It’s been a long time since my last rant but I know you love’em, so here’s a freebie that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. How effing freakish is Sonic the Hedgehog? When I was younger, I owned (and I still own) a Sega Mega Drive II (Genesis II for the odd Yank reading this) with all the Sonic games, including Sonic & Knuckles on which you could stack other cartridges to unlock new games. At the time, the blue mascot was seen as a serious competitor to Super Mario – in hindsight it is laughable – and I have to admit that I was a real fan. Now I can see how it was all a scam.
First of all, hedgehogs are not blue and they certainly don’t wear shoes. I’ll put that on the account of artistic licence, but it’s unrealistic. At least, he wears red shoes and that’s what counts (remember?) although I’ve never seen running shoes with buckles rather than laces (that too is ridiculously unrealistic).
Secondly, in real life hedgehogs are ludicrously shy. I recently had to feed my neighbour’s pet hedgehog for 2 weeks so I have prime experience with that. As soon as I approached it, it shivered like crazy! Now you’re telling me this little guy can run through the world and kill robots without being terrified? I don’t buy it for a second.
Then there’s the question of the running specialty. Sonic can sprint for pretty much the whole game without a drop of sweat. Seriously? Either you’re a sprinter or you’re a long distance runner, well you could also be a mid-distance runner, but you certainly cannot sprint for several hours straight! I know that elite marathoners run 42.195 km at a faster pace than I sprint on 100m. But neither Usain Bolt nor Dennis Kimetto could run this distance at 1:40 minutes per km!
You’ll argue that Sonic has super powers and that he cheats with springs and other ingenious pieces of apparatus, but I find this dubious at best. No ones actually goes faster with Kangoo Jumps than with real shoes, they are just another risible fad of the 90s. And I don’t believe anyone can claim that spring-loaded shoes like the Enko or the Adidas Springblade can double your speed, that would be preposterous.
Nonetheless, despite all the bad-mouthing I just gave him, Sonic will always remain the best in my heart. How could it be any other way when you listen to the awesome music composed by Masato Nakamura?
You may not have noticed because it doesn’t really show, but I’m obsessed with running. Yes I am! I think about it even when I’m watching a film or a good show, so when said film or TV show mentions running, I obviously notice it and I make a big deal of it! So I figured I’d start a series of articles about things to watch that mention running although they’re not specifically about running.
The most famous reference to running in cinema is probably Forrest Gump, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring a very young Tom Hanks in 1994. It is a must-see classic. The story of Forrest Gump is intertwined with the contemporary history of America: he meets Elvis Presley and several Presidents, he goes to Vietnam to fight under the start spangled banner, plays ping pong against the Chinese and is at the origin of several big US companies, including Apple in the fiction, and he also inspired the creation of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co in real life!
Everyone still remembers the famous quote “Run Forrest, Run” from the legendary scene where from cripple he becomes a runner, then a college football star and finally meets the President of the US of A. Not only this scene is very emotional but it is also hilarious, which pretty well sums up the film:
And the end of the scene:
Later on, he goes on running across America for three years. A feat that was probably inspired by the Trans-American footrace created in the 1920s. But since 1994, it is Forrest Gump himself who has inspired a whole truckload of runners to do the same. Although I bet none of them were as influential on American Culture as he was: during this run, he is (fictionally) credited for the invention of the smiley face and for the expression “shit happens”. Not to bad huh?
If you haven’t seen the film yet (shame on you), run to the nearest VHS rental (or simply watch it on Amazon). And just for the pleasure, here’s the scene where he runs across America:
I feel lazy this week, so I’ll just show you a video I made last year. I’ve already mentioned that I sometimes go to work on rollerblades (less and less, since I run more and more). So I asked Draculito to lend me his GoPro and here’s the result:
I think this is a pretty awesome commute and I always love doing it !
Like everyone I have dirty secrets and you’re about to discover one of them: I created a geeky game based on running back when I hated running. OK, I can see I’ve lost you, so let’s get back to 2004. In New York, a bunch of students created Pac-Manhattan, “a large-scale urban game that utilizes the New York City grid to recreate the 1980’s video game sensation Pac-Man”. Jack of all trades and me fell in love with the concept and waited for the Yankees to release their software so we could play too. But the software never came out and life went by.
In 2007, I reactivated the project and decided to develop the software myself. I gathered a dozen lunatics and we created Pacmanalyon. Even though we were not runners, we took over the streets of Lyon, where I lived at the time. I won’t get into the specifics of the rules (you can find everything on the website), you just have to know that Pac-Man has to roam through all the streets in the boundaries of the map in order to make the highest score. Of course, he should avoid being touched by ghosts, and when he eats a power pellet, he gets to be the hunter and has a chance to score even more by eating the ghosts. Yes, it’s basically grown-ups playing tag. We just ran faster, and dressed up in silly costumes.
Pac-Man Lyon – Photo courtesy of Brice Robert (all rights reserved)
The trick is that each runner is remotely guided via mobile phone. Don’t forget this was made in the early 2000’s, so there’s no GPS or smartphone app involved. This was resolutely low-tech and the controllers communicated all the info from the HQ via good old Nokia phones. If I had to do it again nowadays, I’d do exactly the same thing because half the fun of the game is the communication between HQ and the runners. The other half is running, when you’re able to (which wasn’t my case at the time).
Have a look at the video that Music Daddy made with the footage I shot on my rollerblades, and laugh at me: