Rick's Ramblings

You have found Rick's Ramblings, a Web Log.

I have been writing in this space for a few years now. Visit the archives to get a feel for my style.

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The World
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Email: rickumali@gmail.com

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Thursday, July 31, 2003
I watched Spy Kids III tonight. It was fun, although there were some some cheesy and preachy moments.

For the first few minutes, as the story was establishing itself, I actually began to fear that it was a bad movie. "Oh no! My hero Robert Rodriguez made a bad movie!" But as the story progressed, it got more fun. Sylvester Stallone played his role(s) with just the right amount of exaggeration, and I'm glad he got the screen time that he did.

The movie was also 3-D, but I was disappointed. I wear glasses, and the 3-D glasses on top of them didn't give me the best effect. I keep thinking that I shouldn't be seeing so much red, or so much blue. I think the movie would have worked in 2-D though. The best 3-D that I remember seeing was at Universal Studios, and there we wore polarized glasses instead of tonight's blue/red plastic lenses.

Overall? It was OK.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Two BLOGs that I frequent recently discussed books. It's high time I do so.

Blork wrote that he's discovered the key to reading books simultaneously. Ken wrote that he's been overwhelmed by the number of new books at Barnes and Noble.

Like Ken, I'm often astonished by the plethora of books at a huge book store like Barnes and Noble. Ken specifically points out new books, and he's right: there are a tremendous amount of new books out there. Who's reading them? More incredibly, who's writing them?

Like Blork, I am in the middle of a handful of books. I used to be far more strict about this. I never started a book if I was still reading another one. Now, I am reading three books: All the President's Men, by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, A Walk Across France, by Miles Moreland, and Empire Falls, by Richard Russo.

After watching the movie "All the President's Men" earlier in the summer, I was finally compelled to read this famous book. It's a very dry and dense book, and I'm only able to muster a few paragraphs at a time. There are many many more names in Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein's book. It shows how deliberate and painstaking the investigation was to piece together the corruption of Richard Nixon's. The book is also the first time I have seen pictures of the real Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein.

My wife loved A Walk Across France, and she's been pushing me to read this for the past few months. She's right. It's not just a travelogue, but a memoir of a man who spent plenty of years in business, often forgetting to smell the roses. Mr. Moreland and his wife are walking the thin part of France north of the Pyrénées, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. I like the book's pace.

Empire Falls by Richard Russo was a paperback I picked up strictly for its cover. I read the jacket, and saw that it was the 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction. The jacket announced that this is a book about a man who works at a diner. My thought bubble: "What kind of stories could come from that kind of protagonist? I like diners, right?" I circled the store a few times before finally putting it into my basket and checking out. I'm glad I did. This book is super literary fiction. I'm enjoying the story very much.

Tomorrow is the last day of July, and I'll catch a movie in the theater, to fulfill my July quota.

Last night, ESPN broadcast their news show Sports Center on two channels. On ESPN2, they ran the show as viewers normally watch it. On ESPN, they had cameras covering the behind-the-scenes activity as on-air talent Dan Patrick and Kevin Frazier ran through sports news.

It was great television.

Dan Patrick says doing the show is one big adrenaline rush. While on the air the announcers display a calm wit and an off-the-cuff bravado, just outside the television frame, and in their ears, and in a very rushed control room, is a swarm of activity, from people editing tapes, to the technical director counting backwards from commercial break, to the producers changing and adding to the coverage to make the show as newsworthy as possible. The show, This is SportsCenter Live, captured the in-the-ear chatter, the prep work for a highlight (situation, action, result), and revealed that the anchors wear sneakers to set. And yes, production assistants run with video tape of sports highlights to be shown during the show.

It all looks so easy watching television news. This program was a great peek at all the hard work needed to pull it off. Kudos, ESPN!

Sunday, July 27, 2003
Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France this morning. I watched a replay of the last stage (the ceremonial Paris criterium) on the Outdoor Life Network tonight, and I was treated to a very dramatic finish for the coveted green jersey, the jersey won by the best sprinter. Baden Cooke overtook Robbie McEwen right at the finish line. Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett gave a marvelous race commentary.

But the real story, of course, is the fact that an American has broken into a very exclusive club: 5-time winners of the Tour de France. Jacques Anquetil (France), Eddy Merckx (Belgium), Bernard Hinault (France), and Miguel Indurain (Spain) were the previous 5-time winners. The cycling world will hold its collective breath until next year, when Lance could become the sole member of the 6-time winners club.