Google search oddities

Today’s oddity: “i love ibuprofen”

Make that “I love vicodin” and you’ve found the right blog!

And another: “how to bounce back from a bad marathon”

Again, the answer is vicodin. This is way too easy.

Facebook side dishes

If you haven’t yet friended me on Facebook, then you’re missing a lot. I tend to post things there that are too ephemeral to warrant a post on this blog. They might be links to articles, interviews of note, links to notable discussion threads, or weird things that break up the day. Here are just a few of the things you missed just in the past few days by not being my friend:

A sendup of the “motivations” people post to one another on DailyMile.com

A link to an article and video about the New Bedford Half Marathon. I love how reporters for these things never do any research. The interviewer has no fucking clue who Kim Smith is. Last year it was the interviewer getting Kara Goucher’s first name wrong at Boston.

A glimpse into my growing obsession with women’s roller derby.

Some of most idiotic threads I can find on LetsRun.com.

Ridiculous images, stolen from others.

Funny comics and other things.

Photos of mass destruction.

You don’t have enough ways to waste your time. Let me fill that need. Friend me today!

Bay Area Television, circa 1973

At this point, due to training and work demands, the only evening of the week during which I can drink to excess is Friday. I carefully rationed my caloric intake yesterday and allotted space in the budget for a beer and three vodkas. This made watching Day Three of the NCAA Track and Field coverage (recorded) very enjoyable indeed, especially the boring bits.

It also triggered a strange dream, in which I was describing a show from my childhood, Big Time Wrestling, to someone. I haven’t thought about that show in years. Upon waking, I remembered a few other programs that were standard entertainment fare for me when I was around seven or eight years old. Here are some highlights. If you’re in your forties or older then you may remember some of these, especially if you grew up in the Bay Area, where much of this was broadcast on local channel 2.

Big Time Wrestling

I used to watch this program, hosted by the plaid-sportcoated Hank Renner, on Sunday mornings in my Dad’s “den” — basically a room with a built in bar, lounge chair and ottoman, couch,  pedestal ashtray and large color television. One reason I long for a home built in the seventies is that during those years architects really knew how to blueprint for a proper lifestyle. Who doesn’t want a room dedicated to sitting, smoking, drinking and watching television?

Big Time Wrestling started airing long before I discovered it in the early seventies, but I still think that was the heyday of the series. No matter how lovely the weather, you could guarantee that I would be inside on Sunday morning watching with rapt attention this weekly pastiche of camp theater, personal grudges and flabby action.

Here’s the complete history of the show. And here’s video typical of the time.

“Professional” wrestling still features the same mono-dimensional characters and simplistic story lines. But what I miss about the  seventies version is how out of shape the wrestlers were. Now they’re so pumped up on steroids that they look like assemblages from the local meat counter. The original guys looked like they probably drove a mail truck and ate piles of mashed potatoes and pork chops.

Voice of Agriculture

Even as a child, I was a morning person. Most days I was up long before anyone else in the family was awake, making my way down to the dark den at around 5AM. Before the days of cable, broadcast choices were limited in terms of available programs, especially so during insomniac hours. Most mornings I had a choice of two programs: The English As a Second Language show for speakers of Chinese or this show, Voice of Agriculture.

VOA was an interview format show produced by the American Farm Bureau and typically focused on California’s Central Valley, where agriculture is very, very big. The show’s titles appeared over grainy footage of a gigantic threshing machine in full action. That was the most exciting part of the show. Once the interviews started, I was left to stare, slack-jawed and glassy-eyed over my voluminous bowl of Cap’n Crunch, as the interviewer and interviewee earnestly discussed various farming- and commodity-related matters.

According to this history, the show was later changed to a magazine format. I imagine that made it much more engaging, or at least marginally more interesting than, say, reading the Cornish tide tables or watching mold form on an old orange. It’s still on.

Roller Derby

I saved the best for last. Specifically, women’s roller derby, because the level of tawdry theatrical malice among the female skaters made the men’s events look like a meeting of the local glee club. Here’s a history of the “sport” along with an article about the Bay Area action in particular.

I would probably watch this were it on today. Like English Premier League Soccer, in front of which I spend most Sundays zoned out in a post-long run stupor, the images are hypnotically repetitive and, as such, very relaxing. Yet punctuated with just enough moments of noteworthy action that you’re prevented from dozing off completely.

The fact that I still enjoy watching people moving round and round and round an oval at high speeds under their own steam is perhaps one of the few constants in my personal television viewing history. And any track and field fan will note that, minus the hair-pulling, track racing can be just as dirty and violent. More video typical of the time:

Google search oddities

Today I got one hit from this search string: “korean women are crazy bitches.”

Super. Awesome.

New blog: The Tagliner

I apparently don’t have enough ways to waste my time, so I’ve started yet another new blog, The Tagliner. It’s a place to channel the strange thoughts that enter my mind whenever I’m in a commercially rich atmosphere (this unfortunately includes my own living room when the TV’s on, during most of my workday, and every time I leave my home). I’ve also got some funny, writerly friends whom I hope to cajole into contributing regularly to this newest internet blight.

Since this one’s considerably less labor intensive than is Object Haiku, I hope it won’t go so neglected.

WhyMall?

The trip from our humble domicile to Sacramento was relatively pain-free. But it was long, especially since we decided to pick up our race packets yesterday so we wouldn’t have to deal with it today.

The plan today is to do some shopping for dinner this evening. I’m a control freak (which is probably obvious to anyone who’s read more than three of my posts) and have no interest in attending the giant pasta feeds most races put on. My thought is:  I made it this far without catching a bug; how would I feel if I got food poisoning the night before the race?

The solution is to stay in a place that has at least a fridge and microwave in the room. This time we got lucky and I secured a kitchenette, so I can actually cook. All of this comes in handy for the post-race feed, which involves our lying around in front of the television, consuming all of the “bad” foods (and huge amounts of beer and wine) that we can’t have in any regular or extreme way during training.

Our room is perfect in other ways too. Our bedroom (which is separate from our living area) is backed up to a giant electrical closet, far from the elevators and on the ninth floor. The hotel also made me sign their No Party Policy. In our last hotel, our neighbors were up at 1:30AM watching television and engaging in a discourse over it that was loud enough for me to make out the substance of their exchange. Before that, we shared a wall with what must have been the winners for Loudest Scene at the National Porn Awards.

Anyhoo. Here I am, up early and still on New York time. Despite how incredibly busy work was prior to leaving, I managed to pack everything I needed. I did discover, once on the plane, that while I managed to pack my little computer, I’d stupidly turned it on beforehand. So I had no battery life left. I’d planned to do some writing and editing, and it would have been nice to have had the option of frittering away the 6.5 hours playing mindless games, but it was not to be.

Fortunately, I also brought a book. But I couldn’t dip into that without first engaging in my traditional perusal of the SkyMall catalogue. I can make a game out of this activity: What’s the most expensive item? Least expensive? How many of them make dubious claims based on shoddy science? Are there any that look outright dangerous? That sort of thing.

If I can find something that hits the trifecta — extravagant, unnecessary and inconvenient — well, that’s the winning item. Nothing I found quite hit that lofty mark, although the second one below comes awfully close. Here are the highlights:

“Have you ever wanted to make or receive a phone call underwater?” No, but I’ll bet Ted Kennedy did. For just $1,790 (cell phone not included), you can yammer away underwater with colleagues, family or illicit lovers while diving for clams or engaging in recovery of drowning victims.  “Honey, can you pick up bread on the way home? The dive’s going great, except my tank is…low…glug glug glug…”

“Produce your own water!” For $999 you can have an enormous, hideous contraption (in one of three cheerful primary colors) that — get this — actually makes water. We’re talking seven gallons a day! At just $0.20 per gallon. Or you could do what we do at my house: just turn on one of several taps we have, conveniently located right where we need them; we even have several outside.

Does anyone like bidets? I don’t. I won’t go into crass detail, much as I’d love to, but bidets are just weird. So the idea of buying my very own travel bidet seems like something I’d only do if I wanted to take a great trip abroad and ruin it. I especially appreciate the copywriter’s clever double entendre: “Enjoy the confidence…no matter where you go.” Also: $44.95? I could buy a turkey baster for $9.99 and get the same effect.

And finally, in the “I don’t think we should take the kids to any more barbecues at Bill and Mindy’s house” category, it’s the Zombie of Montclaire Moors statue. I think it speaks for itself. Note: No Rush Delivery!

At the moment, I’m preparing to go out and run 3 miles around Capitol Park, just to see how cold it’s going to feel tomorrow morning. Then it’s a day of list-making, light shopping, an attempt at napping, dinner and early to bed.

Frustration and acceptance: a marathon dream

The following dream is responsible for my only having had six hours of sleep last night. It was worth it.

It’s marathon morning and we’re on the starting line. I wish Jonathan a good race and he heads up to the front while I hang back a few rows.

For some reason, we’re running the race in a third world country that I can’t identify. It’s vaguely Middle Eastern and the entire city seems to be under construction. There is scaffolding and concrete road dividers everywhere, and we can barely hear anything over the constant din of saws, nailguns and jackhammers.

The weather is most notable for its complete absence. Earplugs block hearing. Stuffed sinuses block taste. The weather here has been blocked somehow. It’s simply not there.

The race is about to start. I look down and see that I’m wearing…flipflops. I’ve managed to leave my running shoes and socks upstairs in the room. Well, this won’t do. The race starts and I head back to the lobby of our hotel, a massive tower a few blocks from the start. There’s bank of eight elevators, seven of which are out of order. So I wait for the single working elevator’s arrival. It takes a long time.

Everyone piles in and we make at least 18 stops on the way to our floor. I get my shoes, grab my laptop, and head back to the starting line. Needless to say, no one’s there, although I’m grateful that the start is still apparently open.

My shoes are on and I’m ready to go. Wait a minute. What’s my laptop doing here? Why did I bring this with me? Should I just leave it here? I’m 45 minutes behind schedule. But I paid $400 for this thing. I’m not going to guarantee that it gets stolen when I can reduce the chances of that by at least 50% by bringing it back up to the room.

So up I go again, although this time I take the stairs because I know it will be faster than waiting for a broken elevator. I’ll just treat it as my warmup. In the room, I do a final check in front of the mirror to make sure I have everything I need and nothing I don’t. Check. I head back down the stairs.

I return to the starting line to discover that it’s been moved. So now I wander the streets, looking for race volunteers. I find one who gives me vague instructions: “Left for 100 yards, then catty corner right to the construction lot, look for the portapotties…”

Miraculously, I find it. I look at my watch. The race started exactly two hours ago. Should I even run it? Fuck it. I hit the Start button and go. No matter how well I do the official results will be an embarrassment, as there are no timing mats. But at least I’ll know what I ran.

In the first mile I pass two people: men in head-to-toe dresses, moving at a crawl. Even here in Buttfuckistan, or wherever this is, there are fitness walkers! I realize I’m the only woman I see anywhere, on the course or on the street. I’m wearing my split shorts which, under the right conditions, may as well be a g-string. It occurs to me that this might be one of those countries where women get beaten by strangers and family alike for so much as revealing a bare wrist. But everyone seems cool with my scantily clad self.

I’m running comfortably, passing the odd guy in a dress, when I realize that for the first time ever I’m able to hit all the tangents. I also notice that the organizers have been thoughtful enough to paint a steady line along the course. This is a relief, since, given that the course snakes through a giant construction site, I was figuring it was only a matter of time before I got lost. The line is a soothing green with some blue in it, and it’s rendered brighter against the dull backdrop of steel, concrete and battleship grey of the day’s weatherless skies.

I see the male leader on his way in. Then, about 15 minutes later I spot Jonathan, his form unmistakable: silver haired, floating, fat free. He looks tense and I realize that he’s probably concerned at not having seen me on the course. I’m pained to think that he’s spent most of his race worrying about me.

He spots me just as I pass the 3 mile marker and gives me an OhGodWhatTheHellHappenedToYouThisTime?! look. I smile and give an enthusiastic thumbs up, which manages to make him look even more baffled. Then I start laughing my ass off.

Introducing The Performinator

Have you been frustrated by your inability to accurately predict how you’ll do in your next marathon? Or even know if you’ll finish the damn thing?

Well, wonder no more! Now there’s The Performinator, the first online calculator that can answer that tough question: “Will I be like Happy Paula or Sad Paula next Sunday?”

Click on the image above to see a larger version.

Pretty exciting stuff, huh? If it actually worked, you’d see something like this. The reality, however, is more like this.

And that’s what makes the marathon so exciting and mysterious.

Fear and loathing in Buffalo

I like to research potential marathons on MarathonGuide.com. It’s hard to know what to make of a race when the reviews fall on the extremes of the spectrum. But, in the case of the Buffalo Marathon at least, it can make for some pretty entertaining reading.

Ann Onymous from Rochester, NY writes:
“I signed up for a large shirt; to me, this is an implied contract – I sign up ahead AND PAY MONEY and I get a race and a large shirt (unless I show up last-minute). A t-shirt is not that big a deal (well, on second thought it is – I trained long and hard all winter for this race; it would be nice to have something to show for it, like the women in my group who got shirts). How this has been handled is an issue reflective of the race management – poor. And while I’m on my soap box…. Maybe have a few more than the dozen or so porta-johns for the 2,300 racers at the start area – I’ve not seen as much public urination in my life (well maybe except for the Boilermaker in Utica – but that doesn’t start in a downtown city area).”

I don’t get why people get so outraged about race tee shirts, either when there are only large ones left or none left. I don’t even take shirts anymore since I have so many of them clogging my drawers. If you finish a marathon, you’ve got something to show for it: your finishing time, your bragging rights and your memories. You’ll usually get a cheesey little medal too. As for public urination, she ain’t seen nothin’ until she’s come to New York, Boston or Chicago.

S.N. from West Yorks, England whines:
“The course itself is flat and fast, but crowd support is spread out – there are long periods with very little support, although there are pockets of strong support to lift you.”

Oh, for fuck’s sake. Do your research. You’re running in Buffalo. Buffalo! If you want big crowds, run in West Yorks. Or better yet, Shitterton.

L.W. from Washington, DC reports:
“The course was 0.3 miles too long according to my GPS system (and my husband’s) – even in the first five miles. A third of a mile wreaks havoc on your pace when you’re shooting to complete the race before being asked to move to the sidewalk.”

A GPS reporting .3 miles extra for a marathon is actually very good, considering that it’s nearly impossible to run every single tangent perfectly. More important, how can a course be “too long” in the first five miles? I think my head is going to explode.

J.C. from Pittsburgh exhorts:
“The women runner’s were phenomenal. I was with a group running 8:05′s to 8:15′s that strung me along. Another important rating for this course, all the women runners were 5 stars and some are even good runners!!!”

Oink.

And, finally, there’s this screed that sounds like something out of The Daily Worker. The inscrutably named “m. g. from Parkside with my wage freeze! On ice..” writes, somewhat bafflingly:
“My running partner got hit up for change at mile 25 from some panhandler dude!REALLY! Last bummer: all that was left were loaves of bread and some off-brand diet pop for my post-race party… BREAD AND WATER! HMMM, like I said, the Control Board MUST now have taken over our local road races as well as the economic freedom of the working class! When you see them at the Corporate Challenge in their HUGE tents with catered food and limo service, wave and say hello!”

Will I run Buffalo? I have no fucking idea.

Douchebags! The series

This weekend I watched two recorded iron man triathlon events, one in China and the other in Idaho. People, televised triathlons offer some of the best television comedy you’ll see all season. Here’s what you get:

Announcers and competitors alike who can’t even properly pronounce the name of their own sport. They call it a “triathalon.” Like telethon. Or Toyotathon. Even the winners do this. Imagine if I went on and on about my maronathons?

And speaking of the winners, in triathlons, everyone’s a winner! It doesn’t matter if you cross the finish line first or 401st — they’ll hold up a little tape for you to…

…walk through! Yes, no one actually runs through the tape. After all, it’s only a marathon they’re finishing (which most of us consider a running event). Why run when you can meander through the tape after high-fiving both sides of the crowd for the last 30 meters?

Swimmers, slathered in what appears to be Hellman’s mayonnaise, rolling around in the grass, fighting to get their wetsuits off, sometimes with the aid of mysteriously enthusiastic volunteers. Bicyclists throwing up prodigiously while maintaining a steady 25mph speed.* Runners walking. And walking. And walking. Did you know that you can walk a lot in a triathlon and still win?

Textbook instruction on bad running form. Triathletes run like they’ve got giant staples in their backs. Bunched shoulders, arms held way out at 45 degrees from the body, no stride length. No wonder they’re too exhausted to run by the halfway point.

Even better, the coverage seems specifically designed to make the competitors look like douchebags. In the mini profiles, they’re shot from below, told to cross their arms and look like mean badasses. Then they’re forced to refer to themselves in the third person: “What does it take to beat Julie Threlkeld? The ability to swim.”

Best of all, I now understand how the average non-running viewer looks at televised marathons. The tedium. The suffering. The pointlessness of it all. We’re all douchebags in someone’s eyes.

*Unfortunately, there was no Technicolor spewing in either of these two particular events. You need to wait for the hot weather events for that.

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