Jeremy D Brooks

Archive for March, 2010

I Am Spartacus. No, Wait–I’m Jeremy. Sorry.

by on Mar.22, 2010, under Random Yappings

I’m beat.

I’ve been a fairly regular gym rat since I was nineteen, although I do tend to take months off at a time and, for the most part, eat a horrible, counterproductive diet. Which means: to look at me as a snapshot of my life, you may not know that I’ve been a fairly regular gym rat for any amount of time at all.

I am an easy-gainer, and over the past thirteen years, I have gained and lost tremendous amounts of body weight (I lost over fifty pounds in about five months once). Staying fit is–and always will be–a constant battle for me.

But one thing that I have learned over the years in this struggle is what my body responds to. For the most part, it’s Starving myself and Lifting very, very heavy things.

Summer is basically on our doorstep in the Mojave desert, so, that’s what I’m doing: starving myself and testing gravity as it applies to not only my own body mass, but also bits of metal of varying sizes.

I’ve been on a heavy lifting program since December, and have made some good gains in muscle mass; but my diet and cardio have sucked, so, again, one may not be able to see any difference. But that’s somewhat by design. My strategy–and what has always worked for me–is to gain a lot of muscle, and then drop my calories to about 1700 per day, and keep lifting as heavy as I can 5 times a week.

One new thing I’m doing is a workout I just discovered last week. It was created by the person who trains the actors for the TV show Spartacus: Blood and Sand (think: the ripped, shirtless warriors from 300 engaged in weekly gladiatorial battles), and it was designed to keep all of these actors of various sizes and fitness levels and metabolic rates in TV-ready form every day.

This is not me.

It’s called, unsurprisingly, The Spartacus Workout. And it’s killer. There are ten exercises, and the exerciser/spartan/victim has to perform as many repetitions of the given movement as  physically possible in sixty seconds, rest for fifteen seconds, and then move on to the next movement until all ten movements have been completed, at which time he/she rests for two minutes and starts over again. And then, because two sets isn’t bad enough, he  performs a third set, followed by collapsing into a heap on the smelly rubber floor mats. All told, you are getting your body pounded almost non-stop for about 41 minutes.

So I did Spartacus three times last week, interspersed with heavy weights on odd days. By the time Saturday rolled around, I was dead. I fell asleep sitting in the passenger seat of my wife’s car twice, and the next day slept in until almost 10:00am.

I guess that means it’s working.

Despite the pain and the stress and discomfort and everything that comes with exercising, I love how much energy it gives me once my body catches up. And, I’ve noticed, it has a positive effect on my writing, too. Writing is damn stressful, and it helps me focus when I can keep at least a few of the other things in my life under control.

If you’re interested, the linkie above has a tutorial. There are a few good YouTubelets walking you through it, too. So, have fun and knock yourself out. Then sleep. A lot.

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Wherein I Criticise Criticism

by on Mar.05, 2010, under Random Yappings

I recently started following über-critic Roger Ebert on ze Twitter.

Ebert (of the venerable movie chat teams “Siskel and Ebert”, “Ebert and Roeper”,  “Miami Sound Machine featuring Roger Ebert” and, currently, “Ebert, Ebert, Ebert”) has not lost his voice despite recently losing his ability to speak aloud, and is keeping a very active presence in print media as well as his own blog.

He also tweets a lot. His feed seems to be quartered between interesting news items, movie reviews, political jibes, and self-promotion.

My first thought was That’s great–old dog, new tricks. After a few days, I realized that not only is he consistent with ze tweetzing, but, he’s almost obsessive. His tweet volume, at least for my feed, is second only to Kevin Smith (whom I recently unfollowed due to his massive outflow of sequentially numbered litanies).

I then pondered what the daily life of a movie critic probably looks like, and realized that he just has a shitload of time on his hands and a very active, inquisitive, and opinionated mind.

Which is cool. Go, Roger.

It still seems bizarre to me that there is a category of job in the world where all you do is discuss other people’s work. I appreciate that there are people like Ebert who have studied the trade and works, gone to film school, watched all of the good, bad, and in-between flicks, and has a fully-formed, educated opinion to present to me. Here is an excerpt from Ebert’s recent review of Kevin Smith’s “Cop Out”:

If you combine the enthusiasms of a geek with the toilet humor of a third grader, you’ll be pretty close to defining the art of Kevin Smith.

To contrast Ebert’s biting-but-measured critique of Smith, I also offer the opening lines of Matt “Filthy” Weatherford’s review of Cop Out:

I don’t care how many orifices you have, Cop Out will fuck you in all of them. Your ass, mouth, nostrils, between your toes. You got pierced ears? Expect to find director Kevin Smith’s dick in them before you get out of the theater.

Which is a more valid opinion? I don’t know. They both tell the same story; but, honestly, Matt is a hell of a lot more fun to read.

So, what’s my point? I don’t know. Maybe that it’s weird that critics can garner so much attention and make a living without actually producing anything but, well, criticisms.

Maybe I’m trying to contrast film-school knowledge with real-world, Joe Sixpack sensibilities.

And maybe I don’t have a point…maybe I was just distracting you long enough for my pet ferret to steal your wallet! Run, Guiseppe, run!

Good boy, Guiseppe. Good boy.

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Call For Readers

by on Mar.03, 2010, under Writing

Writing a novel is like what I imagine it would be like getting lost in some vast, unfamiliar world.

The terrain is strange. Each step has to be measured and intentional; every corner and bend holds the potential for any number of horrible, disastrous outcomes–but also an infinitesimal chance of finding great and wonderful things on the path, like German Chocolate cake or Amazon.com gift cards.

I guess that’s what gets us hooked on writing: finding gems in the detritus.

I have read through my current WIP–a 65k to-be-classified (socio-political urban adventure? techno-thriller?) work called amity–so many times that I am damn near numb to it. I’m so close to the story and the characters that I’m no longer aware of if I just stepped in chocolate mousse or dog crap.

There are parts where I still laugh out loud on the third reading, and some parts where it just seems so dark that my MC seems doomed without recourse, and some parts that truly do seem good and redeeming. But I’m too entrenched in the story in my mind to be objective. If you’ve ever written anything, you know what I’m talking about.

I need some help. I need beta readers.

I need to know if what I’ve written makes sense, where it lacks, if it flows well, if the characters are what I intended, etc. Detailed analysis is always more than welcome, but at the very least, I need some folks to skim the story to see if it’s any good.

Cook Bank in Rhyolite, NV

I’ve beta-read for a few folks, and I know how time-consuming it can be, and how hard it is to give critical feedback to people that you don’t want to offend. But, in keeping in the spirit of Writing (capital W), I can dish it out, and I can take it–because I know it’s all for the benefit of the story.

If you would be interested in getting your hot little hands on amity, please let me know. I would be eternally grateful, and, of course, will be indebted to you when you need someone to read your pre-published work. I can email it or, if you prefer, can print it out and mail.

If you’re interested, leave a comment below, drop me a line at jdb@jeremydbrooks.com, or ping me on ze twitter.

Thank you, thank you, thank you…

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