Sunday, January 19, 2020

Running - Weekly Log for January 12, 2020 through January 18, 2020

Last Week's Mileage Goal: Not set
Actual Miles Last Week: 7.5 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 1.5 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 253.5 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: Not set
Current Weigh-In: Not done

As promised, I did in fact start running this week. I only got out on the roads three days out of the week, and I only managed a couple of miles each day, but I did run. I will run more this week, although I am not going to set a mileage goal for the week. I am still figuring out how much the enforced layoff caused by the dog bite set me back, and I don't want to try to force substantial distance too soon.

I did notice the puncture wounds when I went running. Even though they have finally scabbed over and stopped weeping, when I run I can tell that there is still internal damage. It isn't enough to be anything more than annoying, but it is a reminder that I am not entirely healthy yet.

Previous Weekly Running Log: January 5, 2020 through January 11, 2020

Running     Home

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Book Blogger Hop January 17th - January 23rd: Phillip II Established Macedonian Hegemony Over Central Greece in 338 B.C.


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Do you think that readers make better employees, as opposed to non-readers? Why or why not?

I believe that readers do make better employees than non-readers, mostly on the grounds that in general, readers are simply better people than non-readers.

Previous Book Blogger Hop: Constantine the Great Died in 337 A.D.

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, January 13, 2020

Musical Monday - A Little Peace by Nicole


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: May 15, 1982 through May 22, 1982.

Eurovision is a giant ramshackle song contest that produces a one-hit wonder pretty much every year, and 1982 was no different. This was Germany's entry that year, by Nicole. This was pretty much her only hit of any kind, which seems to be pretty typical for Eurovision song contest winners - they show up, win the contest with a song that charts in multiple participating countries, and then they more or less disappear until they are trotted out to sing their one hit at Eurovision nostalgia events.

As far as Eurovision song winners go, this slightly out of the ordinary, insofar as it is a non-English language winner. Most winners - even those by entries from non English-speaking countries - are performed in English, to ensure maximum appeal because English has become the second language of a large proportion of Europeans. It also isn't a supper flashy over-the-top gala production like many of the competitors. On the other hand, the theme of the song, a wish for world peace, is pretty much Eurovision voter bait.

Previous Musical Monday: Chariots of Fire by Vangelis
Subsequent Musical Monday: House of Fun by Madness

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: House of Fun by Madness

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Nicole     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Running - Weekly Log for January 5, 2020 through January 11, 2020

Last Week's Mileage Goal: Not set
Actual Miles Last Week: 0 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 0 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 246 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: Not set
Current Weigh-In: Not done

Last week I said that I hoped this week would be better. It was not. The bite punctures continued to weep all week, keeping me on the sidelines for the entire week. They appear to have finally closed up, which means I will be getting back on the road this week, but given that I have had a layoff of almost three weeks, I am more or less starting from scratch again. I am aiming at starting on Monday and taking things slowly. My plan is to start with just a few miles a day and see how much I have lost over this period of forced inactivity. I don't know how my body will react or how much mileage I will be able to do. Almost everything is uncertain at this point.

This much is certain: I will start running again this week.

Previous Weekly Running Log: December 29, 2019 through January 4, 2020
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: January 12, 2020 through January 18, 2020

Running     Home

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Book Blogger Hop January 10th - January 16th: Constantine the Great Died in 337 A.D.


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Do you have a reading challenge for 2020?

Not really. Mostly I just want to read more than I did in 2019, which won't be hard, since I didn't read much at all in 2019.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, January 6, 2020

Musical Monday - Chariots of Fire by Vangelis


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: The week of May 8, 1982.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: May 1, 1982 through May 8, 1982.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Chariots of Fire was a formative piece of music for me, in large part because it was associated with a formative movie for me. I always knew I wanted to be a runner. It was the only sport I was ever really good at. I was an okay soccer player, and a pretty good ultimate Frisbee player, but my aptitude for those sports was the direct result of my affinity for running. Simply put, I would wear down my opponents by remaining in constant motion throughout games. With cross-country and track and field, I simply cut out the part where you chased a ball or a Frisbee.

The movie, a very loose retelling of the story of runners Harold Abrams and Eric Liddell and their pursuit of athletic glory in the 1924 Summer Olympics, was exactly what I needed to inspire me. It didn't matter that they were sprinters and I was a distance runner. It didn't matter that they were aristocratic British college students from the 1920s and I was an American teenager in the 1980s. It didn't even matter that the movie mangled the actual history in a myriad of odd ways, both great and small. The story in the movie spoke to me in a way that no movie about athletics had before. I could (and probably should) write an extended piece about the movie, but this post is supposed to be about the song, so I won't do that here.

That said, it is impossible for me to think of the music associated with the movie without thinking of the movie as well. To me, this song is what running sounds like. I can't hear the soundtrack to Chariots of Fire without seeing images in my head of barefoot runners on a beach. Or images of men on a cinder track getting up after falling on the infield to come back and win their race. Or images of a man running while holding a crumpled up piece of paper bearing a Bible verse in his hand. Or a man running with an anger and intensity in his eyes that simply will not accept defeat. The fact that many of the events in the movie are simply fabricated is of no consequence. This song is running.

Previous Musical Monday: Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
Subsequent Musical Monday: A Little Peace by Nicole

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: I Love Rock 'n Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: That Girl by Stevie Wonder
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Vangelis     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Running - Weekly Log for December 29, 2019 through January 4, 2020

Last Week's Mileage Goal: Not set
Actual Miles Last Week: 0 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 0 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 246 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: Not set
Current Weigh-In: Not done

I kicked off 2020 in exactly the opposite manner that most people do in terms of fitness: I didn't run at all last week. Instead of finding newfound resolve and starting training with the coming of the new Year, I spent the first week still recovering from the dog bite I suffered on December 24. As of now, the wounds are still weeping, and as I determined that I shouldn't run again until they had at least closed up, I've spent the last week sidelined and out of action.

I think that the end of this enforced layoff is in sight, and I hope to be running again by the end of this week, but I just don't know when that will happen. I am, essentially, at the mercy of my body's ability to heal. I'm not going to set a weekly running goal this week for the same reason I didn't set one last week: I don't know when I'm going to be able to run again, and I don't know how this layoff will have affected my ability to get back on the road. I figure that when I do start, I'll probably start slowly and ramp up the distance over the course of a week or two until I am back to where I was before the dog bite.

With any luck, next week's running log will be better.

Previous Weekly Running Log: December 22, 2019 through December 28, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Book Blogger Hop January 3rd - January 9th: The Video "3:36" by Poppy Is, Ironically, Only 40 Seconds Long


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Do you have any New Year's Blogging Resolutions?

I don't really have any specific blogging-related resolutions other than to keep on blogging and try to blog more often. 2019 was a really trying year for me in several ways, and one of the most apparent ways in which that manifested was in my lack of reading, reviewing, and other blogging. I figure I should be relatively conservative in my ambitions, so as an initial matter I'd like to at least get back to the volume of blogging I was doing in 2018. More than that would be great, but I'm trying to be conservative in my expectations.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, December 30, 2019

Musical Monday - Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: May 15, 1982 through June 26, 1982.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: May 15, 1982 through June 19, 1982.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: April 24, 1982 through May 8, 1982.

Take two giants of the music industry and add a song that uses the black and white keys of a piano as a metaphor for racial harmony, and you get a titanic international hit that reached the top of every chart that I am tracking for the 1980s Project and several other music charts as well. For about two to three months in early 1982, this song was nigh-ubiquitous on the airwaves, dominating pop culture for that time period.

There is no denying that the song was a huge commercial success. Ebony and Ivory spent more time at the top of the charts than any of McCartney's other post-Beatles songs, and longer than any of his songs other than Hey Jude. It was ranked as the fourth largest hit of 1982 overall. This song spent more time at the top of the charts than any other Stevie Wonder song, and provided Wonder with a number one hit in a third consecutive decade.

This is also a kind of sappy, treacly, almost offensively simplistic song, and the reactions to it after the initial rush of enthusiasm reflect that fact. The video for the song beat the viewers across the head and shoulders with the metaphor, having McCartney and Wonder walking around on a giant set of piano keys. Just in case the viewers didn't get the message, McCartney is dressed in black and Wonder is dressed in white. Once people stepped back for a second, they noticed what a blunt force object the song actually was.

Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo had a famous Saturday Night Live spoof of this song in which they made fun of the adolescent metaphor for racial coexistence. Other people poked fun at the saccharine nature of the song in subsequent years. As time has gone by, the song has more or less faded from the forefront of popular consciousness, which is somewhat unusual for a song that flew so high on the charts when it was released. I can't remember the last time someone was talking about "great music from the 1980s" and thought to include Ebony and Ivory on the list. The lasting cultural footprint of this song is almost negligible, and that is remarkable.

Previous Musical Monday: My Camera Never Lies by Bucks Fizz
Subsequent Musical Monday: Chariots of Fire by Vangelis

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Chariots of Fire by Vangelis
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Don't You Want Me by the Human League

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Chariots of Fire by Vangelis
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Don't You Want Me by the Human League

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: My Camera Never Lies by Bucks Fizz
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: A Little Peace by Nicole

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Paul McCartney     Stevie Wonder     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for December 22, 2019 through December 28, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: Not set
Actual Miles Last Week: 11 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 1.5 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 246 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: Not set
Current Weigh-In: Not done

This week was an entirely lost week. Things started out well enough. On Sunday I ran 8 miles, then we traveled on Monday and part of Tuesday. When we arrived at my mother-in-law's house on Tuesday, I went out for a three mile run, just to get the kinks out. While I was running, a dog bit me. I spent Christmas Eve in the ER, getting a tetanus shot and having the bite wounds cleaned out with a saline syringe. The doctor prescribed me an antibiotic and sent me on my way.

As a result, I didn't run again for the rest of the week. The bite wounds are still weeping blood, pretty much a week later. I figure I won't be back on the roads putting in miles until I stop bleeding, which will probably coincide with the end of the antibiotic regimen and my return to Virginia. Basically, I'm taking an enforced two week layoff from running as a result of a dog named Faith.

I'm not setting a weekly goal for this week, because I'm not sure when I will start running again. I also didn't do a weigh in, just because it would be pointless. I'll figure out where I am next Sunday and reevaluate.

Previous Weekly Running Log: December 15, 2019 through December 21, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: December 29, 2019 through January 4, 2020

Running     Home

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Book Blogger Hop December 27th - January 2nd: The Gibson ES-335 Was the World's First Commercial Thinline Archtop Semi-Acoustic Electric Guitar


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: What bookish goodies did you get for the holidays?

None. I got almost no bookish goodies for the holidays. I was trying to rectify this situation, but my communications with the small press publisher I was trying to get a price quote from seem to have been derailed.

I did get a belated gift of a book, but it was a book I already owned, so I'll have to find a use for the duplicate now.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, December 23, 2019

Musical Monday - My Camera Never Lies by Bucks Fizz


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: The week of April 17, 1982.

This is really a pretty terrible song. I never thought I could long for the days of listening to Making Your Mind Up or The Land of Make Believe, but the ABBA knock-off that is Bucks Fizz managed to accomplish this with this number one hit. I decided to include the U.K. chart in my review of the top hits of the 1980s because I remembered a lot of really good music from there that never really made it over to the U.S. I forgot that there was so much crappy pseudo-disco like this in the mix as well.

I guess the highlights of the decade wouldn't be highlights without the lowlights to serve as contrast. So this week is providing contrast.

Previous Musical Monday: That Girl by Stevie Wonder
Subsequent Musical Monday: Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Seven Tears by the Goombay Dance Band
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Bucks Fizz     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for December 15, 2019 through December 21, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 40 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 21 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 0 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 235 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: Not set
Current Weigh-In: 200.2

I set an ambitious mileage goal last week, and a utterly failed to even come close to meeting it. Basically, a storm of events got in the way and knocked me out of my routine so badly that I never recovered. Monday was very cold and wet, so I took that day off as my planned rest day, and then I felt sick on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I wasn't able to run those days. I simply had too much stuff going on on Saturday to carve out the time I needed to run and then recover, so I missed that day as well. Despite all that, I still managed to run twenty-one miles even though I only ran three days last week. Some weeks are like that, and you just have to not worry about missing the running days.

I've decided that I am not even going to try to set a mileage goal for the upcoming week. Between traveling and the holidays, I just have no idea how much I'll be able to get out on the roads, so I'm considering any running this week to be a bonus. I've already put in eight miles today, so that's a start. I will tentatively say I'll probably get somewhere between thirty and thirty-five miles in, but I could get far fewer than that, so I'm just going to take whatever I can get.

Previous Weekly Running Log: December 8, 2019 through December 14, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: December 22, 2019 through December 28, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Book Blogger Hop December 20th - December 26th: "334" Is a Nebula-Nominated Novel by Thomas M. Disch


Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: What is your favorite Christmas themed Fiction or Nonfiction book?

My favorite Christmas-themed book is J.R.R. Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas, which I have reviewed here. The book is a compilation of letters that Tolkien wrote to his children in response to their letters to Father Christmas. Tolkien took up the persona of Father Christmas to write letters back to his children filled with inventive stories, a cast of adorable characters, and illustrations of pretty much everything. All of these letters complete with context and background information are included in the book. Essentially, this book gives the reader a glimpse into how Tolkien expressed his playful and caring love for his children over the years of their childhood. I go back to this book pretty much every Christmas and read through it.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, December 16, 2019

Musical Monday - That Girl by Stevie Wonder


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The week of April 3, 1982.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Okay, so this is a Stevie Wonder song. It sounds like a dozen other Stevie Wonder songs. This is not a criticism - pretty much all of Stevie's oeuvre is good, and a lot of it is great. This song falls into the good category, although it does have a fantastic harmonica solo.

That Girl does disappoint somewhat insofar as it seems to be Stevie just more or less rehashing the same sound that he worked through the 1970s with, a kind of pale imitation of some of his great songs of the previous decade. Even though this is not as top notch a song as he produced in his prime, he did have a long way to drop before his music could credibly be called anything less than excellent, so it really only suffers by comparison.

Previous Musical Monday: Seven Tears by the Goombay Dance Band
Subsequent Musical Monday: My Camera Never Lies by Bucks Fizz

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: I Love Rock n' Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Chariots of Fire by Vangelis

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Stevie Wonder     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home