The Staycation Of A Champion – A Prelude

This is actually Waikiki, but trust me after we're done this will feel just as good
This is actually Waikiki, but trust me after we’re done you won’t notice the difference

Next week your best friend forever is going on a week’s vacation from everything.

Unfortunately after reading that sentence most of you likely threw your IPad on the floor, woke your spouse or pet and told them to put on their clothes and get out of the house because your world was over.  For any of you who are left here, please let those other sensitive people know that my blogging is not included in that vacation.  It especially isn’t included after reading the VanCity Buzz’ description of a staycation, which lost me at the second paragraph where they asked:

“When was the last time you flew a kite?”

Yes, according to Van City Buzz flying a kite is almost the number one thing to do when you’re hanging out in Vancouver.    *Sure*.    To be fair, the author of this article might be under the age of 7, I don’t know.  But I *do* know that if you are looking for staycation expertise, your first stop should not be the aforementioned article from the “Van City Buzz”, obviously a coded reference for getting high.  In fact, if you think about it… “flying a kite”, “going to Steveston”, “have you been to the wind turbine”, “summer is coming”??  All subtle nods to an altered state of consciousness.  Almost too subtle to be seen.  However anyone trained in critical literary analysis like yours truly can agree that “What’s a Vancouverite to do?” actually means “I’ve got a dealer at Hastings and Main”.  It’s all in the tone.

Now, for those of you who’d like to remain drug-free for a potential staycation (or vacation) in Vancouver, luckily you have someone who is uniquely qualified to guide you and that someone

a) knows Vancouver better than you know yourself

b) is on a vacation next week where he is not going anywhere *other* than Vancouver

c) in a triumphant example of synergy in literature, will be tying into the “What A Real Man Eats” that we promised last post *and* simultaneously tying into this post as well.

But for now, get some rest and prepare for the most exhausting staycation you’ve ever seen!!

NextDidn’t I just tell you two sentences ago?!

Limited Edition Doritos – The Taste of Emptiness

A fairly well known fact to anyone who has made Justice A. Gray’s acquaintance is that I am a Christian with a capital C.  What does that have to do with eating processed corn chips?  Not much…on the *surface*.

pizza_pepper_jack_doritos

Recently I’ve been reviewing my church’s series on the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible (an excellent series, by the way – you can give it a listen here).  Ecclesiastes is the story of King Solomon – the wisest man in the Old Testament – reflecting back on his life and finding *everything* to be meaningless.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Bible, the book of Ecclesiastes does not actually mention *anything* in relation to eating Limited Edition Pizza and Pepper Jack Doritos.   However there is a *lost* book of the Bible referred to as “The Acts of Solomon” (1 Kings 11:41) that no one has ever seen.   If I had to make a reasonable guess I believe Solomon *might* have covered it off there.  Or it’s a proverb somewhere.  I mean, the guy wrote more than a thousand proverbs and we only have 31!  Can you really say that he *didn’t*?  You don’t know!!

Anyway, this article is not so much a biblical exegesis as it is a review of both of these flavours of Doritos, which your hero ate this weekend.   I’m normally completely impenetrable when it comes to marketing but for one exception – throw the words “Limited Edition” on the package and I will buy it.  It doesn’t matter if the product is identical. I will gladly fork over money for those Limited Edition Rice Krispies that are the same as normal Rice Krispies.  It doesn’t even matter if the product is terrible.  I will happily hand over my cash for that Limited Edition Horse Manure flavored Mountain Dew.  It’s *Limited Edition*!!  How do I even know that it will still be in stores tomorrow?  Don’t make me tell the lobster story.

I hunted for these Doritos across Vancouver and could *not* for the life of me find them anywhere no matter where I looked.  Finally I decided to dedicate some quality time to this search, so after 30 minutes of scouring multiple 7-11s, a gas station, a grocery store and several Macs’ outlets – and let me tell you, there is nothing suspicious looking *at all* about a man walking into a convenience store, looking from side to side and then immediately walking out again, so I do not appreciate those stares, cashiers – I *located them*.  Like any reasonable man who likes to eat healthy, I bought 2 bags of each.  Before you rush to question my eating habits, I would like to point out that when you train and eat like a human hurricane 6 days a week (plus appropriate supplementation) you are actually encouraged to take a small break once a week to reset your metabolism.  Now you know.  And of course

The other half is being a behemoth of a man
The other half : being a mastodon of masculinity

For anyone who likes to ignore the titles of articles, you are probably wondering whether these things were worth the wait.  I’m going to let Solomon field that answer:

“All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.”

- Ecclesiastes 9:7

These chips?  They are terrible.  I chased after these suckers for weeks, even twittering the @DoritosBC account, only to sit down, bite into a chip and find it wanting.  What do they taste like?  Pretty much every other Dorito you’ve ever eaten.  I gave a Pepper Jack chip to my wife and she remarked, “That’s it?”  Exactly.  That’s it.  That’s it for you and me Doritos.  I’m done buying your chips and regretting the purchase immediately upon opening the bag.  For years, I have kept coming back for more punishment every time you release some other “limited edition” flavor out into the wild.  Tacos at Night.  Guacamole.  *Mountain Dew*.   All of them like eating sewage!!  Yet still I ran out to try and buy these thinking they would be different.  No more, Doritos.  You and I are done.  Unless you bring out those Jakked Buffalo Wing and Blue Cheese ones that I can only find in select locations in the States.  Now those actually *were* terrific.  But until then, Doritos, consider this epitaph my notice that we are through.  No more chasing after your multiple flavors only to find myself saddened, lonely, and unsatisfied at the end of every bag.

“Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 2:11

Next: where a real man eats *real food* in Vancouver BC!

 

Then Die – Stories of Inspiration From Justice Gray

I want to apologize for yesterday’s post, as I know that finding out about your hero struggling with *anything* probably led a lot of you to shred your tear-stained, lipstick-ridden “Potential Friend of Justice Gray” certificates.  Alas, if you were foolish enough to do this, you will have to find some other token to pass along to your children one day in order to show them that their parent was capable of potentially befriending a force of nature.    I also want to apologize for *today’s* post, because if you thought that was shocking information you need to close your browser down immediately. I’m not responsible for the aneurysm you’re about to suffer.  For those brave, manly souls who think they are capable of reading onwards, here goes.

Hard as it is to believe, even your role model has role models.

Yes, it is true, I actually have people in my life that I look up to.    There are not *many*, but there are some.  One in particular I’m going to get into a future post as he deserves a post all of his own, but today I’m going to talk about two others and give you a glimpse as to how I pulled myself out of the physical abattoir I found myself in.

Ages ago I read the “Four Hour Body” by Tim Ferriss (actually *not* one of my role models, though I like the guy).  It’s a terrible book.  Don’t read it.  We’ll get into why at a later date, but I *am* grateful for reading it as I came across this anecdote from Richard Branson, who with his fantastic hair, killer smile, and rugged entrepreneurialism is pretty much the Justice Gray of Virgin Records.

I rest my case
I rest my case

At a function he was asked:

“Richard, how can I be more productive?”

His answer:

“Work out”

When Richard says work out, he means work out.  He doesn’t mean “hack your life, do the bare minimum you can, and get some abs”.  He said work out.  When he is at home, he does not mix cinnamon, garlic, do some air squats and inhale 55 pastries.  When he is at home he swims for an hour and a half a *day*.  Every day.

A second hero of mine is a man who was pretty much the *pinnacle* of physical perfection, Bruce Lee.

This is one classy gentleman
This is one classy gentleman

Now, I may be a supremely confident individual but even I know that a comparison between Bruce Lee and myself is *ridiculous*.  I mean, he’s a Chinese American and I am Canadian!!  As a result, we couldn’t be more different.  If you’ve worked out at all in your life, you’re familar with the story below.  And if you *aren’t* familiar with this story, then I need to apologize for a *third time* because

  1. whatever you call “working out” is not *real* working out
  2. you’ve probably never really worked out in your life.   

“Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We’d run the three miles in twenty-one or twenty-two minutes. Just under eight minutes a mile [Note: when running on his own in 1968, Lee would get his time down to six-and-a half minutes per mile]. So this morning he said to me “We’re going to go five.” I said, “Bruce, I can’t go five. I’m a helluva lot older than you are, and I can’t do five.” He said, “When we get to three, we’ll shift gears and it’s only two more and you’ll do it.” I said “Okay, hell, I’ll go for it.” So we get to three, we go into the fourth mile and I’m okay for three or four minutes, and then I really begin to give out. I’m tired, my heart’s pounding, I can’t go any more and so I say to him, “Bruce if I run any more,” –and we’re still running-”if I run any more I’m liable to have a heart attack and die.” He said, “Then die.” It made me so mad that I went the full five miles. Afterward I went to the shower and then I wanted to talk to him about it. I said, you know, “Why did you say that?” He said, “Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”

-John Little

“A man must constantly exceed his level.”

 

A man must constantly exceed his level.

That is the kind of working out that your hero does, the kind of working out that is good enough for everyone who actually gives a rats’ @$$ about being fit.  That is actually the kind of *everything* I do, and that is the kind of everything *you* should be doing, not your one pushup a day or your 5 minutes of walking or your 20 minutes of sipping a latte and getting in touch with your freaking inner swamp.

If you’re reading this, tears in your eyes, donut crumbs on your chin, I’m here to tell you that it’s time to stop doing nothing and start doing that everything.  Tomorrow’s a new day.  But the next hour is a new hour.  Don’t push off getting started.

Otherwise, my advice is the same as Bruce’s.

Next: Limited Edition Doritos!!

Memories Are For LADIES

Trust me, this is related
This is related.  Trust me

If you ever wanted a viewpoint as to how different the sexes are, read the following:

“Baby L is now Little L.  Rolling progressed into crawling that has now become wild running.  Receiving blankets are no longer a staple for going out, but good shoes definitely are…

I guess I have some “big feelings” that I’m not sure what to do with, either.  :/ And though I love entering this new season, full of life and laughter and learning, I am admittedly a little sentimental about how short the last one turned out to be.  The sleepless nights were hard, as were the clingy days, but how quickly the rain and the haze have brought forth the flowers’ bloom.”  

“Justice, when did you write this?”  I don’t think so, jack.

I will grant you that yes:

  • this is truly poetic
  • only someone who has truly mastered the prose art form could write it

but no:

  • this was not written by anyone with testosterone
  • this was *definitely* never written by any man who has ever fathered a child.

I will grant you that reading those words touched me (or would have if I were not hard as a diamond and cold as steel), but not because of some wispy, flowery nostalgia for the “good days” of the first two months of my daughter’s life.  No I am touched because this article indicates that my wife has suffered short term memory loss.   Show of hands, dads…who out there actually wishes they could go *back* to the days of their child being 1 or 2 months old?  No no, not you with the tiny dog in the stroller walking down Davie Street.  That is not a baby, and you are not its father.  Put your hand down.

Let me tell you as the half of the greatest marriage in North American history that actually *remembers* what those first months of my daughter’s life were like, I do not miss them at all.  The only thing I can tell you is that my daughter is fortunate that she has a superhuman for a father, because a lesser man would have faked his death and ran out of town after the first 6 weeks.  But no, for the sake of his family, yours truly managed to keep it together despite replacing his traditional workout routine of 17 thousand bicep curls with a “routine” – if you could call it that – of:

  1. walking around in a circle with my daughter for 4 hours at a time to put her to sleep
  2. sitting down and realizing in the dead of night that since she was in my lap and I couldn’t wake her, the only thing I could do was stare into space.  
  3. Play a funny game with myself I liked to call “have 5 minutes passed or 5 hours?” every 5 minutes (or was it five hours?)
  4. passing my daughter to my wife so she could have her turn at this for a couple of hours (except with added nursing)
  5. lay down in bed, pray for death

Repeat every day.  Forget about the gym.  When you are doing this grind for months at a time, just being able to look yourself in the mirror without bursting into rugged, hyper-masculine tears is a gigantic accomplishment.

You might think that a man who spends all of his waking hours staring into space and mentally rattling off the names of all the Generation 1 Transformers (in catalog order*) to keep himself sane does not have a ton of time available for the gym.   You would be correct.  In fact I had no time for the gym.  For months.  And it was in this sorry (yet still handsome) state, looking in the mirror four months later, that everything began to change.  But that is a story for:

Next time: probably *not* the continuation of this story!!  But it’s coming!  Take a look at this heartbreakingly pretty face instead to pass your time…

 

Not yours truly, but *even better*
Not yours truly, but *even better*

* what did I tell you?