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.


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. 

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:
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.


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.