Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy birthday to my dad!

I can't believe he's already 69 years old. They grow up so fast.

Mom and Dad have never been big on hoopla and fuss. And I've never been big on planning ahead. So this post is pretty much the sum total of my dad's birthday present from me. Plus a phone call in the morning. And again at night. And I'll probably buy him dinner the next time I see him.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Grant Wood and his main gays

You, too, can have your picture taken with Grant Wood in the visitor center right underneath his old studio at 5 Turner Alley!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I am not a prop comic

The American Gothic house is still standing. And its visitor center even has free props and costumes if you want to take pictures!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This could be the start of something big

Now that I'm more-or-less recovered from the marathon, my trainer has moved me into phase two of our workouts: massive weights and no mercy. Because my ultimate vain-n-vapid goal is to get as huge as possible. But I've at least been rational enough about it to hold off until now so I didn't have to lug extra bodyweight through 26.2 miles.

So today he started me on a hardcore leg workout. Which kind of scares me because he described today's workout as "light" and "introductory" even though it left me with legs of pudding. (I just love the word pudding. It's funny to say and funnier to see in type. Like hooker, but with more calcium. So it's also good for you.) In any case, my trainer promised that as my legs get bigger and stronger, so will the rest of me. So bring it on, I say. Pudding! (See? Funny!)

After five sets of "warm-up" squats this morning, he had me do walking lunges, the one leg workout that looks so silly I've always tried to avoid it. Walking lunges involve holding dumbbells in your hands as you step, squat, stand, step, squat, stand your way across the room, getting shakier and more unsteady as you go. Add some Trumpet Voluntary and some baby's breath in your hair and your suddenly the world's least-efficient bridesmaid.

But trade the girl and the bad dress for a muscleboy and a Speedo and I think I just made another decision about what I want in our wedding. Slow-moving muscleboys in Speedos are the perfect nuptial complement to show tunes and exceptionally delicious cake. And, of course, pudding.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Could you just DYE?

This weekend, the domestic partner and I are taking our friends Matthew and Craig to my hometown to give them a tour of some of the haunts of Grant Wood, who is most famous for teaching art at the high school that was later attended by a certain Chicago blogger with a readership in the tens if not the fifteens but who is also also (much less) famous for painting American Gothic.

While we're there, we'll also be attending my sister's annual Halloween gala, which is normally attended entirely by heterosexual parents of pre-teens. The four of us wanted to make a splash as the token homosexuals, but we're far too lazy to dress up as The Golden Girls or the Sex and the City girls or anything for that matter that involves the word girls and/or frighteningly large high-heeled shoes. I thought it would be fun to go as a boy band (mostly because I wanted an excuse to get another tattoo) but nobody was down with that idea, yo. Then I suggested The Costume Idea That Everyone Loved But Me: the Australian singing sensation known as The Wiggles. Or, for those of you who aren't pre-teens or parents of pre-teens, these dorks:
On the plus side, everyone at the party, being parents of pre-teens, will know EXACTLY who we are, especially once I print four copies of the Wiggles logo to put on our shirts. On the even pluser side, the costumes look pretty easy; they're just black pants and mock turtlenecks in basic, easy-to-find colors, right?

WRONG. Mock turtlenecks—at least the ones that fit adult men–come in two colors in the United States: generic earth tone and white. But! The white ones we found are 100% cotton, so we can dye them, right?

WRONG. Apparently Chicago has fallen victim to the powerful anti-dye lobby, because I have been to the following stores this weekend and none of them carries any damn dye: CVS, Jewel, Dominick's, Whole Foods, Target, Home Depot, Hancock Fabrics, Walgreens, Walgreens, Walgreens (there are lots of Walgreens in Chicago ... just no Walgreens with any damn dye).

But! My sister reports that she found some dye in Cedar Rapids, so we'll be dying our shirts once we get there this weekend, just in time for the party.

Also but! We didn't feel like sewing all that colored piping onto our black dress pants, so while I was at Home Depot I got a package of colored electricians' tape. Unfortunately, it doesn't come in teal (or the purple option we found in some other Wiggles photos), so one of us will have to be a green Wiggle.

Speaking of green, every year on our emploanniversaries, my company gives us each a $100 bill for every year we've worked there. So I just got an envelope with two crisp $100 bills in it. I put the bills in my wallet and got to work fantasizing about all the fun, frivolous things (Shoes! Halloween decorations!) I was going to buy this weekend with my bounty. Besides some damn dye, I mean.

So imagine my crestfallenness, then, when I reached in my wallet at DSW on Saturday to find ... only one $100 bill. I have no idea where the other one went. Maybe I gave it to a cabbie thinking it was just a $20. Maybe I was robbed by a thief in the night who just took one bill out of my wallet and left everything else of value in the entire house. Maybe I spent it on something I have no recollection of. In any case, it's gone. But it's not like it was really mine, so while I'm disappointed it disappeared, I'm not destroyed by it.

In other words, it's not like losing it is gonna make me dye. At least not until we get to Cedar Rapids.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pictures! Captions! But mostly pictures!

6:30 am. I drove the domestic partner and my friends Matthew, Peter and Taz to the marathon. It was supposed to be hot on Sunday, so I'd gotten my hair cut short the day before.
We got there early enough that we could spend some pre-marathon moments hanging around in the Charity Village tent city—with its no-line porta-potties—among all the other folks who've raised millions of dollars for non-profits around the world.

We left the Charity Village early so we could get a good place in the starting corral.

But we had to pee again, so we lost 20 minutes standing in line at the wall o' porta-potties in Grant Park.

To pass the time, we mugged for the camera.

And took individual portraits. Classy individual portraits.

So the first 20 miles of the marathon went quite well for me. The weather was on the warm side of comfortable, but I sailed along at a pace that put me tantalizingly close to meeting my 4:00 goal. Though I needed to dump a lot of water on my head to keep myself cool.

I just dropped $106 ordering photos from the company that took pictures of us along the race route. So I don't feel so bad stealing photo samples from their site until my pix show up in the mail.

Around mile 20, the temperature spiked, and I started struggling in the heat. Fortunately, the marathon photo people captured my pain so I can relive it here in front of you.

My friend Taz was struggling in the heat too. And though we'd drifted apart 15 miles earlier in the sea of 45,000 runners, we somehow found each other again and struggled through our last six miles together. Our one rule: Always look good when we knew there were cameras on us.

I was caught in a tight crowd at the finish line, but amid all the runners, I was able to find a tiny picture of me checking my fancy new running watch that confirmed my official time: 4:50:09.

When I posed for the obligatory finisher picture, I was glad they cropped out my feet, which were emitting cartoon stars and spirals to indicate how much pain they were in.

Back at the Charity Village, Matthew and Taz and I smiled over our accomplishment. Though I had to take my medal off because the ribbon was trapping heat in my neck. And I really didn't need any more heat in my neck.

But I did put it on long enough for one final victory photo. And we're already making plans to train again for 2009—but this time we're gonna be our own team. And we're going to have non-yellow shirts. Because marathons are too important to be wasted in unflattering colors.

Monday, October 13, 2008

First peek at marathon pictures!

The marathon photo people are slowly uploading all ten billion pictures they took on race day and categorizing them by our bib numbers so we can find our pictures ... and then drop a couple hundred dollars on commemorative prints. Here are thumbnails of two of the pix they've found of me so far, both clearly taken before the temperature spiked, which was at my mile 20:

I was pretty much on par to hit my 4:00 goal -- or at least beat my 4:20 personal best -- for the first 20 miles on Sunday. But once the temperature inched past my comfort zone, I got all goosebumpy and dehydrated and slowed to an absolute crawl for the last six excruciating miles. But 4:50 isn't anything to be (too) embarrassed about, and it has a nice symmetry with the domestic partner's 5:40 time, both of which I emblazoned on a store-bought cake (with exclamation points! to show how proud I am of us!) for our marathon victory party tonight:

I normally have the penmanship of a drunken third-grader. And from the looks of this cake, I clearly have the squirtfrostingmanship of a legally sober zygote. But I have to say my 5s look pretty professional here. So I might still have a career in cake decorating. Right after I master the art of taking pictures of the people who came to our party instead of just the store-bought pastries.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

4:50:09 ... Sigh ...

Well, the heat came back for the marathon again this year. But I finished the damn thing ... only 50 minutes behind my goal. My time was 30 minutes worse than my personal best but still 3 minutes better than my personal worst. So there's that.

And! The domestic partner, who had abandoned his marathon training sometime in June or July, decided to run today and just quit whenever he hit his wall. And dress me up like Sarah Palin and beat me across the head with a two-by-four, because he actually finished! He's understandably hurting worse than I am ... and even though he totally stole my thunder, I'm very proud of him. And as soon as we wake up from our nap and find that we can move our arms again, I just might give him a hug.

But now: nap time. Shhhhhh.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


The miles are run. The shoes are broken in (I hope). The toenails are trimmed. The hair is cut (nobody wants to look shaggy in a marathon photo). The numbered bibs and timing chips are picked up. There are even fabulous new padded socks with built-in arch support all washed and ready to be worn.

And you, dear people, have once again coughed up an impressive pile of donations on my behalf for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Here is a list of all you cool folks who have sponsored me (so far) this summer:

Donald S.
David W.
Betty S.
Joan D.
Brian B.
Jane H.
David S.
Linda I.
Jessica I.
Jennifer D.
Nicole H.
David P.
Amy M.
David L.
Jeffrey K.
Bill L.
Ron G.
Karla G.
Jay H.
Jennifer K.
David B.
Todd P.
Nick G.
Janeanne P.
Ingrid T.
Richard N.
Virginia H.
Amy K.
Dominic G.

If I know you personally (and have your contact information), I'll be sending you thank-you notes after the marathon. If I don't know you, the donation web site doesn't give me any contact information, so the best I can offer you is my sincere thanks right here. You're all generous to a fault, and I'll think about you throughout my four (and hopefully not much more) hours in the marathon tomorrow.

The weather is supposed to be on the warmer side of comfortable, so I'm already feeling a little pre-defeated about the race. Send cool thoughts my way from 8:00 to noon (and maybe a little longer just to be safe) Central Time. I'll post pictures and stories as soon as I recover!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I like chasing cars

The domestic partner is about to divorce me for watching this SNL clip so often. But after about 40 viewings, it still makes me laugh until I can't talk.

The Ross Perot Effect

Remember when Perot addressed the NAACP as "you people" in 1992? While he probably didn't intend to sound like a bigot, his words carried the racist stink of dismissiveness and condescension. And they further sunk his doomed bid for the presidency.

And now we have John McCain. Poor, uncomfortable, meandering John McCain, whose entire debate last night was undermined by his pathological need to jab and insult and censure. His repeated "overhead projector" attempts sounded implausible and desperate. His "hair plugs" attempt was inelegant and tacky. And then he slid right to the dismissive, condescending bottom. And the Internet will never let him forget it:

You can steal more of these images from On The Fritz.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Ballad of the Sad, Pathetic Blogger

He wanted to write about his fabulous weekend

An eight-mile run, the last before the marathon
Yuppie brunch in Old Town, Cuban dinner in Wicker Park
In between, an afternoon spent reading fiction
Among the homos in the Boystown Caribou

A Sunday morning walking tour
Of the statues in Lincoln Park
Can you think of a gayer way to start the day?
Another brunch at a Chicago landmark
A killer workout: chest and shoulders
Dinner at a Jewish deli and, to complete the motif,
A late showing of Caroline, or Change

He wanted to write about all of it in detail
But instead he caught a damn cold
And now all he can cough up
Is a lame attempt at a poem

Friday, October 03, 2008

Holy shit!

So I've been searching high and low for a fresh new pair of my trusty running shoes (Brooks Adrenaline GTS 8s) in my not-so-usual size (11.5 EE) and I haven't been able to find them anywhere. And the marathon is in a week.

They finally appeared on last night when I checked just before leaving work for a company event. So I ordered a pair. At 5:30 pm.

And I'll be damned if they weren't sitting on our receptionist's desk by the time I got out of my morning staff meting today. How amazing is that?

So now I can wear them tomorrow for my last 8-mile run and they'll be all broken in for the marathon on the 12th. And fresh running shoes = fewer injuries on 26.2 miles of pavement. Woo-hoo!

Chcek out my fancy new MAN BAG!

I wore it to work this morning (along with my only Cubs shirt, which totally completes my manly man-bag appearance) and I already have two complaints: 1) The shoulder strap isn't adjustable so the bag hangs way down by my butt and 2) The flap on the front is held shut with weak, unmanly magnets. So as the bag bounces on my butt, the flap opens and loudly smacks shut with each butt bump. Stupid man bag.

If you look closely at this picture, you can also check out the color options for our relentlessly white bathrooms. The color chips are really not well-rendered through a mirror and a camera phone, but the current plan is to paint this bathroom the two shades of minty-celery green you see near the top of the door frame, and the guest bathroom will get the muddy gray/khaki combination you see just above my ear.

These plans change on a monthly basis. Unlike Sarah Palin's debate strategy, which will always be about Energy! Because she's a nookular maverick!

Moderator: We have decades of voting records showing that John McCain's deregulation strategies are directly responsible our current financial crisis.
Sarah Palin: Energy!

Moderator: You keep repeating your mindless assertion that John McCain is maverick like you're some goddamned drunken parrot, but he's voted with George W. Bush's disastrous policies 90% of the time.
Sarah Palin: Energy!

Moderator: "Nuclear" has only two syllables.
Sarah Palin: Energy!

Moderator: Sarah, Palin, you're too stupid to be vice president.
Sarah Palin: Energy!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Apparently I grind my teeth in my sleep

And probably absent-mindedly in my wake as well. Because the enamel is wearing off my teeth at the points where they grind. And the poor things are being rocked back in forth in their sockets, as evidenced by my microscopically receding gumlines.

All this I learned from my dentist last month. He recommended I get a custom-fitted mouth thing to wear to bed to prevent further grinding damage. But I know I would never wear it, so I declined.

And now I’m all paranoid that I’m just one fitful nap away from becoming a stump-toothed old man who feels compelled to stalk the CTA ranting about … oh, I don’t know … the End of Times or FBI mind-control hats or how women really should avoid bangs.

And now as my tongue floats around in my mouth attending to its appointed tongue responsibilities, it keeps finding horrifying new evidence of my teeth’s imminent demise. For instance! The backs of the bottoms of my two top front teeth feel sandpapery, as though the enamel has been worn down to a mere memory of its former shiny self! And my molars feel wobbly! Especially when I obsess about them! And once in a while when I drink cold water, it feels … cold!

Oh, the humani … um … teeth!