July 27th, 2014


15% to 100%

Tuesday was apparently the hottest day of the summer in West Michigan, peaking at 92°F in Holland. Cooler later in the week. Then back up to 80-82°F and humid for the weekend.

Gas was running up to $3.56.9 midweek, but I saw $3.36.9/gal north of Holland and it was $3.45.9/gal in Allendale.

We thought of maybe going to Woodland to see the doc on Roger Ebert. But we haven't been to the Holland 7 -- our favorite -- in a while. So we were off to see a highly anticipated SF action flick.

Lucy [R]
Holland 7 Theatre 2, 2:30pm, 2×$6.50

Scarlett Johansson is amazing. She played a voice in Her and now in Lucy, she plays a cold stare. There are some comparisons with The Matrix -- what Neo can do in the Matrix, Lucy can do in the real world. We often joke about Keanu Reeves ability to act the gamut of emotions from A to B -- and we LIKE Keanu. But Scarlett can transmit so much in just a tiny twitch in her eye, that you can't take your eyes off her. Especially the eyes.

So how did we get here? A drug that unlocks all the capability of the human mind -- and all the other cells. The trailer made it look like Lucy was a science project gone awry from Morgan Freeman. Instead, it is all that much darker. Lucy is forced to be a drug mule for vicious Taipei drug lords. Their viciousness is their undoing -- and our gain.

Ordinary Lucy is terrified by her situation and rightly so. The movie is rated R, which I assume is for the old ultraviolence. Or maybe it's for a discussion of science, evolution, or having a kickass heroine... naw, it's R for violence.

Timing is big in this movie. Lucy has perfect timing, cutting it rather close as she peaks at 100%. And we know, because there are title slides announcing the mental power levels. But don't take the sciency part of the movie too seriously, as it's fun not accurate. Still, I adore listening to Morgan Freeman -- and his opening lecture, peppered with a multimedia presentation of examples from Nature, sets up the plot. Alas, it was hard to watch hippos mating without thinking of Colin Mockery last night on Whose Line Is It Anyway and a green screen insert gag of wildly mating animals.

Ultimately we root for Lucy. Even in the second original Star Trek pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before, we learn that amping up the human brain always results in megalomania. But Lucy doesn't go there.

She's also so goal oriented, that either it doesn't occur to her to simplify some of the later situations or else she's concentrating on her task and doesn't want to divert scarce resources. As a result we get a series of increasingly wild chases and events.

Interestingly, it looks to me that Lucy, which features such a strong female protagonist, fails the Bechdel Test. There are few women other than Scarlett to even have any kind of conversation between women.

This is a very stylish film with strong locations. Several times there are obvious ways to go or set piece visual to show -- and they don't go there. But even if the pseudoscience galls or the bad guys' violence seems too cartoonish, you'll still want to watch Scarlett Johansson. You'll be impressed.

Highly Recommended

TRAILERS: The First Look video pregame show let us look at Denzel Washington in the update film version of The Equalizer for October. Looks terrific. We've seen Expendables 3 and Kingsmen: The Secret Service, both of which have killer casts. And for Valentine's Day 2015, we get the schmaltzy gooey romance, 50 Shades of Grey. Not.

Dr. Phil


Wow. First we had a World Cup that Americans watched and paid attention to -- even after the short but successful run by the American team was over.

And now we've just finished Stage 21 and the 101er Le Tour de France, Live From Paris on NBCSports.

-- Vincenzo Nibali wins the Yellow Jersey. He led for most of the Tour, 7 minutes 32 seconds ahead -- and something like the biggest margin of victory since 1977.

-- Marcel Kittel won his fourth stage and a repeat of his 2013 Stage 21 win.

There are so many victories along the way. There was a run to be the man leading the race at the bell, the last lap. Points in Sprint zones and King of the Mountains climbs. Stage wins. Yellow, Green, red & white Polka Dot and White jerseys -- overall General Classification, Sprint, King of the Mountains and Best Young Rider. Italian Nibali of course for Yellow, then Peter Sagan for Green - 431 over 232 points for 2nd place, Rafal Maika of Poland - 182 over 168 points, and Thibault Pinot respectively. And a prize but not a jersey also given for Most Agressive Rider. Team championship to AG2R -- NOT one of the huge budget teams.

There were 3 days in England -- Leeds, Sheffield, London -- and days in Belgium and Spain. Cobblestones. One time trial at Stage 20. Alps followed directly by the Pyrenees. Ah, Le Col de Tourmaline. Categorie 4, 3, 2, 1, HC -- Beyond Classification -- climbs.

Spectacular crashes with big names out. 100° heat. Terrible rains. 60 mph descents on narrow mountain curves. The relentless sinuous living thing which is the peloton. A crowd which waited for and cheered and pounded on the sheet metal barriers for an American in so much back pain he sat on a guardrail for four minutes before limping in safely under the time cutoff for that stage -- and then withdrawing.

164 of 199 riders finished after over 2000 miles to the Champs-Élysées. France wins second and third place podium positions.

And how many championships do the competitors clink champagne flutes in the middle of the competition?

Exciting stuff. I love it.

Dr. Phil


Ah... the first Dr. Phil Tomato Sandwich of the year. Yum. Alas, Mrs. Dr. Phil only bought the one tomato and let it sit all week to ripen, one has to make sure they're ready, so I can't just start off a week of tomato sandwiches every day. (sad-grin) Can't EVEN have the 2nd half of the 1st tomato tomorrow -- I did share the wealth with Mrs. Dr. Phil, after all.

2009 Tomato Sandwich Exemplar

With the long winter, late spring and relatively cool summer this year, it's been hard to gauge the growing season. The local strawberries and blueberries have been exceptional. Some very nice baby zucchini, summer squash and pickling cucumbers. I've not been on 84th Avenue for a couple weeks as they sealed the cracks and then put down a new coat of tar and stones. So the other day I was surprised to see tall corn on both sides of the road. The usual outstanding cornfields on M-45 east of 84th got planted late, so this summer they aren't yet the tallest, though they are lush.

So tomatoes will come.

Of course, I'm already ahead of last year. I didn't get my first tomato sandwich fixings brought in to Five by Mrs. Dr. Phil until into September.

Want. More. Tomato. Sandwiches.

Dr. Phil