Friday, May 18, 2012

Movie Review: The Avengers

I've heard good things about this movie so on Tuesday night I got 3D tickets and headed to the theater after work.

One important thing to note: Every time I pay extra money for the 3D "experience" and every time I'm pissed off that I fell for their trap... again. I dislike 3D. The picture isn't as clear and you don't get a good feel for the characters or the cinematography because everything is jumping out at you. Perfect example: I saw Jackass 3D and the only thing I remember about the whole movie was a giant dildo flying at my face. Point is, I will not fall for the 3D trap again! I draw the line here!

Despite the stupid 3D glasses and noisy wrappers, I liked the movie. I didn't grow up reading comics but I still feel that the movie gave a good sense of the stories and personalities of each hero. The middle of the movie got a little slow as they were developing the background, but it was necessary for the poor kids like myself who played outside as a child rather than hiding in the basement. We didn't have a basement growing up, otherwise I sure as shit would've been down there.

The movie was long (143 minutes) which meant that I jumped up from my seat as soon as the credits started. I have a hard time sitting still. Apparently there's a teaser scene at the end that I missed. It is supposed to be really cool. Oops! Looks like I'll have to watch the movie again.

The most important takeaway from this film is that I now have a giant crush on Captain America. Yes.

How to Write Good

Emily's father sent along this note---and it's perfect.

By Frank L. Visco

My several years in the word game have learnt me several rules:

1. Avoid alliteration. Always.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
4. Employ the vernacular.
5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
8. Contractions aren’t necessary.
9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
10. One should never generalize.
11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
12. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
13. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
14. Profanity sucks.
15. Understatement is always best.
16. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
17. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
18. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
19. The passive voice is to be avoided.
20. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
21. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
22. Who needs theoretical questions?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review: The Tiger’s Wife

For book club, we recently read The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht. The verdict was split as two of us liked the book while two did not.

I didn’t like it. I thought that it was a hodgepodge of stories thrown together with no connection or meaning. The two who liked the book appreciated that nothing was decided. They liked how open-ended it was so that they could pull the book together in their heads. I thought that it was incomplete.

In reality, this book was about two stories:

1. The Deathless Man
2. The Tiger’s Wife

I really enjoyed both stories on their own. If each story appeared as a short piece in The New Yorker or a similar publication, I would have been impressed. However, in this book the stories were haphazardly slapped together through a present-day character. I was confused and annoyed.

The two stories were good---the book was not.

Next up for book club: Lamb by Christopher Moore

Monday, May 14, 2012

Summer in Chi-town

Chicago's spring has been pretty gross. I swear that we have had a worse spring than winter. After 10 weeks of soccer and running, I've only had to wear sunscreen once---and that was yesterday (my poor, delicate, sun-starved skin still got burned).

But once the sun comes out and buildings warm up, Chicago in the summer just can't be beat.

Here are some of my views from just two days in the sun:

Reading by Lake Michigan on Friday evening
Sunday was one of those days where everything looked gorgeous, even my alien-like apartment building
My apartment may be empty, but it's now great for tanning!
Morning view of Chicago from my office

Friday, May 11, 2012


I have always wanted to be a writer, but I rarely write. I’m too scared or embarrassed or whatever. But you can’t get better if you don’t write. So here I go.... back to the blog. There’s so much to talk about.

I’ll start with the biggest event that has happened recently: I completed my first marathon!

My goal time was 4:30. My race results were:

I'm so proud of myself for beating my goal time! However, there is room for improvement.

I made the classic rookie mistake of going out waaaaay too fast. I tagged behind two people and before I knew it we were doing 9-minute miles and I felt great! If I was doing the half marathon, I would've PRed. That is, until I hit mile 18. I then slowed down at mile 22 and basically crawled through miles 24-26 (look at my 19-mile split versus my finish time). Oops. My bad.

Beyond that, here are some of my thoughts about the training and the race:
  1. Wanna know a great way to NOT lose weight? Train for a marathon. Besides now having a giant ghetto-booty, I lost muscle and got flabbier in the whole training process. The run-ger (running+hunger) was unstoppable. Not even one week after the race and I’m hitting the weights again---and I already feel better!
  2. There’s no way I could have done the program without my training group. I trained with CARA and I loved my group and my group leader! I admittedly was horrible about my mid-week runs but I was able to get through the long runs because I couldn’t embarrass myself by falling over or stopping in front of 20 people. Marathon training is all about the long runs. Whatever get us through it, right? Pride is a powerful thing.
  3. People who are “runners” are funny. They’re both elitist and yet they embrace newcomers. I had so many runners and friends congratulate me on training for and later completing my first marathon! Their concern and support was surprising and absolutely wonderful!! However, behind the scenes they also like to compare times and gloat about past races and how many miles they “conquered” in a given week. The worst part is that I could recognize these traits because I pass the same judgement in soccer! It’s interesting to be on the other (read: "loser") side of the spectrum. I can only hope that I'll one day be fast enough to be an elitist runner.
  4. The course in Kenosha, WI was really nice. It wove through pretty lakeside neighborhoods and some open spaces. I'm glad I picked a smaller race for my first marathon.
  5. I never keep my race medals. I'm very superstitious about superstitions. I avoid all of them. I refuse to knock on wood, etc, etc. However, I think I might keep this medal. I fought hard for it, damnit!
  6. Am I going to be a regular marathoner? Probably not. Despite this, I am excited to start training for the Chicago Marathon in October. Now that I know what the training schedule is like and now that I have made some of the classic mistakes, I think that now I can become better focused and---fingers crossed---faster.
Overall the experience was a good one. I learned a lot about running and about myself and that's the whole point, right? Right. Tell that to my aching legs.

Andrew flew out from Colorado to come support me! He surprised me with a Snickers bar for after the race (my favorite candy) and massaged me and took me out for margaritas and queso and was overall just wonderful. LOVE!
Even though I called him "the worst pacer ever" in my mile-24-I-hate-my-life rage, I adore Sean. I couldn't have gotten through the race without him! I don't know how he was able to manage running 6-miles with me after he had just PRed in his own half marathon race. This sexy runner amazes me!