No-prah

Tue 28 Sep 2010 Leave a comment

My wife has decided that, because it is the show’s  final season, now would be a good time to start watching The Oprah Winfrey Show.  In fact, she’s watching it right now.  As I type this, I’m listing to Jenny McCarthy’s vapid yammering.  Holy hell, this is awful.  I can feel my brain dying as I listen to this – I’m like Cliff Robertson in the second half of Charly (or Lisa Simpson in Lisa The Simpson, if you’ve never seen the movie or read Flowers For Algernon).  At least if I was in the studio audience, there would be the slim chance of getting a car or a trip.  Instead, I’m just getting a headache watching the author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and fat Sam Cassell in a Jaclyn Smith wig badger a younger, gayer version of Sinbad.

Maybe I can talk her into restoring last weeks episode of Outsourced and watching that again, instead.

Categories: Uncategorized

What Was I Afraid Of?

Mon 26 Jul 2010 3 comments

Lately, my oldest son has been showing a bit of a fear of… well, something.  I’m not sure if it’s the dark, or being alone upstairs, but he gets freaked out by noises if we’re not up there with him.

These seem like reasonable things for a small child to fear.  Most kids are, at one point or another, afraid of the dark.  Some kids fear the monster under the bed or in the closet.  These are your classic, garden variety childhood fears.  You probably had them; I probably had them.  These are not the fears that I remember, however.  I remember having somewhat, er, atypical fears.

The first truly frightening experience that I can remember happened when I was three years old, or possibly a bit younger.  I know this because I did not yet live in the house that we moved into a few months after my third birthday.  I had a nightmare that actually took place in my crib – there were huge bugs everywhere, and all kinds of them: roaches, praying mantises, locusts, giant centipedes… you name it, they were there.  Woke up screaming.  It was one of only two nightmares that I have a complete memory of following waking.  I guess that this, in some way, contributes to my ongoing squeamishness about earwigs.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a picture:

Hi - I'll see you when you uncover your grill!

RAAAR! RAAAR! LIKE A DUNGEON DRAGON!

Nasty, right?  You know how they got their name?  Rumor has it that they crawl into your ear when you’re asleep and lay eggs in your brain.  That scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan still freaks me out, even though it looks totally fake.  When I was a kid, we had a picnic table and two benches in our backyard.  After a few years, they became lousy with these creatures.  Entomologists will tell you that they’re completely harmless (even that big pincer really does nothing), but I know better.  I sleep with earplugs – mostly because I’m a light sleeper, but I think that a small part of it is as a hedge against the sinister earwig menace.

My other very early fear – again, three or younger – was kind of self-limiting as it revolved around a series of commercials for a concert at Madison Square Garden.  In 1976 (or maybe early 1977), KISS was playing MSG – and I found the commercial to be terrifying.  I think that part of it might have been due to the fact that it was a very loud commercial.  Oh, and there was also the part where Gene Simmons had blood pouring out of his mouth.

Speaking of Simmonses, I initially thought that Richard Simmons and Slim Goodbody were the same person.  I wouldn’t say that I feared Slim Goodbody per se, but I was certainly creeped out by the concept of an inside-out Richard Simmons.  Here you have this guy who’s preaching the value of exercise and good eating habits, and you find out that his skin has been rendered transparent.  This does not seem like the hallmark of a healthy individual.  I kind of pictured Simmons-Goodbody as a form of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but scarier in that you couldn’t really be sure which personality was Hyde.  Was Richard hanging around all of those overweight people to harvest their skin a la Jame Gumb?  Did Slim gather those children to suck out their life essence, like Skeksis would?

The Inside Story

It puts the lotion on its skin - it does this whenever it's told.

A lot of commercials bothered me, too.  For example, I wouldn’t say that I was afraid of the Kool-Aid Man so much as I feared the aftermath of his visits.  My father would have killed me if he came home to find a giant pitcher-shaped hole in one of our walls, because you can be certain that I would have been the one who caught the blame.  The “Halls of Medicine” ads for Halls Cough Drops were kind of unsettling, too – they implied that the only relief for your cold symptoms would come from running a gantlet of giant disembodied heads afflicted with upper respiratory infections.

The most fearsome, though… the most horrible I’ve saved for last.  To this day, I do not think that I’ve feared anything more than I feared The Mummenschanz.  Who are the Mummenschanz?  They’re soulless heralds of Hades – that’s who they are.  Sure, they’ll have you believe that they’re just harmless mimes, but we all know that mimes are far from harmless.  Watch this nightmare fuel:

They had a long-running show in NYC in the late 1970s that was advertised all the time on the local channels (especially channels 5 and 11, whose ad rates must have been much cheaper than any of the Big Three).  My fears came to life one evening when, while I was getting ready to watch The Muppet Show, Kermit uttered the most horrifying words I’d ever heard:

It’s The Muppet Show, with our special guest stars, The Mummenschanz!

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  If The Muppet Show wasn’t outside their evil, silent grasp, then no place was safe!” I thought to myself.  All was lost.  Thankfully, the Mummenschanztravaganza seemed to end with the Carter administration.  I think that, much like the Iran Hostage Crisis, it waited out Carter to punish America for some perceived misdeed.  By the time I’d gotten to second grade or so, they were seemingly forgotten by everyone.

But not by me.

So sleep well tonight.  But do me a favor – would you leave a night light on?  I think that I heard someone not talking in my closet…

Categories: Childhood

Slow Down – You Move Too Fast!

Tue 20 Jul 2010 Leave a comment

In an effort to get myself back into real shape, I’ve entered the New Haven Road Race 20K this coming Labor Day.  I was actually supposed to run it in 2008, but injury prevented it.

Rather than just running on my own a few times per week until race day, I went over to Runner’s World and used their tool to develop a training plan.  You give them a recent race time, tell them how many miles per week you currently train, give them a distance and a date, and they spit back a plan.  Since it’s been awhile since I ran a race, I used one of my better training runs and figured about a 24 minute 5K.

My problem is that the plan that they’ve given me has me running at really slow speeds.  Case in point – today, I was to do a two-mile “easy run” at just under a 10-minute/mile pace; I ended up running about an 8:25 pace, which felt pretty slow to me.

Look – I make no pretense that I’m fast, because I’m not.  Since I began running again, my best 5K time was 3 years ago (22:45 – about 7:20/mile).  I guess I’m just trying to figure out whether I should follow the current plan and adjust to what seems like an uncomfortably slow pace, or just run what I think is an easy run and let pace take care of itself.

Protective gear for running

Here I am, wearing the latest in 19th Century protective gear. Makes sense to me, since it'll seem contemporary to the motorists from whom I'm seeking protection.

Of course, pace is not the only issue – safety is also an important consideration.  Currently, I wear a Road ID bracelet on every run.  I’ve been nearly hit several times in the four years since I resumed running, and I want to be sure that if/when it does finally happen I’ll have ID.  If you are active outdoors, or even at a gym, I can’t recommend this product highly enough.

One training run is in the books – but it was an easy run; we’ll see if I’m still Feelin’ Groovy after my tempo run on Thursday.  It does feel good to have a goal again.

Categories: Running

I’ve Got Nothing To Say!

Fri 16 Jul 2010 Leave a comment

Well, at least not at the moment – but I’ll try to think of something.  Fact of the matter is that I’m not terribly interesting.  I have a feeling that most of what will be posted here will essentially be me talking to myself.

Bright side: I’ll get some more typing practice.

As soon as I think of something to say, I’ll be the first to know!

Categories: Uncategorized

My Spine Is The Bassline

Fri 16 Jul 2010 2 comments

Relaxation is a brutal process.

I’ve had on-and-off pain in my left shoulder and neck for almost two years now.  I saw a chiropractor about a year-and-a-half ago about it.  He was a small, intense Korean man.  Imagine Kim Jong-Il yelling at you to “RELAX!” while he pounds on your back and yanks on your arms.  It wasn’t working out.

Last week, I started treatment with a new chiropractor’s office.  After an initial consult, I learned confirmed that I am pretty screwed up.  My left side is a friggin’ disaster – I’ve got all sorts of muscles in spasm throughout my back, shoulder, and neck.

Treatment consists of adjustments and massage therapy.  My adjustments come at the hands of a tiny English woman, who told me upon meeting me that I had “the tightest hamstrings [she’d] seen all day.”  Sadly, this was not a compliment – partly due to my running habit, partly due (I think) to genetics, I’ve got very tight legs; never in my life have I been able to touch my toes, but at least now I know that it’s not because of my gut.  I’m sorry, Margaret Thatcher – there’s a new Iron Lady in town.  When she presses down on the pressure points meant to release the muscles, it feels like she’s using a nightstick to do it.  It’s quite painful when it’s happening, but it does feel good after.  Ditto for the neck-cracking, which sounds like a zipper.  The good news is that today she said that my shoulder is “still very tight, but noticeably better.”  It feels somewhat better, so it was nice to get that confirmation.

Massage therapy – sounds relaxing, doesn’t it?  New-age-y music playing, pleasantly-scented air… and twenty minutes of being pounded on like a suitcase in those old American Tourister ads:

Granted, those doing the pounding are sweet and lovely – but I swear I was on the verge of tears today it hurt so much at some points.  For comparison’s sake: when I was in the twenty-third mile of my marathon a few years ago, I was convinced that I had fractured bones in my left foot; the massage, at points, hurt more than that.

It seems that part of the problem is mental – the more that I remind myself to relax, the more tense that I become.  So, yeah… in trying to make the problem better, I proceed to make it worse.   Typical.

Categories: Pains