Thursday, January 31, 2008

"I'm a bit bored... can you help?"

For a while now, a running theme in emails from coworkers is boredom. Even better, the sharing is from female coworkers. There is one married with kids, some are married with no kids, and one happens to be living with her boyfriend. This last one brings tears of joy to my heart to know that here in the heartland, someone does try cohabitation and does not just rush into marriage (not saying it's right but live here, and you'll understand). The backgrounds are all pretty different, but the complaint is the same: boring, routine, in a rut.

Usually the email or short work conversation starts with something else and then a "what did you do for the weekend/holiday/last night exchange. I say what I did, show enthusiasm as I always do at work, and ask what they did in return. The beauty of these complaints is that they are prefaced with the phrase "I'm not complaining..." or "I know I have a good life but...". People describe their New Year's Eve celebration as not much, boring, barely had a pulse. Maybe they describe their weekend as boring, watched tv, did jack shit. Maybe they describe their life as stuck in a rut, a bit bored, very routine, "biding my time". That last one scared me. Biding your time to do what: run off to Mexico with your daughter in tow, conquer the world, release poison into the water supply like the Joker. This is the admission phase of the conversation. They lay it out there. I am on the receiving end and am clueless on how to respond as I am a man and we do not understand female problems well. I usually just give a nod, do that concerned look and give them the ok to go on even though I do not really want to hear any nasty detail that might pop up.

The second phase of the conversation is where I hear the reason or lack of reason for the boredom. Sometimes it is a spouse that works 3 jobs. Sometimes it is a busy work schedule (2 jobs of their own and a kid) and they don't have time for much but to relax and veg out when they get a moment. There is the unspoken reason, and I think it is the other half of the marriage. Yup, I'm going to blame the men. No one who admits to a boring routine to me is over 50. We're talking about people in their peak years. A secondary reason that ties into the husbands is communication. I have a strong feeling if these two people communicated better, they would not be so bored. This brings me back to my point of "Why the heck do they tell me, what can I do to help them".

In all honesty, I think they want me to brainstorm so awesome ideas like skydiving, solving the JFK mystery, or a one night trip to Vegas for them. If not, I can at least lighten the mood with jokes as most of these people find me hilarious. Not my word, their word. My wife will say I am very funny, but I would stop short at hilarious. If I were, I'd be doing stand up... hmmm, not a bad idea. Sometimes I get the feeling that they are open about this because I am the guy from the east coast. Since I am still developing relationships at work, they can tell me things and be pretty certain I will tell no one else. The other side to it might be that they are secretly hoping for an affair, and that I too will be bored, willing to whisk them away to some exciting adventure filled with romance as we search for the lost ark of the covenant. Uh oh, the wife better watch out.

My favorite reply is "you can always make a change, it's your life". Ultimately, you do control the free time that you do get that you end up doing nothing with so you end up feeling bored. You have the power to get off your ass and do something even if it is walk around the neighborhood. Boredom is supposedly a nice byproduct of the wonderful, modern society we have created. I really do love my life and thank the heavens that I live in America. I really would not live anywhere else. I do not get bored. I do shit. I think that is what is at the core of these women and their boredom. They do not do shit. They go to work, go to night school, go to a 2nd job, eat dinner, sleep, but they never take a chance and do something just a bit different. Maybe this si how we have progressed. We do a lot of things in the home now and rarely venture out. Movie theater revenues are down, but it can't be due to higher ticket prices as people put home theaters in for thousands of dollars and rent/buy DVDs like mad. People get in a huff over not having an NFL Network game on their cable box, but are too lazy to drive a couple miles to a nearby sports bar. I'm probably on the odd end of the spectrum here as I used to go and sit out in the snow in a beach chair as a teen old cold winter nights because the air felt so pure.

Routines can be comfortable. I am a creature of habit. The familiar is safe. I think this explains why a lot of people stay in bad relationships way longer than they should. The misery who are acquainted with is oftentimes less scary than the unknown of loneliness. I love to see how a person acts when they eat, pick a restaurant or try new food. That is probably a better window on someone's adventurous side than anything else. I've never met a person who is adventurous at a Thai restaurant that turned out to be a dullard. Tolstoy once said that bordeom is the desire for desires.

You get one life.

I Call Shenanigans

I call shenanigans on models and what have you that say "I find smart/intelligent men very sexy". That is 100% BS. It is as cliche as a woman saying they are sexually attracted to other women in front of men. If that were the case, women would have posters of Einstein up on their walls or sit on the washing machine while they read Michel Houellebecq novels. They do not. This is just a play to make guys who are smart and lonely, and most likely reading up on a model to have hope. Why do I know this? Because what they really find attractive are "men who are good looking that are smart/intelligent". Brains might be a desirable quality in a mate, but no way is it getting you into bed with them. Brains cannot subsitute for looks, but money can. My nerdiest friends in college were not pimps.

Sorry but this really bothers me as I spent my early years hiding my intelligence for a lot of reasons but as a teenager because the moment any girl I liked found out, it changed things. I went to a nerd college and still dumbed myself down so that girls could feel they were the smarter one in the relationship. This of course would end horribly when I would call them out on some lie they told which I would catch them in because I have a phonographic memory. I hear it, I remember it. Better yet, they'd tell me their SAT score, like it frickin mattered, and I would not tell them mine, then they would tease me to get it out of me thinking it was lower than their score, and then I would say what mine was and we'd be broken up in 48 hours (happened twice to me). I found a lot of young women at my college did not just want to be in a relationship and be who they are and love another person for who they were. They wanted to feel like they had the upper hand, they were blessing me with their presence, they were the special one. Just be who you are and knock it off with the BS. This goes for you too vapid actresses and models.
I just can't stand this, sorry to all y'all.

The Doors "Hello, I love you"

I have always loved the Doors song, "Hello I love you". The song is a wonderful description of spotting a beautiful woman and that rush of thoughts that goes through your head. I did not think of this song when I met my wife, as it was more of a "let me do a 3 point check, 1-2-3, we're good, target acquired". She was probably thinking "yeah a good looking guy finally arrived". My personal favorite line in the song is "sidewalk crouches at her feet/like a dog that begs for something sweet". I really wish someone would use this for a 'hot chick walking down the sidewalk' scene. I heard this song today and smiled. The power of music.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Odd Dreams

The 3 pound universe known as the human brain is the part of the body we will probably never understand no matter how advanced science and medicine become. There is so much to it that we do not use, so much that we do not know, and so much that is nearly impossible to understand. One of the vexing qualities of this organ is the ability to give us humans images in our sleep that we call dreams.

One thing I find fascinating is that these images play out in the 4th dimension (time) as well as normal experience. I find it amazing that the brain can create images and have them work continuously at the exact same rate that we take in life around us through our optic nerves. Dreams have always been a problem for me. I have constant nightmares, and it was worse when I was a kid. It's odd to be a 9 year old and not want to sleep. This is doubly torturous for me because I love to sleep in. My morning dreams though are usually spastic and short in nature.

Recently, I have had dreams of losing my job over the dumbest things. In these dreams, the smallest mistakes become reasons for termination. I will end up doing things that I never would in real life, like punch a coworker for no reason in the face. In another, I ended up punching holes through the brick walls, and could not come up with the cash to fix the walls, therefore I was terminated. All of these dreams I think point to either extreme paranoia or a deep love of where I work now. I'm willing to say it is a mix of the two, as I do love my new company but I am a paranoid SOB.

Ultimately, I think a lot of people make too much of their dreams and do not just focus on the here and now of life. A dream is just bits of information coursing through your brain that is puts together for you to enjoy. The brain wave activity that a person has when they sleep is low, and really, the dreams mean whatever the hell you want them to mean. Read enough dream books and you'll find that a dream about a cat might mean that you are scared of cats, love cats, are afraid of water, like eating mice, love to be pet, or are hairy. This is an exaggeration, but y'all get my point. Dream analysis is probably people being afraid to face their real lives. "Let's focus on make believe land, and forget I do nothing about my current life". This also spins back into how people get so fired up on the internet about things rather than enjoying their real life. If I spend enough time thinking it is real, it is real to me. I'll be posting on this idea in the near future. Seriously, if you are not happy with something or bored, do something to change it. It is your life and you only get one (in this form).

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Janet Jackson in the "If" Video

For my money, no female pop singer can do a music video and look as sexy or as great as janet Jackson did in the video for "If". I still haven't learned how to embed videos, sorry guys. If you were a teenage boy in 1993, or a grown man with a pulse, you know the video I am talking about. This video would stop my friends and I in our tracks. I am talking about pre-implants janet, pre-workout freak Janet, pre-wardrobe malfunction Janet. I am talkign about the Janet in 1993 that did that awesome Rolling Stone shoot where she looked like the bomb, and then cemented her sexiness with the "If" video. It was a hurricane of just the right touch of things.

In the video, her body is bombing, her smile is just about perfect (probably veneers), her skin looks great, she has some curly hair thing going on that had some highlight dye thing to it, and she had started to get work done to her face but not too much. That's just what a 13 year old needed to see on screen as she sang "your smooth and shiny feels so good against my lips sugar".

To get all serious, this album and video represents something completely different that probably could not be done now from a female and black artist. On the album, Janet uses quite a bit of guitar for instrumentation to her songs. Her music could be classified in the R&B section and also in the pop/rock section. Some of the songs sound really hard for a pop princess. Now I ask... could a black, female artist do this today and get nationwide acclaim? No. As much as we want to say we have progressed, I feel from a musical standpoint, there is more pressure for black artists to conform to means of media that are the norm for black music. Part of this si because the labels discovered you did not have to have mainstream appeal and lighten up; being black somewhere along the line became a code for cool, and suburban white kids lapped it up. That is where the money is. Case in point is Alicia Keys. Her music sounds fantastic. She has a great group of fans. She also tries harder than kobe Bryant to show she has street cred, and it comes off pretty darn phony. It's almost as if there is a fear of betraying custom by doing something different. Ask Kenna what it is like to be a young, black male singer who does not rap or do lame "hip hop". See the lack of support he gets from a label despite having more talent than 75% of the industry.

As far as the video, nowadays, would they even waste time making a video? The video itself is sexy without Janet showing more skin than the average American mom now shows at a Little League baseball game. Consider any of Beyonce's videos. I do not need to see her naked because if I piece together every outfit from her videos, I have seen it all. Janet does an actual dance routine in this video instead of just shaking her T&A. Some of the moves I can still do because they struck me as so fluid and cool back in '93 and I mimiced them. I also spent time watchignt he making of the video special and the special on her world tour. Dare I say that she moves in a sensual manner implying her naughty abilities rather than just doing that butt shake/drop thing that seems to be in every rap or hip hop video. Remember that George Bernard Shaw said that dancing is a vertical representation of a horizontal desire. Something about the Janet video just seems much more adult than the crap that is out there now. For some odd reason, it feels like many of the young, female music and movie stars of today are trapped in this region of quasi-adulthood where they have to look like a trashy adult temptress yet still retain some little girl innocence about them. I understand the need to make people feel rotten about getting old, but something seems very odd with how so many of them don't seem fully adult. It is like they are trapped in some fairy land. I don't think a single starlet in the music industry could challenge the "If" video. No one.

Janet has an amazing laugh as well.

Getting Back to the Gym

I have alluded to returning to the gym, and the second week in Operation Recover Sexiness is in swing. Joking, as sexy never left. Ow. To be serious, it feels great to be back in the gym as I feel mentally much better. I am one of those psychos that internalizes negative feelings and rarely do I yell or get very upset. I just let it get me down or end up with a migraine. I did not discover this until college. Releasing pent up negative energy at the gym is a great form of mental therapy for me. I'm so happy I went back.

Prior to jumping back into my gym routine, I read some of the old muscle and fitness magazines that I have saved. I read a great article on how to come back into a routine after a long lay off due to injury or illness. It was very informative and is helping me pace myself this first months back. The biggest thing is not to push myself so hard this first month and cause my back to become injured again. The article was a help. I joke that one person only needs a 12 months subscription to Muscle and Fitness and then never read a muscle magazine again. Seriously, how many breakthroughs in workouts can there be in a 5 year span? I checked my mags which span from 2001 to 2007 and found none.

There is a gigantic difference though in the magazine advertisements and supplements that are focused on in articles. When I looked in my 2001 mags, fat burners containing ephedra were plastered on quite a few pages. Now, no mention of ephedra. The government ban of ephedra in knee jerk reaction to one MLB pitcher's death was reversed by the Supreme Court. This still did not make the supplement companies happy, and they fear that a ban could come back at any moment. This si why fat burners with ephedra are not pushed anymore. Sometimes you might see a fat burner that mentions "canadian formula", and this means that it has ephedra in it. I once used 'ripped fuel' to stay awake while out with my Navy buddies. I only used 1 pill, which had ephedra in it, and holy shit was I wired. It was like drinking red bull loaded with cocaine.

The changes in supplement or nutritional advice is worth checking out Muscle and Fitness when they do their giant supplement or "Get Big Diet" issues, but besides those issues, do you really need to read up ont he magazine month after month to find out what to do to build a regimen? Every month they do a small article on other body parts and have one big focus article on a specific body part of specific type of training (strength, size, fat burning, etc.). Get a one year subscription and do not renew it. You don't need it. I have lifted for my shoulders in the same manner since high school. The workout has worked great for me. There has not been a giant shoulder breakthrough from the world of sports science. Don't waste money on a subscription. Most of the online websites available now for free post just as good if not better workout routines.

Liek with a lot of other things, any small thing you can do to make a change is a good move. Refuse to accept ordinary. Quit your bitchin' and make a change.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Random 2008 Observations

I've been MIA for the beginning of 2008 and it's because of excellent Christmas gifts in the form of good books and video games. I was playing a game one night and listening to Pearl Jam's "Vitalogy" and had a flashback to 1994.

Boomsday by Christopher Buckley is a hilarious satire of the political world. I recommend it to everyone to check out. I laughed out loud quite a bit. I think it lost a bit of steam when the presidential election takes over the last part of the book and felt it was underdeveloped. The book could have been a good 50-100 pages longer.

"I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell" by Tucker Max is hilarious. My wife also enjoyed this collection of true stories of one completely out of control a-hole. It's a light read intended to make you laugh a lot. It did not fail. I had one laughing fit so hard that I hurt my abs.

I'm reading a Chinese book right now called the "Republic of Wine" by Mo Yan. I have to take my American brain out, wash it a bit, and then prepare myself for all of the similies and analogies that are Chinese based. Lots of references to ducks. There are passages about drinking and being drunk that are the best descriptions of those states of being that I have ever read. He describes good drunk, bad drunk, bad drunken nightmares, and that point where you try to get yourself to hold it together in amazing detail. It is difficult to slog through, and I can only read like 20 pages at a time. This is coming froma guy who flies through 300 page books in maybe 2 days.

I discovered women really are attracted to wedding rings. It's that stamp of approval. Women, seriously, married men are off limits. Even if the dude is inviting it, the other side of that wedding unification is most likely not. My wife knows I could only leave her for Salma Hayek, but Salma chose a 60 year old French billionaire. It's her loss as far as I am concerned.

Don't stay away from the gym for 6 months. It's sore to go back. Wow.

I don't care that Heath ledger died. I don't. Seriously, it is sad for his family but no worse than anyone else's passing due to an accidental overdose or not. The worst that could happen woudl be for the media to jump to conclusions about someone'death,a nd maybe they should have waited on reporting about medications and drugs in the apartment prior to the toxicology report and autopsy. Sad that he is so young.

Be very careful of your money in banks right now. There are so many screwy things going on right now with the banking industry, that money market funds are not even 'safe'. My wife can make fun of me, but I'm stocking back up on canned food.

Did not see the Hitler-esque skeleton in Ron Paul's closet. Whoa, some of those newsletters from the 90s where he attacks Jews are awful.

I'm starting to really dislike the internet. Not for the amazing technological adavances like real time bill pay, money transfer, fantasy football, porn, games, jokes, gambling, video archiving, and information sharing. That is great. I hate it because it involves people at their worst. I think the anonymity of the Internet has allowed people to be gigantic assholes on the internet with no accountability. There is a great line from the movie cocktail "everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn't end".

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Marion Jones' Career Arc is Perfect Fit for a Dramatic Film and a Steroids Rant

A prison sentencing that had no reason to be front page news on made me do a little research. Please read this wikipedia entry and let me know if this would not make a perfect dramatic film, let alone a great sports movie? You could pitch this to a producer and they would laugh you out of the building for it being too cliche, plus it does not portray sports ina positive light which is what all sports movies are now (positive, fell good, udnerdog stories). Why are there no 'dark side' of sports movies? Back to Marion Jones, I even went back to the Maxim photo shoot she did for the 2000 Olympics and found a pic. This is when I knew something was wrong with her. No woman should have that kind of muscle definition, ever.

Marion Jones was a high school and college track phenom. I ran track in high school, and there were two names they would put in those newsletters of young, rising track stars in America, Marion Jones (female) and Obea More (male). She was a world champ at 22. She had an attractive face (bad teeth though which is why she never smiles in pics). She had Nike on her side shoving her down the throats of Americans during the 2000 Olympic run-up. NBC pushed her non-stop as well. Every Olympics needs a star, and she was the chosen one by the America media. The money, fame, and victories were all hers.

The twist in the story is that the BALCO sports medicine clinic was investigated, and it is amazing how things can catch up with you. She stayed clear for a while, but as her trainer, her husband, her friends, etc, were all being busted for roids, you knew the gig would soon be up. All of those medals from 2000 were stripped. All of the positive adoration gone. Throw in check fraud, and now she's in jail for 6 months. From gold medals to orange jumpsuit. Somewhere, a screenwriter is pounding his head against a desk, "Why didn't I think of this 10-15 years ago?" Perfect Arc in 3 Acts: Rise (90's track glory), Peak Moment (2000 Olympics), Fall (roids investigation to present).

I understand why these athletes take these 'enhancers'. It gives them the edge, and it protects them in case someone else is doing them. Still, it's playing Russian Roulette with your health. Ask Lyle Alzado. When I was little, Lyla Alzado meant mean Oakland Raider who ate children for lunch. By the time he died, Alzado was a sad old man, victim of his own hubris. We will see more deaths from steroid abuse and 'performance enhancers' in 10-15 years.


My rant is on how steroid use has permeated culture in America. I know steroids is waaaaaay down the list of national or international concerns. Look at this article here on 'roids. Why are 9th graders taking steroids? At least marijuana, alcohol, and cocaine would give you a good feeling. Roids just bulk you up, cause all sorts of weird side effects, make you pissed off and can lead to cancer & other degenerative disorders. When did sports become so important to so many people that kids began to risk their health in greater and greater numbers? I have met some professional athletes up close and let me dispell the idea parents might have that little Johnny or Jenny will make it 'pro'. Unless they are genetically gifted with something very unusual, speed, size, jumping ability, it ain't going to happen. Prepare them to enjoy sports as a hobby while young and encourage them to be healthy & stay in shape. Your 7 year old is not going pro when you and your husband are two average sized humans with no amazing abilities of your own. Hate to say it is genetic, but it mostly is your genes. If it isn't in the family, you hit the genetic lottery ticket like Lebron James' Mom did.

Is that it though? Is it the lucrative contracts of professional athletes that puts it in people's minds to push their kids, be assholes to everyone involved not related to them, and think their kid is going pro? Is it a money root to this evil? I thought that the worst side effect to the success of Tiger Woods, the Williams sisters, and the Manning sons would be the number of baby boomer parents who would emulate the obsessive, aggressive behavior of the parents of those stars. I think it has come to pass.

The sports industry complex has grown by leaps and bounds as time has passed, so have sports injuries. I do not know a female basketball player who has not had a scope surgery on their knee to repair torn ligaments. Parents getting in fights at games is no longer a rare event confined to hockey dads from Massachusetts. It only makes sense that the children in these homes then think "if i do roids, I'll get big and make the pros". Look kid, you're 5 foot 7, roids will not make you taller. You run a 5.2 40 yard dash, roids will not drop it to 4.4. What it will do is put you at risk for cancer, tumors, small testicles and other problems.

Steroids are much more refined now. Far more allow you to keep your muscle mass after you cycle off. More of them only need one cycle to show large gains. My Navy buddies would show me websites, like this, that would review steroids and explain where to get them. We all laughed at their 5 star system for rating gains, how much stayed after cycling, side effects, cost, and length/number of cycles. We wondered where the "heightened risk of cancer" rating was. Scary part is, I had high school friends who talked of doing "just" 1 or 2 cycles of steroids. I kept thinking "Why and what for?" What was worse, were that my high school friends were done with sports and probably only doing it to get buffer. Do it the old fashioned way guys: vitamins, eating right and working out. The internet has been a perfect storm for getting this illegal substance distributed to a discerning consumer. If you're a kid used to shopping on the internet and already break the 'law' by illegally downloading mp3s, what is the trouble of the next step in buying something over the internet that is an illegal substance? You might have already disassociated the illegality of your actions. You might already have parents who provide you alcohol, look the other way with small law breaking, and consider you a 'god'. Is this a big leap or just a short hop?

I'm not going to even touch the middle aged folks who do steroids to get buff. It's like a 70 year old using Viagra. No sir, you do not have ED. Viagra is for people with real ED, bot just old age ED. In fact, that is not ED, it's just old age. Remember when French class would give you an erection, well if you can;t that means a lot of time has passed and Viagra is not for you.

If only these kids put that much effort into their schooling. Heck, if they took pep pills to study more like Jessie Spano in "Saved by the Bell', I think I'd be ok with it. If they smoked marijuana or did LSD to try to find a meaning to life, I think I'd be ok with it... as long as they stayed in their basement, dorm room, or benign place bothering no one else while doing it.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA

The Boss rocks. Tonight, the wife and I listened to "Born in the USA" on our new record player. Listening to some albums on the record player, I find that listening to so much msuci on the internet has allowed me to forget how goods CDs and albums sound. I find the album sound to be richer and if it makes sense, deeper (in the true sense of depth, not spiritually deeper). Born int he USA has so many good songs, so if you have not checked it out recently, listen up. My faovirte songs from that album are "I'm on Fire" and "Glory Days". Both have great videos, and if I knew how to embed them, I would.

Listening to the entire album and watching videos on Youtube, it dawned on me that the entire album is a nostalgia play for the late 50s and early 60s. This was a brilliant move at the time as the baby boomers were adults, and the music video could grab them by showcasing 50s cars, spotlighting daydreaming middle aged men, and having the Boss dance around with his giant sideburns. The rule a marketing major, which I can't believe a university would allow, once told me was that you subtract 20s years from the current decade and the nostlagia will be for it. Thinking about that 'rule', it does make sense. In the 70s, there was nostlagia for 50s things. In the 80s and even early 90s the goddamn nostlagia for the 60s almost killed me. Seriously, why was anyone nostlagic for a time of intense societal strife, a foreign war that killed nearly 60,000, protests with tear gas, peaceful protests met by fire hoses and dogs, political murders, etc? I remember sometime in the 90s when my friends stopped making fun of me for listening to 70s rock and suddenly found out it was cool. I also remember in the late 90s how disco pop came back, but they called it dance music. There has been a bit of 80s notsalgi this decade, and I hope to heck that no one feels nostalgic for the 90s in the next decade.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Ending 2007 with a Whimper

Here's a recap of my last 2 weeks of 2007. Business trip that did not accomplish much, flight home and drive through Friday of a Holiday afternoon traffic up from Boston, death of my wife's grandfather, Christmas lunch at said grandfather's home, 3 days of funeral stuff, and finally an illness. I dislike winter.