Monday, June 04, 2018

Highlights of Hiroshima

Had the pleasure of trying Japanese Nabe cooked in Sake at
a restaurant called "Francia" in Hiroshima.
Pretty good day working in Hiroshima for the Erth promo tour. We had two mini-shows at the Hiroshima airport, and then another photo session with the Triceratops at a different venue. Given the sheer size and weight of the triceratops rig, the Hiroshima airport show was tricky; part of the "magic" of the show is that we never let the kids see the dinosaur puppets disassembled; but there were literally hundreds and hundreds of people around the open stage. We got around this by assembling her in a tent next to the stage, but her size made getting her out of the tent one issue -which we got around by squatting as we walked out (if you can imagine that with a 70kg rig on your back), but then having to walk her up the ramp onto the stage was a different issue entirely. In any event, at the end of the day, it all went well. Getting better at vocalizing with the voice distortion box; (the dinosaur's "voice") is based off of my own, and the more I do this, and get used to carrying the weight, the easier it is getting.

As the actual show only has two shows a day, I think it should actually be easier than the workload we have for the promo tour; except for the fact that it will be for two months straight. I guess we will have to see.

Actually had a chance to eat raw mantis shrimp... pretty good,
but I kept wondering what it would taste like cooked, lol. 
Anyway, after completing all of our promo activities for the day, we went to restaurant in the Saijo area of Hiroshima (known as the #1 place for brewing Sake in the country) to eat foods that had all been cooked in Sake. While I'm not a super huge fan of traditional Japanese cuisine, this was fantastic. I actually had cheese that was cooked in Sake... that (quite naturally) tasted like cheese and sake at the same time. Couldn't quite get my head around it, lol. All in all, I really threw down. (Although that may just have been because I was hungry as hell from supporting the rig all day, lol. Still... no complaints.

Still hoping to visit the Peace Dome again to pay my respects... but afterall, I am here to work, so I guess that has to come first ;)

Each of the towers in the photo represent a different Sake brewery.
As Saijo is known as the best area for Sake brewing in Japan, the area is covered with them. 

Saturday, June 02, 2018

On the promo tour with Erth

Yutaka and I with the Triceratops Rig.

Just arrived in Hiroshima, our first stop on the Erth Dinosaur Zoo promo tour with Yutaka, who will be operating the back legs of the triceratops rig I'll be driving for the full Japan tour in a few months. The last show/presentation we did was in the Australian Embassy in Tokyo, and this one will be in Hiroshima airport. In general, I love Tokyo, but it's always nice to be able to get out of the city sometimes and see other areas of Japan. Especially if my official excuse is driving a robotic dinosaur, lol.

For only having a few hours of rehearsal with the rig before our first show, Yutaka has done an awesome job. As the full rig weighs about 70kg (the operators wear it like a tandem backpack) I was a bit concerned that our height difference would mean I would be bearing a disproportionate amount of the weight, but thanks to his keen scene of movement and his body, it wasn't an issue in the least.   I'm really glad to be able to bring him with me on this one. Looking forward to the show tomorrow!

On our way to Hiroshima.

Our producer/director, Scott, showing my son the Triceratops rig. I still don't think he knows that his Dad is inside, lol. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

10 Ways You Know You Are the Parent of a Toddler.

With my son Ty just after his 3rd birthday. 
So, after posting my last blog on my trip to Australia, I noticed and re-read another blog I had written just after my son was born, called 10 Thoughts I Had While Watching my Son's Birth. Coincidentally, my son has just turned 3, which means it's been almost exactly three years since I wrote that. As such, and given how much has changed since then, (my son is now a toddler) , I thought it might be time for my next "Daddy" post. For those who are still taking care of babies, here, my friends, is what you have to look forward to.

10 Ways you know you are the parent of a toddler: 

10. When the fresh box of tissues you put on the kitchen table in the morning has been replaced with a massive pile of crumbled tissues by the afternoon... and or tissue shreds... everywhere.

9. When the same thing happens to the fresh roll of toilet paper you put in the bathroom.

8. When you say to your wife:

"Yeah, he has diarrhea. But don't worry, he's good. I already changed his clothes, and diaper and flushed the poo down the toilet."

and she responds:

"Oh my God!!! That's the sexiest thing you've ever said!!!

7. When your son takes a massive dump in his diaper, and you are so proud of his man-sized turd that your wife has to stop you from sharing photos of it on social media.

6. When it's 5:00am and your son thinks it's important enough to wake you up to tell you that the thing on your wrist is a watch. Over and over again... until you are wide awake. And then he goes back to sleep.

5. When the songs that are constantly stuck in your head have choruses like:
"Lots of words begin with the letter B! Open a book! How many words do you see? Beginning with the letter B."

4. When your Youtube playlist consists of titles like "Rubber Duckie Monster Truck Colors".

3. When you start to worry because no one storms into the bathroom to interrupt you while you are trying to do a #2.

2. When a "fantastic meal" is any one that you can actually finish in the restaurant without worrying about yelling, crying, or having to apologize to random strangers getting hit in the face with a flying lego.

1. When you have this little creature that is sick as hell, coughing constantly, and sneezing snot rockets everywhere staring at you with outstretched arms that say "Daddy, pick me up." ...and you know that if you do, you are gonna get sick as hell too, and it's going to ruin your life for the next two weeks... but you still do it anyway; because you know that little creature is your little creature, and if it makes him feel better- even just for a minute- it's totally worth it.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Australia: First Impressions

After seeing it in so many movies, I finally got to see the Sydney
Opera House for myself. 
So, this morning I arrived in Australia for trial rehearsals for a production I may be working with later this year called Erth. The job came my way via my fireburn instructor from stunt school. He had worked with them before on many occasions, and as they had recently begun to do a summer tour in Japan, he suggested that they get in touch with me as not just a performer, (I'm slated to operate a giant triceratops rig), but also somewhat of a local liaison.

Long story short, this opportunity has finally given me the chance to get to the only continent I have never been to- Australia, so I am super happy to be here, and it's really interesting for a myriad of reasons.

As a city, it reminds me of Seattle a lot. Lots of water, rolling hills, and lushy green- but more tropical and "jungley" instead of deciduous...and apparently you can buy boomerangs everywhere, lol.  As any Aussie will tell you, the people are incredibly laid-back. More so than pretty much any big city people I have ever met. As an example, after my host picked me up from the airport, he pretty much threw me a key to his house, and said "Right. I've got some meetings. Take today to do whatever you like." and left me to do my own thing. This is in stark contract with the Asian sense of hospitality I'm used to where people will bend over backwards to show you around, take you out and be the best hosts you can imagine. But it was really nice.

All the trains are double-deckers. 
As I spent almost a decade wandering all over Asia by myself, I welcomed the freedom, and set about to make it out to the Sydney Opera House. As something I had seen in a million Hollywood movies, seeing it up close was a must; and looking at the map, it was only a few stations away.

 The train system took a minute to wrap my head around, (but literally just a minute) and then after that, getting around was cheap and easy. As aforementioned, people are super easy-going, so asking directions from strangers was no issue at all. My only complaint was free wifi was harder to find than I expected it to be. And I still haven't seen a single starbucks. It's fall here, (and cool) so a hot coffee would have been really nice. Another interesting thing is that yesterday when I left Japan, I was in the spring. Today, when I arrived in Australia, I am in the fall.  It's really weird sometimes to see just how different of a world you can go to on a single flight.

It was spring when I left Japan a few hours ago; but it is fall here. 
My first Aussie meal- A double patty, double cheeese, double-maple
bacon burger with a bun that was an enormous glazed donut. EPIC. 

Syndey looks shockingly similar to Seattle; but more tropical. 

And there are boomerangs for sale everywhere, lol. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Muay Thai Training in Bangkok

A shot with Tom, one of the Muay Thai instructors
at Chang Action in Bangkok,
who is also a TKD blackbelt. 

So in recent months I’ve been flying back and forth to Thailand to work on the pre-production side of an international Thai action film. 

While the work has been really cool, and I’m seriously digging it, I’m not actually moving all that much while I am there. That combined with the fact that I’m working with an incredibly generous producer who loves to share the richness of Thai delicacies, the fact of the matter is, these trips haven7t just been hard on the stamina, they have been hard on the waistline, haha. 

As I was out there and off diet for a full week this time, near the end, I was really starting to see it, so I thought it best to not just take in the local food cuisine, but the martial arts cuisine as well. 

The venue of choice was a Muay Thai gym called “Chang Action” near the place I was staying (at the suggestion of the producer). 

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience. As I was pretty out of shape, and had never practiced Muay Thai before, on the first day, I tried to quietly come in to join the class in the back being as innocuous as I could. At which point my boss walked in and said in Thai. “Hey everyone. This is Chuck. He’s a big-time taekwondo champion from America.” There goes that. 
We started off with conditioning and light stamina work, which was totally manageable, and then after that, I was asked to go 4 rounds of target kicking. For anyone who has never fought before, even pro taekwondo fights are 3 3-minute rounds. 4 3-min  (especially when you are out of shape) was going to be exhausting as hell. To make matters worse, for whatever reason after all the conditioning was finished, everyone else left, leaving me alone with all of the coaches. 

Still, at that point, the challenge had been issued. And it was show my worth or look like a scrub, so I went full tilt. It was exhausting, but as I learned from TKD fighting, no matter how much it hurts, you have to show them you are in control, so I tried my best to do just that. Got through it and was just about to let out a big sigh of relief when the coach said “Hey you. One more round.” And damn did he push. By the knee drills at the end of the last round, I was completely exhausted. 

At that point though, I could tell that it was because he actually liked me, and it was that coaches “love tough” kinda thing, so it was actually really good. I quite liked the fact that they had the attitude of "This is how we train. Keep up." As opposed to sugar coating it or making it easier, the responsibility of being on top of your game stayed on your shoulders. Don't know if that is a Muay Thai thing, if that is because all the teachers are young guys, or if that is a Thai thing, but it seemed to be pervasive for everyone regardless of athletic background or age. And it was shocking to see regardless of the aforementioned factors, how people did just that. Made me think, "Damn, I need to push my TKD students way harder." haha. All the while remaining jovial, and lighthearted in a very Thai kind of way. 

During the session, I was also shocked at how many high kicks and spin kicks they asked me to do; but later on I found out why. The owner of the gym also ran a taekwondo club, and half of his fighters were also TKD blackbelts. 

Overall, I was really really happy to have been welcomed (and respectfully) put through the ringer at their gym, even though I was a foreigner, and from a different background. (By the end of my second session, they actually asked me to teach them some joint-locking) I remember listening to one fighter talk about fighting and training with Thais on their home turf, and he said it’s just like being a houseguest. If you are polite, and respectful, you are welcome. If you are obnoxious, arrogant, and self-righteous, you are not. I tried the former and completely found that to be the case. My gut feeling through, is that that is the same pretty much everywhere. :) 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My First Sensory Deprivation Float

Eleven uses a DIY sensory deprivation tank in Stranger Things
to access another dimension. 

So not too long ago, while I was teaching teaching fight choreography at the ISS in Seattle, I was having a conversation with fellow stuntie, Greg Poljacik about the best way to unwind and relieve aches and pains during our downtime. Having arrived a bit before I had, Greg had somehow managed to find a Sensory Deprivation Float Wellness Center, and ranted and raved out how the process was not only extremely relaxing, and made you sleep better, but also relieved a lot of muscle pain. 
Some of the listed benefits of doing a sensory deprivation float
The chamber I did my float in.

Up until this point, I had only heard of Sensory Deprivation Floats because the character Eleven used them in the show Stranger Things to achieve a meditative state and access another dimension. Given the fact that I have yet to figure out how to access another dimension on my own yet, (and that may turn out to be a useful job skill later in my career), I thought I should give it a shot.

Along with the other instructors, we all paid a visit to Seattle Float as it was only a mile or two away from the U of W campus where we were staying.

How it works:

The way a sensory deprivation float works is they put you in a tank of hyper salinated water, so that you have the same kind of buoyancy as a life vest. (ie. You can float with your face above water naturally). Both the water and the air are heated to be exactly your body temperature so that once you are in, and still, you no longer feel either one of them. Each tank also has a light-sealed door, and comes with ear plugs to deprive you of all visual and audio stimulation, so in effect, you see, hear and feel, well, nothing. When you initially enter the building, it smells a lot like a Japanese onsen, but the aroma was really light, and once you were used to it, you cease to notice that as well. 

As for my own experience it was really fascinating. In my particular tank, they had dissolved over 1,000 pounds of epson salt, so, you had resistance even putting your hand down to the bottom. (The water was only about 10 inches deep). As it was my first time, it took me a minute to be able to relax my head and hips and simply let them float… (but suprisingly they do float just fine)… and my face stayed fully above water the whole time. Initially, I couldn't achieve perfect deprivation however because it took time for me to relax and stop searching for something to “feel”. For example I would twitch, and I could feel the line of surface tension that separated the water from the air. Other than that though, I couldn’t feel the air above or the water below. That in and of itself was bizarre. Also, due to my size, I actually took up the whole tank which meant I only had to drift a few inches before my head bumped into top of the tank (which happened about 3 or 4 times during my 60 min session) again, pulling me out of the deprivation. Apparently, there is a technique to getting in and laying out motionless; but it takes a session or two to perfect. 

The Interior of Seattle Float; a sensory deprivation float center near the University of Washington in Seattle
I could however still get it just right for about 15 min or so, and that was enough to have an interesting experience. After a while, I started to see bizarre patterns, and had the feeling that I was lifting out of the water, or spinning when I knew I wasn’t. I also had phantom tactile sensations in my toes, as I kept thinking they were brushing against the side of the tank, but if I wiggled them, they weren’t actually touching anything.

While it only happened a few times, I also completely lost my sense of time (which means I had begun to touch on a meditative state).

Finishing up:

At the end of the experience, music comes on to tell you that your time is up. As everyone has ear plugs in, it comes on fairly loudly, but it still wasn’t too shocking. After that, you take a shower to rinse off the salt water, and you are done. After finishing, you do feel really relaxed, and calm. It was actually more refreshing than taking a nap, because there is no feeling of grogginess afterwards. You are just sharp, and calm. Also, given the fact that I was soaking in epson salt for an hour, most of my soreness was also gone, which was a plus. All in all, Id say it was completely worth the $40 I spent to try it. As a lot of traditional martial arts are tied to meditation, and meditative practices, I have wanted to know how it feels to “lose time” in a meditative state for a while, so I was really glad I did it. Until now, the closest I had come to the experience was through yoga; (which leaves you feeling calm and refreshed the same way) but in this case as I was “gone” for up to 15 min at a time, so it was a far richer experience. Really makes me wish I had the time to go back to the same place again for a 90 min session. I would love to perfect the floating motionless technique so I could really explore accessing that kind of consciousness and that “place” I went to again…  Unlike Stranger Things though, there were no monsters from another dimension there. Probably a good thing ;) 

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

2017- Looking backward...and (more importantly) forward.

Sunset in my hometown at the end of 2016; looking forward
bright sunrises in 2017. 
First blog in over a year. Actually two. But with 2016 and all of it’s perils behind us, I thought that it was time to push forward, and in doing so, actually reach back- back to the source, the original motivation, and the “f*ck this, no excuses” attitude that has gotten me this far. 
At the beginning of 2016, I listed out ten goals that I had for the year, and publicly stated them on Facebook so that I would have everyone to hold me accountable. So what I would like to do now is take note of those goals, what I could do, what I could not, and why. 

First off the ones that are completed: 

Pay off all of my credit cards- DONE. 
Reach 1,000,000 Hits on Youtube- DONE. (Currently at 1.3 Mil)
Work on my first International Film Project- DONE (Wrote a Thai action feature film)
Get a Japanese Driver’s Licence- DONE

The ones that are not, progress report, and reason for failure:

Goal: Get down to 87kg (from 93kg)
Progress: Currently 90kg- halfway there.
Reason for Failure: Having Ty meant a general lack of sleep. Lack of sleep equates to laziness at workouts, higher cravings for sweet foods, and and far less physiological efficiency in fat burning. (If you don’t sleep well, you don’t burn fat well). 
Goal: Get my Ariel and TKD 720 kicks back
Progress:  landing them both again… but not consistently. 
Reason for Failure: Fine tune Athletic performance goals and weight loss goals are at odds with each other. The latter means you have less energy to work with; the former means you need to be running at your peak. Also goes back to the lack of sleep, and the crazy work load that goes with trying to feed a kid. Need to sleep more, and earn more per hour of work done. 
Goal: Create an extra $500 a month of passive income through video production. 
Progress: A little under halfway there- adding two more revenue streams in the next few months. 
Reason for Failure: One income backfired- in the short term cost more than it made- had to work more to compensate for the loss; consequently had less time and resources to produce. 
Goal: Complete the Kumon Japanese Grammar course, and move into the classic literature section. (2000 pages of work)
Progress: 1800 pages down. 100 pages into the classic literature section. 
Reason for Failure: Was waiting on the last package of notes to arrive before I left for Michigan, but they got lost in the mail and arrived after I left. (><)
Had I completed the previous section on my timing target there would have been time to get the last packet- even if it got lost in the mail. Shouldn’t have relaxed once I got near the finish line. 

Goal: Finish my current Korean textbook
Progress: Halfway there. 
Reason for Failure: Korean teacher’s husband got sick, and cancelled classes indefinitely mid-year. Didn’t find a new teacher. Ultimately no excuse. 

5/10. I don’t see this as a passing grade. Life always has challenges, and there are always roadblocks; but successful people are like sharks; they can only swim forward. As such, I have every intention of completing the remaining 6 goals, and as I complete them, add in several more:

1. Learn how to use the Tonfa, Sai, Western Single Sword, (Currently I can use Nunchaku, and Bo staff, and sword), as well as at least 3 firearms. 
2. Fully graduate from Kumon (complete the 600 pages of classic literature study).
3. Produce my next film or series. (4 projects currently in the works). 
4. Rebuild my person branding (which suffered a lot in the last year). Get back to Youtube and blogging and hit it hard. 
5. Rebuild my action instruction program, and (investor willing) open a brick-and-mortar gym. 
6.Reach a personal savings goal. (which I won’t publicly state so as to have the time and financial affordance to move in the right direction). 

2016 may have been a rough year (seemingly for everyone), but at least for myself, I plan on seeing 2017 at the opposite end of the spectrum. Day 2 now. Enough rest. Time to hit it hard. YOSH.