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.