Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Leaves in the River
Night Falls Over Kortedala
Sound of Silver
The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
The Flying Club Cup
Cease to Begin
Band of Horses
Random Spirit Lover
Distance: approx. 13 miles
Where: Rose Bowl/Arroyo Seco
It was cold when we started but not unbearably so. I expected worse, but it wasn't too bad and by the time I finished it was quite pleasant. We were able to squeeze our run in during a respite from the rain this weekend and it made for some gorgeous scenery. At Devil's Gate Dam fog hovered over the trees, and up the trails past JPL the arroyo gushed with water. There was also snow up on the mountains but we never made it that high.
The run went well but I ran was running out of gas near the end. When I turned around with Rachel just past the archery park on the southside I thought I could keep going. I felt great. As soon as we left FJ and Andy behind, though, I started to feel it. Still 13 miles at 2:14 (including a long break after mile 9 at Lot K for a quick change) ain't too shabby.
Unfortunately I haven't run since. I'm feeling a little bit under the weather but I think I'll be OK by Sunday. I'm keeping expectations low, but I'd love to beat my time from last year of 1:43. If I can beat my PR of 1:41 I'd be ecstatic.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I don't think they should bother including a picture if it's not both the bride and groom. It's not the way a marriage should start. It isn't just the bride getting married--they both are. Besides, if you're going to be in the New York Times you both should be seen. Ms. Patterson is quite fetching but as a reader, I want to see what Mr. Brown looks like. Let's face it, part of the fun is seeing if they make for a lovely couple. Shallow but true. There's nothing about Mr. Brown's occupation that precludes him from being photographed. If he was a spy I would understand.
So, add solitary photographs to my list of pet peeves with regards to wedding announcements.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Where: Arroyo Seco (to Highland Park and back) and one lap around the Rose Bowl
Quite a good run. I ran with FJ, Katie and Rachel and we made good time. I was a little sleep-deprived but it still felt good to get a long run in. I broke in a new pair of shoes, which should be ready to go for the half. I thought the course was 12 miles, but according to Gmap it's approximately 11.5 miles. Bummer. I was hoping I really did run a fast 12 miler.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
"All My Friends" by LCD Soundsystem
Album: Sound of Silver
I've already written about why I love LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" so much, so let's just say that my feelings for it have not changed. Maybe it speaks to my age but like all good songs "All My Friends" affects me profoundly. It is an anthem for all aging hipsters. Furthermore, dance and electronic music isn't where you would normally go to find genuine feeling, but "All My Friends" not only makes you want to dance, it also makes you feel something true.
"All My Friends" Covered
John Cale - "All My Friends"
Franz Ferdinand - "All My Friends"
Monday, January 14, 2008
Over the weekend, the new Pinkberry around the corner from my apartment opened for business. Saturday evening they even had spotlights in front announcing the news. There were no lines around the block but they seemed to be drawing steady business. I doubt I'll be a regular--not a big Pinkberry fan--but I might stop by once in a while if the craving strikes.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Distance: 9 miles
Where: Rose Bowl/Arroyo Seco
A very good run today. It was just me and FJ, and I think FJ was holding back a little, but it felt good. I still had a little something when I finished. FJ went another five miles. I would have gone a little farther but five more miles is more than I think I should be doing at this moment. I'm on track for my half marathon training. I'll try to do 11 or 12 miles next weekend. I'm not sure what distance I'll do the weekend before Surf City--10 or 12--but I'm just hoping that I get in shape for it.
As for my knee, it still doesn't feel 100%. It might have something to do with not running for a while, but they feel a little weak. I might do more lower body workouts at the gym to strengthen my legs. Things are looking good, though.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
"While You Were Sleeping" by Elvis Perkins
Album: Ash Wednesday
A song steeped in grief shouldn't be something you would play over and over again, but that's exactly what I did this year with Elvis Perkins's "While You Were Sleeping." A Song of the Week selection earlier in the year, "While You Were Sleeping" became a much-played song because of its cathartic power. It is a heartbreaking song, especially when you consider the losses Perkins suffered that very much informs the song. Perkins is the son of Anthony Perkins, who died from AIDS complications, and Berry Berenson, a photographer who died on one of the 9/11 planes.
Essentially a lullaby, "While You Were Sleeping's" impressionist lyrics don't explicitly address the deaths of Perkins's father and mother, but only someone who has endured such grief can possibly write a song so sad and heartwrenching yet also make it sound so sweet and redemptive:
While you were sleeping
You tossed, you turned
You rolled your eyes while the world burned
The heavens fell, the earth quaked
I thought you must be but you weren't awake
In the song, the idea of sleep is used as a comforting notion, the possibility that it was all a dream and that in sleep time somehow stops. As the song develops, though, and as the music rises, sleep begins to represent what is missed in life--the blink-and-you'll-miss nature of existence. I guess I listened to this song a lot this year because it is ultimately a reassuring song. I have not endured the kind of loss Perkins has experienced, but the song--and the rest of the album--isn't just for them. "While You Were Sleeping" suggests that we are resilient beings. The grief and sorrow won't completely go away, but somehow we find a way of muddling through. In Perkins's case, his art must have been a great source of comfort.
Mary Beth Pitta and Jonathan Adelson
Theirs is a meet-cute. Matched by a friend, Ms. Pitta had initially sent her resume to Mr. Adelson when searching for a job. A little misunderstanding ensued, but it all works out in the end when Mr. Adelson arrives at her apartment bearing black gloves bought from Rome.
Congrats to the happy couple!
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
"Turn On Me" by the Shins
Album: Wincing the Night Away
The Shins might have borrowed the opening of "Turn On Me" from "Then He Kissed Me," but the rest is classic Shins: perky tune backing up vague, muddled lyrics. The song doesn't lack for a hook. From the sweet, wistful chorus with its cute "Y-O-U" spellout to its driving guitarwork, "Turn On Me" has hooks to spare. But this isn't just any Shins song. It is one of their best--right up there with "New Slang" vying for perfection. The song's sunny sound belies the bitterness of the lyrics, which has become a signature of the Shins' work. Their songs--light, airy and effervescent--often bravely mask stories of heartbreak and regret. "Turn On Me" can serve as an anthem for the exasperated. Such a great song. Unfortunately the video is not so great.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Distance: 7 miles
Where: Rose Bowl
If you've visited this blog hoping to read something related to running you have been out of luck as of late. The fact of the matter is that there hasn't been much running to write about in the last couple of months. I was sidelined with a knee injury, which hit a couple of weeks after the San Jose Half Marathon. First it was the left knee, which took a long time to recover. A couple of weeks ago my right knee started hurting. It was, needless to say, very frustrating. It has only been in the last couple of weeks that I've gotten back into running, and I am out of shape.
I tried running six miles with Andy and FJ last weekend, and while I was able to keep up (thanks to both of them for not leaving me behind), it felt like I had run 14 miles. I had side stitches and my breathing was labored. My aerobic fitness had declined significantly. Earlier this week I ran three miles on the treadmill and it still wasn't easy. My legs were sore and cramping two miles into it and I could barely maintain my form as my side stitches got worse. Two days later on Friday, I ran another three miles on the treadmill again. That time, though, was a better experience. No sidestitches, no cramping, and I felt pretty good. Maybe my body is remembering what it's like to run again.
Not only am I trying to regain my running fitness, I also have to train for the Surf City Half Marathon on February 3. That's less than a month away. The goal is to train to run it respectably. If I PR, which I doubt, it will be a small miracle.
Today's run was supposed to be six miles, but early on in the run I decided to turn around at the JPL parking lot, which would be about 3.5 miles. I felt pretty good. The weather was perfect--cloudy, cold and no rain. My level of fitness is still not where it was in October, but I just need to be patient. I'll get there.
The great thing about the rains is that it makes for some great scenery. The colors of a rainy day--gray and brown--though somber actually makes me feel warm and cozy inside, and the sight of the arroyo flowing with water is a great sight to see. I also some beautiful birds, including one with a long neck that a hiker I was talking to thought was a pelican. I wish I knew more about birds.
So, it looks like I'm on my way to recovery. My knee still doesn't feel 100% but I think I may be babying for fear that I'll hurt it again. It's been so long that I don't remember what 100% feels like. Hope it all goes well.
Friday, January 04, 2008
"Armchairs" by Andrew Bird
Album: Armchair Apocrypha
"Armchairs" takes its time to build up to its gorgeous, heartrending crescendo, but it is worth the wait. It is an absolute stunner of a song with some of the most beautifully elliptical lyrics of the year ("I dreamed you were a cosmonaut/Of the space between our chairs"). What does "time is a crooked bow" even mean? Is it referring to a violin bow, which crooked, would play dissonant music? "Armchairs," though, is the opposite of dissonant. It is a swirling, haunting song that in Andrew Bird terms is seemingly stripped of layers, but it is nonetheless meticulously arranged and produced. From the hollow knock of the piano to the chiming of the guitars, Bird's craftsmanship is in evidence. However, less present are Bird's trademark quirks, but few artists like Bird can craft such an open-hearted yet obtuse sounding epic love song.
Much like "Apartment Story" the romance of this song can be found in its references to enduring love. Armchair, perhaps a symbol of old age, references to 55 and 3/8 years, suggest an age old love. Then there are the T.S. Eliot like lines "as ancient sea slugs begin to crawl/Through the ragweed and barbed wire" which give the song an air of impenetrability. Regardless, you can simply close your eyes and get lost in the ebb and flow of Bird's effortless voice and music.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
"Apartment Story" by the National
The National's best songs are characterized by a weary narrative that captures the complex maneuverings involved in relationships. "Apartment Story" is a spectacular example. I can't decide if it's romantic or sad or both. Matt Berninger sings like he's talking, alternately bored and plaintive, over a steady groove that implies a relationship caught in a rut. From what I can gather, the song is about a couple, too old to be playing games yet too young to feel like an old couple, unsure of where they stand together. When Berninger sings, "So worry not/ All things are well/ We'll be alright," it is with more than a touch of doubt. That's where I'm unsure of whether it is romantic or just sad. I see romance in their struggle to make it work ("We'll stay inside till somebody finds us") but it's heartbreaking to sense futility in their efforts, as if they're trying to make it work because they can see no other options. It's an achingly beautiful song that exemplifies the National at their best.