Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hail to the King (Baggot), Baby

I love silent films and I especially love learning about the heady days of early Hollywood. I've only seen one King Baggot film, his 1913 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde film that I reviewed thus:

"The transformation is done via dissolve. I was reminded of Boudu Saved From Drowning when Hyde crashes a party."

Pauline Kael I am not, however I did enjoy this film and jotted down that quick note about it after viewing it.

More than his performance, I've always been intrigued by King Baggot because of his bizarre name. He was fairly big in the early days, but I only recently learned the rest of his story. He was both an actor and director, but both jobs dried up once talkies were introduced. Despite being stage trained and having a great voice, as with most of the silent stars he was no longer employable and was brushed aside for fresher, younger talent. His raging alcoholism probably didn't help any, and he died divorced, broke and alone in 1948 after suffering several strokes.

I went to Calvary Cemetery in East LA to pay my respects to the icons buried there, and the first grave I wanted to visit was Baggot's. I was not able to find any information online as to where he was buried, and when I went to the main office to ask where he was it actually took awhile to locate him because he wasn't easy to find in their computer. They did eventually locate him and after a minor hunt I was able to locate his grave. Interestingly, there is a blacked out name right next to his, and part of me wonders if that was intended for his wife before they had a bitter divorce.

As you can tell from my previous entries, I don't update this blog very much. Hell, my last post was some dumb shit about a Pavlok that I decided not to get last year. I'm posting this because there are zero pictures of King Baggot's grave online, and it's a shame for someone who was as big as he was, no matter how brief that stardom was, to be forgotten. So here it is, King Baggot's grave. Also, go to YouTube and check out his Jekyll and Hyde movie. It's a hoot.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why I Decided Not to Shock My Bad Habits Away

There's a lovely product on the market called Pavlok. You strap it on your wrist like a watch and every time you perform a habit that you want to break, you push a button and you'll either feel an annoying buzz, or a full-on electric shock. Because I'm a big fan of bizarre self help shit, I figured I'd give it a shot and placed an order for one a couple of weeks ago.

Now, had my Pavlok been delivered in a timely fashion, I may be wearing it right now, happily shocking the living shit out of myself every time I nibbled on a Dorito or piece of bread. Instead, and this is death for a product of this ilk, I had to deal with a longer-than-expected delay. And because of this I had time to, you know, think about whether or not I wanted to physically hurt myself over and over again with their product. I had also been reminded that I could do the same thing with a simple rubber band, which looks less fancy than a Pavlok but is more easily attainable, and slightly cheaper than the $200 price tag that a Pavlok fetches.

I also had the opportunity to watch a clip of Pavlok creator Maneesh Sethi getting his asshole ripped apart like pulled pork on an episode of Shark Tank, a show that's so repulsive to me that I'd never watch it unless the clip involved something that I spent money on (or Bulletball). The weirdest thing about Sethi's Shark Tank fiasco is that this guy actually promoted his appearance on the Pavlok mailing list that I found myself on. I get that there's no such thing as bad publicity, but I mean, one of the Shark Tank assholes actually yelled at him to "get the fuck out," and professional douchebag Mark Cuban called him a "con man." That's not really encouraging to people who have already given you money for said product.

Anyhow, the refund was processed and is presumably back in my bank account. I will still pursue bizarro self help products to break my habits, improve my health, engender longer, firmer erections, and give my life the quality it deserves. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to down a glass of fake food before starting my day.

Monday, October 5, 2015

5 Ways I Lost 50 Pounds in 5 Months (Don't do this)

Last time I mentioned that I lost 50 pounds a few years ago. I gained 40 of them back, but that's not the point. I'm sure a number of you are curious about my weight loss secrets, and I'm always of the mind that "you gotta give the public what they want." So without further ado, here is what I did to lose 50 pounds in 5 months!

(Note: DO NOT DO THIS. I cannot stress this enough. This was idiotic and while a couple of these points may be practical, points #2 and #4 were borderline psychotic. Once again, if you do what I did, you're a goddamn fool.)

1. I drank a shitload of coffee

Coffee is the ultimate appetite suppressant, and best of all gives you the jittery energy to go out and face your day. I typically drank two cups before I worked out and then another cup or two later in the day. A big reason why I never eat breakfast is because with coffee, I don't need to. Even though I woke up at 5, coffee ensured that I wouldn't be hungry until at least noon. It truly is a magical drink of the gods. Really, I have no idea how the hell Balzac was able to stay fat while allegedly drinking 50 cups of coffee every day.

2. I starved myself

I consumed 1,200 calories at most every day. If I went over, I ate even less the following day. When I got really hungry, I took a nap. If I couldn't sleep, I'd drink a glass of water. The crazy thing is that this didn't lead to me eating better, because I would still eat Chick-fil-A sandwiches and whatnot. You wouldn't believe the kind of garbage you can eat that will technically fall until the 1,200 mark.

3. I logged every calorie I consumed into MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a wonderful calorie-logging app that I used religiously to log every last calorie I consumed. It also has a feature to log in exercise and calories burned off. This was one of the biggest things that kept me in check during my diet, because the numbers would be staring me in the face every single day, and whether or not I ate depended on how close I was to the magic 1,200. Logging calories is a serious pain in the ass, but guess what? So's being fat.
4. I did the elliptical machine every single day without missing a day

Cranking the resistance up to the max, every single morning I went to the gym and used the elliptical machine for 70 minutes. According to the calorie counter, I typically burned off 900 calories every day. Keep in mind, I was doing this at the same time that I was consuming under 1,200 calories a day. The way my mind worked at this time was that the elliptical machine was taking away the calories consumed from whatever meal I logged in the previous day. I would imagine that number disappearing with every ten-minute stretch on the machine. Sometimes I would get light headed. Sometimes my chest would hurt and I'd feel like either puking or passing out. I still did it because goddamn it I was determined to lose weight, health be damned.

5. I weighed myself every week, sometimes every day

It's usually not recommended that you weigh yourself too frequently, because your body weight changes due to a variety of factors, and the scale is not an accurate sign of your body fat percentage. Still, my goal at this time was weight loss, plain and simple, and if the number on the scale went down, I felt like I was making progress. If I plateaued, or if the number somehow went up, it kept me in check and forced me to work harder (i.e. starve myself more and nearly kill myself with cardio).

So after doing all this and hitting the magic goal number on the scale, I was ready to bask in the kudos and soak in all the compliments on how great I looked now that I lost all that weight. Instead, I had people asking me if I was sick, if I was OK, and what was going on. People were legitimately concerned because THIS ISN'T NORMAL. I looked gaunt, and here's the kicker, I still had a gut. Sure, I was thinner and could fit into clothes that I used to wear when I was in my early 20s, but I looked like shit. I didn't lift a single weight during those five months, and I undoubtedly lost a lot of muscle during this period. Also, as I've already mentioned, I gained back nearly every pound I lost.

Moral of the story? It's not hard to lose a lot of weight, but if you do it stupidly, it will have been all for nothing. Don't do what I did.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

How I Became a Fat Ass in 5 Steps

Sorry, this isn't going to be as exciting as some superhero origin story. I wasn't bitten by a manatee, nor was I inspired to eat by a bag of potato chips crashing through my window at night. No, my transformation from a scrawny dude with a gut to a full-on fatass was a much longer process, and happened so slowly that I felt like a casual smack user waking up and discovering that I was an addict.

First off, from puberty on, I have always had a gut. My arms and legs were scrawny, but I still had a little bulbous bag of fat protruding under my chest. I never even noticed until one time I was at my friend's house and he decided that we should work out. I took my shirt off and him and his asshole brother both started laughing at my gut, immediately giving me a complex (I got revenge by not becoming an alcoholic and just in general being more successful in life. FUCK YOU, BUDDY). From puberty to my mid-twenties, I'd had pretty much the same overall shape. Thin arms and legs and a gut of varying sizes. It was never really anything for me to take notice of, since my clothing never hugged it and my pant size stayed in the 32" range. Then, all of a sudden, a perfect storm of events happened:

1. I became a library tech, and spent most of my time at work sitting down.

If you work in a library it's almost by design that as you move up the ladder and get paid more you start having to do less moving around. That in combination with continuous birthday pot lucks, candy jars, and other button-bursting bullshit leads one down the path of expanded waists and fuller faces.

2. I stopped walking to places and relied more on driving.

I used to love going for walks. For a while it was by necessity because if I needed to go to a video store I couldn't always depend on a ride there, but when I got a car I started getting lazy. Why spend half an hour on a walk when I can get the movie in ten minutes? Sadly, my reliance on a car instead of my feet also took away an activity that felt meditative most of the time and kept me in generally good health.

3. I spent hours upon hours on the internet, in addition to the hours I spent watching movies.

I used to brag about not watching TV, all the while being planted firmly on my ass clicking away on a keyboard. If I turned on the TV at all, it was to pop in a movie, one of the arts I'm the most passionate about. So after a work day of sitting down, I would sit in my car to drive home, only to come in and sit on a chair to go online, or sit on my bed to watch a movie. Seriously, it's like I was picking hobbies that would specifically limit the amount of movement I had to do. Hell, I love writing, and that activity only requires the slightest finger movements.

4. I felt less guilt, and in fact took a degree of pride in, being able to eat an entire bag of chips.

Instead of feeling some justified shame that I could finish an entire jumbo-sized bag of Doritos in one sitting, I pounded my chest in pride about it. Look at how talented I am at mashing up and swallowing large amount of cheese flavored corn!  Hey, it was a weird time in my life. Doritos were like corn angels that used my tongue as a water slide down my throat, leaving a cheesy film in their paths. I can't stress enough how much I fucking love those chips.

5. I stopped going to clubs entirely, which was my only form of exercise at that point.

My favorite dance clubs in LA stopped existing, and I started feeling a tad on the old side for it. I'll still go out every now and then, but my enthusiasm has tapered off considerably. If I'm going to be perfectly honest here, being in a relationship did take away some of my desire to hit up mediocre night spots where the primary purpose was meeting people for either sex, love, or both. It's like pulling teeth to get me to go to the few good night spots I know about just because I'm so out of the loop that I feel like an outsider there. Plus I don't drink anymore. So there went the one exercise I was sure to do at least once a week, but usually twice.

So for a few years I started eating more crap, and the majority of my time was either sitting in a car, sitting at a desk, sitting in front of a computer, or sitting in front of a TV. At that point my ass started taking on a Persistence of Time quality as it dangled loosely off the sides of my seat. Ok, maybe it never got that bad, but the point remains: I got fat and gross. Hell, you could hear my goddamn breathing, need I say more? My girlfriend and I started dieting, and by starving myself and exercising like a madman I was able to drop 50 pounds. Granted, I gained almost all of it back in the span of a couple years, but that's life for you. Being fat is no fun, especially if you're not into Hawaiian shirts and your body's all out of proportion. Some people can wear a suit of fat well, but I'm not one of those people since my body takes on a Weeble-esque appearance. I'm not as fat as I once was, but similar to my constant battles with trying to learn French and Spanish, the fat battle rages on.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Jesus Christ what a delay

Has it really been this long since I've posted my snotty review of Moonrise Kingdom? I watched it again several months ago and boy, was I ever wrong on that one. The stuff that didn't click the first time around finally did upon a second viewing, and I found myself laughing more than I did in the theater. Now I'd put this one right above Bottle Rocket in my ranking, with Grand Budapest falling between it and Rushmore.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, it's been a long time since I've posted anything. When I look at the list of years along the side of this blog, I see a diminishing excitement for writing, until it petered out completely the last few years. Blogs operate more as personal journals than anything else, and I suppose there was a lot going on in my life that I just didn't feel like writing about. I wrote a novel for NaNoWriMo, but it was a private project and one that I'm not sure will ever be edited into anything substantial.

To be perfectly honest, I don't know why I'm posting this, or if I'll continue to post, or what. I just decided to revisit this blog and was surprised at the anger in the last post. So I guess just to clarify, I was wrong about Moonrise Kingdom. It was a really good film.

Oh, and maybe I'll start updating some more.

Monday, June 18, 2012

FUCK Moonrise Kingdom

You know a movie's bad when, after watching it, you re-watch the director's previous films that you loved just to see if you were wrong all along about them. That's what I did this weekend, with Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, and the Royal Tenenbaums. Thankfully, those movies are still great, and I'm still left scratching my head about what the hell went wrong with Wes Anderson. Apparently, I'm the only one...this movie's making a ton of money (for this type of film) and is one of his best reviewed films. Everyone's calling it one of his best films, some assholes are even saying it's his best film since the Royal Tenenbaums. To that I say both "no" and "are you fucking shitting me?" This movie is, by far, the worst movie Wes Anderson has ever made. Worse than his last live-action stinker, the Darjeeling Limited.

First of all, none of these characters are memorable or even sympathetic, with the lone exception being the Bruce Willis character. The lead, a little asshole of a boy who basically ruins everyone's life by running away from Margot Tenenbaum-lite, is a total shit who's unlikable from start to finish. And don't give me that crap about Max Fischer and Royal Tenenbaum being assholes. Yes, they were undeniably assholes. You know what else? They paid the price for their hubris. Both ended up working shit jobs and being brought low before they can redeem themselves. There was ZERO redemption in this movie, just a couple of irritating, frowny hipster tweens expecting the world to bend to their will because no one understands them and they're in love. To quote Patrick Swayze in Ghost, what a crock of shit.

Anderson also follows his favorite theme of remarkably gifted children, but offers no real background for it, nor any reason why it matters. Fischer was gifted at everything, but it was compensation for being a barber's son, plus his grades were shit. The Tenenbaum children were talented as compensation for having a shit father with no tact. Margot-lite in Moonrise is....a reader. She's also "troubled." She also hates her parents, her mom especially. Asshole hipster boy is an orphan, which is the cheapest way to build sympathy for a protagonist. Oh, he's also a great painter and great at "roughing it." How does that painting add to his character? It doesn't. It was just fucking thrown in there because Wes Anderson likes gifted children.

There's also a scene that's so jarringly out of place, it's like Wes hired Todd Solondz as a guest director. It's the scene where asshole hipster boy and Margot-lite are making out, with tongues touched and everything, and asshole hipster boy gets a handful of tit. Now, I know that directors typically put themselves in their movies, but as soon as I saw this scene, it because blindingly obvious that it's function is as a Wes Anderson/Roman Coppola masturbation fantasy. Misunderstood but talented hip boy meets a troubled "sexy" girl who's into obscure 60s French pop music (I love Francoise Hardy, but don't you dare throw that reference in my face and use "it's from my aunt who lives in France!" as your excuse to name-drop) and has a super-cool secret dance party on the beach? How is this not the masturbation fantasy of two hipster douchebag writers?

The biggest crime of this movie, however, isn't just that it fails as a romance. It's that it's not funny. I'm probably the last person alive who got into Wes Anderson specifically because his movies are funny as fuck, and not because they look pretty. When I see his movies, I WANT TO LAUGH. There were as many laughs in this piece of shit as there are in The Sorrow and the Pity. There were things that I know were supposed to be funny, like the Margot-lite paper-mache head, and Edward Norton being all wacky, and the oh-so-hilarious gigantic tree house, but it all fell flat. The only thing that made me crack a smile was when asshole hipster boy's "father" is called about him running away, and the "father" says that he's not going to take him back. That kind of dark humor briefly brings you back to the glory days of his early films, but then it immediately goes back into the serious business of "love conquers all."

And don't give me that shit about "oh, you just don't like romances." BULLSHIT. I like well-made movies that pay off and earn it at the end. Amelie is one of my top 10 favorite films, as is Casablanca. I'm one of the few guys out there who liked Titanic. Also, fuck it, I liked My Best Friend's Wedding, even though my friends hear me bring that up as an example almost as much as I use Sleepers when playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

This movie sucks cock, and makes me yearn for the days when Wes had Owen Wilson as his collaborator. Bring that shit back, Wes. PLEASE.

Fuck it, here's my ranking of Wes Anderson films, because why the hell not?

1) Fantastic Mr. Fox
2) The Royal Tenenbaums
3) Rushmore
4) Bottle Rocket
5) The Life Aquatic
6) The Darjeeling Limited
7) Moonrise Kingdom

Friday, May 18, 2012

Things I've Learned From Dieting

Two years ago, I lost 35 pounds in 4 months. After getting my MA, that was the thing I was most proud of being able to do that year, and I still talk about it the way Al Bundy talks about scoring four touchdowns in a single game. However, having to read damn near twenty books for my MA took its toll, and I finally stopped going to the gym and giving a shit about my weight, and worked on my project. I never got back into the workout groove, and gained around 20 of those pounds back since then. Sure, I fiddled with strength training a bit, and made half assed attempts to go back to the gym, but it was never as serious as it was then.

My girlfriend is in a weight loss competition with some coworkers, and both to support her and get rid of my gut, I've decided to get back into the weight loss groove. I'm about two weeks into it and have already lost six pounds, so I figured I'd share some things about dieting that I've experienced.

You have to weigh yourself.

This was the biggest thing that kept me from actually doing something about my weight. At some point, I was afraid to step on a scale and face reality. I knew I was gaining weight, but just couldn't get myself to see exactly how much. When I finally did, I was happy that it wasn't as bad as I was at my fattest, but it was still too much. Right now I weigh myself everyday (every week is probably best, but I don't care) and it's a great way to keep myself in check and prevent myself from gorging.

If you're strictly talking about losing weight, then calorie counting is the only thing that never fails.

I always hear all kinds of bullshit about what you need to do, what you need to check, what foods to cut out, blah blah blah in order to lose weight. It's all crap. People hate doing it, but if you're strictly trying to lose weight rather than having a balanced diet or some shit, just focus on calorie counting. That's it. That's really, truly, all there is to it. Eat fewer calories than you take in. It's the "buy low, sell high" of weight loss. For instance, the first week of my diet I had a spaghetti plate from an Italian restaurant and a bacon cheeseburger from Outback Steakhouse, and because each fell under the calories I was allowed for that day, I was fine. Sign up with MyFitnessPal and it'll set up how many calories you're allowed per day. As long as you're under the allowed calories per day, you will lose weight. To quote George Zimmer, I guarantee it.

The second day is the worst.

I don't know why it is, but the second day of your diet is the most excruciating to go through. Pretty much nothing satisfies your hunger, and you want to gorge on everything in sight. You hate life and you hate your stomach and you hate this stupid fucking diet. Then, the next's gone. I haven't bothered to research this, but I think it's because on the first day of a diet, your body is still unsure about why you're taking in fewer calories than you usually do, and sees it as some kind of odd freak occurrence. The next day, because your body hates change and actively forces you to go back to what was normal, it creates resistance and tries to trick you into cheating. You basically have to tell your body "fuck you, THIS is the new normal" for it to calm that funky shit down. This actually applies to all change, I think, including changing your attitude.

The elliptical machine is the best machine to use to burn the most calories in the shortest amount of time.

Again, this is if you purely want to burn calories and don't give a rat's ass about anything else. I spend 65 minutes on the elliptical machine everyday and burn around 1,000 calories each time. Tell me another machine that gives you those results.

Turkey and chicken are magic meats.

Extremely low in calories and delicious. In fact, one of the more surprising things that you find out when dieting is that meats in general aren't as bad for you calories-wise as you'd think. Steaks are pretty low, too. However, to get the most bang for your buck, you can't beat chicken and turkey.

Servings sizes are typically bullshit.

One of the most frustrating things about calorie counting is when you start discovering all the sneaky-ass tricks that the food industry plays when it comes to calories. If you take a brick of Top Ramen and check the calories on the back, it says 190. Hey, that's not too bad. Then you see the serving size, and it's half a brick. What the fuck? Who the hell eats half a brick of Top Ramen? I remember being horrified when I saw that one of those Mexican fruit pies was 500 calories (nothing slightly bigger than your fist should ever have that many calories), but I actually respect the fact that they weren't bullshitting you about it by saying that it was for "half a pie" or some shit. Hey, assholes at Top Ramen, your brick is 380 calories. Cut the crap and just label it correctly. You'll see this same shit on "fun sized" bags of chips, where it's like 2 servings per bag. Who the hell has ever shared a fun sized bag of chips? No one. Fuck you, food industry.

It's best if you view weight loss as a game you can win.

People are always looking for ways to win at games, and weight loss should be the same. One way that I'll cheat is by working out heavily at the gym, which causes the amount of calories I'm allowed per day to shoot up nearly double. I could get a large-sized fast food meal right now and not even feel guilty about it, because I've worked out enough to where my allowed calories per day is higher than whatever the calorie count of that meal would be. Also, if I'm going to get fast food, I can walk for it and keep a pedometer on hand to count the calories I burn on the way.

You have to be OK with being hungry.

At least for a couple of days. You find out that, at a certain point, the hunger passes. When this starts happening, you also get filled by eating less, which may be your stomach shrinking or some other kind of malarky. Know that this is going to happen, and everything will be fine.