Thursday, March 31, 2011

Work It Out

   Summer is fast approaching (finally) and I really don’t want to be the one person not ready for it by not having the physique of a super hero. I’ve been into fitness since I was a teenager, although not nearly as consistent as I would like, I know what it takes for me to get in shape. I suspect it takes pretty much the same for you to get in shape as well, provided you’re not already part of the super hero community. I’m taking about hard work and the mental fortitude to commit to making a better “you.”
   I have a goal and getting where I want to be is going to take a considerable amount of effort on my part, but as they say...”if you shoot for the stars, you’re sure to land among the clouds.” It probably doesn’t help to be eating potato chips as I write this, but in the spirit of there always being an upside, at least they're unsalted. I can say that I met today’s fitness goal and I know if I stay consistent with my daily goals, my overall objective will simply be an eventuality. That being said, I have some pretty lofty goals...but I know they can be met because anything I’ve done before, I can do again...but that will just be the starting point to a whole other level.
   Let me encourage you, dear reader, to do whatever it is you do for fitness. it doesn’t matter if you’re a weight lifter, runner, ball player, swimmer or if you just walk an hour a day. Whatever you do, keep doing it. Whatever you want to start it! I don’t wear Nikes but I certainly prescribe to their slogan because that is usually the only way to succeed when your mind registers the pain your body feels when you reach your temporary limits. Just do it. 
   I used to be an avid weightlifter, after I was a runner. I still retain a great deal of speed and strength, although youth certainly has advantages, there is much to be said for wisdom and working smarter while also working harder. Today I fully endorse the crossfit workout as one of the most rigorous and rewarding experiences a person can have. It’s also hard as all hell...but as they say (“they” certainly say a lot) “no pain, no gain.” I’ve linked a video of some great guys I know personally ( ) that are in tremendous shape and are an inspiration to me to do the same, which brings me to my next point.
   Indulge yourself in whatever motivates you to workout. If you are inspired by someone you know or someone you see in videos, movies or magazines...then let yourself be inspired to the maximum of inspiration. If joining a gym motivates you to go and workout regularly, then sign up! If you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, get more mirrors and keep looking until you’re upset enough to do something about it. If you’re the type of person that needs a partner to help motivate you and keep you going, then go out and find one. If all of this sounds like I’m trying to get you away from the computer and up on your feet in the name of fitness...then you’re getting my message loud and clear. Make no mistake though, I’ve written this in just such a way that it will motivate me whenever I re-read this, so think of this as skipping the proverbial stone off the head of many birds (a broader rendition of “killing two birds with one stone,” not to be confused with me advocating violence against animals...because I don’t).

   I titled this post “work it out” and I meant it. Do whatever works for you...and make whatever you’re doing work. I’ve spoken solely about exercise in a motivational manner but want to take nothing away from all the other components to great health such as proper rest and eating nutritiously. Really, eating the right food, or more specifically, the right foods for “you” would be a whole other post altogether. I started with exercise because that is the main component I myself am currently lacking (aside from the whole chip scenario I’m going through as I write this) and I’m wise enough to understand that I’m not going through this alone...especially with the summer approaching fast.
   I used to laugh at those fitness commercials where the guy proclaims that he is forty...and in the best shape of his life. Now I want to be that guy and it isn’t funny in the least bit. Wait...let me practice my own philosophy and rephrase that last line. Now I’m going to be that guy and it’s going to be a wonderful thing. I hope reading this post has had the same positive effect on you that writing it has had on me. Take care.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Movie Review: "From Paris With Love"

   Every time I start to write a movie review, I rant about how much I like to watch movies...and this review will not start off any differently. I love watching movies, I really do...and sometimes I come across a movie that hasn’t grabbed my interest from watching the previews...but surprises the heck out of me when I’m watching it. This review is about one such movie.
The Cast
   There is never any doubt about who carries this movie. If you are a fan of Travolta, then you will be a fan of this movie and his personal flavor that only he can deliver to the role of fast driving, one-lining, quick thinking, body count racking, kick-ass secret agent. Meyers does a decent job of not completely making you lose interest and plays well off Travolta as the low-level spy wannabe that’s being drawn by the nose with the rest of us through the trail of excitement and humor Travolta whips up. Smutniak delivers as Meyers’ fiance and gives us as much as possible with the limited material presented.
The Plot: 
   Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays James Reece, a mid-level embassy employee that acts part time as a low-level spy. Tasked with mundane assignments, he tries to advance himself without revealing to his fiancee Caroline,( Kasia Smutniak ), the exact details of what he really does. Unbeknownst to him, she also has secret and is much more than he ever suspected. When things start to heat up, the top American operative is called in to take over and Reece finally gets the big break he’s been looking for...but this too, is much more than he ever suspected.
   Enter Charlie Wax (John Travolta ), the best operative America has that kicks ass, doesn’t take names...and doesn’t take prisoners. More than just a pure killing machine, Wax is out to uncover and stop a sinister terrorist plot that revolves around none other than James Reece himself. What ensues is a thrill ride of explosions, misdirection, blazing bullets, martial arts, and truly fun over-the-top Travolta that requires no heavy thinking on the part of the audience...just a willingness to relax and have a great time.
The Verdict: 
   This movie is a sleeper agent in disguise. Little did I realize from the trailers that it would be as much fun as it was to watch. If you’re looking for deep meaning and an Oscar performance, keep looking. If you’re looking to have fun one Friday or Saturday night in front of a flat screen with surround sound and popcorn...then buckle up and enjoy the ride. The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously and neither should you.
   I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again...I’m an action junkie and love a good laugh mixed in with explosions, car chases, and a hail of bullets. I’m also an intellectual and enjoy having my mind stimulated. With that said, one of the best parts of renting this movie is the dvd extras, particularly “Secrets of Spy Craft: Inside the International Spy Museum” and “Spies, Spooks and Special Ops: Life Under Cover” wherein real life retired operatives are interviewed and reveal some very interesting information about the world that we all live in...and some incredible information about a world that most of us only get a glimpse of through movies such as this.
   This movie was certainly my cup of tea and I was very surprised by this flavorful blend from Paris...earning three cinnamon sticks, out of five, in my cup.

For reviews on movies in a theater near you, visit

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Learn to Drive With One Hand...Because You’ll Need the Other to Pay for Gas!

   Don’t panic. The economy is fine. Everything is going well. no attention to the rising price of gas. no attention to the absolute ridiculousness that is going on all around you, for if you did, you might be outraged. You might actually get mad enough or become fearful enough to do something about it...and you know that just can’t be allowed. So for now, just learn to drive with one hand and have your pain medication ready when it comes time to fill the gas tank up again. The attendant has become quite proficient at lopping off hands which is good news...since other appendages are soon to follow.
   Really though, am I the only one that finds the rising price of gas to be...well, just plain stupid? I understand capitalism and fully get the concept of supply and demand, but I’m also a very practical person and can sometimes think my way out of a paper bag. Big Oil (say it with a deep voice and ominous feeling) is going to lose money this year. They are not going to make as much as they did last year or worse, they won’t make the projected profits they predicted the year earlier. In truth, neither one of these scenarios is going to happen because we, the consumers, will continue to consume in the face of sheer madness.
   Billions are being made from gas. Yes,...billions, with a “B.” Heaven forbid Big Oil (keep saying it with a deep voice and ominous feeling) makes only nine hundred billion this year instead of eight hundred and fifty-billion. The world would cease to rotate at that point and all life on earth would simply vanish!
Give me a break. No,...really, give me a break! Greed is one of the great banes of humanity and those sustaining the level of “filthy rich” at the pump are crossing the line and moving into just plain filthy. I could bash the industry all day, but that would hardly be fair because much of the responsibility for these ludicrous gas prices falls on the shoulders of John Q.!
   Ok, if we demand the supply, then they will demand the price...and we will pay it, so long as we compromise our dignity like an addict chasing that first rush. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. The bad news is...well, it is this way. Until we collectively take back our dignity and send a clear message to those all too willing play the role of the petroleum pusher...we’re screwed. I suggest we reverse the roles...and bring them to their knees instead.
   The only thing that will get the attention of Big Oil (no need for the ominous feeling or deep voice since they won’t be so big when we’re done with them) is to hit them where it the profit margin. So lets seriously consider carpooling, van sharing, walking, riding bikes, and public transportation. I could get deep with all of these ideas but I already have to the tune of seven be sure to check all the links below. I will say that if enough of us have had enough and are ready to get serious about lifting this particular monkey off out collective back, then that is the way to do it. Need I also mention that with the nice weather fast approaching, walking and biking serve as another way to meet any fitness goal that suddenly appears with the sun.
   As a final note, I’ll say that the government (back to the deep voice) caters to the interests of the corporations, not the people, on this issue. There are alternatives to the current use of fossil fuel, but we all know (or should by now) that money talks and everything else, including the consumer, walks. Any threat to the status quo will be a long time coming without a tidal of public support.

   Just remember, if after you read all this, you go back to business as usual and don’t make any kind of change to change the way things are...then the next time you’re at the pump and they’re pulling out the machete for one of your feet as payment and you’re angrily wondering who is to blame for leaving you with one hand and one foot...there are two side mirrors and one rear view mirror that you can look in find the complacent bastich that didn’t do their part.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Do You Even Know What You’re Talking About…?

   Talk, talk, talk…that’s all you do. That’s all any of us do. Well, not all, but the spoken word is the most common form of communication we human beings use. Personally, I like a good conversation and absolutely adore a great one. I’m a fan of engaging the mind and exploring the myriad possibilities that the thought process can produce. I have to admit though, I get carried away sometimes and it was just one of those times that I found myself contemplating the words I was hearing...indeed, have often heard but never given a second thought to.
   I was in a conversation about an impending court case (not mine, I endeavor to stay out of trouble folks) and speaking about the evidence, someone said “...after I present all that, this case will be cut and dried.” “Cut and dried”...really? I mean, not literally, but then...what? I thought to myself about where the expression had come from because I already knew what it meant, but how did it ever end up in our common vernacular and come to have the meaning it does? I asked those around, abruptly cutting into the conversation, if they knew where the term came from and was met with an instant and wild interest about the origin of the phrase....followed by an equally instant disappointment because I didn’t have the answer. Just so I cover all the bases here, let me not assume everyone is familiar with the phrase and divulge the definition:
“Something which is very obvious and clear; not requiring further explanation.”
   I decided to research the term and was fully anticipating an easy assignment that would consist of a quick Google search and a neat explanation of the origin. Well,...lets just say, “...the best laid plans...” and leave it at that. As I have discovered, there are many presumed origins to this often-used phrase. One account of the origin is that it originally applied to cutting herbs in the field and then drying them in preparation of a sale. I don’t know if it’s true and I certainly can’t make the connection to todays common usage. That being said, the phrase has also been linked to having origins in lumber, firewood and tobacco and meat...all of which must be cut and dried to be effectively used how we use them...or used to in the case of the meat. Timber must be cut and dried to be useful lumber, the best firewood is cut and dried, tobacco must be cut and dried to be used and before the advent of freezing, meat had to be cut and dried to be preserved. All very interesting...but doesn’t explain how we get to evidence in a court case being...cut and dried.
   I suppose I will have to continue my research until I’m satisfied that a reasonable connection can be made between the origin of the phrase and the current use it gets. I’m optimistic though...that I’ll never really know. I fear too much time and societal change has passed for this particular phrase to have such a clear connection as, say...”going postal.” The tragedy of who we as human beings can become led to someone picking up arms against their coworkers in a post office...and it will likely never leave our lips again in quite the same way. A heinous act, viewed as crazy...and rightly so, has made its way into our vocabulary to describe anyone deemed angry enough to commit violence. I wonder if, in a hundred years, this will still be such an easy connection to make...or will time and our ever changing society lose this thread in the tapestry of our speech.

   We speak every day, but do we really know what we’re talking about? Do we really know what we are saying despite the message we are trying to get across? How many times do you use a phrase and don’t give a single thought to where its origins lay? I think we do it more often than we think we do, if we gave any thought to how much we do it...fair to say? Right...anyway, please visit the links below for some very interesting background on many of the phrases we hear and say...without having a clue about what we’re talking about.
   Until my brain resurfaces from the grey matter dive it took...take care, and God bless!

p.s.: Just for the Technorati guys...DTNZVNENRN5H