Monday, August 11, 2014

Stabbed in the Back by Nature

The weather was amazing. A cool 80 degrees with enough humidity that it doesn't need to rain because rain just seems to remain suspended in the air like curtains. The sky was overcast and there was a slight breeze. Very slight. Like a cat's breath on the nape of your neck. I call it cigar weather.

I also call it scooter weather. I recognize some folks would call it motorcycle weather, but your judgement rolls right off my back. Today is too nice to be's THAT nice of a day!

So, I'm out with my baby. I call her Flo-Jo, because she's black and fast. We're cruising home from an amazing lunch. Everything is on my side. I'm breathing in deeply, going 40mph in a 50mph zone, with no cars speeding past because all those other boobs are at work. I am cruising...dare I say?...ROCKETING at speeds that would startle any skateboarder or unicyclist. The sky is grey. So grey that it makes everything around me grey. Artist would only use three colors to paint this kind of scenery: black, white and grey. It was so grey that I was expecting Liam Neeson to run out into the road chased by a pack of wolves.

Flo-Jo. She's one cute Scoot.

I had a little song in my head. It might have been "How Bizarre" by OMC. Or, maybe "That's Not My Name" by the Tink Tinks. Both are floating around in there regularly, and they both make me smile. And I am, indeed, smiling. Smiling for this amazing day, one day before my birthday. Smiling because it's my mom's birthday today, whom I loved with all my heart. Smiling because of friends and family and life and nature. Nature is fucking awesome!

Suddenly, there's this pain under my left shoulder blade like like I've been hit by a blow dart being shot by a goddamned pygmy. It doesn't flare, or build. It doesn't feel strange and grow into something worse. It's a piercing pain that erupts like Mount Vesuvius. And my back bone was the city of Pompeii!

I swipe at my back, not wanting to lodge this shuriken any deeper into my body. When I do, I feel the culprit! It isn't the throwing knife that I'm expecting. Instead, in my hand is a tiny wasp. And when I say tiny, I mean almost cute. Then, I realize that it isn't dead. It's flailing around in my hand with it's stinger aiming at nothing, like some drunken boxer throwing wild punches in the ring. The moment I realize this little bastard is still alive AND still angry it is no longer cute. It is no longer some tiny bit of nature that I'm holding in my hand. Suddenly it seems to be the size of a Godzilla...or at least, Godzuki.

I sling it off to one side and off it goes. Thank goodness I've slowed to a less rockety 25mph, because I'm cruising one-handed on Flo-Jo and flailing around like some Raid-zapped insect. And already I can feel it swelling and itching.

I'm statin' the obvious, but Nature is a cruel and uncaring mistress!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

3 Small Changes to Aide Weight Loss

Here's a quick update on my weight loss goals, for those that actually care about that sort of thing.

First off, a little self-congratulation. I weigh less now than I have in 2 decades. I am feeling incredible! I'm weighing in at 257 lbs these days. It's a total of 63 lbs. lost. I've still got a bit to go, but I'm over the halfway point.

I am not a yo-yo dieter, so for those of you that are, I don't have any real advice for you. I have been either losing steadily or at a full stop.

Ok, enough about that. What you guys want to know is HOW. Well, surprisingly, my changes were not huge.

1) More out than in.
This is statin' the obvious in a big way. There isn't a human being on the face of the planet that doesn't understand this. And yet, we find a hundred different things to focus on when we're trying to lose weight. I did it for a while. You start worrying about the percentage of carbs or how fast you ran or increasing the number of times you chew each bite of food. I am not saying there isn't a place for these worries. But it confuses things, makes them more difficult.

You may have heard of decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is the cause of many irrational trade-offs. Judges in court have been shown to make less favorable decisions later in the day than early in the day. The more decisions you need to make, the harder it is to make good ones later.

Jay walking, eh? Well, based's 4:56??? Hang him! 

By eliminating the concern for how much protein I was eating, I have been able to concentrate on the one important rule: Burn more calories than I take in. You can be healthier, but you should be building one habit at a time.

2) Document
It's been proven that people who write down all of their food are more effective at losing weight. This was very true for me. I don't know the reasons why it works for others, but for me, it keeps me in the right frame of mind. On the days where I don't write something down it's because I'm feeling sneaky. And sneaky leads to eating that 3 pound chocolate Easter Bunny and not admitting to it. But, if you write down everything you eat, you are keeping yourself accountable.

I think she's re-enacting a scene from the Inglourious Basterds. .

I also track my activity with a Fitbit. It couldn't get any simpler. And, this goes back to Rule #1. I know how many calories I'm burning throughout the day. Makes it easy to know how much food I can eat.  Which leads to my biggest rule...

3) Don't eat it if you haven't earned it
I know a lot of people who want to lose weight who eat badly during the day and then say, "Oh boy, I am going to have to run about 5 miles tonight!"

Of course, they do not. Why don't they? Who knows: Kids, work, a new Joss Whedon TV show. Whatever the reason, it doesn't get done. I used to do it, too. I spent a lot of nights running at 11pm thanks to cheesecake at dinner. However, I don't do that anymore. Instead, I check my Fitbit and if I haven't burned the calories then I don't get the cake. Run first!

This isn't a crazy thought. Personal finances are the same. We all have that friend who burns through their credit card and swears they will pay it off immediately. In most cases, that friend is borrowing food out of your fridge within a few months.

The best personal financiers use credit when they don't really need it. They pay off their cards immediately because they always had the money, anyway. They aren't robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Your eating is exactly the same. If you make a habit of spending your calories only when you have the deficit to spare you will never be caught off guard. You won't have to force yourself to come home after that party and do 3 Jillian Michael's DVDs back-to-back.

Have you got some simple tips that would help our fellow adventurers out? Throw them in the comments. We'd love to hear!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sometimes Art Takes a Back Seat

The High Priestess
18" x 24" 
Oil on Canvas


Many of you have noticed that I am not producing art as fast as I once was. If my painting speed is comparable to the pace of a moderately healthy distance runner, than it has slowed to the pace of a dehydrated man crawling his way through the Gobi beneath a circle of hungry vultures. I used to feel bad about it. Art is my life. Art is my soul. Without it, I am that same starved and thirsty man trekking aimlessly through the desert of life.

"There's another artist down there."
"Yay! I love starving artist Tuesdays!" that true? There are some of us who are so focused on one or two things, nearly to the exclusion of others. We call these individuals "focused." It is high praise and is often the bailiwick of Masters-of-their-Craft. But, in truth, there are dozens of things that fill the gas tank of my soul, as anyone who has tried to follow this blog knows. I have a thousand interests. I promise, I won't try to blog about ALL of them.

<Editors Note: He obviously has forgotten about:
Swimming Post: A Note to Swimmers
Business Post: How to Develop Your Tag Line
Travel Post: Prague, The Little Quarter
TV Post: Why Defiance is Better Than Revolution
Song Talking Post: Pressure >

But, one can only do so much, and these days my time is being taken up by the creation of three businesses and graduating from business school. Alone, neither of these are small efforts. Together, and it's a wonder I have time to blink, much less paint.

But, as you can see by the above work, I haven't stopped altogether. I've only slowed down. In fact, even with the slow down, I'm produced quite a few works this year. There are a few that haven't been posted here that were done for competitions or shows. You'll see them soon.

The key is simply remembering that life is cyclical. Or, maybe the key is remembering that nothing lasts forever. Hmmm, actually, perhaps it's something about leading a horse to water but you can't look him in the mouth.

Wait, am I supposed to lead him to a gift?

Thanks for the water, Bro!
Yeah, that's it. You can give the gift of water to a horse, but don't put it in his mouth. So, that's my advice. The things you love will sometimes take a back seat to other things you love. And that's ok. We are multi-faceted individuals. The world is an unimaginably huge place with a shit ton to do and not enough lifetimes to do them all in.

But, always remember, you can give the gift of water to a horse, but don't put it in his mouth!

Any other advice? We'd love to hear it!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Weight Loss and Zombies!...or, I Hate Running

Past and Present (Unfinished)
18 x 24"
Oil on Canvas

This is the piece that I am working on for a show in Vegas later this month. I'm having a blast! This isn't a subject I've ever broached before. The theme of the show is Robots vs Dinosaurs, where you can either paint a robot, a dinosaur or both. I figure cyborg counts so this is my work so far. It should be done by the next blog entry, so tune in next week!

I smell a book cover coming. Anyone writing a novel about a dinosaur and a badass chick with a robot arm??? If you hear of it, send the author/publisher my way.

Some of you couldn't care less about art. Some of you are here because you want to know about the 50 Pound Weight Loss Challenge. Let me fill you in.

In addition to my daily 1000 calorie deficit, over the past couple of weeks I've picked up my running. I get out of the house at 7am. The sun is up, but it hasn't turned on the heat yet. It's just a cold yellow globe in the sky bearing witness to my upcoming pain. I dress and do nothing else before I run. I hate running. Any delay and I'll find an excuse to go back to bed. Or worse...give in to the siren call of my XBox. So, I sit up, grab my shorts and a t-shirt, take down a slug of water, grab the dog and my cell phone and head outside.

Every step takes me closer to two things: running and NOT running. Most days, running wins. I've determined that if I can get up and out within 5 minutes, the run will happen. After that, I've got as much chance of banging your sister as I do running further than the mail box.

Once outside with the dog bouncing at my side, I don't have the heart to go back in. The dog is as responsible for my weight loss as any diet program. Pet owner guilt... I should market it.

Get the app here:
So, since I'm out here, I pop my headphones in and dial up my second saving grace: Zombies, Run! Today, apparently, we're checking out how sound effects the "fast moving zombies."

Great, I think to myself. I hate the fast-moving zombies. As if I'm really running around being chased by zombies.

Regardless of my misplaced sanity, I hear the gates of Abel township opening and I make a run for it. I spend the next 3-5 minutes listening to Sam explain the upcoming mission. This is better than listening to my body thud over the ground like a T-Rex chasing a meal. I lose myself in the story for a little while, which is good because the start of the run is the worst part, by far. So, rather than remind myself of how much I hate running, I remind myself how much I hate fast-moving zombies. In this, I'm not alone. Sam hates them too. So does Janine and Runner 8 and Runner 3. We're a unit of runners and controllers and I'm statin' the obvious when I say that everyone prefers to hate in packs rather than as lone wolves. Zombies, Run! Gives me a pack to bond with.

Then, there's a pause in the story and Zombies, Run! plays one of the songs from my playlist. Looks like I'm starting with the melodic bagpipes of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)". I lengthen my stride a little.

This pattern happens over and over. I get some story, and then a song plays. I run from a number of fast zombies, then listen to "Cum On Feel the Noize." I meet up with other Runners, and then run to "Synchronicity II." I dodge some zombies throwing rocks (you'll have to get to Season 2, Mission 12 to learn more about that one), and even manage to get a new puppy out of the deal, but first I've got to get through  "Land of 1000 Dances," and "Pompeii."

I reach for the music like a death row inmate reaches for religion. My lungs fight for breath, my heart is hammering, my legs want to quit...but I can't because "Running Down a Dream" just came on and the beat is too perfect to run to. So, I push a little more, a little faster, a little longer. And at some point I curse Tom Petty.

  Could the ending of this song go on any longer???

And finally it's over. I'm drenched with sweat and exhausted.

I hate running...

But I love HAVING fun! The second it's over, I am proud. I feel the endorphins coursing through me like electricity. My breathing comes easier and my pulse slows to that of a race car rather than a bullet. Even the dog is bouncing as if he could have gone another few miles. I'll stay energized all day.

And the best part: I can eat that piece of cheesecake that I didn't eat last night.

Why, exactly, do I hate running?

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Challenge Week 3 - Start Small

The High Priestess - Tarot

Before we get into The Challenge this week, I'm posting the progress of the latest painting. It's been too long since I've worked on one of the tarot series. It's been pleasant getting back into it; like being snuggled in the arms of some beautiful lover from your past. It feels like home.

Now, as for The Challenge, people ask me regularly what I'm doing to lose 50 pounds. Some people ask because they want a little advice. Some people ask because they wonder if I've thought about it. Fifty pounds is no small feat. For some of us it would be easier to fly to the moon by flapping our arms rather than pass on the second helping of Cheez Doodles. I don't claim to have any huge, life changing secret for weight loss. In truth, no one does. We all know how to get healthy. We've known since the first time either we made fun of someone or we were made fun of by someone for being overweight. This ain't the Illuminati.

By the way, Illuminati...I didn't get my invite to this year's "Illumi-Naughty" Bash!

But, there is one tip that I can give you. Start small.

Ok, this is starting to sound like the set up to a dirty joke.

Over the past two weeks I've been concentrating on one thing and one thing only: keeping my calories at a 1000 calorie deficit. Yes, I've been doing a little running, but not very seriously. To call what I do "running" would be to call the seven drunk sorority sisters at karaoke singing "Call Me, Maybe" a musical act.

Isn't that the lead singer from Paramore???

In fact, the main reason that I run is because I have a party to go to that night, or a dinner event, or because I had that second helping of Cheez Doodles. If I'm going to get that 1000 calorie deficit every day, I'm going to need to take a few extra steps.

What some people don't know is that, according to science or doctors or some kid who mowed my lawn once, 3500 calories works out to be approximately 1 pound. A 7000 calorie deficit each week should be roughly, all other things being equal, a two pound weight loss. So, that's what I'm going for.

Since this started, I've lost 3 pounds. Not bad. Slow and steady. Yes, some people can lose 3 pounds in a week by eating nothing but crackers and fizzy water. I'm looking for the bigger win.

Now, you'll have to excuse me. It's Cinco de Mayo. I see a lot of beer in my immediate future. So, you know what that means: I have about 95 miles to run this morning if I'm going to keep my 1000 calorie deficit for today.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Everyday Motivation

The morning was quiet. The sun had already revealed its presence to the world with the same scream of light it always did. Light, but not warmth. The covers didn't want to let me go. The added warmth of TheWife next to me added to the comfort of bed.

But, eventually you've got to face the world, whether its freezing...and in the middle of April!...or not. Besides, life is good, so there isn't any reason to hide away in bed like a black Brian Wilson. I can hear half my readership opening a tab and googling "Brian Wilson." You've just learned something new today. You're welcomed.

See, that's how life works. Just like the bulk of you, I wake up every morning better than I was the previous morning. I'm a little bit smarter, or healthier, or more flexible, or less poor, or more wise, or a little prettier. Maybe my sex count went up by one. Or three. Maybe my reputation got a little better.

Seven out of ten days, I'm a better man when I wake up. But, I have to force myself to remember that. See, unlike most of you, I wake up every morning reminding myself that I am a fat piece of shit and I should not have eaten that double scoop of butter caramel ice cream from the Parlour last night. I remind myself that I am struggling to build a business and that a ton of people are counting on me, "so try not to mess it up, loser!" I wake up to the thought that I'm older and that I haven't gotten as far as my neighbor or my cousin or Robert Downey Jr or that guy from Saved By The Bell.

"Of course you can't compare to me, mortal."

It's habit.

But, reality sets in.

I throw the covers back and put my feet on the floor. I look around at the sun filtering through the blinds. I see my dogs sleeping like the world has never been more safe. I look around at the paintings I've done, and the souvenirs from far away lands I've visited. I remember that I ran 5 miles yesterday, and that I have a meeting today with a guy that may be giving me a building. A fucking BUILDING!

I stand up and take a deep breath and see my shadow against the wall. And, yes, at first I see the shadow of my love handles, making my shadow look like I'm holding a tire swing against my chest. But, reality sets in once again. And I realize I'm seeing the old me. Yes, the new me still has a gut, but that gut is smaller than it was yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. It's not the same size as what I saw at first. That vision was habit.

But, as Mulder would say, "the truth is out there." And I remind myself that, in truth, I'm a little bit smarter, or healthier, or more flexible. I'm a little less poor, or more wise. And, yeah, I think I'm a little prettier.

And I remember that, unless I get hustling, I won't be able to say that again tomorrow.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Killer Women: The Review

Hell yeah!! I'm so excited about this show. This show is going to be so good that I'm sure there are about 12.4 million Americans propped in front of their televisions waiting to watch it. You can tell from the tag line it's going to be good: Justice Never Looked So Good. This is going to be EPIC!

It starts like every good TV show should: the backside of a hot babe in a red dress, brunette hair blowing in the wind, standing in the middle of the street. Is that the Alamo? Who cares. Of the 12.4 million Americans, 46 of them noticed the building. The rest are either making sure their moms aren't seeing the television, looking at their husbands to see just how hot they think this woman is, or staring open mouthed at their screens with a spoonful of Raisin Bran hovering a few inches from their lips, 2% milk dripping onto their laps.

I do love Raisin Bran.

The lady in red stalks off screen and ends up at a church. She stops in front of it and stands in the middle of the street for a few seconds. She really does like standing in the way of traffic. I guess that's the deal you make with the devil to have legs like that. I imagine old Scratch says, "a'ight, girl. You want a set o' fine ass legs, you gots to stand in the middle of traffic as often as possible. And I mean for a whole mess o' time. Three count, at least."

(Editor's Note: Why does old Scratch sound like  Brer Rabbit?)
(Writers answer: That's supposed to be Creole)

Cut to a bunch of dudes riding horses, chasing down a cow. Wait! That's not a dude. That's Tricia "Battlestar Galactica" Helfer! She's playing Molly Parker. I should just put this damned bowl down. I don't suspect I'll be doing much eating for the next hour.

But, you can leave your hat on! aren't wearing a hat.
Giggity giggity.

Molly Parker needs a chose a dress. She doesn't want to, of course. Every woman knows that cow wrestling is less stereotypical than dress-wearing. And Molly Parker ain't no dress-wearing tart. She's bad ass! But, she frowns and goes to try on dresses anyway. Point made, I guess.

Back to the lady in red, who I've never seen looking as lovely as she did tonight. I've never seen her shine so bright. Mmm mmm, mmm mmm. She's interrupting a wedding, and BLAM BLAM!! The lady in red shoots the bride a few times. She runs out of the church, takes her shoes off like some homicidal Cinderella, and drives away in a hail of bullets!

Hey, Molly Parker is getting a call. Turns out, the bride is...was...a district attorney. Dress trying is over! Vrooommm!!! Molly Parker is back to being badass, driving her black Chevy Tahoe in hot pursuit.. And, of course, she's the first one to catch up to our lady in red. Molly Parker runs her off the road and...Oh shit! That's not her! That's some fat old dude in a cowboy hat! The lady in red has disappeared. There's nobody here. Just you and me. It's where I wanna be.

I suspect, however, that there are only about 8.6 million Americans watching this show.

We watch Molly Parker interview a blood-spattered husband, after watching her do a slo-mo reveal that she's a GASP Texas Ranger. I didn't know they let girls be Rangers. What next? A girl FBA agent!?!? What year is this set in??? The FUTURE?!?!?

A show written for women, by women.
All my female friends have been chomping at the bit for this one.

And, in perfect timing for the next commercial they find out where the lady in red is hiding! She's holed up in a hotel. Texas Rangers away!!

I suspect that 2.6 million Americans are also away!

The Texas Rangers bust in and get her. I'm sure she's going to put up a helluva...

Nope. They got her. No fight or anything. I check the time. Eight minutes in. Hmmm. I eat my Raisin Bran. There are fewer guns than I was hoping for. I recognize the lady in red, though. It's Nadine "My Name is Earl...but not really, it's Nadine" Velazquez. This explains why she was missing from all those episodes of the "The League."

I wonder how Ruxin would look in a red dress.

So, after about 5 minutes of male police harassment and railroading, some soul searching by Molly Parker, Molly realizes that the cops have it wrong. There's something else going on here. "Her nails were chipped." Molly Parker says. "You don't shoot the wife of your soul mate without looking like the one he should have picked."

"EUREKA!" I yell.

1.6 million Americans yell with me.

We spend the next 10 minutes in a blur of backstory. Molly Parker is trying to get divorced but her man ain't having it. We learn a few times that she's a woman in the Texas Rangers, just in case we missed it. We find out that Molly Parker's brother is Michael "I was also on Battlestar Galactica" Trucco.

"Hey, I was on TV, too!"

And we learn about her instincts some more. She's got 'em, goddamn it. And she's going to use them. She gets some evidence in a way that the writers can't explain, so wrastle up a real live montage scene. And suddenly, Bob's your uncle, we have a link to the DEA.

Molly Parker is going to use her feminine wiles on DEA agent Marc "I was Buffy's Annoying Boyfriend, Reilly" Blucas. They have sex. It isn't sexy. At all. I barely watch. I find out that there are hundreds of raisins in every box of my Post Raisin Bran. My cereal box is more interesting than this sex scene.

46,000 Americans agree. I yawn. This scene takes much longer than it should.

And happens. My-Name-Is-Girl is in the shower in prison. YES! Prison shower scene.

Then, I remember it's ABC and not HBO. I yawn again and consider...

OH SNAP!! Some bitches done killed her! Look at all the blood! There's almost a WB amount of blood! Or a TNT amount! Almost!

Oh. Psyche! She isn't dead. Which is good, because NOW we get the crux of what makes Molly Parker Molly Parker. Molly Parker Molly Parker's her way into the prison hospital and talks some more and now we learn that 1) Molly Parker was a battered wife and has never told a soul, and 2) the Mexican cartel has kidnapped the child and madre of My-Name-Is-Girl. Molly Parker swears she's going to get them back.

She calls her friend Reilly and they have some sexual banter and finally, in a very macho, unsexist way, she manages to pout and look pitiful and convince Reilly to endanger the lives of his cartel contacts in order to mount a rescue across the border. Reilly grimaces and says that it's just the two of them. Molly Parker agrees. Reilly says, "There's an excellent chance we're going to die in Mexico tonight."

2,478 Americans wonder if that's not such a bad thing. I sigh. I refill my Raisin Bran and wonder what comes on after this.

I know, I know.  I prefer Kellogg's too.
But I didn't do the shopping.

I can't even begin to describe the way they rescue the grandma and daughter. I mean, it's like the re-enacted a scene from the A-Team frame for frame. There's a complicated plan, that doesn't go the way it's supposed to, there's a lot of bullets, none of which hit Reilly or Molly Parker or the grandma or little hija. The contact gets killed of course. There has to be SOME loss, or the show just won't be believable. They speed out of there chased by trucks and jeeps and about 100 cartel killers. They knock over some conveniently placed kerosene or diesel fuel or lamp oil. It's natural that it would be there. Molly Parker leans out of the window with a grenade launcher and WHOOOMP!! Chase over. The only thing this scene was missing was some yakety sax.

786 Benny Hill fans cheer! Also, 17 Three Stooges fan and 4 Three's Company fans. Killer Women has a diverse audience.

In the end, My-Name-Is-Girl gets her family back and her death sentence pled down to 10 years, Molly Parker grows a pair (I mean...umm...gets her uterus in up?!) gets femininely badass! She tells her husband to sign the divorce papers or she'll tell the world who he really is.  Then, she grabs her trumpet and goes to play with a group of mariachis in a Latino club.

I'm not making that part up. Trumpet. Mariachis (without those hats). Crowded bar. I mean, who DOESN'T want to watch a white Texas Ranger pop onto the stage in the middle of a song with a margarita in one hand and a trumpet in the other? I mean, obviously she's taking it very seriously.

Somewhere in America, a 32 year-old man in his grandma's basement is ordering the "Killer Women" poster from to add to his collection. He's also making a companion out of a half dozen of grandmas 's couch cushions and a sewing machine. We'll be the only two people watching the show next week.


Did you enjoy the show? If so, tell me about it. The readers would love a different opinion, I'm sure!