Saturday, April 28, 2007

Completely Conspicuous Episode 25: Take the Money and Run

Yeah, yeah, I'm a slacker. I always mean to get the podcast done within 7-10 days of the last one, but one thing leads to another and the next thing you know it's 23 frickin' days. Damn. Anyhoo, you can download the latest episode here (right click and "save as").

Ze show notes:

Topics:
- The addictive lure of lotteries
- The all-encompassing reach of technology
- Tribute albums
- The enduring legacy of the Boston Marathon
- Outstanding Press Release
- Genius Marketing Move
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Bloc Party - I Still Remember
- The Nice Device - My Little Birdie

Promo:
- New England Podcasting. Find out more here. The song from The Nice Device is on the band's self-released EP Birth of a Lover; 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 here. 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. Word.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Underwater World

Wrapping up another week in soggy fashion, but it wasn't all bad. On Monday, we were busy as my brother was in town for a work thing in Boston and my uncle and cousin drove down from Toronto as part of a baseball road trip. My bro was only here for the one night, but the girls were happy to see him (and stay up past their normal bedtime). I took Tuesday off and gave Partha and Dev a tour of the area and the city during the day before we went to the Sox-Blue Jays game at Fenway that night. Luckily, it was a nice day in the 70s. I took them to Faneuil Hall and Harvard Square before we hit Kenmore Square. We had obstructed view seats; they were just behind the plate to the left, but there was a big pillar right in front of us. We could look around it. From my seat, I could see the pitcher deliver to the plate, but the shortstop was completely blocked from view. Nonetheless, it was a good time and we were treated to a convincing Jays victory, a 10-3 butt-kicking capped off by a dominating performance from Roy Halladay. The guys headed out in the morning for NYC, where they had tickets to the Jays-Yankees game Wednesday night. Unfortunately, it was rained out. But it was good to see them again. We hadn't seen them since we were up in Toronto in the summer of '03, when Hannah was a toddler and Lily was in utero. Deb and I are talking about making a road trip up to Toronto in August to see them again.

Break out the umbrellas:
  • Wow, I never thought I'd see the day New Hampshire approved civil unions. I lived there for several years in the '80s and it was about as conservative as you can get. Hell, even electing a Democratic governor seemed like a longshot back then. Times are a-changin'.
  • Say what you will about Richard Gere, but this whole "kissing arrest" thing in India has got to be one of the dumbest friggin' controversies I've ever heard. Apparently, it's a nuisance lawsuit filed by extremely conservative folks who are not fans of the public display of affection. Welcome back to the Stone Age.
  • This time of year for me means watching the NHL playoffs, and last week I almost fell over laughing after seeing Snoop Dogg's appearance between periods at the Anaheim Ducks-Minnesota Wild game. Yabba dabba dizzle, indeed.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

At the Hundredth Meridian

Holy crap, it's actually warm out. I'm enjoying it while I can; who knows when some stupid cold front will move in. It got up to 70 yesterday and is supposed to stay that way for a few days.

I ventured into Boston Friday night to catch the Tragically Hip on their latest visit to town. They played Avalon and it was sold out, which made for a crazy night considering the Red Sox and Yankees were facing off in their first game of the year right across the street. The Hip have virtually no presence in the U.S. on the radio, but they have made their reputation from being a kickass live band and have a good following here. As usual, the crowd was full of Canadian expats like myself, dudes in hockey jerseys (mostly Leafs--I saw guys in Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour and Bill Barilko shirts--but also some Sabres as well), and older fans who always see them. I started off standing on the floor near the front, about six or seven "rows" from the front, but it got to be a pain dealing with all the tall and/or drunk folks, not to mention the bozo who kept holding up the homemade sign he brought and blocking the view of everyone behind him. So about nine songs in, I moved over to stand on the steps leading up to the bar and had a much better view. I was still kind of stuck in place, but at least I could see. The band sounded great and played a good mix of material from their 20-year recording career. Highlights included "Boots or Hearts" and "New Orleans is Sinking" from their first album and "Springtime in Vienna." Singer Gord Downie was his usual spastic self, sweating up a storm and madlibbing away; the guy's a force of nature. The band has been playing a different cover each night on this tour and on this night broke out a cover of Bob Marley's "Is This Love?", which seems out of character but fits with some of the reggae sounds they explored on their latest album World Container. The band closed things out with a raucous version of "Blow at High Dough," the bluesy rocker that was my first exposure to the band on WBCN way back in 1989. I got out of the club in time to watch the final out of the Sox game on a TV outside the Cask and Flagon; the Sox came back from a 6-2 deficit to win 7-6.

Deb spent the week off from school redoing the girls' bedroom. She repainted the walls from the yellow and green that had been done before Hannah was born to pink and purple and a princess theme. We bought new beds at Ikea that I spent most of Thursday night assembling, so the room has a totally new look.

I'll check back in later. I'm looking forward to going out for a 10-mile run later this afternoon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

In Such Crooked Times

It always happens this time of year. I watch the coverage of the Boston Marathon and I get those pangs, wishing I was out there with the runners. Although that was tempered somewhat because the weather was so lousy. It wasn't quite as bad as the forecasts predicted, with the rain stopping in mid-morning and the sun even making an appearance around noon. But there was still a howling headwind that slowed runners down and caused many a runner to suffer from hypothermia. So I'm glad I wasn't out there.

Still, mucho congrats to Steve Runner, Rob Bradford, and everyone else who slogged their way through less than ideal conditions. I'm still trying to determine which marathon I'll do in the fall, but I definitely plan to do one.

I had yesterday off to help Deb take the girls to their first dentist appointments and just hang out. Unfortunately, the weather was miserable again and Deb went to the doctor to find out she has a nasty sinus infection. Not exactly a fun way to spend her school vacation week.

Let go the line:
  • The country's still reeling from the mass shooting spree at Virginia Tech that left 32 people dead Monday. It has raised a lot of questions about the slow reaction time of the school to the first two murders, which occurred in a dorm at 7:15 a.m. The dorm was locked down, but the rest of the campus didn't know about the incident until two hours later when the gunman was shooting up a classroom. We've all met people like Cho Seung-Hui, the disturbed kid who killed all those people before blowing his own brains out. The loner who doesn't seem to fit in, who gives off some warning signs that he might be capable of something scary someday. But you never expect something like this to happen.
  • Already criticized for being a pretty boy, Democractic presidential hopeful John Edwards is now being slammed because he's been getting $400 haircuts. Damn. My haircut yesterday cost $15. Granted, I don't have a head of hair as nice as John Edwards, but still...
  • Eddie Van Halen's out of rehab, so the Van Halen tour with David Lee Roth is back on, right? Not quite. He's making an appearance as an honorary NASCAR official this weekend. Uh, okay.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Every Single Line Means Something

Welcome to New England, home of the mid-April Nor'easter. Just rainy and raw out there, folks. Nothing to see here. There has been some seriously nasty-ass weather going on all over the country lately; seems like half the baseball games scheduled so far this season have been postponed. Six more were rained out today.

Looks like the worst of the storm will be over by the time the Boston Marathon starts tomorrow morning at 10. I'm still glad I won't be running or watching from the sidelines. Yesterday was pretty nice out, with temps approaching 50, so I got out for a strong 10-miler in the morning. Next on the race slate for me is the Ring Around the Neck 5-miler in Marblehead on the 29th, and then the Run to Remember half marathon in Boston on Memorial Day Weekend.

Heads or tails:
  • I was surprised that Grindhouse was such a flop at the box office, especially with the press blitz (numerous talk show appearances and magazine covers), but hey, maybe the moviegoing public wants to see more movies like Norbit. No doubt, three hours' worth a double feature is a lot to sit through, but that didn't seem to hurt the Kill Bill movies. Miramax has been talking about releasing the movies separately. I bet they'll make a killing overseas and on DVD, which is probably the only way I'll be able to see it.
  • I love Will Ferrell, but the folks at College Humor are dead on with their Will Ferrell Movie Generator, which randomly generates a Ferrell movie plot, complete with sidekick, wacky sports angle and odd catchphrase. Sweet Lincoln's mullet!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Overly Dramatic Truth

Okay, this weather is getting annoying. We've had below-average temperatures all month, and now the forecasts are calling for snow/rain tomorrow and a nasty storm this weekend leading right into the Boston Marathon on Monday. I'm glad I'm not running, but I'm bummed for everyone who has been training for the last several months and may be slogging through nasty, chilly, torrential rains. Hopefully, the forecast will be wrong.

We had been planning to go in to cheer on a buddy of my brother-in-law Matt who is running, but Matt can't make it because of work. Now I'm glad. That's the tough thing about running Boston. You just never know what to expect for weather.

I played hockey Monday night with the guys I had been skating with for about nine years until last fall. It was good to see them again, and nice that they had scored the 8 p.m. hour. I'm still skating on Wednesdays in Lynn for at least another month or so.

Crack that whip:
  • Speaking of hockey, the NHL playoffs start tonight. The best tournament in sports, in my opinion. Meanwhile, my favorite team is busy getting tee times. The debate has begun in Toronto about whether GM John Ferguson, Jr., should be retained after the team missed the playoffs for two straight years. I'm on the fence. On the one hand, he has struck out with acquisitions like inconsistent goalie Andrew Raycroft and overpriced free agents like Pavel Kubina, but on the other, I can't remember the team having this many good young players in the lineup since the mid-1980s. Of course, they got them by being one of the worst teams in the league and drafting high every year, and they traded most of them away. I think they should re-sign Mats Sundin and sign a premier offensive free agent to help him out, as well as an experienced backup to share the load with Raycroft.
  • Don't they have bigger things to worry about in India than whether the Liz Hurley wedding was "insulting" to Hindu customs? There is actually a court case being filed over this.
  • The fallout continues over Don Imus' racial remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team. The bigger question for me is who the hell listens to Don Imus anymore? The demographic that thinks his shtick is funny is rapidly dwindling.
  • While I'm happy NBC renewed "30 Rock," I'm pissed that they've shuffled the great "Andy Barker, PI" to Saturday nights and most likely will not renew it. Except for that Quintuplets show, everything Andy Richter has done has been hilarious. This show is no exception.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Real Emotional Trash

Hey, just checking in after watching a ridiculously intense final game of the regular season for the Leafs. They edged Montreal, 6-5, in regulation and now have to hope the Islanders lose to New Jersey tomorrow afternoon to make the playoffs. Hopefully, the Devils, who are already set with a playoff spot, don't put all their scrubs in, but that's a big possibility. The Leafs played the Islanders Thursday night and could have helped their cause with a win, but they were outworked and lost handily, 5-2. Tonight's game was a seesaw affair, with the Leafs dominating the first period and taking a 3-1 lead early in the second only to see Montreal respond with four straight goals. But Toronto got a fluky goal late in the second and used some power plays to score two more early in the third to take the lead they were able to hold. Had Montreal forced overtime, the point they would have received would have eliminated Toronto, so the win in regulation was especially huge. Now we just have to hope the Devils win tomorrow. Of course, this is for the right to face Buffalo in the first round, a team with the best record in the league, so it could be a shortlived playoff run for the Leafs.

UPDATE: It's Sunday and the Islanders just edged the Devils, 3-2, in a shootout. Jersey opted to rest top goalie Martin Brodeur and played a pretty lifeless game until late in the third, when they scored twice to tie the game, including a John Madden goal with 0.9 seconds left. Jersey backup Scott Clemmensen played decently enough during the game, but in the shootout he looked pretty bad. Fark. So the Leafs are all done, missing the playoffs for the second year in a row by a whisker. Time to root for some other teams. I'd like to see Buffalo run the table. They've got a fun team to watch.

Drop the puck:

  • I'm hoping to get out for a 10-mile run tomorrow morning before we hit church. It's supposed to be in the 20s in the early morning; just what you hope for in April.
  • I know they're important to the overall natural balance of things, but I can't get too worked up about the disappearance of bees in the U.S.
  • The organizers of Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., in June have come out and said they will enforce a new U.S. Track and Field rule banning the use of MP3 players by race participants. The rule is supposed to increase safety by ensuring that runners are more aware of their surroundings. Violators will be disqualified. This rule is actually in place for a lot of races, but I've never seen it enforced. I've worn headphones in just about every race I've ever done and it hasn't affected my ability to run safely. Especially in the case of a marathon, I like to have music to distract my body from the pain it's enduring. As long as you're not blasting it at a ridiculous volume and pay attention to what's going on around you, you're not going to have a problem.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Completely Conspicuous Episode 24: Flying High Again

Following my one-every-other-week schedule, here's the latest episode of CC. Download it directly here (right click and save as) or subscribe to the show and never miss an episode.

And on to the show notes...

Topics:
- The future of air travel: the Airbus A-380
- The return of prime time game shows
- Country music
- College athletes who turn pro
- Outstanding Press Release
- Genius Marketing Move
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - The Sons of Cain
- Dios Malos - Feels Good Being Somebody

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 Ted Leo and the Pharmacists is on the band's new album Living With the Living on Lookout Records; find out more here. The song from Dios Malos is on the band's self-titled album on Vagrant 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 the always excellent 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. Word.

Monday, April 02, 2007

14 Cheerleader Coldfront

Welcome to the work week. Ugh. We've got some seriously dreary weather going on, drizzly and raw. But at least it was nice yesterday when I ran the Great Bay Half Marathon up in Newmarket, NH. I got up there before 10 for the 11 a.m. start, but I had to park more than a mile from the start because there were so many people already there. It was a 10-minute walk to pick up my number and shirt, as well as shirts for five co-workers who had signed up but didn't run for various reasons. By the time I got through the long shirt line and got back to my car, I had 10 minutes to get ready and get back to the start. So I ran back to the start just in time. It was a challenging course, fairly flat for the first five miles or so before the rolling hills kicked in around my old UNH stomping grounds in Durham. The last half of the race was more scenic, along the coast; it reminded me a little of the Around Cape Ann 15-miler I did a few years back on Labor Day (except the hills weren't as brutal yesterday). I kept up a strong pace throughout and finished in 1:43 (a 7:51 pace), a personal best for me. Nice to know that I'm getting better with age: my last marathon (Chicago, 10/22/06, 3:54), 5-miler (Wild Turkey, 11/23/06, 36:39) and this half marathon have all been career bests for me.

I have to note that although the start was rather chaotic, the Great Bay course was beautiful and well-marked, there were plenty of volunteers along the course, and the postrace spread was superb: pizza, soup, chili, and lots of munchies. And they gave out tech shirts. I will run it again next year.

Huzzah for the shopkeep:
  • The Jays started the baseball season off on a good foot today with a 5-3 win over the Tigers. Meanwhile, the Sox were smoked 7-1 by the Royals and the Yankees beat the Devil Rays. It's good to have baseball back.
  • The Leafs are down to their last three games of the season this week, and they're still a point out of the playoffs. The Rangers kicked their butts last night, 7-2; that was painful to watch. But they've still got a shot, so this week will be interesting. For me, anyway.
  • In the market for a talking car? KITT's for sale.
  • I'm getting psyched for the return of some of my favorite shows this week: The Sopranos, The Shield and Entourage all begin new seasons.