Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


As I have gotten older, the body has gone south for the ages . . . or, in other words, I have allowed myself to age naturally.  I have put on a few pounds over the years . . . seen a Dunlop take shape around the equator . . . and, I have basically gotten out of shape . . . way out of shape.  There was a time that I was somewhat of an athlete.  I did sports through junior and senior high . . . track was my best sport . . . which lead to me running track and cross country for two years in college.  I lettered on all levels of competition.  I continued to do sports and run well into my late 30s and early 40s.  I was competitive.  I usually finished in the top ten percent of most of the road races I ran in.  I have a box full of medals and trophies from those glory days.  But, something happened and running became work . . . exercise hurt . . . and, my darn shin splints made me a virtual cat on the ceiling whenever anyone or anything bumped my shins.  Running died . . . and, the expansion began.  The motivation was lost.

Once a person gets him or herself in shape the goal is to stay in shape.  It is easier to stay in shape than it is to get into shape.  A rule of thumb I was taught many, many years ago is that it takes two days to catch up for one day of missing a workout.  I figure that if that rule of thumb is true it will take me about 32 years to get back into shape!  Remember, exercise is painful . . . exercise hurts . . . exercise means breaking a sweat . . . I am getting too old for all of that stuff.  Just thinking about it makes me want to sit back in my recliner, pop a brew, and revel in the good ol’ days when I actually did run . . . what Bruce Springsteen refers to as the “glory days”.  When I think back about how hard I used to work at staying in shape and running competitively, I get tired.  There is not much motivation there to break a sweat and get in shape.

Oh sure, I know that by getting in shape I will improve my health . . . I will live longer . . . I will have more energy . . . my mind will work better . . . I will be a two-by-four, I mean, stud.  I know that it would make my doctor happy . . . make my wife happy . . . make my exercising son and daughter-in-law happy.  As much as I understand this . . . and, as much as I love them all . . . all I can think of is how much work and pain it will take to get back into shape.  Still, no motivation.

Then I read an article on the Last Best News website about a 44-year old mother of six who set a world’s record for the mile in Texas.  Chris Kimbrough is a native Montanan living in Texas who took up running later in life.  In high school and college she was a point guard, running came later.  On November 2, 2014, she broke the world record for the mile . . . but, not just any mile . . . she broke the 17 year old record for the women’s beer mile by 13 seconds.  She ran 6:28.6 in her first effort.  That is pretty impressive considering that she had to run the mile and also drink four beers.  You can read her story here or watch the video here.

Here is how the beer mile works: the race begins with the competitor drinking a beer (the beer must have an alcohol content of at least five percent) and then running a quarter mile . . . this must be repeated three more times.  So, that is four beers per mile.  Chris ran the mile and drank four beers in a little over six minutes.  Shoot, there are times when I am driving in my car in downtown Billings that I cannot even get a mile done in six minutes . . . even without drinking four beers.  Even more amazing is that she kept it all down at the end of the race.  Pretty amazing athlete . . . pretty amazing beer drinker.  I don’t know too many people who zip through four beers in six minutes without having to run a mile.

Who knew!  Who knew that there was a sport that combined beer drinking with running.  Who knew that one of the things I love now could be combined with something that I loved long ago.  Who knew that I could find motivation and inspiration in a bottle . . .

I am so inspired and motivated at this point that I am actually considering the idea of putting on the ol’ running shoes and putting in the miles once again.  I have something to shoot for . . . a goal to achieve.  I have even done my homework . . . the men’s world record for the beer mile is held by James Nielsen who ran a 4:57.1.  Okay, I admit that I am motivated, but I am not that motivated . . . I can’t even tie my shoes in 4:57.1!  I also checked to see what the Montana record was for the beer mile . . . 5:42.0 by a guy who set the record in 2004.  That is quite a record that is not quite in my reach either . . . but, I am motivated . . . I am inspired.  Beer and running . . . I haven’t done that since I was a minor stealing beer from upper classmen in college. 

But I am motivated . . . or it could be the beer I am drinking.  Either way it has got me thinking . . . I need to start doing something and training for the beer mile just might be the trick to getting it done.  I know because of my age I should check with my doctor before starting any strenuous exercise program . . . I’ll probably leave the beer part of the training out of the announcement—besides I have been working on that one for quite some time already.  I’m sure the doctor will give me the thumbs up. 

This could be exciting.  I could get me a sponsor . . . like one of the local breweries.  They could supply me with the beer for training . . . put their logo on my shirt . . . great advertising seeing that logo and those empties on the side of the track.  Just thinking about it inspires me . . . motivates me.

But, first . . . there are some reality checks.  The temperature outside is a minus five degrees . . . maybe I should wait until the winter is over sometime in late June or early July to start running.  I like a lot of different beers and breweries . . . should I go with an IPA or EPA or Porter or Stout or . . . it could take me a while to test them all out before I decide on a training brew . . . might take months or years.  I’d have to find a training partner . . . well, not so much a training partner as a designated driver . . . four beers in six minutes is above the recommended amount for driving . . . how would I get home from the track?  And, last but not least, I should probably run it by the wife . . . running—check, beer—I seriously doubt it.  And, to think, I could have been a contender!

Well, at least the motivation is here for the time being . . . ask me in the morning . . . it might be gone.  I wonder if FitBit makes a counter that counts the beers while logging the miles?  A “beer mile” . . . who would have ever thought!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Must See Christmas Movies

If you were to Google “holiday” or “Christmas” movies you would find thousands and thousands of entries.  You would also find every person who views him or herself as a movie critic giving a “top ten” list of holiday or Christmas movies.  I was astounded by the number of movies about the holidays and Christmas that were out there . . . and, I was astounded at how some of the movies even made the cut.  Like politics, everyone has an opinion . . . so, I thought I would throw my own ten cents worth into the fray.

Having a couple of granddaughters now . . . and, with another grandchild on the way . . . I have thought long and hard as to what I want to contribute to their enjoyment and edification in the area of holiday or Christmas movies.  I was hoping to come up with a “top ten” list, but I could only come up with nine . . . nine that I want to share with them.  These are the movies that touched my heart or funny bone . . . made me think . . . and, made me appreciate the deeper meaning of this time of holiness and celebration we call the holidays or Christmas.  These nine are the ones that I want my grandchildren . . . and, honestly . . . all children to see.  Since we are all children at heart I would imagine that it would include all of us.

These movies span the decades and generations.  With that in mind, I begin with the oldest to the newest:

It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 Frank Capra film based on a short story—The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern.  The film stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has dedicated his life to helping others in his small community and especially keeping the local tycoon, Mr. Potter, from taking over the town.  In order to do this he has laid aside his dreams to help others.  Due to some unfortunate luck and trickery the whole thing falls apart on Christmas Eve.  George falls apart . . . he contemplates suicide . . . all is lost . . . and he and everyone else would be better off if he was dead.  Standing on the brink of suicide he encounters Clarence, his guardian angel, who shares with him another point of view.  In the end . . . well, George sees that despite it all, his is a wonderful life.

A Charlie Brown Christmas was a 1965 musical animated television special based on the comic strip, Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz.  This simple story finds Charlie Brown depressed despite it being the holiday season.  Lucy suggests that he direct the school Christmas play . . . which, if you know Charlie Brown, is not too successful as his friends ignore and mock him.  The story touches on the themes of over-commercialization and secularism that has seeped into the Christmas season.  It serves to remind those who are watching that the true meaning of Christmas is simpler and deeper than all the glitz we see . . . it is about the birth of Jesus.  Schulz always claimed that he did not intentionally seek out to be evangelistic in his comic strip, but he also did not deny that it happened to slip in from time to time.  This is a classic that is still relevant today . . . and, the music is some of the best Christmas music ever.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 1966 . . . what is not to love about a show that has Boris Karloff as the narrator!  The Grinch is a grumpy and bitter individual who cannot stand the annual celebration of Christmas by the villagers of Whoville.  Sick and tired of it he decides to steal Christmas while the Whovillians sleep . . . but, it doesn’t go quite as planned and the Grinch has an epiphany . . . and, his heart grows when he realizes that Christmas is not in things, but in the hearts of those who observe and celebrate it.  Another classic!

The Little Drummer Boy, 1968, is an animated film version about the story of a little boy, Aaron, who hates all people after his family is killed.  His only friends are a lamb, donkey, and camel.  His only consolation is his drum.  Being taken in by a unscrupulous traveling show he is sold to a trio of kings who are following a star to find a newborn king.  Upon seeing the newborn child Aaron is moved to come up with a gift that he can give to this child who changes his life.  This is still one of my favorite Christmas songs . . . and, the story is wonderful.

The Littlest Angel, 1969, was a Hallmark special adapted from the book of the same title by Charles Tasewell.  It is the story of a shepherd boy living in biblical times who finds himself in heaven on his eighth birthday.  He doesn’t quite get where he is at or why he is there.  He is given a guardian angel named Patience who is to show him the joys of heaven and help him find his place.  Eventually there comes a time when he is called upon with the rest of the heavenly group to present a gift to the newborn babe sent to earth to save humanity.  Wonderful story with lots of great actors . . . Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster) plays Patience . . . Cab Calloway is Gabriel . . . E.G. Marshall is God . . . Tony Randall is Democritus . . . Connie Stevens, James Coco, and Johnny Whitaker are a few of the others who have parts in the movie.  You can’t beat the gift that the littlest angel gives in the end.

A Christmas Story, 1983.  This is one of my favorite Christmas movies . . . a classic in all sense of the word.  It is based on the short stories and anecdotes of Jean Shepherd from his book, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.  Ralphie wants a Red Rider Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle for Christmas.  All he ever hears is the warning “you’ll shoot your eye out!”  The prospects of him getting the bb-gun for Christmas looks pretty slim, but that doesn’t keep him from wishing and wanting.  This is one of those stories that strikes close to home as the adventures of Ralphie, his friends, and family strike too close to home not to make one laugh.  A wonderful escape . . . a wonderful movie.  A classic!

Ziggy’s Gift, 1982, is a 1982 animated film based on the comic strip Ziggy by Tom Wilson.  The strip is still in syndication and found in many newspapers across the world.  Ziggy, who never speaks in the film, gets a job as a street Santa on Christmas Eve . . . except his boss is a crook.  Despite the bad that comes out of the situation, Ziggy accomplishes much more good than anyone expects.  A simple story, a gentle message, and a wonderful portrayal of what Christmas could be.

Muppets Christmas Carol, 1992, is a retelling of the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol.  It is the story of an old and bitter miser’s redemption on Christmas Eve as only could be told by Jim Henson’s muppets.  From the inception of the Muppets Show I have been a fan of the loveable characters with their sarcasm and puns.  This is a punny movie . . . one of the puniest I have ever seen.  If you like puns mixed in with your Christmas, then this is the movie for you.

Joyeux Noel, 2005, this is the story of what happens on Christmas Eve in 1914 during World War I.  It is a story long forgotten by today’s generations, but one that spans all generations.  On Christmas Eve during World War I, the Germans, French, and Scottish fraternize and get to know the men who live on the opposite of a brutal war . . . it is a true lesson about humanity . . . an anti-war Christmas story.  I love this message of learning to love your neighbor.

So, there you have it.  My list of “must see” holiday/Christmas movies for my grandchildren.  I am sure that not everyone will agree with me and that is fine . . . share your list of “must see” holiday and Christmas movies and stories.  I am sure that there is no way that I have seen all of them.  I’d love to know what you think.  In the meantime . . . take a movie and check one or two of them out.  Put your ten cents worth in.