You’ve just hurt yourself, what next?
You’ve just hurt yourself, what next?
I was all set to write a piece on my favourite books. As an aspiring author, I thought it was appropriate.
The problem is, I’m having trouble coming up with a list that’s suitably eclectic, aimed at ‘my target audience’, yet casually dotted with heavyweight literary giants and the odd quirky/ dark book to back up the thinly veiled references in my blogs to my ‘other’ side.
So, instead, a change of tact.
One of the pleasures of parenthood (in between the groundhog-day-type existence of grind and repetition that no one warns you about) has been watching things I secretly don’t mind watching while spending time with my kids.
So, here, in a gloriously non-macho post (1), are the definitive top 5 kids films as voted for by
me my kids.
Cue drum roll . . .
No. 5 – Ice Age (2002) – Narrowly beat Ice Age 2: The Meltdown to the number five spot.
No. 4 – S čerty nejsou žerty (1984) – a Czech fairy tale roughly translated as ‘with devils there are no jokes’. Here’s a short clip with subtitles. (2)
S čerty nejsou žerty (Picture source)
3 – Monsters Inc. (2001) – fantastic ‘foreshadowing’ throughout the story leading up to the ‘redemption’ at the end.
2 – Shrek 2 (2004) – just edges Shrek 1 out of the list, mainly (not entirely) due to the addition of Puss in Boots.
1 – How to tame your dragon (2010) – sailed into the top spot without a hiccup (#punbomb). A masterpiece. And yes, I want a nightfury (much more practical than a lightsaber).
How to Train Your Dragon. Picture source.
And the runners up . . .
As most parents will appreciate, I’ve seen most of the above films frequently; usually in sections, often backwards, sometimes before the sun has limped over the horizon. Rarely in one sitting did we manage to get through the entire film. However, all cynicism and silliness aside, it has been a great way of practising my Czech and spending time with my children, aged 23 and 25. (3).
What have I missed? If there are films that
I my kids ‘simply must see’, please drop me a line and let me know.
Thanks for reading,
(1) Cunningly designed in an apparently throw-away, devil-may-care blog post to show my ‘soft/ empathetic’ side
(2) The obligatory ‘non-mainstream’ film to prove my cultural depth.
(3) Only kidding. They’re 3 and 5. See how many times you can read this post before that joke stops being funny.
This post was originally written for my osteopathy website. If you are interested in running/ squatting or exercise, you may want to read on anyway.
I have read and heard a lot over the last six months or so about running being bad for you (1). It supposedly wears out the joints, destroys your knees, causes muscle catabolism, physical armageddon etc. This is as opposed to squats, hinging patterns (i.e. deadlifts), pulling exercises and being able to resist rotation, which are all ‘primal/ fundamental/ essential’ movement patterns (or whatever the latest buzz word is) (2).
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against squatting, deadlifting etc. Competence in these movements is highly beneficial (3), and would help us all to some degree or another:
Now, let’s look at:
Stop using extreme examples to demonise normal behaviour
Weight, distance, speed etc. are all relative to the individual. Being able to squat the equivalent of a small family car (complete with wet dog in the boot) isn’t always good for you, unless you’ve trained for it. Similarly, running isn’t always the ‘best’ exercise for everyone all the time. It depends on the individual at that moment, their training history, physical status, wants, needs and all the other biopsychosocial factors at play (see an earlier post of mine for a brief intro on this).
We’ve all seen the obligatory train-crash videos on the internet of someone missing a squat and hurting themselves, or running and pulling up short with an injury. Does this, therefore, invalidate all types of squats and running for everyone?
Sometimes, it may be advisable not to run (or squat) for a while or at least balance it with something to complement it. Occasionally, running or squatting may be contraindicated. But generally, most people should be able to do some kind of exercise (4).
Exercise choices are not always ‘either/or’
Not every exercise is suitable for everyone at all times, but not many exercises are inherently ‘bad’. I sometimes wonder why people sit on opposite sides of the fence throwing hyperbole at each other to see what sticks. Are they doing it:
Heard of the nocebo effect?
Such attitudes can do more harm than good. They help fuel the ‘don’t-do-this-or-else’ approach to treatment/ exercise/ life that seems common these days. This holds people back when we should be empowering them.
You’re crazy! You’re saying I should make my granny run a marathon.
It depends, I haven’t met your granny. But that kind of statement is typical of many discussions these days; hearing what you want to hear and distorting the facts to suit you. It is something best left in the playground but now seems the front line tactic of choice in many quarters, especially those in a position of (perceived) authority and with vested interests.
My son’s granny is almost 70 and planning a tough mudder next year to celebrate, having raced her first at the age of 68. One of my fathers-in-law (it’s complicated) is just past 70 and can’t walk any reasonable distance, but is fine on his bike. Which one of these am I going to encourage to run? Which one will I suggest to maybe just stick to cycling for now? Would I advise either of them to squat? Probably, yes. But only if they wanted to and then well within their physical capabilities (see this on exercise ‘dosing’ and this earlier post of mine on exercise and my unscientific take on ‘slow’ progress).
And then you could look at this 95 year old who only started exercising at around 60 and broke the 200m world record in early 2015. Maybe he is a ‘genetic
outlier’ who can tolerate this naturally. Maybe we should not look for excuses for our behaviour, and congratulate him on his.
The choice, execution and grading of any exercise needs to be taken on an individual basis. High diving with a grade 3 spondylolisthesis would probably take a lot of positive thought to deal with. Sprinting shortly after a recent hamstring tear and maximal squats on an acute disc would also not be my first choice of intervention.
Instead of jumping on the latest bash-the-exercise bandwagon and prescribing everyone several sets of ‘brace and tuck, pull back and down and NEVER-FLEX-YOUR-SPINE!’ (5), why don’t we celebrate the fact that someone wants to exercise? Why don’t we work with them to achieve it where possible, even if it is running. Besides, if our ancestors hadn’t been able to run, I suspect many of you wouldn’t be here today reading this post.
“Hey look, a lion/ enemy soldier/ live volcano!”
“Just squat, bro’, that’s all you need.'”
Thanks for reading.
(1) Which type of running do they mean? Jogging? Trail running? Marathons? Sprinting? Middle distance? Treadmill? Hills? Barefoot? Extreme? Or are they lumping all ‘running’ into one heap just as some endurance athletes appear to do with anything involving any kind of dumbbell or barbell?
(2) I feel I should mention how much I love deadlifts at this point just to get my ‘man card’ validated. That seems to be how this kind of post usually runs. I do. I love deadlifts and squats, I’m just not particularly good at them. Yet.
(3) Exactly how we do these is material for another post. Briefly, I think that unloaded movements have a lot more biomechanical give and take than loaded movements.
(4) Even if it’s Crossfit or prancercise. I admit to struggling with one of these, but that’s my issue.
(5) If we should never flex our spines, why do we have joints in the spine? Yes, flexing the spine (or any joint) and loading it beyond what it can tolerate is a problem. However, flexion or any other vectors are not problems (neither is sitting, but let’s not go there today…).
(6) There are various people you can look at for all things squat/ lifting related. Try these for a varied approach: Bret Contreras, Tony Gentilcore, Ben Bruno, Eric Cressey, Mark Rippetoe, Jim Wendler and Mike Robertson (Some are more old-school, others more evidence based, all have something to offer). As regards running, check out Mr Tom Goom aka The Running Physio (Mr Goom, if you’re reading this, apologies for spelling your name wrong in my previous post).
In June 2014 I decided to undertake The WOT challenge.
In June 2015 I finished The WOT challenge.
Here is my interview about it with . . . err . . . me.
Q. What’s The WOT challenge?
A. Reading all The Wheel Of Time books back to back.
Q. Is that a trilogy?
A. 5 trilogies.
A. Exactly, 15 books (including prologue). It’s a series of high fantasy novels by the late Robert Jordan (pen name of Oliver Rigney Jr.). Completed by Brandon Sanderson after Mr Jordan’s passing, it weighs in at a total of around 4.4 million words.
Q. 12 months reading 1 series of books? Was it worth it?
Q. Will you do it again?
A. At some point – once I can look at someone with a braid in their hair and not think of the Two Rivers’ Womens’ Circle or see a skirt and not think of ‘smoothing it’ or ‘plucking at it’.
Q. Any regrets?
A. – There was a moment in the middle of the series where I wondered whether I had made the right decision. There were other (non swords & sorcery) books that I wanted to read, I was running out of space on my shelves and there are some passages that drag in places (Valan Luca, I’m looking at you…)
But . . .
Those other books weren’t going to go stale. And for every braid pulling, muttonheaded moment in The WOT there were passages that were gripping. For each dip in the middle of the central books, there was a rise towards the end that carried them over to the next. For every man that would never understand a woman and vice versa (Nynaeve, I’m looking at you…) there were moments of ‘how did he (they) come up with that?’ For every ‘good’ character that we lost, there was an equally satisfying comeuppance for the ‘bad’. And some of the sense of humour (Talmanes, I’m looking at you!) and creativity (e.g. the use of ‘Gateways’ in the Last Battle) towards the end is fantastic.
Q. “It’s all been done before/ it’s a rip off of LOTR/ what’s with the bible references/ it’s a black and white cliche/ just look at sentence X as an example of him being a bad writer…”
A. Blah blah woof woof. Yes. Many of the themes have been done before. Most stories have been ‘done before’, most songs have been sung before. Many stories, regardless of the setting, explore similar themes: loss, alienation, hate, revenge, jealousy and so on. In other words, love – feeling, ‘owning’, the lack of, search for or resentment of love. (And possibly also death and the fear of dying and failure, these fears are arguably very similar). Life and living comes down to one thing – love. All these essential elements of any type of story telling through words, sound or picture are present in The WOT.
And for those of you who are pulling out one sentence as an example of Mr Jordan being a ‘bad author’. Count the number of words in that sentence and then work that out as a percentage of the total number of words in the series.
Q. – Enough teenage cod psychology, back to the challenge! Why did you do it?
A. First reason – I hadn’t found time to read the last book (The Memory of Light) after it was published. When I started reading it I had forgotten some of the details. Logical solution: read everything again.
Second reason – I had given up on fantasy novels, I thought I was too old for them. Then George R.R. Martin became an ‘overnight success’. (1) All of a sudden, fantasy was acceptable again. I gave into peer pressure and read Game of Thrones and really enjoyed it. Yes, GOT is more graphic and realistic than many fantasy novels and has so been deemed by some as more ‘grown up’ (2) and so is ok to read. But for me, it was a logical step to read WOT again. Going back to my formative days as a reader (Druss, Belgarion, Sam Vimes and, yes even you, Frodo Baggins, I may be looking at all of you again at some point).
Third reason – why not? (3)
Fourth reason – a friend of mine had just started the challenge and inspired me to do the same.
Q. As a reader what did you get out of it?
A. A lot of enjoyment.
Q. As a rookie author what did you get out of it?
A. The imagination put into the world building (‘Randland’) and the histories are both inspiring and daunting. As for how the authors managed keep track of the various plots and characters, I have no idea. I have a lot to learn. A lot. Really. Lots…
Q. What was your thought on finishing the series?
A. Is there going to be a sequel?
– X –
1 – I’m being ‘ironical’.
2 – ‘Adult fantasy novels’ sound very different to ‘grown up fantasy novels.’
3 – This post is turning out a little more gushing that I planned. WOT is a fantasy series. It’s not everyone’s thing. I get it.
A friend of mine recently made a comment about feedback from beta readers and editors:
“It’s your house, you can paint it what colour you want.”
He’s right. You can do whatever you want with your house. You can paint it in an eyecurdling mix of colours. You can fill it with a smorgasbord of cultural goulash. Go obscure, contemporary, cool, sentimental or just ‘you’. Don’t even clean it! It’s your house.
However, if you want someone to rent or buy your house, or even visit from time to time, you may want to tone it down. If you want people to do more than just poke their head round the door, choose a less deafening combination of colours. If you don’t want your visitors to suddenly remember there’s a nicer place a few doors down, batten down your eccentric urges. People complain they get lost in the corridors? Get rid of the sprawling extension.
If your tastes are a little distinct and you want people to look at, eat, listen to or even read what you are creating, remember that not everyone will appreciate your individuality.
That said, standing by your principles and having faith in what you are doing is admirable. I need to do more of it. If more people ‘walked the walk’, the world would be a better place to live in.
A few of the colour schemes clash something awful.
I’ve built my house. I’m now redecorating it. Again. There are a few draughty windows that need fixing and a couple of leaks. Some of the cracks are now showing through the wall paper.
I’ve found a builder to have a look at it and make suggestions. Hopefully, I’ll soon be able to open the doors to the public. Hopefully, that public will want to come back, with their friends.
As I mentioned in my last post, the feedback is starting to come in from the ‘beta readers’. It’s been an interesting experience, trying to remain objective (and mature) while my babies are torn to pieces in front of me.
“Why are you capitalising a pronoun after speech marks?” He shouted.
Some of the comments are technical, typos and grammar errors which I missed. Some were careless mistakes. Others were things I wasn’t sure of while I was writing the rough draft and just pushed on in order to get the words down. It’s mildly annoying on a level as I was quietly smug about my grammar not being too bad (another bubble burst). But, it’s all part of the learning curve and avoiding these things in future will save time and make the reading smoother.
You say tomato…
There has been good feedback: “very evocative language”, “I like the plot and characters”; and negative: “too much going on”, “too many people”, “it’s a slow burner but now I’m hooked” (i.e. the beginning is boring). Some opinions have been polar opposites; Dr. Swann has been described as an irrelevance by one reader and one of the most rounded characters by another. Some readers prefer short sentences, others long (though to be fair, a few of my sentences seem to have an allergy to full stops).
Subtle is good. Obtuse isn’t.
I’ve had to explain why X happened or Y said Z. Sometimes the reader had missed something, other times the world which is so clear in my head hasn’t reached the page. But the more explaining I had to do with certain passages, the more I realised I hadn’t achieved what I wanted and needed to rework them.
There have been questions over the motives, reasonings and actions of some characters but all in all the overriding message has been “I enjoyed it.”
I was never expecting the story to come back with no concerns or question marks. Nice though it would have been to have someone say ‘It’s perfect, the best thing I’ve ever read!’, I’d’ve been a little suspicious and it wouldn’t have helped.
I’m immensely grateful to the people who have given me feedback and those that are waiting in the wings. The fairly blunt opinions I’ve had to listen have been both bruising at times and refreshing in an odd way.
Once the last few critiques come in I’ll see where I stand. Then, I’ll have to decide which of my babies (and there are just over 116K of them) I’m going to cut and paste into the great word graveyard in the sky.