Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Less Than Sterling

Very often the difference between a rut
And a grave is the depth of the habit.
- WPK, Jr.

I am not a fan of professional basketball.  Although I enjoy playing and watching sports a great deal, NBA hoops has simply never been among the sports I like.  Neither is MLS soccer. 

As a casual observer however I am familiar with the underachieving history of the Los Angeles Clippers f/k/a the San Diego Clippers and once upon a lifetime ago known as the Buffalo Braves and their owner Donald Sterling.  Perhaps it reveals all one needs to know about Mr. Sterling to know this:  his given name is Donald Tokowitz.  He changed his last name to Sterling more than a half-century ago for one reason:  branding.  "You have to name yourself after something that's really good, that people have confidence in."  Better to sound good than to actually be good I suppose.

Sterling, properly, had the hammer come down on him Tuesday afternoon courtesy of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.  http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nba/news/20140429/adam-silver-donald-sterling-clippers-ban/?eref=sihp

He brought it on himself of course - a firestorm of his own creation these past several days due to some incredibly tone-deaf and racially insensitive comments he apparently made during a telephone conversation with his girlfriend, which included among their highlights his declaration that she should not associate with African-American people and should never bring an African-American person - including Magic Johnson - with her to watch his Clippers play.  http://www.tmz.com/2014/04/26/donald-sterling-clippers-owner-black-people-racist-audio-magic-johnson/.  The fact that "his Clippers" play in a league where more than half of the players are African-American and are coached by Glenn "Doc" Rivers - who is also African-American is apparently of little moment to Sterling. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I could not find any information on-line to corroborate the rumor that he fired Rivers' predecessor without ever having met him - simply due to his last name.  Former Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro is, in fact, Caucasian.

By all accounts, Sterling is not a good guy.  However, to his "credit" (giving that word the broadest possible definitional interpretation) his apparent bigotry is not something he has ever worked especially hard to hide.  I would recommend that you invest a minute or ten reading this profile of Sterling that Peter Keating wrote for ESPN - The Magazine in 2009.  http://espn.go.com/espn/print?id=4187729&type=story.  It is pretty wrenching stuff. 

I empathize with Chris Paul, Doc Rivers and each and every African-American who is a member of Sterling's NBA franchise.  But only to a degree.  At some point, we as adults make decisions about how we shall live our lives, how we shall conduct our business and to what lengths we shall go to earn our daily bread.  Sterling's "predilections" could not have been unknown to his players, coaches and front-office personnel.  Yet they have signed contracts with him and have agreed to be compensated handsomely by him. 

Acceptance of his money with knowledge of the type of man he is alleged to be does not make one complicit in all Sterling says and all Sterling does.  It does however leave one open to be questioned as to how much of his history one examined and investigated before starting to do business with him.  Not to mention whether his history went undetected or whether upon detecting it you conducted a simple cost-benefit analysis and decided that - for you - the ick factor of accepting money from him was far outweighed by the number of numerals to the left of the decimal point on your paycheck.

Similarly, while I applaud the NBA Commissioner's decision, which he arrived at after ordering an investigation "into" Sterling's comments (and learning in the process from Sterling that the voice on the audio tape was indeed his), I could not help but wonder what direction the league had looked previously when Sterling's boorish behavior was disclosed in court filings, deposition testimony and affidavits.  The NBA has four franchises in California including one that shares not only the City of Los Angeles with Sterling's Clippers but the same arena.  Presuming Sterling's legal machinations never generated a headline in any newspaper west of Death Valley, are we to believe that NO ONE associated with the NBA - including not just the people in the league office but fellow owners, club executives or players - had any knowledge of them?  Sorry, no sale. 

Truth be told, a lot of people and entities of all races and colors have been making a lot of money with Sterling and off of him during the thirty-one years he has owned the Clippers without once saying a word about his offensive - and in some cases illegal - tactics directed towards certain minority groups.  Everyone was happy to look the other way - to say nothing - until he was unmasked in a very public fashion on Friday.  Then, and only then, did hand-wringing become an Olympic-caliber event. A special shout-out to whoever it is who runs the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, which was preparing to give Sterling his second award in the past five years next month when the TMZ story broke on Friday.  One hell of a vetting process being utilized in that office.  If you have a moment then read Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's piece on time.com, which capsulizes the whole situation beautifully.  http://time.com/#82197/donald-sterling-los-angeles-clippers-nba/.

Martin Sheen's character, Carl Fox, said it best in Wall Street:   "I don't go to bed with no whore, and I don't wake up with no whore. That's how I live with myself. I don't know how you do it."


Methinks that is a question that has been asked a lot of themselves by the men and women who work for Sterling - including the millionaire athletes and coaches on the Clippers - and who have worked with him over the years helping to make him and themselves a considerable amount of money.  And methinks that it is a question that has as many answers as it has people asking it...

...including at least a few who cannot fathom how it is they ended up putting themselves in a position where they have to answer it.

-AK   

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pedal Power

We are what we consistently Do.
Excellence, then, is not an Act,
But a Habit...
-Aristotle

My wife possesses one of the world's great self-deprecating senses of humor.  Perhaps it is indicative of just how often either or both of us engages in behavior that we think might cause at least one eyebrow to arch in the world at large but we both are imbued with the ability to have a little bit of fun at our own expense.

If you are among the many who call Margaret "friend" in the world of virtual interaction, then you have been getting kept abreast of her bicycling exploits.  I assure you that she is greatly underselling her achievements to date - although she is doing so in an utterly hilarious manner. 

Misunderstand not.  My wife is not decked out in head to toe in garb that makes her look as if she is some sort of Spandex billboard.  Nor is she auditioning for the role of Dave in the as-yet-unannounced remake of "Breaking Away"...


...what she is doing is something far more important than either of those things.  She is doing something that she enjoys.  It makes her happy.  And the fact that it makes her happy and is good for her makes me happy too. 

She had a bit of good-natured fun at my expense on Sunday when I went to Sports Authority to purchase her a Timex Ironman Watch so that she can track not only the time spent on the bike but the distance covered while she is on it.  Truth be told I did it for two reasons.  First, I gave her my Garmin Forerunner 410 to use on her ride Sunday morning and it was far too big for her wrist.  Second, because I know as someone whose love for running began in a manner quite similar to Margaret's interest in bike riding that she not only wants to to it, she wants to know how long she is doing it for and how far she is going when she does it. 

She has promised me that even with her new time-keeping swag she will not become one of "those" cyclists.  You know the ones of whom I write.  The ones who ride several abreast in Phalanx formation as if they have arrived directly from a Spartan landing party upon the winding, two-lane road where you are trying to drive your automobile.  The ones who only seem to ride once they have coordinated the day's outfit with the other seventeen members of their cycle posse.  The ones who sport several hundred dollars worth of riding attire and accessories whether they could pass as Lance Armtrong's doppleganger or more closely resemble a piece of Premio Italian sausage.  The ones who torment those of us who are runners by refusing to break formation as we approach one another on the road until the very last moment in an effort to act like some sort of physical fitness bullies.  

Actually, if she breaks her promise and becomes just that type of cyclist I shall care not at all - unless she falls in with a crew that rides the same roads on which I run.  As long as she enjoys doing it and remains safe while doing it, I am about as happy as one fellow can be.  

Well, maybe not as happy as Dave Stohler.  Then again, I am not sure anyone could be as happy as Dave Stohler.  Not in this lifetime anyway...

 
-AK

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Michelangelo Smile

Faith in oneself is the best and safest course.
- Michelangelo

One week ago Shalane Flanagan did not win the 2014 Boston Marathon.   It was certainly not for lack of effort.  Flanagan - who is an extraordinary talent - was ahead through seventeen miles.  She finished in 2:22.02, which was her fastest-ever finishing time in a marathon (by roughly three minutes).  It was a time that she and her coach had anticipated would be the time needed to win the Marathon.  It was the fastest time an American woman has ever run at Boston.  

Flanagan finished in seventh place.  Her best-time ever was roughly three and one half minutes off of the winning time of Rita Jeptoo.  Jeptoo's winning time of 2:18.57 was the fastest winning time ever for a woman at Boston.  Jeptoo, in fact, took close to two minutes off of the course record. 

Shalane Flanagan was as gracious post-race as she always is.  Clearly she was disappointed that in spite of her best efforts she did not accomplish what she had hoped to accomplish, which was winning her hometown event for her hometown and for the people of Boston. 

However, even though she did not finish atop the podium it is hard to argue that she did not in fact do what it was she had set out to do.  The enthusiasm throughout Boston - and really all over the country - last Monday was palpable.  It is true that she did not win the race.  However she did not "fail".  She simply did not finish in first place.

Perhaps victory will come for her next year.  She will most assuredly be back on the starting line in Hopkinton in 2015.  “I can say right now, I’ll be back here until I win it,” Flanagan said. “I’ll be back to challenge Jeptoo.”

And somewhere Michelangelo just smiled...

-AK





Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Case of Moore Meaning More

Later today - in the building located at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue in New York City - the professional hockey team for which I have rooted with all of my heart (or the little charred bit of coal masquerading as one) for the entirety of my life shall play a game.  This afternoon the Rangers shall host the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Five of their First Round Best-of-Seven Playoff Series.  

I know not what role if any one of the pluckiest guys on the Rangers, Dom Moore, shall play in today's game.  If history is any guide, Moore will spend the time he is given to ply his craft on the ice doing what he does best:  winning important faceoffs, forechecking like a lunatic and working, working, working.  As someone who has always been a grinder in everything I have done, I find that Dom Moore is the type of professional athlete towards whom I gravitate.  He is not a superstar.  He is a battler.  Every day.  All day.  

Moore is 33.  In his NHL career he has played for nine teams.  This year was his second tour of duty with the Rangers.  It was also the first NHL season he played without the love of his life, Katie.  The two were college sweethearts - at Harvard.  They married in July, 2010.  Less than two years later, when Katie was only 31, she was stricken with a rare, intensely virulent type of liver cancer called Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma.  

Dom Moore earns his living playing hockey.  Yet during the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Moore left the San Jose Sharks to be with Katie.  He was there at her bedside on the morning of January 7, 2013 when she died.  Katie Moore was 32.  

An extraordinary young woman whose impact still resonates - most especially with her husband. “She’s … she’s … 100 percent of my life,” Moore said. “Not only her example, but her presence is with me, 100 percent of the time, all the time.”  http://nypost.com/2014/04/23/rangers-center-moore-opens-up-about-wifes-death/.

Katie Moore's legacy lives on not only in and through her husband Dom but also through the Foundation he established in her honor.  The Katie Moore Foundation (http://www.katiemoore.org/) helps families who find themselves where the Moores found themselves just two-plus tragically short years ago:  being ravaged by a rare form of cancer.  

The business of sport is one riddled with cliches.  Games are "life and death".  Players are "warriors".  Situations are "do or die".  The very next time you find yourself, whether as a participant or as a fan, preparing to utter any of those old saws, think - just for a brief moment - about Dom Moore, Katie Moore and the fundamental distinction between real life and sports.  Dom Moore said it better than I could ever hope to, discussing the final few hours of his wife's life:

"I wanted to make sure she knew how proud she should be of herself.  A lot of people think you’re a success if you beat cancer, or if you survive or whatever. That’s kind of the way we work in sports, too — either you’re a winner or you’re not. I wanted to make sure she knew that she’s a winner.”   http://nypost.com/2014/04/23/rangers-center-moore-opens-up-about-wifes-death/

I suspect that if Katie Moore was here, she would point out to her husband that he too is a winner.  In her absence, it is my honor and my privilege to so advise him. 

-AK   

Saturday, April 26, 2014

An Expression of Gratitude

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,
but the parent of all others.”
- Cicero

Every now and again, it is the oldest sibling too.  For me it is anyway.  Today is the birthday of the oldest of the six progeny of WPK, Sr. and Joanie K.  Bill is the one of our sextet who was cast into the toughest of all roles.  He was the Tip of the Spear.  The one who dealt with the old man in his undiluted form.  

As if that is not in and of itself basis enough for having an eternal, life-long debt to him, he is the one who insisted that I learn how to read and is the one who ensured that I did so before I was two years old.  The fact that my comprehension has progressed little beyond that point is entirely my fault.  I smile at the memory of walking around the Rutgers University Library dragging The New York Times back to whichever table Bill and his friends were set up for the day so that he and I could read it together.  

He is also the one to whom I am indebted for a great deal of my music appreciation.  He was of course my original conduit to the music of Bruce Springsteen.  However - and not insignificantly - he has introduced me to other important contributors to the soundtrack of my life, including Leonard Cohen and James McMurtry.

He has done no shortage of cool, extraordinary things since he first arrived here a bit more than six decades ago.  I feel safe in noting - without checking with him first - that he would consider his two most significant achievements being a husband to his wife, Sigrid, whom he loves with all his heart and being a father to his rather wonderful young adults, Patrick and Michelle.  One who has achieved that much has had one hell of a life.  

Happy Birthday Bill.  All the best to one who deserves nothing less.  


-AK    

Friday, April 25, 2014

Honey Pots & Other Sticky Wickets

In case you missed it, earlier this week the Chicago Cubs celebrated the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field.  I have never been to Wrigley.  I have never rooted for the Cubs - other than when they played against Will Clark's San Francisco Giants in the 1989 NLCS.  I have no actual affinity for Wrigley.  If you do, then I heartily recommend Tom Verducci's piece on SI's web site:   http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mlb/news/20140423/wrigley-field-100th-anniversary-chicago-cubs/

Candidly, my favorite thing about Wrigley Field is its role in two of my favorite films, Ferris Beuller's Day Off and...

...The Blues Brothers Movie


Who among us does not hate Illinois Nazis?

In true Cubs style, the franchise that has last won a World Series eight years before it started calling Wrigley home (let that factoid rattle around inside of your skull cap for a couple of minutes) tortured their fans on 100th Anniversary day.  The Cubbies entered the ninth inning ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks by three runs - and proceeded to give up a five spot.  They lost 7-5.  

On Wednesday night, Michael Pineda and his good friend P. Tar took the mound against the Red Sox in Fenway Park.  Given that when he last pitched against Boston in New York on April 10, Sox Manager John Farrell raised questions about the rather obvious glop of pine tar that Pineda had all over his pitching hand, one might have thought that (a) the Sox would be on the lookout for any hanky-panky; and (b) the Yankees would tell Pineda to cut the shit and pitch "au naturel".  You would have been half-right.  

Pineda toed the rubber to start the bottom of the second - after having surrendered two runs in the first - with a rather obvious glop of pine tar on his neck.  Yep.  His neck.  Upon "discovering" it (giving that word its broadest possible definitional scope), the umpires threw Pineda out of the game.  While I like Joe Girardi quite a lot and think he has done a good job managing the Yankees these past five-plus years, his claim after the game that no one in the Yankees dugout saw Pineda go out on the field slathered in the stuff comes dangerously close to insulting even my intelligence.  And I am not very bright. 

Unless someone looked at Pineda and thought that he had rubbed the remnants of a pack of Rolos that had melted in his pants pocket on his face and neck on his way out to the mound to pitch the second inning, what other explanation was there for what was there?  Perhaps in the off-season the same contractor that retrofitted the Alamo for a basement at Pee Wee's request


spent a day or two in Boston and created a secret passage from the visitors' clubhouse to the pitcher's mound that bypasses the visiting team's dugout entirely, thus enabling Pineda to emerge from underground standing atop the rubber with none of his coaches or teammates being any the wiser?  Absolute idiocy.  

Pineda keeps this up and MLB will require him to pitch wearing a "wife-beater" t-shirt (navy blue pinstriped for home games and solid gray for road starts) and Bermuda shorts just so they can be certain he is not hiding anything on his person.  Recommendation for Joey G.:  Tell Pineda to cut the shit and stop dabbing himself with pine tar.  Tell him if he does it again, you will dock him his game check.  I am fairly confident that once you explain to him that you shall take money out of his pocket, he will stop putting pine tar in it.  

It seems simpler than trying to teach him how to be smart about it while hoping you actually learn how to lie convincingly.  I have little hope for the former and, based upon Wednesday night's performance, no hope at all for the latter. 

-AK       

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Peering Backwards Through The Glass

A lot of water has been run under and around the hull of my ferry since then.
 And while life is undoubtedly meant to be lived forward,
occasionally it is nice to take a moment to peer backwards through the glass
at a moment that meant something to you then
and to discover that it still means quite a lot to you presently.
-Author Unknown

While I was half-listening to an adversary drone on incessantly Tuesday afternoon during a telephone conversation that last substantially longer than it needed to, my mind drifted as my mind tends to do.  I found myself on-line.  I stumbled across something - truth be told I do not recall exactly what it was - that made me flash back to a very specific moment in time.  A moment that occurred not quite a lifetime ago.


On a warm June evening thirty-four years ago, in the immediate aftermath of Graduation from the Lower School at W-H, one of my sisters, whichever one had the Polaroid camera, snapped this picture.  The five of us (Left to Right:  Dave Lackland, Steve Keller, Brian Clare, Mike Koplowitz and Yours Truly), seemingly photographed at a State correctional facility on "Dress Up Like a Made Man Visiting Day" were photographed in a building known as "The Link" on W-H's Plainfield Avenue campus.  The building was so named because it linked the school's old/original gymnasium with its new gymnasium. 

A lot of life has happened over the course of the past three and one-half decades.  Only three of us in this group - Steve, Mike and the big-headed kid on the far right of the frame - graduated from W-H five years later as members of the Class of '85.  Brian and Dave left W-H for new adventures somewhere along the way as we matriculated our way through high school.  To my knowledge, I have neither seen nor spoken to Steve since we graduated from high school.  A couple of years ago I saw in the newspaper that his father had died.  I sent him and his family a condolence card.  I did not hear back from him.  Nor did I expect to.  Mike and I have crossed paths once or twice in the past thirty years and have exchanged the occasional e-mail.  Brian, appropriately shown in the center of this picture, died far too young, in the Summer of '85. 

One of the things I like the most about the whole "social media" monster is that it has enabled me to reconnect with Dave.  He is now, as he was way back when, one of the world's truly benevolent souls.  If cloning ever catches on, he is the type of person the world at large should give consideration to making more of.  Whether anyone ever really needs "More Cowbell" has yet to be proven to my satisfaction but "More Dave"?  Absolutely. 

Thinking back to Tuesday afternoon it occurs to me that what got me started contemplating this particular moment in time was something Dave had shared on-line - a photograph of his young son Indy.  Not too long after Indy was born, I sent Dave and his Missus a card congratulating them.  I enclosed the Polaroid along with the card.  If memory serves, I attached a short note to it telling Dave that I wanted him to have it in the event he ever wanted to share it with his son when Indy is not quite as young as he is presently.  Whether he still has the photograph I know not.   That is not a question to which I ever need to know the answer.  

If memory serves, back in the day when Polaroid instant cameras were all the rage and people were running around "shaking it like a Polaroid picture" we the consumers were told that the pictures taken using that film had a shelf life.  They were not intended to last forever but, in a twist that Marty McFly and Doc Brown would love, to fade out somewhere between twenty-five to thirty years.  By my recollection then, my one and only Polaroid is extraordinary for its existence let alone its content.  

Although it is its content for which I shall remember it long after it has ceased to exist.  For even though its images are color, its message is one about the never-ending shades of grey... 


-AK  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Willie the Shakes & the McDougall Method

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”
-William Shakespeare
"MacBeth"

Willie the Shakes was born on this day four hundred and fifty years ago.  Were he still alive today, he would be really, really old.  He is not.  He died, in fact, at age fifty-two.  He had a playwright's sense of timing even in death - dying fifty-two years to the day from the day on which he was born.  Tough break for the stone mason at the cemetery I suppose having to carve a headstone that read "04/23/64 - 16" as opposed to two separate lines (one for the date of birth and one for the date of death).  

My education was not that different from the rest of the world I suppose in that at W-H, Shakespeare was thrust upon us in several different English classes.  The best time I had studying him was in 8th grade.  My English teacher was Alec McDougall, who was Martin and Ruth's father.  Mr. McDougall was a Scotsman and a trained actor who had performed in a variety of Shakespearan plays in small theatre companies in England and in the United States.  

In Mr. McDougall's class, we did not just read Shakespeare, we inhaled him.  Among the most vivid memories of my secondary school education are those of Mr. McDougall, who was a hair or two more than five feet tall, in full-on acting mode with his little face all scrinched up and his entire head turning beet red, which when set off against his stark white hair gave him the visage of the world's smallest killer tomato.  Picture if you will Linda Blair in The Exorcist both during and immediately after one of her 'episodes' and you have a pretty good understanding of the transformation that Mr. McDougall would undergo while reciting Shakespeare's words.  At the time, there were days when it veered off the tracks temporarily from entertaining to terrifying but it never once was anything less than enthralling. 

I enjoyed Shakespeare when I read his plays in high school.  Three-plus decades later I still do.  I think my appreciation for him is owed in significant part to the way in which the work was taught to me.  Alec McDougall's love for Shakespeare's work was genuine and absolute and he shared his love for it with those of us in his class with unbridled enthusiasm.   If there is a better way in which to teach such works to 13 and 14 year-old American school kids, I know not what it might be.  

For me, the McDougall Method made all the difference.   

“Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.”
- William Shakespeare
"Julius Caesar" 

-AK   

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

In Defense of the Planet

Today is Earth Day.  It has been celebrated annually since 1970 - a "National teach-in on the environment."  http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement.

In the history of humankind the only thing we the humans have had more of an interest in fucking ruining than the planet we call home is one another.   Human history is littered with examples of the bullies among us availing themselves of every opportunity to stomp all over the weaker among us.  It is what we have always done.

But the history of humankind is also replete with the good among our number coming together to ensure the preservation of the species - in spite of the best efforts of the malevolent among us.  And here on Earth Day 2014 those of us sporting the white hats need to come together. 

Global warming is a bad thing.  But it is not as a harmful a thing for this planet as Vladimir Putin is.  Putin is not a good human being, which would not be of significance to the rest of us but for the fact that he is the President of Russia.  In the old days, when we still fought the Cold War and the two halves of Berlin were separated by the Wall, Putin was a big deal in the Soviet KGB.  Old lessons die hard. 

Unless you were sleeping these past sixty days you are aware of the fact that the Russians took it upon themselves to "liberate" Crimea from the Ukraine.  And unless you were asleep when they did and are now dead you  are aware of the fact that the Crimean Liberation was merely the first act for Vlad the Impaler.  For present purposes, his sights are set squarely on the rest of the Ukraine.

In the eastern Ukraine, Jewish residents have received leaflets from pro-Russian militia members directing them that they are required to register.   According to the leaflet, “ID and passport are required to register your Jewish religion, religious documents of family members, as well as documents establishing the rights to all real estate property that belongs to you, including vehicles. Evasion of registration will result in citizenship revoke and you will be forced outside the country with a confiscation of property."  http://nypost.com/2014/04/17/jews-in-ukraine-forced-to-register-with-authorities/.

We have been here before in the annals of human history.  A bad man has singled out citizens of a particular religious faith for "registration", which proved to be the first step down a very terrible path.  We must not allow it to happen again. 

If you want to do something for the planet this Earth Day, then pay attention to what is happening in the Ukraine.  And be prepared to do something about it.  Be prepared to speak up for those who need to hear your voice.  And mine.

-AK 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pretty Cool Stuff

It seems to me - although I was not involved in any of the shenanigans - as if this weekend saw the final pre-marriage event Jess and Rob have on their docket (not counting their respective bachelor/ette romps) before "The Big Day" arrives in early June.  Saturday was the bridal shower.  The Missus and the Texas Tornado attended and as I understand it a good time was had by all.  Pretty cool stuff. 

Perhaps the weddings of my two children excite me more than one would otherwise anticipate - given my otherwise well-entrenched status as a curmudgeon - because of the fact that (barring a lightning strike or some such thing between now and June's first Friday) I have lived to see both of them get married.  I am not an old man by any stretch and my piss-poor performance in the Unite Half-Marathon a week ago Sunday notwithstanding I am in pretty good shape, so I mean not to be overly morbid.  At the risk of disappointing many, principally my wife I fear, I have no particular reason to believe I am just about to trip the mortal coil.  

But as someone who was fourteen years old and approximately one week shy of completing the eighth grade when my father died, the whole notion of being here to watch my children enjoy adulthood seems at times surreal.  I am enjoying the whole process very, very much.  It is as if I have the best seats in the house for a show that I did not think would ever be available for viewing in my world and which, since it started, has exceeded my expectations.

Pretty cool stuff indeed. 

-AK      

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Where The Rivers All Run Dry

Today is Easter Sunday.  It is a day that has little impact upon my day-to-day, having been raised in an Irish Catholic household but having bailed out of that train before it jumped the tracks a long, long time ago.  Much to my mother's chagrin, I have adopted a rather straightforward, simple philosophy with regard to all things spiritual. 

The Lord and I have arrived at an understanding.  I spend no time in his house.  I ask nothing but that he returns the favor.  Countless people worldwide disagree with my theology.  I get it.  Among their number are several members of my family.  I get that too.  It matters not.  To each his or her own.    

I have lived long enough to have seen more than my share of really bad shit happen to really good people - including too many members of my own family and Margaret's family to count.  To me it simply defies reason to place one's faith in any "thing" that repeatedly punches you in the solar plexus and then immediately thereafter appears to be willing to assist you to get the air back into your lungs. I respect your right to believe in whatever myth you choose to.  Countless people do it.  Maybe it is the buzz they catch from the sacramental wine and the little Necco Wafers they are given for snack?  Maybe it is the chance to kneel every now and again on those nice padded kneelers?  Damned if I know.  Damned if I care. 

I ask nothing but that you acknowledge my right to think (from afar and in a manner that does not infringe upon your right to go do the voodoo that you do so well) that you are more than a little nuts for doing so...

...enjoy the Egg Hunt.   

If I should fall from grace with God
Where no doctor can relieve me
If I'm buried 'neath the sod
But the angels won't receive me.

Let me go, boys
Let me go, boys
Let me go down in the mud
Where the rivers all run dry...
- The Pogues


-AK
     


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Direction and Pace

It was on this very date in 2008 that I stumbled upon a playground for the voices rattling around in my head.  The purpose of this exercise now - as it was then - was not the quest for self-indulgence (although I am certain it seems that way more often than not...now for example) but the quest for peace.  I presumed then as now that the ability to cobble together some semblance of peace between my ears shall make me less of an unbearable prick of misery for the rest of the world - or at least those who also occupy my little corner of it - to endure. 

The fact that anyone other than me takes the time to read what is written here - on any day let alone on most days - I find quite stunning.  I appreciate those who do and especially those who comment upon what is written here.  I must confess that sometimes when I read the comments I am reminded just how wonderfully subjective an art the interpretation of the written word is for there are days when what is gleaned from the comments to what I have written and the basis for what I have written share little to no common ground.  It matters not.  The only thoughts I hold title to are my own.  You who read them in their reduced to writing form are free to interpret them as you see fit. 

Today is Record Store Day, which is inarguably more important than anything happening 'round here.  If music is important to you and your schedule today affords you time to do so, then check it out at a record store near you.  Hopefully you still have at least one within a reasonable distance from your home or office.  Here is the link to the Record Store Day website, which provides you information as to what stores are participating and what is for sale:  http://www.recordstoreday.com/.

I shall be here tomorrow.  If you are too, then we shall chat again.  This is a journey of indeterminate length.  I know not when it shall reach its natural stopping point.  I do know however that today is not that day. 

Until then...


-AK   

Friday, April 18, 2014

On a Mission from Marblehead

Patriots' Day in Boston is Monday.  It is the day on which the 2014 edition of the Boston Marathon shall be run.  I suppose that the city as a whole shall hold its collective breath and wait to exhale until Monday has safely passed into the day after, much in the same way that New York City did on September 11, 2002.  Rob and I spent the night at Yankee Stadium.  There was a beautiful pre-game ceremony, which was highlighted by the dedication of a 09/11 monument in Monument Park.  During the seventh-inning stretch the great Irish tenor Ronan Tynan came onto the field to sing "God Bless America".  The Yankees won the game if memory serves - defeating the Orioles. 

The result on the field seemed secondary to the process itself.  Fifty thousand-plus of us had gathered in a very public place not too many miles away from where the worst day ever had unfolded one year earlier as if to say "Fuck You!" to those who had brought the pain.  Truth be told - and bravado aside - I was more relieved than anything else when Rob and I left the Stadium that night.  My great, great grandfather Phineas used to say, "There is but a fine line between bravery and foolhardiness."  More than once that evening I looked over at my then-young son hoping like hell that I had not deposited us squarely on the wrong side of that line.

On Monday morning, the sensational American marathoner Shalane Flanagan shall attempt to win her first Boston Marathon.  Flanagan is a Marblehead girl and has admittedly spent this whole year engrossed in the pursuit of winning this race this year for this city, which is a scant seventeen miles or so from her hometown.  Whether she will accomplish her goal I know not.  I do know that running 26.2 miles as fast as you can is hard work.  I suppose she will find out Monday morning whether she is running it with the good wishes of her hometown fans at her back like a tailwind available to her or her alone or whether she is running it with the expectations of those fans stacked mightily upon her shoulders. 

Last year, competing in the event for the first time, Flanagan finished fourth.  One hell of a nice maiden voyage.  However, whatever good feelings she had about her performance were quickly overtaken by feelings of anger and outrage regarding the actions of those two cowards at the finish line area.  Her anger at them morphed into the fuel that has driven her to prepare relentlessly for this year's race.  It really is one hell of a story.  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/hometown-favorite-aims-to-win-boston-marathon/

Feel free to root for the runner of your choice Monday.  Me?  I am rooting hard from the Irish lass from Marblehead.  It has been said that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  It seems to me as if "a woman on a mission" can bring the heat pretty damn well too. 

Here is to hoping that she brings it all the way to the finish line ahead of the rest of the field.



-AK  

     

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Living the Life You Have Imagined

My old bones are feeling it a bit today.  At least it is a good thing that has me running on fumes:  the Texas Tornado and Ryan have made landfall here in the State of Concrete Gardens for a couple of days.  While happiness is not always a run to the airport to pick someone up at 11:45 PM when one's day starts at 2:45 AM, it is always great to see the Texas branch of the family tree. 

I have likely already seen Suzanne more than I shall for the remainder of the weekend.  She and the Missus are buzzing from point-to-point this weekend.  Their schedule today is fairly jam-packed - although at gun point I could not recite either (a) a single destination to which they are headed; or (b) an estimated arrival time at any of them. 

The occasion for this visit is a happy one for my little crew.  Saturday afternoon is the bridal shower for my soon-to-be daughter-in-law Jessica.  Margaret and Suzanne are, of course, going to help Jess, her mom Denise and her sisters Sara and Beth celebrate the day.  Jess is the oldest daughter in her family and is the first of the trio to get married.  Big doings indeed.  I smile at the thought of how much I enjoyed watching Margaret and Suzanne enjoy this process and at the thought as to how I hope Jess and Denise and the rest of the crew are enjoying the hell of this. 

A terrific young woman.  Eight weeks from tomorrow she shall marry my son.  Our invitation arrived in the mail earlier this week.  They are getting married on a Friday evening on the beach.  Note to self:  Need to take at least the afternoon off to make it to the beach on time.

Relax.  I am kidding.  I am as likely to miss the wedding of my son as I would have been to have missed the wedding of my daughter, which is to say that had I been dead I would not have been more than a minute or two late. 

I have but one of him.  I sleep well knowing that he has found himself such an extraordinary traveling companion.  As has she.  

Speaking of sleep.  I am counting the minutes to day's end so I can go home and grab myself some.  It may be a happy day but it is still shaping up as one hell of a long one. 

-AK  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Supremacy on the Curve

Random thought of the day:  Is there any greater oxymoron than "White Supremacist"? 

As a decidedly mediocre Caucasian I must admit that every time I see something in the news pertaining to one of these asshats I come away thinking "Really?".  If there is some sort of Supreme Being and he was holding up one white person as an example of the superiority of those of us of a white-skinned persuasion (actually we are closer to peach-colored than white but that is a story for another day and I do not have M.T. here to explain it to you) to the rest of the planet's inhabitants, then are we expected to reasonably that the example he would use is Franklin Glenn Cross?   http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/official-ids-supremacist-as-kansas-attacks-suspect

Sorry, no sale.

Mr. Cross is the pillar of the community who decided to spend his Palm Sunday hunting other human beings - and chose as the grounds in which to conduct his hunt a Jewish Community Center and a Jewish retirement home in Overland Park, Kansas.  Mr. Cross killed three innocents in cold blood before he was apprehended.  At least two of the three he killed, a physician and the physician's fourteen-year-old grandson, were Christians.  It is little solace to their families and to the families of this jagoff's other victims that Cross is apparently no expert in recognizing another's religious affiliation simply by staring at him or her down the barrel of his weapon. 

Hopefully they will derive some solace from the fact that Cross, 73, now faces the likelihood of spending the rest of his life - if convicted for his alleged crimes - in a Kansas state penitentiary.  I must admit that I would be in favor of permitting him to spread the word of his "Whiteys Are #1" philosophy in an area where he and his followers have likely never spent much time.  East St. Louis Illinois jumps immediately to the forefront of my mind.   The sad truth is that nothing done to this piece of human deritus shall ever bring back their loved ones.  

His hate has already taken them away...

  Father, father
We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today...
- Marvin Gaye

-AK


 



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Certainty

In this world nothing can be said to be certain,
except Death and Taxes...
- Benjamin Franklin

My old bones woke up yesterday morning a bit sorer than usual.  Par for the course I suppose.  Any time I run in a race longer than five miles I really feel it in my bones the following day.  Fortunately what I felt yesterday morning was not pain.  It was simply soreness.  It was as if my legs were reminding the rest of me just how much effort they had exerted on Sunday morning and that no matter how much my brain may try to persuade them to the contrary, they are not as young as they once were. 

Today is the first full day of Passover.  I hope that one and all of Jewish faith enjoy a happy holiday.  I am not a spiritual man and while "faith in a higher power" is not something that I espouse (unless Guinness might be considered a higher power) I respect that there are countless people who do.  For Jews and Catholics alike, this week is a big one on the calendar.  While I shall - as I do annually - be sitting this one out, may it bring to those of you who observe it the peace that you seek from it. 

Today is also Income Tax Day here in these United States.  I hope against hope, year after year that this year shall be the one on which the tax man passes me over.  Alas, it never is.  I used to root for him to give me something back but several years ago I decided that it would be enough for me if he just allowed me to break even.  Just once.  While that day may in fact come at some point in time, it has not yet arrived. 

Hmmm... I wonder if I can take a deduction for money spent on Advil, ice packs and Ben-Gay?  Note to self:  Check with accountant for next year's taxes.  Depending upon how much pain I am willing to subject myself to, that day may be closer than I think.



Monday, April 14, 2014

Running the Thinnest of Lines


Success is a lousy teacher.
It seduces smart people into thinking
that they cannot lose.
- Bill Gates

My favorite thing about running in races is that it is humbling.  You are whatever your finishing time says you are.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.


Yesterday's Unite Half-Marathon at Rutgers University was - as it has been for all five years of its existence - a terrific event.  It is well-organized and well-attended.  This year, even more so than the first four years, there appeared to be a concerted effort among those of us gathered in the starting area to use this event to rid ourselves of the miserable winter we had all endured. 

And we did.  It was a beautiful day to run here in the State of Concrete Gardens.  I am disappointed in my own performance in that my finishing time of 2:05.16 was about fifteen minutes north of where I had hoped to finish and approximately twelve minutes slower than I ran this same race last year.  My mistake was in going out too fast.  As someone who has run in too many races to count, I know better.  Yesterday however there was a significant disconnect between what I know to do and what I did.  I powered through the first three miles as if I was running a 5K - hanging splits of 7:57, 8:11 and 8:02.  Too damn fast.  I knew it.  My legs knew it.  My lungs knew it.

I crossed the 7-mile mark at a tick under 62 minutes.  While my split times still seemed solid, I knew I was struggling.  The final five miles or so devolved into a knife fight.  My finishing time confirmed it.  After running the first seven miles in slightly less than one hour and two minutes, I needed more than one hour and three minutes to complete the final 6.1 miles.  I escaped math by seeking refuge in law school.  However even I know enough arithmetic to know just how much worse I finished than I had started. 

Such is life in the big city I reckon.  On the one hand, I clearly did not run my best race yesterday.  On the other hand, I ran 13.1 miles at a 9:33 per mile pace, for which I shall not apologize to anyone - most of all myself.  I am looking forward to next year's edition already.  It is an event I enjoy even on a Sunday in which the end result is a far cry from my pre-race expectations.

Success is not final,
Failure is not fatal:  it is the courage
to continue that counts. 
- Winston Churchill





Sunday, April 13, 2014

This Day

Always bear in mind that your resolution to succeed
is more important than any one thing.
- Abraham Lincoln

From Honest Abe's lips to my legs - or something to that effect.  It is "Half-Marathon Sunday" for me and for the couple or three thousand other runners who shall line up outside of RU's football stadium this morning at 8:00 o'clock and compete in the 5th Annual Unite Half-Marathon.


I have been a participant in this event for each of its first five years - although flooding in 2011 necessitated the course being shortened from 13.1 miles to slightly less than 10.  In 2010, I hobbled home in a hairball less than two and one half hours.  In 2012, I crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 56 minutes and change.  Last year I shaved another minute or so off of my time and completed the race in slightly less than 1 hour and 54 minutes. 

My goal this year is to continue that downward trend and perhaps get closer to the 1 hour and 50 minute mark, which would average out to a pace of approximately eight and one half minutes per mile.  As an old man with creaky knees I would sign for that finishing time right now - especially if I all I had to do to earn it was sign my name to something.  That would also free up my Sunday morning entirely and enable me to do something else altogether today.

The forecast today appears to be very nice, which is always a plus.  It is also a plus for me in that the race's distance is approximately three times the distance this event is from my home.  Happiness is a long-distance running event from which you can be home within twenty minutes of crossing the finish line. 

If you are on or near the RU campus this morning and/or in the neighborhood around College Avenue in New Brunswick, and you want to take a moment to shout out a cheer for your favorite runner as he or she runs past you then feel free to do so.  My favorite part of this event is the manner in which fans line College Avenue in the half-mile leading to the finish line.  At the end of a long, hard run it is nice to hear people clapping and cheering for you - even though you do not know them and they have no idea who the hell you are.  You derive energy from their energy.  You appreciate the effort they have put into showing up and applauding you as much as they appreciate yours.

And that is most assuredly a good thing.  




-AK

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Quest Renewed

Perhaps the weather gods have finally started to smile upon us - the people of the State of Concrete Gardens.  Just this week we have had several consecutive days in which the weather has coincided with the season and Spring has in fact felt like Spring.  Today and tomorrow are supposed to be fairly mild too.  As someone who is spending a couple of hours tomorrow morning be-bopping all over the campus at Rutgers University in the Unite Half Marathon, I find myself pleased by the fact that the race starts at 8:00 AM.  Tomorrow's day-time high temperature is supposed to be in the mid-70's.  There are any number of things I like to do on sun-drenched, seventy-five degree days.  Run 13.1 miles as fast as my little legs can carry me is not necessarily among them.

Spring's bloom coincides - pretty closely anyway - with the conclusion of the regular season in the NHL.  If you root as I do for the New York Rangers, this is the season in which hope blooms like the first flowers of the Spring.  The Rangers qualified for the playoffs again this year and shall commence post-season hostilities on Wednesday night.  I believe they are on track to play the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round - although admittedly the NHL's newly revitalized playoff format is a bit beyond my ability to comprehend. 

As a Rangers fan, there is no other NHL team for whom I have as much historical loathing as the Flyers.  I hope that if they are the Blueshirts' opponent in the First Round the Rangers crush them.  Being a Rangers fan though means that you know before the puck is dropped for Game 1 of Round One of the playoffs, the odds are stacked against the Rangers being the team that wins the Cup.  As my Great, Great Grandpa Phineas used to say, "Don't be an idiot.  Pay attention to history."  If you are a Rangers fan and you are younger than seventy-five, then you have seen only one Stanley Cup in your lifetime. 

And still we hope.  And still we cheer.  Tonight the regular season ends in Montreal.  Then the real season starts.  Four rounds of Best-of-7 series one right after the other.  And irrespective of what history, Grandpa Phineas and my head tell me, my heart tells me that this could be the year in which the Rangers wake up the echoes of past playoff triumphs of Messier, Richter, Leetch and my guy Adam Graves and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Cup by winning the 2014 model.

  

Maybe.  Just maybe.  Every year has to belong to somebody.  May this year belong to the Blueshirts.


-AK  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Stories Don't End

If our lives were a movie, if our lives were a book
It'd be longer than I'd recommend
'Cause if you're telling a story, at some point you stop
But stories don't end...
- Dawes

Lacey Holsworth died on Tuesday.  She was eight years young.  She died at home surrounded by the family that loves her.  She is survived by the parents and three brothers who shall mourn her and who shall never forget her.   

If you paid even a modicum of attention to the recently-concluded March Madness then it is more likely than not that you came across the story of Lacey Holsworth.  Perhaps you recognize her by her sobriquet - "Princess Lacey".  She was the #1 fan of and a central figure in the life of Michigan State's star senior forward Adriean Payne.  To him, she was "Princess Lacey".  To her, he was "Superman".  When the Spartans came east to Madison Square Garden two weekends ago to compete in the East Regional, where they would advance to the Final before losing to Kevin Ollie's Connecticut Huskies, Lacey and her parents made the trip.  

A parent's greatest fear is to outlive a child.  It defies the natural order of Life.  Perhaps it lessens the blow for a parent, such as Lacey's mom and dad, to know just how many lives - including those of strangers such as me - their little girl touched with her humanity, her courage and her ear-to-ear smile.  I certainly hope it does.   It is a break to which the Holsworths are certainly entitled.   

Her life has ended.  Her story has not... 

...May it never do so.

If our lives were a movie, if our lives were a book
It'd be longer than I could defend
'Cause if you're telling a story, at some point you stop
But stories don't end
Stories don't end...


-AK






Thursday, April 10, 2014

Nobody Worry About Me

Cinderella story. Outta nowhere.
A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion.
It looks like a mirac...
It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!
- Carl Spackler

This morning - at some time reasonably confused with "half past the ass crack of dawn" play shall begin in this year's edition of The Masters Golf Championship, which is contested annually at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.  I know less about golf than practically any person alive but even I know that this year you should not bet on Tiger Woods to win.  He is not playing.  You are welcome for that super-handy golf handicapping advice.  

If you have a minute or two to kill, then check out this quiz on-line, which poses a question that likely has been answered rhetorically by significantly fewer people than "How Does the Man Inside My Refrigerator Know When to Turn the Light Off?" (you are left to your own design regarding whether that is a good thing, a bad thing or an abjectly terrifying thing).  Here is the question:  Are You Augusta National Membership Material?  Here is the link to the quiz:  http://scorecard.golf.com/2014/04/07/are-you-augusta-national-membership-material/?eref=sihp.

Great thing about this quiz for me is that I knew how it was going to turn out for me even before I started it.  In that regard, it was very much akin to Calculus in high school.  The biggest difference being that I was excited to see the results of this quiz.  OK, the biggest difference actually was seeing the results of the quiz I did not want to hang myself as I did each time I received a Calc test back 

But I digress...

The results are in and to the surprise of no one - especially me - it turns out that I am not Augusta National Golf Club material.  Who knew?  Hell, who did not know.  No skin off of my 9-iron.  I would rather hang around with this crowd anyway


As the song says, "I'm Alright..."  

...Nobody worry about me.



-AK  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Taking Pride in Ownership

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living.
The world owes you nothing.  It was here first.
- Mark Twain

I wish I had my daughter's enthusiasm and her energy.  Hell, with just half of it pulsating through my veins who knows the things of which I would be capable.  I do not.  Thus, I am not.  Such is life. 

Suzanne has so much energy that she considers it not to be a waste of even a drop of it to answer directly the self-pitying, whiny bag cries of those she knows well.  Not everyone has it in their DNA to yell "FRAUD!" when in the presence of such a character.  Suzanne does. 

Just the other day, her Irish was way up courtesy of blubbering she came across in the form of Facebook posts of a man several years younger than she is and whom she has known for the entirety of his life.  A young man who could order the "Excuse of the Day" everyday at Life's Luncheonette and rarely, if ever, have to order the same thing twice.  A young man who consistently turns adversity into an alibi and not an opportunity.  One who has wanted for little, who has been given much (too much in the unsolicited view of a fellow to whom I bear an uncanny resemblance) and who has appreciated nothing.  

Candidly, I am of the opinion that Suzanne's rather bracing wake-up call will ultimately fall upon deaf ears.  Once one casts himself in the role of "victim", he finds it damn hard to resist the siren's song of typecasting.  For his sake, I hope I am wrong.  And for his sake, I hope at some point he raises his head from the trough of self-pity long enough to appreciate that the medicine Suzanne dispensed to him from the tough-love apothecary was (a) good advice; and (b) something that should have been said to him years ago and probably by one or both of the people who brought him into this world.  It was not.  Given my limited access to the WABAC Machine that is a bell that I certainly cannot unring.  Your prospects for success are not much better. 

Among the really smart advice Suzanne gave him was "Own it".  This is your life after all.  It is not a dress rehearsal for something yet to come.  It is a one-time only, single-elimination event.  Refusal to accept responsibility for your actions, for your decisions, for your own effing existence does not fool anyone else.  We know that it is you who is responsible for you.  Always has been.  Always will be.  Stop making excuses and start making a difference. 

It takes no greater effort to be accountable than it does to be a douche.  Unwedge your head from your ass, break up the self-pity party and get on with it.  No one owes you anything.  

Decide what to be...

...and go be it. 



Smart woman my daughter. 

I reckon she gets that from her mother....

-AK  

   

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Prayer for Global Domination?

Whether Spring has officially sprung here in the State of Concrete Gardens or is merely dipping its toe into the water I do not pretend to know.  I do know, though, that the weather this past weekend was simply terrific.  I cannot recall when I had last been able to go for nice, fairly long runs through the streets of my little town on both days of one weekend prior to this weekend.  There was substantially less chill in the air when I went out early in the afternoon on Saturday than there was when I went out at or about nine o' clock on Sunday morning.  It mattered little.  On both days, there was more than enough sunshine to keep me adequately warmed as I ran. 

I am a maddeningly inconsistent runner when it comes to the utilization of music as I run.  Often times I find music to be almost essential to a run - powering me through the tough spots and getting me home.  However, other times I find music to be too much of a distraction and I shall run sans iPod in order to let the sounds of the streets of my town serve as my accompaniment.  My use of music when I run is something that has neither rhyme nor reason. 

However, while my use of it as I run is consistently inconsistent, there are certain songs that have ended up in just about every playlist I have ever created for myself on my iPod.  Springsteen - to the surprise of no one - is well-represented (although certain of the songs might surprise you).  Several other artists, including the Foo Fighters, Tom Petty, RUSH and Bob Seger (a list meant to be illustrative, exhaustive), are also fairly well-represented. 

More surprisingly perhaps - it is to me at least - is the pocket of mid-80's British pop songs that have been fixtures from the moment I first loaded them (I never know whether the loading is "up" or "down") onto my little music-playing gadget.  I have two Simple Minds songs, "Don't You Forget About Me" and "Alive and Kicking", that are staples.  And they are invariably joined by "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by the British duo Tears for Fears. 

As someone who graduated from elementary school, high school and college  in the 1980's, all three songs are ones with which I was very familiar as a teenager.  None, however, is one that stands out in my mind's eye as having particularly resonated with me way back when they were in heavy rotation either on the radio or on MTV (you remember MTV - the network created in the 1980's for the purpose of playing music videos on television).  Yet for whatever reason each not only is presently on heavy rotation in my iPod, but serves as some sort of audio elixir for me.  I can feel my pace quickening and my stride becoming more purposeful as soon as I hear any of the three of them with the most pronounced positive effect coming to me courtesy of Tears for Fears.  

Is it possible that the real reason I run is that I have embarked on a plan of global domination, which plan is unfolding one mile at a time?  It seems unlikely if for no other reason than the combination of my lack of foot speed and relatively-mediocre level of endurance suggests that I am not the ideal candidate to be on the front line of a revolution.    

Unless it is a really, really slow-moving one....



-AK

Monday, April 7, 2014

And Then There Were Sixty....

Today is Monday, which is rarely a good thing.  However, today - in spite of its unfortunate placement on this week's calendar - is a good day.  In fact, it is a very good day.


Sixty days from today is the day on which Rob and Jess shall be married.  Sixty days.  You hope for certain things as a parent.  First and foremost among them is that your children shall find peace.  And because the world is a damn tough place, you root for them to find their perfect traveling companion.

Sixty days. 



-AK  


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sole Shine

Believe that you can run farther or faster.
Believe that you're young enough, old enough, strong enough,
and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. 
Don't let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.
- John Bingham

2014 shall be the first year since 2010 in which I have not run in a Marathon.  For those keeping score at home, from 1967 through 2010 I did not run in any either.  Full disclosure is important.  I had signed up to run in the '14 edition of the New Jersey Marathon, which shall take place Sundays from this very morning.  However, the deeper I got into prepration for it I realized that while I enjoy running I do not enjoy running in that race.  Rather than continuing to try to finesse a square peg into a round hole  - metaphorically speaking - I simply put the toy away altogether and opted against taking part in it.   It appears therefore that this year's long run for yours truly will be the 18-Mile Long Beach Island Run, which traditionally takes place in October. 

I will get back on the marathon beam in 2015.  I have three such events I would very much like to participate in before I die:  the Boston Marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon and the New York City Marathon.  While all three are on the "bucket list" if I can manage to pull off at least two of them, I will be a happy little fella.

Next Sunday I shall be very close to home and still be able to take part in a half-marathon.  Sunday, April 13 is the annual Half-Marathon at Rutgers University (http://www.cgiracing.com/unite/Home.aspx).  I really enjoy this race.   It is well-attended by both participants and spectators.  A considerable number of people turn out across the RU campus to support either their personal favorites or - in my case - their favorite runner they have not yet met.  We shall start on the Piscataway side of the banks of the Old Rar-i-tan right outside Rutgers Stadium, which I know has some half-cocked corporate name that I can never remember, and call it a morning 13.1 miles later on the New Brunswick side of the campus in the immediate vicinity of "The Barn", which is the College Avenue Gym where once upon a lifetime ago RU played its basketball games.  

Given that the final score of the final game that Eddie Jordan's team played this year was 92-31 and his guys had the "31", in another year or two they might move his group's home games back there from the RAC but that is a story for another day.  

I have resisted the temptation of checking out the long-range forecast for these parts.  No sense spending time thinking about those things over which you ultimately have no control.   Rain or shine, simply lace 'em up and get out there.        

But in the off-chance that Mother Nature is perusing this particular site today, shine would be most appreciated....

....and it is damn sure better than rain. 

 
-AK