The Five People You See in The Gym

It’s that time of year where we dust off the gym memberships we got at the beginning of the year because for some reason we forgot that summer typically calls for less clothing.

Morally obligated we trudge to the gym.

Here are some of the people you’ll meet while you’re there, sweating and suffering from your own success:

The Girl In The Stretchy Pants

She’s always on the Stair Master, GNC bottle in the compartment, white iPod headphones and a bright candy colored iPhone tucked into the pocket you didn’t know yoga pants came with. This one is constantly being stared at and you’re somewhat guilty of the same but it’s more out of being a gym newbie than envious of her physique. You can typically tell what her motivation is and you’re not in a particular space to judge but it’s like, c’mon, what’s the point of going to the gym if you’re just going to do that and not really do anything except text someone and casually glance up at the flat screens showing daytime talk shows on mute. You’re not being judgey but you know her Instagram feed is made up of selfies, hookah and some random shots of her living her beautiful life. Oh and the hashtags. SO. Many. HASHTAGS.

Her spirit animal:  Anyone wearing yoga pants

Playlist:

Beyonce- Partition

Iggy Azalea – Work

Rihanna – Pour It Up

Katy Perry ft Juicy J – Dark Horse

Jennifer Lopez ft French Montana – I Luh Ya Papi

The New Workout Plan

They’re a little heavier than they meant to be, a little slower and maybe saggier but goddamnit, they’re doing it, they’re really doing it. Walking a negative two miles an hour, they’re sweating and gripping the sides of that treadmill with their old school headphones on and super loud music but they don’t care. They’re retired, they’re trying to get off that heart medication and feel a little better about themselves. You’ve got to admire them because they’re going to outlive you since they managed to keep up with going to the gym while you made up at least four good reasons why you couldn’t go to the gym but had five good reasons to hit that open bar without a second thought.

Their spirit animal: The Little Engine That Could

Playlist:

Marc Anthony: Vivir Mi Vida

Theme from Rocky

Katy Perry- Roar (That song by the nice girl who talks about roaring)

Dj Khaled- All I Do Is Win

C+C Music Factory – Boriqua Anthem

The Gym Goon

They don’t move for anyone. They don’t understand excuse me and grunt when you push past them anyway to get the ten pound weights you’re pretty sure you’re going to regret picking up. They’ve got the extra large water bottle filled with something that looks like clam chowder. They’re staring intently at their reflection, pumping away and making the sounds you make when you’re trying to get between your couch and the plug without moving the couch too much. They then sweat everywhere, pat themselves on the back and leave all the way to heavy to move by a normal person weights scattered around like Lego pieces designed to cripple you before you can even start your workout.

Spirit Animal: Vintage Arnold

White Zombie- Super Beast

Kanye West – Stronger

AC/DC – Thunderstruck

Puff Daddy ft Busta Rhymes – Victory

Eminem ft Nate Dogg – Til I Collapse

The Lothorio

He strolls in wearing tight Addias pants, polo shirts and the thinnest looking shoes ever. He’s probably got on noise canceling Beats headphones or white iPod headphones and it’s blasting bachata. Yes. Soft latin music is blaring out of his ears while he picks up the heaviest looking weights on the rack, stands like he’s being drawn like one of Jack’s French girls and proceeds to lift them as though he’s making love to himself. If he’s not in a heartbreak hotel mood, he’s listening to dembow, which is also loud. For some reason, he’s come with a pack of friends. They’re all barrel chested and not in the way that says, “we’re the bastions of fitness” it’s in that “we spent money at the hookah bar and bought bottles because we can.” They pick fights in the strangest places. They are not the most interesting people in the world, just interesting to look at. Kinda like a car wreck.

Spirit Animal: Romeo Santos or Omega el Fuerte

Romeo ft Drake – Odio

Monchi y Alejandra – Dos Locos

Shakira ft  El Cata – Loca

Omega el Fuerte – Mambo Electrico

Maffio – No Tengo Dinero

The Success Story

That would be you because despite all of those hilarious stereotypes, here you are, three times a week, tired and maybe a little disheartened but dedicated. Sure, you’re not where you want to be just yet and maybe you keep forgetting to update your fitness app tracker with your progress but you’re starting to eat better and see a difference and that’s what counts. Each of these weirdos can offer some kind of inspiration for you as you get onto that treadmill, start that elliptical, ride the bike or lift five pound weights. We’re living longer than ever and we have to look good in the bodies we’re stuck with. So listen to your music, walk your walk, strut in there with your Lulemon pants, fresh Nike sneakers, brand new water bottle and work your ass off.

Ignore them. We’re all there for our own reasons. Keep up with it.

BONUS

DMX It’s Time To Pay Up

Where my dollars at…

93.9 WKYS

dmx

via RWS

Two years ago booking agent Heavy Rotation filed a lawsuit against rapper DMX after they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on child support and legal fees to have a lien removed from DMX’s passport for an international concert tour that never got off the ground

Heavy Rotation was among the many creditors listed in DMX’s 2013 bankruptcy filing, but because of inconsistent asset reporting his case was thrown out.

After the bankruptcy got rejected Heavy Rotation pounced on the chance to refile their debt claim and according to Re Tox just won a $244k default judgment against DMX after the rapper failed to respond to their lawsuit.

Grrrrr….

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The Fast and Furious Franchise Is A Superhero Movie

Warner Brothers unveiled the logo for the longest title in superhero movie history, Batman vs Superman:Dawn of Justice. Naturally, the internet was all over it, bagging on the decisively long title, the terrible logo and the confusion about WHY justice needed to be dawning to begin with.

It looks like when you smash a bug with a sneaker that has a pretty snazzy design on the sole

 

While promoting X-Men Days of Future Past, Bryan Singer sounded off on why the varied success of the Fox version of the Marvelverse in comparison to the Disney Marvelverse:

It’s very different universes. The appeal is different and to try and do the same thing… this in an ‘inbetweequel’, OK, of two ensemble films, Avengers and the Marvel movies are individual franchises based on major characters that’s why there are some Marvel characters in Avengers that don’t have their own movie, because I don’t know if they had their own movie anyone would be that interested.

DC/Warner Brothers have the unenviable task of taking beloved superheroes and making them work as a team, without the padding time of being able to launch standalone series in the same way Marvel launched their properties. DC essentially left their bags of money on Bats and Supes doorstep and walked away quietly, banking on the logo recognition and ability to sell millions of branded merchandise, not focusing on building an experience or enhancing their films in the way that Marvel has built out their titles. DC’s TV properties, by the way, have successfully introduced Green Arrow to the masses following the micro Justice League run in the later seasons of Smallville; Arrow, the Smallville spinoff is launching The Flash this fall. Both of these characters as well as Wonder Woman, who is yet to successfully launch in any medium, are members of  The Justice League but there is no word on whether they will appear in the film itself, Wonder Woman is confirmed but what she will actually do, if anything, remains to be seen. The DC/Warner Brothers team have to decided to take a group of people that are relatively unknown in the general movie going population and make them characters worth caring about while sharing the screen with Batman and Superman.

Sure, Marvel had standalone films before launching The Avengers but that has more to do with world building, telling a good story. It can be outlandish, seem like the strangest trip known to man but you CARE about where you’re going and that’s why movies are so good.

The Fast and Furious series may well be the finest piece of cinematic superhero storytelling we will see on screen.

The first movie, The Fast and The Furious centered around wildly attractive FBI Agent Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) infiltrating the allegedly impossible to infiltrate illegal street racing in Los Angeles via local family lunk Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel) and his band of import and muscle car driving goons. The movie is a candy coated tribute to the car porn dreams we all have while the characters have delight they are impossibly campy car movie with one liners, tight shirts, early 2000s rap-rock soundtrack and the emergence of the new action star in Vin Diesel.

2 Fast 2 Furious would follow, starring Walker and adding model/singer/fine smile owner Tyreese Gibson, the Mouf of The South rapper Ludacris and Eva Mendez to the cast as supporting characters in the growing sexy race car business. Set in Miami, the movie ups the stakes with drug trafficking, 80s level villains and a pretty intense chase sequence. These characters would serve to bolster the further the legacy of the Fast franchise, despite lacking Diesel in the lead role.

Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift would take the franchise across the world to Japan with a completely new set of characters. If you watch this one, you’ll see where the superhero element starts to take shape. Sean leaves Alabama to live with his father, stationed in Japan to avoid a lengthy jail sentence after driving too fast and too furiously through his small town. While there, he meets another American transplant in Twinkie, played by rapper Bow Wow, who’s got a thing for Jordans and street racing. The duo connect with local drifter (driver) Han and they naturally master the racing. What’s interesting about this is that Han references a racer he met in the States, a racer he never names but another character meets at the end of Tokyo Drift that brings us back to the States with The Fast and Furious.

We return to Los Angeles, where it all began where Brian and Dom are trying to solve the mystery of what happened to Letty, Dom’s girlfriend. They bring it back to the core group and reintroduce characters that appeared in the previous films, building Dom and his crew with a wild concoction of characters that support the cause of…driving fast and furiously. The races are bigger, the fights more drawn out and the shirts tighter. The film was even billed as New Model, Original Parts. It reinvigorates a franchise after Tokyo Drift which felt a bit out of left field for some audiences, despite having a tighter storyline than the other movies. The cars are extensions of the characters, as easily identifiable as a Bat Signal, Superman’s S (correction, the symbol for Hope).  You cringe when you watch them smash (these are seriously beautiful cars), when they appear just in the nick of time, you’re swept up in the emotion of the moment of these characters doing something insane.

By the time Fast 5 is released, you’re willing to accept every type of madness this series will throw at you and by the movie’s last act, you really do. This time around, Dom and his team are being hunted down by arguably the biggest superhero of all, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. They do not make shirts tight enough for this man. The team wind up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil veritable Robin Hoods in a city run by a corrupt official with Johnson’s Hobbs hot on their heels. Without spoiling much, let’s just say, you will be hard pressed to find a better argument for American made muscle cars and their engine blocks than when you watch them literally break the bank.

Fast and Furious 6 kicks up the entire series into overdrive from the first frame, hammering you with visuals, racing, snappy comebacks and yes, tight shirts. Adding women’s UFC fighter Gina Carano to the mix as Hobbs’ new partner joining Dom’s team of international super racers, the cheesy plot includes amnesia, character retcon and this scene:

The series that started as a wink and nod to the old racer movies of the 50s spawned into a massive multi-million dollar blockbuster by following the same simple elements that we as an audience love to see in a good popcorn movie: characters we like in improbably scenarios, doing insane things because it’s the right thing to do. Luke Evans’ Owen Shaw is on his Bond-villian A game against Team Torretto, giving sleezeball realness in skinny jeans, rolling around in an Aston Martin because why not, this is London and everyone drives luxury cars and using every type of fancy new technology at his disposal. As the above sequence shows, there is nothing more breathtaking than seeing a casually roar down the highway and nary a fig given for reality. You as the viewer are so engrossed in how perfectly impossible the entire scenario is, you’re at the edge of your seat, jaw open and wondering how the hell are they going to get out of this mess.

Naturally the final act is fan service and again, forgoing spoilers, it is something you would expect from a superhero movie.

Death is defied, physics ignored and shirts are tight.

What makes the franchise work at its base is how likable each character introduced are, despite occasionally bad dialogue, they are personalities that you may know. They can provide a bit of reassurance in finding yourself as a person in the world, much in the same way a superhero can inspire you to strive for more. The series as a whole combines impossible elements with improbably scenarios and impractical uses for cars but in a bizarre way, it all works. It’s the same reason we believe that Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern ring combined with his imagination makes him the defender of Earth as part of the Lantern Corps. It’s the same reason that we believe that Tony Stark’s Iron Man is a valuable piece of machinery. It’s the reason why X-Men were formed, why The Avengers avenge and what the Justice League stands for. We want to know that a group of people with a goal can accomplish anything, whether it’s legal or illegal, in tight shirts with aliases and winning, even if we have to suspend our belief.

Gal Gadot, Giselle in the FF series, was cast as Wonder Woman in the aforementioned Superman/Batman movie. A former Isreali soldier turned model, the actress has tall boots to fill as Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman. With so many calling her physique and appearance into question, Gadot has the unique opportunity to cross from regular car hero to actual super hero. How much of her we’ll see is still up in the air, but the hope is that we’ll actually get to see something special. Vin Diesel is the voice of Groot in Marve’s upcoming Guardians of The Galaxy. It doesn’t get more gangsta superhero than a talking tree. If two actors from these films are already comic book movie canon, accepting the characters and plots to the FF series can’t be all that far fetched now can it?

The Fast movies argue that comic book movies have a lot to strive for. They have to find the heart and soul in one character that can understandably, comfortably and confidently bring together a group of misfits, crooks, rogues and smartasses to convincingly make the mission one worth doing. You have to care about what’s going on, who they are and the journey you’re willing to go on when it comes to spending hard earned money on any of these big budget movies this summer and every summer to come. They don’t necessarily have to wear spandex and have super powers but if they’re attractive and wearing tight shirts it’s all good.

Mighty Morphin Diversity Rangers

It’s been said that television reflects our society’s evolution and cultural diversity; art imitates life and life imitates art. Many of us were fortunate to grow up during the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers craze of the 90s and with the recent announcement the series was being rebooted, the internet went into a frenzy not unlike the series initial run.

It was an innocent time where we jumped from our couches and high kicked the ever-loving snot out of a playmate (or an unfortunate sibling) until we were put on time out for knocking them over. The Rangers helped us develop an early interest in martial arts, in space travel and appreciate the art of kaiju monster movies of the 50s and 60s. The Rangers reveled in everything camp, super camp and mega camp but we never watched without learning a valuable lesson: anyone can and should be a hero.
The legend is simple: Jason, Billy, Trini, Kimberly and Zach were all high school friends are handpicked by floating head Zordon to be the guardians of Earth. With the help of their nifty Morphers and Zordon’s sidekick Alpha 5, they protect Earth from Rita Repulsa.

The initial Power Ranger uniforms were red, black, yellow, pink, blue with dinosaurs assigned to each.  The mysterious green and later fabulous white would join the team later, played by the same character. Fairly basic color palette but an interesting connection to how we are trained to respect the world: “I don’t care if they’re red yellow, blue or green with white polka dots, you have to respect them.” The truth is, you have to respect the Rangers because they were anyone and in essence everyone.

Like any good bad guy, Rita had her share of special friends. She kept a close circle of weirdos; Goldar, Squat and Baboo were the best yes men an evil space woman could ask for but no villain is complete without disposable henchmen. Where Master Shredder had his Foot Clan, Rita had her Putties, drab gray clay soldiers that were baked in a giant kiln and shipped to Earth to frequently bother the and torment the tax paying citizens of Angel Grove. They made strange gobble sounds as they kicked punched and flipped around being pains in the ass. They weren’t the best henchmen since a simple kick punch combo or fancy dropkick to the chest would destroy them but you get what you pay for and Rita always had a pile of them.

If the putties didn’t do their job, Rita would send in her ringer, some terrifyingly warped version of a Disney mascot flopping around downtown somewhere, causing problems until Zordon and the Rangers caught wind of them. Sometimes they were giant fish, creepy birds, or amalgamations of the stuff you found at the bottom of your junk drawer and if things got too rough, Goldar would volunteer as tribute. They were always conveniently sent to the middle of downtown Angel Grove, where they could knock over as many things as possible. Rent rates in Angel Grove must’ve been super cheap.

The Rangers would respond in kind with their hyper kinetic Morphin sequence, summoning their respective Zords and naturally, they would win. For all it’s cheesy special effects, awkward cuts, bad dialogue and terrible fight sequences, the Might Morphin Power Rangers gave us as kids something to cheer for.

Each of these members of the Rangers represent a segment of our lives that is commonly found in high schools, community centers and in the streets. Any one of us could be a spandex clad superhero pilot a Zord and save the world. We see that people have to band together to defeat common enemies, no matter how ridiculous they looked, because we were chosen to defend the Earth. They had the qualities needed to be a great leader, a warrior and champion for change. They knew of the Rangers but had no clue who they were, despite five kids wearing suspiciously color coordinated outfits to school. Those selected to be Rangers were all unique in their skills and had distinct personalities that almost mirrored the traits exhibited by their respective Zords.  It was a formula that worked.

The next crop of Rangers were shocked when Zordon pulled them to the headquarters and told them of their collective destinies, their Morphers handed to them by the same people they passed in the halls at school. By the time the series hit fever pitch and the Might Morphin Power Rangers movie was released, the Rangers had decidedly undergone a significant change in their starting line up. Kimberly, Trini, Jason and Zach left the team and were replaced by Aisha, Rocky and Adam. Tommy, who had been the villainous Green Ranger was now the heroic White Ranger and defacto leader of the team. Their Zords also changed. Gone were the dinosaurs and sabertooth tigers, replaced with bears, cranes, tigers and frogs. Interestingly enough, where the first Zords represented strength, size and power, the new Zords mirrored unique fighting styles and personalities. Tommy still got the best Zord; he went from the Green Dragon (which was basically MechaGodzilla but sshh) to the White Tiger Zord and a Morpher named Saba that spoke to him. Tommy was easily the favorite.

Yet despite the change in guard, the Rangers carried on with their core mission, defend the Earth, be all-inclusive, seek change, evolve and wear spandex. Just as the Rangers had changed, so had their enemies.  If Darth Vader was allowed to be restriction free evil, he may have been Lord Zedd, a power mad flayed man with a massive Z crown who took over the command as meanest guy in space. He played no games.  Zedd’s first order of business: He violently banished Rita Repulsa. He then rebranded the Puddies, as Z-Puddies, who were still the same putties with a Z on their chests, and commanding a bigger fleet of monsters.

He aligned himself with the bearded Purple Menace Ivan Ooze, who had managed to enslave the world’s adults (well, only Sydney, Australia’s adults) with his purple goo, Ivan’s Ooze. It seems like all is lost; it’s the perfect metaphor for what it’s like growing up. Here you are, young and working in the world only to be consistently knocked on your bottom almost daily. You want to give up but you can’t and won’t because there are far too many people depending on you and your team is willing to carry you though. The change in Rangers and Zords signifies the need to grow, let go, find yourself and trust that you are stronger than you feel.

Having struggled to find their new identities, destroy old Zords and become new heroes, the Rangers successfully defeat Ivan, send Zedd back to Rita’s old castle and have morphed (yes, that’s a pun) two different versions of the team into one cohesive unit.

This movie, while sounding simple, ultimately sets up the next chapters of the Power Rangers-verse. Since it’s launch in the States, the Power Rangers franchise has undergone dozens of changes, evolutions and developments that has taken it lightyears away from the original series but at it’s core, it’s still a series that encourages diversity, acceptance, teamwork and courage. While mainstream media seems to struggle with pan-ethnic casting, the Power Rangers have been flexible in casting ethnicities and genders in roles of leaders, villains and heroes. It is one of the few series on television that tells viewers, no one cares what you look like, you’ve got something that we need and we want you. That type of inclusion in a series can drastically change the way a child sees the world and subsequently create a real world hero from a basis of fantasy.  Granted, when Zach and Trini were serving as the black and yellow Rangers respectively, one had to wonder if it was intentional that the African American ranger was the black Ranger and the Asian-American Ranger was yellow. The kids were all different, male, female, black, white, they were all kids that represented the best of the human race when it came to the wild world of being a Power Ranger and they reflected the kids who obsessed over the series.

Despite poor costume to ethnicity ratios, each of the subsequent teams that would form under the many titles in the power ranger titles) feature racial and societal differences amongst the rangers exhibiting the same type of strengths and team ingenuity that made the originals such an effective squad. They’ve dropped the ball a few, okay, a dozen times, with newer updates to the Rangers mythology, the concept remains the same: Take kids that you would never expect to band together to fight in the protection of mankind, put them in spandex, have them run around in suits and be awesome.

Changing who we associate ourselves with can broaden our world views, accepting that inside every nerd, jock, smartass and gymnast is a hero and of course, the most important lesson of all…every time is Morphin time.