Movie Trifecta

We don’t usually manage to get to movies much, as they require we be at a specific place at a specific time for two plus hours, and that is usually too much for our schedule to accommodate.  Even when we get to the movie theatre, we rarely see anything that is not PG-13 or below.  However, yesterday was certainly a bonanza of movie riches.

We took our teenage daughter to see the new James Bond movie, Skyfall.  I am generally a big fan of James Bond movies, and Skyfall was certainly the best Bond movie I’ve seen in several years.  Typically the formula is:  unbelievable action scenes + cool gadgets + beautiful women in various states of undress = successful Bond movie.  Skyfall, however, was a much deeper and more nuanced movie than the typical Bond movie.  It delves into Bond’s past and is a rich (if understated in a typical British way) exploration of the relationship between M and Bond.  Javier Bardem is indescribably creepy as the villain.  The action scenes were excellent, but there is surprisingly little sex (for a Bond movie).  The movie also contains a nice commentary of old-fashioned action versus new-fangled technology.  All in all, it is a more mature and cerebral Bond movie than most.  And while Sean Connery remains my favorite James Bond, Daniel Craig is a worthy successor.  It’s rated PG-13, which is a fair rating.

The kids also saw Wreck-it Ralph, although publicly, we have to say that our daughter didn’t want to see it but agreed to babysit our son through the film.  They both liked it well enough, although our son was much more enthusiastic about it.  I suspect the movie’s target audience is tweens and younger.  Jim and I do want to see it ourselves, but it may have to wait until it comes out on DVD.  The movie is rated PG.

The final movie Jim and I saw was Argo.  The movie is rated R (mostly for use of the “F” word, although, similar to The King’s Speech, the language used is purposeful and not gratuitous).  We plan to take our daughter to see it despite the rating.  It is an excellent movie.  Even though you know how the movie will end, the tension and suspense is overwhelming.  The scenes when they are trying to leave Iran are extremely intense and well-done.  There is some violence (e.g. a man getting shot; mock executions), but most of the violence and threat of violence are implied.  Interestingly enough, it is a surprisingly apolitical movie for a movie that has strong political origins.  I highly recommend seeing it!

Best Buddies Miami

We took the kids with us and spent this past weekend in Miami where we attended the Best Buddies Miami gala.  Best Buddies ( is an organization that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by providing them opportunities for friendship, employment assistance, and leadership training.  We’ve been involved with the organization since 1994, and it remains one of our favorite charities because of the tremendous work it does to assist one of the most marginalized groups in our country and in the world.

The Miami gala is one of our favorite events every year, partially because there are very few cities that have better people-watching than Miami.  This year’s gala did not disappoint.  It was held at Marlins Stadium ($350 million of public funding at work!), and Far East Movement performed.  (I have to digress here and mention that the parents of the Asian musicians in this band must be so proud.  It’s just what every immigrant parent dreams their child will grow up and be—a hiphop star.)  And rather than describe the many outfits that left very little to the imagination, you will just have to take my word for it.

We stayed at the Fontainebleau, and this was the view from our hotel balcony.

view from the Fontainebleau

We did manage to spend a few hours by the pool and by the ocean, after homework was done, of course.  It was sunny and in the mid-70s in Miami, as perfect weather as it could be.  Great cause, great event, great weather, and a wonderful time had by all.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

Disney Half-Marathon & 5K

Jim and I have been training to run a half-marathon since June.  (I haven’t wanted to mention it because I didn’t want to jinx us.)  We chose the Disney Wine and Dine Half-Marathon which was held at Disneyworld this past weekend on the theory that if we were really going to run a half-marathon, what better place to run it than at Disneyworld?

Training has had its ups and downs.  But, fortunately, the wonderful thing about training together is that very rarely do we have the same timing.  So, for example, about 2 months into our training, I hit a wall, and if it weren’t for Jim, I would never have gotten out of bed to run.  But he pushed me out the door and once we were at the track, it was much easier to just go ahead and do it.

We did most of our training at the Y for two reasons.  First, running outside during a Washington, DC summer and the accompanying heat and humidity would have resulted in us stopping almost immediately, either because we would have ended up in the ER due to heat exhaustion or because we would have moved immediately to the West Coast where there’s no humidity.  And, second, the track was easier on our knees.  Despite all our precautions, we ended up with some training injuries.  Jim pulled a thigh muscle and then a calf muscle and lost about a month of training near the end.  My knees started hurting about a month ago, and I’ve alternated between knee braces and knee bands to help with the pain.  A new pair of shoes also helped.  (I like Adidas Tempos.)  We discovered that wristbands for our ipod nanos really made running to music easier, and we created a running playlist with up tempo music (with many suggestions from our teenage daughter).

Some friends of ours very kindly volunteered to come down with us.  They and our kids ran Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K on Saturday morning through Animal Kingdom.  I’m told it was quite the festive atmosphere with Disney characters lined up along the route, the park decorated for Christmas, and Christmas music piped in.

After the 5K, we all had breakfast, and then our friends took their kids and ours to the Magic Kingdom while Jim and I napped and stressed about the race.  We spent some time by the pool (we were staying at the Yacht Club), had a light dinner, and then headed to the start point.  Our friends also watched the kids for the evening.  (I know, I wouldn’t have done it either.)

The half-marathon didn’t start until 10:00 pm Saturday.  Because it was our first half-marathon, we were in the last group that didn’t start until closer to 10:30.  It was a cool night (mid-60s), but you didn’t notice it once you started running.  The race started at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, wound its way through Animal Kingdom, then through Hollywood Studios, and finally through the front half of Epcot, finishing up at the Epcot parking lot.

The first 5 miles went very smoothly.  I will say that while I have always thought of Disneyworld as being relatively flat, I have revised my opinion.  🙂  As with the 5K, there was much visual stimulation to be found.  There were various Disney characters along the way (I remember the dancing hippos from Fantasia most vividly), there were colorfully decorated and themed mile markers, and live bands playing up-tempo music.

Miles 6-10 were more difficult but still quite manageable.  At Mile 11.5, Jim came down with leg cramps, which made the last mile and a half somewhat tortuous (especially for him).  But we finished in about 3 hours (he gave me permission to run the last mile without him).  There was an after-party at Epcot that we cheerfully ditched.  We were in our hotel room by about 2:30 am and in bed a little after 3:00 am after icing our various aching body parts.  We were up at 6:45 to see our friends off and then to celebrate our daughter’s birthday.  With the help of some Advil and ice, we managed to hobble around Epcot for the better part of the day before flying home.

Running the half-marathon was a surprisingly fun experience, but, then, it is Disney, after all.  We really feel like we have accomplished something that we never dreamed was possible 5 months ago.  But the idiocy only goes so far.  We are most definitely NOT running a full marathon!