Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Ow ow ow ow ow ow

I think I have shin splints. Either that or I'm fighting off a virus. I am in such robust good health that whenever a virus attacks, my white blood cells overpower it and kick its contagious ass. You go, white blood cells!

Of course, this means a day or two of feeling like death warmed over. Like last night, when I went to the gym, I really wasn't excited about my new best friend, the treadmill. And I thought, "Hmm, that can't be good." Because if you know me, you know I am usually full of beans - the espresso variety. Cracking jokes, talking loudly and excessively, thumping on tables with my fists for emphasis. You know, the kind of person you love at a dinner party but dread going out in public with.

But I got on the treadmill and started to walk briskly and then I started to run. And then I thought I was going to die of pain because my shins were freaking killing me. Every step was agony.

So, I did the uberintelligent kind of thing I'm known for:

I continued to run.

"I'm going to run through the pain," I thought. "I am going to work through it. "

But the pain was having none of it. And I felt like crap. Not all glowy and exhilarated and I'm-going-to-run-a-ten-minute-mile-and-I-won't-even-break- -a- sweat. No, I pretty much felt like curling up and dying, right there on the treadmill.

And then I had an epiphany: "Hey, maybe pain is my body's way of telling me something's wrong."

So I stopped running. And proceeded to walk on the treadmill for however long it took me to burn 120 calories. Which was about twenty minutes. And then I staggered to the showers and struggled back into my clothes and put on my coat and hat and went out to get the bus home. And then I proceeded to doze off between stops. So, yeah, not good.

Better today though, so hopefully tomorrow I can recommence my infatuation with burning calories and getting all toned and fit so I can fit into my really nice black pants that I haven't been able to wear since July.

It's good to have goals.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Light posting, with a wind chill of -4

I've been lax with my posts and even laxer with photos - I'm off work this week and have succumbed to an all-enveloping laziness. I am just so relieved not to be busy and running around and stressed right now. Plenty of time for that next week.

I'm at my parents' right now, with the cats. They're having a good time. Harry had a bit of a shock on Christmas morning when, full of the excitement of wrapping paper and new cat toys, he jumped up on the piano keyboard and played a minor chord. Startled, he ran up two octaves trying to get away from the sudden and unexpected noise. The look on his face - it was priceless. A combination of horror, fear and utter amazement that such a thing could be happening to him.

Is it wrong that we all laughed?

Thursday, 12 July 2012


About three weeks ago, Emma Frankford lost her battle with cancer. She was thirty years old.

Many of you who live in Toronto and hang out in the Annex, particularly Pauper's Pub, would have known Emma. She was a waitress at Pauper's, and one of the nicest people I've ever met in this city. Phil knew her a long time before I did - he and circle of friends used to be regulars at Momo's on Harbord Street, where she worked before Pauper's. But I knew Emma in her Pauper's days, pretty much from the first time I ever downed a pint there.

She was such a lovely person. She was genuine. She'd often sit with me for a few minutes and we'd catch up and exchange Annex news. We'd chat about great deals on apartments and school and plans for the future. One time, I brought my whole family to Pauper's for lunch, and I introduced them to her. Another time, Phil saw a friend of Emma's walking down a street in Prague. When he got back to Toronto, we went to Pauper's to tell her, and Emma said, "Really? I haven't been in touch with her for months!" And we laughed about what a small world it is.

Living in the city is tough. Even hip and happening neighbourhoods like the Annex can seem cold, unfriendly, and alienating at first. It's people like Emma - warm, friendly, open and generous - who help make these neighbourhoods feel like home. They do it in small, seemingly inconsequential ways: a smile, a happy "Hi! How are you? What's going on?", a wave as you pass by on the street. But the impact is so big. I hope she knew that.

I will really miss her.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Can a movie be too British?

Apparently it can. I saw the original version of the caper movie The Italian Job recently, and it was mildly disappointing, although it does pick up at the end, where the thieves make their escape using three Mini Coopers, which seem to take on personalities of their own in a chase that plays somewhat like a live-action cartoon.

The planning stage of the heist, though, the first hour of the film, is supposed to be amusing, and, while I like British humour -- Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and all that -- the comedy in this film wasn't the least bit funny. Benny Hill (as Professor Peach) probably has the best comedy bits in the film, and even he isn't that funny in it. It's kind of tasteless as well. The Brits seem to find amusing the very concept of cheeky, lower-class crooks pulling off a major job (which was how much of the public reacted to the Great Train Robbers of 1963, come to think of it), and they also respond to the warped patriotism of the situation (the Brits in charge, outwitting the European authorities and the Italian mafia, using British-made motor cars), but without any actual, you know, jokes, it all falls flat if you're a Yank. Until the Mini Coopers are unleashed, which is when, as I said, the movie takes off. The remake did a better job of working in the comedy, but the action sequences in the last half hour of the old one hold up better than the action sequences in the new version. It's probably worth sitting through the build-up to get to the heist sequence, but just barely.

Summertime blues

Looks like this little puppet show is going on hiatus, I've been too busy at work even to write post saying I'm too busy to post. Plus, I don't feel much like blogging on the burning issues of the day; Bush, by pushing his lllegal immigrant amnesty bill, has pretty much made his second term the disaster I predicted (and by "predicted" I mean "mentioned casually as a possibility"). Plus on top of that I foolishly agreed to help an organization of which I'm part with their website, which I found meant designing their website -- the time spent on that takes away any enthusiasm I have for tinkering with this site. Hasta luego.

It's the time of the season, for blogging

Oh, don't worry, I'm still neglecting the blog; this is just a post so I can say I posted something in July. So what am I doing in my spare time? Reading? Not as much as I should. I've been into the science fiction a little bit, very unusual for me: the stories of H.P. Lovecraft, to be specific. I'm also reading a collection of Henry Kuttner's work -- I'm actually reading my son's copy of the book (he's already read it). I also went to look up something or other in the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract last week and wound up re-reading the whole thing.

DVDs? I still have more DVDs than I can ever watch, ever. Right now, I'm working my way through The Val Lewton Collection, both the films themselves and the commentary tracks. The kids and I are about to start on Season Five of The Twilight Zone. Definitely the least of the seasons, but there's still some good moments; most of Rod Serling's literary pretensions had fallen by the wayside by that season, with the shows moving mechanically from plot point A to plot point B to set up surprise ending C, but that kind of approach can be more engaging to kids than that of the earlier episodes, which sometimes are too allegorical and ponderous.

Latest musical obsession? The hard-luck Brit Invasion group The Zombies. Summaries of their career here and here.

Arizona beats the odds

Interesting article from some site called the Hardball Times (link via the Wall Street Journal website's "Daily Fix" column) positing a rational explanation for why this year's Arizona Diamondbacks are (at this writing) 71-56 despite baseball's version of the Pythagorean theorem saying they should be eleven games worse, 60-67, given that their opponents have outscored them 575 to 543. (Last year, Cleveland, unfortunately, deviated from the Pythagorean theorem in the opposite direction.) The explanation (basically, the D-Backs have great closers, but terrible middle relief) sounds reasonable to me, although it would seem sheer random variation can't be ruled out. The P-theorem in baseball is not perfect. For instance, the very best and very worst teams' P-wins usually under- and overstate, respectively, their actual wins: The P-theorem says that the 1954 Indians should have gone 104-50, but they actually went 111-43, while the '62 Mets were 10 games worse than their predicted record of 50-110.

Has the concept of the baseball Pythagorean theorem entered the mainstream? The article reminded me that I heard it mentioned on a Reds TV broadcast a week or so ago, in the same context as the article -- the incongruity of the D-Backs' won-lost record this year. The Reds weren't playing the Diamondbacks at the time, but the announcers mentioned the final score of that night's D-Backs game, at which point lead announcer Thom Don't Call Me Tom Brenneman commented on how odd Arizona's success was because "generally your won-lost record is determined by the margin by which you outscore your opponents" (as I recall), to which his sidekick responded (again, as best as I can recall) "yep, the Pythagorean theorem." I almost fell off the couch; baseball aficionados have known about the P-theorem for a long time, but it was shocking to hear members of the media acknowledge it.