Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Monday, July 28, 2008

Comics, Characters, Chaos, and Arun

The nice thing about living in a big city, is that there's always a plethora of things going on. This weekend, I had friends going sailing, to the horse races, to a boat show, and yes, to the famous Comic Con.

What is Comic Con? It's an international convention that basically serves as the mecca for anyone who likes comic books, cartoons, science fiction, movies, video games, anime, roll playing games, etc. It only goes on for four days every year, and people flock from near and far to see what's in store for they're favorite story, character, game, or whatever. In other words, it's a nerd fest.

Naturally, I've never been.

Ok, ok. In all honestly, I have always been intrigued. As a kid, I was a big fan of Marvel Comics and have quite a collection sitting on a bookshelf in Alaska. I also have a bunch of trading cards. I'm still a fan I guess, but I don't read comic books or follow any storylines. Sadly though, I could list off the real (fictional) names of every X-man character as well as their power and a brief biography.

If that wasn't bad enough, I emplore those of you who only mariginally respect me to skip the rest of this paragraph for fear of completely losing all respect. For the rest of you (which I assume is ALL of you) who have me on an infallable pedestal of awesomeness, you may continue as I know that my dignity (or lack thereof) is unshakable to you. So what's soooo bad? Well, for a period of about two years (probably age 10-12) I played (and collected) POGS, and Magic: The Gathering. Don't worry...I've NEVER played any other roll playing game including Dungeons and Dragons (ok, ok...I may have once played D&D by accident).

The bottom line though, is that I'm not really into ANY of the interests or activities that Comic Con is all about. I have fleeting interest in Marvel Comics, and was curious about a new Ghostbusters game on the horizon, but that's about it. But, when my friend Lauren who works at the Downtown Hyatt and can get free tickets to stuff, offered me a chance to go to Comic Con for FREE, the inner nerd in me (and I'm talkin way down deep inside) couldn't resist.

Is there really any better word than "Free?"

I had actually been in the downtown area on Friday and Saturday night, and was witness to the multitude of characters running around downtown. There were numerous "Star Wars" Trooper Guys, Jedi's, Wizards, Comic Book Characters, and just plain weird, random costumes. It was thoroughly entertaining. It was almost like halloween, except these costumes were a hundred times better, and more expensive.

How expensive? Well, I saw a Ghostbuster running around, and I swear he had a real proton pack on. I was a little weary of getting close to a guy with "an unliscenced nuclear accelerator" on his back. Also, during my tour of the main convention hall, I walked passed a booth selling "authentic" light sabers. I'm not sure how the hell they can be authentic, but the sign said, "Light Sabers starting at $300 and up!"

I saw at least eight people walking around with those things.

Due to my lack of interest, the convention itself was pretty unexciting for me. I couldn't believe people buy four day passes and spend all day here. There were some highlights however:

- The FIRST person I saw when I walked into the big convention room? LOU FERRIGNO! He's Arnold Schwarzenegger's main rival in the movie pumping iron, played the Hulk in the original series, is a world reknown body-builder, and even makes a cameo in the latest Hulk movie! I had to say something to him, so I just went up to him, and in my best Arnold voice said, "Hey! Big Lou! How's it going!" He smiled, lightly chuckled, and shook my hand. The guy is old but he could still snap me like a twig and his bicep is as big as my head.

- I also saw the guy who played Chewy in Star Wars. That dude is old.

- Some kid was playing the forthcoming Ghostbusters game which essentially serves as the third movie. It would have been nice to play except for the fact that there were like 50 other people waiting for a turn including about 12 different Ghostbusters.

- There was a Pokeman and Magic the Gathering tournament going on. I peeked in to see the crowd. Thank god I came to my senses years ago.

- My friend Derek was taking the Coaster down to San Diego from Orange County because he managed to get some kind of paying gig to be part of a mock "Alien Rights Protest" for some movie advertisement. On the ride down he was on wasn't sure which trolley he had to take to get downtown, so he called Danny, who had no clue. Then he found a solution. "Aha! There's a Wizard a couple of seats away! I'll just follow him and the dragon next to him!" On any other day, this might have seemed weird.

- There was a huge line for autographs from some kind of celebrities. I asked someone what the line was for:

Comic Fan: "It's for (insert five names here)!"
Me: "Who? What do they do?"

Apparently that was an unacceptable response because everyone in earshot gave me incredulous looks. Apparently they're famous comic book writers and illustrators. I walked away, much to their approval.

-The "Star Trek Autographs" line was ridiculous. Don't they have conventions JUST for "Trekkies?"

-So was the "Marvel 2009 Preview" symposium line. I would've gone if not for the wait. Apparently, Hugh Jackman showed up and brought a trailer of the "Wolverine" due out in May 2009. Damn.

Overall, it was an interesting experience. Lots of characters and chaos! I probably wouldn't go again unless it's free...that is, unless I decide to unretire from Magic the Gathering!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Sea Sick Sailor

I suppose it's only fitting that I follow up a post full of self-love and adoration, with one only slightly infringing on my vanity. Yes, as hard to believe as it is, even people as wonderful as ME have their blunderous moments.

So Friday morning rolls around, and I get a call from my good buddy Frederico. Fred is an interesting character. He's one of those guys that sort of "marches to his own drummer." He eats healthier than anyone I know, has interesting philosophies on life, and is currently attempting to live forever (or at least long enough to allow medicine to develop a cure for dying). These days, he lives on a little sailboat (go figure).

Anyways, he calls me and invites me to go sailing. I take a look outside...beautiful and sunny. I start thinking about all the work I was planning on doing, but every thought is interrupted by visions of me enjoying the crisp ocean breeze, soaring with southerly wind flow, enjoying a nice cold beer. Suffice to say, I packed up and headed to the Marina to meet Fred.

I got there and we started preparing the boat. Fred, being the planner that he is, bought some Dramamine to prevent motion and sea sickness. Despite my confidence in the comfort of the seas, I reluctantly decided to take some. The box says "maximum dosage for 24 hours: 2 tablets." Naturally, I took three.

I was so excited to set sail, I quickly got in character and was calling out ship commands as we were preparing.

Fred: "Arun, do you wanna go ahead and raise the mast?"
Fred: "Uhhh Ok, and when we get going, you're gonna need to take care of the jibb"

After struggling to start the engine for about ten minutes (it's an OLD boat) we finally got going out of the marina. Ahh Yes! About 15 minutes later, we were sailing with the winds, crisp ocean air, feet kicked up, beer in hand...but something wasn't right.

The ocean was angry this day! (and by angry, I mean mildly annoyed). The boat began rocking violently! (and by rocking violently, I mean rolling calmly with the small ocean wake). The combination began wreaking havoc on my senses.

Soon, my sailing enthusiasm began to wane as I my head began spinning.

Frederico: "Oooh Man! You don't look so hot!"
Me: "I don't feel so hot either. Those pills are useless!"
Fred: "They're working wonders for me!"
Me (now leaning forward with my head down); "I hate sailing!"
Fred: "Ah common man! Don't worry...we only have three more hours to go!"

Sweet Mother of Mary...THREE MORE HOURS! For the next two hours, I was curled up in the fetal position in the corner of the boat while Frederico steered us. Every dip was head spinning. Luckily, the pill kept me from getting nauseous, but lifting my head up straight was impossible. To top it off, the "crisp ocean breeze" was now a frigid wind. I was not a happy camper.

Finally, when we were getting close to Harbor Village, my sickness started to dissipate, but my earlier passion for sailing was not renewed.

Fred: "I'm sailing down to the Coronado Islands on Sunday if you wanna go."

I said nothing and just looked at him incredulously.

Fred: "Common Arun! I'll even let you MAN THE JIBB!"
Me (very bitterly): "Ahh, Man your own Damn Jibb!"

I should've seen this coming. I've never had a great relationship with ocean. It's made me sick a few times before, it's battered me into the sand body boarding, it's swept me out to sea while surfing, it's flipped me upside down kayaking, and thrown me against a cave snorkeling.

Oh well. I live for getting out of my comfort zone, so this won't be the last time I suffer the wrath of the ocean...I HAVE always wanted to jet ski!

Ain't no ocean gonna hold me down!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Photoshoots, Fans, and Future Fame

It's been too long since I've posted a nice, juicy, all around narcissistic post. As my regular readers know, I like to moonlight as Zoolander. I have EXPERT experience in photoshoots, runway, walkoff's, AND video :) As I mentioned in an earlier post I was approached at a restaurant in Hillcrest by a smitten photographer and her gay friend about doing a photo shoot. I had no expectations and actually did not contact Amy, the photographer, for like a month afterwards because I was busy traveling and entertaining visitors.

Finally things settled down a bit and I decided to give her a call. I wasn't sure if she'd remember me or even what exactly she wanted. Well, I was shocked when she vividly remembered our brief conversation at the restaurant and was super excited to do a photo shoot with me. Apparently, she wants to use these pics for her portfolio as well as future advertising for her and her clients.

We schedule a date, and I meet her at Torrey Pines State Beach. It was blustery and threatening to sprinkle, but apparently this was great because "Clouds make the scene so much more dynamic!" Hey, she's the professional so I went for it.

As my first solo photo shoot, it was definitely interesting striking poses, looking in different directions, giving her "seductive, wonderment, and demure." I could definitely get used to it though. Somehow, it all felt very natural having a woman take hundreds of photos of me while ogling and telling me how great I look :)

The photo shoot was complete with passionate photographer, wardrobe change, scenery change, and even a casual audience of beach goers watching it all go down. In fact, at one point Amy said to me, "Arun, do you want to move to a place with not so many people paying attention to you?"

Obviously she doesn't know me very well:) Suffice to say, we stayed put and shot around my fans. (Ok ok, so maybe I'm stretching a bit by calling them "fans" but but I swear I saw an old lady give me a wink of approval.)

Maybe I'll take take these pictures and see if I can parlay my modeling career into more than just free smoothies! At this rate, no billboard or smoothie stand is safe from me!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pleasure From Pain

Today as I was busting my booty on the stairstepper in the gym, I started thinking about the love-hate relationship I have with working out. I don't particularly look forward to working out most times. In fact, I usually kind of dread it. However, I structure my day around my exercise to make sure I get it in. I go to great lengths to do this.

Most people I know who go to work everyday, go out to lunch at least once a week. In two years, I've gone out to lunch maybe four or five times because I don't want to skip my afternoon cardio. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE eating more than most people do, and I love eating out and hanging out with people, but the feeling of not only eating out but also skipping a workout leaves me feeling rather disgusted later on.

On Sundays, I usually go for a long run to clear the mind and also get the heart going. I'm so addicted to exercise that a day without some sort of activity makes me feel very lazy and lethargic.

When I exercise though, I don't just go through the motions. I think any athlete or bodybuilder will agree, a big part of the pleasure in exercising, is feeling the PAIN! When I'm running, I love the painful feeling of being completely out of breath, legs burning, and lungs on fire! I love working out my chest so that by the end I can't touch my elbows together or do a single pushup.

The pleasure comes from knowing that what I'm doing is insanely healthy and that the harder I work (and consequently the more pain I feel) the better off I am. Obviously there's a difference between a healthy pain and an "I've worked myself so hard I've popped a bicep and am puking from exertion" pain.

Arnold Schwartzenegger mentions this in "Pumping Iron" and says something to the effect of, "Those who can work through the pain barrier make it to the elite level" and further goes on to compare the pump and pain from lifting weights to being better than "having sex with a woman." (Disclaimer: Yes I like the pain and pump from lifting weights, but I wouldn't go THAT far :)

For me it's sort of like putting wasabe on my sushi rolls. I like a good amount of wasabe on those suckers so that after every bite, I cringe, bang the table with fists, and stomp on the ground as the burning travels up my nose and down my throat. Sure it's all sorts of painful, but it's a damn good, sinus clearing pain :)

When I clean my teeth every morning, I brush, floss, then hit em with some Listerine. I like the feeling of my gums burning a little bit as I swish and swoosh the mouthwash because it makes me feel like its working.

People who don't like working out, just havent' stuck with it long enough to embrace the pain yet. When they workout, they do as much as possible without experiencing pain and consequently get little benefit and only experience the inconvenience and annoyance of working out.

Once you feel the pleasure from the pain, workouts become fun and addictive, and you're not satisfied unless you've really made yourself work...and hurt. The old cliche "No Pain, No Gain" is true, but so is "No Pain, No Pleasure!"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Entertaining, Anywhere Sleeper

Sleeping is generally considered a pretty boring task. I mean, really, there's not a lot to it. Most people are pretty good at it, and a lot of my friends are particularly skillful sleepers on the weekend.

I've been called an "entertainer" before...somehow I've managed to unintentionally work these antics into my sleep. No I don't sleepwalk or thrash about when I sleep, but apparently I do some pretty entertaining things.

Not only am I entertaining, but I can sleep anywhere. Noise doesn't bother me too much, and if you sit me in front of a movie and it's after 8:30, I'm bound to check out within 45 minutes. I've only fallen asleep twice in the theaters though. Once during the second Matrix movie, and the other during Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (most boring movie EVER!).

Even when I do fall asleep during movies though, I have this habit of trying to fool people. I'm usually only half-asleep, and can hear the dialogue both from the movie and audience although I'm not really processing it. When I hear people laugh, I automatically chuckle along with them (obviously having no idea what's so funny). When people comment on the action, I'll give the token agreement. Unless you can see me, a lot of people don't even realize I'm sleeping.

In fact, as a kid, my Mom used to take my sister and I to the Symphony and Opera. Despite liking the music, it was so soothing that I'd always fall asleep...that is until my Mom pinched me awake. She wasn't paying good money for me to sleep through the performance. Eventually, I developed a seemingly foolproof and brilliant technique to sleep with one eye closed and the other eye open (the one towards my Mom). She would never know! Somehow, this technique was ineffective because as I began to lose consciousness, my open eye would follow suit (surprising, I know), butI digress.

In my state of sleepy delirium during movies however, I don't always chime in with the right interjection at the right time. I've seen (and consequently slept through) quite a few movies with my buddy Darren. Apparently, I've chimed in with a chuckle, and thrown in a giggle during some pretty scary/disturbing/serious scenes. In fact, he thought I was downright diabolical when I chuckled as Johnny Depp was slicing open throats in "Sweeney Todd."

Apparently, I not only like talking a lot when I'm awake, but when I sleep as well. My friends have told me that I hold incredibly lucid, short conversations with my dream counterparts. Usually it's just a sentence or two, but damn if my annunciation is not perfect! Furthermore, I've been known to use gestures as well.

In Acapulco, we were in the habit of coming home and going to bed after a long night of partying, at around 6am. One night, my friend Aaron decided not to go out because he was going scuba diving the next morning. Aaron woke up early the next morning to get ready to take off. As he was heading out, he caught me gesturing in his peripheral vision and looked over to see me, eyes closed and sleeping, with a huge grin on my face giving him the double thumbs up!

I have no recollection of this, but after some discussion, we deduced a reasoning for my extremely positive sleeping counterpart. During our visit to Mexico, there was an election coming up and they had these billboards everywhere with different politicians giving a huge grin and a thumbs up. I must've been dreaming that I was running for office in Mexico (totally logical since I speak about 50 words in Spanish).

I also happen to be quite affectionate when I sleep. I've been know to unconsciously cozy up to whomever is sleeping next to me...guys included. During our stay in Mexico City, four of us shared two double beds in the hotel. According to Jeff, one night, he woke up with my arm draped delicately over his shoulder. Poor guy didn't know what to think. And before you jump to conclusions, NO I am not a switch hitter (not that there's anything wrong with that). I was oblivious in my unconsciousness.

The best thing about sleeping though, is dreaming. I pretty much remember my dreams EVERY night. In fact, each morning when I take a shower, I spend time trying to remember and piece together my dreams. The feeling of time dilation, and adventure while you're sleeping is great! Most of the time I have pleasant dreams...and even when my dreams suck, the feeling of relief when I wake up realize I didn't actually go to work without pants on, is great.

On the other hand, those jolting dreams that we sometimes get when we're just falling asleep are sometimes embarrassing. You know, like when you're sitting in class, drifting off, then all of a sudden you spasm and wake up to everyone looking and laughing at you (not that I have personal experience with this :)

Whatever it I like the way I sleep and wouldn't change a thing! What good is life, awake or asleep, without a little entertainment!

Monday, July 7, 2008

San Diego + Holiday = Insanity

Sometimes I forget that I live in a city that most people view as a vacation spot. Then, a holiday rolls around and I'm reminded with a resounding (and by "resounding," I mean 3 million people coming into town) yes!

For some reason, sunshine, warm weather, beautiful beaches, beautiful women...and ME, attract hoards of people on any three day weekend (Go Figure). In light of the alcohol-beach ban, I thought this year would be a little more tame...I was wrong. The only difference was that instead of everyone being so intensely concentrated on the beach, the antics were a little more widespread.

Somehow though, in the last two years of living in San Diego, I've managed to miss the bulk of the craziness. I happened to move here just before Independence Day of 2006. That year, a few of us went down to the beach to see what all of the commotion was about. After driving around for ages to find a parking spot, we finally disembarked and walked....and walked....and walked for ages. I had no idea where to go or what to do since I had lived here for all of two days. My tour guides, San Diego locals Brent, and Jeff (whom I've made famous by exposing his multiple blunders on this blog), took us on a freakin marathon walk of like seven miles (yes, the definition of a "marathon walk" in flip flops in my book is precisely seven miles) as I watched all of the beach goers partying while we wonderingly passed by. We ended going home at a nice reasonable hour.

Last year was an improvement. But I still went home at a reasonable hour.

This year was even better. First, I get an invite to a "Red, White, and Blue" Pub Crawl.

I love Pub Crawls. They always attract a fun and rowdy crowd, you get to meet lots of people, and best of all, the party starts early! Furthermore, this particular crawl was at Pacific Beach aka the heart of Independence Day chaos...just where I want to be.

I had invited a bunch of people to come along, but at some point, these other groups started straggling and were not keeping up with the crawl. At one point, I was running between three different bars to hang out with my different friends, all the while just saying "be right back!" and disappearing for minutes at a time. I don't think anyone was aware I was bouncing in and out all over the place!

Evening came and I went downtown for Darren's little house warming for his new downtown apartment. As expected, there was a definite hodge-podge of people that showed up including Danny's three very Mexican cousins.

Define Irony: How about 3 very drunk Mexican guys walking down the street belting out the Star Spangled Banner in thick Latino accents as the fireworks are going off. Hilarious.

Later, back at Darren's, the party ramped up again. At one point, this girl was doing her "sexy-dance" near me. I was giving her a hard time telling her she didn't know how to "get low." Of course, she decided to prove me wrong:

"What!? Just stand here and watch me Drop it Like it's hot!"

As she was "gettin low," all of a sudden she went crashing to the ground!

"Ah! My knee just gave out!"

Part of me wanted to say I told you so (but I'm not that much of a bastard). This was incredibly awkward since I've never seen anyone go down like that, especially while trying to dance "sexy like" (is it bad that I'm laughing as I write this?). Darren helped her to his bed to rest while her girlfriend who is also her trainer, iced her knee and stretched her out.

Apparently "seductive dancing" is a hazardous activity. Either way, I took this as a cue to depart. "Ummm...good luck with the knee and uhhh, yea just dance with more caution."

Next year, I'll be better off just staying at the beach. At least there if someones knee goes out while trying be sexy, they have the sand to cushion their fall rather than the unforgiving, and resounding hard wood floor.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Veganizing My Diet

A few years ago, a title like this would have scared the bajesus me. Hardly anyone I knew was vegan, and the restrictions seemed so massive and all-encompassing, that following suit in any sort of fashion seemed downright preposterous!

Even after I became the more Studdly version of myself, lean meat was still a regular part of my diet and included in nearly every meal.

In the last year though, I've become vastly more educated on the science of nutrition. That doesn't mean that I'm 100% healthy. I still have a massive sweet tooth and LOVE dessert. I also enjoy meat, but only indulge on some weekend meals. My diet IS about 93 % healthy though (Yes, EXACTLY 93% :)

I avoid refined flour, sugar, simple carbohydrates, and saturated and trans fats.

Let me be clear though that I'm certainly not a vegan, nor am I a vegetarian. I've simply "veganized" my diet such that about 80% of my diet is vegan. So why did I make this change?

Here's some factual stuff. There's a famous study called The China Study that was conducted by Dr. Colin Campbell, a nutritional biochemistry professor at Cornell, that definitively shows that meat and refined flour should be avoided. Not only does avoiding consumption of these foods extend your life 10 years (according to his studies), but it also improves the quality of your life drastically reducing the occurrence of ailments such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and strokes. Furthermore, hormone levels remain at a more constant equilibrium thus elevating things like mood and energy.

Dr. Campbell further discovered that there was a direct correlation between consumption of animal protein and things like cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Plant proteins on the other hand had no similar effect. There were more findings, but I'd rather not bore you with the scientific details. This Post from Ty's site has a lot of details.

I also have some issues with animal rights, however, it would be hypocritical of me to talk about that since I still eat meat. I do however avoid things like Rodeo's (which, after attending, am TOTALLY against) and horse racing.

Surprisingly though, the change wasn't very difficult at all!

First of all, it wasn't a sudden change. I gradually started shifting towards vegan cuisine, almost my accident. My old roommate Frederico, who by the way is the most disciplined person I know when it comes to diet, had a really positive influence on me as I tried the different "100% healthy" recipes he made. I soon started scheming (because as you know, I am quite the schemer), put my mad scientist hat on, and went into the lab to develop my own healthy concoctions!

I'm also someone who doesn't really need a lot of variety, diet wise. I find a few foods I can easily make, and eat those pretty much every day. I've had a big salad (and when I say big, I'm talking so massive that I've tested the limits of vegetable poisoning and it's not possible!) everyday for dinner (except on the weekend) for the last two weeks, yet I'm still looking forward to my salad tonight! And yes, there are a LOT more great vegan dinners than just salad, but it's easy and tasty so I eat it a lot.

I eat the same cereal most mornings (Nature's Path - Flax Plus Pumpkin Raisin Crunch! Best Cereal EVER!) and actually like Soy Milk better than regular. Lunch is nearly always Two Morningstar garden burger patties, an apple, a banana, and sugar-snap-peas.

Since I weight train regularly, I make sure to infuse every meal with protein. Legumes and soy are good sources.

So living healthy has required minimal effort. I just phased out certain foods I like, and phased in other foods I like...easy for me since I'm not a picky eater at all and like almost everything (gee, I wonder why I got chubby in the first place?).

I haven't abandoned meat or dairy completely since A) I like the taste, B) I don't like being picky, C) A steak dinner followed up by a huge bowl of ice-cream is amazing, and D) I like keeping my body adaptable to anything. Also, I think the effect of animal proteins is probably greater when I do eat them since it's not regularly in my system.

I've found a happy, healthy diet medium. Nothing is "off-limits," but I've established a healthy diet routine that makes it easy for me to be healthy without even thinking!

Most people are too stubborn to change, but I definitely recommend trying this dietary shift if you want to be on the path of Lifetime Awesomeness!