Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Don't Fear the Reaper.

There have been three moments in my life when I thought I was going to die. When I was fifteen I was run over by a car while walking to school, (unhurt despite bouncing off the windscreen and into the gutter).  The second time when I was a crane driver in a saw mill and a two ton stack of wood toppled over onto me (broken shin and gashed open thumb only, miraculously) and thirdly when a female police officer drew her gun on me in Boston, Massachusetts (I might tell you about that one sometime, but today I am on other business).

None of these were bad news from a grim-faced doctor telling me how my body was broken down and giving me a time limit to face the inevitable.
These were instantaneous, adrenaline-flooded moments where the vague, far off notion of death that most of us normally have was suddenly cold, hard and looking at me with its big bony face.

It was like suddenly being crash-dumped into my own body, I had a few seconds of being suddenly aware of my own mortality and could feel the weight of my muscles and bones and my heart pumping blood through my veins and the realization that I might suddenly lose all of this.

The point I am trying to make (apart from trying to make myself sound cool and tough) is that for most of my life I seem to be cruising around on auto pilot as though I’m watching a movie of my life rather than actually living it.  I’m aware of my body and the people around me but always seem to be, I don’t know, distracted or something.
We walk around talking into little electronic gadgets, listening to iPods or pratting about on Warcraft. We take substances to alter our physical and mental states, we invent various gods in an attempt to make sense of what we don’t understand.

But very occasionally, while lying in bed or sitting on a train I suddenly become aware of the shape that my body makes in the world and all the people around me and how everything is made of the same stuff, how connected and yet how fragile life is.

It’s like a light bulb going on in my mind that fills me with happiness and sadness at the same time and feels like I should be this way all the time, not sleep walking though the only life I’ll get.
It reminds me of something a Russian cosmonaut once said about looking through the window of a spaceship down at the Earth.  He could see cities and rivers and farms and forests and deserts but he could also see the infinite blackness of space all around it and he realised that from the surface the Earth seems huge but from up there it is tiny, it took only minutes for him to orbit this little glowing rock.

 I try to hang onto this awareness but inevitably the mundane starts crowding out the sublime and I find myself worrying about the mortgage, what I am going to have for dinner or Jennifer Lopez’s cellulite. The reality filter is switched back on..

Time for bed.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Bastard Pandas.

Woo hoo, we've got two giant Pandas in the UK at Edinburgh zoo. Two fat, sponging layabouts who sit around on their black and white arses eating twigs all day while hordes of gawping morons queue up to take pictures of their lack of activity.

Ok, maybe I'm being needlessly harsh on pandas, is it their fault that they have managed to evolve themselves down a dead end? Slow-moving and and an easy target to hit, they can only eat bamboo and are fertile a pitiful for 72 hours every year.

Let's face it, they are going to die out. I know it is sad and I don't wish for it to happen but hey, we'll be extinct one day too. What I don't get is the hordes of people who wind themselves up into Panda frenzy, queuing overnight at the zoo in tshirts with pictures of pandas on them.

Go to bloody work you people!

The main reason that millions have been spent trying to save the panda is that they are cute. If they had a face like a cat's arse and and looked like a bag of spanners then they would already be gone. Humans only like the cute animals.

Denis Leary essentially stole his stand up act from the more talented Bill Hicks but he was right when he pointed out people telling him not to eat tuna because dolphins were getting caught in the nets. Well what about the tuna getting caught in nets? Fuck 'em, they're a sandwich.

Friday, 6 January 2012

New Year Fat Shows

You know it's a New Year by all the weight loss shows on the telly and my gym is full of new members looking uncertainly at gym equipment and clutching the free towels they received when they joined. Here are some of the weight loss shows currently guilting the public into losing the Christmas fat.

Fat Families is a British offering hosted by a bloke called Steve Miller who looks like a DJ from a hospital radio station in his groovy red framed glasses. Each week he berates a hapless family who have all managed to eat themselves into the world of fatness. His slightly camp demeanour and insistence on alliteration when addressing the families sets my teeth on edge after about five minutes of watching.

Calling them 'chunky chubbies' and 'wobbly widebottoms' can't do a lot for their self esteem, something that might have got them into this state in the first place.

Fat Fighters is another British offering that follows the personal trainers in a London gym and shows the lengths they go to in a competitive market. They are led by a huge bloke from California called Mark 'The Pillar' Miller who looks like a giant neck. Mark plans to use his Californian sense of optimism to galvanise overweight, gloomy Brits into taking care of themselves.

He is likeable and knows what he is talking about however he has a disconcerting habit of looking fully into camera when he is lifting enormous weights, his bulging veins and sweating purple face gives the viewer an idea of what they would be looking at if he had sex with them.
Amongst the trainers is an East European woman who looks about seven foot tall and wears rubber bondage gear and cracks a whip when she runs her classes.
I'm hooked.

But the grandaddy of them all is The Biggest Loser. I've tried watching the Australian and British versions but these are watered down and pale in comparison with the American original, which is bigger, louder and better produced.
The contestants spend three months on a ranch concentrating fully on weight loss, the one who loses the most weight walks away with quarter of a million dollars.

Managing their training regime are the good cop/bad cop combination of Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels, two of the best trainers I have seen. They don't just shout at people to work harder but get inside their heads until the contestants face up to the reasons they have put so much weight on.
Quite often these people have suffered a tragedy in their lives or horrendous bullying and have spiralled into comfort eating.
One of the reasons I enjoy this show is watching the contestants become more empowered with each episode as they become fitter and more confident in themselves.

This is something that weight loss surgery could never achieve.

The Biggest Loser is addictive stuff and tonight I will be sitting down to watch it with my wife, a bottle of wine and a big packet of crisps.

Then going to the gym to work the crisps off.