Sunday, February 22, 2015

"And the Oscar goes to... Nicolas Cage's hairpiece!"

Ah, Oscar night. The glitz! The glamour! The sitting around in elastic-waist pants and typing out snarky commentary in real time! Yes, this is our time to shine, ladies and germs.

Though I'll no doubt be thinking to myself mid-ceremony "I delayed watching The Walking Dead for *this*?" I look forward all year to tonight. It's weird because I couldn't give a flying fig for any other awards show and going in I usually on have seen a paltry number of the nominees. (Well, I do see the films in the technical categories, since those are typically big, dumb, and loud.) This year is no exception. So who will take home the statue? The true-ish story of the military's most deadly gunman (Boyhood), the tale of a tough but inspiring drumming instructor (Birdman: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire), a brutal examination of America's racist past (The Theory of Everything)? The one about the guy in a wheelchair (Selma)? A write-in for the criminally overlooked LEGO Movie?

The only Best Picture nominee that I've seen is The Grand Budapest Hotel, which I greatly enjoyed. Wes Anderson is back, baby! (I was lukewarm on Moonrise Kingdom.) What other movies did I see and love this year? I'm glad you asked. Get thee to a Redbox and snag They Came Together, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Solder, The LEGO Movie. X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Back to Oscar night... oh, the fashion! I don't care! But I know that the press needs to churn out content and the public craves something to lap up, so I'll clue you into who I'm wearing tonight: shorts by House of Adidas, t-shirt by Georgio de la Sports Backers, hoodie by United Colors of Fruit of the Loom, and socks by Pierre Starter. Swanky!

Per usual, I'll be live blogging the ceremony here in the comments section. I invite you to join in the snarkfest and comment along. Feel free to talk smack about what films and actors you hate, who you love, what a disaster the telecast is, who you are wearing, your prognostications, the most glaring snubs, etc. If I come across an exceptionally funny tweet I'll post it.

Give us a night to remember, phoney Hollywood One Percenters! Make it well worth me putting my binge watching of Bosch on hold. (That show is my current jam, BTW.)

Friday, January 30, 2015

New shoes? I can't wait.

I'm creeping up on it being one year since I started doing this stupid running thing and I guess it's going to stick. Figuring it was about time that I got my first pair of professionally-fitted shoes, I headed to Lucky Foot to get an analysis.

It turns out that my feet collapse inward as I run, setting off a chain reaction of stress in my knee and hip. That explains the pain! All this time I've been running in a pair of neutral shoes, but I actually need stability ones. So I tried on three pairs and settled on these New Balances. Even with a discount for belonging to Gold's Gym, these are the most expensive pair of sneakers I've ever owned. But I guess they do more than sneak.

It's funny: in every other area of footwear I much, much, MUCH prefer something understated and conservative. Yet for running shoes I like to peacock with shoes that are slightly gaudy. (Though I do have my limits.) Honestly, I find my new shoes to be pretty boring. Though here function should trump form, I guess. Still, zzzzzz...

After the snow melted I took my new shoes out for their inaugural run and... I don't know. I went on a four mile run and at mile three my hip was killing me. So much so that I had to walk for about 30 seconds before resuming my run. And my knee still hurts. I can't tell if it's more or less than with my old shoes.

Maybe my body just needs to acclimate to a different type of shoe after getting used to my old neutral pair. Jeff at Lucky Foot did say that they wouldn't be an instant panacea to my problems. I'd also have to build my leg muscles up, as well as stretch adequately before running. So I'll give them a few more runs before I make a final verdict.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

runemployed 08: suburban NYE

"The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done." - Rocky Balboa

Last night my mom asked me why I haven't done one of these lately. The simple answer is that while I've still been running, I've been uninspired to drive somewhere new to do it. I've had some great times during the Autumn of Micah, but recently those have been eclipsed by doubt, frustration, and worry. Financial realities are setting in and I'll most likely have to resume temping very soon, which I am extremely loathe to do. (I *really* don't want to settle into another years-long comfortable rut.) Things have been getting me down. Unsurprisingly, this has coincided with by far my least favorite holiday.

I can't stand New Year's Eve. Because of said rut - actually, way before that - I tend to reflect upon everything I didn't accomplish over the past year. And all of those personal and professional failures just make me feel that nothing's going to change in the new year. And to be perfectly honest, that's how it's worked out. I'm in stasis. Sure, there are people out there who are in much, much worse situations than me. I realize that I'm lucky to have food and a roof, as well as good friends and a close family. But there are also many folks out there who have things I feel are out of my reach: a fulfilling job that pays more than just basic living expenses, someone who loves them, kids, security for the future, a life beyond suburban isolation. When the ball drops and yet again there's no congratulatory kiss... well, it ain't a fun feeling.

This cold afternoon I took to the surrounding neighborhoods and ran. And ran. And ran. I ran farther than I ever have before without stopping or walking. (Granted, I did it slowly, but the point is I did it.) I was in full on Forrest Gump beast mode. This was all powered by a need to feel a sense of accomplishment. This was fueled by 365 days of frustration and negativity. This was driven by a strong desire to eat a lot of candy tonight.

Oddly, I walked part of my fastest 10k time. Weird.
I didn't stop to take any pictures like I normally have done for this series. I didn't want to break my stride. And really, it's the suburbs. What's to see?

Physically, I really needed this. I've gained back some of my weight loss since Halloween. Twelve pounds, to be exact. Who would've figured that pumpkin spice everything, bowls of trick or treat candy, supper clubs, a friend's nearly endless parade of pies, Thanksgiving dinner, and a string of Christmas get togethers would all take their toll? Crazy talk! As of this week I've reduced that figure to 10 lbs., but I still would like to knock that down some more before I resume maintaining. Longer distances will help.

Throughout today's run I mostly put one song from my running playlist on repeat: Eminem's "Rabbit Run" from the 8 Mile soundtrack. It's one of my favorites of his. Want to get pumped up by a song about perseverance in the face of adversity? Striving to overcome self doubt? Making your voice heard, literally and figuratively? Here you go.

Some days I just wanna up and call it quits
I feel like I'm surrounded by a wall of bricks
Every time I go to get up I just fall in pits
My life's like one great big ball of shit
If I could just put it all into all I spit
Instead I always try to swallow it
I'm like a skillet bubbling until it filters up
I'm about to kill it, I can feel it building up
Blow this building up
I've concealed enough
My cup runneth over
I've done filled it up
I'm fizzling now
Thought I figured it out
Ball's in my court, but I'm scared to dribble it out
I'm afraid, but why am I afraid?
Why am I a slave to this trade?
I'll be back, baby, I just got to beat this clock
Fuck this clock, I'ma make them eat this watch
Don't believe me? Watch.
I'ma win this race

It wasn't all focused intensity, though. I closed out my run with Jerry Reed's "East Bound and Down." That song is dope, too!

Of course, I came back from my run to find that there was no water due to a main break. There's a good chance I'll die dehydrated and smelly on the worst night of the year. But if I pull through, I know I have to channel my inner Rocky Balboa in the new year. I've got to push harder in 2015. Get out of my comfort zone. Think positively. Create my own opportunities. Meet new people. Give that hulking Russian the beatdown of a lifetime.

To me, that last one some seems like the easiest. I'll do that one first.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Very Micah Christmas 2014

Finally ready for public consumption is my Christmas mix for this year. It’s got grooves! It’s got reverence! It’s got Rachael Ray forever linked to a crushing sensation of holiday melancholy!

For your streaming convenience, I put my mix into Spotify, but they don't have licenses to all of the songs. What you see is what you get:

The full A Very Micah Christmas 2014 experience goes a little like this:

1. "Christmas in the City" - Nick D' & The Believers
2. "Angels We Have Heard on High" - Quiet Company
3. "I Know What You're Doing for Christmas" - Nerina Pallot
4. "Snow Falls Down" - Good Old War
5. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" - Citizens & Saints
6. "Every Day's a Holiday" - Piney Gir
7. "A Wonderful Christmas Time" - Jon Windle
8. "Countdown to Christmas" - Glam Chops
9. "Must Be Santa" - Bob Dylan
10. "Up on the Housetop" - The Gospel Whiskey Runners
11. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" - Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox
12. "I Don't Need No Santa Claus" - Fiction Family
13. "Jingle Bells" - Ben Rector
14. "Christmas Threw Up All Over You" - April Smith & The Great Picture Show
15. "Best Kind of Friend" - Christabel and The Jons
16. "Santa Have Mercy" - CALICO the Band
17. "Lumberjack Christmas/No One Can Save You From Christmases Past" - Sufjan Stevens
18. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - 8mm
19. "Joy to the World" - Andrew Ripp
20. "Christmas Party" - Dr. Dog
21. "Christmas at the Airport" - Nick Lowe
22. "The Smile of Rachael Ray" - David Mead
23. "Daniela Andrade - "Santa Baby"
24. "Away in a Manger" - The Innocence Mission
25. "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)" - matt pond PA
26. "Silent Night" - Branches
27. "Last Day of the Year" - Loudon Wainwright III
28. Surprise!

I have not yet uploaded the entire mix yet. If you want it, give me a gentle prod!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

OMG! An ill reindeer!

No one said running was one of the reindeer games. Pass. Christmas and a running buddy makes the act a bit more bearable. It's still dumb, though. (And please excuse my crazy eyes in the first picture. They're filled with wonder!)

Friday, October 31, 2014

runemployed 07: University of Richmond

In which I try to turn a negative situation into a positive one and explore Richmond in the process.

It's been over a month since I've done one of these posts and, honestly, I've really missed getting out there. (Who am I?) See, I had a terrible case of poison ivy - stemming from a bizarre gardening accident - and I didn't want to aggravate my condition while I was recovering. And when I was ready to come back, rain put the kibosh on some of my planned trips. But in that time I became a member of the Richmond Road Runners (No, really, who am I?) and registered for a couple of races in November, bringing the total for that month up to three. (Stop it. You're scaring me.)

I'm back at it now, though, and what better place to resume this series than my alma mater, the University of Richmond?

Groundskeeper Willie's working overtime.
Though I didn't start matriculating there until 1994, UR was established way back in 1830. (Thank you, Baptists!) I guess some stuff happened before my time, like eventually losing its affiliation with the church and focusing on molding the minds of young men and women decked out in Izod. FUN FACT: while a certain school whose colors are yellow and black has the arrogance to claim to represent the entire city, ours actually has the word Richmond in its name. Plus you have a significantly less chance of getting mugged on our campus.
Insert a "The Waltons" reference here.
Without a doubt, the best years of my life were spent on these grounds. I made several close, lasting friendships and we generated four years' worth of good memories. Oh, and I learned a few things, too. But one thing I wasn't back in the mid '90s was fit. The "freshman 50" hit me hard. Yes, I really committed to that common curse. You should see our dining facility. The Wall of Cereal alone...
Come for the Leadership Studies major. Stay for the beautiful foliage.
I think I can say with authority that one of the things I never did during my time at Richmond was move at pace faster than "hurried mosey." (Okay, maybe if I was late to class I would break into "rushed amble.") Exercise was not a priority. Considering that I ate a grilled cheese sandwich with every meal, you'd think I'd be mindful of that. Nope. So jogging around campus yesterday provided a point of view that was brand new to me.
And that point of view mostly consisted of "Boy, this place sure is hilly." Honestly, I never realized that until doing this run. Sure, Boatwright Drive as you enter campus is steep and twisty, but the other roads on campus never registered that way to me. Earlier this week I signed up to do a 10k here on Thanksgiving morning. What have I gotten myself into?

When viewed like this, the fact that you can't run the lake's circumference bugs me.
Back in my day, the two schools that make up the university - Richmond College for the men, Westhampton College for the women - were separated by Westhampton Lake. Yes, it was like summer camp with textbooks and Milwaukee's Best. Unsure if my old restraining order was still in effect, I kept my run pretty much on the RC side.
Squint through the leaves and you can see my freshman dorm room on the 3rd floor. Good times.
The loop around the lake is a very pretty run. Bonus points if you enjoy looking at water fowl. Sadly, there were no lake dogs there yesterday. I ran past lots of bricks, fallen leaves, and co-eds that (sadly) look like children to me now. Aside from the lake, everywhere I went seemed like I was going uphill, which I probably was. Next time I'll venture over to the Westhampton side and get a feel for its terrain.
There's a pirate joke in there somewhere.
My initial thought for this post's selection from my running playlist was to use a song that was a big part of my college experience. Oh, how I tormented my friends and dormmates with my incessant playing of G. Love & Special Sauce's "Cold Beverage" and Blood, Sweat & Tears' "Spinning Wheel." But this being Halloween time and all, I figured that I should bust out a spooky tune, so I'm going with the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer." There's no personal significance, just a driving beat that'll keep you going. Pretend you're getting chased by Patrick Bateman!

Psycho killer
Qu'est-ce que c'est
Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa better
Run run run run run run run away
My only legacy.
They say you can't go home again, but I proved them all wrong. In fact, it was really easy. SUCKERS! It was great seeing UR from a new vantage point and recalling some fond memories while doing so. Richmond is beautiful all year round, but especially in the fall. If you don't mind a bit of a climb, I suggest you get out there and enjoy its rolling hills while they're at Peak Prettiness. I'll be back there early on Thanksgiving morning, banking enough calories for me to eat an entire pumpkin pie later on that day.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Every Simpson dance now!

When I was invited to my friends Tony and Lauren's Halloween party - in which men were to dress like women and vice versa - my mind reeled at the costume possibilities. My first thought was to go as Marilyn Monroe so I could show off my slammin' new bod. (Sarcastic "Ha!") But then I thought that one was kind of played out. Inspiration struck and I got a great idea. One that would embody one of my greatest passions and reflect what makes me me. So this past Saturday I achieved Peak Simpson Mania and dressed up as Marge Simpson.
I really should've brought a couple of gallons of homemade Pepsi to bring to the party.
I put a lot of time, effort, and money into this costume. Probably way more than I should have, but it paid off. I was a real head-turner. (In a good way, I hope.)
No need to purchase any Blue Dye #56.
It all started with the wig, which also was the most expensive part. At first I was going to go with this one since it was fairly cheap, but I was afraid that the "shiny mylar accents" would look weird, especially up close. So I ponied up a little more and bought this wig. Luckily, I had a lot of Amazon gift cards at my disposal (thank you, Bing Rewards!), so it only set me back a few dollars. It came with these bushy sideburns that obscured my face, but they were easily lopped off. To get it to stand up straight I stuffed newspaper up inside it. Voila! Instant Marge hair.
It really accentuated my curves.
The next problem to solve was what to do about the dress. Goodwill was a bust, as were other retail outlets. It's every boy's dream to have his mom make a dress for him and thankfully my wonderful, caring, and talented mother was game. She put a ton of work into making this for me (in between fits of panicked laughter) and it turned out great. The elastic band around the waist really gave me the illusion of having hips. She left room up top to accommodate stuffing. I'm not proud of it, but I wore a strapless boulder holder, which I filled with stuffing material. (I wore my Fitbit in there, too.) All night I was struggling to keep "the girls" up. I now respect your plight, women.
Sensible just like Marge.
Shoes were also a concern. I found a pair at Payless that would've worked, but there was no way I was going to lay down $20 for some flats I'll never wear again. K-Mart came through and had these on clearance for $5. Luckily, with that chain being the ghost town that it is, not many people saw me trying on womens' footwear. Marge's shoes don't have perforations, but that's a compromise I was willing to make for the price. Also these were originally black and white, though that's nothing a few coats of spray paint didn't fix. I kept them on throughout most of the party until the discomfort became unbearable. Again, much respect, ladies.
Heh heh. Pearl necklace.
The last piece of attire I needed was Marge's string of red pearls. Like with the rest of this costume's components, I was fairly clueless about them. My friend Suzanne introduced me to the world of beads and I picked up these perfect red wooden ones and a length of elastic string from Bangles and Beads in Carytown. Unfortunately, I bought too many beads and learned of the store's terrible "no refunds" policy firsthand. You've been warned.
Mommy's little girl.
The right accessory will knock an outfit out the park and it's no different for Halloween costumes. I think this Maggie Simpson doll that I bought on ebay put it over the top.
Winner winner, pork chop dinner!
The costume all came together nicely. So nicely in fact that I won the contest at the party. Initially I tied with a Samantha from Sex & The City. (Who somehow morphed into Joan Rivers during the course of the night.) I emerged victorious from the tiebreaker by one vote. Hey, a win is a win. A big thanks to everyone who voted for me. I dedicate the fancy bottle of Spanish wine that I won to you.

I've long held the notion that one of the things that makes Halloween great is that, in Jim Gaffigan's words, "women use it as an excuse to dress like prostitutes." Now it was my turn to be the belle of the ball. It was the prettiest night of my life, even if it didn't end with my elbows getting nibbled.*

*I'm confident that one of these days my dream of being dressed as a woman and making out with a woman dressed as a man will finally come true.