RUNNING LIKE HELL

RUNNING LIKE HELL

Now that nearly a week has gone by, I finally feel close enough to a place of peace that I can discuss the horrors of the Run Hit Wonder race. First of all, to those of you wise enough to steer clear of physical activity, let me school you in a harsh truth I gained from experience:

Running is hard.

Running a race is not like running on a treadmill or on an elliptical runner or in a video game. Running takes lots of effort, and when you’re in a race, you can’t stop until you get to the “end” (unless you want to look like a total tool, of course — no thanks). I ran the race with Drew, our friend Chuck and Chuck’s almost-two-year-old son, Cameron, who zoomed alongside us in a snazzy running stroller. (Believe me, if I had known that was an option, I would’ve had Drew wheeling me in an oversized contraption of his own, and Cameron and I would’ve had a nice little chat about pretty birds and juice and poopy along the way.)

As I jogged through the streets of USC-adjacent (which, since I myself went to graduate school there, I can accurately and lovingly describe as “shithole-ish”), I discovered that the finest creatures ever to walk the face of the Earth are the people who don’t run the races themselves but who stand along the sides of the race route just to applaud and cheer the participants on. Yes, it really happens. To that squad of cheerleaderish African-American girls chanting, “Go run-nahs! Go run-nahs!” over and over again while doing their clap-shuffle side-step in 80-degree heat, please know that you made my day. I’m a bit mixed on those frat boys with the super soakers, who seemed to enjoy drenching people just a bit too much. And to that shirtless, curly-haired guy who was clapping his hands at us on that narrow corner where everyone was logjammed while he shouted, “Let’s go, people! Coming through! Out of the way!”, you should know that you do not belong next to the rest of us on the evolutionary chart. You have my permission to die.

As for the bands — has it really taken me this long to get to the bands??? — yes, the bands were there. Mostly. It turns out the only “artist” I missed by opting for the 5K route instead of the 10K was Tommy Tutone, which couldn’t have been better planning on the part of the organizers. My sincere gratitude goes out to whoever decided which bands would play where. But before I trash Tutone Tumuch, let me reserve my real hostility for Mr. Tone Loc, who, around the time I was passing by his stage, decided he needed to take a short break from performing. What’s the matter, Loc? 15 years isn’t long enough for you? (I should point out for added disparagement that this couldn’t have been more than 25 minutes or so into his set.) So instead of the shitty, nostalgia-shattering rendition of “Wild Thing” and/or “Funky Cold Medina” we were promised, we heard a recording of “Man in the Mirror”. It wasn’t even a good running song, unless by putting the image of Michael Jackson in our heads, they were trying to give us something to run from.

Thankfully, General Public sounded great. When I ran by, they were playing “I Confess”, which if I remember correctly, was not their one hit but still a great song. It was actually kind of a relief to hear something other than their ubiquitous hit in the minute and a half I could hear what they were playing. (No, I’m not hatin’ on “Tenderness” — in fact, when I did my 80’s Top 20 a few years ago, it came in, if I remember correctly, at #8.) Dave Wakeling still looked good, although Ranking Roger had been replaced by a doughy old guy. Then again, maybe that was Ranking Roger. Mike says they played “Mirror in the Bathroom” later on. (Mike did the 10K, which is the only reason he was behind me in reaching the GenPub stage.) Well, that would’ve been worth running back for, if only I’d known.

The mystery band turned out to be Dramarama, who have the distinction of being only the second-best band of the 80’s whose name ends in “-arama”. There are about a million bands I would’ve been thrilled to see on the mystery artist stage. Dramarama was #1,000,001. Talk about giving me, giving me nothing but shattered dreams, shattered dreams. (Yes, I know that’s Johnny Hates Jazz. I’m already dreaming about who next year’s mystery band will be.) Memo to race organizers: we now know better than to believe your hype.

My initial plan to amble along at a nice, leisurely stroll was thwarted by those sneaky race sponsors, who provided each of us with some Big Brother-type sneaker chip that recorded our time from starting line to finish line. Damn technological advances. That meant that sputtering along at roughly the pace of Roseanne’s comeback and then lying to my friends later on about how fast I went was not going to be an option. Somehow, I managed to keep up with Drew, Chuck and the toddler and finish in a maybe-respectable 36-oh-something. (Is that respectable? If not, please don’t tell me.)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stick around for the after-race performance by Devo, because I was off for a couple days in Monte Carlo (well, okay, the Monte Carlo hotel in Vegas), where I learned a very valuable lesson about why I don’t get carded anymore: it’s the thinning hair, stupid. Slap a baseball cap on me, and apparently, I look like a little leaguer again. Running had made me feel extremely old, but I’d found a way to make blackjack dealers say, “He looks like he’s twelve!”

And so it was that I spent two days ordering drinks by the pool and playing Let it Ride, hat always on head, I.D. always readily available for display. It was the perfect vacation, and after 5Ks of Hell, I’d earned it.

CODE YELLOW

CODE YELLOW

There’s nothing like waking up in the morning to find out that the latest terrorist threat centers around the place where you eat lunch every day. Let’s see:

  • Los Angeles… check.
  • A mall… check.
  • On the Westside… check.
  • Near the Federal Building… check.

That’s 4 out of 4, which means everyone’s on alert for suspicious characters carrying around toothpaste tubes full of nitroglycerine in the general vicinity of my Baja Fresh.

So what does it mean if I avoid the mall today like the (weaponized form of the) Plague? Does that indicate that I’m a big chicken? Hey, I can live with that. I’ll happily be labeled a chicken for the rest of my long, healthy, terrorism-untouched life. But some might suggest that if I don’t go about my business as usual, I’m letting the terrorists win.

Well, I’ve let people win before. It’s not so bad, unless they get all snotty about it, and you’re like, “Hey, shut up already. You only won because I let you won!” And they’re like, “Yeah, right! You suck, and you’re a sore loser, too!” And you’re like, “No, I’m not, ’cause I didn’t lose! You lost, loser!” And they’re like, “Oh, yeah? Then prove it!” And then you have to back down because you know you can’t prove it. And then you’re even more steamed because you realize you never should’ve let them win in the first place, and now they think they won not just the game but also the fight about who won.

So let me make this very clear up front:

Osama, I’m letting you win today. Got it?

(Ha, ha. Loser!)

SWING LOW

SWING LOW

A couple of years ago, I wrote a script for a short film that satirized reality TV shows. (Hey, it was a novel idea at the time.) It was called “Hard Knock Life”, and it chronicled 16 charismatic, backstabbing orphans competing for a chance to get adopted by a wealthy family. They played games like “Don’t Wet the Bed”, where they were forced to drink a gallon of juice before bedtime (the last one to wet the bed received immunity), and “Who’s Your Daddy?”, where they answered questions about who they imagined their biological fathers to be, and the answers were fact-checked against background investigations performed by the show’s producers (the reward for the top scorer was a warm hug). And every week, one loser would be sent back to his or her life of heartbreaking, motherless misery.

Well, it hasn’t quite happened yet, but we’re definitely getting closer.

It makes me wonder if my other joke reality show will ever come to pass. That one was called “Slave Ship”, and it centered around a group of white people kidnapped at random from Starbuckses across the country and tossed into the hull of a ship made to recreate conditions of a 17th Century slave ship bound for the U.S. It would be a nail-biting thriller, it would be a valuable history lesson, and, most of all, it would be karmic retribution for the atrocities committed by past generations of American jerks. To ensure authenticity, participation would, of course, not be voluntary. Following months at sea battling constant floggings, meager rations and disease, the ones who survived would be put to work for twenty years in a foreign land where they knew no one and didn’t speak the language. The goal: emancipation. The winners: no one.

That one may still be ahead of its time. But I’m keeping an eye on the trades, just in case.

IMPORTANT PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

IMPORTANT PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

I won’t claim to speak for you, but I certainly have been known to scream for ice cream. So I’m pretty bummed that I missed Ben & Jerry’s free cone day by one measly day. I can’t help thinking about what I was doing yesterday and how much better each of those activities would’ve been with a free cone of New York Super Fudge Chunk in my hand. Sadly, it was not meant to be…

However, lest another ice cream giveaway go by unnoticed by the masses, I feel it is my civic duty to spread the word that TONIGHT, April 28, 2004, from 6-10pm is Free Scoop Night at Baskin Robbins. And the best part is that by not paying for ice cream, you’ll actually be supporting literacy! How? Because all the illiterate people out there will see huge lines coming out of Baskin Robbins and think, “If only I could read those signs on the front door, I’d know why those people were waiting in line.”

Oh, yeah, and they’ll be grubbing for donations to a literacy program.

So if you’re looking for me tonight, I’ll be standing in a long line waiting to get a tiny container of something I’m perfectly willing to pay a couple of bucks for ordinarily, and which, after my donation, will end up costing me about the same price anyway.

Down with rational thinking! HOORAY FOR FREE SCOOP NIGHT!

I THOUGHT IT WAS BILL PAXTON

I THOUGHT IT WAS BILL PAXTON

The theme of the weekend was definitely celebrity sightings. First there was Kirsten Dunst and Jake Gyllenhaal (or was it Tobey Maguire?) at “13 Going on 30″. They lingered outside for a few minutes to have a cigarette. (Drew: “They’re awfully big stars to just be walking around like that.”) And apparently, they’re not good friends with Beck, since they walked right past him in the lobby. (Fawning fan moment: me noticing his hair is even messier in person!)

This morning, there was David Allen Grier driving an Escalade on Western Boulevard. (I missed it myself, but Drew swears it was him.)

But the best was Bill Pullman at Coldstone. The employees were totally starstruck, and he was a really good sport, chatting and laughing with them for a couple minutes.

And after he left, one employee turned to the other: “Who was that?”

“Oh, you know. That dude from ‘Casper’.”

INTRODUCING THE ONE-WORD CRITIC

INTRODUCING THE ONE-WORD CRITIC

Today I begin a new feature on my sidebar, which I’m calling “One-Word Reviews”. Lots of movie critics painstakingly craft their long, poetically-worded critiques only to have them reduced to a one-word blurb in movie ads anyway, so why not cut out the middle man? My reviews come pre-blurbed, so quote away, ad-meisters!

The following are the guidelines I’ve set out for myself in what I hope to be an ongoing project:

  1. I must review every movie I see.
  2. Every review must contain only one word. (The “Duhhhhhh!” rule.)
  3. Once a word has been used, I can never use it again in another review. Ever.
  4. No cheating with hyphenates or made-up words, except in rare occasions when a made-up word is somehow more appropriate (e.g., “Pootie Tang”). (This rule is meant to discourage me from reviews like, “Sandler-ific!” and “Solondz-a-licious!” Trust me. I would. Oh, Lord, how I would.)
  5. The word “Triumphant!” may not be used. Ever.
  6. If I ever can’t come up with a word, or if I repeat a word I’ve already used, I must end this feature.

I’m kicking it all off with reviews of the last three movies I’ve seen. Take a peek to your right and check it out!

THE LAST ENTRY I WILL EVER POST ABOUT WHAT AN UNGRATEFUL JERK I AM WHEN IT COMES TO FREE FOOD PROVIDED BY MY OFFICE

THE LAST ENTRY I WILL EVER POST ABOUT WHAT AN UNGRATEFUL JERK I AM WHEN IT COMES TO FREE FOOD PROVIDED BY MY OFFICE

Q: “Weren’t those pastries good, Jerry?”

A: “To be honest, Maria, I was not fond of those pastries. Call me old-fashioned if you will, but if I’m going to blow my diet, I prefer to do it on a simpler snack treat. Those fancy pastries were far too pretty and elaborate for me. Custard, frosting, gelatin, a layer of ultra-dry cake an eighth of an inch thick and a half strawberry on top, with a swirl of icing in the form of a treble clef? Forgive me, but I’m not impressed. A Twinkie is nothing more than a tube of sponge cake with some cream shoved in through the bottom. Hostess sells millions of Twinkies a year; Miss Millie’s Sweet Shoppe probably sells a few hundred of those treble clef monstrosities — and I’m being generous. If you noticed, about half the assorted pastries went uneaten. That does not speak well of the appeal of Miss Millie’s prodigal approach to cake-making. She could learn a lesson from Hostess’ sales figures, if you ask me.

Frankly, those pastries tried way too hard. The chocolate log slices, for example, could’ve been borderline edible were it not for the raspberry swirl in the middle. There are many flavors that go well with chocolate — peanut butter, graham, candy coating. Chocolate also goes well with other forms of chocolate — chocolate chips, chocolate flakes, that kind of chocolate that gets hard when you put it on ice cream. But whoever thought of putting chocolate and raspberry together should be slathered in goat blood and thrown headfirst to a pack of wild boars. He’s ruined a lot of good desserts.

So, in answer to your question, no, those pastries were not good. Sure, it was nice of our company to do something in honor of Staff Appreciation Week, but given their lackluster choice of dessert providers (and the fact that the so-called treats were delivered, curiously, just minutes before lunch), forgive me for not feeling sufficiently appreciated. Yes, I ate my slice of chocolate log and painstakingly picked out the raspberry swirl with a fork before I let a single morsel touch my lips, but I assure you that every bite I took was with bitterness in my heart, and I did not enjoy a single calorie of it.”

What I actually said: “Yeah, they were great!”

BLOGGERS DO IT WITH ONE HAND ON THE KEYBOARD

BLOGGERS DO IT WITH ONE HAND ON THE KEYBOARD

This morning on my way to work I passed by a beat-up white van with a ladder clamped to the side and a bumper sticker that read:

“ELEVATOR MEN DO IT UP AND DOWN”

It made me wonder where one would purchase such a bumper sticker. Surely, the market for elevator men products was fairly narrow. There must’ve been an elevator men trade show or convention, I figured, an event which probably took place on a high floor of some swanky downtown hotel so the attendees could admire the building’s elevators on their way up. “They got an XG-2000 here, ya know,” they’d say to each other as they scribbled names like “Gus” and “Julio” on their name badges. “Yeah, that’s one smooth ride!” And then, while sipping complimentary coffee mixed with lukewarm hotel creamer, they’d survey the souvenir table and discover the “do it” bumper stickers. Gus would belch out a big massive belly laugh that would shake the room, and Julio would say “Aw, man, I gotta get one a’ those for my van!”

And then I realized the reason I was focusing so much on the origin of the bumper sticker:

I had no idea what it actually meant.

Clearly, it’s something sexual, but the literal meaning kind of escapes me. “Up and down”? I don’t want to think too much about elevator man sex, but what exactly goes up and what goes down? Doesn’t all sex include some degree of “up and down”? Is that what they’re talking about? Why not something simpler like, “Elevator men know how to press the buttons”? Wait, does that make sense? What about “Elevator men do it on every floor?” I wasn’t even sure if there was a double entendre in my own dirty jokes.

It’s kind of an embarrassing confession, but the truth is I’ve always been clueless about sex jokes. I remember when I was about 7 or 8 years old I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Nurses call the shots!” I liked it so much, I pointed it out to my Mom. “Isn’t that great?” I said.

My mom made that jeery sour face moms make when they feel their child is being corrupted. “It’s disgusting!” she sneered.

It was only from witnessing my mother’s reaction that I realized the bumper sticker was implying something sexual. I had been thinking it was simply some kind of nurse empowerment slogan, the RNs’ way of demanding respect from those stuck-up doctors.

Social hierarchies have made sense to me from a young age. Sex still confuses me.

Okay, I’ve got it: “Elevator men do it in a big, shiny box.”

Wait, does that make sense?

LISTENING TO THE HITS

LISTENING TO THE HITS

Any chance I get to write about Omarosa, I will.

I’ve been getting tons of hits for “Omarosa Herbal Essence” the last few days due to a random coincidence by which two of my recent posts placed those terms in close proximity. And now, finally, I can provide some valuable information on the subject.

According to the NY Post, everyone’s favorite plaster-chunk-battered concussion victim shot a commercial for the fragrant hair product and told the world she was their spokesperson. The world responded with a resounding “Uh-uhhhhhhh!!!!”, bombarding Herbal Essence with letters threatening a boycott. And now it looks like Herbal Essence has dropped the Jessica Simpson-absconding Kwame-thwarter and possibly scrapped their commercials altogether.

Now, how long do you suppose it’ll be before our favorite phone-call-dodging Erica-slanderer calls Herbal Essence racist?

That’s the scoop, and with that, Why Jerry Why remains your #23 source for Omarosa Herbal Essence gossip.