Category: Personal

F’n Bosch

I’m still not sure why I turned on an episode of Bosch a few months ago, but I did and I’m so thankful for it. I’m not a fan of police procedurals and those hideous sideburns turned me off, but once I put all of that aside I found myself on a wonderful journey into the world of the LAPD and Hieronymus Bosch.

This week, I finally finished the final episode of Bosch Legacy, a spin-off/continuation of the Bosch series that exists as season eight for the show. Last week, Bosch Legacy was announced to return this upcoming fall, with a follow up season to come after that. I got to say, I’m excited, because I just can’t get enough of these stories.

Bosch is based on a series of books by Michael Connelly. The character is a Detective for the LAPD who treats his job as a mission, and for him, “Everybody counts, or nobody counts.” Having grown up in foster care after his mother, a prostitute, was murdered and no one seemed to care, Harry took it upon himself to become the voice for those who had no one to speak for them. He’s not always the most pleasant man, but he’s good at what he does, and he is fueled by his desire to help.

Over the first seven seasons, we see Harry take on several cases while surrounded by a flat-out fantastic cast of co-stars. Jamie Hector (The Wire) plays his partner J. Edgar, who is a good man trying to balance a difficult job and a family. Amy Aquino (ER) who quickly became my favorite, is the Lieutenant of the Hollywood Detective Division and is honorable and fair. The always great Lance Reddick (Fringe) plays Chief of Police Irvin Irving, and well… Lance was always amazing in everything he did, especially in Bosch. Mimi Rogers, plays a civil rights attorney, Honey “Money” Chandler, and steals almost every scene she is in.

Other cast members include Annie Wersching, Madison Lintz, Jeri Ryan, Steven Culp, Gregory Scott Cummings, Troy Evans, Scott Klace, DaJuan Johnson… and the list goes on and on. This is one of those shows, that is a character show at its core, and the casting is 100% spot on. Every character has a purpose, and every actor is perfect for the role.

With only a few exceptions in seasons three and four, the pacing is very solid. The mysteries unravel with little wasted time, and the show establishes a feeling of authenticity. I’m not a police officer, but it feels like the show has done its homework.

It’s hard to talk about Bosch and not mention the city of Los Angeles. Like how Taxi Driver utilized New York as a character, Los Angeles is a character of its own in Bosch. It’s beautiful and hideous at the same time. Bosch’s amazing view of the city, from his home, makes you want to sit on his porch and just stare out at the lights and the sea of chaos that exists below.

With the use of Los Angeles as a setting and Bosch’s personal love of jazz, the show has a noir vibe to it. Harry is not a particularly happy man, and he has his own demons (obsession with the job, inability to maintain relationships) but is good at what he does, which is usually the traits you find in a noir protagonist. The jazz selection is so good, it inspired me to download some jazz myself, which is something I rarely listen to.

There was a quality drop between the original series and Legacy, but the show was filmed during COVID and also transitioned from Amazon Prime to Amazon FreeVee. It was created with a much smaller budget, and while there were some shortcomings, I’m hoping the upcoming seasons will be a bit better. Two spin-off series were also announced, but with the writer’s strike I’m wondering if they will ever come to pass.

I wish I had given Bosch a watch sooner, but I’m glad I eventually stumbled upon it. Right now, I’ve begun the book series, which began in 1992. It’s different, being that Harry has a mustache and is a Vietnam vet, but so far, I’m enjoying the mystery. I hear the books really pick up around book three or four.

I’m not sure if it’s an age thing, or I just appreciate mystery stories a bit more these days, but characters like Harry Bosch, Jack Reacher, and Joe Pickett really do it for me. I just can’t get enough of these great characters.


My Arnold History

I love movies, always have, and probably always will. One of my favorite things to do as a young teenager was find a particular actor or actress, and then track down every movie they acted in. I’d utilize my hand Blockbuster Guide to the Movies (this was the 90’s, pre IMDB) to get a list and then I’d spend the summer bugging my grandma to take me to different video stores until I saw the entire filmography.

In the summer of 1996, Eraser was coming out and I couldn’t wait to see Arnold on the big screen. I’d seen Terminator 2, True Lies, and Predator, but I hadn’t seen much else he starred in. So, that summer Arnold was my focus, and I slowly worked my way through everything he had acted in.

I remember the two most difficult movies to find were Hercules in New York (his debut role) and Pumping Iron, which was out of print. I managed to find a video store that carried both, but they were the final movies I watched of his that summer.

It was hard to watch Arnold’s movies and not feel inspired to get into shape. Who wouldn’t want a body like his? I remembered the video we watched in elementary school where Arnold encouraged us to meet the President’s Council for Physical Fitness goals and I decided it was time for me to get into shape.

I began buying Muscle and Fitness magazines and put a large poster of Arnold on my wall. I picked up Arnold’s Bodybuilding for Men book and began studying it. Shortly thereafter, I ended up with a copy of Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding which I read like my life depended on it.

I was thirteen years old. I was staying with my grandmother for the summer, and she was supportive of these crazy dreams I had. I didn’t end up with a weight bench at her house, but I started moving more and dreaming of one day having a body to be proud of.

As the summer came to end, I returned home to my father’s house, and he was less enthused about my dreams to become the next Arnold. I was always dreaming big, and he wasn’t interested in that. My request for a weight bench was refused and I wasn’t disciplined or motivated enough to find alternate methods of pursuing this goal. I gave it up and went back to watching TV and playing video games.

I continued to watch most of Arnold’s new movies, but his political career was not something I was interested in. I’d thumb through my Arnold books from time-to-time and there was a short period around 2002 when I lost a lot of weight and was working out regularly that I thought I might one day get that body I was proud of. That did not happen.

Nowadays, I mention Arnold often. I’ve been inspired by him once again, thanks to his Daily Pump Newsletter and The Pump App. The other day he commented on a question of mine in the app and my wife couldn’t help but mention what a huge grin I had on my face. In a way, I feel like I’m picking back up where on a journey I began some twenty-six years ago.

This time the goal isn’t bodybuilding fame. No, the goal is to just be healthy and be in the best shape I’ve ever been. I want to pack on some muscle and regain my confidence. Maybe look somewhat like the man I was hoping to be back in 1996.

The Story So Far…

Previously, at Brandon Writes…

The weekend of March 17th, 2023, I binge ate an entire bag of Reese’s Easter eggs. I was stressed and wanted a way to make myself feel better, so I leaned into the one thing I knew that would do the trick.

I should mention, a few months prior, I had been diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, so eating an entire bag of chocolate and peanut butter Easter eggs was not the smartest choice I’ve made. Nonetheless, it was what I did.

The following morning, I made a decision. I had to get serious about my health. I already had a therapy session scheduled for the following week, so I was preparing to work on my mental health, but my physical health needed work too. So, I got up early and I cleaned out my garage which was a mess since moving in back in January.

After the trash was taken out, and various things moved around, I had a huge empty garage that would soon become my sanctuary. I didn’t have a vision, but I knew I needed some cardio, so I went to the local Academy Sports and bought a punching bag and some gloves.

My hands and arms hurt so bad that first day I almost thought I’d made a mistake. Who was I kidding? A punching bag? I hadn’t hit a bag in almost twenty years. I hadn’t done any serious exercise in more than ten years. That was how I had gotten to where I was then, the guy who got winded walking up stairs and who eats an entire bag of Reese’s when stressed.

My first therapy session went well. My therapist was able to help me realize some things that were causing some issues in my life. Mainly, I was freaking out over things I couldn’t control such as people being rude. Armed with this information, I was able to zero in on learning to accept things I cannot control which allowed me to calm my anger. I re-read The Cow in the Parking Lot, a great book on anger, and life got just a little bit better.

I began working the bag in my barebones gym almost daily. The workouts were short, but they got my heart rate up, and that was something. At times it felt like I wasn’t doing much, but it had to be better than sitting on the couch.

I purchased a single fifteen-pound dumbbell the following week and began doing some minor arm workouts such as curls and presses. Anything to wake up the old muscles and tell them it was time to grow.

Sadly, my body didn’t respond like it used to. It was almost alarming how weak I had become and how I couldn’t just jump back into exercising like when I was younger. So, I went looking for a primer, something to start building slight muscle and make this whole experience more enjoyable. That’s when I found Nick.

Nick’s Bodyweight Primer was a lifesaver. It’s a simple, fifteen-day exercise routine that focuses on the entire body. It was perfect for someone like me, whose knees ached, lower back was constantly giving me trouble, and shoulders felt like they’d pop out of the socket at any given moment.

The workouts were short and easy to do, and Nick’s explanation, along with fitness education were both exactly what I needed. I followed Nick’s plan almost till the end, when I got a bit sidetracked with something one level up.

I was looking for motivation and inspiration when I began this journey and I found it in a daily newsletter from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Adam Bornstein, and Daniel Ketchell called The Pump Daily. These three men put together a science based, no non-sense newsletter Monday through Friday full of fitness tips, the latest scientific studies, and recipes. It became the highlight of my morning, waking up to read about ways to get healthier. It kept my fitness goals fresh on the mind and really motivated me to keep at it.

At first there were rumors and then an official announcement, Arnold and his pals were creating an app focused on creating a positive fitness community. It would be scientific, and evidence based, and once again, no nonsense. I knew I wanted to be part of it, and since the initial launch of the app was essential a beta test and limited to 5,000 members, I did everything in my power to be part of it.

I set my alarm for the time when the newsletter usually arrives in my inbox. It wasn’t there, so I spent all day refreshing and waiting for the launch to happen. Once it did, I registered and went home and discussed with my wife the options. I could pay the $99 a year for a yearly membership, or take advantage of the $249 lifetime membership which included some neat perks such as:

  • A free pass to the 2024 Arnold Classic
  • A special meet and greet with Arnold at the Arnold Classic
  • A motivational conversation with Arnold via Zoom
  • A Pump Club Founding Member T-Shirt

We decided it was worth the money for the lifetime access, so I joined and that night I began the Bodyweight Foundation: Starting from Scratch program that was on April 18th.

So, within a month, I went from bingeing a bag of Reese’s to creating a home gym, doing a bodyweight primer, and then investing in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s app and workout routine. And I haven’t even mentioned my eating habit changes.

Five years ago, I dropped almost eighty pounds by counting calories. I rarely did any exercise, and instead focused on just watching what I ate. I got into a routine and after about a year, the weight had come off and my knees thanked me.

My life changed dramatically that year, I exited a marriage, found new love, and began to settle into a better relationship. My wife, whom I was just dating at the time, is an amazing cook and I began to enjoy her various dishes. Slowly the pounds packed on, as I no longer counted my calories. Then, the pandemic snuck up on all of us, and I paid even less attention to what I ate since my mind was preoccupied with other things.

I could see it in the mirror and felt it in my clothes. I had gotten rid of my “bigger” clothes when I lost the weight, so suddenly my shirts began feeling tight and I went from a large to an extra-large and finally back to the double extra-large. I felt some shame from the weight gain, but I didn’t even try to stop it. I just let it sneak up on me, and I felt defeated.

Counting calories came easy to me, so I knew at any time I could turn it back on and lose the weight. I just needed the motivation to do so. That came when I went through two months of tests to determine the damage to my liver when my liver enzymes came back high on some basic bloodwork.

Then my wife began attending Jazzercise and seeing her results and how much better she felt, it just seemed like it was the logical next step. So, the same weekend I bought the punching bag, I began counting my calories once again. I try and eat under 1900 a day, and thus far I’ve lost seventeen pounds in just under two months.

I began experimenting with healthy food choices that could aid me in a healthier lifestyle such as overnight oats. Cheap and packed with protein (we use Kodiak’s Protein oats) this became my breakfast staple. After a few weeks, we invested in some protein powder and protein bars, and suddenly I’m not eating as much and feeling fuller for more of the day. Imagine that!

I also restricted my caffeine intake and cut off drinking caffeine by 1 PM each day. That way it has time to make its way out of my system and I can sleep better at night.

I was already taking a multivitamin, a blood pressure pill, a statin, and vitamin D, so I added fish oil to my list of pills and some glucosamine to hopefully help with the joints. I should have done my research beforehand, because the evidence for glucosamine is shaky at best, but I’ll finish off the bottle.

My therapist recommended EDMR to help me deal with some underlying issues and while I found it helpful the first time, the second time it was a disaster. I left angry and frustrated, and in a way, it was the best thing for me. I got home, stewed in my anger, and realized the only person that was going to save me was me. I wrote what I jokingly call my manifesto, which is just various thoughts and ideas to guide me through the next phase of my life. I decided I wanted to be in the best shape of my life in my 40’s, and I doubled downed on how serious I began taking things.

I installed a great Habit tracking app called Habit to help keep me on track. I started eliminating things in my life such as wasted internet, television, and video game time, as well as trinkets, toys, and other items of a life that no longer exists. I gave myself a clean foundation to begin rebuilding my life on.

My therapist called me back in since she noticed my frustration and we cleared the air and got back on track. I need to work out my mind the same way I’m working out my body.

While I won’t go through everything I wrote, since it’s very personal to me, I will say this: I no longer want to be a victim or brand myself as a victim. I do not want to be defined by my shortcomings or any other label. I realized that help is never coming and if I want to be better, it’s up to me to make it happen. It’s part of the reason why this flag hangs in my garage gym to remind me of that.

My garage gym expanded thanks to some donated mats from my mom’s old Tae Kwon Do school and a small weight bench my brother wasn’t using. I found a great deal on some adjustable kettlebells and invested in a nice big fan. My mom also gave me a battle rope, which she could no longer use, which gives me another option for cardio instead of the bag.

I wrote all of this to explain where I am right now. The last couple of months have been life changing and it’s part of the reason why I’ve cleared off my blog and started fresh. I want the content to match my current state of mind. I have created an Archive page, which features various posts from over the years of varying quality. I call it a sort of “Greatest Hits.” It’s all pretty off-topic in comparison to what I’m writing about now, but it’s a little way to preserve the past while focusing my full attention on the present.

In a little over six months, I’ll reach my fortieth birthday. I want to be the best possible version of myself when I turn forty. I know I won’t be ripped, and nothing will be perfect, but I want to be mentally and physically better off than I was anytime in my thirties. I re-titled my blog Brandon’s Mid-Life Reset because that is exactly what this is. I’m creating the life I want to lead for the second half of this time on this crazy rock floating in space. I’m glad you are here to join me.