Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Southpaw – Movie Review

I had to take my car back to the Meineke shop for them to check on the air conditioning on Saturday. They were going to see if the dye they put in the air condition tank showed any places where there was a leak. Thankfully they did not.

They finished up around 3:30 and I decided to go and see a movie after that. I found a parking space in a garage (where it just so happens parking is free on the weekends) and went to the movies.

I decided I wanted to see Southpaw. I decided not to read any reviews but to go in with a fresh mind. I did notice on one of movie apps, which I checked to get the show times, that the score was only so-so.

The first thing about the movie is how different Jake Gyllenhaal looks in this film. And he really looks different from the preppy look he has in most movies. He was almost unrecognizable.

Here’s a little about the training he went through for the role:
Gyllenhaal went from a relatively slight 147 pounds to a ripped 175 pounds in just six months, trainer Terry Claybon, who whipped Jake into shape for Southpaw, in theaters July 24, tells E! News. And they had a lot of work to do when they first met up to discuss training.

“He wasn’t in any shape at all,” Claybon said. “We met at a boxing gym, and he was jumping rope. Just the way he was jumping rope, I knew we had a lot of work to do.”

Claybon didn’t let Gyllenhaal cut any corners: “Everything we did in training was as if he was having a professional boxing match.”
That realism really showed in the movie. Gyllenhaal plays Billy Hope (there were just one too many use of the last name for me in the script too many there’s still hope get it), a boxer from the wrong side of the tracks an orphan no less that has made it big. He’s the champion. The opening of the movie Hope in a title fight which he wins but takes brusing in doing so. The fight scenes are real the blood isn’t but there’s still a lot of it. I would say this film is not for the squish because there’s a lot of blood.

Hope is challenged by another boxer Victor Ortiz who wants to fight Hope. While both are leaving a charity function an altercation ensues which leads to guns being fired. It leads to the death of Hope’s wife Maureen, played by Racheal McAdams.

That’s when Hope downward spiral starts. He’s unable to deal with his wife’s death and in short order sees everything he has crumble. And quickly those people around him desert him. He tried to fight again but simply gives up. This is one graphic scene in the film where Hope is just pummeled. Because of that Hope drinks heavily tries to kill himself by running his car into a tree. The house goes. The cars goes. His daughter is put into foster car.

Hope hits rock bottom. Ends up in a flop house. But tries to rebuild his life because he wants his daughter back.

He ends up in Tick Wills’ gym played by Forest Whitaker and tries to rebuild. For the rest of the story you’ll have to see the movie.

Gyllenhaal is just fantastic in this role. He really looks the role. You feel his pain with the death of his wife. The absolute despair of not knowing how to put things right. His complete helplessness as his life spins out of control. His anguish when he tries to reconnect with his daughter, Leila played by Oona Laurence (who is just great in the roll. The scenes where she finally gets to watch her father fight are just great).

There is also a very funny scene between Gyllenhaal and Whitaker on the rule of not swearing in the gym. There relationship is very well drawn. There isn’t an instant liking between the two. But there is a slow development of respect between the two of them.

I like that not everything is tied up in a neat bow by the end of the film. The person who murdered Hope’s wife is never brought to justice. The big fight between Hope and Ortiz ends very realistically.

Here's a little from the review in USA Today:
Call him “Joltin’ Jake” Gyllenhaal, because the actor adds needed presence and punch to the melodrama of Southpaw.

As champ-turned-chump Billy Hope, Gyllenhaal shines with the same intensity he showed in Jarhead and Nightcrawler, and performances from him and Forest Whitaker lift up a movie that goes a full 12 rounds of rope-a-dope with every boxing-movie story trope.
I really liked the movie and highly recommend it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

2Political Podcast Episode 109

2Political Podcast Episode 109 is now available. You can listen to it or download it from the podcast site, 2political.com. You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode (you can access the five most recent episodes from the list on the right side of my blog).

his a NEW episode, recorded just a few days ago! Well, it had to happen sooner or later. Unfortunately, there's a weird background noise at some points. I guess maybe we can have new, or we can have perfect…

We start out talking about the Republican Clown Bus, especially Trump. The news media’s obsession with Trump has meant that other stories are being missed. Also, other candidates can't get any attention whatsoever. We even talk a bit about the Democrats. But, we also talk about some of the challenges that Republicans face, especially the party’s attitude toward immigration reform. It leads us to talking about making poor people peeing in a cup.

We thought we were done, but no! One more topic: The death of A&P. And also about Frango mints. It's all about numbers on a balance sheet, the rest be damned. Arthur thinks there HAS to be a better way to raise finance for corporations.

One last thing! A site about all the candidates running for president.

Everyone’s welcome to leave a comment (agree or disagree!).

Links for this episode:
“The last big clown” – Arthur’s post when John Kasich entered the Clown Bus.
“Early presidential poll favorites sometimes struggle at finish line” – from the blog of the National Constitution Center
California Proposition 187 – The Wikipedia article on the proposition Jason mentioned
“A&P was ‘the Wal-Mart of its day.’ Now it’s filing for bankruptcy.” from Wonkblog at the Washington Post
“Here's who's running for president in 2016” - a guide to all the candidates from Vox
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Ever Unreliable Weekend "Service" from Metro

The Post had an article recently on the state of Metro as perceived by the riders and the management.

This sums it up:
Here’s where we get to an underlying issue involving how Metro perceives Metro’s problems and the tasks ahead.

Metro officials tend to describe a rail system that is recovering after years of inadequate investment in equipment and safety.

“The goal is that by 2017, we will have caught up with the backlog” interim general manager Jack Requa said of Metro’s $5.5 billion rebuilding program.

Many Metro riders describe a system that is broken, after years of official statements about new programs meant to ensure safety and reliable service.

“Something is not right,” said Korman, who described himself as a daily Metro rider. “Anecdotally, there’s a problem on an almost daily basis.”

Statistically, things don’t look any better to Korman. Pointing to Metro’s quarterly reports on performance, he said, “WMATA’s own numbers show a system that is not improving. This treading water is occurring after years of investment.”
What occurred to me on my way home sort of sums up the two worlds. The first is the Metro world and the other is the riders of what I'd like to call the real world.

I went to Metro Center after seeing Mr. Holmes (which was very good; more on it later) to go home. As with just about every weekend there was track work as Metro is rebuilding the system. I'm never sure what they are rebuilding since nothing seems to change all that much.

The next train sign stated the lines that were being worked on for the weekend and the time between trains. For the Red Line, it said trains were operating every 16 minutes. The problem is that that was not the case at all. When the next train was finally listed it said it would be arriving in 18 minutes. Not the 16 promised in the announcement.

I decided to time how long it took for the train to arrive. It was a little over 19 and a half minutes. I figured I was in the station for at least 5 minutes before that. Instead of waiting for 16 minutes for a train, I waited for at least 25 minutes.

This just reinforces how unreliable weekend "service" on Metro is.

Maybe at some point weekend service interruptions will end. But that day is a long way off. In the meantime, Metro needs to let people know when to really expect trains to arrive at stations. But it seems it can't even do that.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Person Behind the Racing Presidents

Me with all the presidents on my birthday last year.

As you know I am a HUGE fan of the racing presidents at Nats Park. There is probably not a game I go to that I don't take a picture or two or more of a president.

A few days back the Post had an article about the person who is responsible for maintaining the presidents. That person is Ingrid Crepeau. She happened on this by complete chance when she bumped into Teddy at a party. Crepeau is a puppeteer and spotted what was wrong with Teddy right off:
But after decades of building ­larger-than-life puppets for children’s theater, Crepeau told Teddy that she could get him back to his crowd-pleasing antics in no time by replacing his frame with one made of airplane aluminum, which is much lighter but more durable than other metal. And the Nats hired her to do it.

A year later, the Nats asked her to replace frames for all of the presidents and to make five baseball caps for them. By the third season, Crepeau was customizing 27 mascot shirts — no small feat, given that each is as big as a pup tent, requiring six yards of fabric.
Thus started a second career that has morphed into not only taking care of the racing presidents but just about every other mascot for a team around the DC area.

The article is absolutely delightful. There is even a video of her huge triumph the other day at Nats Park of all the presidents dressed up in Star Wars characters.

A little more from the article:
It was over in a flash. Six weeks of work came to a close as Washington won the race. Walking back to her seat, Crepeau seemed subdued as 40,000 fans above her turned their attention back to baseball.
But rounding the corner, she came across all six presidents posing for a photo, along with Screech as Obi-Wan and Little Screech as Yoda. They beckoned her over with silent waves, and putting her arms around the fuzzy creatures on either side of her, she gave a big grin. She was with her people.
All I can say is a job well done.

People Can Be . . . Well so Stupid Sometimes — The Newest Craze Buffalo Selfies

I saw this article in the Post today. The headline says it all:
Bison selfies are a bad idea: tourist gored in Yellowstone as another photo goes awry
Gee can you say that that’s a stupid person. I thought you could.

I remember on one of the vacations we took as a family when I was young going to South Dakota. One of the highlights was going on a jeep ride to see the buffalo. We were on the back of an open jeep. At one point my dad tried to climb down to take a picture. He was told not to. The guide explained that if the animal charged my dad would never get back into the jeep in time. That buffalo can run very fast and even for such a large animal can go from a dead stop to a run very quickly.

The article talks about the fact people are told not to go close to the buffalo but do anyway. Here’s how dumb people are:

The root problem is simple, according to park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett.

“People are getting way too close,” she told the AP after Tuesday’s attack. “The [woman] said they knew they were doing something wrong but thought it was okay because other people were nearby,” she also said.

I’m curious as to what this woman thought the other people around her would do. Maybe someone had a cape they carried with them and try and get the buffalo away from her by waving it around. The thing that is really amazing is she was with here six year old daughter. I’m sorry but how stupid can you get.
The article show a series of selfies people have taken. Again what idiots.

But for an even better laugh there’s this from when the government was sued when someone was attacked:

Occasionally, gored tourists have gone after the park. In 1984, 70-year-old Gladys Hoffman from Waco, Tex., sued the federal government for $1.5 million after she was gored by a Yellowstone bison. Hoffman claimed that the United States, the Department of Interior and the park’s superintendent were guilty of negligence for failing to warn her of the danger, UPI reported at the time.

But a federal judge ruled against Hoffman. “The plaintiff admitted that she knew bison are dangerous animals,” U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer said. “The evidence showed the plaintiff nevertheless approached to within 15 feet” of the bison that gored her.

During the trial, a government attorney, Lisa Leschuck, added insult to injury, arguing that “an animal weighing 2,000 pounds with horns is nature’s warning,” UPI reported.
I'm sure at some point in time someone will not be so luck to walk away and will end up dead. But I think even that somehow will not stop people from being well stupid.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2Political Podcast Episode 108

 2Political Podcast Episode 108 is now available. You can listen to it or download it from the podcast site, 2political.com. You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode (you can access the five most recent episodes from the list on the right side of my blog).

This episode was recorded at the start of July, and the reasons that episodes 106 and 107 took so long to post were also true for this one. We talk a bit about those delays at the start of this episode.

Next up, we start talking about Supreme Court rulings (the first one is not the one you might expect, and not totally serious. The Leap Second is next, before we’re back to serious talk (this is how we’ve always talked). Our main discussion is about the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality and the irrational reaction of the radical right. Toward the end we talk about the Arizona case, and why it could in the long term lead to one of the USA's most critically needed forms of electoral reform.

Everyone's welcome to leave a comment (agree or disagree!).

Links for this episode:
"Hold on a second…" - Arthur's post on his attempt to see the Leap Second (complete with a video he made right after this episode was recorded)
“New York City Trip June 2015” – a link to all Jason’s posts on his trip to NYC in June
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Minions — My Review

I had some time to kill before my car would get fixed. They needed to install a new fan and the fan assembly. As I mentioned earlier the fan wasn’t kicking into high gear which would allow for the a/c to actually get into the car.

When I thought all that was needed to fix the a/c was recharging the coolant, I was going to go to a 10:20 showing of Minions. But complications ensued. Turns out there was a 11:10 showing. I would still have a little time to kill before the car after the movie but I figured I could have lunch.

The cost of movie tickets continues to go up. And now they are strange prices. I paid $10.70 for Minions (I looked at my ticket and it turns out I got the senior discount without even asking). I have a Regal Club Card and with this purchase I got some free stuff. I got a free small popcorn. I’m not a huge popcorn person. I decided I would give it to someone to use. First I wanted to make sure you didn’t have to show your card in order to get the popcorn. Turns out you don’t need to show the card. I walked up to a woman in the concessions line with her son. I said I got this coupon for a free popcorn and that I didn’t eat popcorn and wondered if she would be interested in taking it. She said yes and thanked me for it. When she explained it to her son he got very excited about it. I figured that was my good deed for the day.

I went into the theater and was surprised. The surprise was there were hardly any kids in the theater at all. More did show up but I would say there were way more adults in the theater then kids.

Along came the previews. And at the start of each one a kid behind me would ask what it was. Each time the dad explained it was for a movie coming in the future. I got concerned that this kid would be talking throughout the movie. Thankfully once the movie started he didn’t make a peep unless to laugh.

The movie is very silly. But I enjoyed it and it was exactly what I needed. The Minions dialog is mostly gibberish except when they need to say something people will understand. Like banana. And who knew that banana could be so funny. The plot is the Minions attempting to find someone evil to serve. The opening sequence shows the various masters that they find and how in each case the ineptitude of the Minions leads to the master being killed off.

They end up going off to the Artic and find a large cave to live in. But the main reason for their existence is to serve an evil master. Kevin, Bob and Stuart set out on the quest. Kevin being the head Minion. How the others are picked is one of the funniest parts of the whole moive.

Here’s part of the review from the Post:
Soon, they’re on their way to Villain-Con, a riff on Comic-Con only a convention celebrating the likes of Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), an evil world-conqueror in a beehive. The trio inadvertently wins a job in Overkill’s entourage, and they’re soon enmeshed in her plan to take the British throne, along with Overkill’s inventor, Herb (Jon Hamm).

There are, it should be noted, more ambitious seats of power to set one’s diabolical sights on. But this is 1960s Swinging London, a colorful if over-familiar backdrop, and the goggle-wearing Minions could just as well be chipper Mods.

At the very end Gru makes an appearance as well.

I thought this was a funny movie and a great way to spend some time while waiting for your car to be fixed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Back to the Park

I wanted to come on Sunday but it was just too hot.

A little better tonight. Hopefully the rain misses us. 

It's an interesting line up for tonight's game. 

Go Nats!!!

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Car Air Conditioner Gets Fixed

The air conditioner in my car has a slow link in the coolant tank. It usually takes about a year or more for all the coolant to leak out. I took it to the dealership several years ago to get it recharged and to see if they could find where the leak was.

They recharges the coolant and put a dye in the tank which was to show where the leak was. It didn’t show anything. I was told it might be in the dash board. If it was it would be really expensive to fix. He added if the recharge last like a year or so to just recharge it each year. If it stops working in a month then the dash board option might come into play. Turns out it takes like a year to leak out. In fact I got two years out of it this time because last summer was so cool.

I decided to try some place other than the dealership. First to see if maybe some other place could find the leak but mostly I wanted to see if it would be cheaper some place else.

I decided to take it to Meineke. I looked on line and found a couple of places near my house. I’m glad I did a little research on what was around the locations closest to my house. The one that was closest was out in the middle of no where. There was another one in Silver Spring. It was right near the shops and restaurants and the movie theater and only a short walk to the Metro. I decided to make an appointment there. And I’m glad I did.

I set up an appointment for 7:30 on Saturday. It was the first appointment of the day. It didn’t take very long to get there in part because it was so early in the morning. I actually drove past it and went to the are where the shops were to see how far it was from the shop. Not far at all. More than five but less than a ten minute walk.

Took a little to get into the parking lot. It was in back and you had to go down an alley which served as an entrance for a parking lot. Part of the problem was there was a sign but the Meineke name had long since fallen off of it.

I checked in. Gave all the pertinent information. I was told it would be right around $160. I should come back in an hour and a half. I walked to the Dunkin Donuts that is near the Silver Spring Metro stop. I got there looked in and there were no donuts to be seen. It looked like they had muffins but no donuts. Really no donuts. That’s nuts.

I walked back up to where all the other eateries were. I ended up eating at Eggspectation. I had french toast and bacon. It was really good. I wondered around a little after that. I still had some time. I decided I would see a movie after the car got fixed. So I looked for parking garages. The garages around there are operated by the county and are free on the weekends.

I headed back around 9:30. This is when the complications started. In a nut shell the recharging went just fine. But they still couldn’t get cold air to come out. They did a little investigating and determined that the fan was not functioning properly. There’s one fan use it to heat the car. But when you cool the car the fan amps up a notch and it wasn’t doing that. So I needed a new fan. And they needed a couple of hours to get the fan and install it. And around another $400 to do that.

I headed off to see a movie. I saw Minions which I’ll talk about later but I will say I thought was funny. After the movie, I had lunch. Then I wondered around a little stopping off at City Sports to look at shoes. I then got a call from the shop. My car was all ready to go.

I went back and picked up the car. First thing I did was turn on the air conditioning and in very short order cold air came out.