Friday, December 31, 2004

New Year's Day (almost)

Well, only a few minutes before we turn the page on 2004. It was a pretty good year, car troubles notwithstanding. The best part of the year was adding Lily to the family, without a doubt.

I'm still shocked by the devastation left by the tsunami in South Asia. Death toll is up over 120,000 and possibly as high as 150,000. Amazon is helping collect donations to the Red Cross relief effort; according to the site, they've already pulled in over $10 million. I still have a fair amount of family in India, but fortunately, no one was in the hard-hit areas.

Rest in peace, Jerry Orbach. Everyone remembers him as Lennie Briscoe on "Law and Order," but he made his name earlier as a song-and-dance guy. Hannah knows him as Lumiere (the singing candle) in "Beauty and the Beast."

It's safe to say this guy was the most overexposed human of 2004. Let's hope we see less of him in the new year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Shake the Sheets

Quick post-Christmas post. We had a good one: the girls got tons of presents, mainly of the Little People and princess variety. Santa was good to me. I scored the new Ted Leo CD, some sweet DVDs (Seinfeld season 3, Kids in the Hall season 1, the Iggy & the Stooges reunion show, the Simpsons season 2 and Ultimate Gretzky), some good clothes, a new winter coat and boots, and some other cool stuff.

I finally got my shiznitt together and updated the Kumarville v. 2.0 site for the first time since August. So please visit for all your Kumar family photo needs.

The tsunami that hit Asia Sunday is one of the scariest disasters I can remember. Death toll is at 55,000 and rising.

The cursed year of the Blue Jays continues. Original Jay Doug Ault, who hit two homers in their first game as a franchise in 1977, committed suicide last week. After that first year, he didn't do much and was out of the majors by 1980. But he went on to coach in the Jays' farm system until 1994. Ault apparently fell on hard times of late, working as a used car salesman and struggling with other difficulties.

It was also shocking to hear of the death of NFL defensive great Reggie White, who was only 43 and only four years out of football. Apparently, his death was caused by a respiratory disease and other ailments. He was a dominant force not too long ago in the NFL.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Father Christmas

I'm home for the holidays (we get Christmas Eve off because Christmas Day is a Saturday this year), but so far everyone is miserable. Lily, Hannah, and Deb are all battling colds, while I've fully recovered from a three-week cold but am exhausted because I was up with Lily half the night. Hopefully the girls will feel better soon. At least it's not in the single digits here anymore like it was earlier in the week; today it was in the 50s and rainy out. We're staying local this year, with a visit Monday from Deb's brothers and their families. My mom's staying up in Toronto and my brother is visiting his inlaws in Minneapolis.

I had my first physical therapy appointment Monday to work on my foot injuries. The therapist diagnosed my problems as a swollen bursa sac in my right foot and a strained tibialis muscle in my left leg. She gave me some stretches to do; I was supposed to have my second appointment today but had to cancel because Lily stayed home sick. The therapist also said I'd need to get orthotics made for my shoes if I want to run again. The injuries I have are fairly common and she thinks I should be able to recover in a decent amount of time.

This was announced a while back, but now it's official: the Australian band INXS has resorted to a reality show (created by Mark Burnett of "Survivor" and "Apprentice" fame) to find a new lead singer. They were a great band in the '80s and early '90s before tailing off. Singer Michael Hutchence died in 1997 of what was believed to be suicide, but what could have been autoerotic asphyxiation. Whatever the case, this is kind of a sad development. I saw them a few times, including a show at Radio City Music Hall in NYC during the peak of their fame in 1987, and they were a magnificent live band. They reunited in '99 with Terence Trent D'Arby as their new singer for a few gigs, and then played with a couple of other guys, but now they're going to pick some schmuck off the street as their vocalist. Contestants at the auditions (and yes, they're coming to Boston) are supposed to sing three songs. If I were to do it, and I have fronted a band before (once), I'd sing: AC/DC's "TNT," Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" and "Tragedy" by the Bee Gees. Of course, I'd also be very, very drunk.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week suspended one of its reporters for comments he made in his blog (thanks to Largehearted Boy for the tip). Apparently, the guy wrote it using a pen name, but used the blog as a forum to criticize articles that he was assigned. Not smart. The paper was tipped off by an item in the Riverfront Times, an alternative weekly. Coincidentally, I did a Google search at work to see if a woman did a book for my company and ran across a blog written by a coworker. In it, he dishes occasional dirt about his boss, which probably isn't enough to get him fired, but certainly wouldn't make his boss happy to read. And if I could find it inadvertently, you can bet others can. I think people forget that anyone can find anything on the InterWeb at any time.

Finally, because it's that time of year, here are my top 10 albums of 2004. Keep in mind, I don't get free CDs sent to me, so there's a lot of cool stuff that I've yet to hear that could have made this list. Such as the new albums from Ted Leo, the Walkmen, Green Day, Elvis Costello, Shatner (!), the Hot Snakes. But this is what I really dug this year:

1. The Arcade Fire--Funeral
2. Mission of Burma--OnOffOn
3. Modest Mouse--Good News for People Who Like Bad News
4. Sonic Youth--Sonic Nurse
5. The Tragically Hip--In Between Evolution
6. DJ Danger Mouse and Jay-Z--The Grey Album
7. Interpol--Antics
8. Franz Ferdinand--Franz Ferdinand
9. Wilco--A Ghost is Born
10. The Black Keys--Rubber Factory

Honorable mentions: Von Bondies--Pawn Shoppe Heart; PJ Harvey--Uh Huh Her; Dizzee Rascal--Boy in Da Corner

All in all, I thought it was a pretty good year for music. Here's hoping 2005 is even better.

Happy holidays, y'all!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Jingle Bell Schlock

Holy crap, just a week 'til Christmas. It really snuck up on me this year, but I'm not panicking about shopping. I actually have most of it done already, believe it or not.

So Motley Crue has jumped on the reunion bandwagon and is touring again, and it didn't take long for Vince Neil to get some additional press for the band. I'm not planning to catch them at the Fleet Center in March, but I remember seeing them play back in 1985, my senior year of high school (yikes). The show was originally supposed to be in my hometown (at the least the one where I finished high school) at the Kingston, NH, fairgrounds, which had already been the site of a few festival concerts in the previous year including my first show ever: Cheap Trick, Ratt, Twisted Sister and Lita Ford. But after some bikers held up a nearby convenience store during a Molly Hatchet show (I think it was Molly Hatchet), the town fathers decided they didn't want the Crue playing in Kingston. Of course, they would later relent and have Ozzy and Metallica play there, but they stood firm on banning Motley Crue.

So we had to schlep to the Manning Bowl in Lynn, which hadn't hosted a concert since 1966 when the Rolling Stones opened a U.S. tour there and fans rioted. Me and my buddy Tim Morgan went to the Crue show, which featured openers Accept (of "Balls to the Wall" fame) and Y&T (who had a hit that summer with, appropriately enough, "Summertime Girls"). Like the other shows we saw in Kingston, it was wall-to-wall people. You basically stood there for eight hours without food, drink or being able to urinate; at least you did if you were young and stupid and didn't want to lose your spot. The Crue was touring behind their album Theatre of Pain and had a huge hit with "Home Sweet Home." Don't remember a lot of specifics about the show, other than it took forever to get home and there were a lot of girls flashing their tatas. Saw the Crue a few years later with fellow metalhead Chris Tateosian at the Portland Civic Center, I think. But by that point, I was starting to lose interest in them. Tat and I saw many, many shows over the years. Good times.

This has been around for a while, but it always cracks me up.

The White House: Where proofreading apparently doesn't pay too well.

It's hot stove time in baseball. Pedro goes to the Mets, the Sox sign Renteria, the Yankees are close to getting Pavano AND Randy Johnson, the Braves trade for Tim Hudson, and hell, even the Jays signed Corey Koskie. But some sad news for Jays fans, as former manager, scout and front office exec Bobby Mattick died last night. He managed the team in '80 and '81 when they were the worst team in baseball, but you got the feeling he knew better days were ahead. It's been a rough year for the Jays: they finished last in the East, former pitcher and current TV analyst John Cerutti died, legendary radio voice Tom Cheek came down with a brain tumor, and now this. Yeesh.

Well, whatever optimism I had for the NHL lockout to end have pretty much dissipated. The league shot down the union's offer, and the union shot down the league's counteroffer. It don't look good, folks.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Damage, Inc.

Aloha. Got back from Orlando yesterday. Had a good, but busy, time attending a hospital pharmacy conference. The thing was freakin' huge, more than 15,000 in attendance. Temps were in the 80s down there. It was still pretty strange seeing decorated Christmas trees while everyone's walking around in shorts. My flights were on Delta's Song airline, which is pretty dang cool. Song is big on providing distractions, such as personal TV screens in every seat back, Dish Network TV channels, streaming audio, and the ability to play music trivia against fellow passengers. I kicked ass on the trivia game, winning every time I played, including one time when I got 20/20 correct. Of course, I was playing against 12-year-olds and old people, but what the hey. The personal TV idea isn't a new one, as Virgin Atlantic offered it when I flew to London eight years ago. But making an airline a little more fun is a worthwhile endeavor indeed.

Strangeness from the rock world. Some deranged mook stormed on stage during a DamagePlan show in Columbus and shot and killed the band's guitarist, Dimebag Darrell Abbott, and three others before a cop killed him. Abbott and his brother, drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott, were two of the founding members of the metal band Pantera. I was never a Pantera fan and barely aware of DamagePlan before this morning, but it's still a shocking incident. Rumor has it the guy said something to Darrell about the breakup of Pantera, which was a beloved band among metalheads. Geez, dude, if you're pissed about that, give him the finger or something. How utterly pointless.

The NHL and its player's union met today for the first time since September, with the union making a significant proposal, something even the league acknowledged. The two sides will meet again Tuesday and the NHL is expected to make a counter-offer. Hopefully, they'll work something out and we'll get half a season in. While we wait for real hockey to be played, check out this cool site (thanks to LHB for the tip) for some simulated action.

Here's one of the stranger stories of the year. Ukranian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko went from a handsome, DeNiro-esque heartthrob to looking like the Swamp Thing in a matter of months. Some conspiracy theorists say he was poisoned somehow, but whatever it is, it's freaky deaky.

And, uh, ouch.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

You're Gonna Get Yours

Getting ready to head to Orlando in a few hours for a work conference. I'll be back Wednesday afternoon. Hopefully, the girls won't give Deb too much trouble. Lily's started saying our names: Dada, Mama, and Hannah (although sometimes it sounds like NaNa); she turns nine months on Wednesday. After what seemed like an eternity, she's also moving around the room a lot; not quite crawling, but somehow working her way across a room to get to things.

Caught the Pixies/Mission of Burma show on Wednesday at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell. The Pixies were amazing. I had already heard some of the bootlegs from when the tour kicked off in April, and they sounded good then, but they've really kicked it up a notch. They played about an hour and 45 minutes, plowing through about 30 songs with a minimum of stage banter. The tickets were general admission so I could've joined my buddy Novack on the floor, but dangit, I didn't feel like standing the whole time. Especially not when I could join Briggy and his wife in the stands from a decent vantage point left of the stage. Burma ripped through a smoking set, too, with Roger Miller turning up the guitar skronk to make up for the absence of tape looper Bob Weston. Most of the people there weren't sure what to make of Burma, but they were great. The crowd itself was a mixture of aging nerds such as myself (and much older) and college kids who probably just got into the Pixies in the last few years. I was annoyed a few days after the show to hear that the Pixies announced a December 9 show at Avalon in Boston, where I would have preferred to see them. Can't go now, but if I had the choice months ago, I would have taken the Avalon show over a hockey rink.

The Olds is running well so far. Got it inspected yesterday so it's officially street legal. I will post a photo when I get back so you can get a glimpse at its pimptastic magnitude. In the meantime, allow me to share a tribute to the Ninety Eight from hip hop legends Public Enemy.

The NHL and its players union are set to talk Thursday and Friday for the first time since before the lockout began. Seems like this is a last-ditch effort to save the season. The union is making a proposal, although I'm not sure it will make a difference. I hope so.

Tip o' the pin to the UNH football team, which lost yesterday to Montana in the quarterfinals of the 1-AA playoffs. Okay, they didn't so much lose as get totally destroyed, 47-17; the score was 44-3 before they scored a couple of late TDs against Montana's reserves. But regardless, it was a great run and an impressive season, so salutos, my friends.

Monday, November 29, 2004

King of the Road

Mission accomplished. I have a new car. Well, new to me, anyway. Last Friday, we got to Long Island and picked up a 1992 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight that is still in pretty sweet condition. It's got about 101,000 miles on it, but the owner took good care of it. It's definitely a mack daddy mobile, a big steel cruiser in a world of plastic compacts. Drove it from L.I. to New Jersey with no problems. We had a good weekend hanging with Matt, Tricia and the boys and celebrating Timmy's 1st birthday on Saturday.

Sunday morning, we left early in the pouring rain to hopefully beat the traffic jams, me leading the way and Deb and the girls following. About two minutes into the trip, the "check battery" light comes on. This car warns you when the gas tank gets below a quarter, so I wasn't sure if it was just a warning to have the battery checked soon. When the message didn't go away, I called Deb and we pulled over. After consulting the manual, I decided it was better not to chance it and break down somewhere on I-84 or the Mass Pike, so we turned around to head back to Matt's house. Good move. About five minutes away, the battery just died. I pulled over and waited for help while Deb went back to Matt's. He came and joined me and eventually we had the car towed by AAA to a garage, but since it was Sunday, there was no way we could get it looked at until Monday. So we had to extend the stay for another day and hope we could resolve it quickly and inexpensively.

This morning, we learned that the alternator had crapped out, so we had it replaced and the battery recharged for $200, and off we went hoping and praying we'd make it home all right. I'm pleased to report I didn't have a problem at all and we made it home in good time, helped by the beautiful weather and decent traffic. Of course, we both missed a day of work, but what can you do? Now I just hope the Olds can give me a couple of years of commuting to Marblehead and back.

In important invention news, some MBA student has invented glow-in-the-dark thongs. I'm kind of surprised that this hasn't already been developed. Wonder if the guy came up with the idea after watching Skin Deep, the John Ritter flick with the glow-in-the-dark condom scene. Don't waste your money renting it, look for it late night on Starz37, airing right after the immortal Loverboy, starring the equally immortal Patrick Dempsey. And Tayback. How can you forget Tayback?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Heading Out to the Highway

Ah, Thanksgiving. Probably the biggest stress-inducing time of the year for most folks, what with the driving and the eating and the uncomfortable family gatherings and the GLAAAAYVEN. The last few years have been pretty relaxed for us. We're having it here again, with Deb's mom doing the cooking and her brother Steve and his wife Patty joining us. But the driving begins early Friday morning, as we hit the road for Long Island so I can at long last get a car. A '92 Oldsmobile (not sure what model) to be exact, a gift from the mom of a friend of Deb's. She was getting rid of it anyway, but supposedly it still runs fine. After we get the car, we continue on to New Jersey to visit Deb's other brother, Matt, and his family; there's a party Saturday for his boy Timmy's first birthday. Then we bring the ve-hicles back Sunday.

Last Friday night was a blast as I got together with my fellow nerdz from Webnoize to celebrate the third anniversary of Black Friday, the day we were all laid off. We met at the Miracle of Science, one of our regular watering holes in Cambridge. Although we didn't do so much lamenting and rehashing as we did catching up since the last time we gathered. 'Twas much fun indeed.

Also Friday night was a less cordial affair during the Pacers-Pistons game, when Ron Artest went into the stands after a fan who dumped beer on him and all hell broke loose. I'm not going to rehash the details because it's been beaten to death by this point, but it did remind me an incident way back in '79 when a bunch of Boston Bruins climbed into the stands at Madison Square Garden and fought with Rangers fans. Allegedly provoked by a fan who grabbed Bruin Stan Jonathan's stick, the melee's high and low points occurred when defenseman Mike Milbury was caught on tape ripping a fan's shoe off and beating him with it. It's remembered as a comical episode, but if it happened today, I suspect the response would have been similar.

Happy Tryptophan Day!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Running Free

Hey there, ho there.

Today's headline doesn't refer to my return to running. Alas, I've decided to shut it down for the year rather than start again. The Achilles' soreness is getting better, but it's not 100% yet. Although I did sign up for the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington on May 29th. I plan to start running again after January 1 and should have plenty of time to ease back into it. It's been tough just riding exercise bikes and cardio machines, but I have been getting in some good leg workouts. And nobody's been showing up for hockey on Tuesday nights, so we've had some grueling 4-on-4 games that have been whipping me into shape.

So anyhoo, the headline refers to the great metal meisters Iron Maiden, who I've been listening to courtesy of a compilation made for me by a co-worker who also was a teenage metalhead back in tha day. I had all their albums on vinyl up through 1986's Somewhere In Time; after that, I started drifting away from the metal and getting into the so-called alternative stuff like U2, INXS and Camper Van Beethoven. Eventually, I gave away all my metal records, a move I regret. But I still had some cassettes that I'd listen to every so often. I picked up Number of the Beast, which I consider their best, on CD a few years back. The comp I got, dubbed Maiden Marblehead (where we work) by my friend Paul, features a great cross-section of their stuff from their first two albums with singer Paul Di'Anno through their more popular albums with Bruce Dickinson. Dickinson left the band in the early '90s for a solo career and is now back with them. They had some ridiculous songs, to be sure (Harry Shearer once cited them as one of the influences for Spinal Tap), but they also kicked major butt. Listening to this stuff takes me back to my days as a scrawny little puke who wore Maiden and Rush pins on his ski vest. Rawk.

Speaking of rock, the name of the game lately seems to be reunited. And it feels so good for fans of the some great alt-rock bands of the '80s. The Pixies are doing boffo business on their extended reunion tour; I'm going to see them in Lowell in a few weeks with another reunited act, Mission of Burma, opening up. Camper Van Beethoven, Wire, the Buzzcocks and Television have all gotten back together and Gang of Four just announced they'll be hitting the road again soon. But one band for which a reunion seems unlikely is Husker Du; at least it did until a few weeks ago, when Bob Mould and Grant Hart jumped on stage (NYT: registration required) to perform a few Husker songs ("Hardly Getting Over It" and "Never Talking to You Again") at a benefit for Soul Asylum's Karl Mueller, who has cancer. Here's photographical evidence of the performance, which brought together two-thirds of one of the greatest bands of all time. It was an unlikely pairing given the rancor that existed within the band before they split in the late '80s. And although Husker fans got all wound up at the possibility of a reunion, Mould poured some cold water on the idea this week in his blog (scroll down to the November 15 entry). Oh well, one can dream. For a schmuck like me who missed out on all these great bands the first time around (because I was busy listening to the metal), reunions are my only chance to witness them live. I've seen Mould play solo and with his band Sugar several times, but it'd be nice to see Hukker Pu, as Briggy likes to call them. And the Replacements, too, dammit.

After a five-month absence due to InterWeb issues, Doctor Doobs is back at it with his Thespians Anonymous blog, unveiling the rare and interesting rock from his vast collection. Wilkommen.

Well, the FCC's at it again. Oh, the outrage against ABC, which aired a teaser before the Eagles-Cowboys game Monday featuring Terrell Owens and an apparently nude Nicollette Sheridan of ABC's new hit show Desperate Housewives (good show, by the way). FCC Chairman and Head Pig-Dog Michael Powell bemoaned the incident, wondering what Walt Disney would have thought. Puh-leeze. Unlike Nipplegate, no body parts were flashed, except for the implied nudity when Sheridan dropped her towel. You see more skin from the cheerleaders and the Coors Light commercials. Ridiculous.

Not that Apple needs any more exposure for the iPod, but dayamn, Vince.

Mmm...miracle sandwich.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Snowblind

We got our first snowfall of the season yesterday. It only amounted to about three inches of the white stuff, just enough to create havoc on the roadways. Lucky for me, I had to head up to Manchester, NH, to pick up my bro and his wife from the airport. During rush hour. As it turned out, the snow was worse down here than it was up there. Still, it was a cruel reminder that winter's right around the corner.

A 56-year-old woman gave birth to twins this week, and next month, a 59-year-old grandmother will do the same. Dizzamn. Those kids are getting moms and grandmothers all rolled into one.

In NYC, even the mannequins have got back. This is perfect timing for the producers of the "Mannequin" movie series, who can now complete the trilogy with Beyonce as their bootylicious babe.

This is truly awesome.

Science is truly amazing. Ladies and gents, I present to you the Drumbot 3000.

Late-breaking rap news: ODB just died. Seriously. The guy was kinda nuts, but he was pretty talented. In tribute, I bring you this oldie but goodie: the Wu Name Generator. Just now, the name I received was Bitter Wizard. But my favorite Wu Name was the first I ever ran through the generator, back when I was kickin' it at the Webnoize: Sheepish Lord of Chaos. Nice. Rest in peace, dawg.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

November Reign

Well, well, well, Georgie Boy won. At first, it appeared we might have a repeat of 2000 on our hands, with hundreds of thousands of provisional ballots in Ohio holding things up. But it became apparent that Bush's lead was just big enough that it wouldn't have made a difference, so Kerry conceded quickly on Wednesday. Although I have to laugh when Bush talks about his "clear mandate." Fifty-one to 48 isn't a clear mandate, it's a country divided. The real deciding factor in this election wasn't the war on terror, the economy, or the candidates' war records (or lack thereof). It was the issue of gay marriage that brought out conservative Christian voters in droves, voting down same-sex marriage ballot initiatives throughout the country and voting in the presidential candidate who was against same-sex marriage. In the end, the states for Kerry were up and down the coasts, while Bush took the heartland. There have been a lot of conservatives gloating in the last few days, as well as liberals threatening to move to Canada. It also inspired this fine piece of cartography, which is making the rounds on the InterWeb.

Canadian immigration officials felt the need to warn would-be American expatriates of the piles of paperwork necessary to apply for Canuckian status. Being a Canadian by birth (and a U.S. citizen for the last 15 years), I have no desire to live in my homeland. Too damn expensive. There are taxes on everything, including the taxes. Cool place to visit, though.

The NHL canceled the 2005 All-Star game. It won't be long until they wipe out the entire season. I don't see any hope for this year; they haven't even been meeting, let alone making any progress. At least the Hockey Hall of Fame is still honoring a superb class this year, with Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Larry Murphy and Cliff Fletcher getting inducted tomorrow night. Here's a great feature from the Boston Globe about Bourque, one of the classiest and best d-men of all time.

Today would have been my dad's 64th birthday. Here's to you, big guy. And will you turn off the TVLand reruns and go to bed?

Monday, November 01, 2004


Dora, Elvis Superfly and Boots kick it at a Halloween party. Sweeeeeet. Posted by Hello
I Wanna Be Elected

After months of jibber-jabbering and mudslinging, it all comes down to tomorrow. Election Day. Why do I get the feeling we're still going to be wondering who the next president is a month from now? Yeesh.

Halloween was fun for the girls. My office hosted its annual Halloween parade in which employees' kids come and do their trick or treating in the office. It's a good candy haul for the kids and a lot of fun. Some departments go all out in decorating their areas; the Finance Department took top honors for their painstaking rendition of Fenway Park. The timing was good because the Sox won the World Series the night before. My group ended up not doing anything, so I dressed up as Elvis Superfly. The costume can be summed up as such: jumpsuit, 'fro, fat. Deb brought the girls in. Hannah was dressed as Dora the Explorer and Lily was Dora's sidekick Boots the Monkey. Photo to come. They had a blast. The Halloween vibe continued as we went down to Joisey to my bro-in-law Matt's house for their kids' Halloween party Saturday. And then we got back to Sunday and took the girls to a few neighbors' houses for Halloween itself. We don't get many trick-or-treaters on our street, which is off the busy Route 1A. I counted six groups of kids the entire night, which set a new record for us. All of which means we've got a ton of candy sitting around that I need to take to work before I inhale it all.

The Patriots finally had their 21-game winning streak snapped yesterday by the Steelers, who soundly thrashed them 34-20. Hey, they were due.

Instead of Hockey Night in Canada, the CBC is showing Saturday night movies. And the sad thing for the NHL is, they're getting nearly the same ratings. My guess is folks are gathering around their sets in the Great White North, hoping against hope that the Leafs game will be on. I suspect there won't be any games for quite some time. Although it's nice to see that some dissension is growing among the players, especially the lower-paid ones who have the most to lose from a prolonged work stoppage.

As always, The Onion kicks ass.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

A Brand New World

Holy crap! The Red Sox won the World Series last night in a four-game sweep over the Cardinals. Sox fans were in a happy daze today, with the full impact of it all still to be realized. After 86 years and all sorts of silliness about curses and ghosts, the Sox finally got it done. And in impressive fashion, coming within three outs of being swept by the Yankees in the ALCS last week and then reeling off eight straight wins. After a close game 1 that they won 11-9, the Sox dominated with excellent starting pitching, key hits, and a confidence that never wavered. It's been a long couple of weeks staying up late watching games, although I was hoping the Cards would at least win a few games to make things competitive. In the end, they just didn't have the starters to match up with Boston and their offensive stars were invisible.

I'm happy for all my friends who are Sox fans (including my wife), but it also reminds me of when my chosen team, the Toronto Blue Jays, won back-to-back titles in '92 and '93. Part of the 1977 expansion class, the Jays had gradually grown competitive and won their first AL East title in 1985, my freshman year in college. The Jays were jam-packed with talent that year with starters including Dave Stieb and Jimmy Key, a lights-out closer in Tom Henke and a powerful offense that included the young outfield of George Bell, Jesse Barfield and Lloyd Moseby. It was the first year the ALCS was best-of-seven, and the Jays raced out to a 3-1 lead over Kansas City. Then the unthinkable happened and they lost the next three games, and the Royals went on to win the World Series. For several years, the Jays teased their fans: leading the division in '87 before losing their final seven games of the season and getting passed by Detroit; winning division titles in '89 and '91 before losing easily in the ALCS. But in '92, it all came together. Recent additions like Joe Carter, Roberto Alomar and Dave Winfield solidified an already impressive lineup and Jack Morris and trading deadline pickup David Cone gave the Jays a potent starting five. After taking out the powerful A's in the ALCS, the Jays took on the favored Braves and beat them in six, with Winfield providing the series-winning hit with a double in the 10th. I was living in this very house, renting the downstairs apartment and watching the game with my girlfriend, who normally had little interest in such things. When they won it, a buddy of mine came over with a bottle of champagne to celebrate with me, which was pretty cool.

The following year, I had broken up with said girlfriend and was renting a room in a house in Middleton. It wasn't a fun time for me. I wasn't so much depressed about the breakup as I was about being alone, I wasn't digging my job (which at the time had me working 5 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and I suspected I was getting an ulcer. But the Jays were having another great year; Winfield was gone and replaced by another classy veteran, Paul Molitor. The Jays beat the White Sox in the ALCS and took on the Phillies, a cocky group of hairy goofballs led by Lenny Dykstra and a tough starter named Curt Schilling. It was a wild and wooly series and the Jays led 3-2 going into Game 6. I was up at UNH that day for Homecoming and was invited to a party that night in the area, but I decided to come home and watch the Jays. Good move. Joe Carter hit a historic Series-winning, walk-off homer in the ninth. I was watching the game by myself in my room and when Carter hit the homer, I just started jumping around and screaming. My upstairs roommate called down to make sure I was okay. Hell, yeah. That was the only good thing that happened to me that year.

Of course, since then the Jays have slid, somehow turned into a small-market team after the strike of '94, and this year finished in last place with their worst record since 1981. Oh well, at least I have my memories.

Big loss in the music world this week after British radio DJ John Peel died of a heart attack. Peel was influential in introducing new music to the world, and his live "Peel Session" CDs are legendary. He will be missed.

It's week four since I stopped running to let my Achilles' problems get better, and I'm still sore. I'm just going to wait until they're better before I start running again. It's a real bummer to not be able to run during my favorite time of the year. This sucks.


Friday, October 22, 2004

Red Skies at Night

Wow. So the Red Sox pulled it off. The biggest comeback in sports history. Meanwhile, the Yankees delivered the biggest choke in sports history. Awesome. Red Sox vs. Redbirds in the World Series, starting tomorrow night. There's already a casualty, after a 21-year-old college student out celebrating the Sox win was hit in the eye by a pepper spray ball and died. Boston Mayor Tom "Mumbles" Menino proclaimed there would be no alcohol sales around Fenway Park; he wisely backed off that bold statement today. No booze at a Boston bar with the Sox in the World Series? You'd really see some riots then.

Memo to John Kerry: When you go to photo ops, there tend to be actual photographers there to document any stupid-looking things you do.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Masters of evil

I've been remiss in my blogsterization lately because I've spent most of my waking hours watching the Red Sox battle the Yankees in the ALCS. It looked it was going to be a blowout as the Yankees raced out to a 3-0 series lead, but the last two nights, the Sox won excruciatingly long, epic battles that both ended with David Ortiz providing the game-winning hit in extry innings. Now I'm no Red Sox fan, but it's easy to root for them when they're playing the Evil Empire. They're about to play Game 6 in a little while, so hopefully the Sox can push them to Game 7 tomorrow. That would be cool.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Stranger than fiction

Yesterday was shaping out to be a pretty good day. Deb and her brother Matt had both achieved their goal of running the B.A.A. Half Marathon; for Deb, it was her first long race since having our second baby in three years, and for Matt it was his first long-distance race period. I ran the race last year in the rain, but this year it was a perfect day for a race. Nice and cool, cloudy but dry. I hung out with sister-in-law Tricia, mom-in-law Susan, my girls and their two cousins. Other than cousin Danny wiping out on top of a pile of dog poop, it went very well. My man Briggy had a good race as well. We piled back in our vehicles, Hannah opting to ride with her cousins in Matt's minivan and me driving while Deb got in the backseat to feed a starving Lily her formula. Matt had already turned onto our street and I was waiting to make the left when all of a sudden...BANG! We were rear-ended by an SUV. Lily started screaming but fortunately it was just the shock of it all, not an injury. I turned onto our street, pulled over and got out to see how bad the damage. Turns out we actually know the woman who hit us; she was on the phone and just spaced, I guess. We were stopped and waiting to make the turn, so she really wasn't paying attention to the road. She felt awful about it and we exchanged info and waited for the cops to come. The rear end of our Maxima was totally crunched. None of us were hurt at all; we had Lily looked at by the paramedics who showed up, but they didn't see anything and said we should call our pediatrician just to be on the safe side. Basically, we were lucky it was a big SUV because if the other vehicle's front end had been lower, it would have hit us on right on the bumper and had much more impact. As it was, it pushed in the trunk, which absorbed much of the impact. It's scary to think what might have happened.

It's been a bad year for the Kumar cars. First, we drop a shiteload of cash on fixing a radiator fluid leak on the Honda. Then a doofus from Comcast drops a ladder on our Maxima, damaging the roof and smashing out the rear windshield. Then the Civic dies on me. And now this. Un-freakin'-believable. We took the Maxima to the auto body shop we've been frequenting (it was still driveable...sort of) and rented a Mazda 626 station wagon until the repairs are complete. Today was Columbus Day so we won't know how long it'll take to fix until at least tomorrow, but I figure it'll be at least a week, probably more. We also borrowed a car from a friend of Susan's for me to drive for a little while, so at least I won't have to beg for rides from co-workers. Ugh.

Well, it's Sox vs. Yankees again in the ALCS. Should be a doozy of a series, but this time, I predict the Red Sox will take it in six. They've got better pitching and hitting. Hell, they should have won the series last year, but let's not get into that again.

Christopher Reeve died over the weekend, but not before proving that he really was Superman. Another notable death was that of Ken Caminiti, the 1996 NL MVP who later admitted to taking steroids. The guy was only 41, but was reportedly having problems with drugs the last few years. What a waste.

We watched The Station Agent tonight. Excellent, low-key film with a great performance from Peter Dinklage.

I'm a week into my month off from running. It sucks, especially yesterday watching the half marathon. I did a leg workout at the gym Saturday and I'm still sore from it. But I've gotta stick with the recuperation so I don't make things any worse. Ugh.

Monday, October 04, 2004

At Least That's What You Said

Quite the eventful weekend. Friday night, I hung out with my old homies from Webnoize before attending the Wilco show at the Wang Center, a venue normally reserved for the ballet and classical music and stuff like that. We missed the opener, the Fiery Furnaces, who I was hoping to see, but the headliners didn't disappoint. I like Wilco's latest CD, A Ghost is Born, but the songs really came alive in concert, much like Frampton. They indulged in some sweet feedback-drenched guitar mayhem reminiscent of Sonic Youth and Television, which was due to Jim O'Rourke's influence, as Dr. Doobs noted. Guitarist Nels Cline unleashed some mind-blowing licks and bandleader Jeff Tweedy joined in, although OJ correctly observed that Tweedy's gee-tar was much higher in the mix than Cline's, which is a criminal act. Nevertheless, a great time made a tad stranger by the fact I ran into two old friends I hadn't seen in several years at different points after the show. I guess Wilco brings all us formerly rocking geezers out of the woodwork.

The Applefest Half Marathon was a great time. My buddy Rick and I both ran good races, although his 1:31 was much faster than my 1:43 (hey, it was a fast time for me). The weather was perfect (cloudy in the 50s) and the course was nice. I cranked up the iPod and enjoyed myself, despite the hills at the end that slowed me down a bit. Great spread of food afterwards, including, of course, apple crisp.

On Sunday, I joined my fellow Daily Grind email cohorts in the wilds of Worcester for the filming of Men's Group Massacre, the latest filmic masterpiece from my friend Bob Durling. Bob puts together improvised Halloween short films every other year or so. We filmed in the woods behind his house. The plot, such as it is: A men's support group meets in the woods and is killed one by one by a mysterious figure in a kabuki mask. I played Jay, nerd supreme (yeah, it was a real stretch). I was one of the first killed because I had to leave earlier than everyone else...because I live 50 freakin' miles away. Anyway, it was a blast as always and I look forward to seeing the finished product, which Bob hopes to have edited and ready for a Halloween party in a few weeks. I'll be away that weekend, but plans are to put the film on DVD, so hopefully I'll see it not long afterward.

Did I mention my wife is incredibly cool for letting me do all that stuff? I don't normally have stuff planned every day, it just worked out that way.

The worst Blue Jays season in recent memory (last place finish, the end of the Delgado era) got even worse yesterday with the news that former pitcher and current TV broadcaster John Cerutti died in his hotel room before the last game of the year. From all accounts, he was a classy guy who always took time out to talk to fans. He apparently died of natural causes at the young age of 44. A real shocker. My condolences go out to his wife and kids.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing

Hey. Quick post because it's late and I haven't written in a week. Just watched the first Bush-Kerry debate. I thought Kerry acquitted himself pretty well, especially considering I saw clips from an interview he did with Diane Sawyer in which he was all over the map. But he was forceful and impressive tonight. Meanwhile, Dubya kept hammering away with his talking points: "You can't lead when you give mixed messages" being one of the big ones he repeated over and over. The best part of it was watching the candidates' reactions when the other guy was ripping into him. Kerry would just have this grin/grimace on his face while he scribbled on some paper, whereas Bush would get this squinty-eyed annoyed look. It was classic. Anyway, it was nice to see an actual debate instead of the campaign trail potshots we've witnessed so far.

The chumps in the NHL may not be playing, but I laced 'em up for the first time since March Tuesday night. I was dying after the first shift, but I felt better as the hour wore on and popped in a couple of goals. I was also pleased that my Achilles' tendons were none the worse for wear afterwards. I've got the Applefest half-marathon on Saturday and I've decided to stop running for a month after the race in the hopes that my injuries will heal. I'd like to run a spring marathon, but I need to take it easy for a while or it ain't gonna happen.

The Expos are moving to Washington. The worst-kept secret in baseball is finally confirmed for next season. It remains to be seen if they can come up with a nickname, uniforms, marketing plan, etc., in time for the beginning of the '05 season because right now, they don't have any of that stuff done.

If this is to be believed, apparently all it takes to please a woman in Japan is a bizarrely-shaped pillow.

Aiight, more later. Soon. Really. Bye.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

In the drink

Today was the second full day of fall, but it was about as nice a day as you'll find during the summer. Luckily for those of us at the good ship HCPro, the company chose today for a booze cruise from Marblehead to Manchester and back. It was a three-hour tour. A three-hour tour. Seriously. Even though I had a shiteload of work to do, it was nice to get away for a while, even if it was with 150 of my co-workers. Past cruises have devolved into drunken messes, so they limited everyone to two free drinks, but I managed to procure a couple of extra drink tickets. What the hey, I wasn't driving. Nobody got really drunk or stupid, although there was some bad dancing to make fun of.

The Tragically Hip show was a good time Tuesday night. Although I was surprised to find that the T stop I always park near, Lechmere, was shut down. I had to take a shuttle bus to North Station and found that the entrance to the Green Line had been moved across the street; I felt like I had been away for a few years only to return and discover everything had changed. It had only been about four months. Anyway, I enjoyed the concert except for the drunken fat-ass from New Brunswick who kept bumping into me and others, spilling beer all over the place. Afterward, I took the T back to North Station and had to walk a few blocks to catch a shuttle bus to Lechmere. Unfortunately, this meant I had to stand by myself on a dark sidestreet hoping the bus would arrive before I got mugged. It still beat parking near Lansdowne Street on the night of a Sox game.

Senor OJ has become a webcaster. Alas, it's just once a week when I'll be off playing hockey. But that doesn't mean you can't tune in. He'll be spinning the rockity rock rock for two hours next Tuesday the 28th starting at 9 p.m. here. It's a ShoutCast server run by the cool Rob "Guitar" Matthews, who spins tunes himself from it much of the time. Very cool. Right now, he's playing "She" by the Misfits, and it don't get much cooler than that.

People are always changing their names for different reasons, but this guy's new moniker is pretty funny.

The Onion does it again, this time taking aim at the crapulent faux-rockers of Matchbox Twenty.
Easy target, but humorous nonetheless.

Speaking of sucky rock artistes, nice to see former Creed poser Scott Stapp staying in the news.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A Quick One

So I hit the big 3-7 today. Not that I make a big deal out of birthdays anymore. They just seem to whip by. We actually cut the birthday cake last night, because tonight, I'm going to see the Tragically Hip play at Avalon in Boston. Should be a great show...not a bad way to spend the evening. Basically, the place will be full of Canuckian college students and expats (not to mention folks who drive down from the Great White North just for the show) fired up for the Hip and bummed out about the NHL. I should fit right in.

More later.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Bop Til You Drop

It was a total bummer this week to hear of the passing of Johnny Ramone at the age of 55 from prostate cancer. He's the third original Ramone to die in the last few years, which is pretty disturbing. The Ramones were amazingly influential when they came along in the mid-'70s, and it's hard to believe that three of them have departed this mortal coil.

Barry Bonds hit his 700th homer this week, which is a truly staggering feat. Regardless of what you think of him as a human being or whether you think he's taken steroids, it's still pretty amazing that he's hit 700 and could approach 800 before he's done.

Another potential record could be set this season if Ichiro Suzuki continues at the pace he's on and beats George Sisler's single-season hits mark of 257. He's been slumping a little bit the last week or so, but he's still hitting something like .430 since the All-Star break. I hope he breaks it.

There are many folks who are suffering from the NHL lockout--team employees, local businesses, charities, etc. And of course, the fans are the big losers. But this lunatic from Nebraska probably takes the cake. Wow.

Hey, for those of you gearing up for the college basketball season, definitely check out this blog. I have to admit I'm one of those losers who only pays real attention to college hoops during March Madness when my office pool kicks off. But this guy knows his stuff.

This is one time Macaulay Culkin should have stayed home alone.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

2 Minutes to Midnight

So they actually went ahead and did it. A day after Canada won the World Cup over Finland in an exciting final game, the NHL's owners announced they would lock out the players beginning at midnight tonight until they could establish a salary cap. Which, of course, the players' union is dead-set against. Result: No hockey for the foreseeable future. Both sides are being obstinate here, but one columnist really points the finger at NHL Commish Gary Bettman, whose tenure has now seen two lockouts, diminished popularity, a dilution of talent, pointless expansion and a more boring style of play. Way to go, Gary, you weasel.

Well, the majority of Americans probably won't notice the NHL is gone, what with the baseball playoffs, the NFL, college football and hoops (and hockey)...hell, even the NBA. Canadians will suddenly find themselves with nothing to do on Saturday nights, when normally they'd be watching Hockey Night in Canada. Imagine if there was no NFL football on Sunday afternoons...same deal. If there's no agreement by January, the league will cut bait on the entire 2004-05 season, making it the first season without a Stanley Cup since 1919, when a flu epidemic wiped out the finals.

As for me, I'll watch more college hockey, play with my kids more, and get some more reading done. Maybe I'll even blog more often. Who knows, this could be a good thing, after all.

Naaaaaaah.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Where Have All the Good Times Gone?

Don't worry, I'm not gonna start moping about the good ol' days. The Boston Globe had a story the other day about twentysomethings afflicted with the "quarter-life crisis," that post-college ennui that has been well documented in film and song. Apparently, it's such a problem that a book was written to document it, complete with a website at which angst-ridden quarter-lifers can commiserate. I had a job right out of college doing what I went to school for, so I never had any slacker moments, I suppose. Sometimes I look at what some of my fellow classmates are doing now and I get a little envious, but that never lasts long. I'm pretty satisfied with my life and career for the most part, although the whole bills/taxes thing is kind of depressing, especially considering I've been bumming rides from co-workers for a month now because I don't have a freakin' car. Ah, don't get me started.

The U.S. team lost in the semifinals of the World Cup of Hockey tonight, 2-1 to Finland. Canada plays the Czech Republic tomorrow for the right to face the Finns in the championship Tuesday. Then it's no hockey for who knows how long. Fools.

In other sports news, my coed softball team has our first-round playoff series tomorrow afternoon. Our best player will be on the sidelines because of a suspension and the other team is probably looking past us to the next round, but we could surprise some people.

My race on Labor Day went well. The weather was great--sunny in the 60s--and I felt good as we ran the torturous 15.5-mile course through Gloucester and Rockport. I was just thankful it wasn't hot and humid. Our goal was to run it in 8-minute miles (or 2 hours and 4 minutes) and we finished in 2:06; the only hitch came around mile 14 when we had to walk up a hill because we had no energy. Once at the top, we started running again and finished strong. I'm still a little sore from it, but I have three weeks until the Applefest Half-Marathon up in Hollis, NH. After finishing the Cape Ann race, that one should be no problem.

Hands down, this will be the scariest costume this Halloween.

I'm still dealing with the after-effects of a head cold and it feels a little something like this.

Friday, September 03, 2004

School daze

Labor Day weekend is here. Looks like it will be a nice one, dry and sunny and comfortable. Pretty much the complete opposite of what's about to hit Florida. Hurricane Frances is swooping in and is expected to slam the entire state, not just the coastline. I'm working with a potential author out of Orlando and when I called him today, he was outside boarding up the windows on his house. Damn.

The Republican convention wrapped up last night with Dubya's big speech; I only saw about a minute before I fell asleep. More interesting was this Zell Miller dude, a Democratic Senator out of Georgia who was frothing at the mouth Wednesday night as he ripped into Kerry and his own party. And then he went all 18th century on Chris Matthews of "Hardball" fame, challenging him to a duel. The Democrats responded by reminding Miller that PAX was showing a "Matlock" marathon, at which point he flew right back to his nursing home.

Watched some good hockey this week as the World Cup of Hockey got underway. The U.S. finally won a game tonight over Slovakia after getting dominated by Canada and Russia. I'm a little peeved that ESPN isn't showing any of the games this weekend; I understand college football is also starting this weekend, but for crying out loud, ESPN's got three or four freaking channels. Coverage picks up again on Tuesday.

It looks almost certain that the NHL season won't start on time; the players' union and the league have been meeting all week, but they're nowhere near a resolution. In the meantime, you can find some good hockey analysis and writing at Off Wing Opinion.

A shout-out to the UNH Wildcats football team, which started its season last night with a huge upset over 1-AA national champ Delaware. The Cats have struggled in recent years, so it's nice to see them off to a good start. Unfortunately, they lost their starting QB, Mike Granieri, for the season with a knee injury. A redshirt freshman, Ricky Santos, came in and led them to the victory.

Music lists are always the subject of great debate, but this one is fun to read: The Ten Most Hated Men in Rock. Very vitriolic, but also very funny. I would put Don Henley much higher than this guy did, though. Thanks to Largehearted Boy , consistently the best music blog around, for the tip.

My big race is Monday and it looks like the weather will cooperate. I took the week off from running until today to rest my sore Achilles' tendon. Ran five miles in Marblehead at lunch and felt pretty good, so hopefully I'll be okay Monday when I run three times that.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Strange days indeed

So there I am, watching the men's marathon in the Olympics and marveling at how great Brazilian Vanderlei Lima was doing, as he was leading the race by a decent margin with about three miles to go. Then all of a sudden, this wacko comes running out of the crowd and tackles the poor guy. Bystanders pull the nutjob off Lima, who's obviously stunned but keeps going. Alas, he soon was passed by Italian Stefano Baldini and American (by way of Eritrea) Meb Keflezighi, but he managed to at least hold on to win the bronze. There's no guarantee Lima would have won the gold because Baldini was coming on strong, but what a crappy way to lose it. Turns out the mad tackler was a former Irish priest who did something similar at a European Grand Prix race last year, running out into the middle of the track during a race, forcing racers going 200 mph to swerve around him. His cause is to proclaim the end of the world. What a strange way to end the Olympics, but at least it was free of any terrorism.

The Republican National Convention is underway in NYC, with thousands of protesters converging on the city to voice their opposition to Dubya. Meanwhile, the Republicans are getting their groove on, as evidenced by this fine fellow.

The audience at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday booed both Kerry's daughters and Bush's daughters as they made a plea for the yutes of America to get out and vote. Apparently, the crowd wanted the show to get back to its main focus: the lip-syncing of crappy songs.

A week away from my big race, and now my right Achilles tendon is acting up. Fortunately, I was already cutting back on the miles, so it's rest, ice and Advil for the next few days. Hopefully, I'll be able to get through the race without any problems.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Summer's Up

It's not quite over, but summer's winding down, that's for sure. Deb's back to work next week and the kids are off to daycare. It's disappointing, but I enjoy the fall, too. It's a great time of year to run outside. And my birthday is next month, although that's not much of a big deal anymore.

Okay, I admit it. In the week or so since I wrote that I didn't care about the Olympics this year, I've found myself watching it a little more. Part of the reason is Deb's totally into it, so it's on our TV regularly. But also, I appreciate the athleticism and hard work that goes into the events. I've taken more of an interest in the track and field events this time around. And even though I've been a U.S. citizen for 15 years, I still root for Canadian athletes to do well. It was a bummer today to hear that hurdler Perdita Felicien, who was the heavy favorite to win the gold in the women's 100M hurdles, tripped on the first hurdle and blew her chance at a medal. She's also from Pickering, Ontario, where I lived from age 7 to 14 before we moved to the U.S. She's only 23, so hopefully she'll be able to win it in 2008.

So what's the deal with Gail Devers' nails? If she gets an eyelash in her eye and absently pokes at her eye, she could rip her cornea out.

Hey, Van Halen's suing somebody, and it isn't David Lee Roth. They're going after the Baltimore Orioles for allegedly reneging on a deal to have VH play at Camden Yards. Apparently, the O's discovered they could get DLR to perform AND sell hot dogs at the same time.

I'm psyched for next Monday, when the World Cup of Hockey kicks off. It's a preseason exhibition tournament featuring teams from the major hockey powers in the world: Canada, the U.S., Russia, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Germany (guess they needed a round number). The teams are made up of the best NHL players, although many won't be playing because of injury or contract situations. The last World Cup (formerly known as the Canada Cup) was in 1996, when the U.S. beat Canada in the final. This time, Canada is the heavy favorite, with GM Wayne Gretzky hoping to pull off similar success to the gold medal his Canuckian team won at the 2002 Olympics. Mario Lemieux is playing along with many other stars, but the U.S. beat them last night in an exhibition game. The sad thing is, this may be the only hockey we see all season because of the ongoing labor problems in the NHL. The current collective bargaining agreement expires on September 15, right after the World Cup ends. Unfortunately, the already weak NHL will lose even more fans and money if there's an extended work stoppage. My guess is they'll work something out by January and play half a season, like they did 10 years ago. Dumbasses. The Leafs may not even get the chance to disappoint me this year. I'm sure my wife is really bummed about that.

The pro sports league that has it right is the NFL. They've got a salary cap, nonguaranteed contracts, and a short schedule that ensures that every game is an event. I'm spoiled because I live in New England and root for the Patriots, but it wasn't always like this. Before Parcells got here in '94, the Pats were godawful. But it wasn't until Bob Kraft hired Bill Belichick that the Pats really turned into a powerhouse. Two Super Bowls in three years is nothing to sneeze at. Even though they were pummelled by the Bengals the other night in an exhibition game, the Pats will be tough to beat this year.

This is the kind of the thing that makes the Onion so freakin' great. Along with all the other things.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Sunday afternoon in the blog

It's a gorgeous day here in Beverly. Crisp, sunny in the 70s, a complete reversal of the mugginess we've had for the last little while. So what am I doing here on the computer? Good question. Well, I ran 13 miles on the Around the Cape course with Matt and two speedier runners, Rick and John. Of course, they were off in the distance but we still ran over a minute faster per mile, which is probably way faster than we'd run the race. But we felt okay--except for some choice moments on some of the particularly tough hills. My big worry is that race day (Labor Day--two weeks away, dammit!) will be hot and sticky. Both times we ran the course, the temps were cool. Whatever, we'll be fine.

I also mowed the grass in the backyard today after what seems like an eternity of letting it go. It was pretty thick, especially with some of the big thunderstorms we've had lately. And I've got a couple of softball games tonight. So I'm not a total slug.

VH1 continues its descent into suckiosity (except for the excellent VH1 Classic channel) with its latest reality TV show: They're searching for losers who look like the Partridge Family. Do we really need another version of that crappy Brady Bunch ripoff? Not to mention the fact that most of the people vying to get on the thing probably have never even seen it.

Ever feel like all those heist movies are totally implausible? Two dudes in Oslo went into a museum armed with handguns in broad daylight and walked out with Edvard Munch's classic painting, "The Scream."They must have some really tight security over there. A painting worth millions and that's all it took to get it. Amazin'.

More later.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Let the Games begin

The Athens Olympics kinda snuck up on me, and I have to admit, I'm not as into the games as I once was. A lot of it has to do with the network overkill: Bob Costas yammering on endlessly about Michael Phelps' favorite toothbrush, the heavily edited coverage airing hours after I already read the results on the Internet, and the jingoistic fervor that pervades every commercial. Not to mention the fact that I prefer the Winter Olympics, anyway. But a few days in, I find myself watching it from time to time, not constantly, but checking in. I'm rooting for the Canadian baseball team to win a medal, and I'll check out some of the track and field events, soccer, and other stuff. It definitely seems as though the Games have lost their luster, though. When I was a kid, you watched whatever event was happening, even if you couldn't stand it. Gymnastics? Sure. Synchronized swimming? You bet. But now? Forget it.

It seems like an idiot has to do this at every major sporting event. Has anybody actually gone to that web site?

Hurricane Charley may have kicked the crap out of Florida, but by the time he got up here, he was more like Uncle Charley from "My Three Sons," a cranky old buzzard: "Dammit, Ernie, can't you kids see I'm busy baking a cake?" We got a lot of rain Sunday morning, and me and my buddy Matt ran 12 miles in it on the hilly course of the Around the Cape race (15.5 miles) in Gloucester and Rockport. We were encouraged that despite the punishing nature of the course, we felt pretty good afterwards. Of course, it was a comfortable 65 Sunday; let's see how when the temps are in the 80s or 90s. The race is only a few weeks away. Deb has been doing well in her training for the B.A.A. Half Marathon; she ran eight miles this morning.

Near brush with near greatness: A good friend of mine dated the uberhot Blanchard Ryan when we were all attending UNH in the late '80s; she was a model then and went by her real name, Sue. Now she's starring in the "'Jaws' meets 'Blair Witch'" indie flick "Open Water." I only met her a few times, and to be honest, I hardly remember her (dude, it was a looooong time ago). I do remember that we were all amazed that my friend landed such a babe; I think they dated for a few years. She was on Conan O'Brien last Friday and still looks great. She hasn't had a lot of roles, but she might start getting some with all the attention she's getting for this movie. Meanwhile, my buddy is married and has a kid and is way too gentlemanly to ever discuss it, but he's the envy of those of us who know that he dated someone who is now semi-famous. Of course, we envied him back then, too.

Brush with greatness: Also when I was back at UNH, working as news editor of The New Hampshire, I had an encounter with another individual who went on to fame and fortune. There I was, just minding my own business at the news desk, when in walks some dorky looking dude with long hair, glasses and a beard. He had a flyer for his band's upcoming concert in the area and asked me if I could get it in the paper. I said sure and took it from him, but I guess I wasn't enthusiastic enough because he kept pestering me about it. Finally, I told him to get lost because he was getting on my nerves. I figured he was just another loser in a band going nowhere. That, my friends, was Trey Anastasio, lead singer and guitarist of Phish, which played its farewell show on Sunday in Vermont. Hey, what did I know?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Monday, August 09, 2004

Auto blotto

Hola. Sorry for the gap between posts but it was a busy week. First and foremost, my car officially bit the big one. Things weren't looking good over the winter when the coolant kept leaking, but our mechanic was able to get it working again. Unfortunately, the same problem started happening again and it turns out the head gasket is cracked, which would require mucho bucks to fix it. Quite frankly, we decided it was too much. The car's a '94 Civic with 123,000 miles on it. I was hoping to get a couple more years out of it before we had to shell out for a minivan because we're still paying off the Maxima. I was only using it to go to Marblehead and back (round trip: 15 miles) every day, although there's a lot of idling involved because of the glacial crawl of traffic to and from M-head. We're not in the position to get a new car right now, especially with two kids going to daycare in the fall, which means we must get creative. I was thinking I could get a bike, but that won't work in the winter. Sooooooo....anybody got a car they don't want?

We've been through this before. Back when I was working at Webnoize, I was just using my '92 Hyundai to get to the train station and back. One blustery night in June 2000, just six weeks before we got married, a Nor'easter dropped an 800-pound tree branch on top of my car while it was parked in our driveway. Totaled the damn thing. The only thing that survived was my UNH alumni sticker, which Deb preserved in a frame with a couple of photos of the carnage. Since I was taking the train anyway, I went for a year and a half without a car to save money. It worked out okay because I was working in Cambridge and we had no kids, but once I came back to HCPro, I needed a car. And dammit, I still do.

The awful season for the Blue Jays continued yesterday as they fired manager Carlos Tosca after losing their third straight shellacking to the Yankees. Just about everything that could go wrong this year went wrong. It wasn't totally Tosca's fault, but it's always the manager who takes the fall when the team sucks. That said, he also made a lot of questionable moves with the bullpen, among other things. Well, at least I have the hockey season to look forward to--oh, crap. Go Pats!

ESPN.com compiled a list of some of the songs playing when baseball players step up to the plate? Pretty interesting, but what's up with Jays outfielder Reed Johnson requesting William Hung's version of "She Bangs"? Dude, the whole season is your fault.

I ran the Yankee Homecoming 10-miler last week and finished in 1:22 (an 8:15 per mile pace), which I was pretty happy with. Especially considering it was in the low 80s and humid as hell out, even with the rain we got at the start of the race. I started with my buddy Matt, who has clearly surpassed me in running ability during my hiatus from serious running. Man, I was sucking wind after two miles trying to keep up with him, so I just decided to let him go on and run by myself. Eventually, I got into a good rhythm and felt a lot better and finished pretty strong, only three minutes behind Matt. Two nights later, Deb ran the Beverly Homecoming 5K
and Hannah ran her first race, a 50-yard dash for kids 2 and under. She started off going to the right before straightening out and finishing strong, staying on her feet the whole time. And she wore her race number the rest of the night. Fun stuff.

Funkateer Rick James departed this mortal coil last week. Autopsy was inconclusive on the cause of death; he died in his sleep Friday. But let's face it, the dude lived an insane life. Crack, whores, crack whores; you name it, he did it. His "Behind the Music" was epic. But he did write some good songs: "Super Freak" and "Give It To Me Baby"chief among them. Unfortunately, he was also responsible for Eddie Murphy's music career; remember "Party All the Time"? In 1990, "Super Freak" was hijacked by MC Hammer for "U Can't Touch This," and James couldn't take advantage because he was rockin' the crack pipe. He cleaned up his act in the late '90s and tried to make a comeback before having a stroke. One of the most interesting factoids is James' shortlived band with Neil Young, the Mynah Birds, which was formed in Toronto while James was AWOL from the Navy. The band broke up before recording an album because U.S. authorities came to retrieve James, leaving Young and bassist Bruce Palmer to head to L.A. to form Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills. Very cool stuff, well documented in the fascinating Neil Young bio "Shakey,"which I read last summer.

By the way, if you're into music, you've got to check out the revamped AllMusic Guide. They've really spiffed that thing up. Looks great.

Speaking of books, I'm onto "The Culture of Fear" by Barry Glassner. It was featured in "Bowling for Columbine" and looks at how the mass media overhypes various "threats" to society that people commonly fear such as road rage, violence in schools, Internet addiction. Being a former member of the media (albeit the local media), I usually bristle at the "blame the media" mentality that uninformed people often have, but in a lot of cases, I can understand it. Just look at the Boston Herald these days. I've been reading it for 15 years and it's always had a refreshing trashiness to it, but it's turning into the Weekly World News. During the DNC, it trumpeted a lead front-page story about how Kerry's daughters were throwing themselves at Ben Affleck. Based on a gossip column item. Was that really the biggest story that day? I have some good friends that are fine reporters there, but they're getting overshadowed by the circus act.

Don't you just love it when scientists try to scare the crap out of you?

Friday, July 30, 2004

Conventional wisdom

The DNC has packed up its circus tents and moved on, and it appears that Boston is still standing. I only know what I saw on the TV, because I stayed the hell away, as did a lot of people, apparently. The expected traffic nightmare never materialized because so many people were scared off by the hype. I didn't watch a whole lot of the coverage, but I did see Kerry's speech last night, which was surprisingly good. Also good was Bill Clinton's address earlier in the week, which was just a reminder of what a charismatic figure he is, especially compared to Kerry. At any rate, things will be getting back to normal around here.

If you haven't seen this yet, you definitely should. I interviewed one of the guys from JibJab.com a few years back when I was working for the Webnoize. Now they're the toast of the nation for this short, which is hi-larious.

A mere eight years after it first came out, "South Park" is going into syndication in the fall of '05. Why anyone will want to watch it in a heavily edited form (because you know it's going to be hacked to bits) is beyond me. I'll probably check it out just to see how lame it is, kind of like when "Pulp Fiction" was edited for TV several years back. Some things you just need to see in their original form. I don't watch any edited movies on the major networks. What's the point? As for "South Park," I was a rabid fan of the show for the first three or four seasons and then the movie came out, and it was awesome. And for some reason, I've never watched it again. I can't explain it. It's like I just felt there was no way they could top the movie, which was so over-the-top profane and hilarious. I could always rent the DVDs or something.

In Ronnie James Dio news, and I know you were waiting for some, the wizened wizard of metal used his broadsword to force California indie band Dios to change its name because he felt it was too close to the name of his band, Dio (duh). Dios is now known as Dios Malos, although they're not thrilled by it. In Rolling Stone (yeah, I know, RS sucks), bassist J.P. Caballero said, "It's pretty retarded...When we named our band we were thinking of God. [Dios] is 'God' in Spanish. That's what it means to hundreds of millions of people all over the world. It didn't really seem like there was going to be any point of confusion. We're up against rainbows and magic."

Apple just released the new 4G iPod. It's a little thinner, a little better, and the 20GB version is $299. I'm still rocking my 2G 10-gig iPod, which is working great for me. I run with it occasionally, but mainly I plug it into my speakers at work and enjoy the shuffle feature.

In addition to the Around the Cape 25K (15 miles for you non-metric folks) I'm running in September, I just signed up for the Applefest Half-Marathon in Hollis, NH, on October 2. I was thinking of doing the Maine Half-Marathon, but this is less of a drive. Plus my buddy Rick Johnson's running it, although he's way faster than I am.

Not a great week for dentists, both in and out of the office. Although in the first case, it was a lot worse for the patients. Yecch.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Vacation, all I ever wanted
 
I'm baaaaack. We got back yesterday from our trip to the Joisey shore, tired and sick and in my case, severely sunburned. Despite all that, it was a great vacation. We stayed at the Fairway Villas, a Marriott golf resort in Galloway, NJ, about 20 minutes from Atlantic City. Deb's brother Matt has a time share condo there that is big enough to hold both our families; his inlaws own the condo across the hall and they were there all week, too. We got there Saturday afternoon after a horrendously long drive down that included a flat tire in Connecticut, bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Garden State Parkway, and various crying fits from the girls. We hit Brigantine Beach a few times, which was a blast  but was also where I got scorched. I don't usually lie on the beach much because I'm prone to a skin rash from prolonged exposure, but I was running around with Hannah and then by myself in the ocean, where the waves were humongous. It was fun, but the last few days have been pretty uncomfortable. I also played a round of golf at one of the two courses at the villa. It was the first time I've touched the clubs in a year and I have to say I wasn't totally horrendous. We hit Atlantic City a few times; I didn't gamble at all, but Deb lost a few bucks on a slot machine. All in all, a lot of fun. The drive home yesterday had us dealing with torrential downpours through NJ and New York, in-car diaper changes (at a rest stop), and rush-hour traffic on Route 128. But we made it safe, sound and exhausted.
 
Starting tomorrow, I'm getting serious about getting back into primo running shape. I've put on about 10 pounds in the last year and I haven't been running as much since Lily came into the picture. I've decided to do the Around the Cape race on Labor Day in Gloucester, a 15-mile beast of an event that I've wussed out of doing the last few years. It should be a good challenge and it'll get me back to where I was; then I hope to do a half-marathon later in the fall. I've already started drinking more water and cutting back on unnecessary calories, so now that vacation is over I should start seeing  some results. I don't believe in fad diets, just food in moderation and plenty of exercise.
 
Thanks to the magic of TiVo, I've been able to watch shows I've been meaning to watch for years now. Like The Daily Show  with Jon Stewart. I've always been a fan of Stewart, who's a funny bastid I've been watching since he had his own talk show on MTV 10 years ago, and the show itself, which  I was watching when Craig Kilborn was the host. But I lost touch with it and finally remembered to start recording it last week. And goldangit if it ain't just one of the smartest, funniest things I've seen in a long time. There's definitely a political bent, so if you're looking for wacky headlines, stick to Leno. Stewart skewers both Bush and Kerry, but mainly Bush because there's just so damn much to make fun of. I highly recommend it as an alternative to both the network newscasts and political partisanship in general.
 
Speaking of politics, the Democratic National Convention kicks off this week in Boston, grinding all business and traffic to a halt while providing enough hot air to power all the casinos in Atlantic City. I'm so glad I don't work in Cambridge anymore, but going to work anywhere near Boston will be a nightmare for anyone for the next week.
 
Thanks to my mother-in-law, Deb and I were able to sneak out this afternoon for a rare movie and dinner date.  We decided to see "The Door in the Floor" because we had both read the book it was based on, John Irving's A Widow for One Year. The movie actually follows the first third of Irving's novel, which is an excellent book but as with most of his books, nearly impossible to condense into a two-hour movie. There's just too much going on. The film captures the off-kilter and complex feel of the book, and the cast led by Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger and Jon Foster is superb. Very rewarding experience. We saw it at a local second-run film house called Hollywood Hits, which charges less than the Loews googolplex across town and therefore attracts large numbers of old people and little kids. They also show a fair number of art-house flicks that are out of the mainstream, and it never fails when we see a movie there that some confused old couple stumbles out of the theater halfway through the movie because it wasn't what they expected. "Not enough doors, way too many floors!"
 
Mucho congrats to Paul Molitor, who along with Dennis Eckersley is being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday. I had always thought he was a great player, but when he signed with the Jays in '93, I really saw how great he was. An excellent hitter and consummate professional.
 
Speaking of great Jays, Pat Hentgen called it quits today. He was in the midst of an awful season and just decided he didn't have it anymore. He'll always be remembered as the first Jay to win a Cy Young award (in '96, followed by Roger Clemens the next two years and Roy Halladay last year) and was a member of the '93 World Series champion team along with Molitor.
 
Okay, that's enough for now.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Less Talk, More Blog

After my monstrosity of a post the other day, I figured I'd go back to my traditional format. Which, of course, is no format at all.

Michael "Thanksdad" Powell is back...with his very own blog. It's not really a blog, per se. Powell writes a column defending his stupid decisions and then a bunch of Always On members post responses, to which he posts responses. Not exactly riveting, but it is interesting to see the counterbalance of ass-kissers and Stern fans bashing the FCC chief. As a wise man once said, "His whole head sucks."

VH1 has begun airing its latest nostalgia fest, I Love the 90s. Ah yes, there's nothing like C-level celebs like Mo Rocca sharing their memories of pop culture. Who am I kidding, that stuff is like crack. Once you start watching it, it's hard to stop. Coming soon from VH1: I Love the Early 00s. Remember that crazy song, "Who Let the Dogs Out?" That was wack.

The baseball all-star game was tonight, and Fox annoyed me right from the start. Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie was slated to sing the Canadian national anthem before the game, but Fox figured we needed to see more Taco Bell commercials, so they didn't show it. They just cut back from commercial to the American anthem and the first pitch by Muhammad Ali. Puds. By the way, the new Hip album "In Between Evolution" is muy excellente. A lot rawer than their last several CDs, harking back to their first few albums. Looking forward to seeing them come back to the area.

Back to the all-star game, I had to laugh that after all the Clemens hype that Fox aired during the pre-game show (including a stupid intro based on "The Blues Brothers"), Roger came out and promptly got lit up for six runs in the first. That sound you heard was casual fans all over the country clicking back to whatever stupid reality TV show is on tonight.

It's the midway point of the baseball season and my Blue Jays are playing even crappier than expected, 10 games under .500 and fighting Baltimore for last place in the AL East. Sure, it hasn't helped that the bullpen sucks and they had significant injuries to their top four hitters--Delgado, Wells, Catalanotto and Greg Myers--but even when everyone was in the lineup in April, they were awful.

Rob Bradford was up in Toronto over the weekend doing a book signing for "Chasing Steinbrenner" with a group of Jays fans. He surprised them by bringing along a special guest: Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi, who is featured in the book along with Sox GM Theo Epstein. I talked to Rob after he got back; he said people couldn't have been nicer up there, except for the print media, who don't like Ricciardi and therefore have snubbed Bradford and his book. They're just mad because the Leafs haven't done squat this offseason except remain old by signing all their geezer free agents. But that's another bitch session for another day.

I think the Brits are onto something here. Or is that on something?

This guy is not loving life. I just don't understand the attraction of it all.

Hold onto your hats: It's finally here. Or it's about to be. I saw a commercial for it the other night.