Movie: The International

I saw The International and was pleasantly surprised. The movie is about an Interpol agent trying to expose a bank’s role in an international arms dealing ring. It’s a bunch of people chasing each other. The U.S. DOJ is tracking down the Interpol agent. The Interpol agent is chasing the bankers. The NYPD team up with the Interpol agent and the DOJ at one point. The bankers are speaking with an African General, then later with a Middle East arms dealer. There’s also an Italian politician and an assassin involved.

What the movie lacked in substance, it more than made up for with its numerous sub-plots that came together as one. Despite the fact that the acting was suspect and the plot unbelievable, the movie submerged me in the plot quickly, and kept me interested throughout with action and pace.

My Information Experiment

A few years ago I heard that the most informed people were those who regularly watch the evening news – local and national. This came as a surprise to me, a guy thoroughly overwhelmed by hundreds of minute-by-minute RSS feed updates. I thought that I was surely the most up-to-date fellow around. But, I’ve never been able to get a solid grasp of “real” world news from online sources. Either I get overwhelmed by the amount of information or I get distracted by geek news and pictures.

So, two years after first learning that despite being highly tech savvy I was among the less-informed, I am going to undertake an experiment and get my news from three different sources each of three months.

March: I will read one local and one national newspapers daily for one month. I will do my best to avoid both online and television news.

April: I will watch the local and national news daily, avoiding newspapers and online news.

May: I will read online news (sources TBD), avoiding tv news and newspapers.

My prediction is that if I can make/find the time to read the newspapers, I’ll be most informed during March. Least informed in May.

I’ll post my thoughts at the end of each month and a conclusion in June.

The iPhone: This Generation’s Polaroid Camera

Mobile phone photography is instant and everywhere, easily shared, often quirky, and always of suspect quality. Sounds a lot like many of the Polaroid photographs I’ve seen. Even better is that I don’t have to buy film or pay for processing when taking pictures with my iPhone.

I frequently use my iPhone to capture discrete and fleeting moments that would, otherwise, be awkward to photograph with my DSLR or even a point-and-shoot. Often my hand shakes. The lighting is never perfect – usually too dark. Sometimes the iPhone camera quirks and produces a fractured or smudged photo. You would think these imperfections would detract from the photos, but when I view my mobile photos collectively with a macro-mindset their unparalleled character comes into focus.

Spontaneous. Fun. Unpredictable. Click here to see my iPhone photographs.

Tiger Returns

Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour today and tees off at 2:02p. I have been looking forward to his return for months. The PGA Tour is just not the same without him – either because he draws interest or people just want to be interested in him.

From what I’ve seen and heard on the Golf Chanel and ESPN, it looks like he’s ready. The commentators are professing that they’ll be surprised if Woods doesn’t win. I feel the same way. Last time he took a break to fix the knee, he won… The 2008 U.S. Open! A couple years before that, when he took time to drain the knee, he returned and won at Torrey Pines.

The choice to return in a match play tournament was a wise one. Match play is a different beast than stroke play. Unlike stroke play, match play allows you to have a bad hole and not have to dig your way out of it stroke by stroke. If Tiger is at all inconsistent, he’ll appreciate the chance to throw away a few holes. Further, unlike stroke play, match play is more emotional. Tiger can better scrap out a win against a feisty opponent. Finally, if Woods is ousted early he’ll be disappointed, but no to the degree of a missed cut.

There’s a lot to watch for today at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. And when it’s done we’ll still get to look forward to Tiger’s stroke play debut. Bam. Bam. Boom!

My bracket for this tournament.

I am here because…

In working on a cover letter it dawned on me that there is much more to who I am, where I am, and how I’ve arrived at this stage of my life than my academic and vocational accomplishments. The formality of a cover letter – especially one targeted to lawyers conducting serious business at prestigious firms – is constricting. Thankfully, my blog is none of those things! So, what I have to say follows.

I was born in the cherry capital of the world to the two greatest parents in the universe. I am here because I watched hours of Voltron and Thundercats, experienced the creative wonders of Disney World at an early age, and learned hockey stickhandling from Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe. I am here because I spent every spare second from my 9th birthday through the beginning of college consumed by the sport of golf, which taught me the value of patience, brutal honesty, and friendship. I am who I am because of the many wonderful people who have been kind enough to say hello to me when I was too shy to say hello to them and because of the few great friends I’ve had over the years and because of the girls with whom I’ve fallen in and out of love. I am here because my sister has made me laugh, inspired me and nudged me in the right direction.

I built monsters and houses from LEGOS and Lincoln Logs. Refrigerator boxes became spaceships. Summer days ran until dusk then darkness. I fell down, then stood up again. Those hours of sax practice – or the lack thereof – are not lost on me. I will never forget the dinners at Mabel’s. I studied economics in college while wishing I was a writer. When not writing and reading, I played poker with friends until the sunrise. Law school has been a good excuse to explore New England, a place that reminds me of home. And a reminder of home is always a good thing.

I am here in Concord, New Hampshire two months away from graduation to the next phase of my life because I’ve done a million different things in my past. I have a feeling, regardless of how I package who I am on this cover letter, it will matter more that I’ve been where I’ve been, seen what I’ve seen, and met the people I’ve met.

Here’s to the next step – the great beyond. I love looking back, but I have to move forward. There’s a ways to go.

My Oscars 2009 Predictions

This year marks the 81st Oscars. I was born in 1981. I believe that makes me more than qualified to spout my predictions for this Sunday’s awards show.

Here’s a semi-complete list of movies I saw in theaters in 2008. Missing are the Best Picture contenders. I’ve seen three of the five.

My predictions are as follows. The selections above the line are educated guesses. Those below the line are pure guesses. I have not read the predictions that were leaked online, nor have I read many other published predictions. I’ve seen all of the movies to which the above-the-line nominations apply, except The Reader (Actress: Kate Winslet).

Actor: Frank Langella
Supporting actor: Heath Ledger
Actress: Kate Winslet
Supporting actress: Penélope Cruz
Animated feature film: Wall-E
Best picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Art direction: Benjamin Button
Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
Costume design: Benjamin Button
Directing: Frost-Nixon
Documentary feature: Man on Wire
Documentary short: The Final Inch
Film editing: The Dark Knight
Foreign language film: The Class
Makeup: The Dark Knight
Music (score): Benjamin Button
Music (song): Wall-E
Short film (animated): Presto
Short film (live action): New Boy
Sound editing: Iron Man
Sound mixing: The Dark Knight
Visual effects: Benjamin Button
Writing (adapted screenplay): Benjamin Button
Writing (original screenplay): Milk

Book: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Last fall I read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running ( hereafter “Running“) by Haruki Murakami. It’s a small book with nicely spaced lines of text. A quick read.

As you may well imagine, even before you open the yellow and red cover, Running is neither a running or writing book. It is about life. Murakami talks of owning a jazz bar in Tokyo in the 1960s. And hating it, but working hard. One day he decides to write a novel, submits it and wins a prize. His life begins as a novelist when he sells the bar and turns his full attention to writing. His writing success continues, but is secondary to his discussions of running. Murakami credits running for his writing success. He draws many similarities between the two pursuits. The solitary approach required by each. The pain of each. The decision to not suffer. The focus required.

Running provides a practical approach to life. Murakami talks of struggling with his slowing marathon time. Training harder, longer, or differently does not help. He is simply growing old and slowing down. He acknowledges that this doesn’t translate to writing. That writers peak at varying ages.

The bottom line is that to be successful running a bar, writing fiction, or running marathons, he has to work hard and be extremely focused.