Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Recap

1) I was below 150 lbs. for about a week during the summer

2) I ran a half-dozen sub-25:00 5Ks on the Winslow Township High School track

3) Successfully coached, trained and wrenched D'Wife to the finish of the 45-mile leg of the MS150. It is testament to her courage and strength that she got up and over the LongPort Bridge

MS150 City to Shore

4) Joined Assumption School PTA as "PR Coordinator." That has nothing at all to do with running, but the meetings do require a bit of beer afterwards

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How Did I Get So Lucky?!!!

With the merger of the forums into, so have the legendary BEER threads migrated.

[the link to "Beer Thread 2006 - The Elvis Year" has been updated] has a funky little points system, I guess with which to gauge participants' participation. I have not been able to find out anywhere on by what criteria the points are awarded. There may be some algorithm which measures posts you make and posts of yours that are replied to and awards points as such, but I can't find it.

I also cannot find any documentation as to what they are worth in the end, either.

Anyway ...

With the said migration of the BEER threads and a few other silly little ones I created in the defunct "Food Court," I was - until just recently - the Big Kahuna of points earners. In fact, when the BEER threads popped up, LaTortuga - my co-editor - jumped right up to #1 and #2.

Currently, we're holding steady at 11,185 and 8,930 points respectively.

I can't see my total going much higher, since - for my part - it's no fun participating in the BEER threads without her, MikeMills or therealman.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Day '07

The turkey is nearly done and I have poured myself a pint.

Is it Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout? No.

Is it Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale? Nope.

Is it Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve? Uh-uh.

It is 2007 Lawnmower Beer Champion Victory Whirlwind Witbier.

Why should I go with such a warm weather brew on a day traditionally spent shivering under wet grey skies, trying to warm myself up after some hilariously muddy 5K run or 12-mile MTB ride?

Because it's 72 fucking degrees outside, and I just finished cutting my lawn!!!

I love climate change; even if it does mean I won't enjoy my "winter" beers until June-uary.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Riding With Sharks

Riding a bike in The Pines is not much different from swimming in the ocean … The indigents can [and often] do act like dim-witted predators.

After all they’re about the same size. The trucks, I mean.

The common sense rules of swimming in the post-JAWS ocean are as follows. Where applicable replace “sharks” with “big-ass trucks” and “water” with “road.” Other than that, I ‘m sure you can find you own parallels.

1. Always swim in a group. Sharks most often attack lone individuals

2. Don't wander too far from shore. Doing so isolates you and places you away from assistance.

3. Avoid the water at night, dawn, or dusk. Many sharks are most active at these times and are better able to find you than you are to see them.

4. Don't enter the water if bleeding. Sharks can smell and taste blood, and trace it back to its source.

5. Don't wear shiny jewelry. The reflected light looks like shining fish scales.

6. Don't go into waters containing sewage. Sewage attracts bait fishes, which in turn attract sharks. [substitute "sewage" for "roadkill"]

7. Avoid waters being fished and those with lots of bait fishes. Diving seabirds are good indicators of such activities

8. Don't enter the water if sharks are present. Leave immediately if sharks are seen

9. Avoid an uneven tan and brightly colored clothing. I always keep a pair of Chucks and a Raiders baseball hat in my CamelPack. Should I blow out and need to hang at a local tav; I'm covered.

10. Don't splash a lot. Erratic movements can attract sharks. [i.e., dont' be too swishy.]

11. Use care near sandbars or steep drop-offs. These are favorite hangouts for sharks. [They like bombing hills as much as we do.]

12. Don't relax just because porpoises are nearby. Sightings of porpoises do not indicate the absence of sharks. Both often eat the same foods. [porpoise = chick truck driver]

13. Don't try to touch a shark if you see one! Never, ever say “Here kitty, kitty.” [Do not try to race an F-150. You will lose, every time]

14. If attacked by a shark, the general rule is "Do whatever it takes to get away!" Some people have successfully chosen to be aggressive, others passive. Some yelled underwater, others blew bubbles. I personally would go down fighting. [Take the first right - even if you dont know where it goes - then come back to your street. If there's another vehicle between you and 'the Predator' you're even better off.]

Thursday, November 01, 2007

All-Saints Day

To all the women I've known and especially those I've loved. You are all Saints. Without you, I wouldnt be where I am today. [Change one thing, and you change everything.]

I thank you all and pray for you always.

God bless you.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Ghost Story

When I lived in Voorhees I used to run a nice 4-mile out and back along Laurel Oak Road through woods and meadows. It didn't look like it does now ... Over the years the woods became a the Jefferson Hospital Buildings and the Skate Zone, the meadows became parking lots, and the path became a sidewalk.

One spring evening, I made the turnaround at the stoplight in front of the Water Company (which once was just a 4-way stop, but now had two left-turn only lanes - with arrows) and head back towards LoneStar, OliveGarden, etc. I was surprised to hear feet shuffling up behind me. Surprised because I hadn't see anyone else running at the light and I had moved quite a way back before I heard them. I turned around to see a guy in his fifties, I guess, also out for a spring run, but dressed in summer gear (singlet and old-school short shorts).

I was on the barely year old sidewalk, but he was running in the street. "Hey! You may want to use the sidewalk. I don't think it's a good idea to be in out in the road."

"What sidewalk???"

"Over here. It's new."

At this point we were just coming around a bend. I could see headlights approaching in the dusk. As they turned toward my guest, the driver leaned on the horn.

When I turned to say "Told ya!" ... There was no one there.

A couple of days later, I called the Voorhees and Gibbsboro Police departments. Many years ago a jogger HAD been struck and killed right where I was.

Right about where the Phantoms practice!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Compared to last year, my weight is the same but my blood pressure is up slightly, from 117/78 to 120/90.

Oh well.

I guess I took more time off than I should have to help D'Wife train for the MS150.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Today D'Wife signed me up for the South Jersey Running Companies e-newsletter.

I don't know whether she wants me train better, race more, or just hang out with a higher class of beer drinker.


She may not realize that my bikey friends drink they same beers I do (DFH, Victory, Magic Hat), but this new crew of weight weenies probably drink brews that end in "Light" ... Yuengling at best.

Or worse.

They could be wine drinkers!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

BEER: 7/28/2002-10/16/2006

The completely transcribed volume [3-1/2 years, exactly 1,250 pages!] of glorious non-linear rambling; now available, by your request, in 2 full-color, nearly-completely annotated (although with a distinctly singular point-of-view), semi-interactive (some links have been broken, sorry) PDFs.

Absolutely free - except for a temporarily jammed e-mailbox.

But wait ... That's not all!!!

Order before 10/31/2007, and recieve as a bonus PDF of all 19 Appendices. Now, I'm not saying these will make anything more clearer, but it wouldn't hurt, if youse know what I means ... And I would suggest youse pick up on that.

Beer: A Conversation
Glad to Help

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Lost in Translation

While in Hershey, I asked at three places: “Do you have any Stoudt’s?”

“No, just Guinness.”

I had to explain each time, that Stoudt's is a local brewery and they should get it … I guess Yuengling has the Amish country pretty wrapped up.

I did get a nice run in however.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Michael Jackson (27 March 1942 – 30 August 2007)

From VanCanSte: Opening your website, I became fixated on the beer you are drinking in your photo. What is it?

Friday, July 20, 2007

De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

August 20, 1983 - Philadelphia, JFK Stadium

Voices Inside My Head

Synchronicity I
Synchronicity II
Walking In Your Foosteps
Walking On the Moon
Oh My God
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Wrapped Around Your Finger
Tea In The Sahara
Spirits In A Material World
Hole In My Life
Invisible Sun
One World (Not Three)
King of Pain
Don't Stand So Close To Me
Every Breath You Take
Murder By Numbers
Can't Stand Losing You
So Lonely

My hair was considerably longer, blonder and much shaggier than it is today, or had been at any time. In fact, with a proper pair of sunglasses, a nice white tank top and an SLR [a Canon AE-1, specifically] I could pass for a certain English guitarist of popular acclaim at the time … especially when I was sitting on the barricade to the “Artists Only - Secure Area.”

Well, these girls must have read enough fan magazines to know that Andy Summers, the Police’s guitar player, was not only a great guitarist, but that he was not too tall, liked to wear white tank top T-shirts and almost always had a 35mm camera draped around his neck. They also “knew” that Mr. Summers was also not too keen on the whole “backstage” scene and whole generally spend his pre-show time “chilling with the fans.” While they had expected, with all their research, to meet Andy Summers, they hadn’t expected to meet his brother, “Randy Summers”

I took maybe half a roll of film of them to kill time before I handed them over to the roadies. The bright sunshine really enhanced the shots of them flashing their tits and asses at me [sorry, those old chemical prints are long gone]. While the older sister went on her way to score us some pot, the younger sister thanked me for the chance to get backstage: verbally and orally. When Janie retuned, Sarah went off to cop some beer and her older sister showed her appreciation as well.

When everyone was finished and happy, I pointed them in the general direction of the hospitality trailers and continued on my day.

I don’t think they EVER thought I really was who I told them I was; Just as their names COULDN’T really have been Janie and Sarah. But we enjoyed it all just the same.

"Hello, Philadelphia. Are you hot? I'm certainly hot. It's 98.6 degrees. That's the same temperature as blood.”

Before ‘Wrapped Around Your Finger’: "There is a girl with a blue bikini on there. You are very distractive. She's there. What's that guy doing between your legs? I can't perform with this going on".

Later, looking into the setting sun “I can't see you. I think the next time we play Philly, we have to play at night.”

They did.

July 19, 2007 – Philadelphia, Citizens Bank Park

Message In A Bottle
Synchronicity II
Walking On The Moon
Voices Inside My Head>When The World Is Running Down
Don't Stand So Close
Driven To Tears
The Bed's Too Big Without You
Truth Hits Everybody
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Invisible Sun
Walking In Your Footsteps
Can't Stand Losing You>Regatta de Blanc>Can’t Stand Losing you
King of Pain
So Lonely
Every Breath You Take
Next to You

From the bootlegs I'd heard, they were definitely NOT playing the way they did in '83. They were using different keys and tempos than what we're used to and this gives the songs a completely new feel.

Example: Slowing "Please Don't Stand So Close to Me" and taking it down a key makes it a very dark and sinister tune ... You get the feeling now that the "young teacher" was actively pursuing the girl and she's the one singing the chorus [“please don’t stand so close to me.”]. It becomes nearly the sister to "Every Breath You Take" which Sting has always claimed to be about obsession and possession.

I do kind of wish they had stuck to the promise they made at the press conference to mix up the setlists, but when you haven't played your catalog for 24 years, you might not want to take chances.

*read about “The First Disaster Gig" here.
I have this show and as bad as Stew thinks it went, it’s still pretty damn good.

The weather was threatening. I got downpoured on three times on the way from work to pick up D'Kid's babysitter. We arrived late missing the openeing bands, but we didn't get rained on at all. Not that it would have mattered since we were up at the top under the roof ... By up at the top, I mean the next to last row!!! But I as told D’Wife, "Someone had to sit there; might as well be me." I'd never been so high, I mean, "so far up" at a concert. I could see over the top of the stage, down 11th street and across the Schuylkill to Center City. I actually saw a guy get pulled over on I-95 to the right over the right field wall; the red & blue flashing lights caught my eye.

I did start to get an anxiety attack as we climbed the steps, but once we got to the top and sat down, I was fine. There were a couple of 250-pound girls in front of us, and when they danced - and they really went to town - I swear I felt the stadium move.

We were dead center of the stage [although a 1/2 mile away]. The sound was terrific; I guess the summer air really helped it travel. Sting lows on the bass made the place rumble; Stew’s tom-toms rattled like gunshots and Andy’s solos shimmered across the summer night. The lights were pretty good, they changed color theme depending on which album the song they played was from - black and white for the first, blue & white for the second, yellow and orange for ‘Zenyatta Mondatta’, red yellow and blue - of course - for ‘Synchronicity.’

During "Walking in your Footsteps" they played an animation of a dinosaur skeleton walking. The drums in the intro gave it a very Phil Collins-Disney feeling – I’m thinking specifically of “Tarzan”. When Sting played the pipes – maybe it’s a pan-flute? – he would play a couple of notes, back the pipes from his mouth and look at it with a “I didn’t expect it to sound like THAT” look; or maybe it was “Okay, now where are the next bunch of notes on this thing?” Andy played a remarkably Adrian Belew-ish solo using the "Lone Rhino" effects.

Stewart Copeland played a wide arrangement of percussion, including a glockenspiel for the intros to "Wrapped Around Your Finger" and "King of Pain” using drumsticks instead of the traditional hammers. Summers really tore up on the guitar, taking some extraordinary risks with the effects and very, very fast yet fluid playing.

As I said, they played most of the songs a bit slower than we're used to hearing ... with the hits, nobody seed to care, but with some of the songs people didn't recognize, a slow tempo and extended jamming (yes, they did!!!) just led to "crowd chatter". People sat down and talked amongst themselves, text’d their friends, posed for photos. To that point, I could probably live a long and happy life without EVER hearing "Walking on the Moon" ever again.

Sting mentioned their 1978 show at Grendel's Lair [which is now a GAP on South St.] which I attended. That show, or the Philadelphia fans, must have made a big impression on him; he referenced it when I saw them at 1981 at Liberty Bell [now Philadelphia Park], and again, of course, in 1983 at JFK.

Sadly, this time, there was no hanging out at the back gate, no camera [cameras weren’t allowed but c’mon, technology, man. They’re small enough now to fit easily in a non-frisked pocket. When I shot my photos in ’83, I had a bulky Canon AE-1. Had I brought my Panasonic, it would have blown those old photos away].

The were also no blowjobs given for the opportunity to sneak in through the “Event Staff ONLY” entrance; not to me anyway.

Watching the lesbians who made out through "Wrapped Around Your Finger" almost made up for it, though. They were cute, too. I have to admit, girls who like girls have gotten much better looking in the past 25 years or so.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

For the Record

I've been at this for two years now, and not only have I NOT burned the 400 Beers off, I may have actually bumped it up to about 800 Beers. On many occasions, I have lost track of either what I've been putting in or what I've taken out. I've also had weeks where the net gain/loss on the beer/mileage has been 0, yet I dropped up to 5 pounds ... strictly though stress, I suppose.

At any rate, we shall continue ...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Green Room

The Green Room is a surfing term used to describe the internal aspect or space of a breaking wave. The green room or barrel is inside the tube. A greenish-blue color illuminates within the tube, from the sunlight shining through the blue water.

Being landlocked, I have come to describe the "green room" in slightly different way.

The Green Room is a running term used to describe a tunnel created by trees arching over a road or path. On sunny days, a brilliant green illuminates the passage from the sunlight shining through the leaves above.

Green Room

"The Green Room" is also referred as "Emerald City"

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Legendary Pre-Father’s Day Lawnmower Beer Championship 3-Way Dance

I had been neglectful. Very neglectful.

Due to a maddening schedule of birthday party obligations, PTA meetings, Distance Run and Cancer Society Ride training and just plain bad weather, the back yard had gone from a promising green playground to slightly over-grown but filling in nicely to “remember when there was just a meadow here? It’s back.”


Cutting this mess down was going to take work. And when it was done, there would be a great need for beer. Lawnmower beer.

After breaking out the grinder and sharpening the blades, I dug in. Did you know that yellow jackets make there nests under ground??? I do now.

The depth of the grass made it necessary for me to push the mower back and forth down the line. Simply going forward would only bend the grass over, not actually cut it. I would move forward the length of the deck at a time. For the same reason I couldn’t take a wide path either; I need to overlap by ½ a blade at best.

I made good progress for the first 15 minutes, in spite of my encounter with the Vespula maculifrons girls. However, I was working in the level shade, and dealing with more domesticated grassland. The wild weedy sloping meadow waited for me in the sunshine.

Another half hour later and the first cut [North-South] was done. East-West only took fifteen more minutes.

It may not all be green – it may not be all even be grass – but at least it’s all [about] the same height.


The Legendary Pre-Father’s Day Lawnmower Beer Championship 3-Way Dance:
Hoegaarden [c] vs. Victory Whirlwind Witbier vs. Flying Dog Woody Creek White Belgian Ale

The most common example of an elimination match is the Three-Way Dance, where the first fall would eliminate one wrestler, reducing the match to a standard one-fall match. The Three-Way Dance (when not used as a synonym of the Triple Threat Match) is a specialty of Extreme Championship Wrestling.

Crowds at ECW events were well known for their rowdiness and distinctive chants that either supported or demeaned what was transpiring in the ring. ECW chants such as "You fucked up!" and "Holy shit!" became infamous during those shows, and are still used by fans in other promotions.
In ECW, there were virtually no rules. Weapons were abundant, with much blood spilled. There were referees, but their role was normally limited to counting pinfalls and acknowledging submissions, occasionally performing tag team maneuvers with a wrestler during the match, several times becoming the winner of the match themselves though not officially a part of the bout.
ECW was known for making popular several types of matches:

Barbed Wire Match

Flaming Tables Match

Singapore Cane Match

Stairway to Hell Match

Three-Way Dance
ECW was also infamous for regularly holding "Bring Your Own Weapon Nights" at the ECW Arena in the early days of the promotion. Fans were encouraged to bring their own weapons to give to wrestlers, as fighting in the crowd was a staple of ECW matches. A dollar store located next to the ECW Arena often supplied the bulk of the weapons, with fans purchasing them while they waited in line for each show. Memorable weapons included crutches, a large piece of cardboard with the words "Use Me!" handwritten on it but actually concealing a full-sized Stop sign, a two-man kayak, a Leonard Cohen vinyl record, a VCR (with remote), and a Nintendo Entertainment System. An accident actually helped put an end to Bring Your Own Weapon Night when wrestler Cactus Jack, believing the weapon he was holding to be an inexpensive aluminum pan, swung the object full force into The Sandman's head. When he heard the resulting "clang" noise, he realized the object was in fact a cast-iron skillet, and The Sandman's resulting injury put him out of action for two weeks.

Hoegaarden [Who-Gar-Den] - The Defending 90°+ Champion
Such is my esteem for Hoegaarden, that last year I brought NO Mexican cerveza into my house at all. No Corona, no Sol, no Presidente; no Mexican at all. By September, D’Kid was actually mad enough at me to ask “Don’t you love Mexico anymore?”

“Sure, I still do, sweetie. Mexico made me what I am now. I take Mexico with me always.”

Victory Whirlwind Witbier
What is they say? “Think Global; Drink Local.” Victory in PA in not only the closest brewery to me making a nice challenger to The Ho, but is a quality brewery all around. My deepest respects to Flying Fish [Cherry Hill, NJ] and the departed Heavyweight Brewing, but if there was no Dogfish Head, Victory would be the best brewery between LGA and BWI.

Flying Dog Woody Creek White Belgian Ale
Newcomer. I got the email announcing the “Name our Summer Seasonal” winner on the last day on May. Not one week later ,a nice six of Flying Dog Woody Creek White Belgian Ale was sitting the cooler of La Cervezeria. Wow, they work quickly in CO.


Beers will be judged against the champ: Hoegaarden.

HoGard will receive a score of 10 in all categories [except “Intangibles”] – as a baseline.

If you’re not as good, you lose points; better than, gain points.


“Let’s play.”

The Pour: Victory and Dog poured a bit thinner head, allowing us to get to sippin’ a bit earlier than the Ho. The Ho presented a brilliant white and tight foam, almost a meringue, filling up ½ a pint on the initial pour. Personally, I want to dive into the yard work and stay with it until completion ; I don’t need to pour my beer after cutting yet before edging, and hope that all that fluff is gone by the time I set my ass on the porch swing. I would rather punch through the whole deal in one chunk, knowing that when it’s done, I’m done and I can settle down with nothing further to do.

Score: HoG: 10; Victory: 10.5; F-Dog: 10.5

Uh-oh!!! HoG on the ropes early.

The Color: Of the three, HoG is the lightest, but only slightly. Victory and Dog are slightly richer. In this case, for this purpose, I have no problem with my beer resembling lemonade or even a fizzy margarita. But still …

Three-Way Push – 10 for All

L’Aroma: HoG steps in with the sour lemon with just a touch of stinky feet. Victory comes in with a healthy does of Lemon Pledge sprayed on a bagel. A sniff of El Dog is very citrus and spice, but without a good grain foundation. No bicycle tire [surprisingly, a plus] evident among the top three.

Score: HoG: 10; Victory: 10; F-Dog: 9

The Dog slips!!!

Tasting: HoG is a crisp, clean, light beer; the kind you can slip in between cutting the grass, taking D’Kid to dance/soccer/T-ball, going food shopping, a trip to Target, in other words: completely pussying out. But, because of its uniquely Belgian qualities [i.e., you don’t have NASCAR-beer breath], none of the Mom’s you will interact with during your Saturday (or Sunday, depending on your custody agreement), will think of you as anything but “charming” … that is if you should fuck up and put yourself in a position where you would HAVE TO take D’Kid to dance/soccer/T-ball, go food shopping or take a trip to Target.

Victory is a richer Hoegaarden. Ho leaves more yeast on the bottom of the bottle, Vic brings it up and out – oooh, my skin’s clearing up!!! It’s also got a touch more ABV. Granted, after buzzing down an acre of vegetation, I knew re-hydration was of prime importance. But I also wanted to get it over with, crck a high powered beer and call it a day,

Woody Creek White Belgian Ale neither sucked nor excelled. It was nice. “Nice” is not an adjective you want to associate with Hunter S. Thompson, even if it is two or the degrees removed.

Maybe it’s my Dogfish Head bias, but I think if Hunter were here to choose which brewery best carried on his legacy – in spirit, not location – Dogfish would be the easy winner. But DFH doesn’t make a Wit. So, as I said, Victory being the next best thing …

Score: HoG: 10; Victory: 10.5; F-Dog: 9

Intangibles: These are usually the points bookmakers throw in to level the playing field between what they really think and what the Vegas line says …

I don’t have that kind of responsibility.

Packaging Design: I hate that the Hoegaarden handle pops down when I least expect it.”Oh shit, did the handle just break??!!”

As much as I love Ralph Steadman – WTF??!!! What’s with the floating eyeballs, man???

Score: HoG: -0.5; F-Dog: -0.5

Stupid Name: Is Flying Dog trying to tap into the HST income pipeline??? What kind of a bump did they get with “Gonzo Imperial Porter?” When Johnny “Captain Jack Sparrow” Depp completes “The Rum Diaries,” there will be great coin to be made on all things Thompson??? Keeping with the Doggie theme – knowing they were going Belgian - I suggested “Fleur de Leash”

Score: F-Dog: -0.5

inal Score:
Victory Whirlwind Witbier: 41.0
Hoegaarden: 39.5
Flying Dog Woody Creek White Belgian Ale: 37.5
Victory takes the belt in a stunning upset!!! And without hitting anyone with a chair or pile-driving someone through a table

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Formerly Known as "HeatSeeker"

Today, on my mid-afternoon trot, I saw at least 8 pairs of sunglasses by the side of the road. They were mostly of the pale pink, purple or orange lensed variety with clunky goldish frames; they same as favored by a certain celebretard/ Slut-kateer who shares Lois Lane's initials.

I surmised that - much as stunned Beatlemaniacs had reacted when St. John Lennon proclaimed the Beatles "more popular than Jesus" which prompted them to throw copies of "Meet The Beatles" to the flames - the Lohanistas had finished their last Red Bull & Vodkas and thrown their eyewear from their cars in horror, shame, disgust and defiance.

Or, they just passed out with their heads hanging out the window and the shades fell off as they puked*

In any case ...

As I sit here, sipping on a refreshing Hoegaarden, I am reminded of a time when I could run 4 miles - or more - in 90° heat without worry.

It occured to me at about mile 3 that I may be 10 years and 15 pounds removed from such activity.

I'll do better next weekend.

* No vomitory evidence was seen, thank goodness.

Friday, June 01, 2007

25 Years and ...

I would like to say 25,000 miles, but that's not even close. I've tried to run 1,000 miles in a year - I think the closest I came was in the 800's. To manage 1,000 miles in a year a person needs to put in 2.75 miles or so every day, with no days off. A reasonable alternative would be to run 4 miles two days in a row and take the third off.

When you calculate it that way, maybe I was running 1,000 a year when I lived in Philly.

I knew I should have kept a log book.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

It Was Like Writing

MikeMills posed a question:
You know how people admire and revere writers and the art of writing? So how come the word "writing" is never used adjectively? Like when something beautiful happens to someone, they say it was poetic, or like poetry, or like music. Nobody ever says "I looked at her, she looked at me, and just as a small smile was beginning to touch her lips I leaned in and kissed her - it was like writing."

I have this hill I run every morning. It’s about 300’ high and a mile long. There is a steep right turn at the beginning that is very Daytona-ish (a 45º turn at a 22º) bank. You really have to dig in to get out of the gravity well and up the long grade I like to call “The Daily Grind.” After reaching its summit and continuing along the rolling slight decline another ½-mile behind the high school to the turnaround, I get to push back up over the rise, to bomb my way back down. After a couple twists and turns through the development to bring my mileage to a legitimate 3 for the day; I shed my shoes and socks and walk barefoot through the not-quite-woken up neighborhood.

To push yourself, day in and day out, alone, with no goal, no finish line, no opportunity of recognition or reward except to yourself … is like writing.

"There's that guy running down the hill again. What a sight."
"Like writing in motion."

Some days I do say that to myself:

“Poetry in motion, baby. Poetry in motion”
“More like haiku.”

Writing, I believe is the process; whereas music, poetry, or a story, is the product.

“It was musical …”
“She was poetic …”
“What a novel idea …”

People tend to admire [or critique] the outcome, but ignore the craft, as if it just appeared by magic. And it’s supposed to be easy, for those with the talent; not something that needs to be practiced and refined – maybe on a daily basis.

Let’s see what David Byrne has to say:

[no that's not him; it's Daniel Levitin, a session musician, sound and recording engineer, and record producer. He is now the James McGill professor of behavioral neuroscience and music at McGill University and the author of The New York Times bestseller This Is Your Brain on Music.]

Watch the video by clicking the image below.

Well, I can’t find the quote specifically, but he says something in there about alchemy, how people don’t want to know that a certain piece of music, which inspires them so much, was written during breakfast while thinking about toast.

On a similar theme:

FEAR (And Loathing) OF MUSIC by Tonya Headon [via I Hate Music]

In TV or comic book parlance, “talking heads” refers to that bit where the action stops and the characters stand around explaining things: sometimes a vital part of a narrative’s structure it’s more often the function of a director who has, quite literally, lost the plot. David Byrne, then, might not have been any good at picking suits (he got the collar and chest measurements mixed up, poor thing), but he was a dab hand at choosing names.

Now, I would be the last one to underestimate a listener’s stupidity, but Byrne went a bit far even for me: half of Talking Heads’ songs seem to assume that their audience is Martians. You can try it at home - here’s how to write one:

1) Pick a subject. This should be something very mundane; television perhaps, or animals. Hey! We’ll pick computers.
2) Write about your topic in a simple style. Say nothing that is not obvious. How about - You can type on computers. Your words appear on screen.
3) HERE IS THE IMPORTANT PART. You now have to turn your kindergarten words into a penetrating reflection of the strangeness of modern life. You do this by singing them in a bug-eyed neurotic voice.
3A) If you don’t make the delivery sufficiently nutty you’ll have written a Kraftwerk song instead. And that would never do.
4) Embellish your initial lyrics, if you like, with extra ones of even more staggering obviousness. So your song on computers might now run: “You can type! / On computers. / THEY DON’T TYPE BACK! / Your words show up on the screen / People say the screen is black.”
5) Play weedy approximation of funk/African/Brazilian music behind devastatingly insightful words.
6) Approach bank. Laugh.

David Byrne applied this technique time and again. He considered cities: each had good points and bad points. What of animals? “They say animals are hairy”. Finally his observations reached a stunning peak: on “Once In A Lifetime” (named for how often anyone needs to hear it), he told the world that “There is water at the bottom of the ocean”. In other words, David Byrne made Jonathan Richman look like Hegel.

And people lapped it up. As countless jerky indie-poppers have learned since, if you say anything with a straight enough face people will take it seriously. David Byrne and his band made a pile of albums and one film pointing out to America how secretly weird it was. This is something nobody ever went broke doing: everyone wants to believe the place they live in has a paranoid Lynchian underbelly, it’s far more palatable than the boring reality. Sing that boring reality like a paranoid kook and you’re made, at least until you discover Brazilian music and blow your career out of the water with a series of records which sound like someone’s dad doing the samba.

To sum up …

Getting the idea to move or create is easy. All you need are a pair of sneakers, or a piece of paper and a pencil. Finding the motivation and will to do so is harder; this is the part people don’t see. Once you’re one your way, it’s easy again; this is where the metaphors come in. When you are finished, you want to do it again, as soon as possible.

Right now, for me, every day is a battle between runner’s- /writer’s- and/or artist’s block.

Fortunately, successfully completing that one task every morning inspires me to do another.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What's this Guy's Story???

Tony “Trees” Palmieri would never consider himself a environmentalist.

The grandson of a Western Pennsylvania steel mill manager, the son of a Jersey City welder and himself the owner of New Jersey’s largest chain of car dealerships, he actually welcomed climate change, since warmer winters at the Jersey shore would eliminate any need to move to Florida as many of his generation did. He loved the shore; the smell of the ocean, the warm of the sun and the calming texture of the smooth wooden boardwalk beneath his bare feet on a sunny summer afternoon.

Yet, through no will or fault of his own, Tony was being applauded by the community of Seaside Heights as a leading “green” activist. He totally dismantled his dealerships; first, by selling off his inventory, then he converted the massive lots (at great personal expense) to a series of recreational facilities including ball fields, basketball courts and a skatepark. These play areas had no parking lots, only multiple bike racks, meant to encourage the children – and their parents – to walk, skate or ride bicycles to the park. This, said the community, lowered greenhouse emissions from the cars and also contributed to slimmer, happier kids in town.

Tony himself no longer owned a car, but rode around town on an old tandem bicycle.

These acts were not entirely philanthropic in nature.

He “retired” from the automotive industry on the advice of some local law enforcement officials who wished to avoid any entanglements concerning Tony’s “inventory management.” Also, the re-purposing of the acreage was necessitated by the possibility that, just maybe, the land wasn’t entirely free and clear in a CSI sort of way.

After the unfortunate incident …

“I hit a deer” he said.

“In reverse??? With the trunk open???” Tricia asked, “Then, I suppose, this mortally wounded whitetail jumped into the open door – open because you wanted to see if she was okay – she jumped into the open door and thrashed around until she expired. Is that right Tony???”

“Jeez, honey, it’s like you were there.”

… He really couldn’t bring himself to drive anymore.
The extra seat made it easy for Tony to cart his girlfriend back and forth to the spare condo, without arousing suspicion; plus she could always hop off and lose herself in the Boardwalk crowd if the need arose.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Oh yeah??? Prove it!!!

I heard good things about Sly Fox [Phoenixville, PA] from a CoolRunning compatriot, but had reservations about a brewer who would DARE to release a craft brew in aluminum cans. I appreciated the balls required. It is hard enough to start-up in the craft brew field, even if you do have a good product. But to put it out in cans …???

I remember a little operation known as Otto’s which created an Oat Bran beer, and set that loose upon the Pennsylvania countryside, in little silver cans back in the early 90’s. Their only purpose was to get PA couch potatoes to lower their cholesterol by drinking beer. The Sly Fox cans although wonderfully decorated were only offered in 12-packs, wrapped in cardboard boxes that reminded me of the bulk packaging of soup at the local warehouse mart.

As much good press as Sly Fox got, it was still a mythical creature … quality beer, from Pennsylvania [nothing new there; PA’s been bringing the love for years], in an aluminum can [huh??? Steel maybe, but aluminum, I don’t know?]

I dismissed it; much as Pennsylvanians dismiss the Jersey Devil; they’ve never seen it and since they have no backwoods boogeyman to call their own, why should we?

Note: Though I’ve never seen the Jersey Devil, I have heard it … not something I want to do again. Imagine the sound of a goose slowly being strangled shifting to a woman’s shriek and then to a baby’s cry fading into the misty forest on a moonlit night. It ain’t pleasant.

When 22 oz. bottles of Sly Fox appeared on the cervezeria shelf, I found a gateway and a loophole. It would be best to sample the PA brewery first on tap, failing that a nice big bottle is a reasonable option. I could see what they had to offer and if it was good … it was legitimately good; if it was bad, I couldn’t blame it on the can.

My first bottle was Sly Fox Instigator Doppelbock. Not being a connoisseur of bocks, single, doppel or otherwise, I just let it be what it was. It was enjoyable like kicked up root beer or Dr. Pepper.

Then I opened a Sly Fox Rte. 113 India Pale Ale. Now, I really like the IPA’s [although I don’t fully understand the whole IBU measuring system … How can a guy look out the window, see a Rte. 113 sign and say “I want to make an IPA that’s 113 IBU” Is there math involved??? A formula??? I always thought the hoppiness (however they measure it) could not be controlled but was just a magical outcome.

With Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA being my baseline [10], Rte. 113 scored a 9.25 – comparable with Victory HopDevil.

With two very enjoyable bottles under my belt [literally] I felt prepared to crack open the cans.

I chose to stick with the IPAs - Sly Fox Phoenix IPA.

Let me just say this; it felt very weird pouring a CAN of beer into a pint glass. Some beers NEED to be drunk straight for a can or bottle, for the sole reason that the aroma is so detrimental to the taste. I drank Yeungling from a glass once … never again.

That being said, Phoenix IPA is beyond can-worthy. It is very enjoyable from a glass and I can imagine would be very good on tap. It’s a little light and a bit weak to make it into the 9’s of my IPAs, but we finally have a decent foundation for “Beer Can Chicken” with something other than NASCAR beers.

Beer Can Roasted Herb Chicken
Show: Dinner: Impossible
Episode: Beg, Borrow and Steal: Tailgating: Impossible – featuring the Philadelphia Eagles Fans!!!

4 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub
3 teaspoons kosher salt
4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
4 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
4 (1 1/2-pound) frying chickens
4 cans beer, your choice, exterior of can rinsed

In a large mixing bowl, combine the rub, salt, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Rub inside cavity of chicken with mixture and heat grill. Open each can of beer, pour out (or drink) about 1/4 of the contents and place a chicken on end over the open can of beer with the tips of the legs pointing down. As the chicken cooks on the outside, the beer will get hot and steam the inside. Remove chicken from grill when cooked and let rest. Remove beer can from each chicken. Carve chicken into portions and serve.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

He Has Risen

I think that covers it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lent 2007

This year I’m going with an old stand-by, one I haven’t given up for years now.


This may be the chance I need to finally burn off the 400 Beers I’ve been working on for so long now.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl XLI: IND 29; CHI - 17

And so concludes the 2006-07 feasting season, which began on November 19th with my daughter's birthday; continued past Thanksgiving and Christmas; on to New Year's Eve and New Year's Day; rounding off with the NFL Playoffs and finally, The Super Bowl.

Now, [with the Broad Street Run 3 months away] it's back to sensible eating, moderate beer-drinking and serious training.

Friday, January 12, 2007

R-E-S-P- [oh, c,mon ... you know the rest]

"Respect" is a very important word in New Jersey. Just look how many times it’s used in The Godfather – which takes place in Sicily, New York, Long Island, Las Vegas, Havana, Miami, LA, Washington DC and Rome [I’m stitching them all together as one, here]. Look at The Sopranos, who actually ARE from Jersey. Goodfellas??? My Blue Heaven???

In NJ respect is currency. It is more valuable than your credit rating; if it starts to rise, it can generate its own wealth. Should it fall, no amount of refinancing can fix it.

This Winter, the Weather has decided to disrespect the Calendar.

Our Thanksgiving TurkeyMan Duathlon was just a warm-up [pun: sorry]. We’ve had Thanksgivings in the 40’s and 50’s before. I even remember driving over to South Street with my buddy Don Krnse with the top down a day or two after Xmas back in the early 80'.

This December's average high temperature for the DelVal Area was about 42° … the average is 36°. The only truly cold day in New Jersey In December was Dec. 8. The high temperature in Trenton that day was 32 degrees. Newark was 31 degrees and Atlantic City topped out at 34 degrees.

Today, it was 72°.

At 6:30 AM it was 55°. I did my morning run in a T-shirt and shorts. It took considerable resolve NOT to cut my grass. I washed my car.

I did NOT take down my Christmas lights. I did however put a Hawaiian shirt and lei on my angel on the lawn … just because.

I had a cigar. On the porch. After dinner.

What is this ... June-uary???

This disrespect is shameful.

If Weather were a carnate being, it could be fatal.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tales of the Pre-Construction

Rebuilding the Monster

I need to rebuild my Monster.
He’s in need of some repair.
His belly’s gotten a little soft.
He’s lost a little hair.
I haven’t used him much lately;
I haven’t had anyone to scare.

Annabelle and I [mostly she] did a lot of work over the Spring and Summer of 2006 to get The Monster back into shape. On the one hand, we were successful. We were able to get "The Beast" to the start and over the finish line on time and without much serious damage to himself or others on two high profile occasions.

As we enter the "pre-season" [because 'real runners' don't have 'off seasons'] I realize a potentially fatal mistake Annie and I made.

We "re-built" an old Monster, sure, that was a pretty amazing feat in itself ... we jolted the corpse, brought him back to life, pretty much put him back the way he was back in 2002.

Unfortunately, the way he was in 2002 ... sucked.

We didn't shoot high enough. We should have aimed for 1996. Or 1986.

If you watch the old Frankenstein sequels [Bride of ..., Son of ..., House of ...] they ALWAYS bring the monster back BEFORE fixing the MAIN problem - the bad brain in there!!!

The bad brain couldn't forget about doing bad things. But no one ever thought about taking a bit of time [there was really no rush, because the monster was usually 'dead', there was no deadline] and fixing the brain FIRST and THEN waking him up.

This Body has always been “right about there” - it remembers how to move at an 8-minute mile or better; how to breathe; how to hydrate; how to kick in the last 400m - it has moments of excellence. It can pop them out at will on the track at Bally's. The strength is there.

The force … The Brain ... can't decide.

He knows one thing ... he tasted success in May; he did not in September.

But the Body felt good ... and when the Body feels good, it doesn't want to feel bad. It will do anything to avoid feeling bad; but will also do anything to continue feeling good.

In the days of the Monster, days coming back to me now, there was a gathering of the tribes every morning. A “roll call” surveying the previous evening’s damage, incurred during my 7x7x7 … 7 miles at a 7 minute pace at 7:00.

Feet: Two, good so far
Ankles: Flex-y
Calves: Good
Knees: Fine
Thighs: Thunder
Hips: No complaints
Back: Stiff, but for good reason
All Critical Systems: GO!!!

The upper body had been relegated to “support system” of the “running machine”, responsible for the care, feeding and maintenance of the “transport vehicle.”

The first duty of the day was making coffee. The rest of the day was structured to get in a successful evening run; the right lunch at the right time, proper hydration throughout the day and a light snack on the train ride home. After the run; dinner, a couple of beers [at most] and some reading or drawing before bed.

There was a purpose, a dedication, then; that’s not back quite yet. The day revolved around the run, the enjoyment and the challenge of the run.

It doesn’t help that my daily routine has been flipped on its head, but at the beginning of my journey as a runner, I was a Pre-Dawn Patroller out for a morning jog with the 40-Something Dads. I began thinking and training as they did; nice easy 3-4 mile runs every morning. I t didn't take long before the Mileage Monster was out ther doing 6-7 miles every day with another 8-12 on the weekend ... and no days off.

So, upon reflection, The Monster began with the brain of a 40-Something Dad ... and I just happen to have one handy!!!