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Archive for October, 2009

facebook_movieJohns Hopkins’ Homewood campus is doubling for Harvard today. A movie about Facebook called “Social Network” is using its paths of erudition — for a day or two, anyway. No complaints here — well one maybe. I’m sure the story of Mark Zuckerberg — the guy behind Facebook, is an interesting one. But it feels weird, like the movie’s actually about Facebook.

It’s kind of like making a movie about Mountain Dew or Trident. I understand the ins and outs of multi-tiered advertising campaigns and media saturation. I also understand this is a biopic. But it feels like the lead in this film should be a character named, Facebook.

He’d go around making friend suggestions, weighing in on status updates, and tricking you into looking at him when you’re supposed to be working.

Then, out of nowhere, things go wonky. A crime is committed. And you know who we’re supposed to think is behind it: that shifty Twitter fellow. But the offender turns out to be… dunh, dunh, dunh… Youtube.

Thank you for indulging me.

Jesse Eisenberg, the star of “Zombieland,” helms what I’m betting will be a serious snooze fest. I have it on good authority that Mark Zuckerberg is nothing if not completely bland. Meaning, my friend’s friends said they met him at a party in LA and he is not sexy. I have a feeling the film’s writers and director would have you believe otherwise.

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Kenyan flag

Kenyan flag

My wife recently completed the Baltimore half-marathon. I didn’t; I wanted to, but I’m a slacker. I did however get a chance to do a little spectating. As the runners began trickling in, I noticed a certain nationalistic theme: Russians and Kenyans. All of the top finishers hailed from these locales.

Here’s a headline from a Chicago news source:
“Kenyan man, Russian woman win Chicago Marathon titles”
Here’s another from a Boston paper:
“Kenyan, Russian Post Fastest Times at Boston Marathon”
And another:
“Kenyan wins White Rock Marathon; Russian runner wins women’s race”

Kyrgyzstani flag

Kyrgyzstani flag

The top male finisher in the Baltimore Marathon was a Kenyan; and yes the top finisher in the women’s race was from — you guessed it — Kyrgyzstan. OK, Kyrgyzstan is not technically Russia; but it was once a part of the mighty Soviet Union, and the official language is Russian… so I’m calling her Russian.

Soooo… Nature or nurture?

Here’s one blogger’s take:

Many believe this is because of the high altitude at which Kenyans and Ethiopians train, although these countries also have a robust running culture as well as highly trained regimes … Additionally, the fact that so many Kenyans and Ethiopians have witnessed their fellow citizens travel overseas and win thousands of dollars in marathon money has been a further encouragement to rigorously train in order to become the best at marathon running. This has led domestic competition to drastic levels in order to determine who is the best to compete internationally.

As for the Russian women. Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe the Soviet legacy of athleticism is alive and well, and distance running has replaced hockey and Greco-Roman wrestling. I’ll think on it and let you know.

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I don’t drink anymore — haven’t had an adult beverage in almost five years. Never mind me, though. Many runners find the ritual of race day incomplete without a little firewater. I guess I see where they’re coming from… or do I?

Have you ever heard of the Hash House Harriers? Don’t bother Googling them. You’ll just run into silly unsafe-site shenanigans. I once again defer to Senor Wiki:

Hash House Harriers is an international group of non-competitive running and drinking clubs. “Hashers” or “Hares” call one of their events a “hash.”

Early Harriers

Early Harriers

At a Hash, someone lays a trail, which is then followed by the rest of the group. The trail is full of cooky dead ends, false trails, and splits. The front-runners slow down to find the “true” trail, so the stragglers can catch up. Essentially, a Hash is designed to keep the pack together — novice and seasoned runners alike. When the Hash is over, members keep the party going at a nearby house, pub, or restaurant.

Members often describe their group as “a drinking club with a running problem.” HA, HA, Ha…ha…ha…(blogger clears his throat)…ha.

A runner can justify his/her penchant for the hard stuff in a myriad of ways. You’ve undoubtedly heard a runner order a beer, then crack one about carb-loading. As I discovered in an old Runner’s World article, this is hogwash — malarkey even. Here’s what Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D. had to say about it:

“The idea that beer provides a significant amount of carbs is a misconception,” Clark told Runner’s World. “A 12-ounce bottle contains 12 grams of carbohydrates, which is equivalent to about half a slice of bread.

“What’s more, because of the way alcohol is metabolized, most of these excess carbs are stored as fat. So you’re actually fat-loading,” said another doctor. “And if you’re drinking a lot, you may be running to burn off beer calories rather than combusting body fat.”

And we mustn’t overlook the more embarassing consequences of over-imbibing: lapses of judgment, dehydration, slowed recovery time, and that whole — waking up with one shoe on and the menu music from a questionable DVD playing ad infinitum on the TV.

We’re back to you-know-what, friends — moderation. That seems to be the consensus on any indulgence. There’s no reason for runners to abstain from booze if it’s consumption is kept under control. You just have to know when to put the plug in the jug.

But what about those folks near the end of a race handing out beers, you ask?

If you’re doing a 3K, it’s no big deal, but I don’t think guzzling a diuretic at the end of a dehydrating event is too wise. But people have been doing this since the inception of distance running, and they sing its praises. So maybe I’m off base here. I mean, Gatorade can do a number on your stomach after a run, too.

Well, I guess I’ve once again come to a nebulous conclusion. Drink ’em if you got ’em… or don’t.

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