Archive for the ‘Things that don’t suck’ Category

Racing burros and raising a son

December 7, 2016
Hal Walter and his son Harrison working a burro near their home outside Weirdcliffe, Colorado.

Hal Walter and his son Harrison working a burro near their home outside Weirdcliffe, Colorado. (Photo poached from the video by Juliana Broste)

My man Hal Walter chats on camera with The New York Times about the great outdoors, racing burros, and raising an autistic child.

Hal is also working on an expanded edition of his book “Endurance,” and I’ll post a link to that when it goes live.

Fat Tuesday

November 22, 2016
As you can see, Il Fattini is already contemplating his holiday shopping.

As you can see, Il Fattini is already contemplating his holiday shopping.

Hm, seems to have gotten a bit Novemberish out there all of a sudden. Forty. Seventy percent humidity. Gasp, etc.

So much for the bad news. The good news is that you can finally order your Old Guy Who Gets Fat In Winter kit in a long-sleeved version.

Think of it as that extra layer for a fella who doesn’t really need one.

And the better news is that Voler is doing a 20 percent off sale this week and the discount is extended to the gravity-impaired members of the Old Guys community. Customers using the promo code SAVEGUYS will receive 20 percent off all Voler Store items, including the OGWGFIW collection.

Finally, and perhaps best of all — for those of you living outside the newly declared People’s Republic of Kakistostan, Voler has begun shipping to Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Iceland, Irish Republic, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

So, remember, buy early, buy often. We’d like to have the bunker finished by Inauguration Day and all the contractors want cash up front for any Trump-related construction projects.

A donkey in rough shape

November 18, 2016
Hal Walter and Spike in 2000, after winning what I believe was their second world pack-burro championship in Fairplay, Colo.

Hal Walter and Spike in 2000, after winning what I believe was their second world pack-burro championship in Fairplay, Colo.

No, I’m not talking about the Democratic Party, though you could say the same about that lot.

I’m talking about Sherman, a neglected donkey adopted by Christopher McDougall, author of “Born to Run.”

McDougall collected Sherman after a Mennonite neighbor discovered the poor critter penned up in a cramped shed. He was, in a word, a mess:

Its fur was crusted with dung, turning its white belly black. In places the fur had torn away, revealing raw skin almost certainly infested with parasites. He was barrel-shaped and bloated from poor feed and his mouth was a mess, with one tooth so rotten it fell right out when touched. Worst of all were his hooves, so monstrously overgrown they looked like swim fins.

McDougall was something of a mess himself not that long ago, a self-described “broken-down ex-athlete battling constant injuries and 50 excess pounds.” Running saved him, and he wondered whether it might do the same for Sherman.

I’d stumbled across a ragtag crew in the Rocky Mountains who kept alive an old miners’ tradition of running alongside donkeys in races as long as 30 miles. Was it possible? Could I bring Sherman back from this calamity so that he and I, side by side, could run an ultramarathon?

I immediately pinged my pal Hal Walter, who has been doing this sort of thing for as long as I’ve known him, and even longer, which is to say for the better part of quite some time.

He replied that yep, he knew about the column, and might even be a part of it down the road, since McDougall interviewed him for the series.

“Might be the only time I’m in the NYT this lifetime, though I did tour the building during a high school journalism field trip,” he added.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the articles in this series. Maybe we’ll learn some way of rescuing that other crippled donk and teaching it how to run.

 

Stop the machine

November 15, 2016
Around and around and around we go, and where we stop, nobody knows.

Around and around and around we go, and where we stop, nobody knows.

Sometimes you have to start the machine to stop it.

The ticking in my head seemed a little ominous today, so after I finished a “Shop Talk” cartoon for Bicycle Retailer, consulted with a few colleagues, and walked The Boo, I stepped away from the Mac for a short, “fast” cyclocross ride, in which “fast” was in comparison to, oh, I don’t know — continental drift?

Anyway, it was a beautiful afternoon, nearly everyone I encountered seemed to be in a good mood for no good reason, and as a skull-flusher I recommend it to you without hesitation. The world will still be there when you get back.

As my man Garrison Keillor says, “politics is not everything. Life goes on.”

Unless you’re Mose Allison, that is. Goddamn. He’s left me with my mind on vacation and my mouth working overtime.

 

Starry, starry night

August 13, 2016
The skies of Weirdcliffe, as seen from the Walter ranch. Photo courtesy Hal Walter

The skies of Weirdcliffe, as seen from the Walter ranch. Photo courtesy Hal Walter

The old hometown came in for a little press yesterday as city folk tried to catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower through all that neon.

The Dark Sky movement is serious business in Weirdcliffe, as well it should be. It’s one of the area’s natural resources, and thus a natural draw. Sayeth The Old Gray Lady, “Four out of five Americans live in places where they can no longer see the Milky Way.” This, frankly, is a national tragedy.

When we lived east of town, Herself and I spent an evening stretched out on the deck, marveling at the Perseids. It was like getting caught in a celestial hailstorm, or maybe standing on the bridge of the starship Enterprise, boldly going where plenty of folks can’t go no mo’.

Tell me, who are you?

February 22, 2016

mcdowell-sunset

I took the Tube back out of town

Back to the Rollin’ Pin

I felt a little like a dying clown

With a streak of Rin Tin Tin.

—”Who Are You,” by The Who

When the machinery starts acting up, what’s the first thing the IT guy asks?

“Have you tried turning it off and then turning it back on?”

Well, I turned it off last Monday, but I didn’t get around to turning it back on until today. Sorry ’bout that.

I hadn’t had a good old road trip in far too long, so I took one. And I mean a road trip for me, one in which it was not necessary for me to be me for a few days. One must shut the fuck up from time to time, give the old pie-hole (and everyone else’s ears) a little R&R. Turn it off.

mcdowell-camp-dog

Camp Dog.

I suppose I could have taken a napping tour of Soho doorways, but that sounded a bit extreme, so instead I pissed off to McDowell Mountain Regional Park outside Fountain Hills, Ariz.

The park is a bolt hole I used for years, but hadn’t visited in a while, and it was a pleasure to return. The weather was stellar, neither too hot nor too cold; there were some brand-new trails to explore; and while plugging into the Innertubes is possible out there among the cacti and coyotes, it remains something of a pain in the arse, so I didn’t bother trying. I did check mail once, using my phone, to see if anything demanded my immediate attention. It didn’t.

Nobody gave me an Airstream Interstate Grand Tour EXT for solstice, so I used my old North Face Expedition-25 tent and a new REI sunshade for shelter. And as regards cooking mostly I did not, as like the daily parade of conspiracies on the Innertubes it had become something of a nuisance.

Instead, I noshed on bits of this and that — baby greens with avocado and tomato slathered in olive oil, Creminelli salami and Barber’s cheddar on crackers, fruit, yogurt, granola, LaraBars, rice and whatnot.

I did, however, brew the obligatory pot of powerful black coffee first thing every morning. After a cuppa and a LaraBar I went for a run, and after that it was another cuppa, some yogurt and granola, and a ride on one of the two bikes I’d fetched along. Lunch was either out of the cooler or at DJ’s Bagel Cafe, which to my surprise was still open — and still good — after all these years. For dinner it was back to the cooler.

Come evening I enjoyed the sunset, the moonrise and a brief coyote concert, then turned in, listened to a little Mozart from the Academy of St. Martin In the Fields, read a bit of poetry, and nodded off. Next day I did it all again, but on different trails.

It wasn’t all fun and games. There were notes and pictures taken, and video shot. But I did not publish, until today. And as you see, I have not perished.

marin-bags-granite

The Marin Four Corners Elite, tricked out with Revelate bikepacking bags.

Here comes the sun

December 21, 2015
Woo hoo, break out the sunscreen!

Woo hoo, break out the sunscreen!

Happy winter solstice to thee and thine. Once again I will not be attending the annual illumination of the inner chamber at Newgrange — the 5,000-year-old monument is not among the locations served by Air Subaru — but I will be there in spirit.

The weather wizards say we can expect a high in the upper 40s today here in the Duke City, but it won’t be long now before this space is devoted to bitching about the intolerable heat. To everything there is a season.

Fat city

July 27, 2015
It's what the all the well-dressed fat bastards are wearing this season.

It’s what the all the well-dressed fat bastards are wearing this season.

The new kit has landed at El Rancho Pendejo.

As usual, I seem to be between sizes — Voler’s large club suits me fine without an undershirt, but once I (ahem) bulk up for winter I may need to go to an XL. And to think my original is a medium. Sigh.

The full zip is a big improvement over the original edition, and so is the fabric. For starters, it’s lighter, which means you can have that extra donut for breakfast. But you can’t have the shorts — not yet, anyway. Them there is original bibs from Back In the Day™ and we’ve yet to bring them back to hideous life.

Chime in as your jerseys arrive and let me know what you think.

What do I think? I think I’ll go for a ride, that’s what I think. I think.

Rest day

July 13, 2015
Time to exercise something other than my fingers on a keyboard.

Time to exercise something other than my fingers on a keyboard.

Whew. Some folks hate Mondays, but I’m telling you, any day I don’t have some undone chore leering over my shoulder is a very good day indeed.

Those of you who have actual jobs (my condolences) with regular days off (you sonsabitches) may not appreciate how sweet it feels for a freelancer to have a 24-hour period during which absolutely nothing of financial consequence needs doing. It’s like finding a Benjamin in your jeans while doing the laundry, pulling a goathead from a tire to find it still holds air, or hearing a lawyer say, “No charge.”

In a word: Fantastic.

Oh, there are a few items that will require a smidgen of my attention:

• I should hear from Voler today about the online store through which our fondest dreams are to be realized (yours, a new Fat Guy jersey; mine, obscene, unheard of and uncountable wealth).

• The Boo remains in recovery from dental work, and the meds are disrupting his regularity (I fear for our brick floors).

• And we’re still a one-car family, so I snoop around now and again to see if there’s anything out there that’s worth the trip to a car lot for one of those conversations (“Mr. O’Grady, what will it take to get you into this fine pre-owned automobile? Just let me talk to my manager. …”).

But mostly I plan to ride the bike. Blue skies, smiling at me … nothing but blue skies do I see.

Editor’s note: Looks like “Bloom County” is coming back. Getting better all the time. …

Editor’s note the second: Himself speaks with The New York Times.

Fat Tony goes down

June 27, 2015
The green light for gay marriage doesn't mean Fat Tony has to suck a bag of dicks. But he probably should anyway.

The green light for gay marriage doesn’t mean Fat Tony has to suck a bag of dicks. But he probably should anyway.

A few metric shit-tons of comedic hay have been baled from Fat Tony Scalia’s jabbering over the Supremes’ decision on gay marriage.

The bit of blithering outrage that I found most telling was: “Hubris is sometimes defined as o’erweening pride; and pride, we know, goeth before a fall.”

Ho, ho, etc. Fat Tony has heard so many people call him brilliant for so long that he’s come to believe he’s the sun at the center of our judicial galaxy around which the rest of us must revolve, like it or not.

Well, count me among the rogue planetoids chuckling as Fat Tony’s light went out on Friday. There’s something deeply satisfiying about watching a guy who thinks he should win everything just by being present and accounted for rolling in DFL.