Monday, January 15, 2018

The Diary of Mitch R. Singer

Shorty after the new year
They come in suits of plastic, Martian men, roaming the streets with their machines, collecting samples while the troops put up fencing. News has already gotten out; we're ground zero for something bad, something alien, perhaps, or more likely engineered. I look out the window, blinds drawn, for you don't want to draw their attention. People have been disappearing, the ones who asked too many questions, who seemed a little too interested in the coughing and sneezing of their neighbors. We told ourselves it was the flu, that we'd get better in time, that modern medicine would have the cure for what ails us, that we could continue on with our lives of gentle consumer servitude. The children distract themselves with their electronic gadgets, but our internet connection is out, the modem's light blinking like a beacon warning us to stay away and keep quiet. We're all peering between drawn blinds, watching the forces marshal in our small slice of American suburbia. After hours, I start putting liquor in my coffee to counteract the caffeine. I don't want to be too awake in case something happens. I want to feel the heavy weight of battling drugs.

Day ten of our confinement
Billy has the cough. His nose runs like a faucet, mucus leaking from his nostrils in green streams of slime. We don't let him out into the back yard in case someone sees him. He is confined within a smaller prison, the prison of his bed room. My wife has him lapping up fluids, a wet towel pressed against his forehead to cool his fever. After tending to the boy, she washes her hands for several minutes until they are cracked and raw. I read in an encyclopedia that every sneeze releases millions of virus particulates. The hand washing gesture is as futile as Macbeth's.

Day fifteen
We hear a knock on the door. I get up slowly, as though I'm being called to the scaffold. A glance through the peephole reveals men in plastic, respirators and hoods covering their faces, concealing any hint of human recognition. I can't see their faces so I can't read their faces; nevertheless, their purpose seems grim, unfeeling, determined. I crack the door open and ask if I can help them. A muffled voice rings out, and papers are presented, government licenses, CDC badges. They want to come in the house. I tell them that that's impossible, that we haven't the room, that the place is a wreck and that my wife has a phobia of strangers. They stand for a while uncomfortably, silence filling the spaces that we refuse to fill with useless words. The muffled voice speaks again, saying that habeas corpus has been suspended and warrants have been issued for every house in the cordoned zone. I give him my best smile and nod while he speaks, as though I understand and comply. As I unlock the door and let them in, I take my pocket knife and run it against their plastic suits, my eyes on their hidden orbs, smiling, distracting. Everyone enters punctured; everyone will soon be as we are, prisoners of illness. I make sure to hack and cough as much as possible as they take samples from our furniture. I make sure they catch my disease.   

Friday, January 12, 2018

New Old Music: Cossacks

An old song, one of my weirdest. Dig the guitar solo, which I did with my old piece of shit Paul Reed Smith, which I ended up retiring after destroying the tremolo.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Writer's Block: New Year

The fog flows in

Blanketing curves

Setting loose lights

That freewheel

Plummeting madly

Wisps whipping 'round

Bodies without heads

Starved souls steering

Toward cliff sides

Falling futures

Babbling mouths

Babes aging

Turning to men

That eat themselves

Feet first

Like a snake

Making a ring

Happy new year.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Pointless Venture's Best Video Games of 2017

Look at the rotund man and all his little robot minions.

2017 was a year of constant stress, befuddlement, and loathing, and what better way to deal with such emotions than playing video games? While not as good a year as 2016 for gaming, I had a lot of fun with three titles in particular.

Best Indie Game: Firewatch

Though it actually came out in 2016, I played Firewatch early in the year. It tells the story of a middle-aged man fleeing from his wife's Alzheimer's diagnosis to be a firewatcher and think some deep thoughts. During his crisis, he forms a relationship with his superior and becomes involved in a mystery that's something of a red herring. Somewhat similar to Gone Home, Firewatch is another walking simulator that's more about story and the experience than actual gameplay. I had a fun time with it.

Best Expansion/DLC: Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

Arkane has quickly become my favorite studio. They make the kind of engrossing single-player first person experiences that used to be so popular when I was a teenager. Death of the Outsider is more Dishonored 2, but with a different protagonist (assassin Billie Lurk) and revamped powers. None of the levels stick out in my mind as much as the clockwork mansion did, but the bank heist is great, as is the final level, in which Billie descends into the Void, an alternate dimension and home to the titular Outsider. For fans of stealth/action games, this one's a must.

Game of the year: Prey

Also developed by Arkane, Prey truly came out of left field. It's a fully-fledged sequel to System Shock 2 in all but name, yet it does its inspiration much better, featuring a believable space station, a fantastic art-deco style, and a freedom of play that surpasses other recent immersive simulators like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. I also liked the design of the Typhon, bizarre alien shapes-hifters that serve as Prey's antagonists. This game seems to have fallen under the radar, probably because nobody knew what to expect from it, due to poor marketing and an inexplicable name inherited from an unrelated predecessor, Human Head Studios's 2006 title. Best single player game I've completed in several years.

Friday, January 5, 2018

What I Learned about Weightlifting in 2017

Yes, it's true: if your arms get big enough, you will grow a second brain inside them.

I had two big lifting goals for 2017: to deadlift 600 lbs and to military press 225. I didn't hit either of them! But I did bench press 300 lbs at 197 lbs, which was a personal record. And I learned some stuff too, which should help my progress in the future. Here's what I learned.

1. Periodization probably isn't necessary for anybody but elite lifters. I did block periodization for most of the year, focusing on the powerlifts. I ended up with an SI joint injury that prevents me from squatting heavy to this day, as well as no increase in my bench press. Disappointed, I started benching four days a week, maxing out in two of those workouts. After two months, I hit a 10 lbs PR on Christmas day, 300 lbs at 197 lbs bodyweight. Since then, I've sworn off programs and more or less just lifted how I feel daily. Do I try to increase my weights? Sure, on a good day, and I do the same with volume, but I'm done messing with percentages. I think that shit is a waste of time.

2. You have to do arms to get bigger arms. Let's stop pretending that everybody who lifts doesn't want bigger arms. I've never done much for arms besides pressing and curls every once in a blue moon, but after hurting my back, I did upper body four times a week because I couldn't load my legs very heavy. In addition to pressing four times a week, I did 4 sets of 10-12 repetitions of curls and pressdowns twice weekly. My arms responded by finally growing bigger than 16 inches. Turns out the bros were right.

3. Don't try to train through a painful injury. I can't remember exactly what date I hurt my SI joint, but I know I tried squatting and deadlifting for at least two months afterwards, which only exacerbated the situation. I've given myself a good two months off from heavy lower body training, and now I'm starting to front squat, starting very light with the plan of increasing my weights slowly. Most of this shit is common since, but if you're addicted to lifting like I am, it's hard to make yourself stop.

4. Protein powder is a waste of money. Supplements really are useless, unless you're buying steroids. Protein powder costs way too much, and you're really better off just eating more meat and eggs rather than trusting some supplement manufacturer who is probably lying about what's in your Muscle Milk. I bought the good stuff at GNC for a couple months with no noticeable improvements. Don't waste your cash.

5. The military press doesn't aid your bench press substantially. At least, it didn't for me. I forewent military pressing for a couple months, replacing those pressing days with more benching, and lo and behold, my bench press went up. Your front deltoids get plenty of work from benching, and throw in some side laterals for the medial delts, and you're good, assuming you're doing back work.

And that's all I learned during 2017.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Select Farmers Only Profiles

Name: Gretta Hermonie Sanderson

Age: 26

Looking for: Some of my farmer friends hooked me up with this app, which is cool, but really just looking for Netflix and chill.

Hobbies: Working a minimum wage job for way too long; being hopelessly addicted to social media.

Bio: Looking for somebody who rejects society's pressure for us to live a mindless, commercial existence, as well as somebody who photographs well for my Instagram account. I'm really into home brewing at the moment--I brew anything: beer, pickles, kombucha--so if you're interested in increasing the health of your gut and the amount of poo that comes out of your butt, lemme know. I haven't made direct eye contact with someone in five years, hope that's not a big deal. If interested, don't call me, text only, but give me like at least a week to respond.

Name: Suzanne Bellerose

Age: 24

Looking for: A partner interested in permaculture and reducing their environmental impact. Also looking for a dude that looks good in hemp and dreadlocks. Man bun is acceptable, fyi.

Hobbies: Finding ways to eat inedible vegetables; lecturing people for not having a local source for every consumable.

Bio: Hi all, name is Suzanne, though don't quote the Leonard Cohen song unless you can sing every single verse to me along with acoustic guitar accompaniment. I'm nominally a vegetarian, so I'm looking for a nice man to cook cabbage and other foul-smelling things with, hah! Also don't wear deodorant, and I haven't shaved my legs since god knows when, but keep in mind that I permit hair on men in strange places, so it's an equal exchange. Would also be nice if you knew how to play the mandolin because then you could complete my folk ensemble. Peace!

Name: Sexy Texan Lawmaker/Big Dick 69

Age: Too fucking old.

Looking for: Many youthful wenches who will look past my past transgressions and my hideously ugly frog face in exchange for a bunch of cash and a lengthy nondisclosure agreement.

Bio: I'm a Republican American Congressman extraordinaire who threatens to shoot people and makes sexy sounds with my frog mouth. I have hyperextended my virtual corpus through every single dating site on the internet in an effort to spread my seed. When my tadpoles have hatched, you and every other red-blooded American will thank me for representing the great state of Texas. Remember the Alamo, bitches!

Name: Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Yeti, Hermon

Age: 35 (human years).



Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Batman and Robin, New Year's Eve

It is dark, as it always is, inside Wayne Manor when Robin finally comes home after a night of celebrating new year's eve with his friends. Batman sits in the parlor, fully dressed in his costume, a multi-monitor display parked in front of him. He grunts as Robin sits down on a chaise lounge, confetti in his hair, a kazoo stuck in his mouth like a cigar. The jubilant expression on his youthful face irritates Batman, who has spent the last three hours browsing the internet with a scowl on his own weathered visage.

"Happy new year's, Bruce," says Robin, trying to break the ice.

"Have you seen this?" barks Batman, pointing at one of the monitors. "More fake news about the Russia investigation. I've never seen such a witch-hunt. It's goddamn disgusting."

Robin sighs. He knew it would be like this, that ever since the election, Batman's obsession with right wing media had overtaken his life to a disturbing degree. He had hoped that the new year might bring forth another change. It seems that he was mistaken.

"Clark was there. So was Aquaman. We had a drinking contest. Guess who won?" says Robin, desperate to change the topic.

"I took a look into Mueller's record. You won't believe the shit he's done. He's deep state. We're watching the integrity of the United States disappear before our very eyes and no one's doing anything about it," growls Batman, who takes a long sip from a flask that he removed from his utility belt.

"Wonder-woman, that's who won," says Robin quietly. "They asked about you."

"Did they?" says Batman, looking at Robin out of the corner of his eye. "What did all the illegal aliens have to say?"

"Jesus, Bruce. They've been your friends for years," protests Robin.

"I'm not friends with anyone who hasn't been through the proper vetting process," says Batman, shaking his head. "You think Clark has a social security card? Where's his birth certificate, huh? Doesn't that strike you as a little bit suspicious?"

"He's from Krypton, Bruce. He's an alien from outerspace, not Mexico," says Robin.

"Too many of them," mumbles Batman, turning back to his screen. "Taking jobs from real Americans..."

"Name one person who can fly at supersonic speeds, has immense strength, can see through anything, and who can shoot laser beams from their eyes," says Robin.

"I don't know where I went wrong," says Batman suddenly, finally turning to face Robin. "You grew up reading the Federalist papers. I read the Constitution to you as a bedtime story. You were eighteen before you saw a movie that didn't have John Wayne in it. Goddamn it, Robin, I taught you to kick ass and wave an American flag. You used to not ask questions before beating the hell out of somebody. What the hell happened to you?"

"I grew up," says Robin, standing. "Happy new year's, Bruce."

"Goddamn it, call me Batman!" Batman roars. He punches through a monitor and waves his arm around. It seems to be stuck, but Robin doesn't turn back. He's getting tired of these arguments. There has to be a change.