June 19, 2009

Concert: Steely Dan

I wish I could be like Steely Dan and make people pitch in for my house payment. This is what their "Rent Party 2009" tour is supposed to be about: for all of us closet fans of their several decades of music genius to show our appreciation by coming out to help them pay the rent.

Tickets to the June 15 show at the Bob Carr Performance Arts Centre downtown were pre-sold in April 23rd. Good thing we decided to get our tickets then--the house was packed.

After eight weeks of waiting, the day finally came. Our Balcony Right seats were pretty decent (for the money, they should be!). It also helped that we brought our birdwatching Bushnells.

I couldn't keep myself from comparing the people at the Steely Dan concert with the crowd at the Fleetwood Mac show. Of course, the artists are from totally different genre, but M and I belong to both crowds, so it was interesting to note the difference in the mob mentality. Unlike the free-for-all rock-and-roll attitude of the Fleetwood Mac-ers, the Steely Dan-ers were more refined (restrained?). There was this gaze of, I don't know, intelligence (question mark), in their eyes.

The Steely Dan fans (some with their I-was-at-the-Steely-Dan-2005-tour t-shirts) looked sharp, somewhat stiff and, uhm, smug (I guess you would if you knew that very few people get you for naming your Rottweillers Aja and Gaucho). Many of them, er, us, looked like we've been on to Steely Dan since the 70s. But hey, Donald Fagen came out on stage looking like one of us--mellow in our wisdom and experience, but still energized!

For a guy who's already crossed into the 6th decade of his life, Fagen performed as strong and forceful as ever. Walter Becker and the rest of the band (I mean, orchestra) were virtuoso-faithful to the tunes we grew up with. I believe they lined up songs that particularly showcased the talents and skills of the individual musicians and singers on stage.

We were at the edge of our seats waiting for the next song. What will it be? I bet I can name the song in four notes. People at the back kept screaming Black Cow! The Fez! Dr. Wu! Sadly, we got none of those, not even Deacon Blues. But we did get some of our other favorites like Aja, Green Earrings, Bodhisattva, Kid Charlemagne, Bad Sneakers, Peg, Third World Man, Home at Last, Caves of Altamira, and Josie. The demure head-bobbing crowd eventually let it all hang out with My Old School.

The show ended after only one encore. We wanted more, but, well, it was late, and way past our bedtime. So, we just listened to Steely Dan when we got home, trying to figure out the message in Sign in Stranger.

Here's some Steely Dan trivia worth knowing:
Haitian Divorce is obtainable within 24 hours.
Black Cow is a float.
The Fez is not a condom.

P.S.: M told a coworker that we saw Steely Dan in concert. She said, "Who's he?"

June 6, 2009

Book Review: "Conquer the Fat-Loss Code" by Wendy Chant

Conquer the Fat-Loss Code is nothing short of a complete strategy to lose fat, raise metabolism, shed unwanted pounds, and remain fit for life. Wendy Chant has presented a book that not only explains the science behind the body’s reactions to food and exercise, but also details how to take advantage of these natural tendencies.

Chant’s book is a quick read because she explains the fat-loss code in simple, readily understandable terms. She also outlines all the principles involved in optimizing fat-loss (like the meal plan cycles) in straightforward bulleted paragraphs and in-a-nutshell “Conquer the Code” boxes for quick comprehension and reference. Testimonials to the success of the Fat-Loss Code (inserted in the book as “What the Code Crackers Are Saying”) are short stories that add to the credibility of the method.

Chant’s book is also a long-term guide because it has a complete 8-week planner that lists daily food suggestions, weight training and cardio schedules, and a feedback log complete with the day’s affirmation. The book not only explains the fat-loss code, it also provides the tools you need to apply the code to your particular situation. Chant even fine-tunes the program to differentiate plans for men and women, and those aiming to lose less (or more) than 30 pounds.

Of course, a plan is only as good as its Plan B. So, Chant also includes tips and tactics for special days like weekends, travel, and holidays, plus a special section on what to do if you fall off the wagon. And it goes without saying that the chapter on “Quick Tips for Ultimate Success” merits a permanent bookmark.

The last section of the book could be the most precious gift from Wendy Chant: it features her own recipes for breakfast, shakes, soups, salads, vegetables, entrĂ©es, and desserts. And to round out her comprehensive book, she adds an appendix of the Beginner’s Home Workout and several pages of references and scientific basis for her fat-loss code.

Anyone who has tried any kind of diet or regimen for losing fat (and maybe did not achieve the desired results) deserves to try Wendy Chant’s method. The science is sound, the code is simple, and this book is the key.