Editorials

Here are a collection of editorials I had written at my old site that I thought were worth preserving here.

Rebuilding a Superhero: Take Two, Part Two

by Aaron Einhorn

Here we are, one week into consistently focusing on fitness, diet, health and costuming.  I talked about my goals here and while we’re off to a slow start, it’s been an encouraging one. I managed to stick to my calorie budget (for the most part), exercised some, and, well, thought more about the costuming goals.

Fitness

When I weighed myself this morning, Sunday, January 28, 2018, I weighed 228. My goal weight is initially to get to 185 lbs. again, and from there, I may shoot as low as 165 – but a well-muscled 185 is perfectly acceptable. Last week, I weighed in at 231.9 pounds, so we’ve got almost four pounds lost.

I tracked my food intake this past week using the LoseIt app on my iPhone. I am using the app to set myself a goal of losing two pounds a week, which gives me a rough calorie budget of this past week of 1,857 calories per day. I am also specifically using the app to track my recommended levels of Fats and Protein. Results:

  • Sunday, January 21: 1,778 (-79)
  • Monday, January 22: 1,650 (-207)
  • Tuesday, January 23: 1,742 (-115)
  • Wednesday, January 24: 1,659 (-198)
  • Thursday, January 25: 1,781 (-76)
  • Friday, January 26: 1,639 (-218)
  • Saturday, January 27: 1,860 (+3)

I didn’t log any of my exercise in the app, which according to the specifics of the app, would have given me extra calories to eat.

I did not quite hit my goal of working out six days this past week. I did manage to run today (although that’s going to count for next week), and I did the  Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred, one time this week. I’m going to try to make sure I do work out with the video at least twice next week.

That said, I did manage to hit my step total every day this week.

Sunday: 10,326 steps.

Monday: 10,353 steps.

Tuesday: 30 Day Shred attempted using 5 lbs. hand weights for everything except the Chest Flys in the third interval, which I used 10 lbs. for. This was really rough, and I ended up modifying a lot of the exercises and taking breaks, but I did it. And I hit my step total of 10,095 steps.

Wednesday: 10,272 steps.

Thursday: 10,437 steps.

Friday: 10,798 steps.

Saturday: 11,955 steps, helped out by doing a Hero’s Alliance event.

Costuming

There was not a lot of progress on costumes this week, partially because of how they still haven’t even revealed the full version of the costume on TV yet.

There was, however, a Heroes Alliance event, so I’d like to show off two pictures to demonstrate my current status.

From a Heroes Alliance event in the Fall of 2012

From a Heroes Alliance event in the Fall of 2012

 

 

See the guy there on the right in the Superman costume? That’s me, six years and over fifty pounds ago. When the Ohio chapter of the Heroes Alliance started, I wasn’t the biggest or strongest guy on the team, or the most in-shape one, but I was in good enough shape that I didn’t feel bad putting on a pair of tights.

I felt good about my body, I was putting on muscle, and kids seemed to enjoy meeting me as Superman. All in all? It was a pretty good place to be in.

This is the goal. This is what I want to get back to. I may even re-add Superman to my line-up in addition to the Mon-El costume – that’ll all depend on how things are going.

Me as Doctor Strange this past summer

Me as Doctor Strange this past summer

This is me in the costume I’m currently wearing for Heroes Alliance events. And it doesn’t look bad – but you’ll notice that there’s a lot of loose fabrics and a very wide belt – all of which are designed to cover a multitude of sins. And even with all that, I am noticeably broader in the waist than I was as Superman.

Right there? That’s one of the main reasons I want to lose weight and get back in shape. I don’t like how I look when I see myself in the mirror stepping out of the shower. And I love being a superhero for kids with the Heroes Alliance – I want to be back to the point where I can do that without shame.

Here’s the other reason:

27500411_10156486272895616_5397329113206739044_oThis is my family. From left to right, it’s my sister-in-law, me, my step-mother, a family friend holding my niece, Mira, Christina, my Dad, Cordy, and my brother.

I’ve been given some less than fantastic health screening results recently – nothing bad enough to panic me, but bad enough to say “Dude, it’s time to fix this.” I love being a superhero for kids with the Heroes Alliance. I love being a father, a brother, a husband, and a son to these amazing people even more.

The transformation continues…

Rebuilding a Superhero: Take Two, Part One

by Aaron Einhorn
Hello Internet! It has been almost two years since I’ve touched this blog, but I’ve realized that it’s time to bring it back. And what better place to start than with trying to make myself back into a superhero.

You see, long, long ago, I created a column on Comic Hero News titled Superhero Transformation. This column existed to chronicle my efforts to get in shape and to build my first superhero costume in over a decade – Superman.

That effort was originally based around wearing the costume to San Diego Comic Con, but that costume ended up leading me into helping to create the Ohio Branch of the Heroes Alliance, and has led to a lot more costumes.

Of course, life being what it is, there have been changes since I originally dropped from 216 to 185 lbs. Changing work schedules and increased activity from my children has given me less time to work out, and bad food habits have crept back into my life.

I currently weigh 231.9 pounds. This has left me fairly disgusted with myself. I’ve gotten rid of, or at least stopped wearing, every superhero costume I own that involves tight clothing (and spandex is right the heck out.) And I have made several halfhearted attempts at eating better or exercising more, but none of it has stuck.

So, what changed? Two things. The first was getting bloodwork back, and realizing that as I am now in my forties, my body (my glucose levels, cholesterol, and other factors) has been trying to tell me that if I don’t make a change, I’m not going to make it another forty years. The other one, for all of the vanity behind it, has been a costume. Which is a horrible reason to try to get in shape, but it worked out for me okay in 2011/2012, so let’s see if we can make lightning strike again.

The costume? Mon-El. Specifically, the version of the costume from the CW’s Supergirl. This costume, right here.

Chris Wood as Mon-El (photo from The CW)

Chris Wood as Mon-El (photo from The CW)

Nothing keeps me accountable as much as a public log of my efforts, and so that’s what I’m doing again. This won’t just be a log of my fitness though, because that would be utterly boring and of no interest to anyone who is coming here for the superhero stuff. I will also be showing off my WIP for the costumes I’m currently working on.

Fitness

When I weighed myself this morning, Sunday, January 21, 2018, I weighed 231.9 pounds. This was before any exercise, showering, or eating breakfast. My goal weight is initially to get to 185 lbs. again, and from there, I may shoot as low as 165 – but a well-muscled 185 is perfectly acceptable.

My intention is to track my food using the LoseIt app on my iPhone. I am using the app to set myself a goal of losing two pounds a week, which at my current weight, gives me a rough calorie budget of 1,857 calories per day. I am also specifically using the app to track my recommended levels of Fats and Protein. For future weeks, I will be including my daily results on sticking to that goal.

I also intend to work out five days a week. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, it will be weight-training/circuit training. I’m starting off with using Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred, which was the backbone of most of my success last time around. I intend to add some more intense upperbody and ab exercises in the evenings of those days as well, but those will not be for a few weeks, because my arms are plenty sore right now just from doing that video yesterday.

On Mondays-Wednesdays-Saturdays (or Sundays), I am returning to running. I’m in training to run the Walt Disney World Star Wars: The Dark Side Challenge race in April. That will have me running a 10k on Saturday of the race weekend, and a half-marathon on the Sunday. I will also be helping as a coach at my daughters’ school for the Let Me Run program, a running-program for boys in grades 4-8 that trains them up to run a 5K. The 5K for our program is on May 6th, with classes beginning March 12. Once those happen, the weekly sessions with the boys will probably be my daily runs, but I’ll be doing long runs on the weekends to get ready for the Dark Side Challenge. And I’ll be doing morning runs until those sessions begin. My younger daughter, Mira, participated in the girl’s version of this program, Girls on the Run, and it was a great experience for her.

Finally, I’m going to be using my FitBit, and making sure I hit 10K steps per day. On days I run, that should be easy. On days I don’t, I’ll have to work on getting those steps in. Fortunately, we have a new puppy who would probably appreciate the extra walks.

Daily run results, whether or not I actually did Jillian Michaels’ routine, and daily steps will be recorded here as well, starting next week.

Costuming

The Mon-El costume is my focus right now. I don’t even really know where I’m going to start with having that made. So, more details to come.

That’s where I’m at. Hopefully some of you have read this far and will keep me motivated. And maybe I’ll be able to motivate some of you.

A Study in Contrasts: Elsa and Regina on Once Upon a Time

10301601_710917885630375_897088975289582442_nby Aaron Einhorn
I’m a Disney fanboy. I make no excuses for it. I love Disney, always have. And I jumped on the Frozen bandwagon early (thanks to a sneak peek screening). So, last night, Christina and I sat down to watch as Frozen invaded Storybrooke in Once Upon a Time. Overall, we quite liked the episode, and the casting (even if we found Kristoff a bit too scrawny.) But what I found really interesting to think about were the similarities and differences between Regina and Elsa.

Similarity wise, they’re both queens – not Princesses, but Queens. And that’s a distinction that matters. They aren’t just “of noble birth” (which Regina isn’t, really) or just used to having wealth and power, but they’re both accustomed to ruling – something that Princesses aren’t.

They’re two of the only outright magically powered characters on the show. The only others are mostly inhuman (Rumple, Red, the Fairies) – even if they were human once – and the third is Emma, who is her own unique thing.

But where their similarities end, their differences are all the more interesting, because they’re such opposites. Visually, Elsa is taller, fairer of skin, light-haired, and wears light blues and whites. Regina is shorter, dark-haired (and wears it short), and favors dark colored clothing.

10685582_710780718977425_5943111331391290055_nIn terms of their magic, there is the obvious contrast. Regina’s favored magic is fire, while Elsa is all snow and ice (although they both have a curious penchant for affecting hearts).

But their personalities are where they are most strikingly different. Regina’s single biggest flaw has always been her inability to accept personal responsibility. Everything – everything – is someone else’s fault. And she’s not wholly wrong – Regina has certainly been the victim of master manipulators and tricksters, along with the most wretched set of circumstances. Regina isn’t a monster in her mind – she’s the victim looking for justice, and whenever someone else calls her a monster, she lashes out, looking for revenge.

Elsa on the other hand internalizes her fears and doubts, and sees herself as a monster when others don’t. While Anna tells her that she loves her, and that the things she’s done aren’t her fault, Elsa is the one to say “I’m a monster, I should be left alone.” Elsa can’t give herself the slightest allowance that, maybe, someone else is to blame for the circumstances.

They’re both wrong, of course, being at opposite ends of the spectrum instead of finding a healthy middle.

And of course, they come from the entire range of Disney’s animated films, with Snow White being the first animated feature film from Disney, and the first Princess movie, and Frozen being the latest (at least until Big Hero 6 arrives in a few months.)

Still, it has me really looking forward to seeing what this season will bring. And that doesn’t even touch on the other elements that I hope to see developed this year. I want more of Emma and Hook. I want more of Gold and Belle (and yeah, I am exactly fanboy enough to have appreciated his outfit, her gown, and the song). I want to see where Regina’s scheme goes (and I’m happy to see Sidney Glass back). And the hat… oh, the hat. Yeah, I’m sold.

I don't expect to see a certain mouse wearing this hat... but I'm sure it's the same one.

I don’t expect to see a certain mouse wearing this hat… but I’m sure it’s the same one.

Bring on more episodes!

A Few Thoughts About Disliking “Change” In Comics. Or Ice Cream.

10492273_10203159472400705_5082000371930497149_nby Aaron Einhorn
This past weekend was the San Diego Comic Con. Also known as SDCC, or Comic-Con International, or “Where Hollywood reveals all the nerd news fit to print for a year and we also occasionally talk a little bit about comics.” Unsurprisingly, a lot of news came out, and this was right on the heel of the announcements about Thor Odinson losing Mjolnir and the hammer being taken up by a new female character who will, initially at least, go by the moniker of Thor – and the news that Steve Rogers will age rapidly and his former partner Sam Wilson (aka The Falcon) will take up the shield and title of Captain America for the near-future.

(I say near future because we all know that by the time Avengers: Age of Ultron is in theatres, Steve Rogers will be Captain America again, and Thor Odinson will once more be the God of Thunder.)

Coming out of Comic-Con, we’ve gotten footage from Arrow, Gotham, Age of Ultron, Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice. We’ve seen new costume designs, heard casting announcements, and sequels have been given dates.

10478135_10203171072570702_4554904111003099747_nSome people have been happy about bits of this news. Others have had criticisms. And some people have reacted to the criticisms by saying words to the effect of “God, you fanboys suck. All you’ve ever wanted was to see X (where X can be a combination of characters on the same screen, or a well-loved character finally getting a live action representation, or more diversity in comic line-ups, whatever). Now you’re getting it, and all you can do is complain? What’s wrong with you? Besides, you’ll go see it anyhow.”

So, allow me to present a metaphor.

 

If the “chocolate” ice cream you’re trying to serve me has nuts and fruit mixed in, and tastes more like raspberry than chocolate, than the argument that I can now have chocolate ice cream in a shake, or a sundae, or a float, and for the first time ever, can have it with strawberry ice cream and vanilla ice cream, instead of just having it on the cone, forgive me if I’m not grateful for the fact that there is chocolate ice cream being served at all.

Especially when I can go down the street and get mint chocolate chip from your competitor.

And before someone says “But you haven’t even tasted it yet,” that’s true. But I can still develop an expectation based on previous experiences and what I can see. If I don’t like strawberries, and I can see chunks of strawberry in the ice cream, it’s reasonable for to believe I won’t like the ice cream after I’ve tasted it.

I may still taste it eventually, but I might wait awhile to do so, and might go buy a new type of ice cream from your competitor first, and only try your strawberry concoction when I get around to it.

Ice-Cream01

Now, I’m not excusing nerd rage. Because that crap has gotten ridiculous – and there are fans who really need to relax. But so is saying that having criticisms is ridiculous and we should just be happy to get a movie featuring these characters at all.

No. I am allowed to not like what I’m seeing, politely say so, and spend my money elsewhere.

Someone asked me, when I first presented this metaphor, if I had a specific film in mind when writing this. And while I did, I had to ask if it really mattered? Because arguably one persons reasons for not liking the new female Thor could fit this analogy, while another persons feelings about Superman vs. Batman could fit, while another persons being upset with Marvel reprinting Miracleman could fit. While it’s certainly true that some of the negative responses to these things have been overblown, there are also many legitimate reasons to have criticisms. If you don’t like the news about the new Thor because you’re a misogynist, you should be called on it. If you don’t like Sam taking over for Steve because you’re a racist and Captain America is the Aryan Superman, you should be called on it. But if you don’t like it because you’re not a fan of mantle-passing in the comics at all? That’s legitimate.

wonder27f-2-webIn my case, I did write this about Superman/Batman. While I never minded any of the casting, I felt like Man of Steel was too dark – in tone and in visual style. The reveal of the footage from SDCC, and Gadot’s costume have only confirmed for me that this DC Cinematic Universe, much like their New 52, is not to my taste and liking.

I may still go see Dawn of Justice (although not until after I see Cap 3 if they stay on the same weekend), but I do not like what I’m seeing so far.

I do think that nerd-raging over the costume, or Gadot, or Affleck is silly. And that’s not what I’m doing. I’m not filled with rage, I’m just not seeing anything so far that is filling me with confidence for the film, meaning I thinking I’ll give it a pass, or at least a long delay. But when I say something like that, there are some who respond “Hey, be happy you’re getting Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in a live-action film at all. Don’t criticize.”

And I reject that. Not criticizing is why the studios were able to give us Superman IV and Batman and Robin. And at a time that there are really good superhero films being released, why should I settle for something that I don’t think looks good, just because it has some of my favorite characters in it?

Re-Focusing the Disney Villains

by Aaron Einhorn
It turns out that not twelve hours after writing this I was back in the theatre with Christina and the girls, watching Maleficent a second time. I am happy to say that, on a second viewing, I enjoyed the film a good deal more. Knowing that what I was going to see was a “She’s the misunderstood hero,” film, instead of watching Maleficent’s Start of Darkness made it a far easier film to enjoy the second time around, and everything I found charming the first time around was that much better without the baggage of expecting to see Maleficent actually be a villain.

That said, I still felt like, ultimately, Disney made a misstep with the film – because while Maleficent is a fun movie – and quite possibly a very good one – it is also one that more or less destroys Maleficent ‘s reputation as a villain. And while I applaud the trend seen in both Frozen and Maleficent to show female characters who actually have agency in their films, instead of being objects to be rescued or at best aides to the Hero (and bonus points for putting actual magical power into the hands of the protagonist, instead of keeping magic as something to be doled out by the wise and often inhuman mentor) – I still feel that ultimately, Maleficent has more worth as a brand as Villain than Hero.

Consider, if you will, the role of Maleficent in the Villain line. Look at the sample merchandise from the line, and see how prominent the Mistress of All Evil is – she is normally front and center, overshadowed only by Chernobog (who is given odd prominence considering how small his role in Disney mythology is. The only movie he’s a villain in is Fantasia, and there only for one segment. He doesn’t even have any lines.)

Villains_2

Disney Vinylmation Figures – the Villains line has Maleficent front and center

Villains_1

Maleficent is right there in the on-page logo of the Villains section of Disney’s online store.

Dream_Along_With_Mickey_Maleficent

Maleficent in the “Dream Along With Mickey” show.

That doesn’t even begin to touch upon her role as a villain within the parks. Maleficent is the chief villain during the Dream Along With Mickey show in front of Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, her dragon form is one of the main attractions in the Festival of Fantasy parade, and she is the climactic moment in Fantasmic! in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.

disney-festival-fantasy-maleficent-030914

The Dragon form in the Festival of Fantasy parade.

Fantasmic_Dragon

The climax of “Fantasmic!”

Additionally, for the readers in Disney fandom, Maleficent was chief among the Overtakers (Disney villains trying to take over the parks) in Ridley Pearson’s first four Kingdom Keepers novels.

KKI

Maleficent’s malicious gaze threatens the heroic kids.

Heck, when Disney’s House of Mouse did their House of Villains movie, Maleficent even gets to sing the line that should have been the Evil Queen’s. (Check the video below at the 1:00 mark)

Is it worth diluting all of this just to add a female character (who will never be a part of the Princess line) with magical powers for fans? Even if Maleficent is a huge hit, little girls are not going to be casting aside their Anna and Elsa dresses to don the dark fairy’s black dress and horns (and, in fact, Disney doesn’t offer a child-sized version of the dress at this time, although adults can purchase Maleficent’s gown – when it’s back in stock.)

And that’s when it hit me. Maybe it is intentional.

Maleficent is, when it comes down to it, a relatively late addition to the Villains line. Snow White (1937) gave us the Evil Queen, who was relatively ignored until she leapt back to prominence thanks to Lana Parilla’s delightfully wicked performance on Once Upon a Time. Chernobog originates in 1940’s Fantasia. Lady Tremaine, Anastasia and Drizella (yes, they have names) come from 1950’s Cinderella – and Maleficent doesn’t appear for another nine years after that.

That’s right, of the “Classic” members of the Villains line, Maleficent is the second-to-last addition, only followed by Cruella di Ville.

Consider that earlier villains have fared much better on Once Upon a Time than their more recent additions. Ursula only actually appears once – her other appearance was actually the Evil Queen masquerading as the Sea Witch. Maleficent appears a few times, played by Kristin Bauer van Straten ( True Blood), but she consistently plays second fiddle to the power of Regina or the main characters. But Regina, the Evil Queen? She’s practically the star of the show. And Captain Hook (whose on-screen relationship with Disney began in 1953) has become a show mainstay, and the romantic interest for our lead.

Regina

Who’s the fairest of them all? Well, there is certainly an argument for it to be this version of Regina…

Meanwhile, despite Maleficent’s prominence in the early Kingdom Keepers novels, by Books Five and Six, she’s barely present and she doesn’t appear at all in the final volume – while the Evil Queen, Chernobog and Tia Dalma all gets lots of attention.

Notice that it is the Queen's eyes we see now, not Maleficent's.

Notice that it is the Queen’s eyes we see now, not Maleficent’s.

Could it be possible that someone in the Disney hierarchy has decided to move the focus away from Maleficent, for whatever reason?

Could the Flanderization of Maleficent be, in IT-Geek speak, be not a bug, but a feature?

In any case, we can be certain that long before the Green Light was given on Maleficent, someone at Disney made a long and hard calculation on the decision to transform one of the most pre-eminent members of the Villains line into a hero. Perhaps it’s a desire to cash in on the popularity that Wicked gave to the Wicked Witch. Maybe it’s the decision to shift the focus of the Villains line to other characters. Or maybe they have something else entirely in mind. But I can’t believe that they made Maleficent into a hero accidentally. And being the Disney fan that I am, I’ll confess to being very curious to see how this plays out.

Calm Down, Internet!

by Aaron Einhorn
Megan Fox as April O’Neil
Ben Affleck as Batman
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
Channing Tatum as Gambit
Kate Mara as Sue Storm
Miles Teller as Reed Richards
Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm
Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang

You know what all of these actors and their roles have in common? The fact that we don’t know anything about what their performance will be like. We can make some guesses as to how well they’ll fit physically, and we can even infer something based on past performances, but we do not know.

You know who does know? The casting directors for the films they’re on. And these people are paid a great deal of money to cast the right actor on the film to make it a success. They don’t have anything invested in crushing your dreams – they want to cast actors who have a mix of marketability and an ability to play the character. Yes, it’s about money, but making a good movie is how they make money.

You know who they have something in common with?

Michael Keaton as Batman
Chris Reeve as Superman
Henry Cavill as Superman
Chris Evans as Captain America
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark

There were people ready to criticize and condemn each of these actors as being totally wrong for their characters before we saw the final result. And they all worked out (with varying degrees of success) pretty well.

So, hey, Internet? Can we all relax and not judge an actor until we see the final product? Besides, so much of the actual portrayal will have to do with the script and the direction that it’s only partially on the head of the actor in any case. I think that Brandon Routh and James Marsden both had amazing potential as Superman and Cyclops, but we never got to see that because of the script and direction.

Which doesn’t mean you can’t decide you’re not interested in seeing the film. I have less than zero interest in anything directed/produced by Michael Bay, and based on past performances, I wouldn’t expect to be impressed by Megan Fox’s acting so I won’t be seeing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But I’m not going to judge Megan Fox’s April O’Neil unless/until I see the film.

Rebuilding a Superhero: Week Two

by Aaron Einhorn
Here we are, one week into consistently focusing on fitness, diet, health and costuming. And while we’re off to a slow start, it’s an encouraging one. I managed to stick to my calorie budget (for the most part), exercised all six days this past week as planned, and had some significant progress on both Cyclops and Captain America coming together.

Fitness

When I weighed myself this morning, Monday, February 24, 2014, I weighed 203 pounds after showering. I didn’t run this morning, but will tonight – so I could have weighed in a little lower than that if I had. My goal weight is initially to get to 185 lbs. again, and from there, I may shoot as low as 165 – but a well-muscled 185 is perfectly acceptable. Last week, I weighed in at 204.2 pounds, so we’ve got a little over a pound lost.

With the exception of Saturday, I tracked my food intake this past week using the LoseIt app on my iPhone. I am using the app to set myself a goal of losing two pounds a week, which gives me a rough calorie budget of this past week of 1,714 calories per day. I am also specifically using the app to track my recommended levels of Fats and Protein. Results:

  • Sunday, February 16: 1,681 (-33)
  • Monday, February 17: 1,485 (-229)
  • Tuesday, February 18: 1,562 (-152)
  • Wednesday, February 19: 1,547 (-167)
  • Thursday, February 20: 1,893 (+179)
  • Friday, February 21: 1,847 (+133)
  • Saturday: No tracking

My total for the week put me at 38 calories under budget for the week. I didn’t log any of my exercise in the app, which according to the specifics of the app, would have given me extra calories to eat.

I successfully hit my goal of working out six days this past week. Alternating Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday will be weight-training/circuit training using Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred, which was the backbone of most of my success last time around, and on Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays, I am returning to running. I’m using the Ease Into 5K app from BlueFin to motivate and log my running.

Sunday: 30 Day Shred, using 10 lbs. hand weights for the whole routine. I overdid this, and managed to strain some muscles in my right arm, which affected the rest of my workout schedule. Note to self: You can’t jump right back in with the same weight you had been using when you worked out regularly two years ago.
Monday: C25K, Week 1, Day 1. Most runs were performed at a 6 mph pace, and most walks were done at a 3.5 mph pace. Covered a total of 2.06 miles on the dreadmill, with most runs at a .5 incline.
Tuesday: 30 Day Shred, using 5 lbs. hand weights for everything except the Chest Flys in the third interval, which I used 10 lbs. for. This was a bit rough, because Cordy came downstairs and wanted to help, so I spend a lot of my time correcting her form.
Wednesday: C25K, Week 1, Day 2. Most runs were performed at a 6 mph pace, with every third performed at 6.5 mph and most walks were done at a 4 mph pace. Covered a total of 2.46 miles on the dreadmill, with most runs at a .5 incline.
Thursday: 30 Day Shred, using 5 lbs. hand weights for everything except the Chest Flys in the third interval, which I used 10 lbs. for.
Friday: C25K, Week 1, Day 3. Runs alternated between a 6 mph pace and a 6.5 mph pace and most walks were done at a 4 mph pace. Covered a total of 2.50 miles on the dreadmill, with most runs at a .5 incline.
Saturday: Rest Day

Costuming

There was a lot of progress on costumes completed this week, partially bumped forward because of needing to have Captain America ready this weekend for a Heroes Alliance event.

Cyclops (Claremont-Era Inspired)
This week, Cyclops saw his gloves and trunks arrive, his gloves get painted, and I got a replacement top that is a turtleneck instead of a crew neck. I also assembled the belt. All that remains on the costume now is to dye the trunks, and to re-touch the paint on the boots.

The gloves, from Leather Mystics, in their unpainted form.

The gloves, from Leather Mystics, in their unpainted form.

The gloves, now painted with Angelus leather paint, as recommended to me by my friend Allen Hansard. I will never again Nu-Life gloves.

The gloves, now painted with Angelus leather paint, as recommended to me by my friend Allen Hansard. I will never again Nu-Life gloves.

Belt assembled together. The buckle originally came from Peachykitty, whose shop can be found on Etsy, although I purchased it unpainted and painted it myself.

Belt assembled together. The buckle originally came from Peachykitty, whose shop can be found on Etsy, although I purchased it unpainted and painted it myself.

Costume assembled. The boots in this image still need to be touched up (they were the Captain 105s from Funtasma, and originally I used them for Jack of Hearts).

Costume assembled with the new turtleneck top. The boots in this image still need to be touched up (they were the Captain 105s from Funtasma, and originally I used them for Jack of Hearts).

Since the previous image looks a little "Captain Underpants," I pulled it into Photoshop and color-corrected the trunks and fixed the spots on the boots.

Since the previous image looks a little “Captain Underpants,” I pulled it into Photoshop and color-corrected the trunks and fixed the spots on the boots.

Captain America (The First Avenger Inspired)
It will be some time before I’ve got the money saved up to purchase a new shield (and I’m not really ready to undo all the work I did on my U.S. Agent shield), so in a stroke of amazing generosity, a good friend has loaned me his Factory X “Official” Shield of Captain America. At 27” diameter, this is considerably larger than the movie shield, as you can see thanks to my amazing model, Captain A-Mira-ca.

It is absolutely unfair that she is so much cuter in the helmet and holding the shield than I ever will be.

It is absolutely unfair that she is so much cuter in the helmet and holding the shield than I ever will be.

At the last minute, the Heroes Alliance Ohio team was invited to come out for an event this Saturday, and I desperately tried to get Cap assembled. Between the borrowed shield, my existing helmet, gloves, boots, belt and pouches, and the same suit I borrowed for the previous test picture shots, I managed to make it happen.

Captain America: The First Avenger, as he appeared for the kids at the Childhood League Center on Saturday.

Captain America: The First Avenger, as he appeared for the kids at the Childhood League Center on Saturday.

This is not a complete costume. For one thing, the suit seen here isn’t mine. For another, the gloves and boots both need the addition of straps and extra panels to resemble the versions used in the film. And once the suit does arrive, there are a lot of pieces to the suit that I intend to replace and upgrade. But it worked well enough for the kids to be overjoyed at meeting Captain America, which is the ultimate goal.

That’s where I’m at. Not a bad first week, I think. Thanks for sticking with me.

Rebuilding a Superhero: Week One

by Aaron Einhorn
Long, long ago, I created a column on Comic Hero News titled Superhero Transformation. This column existed to chronicle my efforts to get in shape and to build my first superhero costume in over a decade – Superman.

That effort was originally based around wearing the costume to San Diego Comic Con, but that costume ended up leading me into helping to create the Ohio Branch of the Heroes Alliance, and has led to a lot more costumes.

Of course, life being what it is, there have been changes since I originally dropped from 216 to 185 lbs. Changing work schedules and increased activity from my children has given me less time to work out, and bad food habits have crept back into my life.

A few months back, I noticed that the scale was creeping north of 200 pounds again. And I have been halfheartedly keeping track of my food intake and trying to work out somewhat regularly. But there have been times the lure of a Snickers bar has been too hard to resist, and many mornings that I would rather lay on the couch playing Marvel Avengers Alliance on Facebook instead of throwing in Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred or jumping on the treadmill.

Today, I weighed myself and realized that despite those half-hearted efforts, the scale has not budged in two weeks. And while it’s possible that there has been some muscle build to offset some fat loss, I’m neither feeling it nor seeing it.

To paraphrase Wanda Maximoff, “No more cheating.”

Nothing keeps me accountable as much as a public log of my efforts, and so that’s what I’m doing again. This won’t just be a log of my fitness though, because that would be utterly boring and of no interest to anyone who is coming here for the superhero stuff. I will also be showing off my WIP for the costumes I’m currently working on.

Fitness

When I weighed myself this morning, Monday, February 17, 2014, I weighed 204.2 pounds. This was after running this morning, and showering. My goal weight is initially to get to 185 lbs. again, and from there, I may shoot as low as 165 – but a well-muscled 185 is perfectly acceptable.

My intention is to track my food using the LoseIt app on my iPhone. I am using the app to set myself a goal of losing two pounds a week, which gives me a rough calorie budget of 1,714 calories per day. I am also specifically using the app to track my recommended levels of Fats and Protein. For future weeks, I will be including my daily results on sticking to that goal.

I also intend to work out six days a week. Alternating Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday will be weight-training/circuit training. I’m starting off with using Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred, which was the backbone of most of my success last time around. I intend to add some more intense upperbody and ab exercises in the evenings of those days as well, but those will not be for a few weeks, because my arms are plenty sore right now just from doing that video yesterday.

On Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays, I am returning to running. I’m using the Ease Into 5K app from BlueFin to motivate and log my running. I used their app last time, and got myself to the point where I did successfully run a few 5Ks without stopping to walk during the runs. I’d like to get back to that.

Daily run results and whether or not I actually did Jillian Michaels’ routine will be recorded here as well, starting next week.

Costuming

I’m currently mostly focusing on two costumes right now, with a third project slowly percolating on the back burner.

Cyclops (Claremont-Era Inspired)
Cyclops has always been my favorite of the X-Men, and Chris Claremont’s run on the comics through the eighties and into the nineties has always been my favorite timeframe for the book (up until just now). So, I’m aiming to do a costume mostly focused on that suit.

Here’s what I have so far.

The raw, unpainted kit for the visor. I lucked into a steal for the visor, and that's why this is a Claremont-era inspired costume, instead of strictly faithful.

The raw, unpainted kit for the visor. I lucked into a steal for the visor, and that’s why this is a Claremont-era inspired costume, instead of strictly faithful.

The visor, cleaned, sanded, painted, and assembled.

The visor, cleaned, sanded, painted, and assembled.

Wearing the visor with the hood and spandex top. This isn't the actual top I'll be wearing, which will be a mock turtleneck. The navy of the hood and the shirt aren't a perfect match, but they're close enough.

Wearing the visor with the hood and spandex top. This isn’t the actual top I’ll be wearing, which will be a mock turtleneck. The navy of the hood and the shirt aren’t a perfect match, but they’re close enough.

My belt buckle, sanded and painted. I have a red leather belt to attach this to - I just need to figure out how I want to do so.

My belt buckle, sanded and painted. I have a red leather belt to attach this to – I just need to figure out how I want to do so.

I also have a pair of white leather gauntlets from Leather Mystics, which will be painted yellow with Angelus paint, and a pair of Captain-105 boots from Funtasma by Pleaser, which are already painted yellow, but need a bit of touch-up. This makes this costume almost completed, once I do some painting, complete the belt, and acquire a new set of yellow briefs. Expect to see updates for this costume next week.

Captain America (The First Avenger Inspired)
Captain America is hugely popular with kids right now, thanks to the success of the Marvel movies. I actually already have a U.S. Agent costume, but the truth is that when I wear him for events, kids treat me like I’m Cap, and it’s easier to tell them that this is just a different costume than my “normal” uniform and be Cap for them.

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So, I’m working on creating a new Cap suit, and hope to have it ready in time for a Heroes Alliance Ohio event we’re doing for the premiere of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

This is the helmet of the costume, made by the awesome folks at Malmey Studios.

This is the helmet of the costume, made by the awesome folks at Malmey Studios.

The gloves, as a base version. I'm going to weather them, add the wrist strap, cuffs, and then split the seam and add the buckle at the wrist.

The gloves, as a base version. I’m going to weather them, add the wrist strap, cuffs, and then split the seam and add the buckle at the wrist.

The base for the boots. These need weathered, and to have the cuffs/buckles added. They're not the Cocoran's that are screen-accurate, but they're a good enough match and were a quarter of the cost.

The base for the boots. These need weathered, and to have the cuffs/buckles added. They’re not the Cocoran’s that are screen-accurate, but they’re a good enough match and were a quarter of the cost.

These are vintage WWII ammo pouches, and will be worn on the belt of the costume. They're not exactly the ones seen in the film, but they're a good enough match.

These are vintage WWII ammo pouches, and will be worn on the belt of the costume. They’re not exactly the ones seen in the film, but they’re a good enough match.

This is the base cosplay suit. This version was ordered by a friend of mine, but mine has been ordered and is on it's way. It needs modification, including replacing hardware, changing out the star on the chest, and adding a red stripe that will go over the zipper in the front, but it's not a bad base, I don't think.

This is the base cosplay suit. This version was ordered by a friend of mine, but mine has been ordered and is on it’s way.
It needs modification, including replacing hardware, changing out the star on the chest, and adding a red stripe that will go over the zipper in the front, but it’s not a bad base, I don’t think.

That’s where I’m at. Hopefully some of you have read this far and will keep me motivated. And maybe I’ll be able to motivate some of you.

Gal Gadot is Our New Wonder Woman

by Aaron Einhorn

Well, DC and Warner Brothers certainly aren’t being gunshy about casting unpopular choices for their upcoming Man of Steel sequel. First there was the announcement that Ben Affleck would be Batman in the film that is already being called Superman vs. Batman in most fan circles. And, of course, the internet went into a rage over that bit of casting.

Yesterday, DC announced that Fast and Furious star Gal Gadot would be appearing as Wonder Woman in the film. Ladies and gents, I give you our next on-screen Wonder Woman.

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And, of course, the internet has once again gone nuts.

“She’s too short!” “She’s too skinny!” “She doesn’t act like Wonder Woman!”

And so on, and so on.

I have to say that I am, once again, in the “wait and see” camp. Would Gadot have been my first pick for Wonder Woman? Absolutely not – but that is in no small part because I’ve never seen her act. She has quite an impressive list of Israeli films that she’s been in, but in the U.S., I’ve never watched any of the Fast and Furious franchise (and am unlikely to), nor have I seen her on Homeland or Entourage.

Which brings up an important point.

I also was not in the room when she auditioned.

Casting directors, as a general rule, don’t want to make bad casting choices. They know that their jobs are on the line if a multi-million dollar film fails and it can be blamed on a bad casting choice. They’re looking for something in the audition room, and presumably, Gadot delivered. Have we ever seen Gadot “act” like Wonder Woman? Well, no. But she also hasn’t been playing Wonder Woman, so we shouldn’t have.

gal_gadot_jacketww_alexross Gal-Gadot_dress

“She’s too short! She’s too thin!”

Yes, Gadot is definitely on the slender side. This makes a certain degree of sense – she has a background as a model and former Ms. Israel. And it’s certainly true that Wonder Woman should have a sense of physical power and musculature to her. But here’s a pre-Superman Henry Cavill, a pre-Wolverine Hugh Jackman, and a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth.

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Not exactly muscular powerhouses. After a few months of diet and exercise with a personal trainer…

EXCLUSIVE: Henry Cavill On The Set Of 'Man Of Steel' hugh jackman shirtless wolverine

thor

And that’s only three examples. You can find similar before and after images for Chris Evans, Toby Maguire, Robert Downey Jr., Ben Affleck and others.

Now, women’s bodies are different than men’s, but do you think that Warner Brothers won’t be throwing a ton of money and trainers and dieticians at Gadot to prepare her for this role? Of course they will. I do like that Gadot is Mediterranean (Israeli instead of Greek, but at least the right region), because while Wonder Woman is rarely drawn that way, she should have a bit of that swarthiness about her. I also like that Gadot has experience in the military and from other action films, so I’m sure she can handle herself in the action sequences.

As for her height? Well, Hollywood has been working around the height issue for years. And she’s hardly short. Gadot stands 5’9”, compared to Cavill’s 6’1” and Affleck’s 6’4”. Put her in heels and do a little forced perspective, as I am absolutely certain they will (because they probably don’t want Batman to be taller than Superman), and I’m sure that the relative heights will even out.

Like I said above, Gadot would probably not have been my first choice. But I’ve also seen no reason to think that she will be a terrible one. Would I have liked to see Jaime Alexander or Gina Carano? Sure thing (incidentally, both of these actresses are the same height or shorter than Gadot). But I think the only fair thing to do is to wait and see. It is far too early to say that she’s going to be the death of this film.

Especially since there are plenty of other areas where DC/Warner Brothers could drop the ball. I remain plenty skeptical of this film for reasons totally unrelated to the casting of Gadot or Affleck, but entirely related to my belief that the company no longer understands the emotional heart of their characters and what makes them resonate with audiences (as I described in my previous post regarding the casting of Ben Affleck).

So, I’m ready to give her a chance. And rest assured, if I’m dissatisfied, I will be quick to say. But it doesn’t seem like the time to criticize her casting is now – before we’ve seen anything of her performance.

justice_leagueBut it’s also possible that her casting could help turn the Man of Steel sequel into the beginnings of a Justice League film. And if that’s the case, we should all be excited as fans – not criticizing an actress who we shouldn’t be ready to judge yet.

I’m not advocating blind fandom. I’ve ripped superhero films apart in my critiques, even ones that I really wanted to like. I think we have an obligation to ask that our favorite characters be adapted to film well. But we shouldn’t start that criticizing before we see what we’re going to get from the studio. Fans hated the casting of Keaton as Batman, of Evans as Captain America, and of Heath Ledger as the Joker. Fans were excited about the idea of Halle Berry playing Storm and Kevin Spacey playing Lex Luthor.

Judging at the time of the announcement is just too soon, that’s all I’m saying.

 

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Gotham – A Tale of Two Television Series

by Aaron Einhorn
Last night, Christina and I had some friends (and fellow members of the Heroes Alliance Ohio team) over to watch the premiere/pilot episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and while we were waiting for the episode to air, we saw the news about Warner Brother’s new show for 2014 – Gotham.

“Wait,” you might say, “Warner Brothers is going to make a show to directly compete with Marvel, focusing on the ordinary policemen who make up the police force of Gotham City? Isn’t that a case of copying their rival?”

Well, no. For one thing, AoS will already be in to its second season by the time Gotham airs. For another, AoS is a show that is much larger in scope than Gotham. Coulson and company are clearly globe-trotters, taking on threats and concerns all around the world – Gotham will be focused on Jim Gordon in a pre-Batman Gotham City. We may see some action in the outer burroughs , but we can expect the show to be much more local than global.

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Furthermore, AoS takes place within the timeline and constraints of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The action of the show picks up several months after The Avengers, and the conflict of the first episode ties directly in to the events of Iron Man 3 – which coincidentally came out on Blu-Ray/DVD the same day that the first episode aired. Conversely, Gotham will probably not be tied to any existing version of the DC films. In theory it could take place in the same setting as Nolan’s films, but Gary Oldman is unlikely (and indeed, unable) to come back and reprise his role as Gordon. Similarly, the reboot that the Batman universe is in store for will be placing an older, experienced Batman into Man of Steel – which doesn’t fit into the scope of the show either.

The bigger difference is right there in the names of the shows. Marvel’s offering proclaims itself Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S.H.I.E.L.D. has been a throughline in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and the first episode showed us Cobie Smulder’s Maria Hill, Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson, clips from The Avengers, action figures of each of the heroes, and most of the heroes mentioned either indirectly or by name.

”Technically, I don’t think Thor’s a god.”
“Well, you haven’t been near his arms.”

AoS is unapologetically, unabashedly a part of the greater Marvel superheroic film universe. We’re going to see bright, flashy elements. We will probably see costumes of some sort as the show develops – not that the S.H.I.E.L.D. uniforms are far off on their own, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo is prominent across the sets. Heck, in the episode, when someone asks what they just saw, Coulson responds with “That’s a superhero.”

Meanwhile, in both DC’s films and in recent, successful television shows (Smallville, Arrow, Man of Steel), costumes are all-but forbidden and the phrase superhero is never heard. (Despite DC having half of the trademark on that phrase.) You’ll here heroes called “vigilantes,” or “costumed crime-fighters,” but “superhero”? Never.

James_Gordon-1The title of this show is Gotham. It’s not G.C.P.D (an actual comic title) or Gordon, it’s Gotham. It follows the mold of Smallville, hiding the show’s comic roots, and it promises that we will never see Batman. We may see Gotham’s famous villains, but I’m sure that it will be Selina Kyle and Edward Nigma and Oswald Cobblepot that we see, not Catwoman or the Riddler or Penguin. (And my suspicion is we won’t actually see most of the well-known villains, and that the show will instead focus on the crime bosses of the Batman mythos.)

We’re seeing two competing philosophies about using comics as the base for film and television in action. And it isn’t my place to say which is right and which is wrong, but I think my preference is clear. Marvel has embraced the comic book roots of their characters and their world, and that is visible everywhere from the overall tone, to the dialogue, to the pace, to the costumes and codenames.

DC on the other hand, continues to do everything they can to mask that the show or film is based on comics. “Please, excuse the fact that these characters came from ‘funnybooks’,” they seem to say. “Really, they can be compelling despite that. We promise not to do anything too flashy with superpowers or costumes. We won’t even call them Superman or Green Arrow.”

All I know for sure is that I am eagerly awaiting the second issue episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., while I have little incentive or desire to find out anything more about Gotham.