Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Completely Conspicuous Episode 42: Here Comes Sickness

Here's another episode of podcasty goodness for ya. If you're not subscribed, you can download it here (right click and "save as").

Show notes...

Topics:
- The spread of the MRSA superbug
- The connection between sports success and self-esteem
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Thurston Moore - Frozen Gtr
- Ray Davies - Vietnam Cowboys
- Ween - Your Party
- Iron and Wine - Innocent Bones
- The Bottle Rockets - Mountain to Climb

Promo:
- New England Podcasting. Find out more at http://www.newenglandpodcasting.com/

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

The song from Ray Davies is on his new album Working Man's Cafe on V2 Music; find out more here. And you can download the track for free here. The Iron and Wine song is on the new album The Shepherd's Dog and courtesy of Sub Pop Records.

The song from The Bottle Rockets is on the album Zoysia and courtesy of Bloodshot Records; find out more here. The song by Thurston Moore is on the new album Trees Outside the Academy on Ecstatic Peace Records; find out more here. And the Ween song is on their album La Cucaracha; find out more here. Those two songs were provided by IODA Promonet.

Trees Outside the AcademyThurston
"Frozen Gtr" (mp3)
from "Trees Outside the Academy"
(Ecstatic Peace)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at Napster
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More On This Album



La CucarachaWeen
"Your Party" (mp3)
from "La Cucaracha"
(Rounder Records)

Buy at Rounder Store
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 at http://jbreitling.blogspot.com/. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of Mark Campbell; find out more at http://www.icompositions.com/artists/Boris_the_Bull.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Something On

Today was a strange one. Due to a transformer problem that fried the servers at my company, some of us were unable to connect to the Internet or our email all day. It was pretty random, but the problem was still unresolved when I left work. It's amazing how dependent we are on our computers, especially at work. All my contacts are in my Outlook folders. Other than a meeting I had to attend, I spent much of the day cleaning my office (which certainly needed it). Hopefully things will get back to normal tomorrow.

I had a busy weekend. On Saturday, after getting an 8-mile run in, I took Hannah to her final soccer session of the fall. It rained pretty hard, but the kids didn't seem to mind. I got drenched, though. After that, I ran some errands and then went to the Pumpkin Fair fundraiser at Hannah's school, where I volunteered to help out with one of the games. Caught a quick nap afterwards and then headed out to see the Tragically Hip play at the Orpheum. It was an excellent show, with lead singer Gord Downie particularly fired up. They had swung through town back in April to promote their latest album; this time around, they played a lot of older favorites. The place was pretty packed with Canucks and other Hip aficionados; an impressive showing given the fact that the Red Sox were playing Game 3 of the World Series. I was able to get home in time to catch the last two hours of the game, as well as watch the Leafs-Rangers game on TiVo. I was up until 1 a.m.

On Sunday, I took the girls up to my mom's condo complex, where they had a Halloween party for residents' grandkids. The girls had a blast. We got home around 5:30 and I watched the Patriots obliterate yet another opponent, pasting Washington 52-7. Then we watched the Red Sox sweep Colorado to win the World Series. I went to bed around 12:30, but Deb stayed up to bask in the glory and watch some of the on-field celebration. Sports fans have it pretty good around here right now.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Shape is in a Trance

Man, this week flew by. I got back into a regular running routine, doing three 5-milers. I also played hockey Wednesday night for the first time in three weeks. Unfortunately, it was also game 1 of the World Series, so most of the guys stayed home. We ended up with four-on-four with no subs the whole night; I was dying out there. Good skate, though. I had a goal and four assists, although I think I had six or seven breakaways that were foiled.

Yesterday, my company held its annual Halloween event for employees' kids, so the girls were able to break out their costumes early and brought home a ton of candy. I believe for the first time in the 10 years or so that I've been there, I didn't wear a costume. I tried to think of something at the last minute, but nothing really jumped out at me. Driving to work this morning, I decided on a whim to go cold turkey on the candy and soda for a while. I certainly picked a tough time of year to do that, especially with all the candy floating around at work and in the house today. But I managed to survive for one day, anyway.

Another crazy thing I decided to do was participate in the National Novel Writing Month, which challenges participants to write a 50,000-word novel from November 1-30. One reason it's nuts for me to attempt is that I haven't done any real fiction writing since college; another is I have hardly any time as it is to fit all my interests in. I fully expect not to get 50,000 words (the equivalent of 175 pages) done next month, but I'm gonna try, dammit. The coolest part of NaNoWriMo is it forces you to just write; the organizers really stress quantity, not quality. So we'll see what happens. I already have the bare bones of an idea that I started working up several months ago, so I'll try to set aside some time every day to plug away at it. I don't have any grand designs other than to write something; I may be the only person who ever reads it. But that's okay with me.

I added a new collection of links (La Musica de la Rock) in the righthand column for bands/artists I know and love, so check 'em out. Included is the new Myspace page I created for Bea Arthur's Revenge, a band that was formed to play a single gig at my buddy Bob's house back in early 1999. There are also links for Doobs, who recently posted some great new music he recorded on his own; The Toastmen, Briggy's old Keene State College band that has been rehearsing for a few reunion shows in the hopefully near future; Me and Boris the Bull, which is the musical alter ego of Mark Campbell; and The Molenes, my friend Andrew's excellent alt-country act out of Portsmouth. Dig it!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Completely Conspicuous Episode 41: Word to Your Moms, I Came to Drop Bombs

At long last, another episode of CompCon. Hey, I've been busy, what with the traveling and the concerts and the drinking and the watching of sports. At any rate, you can download it directly here (right click and "save as").

You want show notes? You got it, all star.

Topics:
- The positive power of profanity
- The impending Hollywood writers strike
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Flight of the Conchords - Business Time
- Frightened Rabbit - Be Less Rude
- Fancey - Fader
- Band of Horses - Is There a Ghost
- The Black Angels - The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven

Promo:
- New England Podcasting. Find out more here.

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

The song from Flight of the Conchords is from the EP The Distant Future; find out more here. The Band of Horses song is on their new album Cease to Begin; find out more here. Both songs are courtesy of Sub Pop Records, where you can find out more as well as direct download links for each song.

The song from Frightened Rabbit is on the album Sing the Greys on Fat Cat Records; find out more here. The song by Fancey is on the new album Schmancey on What Are Records; find out more here. And the Black Angels song is on their album Passover; find out more here. Those three songs were provided by IODA Promonet.

Sing the GreysFrightened Rabbit
"Be Less Rude" (mp3)
from "Sing the Greys"
(Fat Cat Records)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
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Stream from Rhapsody
More On This Album



SchmanceyFancey
"Fader" (mp3)
from "Schmancey"
(What Are Records)

More On This Album



PassoverThe Black Angels
"The Sniper At The Gates Of Heaven" (mp3)
from "Passover"
(Light In The Attic)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at eMusic
Buy at Rhapsody
Buy at Napster
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at GroupieTunes
Buy at Insound
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 at his muy excellente music blog. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of Mark Campbell; find out more here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

You Got Yr Cherry Bomb

I'm in a good mood now because I just watched the Leafs actually win a game; meanwhile, Deb's stressing out because the Sox are fighting for their playoff lives against the Indians.

After a couple of days with extremely sore legs after the marathon, I felt really good this morning. I ran 3.5 miles yesterday and it was a struggle, but I'm glad I did it. My legs didn't feel so great later in the evening when I met OJ and his buddy Jeff to see Spoon at the Roxy; standing for about two hours was probably the last thing I needed. But the show itself was excellent, with Spoon playing a fine set of songs spanning their career but highlighting their latest release, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. The show was kind of strange because the Roxy holds 1,300 for concerts, but was only allowed to admit 775 as punishment from the city of Boston for some fights that had broken out there in the past. I wasn't complaining, though, because it left a lot more room than usual. But my feet were killing me by the end of the night.

By the way, my daughters love this unofficial Spoon video.

Tomorrow will be fun because I'll be meeting my former Webnoize co-workers for some fine Southern cuisine at Redbones in Davis Square. Muy delicioso! Then on Saturday, we head off to Deb's alma mater, Springfield College, for Homecoming. I haven't gone to UNH's Homecoming in 12 years, although I did run the Homecoming 5K in 2001.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Running Free

Well, I'm happy to say that I ran the Baystate Marathon this morning and beat my previous best time (set in Chicago last fall) by eight minutes. The forecast all week was for sunny but cool temps today and it was dead on. I got up at 5:40, got dressed, had a quick bowl of cereal and was on the road by 6:20. I got to downtown Lowell by 7 and hung out at Tsongas Arena until about 8, when I headed over to the start line. It was 45 degrees out, which was great. I had originally planned to try and keep an 8:45 per mile pace for the whole race, which would have brought me in at 3:50, my goal. But I got into a comfortable groove doing 8-minute miles and stuck with that for about 15 miles. I slowed down to 9-minute miles for a while and then picked it up again for the last six miles or so.

My right calf had been bothering me the last few weeks and I really worked on it a lot in the last couple of days, but it was never a problem during the race. I had some small issues with my left ankle and the occasional side stitch, but nothing serious. I was really psyched that I felt good enough to push myself harder the last few miles and finish strong.

The race is two loops through Lowell and Tyngsboro, ending up by bringing runners into LeLacheur Park (home of the Lowell Spinners baseball team) and around the warning track before getting to the finish line. My final time was 3:46:42; I probably would have broken 3:45 if I didn't have to use a porta-potty around mile 4 (too much liquid before the race, I guess).

There was a strong headwind for a bunch of the race and there are way more hills on this primarily flat course than in Chicago, but they didn't slow me down. My friends Steve and Molly surprised me by driving by and cheering me on around mile 10 and then at several other points before meeting me at the finish; that was very cool.

I was very impressed with the race organization, especially for a race with only 717 runners (782 ran the half-marathon). The post-race spread was great: hot soup, biscuits, fruit, candy bars. I stuffed my face before leaving. A photographer for the Lowell Sun newspaper took my photo while I was in the food line and asked me for my name, so I might be in the paper tomorrow. It'll probably be pretty hideous because I had some serious dried sweat all over my face. Oh, well.

I came home and celebrated by watching the Patriots kick some Dallas butt, which is always nice to see. I'm pretty sore, but not that bad. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. It'll be nice to get back into my regular routine of three 5-milers during the week and a long run on the weekend of 7-10 miles. But I won't do much this week.

As for my next marathon, I'm toying with the idea of running Boston next spring, but I might opt for something flatter to see if I can improve on my PR. For now, I'll just bask in the afterglow of this race.

Gimme some bullets:
  • Friday night, I headed into Boston to catch Queens of the Stone Age at the Orpheum. Met up with my friend Rob and we skipped the first band because they sucked out loud (they were so bad I didn't even bother to find out their name). But the second act, the Black Angels, were excellent with some serious psychedelic drone rock, and the headliners kicked butt as usual. We were up in the balcony and everyone stood for the whole set, so it was hard to see everything on stage; I was only able to see frontman Josh Homme by looking between various taller folks in front of me (the curse of being short!). But the band sounded great and were seriously tight. They ended with a killer version of Song for the Dead. Good stuff.
  • Here's a new one: Apparently, this California dentist believes rubbing the breasts of female patients is a viable medical technique. Stay classy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Let Them Knock

Hola. Just chillin' on a Thursday night after watching the Leafs thoroughly stomp the Islanders, 8-1, only two nights after having the same thing done to them by Carolina. Congrats to Mats Sundin, who scored to simultaneously break Darryl Sittler's records for most goals (now 390) and most points (now 917). Sittler was my favorite player growing up, but if anyone had to break his records, I'm glad it was Sundin. I'd love to see Sundin win a Cup in Toronto, but I just don't see it happening any time soon.

A little more than two days to my marathon. This has been a light week for running, as you can imagine. I did five miles worth of speedwork on Tuesday and was going to run a final three-miler today, but I had too much work to do. I'll get out tomorrow at lunch. The forecast for Sunday right now is calling for clear skies and temps in the 40s at the start, with a high of 60. I'll take it.

An itemized list:
  • The fallout from the Chicago Marathon fiasco continues, with city officials worrying about the impact on the city's bid to host the Olympics. In addition, some wonder if the race has gotten too big and others say the marathon should adopt minimum qualifying requirements like Boston does (although Boston allows charity runners to race without meeting the qualifying times. How do you think I was able to do it twice?). They added 5,000 more entrants this year to bring the total to 45,000, although 10,000 never even showed up because of the weather. All I know is last year, it was a great race and well-organized, but that was under ideal conditions. They need to cut the number of entrants by 5,000-10,000 and get the thing to a manageable size. And maybe get some more water.
  • Radiohead has made quite a splash by releasing their new album, In Rainbows, digitally and allowing fans to pay however little or much they wish for it. I ordered it and gave them 5 pounds (or about $11) for it, and I'm happy with it; it's an excellent album. But some folks are whining because the MP3s are lower-quality than expected. They're 160 kbps, which is higher than iTunes' standard 128 kbps, but not as high as people would like. The highest-possible compression rate is 320 kbps, which is not quite CD-quality. But the way I see it, 160 kbps is fine, especially since you could have downloaded the tracks essentially for free if you wanted (the minimum would be the transaction fee, which is about 92 cents). For listening on an iPod or even through computer speakers or in my car, I have no problems with it. The album will be out on CD in December if people want a better sonic experience. I'm happy I was able to get the new album early. Nuff said.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Completely Conspicuous Episode 40: And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

Here's the latest installment of CC, so the day wasn't a total waste. If you're not subscribed, download it directly here (right click and "save as").

Show notes...

Topics:
- The amazing power of t-shirts
- The latest sports steroids controversy
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Electric Eel Shock - Transamerica Ultra Rock
- Les Savy Fav - Patty Lee
- Bad Brains - DC United
- Damone - Revolution
- Controller.Controller - Poison/Safe

Promos:
- The Phedippidations World Wide Half Marathon. Find out more here.
- New England Podcasting. Find out more here.

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

The song from Les Savy Fav is from the album Let's Stay Friends on French Kiss Records; find out more here. It was provided by the Podsafe Music Network.

The song from Electric Eel Shock is on the album Transworld Ultra Rock on Double Peace Records; find out more here. The song by Bad Brains and Damone are on the album adidas/MLS Represent--Rock the Pitch, which pairs up each Major League Soccer team with hometown artists to record team anthems; find out more here. And the Controller.Controller song is on their album X-Amounts; find out more here. Those four songs were provided by IODA Promonet.

Transworld Ultra RockElectric Eel Shock
"Transamerica Ultra Rock" (mp3)
from "Transworld Ultra Rock"
(Double Peace Records)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
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More On This Album



adidas / MLS Represent - Rock The PitchBad Brains
"D.C. United" (mp3)
from "adidas / MLS Represent - Rock The Pitch"
(Adidas/MLS)

More On This Album



adidas / MLS Represent - Rock The PitchDamone
"Revolution!" (mp3)
from "adidas / MLS Represent - Rock The Pitch"
(Adidas/MLS)

More On This Album



X-AmountsController.Controller
"Poison/Safe" (mp3)
from "X-Amounts"
(Paper Bag Records)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at eMusic
Buy at Rhapsody
Buy at Napster
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at GroupieTunes
Buy at DownloadPunk
Buy at Insound
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 at http://jbreitling.blogspot.com/. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of Mark Campbell; find out more at http://www.icompositions.com/artists/Boris_the_Bull.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.