You Can Be My Wingman Anytime

Monday, July 22, 2013

Joel and I caught the Sunday morning viewing of Pacific Rim.

Everything you need to know about this movie can be gleaned from Top Gun.

In fact, I am 90% certain you could take the lines from Top Gun, voice it over this movie, and it would largely make sense.

Fortunately, Joel and I are Top Gun fans, so we enjoyed the movie for its entertainment value and for the fact that we tried to pick which Top Gun lines and characters would apply to a given scene or character in Pacific Rim.

The acting was actually decent (nothing like this unspeakable travesty), and the story was well-conceived, though formulaic.  But you can't go into a Giant Summertime CGI Blockbuster expecting Oscar material, except for maybe the CGI.  Largely, the storyline for Pacific Rim was a delivery vehicle for CGI fights between giant 50-story robots and 50-story alien creatures.

And. It. Was. Awesome.

But it had it all:  diamond-in-the-rough hot-shot pilot with a personal tragedy, the Ice Man, the incredulous Commander always busting the hero's balls, the uncertain "co-pilot" (each robot is piloted by 2 troops, who must be able to establish a mental and emotional link for the robot to move), the forces of good on the brink of defeat, a faceless bureaucracy ready to dismantle the world's best chance of defense, on and on.  There's actually, as Joel and I discussed, plenty of room for a series based on this, given the rich back story only hinted-at in the first 15 minutes of the movie.  Pacific Rim for sure has way more style points and predictably-satisfying scenes and outcomes, but's fun! And I can't say enough about the CGI. These fights looked and felt real without the herky-jerky, hard-to-follow Transformers fight scenes.

Now, I kept it short on the review because that's not really my goal with this post.  Go see Pacific Rim; I plan to take my 8-year-old to see it, who will probably go apeshit for it.  My goal is this, reiterated from the 2nd sentence of this post:  everything you need to know about this movie can be gleaned from Top Gun.

Pick any movie about pilots, piloting big machines, and maverick-y heroes, and they all stem from Top Gun.  Top Gun, IMO, is the progenitor of that type of movie.  These pilot/co-pilot, fantastic machinery flicks follow the Top Gun formula devised by late MSU professor Jim Cash.

This led our discussion to:  all cop movies stem from Lethal Weapon (the uptight 'gimmie your badge and your gun' commander whose past turns out to be strangely similar to the hero's, the cop-on-the-edge, the reluctant but faithful partner who is wounded or dies, etc).

No point on a summer Monday other than:  discuss.


My Mid-Life Crisis

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

So my team of maniacs has now signed up for the Iron Warrior Dash on September 21 in Walker, MI.  Ity is the same day as the Warrior Dash, with a couple key differences:

  1. The Warrior Dash is a 5k; the Iron Warrior Dash is 15.6 miles.
  2. The Warrior Dash has 12 obstacles; the Iron Warrior Dash has 24.
  3. The entire Warrior Dash if, again, a 5k; the Iron Warrior Dash has a 5k smack in the middle of it just for fun.
The Tough Mudder was a really good time, and weighed-in at 12.4 miles.  Not too shabby.  But it also wasn't a timed event; rather, it was a "can you finish" event.  Yes, apparently, these 40-year-olds can indeed, thank you very much.  The Iron Warrior, however, is a timed event, so not only is it about finishing, it's about racing as well, so we're all training a little harder to get our run times a tad faster.

I took a look at the obstacles for this event, and they look a good deal more physically demanding than the Mudder, which varied in terms of difficulty and relative misery.  Really, the obstacles along the Mudder were more designed to make you dirtier, wetter, and more miserable as you went along.  These look to do the same, but involve much more climbing, hanging, and relative strength/endurance.  Lucky for us, at least 2 of us on our team have years of experience being wet, dirty, miserable, and tired.

Bob asked how one trains for this.

First, I have gone over to the insane asylum and do Crossfit.  Here's my gym.  Regular gym guys who like to scream through 8 bench presses and then sit on the bench for 5 minutes between sets flexing or watching Sports Center like to disparage Crossfit because it involves a lot of leaping, Olympic-style lifts, and bad decisions; they think it looks silly or that they get better results.  But I submit:  the Marine Corps was the first branch to switch their entire fitness regimen to Crossfit, and now all the branches use it to keep the troops in top shape.  I've never been in such good shape (down to 184 lbs now!!).  And the guys who crushed the Tough Mudder?  Every one of them wore a Crossfit gym's shirt.  Every guy who was walking by mile 4 and skipped obstacles?  Muscley-looking dudes in Fitness World shirts.  But I digress:  a typical Crossfit "WOD" (WorkOut of the Day) might look like:

2 times:

  • 200 M run
  • 30 jumping jacks
  • 20 air squats
  • 10 lunges

  • 5 x 1 push press (think: standing military press), increase weight every set to achieve 1-rep maximum (mine is 180#)
15 minutes, As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP); each round consists of:

  • 12 push press (50% of max)
  • 12 pull-ups
  • 24 air squats
Done.  In and out of the gym in 40 minutes.  And it's all I can take.  Check out my gym's site for more examples of just how well Crossfit conditions your entire body.

Then, I mix-in running.  I kinda-sorta use this site as a rough week-by-week guide of how far and how many times a week I need to be running to get myself to the half-marathon mark.  But as aggressively as Crossfit works me, I break-down my Crossfit and Running schedule: odd weeks - Crossfit 3 days, run 4 days; even weeks - Crossfit 4 days, run 3.  2/3 of my runs in a week are 5k, some at a slower pace to "feel" the pace I need to survive a half marathon, and some at a blistering pace to push myself and my limits, which ultimately makes the "slower" pace faster and faster.  Then the remaining runs I have in a week are longer distance, starting at 6, then 8, then 10 miles.

Then the week before the race?  1 or 2 light jogs, some nice brisk walks around the neighborhood to keep the hips and ankles mobile, some light, basic, "open gym" work at the gym just doing some light basics, a solid deep tissue massage and hot tub soak about 3 days before.  The day before?  Nothing much at all, and eat only meals I am really familiar with and have eaten many times before.  Hydrate like MAD to the point where I have to piss on the hour every hour.

Now, with diabetes, I have to watch my sugar.  Hours and hours of physical exertion can threaten to leave me hypoglycemic.  So I load up on good, diabetes-friendly carbs (whole grains) and protein bars and shakes to further slow the absorption of the carbs.  For instance, the night before the Mudder:

  • Dinner:  grilled salmon over a double-helping of mixed greens, Sesame dressing, whole-grain roll
  • Snack: Popcorn (it's a whole grain!)

  • Race time: 11:40 am
  • Breakfast (6:30 am): 1/2 C Egg Beaters mixed with 2 T hummus, 1 C low-fat Greek yogurt topped with 1/2 C granola
  • 8:30 - Protein bar, with dark chocolate
  • 10:30 - Another protein bar with dark chocolate
  • 11:20 - Gu packet
Every 45 approximate minutes of race time: Gu packet

"Hypoglycemic" is a blood-sugar level of less than 70.  45 minutes after the race, after I was finally hosed-off enough to do so (but my body was still, after all that, burning energy like crazy), my reading was 83.  The race company offered Cliff protein bars just past the finish line; in the future, I'll take advantage of that just to get my levels to a comfy 100 or so.

And that is how I prepare for these "adventure races."


Too Many Craft Beers?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Time Magazine Asks: Are There Too Many Craft Beers?


Don't the big two or three beer producers in the U.S. have like 90% of the market share?

No, there aren't too many craft breweries as long as they are making a few bucks and there are more Coors drinkers to convert.



Wednesday, July 03, 2013


Tough Mudder 2013
12.6 miles
20 obstacles

My team of 4 - a distance runner, a Marine, a Ranger, and a Navy Corpsman - did it in just over 3 hours.  Loved it so much, we're headed here in September.

Smitty's mid-life crisis apparently consists of joining Crossfit gyms and running in "adventure races."



Potential Drunks

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