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...

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

- 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

- 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...

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

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

- 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.

Driver 8

Here's the helmet sticker we're using to commemorate Mike's #8.

Do You Feel Bad About It?

Hola, nerditos. I'm digging this cool fall weather. Just went out for a nice 18.9-miler through Beverly, Salem and Marblehead; met up with Molly for last 7.5. Only two more long runs before the taper. Nice. Running through Salem was tough, what with the 8 zillion tourists and all. They must rake in some serious cash this time of year.

It was a tough week. I don't write about my job here, so all I'll say is things were pretty grim around the office this week. I'm just glad the weekend's here.

Because I've got so much free time, I've agreed to start writing a biweekly running column for my old newspaper. Not sure on the details yet, but I'll post a link when the thing actually starts appearing on the InterWebs.

At hockey, one of the guys had stickers made up with Mike's #8, so we all put them on our helmets to honor him. Pretty cool gesture. I'll post a pic later. It was also decided that each week we'd honor the player of the week with the McGilvery award, also known as his old helmet. One of the goalies won the inaugural honor.

In addition to all the craziness at work this week, I was extra fried yesterday after staying up late to watch the Sox come back from a 7-0 deficit to beat the Rays. It was one of the most incredible things I'd ever seen in baseball. After the Rays tacked on two in the top of the 7th to make it 7-0, people started streaming out of Fenway and I went over to the computer. But then I heard the Sox score a run and Ortiz was coming up with two men on. I ran over to see what would happen. The announcers said Papi hadn't hit a postseason homer in 61 at-bats and then BOOM!, it was 7-4. I woke up Deb and we watched the rest of the way, right til 12:30 or so. Now, of course, some folks think the Sox can't lose. They're still down 3-2 and Josh Beckett's going tonight; he was lit up last time. I'm certainly no Sox fan, but I wouldn't mind seeing it go to game 7.

I watched my first Leafs game of the season last night against the Rangers and they actually looked pretty good, at least until the third period when they started taking penalties and were pinned in their end. But they didn't give up any goals; they lost 1-0 in a shootout. There were a lot of new faces and I was impressed with their team speed. I still think it's going to be a long year, though. Maybe they'll have a Cup contender by the time I'm 50.

Abbreviated thoughts:
  • So the latest scuttlebutt on the long-gestating (15 years in the making and counting) Guns N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy" is that it will be released on November 25 through an exclusive deal with Best Buy. And yes, Dr. Pepper will have a tie-in for a free soda for every American. The soda may be better than the album.
  • Sarah Palin is appearing on SNL tonight. Although I'm having a tough time envisoning how she can be funnier than she is in real life.
  • Berkeley Breathed, creator of the legendary comic strip "Bloom County" and the current "Opus," is retiring the strip to write children's books. Opus was a Sunday-only strip, but was still better than 90% of the stuff out there. Although the old Bloom County strips were a must-read back in the day. I need to get that stuff in book form.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Deep Fascination

Happy Columbus Day (or Thanksgiving if you're Canadian). Me, I had to work today. At least the stock market roller coaster went in the right direction today, up 900+ points. Deb and the girls had the day off. It was a busy weekend.

Saturday night, I joined Doobs and OJ to catch the first Feelies show in Boston since 1991. The Roxy was maybe half full, which was a shame because the band sounded incredible. Admittedly, I'm late to the party on these guys, but I've been getting a crash course in them the last few weeks (in addition to the concert, Doobs let me borrow the band's entire catalog plus side projects). Frontman and lead guitarist Glenn Mercer didn't talk much between songs, but he was pretty animated, jumping around the stage as he ripped off sharp leads and solos. Usually at rock shows, I'm the elder statesman in the crowd, but this show definitely made me feel young. Lots of gray hair, chrome domes and big guts. There was the obligatory guy in front of us who felt the need to take the same photo with his iPhone about 75 times. I enjoyed the guy just behind me with the sonorous voice who every so often would intone, "Tremendous!" or "Outstanding!" The band played for about 80 minutes, including two new songs and a generous helping of old classics from their four studio albums and some covers. Check out OJ's review for more details.

I got home around midnight to catch some of the Sox-Rays game, but could only stay up until 1 before I started falling asleep. I went to bed with the game tied at 8 in the 10th. We had the radio on in the bedroom, but I fell asleep right away. Didn't find out until the next morning that the Rays won in the 11th. They smoked the Sox 9-1 today, so now they're up 2-1 in the series.

Yesterday, we headed to Holliston for a surprise 40th b-day bash for my old buddy Bob. We actually got there just before he did, but we parked up the street and ducked down when he drove by. We heard the "Surprise!" emanate from inside the house as we were unloading from the van, but at least we didn't ruin it. It was good hanging with Bob, Doobs, and the rest of the Daily Grind gang (a bunch of us who have been part of an e-mail ring for the last eight years or so). We spent a few hours there before heading back home. I watched the Patriots get destroyed by San Diego last night; that was no fun. Methinks it's time for a new quarterback, Bill.

Commence with the bullets:
  • Shocking news out of the hockey world, where top Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov died today during a game in Russia. Cherepanov, 19, who was a teammate of former Rangers star Jaromir Jagr, collapsed on the bench near the end of the game. Doctors were unable to revive him and reported the cause of death as cardiac arrest. At first it was believed that the arrest was caused by a collision Cherepanov had with Jagr, but later reports said that was untrue. He was a first-pick of the Rangers in 2007 and was expected to play in the NHL in an upcoming season. Truly sad.
  • The Florida Panthers have always had a tough time selling tickets in such a non-hockey environment. But management have come up with a interesting promotion: They're giving away tickets to one game to anyone with a driver's license, in the hopes they'll get hooked. It's worth a shot. Now if they put a half-decent team on the ice, they might just keep those fans.
  • One of the funniest things I watch each week is E's "The Soup," and here's just one reason why.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's Only Life

Man, it was a long week. Found out Monday that my friend from hockey, Mike, died less than two weeks after having a stroke at the rink. He had undergone surgery to relieve pressure on his brain and then had two more strokes, after which he was left essentially brain dead. His mom decided to take him off the ventilator and he died Monday. He was 36. On Wednesday night, our regular hockey night was transformed into something different: Guys who hadn't been there in years showed up to pay tribute to Mike. We had nearly 40 guys there; some just came to watch and drink beers afterward. On my team, we rotated through three offensive lines, which is unheard of; usually, we might have two. But the level of play between our team, Team Black, and Mike's old team, Team White, was really high. Everybody played extra hard and White won the first (their first of the season) by sheer force of will. We came back and won the last two games, but it was a great skate. White kept Mike's old gloves, helmet and skates on the bench with them, and afterward, they brought the stuff out into the parking lot. A DVD with old footage taken at the Boston Garden when a bunch of the guys played there a few years back was playing on someone's laptop. We were all still kind of in shock over the whole thing; I don't think anyone expected him to die.

I went to the wake in East Boston Thursday night, kind of expecting it to be pretty quiet because I thought a lot of guys would have gone right after work. I had to help coach Hannah's soccer practice, so I didn't get to the funeral home until 7. It was packed, mostly with guys from hockey. It was open casket, which was tough, but Mike's mom was grateful that we were all there. A lot of those guys had known him for 10 years or more; the hockey rental basically started in the mid-90s. I've only been playing with these guys for three years. We hung out there for a while and then went to a bar across the street to have a few beers and remember Mike. The funeral was Friday morning, but I couldn't go; I had a big meeting right around the same time. But I was glad to go Thursday night and be a small part of the way the whole group of guys came together.

Put the biscuit in the basket:
  • I'm meeting up with my buddies Doobs and OJ tonight to catch the Feelies at the Roxy. Should be a great show. The Feelies are a revered post-punk band from NJ that was around from the late '70s to the early '90s, but recently reunited to play some shows this summer. I have to admit I knew them more by reputation than music; they're a huge influence on tons of indie rock bands from R.E.M. to the Strokes. Their albums are all out of print now; I actually borrowed a couple on vinyl from a friend this week and also found a bunch of MP3s on the InterWebs. Here's an old clip of them on Letterman circa 1991.
  • The NHL season is underway. I missed it because I was at the wake, but the Wings-Leafs game Thursday was preceded by a performance by Def Leppard. So at one point, Darren McCarty brings the Stanley Cup onstage and Lep singer Joe Elliott hoists it over his head. Then he puts it on a pedestal UPSIDE DOWN. Hilarious. Apparently nobody explained to him which end was up, although you'd think that was obvious from the cup on the top and the massive base on the bottom. Even better, the Leafs embarrassed the Wings after their Cup banner-raising ceremony by beating them 3-2. Ha ha!
  • Speaking of hockey, it should be interesting tonight when self-proclaimed "America's favorite hockey mom" Sarah Palin will drop the puck at the Flyers home opener. I guess Flyers owner Ed Snider is a big GOP supporter, but some critics have cried foul and want fans to turn their backs during the ceremony. Love her or hate her, Palin knows how to get a reaction from people.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Paranoia (Never Enough)

Blogimafying while the debate drags on...Honestly, I'm not hearing anything I haven't heard before. It's just in a different format. 'Nuff said.

We're in that weird stretch where it's downright chilly in the morning, standing out there waiting for the bus, but by midday, it's nice and comfortable. Great running weather.

The Red Sox won their series with the Angels last night in exciting fashion. Now they take on the Rays. I'm predicting Sox in 7, while I think the Dodgers will beat Philly in 6. Then, yep, it'll be Sox-Dodgers in the World Series.

Pins and needles:
  • Hell hath no fury like a former child actor scorned. Or whatever. Some loser who appeared once on the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" is now on trial for murder and his lawyer already admitted the guy did the killings. He's arguing for life in prison over the death penalty.
  • Ugh. Another rough day on Wall Street, with the Dow dropping another 500 points. So much for the 401(k). Looks like I'll won't be retiring for another 50 years or so.
  • Luke Walton's got a good life. He's in the NBA, his dad's a Hall of Famer, he's got plenty of dough. But he's also got a scary looking stalker.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Slipping (Into Something)

So here we are in October, a month I've always enjoyed. The temps get a little crisper and cooler, the colors change. The days start getting shorter, which isn't as enjoyable. The Halloween hype starts earlier every year; some folks had already decorated their homes a few weeks ago. I've always been a big fan of Halloween, too, especially when I used to go to Halloween parties. Putting together a good costume is fun. Nowadays, it's all about the girls, but my office hosts a Halloween party for the employees' kids, so I usually slap a costume together for that. Not sure what I'm going to do this year. As with most things, it's decided very last minute.

Fall also means the start of the NHL season, at least for me. The season starts this weekend with four games in Europe: The Lightning and Rangers play two in Prague, while the Senators and Penguins play two in Stockholm. Then the rest of the games start next Thursday. My fantasy hockey draft is tomorrow night. I'm prepared for the Leafs to suck especially hard this year; they've dumped a lot of salary and captain Mats Sundin still hasn't decided if he's coming back, so they're assuming he isn't (seriously, make up your friggin' mind already, pal). There's an argument that they should just tank the season in order to get a high draft pick again, but it's hard for me to root for my team to lose.

The baseball playoffs are poised to end in four sweeps: The Red Sox, Rays, Dodgers and Phillies are all up 2-0 in the best-of-5 series. I tried to stay up and watch the Sox last night, but I was so tired from the week, I only made it to the 7th inning or so. I feel bad for Cubs fans, who felt like this was their big chance to get back to the World Series; the Cubs have stumbled badly so far and Manny Ramirez has just been mashing the ball for LA.

Pass the cider:
  • It may be 13 years too late, but OJ Simpson was finally found guilty. Well, it was for armed robbery and kidnapping of some sports memorabilia dealers he thought was ripping him off last year, but at least it's something. Geez, you'd think the guy would be satisfied with getting away with the crime of the century (last century, anyway) and just live a quiet life out of the limelight. Guess he just likes the attention. He'll get plenty of attention where he's going for the rest of his life.
  • So, like a lot of people, we watched the Biden-Palin debate Thursday night and it wasn't the unmitigated disaster I expected. She didn't freeze in the headlights or say something too stupid, and he didn't have any gaffes or get in attack dog mode. Of course, she didn't answer a lot of questions, preferring to focus on getting her folksy "hockey mom" vibe going, all the while keeping a grin plastered on her face and peppering her responses with phrases like "doggone it" and "you betcha." Biden tried to portray himself as a man of the people who goes to Home Depot and the local gas station all the time, but I'm not sure if anyone bought it. But he did hammer away at McCain repeatedly, rather than attack Palin, and that was smart. Now the focus turns back to the people who are actually running for president.
  • Happy birthday to Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham, who turned 59 yesterday. The man's a musical genius, but is seriously underrated in my opinion as both a songwriter and a guitarist.