Monday, June 29, 2009


As a suburban runner too cheap to spring for a gym membership, I have two choices - the sidewalk or the street.

For year I preferred the street. In my experience the sidewalk is dangerously uneven - anticipating the sudden dips and twists is impossible and I figured taking it is death by a million steps. Also, I am tall and hate getting hit by tree branches, especially (though not exclusively) at night.

However, I have had it with the street. It, too, is filled with unhappy surprises like dips, potholes and drains. The streets slopes, too, of course, and running on the left side of the street means you are always hitting the ground shorter on the right, longer on the left.

And then there are the cars, and even running in broad daylight I have become more certain than ever that I will eventually be hit by someone. So lately, since this winter, I have been using the sidewalk pretty exclusively.

Today I realized something else. As I walked my neighborhood, I thought of being in the street, and how wide it felt. And suddenly I remembered how long it felt, that getting into the street I saw so far ahead of me I could picture the distance - and time, and I would get a little tired. My steps felt very small. On the sidewalk things are much more closed in, and I feel I am running faster.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - This Is How We Roll (135 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 76º
Weather: just humid
Weight: 154 lbs.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Remember the Time? - NYC Running Routes & Maps (Thanks, Britt!)

Our twenties were a period of great decadence and luxury. The luxury of money, sure, and things and food ... and time. Last night, for our tenth anniversary, the wife and I dropped the kids at our friends' house for an overnight. And then it was just us.

We went to the art museum, which opens officially today. We refreshed our membership (which we had let lapse when they closed for the big redesign four years ago) and joined the night-before preview crowd.

Amazing. God, I missed those paintings. I had grown so used to just walking in there (even without a membership, the general galleries of our art museum are, always have been free) and gaze at old favorites, and encountering new ones. But these new galleries, so much bigger, so much more space, so much more work, work I had never seen before - or noticed before, it was hard to know which.

And finally - a modern art section we can be proud of. Saw the huge Tunick piece for only the third time. Another anniversary - June 26, 2004. That's me in the corner.

Time. Time to go slowly. It makes me anxious. We had to remind ourselves there was no deadline, no child to pick up, no babysitter to relieve. But then, I think I was always anxious with copious amounts of time. I must be doing something, for someone. This is just ... wasteful. Wasteful use of time.

My City can really piss me off, and by that I mean the larger city. Pathetic. Always falling short. No big ideas, petty, mean, stupid.

I did not like the art museum when I was a child. My parents took me, but they did not explain anything. And there was no context, no explanation, nothing to read. Just artwork, the name of the artwork, the guy who made it, and something that looked like a Dewey decimal code. That's it.

In the 90s those things began to change. Gone were the dun-colored walls, present were brief descriptions. I knew where I was, what I was looking for. And of course, I had gotten a small education in art history - the kind actors get, a shallow education based on something you are working on, but still. And I owned that place. We all own it. It is a unique treasure.

These past few years it has been missed (discussed that a bit last week) but maybe this was the best time it could have been closed. The kids have been too young to get it, even their brief visit to the re-opened 1916 wing last year left them largely unimpressed. I am hoping they enjoy going there we when introduce them to it.

For now, there is time.

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 75º
Weather: warm & bright
Weight: 156.5 lbs.

Michael Jackson Playlist

State of Shock (w/The Jacksons ft. Mick Jagger)
I Want You Back (w/The Jackson 5)
ABC (w/The Jackson 5)
Leave Me Alone
Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough
Beat It
(ft. Janet Jackson)

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Take Two

73º at dawn is a lot different than 71º at night after a rainstorm. Much more pleasant, and without the potatoes.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Pacemaker (165 BPM)

The neighbors have a new puppy. It whines 24/7. So it's like we have a puppy now.

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 71º
Weather: cool & humid
Weight: 154 lbs.

Finishing off a year-old bottle of glucosamine. It was gifted me around this time last year, some friends gave it to me at an Oh-Lordy-Pengo's-Forty kind of affair. It was meant as a joke - all the jokes that night were about my being, you know, terribly, horribly old.

Except I had just received the probable diagnose of a torn meniscus. I was not in a humorous mood. My knee hurt ... and maybe this miracle, cartilage restoring elixir was a few years too late. I took most of it then. It was too late. I put it in the fridge. I have been hitting it recently, and now I need to decide whether to purchase any more.

Kelly swears by it. I don't know if that is an endorsement or not.

Balm of hurt minds

No run today. Events have conspired against me. As the days get longer, bedtime for small children gets later. They are finally down by ten, which leaves little time for straightening up the house. Sleep, or laundry? Last night I chose laundry (with several episodes of The Colbert Report on hulu) before turning in by 11 pm. Then ... the new weather. Heat, humidity - spring suddenly summer. I woke with sinuses jammed and a nasty headache.

I did, actually, get into my running kit. I jogged up the street, by the time I went half a block, I felt like there was a small bag of potatoes smacking me in the eye everytime I took a step. I turned around, got back into bed and stayed there for an hour.

I had had a large glass of water, three Tylenol and two Sudafed. But really, nothing replaces sleep.

What Might Pengo See at the Fringe?

Some Editing and Some Theme Music
Jean Ann Douglass
Director: Jean Ann Douglass
With diaries replaced by tell-all YouTube channels, three people discover themselves in an increasingly complicated web of narcissistic self-marketing. If only we could control out lives the way we control our online presence.
1h 15m Local Brooklyn NY
Multi-Media Comedy

What is it about? Who knows? Nothing on their website. But I am intrigued.

Hey, I joined Twitter.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Six A.M.!

What Might Pengo See at the Fringe While He's In New York?

By Euripides
Directed by Joanne Akalaitis
Original Music by Philip Glass
Translated by Nicholas Rudall
The Public Theatre in Central Park

The Bowery Boys: Shakespeare in the Park
What started in a tiny East Village basement grew to become one of New York's most enduring summer traditions, Shakespeare in the Park, featuring world class actors performing the greatest dramas of the age. But another drama was brewing just as things were getting started. It's Robert Moses vs. Shakespeare! Joseph Papp vs. the city! ALSO: Learn how the Public Theater got off the ground and helped save an Astor landmark in the process ... (more)

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - The Rush Hour (155 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 66º
Weather: very nice
Weight: 154 lbs.


I have been reading the biography of a famous cartoonist. It was a Christmas gift, year before last. I have been reading it on and off since then - it's not a boring book, far from it, but I have had so many other things I needed to read first ...

... which is unfortunate. There is a lot in this book which informs this play. Most notably - and I was shocked when I began to understand this in this book, as I had already expressed it in my play - it is the idea that you can spend your life thinking you are downtrodden and unappreciated, only to find that a) not only does everyone like you but b) thinking yourself downtrodden and unappreciated can turn you into a real dick. Not the pitiable character you want to be, but a real, arrogant buttwad.

At left: Your college-age Linus & Charlie Brown archetypes.

This evening I was reading while the kids fell asleep. It was a chapter on marketing, and all the products that came from his strip. And we had a lot of them, books, bedsheets - one they described was a playscript book that included cut-out masks of the characters. We had that. A book of short plays. Based on characters from the strip. Incredible. My life comes into focus.

Another cartoonist, Bill Watterson, lives in Cleveland. He once wrote a review of the book I am reading for The Wall Street Journal. In spite of his reclusiveness, I would like to meet him, though I am not sure what I would say. Your strip was really good. One of your main characters shares a name with one of my sons. I wear a T-shirt featuring a design stolen from you in my new show, but I wear it ironically, you know, because of the name. The name means I believe I am allowed to wear it.

Those are statements. I wish I could think of good questions.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

East Side

What Might Pengo See at the Fringe?

VITALITY Productions in Association with SLANT Theatre Project
Writer: Bill Heck and Nick Mills
Director: Wes Grantom
Two actors: many people. Think Sweeney Todd meets Brecht meets YOU, set in a dark, funny, and bloody future. Come secure the success of humanity for only a small, one-time fee: YOUR LIFE.
1h 15m National Los Angeles, CA Comedy Drama
Staycation: Absurdly Surrealist Dream

Hmn. I think I saw this piece on SPACED.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - I Put My Big-Boy Pants On (145 BPM)

Route: Wade Oval Loop
Distance: 6.9 miles
Temperature: 61º
Weather: gorgeous
Weight: 153 lbs.

It has been the East Side Season. In spite of the disturbing number of vacant homes in my city, there is now a surprising amount of development, too. Not new homes going up (and really, in this burg, who needs those?) but people rehabbing long neglected properties.

And it feels like people are more interested in being out and amongst each other. Especially when it's free. When we went to Parade the Circle last week, it was densely packed, I'd never seen so many people. Apparently they set a record. This past Thursday it was the Coventry Street Fair. Budget cuts have brought this three-times-a-summer event down to two (third Thursday of June and July - but not August) and maybe that was a factor, but the street was teeming. I remember when this event was revived a few years ago after a fifteen year or so hiatus, it was nice, but not well attended. You could saunter down the boulevard, plenty of room, nothing to shout about. Last week, it was slow going, the places was so crowded. A real happening.

Today, Father's Day, I set out on my normal route, and then thought you know, I'm going to the cemetery. And then I realized that wasn't it, I was going to go all the wall down Little Italy and take a lap around the oval. It's been a long time.

The art museum's new East Wing is done, there was a massive preview rave-thing last night that went deep into the night. No sign of it this morning, but there it was, a big, shiny, new wing of the old building. Training for the marathon the view of construction was blocked by temporary walls I would run by every weekend. Now there is a green field and great, striped marble. The official grand opening of the East Wing is next Saturday. And it's free. I think those marble walls are going to split from all the people who show it.

It was the worst of times. It was the best of times.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What's for breakfast?

What Might Pengo See at the Fringe?

Muffin Man
The Silly Jazz Company
Writer: Camille Harris
Director: Camille Harris
A whimsical musical about a barista in love with the Muffin Man. Goofy customers, over-enthusiastic parents and best friends are all in a days work for Lyla. Can she tell the Muffin Man how she feels?
1h 0m Local Manhattan, NY FringeHIGH Musical
Staycation: Ride the Rollercoaster of Love

Lady's got a video! I want to know if it is a solo show or if the fuzzy guy also sings.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Surfing the Avalanche (170 BPM)

Daddy has to run fast!

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 63º
Weather: cool & overcast
Weight: 154.5 lbs.

The Neighborhood

Two things get me out of the house, kids and running. Even when I ran this neighborhood over ten years ago, I didn't get the layout of the streets. I mean, they are insane. It's part of the reason West Siders are terrified to come over here - we have non-white people and you can get seriously lost. I would follow the twist and turns of my own neighborhood streets, and hope I eventually made it to a major thoroughfare where I could (possibly) find my way back. I had a lot of time to waste then.

It wasn't just marathon training, which kept me on the road longer and made me need to be creative about where I went (lest I go bored) but modern mapping programs which I consulted regularly. You look at a map long enough, hey, you know where you are and where you are going.

And the kids got me to get to know my neighbors, and also care about the state of the neighborhood. On a morning like this, I can freely look at the houses without feeling creepy about it. Who is moving out (a lot of those) who is moving in (not so much) what state certain abandoned houses are in (match that one, please, you know the one) and what everyone eats for breakfast.

The professional, childless, Gen-Why people in the rental two doors down sure do eat a lot of cereal. Someone pitched a tiny, 80s-era color television (oops.) And I someone seriously needs to cut their grass.

That would be me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Josh has designed an AWESOME Retro-80s Runner's T-shirt design to celebrate sending ATYD to FringeNYC - and to generate some desperately needed income. Click on any of the designs there to take you to the CafePress shop to order yours now!

(For your information - we do get to keep quite a nice portion of the payment for each shirt.)

The Bowery Boys: The New York City Marathon

In early 2008 Leah turned me onto The Bowery Boys podcast, and I have just been loving it. My knowledge of history is not as deep as say, my father's is, but I do prefer non-fiction to fiction, in general.

Hmn. As if the majority of my produced work doesn't reflect that.

Check out the link to the NY Marathon podcast, it's easy to listen to, fun and informative.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - One Tribe (130 BPM)

Sometimes my glasses strap really drills my glasses into the bridge of my nose. Damn.

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 65º
Weather: light rain - rain is good!
Weight: 152 lbs.

Finally made good on answering those three questions for ... with a little help from my astonishing awesome wife.

1. What is your show about and what can audiences expect when they see it?

The show is about what goes through a man's mind as he runs the NYC Marathon, so it blends the experience of the race with people and events that, circuitously, brought him there. The protagonist is a cartoonist and illustrator who never thought of himself as an athlete. Beginning with his first running experience at age 12, he considers girls, hopes, girls, dreams, girls, professional frustrations, divorce, and other vagaries of becoming an adult. By the time he reaches the end and his waiting family, he (hopefully) knows the difference between the finish line and what it takes to get there.

Audiences can expect to travel the 5 boroughs, as well as the city of Cleveland, on foot, and to see simulated acts of smoking, vomiting, urinating and dancing. And they will see me naked (not simulated).

2. Why is your show pertinent to today’s times and/or why should your show be the choice for audiences to see?

It's more universal than pertinent. It is about having doubts and fears but doing things anyway. It's about triumph over adversity without being, you know, preachy or arrogant.

3. Why did you choose to present this show?

I tend to write about major events in my life, but to skew them in odd ways. Training for a marathon is just too f-ing hard to let go to waste, and it was something I never thought I would be able to do. To take that and create a solo piece about running in all five boroughs - and make it funny and interesting - was an exciting challenge. Plus it is sort of a love letter to New York, and my daughter.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I have mentioned previously that when I was 12, I broke my leg. I mentioned at the time that I should have received physical therapy. The subject came up yesterday and my mother said no one had ever suggested physical therapy.

The reason the subject came up was because I was standing there, in the kitchen of my parents house, with my bare feet flat on the floor. I was trying to stand with my feet parallel, just making myself aware of the alignment of my feet, attempting to achieve balance. Just an absent-minded exercise while conversation was going on around me.

"Your right knee points in," my wife observed, and she was right. Not a little, but by very noticeable degrees. I had never noticed this before. No wonder.

"Yoga can help that," she added. Damn her. She knows I can't stand yoga. Yoga hurts me. Yoga makes me cry. Yoga killed my dog.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Hard Driven (160 BPM)

Great run ... but my head is very antsy today. All weekend, actually. There are a lot things going on - for the next two months. Program with at-risk youth in Lake County wraps up next week, the playwrights event at Cain Park is this weekend, arts camp starts shortly after that - during which I have a long-planned family excursion - and then, you know, the Fringe Festival, with the school year commencing the day I return. And grants, grant, grants.

I don't mind the work, it's the multi-tasking I can't handle.

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 62º
Weather: overcast & perfect
Weight: 155.5 lbs.

What Might Pengo See at the Fringe?


Kangagirl Productions
Writer: David Karl Lee
Director: Kenny Howard
Before Miss California, there was Anita Bryant, the original scandalicious beauty queen turned orange juice promoting, Jesus-loving, homo-hater. "A Tank in Taffeta!- "Inspired Hilarity!"- Orlando Sentinel. "Tastes suspiciously like a banana cream surprise...Delicious!"- Orlando Weekly.
1h 0m National Orlando FL
Comedy Multi-Media

The promotional photography is great fun. Sounds like a whoot.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"My Vaseline Adventure"

Finally finished the Murakami book. And I am sorry to report I was disappointed. Really looking forward to that one, highly recommended. Maybe my hopes were too high.

It's a short book, and yet it felt long. I think it was because he was either a) telling me things I already know or b) telling me things I was horribly uninterested in. Or maybe it was the way he told it. I mean, I thought it was boring.

I heard a piece of fiction he wrote this weekend on This American Life, a short story I'd heard before but hadn't made the connection. On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning. Long. Meditative. Dull. (That's not fair, on that program it does follow the best romantic short story in history, Kiss, written and read by Tobais Wolff.)

Maybe that's not was irritated me about this book. I think it was more personal than that. He turned sixty years-old this January. And he runs a marathon every year. The year before I ran NYC he ran NYC. There's this really tense part (which isn't tense at all because he has already made it clear that his is still running marathons - and triathalons) where he is really anxious about his knee hurting. Maybe there's something wrong, maybe he can't run any more, maybe all of his training is for nothing.

Except, again, we know that's not true. But it's true for me because I do not know my future, I do not know if I will ever run again, so listening to someone who has twenty years on me, half of my life over again, fretting about something which has not come to pass ... well, it made me want to strike him. I am sorry but it's true, I want to slap him stupid.

Oh, and when he gets to the bit about running the NY Marathon? He just flits through it, no big deal, time wasn't so great, kind of disappointed.


Running Lakewood

Don't forget to stretch!

Route: Lakewood Loop
Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Making Tracks (140 BPM)

Distance: 6.15 miles
Weather: warm and breezy - beautiful

Call On Me! Hands down, that is my favorite Podrunner mix, ever. But then, I have not listened to nearly all of them, but I do have fond memories of that one from training.

One word about today's run: Big, fat midges. Mouthbreather had some problems. But it was a delicious run, I have not gone so far in quite some time. Almost the same route as I ran last Christmas, only a little farther, to 112th.

I had the chance to check out the new BIG FUN CLEVELAND (Big Fun - one of the top 20 coolest stores in America as ranked by Playboy!) Wow. Envious. That place looks much better thanb Steve's place on Coventry. Cleaner, friendlier layout, not so chaotic, with so much style. And an adult section that befits the neighborhood! Woo!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Push the Button

Hey, hey - FringeNYC buttons!



Vote (at right) for which I should stick with on the blog for the duration. I just can't make up my mind about anything these days.

What Might Pengo See at the Fringe?

The Aperture
Cleveland Public Theatre
Writer: Sean Christopher Lewis
Director: Craig J. George
Inaugural winner of the Kennedy Center Rosa Parks Playwright Award. In the woods outside of Baltimore, Alex McGregor is staging fake photos of war torn Uganda. Notoriety follows until her subject - a boy soldier refugee - reverts, committing a horrible crime.
0h 55m National Cleveland OH
Drama FringeHIGH

Gotta support the home team. Missed it in Cleveland, so I'll catch it in New York.

Or maybe not. Remember: "I like my theater funny."

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Cloudrunner (150 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 63º
Weather: nice
Weight: 155.5 lbs.


So this friend of mine is going Couch to 5K. And I am proud of him. And I know it's hard. The other day he asked me, "So ... when does the running stop hurting?"

The eternal question. Today I was trying to decide if it does stop hurting, or if runners simply twist their minds a certain way so that hurting becomes something you do, like breathing, and you get used to it.

And then I thought, that's a terrible piece of advice. And besides, I was running when I thought it, assessed my situation, and decided I was not actually, in pain at that moment. At least, I didn't think I was in pain.

What I did ask this friend, at the time, was where it hurt. Was it his chest, was it breathing? That might take a couple months. Just to get used to breathing deeply and hard - which goes away, you don't keep breathing hard as your lungs get used to the aerobic activity. I am a pretty controlled breather when I run.

If it's in your belly, maybe it is because you haven't eaten, or eaten the wrong thing. Or you didn't drink water before you set out.

He said it was his feet and legs, and that he felt he wasn't running right, that he is pounding straight down with his feet onto the pavement (and we all know where that can lead.)

Developing a good roll to your foot (I read recently that you aren't actually supposed to roll from heel to toe, you do land somewhere in the middle of your foot and roll forward, still it needs to be a controlled step) requires limber muscles. If you can't bend your ankle very far, you don't have bendy feet.

I promised him a few basic stretching exercises, the kind that are gentle and require more gravity than exertion.

When I broke my heel, I need to work out the scar tissue and the other damaged parts of my foot structure. Placing the ball of your foot on the bottom steep of the stairs, and letting gravity pull the weight of your body straight down is a great, gentle stretch for the foot, and the back of your calf.

Also, crossing one foot on front of the other, keeping your back straight and bending at the waist is a good one. Don't try to "touch your toes" just keep your back straight, and lean out. Use something for support if necessary. Then switch feet.

For my shin splints I did this thing where you lean against a wall, with both feet placed on foot-length away from the wall. Your legs should be straight. Then raise you toes back to touch your calves. Of course, you can't actually touch, but that's the idea, raise your toes. Don't hold it, just do about ten lifts in succession, then break for a few seconds, and do them again for three reps. After a few days, increase to fifteen lifts each. That one hurts at first, don't kill yourself, do as many as is comfortable.

How's that?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


What Might Pengo See At The Fringe?

The South Wing
Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Kameron Steele
Murder, ghosts, revenge, madness and inner conflict - the Bard's masterwork presented in a bare-bones, all-female production. The South Wing brings a powerful physical style and a company of fierce actresses to this dramatic, sexually charged play.
1h 40m Local Brooklyn NY Drama Multi-Media

An hour-forty HAMLET? I could learn something from that.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Funkenwalken (132 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 69º
Weather: warm
Weight: 155.5 lbs. (stop cleaning the kids' plates.)

Running has settled for me, settled into pleasing ritual. Gone are the harsh, cold days of winter. Gone, too, for the moment, are the knee pains which were troubling me. Proper strengthening exercises? Good to be responsible. Also, gone are any goals. I am not in training. I am not trying to complete some ultimately meaningless list of songs. I just run 5K, every other day, because it keeps me fit. I breathe well. I am not in pain. I have energy. There are no aches. It calms my nerves. I eases my mind. I have a tight ass.

I must stop reading Murakami.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Bunk bed

Better Running Through Walking - NY Times 6/3/09

"To train for my first marathon, I’m using the “run-walk” method, popularized by the distance coach Jeff Galloway, a member of the 1972 Olympic team. When I mentioned this to a colleague who runs, she snickered — a common reaction among purists.

But after interviewing several people who have used the method, I’m convinced that those of us run-walking the marathon will have the last laugh."


Hey, here's a good one: Runopolis.

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 73º
Weather: warm & balmy
Weight: 155 lbs.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - OverDrive+ (175 BPM)

The return of summer, late night runs that turn out far more taxing then you imagined when you first set out. It's so nice! No, it isn't, not really, that's Cleveland humidity hitting you in the face and you don't know it yet.

Still. Better than ice.

The boy got a bunk bed for his fourth birthday, a present for both of them, really (thanks, Mom!) Arrived last week. Promised I would have it up this weekend. Yesterday we cleared the schedule, nothing but putting up the new bunk bed.

Except my kids live in a trash heap. Piled high and deep. Before I could remove the boy's sportscar bed frame and the poor girl's half-of-a-Queen frame she's been sleeping halfway out of for a year, we needed to weed. And pitch. And sort. And then, when all the toys and books and animals were relocated or trashed, then we could remove the old beds (by this time I was doing all of the work and they were reading books I had dug up, which was fine by me) and marvel at a room which had not been empty since before my ex-wife moved out.

Only ... the walls. Good God, they had not been painted since before I moved in. Maybe twenty-year old blue-gray paint. Cracked walls, holes in the plaster from nails. I had always dreamed of, you know, when the girl was one I would paint her a mural or something. That was nice a idea five years ago, at least then I sprung for new curtains.

No, this would not do. After naps I got one gallon of one-coat, primer-less paint. Ice blue. I was up until two last night painting the walls. One coat. Really! Worked a dream. Swept, mopped, and today and only today (after a restless night with the girl grinding her teeth and the boy continually poking me with his toe, because duh, they had to sleep somewhere) did we work together to put up the bunk bed. Which they sleep in, right now. In an otherwise empty room.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Runners High

Watched the movie Runners High the other night. Now, I am in education, and theater, but you don't have be involved in either to have been exposed to a million variations on the To Sir, With Love story. Devoted but flawed teacher - or maybe the teacher has no flaws whatsoever (and in that case is played insufferably by Robin Williams) and enters a blackboard jungle (hey, another good one) wherein they encounter a disengaged and even potentially vioent student population. Maybe the teacher is from the hills - or maybe they are froom this environment. Doesn't matter, the end is always the same. The teacher suffers, the students are inflexible ... until they suddenly aren't, and confess their hidden love for whetever it was the teacher was trying to get them to do. Write poetry. Act. Maybe run a marathon.

One of the greatest theater events I have seen recently was Nina's performance in No Child... at CPT. A teaching artist is trying to get students at Malcolm X High in the Bronx to perform Our Country's Good. Her performance sold me, I am not sure how the script would fare in others' hands. Everyone deeply wants to stand onstage and act, right? And would be amazing at it, if they only tried, right?

Unless of course, they don't. I think art is important. I am not always sure how important my particular art is. That's heresy, I know, but seriously, I think it's arrogant sometimes to insist students perform. I am currently working with at-risk youth in Lake County and some of them just have no use for the stuff. They may like music, though, or drawing. But speaking lines from a page? Out loud? What is?

I digress. Runners High, directed by Justine Jacob and Alex da Silva. Every year, students at Oakland Tech train to run the L.A. Marathon. I was unclear as to why they tried - were they tapped for this program? Some had a desire to complete it, others must have been talked into it, I could not be sure. But once they were in it, most expressed a desire to accomplish this goal.

It was frustrating to watch, and I mean that in a good way. A young woman, Ebony, had obviously never been expected to complete anything, ever, not even a complete sentence. And when anyone begins to challenge her, everything is someone else's fault. She's "trying", when it is apparent to all outward appearance that she is not.

Fred is a young man who has had a falling out with his mother, and is in the care of his grandmother. He is capable, and strong, and willing, but like so many others, it looks as though he has no comprehension of what a marathon is. The fact that he makes it to the race (those who cannot complete an 18 mile qualifying run are not permitted to go to L.A.) was a bit of a surprise, and in spite of my frustration with his inability to get it together, and the head shaking he produced in me, I was startled by my emotional reaction to what happens at the of the race.

There are other stories of people who have a clear picture of what they are up against, whose journeys are by turns poignant and heartbreaking. I loved all the different coaches, and their different approaches. It was like, a handful of bad cops and one good cop. There's a priceless scene, cutting back and forth between two of them talking about Ebony - one saying she's out, she's gotta get it together, she has one more chance, while the other coach speaks with great understanding and empathy for her. Who has ever expected, or asked her to do anything?

Most of all, the piece just made me wish I could run another marathon. I am not sure I ever will. But it is uplifting to think of a different high school class in Oakland, every year, having the opportunity to make that race.

Distance: 4(?) miles
Temperature: 49º
Weather: cool & clear
Weight: 154 lbs.

Harris, Liz & Max are in town. Went for a run with Harris, it was his idea, actually. He's staying with a friend, only a half-mile from our house. I took him much further han I believe he would have gone on his own. Three miles? Ha, I laugh at your three miles.

You know, talking makes a run a lot ... longer. Really, I listen to music and I don't notice the time or the distance, but talk about politics, New York, Star Trek ... makes you aware of your breathing, of the air, of the cars. I guess it is because I am listening to the world instead of closing that sense off.

That, and Harris is really, really boring.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The master gave me "nees."

Quiz: Name that comic book.

My relationship with my knees ... it's complicated.

My knees feel great. Except when they don't. I have resumed a regular exercise regimen, which is good, it's very very good. Strengthening my knees has to be a priority. Someone (my wife?) pointed out to me recently that the msuecles around your joints act as a kind of buffer in and of themselves, and if you simply run without doing any weight-bearing exercises, and lose all your fat and muscle, then the cartilage is the only padding you have. And that's not good. That may be why I tore my left, lateral meniscus.

Then again, it may be from when I jumped off a bed during a photo shoot at the height of about six feet. I broke my right heel ... but did I also cause slight damage to my left knee, which took three years to become an issue? The world will never know.

Running, I get complaints in either knee, in different places. When it hurts where the injury (and subsequent surgery) took place, I wonder of that is further injury, or just internal scarring with issues.

Lately - and this is weird - it's like the scars on my the exterior of my knee have been saying "hello." I don't look at the front of my knees, that's hard to do. But we took a group picture of my co-workers, one which is now framed on my desk. It was taken out in front of my house, by the same tree where we took the group portrait three years ago. And I am in the same position, kneeling down front.

I look old, real old, much older than the 2006 picture (which was taken just prior to training for the NY marathon.) Grayer, more gaunt (in a lumpy, English way, not in a sexy way) ... and there are these two, puckery bite marks, one on each side of my kneecap. They look positively fresh.

Last time, without warning, my knee suddenly blew up. That's how I knew I was injured. It's like the engine light, by the time it comes on, your car has already been seriously damaged.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Engine Summer (142 BPM)

Morning trot. Trying to keep my stride short - and slow. I have a tendency to go fast. It's true.

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 54º
Weather: cool & overcast
Weight: 154 lbs.

Pengo (partial résumé)

Cleveland, OH (August, 2001 - Present)

• Title: Full-time Graphic Artist; Illustrator; Character Designer

• Duties: Creation and design of original character line featured in a series of sympathy cards entitled 'Extreme Love'.

• Conceptualized, developed and/or composed electronic art files for thousands of greeting cards on tight deadline schedule while also developing new skill sets and attending assorted in-house classes and presentations.

• Skills: PhotoShop, Illustrator, HTML - Dreamweaver - HomeSite, Flash, Image Ready, Quark, Word, Art Direction, Graphic Design, Illustration - Traditional & Digital, Print Design, Web Design

• Intuitive, Self Starter

See: Pengo's Biography - a fictional work-in-progress.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Three questions (see below)

Sometimes, Mr. Murakami is highly nfuriating. At the age of thirty, this man who had never written prose in his life - while leisurely watching a baseball game - he decided to write a novel. And it was a success! Around the same time, he decided to become a runner. And he still is! At the age of whatever, with little or no physical complaint.

The first time he ran a marathon, he attempted it without training - and he failed! Aw, boo.


Never too soon to choose which Fringe shows you are looking forward to seeing. Though it doesn't say 2009 yet, you simply need to visit FringeNYC and look up the "2008" show listing to see what is performing this year.

I never know what is going to be good, or a hit, or both, so suggestions will be welcome. I have a couple of months to make any decisions. Top of my list, however, is Abraham Lincoln's Big, Gay Dance Party.

Listening to: PODRUNNER Classic - Accelerator (162 BPM)

Distance: 3.25 miles
Temperature: 52º
Weather: cool & clear
Weight: 155 lbs.

Here's the (next) big questions ... will be providing concise interviews with FringeNYC participants, if they answer a questionnaire about their show. It is a great, online interview, as they ask three simple questions which are decidedly difficult to answer.

So I am asking you. How would you answer these three questions - if you were me - about the show AND THEN YOU DIE?

1. What is your show about and what can audiences expect when they see it?

2. Why is your show pertinent to today’s times and/or why should your show be the choice for audiences to see?

3. Why did you choose to present this show?

We are allowed 300 words for all three answers, total. We are instructed not to use superlatives or hype, but just to explain what makes this show unique. Challenging!

Please leave a comment.