VOLVER [2006] review

July 29, 2007

This was my second attempt to try and watch VOLVER. The first time the subtitles were just way too poor. I found another version with subtitles that were at least grammatically correct. This is an intimate feeling movie, with few characters and mostly indoor settings involving the characters (all are female) talking with each other as they slowly reveal present and past secrets regarding their family and friends. Besides themes of family bonding and tragedy, a theme of spiritual bordering on supernatural takes shape mid-way through the movie. We learn that people in villages in that part of Spain very easily believe in ghosts and the malevolent powers of the strong winds that pass through town periodically. I was taken in by the stories the women had to tell and the natural, domestic environments they were filmed in and appreciated the lack of a soundtrack. The emotional moments in the movie had their own weight, and didn’t need any score to underline them.

The movie is basically all dialogue, so make sure your eyes are up for reading a constant stream of quickly vanishing subtitles, unless of course you can understand Spanish.

Morning ride down Ome Kaido

July 27, 2007

Ride STATS:

Distance: 17.65 miles

Time in motion: 1 hour 13 minutes 44 seconds

Average speed: 14.3 mph

Max speed: 28.4 mph

I finally got my Trek 7.3 FX back from the repair shop yesterday afternoon, after a very long 11-day wait. So this morning I set out on my first ride in nearly 3-weeks! However, quickly I knew it wasn’t going to be a glorious return to the Road. Almost immediately I wasn’t feeling it. This was for many reasons, both due to intense dreams I had last night and the fact that the course I chose was filled with too much traffic and way too many red lights. Plus, it was damn hot and with the other things on my mind, I cut my planned 2-hour ride short. I made it down to the Mitaka area still though. The bike worked fine after its repairs, and I finally got to wear my new yellow jersey as well, which performed nicely.

20th Anniversary Skimboarding Season: Session #04

July 24, 2007

The first time I left my apartment after beginning to read Deathly Hallows was also the first truly sunny day in over 3-weeks. The tides were quite unusual that day, with high tide at 2:30pm soon to be followed by a low tide at 4:30pm. I was mostly in a stupor from just finishing the book, so I just wanted to escape from my apartment for a bit, as I’d been inside since 8:45am on Saturday.

As I arrived I saw that there were no waves, at all. Not a single surfer out there and I was thinking it’s not even possible to skim at all. The public side had a good amount of people on it so I couldn’t skim there, so went over to the rough side which was empty. It turned out there were some very mediocre conditions for skimming, so I took up board and just casually skimmed around for a bit.

Not too long after some j-dude came up to me and said, “ah skimboarding.” Normally I would be quite annoyed at being bothered, and I thought especially I’d be that day, but for some reason I wasn’t. He tried skimboarding to some mild success as he was a surfer and once able to get on the board could balance himself for awhile. This meant I had a semi 1 hour and 15 minute session. I managed only one half-way decent ride given the conditions.

The weather, however, was absolutely beautiful and after the j-dude left I only skimmed liked another 5 minutes, then sat down and ate a sandwich staring out over the Sea looking up with continuing surprise at the totally blue sky.

Ginny in my dream before Deathly Hallows!

July 20, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows coverSo…this is how my night and day before Deathly Hallows has gone so far….had a dream about Ginny Weasley! We were in a restaurant together holding hands and laughing and all was wonderful with the world. Then I went away from the table for a moment and she left with someone else! I felt devastated, but went out and presumably resumed my search for Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes. I heard that a second phoenix hadn’t made it into the country yet.

Then all this afternoon giving my apartment its traditional Friday cleaning I was whipping my hand out clutching an imaginary wand yelling (out loud) “Crucio!”

…Then while eating lunch with a friend, we realized we need to do something to help Harry. … I don’t know what we could do since we can’t do magic, but at least we could take an AK for him.

…The whole book is a total unknown to me, anything could happen.

…This is how I will read Deathly Hallows. I have completely cleared my schedule from Saturday through Tuesday. … Today I stocked up on enough food to last me a week. After I publish this, I will disconnect both my computers from the Internet, turn off my cell phone, and disconnect my land line phone. I will not watch any TV shows or movies or anything over these four days as I don’t want to hear about any other kinds of stories, don’t want emotions from other things interfering with the emotions I will feel from Deathly Hallows.

At the end of every e-mail I’ve sent the past few days I have written, “For Harry! … because that’s what’s constantly been going through my mind. … I feel that my own fate is intertwined with Harry’s.

20th Anniversary Skimboarding Season: Session #03

July 17, 2007

I can’t believe it’s been a full month in between sessions. I know for sure my last attempt was thwarted by a huge downpour that started while I was enroute on the train. And today I only went at the very last second as it has been raining for like 10 days in a row pretty much and totally was darkly overcast, but as it was a national holiday today, “Ocean Day,” I thought I should go to Chigasaki no matter what. So I did.

A typhoon passed by the Kanto region yesterday, so I shouldn’t have been so surprised to see a lingering storm surge at the beach. There was much less sand than usual and the tide was quite high, though true high tide was still an hour or two away. Good-sized swells were rolling in to make the surfers happy, a steady stream of 5-footers.

Skimming conditions were hardcore. I had only one good to pretty good ride, and then a couple of other decent rides. Very hard to get out to the waves before they broke, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Indeed I was quite bold all day often coming eye level to a wave breaking right in front of me followed by me being violently up-ended and tossed, which when I was ready for it was kind of fun.

A slight rain fell for awhile, but nothing major. I expect my next session to be in 12 days.

before 5pm all surfers have to stay on a certain side of the jetties

two spongers who somewhat got in my way sometimes

MASTER AND COMMANDER [2003] review

July 16, 2007

MASTER AND COMMANDER has been a movie I’d been half-meaning/half-wanting to watch for a good year and a half or more now. Tonight was finally the right time. It’s less than over-the-top battle scenes (a good thing) and detailed depiction of seamanship and life at sea blended nicely together to form a good piece of entertainment. The fine cast made good use of a script free of gimmicks, and I think not even one swear word in a whole movie of sailors!

Hmm, not much more I can think to say for this movie, what does that say about it?

HARRY POTTER & THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX [review] 2007

July 15, 2007

Director David Yates had me right up until the point he made Cho Chang the person who told Umbridge about the D.A. I loved the opening and him giving time to show Harry’s frustration at Dumbledore, at Hermione, at Ron, at everyone save Sirius. Even as they return to Hogwarts, we see Harry’s continued isolation from his fellow classmates. This makes for an uncomfortable movie, as it made for a very uncomfortable book (read my review of the book). Yet an admirable job was being done on the screen with numerous nods that readers of the book would appreciate, like Tonk’s changing her nose into different shapes for Hermione and Ginny, the mumbling portrait of Mrs.

…HARRY POTTER & THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX could almost have been the best movie in the series, from the least workable material no less. Yet like in the book, the almost complete lack of joy in the movie makes it hard to watch. Like all the previous Potter movies, save maybe Goblet of Fire, this movie felt very rushed. … Thinking about starting a secret defense against the dark arts clubs, two short scenes later we’ve got one.

I was very excited for the Dumbledore being fired scene, I couldn’t wait to see him disarm two auror’s, the Minister of Magic and Umbridge, but no such thing happened.  That was a huge, huge let down and wasted opportunity to show the power of Dumbledore.

…Lest I pick apart the whole movie, I will say Ginny was handled the best of any character in this movie.

…You can tell that Imelda Staunton must really have studied how the character was written in the book because her mannerisms, tone of voice, body movements, everything are note perfect in the movie.

…Gary Oldman was the best actor on the screen in his few short scenes as Sirius. … Even Michael Gambon managed to make me not despise how he played Dumbledore for the first time, though it was perhaps easier to do this time because the character of Dumbledore is more distant and less friendly.

…One last complaint, the final battle in the Ministry should have had at least 10 more minutes added to it. … Another great moment in the book is when Harry first sees Dumbledore in the Veil room, and he thinks to himself, “we’re saved.”

…Still, despite all the negatives, I was glad to get to see it before reading the final book next weekend.

UPDATE after a 2nd watching on July 15, 2009:

Maybe I liked the movie more this time as the surprise changes from the book in the movie surprised me less.  The movie still did feel really rushed and the way Sirius was killed with an off-camera AK, totally, TOTALLY no impact because there was no buildup to it.  It totally seemed like Yates, the director, was like, oh yeah, Sirius has to die, forgot about that, pencil it in with a quick AK to make it totally unlike how it happened in the movie and let’s not explain the Veil at all and see Harry basically have no emotional reaction to his death.

It seemed really, really ludicrous for Voldemort to not give Harry a quick AK as the auror’s arrived.  Again, a change from the book that made the movie seem highly flawed.

Still, this was good preparation for getting me stoked to see the new Half Blood Prince movie this Friday.

Afternoon Ride to Arakawa (the Ara River) — cycling paradise

July 8, 2007

I read of a supposed cycling paradise that could take one all the way from the city to the foot of mountains, or if one went the opposite directions, to the edge of the Sea. As I’ve only so far rode middling rides through traffic, red lights and dull gray buildings, such a place, if it existed, would be my yellow brick road.

…Utilizing for the first time tech to preview my riding route, I made use of Google Maps’ satellite images to “see” my way to the river. If only I had dragged on a little bit more, I would have realized the river I saw in the satellite images was but a mere tributary to the mighty Arakawa. … It might have been hopeless if I hadn’t spotted another real rider as I was paused on the side of a street, frustrated. … At first we just went to a large river I already followed that lead only to a dead-end one way, and the other direction I knew to be the way toward the mountains, when this time I wanted to ride to the Sea. … For I saw the rider I was falling duck in between a gate in a fence I would NEVER have thought to go through, which led into a small park-type playground area.

…Lo, riding up onto a small ridge the vast expanse of the Akakawa unfolded like the King of Gondor’s standard, and I went breathless for a moment. … By this time it was too late for me to ride all the way to the Sea, so I thought to just go in the direction of the mountains for a time.

…But of course this is me we are talking about, so there had to be disaster as I am never, NEVER allowed a moment of relief in this forsaken lifetime.

…My ride was over, and I might even end up having to take a taxi or walk the 20 miles back to Shinjuku. … I thought i was saved, but this minor tightening only lasted for a few hundred meters at a time and would not be a solution for getting me home. Asking the tiny ojisan at the maintenance shack of the aforementioned small park if he had an allen wrench, he said no, but pointed toward an apartment complex across the Sumidakawa. He pointed me in the right direction as there was a “mama cherry” bike shop there whose owner tightened up the loose crank in no time for free.

Not wanting to let total bull ruin my day as it ALWAYS tries to do, I went back to Arakawa and grinded about 4km against the wind in the Sea direction averaging 15 to 16mph then rolled back with the wind at 20mph+.

…I even made a quick pit stop at a friend’s apartment that was on the route back (just 10 minutes from my own apartment actually). … Though not the 60 miles I would have liked to have ridden, and even though I didn’t get to go all the way to the Sea, it was nevertheless still a success as I have found a land route to Arakawa and when I return there it will be much easier to find the second time (I hope).

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