Archive for the 'I Play The Viola' Category

10 Things

If you’re like me, for the last few weeks you’ve been all, “Hey, I should write something on my Sabres blog,” but then you put it off for a few days, and even though all sorts of Sabre-y stuff happened you KEPT not writing about it, until it became a “thing.” Not writing on your blog was just LOOMING over each day, but you STILL did not write on your blog. Eventually all your blog post fragments stacked up into a giant pile of “THINGS THAT WOULD’VE MADE TIMELY BLOG POSTS TWO WEEK AGO,” and you got overwhelmed and felt sort of like taking a nap instead of blogging. So, you were just like, “Eff it. It’s nap o’clock. Zzzz.”

In an effort to get back on the blogging horse, here’s a post that I’ve pieced together from stuff I’ve written over the course of two weeks. Disjointed and outdated blog posts are fun! Right? …RIGHT?!

1. I’m still pretty firmly in the, “Don’t get your hopes up because everything about this season REEKS of 10th place,” camp, but still, it was SUCH a delight to watch the Sabres cream the Bruins on Tuesday and then come from behind against the Stars. A DELIGHT. All I really want for the rest of the season is to enjoy watching them play. There is a very real part of me that enjoys “meaningless” games. I’ve already made my peace with this season, so anything exciting from here on out will be greeted as an added bonus.

A couple of weeks ago I had a passionate conversation with some friends at a game about all the implications of finishing 10th place rather than finishing last place. I think everyone with a brain can agree that in the grand scheme of things if you’re going to miss the playoffs there is a real benefit to being truly bad- like, last place bad – but I think we can also agree that as it’s unfolding, a 10th place season is at least 8xs more fun than a 15th place season.

When the Sabres are winning we are happy. That’s just how it is and that’s how it should be. Even if the end result is 10th place.

2. All that said, I am starting to dare to dream about an epic run to make the playoffs. Hope has definitely begun to creep in. We have reached the part of any almost-lost season where every single win and especially every single loss creates a ridiculous amount of emotional response.

After a win, I go to Sports Club Stats, and check on their chances to makes the playoffs.

We finally got a piece of the pie. Unfortunately that pie was Ville Leino, but whatever. The Sabres won, the graph is moving upwards. We rejoice!

I go to Sports Club Stats after every loss as well, but the reaction is sliiiiiightly more dramatic.

Every time the Sabres lose it’s pretty much the saddest song in the world. And it will remain this way until the season ends or the Sabres are eliminated from playoff contention. Whichever comes first.

3. After the Bruins game, Ian Ott (Sabres PR Extraordinaire) tweeted this:

Say what?

We can now update this stat to 16-8-1 with six of their top seven defensemen playing. Is it possible that is WAS the injuries?! That stat doesn’t excuse the suckiness of players like Stafford or Roy, but still, it’s an eye opener. The team that looked irredeemable three weeks ago suddenly looks truly capable. They got healthy and Ryan Miller got good again. Turns out they’re not chopped liver after all.

I suspect that the truth of this team lies somewhere in between “chopped liver” and “contender.” I’m honestly not sure where. What I AM sure of is that if they keep playing well, Darcy will use injuries as an excuse not to make any significant changes at the deadline. Be prepared, Sabres fans.

And while we’re at it, we might as well keep an open mind. Maaaaaybe they’re actually good.

4. Derek Roy has to be injured, right? I know we like to bag on him and act like he’s worthless in every way, but until he got injured last season he was a very reliable points getter for many consecutive years. It’s hard to believe that he won’t have a bounce-back season next year. He’s definitely not totally worthless. I strongly suspect that Roy-Z will remain a Sabre throughout this year and next. Trading Roy now would require trading low, and the mere thought probably gives Darcy hives and facial tics.

5. You know who might actually be totally useless? Drew Stafford.

6. If I’m fed up with Drew Stafford, I’m still remarkably patient with Ville Leino. I think Ville Leino is an interesting character. Yeah, his contract is horrible, but I can’t quite shake the feeling that he’s somehow important. (Like good-important. Not necessarily “his contract will sink them”-important.) The Sabres have had some undeniable chemistry issues this season, and there’s something about Ville Leino that seems like maybe he hasn’t fit in with the locker room. On one hand, you obviously don’t want an overpaid new guy to throw off locker room chemistry, but on the OTHER hand, I kind of like the idea of Ville Leino smirking all over the “core.”

When the injuries started piling up and the team started to free fall in the standings, once again, we were faced with the hard truth about the “core” (Miller, Pominville, Vanek, Gaustad, Stafford, and Roy). There is something missing, something lacking, about this core. There just is. It doesn’t mean they’re bad players, or bad guys, or bad Sabres… but they are a less-than-ideal core. I don’t see how it’s even debatable at this point.

It’s kind of interesting to me that the media and fans still refer to the same six guys as “the core.” Who knows where Ryan Miller is going to be after next season, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Ville Leino and Christian Ehrhoff will be right here in Buffalo. If we, as observers of the team, have a hard time accepting Ville Leino as a “core” team member, imagine how it felt in the locker room.

I can’t quite explain it, but to me, Ville Leino seems like he’s at the center of some type of team mentality shift. Regardless of whether or not Darcy makes trade deadline moves, the “core” of this team has in fact already changed. It’s not just Miller, Vanek, Pominville, Roy, Stafford, and Gaustad anymore. Ville Leino is at the core now too. (I know. Scary. But really, is he any scarier than Drew Stafford? I say no.) Ville Leino and how he fits in is very interesting to me.

For some insane reason, I remain hopeful about #23.

7. OBVIOUSLY, the most pressing issue that I haven’t yet addressed is the fact that a Buffalo Sabre (Jordan Leopold, you wily SCAMP!) literally took out Lindy Ruff.  I’ve make a lot of jokes around here about coach killing, but… whoa.

(The fact that I’m only writing about this now is a real indication of how effed up my blogging rhythm is these day. Three years ago, I would’ve written about TEN THOUSAND post about just this topic.)

8. In light of his significant injuries, I thought it was a little odd that Lindy did the postgame press conference after the Bruins game. It seemed like the media really enjoyed talking to him, and Lindy was certainly entertaining that night, but there was something about it that made me say, “… huh.”

Part of me thought, come ON Lindy, just let James Patrick be the head coach for one night.

I have no idea what part of Lindy’s personality compelled him to be there (Super hard worker? Control freak? Tough guy? Paranoia? His true love of hockey? Martyr? A “team first” mentality?) but if you ask me, the sane thing to do when you break three ribs is to sit on the couch in comfy outfit, enjoy the Vicodin, and trust that everything at work is going to be there for you when you get back. Obviously there are a bunch of factors involved with his situation that I couldn’t begin to comprehend, but the whole injury has put Lindy in a different light than I’m used to seeing him. Because of the injury, Lindy has looked vulnerable this week.

It’s interesting and different to see Lindy this way, but I hope he feels better soon. I wish him a fast recovery.

In one way, Lindy has looked vulnerable, but in another way…

9. Jordan Leopold took the concept of “coach killing” to preposterous new levels, and yet, he STILL FAILED TO FINISH THE JOB. Lindy, the most unkillable coach in the history of the NHL, has now survived an actual physical attack. Lindy did not survive unscathed, but I think there is reason to believe his rib injury will only add to his power. Frankly, I don’t see how Lindy can ever be stopped now, and I worry that this brush with death has infused Lindy with supernatural immortality. He’s like a vampire now. Surely there IS a way to kill him, but it’s probably incredibly complicated and involves some type of Lord of the Rings-style journey to collect an all-powerful orb/ring/horcrux.

Not only do I believe Lindy Ruff will NEVER be fired from his job, he’s also probably also about to stop aging. And showing up in mirrors.

10. Having nothing to do with the Sabres:

My viola-playing BPO BFF (Janz) is the type of guy to exaggerate things for the sake of a good story. (I love this quality in a person, so trust me, I’m not criticizing.) Anyway, many years ago we were playing some Tchaikovsky, and somehow Janz and I got to talking about how Tchaikovsky was pretty crazy (he was kind of a piece of work) and Janz said, “You know, he used to eat his scores.” When I was all, “WHAAAAT?!” Janz said, “Yeah, I can’t remember where I heard this, but if Tchaikovsky didn’t like the piece, he would eat it.

This was a level of crazy that I had not previously attributed to Tchaikovsky.

I was skeptical, but I was willing to believe the story, mostly because it led to all kinds of jokes. Now whenever we’re playing Tchaikovsky and we’re not totally in love with the piece, or maybe the rehearsal feels a little slow, or we’re just feeling kind of cranky one of us will inevitably say, “I kind of wish Tchaikovsky had eaten this score.” Yesterday at work Janz pretended to take a tiny bite out of the corner of our Piano Concerto No. 1 part. This is good solid fun.

Janz and I have friendly-squabbled for years about whether or not Tchaikovsky actually ate his scores. I accused him of spinning a tall tale, and he insisted that, “No, I swear. It’s true. I heard it somewhere. I think from an old music history professor. Tchaikovsky ate his scores!” A few months ago I spent a good hour scouring the internet looking for even one reference to “eating the score,” to no avail. Later on, Janz did his own research and found the same. Sadly, although this joke that has stood the test of time, I don’t think it’s true that Tchaikovsky ate his scores.

BUT, from now on, because of this blog entry, there WILL be a reference to Tchaikovsky eating his scores on the internet. My dream is that years from now one of you will casually mention to a friend that while you can’t remember where you heard it, you remember hearing that Tchaikovsky used to eat scores that he didn’t like. And then years after THAT, the person that you told that story to will do an internet search and find this blog.

Basically, I’m trying to start a rumor that Tchaikovsky used to eat his scores. Pass it on.

Something Random and Fun

Look at this! It’s Guy Boucher conducting the Florida Orchestra as they record a new anthem for the Lightning! And the whole orchestra is wearing jerseys!* It’s the cutest thing ever!

My friend Andrew plays in the french horn in Florida, and he reported that Guy Boucher was “one of the more charming conductors I’ve worked with.” (To be fair, most conductors aren’t that charming.)

I happen to know of a certain Buffalo-based orchestra who would be quite eager to work under the baton of Maestro Ruff. AND we just rehearsed the hard part of Sabres Dance the other day, so we’ve got that ditty all spiffed up and ready to go. Call us, Lindy!

*The jerseys remind me of a funny story from the limo excursion. After we dropped off Vanek and Ehrhoff at their cars, John Sinclair had their jerseys folded up on the seat next to him in the limo as we drove back to the arena. I became quite curious about those jerseys. I asked a ton of questions about the jerseys and what would happen to them next (“Is there, like, a closet somewhere in the arena where you keep jerseys that you use for promotional stuff?” “Is that jersey technically now considered ‘game worn'”? “Is there any chance Vanek every wears that jersey again?”) juuuuust in case the answer would be, “These jerseys will probably clutter up my office for the next two months. Why? Do you want them?”

Sadly, “Why? Do you want them?” was not the answer.

Meet Matt Phillips, Super Violist.

I’ve known Matt Phillips, a violist in the Buffalo Philharmonic, for about ten years now. For the first five years I knew him, he was basically just an ordinary violist like the rest of us. Matt was certainly never visibly out of shape, it’s just that he was no more or less athletic than your average classical musician.

At some point along the way, things changed. At some point, Matt started jogging. I say “at some point” because from my perspective, one day Matt was just a regular, non-runner like most people, and the next day he was… running marathons. It seriously seemed like it happened overnight. Even now, if you ask Matt, “So, let me get this straight. One day, out of the blue, you just started running extremely long distances?” he’s just like, “Yeah, pretty much.”

Matt is obviously really good at running. He’s also really good at the viola. He seems to be some new breed. A “Super Violist”, if you will.

First he will try to defeat you by playing the viola, and if somehow that doesn't work, he will beat you in a foot race. Enemies, beware.

Now whenever Matt takes a day off from work we all assume that he’s running a race somewhere. When he returns to work he’s always extremely nonchalant about whatever ridiculous feat of strength he’s accomplished.  I don’t know much about racing, but Matt always seems to place very high, and sometimes he even wins the race. (My favorite story of Matt winning a race is when he won the Erie Philharmonic’s 5k. Orchestras are very supportive of one another, because as an industry there is absolutely no benefit to being competitive. That said, it’s still amusing when someone in one orchestra wins the 5K of another orchestra.)

Why am I writing about this on my hockey blog? I’m glad you asked!

Yesterday, Matt ran in the “Hamburg Character Chase”. If I’m reading the race results correctly, he placed 5th overall, and 1st in his age group. That’s some pretty good running, Matt!

Here are the results. I’ve blocked out most of the other names because I don’t know if it’s kosher to re-post race results, but please scroll down for an amusing surprise.

It’s official. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has defeated the Buffalo Sabres on the field of athletics. When the Sabres feel they are ready to challenge us to a Battle of the Orchestras, we will be ready to defend our turf.  For now… advantage, BPO.

Your move, Sabres.

 

 

6 Things

1. THE SABRES WON!  THE SABRES WON!  THE SABRES WON!

2. I have to admit I’ve been a little less of a Miss-I-Heart-The-Sabres-Pants and a LOT more of a Miss-Arms-Crossed-With-Disapproval-Pants this season than in past seasons.  I don’t feel guilty about this in the slightest, but I DO feel sorry for myself that it didn’t even OCCUR to me to run down to the break room after our concert ended last night to watch OT and the shootout.  In my defense, the BPO had a post-concert reception of cupcakes and champagne, so I had delicious treats on the brain.  But regardless of the available desserts, it still surprised me when some of my hockey-loving colleagues showed up at the reception a few minutes late and asked, “WHERE WERE YOU?” My answer was, “What are you talking about?  I was here, eating cupcakes!  Where were YOU?!”  It literally did not cross my mind to go downstairs and watch the end of the game. I was blinded by cupcakes, I think.

I’m sorry about that, because I think I really would’ve enjoyed the end of that game.  Even the “On the Fly” highlights made my heart trill a little bit.  I don’t think I’ll ever stop being surprised by how something as relatively minor as a single shootout victory in November can put a little spring back into my step.

Everything is just better when the Sabres win, you know?  Let’s win more!

3. It’s awfully nice to know that even while wallowing in the depths of organizational despair, the Sabres are still capable of sticking it to the Leafs.  We’ve still got it, baby!  Just punch me in the face if I ever lose the ability to stop and smell the humiliating Leafs defeat roses after a game like that.

4. This weekend the BPO played two concerts with a guest conductor named Leon Botstein.  Botstein is an incredibly interesting person in that he’s a college president (Bard college), and an accomplished conductor (Music Director of the American Symphony Orchestra, and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra), and an all-around smarty-pants famous intellectual (you can see him playing the role of “intellectual” here on the Colbert Report).  In addition to his fine conducting, the thing I enjoyed the most about him this week is that he manages to convey both a dazzling intelligence and a grounded friendliness.  “Super-mega-smart” and “friendly” are two qualities which are rarely found in one person in my less-than-super-mega-smart opinion.

This afternoon Botstein did something that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a conductor do in a performance.  He turned around and addressed the audience between movements of the symphony (Prokofiev 3).

As many of you probably know, many classical pieces are composed in “movements” (meaning a larger work is divided into several smaller pieces).  In most cases, symphonic movements are totally separate, stand alone works.  At some point during fairly recent musical history (I want to say probably within the last 100 years) it became customary for the audience to hold their applause until all of the movements have been performed.

This custom has led to a weird and uncomfortable bit of classical music snobbery.  Not every audience member knows the unwritten “no applause between movements” rule, so they’ll applaud at the end of the first movement, but then they’ll quickly stop as they realize that not everyone is clapping.  Somehow, clapping has become “incorrect” at certain times during concerts.  It’s goofy.  In my opinion (and if I may be so bold as to speak for most professional musicians), applause at the end of a movement is perfectly fine.  I HATE that audience members are made to feel stupid for clapping.  (Incidentally, in my opinion, the absolute BEST applause is the applause we periodically get when the audience is moved to clap in spite of the “no applause between movements” rule.  Every once in a while you get the sense that the audience is just like, “That was sweet.  I’m clapping, damn it.”  That’s my favorite.)

Anyhooch, today we were playing Prokofiev 3, which is not performed very often, and could certainly be considered harsh (it’s very loud) and less accessible than, say, a Beethoven symphony.  After the first movement, there was a smattering of applause.  Now, I have no idea if this applause was from people who didn’t know NOT to applaud, or from people who just really liked the first movement and wanted to clap, but Botstein did something that I REALLY liked.  First, he looked at the orchestra, raised his eyebrows and smiled.  Then, he turned around to the audience and said, “We like that you liked it.”

This was such a simple gesture to the audience, but one that felt very generous and almost impishly conspiratorial.  The “no applause between movements” rule is…weird, and musicians DO like it when the audience likes what we play.  If I could change one thing about the classical music business it might be to abolish the rigidity of the “no applause between movements” rule, and replace it with a “applaud if and only when you really like what you just heard” rule.

The performance today was an interesting end to a good week at work.

5. Sometimes it really trips me out that I have a job where I literally get a round of applause at the end of my work day.  What kind of lucky girl am I?

6. Okay back to the Sabres for a second- How great was it that Enroth and Ennis were the heroes?  I approved of Lindy playing Enroth against the Bruins and then I was skeptical when I heard he planned to play him again last night (shows what I know).  It really does add a spark when a young guy comes up big in a tough situation.  It will be interesting to see how Lindy handles Lalime and Enroth if Miller is still injured this week.  The backup goalie situation seems fraught with hidden opportunity and pitfalls.

I don’t undersatnd why Lalime was re-signed if Lindy has no faith in him, but I can’t really blame Lindy for not having much faith in Laime.  The whole thing is curious.  I guess we’ll see.

4 Things

1. Guess what?  I’m kinda (just kinda) in the mood to think about the Sabres for some reason. I think it’s because tonight the BPO played a concert down at the harbor and I spent the whole evening looking at the arena and thinking, “I like going to the arena.”

2. I haven’t said boo about Jordan Leopold or Rob Niedermayer yet.

Here goes:

Jordan Leopold

Here’s what I keep thinking about old J-Leo: We as Sabres fans are desperate for something exciting.  We want flash, and romance.  We want a swashbuckler to ride down the sails with his knife and rescue us from the monotony of this ship.  We’re melancholy.  We’re hungry.  We’ve got ants in our pants.  We’re about to start dating the sketchy guy who hangs out behind the 7-11 in the hopes that he’ll throw us on the back of his motorcycle and elevate our heart rate, even if it’s only for a few minutes.  We’re bored and getting bored-er.  We need a hero, but we’re not stupid enough to expect Darcy to fetch us a hero, so now we’d just settle for a bad boy.

Jordan Leopold is not that man.  Thank goodness.  Because bad boys are a-holes.

Jordan Leopold may not be the obviously sexy choice, but usually “obviously sexy” turns out to be “totally lame”.  Furthermore, sometimes those solid, good guys get exponentially sexier when you least expect it.  We’ll give him a chance, if only to please our mother.  You never know.

Rob Niedermayer

First of all, I can’t believe I have to learn how to spell “Niedermayer”.  That’s a hard one (that’s what she said).

I think the most important thing to know about Rob Niedermayer is that he BY FAR the more attractive Niedermayer.  Yes, yes, I know….Scott is one of the best players to ever play the game, and he had one of the best playoff beards of all-time.  Blah blah blah.  Whatevs.  Listen to me.  Rob is better (but not at hockey) for the Sabres.

Rob is a grown-up now, but unlike the other grown-ups on the teams (Grier and Rivet), I suspect that once upon a time Rob was a hot mess, ala Tim Connolly and Derek Roy.   My dream is that Rob can come in here and be a good intermediary personality, kind of like Montador.  Rob’s still kind of cool (he’s definitely not an old fogy like Griersie) but he’s also outgrown his dumbass phase.  He’s a matured dumbass.  Maybe, just maybe, our immature dumbasses will listen to him.

(I totally made all of that up, but in the ten minutes it took me to write it, I completely convinced myself that it’s true.  I love it when that happens.  I also just decided that I’m not going to learn how to spell “Neidarmeyar”.  Instead, I’m just going to call him “Rob” all year.)

Welcome to Buffalo, Rob!

3. Look at this funny marking in our part from “Star Wars”.  I’ve played Star Wars a million times, and this marking still always amuses me.

Nerdy and fun.

(Can we also take a minute to appreciate what a nice picture this is?  I took this picture with my phone.)

4.I have some EXTREMELY important news.  Kevin (who used to write BfloBlog and now just yells at us to get off his lawn via twitter)’s son (SonOne) is writing a food blog.  BuffaloKid (SonOne’s nom de plume) aspires to be a food critic.  He’s ten years old, and his food interests include Mighty Taco, pizza, and fish.

I’m pretty sure that this is going to be one of the greatest blogs of all time, so if you want to be able to say “I was there when BuffaloKid started it all,” you’d better hightail it to Buffalo Kid Food.

If you ask me, there aren’t many things in this world more charming than a child blogging about Mighty Taco.

I’m In Florida

I’m neck deep in traveling, and working, and eating peel n’ eat shrimp on a regular basis, so I am WAY out of the Sabres-loop.  I was vaguely aware that there was a game tonight, and when I checked the score at intermission, I saw that it was 3-0.

When I checked the score at the end of the concert it was 3-2 with two minutes remaining, so I assume the Sabres made it interesting.

There was some talk of the BPO playing Sabre Dance as an encore on this tour, and I STRONGLY believe that had we played it tonight (and it would have coincided perfectly with the last two minutes of the game), the Sabres would have won.

Our bad.

BPO Blog!

Tonight I need to take a little break from my Katebits-persona, and invite y’all on over to a new blog, where, if you are so inclined, you can get a glimpse of my BPOKate persona.  BPOKate is pretty much the same as Katebits, except that instead of talking about hockey, I’ll be talking about the BPO Florida tour, and instead of tomfoolery and swearing, there will be tomfoolery and ABSOLUTELY NO swearing.  This is an officially sanctioned BPO blog, so I suppose I’ll have to be somewhat dignified, but who are we kidding?  There is only so much dignity where I’m involved.

On Thursday the BPO embarks on an eight-day, five-concert tour of Florida.  Obviously, this is awesome for a variety of reasons (not the least of which is that I get to go to Florida on Thursday WOOO!), but it’s awesome for the internet because you get yet ANOTHER way to track my every move.  God forbid I leave the house without blogging every last detail.

So, if you find yourself even remotely curious about the triumphs and shenanigans of an orchestra tour, please stop by The BPO Florida Friends Tour Blog.

If you prefer your BPO tour news Twitter-style, you can follow me or a number of my truly funny and awesome colleagues.   BPOKate, BPODaniel, BPODinesh, or BPOJanz.

I’m not sure what the tour will mean for my hockey blogging.  You guys know how I am.  I might find a way to watch every game and blog every day, or you might not hear boo from me until next week.  We’ll see!


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

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

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