Thursday, May 29, 2008

Until the Day is Done

The short weeks are the long ones. Five days of work condensed into four. It doesn't help that I have two book deadlines this week, which means lots of editing for yours truly. I was even too busy to go to the gym the last few days. Add to that the fact that they're doing work on the roof, so in addition to the occasional concussion blast, there's debris flying past my window like Martin Sheen in The Departed.

The big override vote is coming up next week in Beverly. Deb's been transformed into a serious activist working to help pass the override, which would provide enough money to save Hannah's school from closing next fall. Opposition forces have been out doing their part to keep the override from passing. It's hard to say what will happen. Any time you bring up the idea of raising the t-word (rhymes with "schmaxes"), you're going to get folks in an uproar, but the current economic climate makes it even less appetizing for a lot of people. But there are plenty of people who are willing to pay a little more for education, so it should be interesting next week.

Memorial Day was fun. I got up and ran a 5K in Swampscott in 22:33 (22:28 by my watch), which wasn't my best 5K time but still wasn't bad for a hilly course on a warm day. You know it was a small race because I finished 28th out of 165; too bad they spelled my name wrong in the official results. Ruh roh, Rumar! Afterwards, we went over to our friends Deb and Pete's place for a cookout with a few other families. The kids had a blast and we ate like pigs all day. Muy excellente.

Pass the dutchie:
  • Crazy stuff happening in this area in the last few days. Last night, two MBTA trolleys collided in Newton, causing a mass of twisted wreckage and killing the operator of the second trolley. It's amazing there weren't more injuries given the damage to the trolleys. Then this afternoon, there was a huge fire at a condo complex in Peabody, forcing 900 people to evacuate.
  • After Detroit totally dominated the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals with two shutouts of the Penguins, Pittsburgh finally woke up last night and took Game 3, 3-2. It was a really exciting game, with great scoring chances, big hits and good goaltending. It was a welcome change from the first two tilts, which had the life sucked out of them by the Wings. Hopefully, the Penguins will win Saturday night and make a series out of this thing.
  • You know I'm a sucker for Van Halen/Hagar news. While the reunited, DLR-led VH played in Providence last weekend (my buddy G-money tried to get me to go with him but I didn't have $50 to spare), Sammy and Michael Anthony announced this week that they're teaming up with Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and Joe Frickin' Satriani to form Chickenfoot. Hey, Sammy knows about supergroups. Of course, with a name like Chickenfoot, they should have gone with Buckethead as their guitarist. That dude's all about the chicken.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

At the Appointed Hour

Hey there, ho there. Just got back from my first golf outing of the year. It was only a quick 9 holes at Wenham Country Club with my buddy Stevie Z and his wife and son, but it was fun. Not only did we seem to have the front nine to ourselves except for one group in front of us, but I shot a 42, which is the best score I've had in years. I hit a bucket of balls yesterday after work, but I had no expectations for today. I've gotta think I'll be back to my normal sucky golf self next time out, but I'll enjoy the memory of this for a while. I have to believe I did well because I didn't have time to overthink out there and I didn't have any bad habits to fall back into since I hadn't picked up a club since last August.

The week was a busy one. I've got a lot of projects going on at work, so I've got my nose to the grindstone there. I took last weekend off from running to rest my right Achilles, which had been bothering me. It felt better this week, thankfully. I'm looking to do 7 tomorrow morning and run a 5K on Monday.

I played hockey Thursday night in Concord; it was my first skate in six weeks and my timing was way off. I was worried I might strain my hammy again, but it held up okay. Nice to get back on the ice again. I was mighty sore the next day, though.

I was remiss last week in not congratulating my sister-in-law Tricia ran her first 5K last weekend and did so in 33 minutes, which was way better than her goal time of 40. Nice work!

So what happened was...
  • The Stanley Cup finals finally start tonight with Pittsburgh taking on Detroit. This should be a really exciting series with two high-powered teams going at it. I'm picking Wings in 6, but I'm rooting for Penguins in 7.
  • So American Idol picked its winner this week. Oh yeah, I forgot, I don't give a rat's ass. I'm just counting down the days until the Lost season finale next Thursday. Speaking of which, we're rapidly running out of TiVoed stuff to watch. Time to rent season 1 of The Wire.
  • Man, it sure doesn't take much to get the rumor mill going. The latest example was when some blogger in Seattle got a text message claiming that Courtney Love was going to front the surviving members of Nirvana at the Sub Pop 20 fest this summer. Never mind that there's no way in hell that would happen, and sure enough, it was revealed as bogus. I'm sure she'd love to do it, but I could never picture Grohl and Novoselic going along after all the money-grubbing she's done since Cobain kicked.
  • So it turns out Journey's Neal Schon and former lead singer Steve Perry don't like each other so much. Not a shocker. I'm sure Schon's pissed that Perry won't rejoin the band because they'd make a ton of dough. Instead, they went and hired a guy they found on YouTube. Don't stop believin', indeed.
  • Man, I loves me the old Letterman clips. Like this one from his very first NBC "Late Night" show. First guest: Bill Murray. Gotta love it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Completely Conspicuous Episode 55: Give It Away

Greetings again. Just recorded the latest episode of CompCon. Good collection of tunage again this week. You can download it here (right click and "save as").

The show notations, if you will...

Topics:
- Presidential campaign fatigue
- Giving music away for free
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Nine Inch Nails - Discipline
- The Black Angels - Doves
- Mudhoney - In 'n Out of Grace
- Mission of Burma - Max Ernst
- Santogold - LES Artistes

Promo:
- New England Podcasting.

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

The song from Nine Inch Nails is on the new album The Slip; visit http://theslip.nin.com/ to find out more and download the album for free. The Mission of Burma song is on the reissue of the classic album Vs. The album is on Matador Records, where you can find out more and download the song.

The Mudhoney song is on the reissue of the album Superfuzz Bigmuff. The song is courtesy of Sub Pop Records, where you can find out more and download the track.

The Black Angels song is on the new album Directions to See a Ghost on Light in the Attic Records. The Santogold song is on her self-titled album on Downtown Records. Both songs is provided by IODA Promonet:

Directions To See A Ghost - iTunes ExclusiveThe Black Angels
"Doves" (mp3)
from "Directions To See A Ghost - iTunes Exclusive"
(Light In The Attic)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
More On This Album



L.E.S ArtistesSantogold
"L.E.S Artistes" (mp3)
from "L.E.S Artistes"
(Lizard King)

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 by visiting his excellent 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.

Damn Good

'Tis truly amazing, the curative powers of a lazy Sunday afternoon. Today is Deb's birthday, so Hannah helped drag my butt out of bed so I could make pancakes for everyone. I had stayed up late loading a digital picture frame with photos for Deb. Right now, she's getting some sun in the backyard.

Yesterday, we went to a surprise 40th birthday bash for my buddy Mark Campbell, who provides some of the music I use in my podcast. Mark's part of a group of us who correspond daily on a e-mail ring we call The Daily Grind; I've been part of it for eight years, but it's been going on longer than that. Funny thing, until yesterday I hadn't met a couple of the guys in person, so it was cool to finally meet them. The girls had fun playing with the other kids there while we jibba-jabba'd with the adults. The joke is now we won't have anything to e-mail each other about for at least a week. Good times.

I took the weekend off from running, as much as I hate to do that. Toward the end of the week I was feeling my right Achilles pull a bit as I ran, which is never good. Doesn't hurt, but seems as though I haven't fully recovered from the marathon. So hopefully it'll feel a little better next week.

Bullet the blue sky:
  • Apparently a lot of Indian ex-pats are putting out murder hits on rivals and ex-lovers. And there's a increase in crack use there. So welcome to 1987, India.
  • As Sly Stallone continues to make cheesy sequels well into his 60s, it's easy to forget how good some of those early movies were. First Blood (aka the first Rambo flick) was a great movie, as is evidenced by this clip featuring a young David Caruso before he became known for dramatically removing his sunglasses.
  • Looking forward to watching game 5 of the Pittsburgh-Philly series today in about 45 minutes. The Penguins are up 3-1 and looking to finish off the Flyers and head to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 16 years. Meanwhile, Dallas won yesterday to close that series to 3-2 in Detroit's favor.
  • The great public radio station KCRW has unveiled an interesting new show, featuring guest DJs such as Conan O'Brien and John Cusack. As with just about everything else on that station, it's worth checking out.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rage in the Plague Age

Checking in during a busy week. It's not quite as warm as it could be, but the weather's getting a little nicer. It got close to 70 on my drive home from work. After the crappy winter/early spring we had, it's about time. I've gotten out for some good runs in the last few days.

I'm hoping to play hockey tomorrow night for the first time in about a month. The hammy's feeling okay and it's the last skate on Wednesday night. I expect I'll be sucking major wind out there, though.

Items organized in bullet form:
  • The NHL playoffs are heading towards a Detroit-Pittsburgh final. Both teams are up 3-0 in their current series and both look tough to beat. Should be a great battle for the Cup. I'd probably have to give the edge to Detroit on the strength of experience, but the Pens have been impressive and I'm rooting for them.
  • When we first got DirecTV a few years back, one of the things I was excited about was the opportunity to watch VH1 Classic on a regular basis. At that time, the station showed random rock videos around the clock. It was just fun. But of course, parent network MTV has gone and effed it up in the last year or so, filling primetime hours with music-related movies like "Flashdance" and old VH1 content like "Behind the Music" shows (which I don't mind so much) and "Pop-Up Video" (episodes of which are about 10 years old at this point). But actual videos have been relegated to the overnight. And now it's just going to get worse. I'm sure YouTube has played a big role in this, since you can find just about any video you want there. But I like to watch videos on my TV instead of crappily digitized clips taken from some dude's old VHS tapes.
  • The Canadian postal service announced that it will release new stamps from Canuck music icons Gordon Lightfoot, Paul Anka, Anne Murray and Joni Mitchell. What, no love for the Crash Test Dummies? Mmm mmm mmm mmm, indeed.
  • As if you needed more proof, here's some video of Bill O'Reilly being a dick on the set of "Inside Edition," back in the days before he had his own show and got paid for being a dick.
  • The mighty Bea Arthur turned 86 today. Which gives me another excuse to point you to the musical stylings of Bea Arthur's Revenge.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Stranger Things Have Happened

Hola. It has been a long week. Deb's been using the computer a lot to work on a PowerPoint presentation and by the time she's finished, I've been too lazy to post anything. So here we are on Friday night.

I recovered from the marathon fairly quickly. Watching me hobble right after the race, you'd have thought it would take me a month to get back to normal, but I was only really sore for a day or so. I ran 5 on Wednesday and today and will probably get out for about an hour tomorrow if it doesn't rain too much. I even entertained the idea of playing hockey last night, but there was an open house at Hannah's school, so I wisely opted for that instead. I was going to do a 5-mile race in Gloucester tonight, but the forecast called for downpours, so I went running at lunch.

Heads or tails, friendo:
  • Man, that cyclone in Myanmar (aka Burma) took an incredible toll: The UN is estimating that casualties will hit 100,000, although the government there says the death toll is only 22,000. Of course, those idiots were refusing humanitarian aid until just a few hours ago.
  • The Boston Bruins season ended a few weeks ago, but apparently before they were done for the year, they created an interesting sponsorship opportunity. They pimped out one of their Zambonis with a gigantic Gillette Fusion razor on the back. I didn't hear about that when it happened, but good for them for getting creative.
  • The hair metal version of Woodstock is happening for five days in July at Rocklahoma: the fest features Bret Michaels, Extreme, Triumph, Dokken, LA Guns, Living Colour (not really sure what they're doing here, because they certainly transcended and outlived the hair metal scene--guess they don't have much else going on these days), Cinderella, Tesla, and Briggy's favorite band, E'Nuff Z'Nuff. There's gonna be a lot of folks in black leather frying in the sun that week.
  • Ever take a course in a subject you really liked, only to have a professor who ruined it for you? Imagine if the professor then threatened to sue you for voicing your disagreement with her theories. That happened recently at Dartmouth, where a nutjob English prof claimed her students were so unreceptive to her theories that it constituted a hostile working environment. She left the college and may not actually sue, but damn, talk about being thin-skinned.
  • I've been a Mike Myers fan for about 20 years, since I first saw him on SNL. We share a common birthplace (Scarborough, Ont.) as well an affinity for a certain crappy hockey team. But apparently, if I watch his new movie The Love Guru, or even if I don't watch it but don't do anything to stop its being released, I will go to hell. Or so say some outraged Hindu protesters, who put together a convenient table detailing the punishment in store for folks who watch it. Of course, the punishment may just be the watching: it looks like it could be really dumb.
  • Speaking of the Leafs, they fired coach Paul Maurice this week. Not a shocker after they missed the playoffs for the third straight season. The hunt for a new GM continues as well. My hopes are low as always with this poorly run club. I'm just a glutton for punishment, I guess.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I Ran

Mission accomplished. The weather cooperated, my hamstring felt fine, and I ran the New Jersey Marathon in 3:43:11 (UPDATE: The results are out. My chip time was 3:43:06, clock time was 3:44:06), beating my previous best by three minutes.

Matt and I drove down to Middletown, NJ, yesterday afternoon to check into our hotel and then went to Long Branch to pick up my race number and timing chip. The race expo was held in a tent on the beach; it was previously held in a nearby hotel, but apparently a wedding took precedence. The winds were blowing fiercely off the ocean, threatening to blow the tent away. We went back to the hotel, where we watched parts of "Varsity Blues" and "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" on TNT (they had to bleep or dub a whole lot of the latter) before heading out to a Macaroni Grill for dinner. I chowed on some chicken parm and pasta as well as salad and bread, thoroughly stuffing myself. Although I was pretty full last night, I knew it would provide me with some good fuel for the race. It had started misting and looked to be a preview of the race weather.

We got up at 5 and were parked in Long Branch a little after 6. The race started at 7:30, so we hung out for a while in the van just watching people show up. Finally just before 7 we walked over to the race start. It was foggy and in the high 40s, but not raining. I was wearing shorts and a short-sleeve tech shirt, but had a cheap jacket I picked up at the expo for $7; I planned to ditch it after the first few miles. As it turned out, I just wore it for a while before the race and then took it off before the start. The race was two flat 13.1-mile loops through Long Branch, starting and ending at the beach. I decided to run behind the 3:40 pace runner, figuring I could drop back if I needed to. But I got into a good rhythm and stuck with him (doing 8:20 miles) for most of the race. It wasn't until mile 22 that I had to drop back. I started getting some stomach cramps, not food-related but just muscle tightening, and walked a little. I wasn't able to really get going again until partway through mile 23 and picked up my pace again. Although the 3:40 pace was shot, I managed to get in at 3:43 and felt strong at the end. It was a great experience; the race was well-run and well-organized. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a small marathon (2,500 ran the marathon; 5,500 ran the half). Matt was a great spectator, showing up at several points to cheer me on. The weather worked out perfectly; the clouds didn't part until right after I was finished. On the way home, we hit a McDonald's and I picked up a Quarter Pounder with cheese; guess I was craving some junk food.

So marathon number 9 was a definite success. I know I could have broken 3:40 if I hadn't had those cramps. I'm seriously considering running the Philadelphia Marathon in November; it'll give me nearly three months before I have to start training again and I won't have to worry about it being too warm (I hope).

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Ain't Got Nothin' (To Go Wrong)

Greetings from gloomy New Jersey: Hopefully by this time tomorrow, I'll have finished the New Jersey Marathon. We drove down last night and got here around 9:45. Right now, it's about 48 degrees out and cloudy; I would LOVE for this weather to still be around tomorrow for the race. Alas, the forecasts are calling for rain tomorrow morning. The race starts at 7:30 and I hope I can finish in 3:45 or better, but I honestly have no idea if I can actually do it. I just hope it doesn't rain too hard. My left hammy is still a little tight, but I don't know if it'll bother me during the race. I feel good and am optimistic I'll have a good race. I'm not bringing my iPod, so I'll have to rely on the music in my head. Better listen to any Wiggles between now and then.

Originally the plan was for me and Matt to head down today and then our wives and kids to come down later after they go to a birthday party, but since it's kinda raw and lousy out, I cancelled the second hotel room we had. It'll just be me and Matt going down; he was going to run the half-marathon but has been too busy with work to train, so he'll just be cheering me on. Deb and I both have Monday off from work, so we'll stay over here Sunday night so I don't have to sit in eight hours of traffic to get home that night.

I'll check in with a race report tomorrow or Monday.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Completely Conspicuous Episode 54: Once Bitten, Twice Shy

While praying for no rain on Sunday in New Jersey, I cranked out the latest episode of CompCon. Download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:
- Shark attack hysteria
- Lessons learned from six years of parenting
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Dead Meadow - What Needs Must Be
- Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Cold Son
- Centro-Matic - I the Kite
- Wolf Parade - Call It a Ritual
- Joseph Arthur - Killer's Knife

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 Dead Meadow is on their album Old Growth; the Stephen Malkmus song is on the album Real Emotional Trash. Both albums are on Matador Records, where you can find out more and download the songs.

The Centro-Matic song is on the new album Dual Hawks. The song is courtesy of Misra Records, where you can find out more and download the track. The song from Wolf Parade is on the new album At Mount Zoomer. The song is courtesy of Sub Pop Records, where you can find out more and download the track.

The Joseph Arthur song is on the EP Crazy Rain on Lonely Astronaut Records. The song is provided by IODA Promonet:

Crazy RainJoseph Arthur
"Killer's Knife" (mp3)
from "Crazy Rain"
(Lonely Astronaut Records)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at Rhapsody
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at GroupieTunes
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.