Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day One-Hundred Sixty-Seven: Sirens

So, I've got Internet here, but it's borrowed, and it's not my computer. And since yesterday's entry (regarding the trip up here) is on my computer, you'll get (Don't feel too cheated; like Day One of the NHL draft this year, it's not very exciting)

Kim is off with two of her sisters and Robbie going shopping, so they could show up at any moment and then I'll be done blogging for the day. It's been a long time since I've spent any amount of summer in a midwestern state. The tornado sirens just went off for their weekly test-run. Ah, memories. I really hope we get a "real" thunderstorm while I'm out here; the only storms we've had in Houston that I would have classified as "real" storms were all in the past twelve months, and two of them had names. Seems there should be a happy medium between rain and hurricane.

Ugh. I hate trying to type with a new keyboard. This particular compy has lost its "S" key, so there's a gaping hole where the "S" should be and I have to make sure I hit just the right part of the sensor to get the "S" to actually type. It's a little annoying, but I'm starting to get the hang of it.

(Fun blog post idea: try to type an entire entry without using the letter "S". Book recommendation: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. Read it, love it, thank me later)

Anywho, I think I hear them getting back, so I'm logging off. Nice, hot day outside. Gorgeous blue sky. Hope you all enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day One-Hundred Sixty-Five: If they don't win, it's a shame...

First, some housekeeping: I'll be hitting the road with my family tomorrow morning for hot, blustery Oklahoma and Kansas. I'll have Internet some days, and I won't have Internet some days. (My prediction: I get quite a bit of writing done on the "non-Internet" days) Basically, expect posting to be somewhat erratic, but rest assured I'll be writing and updating as I can.

If I were to guess, I'd say that I'll have updates posted tomorrow and Saturday, then next Wednesday through Friday, and I'll double-post as necessary till we're all caught up.

Ah, vacation.

We'll be back in Houston late on the 5th, but I may wait until the 6th to resume regular posting (depending on how late on the 5th we get here)


Finally went to my first Astros game last night. I'm not particularly an Astros fan, but I do love going out to the ball park to catch a live game. There's no atmosphere in sports quite like it. It's a fairly relaxing and enjoyable way to take in an evening, and last night was no exception. Good thing, too, because I had so much stinking exposure to the sun and the 104-degree Houston afternoon yesterday that I was ready for something relaxing and pleasant by game time.

I went with WBW's unofficial baseball correspondent Dave, and we got upper-upper deck seats, hot dogs, drinks, and bags of chips for $10. Fantastic deal. Good hot dogs, too.

This was my first MLB game in...I dunno, eight years? More? Since I saw the Angels play the Royals in Kansas City. I think my sister was still in undergrad at that point (so I was in high school! SO LONG AGO!).

Minute Maid Park has a retractable roof, and it was mercifully closed last night, so it was the first ball game I'd ever been to that took place indoors. That was really weird at first, and we were probably into the fifth inning before it really felt like I was at the ballpark. Once I got used to it, though, it was a really nice stadium. I love the giant window looking out on the Houston skyline. (Well, one of them, anyway)

The Astros played the Royals, and it was probably the quirkiest baseball game I've been to since that duck rammed head-first into the outfield wall at a Wrangers game back in 1999. (Again, SO LONG AGO!) You had a misguided inside-the-park homerun fail, a pinch-hit 2-run go-ahead home run from one of my favorite former Angels (from the World Series team; now an older player hitting .135 going into last night's game), five innings of perfect baseball from a KC pitcher who went in with an ERA of over six, a blown ninth-inning Astros lead after an all-star first baseman went Bill Buckner and the unusual geometric design of the outfield wall turned a double-play into a base hit, extra innings, something like $50 million going a combined 0-for-20 or something like that, and lead-off extra-inning home runs in both the tenth and eleventh for Royals players as the home team lost 4-3 in eleven.

Of course, all of that was stretched out over three and a half hours. It wasn't nearly that mind-boggling all at once.

It was a good time, though. Hopefully I'll be able to make it out to another game or two at some point this year. I know people assume I don't care about any sport but hockey, but really that's never been anywhere near the truth, and there are few treats like a live baseball game (even if I hadn't been able to make it out to one for the past four seasons, despite my best intentions).

One great thing about baseball: the atmosphere is so much more family-friendly than at other sporting events. Some of this is, as Dave pointed out, all the families sit in the upper-upper deck because that's all they can afford, and some of it is that the more leisurely (there's another word that doesn't fit the I before E except after C rule or when it says AY as in neighbor or weigh rule) pace of the game doesn't keep the adrenaline/emotions churning at a feverish rate for an hour on end. You just sit, watch, enjoy the company, and cheer when something good happens. It's a grand old time. Unlike Aeros games, this is an event I could start bringing Robbie to in a couple of years and not worry about what he's going to see or hear. And it's nice for there to be a corner of the sports world where it's still easy to be a parent.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day One-Hundred Sixty-Four: "I" before "E" except after tea...

While things are a bit slow this morning...

The British have declared war on language.

Well, good for them, I suppose. I guess it is technically "their" language, and we're all just borrowing it. However they want to teach it is probably the right way. After all, these are the people who very likely gave us Shakespeare!!!

In my grade school, we had an addendum that seemed to work pretty well at the end of that little rhyme: "I before E except after C, or when it says AY as in neighbor or weigh." It wasn't perfect, but that seemed to serve pretty well for the most part.

Except, of course, when it came to "weird."

It has not been too long since I finally started typing "weird" correctly the first time. (The new mnemonic device I use for that one is," Weird is spelled weirdly.") I had "I before E except after C and when it says AY like in neighbor or weigh" so deeply ingrained in my brain that my inner Old Testament-lover could not shake itself free of the rigid grammatical laws it had been bound by, no many how many times I misspelled the word.

Wierd. (Red squiggly underline) Weird.

So, it's entirely possible that the Britons have a perfectly valid point on this one. Again, it is their language. And I suppose "I before E except after C or when it says AY like in neighbor or weigh, or unless you're spelling the word weird, in which case you're on your own, kid, and good luck to you" just doesn't quite roll off the tongue.

I'm fairly proud of today's post title, by the way.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day One-Hundred Sixty-Three: The New Darfur

The Internet has exploded.

You can't go anywhere without seeing images of Iran, support for Iranian protesters, or headlines outlining what President Obama is or is not saying about the actions of the Iranian government.

Everybody cares.

And that's good. I'm sincerely glad to see folks all around the world get so up-in-arms and fired up at violence and/or oppression by corrupt governments toward civilians exercising what are supposedly their rights, be they rights of citizenship or basic human rights. Hopefully, this is the kind of thing most decent people around the world can band together against. If we can't, then we've become Nineveh or Sodom and deserve utter destruction.

The sickening thing (on this side of the pond) is when folks start using issues like Iran as a chip in their pile. When it suddenly becomes a partisan issue (like Iraq did). When it becomes an artistic gold mine (as 9/11 did). Also, when everyday folks like you and I take an issue like this and make it a banner we proudly wave, reminding ourselves how conscious of the world around us we are because we deplore the atrocities being inflicted upon our common man. We fume about their plight as we drive by the loser with the cardboard sign standing on the corner on our way to work.

I remember the public outcry about Darfur not that long ago when a group of celebrities and musicians decided to use their social influence to further that particular cause. It was just awesome! People donating money to help with the cause, folks actually contacting their government to take action (rather than the customary sitting at home and complaining that the government doesn't do anything), the innocent people getting massacred in Darfur were put on the world stage. Darfur headlines were everywhere you looked.

Until, you know, we got over it.

I want to be clear here (and I know that is NOT my strong point): I am NOT condemning any of these campaigns, nor the response to them, nor any of us who join the throng in rightly opposing these great evils when they surface. That's not my intent. I'm not attempting to criticize anyone except those who use world crises for personal gain, like I mentioned a few paragraphs above, and to my knowledge I don't know anybody personally who has done so.

All that I am saying today is this: if you oppose the evil in Iran, and I believe we should and I stand with those who do, you must remember that evil does not only reside in the regions that are spotlighted on the six o'clock news, nor the pictures shown on the Net, the tweets on Twitter, or the videos on Youtube. Need is everywhere. In our zeal, let us not lose sight of those who are suffering at the hands of corrupt governments all across the African continent, bystanders living in daily terror from Middle-Eastern terrorists, Americans living under bridges and living for the next Meals-On-Wheels drop-off, Chinese babies abandoned on doorsteps due to a one-child-only policy, and victims of race wars and ethnic cleansing across the globe.

Oppose evil, wherever it shows itself, in whatever way you can. Pray for the people of Iran. Pray for the people of Darfur. Pray for the Sunnis and the Shiites, pray for the orphans, the widows, the diseased, the impoverished, the victim, the killer, the hateful, the dying.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day One-Hundred Sixty-Two: Moving on

All right, so yesterday was pretty miserable.

To be more precise: yesterday was fine; I was pretty miserable. Remember how I said I was going to bed at ten on Saturday? Yeah, it happened, but I couldn't fall asleep, so I got back out of bed and never settled to sleep until around three in the morning. It's been like that most of the week, but add the physical exhaustion of Saturday to it, and it made for a pretty lousy Sunday.

I was grumpy. That's an understatement. I did everything in my power to keep that from ruining everybody else's day; I actually did a pretty good job and not exploding at anybody. Some of the grouchiness bled over into this morning (after another night of 5-or-less hours of sleep), but I'm pretty good for now. On the way to work, I decided that today was going to be better than yesterday was.

So far, that's working out for me all right.

Oh, and it's Megashark Monday. (Doot doo, doot doot do doo)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day One-Hundred Sixty-One: Fathers' Day 2009 (Updated)

Happy Fathers' Day


Update, 11:18 p.m.

I've been informed that writing three words doesn't count as blogging.

You know what? I hate coconut. I've only eaten one thing in my life that I've liked that had coconut in it. And when I ate a second one, I didn't like it anymore.

I used to roll up bologna and processed cheese single slices together when I was a kid. It was one of my favorite snacks.

It seems like everybody in grade school but me had a funny story involving a chicken. For the first time in my life, I have begun to question the validity of many of these stories.

Rumors that the guy who played the carjacker in the first Spider-Man film (and reprised that role for an extended flashback in SM3) will be back for Spider-Man 4.

Tomorrow is Megashark Monday. Celebrate as you deem appropriate.

Ice cream is great. Burgers are great. Bits o burgers in ice cream? Not so great.

I'm assuming, anyway.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day One-Hundred Sixty: Will is Not a Tank

Yesterday was long, so today will be short, okey-dokey?

I can hardly believe I am so completely exhausted tonight. We closed Riddle of the Rainbow today. It had a good run, I think, all things considered. Afterward, I stayed at the theater and had lunch, because I was the only one of the cast who was called to help strike the set and load in the Steel Magnolias set. (Actually, I ended up on lights duty, not set duty; also, while I was the only actor called, it is worth noting that our stage manager and box office manager were also called to strike, so they were there just as long as I was--longer, by the end of the night) Fortunately, I was only called until about six (which ended up being seven after dinner was included), when Tarvis got out of rehearsal for that other show and took my place. All told, I put in about a ten-hour day. Not the worst thing in the world, and I know there were folks there who did more strenuous labor than I did in that time and stayed longer than I did (though most of them didn't have to be there in the morning to do the show). However, I also got about four hours of sleep last night. And not more than five hours any one night this week. I think that's probably the biggest factor.
So. Crazy exhausted. Actually going to bed at ten tonight. Had a lot I wanted to get done around the house, but I am literally having trouble standing up straight for too long. Which is actually kinda fun, but hardly productive at all. Sooner or later, my body reminds me that I am not, in fact, a robot, and that if I don't get a lot of sleep--and soon!--it may force me to. And as I've got a vacation coming up next weekend that I'd rather not be sick for, I'm going to heed its warnings and get as much rest as possible over the next couple of days.

In closing: congrats and thanks to everyone involved in Riddle; congrats and thanks to everyone involved in strike. And congrats and thanks to the Pens, just for the heck of it.

And to you, my loyal readers.

And the makers of the original Jurassic Park movie. Cuz that was awesome.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day One-Hundred Fifty-Nine: Tim the Tank

Last night's NHL awards show was...underwhelming. (Really, most things about the NHL--except for the product itself--are generally underwhelming) Nevertheless, there were some very nice moments.

Y'all know I'm a sucker for those nice inspirational don't-give-up-on-your-dreams stories. Boston Bruins goaltender Tim "the Tank" Thomas has one o' them stories, and it was capped off last night with Thomas winning the Vezina Award given to the league's best goaltender every year. (I've linked to his acceptance speech at the bottom of this post)

Thomas, an American-born (yay!) player, was drafted in 1994 by the Quebec Nordiques. Rather than making the jump to pro, Thomas played out his full four years of eligibility in college. By the time he had his degree, Quebec had become the Colorado Avalanche and they had some guy named Patrick Roy in net, so a goalie was pretty low on their priority list, so Thomas played in the minor leagues, including a brief stint with the Aeros in 1997-98. After awhile, it was becoming evident that there wasn't a place for him in the NHL, so Thomas transferred to Finland where he could get some more playing time. His team won a Finnish League Championship that first season.

The following summer, Thomas signed a contract with the NHL's Oilers and played a handful of games with their AHL affiliate before heading back to Europe and finishing as the runner-up in the championship round. It was now 2001, and Thomas signed with the Boston Bruins, but again there was no place for the Yankee goalie in any of Boston's North American affiliates, so he spent another year in Europe. He finally settled back into the AHL full-time in 2002-03, finally making his NHL debut and playing four games that season before spending the next year, again, in the minors.

After that, there was more minor-league hockey, more Finnish league hockey (where he won the award for the league's best player), and occasional NHL callups due to injury, where Thomas always performed well, but not well enough to land him a starting job with the Bruins. Finally, after 2006, the B's traded starting goalie Andrew Raycroft to Toronto (for a "Goalie of the Future" type prospect) and Thomas became an NHL regular 12 years after he was drafted. He began the 2006-07 season as Hannu Toivonen's backup, but since Toivonen wasn't very good, Thomas eventually took over as the team's starter, and when Toivonen was traded, it looked like things had finally turned in Thomas' favor.

That is, until the Bruins swung a big trade to get Manny Fernandez, another starting goalie, from Minnesota, and Thomas was the backup once again.

Early in the 2007 season, Tim Thomas finally, finally, finally got his big break, and unfortunately it came at Fernandez's misfortune as the new B's starter went down with a serious injury and the net now belonged to the Tank. And oh, did he ever take advantage of it. Thomas was an NHL All-Star that season, and he played so well that Fernandez was relegated to a backup role, even after he returned from injury. Thomas finally earned his first big fat contract and started this year as the main guy in Beantown, backstopping the Bruins to the best record in the Eastern Conference and, well, I've already said he won the Vezina, so that ruined a bit of the suspense.

The great thing about Thomas is that he knows how great he's got it. He's a family man, a good guy, down-to-earth. He's a hard worker and a strong role model for the kids in the Boston area to look up to. It was neat watching him win his awards last night; in an era where young hockey players are being encouraged to be rock stars, Thomas was genuinely humble as he accepted his hard-earned accolades.

Two clips: first, Thomas and Fernandez co-win the Jennings Award (given to the goalie tandem that allows the fewest goals in a season, skip to about 1:33 to get to the speech)

Second, Thomas' speech after winning the Vezina (skip to, like, 2:00 or something. Great speech)

Great story, great guy, great nickname (?), great goalie, and moogly...yeah.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day One-Hundred Fifty-Eight: Don't be a bum! Vote!

Need to write something tonight. Absolutely have to, or I'll feel like a bum.

And I don't wanna feel like a bum.

Now, for something important, and in honor of tonight's NHL Awards in Las Vegas (where Sherri is going to meet Alex Ovechkin and Gordie Howe), VOTE! (My fave is the puck cup, but the wood one is pretty impressive, too)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day One-Hundred Fifty-Seven: Congratulations

This wasn't what I intended to post today, but today is a very special day in the life of one of my dearest and longest-term friends, and so I wanted to use my little corner of the Internet to pay a bit of tribute. (Even though I don't think she reads this blog)

So, congratulations, Holly and Sam! Sherri tells me you've never looked happier, Holly, and I can't convey how excited I am for you both! We've been through such a long road over the past eleven years, and it is my honor to share in your joy on your wedding day!

Now, for the rest of you out there: an oldie but a goodie that has no correlation whatsoever to the rest of today's post.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day One-Hundred Fifty-Six: Follow-up

For anyone who was the least bit interested in the dubious mommy blogger of last week:

The explanation.

A revealing read. If you don't want to bother with it, I'll tell you that I was wrong about it being any sort of research for a paper, a story, or an experiment. It was just...a thing. A thing she did.

The article does an awful lot of making the whole thing into a Christian/conservative/pro-life agenda-fueled conspiracy, but it really reads to me like it's sort of a sad, cathartic, coping type of mechanism that got way out of control.

Again, this may or may not be interesting to you, but if it is then take a look. This twist on the story really makes me think harder about the questions originally posed from this ordeal. Was this woman in the wrong, ethically speaking? Is it her fault how people took her blogging? Is it intentional emotional manipulation, or just a platform to tell the world what she thinks?

I must ponder these things further.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day One-Hundred Fifty-Five: Champions (Part 2 of 2; or, Psyched for Satan)

All righty, kids. The parade (March of the Penguins, according to the MSM) is today at noon (eleven central), so it's time for my final thoughts on the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Championship run. (Note: by the time I've finished, the parade will probably be over)

Continuing on from Saturday:


You know one guy I'm really happy for? Miroslav Satan (pronounced shuh-TAN. I remember reading an interview with this guy almost ten years ago when he said he generally doesn't leave his last name when he orders out for pizza). See, at the end of last season, the Pens lost some firepower: Marian Hossa bolted for Detroit, Ryan Malone, due a huge raise, was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Pens, ridiculously deep at center, were in need of some help on the wing. Sid and Geno proved they don't need All-Star wingers to make the big black-and-gold machine go, they just need competent offensive guys with decent hands and some creativity. GM Ray Shero signed Satan and former Cup champ (with the Tampa Bay Lightning, no less!) Ruslan Fedotenko to help fill the void.

Well, the two guys weren't quite as productive as Malone, but they did put up some decent numbers. However, as the trade deadline neared, Crosby made it plain that he wasn't particularly meshing with any of the options he'd been given at wing all season long, and it was apparent that the Penguins were still at least one piece away from really contending. Also apparent was that the team has lost quite a bit of what analysts were calling "sandpaper" in Malone and Gary Roberts over the summer and that they weren't going to last long in the grind of the post-season without some grit. Therefore, Shero (who, by the way, did an amazing job of putting this team together, and whose work is worthy of its own post) made some shrewd deals for the second time in two trade deadlines, unloading promising young blueliner Ryan Whitney (rendered expendable by Kris Letang's emergence) and some picks and turned them into Chris Kunitz from Anaheim and Bill Guerin from the Isles. (He also picked up Craig Adams; love me some checkers!)

What does this have to do with Satan? Well, see, there's this salary cap in the NHL, and these moves would put the Penguins over it if they didn't send someone to their minor league affiliate, so the 10-plus year veteran and perennial 20-goal winger was sent down to the American Hockey League for no reason other than his contract. Hey, somebody had to go down to make room.

This isn't terribly unusual in the NHL these days, but some players (especially European players who could just hop a plane and play in their home countries rather than accept the demotion) don't handle it well. Satan, however, accepted his new appointment and focused on playing a mentoring role to the Baby Pens for the rest of the season.

Now, the good news for Miroslav is that nobody gets paid during the playoffs, so the cap restrictions don't count, so due to his attitude and work ethic in the minors, he was called back up for the 2009 playoffs. He didn't play in the first round or the start of the second, but when aging Petr Sykora started to struggle, Satan was back in the lineup. He played fairly well, too, even if he didn't score much. Satan was benched after game five of the Final, but when Sykora got hurt in game six, Satan was back on the ice to help close things out in the deciding tilt. (Note: apparently, having an injured Petr Sykora on your roster is very good for your Cup chances--see the 2000 New Jersey Devils for details)

Bravo, Miro, for behaving like a true professional. Enjoy your first Cup ring.


Another guy to be thrilled for is Penguins young stud goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. I remember when the Pens traded up from the #3 overall pick in the draft to pick Fleury first overall. (I honestly do remember: it was the summer of 2003 and I was working at the Huron Playhouse in Ohio and had to borrow the school we were staying at's Internet to check out draft news that night) They called him a Patrick Roy-type goalie and instantly proclaimed him to be their guy going forward.

They threw Marc-Andre in the net while he was still pretty young behind some pretty bad teams, and he got shelled more than once. After a couple of seasons of marginal improvement, numbers-wise, many (self included, to my shame) were starting to believe the kid was all hype, and that he'd never aspire to Roy-esque credentials. (What made Roy great? Stanley Cup rings in his ears)

Last season, Fleury went down with a high-ankle sprain about halfway through the year. He missed a lot of games, and American-born (woohoo!) former Edmonton playoff goat (and current Red Wings backup) Ty Conklin stepped in and played the best season of his career in relief. There was talk of making Conklin the full-time starter, even after Fleury returned. Talk from everyone, that is, except the Penguins brass. Fleury was still the guy, no matter how well Ty played.

Apparently, the competition provided by Conklin's stellar play was what Fleury needed to take his game to the next level; when "The Flower" returned from injury, he silenced all the doubters, finally playing like a guy who should be taken first overall in the entry draft. There was no question who was "the guy" between the pipes in Pittsburgh.

Until, that is, the Stanley Cup Final, where the Red Wings took out the younger, greener Penguins in six games. Fleury was awesome at times, but for most of the series he didn't make The Big Save, as championship goaltenders have been known to do. With the exception of game five in Detroit, Fleury didn't exactly steal any games with his play, and anybody will tell you that no matter how good your team is, your goalie is probably going to have to win a game on his own at some point during your Cup run. Last year, Fleury wasn't that guy.

And he heard it all this year. And he heard it all during this year's playoffs, when he was prone to let in the occasional soft goal. And after the Pens went down two games to zero, it was all over the Internet how it was up to Marc-Andre to prove that he was a money goaltender. If he didn't play better, the series was over.

Well, he did play better. Better than he had the year before. And the team managed to tie things up at two headed back to game five in Detroit. Where he was shelled. Five goals in half a game before being pulled and replaced my Mathieu Garon in a 5-0 loss. The series headed back to Pittsburgh with a chance for the Wings to clinch in the Steel City for the second year in a row.

Regarding Roy: it is often said the man would give up a goal now and again, but there were nights when he simply would not give up THE goal, the one that would tie the score. If Roy's team was up three goals, the other team could hope to get two of their goals back, but there was no way they'd ever get the third. In game six, the Pens took a 2-0 lead into the third, when the Red Wings threw everything they had at the Penguins zone, getting one of their own with about ten minutes left. But MAF never let them get that second goal, and the series went to a game seven in Detroit.

For three days, everything you'd read was that game seven would come down to the play of Fleury. He'd been outstanding at home all playoffs, but only so-so on the road. He never played well in Detroit. The Red Wings fans rattled him. The unpredictability of the boards doomed him. Blah blah blah. Above all, Fleury had yet to prove to the world that he was a big-game goaltender.

Well, there's an accusation the kid will never hear again.


Oh, Marian Hossa.

This is really too good.

Last year, Hossa, an impending unrestricted free agent, was the biggest trade deadline target for Cup hopefuls. And Shero made a blockbuster trade to bring him to the Burgh, drawing from the wealth of quality prospects and young players the Pens had gained through years of sucking. Hossa made an instant impact and was a major force in the Penguins' near-championship run in 2008. In fact, the puck was on his stick at the goal mouth as time expired with the Penguins down one goal in game six.

At the end of the year, Shero made a fairly massive offer to keep Hossa locked up long-term. After all, Hossa had said publicly he was looking for a multi-year deal that was a certain dollar amount, and of the teams that made pitches, Pittsburgh's was most likely the richest, but he turned them down, saying he wanted to explore other options, but hadn't closed the door on Pittsburgh.

All well and good. That's his right, right?

Two days later, out comes the news: Hossa has signed with the Detroit Red Wings. More years? Nope. He signed a one-year deal. More money? Nope. He took about half what the Pens had offered. Hossa claimed it was nothing personal, but he wanted to win a Stanley Cup, and thought a year with Detroit would be his best chance to do that.

Hossa had an incredible season with Detroit. He was among the league's leading goal-scorers. The guy was dominant all year long. Headed into the playoffs, it looked like Hossa was well on his way to getting his wish.

And then came the Stanley Cup Final. In seven games, Hossa totaled exactly: Zero goals and three assists.

But at least he got to watch his old teammates skate around the ice on his new home rink with that big shiny cup!

Hossa later said publicly he didn't regret his choice. And that's good. I'm glad for him. Cuz we don't regret it for a moment, either.


All right, I've got the live feed from the victory parade on now.

There are so many more fantastic stories from this year's team.

Geno Malkin goes from being "The Guy Who Disappeared in the 2008 Playoffs" to "The Guy Who Won the Playoff MVP Award."

Sidney Crosby, touted as The Next One since he was sixteen years old, becomes the youngest captain ever to hoist the Stanley Cup. Also went through Alex the Rock Star Ovechkin on the way.

Guys like Craig Adams and Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke and Hall Gill, not the guys who are going to make headlines all that often, knew their job and did it so well they'll have their names engraved on the most famous trophy in the world for all to see long after they've retired.

This was the year promise and potential finally became perfection. This was a team that played as a team, despite its obviously top-heavy star power.

This was a team that won because of plays like Rob Scuderi dropping to his knees to make three saves with 20 seconds to go in game six while Marc-Andre Fleury scrambled back into position.

This was a team that won because superstars never believed themselves to be above the team, no matter how often the NHL and Versus told them they were.

This was a team that won because they learned from their past failures.

This was a team that won because they didn't give a damn what the numbers said, nor what the experts said, nor what hockey history said, nor what common sense said. They won because they played to win, period, regardless of the circumstances. They won because, at the end of the day, they refused to lose.

This was a team that won.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day One-Hundred Fifty-Four: Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

Pens championship blogging will resume tomorrow, but I wanted to share this story while it's fresh.

About fifteen minutes ago, just after Kim is in bed, I hear a very loud knocking on my back door. Whoever is here is very definitely here. So I throw on some jeans and open the door.

Hello, Mr. Police Officer!

He asks if this is apartment 32. It is. He asks if there's any trouble. There's not. He says someone has called in. I say it wasn't any of us. He asks if I stay here alone. I say my wife and toddler son are already asleep. He says thanks, that's all. Have a good night. He leaves.

I go into the bedroom to tell Kim what all the pounding was about and not to be worried and to go back to sleep (only not as a run-on sentence).

Then I start to think. You know, the guy never actually showed me a badge. I didn't think to ask to see one. He asked if I was here alone. Probably to make sure I wasn't hiding anybody who may have called for help. But what if...?

I decide to call the HPD to see if there's some way I can find out if they actually dispatched an officer (meaning someone is just pranking me, which I can deal with) or if it's some want-to-be burglar with a uniform, which I'm probably going to struggle with if that's the truth.

I want to hereby give the HPD a gold star for helpfulness. Yes, they did dispatch an officer. The guy at my door was, in fact, just doing his job. And we can all sleep easy.

Next time, though, I'm still asking to see a badge, just to be sure.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Day One-Hundred Fifty-Three: Champions (Part 1 of 2)

I realized how long this post was going to get, and it's been a long day at my place, so I'm going to break my final thoughts on the hockey season into two parts.

First off, wow. Just, wow, wow, wow. Pittsburgh beats Detroit twice in a row, including the season finale in Motown, to win their first Stanley Cup in seventeen years. (For the record, I became a Pens fan/NHL fan the year immediately following their last Cup championship)

Everything in the world said the Pens would lose last night.

32 of 33 teams to win games 1 and 2 at home in the Final (as Detroit did) went on to win the Cup.

14 of 18 home teams have won game 7 in the Cup final (last visiting team before last night to do it was in the early '70s).

Detroit had won 4 of the previous 11 Stanley Cups and had something like 30 Cup rings scattered across their roster (as opposed to 4 or 5 for the Pens).

The Red Wings had only lost one game at Joe Louis Arena all playoffs, and that was in round 2 against Anaheim over a month ago.

Detroit's coach is fairly widely accepted as one of the best in the league, while Pittsburgh's coach began this season in the American Hockey League.

Oh, and Pittsburgh had lost ALL THREE games in Detroit this series by a combine score of 13-2, including a 5-0 blowout in game five.

Finally, don't dismiss the fact that these Red Wings beat these Penguins to the Cup only a year before.

You know how I've been saying that there are just these "weird things" that happen in hockey, some things you can just count on?

Well, the Pens blew that completely out the window last night. And it was awesome.

First off, recent history said that the Pens wouldn't even make it out of the second round. The defending Stanley Cup loser just never comes back the next year. It doesn't happen. In over a decade, Cup losers had combined for one series win. Until this year. No twenty-one-year-old team captain had ever won a Stanley Cup. Until this year. Heck, no Russian had ever won the Conn Smythe (Playoff MVP) award before. Until this year.

You sensing a theme?

I can't tell you how great this series and victory feel, both as a Pens fan but also as an Avs fan/Red Wings mortal enemy (not literally, of course). The inherent smugness of most Wings fans (that I know, not making a blanket statement here) has been intolerable all playoffs long, especially this rematch series. (Also, the Wings fans' ovation as Sidney Crosby left the ice huddled over in pain was downright sickening) I suppose a bit of smugness can't help but creep its way in when you've had a run of success like Detroit has for the past fifteen or so years. Nevertheless, it's always nice when that talk finally stops. And it isn't as through the Wings didn't play a great series, especially while missing their best player for the first four games and both their top forward and top defenseman the last few games against Chicago. Lots to be proud of in Motown.

This year, however, belongs to the boys from the Steel City.



First off, what can you say about that magic burrito? It may be disgusting, but it sure seems to have worked. However, if this is, as many believe, the first of many, many long playoff runs for this young Pens team, how many burritos is Dan Bylsma going to have to consume within days of one another over the next decade or so???

I fear for the poor man's long-term health...


Speaking of Bylsma, anyone else find the resemblance to Noah Bennett a little unsettling?

Really, though, what an amazing story this guy was. He started this year coaching the Penguin's minor-league affiliate. Nobody anticipated there would a coaching change; heck, Michel Therrien had just taken these young Pens to a Cup Final in 2008. Nevertheless, February rolls around, something like two months to go in the season, and Sid's crew is five points OUT of the playoff picture??? The ax fell on Therrien, and Bylsma was brought up as an interim. They figure, if he succeeds, great! If he doesn't, they can just send him back to Wilkes-Barrie next year. After all, nobody really expects the rookie coach from the AHL to make too much noise, especially with a team that was already on the outside looking in.

What happens next? The Penguins to bonkers, finishing with one of the best records in the league over the past two months, grinding their way by the rough-and-tumble arch-rival Philadelphia Flyers in the first round, upsetting the #2 Washington Capitals in the second round (more on that in a bit), sweeping through the equally-red-hot Carolina Hurricanes in the Conference Final, and finally defying all odds and all hockey logic and cutting the head off the Big Winged Beast to capture the Cup--something that all those Mario Lemieux/Jaromir Jagr-led teams were unable to accomplish from the mid-1990's through the early 2000's.

And the rookie coach of the year award goes to...


Max Talbot.

Max. Freaking. Talbot.

At the very beginning of the playoffs, I remember saying to Kim, "You always love to have a guy like Max Talbot on your team in the playoffs."

Talbot's not a guy who's going to score a ton of goals for you, especially when you've got unbelievable offenseve depth up and down your roster. (I mean really. You had Petr Sykora on the bench, for crying out loud? I realize he's lost a step, but dang!) He is, however, one of those work-his-tail-off-all-the-time type guys, and he excels at the inglorious. He's a great penalty-killer, for example, and a good energy guy. Game six of the first round against the Flyers, Talbot squared off against one of the biggest goons on a team stocked with big goons while the Pens were down 3-0. He got pounded, but the whole team pointed to Max's pounding as the turning point in the game. The guys were so fired up at his fearlessness and his willingness to take one for the team that they took it to Philly the rest of the game and send 'em golfing with a 4-3 win. He's the quintessential unsung hero who's just an all-around good guy off the ice as well.

So when that guy scores both goals in a 2-1 game seven win in the Stanley Cup Final? You just have to feel good for him.


I don't think I've mentioned the "Old Guy Rule" on here yet. It seems like every year, the team that wins the Cup has some venerable older player toward the end of their career who has never won the thing before, and they rally around this gentleman in a "Win It For (Blank)" type campaign:

2008: Dallas Drake, Detroit
2007: Teemu Selanne and Rod Niedermayer, Anaheim
2006: Rod Brind'Amour and Glen Wesley, Carolina
2004: Dave Andreychuk, Tampa Bay
2002: Dominik Hasek, Detroit
2001: Ray Bourque, Colorado


This year? Welcome to the club, Sergei Gonchar!! (Whose only previous Stanley Cup attempts, 2008 with the Pens and 1998 with the Caps, were ended by...the Detroit Red Wings! Oh, the karma is everywhere!)

Speaking of karma, I'll post the Marian Hossa storyline tomorrow. Classic!


Finally (for tonight), the Pens' Cup run highlights what I think is one of the most exciting things the NHL has going for it right now, and it's something I was talking to Tarvis about recently: Most of the league's premier players at this point in history are in their mid-twenties or lower. On the Pens' side of the ice, you had Crosby and Malkin as well as Jordan Staal (who was a monster in the Final) and Marc-Andre Fleury (more on him tomorrow as well). They blew by Hurricanes' superstar (and Jordan's older brother) Eric Staal and a goalie named Cam Ward who had a pretty great season of his own. The Caps were as stacked with young guns as the Pens were, with most dynamic offensive player in the game, Alex Ovechkin, and some stud teammates like Semin, Green, and Backstrom. Even the Flyers gave us Carter and Richards. Other twenty-something superstars on the post-season stage this year:

Getzlaf, Perry, and Ryan for Anaheim.
Kessel, and Wheeler in Boston.
Phaneuf in Calgary.
The Sedin twins in Vancouver.
Lundqvist and yet another Staal in New York.
Zajac and Parise in New Jersey.
Setoguchi and Pavelski in San Jose.
Kane, Toews, Byfuglien, Versteeg, and Sharp in Chicago.
Perron, and Oshie in Saint Louis.
Nash, Mason, Russell, Brassard, and Filatov in Columbus.

And these are just the teams that were "in". There is going to be some exciting, dynamic NHL hockey for at least the next decade. And from the looks of things, the Penguins will be right in the thick of it each and every year.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Day One-Hundred Fifty-Two: Magic...burrito? (Updated!!)

Okay, a quick blog during a quick lunch, because I've got a ton of important stuff to do and am having trouble focusing due to the looming Stanley Cup Championship Game tonight. One way or another, hockey season ends tonight.

Hope Rex still has that octopus.

Today, while I was in the shower, I wondered if I ought to wear my jersey to work today. Seemed kind of silly and a bit unprofessional, but it is a special occasion, after all. I had pretty much settled on not doing it by the time I finished, but when I opened the shower curtain......

There sat my #66 jersey on the bathroom floor, with the crest looking straight up at me. It had been on the couch. Had been there all week, as a matter of fact, and Robbie had left it quite alone. He ran in to say hi once or twice while I showered, but I sure never asked him for my Penguins shirt, nor had I even said "Penguins" to him yet this morning. And yet for some reason, while I deliberated, he sensed it necessary to get my jersey from the couch and bring it so that it would be ready as soon as I was out of the shower.

Needless to say, I'm wearing the jersey right now.

One last bit of good karma for the Pens, and then you'll hear from me late tonight once it's all over:

You thought the magic shirt was silly? That the magic double-overtime pizza was just dumb? Folks, it's time for you to meet The Magic Ancho Chili Pork BBQ Burrito! (Tip of the hat to Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy, finder of most cool hockey things you find on here, including videos, dinosaur stories, and other hockey-based amusements)

See you all on the flip-side! Oh, and GO PENS!!!!!!



Pittsburgh Penguins. 2009 Stanley Cup Champions.

I will write much, much more on this for Day One-Fifty-Three. For now, Dave, Tarvis, and Will have some celebratin' to do.

PENS WIN!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day One-Hundred Fifty-One: This is just wrong

Today's post has been deleted, because Natalie and I's conversation about how to use a dog, some scissors, a gun, a few sticks, and Chik-Fil-A chicken nuggets to promote Steel Magnolias was just not right. Funny. But wrong. And you probably had to be there for it to be funny anyway.

Use your imaginations ;-)

Game seven tomorrow. Good. Because I don't have enough stressful stuff happening at work today and tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day One-Hundred Fifty: Dubious Blogging?

(Because this seemed more appropriate here than at the end of the post: Pens win. Game seven Friday. Because Rex got a new octopus)

Interesting goings-on.

I can't post a link to today's blogger-in-question (for reasons you'll understand shortly), but here's a story my wife was sharing with me yesterday that I certainly found interesting.

See, Kim and I got pretty into the MckMama/Praying for Stellan blog a while back. (It's now just a Mommmy-Blog, which is a really fascinating concept/movement in and of itself) A few months ago, this woman who has been keeping up a blog about her family life for awhile had to take her less-than-a-year-old son into the hospital for irregular heartbeat. It became a medical nightmare that stretched over a month long and included all kinds of scary treatments, including manually stopping Stellan's heart, hoping that it would re-start itself correctly. The saga culminated with a trip to Boston, where the poor boy underwent heart surgery. All throughout the process, which MckMama blogged about every day, the situation seemed to get worse and worse. Any opportunity for bad news seemed to yield bad news. In a best case/worst case scenario, Stellan was usually stuck with the worst case.

In the end, Stellan's surgery was as successful as it could possibly have been given the crappy circumstances that weren't fully realized until the surgeon had gone in, and it looks like he's going to be okay in the long run, though he'll probably need a pacemaker for most of his life.

Through the entire ordeal, MckMama blogged a LOT about her faith, how every step forward challenged it, and how she learned that she could be at peace with whatever God's will was, even if it meant losing her baby. Incredible. After awhile, this little blog that nobody outside of a ring of mommy bloggers knew about had people all around the world sending words of encouragement, praying for Stellan, and dressing in orange for some reason. (I didn't follow as closely as Kim did; I'm not sure what this was about) Now, MckMama and her family are back to living a normal stay-home-mom life. It's a bit odd to go to her blog and see things like "Here are my thoughts on diapers!" after so much medical drama.

So there's the set-up. The Internet has made it possible to make celebrities out of everyday people, we always knew that. It's also given an Everywoman like MckMama to touch literally thousands with her words of wisdom through her own struggles. Complete strangers become prayer partners and inspiration for one another. That's not a phenomenon I need to go into too much detail on; I think Time magazine did a nice piece on it a few years ago when I was named Person of the Year. (Was that Time?)

Recently, there's been a similar situation. Kim could give you better details, but one young woman begins to blog about her struggles as a single pregnant woman whose boyfriend has bolted on her. She learns that her child is likely to be born with some specific birth defect that has a good chance to be fatal, but she decides to have the baby anyway. Similar to the MckMama situation, this young woman blogs with great detail about the medical details throughout her struggle. She receives encouragement in the form of comments, letters (sent to a P.O. Box in order to protect her anonymity), pictures, etc, and though she refuses checks, some folks go ahead an send baby supplies. Her story is touching and inspirational and raises some seriously hard questions, even for the pro-life crowd that makes up the majority of its following. The blogger uses her site to raise some money for Crisis Pregnancy Centers through other Mommy bloggers so that she wouldn't be accused of hoarding any of the money for herself.

Readers follow her every struggle right up to the moment when her little baby is born. Pictures of the newborn go up online.

And then, the controversy starts.

Wait a moment, that doesn't look like a newborn child! The head is the wrong shape! The baby is too big! There's no trace of birth defect on that child! In fact, it looks exactly like such-and-such uber-lifelike doll used in parenting class exercises!

And then the pictures are gone.

Then come the investigative reports in the comment section: This trivial detail on this date contradicts something that was said two months ago. There are inconsistencies between this statement and this later statement. Page-long diatribes of things that appear to be more than a little fishy.

And then the blog is gone. As are the Twitter and Facebook sites associated with it. Like, completely erased. Four-oh-four'd.

Now you've got people up in arms. Folks outraged that they've been had. That someone has played them all for some sick joke/trick. These same folks who've been awed, inspired, and challenged are saying some pretty cruel things about whoever this was who's been jerking their emotions around for kicks. Allegations that she was just doing it for the money that came in through the fundraisers. Basically, folks just feel cheated and had, and that makes them angry. And that I understand.

My guess? This was an experiment. Either a grad student in a psych class or an author writing a book or something. Someone who was a very convincing writer with some very convincing scientific data who couldn't taint the integrity of the experiment set out and pulled a fast one on hundreds of loyal readers.

Yes, it was all a lie. And looking back, the P.O. Box, running everything through other sites, maybe someone should have smelled it sooner.

Was anyone hurt? I mean, really? Other than people's feelings being hurt because they've invested so much emotionally and prayerfully into someone and some problem that don't exist, was anything hurt? Is spending extra time in prayer a bad thing? Is the inspiration drawn from this courageous woman lessened because she wasn't real? If she spoke truths, are those truths diminished? Other sources have verified that all the money raised through this blog did indeed go to help others through charities.

So what happened here? Did someone play a sick joke on the rest of the Internet? Did they take advantage of the bleeding hearts who are always on the lookout for a Stellan to pray for? Or did someone take advantage of a unique opportunity to open a discussion, exchange ideas, provide inspiration, and raise money for a worthy cause? And if this truly was some sort of unorthodox research (The Shape of Things, anybody?), I wonder what to what purpose it will be used?

I get why people are upset. In a way, I don't fault them. I really, really don't. Then again, I think I really tend to gravitate toward the "good has been done here" line of thought.

Am I wrong? Is it emotional manipulation to use non-consenting people as research via the Internet, even if you intend to use the emotional thrill-ride for good? I suppose the question in question here is if the ends justify the means.

Oy. Isn't that always the questions?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day One-Hundred Forty-Nine: Desperation


This could be the last night of the hockey season. If so, it'll mean the Pens have lost Lord Stanley's Cup.


To the Red Wings.


Not going to lie, if that's how it all goes down tonight, I will be about as crushed as I can get over a sporting event. It'll be "CANUCKS GOING GOLFING!!!" in my heart for at least a couple of days. I am a wreck of nerves right now.

Interesting thing is, looking around the Internet, it seems like most people have already handed Nick Lidstrom Lord Stanley tonight. It's funny, because after the Pens tied the series at two, many of these same bloggers were saying the Wings were done. Make up your mind, people.

Anyway, I'll do whatever I can to help the Pens get their mojo back after the Game 5 debacle. If that means I have to link to an entry in a blog written by a dinosaur who lives at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, you know I'll do it.

Okay, okay. I would probably have done it anyway.

(Edit: My day numbering got off just a titch, but I fixed it)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Day One-Hundred Forty-Eight: Shuffle (renamed: EPIC shuffle!)

Ah, the shuffle-blog.

Callously stolen from Dave's PBB, Shuffle-Blog is what you do when you don't have anything specific to write about (or you're feeling too ADD to write about any specific topic for longer than a paragraph). It's pretty simple: you put on your iPod or WMP or whatever you've got, put it on shuffle, and away you go. You blog about whatever the current song playing makes you think about. It's kind of a stream-of-consciousness thing. Sometimes you say something interesting. Sometimes you fail epically. And I'm pretty out of it today, so my inclination would be to say I'll likely fall closer to the latter of those two options. Regardless, off we go!

(Note: occasionally I'll write for the length of two songs rather than stopping after one, but only if I get really carried away with an idea)

#1: Finale Ultimo from Little Shop of Horrors (Broadway revival recording)
They may offer you fortune and fame, love and money or instant acclaim, but whatever they offer you, don't feed the plants!
The musical film of Little Shop of Horrors was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. I saw it again recently and was mildly disappointed with it, but still fairly pleased overall. The music is fantastic. The muppetry is top of the line. The art direction is actually pretty fantastic, too. And it's a nice Saturday-morning-esque happy ending adventure musical slapstick singing plant story. Right? BUT WAIT! When I was in high school, we did the show the movie was based on, and it differs somewhat from the film version in that....


Here's the thing: I actually really like the original ending. It totally wouldn't have worked in the film adaptation because of the way the characters were portrayed. There were very subtle differences in them, especially in Seymour, for which the off-Broadway ending would not have been appropriate. In the movie, everything happens more or less by accident, and Seymour finally makes the heroic decision to vanquish the vile vine and save the day. Aw, shucks. In the show, however, Seymour remains fairly innocent at first, but in each death he becomes more and more involved. He consciously decided to let the abusive dentist gas himself to death (in the movie he seems hesitant, and then the guy's just dead), then he purposely tricks his manipulating boss into climbing in the plant's mouth (in the film, it's more of an accident), and then he makes the decision to keep feeding the plant because he thinks it's the only way he can get what he wants in life--the love of one particular woman--so of course his choices (or his sin?) take that away, too, killing her before his own vengeful charge ends in his own destruction.

Boo ya! Wages of sin = death, people. Who says there are no more good morality plays?
******END SPOILERS******

#2. Holy Orders (Be Quick and Just Shred) by Powerglove
Not going to lie, I sometimes listen to this track six or seven times in a row. It's a heavy-metal arrangement of a track taken from the PS1 game Guilty Gears XX, or X2, or however your translation decides to say it. I used this piece as Nikolai's rock concert in Hero Squad vs. the Princess Snatchers; I'm 99% convinced it's going to be my Epic Battle music for the second play (tentatively retitled The Hero Squad vs. The Supervillain's Apprentice). I also tend to play this one when I'm writing, as it's inspired at least two stories already (one of which I have no idea how I'll actually pull off, but it will be epic when I do).

Epic. This song is just epic. I love epic things. I hope one day to be an epic thing.

By the way, I found a playlist of all the Guilty Gear XX music on It's really fantastic. I understand the music is really the only thing worthwhile about this game. The actual title of this piece in the game is Holy Orders (Be Just or Be Dead). Clever how the metal-rocking geeks of Powerglove switched that around, isn't it?

Seriously, kids. I know there are lots of video game cover bands out there, but do yourselves a favor and check out Powerglove. Not their obscene website, but their awesome music. Do it. Do it now. I'm running out of things to say about this awesome, epic track. Good, it's ending now.

#3 The Next Big Thing by MxPx
It's someone to tell you who you are, it's someone to tell you what you'll be, someone to show you what you think. It's the next big thing!
I heard this song on an X-Games segment on ESPN 2 once. I can usually enjoy the X-Games if I'm flipping through channels and find them on, but it's not really something I lose sleep waiting for every year. I will say I was fortunate enough to be watching the first time Tony Hawk did a 1080 on the vert ramp. (Was it 1080? Was it just 900? I don't remember, but in keeping with the theme of this shuffle blog, it was EPIC). I also appreciate that Mountain Dew sponsors the X-Games. Mountain Dew: making sure my youth is never too far in the past.

#4 Giggle by Silage
(I know very few of the words to this song. He says "Yup" a couple of times) when I was in high school I bought a ton of CDs. Some of them are (wait for it...) EPIC! Some of them, in retrospect, are more like epic fail. This CD gravitates toward that category. I mean, it's not horrible, but then again it's not that good. It's a fun pop-punk-ska-surf silly CD, but I'm pretty sure it's not nearly as cool as I thought it was when I first got it. Many of the songs are also incredibly short. Again, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's kind of like, "What's the deal, Silage? Stamina issues? Focus problems?"

Then again, I don't know how you can knock any band that likens your walk with God to riding an elephant and occasionally falling off because you wanted to change your shoes.


#5 Track 3 by Orlando and his brother
Been in love with you since the day you knew I wasn't for you, and now you finally turn the page and learn that you were made my queen. It's our story...
I don't actually know what this song is called. It's from a CD of three songs that my friend and coworker Orlando recorded for his bride for their wedding. All the guests got one (and I, who didn't make the wedding, got one anyway). If I were to guess, I'd call this song something like "Our Story" or "It's Our Story." Regardless, it's one of the best romantic/relationship songs I've ever heard.

Yeah. I don't know what else to say, other than I love hearing how couples got together, how they dated, how they got married. You know those couples who you see, and you're just happy for them all the time? You think, "Wow, those kids are REALLY great for each other, and seeing them together makes me happy." This is one of those marriages. I think the world needs more of these types of families. That would go a long way toward improving a lot of this country's issues. Maybe I'll blog some more intelligible thoughts on this idea later. But with my track record, I probably won't. Just wait for the play, people. ;-)

#6 Creed by Rich Mullins
I believe in God the Father, almighty Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, our lord
What an awesome song to end with. Know what you believe, folks. Examine your faith and your beliefs every day. If it's not worth spending at least a few minutes a day of serious reflection, it's just not very real. Even if it's rehashing "old territory." One thing that marriage has taught me is that there's no such thing as old territory when you are passionate about something or someone. We all have movies we could watch a million times and still enjoy, books we never grow tired of, or songs we have had been singing for fifteen-plus years. I'm learning that my faith needs to be one of these things. I have a tendency to tune out somewhat when folks recite scripture that I already know by heart. The truth is, however, that when I actually take time to connect, to plug in, to contemplate or meditate on the word of God and the character of God, it is never old territory. It can still be fresh, exciting, and very real and relevant in my world when I allow it to be.

So I'll leave this shuffle with an encouragement: revisit some old ground today. It can be your faith, it can be a friendship you may have begun to take for granted, it can be your family, it can be a life passion that has begun to feel more like a chore than a privilege. Spend some time with that person/activity/idea. Rediscover why you love it/him/her.

Passion. It's epic.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Day One-Hundred Forty-Seven: Snowball effect

Many elements of this day were either long, frustrating, or exhausting. I started the day on three hours of sleep and then never got too much of a chance to catch up. Did get some things done, however, and really enjoyed the sermon at church this morning. It was (just kidding!) Spent most of the day trying to keep track of Robbie without having sufficient energy to do so efficiently. I fully admit I was not always the force of positive energy I try to be around my family. Also missed the super-awesome birthday party for one of my coworkers this afternoon. Further, I was pretty disappointed with the Tony's overall. The whole show just seemed sort of...blah. Even if some of the acts were very good. Finally, I've been itching to write ALL DAY and haven't had a chance, which is frustrating because this is the first time I've been really ready to go for over a month.


I am writing tonight. For the first time in far too long. And it's fantastic.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Day One-Hundred Forty-Six: A few statistics

A couple of facts following the Pens' implosion vs. the Wings tonight in Detroit:

14 of the last 19 teams to win Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final have won the Cup.

32 of 33 teams to win games 1 and 2 at home in the Stanley Cup Final have won the Cup.

Last season, Detroit led Pittsburgh 3 games to 2 going into game six in Pittsburgh. Detroit won game six (and the Cup).


The last two of "my" teams to win the Cup--Colorado in 2001 and Tampa in 2004--both came back from 3-2 deficits to win it.

See you Tuesday in Pittsburgh!
(Not really, I'll be at home. But that seemed like a nice way to end this post)
(Even though now it's not really the ending)
(But if you treat these parenthetical notations like most people treat stage directions, you probably aren't even reading them anyway)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day One-Hundred Forty-Five: Is it genetic??

All right, so my just-for-fun sports superstition has been well documented over these past two months. However, one has to wonder whether I deem certain garments, objects, or foodstuffs "magic" by choice or whether I'm predisposed to doing so by some genetic trait that I have passed down to my son.

Game four of the Stanley Cup Final. Red Wings lead Penguins, 2 games to 1, and game five is Saturday night in Motown. This one is huge. If the Pens lose, they go down 3 games to 1 and any Pittsburgh victories from that point on are basically delaying the inevitable. Last year, going into game four in the Steel City, the series was 2-1 Detroit, the Red Wings won game four and went on to capture the Cup in six. Sid's boys can't afford to lose this one.

Robbie, sensing the urgency of the situation, goes over to the green chair by the television about half an hour before the game. Tuesday, he received a Sidney Crosby Penguins T-shirt in the mail from his great grandfather in California. It's still a little too big, so we hadn't put it on him yet. Last night, however, Robbie points to the shirt on the chair, turns to Kim, and asks "Wear go Penguins? Wear go Penguins?"

Magic shirt, baby-style.

I'll post a pic of BabyPensWizard when we get one. It was pretty cute.

Pens win, series tied at 2, and miles to go before I sleep.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Day One-Hundred Forty-Four: Popcorn

A little bit of whatever's going on in my head today.


Our "preview audience" for Riddle of the Rainbow was today. We had around thirty people, around half of them kids, most of the kids younger, which is DEFINITELY a good thing with this show. Judging from their responses, the audience was, for the most part, deceased, but the show went well.

I was really looking forward to leading discussion afterward. We always have Q & A time after our children's shows, and this is a show that has got the gospel and salvation message in it, though it's extremely well-hidden in many zany diversions from the story. Also, apparently you have to watch this show several times to get a clear picture of what exactly the story is. So, the whole thing is terribly confusing, and the abstract spiritual parallel is most likely lost on its target audience. However, one hopes that in the discussion, some child will ask what the point of the whole thing was, and then you've got a wide-open door to share the gospel with them!

So, I was primed and ready to go for the discussion on the off-chance that rare opportunity to bluntly share God's salvation plan might present itself.

As it turned out, there was only one question from the small audience. A young boy wanted to know how glow-tape works.


Riddle of the Rainbow: asking the deep, theological questions, such as "How does that stuff stay glowey?"


When I was in high school, I was mortally opposed to Diet Mountain Dew. Last summer, I took a month or two on a low-carb diet, and suddenly Diet Mountain Dew was better than no Mountain Dew.

Now I am twenty-seven, and suddenly Diet Mountain Dew doesn't seem all that bad after all.


JOE SACCO????? With all the qualified candidates that are out there looking for a job, the Avs go with JOE SACCO? The guy who's coached their farm team (one of the WORST teams in the AHL) for the past two years?

This is seriously better than just keeping Tony Granato?

It's going to be a long, long climb back to the top for the Avs at the rate they've gone these past two off-seasons...


While we're on the topic of the NHL, I've got a bit of a bad feeling going into tonight's game four. No specific reason, but my hunches have been pretty good this playoffs. That said, this has been the hardest series for me to get a read on in, like, forever. So it may be that my hunches aren't as trustworthy as they have been up to this point.


For some reason, this bit of "Invictus" by Brave Saint Saturn seems to be speaking very loudly today: "Take this broken heart if it brings You praise. Take this beaten soul, shivering hands I will raise, Hope unstoppable. Sing, the morning sun: "Wake up, o sleeper, the Daylight has come. You are, You are invincible. You are, You are unbreakable."


Kim and I are starting to read through the (Biblical) book of Jeremiah today. Jeremiah's probably my favorite of the major prophets. (What? You don't have a favorite major prophet?) I used to think it would be awesome to write a stage musical called Mourning Prophet based on Jeremiah's story. That was during my major Les Mis kick, when I thought all the best musicals had to be uber-sad.

Not to say, that is, that Les Mis depresses me. Far, far from it. Beautiful story and show. But dang, can it get ya to cry.


Actually, let's stay with Les Mis for a moment: I saw the tour in Tulsa back in my college days with some friends my sister and, I believe, my mom. My sister prided herself on not crying once through the entire show, though she admitted it was a struggle. Later, she told me that it had been a mistake, because repressed Les Mis tears were finding their way into her everyday life. Anything remotely sad or patriotic or touching, whether it be on TV, in a movie, at school, or in a book, would cause her to start choking up. This continued roughly until she saw the show again a couple of weeks later at Kansas City, when she was on some sort of cold or flu medication and kind of loopy anyway. She said she bawled the whole show. And then she was better.


Yesterday, I was sitting on the floor at my computer when Robbie climbed on the couch and threw himself on my back. "Hi Daddy," he said. "Hi, Robbie," I chuckled. "How are you?" he asked. "I'm doing pretty good," I said, then there was a pause. "How are YOU doing?" I asked him. "I'm fiiiiine," he said as he swung back and forth on my neck a bit from behind.

It was a reminder of how much he's already grown, and the realization again hit me that it won't be long before he and I can carry out lengthy conversations on just about any topic. Crazy.


Speaking of Robbie, I have to say that the kid is probably the youngest hard-core Skillet fan I've ever met. For those who are not familiar with Skillet, they're a fairly hard Christian rock band. Their last two studio albums, Collide and Comatose, are choice. (Their next album is called Awake. Makes sense. If you collide with something too hard, you become comatose, but then you eventually awake. Awaken. They should have called the next album Awaken. Oh well.) Now, Robbie is a child who loves music--I have to hurry with him from the nursery after church so he can get to the sanctuary before the praise band is finished playing and dance/clap along--but he absolutely LOVES Comatose. As we've been having trouble putting the poor sick kid (he's had a fever the last couple of days...please pray!) to sleep the last few days, that Skillet CD is the only sure-fire way to get him to calm down, no matter how loudly he's screaming, now matter how exhausted and tantrummy he is. You start playing the first track, and his head instantly goes against your shoulder. By the end of the first song, he's done screaming.

We really need to write Skillet a thank-you note.


This has become longer than I expected. Should have gone ahead and wrote that last Lest I Forget. Ah well. Hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes even better.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day One-Hundred Forty-Three: Awesome. Thanks.

Quick story from work today.

While I was walking through the box office, one of my coworkers stops me to tell me she had a friend by earlier today, and that the two of them caught a little bit of the Riddle of the Rainbow rehearsal, and that the little part they caught was me singing my one solo in the show (which I whole-heartedly acknowledge is probably my weakest point in the performance, as I'm the least of the four singers in the cast). She then tells me that her friend was a recent graduate with a MA in music performance. She says her friend was really tickled with the rehearsal he watched and ended up taking one of our posters to put up in his music store. My coworker then reiterates that it was my solo they watched as they passed through the theater.

"Oh," I say a bit nervously, "great."

She laughs. "Don't worry," she says, "it wasn't quite as bad as you think it was!"

Awesome. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day One-Hundred Forty-Two: I love lists.

I. Love. Lists.

Seriously. I love making lists, I love categorizing things, I love ranking things, I love classifying things. Do you get the picture? I love lists.

I also love crossing things off of to-do lists. I can't think of many awesome people who don't enjoy this (although I know a few do exist).

I also need lists. Days like today, when I have a lot of things to do and none of them will take much time, I usually have trouble deciding what to start with. For some reason, having it on a list makes it easier for me to get started. Also, it gives me something to cross things off of as I finish them.

THEREFORE, I'm going to make a to-do list for my office work today.

I thought about posting it on here, so that I could just look up at my computer to see what I have to do next, but then I would have nothing to cross out. And really, highlighting text and then selecting the "strikeout" effect is just not the same.

In other news:

--I put Robbie down to bed at about nine o'clock last night. Then, without consciously doing it, I crossed the hallway to my bedroom, brushed my teeth, fell into bed, and slept for nearly ten hours. I swear, I don't remember even deciding to do that. Bumps my average back up to six hours a night over the past few days. Man, do I feel better today!

--Riddle of the Rainbow opens Friday. Sort of.

--I had another "cute things Robbie says" story, but I just posted one of those yesterday, so I think I'll save this one for when I'm having a bit of a dry spell on this blog.

--If I'm feeling this lucid tomorrow, I'll finish up the "Lest I Forget" series. Because a three-part series should never stretch over 100 days.

Series fail.

--Speaking of series fails, the Penguins have game three at home tonight. Needless to say, if the Birds can't pull things out tonight, it's all but over. Big game tonight, boys!

--I still need to look up what time that game starts, now that I think about it.

--I find it highly amusing that Tarvis, Dave, and I's guys night has been interrupted for the summer by Steel Magnolias, of all shows. "Wanna have outgehangen?" "Naw, Tarvis has Steel Magnolias."


All right, off to eat lunch and then make a list.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day One-Hundred Forty-One: Bye, bye, Biff

Yuck. Running on fewer than three hours of sleep today. Six o'clock call in the morning, and in rehearsal until seven tonight. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Anyway, today was the final YA booking of the year. What an unusual year this was, and I wasn't even in the unit! Well, most of the time. I became a part of the Biff, Bang, Kapowie! unit when we lost a cast member in (surprise surprise!) February, and that was fun, even though we all really didn't like Biff, Bang, Kapowie! Sad thing is that I think, of the three shows, Biff was the show with the best performances by just about everybody. Everyone really did a great, great job with this script, even though nobody liked it.

You can tell how well-rested I am by the fact that I just used the word "great" twice in a row right there. That's because I am both awesome and awesome.

Anyway, amusing last night: Tarvis came over to watch the Pens lose with me (game three is tomorrow night, party at my place!), and Kim said that as Robbie went to bed his good night prayer went a little something like this:

"Thank you God Daddy.
Thank you God Tavis.
Thank you God hockey.
Thank you God, go Penguins."

Cute kid. (Is this a good time to teach the "Sometimes, God answers our prayers with a 'no'" lesson?)

Back on subject: I'm proud of this year's YA touring team. I hope it was a great learning and growing experience for everyone involved, because that, to me, is what makes touring such a big and unique part of what we do at this company. Looking forward to some fun times and hopefully hitting the road full-time again next year!