Archive for August, 2008

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Close.

August 16, 2008

– Normally, close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and nuclear war. But I guess we can add Olympic swimming to the list. Check out this photo essay of the ending half meter of last night’s 100m fly.

– And Canada finally won their first medals of the Beijing games. Within an hour, they went from having 0 medals to having one of each color. Oh, Canada, you did good!

– And the gold medal for worst translation ever, goes to…. 🙂

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Here, Goosie, Goose, Goose

August 14, 2008

From this morning’s edition of Mary Kunz Goldman’s Buzz column

While Buzz was scouring sales, teams were scavenging Allentown in the second Buffalo Scavenger Hunt. Participants had to find things –a Buddha statue, a Gusto, a Buffalo Sabre, etc. (Oh, wait, the Sabre was last time. Someone brought back Paul Gaustad.)

Did someone just go up to Goose and say “Hi. I need you for a scavenger hunt. Come with me?” If so, that’s pretty awesome.

I like hearing about how these guys get involved – however unintentionally – in the Buffalo community.

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The Olympic Commercial Extravaganza

August 13, 2008

In addition to the athletic performances going on at the Beijing Olympics, the business performances are gaining a fair amount of leverage. Not only is there an increased commercial presence on the broadcasts, but there’s also quite a significant commercial presence on the Olympic Green in Beijing. Many companies have set up pavilions in the area surrounding the main Olympic venues, but are kvetching that there’s significantly less foot traffic than was promised by organizers. (Rumor has it that the security is extra stringent, leading to less people being allowed in to mingle in the pavilions and shops.) But I don’t want to write about that part, I want to write about the commercials that we see during broadcasts.

In my opinion, some of the ads that have been created for the Games are outstanding. I absolutely love this Coke commercial.

The little birds are adorable, and really does a good job of highlighting the unique architechture of the main Olympic stadium.

I’m normally not a basketball fan, but there’s something about the juxtaposition of the current USA men’s basketball team and Marvin Gaye’s national anthem that really makes this commercial. This video is the long form version of the current :30 ad. I give mad props to the agency that created the Nike commercial, as its tough enough to create (and get approval on) a :30 spot, let alone a 2:30 extended version.

I hadn’t seen this ad until I tripped over it on YouTube, but Michael Phelps + his dog is always good (even if the subject matter is a little dry). I also love the name Herman for Phelps bulldog. That’s such a great name for a dog. (Me, when I get a dog, I’m naming him Edgar.)

And Phelps is not a half bad actor, either.

Moving on, and this is not related to either the Olympics, commercials or Michael Phelps, but has anyone else noticed that Tony Reali on PTI has bulked up? I noticed yesterday that his biceps were pretty huge, and then today, the t-shirt he was wearing really showed off the pecs (though he does need to be careful to not cross the border from pecs to moobs). Its a little jarring, since Reali used to be kind of scrawny.

That concludes another day of non-hockey related content here at Shots off the Crossbar.

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Observations from a Couch Potato

August 11, 2008

Or, what I’ve taken away from this weekend’s Olympic footage.

1. There is no way in god’s green earth that all of the members of the Chinese women’s gymnastics team are all over the required age of 16. They could all pass for 14, but not 16. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it, since China is a totalitarian state and controls the paperwork.

2. I thought Martha Karolyi did an excellent job of keeping her gymnasts calm. Heading into a meet where all four scores need to count due to injuries to two gymnasts put a heck of a lot of pressure on these girls. Sure, there were stumbles and falls and steps out of bounds, but it could have been a lot worse.

3. Dressage. Can someone explain this to me?

4. The USA / China men’s basketball game was really entertaining to watch, and this is coming from me, someone who would rather watch paint dry than watch NBA basketball. The Chinese came out a lot harder than the Americans expected and it made for a great quarter and a half. Of course, the Chinese tired and the American depth overwhelmed them. I did like hearing the announcers say that the building was rocking during the singing of the Chinese national anthem before the game.

5. After seeing two Michael Phelps medal ceremonies, I’m really glad that the recording of the US Anthem is one of the better ones out there. Sometimes, the recording is one of the wimpier ones. I like the versions where you hear the drums and cymbals crashing for “the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air” portion, as well as at the finale.

6. More men’s swimming please. That is all.

7. I’m really happy that Phelps quest to unseat Mark Spitz is still on track. That relay last night was unreal to watch. Someone should’ve told the French that trash talking karma is a bitch.

8. POTUS looked like he was having a really good time at the different events he attended. Whether it was swimming, basketball or beach volleyball, he looked like an overgrown kid having a blast. I realize that the Olympics were a bit of an escape from what he’s dealing with in the real world, but you don’t often see that sheer joy on the face of a POTUS.

9. Bob Costas and Cris Collinsworth must think they’re playing Ha-Has. Their commentary is killing me.

10. I adore the Peyton and Eli Manning Sunday Night Football commercials.

11. The NBC Olympics website is amazing. They’re doing a really good job of keeping it updated with scores and results, but also making sure that video is posted of all the important events. Its good for those of us who fall asleep easily and miss things…not that that happened Saturday night or anything.

12. If TWC would add CBC HD to their channel lineup, my Olympic viewing experience would be complete. Right now, there are brief moments where the CBC signal looks like its being transmitted from Beijing with some twine, two tin cans and a paperclip.

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Its a Fair Day

August 9, 2008

I went to the Erie County Fair today. I hit the fairgrounds at about 12:30, and it was a beautiful sunshine-y day. Since it was lunchtime, I headed over to the BW Barbeque building and had a pulled pork sandwich. The pulled pork was delicious. It wasn’t too hot, and was seasoned with a smoky yet sweet sauce. The pork also wasn’t fatty, which I find happens too often with pulled pork.

After lunch, I headed over to the animal barns. I love wandering through the animal barns. Being a city girl, I don’t get to see farm animals all that often (duh), so I do spend a fair amount of time at the animal areas. There’s also the not so subtle reminder that some of these animals will be dinner for someone at the end of the fair, as all the kids who show animals at the fair have signs hanging above their animal pens, thanking Mr & Mrs Whomever for buying their market animal last year.

One of my favorite barns at the fair is the Mooternity Ward. This barn contains expectant mother cows (and a pig or two). It allows mother and baby cows to be held in one location and also allows fair goers the potential opportunity to see a calf being born. However, I didn’t need to see the cow ultrasound demonstration. I’ve seen that already on Dirty Jobs. And this guy doing the demostration was nowhere near as funny as Mike Rowe.

But anyway…

This little guy was born yesterday (August 8) and weighed a hefty 72 pounds. He’s a little bashful, as you can tell he’s hiding a little bit in the hay.

After the Mooternity Ward, I spent some time watching the racing pigs and the banana jockeys. The racing pigs are totally corny, and I’m sure that its not a PETA approved activity, but the pigs don’t seem to have a problem with it. The adults in the audience seem to have more fun with it than the kids do. The banana jockeys, on the other hand, disturbed me quite a bit. Imagine capuchin monkeys riding around a small little “race track” on the back of dogs. Yeah, its wrong on so many levels. The poor dogs just wanted to be petted by the announcer or the kids in the crowd. I don’t think this should return next year.

After the piggy and monkey racing, I headed over to the sheep and goat area. This was the first sheep (lamb?) I saw when I entered the barn. Its almost like he knew he was going to be photographed, as he was posing and “smiling” before I even got the camera shutter opened.

Isn’t he a cutie?

The sheep, lambs and goats were quite the noisy little buggers, as it was lunch time for them. One sheep, already having cleared out his food dish, had discovered that his pen abutted the pen where his owners were storing his food. He somehow managed to wedge himself in between the bars of the pen, and was snout first in the bag of sheep kibble. I wish that picture would’ve come out, as it was quite funny.

Next up was the rabbit and poultry area. The rabbits are at one end of the building, and the poultry at the other. The rabbits are calm and peaceful, and oh-so-disapproving.

See, he’s disapproving my taking his photo.

I’m not a fan of the poultry area. Between the ducks, chickens, roosters and turkeys, its loud as hell and there’s always some child freaking out.

At this point, I started realizing that I had a wicked blister forming on my foot. So I did the logical thing, and got some ice cream and sat down for awhile. (It was black raspberry soft serve, if anyone cares.)

Since I was done with the animals, I headed over towards the midway and building area. The Creative Arts Building is always great to walk through, as its a mix of photography, handmade crafts and tablescapes. Yes, our county fair gives awards for tablescapes. Yes, they are definitely more restrained than the ones Sandra Lee creates. The Grange building showcases the best fruits and vegetables from local farmers. This year, the Grange also featured a butter sculpture of Obama and McCain.

I’m not sure what the object in butter McCain’s one hand is. A butter knife? Does butter Obama need to watch his back?

The one building I wish I would have been able to spend more time in was the Historical Building. This building usually contains life sized dioramas assembled by each local community’s historical society. This year, the Buffalo News helped bring in an exhibit featuring the Top 40 News Headlines of Our Time. Each event had one to three newspapers from around the USA showcasing how that particular newspaper covered the event in question. The exhibit did a really good job of pulling newspapers from the city where the event happened: the Dallas Morning News for JFK’s assassination, the New Orleans Times Picayune for Katrina, the New York Times for 9/11, and so on. There were also side exhibits on the history of newspaper printing, as well as some of The Buffalo News’ most memorable editions. Since the building was crowded, I could only spend 10 minutes looking around. I could’ve easily spent an hour, but then again, I’m a media and history geek.

The fair is always one of the must-do activities on my summer to-do list. And monkey jockeys aside, it didn’t disappoint.

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What He Did on His Summer Vacation

August 7, 2008

– I think Drew Stafford is going to have the best entry in the Sabres “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” contest. According to the Sabres website, Stafford hitched along for a couple of tour stops with the Buffalo band Every Time I Die. It honestly sounds like he had a blast.

– I’m excited that the Olympics are starting tomorrow. For the next two weeks, I turn into a total Olympic geek. I’ll be trying not to break my remote flipping between the 18 NBC channels and CBC to find the best coverage. CBC usually scoops the US channels by about an hour when it comes to showing events. It will be interesting to see if this is still true.

– I can’t imagine the Sabres posting anything like this for one of their players birthdays.

до свидания, Mike Ryan. Have a nice journey. Time to move the “Mike Ryan” tag to the “Former Sabres” category.

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5 Ways I’d Change the NHL

August 6, 2008

Puck Daddy is running a series during August called “5 Ways I’d Change the NHL.” While I’m not one of the big boys he’s asked for comments, what is the point of having your own blog if you can’t throw in your own two cents? So, here is my list of 5 Ways I’d Change the NHL.

1. Extend regular season overtime to at least 10 minutes. This extention would allow play to fully develop and allow more chances to be taken by the players. Right now, everyone plays tentative, hanging on for that five minutes so that the game can be decided in a shootout. We know that playoff overtime hockey is some of the best out there. There’s no reason that regular season overtime shouldn’t be as well.

2. Get rid of the shootout. Goalies are naturally jumpy enough without having to have the added pressure of saving three consecutive breakaways put on them. If the game is tied after overtime, the game is tied. No one will go home unhappy because the game was tied.

3. Don’t award a point for tying a game after regulation. While these points can help a team in the playoff chase, more often then not, its a case of “only a stinkin point. Yay!.” The fans start getting down on the players, as the fans sense that they players are playing towards getting to the end of regulation tied in order to get that consolation point. It doesn’t make for good hockey.

4. Stop trying to force hockey into markets where it’s not successful. How many times have we seen empty seats in Florida and Tampa? I know that Tampa has won a Cup during its short history*, but more often than not, it seems like the majority of fans at any game in the Sunshine State are from the opposing team. That’s completely off-the-wall, and doesn’t bode well for the long-term survival of the franchise. ( Yes, I know Tampa is trying to turn things around this year with the new owners, new players and new mess of crazy, but this idea is based on past history with this franchise)

* Edited to remove earlier blunder on Florida winning a Cup. I’ll just be over here ducking from all the rats being thrown at me. 🙂

5. Promote more players than just the “stars” on each team. As anyone who’s watched the NHL knows, most hockey players have personality in spades. Yet the media campaigns continuously revolve around the same five or six guys. Open up the promotion so that more players are featured. This doesn’t necessarily have to be on a national level, as each team can do it. If commercials don’t work, then open up the merchandising options. Everyone in Buffalo has Ryan Miller gear. Puckbunnies corner the market on Pominville and Roy gear. Occasionally, you’ll see a Hecht or Vanek shirt. Right now, merchandising for the Sabres covers 3/4 of the alleged and highly promoted core of the team. If you’re going to include guys like Gaustad, Stafford and Paille in your core, then use them in your merchandising and promotion!