Saturday, December 31, 2005

Fond Farewell

Just a few more hours until they rock the bells to welcome in 2006. After a few days of relatively warm and wet weather (40s and 50s), it's pretty damn chilly out there today. We're taking the girls to the downtown Beverly First Night festivities for kids, which include face painting and music. Then we'll come home, put them to bed and enjoy some steak tips and vino.

Can't end the year without listing my top 10 albums (yes, I still listen to albums) of 2005:

1. Queens of the Stone Age--Lullabyes to Paralyze

2. Spoon--Gimme Fiction

3. The New Pornographers--Twin Cinema

4. Green Day--American Idiot

5. Beck--Guero

6. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists--Shake the Sheets

7. Greg Dulli--Amber Headlights

8. The White Stripes--Get Behind Me, Satan

9. Bloc Party--Silent Alarm

10. Death from Above 1979--You're a Woman, I'm a Machine

Honorable mention: Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation--Mighty Rearranger; Bob Mould--Body and Song; The Mars Volta--Frances the Mute; Early Man-Closing In; Elliott Smith--From a Basement on the Hill

Good stuff I haven't had enough time to listen to: Drive By Truckers--The Dirty South; My Morning Jacket--Z; Rogue Wave--Descended Like Vultures; Danger Doom--The Mouse and the Mask

Rock on, rockers. Catch you on the flip side.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wordless Chorus

Man, another year is winding down. Can you believe we're already halfway through this freakin' decade? Damn.

Hope you had a good Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or whatevah. The girls had a blast. Their cousins were here for a few days and they received plenty of toys, including a Dora the Explorer house and related accessories, a shopping cart, and the Cinderella and Toy Story DVDs. I hooked Deb up with a 1GB iPod Shuffle, some new sunglasses, and a bunch of running-related gear. As for me, I also received running gear, an iTunes gift card (that I used to buy My Morning Jacket's Z and Rogue Wave's Descended Like Vultures), a book (Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation), some sweaters, shirts, and other cool shiznitt.

Yo ho ho:
  • No surprise here, but it seems like every other week there's a story warning about the dangers that prolonged use of iPods has on hearing. The damage is exacerbated by the use of those white earbuds because they're that much closer to your eardrums than the old-school headphones. I stopped using the earbuds early on because they didn't fit properly in my ears; instead, at the gym or when I'm running I use Sony h.ear headphones; they stay in my ears and the earbuds aren't completely in your ear, so you can hear oncoming traffic and don't totally blast your ears out. When I'm on a plane, I use the Creative "ear-muff" headphones I got with my old Nomad Jukebox MP3 player; they just sound better. Most of the time I use my iPod (in the car, at work), I'm listening through speakers, so hopefully that will minimize the hearing damage. And at work, I listen to my music at a low level.
  • As a big fan of the old Beavis and Butt-head series, I was excited a few months back when MTV released the first volume of the "Mike Judge Collection" DVD sets. I was hoping the DVDs would include the segments where B&B watch and critique videos, as I found those parts of the show much funnier than the so-called action segments. Alas, it turns out that only about a dozen videos were included in the first set because of the high cost of securing the music rights; since every episode included at least three or four videos, that's a lot of the show getting cut. Courtesy of the Wikipedia, here's an incomplete list of videos that appeared on the show. You often got to see parts of videos there that you would never see on any other show on MTV, and of course, the boys had some hilarious commentary about them. Looks like there will never be a complete version of the show on DVD, at least not without the damn thing costing $500. It makes me glad that Dr. Doobs and I bought a collection of old B&Bs on the VHS a few years back. The issue over music rights isn't unique to Beavis and Butt-head. As this article from Wired notes, a great music-centric show like WKRP in Cincinnati used so many songs that a DVD release would cost a fortune to release. In fact, when it was rerun on Nick at Night a few years ago, the original songs were replaced with cheaper originals. Les Nessman dancing around to a song that wasn't Foreigner's "Hot Blooded"? Sacrilege! I was glad when the Freaks and Geeks DVD set came out last year and they were able to include all the great music used on the show, including classic Van Halen, Ted Nugent, Rush, Styx, the Who, etc. The list price was a little higher ($69.99), but it was worth it.
  • Speaking of classic DVDs, the 25th anniversary "Don't Call Me Shirley" version of Airplane is out and apparently, it's time for the Jive Dudes from the movie to step back into the spotlight. Solid.
  • It has been a good week for my favorite sports teams. The Jays keep having a kick-ass offseason by finalizing the trade for slugger Troy Glaus, and the Leafs won their fourth in a row tonight by knocking off the red-hot Buffalo Sabres (when's the last time anyone said that?) in an exciting tilt that was decided by a shootout. Sweeeeet.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)

It's Christmas Eve, y'all, so best wishes for a happy whatever you do/don't celebrate. The title of this post refers to a great Ramones holiday classic, which you can find along with plenty of other Christmas songs (including my personal favorite, "Father Christmas" by the Kinks) at the great music blog Pimps of Gore.

Here about 30 minutes north of Boston, one would expect to find today a classic Christmas tableau. One would be dead wrong. There is snow on the ground, but it's melting as the temps hit 50 today. It's pretty quiet around here; Deb's off doing some last-minute shopping and the girls are upstairs taking their naps. Deb's brother Matt and his family will arrive late tomorrow night, so the kids will have two Christmases: the regular one and the one in which they exchange gifts. Should be fun.

Jingle bells:
  • The Blue Jays keep making noise. Word is they've all but completed a trade to bring slugger Troy Glaus to Toronto from Arizona for Gold Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson and deposed closer Miguel Batista. While I hate to see Hudson go, the Jays sorely needed another big bat, so this is a good trade. They'll need to make a few more moves because they've got a ton of corner infielders, but this should help them stay competitive with the Yankees and Red Sox next year.

Aiight, catch you later.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Billy Jack Attack

Hey. Checking in midweek with a quick post. No last-minute Christmas panic here. Everything's under control. Except for the whole cleaning-the-house-before-company-arrives deal, but we've got a few days to get everything done, so I'm not worried.

Got a couple of runs in this week with temps in the 20s and not much room on the roads. The icy patches are a little tricky, even in broad daylight.

Tilt-a-whirl:
  • Sports fans here in the Boston area are all agog because free agent center fielder Johnny Damon, a key member of the Red Sox the last few years, signed with another club. But it wasn't just any club, it was the hated Yankees. Other former Sox have gone to the Bronx Bombers before (Roger Clemens), but few have gone directly from one to the other (Wade Boggs comes to mind). Damon might as well have been hiding Osama Bin Laden in his basement; what he's done is considered downright traitorous to Red Sox Nation. And, of course, by going to the Yankees, he'll have to shave his beard and cut his hair to meet George Steinbrenner's club rules; he'll go back to the clean-cut look he had when he first joined the Sox. As a Jays fan, it's nice to see the Sox get weaker, especially considering the potential replacements available are nowhere near as good a leadoff man as Damon. Gotta love baseball's Hot Stove League. Keeps things interesting.
  • The Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, are fast approaching (they kick off Feb. 10) and defending gold medal hockey winner Team Canada unveiled its roster today. GM Wayne Gretzky and co. stuck with many of the stalwarts from the 2002 team and the 2004 World Cup champs, keeping young talent like Sidney Crosby, Eric Staal, and Jason Spezza on the outside. I figured one or two of that trio would make the team, especially since Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman had both said they wouldn't be playing because of injury and/or diminished performance. Staal, Spezza and Maple Leafs defenseman Bryan McCabe (who leads all NHL d-men in scoring) are on the reserve squad, to fill in if someone gets hurt. The U.S. roster was announced earlier in the week, with longtime regulars Jeremy Roenick and Brian Leetch (who are both having subpar seasons) left off the team. Ever the self-promoter, Roenick complained that he was "blackballed" by USA Hockey and that he should have been named to the team based on his past accomplishments, not his current stats. He then broke his finger in his next game and will be out for four to six weeks, so it's a moot point.
  • This has already been well blogumented, but just wanted to point you to a hi-larious video that ran on Saturday Night Live last weekend featuring Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg rapping about the joys of going to see the Chronicles of Narnia. Without a doubt, this is one of the funniest things I've seen on SNL in many moons. Check it out here.
  • Looks like this fish is a distant relative of the three-eyed goldfish on the The Simpsons.
  • Finally, this video clip from mid-80s Chicago is unbelievable. Two words: Ditka rapping. Wow.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Bada Bing

Man, we're hurtling toward Christmas at warp speed. I just spent part of the afternoon sitting in traffic picking up a last few gifts. Not my favorite activity.

Deb has kicked off her marathon fundraising activities and is doing impressively well. I emailed a bunch of my friends and co-workers and they have already kicked in some decent amounts, so thanks to everyone who has pledged and who is thinking of pledging toward Deb's charity, the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange. You can pledge via the InterWeb by clicking here.

Okay, so I've been saying for the last few months that I only wanted to run one marathon next year, the Chicago Marathon in October. But now I'm thinking I might take a crack at the Vermont City Marathon again in late May, since I was registered to run it this year but couldn't because of injury. Having gone up there to cheer my bro-in-law Matt and my buddy Rick on, I saw firsthand what a great race the VCM is. And it's five to six weeks after Deb's marathon, so our training schedules won't overlap too much. It's not final yet, but I can wait because I can sign up at any time.

Screaming yellow zonkers:
  • The music industry isn't satisfied with suing folks who share music files online; now it's going after sites that host lyrics, too. The Music Publishers Association announced its plans to sue a handful of companies that distribute lyrics to copyrighted songs, and Warner Chappell Music even threatened to sue a software developer who create an app that lets iTunes users search for lyrics. After receiving a ton of bad press, the publishing company relented and apologized for its tactics. But the MPA still will forge on with its campaign to alienate music fans everywhere, even threatening jail time for some especially egregious offenders. These guys just don't get it.
  • Gee, this war on terror thing is going great. Turns out the Iraqis had caught the infamous Abu Musab al-Zarqawi last year and then let him go because they didn't realize who he was. Nice.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

As Serious As Your Life

Say hey. It finally looks like winter around these parts. We got a nasty storm Friday, featuring whiteout conditions at times, gale-force winds, and even some thunder and lightning. Here on the coast, we only got about six inches or so because for part of the day it rained, but go a couple of miles inland to a town like Danvers and they had about 16 inches of the white stuff. I went for a run in the morning when it had just started and I had a tough time seeing because the stuff was blowing right in my eyes; plus I almost fell on my butt a few times on icy patches. As per usual, it was the first storm of the year so everyone drove like total idiots. I saw a lot of accidents and cars stuck in the snow. Fortunately, Deb and the girls were home all day because school was cancelled. The weekend was much nicer, still chilly but not bad at all. I took the girls in the backyard today to play in the snow; Lily thought it tasted pretty good.

Hey man, nice shot:
  • I was saddened at the news yesterday that legendary comedian Richard Pryor had died of a heart attack at the age of 65. Not shocked, since the guy's been pretty sick for quite a while now after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the '80s. My first memories of Pryor were from seeing him in movies like Stir Crazy and Silver Streak, which offered funny but sanitized versions of his wild comic persona. It was only later when I saw some of his concert movies on HBO that I really got a taste of what he was really like, and holy crap, was he a funny bastard. Moreso in the '70s, he was one of the first (if not THE first) comedian to really get in America's face about racism. He had an edge and anger to his comedy that was both funny and shocking. About '83 or so, my dad brought home a borrowed videotape (we had just purchased our first VCR) of stuff taped off HBO, including Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip and we watched it together. It was pretty uncomfortable for me, because even though I thought the movie was hilarious, I felt weird watching it with my dad. Especially since I had never sworn in front of my parents, even though I had been dropping f-bombs on the playground since I was in second grade (my little brother busted me a few times, but he never told my parents, even though he certainly threatened to on many occasions). I had just bought Eddie Murphy's Comedian cassette, but only listened to it on headphones because it was ridiculously profane (and side-splittingly funny--I knew most of the routines before I ever heard the tape because my buddies at school would recite them daily). So I was no stranger to blue comedy, but I learned that Eddie Murphy was only following in Pryor's footsteps. Richard Pryor's work is best judged by his standup routines, which bear out the fact that he was a genius.
  • Here's something you don't see every day: Man who plays dumbass crook on The Sopranos gets shot after playing dumbass crook in real life.
  • As cool as the Wikipedia is, I've always wondered what could keep bogus information from getting in. Apparently, judging from incidents like this, the answer is nothing.
  • I was heartened to see the Blue Jays making waves this offseason by signing the top free agent closer (Baltimore's B.J. Ryan) and starter (Florida's A.J. Burnett) and trading for some more offense in Milwaukee's Lyle Overbay. GM J.P. Ricciardi was finally given some money to spend by ownership and apparently, he's going for it. Some are saying they overpaid, but I for one am glad to see them finally getting some big names. Will they pass the Yankees and Red Sox? Who knows, but it's nice to see them trying.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Viva Las Vegas

It's good to be back in New England, although I could have done without the whole temperature in the teens bit. And now the forecast is for our first real snowstorm of the year to hit tomorrow. Great.

Vegas was fun, despite the fact that various delays led to me arriving almost six hours late Sunday. The conference went well, and me and my co-worker Matt even played some slot machines; I think I lost about $15 on the nickel and quarter slots. What can I say, I'm a wildman. We were staying at Treasure Island, a pretty nice hotel and casino, but we also checked out the new Wynn casino, as well as the Bally. One strange phenomenon the first was the prevalence of people every few feet trying to give away cards; the cards advertised local escort services. The weird thing is, the next night, all of the "sales reps" were gone. It was almost as if they all quit or something. That night, we decided to explore the older, seedier side of the Strip and ended up going into the Stardust, which is an old-school casino. And when I say old-school, I mean straight outta 1963 old, right down to the waitresses, who were all in their 50s and wearing short shorts and control top hose. Scary. We didn't stick around there too long.

I flew out yesterday on a direct flight to Boston and almost didn't realize I had a celebrity neighbor. When I got on the plane, there was a guy in the window seat who was already asleep, which was strange since boarding only began about five to 10 minutes earlier. I had the aisle seat and nobody sat between us, so I just started reading Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes; I had met him along with my bro-in-law Matt at the NYC Marathon and the book was a quick read. (I love reading on plane rides. It seems to be the only time I get much reading done. On the extended trip down, I finished the painfully hilarious Superstud: Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin by Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig.)

Anyhoo, the guy snoozed for the first two hours or so of the 4.5-hour flight. When he woke up, he ordered and downed four Heinekens in a row; I was deep in my book and was listening to my iPod, so I didn't talk to the guy or anything. One of the stewardesses said something to him like, "The girls are going crazy back there. They're having a flashback," which struck me as curious, but I didn't get it at first. Later, it kind of hit me that the guy looked like Jordan Knight, a member of the late '80s/early '90s boy band New Kids on the Block; I was never a fan or anything, but they certainly got plenty of press around here since they were from Boston. I wondered why he was traveling in coach, but it's not like he's riding the top of the charts anymore. Sure enough, at the baggage claim, a girl had her photograph taken with him and he seemed to have a little entourage. I did a little research and it turns out he was in Vegas appearing Tuesday night at the Billboard Music Awards. So there you have it.

More blogtography tomorrow.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Get It Together

Hola. Getting ready to fly to Vegas this weekend for a work conference. I'm not much of a gambler; the extent of my gambling includes football pools (for entertainment purposes only, of course) and the odd Megamillions ticket. But there is something to be said for the magnificent artificiality of it all.

Weebles wobble but they don't fall down:
  • I'm still in shock over the Bruins trading captain and franchise player Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks for Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau. I just don't get it. I'm a Leafs fan, so I'm glad to see Boston get rid of Thornton, but I don't understand their reasoning. Sure, they needed to shake things up because they've been horrible, but to trade your best player and captain doesn't make sense. And even worse, they certainly didn't get fair value in return. Stuart's a good, not great, defenseman and Sturm is a decent forward, while Primeau is yet another defensive role player. It figures; the only time the Bruins are the main topic of discussion on Boston sports talk radio is when they do something stupid like this. The whole thing smacks of a salary dump to me, which of course makes me think Jeremy Jacobs told Mike O'Connell to cut bait for the season; both O'Connell and Jacobs were on the radio today talking about how this makes the team better. Right. Why not trade Thornton to a team with another underachieving star, like Bertuzzi? Bruins fans will not be happy with this one, but Sharks fans should be psyched. This is like a bad fantasy league trade that gets overturned by the commissioner. And of course, as everyone predicted the team would be even worse, the Bruins went out tonight and shut out the awesome Senators, 3-0. And Sturm scored the game winner. Go figure.
  • The craziness in Canada continues. A political party in Quebec has threatened to secede from the rest of the country for years, but now they're pushing for the province to have its own hockey and soccer teams playing in international tournaments. A comparison would be Scotland or Wales having their own teams in the World Cup, while still remaining part of Great Britain. The proposal is one of the Bloc Quebecois party's campaign promises, and its highly unlikely that stars like Mario Lemieux and Martin Brodeur would opt to play for Quebec rather than Canada. Still, sounds tres stupide (thanks to Off Wing Opinion for the tip).
  • So, supposedly Scott Stapp (former lead yowler/Vedder wannabe of Creed) and members of crap rockers 311 got into a bar brawl last week. Makes one yearn for the good ol' days of MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch.
  • And here's a couple of guys in Washington state who took a love of horses a little too far. Yikes.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dirt Floor

Hey, happy Cyber Monday, everybody. You know, the busiest online shopping day of the year. I'm doing my part by not doing any online shopping.

That four-day weekend just flew by. The T-giving Day race was a chilly, wet affair. We got a dusting of snow the night before, but the snow turned to rain that morning. I ran faster than I have in a long time (7:33 pace); it was fun to run in a race with Deb and my brother-in-law Matt, as well as several friends of mine. Later in the day, I definitely ate too much, but not to a ridiculous degree. On Friday, Matt and I held down the fort while the ladies went shopping at 5 a.m. After they got back, we went running and then caught Jarhead at the local googolplex; I had heard and read mixed reviews, but it was pretty good. Certainly doesn't match up to other classic war films like Apocalypse Now, but I enjoyed it.

Wiggity wack:
  • Some crazy doings up in Canada, where the minority Liberal government received a no-confidence vote from the three opposing parties today. This means an election is going to happen in January. It's pretty interesting to see such major shifts midstream, unlike the U.S., where we're stuck with a president for four years no matter what. Something similar happened in 1979, when conservative prime minister Joe Clark was given the boot only nine months after taking office.
  • Having a fat ass can be hazardous to your health. That's the conclusion reached by a new Irish study that found that fatter butts are causing many drug injections to miss their mark. The study recommends that hospitals use longer needles to ensure that medication is effectively delivered. Laying off the donuts might help, too.
  • Nut allergies are no fun, let me tell you. As someone allergic to all types of nuts, I have to be extremely careful about what I eat. Of course, my wife loves peanut butter, so she steers clear of me after she's had a PB&J sandwich. Nothing's ever happened to me based on someone else eating something with nuts in it, but a girl in Quebec died after kissing her boyfriend, who had just eaten peanut butter. My allergy is mild, but it's still scary to read stories like that.
  • The American Heart Association just released new CPR guidelines, emphasizing chest compressions over mouth-to-mouth. Now germophobes have no excuse.
  • InPhase Technologies and Maxell have developed a new disc that holds 300GB of storage, about 60 times the capacity of a DVD. The only drawback is they've dubbed the technology Tapestry...a name sure to appeal to Zeppelin-loving stoners everywhere.
  • This is typical: A festering piece of crap like The Simple Life is able to find a home on a new network, but great shows like Arrested Development, Freaks and Geeks, and Undeclared get cancelled. WTF?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Nothing But Green Lights

Just whiling away the hours 'til turkey time...

Had a rough day yesterday. I woke up fully expecting to go to the gym, go to work, and then play hockey, but my stomach had other plans. I ended up spending much of the day in the bathroom courtesy of a nasty stomach bug. It was really at its worst until about 1 p.m. or so, but I ended up going about 20 hours without eating by the time I was able to eat a bagel at 2:30. I just watched a lot of TiVo'd shows and a couple of Netflix rentals that had been languishing on the shelf. But thankfully, it was just a temporary bug. I feel fine today and have been eating normally. Also, Deb and the girls managed to escape it, which is also good news.

Got out of work early today to help Deb make the house presentable for Matt, Tricia, Danny and Timmy, who are staying with us for T-giving. They should be arriving in about an hour or so. Looks like it will be cold and possibly wet or snowy tomorrow morning when we run our race.

Congrats to Deb, who found out yesterday she was accepted to the Boston Marathon charity team sponsored by the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange. Which means she has to raise $2,500 for MARE in addition to training for the big race next April. She ran the marathon in '98 as a bandit, long before I ever harbored the slightest desire to run more than a couple of miles at a stretch.

Zippity do dah:

  • It was sad today to hear of the death of Chris Whitley, a truly great guitarist and songwriter whose work I have followed for the past 14 years or so. He died of lung cancer at the age of 45. His 1991 debut album, Living With the Law, was a blues-rock masterpiece, and his follow-up, Din of Ecstacy, went in a totally different direction, embracing Hendrixian feedback and loudness. The one time I saw him live was when he was touring with the latter album, almost exactly 10 years ago at the Middle East in Cambridge. There were only about 25 people there (it was a Tuesday night, I think) and he had some sound problems at first, but holy crap, did he wail. He followed an adventurous musical path in the years that followed, from acoustic blues to electro-jazz. I regret never seeing him play again, but I'm glad I saw him when I did. He will be missed.
  • You've probably seen this already, but our fearless leader is at it again. Y'know, leading and stuff.
  • Here's a great story from Florida about a guy who got hit in the genitals with a taser. But he was naked, breaking windows and asking women to touch him, so I'd say it serves him right.
  • Talk about timing. The creator of Stove Top stuffing recently shuffled off this mortal coil just before her favorite holiday.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Feel Good Inc.

What is up, mein freunds? I've been remiss in my blogification lately. My bad.

Bracing for the annual gorgefest that is Thanksgiving. Actually, I was pretty good last year. As fun as it is to stuff one's face, I don't like feeling afterward like I just swallowed a Yugo. We're staying local this year; Matt, Tricia, and the boys will be visiting from NJ. Deb, Matt and I have all signed up to run a 5-mile race in Salem on Thanksgiving morning; although Matt ran the Philadelphia Marathon today (big ups to Matt for getting his second marathon in the books), so I'm not sure if he'll have recuperated in time to run Thursday.

Homina de homina:
  • Met up Friday night at the Miracle of Science in Cambridge with the crew from my Webnoize days: Dr. Doobs, Briggy, Cable Elk and OJ and his wife Amy. It was the fourth anniversary of Black Friday, the day we all got shiznittcanned. As with all our get-togethers, a good time was had by all. Well, I had a good time, anyway. Dave pointed out that the World Series champeen White Sox hosted former Styx lead singer Dennis DeYoung (yes, yes, domi arigoto, Mr. Roboto) during their playoff run. If that wasn't enough, former Journey mouth Steve Perry was also a featured fan of the Pale Hose because the team had adopted "Don't Stop Believin'" as its theme song. Desperate to get back on the winning track, Yankees bossman George Steinbrenner has signed REO Speedwagon' singer Kevin Cronin and Foreigner yowler Lou Gramm to one-year contracts for 2006.
  • Not sure if this is a hoax, but the BBC is reporting that a 3-year-old boy in India has been running marathons. In his latest feat, he supposedly ran 33 miles in 6:30. Doesn't seem possible to me, but I suppose you never know. I don't think Hannah could run a mile without stopping; not because she's not physically able, but because she would probably get bored after the first couple of minutes. I can't imagine any 3-year-old having the mental fortitude to keep himself going for that long of a period; not unless his Svengali of a coach is driving in front of him the whole way with a big-screen TV playing cartoons.
  • A so-called shout out to the UNH Wildcats football team, which beat Maine yesterday by a ridiculous score of 59-47 and won a share of the Atlantic 10 football title. Ranked #1 in the nation in 1-AA, the 10-1 Cats advance to the NCAA playoffs as the top seed and host Colgate next Saturday in Durham, NH. The game's on ESPN2 at noon. QB Ricky Santos, who's only a sophomore, racked up SEVEN touchdowns yesterday, four passing and three rushing. Awesome.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Positive Tension

Sooooo. A week after NYC and I feel pretty good. My quads were pretty sore for a few days and I felt ready when I ran 5 miles on Friday morning. Of course, about halfway through the run they started getting pretty tight again. And I realized that during the marathon I had sustained a monstrous blister on my right little toe; I originally just thought it was the nail digging into the toe, but since it wasn't bleeding, I paid it no mind. I took a few more days off and it seems close to normal now. Ran today with no problem; of course, how could you have a problem when it's pushing 65 degrees in mid-November in New England? Sweet.

There are a few photos of me running NYC up at Brightroom.com. A bunch of the finish line pics are pretty crowded, but there's one shot of me wincing right after I stopped; this is a better shot of me earlier in the race, when I still had hope for the future.

Good luck to my bro-in-law Matt, who will be running the Philly Marathon this coming Sunday; he should have cooler weather than I got in New York on the 6th.

Whoop de doo:
  • Is it possible for an entire nation to not have a sense of humor? I'm talking about you, Kazakhstan.
  • Now this is where I want to go when I'm old and in the way: to the nursing home/pub.
  • I've run five marathons and I play hockey, but this woman kicks my butt.
  • I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of the Muslim world. I respect it as an ancient and popular religion, and I condemn its extremists just as I would those of any other religion. But what's up with some Saudi Muslims calling a fatwa against soccer rules? I guess some folks in the Middle East are taking a page from the NHL and trying to make their game more fan friendly. (Thanks to Deadspin for the tip.)
  • A healthy "Channel 11" salute goes out to Sony BMG, which installed copy-protection software on about 20 new CD releases designed to prevent users from ripping MP3s that can be played on iPods. Fine, whatever, but when you accept the XCP software installation, it uses a "rootkit" program that hides on your PC and makes it vulnerable to viruses. After taking mucho heat and facing a class-action lawsuit, Sony BMG last week said it was halting production of the CDs with this software on it. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the tainted CDs include new releases from Trey Anastasio, Celine Dion, Neil Diamond, and Life of Agony, among others. As if people needed another reason not buy CDs.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Plague Upon Your Hissing

I'm back from running the NYC Marathon, and I've got the sore quads to prove it. 'Twas a warm day in the Big Apple on Sunday, as predicted, sunny, humid and 65-70 degrees. It actually started out cool and foggy, but sure enough when the race started at 10 a.m., the clouds parted and the sun began baking the 37,000 runners about to make their way through the five boroughs. It's a great experience: fans everywhere shouting encouragement, bands playing throughout the course, runners from all over the world and of all shapes and sizes endeavoring to finish one of the most prestigious marathons on the planet.

I was hoping to break 4 hours and even foolishly thought I still had a shot about two-thirds of the way through the race. But the heat is insidious to marathon runners; even though you think you're hydrated and pacing yourself well, you're slowly being drained of your energy. I felt good coming off the Queensboro Bridge at mile 17 and turning onto 1st Ave. I started stopping for Gatorade and kept moving along at a decent pace. But at about mile 20, my legs started to feel like they were made of lead. I was able to keep running, but not as quickly and it was all I could do to fight off the doubts that were creeping into my mind. But I kept plugging along and was able to even speed up a little on the downhill portions of the last two-mile stretch in Central Park. The last mile felt interminably long (it always does) and I felt incredible relief as I crossed the finish line, followed by pain and then lightheadedness. I finished in 4:10, the same (only 20 seconds slower) as in 2003 when I ran NYC (and the same time I had when I ran the Boston Marathon in '02). Took me a few minutes to get my bearings as I wobbled slowly through the chute, got my timing chip removed from my shoe, got some food, and headed toward the family reunion area where my brother-in-law Matt was waiting for me.

Huge thanks to Matt, Tricia and their boys for feeding and housing me over the weekend; Deb and the girls stayed home, since we're going down to NJ again next weekend for Timmy's 2nd birthday extravaganza. I had originally planned on driving back Sunday night after the race, but I'm glad I changed my mind, because I was exhausted and hurting. Unfortunately, Matt had parked about two miles away from Central Park, so we had a long walk to the car, but in the end, it was probably better to keep moving. It was definitely nice to enjoy a steak dinner and a couple of beers at the Siegel homestead to celebrate. It's also nice to have my fifth marathon under my belt. I'm thinking I'll take next spring off and do one in the fall; Chicago, perhaps?

La de da:

Friday, November 04, 2005

Run Like Hell

Real quick post here. I'm hitting the road tomorrow morning for New Joisey, where I'll be staying before I run the NYC Marathon Sunday morning. The forecast still calls for pain, I mean warm temperatures (high of 70). But at least it'll be cloudy. I'm rested and ready. Let's do this thing! I'll file a full report when I get back on Monday.

Hey, Coke's getting rid of Vanilla Coke, which I actually kinda liked. Apparently, black cherry is the new hot flava. I'm still enjoying Dr. Pepper, though.

Here's an interesting court twist: worker's compensation for hockey goons. Miracles never cease.

Later.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Do They Know It's Halloween?

Here we are on All Hallows Eve and I'm basking in the orange afterglow of a Leafs victory. Wins have been hard to come by lately for my fave hockey team, culminating Saturday night in quite possibly the worst game I've seen them play in a few years, an 8-0 thrashing at the hands of the hated Ottawa Senators. But they bounced back tonight with a nice 2-1 win against Florida. So that's nice.

So I solved the Halloween costume dilemma, but not without some last-second machinations. I went out Wednesday night to pick up a costume or parts of one, but could find nothing that inspired me. I had an idea of being a disgruntled elf, but I couldn't find anything remotely elf-related. I came home with my only option to find costume materials from my own wardrobe. As I drifted off to sleep, I struck upon the idea of dressing as Barry Bonds, complete with enhanced arms and pecs...I then thought I didn't have any San Francisco Giants gear, so that would be difficult to pull off. Then I figured it would be funny to dress as a nerd on steroids. Then I fell asleep. Thursday morning, I quickly grabbed my white running turtleneck and some t-shirts to stuff inside as fake muscles. I got to work and realized I didn't have enough good nerd stuff, so I went to Vinnin Square in Swampscott at lunch to buy some more material for my costume. At Marshalls, I came across a Giants t-shirt and decided to go with the Bonds costume. Couldn't find a Giants cap, so I got a Nike hat and went to Walgreens to pick up a baby medicine dropper, which resembles a syringe. And voila, a costume was born. Some people got it, some didn't, and I experienced what can only be described as "drooping pec syndrome" because the shirts kept sliding down. But I'd say it was a hit.

I like candy:
  • Hey, with Harriet "Why not me?" Miers withdrawing her name from the Supreme Court hat, Bush decided to nominate someone who's actually been a judge before. Of course, the guy's somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun, but what did you expect?
  • I've been digging The Colbert Report, a new show from the funny bastids who bring you The Daily Show. Stephen Colbert has been cultivating his character for years, but he takes it to a new Bill O'Reillyesque level on this show. Funny, funny stuff.
  • Six days to the marathon. The long-range forecast is calling for warm temperatures (68!) and clouds; a little too warm for my liking, but that can change as we all know. I'm taking it easy during the taper period. Ran 6 on Sunday and will do two more runs of 3 miles this week and that's it. It's all about healing and rest. I just hope I feel good on race day and the weather is a little cooler than predicted.
  • Speaking of Halloween, a new survey from Family Media Guide found that impalement is the most frequent gruesome act committed against victims in horror movies. The runners-up are pain caused by protruding object and bite injury. The winner for the most violent movie is 2003's Freddy vs. Jason, with 167 instances of violence (impalements, severed limbs, electrocutions), followed by the truly great Jaws, with 105 (mostly of the chompity-chomp-chomp variety).

    All right, time to go scrape the sugar off my teeth. Later.

Monday, October 24, 2005

My Thoughts are a Gas

Greetings from the Garden City (aka Beverly, MA). I need to come up with a Halloween costume. No, I'm not going trick-or-treating, although I will be taking Hannah out for a little while next Monday. On Thursday, my office hosts its annual Halloween parade for the kids of employees; we all get dressed up (well, some of us do) and decorate our offices and hallways and such, and then the kids show up at about 3 or so to trick or treat through the halls. Of course, some of the single folks use it as an excuse to leave early. But I always found it to be a fun event, long before I ever had kids of my own. Deb's going to bring Hannah and Lily right from daycare; they'll transform themselves into Belle (from "Beauty and the Beast") and Snow White, respectively. But I need to figure out what I'm going to dress as. Last year, I rocked it as Elvis Supafly; my profile photo to the right is from '03, when I was Mike Tyson and Hannah was a giraffe. So, got any costume ideas for this year?

Whoot whoot:
  • Just watched the Leafs-Bruins game. As with pretty much every game I've seen this year, it was an exciting tilt, with Toronto edging the B's 5-4 in a shootout. Lots of end-to-end action, great goaltending, sloppy play, stupid penalties, nice goals. Definitely edge-of-your-seat stuff. The Leafs gave up a bad goal to go down 4-3, tied up the game while shorthanded and then had to kill off two straight penalties, including the first four minutes of overtime. Eric Lindros scored the only goal in the shootout to win the game. The two teams play again in Boston on Thursday.
  • Met up with some of my peeps from the Webnoize days at Redbones Saturday night. I enjoyed some Texas beef ribs and entertaining conversation with Briggy, OJ and Amy, Cable Elk, Big Audio Douglass and his girlfriend Carrie, and some Russian friends of B.A.D.'s. Always a fun time. We'll be meeting again at the Miracle of Science in three weeks to commemorate the fourth anniversary of Black Friday, aka the day we all got laid off.
  • So if you weren't old enough to see Led Zep, Pink Floyd, or AC/DC in concert in their 1970s heyday, Kmart will hook your ass up.
  • I was excited to read the other day that one of my fave Canuckian bands, The Pursuit of Happiness, is back together, recording a couple of new songs, and going on tour. I suspect they won't venture down this way, but it sure would be cool if they did since I've only seen them once, back in the '89.
  • Here's the lowdown on a couple of podcasts I've been digging lately: Cinecast is a movie podcast hosted twice weekly by two Chicago dudes named Adam Kempenaar and Sam Hallgren. Intelligent, entertaining, thought-provoking stuff. Phedippidations (yeah, it's a mouthful) is a podcast about long-distance done by a guy WHILE he's actually running. Host Steve Walker (or "Steve Runner," his nom de pod) takes a portable MP3 recorder with him on his Sunday long runs and manages to provide insightful commentary about running, motivation, strategy, observations. It's really great. I actually had a similar idea a few months back, but I concluded that my podcast would basically just be 45 minutes of me breathing heavy and hocking loogies and saying stuff like, "Damn, I'm tired." Trust me, Steve's podcast is the real deal. And A Foot in the Crease is all about the Toronto Maple Leafs, produced weekly by Toronto hockey nuts Dave McCarthy and Jeff Hume.
  • Less than two weeks to the New York Marathon. I'm getting excited. It's amazing how your attitude about running improves when you cut back on the mileage. I went out for 10 yesterday and felt great.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sideways in Reverse

What up? Just sneaking in a quick post as I wind things down toward the NYC Marathon, which is less than three weeks away. I'm in taper mode now, which means my longest runs are behind me (thank glayvin) and I'm just letting my body rest and heal before the big race. Last Sunday, I ran 13.6 miles and next Sunday, it'll be down to 10, then 6 the weekend before the race. The worst injury I have right now has nothing to do with running. I woke up Monday morning and must have slept wrong, because my neck and traps were tight and sore. Two days later and it's still bothering me, but it'll go away.

Homina homina:
  • Another testament to the greatness of the Wikipedia--which, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is essentially an online encyclopedia that anyone can contribute to--is this fine page on the contributions of the Simpsons to our vocabulary. Not just the ubiquitous "d'oh," but also a staggering number of commonly used words and phrases such as "craptastic," the aforementioned "glayvin" and one of my favorites, "And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords."
  • Wilmaaaaaaaa! What's with these stupid hurricanes, anyway?
  • This is old news, but Apple finally announced the release of the video-enabled iPod last week and started selling TV shows and music videos on iTunes. Not really a must-have for me, but definitely a cool-looking device. I like how Apple convinced Disney/ABC to start selling hot shows like "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" as downloads. Definitely a smart move.
  • The NHL season has been fun to watch so far and surprisingly enough, so have the Leafs. Even though captain Mats Sundin has been out with a serious eye injury since game 1, Eric Lindros, Jason Allison and the rest of the team has really stepped it up. The secret of their success has been the power play, which popped in seven goals last Friday night alone. I'm sure the team will have its ups and downs, but I'm enjoying the early season ride so far.
  • Hey, another bunch of holy rolling nitwits have put together a list of the best and worst family shows on television. What, "Family Guy" has raunchy humor? I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you.
  • There has been much discussion on the local sports talk radio station about the NBA's edict that players dress nicer when not in uniform. Some have construed the new rules as targeting black players who wear throwback jerseys and chains and such, others contend the league is simply trying to improve its image. I'm just glad they let me dress like a slob at my job; don't know what I'd do if I had to start wearing ties again. Yeesh.

Friday, October 14, 2005

From the Floor Boards Up

Werd up. Just getting a quick post up early Friday morning as the girls enjoy the reopening of our guest room. Since my last post, the sheetrocking was finished and then the dudes came in and plastered both that room and the bathroom walls and ceiling on Columbus Day. Deb's brother Matt and his family will be coming for a visit this weekend, so we've got the room presentable. Deb painted the ceiling this week, but we'll wait until later to paint the walls.

I'm enjoying the best part of marathon training, which is known as the taper. I ran 22 miles last Sunday relatively pain free (just a little hamstring tightness) and now I'm cutting back on the mileage in the last three weeks to the race. Hoping to heal up a bit before the big day, but I don't feel too bad right now.

And boom goes the dynamite:
  • So I had my 20th high school reunion last Saturday night up in Portsmouth. It rained like a mofo all the way up there. The turnout wasn't as good as the organizers had hoped; only 57 out of 100+ showed up. But it was a good time. I thought people looked surprisingly good; maybe the folks who didn't decided not to go. Deb spent the whole time hanging out with the husband of a classmate of mine, commisserating on their outsider status. The following day we went to the wedding of a friend and former coworker, which was held at a beautiful mansion in Manchester. A busy weekend.
  • You know the world's a mess when the terrorists start going after the poor Smurfs.
  • For Motley Crue, it's been the best of times, it's been the worst of times. They've had success on their reunion tour, but the band members have had a tough time of it. First Vince Neil tears a calf muscle on stage, now Tommy Lee almost gets blown up by the pyro.
  • How would you like to go to a wedding and then find the band replaced by the original members of R.E.M.? Granted, it was one of their guitar techs who got married, so you knew the guys would be there, but still...
  • Well, the NHL season is just over a week old and the changes have definitely generated a lot more offense. It's not like every game is a 7-6 barnburner, but the increased emphasis on calling penalties for obstruction have led to a lot of power play situations and better flow. Ironically, the higher number of penalties mean more stoppages in play, but generally, the games move along much quicker so far. We'll have to see if the officials keep calling penalties the same way all season, but I like what I see. I'm still not totally sold on the shootout, but the product is definitely better.
  • The Red Sox and the Yankees are both gone from the MLB playoffs, which no doubt bums out just about everyone except the folks in Chicago, Anaheim, St. Louis and Houston (and anyone who's sick of the Sox and Yanks). The second round so far has been marked by a truly horrendous display of umpiring, as the White Sox were basically given a gift win in game 2 that evened the series instead of seeing them going down 2-0 to the Angels.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need

Hoo-ah! The 2005-2006 NHL season kicked off last night with all 30 teams in action, and I for one was loving life. Wielding the remote like a finely tuned instrument, I deftly zipped from the Sox-Sox playoff game to OLN's opening night coverage to the Bruins-Montreal game to the Leafs-Senators game, which was my primary focus.

The boys in blue played much better than expected, dominating much of the game but only leading 1-0 late in the third when Ottawa tied it up. The Leafs answered back with a big goal from Eric Lindros, who had an impressive night, but the Sens tied it up right away and eventually the game went to overtime, and then the first shootout in league history. Although it's exciting, my problem with the shootout is it takes a team game and transforms it into a head to head competition. The Sens scored twice in the shootout while the Leafs failed to put one past Dominik Hasek, leaving Ottawa a 3-2 winner. The loss was made even worse by the fact that Toronto lost captain Mats Sundin early after he was struck in the eye; he'll be out four to six weeks with a broken orbital bone. The Leafs usually get hit with the injury bug late in the season; this year, their best player is struck down seven minutes into the season. I was encouraged by the play of new additions Lindros, Jason Allison (who was impressive, but damn, is he slow), Jeff O'Neill and Alexander Khavanov. Eddie Belfour was excellent in net, although it looks like he could use some practice on the shootout, and the defense, which included rookies Carlo Colaiacovo and Andy Wozniewski, was solid. Still, it's going to be a tough stretch without Sundin.

As for the play overall, the rules changes definitely generated more offense and more flow. There were fewer whistles and stoppages of play, but a lot of penalties as the officials called anything that looked like obstruction. Special teams is a crucial factor, as teams are getting more power plays now than ever before; at least for now. We'll see if they're still making the same calls in January.

A little sumpin'-sumpin':
  • Scary-sounding alert today out of NYC about potential subway attacks. Let's hope it's just bogus chatter.
  • Here's an amazing story about a battle for Everglades bad-ass supremacy between alligators and Burmese pythons. No kidding. Wildlife officials found the carcass of a 13-foot python that had swallowed a 6-foot gator, which in turn managed to partially claw its way through the snake's midsection before dying. Check out the incredible photos.
  • Say what you will about Dick Cheney, but there's no denying the man just exudes warmth. Warmth caused by the molten lava that courses through his veins, of course.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Electric Co.

Welcome to October, or as the folks in nearby Salem call it, "Cha-Ching!"

Deb and I attended the U2 concert last night at the TD Banknorth Garden, formerly known as the Fleet Center, formerly known as the Boston Garden. It was a great show. Say what you will about latter-day U2, they still know how to put on a helluva concert. We had nosebleed seats in the balcony, but the band really gets the concept of playing to an arena. I don't go to many shows this large anymore, but the tickets were for Deb's birthday (well, we bought them in March and her birthday's in May) and she was psyched to go. I'd only seen them once before, waaaaay back in '87 on the Joshua Tree tour, at the old Boston Garden. That show was incredible, and this one was pretty damn impressive. Bono was in good voice and the Edge is definitely in a rockin' guitar phase. We went with our friends Tammy and Steve and had a good time all around.

This, that, and the other thing:
  • Spent all day Saturday helping our friend Brian put sheetrock up in our guest room. We're redoing the room after five years; it was the only room we hadn't worked on since we moved in. It had 1970s wallpaper on paneling and one day over the summer, Deb got bored and ripped it all down. The room was off-limits until Saturday, when Brian and I covered the walls with sheetrock. Next up is getting his brother in to plaster the walls, and then Deb and I will paint it. We also need to put sheetrock in the bathroom, where we're redoing the ceiling. Just call me Bob Vila.
  • It was a busy weekend. Sunday night was my fantasy hockey draft. I got the second pick overall and drafted Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff (the first pick was Martin Brodeur and I knew that if I didn't take a goalie with the second pick, there wouldn't be any good ones left by the time I picked again at 15; each round reverses the draft order). I ended up with a good team, including Brad Richards, Chris Pronger, Sidney Crosby, Pavol Demitra, Ryan Smyth, Rick DiPietro, and more. Of course, they always look good before the season starts. Speaking of which, opening night is tomorrow in the NHL. Awwwwwww, yeah.
  • Supernormal actor Nic Cage and his wife decided to name their new baby Kal-el, which comic book nerdz such as myself know is Superman's real name. Apparently, Mr. Mxyzptlk was taken.
  • According to this study, we might as well stop working out because we're all going to end up fat eventually.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Loving Sounds of Static

Yello. It's officially fall now, which I've always considered my favorite season. The weather has been downright amazing the last month or so, great for training. Good news on that front. My foot didn't bother me at all when I ran early last week, but then I started having tightness in my left IT band, a common runner's ailment that has plagued me in the past. I was worried I wouldn't be able to finish my 20-mile run on Sunday, but I had no problems with it. It's still very sore, but it didn't bother me while I was running. I left around 6 a.m. and it was in the mid-40s out, which made things pretty chilly until the sun came out. Two more long runs of 20 miles or more and then I start winding things down until the race.

This, that, and other thing:
  • Man, all my old childhood TV icons are dying. First Gilligan, now Maxwell Smart. I used to love everything about "Get Smart" from the awesome theme to the spy spoof to the lovely Agent 99. Sure, the jokes were kinda corny, but you've gotta love how the show pioneered shoe phone technology.
  • Strange casting news of the week (yeah, I know this actually broke a few weeks ago): Elijah Wood is going to play Iggy Pop in a new movie. Right. Separated at birth.
  • I totally dig the Wayback Machine, the Internet Archive's digital library of web sites that aims to archive the entire Internet. You can find defunct old sites like Webnoize. It's pretty cool. And like all things that are pretty cool, somebody's suing it. I hope this doesn't force the site to go dark, because it's a valuable resource and record.
  • The craptastic world of reality TV gets even crappier with the announcement of the newest "Surreal Life" cast of has-beens: Sherman Hemsley (aka George Jefferson), Poison axe-mangler C.C. DeVille, the tool singer from Smash Mouth, and Whitesnake video car humper turned husband abuser Tawny Kitaen, among others.
  • Just over a week until the NHL season kicks off. Hockey nerdz everywhere are getting fired up. My fantasy league draft is set for next Sunday, so I've got to start figuring out all these crazy free agent moves. I ordered the Center Ice package so I can get my fill of the Toronto Maple Leafs, which as always will be sure to disappoint me.
  • For the sports fans out there, check out a couple of cool new blogs (new to me, anyway): Just Another Blog on Sports is a clever offering from Toronto Star sportswriter Chris Young, while Deadspin is a funny, gossipy look at the sports world from the folks who bring you Gawker and Defamer. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

38 Years Old

Greetings and nerdutations. So here I am celebrating yet another birthday. As the song title indicates, I'm 38 now. No parade or fanfare, but my co-workers did make and/or purchase breakfast food in my honor. Deb and the girls got me an Oreo cake and presents. It was all good. 'Nuff said about that.

Hither and thither:


  • Damn, Rita ain't no lovely meter maid. Rather, she's a Category 5 hurricane bearing down on the Texas coast. It's times like these that I'm glad I come from the land of the ice and snow.
  • A Chinese company hopes to hit it big with new condoms named after Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Nothing like striking while the iron's hot. What's next, Donna Rice string bikinis?
  • Baseball's pennant races are heating up: as of this writing, the Yankees were half a game behind the Red Sox, the Cleveland Indians were making the Chicago White Sox nervous, and several other races were still going on. The Jays are playing out the string, hoping to finish above .500. Closer Miguel Batista has been blowing saves left and right; he must have pictures of somebody. The team's biggest problem this year, aside from losing ace Roy Halladay, is its failure to replace monster slugger Carlos Delgado after he signed with the Marlins. Talk about a popgun offense. That said, they never quit and are a fun team to watch at times. Hopefully, these issues will be addressed in the offseason.
  • Meanwhile, the NHL's exhibition season has begun. St. Louis star Keith Tkachuk was suspended for showing up overweight; his playing weight in 2003-04 was 230 and reportedly he came into camp at around 260. Perhaps he had too many donuts during the lockout year. Certainly, the game of hockey and the donut have a rich history. Why, there's Tim Horton's, the Canadian equivalent of Dunkin' Donuts which was started by the Hall of Fame defenseman of the same name. And then there's the classic Jim Schoenfeld line back in the 1988 playoffs, when the Devils coach yelled at referee Don Koharski to "have another donut!"
  • Played hockey last night for the first time since May and felt surprisingly good for the first time out. We're not playing Waltham anymore; we decided to stay at Valley Sports in Concord, MA, where a bunch of the guys played from April to August. I played until late May and then basically hung up the skates for the summer. The rink manager always gives us an extra half-hour or more, so we end up playing about 100 minutes. My timing was off for most of the night, but I popped in a few goals near the end of the night when everyone was getting tired. Sore today, but not as sore as I thought I'd be.
  • My foot's still bothering me, but I'm continuing to run. I think it's one of those things that I'll just have to deal with until after the race, much like my Achilles' problem last year. Unless it gets really unbearable. I've come this far, so I'm going to try to keep going. But I think this may be my last marathon. Too many injuries and too much time spent doing long runs. I'd rather do shorter races and run the occasional half-marathon, and not feel like I'm beating the hell out of myself. Besides, I will have done five marathons, which is a lot more than I ever thought I'd do.

Okay, time to go catch up on some TiVo.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Early Today (and later that night)

Wow, time flies when you're not blogging. Seriously, that week went by quicklike. We're rockin' a little Indian summer action here in New England: temps have been in the 80s all week. Tuesday night hockey started last night, but I missed it because I had too much work to do; I should have gone, because I didn't get a whole lot done anyway, between running to check the Blue Jays-Red Sox game on TV, helping Deb clear some stuff out of the guest room, and dealing with a certain toddler who woke up at 10:30.

The marathon training is proceeding. Got up to 18 miles on my long run on Sunday, but I aggravated my first real injury since training began: the arch in my right foot is really sore. I've never had this problem before, at least not to this extent. I think it might be caused by my new shoes, specifically by wearing my orthotics in them; my guess is I went from shoes where the arch support was worn down to new ones with stronger arch support, so maybe that was enough to cause a strain. I'm going to try and run in the shoes without the orthotics and see how that feels. I haven't run since Sunday, so hopefully I'll be able to run the next few days and then do 20 on Sunday. At the same time, I don't want to make this any worse.

Other stuff:
  • The Katrina fallout continues. First FEMA Director Mike Brown had the decency to resign on Monday, then Bush admitted the government screwed up in its slow response, and now it comes out that Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff was the one who really delayed the federal response.
  • As training camps begin this week in the NHL, several longtime mainstays are calling it quits. Last week it was defensemen Scott Stevens, Al MacInnis, and James Patrick, and forward Vinny Damphousse. This week, it was the legendary Mark Messier and Ron Francis. All but Damphousse and Patrick are first ballot Hall of Famers. The lockout unfortunately cost all these players (except possibly Stevens and MacInnis, who both had serious injury problems) a final season to soak in the accolades and farewells. There are still many other older players such as Steve Thomas and Mike Keane who still hope to latch on with teams but may find themselves victims of the salary cap.
  • Think John Roberts is getting a little transfixed at his confirmation hearing? Great googily moogily.

Okay, more later. Have fun storming the castle.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Everybody's Gotta Live

Hoy. One good thing that's come out of the whole Hurricane Katrina mess is that the generosity of spirit of the American people remains alive and well. It's been heartening to see all the fundraisers, large- and small-scale, all the donations, and the general rallying for our fellow Americans in need. Even though the government (federal, state, and local) screwed up royally in its preparation and response to this disaster, it's good to know that people still care.

I'd like to say you can expect to see FEMA Director Mike Brown fall on his sword over his unparalleled ineptitude during this crisis, but judging from the recent past, he'll probably get a medal or a promotion. Check out his spin control memo; this is from a guy who got the job because he was a college roommate of the previous FEMA director. His previous job was as head of an Arabian showhorse association, which let him go because he couldn't handle that job, either. Of course, the prez only cut his vacation short after the storm hit and it was obvious that he had a mess of unbelievable proportions on his hands. Maybe he gets his people skills from his mom. Sheesh.

In other, less weighty, news:
  • Apple continues its domination of the portable entertainment space with the release of the first iTunes-enabled phone and the newest wonder device, the iPod Nano. Thinner than a no. 2 pencil, this latest iPod is flash memory-based, instead of hard drive-based, so it won't skip and battery life is longer. It comes in 2 gigabyte and 4 gigabyte models, starting at $199. This thing looks pretty damn cool, although it's so small I'd almost be afraid to snap it in two by accident.
  • Even though the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler, I love this time of year. The baseball pennant races are underway, the NFL season starts tomorrow, the NHL finally starts up in a month, and the new fall TV shows are premiering. And I love running in the mornings; the past few days it has been in the 50s, which is perfect running weather for me (things warmed up into the 70s later in the day, which also rules).
  • Burger King has ticked off the already pissed-off-sounding doods in Slipknot, who are threatening a lawsuit over the fast-food chain's Coq Roq ads, which feature a fake heavy metal band wearing chicken masks. Y'see, the Slipknot kids wear crazy Halloween masks, so they feel BK is treading on their schtick. I just can't believe BK was able to say Coq Roq on the air; the home of the Whopper also caught some heat for its Coq Roq web site, which featured photos of supposed groupies with the tagline "Groupies love the Coq." The photos have since been removed, but I think this is a pretty funny ad campaign for the most part. Wonder who's actually playing the music?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Mod Girls, Old Fashioned Men

So a few moments ago, I sat down at the computer to check out a few news and sports sites. It's a beautiful Saturday morning, just before 7 a.m. and the street is quiet. A car drives up and parks across the street in front of the house of our 20something neighbor; the driver appears to be a 20something woman herself, so I assume she's a friend. She opens her door and I figure she's going to go in the house. Then I hear the unmistakable sound of a body expelling toxins: I look outside and sure enough, the woman's puking in the street. Fortunately, I hadn't eaten anything yet (hope you haven't, either). This went on for a few minutes as she apparently completely emptied the contents of her stomach. Finally, she closes her door, has a swig of water, and drives off. Nice. Hey, I'm not judging anyone. I've certainly got my share of puke stories, although none of them involve driving onto a random street to puke. Must have been quite the night for Ms. Technicolor Yawn. Hope it was worth it.

In other, non-stomach acid-related news:

  • Help finally arrived in New Orleans yesterday, with convoys of National Guard troops bringing food and water. Oh, and the president toured some of the disaster sites as well. Nice of him to stop by.
  • Meanwhile, the rest of the world is offering aid and a few choice potshots at the same time. I'm sure after hearing about the "American way of life" over and over, they relish the chance to poke a few jabs at Uncle Sam.
  • Killer whales at Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, have learned how to use fish to catch seagulls. Scientists say the whales have also been working on telemarketing scams.
  • Sad to hear that blues great R.L. Burnside passed away this week at the age of 78. He didn't become well known until his 60s; I first became familiar with him nearly 10 years ago when he made an album with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, A Ass Pocket of Whiskey. He had a very raw, real storytelling style. Good stuff.
  • An inventor in South Africa unveiled an "anti-rape condom" that attaches itself to the rapist's penis with small barbs. Great idea, but why would the rapist buy these particular condoms in the first place?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

St. James Infirmary Blues

Wow. Even though Hurricane Katrina was downgraded to a Category 4 storm just before it hit and even though it wasn't as direct a hit as originally expected, the destruction is still beyond comprehension. New Orleans is still underwater and the city's mayor says hundreds and possibly thousands could be dead as rescue efforts continue. Hundreds are believed dead in Mississippi as well. Meanwhile, they're relocating thousands of people who were evacuated from the Superdome to the Astrodome in Houston. There's looting in the streets and thousands of people still waiting to be rescued, without food, clean water or anything else. Insurers have estimated the damage at $25 billion so far. The city could be shut down for months. Unbelievable.

NBC and MTV have planned benefit concerts to raise money for the victims of the hurricane; NBC's event will air Friday and feature Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr., while MTV's September 10 concert will star Green Day and Alicia Keys, among others. You can donate now to the Red Cross relief fund through Amazon.com.

This is normally a busy time for New Orleans. In addition to the whole tourism business that it relies on, it's also a popular convention destination. I've been there twice for conferences and was originally supposed to go in three weeks for another, but those plans changed.

Some have compared the hurricane to the Asian tsunami that struck last December, although that disaster caught the region by total surprise and the death toll was in the hundreds of thousands. Here's an interesting story about how the tsunami's waves eventually travelled around the world.

Gas prices were already ridiculous, but now with a bunch of the U.S. oil refineries out of commission because of the hurricane, prices are going through the roof. Last weekend, a gas station near us that traditionally has the lowest prices around was at $2.56 per gallon for regular; today, it was up over $3. Some experts say prices could hit $4 a gallon soon. It wasn't too long ago that you could find gas for 99 cents per gallon. I'm glad I don't have a long commute.

Hey, at least we know Dubya's on the scene and taking care of things. Well, he flew over the scene, anyway. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took an opportunity to bash Bush for failing to adequately prepare people in the New Orleans area for the hurricane. Aw, he's still mad about the Pat Robertson assassin comment.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

My Mathematical Mind

Hey there, ho there. Another quick one as yet another summer weekend disappears into the ether.

  • So I've got a new beverage I'm hooked on. No, it's not the delicious Sam Adams Octoberfest, which we found available this week (more depressing signs that summer is nearly over). Nope, it's Dr. Pepper. I can't get enough of this stuff. Never really dug it before, but for some reason, I had a few in recent weeks and I totally love it. Deb picked me up a 12-pack and it may be gone in a few days. I'm not even much of a soda guy anymore, either. My beverage of choice every morning is still Nantucket Nectars' Half and Half (half iced tea, half lemonade). But something about Dr. Pepper is working for me right now. My brother-in-law Matt swears by Diet Dr. Pepper, but I don't like diet drinks in general.
  • My training for the NYC Marathon is going well (knock on digital wood). I'm up to 14 miles on my long runs and just picked up a new pair of Brooks' Adrenalines (this must be my "Suck up to products I like in the hopes that they'll somehow read this and send me free stuff" post) from the good folks at New England Running Company in Beverly. I'm up into the two hour-plus range for long runs, which means I'm entering the really grueling part of training. The race is November 6, which isn't that far away when you think about it.
  • The Big Easy is about to get slammed by Hurricane Katrina, which is currently a category 5 storm (in other words, a bad mammajamma) packing 175 mph winds. Of course, what doesn't help New Orleans is the fact that it's below sea level, so much of its citizenry has evacuated. Wonder how long it'll take people to start partying again after the storm passes through; I'm serious, those people know how to party. What surprises me about this whole news story is that I haven't seen any "Katrina and the Waves" headlines; doesn't anybody know their rock history anymore? Surely you remember "Walking on Sunshine"--it was only one of the most overplayed songs of the mid-80s that ended up in endless commercials and on movie soundtracks and trailers.

All right, go on with your bad selves.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

First to Finish, Last to Start

What up? Sorry it's been so long since my last blogsplosion. Things have been so busy at work the last few weeks, I've been bringing work home with me every damn night. I think I need another vacation already.

Anyway, we made our last trip to Joisey for a while to visit Matt, Tricia and the boys and go to the Mets-Nationals game Sunday. We only lasted until the fourth inning before we had to hit the road to head home, but in fairness, the first half-inning alone took about 45 minutes as the Nats teed off on Mets starter Kris Benson, scoring six runs. Plus it was 90 and we were broiling in the bleachers. But the girls enjoyed eating ice cream in the stands, so it wasn't a total loss.

Items that are both wiggity and wack:
  • This exciting new beverage comes from the creative genius that is Steven Seagal. Fringe jacket and beer gut not included. Sorry, dude, when I think of Lightning Bolt, I think of these guys. And this album.
  • Some crazy crap going on between the metal gods of Iron Maiden and Ozzy Osbourne's wife/manager Sharon Osbourne. Maiden was one of the headliners, along with Black Sabbath, on the Ozzfest tour this summer. Turns out Sharon had a beef with Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson over comments Dickinson allegedly made about Ozzy and during Maiden's last show of the tour in San Bernadino Saturday night, a mob of planted Ozzy supporters egged Maiden during their set; the band also had its PA "mysteriously" cut out several times while it was playing. Needless to say, Maiden fans are pissed at Sharon, who came out after the band left the stage and badmouthed them, which led to her getting showered in beer and other objects by the angry fans. You know it's taking on a life of its own when it's the lead gossip item on MSNBC.com. At any rate, it's not a shocker, considering Sharon's past verbal wars with other artists including Billy Corgan, when she quit as the Smashing Pumpkins' manager after three months. I'm sure Ozzy has no idea of what was going on, the poor guy.
  • Congrats to this guy, who just signed a contract with the LA Kings. Good luck to the team's broadcasters if he ever makes the big show, though. It could also lead to some interesting chants from the fans. The FCC will have the Kings on speed dial just in case.
  • Ah, Pat Robertson. After all these years, he continues to entertain.
  • It was nice to hear over the weekend that the NHL signed a deal with Comcast's Outdoor Life Network to broadcast games for the next two seasons. ESPN had the right to match it, but chose not to, and I'm glad. Although I don't have Comcast cable anymore, so I might miss out on some of the ancillary parts of the deal like video on demand, I can still get OLN on DirecTV.
  • Here's a messed-up story that definitely raises more questions than it answers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sidemouse Advice

Word up. Just a quick post tonight as we enjoy a respite from the humidity. Went for a nice cool run this morning; it was 60 degrees, a far cry from a few days ago when I played softball for four hours in the 95-degree afternoon sun.

Anyhoo, here's what's what:

  • I wanted to throw some mad props the way of my buddy OJ, who's now writing a daily music blog for Junkmedia. Check it out if you dig the indie rock; even if you don't, check it out because OJ is one funny dood. Rock on, rocker.
  • I know I'll sound like an old man saying this, but I just don't understand the kids these days. What with the purple hair and the rocket skateboards and the Funky Winkerbean and the pass-out games. Seriously, WTF?
  • Something else I'll never understand is these losers who buy mail-order brides. I guess I understand why they do it--because they're lonely and it seems like an easy way to get a wife--but what I don't get is how any of these clowns believe it will actually work out. I'm sure some of these "marriages" actually last, but you've gotta think a lot of these women from Eastern Europe or Asia just want to get to America to escape whatever they've got going on back home. Once they get here and see who their husband is, they're ready for a divorce. Here's just one such marriage that didn't end so well. Waaaay back when I interned for the Peabody Times, I interviewed a guy who had just married a mail-order bride from Asia; it was a real shock that this weasel couldn't score himself an American significant other. It was all I could do to keep from laughing in the guy's face. Sure enough, a year later we followed up the story and the woman had already dumped the poor schmuck.
  • Well, alert the media. Sean Combs has changed his name again. Now he's just to be known as Diddy. Call me old school, but I prefer the Johnny Cougar/John Cougar/John Cougar Mellencamp/John Mellencamp progression myself. I'm just sayin', is all.
  • Here's another reason I'm rooting for Comcast's (geez, never thought I'd ever say that) fledgling sports network to succeed: ESPN Hollywood. Are hard-core sports fans really going to watch an Entertainment Tonight-esque show about athletes? Not this fan.
  • Okay, it's been way too long since I posted an MP3, so I thought I'd share a couple of tracks from a cool EP I picked up about 10 years ago featuring two of my favorite artists, Frank Black and Teenage Fanclub. Black, of course, is getting plenty of attention these days for reuniting the legendary Pixies, but he's also compiled an admirable body of solo work over the years. Teenage Fanclub is a great Scottish power pop act that's woefully overlooked here in the States, but they've been cranking out great music for 15 years. Black and Teenage Fanclub teamed up for an impromptu John Peel session back in the spring of '94, where they performed the Otis Blackwell chestnut Handyman (popularized by James Taylor in the '70s) and The Man Who Was Too Loud, a version of which showed up a few years later on the Frank Black & the Catholics album. Both artists have new albums out this year, which you should check out: Black's Honeycomb and Teenage Fanclub's Man-Made.
  • As much as I love my iPod, I find this pretty funny.