Through the month of February, I’m studying (celebrating) all things Celtic (mostly, Scottish) and have been watching films related to Scotland (sort of).
My second film was “Rob Roy” with Qui-Gon Ginn and that lady who escaped from off the set of “American Horror Story.”
Released in 1995 (near the same time as “Braveheart”), the film was more mining of Scottish history, this time about Rob Roy MacGregor, who gets tangled up in debt over some cows and Tim Roth in drag, which was totally cool in the 1700s.
It even wastes the usually very decent John Hurt (Still awesome in “Alien” and as Caligula in “I, Claudius”), who tends to elevate whatever crap thing he’s signed on for (Does anyone remember “King Ralph?”)
Ugh…I hated this movie.
To me, it was like the worst parts of “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and something the BBC abandoned to spend on “Dr. Who” episodes instead.
Lord, this thing dragged and within 30 minutes, I wasn’t particularly interested in what happened to the MacGregors, Lord Montrose, Archibald Cunningham or the whole of Scotland –though I did see the point of those weird sashes that come with some kilts (SPOILER: They can be used as a kind of snuggie).
Based on material gleaned from Wikipedia, “Rob Roy” was a much more true-to-history tale than “Braveheart,” but that’s not saying much. Episodes of “Quantum Leap” were more truthful to history, even if you forgot about the invisible guy in the bad suits wandering around.
For me, the only bright spot was the hope that after Roth and Eric Stolz, a few more actors from “Pulp Fiction” to show up, waving swords and promising to go medieval and someone’s butt, but alas no John Travolta and no Samuel L. Jackson.
Anyway, I muscled through “Rob Roy” for another hour, but realized it wasn’t getting any better. So, I quit and watched an episode of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” which has nothing to do with Scotland, though I suspect Neil Patrick Harris has probably vacationed there.
Over the next couple of weeks, while I’m trying to immerse myself in all things Celtic (mostly Scottish), I’ll be watching whatever Scottish-related films I can get my hands on.
The first was a re-watching of “Braveheart,” the 1995 film that kind of made Mel Gibson more than your basic action star. The movie was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won five, including best picture and best director.
Based very loosely on the legend of Scottish bada$$ William Wallace, who raised an army and fought the English, the film was wildly controversial in Scotland for it’s mendacious mangling of history for the sake of cinema.
Also, nobody liked Mel’s accent, which does tend to slip in and out, but in all fairness, he’s an American from Australia trying to sound like a Scotsman. He was doomed from the start.
Still, horrible abuse of Scottish history or not, Scottish tourism embraced the film with both arms for a while, offered tours and there was even a statue erected somewhere that looked a lot like Mel Gibson.
The locals hated it, but people kept spending money.
In looking at the film all over, I was reminded that Mel Gibson has a tendency toward gore that almost turns comic. Fights in the film often go well over the top with a variety of impalings, limbs being lopped off and gallons of blood flowing in every direction.
Even with some betrayals on the side of the Scottish cause, the film scans as very black and white. The English are universally horrible. The Scottish commoners are all noble and earnest, even if their leaders are kind of slimy opportunists.
I’m not fond of the characterization of King Edward’s son, who is clearly portrayed as effeminate, craven and gay for the sake of contrasting him with his severe, alpha male father and giving the audience another reason to dislike him –but blockbuster films of the time, of which this one was, tended to paint in broad, dumb strokes.
Also, it’s not a true to the man. According to history, the guy with the boyfriend who gets tossed out a window (SPOILER) had five kids by two women, which doesn’t absolutely say he wasn’t gay, but might be evidence that he didn’t loathe the company of women.
Still, overall, “Braveheart” is a good action epic that has held up fairly well over the last 20 years, even if Gibson’s career hasn’t. It’s more fun than pretty much everything Michael Bay ever released, even if the film isn’t as accurate as an episode of “Drunk History.”
“Braveheart” looks great, has all the excitement of a big, popcorn-munching film and has some heart.
I did my first bit of running in preparation for the Spartan Race this week. On the advise of my father, a retired cross country and track coach, I decided to run on gentle terrain as opposed to pavement.
I’m currently around 235 pounds, which is heavy for any runner on two legs.
The weight is going to have to come way down if I want to survive even just the training –and the sooner, the better, really.
I’m adjusting my diet as best I can –for me, this mostly means laying off the bread, veggie burgers and Fritos.
For my first day of training, I opted to run on the soccer field at the YMCA in Charleston. With it being winter and a Sunday, no one was using it. The sky was bright, but it was was a little cold. Even the clutch of surly teenagers I saw blowing off their afternoon by swearing at each other and making out with their girlfriends stayed close to the building rather than sneak off to the relative seclusion of the practice field.
This suited me fine. I didn’t really want a lot of company and I expected my first outing to be kind of sad. The last thing my ego needed was a group of 15-year-olds laughing at me.
I got enough of that when I was 15.
While dodging deer poop (the Y has the same problem I have at my house), I managed to put in 12 laps or around 30 minutes of exercise. I ran the first two laps then alternated between walking and running laps.
I’m not a hundred percent sure how long all of that was, but at a guess, probably somewhere between a mile and a mile and a half.
I wheezed like a two pack a day smoker and threw up at my car when I finished for the day, but it happened. I started.
I came back for a second run Monday morning, after my usual workout inside the Y. I did about eight laps on the practice field, but ran about 2/3. I’d have done more, but I was starting to feel weak.
Breakfast had been a vegan protein shake and some coffee a couple of hours before.
My plan is to just do this over and over for a while –run laps around the soccer field and then eventually work up to another course. Maybe in a few weeks, I’ll try running along the river.
Some friends have suggested I should find a trainer or join Crossfit, but there really isn’t a budget for that and it’s probably too soon.
What I can do now is get my running up to speed –shoot for steady gains. There’s no point really thinking about how I’m going to jump over fiery pits, dodge vampire bats or crawl under barbed wire if I can’t physically handle 12 to 14 miles of just running.
Besides, the hope is that the years of strength training will count for something. It’s a hope. I have a long way to go.
When I started the second season of “One Month at a Time” I felt like I needed an a new theme (that’s the whole fighting thing, which isn’t just fighting with your fists) and I wanted to do a couple of things that might actually take longer than a month.
The idea for my first planned big challenge/adventure sort of showed up while I was looking at stuff related to my February project (for those of you who haven’t guessed, I’m studying up on all things Celtic) I found the Celtic Calling’s Kilt Run. I thought, “Well, that sounds like a bad idea and not something I want to do. I should totally do that.”
This is how my process works more times than not.
Yes, this is a little self-destructive.
Anyway, while considering how best to proceed with a 5K race (I don’t really run), I got my first big project –and it’s going to be a lot to learn about. Hoo-boy and I have a long way to go.
I could be all coy and try to tease this, but jeez… nobody is really reading this blog anyway. So, it’s like a confessional thing.
In August, I will be participating in the Spartan Run at Summit Bechtel Reserve.
The plan is for me to run the Super Beast race, which is described as 12 to 14 miles and involves a bunch of obstacles.
I’m registered, insured and committed to doing this.
What I am not is ready to compete. I’m in no kind of physical shape to do this race. After my mini-triathlon training in July, I slacked off the running, swimming and biking. My season was done, but in order to do this I’ve got to get into crazy shape.
So, this is my big project for the next six months.