From The News … Sort Of

      34 Comments on From The News … Sort Of

This isn’t exactly a From The News post because the topics are from real life instead of news articles. Nonetheless …

Food and virtual drummers

The virtual drummer in Logic Pro, which I use to record and produce music, got me thinking about diets. Yeah, it’s a strange connection to make, but that’s how I roll.  I’ll explain.

If you’re a longtime reader, you’ve probably noticed I’m not sticking to my longtime schedule of two posts per week. That’s because there are only so many hours in a week, and I’ve decided I need to finish a music project.

When Fat Head hit Netflix and the streaming services, I received quite a few emails from people asking me where they could buy the music from the film. For a long time, I answered We’re working on that. It was true when I said it. The film’s composer and I had planned to expand some of the short bits of music (“Sugar, sugar … makes me want to be with you …”) into full songs and release them on iTunes. Then he ran into some family and personal issues, including a serious health problem, and eventually told me he needed to abandon the project.

I wrote all the music for Fat Head Kids myself, save for the Fat Head theme that plays for a few seconds. I also wrote two of the songs for the original Fat Head. I’m taking those songs plus some new ones and rolling them into a collection I’ll probably call something like Songs From My Fat Head.

Which brings me back to the virtual drummer in Logic Pro: I friggin’ love the virtual drummer. It’s not a simple drum machine, and the drums aren’t synthesized; they’re real drums played by real drummers and recorded perfectly by Apple engineers.

To add drums to a song, you pick from one of several virtual drummers (all with their own styles and drum kits), then choose from a list of beat presets. Then within that preset, you drag around what Apple calls the hockey puck – in the graphic below, it’s the gold circle. You can also choose options on the right to determine which specific drums are played, the beat pattern for the snare and kick drum, etc.

Here’s a closer look at the hockey-puck portion:

As you can see, moving the puck around sets whether the drummer plays louder or softer, and simpler or more complex patterns. But no matter what you choose, you get a real drummer playing real drums. In the YouTube clip below, you can hear the virtual drummer at work in the opening music.

So why in the heck does the virtual drummer make me think about diets? Because I believe too many people are ridiculously tribal about their preferred diet. Everyone should be on a vegan diet. Or a meat-only diet. Or a high-carb, low-fat diet. Or a ketogenic diet. Blah-blah-blah.

People can be healthy on all kinds of real-food diets. The diet that works best for me might be very unlike the diet that works best for you. As long as we’re talking about real, unprocessed foods, I believe choosing a healthy diet is a bit like that hockey-puck selector, except it looks like this:

Insisting that everyone should be on the same diet is like insisting all songs should use the same drummer playing the same style.  Find the beat that works for you.

Food and the sun

I recently wrote a post about why I don’t need sunscreen anymore. Since switching from frankenfats to real fats, I just don’t burn like I did back in the day. The previous week provided another example.

My nephew Grant (The Older Brother’s Middle Son) was in town because his wife Mirjam, a nurse practitioner in a surgical practice, attended a medical conference in Nashville. (As you may recall, she stitched up my thumb in our kitchen a couple of years ago when I held my pistol incorrectly and got whacked by the slide.) While Mirjam was in sessions downtown, Grant and their two boys came down our way.

Grant is quite a talented actor, by the way. He’s currently working on one degree in theater and another to teach special ed. If you’ve seen Fat Head Kids (or just watched the clip above), you’ve heard him as the voices of Mr. Spot and Marty Metabolism.

During the few days he was here, we played two rounds of disc golf – an hour in the Tennessee sun each time.  We also played nine of holes of actual golf – another two hours in the Tennessee sun. Back in the day, if I hadn’t slathered myself with sunscreen, my arms and neck would have gotten fried.

I took these pictures this morning to demonstrate what all that time being in the sun does to me now. You can see my face and neck are just a bit tanned, but there’s not much difference between them and my chest, which was covered.

Same with my arms. I pulled my sleeve up to show the upper-arm area that was covered. Again, the lower arms are tanned, but not burnt. Just a hint of a reddish tone, but I’m mostly Irish, after all. My skin has a slight reddish tone even if it’s winter and I don’t leave the house. (The brown spot near my elbow is a bruise, in case you’re wondering.)

Real fats make for healthy skin that simply isn’t as prone to burn.

Food and mood

There’s a chapter in the Fat Head Kids book and film titled Food Sets The Mood. As I explained in the book, one of the most touching emails I’ve ever received was from a woman whose teenage son went from being a rage-aholic to a calm, happy kid after Fat Head inspired them to change their diets. A good diet keeps the brain happy.

When Grant and I played nine holes of golf this weekend, it was my first time swinging golf clubs in at least seven years. I haven’t even been to a driving range during that span. When he suggested we play nine holes, I had to go find my clubs in the back of the garage.

Back in my standup days, I played golf all the time. I also became enraged over my bad shots rather frequently. I apparently believed that despite having little inborn athletic ability, I should be able to play a round of golf without topping, slicing and hooking the ball.

I topped, sliced and hooked quite a few balls during the nine holes I played with Grant. I lost three balls out of bounds and one in a pond. My most explosive reaction all day was something like, “Ugh. Bad shot.”

Of course, playing my first round in at least seven years, I wasn’t expecting greatness. I also knew not to compare my game to Grant’s. I’m 60. He’s 31. He’s also a bit of a beast who served two tours in Iraq and then completed Army Ranger school, where the failure rate is something like 65%. He’s way stronger and more athletic than I was at any age.

So he’d smack a drive waaaay down the fairway, then I’d hit a drive about the distance he gets with a five-iron. Didn’t bother me at all. Despite my string of double and triple bogies (with one very lucky birdie tossed in), I was in a great mood the whole game.

Maybe I’m just older and more mature now. But I can’t help but wonder if my golf-course temper-tantrums back in the day were partly the result of riding on the blood-sugar roller-coaster.

Food and awesome food

Chareva and I were married 19 years ago today. Since Grant and Mirjam were in town over the weekend, we decided it would be more fun to celebrate on Saturday and go out to dinner with them. They’d never tried a Brazilian steakhouse, so we went to Rodizio Grill in downtown Nashville.

The food was, of course, simply awesome, and they keep bringing it until you signal them to stop.  Meat, meat, more meat, even more meat, followed by several sides of meat. I believe I ate at least one vegetable from the salad bar, but I don’t remember what it was.

That’s Grant and Mirjam below.  Sorry about the poor lighting.

Since we were celebrating our anniversary, I asked the staff to please seat me directly below a bright light that would make my bald head glow in any pictures. As you can see, they were happy to oblige.

We all noticed something about stuffing ourselves with meat: it’s not the same ohmygodI’mgonnaburst feeling you get from stuffing yourself with pasta, or pizza, or bread, or anything heavy on grains. I was full, but not at all uncomfortable. As Grant put it, “If the sun was still out, I could play another nine.” I’ve never said anything like that after eating pizza.

Food and booze

I drank more alcohol on Saturday night than I typically drink in a couple of months. I had a scotch before dinner, a glass of wine with dinner, and a Rusty Nail (scotch and Drambuie) for dessert. After Chareva (who has zero taste for alcohol) drove us home, Grant and I engaged in our usual habit of staying up way too late talking. We smoked cigars outside and split a small bottle of Jameson’s. Then we drank another four beers apiece.

This was over several hours, of course (we finally called it a night at 4:00 a.m.), but that’s a lot of booze for one night. But here’s what I find interesting: I felt fine on Sunday. No dizziness, no nausea. The only side effect was low energy, like when I don’t get a good night’s sleep. The only explanation I can come up with is that stuffing myself with all that good meat at dinner offset the effects of the booze somehow. I’m pretty sure if I drank that much after a big plate of pasta, I’d still be in bed.

I’m not recommending anyone try repeating the experiment, of course. I’m sure my liver isn’t happy with me, despite the lack of a hangover.

Be careful with those fireworks

If you’re grossed out by graphic pictures of injuries, stop reading now. Go and enjoy the Fourth of July and I’ll see you next week.

Still here? Okay, you were warned.

I hope I don’t need to say this to people who read health blogs, but please don’t be stupid with fireworks this week. As I mentioned, Grant’s wife Mirjam is a nurse practitioner in a surgical practice. She told us that every Fourth of July week, without fail, they end up treating several people who decided to be stupid and light M-80s or cherry bombs, then throw them. Here’s a picture from her Hold My Beer files:

That’s what an M-80 can do to your hand. So please, let’s be careful out there. Forget the M-80s. If you set off fireworks (like we’ve done here on the Fat Head farm), follow the friggin’ directions, including the safety precautions.

Enjoy your holiday.

If you enjoy my posts, please consider a small donation to the Fat Head Kids GoFundMe campaign.

34 thoughts on “From The News … Sort Of

  1. Stuart

    Married for 19 years! Don’t you get time off for good behaviour? 😁

    Being descended from a long line of pasty-faced Northern Europeans I used to burn like crazy in the Australian sun. However for the last year I’ve been taking Astaxanthin capsules and even after 2-3 hours playing tennis or working in the garden under the summer sun I hardly burn at all. I have been avoiding “vegetable” oils for a few years now but I would still get a bit red after 20-30 minutes in the sun. Not any more.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      My excuse for sunburns used to be that my people evolved in dark pubs and were’t meant for sunshine. Now I know it was the garbage oils in my diet.

      1. Stuart

        It wasn’t only the dark pubs it was also that on the odd occasion they ventured out of the pubs it was RAINING constantly. Sun? What’s that?

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          A guy from Ireland once told me they snap all the tourism-promotion pictures on the one day it doesn’t rain.

  2. Firebird7479

    “I’ve got blisters on me…FINGERTIPS?!”

    I, too, am noticing that I am not getting sunburned but I am also being a little cautious about it. There is a park a couple of towns over with a 1 mile trail. I do two laps, then disappear with a towel to a remote area behind some trees where the soccer and baseball fields are. 10 minutes on each side. But I have been doing this a few days per week. I am not getting dark like I use to, and while I am part Lithuanian, traditionally I tan like the Italian side of my family.

    I also notice the same thing when I go out to eat. Usually, I hit up a Chinese buffet. I can make 2-3 trips without much concern as I generally eat the meat choices. Sometimes I will get the mushrooms and green beans or the beef/chicken & broccoli, and I will get a few pieces of sushi, and I am fine for hours — just a little thirsty from all the salt. However, if I go for the dessert, forget it.

      1. Firebird7479

        If I am out there longer, I think I do. My father use to live 2 blocks from the beach just north of Atlantic City. I’d be on the beach for several hours, then roller blade through town and I’d peel for a few days. Around 5 years ago I was in Virginia Beach and walked along the beach, played mini golf. Out in the sun for several hours and I got a good burning, but I applied aloe vera when I got back to the hotel and that seemed to take care of things.

        Over the years I’ve just become less tolerant of the heat and humidity so I am just out in it less often than when I was younger.

  3. Trish

    Happy anniversary! Your trip to Rodizio brings back fond memories of a now sadly defunct Brazilian steakhouse in Vancouver called Samba. I still dream of its roast lamb ten years later. It was … (chef’s kiss).

    Alas, my face has gotten sunburned so many times that I have permanent skin damage, namely a red mask across my cheekbones, nose, and part of my forehead. I have rosacea as well, so it’s big hats and long sleeves for me. 🙁

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I guess I’m lucky I never reached that level of damage … well, other than the skin cancer that was removed from my back decades ago.

  4. BobM

    If you’re not familiar with George Henderson, he’s of the opinion that saturated fat is protective to your liver. So, to the extent your liver has something to do with feeling bad after drinking, your higher saturated fat diet beforehand might have helped:

    It’s a bit hard to get to one blog post, as his stuff is spread about, and he seems to be more on Twitter these days. But his overall thrust appears to be that saturated fat is good for the liver.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Now than you mention it, I have seen an article or two suggesting saturated fat protects against alcohol damage to the liver. I wouldn’t to push experiment too far, of course.

      1. Gallier2

        In fact it’s the other way round. Polyunsaturated fats are damaging to the liver. Omega 6 and omega 3 do block the livers capacity to liberate triglycerides it synthesized from excess substrates (fructose, alcohol). This is why NAFL is so similar to AFL, it has nothing to do with alcohol.

  5. Laura

    I, too, am able to go out in the sun without burning these days…for only a relatively short time, but it’s still a tremendous improvement. My life up until now has been filled with blistering sunburns (before they invented sunscreen) and many summers hiding my Scottish skin indoors or under any available shade. As comedian Billy Connolly once said, “The English are white, the Irish are pink, and the Scottish are blue.”

    Congratulation on 19 years! The next 19 will be even better!

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      “My wife and I were happy for 25 years. Then we met.” — Rodney Dangerfield.

      I of course have been waaaaay happier being married to Chareva than I ever was being single.

  6. Vic Ritari

    Congrats on the anniversary. In these parts the holiday was July 1st or Canada Day. This year we my daughter and I decided to forego the fireworks and go to the Drive-In. On the holiday weekend they show three movies instead the usual two. Brought our own snacks cause there isn’t much at the concession stand that I would like to eat. Even though I was up way too late(no alcohol though) I was still able to get up in the morning and do things around the house that had to be done. When I was eating high carb I would have still be in bed at noon so I agree diet makes all the difference.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Wait … you still have Drive-In movies in Canada? I haven’t seen one in the U.S. since I was in my 20s.

      1. Bonnie

        Come to Colville (pronounced CALL-ville), WA. We have one of the last ones, the Auto Vue. I’ve lived here for 20 years & still haven’t been to it, but the kids went a few times.

      2. Emi11n

        There’s a drive in theater in Georgetown, Indiana. They show double features and I think it’s pretty popular. As for me, I prefer ac and comfy reclining seats 😁

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          I suppose if I went to a drive-in, I’d be reminded that what appealed to me as a teenager doesn’t necessarily appeal to me as a 60-year-old.

      3. Vic Ritari

        Yes we do. We make it a point to go a few times a year. The one I go to has three screens, a dog park, and a playground.

  7. Paleface

    When my son was six months old I took him outside for hours and he barely changed color. At that point his only food had been breastmilk. I wondered if breastmilk had some protective magic. I would look like a lobster after 30 minutes. I never wanted to feed him the crap I was eating, so his diet has been mostly OK. I continued taking him out without sunscreen to see if this was normal for him. He is now 5, as pale as pale can be, and has only worn sunscreen about 5 times in his life. He has never burned, and his skin has barely ever changed color.

    Two years ago I learned how bad processed fats are and stopped using them. Last summer I spent a couple of hours outside after only planning to run a quick errand. I didn’t burn. I then only wore sunscreen if I knew I would be out all day. This year on the fourth, I decided to tempt fate and not wear any sunscreen even though I was outside all day. I did not burn. I did not really tan. I have blistered after two hours in the sun in the past. I have been wondering what has caused this miracle, and you may have just solved it for me.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Makes sense. Breast milk would contains good fats. I spent three hours in the sun today. My arms got a little browner, but nothing turned red.

  8. Kathy in OK

    Hey, we just had a drive-in movie reopen in Tulsa. Remember those mosquito repellent coils that burned kind of like incense? Fun times, sort of.

    Wonder how many readers missed your warning about the graphic image. A little hard to “un-see”, but that may save someone’s hand in the future. There was an interview on the news with a guy who worked with commercial fireworks. He had one blow up unexpectedly. He lost an eye, most of his teeth and had a large hole in his face. He’s okay now, but not interested in fireworks anymore.

    Starting to miss you. Hope all is well and you’re just busy.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I’m busy trying to finish a music project, which is why I’m not posting as frequently. If only I didn’t have to work for a living.

  9. Don

    “Fireworks are completely safe.” That’s what my Uncle Hook Hand always told me. 😄

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