This weekend, Mom and I (and Audrey and July) traveled north to Copperhill, TN, where we watched the Great American Eclipse of 2017 from the parking lot of the First United Methodist Church.
We had intended to watch from McCaysville, GA, where my grandfather once considered buying a grocery store. The GA/TN state line bisects the town into McCaysville and Copperhill. Bother were in the path of totality, and since the sun didn't care which side we were on, we didn't either.
If you didn't see the eclipse in totality, know that the first thing that happens as the sun disappears is that the temperature of the light gets wrong, like a failing fluorescent light. Gradually it gets darker (and cooler), until it looks (and feels) like twilight. Then the sun disappears, and you can take off your sun glasses and see some of the brighter stars.
Here are some pics I took of the process about 5 minutes apart. The final pic is during the blackout. (Note that Mom is looking at me, not the sun. The steeple shadow will give you an idea where in the sky the sun was.)
(Also note that the light on the right side of the building in the third pic came from the two streetlights which switched on just before totality. Mom's not in that last pic because she had moved over here.)
I do not have a picture of eclipse itself. My camera wasn't up to the task. You can see plenty of better pics elsewhere. It's not like true night. Despite what you see in photographs, the sky never really goes black. It turns a beautiful shade of royal blue, and the sun's corona is clearly visible as a white halo.
Some call it "unbelievable" or "miraculous." I wouldn't use either word. But it is pretty cool looking. And it's certainly worth a look in person if you get a chance.
Some of the movies I watch deserve extra attention.
114. (1173.) Aloha (2015)
This is not one of them.
Aloha is the worst kind of films, the kind that is almost great but misses the mark. The cast is particularly stellar — Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, Jon Krasinski, Danny McBride, Alec Baldwin; a real murders' row. However, the scriptwriter and the director let them down. Unfortunately, they were the same person. Cameron Crowe has made some great films in his day (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, Say Anything...). As I said, this is not one of them.
The first act is abysmally bad, underserving all characters and telegraphing the end. It's bad enough that Stone is supposed to be playing a Hawaiian. Worse, romantic leads Stone and Cooper have no real screen chemistry. Cooper gets along much better with McAdams, and this supposed "romantic" comedy suffers for that misplaced relationship.
Those problems are just the tip of this iceberg. Bill Murray's part was written as a Bond villain. Krasinski is playing a walking plot device and isn't even given any lines. The "space" elements are entirely pointless, and when the second act ends, the audience is given no context to understand what they're seeing on screen. Like I said, it's bad.
There are hints here of a better movie peeking out. If the Hawaiian lore had been handled more subtly, if the criticism of the civilian corruption of the military-industrial complex had been given more attention, if the characters were developed more organically . . . . There's a good movie under here somewhere. Too bad no one got to see it.
As I said, this movie doesn't deserve this much attention. If you haven't guessed by now, the real reason for this post is to explain that I'm now missing only 3 movies on my Emma Stone career checklist (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, 2009; Magic in the Moonlight, 2014; and Irrational Man, 2015).
Gotta watch 'em all! Even the bad ones.
I just saw NBC's Chuck Todd say that the President's determination in insisting that "many sides" were culpable in the disaster that was Charlottesville this past weekend robs the Office of the President of its "moral authority."
The current president never had any moral authority. He insults people left and right, usually for nothing more than disagreeing with him. He laughed at American P.O.W.s. He bragged about sexual assault. He openly encouraged violence and intolerance. He lied constantly about everything. And that was all before he got into office.
What's he done since then to reclaim the moral high ground? He has tried to sabotage a federal investigation into a foreign government's role in his own election. He constantly attacks the integrity of his own hand-picked staff. He talks trash to Boy Scouts. He openly encourages violence and intolerance. He lies constantly about everything. Is refusing to abide by the Emoluments clause in the Constitution he swore to uphold supposed to be moral?
No, Chuck Todd. The man in the White House didn't lose any moral authority over Charlottesville. He didn't have any to lose. You can't go down from nothing.
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Two weeks ago, I was excited about the coming NFL season. The Miami Dolphins had a good year last year, making the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade. This year, with a rehabilitated quarterback, an up-and-coming sophomore running back, and an improved defense, the team was poised for better things. What a difference a couple of weeks can make.
Since camp started, the Dolphins have placed their starting running back into the concussion protocol, struggled to replace their re-damaged quarterback, and watched helplessly as the linebacking core has collapsed to season-ending injuries one member at a time. All is not sunny in Miami, Florida.
I'm especially disheartened by the signing of Jay Cutler. This shows that management doesn't believe existing backup Matt Moore, quarterback for the last four games last season, can carry the load. However, it's not like Cutler is an ox himself. He hasn't completed a full season since 2009. He had shoulder surgery in December and had retired from the sport after being cut by the Bears and having no other team in the league express interest. Oh, boy.
(I admit my bias here. I thought Cutler was going to be something special coming out of Vanderbilt. But his career — hindered by constant coaching changes, disruptive teammates, a litany of ailments, and a standoffish personality — has been . . . lackluster. And now he's the latest in a long line of disappointing Dolphin QBs to succeed Emperor Marino.)
Last year, the Dolphins were only as good as the health of their offensive line. While that's always true for every team, the Dolphins had it especially tough, managing only 4 games with all starters in play. The team hoped to be better in 2017 with the benefit of experience and extra depth, but that won't make much difference if no one is standing behind the center.
If you've visited this blog in the past week, you've heard about "the accident." (The car has now been totaled, by the way. Totaled by a trailer! They don't make 'em like the used to.)
Anyway, the whole reason Mom and I were in South Carolina was because we were traveling home from our trip to the first practice round at the 2017 PGA Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This year's tournament is being held at Quail Hollow, about 10 miles from downtown. We stayed downtown on Sunday night and took a 45-minute light rail and bus trip to the the course on Monday morning. The forecast called for rain, and rain it did. When we finally reached the course, it was soaking wet.
I'm no golfer, so I can't really relate to the course as a playing field for sport. And it's concessions didn't hold a candle to the delicious fare served at The Masters in Augusta. However, I do enjoy a good walk in a well-manicured park. The course was beautiful, and despite the overcast sky, we saw plenty of stars.
For those of you unfamiliar with the big name golfers, that's Rickie Fowler swinging the club above. We also spied Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Brooks Koepka (who I've called "Cupcake" ever since hearing someone else refer to him as such in Augusta), and more. Rory McIlroy was particularly impressive, not because of his play, but because immediately after completing the course, he spent a very, very long time signing an autograph for every kid who wanted one. It's always heartening to see a pro player appreciating his fans.
All in all, it was a good trip. I think Mom enjoyed herself, and that was really the point. (They were her tickets, after all.) I think she'd do it again.
Well, most of it.
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