Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs. IMDb (#62)

I’ve been on a sort of anti-George Lucas kick for the past few months. Well, to be honest, it’s been a bit longer than that…since around May 23, 1999, you know, give or take.  But I tried not to let my ever consuming hatred  – er,  disappointment in – George color my viewing of American Graffiti.

Graffiti is sweet and optimistic, showing a world utterly different than the one we live in now. Nostalgia at its fullest. It’s a good story; good acting. The type of movie I like to recommend to my parents or anyone who doesn’t want to feel like they’ve been through an emotional wringer after watching a film. It’s a feel-good film of a by-gone era; sort of the coin’s flipside of The Last Picture Show (AFI’s #95).

Requiem For A Dream is the polar opposite of sweet and optimistic. It’s a film about addiction. Addiction to drugs. Addiction to food. Addiction to fame. Addiction to addiction.  And how those addictions drive us to our knees – literally, figuratively, emotionally, spiritually, utterly.

The movie is not subtle in any way. But then again, addiction is rarely subtle.

Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, who has since brought us fabulous films like The Wrestler and mind-benders like Black Swan, I supposed I shouldn’t be surprised that Dream is both compelling and troubling.  I wish it concentrated a little more on the less-obvious addictions portrayed in the film (like our overwhelming need for attention and love) and less on the drug addiction. But if it did Aronofsky wouldn’t have been able sledgehammer the audience at the end with the scenes he no doubt took perverse pleasure in subjecting the audience to.

Am I glad I watched Requiem for a Dream? No. Will I ever watch it again? No.  But Dreams wins over Graffiti. Sorry George.

So the score is now AFI -21, IMDb - 19

AFI’s Top 100
IMDb’s Top 100 (as of 1/1/12)

The Gold Rush (1925)
Memento (2000)

American Graffiti (1973)
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Cabaret (1972)
Das Boot (1981)
Network (1976)
The Third Man (1949)
The African Queen (1951)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Chinatown (1974)
Unforgiven (1992)
The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948)
Tootsie (1982)
Modern Times (1936)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Life is Beautiful (1997)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Monty Python & the Holy Grail (1975)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Back to the Future (1985)
Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969)
The Prestige (2006)
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Raging Bull (1980)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Cinema Paradiso (1988)
All the President’s Men  (1976)
Singing In the Rain (1952)
Modern Times (1936)
Some Like it Hot (1959)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
The Apartment (1960)
Rashomon (1950)
Spartacus (1960)
All About Eve (1950)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Amadeus (1984)
Titanic (1997)
Once Upon A Time in America (1984)
Easy Rider (1969)
The Green Mile (1999)
A Night at the Opera (1935)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Platoon (1986)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
12 Angry Men (1957)
Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
The Great Dictator (1940)
Sixth Sense (1999)
Braveheart (1995)
Swing Time (1936)
The Bicycle Thief (1948)
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
The Apartment (1960)
Up (2009)
Goodfellas (1990)
The French Connection (1971)
Downfall (2004)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Last Picture Show (1971)
Metropolis (1927)
Do The Right Thing (1989)
The Sting (1973)
Blade Runner (1982)
Gladiator (2000)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Toy Story (1995)
Unforgiven (1992)
Ben Hur (1959)
The Elephant Man (1980)

Another toughie next week: the screwball-comedy-with-a-twist Sullivan’s Travels vs. the quirky Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Top 3 - Nostalgic Cartoons

I also write for another blog: Sweep the Leg. On that site, two friends and I regularly compare our Top 3 of various pop culture silliness. One week was Favorite Saturday Morning Cartoons.

Who doesn't think back fondly on Saturday morning cartoons? (Especially now that we're all adult with kids of our own and realize Saturday morning cartoons for what they really were: a babysitter so our parents could sleep in.)

It pains me not to include Transformers or School House Rock -- which taught me more than college ever did --  on this list. But I could only pick three.

Here they are:

#3: The year was 1984. I was eleven. I was just discovering that boys were not all stupid (although I would re-revise that opinion in later years). Ralph Macchio had totally changed my world in Karate Kid. My favorite Saturday morning cartoon that year? Kidd Video.

That’s right, posers. Kidd Video. In case you weren’t one of the 26 people who watched that show. Here’s a little taste for ya…

Can you believe it? – they were taken to the Flip Side to become some fat guy’s “musical slaves”. Does it get more dramatic than that?

But what was especially important to me was that this show was half cartoon/half live action. No fully animated shows – that was for children much younger than me, a tween. And Kidd – was he just like totally hot or what? And they were in a band. Sadly the show was only on the air with new episodes for one year. Kidd Video we hardly knew ye…

#2 Super Friends in all its various titles (Challenge of the Super Friends, All-New Super Friends, World’s Greatest Super Friends… I’m sure there were also other variations I can’t remember).

The Justice League of America vs. The Legion of Doom. I can still hear the theme song in my head. This awesome show (awesome, even despite Zan, Jayna and Gleek) permeated my childhood. I can barely remember a Saturday morning without it.

#1: G.I. Joe – especially in the early years (you know, before I discovered Kidd Video). I was raised in South Florida – the only girl in a neighborhood full of boys. So believe me when I say I could jump, run, play football, climb trees, hop fences and shoot fake guns like the best of them. We played G.I. Joe all the time. I was Lady Jaye. And I kicked butt.

The cartoon had its faults, of course, like the fact that bullets and lasers blazed everywhere but no one ever died. But I loved it; we all loved it. Available action figures just made it more awesome. That, and all those PSA tag lines, memorized by a generation:

“Now you know – and knowing is half the battle.”

To read my friends' Top 3 Nostalgic Cartoons:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Countdown to the Marathon - T Minus 16 Weeks

Training at T Minus 16 weeks (Sept 19-25)

Another week of training for the Disney Marathon coming up on January 13, 2013. My training log for T Minus 16 weeks (Sept 19-25):

Miles ran:  21.9 (4.5mi, 6.8mi, 4.4.mi, 6.2mi)

Miles scheduled: 25

Cross training: Does talking trash in a van while on a Ragnar Relay count? No? Then nothing.

My weight:  X-1 (same as last week, 1 lbs lost overall since training began)

Total miles run since training began: 144.34

Running song o’ the week:  Fake ID by Big & Rich. I’m not a huge country fan, but I love this song. And how can you not love a group that has an album named Hillbilly Jedi? (although this particular song is from the Footloose reboot soundtrack.)

Audiobook: Still Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Marathon Greatness by Scott Jurek.  Didn’t get much listening done this past week because I needed music while on the unfamiliar Ragnar trails. (My full report of that race will be post in a couple of days)

General Notes: So last week I realized that we were not going to be able to take our family vacation to Disney the week around the marathon, as originally planned. Logistically, it just won’t work out for our eldest daughter to get off school. O homeschooling, how I miss thee….

I considered dropping out of the marathon altogether, but decided (with encouragement from the fam) to stay in and just make it a short weekend trip with my hubby. (Um, Mom… can you clear your calendar for January 12-13??)

That settled, it may be time to get down to some true training….

Friday, September 21, 2012

Run, Drive, Sleep? Repeat.

Last year right about this time I headed up to Washington DC to run 200 miles with 11 other women I had never met. It was my first Ragnar Relay – one of the twelve-person relay races held all over the country.  My team’s name was “Does this Tutu Make me Look Fast?” And yes, we ran in tutus for the entire race.

(Just FYI, I am 5'9, standing in the middle of the back row -- so the girls to the right of me? At least 6'2. And they ran like the windLike Kenyans floating in the wind. Team Tutu came in third place -- so evidently the tutus did make look fast --  and won the prize for best running costumes.)

Since then I've run other Ragnars. And I'm running four more in the next 12 months. I keep trying to talk my husband into running a Ragnar race with me. I explain it in as accurate and appealing terms as possible: 36 hours cramped in vans amid 11 other sweaty runners, with little sleep, and crappy food; running for long miles in often dark, unfamiliar places, usually alone, where you might get lost.

Shockingly, I haven’t been able to talk him into it yet. Words like juvenile, stupid, asinine, not orphaning our children, get thrown around. Whatever. I don’t listen. It’s obviously just the jealousy talking.

Ragnar recognizes its own ridiculous nature in its slogan: Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat.

Ahh… Full-On Stupid. That about sums it up.

This weekend I run the DC Ragnar race again. This time with team “Honey Badger Don’t Care”. The race starts in Cumberland, MD and goes through the Appalachian Mountains (cue: dueling banjo) and ends in downtown Washington DC. This time I'm racing mostly with people I know, rather than strangers. But the no sleep, crappy food, and running in the dark will still be the same, I'm sure.

I can’t wait. A full update will come next week. But you can follow my thoughts on the absurd brilliance of it all *live* on twitter: @janiecrouch

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Countdown to the Marathon - T Minus 17 Weeks

Training at T Minus 17 weeks (Sept 12-17)

Another week of training for the Disney Marathon coming up on January 13, 2013. My training log for T Minus 17 weeks (Sept 12-17):

Miles ran:  22 (11mi, 6mi, 5mi)

Miles scheduled: 25

Cross training: Pilates x 2, Yoga x 1

My weight:  X-1 (up 2 lbs from last week, 1 lbs lost overall since training began)

Total miles run since training began: 122.44

Running song o’ the week:  Midnight Blue by Lou Gramm. Gotta love old school, 80s pop/rock.

Audiobook: Still on Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Marathon Greatness by Scott Jurek.  I’m about 1/3 of the way through it. I like the shorter chapters (10-15 minutes rather than 45 minutes like in 7 Habits), and I’ve been switching back and forth between music and audiobook on my runs. A lot so far has been about Jurek’s childhood which is not quite as interesting to me as the races and nutrition, but I think it’s about out of that now.

General Notes: Dreams of a running a marathon can be halted my many things: an injury, changes in life that make training impossible, lack of funds to get to the marathon you want to run. My marathon dream was almost completely derailed by something the running books don’t tend to discuss: Seventh grade math.

It’s become apparent, after only a few weeks in her math class, that we are not going to be able to take Kid #1 out of school for an entire week in January as we had planned – a family trip to Disney centered around the marathon. It’s just a terrible week – she would return to school just a few days before the semester finals, and would be hard-pressed to successfully catch up in time for the quarter to end.

So hubby and I looked at options. Should I go by myself, flying into Orlando on Saturday and out on Sunday? Could we work it out where both he and I go for a short weekend?  Should we try to take the family Disney trip the week before the marathon rather than the week after, giving our daughter more time to turn in work when she returns?

Should I bow out altogether?

Honestly, even after the paying the huge, non-refundable Disney race fee, that would still be the least expensive option overall.

No answers yet; still weighing all the options. We’ll see.