September 17th, 2011


The Change of Seasons

The Cool Off Continues

The West Michigan weather has trended towards highs in the 60s and 70s of late. Lows in 30s, 40s and 50s. In the space of a week, we've gone from light use of the AC to light use of the furnace. Funny, I used to recall stretches of spring and fall with neither running, just open windows.

Tuesday there was the smell of smoke in the air. Turned out not to be local, but from the plume of the big fire in the Boundary Waters area of northern Minnesota.

Wednesday and Thursday nights we had frost warnings. I thought we'd missed that on Thursday morning, except when I came back from dropping Mrs. Dr. Phil at work, I realized that part of the roof was stark white. Despite running the heat, the new roof from last year is well insulated, the white patch ending in a knife edge where the shadow ended and the sun melted the frost. Huh.

That night also knocked down a lot of the late summer bug noises. Last night there was one lonely cricket in the front yard. For the first time in months I could hear the distant frogs. The milkweed leaves have all sagged now.

Confusion At The Pump

Gas prices have been changing daily, running roughly $3.78.9 ± 0.15. Yesterday regular was $3.69.9/gal, the differential between grades was 11¢ as it's been all summer.

I've been going out late in the afternoon a lot. At 4pm all the bays at the gas station have been stacked up this week. Guess I never noticed this trend before.

Dr. Phil

Drive, He Said

Drive [R]
Holland 7, Theatre #7, 4:50pm

In the last week I began to hear some buzz about this film -- especially Albert Brooks playing A Very Bad Man. So we decided a late afternoon matinee might be fun.

It's no surprise to know that this film is another long line of heist-gone-wrong stories, much like To Live and Die in L.A.. It is also pretty ultraviolent. The driver, who is actually never named, lives a very odd life, all part-time gigs. Hollywood stunt driver. Mechanic. Driver. Racer. He also spends a lot of time tinkering with his car.

Things really start to unravel when he befriends the single mom down the hall -- turns out her husband is being released from prison. Our driver likes the girl and is good with the kid. But you know from the start that this can't have a happy ending, but we're not sure how. Is he ex-gang? Ex-military? What's the significance of his jacket?

I kept on noting the emotionless expression of Ryan Gosling, especially when he's working. However there's a scene towards the end which is truly expressionless -- and it creepily suggests the uncanny valley that is often talked about with animation and robots. He also exudes a great confidence and sense of purpose as he moves. We later find he's capable of action when needed, so you never know what's going to happen next.

The heavies are all brutal guys. Albert Brooks and the always awesome Ron Perlman lead the way.

The driving is excellent, but in a more realistic way than in the usual shoot-em-ups, making it even more nerve wracking. It was amusing in the credits to note how many drivers they had. Also one Hollywood stunt drive shot, shown pulled back so you can actually see the stunt -- a nice bit of inside baseball given the story.

We're really glad to have seen this. It's tight and well-filmed, but it's not a "fun" movie. Indeed, it makes most of your cops and robbers escapades look weak and anemic and Hollywood. It also makes a life of crime pretty unappetizing. (grin)


Dr. Phil