Yearly Archives: 2005

Walk the Line Review

Before I forget, made it out to see Walk the Line last weekend. After reading both of Johnny’s autobiographies (Cash: The Autobiography and The Essential Johnny Cash), I was very interested to see Johnny’s life on the big screen. Walk the Line doesn’t disappoint.

The movie begins backstage at the famous Folsom Prison, and immediately flashes back to his childhood. The first story is that of his older brother who died in an accident with a circular saw. Compared to the books, the protrayl seems a little simplified, but none-the-less conveys the shadow that the event casts over Johnny’s life.

Brief forrays into his stint in the military and his first marriage give way to the start of music career. I was impressed with the way they showed his first audition. The wisely chosen the clip of the music producer asking Johnny to play the one song that people would remember him by that show on the trailer (rather than the gospel standards that they intended to sing originally), is very well done. Johnny then starts Folsom Prison Blues very timidly (and much to the surprise of his band mates who appear to make up their parts as they go along); he slowly builds into the traditionally powerful Cash sound. Amazing.

Things then progress into the whirl wind of quick stardom, constant touring, and its perils. Some of my favorite scenes where in the movie were when they were driving between shows (first in a caravan of personal cars and later in tour bus.) Today, it seems that’s super stars in music seem to skip the day to day struggle of building a career. Also absent in today’s music is the family of performers (ok, maybe there are a few exceptions). By family, I mean extended touring family, like Johnny Cash, the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers, etc; not necessarily blood relations.

The movie does a good job with the star crossed lovers aspect of Johnny and June without making it melodramatic. From their comical first meeting to her eventual acceptance of his many marriage proposals (the culmination of the movie), you get the feeling that they were made for each other, but not necessarily ready to be together. They obviously care deeply for each other, but needed sort of the details of their lives before they could be together.

Besides the fact that both Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon share amazing resemblences to Johnny and June, they also sound spot on. Both sang and played themselves. This lends a lot of crediblity to the story and lets you concentrate on the story instead of watching, waiting for a lip synch slip up. Hearing Joaquin say “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” after walking up to the mic to open a show is totally believable; something I thought they’d have real trouble pulling off.

My only complaint about the movie is minor. After reading both of the autobiographies on which the movie is based, you realize that the movie focuses on the years where Johnny struggled the most; both in the artist building a career, personal growth, and addiction senses. Sure, that’s where some of the most movie compatible events happened, but I felt kind of let down. There’s the optimism of knowing that his marriage to June helped him clean up his act, but it might have been nice to show a couple of more years of the good times to balance things out. But, a movie can only be so long, so I’ll let it slide.

As a person who doesn’t go out to the movies often, I have to really plug movies that are worth the trip. I give Walk the Line 4 stars and definitely recommend making the trip out battling the holiday crowds (and Harry Potter fans, ick) to see it. You won’t regret it!

Incidentally, NPR has had a slew of good Johnny Cash related interviews recently.

Worth a listen!

Running Update

Geez, its been a while since I put a running update. Yesteday, I capped 800 miles year to date. I don’t think I’m gonna make my original goal of 1200 miles for 2005; but, its still gonna be a banner year for fitness for me.

The last few weeks, I’ve been putting a little more emphasis on speed than distance. Looking at my stats, I’m making some progress. A lot of solid 6 milers in the mid 8’s. Have to admit, I’ve been slacking a bit on the weekends, mainly due to a crazy work schedule lately.

Sometime, I gotta get around adding some more reports to my runlog. It would nice to see totals broken out by week and month. Charts would be good too. Now, if I can just find some spare time to work on this. Maybe I’ll add a public display of my weight data that I normally don’t show… hehe.

A Salute to DMB

You may have heard that Dave Matthews Band recently did an extra night their Red Rocks tour finale as a benefit for the Katrina hurricane. Reuters reports what you may not have heard, was that everybody involved donated their time; the band, security, venue, and vendors. Amazing that raised $1.5 million in a single night. That’s quite the testament to the band (who already is very charity/community conscious) and their fans.

In the meanwhile, I’m trying to decide if I’m gonna make the upcoming Rochester show in December my #14.

Rest In Peace, iPod MINI

Thankfully, my iPod MINI still works great. But, Apple is no longer selling them. Its replacement is the iPod Nano. pretty spicy, 2gb or 4gb flash (and 8gb rumored to be coming soon), color screen, and not too expensive. Available now.

In related news, Motorola and Apple have also released a new phone, the rokr, with iPod-esque functionality. Don’t have any spec’s yet, but they say it holds 100 songs and its Cingular only for the moment…

My Dave Matthews Band Concert List

Before I forget again, I dusted off my brain and pulled out all my ticket stubs to compile the list of all the Dave Matthews Band shows that I’ve attended.

  1. July 26, 1998
    Saratoga Performing Arts Center
  2. August 2, 1998
    Vernon Downs
  3. July 21, 2000
    Ralph Wilson Stadium
  4. June 20, 2001
    Ralph Wilson Stadium
  5. July 29, 2001
    Saratoga Performing Arts Center
  6. July 30, 2001
    Saratoga Performing Arts Center
  7. July 28, 2002
    Saratoga Performing Arts Center
  8. July 29, 2002
    Saratoga Performing Arts Center
  9. December 16, 2002
    Blue Cross Arena
  10. June 20, 2003
    Darien Lake
  11. December 20, 2003
    Blue Cross Arena
  12. July 13, 2004
    Darien Lake
  13. July 27, 2005
    Darien Lake
  14. August 4, 2009
    Alliance Bank Stadium, Syracuse

I’ll try to remember to keep it up-to-date. Props to nancies.org’s awesome setlist archive and dmbalmanac.com.

Dave Matthews Band? Still rockin!

I almost passed on Dave Matthews Band concerts this year. Since Ticketbastard has made it just about impossible to get good seats (with their no camping policies, inept clerks in person, and an inept website), its just not worth the money or hassle. Dave Matthews’ Warehouse fan club doesn’t help either (tickets cost even more after shipping and there’s no guarantee you’ll even get seats, let alone good ones.) My theory for this concert was I’ll roll the dice with ticketmaster and see what I could get. I lucked out and scored a couple of seats in section 203 (which turned out to be closer than I thought; bonus!) So, the plans were laid out for my 13th Dave Matthews Concert.

Phew, what a difference the weather makes. I was at Darien Lake a few weeks back for Tom Petty and it almost wasn’t worth the trouble: 97 degrees and absolutely jammed parking. Today, it was cool and rainy for most of the day. I thought the persistent drizzle was going to keep right on going through the concert, but it stopped about 4pm and the sun poked out and cleared up the skies nicely. The rain kept the park only goers away, so we were able to get parked in about 10 minutes versus the 90 minute ordeal from a few weeks ago. After a quick snack, we started the march over to the gate to the concert venue.

We made it to our seats about halfway through the opener, Ray Lamontagne. I’d heard the name before, but wasn’t familiar with his music. Kinda interesting, him on acoustic guitar, a drummer, and a standup bass. Nothing remarkable, but nothing offensive either.  Have to admit Ray had a serious set of pipes; more than once it seemed that he could drown out all the instruments. Maybe I’ll check out some more of his stuff. After they wrapped up, I ducked out for some hydration (too crazy to try to duck out during the main event with all the DMB dancers.) I got back to my seat with plenty of time, even though it felt like I spent an eternity in line.

After the normal roadie tune ups and light checks, the guys walked into the back of the stage and from where we were sitting, we could see them doing their preshow pysche ups and hugs. They came ready to rock, they ran out on the stage before the house lights and music were cut; much to delight of the capacity crowd (though I haven’t heard if it was record setting, like that Tom Petty show). Here’s the play by play:

  1. The Stone
    Holy opener, Batman! Always like this song, especially live. Amazing energy for an opener. I like the way they crank up the volume as the intro builds and Stefan lays down some serious bass work.
  2. When The World Ends
    Nice, always good to hear the songs about getting freaky. The song has evolved a bit since the last time I heard it live; has a new section with just Dave on the guitar in the middle. Still love the ‘pull the plug’ ending, where they just stop and the whole stage goes dark immediately.
  3. Louisiana Bayou
    Hmm, the first song from the new album. Its ok, on the album, but the super-duper jam master version they kicked out at the show was unbelievable! Carter was putt’n a serious whupp’n on his kit, smiles all the while. Dave danced his way through pretty much the whole song.
  4. Crash
    A perennial crowd please. I never get tired of it.
  5. American Baby Intro
    Another song from the new album. Kinda strange on the album version with the machine gun sound effects, but very different life. They start it out pretty much like the album, and end it up about the same, but in the middle they sandwiched about 20 minutes of very enjoyable jamming. So, everybody is ready for American Baby
    next…
  6. Dream Girl
    Bzzt, a detour in Dream Girl. This probably my favorite song from the new batch; their live version only makes me dig it more.
  7. You Might Die Trying
    A little slow, but it was good have a break after jumping around for the last few songs.
  8. What Would You Say
    Oh man, a perfectly timed classic. Everybody jumped back to their feet for this one. Another song that I could hear over and over.
  9. Say Goodbye
    Hmm, drum solo intro, Leroi with flute in hand. Could it be? Yep, another classic! Have to wonder if the hippy couple in front of us was living out the one night stand theme of the song as they mauled each other.
  10. Granny
    Can’t go wrong with Granny. The crowd seemed to enjoy this song more than I remember.
  11. American Baby
    I could have really done without this song; not one of my favorites. But, I have to admit seeing it live wasn’t a torturous as I thought it would be.
  12. Out of My Hands
    Another good chill song. I’m dubbing it the official ‘pee-break’ song, as this when everybody seemed to make their pitstop.
  13. Hunger for the Great Light
    Oh, yeah! The most rocking song from the new album, was also the most rocking song at the concert. Amazing energy. Hmm, I though the lead guitar was electric on the album, but Dave did it acoustic; still awesome, either way.
  14. Steady As We Go
    Another chill out song, but it ramped up a bit at the end to get the crowd ready for…
  15. Two Step
    Dave introduced the song by saying, “When we were picking the songs to play for y’all tonight, we thought you might like this one. We haven’t played it in like 10 years… Nah, it’s probably not what you think…” I was intrigued, I thought we were gonna get a super duper golden oldy. Then plink, plink, plink of Boyd’s violin and the crowd explodes! Guess they meant they hadn’t played it at Darien Lake in 10 years. None-the-less, one of their best songs. Everybody gets a solo, including an extra long piano jam from Butch!
  16. Encore: Tripping Billies
    A quick thanks, then, “Blam!” straight into it. Hey, we’re not done yet. Awesome energy, everybody smiling the whole way through.
  17. Encore: Everyday
    Honey, honey, come and dance with me! (according to the crowd anyway) Love Boyd’s flanger violin effect and singing.

Was hoping for song #34 to cap off the evening in perfection (as its been recently reintroduced to the lineup) but I’m fine with ending up with Everyday. While the set list seems a little low in count for a DMB show, the entire gig still ran more than two and half hours. On a ten point scale, I’d say the show was a pretty solid 9.

Looking forward to picking up a bootleg of the show for the collection. There’s a bunch of stuff I’d like to hear again. Shouldn’t be too hard to track one down, I counted about 8
mic stands in the crowd.

So, all in all I’m pretty glad I went.

Update: Here’s the Rochester Democratic and Chronicles’ review.

Update 2: After some glitches with Sprint Vision, here are a few pictures from the show:

Yeah, the quality is nothing to write home about, but I like to chuckle that my $75 cell phone has a better quality digital camera in that my first actual digital camera (the one that I paid $400 almost 10 years ago and still have! Here’s a review for it…)

Update 3: Here’s a pointer to the bit torrent boot for the show.

Boilermaker 2k5

Hmm, before I forget the details, I think its time for a Boilermaker 2005 race update. For those outside of the running loop, the Boilermaker is the largest 15K road race in the US. Its held in my home town, Utica, NY. 2005 was the 28th running of the race and my 3rd.

The race begins at 8am, so that means an early 5:15 am start from my digs in North Syracuse. This year, we had a small caravan from the Syracuse running team meet up at the Thruway ramp to drive out together. I was rather surprised to see a couple of other carloads of folks meeting to drive out to the race also.

We parked at the finish line at about 6:35 am, and hiked up to the buses for a lift over to the starting line. Ironically, me being the only Utica native in the pack was the only one not to have their race packet yet. So I made a B-line over to the packet pick up (which I must compliment them is very well organized; no lines, no waiting).

Porta-potties on the other hand, were a different story. Even an hour before the race it took 5 minutes to get to one. Those lines only got worse as it got closer to race time. Fortunately, there’s a bit of forestry in the race staging area, for those folks without a modesty problem.

After schmoozing for a while and getting a few sips of water, it was time to line up. This year, they tried a new system to get folks to line up according to seed times (with <60 minutes seeds being verified). Based on your time, they gave you a colored coded bib number. The race organizers say it helped a lot with congestion, but it didn’t seem to change much back in the recreational runners section. I still passed a bunch of people that probably couldn’t run a 10 minute mile at their best inside the first mile on the course.

The weather was pretty nice. Sunny, low 70s, not humid, and a little breezy. I was a little worried that it would be too hot (I’m a heat pansy, I just wilt), but the breeze made it just about perfect. A few folks in our running crew were BM Neophytes (their term; BM still makes me giggle) and enjoyed seeing what 10,000 runners in the starting grid is like. They also enjoyed some of the folks who run the race in costume; we ran some of the race next to guys dressed as the Blues Brothers (they got a lot of “Good job, Elwood’s” throughout the race.) The Utica mayor gives a quick speech and then made his way down into the field (yep, he’s a runner!) and then a trumpet rendition of the National Anthem. Amazing to hear the crowd go absolutely quiet during the song, and let out an awesome cheer at the end!

Then, 5-4-3-2-1. BOOM! as they fire of the ceremonial cannon to kick things off. No great rush for our crew, we’re back in the 90 minute seeds. We’re not going anywhere for a while. After a minute or two, we start crawling a long. Then stop. Then crawl. Then stop. We’re all getting a big kick out of the fact that this might be the longest start to starting line time to date. Then we start to get a little depressed when at 4 minutes into the race we’re half way to the starting line and the announcer says that the leaders have just completed the first mile. Flash forward another 6 minutes, and we’re finally at the starting line. And another Boilermaker is underway!

  • Mile 1
    Always great crowd at the start! A perennial favorite of mine, is the guy holding the “Only 9.2 Miles to Go!” sign. Almost had an issue, somebody ahead of me dropped a shirt or something it almost tripped me up (its hard to keep an eye on the road with the street so jammed with runners.) When you make it to the top of the first little hill after the start, its amazing to see the river of humanity that stretches ahead as far as you can see.
  • Mile 2
    This mile starts with another perennial Boilermaker fixture, the leprechaun guy. He’s dressed up in full green suit and hat and doles out his invisible Irish luck as runs pass by. In this mile sites include, Proctor High School (formerly Utica Senior Academy) and Mohawk Valley Community College; two of my alma maters.
  • Mile 3
    Ah, a nice shady stretch. Good crowd support, love the cow bells! Another perenial is the guy pumping out the tunes on his baritone. The major hills begin.
  • Mile 4
    This mile is the major climb of the race. There’s a water stop right before the hill begins. I timed it just perfectly that all the folks handing out the cups were reloading when I arrived. I walked for about 3 steps and it was enough to get disconnected from my group. I could only watch them pull away as I was stuck in some slow traffic. This is the hill were a lot of the beginners take a walk (they just need to learn to move off to the side, and not stop running in the middle of the pack!). For some folks this hill is like Everest; they should try the Mountain Goat, where a hill like that is just a warm up!
  • Mile 5
    Zoom, the major downhill of the race. I’m always worried about going too fast at this point; can’t afford to shoot the proverbial wad this early in the race. Nice to see the golfers pulled off the sides of the course enjoying the runners flying by. The New Hartford (the next town over) Fire Department has their ladder truck hoisting a huge flag at the exit of the golf course. A quick high five from my mom and my first run through a sprinkler and its back to business.
  • Mile 6
    Geez, its another hill. This is the one they call heartbreak hill; many a racer who’s run out of steam chooses to hang it up at this point. Its not really steep, but its over a mile of steady climbing. Two memories for this mile: first there was a metal band playing (right before Utica College). They were dressed in the obligatory black and extra long hair. Man, their tune hit the spot and gave me enough energy to pound out the rest of the hill. Second, a saw a young woman with a very interesting shirt. It said, “Brain Surgery: $450,000, Boilermaker Entry: $30. Being able to run without seizures, priceless!”
  • Mile 7
    Polka Time! The West Utica crowd (Yorkville and New York Mills, too) break out the Polish pride and their especially cheery polka tunes. This year there were 3 different polka purveyors; but, unfortunately, there were no live polka bands, as there have been in previous years. Its fun to watch the other runners reactions to polka music, some cringe and some really get into it. I spotted another person in our crew and was able to catch up. Also in the same mile was a wedding dj, kicking out the Village People’s YMCA. Of course, the runners try their best to do the dance while running. I had to duck to avoid an elbow. I’m feeling pretty good at this point, so I pick it up a bit.
  • Mile 8
    The road narrows from a highway back down to a two lane street and cheering section really picks up, helping get the folks who might be struggling a bit press on. Another quick shower (a rather nice rig someone built that was affixed to a telephone pole) and I’m feeling good again. The mobile radio unit near the end of the mile is playing good time Lynyrd Skynyrd. I’m really looking forward to the party at the end, but I feel like I could run another 10 miles as long as I had this kind of crowd support.
  • Mile 9
    Phew, there’s a stretch where there’s no shade for about a quarter mile where I realized just how hot it was. Almost seemed like the breeze dropped out too. Grabbed a quick sip of water and felt good to begin the final assault. Unfortunately, this is where some folks had some problems. I saw one runner being wheeled away on a stretcher and another passed out on some grass. I thank my lucky stars that its not me. Speaking of lucky stars, the leprechaun guy from mile 2 is back again, doling out more of his irish luck.
  • The final .3
    The crowd on the sides of the road is a couple of people deep as the final stretch begins. Loads of “Almost There…” At this point every runner is equal, no matter if they’re young or old, fast or slow. Everybody gets the same cheers from the crowd. One more quick downhill then its flat to the finish. Seeing the finish line kicks me into high gear. I sale past a few folks and through the gate. The Brightroom folks actually snapped a decent finish line picture of me this year, I may buy it.

So, what about my time? 88:18. Wow! For me, that’s pretty fast. It’s 16 minutes better than my effort last year, but I didn’t train at all for last year due to that whole wedding thing. But, its still my fastest Boilermaker by 9 minutes. I would have liked to train more in the month before to get better at handling the heat, but work and circumstances made it kinda impractical.

Post race, we had a little glitch in our plan to reassemble our crew, but we eventually found each other and began to slow march to the party area. A couple of waters (including some fruity flavored water that I’d never heard of before) and some orange wedges and I was feeling pretty good again. Man, it was pretty crowded. The UticaOD reported there where about 38,000 people there; sure felt like it. After a little wait they had the awards ceremony. As expected the Kenyans cleaned up in both the mens and womens open divisions. The annoucer has his perennial fun with the guess the nationality game as he’s reading off the names. On the men’s side, 9 of the top ten where Kenyan and the 10th was Tanzanian.

Finally, my favorite parts of the whole Boilermaker experience: 1. Nation Anthem at the Party. Similar to the rendition at the start, the crowd respectibly quiets to a hush and goes crazy at the end. 2. Fireworks. Yep, fireworks at 10:30 am. You can’t seem ’em too well, but you can definitely hear ’em. Low and loud! 3. Fly-bys. I was nervous that they weren’t gonna do the fly-bys this year because in the past they’ve timed it so the F-16’s (from Hancock AFB in Syracuse) fly right in the last part of the National Anthem. But as the fireworks were wrapping up you could hear the low rumble in the distance and they zoomed over (almost low enough to touch it seemed). They were loud, but not as loud as I remembered. On their two additional passes, they came in perpendicular to the ground and rolled right over the crowd and kicked in the afterburners; there’s the ear splitting boom that I remember! Pure awesome. Fitting end to an amazing race.

Shoutouts to Larry (my idol, who makes me a better runner by just trying to keep up with him) and Leanne and Steve who both did great for their first time out. Hope we can all get together again for next year!

Cool Google Maps Hack

A while back, my pal Larry showed me a cool mapping site that lets you take out a virtual tape measure and measure distances arbitrarily. It really hit the spot for figuring out how far I’ve been running.

Today, via Make, I found a Google Maps hack called the Gmaps Pedometer.  Using the same awesome technology of Google maps, you can mark out your route it calculates distances automagically. The interface is a lot slicker than map24.com; Use a single click to center the map or drag to pan. Then just double click away to set waypoints.

Even better yet, you can generate your own links to routes you’ve mapped out previously. That’s a great feature. Here’s the route for my 10 mile out and about run.