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Friday, May 29, 2015

Going on A Beach Vacation with Senior-Citizen Legs

When you go on a beach vacation you start to worry what you look like in a swimsuit or shorts.

Even when you're in the senior citizen crowd. Or maybe you get to the point you don't care at all. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad sign that I haven’t quite gotten to that point. I am at the stage where I realize there's only so much you can do with exercise and diet to improve those contours.

But you also start to notice the imperfections that have been covered with umpteen layers of corduroy and wool during a Midwest winter, such as small spider veins. Some of those spider veins are so clustered together my legs look as if spiders have been nibbling at them for most of the winter.

I hear there are doctors who in a short, in- office visit can make them disappear. I considered, but never got around to doing anything about the spider veins. And here it is after Memorial Day, the start of swimsuit and shorts season.

But I needn’t have worried. Within a day or two of our arrival at the beach, we went on a whale watch. In order to try to get a better view of the whales I knelt on one of the padded seat cushions. Later that day I noticed large lumps under both of my knees. A bit of online research and I concluded I now have what's colloquially known as “housemaid’s knees” or “preacher’s knees”. I guess it depends on your occupation or denomination.

Then, to add insult to injury, or maybe it was to add injury to insult, I slipped in the shower and smacked my shin against a hard surface. Whether the shin hits the hard surface or the hard surface hits the shin, it's the shin that takes the beating.

My shin is now multiple blue, green, and purple colors. The better to go with the spider veins.

Two conclusions can be drawn from my leg-related experiences:

1) If your legs are banged up enough, People will be looking at them, and not the rest of your swimsuit-clad body; and,

2) There should be a separate Wikipedia entry for “whale-watching knees”.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

50 to 1: A Bet Worth Taking

Long odds, but what a pay out if the gods are looking down on you with favor.
 Few have seen this nearly-perfect, indie film, “50 to 1”. The film takes its name from Mine That Bird’s odds at the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Bird’s unlikely road to victory inspired the movie. The odds on the making of the movie, described by Producer, Director, and Co-Screenwriter, Jim Wilson, and Co-Producer and Co-Screenwriter, Faith Conroy, in the extras on the DVD, appear to have been pretty long as well.
Bird’s story was so amazing the film had no need to embellish this fairy-tale win. 
The movie opens with a punch: Chip Woolley (Skeet Ulrich), coming to the aid of a stranger, Mark Allen (Christian Kane), in a bar brawl. The two scraggly cowboys become friends but soon after loose touch. A decade later Mark and Chip meet up and Mark Allen hires a down-on-his-luck Woolley, as a trainer.
Allen learns of an opportunity to buy Mine That Bird, the 2008 Canadian Champion 2-year-old male horse, and sends Woolley to look him over. Woolley is not particularly impressed with the small, somewhat lopsided Bird, a Kentucky-born gelding who originally had been purchased at the Yearling Sales in 2007 for $9,500 by a Canada trainer. But when Woolley sees Bird run he changes his mind.
Mark Allen, on behalf of the New Mexico partnership he co-owns, buys Bird for $400,000. Allen’s partner Leonard “Doc” Blach (William Devane) is not impressed by either Woolley or Bird. Allen, loyal to his old friend Woolley and trusting of Woolley’s assessment, offers to buy Doc out if Doc ultimately is unhappy with Bird.
Doc looks to be the more horse-astute of the partners. Bird’s initial races in the U. S. are not impressive: second place in the Borderland Derby and fourth place in the Sunland Derby.  Woolley is struggling and in the midst of his other troubles crashes his motorcycle, shattering his leg.
Meanwhile, Woolley and Mark Allen, along with everyone involved, are astonished when Mine That Bird receives an invitation to the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Even though Bird’s career earnings in graded-stakes races had qualified him for the invitation no one believes Bird has a serious hope of winning.
The New Mexico owners and their families, and Woolley as trainer, decide to accept the invitation as the lark it is likely to be, and an experience of a lifetime. Unlike the million-dollar horses against which Bird will be competing, Bird is not flown to Kentucky. Instead, Woolley, his leg still in a cast, drives Bird from New Mexico to Louisville.
 The movie portrays Churchill Downs and Derby events as elegant, the bourbon plentiful, and the other owners derisive of Mine that Bird and the rustic cowboys who brought him. Pretty close to the mark as I recall news and events in Louisville that year.
The New Mexico cowboys, as they are known at the Derby run-up, have luck riding with them as they secure the Derby-winning Calvin Borel as their jockey. The film makers had similar luck securing the affable Borel to play himself in the movie.
The rest, as they say, is history. Even though you likely know the end result of the race, it’s still a thrill to see the small Mine that Bird, played by Sunday Rest, start out about eight lengths behind the pack and then make his move to an astonishing six lengths win.

The movie, like the horse and its owners and trainer, is a long-shot worth betting on. It’s available on DVD and Netflix.