05 December 2013

I'm still here!!

No, really.  I'm still here.  Just lost some blogging focus.  But I'm planning on coming back strong in 2014.

Quick update on my list-o-things to do before my 30th: FAILED.
I'm working on a longer form, more free flowing list.  Look for that to come 2014.

Take care fellow residents of the internet.

Bloggingly yours,
Lord Zupka

14 September 2013

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)


To the Summary!
A mysterious monolith is discovered on the moon.  So we send a mission to Jupiter to find out its meaning.  Oh, and HAL 9000 tries to kill everyone.

To the Cast!
Keir Dullea - Dr. David Bowman
Gary Lockwood - Dr. Frank Poole
William Sylvester - Dr. Heywood R. Floyd
Douglas Rain - HAL 9000

To the Deeper Thoughts!
I really liked this.  To be honest, I liked it a heck of a lot more than I expected.  I think this is in part that I read the book first.  There were certain sections that would not have made as much sense had I not read the book.  Especially the opening chapter with the obelisk and the apes.

A fine Sci-Fi classic that I am glad to say I have finally read and watched.

09 July 2013

Training Log - Week of 23 JUN 13

23 JUN 13

Running - Crushed a 4.25 mile run in a little over 45 minutes.  Felt awesome afterwards, which is a great thing.

Biking - Actually did this yesterday, but forgot to write it.  Rode 11.5 miles in under an hour.  Again, felt awesome.

24 JUN 13

ABD - Stripe test.  Rocked it.  Bring on the belt test!

27 JUN 13

Well this belt test was nothing short of awesome.  Brown belt was earned.  I'm guessing there was a smile on my face the whole time, but I was breathing so hard I couldn't tell.

My Thursday training crew.  Worked out that we tested in the same group.  It was awesome.

The whole class from testing day.

29 June 2013

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)


To the Summary!

Days before he is set to retire, Capitan Nathan Brittles is sent out to put a stop to Indian activity.  Oh, and he has to escort his commanding officer's wife and niece to a stage back east.

To the Cast!

John Wayne - Capt. Nathan Cutting Brittles
Joanne Dru - Olivia Dandridge
John Agar - 1st Lt. Flint Cohill
Ben Johnson - Sgt. Tyree
Harry Carey, Jr - 2nd Lt. Ross Penell

To the Deeper Thoughts!
This is a fine film.  Don't really have too much to say about this.  I'm definitely enjoying my foray into the films of John Wayne.

27 June 2013

Thunderball

Nine books in, and James Bond's health is just now being called into question.  With all he's done, you'd think this would have happened sooner.  Turns out drinking and smoking takes a bit of a toll one one's health.  Go figure, right?  Well, M has just the cure for 007.  A stay at Shurblands Health Clinic will do the trick.  Against Bond's wishes he heads off for his health adjustment.

But why stop there?  Let's throw in an encounter with Count Lippe, a member of the Red Tong Triade.  After trying to kill each other,  Bond figures he is done with Lippe, and heads back to MI6.

Enter SPECTRE.  The Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.  Turns out Lippe was a member.  Go figure, right?  Anyway, they stole a couple of nuclear bombs and hold the world hostage.

M sends Bond to the Bahamas to poke around and see what he can find.  And boy does he find something.  Namely his buddy Felix Leiter and the nukes.  Not that Leiter has the bombs; he was just sent by the CIA to assist Bond.  Just when the trail seems dry, Bond and Leiter find the bombs and save the day.

But this kicks off a story of revenge.  The leader of SPECTRE, Ernst Stavro Blofeld did not take kindly to Bond's thwarting of plans.  And the hunt is on.

I really liked this book.  Its probably one of my favorites.

26 June 2013

Man of Steel (2013)



To the Summary!
Kal-El is sent to Earth to escape the destruction of his home planet, Krypton.  He grows up under the watchful eyes of the Kents, only to be discovered by his Kryptonian father's nemesis, General Zod.

To the Cast!
Henry Cavill - Clark Kent/Kal-El
Amy Adams - Lois Lane
Michael Shannon - General Zod
Diane Lane - Martha Kent
Kevin Costner - Jonathan Kent
Russell Crowe - Jor-El
Antje Traue - Faora-Ul
Harry Lennix - General Swanwick
Richard Schiff - Dr. Emil Hamilton
Christopher Meloni - Colonel Nathan Hardy
Ayelet Zurer - Lara Lor-Van
Laurence Fishburne - Perry White

To the Deeper Thoughts!
Christopher Reeve who?

Or

This movie makes Superman look like Superman IV.

Bold words, I know.  Perhaps a bit extreme.  But well earned by this film.  Its not even like there are a lot of big changes to the story.  It was fleshed out in parts.  The downfall and destruction of Krypton for example.  I'm not begrudging the originals at all.  I love the first two; they are great movies.  But Man of Steel does something that has always been (in my opinion) missing from Superman.

It makes him interesting.  I've always found Superman to be straight laced, and admittedly, bland.  But the Clark/Kal-El we get here is a bit deeper, a bit darker.

Instead of being exposed to his life in chronological order, we are given a series of flashbacks that show how he was shaped by Jonathan and Martha Kent.  How Martha taught him to control his powers and Jonathan taught him to temper his power and strength.

Clark finally finds a Kryptonian scout ship (becomes the Fortress of Solitude) and activates it.  Well, this brings Earth to the attention of one General Zod.

Zod and his followers were banished to the Phantom Zone for their attempted coup of the Kryptonian government.  But when Krypton was destroyed, their ship was pulled out of the Phantom Zone.  Using some inginuity, they re-wire their ship and head to Earth to capture Kal-El.  What makes Kal so special is that he was born of love.  Not purpose.  All Kryptonian children and programmed to do something particular when born.  Jor-El, scientist.  Zod, military leader.  So Kal-El is an abomination in Zod's eyes.

Once Zod and company get to Clark/Superman, the movie takes off.

See what I did there?

Moving on.

Smallville is leveled, as is most of Metropolis.  This is a battle between supermen.  There's going to be damage.  And there's damage.  Lots and lots of damage.  Needless to say, Superman wins; saving the city.

Our final scene is Clark arriving at The Daily Planet to start his career as a journalist.  Lois already knows who Clark really is, and there's an unspoken agreement between them to keep his secret safe.

I liked this movie.  It really blows all previous Superman films away.  I don't know if its technology finally giving us the visuals to bring some of these things to light. But, damn.  This is a great movie.  I thought Henry Cavill was perfectly cast and I can't wait to see the next installment in this cinematic adventure.


23 June 2013

Training Log - Week of 16 JUN 13

16 JUN 13

Biking and Running - Did my first combo training today.  Felt pretty good afterwards.  I did half the distances of the Hammerfest Sprint tri that I'll be doing in September   So, 7 miles on the bike and 2 for the run.  Paces for both were right on.  Hopefully that trend continues.


17 JUN 13

ABD - Last week of review before stripe and belt testing.  Everything feels good.  Some minor tweaks, and I should be good to go.


20 JUL 13

ABD - Final review before stripe and belt testing next week.  Felt really good about everything today.  Can't wait for next week!

15 June 2013

Training Log - Week of 9 JUN 13

9 JUN 13

Biking - Planned on 8 miles.  Did 9.5 in about 45 minutes.  Then proceeded to do some epic yard work.  It was a good day for physical activity.

10 JUN 13

ABD - Second week of month three.  Intensity is high.  Everything feels pretty tight for the most part.  My kicks felt off, and the pendulum teeps gave me trouble, but that's par for the course.

13 JUN 13

ABD - Sparring, review.  Its was all good this day.

09 June 2013

Training Log - Week of 2 JUN 13

2 JUN 13

Biking - Rocked a 7 mile-ish ride this morning.  Had a great pace, and my knee bothered me not.

3 JUN 13

ABD - Fist day of month three.  Thighs bugged me a bit, but nothing I couldn't push through.  Reviewed the first part of our Muay Thai, straight knife defense and underhand knife defense.

6 JUN 13

ABD - Second day of month three.  Felt great throughout.  Did some sparring, which is always a blast. Ended the class with 10 punch outs/1 sprawl, 10 punch outs/2 sprawls, all the way up to 10 sprawls.  That sucked, but in a good way.

8 JUN 13

Running - 4 miles in 45 minutes.  I'll take it.  Knee pain?  What knee pain?

05 June 2013

They Were Expendable (1945)


To the Summary!
In the days leading up to and following Pearl Harbor, a group of young Navy lieutenants fight to get their new PT boats into action.

To the Cast!
Robert Montgomery - Lieutenant John Brickley
John Wayne - Lieutenant JG "Rusty" Ryan
Donna Reed - 2nd Lieutenant Sandy Davyss
Jack Holt  - General Martin
Ward Bond - BMC "Boats" Mulcahey

To the Deeper Thoughts!
I've always liked the older black and white war films.  There's just something about them.

And this is no exception.  Starring John Wayne and Robert Montgomery, They Were Expendable tells the tale of the early days of the PT boats.  There's the requisite love story between Wayne and Reed; although its not a large part of the film.

Running at a little over two hours, it moved pretty quickly.  Plenty of action sequences kept it moving along.

Ya, not much else to say.  Its a good film.  If you're a fan of the early WWII films, and have yet to seek this out, then go seek it out.

04 June 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

SPOILERS BELOW THIS MARK!!!


To the Summary!
Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise are dispateched to catch the terrorist known as John Harrison.

To the Cast!
Chris Pine - James T. Kirk
Zachary Quinto - Spock
Zoe Saldana - Uhura
Karl Urban - McCoy
Simon Pegg - Scotty
John Cho - Sulu
Anton Yelchin - Chekov
Benedict Cumberbatch - Khan
Bruce Greenwood - Pike
Peter Weller - Marcus
Alice Eve - Carol Marcus

To the Deeper Thoughts!
There was a lot of trepidation approaching this movie.  Would they go there?  Would they dare?

Well, they did.  For the longest time, I was convinced that Gary Mitchell was going to be our advesary for the second adventure of the crew of the Enterprise.  And why not?  They were styling Alice Eve to look a hell of a lot like Elizabeth Dehner.

But no, they went Khan.

Which... I'm ok with.  I know there was all the denial about Khan was going to be in the film.  And that was kind of bullshit.  But I can't compare this film to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

I felt this was a great follow up to the reboot from 2009. (My thoughts for that film can be found here)

We see a Kirk that is still fairly untested in the command chair.  He's more arrogant and sure of himself than we are used to.  He has yet to truly taste failure.  So when Khan reviles himself, it is easy to see how he is manipulated by Admiral Marcus into going after Khan.

Straight to Qu'onos.  Which  YAY!  Klingons.  They looked kinda awesome.

So there's some double crosses, triple crosses.  Hell, I think there might have even been a quad cross in there somewhere.  I mean Section 31 was involved, so that was the reason for all the crosses.  It was a great ride.

And I understand why they did some of what they did with the dialogue and switching of major events.  And I'm still ok with that.  If there was one moment that took me out of the film, it was Spock Prime.  I don't really think he was needed.  Added nothing to the film really, other than foreshadow what we all kinda knew was coming.  But, they don't pay me the big bucks to make these decisions.

I liked it.  I look forward to future viewings of it.  I'm curious as to what they are going to do for the 50th anniversary of Trek.  Will they bring Khan back?  Develop the romance between Kirk and Carol Marcus?  War with the Klingons?  Romulans?  Who knows.  What I know is that I can't wait to find out.

31 May 2013

Training Log - Week of 26 MAY 13

26 MAY 13

Biking - Rocked a 6.25 mile ride in about 40 minutes.  I'll take that as a win.  Goal is 14 miles eventually.  That's the distance of the relay triathlon bike portion that I would like to do this September.

27 MAY 13

Running - Literally right in the middle of my run, my knee decided to act the fool.  Had to walk most of the way back as anything faster than a quick walk made my knee act up.  I mean, I still did 3 miles in 40 minutes, so its still an overall win.

28 MAY 13

No more training for me this week.  Apparently I tweaked a tendon on the outside of my knee.  Brace, ice and no martial arts/running/biking for a week.

30 May 2013

New Orleans 2013 - Sunday and Monday (AKA Shopping fail and Plantation win)


At Oak Alley Plantation
Now we come to our final two days in New Orleans and the surrounding area.  Sunday was a day to be dedicated to Mother's Resturant, Cafe Du Monde and shopping.

Lets work this day in reverse a bit.


So, Leanda likes to shop.  Who doesn't?  So I pull out the (mostly) trusty AAA guide.  Six miles of shopping to be had on Magazine Street!  Awesome!  Let us shop.


Fast forward to two tired people and no shopping.  This is strange says we!  We get back to the Quarter, and inquire as to the shopping on Magazine Street.  That's when we find out there is shopping... another couple of miles out from where we turned around.  One taxi cab ride later we arrived at Magazine and Washington streets.  Fairly ok shopping.  Nothing for me, but Leanda made a killing.


So, back to the beginning of the day.


We stolled over to Cafe Du Monde, known for its beignets and cafe au lait.  Beignets are basically fried dough... French doughnuts COVERED in powdered sugar.  If I'm honest, they were ok.  Nothing spectacular, but the ambiance and the company more than made up for it.





More exploring, then over to Mother's for some po'boys.  I got their Famous Ferdi Special (ham, turkey covered in debris).  Leanda once again noshed on some jambalaya.  Good food.  HUGE menue, so more to try the next time we are down there.  And we will go back.  Probably when Owen is a bit older and can appreciate the city and its history.  Our culinary day wrapped up with a light(ish) dinner at Bistroux, a hotel restaurant not far from our lodging.  I got a cuban sandwich and a drink known as a Pimm's Cup.  It was an interesting gin based drink.  Not sure I'll ever drink it again, as it is something of an acquired taste.

Monday we hopped into our rented Chrysler 200 (when I was expecting a Chevy Spark (or something similar)) and headed outside the city to visit Oak Ally Plantation.
An alley of oaks... get it?
Oak Alley Plantation is a sugar cane plantation situated on the Mississippi River.  Very picturesque.  Took a tour of the house, and learned a lot about the history of plantations in Louisiana.  A very different way of life from that of New England during the same period.  This is just one of the many plantations that you can visit, and I recommend this one, or any for a step back into history.  After a light snack of pecan ice cream, we headed for the Abita Brew Pub
One of the residents
Turns out the Abita Brew Pub is closed on Mondays!  Ah well.  Instead we hit a place called Zea in Covington, LA.  I chowed down on fried catfish, hush puppies, grits, rice and beans.  Leanda had a portobello panini.  VERY good food, almost glad the brew pub was closed.  The catfish fell apart if my fork got even remotely close to it.  If I'm ever near one of these again, I will pay a return visit.


And thus completes our adventure in New Orleans.  Tuesday was a super early wake up, near miss of a flight in DC and home.  We both really enjoyed New Orleans and look forward to returning again someday.

New Orleans is still recovering from Katrina and its aftermath.  But this is no reason not to visit.  Don't believe the negative stories you may here.  Visit once, and you'll fall in love just like we did.

29 May 2013

The Thing (2011)


To the Summary!
Here, we learn the events leading up to the opening scene of... well, The Thing (1982).

To the Cast!
Mary Elizabeth Winstead - Kate Lloyd
Joel Edgerton - Sam Carter
Ulrich Thomsen - Dr. Sander Halvorson
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje - Derek Jameson
Eric Christian Olsen - Adam Finch
Tron Espen Seim - Edvard Wolner

To The Deeper Thoughts!
This movie is an answer to the question:  Do we need a prequel for a classic movie?  The answer here is... no.  Which isn't to say that this movie wasn't good.  I mean, it was.  In its own way.  But as viewed as a prequel to a classic horror film; not needed.  The best sequence of the film was the post credits sequence showing the opening helicopter chase of the original.

As a stand alone, it was a pretty good movie.  As a prequel to a classic, not so much.

26 May 2013

Training Log - Week of 19 MAY 13

19 MAY 13

Running - rocked the Tread climber today due to rain.

20 MAY 13

ABD - Review week, Month Two.  Went over our Muay Thai combo and knife attacks.  Everything felt pretty good.

23 MAY 13

ABD - More review.  No complaints.  Everything is going well.

Weight Loss

Weight: 172.2 (-.6)
Body Fat %: 16.6% (+.3%)

Can't complain about those numbers.  I hit a total loss of 70 pounds today, so I'll take it.

24 May 2013

The Thing (1982)



To the Summary!
In the desolation that is the Antarctic, an American research team falls victim to an alien life form.

To the Cast!
Kurt Russell - MacReady
Wilford Brimley - Blair
Keith David - Childs
Donald Moffat - Garry
Richard Masur - Clark
David Clennon - Palmer
Charles Hallahan - Norris
Joel Polis - Fuchs
T.K. Carter - Nauls
Richard Dysart - Cooper
Thomas G. Waites - Windows
Peter Maloney - Bennings
Norbert Weisser - Norwegian
Larry J. Franco - Norwegian Passenger with Rifle

To the Deeper Thoughts!
Well, the summary pretty much covers the whole movie.  One quiet day, a helicopter carrying some Norwegian's is seen chasing down a dog.  The helicopter lands, peoples get shot, and the dog is rescued by the American team.

And then all hell breaks loose.

Turns out the dog is a carrier for an alien being that can imitate its victims perfectly, making it hard to identify just whom has been replaced.

No spoiler here.  Everyone dies.  None well.  Shootings, roastings, being eaten by said alien, and freezing to death are all employed here as means to dispatch the American crew.

I liked this.  The effects, while dated, were still pretty awesome.  Absolutely worth a watch.

New Orleans 2013 - Saturday (AKA In which we learn the real reason New Orleans buries above ground)

New Orleans, Day two.

Another day of exploration and excitement to be had in the city of New Orleans


This is a robot move...
So, we spent part of the morning exploring Jackson Square.  There was a great selection of artists and street performers (like the gentleman above).  Its a great place to just hang out and people watch.  Set against the back drop of St. Louis Cathedral  and a giant statue of Andrew Jackson.










We then descended into the macabre by taking a tour of St. Louis Cemetery No.1.  New Orleans is know for its above ground burial system.  Why is this, you ask?  High water table?  Nay say I!  Or, more accurately, so sayeth the Jedi that led our tour.


Yes, that is a tour guide dressed as a Jedi.  See, thats what happens when you take a tour on May 4th.  Also known as Star Wars Day.  Oh, and he's in front of the future resting place of Nicholas Cage.

So, why do the denizens of New Orleans bury primarily above ground?  In short, space.

See, when a person is interred, they are sealed in the crypt for one year and one day.  This ensures going through a New Orleans summer. Turns out these crypts act as ovens, and the bodies are naturally cremated.  This is how there are many generations residing in one crypt.  Our tour guide, Duffy, gave an estimate that there are more dead in New Orleans than living.  Kinda creepy.


Should you find yourself in New Orleans, look up Haunted History Tour.  Take one of their many tours.  You won't be disappointed.

So, now we are hungry.  We strolled back to Jackson Square, and walked into the Corner Oyster House for some lunch.  Oyster po'boys were eaten, Abita Purple Haze drank, and pecan pie was enjoyed.  Holy Hell.  I've never had pecan pie before that day, and now I have a brand new desert obsession.  Once this diet is done, pecan pie shall be made.  Leanda had some tasty mozzarella sticks and a salad.


This place.
Another great day in New Orleans.  We walked all over the French Quarter.  I may have mentioned this, but we really like this area.

Finally, we embark on an epic shopping trip and escape the city to explore a plantation.

21 May 2013

New Orleans, LA 2013 (AKA No, we did not go for Jazz Fest)

For our anniversary this year, the Mrs. and I decided to head on down to New Orleans.  Neither of us had been there before, so it seemed the perfect place to visit.

First, a quick explanation of the Jazz Fest part of the title.  Turns out there is a huge Jazz Fest in New Orleans every year, and this year it happened to be the same weekend we were visiting.  Every local (and some fellow visitors) asked us if we were there for Jazz Fest.

We were, however, there to sample some of the fine local eating.  Oh, and explore.  But there was eating to be...  eaten.

Friday


View from our hotel, The Hotel St. Pierre
Chilling out at Bourbon Heat











Acme Oyster House.  Pretty good food here
Once we arrived at our hotel, The Hotel St. Pierre we headed into the maelstrom of the French Quarter.  We really loved exploring the Quarter.  It has tons of character and fantastic architecture.  Oh, and food.  I think I've mentioned this.  Lots and lots of bars too.  They're open 24/7 and there's a open container policy, so all sorts of people are walking around all hours of the day drinking.  Bit of a culture shock there.

So we started our culinary adventures at a place known as Bourbon Heat.  Seeing as this was our first meal, I kept it light.  Alligator sausage with creole mustard and a side of sweet potato fries.  Very tasty.


We then explored the French Quarter for a bit before heading off to dinner at Acme Oyster House.  I had first heard of this place while watching Man vs. Food, and since then always wanted to try it out.  I didn't get oysters though.  Seeing as they can be pricey, I did not want to order a half dozen oysters only to find I did not like them.  So I played it safe and ordered a crawfish tail po'boy with a side of gumbo, washed down with an Abita Turbodog.  The po'boy was ok.  Gumbo was fantastic.  And the Turboog was a recommendation that I'm glad I followed. For desert I enjoyed a Pecan Cobbler.  Now that was tasty.


And that ends our first day in New Orleans.  Stay tuned for my entry on Saturday, in which more food is sampled and we see where Nicholas Cage will someday rest for all eternity.

19 May 2013

Training Log - Week of 12 MAY 13

12 MAY 13

Running - 2.5ish miles in a half hour.  Felt good; I think I'm on track to get that 5 miles in an hour goal.

13 MAY 13

ABD - Last part of the material for this cycle.  The post run day thigh soreness struck again.  But, hey, at least its not shin splints...

16 MAY 13

ABD - Final day of new material before Month 2 stripe test and belt test.  Felt good with everything.  Looking forward to the testing.

Biking - Went for a bike ride today after class.  Went well.  Rode for about a half hour.  Could have gone longer, but did not want to push it.

Weight Loss
Weight: 172.8 lbs (-8.4)
Body Fat %: 16.3% (-1.9%)

16 May 2013

A View to a Kill (1985)


To the Summary!
In the final chapter of Roger Moore's Bond, Bond is tasked with stopping a mad man from destroying Silicon Valley.

To the Cast!
Roger Moore - James Bond
Christopher Walken - Max Zorin
Tanya Roberts - Stacey Sutton
Grace Jones - May Day
Desmond Llewelyn - Q
Robert Brown - M
Lois Maxwell - Miss Moneypenny

To the Deeper Thoughts!
So, in Roger Moore's final turn (which has nothing to do with the book from whence it got its name), he goes after Max Zorin (played fairly well by Christopher Walken).  Turns out Zorin is stupid rich from making integrated circuits (trained and financed by the KGB (obviously)).  Oh, and he's got a sidekick in May Day.

And that's about it.  There's also an iceberg sub.  Eh, I don't know.  Short of Walken and the Duran Duran theme, there's nothing special about this movie.  Upside?  The Dalton Bond's are coming.  Well eventually, at least.  Because I'm reading the books in the publication order then watching the films in the same, I'll be bouncing back to Connery and Moore a few more times before getting to Dalton.

15 May 2013

Iron Man 3 (2013)


To the Summary!
Tony Stark faces the Mandarin and an army of enhanced former soldiers.

There are going to be spoilers right from the get go, so be warned.

To the Cast!
Robert Downey Jr. - Tony Stark
Gweneth Paltrow - Pepper Potts
Don Cheadle - Col. James Rhodes
Guy Pearce - Aldrich Killian
Rebecca Hall - Maya Hansen
Jon Faverau - Happy Hogan
Ben Kingsley - The Mandarin
James Badge Dale - Savin
William Sadler - President Ellis
Miguel Ferrer - V.P. Rodriguez

To the Deeper Thoughts!

Let me say this first.  I REALLY like this movie. I think following on the heels of Avengers, this is a fine follow up.  It does not ignore the events of Avengers.  Which is good.  I really can't wait to see how they pick up Stark's story in Avengers 2.

All that being said...

I've wanted to see The Mandarin on screen for a while now.  And after they introduced the aliens in Avengers, I thought, ok, now we are on for some sorcery.

We are not.  Instead, The Mandarin is regulated to a side show, or near enough.  The pretty object dangled in front of us to distract us from the true enemy.  Not to say that Ben Kingsley didn't own the role.  He was a great choice to play the role.  Just... I think they could have done the character better; made him more of the central villain.

Now, back to the stuff I liked.

Pretty much everything.  I know a big deal was made about Jon Faverau not directing this one, and truth be know, had I not known, I would not have known.  I thought Shane Black did a fine job directing the movie.

I also was hoping that they would address the Demon In the Bottle story line (which they touched on very briefly in Iron Man 2).  Here they tackle the Extremis arc.  Basically Extremis is a bio engineered virus that heals injuries.  Cool, huh?

Except... well, in a few people it turns them into living bombs.  And, Aldrich Killian is kinda pissed that Tony Stark didn't work with him back in the late 90s.  So, kinda typical plot device there, but hey, I'm not here for heavy plot.

What I AM here for is the suits.  And boy, are there suits in this film.  All the way up to Mk 42. 42!  Turns out, in all his insomnia Stark has been busy.  We get to see all these suits during the final battle (see: House Party Protocol).

Overall, I really liked this entry to the Iron Man saga.  The end does make for an interesting set up for Avengers 2, as I don't think there will be an Iron Man 4 between now and them.  The one weakness of the film is that you do have to, at a minimum, see Avengers 2 to really understand some of what is going on in the movie.

Now, we wait for Thor 2.

14 May 2013

For Your Eyes Only


We have here a collection of James Bond adventures.  All short, and all relatively entertaining.  Let's proceed with the briefing shall we?

From a View to a Kill
In France, Bond is tasked to investigate the death of a dispatch rider from the Headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe.  The killers are based from a hidden bunker, giving them a view to the kill.

For Your Eyes Only
A former Gestapo agent is working for Castro, buying land in Jamacia.  Bond investigates the deaths of close friends of M, who refused to sell.  This adventure brings Bond into Vermont, via Canada.  He runs into the daughter of the couple.  Together, they take out the agent and his cronies.

Quantum of Solace
Upon completion of a mission to the Bahamas, Bond dines with the Governor and some guests.  After dinner, Bond and the Governor talk about what happens when relationships go to shit.  Very different kind of Bond novella. 

Risico
Drug smuggling sends Bond to Italy.  Turns out there is quite the pipeline from Italy to England for drugs.  Double crosses and explosions happen; just another day at the office.

The Hildebrand Rarity
Bond searches for a rare fish.  Rescues a woman from abusive her abusive husband.

An interesting collection of stories to be sure.  Three lend their titles to movies, but no more than that.  These are a different take on Bond.  You could give this a skip and not miss much, but, as I've said, they are worth the read for their difference from the usual Bond fare.

12 May 2013

Training Log - Week of 5 MAY 13

7 MAY 13

ABD - Double class tonight to make up for vacation and to get ahead in the class count.  New material; tons of fun.

9 MAY 13

ABD - More work on the new material.  Felt real good during class today

Weight Loss

Weight: 181.1 (+1)
Body Fat %: 18.2% (+.9%)

Numbers up a bit due to vacation.

07 May 2013

Training Log - Week of 28 APR 13

28 APR 13

Running - Did 2.5 miles in a half hour.  Goal is to get 5 miles in under an hour this summer.

29 APR 13

ABD - Review for stripe testing.  Due to the run yesterday, thighs were tight again.  This did mess with my kicks and balance, but I powered through.  Thursday is the actual stripe test, so we shall see how it goes.

BJJ - I've decided to back out of BJJ for the summer.  I want to concentrate on running and biking.  Since I don't have infinite time, I had to drop something.  I was really struggling with this decision, but its not like I'm dropping it and not doing anything else.  I'm just redistributing my training energies.

02 May 2013

Farscape - The End of the Journey


And so it ends.  After nearly a year (Netflix tells me 14 JUN 12 was when Season 1 Disc 1 was shipped) I come to the end of the Farscape saga.

Its had its share of ups and downs for me.  The first season was really rough, but once Scorpius showed up it got steadily better.  Not with out its share of valleys.  I wish I had taken better notes throughout so I could cite specific reasons, but I was usually watching it right before bed, and at times falling asleep during it.

Which maybe that's part of the problem, lol.

I will give it this much... the puppet work was amazing.

Ya, don't really have too much else to say.  Fairly solid piece of television.  I think some of my commentary just comes from not liking it as much as it had been sold to me.  It has made me want to go back and watch Stargate SG-1 because of Claudia Black and Ben Browder having appeared on that fine show.

I would recommend this.  Its a good watch.  Not something I think I'll revisit, but not something I'm going to regret.

01 May 2013

Classic Dr. Who - Season 12 (Tom Baker)

Having started watching Doctor Who last year, I decided to also go back and start watching one of the most popular incarnations, the Fourth Doctor.

Serials this season include:
Robot
The Ark in Space
The Sontaran Experiement
Genesis of the Daleks
Revenge of the Cybermen

I really liked this season.  I can see why Tom Baker is such a favorite of the fans.  Special effects for a 1970s show is not bad at all, and more or less hold up.  I enjoyed getting looks at Daleks, Cyberman and the Sontaran.  Although, I'll say that The Sontaran Experiment was probably my least favorite of the season.  In my vast (well, ok, not vast) experience with the Doctor, I would say Tom Baker is a good place to start with the Classic run.

I look forward to more adventures with the Fourth Doctor!




True Grit (1969)



To the Summary!
Frank Ross (John Pickard) is gunned down in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  His tomboy daughter Mattie hires on Rooster Cogburn to hunt down her father's killer in Indian Territory (now known as Oklahoma)

To the Cast!
John Wayne - Rooster Cogburn
Glen Campbell - La Boeuf
Kim Darby - Mattie Ross
Robert Duvall - Ned Pepper
Dennis Hopper - Moon

To the Deeper Thoughts!
This is my first official John Wayne film.  Well, I've seen Circus World, but I don't really count that.  And also, The Longest Day, but that's a huge ensamble cast.

Anyway...

I've already watched the remake done by the Cohen brothers (my review of which can be found here.)  I was surprised to see just how like the remake the original is.

Seriously.  There were shots and lines that were straight from the remake.  Which I thought was kinda cool, that the Cohen version was so true to the original.  And I liked that about the movie.

But, on its own, John Wayne's True Grit stands on its own as a classic.  I really liked this movie.  There is a sequel, but I think I'll be giving that a pass.  I feel that the story of Rooster Cogburn ended nicely here.

I look forward to seeing more of The Duke's work.

28 April 2013

Training Log - Week of 21 APR 13

22 APR 13

ABD - Reviewed our first two knife defenses of the cycle.  Reviewed the first part of our Muay Thai combo.  That's right kids, our first strip test is already next week!  Huzzah!  Also worked on the Muay Thai basic of a round kick.  Got complimented for my form.

BJJ - Worked on a few sweeps from butterfly guard.

25 APR 13

ABD - More review for stripe testing.  Had a really great class.  By really great class, I mean that I got thrown around by my training partner M. Park.  It was awesome.  Then we worked Muay Thai forms, sparred and generally had a great class.  Both of us had great technique, so we really had to work to find a reason to hand out a burpee.

BJJ - Skipped because reasons.

27 APR 13
Went for a short hike with Owen at Bluff Point State Park.

Weight Loss
Weight: 180.2 lbs (-4 lbs)
Body Fat %: 17.3% (-.2%)

26 April 2013

Primer (2004)


To the Summary!
Umm, stuff happened.

To the Cast!
There were some people.  One of them was the director.

To the Deeper Thoughts!
Umm, Stuff happened. Time travel kind of stuff.  I think.  Alternate reality travel?  Possible.  Who knows.  Nine timelines were allegedly threaded throughout this movie.

Really, it was good.  It was just super dense, and heavy.  I liked it, I will re watch it.  But it is a movie that requires attention.  Even after watching it, listening to the Shonky Lab review of it and some independent research, I'm still not sure what went on in this movie.

My brain hurts just thinking about it again.

25 April 2013

Goldfinger (1964)


To the Summary!
Sean Connery returns for the third installment of Bond's cinema adventures.  This time, he hunts Auric Goldfinger.

To the Cast!
Sean Connery - James Bond
Honor Blackman - Pussy Galore
Gert Frobe - Auric Goldfinger
Shirey Eaton - Jill Masterson
Tania Mallet - Tilly Masterson
Harold Sakata - Oddjob
Bernard Lee - 'M'
Cec Linder - Felix Leiter
Lois Maxwell - Moneypenny


To the Deeper Thoughts!
I'm fairly certain that this was the first Bond movie I saw.  I know for certain it was the first Connery Bond that I saw.

Third film in, and I dare say that  this one is near perfect.  I'd even argue that its one of the best Bond's ever.  This is the one where we see the elements that we came to know and love through the years.  The flirting with Moneypenny.  The banter with Q.  *sigh*  What a great movie.

I'm really breaking down into fanboy mode here.  Classic Bond is always the best.  And by classic I mean Connery.  True, the others have their moments.  And Craig is the best Bond in my opinion.  But there is something to be said for these classic movies.

23 April 2013

Training Log - Week of 14 APR 13

14 APR 13

Went for my first run of the season today.  2.6 miles in 30 minutes.  Not bad.  Only complaint is that my thighs hurt more than I was expecting.

15 APR 13

ABD - Week two of month one.  Second part of new material this week.  Felt fine up until my thighs really kicked into high, painful gar towards the end.

BJJ - Ya.  Really tough class due to thighs.  We worked an elbow escape when someone has you in mount. Then we worked another escape from your opponents guard.  It involved a lot of thighs.  Good move, but man did it suck with the condition of my thighs.  Glad I've got nothing until Thursday.

18 APR 13

ABD - More of the same from Monday night.  Today we did sparring, working on teep defense.  Had some great drills where our partner was directed to make us do burpees if our technique faltered.  I had to do some, but my sparring partner told me he had to really get picky to find issues.  So, that felt nice.

My thighs however...  fine up until the end of class.  Then they kicked in HARD.  Le ouch.

BJJ - Passed on class today because of thighs.  Knowing what we were to be working on, I chose to listen to my body and take it easy.  Which sucks, because I really wanted to stay.  But better to rest than to really hurt myself.

Weight Loss
Weight: 184.2 (-1.2)
Body Fat %: 17.5% (-1.8%)

19 April 2013

Goldfinger

Book seven in the chronicles of James Bond brings him face to face with Auric Goldfinger; a very rich man who is obsessed with gold.

So, as I said, book seven.  I've read some series where by the seventh book, it feels like a bit of a slog.  Yes, even my beloved Wheel of Time fits in there.  But with Flemming, I don't feel that .  Perhaps its the length of the books, being rather short.  Perhaps its the fascinating views of a 1950s man.  Could be any number of things, but its the previous one that really stands out here.  I present to you a quote from the novel, in which Bond muses about a female character that seemingly shows no interest in him.

"Bond came to the conclusion that Tilly Masterson was one of those girls whose hormones had got mixed up. He knew the type well and thought they and their male counterparts were a direct consequence of giving votes to women and ‘sex equality’. As a result of fifty years of emancipation, feminine qualities were dying out or being transferred to the males. Pansies of both sexes were everywhere, not yet completely homosexual, but confused, not knowing what they were. The result was a herd of unhappy sexual misfits – barren and full of frustrations, the woman wanting to dominate and the men to be nannied."

To me, this was just an awkward and weird bit of exposition.  Well, not as weird as later, when he 'cures' Pussy Galore of being a lesbian by... well, I'm sure you can figure it out.  Had I read this when originally published, I don't think it would have bothered me.  But now, in today's day and age... it is a bit jarring.

But its hardly a major plot point of the book; just something I found interesting.

I keep saying this, but I really liked Goldfinger.  As much as Casino Royale I think.  Those would probably be my top two books of the series (so far anyway)  The plot moves along at a steady clip, and the first meeting between Goldfinger and Bond is well done.  I think this is the first time we see a gadget (a homing device that Bond plants on Goldfinger's car)  This is the second time I've read this book, and it was just as enjoyable as the first time.

16 April 2013

Dr. No (1962)

To the Summary!
James Bond undertakes his first (well, first filmed) adventure.  He heads to Jamaica to investigate Dr. No, a bat guano magnate and seriously creepy dude.

To the Cast!
Sean Connery - James Bond
Ursula Andress - Honey Ryder
Joseph Wiseman - Dr. No
Jack Lord - Felix Leiter
Bernard Lee - M
John Kitzmiller - Quarrel
Lois Maxwell - Miss Moneypenny
Peter Burton - Major Boothroyd

To the Deeper Thoughts!
Here we have it folks, the first of a long and (mostly) illustrious film library.  And what a way to start off.  There is pretty much nothing I can find wrong about this movie.  Every time I watch it, I enjoy it that much more.  Its simple in its execution and style.  Not very flashy, but subtle.  This is the movie that launched a fandom.  One I can't wait to share with my son.  I don't really have too much else to say about this.  Its a great place to start in on the Bond series.

15 April 2013

Training Log - Week of 7 APR 13

7 APR 13

Took down a deck.  It was fun.

8 APR 13

ABD - First week of new material.  Knife defense this time around, along with a Muay Thai combo.  I was pretty off throughout class tonight.  Head cold coupled with tearing down a deck yesterday sucked me pretty dry.

BJJ - Did not do due to reasons above.

11 APR 13

ABD -Second day of new material.  Feeling pretty good.

BJJ - Responsibilities and such prevented me from sticking around.


Weight Loss
Weight: 185.4 (-2.2)
Body Fat %: 19.3% (-.1%)

13 April 2013

Doctor No

So, remember in the last book, how Bond got a case of poison?  Well, he's all better!  Yay!  Of course, he just can't take a vacation.  M sends him to Jamaica for rest... but while he's at it, he should look into the disappearance of a fellow agent, one John Strangeways.

Turns out, Strangeways had been investigating Dr. Julius No, a bat guano magnate on Crab Key.  I'm guessing Strangeways got a bit to close to Doctor No.

Natrually, so does Bond.

Oh, he also does this with the help of his pal Quarrell (see Live and Let Die).  With Quarrell's help, Bond gets into fighting shape and heads to Crab Key.

Once there they meet Honey Rider, an orphan girl who is collecting some shells to sell and make some cash.  Eventually, they are discovered by No's dragon, and Quarrell...well, Quarrell feels the heat. (Bye Quarrell).

Bond and Honey are taken prisoner, where they are treated to a lavish dinner (and plot exposition) with Doctor No.  After said dinner, Bond is taken back to his cell, where he is expected to crawl through Doctor No's maze, perishing along the way.

However, seeing as this is Bond, James Bond, he manages to escape the electric shocks, cold, heat and giant squid, in order to bury Doctor No under a pile of bat guano.  Rescue the girl, mission done and over.

Another solid entry into literary Bond.

James Bond returns in Goldfinger

07 April 2013

Training Log - Week of 31 MAR 13

1 APR 13

ABD - Buddy week this week.  So the tempo of the class was a little slower.  I seem to have a post belt test thing where my kicks are just off for a week.  Eh, I'll get over it.

BJJ - Worked on some side mount control stuff.  Namely crushing your opponents arm between your body and theirs.  Arm bar from this position.

4 APR 13

ABD - Felt better with the kicks today.  Nothing special again, but I'm looking forward to the start of new material next week.

BJJ - Did a lot of live rolling today to help a few people who are taking part in the New England Submission Challenge on Saturday.  I'm not going, but I was glad to be able to help those that are.  Worked on defense mostly.  This must be my focus.

Weight Loss
Weight: 187.6 (-2.8)
Body Fat %: 19.4%(-2.8%)

02 April 2013

From Russia With Love (1963)

To the Summary!
James Bond is back!  This time, he's on the hook with SPECTRE for the killing of Dr. No (see Dr. No).  With a mad dog killer hot on his heels, Bond takes the Orient Express to adventure!

To the Cast!
Sean Connery - James Bond
Daniela Bianchi - Tatiana Romanova
Pedro Armendariz - Kerim Bey
Lotte Lenya - Rosa Klepp
Robert Shaw - Grant
Bernard Lee - M
Lois Maxwell - Miss Moneypenny




To the Deeper Thoughts!
And here we have Bond movie number two.  Another faithful adaptation of the source material, well to an extent.  There are some differences.  Example: we see the introduction of Blofeld here.  Books; not until Thunderball.  We do have Q, but he's know instead as Major Boothroyd.  So, small differences, but nothing painful (see Moonraker for pain).

I really like this one.  Number two in, and going strong.  Its weird to see Robert Shaw so young and, well evil.  Given my only other exposure to him is Jaws.  We see a quick introduction of Bond's eventual nemesis, Blofeld.

Eh, what else can I say.  Its good, classic Bond.


30 March 2013

Training Log - Week of 24 MAR 13








25 MAR 13

ABD - STRIPE TEST!  All the work for the last three months is coming to a head.  Thursday is belt testing, so for all intents and purposes, tonight is just a dry run for the belt test Thursday.  Of course, there is always a surprise or three belt test day.

Numbers for the last three stripe tests:

Push Ups: 9/9/12
V's: 17/21/21
Squats: 35/33/40
Left Kick: 32/30/34
Right Kick: 30/29/38

BJJ - Brad Wolfson of Soulcraft BJJ and one of Sensei McShane's instructors came down to teach a class.  Learned so good back control stuff.  How to get a choke on somebody whose defending their neck.

And then this happened...

Brad's the guy with the black belt

Several of my fellow BJJ students and I were awarded some stripes tonight.  Stripes are inter-belt indicators of rank and progression.  BJJ has a much steeper curve with belts.  I've been a white belt just under a year and just got my first stripe.  Average time to black belt is 10-15 years.  Some people take longer; some less.  Either way, this came as a surprise tonight..  Congrats to my fellow students!

28 MAR 13

ABD - BELT TEST!!!  This was one for the books.  Tabata rounds, krav, stick, more stick.  It was insane and intense.  And I loved every minute of it.  Green belt: unlocked.

26 March 2013

Training Log - Week of 17 MAR 13

Overall it was a great training week.  All review for stripe and belt testing next week.  Small jiu jitsu class today, so I got some good help with breadcutter/papercutter chokes, farside armbar from side mount... and one or two other things I can't remember at the moment.

Weight Loss
Weight: 193.2 (-3.6)
Body Fat %: 21.2% (-1.5%)


Rocking my new gi...

23 March 2013

From Russia With Love

In case you have not noticed over the past couple of books, Bond has been causing some issues for the Russians.  They are not happy with him.  LeChiffre, Mr. Big and Hugo Drax.  Bond kinda screwed them over big time.  And, being Russians, or Soviets if you will, they want to get rid of Bond.

Simple killing will not be enough however.  Oh no, not for the operatives of SMERSH.  They need to discredit Bond.  Shame him.  And, if MI-6 is shamed in the process, all the better.

To his discredit, Bond is know as a bit of a ladies man.  This is how SMERSH plans to take him down.  To do this, they recruit Tatiana Romanova, a beautiful Russian agent.

Their plan: lure Bond to Istanbul where she will give him a top secret Russian coding machine.  Finding it odd, M sends Bond on his merry way.

Once in Istanbul, Bond gets a crash course in the operations in that area from Kerim Bey.  There's also a dinner with a gypsy family which doesn't fit with the rest of the novel.  But its still a neat sequence.

Most of the action then takes place on the Orient Express.  They are tracked there by a maniacal former British soldier.  Turns out he likes killing... especially on the full moon.  So, he didn't quite fit in with the Brits, so its off to work for the Russians!

So, as you can guess, Bond handily disposes of the maniacal killer.  The story ends with Bond and Romanova in Paris, and the coding machine tucked safely in MI-6 hands.  Except for the part where Romanova's former handler tracks them down and poisons Bond.

Cliffhanger!!

Well, not really.  We know that Bond will be back in the next book.  Actually, at this point Flemming was getting bored with the books and wanted to stop writing, hence the uncertain fate of Bond.  I'm glad Flemming decided to write more.

I really like this one.  Its probably my favorite after Casino Royale.  Nothing I can put my finger on per se.  Just an all around great book.

17 March 2013

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)


To the Summary!
James Bond goes after some hot ice (that's stolen diamonds).  Along the way he runs into an odd pair of assassins   Oh, and Blofeld makes a return.

To the Cast!
Sean Connery - James Bond
Jill St. John - Tiffany Case
Charles Grey - Blofeld
Putter Smith - Mr. Kidd
Bruce Glover - Mr. Wint
Norman Burton - Leiter
Bernard Lee - 'M'
Desmond Llewelyn - 'Q'
Lois Maxwell - Miss Moneypenny

To the Deeper Thoughts!
Here we have the triumphant (?) return of Sean Connery to the Bond franchise.  Turns out this will truly be his last outing, but I digress.

Ahh, hell.  Back to digressing.  After a much publicized departure, Sean Connery returns to the role that made him famous.  We also have the return of Bond's nemesis Bloefeld.  Oddly, there was no reference to the previous film where Blofeld is involved in the murder of Bond's wife, but that's for another review.

I like this one.  Even though Connery was basically bribed back to the role, he still put out a pretty good turn.  A bit on the silly side (Bond girl named Pleanty O'toole for one), its still not as bad as some of the later Moore ones.

So, a fitting end for Connery's run as Bond.  Unless you count Never Say Never Again... which I don't.


Training Log - Week of 10 MAR 13

11 MAR 13

ABD - Second week of month three.  Abs week this week.  So, naturally, my legs hurt.  Reviewed the second set of the curriculum in preparation for belt testing at the end of the month.  Felt really good about everything; just little adjustments to be made.

BJJ - Worked on two sweeps this week.  I focused on Scissors sweep and hip heist sweep.  Two fairly basic sweeps.  Felt pretty good with them.  Also, when it came time for rolling, I focused more on defense than anything else.  Hopefully this new focus will be of benefit in the long run.

14 MAR 13

ABD - Day two of week two of month three.  More ab fun!  No, seriously.  Its pretty fun.  Had a great class.  Worked on the stick set and sparring today.  I need to be a little more aggressive with sparring.

BJJ - More sweeps work.  Scissors and hip heist.  Doing pretty good with them.  Still frustrating, but I've gotten almost zen.  I'll progress slowly here.  But I will get better.

Weight Loss
Weight - 196.8(-4)
Body Fat % - 22.6(+.5)

16 March 2013

Diamonds Are Forever

This time, diamonds are at the center of Bond's adventures.  Dispatched by M to Sierra Leone, Bond must find out how and where diamonds are getting smuggled into the USA.  The USA you say?  Turns out the source of the diamonds is a British operation, so M figures it would be good of MI-6 to lend a hand.

Bond takes the identity of Peter Franks, a low player in The Spangled Mob.  Along the way he meets up with one Tiffany Case.  He follows the trail to Las Vegas, meeting up once again with Felix Leiter.

Needless to say, Bond wins the day.  Saves the girl, kills the bad guy.  Just another day at the office.

11 March 2013

Reflections on my first year

This post originally appeared on the ABD Norwich Krav Maga blog, 11 OCT 12

I have not lost much weight.

I know, kind of a strange way to start a blog post that details my first year of studying a martial art.  Stick with me though, it will make sense it a bit.

I needed to make a change in my physical activity.  Its not that I was not active; I was.  Just not enough.  I was stuck on the (literal) treadmill.  My working out was limited to mostly treadmills and running outside about once a week.

A change needed to be made.

Many moons ago I studied Judo.  Can't really remember why I stopped.  I do know that I wish I had not.  I had always wanted to get back into martial arts, but school, time and life kept getting in the way.  With the exception of a brief foray into a 'kickboxing' class, I was martial arts-less until October of 2011.

No reason for this.  America's Best Defense is located in downtown Norwich.  I had been living in Norwich for a couple of years, and my brother in law had been attending the school when it was still a Tang Soo Do school.

I finally made the decision.  I filled out the online information form and waited.  A few days later I got a call (if I remember correctly it was Sensei Fritz), and set up an introductory class.  I went in not knowing what to expect, and left convinced I was going to sign up.  My first official class was less than two weeks later.

And I have not looked back since.  I love everything about this school.  I love the workouts.  I love the lessons.  I especially love the Krav Maga end of it.

But more importantly, I love the people.  Never had I felt more welcome in a place of physical activity.  From senior black belts down to the white belts who started with me, I have always felt welcome.  There is never a negative word here, only words of encouragement.  This place gets into your head. 650 jumping jacks and squats?  A year ago I would have been hurting just thinking about it.  Now, I did it and spent the next day joking about it with my fellow students.  Doing leaping forward rolls over a chest high stack of shields?  Done.  Doing all sorts of crazy calisthenics?  No matter how much it hurts in the moment, or days later, I still love every moment of it.

So you see, even though I have not lost much weight, I gained a lot.  I gained confidence, I gained friends; training partners.  I gained a place where I do not feel judged every time I walked through the doors.  I gained a place where I will train for life.