Sunday, January 18, 2015

Don Jon: Thoughts on a Movie

I watched Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon Sunday night on Netflix. It's streaming now if you're interested. He starred in and directed this movie about a man who sucked at interpersonal relationships, ostensibly because he had a porn addiction. He watched a lot, a LOT of online porn.

I used to watch a lot of porn, a LOT of porn. It was part of my job honestly. I was an area supervisor type for a nationwide chain of adult book stores. Knowing what I was selling really was part of the job. The thing with porn is it's, and this might come as a surprise to a lot of people, it's having a hard time right now. The big studios of yesteryear, Wicked, Vivid, Evil Angel... they're facing competition from the thing that porn has been accused of being for a long time. Porn is accused of not being real. Real people don't act like that. Real people don't have sex like that. Real people don't do those things. So, when a person sees sex in a porn they try it with their partner, or want to, or think about it... and it doesn't always go as portrayed in the movies.

Competition from online porn, amateur stuff and small studio stuff using real people who do a shot for a pittance and it's only somewhat lit well and the camera work's not all that great and the lighting's barely good enough to see their faces but who cares? A lot of porn is about imagining someone else in there anyway right? The reason Ron Jeremy got work for so long is that men were the primary consumers of porn and they were imagining they were him... and it wasn't that tough. He was a short hairy fat guy... all they really had to switch out was his face. The rest looked about right... except maybe for the giant schlong, but hey... if they're imagining, why not imagine a third leg down there right?

So the upstart porn online now... the amateur stuff, the stuff that's readily available out there, selfies, phone cam stuff on sites I'm NOT linking to but they're not hard to find... that stuff has real people doing things real people do and has people doing things they've seen in movies that maybe they do and maybe they don't do. The lines are blurring though between what's real and what's not real in the world of porn.

I don't know that sexual expectations are the primary thing that online porn is giving people unreasonable expectations about any more. I think it's probably body image. The amateur stuff has all sorts of body types but if you sort by most viewed or by highest rated... what floats to the top is typically not the best sex or most interesting sex but is, in fact, the prettiest people. So now you're not seeing crazy weird sex with unattainable stars from big studios. You're seeing all sorts of sex, regular, leaded, unleaded, high octane and racing grade sex from what appears to be regular people because that's what the sites purport to be, that's what they feel like. That's what they are really... but it's the hottest of the regular people so the average guy or gal is watching it and comparing themselves to the regular people and forgetting the algorithm that sorts their viewing options is skewing it toward the hottest ones.

Is porn healthy? Sure. I think it can be. I've seen lots of couples shop for it together. I've seen guys come in who want it occasionally and check out the toys or lube or movies... not like it used to be... mostly porn is coming online now and not from video rentals if you're 50 or under. I've also known people who got movies all the time, hundreds, thousands of dollars worth of porn over decades. Those people aren't necessarily in healthy relationships, but I don't think the porn is the cause or even a symptom as much as it is an indicator that something is amiss in how they relate to themselves or others. I think porn is a lot like dessert. It can be fine in moderation or to accent a relationship but I don't think a steady diet of just that would be a great idea. Do people *need* porn? Mostly no. Mostly nobody *needs* dessert either but both are pretty commonly consumed by people out there and it's not just people who have problems.

The movie got me thinking about porn and the people who consume porn.

One hundred days...

Today is a milestone of sorts. I have logged into MyFitnessPal for almost a hundred days in a row (92, that's close to a hundred, right?) and I've gone a hundred days in a row with no cigarettes. I've gotten a couple new pairs of pants that fit me at my new weight so I won't hear that my pants are too baggy any more and it was warm enough today to go for a walk outside without dressing like the kid from A Christmas Story. So far this has been a good year.

The pants I got were from amazon and I suck at buying clothes online because I like to see how they fit before I buy them. I like to see the color and hold them, feel the material, see if they're right. Well, these fit great and the color's good for work. The material feels like a cross between sail cloth and sacking though. I'm not in love with how it feels on my skin and that's after washing them with fabric softener and using dryer sheets too.

They're Dickies and they fit well and they look good. I'm not a super fan of the material, but I think they'll get more comfortable as they get broken in. So, yeah... lots of good healthy things happening in the past hundred days. I'm looking forward to keeping it up.

Also been working on my brain and have been spending a lot of time at khanacademy.org. I really recommend it. It's a lot of fun.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Not Resolutions: Small Changes

New years & new resolutions seem to go hand in hand. I suck at resolutions. They're typically too big, too much, and too ambitious.

What I am good at are small changes. I first heard of them as real methods for change and techniques on how to do it and why small changes are important while reading The Spark by Chris Downie of sparkpeople.com, a site I've talked about liking before.

Some of the small changes I've made seem big but they're not when taken in small bits. I take vitamins I think will help. I exercise. I eat right. Those aren't all things I used to do and I didn't change them all at once. I crept up on them to get in the habit with something small and then gradually adding to it until I'm closer to where I want to be.

I take:
Fish Oil This is supposed to be good for triglycerides, dry eyes, and my heart as well I think.
Vitamin D3 I take this as an immune system booster & because of the meta-study that says those that take it live longer. I like living.
Glucosamine: I take this for joint pain. I had some knee pain from running and when I take this I don't have it. Maybe it's in my head but the pain's not in my knee so that's okay.
Magnesium (as citrate, but not the liquid): I honestly can't remember why I'm taking this one. I even remember the article being specific that the citrate was better than the other one but for the life of me I don't remember why.
Low-dose aspirin: I've heard it could help not have heart attacks. I asked the doctor & he said it wouldn't hurt so I take it. Maybe I don't need it but they're cheap and flavored. Yum!
Probiotics: This one I don't take all the time but I buy a bottle a couple times a year and take it until it's gone. I don't know that I need it but it doesn't hurt. I plan on learning to make my own sauerkraut and then I can get my gut-flora that way instead of by pill.
Benefiber: I take this WITH the probiotics at night before bed and in the morning with my coffee. With the probiotics it makes the bacteria I'm swallowing happy because they have something to play in while they wander around my guts. All the time it's supposed to help with cholesterol. Also, I imagine pooping is good so there's that. *shrug*
Green Tea: Remember I said I take Benefiber, the soluble flavorless, non-gritty fiber at night with the probiotics? Yeah. I take that stirred into a cup of hot green tea for lowering cholesterol, and like a thousand other things, but mostly, cholesterol.

That's all the stuff I make a point of putting in me. It looks like a lot but it's not and I didn't start them all at once. I added one at a time to see if I could tell a difference or if it did what I thought it would do. The cholesterol ones seem to be helping as my cholesterol numbers seem okay and they weren't okay before... The magnesium one... I really wish I could find the site that recommended it to me, there were several, but I can't find it. I have no real way of knowing if it's working or not since I can't remember why I'm taking it. Obviously it wasn't for memory lol.

*I eat healthy foods. I take supplements to supplement what isn't there or what I may not be getting enough of, not as a replacement to make up for a poor diet. I mostly cook at home using ingredients from the edges of the grocery store: Produce, meat, dairy. I don't buy packaged food and can count the number of times I eat out in a week on one hand, and still shake my finger at most of you. :) When possible I use fresh produce.
Failing fresh from a garden I go for either frozen or stuff in the produce section if it's from the US. I'm not US-centric. I just don't think you can get broccoli to me from Lima in a reasonable amount of time.. even if it is sitting there wrapped in plastic... I'm not sure how old that is. I'd rather have frozen if it's from another continent just because of time off the vine. Canned is a last resort because canned food is, to me, generally mushy and flavorless compared to frozen.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Review: Crockpot Italian Zucchini Meatloaf

Crockpot Italian Zucchini Meatloaf
My room mate and I are low-carbers and I'm a devotee of the crockpot. It was my turn to cook Saturday night and I wanted to try something different so a little Google-fu and this recipe popped up. Crockpot Italian zucchini meatloaf.

I like meatloaf as much as the next guy and the roomie's okay with it too so that sounded good. The problem with meatloaf, as you can see on the right, it's not terribly photogenic. It looks like a poop on a plate. It didn't taste like it though!

The first thing that drew me to the recipe was the binder wasn't cracker crumbs or oatmeal, it was shredded zucchini that sat and wept the water out for a while. I squeezed it out repeatedly and let it sit longer. It stayed shredded and didn't turn into mush. I wondered how it'd take the weeping in a strainer. It took it fine.

The second thing about the recipe that caught my eye was the idea of using aluminum foil to make "straps" to go under the meatloaf so when you're done you can just lift it up out of the crockpot and set it on the plate. That's what I did here, and as you can see it came out in one piece really nicely. I forgot to put the cheese on so that was added later. I microwaved it for a minute to get that much melt on it. Oops, my fault, not the fault of the recipe.

Flavor? Good. If I made it again I'd increase the garlic and the salt and now that I've eaten it and am sitting here about half an hour later... I'd probably decrease the oregano. I'm burping it. He isn't so it's just me and he probably wouldn't notice if I dialed it back a bit.

The ultimate question is did I keep the recipe? Will I make it again? No. Probably not. I will use the techniques IN the recipe again though. Those foil straps are genius and the zucchini binder was good too. I'll use that in future recipes as it adds vegetables to the diet and doesn't increase net-carbs unduly.

So, the recipe wasn't one I'll make again, but it'll change the way I cook and that counts as a win in my book.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Movie Review: Into The Woods

I couldn't figure out the target audience. The moralizing was a little too old for a younger crowd and too broadly painted for a mature crowd. I felt like I was being beat over the head with a “LESSON!”. The storyline and acting were a little too over the top for a mature audience. The songs were too complicated to sing along with or to become things you pretty much ever wanted to hear again and the story just stopped during them. That’s a common problem in musicals but most musicals aren't action stories. They're more comedic or dramas. This was trying to be an action adventure but as the tempo would pick up it would just screech to a halt as they sang a somewhat complicate song with no hook; no memorable bits to it and then go on to the next bit of the movie.

Honestly, if they'd removed the songs the movie would have been not only shorter, which it needed, but tighter and better. I don't remember any information being given me in the songs that wasn't also given me in dialogue. I also don't remember any of the songs as something I want to hear again... ever.

Johnny Depp’s performance as the creepy wolf that is going to eat Red Riding Hood is getting a lot of talk because, well... it’s quite definitely a metaphor, and not a subtle one at all, for predators preying on little girls and the dangers of not obeying your parents and if you DO disobey you’ll probably get eaten by someone with a really skeevy mustache... and by eaten here I mean... well, let’s stick with eaten. But that part is short, really short. When I hear Johnny Depp’s going to be in a movie and then he’s a bit part. I was surprised. I thought there'd be more Depp.

Sadly, there was more of this movie than I wanted. I was looking at my watch early on... kept looking and looking. I didn't really care what happened to the people, which is good because as much as happily ever after usually happens, don't count on it here. Which, again, seemed odd. If it’s for younger kids happily ever after is the way things are supposed to be, not a treatise on how disappointing life is and how people will let you down and fail you and die so you can't depend on anyone. That’s a bit cynical isn’t it? That’s how fairy tales are supposed to start, not end.

So, my take on it? Don’t go. Just don’t. It’s too long. It’s too depressing, and the bumbling fool baker who couldn't remember the cow was supposed to be white was just annoying. Not just when he obviously redid what his daddy did that he didn't want to do but did... ugh, just don’t go. Use that money for anything else... a mani-pedi by a man with a chainsaw would be more entertaining and leave you feeling better about the time you would spend slogging through this thing.