Sunday, August 31, 2008

Kiley Runs Up Mt. Baldy

Congrats to TNT Fall Coach Kiley for tackling the Mt. Baldy Run To the Top. Starting in the Angeles National Forest at 6,000 feet, this eight-mile race gains 4K worth of altitude, finishing atop 10,023-foot Mount Baldy. Third highest mountain in Southern California, MDW and I have hiked up there and found the trail tough enough without race pressure. (We could've used some pressure as we missed the last ski lift down to the parking lot and had to hike the additional miles. Dusk fell and we hustled along in the fading light, not wanting to wander downslope in the dark. We just made it.)

In any event, props to Kiley. If I wore a large enough hat, I'd tip it in his direction, then lend it to the mountain for modesty's sake.

Six Miles for TNT, 16.8 for my Boston Qualifier

Team in Training practice four: first six miler for the team yesterday. Small turnout due to the holiday weekend. There is a very steep hill past the two-mile mark that our Team negotiated for the first of many pleasant times. Cloud cover held for most of the run, but it was muggy and warm. For awhile, I was awash in TNT alumni as Blanche, Anna, Nick, Ernesto, Katie, FJ and Raul all ran past at various speeds. Most are training for November's Pasadena Marathon.

This morning I ran 16.8 miles. As before, I woke up late (7:00 AM), and didn't get started until after 8:00. Luckily, I watered up all day Saturday. Temperature rose to 86 degrees plus humidity. I did well on the Pasadena Pacer eight-mile route — finishing two minutes ahead of pace. I then transitioned to the Team in Training eight-mile route which felt tougher, even though the Pacer grades are longer and steeper as they rise steadily out of the Arroyo and into the Flintridge Hills. It may have to do with my legs tiring as I enter a second uphill/downhill cycle, coupled with the rising mercury.

In any case, I finished in 2:41, hitting my 9:35 pace right on the nose.

My August total was 130.5 miles. I'll be needing new shoes for the race.

And maybe somewhere to run that's cool and flat for a change.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Review of Freakazoid DVD

Second-season DVD interviews are back on track, with shooting slated for sometime in October. Meanwhile, here's a review of the first DVD from "The Stuff We Like."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Coaches Mugging It Up

Coach Dave and I instruct new runners in proper finish line form. No matter how tired you are, play it up big for the cameras.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Practice Three Plus Me

A child's run yesterday for the Winter Team — 3.1 miles. Coach Alfredo and I again were assigned pace assessments. Four new members were sent on their way, walking and running around the Rose Bowl. Meanwhile, the fall team held a half-marathon for the rest of Greater L.A. Team in Training plus alumni. Big honking turn-out! Raul, FJ, Coach Katie, Sean and numerous other running chums sped by as I searched for our new guys amid the press of Rose Bowl exercise traffic. All were found and received official times plus a valuable TNT water bottle.

My own step-back week began today with 12 miles. I ran a Pasadena Pacer six-mile, out-and-back course. Begin at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, run up Salvia Canon to Linda Vista then up some more into the Flintridge Hills. Continue along rolling streets to Fairlawn Ave. (across from Desconso Gardens), then back. The course resembles the letter "M" with a steep uphill, down, up, down. Finished a bit ahead of schedule, drenched in sweat. Stretched out under California Oaks, humming with yellow jackets.

Now I'll ice something or the other.

Aw, Nut Bunnies!

Some uninspired running by the U.S. Dathan Ritzenheim and Ryan Hall finished 9 and 10 in the Olympic Marathon. The Africans started hot, on a 2:05 pace. (Samuel Wanjiru, the winning Kenyan, broke a 24-year Olympic marathon record by three minutes.) Hall, Ritzenheim and teammate Brian Sell hung back, then hung back further, then crept up a little, then crossed the finish line behind the three medalists and five other guys.

I think I would've preferred seeing someone crash and burn, picking off runners, trying to win, then playing it so cool they freeze themselves out of contention. You're left with the sense that our marathoners are either thoroughly outclassed or didn't try.

Better luck in 2012.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Family That Blogs Together . . .

My sister, Mary Pat, has joined the blogging community. Give her a read as she opines on matters great and small from the moist Northwest.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Been There, Broke That

American marathon ace Deena Kastor broke a foot two miles into last Sunday's Olympic Marathon. In 2006, I experienced something similar. Granted, the Santa Anita 5K and the Olympics aren't often mentioned in the same breath, but I can emphasize with the feelings that accompany a goal-wrecking injury. The interview here is a bit long. Besides marathoners (and those who enjoy a good wall fountain), the clip should interest anyone wishing to hone a winning attitude. In any case, all the best to Deena Kastor. I know she'll return in championship form.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sultry Deju Va on a Long Run

Arising late yet again, I ran 16.8 miles. The first half on a very steep course was a study in smooth, even hill running. I made expert use of fast foot turnover to speed up on the downhills and finished a minute under pace time. By now, the sun and humidity decided to weigh in. After a hot .8 miles to my car, I loaded up on more water and electrolyte juice before setting out on the second eight.

Here is a selection of thoughts in unshaded regions: Why don't I cut it short today? I could shorten my run/walk ratio. I should walk. I should really walk. What's the big deal? I had a great first half. I don't really want to qualify for Boston this year. A nice new PR will be great. I should walk the last mile so I don't get heat exhaustion.

Still and all, I finished well for the conditions — a minute above pace time. I went to the grocery store for ice and overbought on food. This always happens. I should never set foot in a grocery store after a long run without eating something first.

Now, time for an unpleasant, yet bracing, ice bath.

Second Practice

TNT Winter Team logged four miles yesterday. My job was to time three new team mates running their initial 5K assessment. I almost lost them in the crowd, as the team was finishing up at the same time. But my trio eventually received times as well as fine snack food provided by the Fall Team.

I couldn't help but note that many of the pace groups ran the four miles too quickly. This seems to happen every season. People think they're "winning" or "bettering their run" by speeding up on the longer distances. It's difficult to explain that the goal is to teach their bodies to endure several hours of race day running. New runners think that because they can go faster, they should. Thankfully, there's always Coach Pete and the rehab pool.

After the run, Doc Smith from the Pasadena Pacers gave an injury clinic. I learned that my slight knee pain is caused by tight hamstrings. In addition to stretching and the roller, this will require icing. So I scored an official Doc Smith ice bag. Most ice bags freeze in odd, rigid positions like frozen lakes. Doc Smith bags are cold but malleable, wrapping easily around joints and conforming to injured areas. These bags rawk!

Friday, August 15, 2008


Caught most of the animated shorts festival at the Nokia Theater. A great deal of outstanding CGI — so much that it blended together after awhile. Not everything had a story, or even a simple one-joke set up/pay off. A number of shorts merely showcased technology. Several other films were demo reels for studios or CGI production houses ala Rhythm and Hues. Two hours later, I gave the "John Award" to "Jungle Jail," a prisoner's desperate dream, for having cool CGI and a story I could follow.

Because of work considerations, I had time for lunch with MDW and her friend before zipping back home to graphic novel land.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"There Will Be Sandwiches"

Over lunch, Paul Dini schooled Tom Ruegger, Sherri Stoner and I in graphic noveling. I've got an idea that Tom and I are working on, while Sherri had a few notions that might work best in that medium.

Mostly we swapped bizarre pitch stories. Dini brought home the gold. He'd once been contacted by the assistant of a powerful Hollywood figure. The Big Man wanted Paul to attend a meeting for a new prime-time animated series. After a few questions, Paul realized the Big Man had him confused with Bruce Timm. Paul tried explaining this, but the assistant clearly didn't relish telling her boss he was wrong. So she slapped down the deal closer:

"Why don't you come anyway. There will be sandwiches."

A week later, after attending the meeting and eating a sandwich, Dini received a call from the assistant: the Big Man didn't want Paul for the project. He wanted Bruce Timm. Paul asked if the Big Man wanted his sandwich back, but the irony was lost.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hot 15 Mile Run

Woke up late. When the temperature ascends into the high 80s, best not mix oversleeping with distance running. Nevertheless, I did and completed my 15.1 in cauldron-like temperatures. Alas, my water supply ended before the run. After finishing, I rushed toward the nearest fountain like a dog left in the car all summer. (A hardy, alive dog, that is.)

Today I improved slightly on pace - 9:44. That includes hills and stopping to pant in the shade. I'm aiming to shave off an additional nine seconds on the long runs plus lower tempo run times from 8:07 to below eight.

But not if I keep getting up late in August.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

New TNT Season, First Practice

The Winter Team began nice and early today with a bracing 3.1 mile run. For some, it was a bracing walk, but nevertheless everyone completed their loop of the Rose Bowl. From here, half-a-hundred brave folk, most of whom have never run or walked more than six miles, will set out to conquer the marathon - or the half-marathon. I'm looking forward to helping them succeed.

Speaking of marathon training, fifteen miles awaits me tomorrow. "Unexcited" would describe my thoughts on that. Next week begins the countdown for the California International Marathon. Morgan, Ernesto and other current and former TNT folk may head up there to cheer me on. Very decent, these TNT types.

Jimmy Freeman and Kate Martini wed yesterday. My first TNT coach plus the coach who encouraged me to dream big are now husband and wife. I wish them all the best on the rocky, rewarding road of marriage.

Now to sleep, perchance to wake up really stinking early.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Main Man Mania

That last post brought back memories of a busy time at Warner Brothers. I think I'd written the Lobo pilot months earlier and forgotten about it. But suddenly the Main Man had heat. Along with Boyd Kirkland, then Scotty Jeralds, we got the show rolling.

In the fall of 1998:

Lobo was test-marketed. Boys loved it. (Lobo broke things and didn't take any lip. What's not to love?)

We pitched the show to marketing. They went wild. ("We can sell toys based on this. We really can!")

We pitched the show to Jamie Kellner and our new bosses at Kids' WB. Nothing. A sea of Toltec masks.

We pitched the show to Warner Studios head, Bob Daley. While not a demonstrative man, he thought it just fine.

Models changed, props were drawn, Scotty's crew got the board started. Composer Richard Stone was fired up to do music, while Brad Garrett would voice Lobo. In addition, voice director Andrea Romano had cast William H. Macy and Linda Hamilton in supporting roles.

I had ideas for twelve half-hour episodes. Two writers (Ken Segall and Mitch Watson) were working on outlines.

This was shaping up to be fun.

On a Friday in late January 1999, boss Jean MacCurdy called me into her office. Monday was the production start date. Artists were already reporting to work. Scotty's crew had the first act boarded.

We were cancelled.

Jamie Kellner just didn't like the show.

Jean spent the day on the phone, calling different people, angling for ways we might proceed. But no go.

Scotty and the production manager (Haven Alexander?) let the artists know we'd been sunk. I told Stonini, Andrea, and the writers. It was a depressing day.

In 2000, Fox expressed interest in the project. We had a few meetings but never agreed on numbers. Also that year, Lobo webisodes appeared on the Warner Brothers' site.

Meanwhile, the show hurriedly purchased to replace Lobo on the schedule was having phenomenal success.

It was called Pokemon.

Scott Jeralds: Drawin' Man

Animation artist and champion fellow Scott Jeralds has just joined the blogosphere. After working together on Freakazoid!, Scotty and I developed several TV animation projects such as Mammoth Boy. "Mammoth" championed brains-over-brawn via the adventures of a prehistoric kid. Our hero herded mammoths and dreamed big, while dodging cranky tribal elders and dim, but cunning, beasts.

We pitched this in late 1999 to our bosses at Kids' WB. As pitches go, it was a surreal experience. After several minutes of me talking and Scotty holding up artwork, and both of us passing out colored pitch booklets, we reached the end. There was silence for several moments. Then our Harvard-educated network chief smiled and asked: "Could you start again?"

(I'd like to say we stood on our dignity, gathered our materials and walked to the door, where my voice rang out like thunder, "Read the pitch book — if you can!" But we did it once more. And they passed.)

A year earlier, we'd worked on Lobo. Based on the homicidal D.C. Comics character, the series was originally in the hands of Boyd Kirkland. But Boyd was shifting over to a Batman direct-to-video. I had already written a pilot and came aboard to co-produce and story edit. Eventually, Scotty replaced Boyd.

Lamenting the decline of Saturday morning TV, Scotty crafted this nifty cartoon montage. See how many you can name.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Haunted First Responder

I'm now certified to handle heat exhaustion, ankle sprains and ghost bites.

With Winter Season starting Saturday, I needed a First Aid class. Last night, I attended one in Pasadena. The class was held in an old mansion just off of Orange Grove, a street fat with mansions. Apparently, the dwelling had been donated to the Red Cross many years before. There were only four of us students and the instructor. As the rest of the staff left and dusk gave way to night, our instructor told us the place was haunted.

A student had once wandered to the third floor where he heard strange sounds. Gusts of air rushed past him in places where there shouldn't have been drafts. He prayed desperately and ran like mad — a prudent action under the circumstances. Our instructor closed with a careful, "But I've never seen anything," and we left matters at that. (Though no one wanted to be the last one out.)

I thought about it later. If you were frightened enough to have a heart attack, the ghosts could provide CPR and tend to any bruises you suffered while collapsing. Then, once you came around, they could scare you again.

Perhaps they'll get their own series on the Sci Fi Channel.

(Feel free to work in "ghost writers.")

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

My Writing Friend Gerald

Gerald does things no writer should do. He snubs the powerful and walks out of meetings with the annoying. He isn't wealthy and, in fact, could use the money that steady employment brings. Such jobs are available for family-man Gerald. With a proven track record and good ideas, he's a sought-after figure in TV animation. But Gerald cannot fake enthusiasm for projects that he considers stupid and ill-conceived.

There are many such projects along Olive Avenue: squalid ideas that float about like oil upon sewer water. Gerald will avoid these the way a swimmer avoids poisonous jelly fish.

He's never deliberately rude, just decisive.

Go Gerald.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Barer Facts

Danny Barer had some nice words on his blog re. our Comic Con panel. (Including this fine picture of me holding forth on Bolivian tin exports over the last two quarters. You can tell everyone's digging it.)

Friday, August 01, 2008

I will Coach Once More

Winter Season for the San Gabriel Valley Team in Training officially begins tomorrow. You got people training in your basic endurance events — marathons, half-marathons, 100-mile bike rides and triathalons — coupled with raising money to fight blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. Once again, I'll be a volunteer assistant coach. I've found that helping runners overcome doubts and fears to complete a marathon is its own reward. Being paid in sacks of gold is also rewarding, but in a different, more earthy way.