Saturday, January 28, 2017

Sports: Dreams of 18

It's amazing to think that 8 years ago, I blogged about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal meeting in the Australian Open final to see who would become the GOAT - the "Greatest of All Time." That final, of course, was a five-set classic won by Rafa.

In the years that followed, both Federer and Nadal have become legends, winning many more titles, and becoming forever intertwined in the tennis firmament as friendly rivals. Federer even flew to Mallorca to help Nadal open his tennis academy this past summer:

Tomorrow sees what may be the last major final between the two, with typically high stakes, epic drama, and clashing styles on display. It's been called a "dream final," because both men were injured last year, and because it provides one of the few chances for the aging pros (Fed is 35, Rafa is an old 30) to add to their Grand Slam tally. Federer is still the men's all-time leader at a record 17 Grand this Nadal's stepping stone to 18?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Music: I Can't Go For That (Jane Lui cover)

Are you familiar with the quirky, modestly successful singer-songwriter and YouTube star Jane Lui?

You are now:

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Miscellany: Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

One of the quirks of living in South Florida is that you're never far from the Everglades, an enormous wetland system that occupies most of the central part of the state. You see, all of our urban areas are contained in thin strips along the west and east coasts - the rest is basically a giant mess of sawgrass prairie and marshes. You can go from drinking a boba tea in the mall to cruising along the River of Grass in about 20 minutes.

My favorite place to experience the Everglades is the Arthur R. Marshall National Wildlife Refuge, located right off of Highway 441:

There are hiking trails, a very nice visitor's center, and a cypress swamp boardwalk. The most unique thing to do, though, is to walk along the L-40 canal and drink in some of the widest open spaces you can see in our area.

There is also a canoe trail, with canoes available for rental. It's a relatively long loop (3-4 hours) that presents an up close and personal view of the Everglades. The narrow waterway can be a bit frustrating if your paddling skills are rusty, but there are few sounds more peaceful than listening to the wind ripple the sawgrass.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Movies: Awards Season Review-a-rama

As it does every year, last night's Golden Globe Awards began in earnest the jockeying, campaigning, and cajoling for the Academy Awards (nominations voting closes this Friday). Here are some movies I've seen this year that are sure to be in the running when the envelopes are opened February 26th...

Arrival - This mid-budget alien encounter movie is based on a 1998 short story from Ted Chiang, and it shows. While Amy Adams turns in a fine performance as a linguist trying to comprehend the inscrutable heptapods, there isn't much plot to fill the two-hour runtime, and the dramatic stakes never feel very high. One of two sci-fi movies this year to waste the talents of Forest Whitaker. Rating: 7/10

Captain Fantastic -

A Viggo Mortensen vehicle that follows an isolated hippie family as they attempt to attend the funeral of their mother. If you've seen "Little Miss Sunshine," you've seen all these dramedy beats, but in a much funnier, more cohesive way. Still, I did like the performances from the young ensemble cast. Rating: 6/10

Hacksaw Ridge - Mel Gibson's escape from Hollywood Jail is a biopic about someone as blemish-less as can be: WWII hero Desmond Doss. You'll like the aw-shucks performance from Andrew Garfield and the sweet portrayal of Doss's marriage; you'll cringe at the over-the-top gore and violence of the battle scenes. It's not bad, but it's not "Saving Private Ryan" Rating: 7/10

Hell or High Water -

Chris Pine's big problem is that, despite having true Tinseltown bona fides (he worked as a Roger Corman production assistant, for heaven's sake), he's too good-looking to be taken seriously as an actor. He's trying hard, though, as shown by this gritty modern Western heist film set in the sleepy towns of West Texas. Pine and co-star Ben Foster have a fun sibling chemistry that you don't see very often in movies, and it gives the film's finale unexpected emotional heft. Rating: 8/10

La La Land -

The 800 pound gorilla of awards season, "La La Land" gleefully ticks off all the checkboxes to appeal to Academy voters. Story about making movies? Got it. Old Hollywood song and dance? In spades. Soulful performances by a couple we love to see onscreen? You know it. What's surprising is that it also brings back some of the tonal complexity that Hollywood has forgotten - more "Casablanca" than "The Notebook." The movie's occasionally brought down by the so-so vocal performances of the two leads (who, in fairness, never claimed to be great singers), but it still deserves front-runner status. Rating: 8/10

Moana -

It was a mild upset when "Zootopia" took home the Golden Globe for best animated picture last night, but it was guaranteed that one of the two Disney behemoths this year would win. Of the two, I think "Moana" is the better film. It's a small movie in some respects (there are only really two characters), but epic Polynesian mythology and an outsized vocal turn from the Rock give it a big heart. Rating: 8/10