Sunday, April 25, 2010

my two cents, part II

I've been hearing a lot from readers who say that they really enjoy the blog, but think that "Mad City" should be a little less mad at times. As in, say something good about something for a change! So I've decided that once in a while, I will write something positive.

Today's subject is Martin Strel, a Slovenian endurance swimmer. Maybe you've heard of him: a few years ago, he swam the length of the Amazon in something like 60 or 70 days. He's also swum the Mississippi (yes, from Minnesota all the way down to N'awlins), the Yangtze, the Danube, and I think a few other hella long rivers. Granted, he always goes with the current, but he's still accomplished some pretty amazing things. Especially when you consider that he took up distance swimming after age 45, he's got a healthy pot belly going, and he's kind of an alcoholic.

But really, he's one of the more fascinating characters you'll ever hear about. For instance, he got his start in long-distance river swimming while trying to escape from his abusive father. His father, an even worse alcoholic, was waiting for him to come out of the river to beat him, so Martin just kept on swimming until his father gave up. Martin has a much better relationship with his own son, who used his father's Amazon swim to crusade for better environmental stewardship of the river and the Amazon basin.

So how do I know so much about all this? Well, there's a documentary out now called "Big River Man," all about Martin and his swim. The directing is a little ham-handed at times, but overall it's definitely a fascinating story. If it comes to a town near you, check it out!

And that's ... my two cents.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

my two cents, part I

Tonight I'm introducing another new feature to this blog: My Two Cents. This is a new column, somewhat akin to "Joke of the Day" and "That's Outrageous!", where I voice a strongly-held opinion on some subject or other.

So, tonight's subject is crew. I feel rather strongly about crew. When I was in college, the crew team had some of the most pompous, arrogant people on campus. They all ate together in the vegetarian section of the dining hall, and they'd come strutting out of there afterwards, full of lentil beans and bouillabaisse, like they were the healthiest damn people on the planet.

And who's to deny that crew's a healthy sport? Good aerobic workout. Also good for the biceps. Maybe too good? Is that what bred all the arrogance?

Anyhow, on the rare occasions when these hoity-toity crew people would talk to me, they seemed to have their own strongly-held opinions about ... football players. Now, I never played much football, but I've always enjoyed a good football game and been sympathetic to the cause. But these crew people ... geeaagh. It was all "Football this!" and "Football that!" They did not like football players, and talked ill about their sport.

But here's the thing, as I see it: football is actually a very complex sport. Sure, guys like Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger may be complete cretins, but that doesn't diminish the complexity of football. Look at what happened to Urban Meyer - he was almost done in by the nuances and endless permutations of the sport. So many offensive formations, so many defensive responses; it's not surprising that these college coaches spend 100 hours a week or whatever getting ready.

And meanwhile, do sports come any dumber than crew? Are they not doing basically the same thing as galley slaves? Just pulling an oar over and over again. And they can't even decide for themselves when to go faster or slower - they have a tiny little person, the "coxswain," yell out instructions to them! Even NASCAR requires more intellect.

I never had the guts to say any of this to the crew people in college, because they all had big ol' pipes for arms and were too fit to outrun. But I'm sayin' it now. You hear me, crew freaks? I'm calling you out, bitches! I'm calling total bullshit on your dog-and-pony show! (Except for you, Caroline; I haven't forgotten that you used to do crew. You're A-okay; you're one of the good ones.)

And that's ... my two cents.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

the future is here

Nothing special to report tonight, just that I'm writing this particular entry on my laptop computer in San Francisco. I've never blogged so far from home before, people! I'm feeling very techie at the moment, kind of a dapper man-about-town. Of course, I'm in my hotel room instead of some hip SF coffeehouse. But you know what my fans in Asia say: "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

More about my laptop: it's a honey. An Acer, I think a 10.3 inch. Just a tiny step up from a netbook, but a big enough step to have Windows 7. Haven't figured out all the kinks yet, though. Like, I want to load up an image for this entry, like I normally do. How do I do that on a laptop? Is that what the camera's for? Let's try turning the camera on ... now. Trying to get a picture of myself, blogging on the laptop. It's not working. Damn.

Still, I think I've got a message for the Twenty-Teens: there's a new player in town. He's got a laptop, and he can blog on it. And he's got a cell phone, and even an MP3 player. And an electric toothbrush. Hell, I've had that for like 15 years! The future is here, everyone. It's definitely here.