Tuesday, September 26, 2006


If I’m sticking around, I might as well bring you the TUESDAY TOP FIVE

Sorry for the late post, everyone. It’s been a long, crazy, not-so-fun kind of day. Right now, at about 8:30 CST, I’m just finishing up a day of deadlines and insanity from the world of my day job. But I know you need to take a little time away from work and Internet shopping, so I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t return to form.

So here goes. Five things Our Man in LA is vibing on this week in Southern California:

5) BANGKOK EIGHT by John Burdett. No, it’s not a reference to the recent coup in Thailand. It’s a murder mystery, a hard-boiled detective novel in the tradition of Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, and James Lee Burke – if any of those guys wanted to write about a detective who was part cop, part Buddhist monk, and 100 percent son of a Thai prostitute. Our hero, Sonchai Jitpleecheep (a name that doesn’t make it through spell check) is hot on the trail of a band of killers, motivated by that old detective story chestnut: “When a man’s partner is killed, you do something about it.”

Bottom line, I’d been seeing this in airports for months and finally picked it up. Great, fast read about a world I don’t know. Check it out.

4) STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP. Look, I know everyone and his cousin have already anointed this show, the new one from Aaron Sorkin and featuring a whole load of stars, as the best new show of the television season. Well, sue me. I’m not a real critic, and so I didn’t get to see it until it made it on the air last week. And everyone’s right. Period. It’s just great.

I love the dialogue, I love the acting and the casting and the pace. I love how it doesn’t take itself too seriously – more SPORTS NIGHT than THE WEST WING, and not just because of the subject matter. More to the point, Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford are made for this kind of show. It’s fantastic.

3) FOOTBALL, BOTH THE COLLEGE AND PRO KIND. You might have heard. It’s back. Halleluiah. We’re three or so weeks into the season (the best time of any year), and already there are just so many highlights. Maybe the best season ever . . . at least so far.

Consider just a few of these moments. If you’re not a fan of these teams, pick your own moments. If you don’t like football, skip ahead.

Back to the moments:

• #1 Ohio State taking on #2 Texas in Austin in front of a gazillion fans. You can’t ask for much more than two great, historic teams taking playing each other in a classic environment. The fact that these are two of my teams is a bonus.
• The Cincinnati Bengals, showing that Carson Palmer is more than just back from his injury, and taking apart the hated Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend. “Man, I hate Pittsburgh. I hate them more than UCLA.” Strong words from a USC grad. We don’t hold that against Carson, now that he’s with the Bengals. And led them to the playoffs.
• Michigan – a team I usually can’t abide – taking apart Notre Dame with surgical precision and some serious anger. On that day, we were all Wolverines.
• The Mighty Mighty Longhorns deciding on their first QB of the post-Vince Young era, and deciding on a boy named Colt McCoy.

I’m just so glad it’s back.

2) THE WIRE. I’ve been hearing about this show for years. I’d heard it’s the best thing going. I’d heard it’s like Dickens on TV. I’d heard that it was better than my favorite show of the 1990s, the brilliant and undervalued HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS.

All true.

Our Woman in LA and I started watching this season, at the behest of old pal Rick Porter. He’s been swearing by this program forever, and my only excuse was that it was too far along for me to take part. I promised that one day I’d rent the DVDs. That day is coming sooner and sooner.

Because I’ve never seen a show that captures a place so well. The Baltimore of THE WIRE does a better job of capturing rich and poor, cop and criminal, and showing us how they’re all – how we’re all – connected.

In my first job, I raised money for a mid-sized homeless relief agency in a Chicago neighborhood that’s since gentrified. At the time, it wasn’t so good. THE WIRE reminds me of those days, when I watched cops shake down the guys who hung out on the corner, watched crack deals go down near the el station, and then headed to some rich guy’s house or office so I could ask him for money.

I’m enjoying remembering those times.

1) RUNNER HANGOVER. All right, so two weekends back, Our Woman in LA and I completed the Disneyland Half Marathon. Actually, not just completed it. We rocked it. Both of us cut a bunch of time off our previous 13+ mile race – I came in at 2 hours, 33 minutes; my bride came in at 2 hours, 58.

It was a terrific ending to an amazing period. We loved the training, we loved the fund raising for an amazing cause – helping people who live with HIV and AIDS in Los Angeles. And we loved being a part of a running team, working together week after week and finally finishing the big race in tandem.

What’s more, I’m already jonesing to get back out there, start running again. On Saturday – the first time in months that I didn’t have to get up and run a few miles – I did it anyway. I needed the feel of the pavement against my shoes, the rhythm of it, and the feeling of accomplishment knowing that I can run as far and as fast as I want.

I don’t know how else to explain it. Our Woman in LA and I are runners now. Some mornings, there’s no better way to get started than to head over to Griffith Park, to run past the zoo and the horse trails, and take a good look at the day.

Also, I’ve got this crazy cheer that goes through my head. You see, every week as we trained for Disneyland, our trainer Jared would lead the team in a chant. First he’d yell, and then we would. It went like this:


Yeah. I could probably go for a run right now.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?