Monday, May 15, 2017

Hanging with the Goon

Tahts waht Im askin'.

Howdy folks, its yur favorit internet hellbilly deluxe here, teh world-famous Goon, of internet fame and general renown. Im back to tell you all a little 'bout wahts goin' on in my life, as well as to share seome of my contemplation of world events and stuff. Im plaesed to report taht teh orchard has set a full crop, an ol' Hernando and I are a gearin' up for a huge harvest. Sam is already countin' teh money in his poeckts, as though it were already thair an' burnin' a hole in 'em. Wit all teh cash I'm a gonna make, I think I'll buy a hot tub to put ourside teh trailer. I'll fill it wit crick water an throw fire in it to get it all warm so I wont have to pay money to teh electric man in teh sky. Wit my hot tub fully functionin', all teh neighborhood ladies will flock to my place an' I will be absolutely drownin' in teh puss, taht is, long as I can hide Slack somewhere so he don't abduct anyone, so maybe back in jail wud be a nice place fer him in teh futures.

Speakin of teh futures, waht is goin' on wit Supreme Leader Drumpf? Ever morn, he is up on teh tree tweeting liek a bird 'bout Fake News an' teh enemies of teh state. Teh cokecane taht tehy have in teh Opal Office must be mighty good, 'cause I can't understand nothin' he says, and not much gets past teh Goon, you know. Tehy say he fired teh FBI Director an' made 'em plege loyalty to teh Supreme Leader so taht he couldn't testify in court taht Drumpf pooped on a prostitute in MOscow while Putin an Red Skull were watchin, or somethin' to taht effect. I worry 'bout tah Supreme Leader. I think he might be playin' golf too hard, or somethin'.

Evertime I try to bring up Polik wit Sam, he always tells me to shut up an watch teh Foxy News 'cuz they always tell teh truth faeire an balanced. Tehy do has some perty ladies on teh Foxy News thoughh I herd taht BIll O'Riley tried to eat 'em all an tahts why they had to put his head in a box an' throw 'em outta his limo liek a bum on teh rocks. Its all right, Bill: teh ol' Goon has been thrown outta a movin' car or two in his day. U just pick yerself up, dust yerself off, an go rob a licour store. Tahts waht my daddy taught me anyways.

Sometiems I wunder waht good all dis modern tecnoology is good fer. People can get trapped in tehre echo boxes and all tehy hear is teh sound of thair own voices, well, taht an a dull ringin' that I can't not never unhear. Maybe we will has a J-Had an all teh robots will be destroyed like IN Dune and taht Kaswhats Hederatz will set us on teh GOlden Path liek in teh movies. Ever night tahts what I pray fer. I sure hope somebody is listen. Hopefully he is a giant Sandwurm.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Rejected Provisions from the AHCA

Jesus Christ, he's a douchebag.

You may have heard that Republicans pushed a repeal and replace of Obamacare through the House recently called the American Health Care Act (secretly known in Republican circles as "the fuckening"). That's not good news for a lot of people, particularly if you're a woman or not a rich person. It could've been worse, though. Pointless Venture has the scoop on rejected provisions from the AHCA:

Originally, if you were a woman asking your insurer about maternal benefits, a giant fist would've materialized out of the phone and punched you in the face.

In the first version of the AHCA, anyone making 30,000 a year or less would have had to serve as the personal butler of the closest WASP, given a fifty mile radius, for three months or more in order to receive health insurance premiums under 300 dollars a month.

Anyone currently on Obamacare would've had to report to the courthouse to be branded as a communist and/or failure for life.

You would have received a tax credit for being sterilized, provided your net earnings were under 25,000 a year.

Upon denying coverage, insurers would've been required to bring up either god, guns, or abortion.

All claims could be rejected, provided the claimant was a woman/transgender/liberal/fan of the tv series Girls.

Paul Ryan would've gotten a kick back from every P90X package sold.

Ted Nugent fans would've been rewarded with a venereal disease of their choice upon every doctor's visit (they consider this a reward).

Before picking up medicine at your local pharmacy, the customer would've had to pledge loyalty to Supreme Leader Donald Trump.

Any woman seeking abortion was captured and processed by a private police force, where she would be forced to carry the child to term so that said child could serve as an indentured servant to Trump supporters making over 100,000 a year.

People could chip away at their gigantic medical debt by volunteering to build Trump's wall.

Preexisting conditions included not voting Republican, being under an 8 on the classic 1 to 10 hotness scale (females only), and spreading atheism. Essential benefits can suck it!

Before committing euthanasia, people suffering with expensive conditions would have been able to pick an heir to receive a tax credit for their suicide.

You would've gotten a tax credit for being white, male, and possessing an IQ under 90.

You would've gotten a tax credit for having insurance.

You would've gotten a tax credit for not having insurance. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Weightlifting: Hypertrophy for Powerlifting

Some good-ol' fashioned man-porn.

Training with low reps constantly gets tiring. Endless sets of 3s and 5s might boost your strength for some time; yet after a while, the body becomes adapted to the same stress, and you find yourself stuck on a plateau. What's the answer? Why, some good-ol' fashioned bodybuilding, bro! By which I mean, multiple sets of 6 to 10 reps, training each muscle group twice a week, minimum. Ideally, you should do a two month hypertrophy program, then switch to two months of strength-building, then finally peak for a month to discover your new maxes, according to bodybuilder/strength coach Mike Isratel (link). Powerlifter Greg Nuckols (link) also recommends this sort of approach. After all, the more muscle mass you have, the more strength potential you'll develop. Just check out some of the top raw powerlifters, Dan Green for instance:

Damn-near as jacked as Arnold in his prime.

So how should you structure a bodybuilding program with a powerlifting focus? Obviously you want to still use the squat, deadlift, and bench press for much of your training. However, instead of working on increasing your one rep max (and ego), you'll focus on developing the primary movers of those respective lifts (so the quads, hamstrings, glutes, pectorals, shoulders, triceps, and spinal erectors, namely), though during this time, you can also work building supporting muscles groups like your biceps and lats. Variation is key, since you'll want to expose your muscles to different stressors (the ol' muscle confusion bro-science, which has a little merit). Below is a sample program designed for someone with the following maxes: 300 lbs bench press, 400 lbs squat, and 500 lbs deadlift.

Sunday: Bench press 225 for 4 sets of 6 (75 percent of 1 rep max). This is your heavy bench day. Also do 4 sets of 10 dumbbell flies, followed by dumbbell rows for 4 sets of 8 and dumbbell shoulder presses for 4 sets of 8. Add five lbs to your bench weights each week, while adding one rep to your assistance exercises.

Monday: Deadlift 3 sets of 10-8 reps with 295 lbs (just under 60 percent of 1 rep max). Why only three sets? Well, it's because the deadlift sucks! Honestly, this workout is harder than it looks. You're going to be doing a lot of squatting, which will affect how much you pull. Just add ten lbs each week. Also do 3 sets of 10 dumbbell stiff-legged deadlifts. Keep those legs stiff and work on the hammy stretch. The weight doesn't matter that much, just add sets each week.

Tuesday: Off.

Wednesday: Low bar squat with belt 250 lbs for 4 sets of 10 (a little over 60 percent of max). Practicing your competition form with high reps will pay off in the long run. Try to keep rest times down for added challenge. Do 4 sets of 10 pistol squats afterwards. Once again, the weight doesn't matter, you're just trying to fatigue your squatting muscles. Follow with close grip bench press 185 lbs (60 percent of max) for 4 sets of 10, followed by biceps curls/triceps extension superset for 4 sets of ten. Add ten lbs to the squats each week, and five lbs to the bench press.

Thursday: off.

Friday: Bench press 4 sets of 8 with 205 lbs (just under 70 percent of max). Follow with 5 sets of 8-12 reps of the following exercises, supersetted if you wish: dumbbell curls, pressdowns, pulldowns, and side laterals. Add five lbs each week to bench press.

Saturday: High bar squat, no belt. 225*8, 235*8, 245*8, 250*8. Keep pushing that top set each week, by ten lbs: increase warm up sets if you feel like it. For assistance, do weighted step ups 4 sets of 10, followed by side leg raises.

After four weeks, do a deload on the fifth, and then start again. After eight weeks, you should transition to a strength program. I'll post one in the future.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Esteemed Critic Reviews Dishonored 2

No sir, I do not require any assistance pillaging your wares.

The sequel to one of the Critic's favorite games of 2012, Dishonored 2 has big shoes to fill. The Critic is overjoyed that, for the most part, this is a sequel that delivers on what made the original such a breath of fresh air. There are, however, problems, though they are not significant enough to ruin the experience, that is, unless you have a low-end PC or you require a constant sixty frames per second. Dishonored 2 has moved on from the Unreal 3 engine to the Void engine, a redesigned successor to ID Tech 5, the technology that powered Rage and the latest Wolfenstein game. The Void engine delivers graphics that are much sharper and more detailed than Dishonored, yet frame drops are common, especially when one is moving into a large, open areas. Since the Critic is a relic from times when one played at 640 by 480 resolution at 25 frames per second, a few drops from 50 to 30 frames do not bother him much. His modest rig, featuring a dated i52500 and a R9 380 was capable of running Dishonored 2 at an average of 50 fps at 1080p at medium graphics quality, which is just fine, really. As you can tell from the screenshots, the game certainly looks good.

The clockwork mansion, seen from a distance.

Gameplay is very similar to Dishonored, except you can choose to play as either Corvo, the silent (now voiced) assassin from the original, or Emily, his daughter, who is now the Empress. The Critic chose Emily, who has a different power set than Corvo, including Domino, which lets you link up to four enemies together to a shared fate (you headshot one, all die, for example) and far reach, a supernatural arm that materializes to pull you toward your destination, a different spin on Corvo's blink power from the first game. Emily's powers are built more around stealth than frontal assault like Corvo's, so of course the Critic decided to play the Empress as a homicidal maniac. Dishonored 2 lets you switch between playstyles, leaving it up to your discretion whether you wish to sneak by without murdering any guards, or come at them with all guns blazing.

A dead body deposited in a refreshing pool.

Plotwise, Dishonored 2 is a rehash of the first game. Emily is deposed by cabal of nobles, including her lost aunt Delilah, a witch with supernatural powers stolen from the Outsider, a dark-clad god representing primal forces. It's not compelling stuff, but the world created in the environment and lore is very good and reminiscent of Looking Glass Studios' Thief series. There's the same dichotomy between technology and primitivism, the same contrast between a developing industrial world and the raw forces of nature. The best writing in the game is often found in a sea shanty or a tragic tale rather than the main plot.

It's hard to play pool without your head.

For fans of compelling first person action games, Dishonored 2 is a must-by. The level design is perhaps the best the Critic's ever seen; in particular, the Clockwork Mansion and A Crack in the Slab missions come to mind. The former features a revolving maze of rooms that can be switched with pull of a lever, though the real challenge is utilizing the hidden workings of the place to surprise guards and stay out of sight. The latter gives you a device called the Timepiece which lets you navigate a ruined mansion, switching between its vibrant past and its dilapidated future, with your actions in the past changing what happens in the future. Dishonored 2's levels always feel organic, like real places. There isn't the contrived conveniently-placed ventshaft for one to find like in other games (Deus Ex comes to mind). The gameworld is the real star, and how you navigate it will determine your level of entertainment. Now the Critic must get back to doing fancy Critic-stuff that you wouldn't understand. Until next time, gentle reader.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Writer's Block: Heart of the Thief Chapter Nine

I haven't posted anything from The Heart of the Thief in a long while (here are some previous chapters), so I thought I'd share Chapter Nine, which might not make it past the editing process, if that day ever comes. I do think it functions well as a stand alone story. Excuse any formatting errors: blogger hates preserving pasted formatting. Without further ado:

Chapter Nine
They reached the town of Dunfermline in a week’s time. Built around the ruins of an old fortress constructed ages ago on a hillside overlooking the veldt, the village was otherwise composed of shoddy dwellings pieced together with mud, thatch, and what little timber one could find in the Agmarian Plain. The inhabitants were pale-skinned, filthy people who appeared gaunt and malnourished, and who seemed to lack industry; indeed, Fergal theorized that their only occupation was huddling in alcoves to stare menacingly at newcomers. “I know something about this town, but for the life of me, I cannot remember it,” he said as they walked the thoroughfare searching for a tavern to rest their wearied feet. “It’s like something out of dream, though I admit that I have trouble separating delusion from reality.” No one replied to his admission, for they had all been in a sombre mood since the encounter with the wraith. Josun had spoken but a handful of words after regaining conscience, his experience having caused his withdrawal into himself. Fergal had attempted to engage the taciturn barbarian in conversation many times only to be rebuffed again and again. Josun had no desire to ask for help with the psychological scars of whatever it was he was dealing with, unlike the Aiv, who had broken down in tears after sharing his horror with Cassilda, who lent a surprising sympathetic ear. The Thief remained much the same, his temperament cynical and ugly, though he had kept his remarks to a minimum as of late. The fragility of their company was obvious to all, yet the sorceress prodded them along, and they followed, quietly feeding off of the presence of one another, unaware of their silent dependence.

They finally found a poorly-marked tavern, the only indication of its function as a bar a crudely illustrated sign featuring an amorphous wench balancing a tankard on her deformed bosom. Through the windows one could see a faint yellow glow and hear the mixed chatter of men, and despite the general unease they felt, by all appearances the place seemed normal, so they entered. Immediately, all conversation ceased; they were greeted by leering eyes and contorted expressions plain in their unfriendliness. Alongside the far wall sat several disheveled men, their hairy hands on their mugs, which were half-full of a dark, blood-colored liquid. “Howdy,” said the Thief as they moved together to the bar. The patrons collectively grimaced; all were ugly, their faces pockmarked, noses bulbous and red like swelled ticks. Fergal kicked the Thief in the shin as Josun waved toward the barkeep, a tall, skeletal man with only a few long strands of hair hanging from the center of his bald head. “A round of ale, sir,” said the barbarian, removing a few sovereigns from his coin purse and placing them on the bar. Cassilda shook her head but Josun did not remove any money. The barkeep swept up their gold in one large mitt and stared at it for some time, as though he didn’t recognize its purpose, before finally placing the money in an empty jar. Coming to life, he placed four tankards filled with claret-colored fluid before them and then shuffled toward the other end of the bar, where he began polishing glasses with an obsessive fervor. The company examined their drinks suspiciously. Fergal gave his a good sniff before picking up the mug with two hands and quaffing half of it down. The others stared at him, waiting to see if he would turn green or keel over clutching his stomach, but the Aiv took another hearty gulp to no discernible ill-effect, which gave them enough courage to partake from their own glasses.

“This is not ale,” said Josun, sipping his tankard.

“It is likely poison or some foul concoction,” whispered the sorceress. “There is something queer about these locals. I do not trust them.”

“And we do not trust you,” said the Thief. “This is not ale but a peculiar type of wine, similar in some respects to Cabernet Sauvignon from the Okanagan Valley. High tannins and notable acidity. Pretty good, actually.”

“To think he gave me a pint of it. I should be quite drunk in a minute,” said Fergal.

“Who serves wine in a tankard? Why give us wine when we asked for ale?” asked Cassilda.

“Perhaps they do not speak the common tongue,” said Josun.

“That’s it. Surely this place provides food and lodging. I will sleep in a bed tonight, mark my words,” said the Thief.

“How can you suggest such a thing while they glower at us?” whispered Cassilda. “We should move on and put distance between ourselves and this place before nightfall.”

“And you chide me for my supposed suspicions. We need rest and sleep, witch, peaceful sleep without the fear of beast or phantom rudely interrupting our slumbers. So these people are not friendly. Look at us: a scarred black man; a hulking, armed brute; a dwarf with a giant head and bug-eyes; and an impossibly beautiful woman. We’re a motley crew, to be sure, and these people, with their limited notions and prejudiced views regarding outsiders, likely see us as a carnival troupe. They can stare as long as they want if it means I get a bed and a decent night’s sleep,” said the Thief. “If they want to throw us out of town, so be it, but I’ll wait till they ask rather than assuming I’m not wanted. They served us wine when we asked for ale. How is that a bad thing?”

“It’s not what we asked for,” said Cassilda.

“The wine really is quite delicious. You should try it” said Fergal, pointing to her glass. The sorceress grimaced and sat down on a stool. She was tired, as they all were. At a certain point, protest became impossible, even when the circumstance demanded it, and Cassilda consoled herself with the thought that if anything malicious were to occur, she at least had her powers to defend them. The wine, however, did not look appetizing, and as a general rule, she never imbibed anything from a place where she was not wanted. When Fergal’s hand reached up and seized her tankard, she said nothing. Let the little fool drink himself senseless she thought. Perhaps drunkenness will lead to solemnity and silence.

Drunkenness did not lead to solemnity and silence.

The loosening of inhibitions happened rather quickly and all at once, which didn’t make much sense, since Fergal was much smaller than the Thief, who had an alcoholic’s tolerance, and Josun was larger than both of them, and he was no teetotaler, barbarians being overly fond of intoxicating beverages. Together they became quite boisterous, Fergal talking a mile a minute, the Thief interrupting to tell stories of conquests both amorous and material, Josun grunting, slapping their backs heartily, and even cracking a smile from time to time. They were in stark contrast to the rest of the room, which began thinning out as the denizens of Dunfermline skulked off to their homes. Through their revelry, Cassilda sat silent, watching the villagers watch the company, observing the way they carried themselves, how they dragged their feet, how they craned their necks and scowled their faces as they walked out the door. There was something hiding under their exterior, something strange and shy and suspicious, something more than just provincial mistrust of outsiders. Not one of the locals had approached the company to engage them in conversation; not one had even asked them to keep their voices down, despite the shrill, piercing laughter of Fergal or the loud ramblings of the Thief. Certainly not one of them had ever seen anything like Fergal before—so why were they not curious? She knew from experience that entering a bar was always a hazard, for men propositioned her without fail, no matter how many enchantments or wards she cast to prevent them from doing so. Where were her suitors? Was Dunfermline a town of eunuchs? She then realized that she had not seen a woman in the village. Perhaps they shut their women away like prisoners in a dungeon. The practice was not altogether uncommon in rural villages. Let us see what the bartender knows. Telepathy was always a risk in a new environment—to read someone’s mind without them being aware of it, you had to know them well, or at least be familiar with their personality—but she was bothered enough by the villagers’ behavior to take that risk. She gave the bartender as sideways glance and noticed that he was scowling at her companions, hands dangling at his sides like meat hooks. Focusing her energy, she sent a single, concentrated thought-wave at his skull as a sort of echo-request packet, a low-intensity probe to communicate with his subconscious mind. Ideally, his subconscious would return the thought-wave, opening the doors to a telepathic exchange. She would ask questions and the subconscious would provide answers in the form of words, images, perhaps even memories, although the more one requested, the greater the chance of the subject becoming aware that something was not quiet right in their head. On occasion, the subconscious mind was not communicative, either due to protective barriers enacted by a fellow magic user, or a natural resistance to mental probing. In any case, it was unlikely that a simple thought-wave would be detected even by a wizard, since the subconscious was just that—subconscious.

Out of the corner of her eye, Cassilda watched as the bartender turned his scowl her way. Immediately she felt the intensity of his gaze—an uncomfortable feeling, as though she knew something terrible was hovering over her shoulder, caused her flesh to crawl—and she had to struggle to not leap from her seat and leave the horrid bar. She glanced at her companions, who were still laughing and drinking from never-ending cups, and wondered how they could be so oblivious. They’ve drugged the wine she realized. Something had to be done, quickly, before whatever the villagers were planning could come to pass. She could attempt to take control of the minds of her companions, yet four minds were too many, and they would never trust her again, and she would have to take the Heart by force. A spell of persuasion, then. Subtle, delicate magics had never been her strong suit—she preferred hard-hitting displays of raw power, as any electrician would—but there was no other option, other than to electrocute the bartender and his denizens, and that was a step she was not yet ready to take.

“Josun,” she said, placing her hand on the barbarian’s shoulder. “Let us leave this place.”

“But you haven’t had a drop!” said Fergal, spilling wine all over himself in the process of offering his glass.

“I think they’ve put something in the wine. There is a camaraderie between you all that did not exist an hour ago, and I think it strange that you all are so blind to the malevolent feelings directed at us.”

“Again with your suspicions! Are you jealous of us, witch? Drink with us, and I will forgive you,” said the Thief.

It’s not working. Either the effects of the wine are too strong, or someone is opposing my efforts thought Cassilda.

“She is right. The time for revelry has passed. We should find a place to sleep,” said Josun, putting down his tankard.

“Barkeep! Are there rooms upstairs? What is your rate for a night?” yelled the Thief down the bar.

The man, who had never taken his eyes off of Cassilda since she had tried to read his mind, approached at a dead man’s pace. He’s like a walking corpse realized the sorceress. The lank strand of hair, the unhealthy pallor, the rigor mortis step—he was like something out a necromancer’s laboratory, yet the eyes were vivid and alive. They did not blink, however, as he stared at the Thief, who repeated his questions at the same loud volume. For a moment Cassilda thought he would actually answer; the hairs on the back of her neck bristled in horrible anticipation of seeing those purple, worm-colored lips move. Yet instead of speaking, the bartender pointed behind him toward a doorway where a set of stairs was visible.

“The rate?” asked the Thief, impatience clear in his voice. The barkeep kept glowering at Cassilda, who returned his stare calmly, despite the waves churning in her stomach.

“Perhaps after four drinks, room and board are free?” suggested Fergal. “Is that a human custom?”

“Not anywhere that I know of,” said the Thief. “Let’s go check it out.”

They walked up the stairs to find a common room furnished with eight beds that looked ancient and dust-covered, their sheets yellowed with age and neglect. A simple nightstand sat by the wall in between the middle beds, a single candle casting a weak, flickering light. The air was stale, so Cassilda opened a window, which let in the humidity along with the faintest of breezes. No one complained; everyone but the sorceress claimed a bed and laid down immediately, weariness and drunkenness overtaking them. I’ll cast a circle of protection thought Cassilda, leaning against the window and staring at the doorway. She could hear nothing downstairs. For all she knew, everything and everyone down there had ceased to exist as soon as they had left the bar. She found no comfort in this thought.

When Fergal awoke, he knew he was in a dream. There was a black film covering everything, and an orange, sun-lit glow came from the window, while the smell of ambergris inexplicably floated in the air. He breathed out and watched as bits of gray ash rose to the ceiling. His companions were still sleeping in their beds, yet Cassilda was missing, though he could hear someone walking about, their invisible feet creaking floorboards. The sense of something watching came over him suddenly like a cold breeze on the back of the neck. Dread swelled up in his throat; he turned behind him to see a shadow standing against the wall, human-sized, its face a churning vortex of darkness. A thought came from the ether, freezing, blind, and barren. He didn’t know what it meant; he wasn’t even sure if the shadow was trying to communicate with him. Stumbling out of the bed, he ran to Josun and tried shaking the barbarian awake to no avail. “Thief!” he called out, the word sounding weak and strange. As soon as he spoke, he felt the shadow’s attention, felt it call out in its prehensile manner. A thought, this one almost intelligible, reverberated through his mind. It wanted them to leave, that much was plain. Detaching itself from the wall, the shadow extended an impossibly long arm toward Fergal, a low drone emitting from the swirling vortex. Another thought came into his head. It wanted him to run. It wanted him to run so that it could have the pleasure of chasing him.

Fergal ran.

The stairs he descended were not the stairs he climbed earlier. They were dark and twisting and covered in a strange black vine that expanded and contracted in a respiratory manner. He barely touched them as he flew down the tunnel, moving as fast as his feet would carry him. This is not real he told himself, yet he wasn’t certain that he believed his own words. He could feel the steps beneath his feet; he could smell the saccharine scent of the place, taste the ash on his tongue. Perception was often preserved to some degree in dreams, but he’d never had a nightmare quite like this, in which his senses confirmed every image he witnessed. He could recall nothing relevant from his memory that might aid his present circumstances, though it was possible that he’d stumbled into a similar situation in the past and simply forgotten about it. His recollection had never been that great, and it hadn’t helped that he’d lived for so long in the Great Woods instead of wandering as he had in his youth. The world has changed and so it had, but just how, exactly, Fergal had trouble articulating. For so long his world had been composed of giant oaks and green thicket. All the years meant nothing when so many of them were the same.

What had been the bar was now a dark cavern of writhing black vines and giant mushroom-like growths. White toadstools sprouted from the cave floor, billowing in an invisible wind. He took cover beneath one of the massive fungi and waited. Behind him was presumably the exit—a doorway glowing with bright orange light. Yet Fergal did not rush through the portal, for instinct made him wary. He decided to do what he had always done in dangerous circumstances, which was to become quiet, observant, and infinitely patient. Soon the shadow appeared at the bottom of the stairs. As it glided through the cavern, he saw that it seemed to have a corporeal body beneath the immaterial coating that swirled around it like a swarm of insects. On his belt was his blade. Would a dream knife kill a dream monster? He did not yearn to find out. The shadow moved slowly as though it were listening for any movement, though its head stayed static. Little black puddles like droplets of oil were left in its wake. With much care and dexterity, Fergal turned his body toward the closest fungus and waited till the shadow passed. It can’t see he realized suddenly. What brought about this epiphany, he did not know, but he trusted it implicitly, for he’d had such instantaneous insights before. Moving silently, he made his way back towards the stairs. If the orange doorway was the way out, he couldn’t leave his comrades. Cassilda had been right—there was some element to the wine that facilitated their being in this dream world, if it really was that. Perhaps they had crossed dimensional barriers and emerged in another universe, one with its own elements and sentient inhabitants. If they brought us here, they want to use us for some purpose. Maybe they want to use our bodies to traverse our world he concluded. Up the stairs he went, ignoring the breathing black vines that slithered along the walls, his mind bent on its purpose, fear buried in his chest along with any shreds of doubt. The wraith had been a failure of control, and Fergal was not one to forget such a lapse. You don’t live several hundred years without learning to empty yourself of anxiety he mused. Though he did not understand what had happened to them, he knew that dwelling on the horror of the situation would not be beneficial. He hoped his companions would view circumstances in a similar light.

Josun and the Thief were lying in bed just as he had left them. He went to the barbarian first, gathered the man’s giant hand in his own and gave it several squeezes, to no discernible effect. After several pulls of his arm and multiple blows to the face, Fergal acquiesced to the realization that there was no waking Josun. He then devoted his efforts to aiding the Thief in regaining consciousness, but met with the same results. Why did I awake while they remain sleeping he wondered. Differences between the physiology of my people and humans? He didn’t have much time to contemplate, for the shadow appeared once again, the swirling vortex pointed in his direction, a buzzing drone cutting through the air like the hum of an angry hive. A thought coursed through his head, its message like a hammer to his head. It wanted him to give up now; the chase had been monotonous, and it really would like to get on with its business. Fergal did not know what to do. He could try to sneak past it again, but he would be abandoning his companions, and though he did not particularly hold them in high regard, common decency and etiquette prevented his fleeing without them. The Heart suddenly appeared in his mind’s eye. He reached into the Thief’s jacket and found it. It was warm like a small animal in his hands; its pulsating beat as comforting as the ticking of an old timepiece. Ok Fergal, now what? It was obvious that the thing had powers beyond its cultural significance, but he was no sorcerer and consequently had no idea how to use it. Holding it before him like a fetish, Fergal was about to start mumbling gibberish and praying to Rankar when he saw that the shadow had taken notice of the Heart and was now heading straight for him. “I want this to end,” he said, staring down at the twitching organ. “I want us to leave this place.” How had he learned nothing of magic during all of his years? It did not seem possible. The shadow stretched out its hooks and sent another thought his way, the emotion behind it recognizable as greed. A cloud of insectile noise filled the air; Fergal had the sense that other shadow creatures had been alerted to his presence and were now coming to give assistance. Yet clutching the Heart and staring at it like the lost possession of a lover, he found that his fear vanished. It wanted to help him, he could feel it, he could sense the reflection of his own desires in its every throb, in its every binary beat. Automatically, he placed the Heart in his shirt and reached for his companions. As soon as he grasped their hands, he felt the world falling away, as though someone were dragging him out of semi-consciousness and back to the land of the living. Every dream is a death he heard someone say. It was the only thing he did not remember.

Cassilda was very grateful for having cast a protective ward around the room, for when she awakened, having nodded off while standing guard (finer control over one’s subconscious being a perk of sorcery), she found a crowd huddled in the doorway, staring at her with dead eyes and sagging faces. Surely they are reanimated corpses she concluded, for they continued to try to enter the room even after she disintegrated four of their number with a volley of lightning. More and more of them pushed into the doorway; she felt the strength of the ward sag beneath the sheer weight of bodies pressed against it. She yelled at her companions, but they did not stir, confirming her worst fears regarding the wine. I can’t keep this up forever the sorceress thought after casting another million volts at the seething mob. Every discharge took something from her, exhausting future reserves, and unless the sleeping trio leapt to her defense soon, she would either lose consciousness or be reduced to shooting sparks from her fingertips like a petty conjuror performing for a street crowd. Racking her brain for sleeping curse remedies, she came up with nothing that she could put together without a laboratory and an alchemist. She was just beginning to feel lightheaded when Fergal flung himself out of bed like a man on fire.

“Thank heavens! I thought it had me! Why does it smell like something is burning?” he asked. She pointed him in the direction of the doorway and the Aiv was taken aback.

“It’s the Heart,” he explained, reaching into his shirt and bringing forth the relic, much to the surprise of both of them. “They know we have it and they want it, for Rankar knows what reason.”

“Why don’t you try waking the more martial members of our company before I collapse with a bloody nose and the world’s worst headache?” asked Cassilda.

“Barbarian, awake! It is time to do battle!” yelled Fergal, who felt as though he were experiencing deja vu as he prodded the sleeping man.

“Why is the whore’s spawn talking so loud?” complained the Thief, rubbing his eyes. “Hangovers must be slept off and not rudely interrupted.”

“Arm yourself, we are being attacked!” shouted Fergal hysterically.

“Attacked by what?” asked the Thief, blinking and turning toward the direction of the doorway.
“The possessed people of the town! They wish to take our bodies and steal the Heart!”

Josun suddenly sat up in bed and clutched his head. He let out a moan before collapsing back down like a felled tree.

“Come and help me wake the barbarian, Thief! He can likely deal with the lot of them if he’s anything like the rest of his kinsmen,” said Fergal.

“The ward won’t hold them for much longer, and I’m spent,” said Cassilda, falling to the floor. She was breathing heavily with her eyes closed, and a trickle of blood dripped from her nostrils. The horde congregating in the doorway had begun a terrible moaning, their vocal chords dry and guttural from disuse.

“Get up, you bastard,” said the Thief to Josun, seizing his shoulder and rolling him out of bed. The barbarian landed on his face and immediately began to yell obscenities, including several choice slurs regarding the Thief’s mother, a few of which he had never heard before. Fergal tried to aid his getting to his feet, but Josun shoved him away and swayed back and forth on his hands and knees for a moment, as though he were trying to summon up the will to stand. Suddenly they heard a deafening explosion, and the townspeople streamed through the doorway, stumbling over one another, feet dragging on the floor. One took Fergal by the arm and tried to tear the shirt from his back, but the Aiv twisted out of its grasp and scurried beneath a bed. The Thief had his knife out and soon stabbed a man clutching a rolling pin in the throat, but the former baker kept coming, even after suffering further lacerations. Cassilda managed to knock several of the townspeople off their feet with telekinetic blasts before her eyes rolled up toward her skull and she lost consciousness. It wasn’t until Josun obtained his ax that the company’s fortunes reversed. Drawling the prized weapon from beneath his bed, the barbarian began his assault by screaming incoherently, his eyes wide, wild, and streaked with red, spittle flying from his lips like rain pouring from a storm. He took the closest man’s head off with one fell swoop, and soon extremities were soaring through the air as though they possessed a life of their own. Fergal had an entire arm land right in front of his hiding place with a sicking thud, blood squirting out of the shoulder joint, painting his face red. Two strapping farmhands held the Thief down until Josun’s blade cleaved through their necks and sent both heads tumbling like stones across the uneven floor. The townspeople realized their tactical error too late; they might have had a chance to overwhelm the barbarian before he had reduced their number by half. Ten unarmed men, no matter their dispositions, stood no chance against Josun in the midst of a berserker frenzy. Fergal and the Thief watched in amazement as he dispatched the remaining townspeople with a series of florid movements. “It’s sort of like a dance,” said Fergal, having crawled out from his hiding place. The Thief nodded numbly. He had not imagined Josun of being capable of moving with such speed, nor had he thought him capable of sowing such carnage in such a small amount of time. It was disconcerting, to say the least.

They approached him like a wild beast, giving a wide berth, hands held up to show no arms. He lay in the center of the room, surrounded by the dismembered bodies of the slain, panting hard and covered in blood, his ax surrendered and resting a few feet away. The rage, they could see, was subsiding. They didn’t know what to say, so he spoke first.

“It is all right. I am myself again,” he said, picking up his ax and wiping the blood from its blade on a dispatched villager.

“You’re an animal,” said the Thief.

“We’re all animals,” responded the barbarian. He pointed to Cassilda lying in the corner. “How is the witch?”

“Unconscious, but still breathing,” said Fergal, who had hobbled over to Cassilda and was checking her pulse. “I do not think she is well. She feels feverish, and blood still leaks from her nose. She must have overexerted herself in our defense.”

The Thief snorted at Fergal’s comment, but remained silent.

“Well one of you must carry her. I am not able, and we cannot tarry here much longer. The whole of Dunfermline is most certainly under the control of these creatures. There are likely more lying in wait, and they will not take kindly to the slaughter of their kin,” said Fergal.

“I will carry her,” volunteered Josun.

“No, it must be the Thief, for you can defend us,” said Fergal. The Thief had a remark on his tongue, but he lost it suddenly as he walked over to the sorceress. Even with blood dripping from her nose, she was beautiful, her hair auburn, her oval face perfectly symmetrical. He had seen her wear many faces, but this was his favorite, the face of the courtesan, mad and shimmering with beauty like a sea-blown sky threatening to darken. It’s an illusion he thought as he bent down to take her in his arms. She was lighter than he expected, and he found himself wondered odd things, such as whether sorceresses had hollow bones like birds. The resentment, the jealousy, the fear, it all vanished as he carried her down the stairs. I wanted to murder her a week ago he thought. It had to be enchantment—perhaps any man who touched her became so bewildered—but the thought was banished in an instant, for he found that he didn’t care.

They left Dunfermline a lifeless place. The creatures that had possessed its inhabitants fled after Josun’s massacre, for they found freshly abandoned corpses in the street. Fergal wondered out loud how the possessions had started, hypothesizing that a portal had been opened by some naive sorcerer, inadvertently giving the shadow things access to another world. The Thief suggested that maybe Dunfermline had always been possessed and had always existed as an illusion on the outskirts of the wilderness, sustained by weary travelers such as themselves. Josun thought that it didn’t matter. The world was chaotic and nonsensical, and the strange fate of the townspeople did not demand an answer. No one asked the sorceress what she thought, for she remained sleeping, and they let her rest, making camp some distance from the village. They slept in the cold air, open to the elements, with the noises of the night echoing all around them. It was the best sleep they ever had.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Weightlifting: A Simple Squat Program

I had to post this ridiculous picture because it was one of the first results of a google image search. I sure hope this large-chested lady is able to get out of the hole with 60 lbs.

I'd like to share a very simple squat program that I've been using. I recently hit a fifteen pound PR with my low bar squat (old max=340 for 5 reps; new max=355 for 5 reps) utilizing this program for a little over a month. It doesn't have a lot of volume, but we're assuming that you're deadlifting for a decent amount of volume, as well as adding occasional lower body assistance exercises (power cleans, hip swings, leg curls, single leg squats) as needed. Without further ado:

Assuming a 415 one rep max

Day One: Five sets of five

135*5 (roughly 30 percent of one rep max)
225*5 (roughly 50 percent)
275*5 (around 65 percent)
295*5 (about 70 percent)
Add belt
315*5 (75 percent)

Day Two:

Add belt
355 (85 percent)
Take 30 to 40 lbs off and perform a back off set if you feel like it.

For the first day, add 10 lbs every week to the last set only. Do the same for the last set of day two. The warm up sets stay the same. Continue to add weight until you hit a ten lbs PR for five reps. Then start the cycle over again, but do doubles for day two instead of singles.

When to start a cycle over? You'll know. If the weights have been grinders for two weeks, and you feel like you're not going to be able to add weight, then it's time for a deload. For the above example, start your next cycle with 325 lbs instead of 315. Your aim is to always be increasing the weights with which you start a cycle.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Writer's Block: The Baby

Wide-eyed youth

Smashing keyboards

Peeling off paint

With steel-tipped fingers.

When something is found,

It is tasted, tried, tested

Tooth and nail.

What cannot bend will break

Just as surely as your tranquil mood.

What is there left to give?

What have you not annihilated

By strength of hand and will?

The implacable patience,

The studious study of things,

The curiosity which brims and spills

Like goo oozing from thy lips.

I fear the day

When your legs carry you past my grasp,

When you venture out to conquer

All that you meet.

May you show them more mercy

Than you showed my stratocaster.

God's speed, little beast.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

How Dumb Do You Have to Be to Think the World Is Flat?

So Shaq believes that the world is flat. How dumb do you have to be to believe the world is flat? Pointless Venture will tell you exactly how dumb. If you think the world is flat, then he following statements are most certainly true about you.

You think Dumb and Dumber was based on your life.

You have an irrational fear of numbers, based on your difficulties with mental math.

Your proudest achievement was not shitting your pants after riding a roller coaster at King's Island.

The only book you've ever finished was The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Whenever anyone flips a light switch, you stare in amazement at the ceiling and praise the gods.

When you fart, you turn around in befuddlement and stare at your ass, wondering where that sound came from.

You forbade your children from reading Harry Potter because it involves sorcery.

Money is the most important thing in your life, provided there's something else to eat.

When your computer crashes, you pick it up and shake it, telling it to "straighten up."

You often wonder if there are worms in your brains.

You believe that Jesus rode a Triceratops and that it was the coolest thing ever.

You've been to a Nickelback concert at least twice.

You've sent a Nigerian Prince money because every email is true.

In the last Presidential Election, you either wrote in "Herbert Mountain Dew Camacho" or you voted for Trump.

You believe in aliens, voodoo economics, or bigfoot.

Brown is your favorite color.

You once drank a bottle of cologne after running out of alcohol and/or paint thinner.

The person you most admire in the world is Steve Harvey.

Your favorite movie is whatever is currently playing at the local cinema.

People call you "Stinks," or "Tiny Brains."

You think that Halo invented the first person shooter genre.

You've seen the movie Shazam! and/or starred in it.

Your name is Shaquille.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Weightlifting: Embracing the Inner Bro--Building a Bigger Bench Press

Bench and curls every workout, bro.

I've always hated the bench. I'd much rather squat or power clean or even deadlift than lie down on a bench and work my chesticles. Last year I hardly benched at all, focusing instead on the military press as my main upper body lift (benching also hurt my right shoulder, which has some sort of chronic issue). However, after spending over two months working my military press damn near every day of the week, I finally said "screw it" and decided to take some time away from the lift. After all, all that pressing hadn't really added up to much. Sure, I hit a few rep PRs, but I was unable to raise my max beyond 190 lbs. So I decided to try the bench press again, and lo and behold, I was able to press without much shoulder pain. After tweaking my form, pressing felt fine, and I was transformed almost instantly into a bro. Who wants to suck at the one exercise everyone does? When someone asks if I lift weights, their next question is inevitably "How much do you bench?" Which answer is worse: "I don't" or "290 lbs?"

The most success I ever had at increasing my bench was performing a workout by the late, great Anthony Ditillo (link). It's a three time a week routine, but the amount of volume contained in each workout demands more time than I have. I usually only have about fifteen to twenty minutes to workout, so I tend to workout every day. Taking inspiration from the Ditillo workout and Bulgarian routines, I've started benching five times a week. I'll warm up with three sets (135 for 5, 185 for 3, 205 for 2) and then perform three more sets, varying my rep range depending on how I feel, then maybe add a back off set. Twice a week, I'll max to a heavy single. I vary my grip between close grip (pinky on power ring) to competition grip (index finger on power ring) from workout to workout. Below are my workouts from last week:

Sunday: Warm up, 225 paused, 245 paused, 255, 275, 225 for 5.
Monday: Close grip 135*5, 185*5, 205*10
Tuesday: Warm up, 245*3*3
Thursday: Close grip, warm up, 225*5, 205*5, 195*8
Friday: Warm up, 240 paused, 250 paused, 260 paused, 215 for 5 paused.

Each week I'll try to increase my weights, though each workout is determined by how I feel. This type of self-regulating training is a different approach than your typical set program, but it leaves room for bad days as well as good ones. As far as assistance work goes, I usually do light biceps and triceps workouts twice a week after benching (3 sets of 12 reps of curls and pressdowns), as well as some sort of upper back work (rows, pulldowns) and shoulder work (side laterals, DB presses) once a week. So there's the plan, we'll see how well it works.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Diary of Mitch R. Singer

Wasting some time at the Ministry of Truth
The line stretches for hundreds of yards. People, all sorts of people, stand and wait for their turn. Hotdogs stuffed into security uniforms patrol the lobby, their eyes full of suspicion and low-intelligence. I stand with the rest and test my patience. It pays to be patient, said a man who never waited in a government line. Finally I reach the teller. "Present your prospective truth," she says, with about as much emotion as a rock. I show her the question. She looks long and hard at it before finally handing it back to me. "What is this?" she asks. The questions asks "Am I a human being?" "Well," I say, folding the piece of paper and putting it in my pocket. "Is it true?" One of the sausages moves behind me. "You are the arbiters of truth. Surely you must know!" I say. A hand takes me firmly by the shoulder. "Come with me, sir," says the creature. I know the woman behind the desk has the answer. I plead with them as they drag me to the dungeon for questioning. The questions they ask down there, of course, have no answers. When I emerge I will be white, pure, and clean like an immaculate piece of soap. Did you know that you can use fat to make soap? The golden truth is that I do not know anything besides what they tell me, what they approve. Still, I know I will be back with the same piece of paper. It might take months, years, decades. But I will be back.

Watching approved television, alone in my flat
He comes on the screen, orange-skinned, mouth-agape, the strands of his hair defying gravity as though they sense an opportunity to escape. He is impossibly old--it's a miracle, really, what they are able to accomplish using medical science and computer graphics technology. Some say that he is convalescent in a secret nursing home, using his eyelids to communicate. I don't know about that theory. I think he's alive, living out of malice, utilizing his hate and unrelenting narcissism to extend life far beyond what is normal. The world I live in--he created its sun-drenched streets, its interment camps, the smoking ruin where California used to be. When I look at him, I can't tell you what hate means. Perhaps that is his greatest victory.

At a restaurant, trying to enjoy my meal.
I order steak because it's the only thing on the menu. The waiter presents a charbroiled piece of fat and slaps it on my plate like I'm being punished. I am really--you can only call it a steak in the loosest sense of the word. Catsup is the only offered condiment. The steaks only come well-done. My theory is that it's because they never had any blood in them in the first place. I stare at a patch of peeling plaster as I shovel the "meat" into my mouth. "Thank you, Supreme Leader," I say in between every mouthful. I make sure everyone hears me say it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Hanging with the Goon

It looks liek teh crop is gonna be bad wit teh bad wether, folks.

Well peoples, us apple farmers gots some bad news bout teh apple business: bloom is bout to start in March! All of teh warm weather gots teh buds movin liek there Michael Jackson and theres a dance floor full of youngins gyrating about. Speaking of which, I herd taht Milo Younoppolis isn't allowed to speak fer teh President anymore on Bretfart 'cause he might be a diddler, wich we all should've guessed, I guess. Sometimes, when Hernando ain't wit me, on teh weigh to teh farmers markets I listen to NPR and get all teh liberal news from teh ghost of Dianie Reem.I know teh President says it is fake news but he has a fake brain taht is full of worms or so says teh afourmentioed ghost of Dianie Reem. Waht I wanna know is waht is this country comin' to? Used to be we argued bout gas milage and weather or not teh GMO apples are going to give you supracancer or whatever. It is most unfortunate taht teh libtard and conservative branchs of our country are so divided. HOws can wes stand togeter when der is so much hate? I blaem it on teh Cu Cucks Clan, of which Uncle Thom is a member. As a general rule, if Uncle THom is part of somethin', then it ain't no goode. Thom says taht Steven Bannon is teh new Grand Wizard in Chief an he's buttbuddies wit teh President, so tahts why everythin' sucks, or so I am told. I dont know. I just do what I'm told.

I hasn't talked too much bout teh family as of late. Unfortunately, SLack is back in jail fer sellin' a midget too much heron. I guess its worse if its a little person or a child; don't know how taht works, to be honest. They sent 'em to county, which is convienent cuz Willy is tehre too, just a cell block down from 'em. Now I can see both of my kinsmen in one convienent trip! They were tryin to get me to hide drugs in me arsehole, but I told 'em thaht teh GOon is on teh straight an narrow and tehy weren't gonna get me involved in thair hair-brained schemes. Now tehy wont talk to me unless I get up some females fere cogenital visits. I put an aid out on facebooks, but no ones responded, wich is a shame. Some time life only deals you aces, an other times it deals you poo-poo. Ol' Sam talks bout self-reliance and how teh federal government is supporting Welfare Queens and Transexual Transvestites from Transulvania. He gives me teh evil eye whenever I talk bout teh misfortunes of me family. I tell 'em it aint thair fault cuz tehy was born under a bad sign an me maw was under teh impression at teh time taht abortion was illegal, wich it aint, at least not yet. Sam responds taht I am soundin' more an more liek a libtard apologist. Who knows? Maybe I am becomin' a hippe hipster. Maybe it wont be so bad.

I found this photo in Uncle Thom's collection. Taht sure is an ugly woman.

Weightlifting: 600 lbs Challenge: 510 lbs Deadlift

I probably need to tweak my form a bit; you can see me stall right off the floor. I usually don't pull the slack out of the bar. Felt a little dizzy beforehand, which is why I take a knee right after the lift. Drank too much coffee and got a bit too pumped up. Bodyweight staying stable around 195 lbs.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I'm just a Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaire

You realize that I'm just a temporarily embarrassed millionaire, right? This house you see, with the peeling siding and the crumbling foundation, it's not my permanent residence. I'll live in a big mansion one day, complete with a gilded interior and a personal manservant named Gerald. I'll drive a Camaro and crap in a gold toilet with one of those jets that shoots water up your ass. My wife will get a tit upgrade and we'll change our last names to Von Maur or something similarly fancy. Maybe we'll have our own private jet. Maybe not. I don't know if that's realistic.

Why should I care about public schools when Junior is going to be rubbing shoulders with the other rich kids at the Academy for Future Leaders of America or whatever they call it? Why should I give a shit about health care when I'll be jumping in a giant pile of gold like Scrooge McDuck every morning for my daily constitutional? You see, there are winners and losers in life. I'm a winner. At least, I'll be one eventually.

Sure, I'm barely getting paid more than minimum wage right not, but the jobs will come rushing back, especially now that Trump is in the White House. The automobile factories are leaving Mexico and coming to America, along with the coal mines and the steel industry and the textile mills and stuff. That vanished economy will return just as soon as taxes are cut and tariffs enacted. America's gotten a bad deal from the rest of the world. The times, they are a changing. We're making things great again.

Hopefully the Donald won't cut my government benefits, not that I'll need them. Yes, my family can only afford health insurance because of Obamacare, but surely the White House will fight for the needs of real, white, hard working Americans. The wife's currently on disability because of her chronic back pain, yet after we're millionaires, we'll be able to afford the surgery that she needs and she'll lose all that weight and get super-hot again like she was when she was sixteen. I just ask that the Republicans, who I always vote for, wait until we're filthy rich like the rest of them before they gut all of my welfare. Not that we need it, though. We're Americans. We believe in self-reliance and the prosperity gospel. God will surely take care of us. We believe in Him.

It doesn't matter if you're black, Hispanic, gay, transsexual, a woman, dike, or Muslim, because if you work hard, you'll eventually become a millionaire like me (future me, I mean). In fact, if you're any one of those things, you'll have a built-in advantage thanks to the Democrats and the PC police. Thank god for Trump, because finally a straight, white, heterosexual male will be able to get ahead in this world. My millions are waiting. When I find them, I'll see you suckers later.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Weightlifting: The Killer Deadlift Routine

Ed Coan, the greatest deadlifter of all time.

In my quest for a 600 lbs deadlift, I believe I have stumbled upon a fool-proof routine guaranteed to put 100 lbs on your deadlift, provided you're not already pulling over 600 lbs. It's a monthly routine designed around incremental progression--you only try to add 10 lbs to your max every month. Keep in mind, that's 120 lbs in a year, which is more progress than I've made since I started lifting. Here we go:
Assuming a 500 lbs max
Week one: Shock week. I wrote about this workout a little while ago, but here it is again, using percentages, which I never use.
Using 67 % of your 1 rep max, perform ten repetitions. So 335 lbs in this case. Rest 30 seconds, then perform another five reps. Continue until you have performed 30 total repetitions with 335 lbs. This is likely a harder workout than you've ever performed with the deadlift, even with the relatively light weight. It'll improve your conditioning and add muscular mass to your frame, as well as acting as a deload when you start the cycle again. Next month, add 10 lbs.

Week two: Moderately heavy deadlift. We're going to be using at least 80 percent of our one rep max for fifteen repetitions. I don't like doing heavy reps with the deadlift because I don't use straps and my hands get beaten up. So I rest 30 seconds in between heavy singles. Start with 82 percent of your one rep max (410 lbs) and perform 5 singles. Add ten pounds (420) and do 5 more singles. Add ten more pounds (430), perform a single, then continuing adding five pounds until you've done four more singles (so 435, 440, 445, 450). Rest around one minute in between sets. I try to do this workout without a lifting belt for added challenge.

Week three: Heavy deadlift. We're going to reduce the volume to 10 reps with 80 percent, but we're pulling doubles now, not singles. You can add a belt if you wish. Start with 410 for 2, then 430 for 2, then add 10 lbs (440 for 2). Add ten lbs for the remaining two sets (450 for 2, 460 for 2). Try to keep your rest time in between sets down.

Week four: One rep max attempt. Now it's showtime. Warm up gradually. 135 lbs for 5, 225 for 3, 315 for 2, 405. Pull about fifty or six pounds less than your max attempt (450 lbs). Then pull a new max (510 lbs).

Don't forget your assistance work. Every week, do heavy barbell rows (I usually do triples, pyramiding up in weight). Also do rack pulls at the end of the week (only 5 singles, but make sure they are heavy) and one arm cleans (I clean my 100 lbs dumbbell for 12 reps as a workout finisher). I also do a lot of light power cleans when I do my pressing workouts, as well as squats twice a week. Everything I just mentioned will help improve your deadlift. But if you stick to the above program, I don't see how you can't make substantial gains utilizing that much volume. Make sure to eat plenty and to sleep at least seven hours a night. Don't go crazy with the drinking either.

The great Herman Goerner, probably one of the strongest men to ever have lived.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Let's Wage War on Stupidity

2016 saw stupidity's victory over rational thought. A coddled billionaire with a first-grader's vocabulary and a laundry list worth of evil on his resume defeated a far more qualified opponent using demagoguery, alternative facts, and good old fashioned American racism, not to mention our outdated Electoral system. Just a couple weeks into his term, his Presidency has been disgraced by bigotry, nepotism, and an assault on the very foundations of our democratic society. So what does the future hold for America? Do you see a boot stamping on a human face? Because there's something killing us besides diabetes and 24 hour entertainment. It's the mass prevalence of idiocy among your fellow citizens.

We have always had a little leeway with free speech. You're entitled to your opinion, no matter how irrational it may be. If you want to believe that the whole of geology is a lie, and dinosaurs never existed, well, that's like your prerogative, man. There is a difference, however, between having opinions and waging active war on the truth. This is where we are with the Republican Party in 2017. It is not the party of Barry Goldwater. It's the party of Breitbart News. It's not the party of conservative values. It's the party of white privilege, millionaires, and systemic corruption. It's not even the party of Richard Nixon. It's the party of drooling internet trolls and hate speech.

It's the party of Donald Trump, and everything he represents.

The question is "how much do you care?" When facts become subjective, is there no response by people who care about the actual truth? If we care about the future, what can we do?

The answer is: stop tolerating stupidity.

If someone tells you that global warming is a Chinese conspiracy, let them know they're an idiot. If they act indignant (and they will), tell them that they are part of the problem. If they want to know the truth (they probably won't), then let them know it. Now I'm not saying that you, me, and anyone else listening suddenly become the sole arbiters of the truth. What I'm saying is that we can't afford to tolerate stupidity. We won't survive it. Civil rights won't survive it. The environment won't survive it. The human race won't survive it. Science and rationality are all we have in this world. It's what dragged humanity up from the ashes of ignorance. It is what separates us from the animals. It's what took us from the earth and into the vastness of space. It's the only hope for the future. And what good are science and rationality without observation based data? No one owns the truth. The truth exists independent of you or I. It doesn't matter what Donald Trump says. You know he's an idiot. I know he's a liar. We all know that what he stands for is an embrace of double-speak and double-think.

It is your duty to the future to combat the liars and their lies. That might mean calling your Congressman to voice your opinion. That might mean donating to the ACLU or the Union of Concerned Scientists. That might mean taking part in a rally or contributing to a protest in some capacity.

The next time someone tells you that Evolution is just a theory, tell them they're just a moron. You're probably not going to convert them with rational thought, but it's your job to make sure their braying is lost in a chorus of voices shouting them down. You can't resist without doing something. This is the only way we're going to get through the next four years.

Weightlifting: Emphasizing the "Dead" in Deadlift

Lamar Gant, who deadlifted 661 lbs at 132 lbs, with scoliosis.

At the start of my deadlifting cycle, I have a day where I try to cram as much volume in as possible. The first time I did this, I took 315 lbs, did a set of ten, rested, then did four sets of five with the same weight. Yesterday, I took 335 and did the same thing, only I completed all thirty reps just under eight minutes. By the end of the workout, I was panting and feeling like I'd just run 800 meters as hard as I could. The point of this workout is to condition your body with a shock-blast of volume, which will bust you out of a rut and put slabs of meat on your ass, back, and legs. Every month, add ten pounds. My first set, which is a set of ten, I use conventional form and a hook grip. After that, I switch it up, switching between conventional and sumo using a mixed grip. I don't recommend straps because I think they make you a pussy. Below is the workout laid out so it's easier to understand.

Deadlift 335 for ten reps. Rest thirty seconds.

Deadlift 335 for five reps. Rest thirty seconds.

Sumo deadlift 335 for five reps. Try to rest only thirty seconds.

Deadlift 335 for five reps. Rest just about a minute.
Deadlift 335 for five reps, sumo style. Slump onto the floor like a dead man.
Do this only once a month. You could try it with the squat and it would probably be equally as brutal. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Trump Administration and LOTR

Hey, did you hear that we have a new administration in the White House? From what we've seen already, it seems like Trump and his ilk may be a manifestation of pure evil. Pointless Venture would like to draw parallels between members of the Trump administration and the forces of darkness, so that nerds will know just exactly how evil each respective member is. You're welcome.

Steve Bannon = Grima Wormtongue

Steve Bannon is the slimy weasel whispering malevolence in Trump's ear. A career neo-nazi (excuse me, I mean member of the alt-right) and round the clock alcoholic, Bannon will likely have Donald's ear until his plunging popularity forces a lesser role, like Bootlicker in Chief or Food Taster of the Supreme Leader. Or maybe he'll just take over and stop being the power behind the scenes, I dunno. Perhaps we'll all get lucky, and he'll die of liver cancer or whatever sickness was eating Emperor Palpatine's face, because this dude probably has it.

Kellyann Conway = Shelob

Kellyann is the frazzled old bimbo that Trump sends out to devour the truth just like a giant spider. It is rumored that just like Shelob, she once inhabited a mountain pass and feasted on many a wayward traveler. Definitely has a weakness for hobbit flesh, as well as getting called out as a fucking liar.

Sean Spicer = Mouth of Sauron

Like Kellyann, Sean becomes rather indignant whenever anyone gives him a legitimate question. He is not poisonous, however, as far as we know. Thrown to the media to serve as the Supreme Leader's mouthpiece, he will almost certainly die of a stress-induced heart attack after getting really pissed off about having to answer for the Donald's indiscretions for the one-millionth time. He also apparently eats a lot of gum, so maybe that's why he's so angry. Either that, or he's just fucking retarded (this is Trump's America; I don't have to be PC).

Paul Ryan = Saruman

Professional shitweasel Paul Ryan thinks he has Trump under his thumb, just like Saruman thought he had Sauron fooled. As long as Paul gets to pass his budget, all is well in the Republic. Every night Paul Ryan falls asleep to lengthy passages from Atlas Shrugged followed by carefully selected excerpts from the Bible, namely the passages that don't mention having sympathy for the poor or having to give up one's wealth in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Paul's version is heavy abridged). Unfortunately for Paul, and fortunately for everyone else, he's probably going to get stabbed by one of Bannon's Nazi goons the minute he offers up any resistance to the Donald. P.S. Paul, lift some fucking weights, you pussy. Your legs look like bamboo stalks, and judging by your arms, I have to doubt the veracity of that 25 lbs notation on your dumbbell. Somebody give this man some HGH and a squat rack so he can kill himself trying to squat two plates.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Weightlifting: 500 lbs Deadlift

The first step in my 600 lbs challenge. Bodyweight was 194, also used a weightlifting belt. Felt pretty easy, though you can see me strain right off the floor.

Alternative Facts

If 2016 was about upending societal norms, 2017 is about formulating new ones. With the Supreme Leader's establishment of so-called "alternative facts," we here at Pointless Venture would like to list some other candidates for Presidential consideration. Hold on to your butts, folks: this shit is about to get real (from a certain point of view).

Potential alt-fact #1) The dinosaurs never existed. Invented by the Chinese to destabilize our Christian nation, dinosaurs are incompatible with modern science, according to 55 percent of the people claiming to be scientists. Anyone who says otherwise is either a commie or an atheist, which are the same thing, if we're being honest.

Potential alt-fact #2) Jesus was white and definitely not Jewish. Did you know that the Jews killed Jesus? If Jesus was a Jew, then why would the Jews murder him? I also heard that Jews eat children and love money more than all things. Basically, they're Ferengi, is what I'm saying. Are you telling me that Jesus was a Ferengi? Blasphemy!

Potential alt-fact #3) America has always been best buddies with Russia. Cold War? That sounds like something L. Ron Hubbard made up! Let me lay down some history for you! The U.S.S.R. helped us defeat the Nazis during World War 2. Does that sound like something bad guys would do? Plus Vladimir Putin is like a man's man and totally nothing like a Bond villain. I know for certain that he doesn't own any white Persians, at least.

Potential alt-fact #4) Two wrongs make a right. Bill Clinton had illicit affairs, so that takes the Supreme Leader off the hook for grabbing pussies. Also there were emails and stuff, which negates most, if not all, of the racist/misogynist/xenophobic/evil shit he said.

Potential alt-fact #5) America is united in its quest to make America Great Again. Everyone voted for Trump. It was a historic election. The biggest of all time. His inauguration made Hitler's look downright embarrassing. There are no dissidents. All those women that were protesting were out of work and fat. Everyone thinks the Supreme Leader's Cabinet picks are terrific. If he says something, then it is true. He's the Supreme Leader, after all.

Potential alt-fact #6) Global warming is a hoax. Listen, I heard that Chinese scientists built a giant mirror up in space to reflect the sun's heat back at America so that we would regulate carbon emissions and stunt our economy. Rising temperatures are caused by that big-ass mirror. That's fake heat, is what I'm saying. It's not real, and neither is global warming. Even if global warming were real (and it isn't) who wouldn't want to live in a desert? Las Vegas is the desert and it's fucking awesome. Let's all live in Vegas.

Potential alt-fact #7) The Republican Party is the party of conservative values and not total, irredeemable evil. Abortion, the gays, guns, and God. Throw some white supremacy in there and call it the alt-right and we have all the ingredients to rally up the base while middle-class wages stagnate, corporate profits surge, people go without health insurance, and women lose the right to control their own bodies. Also, don't forget the deregulation that's sure to destabilize the economy, as well as the abolition of EPA policies designed to keep our planet habitable. Other than the first sentence, all that stuff I just mentioned is liberal propaganda. If you don't love your country and this President, then get the fuck out.

Potential alt-fact #8) "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." Look, I found this book called 1984 and it's a really cool guide to running a country. It's got a lot of great advice and stellar quotes. I think the Supreme Leader should have someone read an abridged version to him.