One Month At A Time

October Films! “The Devil’s Candy”

I’ve got a bit of a backlog of movies to report on. There’s been some time to watch spooky stuff, but not much time to write about it.

“The Devil’s Candy” is a film that has come up a couple of times on Facebook. A few of my Facebook pals have spoken highly of it. So, sure, I decided to give it a try.

Released in 2015, the film stars Ethan Embry, an actor I remember from the 90s films “Can’t Hardly Wait,” “That Thing You Do,” and “Empire Records.”

He was also in “Dutch.”

I remember him as kind of a wide-eyed, sort of goofy, but generally likeable character actor, but I lost track of him somewhere around 2000, where he moved on to more serious stuff.

With the stringy blond hair, ragged beard and tattoos, Embry is barely recognizable as the approaching middle-age metal-head father and painter, Jesse Hellman, in “The Devil’s Candy,” though his character has some of the same earnestness that you see in his earlier work.

The story revolves around Jesse, his wife and daughter moving into an old house with a bad history. The previous owners died –apparently by accident, everyone in the film believes (though we know different).

It’s a nice house and “Gee, wouldn’t it be a shame to let the place go to waste just because of a couple of dead people?”

This all seems like stupid horror film logic, but then again, I’ve been through the whole home buying process. When you’re looking for some place half decent that’s in your budget, you’re willing to put up with a lot.

I’d be OK with some dead people just to have some better windows. Cultists could definitely have tried to call up C’thulhu at some point, if it would have knocked a hundred bucks a month off my mortgage.

It beats renting.

Boiled down, the thread of “Hard Candy” follows bad things are happening, a reluctant serial killer serves the devil, loiters around the family home, which used to belong to his parents.

The cops know about the serial killer, of course, but seem to figure that it was just a phase, something he did when he was a kid, but he’s fine now, except for creeping everyone out.

Then things get worse. People die. There is some teen angst and Mom isn’t a huge fan of heavy metal music for some reason, though she’s married to a guy who looks he’s a roadie for Slayer.

How does that even happen?

“The Devil’s Candy” is fun, but it is also a mess. There’s a vein of demon possession or demonic influence that may be connected to the house, to Pruitt Taylor Vince’s tortured serial killer character or even to Jesse, but then there’s the issue with the painting Embry’s character is working on.

Is it prophesy, a warning, a love letter from hell?

Who can say? Maybe all three. Maybe something else.

And what’s the deal with the art dealer (played by an uncredited F. Murray Abraham) named Belial, who shows up to maybe tempt Jesse?

Thanks to a good long time spent playing “Dungeons and Dragons,” I know the name Belial belongs to a Duke of Hell. So all the hours spent reading the “Monster Manual II” during high school weren’t wasted.

Abraham is there, he pours a couple of drinks, and splits without accomplishing a lot, except maybe saying again that the devil is involved with Jesse on a very personal level.

It has to be the name, Jesse Hellman. He’s Hell’s man, get it?

Anyway, the ending almost feels like something out of a Kirk Cameron film. I wasn’t satisfied with it and felt like it was a cop out.

As I said, “The Devil’s Candy” is fun, but not particularly smart. The acting is good, even if the story could have used some fine tuning.

You can find “The Devil’s Candy” on Netflix.

Updates and a Spartan Race setback

are-fritos-veganUnfortunately, I didn’t make it out to run this morning. I ran into some trouble with my kid’s summer camp and had to run back to the house to find my checkbook.

So, we’ll try to get some time on the road later today or tack it on tomorrow. I really can’t skip the running.

Since there’s been kind of a lag between when I was last active with the blog, now seemed like a good time to update on a few past projects, some of which are still active.

While I’m not a full-on vegan these days, I am a vegetarian who leans vegan. Basically, I avoid animal products when I can, but accept that if I’m someplace where “clean” foods aren’t available, I go along with things that have eggs or dairy.

I will have a slice of pizza at the office, have a piece of chocolate or maybe get a donut every once in a while, but otherwise just leave it alone.

I probably have something with eggs or milk in it two or three times in a week.

I am still taking self defense classes at the Butch Hiles gym in Charleston. Over the last six months, I’ve gotten better at throwing a punch and learned a lot about getting out of several holds, while also horribly crippling your attacker.

That is the magic of Krav Maga.

I had a good time at the FOOTMAD contra dance in February when I was studying all things Celtic (well, mostly things Scottish) and went back. It’s a pretty good time, actually.

I have not, however, continued with learning the bagpipes or worn a kilt since. Everyone is happy about that, I think.

I am still a member of the Kanawha Kordsmen, which surprised them as much as it did me.

Since my performance with them in Cleveland back in April, I have continued to go to rehearsals pretty regularly, learned the words to a couple of songs and performed with them again during FestivALL.

They have been amazingly kind and welcoming.

I’m still not very good. I don’t have much range, but I think I’m getting better (slowly), and it’s great fun.

 

Spartan Race training

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It was a weird way to spend my birthday.

June 18 (contrary to what Facebook says) I turned 47 and went over to the University of Charleston for a Spartan Race workout.

My race is coming up August 26 (now, just two months away) and I’m getting nervous about it. So far, I’ve read two books on the subject, but only have a general idea of what to expect, based largely on a few stories from very, very fit people who’ve attended a few of them.

So, I went because I wanted to see what kind of exercises would help and also see what kind of people do Spartan Races.

I learned a little –how to do a proper Spartan burpee, for example. I also saw people who will probably ace the West Virginia race in August. They seemed superhumanly fit, like the kind of people who wear spandex and fight crime on the cover of comic books.

But I also saw some people like me –not in terrible shape, but not really ready to run 15 miles while climbing walls, jumping over hot coals or crawling under barbed wire.

It was one of the most vigorous 90 minutes I think I’ve put myself through. I drank three bottles of water while on UC’s lawn overlooking the river and had a fourth one in the car.

I figure I got my money’s worth for the class. Ten bucks netted me a t-shirt, four bottles of water and about 10 Cliff bars.

I also met a woman with MS who told me she’d done six Trifectas –that’s when you do a sprint, a super and a beast race within a year or so.

The beast is usually a 13-15 mile race. She said she did a beast in New Jersey last year and with her illness, it took her 13 hours to complete, but she finished.

“A lot of people got a DNF –a Did Not Finish,” she said. “I didn’t quit.”

I took a lot of encouragement from that.

If she can do it in 13 hours, I can do it in 13 hours.

But I hope I can get it done a little faster than that, get home and maybe watch a lot of Netflix while eating my weight in Fritos.

This is the dream.

I didn’t do much in the way of exercise for the week following my birthday. I slacked off and focused on my upcoming show at The Comedy Zone, but I’m back at it today. I did a bunch of new exercises that are supposed to help me get ready and I’m going to do a betterĀ  job of watching what I eat.

Tomorrow, I’m going to try to run/walk five miles before work. There’s no way that’s not going to suck. Tomorrow’s post will be all about the bellyaching.

 

Kilt Run update

Training for the Celtic Calling’s Kilt Run has been a little slow –slow enough that I figure I’ll be taking the two-mile Kilt Walk option, which may probably include some light Kilt jogging.

I’m a little disappointed, but the Kilt Run was supposed to be the first step toward the Spartan Race coming up in August –and I cannot complete a full mile without stopping.

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Getting your running legs back takes longer when you’re 46 instead of 15 maybe. Also, while I was making some progress the first couple of weeks, I slacked off last week.

I just didn’t get out on the practice field and run laps.

ymca-field
A safe place to go where the other runners won’t laugh at you.

I’ll get back to it this week, which probably won’t help much for Saturday’s run, but this is all a process. I get that.

My time is limited.

I now have just six months to get myself up to running 14 miles and capable of leaping over fire or fighting dinosaurs or whatever it is they’re putting out there for the Spartan Race.

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I have no idea how you train to deal with this.

I haven’t looked too deeply. Why spoil the surprise?

In the meantime, I’ve subscribed to an email newsletter that’s supposed to provide me with workout tips and things to help me prepare.

I haven’t actually opened in any of these emails, but it’s a process, right? One step at a time.

Celtic Movies #2: Rob Roy

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.”

rob-royReleased 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.

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I’ve seen the future and it works…

 

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.

samuel-l-jackson
There really isn’t a movie, Samuel Jackson doesn’t improve.

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.

Back to the library for me.

February: Spartan Training

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.

are-fritos-vegan
My love for these corn chips cannot be overstated.

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.

ymca-field
A nice, dull place for a run. Perfect and flat.

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.

spartan

Back in the saddle

It’s been a while since I posted anything on the blog. There are a million reasons why I stopped, but the biggest reason was that I just needed a break.

“One Month at a Time” has been an amazing experience. Even when I haven’t enjoyed a particular thing I’ve done, I’ve enjoyed being a part of it, but it’s a lot.

Through October, it always felt like I was running somewhere or trying to cram one more thing into my day. It didn’t really slow down through the holidays either -and it felt good to just stop for a minute, slack off a little bit.

I might have come back sooner, but I forgot the password for this thing and finally had to ask somebody what it was.

Aa couple of months seems like a long enough time to take a break. I’m already back to work with “One Month at a Time.” January finished up Sunday. I completed my month of self-defense classes with maybe a broader understanding of what it means to choose to learn something like that.

I may write a little more about that on the blog since I’m currently still taking classes at Butch Hiles Brazillian Jujitsu and Mixed Martial Arts.

I’m also about five days into my next topic. More about that this weekend. I also have the following month locked down and a thumbnail sketch of things I might take on over the remainder of the year.

Basically, emails have been sent and I’m waiting to see if anybody bites –but it’s not all settled.

My wish list of stuff to do is long, but I’m always glad to hear a better idea. If you have an idea that sounds workable, let me know.

I will consider just about anything.

As far as updates –am I still a vegan?

Sort of. The working term I use is “veganish,” which I totally stole from the cover of a cookbook.

In the month since I finished up my year with being a vegan, I’ve had a few things outside of a vegan diet, but a lot less than I would have imagined a year ago.

I had some chocolate, which contains dairy. I’ve eaten two chocolate chip cookies and five pancakes, which were awesome.

I didn’t worry about the tablespoon of cheese on a mound of refried beans at a Mexican restaurant and had the vegetarian option at Bluegrass Kitchen, which wasn’t vegan.

There are probably a couple of other instances, but I don’t buy meat or meat products to take home.

I’m perfectly fine.

With other projects -I’m still reading about self-sufficiency and planning a big garden in the spring. It seems like a good time to do that.

I also got an Eton American Red Cross weather radio –found it on clearance for 9 bucks. It goes with the rest of my “prepper-lite” gear, along with the camp stove and a solar lantern.

I’m hoping to get into a half-triathlon in 2017, which means some training.

I’m also planning on returning to the Charleston Ballet next fall to be part of their production of “The Nutcracker” again. I didn’t even delete the video of the dance steps from my phone.

So, here we go again. More blogging. It’s good to be back.

Triathlon: Gu!

With the upcoming race, the subject of eating has come up.

While my race isn’t all that long compared to an Iron Man, it’s long enough. It’s been suggested that it wouldn’t hurt to have something between the bicycle portion and the running race (only a dork eats in the pool).

The problem is: I can’t eat and run.

I’ve tried, but even a piece of toast is too heavy for my stomach. It becomes something that restricts my breathing and makes running longer than 200 yards next to impossible.

So, I don’t eat, but with the swimming, biking and running, there’s a good chance I could “bonk,” become light-headed and groggy, which isn’t good either.

Probably, if I was a lighter American and not wildly overweight, I could handle a short sprint triathlon with nothing more than a mineral water and a stick of gum, but I’m an ox.

So, I began looking into things I could take along –and discovered GU.

GU is basically a flavored sugar gel that also contains amino acids and probably caffeine.

allgu

I hit up the Cycle Shop in Kanawha City and bought three different types to try out. The idea was that I could give them each a shot and then hopefully have one or two to choose from on race day.

First, the good news: They’re all vegan, including the maple bacon.

Second, the bad news: There’s a reason they come in opaque packages. You don’t want to look at this stuff.

On the charitable side, it looks a little like shampoo. On the uncharitable side, just don’t look at it.

gu1

Of the three, the peanut butter tasted the best. It tasted a little like some kind of peanut candy, but it contains no caffeine.

Also, I couldn’t tell if it improved or assisted my performance since I wasn’t actually training, but typing in the newsroom. I did like the flavor, however. It was yummy.

gu2

The maple bacon was a novelty. I haven’t actually tasted bacon since December, and Andrew at the bicycle shop sort of warned me about this one. He said, “If you can think of it as like wine tasting. It’s very up front with the maple and then the bacon is at the end.”

I didn’t taste a lot of bacon.

And after a short while, I felt vaguely angry. That could have been the 20 mg of caffeine talking, but that’s barely half a cup of coffee.

I wasn’t overly impressed.

gu3

The Tri-Berry was highly recommended. My triathlon mentors seemed to like it, but it tasted like candy with a vague chemical aftertaste –sort of like Runts, maybe.

Unlike the maple bacon, it didn’t fill me with hate.

That was a bonus.

So, I figure I’ll bring along the peanut butter and the Tri-Berry, in case I need a bigger pick me up than just some sugar and peanut goodness.

If I do something like this again, I’ll look into some of the other flavors –you know, after I get a better bike.

Here’s another blog post from June’s unplugged experience.

 

Lynch list2

Throw Back Thursday: Dispatches from the dark

After a long break, we’re back in the blogging business.

Here are a couple of “official” blog posts I did while I was unplugged in June.

Thanks again to Sullivan’s Records and Bluegrass Kitchen for putting up with my nonsense (though not a lot. I only wrote four posts by hand)

It seemed like I should have shared this earlier, but meh… triathlon training is hard.

To put it in perspective, I started blogging late. Mostly, because in the beginning, I wasn’t sleeping particularly well.

 

one month-blog3

 

Here’s another:

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