19 November 2011

Blogs, Bambini, And Bonking And The Friday Top Five


It's not me, it's you. Really. 

Look, it's not that I don't love you, it is just that I need a better way of managing all of my fellow bloggers. Currently, I sift through ALL 170 of my dedicated followers and try to hit each of the blogs on a rotational basis. This proves tedious. What makes it tedious is that Blogger opens up this window with a link to their blog. Actually, often I can not even get a link to the blog. This is especially annoying when you would like to reciprocate the blog love you just received. Then, there are times that I get to these blogs, only to find out that they have since removed it, or they have not written a post in about three months. Still, much of the problem with not hitting everyone's blogs effectively lies in my inability to manage them. 

So!  I am open for suggestions on how to do this most effectively in Blogger. Any thoughts? Is there an effective way to make links to all the blogs that I read? I see blog menus at the top of some blogs that allow for the reader to easily click on a blog. This seems like it would take a computer science degree, or an especially large amount of time trying to figure out. 


Wifey and I have the best children in the world. Now, don't get me wrong. Just the other day, I was having lunch with my friend Kelly and I asked her if she ever wants to put a muzzle over her children's mouths because they drive her to the brink of insanity. I think we both agree, that while we love our children unconditionally, that we sometimes wish that our houses came with round cushioned sound proof rooms. 

However, while there is certainly a lot of insanity going around, they do manage to fill our lives with an unbelievable amount of joy and humor. Our children say the funniest things. For instance, yesterday morning, Stella looks over at wifey sitting at the kitchen table and says "Mommy.... daddy's triathlon stuff is all over the couch!"  I came home from work last week and Julian came running to the door telling me that he had a special performance that he and his sisters were going to perform for me and mommy that evening. The kiddies have two parents that are artists. They recently attended a concert that wifey and I were in in which I made a bunch of my own instruments and improvised on several instruments throughout the performance. Julian had decided that he was going to spend the day building his own set of musical instruments before I arrived home from work that evening. Check out a small part of the performance:


I had a really rough run on Saturday morning. I went out for my usual 10k, but completely bonked at mile four. Like, as in, my heart rate was stratospheric. I think it was the result of: 1) Not being adequately hydrated. Imagine that. Me. Not adequately hydrated. The guy that went to the hospital twice—one of those times being personally chauffeured by my local volunteer ambulance service—over the span of five years. 2) Not enough rest. Yeah, not only had I not gone to bed early enough all last week, but I wake up far too early on account of our kids deciding that they want to make as much noise as humanly possible during the wee small hours of the morning. 


The Friday Top Five: The Top Five Things That My Children's Generation Will Never Know:

I think every generation probably looks at the next and thinks how fortunate they are to never have the opportunity to be able to do things that they were able to experience. Those pioneer work ethic folks that grew up before the turn of the century probably felt bad for their children who would never know how to churn butter, live without indoor plumbing, and never experience the natural glow of gas lamps. Having grown up during the 1970's and 1980's, I am really a gen-exer. Thus, my list will represnt the poor taste and bias of a disillusioned generation having had to live through both bell-bottoms and Cyndi Lauper: 

5) The Adult Magazine: Look, whether for better or worse, one of the rites of passage for a teenage boy was the shame and humiliation they had to suffer going into an adult bookstore to get a glimpse, or purchase an adult magazine. With the proliferation of pornography on the internet, it seems that those days no longer exist. 

4) Vinyl: I was part of the last generation of teenagers going out to purchase albums. I always chose albums over tapes. My friends thought I was crazy, but there were two reasons for this:

1) Album art is pretty kick-ass. They either have to scale everything down to fit on a tape cover—or CD for that matter—or completely eliminate some of the material. That is lame. Album covers were sometimes provocative, humorous, or grotesque. Whatever the case, when I was a teenager, I would spend hours in a record store looking at the cover art of albums. It was my way of getting my artistic fix if I was unable to actually purchase the album, which was most often the case. 

2) You could always tape the album as soon as you brought it home. I had this crazy idea that I could tape all my albums and when one of the tapes started wearing out, then I could just record it on another tape, thus, preserving the life of my album. 

3) Arcades: Sure, arcades still exist, but not like they did back when I was growing up. Games were generally only a quarter to play. About ten years ago, a bunch of high-priced arcade/bars starting opening up in large, trendy metropolitan areas around the country selling  "points" on cards depending on how much of your hard earned money you were willing to part with. Wifey and I went to one of these places. After putting just $5 on our card, we realized that was only good for, hmmm, two games. I remember going to the mall as a teenager with a couple of dollars. That was my afternoon. It was usually a combination of Joust, Dig Dug, and Galaga. I really had to pace myself with my two dollars, otherwise I would be watching other people play for the remainder of my afternoon. I would have to comb the mall visiting Spencer Gifts, looking at posters of Samantha Fox and nameless poster models in scantily clad clothing with my friends. 

The games today are ridiculously sophisticated. When I was learning how to play Mario Kart a couple of years ago with my boys, I found the learning curve really steep. It moves fast. For the life of me, I can not understand how more people are not suffering from neurological disorders as a result of prolonged exposure to these psychedelic video game experiences. 

Nowadays, kids can sit indoors, all day on their Wii's, Crackstations, or other video gaming devices. As if nerds were not isolated enough, now nerds sit on their couch all day eating crap and playing video games, because mom and dad do not want to bother being parents. Look, I am not defending video games at all, but at least when I was a kid, we would have to stand to play them. More, we actually interacted with other nerdy kids about the best way to defeat that bad dude on the fifth screen of Kung Fu Master. 

There was recently an exhibit at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, of on hundred old video games like Tron (my personal favorite), Pole Position, Bezerk, Defender, etc. The exhibit was so popular–especially with nerds that fall into my demographic–that they actually purchased the exhibit. Do you realize that we will be the first generation of octogenarians playing Madden?

2) Pay Phones/Phones with Cords: I will never forget the first time I realized that I had to actually bite the bullet and purchase a cellular phone. It was gigantic and had an antennae that I had to pull up. I actually remember rotary phones. 

1) Rock and Roll: The only way my children will ever understand what rock and roll is will be my me playing it and talking to them about it. There are no rock bands anymore. Seriously. Can you name one? A rock band. You know... like The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin. I had a conversation with one of my classes the other day about how we are still talking about Led Zeppelin forty years later. How many bands from their generation do you think will be current forty years from now? We will look back on Maroon Five and Dave Matthews as horrible sociological experiments. The idea of rock and roll being dead brings up an even more interesting question. How will we ever experience the work of The Who again? 

In modern dance, there exists several repertory companies that keep the work of seminary figures in the modern dance world alive, such as Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Jose Limon, and Merce Cunningham. Are there going to be Rock and Roll repertory companies, or are we only going to know what theses bands sound like from video and audio performances? 


Okay, we have some unbelievable, unseasonably warm weather here in western New York. The sun has been shining all weekend with temperatures approaching the 60's!  In late November! Ah, global warming does have its perks. I start my official season training on Monday. Can not wait. Looking forward to getting the official ball rolling.

 More soon. Train Smart!

18 November 2011

The Friday Top Five: The Five Worst 80's Artists

Remember the 1980's? I do. Skinny leather ties, John Hughes films (I was no-so-secretly in love with Molly Ringwald), leg warmers worn over jeans, Atari, and Garbage Pail Kids (wifey still has a huge mint collection of them in the basement). Those were among some of the coolest trends that transpired from an era that gave rise to the perm and copious amounts of Aqua Net hair spray. It was sometimes difficult to distinguish the faces of many of the girls in my high school because the feathered bangs and porcupine-like hairdos negated their faces. 

To be fair, there were some cool things that emerged  from  the 1980's. The 1980's were the golden years of both New Wave and Hip Hop. Bands like New Order, Depeche Mode, Elvis Costello and Art of Noise (named after the famous Luigi Rusollo manifesto of 1913) meant that nerdy keyboard players who previously got no love from screaming coeds attending their concerts, were now nerdy keyboard players that still got no love from screaming coeds, but were at the cutting edge of popular culture. It was this decade that invited a whole generation of white middle class suburban kids to wear baggy pants and imitate the subversive underground hip hop culture that was emerging by adopting the gesticulations and jargon of artists like RUN DMC and LL Cool J. The 80's ushered a new dance style of movement referred to as breakdancing. With Breakin' II: Electric Boogaloo as my inspiration, I spent countless hours perfecting my moonwalk  and windmill. I am proud to say that I can still throw it down and in the same awkward way nearly thirty years later. 

There was, however, some really terrible music that emerged during this era. Listed below are the top five songs that I am embarrassed to even say I know. If these artists were never to happen, I think the musical landscape of the 1980's would be a far better place:

#5) Mister Mister: Yeah, so take those broken wings and fly the heck out of here, because that song is wickety-wack. What made this band most possibly most embarrassing was the post-Bing Crosby-crooner-like lyricism that said "I am trying to be Steve Perry, but I am just not that cool." Interestingly enough, the band members all went on to have pretty decent careers in music afterwards, writing hit songs for artists like Madonna, Whitesnake, and Rod Stewart. However, lead guitarist and bassist, Richard Page, released a Christmas EP in 2010. Christmas albums are the official death of an artist's career. 

#4) Night Ranger: This San Francisco based pop-rock band quintet's most popular radio hit was the power  ballad "Sister Christian" which peaked at #5 in 1984. They are still doing it after all these years. Nice, old guys in leather pants. Move over Loverboy!

#3) Toad the Wet Sprocket: Years ahead of their time, I like to define them as the slightly less sophisticated Dave Matthews Band of their generation. You know, really Wonderbread. I am sure that the same things that made their music attractive to scores of soccer playing teenagers in the 80's are also what make Dave Matthews attractive to this generation of musically misinformed college coeds. 
Oh, you Dave Matthews apologists, don't get me started. So many of my students ask, "Yeah, but they are such talented musicians, right?" They might be, but Yngwie Malmsteen has great facility on the guitar, but he is still embarrassing. I am not going to front. I own a CD though. 

#2) Richard Marx: Did you know that his debut album yielded four hit singles and went on to sell four million copies? Don't even pretend like you did not rock it out in your mom's minivan to "Don't Mean Nothing," and I am quite confident his "Hold on to the Nights"track made it onto that mix tape you made the girl you were going to spend the rest of your life with in ninth grade. His second album, Repeat Offender, knocked Prince off of the number one position. Prince!  Who is cool and can play his proverbial ass off! Repeat Offender went triple platinum in a number of months and eventually went on to sell five million albums. Blame it on the emergence of Gangsta' rap, but unfortunately Rick never attained the same level of success he enjoyed with his first two albums. In 2006, he appeared on the Fox television show "Celebrity Duets." Although the Fox network is known for its quality programming like Who Want to Marry a Multi-Millionaire, appearing on a Fox reality television show is kind of like making a Christmas album—the kiss of death.

#1) Rick Astley: Rick Astley falls into the category of artists whose songs all sound the same. Among the artists belonging to the dedicated club of making all of their music sound the same are ZZ Top, Dave Matthews Band, and Howard Jones. The best thing that Rick Astley has contributed to popular culture is the "Rick-Rolling" phenomenon. He defines the quintessential white man dance. 

Who are your bottom five?


We have all been there as athletes. You know, those times during the year when you are trying to compress the six million things that you want to do into a 24-hour period. What is up with this rotation of the earth being so quick? I have to admit though, now that we have been dealing with 24-hour days our whole life, it makes the idea of even having a slightly longer day confusing, and possibly, downright problematic. I mean. have you considered how perfect our clocks look with five numbers nestled on either side of those hemispheres between the twelve and the six? What would it look like to have even one more hour on that clock? Yeah, clearly not right.

My training the past couple of weeks have been pretty decent. The guilt of taking some downtime and continuing to eat as if I were still training for an iron distance event has caught up to me. To be honest, I clearly have to start training my proverbial ass off again, because I am not about to give up my 3500 calorie pancake breakfast with real New York State male syrup anytime soon. I have started to Rev my engines once again and start thinking about next season. My work-induced "downtime" during the month of October has officially left me hungry for more pool time and long runs.

It is shaping up to be a beautiful weekend here in western New York. I might get out for my last November ride of the season this weekend. Almost all the way through November and still no snow!

More soon. Train Smart!