sing the song

… o’er the land of the fre-e-a-o-a-o-e-a-o-a-e-i-o-u-e-e-e-eeee …

On this, my first Thanksgiving as an American citizen, I would be most thankful if someone (not sure who) would outlaw the vocal gymnastics that women singing the national anthem seem obliged to do.  Just one more thing that Mariah Carey has to answer for.

gym neighbors

… it’s gonna make you sweat till you bleed … is that dope enough indeed …

I’ve been hitting the gym again lately. “It’s about time,” I hear you saying, and I totally agree. It’s paying off in a number of ways — feeling more energetic, wearing some of those older clothes that I’d grown out of, and the odd towel that I’ve accidentally walked out of the place with. On the flip side, laundry and showering frequency has gone up.

I’ve been a member of four different gyms in my life, and like always, I find the people that go there to be infinitely interesting. I have headphones on while I’m there most of the time, so I don’t have to listen to the crappy music they pipe through the place. It does mean that I don’t tend to talk to to many other people, but there’s plenty of different characters to observe. Here’s a sample of the visitors to my current gym:

  • the guy who never works out: he wanders around, talking to whoever will listen, while he avoids the equipment.
  • the girl who means business: she powers through her eliptical workout like a mad woman, making fools of anyone who might try to keep up. She’s a machine!
  • the guy who looks like Danny Ainge: he comes in and reads the paper while he rides the stationary bike. Nothing exciting, he just looks like Danny Ainge.
  • the girl who brings her bag with her: instead of hiding that ugly, bright green bag in a locker, she carries it everywhere she goes, like her life depends on it.
  • the guy who wears the same thing every visit: I’m no fashion plate, but this guy wears the same windbreaker and silly pink hat-like thing on his head every day. In this case, he’s also the guy who never works out, so I would have thought that someone might have mentioned it to him. I’m hoping he washes them frequently, I haven’t gotten close enough to find out.
  • the people who need a good supply of towels: one towel per session seems to be the norm, but these folks have to drape a towel over every surface that they touch. The most I’ve seen in use at any one time was five on a stationary bike: one over the seat, one over the back-rest, one over each arm-rest and one over the handles and display.
  • the overweight personal trainer: this just seems a little odd to me. He seems to sweat more than his clients, and they’re the ones working out.
  • the mirror people: they spend more time looking at themselves in the mirror than actually working out. At the very least, they have to work out only in areas where they can gaze on their reflection.
  • the seniors: there are a bunch of them that come in for an 11am aerobics class. It’s great to see them being active, but make sure you don’t arrive or depart at the same time, as the parking structure is a nightmare, full of cars moving at snails’ pace with their turn signals permanently on.

And then there’s me. If someone else was writing this, they might have an entry like this for me:

  • the flash in the pan: these are the people that don’t go to a gym for a long time, put on more pounds than they’d like, then in a moment of clarity, decide that it’s time they off-loaded some junk from the trunk. They hit the gym like maniacs for a couple of months, then disappear just as quickly, only to re-surface a year later to repeat the sequence.

I’m hoping to break the cycle this time — no, not literally!

becoming ‘merican

… living in America … got to have a celebration …

I moved to the Bay Area in April, 1995, then to Los Angeles in April, 1998. I’ve travelled a bit around the country, seen many things and while I’ve been here for almost ten years now, I don’t consider myself American.

I can apply for American citizenship next year, once I’ve had my green card for five years. You have to take a citizenship test and if you pass, you get a fancy ceremony that you can have your photo taken at, and from there, you’re all official.

I think that they’re missing a couple of pre-requisites, however. It’s my belief that to be considered an American, you must be able to perform two particular life skills that the citizens of this fine land have mastered. Ideally, they would become instinctual, or else you might find yourself being looked on as an outcast somewhere down the line.

Firstly, you must be able to effectively, and safely, perform a high-five. You must be able to execute this at the appropriate time, typically during a sporting event, and usually in concert with the people sitting near you at the time. Once the basics have been learned, you can, if you desire, reach across a table or bar to give someone a single-handed high-five, but this takes practice and should not be attempted lightly. Apart from the danger of a finger to the eye, a missed high-five is regarded as an indication of weakness and you may be shunned from your group as a result.

While the high-five is a physical skill, there is also a vocal skill that needs to be mastered. The “woooooo!” or “woohoo!” (hereafter, grouped together simply as “woohoo!”) has been refined over two hundred and fifty years, and is probably the single most heard cry in sports-related activity the nation over. For a foreigner to attempt a “woohoo!”, it is best for the subject to be in an inebriated state, as the relaxed condition of the body and mind will make the sound easier to produce. For maximum effect, the “woohoo!” and the high-five can be attempted in unison, but should only be attempted by trained professionals — or American citizens.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever really be able to perform either of these — naturally, or otherwise — so the likelihood of me becoming an American citizen is probably slim. Eating all of the junk food under the sun and having a gun rack in my pickup’s cab probably isn’t enough to push me over the line.


… whatever you’ve done don’t try to explain … it’s a fine line between pleasure and pain …

I’ve come to the conclusion that a pimple on your arse, in the right (or is that wrong?) place, can be more annoying, not to mention, more painful, than a pimple on the edge of your nostril.