A few weeks ago, I started reading Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superatheletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. Aside from being hugely entertaining, it’s given me new insight into footwear, particularly athletic shoes. I’ve never bought the latest, most outlandish pairs of sneakers, and now I see my thriftiness has been medically prudent. The heroes of McDougall’s book, a group of fanatical and thoroughly insane ultrarunners, wear shoes so threadbare that they barely cushion their feet from impact. Some of the runners even go barefoot. What’s fascinating is that their feet get stronger because their simple shoes don’t interfere with the natural motion of running. I’ve spent the last two years bumming around in a pair of ratty New Balance sneakers. Who knew I was saving my feet by being too cheap to replace them?
Archive for the ‘Cul de Sac’ Category
When I was a kid, I played softball practically every day during the summer. When I was a teenager, I played basketball practically every day during my lunch period. As an adult, I ride my bike every chance I get…but I realize I’m part of a dying breed. The sports of my youth have been replaced by “the beautiful game” of soccer. The kids in my neighborhood are so enamored with the game that they play makeshift matches in a small park with no field. And they’re not the only ones who are obsessed. Soccer fans have brought the following to the southwest side of Chicago: a state-of-the-art indoor stadium, a brand new outdoor field courtesy of the Park District, a brand new outdoor field courtesy of the YMCA, and a city high school soccer championship. They’ve also brought a Major League Soccer team (and stadium) to the southwest suburbs. Gooooooooooaaaal!
As a childless American, I live blissfully on the periphery of kid culture. I remember the hand-drawn Disney films and syndicated Animaniacs episodes of my youth, but I have only a vague sense of what kids are into these days. As a probable parent, what I hope kids are into are smart animated films like Toy Story 3 and hip live-action programs like Yo Gabba Gabba! But what I suspect kids are into are nearly toxic levels of texting and countless, deafening hours of Radio Disney. There’s no accounting for the taste of toddlers (or kids in grade school), so maybe the best I’ll be able to do with mine is sit them in front of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood from time to time and hope some of it sinks in.
Here’s something that would keep all those darned neighborhood kids occupied during the winter. Every time it started to snow, their parents could send them outside to trap individual flakes under their mittens, melting them in the process. Of course, kids can’t be counted on to cooperate so we’d need a minimum of three children per snowflake in order to keep the sidewalks clear. That would probably add up to trillions of kids per snowstorm, so it might just be easier to pay a few kids $10 to shovel.
I’m also a fan of metal bread-pinching things. I think they’re great…for everything but pinching bread. Call me unsanitary, but when I pick out a dinner roll, I use my hands. It’s the only way I can gauge the texture and temperature of the roll. Tongs are fine for grabbing, but they’re useless for determining quality. They also have a habit of tearing holes in rolls, which can be frustrating, especially when the tear ruins a perfectly browned outer layer. So this Thanksgiving, I’ll leave the bread-pinching instruments where they belong: in the junk drawer where they can be fished out for impromptu bouts of jousting, nose pinching, and remote control grabbing.
Does my preferred brand of cereal tell a story? I’m sure it does, but considering the fact that I eat oatmeal every day, it’s probably a pretty boring story. I don’t even eat Quaker Oatmeal, so there’s no “jolly man in a black hat with white hair” tale to fall back on. There is, however, the tangential story of legions of fruit, sent from afar to spice up my bland microwave oats: the raisins, parched from their time in the sun; the pears, fresh from their tropical vacation; the brown sugar, huddled close to a slice of bread so as not get dehydrated; the blueberries, chilly from their time in the freezer. I’m sure my cereal itself tells the story of health claims that either have or have not been verified by the Food and Drug Administration, but that story pales in comparison to the battalions of toppings.
Is the dog in this strip supposed to be scary? Ferocious? Intimidating? Because as far as I’m concerned, he’s absolutely adorable. He’s enormous (as tall as a fence) and fluffy (as if he had been blow-dried). Playing with this dog would be like wrapping oneself in a warm comforter on a cold winter evening. Actually, it would be more like wrapping oneself in a warm, interactive comforter on a cold winter evening. The dog’s shy posture and bone-shaped chew toy just make him look more playful. Awwww…