Monthly Archives: October 2009

Capriquarius… And My Name Is Arthur

Mike Tyson (from the documentary “Tyson”) on what he looks for in a woman:

“What I want in a woman is protection, loyalty, companionship. Loyalty, friendship, companionship, ferociousness… I wanted her to protect me and have my back to the bitter end. If I have a fight, I want her to jump in. Even if I’m winning. Even if she’s 90 pounds. I like strong women, not necessarily a masculine woman. I like strong women, I like… say a woman that runs a CEO corporation. I like a strong woman with confidence, massive confidence, and then I wanna dominate her sexually. I like to watch her, like a tiger watches their prey after they wound them. I want her to remember me. I want her, in a bizarre way, I want her to love me. And watch them and just watch them… I want her to keep her distance for at least 20 to 30 minutes before I devour them. And take them to the point of ecstasy. I love saying no all the time. While I’m making love, I love saying no. When they ask for it, I say no. What I want is extreme. Always a no. Normally what they want is not as extreme as what I want. Always a no. So I may give them a little, but they have to give me a lot. Whatever they want. “Turn me around.” “No.” I don’t like being loved, I liked loving. I don’t feel like being loved, I don’t like love. I like… I have too much love to give and none to accept. I’ll turn around when I wanna turn around. “No.” That’s what I want. I want to ravish them. Completely.”

My Purple Tongue Part Two

My Halloween costume this year (hint: you are what you eat) …

Purple grape nerd 3rdarm

A Michael Jackson Xmas

LEDs and painters tape

Winter preparedness checklist:

Apartment… 100 degrees and climbing.
Car… 4 new tires.
Time… this Sunday, clocks fall back one hour.
Xmas lights… are up.
Xmas music… I downloaded the Phil Spector and Bob Dylan albums. I heard Frank Sinatra has a good Xmas album. Open to suggestions.
Rubber shirt… my sister bought me a rubber shirt. For winter hiking.
Winter jacket… The other day I read an email from L.L.Bean on my blackberry when I woke up. The title was, “Warmest Jacket Ever.” Half a can of warm Diet Coke and twenty minutes later, it was on the way.
Full body duck down sleeping bag suit… any day now.

I need to buy a shovel before its too late.

the long tail of the imac

I saw the Michael Jackson documentary This Is it, and I was blown away. Following are some excerpts from Jared Mobarak’s film review, A Little More Booty

“Everyone wants to see the man that was Michael Jackson. The American public went crazy whenever he agreed to do an interview on television, either from the need to hear him talk or morbid curiosity. But all those appearances were in some regards staged or overly saturated by the media, showing more of the myth than the man himself. What makes Kenny Ortega’s film better than all that is the fact we are seeing Jackson as he didn’t want the public to see him, as the artist he was.

What we’ve never seen, and what makes this film worth a glimpse, is Michael creating. He says at the end that no one should be nervous; they are doing something for the people. He wanted to bring his audience into a world they’ve never seen with escapism through sound and visuals. This show looked absolutely killer.

Not only was Jackson in shape and ready to take on the world, he was as sharp and as good as ever. No one can say that this guy was going to die before taking the stage; he was jumping and grooving, and kicking like never before. During a rehearsal for “Beat It” he does his whole routine, stomping on the floor, going to his back to kick up his legs, and to his stomach to stomp some more. When a cue goes wrong, he gets up, says what he wants done differently, and when the musician says ok, we don’t have to do it again, Michael tells Ortega to take it from the first jump and does it all once more. A perfectionist for sure, Jackson put his entire being in this reunion/goodbye tour. He wanted to leave nothing behind or hold anything back. Saving his voice for the real tour, his performances here oftentimes miss words or consist of very soft vocals, but when he sees the dancers off stage watching, clapping, and smiling, sometimes he goes all out and brings the house down. He says afterwards that he can’t do that anymore, that they shouldn’t egg him on like that, but you know he loved every minute of it.”

My Purple Tongue

shake my paw

The ratio of grape to strawberry Nerds in my latest bag is ridiculous, like 4 boxes of grape for every 1 box of strawberry. This may be the reason my sleep wake schedule has been so out of wack this week. I am dwelling on it. The ratio is killing me. Some nights I eat only grape Nerds, and my tongue is completely purple after. I have been trying to sleep with a purple tongue, and it doesn’t work. I roll around in bed trying to have sweet dreams, and eventually I give up and put on headphones and make mixes. I call my latest mix, “My Purple Tongue,” or “The Possibility That the Nerd Factory Is Unloading A Bunch Of Crap Grape On Me.”

I know you disco rider

I got audited and owe the IRS money. It pains me that on the very same day, I got a notice from Social Security that breaks down my yearly earnings, and how much I have paid in life-to-date. According to the Social Security department, my income was around twenty grand as a dishwasher, twenty five grand as a busboy, and thirty grand as a waiter. The fix is in. The taxman smells something fishy. I am distraught. My plan is to first ask my attorney if there is any way that my sister is really at fault, a common mix-up. And then I will pay. I wish I could pay back the government in boxes of grape Nerds.

MEANWHILE, AT THE NERDS FACTORY: I’m concerned the robot arm that diverts the pink strawberry Nerds into the plastic bags is jammed, and they are sailing into the abyss!

One Day of Indian Summer

My building changing colors

The temperature is in the 70s. It helped break my late waking cycle. I’m back! I have to run, or actually bike, to my car, which just got four new tires. Then drive back and then bike to work and do work. Its a process. I did my laundry. Out of 50 gigabytes of digital music, I only had one Beatles album; Please Please Me. A few nights ago I broke down and downloaded the John Lennon anthology of home recordings released by Yoko in the late 90s. Daniel Johnson made me do it. This opened the floodgates, and in a bout of bad OCD decision making in the late night hours, I decided I NEEDED to download all the tracks from the Get Back sessions, 17 cds of continuous recording, spanning the final 30 days of the Beatles group career. Having this treasure has made me none the wiser.

There Goes The Fear

Fear No Art on the back wall of Ryles in Inman Square

My sleep wake cycle was thrown out of gear by a multiple act zombie dream. The problem was not fear; my dream zombies were not very scary. These zombies were like the men performing feats of strength during Festivus; they uprooted trees and telephone poles to attack me with, but the weight of their weapon slowed them down considerably, and I was always able to escape easily. Plus i had a helicopter. The problem with the epic dreaming was that I had to keep going back to sleep to find out what happened, and the process shifted my sleep wake cycle by three hours. This combined with skies that darken sooner every night is my problem.

The first snow falls from the sky

Sunday it snowed for the first time. Large wet flakes that pancaked into puddles upon impact. It kept transmogrifying into hale. I rode my bike in the shit. It was barely light out, and I rode to the movie theater in Harvard Square to watch Where the Wild Things Are. I haven’t heard so many grownups sniffle / sob at a film since Saving Private Ryan. The themes of childhood were lost on the actual children in attendance. When the lights came up, some kids had clearly been shocked beyond emotion, traumatized, by the arm-ripping James Gandolfini-voiced monster named Carol who chases Max trying to eat him. A small one bleated out like a forlorn baby llama, “Mama, can we go home now?” Everyone had a good laugh.

Hey Joe

Last Thursday I went to the Daniel Johnston concert with Eliot and his dad Joe. We ate frog legs at Mu Que Ca and made our way over to the Paradise in the rain. First thing at the venue, we all had to use the restroom. I was ahead of those two, and made a beeline for the empty stall. Daniel Johnston was in the stall next to mine… and neither one of us washed our hands afterwords. A minute later he was lost in the Paradise, wandering around until his people could help him get backstage. The set was full of classic D.J. songs, and eventually it turned into a John Lennon love fest with Daniel singing Isolation, Jealous Guy, Hide Your Love Away, I’m So Tired, and A Day in the Life.

The whole concert is up on YouTube, but this was my favorite song of the night. Thank you to that guy in the next stall over.

Hey Joe – Hi How Are You (1983)

Hey Jude, come on, Joe
Don’t make that sad song
Any sadder than it already is

Hey Jack, get back
Get yourself together
Come on, come on

I know you’re thinking of your nervous love
I know exactly what you’re thinking of

Hey Sid, no matter what you did
It can work out, work out
No matter how you feel right now

Hey George, do your chores
Don’t feel sore
I know it’s a lot more than just being poor

There’s a heaven and there’s a star for you
There’s a heaven and there’s a star for you
There’s a heaven and there’s a star for you

Running As Euphemism

Ask the Penguin’s column on Runner’s World featured a great Q&A session this week. A reader named Mary wrote in and asked a question that cuts to the heart of my identity as an athlete:

“Dear John, I’d like your honest opinion about something, not the “politically correct” answer. How slowly do you think it is possible to actually “run” by the accepted definition of running? Although I know there are extreme possibilities, I am talking about the most likely scenario for an average person. To be more specific, do you think it is possible that a person can “run” a 20-minute mile? If so, have you ever actually witnessed someone running that slowly with both feet coming off the ground?”

I am a very slow runner. In the marathon last weekend I averaged thirteen minute miles. This didn’t surprise me at all, I train at that pace. I was able to tell Eliot (who made the wonderful video) where I would be hours in advance because my slowness is consistent. There were no surprises. Actually, I was surprised by the video. It looks like everyone around me is moving so slow. I guess I hadn’t planned on being surrounded by the elderly and relatively out of shape. They became my homies, my people, even though they didn’t talk to me. That seventy plus year old man never quit.

John (the Penguin) replied: “First, a little history. If you go back to the late 1970s or early ’80s, most of the training books talked about running as a 7-minute-per-mile pace or better. Anything slower was considered jogging. So, joggers were all of those who didn’t run at a 7-minute pace. Runners knew who they were by their pace.

Somewhere, as the first signs of the second running boom began to appear, running came to be defined as anything faster than a 9-minute pace. Again, joggers were defined as those who went slower than that. And, again, runners defined themselves by their pace and finish times.

About 10 years ago, however, runners stopped being defined by their times and were instead defined by their activity. So, runners ran. Walkers walked. Cyclists cycled. Triathletes triathaleted. You get the idea.

These days, I don’t think anyone can define anyone else by any objective criteria.”

Running is my struggle to keep moving forward. By taking up that cause, I am the runner.

Peak Foliage

Electric eel at fresh pond

For the sake of clarity, let me start by saying I know its not peak foliage time in Massachusetts, not yet. It may be in Connecticut, especially down by New Haven where my aunt lives. Fresh Pond, however, was way green. The title of this post refers not to the leaves on the trees, but to XXL yellow flannel shirt I have started wearing as a fall jacket. That’s peak foliage for sure… Its started to get cold out this week. The heat in my building has started flowing, and the beating heart must be somewhere very close to my little apartment in the basement. The temperature peaks sometime after midnight, in the low 100s. Like a lizard stoned on a heat rock, I love it.

The new Monday host

I’m listening to the Bob Dylan Christmas album a lot, and I hate Christmas. I love the album, Christmas in the Heart. Its a paradox. I plan on installing strings of colored lights in my basement abode, not for religious reasons… just for cheer. The idea is that the ambient luminescence will help compensate for the lack of direct sun this time of year. With the lights, the Dylan tunes, and the heat down under, I’m going for a “Christmas in Australia” theme.

2,129th Place

Stonycreek sunset the day after

It may have been the knowing that I wasn’t really ready, that I wasn’t properly trained, that kept me from sleeping the night before the big race. Thousands of thoughts and memories floated past like flotillas on a river between me and the far shore of dreams. I kept calm because honestly I didn’t expect to get any sleep… aside from the excavations of old buried dreams and random memories, my mind kept coming back to what I didn’t know about the marathon that next morning.

The weatherman said it would either rain, or be sunny, or partly cloudy. I was either going to be running alone, or with my dad, either way in a crowd of strangers. The idea that I was going to be running with my dad loomed large the past couple weeks. He is a faster and more experienced runner than I am, but has not completed a marathon since 2004. Periodically during the weeks I spent training we corresponded by phone or email, and he answered my questions and allayed my anxieties.

With Aunty at the Place

Early Saturday morning (5AM) I was organized and I ate my bananas. I kissed my aunt goodbye, got in my car and drove to Hartford. The sun came up, and I arrived at the starting line. I walked through the thousands of runners and their families, but I couldn’t find my dad. I realized how silly it was that we hadn’t coordinated a place to meet. He was nowhere to be found. I settled in amongst the 5 hours thirty minutes pacers, and the race began.

I would be running it alone. The drawbacks were that I had left my iPod in the car, because I planned to talk with my dad, or maybe the strangers I met on the road. I soon found out that the Hartford Marathon is not the New York City Marathon… at my pace, ten miles in I was completely alone out on the roads. A stray runner would pass by every few minutes, not saying a word. Compared to my training runs, the boredom was crushing. I tried to take in the scenery and enjoy with my eyes instead of my ears.

Walking into the sunset on jelly legs

In South Windsor I ran streets I had been bussed down during field trips in elementary school, past Crystal’s driveway where I bought my first bag of pot, the old Post Office, and finally to the turnaround point, the eleventh mile. At the eleventh mile I came to the Ellsworth Gymnasium where my mom had enrolled me in “Fun and Fitness,” in lieu of pre-school, and where I made my first friends. Eliot and his dad Joseph were waiting for me there. I was so happy to see them.

Some runners experience what is known as “hitting the wall.” Around 18 or 20 miles in their body burns through all its glycogen and switches to stored fat for energy, which does not burn as smoothly, causing running to become more difficult. I did not experience anything quite like that. My wall was mental, Pink Floyd (mother did it have to be so high?) meets the Scream by Edvard Munch, and it hit early, around the halfway point. I was bored out of my skull, my sinuses ached, my stomach wouldn’t settle. I considered dropping out of the race.

The part of me that wanted to quit, the part of me that I associate with walking away from cross country in high school, with dropping out of college, with turning to drugs and alcohol instead of experiencing emotions… I left that part of me by the side of road. For the next three hours I listened to my breathing and instead of looking at the road ahead, I put my head down and focused on the ground passing by my feet. I drank water every mile, ate goo every four miles, and pushed.

By the twenty third mile the course was winding through the park where Billy Joel shot the video for “River of Dreams.” I ran out of gas and walked up and down a hill. My legs were stiffening up. The sweat on my shirt was drying into white rings. A volunteer got me to jog to the next water station, about fifty feet. On the way, she mentioned that it was two and a half miles to the finish. I instantly thought of Fresh Pond, in Cambridge, where I had started running again this past spring, on the 2.4 mile track.

I know exactly how long 2.4 miles are, and I took off. A cranky woman shouted at me as I passed, “You take the lead for now! Enjoy it… you’ll fade soon!” I said nothing back to her. I started sweating again; I was flying. I didn’t see the Connecticut river, or the other runners. I saw the golf course, and dog walkers with their labradoodles. I was back in Cambridge, going around the reservoir. Each step brought me closer not just to the finish, but to the beginning.