Monday, December 30, 2013

Wave goodbye.

The days unwind and leave me anxious. Yesterday was tremendous. Bloody Marys and huevos rancheros at Casa. Guinness and video games at the Skull. The wife and I left the kids fiddling with their iPods (such generous gifts) and went to see Philomena at the Athena. The evening was spent playing games, watching football, reading books, lazing about.

We will pay for this. We will all pay dearly.

Philomena includes a lot of scenes that feature Steve Coogan jogging. Those were my favorite scenes.

Temperature: 29°
Climate: overcast w/light snow
Distance: 2.8 miles

In the past month alone, family and friends have born children, become engaged, or received new lungs. When I get word of such great tidings, I cannot help to reflect on my own progress. If they, then why can't I? I am blind to my own achievement.

Tomorrow we head home. This will be my final run of a momentous year. Three speeding tickets in twelve months, impressive. I need to calm myself. Slow down, and focus. And so I feel I haven't really gone anywhere at all.

Great Literary Moments of 2013: Getting into an argument with Paula McLain about the lyrics to Blurred Lines.

2013 Playlist
Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke ft. T.I. & Pharrell
Everything * - Nine Inch Nails
Mirrors * - Justin Timberlake
Summertime Sadness - Lana Del Rey
Diane Young * - Vampire Weekend
Where Are We Now? * - David Bowie

As long as there's me. As long as there's you.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Make your body big and strong.

In 2013, Pamela Anderson ran a marathon.
Your argument is invalid.

Rose this morning, slowly and casually as is traditional while staying with the inlaws, coffee with Bailey's, realized I had no book, picked up one just lying around (today's selection: The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer, thank you) and realized my foot hurts.

Specifically the interior metatarsus on my right foot. It is the bunion, it has to be. I must be careful, or I will eventually be a hobbling, old man. At the age of 45, I may be only halfway through my life, I do not wish to spend the other half unable to run or even walk properly.

Or maybe I just tied my boots too tight yesterday, I have no idea.

Temperature: 38°
Climate: bright & cool
Distance: 4.25 miles

Running down the Hocking in shorts. Supposed to be in the 50s tomorrow before dipping back down again, let's see if I can make that in shirtsleeves.

Super Bass Playlist
Super Bass - Nicki Minaj
Alive - Black Eyed Peas
Ring-A-Ling - Black Eyed Peas
Stupid In Love - Rihanna
Think - Aretha Franklin
Best Of My Love - The Emotions
Shining Star - Earth Wind & Fire
No Hay Igual - Nelly Furtado
Rimshot - Erykah Badu
I Would Die 4 U - Prince & the Revolution
Rockin' Robin *  - Michael Jackson

When my iPod shuffles Think to follow Stupid In Love, is it being ironic or just making social commentary?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I Have Changed (book)

Life is no sprint. It's a marathon - a long, long, long-distance race over hills and through valleys, sometimes even stops along the way, and it's how you run that marathon, not how soon you get to the finish line, that matters. Because there really is no finish line. As long as you live, there's another hill, another valley.
- Jesse Owens (with Paul Neimark), I Have Changed (1972)

cliché (n.) an overused word that's usage is more cliché than whatever it is that's being called cliché. - Urban Dictionary
Jesse Owens achieved signal triumph at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and has gained immortality not merely because of his athletic ability, but as a symbol of independent spirit triumphing over totalitarianism. The fact that he made his mark as one of African descent, championing over Hitler's "Aryan race" while inspiring is tarnished by the fact that he returned to an America whose entrenched racism was, to put it best, milder than Hitler's.

But not much. Not if you were black. You could still be murdered because of your ethnic heritage, and if not merely live your life as a second or third class citizen. In America.

However, Jesse was a conservative man in the better sense, who truly believed in success based on achievement, and that there were far too many who spent time carping about disenfranchisement without actually doing anything about, or worse, working to tear down the system without striving to create anything better in its place.

In 1970 the first book Blackthink: My Life as Black Man and White Man was published, credited to Jesse Owens with Paul Neimark. In this book (which I have not read) Owens holds forth on the civil rights era, and his disdain for activist and extremists such as the Black Panthers. American blacks had received a great deal of equality through LBJ's civil rights legislation, and these agitators were merely violent separatists taking advantage of the new social climate.

He was surprised by the reaction the book received, apparently. He riled those African-Americans close to him he mistakenly believed as he did, and garnered derision from whites who he knew believed as he did, but mistaken believed also respected him. Two years later he released I Have Changed (which I just finished) which seeks to repudiate this previous work.

It's all a little confusing and disheartening. I had picked this one up because I wanted to know him, and how he thinks, and was taken by the title -- I never found Blackthink in the library catalog, or I surely would have picked that up, too.

The book is challenging to read, like running a marathon. There isn't a life event Jesse Owens (with Paul Neimark) can't turn into an athletic metaphor.

Also, in this book he refers numerous times to his "confrontation with Hitler". He sounds as though he has so altered history in his own mind that he once came face to face with this man and bested him. At a different time in his life, Owens reported that Hitler smiled and waved at him.

But what was truly challenging was listening to this man, this great man, who worked every day to make a living based on his youthful exploits, dither and twist in his beliefs. I feel I will read Blackthink and disagree with him about everything, but at least I would know where he stands. This book would have been better titled I Am Changing, as he moves into the final stage of life in the process of opening his mind to different ideas.

Temperature: 34°
Climate: cool, bright, clear & dry
Distance: 4.25 miles

Ooh, ah ... chafing. This new jockstrap seriously sucks. One functioning supporter with serious anger management issues, and two that sag like I may as well be wearing a diaper. I will need to take a trip to the sporting goods store as soon as possible. Happy holidays.

Help I'm Alive Playlist
I Feel It All * - Feist
Infinity Guitars * - Sleigh Bells
Start a War - The National
Underneath the Sycamore - Death Cab for Cutie
Letters from the Sky - Civil Twilight
White Sky - Vampire Weekend
Dark Paradise - Lana Del Rey
Song For No One - Miike Snow
On Melancholy Hill - Gorillaz
Flathead - The Fratellis
Spotlight (Twilight Mix) - Mute Math

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Can you hear my heart beating like a hammer?

OMG my brother (the radio producer) got me a set of Sennheiser "Enhanced Bass" earbuds for Christmas and I was think, oh yeh, "enhanced bass" whatever, and I start playing Help I'm Alive by Metric and OMG I am in heaven these are the most incredible headphones I have ever worn and my brother is the best brother I will ever have (sorry, guy who lives in Britain, thanks anyway for the book.)

I work very hard not to anticipate too much. Disappointment can hurt, so special moments are taken as they are received, on a daily basis, throughout the year. Saving up to much hope for one day, like Christmas, for example, can only lead to let-down, or so I believed throughout my childhood.

Throughout my adulthood, success on the holidays depends entirely upon my children's happiness, though even then I am prepared for the worst. When the girl was confused, even a little scared, when Santa Claus told her she was going to Disney World. I mean, come on, this girl is far too inquisitive and fearful, the questions where hundredfold, going on trip? To Florida? By herself? How would she get there? On what? When? What? My wife was expecting the classic, joyful, YouTube response, but I knew better. The joy would come later, she'll get it, not right now, it's all right.

This morning, however. Classic Christmas at the outlaws. Lots of cousin, large and newborn. An embarrassment of riches. And for me, I got a new hat, a new jacket, all people my age are concerned about is being cold, and in that department I was very well-provided.

Then to the Smiling Skull with my wife's step-father, brother, sister, cousin, spouses, children, others, the places was buzzing by 10 AM, with TBS playing A Christmas Story over and over again, just like it should be. Two pints of Guinness, traditional Christmas breakfast, and then Arnie is picking up a round, a third? Sure, why not, happy happy!

A long, lazy day, with cooking and chat and family and drinking and eating and dish washing. Exactly where I wanted to be, and exactly what I asked for for Christmas.

Temperature: 32°
Climate: bright and cold
Distance: 4.25 miles

Now, taking a run into the sunlight when all you've to eat are two cups of coffee with Bailey's and three pints can be challenging. But not on Christmas. For then, it is magic!

In practice, the new headphones could be treacherous. They are not merely enhanced bass but they obliterate most outside noise. Not what I want to be wearing along the streets of Cleveland.

Down by the river, maybe half a dozen others passed, walking, biking, running. Happy holidays, thanks for getting out with me.

Help I'm Alive Playlist
Help I'm Alive - Metric
We Looked Like Giants - Death Cab for Cutie
Sea of Love - Cat Power
Bryn - Vampire Weekend
Blue Light - Bloc Party
Walcott * - Vampire Weekend
Stylo - Gorillaz ft. Bobby Womack & Mos Def
The Park - Feist
Fragile Bird - City and Colour
Fences - Phoenix

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The snow turned into rain.


The snow has all gone, washed down the sewer by torrential rain. I expected last night that the temperatures would drop, I was entirely not expecting this.

Temperature: 63°
Climate: rain
Distance: 5.15 miles
Weight:174 lbs.

Running three days before Christmas, when there is so much to do, and clean, seems really selfish. But between weather and work, running has not been a priority and blah, blah, blah, depressing, lightning pains, slack muscles, what have you.

It was misting as I headed out, but so cool and refreshing I kept going into a five-miler. It was the last quarter mile that the skies opened up and gave me a taste of what was coming down last night.

The rain on my chest is a baptism. I'm born again.
- The Dark Knight

Yes. We all are. At the closing of the year, we are all born again. Because rain.

Holiday Run
Brick - Ben Folds Five
Linus & Lucy *  - Vince Guaraldi Trio
Christmas - The Who
Christmas In Hollis - The A.K.A.s
Winter Wonderland - Eurythmics
New Year's Day - U2
Christmas In Hollis - Run D.M.C.
Winter Storm '98 - Cadallaca
Sun Valley Ski Run - Esquivel
Same Auld Lang Syne - Don Fogelberg
Little Drummer Boy [demo] - Sister Soleil

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cold, clear, and bright.

You were MP's favorite.

D.A. asked how on earth I can run in weather like this, and by that I mean he really wanted to know how it is physically possible. Do I run when there is a blanket of uneven snow on the ground? The answer is yes, I do. I really pick up my feet (which is taxing on the knees, and tiring) and trying to be as careful as possible.

One major drawback is that I do not wear the clown shoes when the weather is like that, I would like a little distance between the ground and my actual feet so the uppers get as little snow on them as possible. Sometimes this is a lost cause, but in general I wear my old sneakers in the snow.

Not surprisingly, when I ran the other day, it was the first time in a long time that my knees hurt afterwards. Of course ... that may be because of the snow.

Temperature: 27°
Pavement: drifts of creamy, white snow, like ice cream
Distance: 2 miles (felt like 3)
Weight: 175.5 lbs.

Last night we took my in-laws to the Ohio Theater for their first time seeing A Christmas Carol. For my kids it was time number six or seven. I ask them every year if they want to go, and every year they give an emphatic "YES?!" like I am crazy for even asking.

It's such a clear, sincere retelling, it's no wonder it continues to attract audiences for twenty-five years. Last night, before the show a young couple received a special, private "backstage tour" which culminated in the young man proposing to his girlfriend right there on the stage.

Numerous actors and stage hands were just milling about, waiting for it to happen. It was a pretty loose secret around the company. The ASM came walking through before our guests returned to the stage to wrap up their tour, and admonished all of us (with a smile), "God, you guys, do some stretches or something, you look obvious."

And my nephew Rex was born in Athens, Ohio. 'Twas a magical day.

Holiday Run
Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town - Bruce Sprngsteen & the E Street Band
All Together Now - The Farm
Santa Claus Is Back In Town - Brian Setzer Orchestra
Christmas Reindeer - The Knife
Gabriel's Message - Sting
The Little Drummer Boy - King of Clubs
Santa's Beard - They Might Be Giants

All together now.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday, still so far away.

"Lightning pains" was the term Édouard Manet used to describe the flashes of torment which would suddenly flare up in his left leg, a symptom of the syphilis would would eventually take his left foot, and then his life.

This is also the term I use when there are flashes of pain (though nothing so dramatic, nor painful) down my right thigh when I have gotten off my routine.

I have been using the Wii Fit Plus, almost every day of the week, to compensate, and to have a better all-around workout. But it's not running.

This is why a nighttime run in sub-freezing temps. I have to move, people.

Temperature: 19°
Climate: frigid
Distance: 2 miles
Weight: 177.5 lbs.

Oh my. The first quarter mile there was a little wind, my face was stinging with pain. I just held it with one hand, it was really miserable, and I thought I would need to turn back ... then it stopped. It was just cold. And then my internal generator kicked in, and I was warm. I stopped stooping over, my spine lengthened, head high, heat rising into my face. It felt so good to run.

And listen to Christmas music. I like looking at the neighborhood light displays, at night, listening to Christmas music.

Holiday Run
Wonderful Christmastime - Straight No Chaser ft. Paul McCartney
Must Be Santa - Bob Dylan
Last Christmas - Billie Piper
All I Want For Christmas Is You - The 88
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Death Cab For Cutie
Holiday * - Vampire Weekend
Fairytale of New York - The Pogues Ft. Kirsty MacColl

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Where nightmares disappear in dreams.

Adventures In Slumberland
"If you have kids, you need to check this out."
- Sarah Valek, CoolCleveland

Slumberland Playlist
Boulevard of Broken Dreams - Green Day
Only In Dreams * - Weezer
Dreamland - The B-52s
Dreaming * - Blondie
Not Sleeping Around - Ned's Atomic Dustbin
Dream Police - Cheap Trick

Fifty-seven degrees out? Are you kidding me? I am out of here!

Temperature: 57°
Climate: What month is this?
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 176 lbs.*

The past two night I have gone to bed with a headache, and woken up with even worse headaches. Right now there is a pain lurking behind my right eye. I don't know what to do about this. More water, more sleep ... though last night we had about eight hours of sleep. Only they weren't very good.

There is something ominous about running after dark, in the winter, when the weather is nice, and the wind is up. There is this feeling, which I can only think is psychological, that during the twenty-five minutes I am out, the temperature is going to suddenly dip fifteen degrees.

This did not happen. We are going to have another day of this before returning to winter on Friday.

There is a completely outrageous Christmas lights display on Compton. I mean, it's usually there, I just don't get to enjoy it as often as I have this year. Or week. As often as I have this week.


Monday, December 02, 2013

God knows this heart of mine could use a rest.

Adventures In Slumberland
"It's quite a treat."
- Christine Howey, Rave & Pan

Slumberland Playlist
Dreamworld - Midnight Oil
Daydream Believer - The Monkees
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) - Eurythmics
Wake Up - XTC
Last Night (I Didn't Get To Sleep At All) - The Fifth Dimension
A Japanese Dream - The Cure
The District Sleep Alone Tonight - The Postal Service
Behind The Wall of Sleep - The Smithereens
Sleepyhead - Passion Pit

My eyes are on fire, my head is throbbing. Physically, it has been a challenging day. I woke with a slight headache which has carried on, slow and low, throughout the day. Nice evening with the kids, putting Christmas decorations on the mantle (tree, tomorrow, I promised) but I did not want to go to bed feeling like this, I wanted to run now. Blood will circulate, breathing will be deep.

However, not wanting a repeat of yesterday, I wore a lighter hat. A bandana would be too think, I opted for a butter beanie instead. I have not used one for a while. Now I remember why. They push my glasses deep into my face, it is just too tight.

Otherwise, however ... nice run. Cool and crisp, surprising amount of energy, considering. I am hoping that this end-of-day run gives me a good night's sleep, and pleasant dreams.

Temperature: 36°
Climate: cool, man.
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 173.5 lbs.

Man. The last four years I ran a mere four times during the month of November ... well, except for 2010. Then I ran five.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

You're the perfect lullaby.

Sometimes, pride and happiness are tinged with spite. Numerous times, I have attended plays and thought, I wish I had written that, or I have written something mostly like that, or I could have written that but why would I bother.

The fact remains, there it is, and there I sit in the audience really enjoying it.

Then there are the times I have seen productions and thought, I wish I was on that stage in that show right now, or God they look like they are having fun, or damn am I ever going to do anything that looks as enjoyable as that show ever again?

I watch and laugh and smile and die inside.

And then there are the times a play is about my favorite subject ever, maybe based on some historical character, or adapted from a great novel I love, or takes place during my favorite time period ever, and I think, I blew it I should have written that one first, or f*** I am in the middle of writing that and it's not as good, or one of these days I will finally write about that and it will kill this piece of crap.

Last night I got to feel all of those things about a play I actually wrote. My adaptation of the comic strips of Winsor McCay, a new play called Adventures In Slumberland opened yesterday at Talespinner Children's Theatre downtown, and it's all just perfect.

That thing going on right now? I made that.

Slumberland Playlist
Wide Awake * - Katy Perry
Sleeping Satellite -Tasmin Archer
Dreaming I Am - Bob Mould
American Dream - Jakatta
You Make My Dreams Come True * - Hall & Oates
Sweet Dreams - Beyoncé
Sleeping Bag - ZZ Top
Dreams - The Cranberries

Chose not to bring my running kit to St. Paul over the holiday but really wish I had. My brother lives in a great neighborhood, right next to the campus of Macalester, it would have been nice to take a run around. I really enjoy running in different cities.

I had figured the weather would not cooperate, but it did ... and anyway, it means I had an extra hour each day to spend with family, and that was very nice.

Temperature: 37°
Climate: not as cold as I imagined.
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 174 lbs. (holding steady)

And no. It is not necessary to wear all of your cold weather gear when it is 37 degrees out.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sweat turns to cold.

I run, and I am able to think, to process. The first half-mile is almost chaos, my body reacting to the sudden change in energy. Hard to concentrate on anything except the action at hand. Then the breathing normalizes, my balance stabilizes, and my brain begins to loosen, to wander. Problems that I do not feel I have time to spend thinking about come to the fore and I can ... ponder.

Click ... click ... click-click, click-click, clickclickclickclickclick --

I run. I get ideas.

Temperature: 61°
Climate: bright and beautiful
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 174 lbs.

Here's a tip ... logging my run as soon as I walk in the door is helpful for a number of reasons, the most important of which is I get to cool down before getting into the shower. Doesn't matter how cold the water is, right after a run I am burning up and only time will bring it down.

Punkrocker Playlist
Cuts You Up - Peter Murphy
The Killing Moon - Echo & The Bunnymen
Can't Hardly Wait - The Replacements
Still In Love Song - The Stills
Geraldine - Glasvegas
Out of Control - She Wants Revenge
Standing Outside a Borken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand - Primitive Radio Gods

My. How dark for such a bright day.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Go for it!!!

Brief breath of spring, back into it on Monday. Very nice run today, the city seems like its still digging out from the early snow two weeks ago. Not the snow -- the leaves and branches.

Been using the wii every other morning ... should be every morning, but this week was challenging, there were a number of before-hours emergencies which kept me from writing or exercising. But still, there is something like a regimen happening, which is reassuring. These things must be carefully maintained.

At the very least, fifteen minutes of writing in longhand. Fifteen minutes of reading. Fifteen minutes of exercise. Every weekday morning. Doesn't sound like a lot, and yet. The writing gets done. The reading gets done. The exercise gets done. This idea that if I do not have an hour or two to concentrate ... I mean, I can't concentrate when I have bags of time. These brief moments, every day, encourage me to focus.

Temperature: 61°
Climate: cool.
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 174.5 lbs.

This is my friend Danny, his brother and I went to school together. Danny is a high-spirited engine of positive energy. He is also a public school teacher, so he is double-plus awesome. When I was in my mid-20s and he was teaching at Aviation High, he asked me to adjudicate his school's Shakespeare monologue recitation competition, which was the first time I was asked to do that.

He is currently working in Waldorf, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C. Please enjoy this inspiring motivational video!

Punkrocker Playlist
Punkrocker - Teddybears ft. Iggy Pop
Take Me To The Riots - Stars
Tear You Apart - She Wants Revenge
Yeah Yeah Yeah - New Politics
I Don't Want To Fall In Love * - She Wants Revenge
Kiss Them For Me - Siouxsie & The Banshees
In The Morning - Junior Boys

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The ground beneath my feet.

Okay, running once a week now. Sigh.

Things I find more exciting than running at present:
  1. My job.
  2. Moving/throwing out furniture in my house.
  3. Yardwork.
  4. Writing.
  5. Getting books that have been sitting in piles for years onto actual bookshelves.
  6. Hanging out with the kids.
  7. Attending rehearsals for a play I wrote.
The past few days have been delightfully mild, not so much today. But I am relaxed and ready.

Temperature: 46°
Climate: cool and even bright
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 175.5 lbs.

Well. My back. My back has been hurting these past two runs. My back was hurting in my sleep this morning. These are, to me, clear signs that I need to get back up to speed here.

Now to an interesting bit of trivia ... my beard. The wind. The wind actually whistles in my beard. So there's that.

Mute Playlist
Breathe In - Frou Frou
Drunk Girls - LCD Soundsystem
Mansard Roof - Vampire Weekend
Jeepster - T. Rex
Halo - Depeche Mode
Totally Fucked - Spring Awakening Soundtrack
Hurdy Gurdy Man - Donovan
(Keep Feeling) Fascination - Human League

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Madman on the run.

Today is the New York City Marathon. It had occurred to me to apply, last year the race was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, so I imagined this year would be a very special celebration.

However, when Double Heart was accepted into the New York Fringe Festival, that kind of settled that. Do you know how much it costs to enter the New York Marathon? It's a lot, not including transportation and housing, etc. One trip to New York a year is about all I can swing these days.

47 degrees in New York City right now, with a projected high of 50° Not bad, a little cool. Sorry I can't be with you, but welcome home.

Temperature: 45°
Climate: excellent, cool and bright
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 175.5 lbs.

Last year at this time I was suffering from several successive days of sinus pain and headaches. Remarkable, I have been enduring the same symptoms the past several days, today only feeling minor discomfort. Not remarkable, I guess, just a passing of the season, but it is the exact same weekend.

Bit winded today. Maybe it was the pulse-pumping playlist, maybe I should have worn sunglasses.

Mute Playlist
Mute (Jokers of the Scene Remix) - The Brash
Against All Odds - The Postal Service
Everlasting Light - The Black Keys
Comfortably Numb - Scissor Sisters
Zero - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Oh Yeah - Yello

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sleep for a thousand years.

Maybe it is the turn of the season, maybe it is related to depression, but in the past several days, I began to compulsively eat.

Monday I had a bowl of breakfast cereal, and for lunch a trip to Burger King. Double cheeseburger, onion rings (with dipping sauce) and a Very Large Coke. Stopping in at the grocery store for legitimate food items, I suddenly remembered there is a jar of unopened salsa in the larder. Hint-o-lime tortilla chips it was.

Preparing dinner I put away several handfuls of chips and salsa. Dinner itself was the wife's award-winning chili prepared Cincinnati-style -- the components of which I could not have even described to you before this past weekend. Chili over angel hair with cheese and sour cream.

The portions were large. I ate mine and half of the girl's. By then, I had become very, very sad and unhappy.

Yesterday I had a sensible breakfast (cottage cheese, a banana) and treated myself to coffee and one small cookie, because they were here in the office and homemade and that is a fine thing to do. Today was much the same, only I afforded myself a small brownie which was left over from an office party.

Lunches the past two days have been packed, simple sandwiches with a vegetable and an apple. This is a good, decent diet, and one I should stick to.

Also, too: Planking would be good.

Temperature: 64°
Climate: nice out
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 174.5 lbs.

Dr Dog: Oh, boy! It's nice out!
Bill: Yes. I think you ought to leave it out!

On Compton the street was being monitored by police and there were people standing around, watching one house. It looked ominous, it was so quiet. I approached an officer and asked if I could pass. She said yes, and when I asked if everything was all right she told me they were shooting a movie.

It was a scene for Jenny's Wedding. Katherine Heigl in the Heights, y'all.

Lou Reed Playlist
Venus In Furs - Velvet Underground
Sun City - Artists United Against Apartheid
I'm Waiting For The Man - Velvet Underground
White Light/White Heat - Velvet Undreground
I'm So Free - Lou Reed
Sweet Jane (Live) - Lou Reed & Soul Asylum
Peggy Sue - Lou Reed

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Grow your beard out. Just weird out.

These things happen.

And now a word about Mad Men. My wife and I are behind, because we must be behind, there isn't time in the day to watch TV on any regular basis (though we did begin watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a family event on Tuesdays and I am beginning to regret that) but when we have a free evening, we will catch and episode or two of what must be the best-written program I have ever enjoyed.


On several occasions TV networks have tried to capture the 1960s in a bottle, through movies like The 60's (1999) or more recently the series American Dreams (2002 - 2005). From what I understand, these programs failed because the goal of these projects was to once again remind us what an amazing time the 1960s were, that there was never a period of history more important than that one, and that we must once more venture into these heady days, if only to understand, man.

They were, of course, created by Baby Boomers. Like the movie Forrest Gump, another tribute to that era which ironicly puts a moron at the center of great, historic events even though he has no idea how he got there ... like most Boomers who didn't actually do anything but just lived it and feel they earned their place in history. Like George W. Bush.

Mad Men, however, tricked everyone into thinking it was a cheeky period piece. Created by a member of Generation X (Matthew Weiner, b. 1965) he chronicles the events at a fictional advertising agency during a period before he was even born, starting in 1960. And in its way (because I know too much about what is going to happen already) this series stands out in its ability to tell the story of the times and how they were a'changin' better than anyone has for the obvious reason that he started with interesting characters, cast great if largely unknown actors, and have provided them with powerful writing.

Last night we took in the episodes The Fog and Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency back to back.

Let me start by saying my brother tipped me off, maybe a few months ago, that there will be an awful moment involving a lawnmower. And let me say that, in spite of this warning, when someone literally rides a John Deere mower into the office of Sterling Cooper, I was paying such deep attention to all the details of every storyline, that it didn't even occur to me that I was looking at a lawnmower and that something terrible was about to happen.

Back up. So Don's wife Betty (January Jones) is having their third child. Watching childbirth on TV, anything to do with it, always presents an ick factor for me. Because I know what it is to be afraid, every single time. Sometimes they die, these things happen. But not on TV. Even the episode of Six Feet Under, a TV show about death, gave one of the main characters a preeclampsia scare which concluded with a healthy baby and mother. These things happen, except not on TV.

Well, there was that one episode of E.R. I watched, the only episode of E.R. I ever watched, where Doctor Mark Green misses the signs, but even in that one the mother dies, not the baby. Never the baby.

Actor Matt Bushell has a featured role as a prison guard who is expecting his first child and shares the waiting room with Don (John Hamm).  The wife and I were marveling afterwards at what totally amazing scenes they shared together. Bushnell had this incredible, fully-formed character for these few scenes, going emotionally toe-to-toe with John Hamm, it's just another example of what great writing and acting and directing has the potential to be. The guard's anxiety and fear about losing his wife (who is having a very difficult labor, it is a breech birth) and what might happen if he needs to raise a child on his own are palpable and real. His euphoria at the news of the birth of his first child, a son, are beautiful.

After Don's child is born, he visits Betty in the hospital with flowers. He passes the guard pushing his wife down the hall in a wheelchair, Don smiles brightly, the guard looks blank, catches Don's eye, a smile of recognition flickers but then he looks down and away. Cut to Don, who appears confused.

It's such a brief moment. It's never referred to again. These things happen. Who caught that?

Episode reviews:
TIME: Like many of you, I wasn’t sure exactly what to make of the shamed look Dennis [the guard] seemed to give Don when he ran into him in the hallway. But I wonder if it goes back to his pledge that having the baby would make him “a better man,” and realizing now that it was just nerves and the Johnnie Walker talking.

The A.V. Club: And what does the later scene when the two men pass each other in the hall mean? Dennis can’t acknowledge Don. Is he a reminder of a promise already broken?

The Guardian: When Dennis ignores him later on, you almost wonder if their exchange really happened.
Most reviews I found do not even mention this moment. They were all so preoccupied with the guard, with Don, and with Don's issues, no one notices what is so terribly obvious.

The guard, his wife. There is no baby.

As for Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency - one of the most (literally) painful puns in the history of television - I can hardly share the pertinent details. Suffice to say I woke several times in the middle of the night, rubbing my feet together like a neurotic grasshopper.

What is shocking to me is that this program, Mad Men, which received a great deal of attention at the outset because it featured smoking and drinking and wild office parties, and presented this kind of nostalgia for the good old days when men were men and women were women and no one sued you for being an asshole in the workplace, evolved slowly (but not that slowly) into a rumination on the fragility of human existence.

Even in the midst of an ordinary day, you can die. Someone you love might die. A complete stranger can be horribly maimed, right in front of you. You can put your love hope and trust into another person who will hurt you. You can be vaulted from joy to the deepest sorrow, in a moment, just by moving through the ordinary pathways of life.

I have watched in horror as my wife split her brow, my son's skull was fractured, my daughter's forehead gashed, and I have held a dead baby. Ordinary life fucking scares me.

If moments like the lawnmower incident were commonplace in the storyline, the show would be grotesque. Seeming as it so totally random (except, come on people, don't drink and mow) is to me just one more reminder that these things happen, all the time, and we must be careful.

Temperature: 41°
Climate: cold
Gear: shorts, short-sleeved
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 176.5 lbs.

Running once a week just does not cut it. However, we did have a freak snowstorm on Wednesday night, tree branches fell all around town, numerous just split down the middle or fell over entirely, due to the wet, heavy snow held by leaves which had not yet fallen.

We lost many branches, though the old tree held together. Sidewalks are wet as the snow has melted from them, but many sidewalks are blocked by branches or trunks which our dear city has not yet taken the time to clear.

This is no excuse, though. I do not need to wait until the serious winter snows before resuming upper-body training. The wii is waiting.

Hold It Now, Hit It Playlist
Berzerk - Eminem
Going Back to Cali - LL Cool J
The New Style - The Beastie Boys
Don't Believe The Hype - Public Enemy
Me Myself and I - De La Soul
Pop Goes the Weasel - 3rd Bass
The Message - Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

By the way, I went back to watch that moment in the hallway of the hospital again, that moment between Don and the guard. Such a brief moment, but just before the scene ends, Don understands what happened, you can see it. Brilliant.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fragile but free.

Might I point out that while a Superman workout T-shirt from Under Amour is just the kind of thing I would like to wear when running, it is also not the kind of thing a self-respecting adult would buy for himself. Rather, it is the perfect gift for the running father in your life, either in red with a black logo or perhaps the funky, bright green version with the yellow logo which would perfectly match my shoes.

Temperature: 45°
Climate: cool!
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 174 lbs.

Panting down the homestretch, my children and one of the neighbor's kids come running toward me in slow motion, arms outstretched for a big hug like it's the conclusion of some triumphant family feature.

Good Times Playlist
Everything She Wants - Wham!
Back To Life - Soul II Soul
Something About You - Level 42
Love To Love You Baby - Donna Summer
Smalltown Boy - Bronski Beat
It's My Life - Talk Talk

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I will not accept defeat.

Yes. They cancelled rescheduled the Towpath Marathon due to the Tea Party Government Shutdown. Now, that's a nitpicky complaint, compared to poor being denied food assistance, but it is a handy illustration of  people from all social levels who will remember this entirely pointless and damaging political stunt come November 2014.

Or at least we can hope so.

Temperature: 64°
Climate: cool and humid
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 174.5 lbs.

This, from my INBOX:

How do it know?

Sigh. I do believe if I actually did some kind of cross-training, any cross-training, this wouldn't be an issue. This was an obsession early in the year, when the weather was horrible, but even then I am not sure there was much difference. I would like to return to a 32" waist, and probably could if I drank less, ate less, snacked less, drank less, and did at least a dozen sit-ups a day. As opposed to, you know, none at all.

Even one extra run a week will help. Last year I ran six times in October, the year before that only once. It makes a difference.

Good Times Playlist
Good Times - Chic
The Hustle - Van McCoy
Obsession - Animotion
Into The Groove - Madonna
Finally - Ce Ce Peniston
Sowing The Seeds of Love - Tears For Fears

Stop passing me, you jerks!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

If I get drunk.

It has been a long day, starting last night. Friends from the Heights joined us for a weekend trip to the out-laws -- the fact that this is Homecoming at O.U. was a coincidence, we had actually all been planning to visit Canada for several weeks, but those plans fell through and MP and Chris were all too happy to accomodate.

Long story short, and setting aside some of the more grotesque details, I turned in this morning around 3 AM and more or less failed to fall asleep. I don't do sleeping on the ground very well, cool air, on an incline, slippery sleeping bag, cold feet, and odd, surprising sounds. I gave up around seven and with the exception of a one-hour, late morning nap (which left me entirely delirious) I am more or less running on energy from the night before.

And yet, Andrea was only too kind to lead me through some helpful yoga poses. And yet, we took a half-hour hike through the woods around Wolf Kamp. And yet, we had one of the most satisfying meals at Casa Nueva I have had in years, followed by a leisurely stay in the beer garden at the Skull.

An awesome weekend in one day. They said I was crazy, going out for a run on two beers. It's a shiny, clear evening, mid-60s, lots of alumni walking the bike path in their pawprint T-shirts. I would be crazy not to.

Ohio University Playlist
No Myth (Damascus Mix) - Michael Penn
King For A Day  - XTC

(Stopped to watch the O.U. Marching 110 + Alumni through the fence at Peden Stadium performing Dancing Men.)

The Way You Make Me Feel * - Michael Jackson
The Perfect Girl - The Cure
The New Style - Beastie Boys
True Faith - New Order
Tokyo Storm Warning * - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Groove Is In The Heart - Deee-Lite
Sister Madly * - Crowded House
Poison - Bell Biv DeVoe
Across This Antheap - XTC
I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers
Steppin' To The A.M. - 3rd Bass
Icing Sugar - The Cure

Visited the necessary at the halfway mark, by the Athens Rec Center. Lying on the floor in the stall, a pair of discarded jeans, a plastic Goodwill bag, an empty pack of Newports, and a Goodwill tag marked "32/32".

From this we may deduce:
  1. Someone really needed to get rid of these pants.
  2. They might possibly fit me.
Temperature: 64° → 61° (sunset)
Climate: cool ... and buggy
Distance: 6.75 miles

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Please don't let me hit the ground.

Today was not supposed to be weird.

I was visiting a school downtown, no big thing. A Cleveland public school off West 25th St. I parked and walked along the sidewalk to the front door of the school, fishing out my lanyard, putting it around my neck. I had attended a matinee at the Hanna so I looked better than usual, I had a suit and tie.

Then I heard this woman calling help. I looked across the street, it was this short, old lady. She was looking right at me calling, "Mister! I need your help!"

I was suspicious. I said, "What do you need, ma'am?" She said, "I need help! Please help me!" She didn't look like she needed help, she looked fine. Also, her voice was odd, not very passionate, like a person who really needed any kind of assistance. Just calling, "Help me!" I walked across the street.

"What is happened?" I asked, "What do you need?" Did she think I was deaf, she just answered my question simply, "I need your help!"

Now I am at the door, and she reaches out her hand, so I take it. "My sister has fallen down and she can't get up." She's pulling me into the house, and I do not want to go into a strange house off West 25th Street, but I follow her into a small, cramped front room. Was I going to be jumped by her grandsons?

"She's in there, she fell down." I say, okay, all right, have you called 9-1-1? She had, and I set down my satchel and looked into the room off the dining room, very small dining room, and there is a bed in a very small bedroom, and a lump in mauve, a woman squeezed face-down between the bed and the wall.

Oh, God.

"Help her!" the woman calls, and her sister, on the floor calls, "I can't get up!" So I know she isn't dead, and well, I put my arms under where I think her arms are and lift her up. I have no idea what I am going to see, but I just see the face of an old woman with an oxygen tube up her nose, and then she really starts in.

"Are you the paramedic?" she demands, and I say no, I'm just the guy. She shouts that she can't breathe, and when are they going to get here? Her sister is urging me to get her off the floor and I try. One big herculean effort, like some person who can lift heavy things, but seriously, people.

I do my best. I get her into kneeling position, which must have been awfully uncomfortable, but at least she's not face down on the floor anymore, but we aren't going anywhere. Now what?

Her sister hands me the cordless, and I speak with the 9-1-1 dispatcher. She says they are coming.

"They are coming," I say.

"Why aren't they here?" the large woman in my arms demands.

"Calm down," says the dispatcher.

"Calm down," I repeat, "They're coming."

"And you calm down," the dispatcher tells me. I didn't know I sounded hysterical, but apparently I was. This was stupid. My tie, my lanyard kept falling into the poor woman's face.

"Why aren't they here yet?" she yelled, "I can't breathe."

She was breathing, she wasn't choking, but she was wheezing, it was very difficult for her.

"I am sorry," I said, "They will be here, lean back, against my legs, they will be here."

And they did, they got there. The two paramedics took they're time coming in, I urged one to get her off the floor and he looked at me like I was some kind of asshole for telling him that. They told me to move aside and I did and she just sat there, like I hadn't needed to hold her like that. I just stood around while paramedics and a couple of firemen moved furniture in preparation of getting her out of there. Her sister was in the living room, asking questions that none of them answered. I stood there, in the dining room, not knowing what to do.

Finally, the firemen told me I could go. The sister thanked me for helping. I left, and went to the school, and washed my hands, and tried very hard to watch a scene from Macbeth. I was shaky, pumped with adrenaline and that was unpleasant. I could still smell her, though the smell was not unpleasant.

After class my actors asked if I was staying for the next class and I said no, I had to leave. I told them why, in brief. Andrew said, "Oh man. You should go get ice cream or something."

He was absolutely correct. Which led to another story.

Temperature: 66°
Climate: nice. shiny and nice.
Distance: 3.25 miles

Why Can't I Be You? Playlist
Regret - New Order
Temptation - New Order
Love My Way - The Psychadelic Furs
Add It Up * - Violent Femmes
Girlfriends In a Coma - The Smiths
The Killing Moon - Echo & The Bunnymen

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Made of clay.


Searching for an old VHS cassette, I came across a collection of acting work from school, circa 1988-89. These were scenes which were intentionally videotaped by our professor, some in theater spaces, or even worse, in a room with the camera a few feet away. Performing Shakespeare for the camera.

Good Lord. To think I almost received a degree in acting, it's terrible. It's all terrible, especially the close-up stuff. I mean, I know, you can't look back at your twenty year-old self and have any respect for him, especially when he has chosen a piece from Hamlet when he hasn't actually read the play.

That's the thing, really. Acting when you haven't internalized anything, when there is nothing inside, it's all spewing and emoting. Last week I was adjudicating a Shakespeare recitation competition at a local school, it's like a big coincidence I found that tape this week, so that I could earnestly compare and contrast my own work with that of high school sophomores and juniors.

I think I would have come in fourth or fifth. Out of eight.

Temperature: 70°
Climate: cool, wet, clammy
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 176 lbs.

Oh my, it's all gone damp. Outside.

Charging seems to be the order of the day, I charge. Maybe it's the guitar-heavy soundtrack, but I also think it's that sense of urgency, the need to get onto that next thing.

The last time I felt this way I scored two speeding tickets in the as many weeks. That was March.

Ringfinger Playlist
Valerie Loves Me - Material Issue
I Do Not Want This - Nine Inch Nails
Very Ape  - Nirvana
They Say - Scars on Broadway
Under - Filter
Nearly Lost You - Screaming Trees
Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle - Nirvana

Thursday, October 03, 2013

You move so fast, makes me feel lazy.

So? Now I'm a pirate.

This is not the fall my parents promised. I should complain so much. It's lovely, but surprisingly warm, and will be for the next several days. But I am feeling good, running well, and now I am sporting a fluffy beard which makes me look like one of those old running guys.

Temperature: 79°
Climate: cool but humid
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 173 lbs.

My work has shifted, from a split-focus between education and development, to a split focus between one million education-based programs. I should complain so much. I wanted education, and for my sins, they gave me one.

Exciting plans are afoot, some work-related, others the work-related, and then there's the exhilarating prospect that we will be visiting Athens next weekend! We haven't been since June, or I haven't been, anyway, and I am really looking forward to it.

There will be running.

Somebody That I Used To Know Playlist
Somebody That I Used To Know - Gotye ft. Kimbra
Guns and Horses - Ellie Goulding
Lotus Flower (Jacques Greene Mix) - Radiohead
Fragile Bird - City and Colour
Fences - Phoenix
Run Right Back - The Black Keys
Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend

You wouldn't think that song would inspire iTunes to create such a good running mix.

Monday, September 30, 2013

I'm friends with the President.

I find it almost amazing to believe that I have been running in the clown shoes for over a year. In that time I have suffered no negative effects, to the contrary my feet feel strong and devoid of pain, my knees have not troubled me, my hips and other joints have felt fine and springy. No complaints.

I run fast in these shoes, maybe not as fast as in traditional running shoes, that's my major observation, it seems to take more effort to run in zero drop shoes. But so what? I don't need to get anyplace so fast I have to hurt myself any longer.

Temperature: 66°
Climate: cool and lovely
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 173 lbs.

Cool fall running at dusk. This is most perfect. So many half marathons this season, and not a moment for training. But I am glad to be out now, every other day, the way it should be.

Ringfinger Playlist
Everyday Is Halloween - Ministry
Join In The Chant - Nitzer Ebb
We're A Happy Family - The Ramones
Stone Cold Crazy - Metallica
I Wanna Be a Cowboy - Boys Don't Cry
They Say - Scars on Broadway
In The End - Green Day
Down In It (Shred) - Nine Inch Nails

And now my Millennial children, let us speak of government shutdowns. Those who forget the past, are condemned to repeat it. So totes chillax, brah. We got this.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Before we kick the bucket.

2013: The year Millennials discovered the word "Millennial" a term coined by William Strauss and Neil Howe in 1992 in the groundbreaking work Generations: The History of America's Future.

Nineteen Ninety-Two. You were labeled before you were born. Im'a take your grampa's etymology.

God, you people can't do anything original, can you?

In brief: Twenty years ago these sociologists predicted that the children of the Baby Boom generation would 1) over-praise their children but 2) leave them without a single job.

As Douglas Coupland described Baby Boomer cultural behavior in his novel Generation X (1991) "grabbing the best piece of cake first and then putting a barbed wire fence around the rest."

We know this. We are the generation inbetween the most self-absorbed generation in American history and the second-most self-absorbed generation in American history.

Watching it all unfold after having read the book on it only makes it that much more amusing.

Here's the thing. Before the Baby Boomers called you hipsters, they called us slackers. And they called us lazy and useless and we did that without social media. They also called us stupid. So, you know. Stop complaining about your gold-plated education.

But hey, they're not my parents.

This video might be funny.
But I can't hear it over all the whining.

2013 Playlist
The Fox - Ylvis
Royals (170 bpm) - Lorde
Walk Us Downtown - Elvis Costello & The Roots
Bezerk - Eminem
Clarity - Zedd
Mirrors (155 bpm) - Justin Timerlake
Blow Me (One Last Kiss)  - Pink
I Love It - Icona Pop
Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke

Temperature: 72°
Climate: bright and sunny
Distance: 4 miles
Weight: 174 lbs.

DANGER: Feels like a tiny piece of glass in my big left toe. Could be:
  1. Tiny piece of glass.
  2. That other thing I really don't want to think about.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In your imagination you're a thousand miles away.

Now that's how you make blood, children.

It is easy to reach back twenty or thirty years, and find some solitary moment or building to focus upon, to tell a little story. Ten years is more challenging. So much has changed ... but not so much. I occupy the same space, I am merely older.

Even at thirty-five, I do not feel I had a clear idea of who I am. But I worked for the same company, as an actor-teacher for the school residency program. I was an actor, and a teacher. I had a new play I had written about my wife and my experiences with stillbirth. That was new. I took it to Minnesota, by fall I was being asked to perform the work for nurses and midwives and doctors, a journey that would continue for several years.

I started my first blog ten years ago.

We had a girl, a baby girl. She could push herself onto her knees by August. All was new again, fresh and new.

How could that have been ten years ago, already? Where did that time go? And do I have a clear idea of who I am yet? And will I ever?

Temperature: 63°
Climate: coolish
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 174.5 lbs.

Okay, here's an interesting piece of running-related information ... for the longest time, my left toenail was very sensitive. Like, if one of the children accidentally stepped on my big toe, it would really hurt and I would be all crabby-daddy and shit.

I had cut back my toenail, to try and relieve pressure on the nail bed, but often that just made the problem worse. I had gotten used to (but by no means any happier with) the idea that my big toe would always be sore. Never asked anyone what to do about it, never thought deeper about the problem.

Then I realized or noticed that the nail bed itself was the problem, not the nail. The nail bed was deeply calloused. As you may be aware, pressure on a callous can cause pain, especially in a sensitive area, like a toe.

What to do? I got OTC callous-removing medicine -- salicylic acid. You realize, of course, this is the same stuff which is the main ingredient in everything for skin problems, not just for callouses but also for warts. It just dissolves skin, that's what it does.

I used this stuff to carefully dissolve the callous on my nail bed. After a few days, however, I noticed that the surrounding skin appeared to be necrotized -- it was gray and not sensitive to the touch, so I discontinued use. But soon the callous detached, I used a brush to gently clean most of it away, and the surrounding flesh regained health.

And now my toe doesn't hurt anymore. I am not a doctor, I do not recommend this treatment. But I will try some dangerous shit.

2003 Playlist
Sunrise - Simple Red
The District Sleeps Tonight - The Postal Service
Never Coming Home (Gonna Live My Life Remix) - Sting
Boombox (160 bpm)  - Mosquitos
Transatlanticism  - Death Cab For Cutie
Extraordinary - Liz Phair
Go Brown - Kaada

Crazy-ass guy at the bus stop near my home tonight, screaming into his cellphone, "I swear to God I am going to shoot somebody!" I hear him yell it as I ran past. Crazy-ass guy.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Stumble in my footsteps.

Google Maps Street View vs. The City of Cleveland Heights
Heights Wins!

On October 1, 2013 I will have legally owned this house for twenty years. I didn't even find it, that would be my ex-wife who saw it in the Home section of the Plain Dealer (back when they covered more than Sports) but in the end I was the one who wouldn't leave.

The place has had its ups and down. The kitchen it better, the deck is worse, and someday soon either we will tear down the garage or it will collapse. Our bedroom is now our daughter's and all the better for it, it's a lovely girl's room ... and hopefully the rest of us will have a place to sleep before Christmas.

I love this house. I have my ex-wife to thank for this.

I know twenty-five year-old morons, and yet when I was twenty-five I acquired a mortgage, how stupid was that? Security and baggage, a sense of permanence and doubt. I have often imagined what it would have been like not to be anchored with this. But I am very attached to this place. And I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. At least, not in the United States.

Seriously. I said that. This is the best city in America.

1993 Playlist
Walking In My Shoes - Depeche Mode
Streets of Philadelphia - Bruce Springtseen
Lonely Planet - The The
My Sister - Juliana Hatfield Three
Sunflower - Paul Weller
Connected - Stereo MCs

Wow. That playlist is pretty incredible.

Temperature: 59°
Climate: cool, still humid
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 176.5 lbs.

Congratulations to you, Mrs. L. ... Best wishes to you on this beautiful day, I am so glad you have found this wonderful happiness.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The pain that grows dark.

I want to go to cool places with you.

Thirty years ago I had a life-altering experience. Summer 1983 was spent washing dishes and cleaning up at a local diner, hanging around the comic books store, and watching as much MTV as possible, for fear I might miss something important.

August meant marching band practice, and pool night that summer, the summer before my sophomore year, was much like the year before. I was with the exact same people -- my friends -- cannonballing, splashing, pushing people in. Horseplay. I was fifteen and still acting like a kid.

Maybe an hour into the festivities, one particular crew walked in late, and to me it was like one of those slow-motion moments when that cool gang walks down the street. In this case the soundtrack would probably be Robert Plant's Big Log.

In the lead was the lead snare, with him that trumpet player -- both now seniors and always wearing shades. One Rockette from my grade, her boyfriend, also trumpet and a senior, and the new girl, the tall one from Kansas, also a sophomore, the cymbal player.

Only tonight she was wearing a white two-piece. No one wore bikinis in Bay Village in 1983.

I was fucking blinded. I mean, brain-blinded. It's like some one slapped me in the face, trying to wake me up. You spent the summer in front of the TV, you're a teenager for God's sake, get busy!

It wasn't just the bikini, it was the entire picture. Jumping off the high drive screaming like an asshole suddenly didn't interest me anymore. Keeping my eye on them, I made sure to notice when they were making to leave, and when the snare drummer picked up his stuff, I ran up and asked if he was headed out.

When he said yes, I got down onto my knees and begged, "Wherever you all are going, please take me with you."

He raised his eyebrows and smiled. "No problem, guy."

Temperature: 75°
Climate: cool breeze, but humid
Distance: 5.15 miles
Weight: 170.5 lbs.

Since Saturday I have had a sinus headache, every single day. Last night it was a full-blown migraine, covering the left half of my face, in my ear, my jaw, across to my nose, up and through my eye to the crown of my head. Horrible. It's been a long time, over-the-counter sinus medication has taken care of most attacks since I decide to cover them that way. But not Monday. Not yesterday.

Today it started after sitting in front of the screen at work for two hours, and the rehearsal hall does not help either, filter light and filtered air. They let me go early from work as the pain began to work its way from behind my right ear.  It has subsided a bit, and now, hopefully, some aerobic work will help clear my head.

1983 Playlist
Big Log - Robert Plant
Work That Skirt - The B-52s
I Will Follow - U2
Everyday People - Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Come Dancing - The Kinks
Catapult - R.E.M.
What Difference Does It Make? (161 bpm) - The Smiths
Cool Places (159 bpm) - Sparks
Overkill - Men At Work
The Invisible Man - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Song For A Future Generation - The B-52s

... aaaaand my headache is gone. POOOF.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

You better run.


I remember running.

Sometimes, September is hard. I mean, it isn't, normally. I usually get in ten or more runs during the month of September, including last year. It's the best time of year to run.

But the girl's room has not yet been finished. There is only so much time in a day and after dinner, spending an hour or ninety minutes laying coats of primer and semi-gloss on the trim made for long evenings this week, indeed.

The wife's new job requires her to leave the house at seven. Packing lunches and making breakfast is entirely my responsibility, and one I have been handling just fine. But unless I get up at five am, there is no morning time for a run.

However, there is great joy in building this new bedroom for the girl. I wasn't aware it was eventually going to cost around $1,500 (paint, tools, bed, furnishings) but I look at it this way. This room doesn't get redone until at least 2021.

Temperature: 52°
Climate: cool
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 175.5 lbs.

Then there is the high level of snacking that goes on in rehearsal. I feel pregnant. And yet I haven't gained a pound. Okay.

Ringfinger Playlist
Ringfinger - Nine Inch Nails 
Run Like Hell - Pink Floyd
Sin - Nine Inch Nails
Local God - Everclear
Scoff - Nirvana
Hey Man, Nice Shot (1/4 Pound) - Filter 

Last week I guy I knew in college posted, "nine inch nails' pretty hate machine goes surprising well with arthur miller's the crucible." 

These things are true.

While I can comprehend that I have owned this house for twenty years, I find it challenging to stomach the fact that next year that album will be twenty-five years-old.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Too tired for having fun.

September is hard. This year in particular, as we are camped out on an air mattress in the living room for the duration. Until our bed is set up in our new bedroom, sleep here we must. Until the girl's bedroom is finished, we will never set up our bed in our new bedroom.

James and Eva came over on Tuesday to sand the floor, but my schedule has been prohibitive. Our schedules have been prohibitive.

My wife began a new teaching job, so I am taking care of all morning preparation -- breakfast, lunches, transportation. Then nine hours of residency rehearsals, then surviving until bed, we all managing musical lessons, soccer games and dinner. That's fall.

And just in time, seasonal sinus attacks kick in and that makes my head hurt.

Man. I feel like I've gained ten pounds since returning from New York. I wish there were some way of measuring that.

Temperature: 70°
Climate: cool & overcast
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 175.5 lbs.

That was glorious, cool, early fall run. My head is clear, I am in good spirits, and ready to stain the floor.

I mean, literally. I have to put stain on a wooden floor.

We move into the perfect days of running, cool and crisp, not sweaty and muggy. If I can keep it together, this could be a productive season.

Eric Coble's The Velocity of Autumn is currently in previews at Arena Stage. I remember eighteen months ago when we began rehearsal for that play at Beck Center. The tour of Styles had just opened, when we began rehearsals for Velocity. I was also in training for the 2012 CLE Marathon.

One day in late March I ran twenty miles, and that evening I had a performance. These things can be done. Move forward.

Middle School Playlist
September - Earth Wind & Fire
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
Generals and Majors - XTC
Ah! Leah! - Donnie Iris
Driven To Tears - The Police
Working In a Coal Mine - Devo
Can You Feel It - The Jacksons
Dream Police - Cheap Trick

UPDATE: Was reminded that it was five years ago TODAY that I received "Left knee arthroscopy and partial lateral menisectomy and meniscus repair." At that time I had doubts I would ever be able to run again. And yet, here we are. Forward, indeed.

Monday, September 02, 2013

I've got the goods.

Labor Day has been spent joyfully painting my daughter's new bedroom. Special attention has been paid to carefully -- but thickly -- applying black oil paint to the casement windows. My wife has ordered me to go outside, get fresh air and to go see beyond the middle distance.

I will going running for the second time in one day.

Temperature: 79°
Climate: nice!
Distance: 2 miles

Middle School Playlist
Super Freak - Rick James
Homosapien - Pete Shelley
DJ - David Bowie
Throw It Away - Joe Jackson
Making It - David Naughton
Plastic Passion (168 bpm)  - The Cure

I feel like an accident.

 Have the lambs stopped screaming?

Running late, going to bed right after. It puts me into a deep, deep sleep ... but one troubled by fast, dark thoughts of being out on the street, somewhere. Much more likely to give me dreams that take place at night, outside. Not scary, but surprisingly mind-bright and active. Waking is almost impossible, and lingering images linger.

Having said that, Friday was an extremely productive and positive day, charged with energy and mental action, even if I also felt somewhat lost and vacant. Does that make sense? Does it matter?

Temperature: 72°
Climate: muggy. sunny!
Distance: 3.25 miles

A three-day weekend with only one run, that is odd, and I would say unfortunate. Only these three days have been spent ripping up and remodeling the "master" bedroom ... we promised the girl her own room for fifth grade. She and the boy have co-habited since he moved out of our room. On Memorial Day weekend in 2009 their room was given a once-over which included a bunkbed and a fresh coat of paint.

Our room has been repainted a few times, though the crappy shag carpeting has remained -- until yesterday. God, what a disgusting mat. Underneath was newspaper from 1976. Seventies-era, chocolate brown shag, wall-to-wall carpeting. This was long overdue.

Middle School Playlist
Another Journey By Train - The Cure
C30, C60, C90, Go - Bow Wow Wow
Crosseyed and Painless - Talking Heads
Life Begins at the Hop - XTC
International Jet Set - The Specials
Sat In Your Lap -  Kate Bush
Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On) - Spandau Ballet
Cleveland Rocks - Ian Hunter

The bunion on my right foot has been acting up, it feels more extreme, a bit more bent, sore, the area tingly. I have not worn a toe-separator - which for all appearances works successfully at keeping it in check - for some time, not since I began using zero drop shoes. An experiment, perhaps.

On December 7, 1980 I broke my right leg. It was a minor, hairline fracture. I treated myself like an invalid (the pain!) and no one stopped me. There was no physical therapy after, just some words of advice. "Walk normal." My right ankle stiff from disuse, I began to walk by turning my right foot out. It wasn't until movement classes in college that this was pointed out to me. I try, I try very hard to "walk normal" and even more importantly to run normal. Any photograph of me running shows how much I fail at this.

I can balance on my left leg, but not my right. And there is this bending of my right toe, which may have happened anyway, but that it occurred, suddenly, during my first, serious intensive training for a marathon should, in hindsight, not be a surprise, even if it was at the time.

Middle school. Some of the worst years of my life, some of the best years of pop music in all recorded history.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Four, five meters running round the bend.

You're number one, Louie.

Okay, so? I finally started watching Louie on Netflix. I have heard Louis CK on radio and in TV interviews, heard little bits of the show on Fresh Air. He's hilarious, I know that. I just don't get to watch that much TV.

People have told me on occasion I look like him, which doesn't bother me. It's odd, I don't look like him, but whatever, it's better than when they were telling me I look like Chris Elliott.

But do they also mean I have Louis CK's attitude? Not that I am funny like he is, but is that my vibe? That wouldn't bother me, either. But is that it? Anyway, it's a question.

Temperature: 73°
Climate: humid, but slightly cooler
Distance: 3.25 miles

Him: You know I run for you all, right?
Her: Oh yes, we know that.
Him: Good.

Summer 2013 Playlist
Blow Me - Pink
Clarity - Zedd ft. Foxes
Can't Hold Us - Macklemore ft. Ray Dalton
Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell & T-Pain
Get Lucky - Daft Punk ft. Pharrell
I Will Wait - Mumford & Sons
Diane Young (180 bpm) - Vampire Weekend

Charging down the street, the homestretch -- and the darkest part of the journey. Three houses from home, I hit a dip, and almost lose it. What would that feel like, smashing my knees and palms against the pavement, tearing skin, cracking bone, probably hitting my face against the street.

How fast am I running when I meet 180 beats per minute? Be more careful, asshole.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Your perfect verse is just a lie.

It was the left knee.

We move forward, slowly. I feel as though I have been locked into one state for the past seven months, focused on one single task. And now I open my eyes and see so many wonderful opportunities lay before me.

And children. I see children.

I believe the pain in my left knee was some freak thing, but it's exactly the kind of thing I worry about. It has been five years since my operation, and I have been running full-steam since then. But for almost half a year I was deep in the doubt I would ever run again, and that was very, very challenging for me. I worry about what will happen to my brain if I am ever taken off the road.

Speaking of which, my new running gear is all black. Not the best choice for a before-dawn run.

Temperature: 75°
Climate: light rain
Distance: 3.25 miles

That was difficult. Getting up was difficult, getting out was difficult, the run itself was difficult, deciding what to write was difficult. And I really do not like using the word 'difficult'.

Underground Playlist
Selfless, Cold and Composed - University A Capella
Clark Gable - The Postal Service
Message To My Girl - Split Enz
One - Aimee Mann
Better Be Home Soon - Crowded House
Baby's Got Sauce - G. Love & Special Sauce
Jane - Barenaked Ladies

Difficult. Difficult. Difficult. Difficult.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I am slowing down as the years go by.

My neighborhood. My life.

Yesterday was the annual block party. Our fifth, so much has changed since 2009. 

The block party marks the end of summer.

A summer we were subsumed by rain at a minor league soccer game and hid in the bathroom.

When the boy finally got a proper-sized mitt.

We toasted Eric Coble at Dobama, staged testimony in support of marriage equality at the Play House.

Met a new school principal, held a yard sale, went swimming.

Ran races in Bay Village and Friendship.

The girl grew two feet taller.

My wife got a new job, and in a way so have I.

Friends were married, new plays were begun. 

We drove to Connecticut, Maine, Salem. I drove to New York and put on a show.

And then, the block party. One season. Excuse me, there is something in my eye.

Meanwhile, my son sings the chorus to Summertime Sadness under his breath. That's just weird.

Temperature: 77°
Climate: humid & dark
Distance: 3.25 miles

Never Let Me Down Playlist
Cuts You Up - Peter Murphy
Hold Back The Rain - Duran Duran
Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before - The Smiths
Sinking - The Cure
Perfect Kiss - New Order
So Alive - Love and Rockets