Saturday, December 19, 2015

What I Brag About When I Brag About Running: Weeks 4 and 5

I fell behind on my chronicling of my quest to complete THE GREATEST PHYSICAL FEAT KNOWN TO MAN, so this week I'm doubling up.

Day 22
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
4 miles - 3 miles easy comfortable, 1 mile faster

I ran around the CUA campus to get some hill work in, then finished on Garbage Road. I found out that, after you finish a run, the Nike App lets you check your pace at any moment during the run. I found this because for the last mile I was booking it, going hard, maxing my zone! and it took me 9'41". It felt like I was near my top speed, so how could that be? Luckily, by turning my phone sideways, selecting a different display mode, and running my finger along a graph (so intuitive!) I was able to learn that, for that mile, my pace fluctuated between 8'14" and 10'58". Though I had to turn around twice, so that would explain the dips in pace.

Day 23
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
3.8 miles - 1 mile warm up, .75 mile interval (fast), .25 mile slower, .75 fast, 1 mile light cool down.

Geez, Nike Running App, I didn't start running to do math. I just want to run. Not wanting to do math is also why I haven't altered my diet since beginning this. I hear tell of people doing meal plans, tracking caloric and protein intake in relation to their body weight. That sounds boring as hell. Scheduling and math are my least favorite activities. I want no part of that.

Speaking of food, tonight I ran on the track at Turkey Thicket, a rec center near my old apartment. Across the street a new wings take-out place had opened. Running on a track engulfed by the wafts of delicious chicken wing smell is not an activity that I recommend.

Day 24
Thursday, December 3, 2015
4 miles - easy comfortable pace

I hate running. Not really, I just hate running in the morning. It's mostly the waking up early part to get in a morning run, but morning is the only time to do it without wasting quality winter dusk time. Maybe it's winter that I hate.

Ran out and back on the MBT.

Day 25
Friday, December 4, 2015

Finally, the App and I are on the same page in terms of what Fridays are for.

Day 26
Saturday, December 5, 2015
2 miles - 1 mile warm up, 1 mile with 3 20-second strides (bursts of speed, faster than 5k pace)

I skipped today. The wheels are coming off! Can you feel it?
I didn't run in the morning, because, duh, waking up early to run before work on a Saturday is stupid. I didn't run in the evening, because video games and a party called to me. Also, two miles is stupid. I'm way too advanced for that.

Day 27
Sunday, Decebmer 6, 2015
3 miles - 2 miles at controlled Race Pace, 1 mile faster challenging pace.

According to the App this is my 5k milestone. The intention is probably for me to sign up for a race. I did not. But I did run very fast on Garbage Road without listening to any music or podcasts. Just me and the road. I know that running a marathon any aural assistance (like they did in ancient times) will be mentally tougher than running a 26.2 miles with the aid of Simon and Garfunkle's entire catalogue (my Power Song is Bridge Over Troubled Water), so I'm starting to mix in some runs sans audio. This one wasn't bad because I could focus on how my blazing speed made my thighs feel. My three miles were 9'28", 8'58", and 8'41". In the biz we call that running a negative split.

I've seen articles and blogs discussing pacing strategies for Race Day. Everone has decided that the obviously bad technique of banking time (running extra fast at the start to make use of energy while you still have it) doesn't work. Instead it's best to aim for negative splits, running each mile a little faster than the previous one. I understand the point of not coming out of the gate like a crazy person, but running 26 miles incrementally faster seems like a poor use of mental energy. Surely a general increase in speed/effort throughout the race works just as well. I suppose trying to rune the next mile 2 to 4 seconds faster than the previous, so as to leave enough room for improvement over the next dozen increases, could be a nice way to pass the hours.

Day 28
Monday, December 7, 2015

I just realized that each week on the Nike Running App Marathon Coach Training Plan(tm) has a motivational title. Week 1 was Warm-Up, week 2 Fundamentals, week 3 Build a Base, and week 4 (the week I just completed) is Build Strenght. I'll start adding those to the beginning of each post so we all know what exactly I'm supposed to be doing.

Week 5 Build Endurance
Day 29
Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Holy crap! Two days of rest. I earned it by killing it so hard on my 5k.

Day 30
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
5 miles - easy comfortable pace

I ran on the Turkey Thicket track. The wing place, America's Best Wings, still smells great.

Day 31
Thursday, December 10, 2015
4 miles - 3 easy comfortable, 1 mile faster

Ran a new route! 7th to Franklin to Michigan to 7th. It's a triangle! It's about a 2 mile loop with a massive decline with an immediate massive incline. I got nothing else. Not every day comes with a nugget of wisdom.

Day 32
Friday, December 11, 2015


Day 33
Saturday, December 12, 2015
4 miles - 3 miles easy comfortable, 1 mile faster

A lot going on for this run. I had a headache when I started, possibly from not drinking enough water. I ran at Turkey Thicket, and it was late enough that the track was empty. That meant I got to run clockwise, the opposite direction as usual. It's a big deal. I was in a whole new world. Plus, one of the street lamps along the track would turn on and off. Or my eyesight was just going in and out. I may have been having a stroke.

Tonight was also a lesson in "perceived effort." It felt like I was running at a quick pace, and on the last mile I was near sprinting. My times did not reflect this. But if I'd tried to keep up with some ideal pace, then I would have blown out a buttock.

Day 34
Sunday, December 13, 2015
6 miles - easy comfortable pace

Did an out and back on the MBT at an extremely easy and comfortable pace. My legs are sore, my joints and muscles hurt, and it feels like I'm running through honey. It will be interesting to see how many "My legs are filled with" X or "I'm running through" X comparisons I eventually come up with. In seven weeks I'll be saying "It feels like my legs have been replaced with dead hookers."

Day 35
Monday, December 14, 2015

Seriously, my legs are tired.
On the plus side, I bought new running shoes today. Now I can rotate between pairs, which I guess is a thing you're supposed to do. Saucony Guide 8s! Last years model for half the price. They are black and green, and look like something the Riddler from Batman Forever might wear.

Edward Nigma likes to exercise his body as well as his mind.

Hip replacement. Don't all runners have to get at least one later in life? It's like I'm sprinting towards major surgery!

Career Nike Running Stats
Runs - 135
Miles - 462.7
Avg. Pace - 10'05"
MPR - 3.42

Friday, December 11, 2015

Dear Diary: Nudism is the True Message of the Creation Myth in Genesis

Dear Diary,

There are a lot of things about religion that don't quite make sense or are just silly. Like heaven being a place where God gives you 72 inexperienced lovers to slay, or God causing earthquakes but getting offended when we don't thank him for killing someone besides us in those earthquakes. When I think of religion it's usually Christianity, because I live in the USA and that's the religion that's constantly up in my grill. If another faith were the dominant denomination my examples and ire would come from it. Judaism keeps a low profile in the states, so it isn't the burden that Christianity can be. There's a reason you don't hear about Torah Thumpers. Still, when I see a person wearing yarmulke I'm reminded that Jews aren't above reproach either. A god overly concerned with fashion isn't one I'm not slaughtering my lambs for. If you're significant other demanded that you wear a special, tiny hat at all times your friends would ridicule you for complying, and eventually encourage you in earnest to dump this person. Your hypothetical partner has severe issues.

But Jewish Americans aren't making up lies claiming that Ben Franklin intended for our bifocals to be based on Abrahamic tradition, so they aren't the focus of my hot take. That focus is American Christianity. What irks me about Christians is how the interpretations and applications of the Bible seem so easily debunked, while more obvious take-aways are missed. I'm not talking about the contentious verses debated over, such as those concerning homosexuality, where one side argues that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of butt stuff and the other side argues "nu uh, it was because they were bad hosts." This is where I lose the thread of that debate. It is my understanding that gay people throw exceptional dinner parties, and you want me to believe they were inhospitable? Nonetheless, that story seems to have multiple valid interpretations. Making the connection between God bombing a city and the forced anal entry (no one seems to think it might be the rape God is upset with) isn't difficult to understand.

What I am not willing to hear is whatever wrong headed notions you have about the story of Adam and Eve being anything other than an endorsement of the nudist lifestyle. I've read the story a few times thanks to being raised Catholic and having to retake Western Civ. II in college, so I can give you the Spark Notes version of it (because that's the version I read). God created the earth and filled with luscious plants, super cool animals like vegetarian tigers, and two humans. These humans were nude. Their stuff was hanging out in the breeze but they didn't care, because God made them to not care and he made all animals vegetarian, so no awkward mosquito bites. Though, if mosquitoes aren't sucking blood what exactly is the point of mosquitoes? The only other thing they do is fly into ears which helps no one. So, Adam and Eve and every other living animal are lounging around in the Garden of Eden. God says to Adam and Eve, "This is exactly as I had envisioned this project in my mind's eye. You two and the animals living carefree lives, eating all of the plants except for that one. Don't eat the fruit from the tree in middle of the garden."

This is seems like a terrible plan on the surface. Why put the forbidden thing in a central location and not off to the side or some weird corner no one walks past? You wouldn't put a hot stove in the middle of a Chuck. E. Cheese and give a five minute lecture to all the kids about why they should cut loose but definitely don't touch the stove. You're asking for trouble. Kids are dumb. There will be tears and burnt skin. However, God endowed Eve and Adam not only with supreme body positivity but also free will, and since this was his first attempt he wanted to see how well it worked. That's why he puts the pear tree of forbidden enlightenment in the middle of the garden and watched things play out. What good is free will without conflict or temptation? Do you think God was on pins and needles over which stream Adam and Eve were going swimming in today? No. You gotta see that fee will in action.

So, God lays out the grounds rules and leaves them to it. Then the serpent talks to Eve while she's by herself (It's nice that she and Adam weren't smothering each other. You need outside interests.) and persuades her to eat from the forbidden tree. Crazy, right? Apparently God gave free will to the serpent, too. What about the otters in the Garden, did they get free will? I want an otter-centric Bible. If the serpent doesn't have free will, then guess what? God made the serpent tempt Eve and set the serpent up as a fall guy.

 Which is it, biblical scholars? Did God give free will to reptiles or did he make Adam and Eve just to have someone to yell at?

Anyway, Eve is on board with the serpent's plan and eats the fruit. She suddenly realizes that she is naked and is embarrassed that a talking snake with legs has seen her bush. She makes a bikini out of some leaves then goes to Adam to tell him to eat the fruit. Adam has the same "Oh no, my butt's just out there" moment and also makes some leafy briefs.

If I told you to go to your nearest botanical garden and make a pair of shorts, how long would you need? I don't think I could do it in less than 4 hours. There's going to be a lot of trial and error. I don't have experience constructing clothes, but at least I know of the concepts of pants and belts. Adam and Eve had no frame of reference. They didn't just whip up those outfits.

God sees that they're covering their bits and he is shocked. Shocked! at this development. Adam and Eve explain that they are ashamed of their nakedness and wanted to not be so casual. God knows what's up (probably because he made the serpent sabotage them) and dishes out all sorts of horrible punishments before banishing them from the Garden of Eden. The punishments include painful childbirth and death, which implies that painless childbirth and eternal life were on the table.

That's the story. Or the part that I'm concerned with. Big Christianity wants you to think that the moral of the story is humans are inherently bad and prone to go against God's wishes. And maybe we are. I won't argue that that isn't an aspect of the story. But what Big Christianity doesn't want you to think about is how God's original plan was for all of us to be pantsless. Adam and Eve are created feeling no shame at being naked in front of each other or in front of God or the hippos. He left the shame feature out of humans and put it in a fruit bearing tree. Since he's all mighty and all knowing we can assume he didn't forget to put it in Adam and Eve (though he did forget that the serpent was a scheming little so-and-so). The dress code is 100% nudity. After Adam and Eve have eaten the forbidden fruit, the way God knows something is amiss is that they are no longer nude. I'll repeat that: the humans wearing clothes is God's first clue that something bad has happened. In God's perfect world no one is wearing anything.

What's more is that God wasn't thinking there would be only two mature, consenting(?) adult living in the buff. Remember, as punishment he took away painless childbirth and eternal life. If Adam and Eve had toed the line it would have been them and their offspring living in the buff for eternity. Basically, God was founding the first hippie commune. 

Any self-proclaimed Christian who doesn't acknowledge and accept the holy father's freeballing intention for humanity has either never actually read Genesis or only wants to use the Bible to justify his own opinions. Shockingly, almost none do acknowledge this. Quite the opposite in fact. Think of the puritans who sought to cover the human body from neck to toe. They tought God's creation was shameful. They focused on the feeling created by people eating the forbidden fruit. They thought showing your body was shameful, when really it's the opposie. 

Christians also think that Adam and Eve's disobedience marked all of humanity causing us all to be born with Original Sin.This is why babies are baptized, to clear them of the original sin. And when a baby is baptized, what does he have on? A special white outfit. Why not just spit in God's face? The entire reason you have to wash the dirty souls of babies is also what lead to history's first custom fitting (does Adam dress left or right?) and all clothing. And we cover babies in bright, white garments for the ceremony just so God can see that we aren't letting go of the whole body shaming thing. He must love that. The babies should be nude for their baptisms as a sign of capitulation to God's original intent. 

We should all be nude. There's no way around the fact that it was part of the Lord's plan for us all along. And any good Christian will tell you the same. Any Christian not professing the nudist/naturist lifestyle hates God. 



Thursday, December 3, 2015

What I Brag About When I Brag About Running: Week 3

Day 15
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
3 miles - 2 miles easy comfortable, 1 mile faster

Ran early before work along the MBT, because tonight I leave on a Thanksgiving road trip. My conditioning is getting better. My slow miles were around 9'40" and my fast one was 9'17". Keeping my slow pace where it was a few weeks ago is difficult CUZ MY PISTONS ARE READY TO FIRE! LET'S LET THE HORSE OUT OF THE BARN! Keep in mind that I'm still running slower than what I was two years ago, so I still feel like a slow loser with Father Time's clutches tightening around my ankles.

Day 16
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
5 miles - 2 miles easy comfortable, 2 miles increasing pace, 1 mile cool down

Missed run. Last night I drove from DC to Akron, Ohio. I'm not so hardcore yet that I'll search for a route near a Red Roof Inn next to a highway in Akron so I can get in a morning run. I'll skip that day. And after driving 12 hours to Omaha I was not motivated to run at 10 pm.

Day 17
Thursday, November 26, 2015
3 miles - easy comfortable

Thanksgiving! My family opted out of our semi-traditional Turkey Trot. My dad said, "I ran a solo 5k yesterday, so I'm good."

I ran 5 miles to make up for yesterday. It was cold, windy, and rainy, which really kept the monotony of running on a middle school track at bay. Even though it was 33 degrees, I opted to wear long socks and regular shorts rather than tights. Quickly, my thighs turned bright red, and I lost feeling in my "swimsuit area." (Today, I read in a winter running guide that, "frostbite does not discriminate." Words to bundle up by.)

On the plus side, I clocked every mile between 9'06" and 9'29", which could either be attributed to me wanting to be done and go inside where the delicious food awaited me or to a GPS tracking error. I hope it's the former, but would bet on the latter, since me running mile 5 at 9'13" seems improbable. On one side of the track I was running into a fairly strong wind. The other half, rather than wind at my back, featured no wind, an interesting phenomenon caused by, either, trees or the unfairness of the universe. Wind at my back for half of each lap would have been helpful.

Running in inclement weather is my favorite kind of idiocy/lunacy. Running, going fast just to go fast, by itself is odd. Doing it in the rain, wind, or snow is to luxuriate in physical discomfort for its own sake and tell nature, "Even though humans have many inventions to mitigate your impact, I will still sprint through your nastiness as a hobby." And when the Nike Running App Lady chimed "One mile to go" as wind and rain spat in my face, I let out a delirious cackle and pumped my arms at strange angles. You can't stop me, Nature!

Day 18
Friday, November 27, 2015

I was going to use this as a make-up day, but the roads were icy. You stopped me, Nature! You win this round.

Day 19
Saturday, November 28, 2015
3 miles - 2 easy comfortable, 1 mile faster


Day 20
Sunday, November 29, 2015
6 miles - easy comfortable

But not this one!
The weather was actually clear, so I had nothing to rage against other than the cold. I ran an out and back on a road behind my sister's house, then got in a car and drove to South Bend, Indiana.

Day 21
Monday, November 30, 2015

This weeks concerns:
1. What are shin splints? Should I buy a pair?
2. Beard condensation. No one told me about this. But I have noticed that after running, my beard is wet from my breath condensing (condensating?) on it. Will I develop sweet icicles on it once the weather gets really cold?

Career Nike Running Stats
Runs - 127
Miles - 426.4
MPR - 3.36
Avg. Pace - 10'03"

Monday, November 23, 2015

What I Brag About When I Brag About Running: Week 2

Day 8
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
3 miles - 2 miles easy, comfortable pace 1 mile faster pace

I ran along Garbage Road again, but this time at night. Well, at 6:30pm when it was completely dark. #EndDaylightSavings

Nike Running Coach suggested two miles at an easy pace, then one mile at a challenging pace. I decided to start at a slightly quicker than normal pace and then kick it up to a fast pace. It was a terrible mistake. I don't think I mentioned when first telling the tale of Garbage Road that both ends of it slant uphill. They are not fun to run up. Plus, when you turn around to do another lap, they trick you into thinking you can run at a quicker pace, because gravity is helping you. My point is that I was tricked by a hill. And my thighs hurt.

Day 9
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
5 miles - 1 mile warm up, 3.5 miles fartlek, 0.5 mile cool down

Ran along the MBT at 7am (an early morning run for me) doing an out-of-shape man's fartlek. 1 minute walking, 1 minute slow jogging, 2 minutes faster jogging, repeat until miles completed. May have frightened/confused some kids on their way to school with my sweaty, bearded self loping down the road.

Day 10
Thursday, November 19, 2015
3 miles - easy, comfortable pace

I didn't run before work, because I had to do dog related things: buy food, clean up puke. The usual. This means I will have to run around 10pm. This morning, when I was doing errands, the idea of running was bumming me out. My legs and hips were sore and tired. Not a lot, but enough that I would not exercise if I didn't have to.

Later that night
I ran at 10:20pm. Which brought my November total to 26 miles, the equivalent of a marathon. Now I just have to compress that into one morning.

Day 11
Friday, November 20, 2015
Cross Train

In lieu of cross training I slept until I absolutely had to get up for work. And after work I made sweet potatoes and marshmallows for Friendsgiving. While that was baking, I laid on the couch watching Weekend at Bernie's with my dog. I feel like this will pay off in the long run.

Day 12
Saturday, November 21, 2015
3 miles - 2 miles easy, 1 mile faster

Today is Friendsgiving, so I had to run before work to leave time for consumption of food. I ran at 7:30am, because I set my alarm for 6:30pm and overslept. Someday I will master the early morning run. I ran a loop down 7th to Franklin to 4th to Michigan. It's 1.3 miles, so each mile finishes slightly before where it started. I finished my 3 miles at the point farthest from my apartment as possible. Still, it was a good departure from running up and down Garbage Road or out and back on the MBT. I need to find more good loops to run. My hilly, weirdly laid out neighborhood makes that a little tough.

Day 13
Sunday, November 22, 2015
5 miles - easy, comfortable pace

Ran a new loop, a triangle from 10th along Monroe St. to Eastern Ave., Eastern Ave. to Sergeant/13th St., and back down to Monroe. It was scenic, but very hilly. I'm sure I'll run it (or a variation of it) again since it's an even five miles. Eastern Ave. runs along the DC-Maryland border through the Mt. Rainier neighborhood. DC, like all cities, has nice looking and run-down looking neighborhoods. What's special about about DC is that it's a big city in a small space, so the changes from one to another can be abrupt. An exciting (possibly too strong of a word) part of running a new route through new neighborhoods is finding out what they're like. I don't often think "Oh shit, where am I?" (because I avoid those places), but when I neared the first corner of my triangle route I started to wonder where I was headed. Fortunately my worries were short lived. I crossed a street and instantly found myself in Suburbia.

Day 14
Monday, November 23, 2015

Things I Am Currently Haunted By The Prospect Of Because I Read Too Many First Time Marathon Guides
1. Chafing - When will it start? Will my hairy chest keep my nipples safe?
2. Having to poop on a long run - Will Starbucks offer me safe haven?
3. My toenails - Will they turn black and fall off? Will it look cool?

Career Nike Running Stats: 
Runs - 124
Miles - 414.3
MPR - 3.34
Avg. Pace - 10' 03"

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What I Brag About When I Brag About Running: Week 1

Day 1
Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I'm using the Nike Running App as my training guide. The App, no matter what distance you are training for, starts on a rest day. 5k, Half-Marathon, whatever; Day One - Take it easy, you've done enough. I know this is for scheduling reasons. The program ends on Race Day, so the day farthest away ends up being a recovery day, once you're in the thick of it. It's still weird to get a reminder on your phone that reads, "Training starts tomorrow with nothing." I feel like I should have done something to justify that day of rest.

In a way, maybe I have. I've had a cold the last four days. It feels like my head is bursting with old chewing gum. I'm also writing this at a bar with a lovely American Pale Ale in front of me. After this, I plan on going across the street to my apartment and dosing myself with Nyquil. That way my immune system can annihilate the demon inside of me. Tomorrow's four miles should be fun.

I'm not a morning person, so a morning run seems foolish to hope for. However, we just fell back into Daylight Savings (or out of it?), and the prospect of post-sundown afternoon runs seems depressing. I suspect eventually I will have to wrench myself out of bed before work to run. Especially if I'm ever going to make it to happy hour.

Day 2
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
4 miles - 1 mile warm up, 2.5 miles of Fartlek (2 min. fast, 2 min. slow), .5 mile cool down

As predicted, I did not wake up early and get my run out of the way. I did wake up early 4 am, and then again at 6 am, because of my cold. Or because I sedated myself so early the night before. Though I was very much awake at 4 am, I opted to stay in bed and think about all of the snot fossilizing inside of my head.

I ended up running at 4:30 pm. I left work early because of my cold, but read on the internet that the rule for running is that if the illness is above your neck that it's generally safe. I guess. (Get out there, sufferers of migraines!) I did a pre-run shot of Dayquil and ran on the MBT (Maryland Branch Trail), which goes along the Red Line from my neighborhood towards Union Station. I passed a group of kids on bikes taking up the whole path, but I stood my ground! The kid coming at me had to swerve at the last second. I'm not the one balancing on two wheels, buddy. You have more to lose than me.

I hate doing fartleks, but I kind of already knew that.

Day 3
Thursday, November 12, 2015
3 miles - easy, comfortable pace

Today felt pretty good. I'm still sniffly and plugged up, but my legs only felt like sandbags for teh first few minutes. I ran along Garbage Road since today is only three miles. Garbage Road's proper name is John McCormack Drive NE. It runs between the Catholic University Campus and the Metro tracks, ending at Fort Totten Transfer Station, which is a garbage dump. Because it ends at a garbage dump, garbage trucks often drive on it. On Thursdays, like today, I foolishly opt for late morning jogs along Garbage Road because I forget about the parade of garbage trucks. I'm kind of dumb. The damp weather today muffled the smells. There have been summer days when I have dry-heaved at the smell. Every two minutes a truck passes, and when a fresh, hot wave of trash-air goes down your throat as you huff along it can cause problems.

Why run this route? Garbage Road's allure is simple. It is straight, mostly flat, and empty. On a short run, I can just go out and back a few times, and no one is ever in my way. I don't understand people who run on crowded sidewalks in areas that are always crowded. Don't people who run in the Plaza in KC or Georgetown in DC get tired of dodging around people? Georgetown has narrow brick sidewalks. It is a stupid place to run. Wouldn't having a good run be better than being seen running? Maybe going around people and off the curb is good lateral motion exercise. I should try it.

Day 4
Friday, November 13, 2015
Cross Train

I did not cross train. I have a suspicion that the Friday Cross Training days will become floating, secondary rest days. Which I've already set the tone for.

Day 5
Saturday, November 14, 2015
3 miles - 2 miles easy pace, 1 mile at faster pace

First missed day! Break out the champagne! I stuck to my training regimen for almost a week!

Just kidding, I was traveling from DC to Kansas for my Grandmother Holmes' funeral. It was only a short run and I skipped it for a good reason. I'm glad that my first skipped day was because I was on planes and with my family, rather than because I wanted to catch the last half of Bring It On on cable.

Day 6
Sunday, November 15, 2015
5 miles - easy, comfortable pace

I ran mid-morning on Burroughs Creek Trail and up to Mass. Street in Lawrence. It was pretty windy, especially when going south. Five miles is 1.55 miles less than my farthest run, according to The App. For this reason, I had to engage in psychological trickery/fantasy. I'm not proud that it's only Day 6 and had to resort to such tactics. But I was staring down this:

Leaked set photos from True Detective Season 3!!!!!
The wind was in my face and on a path that just vanishes into the distance. So, I imagined that I was Chain Chomp from Mario Kart, slowly laying waste to everything in front of me. It worked. 

Day 7
Monday, November 16, 2015

Traveled back from Kansas to DC. 

Career Nike Running Stats: 
Runs - 119
Miles - 395.2
MPR - 3.32
Avg. Pace - 10'02"

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What I Brag About When I Brag About Running: Part 1: A Bold Claim

Listen gang, it's time to face facts. I'm not vegan, I didn't rescue my dog from a deathmatch gambling ring, and I don't volunteer at soup kitchens, so I don't have much to lord over people as evidence that I am in some way superior. Which is why I'm going to have to run a marathon. And it might not end well.

Some years ago, my family decided to participate in a Thanksgiving 5K run. These are known nationwide as Turkey Trots. Every single 5k on the last Thursday in November, from Spokane to Schenectady, is a Turkey Trot. Those in my family who anticipated needing third helpings of pie justified that urge by standing outside earlier than necessary on a morning that was colder than was necessary. This became a tradition. And let me tell you, turkey tastes better and the post-meal nap is more refreshing when your legs are jiggling like that weird orange jello mold with carrots in it.

I believe, as hearty, folksy, salty-earthy Kansans, we were perfectly suited for Turkey Trots. There's a lame joke about weather in Kansas (and probably a few other places): Don't like it? Wait 5 minutes and it will change. There's a reason many people recite this zinger with a defeated tone. We've been on the business end of an unexpected cold front. Running a 5K in late November mimics the wildly erratic weather patterns that accompany the changing seasons in the Midwest. Before the race begins, it is bracingly cold. Standing there in lightweight running gear allows that cold to get nice and intimate. Usually there is a seven to ten minute wait between lining up and actual running. I find that screaming helps me keep Jack Frost at bay. Once the race begins things start to get better. The chill invigorates you and breathing no longer feels like a metal rake scraping across your lungs. It's gone from bitterly cold to pleasantly cool. After settling into a groove, you can enjoy the scenery and maybe pass a third grader who couldn't pace himself. Eventually your layered gear betrays you and you realize that you are stewing under your Nike SolarTherm Tec Pullover. You peel the layers off and ditch your complimentary Turkey Trot beanie in a stranger's garbage can, because you are now burning up. And just like an April day on the plains, you have gone from winter clothes to shirtless with hair plastered to your forehead with sweat in less than an hour.

These Turkey Trots were my introduction to organized running (for pleasure, not gym class). Eventually, once a year was not enough, and I started to sign up for other, non-holiday related 5Ks. Earlier this year I ran in a 10K for the first time. 5Ks were now kid stuff. If I'm going to pay money and drive out to some dinky town's Old Settlers Run then I need to be running for more than half an hour. Since then, I have participated in one other 10K. Or most of one. It wasn't my fault. I asked a cop if I was supposed to turn down a street that other runners were on. He said yes. That was wrong. I cut the second loop I was supposed to be running in half. I probably should have studied the course map a little closer, but that doesn't mean the course wasn't poorly labeled.

I was still encouraged by how great I felt after running those 8ish kilometers. Rather than taking the next logical and doing a 10-miler or a half-marathon (or competently running a second 10K), I  have decided to throw logic down the garbage disposal and commit myself to a marathon. I will self-immolate and become a chariot of fire. My training program of choice (via Nike Running) is 24 weeks long. Using that time frame I sought a nearby race happening in April. Fortune smiled upon me in the form of the Gettysburg Marathon, a race as ridiculous as my decision to run it. Participants, when registering, must decide to run for either the North or the South. The two sides then compete for the best results. As the official website states, runners use their own criteria to choose their sides. It could be where they live, where they're from, a familial connection, or their feelings about slavery. That one isn't true. But, even though it's just a marathon and the choosing sides is just for fun, I still can't fathom that there are people who will pick the South. Who would dedicate their 26.2 miles to the forced servitude team? Did I mention that the free shirt comes in gray or blue based on the team? I'm going to judge the hell out of everyone in gray. Really, the Gettysburg Marathon is the perfect first marathon, because the finisher's medal features the U.S.A. and Confederate flags. Such a motif ensures that the medal will not be worn or displayed anywhere, anytime.

I spent yesterday and the day before entering my runs into my calendar. It was shocking to block off three hours. That would be like if I went to see The Wolf of Wall Street and instead of a seat I had a treadmill set to a moderate pace. I can't really wrap my mind around that. And when I google "How the hell do you run a marathon" things about energy gels, hydration schedules, and chaffing come up. There is all this extra stuff you have to know about and monitor in order to run super duper far. I'm not the best at self-reflection, so the idea of tracking how well a meal agreed with my level of exertion seems tedious and embarrassing. I'm only doing this to overcome the physical discomfort and the monotony. I hadn't counted on logistics being the thing that brought me down.

Speaking of monotony, the Gettysburg Marathon, because some of the route is not fully closed to traffic, does not allow headphones. That might be the most frightening prospect, spending 1/4 of a day running without Queen to propel me along. 

Me, in less pain than I currently have my sights set on. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Photograph: Alternate Perspective Scene

This scene is an exercise based on a story I've bee working on about a kid who finds a polaroid of a naked woman in a library book. The kid in the alley is the main character of that story. This is a scene from a different person's perspective. 

Closing in the summer is the worst. In the winter you walk through the kitchen feeling the air temperature drop as you get closer to the cold  that seeps through the gaps around the door or comes crashing in like a wave when someone goes out to smoke. You don't even need your coat. The heat and sweat from working give you three refreshing minutes outside. The perspiration crystallizes into sludge on your back and it's relief. The air deadens the food smell in your nostrils and the gray alley feels cozy. You throw the trash in the dumpster and it barely stinks. The air is hard and resists the smell. There's only the far-off scent of smoke. It might be a chimney, but it might be that brittle winter nights always smell like smoke.

If it's the second or fourth Sunday of the month you have to drain the fryers into a bucket, then pour that into the grease trap next to the dumpster. Winter is no match for that smell. You have to hope there's not slush or ice, because if there isn't you can be quick and hold your breath. When that's over, you start to realize that you're sleeveless outside at 10:30 pm in January and it's time to go inside.

Summer is atrocious. The alley is hotter and thicker than the kitchen with the heat from the ovens and steam from the dishwashers. Inside, air is shuffled around by fans, the AC, doors opening and closing. You go outside and dark summer air sits on you like a wet towel you'll never find the edges of. There's nothing to savor, like there is in winter. As soon as you're out the door the dumpster smell walks up into your nostrils and down your throat. You can only jogwalk while holding your breath until you get back inside. The chemical steam of the dishwasher will seem like a Yankee candle. If it's grease trap week, you can't run because you'll spill. You just step quick. Alley dumpsters behind restaurants are like Satan's crockpots. Stewed rancid muck slow cooks on metal and wafts down the brick and asphalt corridor. Work enough shifts and you'll feel that scent dripping onto your tonsils every time you look down an alley.

One time, I was closing at some casual modern place--the kind with artisanal pizzas where they use every kind of olive except black, like traditional pizza is so gauche. Well, I was running some trash and had just gotten a couple of bags from the kitchen, not even a third full, but sagging with slop. I toss those normal, then go back to get the bathroom trash. When I go back outside, there's some skinny black kid standing next to his bike in the middle of the alley. He rode up in the two minutes it took me to go in and grab the bags. He's just standing there looking down the alley. He had a piece of paper--it looked like a polaroid-- in his hand that he kept looking at. I kind of stood there and watched him to see what he would do, but he never moved. When I let the dumpster lid close he noticed me. I asked if he was all right; he said yes and rode off. But he'd been standing there for a long time just staring at the alley. It was weird as shit.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Dear Diary: Wanna Be Your Super Hero

Dear Diary,

I was thinking about the television program Entourage, as I frequently do, while pining for someone to hug it out with. Or someone with whom out I might hug it, if you're a stickler for grammar. One of the fun things that would happen on that show was celebrities would appear as themselves. During the end credits you would see: Guest starring Kanye West as Kanye West, Jessica Alba as Jessica Alba, Gary Busey as Gary Busey, Brooke Shields as Brook Shields. It was a fun treat for the viewers, to be sure, but it also added to the show's already impeccable realism of the Neo-Golden Age Hollywood we currently live in (or near). "Hey, there's Chuck Lidell," you'd think, "appearing as himself, the MMA fighter. Chuck Lidell is an MMA fighter in my universe AND in Vinny, E, Turtle, and Drama's universe. It's like they're gallivanting in the same world in which I'm a corporate cog." It allowed you to become even more absorbed in the gang's hijinks, knowing that they too had a Bob Saget fucking prostitutes with money earned from your Friday night family time.

But there was a twist to this. Entourage would also have well-known actors and actresses playing characters other than themselves. Val Kilmer appeared as The Sherpa, a weed growing hippie guru type. Leighton Meester portrayed Justine Chapin, a pop star who trades in virginal sexuality. In Entourage: The Movie, Billy Bob Thorton and Haley Joel Osment play a father and son duo named Larsen and Travis McCredle. This begs the very obvious question: Do all of the celebrities playing other roles still exist for Vince and the Boys?If Brooke Shields exists in Entourage Land, does Val Kilmer? Does Terrance McQueuwick's existence preclude that of Malcolm McDowell? If so, who was in Clockwork Orange and Caligula in the Entourageverse? When Turtle watches Bad Santa, who is the titular ill-mannered Kris Kringle? Jim Carrey? In Entourage: The Movie, does Vince leave his meeting with Larsen McCredle thinking "Man, he looks just like Billy Bob!"

Does Entourage exist in a universe where some of the celebrities we know don't exist but most of them do? Or in the Entrouageverse is every character played by a real celebrity the identical twin of that celebrity? That's going to be my headcannon. In Entourage Dan Castellaneta's twin brother is the principal at a Hollywood private school.

These are the thoughts that plague me late at night as the minutes slip from my future and my past piles up behind me.



Saturday, October 3, 2015

Let's Do A Writing Prompt: Road Side

In modern storytelling, a deus ex machina is a plot device in which a dramatic and oftentimes contrived occurrence suddenly saves the day or solves a seemingly impossible problem.​ This week, write a short story using this device in the form of a character, object, or new found ability. How will you manipulate the pacing to create the most effective sense of surprise? Consider the tone of the story, perhaps incorporating tragedy and comedy, as you lead up to the unexpected turn of events.


"What the fuck is that supposed to mean!" 

The man did a little hop when the question exploded from his mouth, wisps of long white hair bobbed gently on the side of his otherwise bald head. Simon already felt stressed enough with his life crumbling in chunks like an abandoned house. He'd forgotten to call Leslie after their screaming match, which he was pretty sure had been his fault or he'd made it worse by saying meaner things than she had. He'd started ordering double Captain and Cokes halfway through the night and couldn't remember anymore, and now it'd been almost a week. He wanted to give her space, but now her friends had started calling to say he still had a chance to win her back. Plus, his hours at the coffee shop had been cut and he hadn't started applying for other part-time work. Which had caused his roommates to act weird when he asked them to cover his part of the bills temporarily. So many things were contributing to Simon's general sense of tension, and now this man was yelling pointless questions at him. The aggression, Simon felt, wasn't helping an already inconvenient situation.

"Like I said, I don't have any insurance right now," it was another thing that fallen onto the back burner. "It's a pretty straightforward statement. I don't know what you mean by what do I mean." 

"I'm having trouble understanding why you would be driving a car when you don't have insurance." 

The man stomped his foot and looked, to Simon, a little childish throwing such a fit on the side of the highway. He would have been embarrassed for the man if there had been any other cars in sight. 

"Why the fuck would you be driving while uninsured? You'd better have some fucking money to pay for this." 

Simon looked at the cosmetic damage to the man's driver's side doors that had occurred when he had attempted to change lanes before he noticed the man in his blind spot. It was a gray breezy day on the long straight stretch of highway and Simon lingered in the right lane. It was his favorite kind of weather, and he found it held his attention more than two mid-level sedans on the shoulder of a road.

"I'll be honest with you, I've been meaning to get insurance for a while but other things came up and it kept getting bumped down my to-do list. But I don't not have insurance because I'm basking in financial security, so paying out of pocket won't be an option. Unless you'd be willing to work out some sort of payment plan, which I would be open to." Simon spoke without facing the man, but could see his gesticulations in his peripheral vision.

"What the hell are you talking about? Of course the idiot who hits me on a deserted highway is a broke slacker." The man turned to face the paint scraped cars, "It's responsible people like me who keep things on track and you can't be bothered to do your share. Look at this. This is totaled. You're going to have to buy me a new car. I can't drive this."

"It might be totaled, but that isn't necessarily an indication of costly damage."

"Don't you talk back to me. You're only getting yourself in more trouble."

"I just don't think a scratched paint job will make a Dodge Sabre undriveable."

"It's not a scratch"

The man's voice echoed off a nearby overpass. 

"I'm sorry I made contact with your vehicle, but shouting isn't going to undo what happened."

The man yelled again. Simon didn't like owing so many people money, though, he remained optimistic that a paint job could be paid off in a few months. He asked again if the man wouldn't rather just chalk this event up to the cost of living in the world where sometimes people bump into each other and face unexpected happenstances. The man did not and made another little hop that reminded Simon of Rumpelstiltskin. The man demanded Simon call the police so that a proper report could be filed, and he guaranteed that  Simon would be going to jail for driving with no insurance. Simon had no cellphone and confessed this to the man, who felt that Simon's lack of a cellphone was somehow evidence that the man's own life was cursed. Simon wondered if this could be cultivated into a seed of empathy for the hardships of others. The man didn't even seem to be taking into account the repercussions the accident might have on Simon's life.  

"Fine. I'll call the damn police, but you're going to be paying me back for the minutes I use on the call." The man's hand shook as he dialed. 

Simon listened to the wind and thought about unlimited cell plans, but didn't want to interrupt the man's phone call to the authorities. He hoped that the police, or more likely the sheriff as they were on a highway not within the limits of a city, would see this for what it was: an unfortunate happenstance. He was sure that the officer would be reasonable and send everyone on their way. The air was cool and everything felt muffled. No birds or animals made noise. Occasionally a breeze swept by Simon's ears, but other than that it sounded like the man was arguing with a 911 dispatcher in a room of cotton. The land between Simon and the long curving horizon was wide and flat and covered with wild looking grass. Even though he was surrounded by air and the sky he felt the rest of his life lurking behind him, all the relationships to renovate and responsibilities to tend like a garden he resented. He never seemed to be able to explain to his roommates the pressure and responsibility he imposed on himself when they suggested he take on extra housekeeping duties to compensate for a momentary financial shortfall. 

"Un-goddang-believable. That idiot dispatcher transferred me to another line. Said my call didn't qualify as an emergency. What is wrong with people? I was in a car wreck"

"Are they sending someone?"

"Of course. Once they took me off hold I told them to hurry." 

"I really think that's not the best use of everyone's time. We really could just exchange numbers and you could call me when you have an estimate on the repairs."

"You don't understand, do you? I'm filing a police report. People get arrested for driving without insurance. You're car's going to be impounded. And then I'll be suing you." The man paused before continuing, "For the repairs to my car and the psychological damage. All this stress. I probably have some sort of back injury. Those show up a few days after a bad accident like this. You and I will be in court unless you come up with a settlement."

Simon felt bad for the man, who didn't seem to be appreciating the stillness of the weather. 

"I'm going to sit in my car while we wait."

"Oh no you don't. You're aren't getting in your car, are you crazy? You're going to drive off."

Simon moved towards his car, but had to change course when the man stepped into his path.

"I'm just going to sit with the windows open. I'll be able to hear you if you need to talk to me."

"You're going to drive off."

Simon agreed to sit on a grassy slope next to the cars. It was better, Simon realized, because he could feel the breeze tracing its fingers on his arms and back instead of just the side of his face nearest the open window. There was a cool dampness in the air that he found invigorating. It was almost strange to feel so pleasant on a gloomy seeming day. Even the man, pacing and grumbling like a misunderstood teenage, added a vibrancy to the setting. The grayness of the road melted into the sky and it was a blank slate for Simon to begin painting the next chapter of his life and the man scolding the emptiness was the brush he would use. Simon wasn't sure how to articulate his thoughts to himself, but he knew that this is where he would slowly begin to reorganize his life and clear out some of the clutter. 

The longer he sat, the more the man's assurances that the accident would be taken seriously by the police began to poke into Simon's thoughts. If he was forced to get insurance right away it would delay him being able to pay his roommates back and certainly affect the first payment on the man's car repairs. If he lost his car, finding a new job wouldn't be easy. He'd have to coordinate rides to work from friends since there weren't many opportunities within walking distance. Fear began to spill into him and he felt as though the answer to the man's phone call was rushing towards him like a fist. Simon couldn't match the stillness of the day and wait for this random event to pass over him like water. 

The sound of distant sirens bubbled up into the quiet of the highway. 

"I can hear them. It's about time." The man spun to face the direction from which he and Simon had been driving. Cars and lights appeared in miniature on the horizon. Simon stayed sitting in his spot where his view was blocked. "It looks like someone took me seriously," the man continued as he waved to the still distant police cars. "They were right to send the whole squad. 

The man's words made Simon realize that, instead of one, he heard a chorus of police sirens. He stood and saw a line of  white squares glittering red and blue on top sweeping towards him. If he were to be arrested, he'd have to bail money onto the tab of what he already owed his roommates.

"It's too late to come up with any excuses now. Don't even try." The man stood in the right lane beside his car. 

Simon felt the red and blue wailing fill the muffled afternoon around him. He watched the line of cars enter more detail as they cut along the road. As they did, he noticed a boxy brown car in front of the police. So did the man. 

"Why won't this guy pull over so they can pass? Another maniac on the road." He looked at Simon with angry disappointment. 

The man walked towards the cars and began to flag them down. The brown car schoomed past them without slowing. The man turned to yell and was hit from behind by a police cruiser which was unable to change lanes in time. He was thrown into the back of his own car and fell to the ground folded sideways against the wheel. Simon's only reaction had been to throw himself prone onto the slope, but the cruiser had only hit the man. The cruiser that hit the man and one other stopped while the several others sped towards the brown car. Three officers rushed out and saw that nothing could be done for the man. Simon stood quietly as the sirens were soon gone. 

"What the heck are you guys doing just sitting here?" said an officer with a tight ponytail, while her partner spoke with the officer who had hit the man. 

"We were in an accident and were waiting for you."

"Waiting for us?" 

"Yeah. He had called the police. You were responding to our call."

"Didn't we were engaged in pursuit with a suspect driving the brown car." She looked to the other officers, "Geoff, can you radio this in. Tell them we had to abandon pursuit. Get a body snatcher."

"He thought you were coming for us."

"Is that why he was in the middle of the road?"

"Yeah. He was flagging you down."

"He didn't need to be out in the road to do that. So, what was you're accident?"

Simon gazed at the gray-topped horizon. The world was muted in it's down comforter again with only the crinkled sound of the police radio floating in the air.

"He'd hit the side of my car. Changed lanes without looking."

"Were either of you hurt from the accident."

"No. He insisted on calling it in. I told him it wasn't worth it."

"That's a tragedy."

The officer went to speak with Geoff, then the two came over to Simon and he explained it again. They all agreed that it was an unfortunate freak accident. The officer who hit the man couldn't be faulted. Simon told them that he didn't see a point to filling out a report for his accident with the man.

"I have your statement," said the officer. "If it's alright with you, I'll use that to fill one out on your behalf. It will just help to explain why you two were stopped at the side of the road when we came by, which lead to the man being hit by Officer Gabe's vehicle."

Simon stood on the edge of the commotion, which wasn't really a commotion but compared to everything else along the road it was. He watched officers and paramedics move back and forth until he felt like getting in his car and driving away. He thought about his roommates and Leslie. He was glad that his to-do list wasn't longer.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dear Diary: TV Show climates

Dear Diary,

Look at this shit.

These photos are of the DVD case for a TV series called Brothers & Sisters starring Sally Field, Rob Lowe and Calista Flockhart that aired for - oh my god - FIVE SEASONS! I guess even the poor man's Parenthood can have a good run.

That's not the point. The point is, look at that second picture. Look at that shit. Pops has on a knit sweater over a collared shirt. Peter Parker has on a T-shirt an a faux-army heavy shirt or light jacket. Meanwhile, Long Tall Sally's hooters are peaking over the top of her negligee. That picture exemplifies a problem I have with many glossy TV dramas. What fucking climate are these people in? Someone in that picture is not dressed appropriately. If it's cold enough for a sweater with a shirt underneath, then it's too cold for the pink babydoll dress. If it's warm enough for the dress, then the two guys are too hot. I get that the pretty blonde lady has to show 1/3rd of her breasts to draw in the crowds. But then put the guys in T-shirts.

This happens in a lot shows with vaguely defined settings that reduce the amount of thinking the writers have to do when they're in a pinch. We need to be able to use the LL Bean fall line, so they're definitely in a place that has fall. But not too cold, we don't want to hide everyone in bulky winter coats. Oh, but there should be snow for the winter episodes. It should be small and quaint enough that the town has some kind of festival every season. But it has to have three high schools, so we can have big rivalry football games. I started watching Pretty Little Liars from the beginning, and the main group of girls are extremely concerned with getting a bad reputations. One of their mothers even says "you know how quickly gossip spreads in this town," implying that everyone knows everyone business. Something that only happens in smaller towns. But wherever they are has a mall. Which is it, Pretty Little Liars? Are you in an adorable small town where everyone's up in your shit, or are you in a city that can sustain a Sunglass Hut? You don't get to be both. Same for you Brothers & Sisters. In what climate are those three people wearing those outfits simultaneously? Tell Grandpa and Jimmy Olsen to lose a layer.



Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sport, Not A Sport: Bowling

As bowling gears up for the beginning of it's Majors Season it seems appropriate to examine whether or not bowling is a sport, or not a sport. I'm kidding about the Majors Season. But you have to admit that I fooled you. Really, I don't think bowling has a defined season. They plan their events based on the most boring sports Saturday and Sunday afternoons throughout the year. No good football, baseball or basketball games happening? I hope you're ready for some 2pm semi-finals action, coming to you live from Columbus, Ohio!

Professional bowling is a sport that people are so vaguely aware of that you can say anything about it, with just a shred of confidence and they'll feign a mixture of interest and surprise. No one will question pro bowling's existence, but they won't be able to refute any claims you make. Oh, I didn't know they did Sprint Cup style scoring. You can't do that with Pro Ultimate Frisbee. You start talking MLU and most people will respond, "Really?! That's a thing?" We've all seen bowling on ESPN. Though we may not understand it's appeal, we already acknowledge it's existence. But no one knows enough to refute an assertion that the championship starts tomorrow.

Here are some real PBA events listed on the PBA website: PBA Xtra Frame Gene Carter's Pro Shop East Classic (THAT'S ONE EVENT), PBA Cheetah Championship, PBA Shark Championship, PBA International-World Bowling Tour UAE Open, and PBA International-World Bowling Tour It's Daejeon International Open. Events are held in Dohar, Qatar; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Las Vegas, Nevada; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Middletown, Delaware and Daejeon, Korea. All of that information sounds made up. What professional sports league holds events in Saudi Arabia and the 4th best city in Iowa? Council Bluffs makes sense. I would bet that bowling developed a stronghold as preferred pastime in CB, because you can only visit the Pottawattamie Squirrel Cage Jail and Museum so many times (Is that a jail for squirrels?). The funny thing is that on TV, all bowling events look like they're in Council Bluffs, because they're in a bowling alley, and all bowling alleys look the same. The audience is sitting in the shadows on risers, which is the vibe of Council Bluffs, a dimly lit bowling alley. We're coming to live from beautiful Riyadh.Whatever you say, Brent. I'll take your word for it. Arial view provided by the Goodyear blimp. 

Is that the Dark Tower?!

Naturally, Vegas is a host city (as is Reno). Vegas is what bowling enthusiasts consider an ideal vacation spot. It's the vacation spot for when you can't (or don't want to) think of a better idea, in the same way that bowling is the activity friends choose when they want to get out of the house but there aren't any good movies in theaters. "I guess we could go bowling," is the way every bowling excursion begins. Anyone legitimately excited by Vegas or bowling should be treated with suspicion. There's a reason that every movie centering around bowling is about misfit weirdos, creeps, and boderline-psychotics, because that's who can tolerate this game for more than 60 minutes twice a year.

Me when someone wants to go bowling.

In high school, I took a Lifetime Sports gym class. It focused, as the name implies, around activities you can play throughout your life, up to and including the decrepitude of old age. You know what people can't do well into their twighlight years? Play sports. The fact that badminton, archery, ping pong and bowling were included should tell you the physical ability they require. Grandpa might be able to shoot hoops or play catch, some aspect of a sport. He is not playing a game of half-court or two-hand touch. But he can bowl! Peak physical condition is not required to bowl at the peak level. Anyone can bowl a 300/perfect game. Hannah Diem did it at 9 1/2 years old, making her the youngest person to officially do so. The oldest person, according to, was 90 years old and requested to have their name withheld, presumably because being too good at bowling makes an otherwise cool person seem like they are not cool. Look at what it did to John Turturro. 

Hannah Diem was too young to think of having her name scrubbed from the record books. To her, bowling was something she did at her friends' awesome birthday parties, not a high intensity athletic endeavor. You don't even need to be a freakish athlete to be dominant at bowling. If Hannah or Name Withheld had gone up against this guy, 

If you can participate wearing dockers, it isn't a sport. 

it would have been a tie. Or a bowl-off. However you determine a winner after you're done bowling and you don't know who did it best. Look at that guy. He's the most famous bowler in America and I have no idea what his name is. 

And what kind of sport has a cap on the number of points you can score? That's for board games and youth sports leagues when you're still protecting fragile egos. There's no maximum number of goals in hockey or soccer, only the physical limitation of what a team can achieve in the allotted time. Bowling has a mercy rule built in. A real sport always contains the possibility of complete, unchecked annihilation. In fact, the only thing that makes bowling resemble a sport is keeping an objective score, and that's all. Players score definitive points. There are no judges. The pins either fell or they didn't. 

Bowling, like golf, also lacks the element of direct competition. There's no defense, only turns. You know how in Final Fantasy games when you "battle" an enemy everyone sits and waits for their turn to attack, and you're sitting there thinking, "What kind of Queensberry bullshit rules of engagement is this?" That's what bowling has. You launch your polished stone only after your opponent has taken his seat. If you can't play defense or directly effect your opponents actions then it can't be considered a sport. And the only way to effect your opponents performance in bowling is to order another pitcher of beer and secretly get them to drink it all. 

BOWLING: Not a sport. 

New rule learned: NO MERCY!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dear Diary: Toupee or Not Toupee

Dear Diary,

I have a hairpiece problem. Not my hairpiece. I'm still sporting a full head of hair, but a few years ago, as I my days as a person in his 20s dwindled, I began mentally preparing to go bald. I have a widow's peak hairline, which in middle school got me teased for going bald. But I do kind of look like my hair is receding. It isn't (I swear!), but from time to time I will remind myself that it will. I will be bald. There are old wive's tales that indicate I won't go bald because my mother's father wasn't bald. My dad still has a good head of hair, but his dad was bald for all the parts of my life that I can remember. The point is, that even though the future is a mystery I am bracing for the probable, because I don't want to be mentally unprepared to face the insecurity that physical aging can bring. I'm learning to accept my fate now so I don't freak out and buy a bad rug.

The Donald knows if you're gonna grow old you gotta be tough.

My problem is other people's bad rugs. I don't know the protocol. Do I have to pretend like I'm fooled? What is my responsibility in maintaining the follicle ruse someone else has chosen to perpetrate? Obviously staring is rude and unnecessary. But if it's crooked or out of place do I have to say "Your hair is messed up?" Can I refer to as a hairpiece? I don't see why I should have to play dumb. If I'm able to determine that their hair isn't lying in the manner they probably would not like for it to be, why wouldn't I also be able to discern that it is not growing out of their head.

James Traficant. More like TrafiCan't even!

There was a man I used to see at large, extended-family functions (We were related, or so my mother claimed, I just don't know how) and, in addition to constantly arranging different configurations of family photos, he had an unconvincing, frequently askew wig. (Is there a difference between a wig and a hairpiece?) I always wondered how we, as his family, the people who are supposed to show him love and support even if it's in the form of hard truths, weren't telling him to straighten his 'do. Or better yet take it off and embrace his hairless head. If I'd been wearing a crooked hat or my fly was down someone would have told me. If I'd been wearing one of those radical faux-tattoo arm stockings no one would pretend that I had real tattoos. They would say "what made you decide to wear that?" because I'm from a family of non-confrontational Midwesterners who are too reserved to bust my balls for such a strange fashion choice.

Will he or won't he accept his smooth dome?

I know that everyone should wear what makes them feel comfortable and what allows them to be themselves. But I'm not playing dumb anymore. Wear your wig. If me referring to it as anything other than the luxurious locks nature bestowed upon you is disheartening then you need to work on why losing your hair upsets you and deal with that, or get a better hairpiece. I'm not going to put on a stunned face and tell you it looks so natural. It doesn't. You're fake hair looks weird and I saw it a mile away.

You're clearly trying to fool me with that mess, and it isn't working. Do you know who we pretend to be fooled by? Children. And I don't think I should treat you like a child.

That's cool, right?

Coach Bill Self doing it right. Can't even tell. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dear Diary: What Hath I Wrought: My Claim To Fame

Dear Diary,

I've done it! I've finally done it! I've discovered what my lasting contribution to society will be. What Kathy Lee will say about me when she announces my death, right before fumbling through a Waldorf Salad recipe with Jamie Oliver.

I have come up with a new punctuation mark!

Mover over, Interrobang, and make way for the Confidence Modulator(tm).

This handy dandy symbol indicates the sharp rise in pitch that comes when a speaker lacks confidence in the veracity of a statement he or she is making and wishes to indicate as such. The Confidence Modulator is a combination of a question mark (?), representing the questioning nature of the statement, and a caret (^), indicating change in vocal pitch. It can be type on a standard keyboard as ^?. However, the proper symbol is a question mark with a caret replacing the period under the shepherd's cane, as indicated in the picture on the left. I'm no computer graphic font-a-magician, so the digital representation is still pending. However, I think you'll find that the Confidence Modulator is quite useful.

Examples of Use

Jeffery: What time does the motion picture viewing commence?
Rutherford: Seven^?

Congress: And you are confident that Saddam Hussein poses an imminent threat to the United States of America?
Donald R: Yes^?

Miriam: You've been tested, right?
Claudette: Of course.
Miriam: When?
Claudette: Two months ago^?

As you can see, the Confidence Modulator fills a need that has existed for decades, maybe even centuries^?

So, that's my new life's legacy, Diary. Now we just need to spread the word. Or the mark, as it were. People need to know about this. Especially the part where I am the one who invented it. Then I can monetize that notoriety. Big changes are coming for us, Diary.

Yours truly,



Coming this fall: The Ellipsis of Unfortunate Realization. Perfect for when you wish to express that you have realized, mid-sentence, that what you are saying is either wrong, false, stupid, or going to blow up in your face. Represented by two periods, a colon and an open parentheses   . . : ( the Ellipsis of Unfortunate Realization perfectly indicates a tone that the speaker has just realized that he or she has had a momentary lapse into idiocy.

Example of Use
Judith: Where is Fido?
Benjamin: I let him out in the backyard.
Judith: Oh, I didn't realize you already fixed the gate.
Benjamin: No, the hardware store was closed, ..:( so I haven't yet.

FALL 2015!

Friday, June 26, 2015

CineMasochism: The Sandlot 2

Welcome to the second edition of CineMasochism, where I examine a movie I didn't know existed until I saw it in DVD form or in the online streaming ether. For this installment I will be watching 2005's The Sandot 2, the cat-from-Pet-Sematary-after-it-comes-back of movies.

The mid-90s were a golden age of baseball movies aimed at kids. Rookie of the Year (1993), Little Big League (1994), Angels in the Outfield (1994), and--my personal favorite--The Sandlot (1993). You may have a different favorite (Little Big League. If you saying anything besides LBL or "I don't like baseball movies" then you're a fool.) but you can't deny that these four movies represent the pinnacle of the genre. Which is what makes The Sandlot 2 so disheartening.

I do not take The Sandlot 2's existence as an affront to my childhood, because I am an adult and, presumably, possess the emotional intelligence to not be angry with another person's creative endeavors. However, I am suspicious of its existence. The fact that David Mickey Evans, the original writer-director-narrator, returns to his roles offers hope. And having recently viewed and enjoyed Mad Max: Fury Road, it seems silly to foster hostile feelings towards one auteur for expanding upon his vision while accepting another for doing the same. Even though it is my idyllic youth being TRAMPLED UPON, I am determined to give it a chance. Besides, why shouldn't kids now (or in 2005) have their own baseball movie to enjoy?

Fortunately the movie quickly squanders any leeway and good will afforded to it. Which is nice, because it allows viewers (please, don't view this movie) to enter full Buzzfeed Ehrmagehrd My Childhood Was Objectively Better Than Any Other Human Childhood Because Disney's The Gummi Bears Mode and begin loudly accusing the characters on screen of being no Hamilton Porter without remorse. David Mickey Evans had his chance. And he left that chance in a hot car to die.

Sandlot 2 opens with a montage of scenes from the first Sandlot, reminding you of the movie you should probably be watching instead. Even the trailer is fifty percent scenes from the original.

It is now the 70s. You can tell SL2 is set in the 70s because every once in a while someone will say Groovy, Far Out, or Right On. Plus, one kid looks like he's wearing a Jimi Hendrix costume and the Women's Lib movement is mentioned in pejoratively. It is ten years after Benny pickled the Beast. We are told the ball he got back is know as The Great Ball. The movie is narrated by Johnnie Buckminster Smalls, younger brother of Scotty Smalls, though still voiced by writer-director Evans. Johnnie is a model rocket enthusiast who gets involved with the Sandlot kids when he accidentally sets fire to the dugout. Johnnie's rocketry hobby also leads to some unfortunate CGI.

What's most frustrating about The Sandlot 2 (other than it reminding me of my lost youth, time's ability to vanquish us all, and that weird sound my knees make) is that it has the same plot and most of the same scenes  as the original. The kids have to rescue an object Smalls sends into Mr. Mertle's back yard. They go to a carnival. There is a fireworks scene. They go swimming because it is too hot to play baseball. They face off against a snooty Little League team after a round of name calling. Except none of it is done as well as in the original. This is the kid version of The Hangover Part II. There's nothing in this movie that you can't get by rewatching The Sandlot. Even if you're watching with a kid who's only reason for doing so is that it exists, my advice would be to push for simply starting the original over from the beginning.

Even a lot of the same dialogue is used. After Johnnie accidentally launches a NASA prototype he stands in the outfield dazed. Saul, SL2's mash-up of Bertram and Timmy, says that "Maybe the shock of knowing some famous science dude was too much for him." Which is a version of what is said about Scotty Smalls after hitting his first homerun. When Johnnie explains what happened with the rocket, the scene plays out exactly like the scene when Scotty explains that he hit a signed Babe Ruth ball over the fence. The kids take turns berating him, someone tells him that it's worth more than his whole life, then they give him some air by fanning him. It's all the same scenes. It's awful.

How to use this movie to be a film snob
Discuss how it's a lazy retread and uses feminism as comedy. You can also argue that while the film does use 1970s feminist stereotypes as sources of humor, it also pokes fun at male characters for being scared of assertive women. You'll appear extra smart for finding a positive aspect of this film.

Key phrases to bandy about: Retrograde Misogyny. Dreck.

Sweet lines to help you start The Sandlot 2's cult following
"Serious like Gloria Steinem."
That's it. Every other line worth a damn is from the first movie.

Is it rewatchable?
No. A small child forcing you into a repeat viewing is the only reason to experience this twice. But they'll eventually kick you out of the room once you start ranting about "Baseball movies in my day..."

Was that summary not enough for you? Do you want to read my reactions to The Sandlot 2 as I watched it?

Allow me to present:

Denny's Diary of The Sandlot 2

[Editor's note: The Sandlot 2 is available to view on YouTube if you want to grit your teeth along with me.]

David Mickey Evans sounds like Seth Macfarland. It's not a critique. Just a fact I hadn't noticed until now.

Johnathan Buckminster Smalls?
[Editor's note: It's not Scotty, it's Johnnie. I was naturally confused because Johnnie and Scotty grow up to have the same adult voice.]

One of the kids rides in a side car bike while his brother pedals. Sidecar kid is deaf. I'm not sure if these are related. Do they need the sidecar because it's dangerous for the deaf brother to be riding or only for the coolness factor? If I was the brother pedaling I would be pissed. I know he's deaf, but he's also too big to not carry his own weight. Get a tandem!

 His name is "Fingers." This is a solid attempt to recapture the magic of the Squints and Yeah Yeah nicknames. Plus, that nickname can only get better as he ages and starts getting to third base. (SEE WHAT I DID THERE? DOUBLE DOUBLE ENTENDRE!)

The black kid looks like he's in a Jimi Hendrix costume. Later he wears a leather vest with fringe.

Dizzy by Tommy Roe plays while a boy bumps into a pretty girl and is speechless at her prettiness. Except he is also pretty, so I'm not buying it. She then comments on how fast he is after picking up her book from the ground. What a weird comment. Think about how fast someone would have to pick up a thing for you to be impressed. There's a large range of speed that you would just find awkward and weird. Like, calm down, dude. Don't throw out your back over a dropped book. Any impressively fast bending over and picking up would be SO fast that it would make you suspicious.
[Editor's Note: Later, the girl, WHO IS NO WENDY PFEFFERCORN, will assume the boy can run fast because of this incident. Fucking stupid.]

A knock-off of Cream's White Room plays.

Johhnie Smalls shoots a rocket through a couch in dugout. There's some voice over exposition. Apparently it's a case of mistaken identity. The fancy shmancy little league team wants to take over the sandlot for their practices. The crew sees Johnnie launching a rocket and naturally assume he's blowing up the sandlot. These kids are idiots. They chase Johnnie. He jumps a fence and lands in a pool.

The girl with a keen eye for speed saves Johnnie. She inexplicably has a southern accent despite living in California and having parents who lack southern accents. Fingers tells everyone that the dugout is on fire. The crew rush to save it in a moment of Marxian (Marxist?) slapstick involving a hose of insufficient length. During the commotion, the southern belle--named Hayley--demands that Johnnie return the next day since he owes her.

She makes him act as groundskeeper so she and two friends can play softball, which they refer to as baseball. When the boys return, Hayley continues to refer to softball, the game and the physical object, as baseball. The boys are sexist and tell her leave. (Listen, doll.) But she's liberated and stands her ground. Unfortunately, she is calling a softball a baseball which makes her sound like a dumb girl who doesn't deserve to play sports. I don't care how unfounded and unfair division of the sexes is, or how obvious the benefits of equal treatment are, the instant you stand on a soccer pitch declaring your right to play lacrosse too, you're done. The sexist boneheads have won, if only in their minds. You can't come back from mislabeling the sport.

It's an odd choice on the part of David Mickey Evans to open the movie with the sandlot crew being sexist and in the wrong. Let me get to know them first and them have them be dumb boys who default to "Girls, yuck!" As it is, they're unlikable and I don't care if they keep the sandlot. They don't deserve it.

I've already done the math. There are 5 boys terrorizing everyone, there's the nerd kid, and three girls. 9 people. Which is how many you need to field a baseball team. NEW BESTIES/TEAMATES.

Despite this obvious solution, the crew still wants to assert their alpha-male dominance over the girls even though it's totally the 70s and women are burning their bras and stuff. A chubby, ginger kid, an obvious stand in for Hamilton Porter who will be referred to as Fake Hambino, steps up to put the dames in their place. A heated discussion of the merits of women playing baseball begins.

Fake Hambino

Fake Hambino: Girls can't play baseball
Hayley: Wanna bet?
Fake Hambino: I don't bet trash, I burn it.

And then

Fake Hambino: You're serious?
Hayley: Like Gloria Steinem.

They bet that she can strike him out in three pitches. Winner assumes dominion over the sandlot.

"Bring it on, skirt," he says while wearing a WWII helmet and choking up on the bat way too much.

She pitches underhand and he doesn't see it. Blinks and misses the pitch. Which is extra sad, because softball mounds are closer than baseball mounds because you can't throw softballs as fast. But she was pitching from the baseball mound.

The pretty boy pinch hits to save the day. He then fouls off a thousand pitches until their mom's yell for them to come home because it will be dark soon, even though it is still bright as hell outside and can't be past 4pm. God, Mom! You ruin everything!

Intrigue: Some kid who looks like Draco Malfoy's disco brother has been spying on the events from the tree house.

The girls and boys reconvene the next day to settle the score. Instead of resuming the at-bat, the two factions refuse to talk, opting to have Johnnie serve as go-between delivering messages such as "Leave, this is our Sandlot" and "No." There's a Benny Hill style sped up section, where he zips back and forth. Which would be funny if the times we heard what the kids had to say it was anything more substantial than "We were here first" and "Tough shit." Plus, they're fifty feet apart.

The kid playing Johhnie is a terrible actor. Plus he has some non-descript accent. And he likes rockets!? He's a Russian spy! Fake Hambino is the only one with any chops.Were the kids in The Sandlot this terrible? No way.

Johnnie (who I refuse to refer to as Smalls) suggests they all just play together. The boys, victims of the hetero-sexist patriarchy in which they were raised, find the idea unnatural. Until Bertram 2.0 points out that doing so will fill out the roster, giving them a full team. Something I knew instantly, because I am smarter than fictional children in desperate need to dramatic tension.

After everyone realizes the benefits of fielding nine position players in baseball. They agree to terms and celebrate over cookies and OJ in the dugout, which the girls somehow fixed in one day and made look like Martha Stewart decorated it. Fake Hambino has a metal canteen and camo vest/cap. He's probably going to have some flashbacks.

Because they have a full team, everyone goes to the nice baseball field to challenge the snooty-ass little league team, which consists entirely of Mitch Kramer clones. Fake Hambino and the leader of the other team have an insult-off. Nothing about this scene is as good as the one it's rehashing. You will need to watch the original to wash the taste out of your eyeballs. But you can't accuse David Mickey Evans of being a lazy writer. Sure, he reuses the "You play ball like a girl" line, but it's given to the other archetype. Except the sandlot crew has actual girls, so it's totally not cool. #YesAllCoedPickUpBaseballTeams.

Having successfully shouted at the other team, they go to the carnival.

Deaf kid isn't allowed to go near the kissing booth. He's a mack daddy.
The kissing booth has a height restriction, and he's too short to kiss. He gets some platform shoes. Smooth.
The girl at the booth tells him, "just on the cheek." I wonder what's going to happen.
He grabs her head and gives her a big ol' smooch.
This is all the same shit from the first movie with shittier music.
And no Wendy Pfeffercorn.

The big game against the Little League One-Percenters happens. Hayley is heading home from third to win the game. The catcher, Snooty Kid, stands in front of home with the ball and tags her out/knocks her down. And the Sandlot kids freak out even though blocking the plate is A TOTALLY NORMAL BASEBALL PLAY! Hayley is crying, which I feel validates the boys original assertion that girls should not play baseball with boys. Pretty Boy punches Snooty Kid. Everyone acts like someone just used a racial slur. The little league team storms away.

Fake Hambino gets an aluminum bat which is space-aged technology. Instantly cranks a homer.
everyone goes to get the ball back.
Johnnie freaks out. Warns them about the Great Fear, spawn of the Beast. They have to look through a hole in a wall of washing machines to see for themseves.

Fake Hambino says Johnnie is "freaking oot." THEY'RE CANADIAN! THIS MOVIE IS A SHAM!

Smalls freaking oot.
[Editor's note: This clip encapsulates the movies pretty well. Bad CGI, 70s slang, recycled material.]

Smalls has to explain the Great Fear. This obviously requires a sleepover, but to mix things up Fake Hambino says "bivouac" instead of "sleepover."
Of course there's a black and white flashback where Johnnie explains that some kid lost something over the fence and couldn't get it back because The Great Fear drooled on it. The kid loved some made up superhero, tried to get his toy back and was bitten by the dog. There's a chase scene in the flashback with rip-off Wipeout music. So,

I just realized that Johnnie looks like Tig Notaro with a bowl cut.

Fourth of July is coming up and since Johnnie loves rockets he buys a bunch of fireworks. The narrator tells us that kids these days are coddled because they aren't allowed to buy dangerous fireworks. I don't come to subpar sequels for the hot parenting takes, David Mickey Evans!

Oh, now it's too hot. The girls want to go swimming.
Fuck this movie. It's like they asked people what their favorite parts of the original were and then recreated the environment those parts occurred in.
Oh they liked Hambino saying "I'm baking like a toasted cheeser" let's have another scene where it's hot. And they loved Squints kissing Wendy Pfeffercorn at the pool. We need a scene with a pool.
I find this movie aimed at children to be insulting to my intelligence.

Pretty Boy (whose name is David) is ashamed of something under his 70s tubesock and won't go swimming. He's a never nude.

Far out. Right on. Groovy. It must be the 70s.

Hey, they got the rights to Spirit in the Sky.

Hayley's dad works for NASA and has a badass rocket. He offers to launch it with Johnnie, but then flakes just because he has urgent NASA business. But he doesn't tell Johnnie, so our man J. Smalls sets it up to wait for Mr. Hayley.
 Johnnie straps an astronaut action figure to the rocket. That's his thing. Except it's a dumb thing for a nerd to do. PAYLOAD WEIGHT BALANCE SMALLS!
He falls asleep with the launch button on his lap. It falls and the rocket launches. OH NO!
Crazy special effects.
Ruins the dugout again.
Oh Shit, that rocket was important real NASA shit.

Smalls is standing in the crater made by the launch. Staring off into space (GET IT) and Bertram 2.0 says Maybe the shock of knowing some famous science dude was too much for him.
It's the same damn line from the first one.

The shuttle from the rocket lands in the Big Fear's/Mr. Mertle's back yard.

God dammit.
"You mean to tell me that you launched a scale model of the NASA Space Shuttle."
"It's worth more than your whole life, Smalls."
He faints. "Give him some air."

Whole chunks of dialogue, just recycled from the first movie. Am I allowed to be angry this movie now without seeming like a person with unresolved emotional issues?

Johnnie explains that, like his brother, he has a bit of an engineering streak. The crew decides to sacrifice a cat to The Big Fear using, not an erector set, but some jankity mish-mash of toys.

Disco Draco shows up to get the shuttle back. He says they call him the Retriever. He lost his frisbee over a fence to a dog once, and now collects dogs' name tags as vengeance. He doesn't say he kills the dogs, but you know he does. One look at his necklace dangling with hundreds of tags tells you all you need to know.
The Big Fear tosses the Retriever over the fence and into the pool. The Retriever retires instantly. I guess this supposed to tell us how formidable The Big Fear is, because a kid we're meeting for the first time told us how great he is at murdering dogs and taking their tags as trophies, and that kid couldn't handle the dog.

The kids tunnel under the fence.

I swear to God if James Earl Jones says "Why didn't you just come and ask me. I'd have gotten it for you." I will be pissed.
[Editor's note: Spoiler alert, he does.]

Fake Hambino, the one who volunteered to go into the tunnel, poops his pants after being chased by The Big Fear. We get to see the stain.

Why the hell is a NASA employee keeping a working model of the space shuttle in his garage? I don't know why that question is only now coming into my head.

Pretty Boy declares that he needs to step up and be a hero, so he will climb into Mr. Mertle's backyard, grab the shuttle and bring it back. Of course he has some special shoes to help him run faster. In a blink-you'll-miss-it moment of product placement, the narrator drops a line about Nike the winged Greek goddess of victory. (NIKE SHOES? FUCK YOU! PF FLYERS OR GTFO!) Pretty Boy pulls out what are clearly basketball shoes. They are bulky and puffy. They are not meant for speed on dirt or grass. I hope he gets eaten in that yard and The Big Fear chokes on his femur, so they rot together under the hot July sun. Hayley, who does not share my wishes, knows Pretty Boy is fast because she saw him pick up her homework real quick, and tells him to Just Do It.

Pretty Boy is the kid from the story who liked the Rocket Comic book. Or something. He acts like a matador to avoid The Big Fear, minus the stabbing with frilly spears--Do you hear me, Spain? The spears you use to slowly murder an animal are gaudy!

The dog jumps the fence, thus beginning the rehash of The Sandlot's chase scene. This time scored with BTO's Taking Care of Business. They reuse the shot of the dog jumping over the camera, which means that every Sandlot movie has shot of a dog's dick in it. Way to keep the streak alive.

Pretty Boy curses. You can tell a movie cool when it thinks you're mature enough to curse in front of you.
Like version of this scene I enjoy, everyone ends up back at the sandlot. The giant wall of washing machines falls on Pretty Boy. He falls into the tunnel. The Big Fear digs him out.

Another recycled line. This time it's, "He doesn't look too good." That's not even a very distinctive line, but I know David Mickey Evans half-assed his way through this screenplay and I'm looking out for it. There were too many other repeats and I know The Sandlot so well that I can't let anything slide now. I'm like a conspiracy theorist who's too much in his own head, to the point where innocuous things seem to hint at something nefarious. "Strike three". Hey! That's in the first movie.

James Earl Jones recaps the first movie for them. This is the second time the first movie has been summarized. Mr. Mertle says the crew should have just asked to be let into the backyard. Then he strikes a deal to take down the wall--Mr. Mertle, tear down this wall!--if they agree to walk The Big Fear (who's real name is Goliath. Which is great, because Pretty Boy's name is David. Get it?).

The Big Fear has sex with a lady dog. Puppies are born. Everyone gets a puppy, which they will chain up in a yard surrounded by a makeshift fence cobbled together with scrap metal, until neighbor kids develop a mythology around the rabid animal kept in solitary confinement.

Everyone is summarized. Fingers and his brother started Def Jam Records. BOLD MOVE! Because I know that to be false. Unless his brother is Rick Rubin. Fingers also started Kissing Booth Bubble Gum. That's got to be something you keep from the artists you're trying to sign to Def Jam.
[Editor's note: I did consider the fact that they went with the spelling of Deaf Jam and they aren't really implying one of these kids became Rubin, but are in fact violators of trademark/copyright law. In one scenario the script writer thinks he or you are an idiot. In the other scenario the characters are idiots.]

The credits are rolling.
The producers would like to thank Nike. No shit, I'm sure that Just Do It line paid for the rocket launch scene.

I'm excited to find out if I can watch The Sandlot ever again without shaking my head and muttering "goddammit."