Vay Cay Shun..?


I am not a vacation inclined person. I just never really got into that habit or tradition. There may be a future story in that but for now just go with me here. I can take down time and shut off the stress in smaller increments. Honesty it’s the way I have done it for so long I just don’t crave the holiday like many others I know. Full disclosure it doesn’t always work, never the less it’s what I know. I have gone on vacation before, a week in Texas, weekends in Toronto, camping or visiting family, the travel bug never dug into me though. A few times employers noticed that I was racking up a ridiculous amount of time owed or vacation pay and frankly there was one incident where it was so lopsided that HR demanded I take some time because it was damn near a civil rights violation, wasn’t on the company though it was on me.

The last few years it has been brought to my attention that I was selfishly depriving my family of memories and my fiancee of her traditional time away. Well…fuck. So in mid August I started beating down the selfish impulse to blow off the suggestion of time away and get comfortable with the idea of not being home and living out of a bag for a few days in a hotel, more specifically a yurt. I’ll wait while you google that term, better yet let me get a tad bit further and I’ll add a link. This Labour Day weekend happened to fall neatly around my fiancees birthday, I had little grounds to deny her wish of a weekend away since last year I set an impossibly high bar with a marriage proposal, so I resigned myself to the trip and did my best to silently battle the revulsion that I get when faced with such a prospect.

We started off on a slight misstep and a side trip to Lillooet to visit my Mom and drop off my daughters, while not ideal we did enjoy the shirt visit and my girls often feel starved for tome with their Nanny, so it was a blessing. Despite Lillooet not being an entertainment hot spot there is one attraction that we love rain or shine Fort Berens winery, this proved to be a crucial component to the rest of our weekend. Jodi at Fort Berens ( http://www.fortberens.ca/ )  was not only delightful and knowledgeable but she took the time to recommend her favourite wineries and a distillery to us in Penticton and write out a list of them for us. Customer service folks, it goes a long way.

Our ultimate destination was Barefoot Beach Resort ( http://www.barefootresort.ca/ ) in Penticton on Skaha lake, we had found a cool little yurt to stay in and though it wasn’t exactly on the beach it was still a lovely temporary abode. kitchenette, bathroom, TV, internet, king size bed, in short my kind of camping. Our first full day was filled with wine, we took a drive up Naramata and checked off many of the suggestions we had been given. We found great vodkas and Blasted Brew a fantastic coffee liqueur at Legend Distillery, good bye Bailey’s we had a good thing but I’ve found something better. We continued through Naramata enjoying the views, various wines and each others company. We were in no hurry and found several vintages to bring home and a few gifts. We topped our drive off by stopping at Tin Whistle Brewery and found more friendly staff more than happy to talk with us for nearly an hour while I casually enjoyed a flight of the brews I had not had before and getting a growler fill of their Peach Cream Ale topped off with about 1/3 Black Widow which is an incredible combination.

I could tell you we then went out and panted the town red and partied like we were 20 again but it would be a lie. It was my wonderful fiancees birthday and we had reservations. My fiancee had found a lovely Greek restaurant to enjoy for her birthday dinner. Then we were told another was better, so we headed there and blew off our reservation. When we arrived we had to agree that with the crowd it must be good, it’s smelled good, the food we saw looked good, this was the place indeed. The 45 minute wait for a table was not going to work for us though and neither was the complete lack of service and rude hostess, so we walked down the block to the original restaurant and found it too was packed, this time we had a reservation and were still 5 minutes early. La Casa Ouzeria ( http://lacasaouzeria.com/ ) delivered in spades. I can honestly say I have never eaten better. Giant portions, mind blowing food  and a fantastic staff, if this really was the 2nd best Greek food in town they had the best service and I would love to see the other place try to out do the food, personally I think we got hosed by the recommendation. When our waiter returned to offer us dessert we both nearly passed out at the though of trying to put anything else in our mouths. ” We get that a lot.” he reassured us as we stumbled over each other to decline due to being far too full.

I had to walk back to the truck alone as it was a few blocks away and return to fetch my girl but as I walked back I contemplated this vacation thing. I was feeling relaxed and mellow, I felt I was reconnecting with this woman I am committing my life to, what have I been missing out on? My most exotic vacation was a week in Houston, Texas which I loved but as far as just letting go and being away I was just realizing why people do this on purpose. We would have a few more winery stops and an incredibly fun ATV tour that I will tell you about next week because I could go on forever about it and the near tragedy that preceded it. As I strolled back to the truck alone in the warm and mugged ( it would rain shortly after we returned to our yurt too bloated with dinner to move, our sheer indulgence ruined our beach camp fire before the rain could.

It will take me a few more tries at this to become truly comfortable on vacation but when I step out of my own bullshit I understand that one of my few true axes left to grind with my childhood I am repeating on my kids and future wife. There are a few things I would like to experience still, to do that I must travel and take vacation. So here we are again, I am admitting to you all that I had fun, lots of it and would like to do it more but to do that I have to do the one thing that has kept me below average my whole life, I need to get over my shit which really is why I’m writing in the first place.

Tragically Canadian

“Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy.” Chills ran up my spine and a tear welled in my eye, never before has a lyric changed its meaning so much and become so powerful. 11.7 million other Canadians seem to have felt the same, the most watched broadcast in Canadian history since February 2010, second only to the 2010 Olympic hockey finals. Blah, blah, blah. You’ve already read this stuff, I know I am late to the deluge of coverage of this event, even though as I write this I see several more news outlets and bloggers still releasing their takes. To be honest I was debating even writing this, let alone publishing it but this entire blog project is as much getting things off my mind as it is practicing to get good enough as a writer to get paid for it and The Hip are on my mind.

1/3 of a country that occupies 1/3 of a continent watched on as a man went through a kaleidoscope of emotions on stage, how could he not?  Gordon Edgar Downie stood in front of the millions….AND MILLIONS, of Tragically Hip fans and gave us everything he had and poured every emotion possible out of his soul. Kingston, Canada and the world  saw it and we wept with him and for him.  All over the globe Canadians and fans streamed the feed on, computers, phones and tablets and felt everything Mr Downie did. It was not just 11.7 million fans it was 11.7 million empaths sharing a moment with one man. I admire the decision to squeeze in this tour, to me it speaks volumes of the character of Mr. Downie, he knew the out come and stood up in the face of death and said “I am NOT tired as fuck. I will not go quietly nor will I go before I have said good bye to everyone. I will not win this fight but I will leave on my terms.”  I respect Mr Downie for that. He would not give up and accept his fate without fighting back and going on his terms, my Grandfather was the same way when he battled ALS, “It may take me but it will have to come and get me.” There is nothing more on this Earth that I respect than the willingness to fight on in the face of certain loss, the strength of will it takes to persevere, to put aside all self pity, rage, sorrow and in the case of Mr. Downie the sacrifice of time with family and friends. Hold on a second, is it possible the he spent time with thousands of friends at a time in ten different cities?

If you missed the show, I have no doubt in my mind that there will be a home version released at some point, in fact I would bet heavily on that and the stipulation that a least part of the proceeds go to a charity to help cancer research and/or the plight of the aboriginal peoples. I see no problem with that, take my money. I do not see the Tragically Hip continuing on though, I can envision a tribute album where other vocalists fill in for Mr Downie as the rest of the Hip play, but I do not see someone filling in full time, not this band, not now. There are bands that just aren’t the same unless they are the complete unit we have accepted, like The Beatles you just can’t swap out one member and go on, other bands have and found success after replacing members but The Hip just doesn’t seem like one. Don’t mistake me, I think the remaining members can continue their careers or do other things and be successful but I can’t see a new front man being inserted and the band continuing on, once in a while maybe but not full time.

There was one major beneficiary Saturday night, Justin Trudeau, Mr Downie publicly endorsed him and and bound him to be the man who rights the wrongs done to the aboriginal population and be the leader that will lead Canada into a prosperous and bright future. No pressure Justin, not like it’s your rookie year or anything… Holy shit, I wouldn’t want that job just for the BS of public opinion on how you balance everything let alone having the most beloved Canadian since Wayne Gretzky fully endorse you as the next big thing. Mr. Downie said multiple times with incredible conviction that our Prime Minister  is the man and I would wager caused some reconsideration to many that did not support our him. The flip side to that is now Mr Trudeau has to live up to being put on a pedestal in the second largest and most uncensored broadcast in Canadian history. That may have be the most clever bit of public accountability in political history. Well played Mr Downie, well played.

I know that this was not the last news story surrounding Mr Downie, I am hoping that there is one solid sit down interview where he can express what his thoughts were as he stood there and looked out at another sold out arena, knowing that there are millions watching from homes, bars, back yard parties and in the streets and massive gatherings. It doesn’t matter much though, the Tragically Hip did not do right by Mr Downie or the band or the fans, they did right by the Canadian spirit. The spirit that never forgets where we come from or who is important to were we go to go. The spirit that says give back to others before you take for yourself, the one that was outlined by William Shatner, Kathrine O’Hara and Michael J. Fox at the 2010 Olympics closing ceremonies. Across the Great Lakes in Chicago Eddie Vedder made a point of paying tribute to Mr Downie dedicating Light Years to him. I look at Pearl Jam and see the same spirit in the music and the same intelligent writing and for some reason whether it be management or just being too Canadian (like being too blonde I suppose) The Tragically Hip never became the world’s band like Pearl Jam has, they remained our band, a Canadian band for the Canadian people in the spirit of the true north strong and free.

I want you all to sit there for a moment and think about your current job, it is your last day and you have done such a good job that 11.7 million people are watching you in emotional turmoil, you did a good job and you don’t really want to leave but it is out of our hands. On what may be his last day on the job. Mr. Downie gave his everything he had on Aug 20, 2016, he lay his microphone on it’s stand and his eyes seemed to say “I can do no more.” and we thank him.He got his due in the end, he did what he loved for the final time in his home town for a sold out crowd, masses in the streets and the eyes of a nation. Pick your four closest friends and imagine that you could be there doing anything you loved one last time in front of that audience. Being on that stage watching a friend, a brother, as sick and exhausted as he must have been giving every last thing he had to your final time performing together. We saw tears, we shed tears and we are just on lookers, what we didn’t see would crush us as human beings. Cancer ravages one person physically but families emotionally, those four others on stage and many support crew backstage were his family too. The strength to get through that show on all accounts staggers me. The Tragically Hip made an impact by doing what they loved. They ‘made a thing’ and that thing enthralled us, that gives me hope and it should give anyone creating something hope. I will be honest here and say that I have considered quitting this, now I feel that I can never stop because The Hip never stopped and look what they turned into three decades later. Go and live, go and make your thing, go and keep going until you can’t, THAT is what I took away from Saturday August 20th 2016. Go forward my friends and do not look back until the end, you could find as many people behind you as The Hip.

READ THIS!!! Seriously It’s Book Recommendations 

Oh the 1980’s, how I miss thee. The hours of Saturday morning cartoons, which were basically 23 minute toy commercials with a couple breaks for more toy commercials and a few public service announcements. We had One To Grow On, Captain O.G. Readmore, In The News, Schoolhouse Rock even He-M


an and G.I.Joe had PSAs at the end of the episodes man did we get a dose of morals between begging our parents for the new G.I.Joe/Transformer/Barbie/Popple/Teddy Ruxpin. Remember those ‘Just Say No’ commercials, now think that the production crews were probably all coked to the gills considering the amount of blow being done in the 80’s, irony ladies and gentlemen (and Alanis Morisette).  I think the one hat stuck with me most was the inundation of reading, hell reading Rainbow was my jam, it was the reason I stopped flipping channels when I saw Geordi La Forge doing something to prolong the dilithium crystals. I was in 7th grade when I found my first emotionally jarring series of books. I was raised with The Hardy Boys books, not the wrestlers, but the series as a prolonged endeavor never reached a firm conclusion that I read but a five book series I discovered had me emotionally distraught at the end of book five. this week I would like to share and hopefully open a discussion on long running book series. NOTE: I m purposely skipping George R.R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ here as there is already too much discussion and I think there is a longer article on it in me. Yes, it is great. Yes, I have been reading it since the first edition paperback of A Game of Thrones. On that note I have never read a page of Harry Potter either, I’ll wait here for you to get over it…..I’m done, stop being a sissy and let’s go, one day I’ll get to it all of them are under my roof but as you’l see the waiting list is long (Ha! third edit joke, you’ll get it later). On to some others I have enjoyed in no particular order.

Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: (January 1990 – January 2013), 15 books. There are 14 books in the main series and a short story involving the early days of two characters that was fleshed out and turned into a prequel (A New Spring). It centers on three young men pulled in to a prophetic apocalypse. The three and several others navigate a tremendously well plotted world of swords and sorcery as they prepare to engage the ultimate universal evil as it struggle to break free with help of disciples and acolytes. Part coming of age part Armageddon tale. Robert Jordan passed away in 2007 leaving notes and chapters to his chosen successor to finish, Brandon Sanderson (who has his own creations) not only did justice to the story but I found it seemless from Mr. Jordan’s work. I can not recommend this series enough but it will take some serious time and be prepared to be sad at the end. There are no screen adaptations I am aware of and frankly the only way I can see it being done is a long running animation series because they can stay in production constantly, keep true to source and not drag the story out for an entire generation.

Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind: (1994 – 2015) 17 books. While the story of an unlikely hero rising to the challenge of an evil warlord is not quite original this may be the most compelling. Centering on two characters, one the high highest of her magical order and the other a simple young man that had no idea his heritage was of incredible latent power. To be honest until two minutes before I typed this I did not know there was a prequel and THREE (WTF, how did I miss that?) follow up books to what I thought was the final novel. The struggle of the main characters and the interactions are well thought out and grounded. There are points where the despair of the characters is emotionally draining. While the ending (I thought) didn’t leave me nearly as distraught as the ending of Wheel of Time. However I now have to go buy 4 books and see what else happened that I missed, could be that I end up in tears on the end of this one too. In 2009 Legend of The Seeker debuted to two seasons of a TV adaption until the production/distribution company went bankrupt, while fans long for a continuation the series has yet to find a way to production since the cast was contractually released from their obligation.

Dirk Pitt Novels by Clive Cussler: (1973- 2014), 23 books of Dirk Pitt Adventures. The science and adventure series of my list. the series I refer to are the ones classified as ‘Dirk Pitt Novels’. gave me My mother gave me an early book when I was in 11th grade, I became obsessed and am pretty sure I have most of them, not all. The books read like part Indiana Jones and part James Bond part discovery channel. The creator Clive Cussler is an actual treasure hunter and founder of the real life N.U.M.A. which he founded and  runs with the proceeds from his books and had discovered 60 shipwrecks (that’s reinvesting and crowd funding done right folks) At 85 years old with his first novel published at 34, Clive is probably the one author I idolize most. He started late, wrote much and used his income to fund passions. You can find Dirk Pitt, Oregon Files, Fargo Adventures and Isaac Bell Adventures on literally every news stand and book seller, I have not passed one since I discovered Cussler almost 25 years ago that did not have his name somewhere. I remember specifically reading Sahara (later a Matthew McConaughey film) and his descriptive of wandering the desert dehydrating had me sucking back a Double Gulp (2L of pop from 7/11) in record time, it took hours to recover from breaking that seal. His novel Raise the Titanic was also made in to a 1980 film starring Jason Robards. Neither of which seem to have endeared Hollywood to Mr.Cussler since only 2 attempts have been made and authorized. Frankly I think there is a solid NetFlix series here that could run for a long time. If I were to pitch it I would say six, one hour episodes per book (ish) and two books per season, done well, really get to the meat and bones of the stories, feel the pain Dirk, Al and Rudy go through and the torment they cause Sandecker. Jessica Jones and Daredevil can pull it off why not give it a try. I swear to you all if I win a powerball type lottery I will make it happen under the condition we do not butcher the book as the previous two films did (I did like Sahara I just think it left a LOT on the page that could have made the movie a top 10 of all time, big statement but read the book before you call me out). I preemptive accept the trolling on the 007/Indy Jones mash up.

Camulod Chronicles by Jack Whyte: (1992 – 2005) 8 books. Wow did this jump up and bite me in the ass. I was working in a film projection booth in the mid-00’s. I was up to date on Wheel of Time and A Song of Fire and Ice, I had yet to discover Sword of Truth. My friend Bryan, a bartender in our lounge, gave me The Sky Stone, the first of five in the series called A Dream of Eagles. There were five books in that series and they ate up my copious free time waiting for films to end (don’t be confused I worked a lot of hours and much of my job was before films started). All my waiting time was eaten up not by watching films through the port glass (for a change) but reading as ferociously as if I was laying in bed going “one more chapter” (I’ve done that too). I don’t think I devoured a series as voraciously as this one. I don’t own even half of it, I borrowed the A Dream of Eagles portion and returned each to exchange for the next volume like it I was a crack addict looking for a fix. There are eight books in the series, the first five revolve around the forging of Excalibur and founding of Camelot as the Roman Empire retreats from Britain. It evolves to the births and coming of age of Merlin and Uther Pendragon and the rise of King Arthur until he pulls the sword from the stone. Uther (6th book), over laps the point of view of book four (The Eagles Brood) focusing more on Uther Pendragon, the father of Arthur, than the one of Merlin who is the center piece of the 3rd, 4th and 5th books. After that the narrative turns to Clothar The Frank (7th book )and The Eagle (8th book), which pick up Arthurian legend from the perspective of Clothar the Frank (as in Frenchman) who travels to Britain in time to join Arthur’s court around the time the 5th book ends, stay with me here, and gaining fame for his skill with the lance. I bet you just bet me to the reveal didn’t you? Clothar The Frank is more commonly known as “Lancelot”, this double shot tells the tale of the fall of Arthur from a fantastic perspective and closes out the series with both a sense of sadness and completion. The five book series is hard to put down, harder than an other I’ve read, the eight book series offers the same but with a sense of completion unparalleled to my experience. I did not feel distraught to end this series, it was more akin to a break up where both people KNOW it is over and just separate with good memories out weighing the bad. This is NOT a fantasy series, this is HISTORICAL FICTION, I cannot emphasize that enough. BONUS: Jack Whyte is a resident of British Columbia (last I heard Kelowna but it’s easy to move).

The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander: (1964 – 1968), 5 books. This is the one. I had dozens of Hardy Boy books and they made for a great foundation but this five book series hit me like a train in 7th grade (Devon Gardens represent). You may not know the series by the author given name but book two was optioned by Disney and The Black Cauldron became their 25th animated movie. The third book The Castle of Llyr was my favourite but the end of the series, The High King, was the first book to make me feel like I had lost friends and would never hear from them again as they lived their lives (think about that in this age of social media). I would grow old and die and never know what Taran, Eilonwyn and the rest did with their lives. If you have a young child getting in to the novel stage of reading I cannot recommend this highly enough, as a mater of fact I am giving all 5th to my step son for his tenth birthday at the end of this month (August 2016). Frankly I plan or rereading them while he finishes out his Happy Potter binge.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Why? Because they are much shorter.

  1.  Kushiel Legacy Trilogy by Jacqueline Carey:  2001-2003 , three books. Intense and some what erotic, 23 shades of grey if you smell what I’m cookin’. I’ve only read the original trilogy but there is a trilogy of trilogies to go through in the realm of Terre D’Ange I encourage this to the ladies since it is written by one and my experience sharing it has shown that my lady friends enjoy it more often than my male ones. This is another series I should get after…I may need an e-reader now that I’ve proof read this article once and seen the list of books I have on deck. There are at least two other stories (as trilogies, already said that) attached to the first trilogy, which are the ones I am recommending and two other series by the author. I may be at least 6 books behind but the first three are well worth reading.
  2.  Coldfire Trilogy by Celia S. Friedman: 1992-1995 While C.S. Friedman has published many it was my lurking through the fantasy section in search of something to quell my search for a Wheel of time/Sword of Truth/Ice and Fire type fix (man I hit a heroine type addiction there in the early 2000’s) the cover of When True Night Falls grabbed me but it said sequel when I examined it. I left Coles books in Surrey Place Mall, not Central City (oh yeah GVRD people it goes that far back) with all three volumes. these are the only works of Ms Friedman I have read and they remain compelling and engrossing. The two main characters are so fully fleshed out that at different times you love and hate each of them and in the bitter sweet end you wish there was more but understand that more would ruin the story. The worst trauma comes in the middle of the trilogy when a character sacrifices themselves and all the while you want to believe hey will make a miraculous return in the nick of time. My favourite example of telling a story then leaving it alone. This above anything not in production deserves a shot at  series on Netflix. Three intense seasons and done.

So there you go folks a quick run down of fictional reading lists that I highly recommend to get you through the last few days basking in the sunshine and the winter ahead. Okay, yes, the spring and next summer too in the case of the Wheel of time and Sword of Truth. I do encourage you to read the books if you watch A Game of Thrones, but I will cover those some other time. Before the hate tweets start (TheMattHarding on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Linkedin, Facebook or just about anywhere) I have not read the Harry Potter books, The Dark Tower or any of the other series by Brandon Sanderson, I do plan on rectifying these over sights however I must fix that Sword of Truth fumble (what am I the Seahawks?). What do you recommend? Post on the The Matt Harding Blog Facebook page, comment on the WordPress or Twitter threads. Feed me more, NetFlix and chill isn’t the same if the fiancee is sleeping next to you and you are a night owl by nature.

 

 

My 30 Day Blitz Pt 3: Finish Strong

Aug 15 Day 21: Starting the last phase off with a new work out. Mix Tape (34m 54s) woke up with a sore right shoulder, slept on it very wrong last night. Last few days were free wheeling on the food intake.

Aug 16 Day 22: Stand Up….more like fall down. All good I got up and didn’t land on a cat. I chose this today because my right shoulder is not feeling ready to workout and my hips and quads are weak areas.

Aug 17 Day 23: Red Hot Core. Dialed it down for a recovery day. Hips are aching and my shoulder is feeling better but may as well give it anot her day.

Aug 18 Day 24: Double Black Diamond (65m 52s) I may be in over my head but I’m going to try. Hips are still aching and my right shoulder is feeling good.

Aug 19 Day 25: Back to Strength Builder. Feeling the DBD from yesterday.  Hips, quads, shoulder. Woooo that was a good one, not doing another rest today though.

Aug 20 Day 26: Fat Burner and RHC. Hips need a recovery day. Still getting a good nearly 40 minute work out.

Aug 21 Day 27: Double Black Diamond. I could only get about 40 min in, pesky right shoulder and left knee combined with a very late night thanks to a trip to the ER for my fiancée (everything turned out ok) I just don’t have it in me muscle failure started early as did the pains. That’s ok. The day isn’t over yet and there is no shame in a 40 min work out with DDP Yoga.

Aug 22 Day 28: Light Day, RHC trying to recuperate a bit for a final push to close this out.  I’m finding it easier to get to the more difficult forms an really get a core workout in.

Aug 23 Day 29: Stand Up today, leaving the shoulder out of this as best I can. I’m far better balanced the cat doesn’t look nearly as scared of me falling on him, considering he refused to sleep elsewhere it is really his own fault if he gets squashed anyway.

Aug 24 Day 30: Finishing with Double Black Diamond. I am just not capable of getting an extreme work out in. I made it through the whole thing and found myself more capable of some of the more difficult positions and even my trouble spots weren’t giving me as much trouble.

I made it, 30 strait days of yoga. I didn’t end up making my goal of an extreme workout or get my weight back below 190lbs but I did find myself more flexible, stronger and frankly self satisfied that I did it. At 38 years old I proved to myself that I can get back into shape if I stay disciplined and keep working. I may need more recovery and I may not be ale to hit a gym and clang the iron like I used to but there are dozens of things I can do. DDP Yoga is one thing I fully endorse, if you have the means I recommend you try it, but to be honest I now that there are dozens if not hundreds of other programs you can use from home to get something in. I plan to keep at it on a regular basis and start mixing in some gym days. Just because I love my DDP Yoga doesn’t mean I can’t mix things up a bit more. If I can do it anyone can, so if you are reading this and thinking you should do something go do it, ask nice and I might let you come try DDP Yoga with me.

My 30 Day Blitz Pt 2 Business Has Picked Up

Well the scale disappointed me at the end of day 10. Granted it wasn’t for lack of trying it was for lack of intake discipline, I ate too much crap and didn’t burn the calories off, for phase two I will be more careful, no fast food, cutting the beer intake way down and doing more challenging workouts. I feel that my body is getting more accustomed to the stretching, cardio demands and getting stronger. Starting weight for this stage 197.8

Aug 5 Day 11: Diamond Cutter (50m 18s) I started off feeling I was on top of this but memory told me it would get more difficult towards the end. Sure did. I lost balance a few times and screwed up a position or two which I managed to correct doing the opposite side. The five and ten count push ups really got to me and I  simply couldn’t do the last one. I had to modify a few positions because my left knee just can’t support my weight during certain movements.

Aug 6 Day 12: Strength Builder (38m 11s) really highlighted my weak areas. lots of shaking and screaming as I tried to keep the positions. A couple of the planks were a slow failure to the floor.

Aug 7 Day 13: Sore from the last two day and a little “ill” from a birthday party last night. Just RHC to day to get my hips and quads recovered for more serous efforts tomorrow.

Aug 8 Day 14: Diamond Cutter again today. Hit muscle failure again with the last few push up segments but my knee is getting better at supporting my weight and I am getting better with the balance, still fell a couple times, and flexibility. Today my fiancee joined in with Wake Up and RHC. Seems I am setting an example.

Aug 9 Day 15: HALF WAY! Strength Builder again. Hips spasm still but the extended low planks are a slower slide to failure. Today My 11 year old daughter decided to try, she learned the breathing and Diamond Dozen, which is a run through of the 12 core poses of the system. I wonder if she’ll continue, could be a DDP Yoga family at this rate. Got through a whole gig with out beer, water all night and a coke for the drive home, say no to peer pressure kiddies.

Aug 10 Day 16: My hips are sore and recovering still, did Fat Burner and RHC to ease up on them and still get a 35min work out in. Did them as close together and the DVD player would let me. Finding I am doing better getting trough the poses and crunch routines as well as the push ups. Almost got my eyebrows to touch my knee caps folding forward. Not my best food day. Was given a free Subway 12″ and had a 650ml craft beer, a Coors Light and a pint of Nat Bailey Lager at White Spot’s Pirate Pack Day. I’m still human damn it, I get to enjoy life a bit, I’m not aiming to look like Ravishing Rick Rude.

Aug 11 Day 17: jumped back into Diamond Cutter. Found myself doing better at the more difficult poses but that 10 count has become my white whale. Lost balance on the side planks when I got my foot of the ground and nearly squished Jake the cat. He loves doing yoga with me, an absolute master of SAFETY ZONE today he held it for 49 minutes today. He had to reset after I fell on him. 

Aug 12 Day 18: busy day and a sore body so I did the wonderful light stretch to limber up my hips and lower back which were the biggest sources of stiffness. Then RHC to get the real effort in. Light recovery day then finish strong on this phase. 

Aug 13 Day 19: Family BBQ tonight means a lot of chores. I decided to do Strength Builder before I did the lawn. By far the more difficult of the work outs I have tackled, the longer Diamond Cutter is not as strenuous. 

Aug 14 Day 20: Below the Belt (28m 46s) finishing this segment off targeting the lower body weak spots. I’m feeling good 20 days in and even though I am still sore it is the post work out happy kind of sore. 

Almost three weeks in to thus and I am loving it. Time to step up the game one last time..

Super-Heroes On Screen 101: DCCUs

Good morning class. Today we will be addressing the next major portion of the current super-hero film craze, the DC Comics screen multiverse. That’s a bit of a mouthful I know but to be honest I can’t explain it any better. DC Comics has often been over shadowed by Marvel but DC has the distinction of holding the two biggest cards in the game Superman and Batman. Before anyone starts hate tweeting me let’s just remember that Superman is the Adam of super powered characters and Batman is probably (I didn’t do the math) the highest grossing character in either company given all the TV, films and animated shows on top of his books and merchandise. The Bat has been the most consistent super hero character in main stream of pop culture since Batman: The Movie was released in 1966.

The DC cinematic universe (DCCU) is a new thing, so far we have only seen three chapters of a larger story, Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. A few weeks ago San Diego Comic Con was the stage for the release of the trailers for Wonder Woman and Justice League, while Justice League is a follow up to Batman vs Superman, Wonder Woman is a prequel origin story based around the revelation Bruce Wayne has in BvS.  There has been a tremendous amount of negative criticism towards the films so far, I for one think they are doing a great job, I know the source material they are using and while many many others are ranting about plot holes and off character scripting I will defend the choices made simply by saying we are THREE chapters in to a much longer book. Destruction of Metropolis a problem? Seemed to play well in to the collision of Batman and Superman as well as the natural fear of the unknown at play by the government and populous. Outraged at the sad conclusion to the fight in BvS? Waaaaaaait for it, there is a good reason they did what they did, check out the extended cut on blu-ray and a few more clues are revealed as to what is coming.

I’ve read opinions on casting of Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill and to be honest I was a massive detractor of Affleck in this role, however I think he did the best job possible and ranks higher on my list than most other portrayals of the Dark Knight. Grab a beer and lets discuss it if you are shocked, but bring hard evidence to back your claim. The Batman version here is based on is more along the lines of the one seen in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, older, wiser, more jaded. While this Superman is a younger version, less sure of himself, still finding his way in the life he leads and more grounded in the realities of being someone with his powers and conflicted by the human reaction to him, which I believe is dead on to what would actually happen if such a person were to pop up today. I didn’t even have a huge problem with Doomsday, given the more complex canon on his origin I think they did a good job and can see why they did everything they did with him. In short the pop culture expectation did not line up with what they got so like a child at dinner time they hate what’s being served without giving it a fair try. As for Suicide Squad I haven’t seen it, nor will I have time to before this goes up, so I will not comment on it yet.

So there you go the DCCU: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, Justice League (Batman, Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Wonder Woman). The masses seem to be off put by the darker tone of the DCCU, grittier, more grim and serious than the super hero faire offered by the Marvel Comics based films and frankly I think they are doing the right thing, differentiating themselves that way. A shared universe on film is only a logical step since fans would eventually ask for such a thing but to follow the Marvel pattern of interlaced humour and a brighter tone (in the films at least) would be a tragic mistake, the source matterial has held a different tone for half a century and so should the films. Turning on a MCU movie and a DCCU film should be readily apparent in the over all tone same as opening a comic book.

Hold on we aren’t done yet. There is also the DC television universe some times called Flarrowverse. The Flash, Arrow (see what they did there) Constantine, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. Same universe and doing very well for CW especially since CBS has passed Supergirl over to CW.  DC has not only separated worlds but has allowed multiple casting differences, The Flash and Superman in BvS are not the same actors as on TV nor do they inhabit the same world. DC’s comic universe was largely built around the concept of a multiverse (seen prominently on The Flash) it has baffled fans and continuity for decades. The one constant is that one of the pillars of the DC empire can travel between them and through time thanks to the source of his power, the speed force, The Flash. I don’t have an issue with this because I think it gives both universes the chance to collide in the future in some form of Crisis on Infinite Earths adaptation. Then there is Gotham, completely stand alone and unrelated, far more grounded than the CW shows, but that isn’t saying too much, Gotham is basically a cop show with some super bizarre criminals, don’t look for much cross over here BUT the multiverse concept says don’t write it off either. You may be wondering “Is this like how the X-Men and Avengers are separated in movies and TV?” No, because the film and television worlds use the same characters, in certain cases with different actors. DC seems to have all their licenses in hand to be able to spread out their characters like this, it could lead to something very cool or just a myriad of confused viewers only time will tell.

Before I leave you this week let me be clear that there are a lot of DC Comics films out there and many do not count towards the DCCU. The Batman series of the 80’s and 90’s, the recent Dark Knight Trilogy and the classic Superman films (is that a word?) as well as the more recent Return of Superman are all non-issues.  Let’s take a look at the previous efforts to bring the DC catalog to the screen. Superman and the Mole Men(1951), Batman (1966), Superman 1-4 (1978-1987),Swamp Thing (1982), Supergirl (1984), Return of Swamp Thing (1989), Batman (1989) Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995), Batman & Robin (1997), Steel (1997), Catwoman (2004), Constantine (2005), The Dark Knight Trilogy 2005-2012), Watchmen (2009), The Losers (2010), Jonah Hex (2010), Green Lantern (2011), Man of Steel (2013), Batman vs Superman (2016) and Suicide Squad (2016). Upcoming films: Wonder Woman (2017) Justice League (2017), The Flash (2018), Aquaman(2018), Shazam(2019), Justice League 2(2019), Cyborg (2020) Green Lantern Corps (2020). I bet there are a few stand outs there you didn’t know belonged to DC and as I wrote it I began to wonder what Rotten Tomatoes score would be for the combined total of the DC films would be. I feel that rabbit hole of geekdom calling me…be right back.

 

Super-Heroes On Screen 101: The MCU

Super-Heroes On Screen 101: The MCU

So last week I got into a discussion on my geek domains, while writing that I was giving a run down on the latest super-hero movies to a friend, these movies fit right into two of my geekiest pleasures; comics and movies. To me these movies are pretty strait forward but I have the advantage of knowing the source material or being interested enough to track it down while others just want to watch a movie. There is nothing wrong with either outlook and I don’t mind being asked for clarification. My friend suggested I do a YouTube series on them but frankly I’m not super comfortable with the idea of being on camera so instead I will write a series of “Coles Notes” articles to help untangle the web of confusion out there.

First off it will help to know that there are several comic publishers with film and TV rights out there being shot and aired. We’ll stay in the shallow end today and just run down the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). First thing to know is that the MCU is a shared universe which means the films, TV shows and characters all inhabit the same world and there is potential and precedence to see them cross paths with each other at any time.

Marvel has been getting films out there for decades but it wasn’t until 1998 that they scored a bona fide hit with Blade.Then X-Men hit theatres in 2000 and that franchise has been going strong for 16 years. 2008 saw the first Marvel Studios film and the beginning of the MCU as Iron Man hit screens. Before I get into that let’s run the list of Marvel Comics creations that have made it to silver screen and the first year they did. Howard the Duck (1986), The Punisher (1989), Captain America (1944), Blade (1998), X-Men (2000), Spider-Man (2002), Daredevil (2003), Hulk (2003), Elektra (2005), Fantastic Four (2005), Ghost Rider (2007), Iron Man (2008), Wolverine (2009), Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Ant-Man (2015), Deadpool (2016), Dr. Strange (2017), Black Panther (2018), Captain Marvel (2019). There are the films, this doesn’t account for every character in said films which I will explain later on, nor does it account for the various early television programs and made for TV movies.

Here’s the tricky part of the Marvel products; they aren’t ALL in the same shared world. Over the years fan demand for films caused Marvel to license out some of it’s main draws (no pun intended) Columbia Pictures/Sony Films acquired the rights for Ghost Rider and Spider-Man and the first five Spider-Man films are stand alone productions with the Sam Rammi trilogy being one part and the Amazing Spider-Man reboot pair being another. Here is the KEY PIECE OF SPIDEY INFORMATION: Marvel has partnered with Sony and Spider-Man is now in the MCU with the rest of the Avengers as we saw in Captain America: Civil War and the upcoming Spider-Man: Home Coming (I see what they did there) is in the shared world of the MCU. Ghost Rider rights have gone back to Marvel where Nick Cage can’t hurt them anymore.

20th Century Fox Pictures also acquired some characters; the X-Men and it’s related characters and The Fantastic Four. Here’s the easiest way to figure out if a film is in the X-Verse, does anyone say ‘mutant’ when referring to a super powered being? If ‘yes’ then it’s Marvel and NOT in the MCU. Deadpool, Wolverine and the X-Men movies are in their own unique world and it is not clear whether or not the Fantastic Four are a part of it or in their own world. Since the FF franchise has yet to make any sort of impact that isn’t a crash and burn I would say not and anticipate that family (including Silver Surfer) being returned to Marvel at some point. The twist here is that Fox and Marvel have cut a deal to work together on Legion for TV this fall. Legion is a mutant and (in the books) son of Charles Xavier. It remains to be seen whether this is the start of a more all encompassing partnership similar to the one involving Spider-Man. My current understanding is that Legion is NOT part of the MCU and IS a part of the X-Verse, however as the show has yet to air anything could still happen in the creation process.

The MCU: The Avengers, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy and also consists of some TV programming linked to the films; Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the NetFlix series Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Defenders. The major side characters of The Punisher, Elektra and Ghost Rider have all been rebooted for the MCU.

X-Verse: Deadpool, Wolverine, X-Men. I am unclear as to whether Legion will share the X-Verse but it would make sense. Fantastic Four? Silver Surfer? I am unclear there to but I would suggest that property family is in need of some serious work to make profitable and Silver Surfer would fit better in the MCU with a certain band of space faring misfits.

Films like Howard the Duck, Ghost Rider, Blade, Daredevil (Afleck not NetFlix) Elektra (again NOT the NetFlix version), Hulk (starring Eric Bana) and all three Punisher films all seem to have been excluded from he MCU at this time due to licensing and quite frankly jaw dropping amount of errors, poor choices and lack luster results.Hulk, Daredevil, Elektra and The Punisher have all found their place in the MCU as we know it and Ghost Rider will make his entrance this fall on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Keep calm GR fans this is the muscle car version not the badass motorcycle versions, I have very little knowledge on this version of the Rider but am a huge fan of the previous incarnations.

That may be a lot on information to digest and you may have a question on other things not yet mentioned feel free to drop a message on The Matt Harding Blog FB page and I will try to clarify to the best of my fan knowledge. As for the older television shows, the various animated series and animated movies, they may be fun and nostalgic but the bottom line is that they bear no relevance to the current box office juggernaut that is the MCU aside from some jokes on screen. Next week I will take a look at the DC comics films and how they fit together with each other and the TV series that are on going. Until next week…Face front true believer.