Sunday, November 30, 2008

pete mcardle cross country classic 15k at van cortlandt park: race photos and results

just got back from the pete mccardle 15k in van cortlandt park. rob and i braved the elements (mainly some nasty, unrelenting rain - and lots of puddles and mud) and ran it this morning. i managed to finish those 3 loops in 1:11:46, a 7:42 pace.

here is my race report. here are the official race results.

here are some of the soggy photos that i took:

pre-race, registration.

pre-race, view of course heading south.

pre-race, baggage check (in the open).


the start, on other side of parade grounds.

the finish line.

tom, collecting his age group award.

a couple of very wet finishers :D

i've loved you so long ("il y a longtemps que je t'aime") movie review

kristian scott thomas makes an incredible transformation from the supporting character that she played in "tell know one" to become juliette of "i've loved you so long." it's an outstanding, haunted, cigarette smoke-filled, and decidedly french performance from an actress clearly at home on the screen in two languages and their respective idioms. even the facile hollywood ending doesn't diminish her otherwise powerful performance, nor that of elsa zylberstein, as juliette's sister, léa.

be forewarned, this review contains plenty of spoilers. the film opens with juilette waiting for her sister to pick her up. juilette is smoking a cigarette, alone at a tiny white plastic table in some anonymous airport lounge, as we see her sister rushing to meet her (obviously a bit late). but after 15 years in prison, what are a few minutes here or there? their initial encounter - including the awkward embrace and lea's first stab at drawing her sister into tentative conversation - sets the stage. even juilette's tightly knotted overcoat helps paint the image of a woman clearly not in the mood to open up - either now, or later.

as to be expected, the film progresses toward that sister-sister rapprochement, and juilet's eventual opening back up to life itself. along the way, the film provides some wonderful acting and imagery. lea's 8 year old adopted daughter does her part to draw out her aunt. some of the film's most interesting moment's are those innocent 8-year old questions posed to mother, father and aunt as the story progressed. and it's during niece's impromptu piano lessons with her aunt that she learns even more about her own mom - including that her mom plays the piano. the inevitable sisters' keyboard duet is priceless - especially with the p’tit lys' dance to punctuate their relived memories!

all is not sweet, however. the late night drunken interrogation of juilette by boorish member of the dinner party is fraught with tension. tension broken by the only answer that could possibly fit - "i was in prison for 15 years for murder" - to finally silence his obnoxious rant of questions. everyone (except for her family, and one knowing soul) thought this was merely a well timed joke to silence her tormentor! and, then there were her efforts to make good in society - the job hunt and her transition back to work as a medical records technician in a hospital. the director's interview mid-way thru the probabtionary period - where he haltingly tried to tell her that some of her co-workers are uncomfortable around her....

but the real shocker - and i'll admit that it caught me totally off guard - was the suicide of her parole officer! for some strange reason this entire scene (which was built up to by an awkward series of parolee check-ins that started at his office then eventually moved out to cafes - and played up another aspect of her opening up to someone, albeit grudgingly at first) reminded me of "ordinary people." specifically, the scene where timothy hutton learned his friend (from the psychiatric ward) had committed suicide and it triggers his cathartic break, and a middle of the night rush to his therapist, judd hirsch.

while juilette's shocked reaction to the news was not as dramatic as conrad's, it nevertheless opened the door to the story's resolution. a slip of paper - the ancient medical report and a 6 year old's tentative poetry scrawled on it - set in motion lea's detective work. she learns (realizes) that the murder was no murder - in the cold-blooded sense. instead, it was a mercy killing. the sisters come to grips with the truth in a powerful, shout - then tear-filled scene. but one can't help but feel disappointed at this news.

the first question that struck me - are we to believe that juilette's grief was so encompassing - and her family, attorney and medical professionals so clueless - that the truth of her son's dire medical condition wouldn't have surfaced earlier? much earlier, as in mitigating circumstance introduced at her trial for murder? this is the kind of secret that makes me wonder - huh? it's even more disappointing when contrasted with lea's literary tirade against one of her students in a round-table discussion of dostoevsky's crime and punishment! how can raskolnikov and his redemption thru suffering find it's way onto the screen, and then we're given this outcome?! talk about bait and switch!

but, even with an ending that quaintly tied up the all the loose ends, and gave a moral justification to her otherwise barbaric action, the film is definitely worth seeing! don't miss it.

giants plaxico buress accidently shoots himself in his right thigh!

just hours after the giants announced plaxico buress would miss the washington redskins game because of an aggravated hamstring injury, buress shot himself in the right thigh while at the latin quarter bar in new york city! the details are still sketchy, but news reports had him at the bar with his wife and two other giant players - and report the gun shot was not serious (the bullet passed through his thigh without hitting the bone or major arteries).

this incident just adds to his season of self-centered and/or erratic behavior. it began with his threat to sit out mini-camp and miss training camp entirely because of he was upset with his contract (believing he was underpaid). he did show up at the pre-season camps. then he was suspended for 2 weeks (missing a game in the process) and fined a week's salary for ignoring team rules. then, in another incident, the nfl fined him $45,000 because of his behavior at the game against san francisco! phew!

police made two trips to his home in new jersey and were unable to speak with him about the shooting. the first time his wife, it was reported, refused them entry. the second time, no one appeared to be home. depending on the circumstances, buress could face criminal charges for possession of the weapon. he may also face various disciplinary and conduct related charges from both the giants and nfl over the shooting.

isn't it about time the giants decided it was time to trade him, release him, or find some way to make plexico buress an ex-giant?!

UPDATE: plaxico burress surrendered at the 17th precinct in midtown manhattan this morning to face a charge of criminal possession of a handgun.

FINAL UPDATE: on friday, april 3, 2009, the giants officially released placixo burress!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

bedford turkey trot: race photos and results

got to the bedford turkey trot for volunteer duty just after 7 a.m. - it still wasn't fully light outside yet! will post a volunteer report (manned pre-registration table, and ran the course backwards once the race was officially underway) later today, or tomorrow.

here are the official results.
here is my volunteer report.
here are some of the photos i took:

packet pick-up at the gazebo.

sun finally starts to peek out of the darkness.

runners getting on bus to the start.

last bus to the start pulls out of the lot.

packing up the registration tables.

the finish.

out on the course.


awards ceremony over, time for the kids races.

some familiar faces :D

dark star orchestra at nokia, w/special guest donna jean godchaux: photos and setlist

hot off the heels of the awesome show in peekskill two weeks ago, i just want to post a few photos and the setlist from last night's dark star orchestra show at the nokia theatre in times square. will continue this post later this morning (when i get back from the bedford turkey trot). great show - highlight was donna jean godchaux, their special guest! and great versions of "the music never stopped" and "peggy-o" - just to mention a couple.

more later...

july 7, 1978
red rocks amphitheater - morrison, co.

firt set:
jack straw
me snd my uncle
big river
friend of the devil
tennessee jed
the music never stopped

second set:
cold rain and snow
beat it on down the line
Scarlet Begonias
fire on the mountain
dancin' in the streets
not fade away
nobody's jam
not fade away
black peter
around and around

u.s. blues
johnny b. goode

how sweet it is

Friday, November 28, 2008

gateway gobbler: race report

this was my third gateway gobbler, and like a couple other races, it usually takes some time to forget how tough the course is. the cold weather also makes it tough to get out of the house. but yesterday the temperature wasn't too bad - hovering just above freezing (and practically balmy compared to the conditions for the nyack hospital 10k last saturday). in protest to the weather gods, i decided to wear shorts. since it was an 8 0'clock start, i got on the road by 7:15 (and the drive took only 20-25 minutes).

from exit 31 off the merritt, i previewed the last two miles of the course - straight over to the school. the long climb in the last mile (and the sharp incline up the driveway) to the finish brought back the memories of how hilly this 6 miler really was. in my previous 2 efforts here i was unable to break 42 minutes. in one of those races, i finished 5th overall, and in the other, 7th overall. while i'd target 42 minutes - i knew that a sub-7 minute pace would be a stretch.

inside the gym i saw john right off. emmy, coming off the jfk 50 miler last weekend, planned to jog/volunteer - but surprised us by signing up and running it! another surprise was seeing don just after i picked up my stuff. haven't seen don in over a month (since the great train race, actually). all in all it looked like an intimate field of just over 80 runners! tiny in comparison to the 1000's lining up over in southport for the pequot 5 miler!

the first mile was was the only one that could be called "easy" since it was primarily downhill. but that was a decidedly mixed blessing since we'd have to run back up that mile to the finish. that mile gets us over to taconic avenue - and after a short dip, the serious climb up the major hill. then a beautiful stretch across the causeway in mile 3 before we head back to the finish via north avenue. here are my splits:

7:17 14:08
6:56 21:04
7:01 28:05
7:14 35:19
7:19 42:48

7:08 pace. i finished 15th overall.

as we went thru the chute we were handed numbered finisher cards - to fill out and hand in back at the gym. our bib tags were posted on the finishers board.

i grabbed my camera from the car and got a shot of emmy finishing and was about to get don finishing when my batteries died - argh! i ran back to the car for fresh ones and got back in time to get some shots of john finishing up. then we headed inside to get warm.

i had to head home and get the turkey in the oven, so couldn't stay for the grab bag. i left my bib with emmy and john - just in case :D

here are my race photos.

next up: volunteering at the bedford turkey trot saturday (w/emmy and john) and running the pete mccardle 15k in van cortlandt park sunday.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

gateway gobbler: race photos and results

ran the gateway gobbler 6 miler this morning. in the few years since i last ran this hilly course, had completely forgot how challenging it was! one year (2004?), i was 5th overall and couldn't break 42 minutes! so today's 42:48, 15th overall, wasn't too shabby.

emmy, john, and don were there too. afterwards, as with prior thanksgivings, i couldn't stick around for the awards and grab-bag/raffle because i needed to get home and put the turkey in the oven.

here is my race report and here are the official results.

happy thanksgiving!

pre-race: me and john, in the gym.

pre-race: john, emmy, and don.

emmy's done!

john, finishing.

happy thanksgiving!


thanksgiving day is one of my favorite holiday - especially since it's always been associated with such great meals! thanksgiving dinner has always been a big production at our home. it kicks off with the decidedly un-american lasagna, before we settle in for the traditional roast turkey spread :D

as in years past, i'll start this morning with a road race. today will be a quick trip over to greenwich for the gateway gobbler 6 miler. then i'll rush back home to get the turkey in the oven. in years past i've also done 5 milers in purchase and southport, but this race is the closest now that the purchase 5 miler is gone. then my mom and katie will construct the lasagna, and dinner will be on the table mid-afternoon. after dinner my brother and i will watch a little football on t.v. - the dallas game in particular.

today wine of choice is zinfandel, the distinctly american varietal. and a variety of other libations to round out the adult beverages.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

bob dylan, "chronicles: volume one" book review

if i had a blog in 2004, would certainly have reviewed bob dylan's "chronicles: volume one," years ago! i read it when it was a hardcover, still gracing the bestseller list. i just finished the paperback edition, which i picked up for a buck at the library book fair in september. it was a timely find since i had just heard dylan at propect park, brooklyn, a few weeks earlier!

if anything, the book was even more fascinating the second time around. dylan combined two versions of himself in chronicles: volume one - the young musician making his way in a cold (literal and figurative) new york city in the early 1960's and, then, the middle-aged, bottomed out, performer putting the pieces of his career back together - cutting the album "oh mercy" in the heat and humidity of 1989 louisiana. the contrasting images work well in telling his story - especially with dylan's stripped down, brutally honest descriptions.

my favorite part of the book was the vivid new york city sights and sounds he paints to start off his autobiography. he looks back at himself 40+ years earlier, and the images pour out as if he walked those same streets the day before. i found his recollections of the trips out to new jersey to visit woody guthrie in the hospital (and the rambling trip deep into brooklyn in search of some unrecorded guthrie song's, and meeting his young son, arlo) especially moving. but even his descriptions of the beat bars and coffee shops that he honed his trade were vivid portraits of yesterdays greenwich village scene.

it's a bumpy jump 25 years into his future, mid-way thru his concert tour with tom petty (and a snippet of his brief tour with the grateful dead) to learn how he re-figured his guitar technique, changed his attitude toward his long catalog of songs, and was reborn - so to speak - as a touring musician. ironically, once he has that epiphany, his hand gets torn up and he can't play, much less tour - which led him to start writing songs again! it's those very songs (which got a nod of approval from no less than bono) that he records in the "oh mercy" sessions!

then, just as he jumped from the 60's to the 80's, he returns to his pre-1960's (pre-nyc) life and talks about his family and childhood. this section, too, was filled with incredible nuggets of dylan history - especially his first encounter with woody guthrie records and the intense impact guthrie's music had on the young dylan. he described guthrie's impact on him in these words:

"one thing for sure, woody guthrie had never seen nor heard of me, but it felt like he was saying, 'i'll be going away, but i'm leaving this job in your hands. i know i can count on you.'"

for any dylan fan, this book is must reading. but, even more significantly, for any fan of music history, this book is also must reading. while there are plenty dylan biographies out there, nothing beats reading his own take on himself and his experiences. i honestly can't wait for the second volume of his autobiography (and, rumor has, it dylan was to have begun writing volume two of chronicles in may, 2008)!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

november 25, 2008: the 225th anniversary of new york city evacuation day!

even most die-hard new yorker would be pressed to remember the anniversary of evacuation day - the day 225 years ago, when the last british troops left new york city, following the end of the revolutionary war! the final evacuation of british troop took place almost 2 years after the "battle of yorktown" - the last military engagement of the war.

to celebrate, general washington rode triumphantly back into new york city. his return was a fitting tribute since it was the british victory at the battle of brooklyn (august, 1776), followed by washington's strategic retreat to manhattan and, the eventual capture of manhattan when washington continued the retreat to new jersey, that set the stage for the british occupation of new york.

evacuation day was celebrated annually in new york until the first world war! the boston evacutation day is still celebrated in parts of massachussetts - and the holiday just happens to coincide with st. patrick's day!

the anniversary will be celebrated today at federal hall.

Monday, November 24, 2008

dinner at la trattoria: some photos from my mom's 70th birthday!

yesterday we headed down to brooklyn - my old neighborhood of sheepshead bay, actually. my mom wanted to have her birthday dinner at la trattoria, a great italian restaurant owned by one of her close friends.

here are some photos:

group photo: left side, enrico, renato and rosemary. right side, mom, katie, peter, caterina, and pat.

group photo.

peter and katie.

katie, peter and nonna!

mom and caterina.

pat and caterina.

enrico and mom.

group photo: enrico, renato, rosemary, and pat.