Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Losers

I’m a sucker for a good “ragtag band of badasses working against the odds” flick. From Usual Suspects on down to Predator, that’s just good shit. And this one follows the blueprint to the T: The gruff, tough-as-nails leader with a heart of gold and chin of granite; the soft-spoken sniper; the knife specialist; the computer expert; even the wisecracking white guy who’s self-deprecating humor belies his deadly skills. Oh, and they were framed and left for dead by the clandestine shadow organization that had previously been their command.

Fast paced, frenetic editing, stylish shots and camerawork, and the best use of a Journey song in the history of cinema to date. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s got plenty of action. Clever writing, sharp dialogue, big guns and lotsa ‘splosions!

Chris Evans is pitch-perfect. His biting sarcasm and quick wit on full display, like Ryan Reynolds without the irony. And his perfection in this role is further evidence that he is the worst possible choice to play Captain America. It’s just not his style. To put him in a role where he can be tough but not sarcastic is a disservice to both him and his audience.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is awesome, the prototypical comic book toughguy. Remember how cool Arnold used to be in his 80’s action flicks? JDM is the updated version of that, and I mean that in a good way. Couple this with his turn last year as the Comedian, as well as his role (albeit brief) as Pop Winchester, and he is on a fast track to securing his place in the badass hall of fame. Sadly, his involvement in Grey’s Anatomy is still a black mark on his record.

Jason Patric is a surprisingly phenomenal villain. Very one-dimensional, but that’s the kind of movie this is. And you don’t mind it at all. Trust me. He’s so devious, so evil, and yet so damn charming and darkly hilarious. Bra-fucking-vo.

If you like action movies that don't try to pretend they're more than they actually are- if you liked Smokin' Aces- you should love this.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Warrior Dash

A few months ago, my buddy Steven Rowland told me about the Warrior Dash, a 3-mile run/obstacle course. They set it up a few different places around the country, and they were scheduled to stop an hour north of San Diego.

Not only did it look cool, but everyone who signs up gets a bitchin free hat!

That was all the motivation I needed. Except I forgot about it for a while. I only just signed up last week, 8 days before the actual race. With just a week to train, I figured I should maybe run a little, y’know, to get kind of in shape. So I jogged halfway down my street one morning. And that was the extent of training.

Very similar to my training regimen for a hike up Mt Whitney- tallest peak in the lower 48- a few years back. We had read online that the hike is good for a 2-day trip, but that fit individuals could do it in one. Anyway, about a week before that, I hadn’t done much to get in shape so I decided to ride an exercise bike for 30 minutes. Once. Training concluded, I made a successful hike. 9 hours up, 5 hours down. Wearing shorts and Tevas.

That experience basically taught me that I can get by without training, in much the same way high school taught me I could get by without studying or starting projects early. Yay procrastination!

Realistically, though, I knew that training would be helpful. My cardio is for shit. Honestly. I get winded walking up a few flights of stairs. But I do have a couple things going for me- one, I am actually strong for my scrawny frame. I never exercise. Ever (hence the bad cardio). But I could probably knock out 45 push-ups in under a minute. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I am stubborn as fuck. Not just stubborn; Irish stubborn. Tell me I can’t do something, and I’ll do it out of spite. Well, 50-50 if I ACTUALLY do it, I’m also lazy. But back to the stubbornness- it has gotten me through a lot. Like the aforementioned Mt Whitney.

Saturday was my day to run at 5PM. But before I got to do it, I had to cruise up to LA with Sherri to see some friends that were in town for the weekend. The plan: leave at 1PM, make a 2 hour dive to LA, 1 hour drive to Warrior Dash so I have an hour to hang out beforehand, one hour drive back home, then tomorrow reprise the 2-hour LA drive to pick Sherri up and relax for the rest of Sunday.

The reality: 3 ½ hour drive to LA. Fucking traffic! On a Saturday?!? Followed by a 2-hour drive to the Dash. So I missed my time. I was so angry sitting in that traffic, there are not words angry enough to describe it. At one point I was clenching my fist so tightly I thought I was going to snap one of my metacarpals. I was almost an hour late, and my run was the last one of the day. Luckily, they told me I could run Sunday instead. Crisis averted.

So after spending almost 7 hours to drive 250 miles on Saturday, I was sooooo fucking sick of driving. And I would have to do another 220-mile LA trip before driving the 50 miles to the race Sunday. I didn’t know if I could do it. This from a guy who used to love road trips more than anything. I’ve driven from Detroit to NYC to watch the ball drop on New Years Eve, then turned around and drove home. I’ve also driven to Long Island to take my sister to dinner for her birthday, and drove home after. I’ve driven from Detroit to New Orleans, DC, San Jose, Minneapolis, and Denver. And from D-town to San Diego maybe 6 or 7 times (including once in 45 hours- take THAT Cannonball Run).

Back to the task at hand- I hate running. I consider it to be one of the 2 greatest evils in the world. And yes, the other one is traffic. Great weekend for me, no? The entire time I was getting ready for the run, I never really considered that 3 miles isn’t really a short distance. At least not to someone who never exercises. Ever.

On top of that, I only just saw the obstacles Saturday morning, too. Jumping over fire? Why not.

It hit me after maybe the first half-mile. I was starting to get tired already. By mile 1 I thought I might puke. Keep in mind here we’re pretty much all jogging. Nobody is really embracing the ‘race’ aspect of this, it’s more fun for the obstacles. When I finally got to the water table at the halfway point, I was crushed that I was only half done. By mile 2, my lungs felt like they would explode. Most of the obstacles were in the second half of the race though, which actually helped. Breaks up the monotony and pain of running.

But I made it! Success! Warrior Dash conquered, obstacles bested, fire leapt. And in a respectable (to me at least) time of about 35 minutes.

Here are some video highlights