Monday, April 28, 2008

Home Field Advantage

Well, I'm happy to say that Deb got back from her Costa Rica trip last night safe and sound and tired. She had a blast and I do believe is entertaining the thought of going again someday, but she's also glad to be back home. We got home around 9:30 last night and unfortunately for her, she had to work today, so she's extremely tired. No rest for the weary, either, because tomorrow is Hannah's 6th birthday and Deb's taking her, Lily and a bunch of Hannah's friends to Build-a-Bear at the mall. I'm on pizza procurement duty.

As for the last half of last week, it went by pretty quickly. I worked Thursday and Friday and then on Saturday, ran some errands and took the girls to our neighborhood park. On Sunday, I got a 6-mile run in before taking the girls up to NH for a party my mom threw for them at Chuck E. Cheese in Newington. It was the first time they had ever been to that particular establishment and they were a little overwhelmed at first; it's pretty much sensory overload. But they had fun. We got home by 5 and then our friend Kate came over a few hours later to babysit them while I went to the airport.

Marathon update: Six days to go until the NJ Marathon. Right now, the forecast for Long Branch is calling for showers all weekend, which doesn't sound like fun for four hours (hopefully less); of course, these things can change. I'm feeling pretty good. I had another massage tonight and the therapist said my hamstrings feel a lot looser than they did two weeks ago. Hopefully I can run a good race.

Quick bullet points:
  • Wow, this is one of the most effed-up things I've ever heard: Sick Austrian dude locks up his daughter in his basement for 24 years, raping her repeatedly and fathering seven kids by her. His wife has no clue and while three of the kids live with the him and the wife, three others have never seen daylight. How does stuff like this happen?
  • Gotta love scientific studies. First one comes out saying you can be fit and fat; now a new study says the opposite.
  • Just when you thought you'd heard all the dirt about Roger Clemens, even crazier rumors emerge: he allegedly had an affair with country singer Mindy McCready starting when she was 15 and he was 28. I hope for his sake it isn't true, because if it is, well, damn.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Just a Little Heat

Now that's more like it. We finally got a hot day today...the temps got up into the 80s for the first time since last year. I had the day off and took the girls up to my mom's in NH for lunch and then a trip to Odiorne State Park. Tricia, her mom and the boys were here until yesterday, when they headed back to NJ. It was great timing, really, because it didn't give the girls too much time to miss Deb. They got here on Saturday afternoon, we grilled up some meat for dinner. Sunday, I was able to get a pain-free 13-miler in before we had lunch. Then we took the kids out to ride their bikes and scooters. On Monday, we went to Acton to check out some cool historical sites for Patriots Day and then took Deb's mom out to dinner for her birthday.

Deb checked in Monday with a few e-mails from Costa Rica. Things are going well, although her fellow teacher on the trip has been illin' with a stomach bug since they got there. They spent the first few days in Las Tortugas, then went white water rafting in Arenal. They're currently staying with families in Pital and will be doing out some reforestation work th enext few days in Punta Leona. It's really weird not to have her around and the girls have had me at my wit's end at times with their constant bickering. Tomorrow I'm working again while the girls spend the day with Deb's mom and later our friend Traci. Friday is another work day.

Congrats to all my friends who successfully ran the Boston Marathon on Monday. They had to battle through some warmer-than-expected temperatures, which didn't exactly jibe with all the cold, raw weather they trained in all winter and early spring. Let's face it, nobody really runs Boston to set a personal best; there are plenty of flat, fast courses for that. As for me, I'm feeling pretty good as I get closer to my race in New Jersey. Only nine days away. I just need to stay away from the birthday cake (Hannah's 6th birthday is next Tuesday and we have a huge cake that Tricia made for Deb's mom).

Onward and upward:
  • The NHL playoffs move into the second round: Montreal-Philly, NY Rangers-Pittsburgh, San Jose-Dallas, and Colorado-Detroit. All four series should be excellent. The first round was pretty exciting. I got really into the Bruins-Montreal series, which looked like it would be a blowout and then turned out to be a seven-game battle after the underdog B's really played their hearts out. They ended up getting smoked 5-0 in game 7, but give them credit for a gutsy showing and for getting Boston crowds fired up about hockey for the first time in years. My picks for the second round: Montreal in 7, Pittsburgh in 6, San Jose in 7 and Colorado in 6. But I wouldn't be surprised if all four series went the other way. They all look to be fairly even matchups.
  • Well, Hillary Clinton beat Obama in Pennsylvania last night and seems to have re-energized her campaign. Damn, this thing's going right down to the convention, isn't it? McCain can get a lot of naps in from now until then.
  • Here's one for the WTF file: Rangers superpest Sean Avery is going to work as an unpaid intern at Vogue this offseason. Wonder if he's going to try his patented style of genius/douchey harassment there?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

One Reporter's Opinion

Gotta love a lazy Saturday morning. So Deb arrived in Costa Rica Thursday night with another teacher and a group of 14 students; they're going to be doing biology stuff there all next week and getting back next Sunday. I talked to her Thursday during her stopover in Miami, but I won't hear from her until she gets back. The girls haven't been pining for her yet, but I expect they will at some point, probably in a few days. My sister-in-law Tricia and her boys are driving up this afternoon from NJ and staying until Tuesday, so that'll be a good distraction for the girls. Next week, I'm only taking two days off from work; Deb's mom will be taking care of the girls the other days.

Marathon update: I got a massage Monday and while being really painful, I think it helped. The therapist said my left leg was definitely tighter than my right, starting with the glute. I didn't run until yesterday, when I finally got to get outside and enjoy some of the sweet weather we've been getting. Did a 5-miler at an 8-minute pace and felt good. No tightness or pain. I'm going to try and get in a run of around 10 tomorrow and see how it feels.

Boston Marathon fever has hit the city with the race on Monday. Looks like the weather may be just right for running: Dry, temps in the mid-50s. Best of luck to my training partner Molly, Jon and Kerry, Steve Runner, and all the Striders who are running. It's funny, a lot of people just assumed I was running Boston because of all the training I've been doing.

Bulleted list of items:
  • What would music writers do without subjective lists of best and worst whatevers? Here's another one guaranteed to annoy and provoke: Terrible songs on great albums. Some of the choices are absolutely asinine, but the writer accomplishes his goal. And the debate continues here. Me, I think "No Quarter" is an awesome song.
  • Happy 45th to Conan O'Brien, who continues to kick butt.
  • Speaking of birthdays, happy 20th to Sub Pop, which also continues to kick the arse. The Green River performance alone will make the planned festival worthwhile. For those of you unfamiliar with the band, it featured Mark Arm and Steve Turner of Mudhoney, and Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam.
  • Yo, check out my Muxtape.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Completely Conspicuous Episode 53: Live After Death

Another week with no posts. Plenty has gone on. Deb's in Costa Rica with a group of her students doing a biology field trip. Pretty cool, huh? She gets back a week from Sunday. More on this tomorrow. In the meantime, here's the latest episode of CompCon. You can download it directly here (right click and "save as").

Ze show notes...

Topics:
- The changing landscape of live music
- Living past 100
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Ladyhawk - S.T.H.D.
- The Constantines - Hard Feelings
- Witch - Eye
- Bad Brains - Give Thanks and Praises
- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

Promo:
- 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 Bad Brains is on their album Build a Nation on Megaforce Recordst . The Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song is on the album "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!" on Anti Records. Both songs are courtesy of the Podsafe Music Network; find out more at http://music.podshow.com/.

The song from The Constantines is on the new album Kensington Heights on Arts and Crafts Records. The Witch song is on the album "Paralyzed" on Tee Pee Records. Both songs are provided by IODA Promonet:

Kensington HeightsConstantines
"Hard Feelings" (mp3)
from "Kensington Heights"
(Arts & Crafts)

Buy at Rhapsody
Stream from Rhapsody
More On This Album



ParalyzedWitch
"Eye" (mp3)
from "Paralyzed"
(Tee Pee Records)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at Rhapsody
Buy at Napster
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at Amazon
Buy at GroupieTunes
Buy at mTraks Download
More On This Album



The Ladyhawk song is on the album "Shots"; find out more and download the song at the Jagjaguwar Records site.

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.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Accelerate

Today I was supposed to run 20 miles as my final long run before I begin the three-week taper before my marathon on May 4. But since I had strained my left hamstring last Sunday, I'd been taking it easy this week. I skipped my Tuesday run, skipped hockey and finally ran a slow 5 on the treadmill Friday, feeling pretty good. Heading out today (another raw 45-degree day), I was hoping to run somewhere between 10 and 13 depending on how I felt. Alas, the hammy tightness returned around mile 4 so I decided to turn around at 5, finishing with 10 miles; I felt okay except on hills, but obviously this thing isn't gone yet. My massage had to be rescheduled to tomorrow, so we'll see what the therapist recommends. At least I've gotten all my big miles done and can afford to rest a little. It was tough to stay inside on Tuesday and Thursday when the weather was so nice out. I'll continue to play it safe and hope the hammy doesn't bother me on race day. I feel like I can run 26.2 on this, but I hope I don't have to.

Keep stretching:
  • I've been digging the early first-round action of the NHL playoffs. There's just nothing else like it: the desperation, the intensity, the excitement. Since once again, my stupid team didn't make the playoffs, I don't have a particular rooting interest. As a result, I'm not as stressed but just as interested. I am rooting for Pittsburgh to beat Ottawa and for the Bruins to knock off Montreal (although the latter seems highly improbable). Still, how do you not get fired up watching Alex Ovechkin steal the puck and score this game-winner in game 1 of the Capitals-Flyers series? Unless you're a Flyers fan, of course (sorry, OJ).

  • I haven't had a chance to really check out Hulu, the new NBC-Fox video site, but it looks pretty awesome. They've got entire episodes of new and old TV shows as well as movies and other stuff. But before you dismiss it as a YouTube knockoff, consider that the viewing quality is about a zillion times better than good ol' YT.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Torn & Frayed

I'm feeling a little banged up these days. Last week at hockey, I collided with another player and hyperextended my elbow; it's still sore. Then when I was out doing a 15-mile run on Sunday morning, my left hamstring tightened up around mile 4. I kept going because I was four miles from home and it was raw out. I stopped and stretched a few times and walked a little, but I ran the rest. It only really bothered me on hills, but I knew that I would need to rest it this week. I've been stretching the last few days and tonight I iced it. I also booked a massage for Thursday, so hopefully that will help. Today I would normally run, but instead I did 40 minutes of cardio at the gym. I'm going to skip hockey tomorrow and we'll see how I feel later in the week. I'm supposed to do 20 miles this weekend as my last long run, but if I'm still sore, I may just skip it or do a lesser amount. No sense aggravating the injury at this point.

Pass the Ben Gay...
  • Many happy birthday wishes went out over the last few days, to my brother, my bro-in-law Steve, and my buddies Briggy and Dr. Doobs.
  • Check out some classic Chris Elliot clips from the old Letterman show on NBC. That guy was (and still is, actually) frickin' hilarious.
  • The NHL playoffs start tomorrow night and I, for one, am psyched. It's the best time of the year for me, at least in terms of sports viewing. Unfortunately, we're down to one TV because our main living room set crapped the bed last week. Another bummer is that the Leafs missed the playoffs for the third straight year, but that was no shocker. I'm rooting for Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks to win it all, but there should be some great battles along the way.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Hopscotch Willie

Just got back from a 4th birthday bash, where I was able to see parts of the Jays' 10-2 walloping of the Red Sox. Niiiiiice...


On Thursday, I met my buddy Rob at the Paradise to see Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. The show had been sold out for weeks and Malkmus has gotten a lot of good press for his latest album, Real Emotional Trash, which is excellent. Over the last several years, Malkmus' solo efforts have really stretched beyond the fractured indie rock of his legendary band Pavement. He and his current band have really embraced a jam-friendly approach with mucho guitar solos and songs that often surpass the 5-minute mark. Malkmus was in a chatty mood Thursday night, something I don't recall from the times I saw him with Pavement ('94 at the old Venus de Milo and '99 at the Roxy). He seems a lot more relaxed these days. The band ripped through a 100-minute set propelled by Malkmus' extended solos and the powerhouse drumming of Janet Weiss (formerly of Sleater-Kinney), who was amazing. I've got some S-K albums and have always been impressed with her drumming, but damn, she kicked major ass at this show. They played most of the songs off the new album, plus a selection of tunes from the previous three. In addition, they played "I Don't Care About You," an old classic by punk legends Fear. Great show. Opener John Vanderslice played a cool set that featured two things I had never seen before at a concert: the drummer played drums and keyboards simultaneously and for their last song, Vanderslice and the other members of the band went on the floor and played right in the crowd, unamplified. They all sang harmonies while Vanderslice played acoustic guitar, the bassist played violin, the keyboardist played an accordion, and the drummer played a tom tom drum.

More bulleted items:

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Don't Worry About the Government

Happy April Fool's Day! Actually, it was pretty lame as far as pranks go at my office. I remember when I would be totally suspicious of everyone and everything on April 1, especially when I had roommates. But I was so busy today I didn't even think about it.

On Sunday, I ran the Eastern States 20-Miler with Molly. It was an all-day event, as we had to get up to Hampton Beach by 8:15 and catch a bus up to the race start in Kittery, where we had to wait until the race actually began at 11. We met my friends Jon and Kerry and their friend Pam and piled onto a school bus, which ended up driving all over Kittery because the driver couldn't find the street he needed. Eventually, we got there and then had to debate over whether to wear shorts or pants. It was in the 20s when we left Beverly but it was supposed to get into the 40s with no wind by midday, so I opted for shorts. It was a good move and a great run. The weather was perfect and the scenery along the coastline was beautiful. (We actually ran right by the spot on Rye Beach where 12 years earlier--the actual anniversary was yesterday--I, my mother and my brother scattered my dad's ashes.) We finished the race in 3:02; Jon ended up finishing 14th overall (!) in 2:10 and Kerry and Pam finished 2nd and 3rd in their age category with 2:26 times. For most of the folks running, it was their last real long run before Boston; for me, I've got another two weeks of 15 and 20 miles before I begin my taper. I was a little hobbled yesterday, but none the worse for wear.

Tonight, Deb and I spent a couple of hours at a School Committee meeting, which was packed with about 500 pissed off parents voicing their displeasure over the plan to close two elementary schools next fall. There's a move afoot to have a special election to vote on whether to pass a Proposition 2 1/2 override, which would raise the $2.5 million needed to keep the schools open. Whether the general populace votes for it is another matter; it's never easy to convince people to raise their taxes, no matter how good the cause.

It being April 1, I signed up for Script Frenzy, so we'll see if I have better luck meeting this goal than I did with NaNoWriMo. The way I see it, it's another way to do some creative writing that nobody but me will ever lay eyes on.