Friday, September 28, 2007

Bug

Last night, Mr. H. treated me to the movie Bug. Treated isn't really the right word. First of all, it's not like we went out, he rented it from Netflix. Secondly, a movie about people going insane and thinking that they are infested by tiny little bugs and a scene that seriously almost made me throw up wasn't a treat.

So the premise is, Agnes (Ashley Judd - who would have thought she'd be in something so bizarre as this) is a screwed up, alcoholic woman who's getting mysterious phone calls from no one and meets a similarly screwed up Peter (Michael Shannon). They both descend into the depths of paranoia because of a perceived bug infestation. They think it's a minuscule Aphid (a type of plant lice).

Obviously not a happy movie, I spent the first 40 minutes or so wondering why this woman hated her life so. Other than her perfectly arched eyebrows, Ashley looked pretty screwed up. We then find out that several years ago, someone kidnapped her six-year old son and he was never found. Sure, that's going to screw with a girl. Throw in a ex-husband (played by Harry Connick Jr.) who was recently released from jail, like to hit and doesn't ask before he steals money and cigarettes out of her purse, and you're bound to go a little crazy. To make matters worse, she lives in Oklahoma.

I watched the second half of the movie cringing and marveling at the shared craziness. When it was over (not a happy ending - that's all I'll say), I looked at Mr. H. with what was apparently disgust and incredulousness because all he could say is "what?" like he didn't know. Now, aside from the grossness of this movie (which normally doesn't bother me - maybe it's just the idea of tiny little bugs crawling all over my skin), I thought it was pretty good. And I like movies that make you think. Maybe they're not really making it all up. What if there is some sort of conspiracy? And I usually like movies that don't really have a point other than to tell a story. And tell a story this one does. It's a watning to (1) never live in Oklahoma (b) always watch your children while you're in the grocery store and (3) don't let strange men who may or may not have been experimented on by the government stay overnight.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

special people bike riding

Tooling on my way to work on my bike this morning when I hear my cell phone ring. I pull over to the side of the road (I've seen people on the cell phone while riding but it's not something I recommend). It's Mr. H. calling me to tell me that my sister has called and I'm supposed to be at her house so I can go to my nephew's "Special Persons" day at his preschool. Holy crap, I forgot! I turn the bike around and make a beeline for her house (riding down Ashland Ave. isn't fun by the way). I make it there in time to take a quick shower and get appropriately dressed for the "Special Persons" day.

It was fun. I and the other special people (mostly grandparents, but also some nannies, aunts and uncles as well as a few moms and dads) got to hear a story about the hello/goodbye window and do the head, shoulders, knees and toes song with the kids. If you're ever invited to a Special Persons day, I highly recommend you go.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

i lied

i didn't ride my bike this morning. i had a 7 a.m. conference call and it just wasn't going to work. tomorrow afternoon i have a doctor's appointment (no worries, just a leg issue) so I won't be riding then either. I guess my little experiment is going to have to wait a few days.

sorry.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune ran an article about riding your bike in the city asking the question "Is Chicago Bike Friendly." While a worthwhile question, and one I wanted to see answered, I, and other readers, were disappointed in the story. They didn't really answer how bike friendly the city is overall, just how friendly it is to a person who admittedly hadn't been on a bike in years. So I've decided to step up to the challenge. To get an idea of how bike friendly part of the city is (the stretch of Milwaukee Ave. I take to work), I'm going to blog for the rest of the week about my ride.

My regular readers know that I recently started riding to work. And, if you pay attention to my little "how much money have I saved by riding to work" section, you'll notice that I don't ride to work every day. There are various reasons for this. Back in August, There were some sweltering days I just didn't want to ride (a bad reason, but a reason none the less). Other days I may have something to do after work that would be difficult with the bike (never drink and ride). Other days, like today, I wanted to ride my bike to work but just couldn't get the motivation up. And frankly, after reading the story in the paper and hearing about the girl killed by the garbage truck, there are days I'm just not into risking my life. Which is why I have a couple of rules for myself that make my riding experience safer.

I like to leave early in the morning to beat most of the traffic downtown. While there are more cyclists on Milwaukee Ave. in the 7 a.m. hour, I find it much less stressful to leave the house by 6:15 or 6:30 a.m. This way I don't have to deal with as many cars, and frankly, I don't have to deal with as many cyclists who don't seem to care about the other cyclists on the road any more than they care about the cars on the road. Leaving this early means I get to work early, but I go to the gym to shower there. However, this pretty much means getting everything ready the night before - what I want to wear, my toiletries and lunch. Someday I'll work at an office that doesn't require me to dress nicely. Maybe it'll be OK for me to be slightly sweaty in jeans or shorts. But for now, the office requires business casual (emphasis on the business) attire.

My other rule is I try to leave the downtown area later. This usually means gonig to the gym after work (how much exercise can one woman take?). I've ridden home during rush hour, and let me tell you, it's just not fun. Every one is eager to get home and in addition to the cars, there are a lot of other cyclists out there, who, as I said earlier, don't seem to give a hoot about the other riders.

Other than that, I just try to go at an easy pace, not get distracted and not worry about all the other riders who pass me by. I know I can go fast if I wanted to. I'd rather get home safe and sound.

Tomorrow, the first half of my ride to work!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Running on Cold

Saturday morning Mr. H., my sis and I went out to do the Walter Payton 16,726 Yard Run in Arlington Heights. Now I didn't do all 16,726 yards. I did the 5k run. Mr. H. and my sis did the full 16,726 yards, which is Payton's career yardage. The run benefits the Walter Payton Cancer Fund - so that's a good thing, and it's always a good thing to get up early in the morning and get your exercising out of the way. I even made a friend the last mile. We ran kept each other company so we didn't just give up. I came in 14th in my age group (35 - 40, so I'm a youngun in that group). Not too bad, though there weren't really that many people in my age group (30 to be exact). I ran a 30.27 (so less than a 10 min mile pace, which is good for me) and finished 128 overall. The really fun thing about this run was the weather. September begins really good running weather because it has finally cooled down. But Saturday morning was a record setting low temperature, and it was in the 40's at 8 a.m. when the race began. My hands never did warm up, and Mr. H. said it took him about 3 miles for his hands to warm up, so I guess if I had kept running, maybe I would have been able to feel my fingers. But, no need, once I was done I was able to put back on my sweatshirt and wait by the finish line for Mr. H. and the sis to get in. They both had pretty good times, 1.13.06 (17th in age group, 75th overall) and 1.32.33 (14th in age group, 283 overall) respectively. I really have little to no desire to run further than 5 miles at any one time (though I am training for a 10k next month). The sis has talked about doing the marathon several times, and was training for it this year, but her training went awry. Mr. H. has wanted to do a half marathon, but now that he's got his first taste of distance running, he's started talking about doing a marathon. I'm more than happy to stick to my little 5ks and the occasional 8 and 10k. I've never really liked running that much, I don't think I have the right body type for it (I'm a better cyclist). But I have grown to like it more, and I like the effects of the exercise. And being competitive, I like seeing my times improve and getting faster (even if I'm still going slow). Check back and I'll have pictures posted from the run.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chasing Cézanne

Last night on the train ride home, I finished reading Chasing Cézanne by Peter Mayle. I picked this book randomly off of our bookshelf. If you haven't seen our books shelves, I'll give you a little idea. We've got four pretty much fully lined with books Mr. H. and I have read (or been meaning to read). It's like a little library in our second bedroom. When we moved in together, Mr. H. and I realized that oddly enough, we didn't have that many over lapping books. Which was nice, cause now we have all these books that neither of us have read to choose from (though I get the feeling sometimes that Mr. H. doesn't really want to read any of my books). Regardless, I've been working my way through his books (some of them, some I don't really want to read...like he's got a lot of heady literature that I'd need a PHD to read, which I don't have). So after finishing Light on Yoga, I needed a novel that wasn't going to be too involved. So I picked up Chasing Cézanne. At just under 300 pages and a review by People magazine on the back, I figured I was in for an easy ride. And easy it was. We are quickly introduced into the world of decorating magazines and those who photograph them through Andre, the half French half New York (what a combo) photographer. We get whisked away to France to watch him photograph some old ladies icons when he accidentally oversees a Cézanne being removed from a house under unusual pretenses. Andre isn't in the world of the rich and powerful, just close to it, and so this book keeps us on the outskirts of that world, giving us a glimpse into what it would be like not only to own a Cézanne, but be rich enough to want to have it forged and sold so your kids don't have to pay the inheritance tax on it.

Alas there is no real mystery of why the Cézanne is being sold (unless you're like me and have no idea why someone would buy an expensive painting just to keep it hidden away). But the chase for it leads through some interesting descriptions of wonderful meals (Mayle seems to love France and its food). I wasn't disappointed in this book, but I wasn't in love with it. The end left me a little flat as it just seemed to end and so I wasn't sure exactly why I started.

Then I remembered, I started because this is one of the books Mr. H. has that I haven't read and I needed something to read. Funny thing is, Mr. H. has never even read this book (and now probably won't). When I told him I was reading it and didn't understand the inscription in the book he told me its story. Apparently a while ago he was at a bar with his sister Andrea. While sitting having a drink, another patron of the bar started chatting with Mr. H. Apparently he was smitten and rushed home to return with this book. He said it was his favorite and Mr. H. must read it. The inscription inside says: To J... Bon Appetit. Steve Z.

Well Steve. Thanks for giving Mr. H. this book so I had something to read on the train.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hot Fuzz

warning: contains a little itty bitty spoiler

Mr. H. and I watched Hot Fuzz last night. It was funny. It's by those guys that made Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. If you've seen Shaun, then you'll notice the several references to it. At one point, Simon's character, Nick, takes a short cut over several gates. He does it with the expertise of a well-trained gate jumper. In Shaun, he takes a similar short cut, falling over the gates. As in Shaun, the stupid mundane things become funny. But, as with my last review, sitting at my desk the day after watching the movie (OK, it's really three days after watching the movie because it's actually Wednesday, not Monday like I said it was at the top of this post - but don't tell anyone) I can't remember anything really funny that would totally want to make you watch this movie. Just trust me, it's funny. I watched the outtakes and some of the cut scenes the next day (which would be impossible for me to tell you if this was really Monday as it wouldn't have happened yet, but since it's Wednesday, it's totally possible), they were funny too. All in all I give this a big NetFlix it. Mr. H. has already added Shaun of the Dead to our at home collection, so I could see this joining it. Of course, this one doesn't have zombies, just weird old towns people killing other towns people because they are spoiling the perfectness of said town (which is why little English towns are so cute) - so that may keep this one off the list of must owns. But it's definitely a movie I could see wanting to watch again - so possibly an own it.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

3:10 to Yuma

Went to see 3:10 to Yuma with Mr. H., my sister and her husband last night. I have to say, I'm not really a western movie kinda gal. But I did enjoy this movie. The plot is your basic good trying to do good for his family (Christian Bale) bad guy trying to do bad (Russell Crowe) and they manage to come to an understanding. The end was a little too typical, but as Mr. H. said, they kinda painted themselves into a corner and it ended the only way it really could.

What I was really impressed with was every one's accents. Now, relative newcomer Dallas Roberts is from Houston (go figure) so I'm not that overly impressed with his southern/western accent. Bale continues to astound me with his ability to not sound Welsh. And Crowe was not only impressive with his accent, but this is the first movie in a while that he's been in that I thought he did a really good job in. Now I remember why I like him as an actor.

OK, so the accents are the best part of this movie. But I keep forgetting to take my notebook with me whenever I see a movie so I can write a decent review. I wasn't dissapointed other than with the ending (which I won't spoil) but it's not too much of a surprise. Overall, I give this a go to if you have the time and a definite rent.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Finding the way home

Since having moved out of the hub of Lakeview, I realize how much I miss being able to walk to so many places, and how much I miss being able to just get a cab whenever I want. Mr. H. and I are having to rely on the Jetta much more than we used to. But the other day, when we went to have dinner at a one of Mr. H's co-worker's house (in the Belmont/Craigen neighborhood), we decided to be more environmentally friendly and take the bus. But as the night was (finally) coming to an end, we called for a cab and was told several times over the course of an hour and a half that no cab had "picked up" the call. Apparently this cab company leaves it up to their drivers to respond if they wish. And I guess no one wanted to drive to the Belmont/Craigen neighborhood to pick up someone wanting to go about 4 miles. Unfortunately, it was a little too late to take the bus back (being one of those lines that doesn't run all night) and I wasn't really in the mood to walk down Diversy with a slightly tipsy Mr. H. I had visions of being stuck there all night with an asthmatic and cat allergic Mr. H. wheezing while being kinda creeped out by all the tribal masks said co-worker has hanging around his house. Fortunately, we were able to get a ride home and my fears didn't come true. Next time I'll know that if I'm going that way, I should drive and know that I probably won't want to drink much anyway. As for living in a neighborhood where you can't just hail a cab whenever you want, it takes a little more planning than I reckoned. Don't worry, I've learned a valuable lesson, and will definitely plan more appropriately next time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Big Bounce

Last night we watched The Big Bounce featuring Owen Wilson, Charlie Sheen, Morgan Freeman and Gary Sinise. The movie is an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel and a remake of a '69 based on the novel. I'd never heard of the movie before, but as I scanned through the upcoming movies on HBO, I thought I'd DVR it because I'd never seen it and it had some good names in it. Well, I was wrong. The acting in this is terrible. Owen Wilson plays pretty much his funny, goofy good bad guy character. Gary Sinise and Morgan Freeman play their roles OK, but they're not really in it much. Charlie Sheen had a bit of an out of character role, playing a sleazy, mustachioed guy. But the acting that was truly horrible was Sara Foster who played the girl that gets Owen Wilson in trouble. Maybe she was being directed to act the way she was, and I realize that her role as the hot girl didn't need much more talent that her perfect body (which we definitely got to see - she's an ex model making her movie debut here), but I guess I expected a little more from a movie with this caliber of actors. I don't even know where to start with what I didn't like about her. Pretty much everything. She seemed more like she was play acting to be a bad girl rather than actually acting the part. Pretty much everyone seemed like they were calling in their parts rather than actually acting. Of course, when Sinise and Freeman do this, it's still actually OK, but very sub par for them.

The movie's supposed to be a comedy while keeping you guessing about who is really conning who (oh, did I mention the plot is that Owen and his girl are going to rip off her lover except you're not really sure who is actually conning who - I guess I forgot since it's a typical Leonard plot). There were few laughs and I actually figured out the con well before you were supposed to (which is saying something because normally I'm pretty obtuse about that kind of stuff).

Overall, don't rent it, don't even bother to DVR it when it comes on HBO. Just skip it all together unless you have a specific reason to see it like you're trying to watch every Sinise movie ever made (in which case, my thoughts are with you on this one).

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