Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Post Where I Let Mel Gibson Off the Hook

So, there's a new Mel Gibson movie coming out soon. It's actually a movie where he's acting and not directing. I hadn't realized it, but it's been over 7 years since he's been in front of the camera. Surprise, surprise, he's playing an unhinged detective seeking revenge in a violent romp across some underbelly or other.


It actually felt gratifying to read the linked article above that said his movies are "typically blood soaked," which has been my axe to grind all along. I've never understood his compulsion to create violent tableaus and present them as art. It's always seemed wicked to me...the glee with which he tried to shock us into getting his point. It made me wonder if he wasn't just some kind of misanthropic weirdo. He certainly wasn't adding anything worthwhile to the conversations about faith or history with this stuff. But he was pretending to be historical, accurate. I thought that bit was alarming. Imagine if his megalomania took root and he gathered something of a following.


A lot of folks seem to think now that his career as a serious artist is over, after the drunken anti-semetic rant he presented a few years ago. Funny that that would be what pushed him out of public favor. I would think his gory displays of wet violence might do that. But then again, I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to violence. Either way, his message is getting lost in the mayhem he's created for himself. Which: Good.

And he's being a bit of a lunatic with the press, even though he's going through the motions of being a well-behaved celebrity to promote his new movie. I'm thinking he's putting the nails in his own coffin as we speak. It is unlikely that he will have a lot of influence in the future.

And that's good enough for me. This will be the last post where I blame Mel Gibson for anything. My righteous anger against him has fizzled out. Besides, it's not really fun to beat a dead horse, unless your in a Mel Gibson movie, I suppose. Hell, I might even go see the Viking movie he's making with Leo DiCaprio, done in Old Norse, if you can believe it. He claims that it "will put the V in Viking." Having briefly studied Old Norse (i.e. opened up a folder of translations, glanced at the letters and had the good sense to pass on it all together), I can tell you that it will be a painful, if harmless, experience for all involved.
Skal, Mel Gibson! Many a man's nose has been broke by his own flapping tongue. (An Old Norse saying)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Twist & Shout: The First in a Series of Workout Video Reviews

As you now know, I'm about a month into my homemade workout regime. I've lost 7 pounds of the 71 I aim to shed and I thought I'd document that here. Since I'm not rolling in money and can't afford a gym/YMCA membership, I've got to get creative. So, I'm scrounging our vast video archives and the library for some home instruction that costs me nothing. I also plan on raiding the workout video libraries of all my friends too, so be ye warned.

I also have a short attention span and I need variety to keep me interested, which is why I've always failed at running. If I were to start running, I'd really need to be chased. And who can afford that? So, I'm going to try it all. Aerobics, Pilates, Yoga, Power Yoga, Stretching, Toning, Tai Chi...you name it, I'll give it at least a whirl.

Then I'm going to share with you what I learn and give you a brief overview of each unique workout video I try. I will rate each video on a few of different areas on a scale of 1-10:

  • No Pain No Gain: My assessment of how much you're going to feel this in the morning


  • I've Got Rhythm: How I rate the musicality of the workout. Did they splurge on good tunes or is it cheese-o-synth?


  • The Wa Factor: Do I feel good afterwards or do I feel like crying over a bag of Funyons.
I'll also give it a final rating of either: Borrow It, Buy It, or Leave it on the Shelf.

One thing I have discovered is that most workout videos have many of the same basic moves and they seem to have their roots in yoga. Yoga, as Sarah from Yoga for Dummies tells us, is thousands of years old. So I'm making a logical leap here that stuff coming after yoga is basically yoga rip-offs. But as Doc says, if you're going to steal, steal from the best. Therefore, it really doesn't matter much which videos you do. They are all mined from the same vein. The difference is in the trimmings.

And the longest running gag in work-out videos? "Don't forget to breathe!" Ho, ho...

This first post will be a doozey since I've done about six different ones in the past three weeks. However, I'm sticking to the ones I personally own. Next time, I'll start in on the library ones. After that, it will be one at a time. So hang in there and remember to breath. Let's get started!

Paula Abdul's Get Up and Dance

I bought this video after Riley was born and I was well into to the first season of American Idol. It's a good, if long, dance inspired aerobics workout. Let's face it, it's from 1995 and it shows. It's set in a factory from the future stage and it's full of people who Paula claims are just regular people, including guys from a local softball team. She takes you through choreography pieces that include such moves as "Brain Twister," "George Jetson," and "The Hoe-Down." Then she has you put them all together into one final long dance. Unfortunately, it's all set to her music.

There's a bonus dance routine that the softball team puts together, unbeknownst to Ms. Abdul, that is set to YMCA. Then you're down on the floor for ab crunches. It ends with a yoga like cool down and an inspirational speach from herself.

Rating: Borrow It

NPNG: 7

You're going to feel this in the morning and if you've never danced before, you'll be lost after the first couple of dance moves. The ab workout is in my top 3.

IGR: 2

Bless her pointy little head...she's very sweet and fun. But her music kind of blows. Fortunately, your heart will probably be pounding loud enough to drown out the music.

Wa: 5

This is fun, and the inspirational speech is ok. It feels good to conquer the choreography, but where the hell am I going to use the George Jetson? Nowhere unless I tour with Paula.

Richard Simmons' Groovin' in the House

We open up and it's a surprise birthday party for Richard. all the ladies are in these calico, empire waist frocks that end just above the knee. They are also wearing leggings and sneakers. They guys are dressed kind of Casual Friday/Hawaiian shirt day. There's a great diversity in the size of the participants. Everyone moves from the living room to the kitchen to the den (for karaoke) and then ends up in the garden.

Rating: Borrow It

NPNG: 5

This video will get you up and moving. It's fun without being challenging.

IGR: 8

Richard laid out the cash for some decent music. We've got Turn the Beat Around, Jive Talkin', Philadelphia Freedom, The Beat Goes On (complete with an opening shot of a picture of Sony Bono...this must have been filmed after he died), Cotton Eyed Joe, Hot Hot Hot, and Happy Together. I will admit that none of these songs are on my iPod, but they are known tunes and I half enjoy some of them.

Wa: 8

Say what you will about Richard Simmons, but I love him. I love that he gushes to you about how you're changing your life and how proud he is of you. Plus he's sometimes such a queen (ok most of the time) and I'm just charmed by him. His inspirational speech at the end really does make me feel good about myself. An added bonus: He shows members of the cast by name and lists how much weight they have lost. It really is inspiring. Besides, I grew up working out to his show on TV...anyone remember that?

Billy Blanks' Advanced Tae Bo Workout

Ok, so I bought the set in 1999 when the videos came out. I caught the infomercial and bought the hype. I got the tapes and tried the basic/instructional one. It didn't play. So there those tapes sat, year after year, unplayed until a couple of weeks ago. To think, I've lugged these tapes through four moves and never watched them! Amazing. But I spent so much goddamn money for them I couldn't part with them.

This video is set in a gym. It's decorated in the primary colors that are splashed all over the tapes. The audience is made up of some pros, some amatures and a couple of 70 year old women. And it is HARD. The first time I did it, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. It was a Sunday morning and I was sick of doing the Paula Abdul video. But shortly after I started the punching stuff...I was hooked. I was feeling particularly pent up with stress and I went over the wall and believed in what I was doing. It felt really good to punch.

Also, the floor work is intense. I've done this video about 4 times and I get to a certain point when I just kneel and pant. This is when Riley tries to talk me into a break and Lucy brings me water. The first time I did this and Riley said, "Mom, I think you should take a break," I said: "Baby, no pain no gain." And I believed it and it felt good.

Rating: Borrow It

NPNG: 10

I'm still working up to the leg lift/butt exercises but I know I'm getting somewhere with this tape. It's too intense for a week night work out, so I save it for the weekends.

IGR: 4

There's plenty of cheese-o-synth to go around on this video, though he did splurge for Peaches and Herb's Shake Your Groove Thing, which is a personal favorite of mine.

Wa: 7

Billy is a great teacher. He's very supportive, if somewhat goofy. I like his approach and man is he ripped! One complaint I do have concerns the lax video editing and wardrobe issues. How do I put this...There are some interesting camera angles that capture some distinct sweat issues. For example during the floor exercises, we get a shot of the crotches of some of the ladies who didn't have the sense to wear black work out clothes. Let's just say they have some very unfortunate and revealing sweat stains blossoming in their nether regions. It was a moment when one misses the standards and practices people.

Coming up:

  • Kung Fu Kick Boxing Workout
  • Marilou Henner's Dance Workout
  • Brazilian Dance
  • Hula
  • Tai Chi Anywhere with Dr. Lam
  • New York City Ballet Workout
  • MTV's Power Yoga

Monday, January 18, 2010

Personal Expression Welcome!

So, we're most of the way through January, thank God, and I'm two weeks into my plan to lose weight and get in shape. I'm checking in with the National Body Challenge offered by Discovery Health, which has a progress checker and a place to record what you eat. The problem with the latter is that it's DEAD SLOW to add/edit items, so I probably won't enter every meal I eat. But I like to update my current weight and watch the little line drop down towards the x-axis goal line.


So far, I'm 5 pounds towards my 71 pounds to lose. That means now I really only need to lose 66 pounds. I feel like I've had a weight problem all my life, but If you'd have seen me in high school, you would have disagreed. I really can't believe that I thought I was so heavy in high school. It was probably a body image issue. The problem was that eventually, I sort of just gave up keeping active. Why bother if I'm already fat? Well, I wasn't fat and I ended up sliding out of a fitness regime.


Me, a junior in high school...




Me, 21 years later...


Depression had a lot to do with it, I'm sure. I struggled with that for 15 or 20 years. But I'm done with that. I'm seriously committed to making myself look better. And if I feel better to, then good.


Anyway, this isn't going to become a weight loss blog...or maybe it will, since it will give me some motivation to post again. But I just wanted to let you know what was going on. I hope that now that I'm out of the closet, weightwise, I can apply peer pressure to myself. Also, I don't want to come back in January 2011, check back on the previous year and realize I totally dropped the ball. So, I have my future self to answer to as well.

If I stick to the plan and all goes well, I should be at my goal weight by late summer. I'm also looping Doc into this...he's actually done some yoga with me once. I'm hoping that he'll continue with that. He did express interested in trying out the Brazillian dance video I got from the library yesterday. We'll see if he can keep up. Although the cutie that runs the dance is constantly encouraging us that "Personal Expression is Welcome!" and I think that's a policy Doc can get behind.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Dream/Reality Barrier

So the other night, Lucy and I snuggled up and hit the hay. It was all comfy cozy as we watched some Futurama and dozed off. At some point in the night, I was dreaming that an intruder had made his way into my bedroom and was holding his hand over my mouth. I was struggling to move my head and get out from under his arm. I wasn't able to get away, but I did turn my head so I could bite him.

As I bit down on his arm, I began to wake up only to realize that it was actually LUCY'S ARM I was biting. She had flung it over my mouth as she tossed and turned in the night! I disengaged my teeth and she pulled her arm away and rolled over, completely unfazed. Creeped out, I tried to get back to sleep. But could only think of the lyrics to this song:

Grandpa's beard is long and gray
It grows longer every day
Grandma chews it in her sleep
Says it tastes like shredded wheat...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Walkie Talkie Talk


The girls got walkie talkies for Christmas and this is my favorite thing I heard them say through them:


"Do you have a visual on the kitchen...I repeat...do you have a visual...over"