Thursday, July 31, 2008

jack kerouac's american journey: the real life odyssy of "on the road" book review

i will read just about anything on the beat generation, specifically material on jack kerouac or allen ginsberg. "jack kerouac's american journey: the real-life odyssey of on the road,"by paul maher, jr., caught my attention for two reasons. first, the author had already written a full-length kerouac biography, "kerouac: the definitive biography," which i read - and would recommend without reservation. he also published, "empty phantoms: interviews and encounters with kerouac," which is on my bookshelf, but i haven't read it yet. so maher certainly has the bona fides to write about kerouac!

and, second, i picked it up at the strand annex at 50% off as part of it's going out of business clearance sale. even with the substantial price discount, this book was a disappointment. it was carelessly put together and contained too many FACTUAL errors, in addition to simple typos, to ignore. early on, maher incorrectly refers to the unpublished manuscript, "and the hippos were boiled in their tanks," by it's earlier and REJECTED title. "i wish i were you: the philip tourian story!" this work, co-written with william s. burroughs (they each, in turn, wrote alternating chapters) covered the murder of david kammerer by lucien carr. that mistake was so glaring that i repeatedly had to reread the sentence in an effort to figure out what maher could have been up to?!

then there were the comical ones. when neal cassady was expecting his FIRST child, maher wrote he was expecting his FIFTH child. while cassady may have fathered five children, there are only three he had with carolyn cassady and one with diane hansen. this was, i hope, a simple typo. but glaring mistakes like these seriously undermine confidence in this book.

substantively, maher recounts the real genesis of on the road: the multi-year process of road trips and the various efforts kerouac made recording them and, then, slowly molding the raw material into what would become "on the road." while the myth that "on the road" was written in one long benzedrine high still has legs, no serious kerouac fan (much less, scholar) take it seriously.

skip this book. instead, read the "road chapters" of ANY kerouac biography (even maher's own) and it will be a much more rewarding experience.

check out paul maher's "on the road: the original scroll"

next up: back to running - haruki murkami, "what i talk about when i talk about running," has finally been released!

cheech & chong "light up america" tour: reunited after 25 years!

wow - or should i say "hey man" - cheech & chong are back together again! after an acrimonious split way back in 1985, the comic duo have finally reconciled and announced tour plans - which will bring them to the new york area in october!

looking fit and dapper at the press conference (hardly betraying their ages of 62 and 70, respectively), they looked no worse for the wear - if one believes they partied all those years apart. tommy chong did do time for selling bongs - of all things! but he did continue with standup comedy, find time to write a few books, and play "leo" on "that 70's show." cheech marin took a more mainstream path with movies and ongoing t.v. roles on "nash bridges" and "judging amy."

but together, their comedy work - including albums and movies - was incredibly successful. they won a grammy for best comedy album in 1973 for "los cochinos" and their first movie, "up in smoke" in 1978 was took in over $100 million at the box office! as a teenager, my friends and i went to see late shows of that, and their subsequent ones at the brighton beach theatre.

but the 70's are back in full swing again it seems. just last week mtv announced it would remake, for cable, "the rocky horror picture show." and as teenagers we took the brighton line into the city to catch midnight shows of that movie at the eighth street playhouse! i can just see the plans for the musical version already percolating out there!

in the meantime, i'm hoping to score tickets to this reunion tour. not sure if any of my friends or family will want to be seen with me for that one - ha!

update: check out tommy chong's appearance at the bryant park book reading.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

laurence fishburne in "thurgood:" theatre review

last night, pat and i went to see laurence fishburne in "THURGOOD," at the boothe theatre. this was our second one-man show in as many months, following up on "the bully pulpit: quality time with teddy roosevelt," at the beckett theatre last month. "bully pulpit" set the bar pretty high, as far as one-man shows can go. fishburne, as and 80+ year old thurgood marshall, easily leaped that bar and reset it even higher! fishburne was in complete command of the stage during the entire 90 minute (w/out intermission) performance!

i'll admit, upfront, that thurgood marshall is one of my favorite legal minds of the 20th century. i eagerly looked forward to this show, especially after the positive reviews it received in previews.
ever since i read "simple justice," the powerful history of brown v. board of education, in college 25+ years ago, i have been in awe of his legal skills. the litigation strategy he and charles houston adopted that avoided a direct challenge to the constitutionality of "separate but equal" and, instead, insisted on "equal" facilities - gave local government a very expensive price tag if they insisted on separate facilities - was truly revolutionary. to this day i still recommend "simple justice" to law students and young lawyers starting out on a career in litigation!

i'll also add that i was as an intern for a good friend of thurgood marshall, the honorable constance baker-motley, during law school in the late 1980's. she occasionally share stories of thurgood's adventures with us! and, in yet another small world connection, this one-man play had its premier at the westport county playhouse - pat's hometown in connecticut!

as to the play itself, aside from the towering presence of fishburne, the only major prop on stage is a HUGE conference table and handful of chairs, set in front of a rocky american flag which doubles as a screen that has images projected on it during the play. he portrays a thurgood marshall in his 80's, giving a lecture at howard university. the monologue is far-reaching, starting with his childhood and runs through his significant legal cases, personal life, appointment as solicitor general and, finally, his years on the supreme court. it was a masterful performance and fishburne returned to the stage afterwards to acknowledge the audience's thunderous standing ovation!

rush to see this one because there are only a few more performances left before the limited engagement ends!

a must read for anyone interested in history of civil rights: the revised and expanded edition of "simple justice."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

new york city half marathon race report

up until race morning, i really wasn't sure i'd be able to complete the new york city half marathon. i was so happy to round out the 20 member world lung foundation team, that i didn't stop to worry about the mileage i planned to run the day before. even as i picked up my race packet on friday, only a couple of hours before the drive up to wakefield, ma, for the 24 hour around the lake ultra, it still hadn't sunk in. but on saturday afternoon, after covering 60 miles in 17 and a half hours, as i hobbled down my driveway and dragged myself up the two porch steps - i suddenly had doubts!

the prospect of finishing seemed even more remote when i woke up at 4:30 to the sound of rain splattering against my window. not only did the rain linger until emmy arrived at 5:20 for the drive in (she would run the last 5 miles, from central park to battery, with me) but we were treated to some seriously menacing bolts of lightening driving down the hutch! but by the time we parked on lexington avenue the rain had stopped, and things didn't look as gloomy. in fact, by the time i met up with my wlf teammates at 88th and 5th, i was positively upbeat!

yvette handed us each and orange short sleeve tech shirt with "i'm running to save a child from asthma" on the front and the wlf logo on the back. given the 70 degrees and 90% humidity, it was a bit much under the circumstances - a singlet would have been too much! but the point was to raise awareness, so i had no problem wearing it. no sooner than i had it on, that i discovered the batteries in my camera needed to be changed! this really dampened my mood - aside from having put in what i thought were fresh batteries before i left the house, now i wouldn't be able to take any pictures!

but i asked emmy if she had extras, and she said she'd have fresh batteries when i met up with her exiting central park. i managed a couple of shots with the week batteries, then headed over to the baggage truck to drop off my stuff. then i made my way over to my corral. i was even happier to learn that my 976 was in the first corral (numerical instead of color coded)! i ran into a bunch of my former wtc teammates there. still, was it's been a while since i ran a 1:30 half, so i could have lined up a few corrals back.

i managed two more pictures before the batteries officially died! then after a few brief remarks, we were off! luckily, the first mile is an easy downhill - it would be my fastest mile of the morning in 7:54. my plan was to simply run until i couldn't, then walk it in if i had to. actually, i wanted to run the 7 miles in central park, then take my time heading down to the battery so i could snap a few photos along the way. just past the 5k mark i spotted the wlf team cheering us on - that was a morale boost! all together, i acquitted myself well in central park. while i walked a portion of the harlem hills, i still managed a 54:26 at the 10k split!

here are my central park splits:

8:26 16:20
8:49 25::09
9:03 34:12
9:33 43:45
8:51 52:36
8:32 1:01:08

half-way thru mile 7 the runners exit central park onto seventh avenue. it was disappointing not to hear "welcome to the jungle" - the musical highlight of my 2006 race. but seeing emmy and greg there more than made up for it. in fact, emmy had fresh batteries! i was back in the picture-taking business and i had a pacer! for me, running down seventh avenue and across 42nd street is what makes this event unique.

the next three miles were a blur of urban landscape, dotted by photo ops...

11:36 1:12:44
10:34 1:23:18
9:24 1:32:43

on the west side highway, with only 5k left to go, i asked emmy if she could run it in at a 9 minute pace. she said go ahead, bring it in under 2 (hours). so i pushed the pace, and did a series three progressive fast miles:

9:10 1:41:53
8:40 1:50:33
8:19 1:58:52
0:50 1:59:42

i just managed to squeeze in under 2 hours - ego can be such a powerful motivator - haha. after crossing the finish, nyrr handed out cold, wet towels - great idea! i collected my bag and then we slowly made our way into battery park to reunite with the wlf team. another great post-race treat was the jambo juice. but was it my imagination, or were there no bagels? even so, i was more than happy with my apple and pretzels.

next year, rumor has it, this race will be move to the late spring! either way, i'll be back (sorry arnold)!

check out the race photos.
check out the wlf team photos.

check out emmy's race report.
check out pam's race report.

Monday, July 28, 2008

24 hour around the lake ultra: race report

last year this event was cut short by a few hours because of severe thunderstorms - we ran for 17 and a half hours instead of the full 24. it turned out this year i also ran for only 17 and a half hours, not because of the weather but rather logistical issues. i didn't mind cutting it short since i was running the nyc half marathon the next day and didn't look forward to the prospect of getting home at midnight, only to wake up at 4 a.m. for the trip into nyc. in addition, emmy's son was coming home from his trip to guatemala that night and emmy had to switch over from ultrarunner to soccer mom and get over to the airport.

while i didn't plan on the shorted running time frame, it worked out well. i actually ran an extra loop (19 instead of 18) in the same time - and this year i took a 30 minute power nap just before dawn. so, performance-wise, i did a bit better than my 2007 result. but i've gotten ahead of myself. normally the trip to boston from westchester takes about 3 hours, so emmy planned to pick me up at 2:30. which, we thought, gave us plenty of time to reach wakefield before the 7 p.m. start of the race. i what was, in hindsight, a less than intelligent plan - i put in a half day at the office and then went to the nyc half marathon expo to pick up my race packet before i hope on the metronorth home.

in the hour i had before emmy arrived, i packed up my race stuff, made myself some lunch, and packed some extra food (peanut butter and nutella sandwiches) for the trip. then we hit the road. it's hard to overstate how close we came to missing the start because of endless bumper to bumper traffic along the entire stretch of the merritt parkway and, then, the stretch of i-95 to wakefield itself, after wer exited the mass turnpike! it was downright surreal watching 3 huge flatbed trucks move the components to a modular house down i-95 FASTER than we ourselves progressed! a straightforward 3+ hour drive took almost 4 and a half hours!

but luck was with us because we arrived at 6:50 - right in the middle of the pre-race briefing taking place in the middle of the parking lot. emmy managed to squeeze the car into a less than ideal parking spot while i jumped out and grabbed our bibs. the race director, who we had kept apprised via cellphone calls of our excruciatingly slow progress, had already set them aside for us. i quickly switched into my running shoes, made a quick bathroom stop (the first time i ever encountered porta-johns w/out lines before a race!), and actually snapped a picture of the runners assembled for the start! ten minutes never flew by so quickly!

the great rush to begin on time was turned on it's head when we took the first loop very SLOW! the drive had been so exhausting, and the day so long for me already, that i needed the first loop to decompress! so i took my camera along with me and used the opportunity to take pictures of the course before the sunset. the first time around took 48:17! the second loop, without camera took 27:26 - way too fast. the cumulative 1:15:44 for the 6.32 miles was about 12 minute pace. maintaining a 15 minute per mile pace, spread over the 24 hours, would cover 100 miles!

still, after the second loop, i didn't suspect it would be almost SEVEN hours before i saw emmy again! in fact, once separated on the 3.16 mile loop, it's not easy to reconnect with anyone. while one person is completing a loop, the other may be at the halfway point on the other side of the lake - more than a mile and a half away at the time. i caught sight of my friend andy during that period and asked him if he had seen emmy. yes, he had passed her on a downhill he replied. "how long ago was that?" "oh, about 2, maybe 2 and a half hours ago," he said! the passage of time takes on a new dimension in these events!

during that time i would stop at the car, where we had our supplies laid out, and could see she had been there. last year, a benefit of arriving early, we had a great spot alongside the grass field fronting the lake. rob and emmy had set up a great camp site - which included folding chairs and a spread out blanket to lay down on. we had a folding chair, but the parking lot surface - blanket or not - wasn't an attractive option. later that night, when the marathoners finished and the lot thinned out, emmy moved the car to a better spot alongside the grass and repositioned our stuff.

here are my splits for the first 22 miles (which came in just under 5 hours).

27:26:46 1:15:44
32:21:59 1:48:05
43:15:97 2:31:21
41:47:46 3:13:09
47:08:83 4:00:18
1:01:39 5:01:57

at that point, just before midnight, i call home to check in with pat. she and a friend from work had gone to a jazz club to hear david sanchez play earlier that night. i also ate a couple of the hard boiled eggs i had brought along, w/a healthy dose of kosher salt. aside from that much needed protein and sodium, i hadn't eaten much of anything during those loops. one reason for my lack of appetite may have been consuming all that food during the car ride up!

it took a few more loops before i worked up a meaningful hunger. it also took another 2-3 loops before i finally met back up with emmy. after her tenth loop she moved the car and repositioned most of our stuff. when i finished that loop, which was my eleventh, i noticed the car was missing and in it's place sat emmy in the folding chair! so i grabbed the chair and we took the rest of the stuff over to the new location. from that point on we ran the rest of the race together. the high point of the early morning hours had to be the honey dew donut shop!

this place stuck in my memory from last year - aside from the great donuts - it was a strange scene to witness a posse of motorcyclists hanging out in the parking lot of this place. that very image was replayed during the early hours of the race - until closing time. sometime around 3 in the morning so other runners mentioned that honey dew would reopened at 4 a.m. - which prompted emmy to say she would get us some coffee. so midway thru my 12th loop (emmy's 11th) she detoured over there for a couple of cups. then, in an almost comic outcome, after i finished my coffee, fatigue suddenly swept over me!

i told emmy when we got back to the car i was going to grab a quick nap. instead of laying out on the damp grass, however, i slept sitting in the front seat of the car. emmy, laid out in the back seat, also rested. after 30 minutes i felt recharged and was ready to move out. emmy made one more stop at honey dew for her second cup of coffee and we continued on. at that point emmy decided she wanted to reach 50 miles (16 loops) before calling it a day. i wanted to at least cover my prior mileage (56.88) and maybe push on a bit further.

here are my splits for the next 7 loops:

34:21:47 5:36:19
49:34:29 6:25:53
1:02:58 7:28:52
1:12:43 8:41:35
1:26:54 10:08:30
1:35:13 11:43:43
48:00:95 12:31:44

despite the sleep time and the quick side trips to honey dew, i was actually ahead of my 2007 pace! granted, in 2007 i was sidelined with a major blister during the early morning. but this was good news. we also ran my 11th and emmy's 10th loop with fellow marathon "maine-iac" david. he had just run the cranberry island 50k the last weekend and filled us in on the details - as well as the mount desert island marathon. two events i'd like to fit on my race calendar.

i'm not sure if it was the thought of finishing faster, or just getting this thing over with, but the next few loops (after my hearty "breakfast" of coconut crusted honey dew donuts - which the race organizers had provided for us) went by quickly:

1:18: 51 13:50:36
40:59:19 14:31:35
56:00:93 15:27:36

at that point, i had finished 17 loops and emmy 16 (50.56 miles), she called it a day. in fact, emmy's priority now was to jump into the hotel pool. but as i finished my 18th loop i was amazed to find emmy sitting in a homemade ice bath - on the back of a pick-up truck! it was such a sight that i actually stopped and fished my camera out of the car to take pictures of her splashing around in it! then, afterwards, she also managed to take a dip in the pool! amazing!

on the race front, my 18th loop took 52:20:22, for a cumulative 16:19:56. it was an entire hour faster (including the sleep break) than it took me to cover the same distance last year - 17:20:22!! that made me smile, gave me a small adrenaline rush, and pushed me to do another (very slow) loop. my 19th and final loop took 1:09:47 and i finished 60:04 miles in a whopping 17:29:43. i had toyed with the idea of trying to squeeze out one more to cover 100k, but i didn't want to tempt fate at that point. save something for the half the next day.

for comparison purposes, the drive home took just 3 hours - instead of the almost 4 and a half it took to drive to wakefield. timing is everything!

check out the race photos.

pam's new york city half marathon race report: guest post

this is pam's second half marathon in one month! i'm so happy to post her race report from the nyc half yesterday. last month we ran the fairfield half marathon and she contributed a great race report. in between these two races, she ran a hilly 8 miler (w/ilana) at the putnam county classic!
next month, we'll be lining up for the catskill mountain 100k relay. tentatively, each member of our 5 person team will be responsible for covering 20k of the distance. but more on that later. right now, enjoy the race report!
NYC/Nike ½ Marathon Race Report
My adventure in running yesterday’s NYC Half Marathon began a few months ago when I convinced my good friend Ilana that she was ready to run her first Half Marathon. So, we both entered the lottery - - - Ilana got in but I did not. Uh oh! In came Frank to the rescue with the suggestion that I join the World Lung Foundation’s team and run with a great group of people. I am so glad that I did. As a team we raised well over $10,000 for a great cause.

Last week as the event drew close I came down with a trio of physical issues - - - strep throat, sinus infection and an ear infection. The trio really knocked me out all week. I was very concerned that I wouldn’t be strong enough for race day. But, all worked out ok after getting some antibiotics.

The night before the race Ilana and I spent the night in NYC with her friend Jenny and Taya. We had an awesome pasta dinner at Sotto Cinque (87th and 1st) and then early to bed.
Ilana and I awoke to thunder, lightning and an annoying light drizzle. We walked across town to meet the World Lung Foundation team and do the drop bag thing. We weren’t allowed into the park initially because of the lightning. That cleared eventually and most precipitation ended just before the start.

Ilana and I were in the 6000s group. We worked our way up to our assigned corral, got on line for the port-o-johns and stretched. Ilana was getting in the zone/mentally geared up, soaking in the surroundings as she acclimated to her first really big race. I had done one other race of this size so it wasn’t all that new to me - - - I was more worried about having the strength to pull off an under 2 hour goal, Before the race Ilana and I had talked a lot about what her target finish time should be. We had decided on about 2:10 given the anticipated humidity and that it was her first half marathon. But, I knew she had an under 2 hour capability and that was what I was aiming to pace her at.

The race started and we walked until our coral got closer to the start. I was amazed at how quickly we got up to speed approaching the start. We were at our race pace stide even before hitting the starting line. It was crowded for quite some time, but we were at our 9:04 pace after the first mile. Right on schedule.

Ilana and I tackled the hills of Central Park very aggressively - - - typical for our approach to racing (we’ve done numerous races side by side). We bobbed and weaved our ways through the running pack, bumping elbows enough times that eventually we stopped apologizing to each other. Our energy fed off of each other beautifully. We kept hydrated and felt pretty good during the lap plus around the park. By the time we exited the park (at mile 7.25 or so) we were down to an average pace of 8:45.

As we exited the park and hit 7th Avenue we both expected to feel this great sense of relief to be on wide open streets, to hear the crowds and to know it was flat to slightly down hill from there. But, somehow, hitting 7th Avenue was like hitting a brick wall for both of us. We didn’t discuss it at the time, but we both had led legs by then - - - perhaps we tackled the park too aggressively.
As we ran down 7th Avenue we tried hard not to look at the street signs. We grabbed cold wet sponges, Gatorade at nearly every aid station and a Power Gel as well. As I turned onto 42nd Street I had the oddest sensation for the middle of a race - - - I suddenly wanted to go shopping. I’ve never been in Times Square when I wasn’t shopping! But, all I had was $10 tucked in my fanny pack - - - wouldn’t have gotten me much, plus I had this 2 hour time limit thing I was working against!

As we turned onto the West Side Highway it hit me mentally the distance we still had to travel - - - not in miles but conceptually having to still pass all the landmarks between 42nd street and the Battery. I was so spent. I guess the week of not feeling well had really taken its toll. My legs felt like led. My breathing was labored. I was dizzy and had a headache. So, Ilana and I started to walk for 30 seconds at each fluid station while rehydrating with Gatorade or water. That pattern really helped especially since there were so many fluid stations in that 4 mile stretch. Smart race management!

I kept looking at my watch. We were still under our 2 hour target but were now at about an 8:50 pace. So, we kept pushing forward as hard as we could. As we crossed over the 11 mile mark it occurred to me that we were in uncharted territory for Ilana - - - she hadn’t yet run more than 11 miles. So, I kept checking on her to make sure she was hanging in there. She was doing amazing. She really kept it together, ran a smart race in terms of managing hydration and keeping pace with me. For the last 2.1 miles I fed off the energy of helping my friend smash her 2:10 goal and ran harder just to make sure that we even smashed my 2:00 goal for her.
As we approached 800m left I thought … ugh! Two laps around the track seemed like an eternity. Then, at 200m we saw a man collapsed in the middle of the road. EMTs were tending to him and things didn’t look too serious. But, it was still unnerving.

In typical Ilana fashion, we sprinted for the last 100m and crossed the finish line holding hands gripped high in the air. 1:57:49 - - - two minutes to spare. I can’t wait to see the professional picture of our crossing. We were both totally spent at the finish but also invigorated by the achievement.

We wound our way through the finishing chute to find Ilana’s husband Matt, some water, wonderfully refreshing wet towels and grabbed a professional photo of the two of us. Then, we made our way to baggage pick up and the festival area at Battery Park where we hooked up with the rest of the World Lung Foundation team. We sat through the awards ceremeony and skedaddled out once the monsoon rains hit.

All in all - - - an amazing day. Wasn’t my strongest half marathon but it was my best by far. I ran with a great friend, helped her achieve her goal, overcame feeling like garbage all week, made some new friends (thanks Jenny and Taya! And the WLF team) and raised money for a great cause.

Sorry for rambling on … but hope you enjoyed my NYC/Nike Half Marathon tale. Hope to see you all out there next year!
check out the race photos.

mad men, second season opener review: guest post

once again, i'm so happy to have another of pat's reviews to post. this one, especially since she is a big fan of the series mad men (and i guess now we should slip in women? thanks to peggy's modest promotion? - but i'll leave the commentary to her). she actually watched the preview of this episode last month, but was under strict orders not to give away any details until it actually aired last night! in the meantime, she wrote up a brief summary of season one, which is now part one of this post!

so for mad men fanatics, head straight over to part two! otherwise, sit back and enjoy a great read - even if i do say so myself!


The Beginning of Mad Men's Second Season


Okay, so I'm addicted to Mad Men. Everyone gets addicted to something, even a little bit. Even if it's a mild, or short-lived, or harmless addiction, it's still something that you put aside everything else to do. I have to admit, though, that I did not expect to get addicted to it, back four or five years ago, when my college roommate Linda told me, over a lingering lunch in lower Manhattan, about what her husband Matt was working on. I was a history major in college and am a huge JFK fan, so the concept of setting a television show back in the 1960s appealed to me. And I vividly remember seeing and hearing how excited Linda was about it, so I figured it had to be good. I just wasn't sure that I would care too much about a bunch of ad executives who drank too much, had affairs and were always making sexist comments (that's all I remember about the basic concept back then).

So here I am now, enthralled with the show. I am going to try to make this short (or at least short-ish) and punchy. Here goes!

Part One - A look back at the first season

Below is a little synopsis of what you need to know about Mad Men, in broad strokes, without the finesse and polish with which Matt tells the story. Bear in mind that I am writing this off the top of my head, so some of the details might be a little off. Still, it's just to give you the gist of the story. Anyway…

Don Draper, our "hero," sort of, is a 36-year-old guy who had a rotten childhood. He was born "Dick Whitman," the son of a prostitute and a married man. The prostitute died during Dick's birth, so the boy was taken in by his father and the father's wife. When Dick was young (maybe 6 or 8?), his dad died and his dad's wife got remarried to a nasty man. Don was raised as the son of these two "sorry" people but treated really badly. Dick's younger brother worshipped him (I think). When he was a young man, maybe 18 or 20, Dick joined the army and was sent to Korea. There, he was sent on a mission with a commanding officer named Don Draper, who was killed right near Dick and was badly burned. Dick watched the man die and switched dog tags. Voila, he is now Don Draper, and the dead man is Dick Whitman.

Don is assigned to deliver the dead body of "Dick Whitman" to Don/Dick's family. Don does not want his family to know he is alive, so he allows another officer to speak to his sort-of mother and father while Don stays back inside a train car, watching the scene. Don's little brother looks up into the car and, seeing Don, yells, "I see Dick! I see Dick!" The little boy's parents don't see Don and so assure the little boy that Dick is dead, in the casket.

At some point, probably in about 1952 or so, Don meets Betty, who is a model in NYC. Don is doing advertising for a fur company and woos Betty by giving her a fur coat. In a New York minute, Betty is pregnant and Don proposes (or maybe it was the other way around). They end up having two kids, first a girl (is it Janie?), who is about 8 years old during the first season, which is set in 1960, and then a boy, who is about 5 years old.

In Season One, Don is balancing his career as an ad executive at Sterling Cooper and his love life, which consists of two affairs and his relationship with Better. Don is initially cheating on Betty with a woman who is a free spirit, sort of a beatnik, or a beatnik-to-be. Don is not in love with her, but enjoys her company until he realizes that she is actually in love with a younger guy she is spending a lot of time with. Don soon moves on to a businesswoman who owns a department store and is a client of Sterling Cooper. Don is supposed to charm her to get her business, but they end up connecting emotionally and he opens up to her, telling her about his childhood and contemplating a life with her, somehow.

Meanwhile, over the course of Season One, Betty comes to realize that Don is cheating on her. She seems to be pretty clueless until the last episode, when her best friend cries on her should about how her husband is cheating on her. Betty finally puts it all together and realizes what Don is up to.

Back at the office, Don's boss, Roger Sterling, who is married and has one teenage daughter from whom he feels estranged, is having an affair with Joan, the head secretary. When Joan goes away for the long Labor Day weekend, Roger and Don pick up two women who were auditioning for a job at the agency and Roger fools around with her in the office, late at night. While having sex with her, Roger has a heart attack and almost dies. Almost immediately, he has some sort of epiphany - - that he loves his wife - - and, a few weeks later, breaks it off with Joan. (Joan, by the way, spend Labor Day with her roommate, who confesses her love for Joan in a ladies' room. Joan coolly ignores this major revelation and goes on with her life as if the roommate had never said a word about it.)

If Don is our male hero, then Peggy Olson is our female hero. She starts out Season One as Don's new secretary from Bay Ridge. She is quite prim and proper. Or so we think. On her first day - - or at some point during her first week - - she has a back-and-forth with slimy Pete, a young ad man who is obnoxious and sexist and about to get married. On the night before his wedding, he goes out to a bar with his work pals and is rebuffed by a woman in the bar. Drunk, he shows up at Peggy's apartment and she invites him in. The next thing we know, the office receives a postcard from him, recounting the fun he's having on his honeymoon in Niagara Falls. As the show progresses, Pete sends mixed signals to Peggy. Early one morning at the office, Peggy and Pete have sex. After that, Pete treats Peggy like it never happened, and she somehow has to get through the day, seeing him everywhere.

Meanwhile, Peggy's career is skyrocketing. She and the other secretaries all participate in some in-house testing of many lipsticks for "Belle Jolie," but Peggy does not try any lipsticks. When she notes that the wastebasket filled with lipstick-smeared tissues looks like a "basket of kisses," her phrase is picked up by some mid-level ad men, who realize that she has an ear for good advertising writing. When Don learns about Betty's idea, he lets her write the copy for the Belle Jolie account. The next assignment Don gives her is to come up with a campaign for a weight-loss product that is actually a vibrating belt. (That is one of my favorite episodes! Both she and Betty have "highly stimulating" moments! As time goes on, though, Peggy is gaining weight and the "boys" in the office make fun of her. Pete, who still seems to like Peggy but does not show her, gets angry at a male colleague when he jokes about Peggy's weight.

Don, meanwhile, is flailing around in her personal life. His younger brother tracks him down in NYC, but Don tells him that he wants nothing to do with him. Don gives the brother a ton of money, and then the brother mails Don a package. Unfortunately, Pete gets the box instead, opens it, and seeing tons of photos of Don as "Dick," with his family (and the brother). Pete confronts Don with this information and accuses him of being a war deserter and switching identities with another man. Pete tries to blackmail Don by threatening to go to the head of the agency, Cooper, with his information. Don calls his bluff and goes to Cooper's office to inform him that he (Don) has chosen another person - - not Pete - - for an opening as Don's right-hand man (the guy they hire is someone named Duck). (Actually, this could be a little off… anyway…). So Pete tells Cooper about Don's true identity and Cooper has an unexpected reaction. "Who cares?" he says. And Cooper honestly doesn't care who Don really is, as long as he does his job.

The final episode of the season ends with, among other things, Peggy feeling sick at the office, going to the doctor, and being told she is pregnant. When she has the baby - - apparently within hours (or days?) - - she refuses to hold it.

By the way, Matt and Linda's son Marten has a role as Glenn, the little boy of Betty's neighbor. I love the last episode, where Betty pours her heart out to Glenn, who can't really understand why Betty is sad, but offers her his little hand, in a cute mitten, in sympathy.

Well, I have gotten off track here.

Part Two - The second season opener

Now, …. Finally…. Here's a little about the first episode of Season Two, which aired last night at 10:00:

All the women are more confident and feisty. Betty goes horseback riding while Peggy, who was made a copy writer at the end of Season One, is talking back to Don in such a way as to prompt one of the art directors to exclaim, "Peggy!" to keep her from getting in trouble. Don likes Peggy, though, and appreciates her ideas. Joan is "over" Roger and has moved on to another man.

Don and Betty's marriage is on the rocks. In fact, Betty does a lot of lying in this episode. When she and Don meet for drinks at a hotel lobby on the night of Valentine's Day, the viewer doesn't really know if she and Don still live together or are meeting for a date. In the lobby, Betty doesn't realize that an old college roommate that she sees there and speaks to is a call girl until Don points it out to her. But the next day, she tells her friend Francine about the incident and implies that "Don agreed with her" when she noticed that the woman was a call girl. Also, after seeing the call girl, Betty and Don go up to the room and begin to fool around. Betty announces that she has "come prepared," and, while she is changing her clothes, talks about how she didn't expect her ex-roommate to be a prostitute. Somehow, all her talking seems to ruin the mood for Don, for even though Betty is wearing sexy lingerie, Don can't "perform." She tells him it's okay, that they have all night, but then it becomes clear that they are just going to order up food from room service. Rather than allow Don to order a BLT for her, she takes the phone from him and orders a petit filet mignon. Treating herself, I guess, since Don can't. Then she and Don watch Jackie Kennedy on television, giving a tour of the White House. The next day, talking to Francine, Betty says that she didn't see Mrs. Kennedy's tour because she and Don were too "busy" (in bed). A few days later, Betty's car breaks down and she is rescued by a tow truck operator, who will fix the car's fan belt for $9.00. Betty doesn't have enough money to pay for it and refuses to allow the man to put the charge "on account" because she doesn't want Don to find out about the repair. Betty then begins to flirt with the mechanic and makes a "bargain" with him, seemingly implying that she will give him some sort of sexual favor if he fixes her car for just $3.00. When he fixes her car, she hands him the money and he grabs her hand and holds it tight. She pulls it away and makes it clear that nothing more is going to happen. He walks away, realizing that there will be nothing else from her. When Betty arrives home, she lies to Don about why she is late.

The biggest surprise of the episode, though, is that Peggy comes back to the office and no one knows that she has had a baby. The viewer has no idea what happened to the baby. All we know is that Peggy seems to be hardened. Now that she is one of the boys, and not a secretary, she has a gained a lot of confidence, and a bit of arrogance. When asking Don's secretary if she knows where Don is, Peggy is initially nice enough, but then turns around is quite mean to the secretary. Presumably, she is teaching the secretary the same lesson that Joan taught her - - never reveal any personal information about Don to anyone - - but Peggy does it in a way that we later learn has driven the secretary to tears.

Enough about the plot! The mood and music and feeling of this first episode is incredible. No one is relaxed or comfortable. Change is coming to the ad agency in the form of younger men to draw in youthful customers. Don doesn't seem happy at all, and seems to be searching for something or someone. He is not really connecting to his family or his work. At one point, he makes a typical pitch and says "Blah, blah, blah," as if he himself knows that is all baloney. Pete can't get his wife pregnant and doesn't seem to be very interested in her sexually (at this point, anyway). The fact that Joan is with another guy has made Roger jealous, but Joan doesn't seem to care. Peggy seems on edge and cool to everyone.

So, what can I say? I loved this episode! I can't wait for more! It's on AMC, Sunday nights at 10:00! Watch with me!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

new york city half marathon: photos and results

mary wittenburg about to announce the winners.

well, my second race of the weekend is in the books! what a blast the nyc half marathon was this morning. the short version, i squeaked in just under 2 hours, with a 1:59:41, 9:08 pace. will write-up a race report and post it tonight (or tomorrow). i took plenty of pictures during the second half (post-central park) portion of the race. i only took a couple in the park because of a battery malfunction. details in the race report. pictures first :D

emmy and pam, pre-race.

craig and me, pre-race.

at the start in central park.

at the start (then my batteries died).

emmy and greg on central park south.
emmy saved the day with fresh batteries!

leaving central park.

down seventh avenue.

down seventh avenue.

looking north on seventh avenue.


just about to turn onto 42nd street.

42nd street!

looking north from 42nd street.

water stop along 42nd street.

music as we turned off 42nd street
and started down the west side highway.

running down the west side highway.

along the west side highway.

approaching the finish!

just past the finish line!

chip returns, wet towels, and water coming up.

baggage - a lot more organized than it looks!

collecting my bag at the finish.

eric, craig, greg, and me at the finish in battery park.

greg, emmy, eric, and craig.

emmy and jenny.

official results at new york road runners.

check out my world lung foundation team photos.

new york city half marathon: world lung foundation team photos

pre-race group photo

pre-race, checking stuff out...

mark and me, pre-race.

me, pam, and ilana, pre-race.

me and jose.

in action, west side highway.

emmy, pacing me, west-side highway.

pam and ilana, in action, west side highway.

post-race, battery park: waiting for team to check-in.

here is my nyc half race report (w/links to additional race reports).

more photos from the 2008 nyc half marathon.

more photos of the wlf team at the nyc half marathon.

my earlier post on world lung foundation team fundraising objectives.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

24 hour around the lake ultra: photos and results

here are a few photos from the 24 hour around the lake ultra, in westfield, massachusetts. i'll post a race report tomorrow. here is the short version: i ran 19 laps for 60.04 miles in about 17.5 hours. emmy ran 16 laps for 50.56 miles. we didn't stay for the entire 24 hours because emmy had to pick her son up from the airport (he returned home from a trip to guatemala) and i wanted to get a little rest before the nyc half marathon tomorrow!

a view of race staging area from across the lake.

scenic views of the lake along the course.

another beautiful vista.

downside of the course - PAVEMENT!

coming up to the second aid station.

at the start.

we had a less than prime location for our gear as the result of our late arrival (thanks to terrible friday afternoon traffic conditions)!

honey dew donut shop! more on this wonderful place in the race report!

emmy, bundled up for the chill at dawn!

5:30 a.m. - i just woke up from a half an hour power nap

andy, early saturday morning.

me (still in race), emmy (finished) and david "maine-iac" (finished).

me, out on the course.

my favorite picture! emmy finds a home-made ice bath and is soaking in it after she finished!
more on this adventure in the race report :D

link to my race report.
here are the official race results.