Monday, June 30, 2008

Mac Smacked

After a morning of colored wheels and crashing, I fear my four-year-old laptop hovers between this world and the next. For, lo, its day has come; its poised to join the Choir Eternal; it shambles slowly toward the laptop graveyard.

In short, I need a new hard drive. Happy? Let's see . . . .

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mary McCann Back on the Air

In keeping with the family tradition of multiple part-time jobs, Mary McCann, has snared another radio gig. Along with djing Sunday afternoons on Seattle oldie station B97.3, Mary's now hosting the show on KPLU. Stream in Saturdays between 1:00 and 6:00 PM PST for jazz and NPR news. (But mostly jazz.)

And keep your eyes open for Friday radio gigs in the Pacific Northwest.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Western States Smoked Out

Due to wildfires burning all over northern California, the Western States 100 has been cancelled. All 2008 entrants are automatically enrolled next year, including Jimmy Freeman. As mentioned, Jimmy's been chasing the goal of completing this super-tough hundred-mile course for several years and it must be a stinging disappointment. (I know how I'd have felt if they'd cancelled Eugene the day before.)

Still, Jimmy is an optimist. After cursing and kicking things for a time, he'll find a silver lining.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

This Old Hill House

I'm rereading Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. Having just mentioned Norm Abrams, I thought of writing a story in which the Yankee carpenter arrives to rehang the doors in a sprawling, evil mansion. Themes would include isolation, madness and proper use of safety goggles. Maybe next month.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Freak DVD Interviews On Hold

Skip it. The DVD interviews have been cancelled. Will they be rescheduled? Or is this a cost-cutting measure? More shall be revealed.

Freakish Questions on Freakazoid

DVD director Troy of Trailer Park Productions emailed questions he'll use as spring boards during my upcoming interview. Fans will learn such second-season secrets as why a Saturday morning cartoon show would hire Norm Abrams to voice himself.

(Hint: I think I'll lateral this one to Paul Rugg.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Kiss My Chitin


K says these bugs are beetles. Whatever they are, they're horny as drunken sailors in Singapore. Certainly they mate in positions almost as interesting. We'll soon be hearing the pitter patter of six little feet to the 10th power.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Commitment

Ha, well, the dye is cast. I've signed up for the November Pasadena Half-Marathon and the December California International Marathon. The half will be a restful 13.1 as I taper for the CIM and Boston qualification.

I will finish the CIM in 3 hours and 45 minutes.

Back to bug writing.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Scientific Method

As mentioned before we overcame our aversion and photographed the odd bug. It does make a bee-like hum and, according to one of MDW's brainy friends, is attracted to fresh paint. Our condo is awash in fresh paint, hence the attraction. After careful, meticulous study we dropped a dictionary on it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Heat Casualties at the Rose Bowl

So cried a pedestrian today at the Rose Bowl. And sure enough, an older man had collapsed in the 90 degree heat, laying crumpled on the asphalt. I believe he may have been participating in a Senior Olympic Events and faded from the heat.

In addition to the Senior Olympics, a Run Like A Girl five-mile race crowded onto the trails above the Rose Bowl. TNT Coach Karla observed another heat casualty as a running girl dropped at the finish line.

As to the non-collapsing runners, Ernesto nursed a sore hamstring and only ran two, while I put in six to make up for skipping yesterday due to high temperatures. In any case, the last few days haven't been good for strenuous outdoor activity.

As to the old guy, a squad car zoomed up and almost flattened a departing cyclist, whose attention was focused on the injured man. The rider had to dump her bike at the last second to avoid becoming a grill stain. A fire truck and an ambulance arrived, lights flashing. Loading the old guy on a back board, paramedics took him to the hospital.

A very eventful morning.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Reflections on an Ugly Eight Miles

This really stinks. My carefully considered thoughts after an eight-mile run yesterday. Temperatures were in the 90s well into late afternoon. I slowed way down, walked when necessary, and finished without heat exhaustion.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Insect Update

In addition to writing about insects, I've discovered an odd species clinging to the walls outside our condo. Over an inch long, these black and white critters have exceptionally long antennae, make no audible sound, and fly.

We'll execute a close-in zoom and post a photo as soon as we overcome the "Ewwww, big bug" factor.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bose Ears

Our new condo offers a rich audio bouquet. On a street with other condos and apartments, there are trash trucks crashing into dumpsters, leaf blowers, horns honking, sirens whooping, kids yelling, Armenian parents yelling back.

Then came Bose Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones.

Ahhhh.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mitch Watson at the Actor's Gang

Pal and playwright Mitch Watson has a hit on his hands. Klub (umlaut pronunciation on the "u," — Kloob — but I can't find the character on my keyboard) takes a dark look at the world of theatre through the eyes of a bitter clown. (Portrayed by the very busy Mitch Watson.) Check it out at the Actors' Gang.

Note: The website mentions a run through July 19. But Mitch assures me the play ends July 12. Believe the author and not the electronic page.

Monday, June 16, 2008

USC and Writing for T.C. Boyle


Last night, MDW and I attended a film screening on the USC campus. Having graduated in 1987, I believe this was my first trip back. (Though I have been to the Colosseum for football games.) My final semester was taken up by a creative writing project under faculty mentor, T. Coraghessan Boyle. Professor Boyle had an arid sense of humor, dropping out dry koans then moving on. In class once, he suggested we always write the last paragraph of a story in French so the reader would feel stupid. He was a great resource and a warehouse of story-crafting knowledge even then. But I never took full advantage of his insight. I was eager to get back out in the world and write for real.

My plan had been to take a job somewhere overseas and write something very expatriate and wry. But having focused so hard to finish college in two and half years, I folded immediately after graduation. I checked out jobs, sent out stories, started new ones, began a book, but my follow-through was shot. The only thing I completed was jury duty. Finally, a few months later, I stopped even pretending to write, returned to acting and spent the spring and summer performing bad plays.

What's this got to do with anything? As Dummy Fever gathers dust in its third draft tomb, I've started thinking about acting again. Maybe it has something to do with all the energy we put into selling the old place, getting a condo plus my training for a marathon, then running two in less than a month. I fear my follow-through has crashed again.

Could just be a 21-year cycle. In any case, I will complete the book. And no more acting.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

'Bye TNT '08 Marathoners


Thus endth the saga of the San Gabriel Valley Summer 2008 Team in Training. A few folk showed up yesterday for a farewell run, nursing injuries brought on by the San Diego Marathon and partying after the event. Among them were teammates who didn't think they could complete 26.2 miles and made it in style. Others who should've cruised, struggled. And a few who looked like they'd only cross the finish line in an ambulance, gritted their teeth and limped to victory. Which is all a way of saying that the marathon brings out the most surprising elements in people. Now it's time for the deck to be reshuffled. I will miss this motley bunch at the same time watching the new SGV Winter Team form.

My best wishes and prayers go out to teammates Stacy and David, both of whom were recently diagnosed with cancer. A season of running has given them good health and mental toughness. If anyone can meet this disease head-on, it's these guys. Do send them your very finest thoughts.

My first TNT coach, Jimmy Freeman, swung by practice on his way to run a crisp 22 miles. Jimmy is training for the upcoming Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. With a course winding through terrain accessible only to helicopters and animals that grew up there, Western States is an event Jimmy's hankered after for years. Finish under 24 hours and you win a coveted belt buckle that says you've gone where others have only flown over. Jimmy is not a half-way man and stands an excellent chance of success.

And now back to writing about funny insects.

Photo by Alfredo Cacho.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Old and New

Brother coach, Alfredo, shot this as I ran up Broadway in San Diego. At that point, it was a young marathon, barely beyond seven miles.

Tapings for the second-season Freakazoid! DVD are being scheduled for early July. As I glean more intelligence, I shall be delighted to pass it on.

Cyber Juggling

Work arrives in the form of a fine animated show about insects. Just a single story for now. But Herr Computer pines away in the digital hospital and I'm forced to shift between MDW's machine and another computer that isn't connected to the Web. But persevere I shall. Then I'll stop writing like Yoda.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mr. Computer is Ill

A corrupted file - a file keen on drink or cards. In any case, I'm off to a computer doc today to seek repair.

Last night, I watched Beowulf. Maybe it looked better in 3D. As it was, I couldn't help feeling I was watching an R-rated version of Shrek. I kept expecting the donkey to appear. ("Say, Grendel, s'up with those bad ass teeth?")

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Barer of Good Tidings

Thanks to Freak-Friend Danny Barer for the shout-out on his blog. Scroll down to read how 2008 Comic Con attendance is expected to spike.

Cool.

Monday, June 09, 2008

SD Marathon This and That

Natasha and I performed a ritual mombo around mile 21.

Running and walking around the course on my coachly duties, I covered at least 30 miles.

A common medical condition treated that day was hyponutremia or over-hydration. People drank too much water and washed out valuable salts and electrolytes.

Teammates Chris and Scott threw a victory party yesterday at their secluded Monrovia estate. I learned we have at least 3 Ph.Ds on our team. Also, two older teammates referred to me as a "punk kid." You don't get that a lot at age 55. It was rather refreshing.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Comic Con Freak-a-Note

On the subject of San Diego, as of this hour on a quiet Sunday morning, the pre-order info on the first season Freakazoid! DVD stands at:

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #3,033 in Movies & TV (See Bestsellers in Movies & TV)
Popular in this category: (What's this?)
#82 in Movies & TV > Kids & Family > Television

In addition to Paul Rugg and I, our old boss, Jean MacCurdy will be at the Comic Con panel on Thursday, July 24, between 10:30 and 11:30 AM at the San Diego Convention Center. (Tom Ruegger, alas, must attend to sundry family matters.)

Stop by if you're in the neighborhood, with time on your hands, and a desire to mingle with Klingons.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

San Diego Marathon Notes

As previously noted, my marathon finishing times continue ending in different hours.

2008 San Diego: 7:28

2005 Honolulu: 6:01

2007 Chicago: 5:48

2007 Phoenix: 4:21

2008 Eugene: 3:59

17,828 runners and walkers started the marathon and 16,372 finished.

Average finishing time was 5:01:08.

Many junior high and high school cheerleaders lined the course. While most groups remained upbeat even to the bitter end, a few were sullen as if present under threat of a beating. Trying cheering under duress and see what comes out. Inspiring to others? Not a 100 percent, I'm thinking.

Teammates agreed that the latter miles of the marathon were made unneccesarily grim by the terrain — concrete freeway underpasses and smelly tidal inlets. Interestingly, the same company (Elite Racing) that hosts San Diego puts on the Phoenix Marathon. There also the crucial final miles wended through a bleak industrial district that looked like the terrain you see in movies where zombies attack. I suggested that Elite Racing worked with a psychologist who designed the courses to mirror the inner make-up of runners. They've certainly got beyond 20 miles down cold.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Staying Classy


After a marathon moving experience, I left for San Diego on Friday in search of the real thing. As the San Gabriel Team lacked a "sweeper," I'd volunteered for the job. Thus I had to enter the race as a participant, station myself toward the back and sweep along our runners and walkers, making sure they passed the cut-off points and crossed the finish line. I drove down with TNT mentors Ernesto and CJ. In the car, we had a long spirited discussion on international monetary policy, the existence of God, and driving while drunk.

As marathons go, San Diego was deceptively difficult. On the map, it appears you're running a pleasant course around Balboa Park, downtown, around Mission Bay, and finishing aboard the USMC Recruit Depot in Point Loma. However there were a number of long inclines and declines coupled with several miles on a slanted freeway that aggravated old running injuries. In the latter miles, IT bands, hamstrings, and calf pulls would be refreshed, feeling just as painful as the day on which they occurred.


Sunday arrived with an overcast sky. Our team milled around the start area. Pictures were snapped, trash bags worn to ward off the morning chill, and Port-a-Potties visited again and again. Steaks dropped by for a chat before setting off to run a sub-five hour race. Teammate Gordie had been the featured speaker the previous night at our send-off dinner. A cancer survivor, he was treated like a rock star by other TNTers except Gordie was coherent and didn't smash anything.

6:30 AM. Crack! A cheer. The race had begun! We advanced 14 feet then stopped. Then a few more feet and stopped. Then walked. Then stopped. Seventeen minutes later, we crossed the start mat. NOW the race began.

Mile One: Lots of laughs and fun. There were many people dressed as Elvis, including CJ. These running Elvi hoped to set a record for the most Elvis-garbed runners in a marathon. (How did they do? I can't say.) In addition, a woman ran with an artificial leg, several men ran with large American or MIA flags, and a blind woman with a shirt that read "China Gal," speed-walked without a guide, tapping like mad against the curb.

Mile Two: We passed over the 163 Freeway and started south along the east side of Balboa Park. Nice and downhill. I ran ahead, marking the position and disposition of teammates.

Mile Three: Still east of the park. A man jumped into a sumac bush to urinate, but found the bush already taken. These are the gritty set-backs that must be overcome for a successful marathon.

Mile Four: Coaches Katie and Kate said 'hi' and 'bye' as everyone was doing Okay.

Mile Five: Downtown. We passed a Hooters where two desperate men were already lined up at 7:30 in the morning.

Mile Six: More loping back and forth between groups. Several of our injured had cautiously begun running.

Mile Seven: A long uphill climb on Broadway. Coach Alfredo arrived to capture the moment in digital pictures. Away from the camera, I stopped to use a Port-a-Potty. The smell was most dire.

Mile Eight: We're on the 163 Freeway, heading north and uphill on slanted concrete. Aches and pains crop up. A man in a red Super Man cape tore up a hill as if pursued by a kryptonite dog, leaped a chain-link fence in several bounds, and disappeared behind a tree.

Mile Nine: Adios cloud cover. The sun emerged and the temperature rose instantly. Worse, it felt humid. We came upon TNT drag cheerleaders. There's nothing like screaming men with beards, wearing make-up and short dresses, to energize the weary.

Mile 10: We passed beneath University Avenue. There was a strange phenomena: locals strolling along the freeway. Apparently, the novelty of walking on a freeway was too rich to ignore. What fun San Diegans have!

Mile 11: Downhill. Huzzah!

Mile 12: Off the stinking freeway and west on Friars Road. To our left stretched a colossal mall. It was layered with smaller malls within the mother mall as well as satellite malls across the street. Truly, we were running through shopping Valhalla. Cut-off time loomed close.

Mile 13: Anna, Liz and several others picked up the pace. Other teammates nursed more serious hurts. They vowed to run again another day and stopped at the half-marathon. Coach Pete cheered us on, offering encouragement as well as an odd snack consisting of wheat thins floating in a pan of hot dog water. The encouragement was appreciated

Mile 14: I almost missed the cut-off. This would've have resulted in my appearing weak and foolish. Virginia and Stacy stood on a curb with a bag of Oreos. I took one and it disintegrated from the heat like a cookie dandelion.

Mile 15: We were now on the east side of Mission Bay, running north through parks and suburbs. Natasha had fallen behind her group of Sanchez and the sibling duo of Whitney and Kingsley. Her IT injury was acting up and she walked along, having been joined by a runner named Stu. Stu had completed ten marathons, five San Diego marathons, and had tickets to Pat Benatar that evening.

Mile 16: Hobbling to a curb, the woman with the artificial leg sat down. I caught up with Kirsten and Sonia, battling pain and fatigue, but determined to press on.

Mile 17: Heading back toward Natasha, I found she'd ditched Stu. We set out to pass the mile 19.4 cut-off. Miss this one and you were bussed to the finish area, given a half-marathon medal and sent on your jolly way. Our team manager, Tiffani, met us, wished us well, and successfully hit up several children for contributions to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Mile 18: Despite IT pain, Natasha kept up a brisk pace. She remarked that her first name spelled backwards was "Ah Satan." True. But I felt it was the marathon talking.

Mile 19. We made the cut-off. Stopping in a medical tent, Natasha had ice wrapped around her IT band with yards of packing tape. It unraveled within a mile as we headed up a steep bridge. In the far distance, downtown San Diego shimmered in the haze. Rapid tapping. We turned as China Gal sped past, cane arcing from curb to pavement like a metronome.

Mile 20: Sea World was nearby. I'd been running and walking since early morning. I fantasized about dynamite fishing and Shamu.

Mile 21: Coach Sharla showed up somewhere around here. It was getting into the afternoon. We turned onto a dirt road, curving along some tidal inlet that smelled like dead sea lions. Trucks were dismantling water stations. Did I mention this was a rock 'n roll marathon with bands every mile? They were striking their gear. In fact, there was no shade and we sensed it had also been packed up.

Mile 22: Coaches Karla and Alfredo met us with ice for Natasha's head. As I was an unpaid volunteer, it was felt ice would be wasted on me.

Mile 23: All around, runners hobbled and limped. We walked by a water station that had everything but water. A street sweeping machine gobbled up the flattened cups, chasing us under a freeway and out again into the sun. Without question, we were at the butt end of the marathon.

Mile 24: Bleak concrete overpasses; scraggly bushes. We passed China Gal, tapping along, locked into pace.

Mile 25: Jets roared overhead from San Diego International Airport. To our left, we passed the Marine base where I went through boot camp 36 years ago. I wasn't in a nostalgic mood. Natasha's IT band hurt so much she was biting a piece of wood to keep from yelling. China Gal tapped past.

Mile 26: We're on the base. The end is near. Natasha vowed that no matter what happened, she wasn't finishing behind China Gal. We started running and passed that tapping machine.

Mile .2: But China Gal was a Terminator and would not quit. Tapping sounded from behind like the clock the crocodile swallowed in Peter Pan. We passed a guy with a "I Wish I Weren't Here" tee-shirt. We passed two chick in grass skirts. We crossed the finish line in seven hours and twenty-eight minutes.

But our adventures continued. The finish area was practically deserted, covered with trash and looking like the parking lot of a rock concert. We got our medals then tried to figure a way to reach the UPS trucks where our gear was stored. There was no crowd to follow, just wide open areas surrounded by fences and garbage. I climbed over a metal barrier near the trucks. Natasha and I tried dismantling the barrier, despite the fact there was an opening about twenty feet away. Eventually we spotted the opening, got our gear, stumbled over to the TNT sign-out area and called it a marathon.

That night there was celebration and drinking. (For some, a good deal of drinking.) Many first timers walked with the "marathon shuffle," a post-race gait that makes 28-year-olds look like doddering wrecks. CJ finished as Elvis and Ernesto finished despite a bum hamstring. Teammate Chris ran a phenomenal race, crossing the mat in 3:43. (On the 2008 highlight video, he's pumping up the crowd at 2:37.) Nevertheless, all who persevered and finished the marathon/half-marathon were exceptional.

Well done, Team.