murph

Crossfit is Libertarian yoga. It’s a workout. It’s a cult. It has its own traditions. One of those is something called a Hero Workout. They’re named after fallen soldiers and first responders. They’re always grueling.

Many Crossfit gyms in America do a workout called “Murph” on Memorial Day. It’s named in memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. For more of his life story, read this article from BoxLife Magazine.

This is the workout:

Murph 
1-mile run 
100 pull-ups 
200 push-ups 
300 squats 
1-mile run 
Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.

It was designed by Lt. Murph himself. The reason why you’re supposed to wear the vest or the armor is because that’s the way he used to do it. It’s a completely different experience with the added weight. Your hands tear on the bar. The squats go from tedious to terrible. You fail at small sets of pushups. The last mile is crushing because the vest keeps slamming into your chest and your legs are toast from the squats.

pushup
Here I am around pushup 150

If you’re wearing the 20lb vest, a time to shoot for completing the workout is under 60 minutes. I completed it in 53 minutes and 28 seconds. The last time I did this workout was about ten years ago and it took me about an hour and a half. I definitely feel pretty good to be 37 and able to pull off a decent time.

My accomplishment isn’t really much in the grand scheme. UFC fighter and current active duty Army Ranger Tim Kennedy finished it today wearing his full combat kit in 44 minutes flat. In the 2015 Crossfit Games Icelandic athlete Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson finished in a ridiculous time of 38:36.

Tim
I hope Tim Kennedy is our President one day.

The importance of this workout isn’t the toughness of it, it’s the meaning behind it. Almost no one who does this workout ever met the man. Probably no one I know even knows someone he was friends with. He’s an idea. He’s a symbol of what we lose when we send our brothers and sisters to war. Some wars make more sense than others, but the cost of all is high.

As I was doing this workout I tried to keep Lieutenant Michael Murphy in my mind. I thought about his family. I don’t know anything about them, but I know they must miss him. I wondered what they might think of what we did today. As difficult as it is to do this challenge, it is absolutely insignificant in comparison to the pain they must feel to not have him sit with them for dinner or go to a movie.

I must be getting old and soft because on the second mile I thought about him bleeding out in some fucked up desert and it made me tear up. Moments later I passed another member of the gym who was also wearing a vest, we fist bumped. I sped up and finished the last 800m as hard as I could because that’s what I imagine Murph would’ve done.

crossfit
It was a pleasure to do this thing with all of you today.

 

 

eagle

We’re coming up on Memorial Day and the first piece of advice I’d like to offer this week has to do with our nation’s soldiers. Everything we do here in this country from the cowardly to the courageous was made possible by soldiers who were willing to die for the idea that this place could be a shining example for the rest of the world.

You might wish America was Mexico again. You might wish it was fascist Mayberry from coast to coast. No matter where you fall in that spectrum there are men and women, alive and dead, who payed a price for you to hold your absurd, solipsistic beliefs.

My advice is for you to do something on an individual level for someone who is currently serving or is a veteran. You could buy someone coffee at Starbucks. You could anonymously pick up a tab. Marine sticker on a truck at Jiffy Lube? Pay for that shit. If you don’t know any soldiers, break off a little bit from your bankroll and donate to something like Hire Heroes USA, an organization that finds work for vets.

You don’t have to like war. You’re just doing something nice. It’s not political. It’s decent.

Now for your questions.

horror

My Significant Other is not a horror fan, but is interested in giving it a try. What are some good movies to start with? 

Mrs. Lott grew up attractive, so she never got into nerd stuff. A few years ago I decided it was time for her to learn about sci-fi and horror. There was no hope for sci-fi, but she was down with horror.

Go with really funny or really well respected, classic titles first. Things like The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby are just great movies. They’re also period pieces now. Half the fun of watching them is checking out the costumes and the sets.

Evil Dead 2 is fun because it’s funny. Avoid splatter punk stuff that’s just gore for the sake of gore at first.

 

What’s a lesson people learn too late in life?

Money matters and you will need more of it than you think when you’re old. Get out of debt and start saving now. Unless you enjoy the idea of being a government dependent living in poverty.

sid
These kids had no chance and no backup plan. Not all of them made it out alive.

My kid wants to be a musician, what should I do? 

Music is great. Being an aging loser in a shitty band is not. If your kid is interested in music and you have the means, get them lessons or online programs to help them develop their talent. It does great things for children’s brains to learn how to play music.

You’ll know pretty early on if the kid has what it takes to make it. Other than a few freak show acts, you need to be able to play really well to sell albums. Make sure your kid reads the biographies of great musicians so they know what it takes. Great art can’t be made with a safety net. If they decide to go that route, you have to let them crash.

about-clove-and-hoof
Even though I rarely eat animals, these are my favorite restaurant people of all time. 

Where’s the best BBQ in the Bay Area?

There isn’t any. If you want a good sandwich made with meat, go to Clove & Hoof in Oakland. It’s the best.

What movies make men cry? 

There are only two that I can think of two. The Shawshank Redemption and Rudy.

rudy1

nice guys
Wide collars lets you know this is the 70s.

Shane Black, the director of The Nice Guys, wrote one of the best action films of all time, Lethal Weapon. He’s about as close to buddy cop/detective royalty as it gets. A few of his other writing credits include Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Last Action Hero, The Last Boy Scout, and Lethal Weapon 2.

In all of these films, Los Angeles is a major character. The smog filled skies are electric water colors. Everyone’s cars are cool, unless not having a cool car tells you something about the character driving it. There are plenty of revolvers. Blonde women cause trouble. Fake tits glare at you from the open eyed corpses of lost starlets.

muriel
Murielle Telio plays porn star Misty Mountains. She deserves an oscar. 

The Nice Guys has all of these elements, plus a Mad Men level of weapons grade nostalgia. The costumes are excellent. So much so that it gives the entire film a hyper stylized look that dazzles the viewer, but gives each scene a staged feel. Quite a lot of the sets feel a bit too perfect. I’m not sure why this doesn’t happen in a film like Boogie Nights. That world felt more lived in.

I’m not against having period kitsch turned up high. The first half of Spike Lee’s Malcolm X has a similarly high level of vintage saturation and it works well. In Lee’s film, all those zoot suit scenes happen in the past of X’s story, and lend it a dreamy quality.

bath
This image is never explained or justified in the film. 

More than anything, this is a funny movie. It goes for shock without any shame. Deaths get laughs. Violence is cartoonish and explicitly glorified. A few odd dream sequences allow the action to slip into utter surreality. I wouldn’t be surprised if the director was directly inspired by the mayhem of Warner Brothers’ Looney Toons. 

The plot is pretty typical of an LA noir. Alcoholic detectives are in search of a beautiful young woman who has knowledge of a conspiracy that connects the lasciviousness of the street to the cruel decadence of the world’s hidden powers. The detectives are hired by someone who may or may not be involved in the disappearance. There is a film within the film.

big l
I was looking for an image for the porn in The Big Lebowski (Logjammin’) and discovered there’s a porno version of The Big Lebowksi. So meta.

The Nice Guys is referential in the same way a Tarantino film might be, but it doesn’t come clean with the audience in the same way. Tarantino announces his intent with anachronistic music and dialog. Black never breaks the fourth wall. His characters are immersed in their world and obey its rules. There’s a formality to even the most absurd sequences.

Like a Cohen Brothers film, weird minor characters are liberally peppered through the scenes, forcing the main characters to reckon with the strange denizens of LA. The Big Lebowski had The Jesus and Bunny. The Nice Guys has a young kid who is proud of his big dick and a porn star named Misty Mountains.

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Vintage product placement. 

Speaking of kids. The film makes some odd choices about including children in sexual scenes. The previously mentioned young teen boy is trying to get paid to show off his penis (possibly a nod to Boogie Nights?). Ryan Gosling’s character’s daughter is in a scene where she’s watching a porn while sitting next to the woman who is starring in it.

A porno is at the center of the plot, so you expect a certain amount of sexuality, but it’s really dialed up in this film. There are only hot girls in this movie (again, not complaining).

harry
There’s a lot to be said for the women of the 70s. 

I think one of the big problems I have with movies set in the 70s is that I am a huge fan of movies that were made in the 70s. I would argue it might even be the greatest decade for gritty films. What this era had were really great, often pretty ugly or awkward character actors. When Hollywood makes a 70s movie now, it’s only cast with modern and perfect faces. It was a grimy decade. The beauties of the era had huge bushes and big hair. There was no waxing and the oppressive symmetry summoned by plastic surgeons hadn’t been elevated to where it’s at now.

Russel Crowe and Ryan Gosling have pretty good chemistry. Crowe was made to play a Los Angeles enforcer and Gosling is charming enough to pull off what is effectively a modernized Buster Keaton character. He falls, crashes, and slips his way to victory like a silent film star might.

The Nice Guys isn’t the greatest movie of the year, but it’s fun and worth renting when you have the chance. Three and half out of five stars, I guess.

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Ben_Kingsley_Schindlers-list

A few years ago I caught an interview with actor Ben Kingsley where a journalist asked him what memories he tapped into to become “sad” or “angry” in a role. Kingsley became somewhat furious and told him that only an untalented hack would lower himself to such trickery. A true actor, he said, would need only talent.

This always stuck with me. I’m not an actor, but I do write and sometimes I communicate in an emotional style. This is known as ranting. What I picked up from Kingsley is that you don’t need to get yourself in a particular mood to perform in a certain way. You should be crafting the emotion, not channeling the emotion.

burroughs_21
I wonder if wearing a suit like William S. Burroughs would improve my writing?

A few of my recent posts have been on the negative side. A couple people have even asked if I was in a bad mood. Not really. Things have been pretty great for me lately. That said, the idea I want to express are not exactly chill. What I want to get across here is that it’s not necessary to rile yourself up to write angry. You don’t have to be happy to write something positive. No matter what your mood is, you’re in control of the words you choose. Your choices are what make something good or hacky.

I’ve found being in a  strong mood is not a great way to reliably create anything good. You might be able to whip out an inspired rant or two, but long term you’re going to burn yourself out. Plus, you become intolerable to be around (sorry Mrs. Lott).

King at gate
Having a cool place to write is not necessary. This is Stephen King at his place in Maine. 

You don’t even need a special place to write. Stephen King cranked out his first couple of books sitting on a washing machine in the back of his trailer with his typewriter on his lap on a TV tray. Writing isn’t about your mood. It’s about craft. The only way you get better is by reading great work and writing everyday. It’s actually pretty easy. Except when you make it hard by being a lazy turd.

cassidy

I have a juvenile sense of humor and a weirdly conservative, vengeance loving, completely ridiculous outlook on life. When Preacher was being put out, I read every single issue. I loved it and would crack up over and over at the ludicrous ultraviolence and absurdly masculine Southern gothic characters.

It was dumb, loud, funny, sort of philosophical, and referenced a canon I admired: Bill Hicks, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Westerns, Cormac McCarthy, Muscle Cars, Nirvana, and 1970s exploitation films.

A few weeks ago I was reading some comments in a story about the first trailer for the show and one jumped out at me. It said, “I loved this comic, but I grew up.” Fuck that. For better or worse, I’m basically the same as I was since I was a teenager, taste-wise. I picked up a Preacher graphic novel at a used book store recently, flipped through it, and it still made me laugh. I’m pretty much the target audience for this show.

inverted

But I was worried. Hollywood generally fucks up more than it wins. Some critics are concerned about Seth Rogen’s hands being on the wheel. I’m not so worried about that. He’s a real fan of the books and when someone loves the material, they’re going to try n and do their best. What I was most worried about is the casting. After the first episode, my concerns are lessened, but my enthusiasm remains guarded.

The lead role of Jesse Custer is played by Dominic Cooper, an Englishman. I don’t know what the fuck is up with AMC and casting Brits as Southerners. I’ve never seen this guy in anything else, but he’s decent so far.

There was always a bit of a difference in Jesse Custer’s face in the pages and on the cover of the comics. I think Cooper’s look nails the cover art, but for the actual story, I think someone like the dude who played Shane in The Walking Dead and The Punisher in Daredevil would’ve been more to my liking.

Preacher-Covers1
This is pretty good stuff if you ask me.

The cover faces seemed a bit weirder or manic, whereas the pages portrayed Custer as a little more square jawed and with a stronger nose. The people who did the costume nailed it, though. I never saw those goofy metal collar tips in real life, and they look as I thought they might.

Cooper’s accent is ok, I guess. The first episode takes place during a part of the story where Custer is a drunk sad sack. I’m curious if he’ll pull the wreckless, fun loving wildness off.

jesse
This is what I think of when I think of Jesse Custer.

Jesse Custer’s girlfriend, Tulip O’Hare, is played by Ruth Negga. I really like her energy and acting in the role so far. My only real complaint is that she’s not a corn-fed looking Texas blonde.

Now, I’m not freaking out about it like those creeps who hated on Rue in The Hunger Games being black or the army of twats who freaked out over Idris Elba playing James Bond. I didn’t even mind Anthony Hopkins in black face playing Othello (it must be seen to be believed). Tulip’s buxomness and blondness were interesting because she was supposed to sort of look like a Texas bar bimbo, but be super deadly. Who she really was played against what she looked like.

Also, as Rusty James said in S.E. Hinton’s Rumblefish, “I just like blondes. I don’t care how they get that way.” Negga is beautiful, fun to watch, and will probably crush it. My pick would’ve been January Jones if she looked convincing with a pistol or, after seeing the abysmal second season of True Detective, maybe Rachel McAdams.

arseface
This version of Arseface would’ve been way better.

Ian Coletti plays Arseface, a teenage character who tried to kill himself with a shotgun, but survived, majorly disfigured. There’s not much to say about his performance. He mostly just mumbles unintelligibly. The picture above is from an early version of the makeup and is much truer to the comic. His face is supposed to be so disturbing that it causes people to vomit when they see him.

arse
This is Coletti in makeup. Definitely looks like a butt hole.
arsefaces-first-reveal-in-preacher-2.jpg
This is Arseface from the comic.

The character the show absolutely nails is the Irish vampire Cassidy. He’s played by Joe Gilgun, who really delivers on the humor and weirdness portrayed in the comics. I don’t want to spoil the fight scene that introduces him on the show, but it is really funny.

cassidy
This bloodsucker gives zero fucks.

So far, the show seems pretty enjoyable and true to the spirit of the comic. There are some touches that really seem to be Seth Rogen calling cards. The opening scene’s kind of cheesy, nostalgic cheapness reminds me of the opening of Pineapple Express (the one that’s in black & white at the army base). The super fake opening gives the show a stylized four color comic feel reminiscent of HBO’s Tales from the Crypt series.

The plot has already deviated quite a bit from the comic, which I think is probably a good thing. I don’t know how they would’ve portrayed some of the shit that happens in the comic on television.

Anyway, what do you think about the show? Did you read the comic back in the day? I feel like I should pick them up again. It’s been like 20 years since I started reading them. Crazy.

hicks 1

Bill Hicks used to have this bit about how if you watched cable news all day, you’d think the entire world was burning down. Tune in to CNN, he said, and it was nothing but “WAR. FAMINE. DEATH. AIDS. WAR. FAMINE. DEATH. AIDS.” But when you looked outside the door it was all birds chirping and sunshine.

The bit worked because, for most of the people listening to Hicks, life was pretty easy. It was America in the late 80s and early 90s. Things were pretty good here. The most upsetting thing we had to deal with was OJ Simpson’s relationship philosophy and Bill Clinton’s rapey philandering. The cable news stations were just figuring out that fear generated better ratings. It was the beginning of the “if it bleeds, it leads” era of news reporting. Now we are in the “let’s make them bleed so we have a lead” infotainment era.

The thing is, the world really is all about WAR, FAMINE, DEATH, and AIDS. Most of the planet is a festering slum and it got that way by feeding the appetites of the first world.

UNDERPASS WITH RHINO & EGRET
Visions of the apocalypse from Nick Brandt’s Inherit the Dust.

The world as it is seems objectively worse than it was while Hicks was alive. The news barely even reports on the physical manifestations of the Four Horsemen. They’re a given. Now our media performs an elaborate, ritualistic dance of blame placement.  Of course we dropped a cancer causing missile on some brown people, but who among us is to blame? It’s not my guy. No fucking way.

When the news shouts “WAR. FAMINE. DEATH. AIDS.” I still look out my window, but now I see slums at my doorstep. I step over trash and needles and primates with poor impulse control. Police helicopters circle over what are effectively bands of child soldiers. Wealthy technocrats invent new ways to wall off reality from their gilded hoodies. Newspeak gurus and their design thinking cronies homogenize our culture with clean surfaces, calls to action, and the promise of doing nothing we don’t want.

overpass
The new normal. Coming to an overpass near you.

All the things open border opponents fear coming into this country are simply the natural state of the world under the rule of man creeping into the world’s largest gated community. The rich and powerful are right to fear the assault of peasant cultures. It is rapidly becoming the time of guillotines and the blades of the poor are hungry for the blood of the rich.

An ahistorical occurrence is that so many middle class minded people believe that accumulating debt is a substitute for wealth. They are slowly becoming aware their lives are precariously close to ending up in gutters if they can’t pay their ever increasing bills. The cost of goods rises and the value of most kinds of labor is dropping. The fix is in and the future is dark for anyone aging out of the workforce or committing to narrow fields of expertise.

robot
Should Asimov’s Rule of Robotics concerning not harming humans prevent a robot from serving fast food?

If the kind of work you do can be automated, good fucking luck. The robots are here and they don’t ask for $15 an hour. Chances are the technician who will repair the robot that took your shitty job won’t even make $15 an hour. It’ll probably be cheaper to replace the robot anyway; sending the old unit to Africa to have its plastic bones picked clean of precious conflict minerals to be recycled into the next generation of disruptive appliances.

The people who invent this shit will be well compensated until the second world wakes up to the fact that it too can make versatile solutions for modern living. As it says in the Old Testament, and also GZA’s masterful Liquid Swords, “the first shall be last, the last shall be first.”

wutang
Robots can already beat the Wu Tang Clan at chess. It won’t be long till they claim victory in battle rapping.

Ok, so it’s clear we’re living in a planet of slums, the poor are at the gates, our luxuries have poisoned the world, and the last of us will be buried in trash. What now? Most religions and political theories are an attempt to address these type of issues, but we’ve tried pretty much everything at this point. I’m not sure there’s much left to do except put the chairs up on the table and turn the lights off.

 

Humpday. Am I right?

hoff

There’s hardly any worse feeling than going through a day you know you’ll never remember. Nothing I did today put a single new wrinkle in my brain. I barely accomplished anything towards my goals. I didn’t even get a full night’s sleep last night.

The best thing to do on days like these are to write down your goals for the next seven days and get to sleep early. An extra couple hours of sleep is always a good move and having the goals down will motivate you to suck less tomorrow.