Sunday, April 25, 2004

New running sneakers: $89
Digital watch with lap timer: $29
Scarfing down Mountain Dew and Snickers after your first 5K: Priceless.

The Run Hit Wonder was today. Biggest problem: getting up at 5 am. You may not believe this, but there is a time in the morning when there is no sunlight. I was not aware of this.

The odd think about a 5k/10k run with 20k people is that when the announcer yells "GO!", nothing happens. Oh, maybe people at the front of the line start moving, but the rest of us just get stuck in the mob. It took me and Brad about 3 minutes just to cross the starting line.

I have to say I was a little disappointed with the bands. You could only hear them for about a minute, and when I passed Flock of Seagulls they were playing some song I never heard of. Dudes, you're Flock of Seagulls. You're at a RUN. Just play "I Ran" over and over and over again. That's all we want. I got to hear a little bit of Tone Luc doing Funky Cold Medina, that is until their sound system went out.

I was shooting for a time of around 33 minutes. I thought that would be a good first 5k for me. I wound up clocking in at 28:49, which I don't mind saying I am quite pleased with. The question now is if this was a one-run-wonder for me, or if I will continue to run. Right now, all I know is that those Oreos are looking mighty good.


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Friday, April 23, 2004


Janice gets me every time.


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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Resistance isn't Futile after all

I went to Vegas this week to see the new Star Trek: Borg Invasion attraction at the Hilton. I was really looking forward to it for two reasons. For starters, it's Star Trek. Duh. Secondly, the Hilton has an existing Star Trek Klingon Encounter which is really good. I mean really, REALLY good. My expectations for The Borg were high.

At some level, all motion simulator rides are basically the same. There is some sort of "accident" and you have to get into a special "escape vehicle" to bring you back to safety. But the Klingon Encounter took it to a whole other level. The best word I can use to describe it is "clever". And that doesn't do it justice; there are some really creative things going on in there and it's just a whole lotta fun.

Borg Invasion includes more effects and technology than the original attraction. It has all the things you'd expect to see in a new motion-simulator ride (and have already seen in other attractions), but it doesn't have the flair or sense of fun of the original. I was very disappointed in it. Put another way, it's not Spock's Brain but it's no City on the Edge of Forever either.

Lesson re-affirmed: If you are making an amusement park ride, or a movie, or a videogame... creativity will beat out technology and a huge budget every time.

And speaking of Star Trek, have you been watching Enterprise? (*SPOILERS *) It has all the moral dilemmas of the previous series, but now Captain Archer is making all the ethically WRONG choices: Should we decompress someone in the airlock as an interrogation method? YES! Should we create a living, sentient clone, then kill it to harvest its organs? YES!! And then on last night's episode, should we attack a friendly alien ship and steal their warp coil, leaving them stranded in space for 3 years? YES!!! It may be too little too late to save the show, but it's really getting good.


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Sunday, April 18, 2004

Napa? Nada.

I had to fly up to Napa Valley for a wedding this weekend. I actually had a Moment of Joy at the airport. When my plane arrived for boarding, I saw that it was a Southwest Shamu plane. Basically the plane is painted to look like a giant killer whale. (Not that anyone would confuse a 500 mile per hour, 5,000 ton piece of metal at 30,000 feet with an actual killer whale.) I was happy to be flying on Shamu, until I discovered that like the whale, the plane did tricks too- it was NOT a fun descent into Oakland.

I'm not sure where in the country I "fit in", but I learned that it ain't Napa Valley. I was driving up from Oakland, it was about 5:00 and the only thing I had to eat all day was a few Ritz crackers around 11:00. I pulled into a shop marked "Grocery Store" to get a snack. There wasn't an Oreo in sight. It was all fresh fruit, and a butcher with fresh meat, and all sorts of strange dinner crackers. And lots of wine, of course. But no Oreos, no Mountain Dew. Hardly a preservative or chemical additive in sight. What kind of grocery store is that? They did have Coke, but they were teeny-tiny 8-ounce bottles. What's up with that?

After getting to my hotel, in the rinky-dinky town of St. Helena about 20 miles north of Napa, I realized I forgot to pack a plain white T-shirt to wear with my suit. I went to the front desk to ask where I might be able to buy some. I started to ask "Where can I buy..." I didn't even finish the sentence and the lady says "Safeway... up the road a quarter mile, turn right." Apparently, if you need to buy ANYTHING after 6pm in this town, it HAS to be from Safeway or you're out of luck. What's up with that?

Around 8:00 I made it to dinner. Having not eaten anything all day (other than some Ritz crackers and an 8 oz. Coke) I was looking forward to a simple chicken salad. I found a nice little restaurant in town and ordered. Well, it seems that they had chicken, and they had salad, they just couldn't make a chicken salad. You see, the chicken is pre-basted or whatever in a spinach/mushroom glaze. Whatever. I had to settle for a plain salad (no dressing) and a bowl of spaghetti. Since I was eating alone, I brought my laptop with me thinking that while I was waiting for my food I could work on my blog and do other things. The waitress comes over and says " I'm sorry, but the manager just told me you're not allowed to have your computer on." Huh? Is my portable electronic device going to interfere with the navigational equipment in the kitchen? Are they worried I'm going to hack into the oven and ruin their spinach souffle? What's up with that?

So help me, I miss L.A.

p.s. Coming home, my plane pulled into Gate 1. Number 1! No walking!


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Monday, April 12, 2004

Overcrowded Bunny Trail

How am I supposed to run 3 miles? I'm not talking about stamina, I just don't understand the logistics of it. I want to practice jalking (jogging/walking) 5k, and I don't know how to go about doing that.

I live in a city with traffic lights every 100 yards for as far as the eye can see. It seems stupid to just run along the busy sidewalks in town. I figured I could go to Griffith Park which has running trails, but it's still a pain to figure out how far you've gone. I have to find out where I'm going to park, then drive along the road trying to identify landmarks at different points so I can come up with round-trip runs of 2 or 3 miles.

But even that isn't simple. Yesterday, the entire population of Los Angeles was in the park having their stupid Easter picnics. The bike/running path along the side of the road was covered with parked cars, mile after mile after mile. I had to jalk while dodging pick-up trucks, baby strollers, and clouds of burnt barbeque smoke.

It got me thinking: what if one of the trucks hit me, or someone jumped out from behind a parked van and stabbed me? I didn't have any identification on me, so how long would it be before my body was identified? I was reminded of the case many years ago of the "Central Park Jogger", the then-anonymous woman who was raped and beaten nearly to death in New York City. If something were to happen to me, would news reports simply refer to me as "The Griffith Park Jogger?" I don't want to be known as The Griffith Park Jogger, that's completely against my character. "The Griffith Park TV Watcher" would work for me.


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Thursday, April 08, 2004

What the hell was I thinking?

I first heard about "Run Hit Wonder" from Brad. It's a 5k/10k run, with one-hit-wonder bands playing along the course. Bands include Devo, Tommy Tutone, and my favorite, A Flock of Seagulls. What could be more stupidly fun that that? Brad is running. Dutch is running. Two other friends of mine are running. I keep hearing about more and more people I know who are running. All the cool kids are doing it, so I signed up too.

Problem number one: I found out that Flock of Seagulls played last year, and they didn't have The Hair. What?! How could they not have The Hair?! Seeing Flock of Seagulls without The Hair is like seeing Britney Spears without the Boob Job. Oh well.

Problem number two, and this is the big one, is that I can't run. I'm so lazy I don't even channel surf. Brad shared a website with me that gives training advice for people looking to do their first 5k. It says that even if you've never run before, in 8 quick weeks you can get in shape for a 5k. Unfortunately, the run is in 3 weeks. I figure that if I just double everything I'll be OK.

I have a treadmill in my building, and I've run a bit on it. I can do 3 miles (about 5k) fairly comfortably (with a mix of running/walking) as long as I have a DVD player entertaining me. But I was worried about what it was like running in the "real world". I figured there would be some sort of conversion factor, something along the lines of "every mile on a treadmill is like 3/4 mile on the road." So I started asking around. Brad said something like "it's basically the same, my sister trains for marathons on a treadmill." Dutch, who is like Mister Joe Fitness, also told me "it's the same thing."

Today I tried running outside. I went to Griffith Park, took about 10 steps and felt like I was going to die. DIE I tell you! Running in real life ain't NOTHING like the treadmill. Still, I managed to do a 2-mile run/walk, got back to the car and drove to the Gun Shop in preparation for special visits to Brad & Dutch.


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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

We have a winna'!

My mother phoned me early in the morning and woke me up. She was very excited. Although it only took her 5 seconds to explain her news, my mind was racing way ahead of her:

"I just won..."
my mother won something...a car? my mom won a car!

"...the biggest..."
the biggest what?! the biggest lottery in New Jersey history?!


My mother won the

It seems her beauty parlor had an Easter raffle and my mother was the grand prize winner of a 5 foot stuffed duck. Way to go Mom!

She called me back later in the day. She was going crazy trying to figure out what to do with a 5-foot stuffed duck. Should she give it to her 4-year-old nephew, or her 8-year-old niece who might appreciate it more? Or should she give it to Father Nick whose sister is in town visiting with her young daughter? Or should she bring it along to Easter Dinner as a great decoration? So many choices, and she was asking me for all her options. Then she adds this little gem: "Or maybe you know of a 37-year-old guy who'd like to impress his girlfriend?" To which I responded, "um, no, and you do realize I'm not 37, right?"
"You're not? How old are you?"
"You're not 35."

Way to go, Mom.


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Monday, April 05, 2004

Greatest Art Exhibit Evar

In Boston, there is an art gallery celebrating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. One of the exhibits is a video of a guy (my new idol) spending nearly 16 hours popping every bubble in a 110-by-4-foot roll of bubble wrap. Go to the site, check out artist "Jason Dean" and scroll down to see a clip of him popping bubbles. If I were to go to this gallery, it frightens me to think how long I would spend watching him.


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Sunday, April 04, 2004

American Splendor

I saw a better movie this weekend, "American Splendor". It tells the true story of self-proclaimed loser Harvey Pekar who wrote a comic book about all the the bitterness in his life. One "friend" told me I would like it because it was a story about me. Thanks alot. I complained to some other friends "can you believe he said the movie was about me?!" They re-assured me "oh no, Mister P., you're nothing like him... Harvey Pekar actually had a flair for creative expression and made a success of his life." With friend like these...

The movie starts out slow, but it picks up. My favorite character is actually his buddy Tobey. In this scene, Tobey exlains why he is driving from Cleveland to Toledo to see a movie. This is Mister P.'s Clip of the Week. (916k QuickTime)


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Friday, April 02, 2004

Lost in Translation

This movie got a lot of great press during Oscar season. In the midst of all the Bill Murray statues being erected and all the parades and gala banquets honoring the film, one little detail fell by the wayside: THE MOVIE SUCKS!

This is one of the most boring films I have never seen. You know how Seinfeld was "a show about nothing"? Well, that wasn't exactly true because something wacky DID happen every week. But Lost In Translation truly is "a movie about nothing". Nothing happens during the movie. OK, we do get to sit through 5 minutes of people singing karaoke, and another 5 minutes of people walking through a video arcade. Riveting stuff.

I've heard that the movie is a comedy. I swear to you, I laughed more in Passion Of The Chris. I'm not kidding, there actually is an intentionally funny scene in Passion.

I don't blame the film. Boring, stupid movies get made all the time. But I resent it when the media and the masses jump on the bandwagon and go gaga over a "trendy" film which everyone knows is just plain awful.


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