On to Pittsburgh.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
On to Pittsburgh.
As you might expect, Gentle Reader, my morning has been completely consumed with reading what the sporting press has to say about last night's Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals. And there's almost literally a TON of stuff out there... which is semi-surprising for a game "that don't get no respect" in the generic sense. But as of this writing Google is listing 2,916 SCF Game One related articles in the press and 40 related blog posts. And George Malik posted enough video in a single post to crash my browser not once but FOUR times (Chase this link at your peril. You are warned.). I'd say that qualifies as "respect," wouldn't you?
Here's my favorite kernel o' wisdom from the morning's harvest... by Cam Cole, writing in the Vancouver Sun:
Indeed, unless there was a full moon that nobody noticed, it was either pure happenstance or some powerful statement by the hockey gods that allowed the dinged-up Red Wings, still with no Pavel Datsyuk or Kris Draper, to escape the first act of hockey’s great passion play with a 3-1 victory, a cushion they will be delighted to have with Game 2 looming just 21 hours after this one ended.You may recognize a certain sumthin' in the passage above, which I've taken the liberty of highlighting in a bold red font just in case you might have missed it. Ring a bell? It should:
The Hockey Gods do not look kindly upon apostates; heresy is NOT allowed in this church**. The Faithful will note Henrik Zetterberg did NOT touch the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl during the presentation of same for winning the West this year. Ergo, The Cup will follow in due course. It's ordained.Heh.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
While opinions on the question of who will win this series are pretty evenly divided, most pundits feel it will take seven games to decide the outcome. MLive's George Malik has posted comprehensive round-ups of the predictions from the usual sources, i.e., The Hockey News, ESPN, SI, the Canadian press, the CBC, hockey blogs, the Dee-troit and Pittsburgh papers, and even the frickin' New York Times... if you're into reading such things. His admittedly homer-ish coverage (Go Wings!) of the SCF is the BEST available (IMHO)... in terms of absolute completeness.
As for the Great Unwashed... here's a small sampling about what ESPN's readers think the outcome will be, along with some series-related questions: Note that the vote is split fairly even at 51/49 Wings, nationwide. In Michigan 96% of voters think the Wings will win; in PA it's 85% Pens... go figure. You can vote in the poll here, if'n ya wanna. Now. As for me? I'm thinking Wings in six... just like last year. The wild card in all this is the Wings' health... the Pens' too. But given the way things look this morning... and most especially if Datsyuk returns for Game Two and the ones following... I just don't see the Wings losing.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Right around sunset last evening... or just after. Click to embiggen, as always.
I posted a little Elvis immediately below and mentioned in comments that "I like his wife,too." Well, that's true... and this tune bears sharing.
This song as done by Ms. Krall (or would that be "Mrs. Costello?") is my all-time favorite Joni Mitchell cover and is the perfect example of those rare times when the cover equals the original. I won't say "exceeds," coz that would be heresy. NO one exceeds Joni... ever.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Bucking years of superstitious belief,
For years, such behavior around the trophy awarded to the Eastern Conference playoff champion was considered taboo. The thinking went something like this: Why celebrate with the conference championship trophy when there is a bigger trophy still up for grabs. The superstitious lot actually believed it was bad luck -- and poor form -- to be caught touching said trophy, and more than one captain in the past decade has gone to great lengths to limit exposure.
Another tradition (or rather superstition) which is prevalent among today's NHL players is that no player should touch the Cup itself until his team has rightfully won the Cup. Adding to this superstition is some players' choice to neither touch nor hoist the conference trophies (Clarence S. Campbell Bowl and Prince of Wales Trophy) when these series have been won; the players feel that the Stanley Cup is the true championship trophy, and only it should be hoisted. However, in 1994, Stephane Matteau, then of the New York Rangers, admitted that he tapped the Wales Trophy with his stick's blade before the overtime period in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Matteau subsequently scored the game-winning goal in double overtime against the New Jersey Devils, and the Rangers won the Stanley Cup. Scott Stevens hoisted the trophy as well in 2000, after the New Jersey Devils came back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games. In 2002 the Carolina Hurricanes hoisted the Prince of Wales Trophy after they won their conference title; the Hurricanes lost their Finals series with the Detroit Red Wings four games to one. The superstition held true in 2004, as Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames grabbed the Campbell Bowl, but Dave Andreychuk of the Tampa Bay Lightning refused to touch the Prince of Wales Trophy; the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in seven games. In 2007, Daniel Alfredsson and Wade Redden of the Ottawa Senators touched and picked up the Prince of Wales Trophy, respectively, but Anaheim Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer never came close to the Campbell Bowl; the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in five games. Steve Yzerman, captain of the Detroit Red Wings during their 1997, 1998, and 2002 Stanley Cup victories, picked up the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl each time, though his successor Nicklas Lidstrom did not touch it en route to a 2008 Stanley Cup victory.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Explanation... the lens on the left... detached from the camera body... has been the source of the only complaints I've had with my XTi. And about which I said:
I'm still not completely satisfied with this lens' performance, given the images aren't as sharp as one would expect... or perhaps demand... from a camera in this price range. I understand that telephoto lenses generally have a "softer" focus than a "normal" lens. So... it's with that knowledge in mind that I see a new lens in my future... more than likely a "standard" 50mm fixed-focal length lens.And so it's come to pass. The FedEx guy dropped off my new Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens about a half hour ago. Here's the first test shot, in two flavors:
The first pic is a 40% re-size, the second is a full-resolution crop. You can't really tell the difference in quality (i.e., this lens vs. the "old" telephoto zoom) from photos posted on the web, but my initial impressions are that I will be satisfied with this lens. I'll play with this lens a little more in the coming days... after my lens hood and filter arrive from Amazon. I don't like to walk around with a "bare" lens, which is to say without a filter on it to protect the lens glass from dust and such. But you just KNOW, Gentle Reader, that we had to go out for a quick test drive!
I'm actually pleased and surprised that the lens arrived before the other stuff... given as how the lens was purchased from an Amazon partner (OneCall, in Spokane, WA) and the accessories from Amazon themselves. I'm pleased with both the price AND the responsive, rapid service I received from OneCall. Good On 'Em, and all that.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
So... it occurred to me that you lack a general understanding of the grace, beauty, athleticism, and violence that is my favorite sport. Well, forget the violence part. I didn't really mean that. Heh.
Enter Greg Wyshynski, aka Puck Daddy, who found this little gem that might help you understand what I'm on about at this time of year (all the time, actually, but it's only this time of year when I get to watch all the hockey I want):
It's humor, Gentle Reader. Canadian humor. Which means you probably need a beer or three to appreciate it if you're not a hockey fan.
Speaking of beer... the sun is over and slightly beyond the yardarm, so I think we'll get Happy Hour underway. The weather was just miserable enough this weekend (read as: lotsa rain) so as to preclude (some of) the daily festivities. Sooo... if you'll excuse me... I have some catching up to do.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class James Bell)
From today’s Air Force Association Daily Report:
Cannon Gets First Gunships: The first two of eight AC-130H Spectre gunships destined for the new Air Force Special Operations Command force at Cannon AFB, N.M., arrived last week. The remaining aircraft are slated to arrive later this summer, according to the Cannon photo release. The AC-130 gunships are part of the 16th Special Operations Squadron that is shifting from Hurlburt Field,
More… much more… on the AC-130H here. So… things are gonna get a lil bit noisy out on the range pretty soon. That 105mm howitzer sticking out of the left side of the aircraft (right side of photo) in the pic above has a pretty good boom to it. I've heard 'em practicing on the range while I was down in the Florida Panhandle years ago... from a distance of at least ten miles, perhaps more. It makes one glad to NOT be on the receiving end of greetings the Spectres deliver. Watch this and see if you don't agree:
(USAF Photos as captioned here.)
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
(ed: note the Dee-troit fans [in Chicago!], as opposed to the despondent YoungHawk fans)
Schooling. That's the metaphor in play throughout the hockey press after Detroit's 6-1 thumping of those YoungHawks this afternoon. And the press is both brutal and unforgiving, even and especially hometown Hawks blogger/columnist Steve Rosenbloom:
What. A. Disaster.Ouch. The criticism and snark only gets worse. It's said "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"... unless it's a hometown hockey writer who watched his city's team systematically dismantled, humbled, and embarrassed. I've seen similar writing in the Dee-troit press back in the bad ol' days of the mid-80s, and even in places like San Jose and Calgary this season. But Rosenbloom takes biting criticism another notch up the scale.
A disaster, an embarrassment, a waste, pick one, pick ‘em all, you wouldn’t be wrong in trying to describe what passed for Blackhawks hockey in a 6-1 loss in Game 4 of what used to be a competitive Western Conference finals against the vexing Red Wings.
The Hawks came into Game 4 knowing they couldn’t go into Game 5 in Detroit on the brink of elimination, and they proceeded to lose the first period, their poise, the game and likely the series.
To think, the Hawks had everything going for them entering Sunday’s game.
They had confidence they could beat the defending champions after their gotta-have-it overtime win on Friday. Amazingly, they had Martin Havlat, no matter that he got annihilated by Niklas Kronwall in Game 3. They also had the last change at home against a team missing all kinds of talent and bling -- Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper, a multiple Norris Trophy winner, an MVP candidate, fistfuls of Stanley Cup rings.
But that’s why the Wings are a great team and the young Hawks just aren’t good enough.
The Hawks’ deterioration resembled the way you go broke: slowly at first, then all at once. They not only blew a power play in the first period, but they gave up a 2-on-1 break and a short-handed goal.
When they needed to rally, the Hawks they gave up an inexcusable goal in the last minute of the first period. Johan Franzen came down the right wing and snapped a shot into the top left corner.
And there's this from Cam Cole, writing at Canada.com:
CHICAGO — The Detroit Red Wings took the kids to school Sunday. They’ll pick ’em up next fall.
Actually, there’s a little paperwork to be done first, Wednesday night in Detroit — report cards signed, concessions accepted, and so on — but once that’s done, the Chicago Blackhawks can take the rest of the season off and go back to class in October.
Class was noticeably absent from their performance in Game 4 of the Western Conference final at United Center, where the young Hawks received more education than they ever wanted. The Red Wings — short-staffed, shorthanded, on the power play, every which way — showcased their incredible depth and dominated the home team with a cool, controlled display of textbook positional hockey and opportunism.
It ended 6-1, on the strength of two goals each from Marian Hossa and Henrik Zetterberg, and along the way the Wings chased starting goalie Cristobal Huet four minutes into the second period, then his replacement, Corey Crawford, after 40 — although it might have been that Chicago coach Joel Quenneville realized he’d be needing Huet for Game 5 Wednesday, and better get him some work.
In any case, it was an ugly day for Hawk fans, who had come thirsting for Red Wing blood after Niklas Kronwall’s nasty hit on forward Martin Havlat in Game 3, but didn’t get to taste revenge in what might be their last glimpse of the boys this year — only bitter, utter defeat and a 3-1 series deficit.
Missing their best two players? No problem for the Stanley Cup champs. Plenty more where they came from.
Detroit was already without Pavel Datsyuk, but shocked observers by scratching captain Nick Lidstrom just before game time. Kris Draper, too. It hardly mattered.
Detroit gave a clinic on what gut-check time is all about. Playing without veteran faceoff specialist Kris Draper, Hart nominee Pavel Datsyuk and surprise scratch, captain Nicklas Lidstrom -- only the best defenseman of his generation -- the Red Wings played with composure and competitiveness. They were outwardly abrasive in the early going, not shying away from post-whistle scrums, actually initiating much of the pushing and shoving.So. It really, rilly, looks like the handwriting is on the wall... we'll have Wings - Pens, The Sequel beginning June 5th. June 5th?? Yeah... that is truly inept and horrible scheduling on the NHL's part for the SCF, based upon a press release from the league Friday... which might change if the conference finals end quickly. But that's quite another story. There are a couple of hockey games to be played first.
That edginess was merely a demonstrative form of their intent. As is the norm, it was their execution that led to the Red Wings' domination. The passing was crisp and the shooting sharp. The tandem of Marian Hossa and Valtteri Filppula, in particular, took over offensively with Hossa scoring twice -- his first tallies of the series -- and Filppula with his first of the playoffs. Hossa's second goal of the game came only 12 seconds after Jonathan Toews had gotten the Blackhawks on the board at 3-1.
That quick answer denied the Blackhawks any chance at building momentum for a comeback -- something they've routinely done throughout the playoffs. Instead, at 4-1 early in the second period, goaltender Cristobal Huet's day was done and the youthful 'Hawks proceeded to unravel by taking needless penalties. Rookie Corey Crawford had to endure a 5-on-3 power play and promptly saw the big board go to 5-1 on Henrik Zetterberg's goal. From there, the game took on an air of posturing, with both teams setting their sights on Game 5.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
About which, Damien Cox opines in the Toronto Star:
Hard to believe four experienced NHL officials could get a call so wrong.
Did the misguided first period expulsion of defenceman Niklas Kronwall from Game 3 of the Western Conference final on Friday night between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks decide the game? No, but it sure changed it, particularly since the Wings were already without star forward Pavel Datsyuk in a game won by the Hawks that ensured this year's Stanley Cup final will begin no earlier than June 5.
But in a playoff season in which the NHL has gotten so many calls wrong time after time, Kronwall's was arguably the worst miscarriage of justice outside the inexplicable non-suspension of Carolina forward Scott Walker for his goon sucker punch on Boston's Aaron Ward.
First... Occasional Reader and commenter Bob Reese from Albuquerque is in the area this weekend and he dropped by yesterday afternoon with a cold sixer of my favorite Japanese beer in hand. Many's the mug and bottle of Sapporo that's been downed over the years, and Bob and I had a couple of those yesterday while we got better acquainted and "fixed the world," so to speak. Suffice to say Bob is exactly the sort of person I thought he was... smart, articulate, and with excellent taste in brew. A most enjoyable interlude!
Second... The Brown Truck of Happiness stopped by yesterday as well, delivering yet another six-pack of excellent beer sent on by Blog-Bud Ann from Montana. Ann offered to send me some of Great Northern Brewing Company's Wild Huckleberry Wheat Lager for my review and approval... I, in turn, offered to send her some of New Mexico's best salsa... and the deal was struck.
I had a couple of those Huckleberry Wheats while watching the Wings lose in overtime last evening, and was sufficiently impressed with the beer to write a mini-review at Beer Advocate. You can read my review of this fine beer plus 12 others here, if you're so inclined, Gentle Reader. OTOH, you could just click on the image below and read the review right now without having to go off galavanting around these inter-tubes.
Not bad writing for a man who was half in the bag and semi-despondent because his team lost an important game, eh?
But it's not the end of the world as far as The Beloved Wings go, it's just one game in a seven-game series... not to mention the fact we're still up 2-1 in said series. Still and even... it WAS depressing to watch the Wings go down 3-0 in the first period, come roaring back in the second period to tie with three unanswered goals... only to lose less than two minutes into the OT.
Oh, well...stuff happens. It was a rather sad end to an otherwise brilliant day, though.
Friday, May 22, 2009
(Photo from the WSJ article)
(US Army photo - as captioned on Army.mil - click for larger)
Every Memorial Day since 1948, Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) have made their way through Fort Myer's Selfridge Gate, rucksacks filled with American flags.Full story here.
This year was no exception as every available Soldier from The Old Guard, as well as from ceremonial units across each branch of the military, gathered at Arlington National Cemetery May 21, to place a flag in front of each one of the cemetery's more than 300,000 graves.
"Flags In," as it's known, kicks off the Memorial Day weekend for service members and visitors to ANC, beginning several days of reflecting on the sacrifices of the men and women who have laid down their lives for our country.
The Marine Corps Barracks 8th and I, the Navy Ceremonial Guard, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard and members of the Coast Guard Honor Guard all participated as well, in a joint service tribute to heroes of generations past and present.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Isn't that something? Wins the draw, skates behind the net, and flips a "no look" back-hander into the net, all while fighting off the Carolina defenseman. Amazing. And ya just gotta love NHL.com, too... those guys are quick to post video!
We got a real barn-burner goin' in Pittsburgh... only 13 minutes gone in the first period and it's 3-2, Carolina. Five goals in 13 minutes... the sort of hockey I LIKE.
I don't have a dog in this fight but I'm leaning towards those Cardiac Canes... they're exciting to watch.
Update, 2025 hrs: A WILD one... Pens win, 7-3 and go up 2-0 in the series. Malkin gets a hat trick and his third of the night was a beauty that I'll post as soon as it's available on YouTube... and it most certainly WILL be.
The final score makes it seem worse than it actually was. The last Pittsburgh goal was an empty-netter, and Malkin's three goals most definitely added to the lopsidedness. I wouldn't be too confident if I were a Pens fan, though. I'm thinking the 'Canes have it well within their power to even the series in Raleigh. I'm sure Blackhawks fans are thinking the same thing, too... but that's different, yanno?
Update update, 2135 hrs: Here's Wyshynski tonight:
• All of that said: There's a better chance Carolina rallies in this series than Chicago rallies against the Red Wings. Just a hunch.Heh. Great minds, and all that.
I'm not much on gadgetry, but I think I could use some of the functionality built into this phone. MUCH more useful than your run-of-the-mill iPhone... yanno? Especially that self-destruct feature.
(h/T: Blog-Bud Alison)
Here's what the WSJ has to say (in part) on the subject. Excerpts:
So far, the Obama administration has yet to lay out its magical thinking on how the homegrown auto makers are to become "viable" when required to subordinate every auto attribute that consumers find desirable (ed: emphasis mine) in favor of achieving a passenger-car average of 39 miles per gallon by 2016. Nonetheless the answer has quietly seeped out: Taxpayers will write $5,000 or $7,000 rebate checks to other taxpayers to bribe them to buy hybrids and plug-ins at a price that lets Detroit claim it's earning a "profit" on its Obamamobiles.As for attributes I find desirable... horsepower is right up there along with agility. It pains me, severely, to think that those rompin', stompin' V8s of my youth... improved as they are (and 304 hp V6s that get 29 mpg, fer gawd's sake)... will go the way of the dodo. I just don't see how they fit in with The One's
Mr. Obama was supposed to be smart. His administration was supposed to be a smart administration. But the policy coming out has not been smart. It has been a brute shifting of power to the president's political allies, justified by the shibboleths of copybook liberalism (though Mr. Obama is clever enough to know that nothing he's done will have a meaningful effect on atmospheric carbon or climate change or the country's need for oil imports).
I may never own another fire-breathing V8 and it's quite likely I wouldn't choose one the next time I'm in the market for a new car, anyway. But I ain't happy about having the goddamned government take that choice away from me. What have we come to?
(toon from the usual source)
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
20,000 fans in Dee-troit go WILD... while at least one in Portales does the same. I think I hurt my hand I brought 'em together so forcefully... and I KNOW the neighbor had to be startled with the "YES!" shouted at the top of my lungs.
So. On to the United Center. It's very hard for me to see how Chicago wins four out of the next five games, but they'll probably take at least one home game. It's not that they aren't a good team - they are. It's just that the Wings are better this year.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
And even before the economy got nasty, seniors were found to be generally happier than Baby Boomers. Some of that owes to the American Dream being lived by past generations, while Boomers work two jobs and watch the dream wither.
In times like this, it's clear how age can have its advantages. While not all seniors are weathering the recession well, for many the impact is much less severe than it is for younger people.
Why? Many people 65 and older retired and downsized their lifestyles before the economy imploded, according to Pew analysts.
I’d probably modify that Republican thing to say “conservative,” mainly coz I’m not too pleased with the state of the GOP these days, and I should note that at age 64+ I’m just outside that 65-year old envelope. But on the whole it’s hard for me to argue with the premise(s) made in the article. I’m finding the downsized life just peachy, don’t have any financial issues to speak of (which is a direct correlation between my expectations/desires and my means, IMHO), and enjoy my independence almost TOO much.
If all that sounds suspiciously like a self-congratulatory load of bollocks, then so be it. It’s the truth… swear to the-deity-at-hand.
Here's Michael Landon and Johnny Carson discussing the subject... with a too-brief sample clip:
OTOH... maybe you hadda be there.
Monday, May 18, 2009
(photo: The Joe, with a part of downtown Detroit in the background, from hockey,ballparks.com)
"I don't think we were over-aggressive, I think we were not smart out there," defenseman Brian Campbell said. "You feel a guy on you, you've got to find a way to get it deep and skate harder and move your feet more. You can't be standing around."
As explanations go, "not smart" is as good as any.
The Red Wings like to make nifty plays and then hope their opponents try to attempt the same. They don't make many mistakes and figure that, eventually, the other team will. It happened over and over Sunday.
(Photo credits: F-35, Lockheed-Martin; Khabibulin - Franzen, Detroit Free Press)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
You can follow the repair activity live on NASA's Twitter feed, if that interests you. I'd be watching the process on NASA teevee, if my local Comcast outlet wasn't so damned lame. We unfortunates here in P-Ville aren't allowed NASA, ya know... but we DO have three shopping channels. Priorities, and all that. (/sarcasm)
Update: One can watch NASA's live TV feed on the web site, but my point remains: a 3" x 2" window on my PC ain't quite the same as watching it on my teevee. It's still fascinating stuff, though.
I have, however, found a reasonable facsimile and something I’ll buy more of… a
But Hey! This stuff is danged good, even if it’s a serious diet killer at 310 calories per quarter pint. I’ve been known to eat an entire pint of Cherry Garcia at a single sitting, but there’s NO way I could do that with Crème Brulée… it’s just too danged rich. I can do a half-pint, though. Easily. Been there, done that, hope to gain weight.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
(h/t: Kukla's Korner)
I swear to the deity at hand that I'm gonna start doing my shopping after midnite, or at least that portion of my shopping that involves going to Wally-World. That way I'll be able to avoid those fat bitches that stand in the middle of the damned aisle surveying stacks of potato chips, unable to decide between Lay's barbecue or sour cream and onion, oblivious of the line of blocked shoppers forming to either side of them.
Not to mention the clue-free people who think shopping is a social event and also block the aisles by parking their carts adjacent to one another while screaming "Oh... HI! What HAVE you been up to?" while still MORE lines form in front and behind them. God knows they probably haven't seen each other since at least yesterday and MUST catch up right now. So, you say "Excuse me..." and are rewarded with a "how DARE you interrupt me?" sort of glare. Un-bee-leeb-able, that.
And shall we talk about out-of-control curtain climbers? No, let's NOT. We've all been there.
So: I'm resolved... it's after midnite for Wal-Mart from now on. The only thing I'll have to deal with then are the floor-moppers and stock-people, and they're a lot more considerate. To say the LEAST.
I feel much better now. That is all.