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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Lazy Writing Sinks All Is Lost

Spoilers ho! Lots and lots of spoilers so read at your peril if you plan to watch this film.

Wow, the writers really screwed up this film which should have been a lay-up.  Did they even bother to talk with a single person who has spent more than an hour on a sailboat or did they just wing it from their experience on some Catalina Island booze cruise? The first problem he faced was an act of god, as they say, and not his fault but just about every problem after that was the result of his own stupidity and very poor seamanship. The movie is like what not to do if you have an emergency in a small boat at sea. I was screaming at the screen at times—that’s what U.S. Air Force Survival School and a couple seasons of racing yachts do to a boy.

So he hits a container putting a nice hole in his starboard side about 2 feet X 2 feet. No biggie. He has resin to patch it up which he does incompetently; he acts like he's repairing a broken kite. For some reason he loses all electrical power.  Why his engine doesn’t work isn’t explained (and no back-up outboard motor for a yacht this size?). Why he would be on a single-handed ocean voyage with no knowledge of how to repair these damages is beyond my comprehension. Most of the sailors I've met who felt compelled to go on solo voyages were all geeks who could repair anything aboard a small craft. That's just the way these people are wired so when Redford flips a switch and nothing happens his first reaction shouldn't be to give up. Fucking fix it, man.

His sailing skill during the storm was basically non-existent. You don’t wait until the excrement hits the fan to put up your storm jib and reef the living daylights out of your mainsail. Once again, what about his engine? To broach and capsize a boat that big you really have to mess up royally, like letting yourself get hit right on the beam with a huge swell. Why would you go below during a storm in the first damn place? Ever heard the expression “All Hands on Deck?” I think that applies here in spades; you can sleep and shave after the squall. In the end the fact that his vessel goes down had little or nothing to do with the hole from the container—he simply screwed up during the storm.

The most important rule in most survival situations is WATER! It’s the most important thing to consider when you finally abandon ship unless you can swim to shore. These days with all of the survival foods available you could last for months in a life raft and some people do provided you have water. Read Adrift where the dude survived for 67 days and crosses the Atlantic after sinking almost immediately after hitting a container in the dead of night. I would imagine that most life rafts come with a solar still water purifier which is little more than a blow-up beach ball (some rafts are solar stills). Just why he didn’t prep his life boat after he hit the container was something I was wondering about way before his ship sunk. He had plenty of fresh water onboard so why can’t he carry 20 gallons on to the raft? They probably felt the dire water situation added drama but it made him look like a clumsy child. His crappy solar still wouldn’t produce enough to keep him alive for more than a couple days if that, not in the heat of the Indian Ocean.

I doubt that anyone has ever learned celestial navigation on their own in a life raft at sea. I don’t think it works that way. And why even bother trying to find your position when you have no means of propulsion in the water. He had way bigger problems to worry about, like water.

In this day and age I find it very hard to believe that he would have no sort of communication. How about a two-way radio? Jesus, they go for about $20 these days and are a lot better for signaling a passing ship than a flare. Most ships these days won’t even have anyone looking out at the sea. Why would they?Maybe this was a period piece set back in 1963 which would explain his lack of life-saving technology.

And then he sets his own craft on fire which might happen if you start a fire in a plastic container in the middle of a fucking rubber raft. He doesn’t deserve to survive instead he deserves a Darwin Award. What a complete waste of what could have been a great movie. A great movie would have been the survival tale of a really experienced and highly resourceful seaman, not like this bungling fool.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tooting Valencia's Bike Horn

Not a bad picture that I took for this article talking up bike share programs for an American magazine.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Breaking News!

Nothing to do with the post but a great pic
Not sure yet but I think I just invented a recipe: Tortilla soup with pumpkin (sopa de tortilla con calabaza).  Cook pieces of fresh pumpkin in pork stock. When pumpkin is cooked add corn tortillas and liquefy. Add short grain rice and about a cup of cooked corn and cook for 16 minutes.  I’ll keep searching in YouTube to see if this is an original while one of you notifies the Nobel Prize committee.

For my recipe I actually used some leftover paella instead of cooking the rice in the soup. I was basically just cleaning out my fridge. The end result is really good and it is a dish I will make again.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

All In A Day's Work

Trilobite: Our revolting ancestor
While others celebrate Christmas, or Chanukah, or Ramadan, or whatever stupid shit people believe in I celebrate man’s inexorable quest to understand how life began on our planet. I have read something similar in other books but this is from Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything:

“If you imagine the 4,500-billion-odd years of Earth's (How this is written makes zero sense to me. The age of the earth is 4.5 billion years) history compressed into a normal earthly day, then life begins very early, about 4 A.M., with the rise of the first simple, single-celled organisms, but then advances no further for the next sixteen hours. Not until almost 8:30 in the evening, with the day five-sixths over, has Earth anything to show the universe but a restless skin of microbes. Then, finally, the first sea plants appear, followed twenty minutes later by the first jellyfish and the enigmatic Ediacaran fauna first seen by Reginald Sprigg in Australia. At 9:04 P.M. trilobites swim onto the scene, followed more or less immediately by the shapely creatures of the Burgess Shale. Just before 10 P.M. plants begin to pop up on the land. Soon after, with less than two hours left in the day, the first land creatures follow. Thanks to ten minutes or so of balmy weather, by 10:24 the Earth is covered in the great carboniferous forests whose residues give us all our coal, and the first winged insects are evident. Dinosaurs plod onto the scene just before 11 P.M. and hold sway for about three-quarters of an hour. At twenty-one minutes to midnight they vanish and the age of mammals begins. Humans emerge one minute and seventeen seconds before midnight. The whole of our recorded history, on this scale, would be no more than a few seconds, a single human lifetime barely an instant.”

This reminds me of the old Woody Allen line, "Today I saw a red-and-yellow sunset and thought, How insignificant I am! Of course, I thought the same thing yesterday and it rained."

Sunday, December 15, 2013

More Pointless Violence and Stupidity: A Movie

**Spoiler Alert: The Counselor is a huge piece of shit!!**

Cormac McCarthy can be as good as they get and as bad as they come. His Border Trilogy books are among my favorites but No Country for Old Men was a not-very-interesting portrayal of one man’s brief intersection with the world of drug outlaws. The Counselor was less a movie than a forum for McCarthy to give a few speeches about life and greed and good and bad and snuff flicks and how expensive good pussy (his word) is these days. Forget about the fact that the story doesn’t hold water even momentarily. Worse still is the fact that if you see the trailer there isn’t a single surprise in the entire film. A rich douche gets involved with drug dealers, the deal goes to shit, a guy gets his head cut off with a piece of wire stretched across the road. Moral of the story: protect your neck at all cost? Say no to drugs? Money isn’t everything? Always look on the bright side of life?

First of all, he gets involved with the Juarez cartel as an investor? Huh? What, are they some struggling internet start-up in need of venture capital? The last things those murderous goons need is cash; they have fucking warehouses full of it. This just shows how little thought went into McCarthy’s script. “I’ll make him get involved with really bad drug dealers and sit back and watch when the shit hits the fan.” Think a little more, dude. Secondly, he stretched a piece of wire across the road and not one other car or truck came along the road before the soon-to-be-headless motorcyclist? That scene had nothing in it because they spoiled it in the trailer. It wasn’t even that cool of an idea to begin with.

Next, if things did go wrong wouldn’t the first thing the Juarez thugs would do would be to get him and find out where the product was? They are completely amoral scum but they are mostly in it for the money, not to simply punish people who screw up. And if the cartel scum even got the slightest whiff that the Cameron Diaz character ripped them off then she and all of her close associates would be at least as dead as the Brad Pitt character.

And didn't he have to front the money? If so then why would the cartel give a shit if someone ripped him off? At that point they were his drugs to do with what he wanted. How could he have been out $20 million? This made zero sense.

I suppose that McCarthy really liked Death of a Salesman and was paying homage to Willy Loman or maybe Gil Gunderson from The Simpsons. I liked some of the dialogue but the plot was just way too damn silly and stupid.

And lastly, if someone handed me a snuff film starring my wife I would throw it back in their face and demand they give me the movie on a USB drive or at least give me the download link. What am I supposed to do with a DVD? Get into my Delorean and go back to 1993 so I can watch it in my disc player right after I watch The Love Boat?  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tortilla Soup

I made this soup for a group of friends the other day and when I looked for a similar recipe on YouTube all I found were horrible variations, most of which used little in the way of fresh ingredients. In one video a guy ws wearing a chef coat as he added nothing but manufactured products to his soup. I didn’t think that any of them exploited the two main ingredients: chicken and corn tortillas. I guess that I’ll have to make my own video of this easy classic.

Tortilla Soup

1 Whole Chicken
Package of Corn Tortillas
Carrots, Onion, Garlic, Celery, Turnip, Parsnip
(I buy these fresh vegetables in a package in the supermarket)
Cooked Corn
3 Bay Leaves
5 Whole Black Pepper Corns

Cut up the chicken and put it in a stock pot of water with the vegetables, bay leaves, pepper corns, and salt to taste. Boil this for about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces and put in a bowl to cool. Continue to cook the vegetables in the pot. Remove the meat from the chicken and return bones and skin to the pot and cook for about 40 minutes. Strain the broth and discard the vegetables and the bones. In the pot of broth add the corn tortillas and liquefy with a hand blender. Add the pieces of cooked chicken, cooked corn, and shredded cilantro.

*You can put other vegetables in the soup. I put in fresh green beans with mine the other day.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Who Likes Big Boobs?*

If Americans got half as upset over violence in films as they do about sex then we’d be on the way to making some real change. Before gun control I’d vote to rate any depictions of violence in movies as NC-17. 

NC-17 does not mean "obscene" or "pornographic" in the common or legal meaning of those words, and should not be construed as a negative judgment in any sense.

*Just trying to see how many fish I can haul in before they realize that they might have to hike up their pants and put on their glasses for this blog.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Still Learning Spanish After All These Years

La ironía es un concepto difícil de explicar en cualquier idioma, pero creo que una buena definición es como siempre tengo que buscar la palabra “chochear” en el diccionario.

Irony is a difficult concept to explain in any language but I think a good definition is how I always have to look up the word “chochear*” in the dictionary.

Or maybe I’m confusing stupidity for irony? Another definition of irony is how that dude from the muscle car movies bought it in a Porsche going probably three times the legal speed limit. Or am I confusing irony with insensitivity? Sorry?

* Chochear – To dodder, to be senile