Sunday, April 30, 2006

Here Comes a Regular

Getting ready for a little May action. Deb and I are kicking the month off by attending the Sox-Yankees game tomorrow night, which marks Johnny Damon's return to Fenway. Should be fun, albeit chilly. Scored those tix through the Sox' lottery.

Hannah turned 4 yesterday. She was hoping for another cake, but she already had plenty of cake all week from her party last weekend, so we settled for taking her out to dinner at Bertucci's. Four years ago, we were at the hospital with her. Amazing how quickly time goes by.

Holla:
  • Congrats to my bro-in-law Matt, who ran the New Jersey Marathon today. He didn't run it as fast as he would have liked, but he did it and that's all that matters.
  • Less than a month to my marathon in Burlington. I ran 18 today and felt good; that was the longest run I had completed before my Achilles started acting up in March, so it's nice to get back to that point. My new shoes felt good and it was a warm but breezy run.
  • As always, had a great time hangin' with the Webnoizers Friday at Redbones. My only disappointment came at the portion sizes, which I swear were smaller than in past visits. I ordered the Texas beef ribs and it just seemed that I could have eaten another plateful. Either they're cutting back on their portion sizes, or I received a small order instead of the regular I had requested. Just as well, I suppose, but dammit, I go to Redbones to eat like a pig.
  • Deb and I watched Cameron Crowe's latest flick, Elizabethtown, last night. It was pretty much universally panned when it came out last year, but I figured I'd give it a shot because I've always enjoyed Crowe's films. And you know what? I liked it. It wasn't on a par with some of his classics like Almost Famous, Say Anything or Singles, but it was good. It was slow-moving and meandered somewhat, but I dug it. Great soundtrack, good performances, and just a nice journey to go on. If you're looking for 'splosions or deep sentiments, look elsewhere. But if you want to see a good but flawed movie about family and loss and music and characters, check this out.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Aftermath USA

How's it goin', eh? Things are good on this end of the light box. We had Hannah's 4th birthday bash last Saturday. As with Lily's party last month, Deb and her sis-in-law Tricia masterminded another activity-packed event for the kiddies. There was a gardening theme, so the kids painted flower pots and later planted seeds in them. Tricia made another awesome cake, and I once again managed to save my cojones from serious injury during the smashing of the pinata. Best of all, Hannah had a blast. Her actual birthday is this Saturday, which should prove a little less chaotic.

The running's still going well, knock on noggin. I got a 15.5-mile run in on Sunday, and I'm looking to do 18 this weekend and 20 the next before tapering down my mileage before my marathon on May 28. And as always seems to happen during marathon training, my period of extreme self-doubt is replaced by a renewed desire to do more marathons: I just signed up for the Chicago Marathon in October. Looks like there's going to be a small crew of us from work flying out to the Windy City, so that should be a lot of fun.

Gabba gabba hey:
  • Looking forward to another Redbones get-together with my former Webnoize cohorts this Friday. Should be a gorgetastic time.
  • The NHL playoffs are off to a great start, with some exciting overtime games proving once again that the OT beats a shootout any day of the week. And who would have thought that Edmonton would be leading Detroit (who I pegged as the eventual Stanley Cup champ) 2-1? I have to admit that OLN has done a good job with its playoff coverage, offering doubleheaders (including picking up the CBC's coverage of late games). Speaking of OLN, the network announced this week that it's changing its name from Outdoor Life Network to Versus in September, to reflect its new emphasis on sports that are not played outdoors. Sounds kinda goofy to me, but so does OLN.
  • I don't know which media circus I care about less, the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes baby-havin' thing or the Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie baby-havin' thing. Just sayin', is all.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

End of the Line

The power struggle in Maple Leafland ended quickly today with the firing of Leafs coach Pat Quinn. Not a surprise, considering Quinn and GM John Ferguson Jr. had been at odds since JFJ was hired back in '03. When the Leafs didn't make the playoffs for the first since Quinn took over in 1998, it was only a matter of time to see who would win the favor of Leafs ownership. Apparently, Ferguson won and Quinn, the fourth-winningest coach in NHL history, is gone. Of course, by all rights Fergie should be shown the door after the pitiful display he put on last offseason: instead of taking advantage of the salary cap to sign good, young talent for the new NHL, he went and traded for or signed old, cheap, and often-injured players: Eric Lindros, Jason Allison, Alexander Khavanov, Jeff O'Neill. This was in addition to re-signing aging goon Tie Domi, and re-signing goalie Ed Belfour (in his 40s and with a chronically bad back) before the lockout. One stupid move after another that blew up when each of those players ended up being too slow for the faster-paced game and then each got hurt as the season wore on. By the end of the season, the Leafs had replaced all but Domi with farmhands from their AHL affiliate. The coach of said affiliate, former Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice, is the odds-on favorite to replace Quinn. Hopefully, Ferguson will make some wiser choices this offseason.

Do the humpty dance:
  • Alas, poor David Lee Roth, we hardly knew ye...as a radio host, anyway. CBS has apparently kicked the former Van Halen frontman to the proverbial curb from his job as Howard Stern's replacement. DLR's replacements? None other than those Stern wannabes Opie and Anthony, currently toiling at XM Satellite Radio. XM will reportedly syndicate the O&A show to several major stations currently airing Roth's show. This would effectively end the terrestrial radio banishment that CBS gave the duo in 2002 when they aired listeners having sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC. My recommendation to Diamond Dave: Go to Vegas and start up a permanent lounge review. Dude, you're perfect for it, you'd have fun, and you'd make tons of cash. Might as well jump.
  • In these days of managed care, who says doctors don't make house calls anymore? Oh. Nevermind.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Iron Woman

Hey, all y'all. So first off, I must throw some serious props in the direction of my wife, who finished her first official Boston Marathon on Monday (second overall, when you count her bandito run in '98). The weather was great (50s and cloudy) for running a marathon, but Deb had to battle through some serious stomach issues that hit around mile 10. She could have bailed, but she was determined to finish. I was waiting for her at the 16.8-mile mark, near the Woodland T stop in Newton, just before the turn onto the dreaded hills. She had called me from mile 10 and said she didn't feel good, but she kept going. I got a text message that she had passed the halfway mark, so I figured she was probably 45 minutes away or so. Deb was walking with two other people when she came up the hill to where I was waiting; by this time, she had some calf pain as well. My original plan was to see her there and then jump on the T and meet her again at the top of Heartbreak Hill, and then see her at the finish. Then I decided to walk with her to the top of the hills and then take the subway to the finish. After a few minutes, I figured I might as well stick with her to the end. So there I was in my jeans and carrying a backpack, finishing the Boston Marathon. A lot of our friends were concerned because Deb's times weren't tracked after the 25k checkpoint, but she got it done. After we made the final turn onto Boylston Street, we ran the last half-mile to the finish line and got in at a little after 7 p.m. At first, it looked like she wouldn't get a medal, but we found out we had to walk almost another mile down the street. Deb was pretty emotional because it certainly wasn't how she had planned it, but she was also proud that she stuck it out. I know I was pretty damn proud, too.

Of course, it's two days later and I'm still sore. Yeesh. Those hills are brutal, even when you walk them. It didn't help that I had run 6 miles Saturday and 12 on Sunday, I suppose.

Hot tamale:
  • Well, the Leafs beat Ottawa Saturday night and depended on the Carolina Hurricanes to beat Tampa Bay and keep their playoff dreams alive. The game went to OT and was just about to go to a shootout when with 10 seconds left, TB's Martin St. Louis raced in on a breakaway and scored a ridiculously nice goal to win it and send the Leafs packing for the summer. Oh well, it was a good run. Serves them right for sleeping through January and February. The playoffs start on Friday, with some pretty good matchups: Ottawa vs. TB; Carolina vs. Montreal; Rangers vs. Devils; Flyers vs. Sabres; Red Wings vs. Oilers; Colorado vs. Dallas; Calgary vs. Anaheim; and the red-hot San Jose Sharks vs. Nashville. I'm picking the Wings to take it all, but I hope I'm wrong. I'd love to see Joe Thornton and the Sharks run the table.
  • What's worse than coming down with a nasty case of the scurvy? How about a little bout of bubonic plague?
  • If you had a 103-inch TV, would you ever leave the house? Would you be able to leave the house?
  • Gas prices are on the rise again, with some estimates predicting they'll hit $3 a gallon by the end of the year. It's times like these I wish I had a Flintstones car.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Don't Speak (I Came to Make a BANG!)

Ugh, it has been another busy week. Lots of stuff on my plate at work, plus we went to the Sox-Jays game Wednesday night. I'm pleased to say after the Jays lost a tough one to Josh Beckett and the Sox on Tuesday, they bounced back nicely and laid the smack down on Boston the next two games. Fenway Park looks incredible; they took out the glass in front of the .406 Club behind home plate and added even more seats. Every year, they fix that place up a little more. Deb and I were lucky to have a fairly nice night (around 60 degrees) for mid-April, too. Sometimes those early season games can be miserably cold.

Deb's getting psyched to run the Boston Marathon Monday. She feels pretty good and is hoping the weather will be a little on the cool side this year. Congrats to Deb on blowing away her revised fundraising goal of $3,500 for the Mass Adoption Resource Exchange, and thanks to everyone who contributed to the cause. Very impressive. I'll be out there hoping to see her at a couple of different points on the marathon course. This will be the first time I've tried to do it. When she ran in '98, I was at the Sox game with my brother and then saw her finishing afterward. Wish her luck...

Rocka rolla:
  • After many delays, Mission of Burma's singles subscription series arrived in my mailbox Monday. The original plan was for subscribers to receive a single a week (in CD and vinyl formats) for eight weeks from Burma's upcoming The Obliterati album, but unfortunately technical delays led to a whole lot of nothing for a few months. Check out Clicky Clicky's fine coverage. But it was worth the wait, because the singles (comprising eight of the 14 songs on the new album, out in May) are very impressive. You can hear a song or two at the band's new Obliterati site. For a band that is renowned for its work in 1979-83, these guys have made some truly startling and relevant rock in the last few years.
  • The Leafs are still winning, and with three games left in the regular season, they're still alive in the chase for a playoff spot. It's ridiculous. They've won the last two games in dramatic fashion in OT; Captain Mats Sundin had six points Tuesday night and has been carrying the team over the last month or so. Unfortunately, in addition to having to win their remaining games over Ottawa, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, they need both Tampa Bay and Atlanta to lose. Whatever happens, it has been an impressive run for the team and it bodes well for the future, because they've gone with a younger lineup to do it.
  • I'm casting my imaginary NHL MVP vote for Joe Thornton, the former Bruins captain who was shipped off to San Jose in one of the worst trades in recent memory. The guys the B's got in return were three decent players (Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau), but Thornton has only gone on to lead the Sharks out of the doldrums and into a playoff spot, while also tying for the league lead in scoring. Many have talked about Jaromir Jagr of the Rangers for the MVP, but I'd argue that he's been helped by a hot goalie and good coaching. Joe has done much more with much less.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Ramblin' Man

Hey now now. It's been nearly a week. I've just been too busy and/or lazy to post anything. But I'm here now.

The good news continues on the running front. I ran 5 miles on the treadmill Wednesday and felt great, and then did another 5 yesterday with similar results. Very encouraging. I'm going to try to do an 8-mile (just like Eminem!) run tomorrow, so wish me luck. Deb's out right now on a 12-miler. The Boston Marathon is a week from Monday, so it's her last long run. Now we just have to hope it's not too warm on the 17th.

Went to a surprise 40th birthday bash for my old buddy Chris last night. I've gotten to that point where I'm starting to get invites to 40th b-day parties. Yikes. It was a big week for birthdays: my brother, my brother-in-law Steve, Briggy, Frank Black (hey, check out the Frank Black podcast. Very cool). Party on, gents.

Whatchamacallit:

  • The NHL regular season's winding down and the Leafs have been playing well, but not well enough to make the playoffs. They're seven points out of a playoff spot. They lost two games this week by shootout; they just can't seem to score on those damn things. As exciting as a shootout can be, it's an entirely unsatisfying way to conclude a hockey game. Hockey is a true team sport, and the shootout takes the result of the game out of the teams' control and turns it into a one-on-one battle. Thankfully, the playoffs don't use the shootout.
  • The Jays are off to a so-so start. The starters have been good for the most part, as has the offense, but the bullpen has been sieve-like in the team's two losses. Ah, it's early yet. Deb and I are hoping for warm weather when we go to see the Jays play the Sox next Wednesday. April games are always iffy.
  • Speaking of the marathon, a new shoe company is offering a $1 million prize to any runner who wins the race wearing its shoes. The only catch is Spira's shoes haven't been offically been approved by the sport's two governing bodies, so if one of the two Kenyans wearing the shoes actually wins the marathon, he may be disqualified. Spira's shoes use springs in the heels and toes, allegedly giving the runner an edge. When I was at the New York Marathon expo last fall, I saw Spira's booth and the guy there tried to get me to try them on, but I passed. Seemed too gimmicky to me.
  • From the awesome repository of video goodness that is YouTube: Lawrence Welk does Velvet Underground.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Star Witness

Ah, Daylight Savings Time...how you torture us so. I know it's an annual sign of spring, but dammit, I need that hour of sleep. Today wasn't as bad as some other years past, when I've had things to do on Sunday morning and stayed out too late doing stuff I shouldn't Saturday night; those were the years when I really hated DST. Oh well, at least it's been nice and warm out lately.

It was good to see my mom (she's leaving Tuesday morning) and my brother and his family (who left today). They had fun visiting the girls and the girls had fun seeing them again. Mom's getting ready to move back to New Hampshire from Toronto, so it'll be nice to have her relatively close by again.

After a week without so much as attempting to run, I got on the treadmill today and ran two miles without pain. I did them slower than normal and started to feel a little strain with about a half-mile to go, but it was nowhere near the experience I had last weekend. I've been slacking off on the icing, though, and both my heels are still sore, so I need to keep working on that end of it.

What's the frequency, Kenneth?:
  • My fantasy baseball draft went well Saturday. I thought I picked a good team. Of course, I'm always optimistic before the season starts. I had the third pick of the draft and after Pujols and A-Rod were selected, I took Twins ace Johan Santana. I'm due for a good showing in baseball, so maybe this will be my year.
  • After years of speculation, moviegoers this weekend saw a quick preview of an upcoming Simpsons movie coming in the summer of 2007. Although I'm skeptical of how they'll pull off a 90-minute movie when sometimes a 20-minute episode can be uneven at best, I'm hoping they can do it. After all, the South Park and Beavis and Butt-head movies were well done.
  • Speaking of movies, Basic Instinct 2 took a drubbing at the box office this weekend despite a media blitz from Sharon Stone. The cheese factor is super-high, and it's never a good sign when in your first week of release, you're tied with Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector.