So I don’t generally like putting out a bunch of informational content because whenever I see stuff like that, it usually looks like a bunch of broke ass, thirsty ass gofundme weightlifters or trainers looking to advertise with internet hits so they can do remote programming and fill their piggy bank.  However, I do like being helpful.  So if you have a question, just ask.

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Answering questions.  

So I was chatting with my homie TJ the other day and he mentioned that he’s like to start practicing the Olympic lifts but didn’t really know where to start.  He, like most people, work out in a bigger 24 hour workout type facility that is not equipped with bumper plates or lifting platforms.  TJ lifts.  He has covered his bases with the press, squat and deadlift and is a generally strong and fit person.  If this sounds like you, check out the video.  If that’s as far as you go with the lifts, that’s cool.  I genuinely think that most able bodied people should be able to do these movements.  These movements will also prepare you, should you pursue the lifts further by teaching yourself or finding a coach.

Enjoy.

-The Wizard of Occam

I have recently started dabbling in oil painting because I needed yet another hobby. Like most things that I get into, I more or less just acquired the necessary tools and started learning by doing. I’ve been doing art off and on since I was a kid, sometimes identifying as an artist but most of the times not. I stick to what I like which are high contrast pieces focusing on the human form. Based on my profession, education and other athletic pursuits I’m into, I obviously find the human body fascinating. Most other things (landscapes, abstract pieces and what not) don’t do a whole lot for me. Mostly, I do art because it brings me a sense of catharsis. It takes me to a sacred space for 45 minutes or so where I don’t worry about anything else except for the task at hand, the very same reason why I like crushing heavy weights.

It’s been a number of years since art has been my “thing.” In college, I’d make it a point to take one art class a semester as a way to force me to make time for art and take a step back from my busy schedule. Since then, I’ll sort of lazily doodle, sometimes diving in with ink or water color when it fits my mood. I like ink because it requires confidence. There’s no way to take it off the paper, so you have to be both aggressive and decisive about where you place your lines. Sometimes it works out for me, but most of the time not so much. Any project that takes more than 45 minutes will remain unfinished with a few exceptions over the years.

The only experience I’ve had with oil so far is when I had a girlfriend a number of years ago who would use that as her primary medium. We’d sometimes do art together and I’d bang out like 5 or 6 ink drawings trying to capture the figures and motion. She on the other hand, would spend weeks on these beautiful paintings, taking her time, being methodical, taking breaks and coming back to add layer over layer of beautiful depth. The finished work paid off wonderfully, but frankly the whole process seemed hella boring.

So here I am in 2017 ignorantly slapping paint on stuff like I know what I’m doing (not much unlike how I first started lifting weights) and finding myself forced into the same drawn out, boring process that she did. There are rules. You can’t just DO shit. You have to be methodical, play the game. But here’s the thing:

I love it.

Being forced to be methodical, keep a frame of reference in mind from start to finish over the period of weeks changed my entire creative process. She might’ve said the same to me but who knows. I’m a poor listener at times.

This mentalty for me is analegous to how my weightlifting process changed when I began coaching. As a coach, there is ONLY the big picture. The frame of reference that you have in your brain for every athlete is always present, even when assisting their day to day workouts. There is joy in seeing small changes over time. There is planning and constantly reminding your athletes that weightlifting is not today. Olympic Weightlifting is today, every day over the course of his or her career.

I change hats on a day to day basis. I wouldn’t recommend it. If you want to be an athlete be an athlete. Be fiery and expect progress every single day. That’s not reality but it’s not your job to keep that in mind. Leave it up to your coach to reign you in when needed and bounce ideas off of. Keep an open dialogue when you need it. The idea is that when it’s all over, you will be happy with the finished product.

Enjoy yourself.

-The Wizard of Occam

The Death of Alongthelinesof.

November 28, 2017

Hi there.

I’ve decided to start blogging again.  This time around it will be a little different though.  When I started blogging in 2010, I didn’t have any real idea of what that actually was so what ended up coming out was a sort of diary/training log/sometimes write some lifting related stuff/art/humor sort of thing.  It ended up actually being a good practice for me; kept me focused on my lifting goals, organized my thoughts on “paper.” At the time I thought I was a really good writer.  I feel like many weightlifters go though that phase.

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This is who I am now.  

Needless to say, I don’t feel like the same person as me in 2010 so I think I’ll start going through my old stuff and deleting most of the riff raff and stuff I’d rather not see or other people see.  I stopped because I got caught up with running the day to day of the gym.  It seems the better I get at that, the worse I get at everything else.  And honestly, actually doing my job is more important than telling people about it.  This time around, I will not be posting any artwork unless it’s just a photo of my art or I figure some other way to show off my stuff without people blatantly stealing it and putting it on their shitty fitness lifestyle T shirts or gyms.

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If you put this on your shitty T-shirt without paying for it, get fucked, you fuck. 

I’ve learned that you don’t get to pick the rules of the fitness industry.  You don’t get to pick what’s cool or what people buy into.  You only get to pick and choose which parts of the game you will play and I’ve chosen to only pick the ones that essentially get me no money but I get to sleep soundly at night.   No one reads blogs anymore.  But people love content.  Some people love weightlifting related content about as much as they love the sport itself.  So I’ll be doing the occasional weightlifting piece to practice putting out content even if no one is actually requesting it of me.  It’s good to do as a coach; keeps your chops sharp.  I will not be doing the boring as fuck technique pieces that pollute the internet and have clients thinking they’re not at nationals because they’re not finishing their quadruple extension.  The beginner/intermediate lifter of today already thinks too much do to the continued marketing bombardment.  And that’s exactly what it is: marketing.  I’ll be focusing more on advice pieces; short reads that are helpful, hopefully entertaining and fun to write.  I’ll also do the occasional anecdote and humor piece simply because that’s what I like to read and I also think it’s important.  I don’t think anyone cares about my opinion on art or music but I’ll write occasionally on those subjects as well.  I won’t be doing the basic blogger “top 20” lists because I’m too far out of college and am decidedly anti-cool.

Anyways, hope to see you around.

-The Wizard of Occam

I personally find the terms “stoner” and “doom” to be rather limiting.  A lot of the bands listed here blend many influences together, however fans of these two genres will most likely find some common ground with most picks on this list.  I did have to eliminate a few releases that were awesome but would hardly qualify.  I had a hard time getting it down to 25 since there was so much good shit that came out last year.  You’ll see a lot of repeats from most year end lists with a few random picks that struck me personally but might not have been quite as popular.  The numbering system is mostly arbitrary, though I feel pretty confident in my top 10, some of which will contribute to my top 20 favorite tracks of last year list (not doom-specific).

1) Mountain Dust-Nine Years.  This one also has some of my favorite cover art for the year.

2) Khemmis-Hunted.  Cover art also dope as fuck.  This album rips so hard and is such a fun listen.  They’re like Pallbearer and Un if they partied harder.  JK those dudes probably party.  But you know what I mean.

3) Beastmaker-Lusus Naturae.  These homies from Fresno put on such a sick live set.  

4) Sumac-What One Becomes.  Probably the heaviest thing I got into last year.  Live set was massive.

5) 

5) Jayle Jayle-House Cricks and Other Excuses to Get Out.  I love this shit so much.  So much tension and americana goodness.  Minimalism at it’s finest.

6) Pallbearer-Fear and Fury EP.  These guys are blowing up and they deserve it.

7) Turnip-Window Killer. So sparse and AMAZING. Favorite song is “Coming for You.” I like this type of shit better than most standard doom and stoner shit.

8) Oak-Oak II.  Download this for free, my dude.  So robust and manly.  

9) Cobalt-Slow Forever.  This might’ve been higher if I had heard this earlier.  Still digesting but this is heavy as fuck.  

10) Cult of Luna-Mariner.

11) Conan-Revengence.  Conan throws in (GASP) blastbeats?  Their most listenable record so far.  They were honestly too low and heavy for me until I saw them live.  Then I REALLY got it.  “We are all nothing.  You are nothing.”

12)SubRosa-For This We Fought the Battle of Ages.  Seeing them live was amazing. 

13) Brant Bjork-Tao Of The Devil.  The way the dude says “Gree-heen” is hilarious.  Check out this music video.  Literally going to buy a van now.

14) 1000 Mods-Repeated Exposure To . . .

15) Graves at Sea-The Curse that Is.

16) Holy Serpent-Temples.

17) Lament Cityscape-Soft Tissue.

18) Ortega-Sacred States.  I with I had heard this earlier too.  

19) Elephant Tree-Elephant Tree.

20) Youngblood Supercut-High Plains.  I fucking love this track.

21) Slowmatics-Estronomicon.

22) Cough-Still They Prey.  They doom hard.

23) Truckfighters-V. 

24) Gozu-Revival.  Rock and roll, brother.  

25) The Hazytones-The Hazytones.

So you made weight.  Congratulations.  Now it’s time to do what you actually came here to do: the whole lifting of the weights thing.

I weighed in a whole kilo under what I needed to be last weekend.  and I was comfortable as fuck too which means I did a good job.  It then came time to ingest nutrients and more importantly, fluid as fast as possible so I wouldn’t be bloated and lazy when it came time to actually lift.  Remember, at BEST you only have 2 hours before your session starts.  I ended up with about an hour and a half.  So I took a grocery bag with me to weigh ins containing:

-Pedialyte

-Chocolate milk

-A banana

-Nutella

-Spoon

-Doritos

Remember a few key points from nutrition class: your body’s preferred fuel source is sugar, excess protein will basically be useless in the next 2 hours and fat slows down your digestion process.  So unless you want all this stuff sitting in your gut and not moving, I suggest you take it easy on anything fatty.  I had a spoonful of nutella to make me feel full and I was money.  The Doritos were just something salty to snack on but really served no other purpose.  The chocolate milk should be consumed first followed by you sipping on Pedialyte.  I drink other liquids as I compete, mostly just Redbull and shit like that.

If you start cramping while competing, don’t panic.  Just continue moving around and DO NOT sit down.  Pacing back and forth is preferred.

Once you’re done, go eat something delicious.  Just remember that you’re body will not be happy with you for the next couple days so don’t expect to feel really amazing right off the bat even after getting real food in you.

Hope this helps and good luck out there.

-Ben

I wrote this for my team the other day.  It’s something that I’m going to have to say again and again as long as I coach for a job.  At first it’s going to sound like NOT the right thing to say from the business standpoint.  But in my opinion it is the moral and ethical thing to say as a coach.  And the longer I do this job, the more comfortable I get and the less I care about what other people do besides myself and my group.  Personally speaking, weightlifting was not a healthy habit for me for a long time.  That doesn’t have to be the case for you or any of my lifters.  Hear me.

Gang,

Learning and eventually mastering a skill set is both a noble and incredibly difficult thing; even for such a skill as irrelevant to your life as weightlifting. But you have to enjoy going through it. You have to learn to take progress as it comes (and goes) and get some level of gratification out of it. If you can’t do this, then I honestly would rather you didn’t lift at all or lift elsewhere. We have an incredibly competitive but also a positive environment. I want you to enjoy it.
Do this after every practice:
Say to yourself TWO positive things that happened or TWO things that you are proud of that you did at practice.
If you can’t do that, it’s time to take a break. Progress and enjoyment while lifting weights is a lot like your world view. If you think you’re shitty and you suck then guess what: your progress and enjoyment will reflect that. The same goes for the opposite end of the spectrum.  If you’re overly satisfied with doing the work that is expected of you, then obviously you won’t be hungry enough to earn progress.  Somewhere in there, there’s a happy medium.
As always, I’m a resource for you guys. Take me aside during team hours if you’re having a rough time with training and we can find a solution to make your training work for you.

With care and respect,
-Ben

I have a message for you,

Nothing bothers you for the next 3 weeks.  Understand?  All your problems that you have right now, and there’s sure to be many because ’tis the season and all that, WILL be there when you get back from Florida.  So relax.  You’ve come this far.  You’ve obviously made weightlifting a priority in your life even if you’re there to get dead last in the J session.  So take it seriously.  Unless you plan on stepping on the podium, you’re going to Florida to lose.  And that’s OK.  Take it seriously and go out there and compete.  That’s how you have fun in this sport.

“But that’s not a balanced or healthy mindset.”

Guess what: neither is peaking for sport; which by definition is not natural or done for health.  You obviously don’t care about that since you’ve gotten unnaturally strong enough to compete at the American Open.  So live it up for the next few weeks.  And when it’s all over, eat too much, have a drink or two with your true friends and take care of the rest of your life.  Don’t go right back to the squat rack (unless of course you ARE one of the top lifters in the country and this is basically your job).

I’m going to eat one last decent meal on Thanksgiving and enjoy my family and friends.  After that, I plan on being as extreme as I god damn want to be.  I’ll see you on the other side.

Embrace this Moment.

November 16, 2016

Last week, I trained with the team instead of by myself.  It was the most cathartic and healing feeling I’ve had in a long time.

Occam 2×15.

October 30, 2016

I’m back on here.  Just in time for my end of the year favorite tracks playlist.  My dad and I made this cab the other day to replace the purple one I made for the gym PA/my guitar rig. It’s got the same Eminence Redcoat series “Big Ben” 15’s that I’ve been using but the red wood stain suits my tastes better.  Peep the Occam symbols in the speaker hole cut outs.  The frame is 12 ply Plywood and the front baffle and back is regular 3/4 inch that we used for the competition platform of our meet we held last month.

I’m going to make an effort to post here once a week simply because I think it’s a healthy habit to sit down and write something every now and then.

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Big Lifts in LA.

August 18, 2016

I figuratively “hit some dingers” at my buddy, Jon’s meet in LA last weekend.  Snatches were OK. I hit 145kg on my 3rd.  But I went OFF on my clean and jerks.  3/3.  175kg, 180kg, 186kg for an all-time PR.  Footage shot by Rex Flores.  If you live in So-Cal and want some video work done by a pro, holler atchyer boi.