29 June 2012

Hiking Log - Mt. Greylock 24 Jun 12

There's the summit
So it occurred to me that I need to get moving on bagging the three highest peaks in three different states.  Plus, its been since 2009 that I went on a hike.  Realizing that there was a great one in my (relative) back yard, I picked up the Zupka Phone and dialed my good buddy, and writer of New England Outside, Grant.

Me: Prithee good sir; would thou leadest me to the peak of yonder Mt. Greylock?*
Grant: Yes.

So, with the date set, I tossed my overpacked backpack into my car and headed off for the scenic drive to Adams, MA.  Well, scenic once you get off of 91.  I meandered through the back roads of western Mass, arriving at the trail head for the Gould Trail.

Start of the journey
At this point, I would like to offer a few points to the Massachusetts department of outdoor stuff.  Would it kill you to have better trail markings?  To be fair, once we got onto the right trail, the markings were fine.  But, after ending up in a giant field and a false trail, we started on the right trail.

Stay to the right of this tree, cross said bridge and you're fine.
This was a spectacular hike.   A constant 5% up slope for the entire 3 mile summit journey.  Views were not in too much abundance, as we never got above the tree line.

The Trail

Finally we broke upon the summit trail.  It was a bit different than what I was expecting.

A road?

Actually, this summit does have road access as there is a WWII monument at the summit.  The trail continued just on the other side of the road.  Another short jaunt and we arrived, two hours after beginning.

View from the summit; Grant's head

Summit celebration
We rested, drank and feasted.  Then began the trip down via the same trail**.  The return journey was a bit shorter, coming in at 1.5 hours.  But, this time gravity was on our side.

I would absolutely climb this mountain again.  It was a great hike, with some great views at the summit.   The 5% grade made it challenging but not difficult.  There are a variety of trails to the summit, so next time I will choose a different trail and see more of what Greylock has to offer.

*The conversation may not have gone exactly like this
**The Appalachian Trail runs through the summit.

28 June 2012

Training Log - Week of 24 June 12

Not too much of a crazy week.  Hiked Sunday (look for a more detailed post on that adventure)  This week was Buddy Week at ABD, so I brought a friend.  Even though its a little more low key, still good workouts.  Next week guest instructors and the week after that new material!  Ye-haw!

24 June 12 - Mt. Greylock
25 June 12 - Buddy week at ABD
28 June 12 - Buddy week part two.

21 June 2012

Training Log - Week of 17 JUN 12 - Belt Test Edition

18 June 12
Muay Thai/Krav Maga - Tonight was stripe testing.

BJJ - jammed finger; did good rolling.  Learning a lot of neat stuff.

21 June 12
Belt test - AWESOME test.  Went from yellow belt to orange.  Can't say too much right now because as I'm writing this there is a test going on, and the first rule of belt testing is Don't talk about belt testing!  In summary it was awesome!  I went 100% for an hour.  Thought I wasn't going to make it at some points, but I sucked it up and made it to the end.  New belt means a new round of material to learn.  I'm up to the challenge.  Bring it on!

Dark Shadows (2012)

Many years ago, there was a soap opera that dealt with vampires, werewolves and other denizens of the night.  The name of this show was Dark Shadows and it went on for almost forever.  Correction, it only ran from 1966-1971 but since it was daily, it seemed like it was forever.

But this has nothing to do with the show.  This is a review of the Time Burton directed film adaptation of the same name.

Johnny Depp plays Barnabas Collins, heir to the Collin's family fortune.  The Collins' family was a rather rich family who came to Maine in the 1700s to start what became a fishing empire.  In 1772, Depp earns the ire of his former mistress, Angelique (Eva Green) by declaring his intention to marry his true love Josette (Bella Heathcote).  But it turns out Angelique is a witch.  So, doing the only sensible thing, she kills his parents and turns Barnabas into a vampire.  Barnabas is then buried in a coffin until...

We are now in 1972.  The Collins' family is...not doing well.  Let's review the remaining major players in this drama shall we?

Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfieffer) - Family matriarch
Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller) - Elizabeth's brother.  General pain in the ass
Carolyn Collins (Chloe Grace Moretz) - Daughter of Elizabeth.  Secret of her own
David Collins (Gulliver McGrath) - Son of Roger.  Sees things.
Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) - David's shrink.  Obsessed with Barnabas.
Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley) - Collinswood's caretaker.  Barnabas's thrall.
Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote) - the reincarnation of Josette; David's governess

Barnabas's coffin is dug up by a crew looking to build something commercial.  As he is... hungry, lets say the construction workers don't make it past this scene.  Barnabas then finds his way back to Collinswood to see it in its less then stellar condition.  He endears himself to Elizabeth by showing her a secret vault of treasure.  Que the Collins' ascent back into power.

But wait!  You didn't think it would be easy, did you?  Angelique has been kicking around Collinsport running her own canning and fishery business, putting the Collins family in its dilapidated state.

Its at this point Barnabas wants to hold a ball, which is now apparently called a thing.  Carolyn comments on how the situation is weird, and all they would need is Alice Cooper.

Cue Cooper!  I was really surprised and pleased that they got Alice Cooper to appear.  He performed 'No More Mr. Nice Guy' and 'Ballad of Dwight Fry'.  Both very good choices for the movie.  Carolyn did the intro to 'Ballad', which was appropriately creepy.

Didn't I mention that Julia (the shrink) was obsessed with Barnabas?  Well, in her search for a cure to Barnabas's condition, she was instead shooting up the blood she took from Barnabas.  We won't be seeing Julia any more in the movie.  Here's a clue: she sleeps with the fishes now.

Eventually it all comes to a head with Angelique.  She gets the town to turn on the Colins clan once again.  As the towns people storm Collinswood, Barnabas and Angelique come to blows.  As they battle in the mansion, Angelique begins to take the upper hand.  That is until, Carolyn's secret power is revealed.  With her help (and the ghost of David's mother) Angelique is defeated.  Everybody lives (mostly, except Victoria who is turned into a vampire by Barnabas)(but at least she 'lives')  Yay!  Happy ending...ish.

Except... Julia awakens at the bottom of the sea.  She's a vampire too!  Sequel?

I liked this.  It was dark, goofy and entertaining.  The music was all pitch perfect.  My wife, who watched the show like it.  I liked it, and had never watched the show.  So either way, give it a shot.  You just might like it; its got a lot to bite into.

19 June 2012

An old picture of myself 1/12

I already posted this over on Facebook, but remembered I should post it here too.  The first entry into my Old Picture Posting, this one hails from about 2001.

18 June 2012

Farscape: My journey begins

As one of my goals (the full list can be found here), I wanted to watch something that I had never before watched.  I had floated around a couple of ideas, and landed on Farscape.  I've always heard good things about it, and since it is no longer airing, a perfect choice.  I also wanted something on the shorter side as my wife and I just finished a year and a half run of watching ER.  I've heard lots of good things about this show, and I can't wait to get deeper into it.

17 June 2012

Training Log - Week of 10 JUN 12

10 June 12 - After four hours of yard work, I went for a run.  Little over 30 minutes, and just over two miles.  Felt great.

11 June 12 - ABD class.  BJJ class.  In BJJ rolled with one guy and neither of us tapped the other.  Rolled with another student, who put my arm in a chicken wing.  That was fun.  Almost got another guy in a leg lock, or foot lock, or some lock, but only got about 95% of it, not knowing what i was doing.  ABD was a little rough as the day before I did yard work which included fighting with a 4' concrete footing.

14 June 12 - Regular ABD class.  Fun as always.

Next week brings stripe test and belt test.  Bring it on!

09 June 2012

Training Log - Week of 4 JUNE 12

This week was a pretty good week training wise.  Week two of month 3 for Krav/Muay Thai is abs.  Felt like I did pretty good with that.  My forms are ok.  Switching to my left kick still feels awkward.

In BJJ, I rolled with Sensei McShane.  There is a reason he is a Brown Belt.  (In Jiu Jitsu, Brown is one down from Black)  I'd like to say I held my own.  At least he did not get me to tap in 30 seconds...but 45.

I also ran on my tread climber.  It was a bit weird at first because I'm so used to using it in its step/treadmill mode.  Did just fine.

Oh, and pants feel a little looser.  So, even though the scale does not appear to have gone down, I guess I'm losing some weight somewhere.

07 June 2012

The Avengers (2012)

Now that I've seen The Avengers for a second time, I feel more prepared to offer a review that sounds a bit more coherent than 'OMG!' and 'THAT WAS THE AWESOME!'

Quick word... There will be spoilers, of this I am sure.  Be warned.

To the cast!

Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark AKA Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth as Thor, God of Thunder
Chris Evans as Captain Steve Rogers AKA Captain America
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow
Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner AKA The Hulk
Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson AKA Agent Coulson
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye
Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill
Tom Hiddleston as Loki, God of Mischief
Stellan Skarsgard as Dr. Erik Selvig
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD

The movie opens with the evacuation of the Joint Dark Energies Laboratory.  Remember that glowing cube from Captain America?  Let's call it the Tesserect and oh ya, its apparently a doorway. As Hawkeye so eloquently points out, doors swing both ways.  Enter Loki.

See, Loki is a little pissed that his brother Thor cast him out of Asgard.  Loki is given the power of a Tesserect like staff and the promise of an army of creatures known as the Chitauri.  Loki gets to conquer and rule Earth, while the Chitauri gain the power of the Tesserect.  Nothing major, right?

Director Fury will have none of this.  He decides to activate the Avengers Initiative, which will bring together our heroes of the previous films.  The Council (Fury's bosses) are not pleased with this.

But, this, of course, does not go as planned.  The way in which our hero's come together is through conflict with each other.  And the conflict is good.  Thor v. Iron Man, Cap v. Thor.  Lots of smashing fun.

We all gather on the Helicarrier (spoiler: its awesome).  Loki works his devious ways and splits the team again, causing more hero on hero action.

Spoiler: Thor v. Hulk = awesome.

Its at this point the main event starts to kick off.  The Chitauri are invading.  Stark Tower is providing the source of the power for the gateway.  Time to destroy a good chunk of New York.

This last action piece of the film is superb.  One of the best parts is where ego maniac Iron Man effectively gives control of the battle to Cap.  Cap expertly doles out roles, telling Hulk to smash.  And smash he does.

Eventually, when all looks like it is lost, The Council decides to nuke Manhatten.  Fury has none of this and blows up the plane carrying said nuke.  Gotcha!  There are two planes taking off.

Iron Man grabs the missile from the second plane and takes it through the portal, blowing up the main Chitauri ship.  Portal closes, battle over, Avengers go their separate ways.  Roll credits. 

But wait!  What is this scene in the middle of the credits?  Could it be a spoilerific preview of who will be a future bad guy?  It is.  Enter: Thanos.

I know little of Thanos, but I'm sure he will be a good villain to face off against.

Summary:  I really, REALLY enjoyed this film.  I look forward to the next series of the Marvel movie universe.