Monday, January 29, 2007

Ticket to Immortality

Back to the work week. The party Saturday night was a blast. I stayed up until 3 a.m.--haven't been up that late in years. Fortunately, I stopped drinking around 12:30, so I wasn't too foggy in the a.m. As it was, I only got four to five hours of sleep before we had to hit the road. Deb helped out by driving the first half of the trip home. By the by, the Sedona handles pretty nicely on the highway.

Can I get a what-what?


  • Mucho props to my old Webnoizian pals OJ and Lee for getting quoted in a Boston Globe article last Friday about interactive live show notification sites like Tourb.us. Essentially, you tell the site which bands you like and it notifies you when those bands and others it thinks you will like are playing live in your area. I myself use Tourb.us and dig it.
  • Sad to hear of the death last week of Gump Worsley, the Hall of Fame goalie who was one of the last netminders to play without a mask. The roly-poly goalie won four Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens and also played for the Rangers and North Stars into the mid-70s. He was 77.
  • Another sign that the robot takeover is imminent: they're running parking garages now.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Right or Wrong

Quick post from Joisey: We're down here for a joint birthday party to celebrate Matt and Tricia's 35th birthdays (his was yesterday, hers is next week). It's actually a grown-up party; all the kids are spending the night at Tricia's mom's house. Just got back from a 10-mile trail run with Matt and his buddy Joe. Fortunately it wasn't windy, so the 20-25 degree temps didn't bother us. It was a different kind of trail run for me because the trail was completely frozen solid. No wipeouts or ankle turns.

I had quite the cross-training week: skated at Redd's Pond in Marblehead with my buddy Matt a couple of times, plus played hockey Wednesday night. My legs are pretty much shot at this point. I got "traded" on Wed. night to the other team for a better player in an effort to even things out; got my revenge by scoring the winning goal in the first game. Muwahaha!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Completely Conspicuous Episode 19: Are You Experienced?

Took me a few weeks to get this one done, but it's packed with extra goodness. I added two new features and have great songs from Canadian artists. Downloadimafy it here (right click and save as).

The show notes, if you will:

Topics:
- Smoking in the new world
- Make way for hipster dads
- Musicians who would be actors
- Sports concussions
- New feature: The Outstanding Press Release of the Week
- New feature: The Genius Marketing Move of the Week
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- The Dears - Ticket to Immortality
- Matt Mays and El Torpedo - Cocaine Cowgirl

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

The Dears' new album is Gang of Losers on Arts and Crafts Records; find out more here. Learn more about IODA Promonet here.

Gang of Losers

Download "Ticket To Immortality" (mp3)
from "Gang of Losers"
by The Dears
Arts & Crafts




The song from Matt Mays and El Torpedo is on the band's self-titled album on Sonic Records; find out more 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 fine 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.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Let Yourself Go

Damn. I just spent the last four hours watching the AFC championship game. The Pats were leading the Colts 21-3 in the first half, but bighead Peyton Manning battled back and Indy ended up winning 38-34. They'll go on to the Super Bowl against the Bears. Crap. I hate the friggin' Colts.

My week o' rock shows continued last night when I caught Mission of Burma at the Paradise. It was ridiculously cold out--about 12 degrees, with the wind chill below zero. I met my friend John, who's an absolute Burma freak, at a sushi place down the street and had a few Kirins and some sushi before the show. Picked up my ticket Thursday, but the show was sold out last night. The sound was much better this time around than in July when I saw them, and the band was absolutely kick-ass. They played two sets totalling 90 minutes, debuted a couple of new songs, and seemed to really be locked in and having a good time. We weasled our way up front for the second half of the show. A highlight was during the encore when they brought up Chris Brokaw to play guitar on "Buckets of Flowers, Porno Mags," a song by Burma bassist Clint Conley's side band Consonant. Brokaw plays in Consonant along with Conley; John remarked that it was the first time he'd ever seen Miller playing bass. Very cool. Burma seemed appreciative of the warm reception they got from the fired-up crowd. They're only playing a handful of shows, and I'm glad I caught this one.

It's been cold enough for the last week to finally freeze the local ponds. I'm hoping to play a little pond hockey this week for the first time in a few years.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another Way I Could Do It

Hey, winter's finally here. No snow yet, but it's bone-chillingly cold out there. It got down to the low teens last night. Of course, I was out in the middle of it, because I was in the People's Republic of Cambridge to see the mighty Sloan play at the Middle East. I got there toward the end of the first act and got to talking to Sloan's merch guy, who turned out to be Mike Nelson, their road manager. Nice guy. We hung out and drank a couple of beers and talked about the band, who are on a quick five-city jaunt of northeastern/midwest U.S. cities (the others include NYC, Buffalo, Detroit and Cleveland). Their excellent new album, Never Hear the End of It, just came out in the U.S. on Yep Roc last week; of course, I ordered it last fall through MapleMusic and reviewed it for the fine Clicky Clicky establishment. Reviews have been almost uniformly positive (New York Times, Billboard, Associated Press, Boston Herald, etc.).

The band is taking time off after the end of the month because guitarist Patrick Pentland's about to become a father for the second time. The touring starts up again in March with an appearance at the South by Southwest festival in Austin.

Last night, the show was a typically great power pop-tastic event. I made my way up front and planted myself in front of bassist Chris Murphy and guitarist Jay Ferguson. The band ripped through a 90-minute set, filled mainly with material from their 30-song new release, but peppered with classics like "Penpals," "Money City Maniacs," and "The Good in Everyone." Highlights from the new album included "Ill-Placed Trust," "Living with the Masses," "Fading Into Obscurity" and "Right or Wrong." All four members write and sing their own material, and they switched instruments from time to time as drummer Andrew Scott stepped up to sing and play guitar on some of his songs, while Murphy did his spastic Keith Moon impression on drums. They had a keyboard player with them, which was the first time I've seen them with someone else; usually, they share keyboard duties. I've always enjoyed Pentland's AC/DC-influenced rock riffage, but last night the low-key Ferguson really impressed with his guitarwork. Murphy hammed it up as usual with his high-kicks while Scott pounded the crap out of his little drum set.

The crowd was definitely subdued (despite the club being three-quarters full, which is not bad for a Tuesday night in January), which might have been a combination of unfamiliarity with the new stuff and it being a midweek show. At one point early on, Pentland asked, "Is it a worknight?" By the end, though, the place was rockin' (at least near the stage anyway). Even though I was dragging ass today at work and will probably skip hockey tonight so I'm not doing the same tomorrow, I'm glad I went. And now, I'm off to visit the couch.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Good for You's Good for Me

Checking in on a chilly afternoon in New England. We're supposed to be heading into our first prolonged stretch of winter weather this season. It was raining for most of yesterday into this morning, but now the temps are dropping into the 30s and the rain is starting to freeze. Tomorrow we're supposed to get a winter storm with sleet/ice/snow coming down most of the day, and after that it's supposed to be in the 20s for several days.

I'm getting psyched for the Pats-Chargers game at 4:30. The Chargers are favored and had the best record in the league, but I've got a good feeling about the Pats. I've got plenty of chili, lime Tostitos and beer, so I don't need to go anywhere.

I drove the Sedona for the first time yesterday. Pretty sweet ride for a minivan. I was just happy to have the Maxima at my disposal all week. As for the Olds, I donated it to the Crohn's and Colitis Society of New England, and a tow truck is coming for it sometime early next week. Fare thee well, my pimpadelic friend.

Mike and Ikes:

  • The deal to bring David Beckham to LA to play in the MLS is rumored at $250 million. But is Becks really worth as much as A-Rod while playing in a sport that will probably never be embraced by America? Granted, A-Rod's not worth that money, either, but Beckham presents some interesting opportunities for the LA Galaxy and the MLS, not the least of which is more exposure. And they'll probably sell boatloads of Beckham jerseys internationally. I'm guessing it'll have a similar impact to the 1988 trade that brought Wayne Gretzky to the LA Kings; initial interest will be great, people will watch the game that never have before, and plenty of endorsement deals will be made. But in the long run, it probably won't translate into significant growth for the MLS.
  • How about the splash made by Tadd Fujikawa, the 16-year-old kid who made the cut at the Sony Open in Honolulu this weekend? He's the youngest player in 50 years to make the cut at a PGA event, he's only 5' 1", and he drives the ball 285 yards. Damn!
  • Although I'm not doing any marathons in the spring, I signed up a few weeks ago to run the Great Bay Half-Marathon up in Newmarket, NH, my old stomping grounds from my college days. The race is on April 1 and the beauty is I don't have to do much more running than I'm already doing to train for it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Completely Conspicuous Episode 18: Send in the Clones

Damn, I'd been working on this for almost a week. Just been busy, I guess. You can download it directly here (right click and save as, dude). Anyhoo, here be the show notes:

Topics:
- The pros and cons of cloning
- The endless parade of award shows
- Rock supergroups
- Personal training
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Built to Spill - Revolution
- John Vanderslice - Exodus Damage

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

Ultimate Alternative Wavers

Download "Revolution" (mp3)
from "Ultimate Alternative Wavers"
by Built To Spill
C/Z




Find out more about John Vanderslice at http://www.johnvanderslice.com/. Find out more about the Podsafe Music Network at http://podshow.com/music.

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 http://jbreitling.blogspot.com/. 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 at http://www.macidol.com/jamroom/bands/497/.

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

Monday, January 08, 2007

Don't Get Me Down (Come On Over Here)

The Run to Work era is over. We bought a new vehicle over the weekend. Actually, we officially buy it tomorrow, but on Saturday we test-drove and got a great deal on a Kia Sedona minivan. We finish up the paperwork and pick it up tomorrow. I was all set to run to work today, but the wind was blowing the rain sideways, so I opted for a ride from Deb instead. I would have been completely drenched by about 10 minutes into the 70-minute run. I'm not THAT crazy.

This will be the first new car I've bought since 1992, when I got my Hyundai Elantra. I had that car for eight years, until its untimely demise after a 500-pound tree branch fell on it and totalled it. Yeah, I haven't had good luck with cars in this millennium.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Dirty Whirlwind

Word up. Just relaxing after watching the Leafs totally destroy the Bruins, 10-2, at the TD Banknorth Fleet Shawmut Garden Center Thingy. I had planned on going to the game, but couldn't find anyone to go with, so I ended up just watching it here. After they dominated Boston 5-1 on Monday night in Toronto, I figured the Leafs might be in for a letdown and sure enough, they had a lackluster first period and trailed 2-1 going into the second. But they came out fired up and scored early and often, including three goals in a 42-second span. The best part was much of the scoring was done by second-year players Alex Steen (3 goals, 2 assists) and Matt Stajan (2-2), who have both struggled this year. Of course, after the last two times the Leafs blew out opponents, they went on prolonged losing streaks, so I'm a little concerned.

So I ran to work again yesterday, a shorter run of 5 miles as planned, but what wasn't planned was tripping on one of Marblehead's many crappy sidewalks and scraping my knee. You wouldn't think a community that affluent would have shitty sidewalks, but they're uniformly lousy, all bumpy and uneven thanks to frost heaves and tree roots. I played hockey last night, so I wisely chose to get a ride to work today. I'll get another ride tomorrow, but I'll get a run in at lunch.

As for the car situation, we're planning to test drive a Kia Sedona minivan this weekend. We've read good things about the Sedona in terms of safety ratings, and it's less expensive than the Honda Odyssey, so we're going to check it out. I remember years ago thinking I would never be caught dead driving a minivan, but that was well before I had kids and realized how much crap you have to haul around on a family trip. Plus you can fit a keg quite nicely in the back of a minivan. Not that I ever buy kegs anymore, but it's nice to know.

What the dealio?
  • Of course, as we're looking at new cars, it's comforting to hear that Consumer Reports found that most child car seats flunked crash tests. Our kids ride in those things every damn day. Guess we'd better start duct-taping them as an added precaution.
  • Here's a disturbing case that raises a lot of interesting issues: the parents of a severely mentally and physically disabled 9-year-old had surgery performed to keep the girl from growing to her full height to keep her care more manageable. On the one hand, it's freaky to imagine parents doing that to their own child; on the other, it must be incredibly difficult to raise such a child.
  • Lily started preschool today, moving up from daycare. It's amazing how quickly the girls are growing. A co-worker brought her newborn into the office yesterday and it was hard to remember Lily or Hannah being that small, even though it was only a few years ago. Hannah starts kindergarten in the fall; she's starting to learn how to write a lot of words. Weird, wild stuff.
  • A group of workers at O'Hare Aiport in Chicago, including some pilots, claim they saw a UFO hovering over the airport in November. The FAA is blowing it off, but these folks say it can't be explained away as a weather phenomenon. Hey, it could have been Kang and Kodos checking in on us.
  • In between showing NHL games and rodeo events, Versus (formerly the Outdoor Life Network) aired Rocky IV last night and I watched most of it in all its craptastic glory. I saw it in the theaters when I was home for Christmas break from my freshman year at UNH (yeah, yeah, I'm friggin' old). The movie's unabashed jingoism and classic David vs. Goliath story were just the things I needed to take my mind off the horrendous first semester I had just completed (the short version: I started as a chemical engineer and nearly flunked out before wising up and switching to English). Stallone was absolutely jacked in this flick, as he worked out in the wilds of the Soviet Union, pulling wagons, lifting rocks and running through ankle-deep snow. This was contrasted (see the montage) by villainous Russkie fighter Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren in the role he was born to play, baby!) training on the finest treadmills and getting injected with steroids while then-hot Brigitte Nilsson kept an eye on things. The whole thing climaxed with Rocky winning in a knockout and then giving a lunkheaded speech about everybody changing...of course, the entire arena is cheering for him by the end. Classic.
  • Speaking of great mid-80s movies, here's a great chase scene from Pee Wee's Big Adventure, featuring Godzilla, dancing gingerbread men, a beach party scene, and Twisted Sister. Don't get much better than that.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

You Can't Touch the Untouchable

Today was Day 1 of the Run to Work commute and it went pretty well. I timed the whole thing out down to the minute: I left at 6:30 and basically followed my same 8-mile route to work, from Beverly through Salem and to the office in Marblehead. Got there at 7:45 (including stopping to pick up a newspaper); the run took 1:12. Went into the office, picked up my gym bag, went to the gym next door and stretched and showered, and got back to the office by 8:30. Pretty sweet. I got a ride home from a co-worker. Tomorrow, Deb's going to drop me off about three miles into the route, so I'll only have to run five miles. Should save some wear and tear on the ol' legs. Thursday and Friday, I'll get rides to work.

More later...