Movie Review: Pompeii 3D

Posted in Uncategorized on February 22, 2014 by roninsherpa

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In Roman times, Pompeii was a town along the shores of current day Italy. The town lived at the base of a rather large volcano called Mount Vesuvius. Pompeii is famous for being totally destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79BC. Research shows pyroclastic flow incinerated people and buried the entire city in 10-20feet of ash. A researcher named Giuseppe Fiorelli discovered during excavations that over time the bodies of people had decayed away leaving pockets of air in the solidified ash. He filled these pockets with plaster of Paris and made forms of the bodies that were once there, capturing the last moments that person was alive. These ghastly images are known the world over.

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When my older sister and I were children, I was always curious about what she was learning in school, so I read all of her books. I vividly remember reading The Dog of Pompeii by Louis Untermeyer. It was the story of Tito, a poor blind boy who lived in the streets of Pompeii with his dog, Bimbo. Bimbo would steal raisin bread from the street vendor and bring it to Tito. Tito’s life was rough and Bimbo was his only friend, his best friend. When Mount Vesuvius exploded, all the people panicked and none of them had time to care for the blind boy. Bimbo tried to lead Tito to safety but Tito’s strength gave out and he collapsed. Bimbo could not get Tito to respond, so Bimbo did the one thing he would never want to do, he bit Tito. Tito yelled and started to run away from Bimbo. Bimbo guided him toward the safety of the harbor and the boats which were leaving by biting at Tito’s feet and forcing him to run faster. The men on the boat grab Tito who is yelling “Bimbo! Bimbo!” searching for his dog who the boat has no room for. The next line starts “Eighteen hundred years passed.” The story ends with scientists who are restoring the city and they find the skeletal remains of a dog holding a piece of petrified raisin bread.

The story affected me emotionally and led me to reading more, learning more and reaching beyond my comfort zone, about Rome and Pompeii and the geographic history of that part of the world. It made me curious about animal behavior which later in life I studied at NC State University. It sparked a passionate love for reading which I have become a bit of a snob over as an adult. I could view that one story as a small hinge upon which my entire life changed direction. I remember crying thinking about that dog and imagining what a terrible ending that must have been, but understanding the love and dedication. I remember crying for the loss, and the pain of the tragedy. With time, I came to understand it was a fictional story, but the fact someone, used a story to change how I felt, changed how I looked at things. I began to see storytelling as an art form, a way to convey feelings. Today I long for stories which stir my soul and engage my emotions as The Dog of Pompeii did so many years ago.

When I heard there was to be a movie about the destruction of Pompeii, it stirred those childhood memories and I wanted to see it. When I learned it was to be 3D I was even more excited. Today’s 3D effects are truly remarkable. I was excited to see this movie. Then I learned that Emily Browning from Sucker Punch would star with Carrie-Anne Moss who played Trinity in The Matrix and Kiefer Sutherland who is awesome! It was an all star cast made in a time when special effects have caught up to the potential of the idea the director has and the movie is about a subject matter I am already emotionally invested in. Sounds like the perfect movie, right?

Let me be clear in how disappointing this movie is: it sucked. Bad. I’ll tell you what this movie is exactly: If you cross Titanic, Gladiator, and Dante’s Peak, you have this movie. The story in this movie is identical to Titanic: two uber cheesy, star crossed lovers, run to the end of the hallway and fight the bad guys as the world falls apart around around them.  In Titanic the bad guy feels the need to chase Jack and Rose around the ship, shooting at them as the ship sinks. In this movie, the ship is the city of Pompeii. Just like Titanic, only the last 20 minutes are even remotely cool. The 3D volcano effects are badass, but you have to put up with an hour and a half of some stupid back story about Kiefer Southerland wanting to blackmail Emily Browning into marring him just to get to it. If, like Sucker Punch they had just gone, “Hey, we’re in Pompeii” then showed the eruption for an hour it would have been a been a better movie. This tries to have a Gladiator fight, a love story and a buddy movie all at the same time. But none of it works well because it is just all trite posthumous crap. I liked Sucker Punch because it was a visual movie. It had little to think about, but a tone of tongue in cheek, T&A. It did not take itself seriously. This movie is not that. Granted I may have had too high an expectation going into this movie, but it is a bad warmed over Titanic script with volcano special effects and a poorly done gladiator fight in the middle.

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Of the Ronin Sherpa scale of 5 Swords, I give this movie a 2. I am only giving it a 2 for the visual effects and the 3D and the fact that Emily Browning is really nice to look at. I just wish she were a better actor, and I wish this movie was better.

45

Posted in Uncategorized on December 29, 2013 by roninsherpa

On Friday December 27, 2013 I turned 45 years old. To be honest, this year was the greatest birthday I have ever had.

I was able to spend the day with someone I love, try some wonderful new foods, and be free of the obligations of the world outside.

I am a fan of NASA and I got to watch a live video feed of two Russian cosmonauts conducting what would become a record breaking, 8 hour space walk installing external cameras on the International Space Station.

Later we were able to observe the #ISS pass directly overhead in the evening sky.

I even got a fantastic gift.

My birthday was filled with love, gratitude, amazement, delight, wonder and hope and I could not have asked for anything more.

They say with age comes wisdom and our values change. Things which are important to me today are the things I may have taken for granted in years past.

As 2013 draws to a close I wish for you all a day as perfect as my birthday was this year.

2013 Year in review.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 12, 2013 by roninsherpa

Time passes. Age creeps up on us and years burn off into the ether of our memories.

What was my 2013 about? What did I accomplish? What meaning will I place on this past year in years to come?

As a member of the LIVESTRONG Leader program, I was asked to say a few words about what 2013 meant to me through my work with the Foundation. This is what I said:

“I was honored to be on the LIVESTRONG Leader Training Advisory Council. This Council’s work will help train those new to the Livestrong Leaders program and streamline the process of keeping the existing Leaders in touch with LIVESTRONG’s direction, for many years to come. I was also honored to work in conjunction with Above and Beyond Cancer with their Million Dollar Marathon during which over 100 runners (including LIVESTRONG’s  own CEO, Doug Ulman) ran one after the other passing a baton filled with prayer flags all the way across the US. I attended both the LS Assembly in Chicago and the ACS Annual Research Breakfast here in NC. This year we’ve lost some beautiful friends to that dreaded bastard cancer. My heart is heavy with these losses, but the fire burns brighter than ever with their loving memories to help me focus my efforts for the coming year and further. LIVESTRONG everyone.”

Livestrong Assembly in Chicago at the BEAN

Livestrong Assembly in Chicago at the BEAN

Also in 2013, I ran in my first official Ironman event in Ironman Raleigh 70.3  which I blogged about HERE.

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I fulfilled a BUCKET LIST item in running the Marine Corps Marathon.

Running past The Capitol at Marine Corps Marathon 2013

Running past The Capitol at Marine Corps Marathon 2013

During the Marine Corps Marathon I carried my father’s and my Grandfather’s dogtags to celebrate their service. I am also carried my Grandfather’s Bronze Star, earned when he selflessly put himself in harms way in order to help the men with him. He was seriously wounded by a mortar shell that blew him off a telephone pole. Sadly the rest of his life was spent in an alcoholic rage that all too often was focused on those of us who were family. I knew my Grandfather by his first name, Charlie. From childhood, he told me to call him that. I believe Charlie suffered decades of untreated PTSD which led him to his ultimate self distruction . Back then the idea of mental treatment was not seen as ‘manly,’ it was seen as weakness. PTSD takes the lives of so many of our returning vets, no family should have to suffer a man like Charlie. Untreated PTSD ruins lives. Ride to Recovery is one of my favorite organizations which helps vets learn to deal with the ongoing issues which stem from PTSD. Like LIVESTRONG, they help the people their focus is on. Please consider a small donations to either of these truly worthwhile causes. I ran 26.2 miles for your entertainment, please show your support. 

My year ending marathon for the past few years has been The Space Coast Marathon for a few years now. This year started the Big Bang Series where for the next five years there are a total of SEVEN medals someone can collect for attending the event! Each of the medals celebrate a different Space Shuttle, all of which were launched from Kennedy Space Center at one point or another.

Seven medals in total for running only five marathons! BLING!

Seven medals in total for running only five marathons! BLING!

Check out the BLING!

Check out the BLING!

I also got to visit the Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center. It is AWESOME!!!

With Space Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center

With Space Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center

2013 had its challenges and its rewards. Lots of new things began while others have run their course and the time has come to move on. I am looking forward to 2014 and the adventure it brings.

iPod

Posted in Uncategorized on December 6, 2013 by roninsherpa

After 6 years, 6 marathons, 23,612 miles on a bicycle training for three Olympic triathlons and 1, 70.3  Half Ironman, 3 tropical storms, 1 full blown category 2 hurricane, one cross country move, 1 cross country move back, countless hours aboard a stationary bicycle, and untold endless hours as my sole companion during endless miles of life in the United States without a car…

my iPod has stopped working.

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Not bad for $35.00

aunt ellen…

Posted in Uncategorized on July 28, 2013 by roninsherpa

I’ve learned of my Aunt Ellen passing away. She was 80 years old. My Aunt Ellen was my fathers older sister and for most of my childhood she lived only a few miles from us with Uncle James. I remember she always had Juicy Fruit or Dubblemint gum. Their home was always a very special place for me when I was a child, their children were all grown or gone, and there were no toys to play with, but Aunt Ellen could always make things special. Her laugh was gentle and she was a loving, caring person. She had a white toy poodle named ‘Mitsy’ who was a part of the family. After the passing of my Uncle James some years ago, Aunt Ellen moved to Florida to be closer to her friends. After some time, years in fact, I heard of her dating someone. When she came to my fathers 70th birthday party and I noticed she was wearing a delicate silver ankle bracelet. I can only assume that her new boyfriend gave it to her. She seemed happier than I knew her to be in years. It seems she passed on in her sleep, while in the arms of the man she loved. We should all be so fortunate.

Writing about gum and dogs cannot express the loss my little world feels tonight. 

Because of her passing I am not able to attend Above and Beyond Cancer’s Million Dollar Marathon in Washington DC this week. My apologies to those who contributed expecting me to run the 104.8 miles I committed to running. There were quite a few people who had set aside time from their lives to make this event possible. I can not express enough gratitude toward their willingness to help me do something silly to raise money for Above and Beyond Cancer. Please watch this space as I intend another event of equal impact to satisfy your investments. The time to discuss that will come shortly. For now my family is celebrating the life and mourning the loss of our Aunt Ellen.

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My Ironman Raleigh 70.3

Posted in Uncategorized on June 2, 2013 by roninsherpa

The inaugural Ironman Raleigh 70.3 is now in the history books. I was fortunate to take part in this historic first ever Ironman event in North Carolina. I registered as early as I could, and the event sold out quickly. While I had registered as an individual I chose to convert my entry and join a team. I learned of two sisters who had both registered as individuals, but then both suffered injuries which would prevent them from doing the whole course. Because the event was sold out, a new third person could not be added and they had to find someone who would convert. I couldn’t resist the urge to save the damsels in distress.

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I’m Batman.

Through the wonder of technology, (and the internet) I was able to track the swim time almost instantly. Under 50 minutes and we were rocking! Now off to the bike. The split time would come at 26 miles.

My parents, excited to see me run my first official Ironman event, had come to watch. I made sure that they were in a good safe place and I went to T2. When I got there it was empty of any bikes.

At two hours and thirty three minutes into the race, I watched pro triathlete Greg Bennett dismount his bike and enter T2 in first place.

The Relay Teams had a special rack just beside the Run Out gate. I organized my little bag which held bananas, Gels, and enough Gatorade to make King Kong pee, and I chatted with the other Relay Teams. Two girls who all knew each other were on two different teams. A girl I went to high school with was waiting on her husband. A very tall dark headed kid who had already done the swim, was waiting on his father to come in on the bike and then the son would do the run. A man with a handlebar mustache waited on his friend. Time passed and someone checked the Ironman Raleigh Athlete tracker… One of their friends was doing 24mph and soon came and they swapped their timing chip and were off! Another person checked and their biker was doing 21mph and a little later they came in! The son and father switched and then Mr. Moustache came and went. Soooo…. That left a short woman dressed in blue and me. As we looked around, the entire transition area was full. There were no athletes in the transition area. None. Just bikes. Our conversation was about how we hopped nothing was wrong, and that no one had gotten hurt. Then her rider came and she was gone. That left me in T2 by myself. I asked an official when the transition area would be closing and he said 1:48pm because it had to do with the time of the last person out of the water. It was now 1:30…1:35…I was preparing myself for the disappointment of not being able to run, while also visualizing being compassionate toward someone who had not been able to ride the bike as well as she had hopped….1:40…1:45…1:46…1:47

She rounded the corner. I ran to her and said in as a controlled and nice of a manor as I could muster…”We have SECONDS left! Gimmie the thing!”

The crowd of blue shirted volunteers who I had chatted with all afternoon were screaming at me “Go! Hurry! Go! Go! Go!”

BEEEEP! BEEEEP! HOORAY! YEA! A cheer with raised hands and smiles went up from the blue shirted volunteers! The timing mat chimed me in and I was the last person out of Transition Area 2 for the 2013 Ironman Raleigh 70.3.

I’m Batman.

I knew the course, having ran it multiple times over the last few months. It was a steady uphill for just over 5 miles followed by some crazy short steep hills, and then a nice gradual downhill sprint to the Finish Line.

The outside temperature was around 87f. This is easily 15 degrees hotter than it was just two days ago, or all year for that matter. I knew my time would be affected by the heat. With the delay n starting the run, I was now running during the hottest part of the day frustrated, and my adrenaline was pumping by the gallon.

It took two miles to get my heart rate back down to where it needed to be. I had to stop and affix the timing chip to my ankle. It only took a second, but it took my momentum away. I calmed my racing mind and got back to my center.

The run up Hillsboro Street felt good, but hot. The hills roll up and up and up until you get to Meredith Collage. A blue shirt volunteer wearing a Viking helmet gave me a drink of ice water. I laughed about her Viking attire for the next two miles. On the back side of Meredith the hills become wickedly sharp and test anyone’s resolve to keep pace.

Once at the Art Museum, I was to do two laps to make up the last mile. The Art Museum has some rather odd sculptures in its yard, one looking like a persons rear end and legs made of stone, another looks like fried onion rings and a third looks remarkably like a big turd. Yes a turd. It could be a big brown corn cob, but it’s not. At this point on the course there were water sprayers misting water on you as you ran by. A little girl shot me with a Super Soaker full of ice water. It all felt great. Aid stations were handing out cups of ice and I took advantage by grabbing three and stacking them on top of each other. They were small cups but had quite a bit of ice in them.

On my second pass I saw a hawk on the big turd. Then I saw an athlete wearing a red tri top, step off the course just yards away from an aid station to sit on a bench by the rock booty/leg thing. He was so cooked he was choosing to sit instead of go to the aid station. His face was as red as his top. I veered into the grass and without loosing step said “Hey Ironman…” I held out one of the ice cups and he took it. “Thank you.“ he called but I didn’t stop. At the aid station I saw an EMT guy walking and I said “There’s a guy who may have heat stroke over on that bench” The EMT held up his hand and moved toward the guy’s direction.

I’m Batman.

I was off the nasty little sharp hills again. They are not long, the are just steep and enough to really mess with you. I shortened my stride, but kept running.

Viking Girl yelled at me when I passed back by her.

The rest of the run was gradually rolling downhill. My system was grab two ice waters, dump one on my head and sip the other until the next aid station. My time picked up. There were lots of people walking. I ran by them saying things like “You got this, Ironman” and “Leave it all out here” and “Come on, let’s go.”

The ice lowered my temperature and I felt great. My gait increased and I was within a mile of the Finish Line. The last half mile is a long strait street with the picturesque Capital Building behind you and the Finish Line ahead of you. There were thousands of people lining the street, thousands. All cheering and yelling. I zipped my top up, and pressed on. I could see a runner about 50 yards ahead of me. It was a woman. An elderly woman. She would enter the Finish Chute before me. I learned a long time ago, pay attention to who you are near at the Finish Line, they will be in your photo forever. I slowed my pace. The announcer called her name and said that she was 79 years old. How can you not respect that? 79 year old chic running an Ironman. That’s pretty bad ass. I slowed even more and pointed at her with a big grin. The crowd went wild for her. I had my moment in on the Finish Line and busted a Blazeman Roll across. The two sisters were there, we all got pictures, and our medals. Mom and Dad came and we all had a lovely little moment.

Ironman Raleigh 70.3 was fantastic. It was put on well, organized to perfection and brought off without a hitch. While I did not PR, I did help those two girls get their medals. I feel good about how I felt during the entire run and was in good enough sorts during most of my time on that course to give words of encouragement to others. I feel good that I was in the right place at the right time for the guy in red. On my run I was able to pass 142 people. I bettered our teams Finish by passing three of the other Relay Teams. I ranked in at 524th among the men. While it is not my best performance, I am glad to be able to have done it.

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I am Ironman…and Batman.

“What do you mean you are going to run 100 miles?!?! Are you crazy?”

Posted in Uncategorized on February 17, 2013 by roninsherpa

The conversation goes something like this:

Me: “I’m going to run 100 miles.”

Person X: “What do you mean you are going to run 100 miles?!?! Are you crazy?”

Me: “Yes, but it doesn’t bother me much.”

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In the past I have lead advocacy and awareness programs about how cancer affects us all, and what we can do about it. This summer, I will be taking part in the Million Dollar Marathon which is being organized and presented by Above + Beyond Cancer. Above + Beyond is a public charity that was organized in 2011 to elevate the lives of those touched by cancer. In 2013, the organization is focused on reducing new cancer cases and cancer recurrence through programs that emphasis diet and vigorous physical exercise.

This marathon will involve 160 runners, each taking their turn as we run across the US 26.2 miles at a time.

My goal is to complete four consecutive marathons in a row. It is a total of 104.8 miles. I will be starting in the Washington DC area and running east late in July.

Now’s normally where the “That boy’s crazy” part comes in.

Cancer is no joke, and you do not have to be crazy in order to get it. Cancer does not care what colour your skin is, who you pray to or if you have plans for the rest of your life. Cancer is a bastard and I am going to run it back to hell. I only ask you show your support for the crazy running man on my donation page.

While I have chosen to push myself past my known limits, into what I am sure will be a challenge, my goal is to motivate someone into action toward their own goals.

Billy Joel said it best:

Please visit my donation page and show your support. No donation is too small and all are tax deductable.

 

http://coasttocoastforcancer.org/RoninSherpa/

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