Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Up for the Down Stroke

Hey, just checking in with a few quick thangs tonight:

  • The whole Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes thing has been all over the media the last few weeks as their respective summer blockbusters were about to come out. Methinks he's trying too hard. In fact, if you watch his Oprah appearance or read about some of the other stuff he's been doing lately, it makes you wonder if he isn't completely unhinged. Which makes this graphic all the more timely (thanks to Banterist).
  • Funny story out of Russia, where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft along with other U.S. businessmen was meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin. Turns out Kraft was showing off his latest Super Bowl ring, which is ginormous, and handed it to Putin, who promptly pocketed the bling and took off. Initial reports said Kraft, not wanting to start an international incident, didn't say anything at the time but was working through the State Department to get the ring back. After a full day of press, Krafty issued a statement saying the ring was actually a gift to Putin, who apparently is a huge Pats fan. Hey, what the hell, the team gave out a ton of rings to staff, anyway. What's one more?
  • This story from New Hampshire may lead officials to change the state motto to "Live Free or Yuck."

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Agony of Defeet

No, this isn't a post about more foot woes. I'm actually feeling pretty good, knock on wood. So the Pittsburgh trip wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, although I spent the majority of the time listening to people talk about hospitals. The first night I was there, I walked through the downtown a little bit and found a lot of people going to various theatrical productions; it made sense, since my hotel was in the theater district. There still wasn't a whole lot to do and I ended up going to bed early both nights, which wasn't a problem because I enjoyed the rare full nights' sleep.

I can't believe it's almost July. This year is flying by. I know I say that every year, but this year it feels like it's going by even quicker. We've got tickets to the Blue Jays-Red Sox game on Saturday, so that should be fun. This will be our first game at Fenway in a couple of years; we have tix for two more games in August.

Some blog fodda:
  • Apple rolled out iTunes 4.9 today, which as promised includes the ability to subscribe to podcasts. I have to say, this thing rocks. It does what Apple does best: takes something that was already being done and does it better. It's so easy to subscribe (one click) and the directory has about 3,000 podcasts, including all the ones I've already been listening to. So I subscribed to those and a few others, like the KCRW show by Harry Shearer. There's also a lot of repurposed crap from mainstream stations like the Morning Zoo with Teddy and Bobo, but that's okay. I guess some people like that shiznitt. All I know is, this is going to open up a whole new world of listeners for these little indie podcasts, and conversely, it will expose a ton of iTunes users to some great content. I highly encourage any of y'all to check it out.
  • Love him or hate him, Jeremy Roenick is one of the NHL's most colorful characters. He didn't do himself or the league any favors over the weekend when he spouted off about the lockout and said, among other things, that anyone who has a problem with the players can "kiss my ass." Of course, after his comments were played on ESPN and nonstop on sports talk radio, he's saying they were taken out of context. Whatever, dude.
  • The Leafs re-signed coach Pat Quinn for another year, which is no surprise. What I was impressed with was the signing of former Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice as the coach of the Leafs' top farm club, the Marlies. He did a good job for a bunch of years with the Canes/Whalers, he's only 38, and he's poised to step in when the 62-year-old Quinn finally hangs it up.
  • The Supreme Court weighed in yesterday with a blow to file-sharing networks like Grokster and Kazaa. Man, sometimes it feels like 2000 again, when I was at the Webnoize writing about the kids stealing the music on the Internet. Other times, not so much.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Fix Up, Look Sharp

Hola, nerditos. Just taking care of some last-minute crap before I head off to lovely Pittsburgh tomorrow for a conference. It's only for a couple of days, but the 'burgh of Pitts ain't exactly known for its roaring nightlife. I'm going by myself, so I would have been happy just to attend a Pirates game, but they're out of town. So it should be fairly boring.

Fiddle, faddle:

  • Don't you just love how the NBA goes and settles its potential lockout situation in a week, while the NHL lets it fester for several YEARS before the thing becomes the worst labor dispute in the history of frickin' sports? Ah well, conventional wisdom has it that the NHL is close to a deal, so my thoughts are starting to turn toward my beloved Maple Leafs. Specifically, how many big contracts will they have to dump to be able to put together a decent team under a salary cap? Certainly, as the Toronto Sun argues logically, it stands to reason that GM John Ferguson Jr. will buy out some of the older players with huge salaries like Brian Leetch and Owen Nolan. Unlike the Bruins, who gambled correctly and only have a couple of players under contract and therefore plenty of room under the cap to sign plenty of new free agents, the Leafs are bogged down under the weight of the big spending they've annually done on veterans in the hopes of buying their way to the Cup. Every year, they pick up guys like Leetch or Ron Francis at the trade deadline, and every year, they knock off Ottawa in the first round of the playoffs and then run out of gas in the second round because they're too damn old. I'd love to see JFJ get creative and bring in some good, young players for a change. As the Leafs head into their 39th year without a Stanley Cup, I'm starting to appreciate what all my friends and neighbors who are Red Sox fans had to deal with all their lives until last fall. Hopefully, I won't have to wait as long as they did for a championship.
  • Yeah, it's been done before, but this still cracks me up.

Time to do some work. I'll blog at ya in a few days.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Fit But You Know It

Two days in a row. I'm outta control. Just wanted to catch up on a bunch of stuff I didn't have time to blog about yesterday. So away we go:

  • First off, sad news on the rock front to report. Karl Mueller, bassist for Soul Asylum, died of throat cancer at 41. It was only last October that a number of Minneapolis rock luminaries gathered at a benefit in Mueller's honor; included was a mini-reunion of Husker Du creative forces Bob Mould and Grant Hart. (Speaking of which, Mould told Billboard last week that a full reunion of the Huskers ain't happenin'. Bummer.)
  • Trust me, I know from experience that it ain't easy to run a marathon. So imagine what the poor schmucks who ran the Lakeshore Marathon in Chicago were feeling when they found out that race organizers mistakenly added an extra mile to the course. Apparently, they also bungled the half-marathon going on at the same time, with runners being directed to go further than they were supposed to. I've had a few similar experiences, although not at a marathon. One year, I did a 5K in Ipswich, MA, in the pouring rain and they had the miles marked incorrectly and we ended up doing a little more than the 3.1 miles we were supposed to. Then a few years back, I was running the East Coast Fall Marathon Tune-up, which is a 30K (18.6 miles), a grueling jaunt along the coast in Lynn and Nahant in 85-degree temps. I was running it pretty quickly, but the heat was so intense, I was woozy and desperate for water coming up to the last mile. Unfortunately, the water stations had already packed up and gone and the water fountain along the beach wasn't working. I crossed back across Lynn Shore Drive to finish the race and admittedly was a bit disoriented from the lack of water, but there were no clear markings on which way to go and no other runners around and I ended up going the wrong way. It was still in the right general direction, but I quickly realized that I was not going back the way I came. Eventually I figured out where I was and found my way back to join the race route for the last 50 yards or so, but I was not happy about it. I still finished at an 8:30 pace, which was pretty good for me going that far in that kind of heat. But I was a hurting unit at the end of that race.
  • Hannah has decided that after three years, she doesn't like her name. She now insists that we call her Princess Fiona of Shrek fame. Although I'm not sure if she wants to be the regular Fiona or the ogre Fiona. Sometimes, she's definitely an ogre.
  • The Live8 concerts to fight hunger in Africa have been able to attract so much talent that they've been turning away bands, including Motley Crue, Meat Loaf, and veteran Brit rockers Status Quo. The shows are scheduled for July 2 in London, Paris, Rome, Philly and Berlin, with rumors that Toronto and Tokyo will also host concerts. The concerts are the brainchild of Sir Bob Geldof, the former frontman for the Boomtown Rats who organized the original Live Aid shows in 1985.
  • Nike's going into the personalized sneaker business, unveiling a NikeID store in NYC where customers make appointments and then design their own shoes. Interesting concept, but it harks back to a push by Levi's a few years back to sell personal fit jeans; you'd go in to a store and get measured and then order jeans to your personal specifications. Totally bombed. At Webnoize, I actually worked briefly with a woman who helped come up with the idea for personalized clothing and was at Levi's when they rolled out the concept. I always wondered if she got the idea from the Seinfeld episode where Kramer wants to open a "make your own pizza" restaurant.
  • I predict this will debut as the biggest-selling DVD release of all time. Yeah, I know, tough pick.

Okay, that's enough for now. Later.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Money City Maniacs

Hey, Happy Father's Day to me and all the other daddios out there. Deb and the girls took me out for breakfast and gave me some good photos of the girls for the office, plus gave me a round of golf to be played at some point in the near future. Works for me. The girls are currently napping (or in Hannah's case, yapping away while in bed) and Deb's at the store, so figured I'd crank out a blog post.

On Wednesday, I had the distinct pleasure of catching the mighty Sloan at tiny TT the Bear's in Cambridge. Before the show, I visited my good buddy OJ and his wife Amy at their place nearby. They just got a new greyhound, Olive, who was still getting used to her new surroundings. Got to the club in time to catch the opening set from the Capitol Years, a great band from Philly who I'd never heard of before. They unveiled a three-guitar attack that somehow combined elements of the Beatles/Kinks/Who while also not sounding totally derivative. Sloan came out and rocked the shizz out of the place, although drummer Andrew Scott's kick drum head broke on the first song. The head was quickly replaced and they proceeded to crank through most of the songs on their new singles comp, A-Sides Win, plus some other classics from back in tha day. I've seen them a bunch of times now and they always put on a great live show, although a few gigs have been marred by PA problems, which I guess is more of a problem with the club they're in. No such problems with this gig. A great, late night.

I'm back now (Lily woke up). I also had good news Wednesday when I found out I got into the NYC Marathon through the lottery. Unfortunately, neither my brother-in-law Matt nor my friend Matt from work got in, so I'll be running it solo like I did in '03. Now I just have to start training. Got my first long run in yesterday, doing 7 miles and feeling pretty good. Hopefully, I'll be able to stay healthy as I train for this thing.

Aiight, that's it for now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Hangman Jury

Yesterday just before 5 p.m. at work, a group of us gathered in the kitchen around the TV to hear the Michael Jackson verdict. As we waited for the announcement, I thought back to 10 years ago, when O.J. Simpson was acquitted in his murder trial. I had just started working for this company, which was a lot smaller then (about 50 employees then, more than 200 now). We had a TV with fuzzy reception in a small conference room that is now an office. After the jury delivered its acquittal of O.J., which was quite shocking, I remember seeing a co-worker so upset she started crying. This time around, the circumstances weren't so monumental; if anything, this was a circus that I had long ago grown tired of. I didn't even stick around to hear of Jackson' s acquittal, which I expected. I decided I'd rather get home and see my family. That's another difference from a decade ago...I had no family to get home to back then.

The best commentary on the Jackson trial and its freak factor is here. Simply hilarious. It's nice to see that MJ has done some serious soul-searching since the verdict.

This and that:

  • Bob Mould is getting ready to launch a rock tour again this fall, and he plans to play some Husker Du and Sugar material this time around. I may have to catch this show, since it could be the closest thing we see to a HD reunion given the dislike he and Grant Hart seem to have for each other. They played a few Husker songs together at a charity gig last fall , but neither seems to want it to go beyond that.
  • Of course, if Roger Waters and Pink Floyd can get back together after all the rancor and lawsuits that went on between them for the last 20-odd years, anything's possible. Check out the young Floydians on American Bandstand, way back in the year of my birth.
  • With Batman Begins just out and Fantastic Four about to be released, the comic book movies just keep on coming; hopefully, they won't suck like Catwoman and Daredevil did. But Movie Poop Shoot reminisces about what is likely the worst superhero interpretation of all: NBC's Legends of the Superheroes in early 1979. I have no memory of this being on, even though I was already big into comics and would have totally dug this; it only lasted two episodes, though. The MPS dude provides plenty of screen grabs and narrative about how awful it is, and I don't doubt him, but I think he missed the point. I would love to see this because it is so bad; I'm a huge fan of bad TV and movies. Which is why I love Mystery Science Theater 3000 so much. Speaking of which, there was a great article in the June 10 Entertainment Weekly (subscription required) about Manos: The Hands of Fate, which writer Dalton Ross rightly calls the worst movie of all time. Manos got the MST3K treatment and has been immortalized in all its horrendous, hilarious glory; you can get the MST3K version or the original on DVD. If you can deal with cinema crapite at its finest, you must see Manos, if only for the wondrous shambling satyr known as Torgo.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Saturday, June 11, 2005

A Salty Salute

I'm doing my best not to sweat on the keyboard. We've made the full-on jump from wet, chilly spring into triple H (hazy, hot and humid for you non-TV weathercast watchers). All week, it's been in the 80s and 90s and sticky. Hey, beats the crappy stuff we had all through May.

As I while away the hours before a softball doubleheader...

  • It's nice to see our homeland security measures have been so impressively beefed up since 9/11. Apparently, when a guy shows up at the border with a chainsaw and a sword, that in and of itself doesn't mean he's forbidden from entering the country. I guess it was his gentle demeanor that convinced the customs agents to let him through. Yeesh.
  • Ah, the InterWeb. Every so often, you come along something inexplicably hilarious like this (audio required). That was my favorite catchphrase a few years back.
  • The charges against Alex Lifeson of Rush stemming from an altercation on New Year's Eve a few years back have been reduced after a plea bargain, but he's not letting it rest, filing a lawsuit against the hotel, its security director, and some sheriff's deputies. Give 'em hell, Alex.
  • Speaking of Canadian good rock, the power popsters of Sloan are touring behind their excellent greatest-hits package, A-Sides Win. They're coming to TT the Bear's in Cambridge next week and I'll be there. TT's is a tiny club so it should be pretty entertaining. Not to mention hotter than balls.
  • Thanks to VH1, the station with an incessant need to compile lists, here is the most useless list of all time: Top 100 Child Stars, with Gary Coleman coming in the top spot. Hell, I used to watch me plenty of the Diff'rent Strokes as a kid. And its truly awful spinoff, Hello Larry, although that show wasn't on for too long. Just long enough to become a Johnny Carson punchline for years to come. The other, much more successful spinoff of Diff'rent Strokes was, of course, The Facts of Life. But then, you knew that already. Did you know that Gary Coleman had his own Saturday morning cartoon for a couple of years? I didn't, or least I've blocked it out of my memory.

Okay, gotta run. More later.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Taking a break from the reception to enjoy the scenery in North Conway. Posted by Hello

Monday, June 06, 2005

At Home He's a Tourist

Greetings. Believe it or not, I had actually written the majority of a post last Thursday, but then I lost the frickin' thing as a result of a condition known as "Internet no worky." Very annoying.

So the wife and I had a fun weekend up in North Conway, NH, where we attended the wedding of one of her best friends. What added to the fun was the fact that we were kidless for the first time in two years; Deb's mom and brother Matt and his family came up to take care of the girls, who apparently had a great time themselves. Meanwhile, we stayed here and were treated to amazing scenery, perfect weather (sunny and 80s for most of the weekend), and plenty of Tuckerman's Pale Ale, which was a big plus in and of itself. The wedding was held outside in a gazebo near the ninth hole of the resort's golf course (which I got to play for free Saturday morning) and facing an enormous ledge. The reception was right down the hall from our room, which was helpful. It was a great little break from the action, but it was also nice to come home to plenty of hugs from Hannah and Lily.

In other nooz:

  • Looks like Molly Ringwald's interested in making a sequel to Sixteen Candles. Nothing like striking while the iron's hot. This could be really, really bad. Loved the original when it came out, as I did other John Hughes films such as The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. They still hold nostalgic charm, although they don't quite hold up as well as the years go by.
  • No news on the NHL front, other than they're still talking. Blah blah blah. One interesting development was the staging of scrimmages over the weekend designed to experiment with rules changes that would increase offense. The brainchild of longtime Bruins exec Harry Sinden, the rules would eliminate the red line AND the blue lines, basically creating a pond hockey game where that one lazy guy just hangs out by the opposing net the whole time waiting for the puck. I'd like to see some changes, but that's going too far. Speaking of hockey, check Off Wing Opinion's carnival of hockey bloggers, which makes a mention of yours truly at the end. Off Wing Eric is one of the best sports bloggers out there and he featured a bunch of other great blogstars, so it's nice to be included with that group.
  • This is pretty cool: CVS started selling a $30 disposable camcorder. You can shoot about 20 minutes of digital video on the camcorder, which you then recycle at CVS in return for the contents being transferred to DVD. What a great idea. Get four or five of them and you can shoot a movie.
  • Steve Jobs provided some more details about iTunes 4.9's podcasting capabilities. I'm interested in checking it out when it's finally released. It's funny to see how everyone's glomming onto the "podcast" buzzword, especially radio broadcasters that are just repurposing crappy old shows as downloads and calling them podcasts. Like this guy. Sorry, dood. When I think of Rush, I think of these guys.