Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Vox Acerbus Best Music of 2010

Melancholy is my mission statement.

I am often asked why I am so fixated on misery, and aside from the fact that I’ve had my share of it, the answer is simple. Sadness is real. It’s pure, it’s raw, and it’s universal. Songs of despair are preceded by sad, sometimes traumatic events, providing an underlying foundation of truth. They are written as a meager and usually futile attempt at redemption. They ask questions that won’t be answered, so an attempt at catharsis becomes nothing more than a dreary memory over time.

Love songs, conversely, are speculative. They rely on false ideals and empty promises. You can’t legitimately claim eternal love for someone. There is no such thing as “forever”, “always”, or “till the end of time”. You can’t move heaven and earth or dance among the stars, and you can’t deliver on a promise of “happily ever after”.

These notions, while quaint, are hollow gestures. The reality is that people and relationships and life spans are finite. It’s there today, but no amount of strategy or desire can change tomorrow from the total variable that it is. I prefer the brutal honesty of a forlorn song because I can believe it. I know it’s real, and since I can truly comprehend it, I become emotionally invested, and the hallmark of any good song is a personal attachment.

As always, the songs are culled purely from my personal iTunes library. I don’t consult any other “best of” lists or research the album charts. It’s my list, so it comes from my iPod. All of them have at least one lyric that stood out to make me include it here. A song can have a gorgeous melody or a stirring arrangement, but if the lyrics are pointless and inane, the song cannot stand on its own.

So now, without further delay and in no particular order, I present the Vox Acerbus Best Music of 2010.

1. “Northwestern Skies” by Tired Pony, from the album The Place We Ran From

“There’s no answers in the tempest . . . so just let it take you over”

Chaos theory is the measuring stick for the strength of the bond. Forget the serenity of sun, moon and stars – it’s the storm raging on the ground that determines future course.

2. "All To All" by Broken Social Scene, from the album Forgiveness Rock Records

"I've seen the gone too small, the lost of law, the almost made it . . ."

Ultimatums are the death knell of relationships, but are a savvy way of jumping ship when you know ahead of time that the other party won't acquiesce to the demand.

3. "Forgetting" by David Gray, from the album Foundling

"A wiping it clean, a minute Armageddon"

The hardest part of a dismal relationship is the lasting memory it leaves in its wake. Pain fades, but the recollection never fully dissipates.

4. "Heaven on Earth (The Things We Got to Do)" by Alphaville, from the album Catching Rays on Giant

"instead repeating history without a care how much we hurt"

It's going to crush your spirit, but you do it anyway. The only way to proceed is in denial of the potential consequences. Nice.

5. "Sycophant" by The Courteneers, from the album Falcon

"I'd rather entertain disdain from someone I love"

Perfection is unattainable, and the failure to accept that notion is the surest way of bringing it to fruition.

6. "Taxi Cab" by Vampire Weekend, from the album Contra

"Nostalgic for garbage, desperate for time"

One party's faults are inadmissible while the other's are argued ad infinitum. Sadly, this is often the default setting, and the dance continues long after the music has stopped because the familiarity and safety is better than any uncertain alternative.

7. "Coming Home to Me" by Patty Griffin, from the album Downtown Church

"When you're lost and you're found, and you're found and you're lost"

Confusion can be a healthy element if it's used to assess the relationship rather than question it. Facing "what if?" is necessary to avoid "what was".

8. "Basket Case" by Sara Bareilles, from the album Kaleidoscope Heart

"I don't say much, and it'll stay that way"

Introspection can be helpful. Or not.

9. "Like Rock and Roll and Radio" by Ray Lamontagne & The Pariah Dogs, from the album God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise

"Do you remember how you were before the sorrow?"

Simply stated, the past cannot sustain the future. A gradual descent into complacency is always fatal, even if it takes decades.

10. "History of Modern (Part 2)" by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, from the album History of Modern

". . . surrender to the rage . . ."

Anger is an inherent part of the human dynamic, and when channeled productively, I think it saves more relationships than it claims. It's the necessary opposite to harmony and they must co-exist.

11. "Sorrow" by The National, from the album High Violet"I live in a city sorrow built"

Sorrow, as a state of mind, should be celebrated, just as it is in this song. Some people prefer it and do what they can, medically and otherwise, to sustain it.

12. "Unspoken" by Hurts, from the album Happiness

"I'd rather be lonely than be by your side"

Once you've reached the breaking point, silence should prevail.

13. "Love Come (Piano Version)" by Sarah McLachlan, from the album Law of Illusions

"a dream of some kind of peace"

As the album name and cited lyric suggest, the bliss of love is illusory. This acoustic version captures that feeling better than the album version.

14. "The Chorus Girl" by Steven Page, from the album Page One

"A love song to make you choke"

The temptation will always be too strong to resist, but giving in to it won't always work out. Therein lies the rub.

15. "The Book of Love" by Peter Gabriel, from the album Scratch My Back

". . . is long and boring, no one can lift the damn thing"

This strings only cover of The Magnetic Fields lends itself to the delicate and beautiful nature of the subject matter. There are untold billions of editions of this book.

16. "Dead Hearts" by Stars, from the album The Five Ghosts

"It's hard to know that you still care"

This is a stoic and stunningly beautiful song, a retrospective of lost love and its lingering effects.

17. "What You Call Love" by Guster, from the album Easy Wonderful

"The violence was a source of strength"

Any port in a storm, or something like that.

18. "Ready to Start" by The Arcade Fire, from the album The Suburbs

"But I would rather be alone than pretend I feel alright"

This is a coming of age tale about casting aside all doubts and making the decision to commit to adulthood. Ready - begin.

I'm out-

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 58

Wow - another 3 day gap. I really need to start getting consistent and stringing together some days or this is never going to work.

At least the rest resulted in a fast pace tonight.

Time: 1:04:15

Distance: 17.42 miles

Avg. speed: 16.2 mph

Maximum speed: 18.2 mph

Music: The Courteeners - Falcon

Relevant lyric: "I'd rather entertain disdain"

Miles to March 2010 goal: 16.01

Days to March 2010 goal: 1


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 24:19:41

Distance: 344.11 miles

Avg. speed: 14.14 mph


No Gullet Report. In fact, the Gullet Report was a stupid idea. I am nowhere near organized enough to pull off something like that. I'll just promise to eat less crap instead.

I'm out-

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 54

Its been a while since I rode on consecutive days, and the difference between today and yesterday was quite evident. The pace was still quick, but I honestly don't know if I had another 7+ miles in me like I did last night. Simply put, I was starting to force it, and that's never a good thing. Reason prevailed, and I stopped once I hit "respectable" status. Again, a clear sign that I am getting away from the "all or nothing" mentality and using some common sense.

Time: 1:00:20

Distance: 15.5 miles

Avg. speed: 15.3 mph

Max. speed: 23.0 mph

Music: The Killers - Live From The Royal Albert Hall

Relevant lyric: ". . . decades disappear like sinking ships, but we persevere . . ."

Miles to March 2010 goal: 33.43

Days to March 2010 goal: 5


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 23:15:26

Distance: 326.69 miles

Avg. speed: 14.05 mph


This marks the first time my average speed has crept over 14 mph, so obviously I am getting faster as I go along. Thank you, Dr. Science. As far as a measurable stat goes, that one is pretty key when it comes to cycling.

Again, no Gullet Report, because even though it's after 3 PM, I haven't eaten anything yet, and since I'm diabetic, I should go go eat something before I fall over.

I'm out-

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 53

Barenaked Ladies said it best - "it's been one week since I . . ."

Speaking of Barenaked Ladies, their new album "All in Good Time" is very good, and I highly recommend it.

But I digress . . .

I knew there would be some off days with my vacation and work travel over the last week, but I was really hoping to sneak in a ride or two. Alas, it wasn't to be, and even though I'm a little bummed out, it isn't the kind of thing that would have derailed previous efforts. Before now, it would have been a total momentum killer, and the Experiment would have been over. Not anymore. Shrug it off and get back on, and that's what I did tonight. It's all about realistic goals and expectations, and I have managed to keep those in perspective.

Time: 1:28:52

Distance: 22.68 miles

Avg. speed: 15.3 mph

Max. speed: 19.7 mph

Music: Barenaked Ladies - All in Good Time and Barenaked Ladies - Barenaked Ladies Are Me

Relevant lyric: "I'm a walking advertisement for everything I never meant to be"

Miles to March 2010 goal: 48.93

Days to March 2010 goal: 6

To take 8 days off and be able to jump and crank out a pretty fast 22+ miles is astounding to me, and it solidifies my feeling that I am turning the corner on being physically fit again.


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 22:15:06

Distance: 311.19 miles

Avg. speed: 13.98 mph


No Gullet Report report right now - I haven't had dinner yet. And in case I don't come back and edit this post, I will disclose that I stopped at Wendy's and had a spicy chicken sandwich and chili (instead of fries - it's all about choices) for lunch, with a Dr. Pepper, because who doesn't love a Dr. Pepper every now and then?

An added bonus - I thought I had 86+ miles to go to reach goal, but it was only 71+. Nice. That takes a little of the pressure off.

I'm out-

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 44

Last night took a lot out of me, but I think the worst of my illness is over. I managed some good distance at a respectable albeit slower pace, and I was able to do it without coughing up a lung membrane or something. Nice.

Time: 1:03:49

Distance: 15.28 miles

Avg. speed: 14.3 mph

Max speed: 22.6 mph

Music: Greg Laswell - Take A Bow

Relevant lyric: ". . . go ahead and take everything . . ."

Miles to March 2010 goal: 71.61

Days to March 2010 goal: 15


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 20:46:14

Distance: 288.51 miles

Avg. speed: 13.89 mph



8 AM coffee

12 PM general tso's chicken, fried rice, Coke

7 PM 20 oz Gatorade G2 (during ride)

8 PM corned beef on rye, iced tea

The next ride should put me over 300 miles. It would be cool to hit goal this weekend because I travel for work next week, but that's not too realistic. I'll give it a shot though - I continue to amaze myself during these last few weeks.

I'm out-

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 43

My cold has rendered me useless for the last 3 days, but I am an idiot, so tonight I got on the bike and hammered out miles like a fool.

I would have been happy with 10 miles at any pace, but once I got started, sheer stubborn stupidity took over and I started cranking.

Time: 57:15

Distance: 15.04 miles

Avg. speed: 15.7 mph

Max. speed: 18.4 mph

Music: Howard Jones - Best of Howard Jones

Relevant lyric: "This is an answer to every question, this is a place to begin."

Miles to March 2010 goal: 86.89

Days to March 2010 goal: 16


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 19:42:25

Distance: 273.23 miles

Avg. speed: 13.86 mph



8:00 AM coffee

11:45 AM BBQ chicken salad, iced tea

3:00 PM Diet Vernors

5:30 PM 20 oz Gatorade G2 (during ride)

7:30 PM pizza, bread sticks, & beer

All evil food and beverage will be posted in red to call attention my failures.

It's halfway through the month and I am almost 20 miles ahead of pace to make the goal of 210 miles for the month, and that's with rampant sickness. Not too shabby.

I'm out-

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 41

Today was miserable. My sinus issues have developed into a cold, and I struggled to barely make it as far as I did. But dammit - I rode, a good sign that this is developing into a commitment instead of a hope that it continues.

Time: 48:57

Distance: 11.32 miles

Avg. speed: 13.8 mph

Max. speed: 27.3 mph

Music: We Were Promised Jetpacks - These Four Walls

Miles to March 2010 goal: 101.93

Days to March 2010 goal: 18


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 18:45:10

Distance: 258.19 miles

Avg. speed: 13.77 mph


No Gullet Report today. As bad as I feel, I won't eat much anyway.


I'm out-

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 39

Two days in a row? Yes. You know how I can tell? My knees feel like they took a pipe like Nancy Kerrigan. Damn you, Jeff Gillooly.

Other than that, today was a great day. The ride was good, the Gullet Report contains no embarassing items, the new music I listened to in the saddle was one of the best albums I've ever heard, and the scale yielded favorable results.

Time: 59:18

Distance: 15.13 miles

Avg. speed: 15.3 mph

Max. speed: 18.5 mph

Music: The Courteeners - Falcon

Relevant lyric: "I think it's time for me . . . to take over the world"

Miles to March 2010 goal: 113.25

Days to March 2010 goal: 20


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 17:56:13

Distance: 246.87 miles

Avg. speed: 13.76 mph



9 AM coffee

1:30 PM footlong Veggie Delite, iced tea

4:30 PM 32 oz Gatorade G2 (during ride)

6:00 PM coffee, steak, scrambled eggs, hash browns, wheat toast

And finally, the results from the new badass high-tech scale. Remember, the old scale had me 4 pounds lighter than the new one, but it did register a 4 pound loss, and dammit, I'm keeping them.

Previous weight: 226.4 lbs

Current weight: 222.4 pounds

Cumulative weight loss: 8 pounds

I'll take 8 pounds in 39 days, because I think it will ultimately be sustainable.

To quote Ice Cube - today was a good day.

I'm out-

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 38

Sunday, I wrote that I need to string more consecutive days together and get off the every other day schedule I've worked myself into. And then I took 2 days off. No excuses - just stating the obvious - but I really do need to get my shit together. I think the daily journals for the Gullet Report will help pull all of this together.

And then tonight I screwed up my bike computer and it measured everything in kilometers. I lack focus. I lack discipline. I need Mr. Miyagi.

Time: 1:16:34

Distance: 18.29 miles

Avg. speed: 14.29 mph

Max. speed: 14.4 mph

Music: Nine Inch Nails - And All That Could Have Been

Relevant lyric: "Hey pig . . . yeah you"

Miles to March 2010 goal: 128.38

Days to March 2010 goal: 21


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 16:56:55

Miles: 231.74 miles

Avg. speed: 13.67 mph


Other than that, I got nothin'.

I'm out-

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Introducing "The Gullet Report"

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 is going great, at least the actual bike riding part anyway. However, despite my best intentions, I can’t get on track with the other half of the weight loss equation – my diet.

Essentially, I eat a lot of crappy food and drink a lot of crappy beverage. Fast food, sodas (although I have managed to curtail the beast called Mt. Dew by a respectable margin), ice cream, carbs, enriched flour, gas station hot dogs, high fructose corn syrup – you name it. If it’s been blacklisted by some publication somewhere, I eat it.

I am flabbergasted (great word) that I can just flip an internal switch and start cranking out miles, but I can’t reel in my obviously poor dietary choices. So, in the time-honored method of Thoreau and Emerson, I took to time to ponder the situation, and I arrived at a rather stark and simple solution: accountability.

What is it I’m doing with the bike that I’m not doing with the refrigerator? After every ride, I proudly post the results on this blog, whereas after every snack or meal, there is at least some part of it, if not all of it that I wish I didn’t eat. I tout my successes, but I hide my failures. I’m a hypocrite!

The whole reason I decided to publicize the bike progress on this blog was accountability. Good or bad, the world (or at least the handful of people who actually read it) will know how long I rode and how far I went. What they won’t know is that I ate a #6 from Wendy’s and a pint of ice cream when I got off the bike.

Before all this, I was just a fat bastard. Now, I’m a fat bastard who can ride 20 miles pretty fast on his bike. It’s a vicious (albeit tasty) circle. I have no idea how many calories I take in, or even how many I burn during a ride, so who the hell knows if I am burning more than I am consuming?

So, today I announce a new feature to the Experiment called “The Gullet Report”, a daily recap of everything I shoved into my pie hole that day. At the risk of making my blog entries look like a screen shot of CNN, it must be done.

Do I want to admit a trip to the vending machine for a cherry-cheese Danish? Followed by a bucket sized mocha caramel from Biggby Coffee? Hell no. So, if I know I have to fess up later, the likelihood of doing so is greatly diminished or perhaps even eliminated entirely. Vain, yet effective.

I have managed to lose a few pounds, and I did buy new pants a size smaller and took some in to my tailor to get taken in, so this isn’t all for naught. But, it should be a lot more given the physical effort I’ve put in so far. After I turned 40, I vowed to lose 40 pounds by my next birthday in December, and as I have proven, physical exercise alone is not enough.

The Gullet Report will debut tomorrow, because I have already eaten too much crap today that I didn’t write down. I will keep a detailed journal of everything I eat and drink, and you can cheer me or jeer me as you see fit.

I’m out-

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 35

First, a clarification from the post of Day 33. I originally thought Karen had a morning appointment and that I would ride in the morning while she was gone. Well, she didn't, so I didn't, and there it is.

And now, Day 35. I am pleased about tonight's ride for 2 reasons: the distance, and more importantly, the time. I must be improving, because I am getting better at maintaining a higher average speed for farther and farther distances.

Time: 1:18:39

Distance: 20.11 miles

Avg. speed: 15.3 mph

Max. speed: 19.3 mph

Music: Thompson Twins - Into the Gap (Deluxe Edition)

Relevant lyric: " . . . no rest for the wicked, and we're all too scared to stop . . ."

Miles to March 2010 goal: 146.67

Days to March 2010 goal: 24


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 15:40:21

Distance: 213.45 miles

Avg. speed: 13.62 mph


I have crossed the 200 mile threshold, and my ass is finally used to sitting in that tiny seat. That's no joke - it is seriously a quite painful process and I am beyond relieved that it's over. It's bad enough to be a motivation to keep riding so I don't have to do it again.

I have been operating on just about an every other day schedule, so the next step is to string some consecutive days together. I've done this the right way so far by keeping early expectations realistic, and I'm happy with the steady progression tactic I've used.

I'm out-

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 33

There was a time where the last thing I would do on a Friday night is exercise, especially on a gorgeous day/night after a cold, snowy February. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I am not going to kick 40's ass sitting on a bar stool.

So, after a sensible dinner of flank steak and salad, I jumped on to see what I could muster, because I haven't ridden right after a meal yet in this Experiment. I've always eaten after the ride. Suffice it to say, it worked out well. Nice distance, nice pace - nice ride.

Time: 59:43

Distance: 15.06 miles

Avg. speed: 15.1 mph

Max. speed: 25.6 mph

Music: Editors - In This Light and On This Evening and We Were Promised Jetpacks - These Four Walls

Relevant lyric: "right foot, followed by a left foot"

Miles to March 2010 goal: 166.78

Days to March 2010 goal: 26


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 14:21:42

Distance: 193.34 miles

Avg. speed: 13.45 mph


I am less than 7 miles away from 200 thus far, and while that is very cool, I am more focused on the monthly goal. If I make that, the total mileage numbers will take care of themselves.

Now I get to see how my recovery time is improving, because my next ride is less than 10 hours away. Say good night, Alice.

I'm out-

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 31

Awesome ride tonight! I should have stuck it out a couple more miles to get the big number, but it was time for dinner, and my beloved Vancouver Canucks are on TV tonight against the despised Detroit Redwings.

Even an hour+ into the ride, I wasn't breathing hard and my legs were just starting to get a little sore. I've felt that my progress had flattened out a little bit, so hopefully that is a good sign. The goal was a little longer ride and a little slower pace, and it worked out well.

Time: 1:17:18

Distance: 18.08 miles

Avg. speed: 14.0 mph

Max. speed: 16.9 mph

Music: Tool - 10,000 Days

Relevant lyric: ". . . no obvious physical trauma, vitals are stable . . ."

Miles to March 2010 goal: 181.84

Days to March 2010 goal: 28


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 13:21:59

Distance: 178.28 miles

Avg. speed: 13.33 mph


The bike is getting noisy, so some maintenance is in order for this weekend. The chain just needs a little lubricant, is all. Ain't no thang.

I'm out-

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 29

Back in the saddle after a 4 day hiatus. No excuses - I let life get in the way and didn't manage this project the right way. I managed to make it almost 4 weeks before I lost the handle for a few days, but 4 day breaks just can't happen. It's a momentum killer, and now I have ground to make up.

The only "plus" was that some fresh legs allowed me to tear off a rather quick ride, but I need to further and longer to meet the goal for March (more on that below).

Time: 37:30

Miles: 10.08 miles

Avg. speed: 16.1 mph

Max. speed: 23.4 mph

Music: Ministry - The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste

Relevant lyric: "it kicks you in the face and sucks you dry"


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 12:04:41

Miles: 160.20 miles

Avg. speed: 13.26 mph


The goal for March is 210 miles. That's 60 miles more than February and only 3 more days to do it, so I have some long rides ahead of me. It's like that Jerry Reed song from Smokey & The Bandit - "We've got a long way to go, and a short time to get there . . ."

Perhaps if Jackie Gleason was behind me saying "sumbitch", it would be a little easier.

I'm out-

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 24

Day 24 is the day I show my complete and utter ignorance.

For some unknown reason, I decided to check the air pressure in the tires before I rode today. The rear tire - the one that propels the trainer and gets 100% of the resistance - was at 40 psi. The recommended minimum is 115 psi. So, for who knows how long, I have been training on what amounts to a FLAT TIRE.

I am an idiot savant, without the savant part.

After inflating both tires to 120 psi, the difference in results is simply ridiculous.

Time: 38:58

Distance: 10.07 miles

Avg. speed: 15.5 mph

Max speed: 25.5 mph

Music: The National - Boxer

Relevant lyric: "you're dumbstruck, baby . . . racing like a pro now"

That's a full 2.5 mph more than I've been averaging, an increase of about 20%!


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 11:27:11

Miles: 150.12 miles

Avg. speed: 13.11 mph


Even though I am happy that I pushed the cumulative total past 150 miles today, I can't help but wonder how many miles I've left on the table because of my stupidity. I would guess another 15-20 miles easily, and probably more. And the sad part is that I know better. I mean, they were 120 psi back on January 31 when I set this whole thing up, but I don't know why I thought they would just magically stay there.

Today's relevant lyric could not be more prophetic (or pathetic, depending on how you look at it).

If Bill Maher were here, he'd say "NEW RULE: Check the air pressure before every ride, because air in the tires is a good thing, but air in your head is not."

I'm out (and ignorant) -

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cubicle Tunes - Week of February 23, 2010

2010 is already shaping up to be a pretty great year for music. It's not even March, and I already have 5 or 6 legitimate contenders for the Vox Acerbus Best Music of 2010. That doesn't even take into account the multiple releases I have spotted on the horizon. It could be the first multi-volume offering since 2006.

Dig these:

Vampire Weekend - Contra (2010)

I didn't give their self-titled debut much of a listen, but I become a huge fan after the inclusion of "Ottoman" on the soundtrack for the movie Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. Funny how one song can make you a believer. My runaway favorites here are "Taxi Cab", which features a very unique string arrangement and a constant melodic line trickling from the piano, and "Run", which unlike the other tracks, is driven by intricate synth programming.

Peter Gabriel - Scratch My Back (2010)

80's and world music icon Peter Gabriel returns with a collection of covers in a very unique way. The complete lack of drums and guitars creates ethereal arrangements of piano and orchestra, and turns some formerly bright pop songs into darker excursions. Gabriel covers acts such as Neil Young, Talking Heads, David Bowie and Arcade Fire among others, but the standouts here are Paul Simon's "Boy in the Bubble" and Bon Iver's "Flume". This one is best reserved for some dedicated, uninterrupted listening.

Shout Out Louds - Work (2010)

The Swedish group Shout Out Louds were featured in the Vox Acerbus Best of 2007 with a bouncy number called "Your Parents Living Room", full of energy and sound and a Cure/Robert Smith-ish vocal delivery. Three years later, this record is much more subdued and stripped down, allowing the pop essence of the band to come through with songs of longing, sadness, and nostalgia. My favorites are "Four by Four" and "Play the Game", but the album is solid throughout.

Editors - In This Light and On This Evening (2009)

I was drawn to this record by the name alone, and it quickly ascended in the play count of my iPod. Even though the album is full of sweeping synth programming, it maintains a very raw quality. The goal in the studio was "to give the machines a human feel", and by not polishing every song into submission, they've done just that. My favorites include "Papillon" (included on the Vox Acerbus Best of 2009), "Bricks and Mortar", and "The Boxer". This album was a complete and radical departure from the sound of the previous album "An End Has A Start", which reached number one in England. For lack of a more elegant way to say it, that takes huge balls.

We Were Promised Jetpacks - These Four Walls (2009)

I didn't find out about this Scottish band until my brother turned me onto them very late last year, or else they would have been represented on my annual collection. They have a very intense, emotional quality to them, and aren't afraid to let their songs build and maybe even go a step too far, because face it - sometimes emotions do that despite our best intentions. I like to think of them as similar to Snow Patrol, but more like Snow Patrol getting punched in the face so they are right and pissed off. My favorites are the opener, "It's Thunder and It's Lightning", "Conductor", the epic "Keeping Warm", and "Moving Clocks Run Slow".

I'm out-

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 22

Day 21 was an off day. I only needed about 3 miles to get 50 for the week, but I put foolish pride aside and listened to the pain instead. Recovery was necessary!

Today I caught myself laughing to myself (don't judge me) because I was thinking I would do a "quick 10". Who the hell do I think I am? 3 weeks ago I couldn't even do 10, and now I'm talking smack about it.

It was a pretty quick 10, but that's beside the point. I can't get cocky or complacent, because it's all too easy to fall back into bad habits.

Time: 43:33

Distance: 10.02 miles

Avg. speed: 13.8 mph

Max. speed: 23.5 mph

Music: Ministry - The Land of Rape and Honey

Relevant lyric: "We go around in circles . . . retaliate"


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 10:48:13

Distance: 140.05 miles

Avg. speed: 12.96 mph


Over 3 weeks into the Experiment and other than cutting out a LOT of soda, I still eat a lot of crap, so the next phase will be to eliminate that. I think I've been successful by wading into the water instead of diving in, so it's a good plan.

Also, I did go and buy a pretty high tech scale last night. And it says I'm heavier now than I was three weeks ago. I trust the new one, though - the one I had was pretty cheap and probably not very reliable. So, I have a baseline now, and I am going to give it a week to see where I am, and when I know, you'll know.

I'm out-

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 20

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the goal for today was 20 miles. I questioned that bravado all night after I posted it. I mean, the farthest I've gone so far is 15 miles, and that was after two days of rest. Now I was planning 20 miles after a pretty fast 10 miles just the night before. Obviously, wisdom is not one of my more prominent qualities.

I wish I could say it was motivated by some creative impulse to do 20 miles on the 20th day of the Experiment, but honestly, it was motivated by the fact that I only had 23 miles in for the week, and it was already Friday. After making the 50 mile goal last week, it would be a shame if I took a big step backwards. Wisdom be damned - I went for it.

Time: 1:56:50

Distance: 24.02 miles

Avg. speed: 12.3 mph

Max. speed: 19.1 mph

Music: Vampire Weekend - Contra, Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend, Nik Kershaw - The Riddle

Relevant lyric: "I never want to see you again"


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 10:04:40

Distance: 130.03

Avg. speed: 12.91 mph


As cool as this is, I still need about 3 miles to hit 50 for the week. I may or may not jump on for a few miles tomorrow - it all depends on how my legs feel.

I am ecstatic over the progress I've made in the last few weeks, and I hope it continues. I know I am due for a weight update, but I have been planning to buy a good scale and haven't done so yet. I need to get on that - literally.

Always end a post with a bad pun.

I'm out-

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 19

I didn't want to go too far or too fast today, because I am foolishly thinking about 20 miles on Day 20, but then I did it anyway. The distance itself wasn't excessive, but the average speed was pretty high, meaning I had sustained higher speeds that zap a lot of strength and create a lot of next day soreness.

A word about average speed and fluid resistance trainers - while 13.7 mph may not seem all that fast, when you combine it with the resistance, it's a fairly intense workout. There is no coasting on one of these things - once you stop pedaling, the back wheel stops in about 1/2 of a revolution. Basically, it fights you the whole way, and the faster you go, the harder it is to push.

Time: 45:02

Distance: 10.11 miles

Avg. speed: 13.7 mph

Max speed: 25.0 mph

Music: Cause & Effect - Another Minute

Relevant lyric: "Bare your soul, you'll never learn"


Time: 8:07:50

Distance: 106.01 miles

Avg. speed: 13.03 mph


So, the goal for tomorrow is 20 miles, and I will have to go slow to get it. I'll be happy with anything over an average of 10 mph. Stay tuned . . .

I'm out-

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cubicle Tunes - Week of February 16, 2010

Today marks the first installment of Cubicle Tunes since June 17, 2008.

The way I figure it, if I’m back on the bike, then I need to be back on the keyboard as well.

Writing is enjoyable and somewhat cathartic for me, and I can’t fathom how or why I have only written about my greatest passion – music – twice in the last 20+ months (those writings being the annual best music collection liner notes).

Here’s a quick refresher. I spend a lot of time in a cubicle, and during those hours, my iPod fills the dull silence with aural pleasantries. How do you think I compile the annual best music collection? That research goes on all year long, and I make notes of lyrics that catch my ear or songs that stand out for whatever reason.

These are the albums that will grace the triumphant return of my musical musings.

Ellis Paul – The Day After Everything Changed (2010)

Paul returns to contemporary folk form after the children-themed album “The Dragonfly Races” of 2007. This album is a markedly different offering and features Paul in more uptempo full band arrangements. A lot of people hate it when an artist breaks their mould, but I appreciate the evolution of an artist. Favorites here include the title track, “Lights of Vegas”, and the opener, “Annalee”.

Patty Griffin – Downtown Church (2010)

Recorded in a church in downtown Nashville (hence the title – duh), the album is a collection of gospel inspired songs, only 2 of which were written by Griffin herself. Admittedly, I wasn’t excited at the prospect of a gospel album, but when the opening lyrics were “People steal, they cheat and lie”, well, we here at Vox Acerbus were right on board. Favorites include “Little Fire”, “Coming Home to Me”, and “Waiting for My Child”. Griffin’s voice dominates this record, and trust me – that’s a good thing.

The Swell Season – Strict Joy (2009)

The Swell Season is none other than Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the duo who starred in and recorded the gorgeous soundtrack for the movie “Once” back in 2006. This album branches out a little further, featuring some mid-tempo numbers and some bigger instrumentation, but the underlying beauty remains. The deluxe edition features 14 live tracks from various albums, and the live version of the Oscar-nominated “Falling Slowly” will burn itself into your soul.

Owl City – Ocean Eyes (2009)

Although I have gravitated into the singer-songwriter genre over the last several years, I am still a big fan of synth based music, and simply stated, I love this record. I first heard “Fireflies” on Radio Disney (XM 115) of all places, and have been transfixed by it ever since. Favorites include “Vanilla Twilight” and “Tidal Wave”. It’s a rare occurrence when such a mainstream record makes this forum, so savor the flavor, because it may not happen again for a long time.

10,000 Maniacs – Our Time in Eden (1992)

This was the last studio album to feature vocalist Natalie Merchant, and that’s a damn shame. Merchant and the band both continued on, and for Merchant, with some degree of success, but this was the apex for both of them. “Jezebel” is on my all-time favorites list, and other highlights include “If You Intend” and “How You’ve Grown”. To hear how completely talented and flawless this band really was, I highly endorse the “MTV Unplugged” live set from 1993.

I'm out-

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 17

OK - first things first. As I mentioned in my last post, Monday (Day 15) was an off day after struggling on Sunday to get the measly 6 miles I needed to hit 50 for the week.

Yesterday (Day 16) turned into an off day after Alex's diving meet ran long and I got home pretty late. So, I am behind for the week, and I hope I can make it up.

That being said, here is tonight's recap.

Time: 1:00:11

Distance: 13.11 miles

Avg. speed: 13.0 mph

Max. speed: 22.9 mph

Music: The Verve Pipe - Underneath and Vertical Horizon - Go

Relevant lyric: "It's not pretty underneath"


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 7:22:48

Distance: 95.9

Avg. speed: 12.99 mph


I am only 4.1 miles away from 100 miles. I did not anticipate that kind of mileage this quickly after such a long hiatus. I am going to increase my protein intake to help my muscles recover and see if I can put in these longer sessions more often. I shouldn't need so much recovery time or hurt so much after a longer ride, at least not 2 1/2 weeks into the Experiment.

Learn by doing.

I'm out-

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 14

Happy Valentine's Day, and what better way to celebrate the holiday of hearts by riding your bike in an effort to avoid a myocardial infarction.

Today was short and sweet. I only needed 5.9 miles to make my goal of 50 for the week. To be honest, I don't think I could have gone much more than that today. It was my third consecutive day, and I rode this morning following a semi-intense ride last night. As of now, I will celebrate President's Day tomorrow by not getting in the saddle.

Time: 28:39

Distance: 6.06 miles

Avg. speed: 12.7 mph

Max speed: 20.5 mph

Music: Perfect Circle - aMotion

Relevant lyric: "Difficult not to feel a little bit disappointed"


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 6:22:37

Distance: 82.79 miles


I bought a new pair of jeans today and they were a size smaller than the ones I've been wearing. That's a small affirmation, but I'll take it.

Enjoy the holiday.

I'm out-

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 13

My legs were definitely sore this morning. Before I rode this afternoon, I consulted with my beautiful fiancee Karen, who also happens to be a certified clinical massage therapist. She found a few knots (I'm sure there is a more technical term) and massaged them, and then she helped me stretch my quadriceps. The difference was amazing. I was almost 30 minutes into the ride before the pain started to set in, and as a result, I was able to get in a pretty respectable ride.

Time: 48:35

Distance: 11.10 miles

Avg. speed: 13.6 mph

Max speed: 23.8 mph

Music: Audioslave - Revelations

Relevant lyric: "I am such a wreck, I am such a mess"


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 5:53:58

Distance: 76.73 miles


This leaves me a scant 5.9 miles from my goal of 50 miles for the week, so it looks like I won't be taking Valentine's Day off.

I'm out-

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 12

Day 11 was an off day, but I did walk 1.16 miles at work. Something is better than nothing.

So, after an off day, my legs felt good and I was ready to ride. I jumped on and settled into a brisk, steady pace. But something wasn't right. I had only been going for about 10-12 minutes and my legs were aching something hurtful. I checked the stats on the onboard computer and zoinks! I was clipping along at 15 mph!

Wrong gear!

I didn't notice at the start because I had the fresh legs, but it didn't take long to make me look like a fool.

I knew I was screwed, so I decided to turn it into a mini time trial, and see if I could tough it out for 30 minutes. I managed, but I am spent.

Time: 30:07

Distance: 7.23 miles

Avg. speed: 14.6 mph

Max. speed: 24.5

Music: Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine

Relevant lyric: "Just a fading fucking reminder of who I used to be"


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 5:05:23

Miles: 65.63 miles


I also clipped off 2.32 miles walking at work, so that may have had something to do with the early ass kicking. Still working on that whole "balance" thing . . .

I'm out-

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 10

Day 10 of the Experiment was a double bonus.

I took a snow day from work today, so I had a little extra time on my hands. And, since yesterday was an off day, I had a little extra energy as well. As I descended the basement steps, I wondered if I could squeeze out 15 miles. The result:

Time: 1:13:32

Distance: 15.15 miles

Avg. speed: 12.3 mph

Max. speed: 23.5 mph

Music: Book of Love - Lullaby and Erasure - Erasure

Relevant lyric: "Just look at the state of you . . ."


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 4:35:16

Distance: 58.4 miles


I also stepped on the scale again, and the results were encouraging.

Previous weight: 222 lbs

Current weight: 218 lbs

That 4 pound drop is all sweat equity too, because other than cutting out sodas, I'm still eating the same kind of crap I was before. And since I haven't eaten yet today, I am probably going to eat some crap tonight as well. All in due time . . .

I am halfway to my goal of 50 miles this week and have 4 more days to reach it. Things are going well.

I'm out-

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 8

Longer. Faster. Farther.

Today was a great session, although the muscle fatigue was pretty pronounced. I started out strong, and then the pain set in and lingered between the 10 and 20 minute marks. It eventually faded, and I finished the last 25 minutes pretty well. Hopefully it's a sign of improvement that I was able to push through it.

Time: 48:30

Distance: 10.63 miles

Avg. speed: 13.1 mph

Max. speed: 25.1 mph

Music: Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War

Relevant lyric: "Sorry to be so heavy, but heavy is the cost"


Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 3:21:40

Distance: 43.25 miles


Week 2 is off to a great start. Day 9 is likely an off day because Alex has another diving meet pretty far from home and the weather report is not promising, but you never know . . .

I'm out-

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 7

What a difference a day makes. I felt great on the bike today. In fact, the only real reason I stopped was because I couldn't sit in the saddle anymore. Yes - my ass hurt. Fat ass - skinny bike seat. I'll let you figure it out. It was by far the longest and farthest ride of the experiment, and hopefully it is a sign of things to come.

Time: 49:34

Distance: 10.13 miles

Avg. speed: 12.2 mph

Max. speed: 24.7 mph

Music: Owl City - Maybe I'm Dreaming

Relevant lyric: "It's cheap transportation to a new destination"

Cumulative Experiment stats:

Time: 2:33:10

Distance: 32.62 miles


After week 1, I am pretty happy overall, and I look forward the mileage numbers increasing.

I'm out-

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 5

I fully intended on riding tonight, but ultimately decided that I had to listen to the screams of agony coming from my quadriceps. I have to get out of the mindset that rest is a bad thing.

I like the idea of a two-pronged attack (walking and riding), but I need to figure out the right mix. I cranked out some great distance walking today, but then I nixed the ride. Maybe I have to decide each day where the bulk of the effort is going to go and back off on the other. Either that, or I just need to keep hammering and wait it out until I am actually in shape again.

Pedometer count: 10,500

Another nice round number. I should start playing the lotto.

Day 6 is a scheduled off day. See you Sunday.

I'm out-

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 4

Day 4 was a semi-scheduled day off from the bike (Alex had a diving meet tonight that was a scant 90 miles from my condo), but I did manage to get in some decent distance in the walking department.

Pedometer count: 11,149

I got a long, brisk walk in at lunch (4828 steps), and another decent one (2578) later in the afternoon.

As I was saying yesterday, it's hard to balance the need to rest and recover with the need to maintain focus and momentum, but I have to be sensible. Riding in the morning instead of the evening was possible, but not feasible. It would have been less than 10 hours between rides, and I was already pushing it physically. I like the fact that I was able to replace one exercise (biking) with additional work in another (walking), and I am happy with my overall effort so far.

Like Depeche Mode said over 25 years ago - get the balance right. 25 years? Damn.

Cumulative stats have been compiled and will be included in tomorrow's blog post.

I'm out-

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 3

Stubborn pride is all that got me through tonight, because this one kicked my ass.

Maybe I should have taken a night off instead of forcing the issue, but after 2 years (more than that, really) of taking nights off, I am afraid I will lose this momentum if I do that.

Suck it up, buttercup. What do we love? PAIN!

Time: 36:08

Distance: 7.77 miles

Avg. speed: 12.9 mph

Max. speed: 18.3 mph

Music: Nik Kershaw - You've Got to Laugh

Relevant lyric: "That's the limit, that's enough"

I did manage to squeeze in a few steps today as well. Not great, but better than none, and more than I ever used to do.

Pedometer count: 7873

And, as promised, I stepped on the scale this morning. I was naked. I bought it several years ago and it's not even digital, but it will suffice until I get one of those high tech baddies that measure you down to the ounce.

Weight: 222 lbs

Weight will be more of a weekly stat. Sadly, 222 is actually the lightest I've been in a while. I am Fat Bastard.

Tomorrow I will begin calculating cumulative stats and averages, because how cool will it be to look at this a few months from now and see a big ass number for total miles?

I'm out-

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 2

A little bit slower today, but also a little longer and a little farther. Given that my legs were sore all day from last night's ride, I'll take it.

Time: 35:02

Distance: 7.53 miles

Avg. speed: 12.7 mph

Music: Vox Acerbus Best of 2009

Pedometer count: 6393

I had 2 long staff meetings today so I didn't walk during the breaks, but that was probably a good thing. I'm sure I couldn't have gone as long or as far as I did on the bike tonight if I had.

Tomorrow morning I will weigh myself and I'll start posting that as a stat as well. It's embarrassing, but sometimes that's what it takes. A little humiliation goes a long way.

I'm out-

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Day 1

And so it begins.

I didn't start off all crazy - I wanted to be able to walk tomorrow, and it's been a good 20 months since I've been on a bike. But, I may have already overdone it, because walking back up the stairs was an adventure. We'll see how bad it is in the morning when I try to get out of bed.

Time: 32:26

Distance: 7.19 miles

Avg. speed: 13.3 mph

Music: Ellis Paul - Translucent Soul

Relevant lyric: "I'm letting go because holding on's killing me . . ."

It probably didn't help that I also walked about 2 miles during my work breaks today.

Pedometer count: 10,000

Yes - exactly 10,000, the recommended daily allowance. I couldn't hit that bulls eye again if I tried.

Day 1 is in the books, and most times, just getting started is the hardest part. Overall, I am humbled yet encouraged, and I certainly look forward to these numbers increasing.

I'm out-

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Basement Bike Experiment 2010 - Introduction

After much soul searching (in the form of standing on a scale, renewing 7 (yes, 7) medications at the pharmacy, turning 40, and getting my ass chewed by my physician), I am ready to begin the Basement Bike Experiment of 2010.

About 4 years ago, I spent about $250 on an indoor fluid trainer. It's pretty bad ass. And it's still in brand new condition, because I practically never used it. Check it out below:

I mounted my road bike in it and I was ready to hit the ground running (OK, rolling).

But alas, the wireless computer set up on the rear wheel was nonfunctional. Dead battery!

OK, a trip to the store and a new battery later, I was ready to ride. WTF? Bike computer still didn't work. I Googled the user manual for the Specialized Elite Turbo and discovered there is also a battery in the transmitter.

One more trip to the store for another different kind of battery, and now, I was ready to log some miles. Still - no dice. I re-Googled (I am copyrighting that term and I want a nickel every time someone says it) the user manual and read all the specs on the alignment between the transmitter and the magnet sensor on the wheel screw, and got it all lined up.

Cash money! It works!

And what better time to begin than. . . tomorrow!

Each day's performance (or lack thereof) will be documented here. One - it holds me accountable, and two - it gives me something to blog about. I only posted once in 2009 because I suck.

Also, for additional motivation, I am rereading "Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180" by Mike Magnuson. He and I can't get more similar in our circumstances than we are (or were).

Stay tuned . . .

I'm out-