Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Red Lenses

Right about now, I'd be hitting the ice in Concord (Mass.) for a good 90-minute skate, but I'm on the shelf tonight with a case of conjunctivitis in both eyes. I could have gone and played with my glasses on instead of my contacts, since I wear a full cage, but I figured it was probably smarter to just relax and get better. I went to the doctor today and gots me some drops, so it should all clear up in the next few days. Too bad, though, because the Wednesday night skates have been a blast so far.

Still managed to get a 5-mile run in this morning on the treadmill, just because I didn't want to get caught out in the rain. Normally, I'd be outside but I didn't want my glasses to get all wet.

And here's the rest of wha' hoppen:
  • Got together last Saturday with the Webnoize crew--Ric, Dave, Lee, OJ and Amy--plus a couple of my Daily Grind email buddies, Bob and Justin, at River Gods in Cambridge. Cool little bar. Bob brought me copies of two short films he made in which I "acted": the DVD of "Ninja Zombie Explosion" and a VHS copy of "Men's Group Massacre." Bob's been making these little spoof horror movies for years; improvised, inexpensive, and usually pretty damn funny. We shot MGM last October in the woods behind his house in Worcester, but I was one of the first to leave and I never saw the finished product until now. Turned out really great. After we ate and drank for a while, Dave, OJ and I went to the Middle East to catch the Mudhoney show. The Konks, featuring Kurt Davis of Bullet Lavolta fame, opened up but didn't impress me. Mudhoney, however, sounded great. A little more detached than usual, but still rockin'. They played 80 minutes of mostly hits, since they don't have a new album out. I was so tired by the time the show ended at 12:40, I was just glad I managed to stay awake on the drive home.
  • The new White Stripes single, "Blue Orchid," kicks major butt. You can find it here for the time being. Looking forward to their new album.
  • We watched Manhunter over the weekend, which is the original movie version of Thomas Harris' Red Dragon, which was remade in 2002 with Edward Norton and Anthony Hopkins. The original featured CSI's William Petersen and Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecktor (as it is spelled in that movie). Directed by Michael Mann in 1986, Manhunter is definitely dated somewhat with the "Miami Vice" pastels (that show as also created by Mann) and cheesy Italian suits and skinny ties. But it's much more effective in getting inside the mind of the FBI agent and the serial killer he's chasing. Of course, Silence of the Lambs came along five years later and was amazing.
  • We also rented The Passion of the Christ, which was about as violent a movie as I've ever seen. I'm not squeamish about violence, either; I like violent movies when they're done right. But this really was gratuitous to the point of overkill. The entire movie is essentially Jesus getting flayed to a bloody pulp by various soldiers and others. Definitely not for those with delicate constitutions.
  • Hannah's 3rd birthday is Friday; the celebration has lasted a few weeks and I think when all is said and done, she'll have had four cakes. Of course, she only eats the frosting, but still, that's a lot of cake. My mom is going to be here for the weekend, so that will be good.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Working for the Weekend

Another week has flown by and here we are on Friday night. Of course, it helps when you have a short week, but usually that just means more work crammed into fewer days. On Wednesday, the temps hit the mid-80s to give us a tease of summer before we dropped back down into the 50s yesterday.

Actually ran 15 miles this week and felt good on every one of them. I don't want to get my hopes up, but it's nice to be back on the road on a regular basis.

Oh, and another thing:

  • So it turns out the "finger in the Wendy's chili" incident was a hoax. The cops arrested the woman who claimed she found the digit. Turns out she has a history of suing restaurants. Wendy's should sue her sorry ass, not just for lost sales but for making the whole chain a laughing stock.
  • I didn't have a problem with Detroit Free-Press sports columnist Mitch Albom until he started writing sappy shizz like "Tuesdays with Morrie" and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven." Well, turns out he's in some hot water for apparently writing a column about a Michigan State hoops game 24 hours before it happened; he wrote that two former MSU players now in the NBA (Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson) had flown in for the game. Only problem was, despite telling Albom they planned to go, both players never went to the game. Now the Free-Press has suspended Albom while it investigates the rest of his columns to make sure no other fabrications have occurred. Chalk it up to life in the post-Jayson Blair era. Granted, it's not as bad as what this jackass did, but still, you can't be making stuff up.
  • Back when I was at UNH, one of my roommates had a buddy at Dartmouth who knew a fellow student named Jay Kumar who was also an English major. I believe this is the other Jay Kumar. Actually, if you do a Google search, there's a ton of guys with my name out there. But this guy has also gone into specialty journalism: he's an expert on bass fishing. Hey, somebody's gotta be. Seriously, I first heard of him when a guy I worked with brought in a bass fishing magazine and asked me if I was doing some writing on the side. Nope. Now he's also written a book about Bigfoot. Pretty cool. Don't worry: my book will be out sometime in 2012.
  • One of my fave power-pop acts, Sloan, is coming out with a greatest-hits collection. All of which is a bit puzzling to fans like myself and Dr. Doobs; why would a band that doesn't really have any hits (in the U.S., anyway) put out a hits compilation that will have a limited appeal at best? We'd both rather see a B-sides album, because the band could definitely sell a bunch of those to its fan base. My guess is it's a record company idea; at least it's coming with a bonus DVD. And even better, the band is supposedly touring behind it, which is always a good thing. The site I linked to above has a video for one of the new cuts on the hits album.
  • My main man Briggy has revampified his Internet home page, turning it into what he calls a "non-blog." Visit early and often for Angry Dave's insights and observations. But remember: it's not a blog.

All right, go on with your bad self.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

Ah, it's Marathon Monday, also known as Patriots Day in these parts. The last few weeks I had a lot of people asking me if I was running the Boston Marathon this year, which of course led me into the whole explanation of my foot injuries and PT and all that. For the most part, I'm glad I'm not running it, but I did get a little wistful for the heady days of '02 and '03 when I was watching all the marathon coverage this morning. Even if I was in condition to run, I had planned to run in Vermont next month instead of Boston. Now I'm hoping to get picked in the lottery for the NYC Marathon in November. And I'm feeling pretty good. I ran 5 miles last Friday for the first time since October, and ran another five this morning at an even faster clip with no pain.

It was another warm marathon, although not as bad as last year's 85-degree nightmare. Temps were in the 70s, much like they were when I ran it two years; I ended up severely dehydrated and cramping for the last six miles of the race. I had a couple of friends running today and took the day off from work, but I ended up spending it at home with Deb and the girls, who are home for April vacation. I followed my friends' progress online through the marathon's athlete tracking feature. Everybody finished, but it looked like the heat and possibly injuries may have slowed them down a bit.

In other news...
  • Hannah's 3rd birthday bash was held Saturday, even though her actual birthday isn't for two more weeks. The party had a princess theme and everyone seemed to have a blast. Especially Lily, who did her best to keep up with the other kids.
  • We upgraded our cell phones today to sweet new Samsung flip phones with camera, text messaging, and all that other cool crap I never had on my old phone. Not that I ever use my phone that much, but it's nice to have, I guess.
  • Tough times at the Boston Herald, where they're in the middle of some serious job cuts. I've got a few friends over there who I think are safe for now, but the paper has already seen some big names, including columnist Mike Barnicle, either leave or cut back their positions. I've been reading both the Globe and Herald nearly every day for the last 16 years or so, since I was a young newspaper reporter at the Peabody Times (R.I.P.). I always liked the Herald as a brash tabloid counterpoint to the Globe's stodgier broadsheet. In recent months, the Herald has grown trashier, focusing less on the hard news it used to consistently break before the Globe and turning to gossip and sensational stories to sell papers. Obviously, it's not working well enough to save a bunch of jobs. Of course, the Globe has other things to deal with, like freelancers fabricating stories. Ouch.
  • So after a few weeks sans MP3s, I gots my shiz together and have some rock for ya. I'm reaching back to my Canuck roots for this band, the weird and wacky Max Webster. The band (no member was actually named Max Webster) got its start in Toronto in the mid-70s, led by skinny singer and guitar master Kim Mitchell, who had a penchant for unitards, lightning-quick solos, and onstage rock leaps. The band played a wild mix of hard rock, bizarre time changes, symphonic synth-driven mid-tempo stuff and the occasional ballad; kind of like a combo of Rush, Zappa, and Steely Dan. Throw in the off-kilter musings of lyricist Pye Dubois (who later co-wrote "Tom Sawyer," among other things, for Rush) and the band's reportedly crazy live show (I was too young to ever see them), and you've got a left-of center band. They opened for Rush on several tours in the U.S. and elsewhere, but never made much of an impact on the charts. The band released five studio albums and a live album between 1975-81 (all are available as imports through Amazon); they broke up while on tour in the U.S. in 1981. Apparently, Mitchell had had enough and just called it quits. A year later, he launched a fairly successful (and much more mainstream sounding) solo career in Canada that included a few FM radio hits in the U.S.: 1985' s Go for Soda (which was used by Mothers Against Drunk Driving in its campaigns, even though the same album included a song extolling the virtues of Lager and Ale) and 1989's Rock and Roll Duty. They briefly reunited for a few gigs in Canada in 1996 and were rumored to be recording a new album, but nothing ever came of it. Anyhoo, here's a double shot for ya: an early classic from their first album called Here Among the Cats and an awesome blast of rock power from the Universal Juveniles album on which they teamed with Rush for a band vs. band monster called Battle Scar. I really dug these guys and still do; I only wish I'd gotten to see them live.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Tangled Up in Plaid

Whassa happenin', hot stuff? So here's what's up:
  • We got a new computer last week from Dell. Way overdue. We didn't splurge or anything, but we got a flat-screen monitor, DVD and CD-RW drives, an 80-gig hard drive (our old one was 4.3 gigs), and a new printer. Pretty sweeeeeeet.
  • One of the first things I did was to reconfigure my iPod onto this computer instead of my work PC. Of course, this meant the iPod was wiped clean of nearly 10 gigs of music, which sucked. Fortunately, I have the majority of it backed up on CD-R. Although I've started to use this as an opportunity to put some different stuff on. I've begun ripping a bunch of different CDs instead of reloading the Radiohead, Nirvana, VH catalogs.
  • I've also been exploring the world of podcasts. Pioneered last summer by former poodle-haired MTV veejay Adam Curry, podcasting is essentially audio blogging. Wannabe DJs are creating shows about whatever they're interested in--indie rock, baseball, Catholicism, some guy even has a podcast about his daily trips to the bathroom--and making them available for download. You can listen to podcasts on your computer's media player or yes, even your iPod. You can use apps like iPodder (developed by Curry himself) to subscribe to podcasts and download the latest episodes for listening. Of course, movie studios and other corporate entities are getting in on the act, launching podcasts to promote upcoming movies and products. It's definitely more complicated than just doing the blog thing; you need to have decent sound equipment, a degree of technical expertise, and well, time. I'd love to do one, but I barely have time to post to this Internet destination once or twice a week. If you're so inclined, check out some of this shiz; it's pretty cool. Like everything else these days, there's a lot of crap amongst the good stuff, but that's okay.
  • Watched Kill Bill, Vol. 2 last week. What a great freakin' movie. Not as insanely over-the-top as Kill Bill, Vol. 1, but rather a slower-paced, thoughtful conclusion to the saga of the Bride (supoibly played by Uma Thurman). I love the first movie for its martial arts overkill, but as a whole, I like how Tarantino tied the story together with the second movie. Someday I'll watch them both together in one sitting. Someday...
  • The Jays are off to a good start for a change. After disastrous Aprils the last two years, they're 4-2 after the first week of the season, taking two of three from the defending world champeen Red Sox last weekend. Of course, nobody really cared around here because the Sox got their World Series rings today. But I'll enjoy the good times while they last, which probably won't be for very long.
  • Mark my words: the robots are taking over. Don't believe me? Check THIS out. Okay, now head for the hills.
  • Maybe I'm a bit sensitive, but how do you not notice when a leech has made its way up your freakin' nose? Just asking.
  • More later. The MP3 of the Week will return just as soon as I download the appropriate software and do the uploading of the music, etc., etc.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Que Ondo Guero
Okay, so I missed a few days. C'est la vie.

Wanted to give a so-called "shout out," if you will, to my good buddy Briggy, who celebrates his 40th today. The whole family attended a fine birthday party Saturday night at the Newton manse of the aforementioned Briggy; it was good to see my old WebNozie partners in crime Dr. Doobs, OJ and Amy, and Lee and his wife Mary Helen. Hannah and Lily had a blast running around with all the other kids. We figured it was time to leave when Lily tried to climb the stairs and fell on her head (she was fine).

Speaking of Lily, she walks 90% of the time now, and fast, too. The kid's into everything.

Speaking of birthdays, my brother hits the big Larry Bird tomorrow (33, if you need to ask), so mad props go out to him as well. Also, my brother-in-law Steve also has his birthday tomorrow.

Wanted to check in really quick. More later. Seriously.