Monday, October 24, 2011


The zombie 5K was this weekend in Baltimore, and I am proud to announce that I survived. Well, actually I didn't, I died. But I lived through it. I'll explain in a minute.

My training can best be described as "half-assed". Actually, half-assed may be a slight exaggeration. Quarter-assed is a bit more like it. As you may remember from previous posts, I HATE running. And while I started out with the best of intentions, no amount of progress in my abilities was enough to convince me that I liked it. In fact, I think it made me hate running even more. I started to rationalize reasons why I didn't really have to train. "I had dance class on Tuesday, that should count." "I totally did cardio-kickboxing for 10 whole minutes, that's exactly the same as running for 20 minutes." The last couple weeks I didn't bother to train at all, telling myself even more lies: "The adrenaline of being chased will carry me through it." "I should just sit on the couch all week - I need to conserve my energy."

Despite the nagging feeling that I was woefully under-prepared, I was getting very excited. A few days before the race the organizers sent out a tantalizing e-mail. There would be mud, red dye, strobe lights and four feet of standing water. We should "use our best judgement" in the event we had a seizure disorder, or an allergy to latex. Oh, and could we also print out and sign this wavier indicating that we understood we might potentially die? It was starting to sound awesome.

Race day came, and H-town and I got up at the ass crack of dawn to drive out to the race site. There were actually three of us who would be running together: me, with my half- to quarter-assed training, H-Town, who also hates running but had trained diligently, and Callie, who is a maniac and does this sort of running shit all the time. We discussed our training regimens and reactions to it on the shuttle from the parking lot to the race site. I reported my reaction the same way I always do: I am never, EVER running anywhere ever again.

Callie, H-Town and me, blissfully unaware of what lay ahead.

On arrival at the actual race site, we got our race packets, put on our numbers and our flag belts and got in line to check our bags. Each of us was in a different line, but we all had a similar experience of being given tips by people who had already completed the race. We already knew there were two kinds of zombies - "theatrical" zombies who were for show, and "athletic" zombies who would chase you and take your flags (this was the zombies' job. If you finished the race with none of your flags left, you were dead, and weren't eligible to win a prize). We were advised to look out for zombies who looked theatrical, but would turn around and chase you after you'd passed. We were also given advice for the "four feet of water" we'd been warned about, namely that it was way more than four feet deep, it was very cold, and we should grab the ropes to pull ourselves across rather than try to swim it. We all met up at the starting line and compared our notes. And then the race started.

We were not prepared.

Our various levels of training made no difference as we quickly realized that no one had actually trained properly at all. Running at a steady pace on relatively level, always dry, usually concrete surfaces is in no way at all adequate preparations for running through the woods up and down ridiculously steep hills, the surface of which had been reduced to a muddy slop, while being chased by zombies. In hindsight we should have been practicing running up and down various inclines and a fuck ton of suicide sprints.

We first realized this when we encountered our first obstacle - giant piles of hay we had to climb over. We reached the top and looked down to find a sea of zombies waiting for us on the other side who were sprinting after people trying to get their flags.

Holy Fuck.

 This would become a theme - go through some arduous task like climbing up a cargo net or clawing your way up a muddy hill, and face the waiting zombies on the other side/at the top. Also, for something that had been billed as a 5K run, there wasn't really a whole lot of actual running. Sprinting away from the zombies used up most of your energy so that when you did get to a zombie-free straightaway, you were usually too spent to run it. Which really didn't matter anyway because those sections were almost all so incredibly muddy you couldn't possibly have run through them without constantly falling. Still, it was pretty cool and we were having a ton of fun.


The water obstacle was to swim across a pond. There were two ropes stretched across it to help in pulling yourself along. We scrambled down the embankment and stepped into water up to our waists. It was stunningly cold, but seemed manageable. For five seconds, until we took another step. We all found ourselves submerged to the neck in 40 degree pond water. There is no way to grasp exactly how cold that is without actually doing it. The shock of the cold hit me like an anvil to the chest. FUCKING HOLY HAIRY NUN TESTICLES, I thought, but didn't say, because I was too stunned to speak. The bottom of the pond was nowhere to be found. We pulled ourselves along the rope hand over completely numb hand, urged along by H-Town, who was the only one with the ability to speak and was channeling her inner Dory - with Tourettes- all the way across. "JUST KEEP FUCKING SWIMMING!" she screamed. "FUCK YOU, NEMO!" I had a sudden moment of clarity remembering the text of the waiver I had signed - I could actually for real die in water that cold if I didn't get out of it as quickly as possible.

Somehow we all managed to get across to the other side and pull ourselves up the steep embankment. With two miles to go we were now cold, tired and soaking wet. Additionally, my saturated hoodie added another 10 pounds of weight for me to try and run with. We got to a very steep downhill that I almost ended up tumbling down, only to be faced at the bottom of it with an even steeper and higher hill that we would need to climb, which was also a river of mud. Climbing it took just about everything out of me, so when the zombie who had been sitting on the ground giving people high fives as they came over the hill suddenly jumped up and snatched away my last flag I barely even reacted. It actually turned out to be more fun once we had no flags left to worry about (it's not like we had any shot of coming in the top 3 anyway). We started deliberately messing with the zombies, trying to hug them and get them to high five us. We also did our good deed for the day and started running interference for the runners who did still have flags, blocking the zombies from being able to reach them, or tricking them into thinking we still had a flag on us somewhere.

The end was now in sight. Cold, wet, exhausted, filthy, lungs on fire, we could see the finish line (chain link fence that you had to crawl, or as H-Town did, slide under), and Callie led the way for the three of us, who were all determined to finish the race actually running. We babbled to one another excitedly while we got our medals, developing the strategies that would have been a lot more useful to us if we'd thought of them during the race. We grabbed our bags so that we could change into the clean and dry clothing we had brought, pausing first to have our photo taken together while we were still a hot mess, and giving the photographer and her friend who had yet to run all the advice we could think of. The shoes we ran in were all destroyed and we threw them away with great ceremony. Then we went off in search of the free beer we had been promised and something to eat.

The beer was like the nectar of heaven. The cheeseburgers H-Town and I procured were the most delicious either of us had ever had in our lives and we ate the crap out of them. We said goodbye to Callie, who is insane and was teaching a yoga class later in the day, and decided to head down near the course to watch some of the next wave. We stood near the first obstacle, the giant piles of hay, with a number of other people who had also finished the race, and watched as the next wave crested the hay and headed into the sea of zombies. We'd been through it before and knew that the direction they needed to run wasn't readily apparent, so the entire spectator gallery began shouting at them and pointing "To the right! THE RIGHT! Head for the trees! Go towards THE TREES!" After the wave passed by us, we went to the section between the maze and the downhill, where a ton of zombies waited in ambush all the way down the hill. Again, we used our knowledge to help the runners. "Wait for a group! Go in a group! There's too many of them, you'll never make it by yourself! Everyone go together and overwhelm them!" Most people took our advice, and a few of them even gathered around a leader who would get them all geared up Braveheart style and then all together make a break for the zombie gauntlet shouting guttural war cries. One who didn't was a guy dressed up as Superman, who actually did manage to get past them all without losing any of his flags, although one of the more enterprising zombies managed to steal his cape.

We drove home in absolute exhaustion, extremely pleased with ourselves for choosing an early heat when we noticed the traffic backed up for miles along the two lane road that led to the race (the traffic turned out to be a  huge problem and quite a few people unfortunately didn't get to run). We got home and spent 15 minutes excitedly relaying to H-Town's lovely wife all the details of our adventure before passing out.

I hate running, you guys. I really, really mean it. But there's just something about being chased by zombies. So despite the fact that I still swear I will never run again, when H-Town turned to me on Sunday afternoon just after we came home from dinner and suggested that we might want to sign up for the zombie run next year in Indianapolis  I agreed that we were kidding ourselves if we thought there was any chance that we won't.

I Might Be A Super Massive Nerd

Search terms that have recently led people to this blog:

"I can't bend my legs in my stormtrooper outfit"

"Can the ton ton make it to the first marker"

It's possible I may need to diversify my hobbies.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Got Three Hours To Kill?

I'm sure you're all sick of me telling you every time I'm on Total Talk Nonsense by now, seeing as I've been on it a lot lately, but this time is different. This week on Episode 234, I am in studio for the second time in order to respond to a listener request that I sing something on the show. So that happens. Additionally we discuss Scott's weekend trip, Riot Fest, the worst songs of the 80's, running, science, an upcoming contest for the listeners, a contest to be judged by the listeners, and when it's ok to go full Marty. But most importantly, to reiterate, I sing live on the show. So, you know, check that out maybe.

I Need To Hang Out With Fancy More Often

In honor of National Coming Out Day today

Me: Wait, "lesbian" is a verb now?

Fancy: Yeah. I lesbian, you lesbian, he/she/it lesbians...

Me: I don't think he lesbians.

Fancy: Well he would if he could.

Monday, October 10, 2011

There's Never A Dull Moment At Riot Fest

Riot Fest was this weekend and the bartender and I attended, as we do every year, because apart from getting to see a whole lot of excellent bands at the one music festival that is indoors, it is also some of the best people watching of the year. This is the same festival where I nearly incited an actual riot by wearing a shirt which read "I should be in the kitchen" last year, and the one where we saw a guy come out of the pit with his eye socket crushed the year before that.

This year we showed up for the last four bands at the Congress on Saturday night. Almost immediately we saw an 18 year old kid walking around in a TSOL shirt and the bartender had his first chance to get his damn-kids-get-off-my-lawn on. "Please, that band broke up before that kid was even born," he lamented (sort of, in that no original members were left after 1990). We headed down to our usual spot (down near the front to the far right of the stage, near the beer and away from the pit, with the rest of the old people) just in time for Strike Anywhere.

Just a note for my friends who don't frequent punk rock shows: the pit is a space generally right in front of the stage where people basically slam into one another on purpose, which is allegedly fun. A circle pit is a space either there or just behind there where these same people frantically run around in a circle while slamming into each other on purpose, and bears a strong resemblance to a stampede of jacked up apes. This is also apparently fun. Anyone can go slam/run around in these spaces BUT it is important to be prepared for the fact that as you are slamming into people, other individuals will also be slamming into you, and you'd better damn well be prepared for it. There are no safe zones in the pit. Those are the rules. This is why I found it hilarious when the weirdo guy with the Santa Claus beard who was standing still in the middle of the circle pit waving his arms like he was directing traffic got noticed by one of the stampeders, who promptly ran directly at him at full speed and knocked him flat on his ass. (Side note to the other people in the circle pit: the reason your circle fell apart is because you started it at the beginning of a four minute long song. No one wants to keep running for four whole minutes. You know the songs. Pick a shorter one next time you assclowns.)

As Leftover Crack took the stage, our safe zone away from the pit was invaded by a lone lunatic, who created a one man pit for himself by pacing back and forth like a lion stalking its prey and intermittently hugging random people while screaming into their face. He was hilarious, but his flailing around reminded me that the bartender hasn't fully recovered from his surgery. Even on the sidelines things can happen, so I took the opportunity to position myself on his left side at a slight angle, so I could be his bodyguard against stray dancers. This came in handy when some girl in a big fucking hurry to get down front decided that she didn't have time to politely slide between people like a normal person and instead came running through the crowd throwing elbows like Kevin fucking Garnett. She got me square in the ribs and I was sore most of the next day.

Suicide Machines were on next (Riot Fest has a history of bands reuniting to play it, which is how I got to see Screeching Weasel a couple years ago) and, while they did rock, they didn't leave us feeling any younger. "Yes, I'm talking to you young lady," the singer said to a girl down front. "ARE YOU READY TO POGO?" Most of the crowd responded by screaming and doing just that. I tested out my readiness for pogoing by bouncing on my toes a little bit. Flakes of rust started falling off my knees and I informed the bartender I was too old to pogo. "Me too," he said, without even bothering to check the status of his knees. He knew.

The headliners of the night were the Descendents, who were absolutely fucking phenomenal. Additionally, I finally felt less decrepit when Milo Aukerman decreed that "Thou shalt not commit adulthood". Given that he bears a remarkable resemblence to my dad I decided to take that to heart.

The Descendents alone would have been worth the cost of admission, but the glory of Facebook came through to make this the best Riot Fest ever by informing me of a secret promotion at Taboo Tabou entitling me to 50% off any vibrator in the store with my Riot Fest ticket stub and/or wristband. You better believe I was all over that. I took advantage of the brilliant weather Sunday afternoon and walked down to procure my very first Lelo for the bargain basement price of $80. Worth it? The only reason I'm typing this post is because I'm recharging it already.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Even More Commericals I Hate

Today is not a good day. Yesterday wasn't so hot either. The good news? I watched a lot of television because of it, and in so doing, became aware of a whole new crop of commercials that I hate. Please enjoy my misplaced rage!

It's popcorn chicken time again at KFC! I love this. It is, in fact, the only time I ever voluntarily eat at KFC. This time around, though, their promotional material for this glorious event is suspect. The premise is not so bad - popcorn chicken is really small pieces of actual chicken, whereas nuggets as found in other fast food establishments is some sort of ground up and reconstituted mish-mash of bits. Therefore popcorn chicken is superior to chicken nuggets. Fine, I'm on board with that. What I'm not down with is their expression of this, i.e. "What part of the chicken is 'nugget'?" I don't know, asshole, what part of the chicken is "popcorn"? Popcorn ain't no body part I ever heard of. I agree that your chicken gets the blue ribbon in this contest of mediocrity, but you can't justify that by claiming the competition's chicken isn't a body part and then naming yours something that is ALSO not a body part. That's an easy mistake to fix - just leave your snarky comment out of the commercial and carry on explaining it without resorting to poorly executed sarcasm that makes no fucking sense. Now pass me the honey mustard and fuck off.

As long as we're doing fast food, let's go over the newest offering from Subway, shall we? The promotion they have going on right now is that all of their foot long subs are $5 throughout the month of October. Neat! Cheap shitty food! Loads of it! What shall we call this too-much-bread-barely-any-meat extravaganza? Oooo I know! How about Anytober? How about no, dickface? That is the worst portmanteau I have ever seen. You're replacing "Oc" with "Any"? That's not even the right number of syllables. Did you think real hard on this one, or did you just use the first stupid idea that popped into your head because it fits in with your already nauseating theme song? It's my favorite month of the year but from a television watching perspective I can't wait for it to be over so I don't have to see this commercial ever again. Anytober. Eat shit, Subway, you already serve it to your customers.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled, less rage inducing advertisements.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Sibling Fight (Except It's With My Best Friend's Sibling, Not Mine)

E-Town: how's the runnin?

Me: there is zero chance i will be ready. or ever do this again
zombies and [H-Town], i keep telling myself. zombies and [H-Town]

E-Town: you're tougher than that
just do a slow jog

Me: it's warm enough this week to go running outside again, so that's a bonus

E-Town: that's good
make me proud of ya

Me: still wish you could make it :)

E-Town: yeah, me too
we can kill them in Indy next year
I might try two of them next year

Me: that's crazy talk. I would potentially be a zombie next year though

E-Town: I'd punch your face if you came near me as a zombie

Me: you aren't allowed to hit the zombies
so nah
imma take all your flags
anyway, home go time. have a great night!

E-Town: I'd hit you.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

MrSteve May Know Too Much

MrSteve called Friday morning for a chat, and ended up getting more than he bargained for (don't worry, he's used to it). Specifically, he got some (slightly) greater detail on my encounters with the stranger than I went into on the blog. Which really just confirmed what he'd already assumed, to wit:

"I kind of figured something happened because that's how you shake hands."

I resemble that remark a bit too much to be offended.