Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Game Changer

Yeah, I know.  It's been a while.  Apologies all around as I've been all over the country (not to any place fun, unfortunately) and have been busy cleaning up projects, acclimating to my new position and recovering from the worst stomach bug in a generation.  My digestive system still isn't right.

Was that too much info? 

Leave it to television to spur me to write.  As most loyal readers know I'm an adamant 'Good Wife' viewer and even wrote about how it never rests on it's laurels by constantly changing the story.  Alicia as mother re-entering the work force, Alicia and Will as a possible couple, Alicia and Will as a couple, Alicia becoming admired and successful, leaving the firm to start her own.  Like life, nothing is static in the Good Wife universe. 

Everything is constantly evolving.

Now would be a good time to issue the standard 'Spoiler Alert' warning.  I'm about to discuss last Sunday's episode so if you haven't watched it yet, read no further.  Or skip down to other topics. 


Last Sunday the show killed off Will Gardner.  In hindsight we should have seen this coming.  Will and Alicia's animosity had subsided a bit and they became mutual admirers.  They even shared a light moment during his last trial.  Throughout the previous episode before Alicia spent time reminiscing about how Will helped her get back into practicing law.  Before he died, he tried to convince Kalinda not to leave investigation since 'it's what we do'. The circle is complete. 

Hopefully this isn't a jump the shark moment, but I must admit that it will be fascinating to see how these characters react to losing a close member of their lives.  It also creates a power vacuum in the new Lockhart Gardner law firm and we all know how ruthless lawyers can be.  Plus the show has rewarded my skepticism at nearly every turn.

One more note.  Unlike other shows that make a big deal out of deaths and goodbyes (looking your way Jimmy Smits and 'NYPD Blue') Good Wife took out their lead male with barely a word.  One minute he was going about his daily activities, the next he's gone.  There were no confessions or last minute forgiveness or sappy soliloquies. 

Kudos, as well, for the entire cast and crew keeping this shocker a secret.  Usually we hear well in advance about an actor leaving a show, but this came as an absolute surprise.  That the case involved was introduced near the beginning of this season shows the creators were setting this up for a while.  Well done, Good Wife. 

Some other thoughts from my travels.

-  I've been to Dallas three times in the past three months.  This gets tired quickly as you can only eat the at the same places before getting bored.  Dallas has always felt like an impersonal city to me.  IT doesn't have a personality and, instead, tries to be everything to everyone.  There is an mammoth mall, restaurants all over the place, traffic for as far as the eye can see in nearly every direction, and more construction than I've seen since the Big Dig.

My lone saving grace is a heavenly place in Addison called The Elite Cigar Café.  On one side is a cigar store.  Attached is a pub with more TVs then the ESPN green room (I would assume).  Games of all sorts are on display and visible from every couch, booth and bar stool in the place.  If the weather is nice you can sit outside on the patio.  When I first stumbled across it I sent some pics and an email to Wifey: 'I found my Nirvana'.

Btw, the Elite Cigar Café shares the same plaza as a sex shop called 'Condom Sense'.  I'm a sucker for three things:  Great band/store names, blondes and great beer.  Well, any beer, really.

- Oh, that reminds me.  Big news here in the Boston area!  They've started selling Yuengling all over the place.  I have no reason to go to the mid Atlantic region at all any more.  Screw them.  I get my own Yuengling here now.   

-  Spent two days in Kentucky a couple of weeks back.  I went to the bar that shared the parking lot with my hotel and forgot they still allow smoking in the bars.  Didn't take me long to high tail it out of there.  While I was eating a dude next to me (who looked and sounded just like the serial killer from 'Silence of the Lambs') said to the woman next to him, 'My mom and dad split and she wound up marrying his cousin.  They had a kid so my half brother is also my second cousin'.

Do you think even West Virginia looks down on Kentucky?

-  Was supposed to visit Rochester NY the following night, but a blizzard knocked that plan for a loop.  Instead I drove from Boston the following week.  Does anyone else take the estimated drive time a GPS provides as a personal challenge?  The Garmin said 7 hours, but I made it in 5 hours and 45 minutes.  Garmin is a slow poke. .

-  I did get to visit with an old friend while I was in upstate NY, though, and she still looks fantastic.  We used to have lunch together all the time and I miss our conversations. 

-  Boat season is quickly approaching which means I probably won't be posting again until October.  Ok, maybe not that long.  I'll put up some pics of my fun times on the seas.  We're planning weekend trips to fun places along the coast and (possibly) bringing it up to Maine on our annual vacation.  That's up for debate since gas costs so much. 

That's all for now, friends.  Catch up with Good Wife if you haven't already. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 In Review - Music

It took me ages to put this post together so you better fucking get the most of it.  I don't have a lot of time left in this life to be putting lists like this together.  I'm old, ya know.

I was going to embed the links to all the music within the post, but quickly realized this would become one of the most massive posts in internet history. Instead, just select the music you want to check out and enjoy.

Be brave, too.  Don't prejudge anything.  If I can get one of you to experience and enjoy some new music, then I've done my job.



Clutch - Earth Rocker:  Down and dirty blues rock that is my most listened to album of 2013.  More like this, please.

For your consideration:  What should be the theme song for the last two minutes of every NFL game.

Russian Circles - Memorial:  The inventive, instrumental band totally outdoes itself with their most beautiful music to date.  There is literally no bounds left for this band.  Evey time I think they've topped themselves they do it again. 

For you consideration:  The stunning 'Cheyenne'.

Future of the Left - How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident:  Another quirky, hilarious yet totally accessible release from one of my favorite bands ever. 

For your consideration:  An apparently stream of conscious, lyrical hodge podge called 'Singing Of The Bonesaws'.

A Day to Remember - Common Courtesy:   Slightly over produced and poppier than anything they're released before.  So why can't I stop listening to it?

For your consideration:  A hilarious video to 'Right Back At It Again'

Also, amongst the mayhem we find this little gem which makes me want to hear an all acoustic album of their current material. 

Alter Bridge - Fortress:  Iron Maiden for the new generation. 

For your consideration:  The official video for 'Addicted to Pain'.  As an added bonus here is an acoustic version performed for LiveWire.

Stone Sour - House of Gold and Bones Parts 1 and 2:  Yes, they were released separately, but these may have well been a double album.  If you want evidence against the argument that hard rock is dying, you can do no better than this group.  Getting stronger every time out.

Btw, I heard Corey Taylor wrote a novel that follows the story the albums follow.

For your consideration:  From Part 1 here is the double combo 'Gone Sovereign' and 'Absolute Zero' which is one of my favorite songs of the year.

From Part 2 here is a live version of 'Do Me A Favor'.  Not safe for work, btw, and proof positive these guys kick ass.


The Wonder Years - The Greatest Generation:  Punk pop combined with Springsteen's blue collar lyrical sensibilities.  Another band that seems to be getting better with every release.

For your consideration: An acoustic version of 'Dismantling Summer'.  You can start this at the 1:09 mark if you want to fore go all the chatter. 

The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law:  Once or twice a year a friend will forward me an album recommendation that is prefaced with 'It's pop, so not sure if you'd like it'.  As I've stated before, pop is great when done correctly and it doesn't get any more correct that this one.  A bit Metro-ish so if you like that band, you'll enjoy these folks.

For your consideration:  A full live set from Seattle.  My little gift to you for the holidays.

Queens of the Stone Age - ....Like Clockwork:  Another stellar release from Josh and his gang of misfits.  Here's hoping he and Grohl are working on a new Them Crooked Vultures release for 2014. 

For your consideration: 'I Sat By The Ocean' from Letterman. 

Arctic Monkeys - AM:  Adding some classic sounds to their traditional Brit rock, these guys produce yet another quality album without sounding tired. 

For your consideration:  'Snap Out Of It' from the Jools Holland show.



Robert Randolph and the Family Band - Lickety Split:  Probably the closest a studio recording has come to catching the energy and joy of their live shows. 

For your consideration:  The best workout/party song ever written.


Deafheaven - Sunbather:  While there are moments of beauty here, this is not for the faint of heart.  I sort of wish they released this as an instrumental album as the screaming is indecipherable and gets in the way at times.  This is the 'listen to it on your headphones' release of the year. 

For your consideration:  Immerse yourself in DreamHouse


Rival Sons - Head Down:  Continuing on their mission to resurrect classic rock for a new generation. 

For your consideration:  The video for 'Keep On Swinging'

Alice In Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here:  Apparently they never got the memo that grunge is dead.  Good for us.

For your consideration:  'Voices'. A video that created more business for neon signs than all the Seattle bars combined.

Fuzz - Fuzz:  Do you want epic guitar solos amid Sabbath-like rock?  Your wish is their command.

For your consideration:  Loose Sutures which might as well have been written by Tommy Iommi.


Kings Of Leon - Mechanical Bull:  Trying not to alienate what remains of their original fan base while also trying to swim in the mainstream.  Song really good songs here, but can't shake the feeling even they don't know which way they want to go. 

For your consideration:  Old school Kings flashback - 'Don't Matter'.  Should it mean anything that they didn't play this song on SNL and instead had Caleb dress in a pink sweater and play two songs that sound exactly like 'Use Somebody'?

HONORABLE MENTIONS  (without comment, but links to a song I enjoy)

Alkaline Trio - My Shame is True

Palms - Palms

The National - Trouble Will Find Me

Obits - Moody, Standard and Poor

Killswitch Engage - Disarm the Descent

Balance and Composure - The Things We Think We're Missing

BoySetsFire - While a Nation Sleeps

As always, I'm sure I'll immediately remember something I've left off this list and have to add it in the comments.

Feel free to suggest your favorites and I'll check them out.

Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous (but don't let it change you) 2014!

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 In Review - Television

That's right!  It's that time of year again.  Let's get right to the best/worst/etc of the year in television.  Keep in mind, this is just my favorites and I know everyone has different tastes.

If I learned anything from 80s TV, it's that there are Diff'rent Strokes for Diff'rent Folks. 


Good Wife:  Look, I've been touting this show since it first premiered and I know some of you look down on my because I keep bringing this up, but give this a chance.  And, if you don't want to listen to me, then read Mark Harris' breakdown on Grantland.  He expresses it much better than I ever could.  Just know that as much as I've enjoyed the show, this season has surpassed everything that came before.

Breaking Bad:  Hold on, now.  I haven't even seen the final season.  I just completed season two on Netflix, and, regardless of how this ends, this may already be one of my favorite series of all time.  Don't spoil anything for me.  I'm hoping to catch up by the end of the holidays.  Did I write this last year?

Top of the Lake:  An Australian, six (or seven) episode series from Jane Campion (The Piano) about a young girl who discovers she's pregnant and attempts to kill herself.  The characters are so believable and realistic that you feel like your eavesdropping on private conversations (the one reflecting back on an incident that happened after a prom is particularly disturbing).

Brooklyn Nine Nine:  The best new show of the season, I might add (although, frankly, I haven't seen too many).  One of the few comedies I can sit through with my kids, too.  My eight year old LOVES this show and will now watch anything with Andy Samburg in it.  Um...that isn't much.

Veep:  I enjoyed season one tremendously, but this season catapulted into an entirely new stratosphere.  Awkward, intelligent, deeply cynical, and fucking hilarious.  Not one comedy have I laughed harder at than this one. 

Family Tree:  A warm hearted, funny, quick witted series about one man's quest to find out the true history behind his family.  Chris O'Dowd (who is quickly becoming one of my favorites) improvises his way through a dysfunctional group of friends and family and - possibly - finds love in the meantime.  If you enjoyed any of Christopher Guest's movies (Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, etc) you'll enjoy this one.  Hell, even if you don't, give this a shot.

Game of Thrones:  Owner of the most shocking episode in television history (Red Wedding) and still the most complex, sexy and violent shows ever created.  Good times!

Modern Family:  It's here because the writing and acting are so superior to anything going on right now, but it's not nearly as funny as it used to be.  It's no longer must watch on Wednesday nights.  That's quite a drop off for a show of this quality.


The Walking Dead:  Religiously watch this show as usual, but realize - like the biters - there isn't much brain activity going on behind the scenes.  This show nearly lost me when an antibiotic miraculously cured an outbreak of a virus in the prison.  It's a fucking virus.  Antibiotics don't cure viruses.  Ask any parent who has had to suffer through a viral infection with their kids.  Glad the prison is now behind them, although I may miss the Governor despite my best intentions. 

Agents of SHIELD:  I expected it to be better, but it's still a diverting, humorous, entertaining way to spend an hour. 


Dads:  This comes on just before 'Brooklyn Nine Nine' and I wind up catching a bit of it accidentally from time to time.  How does shit like this get on television?  Even if it were an experiment on what would be socially acceptable or political incorrectness (like 'Married With Children' back in the day), you need to at least be funny.  As long as you make me laugh I can forgive racism, crudeness and stupidity.  This does everything but.

Real Housewives...  Any of these stupid shows can make the list.  My wife will sit and watch episode after episode.  I can't stand 15 minutes with these people.  They are people, right?  Not parodies of themselves?  I'm still not sure.

The Million Second Quiz:  Yeah, I know this was just a standard quiz show, but the 'impromptu' visits to the houses of the next contestants strained my beliefs so much they're still rehabbing.  How did nobody see an entire camera crew on their front lawns?  Why did everyone have an entire house full of people?  Every single time?  All behind the contestant smiling like idiots?  Why did the producers feel as though forcing every day people to act surprised on national television was a good idea?  You're fired.  All of you.  NO MORE SOUP FOR YOU!!


Boardwalk Empire:  I just don't have the time to deal with a bunch of sociopathic, homicidal maniacs on a weekly basis.  Well, I do...but they need to be way more interesting and less mopey than this crew. 

Revenge:  Proving that it's possible for a show to jump the shark after 6 episodes.

Sleepy Hollow:  It grabbed me for a few episodes, but I quickly lost interest when the humor disappeared.

I'll get to the stellar year in music after the Christmas.  Enjoy your gifts!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'm Saved!

In research that appears to have been undertaken in a direct effort to save me from my own lifestyle (narcissism alert!) scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have figured out how to convert fat cells into liver cells

Allow me to quickly quote the article link above:

'Unlike most other organs, a healthy liver can regenerate itself to a significant extent. But this capacity cannot overcome acute liver poisoning or damage from chronic alcoholism or viral hepatitis.'

I had no idea a healthy liver can regenerate itself.  Probably because my liver has been gasping for breath since 1985. 

If you're at all familiar with my life choices (what some would call 'raging alcoholism') and growing waist line, this is nothing but good news for me.  I would be cartwheeling down the street if I was sure I wouldn't be bed ridden for the effort. 

Just think, I can now drink even more beer.  Then, when I get fat - a definite side effect of beer drinking, by the way - I can have liposuction and have those cells put into my liver where they will convert and make me invincible.

Invincible, I say!!!

Granted, these tests have only been performed on mice, but my new life partner, Dr. Gary Peltz (MD, PhD, super fucking smart) says the techniques are easily adaptable to humans.  I should point out that I added the 'easily' to that last sentence because I am nothing if not wishful thinking.

Even better, the process of taking fat cells and doing something scientific-like to them to convert them to liver cells takes only nine days.  Quick enough that I could go on once last mega bender before recharging with my own blubber.  Science is awesome!

As a side note, the good doctor points out that this may replace liver transplants.  More importantly, since the process uses the patient's own cells to regenerate, the use of immunosuppressants (drugs people have to take so the body doesn't reject the translplanted organ) will no longer be necessary.

More livers all around, please and thank you.

Well done, people at Stanford. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Random Thoughts

Some ramblings for your consideration.

-  Just as I'm getting back into writing in this space, I get promoted.  WTF?  I've basically just jumped multiple levels to become in charge of the entire North American Department.  I should point out that I have ZERO managing experience and this entire idea is going to implode like a supernova.  The whooshing sound you'll hear in the coming months is my effect on my company.  Might as well change my nickname to Black Hole.  Well, wait....that sounds gross.

-  On the plus side, I can now approve my own travel plans.  And there are several offices in southern California that need some TLC.  I should probably spend the month of February there introducing myself and taking people out to dinner. 

-  While I'm flattered for the unexpected promotion, I can't help but hark back to that classic commercial and cringe a little:  'When I grow up I want to be a middle manager'.

-  One positive in my blogging break (I refer to it as a hiatus to trick myself into thinking anyone cared) is the lack of bizarre advertising spam comments that used to follow each post.  So, either Google has rid the world of them or they have no idea I exist.  Kind of like the rest of the world.

-  While I'm thoroughly enjoying 'Brooklyn Nine Nine' I can't get past the similarities to 'Parks and Rec'.  All the characters are the same in each show:

The competent, yet goofy lead

The humorless, tough chick

The eager, competitive one

The dude that should have retired years ago and sticks around to be the butt of everyone's jokes (if there is an episode that reveals Christy Brinkley as his wife, I'm out).

The best friend who kisses ass

The no-nonsense leader of the office (precinct)

And, as I found out, there is a reason for this: The original 'Parks and Recs' show runner is now in charge of 'Brooklyn Nine Nine'.  So at least he's ripping off himself. 

-  My long held theory regarding fantasy football is being confirmed on a weekly basis. I firmly believe that if you don't have an elite quarterback, you have no chance.  I would go so far as to say QBs should be drafted ahead of running backs. 

Sadly, it's my own team confirming my suspicions.  I have Cam Newton who has been up and down all year.  On games he gives me over 30 points, I'm undefeated.  Games under 30....not one win.  So yeah.  It's been that kind of year.

-  Anyone catch that David Blaine special last night?  I don't think there is any hidden, sleight of hand with him.  I think he's actually a wizard.  There is no other explanation.  Harrison Ford's reaction to one of his card tricks is fantastic.

-  My wife's uncle died a couple of weeks back and we decided it was time to introduce our boys to the wonders of wakes and funerals.  My eight year old was enthralled with the entire process.

'Is that him?   Why does he look like he's sleeping?'

'Why don't they just close the lid of the coffin?'

'Casket?  That's the same thing as a coffin?  Why don't you just call it a coffin?'

'When will he become a zombie?'

'Who is taking care of his dog now?'

'Why are there things in the coffin with him?  He can't use them anymore.'

'How come some people get buried but others get burned up?'

'Can I jump in the grave?'

'If I die, make sure you put in my iPod so I still play games.'

-  The joys of management #1:  Since the announcement came out regarding my new position I have received and replied to more emails than I have my entire time at this company.  It's been three days. 

And...there is another one.  Gotta go. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Human Good Luck

My oldest son is spoiled.

Not from me.  I make him work for his food.  Raking the yard, emptying the trash, feeding the dog.  My boys hold their own. 

No, he's spoiled from a sports perspective.  He's had more championship parades during his first thirteen years of existence than I had my first 35. 

Here's the time line of his life from a sporting perspective:

June 2000:  Born

February 2001:  Patriots stun the St Louis Rams to win Super Bowl.  Still one of the more incredulous sporting events I've ever watched live.  So unexpected was this Patriots turn around from league laughing stock to Super Bowl champs I still vividly remember the mood at that parade.  Not so much 'Yay, we won!' and more a 'Am I dreaming?  Is this really happening?' vibe.  Basically there were five million people acting like we all got high off the same, mammoth bong. 

October 2003:  The one blemish on his psyche:  The Grady Little Game. 

February 2004:  Patriots win Super Bowl #2

October 2004:  Following the most stunning comeback in baseball history, the Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years, fueling speculation that the end of the world was near. 

February 2005:  Patriots repeat.  Ring #3 for the Brady/Belichick team.

October 2007:  Red Sox win again, proving karma is paying back Red Sox and Patriot fans for everything that had happened in their lifetimes.  With interest.

February 2008:  Pats go 18 - 0 and reach their fourth Super Bowl only to lose due to the most ridiculous catch in NFL history. 

June 2008:  Celtics crush Lakers in game six to claim title 17.  Eldest son had started wearing Garnett jersey about 10 minutes after watching him play.

June 2010:  Celtics make Finals only to run out of gas and lose game seven in LA.  This despite Kobe shooting 6 for 24.  As a Bostonian, I'm required to bring that up in any mention of this series. 

June 2011:  Riding the good vibes of the other three teams, the Bruins bring the Stanley Cup to Boston for the first time since the Ford administration. 

February 2012:  Patriots reach Super Bowl #5 only to lose to arch nemesis Giants and Eli Manning for the second time.  I blame Wes.

June 2013:  Bruins make improbable run to the Stanley Cup finals only to lose in devastating fashion when the Blackhawks score 2 goals in .5 milliseconds (or so it seemed) in game six to end the series.  Everyone believes the decade of dominance has come to a brutal end. 

October 2013:  But wait!  Here come the Boston Red Sox riding team chemistry, clutch hitting and Boston Strong to win yet another World Series. 

Let's add up this mind boggling run:

3 World Series - 3 rings
5 Super Bowls - 3 rings
2 NBA Finals - 1 ring
2 Stanley Cup Finals - 1 ring

Summary:  9 championships and 4 close calls in 13 years. 

Another way to phrase this is from my oldest:  "I guess I'm just good luck!"

Little bastard.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Scarefest 2013 - John Dies At The End

Today's Movie:  John Dies At The End (2013) - viewed on Netflix

Starring:  Two dudes I've never heard of before and, strangely, Paul Giamatti, who must have needed a quick payday.

Plot:  Alright, hang on here.

Two guys become super clairvoyant and begin seeing other worldly creatures after taking a drug called 'Soy Sauce' which appears to be a living organism.  Random, odd, people pop in and out of the drama and are never fully explained.

The two friends wind up involved in some sort of inter dimensional clash of worlds where one (not ours, of course, because we're slackers and peace loving douche bags) wants to take over the other by ingesting all the smart people into this one eyed, genius monster (what? it's how it gains more knowledge).

Gore Factor:  Very high.

Nude Factor:  Non existent

Scare Factor:  A few jumps, but this plays more like a Cronenberg film: creepy and surreal.

Review:  If you're thinking that this is a seriously fucked up movie, you don't know the half of it. I didn't even mention the creatures that will show themselves to people in different forms, the dog that can drive cars or the creature that creates itself out of freezer meat.  Also there is some world famous spiritual dude (played by Clancy Brown) who can somehow destroy these creatures with a phrase over the phone. 

If you're also thinking this doesn't sound very serious, you've nailed that, as well. There are several laugh out loud moments throughout (after all how did they get the meat creature to take a cell phone call?) and there is a time bending aspect to it which results in John calling his friend and asking 'Did I die yet?'. 

Or popping back to life and having this exchange.

John:  'Where are we?'

'At the mall'

John: 'Coming or going?'


John: 'Right, it would have to be going because Fred is still alive'

Fred - standing next to John:  'WHAT???!!!'

Bottom Line:  Strange, nearly incomprehensible plot yet often grotesquely funny.