Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Monster from the Land of no return – or, “An Ebor-what?”

Looking through some stuff for my This is Me in ’83 series, I found this:


Scanner cut off the bottom – it’s 9×12 paper – but it’s labeled “Monster from the Land of no return.” My mom wrote “March 1978” on the back in ballpoint pen.

And now look at this picture of the Eborsisk from Willow (1988):


I’m just saying.

January 29, 2013 Posted by | 1970s, 1980s, geek | , , , , , | Leave a comment

This is Me in ’83 – Winter, Western New York

My Uncle Rob and Aunt Becky had their second child – my cousin Justin – in the last few days of 1982, so my family began 1983 with a trip to western New York.


That’s me in the middle, and my brothers, who are on skis. My glasses were of the oh-so-cool-automatically-darkening-outside variety.

I don’t remember if this was in Olean or Portville, New York, although there are photos of us eating pizza from the Portville Snak Shak: the restaurant which introduced me – on a later trip, I think – to the deliciousness of buffalo wings.

My grandpa had made the trip from Ohio, too – I don’t remember if he drove separately, or if grandma was there, or if we all traveled together – and I think I remember him playing pool with Dad and Uncle Rob in a basement room of my aunt and uncle’s house.

This trip was either during the last weekend of winter break, or possibly a bit into January ’83, since I didn’t go back to school immediately due to the Lake Local teachers’ strike.

January 28, 2013 Posted by | 1980s, eighties, Family history | , , , , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week Four

This is what I wrote after putting in last week’s mileage:

Since I’m off tomorrow, the smart thing to do would be to kick off Week Four with another 3- or 4-miler, so I’m not looking at another five-day break between runs. We’ll see how smart I feel in the morning.

Yeah. So the next day (Tuesday, Jan. 22) marked the start of a really cold and windy snap, with highs in the teens and near (or below) zero wind chill temperatures each morning. I didn’t run any weekdays.

Saturday, I woke up to a calm, 23-degree morning, which almost felt like T-shirt weather. Still, after last week’s kind-of-not-fun four-miler, I decided to break this week’s seven-mile goal evenly, using a 3.5-mile route my brother and I have run regularly:


Decent enough start, predictable slowdowns in miles two and three, but enough of a kick over the last half-mile to keep my overall pace under nine minutes. And yes, to some degree, I realize that pouring it on at the end isn’t really, you know, pacing, but hey. One of the nice things about these low-mileage runs is that a good final kick can knock a significant bit off the cumulative pace time.

Take today’s run on the same loop:


The first mile is good – as you can probably figure out, though, from looking at my pace line, it finishes with a big downhill stretch. Mile two was about the same as Saturday, and mile three was a bit faster. I really went after it in the last half mile, though – briefly hitting a 6:25 pace – and during that stretch, my cumulative pace dropped by a full 11 seconds. That left me feeling better about progressing, however slightly, even during what looks to be a fairly predictable two-runs-per-week schedule until spring gets here.



Today’s the 27th, so I’m 2.48 miles ahead of my mileage goal. I’m likely to finish January with these 29.48 miles, unless I go crazy and get a run in before Friday.

January 27, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , | Leave a comment

Disney and Star Wars: When You Wish Upon An ’80s Flashback

Growing up, I had a bedroom with a walk-in closet. Nothing huge – easy enough to touch any two walls at the same time – but big enough that for awhile, I turned it into my writing sanctuary.

I put a folding TV tray table in there, mom’s typewriter, my boom box (the acoustics did wonders for the Top Gun anthem), and loaded the wall-mounted particle-board shelves with inspiration in the form of my Kenner action figures, Matchbox cars, and other assorted stuff. On the walls, I hung paintings from the Star Wars portfolio Mike had given me, some pages torn from Marvel comic books, postcards, and news clippings.

In the mid/late 1980s, as teenagers, this is where my friend Aaron and I wrote and storyboarded our vision for Star Wars: Episode VII.

Cleaning out an old desk this past weekend, I found one of the magazine scraps we had hanging in there:

January 24, 2013 Posted by | 1980s, geek, Ohio, writing | , , , | 1 Comment

Running 2013: Week Three

Since New Year’s Day fell on a Tuesday, my running weeks this year are measured Tuesday through Monday – at least until I find myself on a race training calendar.

Three weeks in, I’m still a bit ahead of my mile-per-day average goal, although so far, the only weekdays I’ve put in mileage have been Jan. 2, when I got up and ran before work, and today, which is one of two vacation days I’m taking this week, since I have some time left to use before my work calendar resets.

I did four miles on Sunday, and it was harder than I had hoped it would be. Maybe it was the wind or the cold (it was just below freezing), or the fact that I’m still re-establishing my running habit, but I really felt like I was working awfully hard just to hit a 9:11 pace. The spike in my pace chart below is where I stopped to tie my shoe – right after I’d come down a steep hill and hit my peak speed.


This morning, I did just over three miles, and felt somewhat better. It was significantly colder – around 20 degrees – but there was hardly any wind. I still had to push the last mile to bring my overall pace under the nine-minute mark, but I was able to sustain the kick for the last three-quarters of a mile or so.


I realize it’s very early in the year, but it feels apparent that if I really want to rebuild my pacing, I’m going to need to drag myself out of bed before dawn at least one day a week, even if it’s just for a couple miles. Since I’m off tomorrow, the smart thing to do would be to kick off Week Four with another 3- or 4-miler, so I’m not looking at another five-day break between runs.

We’ll see how smart I feel in the morning.

Year-to-date mileage:


Since today is Jan. 21, that puts me almost a mile-and-a-half ahead of my goal. (And that second column, after the date? Turns out those are the starting times for each run, and not my pace. Took me an embarrassingly long few moments to realize that the other day.)

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , | 1 Comment

This is Me in ’83 – Introduction and Part One.

Over the Christmas / New Year’s holidays, inspired in part by Alison Haislip’s AliMinus20 Twitter feed , I started thinking back to thirty years ago: 1983.

The original Star Wars trilogy concluded that year. So did M*A*S*HJaws 3-D and A Christmas Story both came out. I wasn’t really into listening to music yet, but that year saw the release of “99 Luftballoons”, “It’s a Mistake”, and “Every Breath You Take,” all of which I eventually owned on cassette, either as part of the entire purchased album or recorded off  MTV using a boombox placed in front of the family room television.

I’m pretty sure sixth grade was the year I finally made it all the way through reading The Lord of the Rings. And in November 1983, I became a teenager.

Point is, it seemed like it’d be a fun year to revisit through pictures and memories and whatever else I can dig up. And as Doc Brown says, 30 years is a nice round number for time traveling.

My plan is to try and unpack these memories over the course of this calendar year, so for starters, here’s about what I looked like three decades back:


When the year began, I was 12 years old and in my first year – sixth grade – at Lake Middle School. This picture is the closest I can get to January of ’83 – it’s actually from late December 1982, and we’re visiting my aunt and uncle in western New York over Christmas break. I’ve used this one because the next pictures of me in our family photo albums don’t show up until March. (Those Capsela kits were awfully freaking cool, by the way.)

Lack of personal photo documentation aside, 1983 did get off to an interesting start: The Lake Local Schools teachers’ union went on strike on January 3 – our first scheduled day back at school following the Christmas break.

My parents kept me home – whether out of support for the teachers, or due to a lack of available busing (this would be less of an issue as the strike continued), I’m not sure. But I remember thinking it was great having an extended winter vacation.

I’m not sure how long it took – a week, maybe? Week-and-a-half? – for mom to get it into her head that I should be doing school-type stuff instead of playing Atari and watching cartoons – but I know that the day she assigned me to write a book report was the last I stayed home. By that point, several of my friends had gone back to school, where substitutes teachers were filling in.

I don’t remember being nervous about walking past the teachers picketing in the parking lot or anything like that. I remember that it felt weird to be back, since a lot of the kids were still staying home, and since the substitutes were kind of more or less winging their lesson plans, which had little to do with whatever it was we’d been working on in December.

Looking through the Canton Repository archives to find out how long the strike lasted, I found this in the January 26th edition:


I remember that day: And yes, I seem to recall having the Fear of the Permanent Record being put into us as far as the penalties for participating in the walkout. There were adults stationed at the building exits, sitting at student desks which had been moved into the hallways for the occasion. In one of my classes, the teacher took attendance and, reaching a gap in the roll, asked if anyone had seen the absent student. “He excaped!” one of my classmates blurted out with vicarious glee.

I believe a couple of the older kids on our street – high schoolers – did participate in the walkout.

The strike ended on Feb. 15. Pictures in the newspaper archives showed the teachers wearing their “TOGETHER WE CAN DID!” buttons, which I had forgotten about. The paper noted that 28 teachers had been arrested over the course of the strike. I have a vague memory of the whispered buzz about this side of things.

Unrelated notes from January and early February 1983:

  • That’s Incredible anchored my Monday night prime-time viewing.
  • Gas hit the $1 per gallon mark in Stark County on Feb. 11
  • The Toy, Airplane II: The Sequel and The Dark Crystal were all still in movie theatres.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | 1980s, eighties, Ohio | , , , | 4 Comments

Running: 2013

I don’t know what race(s) I’ll be running in this year – my brother and I had planned on participating in the Canton Marathon again (although probably not the full run), but at this point, I’m not entirely convinced there’s going to be a 2013 Canton Marathon – but I do know that I need to get back in a running rhythm again.

When I’m training for a race, it’s not an issue: There’s a schedule. I follow the schedule. The miles add up.

When I’m not training, I find it much harder to put in the miles. My goal for this year is to average at least 7 miles per week during those times when I’m not adhering to a training schedule. If I go out two to three times a week, that’s easy, especially since two miles is my minimum distance. At the same time, if I take six days off in a row, I can still get up and cover my week’s worth of running in one shot. (I’d really like to be up in the 10 miles per week range – and if I wind up training for a race, that won’t be a problem – but until the seasons start delivering me some dawn’s early light, it’s tough getting up for solo runs during the week.)

Having fixed my Garmin Forerunner and gotten my new Ubuntu workstation set up, I’ve installed Turtle Sport to track my efforts. (I love the Garmin for pacing, mapping and number crunching, and I liked Endomondo well enough, but the site doesn’t support Linux hookups.)

Here’s what this morning’s run (For the record: It was overcast – and it actually spit rain for just a minute when I set out – but it was also about 62 degrees. Odd for January, to say the least.) looked like by the numbers:


And here’s how it looks on a distance/pace chart:


I don’t wear a heart rate monitor, so the red numbers are irrelevant. I’m always interested, though, in seeing where I speed up and slow down. (Garmin and Turtle Sport do track altitude as well, and while it’s a generally decent indicator of hills, I removed the line from this chart because it doesn’t seem an entirely trustworthy measurement: The starting and finishing altitudes were significantly different, despite the fact that I ran a loop beginning and ending at my driveway.)

The vertical bar with the arrows is a pretty nifty tool, and corresponds to a Turtle Sport map (not pictured) – as you slide the bar along the distance, a red dot moves along the route, showing where you were at any given point.

I’m not near my racing-calendar pace, but if I can keep these short runs averaging below the nine-minute mark while I get back into shape, I’m generally happy with it, and I know the times will get faster with mileage.

So, here’s the year so far:


Date, time, and distance. Since 7 miles a week comes out to a mile a day, and it’s only January 13, I’m ahead of the curve. For now. There’s plenty of winter ahead to mess that up.

January 13, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , | 1 Comment

In Which An Idea is Hinted At

Lake Middle School yearbook - 1983

This is the cover of my 1982-83 Lake Middle School yearbook, just about 30 years old. That’s a nice round number.

January 4, 2013 Posted by | 1980s, Ohio | , , , | 1 Comment

Backstage with Vader and Luke

Finding some odd stuff while cleaning and reorganizing my office. Here’s a newspaper archive photo of James Earl Jones and Mark Hamill:


I love it: It feels genuine.

According to the caption information, it’s New York, September 1987, following a Broadway performance of Fences, which Jones was starring in at the time. (The caption also notes their roles in Star Wars, indicating that the saga connection might be what prompted Associated Press photographer Frankie Ziths to get the shot.)

January 3, 2013 Posted by | eighties, Film, geek, photos | , , , | 2 Comments

What I read in 2012

I only read through 25 books in 2012, compared with 36 in 2011. (And down further from the 38 in 2010, and barely half my 2009 number: 46.) Those books (linked to my GeekDad reviews where applicable) were:

The list does include fewer re-reads than the previous few years, the exceptions being American Gods, the Hunger Games trilogy (read as a psyche-up for the movie), and Revolt on Alpha C, a childhood favorite.

I did specify at the beginning that those are the books I “read through,” because I spent a lot of time in the pages of larger reference-style books, even if I don’t count them as cover-to-cover reads (links, again, to GeekDad reviews):

I also have a monthly Kindle subscription to Lightspeed magazine, which I don’t consume beginning to end every month, but which adds another bunch of short stories and interviews to my count.

I’ll also note that this was my first year owning the Kindle, which led to something that hasn’t happened much to me in the past: Unfinished books. Being able to grab books on the cheap (or for free) made it incredibly easy to load up, and there are several books on the device (or in my Amazon cloud) which I either haven’t started yet or which remain only partially read. Part of it is because I tend to read those when I’m not at home, which is part of the point of the Kindle, after all.

Maybe I’ll put those – plus the ones on the shelf on my new bookcase which I’ve reserved for unread books – at the top of this year’s list.

Once I’ve finished the book I’m reading now, of course.

January 2, 2013 Posted by | Books, Current Affairs, Fiction, geek | , | Leave a comment


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