Thursday, December 29, 2011

Here We Go Again

35th Anniversary Fifth Third River Bank Run

Another year, another attempt at securing a free entry to the race. I expanded on an incident that happened last April 2:

After one crazy experience last year, there almost wasn't a first time...

Having been indoors all winter, I optimistically showed up for a training run at the Y downtown. Doing 2+ miles on the treadmill and track, I thought I'd be in great shape to keep my own with the rest of the 5k-ers.

When I arrived, I was surrounded by lean, toned, bright-eyed people eating gel and radiating health while I stood there in a hoodie and a pair of clearance sneakers. I was immediately shy and self-conscious of calling myself a runner among the gazelles.

I set out to join the others at the start. The first song on my playlist? "Ship of Fools" by World Party - I had loaded the wrong playlist! While shuffling to a good song, I notice one toned ass after another pass me by.

And I was passed by EVERYBODY.
I slipped on a manhole cover.
I stepped in dog doo.
I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk in front of Parkway Tropics.
I pratfalled on a piece of garbage.
I was chased by a dog.
I was mocked by passersby as the early spring mist turned my curly hair into a mushroom cloud of frizz.

Getting an attitude, I looked at the looming stop sign and thought "Forget it, I'm turning around up there and going back!"

Then it dawned on me, I had made it to the halfway point. Suddenly, everything changed.

People waved.
Playful canines barked hello.
Obstacles became points where I could leap.
I found "One Little Victory" by Rush on the iPod, and it carried me home.

Inside, organizers congratulated me on being the first 5k finisher. Beaming, I hung out to enjoy a bagel and juice when the realization came to me that I was the ONLY 5k-er to attempt and complete the training run.

RBR yard sign in hand, I managed to walk out to my car a little bit taller with a little bit of swagger. Wasn't pretty, but I proved to myself that I could do it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 resolution: joy. Oh, and other stuff.

Oh yes, it's that time of year again. I'm optimistic about the idea of setting new year's resolutions because I have been very successful in completing my goals! I can be stubborn like Calvin above, but I like the idea of setting myself up to achieve.

Overall, the most important word for me in 2012 is going to be JOY. Like an internal drill sergant barking orders, my brain is going be to in full "So you're not happy? GET HAPPY!" mode. I've just had too many moments this year when situations and circumstances have sucked the joy right out of me and it has to stop.

What else?
Pass Gold MIF - for adults, it's the last moves test in the structure before you slide over to standard track with the kids. It also qualifies me as a gold medalist with US Figue Skating. Given my weak freestyle skills, it may be my only chance to earn a national-level gold and I'm going for it. Best move: power circles. Worst move: brackets.

Compete at Adult Nationals - What?! No medal aspirations!? Well, yes but the target for this ANs is to have FUN! I missed last year, which genuinely sucked; there's nothing worse than missing out on the party. I'm not going to compete in silver free this year since I'm not quite ready, but I'm planning on doing both artistic/dramatic and comedy, taking Bette and the Lunchlady to Chicago. Best move: ass-slapping choreography for Mrs. S. Joseph, long stroking moves for Bette.

1,000 Pieces of Art - ArtPrizing with Cara will be such an adventure and a glorious attempt to not only honor Geno, but stretch our abilities. I'm already at 580, so 420 left to go. Best pieces so far: the acrylic painting series.

Back on the Good Eats Bandwagon - So I let this whole pre-diabetes thing get away from me. I've been reasonably good in terms of fast food, french fries and soda pop, but I think other carbs like pasta and bread have gotten away from me. I'm overdue for some tests, so I think a stern visit with the family doctor will get me back on track.

Train Like a 5K - I have a schedule conflict, in that I committed myself to judge a competition and test session the same day at the 5/3 River Bank Run. But Michelle wants me to train for a 5K because she likes the confidence and body awareness I have had after running. So, I will train as if I were running, and leave it up to fate if I find an event to compete in.

Honey do! - Making lists of chores to accomplish around the house to help me get things accomplished. I'm such a line crosser, that I get great satisfaction out of writing it down, then scribbling it out. Think I'm kidding, I spent the afternoon touching up paint on the kitchen walls then scrubbing down cabinets. After getting the new floor, I want that room to GLEAM.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Typing Out Loud: "Winning" the war on Christmas

Bend your knees and quit looking down!

So the Christmas show as last week, and in an effort to keep the Christ in Christmas but not drape myself in tinsel or earnestness, I chose to skate to George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord." It's George Harrison! It's a song with a hippie vibe as well as a little gospel soul. And I was able to wear a stunning sheer electric blue tunic with red embroidery that I got at the thrift store for like a nickel. I got many positive comments, and Bex and Leslie think I should keep it for interp. Hm, a joyous artistic/dramatic that isn't heavy nor a generic female ballad. This could happen...

Will completed his studies with Wellerwood School, which is a pretty heady statement about his hour of fingerpaints and snack time. It is significant because he is leaving a program meant for children who are 50% or behind in their development to a pre-school program in the Comstock Park school district for kids who need a little help. This meant we had to say goodbye to Miss Felicia, who was an excellent home school teacher. We have been so lucky in terms of excellent resources for ensuring our boy get all the help he needs to have a chance in life.

I managed to get all the Christmas shopping done by December 11, sticking to budget and getting things packed and ready to ship to Texas. We were not going to have a repeat of shoving crap in a box at the last minute and paying $100 to get it there. And no panicking for last-minute stuff. And no mall.

The only thing that has been a challenge is scheduling the installation of our new flooring in the house. The linoeum in the kitchen was a sorry mess that managed to get filthy about 10 minutes after mopping. We chose of light burnt gold tile that makes the kitchen glow. Oh, it's gorgeous. It now makes everything else look shabby... We are getting carpet in the bedroom and family room this week, so we have some cleaning and hauling to do prior to Thursday. We are also going to explore the incredible world of adhesive tiles for the laundry room and go pick out some new carpet for the dining room and library.

And thankfully, dad is doing well. We had a scare with his heart, but the doctors are assuring us that all is well for now, and gave him and my mom clearance to go to Florida for the rest of the winter. The whole scene was an unfortunate taste of what it is to be an adult child with an aging parent, and prepared me for what lies ahead times four. What do you say, how do you say it, and when should you say it? I still don't know the answer, but I'm closer to it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why Art Matters: John Bender, The Criminal

Judd Nelson's character John Bender in The Breakfast Club comes from a long line of fictional bad boy/rebels with a cause. While some may argue for classic bad boys such as James Dean, Bender is ours due to how endearing BC is for my generation.

In a nutshell, John Bender was in Saturday detention for pulling a fire alarm. He is a product of an abusive family and a pot smoker, yet appears to be highly intelligent and a keen observer of the human condition of those around him. He can be both confrontational and kind, and in some instances, a moral compass in the group.

Nelson created Bender from a method-acting approach; so much so, he scared Molly Ringwald and angered John Hughes. He embodied the character from the hair to the clothes and the posturing. But he also colored the character with a vulnerability that with his classmates was raw, and with his principal, delicate. Within him, you could see the smartmouth teen, the scared little boy, and a weary adult. Judd successfully creates a character that while labelled The Criminal, is also a basketcase, a princess, an athlete (c'mon, the ceiling tile trick was awesome), and a brain.

Nelson also delivers some classic movie quotes:

Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?

Answer the question Claire!

Eat.. my.. shorts.

So it's sorta social, demented and sad, but social. Right?

Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.

Sweets. You couldn't ignore me if you tried.

You're a genius because you can't make a lamp.

Being bad feels pretty good, huh?


You're a neo maxi zoom dweebie, what would you be doing if you weren't out making yourself a better citizen?

Go fix me a turkey pot pie.

The old man grabbed me and said, "Hey, smoke up Johnny."

Prom Queen.

That's very clever, sir. But what if there's a fire? I think violating fire codes and endangering the lives of children would be unwise at this juncture in your career, sir.

Oh, obscene finger gestures from such a pristine girl.

Without lamps, there'd be no light.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December Playlist: SHAZAM!

I love Shazam, the iPhone app that lets you record a 10-second sample of a song that maybe you haven't heard in 10, 20 or even 30 years to rediscover while shopping in Walmart or flipping channels while you are driving. The tougher one is when you are in an area with no internet service or don't immediately have the damn thing within reach. So the playlist for this month is going to be those weird, wild, ear nuggets that leave your toes tapping and electronic devices scrambling.

Classical Gas, Mason Williams - this was playing over the credits of a PBS special on 60s Rock, Roll and Remember. I spent 3 1/2 months in the 60s, so my memories of the decade are nil. I remember this song from those days when Tigers games were on WJR and the DJ would trot out the post-game instrumentals, a gentle segueway from the Honeybaked Ham's Herb Alpert "Taste of Honey" theme music. I don't know much about this song.

Mas Que Nada (2011 remix), Sergio Mendes and Erykah Badu - lots of ice dancers skating to this, and it's a very infectious mix of modern hip hop and Brazilian dance beats.

White Horse, Senor Coconut - a merengue with a funky little horn that makes the hips move independently of anything else your body is doing. You could be washing the dishes and your hips are dancing. Laundry, and hips are swaying. It's the kind of song you can see a Saturday Night Live sketch built around.

Stuck Inside a Cloud, George Harrison - from the first note I thought, "that has to be George." Signature slide guitar, but weak vocals, so I'm guessing mid to late 90s.

Too Sad to Cry, Imeda May - weird bluesy/country song from someone I've never heard of.

Bring it Home to Me, Sam Cooke - Dave and I both Shazamed this song seperately with the intent that we had to hear it again. Amazing

Not Fade Away, Florence + The Machine - Fell in love with this band apparently well before their SNL appearance. Not Fade Away is an old Buddy Holly classic I think everyone has covered, from the Beatles and Rush to Flo.

I Want You, Fefe Dobson - Not sure where I heard it, sounds like energetic garage punk.

For You, Manfred Mann - One of those songs you always hear on classic rock that you always ask, "who sang this?" Manfred Mann is the answer.

Lady, Little River Band - this one too.

Zero to Sixty in Five, Pablo Cruise - as a skater, I am always listening for something I can skate to that is uncommon and cool. This falls into that category.

Funnel of Love, Wanda Jackson - The soundtrack to the movie "But I'm a Cheerleader!" featured some awesome music, this included.

Being Authentic, Shantel - more latin beats, God I love WYCE.

So Alive, Love and Rockets - Weird, cool song form 1988 that was a hit I haven't heard in a while.

Somewhere Down the Crazy River, Robbie Robertson - ditto.

Abbey Road Medley, The Beatles - basically it's side two, which lasts through 10 songs, some as long as four minutes, some as short at 23 seconds. You have a Beatles chorus, a Ringo drum solo, a serenade in Spanish, and general awesomeness that lasts for about 20 minutes. Uncle Buck played it on his morning show last Sunday and I was almost late for work because I had to listen to the whole thing. Worth it...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

From the Book of Geno: Renderings or The Best Things in Life are Free

Cara and I have had some crazy ideas in the past. Tattoos. Ice skating. Spamettes. Posing in the Paris, MI park under the fake Eiffel Tower while drinking and wearing berets (never did that one).

We got our inspiration while attending ArtPrize this year, a day-long OD of cultural relevance. We started talking about our years in the graphic design (Visual Communication) department at Ferris, and everything we learned. This banter led to a few "hey, what if...?" scenarios that brings us to where we are today.

Cara and I will be entering ArtPrize 2012 with our entry entitled From the Book of Geno: Renderings or The Best Things in Life are Free.

We are creating an installation of at least 2,000 unique pieces of art that patrons can take away for themselves to enjoy. As of this writing, I have 499 done; Cara is well on her way to 200.

So why the long title? Gene Connelly was one of our instructors at Ferris, and as homework, we would have to produce for him as few as 10 or as many as 100 sketches in our sketchbook. Sometimes these sketches would come out beautifully and result in a nifty little piece. Others becoming nothing or else be the stepping stone to some other idea. To Geno, these weren't mere sketches but "renderings."

The Best Things in Life are Free part? That again comes from our delight at getting our buddhas this year. Would people be delighted to receive a free and unique piece of art. But our delight didn't stop there, we also both enjoyed collecting the cards each artist had available to remember the experience by. Each card is a unique voting card.

Other inspirations include Felix Gonzalez-Torres' art installations with the candies and cloud posters and the story of the artist and the king who wanted a drawing of a crane that took a year to create.

So this is project is the story of two artists who will create for a year then give it away for free and how we arrived there.