30 April 2013

My favorite month

A prelude to May:

I love May. Last year, Adam posed a challenge to Pick Shit Off The Floor Edvery Day in May.  It is called PSOTFED.  I intend to do this all 31 days in May.  Anything counts.  Kettlebell swings/snatches, Axle deadlifts, Pendlay Rows, Barbell Snatches, Rack pulls, Pinch Lifts, etc. 

I don't give a shit what you do, as long as it falls in that criteria.  You might have to be creative. Take a video. If you do something cool, or potentially useful or it makes you proud and you want to share, post it as a comment, email it, or post it here.

Make it fun, hit the PRs and notice your body comp improve.  You'll be thankful.

25 April 2013

Eponym: Death Metal and Deadlifting

The other day, I posted my latest post on my facebook page.  (Go like it, if you have not).  Some motherfucker asked what it had to do with death metal and/or deadlifting, then proceeded to call me a motherfucker.  Fair enough.  I rarely post about death metal, though I come from a land where it was once revered like the holy grail of all music, much like powerlifters tend to think three lifts are the holy grail of exercise.  Consequently, those who fall into both camps stagnate.  

Opeth: as innovative as Pink Floyd, Meshuggah and Iron Maiden
It's quite easy to make a comparison of death metal and deadlifting.  Both appeal to a small minority of the general population, both are generally male dominated fields, and the practitioners of both seem to have deeply focused anger issues (though, in actuality this is not the case--many in both camps are genuine people and are very humble). 

With such a fringe appeal, it's difficult to market either practice.  If you have ever been to a powerlifting meet, it's fairly boring, from an excitement perspective and from a movement perspective.  The psyching up and what not can be somewhat laughable, if you aren't used to it, and the same thing goes for a crowd of metalheads getting ready to mosh. If you have been to a death metal concert and have but a passing interest in the genre, you probably won't have a fucking clue as to what's going on, since the majority of bands don't do a lot in the way of theatrics--which is to be expected, since they have normal jobs and lack the budget to go as theatrical as a band like Pink Floyd can do.  Moreover, you probably don't understand a word they are saying, unless you are a fan and have listened before. 

With such an obvious lacking in the formula department, nothing catches on.  It makes it less marketable.  The one thing we notice in all art forms are thematic elements that repeat themselves that are communicated coherently.  My favorite song has all of these, and consequently it is regarded as one of the best songs of all time. 

In powerlifting, as well as metal, there are also ridiculous amounts of division.  If you ask someone what metal is, the answer will be different, and the genre preference will be wide (death core, death metal, metal core, djent, grind core, black metal, symphonic epic metal, etc.).  Compare this to powerlifting.  There are so many federations in existence that it is almost becoming meaningless to set world records because someone is bound to do it sooner or later (though the all time records are a bit tougher to touch).  With these divisions, it makes it even less appealing to the general public than it already is.

Combine all this with a lack of interest from the public (if I knew five years ago how to sell people in the death metal capital on the music I played, I would probably still be in a metal band) unless it is someone that established themselves 20 years ago, it makes it a seemingly godless endeavor.

I don't purport to know the full answers on how to make either of these avenues extremely marketable again, aside from assembling a loyal fan base.  For lifting and metal, I think getting more women involved will probably help immensely.  From what I have seen, colleagues are accepting of women in these two fringe areas than in other areas.  (I'm sure sexism will still exist in both, but based on watching bands like Arch Enemy succeed, and athletes like Kara Bohigian, or Ronda Rousey do their thing, acceptance is more common, than it would be in both, since in all fringe events it seems like overall ability, at the end of the day, is key).

Angela is a far superior vocalist compared to the last guy singing for them.
So, there you have it.  A few of my critiques on the entitled subjects. 

Like me on Facebook

10 April 2013

Something Personal

Usually, I talk about stuff I do, as opposed to talking about myself.  Since I don't get a lot of comments from the readership, I thought I would post several factoids about myself in an effort to let you all get to know me, and together we might share experiences with each other.  That said, I'll make a list of ten things I find interesting about myself (though you may not).

  1. I am neurotic when it comes to time.  I never like to be late to things that have a formal start time.  Concerts, movies, classes, work, plays, etc.  If I am late to any of these types of events, I feel like I committed a moral failure on my end.  This idiosyncrasy was so great that in 2006 Arielle and I (this was our first go round at dating) were driving to a show I was playing for the band I was in at the time, and we got there two hours early.  The venue was empty with the exception of another musician I knew, so I immediately left Arielle alone to talk to my friend.  It went something like this:
  2. I was fairly poor growing up.  My father and I moved to a quaint redneck town called Plant City when I was four years old, and my grandfather and he converted a brick building into a home for us.  The down side of this was that the only rooms were a bathroom and a living room, so privacy was very minimal.  This made things like watching internet porn, or masturbating very difficult.  It also destroyed my belief in Santa Claus at an early age, since we had no chimney and my dad never dressed up as Santa.  I also could never sleep on Christmas eve, so without having a room I had full view of the distribution of presents.  This same setup allowed me to get exposed to great cinema as a kid, too.  I saw movies like Silence of the Lambs and A Clockwork Orange before I was ten years old.  Some people say it fucked my mind up a little bit, but I see no evidence of that.  
  3. My mother, several uncles and cousins have/had substance abuse problems ranging from alcohol to crack.  Thankfully, my mother managed to quit smoking crack sometime around ten years ago and is living a sober life.  Others of my family are not so lucky, and are still addicted to these drugs.  I am thankful that in all my experimentation, the only thing that took hold of me was cigarette smoking, which I started when I was 12.  As of now, I do not smoke or do any sorts of recreational drug and I rarely take NSAIDs or anything similar. I will occasionally get some cheap bottles of wine from CVS (3 for $10) and enjoy a few of those.
  4. Speaking of substance abuse, the first person who introduced me to anything resembling Westside Barbell methodology or powerlifting at all worked at a gym in Plant City.  He claimed he trained there and maybe he did.  He later stopped showing up to our lifting sessions due to a warrant out for his arrest involving meth.
  5. Plant City was also home to a lot of protestant Christians, and I grew up with a lot of disdain for them.  I took a class on the New Testament in college so I could argue with the Christians in my town.  Later, I would go on to get a degree in religion, focusing on Black Muslims and Malcolm X.  The highlight of this was when I spoke at the American Academy of Religion South Eastern Regional Conference.  My paper was on the Nation of Islam and Gnostic elements within the religion and was a blast to present.  It was the first original thought I had, and I am still proud of it.  To top it off, I had an interesting homeless person encounter.  I was pumping gas on the way back home from Atlanta, and a homeless guy approached me. He asked for food money as I was pumping gas.  He offered a leather jacket in exchange for this food money.  I told him to hold on and he waited.  I went inside to buy some coffee and a bottle of water.  I also bought the homeless guy a burrito, which I warmed up for him.  I went out to hand him his burrito, and he said, "Well, I actually wanted $8.00 so I can get some Boston Market."  I convinced him to take the burrito, and he offered up a leather jacket. As it turns out, he had a bunch of jackets sitting on the ice chests. I declined, and wound up in Tampa, Florida eight hours later.  I unwound myself by watching my favorite live action television show--Married with Children.
  6. The first person I fell in love with and lost my virginity to was a black immigrant woman from Trinidad. Her mother was a doctor, and together they had the best grasp and command of the English language out of anyone I have met to this day.  We met at a concert when we were in chorus in high school.  I put ice down her shirt, and that was the catalyst that started our relationship.
  7. In no particular order, my favorite movies are Apocalypse Now Redux, Terminator 1 & 2, Blade Runner, Malcolm X, and Natural Born Killers. 
  8. My favorite musical artist is Prince.  I was fortunate enough to see a concert of his in April of 2004.  It is one of the best shows I have seen, and even for a 46 year old man, he still danced and sang like he did back in the 80's.  The highlight of the show was when he performed an acoustic set of his older material in the center of the stage.  All by his lonesome--and a rhythm guitar accompanist in the shadows.
  9. My favorite song is "Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles.  I think it is the best example of songwriting as a craft, insofar as it defines, develops and resolves a plot relevant to many people.  It does so simply, without any superfluousness and moreover, it has a memorable refrain over a simple chord progression.
  10. I am more physically and mentally active at 27 years old than I was at 17, despite having a shitty job at the moment (which most use as an excuse not to do anything at all).  Had I been lifting or playing Jiu Jitsu since I was, I would probably be really good at both of them.  At the very least, I am getting better daily.

02 April 2013

Your goals

Often times we get bombarded with other people telling us to adhere to their standards.  When I was in high school, I had to get a 1270 SAT score and 75 community service hours to get the state of Florida to pay for 100% of my college education.  I damn sure did not get a 1270 SAT score (1110) and I sure as hell was not interested in serving my community when I was 14-18 years old.

If someone is giving you something for meeting those standards, that's well and good.  For health and exercise, however, you won't be rewarded by an outside party for your efforts--except maybe your significant other, or what have you.  If you compete and meet their standards of "Win" you'll likely be rewarded with a trophy or something. 

Usually, when you see marketing for exercise books and fitness products, the makers will tell you what you need to do to be a "real man," or some other nonsense.  Here is one example:

The ad copy for Convict Conditioning. Do you really need someone to tell you what it takes to be elite, or to be a man? If you were in a bodyweight competition with standards judging for what an elite bodyweight athlete should do, it might make sense. Otherwise, set your own standards.

This book seems to be marketed towards people who have low self esteem.  On the other hand, other products merely give you features and benefits, and will allow you to set your own bench marks.  Here is an example of that:
 There is ad copy for one of Adam's products.  All it promises is better, which is true.  It also does not berate you, the buyer, and it does not tell you what you should do to meet an arbitrary standard. 

Keep in mind, this kind of stuff applies to all sorts of marketing, be it on a porn site, the television, or at the cinema.  Now, they even have sleazy commercials at gas pumps.  Infomercials are probably the worst, since they think we are all the dumbest fucks who have ever walked the earth. 

One of the things I like about the marketing within the movement is that the only thing we all promise is better.  We won't tell you you will be a real man, or an elite athlete.  All that shit is up to you.

The point of all this is simple.  People in your life who set standards for you often under (or over)estimate you.  I'd like to think mostly underestimate you.  The government, your university board of trustees and admission directors, your bosses, CEO's, Tyler Durden, might not think you are a unique snowflake, but you are.  The best thing about this is that your goals are truly your own.  Sure, you might share them, but only you can hit them or miss them.  As such, your dedication to a goal(s) is wholly your own, and will set you apart from everyone else as an individual.  You have goals.  If not, set some. Then own them. Don't let anyone else set standards for you.