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August 2009 Archives

August 2, 2009

Walks in the Woods

The hiking we did on our trip to Acadia was the beginning of what's becoming a new favorite hobby for us. You know someone is getting serious about something when they drop a bunch of dough on it, which we did last month when we bought new shoes and a trail guide. We've been on five hikes since Acadia:

  • Huntington State Park, Redding, CT. Our first hiking venture here in Connecticut and probably the closest hiking trails to our place of residence. 2.5 miles along the blue, green, red and white trails. The trails here were wide and multipurpose, as we saw evidence of horseback riding and mountain biking along the way. The terrain is nice and we should go back at some point to do more exploring.
  • Fahnestock State Park, Putnam County, NY. We walked the Catfish Loop (4.9 miles) at this sprawling New York state park with our friends Laura and Sara and their dog Ellie. All in all not a scintillating hike, but a pleasant enough trail on a nice day.
  • Appalachian Trail, Hoyt Rd to Bulls Bridge. Our first time on the venerable AT was 4 miles or so of trail from the New York-Connecticut border to Bulls Bridge, CT, which is actually a covered bridge and a bit of a local attraction. A nice up-and-down Ten Mile Hill and beautiful views of the Housatonic River, which was swollen and rushing from all the rain.
  • Lillinonah Trail, Newtown, CT. Our first Blue Blazed trail hike, we followed it from one parking area to the other, about 3.9 miles or so, along the shore of Lake Lillinonah. The trail, as noted on the website, is a bit steep, plus it was hot and buggy, which made this an exhausting hike, but a rewarding one.
  • Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, Cross River, NY. We took an approximately 5 mile hike out of one of the several guide books I've been getting from Interlibrary Loan. An easy hike along wide trails, this reminded us of Huntington State Park, except not as strenuous. We took a side trail called Leatherman's Loop to see one of the caves that the infamous Leatherman slept in on his wanderings.

So that's what we've been up to on many weekend mornings recently. Have any suggestions for good hiking nearby?

#68 - An American in Paris

Vicente Minnelli directs this 1951 musical classic, starring Gene Kelly as American expat painter Jerry Mulligan, who falls in love with young French ingenue Lise Bouvier (Leslie Caron). Nina Foch, Oscar Levant and a boatload of Gershwin tunes co-star.

We've been watching a lot of Gene Kelly lately. This isn't really surprising if you know Samantha at all, who more or less claims Kelly as her favorite classic movie star -- you know, from the era when movie stars were actually talented. This has been helped along by a Christmas gift from her brother Ben. But even if you're not a big Gene Kelly fan, this film is more than worth seeing.

First of all, let's get this out of the way: yes, there's a 17 minute ballet segment near the end that features no dialogue whatsoever. And yes, if you don't dig superb dancing, beautiful sets based on the works of prominent French painters and Gershwin music, you'll probably be bored. We thought we would be and we weren't. It's awesome.

The segment is emblematic of why this film is on the list. Gene Kelly's career with MGM was on the rise at a stratospheric pace, to peak with Singin' in the Rain the following year. Partially because of Kelly's influence, MGM was willing to take bigger chances on the size and scope of the movie musical, and this film is evidence that it was a good bet. The musical numbers, the sets, the large cast -- no expenses were spared. And it works. The film is a joy to watch -- a riot of color and energy.

The plot is forgettable, but you're not here for the plot -- you're here for everything else, and mostly that's Kelly. I know we're a bit biased, but I'm hard pressed to think of anyone in the current day and age that has the range of talent that he did. Between choreography, dancing, singing, acting, writing and directing, he was a showman to the hilt. Caron, trained as a dancer before making her film debut in the film, provides Kelly with a dancer partner more than up to the task. The Gershwin soundtrack is also worth the price of admission, and indeed ties the film together thematically better than the plot does structurally.

If you're going to watch one Gene Kelly film... well, watch Singin' in the Rain. But if you're going to watch two, watch this one as well.

(See this post if you're confused why I'm reviewing movies.)

About August 2009

This page contains all entries posted to This Side of Lost in August 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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