Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Poetry in Motion

Because excercise is good for you, but a chore to actually do.
  [vote for,

I’ve recently taken up running, in a vain attempt to revitalise my tar-stained, smoking-shrunken lungs. Make them feel a bit less like two wizened, blackened prunes wheezing away inside my chest.

One thing I’ve noticed, though – physical exercise is hard work. Especially when you’re not used to it. At the moment, I start to hurt after the first four of five paces, and it just gets worse from there on in. I do reach a kind of plateau of pain after about ten minutes: then I find I can run on at the same level of discomfort for half an hour or so, but it’s still sore, and the effort in making each pace is only the worsened by the certain knowledge that there’s countless more to go before I can ultimately collapse in a heap in the comfort of my own home.

Obviously what’s needed is some kind of distraction device. Something to engage my brain and stop its continual whispers of how easy it would be to just stop and sit down, or (depending on how far I’ve gone) just keel over and die. I need to keep my head occupied while my body gets on with doing what I’ve set out do. I’ve seen small mechanical pedometers which you attach to your belt, which, after you’ve set your average stride distance on a little dial, use a weighted spring to detect a footfall and click up the mileage accordingly.

Wire this up to a sunglasses-based heads-up-display, and you’ve got my idea in a nutshell. Take a virtual story out with you. The sunglasses superimpose a line of text over your vision, and the pedometer (after being suitably adjusted to both stride distance and reading speed) jogs the text along accordingly. If your pace starts to flag, then the story slows and creeps along your vision: if the pedometer catches you slipping into walking pace, it interjects three dots into the text, and shows you nothing until you start running again and the story resumes.

Of course, you need to make sure you’re running to a perfectly timed, perfectly written suspenseful short story; something that makes you want to read (run?) on, whilst avoiding the “even-though-I’m-on-my-last- legs-and-about-to-be-sick-I’m- still-jogging-on-the-spot-in-my-living-room-just-to- get-to-the-end” nightmare. Might be a good idea to run to poetry – that is writing with a built-in rhythm to it, after all. Blank verse might be a little tricky, but anything that rhymes should assist in the placing of one foot before the next.

“On again, on again, on again onward, Out of the valley of death ran the one lung-dead.”

Or something. Iambic pentameter is probably best avoided, unless you’re into speed waltzing. Quick quick slow, quick quick slow… Oh, for that third step respite…

lostdog, May 23 2003


       If you've seen the film "Kingpin" - you'll recall the Landlady. *That* is incentive.
thumbwax, May 23 2003


       I would imagine this to be used only on a treadmill, as the visual distraction would be dangerous.
snarfyguy, May 23 2003

       At least you've got something to read in Casualty, toejam, as long as you didn't break your sunglasses in the midst of you face/floor planting fun...
lostdog, May 23 2003

       When I was running regularly, I found a CD Walkman, or some kind of music I had control over absolutely indispensable.   

       The Iggy remix of "Raw Power" will keep you going. Unless you don't like it.
snarfyguy, May 23 2003

       ... and upon what ground could [pant] [pant] you procure such a thing to be done?—a vagrant, is he? What! he a vagrant, a wanderer, who refuses [pant] to budge? It is because he will not be a vagrant, then, that you seek to count him as a [pant] [pant] vagrant. That is too absurd. No visible means of **FHLOMP!**   

       [...into the side of a bus ]
waugsqueke, May 23 2003

       Suppose the text were opaque. Half Bakery entries read while exercising?
Zimmy, May 24 2003

       Please, someone, anyone, put a break in that dashed phrase.
galukalock, May 24 2003

       I would have thought that "Marathon Man" was the perfect suspense story to adapt to your books-on-sunglasses for runners idea. But perhaps that ran on too long.
jurist, May 24 2003

       [lostdog] Thank you.   

       Oh, did I mention...uh...+? No? Well, I am now.   

galukalock, May 24 2003

       "And miles to go before I sleep... and miles to go before I sleep..."   

       I see the International Tolstoy Challenge coming shortly; just making it to the end without dying of either exhaustion or boredom is the challenge.   

       Even more ambitious: 'Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Walks.' You read a mystery while walking on a designed, engrossing closed course that sets the background of the story itself, which splits into choices at key points in the story. Read Sherlock Holmes and ride along as Watson to the very places described.
RayfordSteele, May 25 2003

       audio books in [snarfy]'s walkman? I have a double tape of Red Dwarf somehere.
po, May 25 2003

       And that's how, the unwanted and worn out topic "smoking kills you" came up again.   

       [lostdog]: You have a way with words. Congrats!
Pericles, May 26 2003

       was that by po?   

       Poetry in Motion, walking by my side,
her lovely locomotion,
keeps my eyes open wide.
Poetry in Motion, see her gentle sway, a wave
out on the ocean, could never move that way.

       I love every movement, and there's nothing
I would change,
she doesn't need improvement,
she's much too nice to rearrange.

       Poetry In Motion, dancin' close to me,
a power of the devotion, swaying gracefully.

       Poetry In Motion, see her gentle sway,
a wave out on the ocean,
could never move that way.

       I Love every Movement,
and there's nothing I would change,
she doesn't need improvement,
she's much too nice to be rearranged.
Poetry In Motion, dancin' close to me,
a power of the devotion, swaying gracefully.
po, May 26 2003

       I'm with [snarfy]'s anno: when I first started running, I made a mix tape for my walkman that contained songs that (a) I liked alot and (b) had a beat that approximated the rate at which I run. Worked wonders, especially if I arranged it so it hit a particularly good song at the end of my run.   

       I need to redo this for the digital age sometime. I am told there are many tools that DJs use to alter the beat of songs that would be well suited to adjust musical beats for this. Encode as MP3 and set your player on random.
krelnik, May 27 2003

       To Win Poetry Contests, Write What You Know   

       I tried for Poetry in Motion™
Though with my current handicap
I had to bridge a knowledge gap
To even entertain the notion
Alas, I didn’t get too far
Since lately I commute by car

       An SUV, actually.
theircompetitor, Jan 18 2004

       That's quite good, [po]. IMHO.
Zimmy, Mar 14 2006

       Yes, but quite reminiscent of the Johnny Tillotson version. It does sound better coming from [po], though.
jurist, Mar 14 2006


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