Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What I've Been Listening to: December 2011

Bands:

1. Oasis
2. Blur
3. Rush
4. Portugal the Man
5. The Rolling Stones
6. The Beatles
7. Jimi Hendrix
8. The Who
9. The Bluetones
10. The Charlatans

Albums:

1. Oasis - "Be Here Now"
2. Blur - "Parklife"
3. The Who - "Quadrophenia" (remaster)
4. The Charlatans - "The Charlatans"
5. The Bluetones - "A Rough Outline"
6. Mansun - "Kleptomania"
7. The Beatles - "Magical Mystery Tour"
8. The Rolling Stones - "Hot Rocks"
9. Portugal the Man - "Waiter You Vulture!"
10. Jimi Hendrix - Complete Winterland concerts

Songs:

1. Noel Gallagher - "If I Had a Gun"
2. The Charlatans - "Patrol"
3. Primus - "Tommy the Cat"
4. Foster the People - "Helena Beat"
5. Blur - "All We Want"
6. Oasis - "Go Let it Out"
7. Gorillaz - "Stylo"
8. The Rolling Stones - "If You Can't Rock Me"
9. The Charlatans - "Jesus Hairdo"
10. Peter Frampton - "All I Want to Be (Is By Your Side)"



Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Hope Life's a Blur in 2012!



 As you know, I'm a *HUGE* Blur fan (actually, that's probably an understatement...I'm absolutely mad about them). After their reunion tour in 2009, there was a lot of speculation as to what the next step for them would be. But, apart from the excellent retrospective documentary film "No Distance Left to Run," (to which I contributed and got my name in the credits for!) and the one-off single "Fools Day" in 2010, there's been little news on that front.

But within the last few weeks, a flurry of interviews have pointed toward something big in 2012, including a potential tour of the USA (which would be GREAT! I only saw them once, in 2003, so I'd love to see them some more) as well as new music, To top it all off, they're getting a Lifetime Achievement award at next year's Brit Awards in London.  For all of this news and more, check out my Blur webpage, my Blur Facebook page, or my Blur Twitter page.

For multiple reasons, now including Blur, I'm really looking forward to 2012!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Novel Idea

I had started writing a novel in November 2010.  I based it on a bunch of ideas I'd had milling around in my head for the better part of the last decade.  Drawing on my love of horror and vampire books (and no, not Twilight...I read those books and enjoyed them, but I haven't seen the movies, and I don't consider those *real* vampire books), I'm hoping to write a story that involves the supernatural, as well as on more sci-fi and horror aspect, two other genres I also enjoy.

My major influences for the story include classic vampire novels like Dracula (my favorite novel of all time), Carmilla, Varney the Vampyre, the Vampyre: a Tale, as well as newer vampire books like Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles and Stephen King's Salem's Lot.  Speaking of King, his body of work overall, the blending of great stories with supernatural and horror and sci-fi, is something I'm trying to model my approach on.

Getting back to the actual writing of it, I began last year when I tried to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which occurs every November.  About 2/3 of the way through the month, I gave it up as I didn't have the time to write every night.  But new plot ideas and twists kept popping into my head over the following year. I kept notes (Evernote rules...look it up!) and sketched out an outline for the general story and characters.  It reached critical mass about 2 weeks ago when I went back and read what I'd written last year...

...and it was pretty good, if I do say so myself.

I've begun to pick it up again, writing whenever I have the chance, and have fleshed out the story a bit more in my notes.  Right now, my goal is to just write, write, write.  Get everything down onto the page (er, computer screen) and finish all of the first draft writing.  Then, I'll go through it with a fine-toothed comb and edit, revise, correct any inaccuracies/contradictions, and try to tighten up the story.

My eventual goal is to create a story that I'd like to read, and that I think others would like to read as well. Just like with my Blur book(s), it'll get published one way or another. It'd be great to get a real publishing deal, but if I need to self-publish again, I'd be more than happy to do it.

Writing a novel is something I've wanted to do for a LONG time, and I'm finally in the right mindset to get it done, no matter how many months/years it takes me!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Running Off of the Performance Plateau


Anyone who actually reads what I post on here will remember that I've been stuck on a weight-loss plateau for the past 2 months (and counting). After losing 104 lbs, the scale hasn't budged, although my clothes are still getting looser. I've also added weight lifting to my routine, and added muscle adds weight, so that's probably a factor as well.

However, as a runner, there's another type of plateau I've had experience with, and that's what I like to call the Performance Plateau. Basically, I've had a few cases during my months of running where my performance improves to a point and then it seems that, no matter how many additional times I run, it never changes.  Then, suddenly, I'll improve dramatically and begin another upward trajectory toward better running performance.

Case in point: around the end of June/early July, I was stuck running about 2.75 miles per run, and about an 11:30/mi pace. It seemed that no matter how many times I ran, and no matter how good I felt, I could never break through either of these barriers. This went on for weeks, and then ones day, I went for my usual run and noticed that everything seemed easier. I breezed through almost 3.50 miles that day at did it under 11 minutes/mile!  From that moment on, I had broken through that performance plateau and went on to continue to post gradual improvements in my distance and times. 

All of this brings me to my latest breakthrough, which really occurred last night. I had been stuck over the last several weeks running ~5.25 mi each run and at about a 9:20/mi pace (although I had broken 6 miles a couple of runs over the last week and a half).  Four days ago, I had a run where I was able to post a couple of miles during a run that were barely under 9:00/mi, which I was really excited about. I was knocking on the door...

But last night's run, I think, was me busting through the wall and embarking on another upward curve. I ran 5.85 miles last night, but more importantly, I posted an OVERALL PACE under 9:00/mi (8:53/mi to be exact), and apart from my last 2 miles (which were just barely over 9:00/mi), every mile was between 8:30 and 8:50/mile. I felt fantastic and definitely could've run another mile (or more) had it not been getting kind of late (and I hadn't even eaten dinner yet...it was 8:45pm by the time I finished the run!).  But what excited me even more than the way I felt and my performance was the fact that I know now that I'll continue to improve and continue on making myself a better runner.


The only person I'm competing with during any of my runs is myself, but every time out, I want to beat that guy so badly. It's what keeps me motivated and makes me want to keep going out to run (that, and the incredible way I feel, both physically and due to the great natural adrenaline high I get out of it).


As of last night's run, I'm at 314 total miles run since I started on May 28...my goal is to be over 1000 miles run by this time next year, and at an 8:00/mi clip.  But before that, I plan to finish off 2011 strong and get to 375 miles by the New Year, winter be damned!