Dec 4, 2012

The mud run explosion:

Tough Mudder has been a fairly trendy commodity since it's debut in 2010.  In only 6 weeks, it was able to register 3000 participants for its first event.  And since that first event, it has expanded to many other states and other countries, still unable to feed the demand.  So, like many initially successful business plans, there are always immediate imitators.  Here are 5 similar (and less expensive) obstacle courses that have spurred existence because of the influence of Tough Mudder.

1. Warrior Dash
Warrior Dash is a shorter version of Tough Mudder.  It throws contestants through an obstacle course/mud run, but it is only a 5k event.  They claim the race will only take about 30 - 45 minutes.  For those looking for a shorter event, with the same after party, check out Warrior Dash.

2. Spartan Race
Spartan Race is for the serious competitors.  One of Tough Mudder's slogans is that their race is not designed to be competitive  but for camaraderie.  Well Spartan Race tosses that notion out the happy window and taunts its contestants to win.  One of the more versatile races, it offers a 5k run, an 8 -10 mile run, and a 10-12 mile run.  Then, there's the popular Death Race, with bragging rights of being uncompleted by 90% of its entrants.  For the more competitive, give Spartan Race a glance over.

3. CerebRun - Get Mental Mud Run
CerebRun is the most interesting and interactive mud run option.  Not only does this race claim to be a brutal course of 5-7 miles, but it includes puzzles and problems, that dictate the length and difficulty of the CerebRunner's course.  Their website provides an online quiz that includes puzzles and problems, designed to alleviate cognitive bias.  This is the only mud run to include puzzles and problems, and seems to have blended a very interesting mix of physical and mental events.

3. Rugged Maniac
Rugged Maniac looks to be a half-assed obstacle course, with a pathetic marketing scheme, an elementary sketched logo, and a minimally functional website.  It's a 5k run, probably exactly the same as Warrior Dash.  But the registration is cheap, which is one thing that it has going for it.

4. Hero Rush
Hero Rush is interesting.  It is influenced by the real-life experiences of fire fighters.  They haven't issued any events just yet, but from what it sounds, participants will be jumping in burning homes to save people.  Basically, firefighters are sweet, and so are fires.  Keeping a close eye on this one.

5. Run for your Lives!
Run for your Lives takes a different angle.  Another 5k, tucked in the woods, where zombies chase the participants.  The participants run with flags on their sides, like flag-football.  Then, people can sign up to be zombies and chase down the uninfected.

Clearly, these types of events and long distance obstacle courses have been with held from American society.  The sheer demand is proof of that.  So as of now, while the initial, thoughtless start ups are enjoying the quick financial gain, we'll have to wait to see what inventive tycoon can come through and really improve on what is becoming an overly trending experience.       

May 10, 2012

Why Marvel's The Avengers worked.

Marvel's The Avengers

Thesis: I thought The Avengers was going to blow, but it proved me wrong with a focused script and evenly distributed action.  

I was genuinely surprised that The Avengers didn't suck.  With a mix of characters, all equal in power (almost), all worthy of screen time and attention, I expected some shit-show, cinematic slop, with unbalanced character distribution.  Who was going to be the star?  Ironman and his wit?  Captain America and his leadership?  Hulk because he's simply awesome!  (Thor never had a chance)  But Whedon did a great job avoiding any of this turmoil, evenly distributing all the focus characters, and utilizing all of their talents to weave together a fine film.  They all genuinely felt involved through the entire film, without being over shadowed by one of the other personalities or characters.

Another trending feature in today's super hero films is the super hero bitching about being a super hero?  What?  Spider-man begging for his normal life to return, and the Batman doing a noble gesture by leaving Gotham?  This makes no sense to the average joe, but with a good script, an audience can buy into anything.  Fearfully, it seemed almost inevitable that The Avengers would experience something similar.  I could foresee Bruce Banner needing a shoulder to weep on for a complexion problem, or Tony Stark wanting to return to his bachelor days.  But thankfully, there were no moments of faggy bromance hogging screen time.  The characters all generally seemed to accept their super-hero nature, without any hesitation to ever jump into an action scene.  

And kudos to Whedon for knowing that his villain had to unleash some truly, brutal hell on earth in order to get this clan to work together.  I thought Loki was a poor villain.  The antlers were corny, and the chosen actor just didn't have the ruffled skin to be a villain.  Too baby faced.  But, he did unleash some demonic creatures that didn't mess around, and there were tons of them, making the final fight scene enjoyable.  

Overall, this film is a great comic film.  This is the result of a focused script that didn't wandering off into emotional trash-like territory.  Totally unrealistic, and on the brink of tongue-in-cheek.  But with these characters, it certainly should be.     

Mar 11, 2012


Thesis: Drive is a movie full of style, grit, flash, and well placed sound tracks, which help hide the very lacking plot lines, and the quiet and inconsistent main character.

I just finished watching the movie Drive, and here are the main points that I'd like to cover to discuss the film's literary merit:

a. the 80's them
b. precise visuals and sound
c. inconsistent main character
d. lacking plot

a.  The 80's theme IS very prominent (literature IS alive!).  I'm not sure if it was meant to be an 80's theme, or if it is stating that the 2000's are constructed of similar, shallow elements that have made the 80's so attractive to mass culture.  Regardless, the theme within the film (clothes and music) earned comparisons to Scarface.  Nowhere near comparable to the epic plot line and the in depth character study that Scarface offered, but comparable on the level that the time of which the film is engrossed in is so much a part of the film itself, that it ultimately acts as a tangible character with the film.  Because the retro theme was clearly so relevant and an intentional part of the director's scheme, that this proves to be a very prominent literary element within the film.

b. slow motion visuals perfectly synchronized with majestic scores and sound tracks, demonstrate exactly what Nicholas Winding Refn is trying to create.  The opening scene in the car, while Ryan Goesling's character, who simply goes by the name of "Driver," builds great anxiety for the audience, as one criminal is in the car, while they wait for the other.  The music introduction boars through the scene as driver releases a hammer from the inner sleeve of his shirt as he walks into a dressing room.  But one of the most mystical visuals was the shot gun blast through the bathroom window, causing an instant burst of crimson red through the separating cranium of an unsuspecting being.  The scene was shot in slow motion, presenting the beauty of a sensational explosion of innards for the audience to witness.  These are the elements that Refn offers the audience.  These are the elements that will cause viewers to review and rewind specific scenes.  These are the artistic qualities that Refn implies for his viewers.

c.  One quality that a story needs to have is a reliable character.  Not reliable in the sense that other characters in the film can rely on him/her, but in the sense that the audience can believe the actions, reactions, and logic that the character has displayed.  Drive does not offer this reliability.  Within the first scene, the main character is silent, smooth, and confident.  The audience believes that this character is in complete control of every situation that comes before him, which the main character does justify thoroughly with some kick-ass and grappling performances.  However, there are a few instances where things don't add up.  During the planned heist in the middle of the movie, the father was shot in the head, and fell dead before he could enter the car.  The main character, uncharacteristically, got out of the car, looking confused and unaware, appearing extremely vulnerable.  This inconsistency drastically hinders the film's reliablility and authenticity.  All literature will have reliable characters, characters that the audience can trust and expect to react the way that they have led the audience to beleive that they will react.

The main character's history appears to be completely irrelevent to the director, as nothing is ever presented.  There is not justification for why he wishes to assist the broken family, and aside from the lacking past, the main character is mute.

d. The plot line isn't interesting.  Some money gets taken from a guy who doesn't want it to be taken from him.  The main character's motive is to help a broken family, without any reason.  A well written script would have presented a more dynamic main character, involved with a more enticing and enthralling script.

Literary conclusion:

Drive offers great scenes, wonderful music, and very anxious situations.  It is a good movie, satisfying and enjoyable.  It challenges viewers with shocking moments of inhumanity and excessive violence, without immersing anyone with a short attention span into a twisting and clever plot line.  But without that plot line, it doesn't qualify as a film that could contend with the damning disease of time, as age will slowly dismember its entity.    

Feb 6, 2012

literary relief from Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbes

I've been reading some fairly heavy material lately, Cormic McCarthy, George Orwell, Raymond Carver, and Joseph Conrad.  I turned dark and morbid, remolding my aesthetics to reflect the remolding ethics that are undergoing constant fluxing and flexing.  I didn’t have a positive perception of existence, and was seeking something to help twist a U-turn, and bring me back to ignorantly blissful optimism.  It was time to open the pages of something lighter, easier, and more rewarding.  I considered Vonnegut, but decided to pass when I was overtaken by a landslide of color filled pages of Bill Watterson’s life work in an assortment of 4 books.  It was clearly an answer from something possessing more power than I could ever fathom.  I obliged, self-sacrificing my induction for the blabbering and contemplating quandaries of Calvin and Hobbes.  

And all that there was to discover was something omnipotent enough to bleach out the floundering effects of the pessimistic.

I started reading Calvin and Hobbes when I was 12.  The appeal was the similarity to being a little kid with an untamed imagination that took control of reality.  I always grabbed the irony of Hobbes becoming animated only in front of Calvin, and then becoming a stuffed tiger in front of everyone else.  I recognized the cliche of pretending that the older teacher was really a deformed space creature, trolling over the surface of a distant planet, attempting to induce innocent bystanders to the doctrines of mathematical unfulfillment.  It was comfortably clad to see that filthy Susie Derkins get pummeled and pelted with Calvin's assault of snow balls and water balloons, for the international offensive crime of being a girl.  And some of the most enjoyable scenerios were the snow men community, and all of their tribulations and assemblies, inclined from their personified cultures, scaling from global warming to induced poison.

But, as an adolescent, I wasn't able to pick up the more meaningful affects that were outlined inside of this playful pietry dish.  There's philosphy, politics, religion, and subjective meditation.  Which make these comic strips similiar to any of the other literary loaded publications, except that these are all spoken through the insight of a 6 year old boy.  Although, only 6, this certainly is the most mentally liberated to handle the grand and deep pondering behind all of these heavily debated topics.

There are moments where Calvin questions eternity and life after death, only to have Hobbes immediately redirect the focus to whatever hazardous activity they may be engaged with.  


Calvin uprises with demands for democracy and freedom within his own household, seeking to earn a respected voice from the totalitarian rule of common knowledge!

And Calvin attempts social reform with integrated rule and order, all devised from persistent pondering and frequent reflective gabbing.  


What’s most rewarding through the insight of Calvin, is that he’s still only 6 years old (with the help of Hobbes' comic relief).  The reader can always reflect on his deep insight and mental prowess, and ultimately conclude that these insights are the distribution of a 6 year old boy with a talking stuffed tiger.  The comic rounds up the same conclussions of all great literature that is birth from the most respected thinkers, writers, analyzers, and contemplaters, and filters these conclussions through the opinionated flesh mold of Calvin, the boy who’s still growing up, and too inexperience to completely understand everything that he wishes to claim that he does, something that can be related to the authors of the morbid conclusions from the dark side of expressive writing.  Hidden behind the Pulitzer Prizes, the national recognizition, and the permanent acceptance in the heralded literary community, these poets, writers, and expressive thinkers are none more than flesh-molds of human beings who impose their own opinionated conclussions towards the masses.  

All of which I someday desire to become.

But, the degree of intelligence embedded within the brush strokes and subtle conversations within Calvin and Hobbes provide for an honorable read, and certainly worthy of any adult's attention.

Jan 31, 2012

Primus: Green Naugahyde

As delightfully weird as ever, Primus delivers on all expectations, musically and lyrically.  With Les Claypool leading the charge, slapping, strumming, tapping, and even parading his fingers over his bass fret board, these songs deliver a boscage of musical exploration from an angle that is fuzzy from all standards of normalcy.  

Lyrically, Primus is just as bizarre, bringing to light the almighty Salmon Man, a boys promise to live in his father's shadow.  Erratically, presenting the Eternal Consumption Engine, a modern day critique of the consumers eternal desire to forever enter walmart and devour chinese merchandise.  

Primus often times gets reduced as a Les Claypool project.  Which, for the most part is accurate.  But the entire band shouldn't be casted to the shadows.  They are some of the finest musicians making music in the industry.  Drummer, Tim Alexander, taps and rapts on his high hat likely perfectly timed erratic tics that Les's characters are inevitably displaying.  

Primus divides listeners with either unquestioned appreciation and devotion, or to the other side of entire alienation.  In no way is Primus trying to replicate already recorded material, nor are they trying to accomodate to the seasonally sensative, searching for a good ballad to touch your heart.  Primus creates distinctively unique music, bending funk into ragged metal solos with heavy bass pedal thunder.  A truly fun and unpredictable jam band with white trash lyrics and reckless precision.  Green Naugahyde is a good expansion for any Primus library.  

And for those without Primus in their library, what better place to start.  

Jan 28, 2012

review anticipation...

heavy hooters!!! new Primus album!!!

(posting about a precursing post of an album review presents post-subject desperation.)