Archive for the 'Things' 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 Disjointed and outdated blog posts are fun!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.

6 Things: Spoonful of Sugar Edition

If you’re like me you, last night you went to your orchestra rehearsal and carefully shielded yourself from the Sabres score so that you could race home, pour yourself a nice glass of boxed wine, and crochet granny squares while watching the game on DVR delay. You watched the first period and thought, “The Sabres are so scrappy and fun tonight! Yaaaaay! This is exactly what Sabres fans need, a nice easy win. So what if they gave up a last minute goal in the first period, it’s still 3-1. It’s all good.” Then you poured yourself a second glass of boxed wine, and as soon as the Flyers scored their second goal you thought, “The Sabres are definitely going to lose this game.” And you would’ve been right. Basically at this point Sabres fans would be stupid to expect the Sabres to hold onto a 3-o lead at home.

By the midpoint of the game I was so certain of a Sabres loss that when Drew Stafford scored the late tying goal only part of me said, “WOOOOOOOOO!” The other part was like, “Eff you, Staffy. Don’t score a late tying goal and then expect me to forgive you for everything you’ve put me through. I can’t even look at you right now.”

Yep. It’s like that these days.

After I finished the game at 11:30pm, in an effort to be less cranky, I ate half a loaf of olive bread. Unsurprisingly (in retrospect), that didn’t make me feel better at all. When I woke up this morning I had a stomach-ache AND I still had a resounding sense of “hmph”-in-my-heart in regards to the Sabres. So, I was forced into my plan of last resort. I had to look at this picture:

I maintain that it's impossible to look at this picture and remain grouchy about something as stupid as hockey. Especially if you add a little baby rhino voice in your head that's singing a song with lyrics something like, "I am a tiny rhino, Doo dee doo dee doooo. I've got hay between my rhino toes. Tra la la la laaaa"

I’m not sure why looking at cute pictures of animals makes me feel better about stupid stuff, but it does. It’s weird because in real life I’m sort of lukewarm on animals. I like them, but they’re often smelly and they leave fur on your clothes and your couch and they’re rarely as cute in reality as they are in picture form.

In the absence of rhinos, baby giraffes will do in a pinch.

Even though I’m pretty disinterested in thinking seriously about the Sabres right now, I do feel some obligation to discuss the Sabres on my Sabres blog, so I’m going to give this a try. But let’s face it, asking Sabres fans to read blog posts about the Sabres in addition to watching the Sabres the play hockey is a pretty big favor at this point.

I’ve tried this before, and it worked pretty well, so we’re going to try again. If you read something that you find upsetting or too frustrating to bear, please QUICKLY look at one of the helpful animal photos that accompany this post. (And I should admit here that all these pictures were lifted from Cute Overload. I canNOT recommend Cute Overload highly enough for all your make-me-feel-better-about-something-stupid needs.)

Let’s begin:

Don't think too hard about the Sabres' home record. Instead, look at this small, grumpy-looking rabbit.

1. The Sabres SUCK ASS at home. Of all the ways a team can be bad, consistently melting down in front of your home crowd miiiight be the worst possible way. In an ideal world the Sabres and their fans would sign up for some group therapy so that we can figure out why our relationship is so dysfunctional, but sadly, this is not an ideal world. As much as I wish I could convince everyone in FNC to communicate with the team only use “I statements” when watching a Sabres game (accusations never work, people!), I know it can’t be done. (ex: “Marc-Andre Gragnani, when you pass the puck directly to Claude Giroux during overtime, I feel deep sadness in my soul.”) Consistently losing at home has taken its toll. There is almost no trust between the team and the fans right now. The team can fix this by ripping off about six home wins in a row. Other than being nicer and hoping that niceness somehow makes the team less spazzy, the fans are pretty helpless. The only solution is big beers, and lots of ‘em.

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2. It feels like all we ever do now is argue about who should be suspended, and for how long. Personally I take no enjoyment from this conversation. I’m not sure what the solution is here because there is just no way we’re ever all going to agree on everything Shanahan does. There is literally no way. Here are some of my answers to the burning questions surrounding suspensions and non-suspension:

Do I think some of Shanahan’s decisions have been totally wackadoo? Absoluuuutely.
Do I think Shanahan is better than Colin Campbell? Sure.
Do I think there is a vast conspiracy against the Sabres? Uh, no.
Do I think the Bruins get special treatment? Oh for fuck’s sake. I don’t know. Maybe. Probably not. This is stupid.
Do I think it’s open season on goalies Ryan Miller? Hard to say. kinda
Do I think Lucic is a tool? YES.
Should this dog be suspended for his egregious public digging?

Much like Lucic's hit on Miller, I'm sure this dog didn't mean to do it. NO suspension.

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We live in a world where this super awesome seal exists. The NHL and their hateful playoff scheme cannot take that away from us.

3. The whole league was realigned. I don’t have particularly strong feelings about the realignment (although, I secretly wanted Detroit in our division), but I HATE the current playoff format being bandied about. Please Hockey Gods, DO NOT let this happen. Why do we have to mess with a perfectly good playoff format just because the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg?

I hate the argument that hatred makes for better playoff matchups. That’s stupid. Hatred makes for more hateful playoff matchups, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be more fun or interesting. And why do we want our passion for the playoffs fueled by hate, anyway? I mean, geez. I like smiling. Smiling’s my favorite. I especially like smiling during the playoffs.

Two rounds of playoffs within the division is TOO MUCH.

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4. And about the realignment (and I acknowledge that this is just a minor quibble), but if the NHL winds up calling the new groups “conferences” I’m going to be irked. Those are divisions, NHL.

"The lady said no (to calling them 'conferences'). I'm going to have to ask you to back off, NHL."

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From now on, I'm going to look at this guy instead of watching hockey fights.

5.  This is a difficult topic for me to write about right now, but I feel the need to say something about fighting in hockey.

I was sincerely rattled by the New York Times 3-part series about the life and death of Derek Boogaard. I think this series should be required reading for every hockey fan. Please, please read this story.

I’d prefer not to debate the tactical merits or drawbacks of fighting on the pages of this blog right now, but I will say this:

I’ve spent most of my time as a hockey fan feeling pretty neutral about fighting in the NHL, but this season has really been different for me. The new information about the effects of concussion combined with a broader awareness of the depression and substance abuse problems that many of hockey’s enforcers face has pushed me out of my neutral position. I used to tolerate most hockey fights, and even enjoy a bout or two per season, but now I outright hate it, every time. I took no comfort in the fight between Gaustad and Lucic. None. For me, that fight (and everything leading up to it) was upsetting, and nothing more.

Hockey fighting is a genuinely difficult issue, so here's the back of a panda to help us get through this portion of this blog post.

This issue has really begun to effect my enjoyment of hockey. Maybe this anti-fighting sentiment is something that will come and go in waves for me. Maybe I’ll learn to tolerate fighting again. Maybe more evidence will swing my opinion in a different direction. Maybe I’ll simply find a way to make peace with fighting in hockey. Maybe I’ll stop taking fighting so seriously. I don’t know. But right now, hockey fighting really, really bothers me on a core level.

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6. This has nothing to do with hockey, but here goes:

After a lifetime of indifference towards my physical fitness (or lack thereof), this summer I began to take baby steps towards trying to get into shape. (And I DO mean baby steps. Little baby steps on little baby walks is how I started.) Then about a month ago I joined a gym and started to work with a personal trainer. I’m not sure why my mindset was different this time (I’ve joined gyms before), but for some reason this time I was able to say to myself, “Self, you’re not in shape now, and that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to do this even if you feel stupid at first.”

My problem with gyms in the past has always been that my pride had not allowed me to just be sweaty and out of breath. I hated the feeling of struggling within eyesight of other people. I honestly don’t know what’s changed, but this time I’ve embraced the humility involved with going to a gym. Sure, sometimes I’m kind of embarrassed when I can’t do something, but mostly I can just sort of laugh and think, “Hm. I wonder how I’ve been managing to SIT UPRIGHT all these years with this ridiculous lack of core strength.” Then, I do the plank pose for a few weeks, and I actually see improvement. It’s been pretty cool to feel myself getting stronger.

I guess I’m just saying that going to this gym has been an absolutely wonderful experience for me. If you are someone who struggles to stay fit, I encourage you to keep trying. You just never know when exercising is going to “click” and become something other than a terrible chore.

Today, one minute of plank pose without dying. Tomorrow, the world!

5 Things

1. The other day we were watching the Bills game down in the BPO breakroom (ouch, Bills), and at some point there was a flag down on the field. During the time before the explanation of the penalty, my friend Brett and I had this conversation:

Kate: What’s the flag for?
Brett: I dunno. Maybe it’s a pity flag. The refs just feel bad for the Bill. They tossed them a bone.
Kate: Wouln’t it be funny if the refs had an actual bone they could throw in situations like this? Like, once per game, if they felt the situation was really getting out of hand, they could toss the losing team a bone.
Brett: Yeah, the bone could be good for a one-time 5th down or something.
Kate: We’re… geniuses.

How funny would it be if a referee ACTUALLY TOSSED A LITTLE BONE onto the field? I think it would be REALLY funny. And, the bone would make games like Sunday’s more interesting, because we could sit there and be all, “Come ON, refs! Throw us a bone.”

2. I have instituted a zero tolerance policy for media/blogs/twitter until after Thanksgiving (at least).

A long time ago, during a conversation with a friend about various boys who had wronged us in various ways, one of us said something along the lines of, “I feel like I’ve lost my marbles,” and then the other person said, “You didn’t lose your marbles, you gave your marbles to [boy X]. You need to take your marbles back.” This idea sounds very silly, but it completely electrified us at the time. (It’s worth stating that we were probably drinking when we came up with the marble concept. But trust me, it’s sound.)

Over the years, marbles have became a measuring stick for emotional health. If things are going well, you know where your marbles are, because you’ve only given them to worthy people and situations, and your marbles are all safe and sound. If things are going poorly, that’s because you’ve been irresponsible with your marbles. You’ve been careless about who has them, or you’ve given them to undeserving people. Among my group of close friends, “I’ve lost my marbles” has come to mean, “I’ve surrendered too much of myself to this person/situation,” and, “I’m taking back my marbles,” means, “I am no longer going to give this person/situation the power to make me feel like this.”

I’m taking back my hockey-marbles, internet.

3. Please consider buying some raffle tickets for the Catwalk for Charity raffle! Right now, a $20 donation would give you a 1 in 5 chance of winning a prize worth OVER $100. (I think those odds are right, but I ain’t so good with the maths. What I’m SURE of is that considering the prizes, this contest will have spectacular odds.) AND, don’t forget, the person who wins the first prize gets to choose between the Catwalk tickets, and the Sabres tickets.

Let me remind you why you want to go to the Catwalk for Charity:

  • It’s a great cause.
  • Ladies: the Sabres are literally just wandering around waiting for you to talk to them. It’s fun to talk to Sabres in real life.
  • Gentlemen who are single: the Catwalk for Charity is FULL of young women, dressed to the nines, who will NOT be snaring a Sabre. Just think about that for a second.
  • Gentlemen who have a girlfriend or wife: I ASSURE you, you will win many points if you bring your lady to the Catwalk for Charity and then encourage them to get their picture taken with various Sabres.

Let me remind you why you want to go to a Sabres game in the 8th row on the shoot twice side:

  • Because it’s effing awesome.

4. Please welcome Trevor (frequent commenter, and maker of delicious chili mix)’s new blog swordplay to the Sabres blogroll. Check it out. It’s terrific so far. Trevor is an old school throwback to the days of Bfloblog, so you can rest assured that he’s worth a look.

Please also welcome The Puck Stops Here written by twitter friendie,  Caitlin. I don’t know too much about this blog, but it seems to be mostly about the Sabres, and she’s handed out some interesting quarter-season grades, so, it’s going on the blogroll! Check it out, yo.

5. I know you’ve all been concerned, and I don’t want you to lose anymore sleep over this issue, so I want you to know: Today I bought a gravy boat at Target for $7. I will NOT be serving Thanksgiving gravy out of a Koolaid pitcher. I know! I’m so grown up. It turns out I was wrong, and you CAN purchase your own gravy boat. Buying one at Target seemed a lot easier than finding someone to marry before Thursday and putting a gravy boat on the bridal registry, so that’s what I did.

Your basic gravy boat: It'll get the job done.

5 Things

1. The raffle is coming along, but we’re a looooong way away from hitting my goal in terms of ticket sales. You people need to fork it over for the Steadfast Foundation. FORK IT OVER, I SAY!

FYI, I will NOT relent until every single one of you has bought at least one raffle ticket, so if your plan is to just ignore me until I stop yakking I ASSURE YOU, YOUR PLAN WON’T WORK.

Considering the awesomeness of the prizes (on the table: Two tickets for the Catwalk for Charity, AND two 8th row Sabres tickets), your odds of winning are RIDICULOUSLY high. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that buying a raffle ticket is the RIGHT MOVE here, not only from the standpoint of ,”it’s the right thing to do,” but also from the standpoint of, “wise financial investment.”

2. I’m going to sweeten the pot by adding one more prize.

I think I’ve mentioned before that this season the BPO is playing an educational concert that opens with “Sabre Dance”. We’ll be playing the concert a few more times before the end of the season, and I would like to offer the following Sabre Dance-related raffle prize:

Prize #3: Right before we begin playing Sabre Dance, I will call you from my phone onstage so that you may listen to it live as heard from the viola section at Kleinhans.

Now, this prize has no monetary value, but it MIGHT get me fired from my job, so there’s that.

3. I had the great pleasure of attending the (poopy) Devils game with the lovely and alluring Heather B on Wednesday. Despite the Sabres’ poopiness, Heather and I had fun, and on the way home we had a really interesting conversation about the current state of Sabres fandom.

I’d just like to state for the record that I love Heather B.

4. Obligatory Sabres analysis: I remain unmoved or concerned about the Sabres current poopiness. My calendar still says “mid-November,” so, whatever.

5. This has nothing to do with anything, but… I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year, which is ridiculous because I’m not a good cook and I’m a TERRIBLE hostess. But the people need turkey, so I’m going to do my best to provide. My guests are all close friends who know me well, so it’s not like my invite list is intimidating, but still.

One thing that hosting Thanksgiving has made me realize is that I own nothing in the way of “company china.” I’m not married, nor have I ever been married, so I don’t even have a dusty gravy boat lying around. (I refuse to believe that there is ANY way to procure a gravy boat other than a bridal registry. No one in the history of time has EVER purchased their own gravy boat.) This morning I sent out an email to my guests in which I threatened to serve gravy out of a plastic juice pitcher, which is an image so funny to me I’m very tempted to actually do it.

5 Things

1. I LOVED last night’s game. Oh sure, the defense was terrible and our elite goaltender was butt-clenching-ly scary, and Lindy probably had at LEAST five strokes while yelling at the players in the locker room, but we all went home happy because the offense was great. Honestly, I wish all games were like that. Bad hockey is good hockey if you ask me.

2. I guess that game will really stop the goalie controversy in its tracks. Right? Heh.

3. Last night was my annual game with the work guys. We sat up in section 322 and had a grand old time. I LOVE the 300s because you can see evvvvvvverything unfolding on the ice, and frankly, the people up there are way more engaged (in both good and bad ways) than the people downstairs. From my regular seats you have to sort of make assumptions about things that are happening in certain corners of the ice (of course, you can also hear the Sabres talking, and if you time it perfectly, Vanek might see you wink as he skates by). What I HATE about the 300s are the concourses and the ridiculous elevator situation. You can barely move up there! When Ted Black first burst on the scene and everyone was constantly talking about the suggestion box, I remember scoffing at the non-stop requests for more escalators. It seemed like such a ridiculous request mostly because it’s probably pretty hard to just add escalators to an existing structure. I assume putting more escalators in the F’NA would be architecturally complicated and really expensive, but damn, GIVE THE PEOPLE SOME MORE ESCALATORS, TERRY PEGULA.

4. This has nothing to do with hockey, but I really can’t recommend this recipe highly enough. It’s quite easy to make, and it’s EFFING DELICIOUS. I found it in Cooking Light (so I assume it’s at least reasonably healthy), but it’s been recreated for our convenience on myrecipes.com. I’m single and I live alone, so when I make a dish I’m usually completely sick of eating it by the time it’s gone. I’ve been eating this chili for three days, and I’m thinking about eating it again for dinner (I had it for lunch). It’s a totally solid recipe, but you will improve your chances of ABSOLUTE SCRUMPTIOUSNESS by using this chili mix made by frequent Willful Caboose commenter and Ryan-Miller-skeptic, trevor.

5. This year at the BPO we’re doing an education concert geared towards 3-5th graders that’s all about Western New York. We play a bunch of music that is either inspired by this area, is important to this area, or is relevant to something that happened here in history. The concert starts with our conductor coming out on stage and starting the Sabre Dance without introduction. I think this is a good concert beginning to end, but man, I really can’t tell you how fun it is to see little kids (and teachers!) shoot up in their seats when they are surprised by the familiar strains of Sabre Dance. I can’t believe I’m so lucky that I get to do this as part of my work day.

5 Things

Okay, I PROMISED myself, under pain of death (well, okay, not death, but maybe “pain of extreme self loathing”) that I would blog this week, NO MATTER WHAT. According to my calendar, today is Thursday, which makes tomorrow Friday, which means time is running out. So, here I am.

Hi.

The bad news is, I really don’t have a lot to say. The good news is, damn it, I’ll be saying it in the form of a blog post, come hell or high water.

You will probably notice that for the most part I’m choosing not to address the multitude of tragedies that struck the hockey world over the summer. Please don’t interpret this as a lack of heartfelt and sorrowful consideration. Many times over the last few week I’ve sat down in front of the computer to express sorrow, or to opine on a number of issues, but honestly… I just can’t. There was too much sadness this summer for me to address here. This frivolous blog is no place to be discussing matters of life and death. I just can’t do it. Maybe someday, but not today.

So, onward!

1. I went to the US Open last week with the Ookies, and it was every bit as fun as “going to the US Open with the Ookies” sounds like it might be fun.

Suh-weet

I’m no tennis expert, but to my untrained eye, the U.S. Open appears to be a wonderland of tennis. While you’re at the U.S. Open, you wander blissfully around, flitting in and out of matches, and marveling at the enormous spectacle of it all.

We went at the very beginning of the tournament, and I knew from the get-go that we probably wouldn’t be seeing any big stars. This ended up being totally fine with me though, because it turns out I was MUCH more drawn to the tiny courts than I was to any of the bigger venues. I think the coolest thing about the U.S. Open is how close you can get to the action.

Here's a shot I took with my phone from the FRONT row of a doubles match. The front row is close enough to feel a little dangerous. Also, any court this small is very likely to put you in the immediate vicinity of at least some portion of the player's coaching/support entourage, so be carefully about repeatedly referring to one of the players as "Andy Murray's less talented younger brother" unless you're prepared to field some dirty looks.

I loved the tiny courts, and if I ever return to the U.S Open (I WILL RETURN), I think my game plan will be to just pick a tiny court and camp out there all day long. I will, however, need someone to fetch me cold drinks and snacks so that I don’t lose my seats, so if you’re up to the task, you should come along.

2. For a variety of reasons, ranging from normal-offseason-antsyness to unrelenting-tragedy-and-despair, THIS OFFSEASON NEEDS TO STOP. And guess what? It will! Really soon!

Hockey is almost here now. It’s perfectly reasonable to start anticipating the hockey season. Football starts tonight, and after football, hockey comes right behind. Training camp starts ONE WEEK from tomorrow. Ticket drafts are occurring across the land. Season tickets are available for pickup MONDAY. It’s happening you guys, it’s really happening. Hockey is returning.

3. Along with hockey will come a whole slew of new Sabres, and speaking of those Sabres… I was practically Vile Leino’s landlord.  Allow me to explain: My friend’s fiancee’s brother almost rented his carriage house to Ville Leino. I KNOW. Can you imagine how much better this blog would’ve gotten if I had access to a spare set of keys to Ville Leino’s apartment? INFINITELY BETTER. But alas, Ville chose a different apartment.

(Private to Ville Leino: wise move)

(Private to everyone else in the world: I’m just kidding. If, by sheer coincidence, Ville Leino had moved into an apartment owned by a friend of mine, I would’ve employed the super suave move I’ve used for every other Sabre I’ve ever encountered in a real life situation- pretend I don’t recognize him and then hide behind the nearest large object just in case he tries to make eye contact. Not only would I not harass him, I’d probably avoid the entire square mile surrounding his apartment for the duration of his lease.)

4. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m on a diet, but this summer I’ve been sort of trying to watch what I eat. (Can’t you just feel the commitment in that last sentence?) This week I’ve been feeling a little cranky about the lack of delicious desserts in my life. In an effort to stave off the inevitable eating of a genuinely delicious dessert, I bought some Wegmans brand sugar-free pudding yesterday. I just ate one now, and it was truly gross. There was absolutely NO HINT of “delicious dessert” in that little plastic cup. If you’d fed me that pudding in a blindfolded taste test and asked me to identify the substance, I would’ve replied, “…dish soap?”

I do NOT recommend Wegmans brand sugar-free pudding. At all.

5. I ordinarily put “Live Chats” extremely low on my list of things-to-do, but Ted Black’s live chats really are a thing of beauty. Ted Black is legit funny, and he has never, not for even one second come across as a d-bag. In fact, Black seems so at home online that I’ve started to wonder if perhaps he already has a top-secret twitter account, and he’s actually someone we’ve already been interacting with for months. I’m starting to wonder which one of the zillions of Sabres fans on twitter is really Ted Black, just letting it all hang out.

Anyhooch, I recommend these chats. They’re fun. AND, if you’re very lucky, and you pepper Ted and Kevin Snow with enough ridiculous questions/twitter comments, you might get yourself a shoutout.

Yay! It pays to be annoying!

6 Things

1. HOOOOOORAAAAAAY for gay marriages in New York State! A joyful, joyful, joyful day.

My mother’s twin sister is gay, and I grew up one block from away from my aunt and her partner Mary. I’ve been very close to both of them my entire life. I couldn’t love them more. They helped raise me.

Having been raised in part by a lesbian couple, I simply do not understand resistance to gay marriage.

The story I always tell about my experience growing up with a gay couple is this: When I was about twelve I overheard my then 9-year-old sister ask my mother, “Mom, are Kathy and Mary lesbians?” To which my mother replied, “Yes”.  As difficult as this may be for some to believe, that overheard conversation between my mother and my sister was the first time I ever, even for one second, considered the nature of my aunt’s relationship. I had literally never thought about it before. In the first twelve years of my life I hadn’t noticed that they were different from heterosexual couples. Of course I was aware that they were two women, but their relationship was such an (beautifully) ordinary part of my childhood that it never once occurred to me to question it. After I heard my sister say the word “lesbian” I thought, “Oh, hey. Yeah. They are lesbians.” And that was the extent of it.

The legalization of gay marriage is important, it’s right, and it’s unstoppable. Someday soon legal gay marriage will be the law of the entire land, and history will view those who opposed it as bigots.

Niagara Falls got all dressed up in rainbow colors to celebrate. Makes me smile.

2.Dry Island” is the kind of coaching power move that can seriously bite you in the ass. I’m going to go ahead and call “Dry Island” a massive failure for Peter Laviolette. Theoretically, professional athletes absolutely should be able to commit to a month of not drinking, but, well, obviously Dry Island didn’t work. It contributed to a big rift in the Flyers locker room, and now, years later, two of the best players on the Flyers have been traded, and players are ratting each other out to the press. That’s some great coaching!  Stay crazy, Flyers!

3. Everyone, please take time to visit the ALL NEW Sabres blogroll page! And, as always, if you know of a blog that is not on the list, PLEASE let me know!

4. I’ve been playing around a lot with Spotify. I decided to give the full “Premium” subscription a try, and so far, I think it’s worth the money. Spotify has almost everything I want to listen to, including a decent amount of classical music. My biggest complaint is that the iphone app needs a LOT of improvement. It crashes every time I try to create a new playlist on my phone, and using Spotify chews up my phone’s battery power very quickly. But in terms of having a basically-limitless music library at my fingertips, I’m very impressed. It’s not quite hoverboards, but Spotify still feels pretty “the future is here”-y.

5. We’re almost to one of my very favorite times of the year. Starting next Monday I’ll have six weeks off from work (the BPO keeps a pretty similar schedule to teachers- lots of time off in the summer). What should I do with myself? Possible activities: start a gang, learn Spanish, landscape my entire backyard, sit around playing on the interwebs.

6. I’m trying to work out a way to sell some of my unused season tickets to Sabres fans instead of Leafs and Habs fans. (Now, before you leave a comment lecturing me about selling tickets to visiting fans, I ask that you kindly reconsider. Because… seriously, shut up.) There has to be a way to pull this off. Most of my unused games I sell to my friends at the price I paid ($54 a seat, this season), but I always sell a handful of games on Stub Hub.

I’d always prefer to sell tickets to Sabres fans than to visiting fans, so I think I’m going create a page on this blog that lists the games I have for sale and my asking price. I’m just going to try it for this season, if it doesn’t work, no biggie.  (Now that I think about it, is this even legal? Am I going to get thrown in the slammer?)

9 Things

1. I’m back (from camp), and I’m better than ever.

2. The end of Apple Hill usually coincides with start of the NHL free agency, which tends to contribute to my post-camp malaise. Leaving summer camp is sad, and watching other teams improve while the Sabres trot out Darcy for his bi-annual announcement about “building through the draft” doesn’t help matters at all. BUT THIS YEAR IS DIFFERENT! This year we have Richie Rich in our corner, and damn it, Terry Pegula gets his man. I honestly don’t have any idea what to expect, but I doubt I’ll be bored and/or horrified on July 1st this year.

3. On the other hand…. I know we’re all flush with excitement over the prospect of signing everyone and their mother on Friday, and lord knows it’s a good feeling, but I feel a responsibility to remind people that the free agent pool sucks donkey butt this year. It’s frustrating, but it’s true. (Yesterday I made a joke on Twitter wishing for the 2007 free agent pool instead of the 2011 free agent pool, and not only did no one laugh, but one person told me it was the most depressing tweet she’d ever read. Too soon?)

Brad Richards is going to command STUPID money, not because he’s worth stupid money but because he’s the best available option if you want to spend stupid money (which we kinda do).

So, the situation is a little confusing. Part of me wants the Sabres to just go nuts and get the best available guy, and another part of me is all, “Hold up. That’s the dumbest idea in the world.” Settling for the best available guy is how people (and teams) wind up in horrible, loveless marriages. We shouldn’t get married just for the sake of getting married. Is Brad Richards really the guy for us?  I dunno.

4. I appears that Steve Montador will be hitting the open market on Friday and this makes me feel hurt, angry, and confused.

5. Hey, thanks for waiving your no-trade clause, Robyn Regehr! We hope you like it here. We’ll do our best not to be too annoying (no promises there). Call me if you or any of your children need viola lessons.

6. The Flyers are fucking crazy. As in, C-R-A-Z-Y.

7.  The Honey Badger, aka Tenacious G, aka Lil’ Gerbs, aka Nathan Gerbe signed a very cap friendly, 3-year deal $4.3 million deal today. Honey Badger, call me if you ever need viola lessons.

8. The Sabres bought the Amerks and had a big happy press conference about it today.  Terry Pegula and Ted Black continue be all sassy and loveable and seemingly perfect in every way. We learned the following things:

  • Amerks season tickets are going to cost, like, 12 cents, so everyone should run out and purchase them as fast as you can.
  • We will now be referring to the Amerks as “The University of Hockey,” which is straight-up adorkable. I would like to offer my services teaching viola lessons as an elective credit to the future Sabres. I assume that the U of H understands the value of viola playing to young hockey players.
  • When (when, not if) the Sabres win the Cup, Rochester gets a parade too. Or… our parade might go all the way to Rochester. Something like that. The details of the parade will be worked out later, and this is already skating a waaaaaay too close to “planning the parade” for my tastes, so, moving on…

9. Every year at Apple Hill there is a hotly contested ping-pong tournament, the winner of which is awarded the “Apple Hill Cup”. I can’t believe I’ve never blogged about this before, because look at the Cup. We write the names of the winners on it and everything.

It's basically exactly the same as the Stanley Cup except it hasn't been befouled by the Bruins.

 

5 Things

1. I looooooOOOoooOOOOooved that game last night.  LOVED IT.  Beginning to end, it was thrilling and fun. I thought the game was riveting, I thought the Sabres were great, and I thought the crowd was totally invested.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people stay for the three stars before.  It felt like a playoff game.

2. Speaking of “three stars”… Jhonas Enroth.  Holy Toledo.  A million things have already been said about his wonderful game, and I’ll just say, “I agree with all of that.”  He was a DELIGHT last night.  To find out later that his parents were in town and watching him play in the NHL for the first time, man, it gives me chills.  I sit on the side of the arena where the Sabres shoot once, almost exactly on the goal line, so I had a lot of opportunity to watch Enroth.  I don’t think I’m a particularly good judge of goalie technique, but I was MEGA impressed with his physical demeanor in net.  Something about the way Jhonas shuffled around in the crease during the down times projected absolute calm and poise.  It was such a treat to be able to watch that performance.  Obviously, it was an important (and impressive) win for the team, but it was truly special to see such a young player shine so brightly.

3. I am EXTREMELY glad that we were all totally wrong when we spent the entire first half of the season screeching for Tim Connolly to be traded.  Timmy, I’m sorry I gave up on you entirely.  Thanks for returning to awesomeness exactly when we needed you most.  (This is likely the nicest I will ever be to you, so live it up, Timmeh.)

4. Honestly, I think that last night’s Rangers game was the most enjoyable game I’ve attended this season. It was stressful, it was exhilarating, and most of all, it was triumphant. As we were walking out of the arena Robin said, “That was totally cathartic.” One of the best things about going to the arena is leaving all of my other worries behind and devoting a few hours to hollering about the Sabres.

5. The “leave my worries behind” thing was especially helpful yesterday, because yesterday my worries included coming out to my car in the morning and seeing that all four of my hubcaps had been stolen, along with ALL OF THE LUGNUTS. It turns out that on my Honda Civic you have to remove the lugnuts in order to get the hubcaps off. This is great for the prevention of hubcaps theft, ASSUMING YOU DON’T ENCOUNTER SOMEONE FREAKISHLY DESPERATE FOR 2003 HONDA CIVIC HUBCAPS.  I dunno, maybe 2003 Honda Civic hubcaps were made out of solid gold and then painted a dull silver.

WTF. All four of my wheels looked like this.

Realizing that none of your wheels are attached to your car is disconcerting, to say the least.  Interestingly, my first reaction was to tweet about it.  (Actually, one thing I learned yesterday: Twitter has REALLY enhanced my ability to stay calm and good-natured during lame events. Almost instantaneously, I wanted to turn my extreme-lack-of-lugnuts into a funny story for Twitter. It helped me keep my cool, in a situation that could have VERY easily devolved into frustrated crying. This helped too.)  My second instinct was to call AAA.

Literal (sort of) translation of my conversation with AAA:

ME: Um, I have no lugnuts.
AAA LADY: Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.  I’ll send a tow truck.
ME: Um… I don’t think a tow truck is going to help.
AAA LADY: Oh, trust me, they can tow anything.
ME: My car has no funtioning wheels.
AAA LADY: I’ll make sure they send a flatbed.
ME: Uh, unless that flatbed includes a crane and a gigantic pillow to set my wheel-less car upon, a flatbed won’t do it.
AAA LADY: Wait… you’re telling me ALL of your lugnuts are gone.
ME: Yes.
AAA LADY: Well, we don’t deliver lugnuts.
ME: BOOOOOOOOOOOO!

In the end, my dear, wonderful, awesome, crafty, fabulous-in-EVERY-WAY, friend Chuck (“cute boyfriend” of @reigningfrog) came to help me.  He drove my sorry butt to Pep Boys, he gathered up all of the jacks in town, he jacked my car up on FOUR jacks, and he successfully reattached all of my wheels, WITHOUT allowing my car to fall flat on her underbelly onto the ground.

HERO

Having your lugnuts stolen is lame.  I cannot recommend it AT ALL.  What I CAN recommend is having Chuck as a friend.  I consider myself extremely self sufficient, but this one was… a head-scratcher.  I needed help, and I needed someone to laugh with, and Chuck was up to the task.  THANK YOU, CHUCK.

4 Things

1. I am officially sick of my Twitter sabbatical.  It’s been interesting, it’s been good for me, but at this point I’m only staying off of Twitter because I said I would.  I needed a break from Twitter so I could recalibrate my “negativity sensors”.  Before this break, I was allowing too much crankiness to effect me.  I’d read ten tweets about the Sabres, and nine of them might’ve been totally positive, but I’d dwell on the tenth, crankiest tweet.  In this respect, the Twitter sabbatical has been a success.  I actually really do think that I’ll be more capable of ignoring the dumb shit now.  So, the sabbatical has been overall good.

HOWEVER, Twitter is legitimately useful and fun, for a variety of reasons, and I miss it.  There was a tiny part of me that thought maybe after a few days without Twitter I’d suddenly think, “Oooh, the world is sweeter, and more jolly Twitter-free!”  This has not been the case.  I’m looking forward to resuming my tweety ways on Saturday.

2. I will say this about living a more solitary Sabres existence: when you tell yourself ahead of time that you’re not going to get all grim about a potential loss, it actually totally works.   I thought the Sabres played well last night, all things considered.  I’m chalking that game up to, “You can’t win ‘em all.”

3. I do have one serious complaint about the game.  A SERIOUS COMPLAINT.

If there were any justice in this world, Marc Poophead Fleury would have paid dearly for his obnoxious and stupid attempt to score on our empty net.  That puck absolutely should’ve ended up in the back of his net, and the Sabres absolutely should’ve capitalized on that momentum to then score AGAIN, and the entirety of the hockey world should ABSOLUTELY  be laughing and pointing today at Fleury today.  WE SHOULD ALL BE WATCHING THAT BLUNDER ON AN ENDLESS YOUTUBE LOOP, JUST LAUGHING AND LAUGHING.  But noooooooo, the Sabres (sans Olden Niedenheimer) were incapable of scoring yesterday.

I feel cheated and betrayed that such a gross display of showboating was not INSTANTLY and SEVERELY punished by the Hockey Gods.  Stupid stinky Sabres.

4. From the “I Live Like a 14-Year-Old Boy” Files:  I just ate lunch across from this mess which has been on my dining room table for over 36 hours now.

Two nights ago I decided to re-pot some plants, so I got out the dirt and went to work.  Ordinarily, this is something I would clean up right away (seeing as though it’s an actual pile of dirt on my main dining surface) but for some reason I failed to do so in this circumstance.  Now the dirt has become a point of amusement to me, and I find myself wondering how long I can stand to live with a pile of dirt on my table.  It’s almost a personal challenge at this point.

I’d like to say that my failure to clean this up has something to do with my desire for Spring and how the dirt (and my little dirt-scoop) make me feel like spring is right around the corner, but honestly, I think this would be a lie.  The dirt is there because two nights ago I was lazy.  The dirt is staying there because not only am I lazy, but against all reason, I’m somehow CHARMED by my own laziness.

Actually, now that I’ve written about this I am no longer amused by this dirt. I disgust myself.  As soon as I get done typing this sentence I’m going to clean it up.

UPDATE: Everyone calm down.  The dirt has been cleaned, and the floor has been swept.

Crisis averted. I am NOT a 14-year-old boy.


…A Blog About the Buffalo Sabres

Observations 2
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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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