Tuesday, October 27, 2015

On Little Cat Feet 

Cat crossing
“The fog comes
on little cat feet”
I’m starting to feel that way about my running. I pad around the city on little cat feet. When I’m running on the sidewalk and I’m approaching someone from behind I’m very conscientious not to spook them. I assume they won’t hear me because my step is so quiet. A couple of years ago I read about something that became kind of a trend; running on your toes. The basic idea was we were all heel smashers and our tricked out running shoes with super spongy heels allowed it. This was generally seen as detrimental, so the theory went, to our feet, joints and muscles. After reading the list of problems of landing on your heel during running, I realized I was a prime offender. I did some more reading, I watched some videos and set out to try changing how I ran.

It’s so elemental to how you’re constructed, to who you are, that it’s counter intuitive to change how you run. I run the way I run because that’s how I run. Like breathing. Yet that very logic made me consider the change. You breathe differently when exercising (definitely when you swim or run or bike) so why not run differently?
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Monday, October 26, 2015

8-Bit 80s 

Don't ask why I was listening to this from work but it was required research. It immediately lifted my spirits. I don't really look back at the 1980s with any kind of Happy Days nostalgiarrhea but man, this collection of 8-bit 80s covers is more 80s than a Reagan - Thatcher - Pope John Paul II threeway (um, I mean political summit). By the way, if listening to this doesn't cheer you up even a little bit, then you are un-cheer-upable!

Enjoy it or hate it, but don't DENY IT!

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Oh My Darling, Clementine 

Image via Julian Merrow-Smith

In my youth, the idea of eating a clementine before the first Sunday of Advent seemed not only impossible but heresy. I have no idea of the traditional harvesting of this fruit but they really only used to appear in stores late in November and be gone again by January. The fact that they usually came from North Africa - Morocco or Algeria, only added to their exotic nature and lent themselves perfectly to a Christmas narrative. The anachronistic wooden crates and stapled labels which looked like they were straight from the 1950s enhanced the specialness of clementines. I suppose I was indulging in some early fetishistic and infantile version of orientalism. By eating a clementine I might have been like a junior Marco Polo, glibly tossing away the peel of this golden fruit from a far away land as though it was so common for an explorer such as myself to eat such a fantastical thing. Like anything strongly associated with a particular holiday, the idea of it existing outside of that time of year has a certain absurdity to it. A Christmas tree in July seemed as crazy as wearing shorts while playing pond hockey. Inconceivable.

Of course, for years you’ve been able to get clementines almost anytime of year, regardless of the absurdity. It’s a perfectly reasonable snack. The flavour punch of citrus, the self-containment of the easy to remove peel, the seedless variety being so consumable and the small size of the fruit makes it perfect for kids. Small size is important for me. Like grapes, you could have one, two or handful and not worry about the rest of the batch spoiling. Modular food. Have as much or little as you like. Despite all of that going for clementines, I resisted buying them outside of November or December. Watermelon in the summer is special, in January it feels like, well, a melon. I felt the same for clementines.

Yet here we are, not even out of October when baseball playoffs are in full sprint, leaves have changed, Halloween costumes are being postulated (Donald Trump’s cap may be this year’s winner), pumpkin-spice flavouring is ruining every imaginable food and I’ve already finished my first net bag’s worth of clementines. First things first: net bags? Clementines should be sold in crates with a surprise mouldy lumpen mass found hidden amongst the rest, not in an un-recyclable mesh bag that looks like it belongs in a school gymnasium equipment room. Alright, so the bag works better and reveals any hidden putrid fruit, but where’s the charm? I guess the charm is you aren’t left with an unusable box with rusty staples sticking out.

I think I surrendered to this new age of clementines because I looked around and had a choice of South African oranges, mealy MacIntosh apples, organic Kiwi’s from New Zealand, Peruvian grapes and thought the clementine is a perfect alternative to all of that. Fresh, affordable, peel-able, portable and tasty. I gave in and tossed away my Christmas sentimentality and nostalgia for practical and nutritious. Also, I thought it might be a little crazy and borderline mental illness hanging on to a quaint childhood notion that one fruit must be reserved for two months of the year, not because of its cultivation but because my mom used to put clementines in our Christmas stocking as a treat.

If you think a tiny orange in a sock is a treat, maybe you are crazy.

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Thursday, October 01, 2015

Seen in September 

Impossibly stylish… at least in the ads.

September in Toronto is about the Toronto International Film Festival and half of what I saw were festival films. More than that, they really were the kind of films you could only see at a festival: a musical using verbatim transcripts as the lyrics, a Japanese sci-fi film, a Brazilian rodeo and a documentary about two filmmakers talking to each other. It wasn't exactly multi-plex fare, which was the point. Now, like a book by Truffaut about Hitchcock, read what I saw… Read more »

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The Hunt for the End of October 

I got through 45 days of exercise and on Day 46, thirty more minutes in bed seemed like a better idea. I took my run gear to work with the half-hearted idea of running in the afternoon. That afternoon came, went and before I knew it I had to go to a volunteering gig at the Film Festival. I got home around 12:30 AM, did 20 push-ups and went to bed. I was so exhausted on Day 46, I could barely lift my head. On Day 47 I ran 9.54 km. Back on track. Well, at least for 14 days. Day 60 rolled around and I was late for a Cycle Toronto event, both my arms seem to be suffering from lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow, without tennis and yes, I had to look that up), and the arch of my right foot is either sprained or otherwise injured. All that meant going to the pub, having a beer or two and not worrying about the fact that I couldn’t do a single push-up never mind run 5 km or whatever. Thus in 60 days, I have exercised 58 times. The only exercise I can imagine today will be on the trainer – something I will probably have to do until I heal enough to run again. The sad thing is the temperature in Toronto has finally dropped enough for a cool run so it’s a shame I can’t do one. I feel so close to my goal of 90 days of exercise, it really just means getting through to the end of October. No matter what happens I will get there; I will find you, end of October.