Sunday, December 31, 2006

Something to Look Forward To

Egads, we actually got a little snow yesterday. Granted, it was only about an inch or so, but at least it looks like winter around here today. Who'd have thought our first snowfall of the winter would come on December 30? It was kind of fitting that we watched An Inconvenient Truth. The climate changes we've been undergoing are truly scary, and there's no denying them, although there are plenty of folks who do just that.

As for me, I'm doing my part for the environment by taking alternative means of transportation to work while I don't have a car. We decided the bike option was probably not the safest because of the traffic and darkness on the way home, so instead I'm actually going to run to work two or three times a week and get rides the other days. It's an eight-mile run, which isn't bad, and if I leave the house by 6:30, I can get to Marblehead by 7:45 and have time to shower and change at the gym next to my office. Then I can either get a ride home or have Deb pick me up. We looked into getting a new car now, but it just doesn't make sense for us. So I'll use my feet for now. I'm actually kind of looking forward to it.

We're forgoing our normal New Year's ritual of lobsters and a movie rental to go to the house of our friends Tammy and Steve and their kids for the evening. We'll stay there and come back in the a.m. when all the drunks are passed out, hopefully in their own homes.

And now, because absolutely nobody asked, here's my top 10 albums of 2006:

1. The Hold Steady--Boys and Girls in America
2. Sloan--Never Hear the End of It
3. Mission of Burma--The Obliterati
4. TV on the Radio--Return to Cookie Mountain
5. The Twilight Singers--Powder Burns/A Stitch in Time EP
6. Sonic Youth--Rather Ripped
7. Drive-by Truckers--A Blessing and a Curse
8. Mastodon--Blood Mountain
9. Yo La Tengo--I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
10. The Tragically Hip--World Container

Honorable mention: The Raconteurs--Broken Boy Soldiers; The Minus 5--(The Gun Album); Pearl Jam--self-titled; Iron Maiden--A Matter of Life and Death; Destroyer--Destroyer's Rubies; Eagles of Death Metal--Death By Sexy; Shearwater--Palo Santo; The Lemonheads--self-titled; Tapes 'n Tapes--The Loon; Sebadoh III reissue; Pavement--Wowee Zowee reissue.

Seeya next year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Completely Conspicuous Episode 17: All Apologies

Just in time for New Year's Eve, I got the last podcast of 2006 done under the wire. If you're not subscribed to the show, you can download it directly here (right click and save as).

Here be the show notes:

Topics:
- Resolving to make New Year's resolutions
- 2006: Year of the mea culpa
- A tribute to James Brown
- The value of all-star games
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Tom Vek - I Ain't Saying My Goodbyes
- James Brown - Gutbucket

Completely Conspicuous is now available through the iTunes, Podcast Pickle, and Yahoo podcast directories. Subscribe and write a review!
Find out more about Tom Vek here. Find out more about James Brown here. Find out more about the Podsafe Music Network here.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his Internet home page. And the incidental music used in the show was "Clibopb (Fosco Groove)" by Me and Boris the Bull. Find out more about Me and Boris the Bull here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hot Pants, Pts. 1 & 2

So the great the Pimpmobile experiment is now officially over. Since I had a couple of days off after Christmas, I took my 1992 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight in for a general overhaul/damage assessment. I've had the car for more than two years now and things have been gradually falling apart and wearing down, so I figured it would cost several hundred bucks to fix everything. Then I got the call from the mechanic that the brakes were completely shot, it needed four new tires, various lines and hoses were rotted and leaking, the right rear shock was blown. The cost to repair all this? $2,300! The cost to just have it pass inspection was about $1,800. Yikes. It didn't take long for us to decide not to do all this. It just wasn't worth it. We just paid off our '01 Maxima last month and wanted to have about six months without payments so we could save up a downpayment on a new vehicle. I was hoping the Ninety-Eight would last me until next summer, but the mechanic recommended I not drive it anymore. So we're retiring it; hey, we got our money's worth, considering we got it for free. Of course, that still leaves me with the dilemma of how to get to work for the next few months. We can't afford to get a new vehicle (which we're thinking will be a minivan), so I may be bumming rides from co-workers for a while. I thought about getting a bike and riding the 16 miles to work and back; the only problem is it's pretty dark on the return commute, so I would need some sort of lights on the bike so people don't hit me. Might be a little risky on some of the more crowded parts of the commute. So needless to say, we're still trying to figure out what we're going to do.

Make it funky:
  • Just hanging out while the girls play with their cousins. We had a good Christmas. My mom came down Christmas eve, we had dinner, went to church. The girls dug their eight zillion presents--various princess accessories and toys. I got some cool clothes, running gear, CDs and a book, and an iTunes gift card. I've had a couple of days off from work, although I did have to do some work from home.
  • Sad to hear of the passing of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, on Christmas Day. He was 73. As messed up as he was in the last umpteen years, JB was a true innovator back in the day and left behind some ridiculously good music.
  • Former President Gerald Ford died yesterday. He was most notable for not being elected to either the president or the vice presidency; in both cases, he was appointed to replace other people. Most notably, he stepped in as president after Richard Nixon resigned following the Watergate scandal. Of course, my favorite Gerry Ford moment had to be his "appearance" on the Simpsons.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merchandise

Hope you have all your holiday shopping done by now. I don't. I have to pick up a few things this afternoon. Fortunately, I know what I need to get, so that should help. Still, I'm not looking forward to the insanity of it all. Normally, I'm done by now, but this year, I've just been too busy. Even this weekend, I have to do some work.

No white Christmas for us on the North Shore of Boston. It's 50 degrees and raining right now. Unlike Denver, which got slammed by a couple of feet of snow this week, we're supposed to get sun.

Ho ho huh?:
  • The Seinfeld-created holiday of Festivus is taking on a life of its own, as people actually are choosing to celebrate Frank Costanza's holiday instead of Christmas. I've heard of people throwing Festivus parties, but I've never attended one. If you want to get your celebration going, a Milwaukee company is selling aluminum Festivus poles.
  • One woman, two wombs, three babies. Yowsa!
  • Stephen Colbert has had a hell of a year, with many highlights (including meeting me), but he went out with a bang Wednesday night. He staged a guest star-filled guitar duel with Chris Funk of the Decemberists; check out the highlights here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Completely Conspicuous Episode 16: The Heartwarming Holiday Show

Fresh out of the podcast oven, with no audio drops or coughing fits. Booyah! Download the show directly here (right click and save as).

Show notes:

Topics:

  • Handicapping the '08 Presidential race
  • Pop culture phenomena
  • Embracing year-end lists
  • Exercise addiction (thanks to Phedippidations Episode 70 for the idea)
  • Pinhead of the Week

Music:

  • Tom Waits - How's It Gonna End?
  • Twisted Sister - O Come All Ye Faithful

Completely Conspicuous is now available through the iTunes, Podcast Pickle, and Yahoo podcast directories. Subscribe and write a review!

Find out more about Tom Waits here. Find out more about Twisted Sister here. Find out more about the Podsafe Music Network here.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling here. And the incidental music used in the show was "Clibopb (Fosco Groove)" by Me and Boris the Bull. Find out more about Me and Boris the Bull here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Nausea Shreds Yr Head

Here we are on December 17 and the high today in the Boston area is supposed to reach close to 60. I played football yesterday in shorts. We're a week from Christmas and the grass is still green. What's wrong with this picture?

Don't get me wrong, I like to be able to go running in shorts as long as possible, but it's hard to get into the Christmas spirit when the weather is far from wintry. In years past, we'd be shivering in our boots and dreaming of 60-degree days. We've had a couple of chilly days and a slight dusting of snow, but the worst winter weather I've seen was when I was stuck in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago.

As a result, the holiday is really sneaking up on me this year. It's not that I'm not aware of it. How could I miss it, with the girls watching Christmas specials and our tree in full effect and all that? But I've been so busy at work that it has been easy to forget that we're only a week away. I need to get some shopping done, but I've got too much work stuff to do today. Looks like I'll be finishing up during the week sometime. Typical.

Pass the nog:
  • The Leafs shellacked the Rangers last night, 9-2, in about as unlikely a result as you'll see this year. It was 5-1 after the first and 8-1 after the second. Just a total mismatch. A lot of folks expected the opposite to happen. It was Toronto's third win in a row after losing seven straight. Maybe they've turned the ship around.
  • I was pleased that the Jays were able to sign supastar Vernon Wells to a long-term deal (seven years, $126 million). He was going to be a free agent after next year and would have commanded much more. For a while, it seemed a certainty they would have traded Wells instead of losing him to free agency, but this helps them keep up with the Sox and Yankees. They still need to get some more pitching, but they'll be tough next year.
  • Some guy in Wisconsin ran over a seven-legged deer the other day. Wonder what's polluting their water out there?
  • Time magazine named its Person of the Year and guess what? It's you. No offense, but what a cop out. Apparently, we all use computers and the Interweb and whatnot. Wow. Do we all get a trophy?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Annihilation of the Spirit

We're deep into the Christmas frenzy. The girls are really getting into it this year. They've really taken to the original animated version of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" (I saw the Jim Carrey movie once and it struck me as kinda creepy, and not in a good, Grinchy way). We've watched it a bunch of times on TV and they like hearing good ol' Boris Karloff narrating it on CD, and they especially love the classic song, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," delivered by the immortal Thurl Ravenscroft. Also known as the original voice of Tony the Tiger in Frosted Flakes commercials, Ravenscroft's name was left off the credits for the Grinch special, leading many (including me) to originally believe Karloff did the song. It's a blast to hear Lily and Hannah sing the song, although like everything else they enjoy, they want to hear it over and over again.

The girls are disappointed we don't have a lot of snow, but I'm not. We got a dusting on Friday morning, along with some seriously frigid temps, but like everything else around here, it didn't last long. The forecast for this week calls for temps in the 40s and 50s. Maybe we'll get some snow by Christmas.

Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice:
  • Holy crap, just when I think the Leafs can't get any worse, they go and get worse. Saturday night's loss to Detroit was their seventh straight. Just brutal. They're getting outhustled, outworked and just plain outplayed. They take stupid penalties at inopportune times, they don't capitalize o their own chances, and they consistently leave opponents open for good scoring chances. It's getting tough to watch.
  • A so-called shout out to the UNH men's hockey team, which is unbeaten in 12 games and was ranked number 2 in the nation as of last week. The women's team is kicking butt, too, at 14-2-3 and ranked third in the nation.
  • Only in America: If you're in Arizona, make sure you check out the Heart Attack Grill, where they offer the Quadruple Bypass Burger, an 8,000-calorie monstrosity. I've been known to throw back some mass quantities of food before, but that's just nasty.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Completely Conspicuous Episode 15: Couldn't Stand the Weather

After a couple of slack-off weeks, the podcast is back. If you're not subscribed, download it here (right click and save as). There's a weird thing happening around the seventh minute or so where the audio drops out for about a minute. I don't know why, because I didn't do or change anything, but it's there. I thought about re-recording it, but it was late and I was tired. I've got some ideas for next time, so hopefully it's just a freak incident.

Show notes

Topics:

  • Whither the weather?
  • Talk show talk
  • Holiday music overdrive
  • Baseball's spending spree
  • Pinhead of the Week

Music:

  • The Black Angels - Bloodhounds on My Trail
  • Death Cab for Cutie - Title and Registration

Completely Conspicuous is now available through the iTunes, Podcast Pickle, and Yahoo podcast directories.


Find out more about The Black Angels here. Find out more about Death Cab for Cutie here. Find out more about the Podshow Music Network here.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling here. And the incidental music used in the show was "Clibopb (Fosco Groove)" by Me and Boris the Bull. Find out more about Me and Boris the Bull here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Killer Parties

It's good to be back home. I had quite the adventure, although much of it didn't go as planned. So here goes the tale...

Thursday
The plan was to go into work for a few hours, get picked up by our limo company and taken to the airport at 11, fly at 12:15 via Dallas to arrive in New Orleans by 6 p.m. Central. Things were really busy at work and I got a call from our travel agent saying my flight had been cancelled, but American Airlines rebooked me through St. Louis and I would get to Nawlins around the same time. Turns out Dallas was experiencing some winter weather. So I got on the new flight and delved into my John Irving book, Until I Find You, an 820-page opus that I'd been working on for a few months. I was a little more than halfway through it when I left. Little did I know I'd need to bring another book.

When we got to St. Louis, I noticed there was a little snow on the ground, but it hardly looked like anything to be concerned about. The flight attendant gave us our connecting information and it looked like I had to head right for the next gate because my flight to Nawlins was boarding at that time. As we landed, I noticed that there were crews plowing a lot of snow on the runway; apparently, there was more snow than I realized. I went to my gate and found that my connecting flight had been cancelled. Then I looked at the big board and saw that ALL flights were cancelled. Oh, crap.

Turns out the snow had been turning to sleet and was already icing up the planes, and it was going to continue through the night. I went to the gate and and the guy rebooked my flight for 7:30 a.m. Friday morning, arriving at 9:15 in New Orleans. My conference was starting around 9, but at least I'd be there. So then I had to figure out what I was doing for the night. It became quickly apparent that thousands of others were in the same boat and I heard someone say all the area hotels and motels were already booked. I decided to just tough it out and stay in the airport, partly because I didn't want to pay for a hotel or deal with the hassle of getting to one. I called Deb to let her know I was stranded.

I decided to go get my bag so I'd have my toiletries and stuff, but when I got to the baggage claim, I found they had taken all the bags off the carousels. I saw a few people from my flight with their bags, so I kept walking around looking through all the various pieces of luggage for my suitcase. I couldn't find mine and then talked to an airport worker who suggested I look in a different area, and sure enough, there it was. Because I'd retrieved my bag already, I would have had to go through security to get back to the gate area, so I looked for a restaurant in the area I was in to get some food and find out what was going on with the storm.

There weren't a lot of choices, basically a Burger King and a BBQ place, so I chose the latter and sat at the bar. The place was lousy with stranded travelers. The couple next to me had a phone book out and was calling area hotels with no luck. I ordered some ribs and a beer and watched the local news channel going nuts with their "first storm of the winter" coverage; there was even a segment where a reporter was explaining the proper way to scrape ice off your windshield. While I was there, I called my brother, who lives a few hours away in Peoria; I didn't want him to pick me up or anything, I just figured I'd kill some time and hadn't talked to him in a while. Turns out he had just flown into Chicago and was driving a rental car through the snow.

After I ate and hung out for a while, I went to go find myself a spot to spend the night. People were hunkering down on the floor in the American terminal; I opted for some seats across from an ATM. Unfortunately, there were arm rests between the seats that didn't move, so I couldn't stretch out on the chairs. But the floor looked cold, so I figured I'd just sleep in a chair. It was 7 p.m. Central. I started reading my book, using my suitcase as a footrest. The airport police came through at one point, handing out emergency blankets and pillows. It wasn't too cold in there, except for the occasional draft that blew through when someone came in or out. I put my fleece on and used the blanket.

Around 11:30, I decided to try and get some sleep, setting my watch alarm for 6 a.m. As you can imagine, the chair wasn't very comfortable. I kept waking up every half hour or so to readjust myself in the chair and make sure no one had taken anything. I ended up clicking my backpack strap around the chair arm so if someone tried to take it, I would have woken up. But everyone was pretty cool, except for the Indian jackass a few seats down from me who insisted on talking on his cellphone at 1 a.m. and whose phone kept ringing every so often. There was a steady stream of people walking around--cops occasionally zipping by on Segways, soldiers who were among the stranded, airport workers chuckling at the guys who zonked out on the floor.

Friday
I woke up at 4:30 and saw a long line for the security checkpoint and then heard a woman talking to some guy who said he heard on the radio that all flights were cancelled until noon because of the ice that fell all night. I decided to go check my bag and find out what was happening with my flight. After almost an hour in line, I got my boarding pass and was told my flight was still leaving at 7:30.

I got to my gate and watched as the flight kept getting pushed back to 8, 9, 10, 10:30. We could see them deicing other planes and it looked like there was plenty of ice. Finally they cancelled the flight and I rebooked for a 4:10 flight that would get me to New Orleans at 6 p.m. A few flights were getting out, but plenty were still being cancelled. At one point, an airline staffer said 10,000 people were stuck in the airport. At 3:30, I went to my new gate and was heartened by the fact that the plane had just arrived and didn't need deicing. Sure enough, we boarded and got the hell out of there on time.

In New Orleans, it was about 50 degrees, which felt like summer compared to St. Louis. I got my stuff and took a shuttle to my hotel. Since I'd been wearing the same clothes for two days straight, I took a shower and went to get something to eat. I decided to walk down to the French Quarter to see what it looked like these days. It was pretty much how I remembered it, although not quite as crowded as it was eight years ago when I was last there. Plenty of folks young and old walking around with drinks in hand as the smell of puke wafted through the air. Definitely not a place to bring the kids. I wandered up and down Bourbon Street before settling on a little restaurant to get a beef brisket sandwich and some jambalaya. It was 9 p.m. by the time I ate, so I just finished up and went back to the hotel to get some sleep in an actual bed.

Saturday
I had planned to get up at 6 and run on the treadmill at the hotel gym because I hadn't been able to work out since I played hockey Wednesday night, but I was so tired I opted for a little more sleep. I went to the conference and spent the day working. There was a reception where I snagged a couple of free beers and talked to some people before I headed out at 8 to the House of Blues, where I planned to eat dinner before catching the Hold Steady show. I knew it was going to be a late night and I had to get up at 5:30 to catch my shuttle to the airport, but I didn't care. While I was waiting for my food, I spotted the band eating across the restaurant, but I didn't feel like going over there and playing the fanboy.

I was pretty stuffed after dinner and headed over to the Parish, a smaller bar at the HOB that reminded me of the Middle East downstairs but even less capacity. I was surprised that such a buzz band was playing such a small venue, but also psyched to see them there. A cool local band called the Zydepunks played a great, accordion-fueled opening set, followed by The Big Sleep, who had opened the Middle East show I saw in October. I talked to the merch guy for the Hold Steady about the drunken Cambridge show and he agreed it was a crazy show, what with the free flowing shots and all. He complained that some bloggers had slagged that show (and him for being onstage with the band and opener Sean Na Na) and also said Boston sucked in general. Then he noted that he was tired and grumpy. Whatevah. Later on, I saw THS keyboard master Franz Nicolay and talked to him about the Cambridge show, which his whole family attended. He said his dad had a blast, but his mom wasn't too thrilled by the whole drunken spectacle thing.

The band came out at 12:15 and ripped through a tight, 85-minute set. The boozing was limited to a case of Bud that singer Craig Finn worked his way through, occasionally opening a can and spraying the foam on those of us in front like so much holy water. I'd guess there were maybe 125 people in the place, but it was an enthusiastic crowd. Highlights included "Positive Jam," "The Swish" and "Party Pit." During the closing number, "Killer Parties," the band likes to bring a bunch of fans up on stage with them. I was right up front and at first didn't want to go up, but then I figured what the hey. I thought the stage might collapse from everyone dancing and jumping on it, because we were bouncing up there, but it held. Shook hands with drummer Bobby Drake and guitarist Tad Kubler and then I headed back to the hotel. I had stopped drinking hours earlier because I didn't want to be hungover on three hours sleep in the a.m., so I had to crack up at seeing all the middle-aged couples staggering around.

Sunday
I got up at 5:25, got my stuff together and got to the airport. We flew to St. Louis, where some passengers got off and others got on. I had some time to kill, so I went into the airport to get something to eat. I ended up running into an older couple I had hung out with on Friday morning. They were still waiting to catch their flight to LA on their way to Hawaii, TWO DAYS LATER. Damn. At least they were able to extend their vacation.

So I got home about a half hour early. It's good to be back. And guess what? It's snowing out. Sweeeeet.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

They Ride

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Now we're sliding down the hill towards the holidays. The long weekend was enjoyable. Ran the Wild Turkey 5-miler in Salem on Thanksgiving Day and managed to catch the one hour of the day that didn't rain. Despite the roast beef sandwich and beer I had consumed the night before, I ran the race in a PR time of 36:33. Back at the ranch, we had a full house and did some serious chowing. By the third football game at 8, I was already falling asleep. The rest of the weekend was fairly mellow. We had some problems with our heat not working on Thursday (fortunately, it wasn't too cold out) and our toilet leaking water, so we had repair guys in to fix those problems on Friday and Saturday, but luckily we managed to escape any major bills.

I'm getting ready for another work trip, this time to New Orleans on Thursday. I haven't been to Nawlins since 1998, which seems like an eternity, especially now in this post-Katrina phase for the city. I'm staying in the French Quarter, which seems to have rebounded fairly well; it'll be interesting to see how the rest of the city's doing. It's a quick trip. The conference is Friday and Saturday and then I fly back Sunday morning. I'm looking forward to some of that great food.

Testify:
  • I don't know about you, but I'm just shocked and chagrined about Pam Anderson and Kid Rock getting divorced. Who could have seen that coming?
  • I watched the Patriots-Bears game Sunday at my buddy Phil's house on his 42-inch HD plasma screen. Wow, what a difference. Not that I'm going to go out and buy one because those things cost an arm and a leg, but man, that's an impressive viewing experience. Of course, HD just made seeing Junior Seau's broken arm that much more disgusting. Hell of a game. Nice to see the Pats pull one out, especially against such a tough defense.
  • Hats off to the UNH football team, which won its first-round playoff game against Hampton Saturday in a 41-38 shootout. Now it's on to UMass this weekend, which will be tough because the Minutemen have a killer defense this season.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Starts Off With a Bang

So there I was, minding my own business, fast asleep dreaming some silly dream, when at about 2:50 this morning, a loud BOOOOOOM!! woke me up. The whole house shook for several seconds. And then all was quiet. I sat up, trying to figure out what was going and then the phone rang; it was my mother-in-law, calling my wife, who was already downstairs. I ran downstairs and we scrambled around the house trying to figure out what happened. The girls, meanwhile, slept right through it; step on the wrong stair and the creak will wake Lily up, but a massive noise and house-shaking, nothing. The street was calm and dark, lights in most houses were out, and there was no sign that anything was amiss. We continued looking around when we saw one of our neighbors outside with a flashlight; he said he felt the same thing we did and thought his furnace had blown, but it was fine. Just then a fire engine went racing by with its flashing lights on. We went back inside. Deb and her mom were wide awake and decided to drive around and see if they could find out what happened. I stayed home with the kids and tried to get some more sleep, but my mind was racing as I thought it could have been a small plane crash (we have a small airport nearby).

I woke up at 6 to my alarm and Deb told me we felt an explosion at a Danvers chemical plant about three miles from our house. Turns out people felt it as far as 30 miles away, thinking it was an earthquake. Nobody was killed and only 10 were injured, but it looks a bunch of people in the area will have to find shelter for Thanksgiving. It's all over the local news right now.

Stuck in Lodi again:
  • We're getting ready to host Thanksgiving. Deb's mom is cooking, and our guests will include my mom, Deb's brother Matt and family, and her aunt Marsha and cousin Tim. Matt and I are going to run the Wild Turkey 5-Mile run in Salem tomorrow morning, which gives us license to chow down later.
  • I played football with a bunch of guys from work on Saturday and my hamstrings are still sore. It didn't help that the field was pretty slick and muddy after all the rain we got last week. Fun stuff. I was only able to play for an hour of the two-hour game because I had to be home to take the kids, but it was a blast.
  • Here's the best kids' soccer team sponsor ever: Motorhead. Lemmy and the boys sponsored a U-10 team in the U.K. Man, my team in the seventh grade was sponsored by my dad's union: our name was something like "Ontario Hydroelectric Engineers Local 312." Catchy.
  • Still in shock over the whole Michael Richards meltdown last week at a comedy club, where he lost it and made some nasty racist comments to a couple of hecklers. Unfortunately for him, an audience member had a camcorder and recorded the whole thing, and it made the rounds quickly. It's pretty unbelievable. Jerry Seinfeld was on the Letterman show Monday and had Richards on via satellite to apologize; it was as uncomfortable an interview as you'll ever see. There was some nervous laughter in the Letterman audience as Richards talked; Seinfeld admonished them, saying, "Don't laugh. This isn't funny." Richards seemed sincerely upset at his actions and claimed he wasn't a racist, just angry. Maybe, but that stuff had to come from somewhere. He said he likes perform on the edge and tried to amp it up to make it all sound like a joke, but obviously it didn't work. He's going to have a tough time overcoming his videotaped tirade. He was fairly beloved from his days as Kramer on the Seinfeld show, but he pretty much blew that.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Completely Conspicuous 14: More Stuffing, Please

Just in time for Thanksgiving. Check it out here (right click and save as).

Show Notes

Topics:
  • The robots are taking over
  • OJ Simpson (Slight Return)
  • NOW That's What I Call Crap
  • Thanksgiving and football
  • Pinhead of the Week

Music:

  • My Morning Jacket - O Is the One That Is Real
  • Danko Jones - Baby Hates Me

Completely Conspicuous is now available through the iTunes, Podcast Pickle, and Yahoo podcast directories.

Find out more about My Morning Jacket here. Find out more about Danko Jones here. Find out more about the Podshow Music Network here.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling here. And the incidental music used in the show was "Clibopb (Fosco Groove)" by Me and Boris the Bull. Find out more about Me and Boris the Bull here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Greg Dulli of the Twilight Singers at the Paradise in Boston, 11/14/06. Posted by Picasa
Flashback

I had the good fortune of attending the Twilight Singers show Tuesday night at the Paradise. I had caught Greg Dulli's previous band, the Afghan Whigs, a few times at the same venue in the '90s, most recently on their 1998 tour for their final album, 1965.

Dulli always puts on a great show, and he didn't disappoint this time around. The Twilight Singers are ostensibly touring behind their excellent new EP, A Stitch in Time, as well as Powder Burns, the band's full-length that was released earlier this year. After fine sets from openers Stars of Track and Field and Twilight Singers keyboardist/guitarist Jeff Klein, Dulli and crew took the stage of the not-quite sold out club. A little paunchier than in his Whigs days, Dulli took center stage with his mike stand specially tricked out with beer holder on one side and ashtray on the other (the Twilight Singers like their cancer sticks--most of them were chain-smoking throughout the show).

The band ripped through a 90-minute set chock full of Dulli's roiling, dark tales of addiction and love gone wrong. There was nary a song by the beloved Afghan Whigs, but Dulli offered snippets of covers throughout, including a line from Led Zep's "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" and later from Steve Miller's "The Joker." Highlights included the opening three songs, "Teenage Wristband," "I'm Ready," and "Bonnie Brae," as well as the band's take on TV On the Radio's "Wolf Like Me."

Guest star Mark Lanegan lent his formidable presence to the show, coming out to sing three songs in mid-set and two more during the encore; Lanegan performed a similar role when I saw Queens of the Stone Age last year. Unlike the jovial Dulli, who was cracking up throughout the show with his bandmates, Lanegan was all business. He came out, sang his songs--a cover of Massive Attack's "Live With Me," "I'll Take Care of You," and "Sideways in Reverse"--and walked off stage before the last song even ended. The dude's got some serious presence, though, with that awesome low growl of a voice of his. After his last song during the encore, he barely acknowledged the crowd with a slight nod of his head.

Dulli was quite the showman, dropping to his knees at one point, playing steady rhythm guitar, and playing a few songs on piano, which was right in front me as you can see from the photo I took on my camera phone. You can almost make out facial features. Woo hoo! Dulli even took a shot at the Red Sox for their expensive pursuit of Japanese pitcher Daiksuke Matsuzaka: "I can't believe you guys paid $51 million just to talk to him." The show ended just before midnight, meaning I had a long day ahead of me, but it didn't matter. Good times.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Completely Conspicuous 13: Sleepwalking

Lucky number 13 is here. Check it out here (right click and save as).

Show notes

Topics:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • The glut of computer-animated kids' movies
  • What's the deal with Van Halen?
  • Soccer: Ignored in America
  • Pinhead of the Week

Music:

  • Jets To Brazil - Perfecting Loneliness
  • Nada Surf - Do It Again

Completely Conspicuous is now available through the iTunes, Podcast Pickle, and Yahoo podcast directories.

Find out more about Jets to Brazil here. Find out more about Nada Surf here.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling here. And the incidental music used in the show was "Clibopb (Fosco Groove)" by Me and Boris the Bull. Find out more about Me and Boris the Bull here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production.

The Kids Don't Get It

Hey. Just scraping together a few sentences before heading off to work. Only 10 days until Thanksgiving, but the Christmas advertising has already begun. Some stores just roll right into it after Halloween. Honestly, I don't even want to think about it right now.

Kibbles and bits:
  • So the Democrats indeed won the House and Senate, and now the Bush administration is making nice with the Dems. It's a strange new world.
  • The Leafs are playing well, even with their best player and top goalie out with injuries. They've won four straight and seven of their last eight. They still have stretches of inconsistent play that are infuriating and make me wonder about their chances to go very far in the playoffs, but they're picking up key points now.
  • Speaking of hockey, I've skated the last two Wednesday nights in Lynn. The skill level is pretty similar to the guys I had been skating with the last nine years in Waltham and Concord. I'd say the overall talent of the skaters might be a little better with this group, but the goalies were better with my old group. Despite my timing and fitness level being off, I managed to score a goal on both nights.
  • If you were ever wondering if a burrito was a sandwich, now there's legal precedent for you to check out. A judge in Worcester, Mass., says no, ruling in a case where Panera was trying to block a Mexican restaurant from opening in its plaza. I'm glad that burning issue has been settled once and for all.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Lure Would Prove Too Much

Word up. A big change is sweeping the land tonight. Democrats are doing well in the midterm elections. Don't know quite yet if they'll win control of the House, but they're certainly making an impact. Not surprising, really. Should be an interesting next couple of years.

Right now, Deval Patrick is making his acceptance speech as the new governor of Massachusetts. He's the first Democrat governor we've had in 16 years, and he's the first black governor this state has ever had. Change is afoot indeed.

Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?
  • There's other big news besides the elections today. Holy crap, Britney's divorcing K-Fed! Is this a surprise to anyone?
  • The mid-80s pop trio lineup of Genesis is reuniting for its first tour in 15 years. I liked them more when Peter Gabriel was fronting the band in a flower costume, but they had some decent songs until Phil Collins totally de-progified them.
  • Congrats to Lance Armstrong, who finished the NYC Marathon on Sunday in 2:59 with minimal training. Imagine how he would have done if he had seriously trained. Also, crazy Dean Karnazes finished in 3:00, which was all the more impressive considering it was his 50th marathon in 50 different states on 50 consecutive days. UK rapper The Streets, aka Mike Skinner, had to drop out of the race because of a torn muscle. I just read recently that the late Joe Strummer of the Clash was a marathon runner (scroll halfway down the page for a couple of photos of him running); he ran the London and Paris marathons in the early '80s during the height of his career. Whoda thunk it?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Completely Conspicuous 12: Slinging Mud

Another busy week, another late episode. You can download another episode here (right click and save as).

Here be the show notes:

Episode 12

Topics:
  • Political attack ads
  • The new wave of gory movies
  • Musicians going Vegas
  • Do the Olympics matter anymore?
  • Pinhead of the Week

Music:

  • They Might Be Giants - Am I Awake?
  • Dirty on Purpose - Light Pollution

Completely Conspicuous is now available through the iTunes, Podcast Pickle, Pod-Planet, and Yahoo podcast directories.

Find out more about They Might Be Giants here. Find out more about Dirty on Purpose here.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling here. And the incidental music used in the show was "Clibopb (Fosco Groove)" by Me and Boris the Bull. Find out more about Me and Boris the Bull here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Massive Nights

Happy Halloween, y'all. Just sitting waiting for trick-or-treaters to knock on our door. Deb took the girls to visit a couple of friends before we take them out in the neighborhood. This is the one time of year when I actually see just about everyone on my street.

I left work early today because they close off the streets of Salem at 5 for the big Nawlins-esque Halloween free-for-all; didn't want to get caught in Witch City. I've never actually gone to Salem on Halloween, even when I lived there for a year. Just never had the desire, and I'm not one of those Halloween haters, either (you know who you are). I certainly enjoy the candy aspect of the season, perhaps a little too much.

I'm feeling surprisingly good today, considering I didn't get home from the Hold Steady show last night until 1:30. That's a tad late on a school night, even by my standards. Last night's show was the final date of the first leg of a monthlong tour to promote their excellent new album, Boys and Girls in America. So we should have known what to expect. The band's old-Springsteen-meets-Led-Zep sound translates well to the bar setting, but last night, they put the "bar" back in bar band. I met up with OJ early in the evening at the Middle East in Cambridge and we checked out openers the Big Sleep and Sean Na Na, the latter act being a power pop band from the Hold Steady's hometown of Minneapolis. They were pretty goofy and pretty fun, and at the rate they were doing shots, well on their way to being pretty drunk. When the Hold Steady came out, frontman Craig Finn was already half in the bag. Things got off to a slow start after a series of technical problems beset the band: Finn's pedal didn't work, the bass sound was cut off, and later keyboardist Franz Nicolay had some sound issues as well. But they plugged on through and soon were ripping through rockin' versions of "Cattle and the Creeping Things," "Your Little Hoodrat Friend" and "Chips Ahoy." Finn is a manic frontman who rants more than sings, is prone to impromptu Ozzy-style clapping, wild gesticulations, and rambling monologues. He looks like a college professor more than a rock singer as he weaves his tales of drug deals, teenage sex and the Twin Cities. He had the crowd eating out of his hand last night, especially the folks right up front who were shouting every word to every song along with him. The band sounded good, but the Sean Na Na guys kept coming up on stage to deliver shots, sing backup and roll around on the floor and the show got progressively messier. Eventually, Finn was staggering and guitarist Tad Kubler was feeling no pain. It was definitely an experience, although it would have been nice to see them when they weren't falling-down drunk. I was trying to think of a singer I've seen live who was more addled than Finn, but I can't. The security guys were right in front of us and were starting to freak out, especially during the final song "Killer Parties" when the band brought at least 50 people up on stage with them. Fortunately nothing bad happened and everybody left peacefully after the song ended. With all the hype surrounding them, it's unlikely the Hold Steady will play a venue that small again. Hopefully, they'll hit the Paradise in the middle of a tour next time.

The cattle and the creeping things:

  • I'm back playing hockey again starting tomorrow night in Lynn. My friend Lee's Wednesday night group needs a few guys, so I'm in. I'm looking forward to it, although I'm sure I'll be sucking major wind tomorrow night after two months off the ice.
  • The price is wrong, bitch: Bob Barker's retiring after 50 years.
  • I dare say this is an exhibit Beavis and Butt-head would love, because it's all about poop.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Raider Man

Happy Friday. Shaking off the cobwebs after rising at about 5:15 with Lily. Looks like we're in for a rainy weekend. Well, at least I don't have to get a long run in.

Up and at them:
  • Watched the Leafs-Senators game last night and man, did Toronto look awful. Part of it is the Senators are starting to play the way they did last year. The other part is, unfortunately, so are the Leafs.
  • Ventured out Tuesday night to see Frank Black. He was supposed to play Avalon, which holds about 2,000, but the show was moved to Axis, which maybe holds half that. Bummer for Frank, but cool for me. He played nearly two hours, starting with a solo acoustic set that included a couple of Pixies tunes (Cactus, Holiday Song) and then bringing about his three-piece backing band for a wide-ranging collection of his solo stuff and obscure covers. Pretty great show. Last time I saw him was at the Middle East in July 1999 with the Catholics, touring for the Pistolero album. Although he's been on a country-roots rock bender lately, FB and the band rocked that stuff pretty hard Tuesday night.
  • When I was in college, Faces of Death was a big deal, with its scenes of real people and animals dying. People were renting it all the time. I could never get myself to watch it, but I heard all about it from folks who did. With the recent resurgence of ultraviolent horror films like Saw and Hostel, it's no surprise that someone's looking to remake Faces. I still won't see it, though. I bet you could find worse stuff online if you really wanted to.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Completely Conspicuous 11: Dance, You Fools!

This one was a little late in coming because of the long weekend in Chi-town. I'm planning to do another show over the coming weekend.

You can download the episode directly here (right click and save as).

Here are the show notes:

Episode 11

Topics:

  • Caffeine addiction
  • Dancing With the Stars
  • Posthumous recording careers
  • Expanding your waistline in college
  • Pinhead of the Week

Music:

  • Kathy Valentine - Retouch Me
  • What Made Milwaukee Famous - Sweet Lady

Completely Conspicuous is now available through the iTunes and Yahoo podcast directories.
Find out more about Kathy Valentine here. Find out more about What Made Milwaukee Famous here.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling here. And the incidental music used in the show was "Clibopb (Fosco Groove)" by Me and Boris the Bull. Find out more about Me and Boris the Bull here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production.


Monday, October 23, 2006
















Stephen Colbert and his Indian friend Jay.

Before the End of the Race

I'm back. 'Twas a fun-filled weekend that was highlighted by my 3:54 finish in the Chicago Marathon, beating my previous best time by five minutes. Took me four years to improve on that PR in Maine. So anyway, here's the story of the weekend:

Friday
Deb and the girls dropped me off at the airport before they headed to New Jersey for the weekend. My flight was on time, I picked up my rental (a 2006 Chevy Monte Carlo) and got on the road to Peoria. After crawling through some busy Chicago-area traffic, I found myself on some seriously open roads. There is a whole lotta nothin' out there--just farmland and flat roads. It took me three hours to get to my brother's house, which is pretty nice. In his subdivision, the street signs include the names of people on the street, like a directory or something. Of course, JP didn't buy into that, so he left up the name of the previous owner.

Saturday
Got up early, had some breakfast, and headed back to Chicago. The trip was quicker, only 2.5 hours. I dropped off the car at O'Hare and took the CTA train to the city. After checking in at my hotel, I met up with Jon and Kerry and we went to the race expo so I could pick up my race packet. It was pretty jam-packed and just like the New York Marathon expo last fall, a lot of the official race gear was already sold out by the time I got there. We went back to the hotel and waited for Rick, who arrived in Chicago in the afternoon and went straight to the expo to pick up his stuff before it closed.

We relaxed for a while and then headed over to Scoozi's, an Italian restaurant, for our pre-race pasta meal. We got there a little early and had to wait to be seated because the place was full of marathoners. While we were standing near the entrance, I saw a guy walking towards us who looked a lot like Stephen Colbert. As he went into the men's room, I remembered reading in the Chicago Tribune earlier in the day that he was in town to serve as grand marshal of the homecoming parade at Northwestern, where he went to college. So when he came out of the restroom, I said, "Stephen!" He turns around and says nonchalantly, "Yeah?" and leans against the wall where we were standing. I blubbered something about being a big fan of the show and shook his hand and Jon, Rick and Kerry all said hi to him, and then I asked him if I could get a picture with him and he said "Sure." I handed Jon my camera phone and told Colbert, "I can be your one Indian friend," referring to the photo often used on "The Colbert Report" of him with his one black friend Alan. Colbert said "Good idea," and gave the classic goofy smile and point, although the pointing part was cut off. The place was pretty dark and the photo's grainy, as you can see above.

He went back to eat with his wife and three kids, but we were all awestruck at just how down-to-earth he was. We finally were seated a while later and chowed down some pasta and got back to our hotels early. We were keeping a close eye on the weather forecasts because it was looking like it would be rainy and raw in the a.m. Rick and I were staying right near Millennium Park, where the marathon started and ended. When I checked in, I found out our room had a king bed instead of two doubles, so I asked for a pull-out bed to be brought to the room. Of course, it never arrived, so both of us, secure in our heteroness, slept in the king, although I maturely placed my pillows down the middle like Les Nessman outlining the imaginary walls to his office. We planned on getting up at 6 and walking over to the park by 7. We had to get in our race corrals well before the 8 a.m. start. I was dismayed to find I had forgotten to pack my long-sleeved running shirt, so I planned to wear a short-sleeve shirt and the cheap Tyvek jacket I bought at the expo.

Sunday (race day)
Our wakeup call was set for 5:45, but I woke up at 5:30 to go to the bathroom and was wide awake. The weather reports seemed to indicate the rain was moving away, but also said to expect 25-30 mph winds as the race progressed. We got outside and it was damn chilly. I almost immediately regretted not wearing running pants, but I knew I would hate running a marathon in them, so I gritted my teeth and kept walking. We found the start area and split up; I was in the Preferred Start II corral (which was after the competitive and Preferred I areas) and Rick was in the open corral. He's way faster than me, but he forgot to send in proof of his race times and was stuck with everyone else in the back. Jon and Kerry were up with the faster groups.

I went to the front of my corral and stood with folks who were planning to run the race in 3:30, 3:40, 3:45. I was hoping for 3:55, but I figured starting up there was no big deal. After 30 teeth-chattering minutes, the race started. You could see shirts, sweatpants and other articles of clothing flying through the air as runners shed their outergarments and started running. After a few minutes, a light drizzle started, but it never got worse than that. The temperature was right around 40 and after the first mile, I was feeling pretty sweaty in my jacket. I took it off after a few miles and tied it around my waist in case I'd need it later. I felt good and ran strong, not trying to keep with anyone but just keeping a good pace going of about 8:30 miles.

I had a bottle of water with me but I never used it because the water and Gatorade stations were so well organized. Plus the cooler weather made me less thirsty than some of the other races I've run. As for the race itself, it reminded me of the NY Marathon in that you get to see the whole city. It was a blast. People were out in every neighborhood--Greektown, Chinatown, the South Side, Little Italy--and you could really feel the support.

I felt good physically throughout. My quads were tight and one of my arches bothered me at one point, but other than that, I was fine. I just kept going and never hit the wall, although the last three or four miles were more of a struggle. I brought my iPod and it definitely helped keep me going: I listened to all three Hold Steady albums, Danko Jones' Sleep is the Enemy, Fugazi's Repeater and then a couple of shuffle songs, culminating in the Sloan rocker "Ill Placed Trust" as I came in at the finish. Unlike New York and Vermont, I felt fine at the finish and was not woozy at all, just sore. I got my medal, posed for a finisher's photo and then met up with JP, Mary Beth and Elliot. I made a few calls and found out that Jon had finished in 2:59 (wow!), Kerry finished in 3:22 and Rick finished in 3:31. My buddy Bob finished his first marathon in 3:58, which is awesome.

We went back to the hotel so I could shower and get changed, and then we went with Rick out to lunch at a nearby Bennigan's so we could get the burgers and beer we'd been craving. Jon and Kerry met us there. JP and family took off afterwards and the rest of us headed back to relax for a few hours before going to the post-race party at Millennium Park. There were two party tents going; one was already full by the time we got there, so went to the quieter one with a jazz band and free Michelob Ultra (yecch--but we drank it anyway). Bob joined us there and we hung out for a while before going out for some deep dish pizza. By the time we got our food, we had already eaten bread sticks and had little room for the massive, heart-attack inducing slabs of pizza we had ordered (a large and a medium). We probably ate about half the pizza before we all were just full, so we ditched the rest and headed back to our hotels. Triumphant, but stuffed.

Today
My legs are feeling pretty sore, but they're not that bad. My flight made it back without a hitch and Deb and the girls picked me up. It's good to be home. As fired up as I am about my race, I'm still thinking that I'm only going to do one marathon next year instead of two. I just want to reduce the wear and tear on my body. I also want to do smaller races and try to run faster times in those, as well as get back to playing hockey.

Well, that's plenty for now. Time to drag my weary carcass to bed.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Borrow Your Cape

It's finally here. Race weekend. I'm flying to Chicago tomorrow for the marathon on Sunday. I've been watching the weather forecasts all week and they all seem to be predicting temps in the mid-40s with possible rain or even snow. I hope it's snow or nothing; running in the rain and raw temps for four hours would not be fun. I'm still planning to run in a long sleeve shirt and shorts, although I'm bringing pants in case it gets really cold.

I'm feeling pretty good. My cold has diminished instead of gotten worse. Went for a five-miler today with Rick, who's also running Chicago. I'll meet up with him, Jon and Kerry--my compadres on the Road Warriors relay team from August--on Saturday. My buddy Bob is also running; this is his first marathon. After I get into town tomorrow, I'm driving to Peoria to hang out at my brother's house for the night. Then Saturday it's back to Chicago to check into my hotel and go to the race expo. And Sunday is the race. Wish me luck.

More beans, please:
  • I was getting ambitious and thinking I'd do another podcast this week before I left, but I quickly realized that was a dumb idea. Why stress out any more than I have to? I've got some ideas already and hope to get it done Monday night after I get back.
  • I like Coke and all, but fried Coke nuggets just sounds nasty.
  • Stings says today's rock music is boring. Well, if anyone's an authority on boring, it's senor Sumner. Of course, the Onion had him pegged years ago (thanks to Idolator for the tip).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

#10

Episode 10 of Completely Conspicuous is available here (right click and save as). Here are the show notes:

Topics:

  • Space travel
  • Menudo's back
  • Tower Records, R.I.P.
  • The Tigers win the pennant!
  • Pinhead of the Week

Music:

  • The Supersuckers - Bubblegum and Beer
  • The Walkmen - Rue the Day

Completely Conspicuous is now available through the iTunes and Yahoo podcast directories.

Find out more about the Supersuckers here. Find out more about the Walkmen here.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling here. And the incidental music used in the show was "Clibopb (Fosco Groove)" by Me and Boris the Bull. Find out more about Me and Boris the Bull here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Let's Just Laugh

Just shaking my head after the Leafs blew a 6-3 lead against NJ to lose 7-6 in a shootout. Ugh. Anyhoo, we enjoyed a nice 75-degree day today while in Chicago, they got snow. I suspect it won't be around when I get to Chi-town next Friday. Got in a nice 6-miler at lunch. I just have a 10-miler on Sunday, and a couple of short runs next week and then the marathon.

Drop the leash:
  • The whole Cory Lidle plane crash thing yesterday was nuts. I was listening to Boston sports talk station WEEI when the show hosts mentioned a plane had crashed into a building in NYC and it was unclear whether it was terrorism. The first thing I thought of was the 15-year-old kid who crashed a plane into a 28-story building in Tampa back in January 2002; everybody was freaked out about it being a possible terrorist act, but it ended up just being a stupid kid. It's not clear what happened with Lidle yesterday, but he loved flying and had his license, so obviously something mechanical went wrong with the plane. How would you like to be the lady whose condo the plane crashed into? Damn. Lidle was a journeyman pitcher; he pitched for the Jays back in 2003. The Lidle accident brings back bad memories for older Yankees fans, who remember Thurman Munson's tragic death in 1979 after the Cessna he was piloting crashed. Meanwhile, guys like Alex Kovalev of the Canadiens have no plans to stop flying.
  • Sony still trying to fight the iPod, this time with a new version of the Walkman that promises better sound quality. Nothing like being five years late to the party. Get in line behind the Microsoft Zune, which comes out November 14. I'm not convinced any competing device will truly be an iPod killer, at least not yet.
  • Someday I would love to enter a team in the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, held in Minnesota in January. It totally looks like a blast. Must be ridiculously cold, but still. Pond hockey's the best.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Different World

Long weekends...gotta love 'em! Just hanging out in the house with Lily; Deb and Hannah went out to lunch. It's a pretty nice day out, sunny with temps in the mid-70s. No big plans today. I just ran a few errands this morning and went to the gym. I'm going to grill up some chicken in a little while and enjoy some Sam Adams Octoberfest.

Yesterday, I got out on the road early and did 15 miles. It was 40 degrees when I started; nice running weather. I felt good. The back's not bothering me at all, so that's a good sign two weeks from race day.

Friday night, I went to the Iron Maiden show at BU's Agganis Arena. I met my buddy Gary and my coworker Paul and his girlfriend there. We fell into the contingent of old-school Maiden fans who thought it'd be fun to see them live again. I saw them back in '88 and '91, so it has definitely been a while. Maiden was one of my favorite bands in high school during my teenage metalhead years. By the time I had graduated from college, I didn't listen to much metal. I had grown more interested in so-called alternative rock. I guess in the last few years I've embraced some of that old stuff I used to listen to, so Paul and I thought it'd be fun to see Maiden when they came around again. They actually came through the Tweeter Center last year with the Ozzfest, playing songs from their first four albums to promote their DVD Early Days, which is excellent. I would have loved to have seen that show, except for the Ozzfest thing, which I had no interest in. So we waited until they released their new album A Matter of Life and Death last month; it debuted at number 9 on the Billboard album charts, the best position of their career. It's a great album, examining war-related themes, and it really kicks butt. The show Friday was the second on Maiden's new tour and was a little different because they played the entire album from start to finish before playing five other classics. We actually found out the setlist the day before and it was a bit disappointing because they have so many great songs we would have liked to hear. But I understand that they played that oldies-only show last year and will be touring to support a DVD based on albums five through eight next year or the year after, so they wanted to highlight the new stuff. The crowd was pretty receptive, but when they started playing the older stuff, the place really went nuts. The audience itself was pretty interesting--a lot of older guys in their 30s, 40s, and 50s; some guys with their kids; younger fans; and the crazier, costume-wearing ones like the guy with a giant, papier-mache Eddie head. Gary noted that singer Bruce Dickinson, who now has short hair, was wearing a jacket that kinda made him look like Simon LeBon, but he still belted out the songs and ran around like a madman. I would have liked to see a couple more old songs, but it was a great time nonetheless.

Run to the hills:
  • I recorded my latest podcast last night, so check it out. Figured out what was causing the mix problems, so it should sound a lot better now. UPDATE: Apparently, there's a problem with the file and folks, including me, haven't been able to download it. I am consulting with the good folks at Podshow to find out what the dealio, so I will let you know when I find out anything. UPDATE OF UPDATE: Apparently there was an eff-up with Podshow's domain name being allowed to expire, so all Podshow podcasts were unavailable Sunday and Monday. But all is working now. The end.
  • Some folks have been printing up t-shirts hyping a Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert presidential ticket in 2008. Stewart downplayed it, and really, who would make fun of the White House if he was in there?
  • CBGB's is closing after 33 years as a historic punk venue in NYC. Patti Smith is playing the final show next Sunday night. Owner Hilly Kristal may be moving the club to Vegas, of all places.
  • I was shocked to see the Detroit Tigers upset the Yankees over the weekend. Never saw that coming. Damn. So...go Tigers!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Stuck Between Stations

I admit it, I've been slacking off. No excuses.

So I'm nearly two weeks away from the Chicago Marathon. My back's doing a lot better than it was a few weekends ago, but I'm still a little sore. I was especially bummed last Sunday when my planned 20-mile run didn't happen because it was just pouring out. I made it about a mile out when the skies opened up and I was soaked to the bone. Unfortunately, I had a tight window to run in and of course, three hours later, the sun came out. I got up early on Monday morning and managed to get 12 in before work, which is better than nothing, I guess. My training plan had me doing four 20-milers, but I've only done one: one of the weeks I was in Florida and only did 10, another week was the day I hurt my back and I did 18, and last week I did 12. I'm planning to do 15 this weekend just to get another quality long run in.

Gimme a C, a bouncy C:
  • Hockey's back! We had our fantasy hockey draft Sunday night. I had to phone in my picks for the first 45 minutes or so, but I think I've got a decent squad. The first games of the season were last night, and the Leafs were terrible, losing 4-1 to Ottawa. Tonight was the second in the home-and-home series between the two teams, and of course, Toronto absolutely shellacked the Sens 6-0. It was like night and day. The Leafs have a lot of rookies in the lineup this year, so things will be interesting. Hopefully they'll gain some confidence from tonight's game.
  • The Jays managed to finish second in the AL East, a game ahead of the Red Sox. It's the first time since Toronto's back to back World Series wins in '92 and '93 that they've finished higher than third. The Yankees look scary in the playoffs with that 1-9 murderers' row they've got (although they lost today), but I'm going to root for the Mets because Carlos Delgado's playing for them. In his first playoff game ever last night, he went 4-5 with a homer.
  • What a strange turn of events in Congress with the whole Mark Foley page scandal. A similar scandal took place 23 years ago, when one of the parties involved was a congressman from Massachusetts. I'd like to say it's shocking, but it's really not. Just sad.
  • Lance Armstrong's gearing up to run the New York Marathon. He hasn't been doing a lot of long runs, but I have a feeling he'll do fine.
  • Usually, I'm suspicious of massive hype about bands. The new Hold Steady album, Boys and Girls in America, has been getting serious praise from all comers (Pitchfork, the NY Times, et al). But damn if it isn't an amazing piece of work. Frontman Craig Finn continues his boozy chronicling of partying youth, backed by a younger version of the E Street Band. I also was psyched to get Sloan's Never Hear the End of It in the mail this week; it's a tremendous, 30-song power pop opus that features contributions from all four band songwriters. It's a crime that these guys don't even have a record deal in the U.S. right now.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Big Day Coming

Greetings from New Jersey. We're down here for the weekend and I was so busy this week I didn't get a chance to post anything.

On Thursday, I joined OJ, Doobs, and my friend Rob and his peeps at the Yo La Tengo show at Avalon. All manner of nerds and nerdettes were in attendance. YLT played two hours full of space-rock jams, tight pop ditties, and feedback-drenched Neil Young covers. Good schtuff.

Last night, I cranked out the latest episode of Completely Conspicuous. OJ noted that the music was down lower in the mix than my yakimafying, so I'll need to do some tinkering next week to even that stuff out. At least I didn't start hacking uncontrollably this time.

The NHL season is nearly upon us, with games kicking off next Tuesday. I've got my fantasy hockey draft tomorrow night; hopefully we'll get back in time. Otherwise, I'll be phoning in my first pick. In the meantime, I'm finally doing my research this weekend. As for the Leafs, looks like it's going to be a long year. Every preseason prediction I've seen has them missing the playoffs, and it's hard to argue. Same as it ever was.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Dab'll Do Ya

Hey there. I'm still dealing with a cranky back, although it seems to get a little better every day. I'm going to try and get out and do maybe five miles at some point today. I'll try and get back to a normal running schedule next week. The marathon is exactly a month away.

We all live in a yellow submarine:
  • Finished episode 7 of Completely Conspicuous last night. It should sound better, because I picked up a better microphone and a mixer (just Radio Shack's lowest end stuff, but better than what I was previously using, which was a $10 PC mike). Also, OJ graciously contributed an instrumental he recorded a few years back for use as the show's new opening and closing themes; it's pretty cool. Also, at the 22-minute mark, check out the coughing fit. I thought I had edited it out, but after I finished the show, I listened again and discovered it was still there and by that point, I didn't feel like redoing the last two minutes. So there you have it. Nothing but the best.
  • South Park's celebrating its 10th anniversary. Hard to believe. I haven't watched it since the second or third season, but I may have to revisit it.
  • Congrats to David Ball, the amazing wide receiver for UNH's football team who yesterday tied Jerry Rice's 1-AA record for career touchdown receptions. UNH played its third game of the season yesterday (a 56-14 shellacking of Dartmouth), so he's got plenty of time to break the record. And UNH is ranked no. 1 in the nation in 1-AA, so hopefully they can keep that going as well.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Not Quite Done

Another year, another birthday. Not much to say about it, really. I think the girls were more excited about my cake than I was; it was good cake, though. My sore back had me feeling a lot older than 39 earlier this week, but it's a lot better now. I still haven't worked out this week, but I plan on getting out and playing a little street hockey at lunch tomorrow. Nothing too strenuous. I'll try and get out for a couple of runs this weekend.

Take me to the bridge:
  • Made a run to Newbury Comics tonight, but they didn't have the new Sloan. Looks like I'll have to get it from Canada. Bummer.
  • As if the Jays' season wasn't disappointing enough, ace Roy Halladay had to shut it down for the season after leaving last night's game early with a right forearm strain. He was a contender for the Cy Young a month ago, but wasn't able to get his 17th win because of injury and bullpen failure. The Jays still have a shot at finishing second ahead of the Red Sox, but it's small consolation for yet another lost season.
  • Hey, I'm no fan of George W., but Hugo Chavez is just plain nuts.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fading Into Obscurity

It's pouring like a mofo out. Given the great weather we've had lately, I can deal.

I am kind of bummed this week. I was out for a long run Sunday morning and about 30 minutes in, I felt my lower back tighten up. I walked for a little bit and was able to keep going, hoping it would pass, but it never did. Three days later, it's still pretty sore. It hurts when I get up from a seated position, or bend over to pick something up. I got a massage today and the therapist said it was likely caused by the tightness in my hamstrings and quads from all the running. So I haven't been able to work out the last few days, which drives me nuts. Hopefully I'll feel okay to run by the weekend.

Dog will hunt:
  • Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Fisher-Price has rolled out a new Elmo stuffed toy that laughs so hard, he rolls around on the floor, slaps his knee and pounds his fists on the floor. This thing was so under wraps only 50 people had seen before it was unveiled today. And get this: it's called the T.M.X. Elmo, as in Tickle Me Extreme. I shit you not.
  • Apparently, they can transplant just about anything these days.
  • The new Sloan album, Never Hear the End of It, is out today in Canada, but the band doesn't have a U.S. deal in place yet. I'm hoping Newbury Comics will have it, otherwise I'll have to order it through a Canadian retailer.
  • So the band on CBS' Rock Star: Supernova reality show found out it had to change its name because another band had been using it since the early '90s. So what did they come up with? Probably the least original moniker they could think of.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Brighter Than a Thousand Suns

Hey there, I remember you guys. Agh. Sorry it's been so long. Busy week. This morning, I joined my running club to help run a 30k race; got out there at 6:30 a.m. and didn't get home until 1. It ended up being a pretty hot day. Temps got up close to 80. I was just doing stuff like putting up signs and directing runners along the route. Tomorrow, I have to get up early and get 20 miles in. Five weeks to the marathon.

Exactamundo, Mrs. C:
  • Just posted the latest episode of Completely Conspicuous for your listening pleasure. I haven't gotten a ton of feedback, but I know that somebody's listening, so thanks for that.
  • So it turns out that the nutjob who shot up a Montreal college, killing one person and injuring others before killing himself, was of Indian descent. Much is being made of his interest in Goth culture and his membership in an online community called VampireFreaks.com, but what struck me as strange were the sentiments he expressed--about jocks oppressing others, being angry at the world, playing Columbine video games. The guy was 25, and yet if you didn't know better, it seemed like he was really worked up over high school issues. Once you hit that age, you've hopefully worked out a lot of those issues and moved on to other crap like your career and finding your soulmate and paying your bills.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Leftover Life

So it has been five years since 9/11. There's been a lot of hype about this particular anniversary, with TV movies and news specials and memorials, but I've steered clear of most of it. Not because the date doesn't mean anything to me, but rather I think it means more if I don't get caught up in the clatter. It's enough to me to remember the uncertainty of that day, not knowing what the hell was going on, thinking about Deb being pregnant with our first child and fearful of what the future would hold. Five years later, we've got two girls and are a little older and wiser. The specter of terrorism is definitely more of a presence than it was before 9/11. Reading about the seemingly unending strife in the Middle East has a numbing effect, which was reflected by respondents to a Boston Globe poll; while people expect another terrorist attack on the U.S., few have taken precautions. And it's easy, and comforting, to get distracted by more immediate concerns like work, school, family, sports, etc. But ultimately, I don't think anyone has forgotten what happened that day, nor will they.

Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the War Room!:

  • We watched the movie Brick the other night. Holy crap, was that good. Essentially, it's a film noir set in a modern-day high school, right down to the '40s-era snappy patter. Some of the lingo is difficult to pick up at first, so you really have to pay attention. I discovered that director/writer Rian Johnson posted the script on his Internet home page, so I went back and read it and it clarified a lot of the stuff I missed. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who found fame as that little kid with the long hair on Third Rock from the Sun) and Lukas Haas (the Amish kid in Witness). It's a tale of murder, lost love, drugs and features a troubled protagonist. Really great stuff.
  • Looks like it's time to update the E! True Hollywood Story of Dana Plato, what with her son filing a wrongful death suit seven years after she OD'd on painkillers.
  • Trying to pump a little excitement into your long, boring commute? Be careful, or you'll end up like this guy. Of course, you'd stay awake if you drove past this on your way to work. He couldn't believe he ate the whole thing.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Autumn Music

Still trying to wake up on a quiet Saturday morning. Luckily, my head cold seems to be getting better. I'm going to head out for a 15-miler in a little while. Six weeks to go until the marathon. I just booked my flight to Chicago and a rental car so I can visit my brother while I'm out there; he's in Peoria, about 2.5 hours from Chi-town.

Speaking of trips, it looked like I was going to Anaheim for a work conference in December, but things have changed and I might actually be going to New Orleans instead. Hopefully that will work out and I'll get to see what the Big Easy looks like a year post-Katrina; from what I hear, the French Quarter is getting back to normal, minus a lot of the visitors. I haven't been to New Orleans since 1998, so it should be interesting.

A little dab'll do ya:
  • I finished the fifth episode of Completely Conspicuous last night. This week, I discuss the Army's new take on prisoner interrogation, the improved quality of TV, music recommendation engines, why the NFL is the best sports league, and the Pinhead of the Week. Thanks to everyone who's listened to the show so far. I've been having fun doing it.
  • Well, the Senate released a report yesterday that confirms that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with al Qaeda before 9/11, which Dubya had repeatedly contended was our main reason for invading Iraq. Nice.
  • Here's a shocker: Arnold Schwarzenegger said something stupid. The real surprise is that he doesn't do stuff like this more often.
  • A judge ordered a Malaysian restaurant called McCurry to change its name to avoid confusion with McDonald's. Yeah, McD's has its new line of Crispy Tandoori Chicken sandwiches coming out, so they don't want to mess with that.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Old September Blues

It's good to be back home. Florida was hot and sticky, as expected, but I'd say it was a successful trip. The girls were great on both flights, although Lily was getting antsy on the way back. The wedding went off without a hitch, although it didn't look that way at first. Jen and Easton had their wedding at an art gallery in St. Augustine, which was pretty cool, but it was a busy weekend and the gallery doublebooked a private art exhibition at the same time as the ceremony. Hannah and Lily were flower girls and it looked like Lily wasn't in the mood to cooperate, but when it was time for them to walk down the aisle, she was great. Of course, she conked out during the reception and ended up snoozing in a corner for a few hours, but that's okay. On Sunday morning, we drove back down to Orlando and surprised the girls with a trip to Disney World (although Hannah guessed it about halfway there). Disney is a gigantic vending machine with mouse ears, but the girls had a blast. They got to meet all the princess characters they love, went on a couple of rides, saw the Downtown Disney parade, ate a lot of junk food, and generally had fun. On the downside for me, I caught a cold and left my favorite fleece on the plane yesterday, so that sucks.

Rock and roll hoochie koo:

  • It was sad to hear of the death of Steve Irwin, the self-styled "Crocodile Hunter" who met his end after taking a stingray barb to the heart. The girls know him from their endless viewings of the Wiggles' Wiggly Safari DVD, which features Irwin in a prominent role. In fact, they were watching it yesterday on the flight back from Orlando. Strangely enough, another featured player in the Wiggles world, Paul Hester, committed suicide last year; he was Chef Paul on the show, but was better known as the drummer of Crowded House and Split Enz.
  • I enjoy the writing of Chuck Klosterman, although I think this stupid "voice of a generation" stuff is a bit much. I've only read one of his four books, but the dude is without a doubt a talented mofo. He's got that snarky pop culture referencing and subreferencing thing that I enjoy going on.
  • The NFL season is starting next weekend, and I have to say, I'm pretty excited. And on the horizon, the NHL is getting ready to open training camps. And the baseball playoffs will start next month, although I'll just be rooting against the Yankees. It's a great time of year.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Everything Wrong is Imaginary

Getting in my last post before we head down to Florida tomorrow for Deb's cousin Jen's wedding. We're flying out at 2:45 p.m. and hoping that Tropical Storm Ernesto moves on before we get there. The girls are excited for their first plane trip; I just hope they're not too excited on the plane. We get back Monday. As a result of the trip, I decided not to try and rush out another podcast this week. I just didn't have enough time to do it justice, so it'll be back next week. If you haven't checked it out yet, I've done four shows so far; see the links to the right for more information.

It was the end of an era last night, when we had our last Tuesday night skate in Concord. We couldn't get enough guys to commit full-time to the fall/winter session, so it ain't happening. I hope to hook on with another crew a little closer to home, but it's still uncertain.

Since I'll be gone for a few days, thought I'd leave you with some YouTube goodness. Here's a classic appearance by David Letterman with Michael Jackson on Jacksons Family special, circa 1977. Wow:



And this is unbelievable. I saw this in the TV lounge of Alexander Hall at UNH on November 14, 1985. Sam Kinison's first appearance on Letterman. At the time, just shocking, hilarious stuff. Check out Dave at the end cracking up. I had never seen anything like Kinison; we were losing it. Of course, he soon appeared in Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield and next thing you know, he's remaking "Wild Thing" and rolling around with Jessica Hahn in the video. Ah, the '80s. But this was Kinison at his best:

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Chips Ahoy

Saturday night's alright for fighting, but I'm just hanging out here at home. Pretty busy day, actually. I got an 18-mile run in this morning and then we headed out to Littleton for a party where my friend Gary's Grateful Dead cover band played. I hadn't heard them before, but they were pretty good. It featured a potluck dinner, but we ended up leaving at 5:30 to avoid having the girls out too late. We had to stop at the mall for me to pick up some new dress shoes for the wedding we're attending next weekend, and by the time we got home, it was time to put the girls to bed.

Last night, I recorded my fourth episode of Completely Conspicuous. You can download it directly here (right click and "save as"), and now you can also subscribe to it through the iTunes podcast directory. I submitted it this week and it's now listed on iTunes, so you can have each episode show up as soon as it's up. I may or may not get one done next week, because we're leaving for Florida on Thursday. I hope to get my act together and record it Wednesday night, but if not, I'll have to wait until the following week.

Might as well jump:

  • Mucho props to my good buddy OJ, the proprietor of the fine Clicky Clicky music blog, for getting featured in the Boston Globe today as part of a profile of Boston music bloggers. He even got his picture in the print version. Of course, the writer called them "audioblogs," which technically should refer to podcasts, and OJ says his quotes in the article weren't entirely accurate. Friggin' media. At any rate, congrats to him for getting a mention and for getting on a panel at the upcoming NEMO conference on MP3 blogmafying. I've written a couple of things for Clicky Clicky and will actually write a guest post next week while OJ's out of town.
  • There's a new study out that claims that taller people are smarter. As a man who stands 5' 7", I'd just like to say that those researchers are stupid cacaheads.
  • I had to crack up at the revelation this week from a woman who said she lived with Osama Bin Laden in the mid-90s that he was obsessed with Whitney Houston and considered putting a hit on Bobby Brown to get him out of the way. Even funnier was her claim that he liked to listen to Van Halen and watch MacGyver. Can you picture Osama standing on a table playing air guitar to "Runnin' With the Devil"? Priceless.