Friday, May 29, 2009

Knee Op News

All went well. At least they operated on the correct knee. Tired and in mild pain. Thank you all for prayers and good thoughts. My hospital gown featured three wolves and a moon. More info on the 'morrow.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Three-Wolf Moon Meme

A dorky tee-shirt with three wolves and a moon becomes the hottest selling Amazon item because of a funny review. Now it has spawned this:

h/t: Dr. Coolsex

End of a Running Era

And the beginning of a better one as I completed my last run on the old knee. And a good one it was, too.

Mile 1: 12:07 with 1x2 run/walk ratio.

Mile 2: 10:56 " " " " .

Mile 3: 9:58 " 1x2 & 1x1 run/walk ratio.

Mile 4: 7:56 with no r/w.

That's a negative split with a sub-eight mile at the end. I can live with that for the next several months. So long Rose Bowl and surrounding hills for the duration. See you in the fall.

Scary, though. Now I have no excuse not to be completing writing projects. Not that I can't find a new one, but self-awareness will nag cruelly.

Salute to the King of the Monsters

My favorite Godzilla movie line was: "Godzilla is attacking the city. This is no drill." Clearly, the authorities wanted to alert the public to a danger that might be confused with just another boring giant-fire-breathing-dinosaur-attack drill.



h/t:CinemaKaBang.

Consider All the Angles

A weighty matter judiciously examined.

Political Talk Show Host Suddenly Very Interested In Manslaughter Law Loopholes

h/t: Little Miss Attila

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chow Down

Back in 2006 when I broke a bone in my foot, I must've put on 15 pounds in three months. That's about the same amount I've put on since my initial injury back in September. With no heavy cardio exercise for a month, post-op must become post-eat. 

At least, post-eat junk food. 

Another day of medical fun as I spent the morning getting blood tests, x-rays, EKG, and a brief examination from my doctor. Plus a phone call from the orthopedist's office and a reminder from the MRI Institute to please bring my MRI to the operation. That made me feel like a man who has bought a bus ticket, only to have the bus company remind him to bring a map. 

Let's go get it done. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Knee Op and Animated Bureaucrats

Lots of paperwork, sign this and that, all for an operation that's supposed to take an hour. Then off to the drug store for antibiotics and heavy-duty pain pills.  Tomorrow, I have blood tests, x-rays and a physical.

Ran three miles today, completing the last mile in 7:57. I haven't run a sub-eight mile since last August. This will be a positive memory to take into recovery.   

In addition to massive legal documents, my paying job has a well-defined chain-of-command that includes the story editor, two producers, head of the division, another guy, and a guy overseas. The gate guards are also on the distribution lists and add such comments as, "needs more guard characters," and "why doesn't this scene have a check-point?" 

Short story lengthens on. I think I need to kill off characters quicker. Nothing personal, but they're holding up the ending. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Farewell to Legs

Ran three miles yesterday, walking two-minutes for every one minute of running. For the last mile, I dropped the walking and focused on moving quickly, feet underneath the body, with rapid turn-over. I logged 8:39, my fastest individual mile since last September. No knee pain yesterday or today.

Surgery this Friday. If running is out for the next several months, it'll be easier having completed at least one decent mile.

Today was the L.A. Marathon. A couple friends ran, but I haven't had time to check results.

Happy Memorial Day! I think of departed veterans Kurt and T.J. Imagine you knew a man from Cleveland, Ohio. He had one sibling, an older sister. During Vietnam, he volunteered for a dangerous assignment, operating far behind enemy lines. After the war, he battled drugs and alcohol. Eventually, he sobered up and went to work for a vending machine company, traveling around Los Angeles in a van fixing candy, coffee and soda machines.

Now imagine you knew two men with the same criteria. That would be Kurt and T.J. Kurt served in Marine recon, operating in Laos along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. T.J. was a 4th Infantry Division LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol), creeping around North Vietnamese base camp areas in the Central Highlands. Their Vietnam service overlapped by around six months. (July 1967 to January 1968.)

Once I introduced them to each other at a party, figuring they'd have tons to talk about, but after a few polite minutes they went their separate ways. In any case, I'm honored to have known them and appreciate the sacrifices they made.

PS: I was going to put up more films, but have too much writing. So: Saving Private Ryan, Anthony Mann's Men in War, Band of Brothers, and We Were Soldier's Once, plus A Bridge Too Far complete a few of my war genre favorites.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day Film Festival

Here's the trailer from a World War II action flick featuring a cast of top character actors. In addition to the usual Americans from different walks of life ("We're all in this together."), the film included a pacifist, a nasty S.O.B., and Desi Arnaz. As I recall from seeing the movie, the hand-to-hand fighting scenes were raw and brutal, war at its most visceral level. Yes, there's Yank heroism, but the audience is told victory will take hard, unflinching, even heartless men. Worth a look as it was made at a time when things on the battlefield still weren't going all our way.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sit-Com Report

Finally heard back from my agent. She enjoyed the sit-com, liked the story, but felt the three main characters needed a bit more distinguishing. Fair enough. And not a particularly thorny fix, as these matters go.  As often happens, the material execs will read changes with the seasons. For a long time they wanted a sample of a currently running sit-com. Since the great sit-com die-off, they now want an original script. Also, I learned one of the major animation studios is reluctant to even take pitches from me since one exec doesn't feel anything I've written is "funny enough." That's like sending back a cup of coffee because the liquid isn't "wet enough." Idiosyncratic. Unanswerable. But bound to change once the new script gets out there.

As to my paying animation gig, I've completed the outline and will send it out on the morrow. That means income. I'm faint and girlish thinking about it. 

My friend Dale, whom I've written about for the last two years, has taken another head-butt from cancer. He's been opened up so many times his stomach has lost all elasticity, intestines tied and re-tied into a complicated mess. On Sunday, he was rushed in for emergency surgery after a leak had developed in his mangled guts. And while Dale survived, his pain is immense. When I saw him today, his eyes were popped out from all the morphine. We sat and watched Hawaii 5-0 until he fell asleep. 

Keep him in your prayers, as well as his family. They watch and wait. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Unconventional

A marathoning friend from Team in Training is a big Trek fan. (Though not a Trekkie as he maintains interests in sports and dating girls.) He suggested we hit the Las Vegas Star Trek convention in August. Las Vegas in August is hotter than a Klingon chili cook-off, but it might be worth the experience for the experience. 

On top of my planned one-day excursion to Comic Con, I'll be fat with conventions this year.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Paperwork

I'm reading over the contract for my half-hour script. It's fifteen pages long. The script itself is only thirty pages long. Apparently, the studio won't be comfortable unless I sign over all gas, oil and mineral rights to any land I may walk across during the execution of the script, plus agree to mediate disputes before a tribunal consisting of attorneys related to studio executives.

It's a simple business where a man's handshake is his bond.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Estonian Documentary

The protagonist of my short story has shifted from a friendly guy to a snarky Bill Mahr-like fellow. I'm not sure how this happened, but it eliminated a plot point that kept growing more contrived each draft. As this is a horror story with most of the characters biting it, the change works better.

Just saw an amazing documentary on Estonia. When it comes to the screwed-over-nation-derby, Estonia is neck-and-neck with South Vietnam, Poland and Cambodia. (Plus neighbors Lithuania and Latvia.) Conquered by the Soviets, then the Nazis, then the Soviets again, Estonia was absorbed into the Soviet Union and held captive for over over 50 years. The people used a national song festival to keep alive Estonian culture and, eventually, win independence without violence. What a great feature film this would make. Alas, Hollywood would change the bad guys from Commies to the Vatican, make all the songs rap, and let J.J. Abrams direct so you couldn't tell what what the heck was going on.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cavalcade of Reviews


Alert Troy notes additional Freak II DVD reviews here, as well as here and this one here. Overall, quite kind to the Guy with Lightning in his Hair. Link

New Star Trek

In the midst of writing a short story that seems to mirror the stimulus package - a massive tome crammed with wads of fat - I took my wife to see Star Trek. Overall, I enjoyed it. I thought the director overdirected much of the action stuff. Close-ups, zippy cuts, and a hyperactive camera overwhelmed certain scenes. There's nothing wrong with letting action speak for itself. But time and styles change.

Live long and perspire!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

To moms everywhere.

Airborne

Busy writing that short story. I must always remember the reader - picky bastards. Too many characters or too much information triggers the Snooze button.

Whenever I feel sorry for myself about running, something happens to snap me out of it. I'll visit my friend K's blog or stumble upon something like this.

h/t: Hot Air

Friday, May 08, 2009

Knee Rehab and Writing

A few more days before I hear back from my paying job. Meanwhile I'm ascending the scale poundwise as I prepare for a torpid month of recovery. Last time off my feet, I blimped out in depression. This time, I'd better unblimp as my repaired knee will thank a lighter me once it's run time again.

Dashed through my research and started the short story anyway. Despite being fed up with prep work, I believe it helped. The interactive outline method, coupled with questioning the characters has lent my writing more heft. I really want to layer this story instead of blasting out a tale heavy on action but light on anything else such as themes, metaphors, symbolism or other boring things.

This time I'm more willing to wait and see what emerges. And maybe have a couple of snacks while I'm at it; bag of pretzels, a power bar, apple, turkey dinner; the usual.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Things They Say

I put my short story characters through their paces today and asked them:

1. What they thought of the government spending trillions of dollars.

2. If they were filling out a job application, what would be their strong points?

3. Talking to a shrink, what are their weak points?

4. What did they think of Susan Boyle on "Britain Has Talent?"

Illuminating answers; most I expected, a few I didn't. I've got to research two items tomorrow, then let the whole thing rest for the weekend. I'll start a new draft next Monday. 

That is, unless my paying gig decides to proceed. Nice gig. Good gig. 


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Close to Countdown

Surgery could be around May 20. My orthopaedist tried talking me out of continued running, failed, then acknowledged it was a standard warning administered to runners. He admitted his goal was avoiding knee replacement surgery. I said 'me too.' We parted on good terms.

Working on a short story using an interactive outline. Rather than the school outline of Roman numerals, numbers and letters, the interactive form engages you with questions as to why you're considering this or that plot point. I'm always challenged to examine why I've included something, without having to know all the answers. ("I don't know" is acceptable.)

Also, I've added a feature where I'll question characters on something unrelated to the story. For instance, I'm currently writing a horror story set on a small ship. But I'll ask my characters to react to waiting in a long movie line only to discover the film is sold out. How they react tells me who they are. I also have them speak to one other on some political or news topic. This is time-saving since my usual approach was to write a draft, then another, and gradually find the voices. Knowing characters better allows room for growth. And if they cross me...out of the story!

I don't like doing that, but sometimes they leave me no choice.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Post-Marathon Video Captures It All

In honor of Jimmy, Emil, Jay and Melissa, Alfredo and all who competed this weekend, I present, once again, a salute to endurance athletes.

Salute to Tri Wildflowers

Congrats to Jay and Melissa Carlton and Alfredo Cacho for finishing the Wildflower Olympic distance triathalon: swim, bike, run and they did all three. Alfredo will continue training for a half-ironman, while Jay and Melissa will probably eat a lot.

Eugene Recalled, Surgery in Sight

Eugene Marathon - the high water mark of my running career...so far. You couldn't ask for better weather - 40s to start - or terrain - net downhill along a shaded path beside a river.

Meanwhile my arthroscopic surgery has been approved by the HMO. I meet my doc next week to sign various releases promising to allow mediation should he accidentally remove my back. But why not believe the best?

Emil "The Machine" Cheng finished the Palos Verdes Marathon yesterday in four hours and fifty-two minutes. This is a very hilly course and he battled cramps along with flu-like symptoms. Even a seasoned runner like Emil gets caught up in the excitement and goes out too fast. There is a penalty for such giddiness. Emil's race report is up on his blog.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Miwok Madness

According to Jimmy Dean Freeman: "...62.4 miles; 9:50 per mile average in the worst race conditions I have ever run..." That included fog, wind and rain, plus the aforementioned 10,000 foot elevation gain. But congratulations to Jimmy. Obstacles overcome made the triumph better.

Miwok A Lot

Running zealot Jimmy Dean Freeman is bounding along the heights of trendy Marin County, battling 10,000 feet of net elevation gain and a bad back at the Miwok 100K.

Twittering the race today, Jimmy informs us that Advil has done the trick, easing back pain as he reaches mile 28 in 4 hours and 27 minutes.

More later.

Equal Time

While mentioning Vietnam, I neglected Cambodia. The Khmer Republic fell on April 12, 1975. U.S. helicopters airlifted out our embassy staff, a few Cambodians, and the press. We didn't bother telling the Cambodian government we were leaving. And while we spirited away the man who'd been prime minister for the last three days, several members of his cabinet refused evacuation, staying to suffer the fate of their people. Prince Sisoweth Sirik Matak, Long Boret, and Lon Non were executed by the Khmer Rouge. What a grave that country became. They still haven't unearthed all the Killing Fields.

Every April, around Buddha's birthday, I send an email to a Khmer friend whom I met in Cambodia. She was five when the communists took over. Her father was taken to the grounds of a factory and shot. She and her mother were forced to work in the rice paddies. Starving, they ate bugs. Nowadays, her teenage daughter doesn't believe things were so bad. ("Bugs! Why would you eat bugs! That's so gross.")

And for all that, the Cambodians were remembered in a film - The Killing Fields, which twisted itself into intricate yoga poses to mitigate Khmer Rouge savagery.

Hollywood's good for a couple of Nazi films every year. But no one's made a movie yet on Darfur, or North Korea or Mao's butchery of 60 million Chinese. I guess some slaughters are more equal than others.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Jason and Tiffany's Wedding

Mostly current Team in Training folk at tonight's nuptials down in Whittier. Most will run 12 or 18 miles tomorrow. Being young helps.





A Little Known Occasion

Yesterday marked the fall of South Vietnam. I know because my Vietnamese barber told me. He fled Saigon in 1975 with no money and no English skills whatsoever.
(Even now, he tends to drop endings such as "hou" for "house," and "paspa" for "passport." You have to pay attention, but the meaning comes through.)

Eventually reaching America, he waited four years for his family to bribe their way onto a boat out of Vietnam. They did, reaching a refugee camp in Malaya. Eventually, my guy got them over here. Thirty-four years have passed since the day he boarded a helicopter under rocket fire. Now he in lives quietly in the San Gabriel Valley, cuts hair in La Canada and pays for two daughters in college.

He knows I've been in Vietnam and Cambodia, but never recalls why. Or my name. His first question is, "You travel somewhere?" I'm certain he thinks I'm always in motion, like a deep ocean shark.

Today I told him I was glad he made it out of Vietnam.

He was too.

Thumbs Up from Toon Zone News

My favorite DVD director Troy passes along the intelligence that Freakazoid Season II DVD has received a glowing notice from the wise, insightful reviewer at Toon Zoon News. Bracing copy, absolutely bracing.