Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holidays and travel, Movie Reviews

The holidays and travel go hand in hand like say, spicy hot salsa and freshly fried chips. Now a days if the holidays come up, someone is going to be traveling. It seems that no matter what the holiday is, I fit into the "I am the one who travels category." While I am never totally opposed to travel and have been doing it for a very long time, business travel and holiday travel are much different. Business travel is done with more planning, and the purpose is to secure business to put beans on the table, while holiday travel is normally done to satisfy some family member. It has been said by some learned person that the holidays are the time of year that someone in history has set aside for people who don't like each to get together, namely families. This is not to say that all families do not like each other, because that would not be true. But I would say that many get together during the holidays just to "get it over with, and get back to real life." While driving to Alabama for the holidays we spent 17 hours and 43 minutes driving to Huntsville, and 18 hours 43 minutes returning(more traffic, bad weather, and 3 wrecks slowed us down). That was over 36 hours sitting, napping, reading, and dodging the traffic or being just plain bored. But, it also sent my mind to thinking about this holiday madness wondering where it came from and where is it going. When doing my due diligence I found that out of 14 major countries in the world the United States has more holidays than any country. With 38 holidays spread out over a 12 month period it more than doubles the second place country, Germany with their 16. There is only one holiday that all of these countries practice and this is New Years, with Christmas being second and only one country not recognizing it. Guess who? You got it, Japan does not practice Christmas. The two least popular holidays was St. John Baptist in Canada and Public Holiday(sounds kind of generic to me) in Great Britain. My feeling is that in the USA we have way too many holidays and it should be cut down to a two week holiday in December to celebrate all of the holidays of the year. We should also cut out some of the useless holidays that don't make any sense, i.e. National Boss Day, Daylight Saving Time Ends, Good Friday(what about bad Friday?), National Day of Prayer(we should be in constant prayer with the state of the national budget), etc. We also added another element to the holiday travel by taking the infamous Buffman and Squeaky with us, you know a little more bonding with the family in Alabama. We had their beds set up in the back seat of the car and it looked very comfortable to me but they had other ideas, they would move up to the front seat and sit in our laps. Well I love these dogs like family, but for 17 hours in our laps was not going to work. So, for the first 75 miles we trained them to stay in the back seat. Buffman has those looks that can kill and I know he was thinking to himself, "hey dude, I was minding my own business in my backyard and you are the one who called this trip, not me. Along the same lines he was thinking, I love my doggie door and I can go out and run the yard, lay in the sun, poop when I want to, pee when I want to, etc." On the other hand Squeaky has the look about her that she just kind of adjusts and takes in whatever is dished out. She has a look but it is not a "to kill look, like the Buffman." But, they did settle in to their new sleeping arrangements and we made the trip without too much concern. One thing I did notice when we would stop to let the B & S relieve themselves Buffman has the stalking way of hiking his leg and letting go. He has to have the right scent, and the right place than all of a sudden he blasts whatever he has decided to mark. Then he scratches the ground with his paws, proclaims he is done and moves on. On the other hand Squeaky just does a little hump, does her business and moves on. Thank goodness Christmas will be spent in Ransom Canyon and if anyone wants to see us they can make the trip, we have an extra bed room. Buffman and Squeaky are glad we are staying here.

Movie Reviews: "Beowulf" 0000(yes these are zeroes). This is one of those movies that is not animated, but is not human either. It is those computer created looking things that look real stupid to me. It was so stupid and boring that I left in the first 15 minutes. Our local critic gave it a 3.5 stars, which his narrative didn't make sense either. Needless to say I would not waste a dime on this sorry piece of cinema(or is it enema?)

"Hitman" **, After leaving Beowulf I noticed this movie was due to start soon so rather than ask for a refund I went to this movie. The title says it all, since it is about professional hitman trained from their early lives to be hired killers. Timothy Olyphant(never heard of him before this) plays the hot dog hitman and of course the story revolves around him being abandoned by his employer and he becomes the hunted. Don't waste any good money or time on this one, just use it as a filler if you happen to go into a worse movie. Rate R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.

"Dan In Real Life" ***, Steve Carrel(you remember him in "40 Year Old Virgin") plays an online advice columnist, raising three daughters after the death of his wife. While on a traditional family holiday visit the plot thickens with him falling in love at first sight with Juliette Binoche. The dialogue and interaction with the family is sometimes comical but sometimes irritating, since they butt into everything. But, it is a very slow moving enjoyable movie. I would pay prime time to see it. Rated PG-13 for some innuendo.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Yoga, Bowling, Clearwater, Movie Review

Yesterday while traveling back from the 70.3 World Triathlon Championship I walked up to the Anne's pretzel shop, in between flights, to get my favorite giant jalapeno pretzel. When I looked back into the kitchen I saw this lady making pretzels and twisting them all around and getting them ready for the oven. It is so weird the way my mind works, but as I watched her I thought about my first yoga class last week. I have decided to follow the advice of my friends who do this stuff and try it so that I would not be as stiff and can meditate some, rather than be hell bent for leather all the time. So, my first class was called to order by this little oriental lady who had the flexibility of an uncooked pretzel. Not only that she was a black belt karate person and could slap me down on the mat in a New York minute. With this being the said I played my cards close to my chest and behaved myself. This kung fu lady would chop me in two if I didn't play right, so I listened. I found right off the bat that my body was in rebellion to this sitting with folded legs thing and then to try and meditate with all I had on my mind was impossible. But, after she came over and gently pushed my back bones into a straight position, twisted my legs to the pretzel position I was on my way to being the yoga king of the canyons. There was two other people, both women, in the class and I know they must have giggled all the way home after watching me suffer. But the kung fu lady was very patient and only threatened me one time with a massive body chop to my private parts. I was amazed when she said, "don't strain so hard to get in a position that it causes pain, pain is not good, we don't want pain in the class." Yea, and Marie Osmond doesn't faint when she dances! Who does she think she is talking to, I am all about pain, I come from the "no pain, no gain" student body and graduated first in my class with football, track, Ironman training, handball crashing into the wall, broken bones, concussions, and on and on. Pain is my middle name so kung fu lady give it to me, and give it to me hard. But, wait a minute here big boy, with too much pain there is no meditation, so pull your skivvies up and just relax. After my first lesson I was determined to go back and show her my flexibility and be a good student. Next Friday is lesson two, will report back.

Last week's bowling was amazing. Either of my partners did not show up, so I had to bowl by myself against my opponents while using the highest average of one of my partners. This game is amazing since I was able to eke out 3 victories to 1 defeat over the night. I guess the secret is getting their early and finishing off the first beer of the night and then getting that freshly cooked popcorn. It really hits the spot and my yoga tortured body was very lose by the time we started the bowling. My opponents were giving this little chuckle to themselves that there was no way this ole man could beat their butts without my partners. But, lo and behold it happened and I walked out of the alley a very happy bowler. Now off to Gilberts for some spirits and food, bowling does make you thirsty and hungry.

The 70.3 Triathlon World Championship in Clearwater, FL., was this past weekend and we traveled there to work as volunteers and work the expo. The weather was a little cool for Florida but great for the athletes. We worked as spotters for the professional athletes and spent 4 hours on the course fighting the other motorcycles looking for space to ride. The media thinks they own the joint and the officials know they do, so we had to fit some where in between to get our job done. Just so happens I was outfitted with a beautiful 2003 Hog, anniversary model, silver w/black trim, Road Kind Classic. WOW!!! What a ride and a fun day on the Hog in Florida. The race itself went well and the athletes were very impressed with the Championship. We talked to many of the athletes afterward and they were real pleased with the course and the race itself. We look forward to qualifying more athletes for this race in 2008, and maybe doing the race again as we did in 2006.

Movie Review: "American Gangster" *****, Well I haven't seen many 5 star movies in a row in a long time, but this one fits. While it is a very brutal, violent movie it is a true story and the acting is great. Dentzal Washington and Russell Crowe play, respectively, a rising black drug kingpin and an outcast cop. Washington plays Frank Luckas, who exploits an opening in the power structure to build his own empire and rule the inner-city drug trade(get this, with better service and higher quality drugs). Crowe is Richie Roberts, the only one who senses a new power player is rising even about the Mafia families. Rated R for violence, pervasive drug content and language, nudity and sexuality(got it all, nothing left out).

Off to Houston on oil business,