Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Go for the Exit

Man, 2008 was a real beeyotch of a year. I'm glad to see it go. But although it was a tough year for the world, it was a pretty good year for music, at least the music I was listening to. So here are my favorite 15 albums (yes, I still listen to albums) of 2008:

1. The Gutter Twins--Saturnalia
I was already a huge fan of Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan through their previous work apart and together in the Twilight Singers, so I knew this was gonna be good. I wasn't disappointed. A dark, brooding masterpiece featuring two of the greatest rock singers of their generation.
Video: All Misery/Flowers

2. King Khan and the Shrines--The Supreme Genius of...
This compilation of King Khan's European releases showcases the in-your-face garage rock/R&B/soul stylings of this crazy Canadian-born Indian dude now living in Germany. A real kick in the pants, this album will liven up the dullest of shindigs.
Video: Welfare Bread (live)

3. The Hold Steady--Stay Positive
The Hold Steady's fourth album is another solid effort, adding to their Springsteen-meets-Thin Lizzy sound with bigger production and more instrumentation. But at the heart of it all, the band still kicks butt, especially on rockers like the title track, "Constructive Summer" and "Slapped Actress."
Video: Stay Positive

4. Black Mountain--In the Future
These Canucks took stoner rock to new heights with this mix of '70s hard rock and indie attitude. At times very heavy, at other times very trippy, at all times very cool.
Video: Tyrants (live)

5. Ladyhawk--Shots
Another group of Western Canadians who kept things interesting in '08 with this collection of Stonesy rockers. Ladyhawk has a raw, rootsy sound that rewards after continued listens. My only regret is I never caught them live this year.
Video: I Don't Always Know What You're Saying (live)

6. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks--Real Emotional Trash
The former Pavement frontman delivers his best solo effort yet with a series of full-on rambling jams that feature his sly lyrics and ridiculously good guitar solos and Janet Weiss' powerhouse drumming. This is not Slanted and Enchanted 2, but that's okay.
Video: Baltimore (live)

7. Sloan--Parallel Play
More power pop goodness from Sloan, albeit a tad stripped down from their previous effort, the 30-song opus Never Hear the End of It. As always, all four band members contribute memorable songs, but the prime cuts this time around are Jay Ferguson's '70s AM radio homages "Cheap Champagne" and "Witch's Wand."
Video: Witch's Wand (live)

8. TV On the Radio--Dear Science
While not as powerful as their previous album, Return to Cookie Mountain, TVOTR's latest is still an excellent effort that veers more toward the dance-rock side of the ledger. Without a doubt, one of the best bands of our time.
Video: Dancing Choose (live on Letterman)

9. Dead Meadow--Old Growth
Dead Meadow moves into a mellower stoner rock space on this album, going for more of a mid-70s Neil Young groove instead of Sabbath. Another excellent guitar album, just quieter.
Video: What Needs Must Be

10. Drive-By Truckers--Brighter Than Creation's Dark
A 19-song effort encompassing all of this band's stylistic moods: rockers, bluesy numbers, quieter old-school country. Although Jason Isbell's contributions are missed, this is still a fine and rewarding album.
Video: That Man I Shot (live)

11. The Raconteurs--Consolers of the Lonely
Jack White and Brendan Benson turn this band into more than a side project, as this second effort amps up the energy from the band's debut. Great songs delivered by a bunch of guys who sound like they're having a blast.
Video: Salute Your Solution (live on Jools Holland)

12. The Raveonettes--Lust Lust Lust
A sublime mix of girl-group vocals with distortion that harks back to the Jesus and Mary Chain and one-ups it. Great stuff.
Video: Aly, Walk With Me

13. Eagles of Death Metal--Heart On
Jesse Hughes and boys deliver one of the most fun albums of the year. Just pure, silly sleaze-rock that's guaranteed to make you smile while you rock out.
Video: Heart On (live)

14. Frightened Rabbit--The Midnight Organ Fight
This is a bristling, emotional, intense album from the Scottish indie-pop act. Gets better with each listen.
Video: Head Rolls Off

15. MIA--Kala
Yeah, I know this came out in 2007, but I didn't pick it up until after Christmas last year, well after the music bloggers went gaga over it but well before MIA had a huge smash hit with the Clash-sampling "Paper Planes" after the song was used in trailer for the movie Pineapple Express.
Video: Paper Planes

On the bubble: The Kills--Midnight Boom; Fiery Furnaces--Widow City; Centro-Matic/South San Gabriel--Dual Hawks; Destroyer--Trouble in Dreams; Santogold--s/t; Elvis Costello and the Impostors--Momofuku; Julie Ocean--Long Gone and Nearly There; Jay Reatard--Matador Singles '08; Okkervil River--The Stand Ins; The Night Marchers--See You in Magic; The Dirtbombs--We Have You Surrounded; REM--Accelerate; Black Francis--Svn Fngrs; Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds--Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Today's Lesson

Back in the Bay State after a long weekend down in New Jersey. We got down to Matt and Tricia's place Friday afternoon. They got the boys a Wii for Christmas and holy crap, is that thing a ton of fun. I played baseball, bowling, boxing and even some crazy cow racing game. The boxing game is especially interesting, because you're literally throwing punches like a real boxer. Matt and I battled and I eventually knocked him out, but not before working up a serious sweat; my shoulders and traps were really sore about 36 hours later, too. Deb, who's no gamer by any stretch of the imagination, thoroughly enjoyed the Wii, too. We're not buying one any time soon, but maybe someday.

Friday night ended up being quite the drunken affair. Our friends Pete and Sheera and their kids came over, so we got some pizza and beer. Matt, Pete and I went over to another little shindig not too far away at Joe's place; turns out a woman I knew from my UNH days married one of Joe's best friends and was in town. So we had a few beers over there and Pete, a fellow Torontonian, and I watched a little of the Leafs-Islanders game. We went back to Matt's and kept imbimbing. The kids were put to bed late. I didn't stay up too much later, but woke up with a nasty headache at 6, popped a few Tylenol Extra Strengths and went back to sleep. Thankfully, I don't drink like that much anymore. Got up at 9 and went for a run with Joe; the hills around there beat the hell out of me, but that was good. I ended up doing 9.5 miles. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, playing some Wii and reading mainly.

Yesterday, we took the kids into New York City to check out the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and skating rink; it was pretty fun, although not quite as Christmas-like since it was 60 degrees out. We took a ferry over from NJ. We kept a tight grip on the kids as we made our way through the crowds in Times Square and visited the M&M store and a big Toys R Us. We had a delicious Southern food lunch at Virgil's; I had some excellent beef brisket and sides. We made it back to Matt's by 3 and watched the DVR'd Patriots-Bills game, which was a must-win for New England. We had successfully observed a media blackout and were able to fast-forward through the commercials and enjoy the Pats' 13-0 win in blustery Buffalo conditions. Now the Jets had to beat the Dolphins or the Jags beat the Ravens for the Pats to make the playoffs, despite the fact they finished the season with an 11-5 record. Unfortunately, Brett Favre decided to be Brett Favre and threw interceptions left and right, resulting in a Miami victory. Baltimore steamrolled the Jags, and the Pats were left out of the playoff picture, after battling through season-ending injuries to Tom Brady, Adalius Thomas, Rodney Harrison, Laurence Maroney and many others. Ridiculous.

We got back this afternoon and I went for a 6-mile run that was only marred by the fact I ate a ham sandwich while driving home a few hours earlier; the exertion left me with quite the case of indigestion. But at least I got the run in.

Back to work tomorrow, albeit for another three-day week because of New Year's.

Assorted collections of words:
  • Note to tourists visiting Dubai: If you're going to hook up with someone, don't do it on the beach. This British businessman found out the hard way that they frown on that kinda stuff there.
  • More sad news about Alexei Cherepanov, the 19-year-old NY Rangers prospect who died in Russia after collapsing on the bench during a game. In addition to having a heart condition, Cherepanov had been blood doping, according to Russian authorities. Of course, it didn't help matters that the emergency response after his collapse was horrendous. Just a bummer all around.
  • Think about this story the next time you chatter incessantly during a movie: Some wacko might just shoot you.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Needle and the Damage Done

Merry Christmas! Well, it's a new record: Deb had the tree stripped of lights and ornaments and ready to be taken out to the curb by 7:30 p.m. tonight. In her defense, while our tree looked good, it was drier than the Sahara. The thing would drop 100 needles if you so much as looked at it. We're heading down to Joisey tomorrow morning, so Deb wanted to have the tree out of our living room before we left and I can't say I blame her. There were piles of needles all along the path I took to take the tree out. We waited until the kids were in bed before we did it; they will undoubtedly be bummed in the a.m. when they find the tree gone.

So I got out of work at 2 yesterday and finished my shopping soon afterward, picking up a few books for Deb. I steered well clear of any of the local malls, which were mobbed all week after the snowstorms last weekend left a lot of people stuck in their homes. We hit our church's Christmas service and then had dinner before tucking our fired-up girls into bed. I have to say it's a lot of fun to see how worked up they get over Santa's impending arrival, tracking him online on the NORAD site. It'll be a sad day when they finally wise up, but I'll never blow it. That kind of innocence is just way too precious these days. I don't remember exactly when I realized the truth, but I'm thinking somebody at school told me. And then I found the presents my mom had hidden in a closet. But I wasn't crushed, because I was still getting some sweet presents.

The girls were up early and rousted me around 7. We had breakfast before getting into the presents. Hannah got a digital camera, both girls got scooters and new helmets, both got Leapster handheld games, and tons of other stuff. I got some new books (Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates and Chuck Klosterman's Downtown Owl); a new CD, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' Dig Lazarus Dig!; some gift certificates for the local running store and a bookstore; clothes; and a grill light to aid me with winter grilling in our dark backyard.

I went for a 5-mile run, my first outdoor run in about 10 days. A lot of the snow has melted, but there's still plenty on the sidewalks so I ran mostly in the road. I've got another 10 days before my Boston Marathon training program begins.

We went up to visit my mom in NH for the afternoon. She's getting ready to leave next month on a three-month trip to India. I'll be checking in on her condo from time to time to make sure everything's hunky dory while she's gone.

Ho ho huh?
  • Christmas wasn't so merry at a party in Covina, California, where a psycho walked in dressed as Santa and started shooting the place up before setting the house on fire. Apparently it was the family of his ex-wife, and six people were left dead. He ended up killing himself later. Damn.
  • So the Yankees signed friggin' Mark Teixeira this week, bringing their offseason free agent total to $423 million in contracts so far. MLB is such a joke right now. There are a handful of teams in the mix for big-name free agents (Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Dodgers, etc.) while everyone else just hopes their prospects can pick up the slack before they get good and leave. The Jays are at least being honest with their fans; GM JP Ricciardi says they won't sign anyone.
  • After it seemed to be on the wane for a few years, fighting is on the rise again in the NHL, up 15% over last season and 75% over three years ago. I'm an old-school hockey fan; I think fighting has its place in the game. By the same token, I don't want to see endless brawling, either. There was plenty of that in the '70s and it was ridiculous. But a good scrap every now and then can fire up both a team and a crowd. There's no denying that.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Completely Conspicuous Episode 68: Face to Face

Here's the last episode of CompCon of the year. Download it directly here (right click and "save as") or click here to listen to it in streaming audio.

The show notes...

Topics:
- The addictive lure of Facebook
- When an artist you love starts to suck
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- A.C. Newman - Submarines of Stockholm
- The Moondoggies - Changing
- Broken Social Scene - Swimmers
- Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal

Promo:
- New England Podcasting.

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

The A.C. Newman song is on the upcoming album Get Guilty on Matador Records, where you can find out more at and download the track.

The Moondoggies song is on the album Don't Be a Stranger; the Fleet Foxes song is on their self-titled album. Both songs are courtesy of Sub Pop Records, where you can find out more and download the tracks.

The Broken Social Scene song is on their self-titled album on Arts and Crafts Records. The song was provided by IODA Promonet:

Broken Social SceneBroken Social Scene
"Swimmers" (mp3)
from "Broken Social Scene"
(Arts & Crafts)

Buy at Rhapsody
Buy at Napster
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at Amazon MP3
Buy at mTraks
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 fine music blog. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of Mark Campbell.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lucky Number

I got some good news on Monday: My running club gave me one of the six Boston Marathon numbers it has for 2009. Every year, the club provides volunteers to work the mile 12 water stop. We had 11 folks apply for the six numbers, so I was happy that they chose me to receive one of them. I ran Boston in '02 and '03; my goal this time around is more modest than my recent marathons. I'd be happy to break 4 hours on that brutal course. My training starts in January.

Speaking of running, my fifth running column ran today. This time around, I examine treadmill running, a necessary evil this time of year.

I joined a bunch of my buddies Tuesday night at the Midwest Grill in Cambridge for some all-you-can-eat Brazilian BBQ. Great food, but it leaves you absolutely stuffed at the end of the meal. I hadn't been there in a few years, so it was fun to go again. They've actually opened a second restaurant on Route 1 in Saugus, but I prefer to go to the original.

I'm working a half day tomorrow because we're expecting the first real snowstorm of the season to hit in the afternoon and I don't want to have a repeat of last December's horrendous traffic debacle. The snow is supposed to start in the afternoon, so I plan to head home early and work the rest of the day from the comfort of the house. I've seen forecasts of 6-10 inches or more, with another storm expected on Sunday night. Well, at least we'll have a white Christmas.

Snowballs:
  • The seemingly neverending Mats Sundin saga is mercifully over: He signed with Vancouver today. The 'Nucks actually made him a two-year, $20 million offer during the offseason, but for some reason it took him until now to decide to accept it (although the story says it was a one-year deal). It had come down to Vancouver and the Rangers, although the Rangers would have had to trade somebody to fit him under the salary cap. Despite this annoying indecision of the last few months, he's still one of my favorite players and I hope he does well for Vancouver.
  • The story of the jackass who sued a dry cleaner for $54 million over a missing pair of pants is back in the news again: An appeals court denied the moron's appeal of a decision throwing out his 2005 lawsuit. It would not surprise me if he tried to take it to the Supreme Court. Unbelievable.
  • So apparently the only job that's profitable these days is that of Somalian pirate. Who knew?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Something to Believe

We're creeping closer to Christmas. Better start my shopping soon, huh?

It was a long weekend. Not in terms of days, but activity. On Friday morning, I got a call from my mother, who told that her condo building in Hampton, NH, had been without power since the previous night. While we were soaked with rain near the coast Thursday and Friday, north and west of 495 were slammed by an ice storm that knocked out power in parts of Massachusetts and much of New Hampshire. With temps dropping down to the teens Friday night and no end in sight to the outage, I didn't want my mom to have to stay in a cold apartment, so I drove up and brought her home. It was pretty creepy once I took the exit off Route 101: the only light was provided by the full moon. Her complex had a generator and had lights in the hallways and in their first floor lounge, where a bunch of folks including my mom had dinner and were playing cards and other games. We got back here around 9. On Saturday, we went to Hannah's soccer game and then she decided she wanted to head back up to her place, so I took her home at 3. As it turned out, the power in her building was back by 5 or so, but it's still out for a lot of folks in both MA and NH.

I went to the holiday party for my running club last night, armed with appetizers that Deb made. It was a good time. Still waiting to hear who gets the six Boston Marathon numbers that the club gets for volunteering at the marathon every year. I put my name in the hat a few weeks ago. A committee is going through the applicants and is supposed to make its selections today, although as of this writing I still hadn't heard anything.

We went to a holiday party this afternoon hosted by some friends a few streets over. It was a good time, although I ate way too much. Can't wait until all the holiday tempation is removed; there's just too much good stuff to eat these days.

Jingle all the way:
  • Well, the George W. Bush farewell tour isn't going so well. An Iraqi journalist threw both his shoes at Bush at a press conference today. But give Dubya credit: He was able to duck out of the way of both of them.
  • If you don't think Major League Baseball needs a salary cap, consider this: After spending $240 million on deals for pitchers CC Sabathia (who basically was paid $2 million per pound) and AJ Burnett, the New York Yankees are now eyeing big-name free agent sluggers Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez. Of course, there are other suitors for those players, like the Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, LA Dodgers. But there are plenty of other teams (my Blue Jays included) who are feeling the financial crunch and are going in the other direction. The Jays' big signing so far? Matt Clement. It's going to be another ugly season, I'm afraid. After having the top pitching staff in the league last season, the Jays lost their number 2 starter (Burnett) and have two of their top four pitchers (Dustin McGowan and Shawn Marcum) recovering from major arm surgery. In addition, the Canadian dollar has dropped back down to its customary weak position, so the team has had to lay off staff. I don't expect any major free agent pickups this offseason. My only hope is that the Yankees' acquisitions wilt under the NYC spotlight and they continue to miss out on the brass ring as they have for the last seven years.
  • So the Sean Avery era in Dallas is over. Yeah, the guy's a bozo, but did he really deserve to have his career derailed over yet another stupid comment? Seems kinda harsh to me. The guy's made a career out of being an a-hole and it made him an effective irritant on and off the ice. But I've seen guys commit much worse acts on the ice (Todd Bertuzzi, anyone?) and still maintain well-paid careers in the league.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

This Time You Got It

Okay, okay, NOW I'm in the holiday spirit. As I predicted last week, Deb took one look at the unpacked fake tree and conceded that we need to get a real one. So now we have a nice, real Christmas tree in the living room. The girls and I decorated it on Saturday afternoon and it looks pretty sweet.

The Mill Cities Relay went well on Sunday. It snowed, but fortunately not too hard and not enough to make the footing treacherous. It was cold standing around waiting for the baton, but once I got going, I was fine. My leg was 9.5 miles and fortunately my injured didn't bother me at all. I ran at a 7:30/mile pace and felt good. My team finished 144th out of 182 teams, but what the hey.

Man, it was crazy cold yesterday. I took Hannah out to the bus stop in the morning and it was about 11 degrees. Fortunately, we didn't have to wait long for the bus. Today was a little warmer, in the 30s, but tomorrow it could reach 60. Weird.

Gleep glorp:
  • I admit it, Facebook is like InterWeb crack. Totally addictive. But a student who was disciplined for creating an FB group criticizing a teacher has now sued her old principal. Next up, you'll see lawsuits over defamatory status messages.
  • Happy 40th birthday, computer mouse. You don't look a day over 28.
  • Stay classy, Syracuse fans. Yeesh.
  • Don't know if you've been following the travails of Rinku and Dinesh, the two Indian kids who won a contest and recently signed tryout contracts to pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it's great stuff. And not just in the "make fun of the immigrants" vein; it's a compelling tale. But there's also some of that other stuff, too.
  • Burger King is embracing the power of publicity with its "Burger Virgins" campaign, in which folks in Thailand, Greenland and Romania who have never heard of hamburgers are given Whoppers to try. With wacky results. The campaign has drawn fire from nutritionists, who say the "virgins" are better off not eating the non-nutritious food and from folks who say the ads essentially make fun of foreigners. Me, I liked BK's "Coq Roq" campaign better.
  • Things are changing in the world of late night: Jay Leno's moving to prime time, Conan's taking over Leno's spot, and Jimmy Fallon is moving into the 12:30 slot on NBC. Fallon debuts in March and yesterday posted his first "vlog" (God, I hate that word) entry taking a behind-the-scenes look at the show. It's pretty short and kinda gave me a headache from the stupid shaky camerawork, but at least his house band is cool: The Roots. The Leno move is interesting because it appeared he would initially go to ABC or Fox to continue doing an 11:30 talk show, but instead he will do a 10 p.m. show five nights a week. It's a fairly unprecedented move for a major network to have the same show on every night during prime time. Apparently, NBC offered a similar show to Letterman a few years ago and he turned it down. It'll be fun to see how it plays out and whether people stick with it or get bored after a while.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Completely Conspicuous Episode 67: Shop Til You Drop

Damn, I was hoping to do this last weekend, but just didn't have the time. And then this week was busy, so here we are on Friday. But a new episode of the podcast is hot out of the oven, so download it directly here (right click and "save as"). Or visit the CompCon page to listen to it in streaming audio.

The show notes...

Topics:
- Black Friday shopping
- The move away from childhood pickup sports
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Jules Mark Shear - I'm Coming Back
- The Stills - Rooibos--Palm Wine Drunkard
- Of Montreal - Id Engager
- Spoon - The Underdog

Promo:
- New England Podcasting.

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

The Of Montreal song is on the album Skeletal Lamping on Polyvinyl Records. The Spoon song is on the album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga on Merge Records. Both songs are courtesy of RCRD LBL.

The Jules Mark Shear song is on his new album More on Funzalo Records. The song from The Stills is on the album Oceans Will Rise on Arts and Crafts Records. Both songs are courtesy were provided by IODA Promonet:

More.Jules Mark Shear
"I'm Coming Back" (mp3)
from "More."
(Funzalo Records)

More On This Album



Oceans Will RiseThe Stills
"Rooibos - Palm Wine Drinkard" (mp3)
from "Oceans Will Rise"
(Arts & Crafts)

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 superb music blog. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Skeletal History

Man, December is here and streets is a mutha. I'm so busy with work right now, it's ridiculous. Lots of deadlines converging in the next few days. I've had about 40 ounces of Coke today, which is about 28 more than I usually have in a two-week period. Played hockey last night, the first night it moved to the hated 10:30 start time because Lynn English has the ice before us, so I didn't get home until 1. I didn't hit the wall today, but I definitely felt like I was in slow motion at times. Not good when you need to use your brain for stuff. The skate itself was fun, although we had fewer guys and I was sucking wind because I hadn't played in three weeks. I also think I aggravated a case of turf toe that I acquired during the marathon; my big right toe was bothering me throughout the race and has been sore on occasion since then. My sneakers seem to push down on the sore spot, and my skate did the same thing last night. So when I attempted to go for a run today, it hurt so bad I ended up not even going. Figured I'd give it a rest. I need to run a 9.5-mile leg in the Mill Cities Relay on Sunday and skipping it isn't an option, so I'll try again tomorrow and see how it feels.

Speaking of running, my latest column for the Salem News ran today, this time focusing on cross-training. I actually had a typewritten letter show up for me at the paper the other day from an old guy who took issue with my column on cold weather running. Among other things, he argued that there's no need to wear socks when you run, wool hats are great, and asked what the hell were moisture-wicking fibers. Gotta love fan mail.

Holiday music and decorations are everywhere, including my house, but I'm not feeling it yet. Can't get myself to listen to any of that stuff. Maybe next week. Deb wants us to set up the fake tree we bought last year; she took one look at it then and decided to get a real tree, but apparently she's willing to give it a try. We'll see how it looks. I'd prefer a real tree, having grown up with fake ones the first 15 or so years of my life.

Points of interest:
  • A guy was sentenced today in the wiggity wack case of a 2003 bank robbery in which a pizza deliveryman walked into the bank with a bomb attached around his neck. The pizza guy was in on the plot but apparently didn't realize the bomb was real until it was too late, and then died after it detonated. The mastermind of the plot got 45 years in jail.
  • Gee, Plaxico Burress seemed like such a rational fellow until this week. Memo to self: Don't wear sweatpants when bringing your gun to the club.
  • More classic acapella David Lee Roth vocals, this time from "Hot For Teacher." This stuff is seriously awesome.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nothing Too Much Just Out of Sight

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving. Matt, Tricia and the boys drove up the night before and then Matt, Trish and I started T-Day off by running the Wild Turkey 5-Miler in Salem. I've been battling this chest cold and cough all week, so I wasn't able to run Tuesday. I just wanted to get a decent run in, so I just ran comfortably for the most part and picked it up a little in the last mile, finishing in just under 39 minutes. I felt okay during the run, although my legs tightened up right afterward. Matt and Trish ran together; it was her second road race and first 5-miler and they came in at 52 minutes, about eight minutes faster than they had hoped for. It was a nice morning to run, with temps in the 30s. I saw a lot of folks I knew running.

Afterwards, we had the traditional turkey dinner downstairs at my mother-in-law's, and then headed up to NH later in the afternoon to have dinner with my mom. It was tough to drive after eating all that stuff, and even tougher to drive home. I was exhausted. But it was good to spend time with Mom.

Yesterday, Deb, Tricia and Susan got up at 3:30 and ventured out to do their annual Black Friday shopping. I don't know how they do it every year. They had some horror stories about battling the hordes at Wal-Mart, which was a total zoo. Susan got whacked in the face by a box and it was just chaos. But nothing like the scene in New York, where some poor W-M employee was trampled to death, like a scene out of that Who concert in Cincinnati in '79. Meanwhile, two dudes shot each other to death in a Toys R Us in California. All over holiday shopping. I just don't get it.

Matt and I got out of the house later in the day to see Role Models, the first movie I've seen in a theater in three years. Usually I just rent them from Netflix. The last one I saw (not counting the crappy Veggie Tales movie we took the kids to last year in NJ) was Jarhead. At any rate, Role Models was pretty damn funny. I recommend it.

Leftovers:
  • I'm still in shock over the massive terrorist attacks in Mumbai, where the latest death is 183. I was watching it all unfold on Wednesday night and it was amazing how such a complex plan could be pulled off, with coordinated attacks on 10 different locations. Just insane.
  • The worst-kept secret in hockey finally comes to fruition today when the Leafs announce that Brian Burke is their new GM. He's going to have a huge job to do to turn things around with that team and get it on track to win its first Stanley Cup since the year I was born. And he's going to have to do it under intense media scrutiny. Good luck to him. He's gonna need it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Philadelphia Freedom

Here I sit, two days before Thanksgiving, watching the rain outside and hacking my brains out. But two days ago, I was in Philadelphia running my 10th marathon and freezing my butt off. I finished in 3:52, which is not the sub-3:40 I had hoped for.

We drove down to NJ Friday and stayed at Matt and Tricia's before the four of us headed down to Philly on Saturday; the kids stayed with Tricia's parents and were excited to see "Madagascar 2." We hit Philly, checked in, met up with Deb and Matt's dad Harry and then went to the race expo. It was pretty small compared to the bigger ones, but had the usual vendors and such. We then hung out back at the hotel for a while before meeting Deb, Matt and Tricia's college buddy Chris and his wife Stacy, who was also running the marathon. We had a great meal at an Italian place. It was brutally cold and windy out, so I was rethinking what I'd wear for the race: I settled on wearing a sweatshirt over my technical shirt and old sweatpants over my shorts that I could ditch at some point. Everybody was planning to get a couple of drinks afterward, but Stacy and I both decided to just stay in at our respective hotels and rest up. Besides, I had a chest cold that flared up conveniently on Tuesday and didn't want to make that any worse than it had to be. I went back to the room, drank a lot of water, and watched "The Bourne Ultimatum" until 10, when I went to bed. Deb got back at 11; I had only been asleep for about 20 minutes and had a fitful night of sleep after that, between the coughing and the nervousness.

I got up at 5 and got ready for the 7 a.m. start. I was unable to clear the bomb bays, if you will, which was not a good sign. I was hoping not to have to use a porta potty if I could help it. Matt and I were heading over to Stacy's hotel at 6, where Chris would give us a ride to the start. Matt was running the half marathon, which started at the same time. We could only get within a few blocks before we had to get out and walk the last several; it was bone-chillingly cold. I went to get in line for a porta potty but the line was so long I just decided to get into my corral for the start. I moved up to where the 3:40 pace group was standing and planned to follow them all the way.

The beginning of the race wound its way through some narrow streets before opening up a bit. After the first mile I was already sweating like crazy from the sweatshirt and had planned to give it to Deb when I saw her, but I didn't see her at mile 1 and so kept it on. Saw her at 6 and ditched the sweatshirt and my hat, but kept the pants on because I didn't want to fall too far behind the pace group. I stuck with them but noticed around mile 11 that I was struggling a bit, which was surprising because that shouldn't happen until at least around mile 20. I made the turn at the half and headed out, but mile 14 was a hill and it just killed me. I realized I couldn't keep up with the pace group and stopped to ditch my sweatpants. I started running again and hoped to do the best I could. At mile 15, Stacy caught up to me, ran with me for a bit and then kept going; she ended up finishing in 3:35 and qualifying for Boston.

The sun was out, but it was still pretty damn cold for anyone standing still. At the water stations, all the spilled water froze and made things pretty treacherous for us as we made our way through. I saw a couple of people wipe out.

I kept chugging along and got to Manayunk, which was where the race turned around at mile 20 and headed back toward downtown Philly. As I headed back, I got a side stitch and had to walk a bit. I dealt with those on and off for a few miles before finally feeling okay. Just before mile 24, the 3:50 pace group caught up to me, so I decided to hitch my wagon to them and follow them in. I felt good and with a mile to go, I pushed it and ran ahead to hopefully finish under 3:50. I came in strong but finished at 3:52, which can only lead me to believe that the 3:50 pace dude was behind pace. Oh, well. I was just glad to be done. Caught with Deb, Matt and Tricia afterwards. Matt ended up running a 2:12 in the half.

I just didn't have enough energy to keep up the pace I had hoped to; I really believe I could have broken 3:40. Someday. But the marathon was great and it seemed like a lot of people had PRs this year. I wish we had more time to hang out in Philly; seems like a fun town.

Next up, I'm trying to get a number for Boston in the spring through my running club. I don't expect to set a PR there, not with those hills.

We drove back Sunday night after picking up the kids in NJ, getting home at 9. My cold has gotten worse, but I still have to go to work because I've got too much to do in the next two days before T-giving. Still planning to run the Salem 5-miler on Thursday, too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Completely Conspicuous Episode 66: Midlife Crisis

Somehow three weeks passed by since the last CC, so I wanted to get one done before we headed down to Philly. So here you go, a nearly cough-free episode. Download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:
- The midlife crisis
- Nebraska's controversial safe haven law
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Will Currie & the Country Church and Sloan - Push Pins
- Prima Donna - Demoted
- The Secret Machines - Atomic Heels
- Bloc Party - Price of Gasoline

Promo:
- New England Podcasting.

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

The Will Currie & the Country Church and Sloan song is a one-off single by the two Canadian acts available for free download here.

The Secret Machines song is on their self-titled album on TSM Recordings. The song from Bloc Party is on the album Silent Alarm on Vice Records. Both songs are courtesy of the Podsafe Music Network.

The Prima Donna song is on their new album After Hours on Acetate Records. The song was provided by IODA Promonet:

After HoursPrima Donna
"Demoted" (mp3)
from "After Hours"
(Acetate Records)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at Rhapsody
Buy at Napster
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at Puretracks
Buy at mTraks
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 fine music blog. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of Mark Campbell.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Be Aggressive

Woo hoo! Long weekend time. It's not a traditional long weekend in that most people have to work tomorrow, but I took it off because we're heading down for the Philly Marathon. Actually, we're going to NJ first to stay over at Matt and Tricia's tomorrow night, then leave the kids with Tricia's mom so the four of us can drive to Philly Saturday morning. We'll hit the expo and pick up our race packets (Matt's doing the half) and then get some dinner before calling it a night. The races start at 7 a.m. Sunday, so we're going to have to get up super early to get ready. Temps look like they'll be in the low 40s for a high, which means at the start it should be in the high 20s or low 30s. That's when you wear stuff you can throw away once the race starts.

Physically, I feel pretty good. I did my last pre-marathon run today, 3 miles. Although I was a little bummed when I headed out and my right ankle was bothering me; it actually was because our comforter weighs about 2 metric tons and kinda forced me to sleep with my right foot bent to the side. Not sure how I'm going to deal with that tonight because it's so damn cold up there. At any rate, I walked a little before just making myself run and sure enough, it was fine after about a minute. Other than that, the only other concern is some chest congestion that conveniently showed up two days ago. Hopefully it won't be a full-fledged cough by Sunday; it shouldn't affect my lung capacity too much (knock on skull).

My third running column was published today, this time around focusing on cold weather running, appropriately enough.

What's the frequency, Kenneth?:
  • So gas prices have been dropping like a rock around here. I filled up at $1.95 per gallon in Salem yesterday and I've already seen it for $1.83 at another place. Gas prices are lower than they've been in four years. I wonder if they'll approach the magical dollar mark that they were around in the '90s. Unfortunately, the stock market is plummeting at an even faster rate. It's getting ugly, folks.
  • Apparently, hell has frozen over, because Guns N' Roses' long-awaited "Chinese Democracy" album is coming to Best Buy shelves on Sunday. No, really, it is. I'd heard some of the songs over the last few years when they were leaked online, but today, I listened to the entire album, which is streaming at GNR's Myspace page. On first listen, it was okay, not great. You can definitely hear the kitchen-sink approach Axl took, with a real glossy production and lots of bells and whistles. EW has a nice collection of reviews, which have been mostly positive. But for my money, what Axl should have done was brought back Izzy, Slash and Duff and made another balls-out rocker like Appetite for Destruction, which is one of the greatest hard rock albums ever made. If you've got a little time, check out this excellent and lengthy article on the long, twisted journey that Axl Rose went on while he tried to make this album. Just nuts.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

High Voltage

I spent last night digging my last rock show until '09 (barring a last-minute rock emergency): The Eagles of Death Metal at the Paradise. It took me about 35 minutes to find a parking spot because of the Comics Come Home benefit down the street at Agganis Arena. I met up with Bob and we had a few beverages before checking out the opening band, The Duke Spirit, who were really good. EoDM came on around 10:30 and played for nearly two hours, just ripping it up with their patented brand of sleaze-rock. The show was sold out and we were struck by the near 50-50 split of men and women, which is unusual for most rock shows. Frontman Jesse Hughes was a force (Josh Homme, who is the second half of the band in the studio, doesn't tour with EoDM); the four-piece featured erstwhile Queens of the Stone Age members Dave Catching on guitar and Joey Castillo on drums. They played songs from all three of their albums and threw in a couple of choice covers: "Brown Sugar" by the Stones and "New Rose" by the Damned. No ballads or down-tempo stuff for these guys, just a whole lot of American good rock, as Briggy would say. Got home just before 1:30.

It was a busy day. Hannah had her first indoor soccer game in the morning. They played at Soccer Etc. on the little field. The game's a lot faster indoors, but Hannah had fun. She even played goalie for a little while and did well, but came out when she jammed her finger. It's weird to be in there in the morning; I used to play games there late night about 12 or 13 years ago.

I got my last long run in before the marathon, a fast 8-miler. Then I took Hannah to a classmate's birthday party at Monster Mini-Golf on Route 1 in Danvers. It's like Chuck E. Cheese, but with monsters and mini golf. Total sensory overload: The whole place is glow in the dark, with music cranking, arcade games, kids all over, and of course, mini golf. Hannah had fun. Today, I'm taking both girls to another party on our street. The fun never ends.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cheap Thrills

Happy Saturday. I was really dragging the last couple of days due to lack of sleep, but I'm feeling good now. Last night, I joined Briggy, OJ and Amy, and Lee at the Miracle of Science in Cambridge for our annual Black Friday celebration, marking the 7th year since we were all laid off from Webnoize. It's hard to believe it's been that long, although in some respects it feels like it was even longer ago: During that time, I was commuting into the city, didn't have kids, had just gotten married and bought a house. I started that job before George W. Bush was president. Damn.

Tonight, I'm meeting up with my buddy Bob to see the Eagles of Death Metal at the Paradise. Should be a lot of fun. A couple of other friends of ours wanted to join us, but the show's sold out.

The reason I didn't get much sleep was because I was watching late-night football and hockey. Monday night, I stayed up watching a game I normally wouldn't give two craps about: San Francisco vs. Arizona. But I went 13-0 in my office football pool through Sunday; alas, so did one other guy, so it came down to the Monday night game to break the tie. I needed Zona to win by 10 and sure enough, they only won by 5. So I got nothing. Tuesday night, I watched the Leafs-Calgary game, Wednesday I was out until 1 at hockey, and Thursday night, I watched the Pats-Jets and Leafs-Oilers games simultaneously until midnight. Funny enough, even with the trip to Cambridge last night, I was home and in bed earlier than any other night this week.

T-minus eight days until the Philly Marathon. I'm feeling good, although I took a puck off the skate Wednesday night that left a bone bruise on my left foot. Fortunately, it was on the side and didn't bother me when I ran yesterday. Right now, the forecast is calling for temps in the low 40s next Sunday, which means it should be in the 30s when the race starts at 7 a.m. I'm a little disappointed that we'll have to take off right after the race to head back home, but we both have to work Monday and the kids have school.

Quick and to the point:
  • Speaking of the Leafs, they've been fun to watch so far this year. Ron Wilson has a speedy, hard-working team that has been tough to play in almost every game. But that could change soon if Brian Burke joins the team as GM; he just quit his Anaheim job this week and could be in Toronto soon. He's more of a proponent of big, bruising teams and tough guys, which the Leafs have in short supply right now. It seems like every game, an opponent is taking liberties with one of their players. It wouldn't surprise me to see a lot of changes in a hurry. If he can get them contending for a Cup in the next few years, I'm all for it.
  • So Obama reportedly has been talking to Hillary Clinton about becoming Secretary of State. Interesting.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Down the Line

'Twas a busy weekend. Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the final Gutter Twins show of 2008, and possibly forever. Greg Dulli, Mark Lanegan and the guys played an excellent 70-minute set at the Paradise. It was the second time I saw them this year, having caught them back in March at the same club. This time around, the main floor of the club filled up, but the balconies were closed due to lackluster ticket sales, I assume. It was a good turnout considering it was a busy concert evening with better-known acts playing in the area: AC/DC selling out the Gahden, the Hold Steady and Drive-By Truckers playing the Orpheum, and Nine Inch Nails in Worcester. Unlike last time when I was right in front of the stage, I opted for a booth to the right where I could see everything but have a little space to myself and a ledge to lean on.

Dulli announced straightaway that this was the last GT show and later profusely thanked each member of the band for his contributions to the album and tour. None of the band members was smoking, which was a marked departure from the last show (and the Twilight Singers gig with pretty much the same lineup in '06). I had hoped the show would be at least 90 minutes, which would have brought it up to 11 p.m., but it wasn't to be. That was the only disappointment. Both Dulli and Lanegan were in fine voice, and the band was tight, with highlights including "Front Street" from their Saturnalia album, "Down the Line" from their new EP of mostly covers, Adorata, and a smokin' version of "Change Has Come" from Lanegan's old band, the Screaming Trees. Great stuff. Dulli indicated that he was done touring for a while, with his farewell of "See you in a couple of years." I've read that he's going back into the studio to possibly work on a new Twilight Singers album while Lanegan will go back to his many side projects. All of which means more great music. Neither of those guys can do musical wrong in my book.

A special note deserves to be made of opening act Afterhours, an Italian band that Dulli has worked with in the past. They're pretty huge in Italy and seeing them live, it was easy to understand. These guys are a terrific live act, with plenty of rock star swagger and the chops to back it up. They play a brand of soulful hard rock not unlike that of Dulli's old band, The Afghan Whigs. They have an English-language album out on One Little Indian that I downloaded off of eMusic this morning and it's quite good. Worth checking out.

So earlier in the day yesterday, I headed out to Andover to run the Larry Robinson 10-miler (not named after the NHL Hall of Famer). It was a great day for a road race, sunny and cool in the 50s. Alas, my stomach didn't agree and bothered me for the entire event, but I was still able to maintain a good 8-minute/mile pace. All was well until I passed mile 9, when I noticed the 10-15 runners in front of me taking a left turn at an intersection. I was under the impression from last year that we were supposed to go straight to the finish at Andover High School, but seeing everybody take the turn, I assumed that they knew where they were going. Bad assumption. As it turned out, the cop directing traffic at that corner told one of the runners to go left and then everyone followed. Good thing there wasn't a cliff there or we would have all gone off it like lemmings. There were a couple of killer hills that I didn't remember from last year (although I did remember the finish being hilly, so I just kept going) and they weren't easy to take with the whole stomach thing going on. It wasn't long before we realized that we were off-track, but we had to keep going. Eventually we were able to loop around and come into the finish from the opposite direction, essentially doing an 11-mile race. In the official results, you'll notice that those of us who ran the wrong way had a special "OFF COURSE" designation added to our times. It didn't bother me too much, because I'm in taper mode for my marathon and was actually supposed to run 13 miles yesterday, so another one was no big deal. But it wasn't any fun to run an additional, hilly mile when all I wanted to do was find a bathroom. Well, at least it didn't happen during a marathon.

Okay, time to eat some dinner.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Anything 'Cept the Truth

So...we've got a new president. Yeah, I know the election was a few days ago, but I haven't had a chance to blog since then. I was glad it didn't come down to some hanging chads in Florida or Ohio. Hopefully Obama will surround himself with good people on both sides of the aisle and get right to work bringing about some of that change he's been talking about for a couple of years. Because we sure need it. I've been around long enough to know that campaign promises don't mean squat. Obama's proven he can run a hell of a campaign. Now let's see how he runs a government.

Today would have been my dad's 68th birthday. Hard to believe he's been gone for 12 years now. Sadly, he's becoming more and more of a distant memory; it's not like I've forgotten him or anything, but it's just that so much has happened in my life since then. I will say he taught me my most valuable lessons...by showing me what not to do. The way I lead my life is exactly the opposite from how he led his, which isn't to say he was a bad man. He just made a lot of mistakes and in the end, they killed him. But hey, let's not dwell on that now. Wherever you are, Dad, happy birthday.

My second running column ran in the paper today. I focused on the debate over whether runners should use headphones. I've already gotten a lot of good response from folks (both friends and people I don't know), so that's encouraging. My photo ran with the column today (only in the print version).

Only two weeks until we head to Philly for the marathon. Knock on wood, I'm feeling pretty good. I'm supposed to run 13 this weekend, but I'm going to do a 10-mile race in Andover on Sunday morning instead.

Kibbles and bits:
  • Commercials by the major automakers in recent years have usually taken a classic rock song and beaten it to death for months at a time. The latest example from Toyota is even more annoying than usual because it takes an old Fixx song, "Saved By Zero" (which I liked), and has an unknown singer atonally singing the line. This is bad enough, but the worst part is the ad runs probably 15 times during a football game, so you're just bombarded by it. Even Lily was making fun of it the other day. And apparently it has engendered major hate from all corners.
  • In a story that has to be already in the works as a movie idea, two kids from India won a talent contest and are now training for a pitching tryout in front of major league scouts. The guy who discovered them is Barry Bonds' manager, who you figure has a lot of time on his hands these days.
  • Runners face many hazards on the road, usually from inattentive or obnoxious drivers. But you don't often hear about a rabid fox biting a runner, let alone the runner continuing to run another five miles with the damn thing clamped down on her arm. Insane in the membrane.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Weapon of Choice

Holy crap, it's Election Day. It's been a wild ride, that's for sure. I'm going to go vote before work. I'm expecting lines. Should be an interesting night watching the returns. Hopefully everything will be nice and above board.

Hannah's got the day off because her school is being used as a polling place. They never used to give the kids the day off, but last year an old dude accidentally drove into a school, so now it's a safety thing. Speaking of which, last night an elderly fellow drove right onto the tracks in Salem and crashed into a commuter train. He was walking around afterwards and sent to the hospital as a precaution, but then died unexpectedly there. Very strange.

The weekend was a busy one. The girls had a blast going trick-or-treating Friday night; we stuck to the four dead-end streets in our neighborhood and they got a ton of candy. Need to get it out of here before I eat it all.

On Saturday, I ran my last 20-miler before Philly. It was a good run. Now I'm in taper mode. I'm running a 10-mile race in Andover this weekend and then will probably run another 10 the weekend after that, and then it'll be race day. Congrats to our friend Joe, who ran his first marathon in New York on Sunday, and to our friend Lauren, who had another kick-ass finish with a 3:35.

Saturday night was fun as Doobs had some of the old Webnoize crew over for a Drive-In movie night featuring bad TV movies from the '70s. We saw "Trapped," a 1973 thrilla starring James Brolin as a dude who gets stuck in a department store with a bunch of psycho guard Dobermans, and "Bad Ronald," the creepy tale of a dork who kills a girl and then has to hide in the walls of a house and...ah crap, trust me, it was all kinds of SBIG. Doobs also had some cool old trailers and "Let's go down to the lobby" shorts. Fun stuff.

Aiight, time to go to work. More later...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Completely Conspicuous Episode 65: I Wanna Be Elected

Halloween is nearly over and the kids are tucked in bed, with visions of Skittles and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups dancing in their heads. As for me, I just recorded the latest and greatest episode of Completely Conspicuous. If you're not already subscribed, you can download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:
- Celebrity political endorsements
- The increase in child food allergies
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Frightened Rabbit - Old Old Fashioned (live)
- Sebastien Grainger and the Mountains - By Cover of Night (Firefight)
- Parts and Labor - Nowheres Nigh
- Drive-By Truckers - Zip City

Promo:
- New England Podcasting.

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

The Drive-By Truckers song is on the album Southern Rock Opera on Lost Highway Records; find out more and download the track here.

The Parts and Labor song is on the album Receivers on Jagjaguwar Records, where you can find out more and download the track.

The Frightened Rabbit song is on their new live album Liver! Lung! FR! on Fat Cat Records. The song from Sebastien Grainger and the Mountains is on their self-titled album on Outside Music. Both songs were provided by IODA Promonet:

Liver! Lung! FR!Frightened Rabbit
"Old Old Fashioned" (mp3)
from "Liver! Lung! FR!"
(Fat Cat Records)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at eMusic Delivery
Buy at Puretracks
Buy at GroupieTunes
More On This Album



Sebastien Grainger & The MountainsSebastien Grainger & The Mountains
"By Cover of Night (Fire Fight)" (mp3)
from "Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains"
(Outside Music)

Buy at iTunes Music 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 his fine music blog. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of the mighty Mark Campbell.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Novocaine for the Soul

Gearing up for a crazy, candy-filled week...The girls are getting psyched. We went to a Halloween dance at Hannah's school on Friday night, where the girls had a blast. It was kinda cool to see them running around with their friends (Lily befriended the little sister of one of Hannah's classmates), although it was pretty strange to see much-older seeming fifth graders dancing next to kindergartners. Yesterday, the girls went to a Halloween party at my mom's condo building. Wednesday, there's a big party at my office where they'll haul in a ton of candy. And, of course, Friday is Halloween itself. We only trick or treat on four streets in our neighborhood, but they still manage to collect a lot of goodies.

I've barely watched any of the World Series, not because I'm not interested. I've just been busy or otherwise occupied. The Phillies are up 3-1 in the series and looking to clinch tonight, but right now it's tied 2-2 in the 6th and there's a rain delay. We're supposed to get that lousy weather tomorrow.

I've been impressed with the play of the Leafs the last week or so. They lost in a shootout to the Ducks last Monday after dominating the last two periods, then beat Boston and Ottawa with strong performances. Coach Ron Wilson has them playing hard, which on the one hand is great, but on the other, may not help them in their quest for a high draft pick next summer. There's a long way to go, though. They could still suck mightily before all is said and done. At least they've been fun to watch so far.

Whither the short items...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Shout Me Out

Word to your moms. Another week speeds to a close. I just got back from a goodbye party for two former co-workers; it was attended by a lot of folks who have been at the company a long time, like myself. It kinda reminded me of the old days when we'd have happy hours after work every Friday. Good stuff.

My first running column ran in the Salem News today. I have to say, it was pretty fun to do and I've received good feedback on it so far, both from friends and from folks in the local running community. Now I have to keep it up every other week.

It's getting damn chilly out there. I even had to scrape frost off my windshield the other day. On the plus side, I do believe all the mosquitoes died off for the year. It's supposed to get down into the 20s tonight.

I was talking to a co-worker yesterday who questioned my sanity for playing hockey at 10 p.m. every Wednesday night. I might have agreed with him last night when the puck was at my feet and I looked to see this guy on the other team charging right at me. BAM! I ended up on my ass, with my head slamming off the ice. I had no time to even brace for the hit, which was totally accidental because the guy never saw me until the last second. Fortunately, I had just tightened the straps on my helmet last week so it totally absorbed the impact and I bounced right back up. I actually played a lot better after that. Not that I want to get levelled every week or anything.

Bring it on...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Completely Conspicuous Episode 64: Song for the Deaf

Finally found time to crank out the latest CompCon. If you're not already subscribed (and why wouldn't you be?) through iTunes or some other media aggregator, you can download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:
- The resurgence of the electric car
- Are iPod users going deaf?
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Army Navy - My Thin Sides
- A.C. Newman - Miracle Drug
- Burning Airlines - Paper Crowns
- Volcano Suns - White Elephant

Promo:
- New England Podcasting

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

The A.C. Newman song is on the album The Slow Wonder on Matador Records, where you can find out more and download the track.

The Volcano Suns song is on the new reissue of their album All Night Lotus Party on Merge Records, where you can find out more and download the track.

The Army Navy song is on their self-titled album on The Fever Zone Records. The song from Burning Airlines is on their album Identikit on Desoto Records. Both songs were provided by IODA Promonet.

Army NavyArmy Navy
"My Thin Sides" (mp3)
from "Army Navy"
(The Fever Zone)

Buy at Rhapsody
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at Puretracks
More On This Album



IdentikitBurning Airlines
"Paper Crowns" (mp3)
from "Identikit"
(DeSoto Records)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at eMusic
Buy at Rhapsody
Buy at Napster
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at Puretracks
Buy at Amazon MP3
Buy at GroupieTunes
Buy at DownloadPunk
Buy at mTraks
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 fine music blog. Additional music used in the show is by Me and Boris the Bull, which is the brainchild of Mark Campbell.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.