Friday, March 4, 2011

Dan-e And Other Snake Oil

I posted on Dan-e a little while ago to discuss its bizarre association with Betty Boop, but now I'm posting to question whether it's nothing more than another Enzyte. If you know the history of Enzyte, then you know that it never did anything (except have some friggin' hilarious ads) and the founders of the company were eventually sued out of existence.

Enzyte never had to be tested because it was "herbal" and as such isn't actually a drug. If it's not a drug, it doesn't need to be certified to be safe, or checked as to whether it actually does anything. I have a suspicion that Dan-e is exactly the same. Good, old-fashioned snake oil.

I have a degree in psychology, for some reason, and if you're a woman and you're having energy issues during the day, 99% of the population can be covered by a few areas. I know that this stuff is common sense, but I think it bears repeating. And if you are a man who ever considered Enzyte, you should also think about this.

Diet: Overhaul your diet. This is the biggest reason for most people's poor energy levels. For example, about five years ago, I was tired of my bizarre energy levels and their fluctuations. I would be exhausted when I woke up in the late morning, but would be full of energy at 11:00pm, eventually having a hard time falling asleep. I hit 260 pounds before shifting to a diet completely free of sugary drinks (big tip: no soda. Ever.) and high in protein and fruit. Smoothies every morning and extra exercise fixed my energy levels. I would spring from bed in the morning and eventually lost fifty pounds.

So for you, ditch saturated fats and heavy foods for meals rich in fruit, beans, and complex carbs. EAT BREAKFAST. This is a big one. And make sure it's a high-energy breakfast. Avoid meat. Instead, focus on fruit and breads. Protein in the morning is also excellent, but get that from peanut butter and yogurt instead of meat. Oatmeal with chopped up fruit is good. Make it taste good with sugar, don't worry. Especially if you add Fibersure to the bowl, you're taking in enough fiber to attenuate the glucose spike, so you won't suffer from a sugar crash.

My favorite option is a smoothie. You will need a good blender for this. I use the Breville 800BLXL, but I think that any blender in that range will get the job done.
  • Strawberries
  • Banana
  • Blueberries
  • Yogurt
  • V8 Fusion
  • Whey protein (vanilla flavored)
  • Fibersure
  • Flaxseed oil

Load up on Blueberries for a bright, bubblegummy flavor, and bananas for smooth texture. Strawberries add tartness and flavor, but are the least important fruit. Low-fat or no-fat yogurt is good, since you can't taste the difference in a smoothie. Use digestive yogurt like Activia for an extra bonus. Avoid the no-fat Activia, they sweeten it with Sucralose which you can taste. Be heavy on the protein and Fibersure, when in a smoothie, you can't even tell that they're in there.

That's only one smoothie recipe and one idea that worked wonders for me. For you, your options are manifold. You know what you should and shouldn't be eating. If it's pre-packaged, it's probably bad. Soda is bad in all forms, as are any sweetened drinks. Drink juice, instead. V8 Fusion is excellent, as is orange juice. Look for natural ingredients: butter, sugar, flour. If Grandma couldn't pronounse the ingredients, she sure as hell couldn't make it. Really, my only overarching recommendation is to take advantage of frozen and canned vegetables. It's a great way to store, long term, good food and it makes integrating lots of vegetables into a daily diet very easy.

Exercise: This is one that most people don't want to accept, but it can help a lot, although I think diet is more important. You don't need much. thirty minutes of brisk walking every day is enough. Use this to get some sun. Exposure to sun is very important to energy levels and overall well being. Some recent studies also indicate that weight training, and not cardiovascular exercise, has broad positive effects for women and not men, including increased neuro-development and increased immune strength.

Efficacy: This is your sense of accomplishment and how capable you feel every day. If you spend all day doing the same work and cleaning up the same messes, you aren't going to feel like you're getting anything done, and by connection you won't feel like a capable person. You won't be psychological driven to grab life by the horns, as it were. You can help this by taking up a productive hobby (writing a blog, carpentry, gardening) and by taking control of parts of your environment. Designate part of your house as yours, and while other people might be allowed in it, they are not allowed to change or do anything to it. If you don't have this opportunity in your house, you might have to lay down some law with your family members and demand more work from them to keep things in order and functioning well. When you feel like you can actually get stuff done, you'll feel more desire to actually get up and do it.

Sexual Desire: The second big part of Dan-e is sexual desire. This is much more complex. If you're middle-aged or post menopausal and you're experiencing decreased sexual desire, there may be nothing wrong. I subscribe to the perspective that, frequently, female sexual "dysfunction" isn't dysfunction at all. The overwhelming percentage of women who report dysfunction means that it isn't really a dysfunction. It's, for lack of a better word, normal. It's our over-sexed culture (and money-grubbing pharmaceutical companies) that tells us that we should be sexual that frames this physiological state as a problem.

There are issues that are definitively dysfunctional. For example, sufficient desire but a lack of lubrication is certainly a problem. But if you're already healthy, there is nothing that an herbal OTC product will do for you. You either need to buy lubricants or look into some of the drugs being marketed specifically for increased lubrication. (DO NOT BUY SPANISH FLY! IT WILL HURT YOU!)

But if your only issue is a lack of desire, both you and your mate will have to discuss the possibility that this is how you are. That is an issue that you and your partner will have to work through together, because for the relationship to be healthy, both of you will have to accept it. If you feel like you should have desire, or you have desire and fantasies throughout the day, but when it comes time to actually have sex it's not there, you might have issues that need addressing with your partner. If you don't feel a connection with or appreciated by your partner, it will be difficult to develop desire. Desire needs to be reciprocal. You feel attractive, they find you attractive, you're both invested in the other person's satisfaction. If those aspects aren't there, the desire won't come easily.

If you feel that there aren't sexual issues, it might be that your partner is simply failing in other ways throughout the day. A partner that is inattentive, or abusive, or simply disinterested can foster feelings that, regardless of bedroom chemistry, prevent feelings of intimacy and desire. You'll need to dig deep and dredge up every issue that you might have and verbalize it. Work through the problems. Your partner might not help with projects or with daily chores around the house. They might make you feel bad or inadequate with things they do and say. You have to work to be distinctly aware of your emotional and physiological responses to the behavior of your partner and know how to verbalize these issues such that they can be dealt with. As a friend of mine said, foreplay begins at 6:00am.

I also want to cover an elephant in the room that society never tells women they should consider. Look at sitcoms, commercials, magazines, movies. Notice a trend? Notice how the fat guys always get attractive women? Notice how fat girls never get hot guys? Yeah. Well, guess what, we are all sexually shallow. If you've been in a relationship for a long time, and your partner has let themselves go, you are completely in the right to stop finding them physically attractive. Because you no longer ogle them doesn't make you shallow, or a bad person! It is still something that needs to be brought up delicately, because you might very much love your partner, but it needs to be addressed. Do not try to manipulate them or "trick" them into better eating habits or exercise. Tell them, straight up, that you no longer find them as physically attractive as you once did. It will hurt, and it will cause trouble, but not as much as if you simply let the problem persist.

As you can see, there is NO issue that Dan-e can conceivably help you alleviate. It is nothing more than a supplement, and you can get that by buying a multivitamin. Most issues with sexuality are either normal, psychological or will require actual drugs to help. Most issues with daily energy are, again, psychological, or related to diet and activity level. Don't fall for yet another herbal remedy that relies on the placebo effect.

Whither The Avant-Garde?

In the early days of film, it didn't take long for experimental filmmakers to emerge in places like France and Russia that, taking advantage of the increasing cheapness of the technology, to start producing films that were, in some cases, decades ahead of their time. This early avant-garde died after the emergence of sound in the late 1920's because all of the patents to produce sound were owned by huge corporations that charged exorbitant prices to license the technology.

After these monopolies were either busted or the patents simply ran out, we had a renewed avant-garde come about after World War II in France, Italy, and New York. Basically, filmmaking on the edge is made easier the cheaper it gets to produce a film.

Computers and the internet have made animation cheaper than at any other time in history, and for a time, it seemed that it would get pushed into new areas of experimentation and quality. Websites like Icebox, Newgrounds, and software like Flash and 3DStudioMax made it seem like we were on the cusp of an explosion in animation. That explosion never happened, and I'm wondering why.

There's more animation, certainly. And some of it is good. Homestar Runner has proven itself vibrant and long-running, for example. There's been some good stuff online, with services like Aniboom acting as an excellent venue, but none of it has approached the quality of the film experimentation of the 1920's and 1970's, or the underground comics of the 1960's and 70's.

Most of the animation is either a poor attempt at grandiosity or drama, or a twee little ditty. Truly, the animation that is high-quality and memorable isn't coming out of people's garages, but out of major production houses that specialize in funding small productions, like the Film Board of Canada. Every year produces one or two great Oscar nominations, and The Animation Show reminds us that there are some talented people out there, but I expected an absolute explosion in quality animation to come from the internet and cheap computing. Why has that explosion not happened? Why are we seeing more animation, but not better animation?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WATCH THIS: Defective

There's lots of animation available online from independent and educational sources, and much of it is very entertaining. Some of it has very good texture to it. Some of it has good staging. But very rarely does it have good animation. That's what made this one stand out. It's crude, but the person who made it has an excellent grasp of animation principles. The two robots in the short come to life not because of their design, which is simple, or the cgi, which is even simpler, but the flex, squash, stretch, and exaggeration of the models. Very good.