January 17, 2014

Navigating the Gym for Beginners

So, I've been going to the gym a lot more lately.  Doctor told me I need to exercise more and I figured it might be nice to look in a mirror at Kohl's and not think "who's that fat nerd who looks like Neville Longbottom then?" when I could look like Neville Longbottom now.  Now, I'd need to grow like 5 inches and have the ability to grow a beard, but still!  Bettering myself!  So, I dusted off my gym membership and started going just about everyday.

Now, if you've never been to a gym before, it's a really overwhelming experience.  For anyone interested in getting a gym membership or even just wants to hear what it would be like, here's what to expect.

1) Getting the membership is going to seem like a contract negotiation where you know you're getting screwed.
Gym's operate on a pretty simple concept.  Make it seem like you're getting a deal, get you integrated, then make you feel like a worse person for canceling your membership.  Ideally, you're just donating ten bucks a month (Oh, and there's an annual fee?  Fifty bucks???  Oh, but you're gonna mark it down to 20 it the first year, I knew you were my best bud!).  So when you're getting in, it's all "do you want to sign up for a trainer?", "platinum members get free classes!", and "I guess you could not do anything if you're just looking to maintain your current figure."  By the end of it, you just want to pay anything to get them to stop talking to you.

2) Every person there is going to make you feel bad about yourself.
There are really just two people that go to the gym:  those who always go, and those who want to always go.  So, in the beginning, you're obviously the latter.  So any gym rat instantly makes you feel weak.  You're on their turf, and it's a game you can't win, so just ignore them.  Just very silently and confidently reach for those 20 lb weights and walk somewhere not in the middle.  But really, the worst thing is seeing a person you think you are either as healthy or as strong as doing stuff you could never do.  So far, the top three most demoralizing moments at the gym are as follows:
3) A probably 60 year old man jogging for the same amount of time I did an incline walk.
2) Waiting for a one armed man to finish his chest flies, and realizing I had to lower the weight on the machine (that means his one arm is stronger than both of mine).
1) When that guy walked out of the shower and I...actually nevermind.

The point is, like working out, the beginning makes you feel awful, but after a while it will make you feel good about yourself.  At least that's what I tell myself.

3) You will make a fool out of yourself.
Here's something that makes sense:  every machine has instructions on how to properly use the machine.  Here's something that doesn't make sense:  every machine has something about it that isn't explained and can easily make you look silly.  Maybe it's the weight adjustment system, or the accessories the machine has, or my personal favorite, the seat adjuster.  You just haven't been to the gym until you adjust the seat, sit, and fall with a loud metal grinding sound because you didn't lock in the seat.  But don't worry, now that everyone's looking at you, you get an excuse to talk to your choice of girl/guy that will ultimately reject your advances!

4) You'll be a douchebag without even knowing it.
Gym's have a lot of rules.  Here's a selection of rules at my gym, ranging from "makes sense" to "I'd like to see what happened to make this a rule":
1) No weapons
2) No alcohol
3) No dropping weights
4) No jeans
5) No grunting
6) No bandannas
7) No men in the woman's only section

I only include the last one because that means that someone clearly tried to pull the "there's no rule that says that men CAN'T go in there!"

Also, there are too many unwritten rules that will get you into trouble.  Remembering to wipe off your machine is a rookie mistake, but one that will be made the first few times.  Taking someone's spot when they go to change weights or get a drink is tougher, but will still make you feel bad when they return and you get the stink eye.  And the stink eye from a man that could curl me after taking his curling spot is not a place I want to be.  Then there's when you take so much time on a machine that people just keep walking by you like it's Quincy Market on a holiday weekend.  All you can do is workout and leave while staying as quiet as possible.

5) If you plan on going to the gym to pick up chicks, it better be a long term commitment.
Here's the thing about picking up girls at the gym if you've just started.  There's almost 3 guaranteed things working against you:
1) You're not in shape.
2) There are probably 10 more attractive guys near you.
3) SIR!  WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT GOING INTO THE WOMEN ONLY SECTION!

So needless to say, not the best place to meet girls.  But, even if you're in the bottom 50% of gym people, that probably means you're in the top 50% of society.  So, you know, above average!  Not bad right?  At least that's what I tell myself after walking 30 minutes uphill before going to get a taco.  Baby steps.

December 17, 2013

Ramblings Part 1

So, I don't fancy myself a professional writer.  I know, shocker.  However, I do really want to write.  I find myself often anxious that I need to find things to blog about that are actually, you know, interesting.  However, I also know that of the couple blogs/columns I follow, I never really care what the subject matter is.  I just like seeing what the person wrote.

I also feel that Malcolm Gladwell had a point in his 10,000 hours essay (the basic gist is that one needs to complete 10,000 hours of an activity to achieve mastery of the activity).  Now, I have no realistic goal to becoming a "master writer."  I had no passion/intestinal fortitude to go to a liberal arts college and major in professional writing or even English.  Hell, I didn't even go to a state college to do that, and I could've gotten myself a nice practical teaching degree.  But I do know one piece of advice that has been handed down from professional writers to aspiring writers all the time: writer's write.  They don't take 3 years off just because they're self-esteem dips because they don't think they're funny enough, and they don't need to stop because the pressure of shelling out 5,000 words a week is too much.

So I had a column idea for the weeks (such as this) where I don't have a bee in my bonnet or haven't done anything that I can either talk about or make funny.  And it is to simply ramble about different things on my mind, and hopefully make them funny.  So without further ado...

Does anybody else ever watch the gas price go up while pumping gas, and pretend they're on the Price is Right?  Seriously, if you haven't try it.  It's really fun.  Like I try to break my record each time without going under.  Yeah, I know, that's the opposite of Price is Right, but who's gonna stop me?  Drew Carey and his uncontrollable indifference?  I think not.  But seriously, it's the most fun thing to do while watching your gas get pumped in sub-freezing temperatures since picking your nose and trying to flick it in the garbage can without moving.  Wait, that's just me?

Old fans of the blog may remember a post I had about adding elements of professional wrestling to spice up everyday life.  I'd link to it, but I frankly just looked it over, and wasn't really a fan of it.  Not my best work.  But, that same kid who was writing that garbage had a good point.  And I'm going with this in a practical step.  You know how in wrestling, everybody's got theme music?  Well, you get your own theme music for your job.  I'd be pumped for work if I was walking in to my theme music, which is quite obviously Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus.  And boy, would my co-workers hate me, because there is no way I can't sing that song when it's on.  Here's a scenario for your pleasure:

Boss: Hello peon, where is that stocky buffoon that sits next to you?  He has yet to finish his quarterly report.
Peon: Sir, I don't believe he has arrived for work, I have yet to hear his theme music.
Boss: Oh really?  I haven't heard his theme yet, I'm sure it's quite monotonous for such a grey, boring indi-
*Music hits*
Me: I CAME IN LIKE A WREEEEEECKING BALLLLLLLLLL!
Boss: Ah, Mr. Holt, I've been expecting you.  You need to-
*getting in his face*
Me: ALL YOU WANTED WAS TO WREH EH ECK ME!
Boss: You're the most fired, ever.  Like, I may need to actually light you on fire.
*Music hits*
Peon with incredibly impeccable timing: THIS GIRL IS ON FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRRREEEEEEE!

Lastly, I'm gonna make a prediction.  You know how we looked at computers when they were the size of rooms and were like "wow, that was ridiculous, I can fit one of those on a desk," and now we've gotten to the point where most monitors can fit into a backpack.  Well, I think we're gonna look at tablets in 10 years and wonder what the fuck was going on.  Like I can see this totally real conversation happening with someone if I met right now, I would hate for being a pretentious douche, but 34 year old me needs friends (I'll call him Chaz):

Me: Shit, is that the new iPad?
Chaz: Hahaha, oh why yes it is, why, you haven't found $750 to spend on it yet?
Me: No, damn inflation.  And I got fired from another job.
Chaz: Dude, I told you, just make some old Jason Mraz song your theme music, you'll get in less trouble.
Me: If Jason Mraz was my theme music, I'd walk into the office and wouldn't stop til I fell out the window, then I'd walk back up to the second floor, fall out again, and keep repeating the process until my legs give out and I die of starvation in 3 weeks.
Chaz: Wouldn't you die of thirst first?
Me: No, it's the winter, so I could easily collect snow and melt it during the day to get a good source of drinking water.
Chaz: Well, if it's the winter, surely you'd die of exposure and hypothermia and the like, right?
Me: Not at all, I keep a space blanket in my pocket at all times and could at least crawl to the lobby.
Chaz: Oh, come on, they lock that office at night!
Me: Donny would let me in, I've worked enough nights that he'd know my face.
Chaz: But not care about you enough to drive you to the hospital?
Me: And risk hearing Jason Mraz in the lobby, hell no!  That'd be more ridiculous than when the first iPad's were the size of notebooks and everybody tricked themselves into thinking they were portable, even though they had phones!
Chaz: What idiots we all were!

Hope it was as good for you as it was for me, which was mediocre at best.

December 9, 2013

Hunger Games Rant 2: How You Can Train Your Whole Life and Still Being Really Shitty at Murdering Kids.

Sorry for the Dr. Strangelove-esque title (ask your parents).

So, District 1 and 2 have a combined 4 kids in these games.  They train and train and train, and then are given a chance to volunteer in a game where they face 3 other people who did the same thing with their lives.  Think the NFL Draft, but if you get beat on the first play of your career, you die and get immediately forgotten forever.  But anyway.  So, in this Hunger Games we have the main guy, Billy Zabka.  Then there's a smaller, not as ominous guy who looks like an extra on Glee.  Then there's Knives Chau with her stupid throwing knives (really, you have your whole life to learn to fight, and you choose throwing knives as your specialty?), and the dumb blonde who is making out with Billy Zabka even though one of them will probably have to kill each other?  I don't know.  I'll chalk it up to not living in a dystopian world where I spend my whole life trying to learn to kill my friends and 20 other random kids.

So, I'm going to assume by the matter-of-fact tone of the announcer that them forming an alliance isn't that unusual in the Hunger Games.  Okay, that's a major flaw there.  Dude, your games start with 4 people unceremoniously killing, like, HALF the people involved.  If you're in the mindset where watching kids kill each other is entertaining, I'm going to guess you don't want everything exciting to happen immediately.  Only NASCAR puts their best event at the beginning of the season.  Well, actually, the South would probably love a real life Hunger Games.  But I digress.  Now you have DAYS of people just surviving the wilderness.  Seriously, this has to be Truman Show levels of boring for the viewers after the first 2 minutes (note: I'm not saying The Truman Show was boring, just that the TV show within the movie must've been boring most of the time, especially when his life was perfectly normal on purpose).  Like they must just break down that fight for like the next 4 hours on the recap show, because everything else is just walking around in the woods trying not to be noticed.

Next, I'm putting Peeta on blast.  How'd you get caught so fast, dude?  Seriously, the game had been going on for like hours and you had already teamed up with the 4 people most likely to kill you.  But hey, I understand, you're only ability is throwing stuff.  SOMETHING HE DIDN'T EVEN GET TO DO IN THE MOVIE AT A PIVOTAL MOMENT!  I mean, I guess they can point to him pushing Billy Zabka off the thing, but I was really expecting him to hammer throw something fierce into some bitch.

And then, the Drab Four decide to let Peeta (the kid who admitted on national TV that he's in love with Katniss) help them find Katniss.  Are. You. Kidding. Me.  So, they systematically murder 12 kids at the beginning, be it 12 year olds or dumb girls starting fires, whatever.  But that takes some skill anyway.  But you know you'll find her eventually, and he's certainly not going to help that much, if at all.  Most likely he'll turn on you (spoiler alert, he does).

But okay, by sheer luck (not really, but they think so without context) they find Katniss.  Then, she climbs up a tree.  So let's break down this situation:

Heroes:
Katniss Everdeen
Status: Up tree, unarmed, injured

Adversaries:
Billy Zabka
Status: On ground, giant sword, probably looks like Ryan Gosling with his shirt off

Knives Chau
Status: On ground, throwing knives, probably has done some yoga

Evil Chris Colfer
Status: On ground, spear, fabulous

That Girl from CSI Miami
Status: On ground, bow and arrows, wants Billy Zabka's junk

Actively (And Terribly) Trying Not To Die:
Peeta Mellark
Status: On ground, spear, probably pissing himself

Okay so, let's go through their first 5 moves, and I'll counterpoint each one:

1) Billy Zabka climbs the tree
Okay, so not the best idea, but I like his enthusiasm!  My first move would've been to use one of those axes that were lying around at the beginning and CHOPPED THAT BITCH DOWN.  But, let's say they didn't have one.  So he tries to climb it and he falls.  Whew, close one, good thing you didn't break a leg.  Then, we have a great second idea.

2) Blonde chick shoots an arrow
Man, that was close!  Wanna shoot again? Oh, uh, hold on...

3) Billy Zabka shoots an arrow
Ooooo, close again!  Okay, we have probably like 3 arrows left before we have to start hunting down those other arrows or start hacking at the tree with that claymore you got there, so what do ya say?

4) Taunt Katniss into coming down
Okay...you're really just procrastinating now, but I'll let it slide, so let's go back to throwing all those pointy things at her, yeah?

5) Wait for her to starve, and everybody sleep at once under the tree
You gotta be kidding me.  The guy who's in love with her says let's wait and you guys just agree?  I would've stabbed him in the face and tried to piss her off into coming down and avenging him.  You said earlier in the movie that you only need him to find her.  Well guess what, you found her.  What good is Peeta now, besides good at coming up with shitty ideas and painting himself like a tree?  Let's hope you guys don't get predictably thwarted or anything.  Even Storm Troopers could've closed this deal.

So, after Blonde chick's death by thwarting, you have four more chances at killing Katniss.

1) You all run into the woods and leave a 12 year old in charge of all your supplies
Nice one dude.  You guys have do a really good job at delegating who's on watch duty.  At least this time you upgraded from "no one."

2) Get a free 50-foot spear throw from a guy who has thrown spears his whole life
Okay, in Evil Chris Colfer's defense, this was as good of an effort as could have been imagined.  Let's say he was by himself (which it appears he was), so they couldn't flank her.  He baits the trap, he has one shot at it, and he comes pretty damn close to killing her.  He then gets immediately dropped by an arrow, but hey, good job, good effort.

3) Ambush Katniss as she comes for medicine
This was actually a good plan.  And it would've worked too, if villainous taunting wasn't mandatory in all scenarios where the hero is pinned to the ground.

4) Wrestle 2 against 1, unarmed against a bow and arrow and a guy who's only known strength is hammer-throwing
Yeah, not the best plan, but the fuck was he suppose to do?  Though, he should've just immediately killed one of them, not do the hostage situation.  I mean, how often do heroes miss that shot?  Like never right?  Liam Neeson didn't even let the dude finish his sentence in Taken.  So, that's just not doing your research.

Overall, I give this group like a C+.  They peaked early.  But they couldn't get the job done when it counted the most.  So, basically, they are the Dallas Cowboys of the Hunger Games.  But don't worry Billy Zabka!  At least you can date Jessica Simpson!

Hunger Games Rant 1: Battle Royale

All right, if I want this writing thing to actually work, I need to start throwing stuff on here willy nilly.  So I'm going to throw down thoughts of the FIRST Hunger Games movie.  Note, I haven't read the books, nor have I seen the new movie.

So, as someone who has read and watched Battle Royale, a lot of people described Hunger Games as a PG-13 version of Battle Royale.  While I agree that's an accurate view, it's extremely narrow.  That being said, if you told me the guy who directed Pleasantville was directing a Battle Royale remake, I'd kinda expect this (though he obviously didn't write the book).  So I have 2 rants to go over, the first starting on the Battle Royale vs. Hunger Games discussion.

For those of you who haven't seen Battle Royale, check out the Wikipedia article for a brief synopsis.  Now, the book was a bit different, (the guy in charge wasn't their old teacher, Shogo and Kazuo were in the class not sign-ups, Kazuo has brain damage so he's emotionless not sadistic), but the movie is an easier comparison because the book focuses more on the relationships between members of the class, and the movies don't have time for that.  Now, which one is better is not set in stone, it is a matter of taste.  If you want focus on the competition and the more intense reactions of friends trying to kill each other, then Battle Royale is your gambit.  If you want a more full story where the plot extends above the game, then Hunger Games is probably the best alternative in the "let's watch a bunch of kids kill each other for sport" fictional genre.  For instance, when the people running the game interfere in Hunger Games (the fire balls especially), I found myself naively thinking, "well, that's not fair," not thinking that those running the game would have an ulterior motive.  That being said, I think The Hunger Games did some things better than Battle Royale.

First, the sponsorship thing was pretty genius.  Think if that was placed in Battle Royale, but in a darker way.  Say if you get a particularly gruesome or creative kill, those watching can reward you with some type of prize, be it a weapon or a safe zone.  This could lead to the mental anguish of killing a friend just to gain an upper hand in a game you're growing to hate so much it starts to consume your soul.  I can see that going over well from a plot perspective.  Also, Hunger Games tells of a better underdog story.  Let's break it down shall we.  What are the 2 main character's main antagonists during each game?

Hunger Games:
1) The Game Runners
2) The District 1 and 2 Douchebags
3) Starvation, infection, killer animals and insects, poison berries (basically Mother Nature's a big "fuck you")

Battle Royale:
1) Kazuo
2) The Time Limit
3) The semi-deist game runner actively protecting one of the main characters, and by proxy, the other one as well

The time limit is only necessary because in Battle Royale, the kids are friends and don't want to kill each other.  The Hunger Games has kids actively hunting during the whole game and has those running it throwing wrinkles in everything trying to make it interesting.  Not to mention, all of Battle Royale's romantic interactions just seem empty.  The two main characters are together because it's what their best friend would've wanted, I guess?  Also, two people jump off a cliff together and everyone else decides to tell people that they're in love right before they die.  Hunger Games manages to tell a better story by faking the romance for a plot device which really helped set up the sequel.  Now, with all this being said, the microcosm of Battle Royale's battle is much more interesting to me than the Hunger Games battle.  But the Hunger Games battle is not meant to be the "be all end all", it's meant to set up a bigger story.  So it's not completely fair to compare Battle Royale to Hunger Games.  Battle Royale would be like a sports movie where most of the movie is shown actually playing the sport (in my head, I'd say the sports movie with the most gameplay would probably be the Mighty Ducks series, but even that has a lot more side stuff than Battle Royale).  That being said, I'd like to bring us to Rant 2, or How You Can Train Your Whole Life And Still Being Really Shitty At Murdering Kids.

April 24, 2012

Graduation

Hey person reading this!

I'll probably start up again a little after I graduate college.

Deal? Deal.

August 6, 2011

So Yeah...

Those music blogs are officially gonna be in Duke Nukem Forever deadline. They'll be done when they're done. I'm working on launching my hockey blog, so sorry. More news on that blog soon though!

March 30, 2011

3 Month Check-in

Hello Faithful,

I'm just checking in to give those of you a heads up who poke around a bit to remember the old times when I wrote 3 times a month. Well, I do have some columns backlogged for next year, but I am planning a summer long series over the summer where I chronicle some personal music lists. I'm sure it doesn't make up for the lost year, but it's something.

My goal this summer is to write lists with substance, as I read my old lists and the highlight is not my writing style, but the lists or videos themselves. It's a lazy style, and I wish to add both humor and information into my content, so that it is enjoyable to read and not just to look at.

Hopefully I will get my chops up so that I can write well all next year, and have a bunch of good entries and not just 2, and filler in between.

So see you in about 3 months, internet.