Friday, June 23, 2017

Writer's Block: Villains

We are villains, all of us

Shuffling around our lairs

Loading the gun again and again

Spinning the cylinder like a child's toy

We aim it any direction

We shoot when we feel like it

If anyone dies, we shrug our shoulders

And spin the cylinder again.

Violence is all we know

A practiced indifference to pain

To its sources and its purpose

A body is something we kick from the streets

A corpse is a piece of meat

Everyone is doomed, after all

We cannot imagine anything better.

Fear is the cloud that hangs from our skies

If we shoot at it, we can keep it away

I am scared as you are scared

We will always be scared

That's why we will all die.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Why Are So Many Babies Full of Snark?

I've noticed a troubling trend. Babies are all full of snark now. It didn't used to be like this. Used to be you could look at a baby and not be worried about what that baby was thinking about you. Those halcyon days are gone, buddy. Welcome to planet Earth.

Babies have had it with your stupid baby talk. They don't like peekaboo; that's so 1960. If a baby is going to wear a onesie, it's going to say something sardonic. "I had boobs for breakfast." "I own you." "Future smartass: just like my daddy." I've seen these statements on baby clothes. There are far worse, but we won't talk about those babies. We might as well reserve a place in federal prison for them. I'm talking about the babies we can still save. I'm talking about the babies that are just following a trend.

Let's face it, babies can't spend money until they're like two or three. So we have to blame the parents somewhat for all the snark. They are the ones buying the snarky clothes. They are the ones putting the 'tude in attitude. I understand, parents, that it can be scary to have a baby. It's a life changing, disruptive event. All of a sudden you have to worry about paint chips and rocky mountain fever and stray tacks. You might want to react and let everyone know that you're not one of those parents, those fools growing fat and slow-witting as they degenerate into middle aged. Your baby is going to share the same cynical view of the world you've had since you turned 13. So you start him or her off early with a snappy t-shirt. Pretty soon baby's entire wardrobe is composed of teenage, shit-head angst. It's like you're trying to raise the next Bevis or Butthead. Who are you helping here, mom and dad? Bevis and Butthead died twenty years ago. The world doesn't need anymore Bevis and Butthead.

Let's go back to dressing babies in sailor outfits or dinosaur suits. Let's save the 'tude for later times, when you have to worry about whether or not your teenage is listening to murdercore/deathhop/grindsaw music. Let them decide to wear snarky clothes. Then there will be plenty of snark remaining for the future cyberpunk-dystopia we seem to be aiming for. Maybe then your grown-ass baby will think twice before buying a Female Body Inspector t-shirt.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Batman and Robin at Dinner

Robin sits down to dinner. The table is huge, and it spans most of the similarly-gigantic room, which is full of suits of armor and gargoyles and other gothic crap that Batman collects. On all four walls enormous televisions blare Fox News. The monstrous visage of Sean Hannity looms above Batman, who glowers fifty feet away. Steak again, thinks Robin, as he watches Batman skewer a piece of rare meat and chew it loudly with his mouth open.

"You're late," says Batman. Robin wonders how Alfred has never said anything about Batman's ridiculously audible mastication.

"I was out," said Robin, picking at the side of beef on his plate. You could feed a lion this steak and it wouldn't be hungry for a week, he thinks.

"You were at one of those goddamn rallies again, weren't you?" says Batman, his voice rising.

"Yes," admits Robin. He doesn't want to have it out again, but he can tell from the empty bottle of Chardonnay that Batman has been drinking, and so a row is inevitable.

"See if Gotham University gets any of my money next year," he says, stuffing a huge chunk of steak into his mouth. "It's become a goddamn liberal haven for commie pinkos and theater majors." Batman does a little gesture with his arms when he says theater majors that Robin interprets as a homosexual stereotype.

"You don't think there's anything wrong with the direction our country is heading?" asks Robin tentatively.

"There's nothing wrong with the United States of America. Name one thing. One goddamn thing," says Batman, spitting some meat on the table.

"The President, for one," says Robin, almost under his breath.

"He was elected by the American people!" screams Batman, pounding his fist on the table.

"He lost the popular vote.." begins Robin.

"If all the goddamn Mexicans hadn't illegally voted, then it wouldn't have been close!" says Batman, throwing the empty bottle of wine across the room. It shatters against a gargoyle statue, breaking off a tip of the wing. "Fuck!" screams Batman. "Alfred! Get in here and sweep this shit up!"

"Congress is about to take healthcare away from 23 million people," says Robin, still level-headed.

"Welfare queens and lazy fuckers who don't want to work!"

"I don't even know how to respond to that," says Robin. "You're a billionaire. An heir to a fortune. You were set for life the second you were born."

"Are you fucking kidding me?" screams Batman, jumping up on the table. He whips out a batarang and hurls it at a suit of armor, causing it to tumble apart. "You think I've had it easy? My parents were murdered in front of my goddamn eyes."

"You really need to see somebody about that," says Robin. "Like a psychiatrist."

"Shrinks are for lesbians and fat kids who masturbate to pterodactyl porn!" babbles Batman. He jumps down from the table and tries to flip it, but it's just too long and heavy.

"I think I'm going to go upstairs," says Robin, getting up from his seat.

"Don't you dare, don't you goddamn dare! Alfred hasn't even brought the fourth course. Where the hell is that old man? Jesus, I need to get myself a Spanish maid."

"Maybe if you offered him a better health plan he'd get that hip fixed," suggests Robin, already leaving the room.

"It's not my responsibility!" yells Batman, who has succeeded in breaking off a piece of the table. He throws it at Robin, but he has vanished, and the projectile bounces harmlessly off the open door. Batman then falls down on the floor in a drunken stupor, where he will remain till morning. Alfred will clean up the mess, as he does every night. He thinks of moving in with his brother in Metropolis, but he doesn't know what Batman will do without him, and he doesn't want that on his conscience.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Republican Excuses for the Coming Nuclear Armageddon

Unable to weather the increasing calls for his impeachment for being involved in an Illuminati/Reptilian/Moonpeople ponzi scheme, President Trump decides that he is a Big Man with a Big Gun, and that gun is nuclear. As a multitude of mushroom clouds blossom over the world's horizon, the GOP's bigwigs step up to the plate to cover for their President. After all, who is going to cut taxes for the Rat King or deprive the wasteland's mutants of affordable health care?

House Speaker Paul Ryan: "You have to remember, the President is new at this. He's new at being President. I think we should all give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps total nuclear annihilation is the right direction for America. I think we should all trust the President."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "The President was elected by the American people, and no matter how many lives are lost in the coming months from radioactive fallout, I think we have to keep that in mind."

Senator John McCain: "This President is a fucking... (unintelligible).. must support Party at all costs... dignity, I left you in a Vietnamese prison camp... Goddamn it, we must support the President. Nothing, I mean, nothing else matters."

Congressman Devin Nunes: "The alleged reports of nuclear sunrises are not corroborated by Fox News, so we must assume that they are pure liberal dishonesty. Trust the Whitehouse, not your eyeballs. Anyone who says otherwise is a partisan hack."

Congressman Lamar Smith: "Americans should get their news directly from the President. If the President himself or a Whitehouse surrogate hasn't told you something in person, then don't believe it."

Senator Lindsey Graham: "Well, I can't say that I support the President's decision to turn the country into a radioactive hellscape, but how are we going to tackle tax reform without the cooperation of President Trump? People forget that there's an agenda we have to push here."

Senator Susan Collins: "Nuclear warfare is absolute unacceptable. This President is not making decisions that are good for the American people. Am I going to do anything about it? That's not a fair question. No comment."

Congressman Jason Chaffetz: "(Fart noise)... (rolling belch)... cannot forget about Hillary's emails... (wet, sloppy fart). Let me ask you something: Where was Obama during all of this? I don't think we can let him off the hook. It is possible that he left the Oval Office in such a condition that the President was forced to nuke America. There will be a congressional investigation, I promise you. They won't get away with this."

Senator Rand Paul: "I think we have to blame poor people, particularly people of color, for the President's decision. If they weren't so poor and so prone to getting themselves thrown in jail, then maybe the President wouldn't have been forced to push the nuclear button. Doesn't that make any sense to anybody? I know it does to me."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Beware the Rat People

Watch out, people. There's a new danger lurking in our streets. Forget about the opioid epidemic. Washington sure has. Bigfoot isn't real, and neither are voodoo economics. But the rat people are. Christ almighty, they are.

There are a lot of stories floating around about the origins of this humanoid-rodent hybrid race. Some say they are a product of government research. Others claim that they come from beyond the stars. I heard an old lady at Walmart ranting about how the rat people rose up out of the earth, bringing with them their rat-dogs and their rat-rats. She was obviously high and probably suffering from years of mental and physical neglect, but I think her hypothesis is worth considering. After all, there are a lot of weird things in the earth.

I went to school with a rat/human hybrid. He was of a generally gregarious disposition, which compensated somewhat for his off-putting appearance. He wasn't terribly intelligent, but that's no mark against him, not in this world. Really, the biggest thing wrong with him was that he was an ardent supporter of the Kentucky Wildcats, despite being from Indiana. That's like being a fucking Yankees fan in Boston. Some sins are forgivable. Others are not.

The rat people are no longer content to lurk in the shadows, however. They have been emboldened by the sea change. A zeitgeist has come to shake our very foundations. There are allegations that the President of the United States himself may be of the rat-human race. Maybe that's the dirt that Russia has on him. I don't know. All I know for sure is that my eyes do not lie. The sons of the father cannot hide their heritage behind executive privilege and ancient malaise. Search your heart. Do these look like human faces?

Congratulations, you killed a leopard, you pieces of shit.

We must not let the proliferation of the rat people continue. Please stop supporting the rat people at the ballot box. Call your congressman, even if he/she is a rat person, and voice your displeasure at the power the rat people have amassed. Let us place them back in the shadows where they belong. There certainly is no place in my America for them.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What is the Best Kind of Monkey?

There's a question that has befuddled your brain for quite some time. You try to sleep, but you just can't stop thinking about it. You can't get anything done at work. Your wife complains about your thousand yard stare. You're forgetting the names of your children, Peter and what's-her-name. Well, it's high time that you found an answer to that question. What is the best kind of monkey? Surely there is a definitive answer.

I mean, we have our basic types of monkey. Big monkeys with long arms and sloping heads. Little monkeys with long tails and round faces. Scary monkeys with sharp teeth and red asses. Then there are the monkeys that speak sign language. Don't forget the monkeys that smell like rotten eggs and baby farts. I don't want to get too scientific here. Those are the basic types of monkeys as I understand it, in layman's terms. We won't get into the mythical monkeys like sasquatches and king kongs. There is no place for them in our discussion, unless we hear something new on the internet, in which case we'll have to reevaluate our argument.

Pros and cons of various types of monkey:

Big monkeys with long arms and sloping heads--There's a lot of hearsay about this kind of monkey. Some says that they don't have what it takes to hang with the big dogs. Others claim that they're too dumb to be the best type of monkey. Supposedly they hide all of their bananas in garbage bags, which is really stupid because everybody knows that bananas spoil quickly when encased in black plastic. Personally, I don't like the looks of them. They are probably the strongest kind of monkey, though, so that's a point in their favor.

Little monkeys with long tails and round faces--These are the type of monkeys that throw poop at you at the zoo. Some would say that's a point against them, but I think it shows personality, which is always prized in an animal. Their tails are prehensile, and they use them to grab beers. You can't have this kind of monkey with a dog, though, for they are mortal enemies. That's a deal breaker for me.

Scary monkeys with sharp teeth and red asses--For all the horror fans out there, these are the scariest monkeys in the world. They will mess you up and use your skull for a cup like Doctor Doom. Their asses are probably the scariest part of them, because you never know if a little head or another monkey might pop out. I like scary movies as much as the next guy, but these guys are too much.

Monkeys that speak sign language--I can't abide a monkey that speaks with its hands. Call me old fashioned, call me what you will. It ain't right. I guess some people like this kind of monkey. Those people are wrong.

Monkeys that smell like rotten eggs and baby farts--You are not supposed to keep this monkey in your house because it will tear up all of your shit and drink your coffee. They are really funny, however. They can also open doors and smoke cigarettes. Mixed on this one.

And the best type of monkey is...

Goddamn it. It's a trick question. Every type of monkey is the worst type of monkey.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Weightlifting: Tweaks to My Hypertrophy Program

The Rock was always awesome, even when he looked like (quote) "A buff lesbian," (end quote).

Now that I've finished my second cycle of the muscle-building program I posted last month (link), I'd like to list the changes I made between the initial and current versions of the program. First, let's post the new version of the program followed by explanations regarding the changes.

Note: Percentages are set to starting value--I lifted heavier than 60 percent during this last cycle. Add an extra set to the following exercises starting on the second week: Close grip bench presses, high bar squat, deadlift, all assistance work. Deload to starting weight on fourth week, utilizing 3 sets of 5-6 reps.

Sunday: Dumbbell bench press 5 sets of 12. Dumbbell rows 4 sets of 10. Dumbbell shoulder presses 4 sets of 8.

Monday: Off.

Tuesday: Deadlift 3 sets of 8. (60 percent of 1 rep max).

Wednesday: Belted low bar squats for 4 sets of 10 (60 percent of 1 rep max). Close grip bench presses (70 percent of 1 rep max) for 4 sets of 8. Curls and pressdowns for 4 sets of 8.

Thursday: Off.

Friday: High incline press 4 sets of 8 (60 percent of 1 rep max). Superset of pulldowns, side laterals, curls, and pressdowns 4 sets of 8.

Saturday: High bar squat 4 sets of 8 (60 percent of 1 rep max).

Change number one: Ditch the heavy bench presses in favor of dumbbell pressing. My program initially had you doing a heavy bench press day with 4 sets of 6 reps using 77 percent of your max. That sort of volume with that high intensity would be fine for a strength program, but during the hypertrophy phase we want to focus on building muscle. I replaced those bench presses with 5 sets 12 reps in the dumbbell bench press. Using dumbbells allows you more freedom in your movements than a barbell, and the lighter weights let you crank up the volume without the corresponding soreness. During my last cycle, I reduced the reps from 12 to 10 to 8 each week, adding ten lbs before deloading.

Change number two: Get rid of lower body assistance work. In the original program, I had you doing pistol squats, dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts, and weighted step ups as assistance work on lower body days. I cut that fluff on my second cycle, mostly because of time constraints, and I continued to progress just fine. The lower body doesn't need the variation that the upper body does. Two squat variations and deadlifts are plenty. If you work out in a nice gym, you could add some sets of leg pressing or hamstring curls. I work out in my dirty basement, so that's not an option.

Change number three: Switch out wide grip bench pressing for the high incline. I hadn't messed around with the incline press since I was a kid, and now I think that was a mistake. The high incline has the benefits of the military press while working the pectorals and being entirely an upper body exercise. I don't bring the bar all the way down to my chest because doing so results in shoulder pain.

In less than two months, my weight has went from 195 to 200 lbs, with most of that being muscle. I think I'll run at least one more hypertrophy microcycle before switching to a strength program, and of course I'll share the results.