At the movies: I am Legend

I am Legend: 3

Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles valiantly to find a cure.

Starring Will Smith. There was some good tension in parts, that's for certain. There were some gaps in logic that weren't explained and some camera work that threw me out of the movie.

I'm considering marking it down to a 2 instead of a 3, because of the camera work. Nah. I'll leave it as is.


At the movies: Music & Lyrics

Music & Lyrics: 3

Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore in a story about a has-been pop singer who has just a few days to write a song for the current popstar-of-the-month.

This was a pretty formulaic love story, but some of Hugh's lines actually got me to laugh, so I'm giving it a 3.

At the movies: Lucky Number Slevin

Lucky Number Slevin: 3

A case of mistaken identity leads into the middle of an old mob feud.

I did not see the twist coming until very late, if at all. A fun, somewhat violent movie. A good cast: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Lucy Liu and Josh Hartnett.

Weekend update: Memorial Day weekend

Friday: aikido

Saturday: Wired the set cabinets destined to be the new stained glass work table for the fluorescent fixtures. Caused myself some minor damage in the process. Lots of blood, though. Aikido. Dinner at Durango's. 3 DVDs: Casino Royale, Music & Lyrics and Lucky Number Slevin.

Sunday: Up early to fetch Kim and the in-laws from their cruise ship. I went early enough, I thought, to get into Galveston in time for some breakfast. I was looking for the restaurant when I got a call from Kim saying they were ready. So, I went and picked them up and they joined me at the restaurant to watch me eat breakfast.

In the afternoon I grilled out burgers and we dined well.

Monday: Yard work in the morning during which I discovered that the riding mower needs some work. In the afternoon, I grilled fish, shrimp and sausage. Once again, the family dined well. Oh, I also made some shortcakes and a coffee cake. Good stuff.

Saturday Afternoon at the dojo 5/24/08

Aikidokas: Tim, Randy, Richard, and Brad.

Ukemi: No big falls. Full complement of left- and right-sided otherwise.

The Walk: No walk today.

Releases: None today.


11-17 left-sided only with Richard.

We did some exploring of the new approach to some of these techniques with Richard. He'd not seen some of the changes that we're incorporating. We spent a lot of time on Sumi-otoshi. Looking at the differences between it and Uke-otoshi.

I did ok. Some work on Shihonage and Mae-otoshi, as well as Sumi-otoshi.

Aftermath: Still stiff left calf muscle..

Friday Night at the dojo 5/23/08

Aikidokas: Tim, Randy, and Trey.

Ukemi: Took a big fall, right-sided. Landed weird on the left calf muscle and it complained.

The Walk: Went ok.

Releases: With Trey. Went ok. Working on an alternative to having to duck on 5 and 7 by pushing up more. It requires staying much closer to uke.


1-10 left-sided only for both of us. It was a struggle. It was interesting to see how much a difference doing no right-sided techniques to jog the memory makes. I was very grabby on a number of the techniques, but I did manage to clean it up a little.

We went back to 1-step distance to clean up some issues from time to time and it helped. We explored some options for ushiro-ate for someone of Trey's height trying to handle someone of my height.

Aftermath: Very sore left calf muscle. Pulled? Strained?


RIP: Robert Asprin

I met him only once in person, at AggieCon a few years ago. The picture
I've got of him outside, doing a panel on sword work, is one of my
favorites I've taken

I met him through his written word, many times. I'm saddened that his
new worlds will be no more.

At the movies: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull : 3

Harken back to the days of the Temple of Doom and the Lost Ark and you'll find yourself properly prepared for the newest installation of the Indy franchise where the lead character is named after his dad's dog.

This time our ragtag group of archeaologists is not taking something from an ancient civilization, but returning something to one. And that, I think, takes a lot of dramatic tension away from the movie. There are a few instances of surprise, but I never felt that the result was in doubt. Maybe it would have been better if I'd not seen and Indy movie before? I don't know.

Still, I'm glad I went.


At the movies: Iron Man

Iron Man: 3

The origin story of Tony Stark/Iron Man

I expected summer popcorn stuff and was not disappointed. It showed playboy Tony Stark grow into a more socially responsible person. I did not know anything about Iron Man going into the movie, so I have no idea how close it is to the actual comic.

If you can accept the comic book physics, it's a fun flick. The actors did a decent job. I recognized the 3 big names, but for the life of me I could not get Gwyneth Paltrow's name to come to mind while I was in the theatre.

Also, stick around until the end of the credits, there is an extra scene.


Weekend update

Friday: aikido

Saturday: chilled around the house while Kim was out and about. Our Taurus is a little iffy on the reliability side (i.e., it will die while moving at 55mph and not restart for a while), so I chose to hang out instead of going any where.

Aikido after she was done with her truck-necessary stuff and back at work.

Her parents and I then went to the library to help her close up the Book Sale and get the room clean for the next week.

Then off to Joe's for dinner. I made a pig of myself as I had not eaten much all day.

Sunday: Packed 'em all off for a cruise around the Caribbean for a week. I'm staying home due to a lack on interest in being stuck on a boat for seven days. I did some boat work in high school and I'm terribly interested in doing it again at the moment.

Went to see Redbelt on the way back from dropping them off at the cruise ship. Great movie!

Grilled some hamburgers out for my meals for the week. Mmmmm. I added some onion soup mix and some Dubliner cheese. It gave it a very nice flavor.

Most of Friendswood lost power for about an hour, so I went out and chatted with neighbors down the street. Everyone knew me as soon as I was introduced as "Kim's husband". :D

At the movies: Redbelt

Redbelt: 4

From imdb: A fateful event leads to a job in the film business for top mixed-martial arts instructor Mike Terry. Though he refuses to participate in prize bouts, circumstances conspire to force him to consider entering such a competition.

The movie does a good job of portraying an instructor who has principles and is not in it strictly for the money. They operate on razor-thin margins, struggling to make rent for their space.

The events that occur are plausible, and the ramifications make sense.

The portrayal of the dojo is plausible, as well, although the set was too big if the dojo was as struggling as stated in the movie. The dojo would have moved to a more affordable venue.

The only minor quibble I have is when the lawyer came into the dojo for her first training session, she already knew that a red belt was the highest rank. The colors of belts, and their meanings, differ from one art to the next and one style of art to the next. But, it's a minor quibble.

I might end up purchasing this one.

Saturday Afternoon at the Dojo - 5/17/08

Aikidokas: Tim, Randy, Trey and Brad.

Ukemi: One big fall, right-sided. Wahoo! I did land kind of hard on the left calf, and it cramped up a bit.

I'll probably add static big falls on both sides next week, then back to my dynamic attacks on Tim that result in big falls the week after. Did the full complement of left- and right-sided falls otherwise.

The Walk: As usual. I counted the pace once. Faster than I normally like to count for some reason.

Releases: With Trey. Went ok.

Tim gave me an alternative approach for 5 and 7 to make it so I don't have to kneel and pivot with shorter ukes. The key is to push up, but stay very close to uke to prevent getting clotheslined.


1-10, except 9, for Trey. I served as uke all night. 3 step approach for all. We reverted back to 1-step when he got stuck on a technique, to try to resolve the issue a little quicker. That happened on ushiro-ate, and ude-hineri.

We also did some detail work on left-sided initial off-balances at the end of class to improve that basic skill.

Aftermath: Sore calf, slightly sore ankle. Generally sore overall. I took a bunch of falls, and got back up. Ibuprofen was called for.

Friday Night at the Dojo - 5/16/08

Aikidokas: Tim, Randy, Kim, and Trey.

Ukemi: No big falls. Full complement of left- and right-sided otherwise.

The Walk: Forgot the second pivot stone, momentarily. That messed up Kim and Trey.

Releases: With Trey. Went ok. Get off-line, push and follow


3 and 4 for Trey. I work as tori once for about every 5 times Trey served as tori. I was not moving well at the beginning, not getting off-line. That quickly improved and I was managing to complete the techniques.

Trey noted I wasn't getting much eye-flash on gedan-ate, so I beefed up that portion and got a little better flow from the technique.

We also did some duck-in-the-middle knife avoidance work. A nice precursor to full out randori, neither of which we do very often.

Tim got thrown around by Kim all evening. He would later report that it was a two-Aleve evening.

Aftermath: Slightly sore ankle.


New Zelazny novel coming out

Hard Case Crime is going to be publishing "Dead Man's Brother", a thriller Roger wrote around 1970. You bet I'm going to be getting it as soon as it comes out.

I just went and looked at the cover . It looks like more of a bodice-ripper and crime novel.

Mississippi Kite, redux

Originally uploaded by madmoravian
The kites showed up in our backyard again yesterday. For a while, two of them were right next to each other on a branch of this pine tree. There were not, however, accommodating to the photographer.

I took about 60 pictures and culled out most. The lighting was not great. My attempts with my big lens were really hampered by the poor lighting. They stuck around long enough that I should have pulled out the tripod.

Maybe they'll be around over the next couple of days for me to try again.


Mississippi Kite

Originally uploaded by madmoravian
This guy showed up in our area over the weekend. I hope he and his mate stick around. They've got a nice call.

Owaza Ju Pon

Now that I'm having to learn this kata, I figured I'd post the techniques for reference.

1. Kubi-guruma - neck wheel
2. Kata-otoshi - shoulder drop
3. Ude-guruma - arm wheel
4. Hiji-guruma - elbow wheel
5. Aiki-nage - fitting in throw
6. Shiho-nage - four corner (all directions) throw
7. Ushiro-ate - behind (from the rear) strike
8. Kote-gaeshi - wrist turn
9. Ushiro-kubi-gatame - hold from behind (the rear)
10. Shizumi-otoshi - sinking body drop

The Phantom, the Ghost who walks

The Houston Chronicle carries a bunch of comics on a daily basis. One of them is "The Phantom."

In the current storyline, he and his wife have gone down to Galveston to bid on a rare airplane. Leaving Galveston, they're flying the airplane and the Phantom says they'll follow the coast, go by New Orleans and then on down to South America.

Now, I suppose they could have left Galveston and flown up the coast past New Orleans, testing the flight worthiness of the airplane, but I think they made a huge geographical error.

Anyone else see it?


Dojo advertising

Here's a picture of the back of my truck with the new lettering applied.

Weekend update

Friday night: Aikido!

Saturday: 1.5 hours of mowing. 1.5 hours of sweeping. 1.5 hours of aikido. Dinner at Durango's with the in-laws

Sunday: Mother's Day brunch at District 7 Grill and then off to see the movie "Flawless"

At the movies: Flawless

Flawless: 3

A diamond caper movie starring Michael Caine and Demi Moore. Set in the 60's, Demi is the highest ranking female in the London Diamond company. She's been passed over for promotion several times and runs into a janitor who also has a grudge that stealing diamonds will assuage.

It was nicely done, the time was well-represented and the actors did a good job.

Saturday Afternoon at the Dojo - 5/10/08

Aikidokas: Tim, Richard, and Trey.

Ukemi: No big falls. Just a few left-sided falls as the injured foot is the one that lands first on those. Did the full complement of right-sided falls.

The Walk: As usual. I counted the pace once in Czech. Tim noted some sloppiness in my feet. Maybe because of the ankle injury? I don't know

Releases: With Trey. Went ok. I do have some issues with #5 and #7 trying to be careful of the right ankle.


1 and 2 for Trey. I served as uke all night. We worked on three-step approach to both of these. He had some great Shomen-ates at the end.

Aftermath: Slightly sore ankle.

Friday Night at the Dojo - 5/9/08

Aikidokas: Tim, Kim, and Trey.

Back on the mat. Yahoo!

Ukemi: No big falls. Just a few left-sided falls as the injured foot is the one that lands first on those. Did the full complement of right-sided falls.

The Walk: As usual

Releases: With Trey. Went ok. I do have some issues with #5 and #7 trying to be careful of the right ankle.


6-10 for Trey and Kim. I served as uke all night. I'm not confident in the ankle enough to do the small circle footwork yet.

Aftermath: Slightly sore ankle.


In the woodshop

Got into the shop for a couple of hours last night. It was nice and hot. That's gonna give me motivation to get the dog screen for the unfenced shop door built.

Managed to get the light box insert (for use while doing stained glass work) built for the set of cabinets in which it will reside. Looks like this weekend's goal will be to get it wired up.

I've got aikido, mowing and Mother's Day to deal with, so no telling if I'll get some shop time.

At the movies: Broken Flowers

Broken Flowers: 3

Bill Murray stars in a movie where he is trying to find out which of his many ex-girlfriends might be the mother of his rumored son.

An interesting movie, but I got tired of all of the fade-to-black transitions. I understand why it was done, but it was still annoying.

There was no solid resolution at the end of the movie. There's a suggested one, but the movie fades to black at the end, leaving the audience hanging.

At the movies: 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys: 3

Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt in a Terry Gilliam (Time Bandits, Brazil, Adv. of Baron Munchausen) movie about time travel and doomsday viruses.

This was a different movie than I expected. I was really expecting it to be far more of a horror movie. Instead it's more of a steam punk time travel movie.

Brad Pitt did a decent job with the not-quite-sane, son of a virulogist. Bruce did a decent job as the protagonist time-traveler.

A very quirky movie, with the indelible imprint of Terry Gilliam. I enjoyed getting this one off of my list of wanted-to-see movies.


At the movies: Smokin' Aces

Smokin' Aces: 3

Concept: Mafia boss is turning federal witness. Competing mafia boss had put a contract out on MB #1. Everyone and their dog wants the $1 million prize. FBI wants to keep folks from making the hit.

Death, blood and gunfights. Over-the-top, but fun. I had the reveal figured out fairly early on, but it was still worth watching.

At the movies: Domino

Domino: 3

A vehicle for Keira Knightley, and it's a decent vehicle. Lots of mayhem, explosions and opportunities for her to pout.

KK joins a crew of bounty hunters. With her family and good looks, she evenutally gets a reality show called Bounty Hunters. They get filmed on lots of captures, but finally take on one with too little documentation. Bounty Hunters end up, mistakenly, capturing a Mafia bosses kids. Stuff ensues with lots of loss of life.

Mickey Rourke and Lucy Liu have roles in this, along with some start from BH 90210


Dojo advertising

I stopped by a local sign shop last week to inquire about signage for the back of my pickup. I've been planning on putting something back there for a while to try to promote the dojo. I finally made the time to stop someplace and look into the costs.

It's gonna cost me about $75 to have a sign made and applied to the rear window of the truck. I hope it'll be ready sometime this week, but I really have no idea as to their timetables.

I hope it looks good and doesn't just generate comments on my driving.

Weekend update

Friday night: aikido spectating for me

Saturday: drove Kim to her genealogy thing as she was having vertigo. We then crashed for the afternoon in order to be ready for our cooking class at Central Market.

The cooking class was pretty good. It was on outdoor grilling. One of the three entrees was a steak with a coffee-based rub. It was one of the best steaks I've ever had. Tender, tasty, and nicely cooked. Wow.

Sunday: slept in some more fighting off our respective ailments. I spent the afternoon completing the backyard deck for our grill. I'd completed the frame earlier in the week, so all that was left was cutting, and securing, the lumber for the top of the deck.

Neither of us slept well overnight. Ugh.

Friday Night at the Dojo 5/2/08

Aikidokas: Tim, and Larry.

They worked through part of San kata, I think.

I sat and watched all evening. I've been under the weather from a cold-like object and doing Pt on the ankle. I think I'll get back on the mat this coming Friday. The ankle's feeling pretty good after therapy sessions, and I'm managing to accomplish more difficult tasks during therapy.

Aftermath: None of note