"Well, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

This Just In...

2/23/15, 7:33 PM

In blogging news, Dr. James Vornov is returning to more active blogging as related in this post!

Happy days!

Movie Notes

2/23/15, 6:18 PM

I should make a category for this sort of thing. Maybe I'll call it, "Movie Notes."

Anyway, moving on.

I saw Still Alice last week at a special showing for the Alzheimer's Association, Central and North Florida Chapter. I wrote a bit of a long post on Facebook, which I shall not repeat here, about how Alzheimer's has become more of a part of my life. (Not me, at least not that I'm aware anyway! And no one in my immediate family.) The movie is good, but I understand the book was better. Julianne Moore gave a wonderful performance, basically carried most of the movie. I'm pleased she got the Oscar. It's worth seeing, but it's very sad, and a story that is being told in too many families.

In happier news, Mitzi and I saw St. Vincent last weekend. It's the kind of role that you have to believe was written for Bill Murray. Maybe it was. Maybe everybody already knows that except me! I don't know. You've seen this movie before, but this is one is pretty damn good and will hold your interest. It's not utterly sentimental, but it'll leave you with a good feeling. Jaeden Lieberher as Oliver, the kid, is excellent.

We also saw Lucy. Utter bullshit from Luc Besson, but hey, it had Scarlett Johansson and some entertaining special effects. I kind of liked it, though I had to grit my teeth through the premise and Morgan Freeman's seemingly endless recitation of sophomoric nonsense about "the brain." It was kind of like The Fifth Element, only not as much fun.

John Wick is a fun "gun-fu" action flick. If you don't like violence, as in people getting repeatedly shot in the face, then probably best to give it a pass. But if you like comic-book style action, think Shoot 'Em Up, (which was, admittedly, a farce) then you'll probably like this. And I pretty much like Keanu Reeves in anything. Sue me.

The Equalizer was a disappointment. I liked the 80s TV show it was based on, this is nothing like it. Denzel Washington is looking a bit thick these days. He's seemingly invulnerable in this. The Russian mob guys are the worst sort of evil. The violence is over-the-top graphic. Man on Fire is a much better movie with a similar plot and a Denzel we actually care about. Unless you're really into this sort of action movie, or a big Denzel fan, I'd say give it a pass.

Fading Gigolo was something of a surprise from a couple of years ago. Written, directed and starring John Turturro, and Woody Allen, I thought it was going to be a farce. Instead, it was a quiet little comedic drama. It helped that Mitzi is Jewish and helped me understand the context. Recommended.

We also watched a few classics over the weekend. Erin Brockovich holds up well. I hadn't seen it in years and enjoyed seeing it again. True Crime was new to me. I think Clint Eastwood cast all his old friends in that movie, there were so many familiar character actors! It was okay, not great.

That's probably enough for now.

Moon, Venus and Mars

2/23/15, 5:59 PM

Photo of an asterism of the Moon, Venus and Mars on 20 February 2015.

Tried to post this at The Online Photographer in response to a query on his blog whether anyone had taken a good photo of the Moon, Venus and Mars. I don't know how to link in TypePad comments, so I'll just post it here.

Donna 2015

2/18/15, 2:23 PM

Last Sunday, I ran the 26.2 with Donna half marathon (so, perhaps only "13.1 with Donna?"). My legs have been pretty healthy this year, I haven't had any achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis to contend with for the first time in a long time. I didn't train as much as I should have, but I did better than the previous two years.

One of the things that is somewhat frustrating in running any sort of distance race today, especially ones that are put on in support of causes, is that there are so many runners using the Galloway Method. I want to be supportive, but I really don't enjoy running with them. The Galloway Method is a combination of running and walking that can offer better finish times than running alone for a certain type of runner. Ironically, I'm probably that type of runner, i.e. not especially gifted when it comes to running. Nevertheless, the experience I'm most accustomed to, the one I seem to prefer, is to simply plod along at a consistent pace.

The problem comes with the Galloway people and the tendency they have to run in packs of anywhere from two to twenty people. I was planning a 12:30 pace and I was stuck with a similar pace group of Galloway runners. I'd be plodding along, and then there'd be a bunch of electronic beeps, someone who fancied himself a drill sergeant or something bellowing "Running!" and they'd pass me (by the whole bloody clot of them running past me on my right and on my left) on the running cycle of their run/walk. Shortly after they'd pass me, there would be the beeps and the bellow, "Walking!" (Like, what? They can't remember what to do next?) and they'd slow to a walking pace, and I'd have to run around or through them! That slowed me down and was frustrating. Wash-rinse-repeat, every few minutes for over two hours!

Adding to the annoyance is the fact that it seems to be a social event for them; and because they're walking for much of the race, they carry on endless conversations! The chatter did diminish as we started running up the overpass over A1A, and the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway toward the end of the race. At that point I just let them pass me and stay ahead of me. I was a bit spent from running faster than I'd intended for miles 5 - 11, which included the mile on the beach, just trying to get away from them. They were supposedly running a 12:45 pace, though I had to keep up a 12:06 pace to stay ahead of them. On the bridge, my Garmin showed I could still make my 12:30 pace if I just walked and let them get way ahead of me. (Officially, I ran the course at a 12:31 pace. Garmin and RunKeeper showed 12:23 pace over a distance of 13.24 miles.)

I'm glad that the Galloway Method™ allows people who might otherwise not run these type of races to get out and participate, but I think they're oblivious to the effect their participation has on other, more conventional, runners. If they had any awareness, perhaps they'd exhibit some consideration and run two abreast in their groups, keep to one side of the course and keep the chatter, the beeping and the bellowing to a minimum. But I'm not holding out much hope.

In any event, I'm pretty happy with my performance. Some friends of mine even made a sheet poster they hung from their house and cheered for me as I ran by, that was pretty cool! The weather was just about perfect, and my quads have stopped hurting this morning.

Maybe by the time I need to start training for next year, I'll have forgotten about how incredibly annoying the Galloway people are and I'll sign up and do it again.

Silence

2/18/15, 1:53 PM

At first, I thought my comfort and enjoyment in experiencing silence was a reaction to many years of working in a very noisy environment. But I've been away from that environment for over twenty months and I still seem to prefer silence than some artificial source of sound, be it television, radio or recorded music. There are no fewer than twenty speakers within 10 feet of me right now, and none of them are emitting any sound. I've even gone through and silenced most of the notifications and alerts from my various computers and mobile devices. The phone still rings, and there's a discreet sound for an iMessage, but nothing else.

And that's the way it is for most of the day.

Of course, there is a bit of a downside, it sometimes makes my tinnitus much more noticeable. And the sounds from outside the condo are often unwelcome and intrusive. We're doing maintenance and repairs on the exterior steel staircases, so there's the sound of hammers and grinders and the like. On Thursdays, the landscapers come and it's just a cacophony of small internal combustion engines and leaf blowers. On Thursdays, I sometimes do wear headphones.

It's anecdotal, so I'm not sure if it's significant though I do find it troubling that there seems to be far fewer Cardinals singing this year. Mockingbirds too. I've been out looking for the Cedar Waxwings, but their numbers have been far below what they had been in years past. Perhaps they've found better places to go. I hope so anyway.

Thinking Out Loud

2/18/15, 1:24 PM

It's interesting to me that I find it very easy to quickly write comments to the things people link to on Facebook, but I find it much more difficult to begin writing something here, which is where I'd prefer to do most of my writing. I suppose it's the stimulus of a likely audience and the chance for rapid feedback. That's a bit of a double-edged sword, as the immediacy and artificial sense of urgency can lead to some unfortunate misunderstandings.