Showing posts from September, 2009

Celebrating the Body

I spent Saturday night staring at a bunch of half-naked men By the end of Saturday night I jumped rows to get a better view of a guy's amazing...uh, lats Where to begin? While driving to see my first bodybuilding competition yesterday evening, I passed a Hooters and started to worry. What if the people who buy tickets to such events are there simply to ogle, and what if the events themselves exist for the ogling? Once the bikini division had sashayed away, the figure competitors waddled off in their five-inch heels, and the fitness models revealed their amazing wax jobs completed their cartwheels, the bodybuilders came on stage and I understood what was going on. A celebration of the body. Permission to linger over these well-oiled (yes) machines, carriers --and, often, cause--of our hopes, dreams, and insecurities. Like beautiful ballet...danced to Metallica. Beauty arrives in this context when genetics meets discipline. Nearly any healthy person with somewhat symmetrical form c

Everything's Art 2

A man spending 2 weeks atop a giant easel in the name of peace. A Live Statue. A room covered in pink icing. We're loving ArtPrize.

Everything's Coming Up Art

Theo and I took in well over a hundred pieces of art today thanks to ArtPrize . Over a thousand artists are competing here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the world's largest art cash prizes, which total $449,000. 159 venues within a three-mile radius of downtown Grand Rapids feature a wide range of art. Murals, a 75-foot doll, a giant red ball squished into different locations daily. 100,000 paper airplanes flown from the tops of buildings. A guy spending a few days atop a crane. That's art, people. In fact, everything was looking like art by the time we were done. How cool is Grand Rapids?

Meeting Ourselves

Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves. --James Joyce, Ulysses As I planned this week's theatre games for the women at the overnight shelter, two thoughts dominated the process.

This is Getting Better All the Time

Because my article on the bodybuilding website is new, it temporarily has a link from the homepage. My essay on the Russian writer Tolstoy is featured below an ad for HEMO-RAGE , which claims to be "one of the meanest, strongest and cruelest pre-workout detonator this planet has ever seen." Its creators "went down to the laboratory and cooked up one of the most vicious blends of raging energy inducing, strength signaling, blood volume expanding, pump activating, extreme focus enhancing, fat detonating and muscle building compounds imaginable." They needed "extra insurance to be able to bring this explosive concoction to you. " HEMO-RAGE sounds a little too much like hemorrhage to me, but if you, gentle reader, are interested in purchasing it, please first note the warning : "NOT FOR USE BY WIMPS. NOT TO BE USED BY ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 21 OR THE UNDEDICATED AND/OR WEAK-HEARTED."

Taking Tolstoy to the Muscled Masses

A bodybuilding website has published my essay on Tolstoy and weightlifting here . As you approach the middle of the article, glance at the ad to the left for QuickMass, cookies & cream flavor, and help me figure out what body part is featured there. I'm thinking it's an arm, but there's a belly button-looking thing, too. I just don't know. I guess even experienced fitness writers like myself (it's been an hour, after all) have a lot to learn.

Don't Stop Til You Get Enough

On Monday night I arrived armed with a boombox, Michael Jackson cds, and the thought that a dance party would do us all good. How often do homeless women get to listen to music or let go and dance? MJ, the most gregarious of the bunch, was at the door while I was getting buzzed in. This is for you , I said, gesturing with the boombox. Oh yeah? She left her boyfriend in the cloud of weed and followed me up the stairs. Once word got out, "The Way You Make Me Feel" was the winning request; often it was just MJ out dancing in front of the others, but most everyone was groovin' a little in their seats and enjoying the show. After, I told them how I keep thinking about Michael Jackson lately. How, along with the rest of the world, I was rediscovering his music and awed again by his dancing. How I was thinking we don't appreciate people enough while they're living. Here we all are, thinking he's a major talent but keeping our distance because he had turned a lit

Sticking Points

Some major gains were had Monday night at the YMCA and at Degage. Experiences at the one often inform those at the other, as I mentioned recently, and Monday was no exception. At the YMCA I beat my own record of reps at the higher weights, which was a welcome event after weeks of seeing no obvious progress. Better still, this success came at moments when I met up with my sticking points and was finally able to push on through. Sticking points are just that: places where you get stuck and can't get the bar past that point, usually when you're repping out. Strength has something to do with it, as does technique, but they're a bugger either way. Aside from the times when I'm out of power and can't get the thing off my chest, my sticking point usually happens midway up--I'm strong enough to hold the bar there until I'm rescued, but I can't do much else. A remedy for sticking points involves setting yourself up at a Smith machine or other cage that can hold t

Monday's Challenges

I really just hate benching 65 pounds. In order to lift your heaviest, you need to warm up at a lower weight. 65, 75 is enough to wake my muscles but not sap any strength needed for the remaining sets, but the bar is bouncy at this weight, flying up and down with a little spring in its step, and I get more nervous with each rep. Did I struggle a little there? At sixty-five ? Should I hang my hat now and forget about 115? When I move up to sets at 90, 95, all the necessary muscles come into play, even the upper back and quads. The bar feels solid coming down and going back up, like wading through water. 3 sets of 5 reps at 9o feels good. On the decline bench, where your head is much lower than your knees, I can do twice as many reps at 90, and that's really fun. Greg, who spots me, has a slightly different take on the situation, as he's getting the spray from me huffing my way through 3 sets of 10 reps at 90. But as far as I'm concerned, it's a ball of fun. But load the

Five Inches Are Better Than Four

Each of us can point to moments in our lives when our senses are awakened, when the world comes into focus in a new way. The majesty of a sunset stirs our longings for the greater good. A passage in a book articulates something we've always known but couldn't put into words. When we experience these precious moments, something deep and meaningful inspires our very souls. Mine happened at a strip joint. I was driving by The Velvet Touch when I saw the sign: AMATEUR NIGHT TUESDAY. By gum, I said to myself: I could be a stripper . Of all the things I had thought to do with my life--writer? editor? director? urban planner?--I hadn't considered synchronizing my undressing with music, because God hadn't give me the right goods. There were other considerations, too, of course--I mean, I can't really walk well in heels--but now all that was tossed to the side like so many clothes, and the doors to my future flew wide open. We're told in this country that we can be any

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

Alien Kitties Landed In My Yard


A Poll

Which do you find more frightening? (a) the hissing cockroach in the previous post (b) a remote-controlled tarantula (c) a party with 6 kids wearing 3-D glasses

Roach Rescue

...............Holy hissing roaches, Batman! Cockroach #1 disappeared while playing in a LEGO fort; yesterday, #2 nearly became a permanent part of the Bat Cave. Special thanks to Greg and his work deconstructing the Bat Steps, which made just enough room for me to get in there and execute the final stage of the rescue. This reminds me of the "dead mouse in the washing machine" incident of our early married days, except no one threw up this time. No roaches were harmed in the filming of this rescue.

Up Against the Wall

To move a car you must push a wall. According to trainer Lori Incledon , a great StrongWoman exercise to help you work up to moving cars is simply to push as hard as you can against a wall. I tried this the other day and hurt myself. I'm always hurting myself, but when I do it trying something ridiculous I just want to give myself a good kick in the pants, which would hurt even more. No one's going to move a wall. Well, maybe this guy could, but the rest of us would just be huffing and puffing. After trying to move a wall, though, a car is nothing . At least I assume so, but I haven't tried it yet, because I hurt myself. Remember? This week I've got a bum knee, an inflamed bicep tendon, and a fickle lower back. I can't do much about any of these except hope they get better, because I'm like a schoolgirl in love when it comes to weightlifting. Maybe it's mixing metaphors to say it, but right now these injuries are my walls. They test my patience, endurance,

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