Located at an altitude of nearly 7,000 feet, Flagstaff, Arizona draws world-class athletes from around the world, who come here to train. The reason? Because there’s less oxygen up here, exercising is a lot harder. The athletes believe the high-altitude training gives them an edge in terms of speed, strength and endurance when they return to lower altitudes to compete — though the scientific evidence on the subject is mixed. Still, many endurance athletes believe in the magic powers of thin air, and so The Center for High Altitude Training at the University of Northern Arizona is an official training site for the U.S. Olympic Team.
As far as opening films to the Cannes Film Festival go, Chinese director Wong Kar Wai’s “My Blueberry Nights” was a risky business all round. Wong was directing in English for the first time, and set his story in the United States, unfamiliar territory. He also cast singer Norah Jones as the central character, an ambitious screen debut if ever I saw one. She took the plunge having seen only his acclaimed “In The Mood For Love”, and seems to have just about pulled it off. For the organisers, there was also the worry of getting the film to Cannes in time for the grand opening ceremony tonight. In 2004, Wong had them sweating in their tuxedos with “2046”, which he only just got to the Riviera resort in time. This time it was not much better. The director, wearing his trademark dark shades and close-cropped hair, told reporters he was in LA two days ago finishing the mix. Little wonder neither Jones nor co-star Jude Law have seen it yet. They get their first view at the opening tonight on a giant screen on which any flaws in their performances will be painfully exposed to a large, expectant and knowledgable audience. Rather them than me.
A trip down Route 66 provides travelers with a rose-colored view of the early automobile era, an age that also consisted of institutionalized discrimination against blacks and anti-Communist hysteria. A reading of Zane Grey’s works connects readers with the Old West an Old West that is often free from ambiguity.
If you take the trip along old Route 66 in Arizona, you will inevitably come across old business ventures that once enticed tourists to visit and break up the monotony of a long journey.