Friday, March 30, 2007

The Unwanted Things

Damn, the week went by so quickly. Last night, I was out late because of my fantasy baseball draft. I felt especially unprepared this year. I just have had so much going on I didn't have a lot of time to do research. Plus I was drafting for my buddy Matt again this year because he was on a business trip. Fortunately, I was able to draft a couple of decent teams (I think). They always look good on paper before the season starts. I ended up getting the top pick and took Albert Pujols of the Cardinals. Of course, the bad thing about getting the top pick is you have to wait until the end of the next round until you pick again because we do a reverse draft order. There was definitely a dearth of closers this year; a lot of teams seem to have question marks in that area.

Turn on the heat:
  • Here in the Boston area, we're gearing up for the Boston Marathon in a few weeks. Well, I'm gearing up to watch it, anyway. We're going in to watch a friend of my bro-in-law Matt run the race. Meanwhile, one entrant will be running her Boston Marathon from space. Pretty cool.
  • Latest weight update: I got down to 161 yesterday, although I probably didn't help myself last night at the draft when I had a few beers and Doritos. Oh, well.

Quick post today. Gotta get ready for work.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Truckloads of Nothin'

I'm in a sports-centric whirl right now. I picked up some research materials yesterday for my fantasy baseball draft, which takes place Thursday night. Both Deb and I are out of the March Madness pool, especially after Kansas (which we both picked to win it all) lost yesterday. In the hockey tournament, UNH was upset yesterday by Miami of Ohio; everybody was expecting a UNH-BC rematch in the regional finals, but no such luck. Unfortunately, UNH always seems to come up big in the regular season but slip in the postseason. Meanwhile, the Leafs continue to battle for a playoff spot; unfortunately, there are six teams fighting for the last three spots. They currently sit in 11th (the top eight in the conference get in), but they're two points out of eighth. The Leafs had a crucial home-and-home series against Buffalo and on Friday night, blew a 4-1 lead in the third to lose 5-4. Just awful. But they bounced back last night and dominated the Sabres, 4-1. Seven games to go over the next two weeks. Who knows what will happen?

And so it goes:
  • Friday night's gathering with the old Webnoize crew was fun as always. Met up with Briggy, OJ and Amy, Doobs and Lee at the Border Cafe. Good buddy Bob made a brief appearance before heading off to dinner with his girlfriend; we were supposed to meet for drinks later but it didn't end up happening. Big Al Douglass showed up, mere seconds after his name came up in conversation. I gave myself special dispensation to enjoy a few cervezas along with my fajitas.
  • The big potty training experiment with Lily kicks into high gear tomorrow. She has been using the potty somewhat regularly in the last few months and wearing underwear for trial periods instead of pull-ups, but tomorrow, she'll be pull-up-free all day. I think she'll handle it fine. We'll still put them on her when she goes to bed, although she did wake me up at 2 a.m. a few nights ago because she had to go. Hannah made the switch literally on her third birthday, so Lily's not far behind.
  • Speaking of the girls, I have been slacking in recent months in updating my Kumarville family photo site, mainly because it's a pain to upload stuff to it. So now I gots me one of them there Flickr pages. There isn't a whole lot up there yet, but I'll definitely be adding more stuff in the near future. The other site will stay up, since it has a bunch of photos and I don't feel like migrating over to Flickr just yet.
  • I woke up yesterday with some serious soreness in my right quad. I had planned to run 5 miles, but I took the day off. Felt a little better today and ended up running 12 miles with no problems, but it was (and is) pretty sore afterwards. The long-range forecast is calling for temps in the 50s next Sunday for my half marathon up in New Hampshire.
  • Holy hobbits! There's a new J.R.R. Tolkien book coming out in a few weeks. Apparently the legendary "Lord of the Rings" author started work on "The Children of Hurin" in 1918 and left behind many drafts when he died in 1973. His son, Christopher, spent the past 30 years working on the book. Another posthumous Tolkien book, The Silmarillion, was published four years after his death.
  • My original hometown, Toronto, has a new Major League Soccer franchise kicking off next month. Being a big soccer fan, I look forward to following the team, although its name and jersey aren't exactly thrilling. The team is going all Euro, calling itself Toronto FC (football club, for you non-footie types) and displaying a jersey sponsor's logo more prominently on its shirt than its own logo (the sponsor, by the by, is BMO, aka Bank of Montreal). The team has already sold out its season tickets, which is impressive. Soccer's much more popular in Canada than down here, so that makes sense. The team's owned by the same folks who own the Leafs and Raptors. They visit the New England Revolution in April and June, so I might have to venture down to Foxboro to check 'em out. Maybe. BTW, the team lost its first exhibition game to Houston yesterday, 2-nil. They should fit right in.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

La Costa Brava

Hey, the warm weather's back! Got out for a five-miler today at lunch and it was spectacular out. Sunny and 60, if a bit windy. It's supposed to remain warm (50s and 60s) for the next week or so. All the snow we got last weekend is melting away. It's a beautiful thing.

The diet's going well, although I had more than a few Girl Scout cookies tonight. As for my weight, I'm holding fast at 163. But I've felt stronger lately when running, working out and even playing hockey, so that's good. Tomorrow night will be a test, because I'm meeting the Webnoize crew at the Border Cafe in Harvard Square. I will have a couple of beers, but I will skip the nachos grande. I haven't seen those guys in a while, so it should be a good time.

Where is my mind?
  • It was a true bummer this week to hear of the death of Calvert Deforest, aka Larry "Bud" Melman, who rose to fame as a character on David Letterman's late night shows. The guy was hilarious. Here's a clip of him introducing the very first episode of "Late Night with David Letterman" and here's a classic bit of him handing out hot towels to folks at the Port Authority bus depot in 1983. He was 85. UPDATE: I forgot to include a link to this awesome video that LBM was in, Run DMC's King of Rock. Sweeeet.
  • I take my sports pretty seriously, but it's not life or death; it just feels that way sometime. But overseas, they get a little more emotional: the coach of the Pakistani cricket team was found strangled to death after the team lost in a tournament last weekend. Damn.
  • It's stories like this that make me glad I stopped drinking soda: a new study found that many sodas are almost as acidic as battery acid. Of course, I'm sure Coke will release a study next week that says it cures cancer.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Completely Conspicuous Episode 23: The Song Remains the Same

Happy spring! Here's the latest installment of CC. Download it directly here (right click and "save as") if you're not subscribed.

And on to the show notes...

Topics:

- Political pundits
- Wikipedia
- The allure of classic rock
- The return of baseball
- Outstanding Press Release
- Genius Marketing Move
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Rocket From the Crypt - Heart of a Rat
- Riverboat Gamblers - What's What

Promos:
- Phedippidations' Boston Marathon coverage. Find out more here.
- New England Podcasting. 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 song from Rocket From the Crypt is on the band's Group Sounds album on Vagrant Records; find out more here. The song from the Riverboat Gamblers is on the band's Something to Crow About album on Gearhead Records; find out more here. Both were provided courtesy of 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 his 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.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Dark Matter

What up? We got back today from a trip to Joisey that was a little longer than planned. We had planned to leave Friday morning, but when we saw the forecast for a big snowstorm on Friday, we decided to drive down after work on Thursday night. We made pretty good time despite running into some snow in Connecticut; it was the kind that comes straight at you. But we drove through it and got to bro-in-law Matt's a little after 11 p.m. It started snowing around 6 a.m. and kept going all day; we ended up with close to a foot when all was said and done. The kids were pretty psyched, especially Hannah and Lily, who hadn't had a chance to play in snow all winter. Matt has a good hill on the side of his house, so we had the kids riding sleds, but we had to be careful because the sleds ended up in the street. We all had fun and got pretty soaked. We shoveled Matt's driveway twice Friday and again the next morning, which was the hardest because it was basically packed down ice pellets. On Saturday, I went on a 7-mile run with Matt and his buddy Joe on some paved paths through the nearby state park; we had originally planned to do a 12-mile trail run, but there was just way too much snow. The roads were plowed so we were able to run at a slow but decent pace. We went to a St. Patrick's Day party at the community center around the lake Matt and Tricia live on; lots of fun for the kids. I had my first beers in three weeks at the party, a couple of Killians. Deb did the same and remarked that it really wasn't worth it, and I had to agree. Maybe if I had had a Guinness or Sam Adams I would have felt differently. Definitely ate more of the stuff over the weekend that I had been avoiding the last three weeks, so I need to get back into the diet groove this week.

Holy March Madness:
  • UNH won their Hockey East semifinal game against UMass Friday night, 3-2, in double OT, but lost last night in the finals to BC, 5-2. Still, they'll open the NCAA tournament playing Miami (of Ohio) next Saturday at the Verizon Center in Manchester.
  • Speaking of NCAA tournaments, the hoops tourney is in full swing. I stupidly forgot to bring our sheets with us this weekend so we couldn't follow how we were doing. I did okay until today, when one of my finalists, Texas, was bounced. I think I'm officially done for. Oh, well.
  • I finished reading the trade paperback compilation of the great Watchmen comics miniseries this weekend. I never read it when it originally came out in the late '80s and had always wanted to; I finally picked it up at Newbury Comics around Christmastime. Amazing stuff. Alan Moore (who also wrote V for Vendetta, a series I had read back in tha day) is a genius. It's a little dated in its references to Cold War fears, but I certainly remembered that whole nuclear armageddon vibe. And really, are things so much better today? We may not be worried about the Russians anymore, but there are so many other people in the world who would like to take the U.S. down. A movie version is supposedly in the works for a 2008 release, with director Zach Snyder (who directed the current no. 1 film at the box office, The 300, an adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel) attached. Hopefully, he can do it justice. I haven't seen the V for Vendetta movie starring Natalie Portman, but Moore has denounced it and it got middling reviews.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Shake It Off

I haven't quite caught up to the hour we lost over the weekend, but I'm enjoying the warm weather (supposed to hit 70 today) and extended daylight. Of course, the chilly temps are coming back on Friday with the possibility of snow. Whatever happens, spring will be here soon.

Make with the bullets:

  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony was carried live Monday night on VH1 Classic and the highlight for me had to be R.E.M.'s set, which had the band back with original drummer Bill Berry and playing classics like "Begin the Begin" and "Gardening at Night," and "Man on the Moon." They sounded terrific, but things got even better when fellow inductee Patti Smith joined them for a ripping version of the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog." That riff is so simple but so compelling. I actually found some tablature for it online and was playing it while watching the Leafs game last night. Such a cool song. Smith was very appreciative during her speech, and told heartwarming stories about her late husband and mother, right before tearing into a vicious version of her classic "Rock and Roll N-----." I bet Jann Wenner and the rest of the HOF flunkies were getting palpitations, and I had to wonder what the African-American members of the audience who likely had never heard the song before were thinking. But Al Sharpton came out right after Smith and gave a tribute to James Brown, and all seemed right with the world. The Van Halen induction was strange, with only Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar in attendance. Velvet Revolver performed a perfectly mediocre version of "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love" and another song I couldn't recognize from the Van Hagar era, and then Hagar and Anthony played "Why Can't This Be Love?" with Paul Shaffer and the CBS orchestra. Too bad David Lee Roth wasn't there; apparently, according to Velvet Revolver lead tool Scott Weiland, DLR wanted to play "Jump" with VR, but they didn't have a keyboardist and wanted to do "You Really Got Me" instead, so Dave decided to pass. Too bad.
  • The Leafs gutted another win last night, 3-2 over Tampa after taking a classic 4-3 OT win Saturday night against Ottawa. They're sitting in ninth place right now in a dogfight for the eighth and last playoff spot. Hopefully they can keep winning.
  • After losing their last three regular season games, the UNH hockey team blew the doors off Providence last weekend with two shutouts. They play UMass on Friday evening for the right to go to the Hockey East finals.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Retrofit

Ah, it's warming up already. The temperature got up to 50 today, which is a welcome change from the arctic depths it had reached earlier in the week. Yesterday went from brutally cold (5) in the a.m. to about 25-30 by lunch. I went for what hopefully will be my last outdoor skate at Redd's Pond. It was good, although there were already some slushy spots from where the sun was shining.

Weigh-in: I'm at 163, 5 pounds down since I stopped eating desserts and drinking beer and soda three weeks ago. I've had a few pieces of Lily's birthday cake the last few days, but they've been small pieces.

Here come the rome plows:
  • Congrats to podcaster supreme Tim Coyne for making the cover of Podcast User Magazine, a UK-based Internet-only pub. Tim, an actor and writer who produces The Hollywood Podcast, is a good buddy of my bro-in-law Matt. His show is very entertaining and well worth a listen.
  • Well, the delay in the Van Halen tour makes a lot more sense now that Eddie VH has checked into rehab again. Here's hoping he gets his act together. Looks like VH's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame won't be any fun, with neither the Van Halen brothers nor David Lee Roth planning to attend. Instead, the crappy Velvet Revolver will accept the award and play a set of VH tunes. That's going to suck-diddly-uck.
  • Sad to hear of the death of Brad Delp, the former singer of the band Boston. I was never a huge fan of the band, but growing up in New England, you couldn't help but hear every Boston song a zillion times on rock radio. He was from Danvers, which is the next town over from where I live now, and he died at home in Atkinson, NH, which is two towns over from where I lived in high school. Delp was 55.
  • Marvel's getting a lot of press this week after killing off Captain America, one of their longtime superhero mainstays. I used to read Captain America religiously for years, but I'm not getting all worked up about this. This happens every so often; a character is killed and then it turns out that it was his clone or an imposter or something like that. Or like when Iron Man became a drunk and quit, and his best friend took over for a while. In this case, I'm thinking someone else will take over for Cap, at least temporarily until they figure out a way to bring Steve Rogers (his alter ego) back. Some good analysis/reflection on Cap here.
  • Three years to the day after Todd Bertuzzi's cowardly attack on Steve Moore that ended Moore's career, another ugly hockey incident took place Thursday. Islanders goon Chris Simon, blind with rage over a hit he took from Ranger Ryan Hollweg, turned and delivered a baseball swing to Hollweg's chin. Hollweg was cut but okay, but Simon was suspended indefinitely by the league pending a hearing. Check out the video here. Just read a story that reported he was suspended for the rest of the season plus seven games in the playoffs. Hopefully, that's true. There's no place for BS like that in hockey. Drop the gloves and fight the guy, but you don't just drive your stick into his chin.
  • More on the Brady baby parade: The Boston Herald reported yesterday that the rumors are false that Gisele Bundchen is preggo with Brady's baby, citing interviews with Gisele's family. Hope they're right.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Keep the Car Running

Hard to believe, but Lily hits the big 3 today. She's a mischievous little rascal. She's really been testing our patience lately, but that's par for the course with kids this age. It's hard to stay mad at her, because she's so damn cute. Of course, while I write this, Hannah's throwing a tantrum in the other room. I expect this drama to last until they grow up and move out many moons from now. Wouldn't have it any other way.

We're in the midst of another brutally cold spell, with lows expected to hit single digits tonight. But the forecasts are calling for temps in the 50s and possibly 60 by the middle of next week. Bring it!

The diet's going pretty well. Still haven't had a beer or soda in a couple of weeks now, although I did slip a bit this week with the arrival of Girl Scout cookies to our office. I forgot I had ordered four boxes (2 Thin Mints, 2 Caramel Delites) from a co-worker's kid; I put three on top of the fridge, but I couldn't resist sneaking an occasional Caramel Delite every so often. That first box is gone now and I'm not touching the others for a while. Other than that, I've actually been enjoying the salads I've been having for lunch. After years of eating sandwiches, it's nice to have a change. And I've been drinking water like it's going out of style.

Tiptoe through the tulips:

  • Our new governor here in Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, is having a rough first few months in office. Just one stupid mistake after another, the latest being the call to Citigroup he made on behalf of the mortgage company whose board he used to sit on. Before that, it was hiring an expensive assistant for his wife and ordering a Cadillac as his official car. Nothing that's going to bankrupt the state or anything, but all of these things look bad. Politically, they hurt him and the public's confidence in him. He basically won the governor's race because the other campaigns were so bad they made him look good in comparison. Now one wonders if he can handle this job.
  • There's a report out of Brazil that says Patriots QB Tom Brady knocked up his girlfriend, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, only weeks after it was revealed that his ex, actress Bridget Moynahan, is preggers with his child. Hopefully for his sake, it's not true, but if it is, the guy needs to invest in better birth control.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Completely Conspicuous, Episode 22: Take This Job and Shove It

Hot off the Interweb for your listening pleasure, it's the latest episode of CC. Download it directly here (right click and "save as").

Ze shownotes...

Topics:
- The decline in job satisfaction
- Social networking sites
- The lost art of the live album
- March Madness!
- Outstanding Press Release
- Genius Marketing Move
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Broken Social Scene - Fire Eye'd Boy
- TV On the Radio - Staring at the Sun

Promos:
- Phedippidations' Boston Marathon coverage. Find out more here.
- New England Podcasting. Find out more here.

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

Broken Social Scene's self-titled album is on Arts and Crafts Records; find out more here. The song was provided by IODA Promonet; find out more here.

Broken Social Scene

Download "Fire Eye'd Boy" (mp3)
from "Broken Social Scene"
by Broken Social Scene
Arts & Crafts



More On This Album


The song from TV On the Radio is on the band's Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes album on Touch and Go Records; find out more here. It was provided by the Podsafe Music Network; visit here for more info.

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 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.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Think About Carbs

Hola. So I'm a week into my beer- and soda-free diet and so far, no slip-ups. I had my biggest test last night, when I went to the UNH-BC hockey game at Conte Forum. My friend Rick had scored some tickets at the last minute, so I rode in with him and a bunch of his buddies. I knew BC didn't sell beer at the arena (the only local college I know of that does is BU, through some arcane grandfathered rule), but I also knew there would be temptations before and after the game.

We got a little turned around in Newton and arrived at BC around 6:30, a half hour before game time; the guys wanted to grab dinner and a few pops before the game, but I had promised an extra ticket to my friend Bob who was meeting us at the rink. So I took two tickets and got out to go meet him while the guys went in search of food and drink; temptation avoided.

Our seats were at the highest point in a corner of the rink. We could see just about the whole ice surface, but not the top of the scoreboard. UNH came out pretty flat and lost 4-2, but they had already clinched the Hockey East title last weekend. Hopefully they'll play better against Providence in the first round of the playoffs.

The rest of the guys showed up about halfway through the first. I ate only a pretzel and had a bottle of water at the game. Afterward, the crew (minus Bob)headed to a Stoneham bar for some apres-game libations. I had a BBQ chicken sandwich and about four glasses of water, despite the prevalence of Guinness and Bass at our table. The guys didn't give me any crap about it, which was cool. I have to say I was glad I didn't give in, but damn, that beer looked good.

It was a nice weekend, with temps in the 50s yesterday and 40s today. I got a 5-miler in yesterday and felt okay and planned to do 10 or 11 today. I was dressed and ready to go when I realized that my left ankle was really sore. It had been bothering me on and off recently, but it was pretty tender today so I backed off and went to the gym instead to lift. I'm going to ice it in a little while. I've got a half marathon in a month, so I don't want to make it any worse.

Cue the bullets:
  • Mucho props go out to my brother-in-law Matt for his running of the Los Angeles Marathon today. He's actually running the Poconos Marathon next month, but was in LA for business and decided a month ago to do this race as a training run. Lunatic. It was 81 freakin' degrees there today! He took his time and did it in 5:25, and said he felt pretty good afterwards. Nice job!
  • Speaking of running, there's been a lot of consolidation in the world of running publications and online forums lately. First, Active.com bought Cool Running, a running resource with race calendars, results and forums. Then it was announced last month that Rodale Press, which owns Runner's World magazine, had bought Running Times magazine. Running Times caters to competitive runners while Runner's World is suited more for casual runners. It'll be interesting to see how Rodale deals with its new acquisition; hopefully, it won't merge the two pubs, because they really do serve two different audiences.
  • Ah, Ann Coulter. She's catching heat for using a gay slur to describe Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards (hint: it rhymes with "maggot"). Of course, regardless of whether she apologizes, she's playing right to her audience, which I'm sure thought her remark was hilarious. She knows how to drum up publicity, that's for sure.