Monday, March 31, 2008

Completely Conspicuous Episode 52: Run Like Hell

Just recorded the latest ep of CompCon. Download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

- The future of the space program
- Marathon training
- Pinhead of the Week

- Flight of the Conchords - Ladies of the World
- Frightened Rabbit - Head Rolls Off
- Bloc Party - Helicopter
- Panthers - Uncertainly
- Okkervil River - Black

- New England Podcasting.

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

The song from Bloc Party is on their album Silent Alarm on Vice Records. The song is courtesy of the Podsafe Music Network.

The Flight of the Conchords song is on the band's new self-titled album. The song is courtesy of Sub Pop Records, where you can find out more and download the song. The Panthers song is on the album The Trick. The song is courtesy of Vice Records, where you can find out more and download the song. The Okkervil River song is on the band's album Black Sheep Boy. The track is courtesy of Jagjaguwar Records, where you can find out more and download the song.

The song from Frightened Rabbit is on the new album The Midnight Organ Fight on Fat Cat Records. The song was provided by IODA Promonet:

The Midnight Organ FightFrightened Rabbit
"Head Rolls Off" (mp3)
from "The Midnight Organ Fight"
(Fat Cat Records)

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.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I Don't Always Know What You're Saying

Another Saturday morning...I've got the girls all day while Deb attends a science teachers' conference in Boston. It wasn't a great week for my sports teams. Last night, I watched the UNH hockey team for the second straight year get knocked off by a lower seed in the NCAA tournament; friggin' Notre Dame just outplayed the much more talented Wildcats, 7-3. They were so good in the regular season and then just didn't show up in the playoffs. Meanwhile, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Leafs were officially eliminated from playoff contention by the Bruins, who swept a home-and-home series handily. The Blue Jays, as they prepare to start the MLB season Monday, lost their big acquisition, third baseman Scott Rolen, for six weeks after he broke his finger fielding a grounder. And even my March Madness pool is pretty much toast after Wisconsin lost last night; I had them going to the finals.

Marathon training update: I'm running the Eastern States 20-miler tomorrow; it starts in Kittery, Maine, and finishes at Salisbury Beach. Hopefully the weather will be nice (meaning, not rainy and windy). This is my penultimate 20-miler; I'm supposed to do 15 next weekend and one more 20, and then start the best part of marathon training: the taper. Five weeks to the NJ Marathon.

Snap, crackle and pop:
  • We had a bit of a shock this week when the city announced a proposal to redistrict the school system, including turning Hannah's elementary school in an alternative high school and sending her to another school. There's a lot of hubbub and plans for protests, but I've got a bad feeling about it. Seems like a done deal. It's too bad, because the school is nearby and we really like it. More importantly, Hannah really likes it. Ultimately, it's all about money and the city doesn't have enough these days, so this is the solution. It's funny, I used to cover the Peabody schools back when I was in my early 20s, but these issues hit a lot closer to home now that I actually have children that are affected by them.
  • Nice to see the good folks at Dr. Pepper still know a good publicity stunt. They announced this week that in honor of the impending release of Guns N' Roses' 15-years-in-the-making album Chinese Democracy, they'll give a free can of Dr. Pepper to everyone in the country (except former GNR guitarists Slash and Buckethead). To his credit, Axl Rose crawled out of his bunker long enough to briefly respond to the offer. He then saw his shadow, which means it should be another five years before the album is released.
  • Jack Klugman is suing NBC over profits from his old show Quincy. The network says the show lost $66 million; he says it made $250 million. Here's a clip from the classic Quincy punk episode. Oh, and this version of the Quincy theme with lyrics is, shall we say, awesome.

Monday, March 24, 2008

3 Dimes Down

Manoman, that was a busy weekend. I kicked it off Friday night with the annual fantasy baseball draft extravaganza. We had to hold our draft a week early this year, so I didn't have much time to do research, but I always procrastinate, anyway. It seemed to take longer than usual this time around; we were done close to midnight. We traveled to tony Andover for the event again at the house of a fellow manager. I had to draft two teams, mine and a buddy's who couldn't make it. I think my team's decent, but my pitching's a little suspect, especially the bullpen. The first game of the season is actually tomorrow morning in Japan, where the Red Sox will play the A's; they have another game Wednesday and then the rest of the games start next Monday.

Saturday morning, I got a 15-mile run in before showering and taking the girls to a friend's 5th birthday party. After getting home, taking a nap (this was key) and picking up some pizza for dinner, I headed off to the Drive-By Truckers show at the Paradise. I've been listening to the band for a few years now, but this was my first time seeing them live and by gum, it was pretty frickin' amazing. Unlike the Gutter Twins show, I decided to snag myself a spot up in the balcony so I could have a full view of the stage without having to jostle for position. It was a good move because the show was sold out and everyone was pretty packed in. Lots of burly dudes with camo Red Sox caps; definitely a lot fewer females than Tuesday night. The Whigs opened up with an ass-kicking set of straightahead rock that really impressed. I like their new album, Mission Control, and seeing them live just proved that they were the real deal. Really tight band, and drummer Julian Dorio is ridiculously talented, just a whirling dervish behind the kit.

DBT came out around 10:20 and played a marathon 2 hours and 15 minutes, digging into a lot of their excellent new album, Brighter Than Creation's Dark, but also playing a broad range of songs from throughout their career. Unlike the Gutter Twins, DBT kept plenty of booze at the ready, with all band members regularly swigging from a couple of bottles of Jack Daniels throughout the show. I'm sure the 'Dise made out pretty well with its beer sales, because it was a hot and sweaty Saturday night and folks were drinking up a storm. Most of the songs were divvied up by frontman Patterson Hood and guitarist Mike Cooley, who ripped off crackling solos all night long. Between the two of them and pedal steel/guitar player John Neff, DBT created a swirling storm of rock, country and everything in between. When all three guitarists were soloing during thunderous rockers like "Let There Be Rock" (not the AC/DC song, but it references it) and "Hell No I Ain't Happy," it was reminiscent of great southern guitar bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Outlaws (who I saw at the Kingston (NH) Fairgrounds back in '85). Hood told a story about playing their first gig in Boston in '99 at an Irish pub where patrons had to walk up through the stage area to get to the bathrooms. The band had a blast and seemed truly appreciative of the sellout and the love shown by the fans. By the end of the show, my feet were killing me but I didn't care. I was already a fan, but that show made me a fanatic. The message board posts seemed to concur, as did the Globe and Herald reviewers. Ultimately, the measure of a great band is their live show, and DBT is truly a great band. Next time they come around, go see them. I know I will.

So I got out of the club by 12:45 and home by 1:30. The girls woke up at 6:45, excited to see what the Easter Bunny brought. I dragged my butt downstairs to see them rip through their Easter baskets and then Deb mercifully told me to go grab another hour of sleep. We went to church, then had Easter lunch with Deb's mom and brother and then went up to NH to have dinner with my mom. Needless to say, by the time we got home, we were all pretty wiped. Deb and I spent the evening catching up on TiVoed television.

Spring? What spring?
  • It's March Madness time, the only time of the year I pay any attention to college basketball. Deb also gets into it, driven by her goal of beating me. Right now, she's a point ahead of me. We both have all our final four teams left, so we'll see what happens.
  • All my nights out last week meant I missed all three Leafs games, which were all victories; their playoff hopes are still alive but remain slim. They're four points out of a playoff spot with seven games to go and four teams ahead of them. I also missed Friday night's UNH-BC Hockey East semifinal, which BC ended up winning in triple overtime. Probably just as well that I missed the last one; I might have thrown something through the friggin' TV. The game was the second longest Hockey East playoff game; the longest being the UMaine-UMass final game a few years back that I attended that also went to 3 OT periods and nearly got to a fourth before Maine won it. Fortunately UNH still got a NCAA tournament bid and will go out west to play Notre Dame Friday night.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

God's Children

As another busy week winds down, time to reflect on a most excellent Tuesday night spent at the Paradise checking out the inimitable Gutter Twins. Much like the Twilight Singers show at the same venue in November 2006, a lot of the same players were on stage: Greg Dulli, Mark Lanegan, bassist Scott Ford, and guitarist/keyboardist Jeff Klein were all back, with the difference this time being Lanegan stayed on stage the entire show instead of singing a handful of songs and taking off. Also like last time, just about everyone on stage smoked like chimneys (except Lanegan), but one thing noticeably absent was alcohol. Last time around, Dulli had a cupholder on his mike stand for his beer and an ashtray holder on the other side. Whatever the case, the band sounded great and played most of their new album Saturnalia.

I was front and center and had the joy of being in front of a mustachioed drunk dude from Rhode Island who was dancing up a storm and knew every word of every song. At one point, he picked up his wife/girlfriend and sort of held her up, and Dulli looked over and in mid-song smiled and said, "You better take that top off, lady!" And sure enough, she flashed him. Still singing, his eyes widened and he said, "That's why I joined a band."

Highlights of the show included an intense version of "Front Street" off the new album, which fits right in with songs like "What Jail is Like" from Dulli's first and best-known band, the Afghan Whigs. Ever the showman, Dulli held court and razzed the crowd for not clapping enough during songs, even threatening to play Providence instead next time around. Co-frontman Lanegan stood still as a statue on stage, expressionless when he wasn't unleashing that sinister growl of his. The band visited some keyposts of his past with versions of his solo songs "The River Rise," "Hit the City" and "Methamphetamine Blues," as well as a snippet of "Shadow of the Season" from his old band The Screaming Trees. The band also played some choice Twilight Singers cuts including "I'm Ready" and a cover of Massive Attack's "Live With Me." As the band wrapped up the encore, Lanegan bolted off stage before anyone could even clap for him; Dulli noted, "I think he wants to say thank you." And then he delivered his parting shot: "See you in Providence next summer!"

The band was on Letterman last night (although they taped the appearance Monday). Check out the Globe and Herald reviews.

I'm looking forward to checking out the three-guitar Southern rock attack of the Drive-By Truckers Saturday night at the 'Dise, with the Whigs (no relation to the Afghan Whigs but a good band nonetheless) opening up.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Completely Conspicuous Episode 51: Super Stupid

In the latest installment of CompCon, I take a look at stupidity in its many forms. Download it directly here (right click and "save as") if you don't already subscribe.

The show notes...

- Eliot Spitzer gets stupid
- Fake memoirs
- Pinhead of the Week

- British Sea Power - No Lucifer
- The Raveonettes - Dead Sound
- Bauhaus - International Bullet Proof Talent
- Grand Archives - Torn Blue Foam Couch
- Funkadelic - Super Stupid

- New England Podcasting.

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

The song from British Sea Power is on their new album Do You Like Rock Music? on Rough Trade Records. The song from The Raveonettes is on their new album Lust Lust Lust on Vice Records (not Sony, as I misspoke in the show). Both songs are courtesy of the Podsafe Music Network.

The song from Bauhaus is on the new album Go Away White on Red Eye Distribution; find out more at . The song was provided by IODA Promonet:

Go Away WhiteBauhaus
"International Bullet Proof Talent" (mp3)
from "Go Away White"
(Cooking Vinyl)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
More On This Album

The Grand Archives song is on the band's new album The Grand Archives; the song is courtesy of Sub Pop Records, where you can find out more and download the song.

The Funkadelic song is on the classic album Maggot Brain on Westbound Records. Buy the CD here.

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

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Body Says No

Another rockin' Saturday night. Just watched the Leafs get smoked by Buffalo, 6-2, which could be the final nail in their coffin for this season. They're not mathematically eliminated yet, but it doesn't look good. They had playing well lately, but captain Mats Sundin hurt his groin in the last game and missed tonight as well, and then second-leading scorer Nik Antropov left early tonight with a knee injury. Doesn't bode well.

Headed out this morning with Molly on a 20-mile run from here to Lynn and back. It was snowing but wasn't too cold, so we figured it wouldn't be a bad run. Unfortunately, the winds really picked up when we got to the water in Swampscott and Lynn and they never went away. We had to battle the whole way back through that raw (mid-30s) weather; it felt like we ran a full marathon instead of 20. I was glad to get it over with, but I had a tough time getting warm the rest of the day.

Shiver me timbers:
  • I have to thank my buddy OJ for pointing me to this rare clip of David Letterman's short-lived daytime show from the early '80s, before he hit it big with Late Night. Obviously, his sense of humor was not quite right for daytime viewers. That was the first I'd ever seen of any of those shows; alas, they're not available anywhere for viewing nowadays. I was vaguely aware of the show's existence, but I never saw it at the time because I was in school. Speaking of Letterman, here's a great little viewer mail clip from Late Night.
  • The music blogs have been chock full of the South by Southwest coverage this week. For the uninitiated, SXSW is the premiere music industry conference and showcase, featuring hundreds of bands known and unknown, as well as separate tracks for film and online shizz. Back when I worked at Webnoize, I was able to attend the 2000 conference. Even though the apartments we rented were way out of downtown Austin, it was still a blast. I covered a bunch of the panels for Webnoize and worked in our booth a bit, but the best part was going to see bands (we caught, among others, Modest Mouse, Fu Manchu, and the Bevis Frond) and chowing on awesome BBQ at places like the County Line and Stubb's. Austin is a truly great city. I visited my brother there a few times when he was going to law school at the U. of Texas; he even drove in from Houston to catch some bands with us one night in '00. Good times. I don't expect to ever go to SXSW again, unless by some miracle I get a job covering entertainment, but at least I can say I've gone once.
  • Speaking of the rock, I'm gearing up to see some good shows in the next couple of weeks. Next week, The Gutter Twins (led by Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs/Twilight Singers fame and Mark Lanegan of the Screaming Trees, two of my favorite artists) play the Paradise on Tuesday and the Drive-By Truckers are there on Saturday. Then on April 3, I'm going to see Stephen Malkmus (ex-Pavement front dude) at the 'Dise. I've been digging the new albums from all three artists, so these shows should be muy excellente.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Each to Each

The last decade or so has been an impressive one for quality television. No, I'm not talking about all that reality crap that's churned out year after year. I mean the list of kickass shows that have really raised the bar for the medium: The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Rome, The Shield, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Rescue Me, Entourage. Another show belongs in that pantheon and in my opinion, beats all of them: The Wire. Last night marked the series finale after five seasons and 60 episodes, and like the rest of the series run, it was consistently excellent. Show creator David Simon wrapped up all the storylines over the last several episodes, with some truly shocking results and some equally positive ones. I'm certainly going to miss the show and its in-depth look at crime in Baltimore. I started watching in season 1, but lost track of the show after a few episodes before picking it up again the next season, so next I plan to rent season 1 and watch that in its entirety. And maybe I'll just keep it going after that by renting the other seasons. Here's some great analysis of the finale and the series itself; if you're unfamiliar with the show, I highly recommend you go back and start with season 1.

Short cuts:
  • March Madness will be upon us soon, so I'll be making my uneducated college hoop picks. But here's a story I can certainly dig: American University has a player whose dad was in the legendary This Is Spinal Tap (and whose name isn't Shearer, Guest or McKean). The best (or worst, I suppose) part is none of his teammates have any clue how cool that is.
  • Man, how stupid is NY Governor Eliot Spitzer? The dude was formerly New York's attorney general and a guy who was all about the high-profile busts. If anyone knew the political risks of going to a prostitute, you'd think it'd be him. And yet, he came out today and admitted he used a high-priced call girl service that was busted last week by the feds. Must be one of those "cry for help" deals.
  • Ever since the so-called Winter Classic in Buffalo on New Year's Day, the NHL has been searching for the location of its next outdoor game. Chicago and Detroit have been rumored, and now Yankee Stadium is being mentioned as a possibility. The toughest part is getting Mother Nature to cooperate with some nice cold weather to keep the ice in good shape; Chicago and Detroit are probably better bets in that regard than NYC.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Circle the Fringes

Just a little jibba-jabba before I watch the series finale of The Wire...

It was a long week capped off by a busy weekend. It was Lily's 4th birthday yesterday, so we had a small party for both girls (Hannah's bday is next month). Deb's brother Matt and his family plus his niece Dori, who's best buds with Hannah and Lily, were up for the weekend. The kids had a blast even though it poured buckets outside. This morning, I got up and ran the North Shore 3oK in Beverly while Matt did the 10.5K race they had simultaneously. It wasn't too cold, but there were some serious 40 mph winds blowing out there. Finished in 2:48 and felt pretty good. Then showered and took the girls up to see my mom, who threw a little party of her own for Lily. Needless to say, lots of presents and cake for both girls this weekend.

On Thursday night, we went to the science fair at Hannah's elementary school. She did a project with Deb comparing two different types of grass seed and how quickly they grew. Very cute. I was impressed at how many projects there were, although you could see some parents really went to town on some of them.

Okay, more later.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Supernatural Superserious

The week got off to a crappy start for me yesterday when I got Hannah in the car, we drove to the end of our street, and I noticed the right side of the car was pretty wobbly. Pulled over and got out and sure enough, the right front tire was flat. I turned around and parked the car in our driveway and then borrowed my mother-in-law's SUV to drop Hannah off at school. I got a ride to work yesterday and then this morning left the Maxima at a nearby garage to get the tire fixed or replaced; sure enough, both it and the other front tire needed replacing. I guess we made it through all of '07 without any car repair costs, so we were due.

I enjoyed some nice spring weather this morning, getting out for a 65-degree run at 11 in shorts and t-shirt. We haven't had too many days like that this winter. By the end of the afternoon, it was pouring out, but at least it wasn't snowing.

Pass the dutchie to the lefthand side: