Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review of Sarah Court

Hey gang,

Here's a review from The Nervous Breakdown by Richard "Wickercat" Thomas, a very good guy and a good short story writer, novelist, and really a tireless supporter of writers and of writing, too - in all, a very lovely guy. Not to say the fact we know each other has tempered his review in any way; it may be scabrous, but I don't know because I don't read my own reviews for the most part. This is simply a defense mechanism, but I hope you understand.

The Nervous Breakdown

All best, Craig.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

P90x, aka: the 90-day gorge fest

Hello all,

As some know, I've been hard at work completing P90x, a sadistic workout series released upon unsuspecting workout fanciers by the Beachbody Corporation, adjudicated by their lord high torturer and devilspawn, Tony Horton. What it was, basically, was a series of 10 DVDs that you have to follow for 90 days (or as close as you can) to have the body of your dreams.

I was recommended P90x by my friend Neil, who has appeared in earlier blog entries, perhaps most notably this one from 2005, which some longtime readers still claim to be their favorite post of mine:

Tahit Treat!

So anyway, Neil said he'd done this P90x thing and at the time I was feeling a little doughy, like I'd lost the proverbial eye of the tiger so it seemed like something I should do. Neil informed me that P90x "isn't for greenhorns" - this is more or less what he said, setting aside the fact he's never used the term "greenhorn" - and that it wasn't for daytrippers and tire-kickers the likes of myself. This got my dander up, naturally, and I ordered it forthwith. With the chinup bar, the weight bands, the whole shebang. I cart my ass down to the Post Office and pick it up and gangle-ass my way home with it, then let it sit in my apartment for awhile while I attend to sundry other important matters, such as playing Lego Batman. But at some point I say, "What the hey, let's try this bastard out."

There are 10 DVDs, right? Each one is a different workout. You've got legs and back, arms and shoulders, Kempo-X (this whackadoo punch n' kick thing), stretching, yoga, etc. Apparently you're supposed to do them in some kind of specific order, but the first thing I did when the package arrived was chuck out the instructions, figuring you just did the DVDs in order, 1-10, 9 times in a row and then you were finished. I've since discovered the error of my ways, but truthfully I think it was tougher doing it the way I did it because I ended up doing some of the more punishing workouts, like Core Synergistics, 9 times instead of, like, 4, which was how many times that pantywaist Neil did it.

Craig 1, Neil 0. Winning!

Anyway, at first I thought I'd try one workout randomly just to see what it was all about. Unfortunately I chose Plyo X, which anyone whose done P90 can tell you is the absolute worst and most torturous. It's a lot of jumping around like a moron, flip-dee-doing about and general misery for 60 minutes. But I was thinking, "Hey, I've done boxing training, I've punished myself with extreme cardio sessions, etc, so how bad can this be?" Take into account that my obsessive physical training went down about 4 years ago, so I'm a little out of practice.

Anyway, fire up Plyo X. Ten minutes in I'm thinking, "This is a cakewalk!" Fifteen minutes I'm starting to sweat. Twenty minutes I'm starting to get dizzy. Twenty-five minutes I shut off the DVD, go to the bathroom, let loose a big long rope of puke, a real technicolor yodel, then go lie down on the floor for about an hour.

I've NEVER puked while working out. In fact, I used to think people who said they did were full of shit. Maybe you think that of me now. I wish I was lying.

So that was my initial experience. I let the DVDs sit for 5 days until I said to myself, "F-it, I've got to do this. Am I full of Tiger Blood or what?" (of course I didn't say this exactly, because obviously Charlie Sheen had yet to have his meltdown and gift the world with his treasure trove of crazy verbal gems). So I started the series in earnest. And in truth, yeah, it's an ass-kick. The guy who guides you through it, Tony Horton ... I think most people who've done P90x have a love/hate thing with Tony. He's just so over-the-top and so sadistic ... but you come to love the guy. It's very Stockholm Syndrome. You also come to identify with some of the other people who pop up in the series, like Pam the Blam, Phil the Lawyer, Sort-of-sexy-but-not-really-when-you-dwell-on-it Dreya and others.

So I just finished it. I was very happy to have it done. My body was starting to give out. I'm no spring chicken, plus I've done some damage to my joints over the years - bending over backwards to please my blog readers, that is! (says the guy who never updates this thing). Anyway, as with most of these programs there are plenty of "success stories": guys and gals who have had amazing results. When it got down to taking a good stern look at myself and appraising my results, I gotta say they're just okay. Maybe I put on some muscle, but as it's mostly bodyweight exercises I don't think I ended up packing on tons of mass. Maybe a little broader across the shoulders, a little better thighs - glamor! But I lost 5 pounds, max, not that I had a whole hell of a lot to lose, but I could have lost more.

So what gives? I worked the program fair and square. Where are my huge results? Where's my parade?

Then it came to me: I've been eating like a total pig and slob the last 3 months.

It's true! I get that way with working out, I really do. If I'm working on something that's really physically taxing, like boxing or P90x, I totally throw my diet out the window. I don't mean to say I ever "Diet," period, but I do make somewhat sensible meal choices when I'm not working hard physically. And I have found that once you ramp your metabolism up to a certain level, you can basically eat congealed lard all day and still drop the weight. That happened while I was training for boxing, but that was even a step higher that P90x. Turns out that P90x basically got my body to the point that if I ate like a total reprobate and glutton I could more or less maintain stasis.

What are some of the things I ate? Check this out:

1. The Sausage and Egg Biscuit from McDonalds. I ate these every second morning. Here's the trick: order the meal deal, unsleeve the hash brown puck from its waxed sleeve, open the sandwich, place hash brown INSIDE, then consume. Yes. Winning!

2. The Fat Bastard Apple Fritter at Country Style donuts. I was eating these the mornings I didn't go to McDonalds. I don't think that's their technical name, but I can't think of a better one. They are a massive, MASSIVE square of fried dough studded with apples of dubious quality. You could actually taste the grease in these bad boys, like you can taste the grease in those fairground donuts cooked up by the Conklin carnies with pigeon feathers in their beards. Yum-mo!

3. 99-cent blueberry pie from Price Chopper. This pie is worth every penny, but at 99-cents that's still not saying much. Are you looking for two slabs of greasy pie crust enrobing 2 millimeters of vaguely blueberry-tasting filling? Then head to Price Chopper! Serving size, normal people: 5-6. Serving size, Davidson: 1 (entire pie).

4. Duck Soup and Noodles at some Vietnamese Noodle Shop that I think is now condemned. Do you like duck? If you don't, you're a real sucker and not anyone I'd want to break bread with. What's not to like about duck? It's greasy, fatty, its skin is permanently in a goose-pimpled state (at least it is by the time it reaches my mouth) and by eating duck you are eradicating the world of the little web-legged scum who threaten to debase our schools and corrupt our impressionable youth! Of course that's all the ravings of a loon (I'm on a drug called Charlie Sheen; soon people will be weeping over my exploded body), but duck is where it's at. But this place where I used to eat duck was chintzy - they only put ONE duck hindquarter into their huge bowl of noodle soup. No way, pally - I want TWO duck legs! I'm doing P90x, friend-o, and I needs me the calories. I'm wasting away here! So they put another leg in there, crossing them like sabers in the bowl, and charged me a little extra. That's the way I roll.

5. Ripoff Swedish Berries from Shoppers Drugmart. These things taste like shit. They taste really chemical-ly, like they've been coated in a fine mist of medical-grade oil, and I really don't like them at all. Serving size, normal people: 8-10. Serving size, Davidson: 1 (entire bag, consumed with metronomic intensity and claims of "Oh lord, these are so BAD!" and "Agh, I can't believe I'm eating these!" while watching old episodes of The Littlest Hobo).

So, to sum up: I'm done P90x and back to square one.

All best, Craig.