Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"The Man of Steel"-Modern Mythmaking at its Finest

  I have been writing this blog intermittently for the last 8 years or so. In that time, those of you who have read prior posts have likely clued in on the fact that I am an unabashed comics fan. Admittedly, I am more of a DC Comics fan than a Marvel comics fan, but I enjoy both. During this recent superhero film renaissance, I have enjoyed watching the characters I love come to life in ways that, due to the advent of increasingly sophisticated CG special effects technologies, actually resemble the adventures I grew up reading and cherishing. From the release of Spider-Man on through the release of the Man of Steel, I have appreciated Hollywood finally taking notice of these comic worlds, changing little about the stories in order to bring them to the screen. This was a far cry from the early days, when producers would simply option characters and then change them to the point where the characters were almost unrecognizable. Of course, sprinkled in among the wonders, there have been duds ("Daredevil", the "Ghost Rider" films, Ang Lee's "Hulk" and, at least in my opinion, "The Dark Knight Rises"), but for the most part, I have loved these films.
   Of all of the heroes, however, none has had as vexing a cinematic history as Superman, the Man of Steel. This is something I have long lamented. From a very young age, I held Superman up as my favorite superhero. I collected the memorabilia and action figures, carefully keeping and cataloging them and eagerly anticipating the new items. I read all of the comics and graphic novels featuring the character and reveled in the revised origin stories penned by John Byrne, Mark Waid, and Geoff Johns. I appreciated how the characters kept Superman relevant even as the times were changing. I even remember how, even as the world grew darker, Superman's mission remained the same. Even as the comic book world was headed towards one in which the actions of heroes could often be mistaken for those of villains. However, even as Superman's origin and stories were updated, he remained a symbol of hope in a world when comics (and real life itself) were apparently growing darker and more jaded. With this state of affairs, could a filmmaker create a relevant Superman film? Should they even try?
     For many years, Richard Donner's original Superman film was held up as a template for "how to do a superhero-and a Superman-film properly. In interviews, Donner has gone on record as saying that he exhorted his crew with the phrase "verisimilitude", a reverence for the source material and the character itself. In my opinion, Donner succeeded up until the point when we, the audience, meet Otis and the cinematic Lex Luthor, both comically portrayed by Ned Beatty and Gene Hackman, respectively. After that, the film rapidly went downhill. From Margot Kidder's woeful miscasting and unattractive performance as Lois Lane on to the characterization of Lex Luthor as a humorous land grabbing capitalist with a not-too-serious dark side, the film only succeeded in one thing-its portrayal of Superman/Clark Kent, both masterfully played by Christopher Reeve. More than anything, Reeve was the perfect embodiment of Superman-to the point that, as time went on, critics and audiences alike allowed the passage of time to cause the perfect portrayal of Superman to envelope the entire film itself, spackling over the numerous gaping flaws in the story and character portrayals. Critics embraced this film as the way that superhero films should be done while ignoring the obvious-while this may be true of how the characters should be portrayed, this was not the proper way to celebrate modern myth. This myopic and misguided view of Donner's "Superman" served to handcuff Bryan Singer as he went on to make "Superman Returns", a film that repeated all of the past mistakes of the Donner-era Superman films while ruining the character of Superman himself, portraying him as an absentee father and a hero who turned his back on his adopted homeworld in favor of some nebulous quest to return to a planet that he knew to be destroyed. For more of my thoughts on the misfire that was "Superman Returns", you can read my review here.
   After the failure that was "Superman Returns", Warners, thankfully, went back to the drawing board. At the time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had yet to be established, and it was years before "The Dark Knight" would fill Warners' coffers to the tune of $1 billion. Warners knew that, in the absence of any new franchises and the end of Harry Potter, it needed to get a better handle on its superhero franchises. Having misfired with "Green Lantern", Warners looked to their superhero A-team, securing Christopher Nolan and David Goyer to write and produce a new "Superman" film. Like "Batman Begins" before it, this new film was to disregard prior cinematic interpretations of Superman and reboot the series. Unlike "Batman Begins", however, Warners faced potential backlash by those who held the Donner film above all other Superman interpretations. At least this onus was not on Nolan and Goyer when they made "Batman  Begins", as, in the hands of filmmaker Joel Schumacher and writer Akiva Goldsman, the adventures of Batman had rapidly deteriorated into candy colored cartoon spoofs with a not-so-subtle homoerotic subtext which, also, completely ignored and mocked the attributes that made the character so great. With "Batman Begins", Nolan and Goyer went back to the source material, pulling material from "Batman: the Man Who Falls", "Batman: the Dark Knight Returns", and "Batman: the Long Halloween." Obviously, Superman fans could rest assured that at the very least, the film's creators would pay deference to the established stories for the characters.
   As the production worked its way through the production process, I was cautiously optimistic. And then the first trailer...and the second trailer...hit. Neither trailer seemed to be films about Superman but instead small art films about childhood struggles in the Midwest. At that point, I grew worried. What the heck were Nolan, Goyer, and Zack Snyder doing to my favorite comics character? What was with this weird music that seemed more at home in "Gladiator"? Was THIS what they expected to take the place of John Williams' iconic "Superman March"? Were the filmmakers no better than the Salkinds/Pierre Spengler? As much as I loved Superman, it was hard for me to get excited for the film. As 2012 turned into 2013, I had resigned myself to further disappointment regarding Superman in film. At least I had "Iron Man 3", "Star Trek: Into Darkness", and "Furious 6" to look forward to. And then, on April 16, 2013-that all changed.
   The final trailer for "Man of Steel" was released on April 16, and with it my expectations started to rise. The trailer had so much incredible iconic imagery and dialogue (some of which was taken directly from the comics), and that, by itself, would have been enough for me. However, when I listened to the portion of Hans Zimmer's score that was included within the trailer, it was enough to make me forget about John Williams' score. In one short piece of music, Zimmer's music seemed to spell out the idea of hope and soared like a flying hero. "Man of Steel' quickly became the film that I wanted to see the most this summer. I watched the trailer at least once a day and waited for the June 11 release of the soundtrack. I also purchased tickets to see the film on opening weekend. I saw it this past Saturday.
    In the lead up to watching the film, I had the misfortune to read a lot of negative reviews about the film. I was struck most often by the fact that the majority of the negative reviews came from reviewers who harped on the portrayal and story seemingly for no other reason than they were not the same as Donner's film. It was almost as if the reviewers felt that praising this film would mean denigrating another film that  is almost 40 years old. The best reviews reviewed the film as if it existed within a vacuum, focusing on what made the film work and lavishing praise on the filmmakers' choices for the story (Krypton, Smallville flashbacks, Zod conflict). I was dismayed, however, when what I termed the "old guy" reviews pushed the Rotten Tomato rating for the film down to the "rotten" territory. I held out hope merely because the positive reviews were coming in from reviewers whose opinions I valued. Moreover, the negative reviews seemed to harp on story points which they claim were not from the Superman mythos; however, they could not be more incorrect. One glaring example can be found in the Variety review, where the reviewer mocks the disclosure of the "S" symbol as being the Kryptonian symbol for "hope." This was introduced in the comics some time ago, yet the reviewer classified this piece of story as new to Superman. I chose to ignore the "warnings" of such reviewers.
  By the title of this post, you can see that I loved the film. From the opening 1/3 of the film on Krypton until the end of the film, with Clark donning his now iconic glasses, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Goyer successfully took portions of some of the best Superman stories of the past 30 years and crafted something wholly unique and of this time. Far from the naivete shown by the citizens of the Donner film, Goyer actually contemplated what it would mean if Superman were unleashed on the world in 2013. Would we as a species trust him or not? What would this mean to our own long held religious beliefs?  Would Superman be treated as a pariah or a savior? How would the Kents advise their son if raising him in today's world? The aspects of Krypton also bear mentioning here-far from the crystalline aseptic nature of the Donner film, here Krypton is an alien planet seemingly lifted from the pages of Superman's 1950s adventures.
   Another intriguing and satisfying aspect of the film was the use of flashback to tell the story of Clark's formative years with the Kents. Not only did this approach allow Snyder to propel the story forward with high efficiency, but it also opened up the possibility of more of Clark's backstory being used in future films. Far from the linear classic telling of the Superman story, this version touched upon the various keystone moments that were important for THIS telling of the tale: 1) Clark learning how to control his powers; 2) Clark learning to keep his powers secret and the reasons for this; 3) the death of Jonathan Kent; and 4) a poignant coda that showed that Clark, from a very young age, had a subconscious realization of his ultimate destiny, one that his father realized as well though he did not live long enough to witness it.
     Other than Snyder's overuse of the handheld camera, I felt that the action sequences were kinetic in a way that had, to date, been unseen in modern superhero films. The Marvel films seems small in scope in comparison to the action and mayhem that we are treated to in the Man of Steel. Of course, one obvious plot point conveniently ignored by the filmmakers was the collateral casualties that would be inflicted upon the urban populations that served as staging grounds for Superman's battles with the other Kryptonians. Other than this (and the filmmakers' choice to have Clark execute Zod-something that is antithetical to the character), I had no major beefs with the story. I suppose I would have liked to see more "guy on the street" responses to the fact that the planet was being invaded by aliens and that one of these aliens had been living among us undetected for years-having already practiced deceit for 33 years, why is Superman trustworthy now? Is it because he defeated the Kryptonians? That does not fly (pun intended), because he was the one who brought  them here in the first place. Without his activation of the beacon, they would never have come to Earth (therefore, all of the death and destruction caused by the Kryptonians can squarely be laid at the doorstep of Superman). Would we, as a society, really embrace Superman as a savior or view him as something akin to Zod? I also did not buy Clark's exchange with Jonathan when he says "You aren't really my father." A consistent theme in the comics, even as Clark was looking for his origins, has been that he considers the Kents his parents without question. They were his anchor to his humanity, and he has never questioned that. I realize that the dialogue was intended to imbue a sense of regret within Clark for what subsequently happens to Jonathan, but in that case, one would think that Clark would stay closer to his widowed mother rather than go off gallivanting around the world leaving her to her own devices. If the filmmakers had left Jonathan alive, that would have been a better story choice.
   I loved the changes to the character of Lois Lane and do not understand the criticisms surrounding her knowledge of Clark's secret identity. Lois is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist in the comics and extremely intelligent to boot. Why would she not be able to track Clark down? I loved that she uncovered-and keeps-his secret. One of the many themes of the film is the sense of loneliness that Clark feels-an inability to share his powers with the world. Lois gave him the chance to do just that and also gave him an ally when functioning as his secret identity of Clark Kent. That was a nice change in the mythos.
   I could go on about what I loved about the movie, but in the end, I felt that this was the right Superman movie for the times. With so much information being thrown at me in the film, I want the opportunity to revisit it at my leisure and more fully explore and contemplate some of the numerous themes that Goyer interwove into the classic tale. From the glimpses of Lex Corp signage in the film, I am excited for the possibility of seeing Lex Luthor brought to the screen properly and not in the campy Hackman/Spacey way. Though I had some issues with various plot points and story choices, these issues do not diminish my appreciation of the film. Finally, I have seen a "real" Superman film...and I liked it!

Friday, May 17, 2013

"Iron Man 3"...eh...

As many followers of this blog are aware, I love to write reviews for big summer movies (and also some smaller ones, to be sure). The summer movie season of 2013 kicked off this past weekend with Disney/Marvel/Paramount's "Iron Man 3" (disclaimer-I am a Disney stockholder-though that might not matter when you have read what I have to say). "Iron Man 3" is the first of what Disney has termed the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 2 (Phase 1 having consisted of "Iron Man", "The Incredible Hulk", "Iron Man 2", "Thor", "Captain America: The First Avenger", and "the Avengers"). I enjoyed each of the prior films, including the much maligned "Iron Man 2"; however I was greatly disappointed with "Iron Man 3." Please read no further if you have yet to see the movie and abhor spoilers.

1.  The Mandarin:  The "big reveal" in this film is the fact that the character of the Mandarin (played by Ben Kingsley), the "evil genius" counterpoint to Tony Stark's Iron Man, is an actor hired to play the part in order to hide the identity of the real villain of the piece, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). In explaining the reasoning behind this fundamental change to Iron Man's longtime comic book nemesis, Direct Shane Black and Marvel Films head Kevin Feige went on record stating that the character, as originally conceived in the comics, was a relic of the cold war and was a cartoonish and offensive representation of a moustache-twirling Chinese villain, the ultimate Communist counterpoint to Tony Stark's capitalist Iron Man. However, I call laziness! As a fan of comics, nothing irritates me more (when watching a comic book-based film) when a filmmaker decides to make wholesale changes to characters under the guise of "this is better" or "this will not work with audiences." If that is the case, then why use the comic book as a basis for anything? Why not create your own intellectual property instead of a bastardized version of someone else's? The truth behind the filmmaker's decision to make the Mandarin a buffoon of an actor really lies in Disney's desire to avoid antagonizing the Chinese, who have one of the most lucrative (yet tightly controlled) film distribution businesses in the world. Look no further than how Disney kowtowed to the Chinese by shooting specific "Iron Man 3" scenes catered to the Chinese audience which can ONLY be seen on Chinese screens. There is also a gaping plot hole regarding this little plot device. In one of the "Mandarin's" televised appearances, he shoots a man in the head on live television-however later, when Stark confronts the actor playing the Mandarin, he insists that he is an actor with the belief that no harm really came to anyone (nevermind the news bulletins of mass murder caused by the Mandarin's organization). Stark takes this at face value, but THE FACT THAT THIS ACTOR KILLED SOMEONE IN COLD BLOOD ON TV IS NEVER ADDRESSED! An easy plot fix for this character, if Marvel really wished to avoid offending the Chinese, would be to make the Mandarin a militant born out of Tibet, whose hard upbringing during the time of Chairman Mao caused him to lash out against the world (with a special hatred for the Chinese) as revenge for all of the pain they had caused him. It would make sense, then, for the Mandarin to team up with Aldrich Killian, an arms dealer, to wreak havoc on the world. this would have been a great opportunity to also introduce a Chinese hero to work with Iron Man to take down this combined threat-working together for the good of all. I really did miss my calling...is it too late for me to become a screenwriter?

2.  Maya Hansen: This is the woman who created Extremis and started working for Killian in the belief that he would be able to help her research reach its maximum potential. The sequence of events is: 1) Hansen and Stark sleep together one New Year's Eve, and Stark leaves an equation by her bed that helps her research; 2) Hansen joins AIM (Killian's group); 3) 14 years go by, during which time the Mandarin threat makes itself known; 4) Hansen kidnaps Pepper in an attempt to kidnap Stark so that he can continue to help her; 5) a 5 minute conversation with Stark is all that is needed to turn her to the side of the good guys and 6) Killian shoots and kills Hansen immediately thereafter. Her storyline MAKES NO SENSE. In the real world, Hansen would have used Stark's equation and applied for a grant/research position with Stark International. She would not have allowed 14 years to go by in following up on the equation. And, if she had spent 14 years working on something she believed in, a 5 minute conversation would not have been enough to "turn her good." This was ridiculous.

3.  the Iron Man armor: Call me crazy, but when I watch a film called "Iron Man", I should be able to expect sequences when Tony Stark as Iron Man is kicking villainous ass with the latest and greatest technology. What I do NOT expect to see is: 1) action sequences when the armor is being remote controlled by Stark; 2) armor sequences where there are no special abilities of the armor highlighted; 3) at least ONE sequence when the armor actually functions as it should. Let's look at the remote controlled aspect. One of the big action sequences of the film is a midair rescue of a lot of civilians in free fall from Air Force One. Stark REMOTELY CONTROLS the armor during this time. I do not buy this. For one, Stark's armor of choice is his glitchy Mark 42 armor. Secondly, as anyone with even a  FUNDAMENTAL KNOWLEDGE of how remote controls work, the possibility of interference of the signal controlling a remote controlled piece of machinery is exceedingly high. Did the filmmakers actually believe that Stark would take such a chance that something like a solar flare would NOT interfere with his control of the armor. Not to mention the fact that Stark was STILL EXPERIMENTING with his remote control set up-so you trust THAT TECHNOLOGY-that has already been shown to be glitchy-with the lives of over a dozen people. No-I call BS. The armors in this film also had all of the character of a battering ram. There were no special attributes on display at all-no cool lasers, no beams-I am still waiting for a sequence where Stark fires a repulsor beam from his chest plate-something that was front and center in the comics. Also-the fact that Tony had all of that armor within easy reach while he was lost in the middle of nowhere strikes me as a bit odd, Are you telling me that when he was waiting for his Mark 42 armor to recharge, a supergenius such as himself could not have figured out a way to bring one of his other 41 suits of armor to his location? Really? Please...and would it be too much to ask for ONE Iron Man film where the climactic fight is NOT held at night? A daytime fight, with sunlight dancing off of the armor, would be so cool...why does each film end with a night fight?

4.  Extremis/Aldrich Killian: OK-I get that Killian is supposed to be the dark side of Tony and that AIM is what Stark International might have been had Tony never been captured in Afghanistan. However, why combine the villain with Extremis? In the comics, the Extremis technology allows Stark to store a lot of his armor within his body and call it out when necessary-very cool biotech. Here, it allows the villain to breathe fire. What? Why even give Killian superpowers at all? Why not have the fights focus on the Mandarin and Iron Man, and have Killian get away at the end of the movie (as most wealthy villains do in real life)?

There are many other aspects of the film that irritated me (Rhodey's character, Pepper Potts, the tacked on epilogue that had Tony curing himself and then tossing a dangerous weapon (his personal arc reactor) into the water), but these are the big points. As someone who loved the film "The Avengers", I was really curious to see where the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe would take me. So far, I am unimpressed (though they did get the CHARACTER of Tony Stark correct...at least there is that...).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

In Defense of "Sons of Anarchy"

     I have always had a fascination with organized crime and organized criminal elements. This fascination extends to everything from the Five Families of New York (Bonnano, Gambino, Lucchese, Colombo, and Genovese), the DeCavalcante Family of New Jersey (upon which the Soprano family was very loosely based), the Chicago Outfit, criminal gangs such as the Crips and Bloods, and prison gangs such as the Black Guerrilla Army, Aryan Brotherhood, and Mexican Mafia (or La Eme, whose story is recounted in Edward James Olmos's film "American Me" and was the basis for Taylor Hackford's film "Blood In, Blood Out" aka "Bound By Honor"). I have especially been interested in OMCs-outlaw motorcycle clubs. The histories of these clubs are very similar-most founding members were veterans returning from conflict looking to recreate the same sort of camaraderie that they enjoyed during deployment. The Hells' Angels, for example, were founded by WWII veterans in California. Numerous other OMCs were founded by Korean and Vietnam War veterans. OMC members also identify themselves proudly as "one percenters", a designation that supposedly arose from a quote by a member of the American Motorcycle Association in the 1950s, who stated that "99% of all motorcycle riders are law abiding citizens." This, of course, implies that the other one percent were outlaws. OMCs are extremely well organized, with hierarchies that exist on the local, state, national, and international levels. Most OMCs have officers that sound similar to those that might be found in any Rotary, Jaycee, or VFW club, with a president, vice-president, and sergeant-at-arms. Most OMCs are also highly organized criminal enterprises that specialize in the illegal distribution of both guns and drugs on a massive scale.
     In spite of this fascinating (at least in my mind) criminal architecture, few works outside of some older films and B movies (anyone remember the films "Stone Cold" starring Brian Bosworth?), prior to 2008, I cannot recall a television show or film that treats the OMC life as serious subject matter. That all changed with the broadcast of the first episode of creator Kurt Sutter's "Sons of Anarchy." Sutter had served as a writer for the critically acclaimed F/X series, "The Shield" and wrote some of that series most memorable episodes. In preparation for "Sons of Anarchy", Sutter spent a year with a real OMC studying the lifestyle and learning more about the motivations of the members (and, no doubt, soaking in the unique culture that is the OMC life). Sutter's genius was melding the organized crime aspects of "The Sopranos"-complete with memorable characters and stellar actors-with the Shakespearean drama of Hamlet, complete with characters who could easily be identified as their Hamlet counterparts. Charlie Hunnam was cast as Jackson "Jax" Teller (Prince Hamlet), Vice-President of the mother chapter (Redwood Original) of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, or SAMCRO. The SOA had been founded by his father, John Teller (King Hamlet), and his father's best friend, Piney Winston, upon their return from Vietnam, where they had served as paratroopers. Piney and John spent their time upon their return cruising through Northern California, eventually settling in the town of Charming, the hometown of John's wife and Jax's mother, Gemma (Queen Gertrude-played by Katey Sagal, who is also Kurt Sutter's wife in real life). Shortly after John's death in a motorcycle accident when Jax was only 11 years old, Gemma started dating and married Clay Morrow (Claudius-played by Ron Perelman), who was not only a founding member of SAMCRO but also John Teller's best friend. Clay rose to be president of SAMCRO and raised Jax as his own son after his father died. SAMCRO makes its money through the illegal sale of firearms, obtained through its Belfast, N.I. chapter (SAMBEL) to the gangs of California, including the One-Niners (a major gang from "The Shield"). SAMCRO's relationship with Charming is uneasy-many residents feel that the club's presence keeps the town safe from harm, as they ward off evil doers while conducting their illicit affairs well outside the city borders. However, throughout the series, SAMCRO's acts come back to Charming, and everyone has to pay.
     The underlying thrust of the series concerns Jax's struggle with his role in the club, his life as a single father, his issues with his mother, and the ghost of his father in the shape of a manuscript written by John Teller and left behind for Jax to find, outlining his vision for SAMCRO-a vision that is distinct from that embraced by his stepfather, the current club president. That is all one really has to know before watching the series. I find it compelling, and it has quickly become one of my favorite series. Sutter has created an immersive world in which the viewer can easily empathize with the challenges faced by the club (at least on the family side of things). Additionally, the show provides enough action and drama to satisfy fans of BOTH of those genres. To be sure, this is a series that is well suited for cable-the language and violence of the series alone would dictate that. It has become F/X's most successful and most watched series ever. However...
    When I tried to speak about it to others, however, people in my circle of friends seemed to be disinterested. I was surprised-I mean, who wouldn't be fascinated by this underworld of dark knights riding on their Harleys-antiheroes who are sympathetic one moment and viciously violent the next? I soon realized that the OMC world is something that not everyone is familiar with or even comfortable with. The OMC life appears to be a far cry from the "old world" charms of a Mafia family or the family-based drama of Compton street gangs. I find myself defending my love of the series to many people. Granted, as with any series, there are some downturns in story quality from episode to episode or season to season. However, on the whole, I put the series, the characters, and the storyline above most of anything else currently on television (with the exceptions of "Justified" and "Breaking Bad"). If you not yet experienced SOA, I highly recommend it (the first 4 seasons are available via Netflix's streaming service-in HD no less!).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

7 more days on this phase...

and I am down 32 pounds.




My clothes are baggy...I am beyond the last notch on my belt and need to consider getting another one. My shorts sag below my butt to the point where I look like some sort of weird Indian gangsta rapper (somehow, those three words just look ridiculous next to one another). The most important thing is that I am still not hungry! I have my morning tea and eat my meager lunch and dinner without feeling hungry. Last night, it was 7 PM before I finally forced myself to get up and make my dinner (and this is on 700 calories per day). Next Friday, I will celebrate my first day of dietary freedom by dining at Girl and a Goat, but I think that I will still have food components on the mind. At least I will be able to eat 2000 calories, but this once in a lifetime reboot of my metabolism will likely have me tentative in terms of what I choose to eat.

The one thing I have not considered is the expense of new clothes (ok, now I am being snarky). But you have to understand-all of the weight gain happened between law school and now. None of my suits fit at...all. As for alterations to make them fit, they would still be too baggy for me to wear. I need new clothes.

OK-the last 7 days should be easy. I'll report the final weight loss amount in 7 days.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The First 10 Days are HIstory, so what result?

So the first 10 days are down, and so am I. According to the bathroom scale, I am down 11 pounds. I really am losing about a pound a day, and i am doing it the right way (reduced fat and carb meals and very careful attention to my total daily calories). I think that the idea of rebooting my metabolism at my age is intriguing. I mean, science tells us that once you cross your early twenties, your metabolism starts an irreversible slide wherein your system is less adept at burning off food. Most things automatically go into long term storage. It is almost as if our bodies replicate the way most of us live life. You know-early on, we have nothing. We gradually acquire things and slow down as we get more and more content. Similarly, our metabolism in our youth is easy able to process food correctly provided that the right type of fuel is being fed into the system. As we get older, however, things just seem to...stick around...unless we go through the effort to burn it off. I think that I also just needed a reset button. After 5 years of eating poorly and putting off my own reset until "tomorrow", I woke up one day and decided that enough was enough. I hoped that I could just flip a virtual switch and turn on my will power, but having a real eating plan made all of the difference. I know what I need to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. I have my fridge stocked with so many choices for my meals that I never find myself merely grabbing a bag of chips or ordering out for a pizza.

The hardest adjustment has been going out with my friends. I never realized how much I used to eat and drink before! The ones I have told have been extremely supportive of my efforts and proud of the fact that I am sticking with it. At the same time, I think back to all of the social events I attend-almost every one of them revolve around drink and/or food. I am also a foodie and love fine dining. These things, when coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, have played havok with my physique. One of the more humorous side effects is the amount of money I have been saving by not going out and eating and drinking.

I still have 30 days to go, but if I can still continue creating new and interesting meals, these days should fly by. Last night, I had a sea salt and pepper crusted sea bass fillet that was amazing. I can't wait for dinner tonight.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back Again...and Something to Blog About

You know, when I was younger, this whole exercise/weight loss thing was a lot easier. I used to eat what I wanted and never really gain a significant amount of weight. When I was studying for my doctorate, I had a lot of time in between experiments and spent a lot of that time in the gym. It got to the point where I was working out so much and watching my diet with so much attention that I was able to compete (and place) in some natural bodybuilding competitions. The constant maintenance, however, was too much for me. Over the 12 years since that time, I have literally ballooned in weight. It really did creep up on me. I can trace it back to when I had a job that was heavy on travel. Instead of doing my hour or so in a hotel gym and eating carefully, I reverted to bad food habits (getting fast food to go and then eating in my hotel room in front of the TV). When I started law school, I found all sorts of excuses not to work out (class, studying, meetings, etc.) and also, all sorts of excuses to indulge in the law school diet of fatty foods. Things did not get any easier once I started my job, for now I was sedentary for 10 hours a day. My only real exercise was getting up to get lunch!

About 2 months ago, my financial advisor turned me on to a weight loss program that he said was perfect to jump start my system. No, this is not a commercial for that program. In fact, I am going to keep the name of the program secret for the next 35 days. My blog will be an account of my journey on this program. Once day, I want to look back and read about this (hopefully 30 lbs lighter!). Come along for the ride if you like.

I started the program on June 19th. I have been very strict and not cheated at all during these first 6 days. The wonderful thing is that, though I am restricted to 600 calories a day, I am not feeling hungry. The hunger pains were always my major limitation, and when they used to arrive, I would shovel in anything that would make them go away. I haven't missed the sugar and fat that I have given up, and I am thankful that this diet is also serving to reboot my system by detoxing my poor organs. My new scale arrives today, and I am kinda nervous. I really should have weighed myself before the start of the diet, but oh well. Now I look forward to seeing the daily changes. I'll start to report daily weight loss (or lack thereof) as it happens.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The End

When I started this blog 4 years ago, it was intended to update friends and family on the details of my life as a law student. As time went on, the blog adapted, becoming part movie geek/nerd site and part storytelling site recounting my various adventures around Chicago. As time has progressed, I have suffered a certain loss of anonymity. I did not mind it, as most of the people who read my blog were friends of mine. At the same time, this lack of anonymity has kept me from sometimes opening up about my innermost thoughts and feelings.

During the last month, I have been absent from the blogsphere as I dealt with life as an attorney, a civil litigator in the field of intellectual property law. As my free time reduced itself by leaps and bounds, I noticed that I had to give up many of the things that I enjoy (some tv, video games, etc). At the same time, I realized that the blog could not serve its purpose as a web diary, for there were numerous times where I found myself editing my content for fear of hurting the people who might be reading. The problem, then, was that I was not being honest with myself, and I am a person who values trust over all else. Remember: "to thine own self be true."

I have a new blog site for myself. It is open to all (if you can find it), but I intend to keep this one a secret. I still will welcome anonymous feedback, but this is something I need to do for myself.

The funny thing is that I had written a very long and detailed account of my week at San Diego's ComicCon International show, but sometimes things pop in one's personal life that make one reflect on the bigger picture. I need to focus on that picture and get some of my thoughts recorded in anonymity. I started today, and it has been quite cathartic. I have a long way to go, however.

So thank you, dear readers, for keeping up with me. You were the reason I persevered. Maybe you will find me again.

In the meantime, read The Namby Pamby.


the Artful Blogger