Sunday, October 25, 2009

The R. Crumb Genesis!

I don't have this volume in hand yet, but I plan to soon. Yes, that icon of Lowbrow Art, R. Crumb, has published an illustrated volume based on the Biblical book of Genesis. For a number of reasons, this is tremendously exciting to me.

For those who don't recognize the name "R. Crumb", this might refresh your memories:

I knew from a pretty early age that R. Crumb and I were kindred spirits in a lot of ways. His description, in word and drawing, regarding his career as a school kid, made me like him right away.
In high school, the cartoonist was a nerd who could not get a date. As his autobiographical drawings of his high school days illustrate, he was permanently wounded by his adolescent peers' rejection.

Later I learned that, like me, he had experimented with LSD, and was a fan of female bodybuilders.

So, I have a lot of reasons to be interested in the work of R. Crumb. And I love the Bible, including the book of Genesis. So, the confluence of these two streams in the release of an R. Crumb Genesis Illustrated is just an amazing thing to me.

I will be very interested to see how he treats subjects like the destruction of Sodom.

Crumb's reasons for being interested in Genesis are probably complex, but would certainly include the lurid, earthy nature of the stories in Genesis:

HUGHES: Is God going to look like Mr. Natural?

CRUMB: Nah. He has a white beard but he actually ended up looking more like my father. He has a very masculine face like my father. My problem was, how am I going to draw God? Should I just draw him as a light in the sky that has dialogue balloons coming out from it? Then I had this dream. God came to me in this dream, only for a split second, but I saw very clearly what he looked like. And I thought, ok, there it is, I've got God.

HUGHES: And what did she look like?

CRUMB: I went through that whole thing too; maybe I'll draw God as a black woman. But if you actually read the Old Testament he's just an old, cranky Jewish patriarch. It's a lot of fun doing Genesis, actually. It's very visual. It's lurid. Full of all kinds of crazy, weird things that will really surprise people.

I will give a report on this volume after I've had a chance to look it over for myself.

A Re-run, But Well Worth Watching!

I've posted this before, but I cannot help posting it again. It is SO good!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thingie Fest 2008 - Slot Car Drag Racing

I am only about 11 months late in processing this drag racing video, a grudge match between my Anglican Beach Party Anglia, and Eliot's Royal Oak Public Schools S'Cool Bus.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lying and Evangelism

Before I "asked bodybuilding into my heart" I used to be a runner. I did a lot of 5K and 10K races, and even ran the Los Angeles Marathon one year. To get ready for the races, of course, I had to train a lot. This meant running on local streets.

In those old days, despite having no gift for running, I used to push myself pretty hard, certainly to the point of discomfort, on every run. But I developed a habit of smiling as cars or pedestrians passed me. My idea, which seems crazy to me now, was that I didn't want to be a "bad witness" for running. I didn't want pain on my face to dissuade anyone from taking up this healthy activity.

I believe that we Christians often do the same thing in our lives. When in the presence of unbelievers, for whose conversion to The Faith we pray, we often mask our pain, our disappointments. We want our unsaved friends to know that if they follow Jesus, they will be well taken care of, free of trouble and concern. Sometimes, though, this amounts to lying. Just like I lied with my face when I was running.

I now believe that more good would be done were we to be always authentic with our friends, believers and unbelievers alike. The fact that God's will for us may be to be in difficulties and pain does not refute His lordship. If we lie to make converts, and we succeed, what will our friends think of us or of God when they face difficulties as new Christians ... difficulties we pretended not to face?

My sense of this is that you cannot advance God's kingdom by deception.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

TEc Re-Imagines Itself

As you know, I rarely have anything good to say about The Episcopal church ... but this time I must applaud them.

As this video signals, they have re-defined themselves. No longer are they a church. They are now an International Health and Wellness Advocacy Group.

Congratulations on their new mission. It is a good fit for them. They were no good at trying to be a church.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

YouTube Schadenfreude ... RUINED!

There. He did it again.

God, as is His wont, has once again ruined for me a perfectly good moment of schadenfreude.

I was just minding my own business, watching this most excellent YouTube offering, in which a foul-mouthed fatty "goes off" on some fast-food restaurant workers.

And just as I was thinking what a loser this guy was, and how beautifully he had PWNED himself by angrily yelling "a whole ... half hour" God taps me on the shoulder. I hate it when He does that. "Umm ... son?" He didn't even really have to say what came next:

You are the man!

But, you see, when the Almighty says this to me, it is not like your sports buddies lauding you with "You da man!". It is, rather, a recapitulation of the prophet Nathan's words to King David.

You see, while I might not share the YouTube fatty's level of Gluttony, there is another sin I have shared with him: Wrath (a.k.a., Anger). Just last night, I flew into a similar (though, mercifully, shorter) rage against my son, because he forgot some Geometry fact I had taught him.

This kind of sinful display is not nearly as much fun to watch once you realize you have done similar things yourself. And then, I thought: What if my daughter had been there, and had captured my wrath on her cell phone camera ... and posted it on YouTube. It is a chilling thought.

And then, I thought about Andy Warhol, and how he famously said that in the future (we now live in his prophesied future!) everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. And I wondered to myself: Did Andy also imagine the corrolary: that each of us would have our 15 minutes of photojournalistic fame, behind the camera, as well as the 15 minutes in front of it?

And then, my thoughts flew to Flannery O'Connor, and her story A Good Man Is Hard To Find, in which the character called The Misfit says about the grandmother he has just murdered:

"She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

And then, I thought: What if there was someone to take video of me every minute of my life? Would I, perhaps, be a better man? As Christians, we all tend to laugh at the notion of Jack Chick's Big Screen, but we forget that it is, at root, true. My resolution for today is to live as if my daughter is filming my every word and action, and will post it all to YouTube.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Interview with Figure Competitor Shelly Howard

It was my pleasure recently to interview Shelly Howard, a Figure competitor who I saw compete at the 2009 IFBB North American Championships in Cleveland, Ohio.

Hi Shelly. My son and I were at the IFBB North Americans in Cleveland (August 29, 2009) and saw you compete. I thought you looked great! I would have had you 2nd (after Silvana Salvati) in the Masters Figure class.

How many Figure contests have you entered in all? (Also, did you compete in bodybuilding before that?)

My first show was the Galaxy (obstacle course/physique show) in 1996 in Venice, California. I had no idea about diet or training back then, just knew I liked competing. There were 200+ girls in that show, and I didn’t even make the top 150! I then pursued my Personal Training degree and did the Galaxy again in 1999, where I placed in the top 15. After that I did 2 bodybuilding shows and placed in the top 5 of each show. Then in 2001 I did a Fitness Show and was hooked on the Figure look, which took hold of me in 2002 until the present.

What made you want to compete in Figure competitions? Do you like being up on stage on contest day, or do you use it as a motivational goal? Or, perhaps, some other reason?

Figure is a more attainable and pleasing look for women, in my opinion. I like being small, tight without too much muscle (AKA, looking “in shape”). I use competing as a way to keep myself in shape. For half the year I’m training and dieting, and then the other half is an “off-time” to enjoy food and my family.

What is your training like? How would your training differ from that of a bodybuilder, if at all?

I used to train exactly like a bodybuilder would; heavy compound movements (bench, squat, rows,etc.). Then about 5 years ago, after the Figure judges kept telling me I looked too much like a bodybuilder, I changed my training technique to more high rep, circuit movements like super-setting lunges with pushups, etc. Since I’ve already put on enough muscle for my frame, I don’t have to lift heavy at all anymore. And during competition prep, my cardio is high: 1.5 to 2 hours per day, 5 days a week.

What has been the reaction of your family and friends to the changes in your physique? I know you are currently living in Okinawa, Japan, so I am particularly interested in knowing the reaction of people there.

My husband has always known me to be a workout fanatic, so he’s not shocked at anything I do! My family gets a little concerned when my body fat gets low (under 10% for my shows) but overall, they are proud of my achievements. In Japan, they are impressed and very respectful of muscularity, especially on women. They always say “Sugoi” which means “great” when they see my arms. Plus being 5’9” here, puts me in the spotlight most places we go off-base.

Do you find that people (outside of competitors and fans) can understand the distinction between Figure and Women’s Bodybuilding? For many, I’m sure you must fit in with their conception of a bodybuilder.

NO! All my friends from high school always ask how my bodybuilding is going. When I try to explain Figure, they ask, “so what do you DO?”

Some Figure competitors have expressed confusion over judging standards for this class. Do you find it confusing, or do you lose any sleep over “what the judges are looking for”?

I used to get very depressed (and angry) after my shows. Especially back when Figure was new, and they kept telling me that I was too big, and too lean. I couldn’t imagine being too IN SHAPE?! But now that I’ve been in it over 8 years, I see the distinction, and frankly don’t like it anymore. The older I get, the more vascular and lean and hard I look when I diet. I cannot fit into the “soft, shapely” look of a 20-something year old. But I’m also not upset anymore. Every year, I get into BETTER shape for my shows. My pictures from show to show improve in my eyes, and that’s all that matters. If I were only doing this to impress the judges, I would have quit years ago.

What can you tell me about your personal training business? It look like from your website ( that you train other Figure competitors. Do you also train non-competitors who just want to get in better shape?

I started out training only non-competitors. Now, the majority of my business are competitors or athletes. My time is very important to me. I need clients who are willing to go “there”… eat and train like I do, or at least give me 110%. I don’t have the patience or time for anything else. Plus, it gives great results and makes my job easier!

If you had to give one piece of advice to someone just starting out in Figure, what would it be?

Research how to eat and train correctly! There’s a lot of information out there. I see so many women doing hours of cardio in the gym without results – wasting so much time and getting frustrated. Find someone who knows how to help get you into shape. Check out their reputation and previous clients. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about their experience. There are too many “trainers” out there who don’t know what they are doing.

Do you have any other notable interests or hobbies outside of Figure competitions and personal training?

I have two sons; 6 and 3 yrs old. My 6 yr old is now in first grade so we’re experiencing all the extra-curricular things he’s into: gymnastics, karate, boy scouts, etc. I want to be a good, involved mom, so that’s my other passion!

What would you consider as one of your greatest successes in life so far?

Being married for more than 13 years now, and having 2 well adjusted, healthy children. Plus being almost 40 and in the best shape of my life.

What are your plans for the future? Do you have a "next contest" picked out?

After my last show, it was clear to me that my body isn’t what the judges like for Figure. So I’m going to tackle Fitness. If I can get my flexibility where it needs to be, my next show will the Emerald Cup in Seattle WA in 2010. IF I can qualify for a national Fitness show, there’s a MUCH better chance of getting a pro card in Fitness.

Thanks, Shelly! I wish you much success in all your future endeavors.

(Shelly also has a blog: )

Friday, October 2, 2009

2nd Annual Hot Rod Anglican CafePress Awards

Is it October again already? It seems like just yesterday that I announced the 1st Annual Hot Rod Anglican CafePress Awards !

To review the rules: I go to , type the word "Anglican" into the Search field, and click "Go!" ... then I report back on what I find.

Here are the winners of the 2009 competition.

The Church and State Award goes to this fine trio of entries:

For Best Imaginary Super-Power, our winner is:

The Truth-in-Advertising award goes to:

In the Worst Visual Mixed Metaphor category, the clear winner was:

The Famous Anglican Name-Dropper award goes to:

For Slogan Least Likely to Actually Be Ordered On a Feed Cap:

The Unintentional Proclamation of Truth award went (unanimously!) to this design, proudly proclaiming the entire absence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit from The Episcopal church:

The Best Use of Redundant Redundancy award was very close, but the winner is:

In the T-Shirt I Would Actually Wear division, this entry emerged victorious:

In the Best Gift for your Bishop category, this winner is a must-buy item!

In the Best Adaptation of the Radioactive Fallout Symbol competition, this was the clear winner:

In the Best Use of Soviet Style Art, this won by a kilometer!

And, finally in the I Hope That Is A Heart And Not What I Think It Is category, this "Made in the USA" Gene Robinson thong was the decisive winner: