Archive for August, 2008

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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!

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Four Things

August 4, 2008

– Someone should tell Kevin Allen of the USA Today that Jason Pominville is not an unrestricted free agent at the end of this coming season. I understand that hockey is the redheaded stepchild of the US sports environment, but a little fact checking goes a long way.

– I’m glad to see Lindy get some respect from Terry Frei at ESPN. Frei ranks the current NHL coaches, and places Lindy among the league’s elite. Ruff guided the team through no goal, making the playoffs, missing the playoffs, two seasons of losing in the ECF and the most recent free agent debacle. He’s always ready with a genuine comment for the media, even when you can clearly tell that he’d rather tell them to go puck themselves. He’s also proven adept at guiding young players with the transition from the AHL to the NHL, as proven by how the Rochester kids have stepped right into the Sabres system with few hiccups.

– I was shocked to hear this morning that Skip Carey died. I learned so much about the Braves through watching his telecasts on TBS. Some of the more longtime Braves – Smoltz, Glavine and Jones, sounded really shaken up in their interviews. It sounds like Carey, like the Sabres RJ, wasn’t just a play-by-play man for the club, but also a friend.

– How awesome was it to see Luke Russert as the Special Guest Stat Boy on PTI last week?

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Weekend Wrap Up

August 3, 2008

– I was in Pittsburgh this past weekend, and on the way back home, drove past a campground hosting a Middle Ages reenactment. There were tents as far as the eye could see. I’ve heard of war reenactments, but never realized that there was a clamor to reenact the Middle Ages.

– The bat made another appearance last night. I fell asleep on the sofa watching TV, only to be woken up by my mother screaming that there was a bat in the house. I do the only common sense thing…take the phone and run out the front door. Meanwhile, my father is trying to shoo the bat out of the house with a pillow, and is somewhat successful. This morning, my grandfather wanted to know why my father didn’t take my hockey stick and make like Jim Lorentz, but my father was afraid that the stick would go through the TV set or knock over a lamp (and besides, who wants to clean up bat guts?). Needless to say, we will be calling a trained extermination professional on Monday to look over the attic to make sure that there’s no more entry points for our batty friends.

– Color me shocked that Sid likes Jack and Crown. I guess I keep forgetting that he’s an adult in Canada (and soon to be one in the US), and not a wee innocent lad as the media would lead us to believe

– I’ve gotten a disturbingly high number of clicks today from people looking for Ryan Miller information. I’m sorry to tell all of you searchers that I know nothing about the guy other than whats in the media, and my own observations. On the other hand, my inner paranoia is sinking in, that someone who’s close with him is trolling WordPress reading what’s been written about him.

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More Reasons to Love Hockey

August 2, 2008

#5 – Game Day Skates.

When I take a day off in the winter, and if it happens to fall on a Sabres game day, I try to head down to the arena and watch the game day morning skate, which is open to the public. I like that I get to see more of the specialized drills than those used during a pre-game skate.You can kind of get a feel for what the coaching staff feels the team’s weakness is that day, whether its the power play, defense or the goaltending. You can also see which players take practice seriously, and which ones goof off.

The last morning skate I went to featured the power play trying to revitalize itself, a rousing pep-talk delivered by Lindy (sadly at the other end of the arena from where I was sitting, so I couldn’t hear what he was saying but he was gesticulating furiously) and Tim Connolly trying to shoot a puck through the photographers hole in the glass.

I like that the team opens these skates to the public. Its even better when there’s a few little kids there with their parents. They’re so excited about seeing these players up close. Its really adorable. (An entire lower bowl worth of parents and children would make me poke my ears out with something sharp.)