Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Hola, jalapenos. Just posting some bloggishness before we head off to NJ for the rest of the week. I'm getting out of work at 12:30 tomorrow and we're hitting the road for what undoubtedly will be a long, arduous journey. I've been spoiled the last few years, as we've hosted T-giving here in Beverly, so tomorrow I'll have to suck it up and hope it doesn't take much longer than six hours. Hopefully Hannah will take a nice nap for some of the trip, too.

So my car misadventures continue. I went into work for a few hours Saturday morning and on my way home I noticed I was having some problems accelerating after a stop. Then I got the lovely smell of radiator fluid. I stopped about a mile from my house because I didn't think I'd make it home. Long story short, it was the head gasket, which could cost big bucks to fix. If it gets into the $1,500-$2,000 stratosphere, we may just say screw it and not bother. At this point, it's just not worth it. One possibility could be to buy my mom-in-law's '97 Escort, because she may be getting a new vehicle in a few months. I only need a car to get to Marblehead and back every day, a 15-mile round trip.

Things got a little better Saturday when I watched the Heritage Classic, the first NHL outdoor hockey game ever. They held it in Edmonton at the football stadium there, and damn, did it look cold. Temps were around zero F. It was Edmonton vs. Montreal and was preceded by an oldtimers game featuring Gretzky, Messier, Kurri et al vs. the Montreal geezers with Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, etc. Boy, did that bring back a lot of memories. The old bastards put on a good show, too. They played two 15-minute halves, with a short break to allow the players to shovel off the snow, just like a real pond hockey game. The Oilers won 2-0, but the current Oil lost in the nightcap, 5-2. It was good game, though. Got me psyched to get out on the ponds once it gets cold enough.

The end of the year is coming, so that means lots of lists. I'll hold off on my top whatever of the year until the year actually ends, but the folks at Pitchfork are posting their revised Top 100 albums of the '90s list. The strange thing is, they did one at the actual end of the '90s, but apparently they felt the urge to do a little revisionist history and update it. Seems a little cheesy to me--maybe they were embarrassed by all the Color Me Badd albums they included the first time around. Speaking of cheese, the vacuous blowhards at Rolling Stone have graced us with their Top 500 albums of all time list, for whatever that's worth. These chumps come out with lists like these about three times a year, in between soft-core Britney covers. God, do they suck-diddly-uck. Still, I enjoy reading these lists, if only to disagree with them. List-making is so subjective, there will always be disagreements. But hopefully, the writers at least do a good job justifying their picks. I just skimmed these two, and of course, Pitchfork's is more enjoyable to read, in their Superior Indie Rock Nerd fashion.

Aiight, I'm off to play some hockey. Rock on and don't eat too much turducken, or in Master OJ's case, too much tofurkey. Werd.

Friday, November 21, 2003

What up? It's been a few days. I got back from Chi-town late Tuesday night, but I haven't been able to use my home computer for a couple of days because of some crazy problem involving our old MSN dial-up service. Deb was checking her email and all of a sudden started getting an error message for a program called TRAYCLNT. Every time I tried to close it, it would just pop up again. I went on the InterWeb at work today and found that I just had to uninstall MSN and the problem would go away. And so I did, and it did.

Chicago was cool, although it rained the whole time I was there. I barely made it to the Blackhawks game on time because my flight was over an hour late due to major fog. It was a decent game, considering the crummy teams playing, and I had a good time. I was amazed by the fact that the United Center has a smoking area right out on the main concourse. I thought those went out with dayglo shirts and the Spin Doctors. Then it became quickly apparent that in Chicago, everybody smokes. In the hotel bar, in every restaurant, everywhere. I guess I'm just used to Massachusetts banning smoking from every public place. It was kind of like stepping back in time.

So Wacko Jacko was arrested on child molestation charges. Gee, what a shock. Let's hope they can actually convict his freakazoid ass this time.

Can't believe it's already Thanksgiving next week. We're heading to Joisey to visit Deb's brother and his family; his wife is due any day now. Hopefully she'll have the baby before we get down there.

Hannah's officially obsessed with the movie "Dumbo." If she had things her way, we'd watch it five times a day.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Just tooling on the computer for a little while before I leave for the airport. Flying to Chicago for a conference Monday and Tuesday; I get back Tuesday night. Got a ticket to the Blackhawks-Rangers game tonight, so that will be cool, although it would have been a much better game 10 years ago when both teams were doing well. At least it'll be the fourth Original Six city I'll have seen a game in (Chicago, Toronto, Boston and Montreal--still need to see games in New York and Detroit).

Friday night, I got together with Mssrs. Dube, Brighaaaaam, Breitling and Rohda at Tha Good Life for some beers and B.S. A good time, although we're starting to question why we keep going back to that place, since they're always out of the beers we like. Last time, they didn't have any Sam Adams, for crying out loud. We went over to the People's Republic for a quick one after that. Hard to believe two years have passed since we all worked together.

The HCPro football game yesterday was a lot of fun, despite temps in the mid-30s. We had a good turnout, about 15 people, and once we started running around, we warmed up quickly. My team lost 4-2, but it didn't really matter. I hadn't played football in seven or eight years, but I had a touchdown at the end, and a few good punt returns. We ripped up the Marblehead Charter School field pretty well; the thing's a big mudpit now. We'll have to do that again sometime.

Last night, my old high school buddy Jeremy stopped by with his wife and youngest son. We reconnected a few years ago. Talk about your different paths. He got married during his senior year and they had a kid the following summer; now his oldest is 17. Dayamn. Hannah's not even 19 months yet. But he's done all right for himself and his family and they seem really happy, so that's all that matters. I'm glad I didn't do things that way, though.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Man, it just don't pay to be a celebrity these days. Those guys are dropping like the so-called flies. Art Carney departed this mortal coil Sunday at age 85. Not that it was a total shock or anything; he was one of those guys that you were surprised to find out he was still alive. Like Abe Vigoda. That dude's looked near death for 30 years now. But getting back to the Honeymooners, that was a truly great show. Jackie Gleason and Carney were, how you say, frickin' funny.

Agh, it's fundraising week on WMBR, the MIT station I listen to every morning for the good indie rock. Not that they don't deserve the money for providing quality programming that I enjoy, but the begging can be annoying at times. Still, stations like MBR, WZBC and WERS (and hell, even good ol' WUNH) are to be treasured, so I'll send in some cash money at some point.

Finally got back on the ice last night for the first time in over a month. My legs felt pretty heavy, partly because it had been so long and partly because I played street hockey Monday night. But it was fun, although we were all sucking wind because the kid running the rink gave us an extra 20 minutes of ice time. I popped in a goal, but could definitely feel the rust. I also had new gloves and shin pads to get used to. Street hockey was good the other night, too, although my timing was way off. I had a nice goal where I faked the goalie one way and slipped the ball behind on the other side, but I also missed four or five one-timers. It'll come back, but not next week, because I'll be in Chicago for work, dammit.

Looking forward to convening with my fellow nerdizens from WebNozie on Friday night in Cambridge to mark the second anniversary of Black Friday, when we were all laid off by the ill-fated startup. There will be much sniping and laughing at others' misfortune, I suspect. Exxxxxcceeelllllllllllllllllllent.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Brrr, it's frickin' cold in here, Mr. Bigglesworth. Seriously, it's in the 30s out. Far cry from last weekend's 70-degree temps.

Had a real quick recovery from the marathon. I felt good enough to run on Thursday and yesterday. Not sure when my next race will be, but I'm just glad that I feel good. I might be sore after next weekend, when I play football for the first time in six or seven years with the HCPro crew. I used to organize games when I was at the paper and they were always a blast, but inevitably I'd be sore for days afterward. Should be fun.

Friday night, I went with my friend Rick to see the UNH hockey team play at BU. He's got season tickets there. Last year when we went, UNH got smoked, but this time the Wildcats kicked major arse. A 4-0 shutout, and the fourth consecutive game UNH has shut BU out. Very cool. And then last night, the Cats trounced their arch-enemies from Maine, 6-3. It's also nice to see the Leafs turning things around after getting destroyed by Philly last Saturday; they've won 3 and tied 1 since then, including last night's dominating 4-1 win over Edmonton.

Deb and I went to see "Lost in Translation" yesterday afternoon. Really good movie. Bill Murray is great in it, although it's a little weird to see him opposite 18-year-old Scarlett Johansson. Give her credit, though, she's a good actress and doesn't come off like a teenybopper. There are some really nice moments in the movie, including Murray doing an updated take on his old lounge lizard from SNL with karaoke versions of Roxy Music's "More Than This" and Elvis Costello's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." He's done some really underrated work in the last couple of decades, including "Ed Wood," "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "Rushmore."

Kind of a bummer Friday when I found out a woman I worked with at the Beverly Times back in tha day died in a car crash. She definitely had her demons, which led to her leaving the paper, but she was a good person underneath it all. I'll probably hit the wake this afternoon.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

So I found a photo of myself from the marathon taken by Jim Rhoades, a Boston-based guy who shoots a lot of the bigger races in the area. Check it out here. As you can clearly see, I'm at mile 16 having run over the 59th Street bridge, and I've just spotted the great Ronnie James Dio in the crowd. It was very inspirational, because I'm just a rainbow in the dark.

Monday, November 03, 2003

It's over. Another marathon has come and gone. I finished the NYC Marathon in 4:10 (4:16 officially, but my net time is when I actually crossed the start and finish lines). Senor Diddy finished in 4:14, so I actually did beat him, even though he crossed the line before I did; he started ahead of me. It was a lot warmer than they initially predicted. It ended up being sunny in the high 60s/low 70s, which definitely slowed me and a lot of others down. Fortunately, I didn't have any injuries or problems like I suffered when I did Boston back in April. I just kept chugging along at a decent pace. And I finished in the top third of the runners, so that's nothing to be ashamed of. And I feel good today, certainly not as sore as I was after running Boston.

The race itself was a lot of fun. It was cool to see so many different parts of the city, and have all those people cheering for you. It wasn't as hilly as Boston, but there were still some good ones, including the 59th Street bridge. I had a disposable camera with me, so I managed to get some good photos of some of the sights along the way, although by the end I was too damn tired to dig the camera out of my Camelback to take a picture. Around the 20-mile mark, I decided to stop at one of the medical stations to get a couple of Tylenol 8-hour tablets; I was starting to get pretty achy, and I hoped it would help me get through the last hour or so of the race. It definitely worked.

Some sights and sounds of race day:

--I caught a cab at 6 a.m. to go to the New York Public Library, where buses would take us to the start in Staten Island. It was surreal to see the streets of New York totally empty, except for runners waiting on street corners for cabs.
--The pre-race gathering area was obviously packed with 35,000 people. I just found a spot to sit down and read Sports Illustrated for a while. I was sitting next to this group of about 150 runners from Peru. Kevin Nealon, ex of Saturday Night Live, was doing some reports for the Tonight Show, and came over to interview them. You don't hear much from him anymore.
--I was waiting in the endless lines for the porta-potty when a cop car drove through, clearing the way for some women and children. Turns out it was P. Diddy's mom, girlfriend, and kids. Then we heard a commotion and the Diddster and an MTV crew made their way through the crowd behind us. I give the guy credit. He only trained for eight weeks and suffered some injuries and did pretty well. And he raised $2 million for charity.
--There was a definite international flavor to the race. Not just the Kenyans who win every year, but there were a lot of folks from Europe and other parts of the world who were there to run. Lots of English guys in goofy suits and costumes, a French guy running with an inflatable Eiffel Tower on his head (not actual size), the aforementioned Peruvians. Very cool.

I have to give much credit to my wife and to her uncle Jim and Aunt Merry for helping get through the weekend. But also I must deliver the mad "props" to the music I put on my old Rio 600 MP3 player, which continues to serve me well while I wait for the iPod to drop down to a reasonable price. I filled the Rio with rawk from a mix CD I concocted and these are the songs I listened to four times each as I wended my way through New York. They kicked ass, and so did I:

* You Didn't Need--Rollins Band
* Unsung--Helmet
* Bed for the Scraping--Fugazi
* Negative Creep--Nirvana
* In 'n' Out of Grace--Mudhoney
* Leash--Pearl Jam
* Youth Against Fascism--Sonic Youth
* What's Going On--Husker Du
* That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate--Mission of Burma
* The Wagon--Dinosaur Jr.
* Hit the Plane Down--Pavement
* Kerosene--Big Black
* Evil Eye--Fu Manchu
* Killed by Death--Motorhead

I also should mention Sloan's latest album, "Action Pact," which I listened to on many of my training runs. Good stuff. Too bad it hasn't been released in the U.S. yet.

Well, that will probably be my last marathon for a while. With the new baby due in March, we'll be plenty busy in the spring. And I've encouraged Deb to get back into the long-distance running after she has the baby, so hopefully she'll do a half-marathon in the fall and shoot for a marathon in the spring of '05. As for me, I'm looking forward to not training in the cold of winter. I'll still run shorter races and the occasional half-marathon, but I want to get back to playing hockey again.

Werd up.