Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day One-Hundred Nine: Round Two

Well, Vancouver just beat Chicago, 5-3, which means the second round of the playoffs must have started. (For some reason, I thought they started tomorrow)

This preview will be shorter than the last one because, well, there are half as many series. I actually did pretty well last time. Off the top of my head, I believe I picked Boston, Washington, Carolina, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Vancouver, and Chicago. Only one I missed was Anaheim/San Jose. New rule, another one of those "weird things that always happen in hockey": never pick the San Jose Sharks. Sad day.

All right, we'll start with the series that's already underway...

Blogger's spellchecker doesn't recognize either Blackhawk nor Canuck to be real words. (For the record, it doesn't recognize "Blogger's" either) So what does THAT tell you, hm???
All right, I think I said this at the beginning of the playoffs: Vancouver is a team who was downright scary-good toward the end of the season. They steamrolled over the Blues in their four-game sweep. The Blackhawks will put up a bit more of a fight, but ultimately they'll run into the same problem St. Louis ran into: this is their first dance in a long, long time, and those teams historically just don't do well. Chicago was able to get by Calgary on talent alone because Calgary's big names just weren't quite big enough (we're lookin' at YOU, Miikka Kiprusoff and Dion Phaneuf!), but to go deep in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, you have to learn what it takes to go deep in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That's one of those bogus statements that really doesn't mean anything, but the bizarre thing is it's totally true, and it proves itself through young teams year after year after year. If Chicago is to have a chance in this series, former Cup-winning goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin is going to have to win some games for them. Like, at least three. And that'll be tough, because Vancouver's captain and starting netminder, the very famous Roberto Luongo, is not only one of the best in the world, but he's also got this huge chip on his shoulder. I just don't see the Blackhawks coming out of this one. My best guess: Vancouver in five.

The Wings made the Blue Jackets look like a minor league club en route to a four-game sweep in round one. The BJ's didn't put up much of a fight at all until game four, which was a barn-burning nail-biter, but the Wings still won. Much-maligned Detroit goalie Chris Osgood was as good as he needed to be, though he often didn't need to be great. He'll be tested more by Anaheim's young guns (and their old one, too) every night of this series. In the Ducks favor: they boast the deepest blue line in the NHL right now (Columbus had maybe one guy on D that could skate with Detroit's talented Euros) and have been on a tear since just before the trade deadline (right around the time when the goal crease was officially handed over to Jonas Speaking of Hiller, this guy absolutely shut down the Sharks for much of round one. The kid is good, like Cam-Ward-In-2006-Conn-Smythe-Cup-Winning-Good. On the other hand, you really can't ever count out the Red Wings. They are so freaking good. They are such a complete team it's ridiculous. The only perceived weakness has been between the pipes and in the third defensive pair. Well, so far so good for Osgood, and slow 5th and 6th defensemen are generally not going to cost you a Cup (especially when you can just throw them out against, say, Ryan Carter for a shift to give your big guys some rest). That, and those teams that make the monumental first-round upsets rarely go on to repeat the task when they're invariably up against another giant in the second round. If there's a team to do it, though, it's these Ducks. This series is the toughest to call, in my book, but since I gotta say something....Red Wings in seven.

Wow, those Hurricanes showed some serious guts in that first round matchup with the Devils! We'll be hard-pressed to find another series with that kind of drama all playoffs. (Too bad only one of the games was televised nationally...) Unfortunately for all you Caniacs out there, the Bruins are just too good. They're better than the Hurricanes at every position. They demolished an admittedly weak Montreal team in round one, but then if you're playing an admittedly weak team, the best way to beat them is to beat them badly. The Hurricanes will win the Little Engine that Could Award for their effort in this series, but in the end...Bruins in six.

It's amazing how folks are picking the Penguins to win this series almost across the board despite the fact that the Caps are the higher seed. Nevertheless, I agree with them. Most Stanley Cup runners-up don't make it past the first round the next year; the Pens have. That says something right there. The Penguins beat a tough, rough, talented Philly team two out of three times on the road in the last series. That's impressive, especially given the extremely hostile environment of a Philly crowd. The Caps are more talented than the Flyers, but they're not as mean. They also had one heck of a time squeaking by a relatively talentless Rangers team in the first round. Well, this series is already a circus. Crosby vs. Ovechkin vs. Malkin vs. Semin. Pittsburgh vs. Washington. The mild-mannered Boy Scout Eastern Conference Champs of 2008 vs. the rock-and-roll movie star X-Game up-and-comers of 2009. This is the kind of thing that can get out of hand, and I think the Pens' locker room is better composed to dealing with this kind of frenzy than is Washington's. I expect a lot of fire from the Caps early in the series, but I really think Pittsburgh has better scoring depth, more experience, and better maturity than the Capitals do, at least when you take the teams collectively. This should be a really fun series with some of the most entertaining hockey you'll ever see. My best guess: Penguins in six.

So there you have it. Enjoy the second round, everybody.

Day One-Hundred Eight: Short Stories

Seriously. What do you do with a short story?

You write a screenplay, you make it into a movie. Got that. You write a novel, you publish it into a book. Check. You write a stage play, you try to get it produced. All clear.

You write a short story and...?

I wrote about half of a short story tonight. I think I like it, but it's kinda twisted. I probably won't post it on here. (It may get Facebook treatment, who knows) Then what? How do short stories make you rich and famous?

Anyway, because I don't think I've adequately conveyed the awesomeness of the Hurricanes' game seven comeback win over New Jersey, here's video evidence for those who might care. Tim Gleason for unsung hero of the first round.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day One-Hundred Seven: Not-So-Super Heroes

About a week ago, I got a request from a friend who teaches one of our satellite theatre classes with a group of underprivileged kindergarten students. They've been starting work on their final performance, and they were doing an adaptation she'd written of Animal Strike at the Zoo. However, this class had come to our children's theater and seen The Hero Squad vs. The Princess Snatchers, and apparently they have been on a massive super hero kick ever since. Even when working on Animal Strike, everything somehow came back to Hero Squad. The request, then, was to see whether or not I could write a five-minute-or-less superhero play that fourteen kindergarten students could perform. I had a week to complete it. If not, she said, that was all right, they could still go with Animal Strike, but the kids would just get such a huge kick out of it if it were their very own superhero play.

Last night, while chatting with Sherri, I suddenly remembered this project, and that it was due today. D'oh! So I get to work in the third period of the Hawks/Flames game, and about ten minutes later, I'm done.

I now submit, for your reading pleasure, the fruits of nearly ten whole minutes worth of labor:

for Small Steps, Spring 2009

(AT RISE: Various super heroes are sleeping around the stage. Enter the three BAD GUYS)

Bad Guy #1: Are you sure this is where all the super heroes live?

Bad Guy #2: Yes, I'm sure. It's the Hall of Heroes. Where else would super heroes live?

Bad Guy #3: Hurry, let put together our evil machine!

(The BAD GUYS put together an evil-looking machine)

Bad Guy #4: It's perfect!

Bad Guy #1: What is it, again?

Bad Guy #2: Don't be silly! It's the Superpower Stealer 3000!

Bad Guy #3: Yes! It will steal all the super heroes' super powers!

Bad Guy #4: Wow! Without their super powers, they can't be super heroes!

Bad Guy #1: Turn it on!

Bad Guy #2: Oh boy!

Bad Guy #3: Let's hide!

Bad Guy #4: Let's watch!

(BAD GUYS hide while AWESOME MAN and BREAKFAST MAN wake up)

Awesome Man: Good morning, Breakfast Man!

Breakfast Man: Every morning is good in the Hall of Heroes, Awesome Man!

Awesome Man: Won't you use your breakfast-making super powers and make me some toast?

Breakfast Man: Sure thing. (he tries to make toast as other heroes start to wake up) Uh-oh!

Awesome Man: What's wrong?

Breakfast Man: My toast's gone!

Hyper Girl: Good morning, everyone! I think I'll go for a quick run around the world before breakfast. (she starts to run, but stops) Hey! What happened to my super speed?

Lightning Lady: What's wrong, Hyper Girl?

Hyper Girl: My power! It's gone!

Lightning Lady: Gone? (she tries to make lightning) My lightning power is gone, too!

Question Man: Awesome Man, what's going on here?

Awesome Man: Well...

Question Man: What happened to all our powers?

Awesome Man: Well...

High Flyer #1: Awesome Man! We can't fly!

High Flyer #2: Help! Help!

High Flyer #3: We're grounded!

High Flyers #1: Try again, Flyers. Jump! Jump!

High Flyer #2: Fly! Fly!

High Flyer #3: Whee! Whee! See?

All High Flyers: It's not working!

Question Man: How can we help people without our super powers?

The Human Iceburg: We're done for! We'll never be super heroes again!

Answer Man: Now calm down, people! It's not that bad!

High Flyer #1: But we can't fly!

The Human Iceburg: And I can't freeze!

Breakfast Man: And I can't make super toast!

Answer Man: Maybe we don't have super powers, but there are lots of ways to help people without super powers!

Question Man: Like what?

Answer Man: friendly to people who don't have many friends!

High Flyer #2: Oh! And pick up a pencil for someone who drops it!

High Flyer #3: And stand up for someone who is getting picked on!

The Human Iceburg: Or share your lunch with somebody who doesn't have one!

Answer Man: That's right! We don't need super powers to be super heroes, right guys?

All Heroes: Right!

Bad Guy #1: Impossible!

Bad Guy #2: No fair!

Bad Guy #3:Blast!

Bad Guy #4: Nuts!

Awesome Man: Hey look, those must be the evil bad guys!

All Bad Guys: Uh-oh...

(All the HEROES chase all the BAD GUY off the stage)



Round 1 is finally done. I can't tell you how psyched I am about the Aeros moving on to play the Admirals in round 2.

Tonight, the Caps finally shook off those pesky Rangers 2-1, winning the series 4 games to 3. Meanwhile, New Jersey took a 3-2 lead into the final 90 seconds of the game at home...and lost in regulation, 4-3, to Carolina. (This the same Carolina team that blew a 3-0 lead to the Devils before scoring the winning goal with 0.2 seconds left) Best series of the first round officially goes to the Devils and Hurricanes. Though, you know, that's probably very poor consolation for the Devils and their fans.

Round two looks like this:
#8 Anaheim vs. #2 Detroit
#4 Chicago vs. #3 Vancouver
#6 Carolina vs. #1 Boston
#4 Pittsburgh vs. #2 Washington

More on this later!

Finally, this is possibly the most amusing hockey headline I've seen all year. From the Houston Press (it's almost like real news, only with bad words and snarky commentary!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day One-Hundred Six: Embrace the Lame!

This is a bit of a heresy, because I am writing this on April 27th, which is NOT ETL Day. However, MOST of you will not be reading this until April 28th, which IS ETL Day. Besides, if any of you decide you want to play along, you can still create you lame lists on the official ETL Day, whereas if I were to post this tomorrow, probably around this time, none of you would read THAT until April 29th, which is ALSO not ETL Day, and therefore your ETL lists would be late, which would be lame, but not Lame in the cool Embrace the Lame sense.

Got it? 'Cuz I'm not going to bother to read back over it to see if it makes sense.

Now. What, pray tell, is Embrace the Lame Day? Contrary to what you're probably thinking, it is NOT a day that is set aside for you to run up and hug an invalid (though this activity is highly encouraged by WBW, it is not the intent of ETL). If you'd like the original explanation and rules for ETL, you have to click here and read what is essentially the Embrace the Lame Charter. Otherwise, in the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, "Let me sum up:"

Example A: You are hanging out with some coworkers and the conversation turns, as it occasionally does, to anime. Everyone is throwing out their favorite bizarre Japanese cartoon, and you're about to chime in with "I loved Dragonball Z when I was a kid!" But you don't, because just as you open your mouth, the snarkiest of your coworkers says, "You know what's really lame? Dragonball Z!" So you say nothing. And you feel like a loser, because now you know you're lame.

Example B: Same scenario, only you're talking about rock music of the mid-to-late 1990s. Your favorite band from that era is Green Day, and you're about to say so, but... "And then there was Green Day," says the ultra-attractive young woman who you'd like to ask for her phone number. "They were okay, but then they got all popular, and, like, total sellouts, you know?" Ouch. Shot down by a pretty girl.

Embrace the Lame Day was set up to say, "You know what? Why? Why do I care what you think? Why do I play your little game? Yeah, I liked hip hop in grade school, what of it? Yes, I do think Family Matters needs to make a comeback on network television, and I don't give a rip how old Jaleel White is! Of COURSE I hum the Mission Impossible theme to myself every time I fill up my gas tank! Doesn't everybody?

No, I mean really...everybody does that...right?

So this is a day where I encourage you all not to take yourselves too seriously. Be who you wanna be. Like the stuff you like. Do the stuff you liked to do. Everybody has some lameness in them. Enjoy it. Heck, embrace it!

Oh, and make a list.

And, in PBB ETL tradition, drop me a note in the comment if you're participating. I believe the traditional thing to do is post your own list on your own blog, or facebook, or a 240-or-less-character list on Twitter, or whatever. But a lot of you don't have blogs, so I'm going to say go for it with whatever you've got. Write it on some scratch paper. Carve it in a tree. Finger paint it on your wall. Write down your arm. Spam your favorite band's message board with it. Just let me know if you're playing along, and you get...(are you ready for this???)...a NAME-DROP on the bottom of this post! And let us know if you came up with any unique ways to enjoy your lameness today. It'll be fun.

Or, who knows. Maybe none of you will want to play, and I'll just make a list, and that'll be ETL 2009. It's all good! Either way, it's been one less day where I've had to think of something interesting to blog about! ;-)

Here's my official List o' Lameness 2009:
1. I still like Cats by Andrew Lloyd Weber.
2. As much as I dislike the show, I'd love to direct Rogers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma someday, as though I could bring something new and exciting to it.
3. Lolcats and failblog.
4. I use my blog to post hockey playoff updates that most of you COULDN'T CARE LESS ABOUT! (Aeros win 5-2, moving on to Milwaukee for Round 2! Also, Chicago just knocked off Calgary and the Ducks shocked the Sharks)
5. I often listen to the same CD to and from work for longer than a week straight. Anti-Meridian has been in there for almost twenty days. Which brings me to...
6. I still listen to either a FIF or BS2 album at least once a week. Usually more than that.
7. I do midnight movies. I always say I won't do another one, but I generally do. Movies I've seen at 12:00 a.m. opening nite: X-Men III, Iron Man, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, The Incredible Hulk, TMNT (yes, TMNT), and--here's the kicker--Snakes on a Plane. At least, I think it was midnight. Either way...
8. I saw Snakes on a Plane in theaters.
9. I've beaten Final Fantasy VI multiple times, once leveling all fourteen playable characters to level 99. The final boss never got to attack, which was impressive because it's a turn-based battle system. (Though admittedly I've got nothing on Tarvis in this category)
10. There have been nights where I've dragged myself out of bed upon the realization that I haven't blogged anything yet.
11. I am infatuated with lists. So much so that I have a list on my work computer of every show ever Player has been in since I've been here, mainstage, Rotunda, touring, and special event. I've also got every show we've done on either stage listed and ranked by my preference by season and year, and can find for you what is statistically our strongest slot and our strongest season (again, based on my opinion).
12. In high school, I did spelling bee, math contest, scholar's bowl, speech competitions, and math team competitions. Won quite a few honors in those ultra-nerdy competitions. Oh, and I was the mascot. I looked good in those tights, too.

TMI? No, ETL, baby.

Hall of Lame (Updated throughout the day):
Dave! (Check out the comments)
Sherri! (Keeping ETL from being an All-Boys Club!)

Lame On!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day One-Hundred Five: ETL is coming...

We are two days away, folks. Two days from the fifth annual National Embrace the Lame Day! (Well, one day by the time most of you read this...)

ETL is a made-up holiday instituted in 2005 by my good friend Dave-O. Within a few days, the concept had caught fire, scorching a very small (yet mighty!) corner of the Internet with participants. Dave's blog, Perfect Blue Buildings, has always been the flagship blog of National Embrace the Lame Day, though due to extenuating circumstances PBB will not be able to participate (and as such, I expect overall ETL participation is going to be way down), and so, if I am not overstepping my bounds (and please, good sir, do tell me if it's not my place), I would be honored for WBW to carry the ETL torch till PBB can properly do the event justice on April 28th, 2010. FTW!

(And Dave, I'm serious. If this isn't cool, then just give me a call and I can delete this post, and Day One-Hundred Five will be about horseshoe crabs instead)

Pending the blessing of the Lame-master, I'll post more info here tomorrow for the uninitiated (those of you who are still thinking: "Wait, what's Embrace the Lame???")

In the meantime, here's a video of a dancing bear.

Next: a musical clip from the movie Newsies. If only all labor disputes began with riveting musical numbers.

More videos: What happens when you mix Ocean's 11 and the Muppets? I'll tell you what: awesomeness. (hat tip to Sherri)

Speaking of mixing movies...

Finally, remember Louie? The adventure continues...

Finally, playoff updates: Game sevens forthcoming in both the New York/Washington series and the Carolina/New Jersey series. And the Aeros play in Peoria tomorrow night for all the marbles.

Well, not all the marbles, but the marbles sufficient for moving on to play for more marbles against Milwaukee.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day One-Hundred Four: Yesterland

It's already late. Jonas Hiller is drinking the San Jose Sharks' collective milkshakes tonight. They're going to overtime. Sharks score, they live. Ducks score, and a whole lotta folks got their Stanley Cup Champ wrong.

Pens eliminated the Flyers today, and the Aeros are going 7. Of course. Hawks won, too.

We're gonna delve a bit into my childhood tonight. That should be fun.

I was born in Torrance, California, in 1982. We moved to Wellington, Kansas in the summer of 1988 (just before Wayne Gretzky was traded to the L.A. Kings, I believe. Or else just after. I was six, I don't remember exactly) We've had family living in southern California pretty much ever since. Therefore, there have been many, many vacations in SoCal over the years. As a result, I was most definitely a theme park kid. Six Flags Magic Mountain. Knott's Berry Farm. Later in life, Paramount's Great America, Universal Studios, etc. There were lots of options, and I have got memories of just about all of them (though my Magic Mountain memories are very faint, if anybody's keeping score). I'm serious, I was obsessed when I was younger. There was a span of probably close to eight years when a younger cousin and I would send ride ideas and maps back and forth for a park we were to one day design (most commonly, it was named Pizza Land, though at one point I had a family of no fewer than ten parks across the country, including a small one in Wichita, KS). If I ever get in to making movies (and that is not currently a part of the plan), I will make one about kids in an amusement park so that I can see some of these awesome ideas come to life someday.

In fact, I may have to do a Pizza Land blog post someday. That will be fun.

(Sharks just scored, Ducks now lead 3 games to 2)

Of all the parks, however, and all the hours logged waiting in line for rides, shows, games, whatever, the one that holds first spot in my nostalgia-craving inner-child's happy place is the original Magic Kingdom: Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.

Blah, blah, blah, Disney World is so much bigger and better, I know, I know. That's just peachy. But you don't mess with a guy's childhood, so there. ;-)

Took Kim and Robbie there for the first time last summer and found the place hasn't lost its magic at all! Everything's much more user-friendly at Disneyland than any of the others I've been to, from more restrooms and free water fountains to free fast passes and entertaining line-waiting atmospheres. Theatricality rules the day at almost every turn. Every corner of the park is a part of some story, and you really gotta respect that (at least, if you're a storyteller at heart and by trade).

The reason I'm bringing all of this up is that I went on a bit of a nostalgia trip last night on and found lots of videos of some rides and shows from my pre-Kansas days that have been closed for years. Peoplemover? Submarine Voyage? America Sings? (Note: I think America Sing would STILL be awesome if it were open today) Absolutely fantastic.

I've also come across this fantastically detailed and maintained website: This site gives you a pretty detailed description, usually with pictures, of virtually every attraction ever to close its doors in the Magic Kingdom since it opened in 1955. I'm talking some really obscure stuff, too. Did you know the Happiest Place on Earth opened with an intimate apparel shop on Main Street that featured a history of underwear lecture delivered by the animatronic character The Wonderful Wizard of Bras? Do you remember the Michael Jackson action/sci-fi 3-D rock movie Captain Eo? And were you aware that the really lame pizza place smack in the middle of Tomorrowland used to be an equally lame trip to the moon (and, after that wasn't futuristic enough anymore, to Mars)???

Hours, friends. Hours of fascinating and random information. Pics, old rides, new Disney park news, urban legends. It's all good.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day One-Hundred Three: Wacky Denver

Oh, Denver. I want for us to be friends. But you are so gosh darn wacky and unpredictable that I don't know we can ever form the basis of trust needed for a true friendship.

First, you take a man who throws himself in front of a bus to shove three people out of its way and save their lives, and as soon as he regains consciousness in the hospital's recovery room, you slap him with a jaywalking ticket.

Now, you deny a 15-year-old his driver's permit because he once crashed a car...when he was SIX!

I like you, Denver, but you need to get your head on straight.


And now on to something that (sadly) is 100% not Denver-related: the Playoffs!

Philadelphia 3, Pittsburgh 0 (Pens lead series 3-2)
New Jersey 1, Carolina 0 (Devils lead series 3-2)
Anaheim 4, San Jose 0 (Ducks lead series 3-0...WOW! Also, a lot of shutouts last night!)

And finally, Detroit 6, Columbus 5 in what was a thrilling game with a controversial end to the first ever playoff series in the Blue Jackets' existence. A classy response from the home crowd following the last contest of the four-game sweep.

(Compare that, if you will, to this clip of the Montreal Canadians getting mostly booed off the ice while some trash is thrown over the glass from the crowd the other night)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day One-Hundred Two: Game Five

Time for a little lunchtime blogging, friends!

Dave-O and I headed out to The Yo last night for game five of the AHL Western Division Semifinals between the #3 Houston Aeros and the #2 Peoria Rivermen. The best-of-seven series was all tied up at two games apiece with games six AND seven slated to be played in Peoria over the weekend. If e'er was a must-win game for the Aeros in this series, it was game five.

I won't go blow-for-blow through the game here; I'm not a sports writer and I don't particularly want to be one. I'm plenty content being a fan. (Incidentally, it's sad to me that legit sports writers aren't allowed to cheer for the team they cover. I mean, I understand it, but I'd be majorly bummed) And as a fan, I have this to say about Game Five:

This is the game that you go to all the other games hoping to see.

This is not to take anything away from game three on Saturday. That game was fantastic. This game, however, was why we love sports.

Things could not have been tighter. Things could not have been more tense from the first puck-drop till the final buzzer. Both teams knew what was on the line, and neither was willing to give an inch. Halfway through the game, the score was still 0-0. The refs were also calling a pretty tight game, too, so there were plenty of good scoring opportunities. Lots of great saves. Lots of hits thrown. Tons of "SO FREAKING CLOSE!" moments. Nevertheless, it was fairly obvious even to the casual observer that Peoria was the better team through the first half of the game. They were outshooting Houston by more than a two-to-one margin and getting more breakaways, more odd-man rushes, more of just about everything. Their penalty kill was better than our power play. So it seemed only natural when they got the first goal.

The goal sucked the life out of the Toyota Center crowd, and it came with just a couple of minutes left in the second period, so it was a long, frustrating intermission. After all, the team scoring first had won all four games so far this series, and our boys were just not looking that good. Even another Mitch Love fight couldn't put much life into this squad.

The Rivermen (whose logo looks like a mildly ticked off Popeye, for the record) kept up the pressure as the third started and scored again, now leading 2-0 in the final period. Well, that just about did it. The way they were playing, the way we were paying, the way the series had gone thus far, and the way both teams played in the final month of the season said that was it, game over, and there was no way we were going to go in their barn and win two straight to win the series. I'm generally an optimist when it comes to the home team, and while I didn't say it out loud, I had started to resign myself to the reality that this was the last time I'd see this Aeros team. The offseason would start this weekend, and half these players would be gone next year. Which is the way it goes, of course, but it's still kind of sad every year when it happens, whether you missed the playoffs or won the Cup. The clock ticked down. Two-zip with ten minutes left. With nine minutes. With eight. Seven. A family of four a few rows in front of us stood up and left.

Then, the lucky break that serves as just enough to spark whatever hope a fan could have left with the season on the line and a recent NHL all-star in the opposing team's net: A two-minute delay-of-game penalty on the road team.

Delay-of-game is one of the lamest penalties in hockey. It occurs when a player shoots the puck over the glass without it deflecting first off another player's stick or the glass itself. It's a dumb penalty, and it hurt the Aeros the other night in game three, but this time it worked in our favor. This is why I'm okay with dumb penalties and poor officiating: sooner or later, it always evens out.

On the Aeros' eighth powerplay of the game (0-for-7 for the game so far, but forty percent successful going into the game), a puck finally found its way past Manny Legace and into the Peoria net, and a sudden rush of life filled the lower bowl of The Yo. Four minutes to play, and we weren't quite dead yet. Not much time, but apparently enough. Less than two minutes later, Justin Falk (Mr. Zero-goals, three-assists all season) fired a shot from the blue line at Legace, and Robbie Earl (Mr. I-Don't-Generally-Do-Smart-Things-When-I-Get-The-Puck) whacked at a rebound that hit Legace, trickled over his shoulder, bounced once, and wobbled its way past the goal line.

Tie game, kids.

The place went nuts. Dave and I went nuts. The family of four returned to their seats, and the father's friends (who were sitting nearby) tried to convince him to leave again, laughing.

For the first time in about an hour and a half, the game was fun again. The Yo was rocking the last two minutes of the third, and when the buzzer sounded, sending the game into overtime, the home team received a standing ovation as they headed to the locker room.

Awesome thing about hockey playoffs: when the game is tied, you keep playing as long as it takes until somebody scores, and the first goal wins. Full fifteen-minute intermission, full twenty-minute period (or until someone scores), and if it's still tied after that, we take another full intermission and do it again. I've seen playoff games (on TV) go up to five overtimes (basically, a double-header of hockey) before being decided. Every shot suddenly becomes the potential game-winner, every save worth a million bucks. There's nothing in sports quite like it. And we were going overtime.

And overtime wasn't pretty, either. We took a penalty pretty early in. It was kind of a weak call, but not inconsistent with what they'd been calling all night, I guess. Down four men against five, we get whistled for ANOTHER penalty. Ruh-roh, George! Suddenly, in overtime of game five of a tied series with the rest of the games on the road, we were killing a FULL STINKING MINUTE of FIVE-ON-THREE! *flashbacks to last Saturday night* Well somehow, our boys get it done, and kill off the additional minute afterward, but it's still several minutes before we can start consistently getting pressure on the Peoria goal (which is now aaaaaallll the way on the other side of the ice for Dave and I). And wouldn't you know it, once we do start getting things going down there, Peoria is forced to take a penalty to stop us! Imagine that!

Here we are then, already ten minutes into overtime, trying to convert a powerplay. And just barely missing, more than once. Then, TWEET!!

That's right, the referee then updated his Twitter.

No, actually he called a second Peoria penalty, and suddenly the shoe is on the other foot (though our 5-on-3 only lasts 15 seconds). We don't score on the 5-on-3, but as so often happens in these overtime games...well here, I've immortalized the moment in Awesome Haiku Format:

Sudden-death OT.
Why is Legace so sad?
Noreau just beat him.

A shot from the blue line on the powerplay blasts over the glove of Mr. Incredible in the Peoria net, and just like that, down 2-0 with four to go becomes 3-2 overtime win and a 3-2 series advantage.

The Houston bench emptied in about half a second. The crowd, though small, went ballistic. Noreau was mobbed by teammates. Dave and I hugged. It was an AWESOME moment. Our ECHL goalie, our third-stringer, had out-dueled Mr. Legace for the third time despite facing far more shots, and this team which has faced nothing but long odds all year long pulled another one out and lives to fight another day.

Yes, we've still got to win one more, and it'll have to come in Peoria. But we've won there before. You could see stunned dejection on the Rivermen as they skated solemnly across the ice to their tunnel. "How did that happen?" their vacant stares seemed to say. Quote from the post-game story in the Peoria paper were priceless. Now we've got two chances to win one game. Which will be tough, but it's a heck of a lot easier than having to win two straight on the road.

And you know, we could still lose the next two and be done for the year. But if this was goodbye for the 2008-09 Aeros and I, this was a much fonder farewell than I thought I was getting with five minutes left in the third.

So, bravo Aeros, stick taps. Best of luck in Peoria, hope to see you back here against those nasty, overrated Admirals in a couple of weeks!

Aeros 3, Peoria 2 ot (Houston leads 3-2)
Rangers 2, Caps 1 (New York leads 3-1...WOW!)
Flames 6, Blackhawks 4 (Series tied 2-2)
Bruins 4, Canadians 1 (Boston sweeps, 4-0)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day One-Hundred One: Letters and Numbers

I'm about to head out on some heinous poster-hanging around town. Lame. Good for the economy, though.

Now that we're in triple-digits (numbering days, that is), I'm thinking about changing each of changing the way I name my posts. It would be so much simpler, after all, to type "Day 101" than it is to type "Day One-Hundred One". Furthermore, "One-hundred one" just doesn't roll off the tongue, though I'm fairly sure it's accurate. It would sound much better to say "One-hundred AND one," but I really think the "and" is incorrect. Of course, once you get past "One-hundred ten," the "and" sounds totally unnecessary and makes the larger numbers even more cumbersome than they already are. Finally, day numberings are going to start getting really long as we get closer to the end. I mean really, "Day Two-Hundred Seventy-Eight" is already a long post title, and I haven't even add any clever subtitle to it yet! Say I wanted to write a post entitled, "In Which We All Ate Creamy Mashed Potatoes and were Pleased." (That would be a really boring post, methinks) Suddenly I'm cramming the title line with "Day Two-Hundred Seventy-Eight: In Which We All Ate Creamy Mashed Potatoes and were Pleased." You've read so much title, you've probably lost all interest in reading post!

The conclusion, then, is that it would be far simpler to type numerals from here on out.


First, I believe there is something to be said for consistency. And I'm not going back to rename all of my posts to reflect the shift. So I either live with a sudden break in style, or I keep typing the words.

Second, I really don't like mixing letters with numbers where it can be avoided. (Yes, I'm aware that I just wrote that sentence in past tense, and I LIKE it that way!) "Jesus had twelve disciples." That's a sentence I wouldn't mind reading. "Jesus had 12 disciples." That took less time to type, but I hate the way it looks. Something in my mind just goes "Letters! And numbers! Collaborating! IT JUST ISN'T RIGHT! GAAAAHH!" (Or something like that)

Third and lastly, as I look to the left of my page (where it shows the names of my recent posts), I kind of like the way it looks with the day number written out and followed by the colon and the subtitle, lined up together with the word "Day" on the far left. I don't know why, but there's something aesthetically pleasing about that to my eye.

Here, then, is the final decision on the matter: From this point on, I will write very long, cumbersome blog post titles. I will do this because I like the way it looks and because it keeps with what I've been doing for the last three months. I will do this because this is my blog, and I'll run it the way I want to.

Now, on with your days. I've got posters to hang.


By the way, last night was a FANTASTIC night for great hockey games! There were four gems (and one dud). Dave and I are headed to The Yo for tonight's game five between the Aeros and the Rivermen, who get extra help because the stinkin' Blues couldn't manage to not get swept in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Thanks for nothing, Blues.

Pittsburgh 3, Philadelphia 1 (Penguins lead series, 3-1)
Carolina 4, New Jersey 3 (Best game and series of the playoffs thus far; series tied 2-2)
Detroit 4, Columbus 1 (Red Wings lead series 3-0)
Vancouver 3, St. Louis 2 ot (Canucks win series, 4-0)
San Jose 4, Anaheim 3 (Ducks lead series, 2-1)

And just a reminder, the Aeros and Rivermen are all tied up at 2 games apiece.

Now, on with your day. Again. I've got posters to hang.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day One-Hundred: Fun and Games

One hundred consecutive days of posting.


(This is the part where I ask myself, once again: "Why?")

This has mostly been a really fun project for me. (Calgary won last night, by the way) What I'm learning through this process is that, yes, I can discipline myself to do something. Imagine! This may have far-reaching consequences for the WannabeWordslinger universe!

Anyway, in celebration of our hundredth post, I've created a fun little game for you that you can print off and enjoy while you should be working. All the clues relate to one of the first hundred posts for this year. Most can be taken directly from the post titles, but not all. To play along, just click on the image below, and it should give you a printable page for crosswordslinging goodness!

There may be prizes for anyone who finishes. Maybe not. We'll see.

One-hundred down, two-hundred sixty-five to go!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day Ninety-Nine: Playoff updates and a happylink (Mom, you'll like this one)

If anybody has any ideas of something brilliant I could do for Day 100, let me know.

Caps win, Sean Avery does something stupid, and for a moment all seems to be right with the world again ;-)

Pens lead Flyers 2 games to 1
Rangers lead Caps 2 games to 1
Blackhawks lead Flames 2 games to 0 (game three currently on VS)
Ducks lead Sharks 2 games to 0
Bruins lead Habs 3 games to 0
Red Wings lead Blue Jackets 3 games to 0
Canucks lead the Blues something like 18 games to 0
Devils lead Hurricanes 2 games to 1

And the Aeros and Rivermen are tied at 2 games apiece.

Now, for the happylink (Mom, you'll want to click this one)


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day Ninety-Eight: Surprise (Part II)

Okay, here's my second surprise from yesterday.

And it's a doozie.

First, check out this video.

I'm serious. Even if you don't usually click on my links, you must check out that video.

Okay. So now that you're up to speed, go to this link.

I took their online test, and according to the online survey.......

I am very likely a Canadian citizen!!!!

(Playoff updates posted tomorrow. For now, I'm celebrating my heritage by watching the Ducks and Sharks and thinking that the NHL needs to move every team back to Canada. Just for tonight, at least)

Conversation my mom and wife just had:

Mom: That's just wrong. I'm so glad I got out of there.
Kim: According to this, you didn't!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Day Ninety-Seven: Surprise! (Part I)

This'll be a two-parter.

Today, my Mom hits me with a nice surprise: an early birthday present! Tickets to tonite's Aeros game and some cash for dinner! Huzzah!

So Tarvis and I head out to the game. As usual, we got there about an hour early...only to discover that the game was going to be starting an hour LATE. See, today was a bit of a monsoon in Houston (that's a slight exaggeration), so there was a span of a couple of hours when planes weren't landing here, and airports weren't sending out flights that had to land here until they knew the runways wouldn't be underwater. As the Aeros and Rivermen had played the previous night in Peoria (2-0 Aeros victory to tie the series up at 1), they had had to fly in to Houston for tonite's game. (See where this is going?) Fortunately for the visiting team, the Rivermen had caught an early flight and arrived in H-town about noon. The Aeros decided to sleep in and try for an early afternoon arrival...erm, not happening, it turns out, and their plane ACTUALLY landed about an hour before the pre-game skate was supposed to be. So, everything got pushed back.

It was a FANTASTIC game, by the way. Neither team played anywhere near flawless hockey, understandable given the circumstances, but the home team had just a bit more kick for just enough of the game to eke out a 2-1 win (and a 2-1 series advantage!) Mitch Love set the tone early on with by fighting some dude who was a good four or five inches taller than Love. Mitch dropped him with three punches, then turned to work the crowd. It worked, and the mostly-empty Yo was rocking.

Any suggestions on a nickname for emergency starting goaltender Anton Kbudobin? I'm thinking "Hootie" at this point.

I am going to try to get to Wednesday's game five if possible (Dave-o, I'm lookin at YOU!). Have to check with the family first, of course :-)

Another really interesting surprise today, but I'll blog on that later. 8:25 start time for your hockey game + highway 45 closed for construction on the ride home = late night and less mental cohesiveness for intelligible blogging.

See? Those two big words have apparently used the last of my word...slinger...ness...for tonight. Yeah. G'nite.

Playoff updates:
(Last night)
Pittsburgh 3, Philadelphia 2 (OT) (Penguins lead series 2-0)
Carolina 2, New Jersey 1 (OT) (Series tied 1-1)
Vancouver 3, St. Louis 0 (Canucks lead 2-0)

New York 1, Washington 0 (Rangers lead!)
Detroit 4, Columbus 0 (Red Wings lead 2-0)
Boston 5, Montreal 1 (Bruins lead 2-0)
Chicago 3, Calgary 2 (Blackhawks lead 2-0)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day Ninety-Six: Prayer request

I'm beat, folks.

(Much like the Canadiens, Sharks, Blue Jackets, and Flames, who now all trail their series' 1 game to 0)

Last night was long. Robbie is pretty stressed by the total overhaul of his life routine (in other words, his new day care). He's not falling asleep easily at night, and he' snot staying asleep for long. Last night we kept handing him off back and forth until 11:30 before he finally stayed down, and that only because I slept next to him on the floor in his room. He's also not feeling well, which certainly isn't helping the situation.

Anyway, he woke again at about 4:30 a.m., so then Kim and I switched, but I had to be up at 5 anyway for a 6:00 call for two performance of Biff, Bang, Kapowie in Katy this morning. Hence, I'm beat.

The prayer request, though, is for little Robbie. He needs to start sleeping normally again. For his health and ours, he needs to settle into his new routine. He also needs to get well. So if those of you who pray would, we'd greatly appreciate that.

Good news: my mom is here! Huzzah!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day Ninety-Five: The Itsy-Bisty Spider

Headline on the front page of the Chronicle this morning: "Bedbugs Creeping Back Up In Again". Well, crap.

Hm...interestingly, that story doesn't seem to be on the Chronicle's website. Curious..

Anyway, first-thing blogging this morning, since my mom is flying in this afternoon, and boy do I expect her arms to be tired!

For the record, the knitting movie Dave started late Monday night was awesome, and that's why I stayed for the whole thing and was late to blogging. So there's that.

Playoff update:
New York 4, Washington 3 (Wow! Rangers lead series 1-0)
Pittsburgh 4, Philadelphia 1 (Penguins lead series 1-0!)
New Jersey 4, Carolina 1 (Devils lead series 1-0)
Vancouver 2, St. Louis 1 (Canucks lead series 1-0)

AHL: Peoria 6, Houston 4 (Rivermen lead series 1-0)

Some really great games last night, especially in Washington and Vancouver!

All righty, on to today's blog title:

Robbie has taken to singing to himself. If he's playing alone in the living room and no one else is talking, he's likely to fill the silence with a song. The other day, while he was sitting in his high chair patiently waiting for dinner, we were treated with this familiar little ditty:

"Itsy bitsy spider wen up a water spout, down came rain and wash a spider out, up came sun and dry up alla rain, and itsy bitsy spider...wen up a water spout, down came rain and wash a spider out, up came sun and dry up alla rain and itsy bitsy spider...wen up a water spout..."

The poor kid became trapped in an unending loop. Every time he reached the end of the song, it started over. He couldn't remember how to end it. And that poor, tortured spider!

Fortunately, Kim stepped in the third time through the song, and after the sun dried up alla rain, she sang, "And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again." Robbie paused, looked at her, and then clapped his hands and said "Yay!"

Rest at last, poor little spider.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day Ninety-Four: Happy Tax Day!

I hope everyone got their taxes done on time.

Today is a strange day to look at the news. There are massive tea party tax demonstrations all over the country (which I saw and immediately thought, "Oh, come ON, people," but as I read on a bit I was actually fairly impressed with the non-hating, non-violent way these have taken place. Here's hoping they stay non-hating and non-violent). Then, in the suddenly escalating war against pirates, we find France kicking butt and taking names.

Seriously. Two months ago who would have guessed you'd see a headline about France vs. pirates on the front page?

Also, apparently there are signs of life (well, signs of slightly less death, anyway) for the worldwide economic plunge. (Wait, again? How many times do we have to see "glimmer of hope" stories before someone can up and say "There is hope! For real!")

And, North Korea is...being North Korea.

One would think this is almost enough insanity to distract from the opening of the NHL and AHL playoffs tonight.

One would be wrong.

6:00 Penguins & Flyers on TV
7:00 Aeros @ Rivermen on the radio
9:00 Blues v. Canucks on TV

It will be a good night.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Day Ninety-Three: In Which I Pretend to Know Something About Something

Last night was supposed to be part 1 of 2 for our first annual WannabeWordslinger Stanley Cup Playoffs preview, but then Dave decided to start some movie about knitting during WWII late last night, so I didn't have the stamina for a lengthy entry last night and you got something about Easter eggs.

That's how the WBW rolls, kids.

So tonight may be a little less in-depth than it may have otherwise been (then again, maybe not, we'll see) but you'll get the gist of it.

First, here's something to get you in the proper mood:

Let's face it, these things are just fun to do :-)

First round match-ups: Some fantastic ones, and some...meh...not as fantastic. But they'll all feature some great hockey and should be fun to watch. (Unfortunately, the only two channels that carry hockey in the U.S. have decided that some of these series' nobody cares about, and so we won't get to watch a single minute of some match-ups, while we'll get all seven games of others. That sounds fair)

Let's start in the East, shall we?

Yes. Yet another Montreal vs. Boston first round series. This happens just about every year, some way or another. Two "original six" teams with plenty of bad blood between them. These should be some FUN games to watch (though the networks say otherwise). That said, the series has the potential to be pretty lopsided, as the Bruins have been a powerhouse all season long, and the Habs just kinda collapsed their way into the eighth seed. Boston's got more offensive depth, better goaltending, and a freaking giant patrolling the blue line. They've got a great mix of vets and scrappy youngsters. That said, they haven't been the hottest of teams down the stretch, and if the Canadiens can get fired up enough in their underdog role--and if young Carey Price can become a maniac in net, a la Cam Ward in 2006 for the Hurricanes, then there's the potential for a pretty big upset. It'll be a long way to go, though, as the Bruins D should push the Canadiens around pretty much at will, and Montreal's best defender is hurt, and the rest of the Habs D corps are pretty old.
My guess: Boston in 5.

Not to take anything away from the Rangers, who showed some great improvement after John Tortorella stepped behind the bench about 3/4 of the way through the season, but the only way New York pulls off the upset is if Ovy suddenly stops scoring and Great Enigma Jose Theodore completely loses his game. Now, both of those things could happen, because they've both happened in the post-season before, but I wouldn't bet on it against this Rangers team. The Caps have got so many lethal weapons in their offensive arsenal, and the Rangers, well, don't score a whole lot. In fact, they don't really do anything great (though Coach Torts' high risk-high reward system of ATTACKATTACKATTACK has put them on the right track). Instead, they do a good job of doing just enough for the win, and that will get them into trouble when faced with the likes of Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, Green, and Kozlov. Things could get interested in this series because of the personalities involved. Ovy's a character; Sean Avery is a cartoon character. I wouldn't expect Avery to get under Alexander the Great's skin...but then this is a guy who got Marty Brodeur to take swings at him. (This was before Avery called the winningest goalie of all time "Fatso" on a television interview and long before his "Sloppy Seconds" comment got him suspended and kicked off the Dallas Stars) Potential for fireworks all over the ice with this interesting mix of personalities. My best guess: Washington in 5.

Speaking of Marty Brodeur, what a stranger year it's been for that guy! On pace to break the all-time wins record fairly early in the year, then he gets hurt--like, seriously hurt for the first time in his entire career--and the Devil's AHL goalie comes in and saves the day, playing almost 50 games and winning most of 'em to put the Devils in prime position to take the division. Marty comes back, plays stellar, breaks the record, suddenly can't stop a beach ball, the team limps to the finish line and still has the division title based on how well they played with Clemmensen in net and their awesome streak as Brodeur made history. (By the way, Clemmensen got sent back down to the AHL when Marty came back, but then the backup got hurt the last week of the season and he was called up once again. Strange year to be a goalie in NJ) Anyway, the Devils aren't playing their best hockey recently, and the Canes are playing theirs, and that's reason to worry for the fifteen or twenty Devils fans. (I kid.) I've seen teams fall apart at the end of the regular season who are suddenly bounced from the playoffs before they even realized they'd started. Carolina's got a pretty similar lineup to the team that won the Cup in 2006 (which was almost identical to the team that missed the playoffs in 2007), so they've got the experience to get it done. The Devils have actually got a pretty high-powered offense this year (don't tell all the hockey fans that are stuck in the mid-to-late 1990's!) but their defensive corps are suspect for the first time in recent memory. No disrespect to Johnny Oduya and Bryce Salvador, but there's not exactly a Scott Stevens/Scott Niedermayer in this group. For some reason the #3/#6 matchup in the East is almost always the best bet for an upset, and that's the case again this year. My best guess: Hurricanes in 5.

HECK yes! A rematch of last season's Easter Conference Finals, two BITTER rivals within spitting distance of one another, a TON of young offensive superstars, and one team that surged from 10th to 4th in about two months (Pittsburgh) while the other team had a pretty good grasp on 4th before slipping to 7th and settling for 5th (Philly). Game. On. I give Pittsburgh the edge in this one because goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has a whole other level he can play to that he hasn't shown yet this season. Last year it took a challenge from backup Ty Conklin to get him to kick his game into high gear; if the Stanley Cup Playoffs don't do it for you, kid, there's something wrong. I do like Martin Biron in Philly's net, but nothing about him reads "Cup Winner," or even "Playoff Performer." Additionally, the Pens have been tearing up the entire league since the coaching change. History, however, is not on their side. Historically, the team that loses the Stanley Cup one year rarely makes it out of the first round the next year. (And the only recent team that did make it out of the first lost in the 2nd) There are always these Weird Things that always seem to come true in hockey, and this is one of them. Nevertheless, I'm going to follow my heart on this one and say my best guess: Penguins in 7.

All righty, moving on to the West:

Dang, it's good to see someone other than Detroit as the #1 seed. The Sharks have a great chance to win it all this year. They are probably the best team to never have won a Cup. (That used to be Ottawa, but now Ottawa sucks) The Sharks brought in a bevy of Cup-winners this off-season, including the new coach. They'll know what it takes to win. In their way: one heck of a pesky, scrappy Anaheim team who won that there trophy just two years ago. Add the Ducks to the list of teams that got hot at just the right time to make the playoffs. It was looking pretty dismal for the house that Eisner built for most of the season, but a goaltending change and a hotshot rookie helped them find their game again. Plus, with Francois Beauchemin back and joining a blueline that already included Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger and Ryan Whitney, the Ducks have got some depth at just about every position. This will be a tough, nasty, physical series between two interstate rivals with a lot of talent and experience. My best guess: Sharks in 7.

Let's all congratulate the Blue Jackets on their first ever playoff berth! Yay, you guys! Columbus was the last team in the NHL to have made the playoffs, and the hockey community in Ohio is going nuts right now. However, the only way they're beating the Red Wings is if rookie 'tender Steve Mason steals the series and Red Wings keeper Chris Osgood plays the way he has all year. It's astounding the Wings have done so well with such terrible goaltending! They've got such incredible depth at every other position they've managed to make due with less-than-mediocre play between the pipes. It's quite the anomaly in this day and age. They say the playoffs are about goaltending, though, and if that's true then the Wings shouldn't repeat. Which, of course, doesn't necessarily mean they should have any trouble with the Blue Jackets. In years past, highly-favored Wings teams with suspect goalending have had a history in falling to nobodies with hot goalies (another one of those Weird Things), but there's really no reason to believe it's going to happen again. My best guess: Detroit in 4.

Man, I'd love to see the Blues win this series. Not only do I dislike the 'Nucks, but St. Louis had such a rough season, injury-wise. I mean, really? When your starting goalie goes down earlier in the year on account of the kookiest Vice Presidential Nominee in recent memory, you gotta think the Hockey Gods are out to get you. Nevertheless, in steps another young goalie named Mason to save the day, and these boys absolutely battled their hearts out all year to get here. Thing is, now they run into Roberto Luongo's Canucks, who've just been fantastic the last quarter of the season, and Luongo's playing like he's got a chip on his shoulder, which is bad news for the rest of the league, and Mats Sundin is nice and rested since he took the first half of the year as a vacation. The Canucks are a scary team right now, and they could be a pretty legit threat to the Big Two in the West when it comes time for a showdown. My best guess: Canucks in 6.

And, the Hawks are one of the best stories in hockey this year. A once-proud original six franchise, thrown in the toilet by an incompetent, greedy owner finally gets the opportunity to turn things around (after Scrooge's death, sadly) and makes it back to the post-season on the shoulders of some awesome kids and a goaltender with one of the best hockey names in history: Nikolai Khabibulin (Nickname: The Bulin Wall). What a fun team to watch, what a fun team to cheer for. Huzzah, Hawks! As for the Flames, well, they sort of petered out as the year wound down. This is a team that depends very heavily on a small number of players, and several of those players are struggling right now. Mikka Kiprusoff, where art thou? Dion Phaneuf, didst thou rattle thy own brain a bit too much? Calgary needs these guys to be huge if they're going to have any chance this post-season. My best guess: Chicago in 6.

So there's that. I'm actually usually not very good at these things, so don't go placing any bets based on my predictions. Just enjoy the hockey. This is the second most wonderful time of the year.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Day Ninety-Two: Post-Easter Egg Hunt

So many plastic eggs...

So many crappy cheap pink hard bubble gum pieces...

So many adjectives...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day Ninety-One: Witness to the Light (or something similar)

Last Friday was my church's Easter pageant, as I've mentioned before. It was, ya know, not exactly in the upper echelon of theatrical literature. Nor the middle echelon, actually. It was what it was, as these things often are.

Nevertheless, it was awesome. And now I'm gonna tell you why. ;-)

The program (which I believe was called "Witness to the Light," but as I rarely regarded the script, didn't get to a single rehearsal, and don't have a program, I'm not entirely sure about that) was far more epic in scale than the last Easter musical we did, More Than Just a Man, which was three years ago. You can say what you want about the new worship minister, but you can't call the man unambitious! This program featured a few songs and a LOT of monologues with quite a bit of pantomiming of Biblical sequences. Pretty par for the course for an Easter show. (No, no elephants on stage, but by Houston standards we're a pretty small church with little to no theatrical gusto)

This was a large-scale production run by amateurs. There were no seasoned actors in these roles, we had no theatrical carpenters putting together our tomb, our director's primary training came from a lifetime of telling folks what they ought to be doing.

And when you have that many people who don't really know the "right" way to do something like this, yet they come together to give one heck of a go of it anyway, it's always fun.

Sometimes you have to get outside the realm of professional artists to remember that art is fun. Don't misunderstand me, I love my job and I appreciate the professionalism we hold ourselves to (when we're holding ourselves to professionalism, that is), but when your director shouts back at you "Don't laugh! This is surgery!" during a rehearsal you sometimes lose a bit of the joy that comes from the fact that, at its core, theatre is fun.

So here we are, a company of fifty or so non-actors (many non-singers, too); we are youth, we are young marrieds, we are couples class, we are senior adults. We are teachers, scientists, lawyers, students, and financial advisers. (Oh, and then there's me, which is kinda funny, because I felt more like a guest artist than part of the cast, since I'd been in Phoenix rehearsals during every single Witness rehearsal and had just learned my speech the day before. For the record, I brought the house down. Kim said afterward that I should have warned the choir that my monologue was going to be funny, since none of them had ever heard it before) Then you add the dynamic of the audience: they're our friends, our family members, our church family. Friends and family always have an added level of enjoyment for a show, because they see not only the show, but also the people behind it. "Mr. Friendly Church Deacon Who Greets Everybody Every Week is a Roman soldier--and by gosh, he's good at it! I didn't know he could do that!" That sort of thing.

To a distinguished theatre crowd, it would probably have been too long, too slowly paced, too heavy. But there was no distinguished theatre crowd. There was just us. And cast, crew, and audience, we were one, and we enjoyed the undertaking together.

Like I say, it was awesome.

Happy Easter, all. (Though when most of you read this, it will be Monday, but I think they have Easter Monday in Canada, so pretend you're in Canada. And send me a post card while you're there)

UPDATE: Hockey playoffs start Wednesday!!! Guess what we'll be discussing at WannabeWordslinger for the next couple of days? ;-)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day Ninety: Checklist

Item on the Official Checklist of Fatherhood:

"Unscrewing the U-Pipe Under the Sink to Rescue Your Wife's Favorite Earrings"


Friday, April 10, 2009

Day Eighty-Nine: Nick Adenhart is dead

I know most of my loyal readers took a look at today's blog title and immediately thought, "Who?"

Nick Adenhart was a 22-year-old rookie pitcher for my team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (still hate the extended name, by the way). Wednesday night he made his first start of the year (and fourth of his career) and pitched six scoreless innings, with five strikeouts and three walks. After the game, he went out for a ride with a couple of his friends when a drunk driver ran a red light and killed them all.

Number three starting pitcher at 7:00, dead just after midnight. It happens fast sometimes.

Here's the story, if you're interested, from the Angels' web site.

Now, I'm a sports fan, and I (as do all fans) have a tendency to place pro athletes on this other plane of existence. Not that they're better than the rest of us necessarily, but they are different. Some folks do this with actors. Some with politicians. All we see of them is the manifestation of their work, and we tend to forget that they're normal folks with lives and families and friends and such.

Then, there's something like this that brings everyone back to a level playing field.

Adenhart was 22. Okay, I'm 26. I have learned and felt and experienced SO MUCH in those four (almost five) years between his age and mine. I had many aspirations when I was 22. Some of them I've achieved, and they've spurred me on to newer, bigger things. Others I'm still working toward. I've also got aspirations now that I'd never dreamed of when I was that age.

Sorry for the rambling, I think I'm just using this to sort out the thoughts in my own head. But here, I think, is what gets me the most about this kind of incident: in the past two years, my shows--whether they be in our children's theatre, on tour, or at one of the schools that have produced my stuff--have played to over 9,000 people, most of them children. Stories of acceptance, of dreams, of peer pressure, of Immanuel, et cetera. Next year, a new show on child drug use is going to hit the road. I don't know how often any of these stories have left a suitably lasting impression, but I have been getting inklings from all over lately that they have stuck with many people in different ways. When I was 22, I hadn't written any of them. Sometimes it's almost breathtaking to look back and see how much God has blessed me and my work in the past four (almost five) years. Then you see someone young and promising like Nick Adenhart, and wonder what the years ahead may have held for him.

And of course, a drunk driver. Always. So freaking unnecessary.

Anyway, I don't mean to depress everyone. I think there's a message of hope in all of this mess. I am young, yes, and I have some exciting things on the horizon. But I'm not promised any of them. A sudden loss of life always reminds me exactly how precious life actually is. Undoubtedly, I will be thrilled, once I've passed on from this existence to my eternity with my Lord and my God, but until that time I've been given this, today, now, as a gift. I'll never have this exact life again. Robbie will never be going-on-two again. Kim and I will never be still-fairly-newlyweds again. Dave, Tarvis, and I will never discover Das Biest for the first time again. I'll never win my first new play contest again. I will revel in these happenings of life as they happen, and then take the advice of the eminent sage, Dr. Seuss: "Don't cry because it' over. Smile because it happened."

So smile, friends. Find something in your life that is worth celebrating, and smile.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Day Eighty-Eight: Arm-punching update

Three of three arm-punches delivered. It's a hit! (No pun intended!) I think I may have found a new gimmick.

You know, just in case I needed another gimmick...

Anyway, I ought to be looking over my lines for my church's Easter program, which is tomorrow. I've missed every single rehearsal due to A Phoenix Too Frequent, but I told the director that would be the case ahead of time and he was fine with it. Well, okay. I'm cool if you're cool, I guess. It's actually not too bad of a monologue, though the program itself...leaves something to be desired...meh...still, it's a way to help out at my church, and I'm glad to do that.

It'll be good when things get back to a normal schedule at home. That is, until I get bored from not having any performance/directorial projects that I'm currently working on ;-)

All right, back to either work or lines. Here's to a solid opening for Phoenix!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day Eighty-Seven: A Blogging Too Frequent?

First, this.

I'd like to write about how proud I am of the cast of A Phoenix Too Frequent, opening tomorrow night and running through Saturday. For some reason, however, I'm having a great deal of trouble putting that sentiment into words accurately.

I'm really not that good with words when it comes to things that matter. It's a big part of the reason why I tend to shy away from debate and oration. I'm simply not good at communicating the things that I feel passionate about. And that's awfully frustrating quite often. Tonite, for example, I went to Wal Mart and was going to buy congratulatory cards for all the actors, but the cards were all lame. Then I was going to write little notes for everyone, but I couldn't say it quite right, and everything started sounding uncannily hokey and insincere. So I'll probably just give 'em a friendly punch on the arm tomorrow or something.

I'm more of a punch in the arm kinda guy, I guess.

Anyway, I'd invite anybody reading this to come to the show, but apparently all four performances are completely sold out. I don't believe that's ever happened for our Easter program in company history. We're going to give them a great show, even though it won't be the show they're expecting to see.

I'll close tonight with a quote from the playwright, Christopher Fry, a Christian who believed that it was not necessary for God to be named in order for Him to be honored: "Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Day Eighty-Six: Of Tiger Sharks

Did you know that, unlike most sharks, tiger sharks give birth to live young? And that sometimes, the 10-80 unborn sharks developing in the mother will eat one another?


Monday, April 6, 2009

Day Eighty-Five: Sometimes, situations just suck

Right now, there's a situation at my workplace that is bringing me fresh misery every second or third day. It's not the end of the world, and it won't last for too long, but in the meantime, it just kinda sucks. It's dreary and frustrating, and there's not really anything I can do about it, and that makes it worse.

Really, though, that's life. There are few seasons I can point back to when there hasn't been something utterly frustrating going on. Who ever really believed that everything was going to be perfect all the time? Even when 90% of the world is going your way, there's still going to be something that threatens to rain on your parade at any given moment.

And you know what I realized today? That's okay.


It's not a bad thing to be going through some minor or major crisis at any given point in time. (When you get five or six of 'em ganging up on you, that's another story) I remember one time a few years ago when home life was great, church life was great, but work was terrible. I guess that's why my portfolio o' joy is nice and diversified.

I get joy from the time I get to spend with my family. I look forward to next week, when there will be more of it.

I get joy from the time I spend at church, whether it be Sunday morning, teaching the AWANA kids, or the occasional choir practice I can make.

I get joy from the time I get to spend writing. I fully appreciate the accomplishments that have come from that belabored field lately.

I get joy from my job, far more often than not. Even now, the majority of time I spend at work is good.

So if this particular set of circumstances is going to drive me crazy, I guess that's okay. It's going to pass. It usually does. And then something else will likely take its place.

My hope is in the name of the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. And as long as He's my constant, I'll be okay when certain situations just suck.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Day Eighty-Four: A good weekend for the Wannabe Wordslinger

Eighty-four is a number that has a special place in my heart. It brings back fond memories of the old, higher-scoring four-division NHL, when the season was eighty-four games as opposed to eighty-two.

Moving on, thanks to Tarvis for filling in yesterday. I like guest bloggers. Stay tuned, you never know who you'll find on here next time!!

This weekend was great for my confidence as a playwright, which had taken a bit of a hit lately for no good reason. A recap of the confidence-boosting events of the past 48 hours:

Saturday morning: a script reading for my direct supervisor, the director of the touring department at the Players. We read Teammates, a drug awareness script I wrote not quite a month ago. It went really well! Got some very good feedback that should result in some simple rewriting, and I think there's a good chance we'll take Teammates on the road for the 2009-10 school year. It's always fun to hear your words read by REAL ACTORS. I mean reading plays to yourself is great and all, but let's face it, theatre is written to be heard and seen, not to be read silently. I love readings, and this one was all kinds of constructive fun. But the encouragement was over because....

Saturday evening: Hanging out with Tarvis. Every writer needs a friend like Tarvis (I am actually quite blessed to have a small handful of this sort of friend): somebody who always likes to hear what you're working on and is excited about the different projects you've got coming up. In short, every artist could use a fan club ;-) Tarvis and I never get together without at least discussing one of the thing I've been turning over in my head lately, and he always manages to look genuinely interested. I don't know if he realizes how great an encouragement that is to me, but since he reads this blog almost religiously I suppose he does now. So, thanks for that, Lil Buddy. Though the really exciting stuff was still to come...

Saturday, late night: I checked the mail walking from the front gate to my apartment and found a nice big folder from Eldridge Plays, the company I know is publishing my first script, and adaptation of Why the Bells Chimed, this summer. I take the envelope and hurry home with it before tearing in. Inside there is a letter and a bound copy of Why the Bells Chimed with my name on the front cover. The cover art isn't extravagant, but for me, it's beautiful. I've got to give the script a good thorough once-over and give them the final okay, and then I'm in the July 2009 catalog and on the web site. Admittedly, this is not the greatest script I've written, and of the ones that have been produced it's probably the weakest, but it's a great story and a nice little Christmas play, easily producible, and our audiences enjoyed it when we toured it a couple of Christmases ago. Holding that script in my hand is also a nice little reminder of the afternoon my boss (not the boss from two paragraphs ago, the BIG boss) caught a rehearsal and gave me such flattering compliments as "I'm grateful that you've tried, but I think you've bitten off more than you could handle," and, "What I just saw wasn't a play. There was no play there," and, "I don't think audiences will accept this." Ah, good times :-) But oh, there's more...

All of the above items were more or less planned, or at least not unexpected. I knew the reading was coming, hanging out with Tarvis is always good, and while the script wasn't entirely expected, it wasn't exactly a new development, either. This afternoon's episode, though, is a different story.

Back story: a couple years ago, I wrote a short play for Kim as a Christmas present. She liked it, I wanted to rewrite it, but never really got to it until about a month ago. (Remember Will 3, Deadlines 0?) I wrote the script, we held a reading of this (and Teammates) a couple of days later, and I made some notes about a few rewrites I wanted to make. Lovely.

The next day at work, I find a contest for new plays being held by a small company in Lubbock, Texas. They're looking for both children's and adult plays from Texas playwrights, and I think, "Heck, why not? The worst thing that can happen is that they can say no." And I fully expected them to, because I hadn't made any of my brilliant rewrites or edits yet (and didn't have time to before the next day's deadline), and because it's got some not-so-subtle Christian language dancing throughout the dialogue, and it just didn't seem like a script that would get chosen from a field of 16 or 18 others for a public reading at a new plays festival.

Until, that is, this afternoon.

Pulling off the upset win of the weekend, it's The Girl Who Wore Golden Clothes with its surprise acceptance in the Cordell Green New Plays Festival at the C.A.T.S. Playhouse in Lubbock on May 9th. Now I have to email back and ask if they will at least allow me to make those editorial changes I had been hoping to make before letting anyone else see the script!

Six winning plays were selected and will have public readings with CATS actors and directors, and I understand they plan to choose one for production the following season. Again, I don't have terribly high expectations to be that one play, but you never know. We got this far ;-) Plus, it's a good credit to have when marketing the play to other theatre companies for possible production.

And there was a bit of icing on the cake, too, though I can't write it hear because, well, you never know who could be reading. Ask me in person, though, and I'll let you know. It's really, really good icing ;-)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Day Eighty-Three: Guest Blog #2!!!

Hey all, it's time for another guest blog!! This is a little something I like to do to shake things up from time to time. This is also fun for me, because I never know exactly what my guest blogger will say. (He just said "Oh no!" as he read this over my shoulder, incidentally)

Anywho, tonite's guest blogger is none other than longtime friend Tarvis the Mighty, a. k. a. The Iron Lung, a. k. a. 'Lil Buddy, a. k. a. New Uncle Travis! (maybe he'll talk about that. I dunno)

Now, the opinions expressed below do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Wannabewordslinger. Now Tarvis is going to write, and I'm going to play Mario Kart. Or get some snacks. Or option B followed by option A.

K, here's Tarvis:


Well, if you hadn't ascertained from the fact that I said, "Oh no!" as I read Will's above commentary, Will kinda sprung this on me as he was writing, so I haven't exactly thought about what I'm gonna say just yet.

I did recently become an uncle (my sister had Sonora Elaine Castro on April 1st). However, as Robin lives in Oklahoma City and I live in Houston, and seeing as how I have only thus far received 4 pictures and word of the actual event, it has yet to really become 'real' to me, so I don't have much to say on that.

Will says I can't say anything derogatory about him as his guest blogger, so I won't comment on how bad he got creamed on Mario Kart just now. Also, he's not ugly, and he doesn't smell bad.

I have and idea! I will write about some recent experiences with Houston traffic (cliche, I know, but Will didn't give me any warning). In the past 3 days, I have been honked at once a day for doing something that unintentionally inconvenienced the person honking, and would not have endangered anyone had the honker had they not been so impatient themselves (if anyone was endangered at all).

First, 2 days ago, I was making a left turn on Westheimer without a stoplight (I don't know who reads Will's blog, so I'll go ahead and just say Westheimer is a pretty busy street that runs right through the middle of the city). The traffic to my left had cleared, and there was only one car left to wait on to my right, so I pulled out into the middle of the intersection, intending to wait on that one remaining car. This person got over into the far lane, so I decided to go ahead and complete the turn. *HOOOONK!!* And then the person got back into my lane, as if I had been in their way.

Second, yesterday, I was getting on the highway, and while on the on-ramp, an SUV got behind me. Now, this SUV was driven by the classic impatient driver: accelerated quickly to 20 mph over the speed limit, slammed on his breaks when he got close to me, and then hung out 2 inches from my bumper. When I got on the highway, I put on my blinker because I needed to get over, and because I didn't want this guy following me anymore. I look at my mirror: clear. I look at my blind spot: clear. I get over: *HOOOONK!!* Apparently the guy behind me had decided to get over between the time I looked in my mirror and the time I got over and accelerated extra fast to keep me from getting over (because he knew I wanted over; that's why I had my blinker on). When he did this, he was just behind my field of vision while looking over my blind spot, so I didn't see him. Completely my fault and a 'honkable' offense, right?

Third, today, I was on the highway again, and someone several cars up slammed on their brakes for some reason. Naturally, the whole line of cars, including myself, also had to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting the person in front of them. Now, I probably could have stopped in time anyway, but just to be safe, I veered partway off onto the shoulder (because this occurred in the right lane)to avoid the car in front of me. The line of cars started moving again, so I got back fully into the right lane. *HOOOONK!!* Apparently the guy behind me had decided to try and get in front of me while he had half the right lane to do so.

I have to admit, this kinda streak is unusual for Houston, despite what everyone says about it. However, it's getting a bit frustrating. I try not to get mad at these people. I ask God for patience. But when it just keeps happening over and over again, it grates on you.

I feel better now. I think I'm gonna play Mario Kart with Will.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Day Eighty-Two: Oh, blog...'s never my intention to put this off until the last thing of the day, but with the way my schedule has been these past few weeks, that's been what's been happening. As a result, there's been an inordinate amount of rambling and other drivel (with some actually decent blogging mixed in every now and again. Go me).

I look forward to Saturday. It's a week away. (I realize the calendar says Saturday started an hour ago, but when Saturday involves working from 9 to 9, it doesn't really feel like it should count) I will do housework and car shop and be with my family. It will be fantastic.

One week from now, A Phoenix Too Frequent will be over. What an unusual journey this has been. There have been some very high highs, and there have been some "I'm-going-to-throw-my-keys-across-the-theater-oh-crap-they-got-stuck-in-the-wall" lows this past week. Is that what art is? I dunno. I hated theory and crit. Anyway, it's hard to believe we're that close from being done, when it still feels like opening is so far away.

Time has little to no meaning in theatre, I'm afraid. It's both good and bad.

I will say that it is a pleasure to be working so closely with three of my best friends in the entire company. I'm glad that we have this experience to share. I swear I will one day write four characters based off the four of us. Nobody may ever realize it but me, but I'll know, and that'll be good enough.

By the by, we should be announcing our next season pretty soon, so stay tuned for that. I'm sure I'll have something clever to say about it when the time comes.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Day Eighty-One:Cold oatmeal

The other night, while I was settling down to a bowl of late-night oatmeal for a snack, I heard Robbie fussing via the baby monitor by the phone.

I'll let him settle himself back to sleep, I thought, as he so often does. Then, in the place of tiny sobs, I hear, "Milk. Milk. Milk. Milk." He's not putting himself back to sleep.

I go into his room and find him barely half-awake, but turning from side to side and asking for milk. I pick him up. It's been almost 48 hours since I've seen the kid, and it's nice to hold him again. He snuggles up against my chest. "You want some milk?" I ask. "Mm-hmm," he replies, and I carry him to the kitchen.

We had just a very little bit of milk left, as Kim was planning to go grocery shopping the next day, so I pour what we have left into a sippy cup and hope that it's enough for him. We go back to his darkened room and I sit in the glider-rocker, rocking gently and silently as he slowly--VERY slowly--gulps down his milk.

When he finishes the last of the milk, I take the sippy and set it down by the foot stool. His eyes are a little more open now, and he looks quasi-clearly up at me. I stand with him in my arms.

"Are you ready to go back to sleep?" I whisper.

"Mm-hmm," he replies. I carry him to the crib.

"Do you want your bear?" I ask.

"Bear," he replies softly. I set him down and put his bear down in front of him. He grabs the bear--whom he named "Grr"--around the neck and snuggles up to it. I also put his blanket over him and quietly walk away. He's facing the wall.

Just as I get to the door, he says, completely unprompted, "I wuvoo." It melts my heart. I smile. "I love you," I answer him, then close the door and leave him to his dreams.

My oatmeal was no longer warm. I didn't mind.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Day Eighty: Fools!

I have no great love for April Fool's Day.

Fake headlines. Bogus facebook statuses. Bloggers playing with their more gullible followers. Even the occasional co-worker who's got some fantastic claim which you wouldn't believe any other day of the year, but supposedly it's going to "get you good" on this day.

It's tiresome.

I think the first thing that really bugs me about April Fool's Day is that most people just really aren't very good at it. Look, I understand that a lot of people aren't really funny, and I'm not going to tell you not to tell a joke just because you can't tell it well. I may, however, ask you to stop after awhile, especially if nobody is reciprocating your joke with laughter. It's painful when you don't recognize the difference between patient graciousness and amused interest. Well, April first draws out a LOT of those people. I'm all for a good prank, but please, please, PLEASE let it be a good one. Don't tell me that there's a snake in the men's room, and then in the middle of my best "what the heck are you talking about" look I can muster, shout "April fool's!" and laugh. Yeah, you got me, all right.

And now we have the Internet. Those who lack any semblance of cleverness now have a potential audience of BILLIONS! (Okay, millions) And they my be sports reporters you like to read, they could be Twitter friends of yours, they could be web page editors...who knows? You never know where they'll pop up, and you can't really avoid them, but you can be sure that once they've done their worst, it. Will. Be. Lame!

(With that said, I have to say that I did see/hear a few really good pranks today. Surprisingly, my boss won the day, at least in my book. To me, a good prank is one that everybody laughs long and hard about afterward, especially the pranked, and she got that this afternoon in rehearsal, so kudos, boss!)

The second thing that bugs me most about April Fool's Day is that I wouldn't be able to get in on the festivities, even if I wanted to! Turns out, I throw around so many bogus comments throughout the year that people come to expect them from me. (If you carry regular conversation with me very often, you know what I'm talking about; otherwise, just trust me, it's okay. People like it, and nobody gets hurt) (Also, I am aware this could very possibly put me into the category of people I described a few paragraphs ago, but I've received great encouragement to continue my random, quirky, misleading conversation-starters, so I've stuck with them) An 'April Fool's' would be just another silly side-comment to most of my friends.

Maybe I should declare next April 1 to be April Truth Day, where I only tell the truth all day long with no sarcasm and no silly proposterosities to anybody.

Man...that could have gotten me in trouble once or twice today, now that I think about it.

On second thought, I've got plenty of holidays to celebrate. I think I can let April 1st just sorta slide altogether...