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.