Sunday, April 30, 2006

15 - Hate

Xteen and I went to this yesterday.

I gotta tell was a phenomenal time.

I used to LOVE watching tennis as a kid, with all of the personalities and talent. It's been diluted quite a bit for me for awhile though. The men's game seems to lack "characters" like McEnroe and Connors, while the top players all win with giant booming serves. The volley game is largely lost among the top players.

Other than liking female tennis for the obvious reasons, I prefer to watch it because there's much more volleying and geometry involved. I saw a match last was one of the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport and one of the rallies lasted for about 25 strokes. That's tennis. I'll take that over 75% of the points being won on a 125 mph serve. Besides, Martina Hingis looks way better in a short skirt than Roger Federer does.

But this thing we went to yesterday was so awesome, because these are all the guys I grew up watching and idolizing. I still like playing tennis, but I suck. But when I would play as a kid, I would emulate these guys. And to see them play in a tiny place was an absolute treat.

The other cool thing about this tournament was that it was more of an exhibition of older players, so, while the intesity and quality of play are still really up there, there's a light-heartedness among the players. Lots of them joking with the crowd, with the umpire, with each other, all during the course of the match. It was more like a show. And it was very entertaining.

Our first match saw Aaron Krickstein beat the fiery Swede Mats Wilander. People forget, but in the late 80s, Wilander was about as dominant as Sampras was in the 90s. Truly a special player with a funny disposition on the court. I was rooting for Mats, so naturally, he lost in straight sets.

The second match we got to see was a doozy. One of my favorite players post-youth, Goran Ivanisivic (who is actually YOUNGER than me, by the way), took on the legendary brat himself, John McEnroe. While I had little doubt that McEnroe would win this match by hook or by crook (since the winner would advance to the finals today), it was such an entertaining match. We had the obligatory McEnroe melt-downs (all acts, to be sure, though he started to carry it a little too far toward the end) and we had Goran mugging it up for the TV cameras and those folks lucky enough to have seats down each end. He even chatted it up with the crowd while McEnroe seethed at a call or just needed a couple of minutes to catch his breath (he's 47 years old and still in excellent playing shape...and he still has his game).

McEnroe won in an abbreviated third set tiebreaker (they had to wrap up the match early so the evening session could start on time). But it was just an excellent time and if they come back next year, we are sure to go.

But as they were funneling us out, we noticed that McEnroe was staying around on the side of the court signing autographs for pretty much everyone. I asked Xteen if she wanted to go down and try to get it. Usually, she is pretty shy about that sort of thing, but surprisingly was all for it. So she went down and so did I, snapping pictures. We passed the program between us a few times as McEnroe paced in front of the crowd signing everything from ticket stubs to giant tennis balls that made me feel a little inadequate. Ahem.

Anyway, Xteen got McEnroe's autograph, which is SO cool, because he is literally one of the best tennis players to ever play the game. A Hall of Famer. She also thought that her older brother would like his autograph, so I went back down there with a ticket to try and get one for him. Once down there, I saw that there were some event employees facilitating the autograph process by taking things from people and giving them to McEnroe to sign. Granted, there were a lot of kids there, but there were some adults too. So, this lady has her hand out waiting for someone to give her something to give to McEnroe and I hand her my ticket stub. She looks at it and then looks at me and makes this wretched face:

Her lips were a little more pursed, but you get the idea. Then, she gives my ticket stub back to me in a huff with the obvious look of "how dare you, a grown man, ask for an autograph of someone you grew up watching. I'm here to help the crumb-grabbers who don't know John McEnroe from Patrick McEnroe get an autograph that they will undoubtedly take to school on Monday and trade for the one Garbage Pail Kid trading card they need to round out their collection."

What a bitch.

It doesn't help that I am a total geek fanboy, though. I love collecting autographs and photographs with people I admire...musicians, sports figures, swimsuit models (that collection still has ZERO items, so if there any swimsuit models who read Dim City....)

I was seriously considering saying to Llama Lady that "the autograph is for my son and he's a little scared to come down himself, because the last time he tried to do something like this, he fell out of his wheelchair and broke his only good arm."

But I'm all about karma, so I refrained.



Tuesday, April 25, 2006

This Literally Felt Like Me Typing a Blog Entry

This story cracked me up, pretty much because of the quote:

"It literally sounded like a ton of bricks hitting," said witness (name withheld to protect the unimaginative, but mostly to protect me, in case the guy googles his name and finds this blog entry making fun of him and comes after me), who works across the street.

Whoa, whoa, hold on cowboy. You mean to tell me that a ton of bricks falling off a building into the street literally sounded like A TON OF BRICKS? Dude, half a building fell off. If there was ever a time to be quoted spouting the most absurd hyperbole ever recorded, it is this moment and the best you can come up with is that this event sounded exactly like what actually happened? How inventive. What imagination. Here's what you should have done.

Hot news chick: So, Dim, you were in the vacinity when the building collapsed. What did it sound like?

Dim: I'll tell you, Ashley. It sounded like God Himself belched a giant cucumber burp at the same time he got pissed off at the planet Jupiter because of that "taunting red eye thing" and hurtled it from its orbit directly into the street, narrowly missing that Chrysler LeBaron over there. And it wasn't one microdecibal softer. I've never heard anything louder and I've actually seen Ministry in concert."

Jeesum Crow, what a complete letdown reading that quote. "Hey, you were sitting right next to that kid when he lit off that cherry bomb. What was it like?"

"You're never gonna believe this and I never over-exaggerate like this, but it literally sounded like someone set off a cherry bomb right next to me. I wouldn't shit you about something like this."

Another thing. I've been really avoiding commenting on the whole immigration issue thing, primarily because I don't want to turn my blog into a political commentary and secondarily because I don't want to read people's political ramblings in the comments on my blog, and tertiarily, I don't know enough about this crap to speak intelligently on it and, personally, I just find that it makes more people pissed off at you when you do talk politics. BUT...I could not sit back in this Land of Opportunity and let this travesty go unnoticed.

I'm not sure where our Founding Fathers would stand on illegals stealing into the country in covert tunnels or under fences or in ridiculously overpacked and overheated Caravan deathtraps. But I am reasonably certain that Tom Jefferson is rolling over in his grave as we speak because we shut out a hot European swimsuit model.

The Statue of Liberty. Today, she weeps. Just like me.

Free May Andersen! And in solidarity with my plea, I ask you, residents of Dim City, to show your allegiance to my cause by doing the following: Beginning six days from now, whenever you write down the numeric date, PLEASE preface it with Ms. Andersen's first name. If you are from outside of this country and do things a little differently, feel free to put her first name after the date. If you can do this for the subsequent 31 days, I'll know that you are all with me in my belief that May Andersen should be allowed in this great country of ours. And specifically, given a unit in my apartment building.

Heheh...I said "unit".

- Dim.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

"Hello, Ladies..."

OK, so Xteen and I were on a semi-vacation this week. It was a semi-vacation the way that all of my vacations are semi-vacations. When you are literally terrified to fly, like me, your time off is limited by the bounds of your automobile.

Xteen understands somewhat, but I know this will be an issue later. I hope to get over it as there are many places I want to see before I die and unless they start busting ass on trans-Atlantic bridges, I'm gonna have to hop on a plane. I have flown once before and that was pretty much enough for me. At least for the time being.

Not sure where my irrational fear of flying and airplanes came from. When I was a kid, we lived in a town near the main airport. We were right in the flight patterns and whenever I would hear the roar of a jet engine, I would scamper to the screen door in the back to see if the plane had "a mustache" or "teeth". The ones with mustaches (planes with engines attached to the main body of the plane) were significantly less scary to me than the ones with teeth (the big jets with multiple engines under the wings). What do you want? I was four. And mildly retarded.

This is an example of a scary plane with teeth:

Anyway, the odd part about my one and only flying excursion was that it was something I never intended to do. I entered in a radio contest in the hopes of getting some free CDs. What happened next was, needless to say, unexpected and pretty much unwanted.

I got a phone call from the station while at work. Side note: March used to work there as a friggin cool is that?! The promotions dude on the other end of the phone informed me that I was the "grand prize" winner in their contest. Hoping that this was the mere formality that separated "some" free CDs from "an assload" of free CDs, I sounded naturally giddy. Until he told me what the grand prize consisted of:

An all expense, paid trip to Chicago, 3 days, 2 nights, as well as tickets to see the Dave Matthews Band at historic Soldier Field.

Now, I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, mainly because no one ever gave me a friggin horse to begin with, but my immediate reaction (and quite possibly what I said to him on the phone) was : "Oh shit!" Followed by: "Please tell me this is transferable". Needless to say, I was unable to get rid of this albatross of a prize package in exchange for money. Hell, I probably would have even traded it for a gift horse even though I had no place to keep it.

This "grand prize" sucked on 3 different levels:

  1. I would have to make my maiden flight to cash in. At the time, I was 30 years old and never even made a model airplane, nevermind been in a real one. It's something I was pretty much hoping to avoid for as long as I could.
  2. Given the fact that I never flew, my excursions across this great country of ours were fairly limited. Outside of my native New England, my main trips consisted of ventures to Orlando, Florida and friggin CHICAGO!!!! Of all the god-forsaken places they could have sent me, they send me to one of the two freaking places I have actually been before. Unreal. And last, but certainly far from least:
  3. I fucking HATE the Dave Matthews Band.

The only worse vacation would have been them telling me I was going to bungee jump into downtown Newark and then spend the next four hours oiling down Nick Lachey before getting to watch him shoot a video that lasts until 3 AM. Can I trade that for some hemlock?

Long story long, I took the trip on Xteen's urging and despite being petrified, I handled the flawless flight with her to Chicago fairly well. While on the plane, I even ate a banana, which is monumental since I never ate bananas before, but I figured that if I am going to start doing weird shit, I might as well go all out. Flying, eating know...really cutting edge stuff. But that flight was pretty much my threshold. Two and half or so hours in a tube with no control over anything and not even getting to hear the audio associated with the showing of Spy Kids was a little much. I was getting pretty antsy when we started our descent and started wondering how in the world people can stay on a plane for ten hours or more without going absolutely insane.

Once in Chicago, I experienced immediate relief when we landed and that sweet relief lasted a grand total of about an hour and a half before I started to obsessively worry about the flight home. Another side note: if you are hoping to avoid anything that requires taking an intravenous antibiotic to cure, pass on kissing the ground in the terminal at O'Hare out of orgasmic release that your two feet are on solid ground.

We had a lot of fun hanging out in Chicago for sure. They put us up in this really artsy hotel in the theatre district, which we loved. We hit Navy Pier, the Field Museum, and Oprah's studio. You know, stuff you shouldn't go your lifetime without seeing.

We actually went to the concert, which was pretty much the downside of the whole trip. Soldier Field is enormous (where the Bears play football) and was filled with Dave Matthews Band fans, which was about as pleasant an experience as being in a football stadium filled with fans hoping to get a chance to oil down Nick Lachey before getting to watch him shoot a video that lasts until 3 AM.

One thing that did work in our favor at the show was the fact that there were notices all over the place saying that the opening act, Macy Gray, was unable to perform. While this was tremendous news to me, I was worried that, given the short notice, we would be treated to some hack local act who did ska versions of Red Hot Chili Peppers songs or something horrible like that. Instead...we got:

Buddy Guy!

That completely ruled and the guy slayed us all. DMB came out after, which was very anti-climatic for us, and were OK. We actually left the show early to go back to the hotel and have a drink before we had to get up and come home. My stomach was already in knots and that wasn't because of I had to listen to 60,000 people singing along to "Ants Marching".

Once we get to O'Hare for our ride home, I notice that Xteen and I aren't sitting next to each other on the return flight. This is not happening. So, after remedying this (by getting a seat near the exit and being told that I need to open the exit door if there is an emergency...just what I needed to hear), we notice that the flight is severely delayed. We overhear someone from the airline tell other passengers that this is because there was "a plane crash in Boston".

That's all I needed to hear and I proceeded to calculate how much money it would take for us to rent a car to drive the half-country home. That wasn't happening either, so I pretty much just paced for a couple of hours while observing the strange behavior of some of the other passengers on our plane (this was 2 months before 9/11, but I was always paranoid about that sort of thing). I petrified about this plane crash thing, so I decide to call my mom back home. I ask her if anything is going on and she says "no". I think she is just trying to not make me nervous, because I am envisioning, if we are able to get back to Boston, that I would be treated to a sky-view vision of a jumbo jet on its back, engulfed in flames, with buzzards flying over it.

Needless to say, the flight home was a little tense.

We sat on the runway for like an hour while the patented mid-western thunderstorms started to roll in but except for some mild turbulance (and an annoyingly psychotic lady who kept saying that she couldn't sit in the exit seat row because she wasn't strong enough to open the door if the plane crashed), it was a pretty OK flight.

We arrive back in Boston to find out that the "plane crash" so eloquently spoken of back in the Windy City was a private two-seater that skidded off the runway and into a bush, resulting in the pilot walking away with what was medically described as an "owie" on his leg. Another side note: if you are hoping to avoid anything that requires taking an intravenous antibiotic to cure, pass on kissing the ground in the terminal at Logan Airport out of orgasmic release that your two feet are on solid ground.

So. Where was I? Oh yeah. Xteen and I were on semi-vacation this week, which revolved around us taking day trips around here because of my aforementioned and brief allusion to my mild displeasure with flying. We went to Northampton, downtown Boston to see Sia (great show!), Newport, RI, and Portsmouth, NH. All were a great time. Which leads me, finally, to the title of the blog.

The Saturday before our semi-vacation, Xteen got a bee in her bonnet about getting a haircut and maybe even doing something drastic. She comes back from the appointment, holding in her hand, a foot-long ponytail of curly red hair. Her new, short and stylish haircut really looks fantastic and to make the whole thing even better, she is donating the hair to Locks of Love, which is a very cool organization.

Now, this act put an albeit smaller bee in my own bonnet and caused me to want to get a haircut, though one not nearly as drastic. So, I go and get about 4 inches of hair taken off, so it is still considered "long", but not too outrageous. Maybe I'll grow mine back and do a Locks of Love thing myself...we'll see. Anyway, it's kind of funny that my hair is longer than my wife's now.

Fast forward to Tuesday when we are in Northampton. At like 5:05 PM, we walk into an antiques shop there and way down the back is the elderly shop owner, who, upon seeing us enter, informs us "We're closed, ladies."

Yep. To paraphrase Tom Jones, "I'm a lady. Whoa, whoa, whoa, I'm a lady."

I was willing to give the dude the benefit of the doubt, because despite the fact that I had about 4 days' worth of growth on my face, including a soul patch, and hardly lumber around like a lady, he was pretty old, probably didn't eat his carrots as a kid, and owned a shop in a town well known for their female couples. I can deal.

OK, so last night, Xteen and I go out for dinner about 10 minutes from our place, both clearly in crappy-ass moods because it is cold, rainy, and the end of our semi-vacation. We sit down in the booth and our waitress walks from behind me to our table and says:

"Hello, ladies."

I look up and this lovely Brazilian woman turns white and starts the "humuna-humuna-humuna" stumble trying to explain why she thought I was a lady. I thought it was pretty funny. And we still tipped her well. Who knows, maybe I'm a better looking gal than I am a guy?

Talk about the long-way around to a story, eh? Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go take the rollers out of my hair and put on some foundation. The chilly air makes me pale.

- Dimiella.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

This is the day we Catholics and Christians naturally celebrate Jesus rising from the dead by worshipping a giant, omni-present bunny rabbit that goes around and hides multi-colored eggs on children.

Party accordingly.

- Dim.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Neko Case at the Roxy, April 5, 2006

I used to write concert reviews all the time for a now-defunct e-zine. For some reason, I seldom do it anymore, unless the spirit moves me. Well, after Wednesday, my spirit was officially moved.

These days, Xteen and I go to a few shows and while I am stoked as hell leading up the concert date, I usually lose steam when the actual day rolls around. Chances are, it's during the week, we have to coordinate schedules to get into the city so we can get something to eat in time, have to worry about parking and getting home at a reasonable hour, so we aren't draggin' ass the next day. That sort of stuff.

I didn't lose any steam leading up to the Neko Case show. And the fact that I have an undeniable crush on her has nothing to do with it.

A little history...Neko was born in 1970 in Virginia and ended up settling in Tacoma, Washington as a teen. She considers Tacoma her hometown and went so far as to pen a touching, if not humorous, ode to it on her wonderful Furnace Room Lullaby CD ("Thrice All American"). She spent a lot of time in the Vancouver area attending art school as well and it was here that she really developed her musical talent, playing drums in mostly punk bands.

While in Canada, she met up with A.C. (Carl) Newman, a tremendous pop songwriter and musician, which led to Neko's frequent and brilliant contributions to Newman's The New Pornographers (THE quintessential power pop band).

She moved to Seattle for awhile and now calls Chicago her home, though her touring and recording schedules don't seem to allow her a lot of time there.

To categorize Neko's music is to do her a grave injustice. It's easy to call her "alt-country", but her style just transcends description. It is influenced by many styles, but ultimately comes to something that is so unique and undeniably her own. Sure, one can say that she sounds like this singer or that singer on a particular tune, but when one hears Neko as a complete artist, I think it is damn hard to say she sounds like anyone other than herself.

Her first disc, The Virginian, was 1997 with a collection of musicians dubbed Her Boyfriends. The Virginian was a mish-mash of cover tunes and originals that, while far from flawless, showed a glimpse of what was to come.

In 2000, Case (again with her Boyfriends) released the stunningly haunting Furnace Room Lullaby. Mixing alt-county, pop, and Appalachian folk tales of murder and deceit, Furnace Room created a peculiar mood. Case's voice booms and soothes. Smooth and strong, and complemented by excellent musicianship, her vocals manage to keep you enraptured in her story while still allowing you to marvel at how great a singer she is.

The next year came a self-produced E.P. called Canadian Amp and then 2002 heralded the arrival of Blacklisted, her most consistent and striking disc to date. Opening with the spooky banjo-driven "Things That Scare Me", the album is an emotional roller coaster, with Case's songwriting clearly growing by leaps and bounds.

Early in 2002 was the first time I saw (or even heard of) Neko Case. Xteen and I went to a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds show and saw her and the Boyfriends play a captivating opening set. I loved the sparseness of the music, the upright bass, the pedal steel and banjo (which never sound twangy). But I was completely hooked on Neko's amazingly strong vocals (and the fact that she looked like a seven foot tall redhead didn't hurt either). We pretty much vowed to catch her again the next time she came around.

A few more shows followed: at the House of Blues with Her Boyfriends and last year's tremendous performance with the excellent Toronto-based band, The Sadies, in support of her jaw-dropping, but all-too-brief, live effort, The Tigers Have Spoken.

On Wednesday, Xteen, Jesus Joe and I made our way to the Roxy in Boston in anticipation of another great Neko show on the heels of her musically mature and amazing new disc, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.

On with the 3 negatives right off the bat:
  1. The ticket said that the show started at 8:30. We got in a line at 8:25 roughly the length of a line in the Soviet Union if they announced they were giving out free Scorpions cassettes circa 1984. By the time we made it into the venue, we missed like 15 minutes of the opener, Martha Wainwright.
  2. The muscle head checking ID's stamped me on the underside of my wrist with indelible black ink that read "OVER 2". Awesome. Can I have my binky now? When we got to the second muscle head again checking ID's, he told muscle head #1 that he has to stamp people on the top of the hand, NOT where he stamped me. So, I had to be stamped again and just now regained use of my right hand after needing steel wool and caustic lye to remove most of the ink stain. Then, we get into the venue and they check our hands and give us a bracelet. This is all so we can spend $7 on a bottle of Miller Lite. I'm surprised they didn't gather us all up together, shave a 21 into our heads, put yokes on us all and forced us to go till the field.
  3. My Concert-Going Guide for Dummies is all for naught. Two really annoying women talked through the whole set. We moved away, quite far away actually, and Xteen remarked "I can still hear them." It was like the Tell-Tale Heart.

OK, so around 9:45, Neko comes out and she looks fantastic. Again, she appears to be about 7 feet tall wearing a black top (I'm certain she was wearing pants of some kind, but we were a little far back and couldn't get a good look at her gams) and flowing red locks. She is flanked on all sides by her band: the sublimely wonderul Jon Rauhouse on pedal steel and banjo, Tom Ray on upright bass, Paul Rigby on electric guitar, Jason Creps on drums and the absolutely divine Kelly Hogan on background vocals. Neko herself picks up her now-trademarked four-stringed tenor guitar and launched immediately into "Favorite" from Canadian Amp.

The wonderful thing about Neko is that, in comparison to her discs, she sings songs one of two ways: She either reproduces the song on the disc flawlessly to let you know that no studio machinations help her out, or instead, she absolutely wails the living ass out of the studio version. Her live rendition of "Favorite", particularly on this night, did the latter.

Neko wonderfully balanced old tunes and new ones throughout her set. Various styles were showcased, be it the dreaded "alt-country" tab, or blues, or even jazzy-type numbers. The crowd went crazy for such recognizable songs as the gorgeous "I Wish I Was The Moon", "If You Knew", and the vocal tour-de-force, "Deep Red Bells". But the new songs, from Fox Confessor, were equally impressive, both vocally and musically. The title track, as well as "Star Witness" and the first single, "Hold On, Hold On", seem to buck traditional songwriting standards (there's hardly a formulaic song structure to be found on the new CD), yet the songs are every bit enchanting as live staples like the traditional, shuffling "Wayfaring Stranger" and the sultry ode to stalking, "Look For Me (I'll Be Around)".

(photo courtesy

The key to me enjoying this show unlike any of hers I have seen before wasn't Neko, however. In the four times I have seen her, she has been nothing short of brilliant and this show, she was absolutely perfect. But what made this show so impeccable was the talent of the backing band. Now, Her Boyfriends and especially the Sadies, were more than capable...even excellent, but something about this group of musicians just made it all click. The unsung (pardon the pun) hero of the show was undoubtedly backing vocalist Kelly Hogan, who added a magnificent depth to Neko's lead vocals, especially on the melancholy "The Tigers Have Spoken" and the disturbingly catchy "Furnace Room Lullaby" (which Neko has previously casually described as "a song about killing your boyfriend and burying him in the basement").

Neko's wonderfully dry sense of humor was on display, egged on by the equally dry Hogan. Case lamented the long rides on the tour bus by telling the huge crowd that she smelled like "a salmon" and even playfully mentioned her impended menses, which was actually more humorous than gross.

We stuck around after the show for a bit and chatted up Kelly Hogan, who was a complete sweetheart. We purchased a tour poster which Neko signed for us in the middle of a crowd of admirers and when Xteen asked if we could get a picture, Neko was very accommodating, provided we could hold off til the crowd thinned out.

We waited for a bit and when the crowd dissipated, she remembered and immediately came around the merchandise table and talked with us for a few minutes. She was very down-to-earth and genuinely very nice and appreciative of all the accolades we were throwing at her. Surprisingly, though, she is not 7 feet tall at all. She's rather petite. I guess it is something about that voice of hers that makes her seem larger than life.

And she didn't smell like a salmon.

If you are looking to broaden your musical horizons, I implore you to check out some Neko. I can't see how you would be disappointed. Better yet, come see her when she comes to your town.

Click here to see Neko and the band play "Hold On, Hold On" on the Tonight Show.

**Note: If you want to hear more Neko, click on the names of her album titles in the blog. With the exception of The Virginian, if you click on them, it will take you to her website, where you can listen to 2 songs from each of the albums you click on.**

- Dim.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Happy Birthday, Xteen!

My best gal turns 30 today. Happy birthday, darlin'! You rock!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I'm Fat and Still Need a Haircut

A mere five months after this post, it is time for me to try and get in shape for the summer so I don't look like I am wearing an inner tube anytime I wear any kind of a tightish shirt.

A few weeks ago, I busted out the 8 Minute Ab DVD again and immediately remembered why I hate exercise:

  1. I don't like pain
  2. I don't like physical exertion, unless it is awarded with copious amounts of beer drinking after (e.g., work softball)
  3. I don't like to sweat
  4. I don't like wearing shorts
  5. I don't like lifting heavy things
  6. I don't like being unable to breathe

So, I pop in the disc and am immediately confronted with the overly-hyper Shazam and his two Wonder Twin sidekicks (in the form of...a cheesy 80s Corey Haim-esque frosted hairdo [and that was the chick sidekick, no less] the form of, obnoxiously tight spandex shorts that accentuate my package!).

The first two words he says on the tape are like nails on a chalkboard:

"Hey, gang!"

I immediate look around the living room for the Sharks and the Jets.

He then tells me how "safe, effective, and fun" these exercises are.

I tell him to fuck off.

I get down on the mat for the first time in five months and go through all of the exercises with relative ease. This includes the last rep of straight crunches during which Shazam instructs us to dig the tips of our fingers into our abdomen to "feel" the muscles. He then patronizes with a "hopefully, you don't have to dig too far, gang!" before concluding with a "oooh, that feels good". For a minute, I thought I put in the wrong DVD, if you know what I mean.

Shazam closes with a happy "See YOU in 24 hours!"

Yet again, I talk to the TV:

"Go screw!"

Fast forward to the next day.

I can't get out of bed.

My entire torso, from my jawline to my waistline feels like all of the muscles have been ripped from my endoskeleton. I manage to finally move my dilapidated body out of a prone state and onto my feet. I try to stand upright and I cannot. I have single-handedly regressed 3 stages in man's evolution by merely doing sit-ups for 480 seconds:

I need approximately four days to heal before I can even dream about doing another oblique exercise. Something tells me this isn't the ferocity that Shazam had in mind for my workout regimen.

I also do some free weight work. This involves some curls and other weird arm thingies that I think I invented myself, since they cause an amazing amount of discomfort and do not produce any muscles. I do this one where I hold the weight vertically behind my head and raise my arms up over my head. I think this works my triceps. The other day, I momentarily lost hold of the weight which caused it to come dangerous close to landing on my noggin. Now I know why they call these things dumbbells.

Which brings us to the final part of my workout. Running. Or as I like to call it: slowly killing myself.

I got into my hatred of running, or bouncing up and down, in my other exercise post. But there are some nuances I failed to mention.

First, I get all dolled up. Which means a t-shirt, shorts (which I never wear), and sneakers (which I NEVER wear). I wear a baseball hat and put my hair in a ponytail.

Then I start running "The Loop". Yakuza and Xteen know The Loop. Xteen humors me and runs it only as long as I can run. Yakuza can run loops around The Loop. I also hate Yakuza because he drinks as much beer as we wants, eats whatever he wants, and still complains that he can't gain any weight. Grrr.

The Loop is about a mile and a half around and before you start yapping at me about complaining about such a miniscule distance, I have one thing to say.

"Go frig. I have asthma."

So, I start "running". There are two landmines I immediately have to dodge. One is random dog crap that thoughtful people have left on the sidewalk. Another is a stretch of said sidewalk I have to navigate that looks like it hosted a toga party with the underground worms from Tremors. God forbid they pave.

Eventually, I will be able to run the whole loop without stopping and maybe even be able to do a loop and a half, but for now, I can only go about half-way around before I need to take a break and rest for a few. And by "rest", I actually mean "comtemplate throwing myself in front of the first moderately-sized SUV that comes down the road."

Because, when you have asthma, what happens is this:

When it is the least bit chilly, or you reach a level of exertion that is more than getting off the couch to find the remote, your lungs burn like you swallowed a Molotov cocktail that was filled with habanero sauce.

Whenever this happens (and it happens all the time), I literally think I am going to die. In fact, I imagine my death will be much like that of Pvt. Santiago in A Few Good Men. You know, he was the dude given the code red by the guy who looks like Cuba Gooding, Jr. but isn't and the mentally challened Marine. Wait, that's one thing I never understood. Pfc. Downey was basically borderline retarded, but they gave him an M16 and told him to guard the wall at Guantanamo? All righty. Anyway, those two guys stuffed a rag down Santiago's throat, which caused some chemical reaction and he died.

That's what it feels like when I run.

Sure, I have asthma medicine I take before I go out which should temper my breathing problem. This medicine works for 3.7 seconds.

Once I slow down, I get lapped by octogenarians who get pumped up for their run by listening to Glenn Miller on their Sony Cassette Walkman.

Anyway, after walking for a bit, I start running on the stretch to get home. This takes me past a Gold's Gym, ironically enough. My one bright spot in this whole shabang is having the muscleheads leaving the gym drive past me from behind and go slow to check me out out as they drive by. Remember, I have a ponytail and, dare I say, a killer ass. I like seeing their faces when they see I'm a dude. I say out loud, "Ha....(pant)....(pant)....ha....(pant)" And then I spit and come close to death again, because talking and running is even worse for me than just running.

The post-run rest day is always fun. My legs feel like someone took a sledgehammer to them and it is always humbling going up and down stairs with all of the ease of a post-war Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump. But I do it so I can look somewhat acceptable in the summertime (and so I can drink beer and not turn into a giant blob).

It actually feels good to know that I am doing even a very modest workout, but man, do I ever hate it.

My prediction for the spring and summer?


- Dim.

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