Archive for June, 2010

I’m BACK, and I’m Better Than Ever

Hello, Dear Readers!

You may or may not have noticed this, but I haven’t written on this blog in, oh, ten million years, give or take a few millennium.  I can’t remember a time in the three years I’ve been writing this blog when I’ve thought so little about hockey or blogging.  I went on hiatus.

I also went out of town- to Apple Hill.  You may remember Apple Hill from such posts as Too Much Nature (that post was written entirely on my cell phone), Charming Pictures of Young People Playing Music in the BarnThe Bat in the Shack Story, and the time it would NOT stop raining.  If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you’ve actually read quite a bit about Apple Hill.  (Isn’t it weird that I’ve been writing this blog long enough to have written about Apple Hill THREE times already?  I think that’s weird.  Also kind of cool.)

shackThis year I lived down in the swamp (as opposed to up on the hill) in Cabin A.  No bats, but I did live with at least one lunatic mouse who wasn’t even remotely afraid of me.

I decided I didn’t want to pay ANY attention to hockey while I was at Apple Hill, and I think it was a good choice.  Instead of paying any attention to the draft, I paid full attention to skit night.  Instead of spending my day off catching up on hockey blogs, I spent my day off watching multiple World Cup games with fun and attractive people.  Instead of spending even one minute of my time and energy thinking about Darcy Regier, I was happy.

I had a wonderful time at Apple Hill this year.  I feel refreshed and invigorated and newly inspired to be as awesome as possible.

So, in the spirit of trying to be as awesome as possible I sat down and said to myself, “Self, free agency starts TOMORROW.  What are you going to write about it on your blog?  You have to write something, and, for the love of Lindy Ruff, make it awesome.”

Here’s what I came up with: Diddly poo.

I’m still not ready to think seriously about the Sabres.  I just don’t care that much about them right now.  I almost never think about them, and when I DO think about them all I really feel is a shoulder-shrugging sense of “Well, something will happen eventually….is it really worth thinking about this?”

And honestly, do we really want to think too hard about the likes of Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford right now?  No!  We do not!  It’s beautiful outside!  We’re young, and we still have good hair and strong backs.  We can spend our time doing almost anything.  Gardening, practicing, flirting, painting rooms bright green, drinking and more drinking, cooking, sewing small squares of fabric together!  The world is our oyster.  This is no time to think about the Sabres.   No time at all.

So, let’s just not.

Tomorrow, the Sabres will sign someone  It probably won’t be too exciting, but it will be someone.  If Darcy trades anyone from the “top six” I’ll eat my hat and I’ll also jump for joy.  Let’s just wait and see what happens.  If the Sabres want us to write about them more, maybe they should try being sassier.  If they can’t be sassier I’m more than willing to make my own sass.

We’ll meet back here tomorrow night and see if we’re feeling any more inspired to discuss the Sabres.  If not, we’ll just think of something better to talk about.

Life is short, you know?

6 Things

1. If you didn’t get a bang out of that US/Algiers game you’re either dead inside or an Algerian.  (Actually, I learned this weekend from a Syrian friend that the Arab nations tend to band together to cheer for whichever Arab team is still standing in the World Cup, so in reality there were a lot of sad non-Algerians yesterday.)  That game was pure magic.  The frustration level of the first 91 minutes only made the eventual goal that much sweeter.

I find this US team very likable.  Landon Donovan seems like a bit of a weenie, but he’s good at kicking the ball into the net, so he’s okay by me.  I have a love/hate thing going on with Jozy Altidore.  I love to fire and re-hire him dozens of times in a single game.

It’s fun cheering for a sport you know nothing about.  I feel like I’m getting back to my roots.

2. The best thing about the US team is that they’re good enough to cheer for, but not so good that I’ll be devastated when they get eliminated.  They’re just right.

3. Italy and France + soccer = me cackling

4. I’m pretty bummed that we’re playing Ghana on Saturday.  Ghana was the team that really jumped up and grabbed me by the heartstrings during the first week of matches.  It’s sad that one of my two favorite teams will now eliminate the other.  Obviously, I need to choose a few more teams to root for so I don’t find myself adrift in a sea of teams I care nothing about.

5. I didn’t watch the NHL Awards because I respect myself too much to put myself through that ordeal again (fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice? I should just kill myself), but by all accounts the show was less painfully awkward than usual.  Good work, NHL.

6. Hooray for Miller and Myers!  Darcy, please sign at least one respectable “top six” forward for them.  Also, you might want to begin working on how you’re going to trick Tyler Myers into signing a lifetime contract.  He won’t be a baby for much longer.  Soon he’s going to require big boy money.

Dear Lindy Ruff,

Being the coach of an NHL team is a full time job.  So is owning a diner.  I know how passionate you are about grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate malts, and lord knows I know you love the Sabres, but sooner or latter you’re going to have to make a choice.   Hockey, or affordable comfort food.   I think you’re spreading yourself too thin.

With love and thanks for the french fries,

Katebits

Soccer Analysis

I think the fans are the best thing about the World Cup.  For example, I wasn’t even sure I was rooting for the US until I saw that guy dressed as an astronaut in the stands.  After I saw that I was all, U-S-A!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!

3 Things

1. Can you believe it’s almost draft time already?!  I know!  Where did the year go?

(Just in case you actually lost a year to a coma or something, here’s what happened: The Sabres were surprisingly good, and then the had a bad stretch where the doubters were all, “Told you, they’re the same old team” and the apologists were all, “IT’S JUST A STREAK, YOU MORONS.”  Then the Sabres seemed to have righted the ship, and the apologists pounded their chests in righteous victory.  The Sabres not only won the division but they made it all the way to the end of the season without ever giving up a third period lead.  We rejoiced.   But then they sucked in the playoffs, and they gave up third period leads, like, forty-five times in a row, which left everyone feeling quite angry at Derek Roy and Tim Connolly.  Now, no one ones what’s going on [actually, that's not true.  We know exactly what's going on, we're just not that crazy about the plan], but the only thing we know for sure is that Mike Grier is still a Sabre.  Which is oddly comforting.  Oh, and Crunchy practically won the Olympics singlehandedly.  When I think about the past year like this, I realize the Olympics were the biggest heartbreak.  If I could change one thing about the year, I would will the US team to gold.)

Anyhooch, a year has gone by, and it’s time for Darcy to restock the “prospect” cupboards.  I don’t care that much about the 18-year-olds in the draft, but I do enjoy all the scuttlebutt about potential trades, AND, once we get past the draft, it’s practically free agency day.  The opening of free agency is always a hoot, even when Steve Montador is the big Sabres acquisition.

2. This morning I got up at the CRACK of dawn and watched the Honduras-Chile match with my friend Mike.  To be honest, it was kind of boring (the game, not the company).  The good World Cup-related news is that I now have a VERY annoying vuvuzela iphone app.  After the game was over, Elise came home and Mike made us bacon and popovers.

3. I watched a few minutes of SUI/ESP game while I munched on bacon and popovers, and I really enjoyed Spain’s frustration.  What’s more fun than handsome, frustrated Spaniards?  Good work, Switzerland!

Other, Less Awesome Sports

I made the category tag “Other, Less Awesome Sports” almost as soon as I started this blog.  It was intended to be a tag that could encompass all of my encounters with non-hockey sports.  When I started TWC,  my hyper-awareness of sports was brand new, and I quickly realized that even without trying, I was having daily interactions with all kinds of sports.  I had been thinking about sports as a I’ve-been-looking-for-you-my-entire-life love affair, but I quickly realized I was in a you’ve-been-here-all-along situation.  After I sought out hockey, I simply noticed that sports were all around me, all the time.

The last few weeks I’ve been going through a funny sports rebirth. I’m watching other sports more and more.  Frankly, I’m surprised by my depth of interest.  Shocked even.  I like sports!…and not just hockey!

Basketball

Basketball was the one sport that I truly thought I could never like.  I’m still a little astounded to catch myself tuning into the NBA Finals.  I can’t fathom that my interest in basketball will bleed into the NBA’s regular season, but you never know.  Four years ago I couldn’t have fathomed that I’d ever have season tickets to the Sabres, so I’ve learned to never say never.

I like the raw athleticism of basketball, and I like that it’s such a simple concept.  Run back and forth and take turns putting a ball through a hoop.  That’s the whole thing.  Basketball is a very simple sport, and I like it that way.  I’m also fascinated by how close the spectators are to the action.  I guess hockey has nearby spectators too, but in hockey the glass creates a sense of separation whereas in basketball those dudes are right there.  They can land right on you, and they often do.  I also like how basketball players are freakishly large.  Basketball is a sport played by genetic mutants, and that amuses me.

What I don’t like about basketball is how the first half is pretty boring (and as far as I can tell, largely irrelevant), and how the last two minutes often involve everyone purposefully fouling everyone else.   I also don’t like how the players act like GIGANTIC effing babies every time they get bumped.  Hockey has spoiled all other sports for me in this respect.  Which leads me to….

Soccer

Holy COW are soccer players drama queens!   But in the case of soccer, the drama just cracks me up.

I am REALLY enjoying the World Cup so far.  I’m a little iffy on soccer still, but the spectacle and drama of the World Cup has got me hooked.

The real moment of falling in love with the World Cup came while I was watching the Ghana game yesterday.  They were so spunky, and their fans were so much fun with their dancing and hopping around.  For some reason the people from Ghana (Ghanians?) kind of clued me into what a big deal the World Cup is.  I know that’s a very obvious point, but as most of the people reading this blog know, we really don’t care about the World Cup in the United States.  It recently occurred to me that the rest of the world is having a gigantic, rollicking party, and meanwhile the United States is sitting around being all sullen and, “Whatevs.  Your party is lame.” You know what?…. I think we might be the lame ones.

Why are we such pills about the World Cup?  Can’t we see that everyone else in the world thinks it’s totally rad?  And isn’t that reason enough to give it a chance?

Yes, soccer is kind of redonk.  The clock goes UP and no one knows when the game is going to end.   That’s weird.  BUT, it looks real VERY good in HD, and, it’s on in the morning. Sports!  At seven in the morning! It’s amazing.

Onward!

Hockey is over for the season.  HOORAY!  (The Blackhawks won, BTW.)

Look.  Lord knows I love hockey.  I do.  In past years I’ve happily devoured non-Sabres playoffs, but this year I was too jealous to enjoy much hockey once the Sabres were eliminated.  I don’t know if it was all the emotional energy I burned during the Olympics (and looking back on the season, the Olympics really were the peak of my hockey fervor), or if it was the Sabres disappointing playoff appearance, or maybe it was just “one of those years,” but I wasn’t feeling the playoffs, and I’m glad they’re over.

(It was pretty fun to see the Cup won on an OT goal [even if the goal was kind of weak].  That I have to admit.)

The BEST thing about the playoffs being over is that it means the offseason has officially begun.  It’s time to put this year behind us, and begin speculating wildly about the future.  The future is fun.

I firmly believe that the Sabres are going to win the Cup someday.  It might not be next year, or the year after that, or the DECADE after that, but the Sabres are going to win it all in my lifetime.  That winning future may feel far off, but every little thing that Darcy does this summer will somehow effect that team that eventually wins it all.  That’s how it works.  Even if the path is winding, life is still a line of one thing leading to another.

A butterfly flaps it’s wings in China, and the Sabres win the Cup in 2017.

I’m happy and enthusiastic about the offseason.  I’ve never put much stock in the draft (from an entertainment standpoint), but the first year I paid any attention to the draft the Sabres drafted Tyler Myers.  Tyler!  Myers!  What if Darcy drafts Tyler Myers again?   Or, maybe Darcy will draft so poorly that the Sabres will be doomed for years, and somewhere down the line we’ll get the future version of Sidney Crosby, and we’ll win the Cup that way.

It all leads to the Cup eventually.  I’m pretty sure of that much.

The first step to the future was finishing the damn playoffs.

Congratulations, Hawks! (We’ll give you guys Nathan Gerbe [his cap hit is minicule] for Patrick Sharp   Think it over.)

House

I’ve owned my first house for about seven months now, and in that time I’ve been surprised by a lot of things.

Houses (especially cosmetic fixer-uppers like mine) are a lot of work.  Before I moved in, I imagined myself relishing every little step of the home improvement.  I thought I’d be zipping through the house tirelessly removing wallpaper and repainting window sills until I had the beautiful home of my dreams.

That is, um, not really what happened.

I have worked hard.  At times I’ve worked incredibly hard.  But every project took three times longer than I expected, and it turns out there is a limit to my enthusiasm for home improvement.  In February I hit a lull that I wasn’t expecting.  I lost my energy for painting and scraping, and a lot of projects stalled.

The most ridiculous of the stalled project is this wall.  It was probably November when I put these paint samples up, but every day since, the first thing I see when I walk into my house is this mess of a wall.

stairwell.jpgDon’t worry, I decided to paint the wall beige.  Not pink or purple or green.  The risers on the stairs, though?  Those bad boys will be bright blue.

The good news is, I’m back!  It must be the warm weather, because all of a sudden I’m back on track with the house.  The paint cans are back out (oh, who am I kidding the cans never actually left.  The difference is that now I’m using them), and I’m getting things done again.

One of the weirdest things about homeownership is that pride I feel when I get something totally mundane done.  Sure, it makes sense to feel proud when a room gets painted and the furniture slides into place, but pride over a new porch roof?  Weird.

This week I got new glass block windows in the basement, and I love them.  Like, I want to marry them.  I never expected to want to marry a glass block window, and yet, here I am.

laundry.jpg

glassblocks.jpg

Glass block windows are installed directly into the foundation with cement to ensure that bad guys (or bears) can’t kick them in.  My basement is now all sealed up from the elements.  The evening after the windows were installed I went downstairs to look at them, and I realized that the cement was still wet.

So, there I was, all in love with the windows and with homeownership, and I’m feeling all proud and happy, and I realize that there is WET CEMENT in my house.  In MY house.  In the house that I OWN.  Where I can do whatever I want, because it’s mine.  I had to scratch something in the cement!

But what?

First, a confession: Almost without thinking, I grabbed a nail and scratched a heart into one of the frames.  I dunno.  It was pure instinct.  I think girls are genetically programmed to draw hearts wherever they go.  I immediately regretted the heart, so I carefully considered my options before raising the nail to scratch again.

I thought about writing my name or my initials, but that seemed a little lame, and I had already used up my allotment of “lame” on the heart.  I wanted to write something that would be meaningful to me, but also not annoying to any potential future owners of the house.

In the end, the choice was obvious:

mine.jpg

Owning a house is not always fun, but it definitely provides lots of opportunity for small, joyful triumphs.

Something Silly

You know how some days you’re feeling all out of sorts and generally cranky, but then something silly comes along and makes you laugh and then everything is awesome again?  That’s kind of how this recording of a tech support call hit me today.

I’ll set the scene: A woman calls in because she wants the Google Pac-Man disabled on her homepage and gentle hilarity ensues.

The tech support guy who helps her is a SAINT, and I very sincerely hope that the release of this call on YouTube leads directly to him getting laid.  I want to believe that we live in a world where this type of guy gets all the action he can possibly handle.

I found it on Woot!

Tradition Is Dumb

You can’t fix 99% of blown calls after the fact without opening a huge can of worms.  Like it or not, human error is part of sports, and in trying to correct those errors, there is often no easy solution.

But this Galarraga situation is different, and it created a wonderful opportunity for MLB.

A perfect game is a very rare individual achievement, but, in the context of a season, a perfect game is no different from any other win.  This is about as simple as a blown call can be, and correcting this error does NOT open a giant can of worms.  Unlike most of the problems that plague baseball, this situation is black and white.  Galarraga threw a perfect game.  Joyce blew the very last call.  End of story.

There is almost nothing at stake except for a line in a record book for Galarraga and a little peace of mind for Joyce.  Both the ump and the pitcher showed remarkable class in the aftermath of the game.  This could be a feel-good story of redemption for the league.  Couldn’t baseball benefit from a little public contrition?  Would admitting a mistake really be SUCH a terrifying precedent to set?  Why would baseball ignore an obvious solution to an obvious mistake?  I don’t understand the risk here.

Show fans that you want your hallowed record books to be correct.  Everyone wins.  No one loses.

“We effed this one up, but we want to make it right.”

Just overrule the call, stupidheads.


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

Observations 2
I can be reached at: willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com

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In accordance with the Fair Use Copyright Law, The Willful Caboose uses logos and registered trademarks of the National Hockey League to convey my criticism and inform the public of the Sabres' suckitude/badassitude (whatever the case may be). Photos on The Willful Caboose are used without permission, but do not interfere with said owner's profit. If you own a specific image on this site and want it removed, please e-mail me (willfulcaboose [at] gmail [dot] com) and I will be more than happy willing to oblige. (Special thanks to The Pensblog for their help with this disclaimer.)

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