I’m a big fan of the cartoon, The Oatmeal. If you haven’t heard of it, there’s no good way to describe it, so just click on the link and check it out. The cartoons, are deceptively simply drawn, but are full of information from a wide spectrum of topics from grammar, history, science, culture, and more, presented in a satirical manner (and often with poop jokes). Occasionally crude, but always irreverent, The Oatmeal is revered by many.
This past summer Matthew Inman, the creator of The Oatmeal, published a long comic titled, “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances.” It became an instant hit not only with his readers, but runners who hadn’t heard of him before. He captures perfectly the highs and lows (and even lower lows and agonies) of being a runner, before, during, and after a run.My favorite part was the bit about waterboarding yourself as you try to drink from a cup in a race while running full speed. Even though I know about the trick of folding the cup, I still can’t drink properly half the time and wind up just choking myself.
Inman even founded the Beat the Blerch (10K/Half/Marathon) race, which was held in Carnation, WA (outside of Seattle) on Sept 20th & 21st. The race was so popular and sold out so quickly that they added a second day (which also promptly sold out) to accommodate as many people as they could off the waitlist. Crazy. The race had cake, Nutella, magical grape beverage at the aid stations and people dressed up in Blerch costumes chasing after you. I am really really really jealous of all those who to do this race. I WANT TO DO THIS!!!!
Anyway, when I heard that Inman would be doing a book reading in Manhattan this past week, I had to go. He was also doing a group 4-mile run in Central Park on Wed, which I couldn’t go to because of work. So the book reading was my only chance.
Inman was funny and just as irreverent in real life as he is in his comics. He wanted to read some new material that he was working on about Charles Darwin. The story of Darwin and his voyage on the HMS Beagle were interesting and probably unknown to most people (I knew a lot of it because I had taken several years of biology), but there were still stories that were new to me. I laughed wholeheartedly at his quips, particularly about flamigos (flying shrimps). After his reading, I rushed to buy his book “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons . . .” so I could get his autograph.
Or at least I tried to buy his book. Several people and I wandered around confused, looking for his books, but his books were nowhere to be found. You’d think they would have pulled out several and had them out in a prominent and easy place for us to find and buy. We went to a book reading. We are very likely to want his books. After several minutes of wandering like lost zombies, we found his books. Behind the cashier counter. You know, where we, the consumers, have NO ACCESS to them. Finally I was able to purchase a book and I rushed back to the line to get an autograph.
While Inman signed, I told him about my disappointment over having to miss his run the next day. He said that the race Beat the Blerch may be coming to Philly. If so, I’m soooo there! I got a photo as well (he asked if he could not smile and I happily agreed). Then I hopped, skipped, and jumped my way back home.
If Beat the Blerch comes to the East Coast, who wants to do it with me?