Saturday, October 24, 2009

Everything's Gone Green

As you can tell from the list to your right, there was a time, not so long ago, when I was "running" in 5K races quite regularly, and getting a little better and quicker with each race. But for a few reasons, not the least of which I thought it ridiculous to take part in these runs in my ever-present state of fattiness, struggling to finish faster than the people with strollers or those who were clearly in worse shape than me, I gave up, turning my sights to getting in better shape by making better food choices and eating like a healthy person and getting to the gym at least four times a week - hoping to eventually get back to running outside.

But since the Sun-Times was a sponsor of the annual Notebart Nature Museum "Go Green" 5K and any employee who wanted to take part could run in it without having to pay the $35 entrance fee, I decided 'what the hell' and gave it a shot. I'd been running on the treadmill at the gym more regularly and thought maybe I wouldn't look too ridiculous out there. I told myself my first goal was to run without having to stop and walk the course, and secondly to finish in a reasonably respectable time.

Getting to Lincoln Park after my overnight shift, I found a parking spot on Clark Street, about three-quarters of a mile from the race site along Lake Michigan and thought I may as well pump $1.75 worth of quarters into the Daley 2016 Chicago Olympics Memorial parking pay box, since there was no way I'd run the race then get back to the car within an hour and a half.

The race apparently began a few minutes early and when I got to the starting line, a fella poked his out from a tent (it was raining lightly) asked if I was just starting and said, "You'll get a gun time," and I nodded and said, "That's fine," as if I understood the runner's lingo. But I looked at my super slim (the only time you'll see "I" and "super slim" in the same sentence) Nike running watch and saw it was 5 minutes after the hour, so I thought I'll just keep my time this way.

I lasted about three minutes before it felt as if someone had whacked me across the thighs with a baseball bat. I was relatively alone among runners though, since everyone else got an earlier start than me, and thought to myself that I can't stop now, I have to at least get to within spitting distance of the slow pokes before I stop and walk. Which is what I did. As soon as I caught up to a few walkers, I thought I could stop and start walking. But there was no way I'd walk the rest of the way, so after a couple minutes I started jogging again. I followed this run, walk, run, no way I'm gonna let this other fatty finish in front of me, run, there's the 2-mile mark, I can't breathe, I have to walk now, I can't look at this fat ass in front of me, run, walk routine the rest of the way.

After the first mile I looked at my watch and figured I was running an 11- to 12-minute mile. No way. At the gym, my pace is about 14 minutes a mile. That gave me inspiration to not walk all the way. At times it rained a little harder, the gravel along the lake was a bit muddy at times, but I managed to get myself into the pack and before long, I saw the sign that said "Mile 3" so I decided then that I'd kick it up a bit and not stop until I crossed the finish line.

I ran across the finish line and saw the official time was 48 minutes. I looked at my watch and it was 42 minutes past 9, meaning I had "run" it in 37 minutes. I was thrilled. Thrilled to be a slow runner, since I had hoped merely to finish within about 50 minutes. This was not my fastest 5K time, but then I have not run in a 5K in a year and it's been just about that long since I've run outside at all. UPDATE: According to the "official results" that I got e-mailed to me Monday morning, my chip was apparently working, and my official time was 36:01 -- a minute faster than I thought! Yeay, me. Even better than I thought. Of course, I'm thinking, "Damnit, if only I had run for just a few seconds more before stopping to walk, my time would have been under 36 minutes! Oh well, gives me a goal to shoot for next year!

So what now? Keep on training, keep on working out, don't eat like a pig and maybe next year I'll be in good enough shape so that I will be able to run a 10K, and who knows ... can a half-marathon be that far behind?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Meet ya at the Cattle Call, cowboy?

Charlie's. Jo-Jo's. The Double Eagle. The Longhorn. Captain's.

Are they gay bars? Or are they steakhouses?

You'll have to go to steakhouseorgaybar to find out. A simple, possibly stupid, way to waste a bunch of time just clicking on either possible answer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

With Friends Like These ...

Once again, this week I've been thinking about the nature of the Facebook Friend. I'm almost embarrassed to sound like a 15-year-old girl (or would that be an 18-year-old, since the 15-year-olds are all on myspace?) to waste time thinking about this, but what's the point of the whole Facebook friend thing if your 'friends' aren't really friends in the first place or if they turn on you because of the toxic political environment we're immersed in these days?

I've already had one big huge blowup with a former (real) friend who became my Facebook friend but whose political rants (e.g., 'it's raining out today, i guess the messiah obama could not make the sun shine 24 hours a day!') got to be absurd and tiresome and whose hatred of our President was so deep and intense that she became a vile, hateful, ugly person on my facebook page. Not only did I knock her off my page but I never want to see or hear anything about her ever again.

She had a pal who is also a Facebook friend of mine who also is a part of the whole teabagger, 'there's Marxists running amok in the hall of the White House!' types, but I have not kicked him off my FB page because he isn't that 24 hours a day -- maybe like 20, but not 24 hours a day. He also posts things related to street fairs he's going to or where he's biking or running and he can comment on say, a goofy news story or something I post without resorting to blaming Obama.

But then there are still people such as the guy I went to grammar school with, who I last saw I think in 7th grade, who 'friended' me, wrote me maybe one note that said hello and urged me to read Ayn Rand, but after a while the only time he'd check in with me would be to criticize something I said or to LOL at me and the rest of the liberals. The last thing he posted on my page began with "You liberals make me laugh," called me some sort of a hypocrite and it really bugged me, because I'm like, 'why the f should i care what some guy i haven't even seen in person for like 30 years says to me, not even to my face?' Then there's the guy who I'm not even sure if I've ever said anything to, who may have been a member of the same group of youngish Italians I was in awhile back, who has commented on my page maybe three times, and each time has been to counter something I've said about the need for healthcare insurance reform, or to rebut some assertion I made that illustrated how backwards and ridiculous Republicans have become in the past few years. It's one thing to disagree with me and say so, but if that's the only thing you do -- if you don't even click on the 'like' button when i post a picture of cute puppies or a grammar school choir singing Beyonce songs, why are you even here? Do you actually consider me a 'friend?' because I surely don't think you're acting like one.

Then there's the guy who posted hateful, spiteful things on the Steve and Johnnie Show FB page, and when I made a witty comment about how he's more obsessed with the WGN latenight radio duo than any of their actual fans, he took the time to go to my FB page, read my info, then go back to the Steve and Johnnie page and tell me I was stupid and he hoped I lose my job at the Sun-Times. He was soon thereafter kicked off the Steve and Johnnie show page, but he seems to have revisited them on Monday night, only this time he created a fake FB profile that was very close to theirs -- something like "Steve _ Johnnie _ Show," copied a picture of them for the public picture and then went onto their real page and acting as if he was them, said "Our show has been cancelled." Yeah, what a prick.

What drives people to be like this? If someone actually does not like you, and can't stand to hear you say something without telling you how stupid it is and how deluded you are, are they your 'friend'? If they only say something to you when you've said something they don't like, are they your 'friend'? If people who are your Facebook friends did anything in the 'real' world like what they did on Facebook, would they be your friends? Would they be arrested? Would they be shunned by all good, decent people? If people really need to say something, they should get a blog. It's free, and they can say whatever they want. And they can stay the hell away from me.

Haters Welcome Here

So, the Catholic Church, in an effort to attract people whose favorite word is "no" and who generally can't stand anyone who questions decrees handed down by bitter men, is reaching out to Anglicans who are just not having the acceptance of gays and women their church has been exercising lately.

The Rat's minions this week have announced that Anglicans who have a problem with the liberal leanings of their church can join the Catholics -- no questions asked, no contract, or credit check required.

The Rat's plan "reflects a really bold determination by Rome to seize the moment and do what it can to reach out to those who share its stance on women priests and homosexuality," said Ian Markham, dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary, an Episcopal seminary in Alexandria. Its stance? What stance? Burning at the stake?

I'm surprised the Catholic Church is not setting up recruiting booths at Teabagger rallies. This comes not too long after the Church seems to be reversing its longheld stance on the importance of healthcare reform, because of its obsession with abortion. Yep, they would rather that healthcare reform fail and millions continue to be denied care and access than the medical procedure of abortion even be acknowledged.

Me thinks the Church might want to address the matter of disillusioned Catholics before they start macking on other religions' followers.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our President, the Writer

A fascinating, inside baseball-y look at President Obama as a writer, and the process behind his speeches, in GQ magazine. (Yeah, I know! GQ!) Particularly interesting is what happened to lead up to his big speech on race last spring.

"When the subject isn’t policy but Obama’s personal values, says Frankel, 'you just wouldn’t presume to write something for him. He has thoughts nobody can characterize.'

This was especially true last March 13, when the incendiary sermons of Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, blew up all over the cable networks. On that Thursday, Obama had spent the entire day and evening in the Senate. That Friday, after enduring a series of tough interviews, Obama informed Axelrod and campaign manager David Plouffe, “I want to do a speech on race.” And he added, “I want to make this speech no later than next Tuesday. I don’t think it can wait.” Axelrod and Plouffe tried to talk him into delaying it: He had a full day of campaigning on Saturday, a film shoot on Sunday, and then another hectic day campaigning in Pennsylvania on Monday. Obama was insistent. On the Saturday-morning campaign conference call, Favreau was told to get to work on a draft immediately. Favreau replied, “I’m not writing this until I talk to him.”

That evening, Saint Patrick’s Day, less than seventy-two hours before the speech would be delivered to a live audience, Favreau was sitting alone in an unfurnished group house in Chicago when the boss called. “I’m going to give you some stream of consciousness,” Obama told him. Then he spoke for about forty-five minutes, laying out his speech’s argumentative construction. Favreau thanked him, hung up, considered the enormity of the task and the looming deadline, and then decided he was “too freaked out by the whole thing” to write and went out with friends instead. On Sunday morning at seven, the speechwriter took his laptop to a coffee shop and worked there for thirteen hours. Obama received Favreau’s draft at eight that evening and wrote until three in the morning.

He hadn’t finished by Monday at 8 a.m., when he set the draft aside to spend the day barnstorming across Pennsylvania. At nine thirty that night, a little more than twelve hours before the speech was to be delivered, Obama returned to his hotel room to do more writing. At two in the morning, the various BlackBerrys of Axelrod, Favreau, Plouffe, and Jarrett sounded with a message from the candidate: Here it is. Favs, feel free to tweak the words. Everyone else, the content here is what I want to say. Axelrod stood in the dark reading the text: 'The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made.… But what we know—what we have seen—is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope—the audacity to hope—for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.'

He e-mailed Obama: This is why you should be president."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why I Love the Belmont Barbers

I've bounced around a handful of haircut places over the past decade -- from Gabby's to Big Hair to Lather to Foam to Rinse and Repeat ;) ... but I think I have settled upon the Belmont Barbers, at Belmont and Western in Chicago, just down the block from the Belmont Area police headquarters. What I tell people when I want to say what the experience is like in a nutshell, is that it's as if the Holiday Club had branched out into a barber shop. There are big black and white pictures of the Rat Pack on the walls, along with vintage 1950s hair product ads and some hair products that seem like they're from that time, as well. There's a pool table, a nice comfy leather sofa, coffee and a little fridge with cans of beer if you get there early for your appointment, and the barbers are of the multi-tattooed Rockabilly sort, who often can be heard talking about vintage cars and motorcycles.

The other thing that endears the place to me (besides that I can get a great cut for $20, tip included) is that when I sit in the chair that's older than me, and the guy about to cut my hair asks me what I want, I can point to the above picture, which they have on their wall, of Elvis getting his hair cut when he enlisted in the Army, and I can come away with something pretty darn close to it, and something which only gets better two and three weeks after it's cut.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Where the 'Boys' Are?

A news story (which should not have been news in the first place but that's another matter altogether) contained the term "Boystown" in its lede, to refer to the North Side neighborhood in Chicago that is the hub of the city's (and dare I say the Midwest's) gay community.

I cringed, groaned and wished for a reason to update the story so that I could change "Boystown" to "Lakeview neighborhood," which it should have been. I can't stand that term, "Boystown." I have hated it since I was a young Leftie rabble rouser in college, when I first heard it used by a well-meaning fellow Leftie at a conference of Lefties at a Midwestern college. (That in itself was something, actually, with the GLBTs in one room and the non-gays -- at the time at least -- in another, and I think the point of the session was to figure out how to be more GLBT-sensitive and inclusive, etc.) One of the leaders of the group in the non-gay room (yes, that's where I was) tried to explain to the other Midwesterners how things were in Chicago, and led off by saying, "In Chicago, we've got a neighborhood called 'Boystown,' ..." That in itself made me want to run straight into the gay room.

The term has, to the best of my memory, been used casually, as a nickname, but never officially, and never as something that would appear in a newspaper (or news Web site). But lately use of the term has grown, I've noticed, and its become a de facto designation of the area. And, for the most part, I hate it. I hate it mainly because it reduces a group of people to mascots and circus clowns, as it every gay was "Jack" from "Will and Grace." Bestowing such a term on a neighborhood allows others to look at and treat its residents like children, and not adults. We don't use terms like "Jew Town" to refer to certain neighborhoods anymore -- and that is a good thing -- so why do people use a term like this? To show how cool or "with it" or not square they are? Puh-lease.

I realize that neighborhoods have often been referred to by the national origins of its residents, such as Little Italy or Greektown, etc., but none of these have the connotation of "Boystown." When you refer to people as "boys," you dismiss them as not worthy of the adult table, and deserving only of a ghetto. When you say Chelsea or The VIllage or The Castro to identify a neighborhood, you and the person you're addressing have an idea of what the demographic makeup of the residents is, so you don't need to use an insulting term such as "Boystown." If someone in Chicago really wants to make sure someone else realizes that the area they're talking about is the "gay" area, why not just say "Halsted Street," or "North Halsted," and then, "nudge, nudge, say no more, you know what I mean???"