Monday, July 27, 2009

Over the Hill(not), New Tri in the Snake Country, Do You Even Wonder? Movie Reviews

The good news about the sport of triathlon is that you are never "over the hill", to the contrary you are actually always climbing the hill. Unlike football that definitely has a hill ascent and hill descent and can be real cruel to your mind set, triathlon lasts forever and keeps you very fit along the way. Now you say, well sorry about that ole greer but as we age we slow down so that means you are "over the hill." Then I challenge back that as we progress in age we just simply age up and still compete with those that are our age. So, while I scoot along at a 10:00-12:00 minute per mile pace and ride the bicycle 19-21 miles per hour and swim like a friggin turtle or maybe catfish or maybe a piece of every loving lead I am competing with this speed with others my own age. So, when that 6:00 minute miler, 28 mile per hour biker and friggin dolphin races by me or through me it is really no big deal. He or she would simple be racing against their own and I am racing against my own. So as I progress in age I have the opportunity to continue to compete, have some fun and even take home some bacon. Sometimes I have people actually say something like, man I bet you always win your age group and I just grin. The simple fact here is that if someone beat you like a drum when you were in the 45-49 age group bracket and has been able to stay healthy and still have the mind set to race this same bird is probably still going to beat you when you are 60 or 70 or whatever. My main point I want to make here is that there is no "over the hill" for triathletes and you can look forward to competing forever. As I look back into my past sporting life I recall how much I enjoyed football and track. I can still hear the sound of getting hit in football and the sound of the crowd when I scored a touchdown(yea I was one of those running backs that had speed to burn and just out ran people when they were trying to tackle me, plus we are the guys who always got our choice of cheerleaders). In track I can still remember the sound of the gun when it went off for the start of the 100 yard dash. Funny how you spend all week working out and nearly an hour to warm for an event that lasts under 10 seconds. Then after college I embarked on a very active and aggressive sport called handball. This sport takes speed, hand to eye coordination and endurance for long matches, and was an original trash talk sport. I can now shut my eyes and feel the delivery of a back wall shot that if hit properly, will hit the front wall very fast and about an inch above the floor. It is called a kill shot for a good reason in that the ball is killed dead and all your opponent can do is stand back and say nice shot, along with some &*%+# words. I still have fantasies about these three sports(yea I know I should be having sexual fantasies, but it just seems such a waste since that is still going on and the other three are not). But, as you age you just have to understand that 50-70 year old people do not play football, or run the 100 yard dash in under 10 seconds(actually 9.7) and the kill shot is much harder to master with lack of flexibility in the arms and hands. So rather than be over the hill you just progress to something that better fits the body and lifestyle, and triathlon comes along and it is ageless. All you have to do is think of moving forward and upward and always moving up the hill, never descending. Those would be my thoughts on that subject tonight.

This past weekend I was able to compete in a new triathlon in Sweetwater, Texas. Now anyone who really is in the know will tell you that Sweetwater sits very comfortably on I-20 on the way to Dallas but still very much in West Texas and is famous for its' annual rattlesnake roundups. Why anyone would want to round up a rattle snake is beyond me, but this little town of 9,000 people has made themselves famous for it at least in Texas. Now to add to their list of things to do they have added a new triathlon and it was held last weekend. Since we had already planned on doing the Odessa Tri on Sunday we just decided to take on the rattlesnake headquarters of the state and compete in the new sprint triathlon in lake Sweetwater. Now the funny thing here is that we didn't realize they even had a lake and after some questions found that this lake had been dry for a number of years and some time a few years ago when one of the hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast took a little trip to Lake Sweetwater and filled it up in a little over 36 hours. Now it is a very neat small lake with fishing, boating and now triathloning. The race is put on by the Bobo's soon to be of Amarillo and they did a first class job. All of the finer details of a more seasoned race were very evident and it was such a treat to compete in this event. Every detail, from the course layout to the safety of the participants, was taken care of and well planned. The course, while a sprint course, was very challenging and fun to do. With rolling hills on both the bike and the run I think most of us were really surprised at just how hard it was. Marti took a first place medal and so did this old football player. We left with a great taste in our mouth, including pizza, and drove to the West for the Odessa Tumbleweed sprint triathlon. This is a older mature race and while not very challenging was very safe with lots of intersection support from the local police. Hogie sandwiches were provided and for once the awards were presented in a timely manner, way to go Joe, we knew you could do it!! We also walked away with some first place medals, ate some Mexican food and made the 2 hour trip back to Ransom Canyon for some rest and relaxation. Thanks to these race directors for providing us a place to continue to compete and not go over the hill, with the chant, "never descent, always ascent!!" Our battle cry!!

Do you ever ask yourself the question of why something is like it is and it doesn't make sense, for example: You walk up to two doors going into a place of business and only one of these doors is unlocked, and of course you pick the door that is locked. Why don't they unlock both doors? You walk up to a door and it says, "push" but you "pull" on it. I see people do this all the time and so do I. You walk into a retail store that has 20 cash registers all lined up, but only one is manned with at least 10 people waiting in line. Why not just buy two registers, use one and keep the other for a back up? You walk into a convenience store and the person in front of you is buying a $100 money order, 5 lotto tickets, 10 super lucky tickets, and a pack of Camel's with a can of Skoal just for good kicks. Of course you are buying a pack of gum or a coke and have the correct change but you must wait until the above person is taken care of. Have you ever wondered why you hit all of the signal lights red when you have to go to the bathroom and you know you will never make it to the rest room, and then when you get to the service station with the rest room the door is locked or it is out of order. Today I bought groceries at my favorite market and they have done a real training jobs on the local high school kids that work for them. They send them through some kind of training school to teach them how to carry on a conversation with their customers as they push your cart out of the store. Some times the subjects they bring up are real weird, one day one ask me if I had been saved. I said, "saved from what?" While he didn't think that was very funny he started preaching to me about redemption, salvation and all that Baptist stuff. He also ask me if I went to church on Sunday. My guy today ask me if I was going to do any more today? I said, "no!" even though it was only about 6 p.m. when I was there. I thought that was a strange question and really none of his business. What did he expect, something like, "yea, I have a lot to do today like write on my blog site, eat some sushi, possibly give the dogs a bath, or maybe just read my book from George Carlin called "Napalm and Silly Putty" or maybe just have some good ole raw sex!! Who knows but what a question to ask. I think they need to re-think these little schools they are having for these kids. One day the checker was having some kind of interaction with the sacker and I thought I was going to experience some kind of action more than interaction. All the while she said to me, "how is your day going?" Well actually I thought, "it was going great until I had to watch this stupid interaction between you two and all I came in here to do was buy some groceries, not make new best friends!!" See you next time you little cutie and your best dude friend!

Movie Reviews: "Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince", *(only because the popcorn was good), These Harry Potter things are so boring I wait until I have insomnia before I go to the newest one. Sure enough it only took about 15 minutes to put me to sleep. And to think that J.K. Rowling has become a billionaire writing this stuff is beyond me. Now I know if you are a big fan of this rubbish you are very disgusted with my review, but the good news is that you know the whole story and will go back for more. If you are like me and you don't know the whole story or don't want to, then you will appreciate my review. I am saving my money and J.K. won't even get the bargain basement ticket purchase from me. Rated PG for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality(must have been while I was asleep).

"The Ugly Truth", ***, This is a good entertaining movie. Abby Richter, played by Katherine Heigl, is a romantically challenged, TV morning show producer whose search for Mr. Perfect has left her hopelessly single. She is in for a rude awakening when her boss teams her with Mike Chadway, played by Gerard Butler. Chadway is a hardcore television personality who promises to spill the ugly truth about what makes men and women tick. Some of the dialogue is both surprising and somewhat shocking. This is not a family movie or for the faint of heart. Rated R for sexual content and language(at times an understatement).


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Book Reviews, Movie Review

In the future I will be giving short book reviews on some of the books that I have discovered recently and also some that I have on my shelf that I use as references, i.e. Where Have All the Leaders Gone, by Lee Iacocca, and Healthy Living, by Dr. Andrew Weil. While I also have, Why We Suck, by Dr. Denis Leary and When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? by George Carlin I probably will save those for a real rainy day when dark, deep, sick humor is needed. At any rate I have been reading the following two books and find them a real "must" to be on the shelves of anyone who likes positive subjects and some road maps to a better and happier life. First, "Life's Greatest Lessons" by Hal Urban. This is a great book that discusses, in a real common sense tone the 20 things that matter. Mr. Urban's approach to these 20 items will keep you reading and almost spell bound to the honesty and truth that they reveal. Examples, item 4, We Live by Choice, Not by Chance, item 6, Habits Are the Key to All Success, item 12, Goals Are Dreams with Deadlines, item 16, No One Else Can Raise Your Self-Esteem, etc. Second, the other book is John C. Maxwell's, "How Successful People Think." This is a great book that can change your thinking and your life for the better. While both of these books are best sellers I think the real story is that they have so much truth in them and real application for anyone that they are must for an shelf or bed time night stand(the best time to read for me).

Movie Review: "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen", ***, While I said in my last review on these mechanical things walking all over the earth kicking humans around would be my last, I broke down and went to see this thing(also about mechanical things kicking the humans around). But the weird thing about this is these guys turn into cars, trucks and then revert back to a walking monster. Since I am not a transformer guy I really didn't know what was happening here, but I did learn that there are villain transformers and good guy transformers. I also learned that they have emotions and some even cry. Now to the story, the humans team up with the good transformers to save the earth from the bad transformers. Though out the movie there is loud action and one sexy human girl. Humor of an offensive sort is provided by the undersized robots Mudflap and Skids, with trash mouths. Go see if you like these type of movies, to me they get real old. It has a three star just because it was well done and made some sense, again if you like mechanical things walking around and riding around fighting the humans. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, crude and sexual material, and brief drug material.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Cross Dresser-Appearance Discrimination, EI Certified, Movie Reviews

The past two weeks were very interesting and allowed me to broaden my diversified interests and also experience a very comical incident where I was definitely "judged" by the clothes that I was wearing. Since I have often been called the ultimate cross dresser, meaning I wear Hog riding clothing to include black leather, sleeveless shirts on very hot days, a black hat and have a real mean smug look my shave less face(not to be confused with wearing a bra and panties for under wear). Then when I am in the triathlon setting I have on the red, white and blue of USA Triathlon fame or the navy blue M-Dot of World Triathlon's Ironman. I understand that it can get confusing to some but you know it is the same ole dude wearing this clothing. This past week we had a meeting with the new general manager of the Holiday Inn Plaza to discuss the contract for use of their hotel in 2010. Since things had not really been a real happy deal for 09 Marti wanted me to attend this meeting. So, I also decide to ride the Hog this particular day and went into the meeting with the sleeveless Sturgis shirt, two day old beard, black Harley cap, Hog stomping, zippered laced black boots and jeans with a large black belt. While we did introduce ourselves to the new GM he apparently did not get my name so after we sat down to talk he looked over at Marti and ask what my role was in the Buffalo Springs scheme of things. She then educated him to the fact that I had started the race 20 years ago and had been associated with it ever since. He kind of looked surprised since I wasn't dressed like he thought I should be I guess, even though most race directors are sure not trend setters in the dressing game. They generally wear stuff that has been given to them from sponsors or Goodwill. Regardless I then handed him my card that said CEO/Executive Director of the parent corporation that owns the race. He then settled down a little bit, adjusted his shorts and tie, coughed a little bit, and then proceeded to tell me chicken fried steak was he favorite meal. While I don't know what this West Texas gourmet dish had anything to do with our meeting, I informed him of where the Blue Ribbon chicken fried steak was being served in Lubbock and we moved on to the matters at hand. When we left the meeting we had a good understanding of our needs for 2010 and would be around the Plaza if they met our needs. When we got out to the parking lot I made the comment to Marti that this guy didn't seem to like how I was dressed and must have thought she picked me up at the nearest titty bar and was there to intimidate him with my M-Dot tattoo. Her reply was typical female all the way when she said that sometimes I just dress that way to throw some kind of male chauvinistic persona out there so that I can intimidates the suits. Wow, what a blow from the devoted spouse but I also understand her assessment and she may be right. But, I confess it was really an accident that day and I had no plans to intimidate, I just like riding the Hog and since when would you wear a suit on a Hog? It must have worked since the contract came to us with exactly everything we ask for. Guess you could say we are in Hog heaven now. This also reiterated to me what I have always known and that is many people really judge you by your appearance. So, when I am in shorts showing off my shaved legs I am a triathlete which is judged with a more understanding attitude, on the other hand the leather and loud noises of the Hog don't get the same results. Get over it folks we now live in a diversified society.

Last week I completed the Emotional Intelligence certification and I am now ready to start analyzing ones emotional intelligence, which is considered much more important than the ole traditional intelligence quotient(IQ). IQ is basically something you are born with while EI is the ability to handle emotions within yourself and in relationship to those around you. You can be a 180 IQ person who can't come in out of the rain, or relate to anyone. That is a person with very little effective EI, and those dudes are my targets. My Life Coaching will be in full swing within 90 days.

This weekend we will be competing in back to back sprint triathlons, one on Saturday in Sweetwater, Texas and then one on Sunday in Odessa, Texas. This will be the first double we have done in a few years, but is always fun to do. The driving is the worst part of it and by the time we leave Ransom Canyon and returned we will have covered nearly 400 miles. But, as we say in West Texas, it is a trip unless it is over 200 miles. There will be a report on this weekend some time next week.

Movie Reviews: While there has been some slim pickings on good movies I was able to pick up a few good ones the past two weeks.

"The Hangover", ****, While I very seldom ever agree with my local critic he and I hit it on the same button for this one. This was surprisingly a very well done movie, with some weird humor, and a twisting, entertaining story. The comedy takes the common plight of visitors over their heads in Las Vegas, then twists the expected story like a pretzel. The result is an ofter hilarious, and surprisingly original movie that initially gives four friends more than they can handle for a bachelor party, then forces them to slowly look backward for clues in "Memento" style. The action opens on the morning after, with three trashed groomsmen sharing a trashed hotel suite(costing $4200.00 per night) with a chicken, a tiger(belonging to Mike Tyson) in the bathroom and a baby in the closet. The groom, like their memories, is nowhere to be found. Indeed, they came to Las Vegas for the bachelor party they'd never forget. Then they forgot it. Be sure and stay for the complete ending, then you can see what happened when they lost their memories(actually they were drugged). Rated R for pervasive language, sexual content including nudity, and some drug material.

"I Love You, Beth Cooper," **+, High school valedictorian Denis Cooverman(played by Paul Rust) had a great academic year--on paper. An impressive student, conscientious gentleman and obvious dork, he never experienced such traditional high school memories as breaking curfew, consuming alcohol, fist fights, late nights, fast cars and making out. Making matters worse the absentmindedly proclaims his love for the school's hottest cheerleader during his graduation speech. To his surprise, Beth(played by Hayden Panettiere) shows up that night, determined to show Denis the best night of his life. It has some good humor but I really liked his best friend and some of the stuff he came up with. This movie is a light weight and should only be viewed with that attitude and during the discount hours, and hope for great popcorn. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language, some teen drinking and drug references, and brief violence.

"Public Enemies," ****, This is a very good movie about public enemy number 1 during the Great Depression. Johnny Depp plays the part of bank robber John Dillinger as he is being pursued by the newly formed FBI, headed up by J. Edger Hoover. It is a true story of the open bank robberies of the time and how Dillinger seemed to live a charmed life, both in and out of prison. He actually learned his trade while in prison the first time. He was eventually gunned down and died at the age of 31. There is nothing boring about this movie and I recommend it during any time of the day or night. You will enjoy Christian Bales who plays Melvin Purvis, who is given the task of capturing public enemy number 1. Prime time viewing is worth it for this one. Rated R for gangster violence and some language.

"Up", *****, Yes this animated film is really a five star and so much different than Public Enemies. We go from a violent bank robber to a very nice man by the name of Carl Fredricksen(voice of Ed Asner) who as a boy, met and eventually created a shared lifetime with a tomboy name Ellie. The real adventure takes off when Ellie passes away(they are now in their 70's I would guess) and Carl designs a method where helium balloons will lift his house and take it away to South America. He does have an unexpected friend on board with him, so he is part of the adventure. Rated PG for some peril and action(this is harmless).


Sunday, July 05, 2009

June-2009, EI, Movie Reviews

The month of June started out like it always does: Milkman Triathlon starts out the month with a great sprint triathlon that celebrated its' 25th year and had a record number of athletes. The weather was great, the event well organized and we both came home with a white milk jug. This meant that we had placed within the top three and it really felt good. Afterwards we then departed for the Dexter bar to celebrate our winnings, eat lunch and have a few adult beverages. Normally the bar is filled with triathletes from Milkman re-hashing the event and their race, but this year was different. As Marti and I sat there by ourselves(except for some black leather biker guys) we were the only ones attending the after race get together. As we started to count how many people used to come to this gathering, we stopped at 20, we wondered what the hell was going on. We wondered if it was us(we didn't get to shower like we usually do after the race, so again maybe it was the "odor" of the day that kept people away) or whether this practice of getting together after the race was just something of the past and now people had better things to do. One year there were so many people at the gathering we had to have a separate room for the group. With this in mind we decided we had to make the most of it, possibly drink a little more beer, eat a little more chili and tell more lies. So, that is what we did and it really turned out to be a great day. There was one dude triathlete that came in and kind of joined us by sitting to a table close to the bar and we had some conversation with him. Regardless of the lack of attendance Marti and I were able to celebrate our infamous Milkman White Jug, eat some great chili and sip some adult beverage before we departed to Lubbock. We enjoyed ourselves and have kept the tradition going of visiting the Dexter bar and also proved that sometimes Plan B can be as good as or better than Plan A. On the way back we decided to hit the Depot District in Lubbock and visit the girlie(not to be confused with "gay") bar, and sip some civilized Lubbock made wine. It turned out we hit a jack pot with one of the better local bands setting up their instruments when we got there. So, we ordered a bottle of red sweet and waited for the band to play. This day has really turned into a day of celebration and made us feel completely partied out by the time we hit Ransom Canyon.

One of the reasons we have always enjoyed Milkman is that is gives us a day to race and take our mind off June 28th, simply because that is when the 20th annual Buffalo Springs Ironman 70.3 was being held for 2009. This year promised to be a big one and the entries were coming in faster than ever before, so we were guaranteed to have a large crowd. Along the way we had our normal challenges, with volunteers not being able to be there or the weather looking really weird. While the volunteers are something we can work around the weather is another thing that we have no control over. So, with over 100 degree days staring us in the face and then thunder storms and high wind it made for some very nervous days before the event. On the morning of the event a "cold" front moved in from the NE bring clouds and high winds(25-30 gusts), temps in mid 60's, with a high in the morning of 75 and later in the day of 85. There were heavy rains during the run portion but nothing dangerous. The event went off without major injury and we had a new winner for the male side from Australia, Paul Mathews, and for the female side from Texas, Amy Marsh. All of the slots for Clearwater and Kona were taken, we enjoyed the great music at the Tequilla Bar presentation by Don Caldwell and his great band, and now planning for 2010. The city of Lubbock was a great host and Lubbock Sports has done it again with their hard work and support for the event. The Lubbock Avalanche Journal gave us great coverage with 5 articles(you can see on, the radio and TV stations were great, so it was a wonderful 20th year. Thanks to all who came to the event and may even read this blog, see you in 10.

On the way to Dexter I encountered some real rude retail store people in one of the convenience stores that we usually(no more I might add) stop at for water, gasoline, etc. It made me wonder what had happened to courteous retail store people and why their don't appreciate our business. After all if we weren't buying they wouldn't have a job. The rudeness all started when we went into the store to get some water, pretzels, etc., and when we went up to the counter both of the ladies ignored us and even though there was three cash registers they were closing out one so they couldn't take our money. But instead of saying something like, "sorry it will be just a few seconds while we close out this register, they ignored us." So, we stood in line while the line built behind us and they continued to ignore us and play around with the register. Finally I said, "Are we going to be waited on sometime today?" This of course did get their attention, but they still ignored us and my question(then was when I should have left the stuff on the counter and walked out, but I didn't) was not answered. Finally they got it ready, as their faced puffed up with indigence and defiance, and more rudeness was extended to the customers that pay their way. After I handed her the money to pay for the stuff she took the change and threw it down on the counter as to say, "stick it up your butt!" I then said, "was that in lieu of a thank you for your business?" Of which she said, "well you threw it at me, which I didn't, (even though I wanted to do even more with it than just throw it at her)." So I took my change and politely informed her that if we weren't in the store buying things she wouldn't have a job(seemed to be my theme of the day), of which she then ignored me completely. My conclusion is that retail service now sucks big time in this country and the customer is almost treated with the thought that we are lucky they are there to take our money and treat us like dirt. What I can do though is change to the store down the street from them, and direct as much business somewhere else and tell my friends about the rude Taylor convenience store in Brownfield, Texas. Please go to the Allsup's store when you travel through Brownfield and you will make me happy. You will notice I have not mentioned the nationality of the two rude people working behind the counter, since I know I would be hung from the nearest rafter. But, that also had something to do with how we were treated. NaNaNaNaaaaaaa!! I can buy my pretzels some where else!!!

Movie Review(Note-not many reviews simply because not much time was allocated for movies this month):

"Night At the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" ***, This is the sequel to the original and is actually a little better than the first. Ben Stiller is now a very successful television infomercial huckster, but goes back to the museum to save the day. Seems as though they are closing it so they can go to a more modern way of presenting the facts. Amy Adams play Amelia Earhart and puts a little zest into the story. Worth seeing on the discounted fee. Rated PG for mild action and brief language.

"The Proposal", ***, When a powerful book editor (played by Sandra Bullock) faces deportation to her native Canada, the quick thinking executive declares that she is engaged to her unsuspecting, put-upon assistant(Ryan Reynolds), whom she has tormented for 3 years. He agrees to participate in the charade, but with a few conditions of his own. The movie really gets good when they go home to his native Alaska to meet his parent(who are very wealthy, a fact unknown to Bullock). Some very funny scenes, especially the nude scene. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, nudity, and language(but really a light weight in all three categories).