July 2009

Hannibal Lecter Collection

Manhunter ★★★, Silence of the Lambs ★★★★★, Hannibal ★★★★
This series of the Hannibal Lecter story was filmed first with the highly successful Silence of the Lambs, followed by Hannibal, and then Manhunter. All are very suspenseful films. Silence of the Lambs has the best acting and best script. Hannibal is superb for the continued presence of Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Lecter, though Clarise Starling is much better acted by Jodie Foster than Julianne Moore, whose personality fit the part much better.  These films represent a psychopathic psychiatrist (aren’t they all????) Dr. Hannibal Lecter who has taken enjoyment in cannibalism. He also suffers from the brilliance of understanding the nature of his own illness all too well, as well the ability to continually elude the police. This allows for the potential of many more sequels. Lecter has been able to breed a number of other psychopaths who delight in the abduction of younger girls and using their body parts for various means to gain their jollies. The graphic imagery is superbly filmed, especially such scenes as Hannibal removing someone’s calvarium with them still awake, and then feeding them their own brains sautéed in a most French fashion. These movies are fairly gory, and not for the faint-hearted, though all were fairly well done. Watch them, but not with children.

Seattle Century 2009

The Seattle Century is put on by the same group that does the Portland Century, Oregon Bike. This is a ride through Seattle and around the eastern suburbs. It was actually only a total of 94 miles, but that still counts as a century. The weather was hot, in the ’80s, but we even got a touch of welcome rain. The ride was done with Jamin King, as well as Russ & Luc Andersen. Unfortunately, there were no photographs taken, even though I brought my camera. I need to slow down at times and flash some pictures since we did some nice views.
This century was a little bit problematic because 1) Seattle & Washington streets were in much worse shape than Oregon streets. Even the Burke-Gilman trail was quite awful, with lots of tree root bumps on the trail. I’m a little bit disappointed with the city of Seattle.  2) The route was not well marked, and we made frequent wrong turns, only to discover the error of our ways. It was not unusual to see riders re-tracing their route, to get back on the designated pathway.  3) The published route and the actual route were a touch different. The actual route was really better, with less futile looping around like was done in previous years.  Still, there were multiple turns all the way through the ride, making it a bit confusing. This century was nice because 1) You were very well fed at the rest stops, including the final stop on the route, and 2) It had a moderate amount of hilliness, giving you a good workout at the end of 94 miles. We did the entire trip in well under 6 hours, and at an energy expenditure of roughly 5600 calories, only 1.4 lbs. of fat. Yikes! You need to ride a lot to lose 10 lbs. of fat!
The only problem that I had on this ride was that I was a bit sore from a backpacking trip, the first of the season, and done the last two days before the Seattle Century. It didn’t help that the weather was hot. Still, it was an enjoyable ride. In comparison with the Portland Century, the roads were better, there were better hills, the stops were better, and the route was very clearly marked with no obscure turns. I would have no problem repeating the Portland Century, but probably not the Seattle Century.

Eagle Creek 23-24JULY2009

This must be my 15th time up Eagle Creek, as it is definitely one of my favorite easy hikes. It was the very first backpack trip I’ve ever done, which almost led to calamity. At that time, when I was about 15 years old, this trail seemed to be a challenging tour de force, demanding only the bravest and the best. Since then, I have brought young kids up the trail and usually hiked to 7-1/2 mile camp in under 3 hours. The trail is spectacular, much of it created with dynamite. There are multiple waterfalls, the most photogenic being the punchbowl (above) at 2.5 miles in. The most impressive is tunnel falls, at about 6.5 miles in…

You can see how the trail walks behind the falls through a tunnel. It remains truly spectacular. There is also high bridge and low bridge

The first photo above is looking down the very steep canyon wall while on high bridge, at the rushing river.

Here I am with Russ Andersen and Jonathan. Unfortunately, Luc had to take the photo.  All in all, the trip brought back many memories, and because of no physical problems or blisters, made me anxious for more aggressive endeavors this summer.

Schöne Sommerzeit

This summer has been awesomely beautiful, permitting a delightful ability to ride my bike, go backpacking, or just sit outside enjoying the sun. It’s been truly marvelous. Since my last post, I’ve been able to do the STP in one day, backpack Eagle Creek, and then do the Seattle Century. I’ve had time to spend with family, and get some reading in, as well as listening to music. It’s also been a time when I am able to do other sundry projects, such as write test questions for PAACS, and study French in preparation for our trip to Cameroon. I prefer to learn German and find that I am understanding German speech much more, especially on news channels, where the language is more clearly spoken, and less idiomatic than you would find in movies.

We are also blessed with our fourth grandchild, Liam Isaac. He was born on 22JUL09, healthy and cute. His photo is above. The other children seem to appreciate their new brother, as well as Oma.

Sammy had a birthday two days later…

He loved the cake, but would not eat my favorite food…

… sauerkraut mit Wurst und Senf.  Yum. I always shop for German-made sauerkraut, as the stuff made over here tastes terrible. It might explain why so many Amerikans don’t like sauerkraut.
I brought my Lungi on the Eagle Creek backpack trip and found out that it is perfect for wearing around camp in the evening. Yet, when I sent Hannes und Herbert Lungis, they developed a wonderful new use for them, that I must show you…

I love Herbert!!!!! There is something about him that tells me that we are of the same blood.
Before sending out this Blog today, I was able to do the Sunrise ride. I’ve blogged this before, but it has now become just another fun ride, though probably the most beautiful ride in the world. Photos fail. It is 10 miles (16 km) of 6-12% grade uphill, unrelenting, averaging about 8% for a total 3000 ft elevation gain. In truthfulness, the last time I did it, I stopped several times to rest, but not this time. This time, I couldn’t keep up the speed of Russ A., but he stopped to clean rocks off the road. Luc A. started about 5-10 miles before our start, and he arrived on top at about the same time as us. He is totally awesome power on a bike. Jonny just ordered a new bike but couldn’t pick it up, so rode my Touring bike, which is too heavy of a bike to just be running up to Sunrise. At the same time, the RAMROD was occurring (Ride Around Mt. Rainier in One Day), a 150 mile 10,000-foot elevation gain circuit around Mt. Rainier. I would never formally do the RAMROD, though would like to just try it in a self-supported fashion. Today would have been a terrible day for the RAMROD, as the ending temperatures in Enumclaw were 96°F (35.5?), which is just too hot to ride. Fortunately, we were at 6200 ft elevation on top of Sunrise. Here is what we looked like on top. The photo from left to right shows Luc, me, Russ, and Jon.

The ride down was totally exhilarating, though I’d never ever wish to miss the ride up.
You may review my many adventures and other activities during the last month at BikeBlog, BookBlog, Hike-Ski Blog, MovieBlog, and music blog.  Stay in touch and keep your stick on the ice.

  1. I lift up my eyes to the hills.
  2. From where does my help come?
  3. My help comes from the Lord,
  4. who made heaven and earth.

Pee Wee

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure ★★★★★, Big Top Pee Wee ★★
Pee Wee starred in a tv series, after which these two full movie productions were based. Paul Reubens eventually was removed from the children’s tv circuit for immoral behavior in public, though the films themselves are clean. The Big Adventure is with Pee Wee having his bicycle stolen, and then going off to find it. It is full of Pee Wee humor, and Pee Wee is at his best. The follow-up film, Big Top Pee Wee was a total flop, with Pee Wee dumping his fiancee to join the circus. There is very little humor in the second movie as compared to the first, and the storyline fails in all respects. The Big Adventure deserves a watch, as an example of classic clean humor.

Karajan: A Film by Dornheim

Karajan – A film by Dornheim ★★★
This is not exactly a music review, but rather, the review of a film about a musician. This film attempts a limited biography of Karajan, one of many, including comments of many musicians still alive that have played under his baton. The film is mildly biographical but very limited in its scope as a biography. It certainly deals with the complex nature of this man, thought by some to be warm and friendly, others, to be cold and distant. It starts from his early career at his birthplace in Salzburg, ending in his painful last few years while suffering severe back pain and conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Each phase in his life is given only cursory treatment while tending to be positive as a whole. Thus, a film worth watching for Karajan fans, but not the best film biography of the man.

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine ★★
It has recently come into vogue to show highly pathological families doing highly pathological activities, and we are supposed to consider that humorous. Such is the case with this film. Fortunately, except for the foul mouth of the grandfather, as well as his drug-using activities, most of what we see is not terribly offensive and can be watched by even young children. This is not a film to inspire one to do greater things. It is cesspool cine photography. It does not make a moral point or suggests that the behaviors are either wrong or that there might be a higher aspiration in life. The greatest humor is when “Little Miss Sunshine” Olive does a faux striptease venue for the beauty contest. Both the pseudo-moral reaction of the judges as well as the accepted humor of the matter actually were not funny. I found it hard except in a few spots to see the comedy in this film. Not worth watching.

Chuck Norris American Hero Collection

Chuck Norris Collection, including Delta Force I & II, Missing in Action I, II, & III. ★★★★
Having just seen the Die Hard Collection, the Lethal Weapon Series, and the Rambo series, I tended to like this series the most, with the Die Hard collection a close second. The Delta Force series included two settings, the first with terrorists in a NY airport, and the second with drug dealers from South America, and the MIA series dealt with, of course, Vietnam. Norris was entertaining in that he is not only a good actor but was able to maintain a storyline without much sex and obscene language. All of these films derive their entertainment value from the special effects of things blowing up. If that isn’t your cup of tea, watch something else. Fortunately, this collection came at under $15, and I wouldn’t pay much more for it.

Seattle to Portland One Day

This was my second STP, and we decided to do it in one day. It is a double century, with a distance of 202.5 miles. Fourteen hours after a start at 5 am, Luc and I crossed the finish line, still going rather strong.
Here are the beginning and ending photos….

I rode my yellow bird, which held up wonderfully. I got no back pain nor neck pain, and the pain in my butt was more chafing than pain from sitting on the saddle for 13 hours with only short breaks. The STP was sunny but cooler this year than last. It also seemed to have fewer hills. I didn’t understand that, except that I might have gotten a bit stronger on the hills. Luc was still awesome, setting the pace the entire distance. He is really a strong cyclist. Russ did well, but 160 miles into our venture, was having some crampy abdominal pain which made it miserable for him. All of this means that we will have to do it again next year because I want to see Russ cross the finish line in style. He has better cycle strength than me, so it should not be a problem for him.

Fierrabras: Schubert

Fierrabras, an opera by Franz Schubert, and performed at the Zürich Opera House, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. ??
Schubert wrote 10 operas, yet they are all rarely if ever performed. This is the only opera of his that has been actually filmed. The music itself gets 5-stars, as Schubert remains the greatest songwriter ever. The story and plotline get a 3-star rating, mostly because Schubert did not excel in finding good scriptwriters. The music performance gets a 4, and the staging gets a bare 1-star. The staging is an odd 20th century, historical, minimalist mix. The worst part was the constant distraction of “Schubert”, somebody dressed up like Schubert, who had a rare speaking role but otherwise mostly interacted constantly with the singers. Fortunately, there were no suitcases or trench coats. There was an oversized piano and chair, that seemed to fit into every scene, and multiple doors that the stage people and singers would come and go through. All in all, it was too bizarre and did not contribute to explaining the opera. Opera, by its nature, is both auditory and visual. It is hard to omit the visual in an opera, without destroying the intent of the composer. Liberties with staging are as much a crime to the music, as attacking the script itself. When the visual elements distract or attempt a completely different re-interpretation of the composer’s intention of the opera, then I consider the performance to have failed. And that is where this performance has failed. It would be better to get a recording of this opera than to watch what has been presented in this performance.