For the past several years, Andrew and I have been going to see the Oscar(tm)-nominated short films at our local theater (well, it’s not exactly local anymore, since we moved to the other side of the Beltway…). So, this year, when the program showed up at Cinema Arts Theatre, we made a plan to trek over to Fairfax for the day and catch both the animated and live-action programs.
Here’s my take on this year’s crop.
Spoiler Alert I’m probably going to give away some of the plots/turning points in these shorts, so go see the films first, before reading!
This was a Disney short, and starts out in the old black and white, small screen format. Suddenly, a couple characters break through the screen and find themselves in 3D color. The film continues with the characters popping into and out of the screen – into 3D color then back to flat, black and white.
It felt like this concept had been done before, many times. In fact, it seemed vaguely like Day and Night from Disney Pixar, which was nominated in 2010.
If this one wins, it will be because of the sentimentality of the old-style Mickey Mouse.
Mr. Hublot is an OCD single man living in a steampunk-inspired future with tons of retro-looking automation. One day, he sees an abandoned robot-dog, and he can’t get this little guy out of his mind.
This one was my favorite. Though the story was predictable, with the ending set up fairly obviously in the opening shots, the story was uplifting…and the puppy was cute. And the animation style was straight-forward and fun to look at.
This one was about a feral child picked up in the woods. While there was a story present, the main driver of this piece is the watercolor-style animation.
Personally, I find this type of animation hard to look at, but I can appreciate the beauty that others must find in it. This one may win, just because the style sets it apart from the others and makes it seem more “arty”, which often attracts the Oscar voters.
Bizarre story based on the old Japanese idea that if possessions are old enough, they begin to possess a soul that can taunt people. A “fixer of all things” is caught in the woods during a storm and stumbles into an old house. All night the objects in the house taunt him int fixing them.
Going in to today’s movies, we were both hoping there wouldn’t be yet another Gruffalo short…well there wasn’t, but Room on the Broom was from the same team and author. It is based on a children’s book, so the film was cute, as were the Gruffalo shorts, but not terribly substantive or interesting beyond the cuteness.
My prediction is that Feral will win, because of the animation style more than anything. We’ll see tonight!
The live-action program started with this, a sentimental piece about a hospital janitor trying to comfort a dying child with tales of the world of Helium, a more-fun alternative to Heaven. It was cute and sad and sentimental – everything that we come to expect from the live-action shorts. Sigh. From the moment it started #150; in a hospital with a sick child – we knew exactly where it would end.
What do you do when a prisoner proclaims to be a god? And, when that prisoner convinces the entire prison population that he’s a god? Send in a psychologist of course. This short shows us what happens next.
One of few comedies that we’ve seen in all the live-action shorts we’ve seen over the years, this one was fun and extremely well-done with just a few short scenes.
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) [Trailer]
This short captures the day a woman’s decides to take her kids and leave her abusive husband. I found myself drawn in almost immediately, and continued to be engaged throughout the entire piece. The danger for this woman felt very real, and the urgency carried through every moment of the piece.
This one could win tonight, and I would heartily support that win.
Set in Africa, this piece follows a pair of Spanish aid workers who are kidnapped by a group of child soldiers. The acting was not great – perhaps because the actors were working in English, which was clearly not their first language. However, even if the acting was great, I would have been disengaged from the beginning. I know that child soldiers are a real problem in parts of the world, and I do know that their plight needs to be brought out to the public…it just seems that there are other ways to do it. Or maybe not. I know it’s complicated.
If this one wins tonight, it will be due to the subject matter, not the film itself.
Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) [Trailer]
A very short (7 minute) comedy about a family late getting ready to attend a wedding. So many unexpected moments, and I may have laughed out loud. I doubt it will win, but this was my favorite.
I’m guessing that either That Wasn’t Me or Just Before Losing Everything will win tonight. It’s so hard for comedies to win these awards, though those were probably my favorite in this program.
Several years ago we took a board game class through our county’s community education series. One of our favorite games (as evidenced by the fact that we bought it) was Wooly Bully. In this game, each player is a farmer with a different color (black, blue, red or yellow). Your goal is to fence in as many of your sheep as you can by the end of the game. This can be done in one large enclosure or in many small enclosures — whatever sheep you have completely enclosed scattered around the full playing area count toward your score.
At the beginning of the game, only you know what color sheep you have. You lay tiles, matching sheep colors and/or terrain (there are “village” sections and forest sections — see the detail picture showing a few tiles). When you lay a tile, you replace that tile but you also get to pick additional tiles if you match more than one side of the tile you laid — this way you can get more tiles in your had to choose from.
The village and forest tiles count as “fences” to completely fence in your sheep. However, you need to beware the forest — there are a four wolf tiles that can be played at any time. These wolves in the forest nullify any sheep enclosures that use that forest to close them. If you are lucky, you might have a hunter in your hand that can also be played at any time. The hunter kills the wolf, thereby making your sheep safe again.
To make the game a bit more complicated, each tile is double-sided, so you can play the reverse side of the wolf or hunter to get four additional sheep of a single color — this is a bonus if you happen to get the hunter or wolf with your color of sheep. But, of course, there’s some strategy to how and when you play that tile!
We’ve found that this game isn’t quite as fun with just two players, but works quite well for 3 or 4 players. The rules are very simple, so it’s also the perfect game when you don’t have a lot of time to explain the rules of a complicated game or you just want to get right into a game. The strategy shifts from game to game as you try to figure out whether to make a lot of small enclosures to to go for a ginormous, rambling pasture.
Andrew and I have gotten back into board games. We first got into them a few years ago when we took a couple board gaming classes through our county’s community education program. We’ve played on and off over the last few years, but not with any regularity.
For 2014, we’ve committed to two things that will help us reconnect with our gaming-selves. First, we are hosting a gaming event at our house once a month for a small group of gamers (at least a small group to start). Second, we’ve committed to playing games together at least once each week or every-other week (if we’re busy on gaming night).
Our first game of the year was All Creatures Great and Small, which is a 2-player version of the game Agricola. I’ve never played either, so I can’t say how the 2-player version relates to the full version.
Each player has a farm, and the game is played in eight rounds, with three turns for each player in each round. There are several actions a player can do with their turn, from building fences for their animals, collecting resources, taking in animals, building stables or a new cottage. At the end of the game, players get points for the number of animals of each type and certain buildings. Once an action is taken by one person, it can’t be done by the other. (At least, not in the exact same way.) At the end of each round, pairs of animals have babies (as long as you have enough room for them).
I kept finding that I wanted one more turn each round, which, of course, is the point of limiting the rounds. There was a balance to how early to obtain animals, when to build a structure and when to enclose a pasture. We played two games, and I certainly didn’t feel like I figured out the strategy in that time. I suspect, as with any good strategy game, the strategy changes each time, depending on what your opponent does.
I’m looking forward to playing this one again, and might even look into the full game for our gaming parties.
It’s been turning cold here in the DC-metro area, and I did NOT want to get out of bed this morning to run. But, my t-shirt and medal had already arrived, so guilt won out over warm blankets and cuddly cats.
I haven’t been running for several weeks, because my ankle started giving me problems a couple weeks after Dumbo. I’ve gotten out on my bike a few times, but didn’t want to aggravate my ankle. However, it’s been feeling better, so I decided to go out using the run-walk strategy from C25k week 1. Honestly I wasn’t sure if I would make it for the full 3.1, given I hadn’t run in a while, but I made every single run interval. Yay!
Not my fastest 5k, but not my slowest, either. Overall I’m happy with my 49:47 time.
When I got home, I changed into my t-shirt, and donned my medal for a couple pics.
A few months ago, my crazy aunt posted this to Facebook:
It sounded nice and easy, especially since I knew at the time that I would have finished Dumbo a few weeks earlier, and should have some time to get back on the bike. The big unknown was the swimming, since I haven’t really swum in…oh…a few decades. I’ve played around in the water, but swimming to actually get somewhere? Not so much. Though, since we were going to just hop in the river and let the current take us, I figured it would be a fun post-Dumbo goal.
I made up t-shirts and bibs for us, and for our road crew (my husband and my uncle, who would both be accompanying us on the bike portion of our tri).
The big hitch in our plan was that the river and air temperatures were too low for us to swim in the river. My aunt lives out in the sticks, so our only alternative was the closest YMCA a half hour away.
Since it was unseasonably chilly, we didn’t hurry out in the morning. Plus, the YMCA didn’t open until 1PM, so we wanted to time it so that we would finish the bike and run, hop in the car, and arrive at the Y just after they opened.
We took off at about 10:30 AM on our bikes with our road crew. My uncle, Jim, took the lead so he could take a few pictures along the way. My husband, Andrew, played the role of the sweep, making sure that nothing went wrong.
I was probably the most worried about the bike ride, because our route was primarily on gravel roads. I have hybrid tires on my bike, so I can handle gravel; however, as a kid, I had a pretty good spill on sand, and ever since, I’ve been a bit skittish about biking on gravel or sand. I worried for no reason, though, because our ride went really well. We did 6.4 bumpy miles.
The finish line for biking was my aunt and uncle’s driveway. Amazingly, Maggie and I arrived at exactly the same time 🙂
Next, we were off for our walk. I had hoped to run part of this, but we were going on a trail and my ankle has been a bit iffy still, so Maggie and I both walked together.
The walk was 1.3 miles through the woods, and it took us way longer than it felt like. I was just glad I didn’t trip on the tree roots!
Next we hopped in the car off to the YMCA. Our legs started getting a little stiff on the way, which we had worried about, but nothing to do, but get there and knock out our 400 meters. No pictures were allowed during the swim portion (our rules, not the Y!). The pool was saltwater and heated, so definitely much better than the river on that account, but we didn’t have the current to help push us along. No matter, we did our 16 laps for 400 meters.
And then we had a little party at Maggie’s that evening…after a spin in the hot tub, that is.
I won’t lie. I was nervous about this race. My last training run hadn’t gone very well, and since I was in the last corral, the risk of being swept was very high. Add in that Anaheim was experiencing higher-than-normal temperatures and humidity, and I was really not confident.
Kirsten had arrived Saturday evening, so we went out to Downtown Disney for dinner and shopping. It was good for me to get my legs moving so they wouldn’t cramp up before the next day’s race.
Bed early again, with the alarm set for 3AM. If I wasn’t still on Eastern time, it would have been brutal; though I was eating meals at local appropriate times, so my body was a bit confused for the whole trip.
Up, and ready to go in the morning. And, we got to the start in good time.
Kirsten decided to slum it in Corral G with me so we could hang out a bit longer. She was in denial about running a half marathon, I was delirious and seriously worried about finishing. It was still relatively hot and humid, and today was 13.1 instead of just 6.2. Here we are hanging out in the corral…the smiles were probably not real.
While talking with some of the other folks in the corral, we heard rumor that once we reach mile 10, we were essentially safe. I wasn’t sure if that was true, but, honestly, thinking about it kept me going through a good part of the race. I didn’t have to worry about pushing for more than 10 miles…I felt like I could do that. If it wasn’t true…well, I just decided that if they swept me at mile 11, then they were just bastards.
When we got up to the start, we heard that Richard Simmons was in our Corral. Weird.
And then, before we knew it, we were off. The first few miles were through the two Disney parks, so they were fun.
Again, I was running miles for people. I had also planned out a playlist that had songs for each person on my list that should play during their mile. Mom, Thea, Lorna and Brooke got me through the parks.
My lifeline, AND the bane of my existence, were the sweepers and the pace bicycle. At Walt Disney World, I was not in the last corral, and I must not have gotten close to being swept, because I didn’t have reminders along the way of how far ahead (or behind) pace I was. For this race, though, there was always someone at the mile markers telling us how far ahead of pace we were. I think that spurred me on for the first half of the race. Around Mile 2 I was 6 minutes ahead of pace. Mile 4 I was 7 minutes ahead. Mile 5 I was 10 minutes ahead.
The bane of my existence – pace bikes!
By mile 5, though, the heat was getting to me. I was having trouble keeping up my run segments, and found myself walking more and more. Mile 5 was for my nephew, though, and I kept trying to run as much as I could. Mile 6 was for Karena, and I kept running, but not as much. Mile 7 was for Melissa, one of my best friends, who I’ve inspired to start running. When I heard Time Warp come on the iPod, I tried to get in a few more run segments, but I’d be lying if I said I succeeded in getting more than a couple in.
The whole race was a bit of a mind game. I kept listening to how far ahead of pace I was, and wondering at what point I could just walk the rest of the race. I kept calculating how much time I lose over minimum pace when I walk, and how many miles I would have before my lead over minimum would be erased. My goal was mile 10 – holding out hope that the 10-mile rumor was true.
Disney had arranged for there to be “stuff” happening in each mile. Once we exited the parks, there were marching bands, cheerleaders, and ethnic dance groups along the race route. Around mile 7.5, we started running through classic cars (!). I started to see Model A cars and other very early cars. Over the course of the next mile, the cars got more and more recent, until we went through 70s-era cars. How cool is that? (Before you answer, I own a Model A, so I’m not being sarcastic – I love the classics!) This is also the mile where we ran past the Honda Center (coincidence?).
And, by this point, I was walking full-time. The sun was high, the temperature was up, and my body just wanted to quit. I knew I could keep it walking, but if I pushed it to run, I couldn’t guarantee that I would cross the finish. I was far enough ahead of the sweep, that if the 10-mile rumor was true, I should be okay. I kept going, thinking about Jessica for mile 8 and Jaime for mile 9.
Next up on the trail was Angel’s Stadium, which came during Andrew’s mile. We actually got to run through the stadium, which was a lot of fun. There were scout troops and other people in the stands cheering us on as we went. So cool.
I finally crossed the 10-mile sign. Was I safe? I had passed a bunch of shuttle buses in the stadium’s parking lot, so I felt like I had made it. Others around me were talking, and they seemed to confirm the rumor, and also added the tidbit that we basically had an hour after the 10-mile mark to finish. I could do that. Mile 11 was Sweetie’s. Mile 12 was Kirsten’s, and I knew she was waiting at the finish for me. I was going to get there.
I tweeted this, so Kirsten would know I was close.
At this point we were also back on Disney property. It was the home stretch. I ventured a smile when I knew the finish was close.
I used the last of my energy to run the last bit to the finish.
You don’t see the tears here, but they weren’t far off.
I traded in my wristbands for my Coast-to-Coast and Dumbo medals.
After picking up my water, nutrition box, and my checked bag, I found Kirsten in the reunion area.
I cried. I’ll admit it. I didn’t care what my time was – I had completed the Dumbo Double Dare. And, I was very proud of myself. (Still am.)
Oh, and somehow, I PRed! Shaving about 6 minutes off my Walt Disney World time. I think it was trying to keep ahead of the sweepers!
I arrived in California on Thursday before the race – I don’t always have the best luck traveling, so I didn’t want to fret about getting to the Expo and picking up my packet on the same day I was traveling.
After checking in to my hotel, I decided to walk the half-mile to a nearby grocery store to pick up some supplies for the weekend. Have I mentioned that I’ve been struggling with blisters throughout my long runs? And that I thought I had finally conquered them during my last long run. Yeah, well, I was done-in by that 1-mile round-trip to the grocery store…new blisters! Ugh.
Oh well…nothing to do, but bandage them up and move on. But I felt pretty dumb.
Next morning was the Expo. Good thing I hadn’t planned on doing anything else on Friday, because there were LINES!
Once the Expo opened, it didn’t actually take too long to get my bib (and Kirsten’s bib, since she wouldn’t be able to pick hers up before the race on Sunday).
After that, I walked the floor of the expo, and found a couple places to spend some money (of course!). Last thing up was to pick up some of the official merchandise….oof. I picked out a couple of shirts and few Dumbo things, and went to find the end of the line. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. I got to hear some of Jeff Galloway’s talk, and some chick from Biggest Loser (hate that show with a burning passion), and then Sean Astin. I also chatted with a woman in front of me, which was, frankly, more interesting than the talks. After about 2 hours in line, I finally got to the front of the line. We probably should have gotten finisher medals for the merchandise line…no lie.
I laid low for the rest of the evening – watching movies in my hotel room and grabbing an early dinner before heading off to bed early. The alarm was set for 3AM, so no reason to stay up late!
As usual, I slept like crap worrying about whether or not I would get up on time, about finishing the race, and about finding the start. I must have dozed off at some point, because I dreamt about getting to the race. In the dream, I was there on time, but had forgotten my shoes in the car (even though I wasn’t driving in real life). I went to get my shoes and then got distracted at the theme park while getting back to the start. Perhaps it’s just as well that I didn’t sleep much more.
The alarm went off at 3AM like it was supposed to. I looked at the weather first thing, and it was still 77* – at 3AM (!). Nothing to do but go out, so Jo and I got ready for the race.
I left the hotel around 4AM, and walked toward the start. I wasn’t completely sure where we should be going, so I found some other racers and followed them.
The 5k race was happening before the 10k, and I got there early enough to hear them call away the 5k runners. While waiting, a lady approached me to see if I knew where we needed to be. She and I got to chatting, and waited to be called to our corrals together. We were also in the same corral, so Rosemary and I stuck together as we walked over to the corrals. I will say that the corrals for the 10k were not as well organized as they were for the Walt Disney World half marathon. Rosemary ended up pulling me into a corral. When I started asking if it was ours, she said, “Just stand here and act like nothing’s going on.” Honestly, I was just as happy to be in an earlier corral, so I shut my mouth and waited for the start.
Finally our corral moved toward the start. It was still 77* out. But at least today was the short race, right?
And we were off. Since I was in an earlier corral, I felt free to stop a little on the way to grab a couple of pictures. We spent a bit more than a mile on the streets of Anaheim, and then moved into the Disney parks. We ran through Radiator Springs first, and I stopped for a picture with Red, the fire truck from Cars.
Along the way, I was running my miles for different people. Through the parks, most of the miles were for the kids in my life. My nieces got the mile that include Radiator Springs, which is appropriate since my middle niece was in love with Lightning McQueen for a long time. My youngest nephew, my best friend’s son, had the mile that took me into Disneyland. And Sweetie had the mile that took me through the Castle.
I did my run-walk for about the first half of the race, but it was hot and humid and I was feeling like I was giving everything I had to keep that up. Knowing that I had a second race to get through and that I had gotten into an earlier corral (so I didn’t have to worry too much about being swept), I walked most of the rest of the race. I didn’t want to use up everything.
Yeah. I really did mean it sarcastically. But…well, the thought was in my head. Despite being pissed at how I had done at Walt Disney World, or maybe because I was so pissed about how I had done, I was thinking about doing Disneyland. Besides, it would get me the Coast-to-Coast medal if I do it this year. I was fairly sure I would never feel like doing another half marathon, so maybe doing Disneyland this year was my best bet. And while I’m there…why not do Dumbo (which is doing the 10k on Saturday and half marathon on Sunday, so 19.3 miles over the weekend)? It was just another 6.2 miles. And bling!
So, by the time registration opened, I had decided to try and get into the Dumbo Double Dare. In fact, by then, I had my heart set on the Dumbo. But…it sold out before I could even get in to the website to register. What? NOOOOO.
I had one hope – there were runners groups that had bibs for sale, so I contacted a couple of them. It took until late in the night, and after the half marathon had sold out, but I got in with Jim Stone’s Group.
And about three seconds later, I realized what I’d done.
So, that was in January.
I’ll fast forward through the intervening months, which included healing my tendonitis-riddled-ankle, training, trying to solve blistering during long runs, and a few minor freakouts. My next post will pick up in California…
I’ll say that I initially didn’t want to write this race report at all. But I feel like I should have *something* here about my very first half marathon.
The morning of the half marathon, Kirsten and I walked as far as we could together toward our corrals. We say this on the way:
Shortly after that, we had to part, since Kirsten was in a different corral. I found mine, and waited for the race to start.
And waited, and waited, and waited! Finally, we heard the countdown begin, and saw this:
Of course, being in Corral G, we had a long way to wait until we were able to go. After what seemed an eternity, our corral was next, and we could see the start line.
Disney has fun things along the course, and I tried taking a few pictures along the way, but I didn’t really want to stop for those pictures, so the ones before dawn didn’t really turn out. But shortly after Mile 3, we came to this:
Yup, we were entering the Magic Kingdom! Before long, I was running through Cinderella’s Castle. (See me up front at about 15 seconds in.)
I’m impressed that I was running for the whole video! After passing through the castle, I looked back and snapped this, my favorite picture of the day:
It was when we were exiting the Magic Kingdom that things started going downhill for me. The road getting us out the park were fairly narrow, and with the crowds, I just couldn’t keep running my intervals. So I ended up walking for a couple miles. Somewhere in there was the halfway point…and the just-over halfway point:
I also saw a couple of familiar faces on the side of the road — Maggie and Meredith from work. They were cheering on some other friends, too, and Meredith would be running the full marathon the next day.
Sometime around mile 8, the road widened out so I could run. However, my legs had cramped up, so it was really, really hard. In retrospect, I maybe should have worked through it a little, and they probably would have loosened up in time. But I just wasn’t feeling it. The sun was up, the temperature was up.
Around Mile 9.5, I stepped off the road and got this:
I didn’t stop at the medical tent to get it patched up, though, because I knew that I was in danger of getting swept up. I did continue to try and run occasionally, and walked as fast as I could. Around Mile 12, we were told we were safe, and so I walked the rest, without even trying to run.
I was finally arriving at Epcot.
I mustered enough energy when I got close to the finish to jog through and high-fived Mickey on my way over the finish line.
I *love* this video of me crossing the finish. Even more so because I was actually jogging for the entire video! If they had started a few seconds earlier, I’m fairly sure I was still walking, but who cares?
I picked up my finisher medal and food box on my way out, and stopped to get my official finisher picture. (Next time, remind me to put down the Gatorade!)
Kirsten met me at package pick-up, and we found Andrew in the family waiting area.
I’d be lying if I said I was happy at the end of the race. I was pissed. I didn’t get swept up, but I should have…at least in my mind. The only reason I didn’t was because I wasn’t in the last corral.