November 30, 2009

Running for my life

Diane: Our relationship was a two-way street.
Frasier: Yes, and I was run over in both directions.
- Cheers, "Dinner at Eight-ish" (1987)

While back on the East Coast for Thanksgiving, I thought I'd go out for a pre-turkey jog around the neighborhood - you know, to preemptively work off some of the holiday calories. That's just my typical holiday m.o.*

So it's Thursday morning and I'm all geared up, complete with black Brooks running tights (subtle product plug and possibly disturbing visual image), ready to run. But my dad catches my attention. How nice, I think, he's going to give me a pre-Thanksgiving-pre-run pep talk.

Well, almost.

"This former colleague of mine - someone who was really respected in his field - was at a conference in Florida** a few years ago," he tells me. "One morning, he went out jogging, a few hours before he was supposed to give a presentation."

What are the chances this story doesn't end well?

"Several hours went by and he didn't show up, so his wife called the police. Turns out that he was jogging along a narrow road. One car pulled over to let him by, but the next driver sped up to pass, and the car hit him. Killed him instantly."

How's that for a pep talk?

"Awesome, Dad. Thanks for the inspiration."

And with that, I set out on the winding, rain-slicked roads near my parents' house, hoping mainly to avoid becoming the future subject of another of my father's similarly uplifting stories.


The previous day, I had received a cell phone message from Greg, a long-lost friend who was, without question, the funniest person I met during four years of college. Hearing his voicemail reminded me of one of his most memorable - if not most tasteful - quotes from back then.

Fittingly for today's post, it also had something to do with a run.

Greg and I were with a handful of friends, watching our college basketball team play against an overmatched opponent. During one stretch, our team was outscoring the opposition pretty handily. One of the guys in our group shouted, "I smell a run!"

Without skipping a beat, Greg yelled back, "Get your head out of your pants!"

* That, sleeping 10 hours a night, and spending most of my other waking hours sitting on a couch.
** The conference might have been in a less-crappy location than Florida, but I really wasn't paying too close attention.

November 18, 2009

Passed tents

I went to bed wearing my earbuds last night - probably not great for my otological health - and a Michael Penn song, Strange Season, came on the iPod. The very first line of the song is: This story is past tense.

Maybe because it was 12:30 a.m., I started fixating on the lyrics, and I decided it would be a pretty great idea to write the homonyms for the last two words, "passed tents," on my left palm.

I thought that phrase would be a great name for... I don't know, something. Perhaps I could use it as the title of my next smooth jazz album or maybe I'd start a retail chain that sells deceased camping equipment. Then, I quickly remembered that I sort of suck at the soprano sax - and, for that matter, I haven't even recorded my first smooth jazz record - and that I have less than no interest in rugged outdoor sports.

So I decided I'd use it as the headline for a blog post. Which worked out great, except that - as you've noticed if you're still reading this - I really didn't have an interesting story to go along with my new clever headline.

Just so this isn't a total waste, I'll post a few photos from last weekend, when the world's best gift-giver, my gorgeous and hilarious wife,* treated me to a weekend in Hermosa Beach for my 74th birthday.**

Please pause and enjoy - I snapped 'em just for you.

* Damn, I'm lucky.
** Or something like that.

November 11, 2009

Stay with someone you hate

I just got a promotional email from a hotel in Santa Barbara where the world's most beautiful wife and I have stayed a few times. Nice place and a great location, just across the street from the beach in one of the most picturesque towns in the land.

I guess the hotel is under new management or something because I noticed a new corporate logo at the bottom left of the message:

You could click on the image to blow it up, but I'll save you the trouble. The logo in question is for a firm called JRK Hotel Group.

I'm not one to make fun of names of people - although I still don't get why Mr. and Mrs. Gaga couldn't come up with anything better than "Lady" for their ubertalented daughter. But unlike most men and women, companies usually have a chance to pick names that don't suck. So I have less compunction about occasionally mocking a corporate moniker.

Maybe JRK is the monogram of the company founder. Or maybe the firm was started by three dudes named ... oh, I don't know, Jeremy, Rossifer and Keyshawn. And maybe Keyshawn lost a bet and his initial had to go last, which is why they couldn't name it KJR Hotel Group.

Point is: I look at the email, at the logo, at the website, and I can't get "Jerk Hotels" out of my mind. Why would I want to stay at a Jerk Hotel? Would you?

It's possible I'm overthinking this.

November 9, 2009

Uneasy lies the head

If you're thinking about auditioning for American Idol or whatever the equivalent show is in England*, I have some important advice.

If you make it to the finals, there will be physical consequences. There's indisputable proof that one of the unfortunate results of shooting to stardom on a nationally televised singing contest is that your head gets bigger. I mean, it swells to the point that your neck alone is simply unable to hold it up.

Visual evidence comes in the form of the covers of the latest CDs by two recent singing sensations. Witness:

(Susan Boyle, from whatever that British show is)

I guess the only good news is that in some cases, singers only need one hand (usually the right) to keep their heads from falling over in all of their pop-star glory.

(Adam Lambert, on a cover that could only have been designed in the early 1980s)

It even applies to the previous generation of Idols.

(Carrie Underwood, going with the palm)

Apparently, Carrie Underwood is one of the fortunate ones, able to provide adequate head support with but a single hand. I assume she had exercises - like maybe taking a Louisville Slugger to both head lights and slashing holes in in all four tires - that helped her avoid the dreaded Boyle two-handed lift.

* I think it's Ye Olde British Idole, but I'm too lazy to look it up.

November 6, 2009

Clothes make the (dead) man

A tip of the cap to loyal reader Highland Park Attorney, who sent me this rather strange tidbit about a dead Brazilian guy showing up at his own memorial service.

Alive, as it turns out.

It's the first time I've ever heard of someone actually acting out the cliche, "He'd be late for his own funeral."

I especially enjoyed the reporter's observation that "[the dead guy] did not get word about his own funeral until it was already happening Monday morning." Right. That must be such an awkward conversation to have with someone. I mean, I don't think Hallmark makes a card for notifying loved ones that they are deceased.

Aside from that, it made me feel incredibly grateful to live in a place where (I assume*) medical examiners identify dead bodies using clues other than being "dressed in similar clothing," as the police spokesman put it.

* I assume this because of the 37 different CSI: shows on TV. And Castle.

November 5, 2009

Two delicious

In past posts, I've both poked fun at Baskin-Robbins and paid well-deserved respects to the company's founder.

That's a lot of SFTC love, especially when you consider that I'm lactose intolerant and probably shouldn't really be eating a whole lot of frozen dairy desserts.

But it's possible that this is one of the 12 best food ideas ever. In fact, it might rank even higher than the Taco Bell Double-Decker Taco among foodstuffs that combine closely related items of awesomeness.*

Now I need to get my mom to come up with a comparable invention so I can combine her obscenely delicious pumpkin chiffon pie and chocolate bourbon pecan pie into a single dessert item when I'm home for Thanksgiving. It could happen.

* Also high on the list of foods not to eat immediately after consuming Double-Decker Tacos. Which, come to think of it, is a pretty long list.