Why Am I Running?

Hey! It’s been three years since my last post. Let’s get on with it.

I went to the doctor in 2018 for a physical and didn’t have a health scare. My bad cholesterol was on the high side. I was overweight. I weighed around 260 pounds, and being around six feet tall, that’s not a good weight to be at. I wasn’t scared, but I wasn’t complacent, either.

I decided I needed to lose weight. I started dieting, tracking the food I ate. No lie, I dropped ten pounds the first week, mostly because I have stuffed garbage into my face hole for my entire life, and actually refrained from doing that. No more sugary pop, no more icing-covered brownies. I would get a brownie pretty much 5 days a week. That’s not healthy!

Anyways, after dieting for a bit I decided I should start exercising. While going through a divorce 8 years ago, I started my first extended regimen of exercise, but I mostly did the elliptical because I thought running was 1. Crazy and 2. Hard on my knees. Oh, I was also really sad. True story!

I divorced, started dating, met a nice person, got remarried, had a kid. My exercise regimen slowly sputtered out, as things do when life gets in the way.

Considering what kind of exercise would be relevant to my current state, I knew my wife ShesAllWrite (link forthcoming to her blog!) had always liked running, so I guess I sort of gravitated toward that. I started out running on a treadmill and did a “Couch to 5K” program on my phone. It started out pretty easy, then I was horrified in the middle of the program when I had to run EIGHT UNINTERRUPTED MINUTES. What the hell?!

I kept on with it and eventually was running for a solid 30 minutes, keeping my pace around a 10 minute mile. I get confused, how are we supposed to talk about this? I was running a 10 minute mile, or running 6 mph? I guess the # minute mile is more common. I digressed!

I ran the Rock ‘n Roll 5k in Chicago last July, ran the Bucktown 5k, ran the Day of the Dead 5k in Pilsen. The *first* time I ran outside was right before the Rock ‘n Roll 5k. It was harder than the treadmill, and my speed suffered and my body complained, but not too much. Despite still trying to get used to outdoor running, it was nice running with other people! People cheered! They had fruit and energy bars afterwards!

I did a total of 3 races before it got unpleasantly cold out. When winter hit my dieting slid a bit, as did my running. Oh, I forgot to mention, I lost like 60 pounds with all that dieting and running! Holy shit! And, I gained 15-20 pounds back over the winter. I guess this kind of thing happens.

With the return of warmer weather, I’m back running again. I’m doing less treadmill running and more jogging outside. Initially, to get back into the swing of things, I re-did the Couch to 5K program, but increased my pace by 0.5 mph (so I was running a 9:34 min mile or so?).

I’m planning on signing up for the Chicago Bears 5k that’s happening later this month. I’ve already done two races thus far in 2019, and am beating my times from 2018, getting around a 9 minute mile. I have no idea if I am going to get faster, or am going to basically plateau at that pace.

ShesAllWrite said there are speed training programs I could try out to goose my speed, but I’m kind of lazy about that at this point. I could also choose to train for longer distances, but I think 26.2 miles is an arbitrarily stupid long distance to run. I’ll take my arbitrary distances a little shorter, thank you very much.

So, why do I run? Oh, that’s not the question. Why am I running? If I ask, “Why do I run?” it seems to give it some kind of gravitas I don’t know is warranted. Am I a runner? It doesn’t feel like it. I feel like I have to be inducted or something. Why am I running? Well, it feels kind of cool that I can get from Point A to Point B on my own steam in a relatively short amount of time.

I like running in those races. You get a t-shirt! Holy crap, that actually is part of it! You get a t-shirt! Every race! A t-shirt!

Another thing that appeals to me is I feel like running was something I used to think I could never do (though it’s not as though I was wistfully dreaming about it or anything) but hey, I can do it after all.

For whatever potentially dumb reason, I don’t consider myself a runner, but I am running. How long am I going to run for? Is my 48 year old body going to give out in the near future? Is my knee going to explode, or will my thighs be irreparably chafed, or will I suffer some other such calamity? Am I going to just get bored and lazy?

I don’t know. Maybe I won’t run forever, but I like it now.

The Beaver Trilogy Part IV


My apologies for the tardiness of this post.  Yes, I realize no one was waiting for me to write this.

I saw a really wonderful film called The Beaver Trilogy Part IV at the Midwest Independent Film Festival.  Let me back up.

It was probably 10 years ago or so when I saw the movie The Beaver Trilogy.  I have no recollection how I learned about it or the local screening I attended.  Maybe it was a Critic’s Choice in the Chicago Reader at the time?  It was a free screening, and wasn’t at a movie theater.  I saw the movie at Columbia College, in downtown Chicago.

I had no expectations.  It is a strange movie.  It contains three short movies tied together, hence the “trilogy” of the title.  The first part is a documentary about “Groovin’ Gary”.  The next two movies are fictionalized retellings of the first, along with scenes that would be considered “behind-the-scenes” of the first part.

It’s on YouTube.  Pleeeeeease watch it.  It’s wonderful.


Okay, have you watched it?  Pretty amazing, huh?

I know there is a “wow” factor for the 2nd and 3rd parts of the movie, in that the respective leads in each movie would go on to become famous for other roles.  Sure, that’s cool.  But what struck me so much was what I felt when I watched it.  I felt so much empathy for Groovin’ Gary.  He was goofy, but genuine, ambitious, naive, sincere.

You don’t get the full story of Groovin’ Gary, at least not directly from him.  The 2nd and 3rd parts of the trilogy have an event which takes place that may or may not be fiction.  Did it happen?  One strong impression that I got from this movie was that the filmmaker was a little haunted by his brief encounter with Gary.  There was self-criticism and empathy from him in equal measure.

I only watched The Beaver Trilogy one time, but it stayed with me, for years.

Okay, so I used to volunteer a lot at the Midwest Film Festival.  It’s on the first Tuesday of every month, showing films having some kind of midwestern connection.  I thought I’d volunteer for the April screening.  HOWEVER, I learned that something called “The Beaver Trilogy Part IV” would be playing.  Whoa!  I learned later it had played Sundance the year prior, but this was the first time I was aware of it.  I HAD TO SEE IT.  Maybe I’d get some of the questions I had answered!

I learned when I got to the theater that the director of the original Trilogy, Trent Harris, had not directed Part IV.  I was a little bummed, but hopeful.  What unfolded in Part IV was both a heartfelt tribute to the original Beaver Trilogy, to the original Groovin’ Gary (real name Richard Griffiths), and to Trilogy’s filmmaker Trent Harris himself. It was a great, affectionate, warm movie.  I loved it.  I had my questions answered, and I was so glad I got to see it.

The film’s director, Brad Besser, actually flew in for the screening. I was able to talk to him afterwards.  He was gracious and friendly, and it was obvious this was a movie he made with all his heart.  Also, I learned from him, it was likely he who was partially responsible for the original Beaver Trilogy movie being screened at Columbia College — he was a student of Columbia at the time, and pushed hard for a screening of the film.  He wanted other people to see it.

So thanks, Mr. Besser, for showing me the first Trilogy, and double-triple-quadruple thanks for making Part IV.  THANK YOU.

I don’t know if I can throw any traffic Mr. Besser’s way, but please,  order the movie and watch it. It’s on VOD, it’s on iTunes.  Besser, Trent Harris, and most of all, Groovin’ Gary, deserve it.

Trailer for Part IV:  There is a link to buy the movie on  YouTube.  You can also search for the film on iTunes and purchase it there.



The Hatful Eight

So, I ventured forth tonight in search of popcorn, caffeine, and a movie.

What were my choices at the lovely LaGrange Theater?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Nah, didn’t want to see it.  I saw this already.  It was pretty good.  I didn’t mind it.  It was okay.  I was not offended or horrified.  It wasn’t bad.


The Finest Hours



No, don’t know much about it, didn’t really wanna see it.  Hey, Disney — Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly and George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg called (Mark Wahlberg forgot he called the first time).  They want their mediocre storm movie from the 2000s that I never saw back.


The Big Short



I will probably will see this, because Brad Pitt wears glasses and has a beard.  Plus, I hate greed and corporations.  And how interesting does Brad Pitt look, anyways?  He looks like he could teach an art class at a local community college.  Still, not going to see this movie today.


Tonight, I wanted to see a 3-hour movie that didn’t start until 9:00pm on a Tuesday evening.  Yes, I am talking about…




I thought there were a fair amount of hats in the movie, but not enough to warrant the title “Hatful”.  Still, I liked the subtle nod to the Smiths record, as well as Kurt Russell’s character name Johnny Marr.

Speaking of subtle nods, I counted some of them.

  1. The movie takes place in a cold, snowy, inhospitable environment, like John Carpenter’s The Thing.
  2. The movie takes place with a reasonably large group of people stuck together in a small, enclosed space, who increasingly distrust and suspect each other, like John Carpenter’s The Thing.
  3. The movie prominently features Kurt Russell, the star of John Carpenter’s The Thing.
  4. The movie’s soundtrack is written by Ennio Morricone, who composed the soundtrack for John Carpenter’s The Thing.
  5. Part of the movie soundtrack was actually taken from an unused piece of the soundtrack to John Carpenter’s The Thing.

No, I didn’t look up #5 on some trivia page on the IMDB.  I have the soundtrack to John Carpenter’s The Thing on COMPACT DISC.  I *RECOGNIZED* that song.



So, there are some hats in the movie.  And also, some hateful people.  I really don’t know how I’m supposed to have a lot of compassion or even interest for people that I find exceedingly unpleasant.  I didn’t really care about anyone.  Everyone was loud, annoying, and violent.  I imagine I would have a similar experience if I ever took up Quentin Tarantino’s offer to play paintball with him and Eli Roth in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Not gonna happen, fellas.

This felt good.  I blogged.  I did it.  If you’ll allow me one humorous gif I did not create, hey, Immortan Joe, what did you think of this, the 8th movie of Quentin Tarantino?




Baking a Catastrophe

My friend Andy asked me to put together some new music for our web series “Barry and the Setbacks”.

I’m not sure if he’ll want to use this or not, but it was fun making it.

As always, enjoy!  Or don’t!


Fashion Yuks

Person A:  Hey, what’s Scooby Doo’s favorite style of fashion?

Person B:  I don’t know.  What?

Person A: Retro!

Person B: Ha!  But… you know, Scooby Doo doesn’t wear clothes.  He’s a dog.

Person A: Maybe he’s more of a fashion appreciator.

Person B:  Sure, good point.

The Point-to-Point Social Media Project

I like connecting with people. My initial steps into the social media world (Twitter, mostly) were enjoyable in a lot of ways. I connected with funny and nice people I wouldn’t have known otherwise. That seems to be what does it for me — funny, nice. I feel better about things, about the world, when I am around people like that.

This initial group of people I interacted with felt like a community, at least for a short while. I miss that part of it. Yes, we’re around, but we’re not really glued together in any meaningful way.

Twitter is a weird beast to me, and has been for a couple years. It’s like having the radio on in the background. It’s a station you have chosen to dial into, but one you actively listen to intermittently, and often times aren’t paying particularly close attention to at all. Every once in a while you catch something on the periphery of your senses, and zero in, and maybe even briefly engage with a person or a group of people.

It’s not an enriching experience for me. But can it be?

My life is busy, and so are all your lives. That we don’t connect, or that I don’t feel a part of something, is just something I feel, and really no one’s problem but my own.

But, I can choose how I interact with people, and here’s where we get to my idea. I think it’s probably a bad idea. But here it is.

  1. I pick a single Twitter use to interact with over the course of 7 days.
  2. Any tweet that would I have normally sent out to everyone will be directed only to this user.
  3. I will make a point to read and comment on this user’s tweets.
  4. I will still be able to interact with other people on Twitter.
  5. I will not write more than 50 tweets towards my selected user over the course of those 7 days (unless there happen to be interactions and ongoing conversations with them that would inflate that number)
  6. If they ask me for whatever reason to stop, I will stop.

What could be the result of this?

  • We make a connection, or further strengthen an existing connection.
  • I come across as a nuisance, and they ask me to stop, or block me, file a cease-and-desist order, etc.
  • No net effect.

Other potential side-effects:
My non sequiturs normally thrown out into common space might come across strangely to a singled-out user.
“Why are you telling me this, and what, exactly, is this?”


So, this project… How would I feel if someone picked me out, and someone did this P2P thing to me?

Man, I don’t know. It could be nice. It could be annoying. It could be a little creepy. It could be all three.

I guess you can choose me for your own P2P project and we’ll see what happens.


Man goes to doctor, complains of uncontrollable, dark depression. “I’ve tried everything, doctor.   Medication, meditation, light therapy.  Nothing works.  I’m full of despair.”

Doctor says, “The answer is simple.  The great clown Pagliacci is in town.  Go see his performance.  He will lift your spirits and make you forget your troubles.”

The man buries his head in his hands.  “But…” the man says.  “*I* am Pagliacci.”

“Really?” the doctor asks.

The man perks up.  “Nahhhh.  I’m just kidding.  But how fucking crazy would that be, huh?!! Super fucking crazy, right?!”

“We don’t use that word here, sir,” the doctor replies.


“Crazy.  But yes, the f-word is not really welcome here, either.”

“Do you have any tickets to Pagliacci?” the man asks.

“I do, but my wife and I are going. Sir, are you even depressed?” the doctor asks.

“Not particularly.”

“Please get out of my office.”


Sitcom Actress Shaggy Dog Stories

Sometimes I forget things I have written. Three years ago, I apparently had a bug up my butt to write several very groan-inducing shaggy dog stories over a series of tweets. Well, #ShaggyDogStoryEndingWithASomewhatObscureSitcomActress tweets, to be precise.

I was amused enough with three-years-ago me (sad, isn’t it?) that I decided to collect the tweets into a post.

Enjoy! And I’m sorry!


The Candy Collector’s Convention kickoff event was in two hours, and Irma realized her Snickers custom t-shirt didn’t fit any more. Without some form of candy-related article of clothing, she’d be the laughingstock of the CCC! She called her friend Jewel for help.

Jewel said, “Get something out of your collection with a hole in it. Thread one of your gold chains through and make a necklace.”

Irma, relieved, did just that. In fact, her last-minute jewelry was the hit of the CCC. All that was required was to don a Pez cow.


It was one of the coldest days of the winter of ’79. The people in the model airplane club were getting woozy. The radiators thumped as they flooded the room with heat. Terrence watched people outside huddle against the brutal cold. He stood there, transfixed.

Anne said, “Terrence, you alright? You seem like you’re in another world.”

“I think it’s the heat, Anne. And the glue. Making me groggy.”

Anne patted him on the back. “I’ll open a window,” she said. A stream of cold air whistled in. Terrence perked up. Everyone else did, too. Anne asked, “Is that better, Terrence?”

“That’s great,” replied Terrence. “Thank you. Actually, could you let the air in more, Anne?”


It was morning at the Children’s Television Workshop in early 1975. A horrible tragedy had occurred. The original Bert had burned up in a freak accident, and a series of Ernie & Bert bits were scheduled for filming that day.

Thankfully, the CTW had ample raw material to assemble a new Bert: yellow felt, eyes, striped fabric, special black yarn for hair. A senior puppetmaker scrambled to construct a new Bert Muppet. He grabbed an intern walking down the hall.

“Where are my Bert supples?!” he screamed.

The intern pointed down the hall. “Behind that door is raw Berts.”


Violet loved going to the annual US Mint parade. She wanted more than that, though. She wanted to walk in the parade. Each US currency denomination had a representative in the parade. The eligibility rules for walkers were established years ago. For some reason, age was a determining factor, and correlated to what denomination a person could represent.

For example, a person had to be over 50 years of age to represent the $100 bill. For the $50 bill, one must be at least 35. The ages seemed arbitrary, but rules were rules.

Violet wrote a long, impassioned essay to the parade committee. She explained her lifetime fascination with the parade, spoke of her recent 18th birthday, and made a heartfelt request.

The parade committee was moved, and some members were moved to tears. Violet’s essay was published in US Mint Magazine along with an announcement. With great pride and much fanfare, the parade committee made Violet that year’s penny marshal.


Angus McTeague LOVED the work of Michael Mann. He religiously watched Miami Vice when it first aired, and later bought the DVDs. He loved Mann’s movies — Manhunter, Heat, Thief, Collateral. He even liked movies where Mann served as Executive Producer. His favorite of those films was Band of the Hand.

Angus liked to pretend he and his brothers were in their own ragtag mercenary group. Angus would cause a stir in his neighborhood, goading people into a confrontation, usually drawing his brothers into the fray.

He would spit, raise his fists, and snarl, “Ye’ll pay! Ye’ll rue meh clan o’ han!”

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