Monthly Archives: April 2012

Lehigh Valley Half Marathon Race Recap

Today, as I hang up my seventh (!) Lehigh Valley Half Marathon medal, I am limping. It may be for several reasons.

1. The giant hill added to the middle of the race course this year (literally to the middle – you got your halfway split halfway up the hill). Allegedly the hill was added to keep participants from being crushed by a falling stone wall. Personally, I would have preferred to take my chances with being crushed – it would have added a little bit of a spring to my step, at least.

2. Possibly I am limping because I ran my personal third fastest time on the course (1:27:23) – which isn’t bad, given my advancing years, and the cloudless day that made 60 degrees feel like 85, and the aforementioned (new) giant hill.

3. Or perhaps I am limping because immediately following the race we went to Abby’s 4th birthday party, at the Bounce U(niversity), whereupon I bounced, slid, and obstacle-coursed for an hour, making sure to beat every four year old that challenged me.

All in all, it was a good day, even if I am paying for it with a nice, sharp calf tightness today.

Some race highlights;
1. High-fiving Kathleen Jobes and Budd Coates at the starting line, then not seeing them after the gun went off, except for small, Budd and Kathleen shaped puffs of dust in the distance.
2. Running miles 2-8 or 9 with High School Mucus Hole, better known to the crowds lining the course as “Katie”. “Who the hell is Katie?” I said, several times. I also told her I was used to being the fastest hasher by a good ten minutes. “Not today!” she panted.
3. Steve and Jon fell off the back of the 1:30 pack before it even made the turn around, but still managed respectable finishes.
4. Liz and Madeline, with Courtney and Aubrey and Hailey, made it out for the finish, arriving just in time to see me enter the stadium, holding my arms amusingly high.
5. After the race, Madeline and I shared the world’s best orange, and then I juggled three other oranges for her – and then she tried to juggle, but really just threw the oranges onto the ground.
6. Coming into the stadium for the finish, I yelled at a runner who was wearing headphones. “Listen to the crowd! Listen to your breathing! Enjoy the day!” Good advice at all times, really.
7. Speaking of crowds, there was a large contingent manning the approach to the covered bridge. I was running alone at that point, and got a huge cheer by raising my arms as I ran through them. Felt like my own personal Wellesley, but made up out of old people in coats, not college women.

A good day, and I signed up for The Wild Half the next day – while still limping. Half marathons are fun.

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Bad Running Shoe Names

Inspired by a brief conversation about New Balance’s running shoe naming conventions with my Runner’s World coworkers (wherein they decided it was possible to have bad running shoe names that weren’t just semi-random numbers), I have decided to compile a list of potential bad running shoe names.

1. K-Swiss Kwicky Blade Light (This shoe name exists, and is the basis of my contention that no name, no matter how terrible, cannot end up as a legitimate running shoe name, freely printed on boxes that are supposed to be sold as real products to real consumers, real consumers who will have to go into real stores and really say out-loud “I would like to see the Kwicky Blade Lights, please.  Also, it sounds like a Chinese knock-off Lightsaber.)

2. Altra Zero Drop: The Wall

3. Nike 5:40s (Based on my “marathon” Nikes – the 2:40s.  5:40s would be only available in purple.)

4. Based on all the shoes named after racing/training words – Adidas Tempos, Brooks PureCadence, Saucony Grid FastTwitch- I offer to you, the Reebok SideStitch

5. Vibram Five Fingers

Micro-Micro Review: Hunger Games (Film)

Really short Micro-Review, because I’m pressed for time.
Saw The Hunger Games in the theatres, on it’s fourth (or so) weekend.  Late enough in the box-office run for a family of five (including an infant in a stroller(!)) to feel comfortable going to see it.  I hate movie theatres and people.

Casting: Excellent, and will define how the characters look and act, in my mind.  Plus, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, which I didn’t realize until the credits rolled, and who made me actually like that character, who I didn’t really like in the book.

Filming: Really well done – maybe too green?  Is green in nowadays for films?

The two trouble spots I was worried about before going into the film: 1. The flaming costumes in the entrance parade were fine, and not (too) ridiculous.  2. The muttations at the end, the dogs, were ridiculous, but I think the director knew it, as he kept the scene short and mercifully dark.  Also, the whole time they were on the screen I couldn’t help but think of Rick Moranis’s line (as Louis Tulley from Ghostbusters) “Alright, who brought the dog?”

4 out of 5 screaming children who are way too young for a film about kids who kill other kids.

Micro Review: Fletch (film)

First off, from all available information, Chevy Chase is a dick.

This is observable in the reactions of anyone who has ever worked with him has had, his interesting public behavior, and the fact that he doesn’t appear in the “making of” documentary for Fletch, even though he’s cited it as his best loved role.

Why is this important in a micro-review of Fletch, the 1985 film?  Because Chevy Chase is a charming dick, and he is at his best when he is playing a charming dick on the small or large screens.

Irwin Fletcher, better known as “Fletch”, is also a charming dick, so that’s fortunate.

It’s strange to watch a cult classic film from 1985, nearly 30 years later.  It almost feels like watching a period piece that gets it exceptionally correct with all the little details, like the Coors can that Fletch drinks out of, but doesn’t dwell on them like a movie that is merely set 30 years ago would.  (Other strange details that pop out to a Watcher From The Future; the cars are all short.  There are no SUVs or minivans on the streets.  The televisions are all tiny.  The lady’s hair is all HUGE.)

Fletch is an amusing movie, but not drop dead funny.  Very quotable, though, which explains why I recognized some ten or twenty lines as they were said.  But more than the banter is Chevy Chase’s gift for physical comedy.  There’s a bit where he gets his head stuck in a hanging lamp that is delightfully underplayed.

The plot is a nice combination of whodunit and intrigue sprinkled with opportunities for Chevy to goof around.  It reminded me of the flavor of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Fletch really holds up, even for those people who have never seen it, and don’t have rose-colored glasses on.  Four out of five proctologist’s fingers.

The Hunger Games Micro Review

First, before the Micro Review, a word about Micro Reviews in general.

Basically, I’ve decided to review the films and books that I take in over the course of this year.  This will help my memory, a major point of this blog.  I have already forgotten whether or not I finished reading Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver series of books.  If I had a micro-review policy in place when I was reading them, I could simply search my site, and learn that I did, in fact, read them, and scored them 4 out of 5 Half-Cocked pirates.  (This is an example, and not my real score for the books.  I can’t remember if I even finished them, much less what I would score them.)

So, on to the Hunger Games Micro Review (of the novel)!

I read The Hunger Games in one day, in a paperback edition that I picked up at Walmart, off an endcap, during the second week of the movie release.  Besides the reading it in one day facet, I believe that my Walmart-based experience is entirely typical of the Hunger Games reader nowadays.  It is probably fortunate that I read the book in one day, at home, thus I didn’t have to take it out in public anywhere.  My 12 year old cousin was reading the sequel at Easter, you know.  Basically, what I’m saying is that there is a significant social pressure against a thirty year old man who considers himself educated to not read the Hunger Games.
(Oddly, I don’t feel the same societal pressure against going to see the movie, eventually.  Odd.  Probably a hangover from when I was ten and reading in general was frowned upon by certain peers – except for Jurassic Park, which every single boy in fifth grade in 1991 read.  We all rued the fact that Timmy was switched in age (and competency) with Lex for the movie- but we also were oddly pleased with the switch as well.  Or at least our hormones were.)

Did I enjoy the novel?  Yes.  Did I resent myself for enjoying the novel?  A little bit.  I had to turn off the hard sci-fi part of my brain that wanted explanations for just how many people live in Panem, how there was a running cross-continental railroad still working after world wars, global warming and a post-apocalyptic rebellion, indignation with Tracker Jackers and the wolf mutts (why would a society that can genetically engineer those things still be dependent upon hand-maintained agriculture is beyond me).  Also, the Hunger Game’s arena was a bit too controlled by the game masters.  They can drain all the sources of water?  Really?

However, the story was rollicking (a word that only seems to be used in reviews), and drug me along.   I found myself liking Katniss, even though she was hardly a perfect likable character.  There wasn’t too much of the ‘ohmigawd, he really likes me’ that can overwhelm fiction written primarily for tweenage girls.  It was certainly convenient how Katniss, despite being thrown into a death arena with 23 other competitors, only had to personally kill two, and only one with a name (who just happened to be a sadistic psychopath).

The story ends on a bit of a cliffhanger – but it’s a cliffhanger that concerns Katniss’s love life, and not really the action or setting of the books, so it wasn’t one that absolutely demanded that I pick up the second book immediately.  My wife, however, and millions of other women and girls (I imagine) felt compelled to do so.

4 out of 5 arrows to the throat.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Micro Review

The opening of the movie was fun. By the time Penelope Cruz showed up, I had started checking my phone for Twitter and Facebook updates. That checking stopped during the mermaid scene, which was fantastic. Then it started up again, afterwards (it just started up! I had no control!)

3 out 5 scary mermaids.

Scream 4 Micro Review

The Nano-review: 5 out of 5 stars.
The Micro-review: If you were old enough to see Scream, Scream 2 and Scream 3 in the theater without an adult accompanying you, but you were still young enough to be carded, you will enjoy Scream 4.
It has:
Wes Craven directing.
Kevin Williamson(!) writing.
The best opening scene of any movie. Name one that’s better, I dare you.
An incredibly uncomfortable amount of shared screen time between David Arquette and Courtney Cox (Arquette^H^H^H^H^H).

It does not have:

I didn’t expect to love this movie. Netflix thought I would like it three stars. It didn’t do super-well at the box office. Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is starting to look a little… old, sadly. And the young stars look too… young, dammit! Get off my lawn, which I have to mow tonight, in my own little house in the suburbs that looks like the one that I lived in when Scream 1 came out, but now I don’t live with my parents, thank god.

However, the movie is hilarious, and keeps referencing movies that I used to watch, back when I was a kid and my whole life lay before me.

I guess that’s what gets it two additional stars?