I’m going to be real with you for a sec, hope you can hang with it: I hold grudges. Specifically, I hold grudges against people who ask for help with a thing then do nothing with the help they’re given. This is almost certainly a case of my projection and revulsion of a flaw I see (avoid seeing, I suppose) in myself, but that’s beside the point, which is this: Help is everywhere on the internet, from the most highly qualified people you could hope to engage with. If you care about a thing, you can’t kick a digi-rock without it hitting the website or youtube channel of an expert in that exact area. So with that in mind, peruse if you will the highlights of the things I care about this week, starting with a topic close to my heart:
- Muscles, Strength and getting more of both
The only videos on my personal youtube channel are from 2012 consisting solely of segments from my high school’s strongest boy competition:
These aren’t clean reps, we weren’t rigidly monitored for form quality and we weren’t inclined to penalize each other for… well, doing whatever Luke was doing towards the end there. We were enjoying the novelty of testing ourselves outside of class, and I remain thankful to the staff at Aston for keeping this competition going for as long as they did.
Though it would be easy for me to say my interest in strength training began there, I was barely going through the motions back then. while I was following Men’s Health recipes on blended oats, blueberries and protein powder and “hitting the gym” instead of attending Psychology classes I wasn’t really thinking about what I was doing, I was just trying to change myself in the typical teenage sense. Everything sucked and nobody understood me, least of all myself.
Fast forward 7 years and I would like to believe I’ve got a better handle on why I’m training, at the very least: to become strong. How strong, you ask? As strong as possible, I’d reply, unhelpfully. If that’s something you’re interested in too, this here link houses crucial pages from Ferriss’ book, the 4-Hour Body, with exercises and theories that I’ve found most useful. I’ll be adding to that link in time but there’s already useful stuff to be savoured.
if you just want a taste of the sort of thing I’m talking about, here’s Tim Ferriss explaining my favourite motion:
Tim has a ton of great insights into the fastest, most efficient ways of doing things and I can’t recommend his books enough, if only for the great value for money they represent, being the bricklike tomes that they are (again, see the dropbox for pages taken from Tim’s 4-hour body)
While this motion may not seem all that impressive, it builds the muscles of the posterior chain (the back half of your body, including your butt, hamstrings, latissimuss dorsi and others). These muscles, when developed, lead to things like this:
(for context, each one of those red plates weighs 25kg. he has 10 of them on that bar at the outset.)
If this doesn’t blow your mind into tiny pieces, we’re probably cut from different cloth so feel free to scroll past this point, but if you’re inspired by Dmitry Klokov as I was, the good news is he’s all over youtube (albeit in Russian) and the great news is many many coaches like him are literally giving away routines that will help you get stronger than you are right now. Not only that, but the fundamentals, the initial ones and twos you need to recognise in order to safely improve? They exist online for free too. One of the books that came up repeatedly in my initial research back in 2012 was called Starting Strength, which was £28 at the time. Here, it’s free. If you’re a little more advanced and want help making sure you’re doing exercises in the right way, here’s a playlist I made chock-full of insightful coaches giving their knowledge away. If motivation is the weak link, this video of Dan Bailey completely destroying a set of 30 clean and presses in a minute (a standard workout in Crossfit, incredibly) never fails to inspire me, along with this slow burner of a workout called the Iron Triathlon:
You can skip to any point in the 95 minute workout and see something phenomenal occurring. If that doesn’t get you going I don’t know what will. With that being said, let’s move on to lighter matters, like:
- Scurvy giving people superpowers
Sounds a bit out of left field, right? But from this article from the Public Domain Review it seems like along with the ‘regular’ negative effects of becoming scorbutic, many individuals experienced heightened senses to the point of giddiness, which seems worth it maybe? The article is needlessly sesquipedalian, which seems to be a requirement of the PDR but nonetheless it was an interesting take on the potential for positive outcomes in negative conditions (here’s a VSauce video on what scurvy is, just in case.)
- Re-reading American Psycho
If you’ve not read the book I seriously counsel you to procure the film and consume it first. This may be a sacrilege for many readers to even suggest but having gone through both versions a handful of times I believe the world of the film aids understanding of the novel far more than the reverse. The plot points, in a similar way to Memento (more on that movie another time) are only heightened by repeated exposure to them, and the schism in tonality every so often (there’s a couple of chapters dedicated to music album reviews. Fully fledged, detailed and thorough music reviews.) was and remains exhilarating to me. The first three pages demonstrates this by following what is essentially the wrong main character for a while before our man Bateman is forced to react in a conversation:
“Powell and dinner at Evelyn’s? These two go together about as well as paisley and plaid.” Price rethinks this. “White socks with gray trousers.” A slow dissolve and Price is bounding up the steps outside the brownstone Evelyn’s father bought her, grumbling about how he forgot to return the tapes he rented last night to Video Haven. He rings the bell. At the brownstone next to Evelyn’s, a woman—high heels, great ass—leaves without locking her door.
Price follows her with his gaze and when he hears footsteps from inside coming down the hallway toward us he turns around and straightens his Versace tie ready to face whoever. Courtney opens the door and she’s wearing a Krizia cream silk blouse, a Krizia rust tweed skirt and silk-satin d’Orsay pumps from Manolo Blahnik. I shiver and hand her my black wool Giorgio Armani overcoat and she takes it from me, carefully airkissing my right cheek, then she performs the same exact movements on Price while taking his Armani overcoat. The new Talking Heads on CD plays softly in the living room. “A bit late, aren’t we, boys?” Courtney asks, smiling naughtily. “Inept Haitian cabbie,” Price mutters, airkissing Courtney back. “Do we have reservations somewhere and please don’t tell me Pastels at nine.” Courtney smiles, hanging up both coats in the hall closet. “Eating in tonight, darlings. I’m sorry, I know, I know, I tried to talk Evelyn out of it but we’re having… su shi.” Tim moves past her and down the foyer toward the kitchen. “Evelyn? Where are you, Evelyn?” he calls out in a singsong voice. “We have to talk.” “It’s good to see you,” I tell Courtney. “You look very pretty tonight. Your face has a… youthful glow.” “You really know how to charm the ladies, Bateman.”
The first time through the book I was astonished; it was as though the author himself didn’t know who to ‘be’ at the beginning of the book – the successful, aggressive Price or the polished, upright Bateman. Of course, that’s actually Bateman’s dilemma, whose peripeteia is as hollow and inconsequential as the rest of his presence in the narrative. We are essentially trapped with him, as he is, moving towards nothing in particular yet driven by the base desires that were all the rage, so we’re told, in the 80s.
- Taking Off, by Clipping.
Clipping. is one of those groups that epitomize “scary rap”. Not in the braggadocious, frenetic style of Danny Brown or the straightforward violent vein of NWA, but in a deeper, more existentially terrifying manner that is so striking and so expansive in the spoken narratives that I couldn’t turn my ears away, despite the graphic nature of some of the songs. The above track isn’t too bad for that but there’s clearly a dystopia Daveed is staring at as he raps. Clipping.’s latest album, Splendor and Misery, is a concept album about, from what I can gather without the aid of Rap Genius, the far future’s return to the slave trade and how one escapee, “cargo no. 2331” is moving through literal space, “upset by that to which he is subjected but convinced he brought it on himself”. It’s phenomenal, and it’s a damn shame more people don’t rant about the talent evident across Clipping.’s back catalogue.
That’s the lot this time, I’m fairly certain the next post will have less egregiously depressing content. If anything above struck you as something life-changing or deeply interesting, drop me a bell and I’ll talk your goshdarn ear off about it.
Until next time!