Saturday, May 30, 2009

Highway Girl

Greetings from New Jersey. We jumped in the minivan at 6 last night and made pretty decent time. Along the way, Hannah was eating a sandwich when she managed to dislodge one of her already loose teeth. After about 30 minutes of working on it, she nonchalantly pulled out her first tooth. It was pretty cool. My sources tell me the Tooth Fairy left her a dollar bill and a dollar coin. Nice haul. I think I got a quarter for my teeth back in the day.

It was kind of a crappy week full of chilly, rainy weather. I even wore pants one day. Had to run on the treadmill twice. Thankfully, that's over and the next week or so looks to be pretty nice. I'm going on a 12-mile trail run in a few hours with Matt and Joe, so that should be fun and possibly painful.

Hallelujah, free at last! The Jays finally won a game last night, breaking their hideous nine-game losing streak and getting to within a game of the Red Sox. Hopefully they can take one or two more from the Sox and get things on the right track again. And yet another thing that makes me feel old: The Rogers Center (aka The Skydome) is 20 years old. Yikes.

The NHL finals begin tonight with a rematch of the Wings and Penguins; last year, Detroit won the Cup fairly easily in six games, shutting out Pittsburgh in the first two games. I don't think that's going to happen again. The Pens look much better and have more depth, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has been amazing. The Wings are pretty banged up and it doesn't help them that the first two games are back-to-back for the first time in 54 years thanks to NBC. I say Pens in 7. Hope I'm right.

Jay Leno's tenure at the Tonight Show ended last night with not much hoopla. After 17 years at the helm, you might expect he'd warrant some fanfare, but Conan O'Brien, his replacement, got many more tributes a few months ago when he wrapped up his stint on Late Night. Part of it is that Leno will be back in three months with a five-night-a-week 10 p.m. show on NBC. But part of it is Leno, while dependable and good with a monologue, just wasn't that memorable. I'm much more interested in seeing with Conan does with the Tonight Show starting Monday. I am curious to see whether Leno can pull off the five nights a week thing in the fall, but probably won't watch it that often if at all.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Completely Conspicuous 81: Making Movies

Here's part 2 of my conversation with Ric Dube, this time about movies and much more. Click here to hear the show in streaming audio, or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

- The New Hollywood of the 1970s
- More screens meant more movies
- The rise of the blockbuster
- The Cable Guy ruined everything
- Jim Carrey keeps making the same movie
- What your top 5 movies say about your life
- The depressing world of Charlie Brown
- Dube stars in Carlito's Way
- Pinhead of the Week

- Jay Bennett - I'll Decorate My Love
- Lightning Dust - I Knew
- Jay Reatard - It Ain't Gonna Save Me

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Jay Bennett song is on the album Whatever Happened I Apologize on the Web label Rock Proper, where you can find out more and download the entire album for free. R.I.P.

The Lightning Dust song is on the album Infinite Light on Jagjaguwar Records, where you can find out more and download the song.

The Jay Reatard song is on the upcoming album Watch Me Fall on Matador Records. Find out more and download the song at

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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Red-Eyed and Blue

Gotta love these short weeks. A couple more days and we're off to NJ for my nephew Danny's first communion. The four-day weekend was fun and relaxing. Friday was a perfect day to golf. I actually hit the ball pretty well; my putting sucked and I finished with a 54, but I had a good time.

Got some errands taken care of on Saturday before heading down to hang with Doobs and do some serious podcastification. Should have at least one more show posted before we head down to Joisey.

On Sunday, Deb and I went to see the Sox beat the Mets, 12-5, getting caught in a downpour as we got there; the rain stopped and it was pretty nice the rest of the game. Yesterday, I did the Dory Run 5K in Swampscott and had a decent time (22:03).

It always bums me out when people who I respect pass away, but even moreso when they're not much older than me. This happened twice in the last few days, as Jay Bennett, the multi-instrumentalist best known for his work in Wilco, died Sunday at the age of 45, and former NHLer Peter Zezel died at 44 from a rare blood disorder.

While the cause of Bennett's death wasn't immediately known, he had been suffering from some leg problems that were exacerbated by his lack of health insurance. He also recently sued Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy over back royalties. He released his last album, Whatever Happened I Apologize, for free online.

Zezel suffered from hemolytic anemia, which he had battled for the past 11 years; he recently had fallen into a coma after his condition worsened. He played 15 years in the NHL, but I'll always remember his contributions to the Leafs' 1992-93 squad that fell a game short of the Stanley Cup finals.

Watch out for falling anvils:
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched their second consecutive finals appearance with a win tonight over the Carolina Hurricanes, sweeping the Canes in four straight. Carolina just couldn't match the Pens' depth or skill, but they also looked as though their seven-game victories over Boston and New Jersey took too much out of them. The Pens look like the real deal. Looks like they'll be facing Detroit in a rematch of last year's Cup finals; hopefully they can win it this time.
  • Holy crap, the Jays' slump continues. They've now lost EIGHT STRAIGHT games. WTF? Hopefully Roy Halladay can get them back on the winning track tomorrow night.
  • I so far have resisted joining the legions of Twitterers out there, although I have followed some other Twitter feeds such as OJ's. Of course, now that there's rumors of a Twitter TV show, it may already be too late.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Completely Conspicuous 80: Does Anybody Remember Laughter?

Here's part 1 of my latest free-wheeling conversation with returning special guest Ric Dube, in which we discuss the decline of humor in print. You can listen to it in streaming audio here or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

- Jay and Ric reminisce about the origins of Laphos
- The Onion takes college humor to another level
- The humor magazine is dead
- SPY magazine's revolutionary impact
- Irony takes over
- Sketch comedy movies
- Comedy on the Web
- Ric's latest movie pitch: The Bipolar Express
- Pinhead of the Week

- St. Vincent - Actor Out of Work
- Sunset Rubdown - Idiot Heart

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The St. Vincent song is on the album Actor on 4AD Records. You can download the track here.

The Sunset Rubdown song is on the album Dragonslayer on Jagjaguwar Records, where you can find out more and download the song.

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, May 21, 2009

I Never Said I Was Deep

And just like's a long weekend. I had planned to work tomorrow but with the forecast calling for temps in the 80s and the chance to play golf with a couple of friends, I decided to make it a four-day weekend. Hannah's got a half-day of school, so after I play my 9 holes at Salem Muni, I'll spend the rest of the day with her and Lily.

We don't have any huge plans for the weekend, but it should be fun. I'm getting together with Dr. Doobs on Saturday evening to record some more CompCon material. On Sunday afternoon, Deb and I will head in to Fenway to see the Sox play the Mets. And on Monday, I'm running a 5K in Swampscott. I expect we'll get some grilling done at least a few times over the weekend as well.

Ugh, just watched the Jays get swept by the Sox. They're still in first place barely, but they've gone 1-5 against the Yankees and Sox in the last two weeks. Not good. Funny, they've played both those teams tough in recent years, but for some reason, their bats went totally dead and two of their rookie starters got rocked. Oh well, there's plenty of time to get those games back, including at the end of next week when the Sox go up to T.O. It's easy to forget they've got three rookies and a converted middle reliever in the starting rotation along with Roy Halladay.

Hannah got her glasses Tuesday and so far has managed not to break them. She's getting used to them, although she still feels the need to take them off and wipe every little smudge off.

Have a drink on me:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Completely Conspicuous Episode 79: Games People Play

Here's part 2 of my sports-themed conversation with Phil Stacey, sports editor of the Salem News. This time around, we discuss the high price of sports tickets and the state of youth sports. Listen to the show in streaming audio here or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

- The high price of being a sports fan
- Following sports as you get older
- More distractions
- Youth sports burnout
- Parents living through their kids
- Phil's past as a tennis goon
- Hitting your athletic peak in Little League
- Pinhead of the Week

- The Von Bondies - Pale Bride
- Swan Lake - Spider
- The Dears - Halfmast

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Von Bondies song is on the album Love, Hate, and Then There's You on Majordomo Records, where you can find out more and download the track.

The Swan Lake song is on the album Enemy Mine on Jagjaguwar Records, where you can find out more and download the song.

The Dears' song is a b-side to the album Missiles on Danger Bird Records, where you can find out more and download the song.

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.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Know Your Enemy

I got my first pair of glasses when I was 15. God, I hated those things. They were HUGE. Took up my whole damn face. So I never wore them. Well, I did to drive and if I really needed to see the board in class, but that was about it. Eventually, I got contacts and all was right with the world again. Anyway, this stumble down memory lane is courtesy of our trip to the optician's office to get 7-year-old Hannah her first pair of glasses. We had no idea she had any kind of vision problem until she told us she had trouble with the vision test at school in the fall. It's not shocking, really; Deb needed glasses around that age, too. And Hannah is fine with it. Actually, she's kind of excited. I think she just assumed that everything was supposed to be a little blurry, so she's looking forward to not squinting anymore. (She doesn't need corrective lenses to play soccer; hell, I played my junior year of high school soccer without them. The ball's big enough to see from anywhere on the field.) She picked out a cute pair of frames; the lenses should be ready by Tuesday.

The other kid has been more of a challenge this week. Deb had meetings or other events to attend almost every night and Lily conveniently decided that she didn't like going to bed. So she voiced her displeasure by refusing to stay in her bed and ultimately screaming at the top of her lungs; this happened more than once. Not fun. I think she's just pushing buttons at this point, trying to see how much she can get away with.

No hockey this week; the Tuesday night skate in Reading has been pretty full, so they don't need any more guys yet. I've been promised if they do, I'll get a call. It was just as well. My legs were pretty beat up from last week. The first couple of runs were difficult this week; my right IT band is still really tight from the marathon, I guess. But my last few runs were good, including a 7-miler I did this morning.

Speaking of hockey, the second round of the NHL playoffs wrapped up this week with a heartbreaking game 7 OT loss by the Bruins to Carolina. Boston's downfall was its lackluster play in games 2-4 and falling behind 3 games to 1 before coming back to tie up the series. So it's Carolina-Pittsburgh and Chicago-Detroit in the conference finals. Should be some good series. I'm going to predict Penguins in 7 and Wings in 6 for a rematch of last year's finals. I hope Chicago can take Detroit, because I'd love to see them go all the way, but I don't know if they're deep enough.

The LOST season finale this week was intense. Two hours of awesomeness. The only downside was we won't get any new episodes for another eight months or so. I'm going to watch it again sometime this weekend.

Just picked up the new Green Day opus "21st Century Breakdown," their long-awaited followup to their huge "American Idiot" concept album. This too is a "rock opera" and I've only listened to it once through, but it sounds pretty great.

Get your wings:
  • Can Danger Mouse get any cooler? He's already mashed up the Beatles and Jay-Z on "The Grey Album," produced the Black Keys and Beck, churned out some cool albums with Gnarls Barkley, and now this: EMI won't release his new album, "Dark Night of the Soul," which features Sparklehorse, Iggy Pop, Frank Black and the Flaming Lips, so DM is releasing it as a blank CD-R with art and liner notes. Buyers can then download the album off a P2P site and then burn it to the disc. You can listen to the album here. Apparently there are some "legal issues" preventing the album from being released, but DM's giving EMI the digital finger.
  • So they should change the name of Deb's favorite TLC show to "Jon and Kate Plus 10 or More" to account for all the alleged cheating going on by the respective spouses. Frankly, I would start watching the show if they added that extra element to it.
  • There's a cute story in the Globe today about a couple who's getting married on the commuter rail train on which they first met. Which is nice and all, but I'm glad Deb and I didn't get hitched in the fitness center at the Beverly YMCA.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Completely Conspicuous Episode 78: The Sporting Life

Here's part 1 of my conversation with Phil Stacey, sports editor of the Salem News. We discuss the Boston sports scene and the evolution of sports reporting. Listen to the show in streaming audio here or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

- The Boston sports scene
- A generational shift from depression to cockiness
- Local sports coverage
- Giving readers what they can't find elsewhere
- Going beyond the game story
- Pinhead of the Week

- Dinosaur Jr. - I Want You to Know
- Great Northern - Story
- The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Everything With You

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Dinosaur Jr. song is on the forthcoming album Farm on Jagjaguwar Records, where you can find out more and download the song.

The Great Northern song is on the album Remind Me Where the Light Is on Eenie Meenie Records. The song from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is on their self-titled album on Slumberland Records. Both songs are courtesy of IODA Promonet:

Remind Me Where The Light IsGreat Northern
"Story" (mp3)
from "Remind Me Where The Light Is"
(Eenie Meenie Records)

Buy at Rhapsody
Stream from Rhapsody
More On This Album

The Pains Of Being Pure At HeartThe Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
"Everything With You" (mp3)
from "The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart"

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 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.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Dark Canuck

Just checking in as I look forward to at least two game 7s in the second round of the NHL playoffs...

As I mentioned last time, Saturday was shaping up to be a busy day and it certainly didn't disappoint. I was supposed to meet Phil at the paper at 9:15 a.m. to record a conversation for the podcast in what I figured would be a quiet newsroom, but it turned out that there was a cleaning crew in there vacuuming, so he came over here. We recorded for over an hour and then I caught the second half of Hannah's soccer game. I'll post part 1 tomorrow night after the Bruins game.

At 3:15, I went to Lynn for the benefit hockey game. We had close to 30 guys show up to play, with a few family and friends in the stands. We played three 30-minute periods, with a break halfway through to redo the ice. My team fell behind early 4-0, but we stormed back and ended up winning 18-15. It was a lot of fun. I showered and then took off immediately afterward to head into Boston for the Tragically Hip concert. I parked at the Lechmere lot and went across to take the Green Line into Kenmore Square, but right after I got there, they announced that there was something wrong with the train and we'd have to wait for buses to take us further. I stuck around for about 15 minutes and finally decided to eat the $7.50 I spent on parking and T fare and drive in to Kenmore. The Sox game was over, so I was hoping I'd find some parking near Landsdowne Street. I was regretting my decision as I sat in traffic in the square, but eventually I found that the lot right next to Boston Beerworks was charging $10 for nightclub parking and was half full. I still hadn't eaten and considered stopping to get a sausage, but it was close to 8 and I wanted to get in the club. It was a good move, because as soon as I got inside, the lights dimmed and the show started. The club is now called the House of Blues, but it's still sits on the same footprint as the old Avalon; the only difference is, now there's balcony seating going all the way around on the second and third levels, so it's basically just went up vertically. The show itself was excellent. The place was packed with rabid Hip fans, mostly Canadians, and pretty fervent ones at that. The new stuff off We Are the Same sounded terrific live, and the band mixed in some classic older songs and an acoustic mini-set. They played a little over two hours, with a 20-minute intermission. Lead singer/spastic sweaty maniac Gord Downie was his usual active self, targeting Toby Keith and the Pope with verbal jabs, owning the stage with his herky jerky movements, and incorporating his mikestand and hankies into the act. The band careened from alt-country on "Morning Moon" to the swamp blues groove of "New Orleans is Sinking" to the hard rock assault of my favorite hip song "50 Mission Cap," a tribute to Leafs Stanley Cup hero Bill Barilko, which Downie dedicated to the struggling Bruins (and it worked, because they totally dominated the Canes Sunday night). A truly awesome show and the last U.S. date for a while as they return to Toronto for some big shows at Massey Hall.

Yesterday, I took the girls up to see my mom in NH for Mother's Day, so that was good.

We had a bit of scare today when Hannah's teacher mistakenly told Hannah she was to take the bus home, when it was actually one of the days she stays in the afterschool program. So the bus arrived at our street and there was no one there to meet Hannah. Fortunately, one of our neighbors has a daughter on the same bus and noticed Hannah was home without anyone here, so she had Hannah go over to her house and hang out and called Deb to let her know. Luckily, she was around. Deb's mom was at work, as were Deb and I. I shudder to think what the poor kid would have had to do if our neighbor hadn't looked out for her. Suffice it to say, we let the teacher know that this can't happen again. I'm guessing she just mixed up the instructions in the "communication book" in Hannah's folder; there certainly was no note asking that Hannah be put on the bus today. Unbelievable.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Drop-Off

The calm before the storm. Not so much a storm as a whirlwind of activity today. In an hour, I'm meeting my buddy Phil to record some podcastification after a couple of false starts due to scheduling. From there, I'm heading over to Hannah's soccer game. Then I have to do a little Mother's Day shopping. In the late afternoon, I'm heading over to Lynn to play in a benefit hockey game to raise money for a scholarship in the name of Mike McGilvery, the guy who had a stroke last October during one of our games and died a week later. After that, I'm heading straight into the city to see the Tragically Hip play. They've revamped their live show this time around; no opening act and an intermission, with a setlist that changes every night. They've dug out some older songs they haven't played in years, so it promises to be a blast for Hip fans.

When I get to Boston, I like to park at a cheap lot on the outskirts of the city and take the subway to Kenmore Square. So I was not psyched to hear about an accident yesterday on the Green Line that was caused when one of the train operators was texting instead of paying attention. A trolley hit a train and more than 40 people were sent to the hospital with minor injuries. Things should be back to normal today. At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, is it really that necessary to text someone while you're driving (or operating a frickin' train)? How the hell did we ever survive without texting?

My latest running column was in the paper yesterday, this time talking about relay races. As for my running week, I was stuck on the treadmill Tuesday because of the rain but got out for a couple of nice runs the last two days. As much as I like training for marathons, it's also good to just be able to go out for a run with no goal attached.

This was my last week of hockey in Lynn until the fall. We skated for two hours Wednesday night and then today's game will be the grand finale. The guys I used to skate with in Concord have had to move their skate to Northborough, which is just too damn far. So I'm hoping to hook on with some guys skating in Reading courtesy of a guy who lives on our street. I'd love to keep it going right through the summer.

Boots or hearts:
  • Naming a kid is a tough task. Deb and I had many deliberations over what to name Hannah and Lily, mainly having to due with Deb's negative associations with certain names because she had students who were bratty/annoying/evil. We didn't pick the names based on anything other than we liked them, so it was surprising when we came to find out later that they were both pretty popular. In fact, there's a couple at our church who have twin girls named Hannah and Lily. But apparently, other names are proving more popular these days, with Emma the most popular girls' name this year and Hannah dropping out of the top 10. For boys, Jacob has been the most popular name for a decade. Pop culture and politics can play a role in kid name popularity, as there an increasing number of kids named Miley and Barack, just as a lot of Britneys started showing up a few years ago. For the record, if we had a boy, he would have been named Zach, based on my middle name Zachariah. And there's a ton of Zachs out there these days, too.
  • I'd like to say I was shocked by Manny Ramirez's 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy, but really, come on, now. I'm so jaded by all the stuff that's come out the last few years that any name that comes out wouldn't surprise me. It hasn't turned me off the game entirely and I still root for the Jays, but nothing shocks me anymore. Meanwhile, the first-place Dodgers have lost their first two games sans Manny and A-Rod, another superstar who admitted he took steroids early in his career, came back off the DL last night and hit a homer on the first pitch he faced.
  • A Pennsylvania high school handed out shot glasses as prom favors and naturally, people were upset. Hey, they're just trying to look out for the kids when they go to college. You don't want to be caught unprepared for binge drinking, folks.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Exact Feeling

I'm not sure if it's real or not, but I feel like I've been a lot more tired since I did the marathon two weeks ago. Not during the day or anything, but by 10 p.m., I'm ready to hit the sack. Of course, I don't. It could also be that I have a little less energy because I've cut down on the food intake a bit.

We've had some real up and down weather the last few weeks, too. Today it was raw and rainy all day; I ended up running on the treadmill instead of going outside. The rest of the week doesn't look much better. It's nice being able to run without an event in mind. I'll probably get two more runs in on Thursday and Friday and that could be it for the week. Since I'm playing hockey Saturday and Sunday is Mother's Day, I don't think I'll have the time to work in a weekend run.

A sign of the times: We were at Toys R Us on Sunday to pick out a bike for Hannah's birthday present, and all the end displays were hawking "Hannah Montana" hand sanitizer. When the swine flu hits, make sure your tweens are prepared! I'm surprised I didn't see any accompanying surgical masks on sale.

Saturday's going to be busy. After I finish playing in the hockey benefit, I'm showering at the rink and heading straight into Boston to see The Tragically Hip at the new House of Blues (aka the venue formerly known as Avalon). Should be a good time. Speaking of Boston concert venues, I was surprised to hear today that Live Nation is selling three of them: the Orpheum, the Paradise Rock Club and the Boston Opera House. It's not clear who's buying them, but as a fan of the Paradise, I sure hope they don't tear it down and replace it with a Starbucks or something. That's still a great place to see a band.

Whip it good:
  • The first U.S. resident to receive a face transplant spoke to the media today. It's an Ohio woman who had been shot in the face five years ago; the 22-hour transplant surgery gave her a new nose, lower eyelids and upper lips. Pretty amazing stuff.
  • Dom Deluise is dead at age 75. He was a funny, funny man. I got into Mel Brooks movies like "Blazing Saddles" and "History of the World Part 1" around age 12-13 and Deluise had some great roles in them. He also brought the yuks to the "Cannonball Run" movies and plenty of others.
  • The Boston Globe saga drags on. While the Times company has worked out deals with most of the Globe unions, negotiations with the Newspaper Guild (which represents editorial, advertising and business office workers) are not going so well. The paper has proposed a 23% pay cut, which doesn't bode well. [UPDATE: They reached a deal.] On the newsstand, the price has been increased from 75 cents to $1.00, which ends up being $1.50 for towns like mine outside of metro Boston. I think I'll keep reading it online for now. We've been buying the Sunday Globe every week. It's hard to envision the Times actually pulling the plug on such an institution, but it's losing a crapload of money right now. Sad state of affairs.
  • It's May 6 and the Jays are still in first place. Wow.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Good Weekend

'Ello there, guvna. I've got a little quiet time while Deb and the girls are out cleaning the minivan. Did some errands around the house, including the first official mowing of the backyard. Not much in store this weekend, which is kinda nice. Hannah's soccer game was at 8 a.m. today and I've got a massage later this afternoon; it was supposed to be last Saturday but I ended up going to the Sox game instead. Tomorrow, I might be meeting up with my buddy Phil to record some sports-themed audio for the podcast. He's going to the Bruins game tomorrow night, so he was thinking of coming over around 11, which is fine, but it all depends on how long the game goes, etc.

I ran a few times this week and felt good. I also played hockey for the first time in four weeks and was huffing and puffing at first, but eventually felt better and popped in a couple of goals along with four assists. We've got our last skate in Lynn coming up next Wednesday, followed by a two-hour mini-tournament next Saturday to raise money for a scholarship in the name of our fallen comrade. Should be fun.

My new diet has been going well for the most part. I had a couple of minor relapses--like when we took Hannah to Panera for her birthday and I ordered a chipotle chicken sandwich that I later found out was loaded with fat and calories. Oh, well. But I've been good 90% of the time. I'm probably eating about 1/3 of the amount of cereal I used to and I've cut back on a lot of the snacky stuff like Wheat Thins and chips. So of course I'm finding myself ravenous at various points during the day, but I'm resisting the temptation to eat junk. I've lost about five pounds so far.

Whoop de doo:
  • The swine flu outbreak has got everybody panicking, with 615 cases worldwide and 160 in the U.S., according to the CDC. But we might be going overboard with the precautions. Anybody with the sniffles is being quarantined. One older guy at the gym yesterday told me he's never washed his hands so much in his life. The tricky thing is, as far as I can tell, the symptoms are nearly identical to the regular flu. How is this virus killing people? So far there has only been one death in the U.S., a toddler from Mexico who was visiting Texas. There have been eight cases in Massachusetts, mostly folks who recently went to Mexico on vacation or spring break. Bears watching, but not a total freakout.
  • The playoffs have been pretty fun. The NHL's second round just started, with Vancouver and Detroit winning both their games in the last minute of regulation and the Bruins smoking Carolina last night. The Washington-Pittsburgh series starts this afternoon. Meanwhile, the Celtics and Bulls have been engaged in a slugfest of a series, which has seen seven OT periods so far and goes to a game 7 tonight. The Bulls won a 3OT game Thursday night that was just insane.
  • Wow, check out the original artwork for Van Halen's first album, including a different logo. Given how iconic the logo (and album), it's hard to imagine it looking any other way. Of course, they also could have stuck with the name Mammoth.