Why Richard Simmons is a Cool Guy – No, Seriously

So I have some weight to lose. (What, you’re perfect? Stop judging.) I figure gnawing on twigs and branches instead of eating dinner will only get me so far, and heading to the gym just isn’t an option. No big deal, right? I’ll just work out at home.

Only, I have lupus and fibromyalgia and the whole low impact/high impact thing makes a difference. A big difference. A ginormous difference, as it turns out. I came to this realization rather abruptly on day two of Denise Austin’s three week body boot camp. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Denise is a perfectly pleasant (if overly peppy) person, and I’m undoubtedly speaking from a place of pure, unadulterated jealousy. But somewhere between minutes 18 and 19 of this 20 minute video I found myself reaching for the remote in an effort to SHUT HER UP.  Why wasn’t she the least bit out of breath? Why weren’t her knees crumbling and weeping blood as mine surely were judging by the throbbing, searing, aching pain emanating from them? Why on Earth was she so damn PERKY as she did one armed push-ups with a small legion of brick toting monkeys perched on her impossibly firm butt cheeks?

At any rate, I finished the video, and paid dearly for it with a fibro flare of epic proportions in the days that followed. Time for a new plan. A plan that included the words “low impact.” A plan that wouldn’t kill me in my quest for biggest loser-dom.

Wrapped in my heating pad, I crawled face first towards my laptop and pecked my way over to Amazon. And was more than a little surprised to find that the low impact workout DVD selection is pretty scarce. There’s a handful of yoga and stretching vids, which seem like they’d be nice for warming up or cooling down your muscles but don’t exactly look like they’re going to burn up much in the way of fat and calories. Lord help me, Denise Austin has some 12 minute workouts called the Daily Dozen that I ordered. I was afraid that I was stuck with this crazy b— err, lovely aerobics instructor as my only option in the battle of the bulge. Then I saw it.

Turns out some of the best selling – and highest rated – exercise videos on Amazon are actually by none other than that whacky, cheesy, king of fatties himself: Richard Simmons. I read the reviews. I laughed. I scoffed. I mocked him with my boyfriend. And then I ordered one anyway. (Disco Sweat).

The day it arrived, I put the DVD in and rolled my eyes. The video begins with a parody of Saturday Night Live that includes the Simmons selecting his tank top to wear for the evening before heading to the disco for the night. But then the workout begins and you’re off. Ok, yes, it’s cheese with a capital C. Moves like ‘Travolta Arms’ and ‘The Hustle’ had me making sure that my door was locked and the shades were tightly drawn.

But here’s the thing. It’s a helluva workout. No joke, it kicks butt. A solid hour of sweating and working. And because it’s broken into songs, I can squish it into my work day (I work from home) and squeeze in 2-3 20 minute workouts a day. The impact on my joints is waaayyyy easier. Obviously, exercise makes you sore (hey, that’s how you know it’s working, right?) but I don’t feel like I’ll never be able to walk again. Most importantly, I’ve lost about 9 pounds so far.

And Richard? Eh, the little guy grows on you after a while.

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What Are You Reading? (The Dead Things Review)

 

Perusing through the Terrible Minds blog a few days back (see my last post) I stumbled across an interview with author Stephen Blackmoore. Now, I have to admit, I’m sort of a sucker for a well written story with a paranormal slant, so when I saw that the description for his novel, Dead Things, included words like necromancer, ghosts, and Santa Muerte, I was intrigued. By the time I had read through the whole interview, I was making a bee line towards Amazon to download a copy of the book for myself.

 

And holy guacamole am I glad I did! It’s been a while since I stumbled across a novel that I couldn’t put down, but this was definitely it. Set in my hometown of Los Angeles, the whole story is a gritty, dark, ghostly noir explosion of awesomeness.

 

Eric Carter sees dead people. He’s a necromancer, and as such, he’s made quite the name for himself among the dead (and undead) putting dangerous spirits to rest once and for all – for a fee, of course.

 

Fifteen years ago, Carter left L.A and never looked back. With too many bad memories and too many enemies – dead and otherwise – to be wary of, it just wasn’t the best place for a necromancer to be. But when his little sister is brutally murdered, he finds himself headed straight back to the one place he’s sworn to never return. With a list of suspects too almost too long to keep track of and fewer friends by the second, Eric is determined to figure out who killed his sister and get revenge… as long as they don’t kill him first.

 

So here’s the deal about this book: it’s a great read. As in, an “I was up all night reading it in one sitting” great read. The characters drew me in from the first page, the story line withheld enough to keep me greedily turning pages, and the hero was imperfect enough to make me feel truly sorry for him every time he got himself throttled. All in all, an exceptionally well-written story.

 

Oh, and a quick note for those that are picky about their paranormal. I grew up as part of a traditional Cuban family. That being said, magic, Santeria, traditions, ghost stories, and the like were spoon fed to us right along with our first bowl of Cheerios. Few things will make me walk away from a book faster than over-used, mis-used, or poorly used paranormal/magic elements. Details like Santa Muerte’s traditions were well researched, there were refreshing new takes on magic (as in not the same tired, eye-roll inducing stuff you see in every shaky “found footage” flick to hit the theaters come October) and there is plenty to keep even a mage snob intrigued. Keep an eye out for the Hello My Name Is stickers, as they prove to be fantastic bits of comic relief sprinkled throughout the entire story.

 

Check out the first chapter of Dead Things (and pick up a copy for yourself) at http://stephenblackmoore.com/dead-things/ or else head on over to Amazon.

 

In the mean time, what was the last book you read that you absolutely loved?

Hype a Writer Day!

 

Writers write. We’ve established that. What I haven’t said yet – what doesn’t really need to be said because it’s implied, really, but I’m going to say it anyway – is that writers also read.­ In fact, the more a writer reads, the better their writing gets. Now, that’s not to say that better writing skills can be absorbed via osmosis, but it’s a fact that reading good writing gives a writer ideas, inspiration, insight, etc. What’s more, reading a good writer’s blog about how to write better? Now that is pure genius.

 

So when I discovered Chuck Wendig’s blog a while back, I was just about giddy with glee. It’s well written, dripping with sarcasm and wit, and stuffed full of really juicy tidbits and great ideas on fleshing out your story, making the most of your plot, developing your characters, and more. I was so enthralled that I quickly picked up one of his books, Blackbirds, and was immediately glad I did. (Fair warning – his blog is NSFW, as it does have a bit of foul language thrown about willy nilly. Double fair warning: the book, while AMAZING does have quite a bit of violence, cussing and a wee bit of sexuality thrown in.)

 

If neither of these things offends your sensibilities, I encourage you to check out Chuck’s blog, here. You can pick up a copy of his books, including Blackbirds or any of his writing guides, from there.

 

Now it’s your turn, fellow word nerds. What’s your favorite writer-type blog?