Sunday, December 30, 2007

Perfect!

Wow... that game was unbelievable.

Even though the Giants were on their game, I knew in my heart of hearts that the Pats were going to come back. I did have my moments of doubt though and I still feel drained this morning.

The best part of the win for me was the fact that I got to watch it with my Dad. Even though the location left something to be desired, the fact that I got to see the greatest moment (to date) in Pats history with him was priceless. My Dad had season tickets from day one through the mid 80's and we have a lot of great memories of seasons long gone by, so it was only proper that I shared this moment with him. I know he needed a boost.

Anyways, I've got to run, but one last thing before I go. Christmas decorations do not look right on palm trees. That is all.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Thank You Roger Goodell!

Thank goodness the NFL has decided to simulcast the Pats-Giants game on CBS and NBC as well as the NFL Network.

I was kind of disinterested in the whole issue as we get the NFL Network on our cable system, but something has come up that’s made me extremely glad the game will be widely available. It turns out I’ll be continuing with my campaign of watching this year’s Pats games in weird places.

I saw the first half of the Pats-Steelers game in the Winchester Hospital emergency room and the second half in my own semi-private room. This time I’m going to be watching the Pats-Giants game in my Dad’s room at the Cape Coral Hospital in sunny Florida. Hey, at least it’s a private room this time. I just hope I don’t get booted at a critical juncture…

I’m traveling fast and light so I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to post again this weekend. If not, I hope everyone has a safe and happy new year. Check out the Video page on my website, www.berryjooks.com, there’s a great old video of Aretha Franklin and Billy Preston doing Auld Lang Syne at a house party. It’s a little grainy but definitely worth a listen.

And speaking of Auld Lang Syne, have you ever wondered what the heck it means? Here’s a little info from Wikipedia:

auld lang syne literally means "old long since"—but a more idiomatic English translation would be something like "long long ago", "days of long ago", "in olden days", or even "once upon a time".

Usage of the phrase appears to have begun in the late 1600's. It became a popular Scottish folk tune (attributed to Robert Burns) in the early 1700's.

So there you go, now you can wow everyone at your New Year's Eve party.

Go Pats!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

15 and 0 With One More To Go!

The Pats beat Miami 28 to 7 today improving to 15 and 0 on the season and in the process broke all kinds of personal, team and NFL records. There’s just too many of them to mention. Click here at Patriots.com for the complete list.

Of note, Tom Brady had 3 TD passes in the first half, tying Dan Marino’s old record of 48 and inching closer to Manning’s current record of 49 in a season. Laurence Maroney also had an incredible day with 132 yards on 7 carries and 1 rushing TD. Two of the carries were for more than 50 yards (one was for 51 yards and the other was for 59 yards and a TD). It’s good to see him coming on down the stretch.

The Pats led 28-0 at the end of the first half, but seemed to come out a little flat offensively for the second half. Brady threw his 7th and 8th interceptions on the year and it seemed at times that he was trying to force the ball into coverage. He may have been a little too eager to get the TD record out of the way. Who could blame him if he was? You don’t get many chances like this during an NFL career and personally I’d love to see it. Perhaps next week, against Baby Manning and the G men? That would be pretty sweet.

Another bright spot was the Pats Defense, who not only did a pretty good job of stopping the run but also doled out some serious punishment in the defensive backfield. The Pats Safeties were like heat seeking missiles out there. The D line and Linebackers also did a great job of keeping the Dolphins out of the end zone. When Lemon rolled out and scrambled for the goal line on 4th down he missed the pylon and I think it was because he didn’t want to lay out for the big lick that he knew was coming. Turnover on downs. That’s what smash mouth play does for you.

So, the ride continues through Giants Stadium next week and who knows what records will fall. All and all I’d have to say I’m a pretty happy fan.

P.S. How cool was it to see Troy Brown out there today? Even with the muffed punt it did my heart good to see him back in action. You've gotta love the Patriots organization, they always do the right thing.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Get "Lost" for the Holidays.

The Lost Season 3 DVD is out and is the perfect gift for the Lost-aholics in your life. The box set was released earlier this month just in time to get fans pumped up for the start of season 4, which has been moved up to January 31st (new night and time, Thursdays @ 9pm).

There's also a great season 4 trailer on the Official Lost Site, as well as the Missing Pieces videos. Both will help whet your appetite.

Watch the trailer closely and you'll see some interesting stills buried in it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Best Value in an MP3 Player This Holiday Season


The iPod Nano (3rd generation) with video. There’s a ton of MP3 players out there in all shapes and sizes and just about every price range, but I think this year’s pick of the litter is the 3rd gen. Nano with video. I’ve had the Nano with video for a little over a month and I’ve been completely won over by the little fatty.

I’ve always favored the flash based iPods and MP3 players for their reliability and portability, but I’ve had to make sacrifices in functionality for those benefits. Small storage capacity, small or nonexistent screens and no video capabilities are a few notable examples.

The Nano with video has doubled its storage capacity and screen size and is now capable of playing video, all the while sticking to its original price points of $149 and $199 and actually getting smaller. Yes, I said smaller. The new square shape of the Nano gives it the illusion of being larger than the previous versions, but simply gave the designers the right shaped casing for the new larger screen. Check out the side by side pics of my 1st and 3rd gen Nanos below.

The larger, sharper screen really enhances the cover flow experience as well as the quality of the pictures I keep stored on it. The Nano has always been more than a music device for me; it’s also become my “electronic wallet”. I store pictures and contacts on it and the new screen has made viewing them a much more pleasurable experience. I think the true promise of iPod multi-functionality lies in the integration of music, storage and web apps, and should exclude the cell phone portion. When I need a cell phone, I usually really need it, and I don’t want the battery blinking on its last tick because I’ve been goofing on the web or listening to music.

I’m not a huge video nut but the new Nano also allows me to download Vodcasts, TV and movies. My current favorite is the NFL weekly highlights videos. I’ve also started experimenting with converting personal digital video to the iPod via software such as Handbrake. This will make it a great tool for sharing family videos.

So, the 3rd generation Nano with video gets the berryjooks “best music player to give or get this holiday season” award based on the following criteria:


Bang For The Buck Factor: 9 out of 10

Increased disk capacity, larger screen and video capable at a slightly lower cost than previous models.

Performance: 8 out of 10

The jury is still out on battery life and durability, but I’ve been pleased with both so far.

Interoperability: 7 out of 10

Most of you’re old devices will work with the addition of a new size insert. The exception is third party video docks.

Coolness Factor: 8 out of 10

Very slick little device. I’d give it a higher grade here, but I’m saving that for the next gen Touch!

Speaking of coolness, there are some very nice clear acrylic cases by several manufacturers that snap in place over the Fatty, protecting it but also allowing it to be seen in its entire electronic splendor. iLounge is a good place to get a look at them. As with all iPods, you’ll want to protect its finish right from the start. The picture below shows it in an Agent 18 case.




Sunday, December 16, 2007

The nurses at Winchester Hospital are the best!

Same goes for my wife, who has been carrying the load on the home front. Working, running back and forth to the hospital, shoveling, shopping and shipping packages, she's truly tireless and amazing. Thank you!

Thanks also need to go out to all our friends and relatives who've pitched in with their help and support.

Not a week after I did a blog entry on my adventures at Snake River Canyon, some of that old baling wire that was holding me together snapped. How spooky is that?

The good thing is that it's really helped me to put the holidays into perspective. What's really important is the health and well-being of our friends and family, and how we cultivate it.

My favorite line from my favorite album sums it up best:

"And, in the end, the love you take/ Is equal to the love you make."

Truer words have never been spoken.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

berry's been off the grid...

due to an emergency last week.

The good news is that he's getting out of the hospital soon and he'll have lots of idle time in the coming weeks to bore you to tears.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Eat Bleep ESPN, The Pats are 12 and 0!

Oh my God, what a game!

Can you believe it? They come from behind again! No matter what, these guys come up big when the game’s on the line. Brady is undoubtedly the most clutch QB I’ve ever seen. Of course he had a little help from that nimrod Billick and his ill timed time out call. It was a big break, but it’s what you do when you get those big breaks that matters, and what Brady does is win.

At this point in the season the pressure on the Pats to go unbeaten has to be a major distraction. It doesn't matter that they say all the right things; you know it’s got to be weighing heavily on their minds. Add to that the fact that every team they play not only wants to be the one to knock them off, but also gets disrespected by the press the whole week leading up to the game. I doubt that there will be many more blowouts as long as they’re unbeaten.

It was an exciting game to watch but unfortunately we had to listen to those clowns in the booth. Three announcers and a guest all whooping it up and rooting against the Pats. It was disgusting. I guess ESPN doesn’t care about alienating all of New England. Tell you what; unless the Pats are playing I’ll never watch those monkeys again.

This is a pretty large market and we can only hope that the sponsors have a few words with ESPN. At the very least, everyone in New England should send them an email expressing their displeasure. Don’t forget to cc. WCVB while you’re at it. Oh yeah, crash those mail servers baby!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Kim Simmonds Still Has It!

We saw Savoy Brown Saturday night and they were fantastic.

The band has gone through many incarnations since the 60's but the one constant has been ├╝ber guitarist Kim Simmonds, and he hasn't lost a step.

The band has a new album out (Steel) so the night was a mix of old and new, and both were great. They started with the new stuff and finished up with the classics, touching on both the Street Corner Talking and Hellbound Train albums. I wore both of those albums out when I was in high school so it really made my night complete.

Drivin' Blind was the opening act and they really got the crowd fired up. They're a local band so check them out. If you like the blues served up with a side of scorching guitar you can't go wrong.

It was a hike and a half to get there (you know you're in the boonies when the emcee announces "Whoever owns the silver SUV that's parked on the covered bridge has to move it, you're blocking through traffic.) but The Bull Run is a pretty good place to see a show. It was our first time there and we were surprised by the size of the function room and the quality of the acoustics. It's a "supper club", which worked out well for us.

All in all a fine night of entertainment.

Alas, poor Evel, I knew him Horatio...

Evel Knieval passed away on Friday and although we never met, he changed my life forever.

I spent the summer of 1974 hitchhiking across the country with my buddy Joe. We had been in Yellowstone for about 2 weeks and we were starting to get restless when we began hearing news reports about the wild scene at Snake River Canyon. It wasn't that far away so we decided to head for Twin Falls and join the fray.

It was a strange trip. Shortly after entering Montana a pair of pickup trucks stopped for us, one held a young couple with a dog in the back, the other contained 3 tough as nails high plains grannies. Turned out they were all heading to Idaho so we climbed into the back of the pickup with the dog and off we went.

Yikes!

There we were in the open bed of a pickup, hunched down for relief from the whipping wind, truck doing about 80, and those old gals would pull up next to us and wave and laugh. Surreal. The two trucks raced all the way to Idaho Falls, sometimes abreast of each other for miles at a time with either the grannies or us cruising in the oncoming lane.

We lived through that ride and caught a couple more. When we were within about 10 miles of the jump site a van pulled over and as the side door slid open we heard someone call our names. It turned out to be a van load of people we knew from Boston and they were headed to the party. We thought "Wow, how lucky are we?".

It was my last piece of good fortune for quite a while.

The jump site was out of control. Thousands of bikers had descended on the area and local law enforcement decided to herd everyone to the bottom of the canyon and then set up a checkpoint on the main access road. They stayed at the top and took the stance that what happened in the canyon stayed in the canyon.

Long story short, we had enough of camping in Crazy Canyon so we hooked one last ride that didn't end well. I was sitting shotgun in a U.S. Army jeep. No roof, no roll bar. People and vehicles were everywhere and we hit a traffic jam on the way up and out. The driver of our vehicle decided to go around it. "This F-er can go anywhere!" said PFC Harvey. He was a bit panicked at this point as he and his friend would soon be considered AWOL if they didn't make tracks fast.

The passenger side of the jeep slid right off the edge of the canyon road and I got flung out and down. As I slid to a stop on an outcropping I could hear the jeep thud and jangle as it started it's own descent.

Ever watch those Wiley Coyote cartoons where he falls and then looks back up to see part of the cliff screaming down at him?

Yup, it really sucks.

I'll spare you the gory details. I learned later, much later, that our bouncing jeep took out rows of motorcycles that were lined up in one of the campgrounds. It was like Candlepins for Cash. There were some angry bikers in that canyon. In a brief moment of consciousness I remember hearing a woman screaming at someone to stay away from us.

Fade to black.

So I said at the beginning that Evel changed my life forever, but that's really not true. I changed my life forever, and probably for the better. The path I had been on was not a good one. After I recovered I decided to go back to school. Smartest thing I ever did. Plus I'm lighter 'cause I got rid of all the unnecessary organs, and scars are a wonderfull conversation starter.

Funny though, you could never convince Joe's little old Italian grandmother that it wasn't Evel's fault. Until her dying day whenever she heard his name spoken she would fork the evil eye and curse him visciously in a mix of English and Italian. I smile whenever I think of her and my first thought when I heard he had passed was that she was probably laying in wait for him, just inside the Pearly Gates.

Good luck to you, Evel.