Saturday, May 08, 2021

The Spy Who Loved Me movie review

Roger Moore's third movie:

Dave's review: The Spy Who Loved Me is everything a Bond film should be. It's easily the best of the Moore films. It's the film that inspired Christopher Nolan to make Tenet. It's the film that introduced Jaws, one of the most memorable Bond henchmen ever. Barbara Bach is stunning as Triple X. The storyline where 007 killed her lover infuses the movie with an extra degree of intrigue. Atlantis is a sight to behold and the use of Mozart's "Elvira Madigan" when it rises from the sea is music to my ears. The theme song "Nobody Does It Better" is also pitch perfect, as well as the use of the most locales for any Bond film. The scenes in Egypt in particular are enchanting. Finally, how bout that pre credits sequence when 007 skis off a mountain?! Still to this date one of the greatest stunts in cinematic history. This is a movie to be savored. 

TT's review: I need to watch For Your Eyes Only again to refresh my memory, because I'm fairly certain The Spy Who Loved Me is my favorite Moore Bond film. Sure, it's formulaic. It has the ski chase scene, the car chase scene, and the underwater chase scene. But they are all fantastic! Everything is just perfection. I particularly enjoyed the telephone van in the Sahara desert. And don't get me started on the iconic Lotus submarine. To top it off, up to that point, this must have been the least sexist and least racist Bond film. My only tiny complaint is that Stromburg was more grandfatherly than evil.

Dave's response: I thought Stromberg was fairly sinister, otherwise looks like we are in agreement that this is one of the best installments in the series. 

TT's response: We are in agreement!

Dave's grade: A+

TT's grade: A+

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

The Lost Coast: Day Two (and Day Three)

Getting a meal at the Lost Coast is a dicey proposition. Yesterday evening, the innskeeper told me that the only place open for dinner was the brewery but because they were short staffed, I had to be patient. The food was great, but I think I waited for almost an hour for my meal. This morning, I saw an ad in the local paper. The brewery was desperate to hire staff.

The little coffee shop downstairs from the inn was supposed to be open at 7am. My plan was to grab something to go for my hike. But when I went down there, it was closed. The owners left to celebrate their anniversary. This was inconvenient as the start of the hike was two hours away and high tide was at 1pm. There was a section of the hike that was impassable then.

I passed the time while driving by listening to a local FM station. First up was a radical LGBTQ news program. They spent a lot of time on a Mexican and Namibian gay couple who were not able to adopt their twin girls in South Africa. Then, the radio station played a community meeting from the night before where a national forest representative took questions from the public about how the federal government was going to take care of all the damage caused by last year's horrific fires. The audience was pissed.

The trailhead at Mattole River Beach.

The plan was to walk 3.2 miles south to the Punta Gorda Lighthouse and back. There was barely anyone there. It was beautiful. Walking on the sand was difficult.

My footprints.

I took a break here and ate an orange.

You can barely make out the abandoned lighthouse in the distance.

I had to cross a few streams. I just got progressive lenses and all these rocks made my vision blurry,

Thankfully, the last half-mile to the lighthouse had a solid dirt path. After slogging through the sand, I felt like I was on a moving walkway.

Just below the lighthouse was a seal rookery. Oh, I forgot. While walking to the lighthouse, I saw up close four or five vultures feasting on a cute seal. Its head was intact and its eyes were open. It did not look like it was in pain. But the rest of its body was in the process of being picked clean. Nature.

The walk back was tough due to strong northerly winds. This is why they recommend that one-way hikers go from north to south. With about an eight of a mile left, I had a cramp in my quad.

I celebrated with an incredibly juicy and cheap ($7.55) jalapeno double bacon cheese burger with onion rings at No Brand Burger Stand in Ferndale.

Back in Shelter Cove, I decided to check out a couple of movies. The internet was too slow for streaming.

After 15 minutes, the In the Line of Fire tape broke. So I watched Clerks. It was still pretty funny.

The next morning, I drove back home. I listened to a pro-agriculture radio station. Its audience was mad at a recent California law that banned poor treatment of pigs and other livestock.

I stopped in Garberville and ATE INSIDE at Eel River Cafe. I went in because there was only one other guy eating inside (and I just had my second Moderna shot). It was hard getting used to eating inside.


Monday, May 03, 2021

The Lost Coast: Day One

After years of reading about the Lost Coast of Northern California, I finally went!

The Lost Coast is a stretch of the coastline that is desolate and rugged. Because of heavy rain and frequent seismic activity, the Pacific Coast Highway never made it there. I first learned about it in college. There was wilderness that was once the home of the Sinkyone native people. A paper company wanted to chop down the trees, and I joined a protest group on campus to stop the destruction. We succeeded!

In order to get there, I first took Highway 101. I had driven through the Chandelier Tree once, in my first generation TSX sedan. But I had to take a picture of my wagon and the tree for my son at home. So I paid the $10.

Next up was lunch at The Peg House. It was supposed to have one of the best burgers in the West. It was above average. I was also looking forward to their BBQ oysters, but their oysterman wouldn't deliver fresh ones until the next day. Coupled with a lack of internet, I was getting a taste of the Lost Coast.

Once I got to Fortuna, I filled the wagon up with gas and turned off 101. Ferndale was the last real town in civilization.

The road to Cape Mendocino (the westernmost point of California) was windy, narrow, steep, and full of cows. The photo below was taken during the descent to the coast. It reminded me of Switzerland.

There's the wagon in front of the cape.

The next stretch was along the coast. It was pretty spectacular.

Once the road turned inland to Petrolia and Honeydew and beyond, it was a nightmare of a drive. I didn't dare take any pictures. The two hour drive was exhausting. I was going to stay at an inn at Shelter Cove. I first stopped at the general store for some provisions for the next day's hike. I spotted this Ford Ranger pickup truck that was getting some use.

I got the best room in the house, a corner unit on the top floor. I had fish and chips at the only restaurant that was open and got back to the room just in time to catch the sunset.

Tomorrow, the hike!

Far From Home podcast

On the recommendation of @DasPretzels, I downloaded Season One and listened to the whole thing during my three-day Lost Coast road trip. It's about an ex-NPR reporter and his photographer brother driving from London to Ulan Ude in a red (and very unreliable) Nissan Micra for the Mongol Rally.

Before I listened to it, I kind of turned my nose up at the rally because I assumed it was a Jackass-type race with little regard for the safety of and respect for the local population. I was wrong. 

This podcast is perfect for long drives. Enjoy!

Mongol Rally 2016 highlights from scottgurian on Vimeo.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Traveling up a river to mine for gold in Suriname

This is pretty intense. There are rocky waterfalls on the river and everything has to be unloaded, hand carried for one kilometer, and then reloaded onto different boats (including the outboard motors).

Sultan of Brunei's car collection

I asked an Indonesian car enthusiast about the Sultan's car collection and he sent these YouTube links to me. The first video is a compilation of still photos taken in 2001. The second video is more recent.

Thanks, @t_r_maulana !

Monday, April 19, 2021

Migrants are crossing the Darien Gap again

On the Colombian side:

On the Panama side:

Mercedes 600SL review

I spotted this one-owner 600SL over the weekend (sorry for the blurry shot) and found this MotorWeek review. What an incredible car for 1993!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

1955 Mack fire truck San Francisco tour

We celebrated the boy's fourth birthday with a fire truck tour!

It was a gorgeous day and everyone-- kids and adults-- had a great time. The truck was retired from service in the 1980s. It used to carry 500 gallons of water. I sat in the very back and the ride was very bouncy.

The 90-minute tour included the Presidio, the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Baker, and the Marin Headlands. Riding it made me miss my Wrangler with the top off.

I learned that all San Francisco fire trucks have wooden ladders because of the low hanging electric wires for the trolleys. 

The tour guide also mentioned all the movies shot in San Francisco, including Dirty Harry. So I watched it for the first time. It's pretty entertaining.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

My boy's fourth birthday

For privacy, time management, and mental health reasons, I am trying to quit Instagram. So you're stuck looking at my family photos on my blog! Today, we celebrated my son's birthday by visiting the Bay Area Discovery Museum, at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

We got there early, so the boy suggested we drive around and climb a hill.

In my 26 years in the Bay Area, I had never been to this spot. This is the best view of the bay!

At the museum parking lot, there was this seemingly abandoned and non-running Jaguar. But when we came back to our van in the afternoon, the Jag was gone!

There was a new exhibit about how things worked. There was a transparent (and working) toilet and this half-Mini Cooper. Our girl hogged the steering wheel and when I took her outside so that other kids could play with the car, she had a massive meltdown/tantrum.

The boy is crazy about fire trucks and asked my wife to make a fire-themed cake. Can you tell he's excited?

Mind calming Japanese restaurant videos

I've been watching these for relaxation. Dude goes to traditional, divey, restaurants in Japan and just records the cooking and eating process. There's no talking. Like this:

Monday, April 05, 2021

The Man with the Golden Gun movie review

Roger Moore's second movie:

Dave's review: The Man with the Golden Gun is a film that gets better with each viewing. There is a lot of tongue in cheek humor but if you can ignore that, there is also a quite compelling story which delivers a powerful payoff at the end. Christopher Lee is in the top tier of Bond villains and he plays his part with the requisite dose of sinister charm. Maud Adams is fantastic in her warm-up for the title role of Octopussy many films later. Yes Herve Villacheuve is distracting but the series has always been about weird as well as menacing. As mentioned before, the ending is really extremely clever and suspenseful and makes up for some earlier flaws in the film. Moore has now made 007 his own and the best is yet to come. 

TT's review: This movie gets maligned by Bond fans because of the juvenile corkscrew car jump. I didn't like this movie in the past because it was so 70s. But this time around, I quite enjoyed it. My favorite scene is the one in which Bond visited the gunmaker Lazar. It involved real acting and was fun to watch. I also enjoyed the quaintness of early 1970s Macao, with its old school casinos. However, my grade does not take into account what I am about to say.

I think these old Connery and Bond flicks are simply too cringeworthy. I would not watch them with my kids, even when they're older. I understand they were a product of their era, but I'll stick to the more modern movies from now on. This may be the last time I watch these old ones.

Dave's response: Not sure what exactly is so cringeworthy about the Connery/Moore films. They are just movies. Bond is a somewhat sexist character. You don't have to like him, that's just how he is. People don't have to look at these movies for role models or life values, just entertainment :) 

TT's response: You're right. It is just entertainment!

Dave's score: B-

TT's score: B+

Sunday, April 04, 2021

I'm going to the Lost Coast!

Depending on when my second vaccine shot is scheduled, I will be going to the Lost Coast in late April for three days and two nights. I'll be staying in Shelter Cove. I'm not an outdoorsy type but I will do a part of the Lost Coast Trail, which is 21 miles of pristine wilderness. Once I get back, I'll share a little bit about why this place has been on my mind for almost 30 years.

I'm going to start at the mouth of the Mattole River near Petrolia and walk three to four miles south to the Punta Gorda Lighthouse. So basically 0:00 to 2:00 in the incredible video below.

Monday, March 29, 2021

189 US ambassadors

I just read that there are 189 US ambassadorships. But there are 193 UN member states. So what are the differences?

US ambassadorships but not UN member states

  • African Union
  • EU
  • Vatican City
  • ICAO (International Civil Aviation Org)
  • Kosovo
  • NATO
  • OAS
  • OECD
  • OPCW (Org for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons)
  • OSCE (Org for Security and Cooperation in Europe)
  • UN
  • UN Conference on Disarmament
  • UN Deputy Representative
  • UN Economic & Social Council
  • UN Geneva
  • UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Management & Reform
  • UN Political Affairs
  • UN Rome
  • UN Vienna

UN member states but no US ambassadors

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bhutan
  • North Korea
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Iran
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

US ambassadors for multiple states

  • Fiji/Kiribati/Nauru/Tonga/Tuvalu
  • France/Monaco
  • Gabon/Sao Tome & Principe
  • Italy/San Marino
  • Madagascar/Comoros
  • Mauritius/Seychelles
  • New Zealand/Samoa
  • Papua New Guinea/Solomon Islands/Vanuatu
  • Senegal/Guinea-Bissau
  • Spain/Andorra
  • Sri Lanka/Maldives
  • Switzerland/Liechtenstein


I went to a Mexican ice cream parlor on Saturday and it had a sign that said they sell Dorilocos on Wednesdays. What is it?

Friday, March 26, 2021

How to take car photos with your iPhone

Our Twitter friend Kevin M. (@kmccauley) has some excellent tips!

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Eating the Globe: Barbados

There is a Barbadian-owned restaurant in Oakland but everything on the menu is Jamaican. So I decided to buy some Barbadian cookies online. I accidentally bought too much.

The cookies/biscuits are dry and sweet. 

Countries tried so far:

Africa: Algeria, Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe
Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Vatican City
North America: Barbados, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga

Monday, March 22, 2021

Kubica around the Nurburgring

Ever since his accident, I've been curious to see what his hand looked like and how it functioned. This video popped up on YouTube. It's amazing.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Live and Let Die movie review

Moore makes his Bond debut!

Dave's review: Live and Let Die, in my opinion, is one of the most unique and refreshing Bond films. Ok, now I know there are going to be lots of charges of racism and stereotyping, but if you put that aside and just enjoy what you see, you'll realize Live and Let Die is a breath of fresh air. First of all, obviously, you have a new 007, Roger Moore, who seems comfortable in his own skin and doesn't try at all to be like his predecessor. The more intimate story, set in Harlem and New Orleans is a nice change of pace from several consecutive globe trotting adventures. Jane Seymour, as Solitaire, is stunning. The way Bond tricks her with her cards to devirginize her is one of the most memorable and of course pretty outrageous scenes in the film. You have a huge henchman named Tiny, another with a hook for an arm, and numerous people who are not what they seem. The only thing that slows things down is an interminable boat chase with the over the top J.W. Pepper. The ending on the Caribbean island where Bond attempts to rescue Solitaire is one of the absolute best. Long live the crocodile! 

TT's review: I can’t tell if I like or dislike this movie. It’s certainly more modern than the Connery films, almost like the transition from black and white film to color. In the opening gun barrel sequence, Moore was not wearing a hat!

Having grown up with Bond in the 80s, I’m not used to seeing a younger Moore. It was nice to see the inside of his home in this film.

Coincidentally, as I watched it last night, news broke of Yaphet Kotto’s passing. His performance was so-so. I really liked him in Homicide: Life on the Street. In Live and Let Die, he wasn’t fooling anyone while disguised as Mr. Big. And his ballooning death was absurd.

The highlight of the movie for me was the beautiful boat chase, featuring JW Pepper. He was quite the clown and a very unflattering caricature of a Southerner. 

Dave's response: It is interesting to see the inside of Bond's place for the first time. And yes I remember when I first watched this film, I figured from the very beginning that Mr. Big and Kananga were the same character. 

TT's response: I agree that the movie was unique. I know the boat chase was very incongruous with the rest of the film, but I liked it!

Dave's grade: A-

TT's grade: B-

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Sabine Schmitz

A shitty day yesterday turned even shittier with the news of Schmitz's death due to cancer. This really hit home. As some of you know, my wife was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer last April. After chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and radiation, this is exactly what my wife looked like:

Thankfully, my wife's prognosis is very, very good. But the chance of a relapse is always a concern.

I'll leave this with a happy memory. Most of us were introduced to her in this Top Gear segment in which she tried to beat the 10:00 mark in the Nurburgring in a Ford Transit. Rest in peace.

Flipped over iceberg