Mr. Pants’ Guide to Pecan Pie and Whether Bernadette Peters Was Actually Playing The Trumpet During That Song


It’s almost 12/13/14, the day on which the Mayans predicted Ryan Hall would make his triumphant comeback (oh, even the Mayans missed now and then). That can mean only one thing: Mr. Pants’ Guide to Pecan Pie and Whether Bernadette Peters Was Actually Playing The Trumpet During That Song.

Q. Hey, Daddy-O. I gots me a dilemma. I’m planning a cross-country drive, fueled primarily by expired Chocolate GU Lattes. All that caffeine requires a lot of bathroom breaks, which is a problem on the highways and byways of our fair country. What to do what to do?

A. Don’t call me Daddy-O. For the answer, you need look no further than our proud nation’s long-haul truck drivers. That’s right, you need a Pee Can. Get a Folgers coffee can (yes, that’s why they make that stuff.) Carry it in the car and when nature calls (nature being old and not clued in on texting), you’ll be ready. There’s a Jenster variation that involves a purse, but that’s better left for seasoned ultrarunners.

Q. Ah, the Pee Can. I love it. But. Won’t that cause some confusion, since it’s pronounced the same as the pie?

A. Um, no. The pie is pronounced puh Khan, like Chaka and Genghis, only with less pillaging and music in her.

Q. I’m pretty sure it’s prounced Pee Can.

A. I’m pretty sure I’m Mr. Pants.

Q. I don’t get it. Why do people pronounce it differently?

A. It began as a cruel hoax during the Civil War. The Northerners pronounced it Pee Can so that the Southerners would be tricked into eating pie out of their urine containers. War is hell. Meat is murder. The Smiths were a pretty great band if you could get past Morrissey’s sideburns.

Q. But Mr. Pants. What about your favorite songwriter, Willis Alan Ramsey, author of Muskrat Love and patron saint of all Muskrat challenges? Doesn’t he sing “she’s as sweet as one of her Pee Can pies?” Are you saying Willis Alan Ramsey is (gasp) wrong?

A. Um.

Q. And what about your favorite songwriter, Jeff Tweedy (is mr. pants sort of fickle about his favorite songwriters?) who sings “A piece of  Pee Can pie and you is all I want”?  If folk music is a reflection of our times, aren’t folks seeing Pee Cans in the mirror?

A. I think our reception is starting to break up. I can’t hear you.

Q. Isn’t it also true that you pronounced it sauCONEy for a couple of years before being tasered by a factory rep at a marathon expo?

A. Mr. Pants is no longer taking questions.

Q. Maybe we could agree to disagree? You say tomato?

A. Mr. Pants doesn’t like tomatoes.

Q. OK, Mr. Pants. Thanks a Pantsload. One more question. In honor of 12/13/14, I’m running 12 miles on a track on the 14th while drinking 13 Ironbeers. But the track doesn’t have a bathroom. What to do what to do?

A. Look for Jenster’s purse.

Do you have a question about running, the Civil War, or just what exactly is in the bottom of the Jenster’s purse? Don’t ask Mr. Pants. He’s out looking for pie.

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my obituary

justanotherduke, a very clever guy on the RW Loop, wrote my obit for me. Now I’m all excited about dying. This is it.

Corpus Christi Obituaries

Gary “Garbanzo a Go Go” Smith perished in the early hours of Saturday morning doing what he loved most, copy editing. Mr. A Go Go, as he’s known among friends at the snow cone stand, was muttering something about “trail running is not a fad” while editing an article for the health and fitness section.  “Then he just dropped”, explained a coworker, “with his fist still clenched above his head.”  Gary will be remembered for his stunning victory in the 72 HOM this past summer and his awkward sideways hugs.  Tony Krupicka could not be reached for comment.

The coroner’s office determined that a monkey heart, a large vanilla frosty, and a Hello Kitty balloon all played a role.  The death is not considered suspicious and has been ruled an accident. 

Gary leaves behind his beloved 1988 Honda Civic, BK, and Mo Sheppo, who coincidentally inhereted $26.2 million on Saturday from a distant relative she simply referred to as “Mr. Pants”.  Traditional Texas services will be held on Tuesday December 9th from 4-6 pm at Wendy’s.  Guests are asked to wear Alpaca wool hats and to bring pineapples with french accents.

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The Great Medal Controversy of 2014 is settled

The Ranchadillo, manliest guy I know, swiped it overnight.


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Mr. GPS and me

I am composing the post in my head all the way to the race. The joy of the GPS.

Back in the Stone Age, going to a race in a little town was always an adventure. There was no map. If you were lucky, you had a vague address. Then it was a matter of driving around randomly till you spotted someone who looked like he knew where he was going. Bike rack, a plus. Race bumper sticker, gold. You would follow him and hope for the best, getting there just in time to do the math and figure out that with 12 people in the port-a-pot line, 11 of them would make it in before the starting gun. You were no. 12.

But that was then.

We now have GPS. I have a navigator with a vaguely European accent. I need only steer, taking occasional naps along the way while I may or may not be driving.

Mr. GPS is flawless. Drive on I-37, he says. Then, continue driving on I-37. And then, drive more on I-37. This thing is amazing. We make it through San Antonio, down the highway leading out of town, and then onto the smaller road that leads to the race.

Mr. GPS says to turn onto a small farm road. OK. I marvel at how crazy this would be without technology. How would I possibly find the way on these little roads. A left, veer left again, then a right turn onto an even smaller road. Only a mile to go. Then a quarter mile. Then 200 feet, and Mr. GPS announces we have reached our destination.

Which is a locked gate to an abandoned property. Mr. GPS is very proud and waits for his dog treat.

I’m a goner.

Luckily, it’s 6 a.m. I work on deadline professionally, so I don’t like to push things when I’m traveling to a race. I have a couple of hours to make things right. I just don’t know how to do it.

I turn to facebook for help. Luckily, Dave is there for me.


Thanks, Dave!

I retrace my path and try it again, much the same way you try cranking the dead car battery again just in case it was bluffing. We end up at the same plane.

And then, an idea. I pull out Mo’s Garmin, which tends to have better luck sniffing out trail run locations as long as they’re not in Bandera. It seems to be on the right trail. And then its battery dies. I know there’s a USB cord in the car somewhere. Probably next to Mini B, the racing pineapple that disappeared in there over the Fourth of July weekend.

And then, another idea. I switch to Google maps. Because, well, they’re Google. They’re probably watching me now anyhow via satellite. Maybe they’ll just call my phone and tell me. Sadly, it gives the same directions.

I consider just running a Gumbo race using this house as a starting line, but the Gumbo Franchise Fee is prohibitive as she stockpiles cash for the Raccoon Baby.

There’s nobody out here to ask. It’s dark. I’m annoyed. I’m on the verge of saying forget it. I start down the other farm road, trying to find a way back to the highway, when I see it.

A pickup drives by with a trailer bearing the logo of the race management team running the race.

A U-turn, an acceleration, and I’m back in 1980, following the guy who knows the way to the race.

I arrive at the start at 6 a.m. for an 8:00 race. Sleep is for sissies, so I sleep.

I revel in the simple joy of a race with flushies.


And then they have a race.

It’s one of those events where everyone but me appears to be from a church in the community that’s raising money to feed folks. I’m feeling unsympathetic, having eaten a  life raft-size apple fritter on the way (take that one of the list of pre-race foods, Jenny). I’m pretty sure the race director just went out in his pickup and drove 3.1 miles down the road to measure the course. But it’s nice to run a little race that felt like the old days when racing was just some chalk and a guy saying go. I think about the San Antonio Marathon tomorrow and the 3,500,000 people trampling each other. I like this one.

There must be about 100 people for the 5k and 10k. We all head out together, and it’s nice to have people to pace off of. That’s the idea of driving three hours in the middle of the night to get here. We go along and I settle into an OK clip. Then as we hit the 5k turnaround, everyone does.

One woman is about 20 yards ahead of me and leaves me in the dust. Damn Newtons. It’s  at about this time that I realize why they call it the Hill Country. We’re in a gentle but relentless roller coaster.  The countryside is beautiful, with cyclists and Ford F-350s my only road companions.

As the first guys start coming back after the turn, I can see there are only about 10 people in the 10k. Not quite the throng to push me along that I had sought. A sheep and an endless series of pelotons cheer me on. My pace is much slower than I had hoped for, so I just concentrate on suffering. It doesn’t feel like I’m pushing enough, but I can’t figure out how to shift to the next gear, so I just move along. Maybe this will sort itself out over the months.

And then, the finish line.

It’s my fastest Saturday run so far, and the fastest 10k I’ve run in a long time (1:12.40-11:43), so I’m good with it. And the race itself was much easier than the ordeal to get there. And, yes, I swept the 50-59 division. Mo and Jenny collectively declare it to be the ugliest award ever. I will sleep with it tonight nonetheless. Women are so superficial.


And then, just like in the old days, I get in the car and drive from rest area to rest area to rest area, driving and napping and stretching and eating and still loving that feeling that comes from race day.

Next race is in a month.

Mr. GPS will be sleeping in.

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the keys to a good marriage, part 4

Never use the compliment:

“You smell like vomit. But in a good way.”

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my life as an astronaut

“I can’t live the rest of my life talking about what I did in space for 11 days.”

– Yi So-yeon, Korea’s first astronaut

Early tomorrow morning I’m climbing into a car whose rear view is totally blocked by a Hello Kitty balloon and driving a couple hundred miles to a town I’ve never heard of (Bulverde? Seriously?) to run a race nobody cares about in a time that will make people snicker. Why?

In my youth I was a race junkie. Every other weekend or so I’d search out a race somewhere. Anywhere. I loved racing. 5ks became 10ks became the usual progression to the point that there were no limits. And then there were.

A decade-long stretch of itbs. Work, divorce. A monkey heart transplant.Wendy’s change from paper to plastic for the Medium Chocolate Frosty.  A new city. A new state. Witness protection program. Life just seemed to conspire against me. Sure, I kept running, for fear that whatever was back there eventually would catch me. But I no longer pushed myself to be my best. I had done that already.

I haven’t trained seriously in a couple of decades or so. I didn’t even know if I wanted to. But eight weeks into The World’s Longest Marathon Training Plan, I found my answer: Hell, yes.

I have two secret weapons — Mo, who is my constant source of encouragement and tolerance (you want to drive four hours to run 6 miles? Sure!) and vrb Jenny, who pushes me to get out the door on the days when SpongeBob is looking pretty inviting.

But it’s also a yearning. A need to find the best in me again. I’ve run some races over the past few years, but they were just faking it. I want to race at my best, whatever that turns out to be. Slow is OK by me. Slowly giving up, not so much.

Sure, it’s just a training run early in a marathon buildup. But still, it’s a $30 Training Run. I’ve been running with the heart rate monitor. I ran Tempo Tuesday on Wednesday in Zone 4 for 4 miles. The race wants me to run 6.2 miles at the upper end of zone 4 and maybe past it. Can I even do that? I don’t know. But, man. It will be fun to try.

In “Dept. of Speculation,” Jenny Offill. writes: “Russian ground control had a traditional signoff for the cosmonauts: May nothing be left of you, neither down nor feather.”

That’s what I want. That return to going full speed, even if my body only goes up to second gear these days. That feeling at the finish line of bending over, hands on knees propping up the body, egg mcmuffin gurgling contentedly in my belly, the burn of an honest effort that left nothing behind, neither down nor feather.

I can’t spend the rest of my life talking about what I did 20 years ago.

So it’s off to a little launch pad in the Hill Country of Texas to fire up the rockets again and do some exploring.

Offill says Einstein wondered if the moon would exist if we didn’t look at it. I wonder if I would exist if I weren’t in an old pair of asics. I don’t want to find out.

On with the countdown …

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selena and me

Sometimes a course just works out. That’s the way it is with me and Selena.

Longtime readers will recall that my normal course is along the bay. It’s the Official Place To Run where I live. A sidewalk made for hikers, bikers, runners and dogs on retractable leashes that goes along forever. Potties, water fountains, snow cone stands. A runner’s dream, and there’s no Malaysian transit official involved.

Today’s run on The World’s Longest Marathon Training Plan was a 6-miler. Which means a trip to Selena’s joint.

If you start from the little road leading to the First Baptist Church (and don’t we all?), it’s  EXACTLY 3 miles to Selena. It’s not really her; it’s a statue and shrine built in her honor along the race course. I’m not really sure if she was a runner, although I’m sure sequined bustiers (yes, i blush when i type “bustier”) would fit in nicely on the race circuit.

I must admit I didn’t know much about her when we moved here. But Gumbo, here for the 72 HOM before she started toting a watermelon in her singlet, explained to me that she was one of two sisters who excelled at tennis. Or something. Gumbo was in the early stages of her pregnancy back then and was quite drunk.

But it’s a great out-and-back run. There’s something about a great destination at the turnaround that makes a run feel right. Not just a look at the watch oh it’s 3 miles time to turn around, but an encounter with a landmark. And the landmark has a water fountain and snow cone stand. I truly live a blessed life.

So that was today’s run. It was desperately cold, around 50, so the usual crowd wasn’t there. I paused to say hi, to think how sad it is to tragically die too young, to think how sad it is that vrb Jenny has been to BOTH her cemetery and museum, to think how nice it is to turn around and run south when a cold north wind is blowing.

Thanks for a great run, Selena. Let’s do it again next Tuesday. Jenny says hey. Gumbo apologizes for pointing.

And good luck at Wimbledon …


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