Sunday, December 28, 2008

What Do They Know?

“They” say a lot of things. You can only get mononucleosis once. Only kids get it. Here’s what I say:


I’m seventeen days in and finally showing enough energy to for a blog post. I haven’t felt sick for over a week, but I’m weaker than George Bush’s grammar, and it’s getting old.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Walk Softly and Carry a Hockey Stick

Maybe fighting and thugs aren’t quite as dead in hockey as some would have you believe. Witness the following sequence from last Saturday’s game between Minnesota and Nashville, won by The Wild 6-2.

With 6:50 gone in the second period and Minnesota leading 3-0, The Wild’s Stephane Veilleaux and Nashville’s Scott Nichol were each penalized five minutes for fighting. No shock there; the Predators were taking a beating and frustration may have bubbled over.

The ice was cleared and play resumed. At 6:53 (three seconds later), Minnesota’s Derek Boogaard and Nashville’s Wade Belak were each sent off for five minute fighting majors. The next fight didn’t erupt for three more seconds, when Craig Weller and Jordin Tootoo each got five minutes off.

The best part of the whole thing only becomes evident when checking the box score. Boogaard only had three seconds of ice time for the game, which means he came on the ice at 6:50 (when the clock was stopped for the first fight) and was gone at 6:53, when he got his penalty. He didn’t play again, even though 28 minutes remained in a blowout game after he was paroled.

A quick look at Boogaard’s record is interesting. He’s played 22 games this year, averaging a little under four minutes a game, based on his last five games, which are all I could find stats for. He’s managed to accumulate 30 penalty minutes in that brief ice time, which is an improvement over his historical norms, which show him averaging 2.26 minutes per game in the NHL, and 4.3 minutes per game in the minors.

Who says the new look NHL has no place for thugs? Seems pretty obvious Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire sent Derek over the boards at 6:50 of the second to kick some ass. Dave Schultz, Tie Domi, and Bob Probert must be so proud.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Pinnacle of Civilization

Black Friday took on a new meaning this year when shoppers at a Long Island Wal-Mart crushed an employee to death in their haste to get shopping. The employee had the unfortunate name of Jdimytai Damour, so he was probably an immigrant, which means he was probably some illegal taking that high-paying seasonal Wal-Mart job from a deserving American, maybe even one of those who stepped over—or on—his body rather than try to help him.

Hell, with a name like that he’s probably from one of them African countries, where they have flies on the kids’ faces and are always whining about baby formula and then trample the their kids trying to get at it. You’ll never see Americans rioting for food like some of them you see on the news. Here we only stampede adults—and less than Real Americans at that—who stand between us and some cheap shit made in China that might just poison our kids, who, at least, have plenty of formula.

We’re no third world country.

The Way it Should Be

The Sole Heir’s Beau is a formidable hockey player. (I have it on good authority he’s even better at lacrosse.) Thanksgiving weekend brought a tournament conveniently located at the local rink, so we took the Parental Units over to see how we spend our free time.

Friday’s game was a 5-0 win, and so much fun we went back on Saturday to watch a 3-3 tie. Mom and Dad left Sunday morning, so The Sole Heir and I went back at 12:30 to see the championship game, with the winner advancing to a tournament in Canada next January.

You couldn’t see a more entertaining game at the Olympics. The Beau scored on a partial breakaway about five minutes in. That lead held up until a scrum cost our team the lead about midway through the second period. The game was a true goalies’ duel, both teams getting multiple scoring chances only to be stoned by the opposing goaltender.

Regulation ended 1-1, but there had to be a winner, as only one team could advance. The five minute overtime ended in a tie, so a shootout was called for. The teams would take turns with just a single skater trying to beat the opposing goalie. The team with the most goals after five attempts—all by different players—would win.

The visitors (from North Carolina) scored on their third shot, and it came down to our last chance. The goalie made most of a save, but the puck trickled through his pads and came to rest no more than six inches over the line. Still tied.

Now it’s the shootout version of sudden death: if they score, we have to match. If they miss and we score, we win. It went about ten rounds. Beau had the goalie set up for the same shot he’d scored on earlier, but the puck hopped on the chippy ice and he fanned on the shot. (Just as well; him shooting the winner would have been too much like a bad movie.) About ten shots in a Montgomery County player finally beat the Carolina goalie clean.

You would have thought they’d won the Stanley Cup the way they came screaming off the bench to bury the shooter, then turn as a group to engulf the goalie who kept them in the game. As hockey tradition dictates, both teams shook hands, then lined up to be called individually to receive their trophies, and run the handshake gauntlet again. Several winning players were detained in their round by losing coaches, who were genuinely happy for them, joking and slapping backs. It was as fine a gesture of sportsmanship as I have ever seen.

I hung with the Beau’s father after the game, waiting for the kids to come out of the locker room. “I think that last goal cost me about six hundred dollars,” he said, commenting on the price of the Canada trip. Huge smile on his face.

If you ever get tired of watching millionaire athletes bitch and moan about every little thing, go find a kids’ game somewhere, preferably at a level where no one has any real expectations of playing professionally. The play just as hard, if not as well, and there are few things in life as pure as the elation that goes with winning something for its own sake.

The way it should be.

The Sole Heir Rides Again

I don’t like to put personal stuff here, unless it might be entertaining to someone other than myself. I usually bend that rule when The Sole Heir does something that demands recognition. This is one of those times.

She was accepted into the University of Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago. That received no mention here because, frankly, we knew she’d get in; I’ll be more surprised if a college doesn’t take her. This weekend’s noteworthy feat was the arrival of another letter from Pitt, awarding her a four-year, full tuition scholarship, including a $2,000 study abroad stipend, and $500 for books. She also qualifies for a full Chancellor’s Scholarship, which will cover room and board if she gets it. (Miami of Florida offered maid service. Honest to God.)

This isn’t a done deal on her part; she’s still waiting to hear from a few schools so she can compare offers. Still, having a school as prestigious as Pitt in her back pocket—sans tuition, no less—takes a lot of stress out of waiting for the other replies.

Pitt also included a certificate for the parents, in appreciation of the support required to create a student of this caliber. Thanks, but they can keep it. First, this is a parent’s job; honoring us for not being derelicts should not be required. Second, while a poor home setting can adversely affect scholarship, no home environment can create a student of the skills The Sole Heir, and some of her friends, have developed. Her mother and I each have Masters Degrees; neither of us has been able to provide material assistance to her academically since she was in eighth grade. I can take no more credit for her achievement than I can for her brown eyes. True, she inherited the tools, as I did before passing them on; no credit is due there. The work is hers alone. I only hope her own high standards don’t prevent her from being as proud as she should be over this accomplishment, whether she accepts the deal or not.

Almost as proud as I am of her. Good job, La Binque.

Something Else to be Thankful For

Thanksgiving has passed at The Home Office, as has most of the food. (We’re still good for a couple of days worth of lunch-quality leftovers.) The Parental Units came down from the ancestral home in western Pennsylvania to spend the weekend, and remind us all of a rare thing we can be thankful for: my family actually gets along.

Proof of this can be found in our activities, or lack thereof. Dinner at Famous Dave’s. Some conversation. Watch a movie. More conversation. Thanksgiving Day was football, conversation, and the annual Feast. We then relaxed by bullshitting a while, and watching some football.

We did leave the house a few times. Took Mom to Costco. Went to a high school hockey game that involved The Sole Heir’s beau and enjoyed it so much we went back the next night. (More on that in a later post.) Introduced Mom to Mello Yello. In all, about as relaxing and entertaining a three days as could be had.

The visit was only cut short when a potential storm from the northeast chased them home first thing Sunday morning. (Research indicating the Steelers-Patriots game would not be televised in the Washington metropolitan area had no bearing on this decision.) The storm petered out into a drizzling rain that lasted all day Sunday and traffic was heavier than expected, but they made it home without incident. (Mom did get to snarf another Mello Yello at a rest stop. Now that she’s hooked, I’ll have to teach her the term “jonesing.”)

We get together a handful of times a year, but this Thanksgiving visit has become the most satisfying. The day may come when they don’t feel up to the trip; then we’ll drive. People have teased me about living in the last functional family in America. Sour grapes.

One last thing. The Steeler game was televised in Washington after all; the listings were incorrect. It looked great on that fifty-inch HD screen, Dad. Stick around next time. We have room.