Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Shannara Chronicles Ep 7 - My Thoughts

Tonight I watched a brand new episode of The Shannara Chronicles. S1 Ep7 "Breakline" After Wil, Eretria, and Amberle fall off the cliff, they get separated. After awakening next to the Reaper's corpse and prying the Elfstones out of his bloody left palm, Wil is attacked by a male elf from Owen Moor named Perk, whose left ear was stolen by Elf Hunters who cut off and sell the ears to gnomes. He wants to rescue his female partner Genewen who was captured by them. The man who cut off his ear, Cormac, is left behind to guard the camp as their female leader Zora pursues the princess. Eretria and Amberle are subsequently chased by the same group into an old hall that sunk underground during the great war. Meanwhile, in Arborlon, the Changeling, in the guise of King Eventine, sends his sons Ander and Arion on a seemingly futile mission to kill the Dagda Mor.

Allanon is healed by his former master Bremen and returns to Earth. While underground Amberle picks up three blue dice: an eight-sided die and a pair of percentile dice. They also notice a map which resembles Eretria's vision and she tells Eretria it is Safehold. She and Eretria fight off some off the Elf Hunters but are captured by Zora. Wil arrives, dangling from Genewen, who turns out to be a flying Roc mounted by Perk, who is a Wing Rider. On the way out Zora shoots Eretria and she falls. More of the Elf Hunters arrive, preventing them from going back for her. The princes arrive to face the Dagda Mor, discovering an imprisoned Bandon. Arion attacks the evil Druid with the sword, but the Dagda Mor is prepared and kills him. Allanon arrives on the scene just in time to save Ander and free Bandon. Eretria is shown hauled off alongside a golf bag full of clubs and a white plastic lawn chair. Ander kills the Changeling with Allanon's collapsible sword, becoming King of the Elves.

This was probably my favorite episode to date.. I felt the story move along, we finally got some direction on where to find Safehold. We were introduced to new characters Perk and Genewen. Allanon is healed and got to help the Elf Princes since their father (who is a Changeling) sent them on a one way mission to their death. And in fact we lose the eldest son Arion leaving the youngest Ander to survive with the help of Allanon. They return and Ander has to kill his father (Changeling) and he is now the King of the Elves. I continue to like Eretria more and more. When I first met her in episode one I was not a fan but she has really fleshed out as a character and has become one of my favorites. There are only a few more episode left for this season and I can't wait to see where the story goes.

The Scots Festival and Highland Games in Long Beach

Today I went to the Scots Festival & International Highland Games XXIII down at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. I've been wanting to do the a Scot's Festival for many years so when I heard one was doing to be near me I got a group of friends together and we went down. Joining me for the festival was Liz, Leo and Cait.

Scots Festival honors nearly fifty Scottish clans & vendors throughout the weekend with professional and amateur competitions in piping, drumming, massed bands, darts, Highland dancing, and Highland athletics. The Scottish Highland Games, a pre-cursor to today’s Olympic Games, were designed to test the strength, skill and technique of ancient warriors by face offs.

I enjoyed the music and foods but I really wanted to see the Highland Games and they didn't disappoint.

Caber Toss - In Gaelic, caber simply means pole, and the objective of the caber toss isn’t about distance, but style and accuracy. The athlete rests the caber against their shoulder while clasping their arms around it. Then they try to lift if off the ground while keeping it perfectly balanced. Once the caber is lifted the athlete begins to run, building momentum, before tossing the caber. Caber toss is judged with the aid of an imaginary clock face on the ground, with the thrower facing the 12 o’clock position. Points are deducted according to the number of degrees that the caber is off from the perfect 12 o’clock mark.

Throwing the Weight (for height & distance) - Throwing the weight is divided into two separate categories: throwing for distance (with a 28-pound weight) and throwing for height (with a 56-pound weight). Throwing for distance involves the thrower to grasp the weight in one hand, spin around three times and toss. Tossing for height involves a high jump-style bar, which is raised after each successful attempt. Strength, speed and coordination are key to successfully competing in throwing the weight.

Putting the Shot - Derived from the “stone of strength,” which saw clansmen compete in tossing stones for distance, putting the shot is an excellent test of strength. With weights weighing anywhere from 16-to-22-pounds, athletes would lift the stone in one hand in front of their shoulders, run to gain momentum and release.

The Hammer Throw - Originating in the granite mining quarries in Scotland, workers would compete by tossing actual sledgehammers. Although athletes no longer toss hammers, today they use an iron sphere attached to a chain, the goal of the competition remains the same – toss the hammer as far as you can! In the event, the thrower stands with his back to the mark, swings the hammer around his head to gain momentum and then releases it over his shoulder.

Sheaf Toss -Similar to the weight toss, the sheaf toss consists of competitors using a pitchfork to hurl a burlap bag stuffed with straw over a horizontal bar. Each competitor has three chances to toss the sheaf cleanly over the bar without touching it and the bar is raised after each round.

Both men and women participate in the games. I wanted to see as much of the games as I could but you had to pick and choose which ones you were going to watch as they had several competitions going on at the same time. So while the women were doing the Hammer Throw the men would Toss the weight for height and though everyone was in the middle grassy area you could really only watch one event at a time. I tried to watch a bit of each event (mostly men, as I couldn't resist a guy in a Kilt). I think my favorite was the Caber toss.. this is the most recognized Highland game and loads of fun to watch, though a few of those cabers fell back towards the crowd and gave us a bit of a scare.

Another favorite was the Toss the Weight for Height. It's crazy that these guys would throw a 50+ pound weight over their head and try and go over a bar and then stand perfectly still has the weight dropped back down missing their head by inches.. so crazy, but fun to watch. But overall it was a great time. Next time I'll get there early enough and rent one of those tents on the side of the field so you can just lounge around and watch the games while drinking and eating.

All the Scottish shops were great, I was tempted once again to buy a Kilt as they had authentic ones that were really nice and pricey. I had to do alot of self control and now buy everything I saw as there were so many awesome "fantasy" type items. I did buy a nice blue and silver ring and a really nice silver tree charm for a necklace. I couldn't find the kind of necklace I liked but I have an awesome tree charm.

Towards the end of our visit we sampled some Scotch Eggs and Welsh Cakes. I actually had Scotch Eggs in England when I visited there a few years ago but this was the first time having Welsh Cakes and I have to say they are extremely tasty. We watch a bit of sheep herding and did a maze at the end of our visit.

I had a great time and I hope to make this an annual thing.  You could never go wrong with guys in Kilts throwing big sticks around :)

Friday, February 12, 2016

NerdStrong Gym - My Week

I got my full five days of workouts in this week. We started this week doing something brand new. For the Saturday CON class Coach David and Coach Seely came up with a D&D style workout. It was going to be a continuing story that we'd do every Saturday for the month of February. This included a pretty lengthy introduction.

Here is how amazing my gym is...

Night of the Zombie King
Chapter 1 - Attack at the Inn

Your adventuring guild had been hiring themselves out as caravan guards these past five years since the end of the Great Gnoll Wars. You all spent three months on the road, guarding a huge caravan of dignitaries from the Free City of Greyhawk as they surveyed the local countryside. It was an exhausting mission, not because of danger, or bandits, or monsters - there were none. It was just three months of sheer boredom. You had never been so glad to finish a job and get on home to the small hamlet of Dunhearst.

Your first day home was spent entirely in your beds, catching up on sleep. When you finally awoke, you were famished. You headed to the local inn, where you found almost all of your fellow caravan guards had the same idea. You’ve known each other for years, and traded all of your stories from your mercenary adventures, the wars you’ve fought, and especially your love for a local war hero, the battle-wizard Dan Jenkins, under whom many of you had served in battle, but who died during the Great Gnoll War a five years ago.

Having heard all of your stories a hundred times, you sat mostly in silence, enjoying the evening comforts of the inn, alongside a handful of farmers and merchants, appreciating the return to your normal life.

Suddenly, the front door banged open. A boy stood in the doorway, frantic, wide-eyed.

He cried, “The dead have ris-“

Before he could finish his sentence, a rusty sword plunged through his chest and he fell to the ground, dead. Standing behind him, in a dented chest plate and mouldering robes, was the shriveled but familiar face of your beloved, dead commander, Dan Jenkins!

“Dan!” Kevin cried out. "What have you done?"

With a gravelly voice like knives raking across glass, Dan whispered, “There is no Dan Jenkins. There is only Azerak, the Zombie King. And this town is mine!”

With that, Azerak/Dan raised his arms, and a flood of zombies and other foul creatures rushed past him into the tavern, slavering black ichor, dead eyes filled with bloodlust! The creatures swarmed the tavern, converging on the villagers, raking and tearing with claws and teeth.

You leapt into action, drawing the stout clubs from your hips (the only weapon you are allowed to carry in town). At once you were a party of well trained soldiers - your bodies knew their warlike jobs and your hearts knew their duty: with only your wits, and your stout clubs, you fought to save the villagers in the tavern from the Zombie King and his Minions.

For nearly half an hour you fought, cutting down Skeletons (Seal Jacks), Zombies (Air Squats), Wights (Steel Club to Guard), Mummies (Push-Ups), Shadows (Steel Club Spellcasters), and Ghosts (planks). As you were able, you rescued villagers, carrying them (30-70lb gym implements) out the inn’s back door, where they could escape into the forest.

While the party fought their undead, the first party member deposited her last villager behind the inn. As the old woman hobbled toward the forest, a voice like steel on stones screeched behind her. She turned to face what had become of her old commander.

The Zombie King rasped, “You were ever the strong one. It is too bad your companions are still occupied - this night you must die alone!”

He waved his hand over his head, and a pale green glow surrounded his body. He drew his rusty sword, and as he waved it across his broken body, it burst into flame. You gripped your club, and rushed to defeat him, dodging his swings and striking when she was able, many of her blows glancing off his glowing magical armor.

She gritted her teeth in determination and resigned herself to battle, hoping her companions would join her soon - she knew she would not be able to defeat him alone!

For the remaining time, you battled the Zombie King. As each of the party members vanquished her undead and saved her last villager, they joined in. (To battle the Zombie King, as a group you had to perform hundreds of burpees - the number was determined by the size of the class.)

In the end, a chorus of moaning and screeching came from the direction of the town, and the Zombie King laughed a piercing laugh. “The rest of my children emerge from their slumber!”

On the road from town you saw a wave of undead surging toward the inn. Looking at each other, you realized you could not win this battle unprepared - you must flee so you could regroup and face this threat at full strength. Grabbing up your clubs, and the last straggling villagers, you fled into the forest (230m run with clubs and, for some, 30-70lb implements).

You fled into the forest, agreeing to re-group at an old guard post abandoned since the Gnoll Wars. You saved many villagers, but hundreds were left behind - you cannot leave them all, or your old friend Dan Jenkins’ soul, to whatever fate this Azerak the Zombie King has planned!

Needless to say it was spectacular and a great workout to boot!!! 

Sunday's TEAM Themed workout was Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, We grouped into teams of five were one person did a 230 Meter Run around the parking lot while the others fought off Zombies by doing Curtsy Lunges, Ballistic Curls, Shin Box and Bridge Presses. When the runner came back we'd rotate, we continued to do this for a full 30 minutes. 

During out second round someone took a misstep and did things out of order which kind of through us for a loop and we spent a few rounds trying to get back into a rhythm but I'm happy to say for our final round it was perfect. It was a fun workout.

Tuesday DEX class was all about Tests. We started with 2 minutes of Air Squats, then 2 minute rest, then 2 minutes of Sit Ups, then 2 minutes of rest. We then did 2 minutes of Slamballs, another 2 minutes of rest before doing 3 minutes of Burpees and a 3 minute rest before doing our final test which was 5 minutes of WallBalls. This was tough especially towards the end with the Burpees and Wallballs as you're already exhausted from the other tests and these last two tests are even longer then the previous ones. Overall it was a great workout.

Wednesday CON class was a small one. Only me and two other people were in attendance. We started with a killer warm up of 4 rounds of 4x Shuttle, 5x Air Squats, 5x Push Ups and 5x Sit Ups. The workout was just as tough. We had to do 2 rounds of 1 minute of work/ :15 second of rest. We did Bird Dogs, Kick Thurs, Leg Raises, Dumbbell Thrusters, Dumbbell Rows, Mountain Climbers, Bicycles, Dumbbell Curls, Half Push Ups and finally Sprawls. It was a lot of different movements and though a minute doesn't sound like much, it is when you add them all up and continuously workout

Thursday STG day had one of my favorite barbell workouts... Back Squats. It was more about technique and not weight. The first set was 7x Empty 45lbs Barbell, set 2 5x 50% of max weight, set 3 was 3x 70% of max weight. Then we had to do 5x set of 5 at a comfortable weight. 

We then had a 4 minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) of 10x Kettlebell Deadlifts & 10x 1-Leg Bridge. We then ran 230 Meters and came back for another 4 minute AMRAP with 10x Kettlebell High Pull and then 10x V Ups. It's was a nice burner at the end. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Batman v Superman Final Trailer & A Full Size BB-8 Droid

I don't care what people are saying I am really looking forward to the upcoming movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I LOVED Man of Steel so I am interested to see where they take this story next. They released their final trailer and I'm even more pumped for this movie. I want to see it opening weekend but that's Wondercon weekend so I'm going to have to squeeze it in somewhere.

OMG they are making a full size BB-8 droid that actually works. It's still in the works so I hope it actually get's made. The cost is said to be $180 which, honestly, isn't that bad and I would gladly pay it to have my very own BB-8. You can read more about it HERE.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Harry Potter Book & The Universe is Amazing

There were rumors of this happening but I never expected the news we got today.. J.K. Rowling will publish eighth Harry Potter book. But it's not what most people expected. Yes it is new stories about Harry Potter and his family but it's not a novel. It will be a book version of the screen play she wrote for the new Harry Potter and the Cursed Child part 1 and 2 play that's opening up later this year in London. My understanding is that it's going to be in play form.. so like a script. It's also my understanding that they are going to release two version as most plays started with one script "special rehearsal edition" and then after doing a few shows refine the script/play "definitive collector's edition" so they plan to release this revised version at a later date.  Of course I'll be buying both of these books. What's even more exciting is the first book will be released on July 31st of this year.. only a few months away.

I've always been a big fan of Astrology, I guess it goes hand in hand with my love of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I came across this amazing video about our universe and beyond and just had to share it with you all.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

New Trek, My Lekku and Fuller House

Today CBS announced that Bryan Fuller will be the co-creator and show runner for the new Star Trek TV series. You can read the full story HERE. I am super excited by this news. I'm a HUGE fan of Mr. Fuller. The fact that he wrote for Deep Space Nine and Voyager should be enough proof that this new series is in good hands. But he also has gone on to create some amazing TV series including Dead Like Me, Hannibal, Wonderfalls and one of my favorite TV series of all times Pushing Daisies. I can't wait to hear more about his new Trek series.

While I was at work this morning I got an notification letting me know that my Lekku were delivered to my apartment. I didn't like the idea of leaving this huge box sitting outside my apartment door all day and the fact that I was super excited to see them, I went home on my lunch and open them up and check them out.

I opened the box and slowly removed them, they looked amazing. Of course I had to immediately put them on but realized that there was a large amount of foam that had to be removed before they could fit snugly on my head. It took several attempts but I eventually got enough out and a tight fit. They look even better on and I have to say they are a bit heavier then I expected but I really don't know what I expected. Wearing these will definitely help me get into character. I can't wait to finish my Twi'Lek cosplay. I hope to premiere it at Wondercon but it's more likely going to be San Diego Comic Con.

I came across this really cute rat video. It was showing how great rats can be as pets and it really got me thinking about getting rats again for pets. I've had many of them in the past and have loved them. I have been lonely as of late and really didn't want to get a cat or a dog (since I live in a small apartment) so I figured rats would be perfect. I'm gonna start looking into rescue and adoption places.

The last thing I want to share with you guys is the trailer for Fuller House. I wasn't a huge Full House fan but I did watch quite a bit of it back in the 90's so I'm looking forward to this new Netflix series.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Magicians Gets A S2 & New Captain America Trailer

I was super excited when I read that Syfy's The Magicians was renewed for a second season. I have been really enjoying season one so far. It's slower then most of the shows I love but the characters are interesting enough and the story is compelling that I keep coming back week after week. We're only three episodes in so far (fourth one airs tonight) but as I've said it's pretty fantastic and I can't wait to see where the story goes.

Because yesterday was the Super Bowl not only did we get great commercials but we got several new trailers for the summer blockbusters.. I posted the one for X-Men: Apocalypse yesterday and now they released a new Captain America: Civil War trailer. This looks amazing.. I will always be team Captain and will stand behind him 100%. This is going to be a tough movie to watch as it's going to be hard to watch friends fighting friends. I don't know how it will all end but they are making The Infinite Wars so I know the team will get back together for that fight at least.. but what will their relationshps be like when the dust settles.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypses Trailer

Check out this awesome new trailer for X-Men: Apocalypses. This originally aired during the Super Bowl. I have loved all the X-Men movies (yes even X-Men III) but I have really liked this "rebooting" of the series. First Class, Days of Future Past and now Apocalypse.. I can't wait.

NerdStrong Takes On Vasquez Rocks

Today me and a group of friends from NerdStrong went to Vasquez Rocks. I have been there many times (since I lived so close to them a few years ago) but this was everyone else first time. The adventure started off a bit rocky as parking can be confusing and I guess I wasn't clear enough for our meet up point so it took nearly an hour to gather everyone in the right location and what made matters worse is that cell phone reception in sketchy at best there. But once everyone was together we started by climbing the main rock (actually named Vasquez's Rock), it's the one that most people recognize from all the TV shows and movies.

This is always a fun climb though it can be daunting as it gets pretty steep and there isn't much to hold on to but it's well worth the climb to get to the top. About half of the group decided to give it a try while the others found another rock close by to climb instead.

After climbing the rock we started our 2 hour hike. I have been all over this park so I knew where I wanted to take these guys. I wanted to do a large loop so we didn't have to repeat any sections but as we got to the turning point the sun as going down and the park closed at sundown so we decided to just take the quickest way back but as I said I didn't want to go the same way so I tried to improvise and got a lost a few times.. well not actually lost but we had to backtrack and find a different way off of a cliff.

Overall it was a great adventure. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the hike and were excited to do it again. I think next time we are going to try and dress up in some Star Trek uniforms and get some nice group photos.

Afterwards Lauren, Shannon and I went out and grabbed a bit to eat before calling it a day.