Gunnar Engblom is a Swedish birder who lives in Peru since 1998, where he operates birdwatching and nature tours for Kolibri Expeditions. He is popular guide both for hard core birding groups, as well as for groups who combine nature and culture. He is also a dedicated 3:14 marathon runner, right now training for Boston Marathon.. Gunnar has a past as singer-songwriter in a anarko/rock/punk project called Guran Guran. His recent songs "BirdParty" and "My baby just started birding" has given him 2 minutes of fame...and least in Birding circles.
Connect with Gunnar on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
It wasn’t my best race. It was hot and humid in the end. And I am far from well trained. I shall have to far faster than this in 12 weeks. Having said that, I still won the age group and placed 23rd of all men. Not bad for an old man. I am happy.
The race started out well. I held a pace of just around 4:10-4:15 min/km for 6 kms (4:02, 4:09, 4:09, 4:16, 4:14, 4:09). Then the uphill started for 2km (4:36, 4:34). The last kilometer was somewhat uphill to start with and finished with a 500m downhill where I went fast getting the split down to 4:20. The Garmin reads 140m above 10k, so the last bit downhill to the finish I pressed it at 3:50 pace.
I had a quite high HR throughout at 168 bpm on average, and 173 on the last km. Pressing it to the finish the HR went up to 175. I often get convulsions at the finish of the race went going up a gear, and this happened also this time. Crossing the finish line, I throw up. All my morning coffee and last night’s salad came up. Interesting that it was not better digested. Something to think of for future races. It was not a pretty sight, me puking this black gue. People came up to me as I was bent over asking if I was OK, as it looked like I had puked up my intestines. “No worries. Just a bit exhausted!”, I answered.
From the photo above, I can see that I need to work on my form. I have a hunched style. I think it has to do with rather week core and tight hips. Strength and flexibility exercise is what I shall do.
This week I ran about 45k in total, which is not a whole lot. I had a decent 4x1200m interval with 400m easy jog in between on Thursday. I had aimed for 3:45 min/km but I am not quite there yet.
4:44 pace 3.57 min/km
4:46 pace 3.59 min/km
4:57 pace 4.07 min/km
4:52 pace 4.03 min/km
Monday, Oct 30, 2017 thru Sunday, Nov 05, 2017
My running has not been great lately. I had a poor cycle before Chicago Marathon.
A month prior to the marathon I ran Stockholm half marathon on a hilly course in 1:37 and Chicago full marathon was in 3h39 minutes. My legs and my pace for a 3:15 finish collapsed pretty much at km 26.2. They had not understood that it was 26.2 miles I was supposed to run. I put on my headphones and with some of my own Guran Guran music and a selection of songs by David Bowie, Clash, Iggy Pop, Molotov and Cake (Going the Distance) I kept moving my legs in a slow run without stopping until the finish. Prior to the marathon I had not done a single long run of close to 30K since May – and that was the disastrous 4:23:24 Lima Marathon.
Having said that, there are a few take aways. My Marathon in Chicago was 44 minutes faster than in May. My 5K, 10K and Half Marathon times for all these races have been:
Lima May 21: — (5K) 46:43 (10K) 1:42:24 (HM) Stockholm Sep 9: 21:05 (5K) 44:31 (10K) 1:37:00 (HM) Chicago Oct 8: 23:10 (5K) 45:39 (10K) 1:36:51 (HM)
This means I was running a sub 3h Marathon pace for 5k during Stockholm half marathon (and actually maintained this until km 8), and ran my fastest half marathon in Chicago beating my Stockholm time with 9 seconds maintaining a 3:15 marathon pace. So I have been improving somewhat. I am a long way from my dream of running a sub 3h marathon though. I am 57 now, and I can’t withstand too much high intensity training and at the same time adding to milage. I have come to the conclusion that milage alone will not take me there. I need more speed!
During the past weeks training I started following Hanson’s advance marathon plan which focuses a lot on quality and less on extreme long runs. On Tuesdays one does speed sessions and on Thursdays one does marathon pace runs. Last week I realized that I could not keep up the marathon pace run at 4:15 min/km (6:50 min/mile) because my legs were too exhausted from the Tuesday speed session. I need to adapt the program for my means.
This is what I shall do in short:
Keep the Tuesday speed session according to Hanson.
Do a HIIT session on Thursdays. 5 to10x30 seconds with 2 min easy jog in between.
Do Marathon Pace within the long runs every other Saturday.
Every other Saturday do 10 x 10-20 seconds hills. HIIT.
Keep on doing a daily Seven (7 minute HIIT workout) for strength.
Do running form drills and minimalist transition exercises from Runners Connect’s Improve Running Form 6 week course.
All this should probably lead to more strength, better form and faster pace.The HIIT sessions helped me a lot to run the 3:04 in North Carolina in October last year, so I think this will be crucial to getting me closer to my goal. But I also need to get endurance, so I shall plan for 3x32k long runs in the remaining 12 weeks to Miami Marathon on Jan 28, but I won’t sweat it to run a lot miles apart from this. I am doing a lot of my daily work on the computer as I walk on a treadmill, and this shall give some general fitness too with very low impact.
Leading up to this race there are very few tune-up races I can fit in. Tomorrow, I have a 10K race for which I merely hope I can hold the sub 3H marathon pace of 4:15 min/km and an end time of below 42:30. Anything better than this is an improvement.
In a month there is another 10K race in Lima with a week of traveling to South Korea and the Asian Bird Fair in between. Hopefully, this 10K will keep me motivated to get my runs and strength training done even when traveling.
I shall post some progress here, and also give tips on training and nutrition along the way. Looking forward to your comments.
Today is Wednesday, and the third day of 42 days before Lima Marathon, and my second key workout. HIIT. Fast hill repeats bring a lot of bang for the buck. It is in many ways a shorter version of the fast all out intervals of 30 seconds each I did on Monday, but the since it is uphill you cannot go as fast and this is good because it decreases the risk of injuries. So you gain speed without actually running that fast. Secondly you build strength and get a better kick. That is you have to move up lifting your knees, forward leaning, and put force into the ground and for this you need strong muscles. They will gain strength for each workout – believe me. The effect is fast. In a month or so you will already see results.
Added strength also helps become more resilient. You legs and tendons learn to deal with impact and the natural shock absorber in your legs will become stronger.
You also gain form, as you learn to focus on keeping head up, forward lean, synchronized arm movement and you have to run on your toes.
When I first did this workout some years ago it was even shorter intervals than today. Only 8 seconds. I had had a short break because of some smaller injury and my online coach told me that these hill repeats was a good way to gain speed without actually running very fast I remember I was thinking. Eight seconds? That surely must be too little running for a marathon.
But much to my surprise I really enjoyed the workout. It feels great to give all you got once in a while and if one can do so without getting injured so much better. Last year I started hill repeats with 10 seconds and by the end I was doing 30s intervals. Therefor it felt quite OK to do 10 hill sprint intervals of 10 seconds each today.
I am fortunate to have a great hill only 3k away from my house. The 3km to get there serves as warmup and warm down. This is access road to Circuito de Playa that runs along the beach and takes you towards El Callao and the airport. The ramp is called Bajada Armendariz. From top to bottom it is almost exactly 1 km.
I realized as I started to run what was supposed to be the warmup, that my quads were still quite tight. Also my left Achilles tendon was a bit sore.
Darn! I broke a rule, that I made last year, to always begin the workouts with a stretching routine which is quite different to the routines that you see most recreational runners do. I don’t stretch by standing leaned to the wall to stretch the calfs. Stretching the muscles to extreme, before running is not good, when you want them to explode. Also, cold muscles stretching this way can get you injured. It is better do foam rolling and a dynamic warm-up exercise such a lunges, leg swings and heel drops. These also include short stretches but are within the natural movements when running so they are a very natural type of stretching that also warms you up. Those have been in my arsenal of pre-run warm-up last year and also before races.
I particularly like the lunge-matrix. It is incredible how it stretches, thighs, quads, calfs, abductors, calfs and achilles tendon. If I have felt kinks prior to the run, these simple exercise opens up and get immediate relief.
The other thing that I really need to do prior to the workouts if I am to continue to run with minimalist shoes is to do heel drops.
Although this exercise is recommended for healing Achilles tendonitis it is also a great exercise for prevention. Apart doing them with a straight leg as here it also a good to do a set with the bent knee as this also stretched the Good for Achilles tendon and the calves. Check this example.
So after 1.8 km in to the warm up I thought I’d better stop. The left Achilles tendon did not feel right. So I did the lunge matrix and 15 reps of both types of heel drops on both legs. It immediately felt better and I could follow through to the workout without problems.
I did 10x15s repeats and about one minute between of easy jog between.
Overall the workout went very well.
Tuesday April 11 was a rest day. I did not do any running what so ever. My muscles a bit sore. I did some foam rolling. It is important that I am diligent with this as it will help the muscles to get ready for a workout faster. So what about stretching. In general I don’t do stretching much at the las couple of years. Foam rolling gives much better results with less risk of injury. Here is a good article that is explaining why foam rolling is good.
Don’t know how to use the foam roller. Here is a good simple, no BS, video series from Runner’s World.
So did I rest? Completely rest? Nope. Here is the thing. It is a good thing to have a more active recovery. Active recovery is foam rolling as above, it can be swimming or bicycling. It should not fatigue you though.
I moved my work station to the treadmill. I did two sessions of walking of total of 11km over 3 hours, while working on my laptop. Far better than sitting down. In any case it is important that when you sit or stand not to do it for too long. Walking also helps mitochondrial development as well as burning fat and calories. Note the book stack. I need those to get my laptop at the right hight.
Finally, I did another set of Seven. Feeling a bit sore from two sets yesterday, especially in the scar area of my inguinal hernia surgery. Strangely enough, it seems that pushups are the exercise that effects that area most. I will design a less intense Seven program to do when I feel need for more rest. But, I don’t want to lose my streak in the app.
I am sure you recognize this. There is not enough time to do everything we want to do. And often what comes last is the important things to our health, well-being and personal development. There are too many emails to answer, too many newspapers to read, too many FB updates to do, too many blogs to write, too many birds to see, and then one has to work too to get some cash-flow on top of everything.
I am a bit contradictory. In some ways I am probably the least organized person you know. Everything around me is all over. I don’t worry too much about order and clutter around me. If it is not in the way, it is not in the way. Yet, I am quite determined when I decide to do something. This is such thing. I am determined to run a great marathon with only 6 weeks to go.
My training has suffered lately, because all those other things have been a priority. Prior to yesterday I did not run for a week. Still, I am in decent shape with 27km logged on the Saturday just before this hiatus. But on the other hand, I am nowhere near the shape I was in on Oct 29 when I set a master PR at Peak to Creek Marathon in North Carolina. 3:04:11! My second best time ever. And that was after a similar situation like now. I hacked my training the last 7.5 weeks and made my own schedule concentrating on key workouts and a more holistic approach to training. It did not only involve the running, but also what I did the rest of the day. Since that worked better than I could have imagined I am to experiment these coming 6 weeks how to best build speed, strength and endurance. On the other hand, I have done much less running the last couple of months. I also have had to Inguinal Hernia surgeries which kept me off running for practically two months.
The traditional way to do marathon training is to run. Run A LOT!. The more you run, the more mitochondria the body produces and you become a more effective runner.
Thus marathon training traditionally is about collecting easy miles (or kms if you have ten toes and ten fingers and use the metric system), interspersed with some more intense training at marathon pace or faster. And it is true. I made tremendous progress timewise when I started running more. I managed to qualify to Boston Marathon in 2014 with 3:24 in Lima Marathon and ran 3:14 in New York that same year. The build-up adding kilometers in slow. One can not add too much at once, and you are bound to break at some point if you’re not being very smart about training and know how to build-up slowly. The risk is that you are not giving the body enough time to recover. And that the intense sessions do not build but rather breakdown your body. It is VERY TRICKY to balance and your head will often tell your body to do sessions to keep up with a set schedule even if the best thing to do would be to take a rest day. Athletes are very hard-headed.
But there is another way. Running less! With only 6 weeks to go it would be impossible to get my weekly mileage to 120-150k per week like before. So instead I am looking at quality sessions, running less. I have learnt a great deal about High Intensity Intervall Training (HIIT) – a cardiovascular exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods from Ben Greenfield’s Beyond Training (US Amazon) (UK Amazon). The benefits are many. It gives the same cardiovascular benefits as running long distances but in significantly less time invested. It also increases VO2 max faster than traditional marathon training would do.
Greenfield’s book has a number of other hacks too on nutrition, rest, sleep, etc and is highly recommended.
HIIT is de facto the same idea as the idea behind the faster workouts in regular training schedules. However, they are often faster and shorter. As such very taxing to the body, so it virtually becomes very difficult to do both these sessions and a lot of additional running.
The only way to go to increase my fitness with the short time that is left is to run less, run smarter, looking at improving form, eat better, sleep better, meditate, and just become a bit smarter about training. I shall keep a daily log and update you on my hacks, whether it is training, nutrition or anything else.
Hope you want to follow my ride? Goals?
Primary goal. Below 3:24 which is my course PR set in 2014 which had me qualify for Boston that year.
Secondary goal. Below 3:04 which is my best as master set last year at the age of 56.
Übermenschen goal. Below 3h. Did 3:00:34 in 1982 at age 21.
Leave a comment below what you think is possible?
Schedule of 6 weeks before the Marathon.
I have made a schedule in my calendar. I want to become faster. I am also keen to include a time trial on the English mile this year to see how close I can get to my mediocre 5:20 on the mile when I did a High School Year in the US and started running 40 years ago this year. I have no plans to break it during this cycle though. Perhaps after the Marathon. We’ll see. But in any case this shall build speed.
I plan only two long runs before the marathon on May 21. Long runs does deplete you, and therefor I feel they are not necessary to do every week. I have done two longer runs thus far in the month prior to starting these last 6 weeks of more motivated training. My schedule only involves three main sessions per week.
Week 1. 30s repeats, hills and 400m repeats
Week 2. 30s repeats, hills + downhill running and 1000m repeats
Week 3. 30s repeats, hills + downhill running and Long Run of 30K interspersed with some marathon pace
Week 4. 30s repeats, hills + downhill running and English Mile time travel
Week 5. two sessions of 30s repeats and Marathon Pace intervals on Saturdat
Week 6. tapering with Lima Marathon on Sunday.
The last two weeks I am guding a French birdwatching group in Northern Peru, so I will have to try to fit in the running here, and learn some more French. (I’ll probably do a post on hacking language learning as well).
Luckily the runs are time efficient so I don’t think there will be a problem.
Day 1. HIIT 5x30s with 2.5 min slow jog.
So Monday April 10, was my first day. 6 weeks to go. I did the same workout I did 6 weeks before the NC Marathon last year. Previously in the morning I did 3.4 km with a stroller to the market back and forth for shopping at very slow pace. I always do my errands running.
In the evening I did the HIIIT session. I warmed up for a bout a kilometer and then did 5 times 30 seconds of very fast bursts. The speed of those intervals according to iSmoothRun were between 2:57 min/km to 3:07 min/km but of course only between 150-160 meters. It is mind-blowing that the best marathoners hold this pace for 42km.
In fact in the upcoming Sub 2h attempt the average pace will be 2:50 min/km or 4:34 min/mile!!!
I recommend iSmoothRun for being a great very accurate GPS running app for iPhone (also Android). You can also export to Strava and Runkeeper as do, and this way be part of several other running communities. Other running apps also connect withiSmoothRun.
I also did two sessions of Seven before the run. Seven is also HIIT training but strength training and Cardio combined. One session takes only seven minutes. I know I need to do more strength training, but it is often hard to get motivated. Seven is a good app that reminds you. The workout is also a HIIT. It is very intense and burns hoards of calories.
It is a perfect companion when on trips if one needs to keep in shape, but have very little time. You can easily do a session in your hotel room.
In 2012, I went to the Biggest Week of American Birding in Ohio and I had just finished the lyrics for an English translation of my song Meståg from 1989. I sang it at the “meet and greet” get-together and as it resulted in a few laughs, I stupidly announced my intention of making a recording of the same song. In 2013, I returned to the Biggest Week, now with an additional birding related song about a certain binocular brand to the tune of “Tequila”. Again, I announced that I intended to record it. Here is the 2013 version of Birdparty with me alone with the guitar.
I have a tendency to make big announcements and then procrastinate, so it would take agony and guilt for 3 years, before I finally did something about it. I can now proudly announce that we are recording Birdparty at this moment. In fact, we are working with three different versions of the song – and we can’t decide which one should be the final version.
Maybe you can help us choose? Which version do you like the most?
The original – Meståg 1989.
The Swedish original version of the song Meståg was recorded in 1989 on a self-financed single and mainly sold to Swedish birding friends. The song is blues-rock with rhythm harmonica and harmonica solo fill-ins. The title Meståg refers to the feeding flocks in the winter of various species of Parus known as mes in Swedish. A flock of tits moving through can also be seen as a train (tåg). Hence the word meståg in Swedish. There is also an ironic twist to the word, as mes also means “nerd” in Swedish. The character person of the song is Lasse (Lars), as it seems as if every birder in Sweden is called Lars. You can only guess my middle name is! Lasse, became Johnny in English, as I can’t count with how many Johns and Jons I know who are birders or ornithologists.
You can hear the original below. We were quite pleased with the result, and particularly I like the interwoven bird dawn chorus into the beginning and the end of the song.
Meståg. Guran Guran. 1989
Fast forward 27 years. It is a fantastic feeling to be recording again and lots of fun. My original idea was to just record the exact music like the 1989 version and put English lyrics on top. Had I had the original tapes with the separated tracks from the 16 track studio we used, this would have been very easy. Unfortunately, (or luckily depending on how you want to value new creativity added to the mix), I could not afford to buy the multi-track tape back then, as high fidelity tapes with 16 tracks separation were not inexpensive.
Gunnar Elvin, the other G of Guran Guran, had to recreate from scratch this time. I also had an idea that the song could perhaps gain air and dynamics if done in a more Rockabilly style, than the blues rock of the original. So in the end Gunnar Elvin has put together 3 different versions to choose from.
Before I present the three versions a few words about the aim and goals of what the end product should deliver. The lyrics of the song are funny. Some of the rhymes are rather unexpected and become punchlines to the anecdotes of the verses. Therefor, the vocals need air not to disappear behind a rock n roll carpet. Dictation and flow are important to get the lyrics across.
Secondly, basic Rock n Roll and Blues Rock harmonies are extremely commonplace and often without originality when played nowadays. Listeners will react that such music is somewhat stale and predictable if it not delivered in a new and inspired way. The nuances are in the arrangement, the space/air of the production, the delivery of the vocals and the originality of the solos which have to stand out. That is our main challenge!
Finally, these three versions are not final. Disturbing guitar solos when the song is delivered will be toned down or eliminated. New tracks will be made with guitar, harmonica, real drums, background vocals and probably also new lead vocals as well here and there for better delivery and timing of the lyrics. And we shall add a birding dawn chorus again.
To make your pick, pick the version you feel is most unusual or special. Which feels least ordinary? In which version do the lyrics protrude most and have the best punch-line effect?
The versions presented here are pre-productions by Gunnar Elvin on which I have put song. Gunnar is currently improving the mix, so I think some of the tracks below will be replaced the coming days. You will be able to re-vote again if this is the case. The versions are 1. Rockabilly, 2. Blues Rock and 3. Dirty Rock (you can probably hear that Rockabilly is the last version recorded, since the song is a bit more nuanced here).
Listen, and cast your vote below.
1. Birdparty – Rockabilly mix. Guran Guran. 2016
2. Birdparty – blues rock with funky guitar. Guran Guran. 2016
3, Birdparty – dirty rock Guran Guran. 2016
Thanks for voting. Please, subscribe to this blog for updates about BirdParty and Guran Guran.
Birdparty and Meståg YouTube Videos.
Once the final BirdParty version is set, it is quite clear we are going to need to make a video. The song may reach some birders, but to truly become viral a video will be necessary. Since the video is telling a story we would need a lot of footage. So here is the challenge. Video-film any scenes in the lyrics, send your video snippets via email or wetransfer.com to firstname.lastname@example.org and we shall put it together as a video. You may film to either the Swedish version Meståg (if you understand Swedish) or the English version. Anyone contributing will get an mp3 of either Meståg or Birdparty – and those who get their contributions into the final video will also get a HD video of the end result of either song. Stills may work for some parts as well.
So film your feeders, your birding excursions, do some crazy birding. We are in particular need of the winter scenes, so you best hurry up before the winter is over.
Now you have a good reason to twitch Ivory Gull in Svalbard, if you had no good reason before this. But perhaps you are one of the lucky ones to have old footage? Send it all to us!
My former band is getting re-united partly because of the recordings of Birdparty, but also partly because I am going to Sweden in August-September in connection with the British Birdfair. So I have been digging into old demo-recordings we did between 1986-1991 and found altogether 18 songs, which will be released digitally on-line as an album – “Guran Guran Greatest sHits” on April 18 and on a CD in August.
In Sweden we shall be recording additional songs (there are over 20 songs that I performed regularly that never got recorded). and also make a small tour in Sweden.
While in Europe I am also scheduling a few birdtalks at the BirdFair, Falsterbo Bird Show, Norwich and Stockholm. It is possible there will be some combo with music as well.
Alas, I will miss the Birding Expo in Ohio in September as it collides with the tour in Sweden, but I am strongly considering going to the Biggest Week 1st week of May.
Wherever, let’s have a BirdParty! And if you join on a Kolibri Expeditions birding trip, I promise a private concert (if you like!)
I am celebrating 25 years in Peru this year. I am sharing some stories on the Kolibri Expeditions Birding blog, but since this story has nothing to do with birds, it seems better to share this here.
If you think Lima is chaotic now, it is nothing compared to the early 90s. In 1990 there were hardly any modern cars. The public transport was often extremely cramped VW mini-buses, big american cars fitting two passengers in the front (apart from the driver) and four in the back serving as line taxis between the city center and Miraflores, and small VW Beetle Taxis where the front passenger seat was taken out and only serving one – max two passengers. But when Fujimori became president imports of used cars became much more frequent with less strict import rules. People could not afford to buy new cars, and the cars rolling the streets in Lima were very old. Little by little the Lima car park got more modern. Traffic was still chaotic, and more chaotic for every day. A lot of people were jobless and became taxi-drivers by driving their own cars. In the street corner anyone could by a TAXI sticker and put it on the windscreen of their car and Voila!… Another taxi was born. No one asked for taxi permits. Not surprisingly, it was very difficult to calculate how long a taxi ride would take to, for instance, the airport.
In 1993 I found myself in central Lima very late for my international flight. I would most certainly miss my plane. Two taxis were parked on the street. A newer import and an old VW beetle with only one front seat. Which one would you take if you wanted to get to the airport reliably and fast?
Surprise! The correct answer is the old VW.
“Get me to the airport as fast as possible!”, I instructed the driver.
Man, that was some ride. This guy took the Beetle between the lanes creating his own lane, he’d race through a corner gas-station to make a right turn and even went up on the sidewalk to navigate through the crammed traffic, always with a hand firmly on the horn alerting people to get out of his way. And even though I was somewhat scared, I was also fascinated. This guy was a genius the way he navigated Lima traffic. He had developed crazy driving to perfection. He was an artist! He wasn’t prudent, but he was a genius – and he got me to my flight in time.
Traffic in Lima is less dramatic today, but still wild compared to Stockholm. People do not drive on the sidewalks any more, but they do cut through gas-stations and if they are to turn right and there is no gas station then they make sure they are in the left lane, so they can cut in front of the minibuses that often clog the right lane, before the traffic light becomes red again. A simple rule to stick by in Lima traffic is to leave way for vehicles that are bigger and older than yours.
I will tell more stories on the Kolibri Expeditions blog. You will also find the birding program with the 10% discount for the remainder of 2015. Join a trip with me to hear more stories.
Photos: Taxis by Tinao Bao on Flickr and Yellow Beetle Taxi by Jaques Splinto on Fotki.
Lima is the only city I could live in Peru. Why? Because I love the cinema from all over the world. And Lima as the only city in Peru, which very often gives opportunities to see some very good cinema that does not come from Hollywood. Many embassies make showcase of cinema produced in their countries and right now there is a French movie festival sponsored by the French Embassy at PUCP Cine in San Isidro. This comes handy, as I have just finished part 3 of the amazing Pimsleur French course, which I listen to while I run. I get some practice in listening to spoken French by devouring French films for a couple of days.
Sadly, my wife and I were only able to attend to three films at the film festival, all which were VERY GOOD and highly recommended. A fourth film we saw on DVD.
How to see the films?
These films may not be easy to get hold of though. Watch out for the next French Movie Festivals near you and surely some of these will show. Most of them are NOT available on Netflix or Amazon Prime (UK Amazon Prime) right now, but they may be in a near future. If you find them there, go for it. If you are not a member yet, you get a 30 day Free Trial membership on either.
Netflix does not carry any of these titles in Peru, but this is possibly different in North America and Europe. The selection of French films on Netflix in Peru is less than a dozen.
Amazon Prime has one of them for streaming at a modest fee. If you are a regular shopper on Amazon you also enjoy the free two-day delivery if you sign up with Amazon Prime. I signed up for Prime just for the fast delivery so it could coincide with my visit in the US recently, but alas there is little use for Amazon Prime here in Peru. None of the free movies are available outside the US with my account. Grrrr!
Below follows a short synopsis of each film we attended, one film that we saw on DVD and finally three films that I am looking out for and hopefully will be able to get on DVD or streaming.
Aya from Yopocity – Aya de Yopougon.
My wife made the arrangements. I had no idea what we were going to see, so I was pleasantly surprised of being dropped into a cartoon placed on Ivory Coast in the 70s. Even if the cartoon was crude it gave a lot of flavor and touch of Africa. The African music accompanying the film was lively and reminiscent of Caribbean music. A funny touch was that the characters in the cartoon were watching television commercials showing real life humans.
The movie is based on the series of 6 comic album published between 2005 and 2010. They have all been translated into English. The series is one of the few works of African fiction in graphic novel form that has gained exposure globally.
Ok, the story is a bit lame, and quite stereotyped. But we have to remember that this is the 70s. I am sure Ivory Coast is different today. The film portrays a very macho society where there are not a whole lot of options for young girls like Aya and and her friends Adjoua y Bintou. Aya wants to study, while the other girls just like to party and fish for a well off, rich boyfriend and husband to be.
There are some in depth reviews on IMDB. In spite of the “mucho macho”, when you think of it not so remote from how Peru was not too long ago, we liked the film very much.
Serial (Bad) Weddings (2014) “Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu?”
This film, which was opening of the festival, was extremely entertaining. A full house attended our screening in the middle of the week.
A conservative French Catholic couple Claude and Marie have 4 daughters, of which 3 are married to a Jew, a Muslim and a Chinese respectively. At first there is a lot of friction between the parents in-law and the spouses of the daughters. And there is also friction between the men themselves. Eventually they all become very good friends.
The fourth daughter is still unmarried and Claude and Marie hope she will marry a catholic, so the wedding will be in a church. But they are in for a surprise, in spite that the groom to be is catholic. The boyfriend is African from Ivory coast, and they just got engaged.
The story plays on racism, intolerance and the comic situations that arises. So while the film is a comedy, it is also one that shows that prejudice is more widespread than people realize.
We loved this film. Possibly our favorite among the ones I recount for here. It is a good chance this film hits the main cinemas. Here are some reviews on IMDB.
The third film we enjoyed at the film-festival was Tavernier’s comedy staged at the time before the invasion of Irak. A young talented man gets a contracted by the French Foreign Minister as speech-writer. The Foreign Minister seems to be on speed and could quite obviously be diagnosed ADD.
The description of the plot on IMDB does a good job.
Alexandre Taillard de Vorms is tall and impressive, a man with style, attractive to women. He also happens to be the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the land of enlightenment: France. With his silver mane and tanned, athletic body, he stalks the world stage, from the floor of the United Nations in New York to the powder keg of Oubanga. There, he calls on the powerful and invokes the mighty to bring peace, to calm the trigger-happy, and to cement his aura of Nobel Peace Prize winner-in-waiting.
Alexandre Taillard de Vorms is a force to be reckoned with, waging his own war backed up by the holy trinity of diplomatic concepts: legitimacy, lucidity and efficacy. He takes on American neo-cons, corrupt Russians and money-grabbing Chinese. Perhaps the world doesn’t deserve France’s magnanimousness, but his art would be wasted if just restricted to home turf.
Enter the young Arthur Vlaminck, graduate of the elite National School of Administration, who is hired as head of “language” at the foreign ministry. In other words, he is to write the minister’s speeches. But he also has to learn to deal with the sensibilities of the boss and his entourage, and find his way between the private secretary and the special advisers who stalk the corridors of the Quai d’Orsay – the ministry’s home – where stress, ambition and dirty dealing are the daily currency. But just as he thinks he can influence the fate of the world, everything seems threatened by the inertia of the technocrats.
But the trailer works even better. This is a funny movie, high speed and a bit surreal, sometimes even a bit Kafkaesque, but young Arthur eventually comes to the grips how things work and produces the perfect speech for his minister. The French Minister is available with Amazon Prime. In the UK only as dvd. But there is a full copy on YouTube in French.
La Familie Bélier
We got a DVD of a new French film, and being in the French movie mood, we watched it the other day. It is a lovely film about a deaf family, with only one hearing member – the daughter – who discovers she has the voice for singing.
In my point of view, even if it does not portray deafness perfectly, it still makes people more aware of the existence of the deaf community. Anything that can build bridges and attempts to do so is worthwhile. Like the comedy about racism above or films about homo-sexuality, like the one about Guillaume below, these films open people’s hearts and mind to multitude and diversity.
Other films at the festival we wanted to see, but missed.
There were many good films we did not get to see. Hopefully, they will be available sometime for streaming. Since these all are quite new and have had good success internationally, they may be coming to your theaters. Watch out for them.
Me, Myself and Mum / Les Garçons et Guillaume, à table !
French autobiographical coming of age comedy film written, directed by and starring Guillaume Gallienne. Based on his stage show of the same name, it follows Guillaume as a boy as he develops his own identity and his relationship with his mother. More on Wikipedia.
On My Way – Elle s’en va
Catherine Deneuve in a road movie. I would love to see this one.
Bettie (Deneuve) loves a married businessman who always told her he would divorce his wife in order to marry her. He indeed files for a divorce, but Bettie discovers that it is actually because he is also having another affair with another much-younger woman. At about the same time, the bank threatens to close down her restaurant.
When she goes out to run some errands, she impulsively decides to leave her former life behind. She takes her car and just keeps on driving. She discovers other parts of France and makes new friends in the process.
Oscar nominated film about the Jihadist occupation of Tibuktu in Mali. The trailer looks beautiful and is very inviting. There is an interesting article in the New York Times about the film.
Not far from the ancient Malian city of Timbuktu, proud cattle herder Kidane lives peacefully in the dunes with his wife Satima, his daughter Toya, and Issan, their twelve-year-old shepherd. In town, the people suffer, powerless, from the regime of terror imposed by the Jihadists determined to control their faith. Music, laughter, cigarettes, even soccer have been banned. The women have become shadows but resist with dignity. Every day, the new improvised courts issue tragic and absurd sentences. Kidane and his family are being spared the chaos that prevails in Timbuktu. But their destiny changes abruptly.
Have you seen any of these films? What did you think? Which was your latest French film?
I had never thought I would have a page called GunnarEngblom.com, and less that I would the be the first one to acquire that domain. After all, and this may be surprising to the people who knows me, I am not the only Gunnar Engblom in the world. Did you ever do a search on your own name on Facebook or LinkedIn? How many hits do you get?
I get four additional Gunnar Engbloms on LinkedIn and three of them live in Stockholm. Good thing I got out, because otherwise Stockholm would have been a very confusing place for me. I am the only Gunnar Engblom in Lima. And I am the only me.
Am I really that narcissistic? Why am I doing a blog about me, when I run so many other blogs and social sites? All other blogs I am doing are really not about myself and my thoughts, but more how I can provide something useful or entertaining for others. Such post are mostly altruistic, but I admit they are also part of greater marketing plan for my company Kolibri Expeditions which sells birdwatching tours in Peru and elsewhere in South America.
Give Love – Receive Love = Social Media Mantra
Social Media marketing is not about selling but about sharing and providing value to others. That is what I try to do. Incoming marketing has to do with making people love the things you share and the value you provide. Incoming marketing is about making people love you for this . And you won’t get love unless you give love. It is a quite easy life lesson really. As old as the bible. Very occasionally, there may be a sales pitch thrown in. After all, a birding trip to South America is also something that can be useful and valuable to someone interested in birds. A good general mix is 90% providing value, 10% promo.
I have considered personal blogs quite lame. You know, the type of diary blog that gets 0 comments, and basically only relates the boring everyday stuff the blogger has lived every day. These are the blogs that are really not directed to the public, but could be extremely useful for the person writing them. A bit like therapy, I guess. This may be my chance of therapy and this could make you very bored. Maybe I am doing it just for myself to let ideas flow. Maybe, I could care less if anyone actually reads this. Or maybe I want you to love me. Maybe I am a narcissist after all. Let’s say for now, that GunnarEngblom.com could be anything I want it to be. And I am all ears if you want to help me shape this new blog. All I know is that it does not have to be about birds, and it does not have to be about running, but surely these topics will be touched every so often.
Aspiration should not humble inspiration.
On the other hand, for some time I have had an idea to start a blog, where I share ideas how to live a richer life, how to create a business, how to get in better shape, how to live to at least 80, in my case another 25 years to see my daughters have kids and all that. Now that could be a useful blog for others, I think. And even if a lot of such blogs already exist, some of my Facebook friends and birding clients may be interested in my experience. Since it is totally irrelevant, I could hardly put this content on my Kolibri Expeditions blog,BirdingBlogs.com, Birding 101, RunningLima.com or GuranGuran.com.
But what am I going to call the new blog? I could not decide if I should use my own name, you know like SethGodin.com or ChrisBrogan.com and make my name into a brand. GunnarEngblom.com was available. Quite a narcisistic thought to be in the same league as Seth and Chris! Aspiration should NOT humble inspiration.
Or should I think of SEO and use something descriptive instead. Something catchy that people can remember? Something with LifeHacks? No, Lifehacks are more simple tricks to make life easier. It needed to be something that included life changing strategies that should be implemented right now. After some searching and playing around with available words I found that BetterMeNow.com was available.
GunnarEngblom.com or BetterMeNow.com? Which should I choose? You can probably guess? I chose both.
Two new blogs
So I bought the domains at GoDaddy.com. And bought a modern theme with Responsive Web Design called Marketer’s Delight from the webdesign and web-developer wonderkid Alex Mangini of KolaKube for the blog which will work on any device, have default perfect font, and is adjustable to changes I may want to apply. Now I am stuck with two new blogs. The other one BetterMeNow, will be about living a richer life and how to become better at being myself, make more money and, become healthier and with lots of useful tips for you. This one, GunnarEngblom.com will be an overall blog about ME!
Having said that it is about me and for me first of all, I still think friends and clients will enjoy and find useful some of the stuff I will write about here. There will be thoughts and ideas. I will also talk about books and films I see. Sometimes I will be opinionated about conservation, racism, intolerance, politics etc. And I also will post links to my other blogposts and projects.
I hope friends, family, fans (of my music) and clients (from my birding trips) will follow me. Easiest done with an email subscription. If I get to carried away with talking about myself, give me a kick in the face, next time you see me. I probably deserve it.
Links mentioned in this blogpost:
I think it is a good idea to alway repeat the links mentioned in a blogpost again at the end of the post for clarity.
Kolibri Expeditions blog this has long been my main blog. I recently updated the layout to fit better with our main page. My old blog with a lot of posts can be found here.
BirdingBlogs.com. Multi-author blog somewhat stagnant today, but still get good traffic. Anyone interested to become a regular contributor let me know.
Birding 101. A multiauthor blog how to start birding in the digitial age. I started this blog passionately a few years ago, but lost a bit of steam as I was not getting the traction I had hoped for and some contribibutors who were supposed to submit never did. Anyway, the idea is a good one, and it is a blog that will be revived. Be certain!
RunningLima.com. My running blog. Right now only one post ” 10 secrets how to qualify to Boston Marathon”, but more will come. It is likley, I will do most my writing here in Spanish. Afterall, are here not enough runningblogs in English as there are?
GuranGuran.com. My anarko-punkrock music project from the 80s-mid90s. OK the blog has not really taken off yet, but you can find some of my music on Facebook.