Sunday, February 28, 2010

20 Miles!

Linda and I had a successful 20 miler. Apart from the expected weariness and a bothersome side stitch, no big problems arose during our run. Running 20 miles is never easy, but this definitely ranks as one of the better ones.

Since the trails were closed just above JPL, Linda and I ran a lap around the Rose Bowl first, which worked out beautifully since Katie and FJ were going for a run at 8am. By the time Linda and I completed the lap, FJ and Katie had just gotten there and were ready to go. We ran together for three miles before FJ and Katie turned back.

The second half of our run was to South Pasadena. We ran down Mission to Fair Oaks in South Pasadena before turning around. Unfortunately, we miscalculated when we should turn back. It wasn't until later that I realized that we turned back too soon, which meant we were going to be about 8/10 of a mile short of 20 miles. I broke the news to Linda and we opted to tack on the remainder at the end. Linda was feeling much better than I was, so she ran ahead. I thought she was going to turn around after .4 miles, but instead she kept going until she had made up the difference. Had I known that I could have psyched myself up. In the end, though, it all worked out. We ran 20 and then some by running back to our car.

I'm hoping that the weather will cooperate the next few weekends. This marks the taper period, but it's still important that I get those long miles in. Unfortunately it is forecast to rain next weekend.

So, the dreaded 20 miler turned out to be not too bad. We ran it in 3:09.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rabbit Night

Ostensibly, I gave up eating red meat for Lent. Then I got the invitation from Rob and Theresa to come over for dinner and get a taste of Rob's braised rabbit that he bragged about when we had rabbit stew at Lucky Baldwin's. So what to do? Well, rabbit meat really isn't red, is it?
The Chef
Rob's rabbit (from a Jamie Oliver cookbook) was as delicious as he claimed. It's wonderful comfort food. Rob didn't stop there, though, he tops himself by giving us a coffee cardamom pots de creme for dessert. A pots de creme is like a flan or creme brulee without the caramelized top. It was so delicious. What's not to like about a coffee dessert? I wanted to lick the ramekin clean and maybe ask for another. Thank goodness I'm running in the morning.

This is turning into a food blog

My first attempt at making pesto. I used a hand blender, so the pesto turned out creamier and less pleasing to the eye. It still tasted fine, though. Perhaps I used one clove of garlic too much. Next time I'll use my mortar or maybe invest in a food processor. I mixed it with whole wheat penne, chopped grape tomatoes and mozzarella. Easy as pie.

This is what I ate #2

Seared Tuna Salad, originally uploaded by savemejebus.

Friday, 26 February 2010
Seared tuna salad from Starry Kitchen.

This is what I ate

Egg Salad Sandwich, originally uploaded by savemejebus.

Thursday, 25 February 2010
An extremely satisfying egg salad sandwich from JJ Sandwich Shop.

Friday, February 26, 2010

"I love what you do for me, Toyota!"

I've been waiting to hear when Toyota will announce another recall. If they do, I'm pretty sure it will be over hubcaps.

My 2003 Corolla recently lost one of its hubcaps. I don't know when or where it happened, but I noticed it was missing last weekend. I took a walk around my neighborhood to see if it was just lying around where I've parked, but it was nowhere to be seen. Papa Smurf now looks like he's missing a tooth-or is it a toenail?

Since then I seem to notice that a lot of Corollas are missing hubcaps. Just a quick walk through my neighborhood revealed other Corollas missing one, two, three, even all four hubcaps. Is someone taking Corolla hubcaps? I doubt it. Those things are cheap and flimsy, and mine are terribly scuffed. I looked up on the interweb how much it would cost to replace my hubcap, and at $45 it's not worth it. Sorry, Papa Smurf, I think you'll be fine without one of your hubcaps.

My quick internet research also revealed that I'm not the only one who has noticed that a lot of Corollas are missing their hubcaps. Is it an epidemic? If mine flew out while I was zooming down the freeway, I hope I didn't kill anyone with it.

On the topic of Papa Smurf, I can't believe he will be turning 7 in April. I still think of him as a new car, but the missing hubcap and the odometer tells me he's not. He definitely runs like a new car, and I hope he continues to do so for years to come. Now that he's completely paid for, I'm planning to drive him until he dies. If I can help it, he'll die doing what he loves best--driving through miles of open road. Hopefully there will be a convenient transportation option nearby when it does happen and I hope it doesn't happen for many more years.

I really do like my car for its simplicity. It's reliable, it gets good gas mileage, it has A/C, it has a CD player, what else do I need? And for being such a "disposable" car, I like that I don't worry much about every nick and scratch. I ought to treat Papa Smurf better--heaven knows he needs a good cleaning inside and out--but the thing I like about him is that I can disregard how badly I treat him. I never worry much over him. Living in Koreatown and having to park out in the street, it's a convenience I'm happy to have.

I'll admit that as much as I appreciate having a Corolla now, there have been times when I wished I had a "nicer" car. Soon after getting Papa Smurf, a friend joked that I was going the wrong way with my cars. By going from a Camry back down to a Corolla, I was taking a step backward. I shrugged it off, but for a while it made me self-conscious. My friends were all driving progressively better cars and here I was tooling around in a Corolla--the same model I had in high school and college. The self-consciousness soon passed, though, because in all honesty, I really don't care much about cars. I don't need the fancy features and too many buttons just confuse me. I like a car I can mistreat. I love to drive, and as long as a car can get me where I want to go in as inexpensive a manner as possible, I'm all for it. I'd even go as far to say that when the time comes to replace Papa Smurf, I wouldn't hesitate to do so with another Corolla--recalls be damned.

Papa Smurf has nothing to worry about with me. I no longer have a wandering eye, but I do from time to time check out younger versions of himself, but it does not mean I'm eager to replace him. We still have that long-postponed cross country drive to do. Only till death (his, hopefully) do we part.

Papa Smurf in the rain
A younger Papa Smurf in the rain.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Last Station

Since my last post was already incredibly long, I didn't include the final thing I did this weekend: watch The Last Station. Here's my brief take on it.

The Last Station is a pedestrian, mostly unremarkable production that is distinguished by terrific performances, especially Helen Mirren as Countess Sofia, a conniving woman prone to hysterics who nonetheless wins over the audience's sympathies. Mirren gives the film real heat. The scenes between her Sofia and Christopher Plummer's Leo Tolstoy really make the movie. Here is a couple, married for a long time, both passionate, who--when they are not driving each other to madness--are madly in love. The film is really a story about love that has persisted. Most stories are about newfound love or the discovery of love, but The Last Station focuses on love as a bond through the years. In Mirren and Plummer's portrayals, we see an old couple who have seen way too much and know all there is to know about love. There are no effusive words about love exchanged between the Countess and Tolstoy, but when the two of them literally crow at each other in the film's best scene, there is no denying the film's appeal.

The love story completely trumps the film's other intrigue, the battle between Sofia and Vladimir Chertkov, played by a weasely Paul Giamatti, over Tolstoy's copyrights. Sofia wants to keep it in the family, while Chertkov wants it ostensibly for the benefit of the people or, more likely, himself. This story is never as interesting as the domestic interplay between Tolstoy and Sofia. The parallel love story between James McAvoy's character and a fellow Tolstoyan also pale in comparison. If not for Mirren and Plummer, The Last Station would simply be an ordinary, run-of-the-mill Masterpiece Theatre production with a big name cast.

Grade: B-

This Weekend

The following took place between Friday night, February 19, and Sunday night, February 21:

Ack! Bar?
As expected, I worked late on Friday night to prepare for the weekend's Gospel Brunch. I think after two years of handling the event's guest list and seating I'm ready to become an event planner. I actually enjoy it; it's almost like a puzzle. You take a seating chart, a list of names, and knowing the guests' various needs and egos, you seat them appropriately. This year's guest list was smaller, which in seating helped a lot. Doing the seating plan didn't take too long. What took a long time was that I handwrote everyone's names on envelopes and placed the tickets inside. This part was enjoyable too, if only I had more time to do it. I was getting a kick out of writing everyone's names as neatly as possible, but when I looked at the clock and hundreds of names to get to, I had to rush a little more. Still, those first few envelopes were exquisite.

When I finally headed home, it was raining. Kevin had invited me to hang out at Akbar and I had agreed, but coming home after a long day at work, all I wanted to do was make dinner and turn in, especially since I was going to run 18 miles in the morning (more on that later). But I reminded myself that it's better to be out with friends rather than at home, so I figured I'd spend a couple of hours at Akbar and get the last train back home. I wound up staying later than planned, but Paul gave me a ride home and I was in bed by 2 am for my 6:45 am wake-up time.

13 is the New 18
Prior to leaving for Akbar on Friday night, I shot my running buddy, Linda, an e-mail. It was raining and I wrote to tell her that if there was rain in the morning, I was going to stay in bed. I prayed there would be rain.

When I woke up, it was sunny and beautiful. I debated cancelling anyway since I was tired not just from the lack of sleep the night before but for the last week. But I forced myself to run. I scavenged some pretzels and cookies as breakfast since I was really hungry and would need the energy for the run. When I got to the Rose Bowl I told Linda how badly I wanted it to rain. Apparently she did too. We were both not feeling up for the run, but guilt and a sense of obligation to each other forced us out there. We compromised. We won't run 18 miles but will try for 13 instead. One thing I've been told as a runner is to listen to your body. My body was telling me that it was tired. Linda and I ran our 13 miles but it wasn't a great run. We might have both managed to do more, but I think we would have felt awful doing so.

Birthday #1
One benefit of running a shorter distance was that it afforded me time to go home and shower for Astrid's birthday lunch. Had we done 18 miles I would have been forced to just change clothes in my car and hope no one smells me--or I could have asked Astrid if I could shower at her place before heading to the restaurant.

The lunch was at Cafe Massilia, a French restaurant in Monrovia. It was a cute place and the Yelp reviews were good. The lunch and breakfast menu consisted of things that any regular schmo like me would stereotypically expect of the French--crepes, quiche, and...hamburgers?

I saw that they had escargot and the last time I had it was my last night in Paris, and since the Yelp reviews complimented the dish, I figured I'd order it. It turned out to be overwhelmingly garlicky, which luckily I like. The snails were served out of their shells and baked in garlic and butter. Really it was like eating a tapenade of garlic. I ate the snails and garlic oil on bread and it was a satisfying meal. I was hoping the snails would still be in their shell since part of the fun of eating them is fishing out the little buggers.

I also had a tomato and roasted bell pepper soup, which was fine. Everyone enjoyed their food, I think, if only for the company.

Birthday #2
I was thoroughly in need of a nap by the end of lunch. I headed straight home and took one and then woke up to finish some last minute things for work. Then I got dressed again and picked up Kevin to go to Stuart's karaoke birthday extravaganza in Eagle Rock. We also swung by the Coffee Table for dinner since I was famished.

The evening was a lot of fun even if I didn't get up on stage to sing and even if it took hours for Stuart to take his turn. When he did, though, he and his friend Lauren blew the roof off the bowling alley with a fun rendition of "Love Shack." It was fun just singing along at the back of the bar. It was also great to see the GLU guys. I left earlier than everyone else since I had to work in the morning, but I definitely got my fill of fun for the day.

Hallelujah, it's over!
The 12th annual Gospel Brunch was a success, as far as I can tell. Things seemed to go off without much of a hitch. We'll see if the money starts pouring in.

Set-up and preparation went smoother this year because there was no early show. We had plenty of time to set up and get the tables ready. Even at check-in there were little to no snafus. It was a success!

More pictures from the busy weekend can be found on my Flickr page.

Now another work week looms. Next weekend should be lighter than this past weekend, with the biggest thing being an 18 or 20 miler. I'll probably also make a trip to West Covina to see the family.

Yes, I survived the weekend!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Raul's Finite Playlist: February 2010

One outcome of breaking up is that I've been listening to music a lot more the last few days than I have in a long time. It seems like I'd rather be listening to music during this time than anything else, and as a result I may have discovered a correlation between my music-listening habit and my level of happiness. A couple of years ago I was devouring music, practically getting a new album every week. At the time I just thought I was a big music fan, but in fact I was probably also just lonely and music was a great escape. When I was happy I didn't need an escape, so I listened to less music. It's probably not a strong correlation. Being busy also played a part to my reduced music-listening, not to mention the fact that it's an exhausting endeavor. There's so much new music out there that it would be a full-time job to keep up.

To put this renewed interest in music to good use, I thought I'd borrow a feature from Franklin Avenue and put together a monthly music playlist. First off is a list I actually assembled a few weeks ago but only got around to burning into a CD recently for a road trip to Las Vegas. It's mostly new-ish songs mixed with a few older favorites. Somehow, either by coincidence or force, this playlist does the trick at a time like this.

February 2010
01. "Black and Milds" - Cataldo
02. "Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits" - The Magnetic Fields
03. "Lust for Life" - Girls
04. "Sister" - Vetiver
05. "Blood" - The Middle East
06. "Hi-Fi Goon" - Throw Me the Statue
07. "Cousins" - Vampire Weekend
08. "I Can't Talk About It" - El Perro Del Mar
09. "Daniel" - Bat for Lashes
10. "Nobody Could Change Your Mind" - Generationals
11. "Walking on a Dream" - Empire of the Sun
12. "Blood Bank" - Bon Iver
13. "All is Love" - Karen O and the Kids
14. "To Kingdom Come" - Passion Pit
15. "When We Swam" - Thao with the Get Down Stay Down
16. "Idiot Heart" - Sunset Rubdown
17. "Fables" - The Dodos
18. "Kick Drum Heart" - Avett Brothers
19. "Put Me In Your Play" - Ferraby Lionheart
20. "Paper Planes" - M.I.A.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This is why I'm Fat Tuesday

Fennel Seed-Crusted Seared Ahi Tuna

Cumin-Spiced Pork Chop

Jane and I took advantage of our $50 Groupon for Taste on Melrose and celebrated Fat Tuesday by stuffing ourselves. I had the pork chop and Jane had the ahi tuna. Both were quite good, as was the chocolate brioche bread pudding. We have another Groupon for Taste, but we may wait until after Lent to use it. This was an excellent Fat Tuesday dinner.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

President's Day

The long weekend is over, and I survived it. It wasn't too bad, I must say. Now if only I can get through this busy week of work.

Yesterday, Presidents' Day, I spent in Pasadena. I hopped on the Gold Line and joined Jane in her lunchtime bike workout around the Rose Bowl. It was her first bike workout in a while, so she wasn't 100%, but we managed a couple of laps (6 miles) before calling it quits. I did another 3/4 of a lap after we parted so that I could build up some momentum to climb the hill leading out of the Rose Bowl. I then grabbed lunch at Chipotle and hung out at Peet's where I finally finished "The Road." It was a very moving novel and exceedingly bleak. I started Dave Eggers's "What is the What," but only got through the first chapter before I had to head out. It seems like it will be another harrowing but good read. I really ought to read something lighter.

I swung by Run With Us and picked up a couple pairs of running socks, a shirt, and a handful of Gu. My running gear has been getting worn out, holes everywhere, so this was a long overdue trip. Afterwards, I biked back to the Rose Bowl to meet up with Katie, Rob, Theresa, and Andy for a fun five miler at sunset. I thought I would have some time to lay out in the sun before the run but all I could manage was about five minutes before I had to get my running clothes on.

By the time we started running my legs were pretty tired from biking, but I figured I can survive five or six miles. It turned out to be a very good and rather easy run. In fact I was feeling so good towards the end that I just sped up and ran a little bit ahead of everyone. I love that feeling when running doesn't feel like such an effort, when your legs seem to move on their own accord and the rest of you is just along for the ride. At the end I wasn't even breathing heavily. The sun was setting and it made for dreamy lighting around the arroyo before it got too dark to see. Katie, Rob, Theresa and I grabbed dinner at Lucky Baldwin's where three of us had the rabbit stew. It tasted bland at first, but a little dash of salt and I was devouring the whole thing, sponging up every last bit with the bread and fries that came with it. Not surprisingly, when I finally got home I was exhausted. I had plans to cook last night but I just changed my clothes, checked my e-mail and plopped down in bed and fell right to sleep. Pasadena is a great place to ride a bike. Lots of quaint, pretty streets and not too traffic-heavy. I must have ridden 11 or 12 miles altogether and ran 5 miles.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

16 Miles with a very special appearance by Shia Labeouf

Perhaps I should have checked the calendar. I thought that my planned 20 miler in two weeks will perfectly land three weeks before the race, but in talking with Linda today, I realized I was mistaken. Next weekend marks three weeks left until the marathon. The 20 miler should be next week. Yikes!

Even if I do 18 miles next week I think I'll be okay. I've done enough races and I'm sufficiently trained to complete a marathon. I doubt I'll be setting any personal bests, though, but I think I should still manage to finish. Linda and I decided to shoot for 18 miles next Saturday, and if we're feeling fine, we may add on a couple more miles. However, if I'm feeling anything like I was today, that might prove to be tough.

Today's run was a down-up-down experience. Katie and Rob ran with us for the early miles. Katie left after 7.5 miles and Rob joined us for a couple more miles before turning around. For most of the first seven miles I felt very sluggish. I had no particular problems but I just felt slow and off. We were going to run a little past JPL but we were astounded to discover that the recent rains have washed out a road leading up the Angeles National Forest trail right by JPL. I can barely remember what the bridge looked like. I imagine the small, quiet stream that normally runs under it must have been a raging torrent that day. There were tree trunks on the road and lots of debris. The road was passable but there were signs posted prohibiting entry and there was a Forest Ranger truck parked down the road, so we just turned around and headed south.

We took a little break back by our cars to drop off Katie. Rob offered us some gum drops and I think it worked wonders. I ran a great stretch for the next four miles, barely taking any walk breaks. I may have paid for it in the backstretch, though, because I lost fuel coming back. I wasn't breathing well and had to slow my pace a bit. The warmer temperature and the sun beating down on me played a part. However, that four miles towards South Pasadena was a terrific stretch. I was in a groove and felt like I could keep running for a long time. Runner's high! Too bad it didn't last.

Needless to day I did make it back. The worst stretch was the mile along the arroyo from the horse stalls in South Pasadena to the La Loma Road bridge. I felt a little better after catching my breath but I ran a little slower and focused on my breathing. There were still some hazards along the way. A black dog ran right into me and almost tripped me up. Then there was a rather large Viking on the trail.

At the end, though, I was given a little reward. As I shuffled to the finish line a scruffy, shirtless guy was walking towards me. He wasn't overly buff but had some nice definition. He looked natural, which I liked. It took me a while to realize that it was Shia Laboeuf. He smiled and slurred what sounded like a hello. I'm not a big fan, but I can't deny that he's a good-looking kid. Really, it was a nice way to end a tough run, but next time I'd prefer Paul Rudd.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Long Day Becomes a Long Weekend

It has been a long day. I came into work earlier than I normally do, but early for me is just the usual time for most workers, so I'm not even going to mention the actual time. I had some work I needed to get done, so my boss asked me to come in. However, I thought that by coming early I'd get to also go home early. It didn't quite work that way. We were rushing to get the program book for our upcoming event ready and sent to the printers and due to some last minute additions, we didn't finalize until almost 7 tonight. So much for going home early.

When I got home I only had time to change and then head on out to Jane's birthday shindig in Hollywood. I walked to the Metro but wound up missing the train by a minute, which was stupid of me since there was already a Rapid bus waiting at the corner that I could have hopped on earlier. So I waited another 12 minutes for the next train. When I got to the Wilshire/Vermont station, the North Hollywood train I was going to transfer on was just departing. So I had to wait twenty minutes. With plenty of time to kill I decided to do the "legal" thing and tap my TAP card at the reader. I rode the longest escalator up to the top by just standing. I had 20 minutes to kill. When I got to where the TAP readers should be I discovered they were not there. Metro had installed new turnstiles, so now the readers are even farther away--up another flight of stairs towards the entrance. What a hassle. Since they were installing new turnstiles and readers anyway I don't know why they didn't install more convenient readers right by the staircases between the two platforms. It's just silly. Ultimately I made it to the Well before 9, but the trip an hour because of the bad transfers.

The celebration was a lot of fun even if the food at the Well was very bland. I had vegetable potstickers, which were not enough to satisfy my hunger, so I ordered hummus with pita bread. The hummus lacked flavor. I still ate most of it, though, because I'm that kind of guy. The prices are low, so that's something good. We wound up staying much longer than anticipated, but I had a great time. There were also a lot of cute guys for us to check out, including Jane's cute French triathlon coach. Afterwards we walked a few feet away to the Waffle for some late night breakfast.

Now it's 4 am and I'm still up. I thought for sure that I'd be tired by midnight but I'm actually wired. I'm sure, though, f I close my eyes now I'll fall asleep with no problem In fact, my eyes are already getting heavy.

Tonight was the start of a long weekend for me. Tomorrow I'll be home for my Dad's birthday. My sister says he wants steak, so that's where we'll take him. I also have a mountain of laundry that needs washing. Sunday is a bit vague for now. I hope to run 16 miles on Sunday morning and maybe take up an offer to check out the Scottish Festival at the Queen Mary. Sunday evening will be with friends. Monday will be a day off but my only preliminary plan is to go with Nate, Christine and Jane to the Rose Bowl and ride around for a bit. If not, I also have a lot cleaning that needs to be done. This weekend will be an effort of of keeping busy to distract the mind from everything...a note about this post: I actually started falling asleep while writing it and when I read the last paragraph there were all kinds of gibberish in it. One moment I was writing about riding with Nate, et al. and the next I was writing something about going for the gold. Good thing I had enough coherence to save the post and finish it this morning. And now it is done.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Trivial Victory

Pochi Pochi won again at trivia! We've been on a roll these last few months. I can't remember the last time we finished lower than second. Tonight we won in a dominant fashion by scoring 117 points, outdistancing the second place team by 20 points. As usual, the sports questions were the ones that gave us trouble. There were a few history questions tonight and even a flower question, which we miraculously got right. A friend of Clint's joined us tonight, but I think we may have overwhelmed her with our testosterone.

Since I didn't run last night I promised myself I would run tonight. Rather than order my usual Guinness at Casey's, I went with a lighter beer, a Hoegaarden. A pint of Guinness renders me almost too lethargic for any activity. It just sits in my stomach and I feel like I've eaten a bowl of rice. So I lived up to my promise and ran six miles, my normal route. It wasn't a great run. I felt a little bloated and, as I have been all week, I was distracted and couldn't focus on my breathing and pace. Still it's an accomplishment just to get out there and run. I'm planning to run again tomorrow night, a slightly longer run perhaps. Maybe I'll pick an eating establishment as my destination and reward.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"A stranger's just a friend you haven't met"

That was an unexpectedly pleasant evening.

Enjoying the wine tasting at Vinoteque with Marisela and Jane was a given. What I didn't expect was that we would wind up hours later at a stranger's apartment drinking wine and eating pizza. Mari, Jane and I wound up sharing a table at Vinoteque with three other people, two women and a guy, all very friendly and funny. We got along rather well, conversation was flowing and laughter all around, and perhaps the wine had something to do with it, but at the end of the wine tasting they invited us to the guy's apartment to keep the party going. The wine tasting offered a few appetizing bites but we were all still hungry, so we agreed to pick up a pizza and hang out. Never mind that we all had work the next day.

Had I been by myself I would have surely turned down the invitation. It all would have seemed strange to me. But I was there with Jane and Mari, and the other folks seemed nice enough and we were hungry, so we agreed to come. The girls were Filipino too, for what it's worth. Besides, Mari and I both have been dealing with things and needed to spend a few hours not wallowing in our problems, so the last place we wanted to be was at home alone feeling bad for ourselves. The invitation was really an offer for us to relax and enjoy ourselves for the evening. And we did. Our hosts couldn't have been more fun. We watched YouTube videos and talked about our cheapskate immigrant parents. We had some laughs at the expense of the lone heterosexual male for totally missing my announcement that I wasn't on the same team as he. He kept asking if I was dating Jane or Mari, as if the grossed out looks on our faces wasn't enough of a clue.

Jane invited the group to her birthday in Hollywood this Friday. They all seemed up for it, but we'll see if they really show up. If they were bluffing about their invitation to us tonight, we totally called them out on it. Now it's their turn to call us out. It was just a fun evening. Heck, it would have been fun even had we not met these folks. An evening with friends is no small good thing. It's a great big one. Thank goodness for wonderful friends.

I guess the lesson is still to not go home with strangers. But if you're with friends and the strangers seem nice enough and fun and are offering you food and drink, then it's OK.

Monday, February 08, 2010

9.8 Miles

After pigging out all weekend in Las Vegas, I desperately needed to burn off some calories. Serendipity 3 was great, but with chicken and bacon waffles and a frozen hot chocolate in my system, I probably consumed enough fat and sugar to last me a week. I was thinking I'd be good for a run when I got back last night, but all I wanted to do when I did get home was to put on my pj's and watch a movie.

So tonight I went for a long run. 9.8 miles. I ran from my place and ran west on Wilshire, headed north on Fairfax, turned east at Melrose and south on La Brea before heading back to my place by running east on Fourth Street. Having not run since Thursday, I was well-rested and had a pretty good run. I felt good for most of the run save for a little tightness in my left hamstring and slightly rolling my ankle running down Fourth Street. I blame that on the darkness and the terrible condition of the street at Hauser. Luckily no harm done.

With about six weeks left until the marathon I really need to be stricter about my training. This week I'll hopefully run a couple more times culminating in a 16 miler this weekend.

52 Films in 52 Weeks: You Can't Take It With You

Sadly, I've already fallen behind on my mission of watching 52 Oscar movies in 52 weeks. I'd say I'm about three weeks behind. I actually watched "You Can't Take It With You" a couple of weeks ago but never got around to posting my thoughts on it. In short, it's an entertaining movie that hasn't aged well--it was enjoyable and had very charming performances from the entire cast. What I enjoyed most was seeing Lionel Barrymore in essentially the polar opposite role he took on in "It's a Wonderful Life." Here he doesn't care about money, and in the later film that's all he cares about--and both films had the same message: no man is failure who has friends.

"You Can't Take It With You" is too slight and trifling, but worst of all, it drags and just didn't seem to want to end. It could have taken a more sprightly pace. However, if anyone's interested in remaking a best picture winner today, they should start with this one. I think it can be updated easily and effectively.

It makes me wonder how this year's Oscar nominees will fare years from now. Speaking of Oscars, I've somehow managed the feat of having seen all ten best picture nominees, practically all of them in theaters by paying real dollars! "The Blind Side" was the only one I saw via a borrowed screener. I've also seen a couple of others via screener. "The Lovely Bones" was a sad failure. I haven't read the book, but it seemed that Peter Jackson was too faithful and reverential. The "in-between" sequences were just too much, and by film's end I was rolling my eyes. Very disappointing.

Tonight I watched "A Single Man." I quite liked it, if a bit over-stylized. Still, its a very evocative and effective story of a gay man mourning the death of his longtime partner. This is an impressive debut from Tom Ford, focused and assured. The big surprise is how well he plumbs the depths of sadness and sorrow beyond just a shallow depiction. I guess it was a bit unfair of me to expect that Tom Ford would be unable to fashion something as substantial as this. It's a stylish and stylized film, yes, but it also has emotional heft beneath the film's gorgeous visuals. The film does wallow in its poetic depiction of sorrow a little too much. The film wears grief like a plush robe and never takes it off even for a moment. It could have used a change in emotional wardrobe now and then.

The performances are terrific. Colin Firth embodies grief and heartbreak beautifully and it's always a delight to see Julianne Moore. Nicholas Hoult is weirdly beguiling as an aggressively seductive student. He doesn't seem to be seducing Firth's character as much as he is pouncing on him, but Hoult and Firth have some nice moments near the end upon which the film's climax crucially depends. Matthew Goode was the one that impressed me the most. In the role of the dead lover, Goode has a character that in most films like it would essentially be hollow and beatific, but in his few scenes, Goode imbues the character with beauty and warmth. The film's best scenes involve Goode. First as he and Firth lounge at home reading, and second, the flashback to their meeting--the film's best moment. In these scenes we come to fathom the depth of George's grief. He has not only lost a lover but also the source of life's bliss and, to quote W.H. Auden, nothing now can ever come to any good. "A Single Man" really struck a chord, not just as a gay man. I think its story of loss and grief is universal and one that anyone can empathize.

I'm still doing a terrible job of updating this blog. Suffice it to say, I've actually run more than my posts the last few weeks suggest, but it's also true that I really ought to be running more. Due to a turn of events, though, I probably will have more time for both running and blogging now, and as I've been doing a lot of thinking lately it will probably be good for me to do both. We shall wait and see how well I do.