Monday, January 30, 2006

Revenge Wears No Wristwatch

Hey hey, my my. I'm in a good mood. My beloved Maple Leafs snapped an eight-game losing streak tonight, beating the Florida Panthers 4-1. It's been an ugly month for the Leafs, who have seen several players felled by injuries and have generally been playing like crap. Now I just hope they don't lose tomorrow night.

Yesterday, I joined my brother-in-law Steve to catch the Lowell Lock Monsters game with the Leafs' farm club, the Toronto Marlies. It was a good game, with the Monsters coming from behind to knock off the Marlies behind former UNH star Steve Saviano's two goals and an assist. So even though I was rooting for the Marlies to win, it was nice to see a Wildcat do well. It was a 4 p.m. game and the place was full of families with little kids. Steve's got season tickets and this year he moved from behind the penalty box to a section over; unfortunately for us yesterday, it was right in the section where they put a bunch of kids who were there for a birthday party. They all had those annoying Thunder Stix inflatable noisemakers popularized by the Anaheim Angels a few years back when they won the World Series. Holy crap, are those things loud. My ears are still ringing. Gotta love minor league sports.

So over the last four years, I've run five marathons and have espoused a training regimen that focuses on long runs and trying to stay healthy. In three of those marathons, I've finished in 4:10; only once did I break four hours and that was the Maine Marathon in '02 when I made it in 3:59. As I prepare for the Vermont City Marathon in May, I've decided to take a different approach this time around and get a little more serious about improving my time in the hopes of finishing in 3:50. While certain factors such as the weather are out of my control, I'm going to follow the Pfitzinger 18-week/55 miles or less per week training schedule. I picked up Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas and it just so happens that this week is exactly 18 weeks from the marathon, so I'm starting immediately. I already have a base built up so it won't be too much of a jolt to begin right away. It's going to be difficult to fit 7- and 9-mile runs in during the week, but I'm going to do my best to stick with it. A big difference is the emphasis on speed work and different tempos for different runs; I've never done that before. Wish me luck.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da:
  • Yet another thing that makes me feel old: Baby Jessica (y'know, the baby who fell down a well in Texas back in '87) is now married. I'm sure some of you young whippersnappers out there are saying, "Who the hell's Baby Jessica?" You probably also didn't remember that last week was the 20th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. I was a freshman in college then. Positively frightening.
  • Having kids makes you more sensitive to stories like this, but this case out of Brazil where some guys rescued a two-month-old baby girl who had been put in a plastic bag and dumped in a lake is just sickening. The baby's mother, a 27-year-old woman, was arrested and told police she gave the baby to some homeless people because she couldn't take care of her. Smooth move, dumbass.
  • This guy's ready at a moment's notice to do a shot. It's important to be prepared for important social situations.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Stray Talk

Hola, y'all. January's winding down and Valentine's Day hype is starting to fill the airwaves. They should just rename it Hallmark's Day.

Let's roll the clip:
  • I was bummed today to hear about Chris Penn's death. Damn, the guy was only 40. He was overshadowed by his older bro Sean, but had certainly made his mark in movies, especially as Nice Guy Eddie in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs.
  • We're only a few weeks away from the start of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. Of course, I'm looking forward to the hockey tournament, which will once again feature NHL players. I hear some say that it's not the same as when amateurs played, blah blah blah. I say thee nay! These are the best players in the freakin' world. Unlike with basketball, there isn't one dominant team. I, for one, will be loving this stuff. I just hope NBC doesn't bitch up its coverage by showing edited versions of games filled with stupid fluff pieces. Let the game speak for itself. NBC, by the way, began its NHL game of the week coverage a few weeks back; regional games air on Saturdays at 2 p.m. Not surprisingly, ratings were down 11.8% the first week compared to the first week of ABC's coverage in 2004. Not a lot of bells and whistles going on, just solid hockey coverage with familiar faces and voices like Bill Clement, John Davidson, Mike Emrick, et al. If you're hoping things will radically turn around, don't bother: NHL hockey will never be a huge ratings grabber. It's a regional sport. Just accept it and enjoy it. Not that I have much to enjoy right now, with my Leafs sucking some major arse. They've lost six in a row. That Olympic break can't come fast enough.
  • Speaking of the NHL, it came as a bit of a shock when Bryan Berard, a slick-skating offensive defenseman, tested positive for steroids. He was tested last November after being named as a candidate for Team USA in the Olympics, but subsequently was not named to the team. The Columbus d-man claims he ingested the steroid unknowingly in a supplement he took while training for the season. I still don't think steroid use is widespread in hockey; bulking up doesn't help hockey players, especially in the high-speed new NHL. If anything, steroids make you bulky and brittle, two things you certainly don't want to be if you're trying to keep up with the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk.
  • The up-and-down weather we're having has made things interesting for those of us training for marathons. One day I'm running in shorts, the next I'm dodging snowbanks.
  • Hooked up with some of the old Webnoize crew last weekend at the Miracle of Science for a few pops. We had a special guest, one Senor Steve Zisson, who worked with us for a few months and who I've worked with at two other jobs as well. As always, Z-man was looking for info while providing none in return. He's shady, that one. Also, happy birthday this week to OJ, who continues to crank out the quality Junkmedia music blog action even while the rest of the site has ground to a halt. And congrats to my man Big Audio Douglass, who went and got himself married this week.
  • With the Patriots out of it and the Red Sox making more front office moves, we're thankfully spared here in the Boston area from the mind-numbing Super Bowl hype. That said, I'm rooting for the Seahawks. They were the first NFL team I ever supported, stemming from my two years living in Washington state.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I Against I

So...

I was all set to post something last Thursday, didn't, and the next thing you know, it's a week later. We've had some crazy temperature swings, from sunny and mid-50s late last week to bone-chillingly cold on Sunday and Monday (try temps in the teens with wind chills below zero) and back into the 50s and monsoony today. Somewhere a polar bear is getting a tan.

Flibbidy floo:
  • Much depression here in New England after the Patriots bowed out to Denver in the second round of the NFL playoffs Saturday. So much for the threepeat. Five turnovers, including three fumbles and a killer interception, did the Pats in. And then the Colts, so heavily favored to win it all, get knocked off by the Steelers when Mike Vanderjagoff missed a game-tying field goal by a couple of car lengths. I'm still trying to figure out who I'll root for the rest of the way. Maybe the Seahawks, since I lived out that way for a few years and rooted for them in the early '80s.
  • So does anyone care about the World Baseball Classic? You know, that big tournament scheduled for early March before the MLB season starts. I'm finding it difficult to get very excited about it. Even though I'm a fan of the World Cup and the Olympic hockey tournament, this thing just doesn't have much 'zazz. Normally, early March is when players are half-assing it in exhibition games in Florida and Arizona; we're supposed to believe they'll be in midseason form in a manufactured tournament? Remains to be seen. To really give it a global feel, organizers are really relaxing the eligibility requirements, so we're seeing guys like Mike Piazza and Frank Catalanotto on the Italian roster even though they've never lived in Italy before. Shea Hillenbrand of the Jays is on the Netherlands' roster, as is Andruw Jones of the Braves (he was born in Dutch territory Curacao). Hey, maybe I can get in on the action by joining the Indian team.
  • And I wonder if they're going to have an Indian hockey team in the Olympics...we could get me, my brother, NHLer Manny Malhotra, AHLer Ajay Baines, and retired pro player Robin Bawa to play, too. We'd get killed, but we'd get cool uniforms and the right to party in the Olympic Village. I've been skating once a week; popped in five goals last night. I'd better make some calls.
  • Speaking of hockey, it was nice to see Mike Milbury finally get the boot as Islanders GM/insane dictator. Technically, he plans to step down once a replacement is found; he managed to land a job working for Islanders owner Charles Wang's sports properties. But as any Islanders fan will tell you, Milbury spent the last nine years making one disastrous move after another. He fired eight coaches in that span, traded an all-star team's worth of players (Roberto Luongo, the first-round pick that became Jason Spezza, Bryan McCabe, Todd Bertuzzi, Zdeno Chara, Bryan Berard, Olli Jokinen, and many more). They've made the playoffs the last few seasons, but have been awful this year and never really contended during the entire Milbury era. So how did he keep his job? I can only surmise that he has photos of Wang in a compromising position.
  • One last hockey item: The New York Rangers honored Mark Messier last week by retiring his number with a lavish ceremony that featured most of the members of the 1994 Cup-winning team and many tears from the man who was one of the toughest players ever. In my opinion, in his prime, Messier was the greatest example of a complete hockey player. While Gretzky was the best player, Messier combined offense, toughness and leadership in one imposing package. He won four Cups on the Oilers with Gretzky, one more after Gretzky was traded, and then came to New York to end the Rangers' 54-year Cup drought. For that, he is beloved in NYC. I'm not an emotional guy, and I'm not a Rangers fan, but I have to admit I got a little verklempt while watching the ceremony.
  • The great series 24 kicked off its fifth season with a bang on Sunday and Monday by airing two episodes each night. We've been watching it since the first season and man, it's good TV. Pretty preposterous at times, but who cares? If I want reality, I can watch C-Span. Give me Jack Bauer kicking terrorist arse any day.
  • Embattled New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin stepped in it again on MLK Day when he made a Pat Robertson-esque speech talking about how God must be mad at black people, what with all the hurricanes and the devastation and whatnot. But he also remarked, "It´s time for us to rebuild New Orleans — the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans." Nagin caught some heat for that, but come on, peoples: Haven't you ever heard the classic P-Funk tune "Chocolate City"? My dogg Nagin is just feeling the funk, y'all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Are You on My Side

Hello from Global Warming Central. I'm not complaining, but there's just something strange about 50-degree January temps in New England. Tomorrow, it's supposed to get up in the mid-50s. Things are expected to get back down in the 20s by Sunday, but still, this is wack.

Since last I blogged, Deb and I went to my company holiday party (which always happens in January), which was fun; perhaps a little too fun. Let's just say neither of us was feeling particularly perky last Saturday. On Sunday, we took Hannah to Gloucester for her first time on skates; essentially, I just held her up while we took some spins around a crowded rink. She had fun, but my lower back was killing me. In fact, it still is. But it was worth it to see her face.

My back woes may have been caused in part because I ran 11 miles right before we went to the rink. I was supposed to run nine, but didn't realize until I was two-thirds of the way through the run that I had miscalculated. At least it was nice out.

Mix and match:
  • Here, kitty kitty. Here...whoa. It's not too often you see a cycloptic kitten. That's a good thing.
  • So you're prepared and you back up all your data and photos and other crap on CDs. And then this guy comes along to tell you you're an idiot. Thanks, pal.
  • What's the difference between a memoir and fiction based on real-life events? This guy's finding out the hard way. I expect he's praying to Oprah for forgiveness.
  • It's not easy to be a veteran in the "new" NHL these days. There have been big-name retirements (Messier, Francis, Damphousse, Stevens, Hull), lackluster play (Roenick, Robitaille, and hell, even Mario Lemieux), and in the last week, both Alex Mogilny of the Devils and Dave Andreychuk of the Lightning were waived by their respective teams. Mogilny was more of a salary cap move and is expected to play in the AHL, but Andreychuk, the captain of the defending Stanley Cup champs, cleared waivers and will likely retire. Andreychuk, 42, who has 640 goals and more than 1,330 points in his 23-year career, has nothing to be ashamed about. One of the premier power-play goal scorers, he had a couple of memorable years with the Leafs in the mid-90s, including back-to-back 50-goal seasons. Well done, Dave.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

It's All Gonna Break

Happy 2006. As we wait with bated breath for VH1 to roll out "I Love the Early '00s"--it's never too soon to get all nostalgic about crap that just happened-- let's talk resolutions. I never get too profound with mine, and often they're pretty similar year after year. A constant one is learning to play my guitar again; I've been making that resolution for umpteen years now. I'll get into it for a little while every year, break out all the guitar books and the tuner, and start practicing chords and scales and stuff on my sweet Gibson L6S while watching TV; then gradually, things will come up and eventually I stop playing altogether. It's especially difficult to find time now that I have kids, but I always found something else to do when I didn't have kids, too. Anyhoo, I guess the guitar is pretty rare; it was endorsed by Carlos Santana in the mid-70s but wasn't produced for very long. My mom picked up this one for me as a Christmas or birthday gift in 1984 from Daddy's Junky Music in New Hampshire; she got it for $250. I was taking guitar lessons back then, but they only last a year or two; my instructor's husband died in a horrible DWI accident right down the road from my house and she just wasn't into it after that. I had an acoustic, too, which I stupidly sold when I graduated from college. At any rate, my eternal hope is to start playing again and actually get decent at it. Maybe this is the year.

I also want to run two marathons this year, and make some progress on some nonwork-related writing projects I've been working on sporadically. It's all about time management, something I can always do better with.

Wiggity wiggity:
  • So David Lee Roth made his debut this week as Howard Stern's replacement in several markets, including New York and Boston, and received mostly negative reviews. I've listened in to bits and pieces and have to say, I like his show. He's nothing like Stern. He's hammy, off the cuff, and he laughs at his own jokes constantly. But I like his schtick; I always have. A big part of Stern's success was the cast of characters he surrounded himself with; that's an area DLR will have to work on. But I've found him generally interesting.
  • Stern makes his debut on Sirius satellite radio next Monday. I won't be listening, not because I don't like him but because I'm not a Stern fanatic like many others. And while I think Sirius and XM have cool products, I'm not in the car enough to make paying a monthly fee worthwile. But I did notice while I was working out this week that my gym has now got Sirius. This morning, the 90s hard rock channel was on, which was kind of funny since the majority of folks working out at the Beverly Y in the early morning hours are over the age of 50. I had to crack up when I heard Soundgarden's "Sealth," which is about at heavy a song as you'll ever hear on the radio at 7:30 a.m. Those old geezers must have wondered what the hell was going on. Several years ago, I was working out on a quiet Sunday afternoon and the kid working had WBCN on. After Danzig's "Mother" played, an older guy I knew came up to me, visibly upset and asked, "What the hell is this crap? It sucks! It sucks!" Guess he wasn't a Misfits fan.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is in dire straits after suffering a massive stroke, so leave it to our favorite wacko TV evangelist to say something stupid. No doubt he said it while making a serious prayer face like this.
  • A few weeks ago, the Leafs were in rough shape after getting whupped again by the Senators by an 8-2 score. Things didn't look like they could get much worse. Since then, they've won seven of their last eight games, including their last six straight. And in classic Leaf fashion of the last several years, they've done it with much of their lineup injured (Eric Lindros, Jason Allison, and Nik Antropov have all missed games). They're out west for a tough road trip against Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver, so they're unlikely to keep the streak going. But you never know...