Do you like female vocalists who cover Black Sabbath songs?  CUZ I DO!!!!  British doom outfit, GONGA, just released a video for their cover of Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” set to creepy vintage horror film footage.  The twist is that they got Beth Gibbons of Portishead to do the vocals.  The track is cheekily titled “Black Sabbeth.”

Attention, if you’re the female lead vocalist for a doom band, I’d most likely propose.

Here’s my favorite Portishead song, “Roads.”  Yes, I know it’s not the 90’s anymore but I get a pass for not actually listening to Portishead in the 90’s because I was just a kid.


If you’re looking for something a little more current.  Here’s a link to a mixtape I downloaded in 2011 or so and come back to on long road trips (to Humboldt for instance).  It’s a mashup of James Blake and Drake (also cheekily) titled “James Drake.”


Hey, I’m in Humboldt.

January 30, 2015

I’m spending the weekend in the Eureka area to help Elle prep for JR nationals coming up.  Her weights have been steadily increasing since our 2 week training camp.  Today she hit 73/84 and cleaned 86.  I hit a nice 143 snatch and a PR clean and jerk at 184.  Apparently the rest of the team had an awesome day back at home.  Here’s our PR’s from today.  Full vid to come when I get home.

This past year was a big one for me.  I look forward to this one with great hope and ambition.    Thank you to everyone for all of the support you’ve given me in and out of the gym over the past 10 years.

Old Soul.

January 21, 2015

November of this year will mark one decade of competition for my Olympic weightlifting career.  This means that I’m essentially at the decade mark of training for the lifts.  This essentially means nothing.  But as we all know, personal significance can often carry a lot more weight than anything else.

I obviously have a lot of emotion surrounding this whole decade thing and it will probably be something that I’ll discuss further the more I wrap my mind around it.


Almost done with my year end 2014 video.

Coach Benji.

January 19, 2015

I “memeified” my roommate’s cat the other day for my team’s enjoyment.

We've been living together for a while now, so he's mastered the "coach's face."  Although I'm sure he was fairly judgmental before that.

We’ve been living together for a while now, so he’s mastered the “coach’s face.” Although I’m sure he was fairly judgmental before that.

I actually didn’t even know I liked cats until 2014.  I actually still don’t know for sure.  I just know I like this one; mostly because we can sit and listen to records together and judge things.

Yes, his name is actually Benji.

Still to come:

I still haven’t started my highlight video for last year.  I mostly do this for myself.  When time’s get hard, it’s good to be able to look back and reflect on a few good things I did last year.  After all this time, progress is just as exciting as when I started.  Perhaps more so.

It’s a story about ideology.  When the yamdancers had trust in their process, the whole community would benefit.

There’s a whole plethora of information available concerning the training of the weightlifter.  Learn.  But also have trust in your process.  Weightlifting is a journey and sometimes trusting the process means snatching 147 for the first time in 2011 and not being able to snatch 150 until 2013.  Find strength in the group.  And most importantly, have fun.

On the Process.

January 12, 2015

This past year, I began putting more and more emphasis on the development of our process rather than the development of individual weightlifters.  I realized I needed to change the way we were doing things in 2012-2013 and I think this year we finally started picking up steam on the development of a process that is uniquely ours.  Lifters will come and go, but as long as your process remains solid, your team will flourish.

I keep saying “process” and I realize thats a rather nebulous word to use when talking about the development of the weightlifter.  In truth, it’s more of a concept that I think is important rather than finite programming details.  It’s more or less about the values and ideology that you want your team to perpetuate.  I’ve been competing in weightlifting meets for a long time (around 70 meets total) and after all these years I can clearly see who was coached by whom by how they lift, what they value in training and what their strengths are.  When I started to look more closely at US, I began considering what WE value in training, what our process should look like and the overall ideology I want us to personify.  That’s where the whole concept of the “yamdancer” came into play (a story I’ll retell again at some point).  At the end of the day, all we’re doing here is throwing weights above our head for fun.  But whenever you have a group of people come together for a like purpose, certain considerations need to be taken to ensure that the entire group benefits.

Trust in the group.  Trust in yourself.  Trust the process.  #yamdancer

BWBB Progress.

January 10, 2015

BWBB=Bodyweight workouts for big biscuits.

Fairly certain I'm about to level up and gain levitation powers.

Fairly certain I’m about to level up and gain levitation powers.

Alright, here’s the top half of my list. Really, the ranking system is meant to force me to make decisions about what should stay or go. But just like all music lists, the ranking means essentially nothing because it’s all subjective anyways; A snapshot in time if you will. I will know if I did a good job or not a year or so later when I either continually revisit an artist NOT on the list or rarely if ever listen to the tracks at the top of the list.

1) Sylvan Esso-Hey Mami.

Surprised? Yeah, me too. I based this list for the most part on the amount of plays a song gets and how often I skip over it. I just think this is a REALLY good pop song. It’s like the best of what pop could be. Talented singer. Skilled production. It just works, man. I’m sure the rest of the album is pretty interesting too but I honestly haven’t given it a chance yet. The question is will this buzz group be a one time deal or will they get together again to prove otherwise. I remember being REALLY into James Blake like 2 or 3 years ago but I haven’t been into him since. Only time will tell, really. There’s two shows that I’m upset that I couldn’t get tickets for this part year: Pallbearer (who puts on an amazing live performance BTW) and Sylvan Esso.

2) Swans-Screen Shot.

I’m not a huge fan of this band but only because I haven’t really investigated their huge amount of material that they’ve released since the 80s. My introduction to them was the album, “the Seer” which I loved. Creepy. Dark. Unsettling. And also very me. This track also contains all of those elements. “Anxious” is a word I would use to describe it, as the stuttering groove slowly degrades into an infected mess of awesomeness. Repeat listens reward. Give it a shot.

3) Woods-Moving to the Left.

Nothing like some drugged up folk-rock with extended jam sessions. I’ve seen these guys play live in . . . get this . . . A THRIFT STORE. Can you think of anything more hip than that? Didn’t think so. Moving along.

4) King Dude-Fear is all you know.


I actually heard about this guy though his clothing company, ACTUAL PAIN. And as luck would have it, he AND Earth came to Sacramento for a sick show, brah. I’m into Americana. I’m into dark music. The combination works surprisingly well here. This guy’s got a mean baritone and a stage presence to match. His evil howls grow more and more aggressive as the song comes to a conclusion. I bought a vinyl and apparently it has a secret message to decode on it . . . not sure if I want to.

5) Pallbearer-Foundations.

Pallbearer is hands down the best live show I’ve been to in the past couple years. I went to see them at a small, shady ass club in Oakland on MLK Boulevard. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but if a street is named after Martin Luther King, it automatically sucks. Anyways, it was a great show. The new album was good. It didn’t immediately put me in that special mood like the first one did, but it was solid. This track represents the best qualities of the album. Dynamic doom metal that casts aside the occult shtick and replaces it with interesting melodies and rhythm changes. They don’t just milk the same riff for an hour and a half (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But sometimes you just need a little more. These guys deliver.

6) Godflesh-New Dark Ages.

I was unaware of this group until this new record came out. I guess they’ve been releasing stuff since the 80’s. You can definitely hear it too. I love the rhythmic qualities and electronic percussion. As a whole, the album is fun to listen to. There’s something about the mix, almost lacking in highs altogether. I’m into it though.

7) Bongripper-Endless.

There’s this stoner metal documentary I like called, Such Hawks Such Hounds. Sleep and their seminal opus, Dopesmoker is obviously a large topic because of how perfectly it captured the genre. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s one song and it’s 52 minutes long. So this stoner guy is adding his commentary and he’s all like, “sometimes a riff is so fucking good that you just want to hear it over and over again . . . sometimes . . . for 52 minutes.” This song is only a measly 17 minutes long, but I like it for the same reason. Sometimes you don’t want to mess something up with vocals. Sometimes you just want to pay homage to the riff . . . sometimes . . . for 17 minutes. The mix is way better on this album compared to their earlier release. It was heavy. But somehow the recording just DIDN’T FEEL HEAVY ENOUGH. This one does though. I like getting to the gym when I know no one is there and just blast this and get myself in THE ZONE.

8) Junip-Line of Fire.

I’m into Jose Gonzalez. If you are too, then you’ll like this track. ’Nuff said I guess.

9) The War on Drugs-Red Eyes.

So these guys got thrown into a feud with Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon, mostly because he’s a doucher (or at least he likes to play one for the public). He even wrote a song about how he hates The War on Drugs for a number of reasons including “because they’re the whitest band ever” and a bunch of other nonsense which I found hilarious. But if I had to choose, I’d choose The War on Drugs. Mostly because of THIS song. It’s just so triumphant, man. It makes me feel like a child again, like everything going to be alright and we’re going to go out dancing in the rain and roll down hills and stare into the fire sipping chai lattes. But seriously, it’s a great song. Listen to it and try not to be in a good mood.

10) At The Gates-At War with Reality.

I admit it. I hadn’t listened to these guys until 2014. I had actually just downloaded their melo-death standard, Slaughter of the Soul when I heard they would be releasing a new album after like FOURTEEN YEARS. You knew people would be excited about it. Even I was and I’m a brand new fan. The album didn’t disappoint (me anyways). Can it compete with Slaughter the Soul? No; Doesn’t have to in my opinion.

Welp, there’s my list.  If there’s interest, I post some honorable mentions of the year or perhaps some of my favorite albums.  What was your favorite thing to listen to this year?

Still to come this week:

I finish my top 20 list.

Year end videos.