Yesterday, I stumbled across this cover of "Let It Go" by the French deathcore band Betraying the Martyrs.
I'm not even generally that fond of deathcore, but this is well worth a listen. (If the growling vocals put you off, try to at least listen through the first chorus - from that point on, the song does a better job of balancing the harsh and melodic vocal elements.) I like the fact that, unlike many metal covers of pop songs, this isn't just a tongue-in-cheek exercise in seeing how silly you can make a pop tune sound with death growls and palm-muted guitar riffs stuck on it - it feels to me like the band genuinely put a lot of work into making the song work in a different genre. I actually think that if you somehow hadn't seen Frozen or heard the original song ever before, it might never occur to you that this song was not originally conceived as deathcore. Lyrically, it even fits pretty well into a long lineage of deathcore songs about alienation and power fantasy - although on average deathcore lyricists tend to use more swear words and more explicitly violent/destructive imagery.
"We're going for a deadlift record today," my trainer told me when I arrived at the gym today.
I thought, "We just set a deadlift record two weeks ago, but this is the hour during which I pay you to tell me what to do, so let's do it."
So, we started with a warmup set at 115lbs, and worked our way up. And we set a record twice: I did 3 reps at 165lbs, and then a single at 170lbs.
I have no idea how my trainer knew that I had that extra 10lbs in me today, but that is why I have a trainer.
I spent three hours or so this afternoon playing Lego Star Wars with Younger Nephew. It's pretty neat to observe the difference between the first time we gamed together, back in November or so: his hand-eye coordination is better, his problem solving skills are better (he not only solved some of the puzzles himself, but was much quicker to grasp what I was getting at when I suggested a solution to a puzzle), and his attention span was much longer. He's even more fun to play with than he was before.
He's also really into Star Wars.
I also got an interesting demonstration of the development of the capacity for delayed gratification: when his dad came to pick him up and we had finished playing, Younger Nephew wandered into the kitchen. I asked him if he was hungry or thirsty, and he asked if he could look in the fridge. I told him he could, and he opened the fridge, spotted a Cherry Coke Zero, and asked if he could have it. I said, "Yes, if your dad says it's okay."
His dad said, "Well, you can have the Cherry Coke now, or we can go get ice cream and you can have ice cream."
Younger Nephew looked very thoughtfully at the Cherry Coke for about 30 seconds.
"You get to pick," I said. "But I think I would go for the ice cream."
He looked thoughtfully at the Coke a bit longer, sighed, and said, "I think you are right." And put the Coke back in the fridge.
That was such a hard decision for the little guy.
I'm really happy with the progress I've been making on the deadlift lately. It demonstrates for me what you can accomplish with a good program and some persistence. And so I decided that it was probably time to get back to working on push ups.
Push ups are second only to squats as the bane of my strength training existence. However, unlike squats, where I have a wide assortment of biomechanical and mobility issues that make it impossible for me to do the exercise with perfect form, the only thing holding me back on the push up is that the muscles needed to do it are weak. I can do a push up with perfect form - the problem is that I can do exactly one push up with perfect form.
I was actually making good (if slow) progress on push ups back before my shoulder injury. Then I pretty much had to quit doing most forms of pushing/pressing exercise while I dealt with the injury. So here I am, pretty much back at square one. Maybe not quite - I know that my abs, deltoids, and triceps are stronger than they were, but until the pectoralis major starts to catch up, that difference doesn't actually seem to translate into more push ups.
So, here is my plan for not sucking at push ups:
1) Once or twice a week, at the gym: Do 2-3 sets of as many reps as I can manage with my hands elevated on a weight bench. Then do 2-3 sets of 10 reps of negatives - this is where you start at the top part of the push up and lower yourself down slowly.
2) On other days, when not suffering from ridiculous DOMS from step 1, do at least 2 sets of 10-12 push ups with my hands elevated on the kitchen counter.
Eventually, I should progress enough so that I don't have to elevate my hands for part 1. Or even part 2.
Here's how the first week went. I discovered that I could do 2-3 good push ups with my hands elevated on the bench, so I did my 3 sets, and then did 3 sets of 10 negatives. Possibly I overdid it a bit, because I spent the next two days trying to invent ways of opening door that didn't involve straightening my arm because my triceps hurt so much.
And after that, I did my sets with my hands on the kitchen counter every day.
Went to the gym today, put my hands on the weight bench, and managed...1 push up.
This is not progress, folks. This is also not meaningful, because it's been 1 week and because strength is just weird that way. I did my sets (of 1 rep!) and then I did 2 sets of negatives. I alternated them with goblet squats, because why not do all the things you suck at together? (I think I'm actually getting better at the goblet squat.)
And then I went and knocked 5 seconds of my previous best 200m time on the rowing machine. (New best time: 55 seconds. I am under no illusions that this is impressive, but it's progress.)
So, there we have it. If my deadlift postings have left you with any kind of impression that I'm some sort of badass, know that I struggle to do push ups and will probably have trouble opening my car door from the inside tomorrow. But we all gotta start somewhere.
I deadlifted 160lbs today. Twice.
The other guy who was there and his trainer stopped their set to congratulate me. ;)
I'm having some difficulty keeping my grip with my left hand at heavier weight, so I've been practicing the hook grip, which is effective but painful.
I have just replaced my increasingly unreliable 13-year-old printer with a brand-new Epson inkjet. It prints, it scans, it copies, it makes a mean strawberry daiquiri*.
Setup was fairly smooth, but when I installed the printer drivers, I got a little popup that said something like, "Print queue was not added. Please consult the User's guide for instructions on adding a print queue manually." So, I found the online User's guide, found its nice search box, and put in "add print queue."
Okay. I tried just searching for "queue". No hits.
Scanned through the table of contents looking for anything that resembles adding a print queue. No hits.
Memo to all those software developers out there: if you're going to put text in the user interface of your software telling people to look in the manual for something, please tell the person who writes your manual that you've done that.
* Okay, it doesn't make strawberry daiquiris, but in this weather, it totally should.
I'm really liking Spotify's new "Discover Weekly" playlist. Every Monday, I get a new playlist of about 2 hours of songs that Spotify thinks I'll like, based on my previous listening history. It's much more varied and interesting than what I usually get out of Spotify radio, and requires less effort than manually clicking through a list of recommended artists and albums. It's kind of a stupidly simple idea, but it works.
One of my favorite discoveries to come out of this so far is a band called Unleash the Archers. Like all my favorite power metal, they go straight for that part of your brain that wanted to be your D&D character when you were twelve. Plus, lead their singer is pretty impressive.
Plus, they are totally rocking a Mad Max thing in this video:
Today's workout: deadlift + hang clean + split jerk. Just using the barbell with no additional weight. Kinda hard to get the timing on the split jerk right: holding the bar at shoulder height, you squat down slightly and then use the momentum of straightening your hips to shove the bar upward while you jump your feet forward and back so that you land in a split stance. Time it right and you get a nice satisfying clunk out of the bar as everything locks into place at once. Time it wrong and you land in a split stance and still have to muscle the bar upward another few inches using sheer strength. It actually feels pretty badass even if you do it wrong. Doing it right feels amazing. Also exhausting. I thought the deadlift was a full body lift, but this is something else.
The eventual progression from this is being able to do a proper Olympic clean and jerk
. Which would be super awesome.
I was quite...startled is the word, I suppose...to discover that the actor who voiced Blackwall in Dragon Age: Inquistion is voicing a mohawk-wearing tattooed dwarven crime boss named "The Cleaver" in The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.
Though a real lack of typecasting would involve a fantasy game where the guys with Northern accents all got to be well-dressed posh bastards. I won't hold my breath.