Saturday, December 31, 2016

Nunes vs. Rousey: I fail hard at the prediction game

I made myself go on the record in yesterday's blog entry about last night's UFC championship fights.

Wow, did I blow it.

I went with my heart in choosing Rousey to beat Nunes.  I argued that Nunes would not have the self-discipline to use the game plan she would need to beat Rousey.  Nunes didn't have the chance to display self-discipline.  From the moment she closed on Rousey, Nunes owned the ex-champion.  Rousey looked like she didn't know how to fight.  She made every mistake she made in the Holm loss, only faster, and Nunes hit harder.  Forty-eight seconds after the fight started, it was over, with a TKO-d Rousey looking utterly and totally disoriented.

At this point, Rousey has two reasonable choices:  retire, or seek a new camp with coaches good enough to rebuild her game.  I don't believe she will do the latter, so I  hope she does the former.

Rousey was a formidable athlete who helped make women's MMA what it is today, and she inspired joy and awe in millions of fans, including me.  The sport, though, has passed her by, and without new coaches, she will keep on losing against the top competitors.  I will always remember her string of victories with joy and respect and awe, but they are over.

In the other championship bout, challenger Cody Garbrandt did to champion Dominick Cruz what Cruz had done to every previous opponent:  made him look bad.  Garbrandt had the speed, cardio, footwork, and head motion to outwork Cruz where Cruz is strongest, and Garbrandt flat out hits harder.  He's the new boss at 135, and I look forward to him fighting T.J. Dillashaw, the logical next contender and a fighter who also won in convincing style tonight.

The card was mostly good, but these two fights definitely did not go as I expected and, in the case of Rousey, hoped.

I have huge respect for all the athletes involved.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Nunes vs. Rousey: my pick

For those who don't follow the UFC in particular or MMA in general, tonight is one of the more intriguing fight cards of the year, because it features the return, after more than a year away from the octagon, of Ronda Rousey, the former women's bantamweight champion.  Undefeated until she lost her belt to Holly Holm in November of 2015, Rousey was arguably the most popular figure in MMA and a fighter who a lot of people, including myself, thought would retire undefeated.  Instead, Holm perfectly executed a game plan that exposed flaws in Rousey's strategy and ultimately knocked out the former champ.

The big question tonight is, is Rousey back, or will the current champion, Amanda Nunes, capitalize on those same flaws and hand Rousey her second loss?

The oddsmakers slightly favor Rousey, but not by much.

In online articles, other MMA fighters and analysts seem to give Nunes the nod.

My head tells me Nunes.  My heart votes for Rousey, a character I've long liked.

To force myself to go on record with a pick, I'm writing and posting this entry before the fights start and saying that I'm going with my heart and picking Rousey.

I'll report back after the fights with what really happened.

My reasoning in this selection goes like this:  Nunes has the power and the skill and the coaches to execute the same type of game plan as Holm and beat Rousey.  What Nunes lacks, I believe, is the self-discipline that Holm possessed.  Nunes loves to charge ahead and whale at people.  I believe personality will win out over planning and Nunes will go straight at Rousey.  If she does, I think Rousey is likely to last long enough to get her hands and hips on Nunes, and at that point, I believe it'll be all Rousey.

So, I'm choosing Rousey to win.

Note that nowhere did I say I thought Rousey had improved her striking--attack and defense--because I don't believe she has.  She has the same bad coach as before, so I expect her to come in with no better striking than before.

We'll know in six or so hours.

While I'm in the prediction business, I'll say that I believe the other championship fight will go to the current champ, Dominick Cruz, over the undefeated contender, Cody Garbrandt.  Garbrandt has the power to knock out Cruz, but I don't believe he'll get to land any power shots on the elusive champ.

I'll let you know on this one, too.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


Let's get one bias out of the way right now:  I would happily watch a movie in which Jennifer Lawrence sat and read the phone book.  For my taste, she's one of the most talented and appealing young actresses working today.

Add to that the fact that Passengers is an SF film, and I was always going to head to the cinema to catch it.  I also quite like Chris Pratt, so I was triply likely to see and like this one.

Indeed, I did enjoy it, troubling aspects and all.  If you've already read reviews of the film, you probably know its deeply disturbing part.  If not, you'll recognize it when it occurs, and I expect you will be very much troubled by it, as I was.  I'm also not at all sure that I buy Lawrence's character's acceptance of the troubling part.  (Avoiding spoilers is a pain.)

That said, I bought it enough, and enjoyed the rest of the movie enough, that I think it's worth your time and money.  I ended up quite happy to have seen Passengers but also disturbed by it.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

is at once an entertaining ride, a nice verve into darkness for the franchise, and a perfect example of a maddening trend in modern movies.

Most of the film is a velocity exercise that rarely pauses, so if you're at all into the Star Wars universe, you're likely to have a good time with it.  An added bonus is the way it fills in some gaps in the previous films.  You can definitely just sit back and have a fun time with the basic plot and all the effects in this one.

I don't want to indulge in spoilers, so let me just say that, yes, the story does contain a few very dark elements, and I generally view that as a good thing.  When everyone is always going to be fine, dramatic tension is hard to maintain.

The trend that it embodies and that is driving me crazy is the need to continually add one more obstacle to the conclusion.  Beat one bad boss, and another enters.  Solve one problem, and another appears.  I understand and applaud this as a strategy for increasing dramatic tension, but more and more action films of the last several years have piled on so many barriers to success--as Rogue One does in spades--that I end up weary of them and just begging for the film to end.

Apropos of none of those key elements, I must also note that one ending shot, a CG rendering of a brief moment with a key character, simply creeped me out.  It was right in the uncanny valley for me, and I very much wish I'd not seen it.

Overall, though, I had a good ride with Rogue One and quite enjoyed the film.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher, R.I.P.

Well, crap:  2016 claimed another one.  Actress, author, and a voice for the many who suffer mental health illnesses, Fisher became an unforgettable part of SF history with her role as Leia Organa in the first Star Wars trilogy.  She was much more than that single role, of course, but her performance as a character who transforms from princess to general and to senator made her a fixture in the SF firmament.

Her writing and her open discussions of her own struggles with mental-health issues were admirable and helped others be willing to discuss their troubles.

Though few are likely to mention it, I have to admit that I have also always adored her performance as the mystery hairdresser and former girlfriend of Jake in the original Blues Brothers movie.

Fisher died at 60, younger than I am now.  Her and other recent deaths point out how important it is to watch for signs of heart disease.

I am sad to see her go.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Moving away from socks

For most of my life, I have worn socks and sneakers of one sort or another.  Sneakers are generally efficient, useful shoes, ready to support you in normal day-to-day functions and game for running or other, more active endeavors.  Socks are important to stop the sneakers from rotting and because, well, my mother told me I had to wear socks.

Lately, though, I've found myself moving away from socks and from lacing up shoes.

It started with boat shoes while vacationing at the beach.  Once I found a comfy brand, I discovered the joy and efficiency of simply slipping on the shoes and being ready to go.  I wouldn't use them for exercising, but for most of what I do each day, they are great.  Over time, I started wearing them to work as well, because they pass general muster and are so efficient to use.

Last year, against my own previous judgment, I tried on a pair of Uggs and found that I loved them.  I had feared my feet would quickly grow too hot, but they don't.  I again reaped the time savings of not having to put on socks and lace up shoes, but this time in the colder months.  They also generally pass at work, though I wouldn't wear them--or boat shoes--to client sites or when we had client visitors.

I'm still going to wear sneakers--or dressy sneaker-like shoes--regularly, but my experiences with and time savings from boat shoes and Uggs are going to make them ever more frequent parts of my wardrobe.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas (to those who celebrate it)!

If you celebrate, either for religious or for secular reasons, this holiday, Merry Christmas!

If you don't, I hope you have a great day!

Either way, I'm planning to be offline.


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