May 6th, 2013


spring camp

The dojo spring camp was tremendous fun. We had our one fourth-degree black belt there (though he had to leave midday Saturday to attend a wedding), five second-degrees (including me), two first-degrees, two yellow belts, and two advanced blue belts.

Friday we checked into the house -- it's a lake house in the Catskills with a mess of land behind it -- and then had an afternoon workout, which was a nice little review class. All the training we did was done outside. Then dinner -- all the meals were provided by excellent local restaurants who fed us very well -- then an evening stretch-and-meditation workout. After that we just had some fun hanging around, which included card tricks, ping pong, and a karate-themed Jeopardy! game.

Saturday was the big day. We started the day with a run, then breakfast, then a morning workout that was mostly kata (Shihan took some video of that, including me and the other second-degrees doing Koryu gojushi ho, which I hope to be able to share soon). One of the great things about training outdoors is that we can do bo techniques with full staffs, instead of the jo staffs we usually settle for in our small, low-ceilinged dojo. It was a true pleasure to be able to swing loose...

After lunch, we had some free time, then the "Navy SEAL" workout. It wasn't really that, but it was pretty damned intense. We were broken down into four teams of three people each (two black belts, one color belt), and each team had to run the following course three times: run around the house while throwing a medicine ball back and forth among ourselves; put on bag gloves and each of us has to punch a large pad 100 times while one other team member holds the pad and the third one does pushups; run down the hill, doing at least one roll while running down; take the canoe out onto the lake, row it across to touch the dock on the other side and then row back; run back up the hill; pick up a (very heavy log) and rotate it around 360 degrees; do ten burpees (this is the style of burpee we did); then grab a kettle bell (weight anywhere between 10 and 35 pounds -- I went with the 25-pound one) and do ten swings with it (you start holding it with both hands between your knees and swing it up until your arms are parallel to the ground, then back down). Our team came in fourth, which is mainly due to the fact that neither Vivian nor I had ever been in a canoe before; Senpai Dayana was very patient in explaining how to operate the fershlugginer thing to us, but our total inexperience in canoeing pretty much screwed us up for everything else. But we showed excellent spirit, and I'm quite proud of how our team did.

After dinner Saturday we had another stretch/meditation workout. Those two evening workouts were the parts I was most looking forward to. While I'm generally pleased with my strength, my stamina, and my technique, my flexibility is shot to shit. The intense stretches we did in these two classes were magnificent and did wonders for making me feel all limber and stuff.

Saturday night we sat around a big bonfire in the back and ate cookies and marshmallow, drank our alcohol of choice, and generally had a wonderful time just enjoying each others' company. Sunday morning was another workout. This was less formal and included sprinting, some self-defense, and finally a tug-of-war of men vs. women. Mind you, there were seven women and only four men, and we've got some strong women in our dojo -- the women kicked our asses, even after Shihan joined us to help out.

After doing a final run-through of cleaning and packing, we had fun with a weapons training class, which included methods of defending yourself against punches, kicks, knives, and guns -- basically real-world defense training -- and then we did our usual archery competition. That's a nice humbling experience, as none of us are all that great at archery, but it's fun.

It was a wonderful wonderful time, and I'm really glad I was able to make it this year. (Last year's spring camp was the same weekend as RavenCon, so I couldn't do it.)
  • Current Music
    "Two Short Planks" by Ian Anderson
NYY, melky

man, are the Blue Jays not good on the Pinstriped Bible

The Blue Jays are a leading pick to dethrone the Yankees from the AL East crown, but they're in last place five weeks in with the second-worst record in the league. I look at their fall on my latest Pinstriped Bible blog.

An excerpt:
The Jays haven't even been in any danger of being a good team so far. They've only won one series, and split another. They've lost every other series, including their sweep at the hands of the Yanks, not to mention losing two out of three to the Red Sox by a combined score of 20-11, and a four-game stretch where they didn't score more than one run per game.

Most of it's on the offense. Jose Reyes was doing great until he was sidelined by injury, and the rest of the team features all of one player with an OBP that doesn't make you wince: Adam Lind at .391 (entirely on the back of his 15 walks, as his BA is .226). Everyone else is under .340. J.P. Arencibia is hitting home runs, but doing nothing else (a .256 OBP and a .513 SLG), Yes, we're only five weeks in, but when ESPN's team page lists Melky Cabrera's .252 as your team batting average leader, you're doing something wrong.
  • Current Music
    "Wond'ring Aloud" by Jethro Tull

a nice piece on the Iron Man panel

Hannah Means-Shannon wrote an excellent piece on the "Iron Man at 50" panel that I participated in last week alongside Denny O'Neil, Matt Fraction, Stuart Moore, Marie Javins, and moderator Danny Fingeroth.

Money quote:
Getting a bunch of people so versed in IRON MAN and AVENGERS history into one room for a couple of hours, especially those with writing and editorial insights, was a pretty remarkable thing, and those moments in which the panellists seemed to be creating a kind of organic oral history of Iron Man as a character were particularly illuminating. It suggested that they, too, had certainly bought into the “magic realism” of the character, and felt as connected to him as they might to a living human being. Maybe even more so, since they’d helped to craft and influence his personality over time through their own insights. They had all become fans of Iron Man in different ways, but the result was the same: a very personal relationship with one of the most flawed and fascinating characters in the Marvel universe. On the eve of the premier of IRON MAN 3, establishing just what has kept Stark alive as a character for so long, his ability to adapt and change, and his drive for personal redemption, couldn’t have been more relevant. Hearing these pros relate many of the same questions and responses that readers and fans of the movies generate only confirmed how universal Iron Man has become, partly due to their own work making him as human and as complicated as possible over the years.
  • Current Music
    "No Lullaby" by Jethro Tull