Hello, my spandex sidekick!  Welcome back to my sweaty corner of the internet.

I'm going to need a mop up in aisle 2.
I’m going to need a mop up in aisle 2.

I’ve mentioned previously that, on the list of admirable facets of my wife, Melissa, “Jazzercise Instructor’ ranks high up there right after “Ability to patiently tolerate a difficult spouse”.  I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned that she did this instructor job as a hobby, second to her primary career path as a patent-filing paralegal.   Well, after 5 years of hard service, the job got to a stress level that she could no longer tolerate, and so she exited stage left with middle fingers erect, at the beginning of April.

April has be an interesting month, then, because while I am around the house doing my normal job (for which I work from home), Melissa is also now just hanging around, working on household projects or learning new Jazzercise routines.   She’s much less stressed out and far happier, which makes me happy as well.  She’s always been one to make up songs spontaneously, but the other night I heard her making up a song about herself, from within the echoing concert halls of her shower, titled “One hundred percent muscle woman!”.   She’s always one for flexing her muscly form, forcing me to acknowledge her toned physique, and now we have a new song to serve as the soundtrack.


Probably also worth noting that this is the same woman who declared that she would NEVER work out, about 2 years ago.   #100PercentMuscleWoman

I hit 100 classes since Jan 1 at Jazzercise yesterday, so I’m 2/3rds of the way to my low-shouldered t-shirt.  The Helene watch is in full effect, but I am pretty sure there’s a good handful of classmates that have up to 120 classes at this point, so there’s no way I’m winning this contest.  Still, at this rate, I should have it around July 4th.  What better way to celebrate America’s Independence Day than liberating my swarthy shoulders from the confines of their oppressive garments.  Classmates will stop and stare at my shimmies, considering whether Michelangelo should have painted me on some cathedral ceiling instead of that “Adam” lump, who probably had very few jazzercise classes under his belt, comparatively.

Melissa recently ordered a few North Face sports bras.  These have a pocket built into the front of them, presumably so a runner could stow small necessities in there.  It even came with a little suggestion card as to what you should put inside this feature, depicting money, pills and a key to a car.  Melissa remarked that this Bra sounds like its advertising a pretty kickass party that we should RSVP to.  I went the other way with it:  fearing that North Face could encounter litigation for improper use of this pocket, they should instead display a placard of things that they recommend SHOULDN’T go in there, like a pet hedgehog, pink fiberglass attic insulation, or scalding hot coffee.  Of course, Melissa’s immutable singularity of focus meant that this pocket would be used for one specific item: candy.  “I can’t wait until I wear this to Jazzercise and announce that I’m going to pull a snickers bar out of my bra in the middle of class!” she exclaimed.

Wherever this bra is up to, I want in!
The actual suggestion card included:  Wherever this bra is up to, I want in!

Finally, May 1st marks “Sassy Pants Day” at Jazzercise.  This is basically the Jazzercise High-Holidays, a time of remembrance and reflection for our people, as well as celebration.   Everyone is required to source out some non-black, non-boring exercise clothes, and try to out-sassy their peers.  I’m thinking about ordering this little number to really ring in the warm weather.

So i just go ahead and pour the bleach directly on my eyeballs after seeing this?  Or dilute it down with gasoline?
So i just go ahead and pour the bleach directly on my eyeballs after seeing this? Or dilute it down with gasoline?

Bro Pills for Jazzercise

You may think, my dear reader, that I exist in binary, in one of two states:  at Jazzercise or waiting to Jazzercise.   I’ll admit to getting itchy and anxious, and needing to get my plié squats on to some Taylor Swift after a particularly sedentary day.   You know, #justdudestuff.   On rare occasions, I find that I’m having trouble mustering the motivation that you’d expect someone high on the 150 class challenge leaderboards to have no issue with.  I’ve got to chase down and surpass Helene, after all, like a stalking cheetah sneaking up on jazzercising wildebeest.

It's every man for themselves on the path to 150 classes.   The weak will not survive.
The sirens will try to distract you on your path to 150 classes.  This is no journey for the weak willed.

On Wednesday of this week, however, I was not feeling it.  My muscles were sore, and my energy was low.   Then I remembered that I had a bottle of GNC workout pills that some clerk had talked me into a couple years back when I was on a fitness binge.  These are the huge horse pills that you take 6 of, 30 minutes before you work out.  They taste awful, but contain caffeine and stimulants to make you want to work out, and then fat burners and other things that are supposed to intensify the results.  I checked the bottom of the jar, and they were still before their expiry date.  “How many is the right amount if I’m just dancing around to Rhianna?” I wondered.  “Do I really need six?  Could it possibly trigger a freak out at jazzercise and end with me trying to bench press Helene?”   Might I get so aggressive that I put an elbow through the wall during a particularly jabby Britany Spears number?  What if, after several low impact numbers, I angrily commandeer the ipod and force the class to do a full hour of jumping in place to Pitbull’s “Mmm Yeah”.  So many worrisome questions and hypothetical scenarios that might put me at odds with the jazzercise elders.

Get ready for a bro-down
Get ready for a bro-down

The aforementioned pump up pills are in a bottle from GNC labeled “Rampant: Beyond Raw”, and containing as many bold-typeface bro words as they could fit on the front of the logo.  Descriptors like “Intense Pumps”, “Razor Sharp Focus”, “Vascularity” “Combat Free radicals” remind you that these aren’t your grandma’s Rampant brand workout pills – you need a Harley Davidson, a tribal shoulder tattoo and an Affliction t-shirt to even be allowed to buy the jar.   So I took 3 of them, figuring they might get me most of the way there to a well-motivated state, but not enough to require spiking my hair up and shaving in a ornately styled goatee.

Rampant d-baggery
Rampant d-baggery

I DID get more pumped up, though.  My moves were intense, my energy reserves were high, and I ended the first hour of class without either a wardrobe change or even touching my water bottle.   Yeah, I usually have to bring a second t-shirt to class because I sweat through the first one after an hour – remember… we talked about how gross and sweaty I am in an early edition?    I don’t know how much of the detected energy boost was placebic, but It was something I noticed.

I entered a couple 5k races over the next two saturdays.  It dawned on me that I haven’t run in a coordinated race since High School Cross Country – nearly 20 years.  So, I’m trying to parlay my jazzercise-earned fitness credits into alternate disciplines.   I’ll let you know how they go – the first one is this Saturday.  Perhaps my jazzercise bro-pills will be leveraged to gain a needed competitive edge!

Bro Pills for Jazzercise

Follow me on tumblr!

Hey, again.  Are you on Tumblr, and annoyed I use wordpress for blogging?  Well good news, my whinging fan!  I’ve set up cross posting of my content over there, and migrated my archive of posts over there for you to enjoy.  Also, between us, some hashtagging may or may not have occurred.  So now you have your choice of content delivery method!

It’s not perfect, rendering-wise, on non-mobile devices.  Still tweaking the formatting.  I think wordpress is a way more full-featured platform, but the kids and their damned phones…  you know how it is.

follow me at http://Mazzercise.tumblr.com

Follow me on tumblr!

Where’d I go?!

Sorry, dear reader, for my absence of late.  I’ve taken a few weeks off from blogging, or at least, from posting what I’ve been writing.   A queue of them has formed on my laptop, but  they didn’t pass hilarity muster.   Quality control is very important over here, at Mazzercise central.

Still, I bring good news.  The charged smell of of competition and gym socks is back in the air.   I am, at present, about 85 Jazzercise classes into the year.  I go to a lot of back-to-back classes, and so they stack up quickly, and remind me that I’m on a lunatic binge.  What does it matter, you wonder, that I’m even bothering to count?  It so happens there is…..


soak in the majesty!
soak in the majesty!

Look at that amazing low shouldered number!  And I had just shaved mine the other day and was looking for something to show them off about town!  If I wear this down to the local watering hole, do you think I’ll get some free drinks out of it?

Every year, Jazzercise offers the “150 Class Challenge”.  If you can swing 150 classes before Dec 31st rolls around on the calendar, you are ceremoniously bestowed the pictured item.  You are now a black belt rank, and you must use your time-honed dance skills only for good – never to hurt.

This is the SuperBowl of Jazzercise, incidentally.  Hitting this magical number means your name goes in the book, and a polaroid of you goes on the class bulletin board starting in the upper left corner, in the order in which they are earned.  There the winners align, beaming in workout spandex at their lofty achievement.  My heart is smitten with the thought of actually being the first person this year to earn this prestigious honor, with my polarid thumbtacked firstmost in the upper left corner.  What colossal bragging rights to knock this goal out by June, and have the rest of the year to bask in my newfound prestige and casually humblebrag a little.  I could saunter up to folks before class in my new, more revealing workout gear and ask if they’d checked out the winners on the bulletin board.  “Oh, just me up there still?  I haven’t looked at it since the photo shoot, and that was so long ago!”

It was a better time.  Rainbows were coming out of most stuff.
It was a better time. Rainbows were coming out of most stuff.

But this is not a prize so easily won by an increasingly fit 37 year old man, in the prime of his life.   I’m likely to be outjazzercised by the yearly winner,  a feisty 5 foot tall octogenarian named Helene.  When it comes to the 150 day challenge, Helene is ruthless – like the Ghengis Khan of Jazzercise shirt winning.  She does more double classes than I do, and more consistently.   I warned her in class that I just may slash her tires one day to sabotage her ability to rack up classes for a bit, so I could catch up.  I remind her she should be enjoying her golden years in southernly climates more often.   She complains that someone keeps leaving torn pages from a TV guide on her workout bag, with Matlock or Downton Abbey marathons circled in highlighter and paperclipped to coupons for pizza delivery.   Still, when i see Helene’s class count well over 90, i sigh a little bit at the inevitable.

I think I’m going to look pretty sweet in that thing, regardless which side of Helene’s polaroid I end up.

This may cause the very threads of space-time to unravel.
This may cause the very threads of space-time to unravel.

Another bit of news:  A rare occurrence was observed and documented at Melissa’s 11am class, last Saturday.  A visiting instructor from the Baltimore area was in town for Easter and came to our center with her jazzercising husband!  Gasps were elicited from the class when they walked in, and more than one fuscia 2lb hand-weight was dropped to cover a mouth agape.  Photos were taken to capture such an event; another husband / wife jazzercise couple, beaming in workout spandex and rarer than a bigfoot sighting, made the jazzercise facebook rounds that evening.

Favorite current Jazzercise routine:  Uptown Funk.  It pushes the upper limits of how much sassy hip walking scientists can pack into a 4 minute song.  We are really living in a golden age.

Where’d I go?!


Hola, mi amigo bueno!  Thanks for returning to the #1 Neurotic-guy-goes-to-Jazzercise blog on the internet!  I’ll assume it’s due to your enjoyment of my musings and you’re back for another installment! But, in light of some confused emails I’ve been receiving, it’s equally possible that you are here due to a misspelled URL, and so I welcome all the “Mezza Sides: a Forum for Lebanese Appetizer Recipes” folks with open arms to our burgeoning collective.  It may have been a feta accompli that brought you here, but we’re very grateful to have you among hummus.

Oh man, i think i like their website way better.
Oh man, i think i like their website way better.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the ancient Zen Buddhist Koan “If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?” as a topic to meditate on.  An equally perplexing puzzle I’m working on is this: “When we observe the average, Midwestern, Caucasian man in his natural habitat, does he ever intentionally dance for enjoyment?”   With binoculars in hand, I’ve been conducting field studies, trying to observe this rare behavior and dutifully jot it in my logbook.   A sample:

your courageous author at work

May 27th, 2014.  Wedding.  Witnessed an already red-faced and tipsy well-dressed lawyer-type finish his bourbon and be pulled by his arm onto the dance floor by his pleading wife, where he proceeded to stand in the same spot and move his arms in a circle while the DJ spun Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative”.   Disregarded due to drunkenness of subject, and his abandoning the song completely before the kickass breakdown part where Bobby talks to the audience.

File Photo, May 27th: Jubilant gyrations, or a spinal cord injury?

June 16th, 2014.  Dance Club ( the Lava Lounge), 80’s night. Examined what looked to be a frat boy set down an empty Heineken next to a row of other empty Heinekens, leave his group of friends at the bar and head over to a crowd of females who were already dancing.  At first, awkwardly swaying near them to the sounds of Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rappers Delight”, and then finally moving in for a full on pelvic grind with a less attractive one that he deemed receptive to his advances.  After the song, the females were perceived rolling their eyes, collecting their heels from the corner and relocating themselves across the room from “that annoying Chad douche”.  Disregarded due to being an affront to the female subject, and general lack of game.

File Photo, June 16th:  Mission Abort – the handsome one just spotted me!

August 21st, 2014.  A concert by my own Reggae band, “The Pressure” @ The Thunderbird.  Observed several in crowd bend at the knees a little to the groove for a few songs, remark to each other that music “just wasn’t that good” and “also very weird that the guy singing was staring at them curiously and writing in some sort of notebook mid-song”, and then sit back down in the bar area and avoid eye contact for the rest of the night.  Disregarded due to lack of sufficiently appealing music.

the pressure
File Photo: August 21st. The audience was sparse and booze sales were weak.

And the list goes on and on!  To this day, there still has been no AH-HA moment of irrefutable, substantiated evidence proving that it happens. I still haven’t given up hope, though.  Murphy’s law states  that on the day I choose to abandon the pursuit, I’ll accidentally eavesdrop on two men hunting in a tree blind, and one will turn to the other and say “I can’t wait for Sally’s wedding next weekend so I can bust out some moves I’ve been polishing up in front of the mirror.  Do you think the DJ will play “Uptown Funk?’”

We can only speculate on reasons behind the general lack of interest in dancing in this demographic, but I can tell you, dauntless devotee,  that I’m working to buck the trend.  I have a new found satisfaction in the protocol of getting funky in predictable intervals, doing my best to unburden myself of preconceived notions or judgment, and just do what I derive enjoyment from.  If I want to do a sassy hip walk to an Enrique Iglesias song, I’m doing it, and I don’t care if those around me mock me, judge me, or yell angrily from their car windows to get out of the middle of a busy intersection or that I’m blocking the entrance to Costco.

ready yourself for the fitness revolution
ready yourself for the fitness revolution

There’s not a square to spare

Hello, intrepid spirit.  Today is a wonderful day – the weather is slowly warming and the snow is totally melted.  Yesterday I rode my Vespa for the first time all year, a sure sign that spring is about to break.  Beforehand, I texted my wife: “Today I will ride my Vespa to Jazzercise”  which may go down as being the least manly thing ANYONE has ever said to anyone, ever.

The center I go to is basically a mile away, all via neighborhood back roads and driving around a large park my house is adjacent to.  There was a big crowd of teenage skateboarders in the park, and I beeped the anemic buzzer of a horn at them in greeting.  Vintage Vespas have practically inaudible horns, conveying the sense of urgency of a polite elderly British man clearing his throat to get someone’s attention; so weak that usually bystanders can’t even determine where the sound is coming from. Folks were walking down the main street area and kids stopped to look at me, and were met with more buzzer horn.  I was just happy to be warm and in the sun, but I’m sure more than one of their parents thought I was a very friendly but lonely weirdo on his way to do something questionable, which is only partially true.

what people were thinking as i puttered by
The normal response to seeing a 6’5″ man riding a little Vespa in workout clothing

I am down about 10 pounds from when I started weighing myself, a month ago. (Started at 228, now at 218)   I’m at the point where there are major physical changes going on.  My little spare tire belly I had been so carefully fostering with Little Caesars deep dish pizza and Cookie Cakes, purchased not for a child’s birthday party but rather for my sole enjoyment, has already receded noticeably. For the first time in a long time I feel like I could expose my shirtless body in public without someone throwing a garden tarp over me and then scolding me for ruining their child’s piano recital.

I can't believe i ate the whole cookie cake
I can’t believe i ate the whole cookie cake

I am currently frustrating my wife by trying to maximize my fitness improvements through calorie counting using the “My Fitness Pal” app, aka  “I ate 3 Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs and a bag of Baked Lays at 2am when i got up to let the dog out, for a total of 380 calories.”  Of all the fitness apps that I have used over time, this one is easily the best, but it does cause some conflict around the house. Melissa rolls her eyes when I ask how many cups of Farfalle pasta we just ate, or how many teaspoons of ranch dressing she thought was on the salad for dinner, and whether it was light or full fat ranch.

I mail ordered a pair of these but they still haven't arrived!
I am a man of action.  I require action pants with an extra large snack sack, for cookie cake storage

Melissa is on a different diet kick – she and some of her friends just started doing the “Squares” diet yesterday, aka the “Beachbody diet”.   You purchase a pack of various sized and colored Tupperware containers, and use them to control your portions.  You’re allowed 3 large green containers full of veggies each day, for example, but only one of a very tiny sized pink container used for sweets.  Do you remember the episode of Simpsons where the tractor-trailer full of Sugar crashes in front of Homer’s house and he steals a bunch of it and tries to sell it as his own?   I swear the whole “Squares” diet started because a Tupperware-bearing truck wiped out in front of some enterprising businessman’s house, and as he stared at the boxes piled to the ceiling of the garage he thought “how can I sell Tupperware at a 1000% markup to people with discretionary income?”   And so the Squares diet was born.

it's just that simple!
How the hell am i going to fit a cookie cake in there?

Anyways, whatever silly thing you are trying to do to get healthy, keep at it.  I’ll keep you appraised of any entertaining squares stories.

*EDIT*  Melissa just texted to tell me that Starburst don’t count against this diet because they are already square, so she feels justified in eating a handful.

There’s not a square to spare

In Defense of Ke$ha; The Erosion of The Punk Rock Ethos

Good citizen, it’s wonderful to have you present in my tiny corner of the interweb.  Recline back in that Ikea Poang chair I picked up for your comfort, and I’ll regale you with another installment.

I'm a big dude.  The tiny one is your seat.
I’m a big dude. The tiny one is your seat.

I have been playing in bands since I was about 16, to the absolute horror of both of my parents.  My father played guitar in bands through high school and college in NYC in the wild years of the 1960s, and so when I was born my parents had determined from his experiences that they didn’t want their son anywhere near those kind of bad influences.  When I was in 5th grade, I wanted a Casio keyboard more than anything.  My parents allowed me to buy one, but only on the condition that I not join a band and fall into the rockstar lifestyle of booze and loveless sex, as so many 5th graders do.  I believe I had to sign a document to agree to my parents’ terms and conditions for the Casio keyboard.  At 16, I actually broke my Casio contract and joined a punk rock band. I’m now 37 and there have been few times in my life where I wasn’t active in a group.  It’s one of the most important and satisfying things in my life.

Music is a sexy analog mistress, and a life of bacchanal is always just one shitty drum loop away
Music is a sexy analog mistress, and a life of bacchanal is one always just one shitty drum loop away

Being in a band is comprised of some things you would assume, like practices and playing shows, and a whole lot of other rigmarole that you don’t think about, like learning new songs, writing set lists, and trying to keep that set list fresh and interesting.   Now that Melissa is an instructor, she has the exact problems i have.  She creates set lists and learns new songs constantly.  She gets excited about big classes that holler out cheers of encouragement during her sets.  In the same way, I return from a show I played excited because of the positive response we’d received from the crowd. Similarly , Melissa and I now commiserate when we performed to an anemic reaction.   After 8 years of being together, we now have this in common and can fully empathize.

How much would attendance improve if this guy was spinning records in class?
You must select a whole hour of good music to play, lest you be judged a Jive Turkey by your peers.

When Melissa started going to Jazzercise, an almost immediate change in her musical tastes occurred.  Because she was always so busy trying to learn songs, the music in her car changed from Vampire Weekend, The Shins, The Smiths, and other underground / alt indie fare, to Pitbull, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, etc.  This irked me like crazy and I complained heartily.  To me, Top 40 was overproduced corporate bullshit with little redeeming value, like the sonic equivalent of a McDonalds hamburger.

the wave of pop songs swarmed over me and pinched at my tender parts until I submitted
the wave of pop songs swarmed over me and pinched at my tender parts until I submitted

Instructors can’t just choose whatever songs they want, though, and do leglifts for an hour to Black Sabbath’s Paranoid album.  They get these DVDs in the mail regularly, with all the latest routines.  In order for a set list to be considered “legal”, it has to be comprised primarily of new songs- stuff that is current on the radio.  As a result, you end up hearing A LOT of songs by the aforementioned Top 40s artists, and they start to grow on you, despite your best efforts to resist.  On some level it’s completely Pavlovian;  when you work out you release all sorts of happy brain chemicals and hormones, and so your brain begins to develop happy feelings about those songs when they come on at Jazzercise or anywhere else.   For weeks, I’ve been walking around the house singing “Adios” by Ricky Martin and moving my arms in some graceful swoops.   Last night I remarked to my wife “You know, I think I really like Fall Out Boy!”

The 16 year old, leather jacket wearing, punk-rock me is rolling around in his safety-pin and patch festooned grave.

Would the me from 20 years ago kick current me's ass if he knew?
Your author, age 17
In Defense of Ke$ha; The Erosion of The Punk Rock Ethos