The Sundance Film Festival takes place every January right here in the heart of exotic Utah but, although players come from all over the world to be present at this illustrious affair, to many Utahans this event is little more than a nuisance that makes the streets and ski resorts unnaturally crowded.
However, to me and Jason Sundance is a chance to get an exclusive look at some pretty awesome, and sometimes not, indie films and catch the movie makers and actors.
This year Jason and I again pulled our act together and remembered to register for the locals passes in the fall. We shared half of our tickets with a few lucky friends. (Yes, you are very fortunate that we are willing to let you benefit from all the planning and shuffling we have to do in order to get tickets.) That left me and Jason with passes to five shows, five movie surprises.
The Bones Brigade members were gracious and appreciative. Talent and manners: what a lovely combination.
As I’ve always said, at the Sundance Film Festival you get a singular opportunity to see movies without any critics telling you what you should think about them. With no trailers to whet your appetite, no ratings to enthrall or appall you, nothing to recommend a show, you are free to experience it with no expectations or preconceptions. Since everyone’s opinion about everything is available at the click of a mouse these days, concluding without the collective is a rare treat indeed.
The downside to not knowing anything about a movie before you see it is that you don’t know anything about it before you see it. You are occasionally amazed, sometimes caught off guard, and quite often just plain confused. But who wouldn’t want to play a little cinematic roulette?
Here’s what we saw:
Bones Brigade: an Autobiography was my favorite film this year. The documentaries at Sundance are generally superb and without fail one of them ends up my top pick every time. This year this one was it. If “Bones Brigade” stirs up thoughts of burial site digging Indiana Jones types then either you weren’t around in the 80s or you were completely oblivious back then. The Bones Brigade was a team of skateboarders that brought the sport up a notch twenty plus years ago. Heard of Tony Hawk? Maybe Steve Caballero? Or Rodney Mullen? How about the tricks they invented when they were merely teenagers: the McTwist, Ollie Pop, Kickflip, Caballerial? If not, you best be a googling.
I’m no skateboarding expert but I still loved this show and was very impressed by the Brigade in general and their treatment of their fans. Nearly all of the gang showed up at our screening to sign posters including Mike McGill, Steve Caballero, Tommy Guerrero, Rodney Mullen, Lance Mountain, and their old manager, the skateboarding legend, Stacy Peralta. Hawk was the only one missing; apparently he had contractual obligations in Australia. All the boys were exceptionally nice but Rodney was an absolute sweetheart.
A big snow storm hit the night we went to see Compliance. We had to wait in line outside the Tower Theater while giant flakes accumulated on our heads and shoulders.
Declaration of War was a very French portrayal of a couple’s experience when their two-year old son is diagnosed with a rare brain cancer. It was sad and strangely European yet still universally appealing.
Beasts of the Southern Wild was a fantastical journey into the disappearing cultures of the Deep South as seen through the eyes of a fierce darling girl. The unusual characters of this show live in a world almost as extraordinary as the one fabricated by that little munchkin.
The audience went crazy for the cast and director of Beasts of the Southern Wild. I guess even the indie arena has its bigwigs.
I won’t lie, Compliance was one of the hardest movies to watch that I’ve ever seen. It was well done but the subject matter, based on true events, was a depressing commentary on human nature and the power of authoritative figures. The audience was constantly squirming throughout and not all of us made it through.
Grabbers was a fun throwback to the monster movie classics. It was more intense than disturbing and giggling spots were found throughout. I really enjoyed its mix of horror and humor.
We had another satisfying Sundance experience. We saw shows that made us writhe, cry, jump, long to jump, and contemplate the complexities of human behavior. Not too bad for a bunch of films we chose based on a few synoptic sentences.
I have been a blogger for years now, since the end of 2007 to be exact. So my post topic for this week was perhaps inevitable but it is still pitiable. Yes, I am going to blog about blogging. My life has somehow made a pathetic full circle. Although it has come to this, don’t cry for me Argentina. Let us instead follow the steady decline that led to this sad situation.
Roughly four years ago several of my friends jumped on the blogging bandwagon and started their own blogs. Jason, always the techno geeko, was easily swayed by them to follow this trend too and create his own blogging website. Although everyone was all in a tizzy to divulge the gory details of their mundane lives to the world, I wasn’t so keen on doing the same. What could I possibly want to share with every person on the planet? It took quite a bit of prodding to get me to type my first post but Jason finally convinced me to sit down and do it and that, my friends, was the beginning of the end.
Over the course of the next couple months “Jason’s” website became mine. He posted too erratically and people started complaining about the infrequency of our site’s new content. I was therefore guilted into updating more and more in his behalf and as I did so I found I enjoyed writing and sharing my bias-drenched opinions. Before I knew it I was a regular blogger.
This is common posting attire for me: a comfy t-shirt and pajama pants. No need to look glamorous for Mr. Monitor.
Since I suffer from a condition commonly referred to as pigheadedness, once I am fully committed to something I never look back and my pursuit of posting has been no different. I now write weekly pretty much without fail whether there is something minutely interesting going on in my life or not. I wish I could say the same of all the chums that got me into this mess in the first place. Most of them, after the newness of the fad wore off, grew tired of posting and their blogs have since become the abandoned places of the internet where digital dust collects and words go to die. But feel free to visit their websites if you’d like to read about something super exciting they did 584 days ago. Thanks a lot all you fickle trend fans! Get me onboard and then jump ship why don’t you?
I can’t really complain though. I now have four years of recorded recollections. It’s amazing how much you can forget in just that small span of time. Reading my old posts now and then I find there’s quite a bit that’s happened in my life that would have passed into memory oblivion had I not written about it.
Also, thanks to this website my friends, near and far, are able to catch up on everything that they really aren’t missing in my life. How could they go on living without knowing what new recipe I made for dinner Friday night?
Plus, my blog has proved beneficial in ways I didn’t foresee when I started typing all those years ago. Through it I’ve been able to reach out and give advice to a lot of fine folks with tendon problems like my own. It is quite gratifying to receive so many appreciative comments from the lot of them. I’m glad that my trying experiences have helped others through theirs.
Yes, I’ve got a cozy place in cyberspace and with over 700 monthly visitors to keep me company I’ll probably just keep documenting my small life indefinitely. I know some would say that those who write about what they do spend all their time writing and not doing. While that sounds logical it definitely has not been my experience. I am always busy doing; I do it like you wouldn’t believe. However, with some embarrassment, I have to admit that these days before I even begin an activity I often have a title for the post I will write about it later in my head. That’s when I think briefly that perhaps I’ve been a blogger for a little too long but then the moment passes and my desire to jot down a piece of my life returns.
And so, with this sorry post, I hit a new low and admit publicly that I am a hopeless blogger and I will not be rehabilitated.
Runners these days seem to long for not just a bit of pavement but a bit of an adventure as well. More and more races keep cropping up with carefully designed obstructions incorporated into their courses to create extra challenging and atypical events. These obstacles may come in the form of giant tubes that have to be hurdled, muddy pits that must be waded through, or any other awkward and messy hindrance conceivable. This extreme racing trend definitely has its appeal. Who wouldn’t want to climb a wiggling wall made of poles too bulky and slick to really hold on to?
Climbing this wall was much scarier than it looks. The poles were too large to grasp firmly and the contraption swayed with each movement made.
Last week Jason and I, along with our friend Jeremy, ran in a 5K race, which was outfitted with impediments, called Lick the Pole.
It was Jeremy’s first race ever. Apparently, he was so excited about it that he somehow didn’t notice he was wearing his wife’s sweatpants instead of his own. They looked distinctly feminine and were about 6 inches too short for him. I guess at least he remembered to wear pants.
These tires were tubular. The three of us raced through them. Jeremy lost even with his repeated elbowing attempts.
This race was supposed to trek over thick crunchy snow but Jack Frost ruined all that with his delinquency. We haven’t gotten much precipitation as of late, which is unusual for this time of year, so we weren’t sprinting across deep powder as planned. Instead, we just had a couple inches of flakes to make our progression slippery.
If it looks like I was smashing Jeremy's face into this pipe as I leaped dramatically over him there's a perfectly logical explanation for it: I was.
But at least Jack’s tame mood meant comfortable temperatures for us on race day. It was very pleasant in the hills of Soldier Hollow. We had a blast crawling under squat nets, jumping over frozen pipes, and pumping our way through rows of tires. I only wish there had been about double the number of obstacles and a foot or two more of snow. Then everything would have been perfect.
Jeremy decided that sliding headfirst over these pipes would be easier than jumping them. He was incorrect though, as is often the case. His method proved exhausting albeit amusing.
If you have been experiencing feelings of ancientness, lethargicness, boringness, disheartenedness, glumness, or bloatedness might I suggest a simple cure: a little adventure. Jason and I still feel like younglings. We are always involved in crazy activities that keep monotony from sneaking up on us. You too can overcome the cogs of your routine. Why not add a little excitement to your life? Why not add a little run? If you don’t think running a race sounds too thrilling that’s because you’ve never tried to lick it!
As tradition dictates, Jason and I spent New Year’s Eve in the company of many a friend. Being invited to more New Year’s parties than we can reasonably attend has somehow become the norm for us. Is it our sparkling personalities perhaps? Or maybe our limitless charm? Could it be our unfailing humility? Who knows. The possible reasons for why we are so in demand are numerous but the result is the same regardless of the cause: a night packed with multiple events and whole lot of socializing.
As in times past, this year we spread ourselves between three parties. (We’ve decided that three gatherings are pretty much the limit to our spreading, possibly because we have shear-thickening rheological properties.) We caught up with Jason’s old Pizza Hut coworkers at Bob’s get-together, were humorously penalized for playing cards too slowly at the Rowley’s, and ate ice cream with Cam and Fran and company. We rang in 2012 right with a hefty dose of our chums, so much so that my voice was little more than a squeak by the end of the evening.
Chris, Bob, and Miah all worked with Jason at Pizza Hut many moons ago. We caught up with them while a live band provided a background of pleasing tunes.
Along with celebratory parties, most people observe the New Year by coming up with a list of resolutions. I am generally opposed to these annual pledges because they typically don’t stick and, as many of you know, I never commit to anything that I don’t fully intend to follow through on. However, this year I decided to make a resolution list of one: eat more whole grains.
You see, a couple months back I underwent a series of wellness evaluations and blood tests as part of a workplace program designed to increase employee health awareness and motivate positive lifestyle changes. Not surprisingly, I am a pretty solidly healthy person. My heart is in great shape, my cholesterol and triglyceride levels are perfect, and I can do more pushups than all but one of my female coworkers. (I didn’t see that whole arm supremacy thing coming; given the flabby state of my upper limbs I bet you didn’t see it coming either.) But, although my “metabolic age” is 19 and that makes me feel all tough and fuzzy inside, my test results showed one issue: my blood sugar is higher than optimal and in the “pre-diabetic” range.
Jason and I happily welcomed 2012. It's sure to be another fantastic year.
My glucose has always been a little screwy. My family has a rampant predisposition, which I too share, for experiencing hypoglycemia. I’ve learned to manage this problem better through the years by eating small meals frequently to avoid the shakes, headaches, grouchiness, and cold sweats that can hit me like a plaque. I don’t know whether this annoying condition has anything to do with my recent blood sugar reading or not but I’m not willing to risk inaction in the chance that it doesn’t.
I certainly don’t fit the profile of a syndrome X sufferer. I’m not overweight, I exercise regularly, and I eat fairly healthy. So, based on the odds, diabetes shouldn’t be something I have to contend with. However, once again, it’s not a risk I’m willing to take. Unlike the majority of Americans out there, I’m not going to wait until I have a diagnosed ailment to do something about it. Hence, I resolved to eat more whole grains this year.
Besides just being more nutritious, whole grains can be a great help to those trying to keep their blood sugar under wraps. Complex carbohydrates don’t mess with your glucose levels nearly as much as their simple sugar counterparts and they contain fiber, which has an anti-diabetic effect.
Why not totally reinvent all my eating habits and start living solely on spirulina and wheat grass? Dietary changes need to be such that you can follow them indefinitely. They need to be permanent lifestyle alterations. Anything too restrictive generally doesn’t last. I can eat more whole grains. I can substitute processed grains for their wholegrain equivalents whenever possible. That is an attainable and sustainable goal. So that is a good place to start.
Thus, I have revealed my New Year’s resolution to the world and now there is no going back. You, the fine people of the World-Wide Web, are my witnesses that this goal is a go. I get my blood sugar tested again in six months and we shall see just how much of an impact my modified eating habits have on my health.
To the parties and preventative measures of 2012!