Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Howard Stern on America's Got Talent

A few years ago, I would race home on Tuesday nights to watch American Idol. The kids would be waiting for me, already having finished both their homework and dinner and we'd sit down and watch it together. Slightly hokey, yes, but it was definitely fun family time that we looked forward to.

Flash forward to the post Simon Cowell years and we still might have American Idol on, but it essentially serves as background noise. We might watch the occasional performer but we are not riveted to our chair like year's past. A lot of that has to do with the impact that Simon Cowell had on that show; the other part is that it's simply worn a little thin (not to mention, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler are mediocre judges at best).

But there's a new sheriff in town, and it's made for some fun Summer nights in the Solomon household; America's Got Talent.

Part of this is due, of course, to Howard Stern, who you all know is a bit of a hero to me. Regardless of your feelings about him, he translates really well into this new medium, in my opinion; he's funny but fair and has shown himself to be a pretty good judge of talent.

Some of it has to do with the show itself though; it's absolutely zany, doesn't take itself too seriously and most importantly - it's fun as hell. Everyone connected with the show from the judges to the host to the talent, seems to be having a blast - and that translates to enjoyable TV.

So, if you haven't been watching and are looking for something to pass away the Summer nights when broadcasting is not at its finest, I'd suggest you give it a shot. I don't think you will regret it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Olympic Trials

The only thing I like more than the Olympic trials - is the Olympics itself. What's more, the Little Boy has adopted my affinity for esoteric sports. That Dude is the best - he's obsessed with the upcoming Tour de France and he has watched all Olympic trial events with me; track especially, but diving and rowing as well. He's my little sports compadre and his body of knowledge is pretty impressive, especially around track and field and the Tour. And of course, swimming kicks off tonight as well, which promises to be a family affair. Even the Little Girl is excited about the swimming trials.

Speaking of swimming, this past week was the big all-star meet. The Little Girl miscalculated her finish on back and ended up third, which was slightly disappointing. She finished fifth overall in fly and sixth in IM, which was what was expected. Not bad overall, especially considering she's on the young side of her age bracket.

The Little Dude qualified for backstroke and took 12th overall. For a first year swimming, that's a pretty cool accomplishment.

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Music

Well, the Miami Heat have won their championship. Only thing that can cheer me up form that today is music, and fortunately, some good music abounds.

For starters, the new Smashing Pumpkins came out this week. I mean new in every sense of the word; new album and new band. But Bill Corgan proves his point; he IS Smashing Pumpkins - it doesn't matter wheat band he had behind him - and this new album is excellent. I've been listening to it non- stop all week and it keeps getting better and better with each successive listen.

I also managed to get my hands on the new Linkin Park. I haven't formulated an opinion on this one yet only because I am spending more time with the above. At first listen, though, I think I'm slightly disappointed. Will spend more time with it this weekend.

Last but not least is the new Metric and the new Fiona Apple. Apple is getting across-the-board rave reviews. I need to listen to his more too but I like it. It's dark and Bill Holliday-ish sounding but she can sure write and sing. Metric is one of these bands that seem to have come from nowhere but are really excellent. I'm really digging on this one a lot too.

I've got some others as well, but these are the ones that are on high rotation.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gonna Be Hard to Beat the Heat

I've been transfixed by the NBA finals. It has a bit of everything: super duper stars (James, Wade, Durant, Westbrook), youth, energy and just incredible athleticism. Like 90% of America, I've been pulling hard for OKC. What's not to like about those guys; they love playing in a small market that adores them; they play hard and heads down. No drama - just hard nosed basketball.

Unfortunately for them, you will not be served this year. They've demonstrated that they aren't quite ready. Each game has been there for the taking and each time, they have fallen short. The media will pontificate as they are apt to do that their troubles relate to a player (Westbrook, mostly) or coaching, but bottom line is that they are losing to the better team.

I dislike LeBron but you have to give it to him - he's playing out of his mind as is the rest of his team (you can argue that's it's the unheralded guys on that team that are making the difference).

It often takes years before a championship is earned; look at Jordan, James, Garnett and others - and you learn something in the process. OKC will lick their wounds and come back stronger; that team is so young that they have dynasty potential written all over.

I hope they take one more game but regardless, it's been an exciting series all the same.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Microsoft Surface

It's now been 24 hours since the introduction of the Microsoft Surface and I'm still not sure what to make of it.

First of all - I'm not sure what it is. They seemed to position it as a tablet, but it's really more of a cross between a tablet and a PC. It's pretty spec'ed out, but I am really not certain as to why they didn't announce a shipping date or pricing. Pricing is going to be really, really key. If they can keep the intel version (I personally have no interest in the ARM one) under, say $700, things could get interesting. I have to imagine they will get this right; the stakes are too high to blow it on pricing and they can afford for it to be a bit of a loss leader.

No question, the keyboard is cool as hell. Aesthetically, the whole damn thing is cool but I'm not entirely surprised; their new phones are cool, too. It's apparent that they get that in this day and age, design counts for a lot. In regards to the keyboard, I'd love to see how to works; I find it interesting that they didn't allow any demos.

The implications of this of course are huge; Microsoft just got into the hardware game (essentially conceding an important point to Apple - that in order to make world-class devices, you need to take ownership of both  hardware AND software) which is sure to piss off a lot of their partners (i.e. Acer, Dell, Lenovo, et al). It will be very interesting to see how that plays out in the coming weeks and months.

I do give them huge credit for taking a different approach and not simply introducing a me-too-ish, Android-type tablet.

From a pure PR perspective, I really didn't get the mechanics of the announcement. Not announcing the venue until the day OF the announcement? And then conducting the event at 4:00 pm PST? Strikes me as a bit illogical but clearly they were going for a lot of attention on this - and they got it - so maybe it was indeed a decent strategy. I'd love insight into their rationale though.

Anyway, the bottom line question - as the resident gadget lunatic, will I be getting one? Quite possibly, but until I understand pricing and a few more specs that were conspicuously absent from yesterday's announcement (LTE?) it's too early to tell. And that's a shame, because if they *really* followed a page from the Apple playbook (which it seems was their intent), they likely would have pre-sold thousands of orders by now. And in this game - which just got a lot more interesting - every second counts.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Swim Filled Weekend

Another weekend of .... swimming. This weekend we had two meets - our Marin League on Saturday and a USA swimming long course one on Sunday. 

The Little Girl swam well at both meets; on Sunday she got JO (Junior Olympics) times in two events; 1-- back and 100 fly. I was tired watching her do both (long course events are held in a 50 meter pool, so there are no walls to push off of - they are much harder). In the backstroke, she missed a Far Western time by 1.5 seconds; that would have been an incredible accomplishment. That's the thing about swimming that I love though; short of winning an Olympic gold, there is always room for improvement.

Props to the Little Dude, who is improving by leaps and bounds. Amazing what he's accomplished in his first year of swimming. 

Aside from all that, the weekend featured the usual - Crossfit, running, etc etc.

Been watching every minute of the NBA finals, too. Having a hard time getting my head around the fact that the Heat might win the championship.I just don't like that team and on the opposite side of the spectrum, Oklahoma is so likeable. They are young though and I'm not sure if this is their time. Hope I am proven wrong on that one.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Perfect Game!

I got home from LA last night around 8. I was pretty exhausted and say down around 8 in front of the TV, bemoaning the fact that there was NOTHING on TV. The Little Boy, who was at his computer looking at baseball scores, which is what he does, said "Matt Cain is throwing a no hitter. Turn on the Giants game." I asked what inning it was in. "Fourth" he responded.

The Little Dude is obsessed with no hitters, as am I. He gets excited when someone is throwing a no hitter in the second inning. But I figured, what the hell, there's nothing on.

And the night proceeded to turn to one of electric excitement. By the 7th inning we were utterly transfixed and in the 9th we were straight up screaming at the TV. When it was over, we were whooping and hollering (yes, we are Yankees fans. Of course. But the Giants are our hometown - and adopted - team) like they had won the World Series.

Boy, was that something. A no hitter is one thing - they are becoming almost commonplace - but a perfect game is truly special. Wish I was at that one.

Congrats Matt Cain, on one of the best pitched games in history.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Apple Announcement

Yesterday's Apple announcements were about what I expected. I'm fairly exhausted tonight - I'm in LA on business, so a few brief thoughts:

- people are straight up nuts if they thought Apple was going to introduce a TV. They very well might do a TV, but if they do, it will gets its own press event. It won't be announced during WWDC.

- the new 15" MacBook Pro Next Generation or  whatever it is called, is BITCHING. But it's also a first generation machine and is expensive as hell. That's the direction they are clearly going with the MacBook Pro line - think you will see similar versions next year in 13 too. It is sharp as hell but I'd sit it out a generation or two - and that;s me saying that. Also, so far as personal preferences are concerned, I prefer the Air over the MBP.

- iOs 6 is cool - very cool - but it's not game changing like other iOs versions. But that's ok - I said this before - iOS is so refined that it's approaching near perfection. Improvements are going to be incremental and that's what version 6 is all about. The coolest aspect  shown so far is Maps, which looks just awesome.

-- Passbook, the new digital wallet. Now THIS is badass and might have been the star of the show. This is the future of mobile that we have been waiting for. Just wait until they add payments to the equation, which is inevitable.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Nick? Beno? Anything you boys want to add?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Three Day Weekend

I had a really enjoyable three day weekend.

Took Friday off and spent the day with the Little Girl. It was awesome; we went out for a proper lunch, swam (of course) and then I took her shopping. All I can say is that I hope my Wife lives forever, because shopping with/for a little girl isn't easy. But we picked out the cutest dress ever at J. Crew and in the process, also almost picked up the salesgirl, who thought we were very cute (had to have been the little girl!).

Saturday was a swim day, per usual, and both kids swam great. The Little Girl took first in back and two thirds but the story of the day was the Little Dude. He took two thirds (overall thirds - not just in his heat) but on back and breast. He nabbed three best times. and he qualified for the all-star meet in back. These are all considerable accomplishments, considering that he barely knew how to swim seven months ago. I gave him crap in a previous post but I will give him all the credit on the world in this one: he works his tail off with swimming and he's starting to reap the rewards. I am very proud of him.

On Saturday we co-hosted a "White Trash" party with friends. I will let this picture speak for itself.

And finally, on Sunday, the Little Dude and I ran the legendary Dipsea as volunteers. We were "sweepers" - our job was to assist runners that were in trouble - and there was a fair decent number of them, given the extreme heat. We had a complete and utter blast - we were able to watch the race unfold (and what an exciting race it was), help others and get in a pretty solid run ourselves. Doesn't get much better than that.

I might never race the Dipsea again as a "competitor" - but I would do that again in a heartbeat every year.

Next year both kids are pretty committed to running the Dipsea as competitors - that should be interesting to see.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Well, now I figured out what it takes to get some comments and banter around here - be a shitty dad! Excellente. I just might go for a few similar posts, just to keep things stirred up a bit. I respect all opinions - everyone makes excellent points. The post remains up - for now. Been too busy to rethink whether I shoudl take it down (which would be a first for this blog, actually).

Short post today because crazy day. Highlight of this coming weekend, swim meet aside, is the Little Dude and I are running the famed Dipsea race (do check out the link if you have some time -  it's such a cool race) together - as volunteers. We are sweepers - meaning we take off about 15 minutes after the last runner and "sweep" the course. We make sure stragglers are ok; tend to the injured and clean up the course. I think it will be super fun, for no other reason than we are doing it together. It's also good to give back form time to time, especially to a sport that's been so good to me.

I will send some pictures form the trail.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Last Post

So, there was a little back and forth between me and my Old Man yesterday regarding yesterday's post. The Old Man suggested that I take that post down, as the topic should have been between me and the Little Boy.

He raises a fair point and I gave it careful consideration. And I decided to keep it up.

Here's the lens through which I viewed it: I asked myself, is it something I'd want the Little Boy to read (note: he knows about this blog, but I don't think he ever reads it. And if he does, great) at some point down the road? He'd probably be the first to understand that I am not looking to embarrass him in any way, shape or form. I love him more than life itself. And he knows I have points of view on things - particularly on this subject.

Also, say I wasn't here anymore.  That was the original intent of this blog - to serve as a legacy of sorts. Maybe he's reading it five, ten, twenty years down the road. And if that were the case, the central point of that little parable is one I'd want to strongly reiterate: if you want to improve at something that you care deeply about - anything - sometimes you need to evaluate your weakness, step out of your comfort zone and commit. And if you do so, there's opportunities where that work will potentially pay a major dividend.

That's the point of that post; it's not at all about baseball. I could care less about the baseball elements of it but  I think it's one of the most important things a kid or adult needs to understand in order to thrive in this tough world.

Nick, I get your point too but understand, I am not trying to be a baseball dad. Far from it - those dudes (and we have a ton of them out here) bum me to no end. I really don't care; I think in many respects little league is a bit silly. I much prefer swimming as a sport. But what I neglected to mention and is important to this story is this: he came to ME after last season, asking what HE could do to get better at baseball (he was fixated on making the all-star team).

So, I gave him a suggestion. A good one, I think. He decided not to pay heed to that advice and that's absolutely fine and his perogative - the Kid is only 12. I get it. I was the same kind of Kid.. I'm not angry or upset in the slightest. I just think that it was one of those rare opportunities where my advice could have been validated and thought it was noteworthy and worth sharing.

Anyway, enough on that. In other news, the Little Girl got her braces off yesterday and looks really cute. What a wackadoo - maybe the only kid in the world who misses her braces. Said they were her "friend".

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Another Little League Season Come and Gone

All "off season" I tried to explain to the Little Boy that his baseball skills were pretty refined, most particularly, his fielding. He's an excellent fielder and has terrific eye/hand coordination.

I tried to explain to him that he was at the stage where he needed to focus more on developing his weaknesses. In his instance his weakness was hitting and by extension, his power (or lack thereof in his case). Athletically, lack of power is both my kids weakness. I explain to them that it isn't their fault - it's mine. These things are genetic. If the Little Girl were 15% stronger, it would be scary what she would do in a pool.

The Little Boy basically disregarded my advice and did little to improve his strength, though in fairness, the swimming probably counted for a little.

And so flash forward to  last night in the fourth inning with him at bat, the bases loaded and his team down by one. The moment he's been waiting for. He got up and - popped up to the first baseman. His team later lost 6-3 (after starting the game 3-0!), thus concluding their season. And I couldn't get "mad" - the theme this season relating to his hitting has been to make contact and that he did.

At home later that night, I gently tried to tell him that it would have been interesting to have seen what would have happened if he heeded my advice. Maybe that pop out would have had 1% more power and gone past the first baseman for a single, driving in two critical runs. I tried to explain to him that sometimes athletes train for a lifetime for one brief moment in time. I wasn't trying to make him feel bad (at all) but pointing out what I felt could have been an important life lesson. I wish this story ended with a positive affirmation but it fell on deaf ears. He blamed it on the bat.

Actually, all wasn't lost. The Little Girl was listening from afar and started doing push ups. That wasn't exactly my point, but good to know someone is paying attention.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Solid weekend out here in Marin County, CA. Headline of course was a swim meet. Little Girl had the breakthrough we've been waiting for this season. She busted out three best times, a win in the backstroke and a new pool record in back. I was super proud of her, but I'm more proud of what a great, caring teammate she is. More than anything else this whole swimming business is great for her self esteem.

The Little Dude lost his playoff baseball game. He played well in defeat with a few great plays and a sharp single in the last inning. Next loss will be their last game of the season; it was a good season for the Little Dude. Thought he played well throughout.

What else? Little girl went to a big swim meet in Santa Clara to see how the big boys do it. She got to meet Natalie Coughlin, which was a thrill for her. Bit of Crossfit, some running and swimming - the usual.

Also, Game of Thrones season finale - wow. All I have to say about that one is don't mess with dragons.

Friday, June 1, 2012


I had lunch with a colleague today who asked me if I ever thought about retirement. Not an easy answer: if it makes any sense, I think about it every day - and yet, not at all. I couldn't imagine not working (after all, the Old Man is 70-something and still working) and yet what I do, while not brain surgery, is pretty darn stressful. Those of you who have seen me have likely noted my hair has turned pretty darn grey. It's for good reason.

The question then was asked what would I do next. I don't have an answer because it's something I haven't thought through - or at all, even - but I think the answer would have something to do with what's obviously my passion - fitness. I'd love to open a small, boutique-y workout facility of some sort, ala Crossfit and would love to coach a select group of endurance athletes. All the while, doing non-profit work for a cancer organization.

And oh - would like to be doing all of the above from the North Shore of Hawaii.

How does that sound as far as a gameplan?