Thursday, July 24, 2008

Completely Conspicuous Episode 59: Spin the Black Circle

Harking back to the days when I used to do the podcast every week, I cranked out the latest ep of CompCon a mere eight days after the last one. I wanted to get a second July show done and finish it before we headed away on vacation, which we're doing tomorrow. Download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

- The resurgence of vinyl albums
- The fattening of America
- Pinhead of the Week

- Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?
- The Oxford Collapse - The Birthday Wars
- Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning - Hit the Wall
- The New Pornographers - Myriad Harbor

- New England Podcasting.

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

The Ted Leo and the Pharmacists song is on the album Hearts of Oak; find out more at . The song is on Lookout Records, where you can find out more and download the track.

The Oxford Collapse song is on the album Bits on Sub Pop Records, where you can find out more and download the track.

The New Pornographers song is on the album Challengers on Matador Records, where you can find out more and download the track.

The Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning song is on the album Something for All of Us on Arts and Crafts Records; find out more at . The song is provided by IODA Promonet:

Something for All of Us...Broken Social Scene Presents: Brendan Canning
"Hit The Wall" (mp3)
from "Something for All of Us..."
(Arts & Crafts)

Buy at Rhapsody
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at mTraks Download
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.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Land of the Freak

T-minus two days until vacation. I've been working feverishly to get all my work done before Friday, so I won't have to finish anything while we're down in NJ. I've been down that road before, and it ain't fun.

So I'm leaving for work Monday morning and I notice that the right rear tire on the Maxima is a little low. I swing by the Hess station because the air is free there, but the stupid machine is out of order. No big deal; I decided to fill it up on the way home. Of course, I get out of work at 5 and the damn tire is flat. A veteran of countless tire changes, I spent about 20 minutes jacking the car up and unscrewing the nuts on the tire, but I couldn't pull the tire off. It had rusted onto the wheel. A guy who works at one of the other businesses in our building came out to help me, but he couldn't get the tire off, either. Finally another guy who works for our building's landlord came out with a big mallet and gave it a couple of good whacks and off came the tire. I put the donut on and drove home. Tuesday morning, I went to a nearby garage to drop off the car to have the tire repaired or replaced, but the mechanic couldn't find a leak. He inflated the tire, I put it back on, and off I went to work.

Deb and I went out to dinner last night to celebrate our 8th anniversary (which was actually last Monday). It was a good time, although the old couple next to us were so loud it was hard to have a conversation.

Tonight, Hannah is away at her very first sleepover at a friend's house. Lily didn't react to this well at first, but she's dealing better now. I just put her to bed, so we'll see how often she comes down to visit.

Counting down the hours:
  • Proclaimed as the top choice as John McCain's VP, Louisiana governor (and fellow brown dude) Bobby Jindal says he won't take the job if asked. Interesting. He says he wants to stick with the job he has, which is cool. Although it's interesting that despite his relative lack of experience (he's 37), a lot of conservatives are touting him as a viable VP candidate. Apparently, he's more conservative than McCain.
  • This is unbelievable: This moron in Rhode Island was arrested after crashing his car into an electronic billboard and blew a .491 on the Breathalyzer! Considering the legal limit is .08, experts say the guy is lucky to be alive. One expert estimated that the guy would have had to have 24 drinks over six hours to hit that level. If you're in the vicinity of a .5 blood-alcohol count, you're either unconscious or near death. Something tells me he'll be out doing it again in the near future.
  • This is one of the funniest blogs I've read in some time: Cake Wrecks. It features professionally decorated cakes that have been messed up in some way. Hilarious stuff.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Come on Down

It's gonna be a hot one today. Supposed to get up into the mid-90s. We're going up to Portsmouth to see a version of "Beauty and the Beast" performed in a park. At noon. Hopefully we can find some shade.

Only a week to go before we head down to Joisey Shore for our vacation. Actually, we're leaving next Friday. Can't wait, although the heat and humidity down there should make what we're dealing with now feel like a crisp fall day.

The New England Revolution are one of the better teams in the MLS, but they are receiving some different acclaim today after team officials subdued a crazy naked guy on their flight who was trying to open the emergency exit. Must have been a wild scene.

There was some good rock on TV this week. As I mentioned earlier, Rush was on The Colbert Report Wednesday, making their first U.S. TV appearance since 1975 on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert (back when they were young). Check it out here. Pretty funny stuff. And the Hold Steady were on the Letterman show the same night, playing "Sequestered in Memphis" and appearing in a pre-taped bit earlier in the show.

All right, time to go do some sweating.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Completely Conspicuous Episode 58: She Blinded Me With Science

Back again with another episode of CompCon. If you're not already subscribed to the podcast, download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes, if you will...

- Hi-tech underwear
- The wacky world of online dating
- Pinhead of the Week

- King Khan and the Shrines - Torture
- The HiFi Handgrenades - Carry On
- I Walk the Line - Stigmatized
- Ladyhawk - War

- New England Podcasting.

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

The King Khan and the Shrines song is on the album The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines. The song is on Vice Records, where you can find out more and download the track.

The HiFi Handgrenades song is on the album Carry On on New Romance for Kids Records, where you can find out more and download the track.

The Ladyhawk song is on the EP Fight for Anarchy on Jagjaguwar Records, where you can, yes, find out more and download the track.

The I Walk the Line song is on their forthcoming album Black Wave Rising on Gearhead Records. The song is provided by IODA Promonet:

Black Wave RisingI Walk the Line
"Stigmatized" (mp3)
from "Black Wave Rising"
(Gearhead Records)

Buy at Rhapsody
Buy at Napster
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at mTraks Download
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 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.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Constructive Summer

Was ist los? Just hanging here digging the new Hold Steady album, Stay Positive. I actually went and bought the CD today at Best Buy; I would have downloaded it off eMusic, but the CD included three bonus tracks, so I decided to pick that up instead. Of course, they combined them all on one track, which is annoying. But the album itself is excellent. I'm looking forward to listening to this throughout the summer. They actually played a free show at the Paradise last month that you could only get in via RSVP through; I got on the list but it was the same night as the Corporate Challenge and I couldn't blow that off, so there you have it. But I'm sure they'll swing through here at some point in the near future, so I'll catch them then.

Last night, I was flipping back and forth from the MLB Home Run Derby to TiVoed stuff. I've always enjoyed watching the derby in the past, but this year, I was kinda blase about it. But then I switched back and Josh Hamilton of the Rangers was hitting and I watched him hit 28 freakin' homers in the first round, most of which were of the bizzomb variety. Three were over 500 feet. He had the Yankee Stadium crowd losing its collective mind; they were chanting his name. The story was made all the better with the knowledge that the former number 1 draft pick was only a few years removed from a serious drug addiction. He was out of the game for three years before working his way back and this season threatening for the Triple Crown. And last night, although he didn't win the HR derby, he put on a show for the ages. Pretty cool.

Eggs over easy:
  • Stephen Colbert plans to have Rush on his show tomorrow: The legendary Canuck power trio, not the blubbery right wing radio guy. Nerds rejoice!
  • So the other day we were hanging out with some friends and I was wondering why I can never find Pete's Wicked Ale anymore. Pete's was my go-to beer for several years in the mid- to late-'90s, when after softball games we would hit the bar that sponsored our team. It was an excellent brown ale that went down smooth but had some heft to it. I also enjoyed Pete's Summer Brew. But over the last several years, Pete's has all but disappeared from stores and bars around here. I found some Wanderlust Cream Ale at a local store a few years ago, but I suspect that had been on the shelves there for a while. Doing a little Web research, I found that founder Pete Slosberg sold the company in '98 to the Gambrinus conglomerate, which brews Corona. But it appears the beer, if it is made anymore, has disappeared. Slosberg went into the chocolate business a few years back. Plenty of beers have replaced Pete's for me, but I would love to get ahold of a six-pack of the classic Pete's Wicked.
  • I laughed my arse off when I saw the end result of the big Jose Canseco-Vai Sikahema boxing match over the weekend. The hulking former steroid aficionado Canseco, who wanted to fight a fellow former pro athlete, had previously rebuffed former NHL enforcer Lyndon Byers in favor of the much smaller Sikahema, a former NFL kick returner. So it was poetic justice when Sikahema proceeded to knock Canseco out. Beautiful.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

House a Home

Okay, here's the newly improved look of our house. Pretty shahp, huh?

Dinosaur Act

Ah, a Saturday morning. Gotta love it. Deb let me sleep in today, which was much appreciated. Of course, she's got a lot of household chore stuff planned for me today, so I guess I shouldn't be too psyched.

The house painting is all done, finally. The place looks great. I'll post a photo sometime today.

I played hockey Thursday night for the first time in about six weeks, and the second time in the last three months. After the marathon in May, one thing after another came up; Deb was busy on some Thursday nights and I had some conflicts and all of a sudden, here we are in July. I actually felt pretty good out there, although my timing was way off. I could feel it later in the skate when I was getting winded much quicker. But I did manage to pop in a couple of goals, so that was cool. A guy on my team brought his 13-year-old son to play with us and the kid was pretty good, but damn, did he make me feel old.

Last night, I finished moving my CDs into wallets, at least the majority of them that I had alphabetized. I still have soundtracks, EPs, and a ton of bootlegs to file away. One thing I discovered during this exhaustive process was that jewel cases aren't recyclable; I had just assumed they were, but the type of plastic they're made of isn't accepted by our city recycling program (or pretty much any city's program). There's one place up in Salem, NH, that accepts them, but I wasn't about to ship 1,000 jewel cases up there. So I had to throw them out. It's kinda mind-blowing to think of how much space they used to take up compared to now. I have the booklets stored with the CDs, but not the inserts; I saved them, so I'm trying to figure out what to do with them. Might turn into an art project or something.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Daily Mutilation

Kickin' it in lazy Sunday afternoon mode. We got back yesterday afternoon from Maine and the Around Mount Desert Island Relay. We left Thursday after 1 and made good time with surprisingly light traffic for the 279-mile trek to Bar Harbor; took us about four and a half hours, including a couple of bathroom stops. We met up with the other folks on the relay team at a pizza joint about a half hour from our hotel: Jon and Kerry, Rick and his family, and Jon's buddies Ken and Tom, who both live in Maine. We were dubbed RW2, in a nod to the team we entered in the River to Sea relay in NJ a few years back. There were eight teams total and unlike the NJ relay, we wouldn't have to worry about starting too late. The race didn't take itself too seriously; each team was given a Barbie doll as a relay baton. Ours wore a purple dress.

Back at the hotel, we hung out in Ken and Tom's room drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, which has its appeal, I suppose, but is not recommended on the night before running a hilly relay race. I wasn't too concerned, since I wouldn't be running until leg 6 (of 8), meaning I didn't have to run until around noon. Of course, my stomach didn't feel particularly great Friday morning, so I had several hours to ponder what that would mean for my 8.45-mile leg, which was described as "VERY HILLY!"

The weather was nice in the morning, clear and not too warm. Kerry led off and kicked butt, but as Jon and I drove the route in one of the two support vehicles, we noticed a lot of hills. The surrounding scenery was incredible as we ran and drove around the island. As the morning wore on, it got warmer and warmer, so I knew I'd be in for a tough one. I just hoped I wouldn't experience any gastric distress. Jon felt the after-effects of the PBR and hurled during his first leg (he and Rick both did two legs). Of course, he still burned it up at a 6:20 pace. Dude can flat-out fly.

Meanwhile, Deb and the girls went to the July 4th parade in Bar Harbor and then hung at the hotel pool.

Finally, it came time for me to run. I was expecting the worst in terms of hills and heat and I got it. There were all sorts of hills: gradual, steep, seemingly endless. I kept chugging along, occasionally walking a bit after a particularly brutal climb. Jon and Kerry brought me water and Gatorade every mile. I took advantage of some long downhill stretches to make up time and finally I saw Rick waiting for me about three-tenths of a mile away. Fortunately, it was all downhill and I just kicked it into high gear, hoping I wouldn't go too fast and wipe out. I finished in 1:06:57 (about a 7:50 pace) and felt pretty good. I was also glad I didn't have to run again. Rick and Jon finished strong and overall, we came in fourth.

We hung out at the finish for a while, enjoying the beer and pizza as well as the nice weather. After showering back at the hotel, we piled back into our vehicles and drove close to an hour away to Prospect Harbor, where Ken's parents threw us a post-race bash. Any grumbling about the drive dissipated when we saw their house, which was ridiculously nice and had about as perfect a view as you're going to find anywhere. It was right on the harbor; talk about doing it right. We spent a few hours there and the kids had a blast running around on the grass and looking for sea glass on the beach. Finally, we left around 9:30 and drove back just in time to get stuck in traffic from the aftermath of Bar Harbor's fireworks. Apparently Bar Harbor shuts off the streets, so we sat for nearly an hour; fortunately the kids had fallen asleep. Very frustrating. Once we got back to our hotel, we all were so wiped, we just went to bed.

Saturday morning, we went downtown for breakfast and then headed out, stopping at the LL Bean outlet for a bit. Again, the traffic wasn't bad and we made it home in decent time.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Holy humidity! Man, it has been moist around here the last few days. Not great sleeping weather. We've also had a lot of Florida-like volatile storm systems kicking around lately, making things even more unpredictable than they usually are. On Saturday, it was actually kinda chilly as temps hovered around 60 degrees. I played nine holes of golf at Salem Muni with some buddies from work and although I shot pretty terribly (59), I had a good time. Later that afternoon, we went to a birthday party and people were actually cold at times. By Sunday, the humidity moved in. I ran 10 miles in the a.m. and figured the 65-degree temps would make for a great run. Wrong. It was so humid, I was drenched halfway through. Later in the day, Deb and I drove down to Stoughton to go to IKEA to buy a big-ass shelf unit for the guest room; took me a couple of hours to put the thing together. Then I threw myself into another huge project: Putting my entire CD collection into CD wallets. I've got over 1,200 CDs by my estimate and they were in various locations throughout the house and driving both Deb and I crazy for different reasons. I actually bought a 300-CD wallet last year and started to fill it, but got sidetracked and never went back to it. At IKEA, we found 80-CD wallets for $3 each, so we picked up five just to get me started again. Sunday night, I spent about five hours just alphabetizing everything, as well as separating bootlegs, mix CDs, EPs, soundtracks, and other crap. Then I started refilling the big wallet; right now, I'm up to the D's. This is going to take a while.

I've been pretty wiped out all day because last night I went to the Pearl Jam show at the Comcast Center in Mansfield with my friend Gary and Brad. Awesome show. It was the last night of a short 12-show tour of the East Coast; they don't have a new album to promote, they just toured for the hell of it. As such, they played a ton of old stuff, especially from the first three albums, and generally seemed to have a blast. We got there and saw the last half of Ted Leo's set; he rules. Walking around, we saw a ton of frat boys and their girlfriends, but we also saw a fair amount of parents and their kids. I guess some of those parents were in their 30s when Pearl Jam released their first album in 1991, 17 freakin' years ago. The band played for about two hours, culminating in a smoking version of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" with Ted Leo and his band. PJ probably would have played another hour if it wasn't for the stupid Mansfield 11 p.m. curfew. Just as well, since I had a long way to go. We parked in a side lot behind a nearby business, so we didn't have to wait quite as long as the folks in the official parking lots. Finally got home a little after 1:30, so I'm pretty fried right about now.

Flyin' the flannel:
  • The NHL's silly season, aka free agency, began today. The two biggest available free agents, Mats Sundin and Marian Hossa, were still unsigned as of this writing, but they have received some huge offers; Sundin was offered $10 million a year for two years. He's a great player, but that's crazy money. The Leafs signed three players--forward Niklas Hagman, defenseman Jeff Finger and goalie Curtis Joseph--but none of them are particuarly impressive to me. Lots of moves are being made, but it looks like my team will continue to suck next season.
  • We're getting ready to head up to Maine on Thursday. I'm running with some friends in the Around Mount Desert Island Relay on Friday; it's an eight-leg, 61-mile race. It takes place at Acadia National Park and should be fun. We head back on Saturday to beat the traffic hopefully.
  • Happy Canada Day! To celebrate, here's some Canadian content for you: Rush performing "YYZ" in Brazil. The amazing part is that the audience is actually singing along to an instrumental. Of course, it's a terrific instrumental.