Monday, November 11, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for November 3, 2019 through November 8, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 27.5 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 27.5 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 4.5 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 87 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 32 miles
Current Weigh-In: 200.8

This was my most ambitious running week yet, and I completed the goal I set out. I am still painfully slow - at times I am not sure what I am doing could fairly be called "running" rather than "walking kinda quickly with a run-like motion". On the other hand, I recall that, during my high school days, in order to even qualify to participate in early cross-country training in the fall, you had to have run 200 miles over the previous summer. I'm not even to half that mark, and my starting point was a lot worse than I ever was then, so until I get two to three hundred miles on the road completed, I have to keep reminding myself that speed isn't important now, just the miles.

This upcoming week is even more ambitious, and will probably the highest mileage week I will have for a few months. This is the last week that I will bump up my weekday miles, going from three-and-a-half miles per day to four miles per day. Due to a quirk of scheduling, I have four "weekend" days this week, so I'll be doing five mile runs on each of those days. I call them "weekday runs" and "weekend runs", but what I really mean are "runs on days when I work" and "runs on days when I don't work". On days when I work, I don't really have a good time to run that is earlier than 9:00 PM, so I'm keeping those runs shorter, and on days I don't work I can take a longer time with my run. In a few weeks, I'll probably bump up my "weekend run" length, but that's in the future. Right now, I'm just going to try to complete a 32 mile week.

Previous Weekly Running Log: October 27, 2019 through November 2, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Book Blogger Hop November 8th - November 14th: The BMW 328 Was Voted a Top 25 Finalist for "Car of the Century" in 1999


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: Can you stop reading before the end of a chapter?

I don't like to, but I often have to. As I have said before, much of my reading is done while I am on mass transit to or from work. Consequently, when I reach my stop, I have to put my book aside to get off the train and either get to my office, or walk home for the evening. As a result, I often have to stop reading in the middle of a chapter, the middle of a page, or even the middle of a sentence. It isn't an ideal situation, but one that simply has to be dealt with. The choice is either to deal with that petty annoyance, or simply not do much reading at all.

Previous Book Blogger Hop: xkcd 327 Is Titled "Exploits of a Mom"

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, November 4, 2019

Musical Monday - Computer Love/The Model by Kraftwerk


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: The week of February 6, 1982.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Michael Myers had a recurring bit on Saturday Night Live where he would play the part of Dieter, the host of a fictional German talk show called "Sprockets". At the end of the segment, Myers would announce "Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance", and then some electronica music would begin playing and everyone would begin doing a stylized robot dance.

Kraftwerk, other bands like Kraftwerk, and fans of this style of music were the targets that this sequence was poking fun at. In fact, the actual song used in the bit was another tune by Kraftwerk called Electric Café. Myers' bit is a kind of good-natured japery, but it is japery directed not just at a specific era of music and, but a certain extent at a specific band, which may or may not be something that is generally known.

Previous Musical Monday: Centerfold by the J. Geils Band
Subsequent Musical Monday: Town Called Malice/Precious by the Jam

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Oh Julie by Shakin' Stevens
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Town Called Malice/Precious by the Jam

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

Kraftwerk     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for October 27, 2019 through November 2, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 21 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 20 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 6 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 59.5 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 27.5 miles
Current Weigh-In: 202.0

I ran five miles yesterday, which is the longest run I have done in about a decade. I followed that up with another five miles today. Mostly I ran the five miles yesterday because I missed running on Thursday due to bad weather - I don't mind running in the rain (after all, I did run in the rain on Wednesday), but I don't really have the clothing to go running in a downpour. As I reaccumulate running gear, I eventually will, but that day has not yet arrived.

I also ran the five mile runs just to see if I could do it. I've been slowly building up my distance over the last couple of months, and figured that it was about time to do some longer runs on the weekends. Right now, a "longer run" is five miles. The long-term goal is to make five to six mile runs a daily thing and eight to ten mile runs the weekend "long runs". That's a ways off in the future - probably not until some time in early-ish 2020.

The redhead has been keeping up with her "Couch to 5K" podcasts, and I have been going with her for those, hence the six miles of run/walk listed above. We've also signed up for the "Big Turkey Burn Turkey Trot" in Williamsburg on November 20, so there's that.

Previous Weekly Running Log: October 20, 2019 through October 26, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: November 3, 2019 through November 8, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Book Blogger Hop November 1st - November 7th: xkcd 327 Is Titled "Exploits of a Mom"


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 read classics? If so, what is your favorite?

I have read several classics, which is one of the benefits of being educated at a private high school. I suppose my favorite would probably be As I Lay Dying or Light in August, both of which are by William Faulkner. I've read a lot of Faulkner's work, and I always enjoy reading his books, despite them being as dark and gloomy as they are.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, October 28, 2019

Musical Monday - Centerfold by the J. Geils Band


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: February 6, 1982 through March 13, 1982.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: January 30, 1982 through March 6, 1982.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

When you get right down to it, Centerfold is a pretty sleazy song. It tells the story of a boy's high school crush who he discovers has posed in a magazine that is not named, but through context simply has to be Playboy. He is crushed by this discovery, but all is not lost, he decides that it would be great if she would drive the two of them to a motel so they could have sex, an offer that seems both self-serving and kind of creepy. Seriously, how slimier could this line be? "Hey babe, I saw you naked in Playboy, why don't we go to a cheap motel and you can give me a private show?"

That said, the video for this song is remarkably tame. Sure, there are women dancing in sweaters, bras, and other lingerie, but the focus is only kind of vaguely sexual. The dances themselves are not really all that suggestive, the focus of the camera isn't solely on the women as sexual objects, and so on. One can compare the framing of the women in this video to the framing of the women in Def Leppard's Photograph or Van Halen's Hot for Teacher to get a feel for the difference in tone that I am referring to. Maybe it was just that 1982 was a more innocent time for videos than 1983 and beyond. Maybe the band decided that a less sexually explicit tone was needed for the video to contrast with the very sexual nature of the song. I don't know the reason for it, but the difference is notable.

Finally, I will note that during the 1980s there was a persistent rumor that one of the women who appear in this video was Martha Quinn, who would become famous as one of the original VeeJays on MTV. This rumor was false, and the woman who was identified as being her only kinda sorta looks like Quinn if you squint and look at her from the exact right angle, and even then not really. The urban legend of "Quinn in the Centerfold video" was still firmly entrenched in the mind of college students throughout the decade.

Previous Musical Monday: Oh Julie by Shakin' Stevens
Subsequent Musical Monday: Computer Love/The Model by Kraftwerk

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: I Can't Go for That (No Can Do) by Hall and Oates
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: I Love Rock 'n Roll by Joan Jett

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: I Can't Go for That (No Can Do) by Hall and Oates
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Open Arms by Journey

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

J. Geils Band     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for October 20, 2019 through October 26, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 11⅔ miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 15 miles
Run/Walk Miles: 1.5 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 39.5 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 21 miles
Current Weigh-In: 203.2

I discovered (well, actually, the Redhead discovered) that I had calculated my running route wrong. I had figured that the loop I was running was a third of a mile long, having measured the distance with my car's odometer. The redhead, using Google Maps, determined that it was actually a half mile long. So I have been running further than I had thought I was.

Because of this miscalculation, I have reached my three miles per day goal much quicker than I thought I would. Today in fact. Also, because of this miscalculation, I am going to up my informal daily mileage goal to four miles per day, which I should hit exactly two weeks from today.

The Redhead has started doing the "Couch to 5K" podcast workouts, and I have started going with her when she does those. I'm not counting that as daily mileage, since it is a lot of walking and a little bit of running, but I am going to track those miles separately.

This means I know I am in good enough shape to complete a 5K race. So I think I might do that some time in the next few months.

Previous Weekly Running Log: October 13, 2019 through October 19, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: October 27, 2019 through November 2, 2019

Running     Home

Monday, October 21, 2019

Musical Monday - Oh Julie by Shakin' Stevens


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: The week of January 30, 1982.

Elvis died in 1977. Looking at Shakin' Stevens' performances, I can only surmise that he almost immediately decided to try to fill the gap left by that loss. I'm not saying that he did it all that well, but it is clear that discount Elvis is what he was going for.

The interesting thing here is that this represents such a backward-looking take on music. This isn't just hearkening back to the days when Elvis was alive, this hearkens back to Elvis as he was in the 1950s, before he went off to Hollywood to star in a couple dozen terrible movies and become a parody of his former self playing in Vegas. This is an imitation of Elvis as he was when he was recording Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, and Jailhouse Rock.

The only real issue with being knock-off Elvis in the 1980s is that it is a fairly tame and toothless thing to aspire to. In the 1950s, when Elvis was turning out his big hits and making waves with his suggestive dancing, everything he was doing was risque often over the edge of what was considered acceptable. By 1982, the world had moved on, and this sort of act was staid and boring.

The other interesting element about Oh Julie is that the song is original to Shakin' Stevens, unlike his previous two top hits, both of which were remakes. I had originally thought that this was a remake of the Crescendos song Oh Julie, but that is decidedly not the case. Not only was Shakin' Stevens the first to record this song, he also wrote it, which I believe makes this unique among Shakin' Stevens' number one hits.

Previous Musical Monday: I Can't Go for That (No Can Do) by Hall and Oates
Subsequent Musical Monday: Centerfold by the J. Geils Band

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: The Land of Make Believe by Bucks Fizz
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Computer Love/The Model by Kraftwerk

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

Shakin' Stevens     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for October 13, 2019 through October 19, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 9⅓ miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 14 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 24.5 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 11⅔ miles
Current Weigh-In: 204.6

I upped my daily mileage today on schedule to one and two-thirds miles. The run was fairly smooth, although in the middle of the fourth loop I felt a little off - I think my body was anticipating finishing soon since that would have been what I did on previous days. I probably could have gone further pretty much any day this week, but I'm taking this slow right now because of just how out of shape I was when I started this journey, so I'm sticking to the schedule I laid out at the beginning.

My back was bothering me a bit earlier this week, but I chalked that up to just being terribly out of shape. That's the paradox of fitness: If you are really unfit, you need to exercise more to rectify that, but your body is not very good at it, and you run the risk of hurting yourself. The real trick is to be able to distinguish between "this hurts, but it is just because I'm out of shape" and "this hurts and it is because I have injured myself". I think I have run enough in my life to be able to make that distinction, but I have never been this out of shape before, so I might not.

The key to running, in my experience, is consistency and goals. My short term goal is to complete this week's mileage goal. My medium range goal is to slowly increase my daily mileage until I am running three miles a day. Now that I am at a mile and two-thirds a day, I am a little more than halfway to that goal. I figure if I keep upping my miles on the schedule I've laid out, I'll be at three miles a day in about five weeks. We'll see how that goes.

I'll be back with another update next week.

Previous Weekly Running Log: October 6, 2019 through October 12, 2019
Subsequent Weekly Running Log: October 20, 2019 through October 26, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Book Blogger Hop October 18th - October 24th: Constantine I Founded Constantinople in 326 A.D. (Its Name Wasn't Changed to Istanbul Until 1923)


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: You're spending the night in a haunted house. What book would you bring with you?

Ghosts from Our Past: Both Literally and Figuratively: The Study of the Paranormal by Abby Yates and Erin Gilbert. I figure that if I am going to be in a haunted house, I should bring a book with me that was written by two fictional people used to dealing with ghosts.

Subsequent Book Blogger Hop: xkcd 327 Is Titled "Exploits of a Mom"

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Thursday, October 17, 2019

2019 WSFA Small Press Award Nominees

Location: CapClave in Rockville, Maryland.

Comments: I'm a little behind getting this up this year, since the finalists were announced back in August, but I've been running behind on lots of things this year, so that's just how it is.

Asm usual, the array of nominees for the WSFA Small Press Award were an exceptional bunch of stories. Even the worst of the bunch is an interesting and engaging story, while the top tier contains stories that fit in perfectly among the best works of short fiction of the year. This is, I believe, one of the hidden secrets of modern science fiction publishing: While these stories were all published by outfits that meet the definition of "small publisher" laid out by the rules, they represent some of the best work that the science fiction genre has to offer.

WSFA Small Press Award

Winner:
The Thing in the Walls Wants Your Small Change by Virginia M. Mohlere

Other Nominees:
Baggage by Leslie Burton-Lopez
The Djinni and the Accountant by Hal J. Friesen
Familiar in Her Angles by E.A. Brenner
The Hydraulic Emperor by Arkady Martine
The Spider and the Stars by DK Mok
The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat by Brooke Bolander
The Thing in the Walls Wants Your Small Change by Virginia M. Mohlere
A Witch's Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E. Harrow

Go to previous year's nominees: 2018
Go to subsequent year's nominees: 2020

Book Award Reviews     Home

Monday, October 14, 2019

Musical Monday - I Can't Go for That (No Can Do) by Hall and Oates


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: The week of January 30, 1982.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: January 16, 1982 through January 23, 1982
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

This is Hall and Oates third time on this list, which highlights just how dominant this duo was on the pop music scene of the early 1980s. Prior to Michael Jackson releasing Thriller, they were set to be the defining signature band of the decade. Even in the shadow of Jackson, they were a powerful influence on music of the era, bringing a smooth, urban, at times almost jazz-like sound to the fore in pop music.

This song is simply yet another entry in their catalog: A smooth song built around a fairly catchy hook, Hall's superb vocals, some beautiful backing vocals, and a saxophone solo. There's nothing to jar the ride through the song as it flows by like a well-aged whiskey. On the other hand, there's nothing that really sticks in one's mind about this song after it is done. It is polished almost to the point of slipperiness, sliding past the listener's ears without leaving anything really memorable to hang on to. This more or less summarizes much of the early 1980s: Pretty, but not otherwise noteworthy.

On a final note, note Darryl Hall and John Oates both wearing sport jackets with t-shirts despite the fact that Miami Vice wouldn't come out until two years after this video. Just remember this when you see people crediting Don Johnson with being an innovative style icon of the 1980s.

Previous Musical Monday: The Land of Make Believe by Bucks Fizz
Subsequent Musical Monday: Oh Julie by Shakin' Stevens

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Physical by Olivia Newton-John
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Centerfold by the J. Geils Band

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Physical by Olivia Newton-John
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Centerfold by the J. Geils Band

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

Hall and Oates     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Running - Weekly Log for October 6, 2019 through October 12, 2019

Last Week's Mileage Goal: 7 miles
Actual Miles Last Week: 10.5 miles
Cumulative Mileage: 10.5 miles.
This Week's Mileage Goal: 9⅓ miles

This isn't really "on topic" for this blog, but on the other hand this is my blog, so I pretty much get to decide what is or is not on topic. So this is going to be a regular recurring feature on this blog from this point forward.

I ran more than a mile for the first time in about eight years today. Granted, it was only about one and on-third miles, but that's four times further than I could run a month ago.

Although I have been a runner for most of my life, I haven't really run consistently, or at all, since about 2011. A whole collection of issues and annoyances have nagged at me for the better part of the last decade, and I kind of fell off the running wagon. Over the course of that decade, I declined into probably in the worst physical shape of my life.

I decided to do something about it. Or rather, my circumstances have improved enough that I can take the steps to do something about it. This is the first step. Over the last month I have built up from being able to run about a third of a mile to the one and a third miles I ran today.

I don't really have any real long-term goals (at least not ones I am willing to make public yet) other than to slowly increase my daily - and this weekly, distance. For the next week, I am planning on running one and a third miles each day.

I'll check in in a week to provide an update on how I did.

Subsequent Weekly Running Log: October 13, 2019 through October 19, 2019

Running     Home

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Book Blogger Hop: October 11th - October 17th: 325 Is the Only Known 3-Hyperperfect Number


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: Name one book that gets you in the mood for Halloween.

I don't really have one. I just don't get hyped up for Halloween. I'm happy for people who do get all excited about Halloween, and who decorate their houses and do a bunch of other stuff in anticipation of the holiday, but I just don't care about it enough to bother to do any of that. I'll dress up and take my daughter trick or treating or go to a Halloween party, but the run-up to the day itself is mostly something that I don't get excited about.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Monday, October 7, 2019

Musical Monday - The Land of Make Believe by Bucks Fizz


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never
#1 on the U.K. Chart: January 16, 1982 to January 23, 1982.

Yhis is what it looks like when a Eurovision contest winner is trying to keep their career alive for longer than the one song that won them their initial fame: They turn into discount British ABBA complete with ridiculous costumes, silly choreography, and a kind of disco-ish song. The odd thing is that Bucks Fizz did this pale imitation routine when ABBA was in their twilight and about to become passé. One would think that hitching your imitation game to a sinking ship wouldn't be the best idea, and in this case, you'd be right. This song was Bucks Fizz's second biggest hit, and their next release was their third biggest hit, and then they more or less became a U.K. only band that had middling subsequent success even there. Like ABBA, Bucks Fizz had almost no impact on music in the United States during their run of popularity.

To a certain extent, this song and video kind of exemplifies the chaos of the early 1980s when no one was really sure what the cultural touchstones would be. Everyone was trying to move away from being identified as "disco", but audiences still liked disco-ish music so long as you didn't actually call it disco. Everyone knew that wearing bell-bottoms and leisure suits was out of fashion, but no one really knew what to wear to replace them so you ended up with a lot of silver clothing and animal prints. Some bands like the Human league and Hall and Oates were starting to set the tone of the new decade, but things were far from settled in early 1982, and consequently you got insane messes like this.

Previous Musical Monday: Don't You Want Me by the Human League
Subsequent Musical Monday: I Can't Go for That (No Can Do) by Hall and Oates

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Don't You Want Me by the Human League
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Oh Julie by Shakin' Stevens

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