Went for a long bike ride yesterday. Temperature: low 90s. Humidity: Merciless. I felt like riding fast and hard, so I did. About halfway through I started noticing people looking at me. Normally people don’t look at me. I’m no head-turner on my best day, and have fully arrived at that state of middle-aged female invisibility where you begin to blend in with the wallpaper. (I’m convinced I could walk into a bank, enter the vault, fill my pockets with cash and walk out unnoticed. At least if the bank is anything like the deli counter.) But I was turning heads. Pigeon crap on my forehead? The vile jiggling of my thighs? A bloody nose? The hint of cleavage even my hydraulic sports bra cannot contain? I turned the final corner, slowed for a cooldown and thought, “Hmm. I don’t think I’ll be cool by the time I hit the driveway.” Parked the bike, went inside, checked a mirror. My face was the color of an overripe tomato. I mean, not just a flush, not just a healthy glow, but the alarming shade people get before their head actually bursts into flames. I looked about to sustain a cerebral hemorrhage.
Ah well — exercise isn’t for sissies. I drank a quart of water, filled a ziploc with ice and sat with it on my head a while. It still took 45 minutes for the flush to clear. I wonder how close I was to actually passing out.
You know those ads that always say, “See your doctor before starting any exercise program”? And how you say, “Yeah, right”? Well, there’s a reason for those, and I think I’ve found it. Onrushing decrepitude is no longer a vague concept; the fragility of one’s body is a fact that must be faced. Your entire youth was the writing of a check that is now being presented for cash.
On the other hand, look at Jack Lalanne. Please. (And note well: Nice package, Jack!)
Speaking of “stakes” at the movies — we were, weren’t we? — I’m looking forward to the new “Die Hard,” if only to see what’s at stake. The first one touched off a furious round of movie-heist inflation, as I believe Alan Rickman was angling to steal something like $600 million in bearer bonds. (For a long time I was convinced “bearer bonds” were a Hollywood fiction, as they seemed such a convenient stand-in for cash and turned up in so many movies. But no, they really exist.) In the second “Die Hard,” I forget what the bad guys were after, except that it involved a squirrely Latin American dictator and perhaps a planeload of drugs worth considerably more than $600 million. And in the third installment, we all remember Jeremy Irons’ plan was to steal all the money in the world. Seriously; they were carting it away in dump trucks — the gold that backed all the G8’s paper currencies. The bad guys evidently planned to enjoy their wealth in a world where money was worthless, and they held all the precious metals.
As far as I can tell from the previews, in the newest “Die Hard,” Timothy Olyphant is threatening to take away everyone’s e-mail and internet connections. Which means the stakes are terrifyingly high, indeed.
As a former Hoosier, of course I took note of Richard Lugar’s big splash yesterday. I always felt conflicted about Dick when he was one of my senators, for reasons that, to fully understand, you had to live here. On the one hand, I took him as he presented himself: Smart, sober, conservative-but-not-crazy Republican who at least seemed to understand that the rest of the world existed, and conducted himself as such. Like so many Indiana office-holders, he is cemented in office. Democrats ran against him for reasons entirely divorced from the crazy idea that they might take his job — name recognition, street cred, whatever. The whole exercise was simply a more polite version of stretching your neck under a guillotine. On the other hand, I remember one year when he actually bought TV ads — I guess he needed to spend some money — and they featured him in a flannel shirt, proclaiming himself a man of the soil. While always a safe message in Indiana, it creeped me out. Donald Trump is more a man of the soil than the brainy Rhodes Scholar Lugar. It suggested there was a cruder sort of calculation inside that silver head. I didn’t waste a lot of time worrying about it — there’s always the point at which you think “at least he’s not Dan Quayle” — but there it was.
Fortunately Doghouse Riley, who still lives there, puts his finger on it pretty squarely:
Somehow nobody asks “Why is it a moderate Republican, a respected foreign-policy expert, takes five years to recognize and moderately object to an utter fucking Republican foreign policy disaster?” Dick Lugar had the opportunity to be the William Morse of his day and party, or at least its Bill Fulbright; his Hoosier seat would have stayed warm, or at least body temp. Instead he goes on providing cover for dingbats at risk of getting mussed in the next election.
Oh my, look — someone stood up to Ann Coulter. (Well, we knew it wouldn’t be Chris Matthews.) Nothing like putting the mother of a dead child up against a fortysomething bullshit artist to say, “Stop making cheap cracks about my dead child” to make some great TV. Coulter plays it cool, but be not fooled — she felt the need to flip her hair about 60 times once she knew who was on the phone. Playing with her long, blonde locks is her tell. Maybe someone will point this out to her (Coulter), and she can make a crack about how at least she HAS hair, unlike that chemo-crone Elizabeth Edwards.
The best writers tell you about something you don’t really care about — in this case, a dead pitcher — and make you care. Jon Carroll on the late Rod Beck:
I loved watching Rod Beck. He was the closer back when the Giants were good. He had a body that did not appear to have encountered the wonders of Pilates; he had an amazing, unapologetic Fu Manchu mustache; he had a mullet so large it seemed to be a separate creature that had agreed, in exchange for considerations, to spend some time on top of his head.
He looked badder than you; he looked badder than anyone. His entire attitude on the mound was aggression. Just the expression on his face as he leaned in to take the sign was malevolent. The hunch of his shoulders was frightening. I saw major league batters bail on a Rod Beck pitch before it was halfway to home plate. “Life is too short,” I could almost hear them muttering to themselves.