Sunday, 30 June 2013

Three Strikes: Week 31


Bicep curl: up 2 notches

For the last 5 weeks I've cut down on cardio and focussed on weights. I've smashed 12 PBs, piled on 3K and got a little closer to the physique I head in my younger days. My jeans feel tighter around my thighs, and my t-shirts grip my upper arms more. Question: Do I now start to mix in cardio again, or leave all of these until I've struck out on all of the weight machines (if ever)? I was in the best shape when I did mostly weights. But don't I want an all-round fitness? If I ever do get back into MMA, I'll need some stamina. We'll have to see. What would you recommend?

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A Turn of Phrase

Dish out slips of paper to the group. Each member thinks of a common phrase and writes it on the slip. Fold it up. Throw it into the middle of the table with the rest. Mix them up. Each member picks out a slip.

We now each have a phrase on which to base a vignette. Take that phrase literally and see where it takes you.

Here’s my attempt. Can you guess what the phrase is?

He decided he was a genius. He sat in the classroom denouncing Pythagoras theorem.

This shouldn’t work,” he told his teacher. “It shouldn’t add up the way it does.”

The teacher tapped the triangle on the whiteboard. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “You don’t need to ask why it works. You don’t need to work it out. If you accept it, you’re half-way there.”

John looked at the triangle. His future hinged on his ability to grasp mathematics- the art of thought, of cognition. I must do this, thought John.

He closed his eyes. He had no idea who Pythagoras was. He sounded Greek. He imagined he’d be ancient- Greece has its ancient history. His mind soared.

He saw himself flying over open scrubland in baking heat. In the distance: a white foaming border of surf. Below him: stone statues of dis-robed people and elegantly carved columns.

From the horizon, a giant line appeared. It moved, tipping upward, revealing a flat triangle. Cheesy eighties electronics filled the desert. It was right-angled, like the shapes Pythagoras obsessed over. A synthesised whooshing announced the appearance of two purple squares on the shorter edges of the triangle. They were labelled “A” and “B”.

An orange square burst into view on the edge of the hypotenuse, labelled “C”, as the electronica hit a rousing crescendo. An LCD display ran through the Greek sky.


He got it.

Did you get it? Probably not. I didn't exactly stick to the script. The phrase I got was…

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

I really could not think of anything. I just had to write something as quickly as possible. Maybe daydreaming and electro-pop can help people grasp mathematical concepts. But again, probably not.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Three Strikes: Week 30

I realise how sad this is, but you know what my biggest achievement is this week? I got 65 likes on a comment on a picture on Facebook.

Also, on a more serious note, I was part of a public-led social media campaign to bring an abusive husband to justice. Last week Advertising magnate Charles Saatchi was photographed gripping hiswife Nigella Lawson by the throat in a public restaurant. She reportedly- and rightfully- wants a divorce.

Lawson is more than a celebrity chef- she's a role model for women everywhere. She's well aware that if she goes back to Saatchi, her career will be ruined. She'll also be delivering the message that it's okay to put up with an abusive partner. If she splits, she'll be a stronger role model than ever.

This tweet got more retweets than I've ever had- more than any joke or general observation. I'm cautious about mentioning this as I don't want to be seen in revelling in someone elses misery. Domestic abuse is a huge problem in the UK, with an incident of this nature being reported to the police every minute of every day.

Sharing information and allowing people to know what's happening in the world is something that I'm becoming increasingly passionate about, so I'm glad I could be part of the online tidal wave that is currently exposing Saatchi's behaviour. And if it helps address the issue on a larger scale, I'm glad I could do that too. Twitter and Facebook quickly caught up with Saatchi on the day, quickly leaving him with no-where to hide.

Bicep curl: up 1 notch
Chest press with horizontal grip: up 1 notch. I'm now lifting as much as I was before I moved out in 2010.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Movie Month

Pic Courtesy Gomattolson, Flickr

It's about time I caught up on films. In my younger days I was a major film buff- before I discovered alcohol, women, literature, house music, martial arts, gym and, well, other vices.

Previously, if I heard a conversation about films happening nearby, I'd try and involve myself in it because I'd probably know what they were talking about. Between 15 and 18, films were MY LIFE. My trivia was shit-hot, I was highly critical of mediocre movies, and I sought out all the old classics from every decade for my burgeoning collection.

Then I got to university. I started to realise I needed to get out more. I'd studied media for that long before I even got there that watching any form of media was now “work”- I was in analysis-mode the moment the film began, the moment I turned the TV on, the moment I heard the radio.

I started to go off it all. But I ploughed on with the course regardless. I still love bars and clubs today and still want to get out as much as possible, but now when people discuss films, there's a good chance I won't have seen it if it's a recent movie. So, for the next month I'm going to sit and watch a load of films. Yes, how outgoing and exciting of me.

I've got a list of films to check out. What's your recommendation?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Month of Erotica.

Pic courtesy Daf_ne, Flickr

I've spent the last month working on erotic fiction and poetry. Over the last few years, I've written a few adult stories and poems and left them on the shelf whilst I worked on other projects. Eventually- this last month- I've got 'round to doing something with them. I've been hammering feedback site Scribophile, receiving some helpful and encouraging critiques.


I've made newer, sharper drafts off the back of this. My plan was to fire them out to magazines, using some publishing resources I've recently found.

I've been juggling a number of problems this month alongside writing- a few Inland Revenue forms have slowed me down, as have many other tasks, so I couldn't go full pelt into getting this material published. I did, however, manage to get all the feedback I needed, which included mind-opening suggestions and a few good instances where reviewers spotted errors. I managed to redraft the three pieces, and they're ready to go.

Right before the deadline I managed to bash out a haiku as well! Win!

There's a big upside to focussing on a specific genre of writing. The work that you might have buried away, or that you have been avoiding seeking critiques on (especially if it's erotica), you'll force yourself to look over and make those long-needed adjustments. It also means that you can put any other projects you might be working on to one side. If you're going to focus on a genre, say erotica, sacrifice the other things that take up your time. Leave watching the movie 'til next month. Don't rewrite that short SF story- shelve it and look at it after the current project is over. Put yourself under a bit of pressure. Spend your time sticking to the plan, and you'll see results. It worked for me.

Expect another publishing project soon...

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

We've all been there

Finding the balance
between being drunk enough
and plain ol' too drunk.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Three Strikes: Week 29

I'm smashing through problems at the moment.

An insanely complicated Inland Revenue form was hanging over me like a curse this week. I managed to get hold of Fluffy Oakes, who has a bit of knowledge about income-related issues, gave me a hand filling that in.

Same old: I'm hammering through Scribophile, getting good feedback on stories and poems that you'll see through this site soon. At the gym, I'm working on movements I haven't looked at in 18 months in some cases. Mixing cardio into workouts has caused me to lose a LOT of strength, it seems, but despite this I've still beat one personal best.

Chest Press with horizontal grip: up 1 notch.

PBs will be thin on the ground for the next few months, I suspect, but essentially, this doesn't matter. I go to the gym to get in shape, and that's what's happening right now. Even if I don't beat a PB, I'm still gaining strength.

Take Leg Press, for example. My PB is plate 13. I hit this in May 2011. This month, I started working on this machine as part of the Three Strikes project. My first strike was at plate 9. Ignoring such a massive muscle group has damaged me. Even the countless running sessions I did didn't get me close to keeping at that level of strength. The next day, I tried again, hitting plate 10, then plate 11 the following day. This being the third strike, I won't be going back to leg press for the foreseeable future.

This is one drawback to the Three Strikes project: sometimes three gym sessions aren't enough to get your strength up to a level you're happy with. You can see yourself improve, but not enough to bring yourself back to a previous level of strength. Essentially, though, if you record the weight you lift when you hit a strike, you can still see your strength increase.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Three Strikes: Week 28

It was just one of those days
when I wanted to catch sunrays
Fun to get blunted on a Sunday, afternoon
-Akrite, Dr Dre.

Had a “mate date” on Thursday. Cooked pizza Margherita from scratch for a girl I know. So technically, I've now cooked for family, cooked for colleagues and cooked for a woman.

I've also been getting' the vit-D while the getting' is good. I've spend hours this weekend reading in the sun, breathing in the street's cannabis-laced air and watching the locals get bollocked by the police for playing Dr. Dre's 2001 album at concert-level volume.

Two PBs this week:
Seated row (vertical grip)- 2 notches.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Scenes from the Manchester Day Parade

Yesterday my city saw the Manchester Day Parade, a celebration of the creativity and diversity synonymous with Manchester and a chance for local charities and organisations to gain exposure. Many groups took advantage of this with elaborately designed floats, impressive costumes and freaky but skillfully-designed floats.

I went to check out the event as the groups marched/danced/carried large scale effigies down Deansgate and Quay Street. For more info see #MCRDay on Twitter.