Archive for the 'Bloggish' Category

Hiatus

Many years ago, my then-boyfriend and I were stressing out about one thing or another. I have absolutely no recollection of what the original stress was, but I do remember how we resolved the stress. We were having a conversation that sounded something like this:

Me: What’s going to HAPPEN?
Him: I don’t know! This could happen, or that could happen, or maybe something that we haven’t even thought of could happen.
Me: I CAN’T STAND NOT KNOWING. I’m SO FREAKED.
Him: Me too! WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?
Me: There is NO WAY TO tell. This SUCKS.
Him: This is the WORST. SERIOUSLY. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN?!
(pause)
Kate: Well… something is going to happen.
Him: That’s true… something is definitely going to happen.

For some reason, this made us laugh, and “Something is going to happen,” became a bit of a mantra. To this day when I’m feeling stressed out about The Big Not Knowing, I tell myself, “Well, something is going to happen,” and I usually feel better.

_________

That’s pretty much how I feel about the Sabres right now. Something is going to happen. I don’t know what that something is, and lately, in stark contrast to the last five years of my fandom, I don’t see the point in analyzing the situation. In regards to the playoffs, something will happen. When it happens, I’ll either rejoice or put on my best there’s-always-next-year face. Until then, I’m watching these games and thinking, “Huh. Look at them go. Good for you, Sabres.” That’s about the size of it. I don’t feel excessively angry or exhilarated. I feel happy when they win, and disappointed when they lose, and then after the game I go play outside in the beautiful weather.

This state of inner-Sabres-calm is actually quite pleasant, but it doesn’t make for very good blogging. With this in mind, I’m going to close up shop for a little while here. I gave some serious consideration to shutting down the blog permanently this week, but, I’m not ready. This blog, and sharing my Sabres experience with all of you, has meant a tremendous amount to me over the last few years. From the very bottom of my heart, thank you for reading this blog, thank you for your hilarious and supportive comments, and thank you for being a Sabres fan.

I didn’t like the idea of just leaving the blog to languish, and I didn’t like the idea of quitting entirely, so I’ve decided to take a blog break. (And just to clarify the rules of a blog break in order to avoid any Ross-from-Friends “WE WERE ON A BREAK!” fiascoes, you are allowed to read other blogs while we’re on this break. In fact, I encourage it. Go crazy. Leave no blog-wild-oat unsewn. Go to town on those other blogs.) When the day comes that I’m bursting at the seams to write about the Sabres again, I’ll be back.

Until that day comes, do me a favor, and read this post. That post (about “No Goal”) really showcases the gleeful stupidity that The Willful Caboose stood for during it’s heyday.

Let’s go Buff-a-lo!

The Sabres: Just Like FedEx, Only Waaaay Better

Sometimes life is weird, you know?

Today I spent the afternoon driving around in a limo with Christian Ehrhoff and Thomas Vanek.

Man. I don’t even know where to begin this story.

No wait, yes I do: From the very bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank Sabres.com for inviting me to join Christian Ehrhoff and Thomas Vanek as they delivered tickets to season ticket holders today. I feel so fortunate to have been plucked from the thousands and thousands of wonderful, loyal, enthusiastic, and deserving Sabres fans to have this experience. The Sabres have recently been making some truly awesome moves to include non-traditional media in their events, and they seriously knocked this one out of the park. Thank you, Sabres!

_____________

On Friday last week the Sabres emailed me to ask if I wanted to “tag along” when the Sabres delivered tickets to a few lucky season ticket holders. The email conversation pretty much went like this:

Sabres: Do you want to tag along when we do this thing?
Katebits: I want to do that more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my entire life.
(End Scene)

In the initial email we really didn’t get a lot of information about the event, so I spent the entire weekend speculating with Heather (who was also invited) about what exactly we’d be doing.  Heather’s favorite scenario was that Lindy would drive us around in a gigantic van full of Sabres all day. My favorite scenario was that somehow I’d end up in a car with Goose, Pominville, and Miller, and at some point we’d turn up the radio and have a loud singalong, preferably to the song “Rolling In the Deep.”

Yesterday, things came into a little bit more focus when I was told I’d be riding in a limo with Tyler Myers and Ville Leino. I know. A limo! With Tyler Myers and Ville Leino!

“I bet those guys know ‘Rolling in the Deep’ too,” I thought. “THIS IS GOING TO BE THE MOST FUN EVER!”

_______

I’m not going to lie, I was quite nervous about almost everything as I headed down to the arena. A variety of panicky thoughts raced through my head: What if I embarrass myself? What if the Sabres hate me? What if Tyler Myers wants to open the sunroof of the limo so he can stick his head out like a giraffe, and this makes me laugh so hard that I have a coughing fit? What if Ted Black turns out to be only 99% awesome instead of 100% awesome? What if Ville Leino arches his eyebrow at me and I temporarily lose the power of speech? What if I somehow offend everyone and ensure that no bloggers are ever taken seriously by the Sabres ever ever ever ever ever ever again? OMFG, WHAT IF I LOOK STUPID IN THIS OUTFIT?!

Well, it turns out that driving around Buffalo in a limousine with Sabres is much like everything else in life. You almost never worry about the right things.

After hooking up with our fabulous and helpful Sabres liaison (and being told that Myers would not be available and that he had been replaced by Gerbe), Heather and I were ushered outside where there were lots of cameras and limos. I’d relaxed a little bit by this point, mostly because there are only so many times you can fret about your outfit before it gets boring. And besides, things were getting pretty interesting.

That’s when the players came out. Now, not to sound like a total goober here, but seeing a big crowd of Sabres in street clothes is really something. Honestly, my first instinct was just to stare at them. I don’t mean this in some sort of creeper way, I just mean… the Sabres are interesting in real life. I wanted to memorize what they were all wearing, and who was taller/shorter/skinnier or goofier in person than expected. But I didn’t have long to stare at them because almost immediately they popped into limos and everything got kind of confusing and suddenly I was all, “Hey, which limo do I go in?! I thought you said I was riding with Gerbe and Leino… I’m riding with Vanek and Ehrhoff? Whaaaaat?”

So, after I spent a day meticulously plotting to charm Myers and Leino into telling me all their funniest secrets, suddenly, I was going to be riding with Vanek and Ehrhoff.

For reasons that were explained to me but that I didn’t try hard enough to understand, Vanek and Ehrhoff met us in a parking lot out near Transit Road instead of driving out there in the limo. This was fine by me because it gave me a chance to bond with Carl (the limo driver [Hi, Carl!]) and also to ask John Sinclair (VP of Tickets & Services) some of my burning questions about the event.

SPOILER ALERT: My “burning questions” about the event were mostly related to my concerns that one of the people’s houses would be messy when Terry Pegula suddenly popped by.

Here’s a picture I took from the limo before Vanek and Ehrhoff got in. Vanek is being interviewed by Lorey Schultz from channel 4. Lorey and her camera guy followed our car to every stop, and Lorey was super duper nice.

This picture makes me laugh a little bit. I was basically hiding in the limo, waiting for them to join me in the limo. I think this picture demonstrates how I was both scared of hanging out with these guys and intensely curious about them.

Here’s the thing about meeting Sabres in up close, personal situations. There was one part of my brain that was all, “OMG, this is the weirdest thing that has EVER happened, EVER. Thomas Vanek is sitting RIGHT THERE, two feet away from me. Seriously, this is CAH-RAAAAZY.” And then there was another part of me that was just like, “Oh, hi Thomas Vanek!” Although I’d obviously never met him before, Thomas Vanek felt like a basically familiar person. That was very interesting to me. Christian Ehrhoff was an actual stranger (in that I haven’t been watching him play hockey for many years), so meeting him was really just like meeting anyone. Well, not quite like meeting anyone. It was like meeting someone that you know you’re going to start a ten year hockey relationship with next week.

I introduced myself to them as “your blogger for the afternoon,” which didn’t seem to faze either of them in the slightest, and we were off!

From the very beginning I was impressed with Thomas Vanek’s relaxed and open demeanor. My mental image of him is so tortured, but seriously, he was downright breezy in the limo. We chatted about Minnesota (I’m from Minneapolis), and the differences between Buffalo winter and Minnesota winter (When I confessed I’ve always wondered if those sun lamps work, because I hate the constant gray of Buffalo winters, he suggested that we put a huge bubble over Buffalo with a giant sun lamp inside), and how it’s hard to feed twins (he actually held up his arms and pretended to shovel food into two babies mouths simultaneously).

Christian Ehrhoff was a little more reserved, but then again, I didn’t “know” him ahead of time, so maybe I just didn’t ask the magical questions that could’ve prompted him to mime feeding his babies. Perhaps in three years on Ticket Delivery Day I’ll know juuuuust enough about him to carry my end of a totally breezy conversation with Christian Ehrhoff. (I did find out that he played the piano for a handful of years as a kid and that he’s got a piano in his house now. That was intriguing.) I can report that Ehrhoff seems super sweet, and a little shy, and he’s cute as a bug’s ear. Really. I wanted to pinch his dimpled cheeks.

The thing I determined right away in the limo was that I had NO desire to try to pepper these guys with a lot of questions for the blog. I write like a fan, and I wanted to experience the day like a fan. Plus, it was quickly apparent that while they would of course dutifully answer any questions I had, they probably weren’t super eager to give me lots of hilarious footage of themselves being goofy and effing around. These guys were mega, MEGA good-natured, kind, and agreeable, but, they were also at work. This realization was sort of awesome, because I relieved myself of my “media” duties, and I decided to just go with the flow. I took one posed pictured of them in the limo, and then I put away the phone.

I can highly recommend driving around in a car with Sabres. All sorts of hilarious and interesting things happen:

- At one point I asked the guys if they’d ever played together before, and John Sinclair immediately said, “The better question is have they ever played against each other?” This led to them reminiscing about a game they’d played versus each other in the AHL where the Amerks definitively beat Ehrhoff’s team. (I want to say they mentioned it was in Cleveland. Does that make sense with Ehrhoff’s history?) It was really interesting to me how they both seemed to remember the game very specifically, right away. Ehrhoff laughed and said, “I think I was a minus 5 that game.” Heh.

- They were both kind of grumpy about having to wear their jerseys, which makes sense when you think about it, but surprised me to realize. When I commented on this, Vanek said, “Yeah, but I’m REALLY glad to be back to this,” and then he grabbed the circle emblem on his jersey with both hands and lifted it up off his chest. “I did not like the slug.” Then he said something about how he always really liked the original Sabres logo as a kid. This, of course, warmed the cockles of my heart. Then Ehrhoff said, “The third jerseys are nice too.” Vanek seemed to agree that those jerseys were sharp, but he didn’t have a strong opinion about the quilting on the numbers, which I confessed I don’t like.  Hearing players discuss jerseys the same way fans do was a hoot.

- All three of our stops were corporate sponsors instead of individual houses. It was SUPER fun to see people react (some of the receptionists’ confusion was kind of priceless, actually), but it didn’t quite pack the emotional wallop that I imagine you’d get out of delivering tickets to a longtime season ticket holder’s house. When I commented on this to the guys in the limo I said, “I think we should find some little kids for you guys to interact with!” And Vanek joked, “Why? Is this not blog worthy?” I thought it was super funny that he had “blog worthy” on the tip of his tongue. I assured him that, “Oh no. Don’t you worry. This is definitely blog worthy.”

- The deliveries ranged from “totally great” to “A FREAKING HOOT”. We stopped at three offices. Ingram Micro, Great Batch, and LoVullo. All three stops were very fun, and it really was interesting to watch people light up when they saw the Sabres. On a personal note, it was also funny to realize that I probably looked like I was a part of their normal entourage. I found myself in various office lobbies wanting to yell, “I don’t belong in the limo with these guys! I’m not one of them! This is a TOTALLY weird day for me! I’m just like you people! CAN YOU BELIEVE I’M DRIVING AROUND WITH SABRES ALL DAY?!” But I didn’t.

These metal boxes were a source of much jealousy and longing for me today. The suite tickets come in these boxes, but I assure you, the regular seats DO NOT. I totally, totally want my tickets to come in one of those boxes. At one of the stops, Vanek held one up and said, "This WOULD make a good change holder..." and I was all, "I KNOW." Here, Christian Ehrhoff dutifully holds up the box when I tell him, "Make sure the box is really visible."

- One of the highlights of the day from the “HAHAHAHAHAHA! Category” was Vanek bitching about a $1500 phone bill he got after a Canadian roadtrip even though he TRIED to get the Canadian data plan. I’m not sure why it amused me so much to hear a highly paid athlete grumbling about a bill (and it’s not like $1500 is small potatoes, even when you’re rich), but it did. When he was telling the story of the fiasco, he turned to me and said, “I bought a Canadian data plan ahead of time that included [some number of data bytes which I don't remember because both the number and the unit of measurement are meaningless to me], but I don’t even know what that number means… do you know what that means?” I was all, “Hell if I know what that means, Thomas Vanek.” So he continued, “And so, when I went in to complain about the bill, the guy in the store told me that my data plan was big enough to cover me visiting, like, five websites. I’d only bought enough for ten minutes on the internet.” And this is when I started to inwardly laugh and laugh and laugh. It tickles me to no end that this bothers him enough to tell this story months later. Also, for the record, Thomas Vanek does not take kindly to airline baggage fees.

- I found it very difficult to address them by their first names, but calling them by their last names seemed weird too. I eventually coaxed a few “Thomas”es and “Christian”s out of myself, but it was hard. I have no idea why calling someone by their first name would feel so awkward, but it did.

- At the last stop, LoVullo, the bosses there had clearly given the employees the green light to come on down and pose for pictures. The Sabres were extremely good-natured about this, so much so that LoVullo is where I fell in love with them just a tiny bit. They probably took pictures with at least a hundred people, posing in groups of 5 or 6. The reason it was so charming is that they shook hands and introduced themselves to every single person. This is the one part of the day that I REALLY wish I’d thought to record on video, because for about fifteen minutes you just heard, “Hi, I’m Christian” “Hi, I’m Thomas.” “Hi, I’m Christian.” “Hi, I’m Thomas.” “Hi, I’m Christian.” “Hi, I’m Thomas.” “Hi, I’m Christian.” Over and over and over again. It was incredibly endearing. There’s just something very sweet and unassuming about introducing yourself to people who are lining up to get your picture. This was truly the highlight of the day for me.

"Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas." "Hi, I'm Christian." "Hi, I'm Thomas."

-After the last stop, they both IMMEDIATELY removed their jerseys, and then they BOTH folded them up into tidy rectangles. I’m not sure what was going on with that (maybe some sort of tidiness-peer-pressure?), but it was cute.

______

I’m sure I’ll keep remembering little things from the day, and when I do, I’ll post about them here. Maybe we should just consider this, “Sabres Ticket Delivery Day: Part One.”

For now, I’ll just end this post by saying, again, thanks SO MUCH to Sabres.com for having me today. This was really, truly a wonderful experience. Another thanks to Carl the limo driver for his masterful limo-driving-skillz, and John Sinclair, who was a super fun guide for the afternoon. And of course, a million thanks to Thomas Vanek and Christian Ehrhoff who were both incredibly generous, kind, and engaging with me today. We are lucky to have them both in Buffalo.

The Sabres Blogroll Project

Since there isn’t much of interest going on in Sabreland right now, my thoughts have turned to more bloggy matters. Specifically, my blogroll.

Once upon a time, I took tender loving care of my Sabres blogroll. I tended it, and weeded it, and whispered sweet nothings into its ear so that it knew it was loved, but somewhere along the way, I drifted away from my blogroll. Earlier today I started tinkering with my Sabres blogroll and I discovered that was a big fat mess. Not only were there dead blogs, but there are important omissions.

In looking over my blogroll, I’ve realized that I no longer have what I’d consider a full grasp of the Sabres blogosphere. I don’t think I even know what’s out there these days. Back when I started Sabres blogging about four years ago, I honestly think I read every post that appeared on every Sabres blog, everyday. Since then the blogosphere has absolutely exploded. There are, like, a bazillion Sabres blogs now, and I don’t think anyone could possibly read them all. The blogosphere is absolutely churning out content at this point.

This is a potentially exciting time for the Sabres blogosphere. The Blogger Summit showed us that the Sabres organization is paying attention to us, and that they are willing to instigate conversations with the blogosphere. I’m not sure the Sabres (or any sports franchise) really know how to deal with bloggers yet, and I think in this uncertainty is a fair amount of opportunity. Right now the Sabres seem like an organization that is invigorated, curious, and creative. A luck would have it, we’ve got an army of invigorated, curious, and creative people writing about the Sabres as a hobby. I don’t have any idea what the future could bring in terms of the blogosphere’s relationship with the team, but I do know there is power in numbers.

It seems to me that the more people we having blogging, the higher the odds the Sabres will continue to want to interact with the blogosphere… which is where the blogroll comes in.

I’d like to assemble a list of every single Sabres blog out there. I want to know who is writing. Specifically, I want to know how many people are writing. I want a number.

In the past I’ve invited the blogosphere to be on my blogroll, but this is a little different. This time I am asking for your help compiling a list, as a favor to me. In the end, I want to have a definitive list that says, “This is who we are. This is the Sabres blogosphere.” I’m planning to dedicate a page of this blog to the blogroll, and I promise (cross my heart) to keep it updated.

Here’s the criteria for being on the blogroll:

1. The blogs have to primarily about the Sabres and/or Buffalo sports. I used to have a handful of general Buffalo-centric blogs in the blogroll, but I took those out. Obviously, it’s cool to write about other stuff (hell, half of this blog is about other stuff), but the Sabres should be the main thing.

2. The blog must be active. When I went through my existing blogroll I took out all the blogs that hadn’t been updated at all in the 2011 calendar year. So, the definition of “active” is pretty loose. If you’ve written in the last six months, you’re in.

That’s it.

I’ve moved the current Sabres blogroll up in the sidebar. Take a look at the list, and let me know who I’m missing. Please do not be shy. Leave links in the comment section, email me at willfulcaboose@gmail.com, or contact me on twitter.

Thank you for your help! Happy blogging!

Thoughts on the Summit

It was with great jealousy/curiosity/trepidation/glee that I sat down in front of the Sabres’ Blogger Summit live video feed yesterday afternoon. I am, of course, still terrorizing the woods of New Hampshire with music, so, I was pretty far away from the proceedings, distance-wise. But here’s the cool thing about the blogosphere: even in New Hampshire, surrounded by teenaged string players and unkempt-nature, as soon as that video feed clicked on, I was riveted. I’m pretty sure I could move to the moon and still be fascinated by the Sabres and the Sabres blogosphere.

Here are some relatively unorganized thoughts on the event from my perspective. I’d write something less bullet-point-y, but music camp does not allow much time for blogging, and also, I’m lazy.

  • I want to start these bullet-points by congratulating the Sabres and the participating bloggers for a great event. This was an awesome event for the blogosphere, and I hope it was a success by everyone’s standards. What I’ve heard about the event via twitter, personal texts, and emails has been overwhelmingly positive. (Except for Heather B, who very charmingly emailed me last night to say that the event was terrible without me, no one had ANY fun, and that Ted Black is super mean. Nice try, Heather. I’m not buying it AT ALL, but I do appreciate the effort to make me feel better about missing the summit.) On a personal note, I want to thank the Sabres for reaching out to bloggers. THANK YOU, SABRES!
  • I thought the bloggers were awesome! Everyone looked so scrubbed-up and adorable on camera. I’ve met a lot of the bloggers in town, but it was fun to put a faces to a few names. And seriously, not a SINGLE person there looked even remotely socially disturbed, or excessively pasty due to lack of sun. Good work, guys! (Now back to mom’s basement with you. Scram!)
  • Ted Black is a freaking star. I certainly can’t speak for any other bloggers, but for me, the primary reason I was mega-interested in attending this event was that fact that it was an opportunity to rub elbows with Ted Black. Last week, when I was thinking about the event and what I would’ve asked had I been able to attend, I actually had a difficult time thinking of good questions, but man, I REALLY wanted to hang out drinking beer and eating pizza with Ted Black. I feel like maybe a more serious-minded blogger wouldn’t admit to such a frivolous appreciation for Ted Black, but whatevs. If there is one thing I’m not, it’s “serious about the Buffalo Sabres”. Which brings me to my next bullet point…
  • I think the event (at least the online streaming portion) suffered a little bit because of the “Press Conference Lite” format. I want to be clear, this isn’t a really criticism. It’s mostly just an observation. I suspect that if you asked a hundred bloggers how they’d want a Q&A with Ted Black to be formatted, about 80 of them would describe exactly what the Sabres did, and the other 20 would all have wildly different ideas. (My ideal Q&A with Ted Black would be on my porch, drinking beer. Also, Goose would come along. And we would mostly talk about how much we hate the Flyers and the Bruins. And then, maybe we’d play Rock Band. But that’s just me.) There is certainly no “right” way to do something like this. My problem with the format is that it assumed that bloggers want to behave like journalists. There are LOTS of bloggers who do want to behave like journalists, but there are also lots of bloggers, like me, who are more causal in their approach. As the Sabres continue to reach out to bloggers (please continue to reach out to bloggers, Sabres!), I hope that there is some effort to experiment with the format and tone of the events. But again, I’m NOT COMPLAINING. I’m just sayin’.
  • Just as a counterpoint to my last point- from what I’ve gathered about the non-streaming portion of the evening, that’s when most of the fun stuff occurred. So, had I been able to attend, I probably could’ve asked Ted to wear half of my BFF locket after the cameras were turned off. And then, after he gracefully and politely declined, I could’ve asked Kevin Sylvester if HE wanted to wear it instead. (Kylvester would’ve said “yes”. Of course.) So, while the streaming portion was a little stuffy for my personal tastes, it sounds like the Sabres actually did set aside a chunk of time for less-formal questions.
  • My close friends at Apple Hill know how disappointed I was about not being able to attend the summit. As such, my friend Elise suggested that the Sabres were probably just gathering the bloggers in order to either brainwash them or trap them in a dank dungeon, and that I should be GLAD I couldn’t go. I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed that Ted didn’t start the Blog Summit by pressing a button which opened a trap door in the floor which sent all the bloggers down a Goonies-style water slide and into a pit of rattlesnakes (or lions, I suppose).
  • All in all, I give the Summit an A+ for “being overall awesome and generous towards their most loyal fans”, and a A- for “execution”. (Sadly, I have to give the event a F- for “Calling me and asking me when would be a convenient time to hold the event.”) But if there is one thing I want to make CRYSTAL CLEAR it’s that I am THRILLED that the Sabres held this event and that I think they did a great job.
  • What a wonderful time to be a Sabres fan!

And, here’s a SUPER FUN Willful Caboose programming alert: My disappoint at not being able to attend the Blog Summit was SO acute, and my whining was SO pronounced, that the-powers-that-be at the Sabres took pity on me. I was able to send some questions to Ted Black via email, and he VERY graciously answered them all.

SO, look for Ted Black Interview in the next few days! Hooray!

The Sabres Summit: An Exercise in Blinding Frustration and Blog-Altering Enthusiasm

As many of you have probably heard, the Sabres are up to some feisty new tricks. The Sabres have invited bloggers (filthy, unruly, living-in-mom’s-basement, BLOGGERS) to HSBC arena tomorrow evening to the, “first ever Blogger Summit.” I KNOW. They’ve invited bloggers INTO THE BELLY OF THE BEAST. Back when Golisano owned the team I think it would’ve been 100% reasonable to assume that the Sabres organization didn’t even use computers (typewriters and carrier pigeons work JUST FINE, thank you very much), and now, mere months later, they’re all, “Hey bloggers! We should be friends! Do you want to come over for dinner and hang out with our highest ranking (and most intriguing) employee?”

For those of us who have been toiling away, blogging for years, this event is a big, fat, hairy deal.

Sadly (INCREDIBLY SADLY, AND WITH AN EPIC AMOUNT OF WHINING), I cannot attend the Blogger Summit. You see, I am in New Hampshire, at Apple Hill, a.k.a Bat Shack Camp. Every summer I come to New Hampshire to perform and coach at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music. Usually, as far as this blog goes, Apple Hill is veiled in secrecy because I don’t like to announce to the interwebs that I am out of town. But this year I very cleverly got my friend Dinesh and his dog Nigel to housesit. (At some point last year I acquired so many plants that I now require a housesitter in order to feel comfortable leaving for more than a few days. I know. Redonk.) I feel quite sure that my house will remain safe and snug-as-a-bug under their watchful eye.

Don't try to steal my plants, burglers. This guy will tear your throat out.

I make a lot of jokes about the extreme nature-y situation of Apple Hill (I’ll be frank, Apple Hill is one small step away from camping, and camping is one small step away from hell), but this is truly one of my most treasured annual personal and musical experiences. The truth is that I love it here. Without fail, every single year I come away from Apple Hill inspired to be a braver, more emotionally generous person. I genuinely cherish this time.

But.

But….

BUT!

BUT THIS YEAR THE SABRES INVITED ME OVER TO HANG OUT WITH TED BLACK, AND I CANNOT STOP THROWING TANTRUMS AND STOMPING MY FEET ABOUT THE UNFAIRNESS OF IT ALL. WHY ARE ALL THE COOLEST THINGS HAPPENING AT THE SAME TIME? A TYPICAL YEAR IS FULL OF TOTALLY BORING STRETCHES WHERE NOTHING INTERESTING HAPPENS AT ALL. YOU’RE TELLING ME THAT APPLE HILL AND A SABRES SUMMIT HAVE TO OCCUR DURING THE SAME WEEK? SCREW YOU, UNIVERSE! NOTHING THIS HORRIBLE HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ANYONE IN THE HISTORY OF TIME AND SPACE. I AM THE MOST PATHETICALLY UNHAPPY GIRL IN THE WORLD.

:(

Just kidding. (Mostly)

Skipping Apple Hill was out of the question on a personal level (not to mention the contract I signed, making me legally obligated to participate), so, I had to decline the Sabres’ invitation. I know. Sad.

But.

The whole thing really got me thinking. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the Blogger Summit, and what I’d ask Ted Black if I could attend. I’ve really thought about this blog, and why I write it, and all the ways it’s enriched my life. And I’m not going to lie, the Summit has renewed my sense of blogging urgency. It turns out that the mere idea of, “Holy crap, the Sabres are paying attention to bloggers now,” is a powerful motivator. Thanks to this summit, I feel a new burst of energy for blogging, and I’m sure every Sabres blogger in town feels the same way. I’m really happy and excited for the future of the Sabres blogosphere.

While I’m so so (SO! SOOOOO SOSOSOSO! ) sorry I can’t be there, I absolutely know the blogosphere will be well represented by some wonderful people. I hope the event is a smashing success and fun for all involved.

[Private to those attending: The first blogger who casually refers to Ryan Miller as "Crunchy" during the summit will receive my eternal respect AND a crisp $100 bill from me as a reward.]

Have fun, Sabres bloggers! (And please, talk me up to Ted if you get the chance.)

One Day At A Time

In an ongoing effort to regain control of my Sabres fandom and to eliminate my negative reaction to other people’s reactions, I’ve decided to take a short sabbatical from Twitter.  I don’t know how long it will actually last, but my goal is a week.  And as pathetic as this sounds, I think the chances of me making it a week without Twitter are slim.

My name is Katebits, and I’m addicted to Twitter.  Like, actually addicted.  (I may or may not be twitching every time I write the word, “Twitter”.)

Before we go any further, let me just say something right now- I can just HEAR all the anti-Twitter people, licking their chops, ready to dive into the comments of this post to tell me that, even though they’ve never used it, “TWITTER IS STOOPID!  I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU ATE FOR LUNCH!”  Now look, as much as I value your opinions, I’m respectfully asking you guys to just save it for the, “I Hate Twitter” message boards, or where ever it is that you hang out online.  (Seriously though… where do you go?  And can I come?  It’s going to be boring without Twitter.)

Twitter is NOT stupid.  Twitter is amazing, and I love it.  This experiment isn’t an indictment of Twitter, it’s just me saying, “SHUT THE EFF UP ABOUT WHAT YOU ATE FOR LUNCH, YOU IDIOTS!”

Heh.  Juuuust kidding.

I truly mean it when I say that I love Twitter. And you know what? For some reason I do care what you ate for lunch.

I’m just following a hunch.  I suspect there might be some value in turning down the volume on the Sabres chatter.  I’m all about maximizing my Sabres experience, you see.

Basically, this is an experiment to find out if I enjoy the Sabres a little bit more without the instant barrage of reaction that Twitter provides.  Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the Sabres chatter, and even more troubling, I’ve been surprised by how difficult it is for me to turn away.  It’s one thing to think, “You know, maybe I could do without the constant criticism of Ryan Miller on Twitter,” and it’s quite another to realize that for some reason I apparently can’t do without it.  I think I read about 45,00,00000,000,00,0 tweets a day about the Sabres.

My hope is that without Twitter I’ll be able to take the energy I’ve been spending on being irked by other people’s opinions, and devote it entirely to being comically irked about the Sabres.  I’m also hoping that not using Twitter will improve my blogging.  One thing that is absolutely undeniable about Twitter is that it’s changed the way I blog.  I frequently just blurt things out on twitter that, with a little more effort, could be fleshed out into a decent post. 

Here is an example of stuff I reflexively tried to tweet in the time it took me to write this blog post:

Katebits: How is it possible that BOTH the Canes and the NYR are playing again tonight?  Aren’t we going to have, like, eleventy billion games in hand on them?

Katebits: The creepiest thing about boxed wine is how, in order to get the last glass out, you have to take the plastic sack out of the box and squeeze it like an udder.

Katebits: I ate three pieces of string cheese and a pickle for lunch today.

Obviously, all of these things could have made FINE blog posts.  ….*shifty eyes*

Anyway, my point is this: I’m quitting Twitter for a week, but I hope we can still be friends.  Please don’t forget about me while I’m gone.  And PLEASE, if you happen to notice that President Obama (he follows me for some reason) has sent me a tweet asking for my help with a viola/hockey-blogging espionage mission, PLEASE email me to tell me to check my @replies.

(Final Confession: I’m tempted to allow myself to log into Twitter once a day in order to link to my new blog posts, but I suspect that that’s a slippery slope.  It’s difficult to imagine actually just leaving one link on Twitter and then getting out of there. What do you guys think?  Is that cheating?  Maybe it would help if you guys promise to visit my blog even without a link on Twitter.  OH GOD, I’M NEVER GOING TO MAKE IT!)

Point/Counterpoint: Sabrez-Style

Point: The current state of the Sabres has left me unable to blog.  I am suffering from the worst kind of blogging-block these days.  I try and try and TRY to write (I swear to you, I’M TRYING), but every post seems overworked, uninteresting, and lacking a clear perspective.

I’m in some new stage of my Sabres fandom.  This terrible start to the season (and all the resultant disillusionment) is something I haven’t ever really experienced.  A few days ago at work my friend Roman (a longtime hockey fan, and someone whose good attitude about sports I really admire) asked me if I would be in danger of losing interest in the Sabres if their suckiness continued.  (I’m pretty sure Roman did not actually use the word “suckiness”.  That sounds more like me than it sounds like Roman.  But you get the drift.)  My answer was a resounding “NO.”  I’m in no danger of losing interest.  In fact, if anything, I’m getting increasingly fascinated.  Oh, it’s a morbid fascination alright, but I can’t turn away.

The difference now is that I’ve withdrawn a bit emotionally.  The overwrought hysteria that has been the trademark of this blog for three years is just not there right now.  Who am I if I’m not a wailing lunatic?!  How can I write about the Sabres if I lack the emotional passion to insist the world is about to end every time they lose twice in a row?  Where will the entertaining blog rants come from, if, in the end all I feel after watching them cough up a two goal lead is, “The Sabres are really not good at this, are they?”  And if I can’t get worked up about the losses, what if I’m turning into one of those dead-on-the-inside fans that can’t enjoy WINS?!  PLEASE JUST KILL ME NOW IF THAT’S WHERE THIS IS ALL INEVITABLY LEADING.

You can probably see why trying to blog about the Sabres has left me feeling a little confused.

Counterpoint: Dude.  I need to get over myself.

I should just force myself to write about the Sabres.  Maybe I could come up with a cheesy little device like “point/counterpoint” which would acknowledge that I’m not entirely sure what to think about any of this because for some annoying reason I’m seeing both sides of the coin right now.  That way, if everything I write turns out to be totally stupid in hindsight, I can always be all, “Well, whatever.  What do I know,” all breezy-like.  Insisting that I didn’t know what I was talking about while simultaneously putting forth strongly held opinions worked to keep me out of dicey “accountability” trouble for YEARS on this blog.

Who cares if what I write is wrong.  It’s all about cleverly hedging my bets.

_______

Point: I think Lindy was right to bench Rivet. Rivet has probably been the Sabres’ worst defenseman all season, and Lindy has repeatedly claimed that he’ll play his best players and sit the rest.  Benching the captain sends a message that Lindy intends to hold individuals responsible.

But the real reason I’m glad Lindy benched Rivet is that I’ve always hated the notion that Lindy would never bench a captain.  Apparently way back when Lindy himself was a captain he got benched, and it pissed him off something fierce.  Of all the possible excuses not to make a roster move, the fact that Lindy got his feelings hurt twenty years ago, seems like one of the worst.  I wasn’t a fan back in 1989 when Lindy was benched, so I have no idea what the circumstance surrounding that benching were, but it’s entirely possible that even though it was a TOTALLY crummy experience for Lindy Ruff, it was a still a good move for the team.  I have sympathy for how difficult it must have been for Lindy to put his personal feeling aside and bench Rivet, but I really respect that he did it.

Counterpoint: Benching Rivet seems to have had zero positive effect on the team.  They lost miserably both nights that Rivet sat in the press box.  (Full disclosure: I was working on Saturday and because of the 8pm start in Dallas, the BPO intermission lined up perfectly with the 1st intermission of the game.  Because of this, I literally did not see a second of that game.  I’m not a glutton for punishment, so I haven’t watched a single highlight or postgame interview.  My basis for calling the loss “miserable” is the score, and the score alone.  Getting shutout 4-0 by Andrew Raycroft looks pretty miserable to me, but maybe there was something positive about that game that the score alone cannot convey.)

The fact that Lindy benched Rivet and then the team responded by being even MORE disheveled and stupid-penalty-taking might be damning evidence that absolutely nothing Lindy says or does is getting through to these guys.  In my opinion, being all bold and bench-y always makes a coach look a little desperate, but sometimes it works, and in those cases the ends justify the means.  But when it doesn’t work, benching the captain shines a big ol’ spotlight on the crazytown that is thriving inside your locker room.

_______

Point: I ran out of Halloween candy last night, so there are no leftovers sitting around the house.

Counterpoint: I ran out of Halloween candy last night, so there are no leftovers sitting around the house.

_______

Point: Not to pile on Lindy too much here, but I thought his public musings about Jason Pominville’s failed post-concussion memory tests were a little irresponsible.  (In case you didn’t see Lindy’s comments, he basically wondered out loud if Pominville’s inability to match his baseline memory scores might not be a symptom of his concussion, but rather a sign that he aced the living hell out of the test as a rookie.)

This issue is complicated because no one seems to understand concussions, but I have to think that the last thing these players need is an NHL coach implying “HE PERFECTLY FINE” when actual doctors are saying he’s not fully recovered.  Not to mention the fact that every young player now knows that if you want an easier time getting back into the lineup after a concussion, you should play dumb when they ask you to draw a bunch of shapes on a piece of paper as a rookie.

I can understand the frustration of not having Pominville back in the line-up (particularly when Pommers himself says he feels totally fine), but I still think Lindy should have said something along the lines of, “We want Pominville back in the line-up as soon as possible, but we don’t want to endanger his longterm health.  It’s important that we don’t send him back in there too soon.”  If Pominville is still failing these tests a month after he first claims to be symptom free, then sure, it might be time to question the testing methods, but for now I think Lindy Ruff and Jason Pominville should just keep their mouths shut and trust the doctors.

Counterpoint: The testing method does seem a little archaic.  Why don’t they test the players more often?  How come Jason Pominville hasn’t taken this test since he was a rookie?  Isn’t it possible that he’s a little mentally slower for a variety of totally normal, non-concussion related reasons?  Doesn’t he have a baby at home? Maybe he doesn’t get enough sleep and that’s why he’s dumber now than he was six years ago.  Wouldn’t it be easier to accurately measure Pommers pre and post-concussion if they had done additional baseline testing during training camp this season?

If treating players for concussions is starting to rely more on testing and less on how the player actually reports that he is feeling (and because of stories like Marc Savard’s, I think we have to consider that it really might be best to be distrustful of what a player is saying about his health), shouldn’t the testing be a little more rigorous than one baseline test as a rookie?


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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

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