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.