27 February 2014

Your Fat Is Unequivocally Your Fault #4- Body Fat Set Point Time, Bitches

For those of you who don't know, Vienna, Austria is pretty much the nicest place a person could ever live.  The public transportation system can easily and quickly get you anywhere inside the city, and it's simple and cheap to travel to the rest of Europe from downtown.  There's sausage everywhere, kebaps when you tire of sausage, cheap drinks, hot Germanic women, badass architecture, and absolutely no evangelical Christians.  Additionally, the city is incredibly pedestrian friendly, so it's very easy to get into the habit of shopping daily for groceries.  Since moving back to the states I've continued the habit of shopping daily for groceries, no matter how ridiculous or inconvenient it might be to fight the teeming, unwashed hordes and their massive shopping carts overflowing with heavily processed, high-fructose syrup-filled foods.

Do we care?  Neeeeeeeeiiiiigh, I tell you.  Neigh.

Interestingly, those people seem to be extremely preoccupied with other peoples' weights, as the only thing I've ever seen an obese person reading is a magazine of some sort, and the magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store are entirely preoccupied with who is too skinny, too fat, or who got skinny or fat quickly.  The Kardashians, for some reason, get a free pass either way.  I assume there is some sort of underground centaur fetish population in charge of People, The National Enquirer, Star, and other gossip rags, because I can't think of any other reason to have those horse-faced, pampered, useless, vapid, twats on the cover of a magazine unless the powers that be have a real hardon for people who look like human-horse hybrids.

Winner of BL season 1, fatter than he was when he first got onto the show.  Success!

This brings us, then, to a show that captivates obese people in dozens of countries around the world, The Biggest Loser.  According to the show's producers, the aim of the show is to help "contestants achieve healthy weight loss and live healthier lifestyles" and to inspire "viewers to do the same" (Gomez).  This is, of course, utter nonsense- the point of the show, insofar as i can tell, is to give fatties and saddies more sob stories to reaffirm their pathetic physiques, excuses for why they cannot do the same, and it gives people who decided to hit the bar after the gym another opportunity to enjoy the comedy inherent in fat people running.  In a better world, that show's only soundtrack would be the ridiculous theme song to What's Happenin'? and would feature the commentators from Wipeout as they mocked the fatties through eat workout.  Instead, we're forces to view these allegedly human grotesqueries every time we jam past some born again Christian's wheezing, sweaty bulk to get out T-Bone steaks to the checkout counter.

BL finally produced a hot contestant and they're treating her like a fucking leper.  Way to pander to the saddies and fatties, guys!

Imagine my surprise, then, when the cover of every fucking magazine this week declared that the most recent winner of The Biggest Loser went too far in her weight loss pursuits.  Yes, on a show when two American Olympic athletes failed dismally to win what essentially amounts to a sporting competition, no one made mention of their lack of heart, the fact that their only real option at this point is suicide, and the laughable state of American mental toughness on the cover of a magazine- instead, they lambaste a former fattie with the most cliche'd sob story on the planet for being too skinny.  I don't think I'm alone in saying that a television show based around peoples' agonized decision between regaining human form or sliding into the ocean like the rest of the cetaceans did millions of years ago might be the worst idea since Paris Hilton's singing career, but if there's one thing worse than the show itself, it's the hand-wringing about the feasibility of the contestants' fat loss, their propensity for rebounding, and the fact that at least one of the contestants took the shit too seriously.

National embarrassment and stalling world champion Rulon Gardner two years after getting kicked off of BL for cheating.  Olympic gold medalist returns to former glory!

We'll put aside the fact that I think that the show's hosts for The Biggest Loser and Hoarders should carry an elephant gun and a flamethrower rather than a mike, and that the only "help" the people on those shows should receive ought to come from the barrels of those aforementioned weapons.  Instead, let's address the criticisms of the show, spurious as they are.

Unrealistic Expectations
If there is one thing on Earth certainly designed to consign oneself to mediocrity, it's "realistic expectations."  Realistic, in this context, is a euphemism for "average" and also serves as a pretty good benchmark for determining which people should be chained together at the leg digging fucking ditches in which they'll bury the reproductive organs forcibly removed from them.  As an exercise in proving my point, I googled the following: "'reasonable expectations' and 'average person'", and behold, the first search result was written by a woman who should be sent to the camps:
"Chris Powell from ABC’s Extreme Makeover was asked “For the average person, what’s a realistic expectation for weight loss?” His answer was “Take your body weight and divide it by 100. That’s the number of pounds that you can roughly expect to lose each week.” This is interesting to me because it shows that as you lose weight I cannot expect to see 2lbs each week. In fact, I should really be losing about 1.3 to 1.5 lbs a week" (Weightwatchers).
To this useless sack of doughy DNA, information about reasonable expectations jammed the idea into this woman's sad, formless, pathetic bit of grey matter that weight loss of two pounds a week was simply impossible, IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT SHE ASKED A PERSON WHO HOSTS A SHOW THAT PROVES THE OBVERSE IS TRUE.  Simply amazing.  The only thing that is unrealistic, then, for a person who attempts to set realistic expectations is the idea that they will ever drag their troglodytic, gormless, honorless, meek selves out of subhumanity and into the light of actually being human.

The Rebound
Obese people will invariably blame their genetics for their fatness.  Just as stupid people blame nonexistent diseases like ADD for their failure to learn, fat people like to conjure up their DNA as the bogeyman that sneaks into their room at night and stuffs Mega Stuff Oreos down their throat as they sleep.  Their rationale for this is often the same as the rationale behind The Biggest Loser's primary criticism- no matter how aggressive or awesome a fattie's weight loss, the weight almost invariably comes back.

Fatties would probably still eat it though.

It might not surprise you to discover that they are, like the "sufferers" of the dreaded ephemeral malady ADD, full of shit.  Obesity is not hardwired into one's DNA- for one, it's not a disease, and for another, there are very few diseases that are actually heritable.  Certainly, all of humanity is genetically coded to store body fat, as it's necessary to survive famines.  Despite that fact, obesity is hardly a natural state.  And before the fatties start in about their thyroids, shut the fuck up- according to statistics, only 4.6 percent of the U.S. population age 12 and older has hypothyroidism.  On the other side of the coin, about 1 percent of the U.S. population has hyperthyroidism, and you don't see 25% as many people who bitch about their evil thyroids bitching about how their thyroids are killing their gainz.  The thyroid/genetic issue, then, is a non-starter.

Probably more of a genetic than epigenetic mutation. 

So why, then, are fatties gonna fat?  If you're dying to blame the genetic bogeyman, you can start by blaming fatties' parents, who very well might have epigenetically caused their children to have a predisposition to obesity.  It is possible to cause heritable changes that are not the result of changes in the DNA sequence.  Thus, it is possible to create a predisposition to fatness, like pregnancy during famine, or perhaps even by maintaining a significant level of obesity in successive generations of the same family line [the aforementioned epigenetic suggestion] (Lukaszewski).  That stated, however, predisposition does not in any way equal predestination, no matter how vehemently some land beast might argue, wattles jiggling furiously as Cheetos dusts wafts off their orange-stained, wildly gesticulating sausage-like fingers.

I would have fucked a fat Anna Nicole Smith until my cock fell off.

This brings us, then, to the crux of it- fat people claim they can't help being fat because the couple of times they try to look like a human being, their weight almost invariably rebounds.  Somewhere between 66% and 80% of all land beasts re-fat themselves within two years, which is a pretty staggering success rate for people whose central preoccupation seems to be eating themselves to death (Voss).  The culprit here, however, is not a "fat gene" or their thyroid- it's homeostasis.  All living organisms have their internal systems regulated by homeostasis, which is essentially a complex process by which your body determines what is "normal" and strives to maintain normality.  The human body, it seems, takes homestasis incredibly seriously- an individual's weight tends to be fairly stable over time under most conditions, and lean muscle mass and body fat are similarly stable.  Even across the entire population of adult white males, the average weight of a sixty year old is only a few pounds heavier than a thirty year old (Stark).  Homeostasis, then, is the process that drives your body fat set point.

Feel free to hate me because I'm beautiful.

For those of you who've never heard of the term, a body fat set point is really nothing more than the percentage of total body mass in fat that your body considers normal.  Establishment of this fat set point happens over fairly long periods of time, is an extremely important factor in weight maintenance, and is governed by a complex mechanism science does not fully understand (Harris).  As a former chubby kid, I found it pretty difficult to get and stay lean, initially.  What I found, though, is that the longer I stayed at a given body fat, the more dietary lenience I could have and maintain my physique.  From my perspective, bod fat set points are fucking awesome, because having maintained single digit body fat for the last 7 years means that I can eat pizza, chicken fingers, cheesecake, and Baked Ruffles all day for weeks at a time and not notice an appreciable difference in my abdominal vascularity, which is more important to me than the lives of 99% of the people currently populating the Earth.  Having reduced my body fat set point to 6-8%, my body is basically little more than an anabolic dynamo devoted to converting all available calories to power my big, gorgeous brain and build more muscle.

Le groce.

The fatties, however, suffer from exactly the opposite metabolic shift- over time, their sloth, shitty eating habits, hangdog expressions, and chinlessness has caused their bodies to become little more than a KFC bowl- they're just failure piles in bowls of sadness.  Unlike my set point, which is my best friend, confidant, consigliere, and all-around good guy, the set points of fatties are pretty much mustachioed cartoon bad guys in overcoats, only they're so evil they're cutting off chick's heads and face-raping their corpses and diddling small children with their victims' severed toes rather than tying broads to train tracks.  According to Richard Keesey, who's pretty much devoted his life to the study of body fat set points, fat people who've been fat a while are fucked for a variety of reasons:

  • "The diet-induced increases in fat cell number were apparently irreversible"(Keesey).  That sucks hard, because while you can shrink the fat cells, you can't get rid of them altogether without surgery.  Fat cells shrink and grow due to a variety of factors, and once they hit critical mass the body creates new cells to hold more fat. Weirdly, those new fat cells are hungry, and researchers have noted it's much harder for people with more fat cells than average to lose fat and remain lean than it is for people who simply have big fat cells.
  • "Obese individuals... display metabolic adjustments to caloric restriction that act both to limit the loss of weight and to favor its recovery" (Keesey)- their bodies actually turn into the fat factories I jokingly described above.
  • Formerly fat people have to work much harder to lose fat than real human beings.  Call it karma if you want (I do), but the former land beasts have drastically lower resting metabolic rates after losing weight, so they have to eat less and work out more to maintain their weight or continue weight loss (Keesey).    

Sucks for them, right?  It actually gets worse- by maintaining their fatness over time, fatties actually train their brains to keep them wrapped tightly in a cocoon of cellulite- 
"long-term [diet induced obesity] creates a higher body weight set-point and that weight loss induced by [caloric restriction]... provokes the brain to protect the new higher set-point. This adaptation to weight loss likely contributes to rebound weight gain by increasing peripheral ghrelin concentrations and restoring the function of ghrelin-responsive neuronal populations in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus" (Briggs).
Not exactly a machine built for war, the Trabant.

So, by getting and staying fat, fat people take a body that could have been a nuclear munitions factory in the midst of all-out war and turn it into a fucking Trabant production facility.  Then, they try to pilot their shitty little plastic and sawdust Soviet vehicle through a battlefield to take out packs of M-1 Abrams by shooting fucking paperclips out of their driver's side window. They sowed the seeds of their own destruction and seem to think it's the fault of black magic, bad luck, and shitty genetics.

One Contestant Goes "Too Far"
Given this information, it should come as no shock that the contestants on Biggest Loser fail to keep the weight off- their brain, their endocrine systems, homeostasis, their shitty life habits and long track records of failure at life and statistics are against them.  Apparently one contestant realized this- Rachel Frederickson.  Frederickson managed to lose 110 pounds on the show itself, going from 260 to 150 at a height of 5'4".  In the succeeding three months, Frederickson appears to have spent a lot of time surfing pro-ana sites, because she carved off another 40 lbs and showed up at the reunion looking like a reanimated skeleton wrapped in tan cellophane.  That sparked a hell of a lot of controversy in the tabloids, it seems, because it's all they seem capable of discussing when they're not carrying on about the somehow-still-relevant aforementioned family of equine hybrids  Because they're dickless idiots with no conception of what these fatties are up against, people to think it's the fault of the show itself- a People survey of its vapid, housewive-filled readership revealed the four things needed to fix the show are:
  1. Set limits on how much contestants can lose. 
  2. Slow down the weight loss.
  3. Scale down the intensity of the workouts.
  4. Provide long-term support to former contestants.
Obviously, if any of that shit was implemented, that show would be off the air before the first episode of the revamped BL finished.  Those suggestions are obviously the produce of the minds of gibbering idiots, because that shit would make the show even more awful than it already is, and would do nothing to address the real issue- to lower quickly their body fat setpoint, land beasts have to take drastic measures.  The only useful suggestion science has yet had is to pump former fatties full of fenfluramine, a much maligned and now hard-to-find amphetamine that seems to lower your set point by drastically raising seratonin levels (Hunsinger).  Given that I've met more than one person who got and stayed lean by taking Ecstasy on a regular basis, seratonin management may well play a role.  I'm not a doctor and don't really give a fuck about fat people anyway.  What I do know, however, is that the entire concept that a Biggest Loser contestant could "go too far" is ludicrous.  Even if they killed themselves, the world would still be down a fattie, so it's a net gain for the rest of us.  Drastic times call for drastic measures, and from what science says, maintaining one's obesity could only be construed as a drastic time.

The Conclusion
This brings us, then, to the rub- don't be fat.  It's pretty much that simple.  If you are fat, stop being fat.  The bad news is it's going to suck trying to regain human form, but the good news is that once you do and maintain human form for long enough, your body will reward you by helping.  I know, that was a hell of a throwaway conclusion after such a ridiculously lengthy and well researched article, but I don't give two shits about fat people.

Anorexic porn is apparently a thing.

Briggs D, Lockie SH, Wu Q, Lemus MB, Stark R, Andrews ZB.  Calorie-restricted weight loss reverses high-fat diet-induced ghrelin resistance, which contributes to rebound weight gain in a ghrelin-dependent manner.  Endocrinology. 2013 Feb;154(2):709-17.

Forum Post.  Women’s Running Mag.  Weight Watchers.  18 Nov 2011.  Web.  25 Feb 2014.  http://community.weightwatchers.com/Blogs/ViewPost.aspx?threadID=1524539

Gomez, Patrick.  Biggest Loser Winner Rachel Frederickson: Did She Go Too Far?  People.  5 Feb 2014.  Web.  26 Feb 2014.  http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20783820,00.html

Harris RB.  Role of set-point theory in regulation of body weight.  FASEB J. 1990 Dec;4(15):3310-8.

Hunsinger RN, Wilson MC.  Anorectics and the set point theory for regulation of body weight.  Int J Obes. 1986;10(3):205-10.

Hyperthyroidism.  National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service (NEMDIS).  26 Feb 2014. Web.  26 Feb 2014. http://www.endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/hyperthyroidism/index.aspx

Hypothyroidism.  National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service (NEMDIS).  26 Feb 2014. Web.  26 Feb 2014.  http://www.endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/hypothyroidism/

Keesey RE, Hirvonen MD.  Body weight set-points: determination and adjustment.  J Nutr. 1997 Sep;127(9):1875S-1883S.

Lukaszewski MA, EberlĂ© D, Vieau D, Breton C.  Nutritional manipulations in the perinatal period program adipose tissue in offspring.  Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Nov 15;305(10):E1195-207.

Stark, Todd. The concept of a body fat set point.  Academia.edu.  1998.  Web.  27 Feb 2014.  https://www.academia.edu/497061/The_Concept_of_a_Body_Fat_SetPoint

Tauber, Michele.  The Biggest Loser: Four Ways to Fix the Show.  10 Feb 2014.  Web.  27 Feb 2014.  http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20785180,00.html

Voss, Gretch.  When you lose weight and gain it all back.  NBC News.  6 Jun 2010.  Web.  27 Feb 2014.  http://www.nbcnews.com/id/36716808/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/when-you-lose-weight-gain-it-all-back/#.Uw-UuvRDuSo

15 February 2014

Movies, Music, And Books That Definitely Will Not Get You Laid On Valentine's Day (A Day Late)

It's that time again!  If you guys haven't yet caught on, I don't necessarily mention the best of the best in these blogs (although it often ends up being that way), but rather try to turn your attention to stuff that might have flown under your radar and of which it's possible you'd never know if I didn't bring it up.  Think of these posts as the anti-Top 40 list for your everyday misanthrope,sociopath, or anti-hero.  Given that my social circle shrinks by the day and I've been through just about every book and movie on which I can lay hands, I figure it's high time I give you guys a head's up on that tripe you should ignore only if you've no interest in clinging desperately to the last vestiges of goodwill towards man you might harbor.

What?  She's probably someone's girlfriend.

Movies Your Girlfriend Will Probably Hate More Than Republicans Hate Justin Bieber
Frankly, I can't come up with a reason to like Justin Bieber- the kid's white trash and acts like white trash that hit the lottery.  The little bitch will be dead of an overdose in a year or two, so everyone keep your fucking panties on and wait it out.   I don't think I've ever heard one of his songs, but I assume saccharine ballads written by some soulless, faceless corporate drone and sung in a falsetto that'd make the dad from Growing Pains' kid sound like his testicles had descended.  In any event, what follows are the Larry Correia to film's Dean Koontz.

Ninja 2
If you're not a fan of Scott Adkins, it's likely you also hate pizza, steak, metal, Bruce Lee, and blowjobs.  Scott Adkins detractors are all certainly vegetarians, drive Priuses, and wear scarves in the summer- their existence is proof that there is no higher power, that humanity is doomed, and that masculinity is in fact dead and buried.  If you're unaware of the dude's existence, he was Jean Claude Van Damme's jacked, badass henchman in Expendables 2, post-surgery Deadpool in X-Men:Origins, and the ultimate successor to Ivan Drago in the Undisputed films.

Ivan who?

Lest you worry, you needn't see Ninja 1 to be up to speed in Ninja 2.  The first Ninja, while ok, wasn't great, and was totally overshadowed by Ninja Assassin, which as I recall was released the same year.  In any event, Ninja 2 follows the (hilariously and stereotypically white) ninjitsu practitioner Casey Bowman as he basically kills everyone in Southeast Asia to avenge the death of his pregnant wife/girlfriend.  If you're watching martial arts films for the romantic subplot, you probably aren't going to be a fan of the blog, so let's not pretend we give a fuck what she is.  Just pop some popcorn, slather that shit with deliciously anabolic butter, suspend your disbelief over the persistence of the myth of ninjas, and watch Scott Adkins fuck people up good and proper like.  This is not your typical ninja film- one scene has Adkins drunkenly depopulate a small town in Thailand after someone spills a beer on Adkins and talks a bit of shit.  Ninja 2 is basically what would happen if Michael Dudikoff had actually known martial arts, spent a hell of a lot of time lifting and eating nothing but steak, and then was given a plotline that literally consisted of:
EVERYBODY DIES (Dialogue optional).


Bounty Killer
Of late, it seems I gamble and lose invariably on books and movies.  Then I double down on something that looks too insane to suck (I'm looking at you, Matthew Hughes and your goddamned Hell and Back series... nevermind Andy Remic, who's reason alone to black glass the British Isles for his ability to craft amazingly enticing plots and then writing the most dogshit novels of all time) and want to fucking shoot myself for blowing my hard-earned and scanty cash on books that make me prefer blindness to finishing them.  The same has gone for movies, from the nearly unspeakably bad (though I finished the thing out of stubbornness and overhangedness) Uwe Boll zombie atrocity Zombie Massacre to the Japanese schoolgirl filled zombie tragedy Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead to the almost-awesome-if-for-no-other-reason-than-the-film's-slut-is-too-hot-Jade-Regier Danno Trejo-filled Zombie Hunter.

With that pile of Philip Seymore Hoffman-sized sadness in my recent history, you might be inclined to disregard by next recommendation, but I will caution you that doing so will cause you to pass up on the low budget post-apocalyptic triumph that Six String Samurai was supposed to have been.  Bounty Killer follows two bountry hunters famed for their skills battling to fulfill the same contract in a post-apocalyptic world so iron-fistedly controlled by corporations that all white collar crimes are capital crimes, the execution of which is carried out by celebrity "bounty killers." Want reasons you should see this?
  1. Mega cunty, head explodingly hot former Terminator Kristanna Loken.
  2. National Lampoon's husky-voiced tittymonster Beverly D'Angelo (who I'd still slap my mom to fuck).
  4. Christian Pitre, who is so hot you cannot actually look directly at her, or you'll be reduced to ash.
  5. Libertarian cannibal biker gangs.

Seriously, you're doing yourself a disservice by passing on this gem.  If nothing else, you'll be able to say to your friends "yeah, that shit was tight, ten years ago" when they finally discover it in 2020.  Come for the bragging rights and stay for the hot chicks in thigh highs beating the brakes off white collar criminals and decapitating their henchmen.

It should come as no surprise that I love anthology films nearly as much as I love short story anthology novels.  The V/H/S series is, along with Movie 43, without question the best of the lot, and the V/H/S films have far more rewatchability than any horror films I've seen outside of the Devil's Rejects.  All of the short films in both of the V/H/S movies are great, but my opinion of the best of the lot might be colored by my love of The Raid: Redemption, as I think Gareth Evans' film is ridiculously cool.  If you've got two hours to spare, check this film out.  It is certainly one of the best two hour spans you'll have staring at the moving picture box.

For those of you who don't have a degree in East Asian Studies, you might not know much about Taiwan.  Frankly, I have a degree in EAS and only happened to know that Taiwan was a staging point for invasions of China, a base for piracy the likes of which would make the Caribbean look like the most law abiding place outside of a Singaporean police station parking lot.  What I did not know is that Taiwan was filled with bloodthirsty, awesome headhunters who look for all the world like Iroquois and speak a bizarre Austronesian language no one should ever have to bother learning.

Who cares, right?  Well, this movie gives you a reason to care.  It follows the youths of the Seediq tribe as the evil Japanese take over the island of Formosa during WW2 and "civilize" the natives.  Basically, the degenerate capitalist imperialist dogs subvert and pervert an honorable native culture to the point where the natives finally revolt in amazing, bloody fashion.  More heads are lopped off in this film than were actually removed in the French Revolution, and in awesome, manly fashion.  If this movie doesn't make you want to stab a sorority girl and burn down your local mall, nothing will.  Plus, John Woo directed it, so you know that doves will fly through arterial sprays and you can wax poetic about the artistic nature of the cinematography while simultaneously tucking your murder boner into your waistband.

Music That Raises Pulses As Much As Test And Will Get You Ejected From The Gym Because Insanity

Warhound- Freedom
Warhound was intitially a band I ally wanted to like, but just couldn't.  to me, they were a combination of all of the best parts of Bulldoze and Merauder combined with the most dogshit, sing-songy, half assed, bloody vomit-inducing choruses of hardcore's greatest mistake, Fury of Five.  Warhound's first LP was like having a lunch date with Meghan Fox- you really want to enjoy it, because she's stunning and you'll likely never sit that close to a woman that hot again, but every time she opens her mouth you want to grab the back of her head and smash her face into the table until she stops moving, then drown her in her martini for good measure.

Luckily, Warhound seems to have come to the same conclusion, because their most recent stuff is fucking insane.   Chuggy, downtuned riffs, endless breakdowns, and all overlaid with the the most insanely angry, gut-wrenching vocals.  Their vocalists are not men who are simply trying to sound pissed- the tone of the vocals in Warhound conveys what can only be thinly restrained violence.  Like World of Pain, Warhound's lyrics trip back and forth between typical toughguy fare and surprisingly intelligent politically-themed stuff, which makes you feel a little better about gleefully screaming along with the shit in the gym.  Let me just clue you in- if you have your hood up and start screaming along with Next Level Demonstration in a commercial gym, you will definitely be asked to leave after several terrified chicks scramble to the front and report that the gym has a dangerous psychotic in its midst.For fans of: MS13, cutting off people's heads, hate, buxom Satanic Latinas, World of Pain, old Warriors, and beatdown hardcore in general.

Attila- About That Life
Those of you, and you are legion, who take yourselves far too seriously will scoff at my inclusion of what is doubtless the most ignorant nonsense deathcore this side of Brokencyde.  I'll agree- Attila's early shit was fucking retarded, but it was fun and retarded.  Unlike most party bands, who invariably become victims of their own success and get progressively lamer until they're totally unlistenable, Attila's actually gotten both more skilled and more ignorant, culminating their their fifth album "About That Life, which is an album you will love to hate in public and rock incessantly when no one's around.  Slam wigger deathcore about fucking chicks (live ones, even), blowing lines, banging back shots, and driving cool cars- this shit is everything Lil John would be if he had a modicum of musical talent.  If you don't like this shit, I am certain I don't like you, and I can guarantee that partying with you would probably consist of wine, cheese, sweater vests, and eventual suicide.

... and if that wasn't ignorant enough, how about a song about beating someone down with a brick and then setting them on fire, in a lyric video filled with titties and strippers?  Seriously, if you don't love this shit, you're dead inside.  For fans of:  getting hammered and breaking shit, Dr. Acula, Carnifex, Andrew WK, Suicide Silence, and playing metal at parties with porn showing on the big screen in the background. 

Vow of Hatred / Steel City Firm- Urban Decay
I've mentioned Vow of Hatred before, and this split just brings to brighter light how fucking brutal both of these Pittsburgh beatdown bands are.  Nonstop breakdowns, tough guy lyrics, and brutality prevail.  Awesome incarnate, for fans of: old Hatebreed, old Throwdown, Bulldoze, and kicking homeless people in the face.

.45 Stainless- OGBD
Finland is one of the richest nations on Earth, in which everyone is literate, drunk, and awesome deadlifters, but still rocks one of the highest suicide rates in history.  Why is a matter of debate, but at least one group of Finns is channeling their hate outward- .45 Stainless.  Beatdown the way it's intended to be- mean, ignorant, and filled to the brim with breakdowns.  For fans of: utter brutality and beating the shit out of everyone.

Books Your Mind Requires
Unfortunately, the books I'm going to recommend are a little light, because most of what I've read of late was rubbish- Lucifer's Lottery by Edward Lee could not hold my attention, Sam Pink's Rontel ended up in the trash when I realized there was quite literally no point to its existence, Evolution RX was only useful for someone with no background in paleo (though in retrospect it's actually a decent book on evolutionary medicine and diet), Charles Stross's Rule 34 dragged (though I really only bought it for its cover art anyway)

Strykers is an almost impossible blend of my favorite things- dystopic, post-apocalyptic, pulpy, and violent.  Set in a world ravaged by nuclear war and controlled entirely by a few corporations, the Strykers are psionics who utilize their mutant superpowers to enforce the law and cavaid liquidation.  Opposing them are the Warhounds, psyonics in the employ of the most powerful cabal of private corporations.  Caught in the middle are a group of revolutionaries led by the son of the most powerful man in the world, disavowed Strykers, and unregistered humans attempting to overthrow the existing order to save the entire human race.  Yeah, it's fucking awesome.  Read it.  

We Live Inside You
I have recommended this author's stuff before, in his badass Angeldust Apocalypse.  This might be better, though it's hard to gauge an author's awesome short stories against another awesome set of short stories.  This book resonated with me due to a story about straightedge kids who turned to lifting to prove that they were in fact superior to their peer, then engage in a Project Mayhem of violence to assert their dominance.  The entirety of this book is stellar, and I cannot imagine a person not enjoying at least some of these stories.  To say that it's worth the $15 would be an understatement.

Coming up, another Faddism article, an interview with Trevor Kashey, and an addition to the Keto Condiments series.  Bringing it old school flavor!

11 February 2014

There Is Nothing New Under The Sun- Faddism In Exercises And Implements, Part 3.5- The Strand Pull, and I'm Not Talking About Picking Up Chicks On A German Beach

It occurred to me that in my haste to get out the longest thing I'd yet written for the site that I had overlooked one extremely popular, yet almost completely ignored historical implements- the strand.  Known to most of us by the 20th Century name "chest expander", it’s likely that few of you have ever seen a chest expander outside of the brief and ridiculous bit in Pumping Iron in which Arnold used one while one of those where-the-fuck-did-those-bodies-go 1970's hot bikini-clad broad sat atop his shoulders, likely so fucking wet they had to velcro her vag to the back of Arnold's neck for the shoot..  The strand/band/chest expander, however, dates back to early antiquity and has been used by nearly every one of the epic, bloodthirsty badasses that predated the firearm, likely every person deemed a strongman since the late Paleolithic, in addition to sundry other random people throughout the ages to build strength on the go, without the necessity of bulky training implements, and without the need for a specialized locale like a gym for training.

Strand pulling, in fact, may be as old as archery itself.  Archers have long been known for the strength of their grip, shoulders, arms, and back, and may well have used bows strung with higher tension to build up their strength for the use of their regular bows.  It's not inconceivable, were that to in fact be the case, that strength competitions in military encampments may well have centered on drawing these bows, and that such competitions were far more commonplace than even stone lifting in certain areas (particularly the steppes of Central Asia).  

If you've not yet sussed out the meaning of the term "strand pulling", allow me to elucidate- strand pulling, also known as chest expansion or currently as "band work", is any exercise that's done using rubber tubing, flat rubber bands, steel springs, or bowstrings with the intent of building or proving one's strength.  Obviously, one can moderate the resistance in this method of exercise in two ways- one by the altering the thickness/resistance provided by the implement at the outset, and then by increasing of decreasing the the distance over which the implement is stretched.  Though most of us in the modern era think of bands as simply being a warmup, prehab/rehab implement, a method of adding resistance to a lift, or (as much as it pains me to mention something as retarded as reverse band work, here goes) reducing resistance, it was actually a means to an end unto itself in bygone eras.  Strand pulling enjoyed as much or more popularity than did actual weightlifting in different places at different times, and has steadfastly remained a part of resistance training since the concept of organized resistance training was formulated.

To give you an idea of exactly why this activity might have been popular, one really needs only to look at the draw weights of various bows throughout history and physical descriptions of the archers who used those bows.  In ancient China and Greece, archers were some of the most feared warriors, and were often just as vicious in close combat as they were from a distance due to the incredible strength of their left arms.  Guys like the Greek face-wrecker Hippolytus, bloodthirsty Chinese enforcer Taishi Ci, and Korean death-dealer King Dongmyeong were all described as freakishly strong, and all of the nomadic equestrian archers of the Central Asian steppes, from the gigantic and heavily muscled Scythians to the shorter, Neaderthal-esque Huns were all described as incredibly muscular and strong.  It should come as no surprise that they were so heavily muscled, as they were basically lifting constantly- the draw weights on their bows were massive, and they were incessantly firing arrows.  To give you an idea of the volume they were getting in, modern speed archers can fire an arrow every 1.7 seconds or so, which means that in battle or on a hunt, they could get in 80 reps (the number of arrows carried by Mongol archers) in less than three minutes if need be.  That’s a hell of a lot of weight moved, given the draw weight on a Mongol bow was 166 lbs.  In less than three minutes, then, a Mongol could move 13,280 lbs- that’s two tons a minute, for those of you keeping track.  For the sake of comparison, here are a few examples of draw weights on the bows of someone of history’s most feared archers, and a bit of insight into why modern Olympic archers look like they just stumbled out of the Mukden prisoner of war camp in 1945:  

  • English longbow= avg. 70-80 lbs. (though reported up to 200 lbs.)
  • Scythian bow= avg. 120 lbs.
  • Old Mongol bow= avg. 166 lbs. 
  • Roman warbow= avg. 110 lbs.
  • Modern Olympic bow= 48 lbs. (men); 38 lbs. (women)

Fred Rollon might not have been strong, but the dude looked damn good being weak.

While there's not really much in the way of a historiographical account of strand pulling between antiquity and modernity, it's highly unlikely that strand pulling fell entirely out of the social consciousness only to return more popular than songs about getting hammered and "going crazy up in da club" appear to be now amongst vapid, scantily clad, gold-digging purveyors of blue balls are now.  Yeah, strand pulling in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century was more popular than penicillin cocktails in Vegas brothels.  Guys of whom you've probably heard- bizarrely ripped yet not strong Golden Age bodybuilder Fred Rollon, epic strongman bodybuilders Eugen Sandow, Monohar Aich, Reg Park, and Edward Aston, Golden Age strength coach and guru Professor Atilla, pint-sized Super Jew strongman The Mighty Atom, vaunted promoter and accomplished strongman Tromp Von Diggeln, legendary strongman Thomas Inch, and Baddest Motherfuckers John Grimek, Hermann Goerner, and Steve Stanko all regularly used strand pulling in their training routines, and Sandow espoused them so strongly that he caused strand pulling to eclipse Indian club use in the country for which the clubs are eponymous (Anderson; Chapman 160).

Porn stache not included.

Though there's no clear indication of when the modern "chest expander" was invented, we do know that it was already considered a scourge in Ireland in 1857, as the Dublin Quarterly Journal of Medical Science claimed the modern chest expander was invented and patented by Henry Cost, but does not provide the year it was invented (188).  Hilariously, the drunken Irishmen involved in the publication of that "medical journal" insisted that the chest expander heralded a return to the physical culture attitudes of the Greeks and Romans that would bring about the resurgence of the "debauchery and depravity which ended in the overthrow of their States"(187).  As no one in history has ever taken an Irishman's advice on anything, the world carried on using the chest expander without permission from people whose principal preoccupations lie more in whiskey and wife beating.  The chest expander, meanwhile, had been used at least since 1851 as a medical device for rehabilitation, and was used in schools like the Philanthopium for physical education in Germany.  By the end of the 19th century, strand pulling was commonly employed in gyms and homes for strength training by laypersons and lifters alike, especially after the rubber version was released in 1857.

In the 1990's, Dolph Lundgren's motto was "Yo, bro- do you even Bowflex?"

Another use of band/strands/chest expanders built upon Watson's Health Lift idea, and utilized bands rather than wands in a sort of proto-Bowflex apparatus.  Like the Bowflex, the bands were adjustable and could be utilized for either strength endurance, hypertrophy, or strength building.  The Mid-19th Century version of the Bowflex, Barnett's Health Lift, was likely capable of providing far more resistance over a much smaller range of motion than the modern Bowflex, proving once again that 20th Century Americans are lazy piles of shit who've stolen any number of great ideas from bygone times and fucked them up beyond all recognition (Todd). 

It's likely that most of you are still thinking to yourselves, "that's a lovely history of something about which I give exactly zero fucks and will use on the seventh of never."  I can understand that sort of skepticism, because when I began writing this, I thought the same thing.  Then I stopped and realized that I've used band pushdowns religiously over the last couple of years, regularly use band curls and overhead presses at home as a volume supplement to my program (usually while watching Crank, Crank 2, or The Raid: Redemption), and love the tits off crazybell bench presses.  Arm wrestlers routinely employ band work to build tendon and ligament strength for competition, mixed martial artists like Sean Sherk use them to increase punching power and the strength of their shots, and chest expanders have even been used by strongmen to prove their strength.  Thomas Inch, for instance, had a special chest expander created for use in strength exhibitions- he'd pull a 40 strand chest expander after six people from the audience had tested it, and while hanging a 56 lb. kettlebell from each pinky finger (Gentle).

If this dude said it works, it probably fucking does.

Perhaps the greatest endorsement strand pulling could get, however, is that of Arnold Schwarzennegger's idol, Reg Park.  Park penned an entire treatise on the value of strand pulling, which was being called "cable training" at the time, and which Park considered nearly invaluable for bringing "your biceps, deltoids, trapezius, pectorials and latissimus into the size and shape that you want them to be"(Park).  According to Park, cables were part of the golden trifecta of training implements, which along with dumbbells and barbells would produce the "finest and strongest physique that a bodybuilder can wish for", citing six early-to-mid-20th Century lifters as proof of this unassailable fact.  Park's depictions of the exercises are only marginally better than Alabama's ghetto hood rat artist's depiction of a leprechaun that allegedly plagued the "fine people" of Mobile's shittiest ghettos for a month, but shed some light on those exercises Park valued most and why.  What follows is a mere sampling of the over 30 exercises one can do for upper body, but are those which Park found most valuable for building the idea physique.

  • Front Band Pull-aparts- great for strengthening the upper back and traps, in addition to giving one's physique a wider appearance.
  • Overhead Band Pull-aparts- strengthen the lats and help one's v-taper.
  • Overhead to Front Pull-aparts- pulling the bands apart overhead until the bands were positioned in front of the lifter's chest work both the lats, rear delts, and rhomboids.
  • Front Band Pull-aparts- Same as the overhead movement, but with your arms extended to the front, parallel to the ground.
  • Behind-the-back Band Push-aparts- With the bands behind your back, start with your hands at your shoulders and push straight out, with your hands parallel to the floor for back and shoulder development.
  • Unilateral Tricep Extensions- Your typical french press/single arm overhead tricep extension.  Hold one end of the band with your arm straight at your waist, and then extend your other hand straight overhead in a typical tricep extension.
  • Unilateral Overhead Press- With one arm held straight by your side and hand at your waist, press the other arm out overhead from the shoulder for a "broad as a barn appearance."
  • Archer's Draw- This movement exactly replicated the motion of drawing a bow, and thus is great for building the shoulders, traps, lats, and biceps on the pulling arm and the tricep and shoulder on the extended arm.
  • Lateral Raise- This should be pretty self-explanatory.  If you can't figure out how to do a lateral raise with a band, you might want to consider suicide as your best option.
  • Bicep Curl- Holding one end of the band underfoot, bust out some curls for the girls.
  • Reverse Curl- Same deal, but with your grip flipped for forearm and brachialis work.
  • Front Cable Row- Interestingly, one would think that this movement would be for the back, but it's actually to hit the tricep on your extended arm.  Holding your left arm parallel to the ground and fully extended in front of you, pull the other end of the band as far back as possible with your right arm.

Still unconvinced?  Allow me to give you a few more reasons why strand/band pulling is worth incorporating into your training.  First, it's possible to do either straight strength work or muscular endurance work with bands, and either can lead to hypertrophy when combined with enough meat.  Though we usually think of it in terms of its utility for rehab and physical therapy work, it's actually pretty useful in general strength training, if for no other reason than it promotes joint health and strengthens and thickens your ligaments and tendons, but the altered force curve of bands also provides a completely different feel to the weights.  Furthermore, the fact that you're not fighting gravity means you have to use far more stabilizers to control the weight (as bands can pull in a variety of directions at once), and you have far more options in terms of angles of resistance, which means you can work weak points and completely ignored angles of resistance that could mean the difference between a PR and a plateau, or an injury and serious strength.  Sticking points change and disappear when using bands, and you can drastically increase your force production with the inclusion of band tension to any movement.

All that shit, while great, ignores probably the best feature of bands- they're completely portable.  When traveling, nothing can beat bands, as they're lightweight, compact, and you can use them while sitting on the shitter on an airplane if you really wanted.  Combine that portability and ease of access with the fact that you can use bands to do just about anything, including squats, and you've got a pretty strong reasoning for never missing a workout, because the fact that you can't drag your ass to the gym while it's open doesn't mean you can't bust out some bands and get your curls on while watching late night TV for fifteen minutes before bed.  Basically, bands are an anti-excuse for skipping workouts, and a pretty fucking good reason why we should all be far more ripped than we are.  

Johnny skipped his workout and got hammered instead.

There has got to be a reason why bands have remained in the lifting zeitgeist since the dawn of resistance training, and the reason I just outlined probably don't do bands/strands/chest expanders justice.  If you think you're too good, too strong, or too advanced for bands, you're a fucking idiot, and if you think you're too much of a novice to handle training with overgrown rubber bands, you should just grab a tack hammer and smash yourself in your stupid, craplousy face with it.  There is literally NO reason why you should avoid bands, and dozens of reason why you might as well pick some up and keep them in your gym bag for that rainy/snowy day you just can't muster up the willpower to hit the gym but know there's going to be a Rocky marathon on USA that day.

Did I mention Reg Park probably looked better at 60 than you do now?  Yeah, get your ass some bands.

Go get some bands, a bullworker, a Bowflex, or something strand pulling related and make that shit work, or I'll send Reg Park's ghost to your house to fuck your girlfriend because you're a dickless bitch.

Anderson, Gordon.  Tromp Von Diggeln.  Maxalding.  Web.  6 Feb 2014.  http://www.maxalding.co.uk/Tromp/tromp-biog.htm

Chapman, David.  Sandow the Magnificent.  Champaign: UI Press, 1994.

De Laspee, Henry.  Calisthenics; or the elements of bodily culture.  Dublin Quarterly Journal of Medical Science.  Vol. XXIII.  Feb and May 1857.  Dublin: McGlashan and Gill, 1857.

Gentle, David.  Thomas Inch a Pioneer in the Muscle Game.  David Gentle.  Web.  6 Feb 2014.  http://www.davidgentle.com/articles/legends/inch.htm

Karpowicz, Adam and Stephen Selby.  Scythian bow from Xinjiang.  2010.  Web.  7 Feb 2014.  http://www.atarn.org/chinese/Yanghai/Scythian_bow_ATARN.pdf

Kumar, Vinya.  Monohar Aich : Mr. Universe 1952. Sandowplus.  Web.  6 Feb 2014.  http://www.sandowplus.co.uk/India/Monohar/meeting/meeting.htm

Oestmoen, Per Inge.  The Mongolian Bow.  Cold Siberia.  27 Dec 2002.  Web.  7 Feb 2014.  http://www.coldsiberia.org/monbow.htm

Park, Reg.  The Reg Park system of cable training.  Sandowplus.  Web.  6 Feb 2014.  http://www.sandowplus.co.uk/Competition/Park/Cable/park-cable.htm

Todd, Jan.  Strength is health: George Barker Windship and the first American weight training boom.  Iron Game History.  Sep 1993.  Web.  29 Jan 2014.  https://www.academia.edu/3009405/Strength_is_Health_George_Barker_Windship_and_the_First_American_Weight_Training_Boom