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Out on the Fringes Dave Z's Chronicles
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Hello again long neglected LiveJournal account. Once proud social media outlet fallen in favor for quick post of 140 characters or less.

I decided to post my running stats for 2010 because I am very proud of them. Running over 1000 miles I think is something to be very proud of. Sure it is a little bit of bragging, but still worthy enough to brag about.

I ran 1009.95 miles (I couldn't do the .05 more I guess)
7 Days 11 Hours 51 minutes and 49 seconds of running. (again maybe if I ran 9 seconds more I would have made that .05 miles)
I did that in 192 Workouts.
That is 5.24 miles average distance per run.
My pace averaged 10'44" a mile.
I burned 168,765 calories during those runs.
My best month was June when I ran 234.92 miles, in 31 work outs with an average pace of 9'44" (Of course being laid off that month helped get me extra miles in.)
I did all my running between March 15th and Nov 15th, mainly due to Michigan weather. Since all my running is outdoors on the sidewalks and trails.

Also I got a new iPod with the Pedometer feature. It only records walking and does not record runs when the Nike+ is on. Even with that I was able to make it through all of the challenges on the web page in 136 days, over 830,000 steps (that's about 13,500 calories burned) and counting.

Can I top that in 2011? Maybe if I can get some longer runs in, I just might be able to do 1000 again. To help I hope to hit the treadmill during the winter months and not need to work my legs back into shape as much in March. I also hope to do longer runs on the weekends, be able to run a half marathon (13.1 miles) at least twice a month. Maybe even tackle the full marathon next fall in Downtown Detroit.

Some stat pages if you care to look
http://slowgeek.com/pr/821162139
http://nikerunning.nike.com/nikeos/p/nikeplus/en_US/plus/#//runs/history/821162139/all/allRuns/
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This movie is mostly style with a bit of substance thrown in to keep it held together. Really a guy movie through and through, not saying female won't enjoy it, but it is clear aimed at the masculine audience. The core of Bunraku is of two drifters coming into a town ruled by an aged bad ass and his gang of killers. Each drifter has their own reason for coming to town, and although they don't immediately join forces, they do eventually with the help of a bartender.

15 Plot
The plot is fairly simple and follows all the proper tropes of a marital arts revenge flick. The skill level of the two drifters are shown, the skill level of the killers and the aged bad ass are shown, the motivation for the characters are laid out. Nothing more, nothing less, it works and doesn't try to reach to far.

20 Acting
The characters are rather two dimensional, but the actors do bring them up a notch. All the performance are well done, from Gackt! as the young Samurai, Josh Harrent as the Drifter, Kevin McKidd as Killer #2, Woody Harrelson as the bartender, and Ron Perlman as the man bad ass Nicola. I think Ron Perlman has found a new niche for himself as the aged badass that you still don't want to mess with.

25 Directing
Guy Moshe created a mash up of; pop up art, comic book, video games, stage tricks, and much much more in the same movie. Some great shots and some interesting set design. The use of tricks of the trade of stage plays are well done and fit the style of the movie.

25 X-Factor
Everything is bright and vivid color and comes off visually stunning ways. Think Sin City or 300 but technicolor, this is the visual style Dick Tracy wished to be. You could also make an argument that he mixed to much into the film and the visual take center stage over the characters and story. The fights are well done, a mix of dance and marital arts, they are not overly wire worked or overly gritty and realistic.

85 Total

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Back in the 70's Bruce Lee made Chen Zhen a Chinese folk hero in Fists of Fury. Then the story was retold staring Jet Li in Fist of Legend. The story was recreated once again in a TV series version of Fist of Fury staring Donnie Yen. This movie is a sequel to the TV series and is Donnie Yens return to the role of Chen Zhen.

The movie starts off in France during the first world war as Chen Zhen is among Chinese sent to aid the allies. They are not soldiers but on the front lines delivering ammo to the troops. Of course things go from bad to worse and Chen Zhen has to break out the kung fu and parkour skills to take out enemy soldiers and a machine gun nest. One of his fellow soldiers doesn't make it, and once the fighting is over he takes his identity and Chen Zhen is left dead in France.

We then go to Shanghai in 1925, the Casablanca club which is the hot spot for the movers and shakers in the city, including the Japanese and English. Chen Zhen is now disguised with a pencil mustache as the piano player in the Jazz band. After changing the tune requested by the Japanese officers in the club, he strikes up a friendship with the owner and the popular hostess/singer. Next thing we know he is part owner of the club, and it seems the main owner is also triad gangster. Chen Zhen is working with the Chinese resistance trying to unite China and fight off the coming Japanese invasion. Mean while the Japanese general is trying to keep the Chinese at each others throats, so their planned invasion can go off more smoothly. What follows is politics, intrigue, death lists, and kung fu.

15 Plot
The movie starts strong introduces the audience the the characters and situation, then kicks everything into high gear. I think the first few acts are better then the later acts, as the story moves forward it seems to condensed trying to do to much.

15 Acting
Good acting by most of the cast. Although many of the characters were pretty one dimensional, especially the Japanese.

20 Directing
Some great shots and feel of Shanghai in the 20s, they really brought it to life with the use of some stellar sets and CGI.

20 X-Factor
Action and fights are always a major part of the X-factor for a marital arts film. Even though they weren't all constant the great ones made up for the ones that weren't as good, and there were no bad fights.

Total 70
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Not in such a long time have I disliked, then liked, and then disliked a movie all at the same time. The contradiction is do to the movie being made up of three separate tales that make up the storyline. They are all interconnected, linked by the creation of a cleaver made from the ore of the weapons of the deadliest warriors in the land.

The movie starts with the introduction to the three titled characters and the Chinese zodiac that represent them; the pig for the Butcher, the snake for the Chef, and the rooster for the Swordsman. The Butcher story starts the movie off, he is loud, annoying, and not pretty. He is presented as a not very subtle buffoon, no attempt is really made to make him likable or sympathetic. He is trying to win the love of a madam in the brothel house which he saw in the window and thinks she loves him when she dropped her handkerchief to him. However he is driven off by the Breadedman, a powerful swordsman. The Butcher and his equally annoying sidekick then run into what appears to be a crazy man with a cleaver that the Butcher wants to use as revenge against the Breadedman. But he is told that the cleaver can't be used to kill, and goes on to tell his story. He turns out to be the Chef.

The whole first part of the movie I was actually wondering if I had wasted my money, it was funny in some parts, but mainly annoying and grated a bit on my nerves. Everything was over the top, nothing subtle. Then the others stories started and everything changed. The Chef story was much better, still a bit slapstick but a greater story is starting to develop. Halfway through the Chef story we are then told to origin of the Swordsman story and the origin of the cleaver. Then it is back to the finally of the Chefs story. These two stories were excellent and very well done, but once they finished we went back to the Butcher.

The last part of the movie was back to not very subtle and full of everything and the kitchen sink set of gags. These include a fighting game parody, complete with life bars and sound effects, as well as a Chinese news computer recreation of a key event.

So the beginning and end of the movie were not very good, but the middle was fantastic. I think the Butcher part of the story was 40% to 50% of the film, which makes it feel like padding to get the movie over 90 minutes.

15 Plot
The plot for the Chef and the Swordsman parts are 25 but the Butcher was a 5, so I have to give the movie as a whole a 15 average.

15 Acting
The characters in the Butcher part were mostly annoying and meant to be that way and I would give them a 5. The characters in the Chef and Swordsman parts were much much more interesting and intriguing, and give them a 20.

20 Directing
I liked the directing, even in the butcher parts, all though the kitchen sink style during the second Butcher part was a bit odd.

25 X Factor
The great parts of the Chef and the Swordsman story make up for the badness of the Butcher. But if I was to watch it again I would go right to the start of the Chef and the Swordsmen and then stop watching when it went back to the butcher. Some people may like the Butcher story more then me. Another big part of the story was the cleaver itself, it became a character. It had mystical properties with some interesting results.

75 Total

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I left feeling really let down by this low budget giant monster flix. I really didn't except much, and the movie kind of failed to deliver that. I knew it was low budget, I knew it only stared two people, I knew they didn't spend a ton of money on high end effects. But in the end the movie was more of a road movie love story then a horror movie. And I guess I was hoping for a bit more on the Horror side. I don't think this movie can be classified as a horror movie. The horror aspect of the movie is mostly misdirection.

10 Plot
I get the pseudo-documentary style of following around just two characters. I get learning more about the infection zone as they learn, and the audience is learning about the characters at the same time. I get the story is about the journey. But damn nothing really happens in the infection zone, for being portrayed as so dangerous it wasn't. Maybe that was the point the movie was making, and I just hated the point.

15 Acting
I give the two actors credit they did a good job, they had chemistry together. Getting locals to play the extra gave it a pseudo-documentary style. Also they do pull a fast one that the rich girl was more down to Earth and responsible then the news photographer.

15 Directing
Some nice cinematography, great location shooting, but nothing truly stunning.

5 X-Factor
The title Monsters were cool looking, and you do get some nice shots of them. But over all you don't see them enough, and they really only seemed threatening in one scene. Also all most all tension building scenes were defused and were pretty much misdirection. Lastly you saw that the larval monsters were attached to the trees, and the giant version walking around, nothing in between. There were some tentacles in the water, but that was brief. Also these creatures seemed to be around for a few years and no one seems to realize they are attracted to lights? The audience figured it out, but no one in the movie seemed too?

45 Total

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If you are a fan of Tsui Hark, Sammo Hung fight choreography, or HK martial arts film in general this is a must see film. The film is based on the Detective Dee novels, from what I gathered the original story was written in the 18th century China, Then in the 1950's through the 1960's more stories were written. The stories are fictional accounts of a real historical figure Di Renjie a Judge, i.e. investigator, in the Tang Dynasty.

Think of as a Chinese equivalent of Sherlock Holmes, only in a world of Martial Arts. The film shares a lot of similarities to the Guy Richie Sherlock Holmes movie from last year. But Tsui Hark and Guy Richie know how to craft a good detective story, being able to visual bring the clues from a novel to life on screen.

I can't say much about the story without spoilers, so I will move on to my favorite 4 categories ratings. Each is rated between 0 and 25 adding together they make a rating of 0-100

20 Plot
The story was a well crafted mystery. Clues were given through out the story, most you put together at the same time the characters do. Some that seemed like incidental information at the time turn out to be important clues.

20 Acting
This is always tough when the film is another language to the viewer. I am being conservative here because I liked all the performances, no annoying characters, etc…

25 Directing
Tsui Hark still has it, he is a master director and this movie is no exception. If you have never seen a Tsui Hark movie, it is a great one to start with. If you are a fan of his films like I am you will not be disappointed. Sammo Hung, did a great job with the wire work fights.

25 X Factor
The movie has plenty of X factor to go around, I can hardly go into it without to many spoilers. Again if you are a fan of Martial Arts movies, or Tsui Hark, it is a most see film.

Total 90

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Time to shake off the dust of the old LJ. Been to long as I have, like many others, started posting more and more to Twitter @szmigiel and Facebook. But 140 characters isn't enough to talk about all the films I saw at TIFF 2010. So BAM back on good old LJ, so I will be posting the reviews of the films I saw in-between getting some millage and football.

Stay tuned all of you still reading LJ

Oh and I wanted to give thanks to the Midnight Madness staff at TIFF, they picked some fine films, and there was some more I wish I could have seen. I hope as TIFF still grows it never thinks they are too good for the Midnight Madness aspects of the festival.
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Time to shake off the dust of the old LJ. Been to long as I have, like many others, started posting more and more to Twitter @szmigiel and Facebook. But 140 characters isn't enough to talk about all the films I saw at TIFF 2010. So BAM back on good old LJ, so I will be posting the reviews of the films I saw in-between getting some millage and football.

Stay tuned all of you still reading LJ

Oh and I wanted to give thanks to the Midnight Madness staff at TIFF, they picked some fine films, and there was some more I wish I could have seen. I hope as TIFF still grows it never thinks they are too good for the Midnight Madness aspects of the festival.
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The bank might be moving on my bid. The house is a short sale on the market since the beginning of August and I put my bid in at the end of that month.
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So with less then a week left in 2009 I don't think I will be buying a home before the end of the year. But boy have I learned allot about how the housing market works in this economy. There are plenty of homes for sale, all over, you can pick your city, your neighborhood, your street, there is probably a house for sale there. Can you get the house? Thats a good question.

Are there some deals?
Hell Yes there are?

What are your chances of getting that deal?
Very little.

Types of Homes

For Sale By Owner: So they bought the house, put some work into it, now they want to sell. But the market is low, and the price they paid might be more then the going rate for same in the same neighborhood. Can't blame them for wanting to get money out of their purchase, a house is suppose to be an investment. But in this market they are asking too much so the house sits on the market.

Short Sale: So they need to sell, but know they can't get what they owe on the house back, let alone a profit. So they ask the lending bank to forgive the difference between between what they sell it for and what they owe. Sounds better then foreclosing and the bank getting less. Problem is when you put a bid on, the bank thinks, well someone is willing to pay X for the house, maybe someone else will pay X+1 or more, and the wait for the higher bid. After all they have the other bid to fall back on, so they wait, and wait, and wait. Figuring they don't have to settle to right before it needs to be foreclosed on.

Flip: Someone got a deal on a house that needed work. They put as little money as they can, then put it back for as big as a profit as they think they can get away with. It is very easy to spot a flip, new windows, new paint, nice kitchen (although lacking cabinets). I am not against someone trying to make a little profit, but I am not giving someone a big profit for basically just prettying up the joint and hiding the problems. Luckily there is Zillow.com and you can see the last sale and for how much, then make a judgement call on the work they put into it.

Foreclosure: There are two types of foreclosures; ones in bad shape that needs a lot of work, and those in great shape that are a great deal. Surprising both sell real fast once they go on the market. The ones in great shape will have cash bids in within days of going back on the market. The listing price maybe low, but you better bid high to get it. It can also be months between going off the market as a short sale, and coming back as a cheap foreclosure.
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