix of both over the years, I threw it all under a microscope and came to a conclusion—we’re not the same.

I’m sure you didn’t need to log on to my silly blog to find out that men and women, especially in relationships, are different, but there’s a very important difference to keep in mind when it comes to flaws and arguments.

It goes like this:

In relationships, my ego is my strength, but it’s also my biggest flaw. In relationships, her emotion is her strength, but it’s also her biggest flaw.

What do I mean by that?

We all know that women love a man with confidence, and in some situations, having a ridiculous amount of confidence, bordering on cockiness can actually be attractive.

That’s the good part of it. The bad part?

Nobody likes an a-hole. When confidence gets out of hand, someone can get hurt. Since I don’t publish this just to pick on people, I’ll put myself in the crosshairs.

When Mrs. G and I were about to get married, we underwent a series of counseling sessions from the pastor that was to officiate our wedding. We had to list the biggest flaws we see in each other, along with our greatest strengths. I don’t remember which flaw I named about Mrs. G, but I won’t forget the one she said about me, because it’s somewhat been a theme in our marriage on and off.

She says that I don’t apologize enough.

Now, I’m not perfect by any means, though I am pretty close to it. But I suppose at times I don’t realize it, or let my ego get in the way, instead of just apologizing. We’ve been married for four years, and while I don’t spend every single day starting trouble and not apologizing for it, it’s come up more than once.

This is what we call a recurring issue, and when there’s a recurring issue, it’s going to take patience on both sides.

Every relationship has them. For some people, it might be smoking, messiness, or overspending. These are the ones that you deal with over the long haul, with the hope that they become less of an issue, or go away forever over time. With recurring issues, you sometimes have to take the L and learn to be patient as they work through it.

Now, certain issues have to be nipped in the bud right away. If you get cheated on 57 times, it does neither of you any good to hold each other’s hand and work through it.

So while Mrs. G loves my audacity to say certain things and be playfully full of myself, it’s not so fun when it’s used against her.

A man’s strength is his ego, and it’s also his detriment.

Now in terms of Mrs. G and her sisteren, as I said, emotion is their strength and a detriment.

I happened to have married an incredibly emotional woman, which, at times, makes you want to go on a killing spree. When dealing with certain ladies, you might be on an all time high one moment, then the next moment, she’s on the couch crying, shivering under blankets and blaming you for it.  

A woman’s strength is her emotion, and it’s also her detriment.

You might wonder, how could being emotional possibly be a strength?

I didn’t know it was possible until I got married. Surely you’ve heard of women’s intuition. That’s not just some old wife’s tale, it’s super real.

Women have some kind of weird radar that they can use in a thousand different situations. If you approach a woman and in your heart, feel like you’re going to get shot down, she’ll sniff it out unless you’re an incredibly good actor. They can sniff out emotional climates with little to no words exchanged.

There have been plenty of times where Mrs. G knows something is wrong before I even realize I’m in a bad mood.

I’ll wrap it up with a great example of how her feeling was incredibly beneficial.

We moved out to California with the clothes on our back and the bags in our car, and in terms of income, we’ve had to depend mostly on me working from home on a strictly freelance basis. It gets incredibly stressful, and lets me know that I’m stronger than I ever thought.

I’m typically cool and laid back, and it takes a whole lot to get me too high or too low. When I’m not running my mouth on stage, on this blog or over a beer, I tend to keep my thoughts in my head. People tend to turn to me for advice rather than vice versa, so if I ever hit you up spilling my guts, know that shiz got real, because I typically handle my problems in house.

But one day, when we first moved out here, I had a moment of feeling sorry for myself because the day job was getting overwhelming, and it felt impossible to do that and have any time to myself or to do standup or work on my TV scripts.

Without asking if I was OK, Mrs. G sensed it. Her response? She downloaded some cheap audio editing software and spliced together a high energy motivational clip, with sound bites from some people dropping real jewels.

Now men don’t cry, and I didn’t cry in this situation, but I did have to take a few deep breaths because someone must have been chopping onions or something.

I’m always even keel, and it’s usually her getting emotional, but in my once every blue moon moment of getting weak, she was on top of it and right there to give her knight in shining armor that boost in the back to get back up, dust himself off and go slay those dragons.

If she wasn’t in tune to the emotional climate of the relationship, she might have misplayed it, or been completely unaware.

So for that, I can work with her when she’s curled up on the couch with a carton of ice cream. 

Wednesday
Mar122014

The Hump Day Feast: But Are You Happy?

Happy Hump Day.

As I reach the midpoint of my week, having worked an incredible amount of hours since March 1, including no days off Saturday and Sunday, I realized that I haven’t come up for air much lately. While that would seem like torture for some people, I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life.

Why?

Because I’m not working a job, I’m living a lifestyle.

We all have our different paths in life. While I don’t think you can truly tell someone what they’re supposed to be doing with their life, I feel like everyone should strive to be a little selfish and figure out what makes them happy.

When we’re 5, we dream big dreams, the days are long and we’re not worried about the time on the clock. By the time we’re 25, we still know what we love and have big dreams, but we put them to the side because of life.

Oh man, I really love to play tennis, but I haven’t played in three years because I’m tired when I get off work and just want to rest on the weekend.  Oh man, I always wanted to be a juggler, but they don’t make any money and my family will look at me funny. Man, I’ve always wanted to visit Brazil, the big booty capital of the world, to lust after the deliciousness that graces the beach, but it’s a hassle to go apply for a passport.

Whatever your internal dialogue is, don’t ignore it.

I’m not suggesting you quit your job tomorrow and throw caution to the wind, I’m just saying to be real with those thoughts in your head, because they’re not going anywhere. In fact, they’re probably going to amplify the older you get, and when life really, really, really does start getting in the way.

I left a newspaper job to move out west and do what I’m doing now. Everything happens for a reason, so I know the great times I had in those 4 years will fuel me with stories and perspectives that will make the funniest, most creative m’fer you’ve ever seen.

But to be real, and Mrs. G and I talk about this all the time, there came a point in my life that I began doing what I call scared dreaming.

All throughout college, I was writing comic books and graphic novels, and wrote my first TV script. That TV script placed me in the semi-finals of the International Page Screenwriting Awards. While working at the paper, I dusted off my Final Draft Software after shutting those dreams away for a few years, and surprise surprise, the very next script I wrote placed me in the finals of Bill Cosby’s TV Writing program at USC, and in the Top 5 percentile with a Warner Bros. program.

I don’t regret anything in the course of my life, but if I wasn’t scared dreaming, I might never have even become a newspaper reporter. I’m super glad I did, because it makes me more well rounded, but at some point while at the paper, those thoughts in my head became more amplified, to the point that I knew I couldn’t lie to myself anymore.

Either I was going to move out to Los Angeles and make this thing happen, or I was going to stay in a job I was good at, but one that was a backup plan in the grand scheme of what my heart wanted.

Thankfully, I married someone who is just as big a dreamer as I am, or Mrs. G and I would have had to go our separate ways, if she wasn’t willing to pack up and move with me.

Sure, that would suck, and sure, she would have had a case to call me an a-hole for the rest of her life, but if I didn’t make this move, I was going to die inside.

I like to joke, but I promise you that I’m not overstating that.

So now, here I am in Los Angeles, not staffed on a TV show and not selling out arenas with my standup, but dude, I am HAPPY. I still work crazy hours freelancing in order to feed myself and finance the dream, but it’s to the point that it’s not hard anymore, because I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

I have love in my heart for anybody that reads this, which is why I feel the need to take time out and tell you to do what makes you happy.

It doesn’t mean you should do anything remotely close to what I did if it’s not in your heart, but realize that all we have is our happiness, and even if it means sneaking a couple hours per week to do what gives you those giddy feelings, make sure that you do it. You schedule enough of your life around what other people want you to do with your time, so be selfish for once and do something for you.