Friday, October 21, 2011

Reflections on Haunting

Well, it's that time of the year again; Carol and I (joined this year for the first time by our daughter Rhiannon) let ourselves get made up to look like hideous, stomach-churning dead folk and then proceed to scare the living crap out of paying customers at our local favorite haunted attraction.

Sometimes, there are lulls in the crowds, most often during the early part of the haunt season. During such times, my mind wanders (as it tends to do a lot anyway) and sometimes I ponder the whole haunt experience. Here are some random observations/rants/introspections/etc that I've accumulated thus far this season:

There is something viscerally powerful about instilling fear in others. Frankly, it's a delightful feeling, and quite addicting. When you hear a fresh group of victims approaching your area, your heart races, muscles tighten, and eyes gleam with predatory anticipation, as you're poised to strike. And when they reach your area, you

The best people to scare in terms of satisfaction? Teenaged girls. Holy crap can they scream. One shrieked so loud after I scared her that my left ear actually throbbed and rang for about five minutes afterwards. This is actually a sort of compliment. A deafening compliment, but a compliment nonetheless.

My "spot" happens to be right at the end of the first haunted attraction (there's a total of three of them), so I get the chance to really give people a powerful last impression. I like that.

Favorite tactic: cock an ear towards the departing customers, listen for one saying "aw, that wasn't scary!", slip out, ninja-like, out of my spot, follow right behind them, then at the right moment: "WAAAAAAGHGHGHHH!" Yeah, try THAT on for size, Mr/Ms "I'm not scared!".

Since my 60lb. weight loss I've discovered that, when you get right down to it, I'm rather wiry. So yes, I do feel like a 52 year old ninja when I sneak up on unwary customers.

The other classic targets are the people who leave the haunted house and go "Whew! We made it! That's over!" Then, just like those bogus endings tacked on to the majority of modern horror movies, the monster (read: ME) suddenly appears in their midst, going "BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA!", and that's when the shrieking, crying, and swearing starts.

What's with people who go through haunted houses with this look of bored disdain? Look, we all know that haunted houses are fake. It's a form of entertainment; dare I say, it's interactive theater? It's a goof, a joke, and we all know it and are all in on it. You can either act like you're too cool or hip to be scared, or you can get into it like we do, play along, enjoy the ride, and share the joke with us. You paid your admission, you might as well suspend that disbelief for about twenty minutes and just enjoy it. We're not impressed with your so-called bravery. We are impressed by your willingness to get into the spirit of things. It's your call. We're good either way. Either way, we still have your money.

And speaking of which, that's another thing that cracks me up. Some of these people who look at you and openly sneer, saying things like "whatever", or "really?", or "yeah, ok loser". Hey guess what!? You and your two fellow terminally hip poser buddies just smacked down $60 to sneer at some people. Who's the real loser, pal? That 60 bucks may have a slight odor of vinegar and water (think about it), but it's still legal tender for all debts, public and private.

The later the haunted attraction is open, the more likely you'll get drunk and/or stoned people. I mean, the kind of drunk people that you better not light a match within four feet of them or they'll go all Hindenburg on you. That's why I prefer the crowds to be huge from the git-go, then peter out as it gets late.

Dear young parent: you are going through a scary haunted house with a screaming two-year old in your arms. Really? What is wrong with you?

Dear girl in her late teens: why do you have a Monster-Be-Nice flashlight? You're not a child. Sheesh.

For those not in the know, a Monster-Be-Nice flashlight is something that a parent can request for their child. The light is held up by the child during the sojourn into the haunt, and it's a signal for there to be less jump-scares and screams by the actors. Yes, I've seen teenaged girls carrying them. Hell, I've seen a small handful of adults carrying them. Really? That's like going to an expensive, exotic restaurant and ordering a burger and fries.

I really get a kick out of the teenaged guys who go into the haunts with their rapper poses, backward turned baseball caps and defiant sneers, only to shriek like a rabbit when confronted with a scare, and end up hiding behind their girlfriends. Yo.

Another fun group are the guys who don't act tough, but sure look it. Guys who looks like they could be NFL linebackers. Then you do your scary routine and they shriek and flail their arms in panic. Priceless!

As a haunter, we've been told to never break character, no matter what people say to us. This is awesome advice. You always get people who try to sass you, provoke you, or make wisecracks. Sad part is, these people make wisecracks in such a way that they believe they're the first ones who've ever made those remarks. Best to not succumb to temptation no matter how good the opportunity.

The wise-crackers I find particularly annoying are the teenaged girls or the drunken older women who come right up to my face and say stuff like "You're cute!" or "When do you get off?" I have some choice bazinga responses in mind, but again, you don't want to break character, so I simply stare right through them and move on.

Of course, I react the same even to real compliments like "THAT is amazing makeup!" or "Well done, you really got me that time!". Same reaction. Unchanging blank stare and scowl.

OK, so I admit it. This year, I broke character once. I had one of those "That wasn't scary" cases who I followed out of the house and proceeded to scare about ten years off her life. Then, as she and her group snaked their way through the sideshow and towards the Clown House, I got her again! As I walked away, I smirked in her general direction and held up two fingers, as in "Gotcha twice!" It helped that her friends were cheering me and giving me the thumbs-up.

Speaking of scaring people in a group, I noticed that a lot of people who happen to see their friend getting snuck up on have one of two reactions: either they say something like "Holy crap, Bob! Watch out behind you!" or they grin in evil anticipation and sit back to watch the show. The latter are way more fun, in my opinion. Clearly they're getting into it.

Well, that's enough for now. Barring any unusual incident between now and the end of the season, this should cover it nicely.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Red Sox Clubhouse Woes Mount Amidst Allegations of Cthulhu Worship

The Red Sox organization and Red Sox Nation in general, already reeling from the worst September collapse in MLB history and allegations of unprofessional conduct in the clubhouse, was further shaken today in the wake of allegations that certain members of the Red Sox engaged in the worship of dread Cthulhu.

Unnamed Sources claim that, after the All-Star break, several "respected veteran members" of the team brought in a copy of the blasphemous Necronomicon of Abdul Al Azhred and led several of the more impressionable younger members of the team in chants to the Elder God and other beings of the so-called Cthulhu Mythos.

Mr. Sources further went on to say that the ring-leaders were notorious beer-drinking, chicken-eating starting pitcher Josh Beckett, respected veteran catcher Jason Varitek, and beloved veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

"Oh yeah, the whole pitching staff was there at our dark rites," Beckett told Unnamed in a confidential, off-the-record, don't breathe a word to this to nobody interview. "In fact, we pitchers were actually the cult leaders. Well, all of us except for John Lackey, who has enough trouble with the English language, let alone eldritch phrases such as 'Cthulhu ftaghn!'. So, rather than being a leader, he served as our lackey. Get it? John Lackey? Our lackey? Haw!"

According to Sources, most of the rites were chanted during the singing of "Sweet Caroline". "While the crowd as singing 'Sweet Caroline. Bom! Bom! Bom!," Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester explained, "We in the dugout were singing 'Sweet Azathoth! Ia! Ia! Ia!"

There had been disturbing hints that things "weren't quiet right" in the Red Sox clubhouse during the latter half of the season, mostly ominous things said by various members of the team. Tim Wakefield had been overheard saying that he was going to supplement his knuckleball with a "non-Euclidian" pitch. When the Red Sox were being written off as dead in September, Beckett was heard to say "That is not dead which can eternal lie."

This latest example of unprofessional clubhouse behavior has sent fresh shockwaves through the MLB community. Former Red Sox meathead Johnny Damon, who is never at a loss for a quote if there's a microphone within 60', was stymied from saying anything due to spending 20 unsuccessful minutes trying to say the word 'Cthulhu'.

The Yankees organization, meanwhile, was delighted at this latest stain on the Red Sox reputation. "This worship of Elder Gods is unacceptable!" thundered Hank Steinbrenner, "If they really wanted to worship evil entities, the Red Sox should have done like we Yankees do, and worship Satan!"

Monday, March 14, 2011

Running My First Road Race

I've been running in various degrees of frequency since 1980 (and boy are my legs tired!), but this past Sunday, March 13, 2011, is the first time I entered and ran an actual road race.

It was called the "Ras na hEireann USA", or in English, the Race of Ireland and USA. That pretty much says it all right there. And the kicker of it was, I wasn't even the one who initiated joining it; that particular honor fell to my lovely wife Carol, who's been getting into the whole running thing, much to my joy.

We signed up a while back, and trained faithfully for it. Thank God for the gym this winter, because otherwise we'd have been in sad shape (in more ways than one).

We decided to get a hotel room on Saturday night in Cambridge, and that way we wouldn't have to worry about driving down on Sunday morning, especially with the advent of Daily Savings Time, and springing forward to lose an hour.

So, with not much to do on Saturday night, we decided to go into downtown Boston, hit Fanueil Hall, and partake in a little decidedly non-Weight Watchers fare. In keeping with the spirit of the Irish road race, we went to an Irish pub at Quincy Market. Naturally, Carol and I each had to drink a Guinness. Come on, it was practically mandated by law!

Next morning, it was up early, hit Dunkin Donuts for some pre-race carbs, meeting Adrienne there as well, then off in her Mini-Cooper (named "Sheldon") to Somerville and the road race.

The forecast called for sunshine and low 50's. So naturally, it was gray, chilly, and mid-40's. Ah, March in New England! Once we assembled at the starting line, we were pumped and ready to do this. Carol had gone, in less than a year, from not running at all to being in a 5k road race. This would be the first race for both of us.

Encouraged by Carol's suggestions on the matter, I decided to try for speed. I actually went up to the 7-minute mile pacing area of the starting line. It then occurred to me that no one was next to me. I turned around and saw the mass of humanity that would eventually number 5112 runners. Somehow, I was at the front of the pack, and I mean the REAL in, I was somehow the leader. I relished the feeling, because deep down I had this suspicion that my leading the pack would end as soon as the starter's pistol went off.

I was right. As everyone around me did the human equivalent of a jackrabbit start, I was more like the freight engine that starts off slow and builds up a head of steam. But in the interim, several hundred people proceeded to shoot by me. I was literally buffeted by runners passing on the left and the right.

That was when I realized that I didn't have a good rhythm. I had deliberately not brought my iPod with me, feeling that the sheer energy and camaraderie would carry me through. But this run happened to be my very first outdoor run since last November, right before the weather began turning to crap. So my first exposure (so to speak) to outdoor running this year was in the cold, with no tunes, and in the middle of my first freaking road race.

As my brain busily handled several tasks at once, namely trying to figure out a good running/breathing pattern while trying to figure out what/why/how the freaking Hell I was doing out here, my legs began falling into something resembling a good rhythm, and I actually found myself beginning to not only catch up with, but overtake some of my fellow racers.

I had been told that running on a treadmill was different than running outdoors. Now, while I conceded that there may be some truth to this, there was a Hell of a lot more truth to it than I thought. This past winter was the first time I ever actually spent the "off season" on a treadmill. And while I was indisputably maintaining my fitness level, burning calories, building up leg muscles this winter, the treadmill is definitely different, and now I was trying to re acclimate myself to the way I've always run for the past 31 years! During a road race, no less...

I tell you, when I saw that finish line, my heart leaped. I could've sobbed for joy. I put on an extra burst of speed, scrunched my face into my best "determined runner on the verge of triumph" look (hey, there were lots of cameras there...), and streaked across the finish line!

As I walked my cool-down and got my participation medal, I backtracked to the finish line, moving through the crowds of spectators, so I could see Ade and Carol finish. First came Ade, then a few minutes later came Carol. All of us had run the course without stopping, without slowing down to a walk. We ran it all.

Now, after all that, came the truly great part of the race: the post-race party. The Irish bars along the route were all holding the post-race festivities, including live Irish music and of course, beer.

Problem was, the lines getting into the bars were huge. So we eventually decided to just find ANY place that could get us out of the raw cold, and into a warm comfortable place with a drink in our hands. We ended up at a Mexican restaurant (which as it turned out was also the final destination of at least a dozen other runners!), so while I had beers, the ladies had 'ritas.

It was still a half-hour wait, but the alcohol made it easier. The weirdest moment, though, had to be when this girl and her two friends came up to where Carol and I were sitting and told me that I bore an uncanny resemblance to Fred Armisen from Saturday Night Live. Although it was clear to them that I wasn't Armisen, it still didn't stop the girl from asking to have her picture taken with me. So hey, why not?

After a terrific meal, it was time to head home, back to Nashua and the cat, who we were sure was incensed at our absence over the past almost 24 hours.

As we drove back, Carol and I were kind of sad that it was over. We had worked so hard to be ready for it, it was fun, we succeeded in our goal, was over. Now what? Well, Carol mentioned a few other races we might be interested in, ones that are a lot closer to home...

Looks like we're back in training!

Carol finished 4325 out of 5112, with an 11:19 minute mile.
Ade finished 3636 out of 5112, with a 10:30 minute mile.
I finished 837 out of 5112, with a 7:55 minute mile. I finished 22nd out of 109 in my age group.

Next year, I plan to do better! Heck, we all plan to do better. That way, we'll get to the pubs faster, and not have to deal with long lines. Hey, we have our priorities straight!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Childhood memories remind me that Disney is Evil

I am convinced that our brain, especially when it comes to memory, is like a giant pot of soup, boiling and bubbling. As it boils and bubbles, various vegetables and/or chunks of chicken or beef float to the surface, remain visible for a bit, then sink back down into the roiling depths of the pot, only to be replaced by a different vegetable or piece of meat. Perhaps even a noodle.

I do consider my memory to be such an ever-churning pot of soup, and often times I find really old spontaneously bobbing up to the surface, hanging around for a while, then eventually sinking back down into the broth. We're talking old memories here, as in decades old, floating back into my conscious without even an identifiable trigger.

Recently I had the pleasure of recalling two incidents from my childhood, completely out of the blue, that in fact reinforce the idea that Disney is Evil. Read on, MacDuff.

Anyone who knows me even just a little is aware that I love to read. I find that reading expands your mind, sharpens your wits, increases your vocabulary, fills in knowledge gaps, and much much more. It may further not come as much of a surprise to anyone that I loved to read from a very early age, like around 3. I so impressed my dad that he'd go out and get his hands on any second-hand book he could buy and give them to me.

One particular batch contained A Christmas Carol, The Wizard of Oz, and Toby Tyler. What's Toby Tyler, you ask? Well you may ask! Toby Tyler is one of those cautionary "bad boy" stories. Boy is a problem at home, boy runs away convinced that his parents don't love him, boy gets into trouble, boy eventually has an epiphany and returns home, chastened and wiser, and is a good boy from now on.

The titular Toby ran away from his foster parents and ended up joining the circus. As an aside, don't you think Titular Toby would make a good name for a porn star? Anyways, Toby strikes up a friendship with Mr. Stubbs, a chimpanzee in the circus. In order to show that there are consequences to being a bad boy, there comes a point where said chimp has an unfortunate run-in with a hunter who has a rifle (Spoiler alert: chimp loses).

Now, this book really milked that damned chimp's death scene. Good Lord, did it tug at the heart strings. And I was just a kid, who still thought that chimps were cute and smart and wonderful, not the hateful, screaming, shit-flinging little douchebags that they really are. Which reminds me: I wonder how the New York Yankees fanbase is taking the fact that their team really hasn't made much progress to improve themselves over the off-season thus far?

But I digress. Where was I? Ah yes. Ventilated chimp.

Anyways, Toby is devastated, I was beside myself with grief, and even though the story ends happily (Toby learns the error of his ways, goes back to loving family), I was still shaking my head and going "Sure,it's a happy ending for everyone except Mr.Stubbs, who is DEAD!"

Well, enter the Wonderful World of Disney.

Sunday nights, NBC, 730 EST...the Wonderful World of Disney...IN COLOR! OOooooooooo! That was one of the big selling points of WWD. The show was in glorious COLOR! Yeah what can I say? It didn't take much to impress us in the 60's. I mean, come on, three network channels and a few UHF stations? Oh yeah. We were living the high-life, let me tell you. Then just when you thought the bar couldn't possibly be set lower, the 70's came along.

OK, where was I? Oh yeah, Disney and their Wonderful World of Technicolor Yawns. Anyways, WWD did a movie adaptation of Toby Tyler. And guess what? The damned chimp survives the hunter's gunshot! Yep, there's good old Mr. Stubbs with a big ol' gauze bandage wrapped around his mid-section.

Now, though a part of me was sort of happy at this "alteration", an even bigger part of me was all "Hey wait! That's wrong! The monkey died!" It really bugged me. These grown-ups...DISNEY of all people, got it wrong!

That's because the chimp is a cute (ostensibly) and cuddly (tchyeah right) creature, and thus cannot die. Had it been a parental figure, however, and ol' mom or dad would've ended up in a chipper/shredder for sure, with their disbelieving offspring witnessing the whole thing as the child was inundated with a crimson tidal wave of parental blood.

OK, that's not fair, I guess. Disney would never do that. No, Disney would just have already eliminated either and or both parents before the start of the story.

But yes, there you have it. Disney is evil; they modify classic stories so as to make them more palatable to young viewers, even though they won't hesitate to off a parent or two in the backstory.

The second instance of what I perceive today as Disney Evil, was the Coming Attractions for another episode of "Wonderful World of Disney". I never saw the episode in question, but after the eyeful I got, I didn't want to.

The episode was called something like "Minado the Wolverine". At least I think it was "Minado". Minado, Menudo, Mentos, Mindanao...something. So yeah, the episode was about a wolverine. OKay, fine. WWD would often do a program based on some animal's adventures. And these weren't cartoons; they were live-action.

So, in this episode preview, I'm seeing this animal that looks like an over-sized, de-striped skunk on steroids, and they show it relentlessly attacking this guy who's walking through the snow. The thing leaps at him, snarling, the man bats it away, it recovers, attacks again, the man bats it away, it climbs a goddam tree and jumps out of it and onto the guy's head and here's the poor sap trying to keep his footing in the deep snow, while battling a furry psychopath with a level of rage usually only achieved by being rogered by a cactus while being informed that your spouse has been unfaithful, and incidentally you're not getting a tax refund in fact you owe $20,000, and by the way your car spontaneously combusted and your auto insurance mysteriously terminated yesterday.

This wolverine didn't smoke cigars, address people as "bub", and have adamantium claws that went "snikt". No, this Lon Chaney Junior of the animal kingdom was a furry nightmare, attacking its foe with a crazed single-minded suicidal zeal that would make Osama Bin-Laden weep tears of envious joy.

As I watched this preview, as a child, I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. Something was off. It took a few years of growing up and learning how programs are made to realize that a tv show has cameramen, sound people, a director, etc., all of whom we can't see, off-screen, making the tv or movie magic.

That's when it came together for me. Bear in mind, I was still a kid here: this poor sap was getting attacked by a psychotic wolverine and a whole crew of people didn't do a thing to help him! No sir, they just kept filming their stupid program while the fate of this poor sucker remained a mystery.

It took a couple more years for me to realize that it was all a show, and whatever happened, no actual humans were harmed in the making of that stupid-ass Disney program.

So there you have it. Two concrete bits of evidence that reinforce the fact that Disney is evil.

In a future installment, we'll have another look at Disney evil, as well as the very first time I read a comic book in which the heroes died, and the ensuing trauma to my psyche.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Years' Do T'ings..

Yes, it's that time of year when everyone staggers out of their inebriated state that was attained on the last day of the old year, and solemnly swears to undergo a series of life-changing goals, otherwise known as resolutions. Most of these resolutions will wither and die before the New Years Eve party food has negotiated its way through the person's digestive tract and has left the building (fact: that's three to five days).

That's why a lot of clever, savvy people like me (and, at the risk of starting a mutual back-patting fest) and most of the people I hang with, shrink at the idea of declaring resolutions. Usually they're a cliche for failure (the resolutions, not my friends!).

And yet, there's a certain logic, a certain order, a certain ease of accountability, in starting something on January 1st (or thereabouts). It certainly makes a convenient benchmark. Maybe it's the word "resolution" that's the problem.

I've tried coming up with some clever. I thought of "revolution", "devolution" (are we not men? We are DEVO!), "irresolution", "revelation", but alas, none of them make sense. That's why I have decided to incorporate a phrase that Carol and I use, called "do t'ings".

"Do t'ings" was culled from the hilarious video, "Pork Chop Sandwiches", a satire of a GI Joe cartoon. Soon, we started using "do t'ings" as a catch-all, plugging it in when we were unwilling or unable to come up with specifics. For instance, you could say, "At lunch time, we'll stop off at Wendy's, grab a bite, then for the rest of the lunch hour, I dunno, we'll do t'ings".

Clear now? Good. So, let's cover my New Years Do T'ings.

First of all, let's recap last year's Do T'ings. There was only one, and that was to reduce my body mass so that I would no longer be mistaken for a stunt double for the Hindenburg. False modesty aside, it was a raging success. Took a year, but I lost 60 lbs. Hooray for me!

Well, that was pretty much the only Do T'ings for 2010. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be), there's more for 2011. Read on:

Do T'ings #1. Let's Finish The Job!
OK, so my weight is down to around 160. Supposedly, I should be at 150. So I still have 10 lbs to go. Do T'ings number one, then, is to lose that last 10 pounds or so.

Do T'ings #2. We Are Here To Pump ::Clap:: You Up!
OK, so I lost 60lbs and my legs are gorgeously muscular to behold. You know what is NOT? Upper body. Sure, I'm wiry and can run fast and long, but when it comes to muscle mass, it's almost an embarrassment. Fortunately, there's that gym membership that I have, and have been availing myself of solely to use the treadmills so that I may continue running even when we get rogered by New England's ever-lovable winters. Time to work out, build up upper body strength, etc. So, that's Do T'ings number 2...building up muscle mass.

Do T'ings #3. The Removal Of An Altogether Different Kind Of Fat
The Department Of Statistics Designed To Make You Feel Bad reports that the average American has about $25,000 in non-mortgage debt. Well, this is the year that Carol and I decide that any debt, excluding said mortgage, must shrink if not go away altogether. So, Do T'ings number 3 is to reduce and shut down sources of credit.

Do T'ings #4. Spending More Time With My Kids
The problem with listing this as a Do T'ing is that it may imply that I have to force myself to spend time with my own kids. After all, whether you call it a resolution or a Do T'ing, it usually means that you're forcing yourself to do something that, while ultimately good for you, is something you'd rather not be doing. Well, that's not the case here. See, I see my kids just enough that it's not like they're not in my orbit at all, so it's easy to just sort of coast when they're around. I'm talking here about going out of my way to have more one-on-one time with each of them. I can get lazy and just take for granted that they'll always be around and able to do stuff whenever the mood strikes me. That's not the case. Nothing lasts forever, and the chances to, well, do t'ings diminishes over time. So, Do T'ings Number Four is to go out of my way to have more one-on-one time with each of my kids. I really don't get the chance to see them enough for my tastes.

Do T'ings #5. It's Blog, It's Blog, It's Big, It's Heavy, It's Wood.
I do enjoying writing like this, but a lot of times, I get too lazy and instead burn off time playing Bejeweled Blitz or some PC game. And I do think I have some good things to say sometimes. I should post more blogs. So, that's Do T'ings #5. Blog more.

Do T'ings #6. The Most Frightening Do T'ings Of All
I have three, count 'em, three novels in various stages of completion. At least two of them are over half done. But therein lies the problem. I work on one, everything's great, I'm humming along, then I stop because I have another great idea, so I start another novel, then that one comes along nicely, then I stop because I get yet another good idea, and so on, and so on.

Problem is, I know myself too well. I know what I'm doing here. And in true "pour your heart out because you're blogging" style, it's confession time.

I'm afraid of rejection.

Oh Hell, afraid nothing; I'm TERRIFIED.

See, if I'm working on a book, I can have that nice warm feeling of "Ooooo, this is GOOD!", and no one can refute that. But as the book gets closer to completion, I start to realize that inevitably, others will need to look at it. And they may not agree with my assessment. Do I really want that? Sending the book out to be judged may end up shattering my preconceived subjective notions as to its goodness!

Hell no! Let's start another book! Yeah! OOOO, this one is GOOD! Yeah baby!

I realize I'm being ridiculous. I understand that there's a lot of people that I know who think my writing is all that and a bag of chips. And there's some who think it's at least on par with a lot of other stuff out there. But...but...what if THIS particular thing sucks? What if all those people who like my stuff are wrong???

So, in essence, I need to grow a pair, finish one of the damned things, and start shopping around for an agent. Period. Fish or cut bait. Crap or get off the fence. Yes, I know I mangled that phrase. It was intentional.

So, New Years Do T'ings #6: Shop around ONE completed manuscript.

Will these Do T'ings get done? I have to admit that losing 60 lbs has done wonders for my feeling of "I can't fail". It'll be interesting to see if it holds up to a challenge. Stay tuned throughout the year!