The Worst Idea of All Time

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This is the most roundabout way to recommend a podcast, but here we go:

If you’re in Chicago you’ll remember that at the end of 2013 all 80-something of the Dominick’s grocery stores closed. It was pretty sudden and it was quite a blow to us here at FuzzyCo HQ. There was a Dominick’s literally a block away and over our years in the neighborhood we had gotten very used to the notion of grocery shopping in what my mom would call the European way—that is, deciding what we wanted for dinner as we got home from work and then walking over and getting (reasonably) fresh foods to make that.

With the closure of the Dominick’s, we had to start going to grocery stores literally one-half or one mile away. Exactly, like savages. We were excited when the alderman’s newsletter[1] contained the news that Whole Foods had purchased the store and then went a banner went up saying “Whole Foods—opening Spring 2015”. We were going to have to wait a year, but we’d not only have a grocery store right across the street again, but it’d be a healthy grocery store as well.

So if this long story has a short part, it’s that the year went by and last April the Whole Foods opened. It was as great as we had hoped, with a few exceptions like tortillas[2], and we’ve been happy little shoppers.

Whole Foods is, of course, by their own designation “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” and the whole place is a little hippy-dippy. I don’t know if it’s a corporate policy or just the kind of people they hire, but all the employees are very chatty. Everyone is always happy to give advice about food preparation in their various departments and the cashiers are always saying things like “have any fun weekend plans?” as they’re ringing you up.

So it wasn’t out of nowhere when, back in February, I was pulling out my headphones as I walked up to the meat counter and one of the butchers asked “what are you listening to?”. “Some podcast or another,” I said.

“You like podcasts? There’s this crazy podcast you should listen to where these two Australian guys are watching Adam Sandler movies over and over and talking about them each week and like how they’re all like tax dodges and stuff. I mean, I’ve never actually heard it, but it sounds crazy.”

And on that sterling recommendation, I went home and did some Googling and found “The Worst Idea of All Time” podcast. It’s a podcast where Tim Batt and Guy Montgomery, two New Zealand comedians, watched (for their first season) the Adam Sandler movie “Grown Ups 2” once a week for a year, and recorded a podcast about it after each viewing.

The two guys are really funny and they set themselves a ridiculous task which they quickly realize is completely untenable, but they keep going. And by pushing through, they emerge into comedy that I don’t think they’d ever have found if they had tried to head straight for it.

I got a little obsessive and over the last four months I’ve listened to every episode of the podcast[4] and I’m completely up to date. I got my brother hooked too, to the point where he soon lapped me and was dangling spoilers ahead of me. It’s been one of our main topics of iMessage conversation over the past few months. TWIOAT: “Bringing Families Together”.

Let’s go listicle!

  • There are three seasons: Grown Ups 2, Sex and the City 2, and currently We Are Your Friends, which the boys say will be their last season of this format.
  • You should listen from the beginning. The gents go on a journey and you should go with them. The audio quality is a little rough at the beginning, but it’s worth it.
  • You don’t have to watch the movies. I watched Grown Ups 2 and then Grown Ups when I finished the first season, but I’ve never watched SatC2 or We Are Your Friends.
  • Like anything else, it’s not for everyone. But if you’ve enjoyed some of the dumb projects I’ve done, you’ll probably like this.
  • I’m all caught up on the podcast and it’s a weird feeling to have to wait for another episode!

[1] Yes, I’m the sort of person who subscribes to our alderman’s newsletter.

[2] OK, pretty much everywhere in Chicago you can get big bags of your choice of a couple brands of tortillas, all freshly made in the Chicagoland area, for pennies. Except Whole Foods, where they only have the house brand, made in New Mexico and shipped in, and it’s like $20 for a pack of 5.[3]

[3] I exaggerate for comedic effect. A little.

[4] Yes, even the 5 hour episode. OK, I didn’t listen to all of the failed episode that only had Tim’s audio. That was too much to ask.

Soldier Field 10 2016

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Fuzzy running the Soldier Field 10

I had been planning on running the Soldier Field 10 again this year anyway (because of a nice shirt, naturally) and then when I signed up for this marathon I signed up for, it happened to fit in perfectly as the long run of my new training schedule. Win, win. (I did not technically win the SF10.)

Time: 1:48:04
Place: 5175 / 9163
Place in Sex: 2696 / 3881
Place in Division (M45-49): 390 / 559

Cinco de Miler

Fuzzy running the Cinco de Miler

I’ve never done the Cinco de Miler before, but this year the shirt was a cool design and the finishers medal was a piñata that was also a bottle opener. I’ll never use it as a bottle opener, but that’s the kind of thing that gets my lizard brain to sign up for a race.

Erica needed the car, so I decided to ride my bike down to the race. It was drizzling on my way down and I amended one of my standard training rules. The old rule is that any run in the rain, no matter how short or how light the rain, is automatically a hardqore run. Biking the rain, I decided yesterday, is double that. Double-Hardqore!

I was, in fact, pretty chilly by the time I got down to the race start at Soldier Field, and my shoes were pretty soaked. But the wind abated a bit as the race started and it was a nice run—not personal best, but only a few minutes off. But as I was getting my post-race tamale and Modelo, the wind was picking up again, pretty strong from the north and I wondered how my ride home was going to be. “Hard” turned out to be the answer. At one point on the stretch along the lake just north of Ohio street, I was in my lowest gear going 6 miles an hour, like I was climbing a hill. The Windy City, indeed.

Cinco de Miler piñata medal.

Time: 47:53
Overall place: 902 / 3189
Place in Sex: 557 / 1143
Place in Division (M45-49): 58 / 119

The Holodeck

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Fuzzy, I’ve heard so many of you ask over the years, I wish you and Erica would go on a podcast fairly unprepared and rant about the Holodeck on Star Trek. Your prayers, my friends, have been answered. Erica and I recorded an episode of Space Lincoln back in December that has finally dropped.

The Jamie Campbell bit I mention can be heard in the track “Time Travel” on his album Stocking Stuffer. (iTunes Amazon)

Space Lincoln Episode 28: The Holodeck:

Glasses

I wore glasses from nine or ten (I asked my mom last night and she couldn’t remember either) until I was 37 and then robots shot lasers into my eyes and suddenly I could see. At my very last checkup for my LASIK, my doctor said something like “at this point, you can act as though your eyes have always been like this and you won’t need to get eye checkups until you’re 40 and need reading glasses like everyone”.

I was a little offended. Like everyone? I’m not everyone—I just had robots shoot lasers into my eyes! Doesn’t that take care of that?

It does not. But it wasn’t at 40, it was this year. And it wasn’t just close reading, which seemed to be worst in the morning as I woke up, and worst in my left eye, but also distance, which seemed to be worst in my right eye. I gave in and went and got an eye exam and got told that while the LASIK had fixed my myopia and they had taken a stab at my astigmatism, the latter could sort of come back. (Don’t quote me on my half-remembered explanation from my eye doctor.) And the reading problems were classic “getting old”.

So, I got myself some glasses. I don’t need them all the time—I forgot them the other day and worked just fine all day, and I never wear them running. But it’s interesting dipping back into the world of “sticking a device on your face” when that was such a part of my life for so many years, and then suddenly wasn’t for the last nine.

Ten years ago, I had been wearing glasses for 25 years and so I think I had settled on a style of glasses called “please ignore that I am wearing glasses”. This time around, it’s fresh enough that I decided to go for “why yes, I am wearing glasses!” glasses.

Fuzzy

Fuzzy wears glasses again.

Ravenswood Run 5K 2016 / Reverse Run

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The Ravenswood Run is one of my favorite neighborhood runs—especially since I’ve spent enough time in Ravenswood/Lincoln Square that it feels like it is my neighborhood. I’ve run it enough times that doesn’t really feel like there any surprises waiting for me on the course, but it’s a comfortable start to the racing season.

This year it was good that there were no surprises because I was running with Shaun who was taking Stella out in a running stroller for her first organized race. I wasn’t even driving the thing and I felt like I had to keep an eye on it the whole time. Maybe that’s on me, but the race this year was mostly about Shaun trying to maneuver the stroller through the crowd at a reasonable pace without danger to Stella or anyone else. I don’t want to complain too much about a “neighborhood race”, which I guess should be closer to a fun run than a serious competition, but the race organizers didn’t enforce strict corrals (it was only 2500 runners) they provided some self-organization signage (“10:00/mile pace”, etc.) which everyone happily ignored. Or they’re unreasonably optimistic about their race speeds? If you don’t know, people, maybe stick to the back? Keep moving and get out of the way, as the saying goes.

As a side note, my race started today next to the house where Carl Sandburg wrote the poem “Chicago”, which was cool—I’m not sure I’ve ever noticed that before on that street.

Carl Sandburg at 4646 N Hermitage

Fuzzy and Stella (and Shaun) Finish the Ravenswood Run 5K
Fuzzy and Stella (and Shaun) Finish the Ravenswood Run 5K

Official Ravenswood Run results:
Time: 32:15
Overall Place: 1683 / 2984
Place in Sex: 959 / 1338
Place in Division (M45-49): 114 / 158

I’m training, more or less, for the Soldier Field 10 next month and so needed to do 7 miles today, so as I finished the Ravenswood Run, I said farewell to Shaun and Stella and the Stroller and kept running east down Wilson. I hit the lakefront path and did a little two mile loop to end up back at Cricket Hill. That was the starting place for the Reverse Run.

I saw a poster for the Reverse Run just a few days ago and looked it up. A one mile backwards run to benefit a colon cancer foundation. It was cheap (just $10 with a tech shirt) and turned out to be pretty small—by bib numbers I’d estimate about 300 people ran. It was sponsored by Humana and they were documenting the heck out of the day—a full production crew with a bunch of fancy cameras were running around filming everything. I’ll bet it ends up in a promo video looking like a giant festival. Running backwards turns out to be tense, especially on a non-closed course (I’m really surprised no one got run over by a cyclist on the part of the course that was on the lakefront path itself) and a really good quad workout.

Polar Dash Yeti Challenge

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Let’s catch up on the important business of this blog, shall we? How did I do in some rando race like 3 months ago?

I’m a sucker for a ridiculous race challenge, and a sucker for a ridiculous piece of race schwag, so how could I not do the Polar Dash Yeti Challenge (1 mile, 5K, and 10K distances) and earn this ridiculous hat doing so:

Polar Dash Yeti Challenge Yeti Hat

The course was nothing special—it started at Arvey Field in Grant Park and went down through the Museum Campus to Soldier Field, which feels like the course of half the races I’ve done in the last year. But for the multiple races, the whole day was fairly well organized: there were three different runnings of the 1600m race and plenty of time between the 10K and 5K, which made scheduling your own challenge pretty easy. And it was a cold and drizzly day, but the race provided a heated tent city with both Gear Check and plenty of hangout space, which was a nice respite between races.

Polar Dash 2016 heated tent

I ran alone, but happened to run into my friend Antonio who was taking advantage of the Polar Dash’s half-marathon for his own, self-imposed, ridiculous running challenge: a Runner’s Dozen. That is, he and a friend were planning on doing 13 half-marathons in 2016—one a month, plus an extra somewhere in there.

The below time is by no means my best mile time, and I hasten to add that I ran it last, so I was a little tired and cold by that time. But I realized that it’s my only chip-timed mile, so up on the records page it goes.

Total time: 1:49:59
Overall Place: 146 / 288
Place in Age Group (M40-49): 25 / 39
10K Time: 1:09:53
10K Place: 144 / 288
5K Time: 29:27
5K Place: 156 / 288
1600m Time: 10:39
1600m Place: 158 / 288

Audition Notice

FuzzyCo Productions (in collaboration with Jinks) is holding auditions to be part of the Chicago Neutrino Project, directed by Jen Ellison.

We are looking for several performers* with at least one year’s improv experience interested in joining us in a remount of the Chicago Neutrino Project. Each week, a cast of actors and camera people will come together, take a suggestion from the audience, then immediately film and premiere a completely improvised movie. Yes, it is that amazing.

Audition slots are every half hour on:

Monday May 9, 2016
6–9 PM
at Laugh Out Loud Theater, 3851 N. Lincoln Ave.

Please bring a headshot and resume, otherwise, there is nothing you need to prepare.

*If you are interested in joining the Chicago Neutrino Project as a camera operator only, please e-mail us at the address listed below and specify “camera only” in the subject line.

When you are cast, you will be expected to attend the following rehearsals, all to be held at Laugh Out Loud Theater, unless otherwise noted.

  • Sunday May 15, 2–5 PM
  • Sunday May 22, 2–5 PM (location TBD)
  • Sunday June 5, 2–5 PM
  • Sunday June 12, 2–5 PM
  • Sunday June 19, 2–5 PM
  • Sunday June 26, 2–5 PM

There will also be one dress rehearsal, date TBD.

Additionally, the dates of the run are as follows:

Sundays at 5 PM, July 10 - August 14 (call time 4 PM)

Please do not sign up for auditions if you cannot make all the rehearsal and show dates.<<

Submissions should be sent to:

jinksprocon@outlook.com

Please specify “Chicago Neutrino Project auditions” in the subject line. Also indicate in your e-mail 2 or 3 half-hour audition time slots that work with your schedule. Thanks!

Once Upon a Time in the West

I should have publicized this beforehand, on the off chance that there’s one of you two readers who lives in Mississippi but didn’t already know about the showing. But we just got back from
Vicksburg where there was a special showing of Once Upon a Time in the West at the Strand Theatre as a memorial for my late father-in-law, David Reid.

Family friend Daniel Boone, the film programmer for the Strand, wrote a great blog post about why he was showing this movie and why we’re remembering David. You should go read the whole thing.

David loved to visit and discuss things that interested him. He was an enthusiast. If he liked something, he wanted to share it: music, books, and movies.

The Vicksburg Post even covered the showing with a front page story on Saturday.

The showing was a ton of fun. We had a good turn out of Strand regulars and friends and family of David’s. I’ve seen the film before, but it was great to see it on the big screen and the 2 hours 40 minutes really flew by. So many thanks to Daniel and all the volunteers who make the Strand run for putting on a great evening.

The evening was a fund-raiser for the Culkin Volunteer Fire Department, an organization that David helped found. If you’re moved to watch the movie at home and then send in a donation, you can find them at:

Culkin Volunteer Fire Department
45 Freetown Rd
Vicksburg, MS 39183

Two Milestones

Keeping track of numbers kind of works on me and I had a reminder of that this morning when I hit a milestone in one tracking app, which reminded me of another milestone in a different tracking app. So many numbers in so many apps and so much remembering!

So this morning I went for a run while the car was getting an oil change (which meant I got to run on the Green Bay Trail for a bit, which was a nice change of scenery) and at the finish, here was my Nike Plus home screen:

Nikeplus 3000 miles

Boom! 3001 miles run since I got my first Nike+ sensor in June 2007. Of course there are a few miles untracked here and there when an iPod died or something—I know I ran one marathon with no tracking. I want my numbers!

So anyway, that nice round number reminded me that I had reached another such milestone (or, perhaps, an opposite sort of achievement) back in October:

Untappd 1000 beers

That’s 1000 distinct beers logged in the Untappd beer tracking app. I started using the app in December 2010 and it took me just over a year, and a concerted push from my friends at my birthday, to hit 500 beers in February 2012. Once I had hit 500, I stopped being quite so focussed, but I do love trying new beers, and I kept logging those beers. And so 2 and a half years later I was surprised when a Central State Brewery Ottermelon Gose pushed me to an even grand.