Sunday, November 29, 2009

Completely Conspicuous 103: Put Me In, Coach

The podcast's back with part 2 of my conversation with special guest Phil Stacey about the decade in sports. This time around, we discuss baseball, the NFL and the Internet's influence on the sports world. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- Big story in baseball was steroids

- Big names were caught cheating: McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod

- Baseball's tough to watch beginning to end: games are so slow

- Red Sox vanquished curse with two World Series wins

- Drawback of excellent play is abundance of bandwagon-jumping fans

- Sports talk radio rehashes same stuff over and over

- NHFL has surpassed MLB in popularity

- Patriots are team of the decade

- Football's better to watch on TV than in person

- XFL came and went

- XFL's lasting legacy: He Hate Me

- Gambling is big part of NFL fandom

- Fantasy football is big business

- Internet's role in sports looms large

- Local papers trying to own their market with blogs, podcasts

- Blogs can run gamut from good analysis to gossip to fanboys

- Twitter's good for breaking news

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

- Soulsavers - You'll Miss Me When I Burn

- St. Vincent - The Strangers

- Deer Tick - Baltimore Blues No. 1

- Carbon/Silicon - What's Up Doc?

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

The Soulsavers song is on the band's album Broken on V2 Records. Download the track for free here.

The St. Vincent song is on the album Actor on Beggars Group USA, where you can download the song for free.

The Deer Tick song was released as a free download in honor of Veterans Day. Find out more at and download the song for free at Partisan Records.

The Carbon/Silicon song is on the album The Carbon Bubble. Find out more and download the entire album for free here.

The show is sponsored by Budget, the country's premier car rental service with 900 locations. Go to Budget and save 10% off any reservation or $30 off a weekly rental. Help out the show by patronizing my sponsors and rent like a genius with Budget.

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. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Check My Brain

Ah, Thanksgiving. I think it's my favorite holiday. Lots of eating, drinking and relaxing. What's wrong with that?

Had kind of a crazy T-giving Eve. Matt, Trish and the boys showed up for the weekend. Then I went to hockey for the first time in five weeks. We had 4-on-4 with no subs. Just brutal. Got out, had a few brews in the parking lot and then left. I decided to hit a nearby gas station because the Explorer was nearly out of gas. Filled up and then the vehicle wouldn't start. Engine wouldn't even turn over. After trying everything I could think of for 10 minutes, I made the difficult decision to call and wake up Deb. In her sleep-addled haze, she smartly suggested I call AAA. I did and they had a tow truck out to me within 5 minutes. The guy quickly deduced that I needed a new starter, but he also showed me how to start the Explorer using a wrench touching two bolts.

So I didn't get to bed until after 1 a.m. Had to get up at 6:30 to run the Wild Turkey 5-Miler in Salem with Deb, Matt and Trish. I had low expectations for the race, given I had skated for 80 minutes and only had five hours of sleep. The weather was great (40s and cloudy) and I was hoping to run it in about 40 minutes. But I felt good and kept my pace up. The last two miles I still felt strong and kicked it up a notch and I ended up finishing in 36:27 by my watch (36:33 official), a PR by about 40 seconds. Didn't expect that. Deb, Matt and Trish all ran strong races.

We went up to my mom's in Hampton for Turkey meal #1 then came back down here for meal #2. Lots of food. Good times. The womenfolk got up early to do the Black Friday thing, as did Matt briefly. I caught up on sleep and had a pretty lazy day. As it should be.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Rock a My Soul

I like the rock. It's a plain fact. Ever since I was a young'un, music has played a big role in my life. One of my first memories, and this was confirmed by my parents, was groovin' as a 2-year-old to a song by Eric Burdon and War on the radio, which I'm guessing was "Spill the Wine" because that was the band's only hit at that time (1970).

The obsession continues to this day. Why, just last night I was at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston checking out the Sonic Youth/Feelies show. You can read my review for Senor Breitling's blog.

But the idea for this post actually came from Pitchfork, which runs a recurring feature called "5-10-15-20," in which artists talk about the music they listened to at 5-year intervals in their lives. Today's featured comic Aziz Ansari, an Indian homie who stars on NBC's "Parks and Recreation." I'm always interested in what other people are listening to, whether it's what's on their iPods or old mixtapes or in their entertainment centers.

So since I'm never going to be interviewed by Pitchfork, I'm going to take my own look at what I listened to starting at...

AGE 5
I was too young at this age to have my own music, so I mainly was stuck listening to whatever radio station my parents had on. At this point, in 1973, they were still listening to pop top 40 stations, as opposed to the easy listening stuff they got into later in the decade. One song I definitely remember digging was Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," which was a pretty catchy tune. Come to think of it, I still like that song:




10
Okay, I'll admit it. I liked disco in 1978. Hey, I was 10. My parents were getting into it, my friends were into it, how could I not be also? I was listening to top 40 radio (Toronto's CHUM-AM 1050) and Andy Gibb was the king of the mountain that year, along with his brothers, the Bee Gees. They collaborated to make "Shadow Dancing" the biggest song of the year. And I dug it:




15
It was 1983. Life was much different for me than it had been five years earlier. At the end of '81, we moved from Canada to Washington state because my dad had found a new job. In June 1983, we moved once again, this time to New Hampshire. I was pissed off at everything and everybody. And I was listening to much heavier music. In truth, I started listening to hard rock in 1981, but a few years later, I was feeling pretty antisocial and metal brought an edge to that. Iron Maiden's Piece of Mind album came out the week before we moved; I actually carried the vinyl copy I had just purchased with me on the flight to NH. Couldn't wait to get there to listen to the record, but at the same time, I was totally bummed that I was leaving the few friends I had to move to yet another town and school. "Flight of Icarus" helped make that summer a little more bearable, even when I had a nasty case of poison ivy up my right arm:




20
The summer of 1988 was another pivotal time period in my life. I was doing a reporting internship at the Peabody Times newspaper after my junior year at UNH, getting a taste of the world of journalism. I was only earning $57 per week after taxes, so I ended up commuting to Peabody from my home in Kingston, NH. I listened to a lot of rock radio, mainly Boston's WBCN and Lynn's WFNX. My tastes were gradually shifting: I still dug the metal and hard rock, but also was getting into more of the so-called alternative rock: U2, REM, The Cure, Midnight Oil, in addition to bands like Guns 'N Roses, Living Colour and Jane's Addiction. There are any number of songs I could pick, but The Church's "Under the Milky Way" stands out because the jangly guitars were a real change from the meaty riffs I normally enjoyed:




25
On to the early '90s, 1993 to be exact. Another important year. After dating my girlfriend for four years (living together the last two), I found myself a single man again in the spring of '93. We had drifted apart and in June, I moved from the apartment we shared in Beverly (located in the house I own today--a story for another day) to a house in the middle of a field in Middleton, where I rented a room. I was excruciatingly lonely; it was a shock to the system to go from living with someone to essentially living on your own, even though there were three other guys in the house, including a 67-year-old divorced man who liked to walk around in his boxers. At the same time, I made a radical work shift, going from reporting to working as a design editor with a 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. workday. I was about as depressed as I've ever been. Really, all I had keeping me going was music. I had gotten caught up in the whole grunge thing: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains. But the album that really got to me was PJ Harvey's Rid of Me; the spare, atmospheric, claustrophic sound was in turns depressing and exhiliarating:



30
Fast forward five years. Life is great. I'm back in Beverly, working at a publishing company, dating the woman who would become my wife. Musically, I'm listening to a lot of alt-rock, but also getting into older punk stuff like the Stooges, Ramones, New York Dolls. Still, the album that kicked the most butt that year was Sloan's Navy Blues, which combined a lot of stuff I loved: hard rock, power pop, catchy melodies. And "Money City Maniacs" was (and still is) just immense:



35
Cue the new millennium. I'm married, with a one-year-old daughter. Life is very different, but all good. Musically, I was discovering lots of new bands through college radio and the Web. One such band was The Black Keys, a guitar-drums combo who played old-fashioned, greasy blues rock. It was glorious:




40
The big 4-0 arrived and life was still good. Now I had two kids and was enjoying a whole new set of challenges. Fortunately, there was still plenty of good music. I've documented what I've listened to for the last few years pretty closely here, but suffice it to say that King Khan and the Shrines' comp album The Supreme Genius of... was a kick-ass collection of rock 'n soul jams. Check this out:




So what will I be listening to at 45? I've got three years to go until I find out, but I don't expect to switch over to the easy listening station any time soon.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Completely Conspicuous 102: Trapped Under Ice

The podcast's back with special guest Phil Stacey as we look at the decade in sports. This episode, we focus on the NHL. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- Sports, "the great bringer-together"?

- NHL lost a season due to lockout

- Game has changed for the better

- Salary cap has led to more young stars

- NJ Devils introduced boring trap style in mid-'90s, continued in '00s

- Strategy and systems are more important now

- The shootout eliminated ties, but is it the right answer?

- Struggling franchises due to expansion: Phoenix, Florida, Nashville

- Phil: Cut six teams, improve the product

- TV package is troublesome: Dropped by ESPN, now on Versus

- No dynasties anymore

- Detroit was team of decade

- No Canadian team has won Cup since '93

- Ovechkin is best player in league

- Crosby: Coltrane vs. Ovechkin: The Clash

- Winter Classic has been great for the game

- Should NHL keep sending players to Winter Olympics?

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

- EELS - Little Bird

- Molina & Johnson - Almost Let You In

- Calories - Let's Pretend That We're Older

- Lifter Puller - Lie Down on Lansdowne

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

The EELS song is on the band's forthcoming album on Vagrant Records. Find out more and download the track for free here.

The Molina & Johnson song is on their self-titled album on Secretly Canadian Records, where you can find out more and download the song for free.

The Calories song is on the EP Let's Pretend We're Older on Smalltown America. Find out more and download the song for free here.

The Lifter Puller song is on the compilation album Soft Rock on The Self Starter Foundation. Find out more and download the track for free here.

The show is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com, a leading supplier of athletic footwear, apparel and sports equipment. The promo code AFCOMP15 will get you 15% off any order at Eastbay.com. The code AFCOMP20 will get you 20% off any order of $75 or more at Eastbay. And the code AFCOMPFL will get you 15% off any order at Footlocker.com.

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. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Loser

Every so often, I go on a rant about the teams I root for, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays. I've been supporting both these teams since I was a young child growing up in the Toronto suburbs. The majority of that time has been pretty frustrating. The Jays were a true contender from 1985-1993, winning the World Series in '92 and '93; since then, they've pretty much sucked. But my favorite team, the Leafs, haven't won anything since the year I was born, 1967. They haven't even come close. The closest they came was in 1993, when they came within a game of going to the Stanley Cup finals but lost to Wayne Gretzky and the LA Kings. In recent years, they've really struggled and this year is the worst of all.

I just watched them play Carolina, the team with the worst record in the league (the Leafs have the second worst record). Toronto had a 3-0 lead after the first period, a 4-2 lead in the third before the Canes came back and tied the game, and then scored with 29 seconds left to make it 5-4. Game's in the bag, right? Carolina scores with 3 seconds left to send it to OT. The game goes to a shootout. Carolina scores easily on its first two shots, the Leafs fail to score on their two shots. Game over, 6-5 Carolina.

The Leafs have exactly three wins in their first 20 games. They're on pace for 12 freakin' wins. And they traded away their first-round pick next season. It's just bad.

Since Universal won't allow embedding of the original video of Beck's "Loser," thought I'd go with this interesting take:


Monday, November 16, 2009

Sharp Dressed Man

There once was a time when I had a work wardrobe. Back when I worked at the newspaper from '89 to '95, I was required to look presentable: Dress shirt, tie, khakis or dress pants, good shoes. It wasn't a businessman's three-piece suit or anything, but when going to court or the mayor's office or interviewing someone for a story, you had to represent the paper well. I actually had a decent tie collection. I never particularly enjoyed wearing them, but I couldn't deny that they looked pretty cool. And I certainly understood having to look the part. No city official or cop is going to take you seriously if you're dressed like a slob.

Still, the second I got home from work, I changed into a t-shirt and shorts. Often, I would finish my reporting for the day, go home and have dinner and then go back into the office dressed down so I could write my stories. But when I finally ditched the reporting life for a gig at a publishing company, I was able to wear whatever I wanted to work (within reason). It was an office job, so I wouldn't be in front of the public on a daily basis. Occasionally, I would go to conferences and would show up in a tie and be the only person there who was that dressed up. But for the most part, it was t-shirt and shorts or jeans.

And for 14 years, that has continued to be my work attire. It's great. Every once in a while, I like to throw a little curveball and dress up a little, but for the most part, I go for comfortable. I like to break out old concert shirts, race t-shirts...let's just say I have a lot of t-shirts. I had a lot of free shirts from the old Webnoize days; still have some of those, but many have passed on.

Unless the temps dip below 45 degrees, I wear shorts. I like not having my wallet in my back pocket, so shorts are preferable for that reason alone. I've kind of become known as "the shorts guy"--to the point where if I wear pants on a particular, I get questions--but who cares, really? I spent enough hot summer days schlepping around to the courthouse in a non-air conditioned car, sweating through my dress shirt. I'll take comfort over style.

And I will admit that when my company used to have its annual holiday dinner (shelved because the economy the last few years), it was kind of cool to break out a suit and look good. We don't get invited to weddings anymore because everyone we hang with is married, so the only time I get to wear a suit anymore is to a funeral or a wake. Kinda depressing, really.

I do feel lucky to work in an field that allows such a relaxed dress code. And while I certainly can't rule out someday having a job that would require me to, you know, wear pants, I sincerely hope that never comes to pass.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Completely Conspicuous 101: The Modern World

The podcast's back with a look at the decade in technology. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...

Topics:

- Y2K came and went

- Broadband arrived, changed everything

- Google led the way for search engines

- Social networking sites

- Blogging, podcasting became commonplace

- Communication: E-mail, chat and texting

- Napster loomed large over the music industry

- The iPod was a game changer

- YouTube revolutionized online video

- Home entertainment: Flatscreen TVs, DVDs, DVRs, Netflix

- Videogame consoles got better, wireless

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

- Them Crooked Vultures - Mind Eraser, No Chaser

- The Pixies - Crackity Jones

- Melissa Auf der Maur - Out of Our Minds

- Nirvana - About a Girl

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

The Them Crooked Vultures song is on the band's self-titled album on Interscope Records. Download the track for free at the iTunes store.

The Pixies song is on the band's live EP commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Doolittle album. The four-song EP is available for free at Pixiesmusic.com.

The Melissa Auf der Maur song is on the forthcoming album Out of Our Minds on MAdM Music; click here to find out more and download the song for free.

The Nirvana song is on Bleach: Deluxe Edition on Sub Pop Records, where you can download the song for free.

The show is sponsored by Eastbay/Footlocker.com, a leading supplier of athletic footwear, apparel and sports equipment. The promo code AFCOMP15 will get you 15% off any order at Eastbay. The code AFCOMP20 will get you 20% off any order of $75 or more at Eastbay. And the code AFCOMPFL will get you 15% off any order at Footlocker.com.

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. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mind Eraser, No Chaser

I'm not an overly superstitious sort, but I don't want to go proclaiming the house as illness-free just yet. Besides, it wouldn't be true: Deb still feels pretty lousy and is going to work tomorrow for the first time since Monday, Lily finally went back to school today after missing nearly a week and Hannah's still got a cough. And I've still got a nagging cough that is annoying the hell out of me. But the house is fever-free, so that's a good start, I suppose.

It has been frustrating. I haven't played hockey in a month because I've opted to get sleep instead of having a late night. And my last couple of runs have been difficult at first because I can feel the congestion in my chest. But the coughing isn't as bad, so it seems like I'm getting better.

I was hoping to get together with my buddy Phil to do some podcast recording this week, but we've had a few scheduling issues so it won't happen until next week. Instead, I'm going to record a solo episode tomorrow night after the Leafs game.

Here's a classic from the early '90s. Back at the Webnoize, I used to annoy Briggy by saying this guy's voice sounds like Ozzy (he doesn't). The song frickin' rocks, though:


Monday, November 09, 2009

Radar Love





Life works in mysterious ways. Nearly three years ago, my pimp daddy Olds Ninety-Eight was taken off the road due to its decrepit condition, leaving me with no ride. I actually ran to work a couple of times and was considering buying a bike when we bit the bullet and bought a minivan, freeing up the Maxima for me to drive. Now, I still have the Maxima but we also have a third vehicle, a 1999 Ford Explorer, given to us by Deb's dad.

As I mentioned the other day, it's only got 53,000 miles on it and was kept in pretty immaculate condition. So far, I haven't had any problems with it (fingers crossed). The Maxima's got 128,000 and while it still runs okay, we've had to sink some serious cash into it recently for a new radiator and rear brake pads; the front ones will have to be replaced soon. And it's got some issues; water gets into the trunk, thanks to the car getting rear-ended about five years ago.

But for now, we figure we'll hold onto it in case anything goes wrong with the Explorer, which I'm driving every day. I'll drive the Maxima once or twice a week for the time being.

I have to get used to driving a larger vehicle, although driving the minivan on the weekends helps in that regard. The Explorer is actually a two-door (it's the Explorer Sport model), but there are two rows of seats and plenty of room in the back for storage. It drives pretty well, although in the few days I've driven it seems like it's more of a gas guzzler than the Maxima, which makes sense since it's a bigger vehicle.

As I mentioned the other day, there's no CD player, just a cassette deck. Which gives me an excuse to break out a bunch of my old tapes. Primarily, I'll listen to my iPod Nano via the cassette converter I was using in the Maxima. It's all good.

Oh, and there's the matter of getting the rearview mirror reattached. Just means I need to pay more attention when I'm backing out of spots, which is never a bad thing.

With any luck, this combination of cars will last us at least a couple more years. I'll celebrate with one of the best driving songs EVAH:




Saturday, November 07, 2009

You Be Illin'

It has not been a fun week here at the Kumar household. The girls have been battling various ailments seemingly non-stop. Almost immediately after they both had a great time on Halloween last weekend, Hannah came down with a fever and Lily had pink eye, so we kept them home on Monday and Tuesday (which was a day off for them anyway). They seemed to be feeling better Wednesday, so they both went to school and were fine. Then at 2:30 a.m., Lily woke up and promptly started vomiting. So she stayed home Thursday and Friday.

We headed out yesterday to Springfield College for the homecoming game today, meeting up with Matt and Tricia and the boys and then going out to dinner with some other friends. But Lily was clearly not feeling well, not eating and generally lackluster. Sure enough, Deb took her temperature this morning and she had a fever. Part of the reason we went out was to help Matt and Tricia out; since Matt's on the Springfield Board of Trustees and had some meetings, we were going to help keep an eye on the kids while he and Tricia went out Saturday night. But we didn't want to keep Lily around because we were going to be tailgating outside all day in chilly weather. As it turned out, Deb and Matt's dad gave us his '99 Ford Explorer and Matt drove it to Springfield so we could bring it home, so I brought Lily home this morning while Deb and Hannah stayed there.

Lily still hasn't eaten much, but she seems to be a little better. Her fever came down with the help of Tylenol, but she doesn't have much energy, likely because she hasn't eaten a whole lot. Oh, and our fridge is dying on us, so we don't have much in it. We've got some stuff downstairs in Deb's mom's fridge, so we're making do until we pick up a new one (possibly tomorrow after they get back).

I know we're not the only ones dealing with all this kid sickness; Briggy's had similar problems and the other parents I talk to at the bus stop in the morning say the schools are just full of sick kids right now. It's just a bummer to see your child sick; Lily usually has so much energy. Hopefully she'll have her appetite back tomorrow.

The Explorer drove pretty well back from Springfield. It's only got 52,000 miles on it and appears to be in good condition, although it's missing a rear view mirror (need to glue it back onto the windshield). I've had experience driving a car without a rearview mirror, because the Olds Ninety Eight I drove for a few years was falling apart and at one point, the damn mirror just fell off. You basically have to rely on your side mirrors a lot. So far, so good. It doesn't have a CD player, but it does have a cassette deck, so I can use a cassette converter to listen to my iPod. Anyway, I'll post a full report tomorrow with some pics once I have a camera.

As for me, I've been dealing with a nasty cough that Lily gave me last week, but it's not too bad. I'm going to grill up some steak tips in a while and have a few beers while watching the Leafs-Red Wings game (Leafs have TWO wins now!) tonight. Let's hope Lily gets a good night's sleep without any night fever:

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Selective Memory

The mind is a funny thing. It's hard to explain what triggers memories of events long past, while other seemingly more important things are quickly forgotten. For some reason, this date has stood out to me for years. Specifically, the date November 4, 1983. And it isn't anything that I did that day...actually, it's something I didn't do.

For this to make any sense, you need to understand my life at the time. We had moved to Kingston, NH, five months earlier. It was my junior year of high school and for the fourth time in three years, I had to acclimate myself to a new school. It didn't help that my dad decided to buy property on the very outskirts of town; it was a nice piece of land with access to a huge pond and a few acres of woods, but it wasn't exactly in a neighborhood. We were right on Route 125, a two-lane highway. I was 16, but didn't have my driver's license yet because I wasn't taking driver's ed until the following semester. And as a surly teen, I wanted little to do with my family, so I spent much of my time in my room listening to music.

I've documented this in the past, but I was primarily into metal in those days. And that fall, Black Sabbath had released a new album, Born Again, featuring former Deep Purple yowler Ian Gillan on lead vocals. I picked up the record and was really digging it. It was plagued by a pretty shitty mix, but on the whole, I still think it's a decent album. At any rate, the band played the Worcester Centrum on the night of November 4, 1983. I couldn't go because my parents still hadn't allowed me to attend any rock concerts yet (that happened the following summer), but my friends and I were buzzing about the show because a hot new band named Quiet Riot was the opening act. Sure enough, the show sold out and was recorded by Westwood One for a future radio broadcast, so it's been heavily bootlegged. I taped it off the radio at some point.

I was really bummed that I couldn't go to the show. As it turned out, the band's stage set was supposed to emulate Stonehenge, but the pieces were built too large to fit. In fact, it ended up inspiring a similar gag in the classic movie This is Spinal Tap.

I did end up picking up a tour shirt from a local record store that looked something like this. Quite hideous, actually. I couldn't wear it in front of my mom, who's pretty religious and would have freaked out. Couldn't really wear it to school, either, so I don't think I wore it much at all.

So even though I can't remember anything I actually did 26 years ago today, the date still stands out in my mind.

Here's the first single from Born Again, which I remember hearing on WBCN in between Culture Club and Clash songs back in the day:


Monday, November 02, 2009

Word Up

It's November, which can mean any number of things. The year's almost over, it's dark by 4:30 p.m. now, Thanksgiving's in a few weeks. But it also means it's time for NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month.

The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month. This is the third year I've attempted it; two years ago, I made it to about 35,000 words while last year I hit about 3,000 before a dead laptop, the Philly Marathon and Thanksgiving got in the way. I'm busier than ever this year, what with weekly podcast episodes, a biweekly running column and life in general going on, but I'm determine to at least try.

The idea isn't to write the so-called Great American Novel, it's to simply write something. It's an exercise that leads you to make some interesting and not always wise choices, as I found with the story I wrote two years ago. It started out promising and got really, really weird as I tried to keep it going. By the end, it was just a mess, and an unfinished one at that. I still want to go back and rework it because I had the beginnings of something good there.

As for this year, I want to start from scratch and of course, I haven't started yet. It's highly unlikely I'll hit the 50K mark this year, but I'll give it a shot.

Because it's all about the words:

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Completely Conspicuous 100: TV Party

The podcast's back, as I celebrate 100 episodes and review the decade in television. Click here to listen to the show in streaming audio or download it directly here (right click and "save as").

The show notes...


Topics:

- DVRs allow viewers to watch only what they want to

- More options to view shows: Online, DVD sets, iTunes

- Reality TV became prevalent in 2000s

- Kumar's top 10 TV dramas

- Kumar's top comedies: Talk shows, fake news and sitcoms

- Bonehead of the Week

Music:

- Built to Spill - Hindsight

- The Whigs - In the Dark

- Spiral Stairs - True Love

- Nirvana - Scoff (live)

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

The Built to Spill song is on the album There Is No Enemy on Warner Bros. Records. Download the track for free at Insound.

The Whigs song is on the band's forthcoming album In the Dark on ATO Records. The song is courtesy of RCRDLBL, where you can download the song for free.

The Spiral Stairs song is on the album The Real Feel on Matador Records, where you can download the song for free.

The Nirvana song is on Bleach: Deluxe Edition on Sub Pop Records, where you download the song for free.

The show is sponsored by Budget, the country's premier car rental service. Go to Budget and save 10% off any reservation or $30 off a weekly rental. Help out the show by patronizing my sponsors.

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. Thanks to Bob Durling for the album art; find out more about his photography here.

Completely Conspicuous is a Tan God Production. Word.