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Sitting here watching the fillies and mares races of the Breeders Cup seemed like a good time to write about the movie I watched last night, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story.

it's so predictable I don't really need a cut tag, but just in case )
So all in all, even though this was a very simplistic, heart tugging film with some serious unbelievability issues, in some ways it was a really nice representation of what is best about horse racing--and it was actually a good movie.  I recommend it to anyone who likes racing, and to anyone who just wants something that will make them happy for a couple of hours.

Wow, Zenyatta's at 3-5 for tomorrow.  My heart starts beating faster every time I pause to think about it.
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
Yesterday I got bangs/a fringe.  I'm quite liking it.  Everybody's reaction has been very positive, although one of our receptionists at the office said I look 15.  She said that like it was a good thing, though.  (for the belly dancers in the room, whenever I walk by a mirror I think "throw me in an 80s Pharonics and call me Lucy!")

Speaking of being 15, yesterday I wore leggings and a tunic, and today I'm wearing a black and white striped t-shirt with a black blazer.  It truly is the 80s again! 

Enjoyed the Belmont very much on Saturday, it was a real horse race.  It's an unusually long race, a mile and a half, so the entrants tend to be more serious contenders.  There was some discussion before the race of pressure to change the format of the Triple Crown, given how long it's been since there was a Triple Crown winner.  I share the opinion of those who say it's supposed to be hard, keep it as it is.  But I also strongly agreed with commentator/former jockey Jerry Bailey, who said if we want to see a Triple Crown winner again, the field for the Kentucky Derby should be reduced from 20 to 14.  Not to knock any of the Derby winners, but with that many horses in the field, winning the race is as much luck as skill and talent, if not more.

Going out to Ceremony tonight, hopefully see many of you there...
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Had the oddest dream last night about having to rescue Conduit from the man who made death threats against him. There were demons and teleporting involved. It was a bit Dick Francis meets Doctor Who meets Buffy, or maybe Angel. I would totally watch that if it were a tv show.

Pounding sinuses achey eyes inability to sleep well makes me a not terribly content woman today. Do not want. Still excited for the return of dance class tonight, though.

Random highlights from last week's vacation: the Tomb 10A exhibit at the MFA, delicious Dogfish Head beer on tap at Redbones, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I recommend those things very much. Also I tried a salsa DVD and while I was not very good at it I enjoyed it. It's good to jump out of one's comfort zone, and moving my feet that fast is definitely out of my comfort zone. I had no idea what to do with my arms.

oh how I want to curl up under my desk and sleep... time for more tea...
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Last night I found Edgar sucking on Sissy's neck and kneading at her with his front paws, while she did her best to ignore him. It was cute yet disturbing at the same time. And definitely proof that those Marshall Farms ferrets are taken away from their mothers too early. In general they are cozy enough with each other that we're not locking him in his cage any more, and given that he hasn't been sleeping in it for several days, I think we can finally put it away. He's still skittish and easily startled, and plays a little too rough for my liking with little Sisiutl, but in general he's settled in really well. Yay!

I'm dancing at 11:30pm at the Middle East this Sunday. For once I am being sensible and making a set out of all music I have used before, with the exception of one Hakim song but if you've danced to other Hakim songs, you can dance to them all pretty much.

Looking forward to cheering on Zenyatta in the Breeders Cup Classic tomorrow. If she wins, or even puts in a gutsy show or place, this is truly the year of the filly and mare in horse racing. I'd be glad to see it. If a filly is just as big and strong as a colt, there's no reason not to run her with the colts. And if that messes with the statistics a future breeding sire is compiling to determine his future worth, then good, frankly. Racing veers too close to existing for the sake of the money that can be made in the breeding shed rather than for the sake of the competition among talented athletes. Perhaps the regular participation of fillies and mares in more races can provide a spoiler effect. Also, I am not ashamed to admit an upswell of female solidarity and pride in my heart when I see a Rachel Alexandra or a Zenyatta take on and beat the boys ;-)
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Even knowing how it ends, my heart still leaps into my throat during that stretch run...


Jun. 8th, 2009 11:46 am
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Huge congratulations to David and Gauri!  It is hard to imagine two people better suited to each other :-)  I was deeply honored to be a part of the ceremonial proceedings and to dance at the Garba.  The song I performed to was about two people waiting to meet each other, knowing they are out there and that they will fall madly in love once they meet.  It seemed very appropriate :)

It was a fun weekend of wedding festivities, with some of the best food, best dancing and best dressed people at any wedding ever.  Hooray for bridesmaid outfits one can most certainly wear again!  Gauri looked stunning in each of her outfits and David was the epitome of distinguished.  It really was such a warm, wonderful experience.  Looking at the mehndi on my hand, I feel a happy afterglow.

Ferrets are doing pretty well.  I would like to see them both eating more, but their appetites are steadily improving, so that's progress.  Ianto pounced at me yesterday, the first time I've seen that in a while.  And Sissy stole a sports bra out of the laundry and hid it in the living room, showing that she is back to her enterprising self.  They're still both looking a little fragile to me but I hope they will continue to improve.  I've been asked to dance at a fundraiser for the shelter I adopted them from in July, which makes me very happy (and again glad for the Zipcar membership, since I could just say yes without checking with M first about his availability to go with me).

My pick for the Belmont came in second, digging in pretty unexpectedly for a strong effort.  I can see him really improving as he matures.  If I had known about the owners of the winning horse, he would have been my favorite, given the rest of the weekend (hint:  they are Indian :-).

We have gotten hooked on Primeval, watching season 2 on SciFi on Fridays and season 3 on BBC America on Saturdays.  Slightly confusing, but hey, the show is about time travel anyway, so it doesn't really matter. 

The house was completely empty and quiet yesterday afternoon and so I had my most satisfying yoga practice in a long time.  Focused on my arms and shoulders, which are now complaining today but in a good way.

And that's pretty much that.  Oh, the issue with the Dell laptop is definitely the wireless card--I played it all day with the wireless card disabled and nary a pop.  The Dell tech did some remote stuff on the laptop, changing some of the settings of the wireless card, but to no avail, once the card is enabled the popping begins.  Next step, a tech will replace the wireless card.  Based on what I have read online, that may or may not fix the problem.  But at any rate, the computer will be usable for music stuff again, as long as one doesn't need to be online at the same time.  I am irked that I am the one who diagnosed the problem, not Dell, but will make a point of telling Dell this, so maybe they will add this to the scripts the techs use for sound problems...


May. 16th, 2009 10:34 pm
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
beautiful beautiful beautiful :-)
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (Default)
On Saturday, we went apple picking at Russell Orchards in Ipswich.

You take a tractor-pulled hay wagon to get to the orchard:

more photos, mostly animals not apples )

It was a nice orchard, rather crowded on a beautiful October day but I would go there again, though more likely on a weekday.  I got some lovely apples and ate a fresh cider donut and also picked up some wines and jam and chive blossom vinegar at the store.  I can now say I've had dandelion wine.  It isn't bad, but it's not something you need much of.  Saying you're drinking it makes you feel like an elf or fairy, though, so that counts for something.

Funny moment:  a young girl, maybe four-ish, ran up to a flock of chickens yelling "Hello chickens!!!" and flapping her wings.  She followed them back around their coop, and her dad called out to her, "Don't go back there, honey, that's where the scary inbred backwoods people live!"  Which perhaps was not that appropriate a thing to say, but the look on her face was priceless--she had no idea what that meant, but it sounded pretty bad and so she got out of there pronto!
In other news, Big Brown has been retired.  During a workout, he whacked one of his front hooves with one of his back hooves and sheared a pretty big chunk of it right off :-(  I suppose it's the old trouble with the relative weakness and brittleness of his hooves.  It's not expected to be life threatening as long as it can be kept from getting infected, but given his stud value, it is certainly career-ending.  He really did do some incredible things as a racehorse and it's sad not to get to see what he'll do next.  I hope his feet problems aren't genetic...
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Suffolk Downs just became the first track in the country to ban sale of thoroughbreds for slaughter right off the track because of the inhumane conditions en route to and at the slaughterhouses.  Full story in this Globe article, which includes some grisly details (though at least the online article doesn't include the photo of hanging carcasses that the print edition saw fit to include).  It makes me all the happier to be going to the Mass Cap this Saturday--in fact according to the article, trainer Nick Zito is sending Commentator to the Mass Cap to make a statement in support of this ban.  I don't know about that, as I think the decision to send Commentator there must have been made a while ago, but it's good to have a big trainer expressing support of the track's policy.  And it's good to read about a trainer like Lorita Lindemann, the trainer featured in the Globe story, who has been working at the lower end of the industry to try to remedy its wrongs.  I know those wrongs are still plentiful, but one way to right them is to support tracks that are working on making things better.
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (fruityoatytrio)
We have tickets to the MassCap now, yay!  I can't find a seating chart online, but the guy I ordered the tickets from said the box of seats we got was right before the finish line.  We do have one extra seat, if anybody is interested in a day at the races (that would be Sept. 20). 

Getting "we've received" notifications from Netflix reminded me that we watched two movies this weekend:

  • The Orphanage.  Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, making his leap from music videos to the big screen, and produced by Guillermo del Toro, I've seen it frequently referred to as the third part of a trilogy also containing del Toro's The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth.  While it isn't as nearly good as either of those two movies, it is a very well made film of horror and suspense, helping to cement Spain's reputation as the new home of art horror films.  It isn't terribly violent or gory (in fact, I can't bring to mind much gore, really none in the sense of guts strewn about) but I often found myself at the edge of my seat, one hand to my face, desperately wanting/fearing to know what happens next.  Very nice camerawork and cinematography helped create a creepily tense atmosphere.  M and I disagreed on whether it had a happy ending or not.  I felt it did,  he felt it did not.  I'm happy to discuss it in the comments, if anyone has seen it and has an opinion, or just wants to know why I thought it was happy (tragic happy, but happy).
  • Joe Strummer:  The Future is Unwritten.  I really enjoyed this warts and all biography/retrospective by Julian Temple (see, people who I was talking to on Sunday?  You do recognize the name, even if I couldn't remember it at the time!).  Joe Strummer comes across as intensely driven and talented, and not always a nice guy, particularly mid-career.  Fatherhood and discovering raves seemed to have mellowed him out later in life, so that even the people who had just cause to be pretty angry with him early on all spoke glowingly of him in his later years.  The film uses footage from the past, sometimes with the original voices, and footage of friends and colleagues of Joe's in the present, commenting on him and how he affected their lives.  Nobody is named on screen, which is slightly frustrating at times but also means the words of an obscure hippy chick are given the same narrative weight as those of say Flea or Bono, which I think gives a more complete picture of Joe.  Fascinating portrait of a man rather torn between art vs. commercial success/righteous behavior vs. commercial success, and a fascinating portrait of the early days of punk and how the movement changed over the years.
Tonight, I get my hair done, then tomorrow it's off to NY!  Can't believe this is really happening!
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RIP Genuine Risk...  Her Kentucky Derby win in 1980 was totally inspirational to me as a young girl, and perfectly timed as a symbolic capstone to the 70s era of women's rights and insistence on equality.  I've always been happy to think of her happily living out her days at pasture, and I'm glad she lived to her ripe old age of 31, still beautiful in her chestnut coat and with the gravitas of a older mare.
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Good old Evening Attire just won a fairly big stakes race at the ripe old age of ten, breaking a 16-year-old track record for a mile and a half--not only is he still running, but he's running at a mile and a half!  Granted the competition wasn't much, but still, you can't argue with a broken record.  One of the reasons he's still running is that he's a gelding and so there is no financial incentive to retire him, but his connections did actually try to give him the retirement they felt he'd earned a few years ago.  He wasn't having any of it and was sulky and surly until he was brought back to the track.  So they'll race him as long as he's sound.  I find his longevity and stamina so heartening, and I hope whatever was done so right with him can be done with other horses, whether it was breeding or training or both.  I saw him run (and won money on him :) in the Mass Cap several years ago when he was still iron grey; when I saw him run last year he was silver, but looking just as sharp.
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Informative article on steroids and race horses, for anyone who's interested.  Sounds like nobody really knows anything for sure at this point but a lot of thinking is being done.
alonewiththemoon: Drumlin Farm Banding Station 2016 (fruityoatytrio)
Here's my commentary on the weather:

My brain and lungs and stomach hate the heat, but I have to admit my muscles are loving it. Various aches and pains have disappeared over the last couple of days and even my foot is doing pretty well. Also, I love Siouxsie's jacket in that clip.

We set up the house for weasels last night, it's very exciting! Also went to Ikea and bought a filing cabinet system thingy from the Effektiv line--you buy all the various components to design your own storage unit. It sucked building it in the heat, but at long last I have a filing drawer that easily opens and closes and somewhere to put all the printer junk and other odds and ends.

Been thinking a bit more about the Belmont. here's what I've been thinking )
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Since it looks like everything is okay, I am definitely sadder about the passing of Jim McKay.  In addition to his being a wonderful commentator on horse racing, I grew up to the sound of his voice on Wide World of Sports.
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The US House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, in preparation for holding hearings on the subject, has written major Thoroughbred racing figures to ask for, among other things, details on equine injuries; whether racing programs bolstered by gaming revenue use money for research to improve the breed; and whether industry officials support formation of a national governing body for horse racing.  The Subcommittee may convene hearings on the subject as early as June.  Steroids will be a big part of the hearings, as they were for hearings held by the same Subcommittee on baseball and other sports.  I think this is a very positive development, although the Subcommittee is not giving the industry much time to provide the information that they've requested.  In a way, even that might be a good thing because it will make it clear what a state of disarray the industry is in with regard to knowing what it's doing.  This Subcommittee also has jurisdiction over the Interstate Horseracing Act, which allows for simulcast betting, and it sounds like taking away simulcast betting is being held over the industry as a very sizeable stick to ensure cooperation.

I know that this may devolve into a states' rights issue, especially with a Kentucky Republican being the ranking member of that subcommittee, but I hope that this will be what finally modernizes the sport.  At least everybody seems to agree, at least publicly, that the industry needs external help to get its act together.  My rep., Edward Markey, is on the Subcommittee so I've already written him to express my support of increased scrutiny and reform of the racing industry.  I have no idea what his position on the matter might be, but hey, at least now he knows one voter's. 


May. 17th, 2008 06:55 pm
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Granted the competition wasn't much, but that was *beautiful*, just picture book perfect.

Also, kudos to NBC Sports for handling controversy head on by dedicating the first half hour of the two hour broadcast to a panel discussion of safety in the racing industry and an interview on the same with Alex Waldrop, the head of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.  I was pleased to hear from Waldrop that by Jan. 1, 2009 most states will have banned *any* steroid use in horses.  If enough states ban it, then that's effectively a national ban, since trainers move their horses around from track to track and state to state.  Progress is being made, bit by bit.
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The thought of going to the plant nursery and picking up herbs and annuals is far more enticing than the thought of going to the laundromat and watching our comforter spin in circles.  Leaving the comforter at the laundromat while buying plants isn't really an option, unfortunately--maybe if I had a car, but not when traveling by bus.  Decisions, decisions.  I have to do some housecleaning today too, as we're having my parents over tomorrow for a belated mother's day dinner.  Oh!  I should go to the plant nursery, because then I could get my mom a planty present!  All I could get her at the laundromat would be boxes of cheap detergent.  Then again, if that's my plan, then perhaps I should go to the nursery tomorrow so whatever I get for her is nice and fresh.  Plus, there's the Preakness to factor in.*

I picked up my new costume from the post office yesterday and it is stunning.  The photos at the website didn't begin to do it justice; there's fiery green metallic foil throughout the fabric and it sparkles even when you walk by it in regular lighting.  It will be dramatic under stage lights.  It is as expected a couple of inches too long, so I think I will have our local tailor's shop do the hemming for me.  I want to roll up the excess material rather than cut it, and I think doing that with slippery stretchy fabric is beyond me and my sewing machine's abilities.  There's also a couple of rhinestones missing, which I think is inexcusable for expensive costumes, but I've got an email into the Belly Dance Shop to see if they have any extras.  If they don't, Playtime is a Swarovski dealer so I'm sure I can find something close enough there.  For some reason the waist strap is enormously long, it goes around me one and a half times, enough to make me think that perhaps part of it is supposed to go somewhere else, but I can't figure out where.  But all these things are trivial--I'm enormously pleased and can't wait to wear it!

Thursday at the Athenian Corner made me realize how much I really, really miss performing regularly.  I don't think I can reasonably commit myself to more performances yet (and I promised myself not to take on more obligations before a show at the end of June), but I'll be raring to go once my foot is under control!

*an autopsy was completed on Eight Belles, btw.  There were absolutely no pre-existing conditions or any discernible factors that could have led to her fatal accident.  The owners and trainers are sensitive enough to public opinion that they ordered complete drug screens, etc on her.  The article I read mentioned that horses with her long, low running style have a tendency to trip over or knock together their own feet, and it's thought that this is what happened to her, combined with extremely bad luck in how each foot landed as she tripped.  So, while there are lots of reasons to criticize horse racing, her death is really not a rallying point for that, and I plan to watch the Preakness.  Think about this--the more people who watch racing, the greater the public scrutiny of the sport, and that's a good thing.
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Informative blog entry by Alex Waldrop, CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, on how the industry is responding to Saturday's tragedy, and what the industry has already been doing to try to improve things.  As he says, change cannot happen overnight, but it is happening.  I'm particularly heartened to read that strengthening the horses through better breeding practices is an important priority.  That's a change that will take generations of horses to be felt, but it's vital.

edited to add: Julishka alerted me to today's On Point discussion of Thoroughbred racing, and it's very worth listening to. A lot of the kinds of questions on everyone's minds were discussed; maybe not answered, but at least it's a balanced look at the status quo and discussion of facts, as opposed to rumors and urban legend. It was heartening to get the sense from Wayne Pacelle (HSUS president) that he thinks horse racing can be done in a non-abusive way and that it's not inherently evil. PETA has really been pissing me off (what else is new) with their calls for the jockey's suspension and so forth and so I am very glad that there are animal protection groups willing to work with the industry to help it rather than end it. It was also very interesting to hear Jim Squires' view as a breeder; I've read his book Horse of a Different Color, and I wish more were like him--or perhaps that more owners would choose breeders like him.
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After reading articles in the Bloodhorse and the Globe, I think I have to agree with [ profile] misscalculation 's comment yesterday that what happened to Eight Belles really was the worst kind of freakish accident.  The track vet at Churchill Downs said he'd never seen anything like it in his years of experience, and he's a well experienced vet.  If she had only broken one ankle, they would have stabilized her on the track and possibly her life could have been saved, but there's simply no way to stabilize a horse with two broken legs.  Obviously her connections feel terrible, but the trainer said he had no signs at all that there was anything wrong with her, that she went into the race perfectly comfortably and naturally and had been training very well in the days before the race.  I think I share the general conclusion that this was an unpreventable tragedy.

I don't think she could have caught Big Brown--I think he had a couple of gears left that he hadn't touched yet, which makes me think the Belmont is his though I'm not sure about the Preakness--but she put away 18 other colts who were among the top winning three year olds in the US, and that's saying a lot. 


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