Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Live on location...

Today’s blog is coming to you live from Starbucks on College Green here in Dublin. I’m joined by a grande peppermint mocha (no whip) and a peach and raspberry muffin. It’s a cloudy 6 Degrees Celsius outside and it’s a good day for a blog.

First off the bat, there’s a slight change to today’s iPod top ten. Basically, this stems from a discussion I had the other day about the band Arctic Monkeys (with whom I’m not all that impressed), which then progressed to other bands, like the Killers, about whom I said that if they’d been around when I was in school would have been one of my favourite bands. So, as usual, I got to overthinking it, and in honour of that conversation, plus the inspiration provided by the fact that this place is swarming with schoolgirls right now (at least two thirds of whom look identical to girls I knew ‘back in the day’), today’s top ten is a load of songs that the 17-year-old me would have loved, had they been around. Looking at it, there’s a fair amount on there that might suggest I was a whole lot more depressed back then than I might have realised, but they’re all good songs, so let’s just move on.

Anyway, today’s blog comes to you through the miracle of WiFi. I feel intimidated like ‘Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer’ from the old ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch in the presence of this technology. I’m still on dial-up at home, so to go from being restricted by a phone cable (and the subsequent bills, technical problems and tectonic connection speeds) to this, where I can sit at any table and connect ten times as fast as at home is really a novelty.

Also, given the title of this blog, I think it’s about time I did one from an actual coffee-house. I’m not anti-capitalist or anything so I’ve nothing against Starbucks, though I do get where people are coming from when they complain about it ruining café culture. In the case of Dublin, though, I think it might actually help generate a little competition – Starbucks is open until 10, prior to this you couldn’t get a decent cup of coffee past about 7.30pm. I’m sure someone’s going to argue with me on this one. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of decent places to eat, drink and yes, get coffee in this town – so long as it’s bright outside. Up until this place opened, if you’re in town after 8pm with an hour to kill you’re pretty much obliged to drink.

I’ve got to run off for a class in a minute, but just while we’re here, I want to mention three links I’ve just added. The first is for Snopes, which I’m mentioning because I’m totally obsessed with the show ‘Mythbusters’ right now. It’s a great site for Urban Legends and e-mail hoaxes. The second two are links to my two articles from last year on iVenus, an on-line women’s magazine.More tomorrow…

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Overdue post and the end of an era...

Okay folks, here it is...

I walked back into my office Monday morning with the realisation that, having not been in here since last Tuesday, I kind of missed the place. It’s a mess – I started reorganising the place a few weeks ago, so there’s a few things in ‘to be sorted’ piles that are becoming even more disorganised now that the cat has started sleeping on top of them. The bin needs emptying, too. Still, it’s where I do my best work (and this blog) and it has everything I need in here.

For the record, my office is the smallest bedroom in my house. I’ve got a chair, a desk, three over-flowing bookshelves, a PC, various random pictures (including a Penguins pennant, photos of my wife, my friends, and a photo of Muhammad Ali that my wife bought me for Christmas), some speakers that my iPod hooks up to, as well as a ton of pretty random junk and six month old news papers (and three year old magazines). It's not much but it's home...

Still, it was good to get away from here for a few days – I’d been spending so much time in the house (bar classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings) that this space was in danger of having posts titled ‘What My Cat Just Did’, ‘Several Things I Just Found In The Kitchen’ and ‘A Running Diary of Last Night’s Mythbusters’.

With that said, I’m not going to post a ‘How I Spent My Vacation’ blog, either. I will say this – I still really like Cork, and if they ever open a Starbucks on Patrick Street I just might move there.

A couple of musical recommendations, before I move on:

Three albums I’m listening to at the moment: ‘Veneer’ by José Gonzalez, ‘In The Airplane Over The Sea’ by Neutral Milk Hotel and ‘From Under The Cork Tree’ by Fall Out Boy. I mentioned it last week, but Fall Out Boy’s ‘Sugar, We’re Going Down’ is still my favourite song at the moment.

Actually, I’m going to interrupt this because the postman just arrived with a very, very long overdue issue of Paste magazine. It’s actually a good time for it to arrive because if you’re looking for some good new (and not-so-new) music, Paste is a terrific place to start. Go to to check it out. It’s a little expensive if you’re outside the U.S. or Canada, but worth it if you like good music. And I think you can order a sample issue to try it out. Anyway, the cover story of this one (October/November 2005) is Cameron Crowe’s movie ‘Elizabethtown’, one of my favourites of the last year (along with ‘Serenity’ and ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’) so that’s something to read on the train later.

I’ve got so much I’m trying to watch right now – I started season 4 of ‘Alias’ last night, and I’ve got season 2 of ‘The Sopranos’ and Season 1 of ‘Arrested Development’ and ‘Due South’ in the queue. I’m also watching ‘The West Wing’, ‘Smallville’, ‘Bones’ and ‘My Name Is Earl’ on TV. And then Sky TV have started advertising the new series of ‘24’ starting in February! I think they’re actively trying to prevent me from doing anything constructive with my life.

Now… I know I said I’d be stepping away from hockey posts for a while, but I feel it only necessary to say this. I just got an e-mail about fifteen minutes ago announcing the retirement of Mario Lemieux. This is a huge deal for me. I’m actually kind of upset right now – I spend a disproportionate amount of time wearing a #66 Pens jersey, he may well be my all time favourite athlete. Screw that – he *is* my all time favourite athlete. At the risk of sounding like I have a big giant man-crush on him, watching Mario is probably one of the things that got me into sports. I’m going to write something – I’ll probably devote a whole post to him – but give me a few days. I’d really like to do him justice, and not make bizarre arguments that end up making the opposite point that I intended (as has been pointed out that I tend to do…). Watch this space, it’ll be here in a couple of days.

Don’t know if there’ll be a post on Wednesday – I actually have to be places kind of early. I’m going to bring the laptop with me, though, and see if I can’t get anything done.

Until next time…

Monday, January 23, 2006

Delays, delays...

Okay, I know that the iPod Top Ten hasn't been updated in a while, and that I was supposed to have something new today (Monday). Unfortunately I had internet problems at home, and couldn't connect. I do have something ready to go, and barring incident, it should be updated tomorrow (Tuesday). Watch this space.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Quick Hits From A Busy Man

Hope everyone had a good weekend – once again, this is a short post. Mainly because I’m desperately trying to finish a college assignment that’s due in a shade over four hours. Yes, it’s true. I’m about seven weeks shy of my twenty-eighth birthday and I’m back in college. Journalism, since you asked. And yes, I realise that the quality of writing in this space isn’t exactly the best advertisement for the course. Thanks anyway. Anyway – some quick hits from the weekend and this morning:

One random snippet I just discovered – LeBron, my cat, absolutely hates the song ‘You’re So Vain’ by Carly Simon. Seriously. It came on my iPod a few minutes ago and he went crazy – tried to kill my leg. He’s now gone back to sleep behind my backpack in the corner, but he was pretty mad there for a while.

Big shout out to my baby sister (she’s 23) Caroline – really starting to come together as an artist. I’m going to have to take a few photos of her paintings and put them up here. It’s good stuff.

Also found out over the weekend that Denis Rodman is on Celebrity Big Brother! This may not come as a shock to many people, but it took me completely by surprise. Not that I’m going to stop watching or anything – I can’t stand Big Brother – but it’s good to see Worm again. I actually got ‘Bad As I Wanna Be’ out of the library a couple of months back and re-read it. It’s not exactly going to win any literary prizes, and you’ll finish it in about an hour, but it’s a hoot.

For most sports, except basketball and hockey, I’m a grade-A, bona fide, unabashed bandwagon jumper. For the past year or so, I’ve been rooting for the Patriots to keep winning, then switching to the Colts to have a perfect run, and so on. I’m not ashamed – I’m not that big a football fan and I barely understand the game (you could arguably replace ‘barely’ with ‘don’t’ in that last sentence). But I like to see a good game. So at this stage I don’ t know who I’m rooting for for the Superbowl. I do know it’s looking more and more likely that I’ll be at the Superbowl party in The Woolshed on Parnell Street here in Dublin. Look for the confused looking guy next to the clinically depressed Dolphins fan.

That’s it for today, I’ll try to make up for this with a better post tomorrow when I don’t have an assignment due. Until then…

Friday, January 13, 2006

Mark, Cork and TV

Well, for the last time (until I need a gimmick again, at least) – here’s the bottom five (The Top Ten's still on the right).

1829. ‘Asthenia’ – Blink 182
1830. ‘Postcard Blues’ – Cowboy Junkies
1831. ‘It Must Be Summer’ – Fountains of Wayne
1832. ‘When He Reached Down’ – Johnny Cash
1833. ‘Country Feedback’ – R.E.M.

Actually, for the first time in the writing of this column this week, I’ve turned off the shuffle function (after I got this list, of course) and skipped straight to the song ‘These Are Days’ by 10,000 Maniacs, because NASN (our local channel for North American sports) was showing the Mark Messier tribute from last night’s Rangers game this morning and, despite having a hundred things I should be doing, I watched it. Incidentally, I’m not kidding – I’m in big trouble when my wife reads this on her break in about an hour. Anyway, ‘These Are Days’ was the song playing as Messier walked off the ice after they raised his number to the rafters. I grew up as a hockey fan (I didn’t really start paying attention to the game until I was 14 or 15) watching Messier torment the Penguins. I don’t remember him as an Oiler (nor do I remember Gretzky as an Oiler, a fact that may prevent me from ever moving to Canada), just as a Ranger. When he announced he wouldn’t be coming back this season, I was a little sad. Admittedly, he’s no spring chicken, and hasn’t been in a while. The Rangers have been overloaded with individual talents and strong personalities who almost seemed to resent not wearing the ‘C’ on their jerseys. Messier though, he was something special. Maybe the most competent player on the team in the past couple of years. And when a player retires, leaving a team you’ve always linked with him, well, you feel a little sad. And old. Mark, you’ll be missed.

Okay, that’s it for hockey for a while. I’m going to try and get a few more topics going here next week, so barring a ‘John Travolta in Pulp Fiction’ like comeback by the Penguins, or some blockbuster trade or other, I’ll be keeping it to a minimum. One of my friends did actually send me a rebuttal to my Caron/Fleury comparison, and I’ll probably address that soon. But for the moment, it’s on to other things.

For part of next week, by the way, I’ll be in Cork. It’s where my wife is from originally and she wants to visit some relatives she hasn’t seen since we got married last June. Anyway, we’re heading down on Wednesday and I don’t know to what extent I’m going to be able to update this page while I’m there. I’ll be bringing the laptop with me, and I’ll write something every morning, but it might have to wait for a long update on Saturday, when we come back.
Incidentally, I really, really like Cork. Last year it was the European City of Culture, a title I thought was long overdue, if only for producing bands like The Sultans of Ping (and especially for their song Where’s Me Jumper?), The Frank and Walters, and bluesman Rory Gallagher. It has the best Mexican food in this country (Café Mexicana on Carey’s Lane), one of the best comic-book stores I’ve ever been in (I think it’s called Other Realms, either way it’s in the Paul Street Centre) and the one of the best second hand book shops (Connolly’s, just outside the Paul Street Centre). It’s kind of a party town, it has streets too steep to actually drive on, and it allows public skateboarding. This is actually an important thing for me. I can’t actually skateboard, never have been able to, but I firmly believe that it’s not a crime. On a Saturday afternoon there’s usually a couple of dozen kids with boards outside the Opera House, some of whom are immensely talented. Every one of them (I’m sure) realises that if they hurt themselves, that’s their problem, there’s enough space that they’re not causing an obstruction, or posing a risk to anyone and, let’s face it – they could be doing a lot worse things.

Good episode of The West Wing last night. Seemed a little longer than last week (though the clock would actually dispute this), but very engaging nonetheless. I don’t know if it’s been revealed on the show in the U.S. yet, but I think I’ve worked out who the leak within the White House is. I’m gonna keep it to myself, though. I’ll probably discuss it in the pub on Saturday night, but I’m going to skip over it here. Thanks to oh-so-clever TV scheduling though, The West Wing now clashes with both My Name is Earl and Bones, both of which had their season premiere last night. I hate TV sometimes.

Anyway, short and all as this is, I’m going to sign off for now. There may be one or two small posts over the weekend, but otherwise, I’ll see you Monday.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sebastien Caron and 'The West Wing'

Like I promised, the iPod Top Ten has moved as of today. From now on it’s going to be on the sidebar to the right. I haven’t moved The Bottom Five, because I’m only going to keep it going for today and tomorrow. After that stick a fork in it, ‘cause it’s done. Anyway, today’s bottom five.

1829. ‘(Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night’ – Tom Waits
1830. ‘Dying’ – Five For Fighting
1831. ‘Always’ – Blink 182
1832. ‘Let The Lower Lights Be Burning’ – Johnny Cash
1833. ‘Utopia Parkway’ – Fountains of Wayne

Before we get on to the main event, I just want to take a second to mention a couple of my favourite things in culture (pop and otherwise) lately:

  • Just heard it yesterday, but I absolutely love the new song by Fall Out Boy, ‘Sugar, We’re Going Down’. In case you’ve seen the video but don’t know the song, it’s the one with the guy with antlers.
  • There’s an excerpt from Peter Bergen’s book on Osama Bin Laden in this month’s Vanity Fair. Actually, depending on where you’re reading this, it may be last month’s Vanity Fair. Either way, it’s the one with Naomi Watts on the cover. Fascinating stuff, though. It’s amazing to read how he was this polite, religious thoughtful and actually fun-loving young man, and how he transformed into what a lot of the West sees as a Bond villain come to life. Bergen seems to do a fantastic job of separating truth from myth while still giving consideration to where those myths came from. I’ll certainly be buying it when it comes out over here.
  • Talking of magazines, Esquire has it’s annual ‘What I’ve Learned Issue’ out (Howard Stern’s on the cover, if you’re looking for it). The collected wisdom of a dozen or so celebrities, politicians and deep thinkers as well as forty-odd of us Average Joes boiled down to one-or-two-line nuggets. Of course, the rich and famous get two or more pages each (including a big photo – which in the case of Alyssa Milano is no bad thing), and the Average Joes get two pages total.

Hey, how about that? I name-dropped Esquire and Vanity Fair in the space of a hundred words. In the interest of fairness, I should point out that up until last week my pile of Maxim magazines was overflowing. Didn’t want you thinking I was cultured or anything.

Anyway, for the main event today, it’s – you guessed it – The Pittsburgh Penguins again, and the news that Jocelyn Thibault – who if you remember yesterday (and if not, scroll down) you’ll know I was never all that excited about anyway – is most likely out for the rest of the season. As a result the Pens have recalled both top goaltenders Dany Sabourin (yes, THE Dany Sabourin) and Sebastien Caron from their AHL affiliate. Now, apart from last night (a 6-1 spanking by the Columbus Blue Jackets) I’m all for this. As AHL goalies go, Caron, Sabourin and Fleury are all top-notch (I believe Sabourin is 15-1-1 with three shutouts and a 1.78 GAA), though there doesn’t seem to be any word on who’s number one, who’s number two and who’s number three.
So I’m putting my cards on the table. I’m coming out for Caron.

I mean, why not? Okay, in terms of pure, raw talent I believe that Marc-Andre Fleury is the best goalie on the team, and may one day be the best in the league. I’m not sure he’s the next Patrick Roy (actually I am sure – he’s not the next Patrick Roy), but when he’s good, he’s damn good. But I can’t get over the fact that he seems to be very, very easily shaken. Let’s pretend for a second that the Pens goal doesn’t have a horrifically shaky defense in front of it. Fleury has a save percentage of .903, placing him eighth in the East. Even in the Western Conference, by far a tougher competition, he’d be tied for tenth. But he’s given up 60 goals in 15 games. Now maybe it’s my bad math, but that GAA looks a lot like ‘4’ to me. FOUR! I can’t back this up with stats but it just seems to me that whenever Fleury lets in an early or soft goal, in his head he’s given up, gone back to the locker room, showered and gone home to watch the rest of the game on TV. Caron doesn’t make the grade on save percentage or GAA but he has more wins, and surely, in mid-January of a season that has failed to live up to its promise of redemption for the franchise, that’s what counts? Even when Caron is getting smacked down by the opposing team and even his own defense, he still looks like he wants to win the damn thing.

Look, I understand the Fleury worship. He was hailed as the saviour of the franchise, the greatest young goaltender or indeed player at any position whose name didn’t rhyme with ‘Schrosby’ or ‘Bovechkin’. The way people were talking about him just before (and indeed after) he was drafted they were only short of renaming the Vézina Trophy for him. The Pens gave him a contract that nigh on crippled them financially (which admittedly, wouldn’t have been hard). They should definitely continue to groom him as a good, solid, number one, if only to get their money’s worth. But Caron has earned respect. In a dismal season, he has a winning record and if I’m Michel Therrien (and I’m the first to admit that I’m not), that’s what I’m looking to finish this season with.

Just before I go, if you’re in Ireland you can watch the second episode of the new season of The West Wing on RTE1 tonight. Last week’s episode, the season premiere, seemed ridiculously short – a good ten or fifteen minutes less than a normal episode – it even finished fifteen minutes earlier than the allotted time in the TV guide. I spoke to someone in RTE and they told me that on programming that they buy or import, it’s policy not to tamper with or cut content. So I don’t know what’s going on there. On a related note, it is good to hear the rumour that creators Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme are to return to write a special ‘farewell episode’ for John Spencer (who plays Leo McGarry) who died late last year.

Until next time…

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

More from the iPod, and More Hockey

A couple of hours after I posted yesterday’s column, I got bored and hit ‘Shuffle Songs’ again. The first two songs that came up were ‘Santa Baby’ and ‘Merry Xmas (War Is Over)’. What I’m wondering is, shouldn’t there be some way of excluding songs from the shuffle selection on the iPod, so that this doesn’t happen? Maybe you could mark all the Christmas Songs to make sure you don’t hear them before December 1st or something. Also, somewhat bizarrely, it tends to follow any Trisha Yearwood song (and no, I’m not ashamed of having Trisha Yearwood on my iPod – thanks for asking, though) with Funeral For A Friend (a Welsh metal band). Warrants mentioning.

And before you ask – Yes, I do have too much time on my hands at the moment.

Anyway, today’s top ten from my iPod:

1. ‘Grazed Knees’ by Snow Patrol
2. ‘Somewhere Out There’ by Our Lady Peace
3. ‘A Fine Day For A Parade’ by Fountains of Wayne
4. ‘Witness’ by Sarah McLachlan
5. ‘Animal’ by Pearl Jam
6. ‘Trouble In Mind’ by Johnny Cash
7. ‘Hard Candy’ by Counting Crows
8. ‘Muriel’ by Tom Waits
9. ‘60B (Etown Theme)’ by Nancy Wilson
10. ‘Exit Music (For A Film)’ by Radiohead

And the bottom five:

1829. ‘Misguided Angel’ by The Cowboy Junkies
1830. ‘Thirteen’ by Johnny Cash
1831. ‘Your Legs Grow’ by Nada Surf
1832. ‘Different Names For The Same Thing’ by Death Cab For Cutie
1833. ‘Midnight Show’ by The Killers

So there you go. I think the wheels have well and truly flown off my theory from the first post. I’m going to keep this list going for a while anyway, though I’ll probably see about moving it to a sidebar or something.

I’m late again today – I just spent the morning (and about two hundred plus change) having my boiler repaired. The good news is that Madden Mansions is warm again after two weeks feeling like a bus shelter. It was starting to get to the stage that I was considering driving around for a while with the heater going just to get warm. Not good times.

I was going through my posts from the old site last night and I found something I wrote last April, that got me thinking. Here’s what I wrote:

My favourite sports story of late is, hands down, the amateur hockey group who are suing the NHL for the rights to have others play for the Stanley Cup. Originally the group decided they wanted to play for it themselves but then decided that it should be a pro team that plays. Couldn’t someone arrange this? I mean I’m all for the pro-teams competing for it, but shouldn’t the Wednesday Nighters (as they call themselves) be given the chance at it? We could have Tampa Bay try and defend the title too. It’d be like Mystery, Alaska. Seriously, they could charge what they wanted for that on Pay-Per-View and I’d pay it.

Does anyone know what happened to these guys? Really, I loved this idea. I think the case was supposed to go through the Canadian courts in September or something, but I never heard. If anyone knows whether or not they ever went through with the case (and obviously, what happened – I’m not expecting to hear that they were allowed to play, but still…) please let me know. There’s an e-mail link on the right…

Anyway, that’s going to have to be it for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with… well, probably more of the same.

And yes, the Penguins lost last night.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Another Whiny Sports Fan...

Okay, first things first, today’s top ten, as decided by my iPod:

1. ‘TV Movie’ by Bruce Springsteen
2. ‘The Magic Number’ by De La Soul
3. ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ by Johnny Cash
4. ‘Electioneering’ by Radiohead
5. ‘If I Had $1000000’ by The Barenaked Ladies
6. ‘Julie’ by The Levellers
7. ‘Harder Now That It’s Over’ by Ryan Adams
8. ‘View From Heaven’ by Yellowcard
9. ‘This Is Radio Clash’ by The Clash
10. ‘What Sarah Said’ by Death Cab For Cutie

and the bottom five:

1829. ‘"T" is For Texas’ by Johnny Cash
1830. ‘Back To The Treehouse’ by Looper
1831. ‘Disneyland’ by Five For Fighting
1832. ‘I’m A Drifter’ by Johnny Cash
1833. ‘Jet Lag’ by Brendan Benson

I’m starting to notice the distinct lack of a pattern here. Maybe we’ll keep this going until the end of the week and then see if I can’t find another gimmick.

Now, as some of you (namely those who have met me) know, I’m a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. I watch the games whenever they’re on TV, I check the previous night’s scores every morning on when they’re not. I read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports columnists a couple of times a week. I’ve got four jerseys from various seasons through the past ten years or so (one of which I practically live in), t-shirts, sweatshirts, videos, books and an assortment of other souvenirs, paraphernalia and other crap. Incidentally, if anyone from the Penguins organisation is reading, I’d really like a bobble-head – but it’s a seven thousand-mile round trip for me to get to a game and I keep getting out-bid on them on eBay. You can e-mail me here…

Here’s the part where I ruin any chance of that last part happening: I’m right now trying to figure out the last time I was so disappointed with a sports team – and I’m also a Knicks fan. Look at the promise that this team showed (on paper, at least) before the season started – apart from Super Mario and Crosby the Wonder Boy we’ve got LeClair, Recchi, Gonchar, Palffy and Fleury (Marc Andre, that is – though Theo now plays for my local team, the Belfast Giants, and is by far the best player in that league). I’m not counting Thibault because he’s the one player that I just wasn’t convinced about. Anyway, if you look at that list you’ve got four players who, while admittedly a little creaky should still be at the ‘wily veteran’ stage of their careers, and one who just two years ago was going to lead the team to immediate and stunning victory.

I guess my question is – what the heck am I still doing here?

On paper I have no vested interest in the Penguins. I’ve never been to Pittsburgh, never been to a Pens game (nor any NHL game, for that matter). I essentially jumped on the bandwagon right after the second Stanley Cup season, thanks to my friend JB and a tape of about a month’s worth of ‘NHL Power Week’. I could just as easily have gone for any other team – in fact, I probably should have been a Rangers fan – at the time I was pretty much obsessed with anything related to New York. Of course, with the possible exception of this season, that wouldn’t have been a whole lot better. Why I like the Penguins (and for all my b*tching, I do like them) is basically a habit at this stage.

Here’s my point – there’s countless people like me (like I said – no tangible reason for being a fan, except for a twelve-to-thirteen-years-and-counting habit) still clinging to the hope that this season will turn around any day now. We’ve had plenty of opportunity – every time Mario came back from an injury we’ve heard words like ‘rejuvenated’ and ‘re-energised’ thrown around. Every time there’s a goaltending change or someone is recalled from the AHL or ECHL, there’s speculation (usually by the Post-Gazette) that the player in question will be just what’s needed to mix things up and turn the team around. Most recently, when Michel Therrien was made coach, we heard about how the team was going to be more focused and more disciplined – and to be fair, this has happened – but the figure in the ‘Wins’ column could reflect this a little more.
I’m not claiming that Pens fans even belong in the column marked ‘tortured’. I was in Chicago in November and went to City Hall to see the World Series trophy, only to find it surrounded by old men in battered White Sox caps close to tears. That’s what someone who’s been tortured looks like (from a sports perspective, anyway). As for me, I’m going to say a little prayer before bed tonight that when I check ESPN tomorrow morning, something good will have happened against Edmonton.

One last thing (assuming someone actually read down this far) – I am hoping to have this updated by 12 noon (GMT) every weekday, but sometimes that won’t happen. It will almost certainly be done by 2pm, at least until I get a job that involves me leaving the house after which we’ll review things a bit more. Finally, I’ll probably start to experiment a little with the look and feel of the page, so if you happen to see something you particularly like or dislike on the page, let me know.

Until next time…

Monday, January 09, 2006

iPods and Cop Movies

Good Morning!
As promised, let’s get to what my iPod has to say first. The top ten tracks on ‘Shuffle Songs’ today are:

  1. ‘Stand’ by R.E.M.
  2. ‘Shoebox’ by The Barenaked Ladies
  3. ‘If God Made You’ by Five For Fighting
  4. ‘Awake’ by Finch
  5. ‘When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder’ by Johnny Cash
  6. ‘The Caretaker’ by Johnny Cash
  7. ‘Bittersweet Me’ by R.E.M.
  8. ‘Miami’ by Counting Crows
  9. ‘Have A Nice Day’ by The Stereophonics
  10. ‘Goodnight Elizabeth’ by Counting Crows

The bottom five:

1829. ‘Singer of Songs’ by Johnny Cash
1830. ‘Dreaming My Dreams With You’ by The Cowboy Junkies
1831. ‘Consequence Free’ by Great Big Sea
1832. ‘ Blue Eyes’ by The Cary Brothers
1833. ‘Building A Mystery’ by Sarah McLachlan

So one day in and already my iPod has turned on me. Three songs kind of back up the point I made yesterday, but for the most part it turns out I have no point anymore. I’m gonna keep this going for another day or two, but I can see us all getting tired of it really fast.
It was a great night for TV last night – actually, it was a little too good for those of us without the facility to tape something while watching something else. ‘Day Of The Jackal’ was on one channel while another was showing ‘Eddie Murphy – Raw’ and ‘Richard Pryor Live on Sunset Strip’ back to back. For 99.9% of people that’s probably not even a choice, and believe me when I say I love good stand-up comedy – so it was actually kind of difficult for me to decide on ‘Day of The Jackal’ in the end. I went with it for two reasons:

1. This is the one I gave my wife when she looked at me like I was crazy when I said I was staying up for it (it didn’t start until 11.15pm). When I was growing up, there was always at least one night over Christmas when Dad and I would raid the Christmas leftovers in the fridge, and settle down with really big sandwiches, pretzels etc. for a late, late movie. At first it was just "Hey, great, I get to stay up late and watch a movie I’m technically too young to see" but it kind of turned into a bonding thing. Generally it was something like ‘Day of The Jackal’, ‘The French Connection’ or ‘The Taking of Pelham 123’. This year, though, nobody was showing anything like that, so it didn’t happen, and I think we both missed it. I guess we could have put on a DVD, but it wouldn’t have been the same.
Dad and I always get on well – we’re both big fans of Springsteen, ‘The West Wing’, ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘24’, so for a second I was genuinely considering driving home and watching it with him, but it was a forty minute drive for a movie due to start in ten minutes, so I stayed here in Madden Mansions. Maybe next time.

2. Seriously, though, when was the last time we had a decent hard-boiled-cop/enigmatic bad guy movie? This may well be the biggest loss to the movies since they introduced a rule that every comedy release on DVD had to be the ‘Unrated! Too Hot For Theaters!’ version. ‘Se7en’ was probably the best one we’ve had in recent years, but a) you couldn’t argue for a second that you were hoping the bad guy would win, and b) there’s no way you can watch the movie without wanting to poke out your own eyes at least once. The classics hold up well as a result, but would it really be that hard to make a good thriller without going to the bloodpack every time?

Anyway, I think it’s about time I tried to generate an income. Be back tomorrow to complain about the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Have a good one…

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New Home

Well, here I am at my new home on Blogger. This spot used to be on eBloggy, but I've moved it for two reasons:

1) While I don't exactly want to get sued here (it would be particularly bad for a first post), I found the service a little patchy. Hey, maybe it's me. There was a period of about a month there where I couldn't get any of my e-mail, except over my cellphone (that's fixed now, thankfully), so there's a good chance that my laptop is to blame (as was the case with the mail). Either way I couldn't sign in as often as I wanted. So a few people I complained to said to try Blogger, and so here I am.

2) I can post photos here! While you won't be seeing a lot of me, I can at least occasionally show you the misanthropes I refer to in my posts.

As on the previous blog, I've turned off comments. Nothing personal, I just don't think my poor ego could stand it. Feel free to e-mail whenever you think there's something here worth getting a discussion going over. I may even do a 'from the mailbag' blog, or something.

In the next day or so, I'll be putting up my favourites from the old blog in a sort of archive thing. So you know what to expect. I'll also be putting up links to some of my stuff that's appeared elsewhere. Because what's a blog without shameless self-promotion?

One new addition to this page will be that, instead of posting my favourite songs, I'll be posting my iPod's favourite songs. Basically, by hitting 'Shuffle' and assuming that its favourites are first and its least favourites are last, I think I've found it to have a specific taste in music - generally speaking it likes old Springsteen and Johnny Cash's Gospel albums, and it dislikes chick singers and ESPN Podcasts.

That's it for the moment. I've gotta go tile a kitchen now. I'm not kidding.