Sunday, March 29, 2009

Get Up On Down

Man, March is almost over and it's going out with a whimper. It's a raw day out there, rainy but just kinda blah. Which is fine by me, especially since I got my long run in yesterday when it was nice out. I drove in to Newton and ran the hills on the Marathon course. I felt pretty good and ran the vaunted hills without stopping. Only three weeks to go...

Yesterday started with my fantasy baseball draft, which was held here. I had to draft a team for my friend Matt, who couldn't make it, as well as mine, but I think I did okay. You never know until the season starts.

So my March Madness has waned after my pick to win it all, Memphis, choked its way out of the tourney Thursday night in an ugly loss to Missouri. They couldn't hit a free throw or three-pointed to save their lives. But the tournament I really care about, the NCAA hockey tourney, started this weekend and my alma mater, UNH, pulled out a shocker of a win. I TiVoed the game so I could get my run in and I'm glad I did; I'm also glad I decided to run instead of stay home and watch the game. Because ESPN2 was airing a college lacrosse game that went into overtime. I figured, no big deal, lacrosse games are high scoring so this should be over quick. The game was tied 9-9 and went into SEVEN overtimes before it ended. As a result, the UNH-North Dakota game wasn't shown until late in the second period. I would have been losing my mind had I been home to watch it; instead, I was able to fast-forward until the game actually showed up. So it was back and forth until late in the game when ND had a 5-4 lead. UNH pulls the goalie, wins the draw and ties the game up with .1 seconds left. Yep, one-tenth of a second. Insane. Game goes to OT and UNH wins on a sweet one-timer from Peter LeBlanc 45 seconds in. Awesome. So mere moments from when I'm typing this, they'll play BU to decide who moves on to the Frozen Four. But thanks to the ESPN conglomerate, they've decided to air the game on ESPNU, which isn't carried by DirecTV or Comcast. Brilliant. So I have to listen to it online through Yahoo. Better than nothing, I guess, but it still sucks. With all the channels ESPN has, why couldn't it find one that people actually get for the game? Nice job, pinheads. [UPDATE: UNH ended up losing 2-1 with 14 seconds to go in regulation. BU scored on a power play, when a pass banked in off a UNH player. Tough way to lose, but at least they didn't get killed.]

Out like a lamb:
  • One of my favorite movies, Dazed and Confused, is about to spawn a sequel of sorts. Which on first look doesn't sound promising, but when you find out that Richard Linklater is working on the project and none of the original characters from the 1993 flick are returning, maybe this will be cool after all. Where the original featured a group of kids on the last day of school in 1976, the new movie would look at kids in college in 1980. Linklater's still trying to get financing, but I'd be interested in seeing the movie. He's proven he can do a sequel when he made Before Sunset nine years after Before Sunrise. Both movies are excellent. So here's hoping he do the same thing with this new movie.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Completely Conspicuous Episode 73: Can't Hear the Revolution

Here's the latest episode of CompCon, featuring part 2 of my conversation with Jay Breitling. You can listen to it in streaming audio here or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:
- Digital music sales
- The state of live music
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Shearwater - Rooks
- The Riverboat Gamblers - Don't Jinx

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

The Shearwater song is on the album Rook on Matador Records, where you can find out more and download the track.

The Riverboat Gamblers song is on their new album Underneath the Owl on Volcom Entertainment. Find out more and download the song 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 blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. 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.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Soul Typecast

Word up. I'm battling through some sort of sinus allergy thing that has had me congested and struggling with headaches for the last few days. Despite that, I had a kickass 5.3-miler in Marblehead at lunch in the beautiful sun. Now it's raw and rainy out, but that's supposed to go away by tomorrow. I got my Boston Marathon bib number in the mail today: 23927. Unlike last week when my back was killing me, I feel pretty good right now.


This weekend, I'm planning to head out to Newton to run the hills of the marathon course. I want to do it first thing Sunday morning, but it looks like it's supposed to pour, so I might go Saturday afternoon after my fantasy baseball draft is over. I'm actually hosting the event this year; Deb and the girls are planning to evacuate to escape the baseball nerdery. I was hoping to watch the UNH-North Dakota hockey game at 2, but I might TiVo it so I can get my run in without getting soaked. Guess I'll have to play it by ear.

My latest running column ran today about eating right while training, a topic that I can certainly relate to. It still amazes me how many comments I've gotten from people about the column; much more than when I actually wrote full time for the paper.

It was good to hang out with my brother for a few days while he was in town for business. I only get to see him once or twice a year because he's out in Peoria. The girls were excited to see their uncle, too.

I'm working a half-day tomorrow so I can go to the airport and pick up my mom, who's been in India for the last two months. She's glad to be coming back because it has been unseasonably hot there for the last little while.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Here's Lookin' At You, Kid

Just sitting back and relaxing today after a busy Saturday. It started off with the combined 5th birthday bash for Lily and her buddy Connor. It was controlled chaos, but went off great. The kids had a blast and I once again avoided serious injury while helping hold the pinata aloft. One of these days I'm going to take one in the stones. Afterward, we went to Hannah's last indoor soccer game of the winter. With her Uncle Matt, Aunt Tricia and cousins in attendance, Hannah had a hell of a game. She scored a goal, played some solid defense, crashed headfirst into the boards (none the worse for wear), and played some terrific goal. We're still trying to figure out what's happening for the spring outdoor season. Looks like our fall team was split up and I'm not coaching anymore, but I'm not quite sure which team Hannah's on yet.

After soccer, Matt and I came home while the team went out for pizza and went out on our respective long runs. He did 12 and I did 20 in exactly three hours. The good news is I felt really strong throughout, even in the last stretch when I normally start really dragging. It was in the mid-30s out, but I ran in shorts anyway and just felt like I had a lot of energy. My shin and my super-tight IT band didn't bother me at all, and I even felt good afterward. It was very encouraging as I head into the last month of training. Next Sunday, I plan to drive into Newton to run the hills of the Boston Marathon course. I'm going to park at BC at the end of the hills and run them backwards into Wellesley and then go back up the regular way. Should end up being 10 or 11 pretty hard miles. After that, I have one last 18-miler and then wind it down to 10-13 before marathon weekend.

It looks to be a crazy week ahead. My brother will be in town for a rare visit on Tuesday as he's got some work in the Boston area, so it'll be good to hang out with him for a few days. And then my mom flies back from India at the end of the week, so I'll be picking her up at the airport Friday. Then I'm hosting my fantasy baseball draft here on Saturday morning, followed by the running of the hills Sunday and a trip to take the girls to see their grandmother.

Check the bracket:
  • Sad news from the hockey world: Walt Poddubny, former NHLer and member of the hockey All-Name Team, died this weekend at the age of 49. I remember him as a good player on some of those awful Maple Leafs teams of the mid-80s.
  • I spent much of the weekend watching March Madness games. So far, I've still got all my Final Four picks alive: Memphis (who I picked to win), Villanova (finals), Oklahoma and Kansas. Let me say that I know absolutely jack squat about college hoops and made my picks in about five minutes Thursday morning. But it's fun to watch the games. There was some great OT games happening simultaneously Friday night that ended with Siena winning (yay) and Florida State losing (boo).
  • Meanwhile, college hockey is moving into its tournament starting next weekend. BU beat UMass-Lowell, 1-0, last night to win the Hockey East title. BU is the number one seed in the whole tournament of 16 and will play Ohio State next Saturday in Manchester, NH. UNH got an at-large bid and plays North Dakota at 2 p.m. Saturday, so hopefully they'll knock off ND and do some damage.
  • If you're the parent of a girl, you're probably very familiar with Dora the Explorer, the Nick Jr. cartoon character who's a huge hit with the young'uns. Apparently, folks were getting all worked up because it appeared a new "sexier" version of Dora was about to come out, but it turns out the older Dora is pretty benign-looking. No worries: You can always vent about those slutty Bratz girls.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Completely Conspicuous Episode 72: The New Stuff

So here's the first episode of CompCon featuring someone other than me. I actually had to record it twice because the first time, I had the level of the MP3 clip of me and Jay Breitling down too low. It's still not perfect, but I think it sounds better. This is going to be a two-parter, with the next episode featuring the remainder of our conversation and coming next week. In the meantime, you can visit the CC page to hear the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

This week's special guest: Jay Breitling

Topics:
- Music blogging
- Pinhead of the Week

Music:
- Deer Tick - Standing at the Threshold
- Pavement - Heckler Spray/In the Mouth of a Desert (live)

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

The Pavement song is from Pavement Live at the Palace, a digital album that was available only with the Wow-Out preorder of Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition on Matador Records, where you can find out more and download the track.

The Deer Tick song is on the album War Elephant on Partisan Records. Find out more at . The song is courtesy of IODA Promonet:

War ElephantDeer Tick
"Standing at the Threshold" (mp3)
from "War Elephant"
(Partisan Records)

Buy at Partisan Records Store
Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at Rhapsody
Buy at Napster
Stream from Rhapsody
Buy at Puretracks
Buy at mTraks
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 blogs Clicky Clicky and Keeping Some Dark Secrets. 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, March 15, 2009

Not Dreaming

The morning after a trip to Redbones is always an interesting experience. You feel a little tentative at first, as though one wrong move and you might explode. But more on that later.

I'm happy to report that I got up early yesterday and successfully completed a 13-miler with no shin pain, although I did feel something tweak in my back at about the 3-mile point. Fortunately, it was nothing serious and I was able to resume running after a minute of walking. I'm guessing I slept wrong and my back was extra tight. It was chilly, in the mid-20s, but actually pretty nice. Got back home, jumped in the shower and took the girls to Hannah's soccer game. Deb was gone to all-day scrapbooking thing, so it was just me and the girls. Hannah played another great game, hustling and creating a lot of offensive chances. We went to the running store so I could buy some new shoes, then grabbed some lunch at Panera. Came home and the girls helped Mimi clean up the front of the house before I took them down to a nearby playground.

Deb got home at 4 and I headed in to Cambridge to meet my friends OJ and Amy. I brought my new Zoom H2 digital recorder and recorded about 45 minutes of me and OJ jibba-jabbaing about music for upcoming episodes of the podcast. I thought the recorder worked pretty well. It's got mics in the front and back of the device. Anyway, look for a new show in a day or two.

We headed over to Davis Square and met the other Webnoizers--Dave, Ric and Karen, and Lee--at Redbones. The place was jammin', as one could expect on a Saturday night. We spent a fair amount of time in the bar waiting for a table. Once seated, I once again rocked the Texas beef ribs and then felt bold enough to get the white trash sundae for dessert (it's ice cream sandwiches slathered in Cool Whip and chocolate sauce). Had to roll my ass out of there. OJ dropped me off by our old office, where I parked. I was driving along Mass Ave. through the MIT area when suddenly I saw a cop car pull out behind me. I quickly realized he was pulling me over. I was going about 25 mph and had been following another car, so I honestly had no idea why he pulled me over. The cop said I went through a red light--"It was close, but you still did it"--and asked for license and registration. Gave him the license and had to sort through all crap in my glove box looking for the current registration before I actually found it. Waited a long 7 minutes or so before he came back and apologized for the delay; he gave me a warning and said, "Next time, err on the side of caution." So glad they're keeping the streets of Cambridge safe from the likes of me.

More hot sauce, please:
  • The Hockey East playoffs were this weekend and once again, UNH got bumped by BC. Dammit! They still have a shot to get in the NCAA tournament next week with an at-large bid. But there are so many good teams this year, I don't have high hopes. I actually had two different friends call offering me tickets to games last night, but I had the Redbones. Priorities, my friends.
  • It was fun this week watching Jon Stewart rip into CNBC and "Mad Money" loudmouth Jim Cramer for their irresponsible corporate cheerleading masquerading as financial advice. It all culminated in Cramer visiting "The Daily Show" on Thursday and basically getting verbally bitchslapped by Stewart.
  • The latest "smoking alternative" is straight out of Europe: Electronic cigarettes. They're essentially plastic filters that vaporize liquid nicotine, giving smokers the drug they want without the smoke; the idea is to wean off the real stuff with these, but I can't see people getting away with "smoking" these things in just about any public place. The FDA hasn't determined yet whether these e-cigs are safe to use. I actually wrote about one of these e-cig brands in the work blog to which I contribute.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Waiting for the Next Big Parade

One of my favorite local areas, Davis Square in Somerville, was crawling with people, police and press all day today as some unknown band called U2 was preparing to do an invite-only show/Q&A at the Somerville Theater. Of course, even with all the hype U2 has cranked up for their new album (playing Letterman all last week, showing up on Good Morning America, doing these Q&A shows), the album still "only" sold 484,000 copies last week, about half the total of their last album's debut. I'll be in Davis Square on Saturday for a much more important event: My every-so-often chowfest at Redbones with the old Webnoize crew. Before we hit Redbones, I'll be meeting up with OJ to record some jibba-jabbin' for the podcast.



Beforehand, I plan to get my long run in. Yeah, I'm back to running again. At least, I got 5 miles in today on the treadmill and felt no pain in my shin. I hadn't run since last Tuesday when I did an abbreviated 3; since then, I've been massaging and icing the area and most importantly, resting. So far, so good. I'm going to shoot to do 13 on Saturday, so wish me luck.


After months of slacking off, I finally updated my Flickr page with photos through the end of 2008, so check 'em out if you choose.


And now for something completely different...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Backslide

With just over six weeks until the marathon, I've hit a bit of a wall in my training. Instead of exacerbating the leg injury that's been bothering me, I've decided to be smart for once and shut it down for the week. So this week I'll put in a total of 3 miles. I think the actual injury is to the tibialis anterior, which runs down the front of my shin. It's definitely not shin splints, but something different altogether. I've been massaging and icing it, but it's the rest that's key. Of course, it coincides with the nicest Saturday we've had all year. It's friggin' amazing out right now: Sunny and 60. And I can't run. But I have to take a long-term view of this and hope that resting now will help me prevent this from getting worse. It's just killing me not being able to do anything.

Looking forward, I'm going to be participating in the Reach the Beach Relay in NH this fall. A friend of mine from work ran it last year and her team needed another runner, so they asked me. It's 200 miles in 24 hours, starting at Cannon Mountain and finishing at Hampton Beach. Each runner does in the neighborhood of 15-20 miles over the course of the event. Should be a good way to ring in my 42nd birthday, which is a few days afterward.

Speaking of birthdays, Lily turns 5 tomorrow. Man, it seems like just yesterday she was born. No big party this weekend, though; we're doing a combo 5th birthday bash in a couple of weeks with her buddy Connor, who's in her preschool class at Harborlight. In the meantime, we're going out for lunch tomorrow at her favorite restaurant, Bertucci's.

Melt and thaw:
  • Poor Coolio. He was busted with crack at an LA airport. I can't help but think this is a crucial part of his upcoming reality show pitch.
  • There are few bands I hold in lower esteem than the Eagles, mainly because of Don Henley's douchebaggery and their insistence on jacking up concert ticket prices for the poor saps that want to see them live. But I had to laugh when I read that an Alabama radio station censored their old mid-70s hit "Life in the Fast Lane" because of the use of the word "goddamn." It's just funny because the song has probably been played 800 kajillion times on the radio in the last 30 years, but only now someone's censoring it? Of course, this has happened with other songs: The Who's "Who Are You?" includes several instances of Daltrey singing "Who the fuck are you?" and used to play intact back in the day because he sang it so fast, it wasn't entirely clear. Of course, it was to me and other kids who giggled at hearing a swear word on the radio. But the songs played and somehow the world didn't end. Apparently, now things are different. As for the Eagles, I would have no problem if radio stations didn't play their songs for different reasons: because they suck and are overplayed.
  • Hey, baseball fans! Are you watching the World Baseball Classic? Yeah, me neither.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Things'll Never Be the Same

Wouldn't you know it...everything melts and thaws out last week, and then we get close to a foot of snow on Monday. Ridiculous. I was able to work from home because I went in on Sunday and brought some stuff home. Deb and the girls had a snow day. It has been pretty chilly the last few days, but it's supposed to get back up into the 50s by the weekend. And the clocks are turned forward Saturday night, so we'll get that much more daylight starting Sunday.

I got a 17-miler in on Saturday and struggled with my arches, but it's my right leg that's been bothering me the most. I've got a knot near the top of my calf and it acts up occasionally, even when I'm not running. It's pretty sore to the touch and it kills when I really start massaging it. I was only able to run 3 miles yesterday instead of the 5+ miles of speedwork I had planned. I'm going to use some ice on it and hope that it gets better. I've got six weeks to go before the marathon, so I'm not too concerned. I can afford to dial down the mileage if I need to.

Unlike last year, I acted fast when I found out about Red Sox tickets last week and managed to snag tickets to four games, including the second game of the season on April 8. Hopefully it won't be freezing that night.

Needles and pins:
  • Today was the NHL trade deadline. About 25 trades were made, most of the minor variety. The Leafs unloaded a couple of players for draft picks, as well as announcing that goalie Vesa Toskala was done for the year because he needs groin surgery. They had been playing pretty well lately, but that will probably change the rest of the way.
  • Monday marked the debut of "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" and I thought it was decent. Fallon had some funny moments, some awkward/nervous ones and some duds. But I think the show has potential. And the house band, The Roots, is positively kickass.