Charming ‘City of Ember’ finds wonder and terror in a crumbling underground city

December 10, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 9, 2017

City of Ember is a charming 2008 movie set in a crumbling postapocalyptic community.

The eponymous settlement was built underground centuries before the central action in order to shield its inhabitants from an unspecified disaster, presumably nuclear in nature. The city’s infrastructure, particularly its power generator, is on the verge of failure, but most of Ember’s residents are too complacent to recognize it.

One of the few exceptions is young Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway, an Englishman who’s worked in British TV and recently appeared in the miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes). The brilliant, determined teenager realizes that the city’s blackouts are growing in both frequency and length. His conviction that something must be done to save the community strengthens when he becomes an apprentice in the patchwork pipeworks and learns just how little comprehension engineers have of the complex systems they’re charged with maintaining.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 9-4 Stanford

December 6, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 6, 2017

I had a good time watching the Pac-12 football championship game. I just wish the outcome had been different…

• The Bad 

Stanford’s strongest defensive group is probably its secondary. Going into last week’s game, the Cardinal ranked fifth in the league in passing defense, allowing 220 yards per game and 15 touchdown receptions. As noted last week, Stanford has intercepted 16 passes, which ranked 10th in the nation.

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Cardinal falls short, 31-28, in its rematch with USC in the conference championship game

December 5, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 5, 2017

A mistake-prone Cardinal lost 31-28 to USC in the Pac-12 football championship game Friday night.

The result gave the South Division its first league title in the seven years since the Pac-10 added Colorado and Utah. The Trojans, who finished the regular season 11-2, won their first conference crown since 2008; they will play Big 10 champion Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. Stanford, which fell to 3-1 in conference title bouts and 9-4 on the season, will face Texas Christian University in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

USC received the opening kickoff and reached the Stanford 43-yard line before a pair of incomplete Sam Darnold passes forced them to punt. The Cardinal, dressed in all-white uniforms with brand-new helmets featuring a chrome Stanford logo, gained five yards on a pair of Bryce Love runs and an incomplete K.J. Costello pass attempt before giving the ball back.

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Practicality, love and gloves: A few thoughts

November 30, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 30, 2017

I used to own a pair of hybrid glove-mittens. When I needed to keep my hands warm, I’d pull on the hybrids and make sure the mittens enveloped my fingers. When I needed to use my digits, I could pull the mitten-pocket away from my fingers and pin it on the back of my hand using Velcro patches. That left me sporting what were essentially fingerless gloves: except for the top inch or so of my eight fingers, my hands were completely covered. It was like having the best of both worlds!

These hybrids weren’t the most stylish item — then again, very very little of what I wear is — but they were incredibly practical. I wish I still had these hybrids, but alas, I lost track of them years ago.

One of the nicest gifts I ever got was given to me by Lady X when we were dating. She took a solo trip to Italy in the fall or winter. (I think this would have been towards the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011.) When she came back, she presented me with a pair of brown leather gloves. They fit quite comfortably and looked great. I was thrilled with them.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 9-3 Stanford

November 29, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 29, 2017

After Stanford was thoroughly routed in Seattle last fall, I took a meandering walk around the Durham Bulls baseball stadium. I covered more than two miles over the course of nearly 40 minutes. I was rather perturbed, and I needed to calm myself down.

After Stanford took down Notre Dame to close out the regular season with a resounding 38-20 victory, I rambled around a similar area, this time going nearly 2.6 miles in about 41 minutes.

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Fourth-quarter turnovers doom Irish in Stanford’s regular-season finale

November 28, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 28, 2017

Stanford scored three touchdowns in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to take control of a game against visiting Notre Dame on Saturday evening.

The Cardinal football team pounced on a pair of Fighting Irish turnovers to convert a 20-17 deficit at the start of the final period into a 38-20 lead with a little more than 10 minutes left in the contest. Stanford went on to win by that score.

The Irish opened scoring late in the first quarter on a short throw from quarterback Brandon Wimbush. His target was receiver Kevin Stepherson, who began the play in a cluster of three men split wide right of the formation. Stepherson worked his way inside on a shallow route, feinted a move to the outside that wrong-footed strong safety Justin Reid and inside linebacker Kevin Palma, and caught the pigskin around the 30-yard line as Reid dove in a futile attempt to knock the ball away. No other defender was remotely close, and Stepherson went the distance for an 83-yard touchdown without having to put the pedal to the metal.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 8-3 Stanford

November 24, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 24, 2017

For the third year running, I watched Big Game at a joint event held by area Stanford and Cal alumni groups. For the second straight year, the watch party was at a sports bar in (the same) recently developed commercial center in an area that some five to 10 years ago was probably forest and/or farmland.

During the event, I won a replica of the Golden Spike, which was used to complete the first transcontinental railroad in 1869.

• The Bad 

Tip of the Stanford ballcap to ace San Jose Mercury News sportswriter Jon Wilner for suggesting this item in a Wednesday post: Stanford has allowed opponents to rush for 1,889 yards in 11 games. That ranks sixth in the Pac-12 and 69th nationally out of 129 teams.

(Mind you, that number has come down slightly since Big Game, in which Cal ran for 155 yards.)

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Grinding to glory: A gritty Love and efficient Costello lead the Cardinal to a narrow Big Game victory

November 21, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 21, 2017

A valiant effort from an injured Bryce Love and an efficient performance by K.J. Costello led Stanford’s football team to a 17-14 victory over Cal in the 120th Big Game on Saturday evening. The win was the eighth straight for the Cardinal over its traditional archrival, the longest streak by either team since they first met on the gridiron in San Francisco back in the spring of 1892.

Stanford moved to 8-3 overall and 7-2 in the Pac-12, while the Golden Bears dropped to 5-6 and 2-6. But the game was a close thing, despite the disparities in the team’s records.

Both offenses were 6 of 12 on third down, and both generated 5.9 yards per offensive play. While the host squad outgained the Bears on the ground, 193 yards to 155, the dueling quarterbacks were nearly even: Cal’s Ross Bowers threw for 182 yards, while Costello topped him by three yards. (Incidentally, both players are sophomores, and both wear No. 3.)

The Cardinal took a 3-0 lead on Jet Toner’s 42-yard field goal on the first series of the game, which was enabled by a 33-yard throw from Costello to junior wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. The Bears answered with a 44-yarder by Matt Anderson on their first possession.

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Cheeps and Chirps: Special Boulder edition!

November 17, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 17, 2017

Forget about catching up on past tweets; instead, here’s a Twitter photo and video essay chronicling my recent visit to Boulder, Colo.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 7-3 Stanford

November 16, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 16, 2017

Being somewhat superstitious, and definitely a creature of habit, when Stanford hosted the Washington Huskies last Friday night, I went to watch the game at the same venue where I saw the Cardinal’s tenuous 15-14 road win over Oregon State in October. This is also the same place where I watched Stanford’s bruising 30-28 win at WSU in 2015 and the team’s amazing 26-20 home upset of second-ranked Oregon in 2013, so I guess it’s got a good pedigree.

• The Bad 

It really isn’t easy to find things to criticize in an upset of a top-10 team. But fine, since you asked…

As noted yesterday, after Washington narrowed the score to 30-22 late in the fourth quarter, the Cardinal had an opportunity to put the game away with just a field goal. Instead, the offense faltered following Bryce Love’s final rush of the game, which went for 35 yards and benefited from a 15-yard facemask penalty on the defense.

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