Monday, March 31, 2008

WRIST SHOTS: POINTLESS ENDEAVORS

I have been in favor of eliminating the current NHL point system, as it's gimmicky and rewards mediocrity. The folks over at Slap Shot (The NY Times hockey blog) came up with an interesting idea: they compare the NHL's "deeply flawed guaranteed-point scheme" (N) with the current 3-2-1-0 Euro system (E), and determine where each NHL team would be.

The N.H.L. Standings as They Are, and as They Should Be*

The West is virtually the same (VAN and NSH flip-flop and EDM, who stink in regulation but excel in the shootout, would be rightfully eliminated, shown in italics below). In the East, however, it would be bad news for the Rangers, who are sub-.500 in regulation and would end up down at 8th; the Devils would also drop from 4th to 6th, and be passed by Philthy. What about the Sabres? Still out of it, but alive.

WEST
N: Det 111, SJ 106, Min 95, Ana 98, Dal 93, Col 91, Cgy 90, Van 88 /// Nsh 87, Edm 86, Chi 84, Phx 80, Clm 80, StL 74, LA 69.
E: Det 157, SJ 145, Min 129, Ana 132, Dal 128, Cgy 124, Col 123, Nsh 119 /// Van 117, Chi 113, Clm 109, Phx 108, Edm 107, StL 101, LA 93.
EAST
N: Pit 99, Mtl 98, Car 90, NJ 93, Ott 92, NYR 91, Phi 91, Bos 91 /// Wsh 88, Bfl 86, Tor 82, Fla 81, NYI 76, Atl 72, TB 71.
E: Pit 137, Mtl 132, Car 125, Ott 128, Phi 125, NJ 124, Bos 122, NYR 120 /// Wsh 117, Bfl 115, Tor 110, Fla 108, TB 101, NYI 98, Atl 89.

In the comments section someone inquires what the standings would look like if they used the old W-L-T format (converting all OT/SO to a point for each team) . . . and in that case the Sabres would be in 8th. Woo hoo! Kris summed up their actual playoff scenario: "Buffalo needs to win out and either Boston or Philly must earn zero points in 3 games, or NYR must earn zero point in four games AND Washington needs to get no more than 2 points over 3 games." Simple! If that happens I will eat my CCM hockey helmet and buy everyone that reads this blog a lavish dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings (drinks not included).

I just heard that NBC's Game of The Week (which I tried to live blog yesterday, but lost interest and watched the entertaining and nicely crafted Assassination Of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford instead) has featured either the Rangers or the Penguins 7 times out of 10. So it's not my imagination, it's been excessive. Next week, they promise Chicago at Detroit, though by that time the Blackhawks might be out of it. Personally, I'm sick of CROSBY-CAM and I think it's time for LUCIC-CAM!

At least I can fall back on VERSUS who always mixes it up and shows different teams. For instance tonight they're showing . . . PENS AT RANGERS? Oh sweet Jebus.

By the way, I noticed that every teams' site has been converted to "teamname.nhl.com" as of this season. That's asinine, as I would rather type "bruins.com" or "sabres.com" to get where I want. This is akin to that "espn.go.com" nonsense--where the fuck did the Go Network go anyway? And why don't they just change it to "espn.com"? Yeah, I know they sometimes get re-directed but that's stupid and just makes more work for everyone. Bettman sucks.

Out West, I am officially afraid of Sharks. I pick them every year to represent the Campbell Conference in the finals, and every year they find some way to blow it. This is the year . . . they do the same thing. My theory is that as late spring temperatures heat up in the Valley, the ice gets slower and bogs down the once high flying team--either that or Nabokov and Marleau actually suck.

He may have reluctantly been forced into captaincy, but Jagr appears to be doing the opposite of what one would expect of a team captain. His reluctantance to participate in the skills competition has been well-publicized, as has his ineffectiveness (0 for 5 this season). However, this week he announced that he's talking about playing in Russia next year, a declaration which is ill-timed at best considering the Rangers are about to begin a playoff campaign. Anyway, I feel for the guy because if you take a shit in this city, everyone in the sports media is up your ass. I think he's the greatest but my dad says he doesn't skate very hard, except during the playoffs.

THE HELL I DON'T!


(I had to post this, because as lesser Zucker movies keep coming out, it makes me love this movie even more.)

My recent postings questioned the definition of a "choke-job". I think it can be defined as winning the President's Cup one year and missing the playoffs the next (which you can't blame on losing 2 free agents and/or injuries), like the 1995-96 Devils did after winning the Cup. Also, leading 3-1 at home going into the 3rd period versus the Sens, when you're 4 points out of a playoff spot . . . if you end up losing 6-3, that's a choke-job.

My interest in the NCAA basketball tournament died on Friday night when I realized all #1 seeds were going to sweep. So let's check out the FROZEN FOUR:

Michigan, Notre Dame, Boston College, North Dakota.

I don't know about you, but my brackets are toast since (I had UNH and Minny). The NY state teams are gone, and I guess UNH was not as good as I thought they were; they got a #1 seed despite a 3 OT loss in the Hockey East finals to BC, which should have told me something. After my Mass rant I can't really root for BC, who got to the finals thanks to two home games (in Worcester), so I'm just going to root for some good hockey. The semis (Mich/ND 6 PM, BC/UND 9 PM) are Thurs 4/10, and the final is on Sat 4/12 (7 PM).

(Yeah, I know it's MLB Opening Day and I'm blogging about college hockey. That's how much I care about it.)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

LIVE BLOG: CROSBY CAM!

I decided to check out the NBC Sports' Crosby Cam and write down my thoughts about it, because it's a cold Sunday morning and because I can. Besides, you can't get enough of The Kid! Or can you? I'm about to find out.

It turns out that it's called "ISO-CAM" since Sid can't be on it all the time. ;(

There's also an Avery-Cam which I will not be clicking on, lest I catch him with a moderately priced hooker. I think David Letterman should sue, because this is very similar to the Late Night Monkey Cam. Oh that's right, that's now the "intellectual property" of NBC.

12:07. I tuned in a little early and caught Crosby getting dressed. THE HORROR! Interesting note: he wears a girdle. (Might be true.)
12:36. The game is underway, and the ISO-CAM is a second behind the TV. Also, there's no audio on the isolated player, just ambient noise. I was hoping to catch some interesting bench chatter, but I guess not. This will be annoying, I can probably only put up with a period of this.
12:38. That was quick: Rangers up 1-0. It turns out that when Crosby isn't on the ice, they switch to other players, thankfully. I didn't want to watch Sid blow his nose on the bench for 40 minutes. Malkin is up next, and it's fun to see the little things he does, such as setting up for an outlet pass,
12:42. LARAQUE-CAM! Just when I was starting to appreciate the little things hockey players do when they're not near the puck, I watched George skate in circles, hit one guy (Backman), look around for someone else to hit while never getting near the puck, and sit down after 35 sceonds. Aaaah, the life of a goon.
12:49. HOSSA SCORES! CROSBY WITH THE ASSIST! HE SAVES HOCKEY AGAIN! (It actually went off of Dupuis' skate and bounced right to Hossa.) No, that wasn't a great play by Crosby, despite the NBC call. Ugh.
12:51. Occasionally, the ISO-CAM freezes up, goes all pixelated, or just goes to a blue screen. Irritating.
12:53. During the PP, Crosby is looking down at his skate, and seems a little tentative. OMG I HOPE HE'S OKAY!
12:57. ISO-CAM catches Sid whining about an icing call for a full 2 minutes, pleading his case with the referees. Wow, the TV time outs are quite exciting. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
1:04. Wow, what a pass from Sid to Staal on the PP. He couldn't handle it. And Crosby draws yet another penalty, he's the best in the league at that (Avery is 2nd).
1:05. 30 seconds left on a 5-on-3, Crosby whacks it at the net right on the doorstep . . . and the cam freezes up so I never see it. Seconds later, Malkin scooooooores. 2-1 Sidsburgh.
1:10. End of 1st. Get ready for 20 minutes of ISO-CAM focused on the Zambonis and the Penguins blimp! I was hoping to get a pee-wee hockey game, but no luck.

Okay, I can't do this anymore. I'll take any bonus NHL coverage I can get, and while this is a cool idea it just seems like a work in progress. Or maybe this is the best NBC can do (they seem to suck at golf too). Still, it's better than Versus, and by "better" I mean "it exists". The so-called "official home of the NHL" doesn't seem willing to devote any extra time or energy to bring you bonus coverage. So you either get excessive, fawning coverage of a handful of star players, or barely any coverage at all.

In other words, Bettman sucks.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

THERE WILL BE HATE

I believe that Daniel Plainview hates you already.



"I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed. I hate most people . . . there are times when I look at people and I see nothing worth liking. I want to earn enough money so I can get away from everyone." - from There Will Be Blood (2008).

That might be the new mantra for this blog.

When you watch Daniel Day-Lewis sitting next to the fresh grave of a man he just killed, drinking himself into oblivion from a whiskey flask, you get the feeling he's done it before. (What I mean is that he's done it to prepare for the role, which is perfectly okay.) In There Will Be Blood, he chews up the scenery like a post-pub Irish breakfast at 4 AM. And when various characters during the movie attempt to wake him up as he's passed out on the floor, I'm not sure if they're screaming "DANIEL!" at the character or the actor. Yes, it's a powerful Oscar-worthy performance unfortunately surrounded by a weak script, which Danny-boy punches up by merely repeating every line twice for effect: say a line, pause, SAY IT AGAIN LOUDER AND MORE EMPHATICALLY. And If There Would Have Been Editing, they could have trimmed the fat and made a taut, tense, and interesting 2 hour long movie. (Oh, that's right, it's directed by Paul Thomas Anderson who is practically incapable of making a short movie.) So no, I didn't really like this movie.

I will not go bowling with that man.

I WILL NOT GO BOWLING WITH THAT MAN!

Friday, March 28, 2008

WRIST SHOTS: GREAT (DEVIL) MINDS THINK ALIKE

You might not know Greg Wyskynski* but he writes the fantastic NHL Closer on Deadspin (and also for a new startup called AmericaOnline, which allows you to connect to the "information superhighway" via several local dialup numbers at speeds of up to 14.4Kbps on your internal/external fax-modem). I now find that I can't go a day without reading his humorous daily take on the NHL and the world around it, as his funny references and pictures pretty much sum up everything I wish this blog could be. We seem to have a lot in common, as he also hates Bettman and the shootout, and he's a Devils fan (and a Mets fan, Jebus help us both) originally from Monmouth County, New Jersey (we were probably neighbors!). Like me, he's also a little disturbed by the way the Devils been playing. So as I was lamenting the Devils' latest loss and their complete inability to beat the Rangers, I included the following sentence in an email:


"What are the odds the Devils miss the playoffs? They're only 3 points from the cut line, so I'd say 50/50 right now. Seriously, they are looking like the September 2007 Mets right now."
Not 5 minutes later did I read this on the freshly posted NHL Closer: The Rangers Are the No. 1 Cause Of Depression : "They might as well play the rest of their home games at Shea Stadium". That's pretty freaky, but I guess great (Devils) minds think alike. In all honesty, if they miss the playoffs this would be a bigger choke-job than the Mets and the Sabres combined, the latter of which were never really in the playoff picture at any time this season. And if I see Thomas Glavine warming up in the Devils pre-game skate, I am going to jump off the Pulaski Skyway. (I LLOL at the "have another donut, Marty" line. I think he's bulking up for when Bettman cuts the size of the goalie pads next season. Or he carries the practice pucks in his cheeks.)
As for last night's debacle, the Devils dominated early in this game but as usual had fuck-all to show for it (see also: 3/8 @ TOR). Somehow the Rangers end up winning it on a bizarre lucky goal by Devilslayer Nigel "Tufnel" Dawes (I didn't see it, I was flipping and watched Xavier tie their game and beat Huggy Bear in OT instead):
A pass by Chris Drury, who assisted on every New York goal, hit the skate of Devils defenseman Sheldon Brookbank and caromed in on Brodeur. He steered the puck into the onrushing Dawes, on the ice after being knocked down by Travis Zajac. Both players barreled into the crease, with Dawes pushing the puck over the line with his shoulder with 3:06 left.
With his freaking shoulder? Ugh. Yeah, this stuff happens in hockey all the time, but why did it have to be in the Strangers' favor? So not only is this Devils team not getting any breaks, they're also playing like bitches (0 for 25 on the PP). What can I do? Instead of watching the Philthy matchup tonight, maybe I'll just sit in a darkened room and listen to my deluxe edition CD of Jeff Buckley Live at Siné as he sings "The Man That Got Away", which crying into my bottle of Westmalle. Whoa, I'm starting to sound like KSK's Emo Eagles.

/smacks self in face

By the way, Avery For Men is the biggest bitch on the ice. I was forced to watch the MSG feed (the only HD broadcast of the game--thanks Dolan, you dick) and the Rangers production crew must be in love with him, because they showed close ups of him the whole fucking night. After every play, he (gets up off his ass and straightens his helmet and) complains about something, dropping an F-bomb at whoever is within earshot. Every time he's cleanly checked, or flops on top of the goalie, runs into the boards of his own volition--it seems he believes that someone else should be blamed for it. Everyone is obviously wrong except him. He's such a douche . . . but I guess it's great if he's on your team.
What is a Ranger anyway? I understand the Texas Rangers being called that, since they existed, but what's a New York Ranger? Did they ride on horseback through Central Park on their way to the rink? Kris enlightens me: "The original owner of the NY Rangers Tex Rickard. The New York papers started calling the team "Tex's Rangers." Man, that's lame. My only response to that is that I fucking hate Texas.
At least I can Schadenfraude my day away with this TSN front page epitaph for the 2007-08 fallen LEAVES:

Boo hoo! Bye bye LEAVES! As the old adage goes: "It must be spring, because the Leafs are out." Or maybe you like "Make like a tree and LEAF!" Either one works for me. I'm going to out on a maple tree limb, but maybe it's time to get rid of selfish assholes like Darcy Tucker and Mats Sundin who sabotaged the system by refusing to waive their no-trade clauses, thus preventing the team from making any improvements. I blame the ownership, whoever that is. I just found out it's a combination of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, CTV, TD Bank and Kilmer Sports. Wait, they're owned by a teachers' pension plan? No wonder they're a mess. As it is, they are the most profitable team in the NHL, so why should any of the owners care if they make the playoffs? Why mess with the status quo?
In his free time between doing nothing running his business and Photoshopping in "blood splatter" to his Sabretooth-beheading-Devil masterpiece, Kris mentioned something about the Sabres winning a game in Canada somewhere wherein Maxim for Men scored a goal as pretty as his flowing blonde hair. If you ask me, that's the ultimate garbage time goal: when your team is out of playoff contention! He'll probably go on a spree, scoring 7 goals in the final 6 games as they finish 4 points out. Whatever. I stand by my assertion that Maxim for Men can go screw.
NBC has another hockey "Game of the Week" at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning, and guess what? The Nothing But Crosby network is featuring the Sidsburgh Crosbys (against some other team)! I actually like The Kid, but the constant drooling over him MUST STOP. How about giving some attentoin to Lucic or Kane? And would it kill you to show a West Coast matchup? (I've only heard rumors that Vancouver has a team, is that true? There's a British Columbia now?) This Peacock Blocking is because they must get the hoc-key out of the way early to show some crappy non-major golf tournament, in a shitty combination of HD and SD, at 2:30 PM. I'm so sick of this crap. I hit a bird on the way into work today, and although I'm not sure what type it was, I really hope it was related to the NBC peacock. (Actually, I probably would have felt that.)
In other Crosbys news, "♪I see my Maryanne skating awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!♪" As Kris stated, Maryanne Hossa might be literally made of glass; ever since the trade deadline he's been fragile, playing in only 8 games. Oh, Ruutu (who last night overshadowed Crosby saving hockey yet again) might be a bigger douche than Avery, but it's close.
I'll leave you with a lovely shot of a hockey player who truly hates pants. Man, that's got to be cold.



* Yay me, I spelled his name correctly without looking. That's when you know you've been reading too much Deadspin. Check out his book Glow Pucks and 10-Cent Beer. Thanks again for the Deadspin blogroll shoutout, Greg.

DRINKY DRINKY: JEVER PILSNER

Really quick review, since it's Friday night and I've got more beer to drink.

Interesting tasting pilsner. It's too cold here to truly appreciate it, but that's not a problem: I've turned the heat up to 95 degrees to imagine that I'm basking in the sun on a summer's day instead of the reality of being a virtual shut-in because of the fucking rain.

This beer has a smoky taste to it that I can't really define. It's crisper than I thought it would be and a bit dry, but there's a [not completely unpleasant] taste that I've never recognized in a beer before, maybe it's herb because all of the reviews I read say it has an herby taste and I know fuck-all about reviewing alcohol. I'm limited to: Did I manage to drink it all? Check! Did it make me feel good? Check! Was I sick the next morning? No! Perfect.

I read a review that said Pilsner Urquell is better. I don't know. Pilsner Urquell is probably easier to drink/less complex, but Jever definitely deserves your time, if you're in a beer store or a bar, that has it. That's as good of a review as this brew's going to get. Taste it if you can. If not, meh. There are better Germans out there (allegedly there is beer in that picture, who knew?).

V FOR VICTORY?

"Yeah, like the guy in the $5000 suit is going to hold the door for a guy who's lost in the first round to Bradley and Bucknell. COME ON!"

Villanova's head coach Jay Wright reacts to his team's play against Siena during the first half of their second round NCAA men's basketball tournament game in Tampa, Florida March 23, 2008. REUTERS/Scott Audette (UNITED STATES)

LET'S GO NOVA!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

DRINKY DRINKY: BEER MADNESS!

This time of year, it's all brackets, brackets, brackets! Emulating the NCAA men's basketball tournament 64 team bracket, there are brackets everywhere. The most annoying ones are drawn up for all sorts of non-sports related contestants, from the hilarious Name of the Year, Real NFL Mascots (Kill Kill Kill), Hottest Chicks, Nerd Icons, the TV show LOST (SPOILER ALERT: Desmond won!), and Books (BORING!). But those are all a little too sissy for me.

So while drinking/watching the NCAA tournament in White Plains, I had the genius idea to create a bracket of 64 beers. So Karl, Rob and I drew it up, and held a draught (with help from Lee) comprised of beers that we like, for reasons of taste or sentiment. The only stipulation was that it could only be beers that we've actually had, so there's no Westvleteren, Kate the Great, Three Floyds, or Russian River entries here. There are, however, multiple Chimays, Stones, Ommegangs, Unibroues, Sam Smiths, as well as various domestics and Germans on the list.

I thought we might set up the bracket and then leave it up to voting on the blog. But it was a long afternoon and Karl had his laptop, so we forged ahead and chose the winners through a combination of opinion, intuition and coin flips. I think it turned out pretty good. It's BEER MADNESS!

Let's take a look at the ROAD TO THE FINAL POUR.
The four #1 seeds were (in order):
Chimay Blue (Dark Region), Rochefort 8 (Oatmeal Region), Ommegang Abbey Ale (Belgian Region), Allagash Tripel Reserve (Commercial Region).
Last pour in: Grolsch, Negro Modelo, Rheingold Extra Dry, Corsendonk
Last pour out: McAndrew's Scotch Ale, Saison Dupont, Schneider Aventinus, St. Bernardus Abt 12.

BITTER 32. None of the #16 seeds (Rolling Rock, Michelob Dark, Rheingold Extra Dry, Ballantine IPA) stood a chance against their heavier, unfiltered foes. Though there were few early upsets and the entire Oatmeal region went to chalk, there were a few underdog brews to advance:

#9 Hoegaarden def. #8 Duvel
#9 Young's Old Nick def. #8 Spaten Optimator
#9 Harpoon IPA def. #8 Thomas Hardy's Ale
#10 Anchor Porter def. #7 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale
#11 Stone Smoked Porter def. #6 Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock
#12 Sierra Nevada Pale Ale def. #5 Samuel Smith's Winter Warmer

One scary matchup involved #3 Westmalle, who needed Tripel OT to defeat the smooth Sam Adams Cream Stout at #14.

HOPPED 16. Cinderella arrived dressed like a Piraat, as the #6 brew boarded the Old Thumper ship and made the #3 Shipyard beer walk the plank. #6 Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout, possibly getting a lower seed than they deserved, cruised past the #3 Philosophers, who spent too much time thinking instead of drinking.

AROMATIC 8. In a battle of the Blues, the impressive Guinness-beating Blue Point guards couldn't hand-pull it out, succumbing to the formidable Chimay Blue. Rochefort 8 couldn't make it to the 8 against a syrupy Triple Bock attack. Fuller's Vintage Navy sunk the Piraat, and Westmalle mauled a wordy Shakespeare, who were ineffective on the iambic pentameter. But the biggest shocker was the affable #6 Affligem Noel who gift wrapped a defeat of #1 Allagash, whose starters and Reserves couldn't hit the Tripel to save their lives.

FINAL POUR. The shocker heard across the pond was the upset of the consensus #1 beer in the tournament, Chimay Blue, spilled and mopped up by Fuller's Vintage. The 'Gang's all here and upstate New York was ecstatic as two Ommegang offerings advanced (Hennepin, Abbey Ale) . Chimay's lighter, faster brother Red, filled out the Pour. Eventually the #2 seeds prevailed, as Chimay Red's Trappist defense and FVA proved too strong for Cooperstown representatives.

CHAMPIONSHIP. In the end, the Vintage brew crew couldn't run with the Red, as Chimay won handily to down their Premiere title. The Abbey is not too shabby, and they will be partying in the Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont in Belgium tonight!

(Do monks party?)


BLOGARBAGE: BOTH ARMS WELCOME

This is a collection of garbage (or as my 2 year old nephew calls it, "garboop") that doesn't really belong in its own post, but also doesn't belong in my head. It's BLOGARBAGE!

Because of my illustrious job, I get generic drug prescriptions for free (the one and only perk). However, this time around I got an antibiotic from Watson, probably made by disgruntled employees at the Carmel, NY plant (where I used to work). As Rob said, hopefully these were made before the plant closing announcement and employees found out their jobs are being outsourced to India. That doesn't change the fact that I feel like my innards were scrubbed clean with a wire brush.

I think that in order to be an authentic Def Leppard tribute band, you should be required to have a one-armed drummer. However, this is not a sticking point forDef Repplica according to their want ad: Required to wear detailed costume/accessories to visually simulate Rick Allen as close as possible, both arms welcome."

I understand having 40 coffee places in the mall: you want everyone to be well caffeinated (is there second-hand caffeination?) while they're shopping. But do we really need 3 soft pretzel vendors? The Palisades Mall has Auntie Anne's, Pretzel Time and Wetzel's Pretzels, for some unknown reason. Auntie Anne's is by far the best one, probably because each bite contains a pound of rich creamery butter. The other two can close down and make way for more cell phone vendors, which we also don't need.

Despite what Bud Light's commercials tell me, I am NEVER typing in "dudemadness" into my browser. One spelling error will direct you to gay porn. Actually, that might not be worse than Bud Light (according to unnamed sources).

The detestable word "bling" was used in the headline of an article about Sarkozy in the Wall Street Journal. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the word is officially dead. Oh, and the WSJ, now owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, is also dead to me.

Something I found out about China: the men prefer the women to have flat asses, and even have surgical procedures to reduce their ass size. Good to know they're just as fucked up as we are.

Google GMail chat calls their little animated smiley faces "emotisprites". I didn't think I could hate a word more than that.

I used to defend the state commonwealth of Massachusetts by saying, "Eh, it's not bad. Cape Cod's pretty, and Boston's a nice town . . ." and then I ran out of steam. But after sitting in traffic on the Mass Pike at 10 PM on a Sunday night, I had an epiphany: I have no fucking use for Massachusetts. What have they ever given us? The Kennedys? Big fucking deal. Everything they provide, some other nearby state does better. Restaurants? New York. Taxes? New Hampshire. Beaches? Maine. Skiing? Vermont. Historical landmarks? Philadelphia. Sports radio? Anywhere. Boston is run by a marble mouthed moron, the Big Dig project was a giant disaster plagued by cost overruns, accidents and corruption, the average ticket price for a ballame at Fenway costs over $50, and after you drive past Worcester it's a complete wasteland. And Mass drivers are the worst, as they combine the erratic style of New York drivers and the reckless speed of New Jersey drivers. Seriously, screw the Bay State and all the Massholes in it. (You know who you are; if you laughed at this, you're not a Masshole.)

I just heard someone say that their family traditionally eats rabbit on Easter Sunday. Really? I'm going to guess that the same family doesn't allow their kids to believe in the Easter bunny, otherwise they'd be scarred for life. "Remember when I said the Easter bunny delivered all that candy? Well, as he was trying to hop out of the house, I shot him dead, skinned him and threw him in the oven. Man, he sure looks tasty! EAT UP, KIDS!"

On that note allow me to leave you with a commercial, because I have nothing else to add. It's a classic M&M's commercial from the 80s.



Thanks Easter Bunny! Bock bock!

PITCHFORK VS. SABRE: ANSWERED

Since there were some doubts, I figured I would put them to rest: Any Tiger that lives through winter in Western New York kicks the shit out of the Prince of Darkness, every day of the week. Especially when said Tiger has two sabers. Sorry Devils fans, but you've no longer a mascot; the inflammatory statements of one of your own convinced Sabretooth to kick some ass.

While "fun" is subjective, the protestation that the "this team is more fun to watch than previous incarnations" rings false when the statistics (which never lie) prove that they are scoring at a level unparalleled since 2001/2002. The Devils are averaging (through today) 2.51 goals-per-game. The last time they scored less than 2.6 GPG? 2001-2002 (2.50 gpg). Those halcyon days of exciting, high-scoring hockey in the League that Gary Ruined. The Sabres are averaging 3.13 GPG (which, I wholly admit means about 1/4 of their games were 6 goal nights, half were 3 goal nights and 1/4 they were shutout). And there's the crutch of it. The Sabres are like one of our lovely "Don't You Hate Pants" stars. Wait, it's actually worse: the Sabres are like having an alcoholic stripper girlfriend and the Devils are like being married to a wholesome Nebraska girl. There's no problem with Nebraska. She's undoubtedly cute, but not groin-grabbingly hot. You know that she'll be around come May (and next the May and next the May, ad infinitum). You know that she'll take care of you and she'll feed you and you'll live out your days in comfort.

The Sabres: Well you never know when you get home from work if she's going to be sitting naked on the kitchen floor with her legs spread or if she's going to launch an empty bottle of Jameson at your head. She'll give you the best night of your life, but two days later you'll catch her with your best friend (and his coworker, Bruce). You can't plan two days ahead and you sure as fuck have no idea if she'll be around in May (probably not, but who can tell?). When its good, holy shit it's good, then one night Miller comes out an "look[s] like a shell-shocked turtle without protection"[deadspin] and they give up 5 unexplained in the final 6 minutes. Yet, despite yourself, you have no control over the fact that you're absolutely drawn to this complete lack of stability. The downs suck ass, but you never know when they'll just explode and take you into the bathroom at Tim Horton's for a little afternoon delight.

Are the Devils "boring?" No, not really. The league has changed in the past few years and the Devils can't play the trap like they used to, but they still rely heavily on Marty to keep them in all games so their offense can put up less-than-average numbers and they'll still be there for the second and third rounds. I don't dislike the Devils and I guess being married to a traditional farm-girl is nice, in a secure kinda way.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

WRIST SHOTS: PITCHFORK VS. SABRE

Kris greeted me with this little beauty in my email this morning:

"after all my optimism for the f--king Sabres they go and do f--k all. screw that. i'm done. they'll not make it and I don't effing care. Let's go Ran-Gers!"
Two things about this irked me. One, it pegs Kris as a Buffalo bandwagon jumper, and two, it was constructed to get under my skin as I'm a Devils fan. (Three, the use of "f--king and "effing" in the same email--well, which one is it?) I pretended it bothered me by stating I will never ever root for his jerkass team again, and that his optimism doesn't help them win games. His best comeback was to call them "boring", a hack analysis endlessly regurgitated by every two-bit sports critic since they put a rink in the Swamp. This is as tired and clichéd a statement as "don't root for Buffalo teams as they will eventually choke on moose cock in the end".

Since I bleed red and black (I should get that checked by a physician) maybe it's relative and I'm a little biased. But with guys like Gionta, Madden, Parise, and Elias (when he's healthy), and Marty playing possibly having his best season ever (think about THAT), and Sutter employing a forechecking system that has nicely payed off, this team is more fun to watch than previous incarnations. I'd certainly take them over an undisciplined, punchless team filled with Vaneks and Maxims who score hat tricks in an 8-4 loss while missing the playoffs. For the Devils (or anyone), I realize that the playoffs are all that matter, but I'm seriously worried about them. They've been handing out points to fellow Atlantic foes like free soup . . . at a place . . . where they give out free soup. Yeah, I suck at analogies, just like the Devils suck at scoring goals (0-3-1 over the last 4, with 3 goals scored). I want them to rest Marty down the stretch, and maybe even dust off Weekes play against the Rangers. REST HIM. NOW. LISTEN TO ME. PLEASE.

Kris (with his team sitting 5 points out with 6 to go, and his back clearly at the wall) went on to say, "At least we didn't get shutout last night". (I guess he was being facetious, referencing the Sabres 6-3 loss to the Sens in which they gave up 5 unexplained goals, including Miller's awesome 4 goals allowed in a 6 minute stretch.) But really, WTF does that matter? A (regulation) loss is a (regulation) loss is a (regulation) loss. Or is it? Yes it is. Unless they encorporate that into the scoring system, like the new improved Open Hockey Blog Awesome Scoring System (OHB-ASS)™:

Shutout loss = 0 points
Non-shutout loss = 1 point
Loss, but Ovechkin/Maximvanek/Malkincrosby/Okvagbakbfvkabprov gets a hat trick = 2 points
Win in shootout = 3 points
Win in regulation = 4 points
OT loss = -2 points
OT win = 7 points

I know what you're going to say, and yes, the 7 points is definitely very "MTV Rock n' Jock". But screw it, I think it's a winner!

So yes, the Devils got shutout last night 2-0 by the Sidsburgh Crosbys, but they also got completely jobbed by the refs. Mirroring a similar play in the Sabres/Rangers game a few weeks back, they waved off a Devils goal because of "goalie interference" midway through the 2nd. Check out the highlight reel starting at 1:08:



Watch as Betang (who lost his stick) grabs Asham around the waist, and pushes him into goalie MAF with his right hand (AND even pushes his own goalie down!) as the Devils score the tying goal. Marvel as you witness Betang make the "wave it off" motion, which I'm guessing he did because he knew he was guilty. And yes, the Penguins' commentators agree with me that it was complete horseshit (my words, not theirs). I love crap officiating as much as the next guy, but when it means the difference between "tied for the division lead" and "4 point cushion" and possible playoff seeding, it really boils my gnocchi.

As we look at the playoff picture, it appears that the Buffalo Sissies have taken a pass and will allow the shitacular Philthy team in, while Boston might get passed by the Evil Kapitals for #8. (Just think of the masturbatory sports reporting that will surround a first round 1/8 Crosby/Ovie matchup. Oh, the horror!) The Devils seem to have no jump right now and will probably end up in the dreaded 4/5 series. Can we start the playoffs now so Ottawa can eliminate them and I can get on with my life? (Okay, maybe that's a bit much. They'll lose in the second round of the le playoffs de Coupe Stanley ala Antoine.)

I didn't know that Armée Sens (is that like KISS ARMY?) used the slogan "EMISSION". That army sounds faaaaaabulous! (Sorry, it's EN MISSION. My mistake.)

In conclusion and in support for lazy wrap-up phrases, I root for the Devils because they're not filled with sissy Europeans or crazy Russians, they're lousy with Amuricans. Actually, maybe that's their problem. Meh. Call me when the playoffs start, until then I'm going to be watching NCAA basketball (at least until Villanova's final game, which might come sooner than you think).

Karl pointed this out to me: Devils LW Jay Pandolfo played in his 700th game last night. That's pretty astonishing. He's one of those players that doesn't stand out, but is completely solid and fits like a glove into the Devils' system. You can't imagine any other team picking him up because he doesn't have "numbers", but he's a team guy, which is perfect for a team that doesn't care about individual achievement. Yeah, that's the most exciting Devils news I have, because they're so booooooring. Or as I like to call it: they get the job done.

When I'm choosing weapons, I'll take the pitchfork over the sabre every time.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

2008 NCAA TOURNAMENT WEEKEND REVIEW: THE BRAZEN WILDCATS!

Villanova's Scottie Reynolds is congratulated by teammate Dante Cunningham after scoring against Siena during the first half of their second round game Tampa, Florida 3-23-08 (REUTERS/Scott Audette/US)NCAA tourney opening weekend is always my favorite. Now that the first 4 days of the 2008 version are behind us, I have to say it was quite an enjoyable ride. It certainly doesn't hurt that Villanova are in the Sweet Sixteen with wins over Clemson and Siena. Actually, it helps a lot.

It didn't start off well: Thursday was one of the most lackluster and ugly first days of the NCAA which included two records that schools would rather not have: Cornell getting its Ivy ass kicked due to an awful 15.6% first half field goal percentage, and Miss. (I ain't typing all those S's) Valley State's atrocious 29 points, both shot-clock era low points. The biggest disappointment was Duke not getting upset by Belmont, which I (sort of) predicted. However, things really picked up on Friday. In Tampa, all four lower seeded teams won (Villanova, Siena, Western Kentucky, San Diego), the first time in the tourney it's ever happened . . . and they were all seeded #12 or higher. At the top of my list is, of course, Villanova's upset of Clemson.


As for the rest of the weekend, you can read all about the various upsets and bullshit, but the only thing that matters to be is NCAA FRIDAY. In what has become an annual tradition, Rob & I took the day off and spent the day in White Plains. So let's give out the NCAA (Good) Friday awards:
MVP: The Brazen Fox. We intended to just use Rory Dolan's new bar in White Plains as a meeting point, but we ended up spending most of the afternoon there. With a stellar beer selection (Chimay Blue, Orval, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA/Raison D'etre, Piraat, Leffe Blonde, Samuel Smith's Organic Ale/Oatmeal Stout, Anchor Porter, Franziskaner), plentiful HD flat screens (albeit no DirecTV) and WiFi, it was hard to tear ourselves from their bar stools. The bartender was slow, otherwise we would have cleaned them out. As a result of our top loaded night, we never made it to the Sports Page.

Most Enjoyable Upset: San Diego's first-round OT ouster of UConn, a first for Calhoun's Huskies. Judging by the one man cheering at the game's conclusion, Rob was the only one to pick the Toreros on his bracket.

Rookie of the Year:
Elements. Brian (formerly the manager of James Joyce) has opened a jewel of a restaurant on Mamaroneck, with a modern design that nicely breaks up the Irish pub monotony on the block: a long, sleek bar with nice mosaic tiling, dark wood on the walls, light wood on the ceiling. Add to the list a rooftop deck for 96 patrons (a first for the city which will be opening soon, though I got a sneak peak), and he has hit a homerun with this place. He actually remembers us from the other side of the street (even after he was AWOL for a year), and it's that personal touch that's going to keep me coming back. That and the rooftop deck on which I will be practically living this summer. Did I mention the rooftop deck?

LVP:
Me. After a solid 8 hours of drinking, I predictably hit the wall and decided that I simply couldn't drink another drop. When I got home safely and saw the 'Cats down 39-23 to the Tigers in the first half, and realized that CBS was gleefully cutting away from it for other games, I chose sleep (and good memories of the day) instead. (Plus, I had to drive to my sister's house in NH at 4:30 the next morning to go skiing, so I had an excuse). Of course, as soon as I got in bed they stormed back from an 18 point deficit to win by 6. I blame CBS for this, as they scheduled Villanova's game for 9:40 PM (actual tip-off was 9:57 PM) for the second straight year. I know it's a Friday, but why screw two East Coast schools like that? Don't they know I've been drinking since noon? I'm only one man!

Once again NCAA Friday was a roaring success, and beat the shit out of working. As for the rest of the weekend, here's my opinions.

Least Impressive Conference: PAC-10. Not only did 3 of 6 lose in the first round (Oregon, USC, Arizona St.) but the supposed world beaters UCLA looked soft (squeaking by Texas A&M by 2), and Stanford looked beatable (managing to beat Marquette in OT). Washington St. turned out to look the strongest, which is totally bizarre and doesn't bode well for them. The PAC is wack!

Interesting Development:
Big East ended up being better than ACC. I've been saying the Big East was weak this year, but I had no idea that the ACC was even weaker (UNC is the only legit contender still around, and they don't play defense). Head-to-head, Big East teams beat ACC teams in key spots, namely 'Nova (8th in BE) over Clemson (3rd in ACC), and WVU (HUGGIE BEAR!) over Duke on Saturday.

Most Satisfying Upset:
On the flipside, Georgetown's loss to Davidson (for the record, my brother-in-law coined the phrase "Davidson beats Goliath" before CBS did). I've been saying for months (to anyone who whould listen) that Georgetown is overrated. WHY DIDN'T YOU LISTEN? (I also said Villanova shouldn't be in it, and here they are.) And once again, how many John Thompsons and Patrick Ewings to you expect us to endure?

My thoughts about Dickie V. Okay, I know he's turned into an unbearable buffoon, but I blame that on ESPN more than anything else. I still think Vitale's enthusiasm for the game is second to none, and his knowledge of it excellent, however ESPN encourages him to be an annoying caricature of himself. Instead of giving him a forum to be a top analyst, they only allow him to spew nonsensical catchphrases for a few minutes a day; instead of showcasing his knowledge, they ridicule him on highlight shows by showing pictures of him wearing a Cinderella dress. This is just more proof that ESPN is now completely focused on entertainment and not sports, and it's a shame. I would love it if he told them to fuck themselves (preferably live, on the air) and got a job with CBS or FOX or someone else.

Bracket Buster Bluth:
That would have been the name of my entry, had I officially done one. Overall, my fake-bracket is surprisingly okay, with 11/16 and all Final Four teams still around (Tennessee, Wisconsin, UCLA, Memphis).

The Madness will continue in earnest on Thursday night, and I'm happy to have someone still in it to root for (but for how long, FOR HOW LONG?). As for Friday night's Villanova/Kansas matchup, I believe this 'Cats team will scratch away until the bitter end, so let's just hope that the Jayhawks once again decide to crap out early. All I can say for sure is that there will be a lot of drinking.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

DRINKY DRINKY: WORTHINGTON'S WHITE SHIELD

For weeks I've been meaning to go to the beer store to get beer. I even made it there last week, but they were having some sort of concert and the parking lot was full up and I wasn't about to abandon my car at the traffic light, just for some beer (their selection isn't that good). I finally got there today with the full intention of buying some of the best German Beers know to man, since Germania is just around the corner from SW France and all. Well they didn't have any of the 22 bestest Germans, but they did have number 23: It's in the tasting queue. That's a phrase that I think I'll start using more...the "tasting queue." I don't have an alcohol problem, I have a tasting queue and being that it's a "queue" you've got to make sure that things keep moving.

Anyway, enough blahblah, we're here to discuss a beer. William Worthington's White Shield to be exact. A Coors Brewers Ltd. production (macrobrewers make baby Jesus cry). I realized this after I got home, actually after I started reading the ratebeer review (where it was ominously marked MolsonCoors) that Pete Coors had his slimy hands in this before I swilled it. The media copy is great, if you're into that kind of shit:

Defiant survivor of 1820s IPA tradition, when only the most flavoursome beers (the Silver Bullet would've been well-dead before the lines were cast in Bristol) endured the arduous voyage round the Cape of Good Hope. White Shield is the bottled live beer that matures with age.

It goes on like that for another 20 lines or so, proving once again that good beer is what the marketers tell us. Ok, ok, I critique, but I love. I really do like this beer (I liked it more before I knew it was a MolsonCoorsFuckingMacroTwuntBeer). You kind of hope that the mother company didn't have a hand in the final product. I do like it. It's not a bitter as many IPA's (which is good because it's not really hot enough here today for IPAs). It has flavour out the arse, although as time passes (and the beer warms) it's getting sweeter. Regardless, it's better than any other beer that I've ever tasted by MolsonCoors by miles. and that's what counts at the end of the day, isn't it?

I do like the bottle-conditioning. I like that when you pour it into a pint glass, a bunch of yeast falls out too. I like that it's not the normal beer I drink during the week (I'm quite sick of Stella and Carlsberg). It's got flavor. Something that is unknown to beer (almost all beer, including the macroimports) in France.

You will not read that it gives has a good head. You will not read the colour of the product. You will not read that there were hints of cinnamon and anis and fucking lavender. You'll drink it because we at Open Hockey, your objective superiors, say that you will drink it. Or you'll drink it because it's good. Whatever works for you.

This product or service receives the Open Hockey stamp of approval. White Shield: I don't mind the taste of it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

DON'T YOU HATE PANTS? BOND GIRL EDITION

This is Olga Kurylenko, who will be starring in the new 007 film with the staggeringly obtuse title Quantum of Solace. That sounds like an awful Cinemax soft porn movie.

Regardless, Olga hates pants. Don't believe me? There's more proof here. But there's more to her besides lingerie. This is from Olga's profile on my favorite Russian bride website
:

I like these kinds of music: disco, pop, electro
My favorite cuisine: Russian, Italian
I like these physical activities: swimming, billiard, large tennis
More about me: Careful, with excellent(different) sense of humour. Very much I like to learn a lot of new, to travel. And flew to me very much it is pleasant to have fun with the friends in clubs. In soul kind, but I like and to bite.
My perception of an ideal relationship: The man of my dream should be courageous, but in too time romantic. He(it) should have good sense of humour, and as sharp mind(wit). To me the man which is necessary all world would present me and has made me by his(its) queen. It would be desirable to feel tenderness, care and caress.The man, which will understand me also of signs such what I is. I want simply to like and to be happy.

Well put, Olga. (Might be true.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WRIST SHOTS: BATTLE FOR THE ATLANTIC!

This is what my latest Devils Dispatch email is dramatically calling the final stretch. With only 8 points separating the bottom team from the top (ignoring the Islanders, of course), we haven't seen a battle for the Atlantic this huge since the Spanish Armada clashed with the British in 1588. And we all know how that turned out, with the Spaniards being kicked out of the pantry.

It starts tonight with the Rangers at the ROCK. The Devils haven't been able to figure out the Blueshirts this season, losing all 5 so far. Here's the breakdown of the interdivisional games left for the four teams still in the hunt.

New Jersey (9 of 10 remaining games): NYR, NYI, @PIT, PIT, @NYR, PHI, @NYI, @PHI, NYR
N.Y. Rangers (9/9): @NJ ,@PHI ,PHI, NJ, @PIT, PIT, @NYI, NYI, @NJ
Pittsburgh: (8/9): NJ, @NYI, @NJ, NYI, NYR, @NYR, PHI, @PHI
Philadelphia: (8/8): NYR, NYI, @NYR, @NJ, @NYI, @PIT, NJ, PIT

For the Devils, the main team in their way of the division crown is the Pittsburgh Crosbys. It remains to be seen when he will be back to save hockey once again, hopefully it will be on the game of the week on NBC: NOTHING BUT CROSBY! For the Rangers, the biggest obstacle is, as always, the Rangers. Oh, and phuck the Flyers. I really don't want to see them and Danielle's -30 plus/minus in the playoffs.

As for the rest of the Wales . . . looking at the standings a few weeks ago, you could assume that Florida was dead, losing 8 of 10 and sinking like a dead marlin. But with wins in their last 7 (including two in OT) they are suddenly in the playoff race? Though it's probably too little too late, I suppose it's great for the fans. But I hate how teams can go on massive losing streaks, play horrible hockey for months on end, and still be right in the postseason hunt. Philthy has come back from the dead at least 4 times this season; the Rangers lost 8 of 10 in January, and then won 10 of 13 last month to continue their rollercoaster ride; Buffalo has been listless for the first 3/4 of the season, including a 10 game winless streak, go a mediocre 9-11 since the beginning of February, then win 2 lopsided games this past weekend (vs. CAR and @TOR), and they're right back in it! It's absurd. Why go out there and bust your buns every night? Just have a good month or two, and you're fine! (At least in the Wales, where most of the teams can't get out of their own way.) As I've said before, the point system is fatally flawed, and it's merely rewarding mediocrity. (Don't even get me started with Edmonton and all the points they've gotten from the skills competition shootout.)

I'll close this out with some Marty, who doesn't get enough recognition. This photo is from the new "My NHL, My Cup" promotional ads. Why is everything is "my", from My Yahoo to MyFox? Oh, so you watched your team win the Cup. What did YOU do?



I may start to sound like a homer here, but I don't care. Last Saturday afternoon in a 4-2 win in Colorado, en route to his 40th win Marty made some ridiculous saves. While the chicken wing block (0:24) was nice, none was quite as fun to watch as the stick save from behind his back (1:13 in, 14:15 left in the 2nd).



Of course, the NHL Video highlight reel absolutely sucks (why can't these jackasses make quality video available?), so here's the Top 10 Saves of the Week (check out #3 at the 3:00 mark).


Yes, it's fun to watch Marty. And afterwards he humbly said, "I got lucky on a few of those." How can you hate the guy? He's the exact opposite of Patrick Roy, whose giant inflated head didn't even fit in his helmet.

GOALS OF THE YEAR: FOLLOW THE BOUNCING PUCK (3/18/2008)

It's easy for me to follow it, not so easy for Toskala.

This happened at the Leaves/Isles game at the Mausoleum last night. I saw the replay on MSG and just found it on YouTube: it's the LONGEST GOAL EVER.



"Talk about a bad infield!" Great call by MSG analyst Billy Jaffe.

Of course, the PK-clearing-attempt-turned-shorthanded-goal (Davison's first as an Islander) was the team's only goal in a 3-1 loss as they play out the string.

Toskala gives up a 197 foot goal [YouTube]

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

U2 FOR TUESDAY: "U2 3D" MOVIE REVIEW

(I was going to post this yesterday, appropriately on St. Patrick's Day, but never got around to it. Such is the nature of this blog.)

I saw the U2 3D movie at the local IMAX Theater over the weekend, billed as the first live-action 3D concert movie ever made. In a word, it was phenomenal. The combination of the stunning 3D effects, the incredible sound, and the massive IMAX screen made it a totally immersing experience. Add to this the uncanny ability of a band like U2 to make even the most massive stadium feel intimate, and they've created an incredibly enjoyable concert movie that is a visual and a technological masterpiece.

I've seen U2 in concert six times (more than any other band) dating back to the 1985 Unforgettable Fire and 1987 Joshua Tree tours, and as recently as the 2005 Vertigo tour, and they have never failed to put on a fantastic show. It was during three shows on the South American leg of the latter that this concert footage was shot, and the high definition film (nicely transferred to IMAX format) contains 90 minutes of highlights of the band performing on stage with zero filler. Smoothly interspersing shots of U2 and the enthusiastic crowd, it gives the viewer a sense of what attending an actual U2 concert is like, and you've got better than the best seats in the house.

THE 3D EFFECTS. I'm not sure exactly how the stereoscopic cameras used by the 3ality Digital team work, but when the finished product is viewed (using giant, dorky glasses that even Bono's "The Fly" character would reject) the result is stunning. The members of U2 really do jump off the screen and seem to extend beyond its borders during the concert. And I know it sounds corny, but when the camera angle is placed right above the shoulders of the concertgoers, you actually feel like you're sitting in the crowd. Overall the 3D effect gives a remarkable illusion of depth, especially as the crowd bounces, waves their arms, and holds their cameras up in the air.

THE SOUND. The IMAX theater quite possibly has the best sound system of any theater I've ever been in. You feel the bass thump before you even enter the room, the music and ambient crowd noise is dynamically reproduced, and the way the directional speakers are mixed to follow the action on the screen is very affecting. At one point during "Sunday Bloody Sunday", the crowd sound is completely removed, focusing on just the band and Bono's vocals in the front speakers (as he walks towards the viewer) and Edge's vocals in the rear--the result is chill inducing. They even isolate some audience members' reactions and singing in spots to add a personal touch.

THE VISUALS. The compiled concert footage is shot from every conceivable angle: from right in front of the performers, numerous positions in the crowd, above Larry's drum kit, at the end of Adam's bass guitar neck, right in Bono's face. But it never feels gimmicky, and is edited to flow rather well with each song, unlike most headache-inducing jump-cut music videos. During "The Fly" they even added some of the words and graphics that appear on the video screens in the stadium to the visual mix, and they pop dazzingly before your eyes. I'll say one more thing: for a band that's 30 years into its career, the four members are remarkably well preserved and don't look bad at all (in other words, the opposite of the Stones).

Even if you're not a U2 fan I think you should check out this thrilling, first-of-its-kind live-action 3D film experience, as it doesn't miss a note. (Really, you have to go see it, I hear it's not doing well.) It actually made me want to go to another concert--as long as it's taking place in the comfort of a theater, that is. I have a feeling that a lot more concert films are going to be made this way.

Songlist: "Vertigo", "Beautiful Day", "New Year's Day", "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own", "Love And Peace Or Else", "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "Bullet The Blue Sky", "Miss Sarajevo", "Pride (In The Name Of Love)", "Where The Streets Have No Name", "One", "The Fly", "With Or Without You" (end credits - "Yahweh").


U3 in 2D: Kerry, Jeff and Jen sporting some really dorky 3D glasses

Fan reviews on official U2 site

Monday, March 17, 2008

NOVA GOING TO THE DANCE (ALONG WITH 63 OTHER TEAMS)

I'm shocked. And stunned. I'm shocked AND stunned.

Villanova, my alma mater, is in the NCAA tournament. They got a #12 seed and will play #5 Clemson in Tampa (looks like I picked the wrong month to visit Florida). And they're playing on Good Friday, just as God intended. I couldn't be happier because I have something to root for, and once they inevitably get ousted, I can go back to rooting for Georgetown and Duke to lose.

After taking a look at the bracket, here are my gut reactions (and dumb jokes):

Overseeded: Vanderbilt, Oklahoma, Duke, Georgetown (yes, I knew Pitt was going to beat them in the Big East final--so there.)
Underseeded: Butler, Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee (who I really thought would be the 4th #1 seed).
WTF Are They Doing Here? Oregon, Kentucky (who was awful this year; back in February they only scored 11 points in the first half en route to a 41 point asskicking by Vandy).
Team That Got In Simply Because I Blognosticated They Wouldn't: Villanova. Seriously, I did not see 8 teams from the Big East getting in. Though I'm happy the last one in ended up being my school, I don't agree with it. (Again, great work Joe "Bracketology" Lunardi for not getting anything right.)
Best Team Name: The Retrievers of University of Maryland-Baltimore County. As a tribute to "The Wire" I think they should change their name to the Hoppers. Win one for Omar!
#15 Seed I Really Want To See Win: Belmont (over Duke) on the first day.
Upset I Actually Think Will Happen: #13 Winthrop over #4 Washington State.
Team That I'm Never Picking Ever Again Because They Always Kill My Bracket: Gonzaga.
Team With The Best Chant: Austin Peay's "LET'S GO PEAY!" (Get it? You will once you've had too much to drink.)
Most Overrepresented Team Name: The Wildcats of Villanova/Arizona/Kentucky/Kansas State. Oddly enough all four were at-large bubble teams.
Team That Stephen Colbert Is Probably Rooting For: American Eagles. Their colors? Red, white and blue. Duh.
Storyline That I Honestly Know Nothing About: O.J. Mayo vs. Michael Beasley. You see this everywhere regarding the USC/K-State game. I'll have to Google or Wiki it or something. (UPDATE: I guess these are the two freshman everyone considers to be the best in the NCAA, and both are assumed to be skipping school for the NBA after this season. Whatever. Fuck the NBA.)
Teams That Should Just Play Chess Against Each Other: Stanford vs. Cornell.
Team/Player I'm Fucking Sick Of Hearing About: North Carolina and Tyler Hansbrough.
Team Everyone Is Picking To Lose Early (And They're Right): Kansas. The Jayhawks bowing out early is an annual right of spring. It just wouldn't feel right otherwise.
Team That I Have No Opinion About: Kent State.
Team Everyone Is Picking To Lose But I Think Are Going To Win It All: Memphis.

UPDATE: I just found out that Villanova plays at 9:40 PM on Good Friday. That's going to be a looooong day. I hope Bob Hyland's Sports Page has enough beer.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

BREAKING: CHRIS PRONGER IS STILL A PSYCHOPATHIC ASSHOLE

At least the league listened to me and suspended Pronger for 8 games; I can live with that. I think it should have been more than 10, but 8 says, "You're a stupid, sorry motherfucker and we hope you rot in hell," while at the same time saying that Pronger hasn't reached Chris Simon levels of goonery.

Meanwhile up in the nether regions of NY State, the Sabres managed 5 of a possible 8 points this week. It could have been worse (how's that for optimism?). They also beat up good on the Hurricanes and the [fallen] Leaves on two consecutive nights. I just wish I felt more confident that this team could do that each and every night. At any moment they could easily lose 7-2 to some shit-ass team.

Anyway, some good news: Bernier has 8 points and a +2 in 8 games with the Sabres. I watched the second half of the bitch-slapping of Toronto last night...It never gets old to see the Leaves lose to the Sabres. They are only 1 point out with 9 games left (although both Boston and Philly have a game in hand).
The bad news, of course, is that they play pretty strong teams between now and the 30th. Montreal, Ottawa twice and Boston on the last day which could turn out to be a playoff for the final spot. But the very good news is that the game on the 30th is at 12:30EST, which means it'll be on sopcast (or ESPN360 for a sum) at 6:30CET! FUCKING BRILLIANT. I hope it counts for something (or if it doesn't count it means that the Sabres have clinched already).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

GARY BETTMAN SUCKS: THE DEFINITIVE EDITION

Update: I just read Deadspin's NHL Closer on the subject and [while I generally think he's got a good grasp] couldn't agree less with Wyshynski's conclusions on the subject. His (non) smoking bullet is that Pronger is "looking up ice" at the time. Bullshit! Pronger is turning, but is clearly aware of where his stomping skate is going (and he's looking at the leg as he does it)...Regardless, this isn't deep-snow hiking, you don't have to stomp the ice off of your boots when you're playing in an NHL arena.

We all know that Bettman sucks. It's been proven time and again, but the events that have transpired with Chris Pronger this week bring Bettman's reign of terror to a new low. For those of you not in the know, Pronger skate-stomped Justin Kesler's leg during the second period of the Vancover/Ducks game on Wednesday night.

Bettman's lap poodle, Colin Campbell, "reviewed" the data (which, knowing this fucking league required him to see "Chris Pronger" as the subject and dismiss out of hand, since Pronger is a "superstar") and decided to not pass down any suspension. Now here's the thing, the original [public] video from Thursday morning didn't focus on the event and it was hard to be sure that Pronger got calf (you can see he tries, but let's say that it wasn't 100% conclusive). However, sometime Thursday evening (after the league handed down the non-suspension), a new video was released (my understanding is that it was TSN that first showed this video and has been covering this a lot since Thursday):


This video seems to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Now a lot of people are calling for a suspension that is on par with Chris Simon's 30 games for his Ruutu-stomp. This is not the same. Pronger is a dirty-as-shit player, who deserves anything he gets (I love the fact that he's got a broken jaw), but this incident is different in at least two ways: 1. Pronger has never done a Simonesque two-hander to the head of an opponent. He hits with his elbows up. He aims to injure. But there's a difference between headhunting and playing baseball. 2. Simon did it away from the play, as both players were skating to the bench. He purposefully moved Ruutu's leg so he would be able to stomp on it, with the intent to break Ruutu's leg. Pronger got tied up with Kesler and stomped him in the "heat of the moment."

Simon got 30 games. I think Pronger deserves at the very least 10-15 games. 20 would probably be justified based on his repeat-offender status and known goonishness throughout the league.

According to TSN the league is re-reviewing this incident, which brings us to another point. The league made a decision on Thursday morning. Did they have the second video angle and ignored it? Or did they not have it, meaning that they made a decision without having all the evidence on hand? The optimist in me wants to say that they just pulled the trigger quick, without getting all the evidence. They just wanted to handle this quickly and did it in a non-professional manner. The cynic in me believes that they had this video and chose to ignore it because it is Pronger. They're only re-reviewing because of the public outcry. Look for a couple of minutes at the comments on the TSN story...I bet that less than 1% of the people support the league or Pronger in this case. And this is Canada - the bread and butter of the NHL's support.

I've just one little comment: FUCK GARY BETTMAN. He's done nothing but consistently ruin this sport that we love so.

Even though Jeff thinks that the Sabres are going to be playing golf in a few weeks, I still am holding out hope. They won 7-1 last night against the fucking 'Canes. They're only 2 points away from 8th. Here's the thing that is so goddamn fucking frustrating: Inconsistency. They lose 7-3, then they come back and win 7-1. They'll play excellent hockey (it looks like last night's game was quite good), and then they'll do fuck-all. I have a bad feeling about tonight's game in Toronto. If they miss the playoffs it'll be because of this inconsistency. They have the skill, they have the speed, but they just don't manage to play the same game every night.

LET'S GO BUFF-A-LO!