Monday, June 27, 2011

Sweet Victory

It's really too bad we haven't invented a 'scratch and sniff' internet, yet.*

For if there was, this entry would smell like VICTORY! 

Remember that little rant a few weeks back about the one way street?  As of Friday that sign was down and things are back to normal.  Gone are the 150 cars cutting through my street every morning, my reasonable concern that my boys were going to get pancaked riding their bikes, and my - until recently - untapped rage. 

Thanks to every resident on our street, the street opposite ours and 100 strangers who stopped to ask, in essence, 'what the fuck?', the city decided 'screw it, let's just take it down and get on with our lives.'

I celebrated with a twelve pack and nice, fat cigar.  Or, as I call it, Friday night. 

Since I'm in a good mood, here are some other thoughts to pass the time. 

-  My whirlwind U.S. tour continues.  Tomorrow I head to Jacksonville for the rest of the week.  This trip was unplanned and last minute as another worker bailed on the project.  On the bright side I get more Marriott reward points and it will be 100 degrees and humid.  Can't wait!  You'll notice I don't get these trips in December.  Only in late June will they send me down there.  Bastards!

-  On the other hand, I'll bet there will be some cute girls wearing skimpy summer can see that here now.  I can't think of one positive thing regarding this trip.  I keep trying, too.  Anyone been to Jacksonville?  Do I have anything to look forward to?  Besides daily thunderstorms?

-  Interesting take on sequels with 'Predators' which I watched over the weekend.  If you liked the first one, you'll enjoy this.  Paced like a bullet train (it opens with a character in free fall) and has one of the more enjoyable and unexpected cameos in recent memory.  What's interesting is this is the movie that seems like it's a direct sequel to the Schwarzenegger original.  While 'Predator 2' wasn't terrible, it really had nothing to do with the first (other than the alien).  I'm pretending the 'Alien vs Predator' movies don't exist, if you're wondering.  This is the role, Adrian Brody was meant for, by the way. Ruthlessly efficient, intelligent, and devoid of human emotion.  Could be a great bad guy if he wanted. 

-  11 year old had his 'moving on' ceremony from grammar school last week.  He's heading to middle school in September which makes me feel decrepit.  He was one of the handful of students who has perfect attendance.  Part of me was a bit disappointed since I offered to have him play hooky with me a couple of days this year and he declined.  That's right, a kid of mine refused to take a day off from school to do nothing.  WTF???

-  I think part of the reason he enjoys school so much is he has an adorable, blond teacher.  So his priorities are in the right place, at least. 

-  Meanwhile, 6 year old is ready to start first grade.  He was actually upset when I told him he would have to wait until September.  I don't know who's kids these are. 

-  The entire 'globalization' of our company has hit a snag.  Seems one part of outsourcing our support system was over looked.  To make a long story short, I don't think anybody considered the possibility that the people we outsource to are complete and total idiots.  I asked a friend in HQ what the contingency plan was if the first step of this new model fails and his response was 'I really don't think there is one'.  Fucking great!  Needless to say, stage two has been put on hold indefinitely.

Some musical thoughts:

Arctic Monkeys - Suck It And See:  After the neutering they apparently went through while recording 'Humbug' it's nice to see they get back to the basics.  There is more than a hint of old fashioned, 60's rock and roll here but it's got 21st century lyrical sensibilities.  That would include lines like 'Topless models - doing semaphore - waves their flags as she walks by - and get ignored'. 

Don't Sit Down Cause I've Moved Your Chair.  Really?  'Go into business with a grizzly bear' is one of the lines in this song. 

Guano Apes - Bel Air:  Remember when No Doubt was hardcore and unapologetic about it?  That's where the Guano Apes are now.  Jagged, experimental, and melodic with a Stefani like lead singer.  I've heard that these guys joined forces after being kicked off Germany's version of 'X Factor'.  No idea if it's true, but it makes a good story. 

Check out Sunday Lover for a sample. 

Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two:  I don't care what comes out the rest of 2011, there will not be a funkier, more entertaining release than this one.  Astounding that nearly 30 years after they barged onto the scene with 'one hit wonder' written all over them, the Boys put out the best album of their career. 

What could be my favorite song of the year

Cave In - White Silence:  Cave In has always been uncompromising in their music.  They make it for themselves and if you like it, great.  If not, move along and find something else.  This release is no different; splitting time between some of the hardest, most ear splitting music so far this year and attempts at finding mainstream, pop acceptance.  Which begs the question, if you make music for nobody and everybody, who is going to buy it?  Other than freaks like me, that is. 

White Silence - listen at  your own risk.  Seriously. 

Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys:  Nowhere near as good as their last release and they move closer to some sort of cabaret-ish, adult alternative, but it's enjoyable nonetheless.  Not a ringing endorsement, I know, but still better than a lot of the rubbish out there. 

Live version of 'Lippy Kids'  I think it's live, anyway.  Sounds suspiciously like the version on the album. 

Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Belong:  Glossier, poppier and not nearly as good as their debut.  Still some great songs on here, but a bit of a disappointment. 

Here's a live version of Belong.  See what I mean?  This version sounds better than the album version because it's raw and unpolished. 

Parts and Labor - Constant Future:  Industrial, quirky, and hugely enjoyable.  I've heard of these guys for years, but never HEARD them until recently. 

Rest, will ya?  This should put you in a good mood for the rest of the day.

Rival Sons - Pressure & Time:  Gritty, shit kicking, southern rock makes a comeback.  I should give credit to Kid Rock, I suppose, for proving Lynyrd Skynyrd and Thin Lizzie are timeless and still marketable.  Besides, I'm a sucker for a good band name. 

Check out the throw back Zepplin

TV On The Radio - Nine Types of Light:  Brilliant, sporadic band pulls everything together for their third - and best - release.  Pity that this marks the swan song of their bassist who died of lung cancer last month.

Enjoy their Second Song.  Let this one percolate for a few minutes before making a decision. 

We're Not Afraid - Adventures in Poverty:  Punk band who is trying to bring the art of guitar solos back to the mainstream.  The guitar work provides for the song, though, not the other way around. 

Take a listen to Back to Life to get a taste.

Ok, back to work.  Enjoy the tunes and I'll pass along my thoughts on Jacksonville as soon as I can.  I'm guessing the term 'Hellishly Hot' will be involved. 

Today's distraction:  For those of you in other parts of the country that haven't been living the Whitey Bulger saga for the past 25 years, here is a quick run down of the people involved.  Say what you will about Whitey, but he played both sides of this debacle perfectly and managed to escape capture despite living in the same apartment for the past 15 years.  He could be a criminal genius. 

* This was a joke.  The thought of a scratch and sniff internet repulses me to the fiber of my being.  Things are disgusting enough online without having scents to go with it. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Party City

Today is my oldest son's eleventh birthday.  That's right, DA. Make you feel old?  You can imagine how I feel. 
Since he's been born, Boston has celebrated the following:

3 Patriot's Super Bowl wins. 
2 Red Sox Championships
1 Celtic Championship
and now 1 Bruins Stanley Cup. 

I mean....holy shit.  I told him this morning, 'Since you've been born every Boston team has won a championship.  Enjoy this!  You may never see it again.'

While the rest of you think we're spoiled here, let me assure you we (or most of us, anyway) are not taking this for granted.  We come from a city that knows good times come and go and to appreciate any success when we have it. 

I should point out that I'm not even a hockey fan.  While I find playoff hockey much more enjoyable than the regular season slogfests, I am not a regular viewer.  I probably wouldn't know any of the Bruins if they walked by me in the street.  Well, Tim Thomas and Chara, but none of the others.  Still, I'm glad Boston now has a recent grand slam of trophies to parade around. 

Suggestion for T-Shirt makers:  I want a shirt that has all four major trophies on it with the phrase 'decade of dominance' or something equally clever and inaccurate on it.  On the back can be the list of Boston championships since 2001.  No need to cut me in on the proceeds.  Just send me a free one as a thank you. 

While we're on the subject, I was going to feel bad for the Cancuck fans until they started destroying their own city following last night's game.  Way to erode any good will towards yourselves, fucking assholes.  I thought Canadians were supposed to be courteous and kind.  Who knew they were hooligans. 

Onto other thoughts:

-  Strange fellowships are often forged at hotel bars across the country.  Traveling business men are often left with little to do than hit the lobby and watch whatever sporting event is showing.  In Minnesota it was the NCAA tourney.  Last week in Chicago it was Game 5 of the Dallas - Heat series.  Everyone - yes, every single person at the bar - was rooting for Dallas.  In short the opinion was 'Fuck the Heat!'.  When Dallas pulled it out in the end (that's what she said) you would have thought we were in a Dallas hotel.  Everyone was going nuts. 

During the course of the game I talked to a chef from New Orleans, a salesman from Baltimore, a project manager from Chicago, and a Phd in quantum physics from Oklahoma City.  The chef and Phd and myself talked until midnight.  The topic?  Why venture capitalism, of course!  Turns out Mr. Phd had invented a self grading software system specifically for quantum physics classes.  He was traveling the country trying to sell it to colleges and had just secured a cool million dollars in capital. 

Needless to say, he bought us two shots of Jack Daniels each.  Great guy.  Don't believe the stereotypes; this guy was friendly, down to earth and funny. 

-  When I learned the chef was, you know, a chef I told him he had the same look as another chef I know.  Shaved head, small patch of facial hair, two large earrings in both ears.  Phd looks at him and says 'You know, now that you mention it I know a chef who has that look, as well.'  Chef responds, 'It's part of our initiation. You don't look good like this, you can't become a chef'.  I will assume he was kidding. 

-  I haven't finished Season One of The Wire, yet, but there is a very good reason for that:  I've watched the first five episodes and thought 'Fuck renting this, I need to buy this entire series'.  I'm working on that now. 

-  Started watching 'Chloe' on Starz the other night, got halfway through and - despite the potential for lesbian sex - realized I had no interest in how the story turned out or any sex scenes.  Yes, I was that bored by the entire thing.  In fact, I was so sure where this movie was headed, I'm going to guess the last half.  If any of you have seen it, let me know how accurate I am.  I saw up until the part where Julianne Moore's character meets the hot blond in the hotel room, sees her naked then leaves.

Here's how I figure the rest:  Hot blond is lying about the husband.  She really had no affair with him and actually has the hots for Moore's character.  Moore's character submits to lesbian sex and blond hooker chick then becomes Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction.  Am I close?  Does Liam Neeson (yeah, he's in this too) kill blond hooker chick at the end?  Or....let's see how good I am...does Moore's character kill hooker chick with the same hair barrette thing that was given to her as a gift?  That silver hair thing we see at the beginning? 

Although, if hooker chick dies at the end, how do they explain her voice over at the beginning of the film?  Shit, maybe I'm totally off, but I'm betting the movie doesn't care about such consistencies. 

How did I do?

-  FYI:  Summer television sucks.  That I'm kind of into 'America's Got Talent' should ring all sorts of alarm bells up and down the east coast. 

-  Any John Sandford fans out there should know the new 'Buried Prey' is fantastic.  I will say no more, but we should talk when you get finished.

-  My youngest son just made me the best Father's Day card ever.  On the front is a picture of the outside of a building with 'Happy Father's Day' written in crayon.  Open it and there is a hand drawn picture of me and him holding hands while standing next to a red car.  I ask 'What are we doing?' and he replies, 'I'm taking you to buy a Ferrari!'

Man alive.  If only!

Back to work.  Thanks for listening. 

Today's distraction:  A totally unbiased essay on the Bruins' win.  I'm liking Grantland for the most part (esp the Klosterman articles), but you can tell it's a work in progress.  Heading in the right direction which is a very good sign.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Two Things

Two quick items whilst I wait for my flight to board.

1:  Our neighborhood is in the middle of a Battle Royale.  Last Friday when everyone was at work, they made the street one over from ours one way.

I left for work and everything was normal.  I come back and the street is now a Do Not Enter.  Big deal, you say?  Yes.  See, there were no meetings about it, there were no notifications, there were no discussions or debates.

Apparently, there is a local police officer living on that street and he took it upon himself to get this done.  The other problem is that now all of the traffic that usually went up that one way street is being diverted onto our street.  I've seen more cars pass by my house in the past four days than I have the entire 15 years I've lived there.

I'm pissed.  My boys enjoy playing down by the circle and now I'm concerned they're going to get creamed by one of the cars that can no longer go up that other street.  Basically this dipshit has taken his issue (cars on his street) and made it ours.  In short, fuck that.  We've signed petitions, everyone has called city hall and now the Chief of Police is directly involved.  They've had so many complaints I wouldn't be surprised if the signs were down before I get back from my trip.

Which brings me to...

2:  I'm heading to Chicago again.  Kos, let me know if you want to meet up for beers either tonight or Thursday.

That's it for now.  Later.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Plethora of Thoughts

One of my favorite, random, nonsensical moments in a movie occurred in 'The Three Amigos' when the head of the bandits - El Guapo - asks his right hand man, 'Would you say I have a plethora of pinatas?' The dim witted right hand man answers 'yes, yes you have a plethora!'. 

This leads to El Guapo questioning if his right hand man (was his name Jeffe or something?) knows what 'plethora' means.  Jeffe admits he does not which sets El Guapo into a rage and leads to Jeffe offering 'I think perhaps you are angry at something else and taking it out on me'.  I need to watch that movie again.  It's been a long time. 

Here are a plethora of thoughts since last we chatted.

-  The weather pattern in Boston the last few years now looks like this:  Winter - sort of Spring in which it rains for three weeks straight, never gets above 50, reminds everyone of Seattle until suddenly - SUMMER.  Spring doesn't exist around here any longer. 

-  June is - by far - my favorite month of the year.  Beautiful weather, school lets out (which makes my life much easier), Father's Day, eldest's birthday, cookouts, fun and sun.  Need I say more?

-  My neighbor told me last year that if I ever wanted to trim back some branches from the trees on his land (but over hang my yard) that I could feel free.  Well, last Saturday I noticed neither car was in their driveway and I took full advantage.  Gone are several small (20 feet or shorter) trees and many branches that kept dropping shit in my yard. 

-  For the record, my least favorite tree is the Oak.  It drops acorns in the fall, looks ugly and sheds these annoying, stringy yellow things all over the place in the spring.  Really, there is no good time of the year for an Oak.  Other then February. 

-  Took the boys to see 'Thor' over the long weekend.  Much more enjoyable than I expected.  Some very funny moments and it was refreshing to see a superhero learn humility.  Why Natalie Portman was in it remains a mystery. 

-  The Foo Fighers have remained a source of great personal frustration for me in the past decade.  Their 'Color and the Shape' remains one of my favorite rock albums of all time, but they've rarely strayed outside the mainstream since then.  That they're still labeled an 'alternative' band seems more of a nod to Grohl's Nirvana origins than the music the Foo Fighters actually produce.  There are moments on all of their albums that hint at what could be.  Frankly - at this point in their careers - I had given up hope.  I'm wrong again.  'Wasting Light' is their hardest rocking release so far.  I even hear hints of 'Queens of the Stone Age' in here which may be Josh Homme's influence from 'Them Crooked Vultures'. 

Or maybe Grohl is just pissed off again.  He always seems to make his best music when he's in pain. 

-  I'm putting this up for vote.  Do I finish watching the rest of the DVRed 'Chicago Code' episodes now that the show has been canceled?  Have 3 or 4 left to get through, but not sure it's worth my time. 

-  I was just reminded that today is my 10 year anniversary with my current employer.  I was reminded when a big magazine showed up with gift options to choose from.  Here are my options (I'm eliminating the girly stuff like pots and pans and jewelry):

Megellan GPS System
Six inch LCD TV
14 MP digital camera
DeWalt 12 volt cordless drill (I'm shocked how much this appeals to me)
Maui Jim 'Stingray' Sunglasses (I wear nothing but Maui Jim's, btw)
Seiko Watch (don't wear a watch)
Poulan Pro leaf blower
26 inch Huffy Mountain Bike (nice, but it's a friggin' Huffy)
Sony Mini Hi Fi iPod System
HD Digital Camcorder
Haler Beer Cooler (like a mini fridge)
Bushnell telescope (boys would LOVE this)
Blu-Ray Player
Exercise Bike
Magellan Portable GPS
Air conditioner
Coffee Maker (really nice one, dual pot holders, espresso maker, etc)
More watches
Wine Cabinet
Golf clubs (don't golf)
Another beer fridge only for wine but I would totally use it for beer if I got it.

And finally, what could be the winner

Coby Touchscreen Tablet (comes with Android OS)

There's also a bread maker, but fuck that. 

-  I have a coworker who has an extremely annoying habit of acting like something is an emergency, IMing me with 'OMG, can I call you?', I reply with Sure and she takes forever to call.  I'm waiting right now.  IM when you're ready to talk and not a second before that, will ya?  And I promise this isn't even that important.  I have gifts to pick, dammit!!

-  It's looking like Miami is going to win the title with the three sell outs.  Well, two plus the one that was already there.  Like Cleveland hasn't been tortured enough. 

-  I should point out that Miami winning it all disproves once and for all the existence of any karma gods.  After LeBron leaving a team and city (his HOME city, no less) in ruins and that disgusting, over the top introduction karma would have broken one of their legs or humiliated them in some public, painful fashion.  Instead they'll be spraying champagne all over each other while Miami goes back to sunbathing and living the rich life.  Fuckers. 

-  Coworker finally called to tell me nothing of significance. 

-  Bruins are in the Stanley Cup finals which I enjoyed for the sole reason of winning a bet with my friend from Tampa.  She now needs to keep the Bruins logo attached to her email signature for the rest of the week.  Pity I didn't realize this would be a short week. 

-  Was downloading some tunes yesterday when my computer screen flashed, all the icons on the desktop disappeared and my downloading errored out.  I went into my music folder and EVERYTHING was gone.  Every single music file was wiped off the face of the earth.  I attempted a system restore, which returned the folders but not the music.  Fortunately I back things up and spent approximately 4 hours restoring everything.  What a joke.  Now I have to recreate my Playlists which only took me 5 days last time.  Fuck me!

Work is pulling me away again.  I really need to quit so I can write more, but then my house would be in foreclosure, my kids would be homeless and I wouldn't have internet access.  Defeats the purpose. 

Today's distraction:  Don't ever become Facebook friend's with Adam unless you have a good sense of humor about yourself.