Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Duplex on Thursday PM!

Matt, we're going Thursday night. The show starts at 8PM. It's the Black Box Theater/Boston Center for the Arts; 539 Tremont Street. It's near the corner of Tremont & Clarendon in the South End in Town. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the Box Office next door at the newer theater or online at Boston Theater Scene Dot Com. There is one remaining 2PM show on Sunday, June 5 and the remaining 8PM shows are June 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10 & 11. I'll see it more than once so I'll definitely go with ya. I'm bringing Deedee to one next week so we could make it a Dubble Date too. ^_~ Tell Jill I sez "Hullo!".
I'd like very much to do that Sully, but we've already got commitments for saturday. How long is it running, and where? Perhaps some other night?
Now...I haven't yet seen Duplex. I was gonna go tonight but it's their night off so Peter, Posty & I are grilling steaks and our brains instead. ^_~

But I know the story of "Duplex", I've seen the genesis of this production. I've sampled the music and I know that Peter consistently provides quality & entertaining product. The review below isn't necessarily "bad" but the the reviewer teases Peter on points that he was actually trying to be subtle and let the audience use their precious mind and imagination (re: Gordon & Suzanne's understated baby dreams, et al.) and by saying there was no "hook" (tell that to my girlfriend who was whistling Gordon's theme "Gotta Get Out of Here" all the way home one night ^_~). The only thing about "Duplex" I don't know about is this current stage production which I'll remedy Thursday Night (Matt, you & Jill wanna come out to a night of theater? $15 tix, BTW...come with, it'll be good).

One thing that came across as negative I will proudly stand up and accept as a positive was where Cragin says, "However, the result is more a crazy quilt of shut-down personalities than a ''Rent"-ian assortment of sparkling creative types". I've seen "Rent". I can't stand "Rent". Sure, I get why it's popular and why people like it. Its popular songs are the fodder of piano bars and sing-a-longs with the chicks. But "Rent" is really high-falootin' and not very accessable in terms of being empathetic to the characters. In "Duplex", we are given everyday people like you and me and real-life problems. "Rent" is a update of the opera "La Boheme" with characters being a bit "unreal" but sterotypically Urban. "Duplex" offers another side of Urban life, the side with real people who aren't drug addicts, transvestites, HIV+ or over-creative & artistic.

All in all, I was very proud to see Peter's name in print in a world-class publication such as the Boston Globe. His Mom called at 7:00AM, woke him up and read the review to him. How "real-life" is that, kids? ^_~

Rev. Sully
The Reviews Are IN!!!

Peter "Dr. Hooey" Fernandez' musical "Duplex"!

From the Boston Globe:

'Duplex' pleases but doesn't raise the roof

By Sally Cragin, Globe Correspondent | May 31, 2005

Drive down any street in Somerville and you'll see countless triple-deckers and multifamily homes. How many seething soap operas play out within these densely packed dwellings? In ''Duplex," local writer/composer Peter Fernandez has parked in front of a two-family house on the verge of an emotional explosion.

This promising but flawed chamber musical, energetically directed by Luke Dennis and presented by Alarm Clock Theatre Company, centers on married yuppies Suzanne and Gordon and their tenants, Bobby, a feckless 20-something cook, and his girlfriend, Katie Jane. Catastrophe ensues when a flirtation between Suzanne and Bobby reaches a critical stage.

In program notes, Fernandez explains that he has worked on these characters and the concept for years, producing poems, screenplays, and even theatrical improv exercises. However, the result is more a crazy quilt of shut-down personalities than a ''Rent"-ian assortment of sparkling creative types. We see these four at home, at work, and at play, yet it's hard to root for anyone -- especially after the affair, which takes but a moment on the stage and results in a lugubrious second act.

But there are merits here -- psychological acuity and clever wordplay. And there's decent comedy, particularly in a coffeehouse scene that wickedly sends up folkie ''niceness." There's even a Greek chorus in the form of neighborhood oldsters, the Pushkins, who shuffle by the house (presented in Josh Tobin's austere set as two adjoining beds). The Pushkins can be annoying, but their commentary is usually apt. When Gordon discovers Suzanne's infidelity, it's also trash day and the Pushkins sing, ''colorful packaging drawing us in / But soon it gets tossed in the recycle bin."

The performers range from competent to skillful, but they're not well-served by a bland score. Fernandez has also worked as music director for the Improv Asylum, and although he has a grasp on the rhythms of various genres, there's not a hook anywhere, and too much cello underscores the elegiac aspects. Also, performers' ranges aren't respected; Joseph Pelletier, who makes a convincingly shifty Bobby, has a pleasant light tenor chronically strained by low octaves.

Amanda Meehan brings a perky earnestness to Katie Jane, who can't wait to start nesting, and Tim Douglas is an apt, buttoned-down Gordon. Sally Dennis's Suzanne has charisma that seems at odds with her character's anxiety and desperation. But a bigger issue are plot holes -- Fernandez hints that Gordon and Suzanne's miserable marriage might result from her ambivalence about having a child but doesn't delve further. Katie Jane irritates Bobby by sending his short stories to magazines, but we never hear him talking about writing as a passion.

Despite these caveats, ''Duplex" is entertaining and intermittently fabulous. One wishes Fernandez might connect with a dispassionate dramaturge and a rigorous music editor to provide the artistic equivalent of a belt-sander -- and thereby remove layers of paint and reveal what could be a lustrously fine-grained story.
I got these for Deedee before she went to Texas. Hey...fool me once. ^_~ Tee hee...no really.

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I had a great weekend of camping with about 20 friends in a nice, secluded part of Wompatuck State Park. As always, the biking was great, but the highlight for me was busting out the old boy scout skills. I started a fire without matches or a lighter, and then built a couple of tripods to support the spit I made and later used to rotisserie cook a chicken over it. IMHO, it's the best way to be sure your chicken is finished within seconds of being completely cooked, and you get a nice, perfectly roasted golden brown skin all the way around. Ohhh....so juicy! As soon as the drippings were clear, it was ready to eat! The roasted garlic side was delicious too. Grills suck. Give me an open fire to cook on any day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

And here is your sad moment of the day...

Compliment of my Feed's Cruel Site of the Day:

Sad Moment

This is how primal the Star Wars experience goes back for me. I Had this toy and the reel I had was the Assault on the Death Star trench.
I start babbling about Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith at Husk's LiveJournal. ^_~

I've been slowly building a formidable collection of the finest tiki mugs I can find, and busted out round of drinks the other night with the dual purpose of suprising guests who said "anything's fine" when I asked if I could get them drinks, and getting all the stragglers out of my liquor cabinet so I have less packing to do for my upcoming move to Quincy in August. We were all blown away by the otherworldly goodness of my concoction, a variation on that classic tiki drink the Zombie, so I'll share it here for your enjoyment.

Fill a shaker with ice
add 1 oz dark rum
1 oz light rum
2 oz pineapple juice
a splash of grenadine
a splash of lime juice
2 oz orange juice
1/2 oz blue curacao
1 oz coconut rum
garnish with a pineapple ring, orange slice, and cherry
A Smoldering Puck!: Episode III Revenge of the Pissed!

May 25, 2005

Hey...no time for the full Smoking Puck until later next week if I'm lucky...

But Tuesday, May 24 2005 the Providence Bruins beat the Philly Phantoms 2-1 in Overtime of Game 3 at the American Hockey League Eastern Conference Finals on home ice in Rhode Island. (source). The Baby B's were already down 2 games to 0 and needed a win to keep hope and precious momentum alive. The referee doled out 131 minutes worth of penalties. Check out the Box Score of the Game here. Here's the Patented Smoking Puck Moment of the Day though: you can tell a lot of the Hockey game from the Box Score. Ever read a baseball or football box score? The game can play out in your head if you missed it and are reading the Box Score in the paper or on a web site. The Baby B's tied the game late in the Third Period. There was a huge Brou-ha-ha at 14:08 in the Overtime period when the Winning Goal was scored. It was a hard nosed game with fights, roughings and matching slashings in the first & second periods and the shots on Goal; Philadelphia with 37 and Providence firing 38 of their own, that one shot more made all the difference and 17 alone in the 3rd period. It was a duel of two Finnish goaltenders; Antero Niitymaki for the Phantoms and Andrew "Razor Raycroft's competition Hannu Toivonen for the Bruins.
In my best Anakin Skywalker vox: Now...this is playoff hockey!* HUZZAH!

^_^ Game 4 is tonight at 7:05PM

Rev. Sully

Come visit Channel Ocho

*ED Note: please understand that the paraphrased Anakin Skywlaker line from "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" loses all its cheesiness after viewing the DVD with the Extended PodRace scene which turns the PodRace from mere movie scene to an actual, thrilling race better than the Daytona 500 therefore making said paraphrased movie line...crediable and really in context. 'Nuff said.
RE: Lightsabre Duel...

Mebbe they'll make the Darwin Awards. At least Honorable Mention if they survive.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Man... that's dumb. Having a sword fight with 3 foot molotov coctails.

I vote them both off the island.
What the incredibly stupid are doing...

Two hurt in mock light sabre duel

Two Star Wars fans are in a critical condition in hospital after apparently trying to make light sabres by filling fluorescent light tubes with petrol.
A man, aged 20, and a girl of 17 are believed to have been filming a mock duel when they poured fuel into two glass tubes and lit it.

The pair were rushed to hospital after one of the devices exploded in woodland at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

A third person present at the incident had been questioned, police said.

Videotape found

A videotape was found nearby by police called to the scene on Sunday.

A police spokeswoman said the pair were taken to West Herts Hospital before being transferred to the specialist burns unit at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, in Essex.

They are both said to be in a critical condition.

She said the 17-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man from Hemel Hempstead suffered serious injuries.

She added: "At this stage we are unable to confirm the exact circumstances, but glass tubes and traces of accelerant (flammable substance) were found at the scene."

The final film in the Star Wars series, Revenge Of The Sith, arrived at UK cinemas last week.

One of the crucial scenes features a light sabre battle between Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan Kenobi and Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker.

(from the BBC News Service)

Saturday, May 21, 2005

See it twice! The second time was MUCH better. The lines weren't quite as cheesy and the whole melodramatism of the whole thing wasn't quite as distastful.

I have a theory on the Qui-Gonn thing.
Yoda said that Qui-Gonn had achieved immortality and that Obi-Wan was to, basically, study from Qui-Gonn while in exile. Yoda simply had to teach him how to communicate with Qui-Gonn.
I think that this is the reason Obi-wan chose not to fight with Vadar when the met in ANH - he knew he was weak, and as he said to Vadar, "by striking me down I will become more powerful than even you can imagine" As a result Obi-wan had been able to transcend much more quickly than Qui-Gonn, he had learned the art directly from him. I suppose that is why he and Yoda didn't leave behind a corpse like Qui-Gonn and Anakin did when they died. But that's just a guess.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Gloves are off…speak freely about Star Wars now.

Hmmm…where to begin? And I gotta see it again soon.

I didn’t catch where Obi-Wan got Anakin’s left arm before he got the legs. Damn. Then he caught fire!

Anakin, Padme…Hamlet, Ophelia? You be the judge.

Qui-Gonn mentioned at the end…perhaps to be explained in the TeeVee show.

I got no problems with none of my projections/expectations coming true. I didn’t have many. I really thought that Boba Fett would have taken out Mace Windu. Because of the Revenge angle also because Vader pointed at him and said “no disintergrations” in the Carbon Freeze chamber during ESB.

What a good movie. I agree with Leah that when we left the theater, we didn’t mention the movie for more than 10 minutes. Yeah. It was a bit exhausting. Damn Pepsi products…I would have loved to have been surprised about Chewbacca. He’s on the Diet Pepsi 2 liter bottle.

Wipe the protocol droid’s mind was great though.
Revenge of the Wrist

Wrist is the ONLY word I thought fit the "rhyme" & "meter" scheme if I'm lampooning the Episode III Title and mentioning masturbation in the same sentance. You be the judge. Leading me to wonder if this device is used strictly for the Dark Side...you know...the red blade. Ah fugeddaboutit. ^_~

Come see the rest of the story at: http://www.homemade-sex-toys.com/light/index.html .

Courtesy of the Cruel Site of the Day RSS Feed on My Yahoo.
I have to think Leia's early memories were of Bail Organa's wife. I believe Leia was raised to believe that they were her parents.
Ho there - My second session should either be tonight (after a 10 hour shift at teh golf club) or tomorrow morning - with or wihtout Chris. If I go early enough I may even get a nice quiet cinema.
:::SPOILERS::: Overall I really enjoyed the third portion of this six part saga. Though unfortunately I still question Geoge's choice in Hayden. There were quite a lot of scenes he just didn't quite pull off. It was unfortunate. And there are a number of things that George could have done to avoid this and make the turn to the "dark side" a littel smoother for an actor with Hayden's skills. But hey. I am also remaining adamant (and have been since episode 1) that a love triangle including Obi-wan would have been an ideal way to go. He hinted at it of course in the final scenes but it wasn't built up enough for it to be pulled off either.
R2-D2 has gained a whole new level of love and respecct in my book. The race when I was a kid was always equal b/w R2 and Yoda for my heart as a kid. (As I became an adolescent Han obviously won the title...). R2 klinched it with that excellent display in the first 40 mins of the movie. And he keeps his memory as I had suspected and hoped. Brilliant!
Lastly, a flaw. Though it wouldn't have made sence to end the movie any other way, didn't Leia say in ROTJ that she had memories of her mother? Was she talking about Padme or the adopted mother on Alderan? Either way sad story.
The Movie as a whole left me in shock - for the entire second half of the film I felt as if I should be in tears but I was too stunned to produce anything like that. George on the whole did a good job in my opinion and really made the transition for all characters involved well (the emporer, anakin, obiwan, yoda). The distruction of the Jedi was heart breaking, and his apparant obsession with setting people on fire in this film won it a rating (R in NZ) that it deserves. I wouldn't take my kid to go see it. Not if they are under 10 anyway.
Anyway, that's what my first impressions were - or at least some of them - I'm writing this instead of getting ready for a day on the course so I better hit the road. ... in addition this weekend I have to study up on burns for my weekend credentialling at the hospital. Ironic??? Oh well, at least I can relate what I am reading to something in my head. :::SPOILERS END:::
Catch you on the flip-side.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

4:20 on a friday is unfortunately a couple of hours earlier than I can get out of work this week. Not to worry though, I caught the 12:01am show this morning.

The dork sitting behind me started in loudly decrying the unrealistic space physics as soon as the closing credits rolled. "There's no air in space, so there's no friction to make (a thing) fall off of (another thing)" I was sorely tempted to retort along the following lines, but I was ready for bed and I don't care to diminish the "socially disadvantaged" in front of their friends... except in internet chat rooms.

Aside from the fact that the laws of inertia explained the phenomenon adequately even if it happened in a vacuum, the fact that you can hear sound effects in space clearly indicates that either A, there is air in space in Star Wars, or B, it's just a movie, and these things are done for dramatic effect, not realism. The whole series is bursting with open hangers in space, lightsabers, and mystical levitation, but you single out simple inertia as something so unrealistic as to preclude suspension of disbelief. Wanker.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Hey Matt!

Scotty, Mario and myself MIGHT go catch the Friday afternoon showing of Episode III at the Loews Boston Common movie theater. Showtimes are basically every half and hour. There are tons. Check out Moviefone or Fandango Dot Com for showtimes. I need to drop Deedee off at the Airport and then I'm heading to Town to see the Movie. Her flight leaves at 1:30PM so I'm hoping for any show between 2:30 and 4PM (there is a 4:20PM show...tee hee! ^_~). You want in? Just lemme know but warning: I'm not solvent enuff to front tix so we can agree on a showtime, just meet up and get yer own tix. I'll letcha know which showing we're going to if you wanna join us Jedi.

After that...the gloves come off on all Star Wars Talk. Kiwi's been DYING to chime in. She texted me right after she saw it. Leah, I hope you've seen it twice since. ^_~
Cruel Site of the Day!

I started this RSS Feed on my Yahoo page and one of them is called the "Cruel Site of the Day". It gives me various links to attrocious web pages so try this one out for size...

Nobody Cares You're a DJ. What a hoot!

If any of you are interested in some memorial day weekend camping/party action, let me know, and I'll get you on the evite. It's shaping up to be a good time... mountain biking, canoe/kayak fun, live music around a bigass campfire, etc. No word yet on the possibility of a sponsorship from Sailor Jerry rum, but I'm expecting to hear on that any day now.

In any case, it'll be the inaugural outing of the "Outdoor Recreation and Games Association of Southeastern Massachusetts" the organization I had to invent in order to get a special-use permit from the state.
Husk on the Eijit Box!!!

My old friend Jason "Husk" Kiss was recently on an episode of Judge Joe Brown to resolve a dispute with his ex-roomate. He successfully defended against her claim AND won his counter-suit. WTG: Husku-chan!!!

Check out Husk's Crazy Life in the Provided link to the right of OCHO. Go to his LiveJournal for hours of entertainment "Shiroi Oji No Monogatari". That's Japanese for Castle of the White Prince or some other thing. He's a huge anime fan and actual living anime I think. ^_^ His LJ (LiveJournal) is pretty fun, engaging and if you pay attention you'll find a mind bomb or two from yours truly, Rev. Sully.

The Saga of his Current Roomate is something I think you should tune into and it's the latest posting titled: "Drama, Drama, Drama". It's a story of responsibility in the 21st Century. Check it out, it'll make you think. Then check his archive for great Journaling of life seen through his eyes and through a very funny A-Hole perspective.

Rev. Sully

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Comics Gnome rolls with the Changes but takes all my Loose Change

DC Comics got a New Logo

The circle within the circle with the four stars and the block lettering will be gone. Now gracing future issues of DC Comics and other DC related media (look for it in the Batman Begins motion picture release) is the new Whirlpool looking logo. I’ll always remember the old DC logo fondly. Gracing issues of Unknown Soldier and G.I. Combat that I used to entertain myself with when holed up in my uncle’s room while visiting my Nana’s house. Goodbye, Old Logo. I hope to have a tee shirt with you some day.

Green Lantern issue #3; on sale July 27, 2005

Speaking of changes, the new volume of Green Lantern comes out shortly. Get hooked on this now!

Loose Change:
And now, a sad story about the nature of Funnybooks and how they will get your money regardless of what your intentions are.

Speaking of getting “hooked”, I promised myself I wouldn’t be tempted but the Gnome had its way. I got suckered and now I’m gonna buy them all. Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers.

It started how lots of things in my life start. It started with a girl.

Neither the Comics Gnome nor myself think it’s wrong or harmful to have a crush on a cartoon character. Anyone who has seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit knows Jessica isn’t bad, she’s just drawn that way but I digress. And she’s looks “hot” in fishnets to boot. The Top Hat ain’t bad either.

Zatanna issue #3 (of 4)

Now the Seven Soldiers series was written to be read as stand-alone mini series but when read together, all the pieces fit together in a vast over story. I was only planning to read “Zatanna”, former JLA-er, John Constantine’s ex-girlfriend and underrated funnybook hottie who happens to be one of the major heavy hitters in the DCU for sheer power. I was reminded about my little “crush” in JLA: The Obsidian Age when she’s enlisted to send the “B-Team” back in time to save the Justice League. And I do love those fishnets. So I bought issue #1 and decided if I liked it to get all four.

The next week was a very light week in terms of comics to purchase. The last thing I wanted to do was to commit to buying $89.70 worth of funnybooks for 2 specials and 7 four issue mini series at $2.99 per issue over 1 year. Do the Math. But I wanted to be entertained and I so love the writing style of Mr. Morrison so I bought Seven Soldiers #0 on a whim.

Seven Soldiers #0

Well, as things that Grant Morrison writes I usually read, I read Seven Soldiers #0 about 4 times because it IS that good. A few of the other “Soldiers” titles were released and I passed then by, taking a peek and glance here and there but then I was at Dr. Hooey’s one night. Posty DeGraff had come over with a sack from his visit with the Comics Gnome and he had Klarion the Witch Boy #1. I picked through Posty’s stack and found this Morrison Offering. I had to look.

Klarion #1 (of 4)

This funnybook rocked my socks off and I only read about one quarter of it in that sitting. I needed to be social you know so I put it on the mental list of things to get. Klarion was like a lullaby written by Nine Inch Nails. It was dark, fun and so well drawn looking like something from a Children’s scary fairy tale reminiscent of Edward Gorey’s drawings.

Klarion #1 came home and was devoured. Three times over.

The next week at the Funnybook Bodega, I had to buy the rest of the Seven Soldiers titles that were out.

The Manhattan Guardian #1 (of 4)

Shining Knight #1 (of 4)

Shining Knight #2 (of 4)

Funnybook History Moment:
The Justice Society of America was the first EVER Super Hero team, not to mention just the first DC Hero team but the original Seven Soldiers of Victory were the SECOND Super hero team.

Green Arrow and his ward Speedy, the original Shining Knight, the Western cowboy of justice Vigilante, The Star Spangled Kid and his grown-up sidekick Stripesy and the Crimson Avenger in 1941 were the Golden Age Seven Soldiers of Victory. And they were “retconned” “Post-Crisis” if you wanna get all “fanboy” on the subject but Morrison is once again not just showing his chops as a great comics writer but as a huge fan of the DC Universe tapestry.

Three more Soldiers in the Morrison Seven Soldiers are going to be released; the Bulleteer, Mister Miracle and Frankenstein! In addition, Seven Soldiers #1 to bookend the entire series in April 2006. I am “on the hook” for the whole kit & caboodle now. Sigh. And I was so hoping to be frugal. Darn you, Comics Gnome, Darn you all to Heck.

‘Namaste & see you at the Funnybook Bodega next Wednesday,
Rev. Sully
Here are two articles from the (Lawrence, MA) Eagle-Tribune and I am glad to see that Jack Welch shares the same thoughts on expansion I posted on this blog:

NHL can be held accountable for betraying public trust

You may not be a pro hockey fan (who is these days?), but here's a reason to be outraged by the National Hockey League's ongoing contract battle.

According to records examined by The Eagle-Tribune, half of the multimillion-dollar arenas occupied by the 24 NHL teams based in the United States were built with the financial help of American taxpayers.

California and Florida are each home to two of the dozen taxpayer-supported hockey showcases. Georgia, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas each have one. Two NHL arenas in Canada, in Calgary and Edmonton, also were built with government assistance.

Additionally, various municipal and county governments have given commercial property tax breaks, linkage concessions, or other perks to the operators of virtually every arena housing an NHL team.

The subsidies cut the expenses of NHL club owners and boost the value of their franchises.

Taxpayers are supposed to get a return on their investment: jobs, payroll and other taxes and the spinoff economic activity associated with a professional sports team.

But this season, NHL owners have not held up their end of the bargain. The seven-month regular season and the lucrative Stanley Cup playoffs were scrapped because the owners couldn't cut a deal on how to split up the $2 billion in revenues the season would have generated.

The 88-year-old NHL, a monopoly that, unlike Major League Baseball, does not enjoy an anti-trust exemption, has some explaining to do.

Surely, U.S. taxpayers and their elected officials did not expect NHL owners to close shop for a year when they approved government-backed bonds and tax subsidies to help finance pro hockey arenas.

The NHL is reneging on its commitment to the public, fans and nonfans alike.

That has now caught the attention of one congressman, the 5th District's Marty Meehan. The Lowell Democrat says he intends to pursue the matter.

The owners' decision to throw away $2 billion is their own business. Not so the millions of dollars their decision has cost taxpayers, not to mention restaurant, hotel and arena workers, among others.

What makes it worse is that the operators of the darkened arenas continue to hold on to hundreds of millions of dollars in season-ticket and luxury suite payments as well as revenue from arena naming rights.

What would authorities do if any other business pocketed consumers' money for a product it never delivered?

Two weeks ago, in a guest column in the Sunday Eagle-Tribune, Hall-of-Famer Bobby Orr spoke out about the damage done by "the so-called leaders who disrespect the game and the people in it," as he put it. Major media outlets across North America carried stories on the stand taken by Orr, who is still one of sport's most revered contributors on and off the ice.

Ordinary fans applauded, but the NHL and the NHL Players Association displayed their lack of respect for the game and the people in it by studiously refusing to comment.

The NHL let more than two years slip away without resolving its problems and its inaction now threatens to cancel a second season of hockey.

Leaders of Major League Baseball and the National Football League have already been called to account in Washington over the issue of steroids.

It's time for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, players association executive director Bob Goodenow, club owners and players to be held accountable by elected leaders in the United States and Canada for their own betrayal of the public trust.

Russ Conway is Associate Editor of The Eagle-Tribune. Contact him by calling him at (978) 946-2000 or mailing him at 100 Turnpike St., North Andover, MA 01845.


No guarantee of life after lockout for NHL/Fan base meltdown threatens league's future

By Russ Conway
Associate Editor

Roger Farina fell in love with hockey and the New York Islanders when he was a kid and the Islanders were winning four straight Stanley Cup championships, from 1980 to 1983.

When he became a dad, he named his three girls for his favorite Islander players, Bob Nystrom, Clark Gillies and Denis Potvin.

Abigale Nystrom Farina is 5, Allyson Gillies Farina, 3, and Amelia Potvin Farina, 1.

Abigale Nystrom was baptized with water her father collected years earlier by melting ice chips from the playing surface at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders' home. Farina had kept the jar of water with him as he joined the Army and was sent overseas before settling down with his wife Jennifer, a Canadian.

That's how big a hockey fan Farina is.

But the National Hockey League's 2003 "Fan of The Year" is furious at the lockout that cancelled the 2004-2005 hockey season. He predicts the NHL will face its own lockout by fans if and when play resumes.

"What do they think? They're going to get away with this?" said Farina, a 37-year-old chief warrant officer stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., after a year in Iraq.

"They've insulted every NHL fan that ever was. I take it personal," he said. "They think the NHL's going to survive because the fans will just show up. I've got my doubts."

And if a fan like Farina has his doubts, hockey is in big trouble.

Die-hards like Farina are angry, but at least they care. Legions of fans tuned out when the lockout began, and hockey will have to regain their attention before it can hope to win back their loyalty.

Even the Boston Bruins, one of the NHL's original six teams, is in a precarious position.

A healthy season-ticket base of about 14,800 in the late 1990s, including luxury suite and premium seats, is now under 5,000.

"I know we've taken a hit," admitted Bruins president Harry Sinden, though he wouldn't confirm the figure. "Last year was the first year we didn't take in enough to cover the losses."

Player costs for the Bruins during the 2003-04 season were a club record $45 million, the 12th highest payroll in the 30-team NHL. Average home attendance per game actually increased over the previous season, to 15,377, with 13 sellouts including playoffs.

But the longer the shutdown lasts, the harder it will be to bring back the fans.

"The game is going to be severely damaged," Sinden said. "We've got to get going. We don't have all summer."

Changes in store

Can the sport rise from the ashes and regain major league status after shutting out fans for an entire season?

The players association and the league are clearly worried.

"Obviously we're in very serious and very uncharted territory," said NHL Players Association senior director Ted Saskin. "The damage to the game can't be underestimated. ...

"How different markets are able to respond and rebuild coming out of this," said Saskin, "will vary."

The league already plans a "Fan Appreciation" promotional blitz once play resumes, including reduced ticket prices, concession discounts, prize giveaways and public appearances by celebrity hockey fans.

Newly designed player uniforms are planned, and the league will unveil a new logo featuring the Stanley Cup in place of the old orange and black shield.

When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the lockout last Sept. 15, the league claimed to be doing it for the fans, who paid $43.57 per ticket on average during the 2003-2004 NHL season.

"We're going to make it up to them over the long term," NHL vice president and chief legal counsel Bill Daly told The Eagle-Tribune. "The bottom line is we're doing this for the game and for the fans, ultimately, more than any other constituency. When we get our expenses under control, the pressure to continually raise ticket prices to try to make revenues meet the expenses will certainly correct itself."

Hockey Hall-of-Famer Brad Park said it will take more than discounts and promotions to revive professional hockey.

."They can have all the gimmicks they want, but it's the product that's going to decide what happens," he said. "They've got huge problems and a lot of making-up to do with the fans. It will recover, but not for years."

The answer, Park said, is a more open, physical brand of hockey that encourages creativity and offense — unlike today's defensive-minded style.

"Players today have no concept of the history of the game and how it got to where it is," he said. "They don't know the game from 20-30 years ago. That's what made the game. You couldn't get a ticket back then. But they let it slide and the management people are too afraid of making a mistake.

"After all this, they've got to find a way to turn the fans on with action."

Rule changes to produce more offense are already being discussed by the NHL and players. A reduction in the size of goaltending equipment already has been recommended for final approval.

CEO's advice: Innovate

Jack Welch, the retired 20-year chief executive officer of General Electric and a hockey fan who grew up in Salem, Mass., does not believe the NHL is past the point of no return.

"There are just too many die-hard fans," he said. "But the league and players are going to have to unite to get it up and running again."

Like Park, Welch thinks the game itself needs to change.

"It doesn't have the same cachet," he said. "It sort of dwindled off in the last 10 years. Before any of this labor issue came up, there were some things lacking."

One problem is the defensive style of play that has turned hockey into soccer on ice. Expansion is another.

"There's something about an old-timer watching San Jose play Florida that doesn't quite match up to watching Toronto play the Bruins," Welch said.

"They've got to try new things, keep innovating until you capture it."

Downsizing is one Welch suggestion.

"Cut back on the present 30 teams," he said. "Go to 24, max, maybe even 16. You'd get better players, better quality. It's a tough decision but it would produce better hockey."

Two former players union leaders who saw shutdowns in their sports also believe the NHL will recover, given time and a strong product.

Marvin Miller, retired executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, said it will take longer for hockey to come back than it did for baseball after the 232-day strike that killed the 1994 World Series.

"It's got some problems that baseball doesn't have," Miller said. "It's been showing declining public interest in the sport, unlike baseball.

"They've got to sell their product all over again, and the owners should have thought about that before locking out the players, and the fans the sport had, for a full season. ...

"The owners might find themselves with franchises worth far less than when this started. They better be on the same page with the players whenever they come back."

Professional basketball and football also bounced back after shutdowns.

The National Basketball Association lost 428 games in a 191-day lockout during the 1997-98 season. Strikes cost the National Football League half the season in 1982 and a week's worth of games in 1987.

"Can the NHL come back? It will take a long time, but the answer is yes," said Ed Garvey, NFL Players Association executive director from 1971 to 1982.

To win back wary fans, the NHL and the players association must "do something sensible" that guarantees there won't be another work stoppage anytime soon, Garvey said.

It must also offer a better product.

"There better be a good reason to fall in love again," Garvey said, "particularly in Boston with the Red Sox and the Patriots riding high."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

THE SMOKING PUCK: Around The World in Hazy Daze

aka Always Wear a Cup When Calling Sports Radio

Team Canada is in line to win the World this year. Boston Bruins captain Joe Thornton is centering Philadelphia Flyers Simon Gagne and Columbus Blue Jackets Rick Nash for Team Canada at the 2005 World Ice Hockey Championship in Austria. This line is what makes hockey something to wake up and smell the ice over. Nash is 20 years old, Thornton is 26 and Gagne is 25. They are the future of the NHL’s Big Talent. Rick Nash tied for top goalscoring honors with the Calgary Flames Jarome Igilna and Atlanta Thrashers Ilya Kovalchuk with 41 goals in the 2003-4 regular season. Big Joe scored two goals and had two assists against a 8-0 drubbing of Slovenia in the preliminary round of the IIHF World Championship of Hockey. Rick Nash scored two goals and Thornton the other in the 3-1 prelim round win over Team USA Thursday, May 5. Team Canada also sports goalie Martin Brodeur (NJ), Eddie "JovoCop" Jovonanski (VAN) on defense and Dany Heatley (ATL) at wing as well. It’s like a supergroup akin to Asia and Damn Yankees, I tell ya. These boys are a volunteer army. Read it here: they are not getting paid. Airfare, hotels and a food per diem is given by Hockey Canada, the organization that picks the team. They are also insured, by the way. This about the Game. The One Million Swiss Francs ($1.054 Mil Canadian Dollars) are given to the Gold Medal winner will also be given back to Hockey Canada by the players for their operating costs if the Team Canada wins. And we in the US complain argue about Social Security…but I digress.

Speaking of the future of NHL Hockey…Yan Statsny, the son of Quebec Nordiques legend Peter Statsny is playing for Team USA, scored a goal against Slovenia and is a future Boston Bruin (2003 first round draft pick). He might not have to toil in the Farm System when he makes it to the "Bigs". Ear to the Rail says he’s good, real good. Hopefully he’ll be in Black & Gold next time the Bruins skate. Speaking of the Black & Gold, because there is still Black & Gold to speak of, the Providence Bruins advanced to the Second Round of the AHL Playoffs.

The "Baby B’s" are playing the Lowell LockMonsters in the Second Round. On a side note: the Penguins and Flyers farm teams are facing one another in the Second Round. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Philadelphia Phantoms are both in Pennsylvania as are their NHL parent clubs and happen to be natural State rivals. Actually, Pennsylvania is a Commonwealth as Massachusetts is, not a mere "State". The major Cup in North American Pro Hockey this year is the AHL’s Calder Cup. I usually pay slight attention to the AHL’s Playoffs but this year, it gets my complete attention. If it didn’t matter then why is NESN’s sole coverage of AHL Hockey happen to be on their SportsDesk dasher? It’s been there all season long and for years now, chief. Chew on that on for a spell.

Bob Lobel: The Ernest Hemmingway of the Boston Sports Illuminati. Drunken pontificator and just a Mean and Bad On-Air Personality.

If the World Championships were televised in the US, I’d be glued to the Eijit Box for any game. Heck, I even watched the first round of the 2004 World Cup of Hockey back last September (I actually found a temporary job during the second round grabbing my attention and no TiVO). That Gin Blossom Bob Lobel actually made fun of me when I called into an FM Sports show on one boring, layoff day. It was the free Verizon Number that got me dialing I assure you. All for asking him if people cared that it could be the only Pro level hockey in an NHL Lockouted Season; Do you think anyone cares about the World Cup of Hockey. I had just watched Germany face off against Sweden. He swore that Football and Baseball were the only things to orbit Planet Boston Sports. The 2004 World Cup of Hockey (won by Team Canada) was aired on the Deuce, ESPN2 and was brushed off topically by this cornerstone of Boston Sports Entertainment. Sure Bob Lobel can scoff hockey. Listen: I remember one night working at Cheers, the Bull & Finch Pub on Beacon Street in Town. Once a year the "Eddie LeBec" Cup is given. For those who didn’t watch the TV Show Cheers, Eddie LeBec was Carla’s late husband who was a Bruins goalie so the real-life Cheers gang set up an annual award and charity event with the LeBec Cup (an actual bronzed athletic protection device on a trophy) going to a deserving Bruin. That year it was Dave Poulin, #19 and the only Bruin to wear the actual Captain’s "C" while Ray was injured for a few weeks one season. Mr. Lobel was there and a camera was too for a spell. I recall not only did I remember seeing him there, drunk as a frat boy at the punch bowl but also because I was looking for myself in the background later that night on News 4 Sports. Lobel did his segment on the Cup but I didn’t notice until then that the rosy complexion he always seems to be beaming when on air that night came from the Bull & Finch’s open bar. I do have to hand it to him though, to keep it together on a live broadcast when you’re a rummy…kudos to that only. Sidenote: at the Bull & Finch/Cheers bar back in the day, we could sell our staff shirts off our backs for literally $200 a whack, dirty & stinky to boot. Once I traded mine with an Eastern European guy for his Moscow Dynamo Hockey Club jersey. The player was #9, Andrei Lomakin who was in the NHL for only a few seasons but damn if that jersey was the Cat’s Ass.


Rev. Sully
Come to Channel Ocho
We could certainly debate whether the gift horse saying is intended to remind one to be gracious to a gift giver, but I think we can agree that the point is that you ought not be overly critical of something that's given to you.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

My buddy Gary and I went to Rockport after work last night so we could get a dive in while the parking was free and the tide was high. To this day I don't understand the popular option, which is to get up at the crack of dawn on a saturday and drive up there for an 8am dive without regard for the tide, ocean conditions, or availability of parking. I tried that, but it didn't take many bleary-eyed mornings looking for a legal parking spot, then dropping my gear off with a buddy at the site, parking the car, walking back, waiting while he parked his car, then gearing up, and waddling across 100 meters of beach wearing 100 lbs of gear so we could dodge a clown show of other divers stirring up the bottom until no one can see more than 5 feet in front of them.

Give me seclusion and ease any day.

As I was saying, Gary and I pulled up to the ramp at the top of Old Garden Beach and took full advantage of the free and legal weekday parking. We geared up out of the back of my truck in record time, quickly checked each others' hose routing, air supply, and lights, clipped off a strobe beacon to our flag bouy, and walked down the ramp into the water just as the tide was at it's peak and a beautiful sunset was painting pink across the surface of the water. It only took us several steps to reach waist deep water, where we spit-defogged our masks, popped in our primary regulators, and slipped on our fins. The latter bit is trickier than it sounds... even with only gentle waves rolling in, standing on one leg with scuba gear on in moving water is a good way to wind up under it, hence the regulators.

Once we were set to go, we took a compass bearing on the rock reef we wanted to explore, gave the descent signal, and as we exhausted the air from our bouyancy wings, we slipped below the surface and clicked on our lights. As we began to glide over the rippled sand, I noticed the first of the many creatures we were to encounter. There was a small, eel-like irridescent fish about an inch long who was attracted to my light. I think it was a very young rock gunnel, but in any case I watched it writhe and shimmer in the light for a minute or so before moving on and noticing that there were dozens and dozens of them in the area.

We proceeded toward the rocks, and after passing scores of thumb-sized sand shrimp, several rock crabs, and a large flounder, we made it to the reef and the swaying seaweeds and grasses that covered them. Among the rocks, we saw some haddock protecting a clutch of young fry from some interested lobsters, and as we were turning away, I noticed a strange bulge on a long leaf of kelp. Further examination revealed it to be an Atlantic Spiny Lumpsucker, which are pretty uncommon, and which therefore gave me a pang of regret at not having brought my camera. Still, someone else has photographed one, and I submit it here for your appreciation:

That sighting was the highlight of the dive, but as we returned to shore, I turned my light off, and was treated to a bloom of bioluminescent photoplankton... in other words, whenever I moved, hundreds of tiny microorganisms would light up in my wake like fireworks.

All in all, it was a very nice dive despite the still-cold water temperatures, and a lovely way to spend an evening. As always, I recommend it to you all with great enthusiasm.
Gift Horses Are Not For Inspecting

Well, I kinda thought "Looking A Gift Horse In The Mouth" was a cliche to state...just accept your gift graciously. Don't insult the giver by inspecting it in front of you. It would be best to do it at home later. By then you've already brought it home and it's your problem if it's got bad teeth.

It also could be a clever ruse by Greeks to cover their traps. I mean if some poor Trojan were to have looked that gift horse in the mouth, there wouldn't have been a Rome. But I'm totally making this one up though...^_~
Come and see The Barneseses.

James, Katia and Laura Barnes at home. ^_^

Hit the link for the picture. The Image was too big for the page justification. Sorry! (eo's 5/10/05)
Bah HUMBUG! Here I was having a completely irrational rant and the voice of reason and sound mind brings home the bacon... (what took you so long Preacher?!?)

I too saw Hitchhiker's guide. I think the last time I read the book I was still living in the States therefore my recollection of the story was a bit blurry. As a result I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I was a littel upset however that they didn't represent Marvin a little better. I remeber lughing my arse off at some of the things he came out with in the book and here he was, well, just dull and depressed. The effects were good and a little cheesy which I think will give it a slightly longer shelf time than most films. Four and a half fish out of five.

Monday, May 02, 2005

From the Website of Warren Ellis:

Know that Warren is currently on this side of the Pond at a huge Comicon in Toronto, ONT, Canada.

Smoke, Sun, Comics
Filed under: admin— warrenellis @ 12:13 am

Kensington Market, Toronto: in the back of a dope cafe, kids sit around,
smoke up and draw comics in the sunshine. This guy drew all the panel
shapes for an eight-page comic before putting down a single interior line.
In my pocket is the small jade buddha pendant he gave me for my daughter.
I didn’t tell him what I do for a living.

My Signing Technique Is Unstoppable
Filed under: admin— warrenellis @ 4:20 pm

can’t sleep fans will eat me
^_~ WAH!!!

Here's a stolen image from March 18, 2005...

Deedee & I at the Empire State Building. You wouldn't believe how pushy those cats were about trying to get you to take the Guided Audio Tour with IMAX movie and buy the picture. Everyone "had" to get their picture taken. I told Deedee that it was the Department of Homeland Security's idea. I proudly wore my Red Sox winter hat ALL DAY LONG in NYC. Had a few beer at CBGB's too at 11:30AM when we got off the $15 Fung Wah Bus, the Chinatown to Chinatown Express.

What do Jedi eat for break'est? Frosted Flakes with Bananas of course!

The Jedi Sabrespoon! Of course it's spelled "Saberspoon" but I'm a traditionalist. Look...a Qui-Gonn Jinn green blade. Just what I wanted!
What if the bird was one you wanted to eat? Say you were out hunting pheasant (or moa, kakapo, chickens, or whatever bird it is you Kiwis hunt)... if you see two pheasants in a bush, that's great, but it ain't worth a damn to you if you don't get your hands on 'em. Ergo, better to have one bird you can keep, than to have a story about there being lots of birds but have none, even if seeing lots of birds is a good thing.

Maybe the "gift horse" thing is a reference to hoof&mouth disease or something like that. If looking in the horse's mouth is a way to check that it's healthy (as you presumably would want to before buying one), then the saying would mean that it doesn't matter if it's healthy or not... be grateful you have a free horse. If it works for three days, gives you a ride into town, and keels over the next morning, so what... it's a free horse. You're lucky you got three days work and a ride out of it.

I saw the Hitchhiker's Guide movie yesterday. It had it's moments, but was a great departure from the books in several respects. Not what I was hoping for, but still worlds better than the BBC version.

The display of Ralph Lauren's car collection at the MFA is really cool though... I recommend it.