The Deadman Night Rider

A forum for evening students of the SMU Dedman School of Law and other outlaws..

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The play-offs beard is history

Well, we survived finals. Here's a couple of shots of the final product--gray patches and all.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I need a montage...

Well, I had planned on writing about this, but somebody with greater financial and technical resources copped my wire with this detailed analysis of the Rocky montage.

To me, there are two cool things about the Rocky montages that the Slate writer doesn't cover--the first is physical and second is moral.

It's fun to watch these scenes for the training techniques Stallone wanted to show off in each one--they're like little museum pieces for the state of the gym art at the any one time. Rocky I and II were based around old-school basics like one-armed push-ups and duckwalking, reflecting the pre-Schwarzenegger bias against weight-training for fear of becoming 'muscle-bound' (that used to be a bad thing). III is the best example: Rocky takes up swimming and sprinting to get the eye of the tiger back. The Slate author thinks this is an infomercial for the Stallone full-body work out, but obviously he doesn't remember the late, great 80's buzzword--cross-training, baby! The trend that established the Reebok and Nike empires, since cross-training meant every athlete had to buy gear for multiple disciplines, beefing up the bottom line as well as the biceps.

The clips I've seen from Rocky Balboa show that in the here-and-now Sly has discovered the kettlebell (the cannonball with a handle on it) and chain training. Kettlebells are pretty cool--I used to have a genuine Russian one years ago in Moscow that I wish I hadn't had to leave behind. Lifting chains is a technique borrowed from powerlifting. The idea is to increase the resistance during the lift, as more of the chain comes off the ground during each rep. Some hardcore lifters wrap them around the ends of their barbells for benches and squats.

But the coolest thing about the Rocky montages, and these movies in general, is the storytelling focus on strength acquired through training as opposed to natural ability. It's true that the Rocky movies use the 'underdog' theme, but I think there's a more fundamental principle underneath. I'm not sure why it is, but most story arcs you see hold up natural ability as the gold standard and implicitly distrust power or strength acquired deliberately.

Think of how many books you've read and movies you've seen that are about someone born special. Of course, this is the staple of comic books and sci-fi stories. Superman is Superman because he was born that way, and thus he has an unerring moral compass, but compare that with Batman, whose quest to bootstrap himself into superheroism leaves him in a perpetual twilight. You can only be a Jedi if you're born with enough midi-whatevers, and if you try to expand your powers you fall to the Dark Side.

Until Rocky, almost all sports movies (and most made since) used this theme as well: the movie was always about the guy who was just the best because he was the best(take Hoosiers, for example, where the ultimate, climactic decision is to rely on the natural talent of the best player, as opposed to the practiced teamwork play, in the last moments of the championship game).

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Back in the gym today

Man, did that feel good. The scale says I dropped 5 pounds while I was sick--I thought my jeans felt a little loose. That's the crappy thing about being sick: there's whatever you've got, plus not exercising makes you sluggish and feel like you're wasting away.

Two exams down as of last night, and heading toward the library to study up for number three. Come Tuesday morning, this semester will be a wrap, folks...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Quick study break

I caught this skit this weekend on MadTV and knew I'd find it on YouTube soon: a great parody of the Dixie Chicks 'Not Ready to Make Nice'.

I love the line "We can't help it if the little one has got a big mouth."

Thankfully, the de facto ban here in DFW continues--it's been years since I've heard a single note from them on any station here.

Monday, December 04, 2006

OK, so I should have gotten the damn flu shot...

Sinus congestion, coughing, today even a little fever. Crap.

I felt like I was getting on top of it yesterday, so I went for a light workout--one of my instructors back at UT claimed that doing this could work up a 'false fever' that could wipe out what's ailing you and get you back on your feet faster.

I've probably tried this technique every time I've gotten sick in the last 12 or 13 years. Guess how many times it's worked--you got it: zero.