My wife is a huge Olympics nut, and I admit they are enticing and exciting viewing, filling this humble country with a minor dosage of patriotic fervor, only to be doused by underwhelming performances. We care, but really, not all that much. We don’t mind placing 6th, if at all, and we’re ecstatic over bronze… “we made the podium”, but in the context of our country and our pride, we know we’re good at hockey, and if we’re decent at anything else that’s just gravy. Even having some American gold medalist is half-Canadian because his mother was born in the Maritimes is a coup for us. We take what we can get. But I’m not angry about our placings. We’re a Winter Olympics country. In the Summer Games we’re good at rowing and, every so often, swimming and that’s about it. Doesn’t matter all that much. Americans can win all the Gold medals they want, we have universal health care (and not George Bush). Chinese can win half of everything, that’s all right, we have a free press.
What makes me angry, though, is the coverage, the hideous, atrocious coverage. Without having a digital cable or satellite package, we get three (sometimes four) channels of Olympics coverage in CBC, CBC Quebec, NBC and TSN. TSN is an affiliated partner of CBC so they’re getting second string coverage, usually long-form events like softball, basketball or soccer (football), and you’re more likely to see a NASCAR race as you’ll see Olympics coverage. I’m not sure what the deal was between CBC and TSN but it’s very limiting from a viewer perspective. NBC, meanwhile, is covering the games as a series of human interest stories and not actual sporting competition. Everything has to be drama, drama, drama. NBC, when they’re not airing commercials, are airing some 3-5 minute long puff piece about some French swimmer’s scandal, or the Dream Team of yore, or Mark Spitz’s 7-medal record (again and again and again), not to mention the constant recapping of past glories from not just previous Olympics but two days ago. They spend more time documenting a gold medal win after the fact than actually covering the win at the time.
Alternating between CBC and CBC-Quebec is the preferable way to watch the sports, but they’re equally infuriating because they air so many commercials. I’d say 40% of broadcast time is commercials. The CBC is doing this thing where they will focus on one particular discipline (swimming or gymnastics) and filling their time covering that sport. They’re making very little effort to cover the other sports going on at that time or earlier in the day. WIth 10 - 20 minutes between swim races, you’d think they could cut to some other event, but no, we get about 8 minutes of commercials and 11 minutes of analysis of what we just saw or what’s coming up and maybe a minute of updates from the studio. It’s pathetic.
CBC is pushing their on-line broadband coverage, however their connections are overloaded and therefore sketchy and watching in a tiny window on the computer delivers none of the comforts of the living room, nor the social atmosphere of collecting together to watch the games.
I’m quite fed up with how the coverage of the Games has been progressing. I imagine outside of prime time (while at work or sleeping) coverage is a lot more focussed and fulfilling but, well, I’m a 9 to 5er now and don’t have the luxury of watching til the wee hours of the morn or during the day.
Go Canada? Enh, whatever. I almost can’t be bothered.
The break was unintentional, but needed.
I got my Comics Inventory completed and wow, I gots a lotta comics. And I gots a lotta comics for sale. Anyone looking for “The Complete Starman Experience” (All Issue # 0 through 80 + # 1,000,000 + Batman/Starman/Hellboy #1 & 2 + 80-Page Giant #1 + Secret Files and Origins #1 + The Shade # 1 - 4 + The Mist (Girlfrenzy) #1)? You won’t get all this in trade, nor the Essential editions, nor the awesome lettercolumns where writer James Robinson barters with fans for ViewMaster slides.)?
I also have “The DC Universe Experience” (featuring most of the major epic crossovers from the past 15 years, including Underworld Unleashed + Final Night + DC 1,000,000 + Genesis + Day of Judgement + Infinite Crisis + DC versus Marvel + Zero Hour and more).
Or how about 100 different, random issue #1s from the past 20 years for under $100?
Almost all books are NM (no guarantees though… for these bargain-basement prices who’s quibbling). Got a lot more to sell and have to figure out a good place to do so (Ebay? Craigslist?).
I actually finished my little Grant Morrison retrospective last week but haven’t yet attached any images to it… the scanner is pfutzy and I don’t like using it much.
Upcoming reviews: Prince Caspian (a highly enjoyable movie for the non-Narnia-purists… as I’ve learned, if you’ve written essays about the series, you probably won’t like it); the Narnia BBC series (and I thought the battle at the end of the Hollywood version “the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” was lame, ouch), Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, the John Cusack trilogy, the book (!) In Defense of Food, and much more.
Since Monday is supposed to be TV day (and I missed blogging it because I was eating copious amounts of Chinese-Canadian food, drinking wine and subsequently passing out) Ima just do a quick hockey write up (and also briefly mention that I caught an episode of the BBC mini-series Jeckyll and it was fun).
v. — Who has the advantage? Well, both teams have won 12 games and Pittsburg’s only lost 2 in their path to the Stanley Cup finals (although it’s hard to say if their competition have been that easy to roll over or the Pens are just that good) while Detroit has let four games slip (although only two with Osgoode in the net). On a skill level, they’re two different teams… Pittsburgh is high-energy, rough and tumble and very capable on both sides of the rink. Detroit on the other hand is disciplined, and the best defensive team in the league bar none, and their young boys (Datsyuk and Zetterberg) are as easily maneuverable as the Pens’ star talent (Crosby and Malkin). MA Fleury had to put up with Sean Avery (and even Brendan Shannehan) so he’ll be able to handle Detroit’s thumpers not with ease, but with confidence at least. It’s going to be one (well, at least four) enjoyable match-up(s), and a Stanley Cup Final I can get behind (not like Ottawa/Anaheim last year, eugh). I think Detroit’s discipline gives them the edge in six. Pittsburgh hasn’t had a challenge like this yet but I don’t want to underestimate them either.
I was, quite literally, heartbroken by the turn of events last night. I know it’s silly, and quite frankly had the Washington Capitals gone out in six games or had been completely steamrolled by the Philadelphia Flyers last night I wouldn’t be so upset… but Philly were completely outmatched in every respect except goaltending. Biron kept them in the game the entire time, but Washington was in control, dominant and should have been the victor. So what happened?
1) Biron was a spry and immovable. The Caps tossed 42 shots his way, about half of those more than quality scoring chances. Good for him, bad for the Caps.
2) The refs were flipping blind from the halfway point of the second through to the end of the third. They stopped calling anything, letting the teams play, which is great, except for the fact that the second Philly goal was scored as a result of goaltender interference (a Flyer pushed a Cap onto Huet and then pinned them both to the ice while his teammate put the puck in the net.)
3) Stupid penalties. The Caps took a host of dumb penalties, three in the first, and one in OT that cost them the game.
Ovechkin is the most incredible and enthusiastic player on the ice today, and immeasurable joy to watch. Had the Caps won, the second round would have pitted them against the other Pennsylvania team, the Penguins, putting Ovechkin against Malkin and Crosby, which is like going to see the Rolling Stones play a double bill with the Beatles in 1969. It would have been one of the best things for hockey ever! The Caps losing at home when they were the better team of the game, when they were screwed by an awkward goal, when they clearly should have won, well, it was enough to make me weep like a knee to the groin.
The playoffs are a lot dimmer as a result, and I was so upset I couldn’t even watch any of the Calgary/San Jose game 7 (although San Jose killed Calgary which didn’t make me any happier, nor did being right about both Philly and San Jose moving on).
Our match ups for round two find:
v. — I told Aden about my disheartened attitude towards the second round of the playoffs and she said “Now you can always root AGAINST Philly”, which sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, Montreal isn’t looking very good these days and another physical team like Philly is going to put the hurt on them something fierce. Biron is a wall but the finesse players on Montreal might be able to break him down. I see another game 7 for both these teams, Philly once again coming out on top. Bleh.
v. — Aden loves Detroit. She also loves Ryan Smyth and is fond of Joe Sakic. She’s excited for this series, and I have to admit, it should be fun. Detroit should take it in 6 though.
v. I would have been much happier if Pittsburgh were playing Washington, whom they would roll over, or Philly, whose ticket they’ve already punched this year, but no, it’s New York, who is on a mean tear for the cup, and I don’t think they’ll be denied. MA Fleury has no idea what he’s in for with Sean Avery thumping in front of him, and I think the young birds are going to find their experience with Ottawa leaving them ill-prepared. Rangers in 6.
v. — Now that Dallas has dunked the Ducks, I don’t really care about them anymore, nor the Sharks. But someone’s got to win. I think Dallas is making a real run for the cup and will give the Sharks everything they’ve got. It’ll be the Stars in seven, but possibly six.
Hotflash - on the food moratorium since last report, I’ve been, well, in the not-so-good. I’ve eaten a few french fries and I’ve eaten Swiss Chalet (coincidentally both of those were at the same time, although the french fries were mistakenly brought instead of my potatoes, which were later brought at no charge but… you know… temptation + weak will = fatty). I even had a burger, but it was free, so does that count? I’ve been drinking a lot… well, not a lot, but a lot for me. About two drinks a week. Those drinks, often, have been rye and ginger ale, meaning I’ve been drinking pop, but only ginger ale, so that’s kind of okay right? Maybe not. I blame my sister who left us with a dearth of alcohol before she moved out to BC. I’ve nipped into some salad dressing about three times, and the occasional bit of mayonnaise (well, it’s Miracle Whip Light, which is only marginally less worse). Potato chips have gotten the better of me and enter my diet once every two weeks or so, but I’ve found Old Dutch’s low-salt Rip-L-Chips which have half the sodium content of regular chips, which is, you know, almost better. I have, though, discovered that cheesies (almost all types) have trans fats so they’re off the list. Trans fats only enter my system unawares, so I’ll say yes, I’ve partaken but not intentionally so. Also having trans fats: Ice Cream. I did not know that, but there you go. Avoided! There was an incident with macaroni and cheese that has officially put me off it (thank you). Otherwise, I’m getting healthier, eating more fruits and veg than ever before, although I can unequivocally say that my red meat intake is pretty high right now and that I should really, really watch that.
Hotflash! - I missed all but the last 10 minutes of the second episode of this season’s Battlestar Galactica… and you know, I didn’t really care much. Didn’t look like I missed anything important. We’ll see how episode 3 goes.
Hotflash!! - To tell the truth, I missed BSG because of playoffs hockey. I’ve discovered the joy of having two games running on two different channels concurrently. Every time there’s a stop in play on one, I just flip to the other… unless TSN happens to delay their broadcast because of golf (golf? Yeah, it’s the Masters, but come on, man, this is playoffs hockey!). I’m a monster. That said, I get burnt out on hockey after about 5 hours so most Western division games I don’t finish watching.
1) Caps v. Flyers — tied 1 game a piece. Still looking pretty splotchy, but I now think the Flyers are looking more cohesive and team-like than the Caps.
2) Red Wings v. Preds — Detroit leads 2 games to 1, but the Preds are giving them a show. Still looks like Wings in 5 or 6 games.
3) Pens v. Sens — Pittsburgh up 3 games to nil. Expect the sweep to conclude tomorrow as predicted. And yes, I’ve been screaming “The Gonch!” a lot.
4) Flames v. Sharks — Calgary surprised everyone with a crawl-from-behind victory in game 3 to lead the series 2 - 1, but the Sharks aren’t going belly up any time soon. We may actually see a Calgary upset, but It’s looking more and more like a 7 game series.
5) Canadiens v. Bruins — though down 2 games to 1, the Bruins are showing signs of life. I still expect it to end in 5 games though. And that hit on Chara from game 1: hilarious
6) Rangers v. Devils — Okay, I lied. I’m way into this series. Not that I want to see the Rangers (currently up 2 games to 1) win, but more that I want to see the Devil lose. There are some great rivalries in the NHL, from Gretzky and Lemieux to Crosby and Ovechkin, but I think Brodeur and Avery is easily the biggest freakshow.
7) Avs v. Wild — I’ve chosen on the side of Colorado, but Minnesota is up 2 - 1 in the series, and despite the Avs pluck, I still don’t think they’re going to make it past 6.
8) Stars v. Ducks — Another match-up I didn’t really think I’d give a damn about, but it’s been sheer joy watching Dallas trounce the (ugh) defending Cup champions 2 games to nil. Surprising, Stars, keep it up.
HOTFLASH!!!! — starting next week, I’m going to try a little schedule with BNY. Mondays will be TV/TVonDVD day, Tuesdays will be Music day, Thursdays will be Movies day, and Friday will be comics day. Wednesday, Saturday and Sundays will be free days to post whatever or not post at all. I’ll try this out but don’t look for it to stick.
HOTFLESH — I’ve caved and I’ve Booked myself in the Face. I hope you’re happy. I’m already regretting it, and I’m just not sure I understand it yet, nor that I have/want to devote much time to it… but good to see some-y’all.
PotFlush! — Aden and I learned on Sunday that, tragically, my Review of Dexter season 1 was incomplete. We were renting the DVDs from the local franchise video outlet, and each of the first two discs contained four episodes, while the third only had three. The fourth disc was labelled “Special Features” so we figured episode 11’s ending to be the cliffhanger. We were wrong… the 12th and final episode was on disc four. Moops. Shit. Season 2 lies in wait.
MOBRUSH!! — I mentioned before that I was running my first RPG campaign this month, and that did actually happen this past Sunday. It’s the first part of a highly adventurous 8-part story that required a hell of a lot of planning. It took a good three weeks to get the structure of it all together, plotting out each chapter, devising the player component and their opposition, and creating a timeline for the overarching story structure. I spent some time training in my GM role and helping our newest player to get comfortable with what we do. I’ve really put a lot of thought into this (at least ten pages worth of notes to start), but I found myself quite unprepared on Saturday for the next-day’s event, scrambling to review the Player Characters, notify the players of any changes needing to be made, and then revise the Non-Player Characters to make them formidable opponents. Then the scripting chores for the first issue were undertaken and with about an hour to spare, I was ready. Nervous as hell, but ready.
The game took a while to get started but once I got into the groove of it, I found it pretty easy. I had some assistance in helping the players to figure out their powers and everyone around the table was having fun with their characters, the concept and each other. Lots of suggestions going on, lots of teamwork and no attitude to speak of. The player’s actions threw off my planning but good, yet I managed to fudge the structure just enough that it worked just as well, if not better than planned. It was over rather quickly for one of our games (about 3 hours long, 90 minutes shorter than common) but it felt like a full event, and everyone seemed pretty satisfied, including myself.
With one part of the 8-segment story out of the way, I’m feeling a bit of relief, in my GM performance, the players’ reactions, and the story itself. It’s come off pretty smoothly, all things considered. I have part 2 in two weeks to plan for, and I’m pretty jazzed to get there.
POTLATCHES — for my birthday I forced Aden to buy me Kids in the Hall tickets at Massey Hall (June 5th). I’m happy, dammit! Onion AV Club interviews the lads (and, I noticed, the guys from Mythbusters too), cooldown
Ah, the 82 games are done and the real hockey season begins… in spring… it’s kind of wrong, but whatever. We’ve got two more months of hot hockey action and best of all I can spend all kinds of time looking at stats and watching games not pay a single penny for it… it’s all free.
Like last year, I’ll be calling my teams, who I’m rooting for and who can just got to aich-eee-double-hockeysticks.
(the first team listed in each is who I’m rooting for, and the numerical ranking is my level of interest in each of the series)
1) v. : With my main team (the Isles) and my back-up team (the Leafs) tanking out the season, I’m uber excited about my back-up back-up team, the Washington Capitals’ journey from last place in the conference to 3rd overall. Ovechkin is just a joy to watch. Unfortunately they’re playing those thugs from Pennsylvania. While have had a pretty good run this year with some nice acquisitions at the beginning of the season, they’re still thugs and I’m not too keen on seeing them advance. I bet this one goes 7 games and it’s truly and either way decision.
2) v. : Aden’s favourite team (Detroit) has been on an utter tear this year, losing all of 21 decisions. As long as they don’t repeat their 9-game no-win streak from earlier this year, they should have a pretty easy ride. I don’t expect Nashville to give ‘em much trouble. Wings in 5 games, 6 tops.
3) v. : my how the tables have turned. The Pens faced the Sens last year in the first round and the young pups had their tail feathers plucked and handed back to them by the steamrolling team from our nation’s capital. Given how awful the Sens have been this year, and how fantastic Pittsburgh has played, I’m expecting an easy 4-game sweep. And I get to say “The Gonch” everytime a commentator says Gonchar’s name. Cause that never gets tired!
4) v. : those pesky Sharks have had a phenomenal season while the Flames have struggled through it, although coming out well enough in the end. They’re a fun team to watch when they get it together, so I implore the flames to get it together. I still expect the Sharks to trample them in six games though.
5) v. : An original six match up. I don’t know why, but I’m kind of happy to see Montreal become a force to be reckoned with.. I guess it gives hope to the other three suffering original sixers that they too can turn things around. Boston’s already doing it, Chicago’s gotten way better and Toronto… well, they’re hopeless. There’s no point in hating Montreal anymore. They’re not a competitor for Toronto anymore… Anywho, Montreal has had Boston’s ticket all year, and I expect no less this time around. Montreal in 4 game (maybe 5).
6) 7) 8) Three games I don’t care too much about at all:
v. - yawn. Rangers in seven. I hope. Depends on how strong the Devils trap holds up. Thankfully, Lundqvist has been having a pretty good season, so he can almost match Brodeur this year. v. : I’d probably like to see Colorado win more because of Sakic and Smyth, but Minnesota is the new New Jersey, having effectively mastered the trap. Yawn. Minnesota in 6.
v. : good grief… please, Dallas, please kick those annoying freak Ducks out in the first round. Please? Still, I bet the Ducks take it, seven games. Ana-holes.
Early round 2 prognostications East
Montreal Canadiens v. New York Rangers (another original six masher - Montreal in 6)
Washington Capitals v. Pittsburgh Penguins (oh, this would be a dream… Ovechkin v. Crosby & Malkin = amazingly good hockey - Pens in 5) West
Detroit Red Wings v. Anaheim Ducks (the Ducks are just trouble - either Ducks in 6 or Detroit in 7)
San Jose Sharks v. Minnesota Wild (wow, dull - Sharks in 6,maybe even 5)