Month: August 2016

The Scale

 

I realized earlier today that when I started this site about 6 months ago or so, I’d started out with a purpose, and that was in part, to be a fitness guide, part of what my Instagram account is dedicated to is my fitness progress, and I’d been neglecting to give out fitness advice and/or motivation here.   So, I realized that I should write about something, that could hopefully help somebody out there.  I’m no licensed fitness expert, but there is one thing that I am qualified to tell you as a human being.    But first you need to do some things, step one.  Go get your scale out, right now.  I’ll wait.    Okay, you have it out, now, stand on it, take off your shoes of course, get down to about as close as you can in your situation right now to remove any excess weight from your person.   Now, you’ve done that?  Okay, now go stand on it, and look at those numbers that are on that screen right now.     Okay, you’ve done that, and now, that you know what you weigh, you can do one of two things with it, you can use it as a motivation to press on and get closer to your goal.  Or, you can just disregard the number it tells you, and go about your life.

Not what you thought you were going to hear, was it?  Well, the reason for that is, I’ve come to the realization as of late, that the numbers on the scale don’t really matter, as long as you’re happy with where you are.  If you aren’t, then there’s things you can do to get there, but if you are, then just keep exercising for your own benefit, for fun and stress relief, not for anyone else’s.

When I started this site, and then even before that, when I started my workout routine, it was all borne from heartache, and pain.  I’ve mentioned this before, if you’re a long time reader.  All I had was my mission, which was to lose as much weight possible.  Not that I was truly like fat, fat.  Kind of puffy maybe.

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Me circa December, 2015.

I’ve already told that part of the story before, so I won’t here, but in any case, I had my mission and I was dedicated to the cause, eating a chicken breast every night, limiting what I eat, and working out 5-6 times a week.  My best weight was when I’d cut down to 200 pounds even a month into this routine.

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Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

Right around that time as well, I met someone new, fell in love, and while I wasn’t neglecting the workouts, I still hit the gym the same amount of times as I was, I was living life more, and eating all types of good things that aren’t necessarily healthy.   And the scale reflected these changes.  It bothered me at first but then it hit me, I was happy, I had a beautiful woman who loves me for who I am, and thinks I’m hot, so what does it matter what the scale says.  Even still, I’ve been working out this whole time, so while the scale is telling me that I’m only a pound off of where I started at at 214, this time it’s a totally different reasoning for that weight, more muscle than fat, maybe a little fat, but my 34’s still fit the same, so I’m not too far off.    Plus, I feel great, so , pardon the language here but Fuck what a scale tells you.  It can’t measure your happiness, or  how someone else sees you.

 

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Me, last weekend.

The point is, don’t let the numbers on the scale be your determining factor in your self esteem.  The scale only tells you one part of the story, it’s up to you to fill in the rest of it.  And for you to decide where you go next.

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Reel Geek Review: All New Inhumans vol. 1 Global Outreach

 

 

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As of late Marvel’s mutants that they own the film and tv rights to have been getting a bigger push in the comics than they have in their entire 51 year history.  I’m assuming this has a lot to do with the fact that Marvel owns the rights to the characters like I said, and they have been getting a lot of tv time, the past two seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been very Inhuman-centric, with rumors still pointing towards a movie at some point in Marvel’s busy film schedule.  Which I’d be totally cool with by the way, I’ve always like the characters, so I’m glad that they’re getting a huge push from the company, with two distinct Inhumans books on the shelves, and a potentially X-Men series ending crossover event later on this year or next year.  The latter of which I’d be sad if they did, as I’ve been a lifelong X fan, but we’ll see what they do.  After all, in comics, nothing is ever permanent.

 

But anyways, today I’m here talking about the first story arc of the new All New Inhumans title, entitled Global Outreach.   To set this up, and a lot of other things in the Marvel Universe, a while back, the ruler of the Inhumans,  Blackagon Boltagon, or Black Bolt for short (seriously, that’s his secret identity…I’m not sure what they were on when they were coming up with these characters in the 60s but it must have been good.)  set off a few Terrigen bombs around the world, releasing clouds of this Terrigen mist, which is the substance that turns people from normal humans to…dun dun dun…Inhumans.      Also, this cloud has effectively sterilized the mutant population in Marvel (a.k.a. Marvel isn’t making any more mutant characters again because they can’t make money off of them movie or tv wise)  but that’s background info for another story.

So because of this, the Inhumans have become a hot topic of debate in Earth 616 (The Marvel Earth, for those newcomers)  and their population has grown by a lot, so there are now two teams that deal with Inhuman/normal people relations, this book follows one of them, led by Crystal, along with Inhumans mainstays Gorgon and Lockjaw, along with a new cast of characters.

“As the Terrigen Clouds continue to spread across the world, they leave in their wake the ruined lives of the Inhumanized. Now Crystal – Inhuman princess and former elemental Avenger – leads her own team tasked to help as many of these NuHumans as possible. But Medusa’s sister has her work cut out for her. After all, the reactions of the newly super-powered vary wildly -from fear to amazement to outright anger. Then there are the mysterious Skyspears that recently crashed into the Earth, making life even more complicated. But worst of all, there’s a dictator hell-bent on turning Inhumans into weapons of mass destruction. As Crystal’s team comes together, she’d best hope that Gorgon’s training pays off, or they won’t all make it out of their first mission alive!”  Plot summary taken from the Amazon listing.

I really enjoyed this first story arc, I’m also thankful for the Marvel Unlimited App, with which I’ve been reading and re-reading in some cases the old Marvel books, making my way through the history of the Marvel Universe, a year later and I’m in the mid 70’s, great stuff.  I bring that up because one of the plot points in this first story arc takes the All New Inhumans to Sin Cong, a fictional area of Asia in the Marvel Universe first encountered by the Avengers in The Avengers #18,  in a story that I’d have no knowledge of without the app, not that they mention it all.  I really wish they’d bring back footnotes again, reminding readers of issues where things or events took place beforehand.  Because this was a really deep cut of Marvel lore, haven’t seen this place mentioned since that Avengers issue, and yet here we are again.  Was cool for me, but for new readers it’s just a new place for them to go to.

Minor criticisms aside, I really enjoy this book, and I look forward to seeing where the series goes from here.  The writing by Charles Soule (The Mighty Thor) and the art by Stefano Caselli (Avengers:Time Runs Out) is top notch storytelling at it’s finest.  I’ll give it **** 4 out of 5 Stars.

Reel Geek Review: Carnage Vol. 1 The One That Got Away

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Carnage has always been one of my favorite supervillains.  He first appeared back in 1992, right as my brother and I were getting really into comics.  A deranged serial killer with an alien symbiote powering him, he was pretty badass.    The character has had legs, for sure, lasting 14 years now, and now he’s got his own series, written by comic book legend Gerry Conway.

I love the concept of this first volume, it’s a straight up horror thriller.  One of Cletus “Carnage” Kasady’s first big kills was burning down the orphanage he was in as a boy, killing everybody, except for one girl, Manny, who grew up to be an FBI agent.  Now, she’s tracked down Kasady to a mine in West Virginia, and has a team going in to capture the symbiotic psychopath.  Of course, it all goes to crap, and it’s her and her team trapped in a mine along with Carnage.  It helps though that her team has John Jameson also known as Man Wolf, and the original host of Venom, Eddie Brock, who is in control of the Toxin symbiote these days.   There’s some further twists to the story, but I’ll let you discover those for yourselves.

I really, really enjoyed these first few issues.  It really goes to show the versatility that comic books have these days, and have always had.  You can do a horror story with a supervillain monster,  or you can do a standard superhero story, or a crime story, or a love story, or anything with these characters when you give them depth, because life is more than just one genre, so should the medium of comic books.

Gerry Conway, as a writer has only gotten better over the years, or maybe he was always this good, but was just hampered by the medium of comics as they were back in the 70’s.  The art here too, by Mike Del Mundo is fantastic, and give the story that horror movie atmosphere that it needed.

Also, for new readers you don’t really need to know anything prior going into this series, it helps if you are familiar with the Venom/Carnage history, and John Jameson’s Man Wolf identity, but you won’t be overly confused.  A strong first volume for this series, can’t wait to see where the series goes next.  **** 4 out of 5 stars.

 

 

Reel Geek Review: Amazing Spider-Man(2016) vol. 2 Worldwide

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Dan Slott has been writing Spider-Man for the past 6 years now, and has proven himself to be the premier writer of the character for our generation.  Since the post Secret Wars reboot but not really a reboot, there’s been some changes to the character of Spider-Man as a whole.  For starters, the Ultimate version, Miles Morales, is also in the main Marvel Universe these days, still as Spider-Man, also the future version, Miguel O’Hara, the Spider-Man of 2099, is also in the present, also as a Spider-Man, and the biggest change of all, Peter Parker has become a tech mogul, second only to Tony Stark in the Marvel Universe.

A far cry from the struggling photographer trying to make ends meet by selling Spidey pics to an angry J Jonah Jameson, it’s a new twist on the character, just not one I’m sure I’m really into just yet.

In the first collected volume of the new series, also titled Worldwide, Spider-Man, the Peter Parker version in this series, had to deal with the terrorist group Zodiac trying to steal secrets from Parker Industries operations all over the world.  In this volume, it’s Spider-Man action in China, against Mr. Negative, a villain who’s kind of like Spider-Man’s Two-Face, he’s still a good man, except when his negative side takes over, and respected philanthropist Martin Li becomes the gangster Mr. Negative, and at some point he apparently also got a hold of superhero tandem and soon to be stars of their own tv series Cloak and Dagger, and made them part of his crew.   So Spidey’s in China, having to deal with Mr. Negative, his friends turned evil, and keeping his company running smoothly.

 

I’m still, after 8 issues into this new status quo, not sure if I like it so much, I’m cool with change, but having Parker being a poor man’s Tony Stark just doesn’t feel right to me.  The writing is still sharp as ever, and the art, done here by Matteo Buffagni is serviceable, but this status quo still doesn’t quite sit right with me.  I do like the twist of Doc Ock secretly surviving his recent body switch with Parker (long story) secretly hiding out in a robot body though, and look forward to seeing how this plays out.

Also in this new series is the all new 2016 model Spider-Mobile, which is a lot more useful than the original 70’s version, but still kind of useless, because, Spider-Man doesn’t need a vehicle, he’s freaking Spider-Man.    All in all it’s a fun read, but I just hope for a change in the canon soon, as I’m not sure there’s a lot of stories you can do with Peter Parker: Tech Mogul, but if there are, I’m sure Dan Slott could tell them.   *** Three out of Five Stars.

Reel Geek Review: Spider Woman vol. 6 (vol.1)

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Spider Woman has had quite an interesting history over the years, starting off as a “We better make a character called this before a rival company does to keep the copyright” character in the real world, to having one of the most convoluted origin stories in all of comic book history (seriously, look it up sometime), to being a retired superhero, to a private investigator, to being replaced by a Skrull for a few years to… well, like I said, it’s been quite an interesting road for Jessica Drew.

And that road continues to be further interesting still in the latest collection, collecting the first 5 issues of the latest reboot in the post Secret Wars Marvel Universe from writer Dennis Hopeless (Avengers Arena) and artist Javier Rodriguez (Axis:Hobgoblin)   It starts out, and she’s 9 months pregnant, and still doing the superhero thing, along with investigative reporter Ben Urich, and a reformed D-List supervillain, The Porcupine.  The story moves into high gear when her best friend Carol “Capt. Marvel” Danvers gets her an appointment at the best labor and delivery ward in the galaxy, literally, which gets taken over by a group of Skrulls.

I’ve never really read too much of the character before, just been familiar with her exploits via other characters books, and her appearances on various Avengers teams over the years.  But needless to say, this book made me a Jessica Drew fan.  Smart, funny, and a total badass even while being the only superhero who’s also super pregnant, she’s a hero for 2016 for sure.   Both the writing by Dennis Hopeless and the art by Javier Rodriguez are both top notch, and I loved the use of Rodriguez’ use of the medium of comic book panel art to making it something else.  It really is comic book art.

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The pregnant superhero storyline wraps up in this volume, which I was a little surprised by, but not really surprised, since that’s kind of a hard concept to really keep going, look forward to seeing how the series  develops as new parent/veteran superhero is a new ish concept.

 

I highly recommend this book for anyone, even if you’re only passingly into comics thanks to the copius amounts of superhero action there are between movies and tv and such, this is a highly accessible series to get into, smart writing, fast and fun action, and a good time to be had by all.

TV Geek Review: The Get Down (Season One Part 1)

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Netflix has been on a roll for creating and putting out fresh original content as of late, this summer especially, with the Duffer Brother’s huge hit Stranger Things last month, and now this month’s offering, The Get Down, a huge collaboration between writer/producer Stephen Adly Guirgis (Birdman),  Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet), hip hop legend Nas and an extremely talented cast and crew.    Not long after I heard of Stranger Things, it seemed everyone else discovered it as well, and everyone’s talking about it.   This show, I stumbled across it last week, got hooked on it, and haven’t really heard as much rumblings, but its a show you really should watch, especially if you’re any type of fan of good television, hip hop, disco, or any combination of the three, which this show melds perfectly like a great dj mix.

The show is set in the summer of 1977, in the Bronx in New York City, in the beginnings of hip hop.  Ezekial (Justice Smith-Paper Towns) and his friends Ra Ra (Skylan Brooks-Southpaw) Boo Boo (Tremaine Brown, Jr) and Dizzee (Jaden Smith-The Karate Kid) have a chance encounter with local legend/grafitti artist/aspiring DJ Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore-Dope) that changes all of their lives forever.

That doesn’t really do the show justice, as there’s so much more going on then that in it, it’s an epic 6+ hours of television to be watched here.  There’s crime, murder, mystery, drugs, corruption, sex, and more.  The first episode is a full length movie, at an hour and a half, and my first time watching it it was a lot to take in, but I was hooked nonetheless.

For starters the cast is all top notch, from Justice Smith, to Jaden Smith, and drama veterans Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) and Jimmy Smits (Sons of Anarchy) the casting is phenomenal.      The visuals themselves are quite fantastic as well, fantastic cinematography by William Rexer.   I loved the inroduction of Shaolin Fantastic’s character.  He’s presented as an urban legend A  kung fu ninja of graffiti, like Bruce Lee met with Luke Cage and met Bruce Leroy after that and all fused into one.  I like how they turned one of the originators of hip hop, Grandmaster Flash (played here by Mamadou Athie) into an actual kung fu grandmaster here, dispensing wisdom as well as fresh beats.

The scripts too are top notch, you really get a sense of the hero’s journey in this tale, as hip hop is presented as part kung fu, part Jedi, part superhero in a sense, and it totally works.  I was already a fan of all three things, so the mashup worked well for me.   Some of the dialogue didn’t sound right to me, but some of this slang could be era accurate, I might just be more familiar with it as a more contemporary words.

The soundtrack as well is amazing, you really get a feel for 1977, from disco to soul to rock to early hip hop, it’s something that needs to be heard.  It also helped I watched the majority of the season on a computer or a tablet with headphones so I really felt the music as it was being played, much like how I used to listen to albums in the days when I bought albums and not streamed music, just me and the music, which, as it’s the lifeblood of the show, it enhanced every scene, and made a great show, even greater.

My only real complaint about the show, is that it’s not a full season, it’s part one of the story, and it’s a good stopping point, but I want to see more of it, as soon as possible.    I’ll leave you with the trailer for it, if you haven’t seen it yet, just to give you a taste, and hopefully you’ll enjoy The Get Down as much as I did.  5 out of 5 Stars. *****

Reel Geek Food Reviews: Local Spotlight: Sweet Mama Teez

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Photo from my girlfriend’s Instagram of the Funnel Cakes we had the other night.  I had the Oreo Explosion, she had the Strawberries and Cream.

 

One of my favorite parts of summertime, aside from the big dumb blockbuster movies, and baseball, is carnival food.  You know the type, things that are deep fried that normally aren’t,  Flavored Ice, and of course, the Funnel Cake.  Unfortunately though, carnivals are a temporary thing, and it’s a little pricey to go to a theme park (the only other real place you can get a funnel cake on a regular basis).  So what do you do when you have the craving?

Well, if you’re in the Tidewater area of Virginia, you can go to Sweet Mama Teez, in Hampton.    If not for the brightly colored shack you might just pass it by as you’re driving through, but that would be a mistake.  Inside this tiny shack and van in the parking lot is the answer to your sweet tooth that’s craving funnel cake.   And not just your standard funnel cake either.   Here I was introduced to the world of specialty funnel cake, different topping combinations of just about everything sweet you could think of.   There’s Oreo Explosion funnel cake, Banana Pudding funnel cake, Strawberries and Cream funnel cake, and that’s just the tip of the funnel cake iceberg.

In addition to the varieties of funnel cake, you can also get deep fried Oreos, and a Water Ice so good it’s like you’re back in Philadelphia.  If you haven’t been, it’s not your typical Italian ice, just shaved ice covered in syrup, it’s something unto itself that you really must try for yourself.

Also if you’re hungry for more than just dessert, they do serve Cheesesteaks, Gyros, and more, so you really could have a whole meal here.  It’s a fun summertime atmosphere too, with beach chairs set up out front, and a monitor showing fun music videos, it’s a great place to take a date.    Fall’s creeping up around the corner, so if you’re in the area or traveling to it soon, I’d suggest stopping by Sweet Mama Teez soon to get your taste of summer.

Sweet Mama Teez is located on 908 West Pembroke Avenue Hampton, Virginia 23669

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