Sunday, August 24, 2014

What's Right with the World: Summer Resolutions, the Results

I got dirty.

I cannot believe Will is heading to school next week, a clear indicator that summer is almost over. At the beginning and over the course of the summer, I made a few resolutions.

So how'd I do?

In May, I resolved to not go shopping for the summer and instead use what I had in my closet. Outside of one trip to H&M and one 4th of July sale, I managed to stay out of stores until last night. I broke the vow in pursuit of fall and winter jackets for Will, getting him ready for school. It was great to be forward thinking and I nabbed him two jackets for $12. Since my ban was over, I managed two shirts for myself as well. Maybe it was because Will was with me, but I found I was less tolerant of combing racks for a good deal and was willing to pay a little extra for a fabulous top instead of sticking to the strict "69 cent Saturday madness." I'm content with what I added to my wardrobe and have no burning desire to go on any sprees. But I reserve the right to change my mind once the urge for sweaters hits.

The summer was also supposed to be devoted to a triple threat: skating, training for the half marathon in October and completing the Summer Sweat Challenge.

Hm. Results from this is a mixed bag since I had surgery end of July and was in pain the whole month of July leading up to it.

Luckily, I missed very little skating as a result; however the skating before the surgery was compromised, and the three weeks after was nothing more than stroking, dancing and working on turns. The bonus was turns clinics I haven't done in forever, and the result was getting all my forward rockers, learning to be comfortable with the counters as well as choctaws. What sucked is not spinning ro jumping for a month, and losing ground on getting programs put together.

Training for the half marathon... *sigh* this was an all and out fail. I did run a few races this summer, the Deimer Donut 5k, the Rx Run, the Color Run and the Sniff out Sugar 5k. What resulted was weird pain that shot through my ovaries, up my abs and down my inner thighs while wrapping around my hips. WTF? I lost ground during all of this, sometimes even taking a flash nap in the afternoon. I never nap. Instead of increasing my miles, I was doing only 1-2 miles at a time. Post-surgery, Dave asked me to withdraw from the half. I was already 3 week behind in training, with the promise I would be 6 weeks behind once I was given clearance by the doctor to resume normal activities. I transferred my entry from the 13.1 to the 5 last week.

How did I know I was that far behind? Look no further than the Summer Sweat Challenge. SSC is a 10 week endurance race pitting you against other Y members in categories of strength, workout, endurance, activity and community. I struggled with some of the easiest challenges, feeling defeated instead of invigorated. BUT at last look, I was in second place heading into the last week, me and Barry in a league all our own. Not bad for a gal who was in and out of ERs and surgery in July -- thank God for those "eat vegetables and give up pop" weeks to stay in the game!

So, the surgery. There are complications that arise when one has PCOS and is heading into her menopause years. Body does strange things. Wreaks havoc with your melon too.

In response to the self esteem beating I have taken, I responded with the post below this, a month of "you go girl!" Eh, some days I struggled to come up with more than a shallow "you rock" but other days I woke with a "hey, you got all your jumps back yesterday" or "good job handling the crisis at work" or even a "lick your wounds and get on with it." Nice to know I'm capable of getting on with it.

Bring it on, autumn.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Typing Out Loud: 31 Days of Daily Affirmation


News-wise, this has been a bummer of a week. Personally, it's been a bummer of a summer too as I have dealt with some medical issues, my body defiantly resisting righting the ship through diet and exercise.

Wah wah wah.

I also woke up yesterday beating myself up for a myriad of reasons. Could have been my hair. Could have been worrying about bills I caused with recent illnesses. Could have been the fact I tried on my skinny jeans and they protested the fit.

I also have the awful habit of laying in bed and reading Facebook posts as well, and have been inundated with a variety of invites to join various 30-day challenges, like 30 days of thankfulness, 30 days of burpees, 30 days of fitness, 30 days of vegetarianism.

Suddenly, I was hit with the realization it's a month before my 45th birthday. A selfless person most of the time, I gear up for a week of vanity I cheerfully dub "birthfest" which begins around September 8 and concludes September 16.

Why not turn this next month into 30 days of self-affirmation? Thirty-one mornings of "you rock girl!" cheerleading? Couldn't hurt, I thought.

So here we are on day 1, and I was able to shut down the grumbling negative Nancy by telling her "we are being positive now." I couldn't come up with any specific positive thingy, so a generic "you rock" was enough to get me out of bed and on with my day.

It's a start. Bring on day 2.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Typing Out loud: the Guilty Pleasure of Fast Food

Seriously, this list could begin and end with this place if it were still open.
It had the burger, crinkle cut fries, phosphates and sundae.

Since my diet transformation, fast food and drive thru dining has gone from a staple to a treat reserved for only once a week at best.

Has a change in diet changed my palette? Sadly, no. Every bite seems to hit the dopamine receptors in my brain, a swirling euphoria of sugar, salt, fat and beef.

Why is that? For me, it's about being a lazy cook. There's nothing more pleasurable than thinking "I'll just go pick something up," and have dinner, hot 'n ready, 3 minutes later. When I was a kid, fast food was a "treat" doled out strictly on mom's payday, the usual choices being the Burger Chef kid's meal - I still remember putting the racing stickers on my strap on skates.

Also, businesses were fighting a little more fierce for mom and dad's dollars, and did so by being very generous. I remember getting my Burger King kid's club coupons in the mail, along with my free cone birthday card from Baskin Robbins. Trips to the Orange St. library were based on the availability of Little House books and free french fry coupons.

So what is the best of the best IMHO?

Best burger: A Steak n Shake double steak burger. The SnS is most like the Dome/Schlenker's from back home and oooh, those pickles.

Wendy's came off this list because they messed with my pickles, changing the dills to a bread n' butter hybrid. I say nay Mr. Thomas! Also off the list is the BK Whopper, at one time a favorite that has lost its luster due to high calories and poor customer service.

Best fries: Any place with crinkle cut fries. I'm looking at you Culver's.

Best drink: Sonic diet limeade + flavor, a recent love is lemon berry. The key is the fresh fruit. The treat is happy hour when you can get a 44oz for a buck and some change.

Best value meal: KFC with original recipe chicken breast, cole slaw, mashed potatoes and biscuit. Almost too much food. The slaw is the closest to my grandmother's without being exact.

Best value menu item: Taco Bell Fresco taco. That is a whole lotta flavor for chump change.

Best alterna-sandwich: The eat fresh menu at Subway, a cornucopia of fresh flavors and best of all, spinach instead of lettuce.

Best ice cream treat: I am not much of an ice cream eater, but I cannot bring up the nostalgia of fast food without acknowledging a treat from my past, the Tiny Tot Sundae from The Dome. The best was the raspberry with whipped cream and nuts. It was the perfect size with the perfect blend of flavors from first bite to last.

Best snack: A three way tie between fresh squeezed lemonade, Junior Mints and nachos. Lemonade at the ballpark can be altered to your preference - I get half the sugar, twice the lemon. Nachos, you can tell them not to be shy with the jalapeƱos. And Junior Mints are just Junior Mints.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Why Art Matters: Ringo Starr and the All Star Band

...the OTHER band he's in!

Ringo advocates for peace, but deserves love.

He is one of the best drummers from the emerging rock era of the 60s, the fourth man in the band he was invited to join, the comic support staff surrounded by musical genius.

But he's so much more: he's been an actor, an activist, an artist, the caretaker of The Beatles legacy, the affable everyman. He was the first Beatle post-breakup to score a number one single with Photograph.

He also managed, in his self-depreciating nature, to create an entertaining concert experience by inviting a variety of popular acts to join him on the road, thus creating a celebration of music with the Ringo Starr and the All Starr Band.

He started the tour in 1989, with a line up that included Joe Walsh, Levon Helm and Dr. John and included notable guests like his son Zak, Bruce Springsteen, and Max Weinberg.

First time I saw the tour was 2001, with Greg Lake, Sheila E, Howard Jones and Ian Hunter. The second was in 2007, with Billy Squier, Edgar Winter and Gary Wright.

The WAM for what could instead be a playlist is the concert itself. It is a dazzling display of musical triumph. Ringo is smart enough to let his All Starr guests shine, even if it is at his own expense. He opens the show with a Beatle hit, introduces the stars, then lets everyone have a turn to show off, all while acting the perfect host. As expected, the finale wraps the show up with the song Little Help from my Friends. You would expect a few awkward moments with a large cast sharing a stage, but the banter is easy and the songs tight.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August Playlist: Duets

A three for three in the duet category!

If a single voice can be the most powerful weapon one has, what does that say about the power of a duet?

I've never really thought about them, but they are always there, lurking on the pop charts, a union between two solo artists or one band super-grouping with the lead singer of another band. The results, if done right, transcend awesomeness.

There's a lot of Artist featuring Artist on the charts these days, which proves the theory that more is more.

Mike Reno and Ann Wilson, Almost Paradise - from the movie and soundtrack to Footloose, this is a definitive 80s power rock marriage between the lead singers of Loverboy and Heart. So 80s it hurts. Ann still sings it with a guest singer on tour. Recently featured on Orange is the New Black.

Meatloaf and Ellen Foley, Paradise by the Dashboard Light - a gleeful ode to teenage love and baseball metaphors that goes on and on. Fun facts: Ellen Foley, who also worked with The Clash, went on to be Billie on Nigh Court and became a pretty big deal on Broadway. Karla DeVito, who lip synched to Ellen's vocals in the video, also worked with The Clash, went on Broadway and married Robbie Benson, who appeared in Ice Castles. It always comes back to baseball and skating for me, doesn't it?

Joan Jett and Paul Westerberg, Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love - A quirky send up of a classic pop standard by two icons of punk/rock/indie scene. Was never a hit but it should have been.

Moby and Gwen Stefani, Eastside - Surprising hit collaboration between the lead singer of No Doubt and a Industrial music/DJ giant not known for his singing. Industrial pop is a lovely thing.

Gwen Stefani and Eve, Let Me Blow Ya Mind - But pop rap duets are a magical thing. Eve had Gwen guest on her album, and the result was this catchy gem of a couple girlfriends out on the prowl. It was Gwen v. Gwen in the "best" categories at all the award shows that year, and I think they all split honors .

Gwen and Eve, Rich Girl - A few years later when Stefani released her solo album, Eve returned the favor and the girls created a swashbuckling homage to pirates and Fiddlers on roofs.

Estelle and Kanye West, American Boy - Kanye West is an enigma. He is so egotistical, yet when it comes to collaborations, he is more than gracious in sharing the stage, the result becoming more than the sum of its parts. This song is delightful, the video is an elegantly stark black and white romp through Londontown.

Billy Preston and Syrece, With You I'm Born Again - It's been mentioned in the blog before, but bears repeating. The Fifth Beatle crafts a ballad that while a huge R&B hit, to me defies being defined by genre. Beautifully constructed.

The Hungry Wolf, X - Ok, so Exene and John Doe are in the band together and thus perhaps not a true duet, but it would be a crime to not include them. I wasn't a punker but more of a MTV-generation gal and I remember being oddly entranced by this song. I've always favored rockabilly anyway. Interest renewed by the announcement they are playing GR in September.

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terell, Your Precious Love - Old school. Is there a biopic on Marvin Gaye? There needs to be one on Tammi, who did an awful lot of living for someone who passed tragically at the age of 24. I'm fascinated by her.

Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX, Fancy - the song that initially triggered the idea of doing an entry on duets. So far the song of the summer for 2014. All I know is Iggy is an Australian, and her popularity is pissing off people in the rap community. I don't know enough to give an educated, outraged opinion. All I know is that cleaning out the hotel's mini bar is hardly the way to cost effectively get loaded. You have "people" to make a trip to the party store, do you not?