Saturday, January 18, 2014

Gladiator




For Christmas, Jack got me the 2012 release of Les Miserables, which is a musical I saw in London and thoroughly enjoyed. I was worried that turning it into a movie would make it seem forced, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well it had been done. When Inspector Javert was introduced, I felt absolutely sure I had seen the actor before.

Jack informed me that, duh, the guy was Russell Crowe, to which I responded, "Who?" I don't recall having heard the name Russell Crowe before. Jack rattled off the names of a bunch of movies that I had never heard of that Crowe was famous for, and of course, I had never heard of them either. After the movie, I checked imdb.com (internet movie database), which listed every movie, TV show, etc. that the guy had appeared in. I had never seen a single thing on the list, and had only ever even heard of one or two of them.

To remedy my ignorance, Jack decided to show me the movie Gladiator, in which Russell Crowe starred as Maximus Decimus Meridius. I have now seen a whole two movies that Russell Crowe was in. Hooray!

I find that Russell Crowe has very distinctive eyes. They droop a little, which makes him look permanently worried or sad. I suspect that this may have been partly why he was cast as Maximus Decimus Meridius. Allow me to sum up the gist of the movie using Russell Crowe's facial expressions.

"I'm worried because we're about to fight a battle."

 "Now I'm sad because even though we won the battle, a lot of my buddies are dead. Also, I think this guy might be Dumbledore, but I'm not sure."


"Now my family's been murdered and I've been enslaved and forced to fight as a gladiator. That makes me sad."

"My buddy and I are going to win this fight. But look at all this carnage. How sad."

"The new emperor just made jokes about when he murdered my wife and child. What a jerk."


"This is my angry face."


"This definitely feels like a legit time to be worried, since that's the emperor who wants me dead."


"Oh no, I'm dying. What if I get reincarnated as a French guy?"


"What if Jean Valjean steals another loaf of bread? That might be the end of the world! What revolution? Oh yeah. That too. Allow me to sing you the song of my people."

So that's that. I do have to admit, Russell Crowe is a hottie. They played that up in Gladiator. Notice that in the pictures above, even after having been a slave and a gladiator for months, his hair and beard are still perfectly trimmed and styled.

I like Russell Crowe better as Maximus Decimus Meridius than as Javert. But then, I never really understood Javert. "Oh no, I don't understand why this guy made the decision he did. Welp, time to kill myself."



I want to see a movie with him in a role where he smiles more. That's a really nice smile.

The end.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Baseball

For Christmas over a year ago, I bought my husband the 2K10 major league baseball game for the Wii because he played baseball in Wii sports for hours every day and complained that it didn't have enough innings, that it applied the mercy rule (aborting the game if a team was more than five runs ahead), and that it didn't offer the ability to build a team and follow their stats for an entire season. All of these were remedied in the game I got for him.

Unfortunately, he played it briefly once and then set it aside, claiming it was too complicated to play. I finally decided maybe if I figured out how to play it, it may pique his interest in the game and encourage him to play. So today, I sat down in front of the Wii for a crash course in baseball.

The first team the game put me up against was the Yankees. The game offered me a pitching tutorial before the game started, and I practiced for a while before beginning the game. I threw the first pitch, and the computer slammed a home run. Hooray. I threw a second pitch, which was promptly hit to right field. My fielder ran toward the ball, tripped, and fell on his face. The ball bounced a few times, and my fielder stood there and stared at it as the runner took the opportunity to run home. The third batter hit another home run. I actually got a strike on the fourth batter before he hit one out to center field. My center fielder was camped right in the glowing area that told me where the ball was going to land. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, he threw himself flat on the ground. The ball bounced behind him. He clambered back to his feet, turned in a circle, then threw himself to the ground again. I imagined what must have been going through his mind: "Oh boy! The ball's coming right at me! Watch this! Hey, what if my arm isn't strong enough to throw it back to the pitcher all the way? I better tone my muscles a bit. Pushups! Ready, go! Woohoo! I did a pushup! Hey, I know, I'll do another one! Aw yeah! I can totally do pushups! Did everybody see me do pushups? Want to watch me do it again? Yay, I love sports!"

The next time one was hit to a fielder, he tripped, another guy tripped, the first guy tripped again, and then they apparently started some kind of slap fight while the batter laughed his way back to home plate. Then one of my fielders ran for the ball and suddenly decided to become Muslim and realized it was time to praise Allah as he knelt on the ground facing Mecca. The next time, a fielder ran toward the ball to catch it, then suddenly stopped and thought, "Wait a minute... what's the point of catching the ball? What's the point of this game? What's the point of existence? Hey look, there's a birdy flying over there. I wonder if it sees a bug it's about to eat. Mmm, I'm hungry. I wonder if there will be hot dogs after this game. I like hot dogs. I hope there's relish."

Eventually, it was my team's turn to bat. The batting tutorial taught how to swing, how to hit grounders, how to swing hard and fast in hopes of a home run, and how to bunt. I turned out to be as bad at swinging a bat in the game as I am in real life, and I practiced a lot before I told the game I was ready to begin the second half of the inning. Jack was surprised that I actually practiced. He said that he had skipped the tutorial because he wanted to just get to playing. I was feeling pretty confident that at least the batting controls would be pretty easy for me, assuming I could connect with the ball.

As it turns out, the batting wasn't as hard as the base running, which I wasn't given a tutorial for. I hit a pitch way out to center field, it bounced off the wall, got past the fielder, and came to rest before it was recovered, and the runner made it to first base and decided to have a tea party there instead of trying for at least a double. The next guy hit a single, but decided he wanted to try for an inside the park home run. At one point, I had runners on second and third, the batter hit the ball, and the runner at second decided to stay where he was, while the batter decided to go hang out with the second base runner. "Hi! Look at me! I hit the ball! Let's high five! Hey, look, the guy who recovered the ball is coming for a high five too! What a good sport he is! High five, dude on the other team!" Another time, my batter hit what should have been a good solid double. He rounded first, kept going past second, got halfway to third, then realized he had gone too far and decided to go back. He turned around and sprinted back to second base... then tried to run all the way back to first and got tagged out by the first baseman.

 We lost the game, but by golly, my team sure had fun.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Keeping Pace

I suspect that part of the reason it seems like everyone else my age has no trouble at all putting on weight while I remain almost unhealthily skinny is that I spend too much time pacing. I pace when I have nothing to do, when I have something to do but I don't want to do it, when I'm waiting for something, and when I'm doing something that I have to do that doesn't require sitting down. I don't really know why I do it. Half the time, I don't even realize I'm doing it until well after I've begun. Or until someone says something, such as when I arrive at a meeting early and it hasn't started yet, and a couple minutes later, someone goes, "Hey, why are you pacing?" and I realize that I've circled the room like fifteen times. Then they inevitably ask what's bothering me, and I wonder why something needs to be bothering a person before they're allowed to pace.

I even pace when I'm reading. It's because I have trouble sitting still. I can sit and play video games for hours, but if I sit down to read a book or watch television, there's not enough interaction, and within an hour, my butt is yelling, "This is boring! Get off me! I want something to do!" Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to give my full attention to whatever it is that I'm reading, which is severely handicapping my ability to do one of my favorite hobbies.

My dogs used to follow me when I paced, especially my husky, Akela. Now they're so used to it that they don't care anymore. I'll stand up from something and start to walk towards them, and they perk up and think, "Oh boy! She's coming this way! Is she going to give us treats? Are we going for a walk? Am I going to get my tummy rubbed? Is she--oh. Oh, she's just walking around in circles again. Okay." And then their heads plop back down onto their paws and they go back to basking in the sunlight.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Changing a tire

Apparently, Hyundai has its own idea of what "changing a tire" means.

 This evening, a friend of mine called and asked if we knew how to change a tire. Since I do and my husband does not, he deployed me to go meet the friend in a parking lot to help her change her tire. I smiled and whistled the whole way there, pleased that I could share my worldly expertise with someone and look like a hero, swooping in to save the day! I imagined explaining all the steps as I performed them and thoroughly impressing the friend and anyone else who may have happened to see what was happening.

When I got there, I dramatically swept out of my pickup truck, announced my arrival, and proudly went to the trunk of the friend's car to haul out the spare tire. I lifted up the little rug in the trunk, and all my pride melted away. There was no spare tire. There was a well for the tire, but it was filled in with some kind of styrofoam, vaguely-tire-shaped container with some weird-looking tools that were unquestionably not a car jack or a lug nut wrench.

The friend called the company from whom she had bought the car, and they too-politely informed her that new cars apparently don't come with spare tires anymore. You have to specifically request one when you purchase your car, and it costs extra. Instead of the tools to replace her tire, they informed her, she had been graced with the tools to repair the tire! How exciting for us! Unfortunately, she had to call a different number for roadside service and spend at least an hour on hold before anyone would be available to even listen to her tale of woe, much less begin taking steps to remedy her problem.

So we cracked open the user's manual and pulled out the tire-repair kit and set to work trying to patch a hole that both of us could have simultaneously stuck our thumbs through if we had felt the urge. For some reason, part of the directions involved her driving around on the flat tire for two miles before we tried pumping it up. Naturally, our efforts were in vain, since the hole was too big to patch.

In the end, I tailed her as we drove carefully to the nearest tire repair shop, which was, ironically, another two miles away. The gentleman behind the counter informed us that not only was it unfortunate, but unsurprising, that the car had come without a spare tire, but the remaining three tires were of poor quality and weren't holding their tread very well at all.

The moral of the story is: when you buy a new car, make sure that it comes with an actual spare tire so that when you get a flat tire, you can fix it and be on your way in about ten minutes, rather than spending two hours fiddling around only to conclude that you have to drive on the rim anyway.