Wednesday, February 28, 2007

You and I Are a Gang of Losers

Two days into my "diet" and things are going well. I've been drinking a ton of water, which of course after a while has me going to the bathroom all the time. I've had to fight the temptation to get a mid-afternoon soda for a caffeine boost and I've fought off the urge to do any after-dinner snacking. So far, so good, I guess.

We'll see if I can keep it going, but I've got to believe the hardest time is when you first start doing something like this. After a while, you get used to it.

Wha' hoppen?:

  • It may be over for the Leafs. Yesterday was the trading deadline and they prudently picked up faceoff specialist Yanic Perreault, but they also were trounced by the Sabres last night in a game that illustrated their main problems: a lack of timely scoring, a tendency to have defensive breakdowns leading to opposition scoring, and just plain not enough talent. Buffalo is severely depleted and their two best players were out of the lineup last night, and they still ran away with the game despite being outplayed for large portions of it. The fans in Toronto were restless, booing beleaguered goalie Andrew Raycroft and high-paid but mistake-prone defensman Bryan McCabe. Barring a sudden turnaround, the Leafs may be out of the playoffs again come April.
  • There was a big mail-order steroid ring busted in Florida, which allegedly provided its wares to a number of big-name athletes. There could be a lot of folks embarrassed by this one.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Message to Mine

I'm about to conduct an experiment. It's completely coincidental that it starts right as Lent begins, because I'm not Catholic and don't usually give stuff up for Lent. But starting today, I'm giving up beer and soda for a month. It has nothing to do with overconsumption of those fine products, either.

It's just that I've noticed in the last few months since I ran the Chicago Marathon that while my weight hasn't gone up, my midsection has gotten flabbier. I'm not training for a spring marathon, but I have been running and lifting regularly, as well as skating a fair amount. I can't really do much more exercise than I'm doing now without injuring myself, so I started looking at making changes in my diet. I eat fairly healthy food, but I do have a fondness/weakness for candy and desserts, so I recently cut way back on those. Then I decided I may as well go whole hog and see if abstaining from beer and soda makes a difference.

I certainly don't drink as much as I did back in the day; it's somewhere in the range of 3-10 beers between Thursday and Sunday each week. As for soda, I had actually stopped drinking it for a few years before we had kids, and then I noticed that I was really dragging at 3 p.m. and have gotten into the habit of drinking a Coke or Dr. Pepper every day at that time. Guess I'll have to go splash water on my face or something.

I'm also going to cut back on bread, which I really only have in the sandwiches I eat every day for lunch. I'm going to try eating salads with chicken or something like that for lunch every day, plus more fruits and vegetables. Should be interesting to see if I can keep it up. It was tough to resist the candy, but I've managed to do it, so I figure the rest is easy. It's not like I go out much, so I'm all set with the beer as long as I don't buy any. And I'm planning to go out with the Webnoize dudes on March 23, so I have no doubts I'll have a few beers then.

I went for an 11-mile run today and weighed myself afterwards. I'm at 165; I had been at 168 for quite a while. I'd like to get down into the 150-155 range, which I haven't been at in a few years, and I'd like to lower my bodyfat percentage, too. I'll keep you posted on my progress, or the opposite. Like if I get frustrated, hit the store on the way home, and come home to pound down a pizza, a sixpack and a pint of Ben and Jerry's. Hey, that doesn't sound so...wait, wait. Focus, dammit!

Are you having a laugh? Is he having a laugh?
  • In our attempt to see at least one Oscar-nominated film before the Oscars (which are tonight), we watched The Departed last night and damn, what a great friggin' movie! Deb managed to stay awake for the entire two and a half hours, which says something because she's usually out after the first 10 minutes of a movie we watch after we put the kids to bed. Great performances, gripping plot, and just a lot of fun. Deb pointed out, and I agreed, that Mark Wahlberg's Oscar-nominated performance wasn't that awe-inspiring, partly because he's not in that much of the movie. Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio were both excellent and deserved nominations (although DiCaprio was nominated for Blood Diamond), as was Jack Nicholson, who was hammy and Jack-like, but still terrific. The only thing I found a little jarring was the Boston accent perpetrated by everyone except Damon and Wahlberg, who are from Boston. It wasn't as bad as in some movies, where everyone's trying to sound like JFK, but it was definitely exaggerated at points (e.g., "I told you to dump the body in the mahsh." You know, the whole "pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd" thing). It's just a hard accent to do; I'm of the belief that actors shouldn't even try. DiCaprio's wasn't bad, though. The movie was adapted from the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, which I'd like to check out; the Filmspotting guys say it's even better than The Departed. Here's hoping Scorsese gets Best Director tonight, because he's certainly been robbed several times in the past.
  • The NHL trade deadline is Tuesday and there have already been some interesting deals, unlike the NBA, where practically nothing happened. Last week, Peter Forsberg went to the Nashville Predators, who already sat near the top of the league. Today, St. Louis traded power forward Keith Tkachuk to the Atlanta Thrashers, which will make the Thrash even more of an offensive powerhouse going into the playoffs. Blues forward Bill Guerin is also likely to be dealt to a contender before the deadline. I love this time of year.
  • Can you believe I've been writing this thing for nearly four years and I just now figured out how to properly create titles for my posts? Sheesh. What a Canucklehead.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Completely Conspicuous Episode 21: Old and In the Way

After more than two weeks of procrastinating, I recorded the latest episode of ze podcast this morning. I actually had a lot of ideas, but it was hard to find time to just do it. Granted, I just had a four-day weekend, but I had a lot of shite going on. Anyhoo, it's done now and you can download it directly here (right click and "save as").

Maestro, the show notes:

Topics:
- Our aging nation
- The impact of TV violence
- The end of DRM?
- Pro sports and gay athletes
- Outstanding Press Release
- Genius Marketing Move
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- The Lemonheads - No Backbone
- The Comfies - Close to Me

Promo: Phedippidations' Boston Marathon coverage. Find out more here.

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

The Lemonheads' self-titled album is on Vagrant Records; find out more here. The song from The Comfies is on the band's Close to Me EP on Livewire Recordings; find out more here. Both were provided by the Podsafe Music Network; find out more 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 the fine Clicky Clicky music blog. 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.
Everything is Average Nowadays

Another week down. This was actually a short work week for me. I had Monday off for President's Day and then took a vacation day Tuesday to hang with Deb and the girls, who were enjoying February school vacation. We went to the New England Aquarium Tuesday morning, which was pretty cool. Lily cracked me up because she kept wanting to watch the penguin movie they were showing on a Jumbotron-sized screen while the real penguins were right in front of her.

The temperatures warmed up a little this week, melting a lot of the ice that had built up over the last few weeks. I'm glad I got a decent amount of pond skating in because it may be all over.

Skibidy bibbidy bop:
  • Don't look now, but the Van Halen tour is on indefinite hold. Not sure what the problem was, but this LA Times story hints that Eddie may just be off his rocker. Meanwhile, the Police tour is selling out stadiums.
  • Serious old-school brawl in the Sabres-Senators game last night after Ottawa's Chris Neil leveled Buffalo captain Chris Drury. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff sent out the goons on the next shift and chaos ensued: the goalies were scrapping, the coaches were screaming at each other over the benches. Pretty great footage, if you like that sort of thing. And I do.
  • The Nashua Pride this week signed former Red Sox pitcher Rich Garces, better known as the inimitable "El Guapo." Garces was a middle reliever known for his girth and beloved by Boston fans; he'll be playing for former Sox skipper Butch Hobson. Little-known fact: "El Guapo" is Spanish for "The Guapo."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cross Bones Style
Sunday is usually my long run day. I was fully prepared to run 10 miles this afternoon and the weather was perfect (for mid-February, anyway). But we went to a birthday party for one of the girls' friends and I made the ill-advised decision to eat two slices of pizza and some cake. Sat in my gut like a lead weight and I waited to hopefully digest it, but ultimately I skipped the run. So now I'm planning to run tomorrow morning, but it's going to be bitterly cold out. Lovely.

Last night was fun. I went to the UNH-BU hockey game at Agganis Arena in Boston, courtesy of my buddy Rick, who has BU season tickets. I found out my former Webnoize cohort Lee was also going, and sure enough I bumped into him and his son in the beer line. During the first intermission, I was heading over to visit him and ran into my old college friend Marc, former drummer of Bea Arthur's Revenge and one of the funniest people I know. The game was good, with UNH racing out to a 3-0 lead only to have BU tie it up. The Wildcats fired 46 shots but BU goalie John Curry was impressive. UNH dominated the OT but couldn't score, so it ended up 3-3.

After the game, I drove over to Porter Square in Cambridge to check out my friend Andrew Russell's band The Molenes. They played at Toad, a cool little hole in the wall that could barely hold 50 people; the stage was so small that guitarist-organist Tom Ferry had to play sitting on a bench in front of the stage. Andrew and I worked together briefly at the Salem News before I left back in the mid-90s; he's now an editor at the Portland Press-Herald. He also is a talented musician; I've seen a couple of his bands over the years, the Neds and WOW. He joined the Portsmouth-based Molenes along with former WOW drummer Andy; they gave me a shout-out from the stage after I showed up. I had heard a couple of MP3s of the band, but I was really impressed with their live show. The band plays a hard-driving brand of alt-country in the vein of Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt and is fronted by Dave Hunter, an excellent guitarist who also freelances as a journalist for pubs like Guitar Player. He's also written some pretty cool guitar books and he told me he was once a reporter for Foster's Daily Democrat out of Dover, NH. Andrew sang lead on a cover of R.E.M.'s "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville" and the crowd seemed to be into the music. The band played three sets from 10 to 1:30 a.m., I left around midnight so I could get home before 1. But I truly dug the band and hope to see them again; Tom Ferry mentioned he'd like to book them at Dodge Street Grill in Salem, which would be awesome. I picked up their new CD, This Car Is Big, which is excellent.

After I got home, I watched the Leafs-Oilers game, which was preceded by a ceremony honoring the 1967 Cup-winning Maple Leaf team, the last to win it all. Yep, it's been 40 years. It was especially cool to see Dave Keon in attendance; he was the playoff MVP that year and went on to captain the Leafs, but had cut off ties with the team after he left for the WHA in 1975. I was too young to see him play much, but I remember my dad being a huge fan of his. Even better, the current-day Leafs kept their winning ways going with a 4-3 win led by current captain Mats Sundin, who had two nice goals. They currently sit in the eighth and final playoff spot, but there's a lot of hockey to be played and a lot of teams vying for position. Which means I'll be doing a lot of swearing at the TV for the next six weeks or so, and hopefully more if they make the playoffs.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Trapped Under Ice

The big blizzard hit harder in New Hampshire and western Mass.; we got a little snow followed by plenty of rain, followed by cold temps that froze everything. It's remained extremely cold, in the teens, causing our sump pump to burn out today. Good times.

I've begun a four-day weekend. We have Monday off for President's Day and I took Tuesday as a vacation day to hang with Deb and the girls, who have next week off for February vacation. No big plans, which is fine with me.

More beans, please:
  • "Lost" is back from its hiatus and its ratings have hit an all-time low. It's too bad, because Wednesday's episode was the best one of the season. I blame the idiots at ABC for taking the show off the air for three friggin' months in the middle of the season. It was bad enough last season when they kept running reruns and dragging out the season. This year, it was too much for some people. What they should have done is run the entire season without repeats, like Fox is doing with "24." If that means starting it later in the fall, so be it. But instead they just mismanaged it and now there's talk of it getting cancelled. Dumbasses.
  • An Australian artist's parody of prescription advertising is fooling people into believing it's a real drug. Artist Justine Cooper created a web site, ads, billboards for the fake drug Havidol. Pretty funny stuff.
  • Just as the furor died down over ex-NBA player John Amaechi's admission that he's gay, former NBA all-star Tim Hardaway went and stirred it up again. Just. Plain. Stupid.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This Is All I Came to Do

It's mid-February and everybody here in the Boston area is bracing for what's supposed to be our first big snowstorm of the winter. It's supposed to hit tomorrow and be a big mess. You'll forgive me if I'm skeptical, since we've had exactly 1.8 inches of snow so far this winter. But it has been cold of late, so I made sure to do some more pond skating the last two days just in case the snow bitches it all up for a while.

Great Caesar's Ghost!
  • Ah, now here's a study I can get behind: on-the-job napping can help reduce stress and deaths from heart disease in men. I've been a proponent of this for years. That 3 p.m. wall hits me like a ton of bricks every damn day. I usually have to get up and go for a walk or get something with caffeine in it. I can't see my employer or too many others sanctioning mid-afternoon naps, but one can dream, right?
  • We had a little birthday celebration for a co-worker today who's a big fan of Moxie, which is believed to be America's first mass-produced soft drink. It was created in 1876 in Lowell, Mass., as a medicinal beverage designed to cure "softening of the brain" and "loss of manhood," which is a different kind of softening, I suppose. I had a girlfriend in high school who loved the stuff, so I tried it and pretended to like it. Today, nearly 23 years later, I tried Moxie again and was reminded why I didn't like it in the first place. Definitely an acquired taste; it has a strange cough-syrupy aftertaste that's hard to shake. Still, it has a pretty cool history.
  • Gotta love the world of fashion. Now some genius in Paris is designing corsets for men. I'm no fashion plate by a long shot; my idea of dressing up is a collared shirt and Dockers. But this "trend" is mystifying. One of the great things about being a dude is you don't have to wear uncomfortable clothing. That, and you can pee standing up.
  • Happy 36th birthday to Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin, who is still a force as the Leafs hunt for a playoff spot. Unfortunately, they lost their third straight tonight 3-2 in a shootout to the Islanders, despite totally dominating most of the game. Stupid shootouts.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Super Stupid

Ah, the weekend's here and there's plenty to do. Heading up to NH with the girls today to see my mom for lunch, then we've got a Valentine's Father-Daughter dance tonight. Guess I'm TiVoing the Leafs game.

It was pretty bitterly cold all week. We're in a stretch rivaling the one we had two years ago in January. It's been close to 10 days straight of sub-freezing temps. I wussed out and ran on the treadmill a few times this week before finally venturing outside for a run yesterday. I ran a 15K race last Sunday and it was about 15 degrees with some stiff winds; I did okay, but almost immediately afterward I started sneezing and sniffling and I haven't stopped. I suppose I was due.

Pass the peas:
  • Wow, the fallout from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force marketing stunt continues. Yesterday, the general manager of the Cartoon Network resigned because of it. Next they'll be taking the show off the air. Meanwhile, actual terrorists are out there doing whatever the hell they please.
  • The Anna Nicole Smith death is sad but should come as no surprise to anyone. Her life had been a trainwreck for years, and now the paternity fight over her newborn daughter is getting really weird. Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband now claims he's the father, the third guy who's vying for that title. Whatever. This will give the tabloids and their companion TV shows (Inside, Extra, etc.) fodder for the next six months at least.
  • The Leafs have been playing well lately, winning five straight before losing the other night to Nashville. Unfortunately for them, there are about six teams fighting for that last playoff spot, so they're going to have to keep winning to get in. Goalie Andrew Raycroft has finally playing up to his potential and captain Mats Sundin is playing with a snarl we've never seen before. Should be a fun stretch run if they can keep it up.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Completely Conspicuous Episode 20: Get the Max for the Minimum

Hola. Battled through congestion to bring you this episode. Download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:
- Raising the minimum wage
- Super Bowl Sunday goes beyond the game
- More rock reunions
- The NHL's struggles in America
- Outstanding Press Release of the Week
- Genius Marketing Move of the Week
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- The Hold Steady - Chips Ahoy
- The Wrens - Everyone Choose Sides

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

The Hold Steady's latest album is Boys and Girls in America on Vagrant Records. Find out more about the Podsafe Music Network here.

The Meadowlands

Download "Everyone Choose Sides" (mp3)
from "The Meadowlands"
by The Wrens
Absolutely Kosher



More On This Album


The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling on his music blog. 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.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

We've Come So Far (To Be Here Today)

We actually got some snow overnight. Not much more than an inch, just enough to make things messy out there. I'm supposed to run a 15k road race tomorrow, so hopefully the roads won't be too slippery. It's been consistently cold all week and is supposed to get even colder as we move into next week.

Tomorrow's Super Bowl Sunday. My excitement for the game is severely diminished because the Patriots lost to the Colts two weeks ago, but I'll still watch. I hope the Bears win, but I have a feeling the Colts are too strong for them.

Pass the dutchie:

  • David Letterman celebrated his 25th year in late-night comedy Thursday night. While his show isn't as edgy as it was back on NBC in the '80s, it's still pretty funny. You can find a lot of classic old Dave clips on the YouTube, such as this visit to his new employer GE back in '86. Brilliant stuff.
  • The posters were unveiled this week for Knocked Up, the new movie from Judd Apatow, director of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and the mastermind of the classic TV shows Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. It stars Seth Rogen, who worked on all three previous projects, and Katherine Heigl of Grey's Anatomy fame, and it features some of the great suppporting cast of Apatow's old shows (Jason Segel, Martin Starr, Jay Baruchel). It's supposed to come out in June, and I, for one, am looking forward to it. Of course, I probably won't see it until it comes out on DVD, but what the hey. The last time I saw a movie in a theater was Christmas 2005.
  • The Van Halen reunion with David Lee Roth is official, although bassist Michael Anthony is out, replaced by Eddie VH's 15-year-old son Wolfgang. You probably also heard this week about the Police reunion, which is slated to begin with an appearance at the Grammys. Who's next? I'm pulling for Husker Du.