Feet Off the Ground

I’ve always wanted to learn how to ride a bike. Seeing fellow city dwellers casually cruising along the bike paths reminds me that I’m missing out on something. Not to mention that there’s finally a bike share program in NYC? Clearly, it is time to join this party.

The fact that I can’t ride a bike isn’t due to a lack of trying, mind you! Oh, I’ve tried! Numerous times throughout both my childhood and early adult life. But there was a disconnect between my body and what it was attempting to achieve. There’s also the fact that I can’t balance worth a damn if I have both feet off the ground.

While my dad has always been an avid cyclist, my mom suffers from the same balance issue as I do. Early on it became clear which ticket I landed with in the genetics lottery. Thankfully, bikenewyork.org are on a ceaseless mission to help folks like me. So, I strapped on my big-girl panties and signed up for one of their free “Learn To Ride” classes that take place every weekend, throughout different parks in the city, for the duration of the summer. Are you praying for me yet?

courtesy of bikenewyork.org

Continue reading

Review: Todd and The Book of Pure Evil

todd

I usually ignore the things that Netflix recommends to me. I have enough on my queue at this point that adding more seems excessive. Then a show popped up called “Todd and The Book of Pure Evil,” and with a title like that, I felt it needed to be checked out. A few days and two seasons later and I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

“Todd and The Book of Pure Evil” is a half-hour long comedy about a high school pothead named Todd who battles demonic forces with the help of his friends. The formula is simple: The Book of Pure Evil winds up in the hands of someone else in the high school, they read from the book, unleashing some odd demonic force on the school that has to be stopped. As they fight, Todd and his friends try and get the book in their possession, while a small satanic cult is also trying to get it. They defeat the evil, and the book disappears.

If I had to describe the show, I’d say it feels like a bunch of high school, metal obsessed stoners decided to rewrite “Evil Dead,” and have it take place in a high school. Continue reading

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor

The_Walking_Dead-_Rise_of_the_Governor

The Walking Dead has become a hit, both in TV and comic form. The comic is usually one of the top sellers in comic stores when it comes out, and the TV show continues to get high ratings every season.  So naturally, when something gets big, tie in media is eventually going to get made. In this case, it’s the book, The Walking Dead: The Rise of the Governor, by Jay Bonansinga and Robert Kirkman.

For anyone that doesn’t know, the Governor, Phillip Blake, is one of the more famous characters from the series. He is the psychotic leader of a small town called Woodbury, which has managed to barely survive the zombie outbreak. The book takes place early on in the outbreak, following Phillip and his friends and family as they survive the zombie apocalypse. Not much is known about the Governor’s past in the comics, and the TV show gave him a little back story, but for the most part his background has remained a mystery until now. Continue reading

The Return of Arrested Development

©2013 NETFLIX  CR: F. Scott Schafer

This article contains no spoilers.

Seven years ago, Fox cancelled a hit TV show because of low ratings. For anyone that knows TV and Fox’s reputation, this should come as no surprise. Fox has always had problems with things like scheduling and properly advertising shows. This has led to the cancellation of popular shows, and these cancellation decisions being reversed, as in the case of “Family Guy”, or shows being picked up by other networks entirely, as Comedy Central did with “Futurama”. Recently though, Netflix’s streaming service started making their own original programming and decided to make fifteen new episodes of “Arrested Development”.

“Arrested Development” was a critically acclaimed comedy about a rich family that owns a housing company, and got caught up and brought down amidst charges of embezzlement and treason. While the premise doesn’t sound funny, the characters are what made the show great. Almost everyone is an example of what a lifetime of living with money can do to a person, and a large portion of their dialogue is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it jokes. It’s a show that feels like it was meant to be watched in blocks, instead of individual episodes, with a lot of foreshadowing and call backs. If you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend it if you like comedy at all. Continue reading

The Wolf Among Us: Why You Should Care

Telltale games recently announced that it would be releasing a game called “The Wolf Among Us,” based on the hit graphic novel, “Fables.” I’m not one to normally buy into hype, or get excited before I see a preview of a game, but the source material and the company working on this project have done very impressive work in the past. Here is a little info on both “Fables” and Telltale, to show why you should be excited too.

wolf1

Continue reading

Behaviorism and Monsters

So I read a completely fictional book a while ago called “John Dies at the End” and part of the hilarious, but nightmarish plot was an idea that monsters from an alternate dimension are currently training Earth children to become a fighting force numb to empathy and remorse. The way they did it was by introducing video games that were increasingly violent. That’s what started my mind turning.

A (not so) quick psychology lesson on behaviorism before I go into the thought that’s been festering in my mind all morning and has finally burst, spreading it’s pus of paranoia and hormonal imbalance and becoming this article.

These days we call behaviorism ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis. You break each task you want to teach, or maybe learn, into small steps, and focus on each step as a goal until it’s achieved, then move on to the next step, reinforcing presenting behaviors as appropriate to your overall target. It’s really operant conditioning that I’m talking about, the proverbial “carrot and stick.” I’m also talking about shaping, one of the most powerful tools psychologists have.

With operant conditioning, you encourage each step with a reinforcer of some sort, prearranging that behavior. With shaping you look for naturally occurring behaviors that you want to reinforce to ensure they are the ones happening more often until maybe a competing behavior is gone completely.

The point is to change a behavior one very small step at a time. However, this approach is used in a social context, so it’s not just scientists screwing with rats and pigeons and whatnot. So we use it to teach kids with autism how to follow routines in school, though conditioning is truly a part of everything we do to teach anyone anything. How often do you tell someone who helped you that you appreciated it? Guess what, you just conditioned that person to help you again in the future. And you know what? The reason you said thanks is because you’re conditioned to praise behaviors you’d like repeated. Like I said, it’s everywhere.

Now onto what’s really on my mind: the brain-washing alternate dimension monster and the shooter games I so enjoy. I love shooter games, and believe that even people who don’t give a crap about video games can still rock a shooting game and ask for more.  Why do I like shooting things in video games? Because I don’t get to go on out on the range anymore, and because I still like  the fact that I can hit a target or because I’m instantly rewarded with points, and a rating, and maybe I’ll get more than the other players. This “liking” is a bit of dopamine and adrenaline my brain sends along like a favorite drug dealing uncle.

Continue reading

On Having the Same Bed-Time as a Five-Year Old

You know what I love? Sleep. I just love the shit out of it! Dreaming, getting all snuggled up in my blankets, reading before bed, hearing the voices in my head get louder and louder until it turns out I’ve crossed the line into the unreality of randomly firing neurons. Oh right, already mentioned dreaming.

Koala sleeping on a tree top
Naps wherever!(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Ever since I confused CrossFit and StrongMan, I’ve been hearing about the Paleo/Primal/Ancestral diet. And as an increasingly obese person, I was motivated to learn and try whatever the hell promised me that my backfat would melt away. As I read about it, it became clear that food, although important, was only a part of a lifestyle overhaul. I realize I’m treading real close to new-age-douche baggery here and will try to mediate it with pictures of cute animals sleeping.

In another post maybe I’ll go more into above-mentioned overhaul, but not today. Advice given to those who are trying to make major changes, is to focus on one thing at a time, and tweak and change it until you feel happy with yourself. This is how I ended up self-imposing an 8:30pm bedtime.

So I gotta get up at 5am. Beelzy and I are trying hard not to drown in our own filth while also eating out as infrequently as possible, and on my end, that means 5am wake ups. Simple math means I need to be asleep by 9 to ensure at least 8 hours.

I decided to try this for 25 days, and like many other things I’ve been trying lately, I think I’m mostly gonna stick to this change.

“But that leaves so little free time,” you may say. Yeah, I guess. I get home around 5, so that’s three and a half hours to… Watch TV? Stare at Facebook? Well, that’s what I used to do when I had more bullshit time to kill. Now it’s just 3.5 hours! Can’t help but take it seriously and do some reading or mess around with the guitar or something….

Kicking Television

YOU ARE MY ZOMBIE GOD NO LONGER!!! (Photo credit: dhammza)

And of course I am less tired, more alert, and way less grumpy at the end of the work day. The nights I do stay out, the sleep debt is insignificant in comparison to how badly it affected me in the past.

20100612 - Food Party in Baltimore - Floristre...

Post-party naps (Photo credit: Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL))

Seemingly unrelated, my quest to become less obese has been helped by this whole lots of sleeping thing. I am literally losing more weight and quicker because I am allowing my body the rest it desires, thereby also allowing it to NOT MAKE ME INSANE. When I am tired, or sad, I tend to want to eat something. Often, it’s something that is either sweet, or salty, or packed with fat. When possible, all three, or at least one of those foods, following another of those foods, followed by another until I can eat no more. Since I now have just enough time to eat dinner, be pleased by life, and then go to bed that whole cycle is utterly moot anyway. But I generally have no need to go there, since as I mentioned, I no longer feel near-dead by 5pm, and don’t feel full of hate.

Internet tells me that this happier, saner, more reasonable being I have become is normal, albeit unheard of in the US.

So fuck conventions! And fuck sleep deprivation pride! You’ve been awake and chugging energy drinks for two days straight? Well, I sleep for at least 8 hours out of every 24, and go to bed at the same time as your preschooler! And it feels gooood!

Baby gorilla having a sleep on his mother

That’s some excellent sleeping there. You’re my hero.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)