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Showing posts from March, 2019

#5: Oklahoma (State #39)

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With the conclusion of this vacation, all that remains are Alaska, Hawaii, most of the Pacific Northwest and a few random states out east to reach my stated goal of visiting all 50 states before I turn 40. We'll see if I make it! The newest addition to my list was, of course, Oklahoma. On the way down, Oklahoma is when we first started to see the color green for the first time, which was a refreshing balm to our souls battered by the brutal winter. I think what struck me the most were the number of stunning views- especially in Northern Oklahoma- it seems like you could see forever sometimes, which was nice.

We hit Oklahoma City around rush hour, which was unpleasant- pushed on through to Purcell, where we made a quick pit stop for snacks at the local Wal-Mart-- I saw a Mazzio's Pizza for the first time in probably a quarter century, which was kind of a nice blast from the past. Then, we pushed on south toward Texas and found ourselves in actual mountains. (Well, compared to th…

Squawk Box: The ABC Murders/Wild, Wild Country/Sunderland 'Til I Die

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I've been on a documentary kick lately and Squawk Box this month features two of them: the excellent Wild, Wild Country and probably one of the best sports documentaries I've seen in awhile, Sunderland 'Til I Die. (We've also got The ABC Murders, which has John Malkovich stepping into the role of Belgium's premier detective, Hercule Poirot.)

We'll start with Sunderland 'Til I Die. Amazon followed Manchester City around for a season in All Or Nothing and if you want to watch something shiny, gleaming and beautiful in action, it's worth checking out. (I caught a couple of episodes of it- at some point I'll get back around to watching the rest.) But if you want a taste of the real divide in England's soccer landscape, there's no better place to start than with Sunderland 'Til I Die.

Away from the gleaming stadiums and the wealth of the big clubs at the top of the Premier League, the eight episode documentary series opens with newly relegat…

Netflix & Chill #59: Free Solo/The Dawn Wall

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Free Solo
Watched On: Hulu
Released: 2018
Directed By: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%

The Dawn Wall
Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2018
Directed By: Peter Mortimer and Josh Lowell
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%

Not really competing documentaries, but certain adjacent documentaries Free Solo (on Hulu) and The Dawn Wall (on Netflix) celebrate two monumental achievements in the world of climbing that took place over the course of the last three to five years. Climbing has always fascinated me. I've never seen the movie Cliffhanger, but that image of Stallone hanging off the cliff stuck in my brain as a kid and I seem to remember making up a game on the playground based off of it. I also enjoyed the hell out of Vertical Limit.. So documentaries about what climbing is actually like and actually involves are something I can get behind.

I was far more familiar with Free Solo than I was with The Dawn Wall. I remember reading the news coverage that followed Alex Honnold's a…

This Week In Vexillology #284

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This Week In Vexillology is back and we're heading north for our tour of the counties of England-- this week we're going right up to the border with Scotland to take a look at the flags of Northumberland and Durham.

First up, Northumberland. How do you get there? Well...  there's a 'north' in the name for a reason- if you head all the way up to the north of England, past Leeds and Bradford all the way up to Newcastle and go directly northwest of that and you're more or less in the county proper. (I've got a book in my queue that deals with the history of the borderlands and the Border Reivers that ran in the area of Northumberland...  don't know if the Nixon Clan ran in that part of the border, but the whole place is sort of on a 'bucket list' to potentially visit when we next back to the UK.)

Here's their flag:
This is a flag of the historical county of Northumberland-- it's the banner of arms of the County Council. The arms of the county…

Free Write Friday #8: The Illusion of Power

The revolution will not be televised, the revolution will be live. And therein lies your predicament, because you're the one that has to tell the mob that just stormed the capital that everything they fought for was a lie.

Power, the butler reflected, was an illusion and The President had been a master of it. He was waiting patiently in the President's office for the mob to arrive. This wasn't going to go well, he knew, but someone had to tell them the truth and the President had decided that the butler was the perfect man to do it. He was in his late 60s, his hair silver, his face wrinkled with age. His suit was immaculate, as it always was and he had been a faithful servant to the President and his regime for nearly three decades. So, with a wave of a hand, the old man had said, "You tell them. You tell them the truth."

And then, of course, the bastard got into his helicopter- the plain, unadorned, green one- the real one and not the shiny white one he used for…

1,556 Miles Update #2

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Okay, this is where I left off at the end of January and the beginning of February. I sort of fell off the pace in February a bit-- and March is going to be weird, since we're going down to Texas over Spring Break- so I sort of did a February + early March thing for this post and the next update (hopefully in early May) will be a Late March + April update. 
How are things going? Pretty well, I think. Intermittent fasting seems to work quite well for me-- I sort of miss breakfast sometimes and I ease up on the weekends a bit, just so I can enjoy breakfast with the family, etc. But overall the principle is appealing: I can't necessarily control what I eat (well, I can, I just choose not too) but I can control when I eat a hell of a lot easier. Going into March though, I want to start focusing on a couple of different things.
First, I want to get back on the Kettlebell and Tai Chi train. Theoretically, I jump on the Big Pink Bike Monday-Wednesday-Friday and that leaves Tuesday a…

Bookshot #117: Conversation In The Cathedral

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At this point, I don't really know what else I can say about Mario Vargas Llosa. Every book of his I've ever read has been powerful, incredible and straight up amazing. It's been awhile since I've read any Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Amado or Isabel Allende- and I still need to sit down and read more of Jorge Luis Borges- but Vargas Llosa belongs with the best of them- if for no other reason than his novels make you learn things you didn't necessarily know before. (Especially about the history of Latin America.)

Another thought I've had: I wonder what his novels would be like in Spanish? I might actually have to sit down and attempt one of his books in his native language just to try and see if his writing style comes across in a different way.

So: Conversation In The Cathedral. Set in 1950s Peru, this book rather elegantly states the question that the characters ponder throughout the course of the book: "At what precise moment had Peru fucked itself up?…