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.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Unheard Music

Word up. Just hanging here in New England, where everyone's reeling from the Red Sox' collective choke job against the Yankees over the weekend. They lost FIVE STRAIGHT to the Bronx Bombers and now sit 6.5 out of first. I can laugh because I'm a Blue Jays fan and they already did their choking a few weeks ago. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth on sports talk radio after the fifth game today (making up for an earlier rainout). I was rooting for the Sox, too. But the first three games exposed their lack of pitching depth. Curt Schilling turned in a gutsy performance last night and I went to bed at midnight with the Sox leading 5-3 going into the eighth, but they ended up blowing it in the ninth and then losing in the 10th. Today, David Wells pitched a hell of a game but the Sox bats fell silent and they lost 2-1. Technically, they're still alive, but this was a brutal showing at a crucial time.

They're ruining my summah:
  • The X-Rollins Band show Saturday was truly a great experience. It was definitely the blue plate special: the first band came on at 6:30. Usually when they say a show starts at 6:30, the first band doesn't come out until at least 7. We got to Avalon at 7:30 and Rollins was already into his third song. The band--guitarist Chris Haskett, bassist Melvin Gibbs and drummer Sim Cain--was immense, just like I remembered them. I saw them in '94 and '97 at the same venue, and they were awesome then, too. They churn out massive, roiling riffs that are a perfect counterpoint to Rollins' shout-singing; more Sabbath than Black Flag, really. Except for his hair now being much more gray (I can relate), Rollins was also just as I remembered: jacked, sweaty, clad in nothing but tats and black shorts, and putting all his primal energy into belting out his songs. The band played songs from their three mid-90s albums--The End of Silence, Weight, and Come In and Burn, but primarily from Weight. It was great stuff and it was cool see Haskett and Gibbs hanging out in the crowd after their set to watch X's show. Speaking of X, I was not overly familiar with their catalog, but I have to say I was damn impressed by their set. The original lineup--John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Billy Zoom, and DJ Bonebrake--were back together and they really sounded incredible. Doe and Cervenka sounded great as their vocals intertwined and Zoom, Doe and Bonebreak sounded like they'd never split up as they played their revved-up brand of punkabilly. The club only gave them 80 minutes or so (they were done by 9:50) because on weekend nights, it turns into a dance club that probably brings in a lot more money than rock shows. So X just ripped through a ton of their old classics, and even though I only knew a couple of songs, I really dug them. I'm definitely going to pick up some of their albums now.
  • One of the players on the Saudi Arabian Little League World Series team is 6' 8", 256 pounds--at the age of 13. How would you like to be a 12-year-old pipsqueak pitching to this monster? Hell, I wouldn't want to do it as the 38-year-old pipsqueak I am.
  • HBO's Deadwood is wrapping up season three--and damn, is it an incredible ride. Very dense, hard to follow at times, and satisfying, much like another great HBO show, The Wire. Not for the faint of heart, what with all the 10- and 12-letter words getting thrown around, but the writing is damn well near Shakespearean. If you haven't watched it before, I recommend renting the Season 1 DVD and starting there.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I See Through

Happy Friday. Man, August is flying by. Unlike last month, the weather has been pretty pleasant for the most part. It makes those longer runs that much more bearable. I get a bit of a reprieve this week, with a 13-mile run planned for tomorrow. After last week's 20-miler, 13 is a treat. Sick, huh?

The girls had a blast at the Wiggles concert today. I took advantage of the quiet house after I got home from work to record Episode 3 of Completely Conspicuous. You can download it here (remember, right click and hit "save as").

Hells, yes:
  • Big five-games series this weekend between the Red Sox and Yankees. The Sox got off to a bad start by losing the first game 12-4 this afternoon. The Jays traded Eric Hinske to the Sox this week and in his first game, he was 3-4 with three doubles.
  • I'm psyched for the Rollins Band-X show at Avalon tomorrow (although X are the headliners). Should be an intensely loud good time.
  • A new study is out saying that people who spend time at work concentrating on their fantasy football cost employers more than $1 billion a week in lost productivity. Imagine what it the total is if you add in fantasy baseball. Not that I would ever do such a thing. Ahem.
  • The cable news channels are all JonBenet Ramsey all the time. There is much speculation as to the veracity of the suspect's confession. All I know is, he's one messed-up dude.
  • Paging Judge Pat McGroin: Reportedly, this guy's defense was, "I don't even know what this is. This sort of thing ain't my bag, baby!"

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Color Me Impressed

Back in the saddle again after nearly a week. I've really enjoyed the weather the last few weeks: temps in the 70s and 80s, cool nights, low humidity. My midday runs have been pretty sweaty, but I had a nice cool morning Sunday for my 20-miler. I played hockey last night for the first time in a few weeks; looks like the Tuesday night skate is in jeopardy. We're having a hard time getting enough guys to commit to playing full time in the fall and winter. It's a bummer because I've skated with this crew (or variations on it) for eight-plus years.

What you gonna play now?
  • There's a new documentary out about the teen movies of the '80s and how they're so much better than the ones today. One of the key points is that The Breakfast Club accurately portrayed teen life much better than modern films. While I enjoyed that movie and Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I've always felt that John Hughes movies were anything but realistic. Funny and cute, yes, but hardly realistic. Sure, there were jocks and dorks and princesses and burnouts and weird chicks in my high school, but what about dorky jocks of East Indian descent who hung out with burnouts? Where's the movie about them? Huh? Yeah, that's what I thought. I guess the closest we got was Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.
  • So they finally arrested a suspect in the 1996 murder of JonBenet Ramsey. Can't believe it's been 10 years since that happened. What a mess of a case. Hopefully, the authorities in Colorado got the right guy and won't screw things up now.
  • What the world doesn't need now: an album from Paris Hilton. Good grief. I think I'd rather listen to K-Fed's magnum opus.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Truly Great Thing

Greetings from the Bay State. It has been a busy week, for work and otherwise. Deb's been filling in for a colleague doing some summer school teaching for the week. I've got another work deadline that I'm up against today, so this will be quick.

I cranked out another episode last night of Completely Conspicuous, my new podcast. It's a little longer than the first one, thanks to the addition of a couple of songs, coming in at just over 20 minutes. Thanks to those of you who listened to the first show and gave me your feedback. It all helps, believe me. Here's the direct link to the second episode (right click and "save as"). Give it a listen, and remember, this show is a work in progress. Listening to it now, it sounds like I still need to work on pumping up the volume.

Breathing a sigh of relief because for a while, it looked like I would have to go to a Wiggles concert in Worcester with Deb and the girls. I love my family, but that would been two hours of hell right there. Fortunately, Deb's mom was able to switch shifts at work so she could accompany the girls.

Gimme indie rock:
  • There's some scary shiite going on in the world, after British authorities busted up a terrorist plot to blow up as many as 10 U.S.-bound airplanes with liquid explosives smuggled aboard in soda bottles. As a result, airports in the U.K. and here in the U.S. have been on high security alert, imposing stricter security measures and causing major delays. Whatever it takes to make things safer, but I'm hoping things streamline a little by the time we take the girls on their first flight ever in a few weeks. We're heading down to Jacksonville for the wedding of Deb's cousin. Looks like we'll have to plan on some additional time in the airport.
  • The Red Sox are struggling, losing three straight to the lowly Royals. We'll see if they can turn it around this weekend; Deb and I will be at Sunday's game against Baltimore.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Triggers and Trash Heaps

Hola, muchachos. Got back from New Jersey late last night. It was quite a weekend. The River to Sea Relay was a blast, exhausting, frustrating, rewarding, and infuriating all at once. We got down to my bro-in-law Matt's place Friday afternoon, hung out for a few hours, and then Matt and I drove down to Clinton (about 20 minutes from the race start in Milford), where we checked in to the Holiday Inn Select. Our four teammates (my other buddy Matt, Rick, Jon and his wife Kerry) showed up a little while later and we went out to dinner for some Italian food and a few beers. We went back to the hotel and decided to have a final beer in the hotel bar, where we were told DJ Joel would be spinning the hot rock tunage. Turns out this particular Holiday Inn Select bar had a bouncer and a dress code; at first we were told we couldn't go in because we all were wearing t-shirts and shorts, but the bouncer relented, although he warned us if the manager showed up, we might get kicked out. We decided to live on the edge and take our chances. As you can imagine, it was pretty uneventful, despite the presence of a wedding party; a woman on hand to shill for Jack Daniels was disappointed because the group was Christian and didn't drink. Of course, we didn't partake in the JD, either, but we were drinking beer. We called it a night around 11.

I woke up around 5:30 and my mind started racing about all the logistical elements of the relay that were about to unfold. We drove to the start and picked up our bib numbers in preparation for our 8:45 start time; the first groups started at 6 a.m. Looking around, we quickly realized we were given the wrong start time; the slower groups went first, and we were no match for the many high school and college track teams that surrounded us. Our first runner, Jon, left and we got ready to get on the road. We had two support vehicles; one would support the runner by driving a little ahead of him or her and providing and directions where needed while the other would take the next runner to the next stage and wait. There were 14 stages and 92 miles total, with the route starting at the Delaware River and making its way southwest toward the ocean in Manasquan. It quickly grew hot and sunny out. The closer we got to noon, the harder the running got. I was the last of the six of us to run, starting just after 1, so it was scorching hot by then. I had a hilly 8-mile run and I saw five or six young runners pass me, but I felt okay; Matt had the stage before me and I only found out afterward that he got sick after he ran. The same thing happened to Jon later on. It was a tough day to run, but especially tough to be running hard and more than once. We switched up our planned stages to give people more rest. We discovered after a while that we were one of the last groups, which was disheartening; there was some discussion after the ninth stage about quitting because of the heat, but thankfully, we decided to keep going. I ran again a little after 6:30; right before my run, one of the organizers came up and asked if we wanted to stop because we were going to come in after 8:30, when police support would no longer be provided. I told him we would finish; it was their screw-up that had us starting later than we should have, and we didn't pay the fee and drive all that way to quit early. By this time, the heat had lessened and my 6.55 mile stage was a lot flatter and straight; I ran harder than before and finished with 7:47 splits; our final two runners were even faster. We finished up around 8:35 in the dark, with a total time of 11:52. The race party was over just before we got there, which sucked, but we were glad to be done. As it turned out, our time put us 59th out of 101 teams; we ran 7:45 splits, which was pretty good. Of course, the winning team finished in 8:30, with 5:33 splits, which is just amazing. We went out to eat in Manasquan, which is quite the hopping little beach town, before Matt and I drove the two hours back to his house, getting in at 1 a.m. During the relay, I swore I had no interest in doing another, but now I'm thinking that was pretty fun. Matt and I had to rally on Sunday for his son Danny's fifth birthday bash, which featured a knight theme and had a working water-balloon catapult, in addition to the 30 or so kids running around. I was pretty wiped last night, to say the least.

That's it for now.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Completely Conspicuous

It's so nice to be sitting here and not sweating. After a brutal H&H stretch where temps ventured into the 100s, we finally have some relief tonight. It's a comfortable 75 right now. It was so hot that I actually brought the AC unit up from the basement and set it up in our guest room; we hadn't used that thing since the summer of '02, when Hannah was a baby. We actually slept in the guest room the last two nights because it was unbearable in our bedroom upstairs on the third floor of our house.

I took tomorrow off from work so we can drive back down to New Jersey. The River to Sea Relay is Saturday; we're heading to my bro-in-law Matt's place in northern Jersey, and then he and I will drive down to Clinton, where we'll meet our four teammates and stay in a hotel. The start of the 92-mile race is in nearby Milford. The race is for seven-person teams, but our seventh (and fastest) runner had to bail because of a family obligation, so two of our runners will run three stages. I checked the forecast today and it's supposed to be in the mid- to high 80s and sunny, but it shouldn't be as humid as it has been, so that will help a little. The longest stage is 9.65 miles; I'll be doing runs of 8 and 5.4 miles. Wish us luck. Full report next week when we get back.

So I haven't posted all week because I've been working on something: a podcast. Yep, after talking and thinking about it for more than a year, I finally just did it. The show is called Completely Conspicuous and will be a weekly (hopefully, if I can get my act together) discussion of things that interest me in news, music, pop culture and sports. I actually structured the show with different segments and spent a few days writing it, so it's not like I just sat in front of the microphone and talked off the top of my head. I used Castblaster software and published it through the Podshow Delivery Network, which provides free hosting and other tools. The first episode is 15 minutes long and is not perfect by any means, but I wanted to get it out this week before I left just to prove I could do it. I had hoped to add music from the Podsafe Music Network, but I didn't quite master the process so I went without this week. But I expect to have a few songs mixed in next week. Do me a favor and download it if you have the time and/or inclination, and let me know what you think. It was recorded last night in 90 degree heat; I had to close the window to reduce traffic noise and the door to not pick up Deb on the phone in the living room. I probably need to project a little better. I probably need to do a lot of things better. But it's a start.

Mind the gap:
  • Another year, another Blue Jays third place finish. They've been within striking distance of the Sox and Yankees all season, getting as close as 2.5 games out a few weeks ago. But they went into Yankee Stadium this week and got swept, putting them 8.5 behind the division-leading Yanks. The starting pitching has been abysmal; after perennial Cy Young candidate Roy Halladay, nobody else has stepped up. Big-bucks free agent signing A.J. Burnett has been woefully inconsistent, with only two wins on the season. Urgh.
  • It was good see the ol' Webnoize crew at Dr. Doobs' house out in Shrewsbury. The kids and the adults all had a good time. In an email exchange after the fact, we noted that none of us gets together with a certain group of friends more than the five of us do. I guess working for a failed dotcom was worth it, after all.