Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Should the NHL Ban Fighting Entirely?

So far this summer the hockey community has seen Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak pass away, Boogaard from an overdose of painkillers, Rypien by suicide, and Belak (unconfirmed at this point) also from an overdose of painkillers.  All three have one thing in common:
  • Belak - 136 fights since 1996-1997 (9 per year includes AHL, Juniors); 549gp, 8g, 25a career (NHL only)
  • Rypien - 97 fights since 2002-2003 (11 per year includes AHL, Juniors); 119gp 9g, 7a career (NHL only)
  • Boogaard - 184 fights since 1999-2000 (15 per year includes AHL, Juniors); 277gp, 3g, 13a career (NHL only)
Let's make one thing clear though, the deaths of these players cannot directly be related to fighting.  Rypien had a history of mental illness, I have no idea if Boogaard was taking painkillers for fight induced injuries or just the immense wear and tear hockey puts on ones body, and Belak's cause of death isn't even confirmed at this point.

But there's another thing that should be clear.  These guys were on the ice for one reason and one reason only, to drop the gloves and get hit in the head while hitting someone else in the head.  Regardless of whether or not that played a part in the deaths of the three enforcers, science has shown that such things take a devastating toll on the brain.

With those effects (rightly or not) so clearly laid out for us with the deaths of Boogaard, Rypien, and Belak, the call to ban fighting is once again gaining strength.  After all, this isn't guys that suffered illegal hits, it's guys that engaged in a penalized, but widely accepted activity.  The problem with attempting to ban fighting is that hockey is a physical, emotional sport.  There are going to be scrums and fights regardless of how steep the penalty is.  And that problem is magnified by the fact that the NHL's disciplnary system is so severely broken.  Because let's be honest, this was 100% justified.  Someone needed to make Matt Cooke answer for his consistently dirty actions because the NHL refused to:

So the question becomes where to draw the line?  In a perfect world, the NHL would suspend for dirty hits, and fighting would be largely unnecessary because dirty play would be meted out.  The instigator rule would (presumably) actually do what it's supposed to and take away a lot of the obnoxious staged fights that occur.  But we're so far from that hockey utopia it isn't even funny.

My goal would be to eliminate the enforcer role through other measures, and I would do that by instituting a "maximum fights per year" rule.  After five fights in a season (including pre- and post-season), a player is suspended until the beginning of the next season.  And because that opens the doors to guys gooning up on each other towards the end of the season, I would also institute a rule that says if a player fights in his team's last game of the season (again be it regular season or playoffs), then he's missing the first five games of the following season.  We'll call that one the Milan Lucic Rule.

It won't take the enforcer role completely out of hockey, but it will force them to focus more on the actual hockey than the fisticuffs which I think is the issue at hand.  And more importantly it will help save their heads.

Sports: The Fuck You Moment

Respect is a term that's thrown around a lot in sports, especially if you stick a mic in front of a player or coach before a game.  All they'll talk about in regards to their opponent is how good their opponent is and how much they respect them.  You never want to give a guy or a team bulletin board material via some stupid comment as motivation.  On the ice/field/diamond/court though?  Fuck respect.

Of course you always want to be aware of your opponent's skills, what they can do and what they're going to try to do, but I don't consider that respect so much as I consider it good situational awareness.  I think by and large, respect during a game is a bad thing.  It leads to giving your opponent too much space, too much time, leads to pitching around them, and through those things it often leads to losses.

I played hockey that way for two years.  In 2009 I started playing inline, my first experience playing any hockey of any kind.  With my rawness came a bit of trepidation and hesitance, I knew that I lacked the intelligence and experience (and a lot of the skills) that most everyone around me had through years of playing the game, whether it was on ice, tile, or pavement.  I did okay for those two years putting in 4 goals and 17 assists in 17 games, and 6 goals and 19 assists in 15 games (including playoffs), but my game didn't hit that next level until I stopped respecting the players around me so damn much.

As my point totals would suggest, I was definitely a pass-first type of player balking at chances to shoot and stickhandle in favor of dumping the puck to a more experienced teammate.  But I slowly began to realize two things; one that my unique combination of strength and small stature (5'10", 140 pounds) made me fast and agile without giving up any of the reach that smaller players do; and that passing the puck was not at all utilizing those skills.

That was my big "fuck you moment" when I looked at the other players on the ice and realized, "I'm faster than you, I can turn quicker, and I can sure as hell work harder...fuck you.   Less passing, more shooting and dangling.  No space to maneuver?  I'll make my own fucking space."  Instead of looking up, seeing a defenseman and looking for a place to drop the puck, I'd look up and wonder how I could make that guy look like an idiot.  The second I started treating myself like one of the best players on the tile was the second my game took off.  I scored a bunch of goals skating one on four with teammates changing because I knew I could start and stop so much faster than everyone else that they couldn't touch me.  I'd hold onto the puck longer because I knew the other team would get pissed off and come after me, leaving teammates wide open.  I killed large chunks of penalties just skating around with the puck because no one was good enough to take it from me.  It showed in my points as I more than doubled my previous combined goal totals with 21 goals and 28 assists in 17 games.

And the best part is, it made me cocky enough to carry that mentality into the fall session when I'd be mixed in with A and B league players (I played C-league).  I remember cutting hard to the net and scoring one game despite the blade of a stick wrapped around my torso.  I thought to myself, "what the hell was he doing...he's an A player, he doesn't need to play defense like that...wait...he can't stop me either."  That's what makes Vanek's game winner against Philly so mesmerizing, he looked up and said, "fuck you, you guys suck and I don't."


Why I Don't Really Play Video Games Anymore OR The Problem With Modern Gaming

I'll come up with five or so games that I've played fairly recently:

Star Trek: Starfleet Command II - 2000
Star Trek: Starfleet Command III - 2002
Diable II: Lord of Destruction - 2001
The Killing Floor - 2009
Bioshock- 2007

And the newest of those is actually a mod of a game that was made in 2004 (Unreal Tournament).  In this entry, I'll illustrate why, and (hopefully) at the same time point out what's wrong with modern gaming.

1). I Don't Have the Money OR Fuck $60 Games and Subscription Fees.

I remember when new games were only $30.  Now they're double that and they offer you even less.  (Fuck I feel old saying that.)  I also remember when MMORPGs didn't force you to pay exorbitant subscription fees, or when single player games didn't mandate a constant internet connection to track achievements (more on them later).  I also remember when games had replay value, which is why I have 65 hours into TKF and probably around 20,000 (conservative estimate) into Diablo II and haven't touched Bioshock (admittedly a great game) in a year.

2). I Suck at Games OR Learning Curves are Too Steep

Console games lost me when they introduced two joysticks.  At that point it just became easier to just go outside and find substitutes for sports and FPS games.  (Or break out the N64.)  The whole point of gaming for a lot of people is because they're too shitty at those things in real life.  Now consoles want to introduce an insane amount of commands and combos that is a hundred times harder than building muscle memory playing a sport.  What the hell?

3). I Don't Have the Time or Attention Span Anymore

This one's just personal.  I don't have the desire to put in the effort to level a MMORPG character or to continually play a shooter so I can match up with the rich twelve year olds that can play all day every day.  The great thing about the games I play is that missions are short and I can generally save whenever I want or quit in the middle of something without feeling like I just destroyed a major operation.

4). Games Gave Enough Options So That Most Players Could Find Something They Were Good At

I hope hardcore X-Box enthusiasts know that Halo basically neutered FPS gaming in way oversimplifying the weaponry.  Perfect Dark (64) has close to 100 weapons.  Even if you suck at video games you can probably find something that suits you well.  The first Halo game had about ten and they were the most watered down options, assault rifle, pistol, rocket launcher, shotgun, sniper rifle, and a few alien weapons of no creativity.  It's like playing a Mario Kart game where all you can use is green shells.  Is it too much to ask for some proximity mines?

5). Over Emphasis on Graphics

This one's kind of obvious and you can gripe about it to some degree with every game since the very first Nintendo.  I get that developers want to show off how real they can make things look, but there's a reason no subsequent Bond game has been able to touch Goldeneye.  Gameplay matters.

Gaming and Nerdiness

This is a conversation topic that's been making the rounds through me and my friends as of late: are video games still inherently nerdy?  If no, are certain types of games still nerdy?  Is gaming more mainstream nowadays or does it just seem more mainstream?

The inspiration for the topic was a tweet by a celebrity that I follow (okay, a porn star) that was to the effect of "playing COD, tee hee, I'm so nerdy."  My internal response was swift and angry.


My general thoughts on the topic are that I'm sick of these FPS (first person shooter) and Madden players staking a claim to something they (as meatheads and jocks) have always ridiculed others for.  (And yes that is only an indictment on FPS and Madden players that typify those qualities.  Calm the fuck down FPS and Madden playing friends)  My girlfriend had a similar, albeit more concise and cutting response, "nerds are supposed to be smart and most gamers I know are fucking idiots who can't do anything for themselves."  Touche girlfriend.

Another friend of mine posited that certain games still retain nerdy qualities, most notably MMORPGs (massive multiplayer online role playing games).  But at the same time, everybody plays World of Warcraft.  Or that's what their commercials would have you believe, a crafty campaign to remove the stigma of playing such games by highlighting celebrities that (may or may not) play them.

I have conflicting feelings about what I want the truth to be.  On one hand, there's a desire for vindication, for being a little less of a minority, and on the other there's a desire to retain some uniqueness by being a part of such a group.  I think I can fall in line with the former considering that of the last four games I've played, two of them are Star Trek games made pre-2002, one is a Blizzard game made in 2000 and updated in 2001, and the other is a FPS mod that no one's ever heard of.  I'm going to end up being a nerd either way.

It has it's perks.

Depending on how weak your definition of a computer game is (cough*farmville*cough), it's pretty fair to say that virtually everyone can be considered a "gamer" these days.  It's become about as nerdy as regular internet use is.  As a former Starcraft Junkie, semi current Diablo II junkie, lover of Star Trek games and someone who was once ranked in the top 100 in the country (and top 400 in the world) at Mario Kart Double Dash, I have my fair share of experience with video games.  Even though they've fallen out of favor with me (another entry entirely), I still consider myself a bit of a gamer and a nerd at heart.  That's enough for me.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Arnett Tanner Wants to Die: Now Available for Kindle


30 Day Book Challenge in One Day Because Fuck You

I like these 30 day challenge things because I like talking about myself...which is kind of the entire point of this blog.

1 - Your Favorite Book
This is a tough one because there are scores of good books and I try not to think in absolutes.  I rather liked Sphere by Michael Crichton a lot, as well as the Harry Potter series.

2 - Your Least Favorite Book
One I haven't read.  Who reads books they don't like?  Oh wait...high schoolers.  I thought A Tale of Two Cities royally sucked.  Fuck tenth grade.

3 - A Book That Surprised You
I'll go with a genre.  A lot of comedians' biographies and autobiographies are really boring.

4 - A Book That Reminds You of Home
No Idea

5 - A Non-Fiction Book You Enjoyed
This isn't hard since I read non-fiction all the time.  My Life in Baseball by Ty Cobb, and William Shatner's autobiography are great.

6 - A Book That Makes You Cry
I don't often cry at books which probably comes from being a writer and being steeped in tragedy so often.  Stone Fox made me cry when I was a kid.

7 - A Book That's Hard to Read
I mentioned A Tale of Two Cities?

8 - An Unpopular Book You Believe Should Be A Best Seller
All of mine.  Hey if Stephenie Meyer can do it...

9 - A Book You've Read More than Once
All the Harry Potter Novels, Sphere, Congo, and All of Mine.

10 - The First Novel You Remember Reading
Probably Goosebumps books as a kid.  Are those novels?

11 - The Book that Made You Fall in Love With Reading
That's a tough one, I don't know that there is one.  Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, which I'm reading now, makes me fall in love with writing repeatedly.  I can see why it's considered to be one of the greatest works of all time.

12 - A book so emotionally draining you couldn't complete it, or had to set it aside for a moment.
All the books I read in school that bored me to tears.

13 - Favorite Childhood Book
Either From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg or My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.  Both are about running away and hiding out, the former in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the latter in the Catskill mountains.  Both are enchanting.

14 - Book that should be on HS/College Required Reading Lists
Anything that's ever been banned at one point.  The Catcher in the Rye, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and a few by Truman Capote come to mind.

15 - Favorite Book Dealing with Foriegn Culture
Do Star Trek books count?

16 - Favorite Book-Turned-Movie
While I like the Harry Potter series better, I feel the movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings trilogy were better done.

17 - Book-Turned-Movie that was Completely Desecrated
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Yuck.

18 - A Book You Can't Find on Shelves Anymore that You Love
All Star Trek Books.

19 - A Book that Changed Your Mind About a Particular Subject
Gene Roddenberry's biography.  What an asshat.

20 - A Book You Would Recommend to an Ignorant/Racist/Close-Minded Person
Any book I can beat them with.

21 - A Guilty Pleasure Book
Star Trek Books for sure.  Some of them aren't so well written, but they're entertaining.

22 - Favorite Series
Going with Star Trek again.

23 - Favorite Romance Novel
Skankarella, my own.

24 - A Book You Later Found Out the Author Lied About
Wtf?  How the hell would I know?

25 - Favorite Autobiographical/Biographical Book
William Shatner's Autobiography

26 - A Book You Wish Would Be Written
It was Kissing Ellen King, one of my own.  Never thought I'd start it, let alone finish.

27 - A Book You Would Write if You Had the Resources
Don't care if I have them or not, I'm writing Taro Says.

28 - A Book You Wish You'd Never Read
A Tale of Two Cities.  Fuck you Charles.

29 - An Author You Won't Read
Hellooooo Stephenie...

30 - An Author You Will Read Whatever they Put Out
William Shatner and his (Star Trek novel) ghost writers, the Reeves-Stevenses

How I Imagine My Characters' Appearances

I figured, between working on different projects, I'd go through the big three that I have published at the moment (The Chosen, Skankarella, and Arnett Tanner Wants to Die) and give visuals for each of the major characters within.  This isn't so much about what actors would play them as it is simply about how they look physically (even if my wording might suggest otherwise).

Jason Behr as Ender (The Chosen)
It's no secret that Ender shares a lot of my own characteristics, so the ideal part is someone fairly tall, dark haired, wiry, and of course pale.  Behr is probably a little old now, his Roswell days long behind him, but he fits the bill better than some of today's other young actors (notably Daniel Radcliffe and Shia Labeouf).

Enver Gjokaj as Evander (The Chosen)
 Though Gjokaj might also be a bit too old, I think with long hair the Dollhouse star would fit the bill perfectly.

This Girl (who is of age) as Ellie (The Chosen)

No name for this one, but when I started thinking up the physical description of Ellie, I thought of this photo from a relatively viral set online.

 Christopher Lee as Jareth (The Chosen)
I have Jareth coming in a bit younger than Lee, with an appearance in his forties, but it's hard not to imagine Lee when you've got an old cruel villain.

Patton Oswalt as Benedict (The Chosen)
Big, check.  Ugly, check.  Capable of being despicable?  Who knows, but Oswalt certainly looks the part of the rotund Benedict.

Tobin Bell as John Rider (The Chosen)
Tobin Bell is terrifying.

Krysta Kaos as Wraith (The Chosen)
The diminutive adult film star with black hair (instead of her trademark blue) fits perfectly.

Shirley Phelps Roper as Shirley Roper (Skankarella)
You all saw that coming, right?

Emilie de Ravin as (both) the 'Ugly' Stepsisters
She has the wonderful gift of looking both beautiful and malicious.  I wanted the stepsisters to be physically attractive, in part to show that actual beauty is found within.

Ellen Page as Madison Roper (Skankarella)
Though a few of her measurements might come up short, I can think of no one better to play the butchy femme Skankarella.

Kacey Bellamy as Julia Prince (Skankarella)

Who better to play the athletic Julia Prince than an actual athlete?

Daniel Franzese as Fagan Teresa (Skankarella)
Mean Girls was definitely on my mind when I wrote Fagan's character.

Mark McGuinn as Arnett Tanner (Arnett Tanner Wants to Die)
When I wrote Tanner's character, McGuinn's beatnik-y look was the direct inspiration.

Courtney Yates as Havoc Bentley (Arnett Tanner)
Gorgeous, uncomfortably thin, a little insane, no personal filter.  Courtney Yates is the direct inspiration for Havoc Bentley.

Adam Baldwin as Lars Hanson (Arnett Tanner)
When I need a big tough guy with a bit of a complexity to him, I think of Adam Baldwin.

Norbert Ackermann as Abraham Ackermann (Arnett Tanner)
Ackermann is based on one of my college professors, specifically, this one.

Jim Broadbent as Ange Sanderson (Arnett Tanner)
Just add a well groomed beard.

Jason Alexander as William Hudson (Arnett Tanner)
Short, bald, sniveling, I think Jason Alexander would do just fine.  Wallace Shawn would also work well.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Arnett Tanner Wants to Die Available for Purchase

Cover Art by Jeff Wozniak.
See more of Jeff's work at

Short Description:

In a world where death has been technologically and legally abolished and life is infinite, Arnett Tanner seeks an end to his existence.

Extended Description:

Medical and data storage technology have advanced to the point where people's consciousnesses can be downloaded and reintegrated into a new body after physical death, thus making immortality a reality. The United States government has gone one step further and mandated this immortality, requiring each citizen to regularly create personality backups in the event that they unexpectedly perish.

Arnett Tanner is an extremely intelligent man, and infamous for having performed the most suicides. He seeks an end to what he considers to be an unyielding torment in the continued mediocrity and monotony of never-ending life. He has become bored with the world, and is convinced that it tires of him as well.

Standing opposite Tanner is Lars Hanson, his Suicide Watch Officer who has been tasked with reconstructing the mental health of his patient. Lately his job description has degraded to keeping Tanner from trying to kill himself by any means necessary.

At his wits' end and under pressure from his superiors at the Death Watch Agency, Lars enrolls Tanner in an archaic and controversial form of therapy hoping that the trek into the past will appeal to Tanner's desire for an earlier time and succeed where the DWA's drug program could not.

As the eccentric therapist wades into Tanner's mind, pushing him towards certain conclusions the suicide cases begins to suspect that his SWO may have had ulterior motives for enrolling him in the sessions.
Kindle (Link coming shortly)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Upsets that Never Were of the Last 20 Years

People have such a boner for upsets in sports, I figured I'd do something a little different.  And no this won't be some sort of "lost rings" bullshit about teams that should have won championships and didn't.  This will be about teams that came this close in games or series in which they had no business competing.  It will be about heavy favorites that came this close to pissing away what should have been an easy win.

#11). 2001 World Series
Arizona Diamondbacks defeat New York Yankees 4 games to 3, outscoring them 37-14 in the process.

This was the last World Series I watched in full, mostly because I refused to watch another game until someone nuked the Yankees off the face of the planet.  They're like that douchebag coworker you might like if you only had to deal with them once in a while instead of all the fucking time.  The Yankees were clearly the inferior team in this series, evidenced by the fact that the Diamondbacks beat the ever loving shit out of them at home.  And you can't cop out and say the D-backs were only superior when they had Johnson or Schilling on the mound when the Yankees scored a max of 4 runs in a game all series.  I'm glad Mike Mussina got shelled in Game 1.  Eat a dick you sellout.

It's #11 because I think that it actually was an upset according to Vegas, but I'm too lazy to look it up.

#10). 2007 Super Bowl
Indianapolis Colts Defeat Chicago Bears 29-17

I don't think any sane person expected Rex Grossman to win a super bowl on a lucky team with an easy schedule, but IT ALMOST FUCKING HAPPENED!  For one quarter anyways.  Thanks to Devin Hester and a Peyton Manning interception, the Bears exited the first frame with a 14-6 lead.  And then everyone in the building remembered that the Bears' quarterback was Rex Grossman and it played out pretty predictably from there on out.

It's #10 because no one ever thought the Colts would actually piss away a Super Bowl to Rex Fucking Grossman.

#9). 1997 Super Bowl
Green Bay Packers Defeat New England Patriots 35-21

The Packers were favored by 14 heading into this game, but found themselves down early 14-10 to the Patriots, and later holding onto a slim 27-21 lead until Desmond Howard (another DH return man, what the fuck?) put the team on his back and returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a fuck you fatass  I remember watching this game and hating the Packers because they'd beaten my then beloved 49ers earlier in the playoffs.  When everyone loved Brett Favre, I fucking hated him.  Who was right all along?

It's #9 because winning by two touchdowns isn't exactly a close game.

#8). 1999 Stanley Cup Finals
Dallas Stars Defeat Buffalo Sabres 4 games to 2 (13g-9g)

An absolutely stacked team with two of the greatest forwards (Hull and Modano) and two top tier defensemen (Zubov and Sydor) needed a wonky goal in triple overtime to beat a team that was Dominik Hasek and a bunch of guys.  Dallas rolled through the west, picking up the top seed.  Buffalo was the 7th seed and had Dominik Hasek.  Dallas had Modano's 81 pts in 77 games and Hulls 32 goals in 60 games, not to mention Zubov's and Sydor's 51 and 48 points respectively.  Buffalo had Satan's 66 points, Peca's 56, and was led on defense by Jason Wolley and Alexei Zhitnik...and Dominik Hasek.  Yeah...

It's #8 because we'll never know what would have happened if overtime continued.

#7). 2004 Stanley Cup Finals
Tampa Bay Lightning Defeat Calgary Flames 4 games to 3 (13g to 14g)

Tampa Bay, the east's top seed found themselves staring down elimination in game six to the sixth seeded Calgary Flames.  It took a double overtime victory in that game just to extend the series and a one goal victory in game seven to clinch.  This game might have been rated higher if the Flames weren't a pretty good team in their own right.  They only finished twelve points below Tampa Bay playing in a brutal Northwest Division while Tampa Bay got to fuck their way through the NHL's sped division all year.  The teams were more evenly matched than their records indicated.

It's #7 because of what I just fucking said.

#6). 2004 Super Bowl
New England Patriots Defeat Carolina Panthers 32-29

Look, the Panthers were a good team in their own right, but the Patriots were a dynasty.  Plus they blew a 21-10 lead in the fourth quarter actually falling behind 22-21 at one point.  The Patriots might not have even been able to get off their last second field goal had Carolina kicker John Kasay not kicked the final kickoff out of bounds, setting the Patriots up on their own 40.  Luckily the Patriots would delight us all by actually blowing a game as a heavy favorite four years later.

It's #6 because I think the Vegas line was only 4 points or something.

#5). 2006 Stanley Cup
Buffalo Sabres Carolina Hurricanes Defeat Edmonton Oilers 4 games to 3 (19g-16g)

Where do I even begin with this one?  For starters, Edmonton was resigned to using their backup goalie for almost the entire series, a move that almost certainly cost them game one.  Carolina took a 2-0 series lead with a dominant shutout of Edmonton at home in game two only to blow that (and a 3-1 series lead) by returning the favor in a 4-0 loss in Edmonton in game 6.  Plus Carolina was a two seed and Edmonton was an eight seed.  You might think this is the very definition of my whole premise here, a vastly superior team nearly shitting the bed, but...

It's #5 because the above proves that Carolina was never that good to begin with.

#4). 2003 Stanley Cup
New Jersey Devils Defeat Anaheim Ducks 4 games to 3 (19g-12g)

Ahh, another juggernaut dynasty playing piss away the championship to an upstart team barely past the expansion phase.  It never gets old, does it?  All the usual suspects are there; the Devils were the east's second seed, the Ducks the west's seventh.  New Jersey was in their prime, and the Ducks were still in mid-adolescence.  What makes this series really interesting is that the Devils took a 2-0 series lead without letting Anaheim score a goal and then promptly forgot how to play hockey or something.  Even more interesting, in Carolina fashion, they completed a dominant performance to take a 3-2 series lead in game five, only to get their asses handed to them in game six.

It's # 4 because I didn't actually watch it, and J.S. Giguere played really well.

#3). 2000 Super Bowl
St. Louis Rams Defeat Tennessee Titans 23-16

Look, the Titans put together an awesome record, but they also needed an illegal play to defeat Rob Fucking Johnson in their wild card game.  Yes, the Titans had a good defense, and yes they were basically playing a home game in the nearby Georgia Dome...but the Rams were The Greatest Show on Turf...playing on Turf!  How the hell did they let the Titans get within one yard of the first Super Bowl to go to overtime?

It's #3 because the Rams were The Greatest Show on Fucking Turf.

#2). 1994 Stanley Cup Finals
New York Rangers Defeat Vancouver Canucks 4 games to 3 (21g-19g)

Enter the New York Rangers, led by Mark Messier, the East's top seed and the winner of the tough Atlantic Division.  Enter the Vancouver Canucks, led by Pavel Bure, the West's seventh seed and the second place finisher in the shitty Pacific Division which featured the 3rd, 4th, and 5th worst teams in the league.  After dropping game one, the Rangers take a 3-1 series lead, winning games two, three, and four by a combined 8 goals.  They'd so thoroughly creamed the Canucks, that they'd set a date for their victory parade.  Then the Canucks won games five and six by three goals apiece to bring the series to a game seven.  And what's more, the overrated Mark Messier and the New York Rangers were so fearful of losing, Adam Graves went out to goon Vancouver captain Trevor Linden in game six.  (Which almost backfired spectacularly as Linden nearly single-handedly Kariya-ed the Rangers in game seven.)  Only the 2006 Hurricanes might be more pathetic Stanley Cup Champions.

It's #2 because I still have difficulty wrapping my mind around #1.

#1). 2009 Super Bowl
Pittsburgh Steelers Defeat Arizona Cardinals 27-23

The 2008-2009 Arizona Cardinals were fucking terrible.  They went 9-7 in the regular season, winning six of those games against their joke of a division who was a combined 13-35.  They suffered blowout losses to the Jets (21 pts), Eagles (28 pts), Vikings (21 pts), and Patriots (40 pts) and won one game against a playoff team that had no business being a playoff team (Miami) and to top it all off, only scored one more point than they gave up.  They then proceeded to win three playoff games on Matt Ryan's inexperience, Jake Delhomme's inebriation, and Donovan McNabb's complete and utter inability to even form coherent sentences after the two minute warning.

While the Steelers weren't exactly a juggernaut, they won a better division that actually contained another playoff team (Baltimore) and compiled a 12-4 record in the process.  They then defeated two of the next three best teams in the AFC in San Diego and Baltimore to advance to the Super Bowl.

Then, in typical Steeler fashion they proceeded to play like they were the 9-7 joke of a team...and win anyways.  While the Steelers' awful performance can't hold a candle to Super Bowl XL, a game that no one still has any idea how they won, it was pretty awful.  The Cardinals outstripped them in virtually every statistical category.  Were it not for fatass crybaby James Harrison returning a pass that would've put the Cardinals up 14-10 at the half that instead swung the score to 17-7 in the Steelers' favor, the Cardinals might have walked out of Florida with a blowout victory (or at least a 30-20 victory).

The Steelers completely crapping the bed as a team that was so vastly superior to the Cardinals it was ridiculous easily deserves the number one ranking here.  You can tell how much of a shitstorm the game was by the MVP choice, when voters said, "fuck we have no idea, give it to a wide receiver."

I shouldn't complain too much though, I won $75 off the game.

It's #1 because I said so.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ozzy Lusth and Coach Wade Returning to Survivor

Rumors are all over the internet, originating from the Survivor Sucks site that the two returning castaways for the upcoming season of Survivor are Benjamin 'Coach' Wade, and Ozzy Lusth.  On one hand, I'm a little sick of returning players, but on the other, Nicaragua sucked so god damned bad, I can see why the producers want to hedge their bets with people they know will make for good TV.

Coach is and always has been entertaining so it will be a joy (albeit a cheap one) to watch him make an ass of himself for the third time.

I think Ozzy is an asshole.  Ironically in a season where the underlying theme was diversity and acceptance, Ozzy played the part of the stereotypical jock, bullying dorky fat kid Billy constantly and spearheading a campaign to throw a challenge so that his tribe could vote him out.  Being one of the most popular contestants ever, he's a perfect example of how good looking people and athletes get a free pass from society to act like pieces of shit.  I wouldn't be disappointed to see Russell Hantz style tears and an early exit from the asshole of assholes, but he's probably too good at challenges for that to happen.

A Thing About Happiness

Recently there was a article about our flawed perceptions of happiness.  The gist of it is that happiness is so poorly defined we're often aspiring towards something we have a very poor definition of (that may not even exist anyways).  I think we envision happiness with too many absolutes, one of those being our "happiest day of our lives."

There's supposed to be some magical moment that elevates one day above the rest, but those are so few and far between.  Mostly, I think the best days are the ones that exceed expectations in an endearing way.  The majority of us don't win the lottery or have a threesome with supermodels.  Plus the things that do inspire those feelings in us are not so concentrated into a single day.  Typically there's a long period of time where things are going fairly well.  It's better, but it's less apparent.

If you asked me a year ago to pick out my best day, there were two in particular that I'd chose from; one a day at the beach with my then-girlfriend, the longest time we'd ever gotten to spend with each other, and the other my first party in the plaza in Buffalo for game one of the Boston series.

The former was great because it actually managed to live up to my (very high) expectations and the latter was great because it emphatically crushed the lingering doubts that driving to Buffalo (two nights before having to drive back again) was a bad idea.  I didn't win a ton of money or fuck a model, or anything like that, they were just idyllic nights spent with good people.

But like I said, one of those would have been my nest day a year ago, but not now.  If you asked me now what my best day was, I would say with certainty the full day I spent amid two partial days visiting my girlfriend in New Jersey.  It had all the makings of something wonderful right from the very beginning.

I always liked traveling, even by myself, so the drive through parts of Pennsylvania that I'd never seen to a state I'd never been was a definite allure to the trip.  My travels south were wrought with rolling hills and gorgeous countryside and I found the small New Jersey towns to be endlessly amusing.

Having been in a long distance relationship before, I'm no stranger to the rush when you see your partner for the first time after a long absence.  Still that didn't do anything to take away the happiness at seeing my girlfriend for the first time in over a month, especially with her ability to be unwittingly cute.

When I met my previous girlfriend's parents, I was 19 and she was 15.  I'd known them for years, but there was a definite fear heading over to pick her up for our first date thinking, "these people know that I am going ot eventually defile their daughter."  Nerve-wracking to say the lease.  This time I headed into the confrontation with half the parental unit with could her mother not like me?  I'm me.

The real draw to the whole experience for me (aside from spending time with my girlfriend) was the camping.  I'd only ever spent one night in a tent, and while that much suggest a certain softness, I can rough it with the best of them.  I was looking forward to leaving the phone and the laptop largely untouched during my stay there.

Even though there were numerous other riders around, not to mention her family, there was a certain seclusion to the trip that I found really appealing.  I've never been one prone to a lot of human contact, and carving out a bubble in which we could exist was undeniably special.

What was also special was getting a front row seat to the festivities themselves.  I'd never seen mounted games before and I'd carried a general disdain for anything involving horses because of my obsessed sister whose shows are as boring as you can make an animal five times your size that could easily kill you if it wanted.  So I was afraid I was going to be hopelessly bored.  Instead I was impossibly entertained.  If there are two aspects to anything that I consistently enjoy, they're complexities, and a healthy dose of numbers.  Tracking the standings for each team after each game gave me both in spades.

There are a lot of things that made that one weekend special without one specific moment.  Happiness, I think, is a state of being, not a flash moment.  There is much that contributes to it, exploration, comfort, entertainment, and contentment.  It's not something that you can obtain through any sort of exchange, it's like a personal project, something you slowly build towards without any objective of completion in mind.

Grading the NHL Soccer Kits: Central Division

I'm going to grade the NHL's soccer kits that were recently featured on Puck Daddy and drawn by this guy.  I'll try to be nice, and fair and not do things like penalize teams I hate, or blame the designer for having to work with teams that have shitty logos or colors or both.  I'll be grading the overall design of the home and away and the use of the team's colors, not the quality of the colors themselves.  Oh yeah, and I'll be going division by division since I'm too lazy to do this all at once.  Everything is out of 5.  And I liked most of them, so they all scored pretty high.

Home Design -4
Home Colors - 5
Away Design - 5
Away Colors - 5
Total - 19

Notes: The only thing I don't like about the home jersey is that the arena logo is a little hard to read.  Otherwise they did a real nice job of incorporating stripes without looking hideous.  Making a jersey with red, white, and black seems like cheating though.  So easy.

Home Design - 4
Home Colors - 4
Away Design - 4
Away colors - 5
Total - 17

Notes: The use of two ones of blue on the home turned me off a lot as did those weird torso stripes.  The away looks pretty sharp, but I'm not sure the excessive use of yellow works too well with that much white.

Home Design - 4
Home Colors - 3
Away Design - 4
Away Colors - 5
Total - 16

Notes: Nashville almost looked really nice.  I like yellow jerseys, but the home straddles the fence too much for me.  Either go all out hideous yellow, or break it up a lot with other colors.  They did neither.  Would've given the away a perfect score if Bridgestone was easier to read.

Home Design - 3
Home Colors - 3
Away Design - 3
Away Colors - 3
Total - 12

Notes: What do you want, it's boring.

Home Design - 3
Home Colors - 4
Away Design -Oh My God
Away Colors - What the fuck?
Total - ???

Notes: The more I look at it, the more the away jersey is perfect for Columbus.  Like every logo they've ever had, it has WAY THE HELL too much going on.  I feel like Forrest Gump...why is your shirt a flag?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Live Reactions to "Leading With Lovem" A Film About Parents' Reactions to their Kids' Coming Out

The Movie is only 35 minutes and is well worth a watch.

Spoilers everywhere below:

This is mainly for parents to deal with a child that recently came out so it's not really applicable to me.

"My child is a minority now, she's going to be discriminated against in this world." - Tearful mother of a lesbian.

It has to be tough to stand in front of your family and tell them you're gay.  I could never do that.

Wow this kid did it in front of his entire family, not just his immediate family.

"As soon as he said it, I felt relief." - Proud Dad that always knew what was going on.

Some of these parents are pretty honest in saying how shocked/disappointed they were at first.  I like that.

This father knew his son might be gay when he was a toddler.  Wow.

"Unfortunately all most parents know about being LGBT is the misinformation that's being spread."  Fuck you religious groups and conservatives.

"When you think of a gay person, you go straight to the sexual."  Very true I think.

This has a bit of a high school health video amateurishness to it, but it's not awful.

The Methodists are apparently very pro-LGBT.  Go Methodists.

This girl has an awesome sense of style.  Guess that works for lesbians too.

"When I realized either my son was going to be gay or my son was going to be dead, it just clicked."

"My mom didn't want anyone else to know."  Ouch.

And now the home videos.  Not a bad watch.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Grading the NHL Soccer Kits: Southeast Division

I'm going to grade the NHL's soccer kits that were recently featured on Puck Daddy and drawn by this guy.  I'll try to be nice, and fair and not do things like penalize teams I hate, or blame the designer for having to work with teams that have shitty logos or colors or both.  I'll be grading the overall design of the home and away and the use of the team's colors, not the quality of the colors themselves.  Oh yeah, and I'll be going division by division since I'm too lazy to do this all at once.  Everything is out of 5.  And I liked most of them, so they all scored pretty high.

Home Design - 5
Home Colors - 5
Away Design - 4
Away Colors - 5
Total - 19

Notes: I like the Capitals unis a lot.  To me they look more like a traditional soccer jersey than any of the others.  Just not a huge fan of the boob stripes on the away.

Home Design - 4
Home Colors - 5
Away Design - 4
Away Colors - 4
Total - 17

Notes: Carolina gets a lot of help from the fact that their arena logo looks really awesome.  It's a shame all of their team logos look really stupid.  While the square flag design looks good, one flag still signals a tropical storm, not a Hurricane.  Fail.

Home Design - 4
Home Colors - 4
Away Design - 5
Away Colors - 3
Total - 16

Notes: It's really unfair that Florida's colors are kind of a mess.  The red, yellow, and blue has never looked good, and the blue and blue looks like a blatant ripoff of several other teams.  The Panthers' jerseys end up looking more like golf shirts than anything, which I suppose is fitting since that's all their team and their fanbase does.

Home Design - 4
Home Colors - 4
Away Design - 3
Away Colors - 4
Total - 15

Notes: Tampa Bay doesn't really give a whole lot to work with.  I think the boring switch to fewer colors was a bad move and it shows in this kit.  The away jersey actually does okay with the stripes, but still looks kind of stupid to me.  At least the St. Pete Times text is cool.

Home Design - 3
Home Colors - 4
Away Design - 2
Away Colors - 3
Total - 12

Notes:  The home jersey is okay I guess, if a little boring.  Like Tampa Bay, I don't hate the stripes, but I don't like them either.  The away jersey just looks like a Pepsi can.  With the prominence of the maple leaf in all the Jets' logos, the designer couldn't do a giant layered full torso-ed maple leaf?  That could have looked awesome.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thoughts on Jason Pominville

After he scored his famous goal in 2006, Pominville was one of my favorite players.  Then my opinion of him quickly deteriorated into nothing for no real good reason.  I think a part of that is the fact that not only is he utterly boring as an interview, he tends to be utterly boring as a player as well.

Pominville has so many nights where he looks like he doesn't even care.  Then you go back and look at the statsheet to find that he had two points on the night, one of which was a go-ahead goal.  The guy piles up points in the most unspectacular manner, again aside from a certain goal in 2006.  I'll be the first to agree with many others that $5.3M per year seems like a lot for him, but let's look at the facts over his last five seasons:

  • Low of  20g (08-09), high of 34g (06-07)
  • Low of 30a (10-11), high of 53a (07-08)
  • Has played in 401/410 possible games (97%)
  • Logs time on top PK unit
  • Logs time on top PP unit

When you put all that together, he's probably worth $5.3M.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Behold: Skankarella

First of all, check out this great cover by Jeff Wozniak and then head on over to his website and check out more of his work.  Jeff's broad style and experience in graphic design and in working with things designed to catch the eye (hockey masks) made him a perfect fit for this cover, and the final product is gorgeous.

Cover Art by Jeff Wozniak.
See more of Jeff's work at

I've already done an entry publicizing Skankarella, and have the purchase links at the top of the page so I won't rehash those.  Instead I'll go behind the scenes and maybe explain the cover a little bit.  There may be some minor spoilers here.

I came up with the idea for Skankarella falling asleep one night.  The title popped into my head for no reason so I wrote it down before I dozed off.  Later I sat trying to think about what it meant, who it would describe and in what context it would be used.  I thought it would be an intended insult, but that the characteristics that it described might not be inherently negative.  I began to try and answer one question: just who would 'Skankarella' be?

The Cinderella parallel is obvious so I started thinking with the fairy tale in mind.  The problem with the Disney version is that it's valueless.  We know virtually nothing about Cinderella, and there's no real reason to root for her or identify with her.  Other than being oppressed by her step-family, she has no personality.  The Prince is even worse...he doesn't even speak.

I think the tale livens up when there's a reason behind that hatred, and thus a reason to side with Skankarella.  (Because honestly no one is crying for the gorgeous blonde in the Disney version.  Puh-lease.)  The 'hated' characteristic of Skankarella was going to be her individuality.  The original character was going to have a sort of gothic sense of style, something people might immediately sneer at without even considering what she's really like as a person.

As I started jotting down some notes and watching a few different takes on the Cinderella fairy tale, I started to think in a different direction.  In the Disney movie, the Prince has his own problems, a father that wants him married at all costs, (but we never get to know the Prince because he never speaks so who cares).  I wanted to illustrate how the Prince and Cinderella are somewhat similar, but I didn't see any plight I could levy on the Prince that hadn't already been done by someone else.  Unless the Prince were female.

When Skankarella became a lesbian, I fell completely in love with the story.  It added an extra insidiousness to Skankarella's step-family because I could make their motivation for their awfulness a stereotypical force of good, religion.  When an antagonist is a dick and knows they're a dick that's one thing, but when they're a dick and think they're morally superior...I think they're so much more dangerous.  And in watching the Westboro Baptist Church continually make asses of themselves, the blueprint for the villains was easy to construct.

Everything fell into place after that.  In holding to the theme of individuality, Skankarella was always an artist and a comic book enthusiast, and Julia Prince a writer.  Like in the Disney movie, Julia's father has too heavy a hand in directing her future.  Because of his stereotypical male influence, she grows up as a tomboy taking on many 'male' activities, enjoying enough of them to be too afraid to go against her father's wishes in certain areas.  Unlike the Disney movie, she also has a mother who tries to push her as far from tomboyishness as possible.  Both parents tug her in directions she doesn't want to go.

At the same time that Skankarella is being verbally and physically abused by her step-family, Julia is abusing herself in trying to conform to her father's plans for her career, and her mother's plans for her romantic life.  It was important that both characters have a source of strife (and not just the taboo nature of being gay in rural Kansas).  I wanted Skankarella to help Julia as much as Julia helps Skankarella and for them to fit together like puzzle pieces rather than have Skankarella latch on to her idealist Prince like in the Disney movie.

When I mentioned comic books a few paragraphs up, the cover started to make a bit of sense for some people.  Raven Darkholme, better known as Mystique, and the somewhat less well known Irene Adler as Destiny were and are lovers in the X-Men universe.  Being gay and looking for a companion is difficult, especially if you're in an area that's less than receptive.  Trying to be secretive and avoid harassment and at the same time search for someone like yourself are goals that often conflict.  Having the pair meet in costume as fictitious lesbian lovers was a great way to hint at each's orientation to the other and encourage them to come out of their shell (or closet).

I think I'll end with that before I give too much away.

30 Day Movie Challenge in One Day Because Fuck You

Day 01- The best movie you saw during the last year

This is a tough one because I watch so many movies, probably pretty close to 300 a year. If I really, really like a movie, I buy it, and I currently own Speed of Thought so that has to be up there. Surrogates was also really good. Splice made me feel dirty inside so it definitely gets a nomination. Lake Mungo was really well done for a horror/drama, and Megan is Missing was just despicable. All great options.

Day 02 – The most underrated movie

I love Indie movies, and a lot of them are really, really good. They get a bit of an unfair shake especially in certain genres where special effects need to be created through camera trickery and not piles of money poured into CGI. So I'd have to nominate Nobody is Doing This and Speed of Thought.

Day 03 – A movie that makes you really happy

How can you not like Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium?

Day 04 – A movie that makes you sad

I don't make a huge habit of watching sad movies, but Never Let Me Go with Keira Knightley is one of the most beautiful, breathtaking and sad movies I've seen.

 Obligatory Random Keira Knightley Pic

Day 05 – Favorite love story in a movie

Probably the one in A Very Long Engagement.

Day 06 – Favorite made for TV movie

People watch these? Since the only ones I've seen are atrocious horror movies on the Sci-Fi channel, I'll go with Snakehead Terror.

Day 07 – The most surprising plot twist or ending

As a writer, my mind sees the many different avenues a movie could walk so I am rarely surprised. That being said, A l'aventure was not what I expected. The Orphanage was also somewhat surprising.

Day 08 – A movie that you’ve seen countless times

Garden State for sure. It's just so uplifting.

Day 09 – A movie with the best soundtrack

Garden State. Nothing else comes close. Zach Braff is a genius.

Day 10 – Favorite classic movie

Is 1971 classic? Going to assume it is and go with Harold and Maude.

Day 11 – A movie that changed your opinion about something

The Tracey Fragments made me realize that Ellen Page doesn't always make good movies.

Day 12 – A movie that you hate

I typically hate movies that are vastly overrated, namely action movies without a hint of substance. While I enjoyed them, the Transformer movies come to mind, as does The Dark Knight. (People think The Dark Night is one of the best movies of all time. Ridiculous.) Shrek and Austin Powers are up there because I think Mike Myers is really annoying. Tough call.

Day 13 – A movie that is a guilty pleasure

I know Nicolas Cage is kind of awful...but Con Air is awesome.

Day 14 – A movie that no one would expect you to love

This is tough since people know me as a pretty broad individual. I think, looking over my library, the movie that would surprise the most people is Girl Interrupted.

Day 15 – A character who you can relate to the most

Another tough one since movies are often not about relatable people. I would say there are several I'm similar to. I'm very quirky like Sam from Garden State. I can be hermetic and shy like Amelie Poulain from Amelie, I'm smart in a broad sense like Bartleby in Accepted, sometimes screwed like Bruce in Bruce Almighty, but the most apt comparison is probably Mahoney in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Like Mahoney with her music, I'm looking for that big breakthrough with my writing.

Day 16 – A movie that you used to love but now hate

I used to think Star Trek V was a decent movie, but I can't make it through even a half hour now.

Day 17 – A movie that disappointed you the most

Probably the first time as a kid that I saw a movie based on a book. That's always a letdown until you can appreciate how the differences in mediums necessitate differences in storytelling.

Day 18 – A movie that you wish more people would’ve seen

Serenity. No explanation needed.

Day 19 – Favorite movie based on a book/comic/etc.

Based on a book, Harold and Maude, although the book was basically a script in novel form. Based on a comic book, I do like Daredevil a lot. Because fuck you. And the X-Men movies were pretty awesome. Scott Pilgrim is based on a graphic novel, and that was pretty sweet too, as was Sin City.

Day 20 – Favorite movie from your favorite actor/actress

From my favorite actress? Garden State and Natalie Portman. From my favorite actor? Serenity and Nathan Fillion.

Day 21 – Favorite action movie

Serenity, duh.

Day 22 – Favorite documentary

Fahrenheit 9/11 I guess.

Day 23 – Favorite animation

I don't really do animation, but The Lion King is always good. I haven't seen it in a while, but I suspect Beauty and the Beast might be my favorite Disney movie.

Day 24 – That one awesome movie idea that still hasn’t been done yet

Any one of my novels.

Day 25 – The most hilarious movie you’ve ever seen

Accepted. Dodgeball is up there.

Day 26 – A movie that you love but everyone else hates

I rarely hate movies so take your pick from Daredevil or Waterworld.

Day 27 – A movie that you wish you had seen in theaters


Day 28 – Favorite movie from your favorite director

How about Garden State again? Most famous directors are tied to action movies. Special mention of Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

Day 29 – A movie from your childhood

The Mighty Ducks.

Day 30 – Your favorite movie of all time

Garden State.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Grading the NHL Soccer Kits: Northeast Division

I'm going to grade the NHL's soccer kits that were recently featured on Puck Daddy and drawn by this guy.  I'll try to be nice, and fair and not do things like penalize teams I hate, or blame the designer for having to work with teams that have shitty logos or colors or both.  I'll be grading the overall design of the home and away and the use of the team's colors, not the quality of the colors themselves.  Oh yeah, and I'll be going division by division since I'm too lazy to do this all at once.  Everything is out of 5.  And I liked most of them, so they all scored pretty high.

Home Design - 4
Home Colors - 5
Away Design - 5
Away Colors - 5
Total - 19

Notes: I think the Sabres might be the best overall design and I think the Sabres away is the single best jersey in the entire collection.  Blue and yellow is a color scheme that is really easy to work with.  Plus on the away jersey the team logo in the upper right blends seamlessly into the design instead of looking out of place as it does on some jerseys.

Home Design - 4
Home Colors - 5
Away Design - 5
Away Colors - 5
Total - 19

Notes: There's that rounded torso block I'm not really fond of again, but like blue and yellow, it's easy to make red, white, and black look really good.

Home Design - 5
Home Colors - 5
Away Design - 4
Away Colors - 5
Total - 19

Notes: With Buffalo, this might be one of the best overall designs.  I think it would be if the away was just a little more interesting, perhaps with some blue trim and/or striping.

Home Design - 5
Home Colors - 5
Away Design - 1
Away Colors - 3
Total - 14

Notes: Look, I get that retro and ugly can ironically look just doesn't here.  I never liked that candy cane Habs jersey and I still don't here.  I think the home does a much better job of holding to tradition while still looking sharp.

Home Design - 5
Home Colors - 5
Away Design - 3
Away Colors - 1
Total - 14

Notes: I liked the striping on the home jersey.  I'm glad the designer mixed things up instead of rehashing the same ideas with different brands and colors.  The away looks like a dog ate a white T-shirt, an entire bottle of mustard and then shit them out.  Just hideous.  I can get behind an all yellow jersey, but it has to be yellow, not puke.

Grading the NHL Soccer Kits: Atlantic Division

I'm going to grade the NHL's soccer kits that were recently featured on Puck Daddy and drawn by this guy.  I'll try to be nice, and fair and not do things like penalize teams I hate, or blame the designer for having to work with teams that have shitty logos or colors or both.  I'll be grading the overall design of the home and away and the use of the team's colors, not the quality of the colors themselves.  Oh yeah, and I'll be going division by division since I'm too lazy to do this all at once.  Everything is out of 5.  And I liked most of them, so they all scored pretty high.

Home Design - 5
Home Colors - 5
Away Design - 4
Away Colors - 5
Total - 19

Notes: I love the diagonal stripe on the home jersey, one of the best looking in the bunch for sure.  The away jersey is sharp, but a little bland and the Devils logo looks a little too big.

Home Design - 4
Home Colors - 5
Away Design - 4
Away Colors - 5
Total - 18

Notes: I like the Isles jerseys, but there's just something off about them to me.  I think the font on the home is a bit hard to read and I think the away needs just a bit more blue in the middle of the jersey.

Home Design - 3
Home Colors - 5
Away Design - 5
Away Colors - 5
Total - 18

Notes: I tried not to penalize the Rags for being really boring...but they're really boring.  The pinstripes are sweet, but the home jersey is entirely forgettable.

Home Design - 3
Home Colors - 5
Away Design - 5
Away Colors - 5
Total - 18

Notes: The away jersey is awesome.  I love the Halloween striping on the arms so, so much.  I do not like the rounded torso block on the home jersey though.

Home Design - 3
Home Colors - 4
Away Design - 3
Away Colors - 3
Total - 13

Notes: Where to begin?  I think the faded gold looks kind of shabby and the wavy pepsi logo effect fails pretty completely.  And those stripes?  Did we learn nothing from Montreal's old candy cane jerseys?

Monday, August 15, 2011

New "About the Author" Tab at the Top

I'm a 24 year old unemployed engineering major living with my parents in upstate New York.  My only goal in creating this blog was to have an outlet for my randomness, but I am continually delighted that others wish to read and can identify with what I have to say.

My real passion is telling stories, and my life's goal is to one day be among the lucky few that make their living writing fiction.  My slightly more realistic goal is to continue to create and to be read and at least have some sort of an impact on those people.  (Links to my published works at the top of the page (shameless plug).)

I'll try and straddle a line between false modesty and arrogance by saying that I'm generally good at most of the things I try to do.  In high school I scored in the 90th and above percentile in every category on job placement exams except for manual dexterity (no surgeries for me).  I've played every major sport (baseball, football, hockey, basketball, and soccer along with golf and bowling), and made All-Star teams for baseball and hockey.  It's this sort of broadness that I think defines me better than anything else.  So many things in life try and shunt you down one particular avenue, which is something I've always resisted.  My work as an engineer, while fulfilling on may levels, left no room for creativity.

It's this contradiction that has made life maddeningly difficult to sort out.  (I know, I know, no one is crying for the smart kid.)  The one thing I've done that has allowed me to achieve happiness because it embraces that broadness fully.  To write, especially in a variety of disciplines, you cannot be pigeonholed at all.  One day I might be reading technical journals for a science fiction story, while the next I'll be poring through mythology and religious history for a paranormal fantasy novel.  It has been the perfect fit for my tendency to want to learn and know everything about everything.  Aside from the lack of dollar signs rolling in.  I still haven't figured that part out yet.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What If: Tim Connolly's Concussion

Tim Connolly's departure has gotten me thinking about his tenure in Buffalo.  A lot of people look back at the 05-06 playoffs and bemoan all the defensive injuries, but I started wondering in another direction.  Peter Schaefer knocked Connolly out for a year and change in game two of the Ottawa series.  Up to that point Connolly had 5 goals and 6 assists in seven games.

It looked like Connolly had finally started to show that big time potential that everyone always said he possessed.  And then Schaefer brained him and he never really looked the same (and never scored another playoff goal).  Like I said, the injuries to the defense were a big part of the Sabres failures that postseason and the Sabres steady decline in penalty killing can mostly be blamed on that phenomenon...but some of it can be blamed on the disappearance of Connolly's 2:40 of shorthanded time on ice per game.  And even more telling is that the Sabres went from scoring 4.5 goals per game with Connolly to 2.4 goals per game without Connolly.  (Some of which can also be blamed on the unhealthy defense as well as stiffer competition in the later rounds.)

I think that with Connolly healthy, Ruff is able to use Hecht and/or Pominville to bolster the defense keeping one of Fitzpatrick/Janik/Jillson/Paetsch off the ice.  I think he also contributes enough offensively and as a defensive center to make up for the lack of healthy defensemen, and neither Carolina nor Edmonton stands a chance.

Continuing on into the next season, with a healthy Connolly the Sabres are able to ice something relatively close (cap space aside) to the following:

Pominville - Briere - Hecht
Drury - Connolly - Kotalik
Vanek - Roy - Afinogenov
Stafford - Zubrus - Paille/Gaustad

Good fucking lord.  That's three and a half top six centers out there on the ice and zero fourth line players with no hockey talent.  And remember, that's awesome next-step Tim Connolly that's playing center on the second line, not the brain-addled Connolly we all know and grew to hate.  It's not a stretch to think that Connolly carries his superb 05-06 postseason play into the 06-07 season, especially with the talent around him.  It's not all that hard to envision Connolly hitting 20+ goals and 50+ assists for the first time in his career without the concussion's interruption and what is almost an All-Star supporting cast.

With that I think a good (not fuzzy/rusty) Tim Connolly helps the Sabres beat the Senators in a series that was closer than its five games indicated.  And from there it would have been the Sabres' scoring and offensive talent versus Anaheim's monster defensemen and toughness.

If Peter Schaefer never altered Tim Connolly's career with a shot to the head (that was not at all a blindside), it's not inconceivable the the Buffalo Sabres would have appeared in and won back to back Stanley Cups from 2005 to 2007.

My Thoughts on Soccer

I keep trying to write a post about Soccer where I'm not just being a dick and talking about how shitty it is and I keep failing.  I really want to just say fuck it and be a dick anyways because there are things about Soccer that annoy me to no end, but I can't because if I take a moment to really be honest with myself, I don't actually think that about Soccer.

My interest in Soccer is similar to my interest in a lot of sports.  I find it to be very intriguing as a whole, but couldn't care less about 90% of the individual games.  The best comparison for me is baseball.  Both have a rich history that goes back over a century with a ton of interesting storylines meandering about between then and now (especially if you watch the EPL).  But both tend to be really boring to a lot of people if the match/game isn't a big one.  Or maybe the better comparison is NASCAR, where few like it until something awesome happens.  It exists as good background entertainment, where you can have it on while doing something else, only occasionally paying attention.

I'll be perfectly honest, I usually don't like watching Soccer.  I've sat down for games at every level from high school to World Cup matches and to me the game looks like about 80 minutes of neutral zone clusterfuck would in hockey interspersed with occasional scoring chances.  Some of that is because I never enjoyed playing.  As a kid my athletic talents relied mainly on a superb set of hands.  I can throw and catch things better than just about anybody...but not while playing Soccer.  A lot of that is behind my general disdain for the game itself, much like my playing experiences in baseball are behind my disdain for that game.  But I still enjoy both on some level.

I love soccer unis.  I think they're very sharp, and the blend of team colors and advertising intrigues me more than it annoys me.  It's very different than what Americans are used to on our sports jerseys and I like that.  (Again, I think of sponsor-covered stock cars.)  And I love the EPL, I love the history and I love how much the fans hate each other.  More hate in sports is always a good thing.  (You know, unless it's hatred of black people or something.)

I could see myself following the EPL race like I follow pennant races in baseball, transfixed by teams fighting tooth and nail to gain ground on each other and poring over box scores without actually watching the games themselves.  I definitely had a good time tracking World Cup play on a spreadsheet even though I didn't sit down for that many of the actual games.

Overall it's a love/hate relationship, one that allows me to both get into deep discussions with soccer diehards (like my British former roommate) and piss them off severely with stupid comments (that hit too close to the truth).  I think I'm fine with existing that way. 

Next Project: Cube Wars Reboot!

Somewhere between ten seconds ago and a year ago I endeavored to clean Cube Wars up and publish it.  I thought it was a task I could handle, but more and more I feel there's too wide a disconnect between my writing style then and my writing style now.  Plus I have something I didn't have when I originally wrote it: actual experience working in a Cubicle Farm.

So I want to do a rewrite/reboot.  I want to use the original Cube Wars as a framework/outline, and make it more awesome while adding some of my actual experiences.  And I want to fix the things that took away from the quality of the original:

The use of a different font for each character - completely unsupported by most eReaders, even with embedded fonts.  While unique and enjoyed by a lot of people, I think changing everything to Times New Roman will be better in the long run because it will force me to be more descriptive with the characters and their emotions, making them easier to visualize.

The use of images - I still want to use them, but most eReaders completely whitewashed them out of the story.  Again I need to be a better descriptor, but I still want to include diagrams because I think they added a lot to the humor, the story, and the engineering motif.

I'm not sure how long it will take, or how much the story will change, if at all.  I want to keep as much intact as possible and only enhance it with my personal experiences.  The fact is that I am a leaps and bounds better writer now than I was 5-9 years ago and I think I can do a lot to improve upon the original product both for those that enjoyed it in its original incarnation and those that didn't know me then.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm Looking Forward to NCAA Football more than the NFL for One Reason

"And here's Johnny Smith lining up to kick for BCSU.  This 36 yarder will win the game for BCSU and preserve their undefeated season.  A loss will all but knock them out of a chance at the title game.  Smith is 6/14 from 35+ yards this season.  If he makes this, he'll be a hero, if he misses it, he'll be murdered six times on the way to Comm101 Monday morning.  Here's the kick..."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Buffalo Bills are a Mess

Trying to channel my inner-DGWU with this entry.

I think people realize that the Bills are basically the NFL's Pittsburgh Pirates.  We used to be good once upon a time, but no one remembers those days anymore.  Now we're just a laughing stock, a pathetically inept franchise that most seasons fields a team full of second stringers.  Some talented players have come up through the ranks but there's been too much awful around for them to have any shot at success.  If they're lucky they escape to a better franchise before we ruin them like Jabari Greer and Antoine Winfield.  If they're not, we cripple their careers and they continue on a shadow of what they might have been in a better environment like Trent Edwards, Willis McGahee, and even J. P. Losman and probably Lee Evans.

Where to even start?

It all begins at the top with Ralph C. Wilson jr. (I think he's a jr., but I honestly don't give enough of a shit to look it up).  As the years pass Ralph Wilson becomes continually more threatened when anyone smarter than him is involved with the organization.  That might be okay if he were a genius and there's a huge expanse of less smart people beneath him that are still very, very intelligent...but he's not.  Ralph has butted heads with every talented individual to ever come through the front office and eventually sent them packing.  See: Polian, Bill who's been a success everywhere he's been. 

Polian gets hired in 1986 with the Bills coming off a 2-14 season.  Polian's tenure in Buffalo looks like this:
1986 - 4-12
1987 - 7-8
1988 - 12-4
1989 - 9-7
1990 - 13-3
1991 - 13-3
1992 - 11-5
1993 - 12-4
Then he went to Carolina:
1995 - 7-9
1996 - 12-4
And Indianapolis:
1997 - 3-13
1998 - 3-13
1999 - 13-3
2000 - 10-6
2001 - 6-10
2002 - 10-6
2003 - 12-4
2004 - 12-4
2005 - 14-2
2006 - 12-4
2007 - 13-3
2008 - 12-4
2009 - 14-2
2010 - 10-6

Bill Polian took a team that had 4 winning seasons and one playoff win in the previous 20 years and turned it into one of the best in the NFL.  How the hell do you fire a guy like that just because he doesn't get along with you or your team's treasurer?  I'll say it again; Ralph can't stand having people that are smarter or more successful than he is around.

Ralph is selfish.  That's really it, isn't it?  The success of the team is not his goal.  Not if he isn't the one behind every single decision.  He doesn't enjoy wins if his stats aren't good and that in a nutshell is why the Bills have been terrible for the majority of their existence.  He's under the flawed perception that he'll look better if he surrounds himself with bargain front office personnel and castoff coaches.  That's now real life works Ralph.  Do you know what you get if you're the best employee at a company staffed by morons out in the real world?  Unemployment.  People synergize, talented people surround themselves with other talented people because it'll make 2+2 = 10.

But it doesn't matter because Ralph Wilson is going to continue to live in his rich old bastard fantasy land where all he cares about is being important.  There's a Ralph Wilson Death Watch group on Facebook which is not at all surprising because it's either going to take that or a super slick front office guy that can smooth-talk his way around Ralph's demented selfishness for the Bills to be relevant again.