Hot Yoga Habits

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Me 90 seconds into a hot yoga class

Like any good citizen of Los Angeles, I exist on a never-ending merry-go-round of health trends (RT if you’re also actively avoiding Whole 30), food fads (it’s called Oat Milk and just WAIT till you see where the udders are), and whatever the “in” workout of the month is (swipe up for my Barry’s Bootcamp discount code). One of these is hot yoga. What is hot yoga, you ask? Basically it’s like regular yoga, but…hot. The studio I go to keeps things at a balmy 105º-111º for the 70 minute sessions which is a great way to take an already difficult workout and turn it into the sort of workout that makes you feel like you’re in the parts of the 80s-movie training montages that they cut out: sweaty, overextended, and without the internet to distract you. That said, there’s a few little things I do during my hot yoga sessions to keep myself from losing my mind during these trying workouts and having my cardio-induced glisten go from 80s action hero sweaty to 80s action villain greasy. They are as follows:

• Put my mat down as far away as possible from an attractive girl.
While impossible to fully avoid attractive men and women (it is LA, after all), hot yoga (as with any yoga) is meant to be primarily an internal practice of betterment and improvement of the self through pushing, testing, and expanding one’s limits. It requires focus on several different mental and physical aspects at once, and nothing shakes that focus quicker than wanting to show off for the Alison Brie type two mats over from yours. My general rule is: I look like garbage when I workout (and debatably when I’m not working out, too) so I like to pretend no one can see me, and the least I can do is extend that same courtesy to the other yogis in their practice.

• Snag a spot by the door.
This may the pettiest/babiest one, but when you’re dealing with temps in the triple digits, every little bit helps, and if you are able to snag a spot by the door, you absolutely MUST do so. People drop like flies in hot yoga classes sometimes — to the point that the instructors usually give a little disclaimer at the beginning of class that is something like “Even if you get too overworked or exhausted to do the workouts, just go down to your mat and try to stay in the room because that in itself is enough of a challenge” — but if people can’t take the heat (literally) they’ll step outside for a breather or leave altogether and man when that door swings open and wafts a little (relatively) cool air over you, it’s just about the closest thing you can get to Heaven in LA (except for actual Heaven, the combination dance club and acupuncture clinic on Sunset).

• Find a mantra du jour.
My favorite yoga instructors will cue this at the start of class and maybe even offer the group one of their own if you’re drawing a blank (as I often do), but finding an inspirational word or short motivating phrase to come back to when it’s a hundred degrees and you’re balancing on one leg and somehow pulling the other leg over the back of your head and now they want you to do squats on the first leg and oh yeah don’t forget to breathe! can be super helpful to give you something to think about than how each of these yoga poses finds a new way to shove your flab into an even more un-ignorable position than the last one. Ones I go to a lot are things like patience, trust, sending energy to oneself or a friend, or part of  Bible verse I read that day. But they can also be less dramatic things too like just remembering how good that pizza is gonna taste knowing you already worked it off. No pineapple, please.

• Saying The Lord’s Prayer during the quiet part at the end.
During the last couple minutes of class, once you’ve finally gotten through the last difficult postures they’ll usually guide you through a little cool down stretching and finally let you land in something called “shavasana.” Translating to something along the lines of “corpse pose” (and believe me, that is an apt name since you will absolutely feel like a corpse by the end of a tough hot yoga class) this is literally a posture where you just lay on your back for a minute or two and let your body cool off and replenish all that mental and physical energy you just used and get ready to use all that new energy you just created before you go back out into the world. Since my mind is usually totally shot by then from the workout and I’m not really in a state to come up with anything epic or fresh, I like to silently fire off The Lord’s Prayer in my head as we’re ending our practice and starting to come “back to life” in every sense of the word. It’s automatic enough in my brain that I don’t really have to think much about it, but it also has all the comforting principles and reminders that I like to carry into the next part of my day/life.

• Throw up The Roc and give ’em a “Hova!”
As we close out class, the instructor will usually give a mini thank you speech and closes the class with the traditional “namaste” — surely you’ve seen it on trendy athleisure shirts or in someone’s instagram caption of their brunch — loosely translating to “the light and teacher in me sees and recognizes the light and teacher in you” and they have you put your hands up to your forehead in this little triangle shape and bow in as you say “namaste” (this is all optional and not as weird as it sounds by the way, I don’t want you to think you’ll see me in the next cult documentary on Netflix). Now that’s a beautiful sentiment on its own, but because this is my personal practice, after I say “namaste” I also like to throw a little “HOVA!” on the end of it. “Hova” is the self-appointed nickname of one of my favorite rappers, Jay-Z, and loosely translates to “I’m not afraid of dyin’ I’m afraid of not tryin’.” Because your hands are already essentially in the same triangle shape as Jay-Z’s signature gesture The Roc and because Hova is another sort of energy that I also like to channel with me into my days it’s only fitting that following up a nice heartfelt “namaste” feels twice as good when you fire off a nice, equally heartfelt “Hova!” on your way off the mat. Honestly give it a shot, you’ll be stoked at what a confidence booster it is before a big date or important meeting.

• Be polite and grateful, damnit!
And then very very last, you’ve worked hard for an hour plus, you’re tired and ready to hit the showers, but don’t let a combination of exhaustion and lowkey resentment of your instructor for putting you through that make you any less grateful. It takes a lot to keep an eye on everyone, learn all the terms, guide with confidence, display all the postures in their most correct form and give hands on corrections when needed — and do it all with a calm voice and a controlled demeanor, not just barking orders like Barry’s Bootcamp. So no matter how wiped you are, always make sure to give them an audible “thank you” on your way out the door. And if Rachael Bell is your instructor (@rachaelkathrynbell on IG/twitter or her instructor account @rkbyogi) you can be like me and spout off a hearty “Thanks Rach” so that everyone knows you’re thankful AND that you’re on a “casual monosyllabic nickname” friend level with the instructor, so they’ll be extra impressed (hey, the class is over after all, I’ve got to go back to being attention hungry, narcissistic, and insecure at SOME point, right? Right??? Wait where are you going? I promise I’ve got a great oat milk latte spot you just HAVE to try…)

And hey, if you’re ever in the LA area, come take a hot yoga class with me! You can Venmo me for the pizza afterwards.

 

Play on,
Dustin

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every other Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my get band’s latest music. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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The Tao of Peggy Olson

With AMC’s Mad Men having recently poured its final glass of 9am bourbon, neat, I am left with a moment to reflect on the show whose legacy was always a little bit grander than its reality. And really, isn’t that sort of what we’re all aiming for in life? You’ll see a hundred op/ed pieces on the technical hits or misses of the show, but for me, even though the show was centered around Don Draper, the true protagonist of the series was Peggy Olson. Don’s was a journey that was focused on discovery on self (and probably more than a couple of STDs as well), but Peggy’s was a true battle. A David vs. Goliath struggle where sometimes her Goliath was the ultra-misogynistic corporate workplace of the 1960s and /70s, and sometimes her Goliath was herself. With that in mind, I present a handful of moments that Peggy brought us that will stick with me much longer than Don’s loose views on fidelity and identity theft. And so I present to you:

THE TAO OF PEGGY OLSON

“When I was little, my mom would take a twin pop and break it in half and give one to me and one to my sister. We were completely equal in her eyes. Beloved. Everyone does this with Popsicles, but they may not realize what it means. It has nothing to do with an ice cream truck on a hot summer day. Or the flavor. Or the color. It’s a ritual. You take it, break it, share it, and love it.” —Season 2, Episode 12
• A central theme for Peggy throughout the Mad Men series was that of love. Not just romantic love, but familial love, love in friendship, love in a professional environment, and love of self (or at least learning to accept yourself for who you are). This mini monologue (minilogue?) is a great example of Peggy romanticizing her own past (to a fault, at times) for the sake of remembering the good and the love that surrounded her, rather than focusing on the negative aspects of life. Classic Peggy.

“Every time something good happens, something bad happens.”  —s4,e11
• Peggy’s strength as a character (and as a person) isn’t that she’s blindly naive and ignorantly optimistic, it’s that she sees the world for the crappy, run down mess that it is…but chooses to hope anyway. Anyone can live a sheltered life and think the world a perfectly pleasant place, the real challenge is to continue to seek after your ideals in spite of adversity. If Peggy was a pro boxer, she wouldn’t be a one-punch wonder, she’d be the sort of marathon fighter who wears you out by taking hit after hit for twelve rounds and staying on her feet till the final bell. And in life you’re going to have a lot more knockdown, drag-out fights to endure than quick, Muhammad Ali-esque 15-second KO’s. Be built for the full twelve.

“Well, I’m fun! And I love to have…fun.” —s3,e4
• For the pitch perfect pitchman she became (pitchwoman? Pitchperson?), Peggy was always a little too humble to really sell herself, and we see that here in her awkward attempt to sound…well, fun, on a first date. Even though she struggles to really sell herself for the great gal she is in this particular instance, she manages to get to the heart of “free time Peggy,” which is that even though her work/life balance might have been a little uneven at times, at her core she’s still just a girl who wants to have fun, and be fun to be around to others. Despite how intense her career focus could be at times, you still get the idea that she found fun in her work, and wanted others to find the fun in theirs as well (as long as it didn’t compromise the quality of the final product). Remember kids: Be fun, have fun. It’s what Peggy would want.

“Don Draper: That’s how this works. I pay you for ideas.
Peggy Olson: You never say ‘Thank you.’
Don Draper: That’s what the money is for!” —s4,e7
• Despite her eventual rise to the top creative ranks in the ad agency world, Peggy was never in it for the money or the power or even the acclaim…she was in it for the respect that she knew she deserved and the recognition of her talent in a world that tried repeatedly to write her off. A recurring theme throughout the series is Peggy working out her daddy issues through Don (sometimes effectively, sometimes not), and ultimately having the revelation that we all need to have: someone else’s approval is never going to replace or validate our own self worth. I know a lot of us feel under-appreciated and even unloved in our professional and/or personal lives, but the moral of the story is that it’s up to us to know that we have value, rather than waiting for the accolades of the outside world that may or may not ever arrive. Easier said than done, perhaps, but worth the effort nonetheless.

“Don’t do anything stupid.” —s6,e5
• At the end of the day (one of my all-time most hated clichés, but gets the point across), we almost always know the right thing we should say or do or not do in a given situation, but the real test of mettle is whether or not we can act on that knowledge, to resist the easy path in favor of the more difficult one, even if it’s less rewarding or we won’t get any recognition for doing so. How many times in your life have you looked back on something you regret and thought, “Geez, that was stupid…I knew better”? And you’re right, you did! The difficulty lies in having the willpower to not do the stupid thing in front of you, no matter how appealing it might be in the moment. A daily battle for most of us (or at least me), but a battle worth fighting, even if the victories are more infrequent than the failures. But just know that in spite of your past mistakes, you have ability to make the right choice the next time. And the next time. And the time after that. I’m pulling for you. And so is Peggy Olson. I’ll even buy you a shot of bourbon when you get there. Good luck and God bless.
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Play on,
Dustin

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every other Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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My Week with Apple Watch

The absence of a house, spouse, child, or discernible adult responsibilities of any sort in my life have left me with enough extra income to purchase Apple’s latest gadget, The Apple Watch. (Anyone who calls it the iWatch might as well stop reading now and save both of us the hassle). The following is a day-by-day account of my first week with The  Watch, journaled for posterity so that when the robots have taken over in the semi-distant future, we will have a better idea of where we went wrong.

Apple Watch Sporty Spice

Apple Watch Sporty Spice

April 30, 2015

Day 1 — The Apple Watch is definitely a solid device, meeting or exceeding all my expectations. Big takeaways so far are that battery life is way better than advertised, it’s more water-resistant than I realized, and I’m finding nuanced little features I hadn’t heard about before all the time (i.e. using the watch as a remote control for my AppleTV, using it to take pictures with my phone, checking into my gym with it, etc.)

Day 2 — Really dug into some of the fitness features today. The Apple Watch has a different workout setting for most of the common cardio exercises; really cool to see my heartbeat and calories burned in real time. I sprinted a mile as part of my workout and felt myself pretty out of breath…hm, weird, I would’ve thought Apple Watch would’ve fixed that. Apple Watch also failed to add ANY weight to my max bench press. Odd. Might have to make a Genius Bar appointment to make sure I didn’t get a defective unit.

Day 3 — Despite owning the Apple Watch for almost half a week, didn’t get to see Avengers 2 yet. Weird, because I know I really wanna see Avengers 2, and Apple Watch is supposed to be the more personal and effective device ever and yet here I am, still not having seen a single second of what my girlfriend has called the “I will break up with you” movie of the summer. Instead spent the day reading Shakespeare’s King Lear on my Apple Watch. Eyes were pretty strained after the first two hours, blacked out from a migraine for a little bit, but felt way better after I woke up. Thanks, Apple Watch!

Day 4 — Got fired at work for physically assaulting my boss when he said he thought the Apple Watch “wasn’t for everyone,” definitely didn’t see “getting fired” as a side effect of the Apple Watch, but it’s still a pretty new device so they’re still working out some of the bugs. Hopefully future versions will be less likely to get their owners fired. Getting pretty good at drawing dicks on the Apple Watch screen and sending them to my friends.

Day 5 — Well my girlfriend left me (out of nowhere!), and despite me REPEATEDLY sending her my heartbeat via Apple Watch, she still hasn’t come to her senses and begged me to take her back yet. And my heart was beating extra fast today, too! (It always does when I’m taking her cute best friend out to dinner). Really need to make that Genius bar appointment to make sure I don’t have a bum unit. Maybe her cute best friend will go with me, and we can see a movie and take a moonlit walk on the beach afterwards under the stars. I have a sneaking suspicion that Apple Watch is altering my perception of time to better fit in with its own battery cycle, as I’ve been up for 51 hours but Apple Watch keeps saying it’s still Tuesday. Which is a pretty cool feature, if you ask me.

Day 6 — At this point I’ve had the Apple Watch for almost a week, yet that STILL didn’t stop the bank from foreclosing on my condo today, something about 18 months of back-payments and overdue property taxes. I don’t know, I didn’t get any reminders about anything like that from my Apple Watch, so it must be some sort of clerical error. Clerical Error would be a great name for like a speed-metal band. Oh also my (now ex) girlfriend finally texted me back today and told me she was pregnant, but said she won’t let me near the kids, which is a terrible Apple Watch feature that I hope they fix in the next beta.

Day 7 — The IRS is auditing me totally out of the blue, despite the fact that I literally just filed my taxes four years ago. Sounds like an Apple Watch bug. There’s just a sinkhole where my condominium complex used to be, although I’m told the bank can still foreclose on my condo even if it’s three stories underground now. As if that wasn’t enough of a bummer about the Apple Watch, my neighborhood has been hit hard with an intense breakout of tornadoes, famine, tsunamis, freshwater drought and a plague of toa-locusts (a genetic hybrid of toads and locusts), but I think that last one is because my next door neighbor bought a Samsung Galaxy Gear from one of those resellers on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Having some real difficulty finding a virgin for sacrificial purposes (that’s Los Angeles for you I guess), DESPITE using Apple Watch’s Siri integration. Even though I’ve been charging it every single day, Apple Watch has yet to repair the estranged relationship between me and my father. Maybe I should’ve sprung for the solid-gold “Edition” version of the Apple Watch.

Day 8 — Returned my Apple Watch today. Honestly, I liked it a lot, but having to deal with all of the other side effects just wasn’t worth it. Maybe I’ll pick up a future version, but for now I’m happy to be a little more low-tech than the next guy.

Day 9 — Everything is back to normal now…I guess maybe it isn’t for everyone, after all. Looks like my boss was right on that one…but don’t tell HIM that ;) (Rest in peace, Mr. Johnston).

Play on,
Dustin

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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American Idol Season 14 Changes

As you may have seen on television (that thing that kills time while your phone is charging), American Idol is about to enter its FOURTEENTH season (another year and it can get its learners driving permit), and like any show that has been on for so long, the team at Idol is implementing some changes to help attract new viewers and keep the old ones. Using my top-secret entertainment industry connections I was able to obtain a list of these changes for you, my loyal readers.

American Idol Season 14 Changes:

• American Idol’s infamously rotating cast of celebrity judges will bump up from rotating every season to now rotating every 15 minutes. Things get especially dramatic when Mark McGrath gives the approving vote to put a contestant through to Hollywood only to have the “rotate judge” alarm go off, with replacement judge Kevin Federline voting the other way for the unlucky contestant.

• In addition to searching for talent in New Orleans, Nashville, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and New York City; the show will also be holding its trademark ten-thousand-person auditions in Metropolis, Atlantis, The Emerald City, Mount Olympus, The Alternate 1985 timeline from Back to the Future 2, and The Negaverse from Sailor Moon.

• In an effort to boost ratings, American Idol will declare every show day also Opposite Day, turning their 1.7 into a 7.1 and “a 25% decrease” into “a 25% increase” and “beating a dead horse” into “entertainment.”

• Keith Urban has agreed to a cross-promotion with a hip, young clothing store, legally changing his name to Keith Urban Outfitters.

• Going to just start referring to itself in all graphics, conversations, and materials as “The Voice” and see if anyone notices.

• Taking its well-known list of mentors like Randy Jackson and Scott Borchetta and adding other legendary mentors such as The P90X Guy, Mister Miyagi, Mother Teresa, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Professor Dumbledore, Your High School English Teacher, Dina Lohan, Rafiki from Lion King, and Gandalf the Grey.

• End every show with one uncut five-minute block of lemmings mindlessly walking to their demise by the ton and see if even a single viewer picks up on the irony.

• Putting Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, and Taylor Hicks in fake Groucho disguise mustache-glasses and sneaking them back into the competition.

• Following up all eliminations with on-air, real-time executions of whoever is voted off that week.

• Brian Dunkleman.

• Do a Mythbusters-style special on whether or not Ryan Seacrest has ever said anything sincere with all that feigned enthusiasm in the past 13 years.

• Airing all episodes at once, Netflix style, to help induce binge watching like the kiddies enjoy so much these days.

• Regardless of what the votes say, just declaring Ruben Studdard the winner anyway.

…Should be a fun season!

Play on,
Dustin

casual pic of Brian Dunkleman, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson

casual pic of Brian Dunkleman, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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The WORST Horror Movies of All Time

It’s February, the month of love, black history, groundhogs, and awards shows (and if they ever have an award show honoring the most lovely groundhogs in all of history, you can bet that event would take place in February). With the Academy Awards and love on the brain, it seemed like the right time to countdown the worst horror movies of all time. So here they are. (I’m not big on segues).

The WORST Horror Movies of ALL TIME

The Passion of the Christ
Blood! Guts! Zombies! While this movie contains all the staples of a good horror movie, it really fails to deliver that jump-from-your-seat terror that we’ve come to expect from modern horror movies. Mel Gibson just doesn’t have the directorial chops to pull off a horror movie of this magnitude, hopefully things will look up for his career after this misstep.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
This may be a movie about a blood-thirsty alien that crashes into Earth with the intention of savagely devouring its inhabitants to slake its bloodlust, but the only thing that crashes and burns here is the idea that this alien could be a danger to anyone. Drew Barrymore as a child pulls off the screaming victim ok here, but ultimately the terror of this film just falls flat.

Toy Story 2
The much-anticipated follow-up to the terrifying legend about one boy’s dolls that come to life and terrorize an entire town, the sequel sadly doesn’t live up to the scare-levels of the original. With not nearly enough blood and gore for die-hard screamsters like myself, Toy Story 2 is at best not scary, and at worst infuriatingly tame. Some parts are even downright laughable. But in true horror movie fashion, once they get one sequel made they just start cranking them out nonstop, so don’t expect Toy Story 3 to be any better (and SHOCKER, there’s already a Toy Story 4 in the works. It’s the Saw franchise all over again).

Mary Poppins
The premise is a tried-and-true one: a supposed children’s caretaker flies into town on the wind of a dark spell and uses her evil magic powers to wreak havoc in the lives of all whom she encounters. Whether it’s trapping her young wards into mystical drawings, or imprisoning children in chimneys, this is one bad-news nanny, but that sadly doesn’t make up for a lack of scares that leave this movie feeling more like a walk in the park rather than a scream-filled fright-fest that viewers want. Even when the nanny summons her dark familiars like her demon-possessed umbrella harpy, or her chimney-sweep henchman, this movie fails to make you feel like there is ever any real danger afoot. Better luck next time, Scary Mary.

The Nightmare Before Christmas
Stop-motion animation can definitely make for some spooky movie-making, but this film about the dark lord of the netherworld rising to take-over Christmas for him and his dark minions feels more like a daydream than a true nightmare. Too many stockings, not enough stalkings for THIS horror-movie-lover.

The Little Mermaid
The well-known Hans Christian Andersen tale — about a young mermaid that wants to steal a part of a prince’s soul so she can get into Heaven but ultimately can’t bring herself to kill him, so she kills herself by throwing herself off a cliff into the craggy rocks of the seaside — FINALLY gets the big screen treatment it deserves. BUT unfortunately the Hollywood Machine does what it does best and totally ruins the source material with this horror movie. Say goodbye to Andersen’s trademark gory details about the Mermaid getting her legs split with a sword and having her tongue ripped out by the Sea Witch’s curse (and who could forget the cost of the spell, that any movement the Mermaid makes with her legs will feel like she is constantly walking on sharp knives), and instead get ready to see a Mermaid that’s so untrue to her source character that she doesn’t even commit suicide at the end. Just like the mermaids in HCA’s tale, this movie turns into sea-foam and fizzles away before we get the horror movie we wanted!

…Hope you got some ointment for those BURNS, would-be horror movies, maybe next time you won’t short us on the scares that we crave! ;) On the upside, I finally got my hands on the film adaptation of the famous Brothers Grimm’s scary story, Snow White, so I’m excited to let that one scream me to new heights of scariness (I’m especially excited to see how they depict the scene where Snow White and her prince force the Evil Queen into a pair of glowing-hot iron shoes and force her to dance until she drops dead as punishment for her attempted murders).

Play on,
Dustin

I haven't seen this horror movie yet, but I imagine it's a lot like Taken.

I haven’t seen this horror movie yet, but I imagine it’s a lot like Taken.

…Want more Mind Bullets? New posts go up every Wednesday at noon PST (or as close to that as I feel like), and you can subscribe if you want them delivered right to your inbox! …Or if you’re too impatient to wait that long you can follow me on twitter, instagramyoutube (new videos every Monday), and my boring personal website. Whew, that’s a lot of self promotion…even I don’t like me enough to keep up with all that.

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