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Monthly Archives: October 2020

(First published, without illustration, on Facebook, earlier today.)

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There was something important about October 22nd, some significant event in my life, and I couldn’t remember what it was all morning. Now I do. Exactly 30 years ago was October 22nd, 1990. And it was an important day, not for what I did that day, but for what I didn’t do. I didn’t run.

The day before, I was riding high, training for the 1991 Los Angeles Marathon, putting in 40-plus mile weeks, lean and mean. And then about five miles into my run I got a little bit too uncareful, my always-pronated footstrike went awry, and I rolled my ankle, ending up in a heap on the ground. Cried out; made fists; got on hands and knees and then up and onto one foot. Tested a bit of weight on the injured ankle. ZING. YOW. It couldn’t take it, not full weight, not at first.

But run long enough, far enough, and go through things like shin splints and hip pointers, back spasms and side stitches, scrapes and bruises and Feet Full O’ Blisters, and to some extent pain becomes something you see on your mind’s monitor. Technical information. With the ankle that monitor was showing the pain as a slowly decreasing variable with additional beta-endorphins on the way, and the readout was blinking GET ICE ASAP.

Fortunately I was close to work and able to hobble there in short order. Our firm, Aim-Safe, Inc., the family safety-equipment business, had something even better than ice: Cold Packs. Break a seal inside the pack and the endothermic chemical reaction quick-colds the pack, and it’s much more conforming to the injury than a bag of ice.

My foot elevated, the cold pack doing its job, I called Joni, my wife. “I hurt myself,” I said, and asked if she would pick me up at the store. She dropped everything and hurried over, and while she was en route I yielded.to a bit of self-indulgent, self-pitying sobbing.

See, I didn’t know how badly I was hurt. It didn’t seem to be broken, but it was already impressively swollen. Tomorrow there’d be an enormous bruise. What about the Marathon? Was I out?

Here’s what makes October 22nd such an important day. I made a deal with myself on the 21st that during the next four days, no matter how much I felt the counterintuitive urge, I would not put a single ounce of weight on my injured foot. I would stay home from work and I would crawl to the bathroom. I would pretend that Christian Science, which my late grandmother Caroline had practiced, was real and would aid in swift healing. And on the fifth day, October 26th, I would put on my running gear and see what happened.

So 30 years ago today a running streak was broken, and what little I learned from my mother of the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy flitted through my mind. And I imagined the little corpuscular construction crew clearing away debris and rebuilding.

On October 26th I dressed and got to my feet. Ow, but not OW. And I went out and walked, and it seemed to calm the Ow down. After about a quarter mile I started striding, and at about half a mile I began VERY VERY CAREFULLY running. The running wouldn’t count unless I went at least a mile. I managed to go a mile and a half.

The next day, after babying my foot all day, I went out again. This time I was able to do two and a half miles before that mind-monitor edged its needle toward the Red/Danger mark.

And the next day I went five and a half miles. I was back. And to stay back, I literally stayed on track, using the reliable surface of the Phoenix College composition track, which had a nice bit of give/sponginess to it.

And on March 3rd, 1991, with Muhammad Ali high on a platform by the starting line smiling and waving at us, I and at least 10,000 others began our 26.2-mile purgatorial run. I finished the race in a little under 4 hours and 34 minutes, slighly spacey but triumphant. And I ran the next day, and the next, putting together a daily In Sickness and In Health running streak that lasted 576 days.

Today I’m watching THE COLOR OF MONEY. Fast Eddie Felsen, played to perfection by Paul Newman, has just been humiliatingly hustled by a young punk, played to perfection by Forest Whitaker. Eddie then sends Vince and his girlfriend, played to perfection by Tom Cruise and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, respectively, packing. Then Eddie gets his eyes checked, gets some aviator-style prescription glasses, and spends endless hours at the pool table, doing exercise drill after drill after drill. And then and only then does he start Hustling again.

It’s NEVER too late, Friends, to Do Something Great. But the sooner you make that first move toward Greatness, the better!

It it perhaps due to this one man, born in Italy on this day in 1897, that there are many more Italian restaurants than French restaurants across America. (There were many more French restaurants than Italian when he started his in Ohio in the late 1920s.) Rest in Peace, rest in Power, and rest in Pasta, Chef Boy-Ar-Dee!

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Much of what is wrong with American politics is unfolding for view during the confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice. I will not name the nominee here, because, according to the Republican Party of 2016, who are pushing this confirmation through as fast as they can, this confirmation shouldn’t even be taking place. This is an election year, GOP2016 said, and we must let the people decide. One of their number, Lindsey Graham,went so far as to say that if the Republicans were in power in 2020, and a vacancy for the court occurred before the election, there ought to be no NOMINATION, let alone Confirmation, until Inauguration. (Odd rhythm to that phrase!) “Use this against me!” he said. And now he’s betrayed his old self, and the country as well.

But it’s not all him, nor them. Why wasn’t a BIPARTISAN APPEAL made to honor the memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by a sincere attempt to select a candidate that both parties could live with–and THEN wait for the election to be over and the Inauguration to take place? RBG, who fought so valiantly for all of us, had stated as her dying wish that she did not want her replacement to be nominated until after the inauguration. Surely in all the land, there is at least ONE lady or gentleman who would have filled the bipartisan-acceptance bill, and then there would be no need for a pre-election rush. Alas, as far as I can tell, no such attempt was made.

2020 1021 rbg

Robbing graves, Republicans?
Reneging and then Blaming?
Retribution rears its head–
Repent, or there’ll be Shaming.

When I was a young father and my child was a toddler, something often happened after her bath. Her mother would swaddle our child in a towel and call out “Is the Bundle Receiver ready?” and I would answer “READY. Where’s…BUNDLE?”

My child, looking a little like a nomad. would walk into the living room. “HERE’s Bundle!” she would chirp.

“WHAT is your Pleasure, Bundle?”

“TWIRL.”

“Is…Butt…adequately covered?” At this, she would do a quick about-face and reveal that her hindquarters were, indeed, covered.

“Very well. I shall SCOOP you UP.” And I would sweep her off her feet into my arms and, slowly at first, spin around, and as I went faster and faster, I would say “OooooooooooohhhhhHHHHHH…..WHEEEEEEEEEEEeeee…” until I had gone as fast as Safety would allow. She would be giggling like crazy. I would slow, slow some more, and then stop, much in the manner of a Merry-Go-Round. Then I’d carefully set her on her feet and we would both wander in a dizzy slight stupor.

Naturally, when the Inktober prompt turned up Dizzy, I thought of this cherished father-daughter ritual, and the page practically drew itself.

2020 1019 inktober dizzy

Flytrap, trapdoor, shut your trap, Trappist monk, claptrap, you can Rhomb Us but you can’t Trap a Zoid–got Trap trapped in the echoey confines of my brainpan. A labyrinth, an ambush, a spider’s web, a roach hotel, the human body itself–Traps are everywhere. They might keep us agile; they might keep us from Freedom.

2020 1018 inktober trap

Here is an odd approach to an image: quote some song lyrics, and illustrate something related to the lyrics but not directly illustrative of the lyrics. I did the drawing first, and then heard the song in my head, and realized that the last words of the song would add a touch of Storminess to the page.

2020 1017 inktober storm

This time around I decided to have a little fun with some mid-20th-century examples of rocketry, and find other, non-rocketry examples of things with similar names. It’s a good drawing EXERCISE, but not necessarily a good DRAWING, but later drawings will I hope be better because I went through these motions today.

2020 1016 inktober rocket