Friday, December 21, 2007

It's all in the details ...

"… And that was what Aragorn had done. He had left the City like a thief in the night - only two people had seen him go - Boromir and Faramir of the Citadel. He had kissed them farewell, and, to his never-ending shock, Faramir, Faramir the shy, reserved, silent little boy kissed him on the cheek, and said softly, “I’ll miss you!”

He had never been able to forget that, nor Boromir's childish salute. That young man in Harad - he knew it was Faramir. Only once had he gotten cleanly away from the homestead, had he looked at the pendant. A swan for Dol Amroth, and a Tree for the Citadel, and his heart had frozen.

For there were only two children in all of Middle-Earth with that lineage - one was safely home, and the other thought dead."

-- From "I Vow to Thee, My Country"

Some LOTR fan fiction is incredible - other stuff you have to wonder how the author was able to string two sentences together. The quote above is from the former category. I had found this story on WarOfTheRing.Net and I was amazed at this AU ("alternate universe") story of Faramir, Boromir, Denethor and Aragorn. In this story, Denethor is not the unmitigated bastard he is in the movie adaptations nor in the Tolkien books.

I was fascinated by the description of the medallion. This was the type of thing that would really top off (in my estimation) my Faramir outfit, even if I was the only one who knew I was wearing it.

FYI - I wrote this post in April - the same time I received the medallions. Since I asked Russ to make two of them - one for me and one as a Christmas gift - I had to wait until December to actually post this so I wouldn't give the surprise away. How's that for patience?

I gave Russ a call. This man is AMAZING. He absolutely thrives on challenges. For those of you finding this blog for the first time, Russ Sharek made me a Kyle Rayner version of a Green Lantern Ring.

I found the images I wanted to use on the medallion and told him I needed the thing to look old. Really old. Third Age of Middle-Earth old.

I got the medallions today. I was speechless. I mean it. Seeing the designs as an illustration was one thing, seeing them in the actual medallion was another. Looking at it, feeling it, holding it, wearing it - I could actually imagine this was one of the only two medallions ever made as such in Middle Earth. The patina of age and the less than absolutely perfect-ness only solidified the suspension of disbelief when I put it on.

And wearing it every day under my regular shirt is a pleasure in itself. The leather cording has darkened a bit which only adds to the authenticity of the piece.

A very telling incident happened during June. I was wearing the medallion under my shirt (as usual) and it happened to slip out while I was over at a friend's house checking out his new gargantuan plasma TV. We were watching Return of the King on DVD (yes, my friend and his wife are Tolkien geeks also - and what better way to "break in" the set???) and I was treated to a rush of indrawn breath from my friend's wife and a "Holy crap!" from him. (This was also on top of the comments made regarding Halfdan's Ring of Barahir) They couldn't believe how incredibly made and how amazingly authentic the medallion was. Russ deserves heaps upon heaps of kudos for making this idea a reality.

What do you think?

Even more to the point, how do you think the person who is getting the Christmas gift is going to respond?

It really is better to give than receive!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lonely Echoes ...

Hey folks,

I know that you're reading the blog and I'm more than happy to continue documenting all the adventures I'm having ...

How about a little feedback?

You don't have to leave your name, but
please start leaving comments!

Mae Govannen!


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Preparing For Glory .... Part I: The Helmet

I got an email from JJ last night - my helmet is DONE!

I didn't get the Leonidas helmet since I'm not of royal blood ... (ducal, but not royal). Then again, I don't think the ancient Spartans had as big a noble hierarchy - king, queen, prince, princess and everyone else.

Being the masochist I am, I had told JJ to hold all the Spartiate items until he was done (helmet, greaves, sandals, and bracers) and then send them in one fell swoop. Depending on when the items are actually done and shipped, the pictures I could take are going to have to be indoor shots - it's gotten a bit too cold for outside shots. The shield itself is on another time track - along with the Boromir shield. I just wish I could give JJ the credit he deserves for making this stuff - he is a true artisan!!

Here are the shots - AMAZING!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Ethan Hawke? Me?

I did it. The cat's finally out of the bag. You're going to see my face. By some fortuitous turn of events, I was off this Halloween from work and also had plans to attend a rather expensive party that night and another on Saturday. I decided to go as Boromir in my full LOTR regalia. I didn't know if there was going to be any photographers present and I decided "What the hell. Let me take some pictures beforehand."

I must say, they were amazing. I think what really nailed it was the wig and facial hair. I'm not the tow-headed Sean Bean, but nevertheless, there was no doubt that I was the Captain of the White Tower. It blended in perfectly. I've posted a few on a Yahoo group and brought some into work. As I had said in my last entry, I've been getting compliments all of a sudden. I seem to be in a classic psychological feedback loop - the more compliments I get, the umm ... "friskier" I feel and act, which encourages more compliments, and so on. The responses to these pictures were definitely more emphatic:

  • "Damn, is that YOU?"
  • "You look so HOT in that outfit?"
  • "I love a sexy man in armor!"
  • "Do you know how f***ing sexy you are?"

I had one person tell me, "You look just like Ethan Hawke!" - that was a new one. I never thought of myself as movie-star handsome, but obviously I do bear a more than passing resemblance to the actor.

Here is a side-by-side:

and here are some shots of the two costumes:

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Out of the Carbonite!!!

After a somewhat slow period as far as my personal projects go, everything seems to be popping!!

The good news!

  • There's only one more commission that JJ is working on before he gets to all of my stuff - Ranger sword, Faramir sword, Spartan armor and shields.

  • Russ completed the Spartan "Mede-killer" pendant which I now have in my hands - it's definitely unsettling, to say the least. Just something a bloodthirsty Greek warrior would wear!

  • David finished remaking the Spartan falcata scabbard. Instead of the cheap, Chinese leather (that probably had excessive lead in it too!) I have a beautiful antiqued brown leather covering for the close-combat weapon! Also, he put on a nicely primitive bronze clutch buckle instead of the stainless steel buckle with varnish that came with the original scabbard.

  • I received the Spartan spear from Strongblade - very nice! Well put together, well balanced and frighteningly authentic at over 7 feet long. The spear is composed of two halves that screw together - a steel/iron leaf-shaped main blade and a sharp bronze butt spike:


You may be wondering about the title of the post - I promised Andrea that I would take pictures of the entire Han Solo outfit once I got all the pieces together. And I have been jokingly referred to as the "Headless Horseman of the blogosphere" in some quarters - mainly because pictures of myself stop at the neck. I'm finally showing a bit more of myself and above the neck, too!

Just recently (and by multiple people, yet!), I've been told that I'm a very handsome, extremely sexy-looking man and that I have beautiful azure eyes - "just like the waters off the Cote D'Azur." Damn ... flattery will get you everywhere ... I guess my Cappie powers are on the rise again - I'm getting more copper-red strands in my hair (versus white or grey) and in the right light, my eyes do appear to have a blue-purple hue instead of the normal deep blue-green ...

Seriously, though -- I'm just very picky about displaying my likeness online in these days of Facebook and MySpace abuse by employers. So, after setting up the tripod and camera today, here's a sample of the photo session. Everything felt GREAT! Andrea performs her magic again!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bollywood Redux !

I've got to hand it to Rakesh Roshan - these movies keep getting better and better. As I mentioned before, Krrish (the follow up to Koi Mil Gaya) is a big-budget action adventure romance. This mega-production has pieces from:

  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • House of Flying Daggers
  • Tomorrow Never Dies
  • The Forbin Project
  • Dr. No
  • Batman
  • Superman 3
  • On The Town
  • The Devil's Advocate
  • Titan AE
What we have here is a superb mix of James Bond, Batman, and Superman with (of course) a love story and a really evil, evil villain. The best thing about these movies is that they accomplish holding the audience's attention without having to resort to blood, gore, sex scenes or full-frontal (or full-backal) nudity - you actually enjoy the movie for itself. Okay, sometimes the musical production numbers can get a little overdone, but they produce the same feeling of awe and amazement as the old 1930's extravaganzas with the rotating stages, lighted stairs and hundreds of dancers hoofing away to a Big Band beat. It's just fun!

Do yourself a favor - watch the two of these over a long weekend - you won't be disappointed!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Hurray for Bollywood!

I've always enjoyed watching foreign films and reading subtitles has never been a hassle for me (although I really prefer the yellow ones to the white). I've seen French, German, Danish, Japanese, Spanish (a lot of Almodovar) and Portuguese. Never Hindi. Until this weekend.

I had read on a couple of boards how great Rakesh Roshan was as a director, so I took out two of his movies - Koi Mil Gaya and Krrish - both starring his son Hrithik Roshan.

These movies put to shame the most lavish Hollywood movies of the Golden Age - these are spectaculars in the true sense of the word. We have action, adventure, drama, romance, danger, singing, dancing and whatnot which - like the Energizer Bunny - keeps going and going and going. The only gripe I have is I believe that the female singing is dubbed - every Bollywood actress cannot sound like Yma Sumac and have that screechy, unearthly, near-ultrasonic voice that can puncture eardrums and cause horses to shift uneasily in their stalls.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then these Roshan epics are indeed a homage to no less than 11 (count'em - 11!) Hollywood movies. Not to give the plot away, but in Koi Mil Gaya, you can easily identify pieces from:

  • Charly
  • Forrest Gump
  • Singin' in the Rain
  • Saturday Night Fever
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • House of Flying Daggers
  • Flubber
  • Top Gun
  • E.T.
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • The Sound of Music
The surprising thing is - it's amazingly enjoyable! And there is definitely no dearth of extremely handsome actors and glamorous actresses in these movies. What's also endearing is the fact that all of them are distinctive in their own right - again, far more reminiscent of the "stars" of Hollywood's Golden Age in their heyday (just think James Mason, Barbara Stanwyk, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Richard Widmark, Dana Andrews and William Holden) than the the current spate of bleached, botoxed and homogenous actors/actresses we have today. Below are pictures of the two stars of Koi Mil Gaya - Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta:

The next movie to watch is Krrish - another Roshan/Roshan production. This is supposedly the Hindi equivalent of Batman/Superman/James Bond combined. I can't wait!!!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Geek Break III - Wonders of the Electronic Age

Okay, it's summer, my Spartiate and LOTR items are being worked on and it's a slow news month.

I saw a guy wearing this on a t-shirt as I was walking through Penn Station today:

There's no place

Get it?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Geek Break II - Music of the Spheres

Ahh ... summer reading ... something easy on the eyes at the beach ... For me, it's Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos.

Hey, some people consider Jackie Collins light reading!!

I read (actually re-read) the two books and something was annoying me about some of the concepts. Greene uses characters in his books like George, Gracie, etc. to make a point and to inject some humor into the narrative. I decided to send the author an email:

Dear Dr. Greene:

I read your book, The Elegant Universe, and I enjoyed it very much. However, there was one gravity item that you had covered in string theory which has been on my mind and has been like an itch you cannot reach.

I am writing to you in the hopes that you can satisfy my curiosity. I'd like to illustrate with an analogy:

George, in addition to being a well-seasoned space traveler, also has perfect pitch and superlative hearing. His hobby while not jetting about the cosmos is to listen to and identify every powered garden tool by its sound. By looking at schematics and specifics about the engine, he claims he can identify any make and model lawnmower by sound alone.

Milton, his best friend, scoffs at George's boasts."Okay smarty, I'll bet you a steak dinner that you can't pick out lawnmowers!" George, seeing an easy way to a fine meal, agrees. He asks George for the schematics and engine diagrams of the equipment in question.

Milton (who happens to be the groundskeeper at the local football stadium) brings George to the playing field and blindfolds him. He motions to one of his assistants to start one of the machines and motions him to move it past George.

"That's a Briggs and Stratton Model X15", George declares. Milton is dumbstruck. George correctly identified the lawnmower. "Want to try again?" George taunts.

Milton agrees.

Milton motions to another one of his assistants who starts another machine and runs it past our star traveler.

"Hmmm. That's a Lawnboy Model AR3," is George's smug reply. Again, Milton is incredulous. How is he doing this? "I can just taste that steak now", George says. Milton is turning red as a beet. "One more time, okay?" he asks.

"Okay." Says George.

Milton now motions for both of his assistants to run the mowers past George.

"Milton, are you trying to trick me?", George laughs. "You just ran the X15 and the AR3 by me again and you added a Honda Weed-Whacker Model 33 to the mix."

"Aha!" says Milton. "You owe me dinner! Take off your blindfold!"

Now it is George's turn to be surprised. With both lawnmowers turned on, the harmonics sound just like the Honda. "Boy, do I have egg on my face. I never thought of that!"

Sorry to be a bit long-winded, but can you see where I'm coming from?

While string theory defines the specific vibrational pattern of gravity, we don't appear to find or feel gravity except in the presence of mass vibratory patterns. Could gravity's specific vibrational pattern be the result of interference or harmonics amongst the matter-based vibrations? Could gravity be an embedded quality of the universe, rather than a property unto itself?

If we use the lawnmower example again, the effects of gravity (or the sound of the weed-whacker) would be smaller (quieter) over long distances since the harmonics themselves interact less forcefully.

My issue is that strings not only vibrate, but in order to recognize the vibration is occurring (and to observe the specific properties that that vibration produces), they must affect their surroundings - namely the 11-dimensional space in which they are embedded. The vibration could have components in the lower 4-dimensional space, the higher 7-dimensional space, or some combination of both. Mass vibrations could produce a harmonic in the upper dimensional space which manifests itself as gravity in the lower dimensional space.

The gravitational feeling experienced during acceleration, then, could also be explained by the matter vibrational pattern being distorted and perhaps this "doppler howl" produces a similar harmonic. The same way that 2+2 and 3+1 yield identical results, so too could gravity and acceleration be explained by different harmonic interactions that yield a similar "tone".

Are there any Calabi-Yau shapes which explain the physical properties of the universe but only define the gravity vibrational pattern in the upper 7 dimensions?

Thank you for reading this, and I hope to hear from you soon.

What I'm finding absolutely hilarious at this point is that here I am, Ithilien Ranger, Gondorian Prince, descendant of Numenorean Sea-Kings, sword and bow wielder, discussing trans-dimensional geometry with a theoretical physicist ...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dateline: 480 BC (BCE for the politically correct ...)

I just got an email from Andrea - my cloak is complete! It looks incredible with the brooch pin from JJ and the harness from David - I should be receiving it early next week.

I've got the following items all done:

  • cloak
  • cloak brooch
  • shoulder harness
  • speedo
  • sandals
  • falcata sword (arrived on July 2!)

and I'm waiting for:

  • the helmet
  • vambraces
  • greaves
  • aspis shield
  • spear
  • the "Mede killer" medallion from Russ

JJ did the brooch pin earlier since it was a small job he could slide into his queue without any big interruptions - my commissions will be starting in July - woo-hoo!

  • Spartan shield
  • Boromir shield
  • Faramir sword and scabbard
  • Ithilien Ranger sword and scabbard
  • Spartan armor

Once I get some stuff taken care of next week, I'm ready to put together my packet of correspondence regarding Kathy Pillsbury to the LAPD.

I'm going to give her a call - "Hi - just to let you know ... Since you've refused to refund my deposit after a 10-month wait, I'm filing a complaint with the LAPD. Buh-bye."

This is going to be one incredibly satisfying phonecall for me!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Fantasy Cast - The Downfall of Númenor

Working Title: Númenor: Downfall
Director: Peter Jackson (who else?)

Cast (so far):

SauronHrithik Roshan
ElrosEric Etabari
AmandilClive Owen
Elendil The TallGerard Butler
IsildurEric Bana
AnarionChristian Bale
Tar-PalantirThomas Jane
Ar-PharazonDaniel Craig
MirielLena Headey
Gil-GaladAlec Newman/
Dougray Scott

I wasn't 100% certain about Alec Newman as Gil-Galad, since he might be considered too rough-looking, (or too short - at 5'9") given the fact that he's supposed to be a Noldorin elf. A good friend suggested Dougray Scott, which after taking a good, hard look - I agreed wholeheartedly. If you take a look at him in Ever After, he does possess a bit of an ethereal quality to his features.

Ralph Fiennes has also been suggested for Sauron and Hermione Norris for Miriel opposite Daniel Craig.

Here's a link to the cast photos, courtesy of Picasa.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The First Age - and why it won't get a screenplay...

I just finished reading The Children of Húrin - the new book from Christopher Tolkien. This tome is an elaboration of one of the tales contained in the Silmarillion. Túrin, next to Beren and Earendil, is perhaps one of the most developed and three-dimensional figures Tolkien created in the First Age. While incredibly heroic and dramatic, the whole of the First Age is so tragic and heart-breaking that it makes Russian melodramas look like Broadway musicals.

For starters, Morgoth is the Tolkien equivalent of Lucifer - a prideful, fallen Demiurge. Sauron is his sidekick. (And for those of you that thought Sauron was the original bad guy - hang your head in shame!!!!) In short - Húrin is captured by Morgoth and refuses to aid him in destroying the elves. Enraged, Morgoth curses Húrin and his line. Túrin (his son) grows up among the elves, but Morgoth's doom follows him and he eventually betrays everyone he loves, murders his best friend by mistake and unwittingly marries his sister (who eventually kills herself and their child). Túrin then falls on his sword and dies.

It's a classically tragic tale of doom and hubris. Great reading, but definitely a major downer for theater-goers.

The Silmarillion is basically the King James version of the Bible for Middle Earth. The Silmarillion comprises five parts:

  1. Ainulindalë ("The Music of the Ainur") – the creation of Eä, the world
  2. Valaquenta ("Account of the Valar") – a description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural powers in Eä
  3. Quenta Silmarillion ("The History of the Silmarils") - the history of the events before and during the First Age, which forms the bulk of the collection - the creation and theft of the Feanorian gems and subsequent sorrows of the elves from the crime - homicide, fraticide, regicide, kinslaying, betrayal - you name it, it happens ...
  4. Akallabêth ("The Downfall of Númenor") – the history of the Downfall of Númenor/Atalante and its people (Men), which takes place in the Second Age
  5. Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age – a brief account of the circumstances which led to and were presented in The Lord of the Rings
The elves, being immortal, have a lot of time on their hands for a lot of suffering - and they do it in spades. And being immortal, it's heart-wrenching to see how many die of sorrow. By the time you get to the Fifth book, "Of the Rings of Power", you understand the reasoning why the three Elven rings were forged - to heal and preserve. After many thousands upon thousands of years, these folks are looking for a breather!

I think the best bet for another movie would be the Downfall of Númenor - from an action point of view - murder, betrayal, fighting, sea-battles, disasters, etc and from a romance point of view - we can definitely find some romantic back stories (a la Pearl Harbor) and arrival in Middle Earth. We've got the three great Sea-Kings of Old - Elendil, Isildur and Anarion - for starters. We have Sauron being drowned and his spirit returning to his old evil digs - Mordor - in Middle-Earth. This could be great! Maybe even a follow-on mini-series!!

I'm going to put together a fantasy cast for this epic - of course, I'm going to solicit as much help as I can get!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

How Apropos ...

Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
Julius Caesar - Act I Scene 2

I don't know about you, but I seem to be finding more and more that the nastiest, most inconsiderable people I meet on a regular basis are either a) grossly overweight or b) use one of those motorized scooters.

I'm beginning to believe that in these cases, causality has been turned on its ear - these people are afflicted because of how nasty they are, not they are nasty because of their affliction.

Here's an example: I was walking down the street and in front of me are two morbidly obese girls in hip huggers. Each one was easily 350 pounds. Both of them have tattoos right above their butts. This is the stuff of night terrors. Since they took up the width of the sidewalk, someone said, "Excuse me" and tried to pass. The girls screamed at the poor tourist, who fled across the street.

First off, if you're often mistaken for "Bimba, whale of the Nile", do not wear hip-huggers (in fact whoever manufactured hip huggers in that size should be taken out and shot). Contact Omar the tent-maker for something much looser and a lot less revealing. I do not need to see something that looks like a lifesize black seagull or a Fell Beast flapping on your lower back and upper butt. If I want to lose my lunch, I will stick several fingers down my throat. Secondly, my health insurance premiums are paying for treatment of your diabetes, COPD, asthma, high-blood pressure and other weight-related diseases, along with all the meds you need to take. If the purpose of your midday waddle is, "I know that candy store is around here..." then you'd be better served by a gastric bypass, or having your mammoth jaws wired shut. Lastly, if you know that you are that wide, don't block the sidewalk - and if you act like you were brought up in a barn, then you should put yourself there and strap on a feedbag.

Okay - rant over.

I happened to check James Lileks' site today and lo and behold, there was something that brought a smile to my lips and a good, deep, cleansing laugh:

Nice call, Supe – don’t use your special powers to pry apart the booth ever so gently so Lana can ease her stout patoot out the door; don’t use your special lube-beams to grease her up so she can extract herself with dignity. No, pick her up and fly her around town with her ass hanging out.

Why would he care if Lana knew he had become FAT as well? Wouldn’t this actually be a comfort? Obviously some sort of evil enfattening ray has been trained on Smallville, and everyone looks like they just spent a fortnight at Chili’s restaurant drinking from the deep-fryer grease trap.

Superboy’s costume, being Super, easily absorbed the added demands; Lana, however, should have split that dress wide open, providing all the subscribers with the I-see-London-I-see-France moment they wanted. How many redhead fetishes Lana left in her wake, we'll never know, but she gets short shrift in the great debates over fictional women. Everyone's always going on about Betty or Veronica; the Lois-vs.-Lana issue never comes up.

Ahhhhh - just what I needed to get my perspective back - Thanks James!!!!

Monday, June 4, 2007

On Target

Practice really does make perfect.

I find I really enjoy using the longbow I got for my Faramir outfit. It's got a 40 lb draw weight, and I find I'm fairly accurate to about 30-40 yards. When I go out to a practice range, I definitely get second (and third) looks - it's not every day that you see an ornate leather quiver over one's shoulder and a 72" wood bow - normally it's a fiberglass bow or compound bow with a hip quiver.

I wanted to see how far I could go with this concept. I normally use an archery glove when I'm shooting, but on one weekend, I wore my pair of archer's bracers from Eeldrytch Armorie. The pair I have looks exactly like this, except there are no finger coverings. These are made of a very soft leather and provide an amazing amount of support.

I did get some double- and triple-takes which generally satisfied my quirky sense of humor. The surprising thing was that I had a couple of guys (Gerry and Sal - two guys I met that shoot recurve bows) that were really interested in the bracers and wanted to know more about them. "Want to try them on?" I asked. I bought a pair, but they can be ordered separately. Gerry is left-handed and Sal is right-handed, so I took them off and laced one bracer on each of them. They really enjoyed the way it wrapped around the arm and remarked at how much more cushioned the wrist felt. I think I made some sales without even trying! I did warn them that Eeldrytch is notoriously bad on email followup - they need to get dates and make phone calls to keep these folks on track.

So far, so good. Next thing I tried was boots. I have a pair of boots that Reg made for me. These were a combination of East German police boots, tooled leather buckets on top and some simple bootstraps across the top of the foot and under the heel. As I've said previously, when you have a good pair of boots, they are more comfortable than sneakers and these are really, really, good! I've worn these for 8-10 hours straight and my feet are never tired.

So there I am - dark green polo shirt, black jeans, black bucket boots, vambraces, quiver and a pair of Black Ice Gargoyle 85s. Not too many glances until I'm walking off of the field - then I get noticed! The quiver and vambraces attract the most notice, followed by the bow (I sling the bow over the other shoulder) which draws people's eyes down to the boots. The partially silvered hitman black glasses don't hurt either!!

I don't know what I'll try next - the leather pants? The thigh dagger? Perhaps with a bit of practice at home, I'll do the full Ithilien Ranger or Faramir costume!

(By the way, Gerry and Sal ordered pairs of vambraces - Sal has a black-on-black set and Gerry wears a cognac/palomino pair - I think I've started a trend ...)

It would be so much easier if I could wear this stuff to work!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Horsing Around

One of the things that I still want to do is to learn to ride a horse.

It's also one of the things that scare the living crap out of me.

It's not that I'm afraid of horses. Far from it. There's usually several Mounted officers outside of Madison Square Garden, and the horses are used to being patted and talked to by strangers. In my neighborhood, too, we sometimes have Mounted officers patrolling, and I am definitely not spooked by their size. When you look at horses (and some dogs) in the eye, you can actually see someone looking back at you (forget about cats!).

What scares me is falling off and badly hurting myself. I guess as one gets older, the consequences of doing something stupid become more apparent and that instills a certain sense of caution that isn't there at a younger, more innocent age.

One concern is damaging my teeth. I would not want to go through another root canal, or possible reattachment, or a possible dental implant. Along the same lines, I worry about eye damage during a fall. As Andrea can attest, I've been through enough eye infections, corneal ulcers, chalazions and whatnot to do a remote consult on someone else, determine meds and dosing schedule and have it 100% verified by a "real" ophthalmologist.

Oddly enough, breaking an arm or leg (or rib) doesn't seem to be as plausible or probable to me. As I've mentioned before, I have very dense bones and they don't break easily. When I was nine or ten, I was sitting on my bicycle looking down into my neighbors back yard from my back yard. (The houses in my area are terraced, so "ground level" in my yard is actually about 20-30 feet above the neighbor's "ground level"). There was no fence, I lost my footing, and
down the slope I went - I wound up flying off my bike, having it land on top of me and having the wind knocked out of me. Thinking back, it was terrifying to not be able to breathe for about 10 seconds. Many, many, many years later, when I had to take a chest x-ray, the technician remarked that I had a very faint mark on one rib, probably from a slight crack. He asked me if I had ever had an accident - at that point I was well aware what it was from but was too embarrassed to admit it.

No, what really upsets me is thinking about Christopher Reeve. Spinal or cervical injuries from a horseback incident is the thing that is always holding me back. Depending on how you look at it, I was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to actually meet him after his accident during a black-tie charity dinner at Windows on the World. It's one thing to read about his being strapped into his wheelchair and having his respirator pump air in and out for him and another thing to actually see and hear it. It really made a lasting impression - and this has always stopped me from even trying horseback riding. And yet, when I watch the rodeo, I see these people getting thrown from bulls and walking away from it.

I know it's an unreasonable fear. I also know that I'm not going to be in an equestrian competition like he was. I also know I'm not going to be in a rodeo. As with any fear, I guess I'm going to have to desensitize myself little by little. Maybe start with a pony. Then move up to a swayback. Then an regular older horse. Then a normal, placid horse. Eventually, I would like to be able to do this:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Worse than the DMV ...

Just waiting for everything to get done can be a painful experience. If you've ever heard the term, "it's like watching paint dry" you know exactly how I'm feeling at this point.

Andrea has everything she needs (from me) to get started on both the Han Solo and Spartiate costumes. It's only a matter of moving up into the starting line of the queue. JJ needs to send her some pin back measurements for the cloak brooch. This will determine how and where the cloak will be fastened. There's no rush, and I know my patience will be richly rewarded when I get the pieces.

Andrea just sent me some "in progress" pictures of the cloak with the shoulder harness I sent down to her. I have to say, it looks simple, elegant and impressive. JJ should have the pin for the cloak done this month. If you've noticed, there were two different styles of the the shoulder harness on the Spartans in the movie - the "over the shoulder" version worn by Leonidas, and the "cross chest" version worn by everyone else. I had David do the "over the shoulders" version.

I'm also moving (slowly) up in JJ's commission queue for the Ithilien sword, the Spartiate armor and the sandals. I've also decided to have him do the Spartiate shield, the Boromir shield and a Faramir sword. He expects everything will be done this year.

The spear is on pre-order from

The falcata sword is expected now expected "sometime" in June. The swords are coming in from Hong Kong and haven't quite made it into the distribution channels yet.

I've started doing some additional ab exercises. Slowly. I do these in conjunction with some protective lower back exercises. I've pulled my lower back out a couple of times, and it's not pleasant. I'm going for a trim middle with some definition, not a ripped, granite-hard 6-pack. The only way that is going to happen is with liposuction and abdominal etching. And it's not.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Turning the corner in hyperspace ....

As an update to the original post, here's some late breaking news...

The Pants Belt

I received the belt from Zemsky's and this is THE belt from the costume. For about $12, this was one of the easiest and least expensive costume parts to date.

The Blaster Belt

I also received Matt's blaster belt. Beautifully dyed, great leather, nicely milled parts, no sharp edges and so comfortable! The blaster itself fits like a glove in the holster! I'm nearly over kicking myself for not going to Matt in the first place.

And speaking of gloves, I also picked up a pair of chestnut-colored Damascus D302s from Amazon! Yes, Amazon! I had seen on one of the costume sites that Han also wore a pair of short leather gloves. Here's the link.

The Shirt, Pants and Jacket

Andrea had made me an additional shirt, tunic and cloak for the second Ranger outfit; this time in varying shades of brown. She was also sweet enough to add some theatrical-quality mudstains to the bottom of the cloak using a concoction of acrylic paint and other secret ingredients. I put the entire costume on last night and it's so comfortable!

I'm near the top of the queue now for the Han Solo items. We're going for the Empire Strikes Back outfit of light black jacket, white shirt and brown pants with gold bloodstripes, as opposed to the Star Wars version of black vest, white shirt and blue pants with red bloodstripes.

I came across some interesting "history" on the Corellian bloodstripes:

Bloodstripes were a Corellian award represented by a 3cm-wide broken stripe of piping that was sewn along the outer seams of a pair of trousers. There were two levels of bloodstripes that could be awarded, each distinguished by its color. The Second-level bloodstripe was gold and, although rarely given out, was the more common of the two awards. The First-level bloodstripe was red, and was usually awarded posthumously because of the exceptionally heroic and often fatal deeds required to earn it. Most bloodstripes were earned for courage under fire, and the recipient was often recognized for simply being a human in the right place at the right time, enduring unusual hardships. The wearer was by no means a superhero. Han Solo was one of the few examples of a living Corellian who earned First-level bloodstripes. He earned his Second-level bloodstripes for rescuing Chewbacca, but he never revealed the deed for which he was awarded the First-level bloodstripes. He preferred to wear the yellow stripes, so as not to receive inquiries on them.

During the exploration era on Corellia, several bands of pirates were known to attack sailing ships carrying precious cargo from exotic countries. Many sailors perished by the swords of these pirates who would board cargo ships by the hundreds. Over time, the pirates made it a habit to clean their swords on the sides of their trousers to boast the number of men they had killed. The longer the row of red stripes on a pirate's pant leg, the more dangerous and experienced he was. Years later,it became a custom to sew in these "blood stripes" to help classify the rank of each pirate.

In more modern times, as Corellia became inter-galactically known for it's history of swashbucklers, these "blood stripes" were carried on as a tradition in the Navy. During the dark times, when the Empire took charge over Corellia, ranks were removed from the standard military uniform and were only used at Naval Academies. Over time, a new generation of pirates emerged, attacking Imperial supply ships of all sorts. Following in the tradition of their predecessors, they donned the classic "blood stripes" on their trousers.

I'm so glad I decided to cut my losses with Kathy Pillsbury and have Andrea do the outfit. By the way, I'm planning on having an attorney friend of mine produce a "demand letter" to get my deposit back and I will be filing a police report with the LAPD.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Dining in HELL - the second course

As an update to the original post, here's some new and additional news:


David completed the "speedo" and damn, it's comfortable. When I went for the second fitting, everything was absolutely perfect. David suggested that I wear it the rest of the day (under my suit - get your mind out of the gutter!) to make sure. He did forget about the shoulder harness ("Oh... so that's why I drew the figure-8 there...") but I'll be getting that in a short time - he was working on some leather coats for a new Steven Seagal movie and had some pretty tight deadlines for delivery.

David gave me a call today and the harness was finished! The leather is the same stuff he used on the Seagal coat - dark brown with a hint of scarlet to it. I went down and tried it on - again, a few adjustments here and there, a couple of hole punches and it was complete. I'm following his advice again and wearing it (under my shirt) for the day - I don't anticipate any problems since this really soft leather and fitted to me. Although I have very good posture (8 years in parochial elementary school with nuns and 4 years Catholic high school with brothers will beat that into you), the harness is also having a nice side-effect of pulling my shoulders back a bit and squaring them off more. I just have to be careful moving around work today and hearing the leather creak a bit!

Armor and Sandals

No real new news from JJ ... He was able to find some dished steel shield blanks, so I bit the bullet and decided to go for the shield also - in for penny, in for a pound! I've learned from rather painful and nasty experience if I scrimp on something, I always wind up paying more for it (in more ways than one) in the long run. I put out a query to one of the costume groups on Yahoo! and got the name of a Greek sandalmaker, but he never returned any emails and I'm not in the mood to call Greece and follow up.

I came across a Greek re-enactors group here in NYC - These people take their reenactments seriously. They build their own shields from scratch! They are more of the historical Spartan/Greek Hoplite soldiers rather than the Frank Miller versions. I contacted Peter - their designated Spartiate officer - and a got a great lead on sandals. I got them today and they are extremely comfortable. I'll see which version looks better with the outfit - these or JJ's. The only issue I had with the sandals was that the foot bed was a lighter color than the straps - and again, my good ole' standby - Fiebing Leather Dye (chocolate brown) came to the rescue. Swabbed everything down with a coat of the dye and let it dry overnight - perfect!

By the way, did you know that the proper term for the Spartan shield is not a hoplon (as the Greek foot soldiers were called Hoplites) but an aspis?


There are a lot of crappy looking knockoffs going around right now. I did find a place that has a beauty though. Not an official replica, but a beauty all the same. This has a battle-used look to it that will fit right in with JJ's shield and it also separates into two pieces for easy storage!


The date has been moved again, so it should ship by end of May or early June. The falcatas are coming in from Hong Kong and they are not in the country yet. Like I said, I may have David re-do the scabbard so it looks better with the speedo.


Andrea's queue is semi-full right now, but my Han Solo outfit will be ready soon and I'll be sending the shoulder harness down to her this weekend. JJ will send the cloak pin directly to her when he finishes it.

"Wolf's Tooth" Medallion

I'm not doing a wolf's tooth, but Russ and I are working on a cast bronze item. The design is in the "scribble on a napkin" phase right now, but I can promise you this - it will be striking, original and somewhat disturbing. Just what you need to freak out a Mede or Persian at close quarters !!! Russ was doodling some ideas during a thunderstorm and managed to creep himself out a bit - which is EXACTLY the response I'm aiming for!

Now, I can't draw worth a tinker's dam, but I can put together some superb photoshop collages. This is something along the lines that we're looking to do:

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sic vis pacem parabellum

Although Corey Sosner does make the best-fitting muscle suits and Wolverine claws, that's not his true calling. He's an actor, and a damn fine one at that.

Corey recently completed a short film called "Punisher, First Round" in which he starred, directed and produced. It's a great film, with all the action quality a hero movie must have. It was the first time that you can see the real Punisher on screen. (I had the chance to view this DVD after watching the Tom Jane version, and I can definitely say they miscast THAT movie. Big time.) Corey delivers a gritty realism to the Punisher and truly portrays the depth and breadth of a character driven by revenge and possessing the skills to execute his plans perfectly. At the same time, he brings an excellent sense of dry humor and comic timing to the Frank Castle character in his exchanges with Wolverine. The casting of the short was extremely well done and the dialogue between the Punisher and Wolverine was classic.

Knowing Corey before I saw the movie, I was amazed at how easily and believably he could slip into the Frank Castle/Punisher role. This is his genre and he is unparalleled. One of the things I always notice about someone is the eyes. As I've mentioned, I have dark green eyes. Most of the time. When I get angry, they bleed to gray. And I've been told I look completely different when I'm angry (and no, I don't put on 250 pounds of muscle and turn green - if I did, I wouldn't have needed the muscle suit, would I?). Corey's eyes do the same thing. They are a lighter green than mine, but his gaze goes absolutely flat, almost reptilian, and his eyes get extremely dark.

I believe one of the best indicators of a superb actor is his ability to willingly suspend disbelief in his audience of the "secondary world" of his performance. Corey can do this ... and in spades.

Order the DVD from - you won't be disappointed!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tonight, we dine in HELL !! -- Cipriani's ??

This one feels different. I don't know exactly why, but it does. I'm feeling anxious for some odd reason.

Normally, when I start down a costume development path, there's a lot more research I need to do, a lot more vendors to contact, a lot more effort.

This time, the items just fell into place - Am I getting this good, or is some type of synchronicity afoot?

  • Andrea is doing the cloak - fabric will be a heavy wool and color will be a scarlet red.
  • JJ is doing the brooch, vambraces, greaves, sandals and helmet. I'm now in the queue and the armor should be done in the 3rd or 4th quarter of this year.
  • I purchased the falcata sword from It should ship on May 18th.
  • David is doing the leather Speedo and shoulder harness. The harness will be sent down to Andrea for fitting the cloak.
David? Who's David?

When I got my Faramir pants, Reg cut them too long. Rather than send them back and wait another few months for him to return them, I figured that I could bring them to some leather garment repair place and just get them cut and hemmed. Nope.

I went to about four places and each one wanted to charge about $100 to trim and hem. There was no way I was going to spend that money (plus NYC sales tax!!), so I kept looking. I tried using and looked up "leather clothing". In addition to the places I found in the paper yellow pages, I came across some other leather clothing places. Leather fetish clothing places.

Well, well, well ...

Two of the places I called, The Leather Man and Rubio Leather, just didn't sit right with me. They weren't nasty. Something was just off-putting about them. The best analogy I can give is when you walk into a hair salon/barber shop and just get a bad vibe. It's best to get out of there. And FAST. Then I called David Menkes Custom Leather Wear. David sounded like a really nice guy and I explained what I needed. "Sure, no problem. Would you like to set up an appointment now, or do you need to check your calendar?"

I set up an appointment and went down to 19th Street the next day. I was expecting an actual store, but David works out of a HUGE third-floor apartment with an outside garden. I was really impressed. And David is one of the nicest, most creative people I've met so far - in fact, I was thinking to myself, "I've found the leather equivalent of Andrea!" His work area was neat as a pin, he had a wall of leathers on rolls and a rack of completed and in-process items on the side. As it turned out, David was also a very big LOTR fan, although he felt that Peter Jackson didn't do the books justice. He also picked up right away the Faramir pants were Faramir pants. Damn, he is good! A couple of snips and a run through the sewing machine and we were done. And the price was extremely reasonable - about one-fifth of what was being asked for in the other establishments. I was looking at some of the items he was making, how clean the cuts were and how straight the hems were sewn on everything. No mess anywhere.

When I was planning my vendors for this venture, I immediately thought of David. He's a perfectionist. After all, if you're getting this type of leather clothing, you had better go to an expert. I gave David a call and explained to him what I was looking for, plus I sent him a PDF of some shots of Gerard Butler and Michael Fassbender in costume (or lack thereof). He had already seen the movie. Twice.

A little bit about David - he's a well-built guy with tattoos, a closely cropped beard, bright blue eyes, a septum piercing, and an absolutely wicked sense of humor. He had chuckled when I first told him what I was looking for.

"What are you doing about the CHEST? I hope you've been working out!"

"Of course I have - I'm not going to get confused with David Wenham, but I'm in good shape. Do you think I'd be asking for a leather Speedo if I couldn't carry it off?"

"You should SEE some of the people that come in here!"

We had a good laugh on that one. I've already seen him for the initial measurement session and I've picked out the leather I'd like to use. David, like Andrea, works pretty quickly, so Andrea should have the shoulder harness to fit the cloak in a short time. And, by the way, he was quite pleased with the results of my chest and abs workouts.

Looking at the pictures of the falcata sword I've ordered, I may also ask David to re-do the sword belt and scabbard. He'll have the actual pieces as a pattern and I know he'll have fun making THAT! After all, if I'm wearing a custom leather speedo, I don't want to put on a cheap leather/pleather ill-fitting belt.

I realized that this was the first costume that didn't involve several layers of fabric and/or leather between me and everyone else. This was basically just me. And a cloak. Even with the workouts and staying slim, it hit me that I still had a bit of nasty body-image memory to overcome. Well, I said to myself, you're not the little fat kid any more ... Spartan.

And I don't feel as anxious now ...

Monday, April 9, 2007

... In Blackest Night ...

My Green Lantern mask arrived!

Corey and his sculptor did a great job on the mask. I actually got two!

The first one is made of of urethane foam with a theatrical mesh back. This one is as light as air and feels like an actual part of your face. It's a bit wrinkled when it's not on, but as soon as it warms up on your face, it puffs up and is really smooth! I use spirit gum and spirit gum remover for this one. This moves as your facial expressions move. It's great!

The other is made of theatrical latex. A little thicker, almost, but not quite, as comfortable. ProsAid and regular prosthetic adhesive remover on this one.

By the way, did you know the "proper" way to attach a latex appliance?

  • Put a light coat on the back of the appliance. Let dry for about two minutes
  • Put a similar light coat of the adhesive on your face. Let dry for about a minute
  • Starting at the top edge, "roll" the appliance downwards, patting and stretching gently into place as you go.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Window on the West

The Private Investigator Story!

Bear with me folks - this entry ties together a lot of loose strings from other entries. Particularly the "Weapons and Warfare" entry.

I had decided to also go for an Ithilien Ranger costume, and at that point in time my two principal vendors were Andrea and Reg.

My motivation was some really great pictures on the site of the Ranger's parade in Wellington, plus an extremely detailed breakdown of each costume piece.

Andrea, of course, had no problem with the shirt, the neck cover/mask and the tabard. They were done in about 3 weeks.

Reg, would be doing the underbracers, bracers, tunic, cuirass and gorget. Knowing Reg's inability to get stuff done on time, I made sure I gave him eight months advance notice.

"Reg, do you swear to God you're going to get this stuff done on time, this time? Am I going to have to keep calling you because you'd forget your head if it wasn't attached?"

We set the date of October 1 to have all the pieces in my hands. Not shipped. Not almost ready. Delivered.

The other thing I needed for the outfit was an Ithilien Ranger sword. Why I didn't think of JJ at this point, still escapes me, but I went ahead and contacted Eyal Azerad at Darksword Armory in Quebec for the commission. We discussed the project and Eyal put me in his queue; the expected delivery date was 6 months. So everything would be coming due at the same time. Nice. I also decided at that time, that as a birthday gift, I'd give Andrea my Faramir sword and have Eyal make another one up for me.

With two HUGE exceptions (Garry, Andrea's husband and Corey Sosner) I've been universally disappointed with every single item I've gotten from a Canadian vendor. They're sloppy.

I give Reg a call on September 1 - just to see if we're on track.

"Oh yeah! I've got all the leather cut and I'll have them out to you before I go to the Texas Faire."

"Oh, how long is the faire?"

"About 2-3 months."

DAMN. Here we go again. Deep breath. Relax. Unclench my hands. Look around for someone to beat the living s**t out of.

"When are you going?"

"End of the month."

"So you promise me you'll get the stuff out, RIGHT? You're not going to miss your deadline again?"

"I promise! I promise!"

Well, you can guess exactly what happened. Not only did Reg not get the stuff out by the end of the month, he was off gallivanting in Texas. The term "volcanic fury" does not even begin to describe my feelings at that moment. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. I figured that I needed to find another vendor. Luckily, I hadn't given Reg a deposit. (Unluckily, if I had, I wouldn't have been so eager to find someone else).

Introducing ....

With some help, I found Greg Podgorny of Podgorny Designs and I give him a call. He's an MFA and had done a full set of Gimli armor, does plate armor and forges swords. We exchange emails and he responded promptly. He picked up his phone. He returned voicemails. I get a written contract that states he will be done by end of January 2007. The only thing I'm not too thrilled about at this point is the fact that he wants to be paid 100% up front. (This should have set off warning bells, but I was too pissed off at Reg to listen to that little voice.)

I send Greg a bank check ... we still talk to each other on the phone and email. Even better. I even get progress photos!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...

Eyal has emailed me and has backed out of the Ithilien Ranger sword. Damn. Damn. Damn. He can't get the casting on the pommel to his satisfaction. He sends me the new Faramir sword. It's beautiful - except for three items:

  1. All the leather is black, instead of green. We had specifically agreed to faded green leather in all the email correspondence
  2. There's no etched ravens on the pommel - according to him, the material he used is too hard to etch.
  3. The scabbard doesn't fit properly and it is not the "Faramir" scabbard. The metal aglet is also slightly rusted.
Since I'm on a roll with Greg, I ask him if he can do another scabbard and do the Ithilien sword. Again - not a problem, except the 100% up-front thing. I agree. I send him the Faramir sword from Eyal for the etching and the replacement scabbard.

As the deadline looms closer ...

I give Greg a call on January 10. He's actually finished everything and is just waiting for some nice weather to "age" the leather. He's all set to ship on January 16. By the end of the week, I don't get the items and I call ... I get his voicemail, but I figure Greg's off-site - he often does movie work and is not in the office/forge for a few days.

Two weeks ... three weeks. Nothing. Zip. Nada.

I call his neighbor (he's next to a woodworking place) - he hasn't seen him. I send registered mail. Nothing.


So now I'm out over $2000, I still don't have my Ithilien Ranger sword PLUS I no longer have a Faramir sword.

Well, back to the drawing board ...

So I give Reg a call. I had told him previously that because he couldn't meet the deadline I had to use someone else. Of course, both he and Larkin were extremely apologetic when I blew them off. So my excuse was I wanted a second Ithilien ranger outfit. He actually got it done and the stuff was, as usual, visually stunning - just very, very late. And nearly free since Reg felt so bad about disappointing me in the first place. The only problem was the boot toppers - they were this bright palomino gold color - a nice color, if you like your eyes to bleed. Another pair, this time in a darker brown was completed and was being shipped out on April 5. These are in a weathered milk-chocolate brown and look perfect with the outfit.

This was also around the same time as I was having such a hassle with that witch Kathy Pillsbury with the Han Solo costume. At this point, I was so damn angry I decided I'd hire a private investigator to track Greg down and either get my money back, or get my costume and swords (or have his kneecaps broken, depending on who I'd hire).

So I look for private investigators in the Los Angeles area (Greg was in Pacoima, which is a suburb of Los Angeles) and shell out $275 for a "basic locate". I was hoping to get either a cell phone number, residence address or something to speak with Greg and rip him a new one. Greg is definitely one tough person to locate, because as of this writing, the PI still can't find him and I'm getting a refund.

... Then back from the dead ...

All of a sudden, I get a package from Greg - now this is the end of February 2007. He's 30 days late on his written contract, so he's technically in breach. I can sue the jerk if I want to. In the box is my Ithilien Ranger outfit and it fits great. This one is deliberately scratched and worn - which is the way I wanted it - so I really do wind up with two usable Ranger outfits. And - wonders of wonders - there's another 818 phone number. I call it and I actually speak to the idiot.

And I hear a tale of woe. I really don't give a rat's ass at this point, but hearing how bad he sounded and what actually happened, I did feel a little sorry for the guy.

Now, Greg's old place of business in Pacoima was zoned for industrial use only. Given the rents in that area, Greg decided to also reside there. And conveniently forgot to tell his landlord. His neighbor - his supposed friend who ran the woodworking store - wanted to expand his business and so he decided to tell the landlord about Greg's living arrangements. The landlord got angry and gave Greg five days to vacate the premises. He packed what he could in his pickup truck, gave as much equipment he could to friends and still left a lot of stuff there when the L.A. County sheriffs came to padlock the place. Greg drove cross-country and is living with/near his parents in North Carolina and is fixing up his grandfather's apartment that hadn't been lived in for about 15 years. One of his friends gave him a cell phone - which was the number on the package label - and this same friend had mailed out the Ithilien Ranger package. The Eyal/Faramir sword was still with either this friend or another in California and he/she would send that out to him when he was ready to make the scabbard. The swordwork was supposed to be finished by March 30, 2007.

Greg was going to be doing some lectures/classes at the college he graduated from and swore up and down that he would forge the sword and make the scabbard for the classes. I could call him any time on the new number.

... And out for the count ...

So, I talked to Greg twice on the new number, and after that - I'm just getting his voicemail - just like the last time. Then the message switched to "This number is temporarily out of service". Now someone else has the number with a different message. I don't even have a mailing address. So I'm out the money I gave him for doing the Ithilien sword and I'm out the money I spent with Eyal on making another Faramir sword. About $1800 in total.

And the almost-happy ending ...

  • Reg has another Faramir sword, which he is going to send me - when - is the big question since he's off to a faire in Escondido in two weeks.
  • JJ is doing the Ithilien sword (for about $900)
At least I'm getting my stuff done by reputable vendors. I just had to blow a large chunk of change to do it.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Pep talk

I mentioned to Andrea that I was half heartedly thinking of a Spartiate outfit from the movie "300" but dismissed it since I lack the washboard abs that most (if not all) of the Spartans were sporting.

God bless her, this was her response:

Dude, you are in Spartan enough shape after all that training! I'm just crossing my fingers that everyone who orders one of these has a body to go with it, or at least be mostly in shape. Mostly is all I ask for.

After all, if my job description included strutting around half naked like this guy or I had abs like him, I wouldn't have even given it a second thought:

As a child, I was somewhat heavy. No, make that fat. I was humiliated when I had to go to the department store and have to go to the "husky" rack. I recently came across a picture of myself at 8 years old when I went to the rodeo at Madison Square Garden. I weighed more then than I do now. I had heard all of the common and uncommon excuses - from "That's just baby fat" to "You've got heavy bones" (I actually have extremely dense bones, but that's beside the point and no, I'm not part-Kryptonian!)

The high point in my (then young) life was the first time I could fit into "regular" clothes. That was sophomore year in high school.

And I make damn sure that I stay that way. I wear 30" waist Levi 501s and have for the past 20+ years.

I also keep one old pair of Levis. If I try them on and they're tight, I cut down on my intake and increase my workouts until they feel comfortable again.

There's been a lot of controversy going on about low-fat vs. low-carb diets. I do my own low-fat and low processed carb diet.

Anything that has hydrogenated, coconut or palm oil I skip.

Any stuff with a lot of sugar (store bought cake, cookies, etc.) I skip.

Delicatessen meats or salads I skip.

The "Mediterranean" diet staple of olive oil actually raises my bad LDL and lowers my good HDL, so I skip that too. Go figure.

Lots of fresh fruit, fresh or frozen veggies, grains, cereals (Honey Nut Cheerios and Vanilla Almond Special K for the most part, plus Kashi Go-Lean) and I'm set!

This sort of eliminates the "fun" foods like pizza, chinese or ribs from regular consumption, but then again, they shouldn't be regular consumption. I can treat these as "very special occasion" items and not feel deprived. And I limit the amount even when I do splurge.

I've decided to go ahead with the Spartiate outfit. The definite pieces are the cloak, brooch, leather speedo (hehehehe), greaves, vambraces, sandals and xiphos+scabbard. I also learned my lesson from before - Andrea is doing the cloak and JJ the armor. I'll describe the whole process in another post.

Now, I'm just deciding on which optional pieces I really want. Helmet? Shield? Spear?

And find time to do more abdominal exercises.

Maybe if I start taking Ambien, I can get in some sleep-crunches ...


After a considerably long time, I am finally sporting a fairly nice-looking six-pack. The rifts and valleys are coming along, due to being extremely faithful to versions of the '300 workout' as posted on YouTube. I'm also down to a 29" waist.

While most of my contemporaries are expanding around the waistline, I'm shrinking!