There are so many intelligent and articulate people covering the hard-hitting
issues in our country these days, that I felt it was my duty to cover the
rather inconsequential bullshit that tends to make up the vast majority of
our lives. Actually, I'll just be griping a lot which, if you weren't aware,
doubles as a synonym for complaining, and as a descriptor for
a sharp pain in the bowels.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

March[ing] on to April

Well I just made it on the old self-imposed quota here of four posts a month. It also gives me breathing room not to concoct an April Fool's joke. My regular content borders on the jokeline and seriousness to begin with, so I don't feel any particular need to joke it up extra hard tomorrow. Just as I am not any sweeter on Valentine's Day, any more expectant of winter ending on Groundhog Day (seriously, why is it still pretty damn cold), and any more likely to give gifts on Christmas (I'm vaguely a Jew).

I found myself viewing a rather choice Hallmark Channel film entitled "Chasing a Dream," during a somewhat insomniac-ish evening not long ago after catching wind of the existence of said film on a running forum. You can check it out here. It's about 90 minutes, and I certainly watched close to the whole thing, skipping some middle bits. It offended me as both a runner and a human, and as writer even, but I did keep watching. Blame accepted.

The vague outline is a chubby football-playing teenager's quest to run under 4 minutes in the mile, as a high schooler. He is doing this to fulfill the dream his childhood friend had. His childhood friend who trained hard and is at least lithe in build. And who dies running home from a party he didn't want to be at, dragged there by CFB (chubby football player). The football player is a Lawrence child, as in Joey and Matthew Lawrence. Tubbly and unathletic in movement, he'd be as hard to believe as a credible football player as he is as a runner. With no prior running experience, Lawrence takes off on short-legged sprints with looks of anguish on his face with every step. As someone who wasn't far under 4:20 in the mile, and never made faces like that, I found this, to use the word at least once more, offensive. With no disrespect to the Special Olympics, he looks more qualified to participate in those. Here is the part where I say I am allowed to say that because I have been called a retard while running.

The rest of the film fits the complete lack of research and realism brought to the film. When Lawrence is DQ'ed from the state sectional for knocking his top competitor — who has a poorly contrived African name — to the track, his competitor pleads for Lawrence to be re-instated by sending a fax to the state athletic board. What? This, yes, is set, in 2011. Earlier, there is a high school party scene where attendees jam out to a boombox, one that I don't even think has CD capability. That's not a knock, those things are just hard to come by, especially in the ritzy southern California area portrayed. There are also an awful lot of shots of New Balance sneakers, and when Lawrence races, he does so in shitty flats, not even a pair of spikes. At least his African opponent looks like he can run (in a way more normal fashion than I do when running, that's for damn sure), strange as it is to see his smooth gait confronted by the clodding disabled person that Lawrence portrays. Take it from my own style that it doesn't always look pretty, but there is a limit to the believability.

Spoiler alert: they set up a special race and Lawrence loses to the African but they both break 4! Argh, if only I had played football all of high school and then stepped onto the track, sprinting stiff-legged with a look as if I need to crap my pants, I'd have beaten Alan Webb to becoming the 4th high-schooler to break 4 minutes! New Balance kicks and the boombox were sure to be essential as well. But featuring a heartfelt theme using recycled Everwood cast members, it is what it is! Yes, it was a complete mockery of the sport I love, but everything about it was so preposterous that amusement superceded true anger.

In lighter news, I think this children's choir cat duet would make for a wonderful improv warm-up game. On second thought, though, I think it's great as is. Legitimately performed at a church.

Next, I've got an oldie but a goodie, oldie to me only as I stumbled upon it recently. In general I find British news, tabloid, and real, more fun to read. So check out this dude fathering kids and working the system. It really is a tremendous read.

And last but not least, a little news from the tennis world or, at least, in the tennis world it constitutes news. I am a tennis fan, no question, but it's amazing how in need of a story news sources can find themselves. So in need that they might post as news something about a news story that shows how in need of news something is...This article (and ABC News) alleges a frustrated David Ferrer lobbed a ball into the stands to quiet a crying baby. There's all sorts of things wrong with this situation, but I'm ignoring all of them to say that there are, as I type this, over 6,000 comments on the article. Over 6,000. I can't say if all of them are tennis fans. But let's just imagine that they are, and think of the people who watch tennis. It's generally the more affluent, just like the people who play the sport. The same people clamoring for Groupons and writing reviews on Yelp. The kind of people who produce self-masturbatory internet content thinking that their opinions...oh wait a minute...

Carry on folks, carry on. Stay safe out there.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Music for the Reign of Rain

Well mf's, it's raining out, at least it is here in Chicago. I don't know if that's why I'm in quite a mood for some fresh (actually they're really old, but the sound is fresh if you catch my drift — speaking of which, there are rumors of snow later in the week, whaaaaaaaaaat), but at any rate I am. At any rate has been my phrase of choice for a while now. There is a name for those phrases and modifiers that maintain the flow of writing, specifically boring writing. Looking back, all of those standard essay paragraph beginners (since I can't remember the name of the thing that they really are — my brain is not firing on all cylinders here) are quite horrendous. However, moreover, furthermore, this has the effect of, and in conclusion I don't think formal writing has to be boring, but so often it is. If you find my regular posts, boring, beware, the following is me gushing over some dope classical celloness.

Classical jams though. I believe most of you will find yourself familiar with Bach's Cello Suite No. 1, consciously or not. What I am linking then are several of the greatest cellists performing this piece that I have a strong liking for. The first is Mischa Maisky. He may seem a little emotionless in his appearance at first (not compared to Rostropovich though, who I will link next) but I think the tilt of his eyes belies a certain otherworldly focus or accessing of brain. He produces a rich, beautiful sound, and a great rendition of the classic. I also just love the room he is performing in, complete with its little pedestal. And shit, he's from Latvia, where I derive a quarter of my blood.

Next up is the technical proficiency of Rostropovich. He plays the piece with alarming speed and, again, technical mastery. And though it could be described as more emotionless than Maisky, I find very impressive the relaxed wrist and little evidence of outward physical exertion, while producing as pure a sound as he does. It's the kind of thing where, when it looks so effortless for the performer you might not realize how amazing their performance actually is.

And then there is the one cellist that people who really do not know classical music (heck I am very amateur in my knowledge) still know: it's good old Yo-Yo Ma. That clip is a little silly in parts and there is some weird clicking sound at times, but man can that dude play.

I must also reference the cello concertos composed by Edward Elgar because good lord are they delightful. I'm not saying when you listen to Yo-Yo and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra rock this that all kinds of emotion will sweep over you, but it probably kind of should. This shit murders me. And for posterity, you should hear the late, great Jacqueline du Pré perform as well. I don't think either of these quite capture the auditory magnitude and ass-whoopingness of this piece, but you also won't have abundant opportunity to see this live. I would highly suggest you buy/download the album though as the sound will make you shit your pants (in a good way).

If this weren't already so long I would make fun of a Hallmark film meant to portray running that just completely bastardizes and makes a mockery of the pursuit. You can look forward to that in the coming days, or look backward at some old posts or, better yet, read a quality blog or some real news.

In the middle of March Madness, there was a ridiculous conclusion to this Spanish League game.

At any rate (tee-hee), stay fresh.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

St. Patty's Way

In this city of Chicago, like places all over the world, we seem to feel as if we need excuses to get drunk. It is no illusion, except perhaps to elementary school students, that this is the bulk of what constitutes St. Patrick's Day celebration. Even they are probably wise to it. As you age, more and more holidays seem to devolve to excessive consumption. This excess, more often than not, is booze, or triggered by booze, or, okay, I'm just stretching this out without the desire to provide too much sound backing.

So here in this fine midwestern city, rather than reserving celebration for the 17th of March, as that can fall, rather inconveniently, on a weekday, here the Saturday preceding is the adopted day for observance, aka boozing from moment of waking. Tomorrow there will be a parade and whatnot, but the true grandiosity of green beer, green vomit, and the right of removal of inhibitions is reserved for this Saturday just past.

In spite of the social acceptability of drinking all day, I managed not to imbibe until around 5pm (unless you count the free samples of Vodka at the local liquor wholesaler of sorts, which I don't). Despite the recklessness associated with drinking, I by and large like to do it on my own terms — though I will never let a person drink alone if I can avoid it. In spite of my fondness for drink, I don't often find I need it to relate to people, though people seem to relate to me much better when they are drunk. I believe this is why people, historically, have pegged me for more drug and alcohol use than constitutes my reality.

Some will get angry when drunk, but some will get angry when sober, and so I enjoy what I focus on, the positive vibe that tends to permeate certain blottoness and results in those little moments of connection. Like when I needed nourishment at three in the morning and 24-hour Subway was my haven. Often my shitty haircut and mismatched sneakers can inspire ire and disgusted looks but here another patron pronounced I would be perfect for her friend, saying into the phone, "You would love this guy," then taking a picture to send for the sake of posterity. Of course, even mandated days of excess often result in further indulgence of cliquish group behavior. People travel in their packs, content not to stray from their existing group. When out, I like to meet new people, but to each his own.

Because I am often in tune with food pricing (which means I am surprised when things cost more now than they did in 1996), I've noted a strange rise in cost on what I consider many conventional items. Perhaps it is not so strange, but its seems to be on everything all at once. For instance my favorite local burrito place which announced a price hike due to rising cost of material. This can't all be the tomato crisis. Heck, Thomas' bagels are up 10 cents per six pack and I don't even eat Thomas' bagels. I also don't think there are any tomatoes in them. People are probably more in an uproar that Twitter is down at the moment.

And with the warm weather, a quick shout out to all the women looking fine as Hell today. I don't know how they get me every year with their crawling out of caves, but they do! Lest I be thought guilty of objectification, consider the cheap cop out of the beauty of art and that I think the human form is an art. And yes, one I appreciate it.

At any rate, this is sort of headed nowhere, so with the sad news that hip-hop legend Nate Dogg passed away, I leave you with what will probably (and I think should — I am not forgetting you Japan) be today's most watched video: Regulate. Pouring out some Hennesy seems apropos.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Midway March

Snap-dilly, it's already March 11 and I've yet to blog a single damned day of this month. I really mussed it up with the whole February 28th thing as I have a vague pledge to myself to post four times a month, which I've addressed here before. That should correlate to once a week and you might think I'd go and pick a day of the week for it. Fridays tend to be that day and well I'm just thinking out loud here, or like typing or whatever. But right, Fridays bring the week to a launchpad of joyful closing so it's a good time when I've got good energy to go and lay down some words down on this mf, or in, depending on your concept of things.

Chicago has done it again with the warm[er] weather sneaking out. This time, I think it's trending (not a twitter reference) for good. Yes, 40 and sunny is all it takes to get excited when it's cold as monkeys and then a little dreary rain and the usual wind is thrown in. Of course, as excited for this as I am, it means I will soon begin sweating profusely at all hours of the day. Not much to complain about with the tsunami devastation in Japan. And as I always point out in the warm weather, I heard the sirens blaring a-plenty today. An interesting theory was posited by one of my roommates as to whether the warm weather gets the libido going and when sex cannot be attained, some good old-fashioned violence strikes fancy. I am sure there is some research on this somewhere. I will be looking out for it.

In my ongoing delight in pointing out song similarities I was noting how Voxtrot's "Introduction" has the classic riff from Blink-182's "What's My Age Again?" You can jump right to the 1:13 mark to capture it. Borrowing does not have to be copying, and either way I dig it because the two songs are so very different in tone and demeanor and that "What's My Age Again?" riff is a good one!

I read a hell of a lot of good articles this week, many courtesy of, but rather than a link parade, here is one Hell of a twisted story, courtesy of the human internet, my boy Osbourne Hazel, about a porn-related murder sequence. Good way to head into the weekend, right?

Well, over here in Chicago, they celebrate St. Patrick's day the Saturday before the day itself, so tomorrow will be quite the shitshow. Things'll be going green, as is all the rage this days. So I hope things are staying straight Pillsbury for you guys (and gals) aka Poppin Fresh.
Thanks for stopping by…you stay classy Planet Earth.