Review: Book – The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes

9 Jul

I grew up admiring superheroes. I am one of the 98% of my generation who grew up consumed with one superhero or another. For me, the very first superhero I admired was Sailor Moon. God, I thought she was so cool. She was lazy, bad at school, and a little boy crazy, except at night she would transform into this amazing superhero who could save the world if she just believed in herself. In a nutshell, I saw myself in that cute little blond girl. When you’re ten years old, that’s pretty powerful stuff… and when you feel inadequate the way I did growing up, it’s really easy to say to yourself:

“Hey! Maybe I’m a superhero too.”

I wished, and wished and wished with all my might that I would wake up one morning and something would be different about me, but every day I got a little older, and a little more jaded. Around the time that I turned sixteen I realized there was nothing super about me, and that I would never be the superhero I wanted to be so much. So, for years I waded around in a haze. I felt almost compelled to submit to the mediocrity of life. After all… what’s the point in being super when everyone else is trying to be super too? How can I compete when there are so many other people in the world who are way better than me.

Well, that was the mentality at the time. It was so easy to become a member of the flock, and I had some dreams that just seemed so impossible. In fact I still do.

That’s why I think if I ever met Deepak Chopra, we’d be really good friends.

The book I most recently read was The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheros, which Deepak wrote in conjunction with his son Gotham (yep, pretty much the most badass name ever). Gotham, you see, is the head of Virgin Comics, and worked with his father to retool the book The Seven Laws of Success to appeal to a different market.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s some DEEP stuff in this book. There were a couple things that Chopra outlines about superheros that made me realize that without even acknowledging it, I was on my way to becoming a superhero… or at least possessing the mentality of one. He outlines the importance of mental balance and discipline, and how acting with the heart in conjunction with the head will always achieve positive results.

The book isn’t very long – maybe only 165 pages, and it outlines some very important life lessons that people, young and old, should give some conscious thought to. Learning how to act with patience and consistency to achieve success, maintaining a healthy mental state and body to be able to react to anything that may come your way, and taking our hardships and using them to make us better, yet at the same time, maintaining our ego.

Deepak acknowledges that there are a massive amount of people who just float through life. It’s not even by any decision of their own, but some people don’t acknowledge their consciousness and their reality on the same level that others do. In fact, some people downright despise the idea of philosophy and would rather try to maintain a blissful state of being with themselves for as long as possible, (which usually lasts somewhere into your 40’s). Thing is, personal reflection, honesty, and improvement should be a part of all our lives. I think more than anything else, this is what the book is made to outline.

So, will I ever be Sailor Moon? Probably not… but maybe it was never important to be a superhero, so much as it is to feel like one. I actually kind of do.

Next time, I’ll be reading a book that deflates my massive, massive ego.

Kidding! Next book review is “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery

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On Death, Jackasses, and Cruelty, and How All Could Have Been Easily Avoided.

25 Jun

For those of you who know me well, you’ll know that I do not find myself above the low-brow humour of toilet jokes, raunchy humour, or bad comedy movies. In fact, the ‘flopping-dick’ scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall goes down in history as one of the few times I laughed so hard that pee came out.

One of the other times can be claimed by this man:

Ryan Dunn.

Now, seeing as this blog of mine is hardly timely enough to be a news blog, it’s safe to say that you already know that this poor soul had a very poor lapse of judgement and decided that he was going to drive his Italian sports car home after having a few too many drinks. He died in the wee hours on a Monday morning, killing himself and his passenger instantaneously. I’m not here to judge him, since I know that poor lapses in judgement happen to the very best of us. In fact, all of the drinkers I know have admitted to having driven after what was probably one too many drinks. That being said, whenever I mention the death of Ryan Dunn, I find myself kind of appalled by what people have been saying.

It hasn’t been rare for me to hear things like: “What a fucking moron!” or, “Well, didn’t see that one coming”. Often we’re all a victim of our poor judgement, and rarely are we subjected to the amount of hate that this man received after losing his life. I found it pretty deplorable, and to be quite honest, I think regardless as to how Ryan Dunn died, he deserves a tonne of credit.

Love it or hate it, the Jackass franchise of television shows and movies, devoted themselves to entertaining a world full of misfit kids, who couldn’t always find humour in the lukewarm comedy of today’s sitcoms and rom-com movies. I myself don’t think I ever laughed during a single episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” or god forbid one of the newer additions like “The New Adventures of Old Christine”. We of the MTV generation (namely the Gen Y’ers and the younger Gen X’ers) found grit and diabolical substance in the Jackass franchise, and we became a generation of Jackasses. Somehow our lives began to revolve solely around humour… and growing up in the kind of world that we did, it’s not hard to see why.

Ryan Dunn and the rest of the Jackass guys were little rays of brainless sunshine lighting up the tame and unadventurous worlds of young people everywhere.

To everyone who scoffs, and says good riddance to the life of Ryan Dunn, I ask that you consider the fact that this was a man, who although vulgar, had a wife that he was desperately in love with, did his best to make his friends laugh, and took his job entertaining people very seriously, so in the end, can you say he was that much different than you?

Everyone makes poor choices, and my mother always used to tell me, “Chantalle, we make a choice, and we either reap the benefits or suffer the consequences of that choice”. Well… Mr. Dunn, you made a choice, and we have to suffer with the consequences, but you were one hell of a funny dude, and I hope with time, everyone comes to realize that you were loved, and that we’re all the same.

If you feel yourself so inclined, please donate to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Review: Super 8 – Monster Movie Magic at its Finest

12 Jun

Before I get into this, I just want everyone to know that I’ll be keeping my movie reviews as spoiler free as humanly possible.

Now, I’ll just state right here that some people are confused by the meaning of the title, and sit in hopes that it’ll get explained in the film. Well it won’t, so allow me to clarify. Super 8 is a both a style of film and camera that became popular toward the end of the 1970’s due to its compact size and relative durability. The kids in the movie are shooting a short film using a Super 8, and the leading conflict in the film is accidentally caught on said camera, hence the name of the film.

Before this film even begins, you should know that it’s a collaborative effort between Amblin Entertainment (Spielberg) and Bad Robot Productions (Abrams). Spielberg of course having given us some amazing monster movies in the past, known for making excellent casting choices and portraying children with the depth and perception I think is deserved. Abrams is known for his attention to detail, and amazing development of suspense. These two were a winning combo from the get go, particularly for this genre of movie.

I saw the film the day after it had come out, and already was getting people’s perceptions of the film. Many were saying that it reminded them of the feeling they got when they watched E.T. for the first time. I could definitely sense that here. There’s the feel of small town America, and the impact of a closely knit community, even within the first minute of the film. Also, there are children, but not just any children. These are child stars in the rough. If you’re worried about the fact that there are children in this movie, don’t be. These are some of the most talented kids I’ve ever seen in film. There was not a cheesy, bad acting moment to be had here. Each character carried their own weight regardless of age or amount of screen time they were given.

In addition, the film is beautifully shot, and although the professional cameras used were pretty industry standard (Panavision), the additions post production are both believable and add just a touch of surrealism to the film. First noted is Abrams telltale trademark, the lens flare. Those of us who saw the recent Star Trek reboot will know exactly what I’m talking about. Some hate it, I on the other hand, absolutely love it. Granted, the lens flare was not used as often in this film as in Star Trek, but they can be found expertly dotted around action scenes as the cameras pan over an extreme long shot, or in between the faces of the dumbstruck children.

Another interesting thing to point out, is that regardless of the age of the starring characters, there is an immense amount of terror to be felt in this film. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by telling you that there’s a scene including a vicious train wreck. With a whole bunch of children running around, it’s easy to see how everything could go terribly wrong at this point, but you’re relieved when everyone seems to have made it out alright.

Then, of course, there’s the monster. As with Abrams last monster movie, Cloverfield, there was much speculation over what this new creature would look like. It seemed like every other week there was a new hoax coming out, some towering menace of a creature that would rip and tear through anything that got it it’s way. That’s just not so in this case… But hey, I don’t want to spoil too much about the thing either. What I will say is that yes, it’s terrifying, but it’s not what you’d expect, which is something I’ve come to appreciate about both Spielberg and Abrams. They keep you guessing, and that’s half their appeal as movie makers.

There were most certainly moments in this film where I was trembling on the edge of my seat. There were also moments when I cried, seeing as some of the more personal subject matter was a little close to my heart, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide. If you’re interested, or you’ve liked any of Spielberg’s or Abrams’ previous works, them go check this out. It’s definitely a wild ride.

New Look, New Ideas, New Life into a Fairly Old Blog

12 Jun

As some of you know, I’ve had this blog for a pretty long time. Probably going on about a year, and aside from my occasional travel posts, I’ve never done very much with it, seeing as I never felt as though I had a very eventful life.

Well, as some of you might have been able to tell, that’s changing.

My close friends and family have been keeping tabs on me, and have been pushing me to stay creative as I carve out a new life for myself. Some of you might know that after my mother passed, I quit the job I had been working on and off for nearly ten years. I emerged feeling a little like Brooks Hatlen from The Shawshank Redemption. I felt defined by the job I had, and needed to reclaim my identity.

Road Trips are wonderful things. While I will probably never tell another living soul about some of the conversations I had with my inner self on that trip, I will say that it really brought me back to life, and helped me to reconnect with the kind of person I’ve become. I like the person I’ve become, and there’s a lot more to me than travel and adventures.

So! the face of this blog (if you haven’t already noticed), has changed quite a bit. The name and layout have changed, but its content will too. I plan on including a lot more of my interests and personal experience in this blog, and who knows, I might even dabble a little bit in video blogging.

In the near future, I hope that you’ll take a look at the book, movie, and comic book reviews I’ll be writing, along with travel/adventure updates, personal improvement updates, and general points of interest. It’s my hope that over the next couple months, I can really get the ball rolling on this thing.

Thanks for your patience. Hopefully I’ll have some great stuff up very soon.

The City

29 Apr

In my heart there is a city

some glowing, spanning metropolis

that beams through the darkness

to shatter the clouds above the earth

and move beyond them, as a sieve

harvesting the emitted rays.

And in the streets the cars streak by

horns blaring with impatience

yellow cabs that are more mighty

steed then heavy, maniacal machinery

and they carry their flesh and blood

cargo to the edges of suburbia.

And as the world spins it passes in

a blur of shattered voices in electric light

I fear as I watch it all pass that I may

never have enough time to capture the

beauty locked within it; that no one,

save for myself, can actually see.

In my heart there is a city

that rages with my unyielding complexity

and is closed away, alive and solitary

it runs the business of my soul

and the commerce of my spirit

it is the raving core of my aspects

it is the city, and it is me.

Day 4 – Las Vegas and the Mojave Desert

26 Apr

Las Vegas is important to me. Not because I had a blast there once upon a time with my friends, or because I got blotto after a Cirque de Soliel show. Las Vegas is important to me because it was the only place my mother and I ever went to by ourselves… regardless of the fact that she spent at least a few hours a day on her blackberry, communicating with the office.

I took this picture on my birthday, in front of the Mirage. I walked around with my mother in relative silence as we strolled down the strip. It was Friday, so technically she was still working, regardless as to where she was. I took a tonne of other pictures on the strip that day back in 2007. If you want to see them, CLICK HERE.

While the Friday wasn’t all that great, the rest of the weekend was jam-packed. My mother and I were both HUGE Beatles fans, and so we went to see “LOVE” by the Cirque. We went to expensive restaurants and shopped at Caesar’s palace. For the rest of the weekend by mother was acting like the big kid that everyone knew her to be, and it was all for me. It was my 21st birthday, and not many people can say they got tipsy with their mother while stumbling home from a musical. In all honesty, I didn’t think she would actually enjoy herself as much as she did.

While we were there we stayed at Treasure Island, and driving cross country, I knew that during my stop over in Vegas that was exactly where I was going to stay.

Having spent the day driving through Colorado and Utah, I was tired by the time I got to Vegas, even though it was only six o’clock in the evening. Las Vegas is a busy city, and because 6P.M. is shift change at a lot of casinos, the streets were busy. Once I had finally left my car with Valet, and stood in line at check in, it was nearly 7P.M. before I had made it up to my room – a single with king sized bed and a view of the Wynn Hotel across the street. There was definitely a sense of luxury, but there was also a huge sense of loneliness.

Unless you’re a local, you NEVER come to the casinos alone, and as I wandered around the casino floor, I felt a little out of place. I spent 30$ on slot machines and got room service before crashing out at 10:30 in the world’s most comfortable bed.

I woke up at 6:45 the next morning and snapped this picture.

I had some time in the morning, so I had some Starbucks for breakfast, walked around the “Fashion Show” mall (your one stop shop for all your overpriced clothing needs), and went to Sephora to pick up a few things.

[SIDENOTE! There was a FABulous old man working at Sephora who gave me a handful of samples and spoke with the best lisp I’d ever heard. After a few perfect suggestions from him, I told him he was my soulmate and he hugged me. If you’re ever in Vegas go to Sephora and see if he’s there. He made my trip]

So at about 1P.M I took off from Vegas and started off through the Mojave, and I’d have pictures for you guys, if it weren’t for the 60 mile an hour gusts and sand storms that were roaring through the desert on that particular day. In fact, the ride was so rocky that the four hour trip exhausted me twice as much as any of the twelve hour drives had. However, I did manage to get this video of my drive down the strip, which is a surreal experience.

Upon getting to Irvine, I was very happy to know that it would be a good solid month before I’d have to make the long trek home. But now that I’ve had some time to digest the trip, I’m glad I took it, and I’m almost excited to take it again. My trip back in going to look a little similar, but different none-the-less. I’ll be taking an extra day or two to come back so that I can do more day trips/wait out stormy weather. For a taste, I’ll divulge that I’ll be staying in Sedona, Arizona to see some of the Grand Canyon, I’m have to make it to Woody Creek Colorado, the town outside of Aspen where Hunter Thompson called home, I’m going to try to make it to Yellowstone National Park, as well as Mount Rushmore.

I’ll be blogging a couple more times about California, because… well, I love it here.

This won’t be the last you’ve heard of me!

Day 3 – Colorado and Utah

18 Apr

Finally, something to look at!

While driving through Nebraska, I wished for anything besides cows and these strange mangrove type trees that twisted themselves into dark, ominous looking forests by the south side of I-80. And while memories of Nebraska haunted me in the morning, I woke up, bleary eyed, excited to start my Colorado adventure.

Instead I awoke to this…

That, my good friends, is Denver, Colorado. In the background you’re supposed to see a gleaming stretch of beautiful, never ending snow topped mountains, glittering in the sunlight. Not only was it cloudy, but I was caught in morning rush hour traffic.

It was about this time that I had another “WTF” moment. Who ever guessed that I’d be sitting in rush hour traffic, waiting to drive through the mountains on a cloudy day?

The woman at the Best Western told me to be careful driving through the mountains. In addition to the clouds there was also the news report that there had been some fallen rock on the highway…

Rocks? Rocks that fall on the highway? Wonderful…

So, I started off on my journey, nervous. Not entirely sure of what lay ahead on the road in front of me. After a few moments of stressing out about it, I came to discover that this peril was kind of the point to the whole trip.

Sometimes adventures aren’t actually adventures when you’re in the midst of them. In fact most times, adventures are only adventures after the fact.

So I drove on, excited for what would befall on this trip into higher altitudes.

At first, I felt as though I was driving into some fantasy world. That may exhausted little hatchback with somehow magically transform into a horse, as I would emerge from the clouds, into the light above. I weaved through mountain roads, steeply graded hills curved around the sides of grassy hills. There were houses tucked away from the world up here, gargantuan in stature. I imagined that the super-rich hid themselves away up here in their own little fantasy world.

Traffic flowed smoothly in a loosely packed crowd, but with every exit the pack of cars thinned, and thinned, until it was just me, blazing through my own private wilderness.

The clouds broke, the wind calmed, and the sunlight emerged at seven-thousand feet above sea-level.

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Everything was so unlike anything I had ever seen before. The endless blue sky, the snow covered mountains, all things that I’d only gawked at in photographs, and never with my own eyes. Somehow, for some reason I didn’t think the differences were going to be that monumental… but they were.

Photographs are great – they assist story tellers in telling their stories. But I can’t even begin to tell you how different it is to experience the stories for yourself. Actually laying eyes on this place is by far an away a thousand times more breathtaking than any photograph. This slide show really does it very little justice.

Five hours later, I was sad to be leaving Colorado, but excited to see what Utah had to offer. But, unfortunately, I had been so encapsulated by Colorado’s beautiful that I didn’t notice that I had only a quarter tank remaining as I left the state. I also failed to notice the “60 miles to next gas” sign at the last service station.

And while the first hundred or so kilometers of Utah was boring (and DESOLATE) the next several hundred kilometers took me on a trip that I would have never expected in a million years

Massive hurdles of red rock sprung up from the ground, the highway curving around them like a skier carving a trail through moguls. Canyons that left me speechless seemed to be around every corner and there was a couple moments where I had a hard time staying on the road from the amount of pictures I was taking. Imagine my devastation when my camera decided it was going to run low on batteries.

I did however manage to capture I shot of something I had heard about earlier this year.

Below and on the right you’ll see a picture of something called the Ghost Rock.

The Ghost rock is the highest point in the formation called the “San Rafael Swell” at 7,405 feet. Unlike the rest of the rock in this area, it’s stark white, having been mysteriously calcified overly the last few million years. The area is rich in diverse geology, and if you’re interested in learning more about the area, check out the wikipedia page HERE.

I took several more pictures of the area, so if you’re interested in seeing more, please CLICK HERE to take a look at an online photo gallery I’ve put together for you guys.

I was almost relieved to see Vegas as I passed through a small portion of Arizona, but checking in at Treasure Island was kind of a pain in the ass. These two Japanese business men tried talking to me in very broken English for a few moments. All I know was that they were very excited, as I could tell by their multiple declarations of the word “Sugoi!” (Which is akin to an English speaker saying “Awesome!”)

I was just happy to have a king sized bed and a large, flat panel television with my name on it as I headed into the final stretch of my journey.