Thursday, May 31, 2007

Action Picking Up on the Free Agent Front

Luke reported the other day that Scott Walker will be testing the free agency waters. JR may have offered him around $2 mil, but Spartacus wants to shop around a bit. Let's say he gets a better deal. That leaves a big hole at wing.

David Lee suggested the Canes go after Taylor Pyatt. Bloody great idea, but he's reportedly close to re-signing with the Nucks. I like the size, skating ability and bile a guy like Pyatt would bring. Scott Walker brings everything but youth and 21st century NHL physique.

Make me the GM for the next two months and I go find a way to land Ryan Smyth or Chris Drury. That's probably reason number 1,000 why I'm not the GM. I would be inclined to roll the dice with PK's money if I believed it would mean instant impact.

On Lord Stanley's Blog today, Luke teased the idea of Walker's departure possibly opening the door to the return of either Mark Recchi or Gary Roberts. I say oui Recchi, but nay to Roberts. Recchi finds a way generate a ton of points while avoiding season-ending collisions. Recchi was a fantastic addition to the Stanley Cup Champion Hurricanes squad. Roberts still treats every shift like it's the final Banzai charge on Okinawa.

Here are three affordable UFA's I'd be interested in seeing JR pursue. All but Jason Blake are less than adequate replacements for Walker's 51 points and gladiatorial presence, but they might be nice additions.

  • Jason Blake - upgrade
  • Viktor Kozlov - size and hands
  • Scott Hartnell - size and bile

Slava Kozlov should probably be on the list, but my judgement is admittedly clouded by how much I detest the little weasel.

In other news

The Canes re-signed Cam Ward to a three year deal with escalating $$$ each year. Thus, the Canes are wedded to the boy for the foreseeable future. I think we have much to see on the development front from Cam. He makes a ton of saves and can be magic on some nights, but he still gives up a lot of softies. At least it's not a 15 year deal. Meanwhile, JR is giddy like a little schoolgirl:

"He’s our goalie," Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said. "We’ve
made it very clear by giving him the contract we did, but we tell him that
anyway."

Ducks Win Prison Yard Riot #2

Game two was tough to watch. It reminded me of something I watched late one night on MSNBC about prison yard riots-lots of flailing limbs, scrambling perps and scrums from blueline to blueline. Apparently, the era of skating and long passes is over in this version of the "new NHL."

Sammy Pahlsson's goal was a thing of beauty, but was it worth the previous 40 minutes of ugly? I know, any day watching hockey is better than any day watching Gray's Anatomy or Brothers and Sisters. Yes, for a few brief and shiny moments, we again saw speed and skills on display. Let us thus celebrate that fleeting memory from last evening. A great attack launched in transition (compliments of a blueline "Doooh!" from the comedy team of Heatley and Spezza). Note in the replay how Sammy dipped his shoulder to get inside of Daniel Alfredsson who had to either hook, hold or let him go. Not willing to risk committing the cardinal sin of taking a late third period penalty, he let him go, leaving only Joe Corvo and Ray Emery to stop the streaking Swede. Grinder-line-Sammy then used Corvo as a human duck blind (a fitting analogy, eh?) to go double five hole.

There was a nice flurry of activity in the Duck's defensive zone right at the end, but by-and-large a pretty pathetic excuse for a SCF hockey game. Yaaawwwwnnnn...and good night.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Trip to the Social Security Office

Today I had the pleasure of going to the local Social Security Administration office to get duplicate cards for the young ins. What follows is a brief narrative of how my hour-and-a-half went.

Walk in the front door and Officer Tim, SSA Security, greats me by saying, "Sir, do you have any guns or weapons?" I told him I was fresh out and he gave me a ticket and told me to take a seat. I got ticket number A97, they were on A78 when I sat down. I pull out the cell phone to check for messages. Tim strolls over to tell me it was against government regulations to have a cell phone turned on in the SSA office...let alone dare to use it.

I then see a sign that says no smoking, eating or drinking in the SSA office. And there wasn't a single magazine in the whole place...just a rack of brochures that all looked the same. They did have a 13 inch television mounted on the wall that was showing some soap opera. Of course the sound was off. My guess is there must be some government regulation against sound in the lobby. Not an adult ADD friendly lobby. I like my kids' orthodontist office. Free drinks, magazines, wooden puzzles and a big fish tank make the wait go so much smoother.

So I start out sitting on the opposite side of the lobby from Tim and his captive court. Blissfully alone for mere seconds, that bliss was sson shattered by take-your-kids-to the-government-office-day. knucklehead parents showed up with their bratty kids in tow. I knew I should have sat next to the narcoleptic in the NASCAR hat.

On my left was a Dad with three boys under the age of four and his huge old, ratting leather briefcase. He opened it and it was chock-full of file folders. And every one of those folders was a superhero folder. Spidey, Batman, Superman, real professional filing system he had there. While dad shuffled his folders, the boys climbed all over the only interesting thing in the lobby, the water fountain. The boys kind of smelled like that might have been the first water they'd seen in many days.

On my right side sat mom and her equally dishevelled daughter. You could instantly tell mom was going to be one of those parents so consumed with the fear that her horrible child management skills might be revealed for all to see that she obsessively tries to control the kid's every movement or noise. Of course, kids in these scenarios tend to just feed off of mom's helplessness by doing everything possible to humiliate mom. The little girl made repeated trips to the bathroom where she seemed to enjoy the sound of her little voice echoing off the tile walls. Her specialty was making fart sounds. At some point in the wait, mom disappeared from the lobby without getting her administrative business done-perhaps just a dry run.

The entire time I sat in the lobby with the kids and their clueless parents, Tim was engaged in an on-and-off, eleven-button-loud conversation in broken German with a group of folks who actually turned out not to be German at all; just deaf.

About the time my turn came to venture to one of the service windows, there was a flare-up betweeen a bureaucrat and an eerily Evil Knievel-looking patron who didn't like how the bureaucrat behind the glass was speaking to him. At one point, the patron told the bureaucrat he'd better drop the mother *f-ing* attitude. Upon hearing voices louder than his own, Tim immediately disengaged from his discussion about the conquests of Frederick the Great to forcefully step in and inform the agitated patron that it was against government regulations to curse in a federal facility. Tim told Evil that if he didn't leave the premises, he'd take him outside for a little Homeland Security love. I left soon after...but well before Evil Knievel could have returned with contraband food, drink, a cell phone and or a really big gun.

Friday, May 25, 2007

While we await the start of the SCF

So I'm sitting on the back porch last night with the missus drinking a little wine and watching the sunset while we listen to her music mix thru the Bose 350's. She cues up James Taylor, Supertramp, Bruce, Beach Boys and Chicago. The Chicago CD is a greatest hits compilation covering stuff from the 70's thru, I think, the late 90's.

I make the point that some bands who were edgy and fresh in the 70's became dull, boring and power-ballad-bad in the 80's. I referenced Chicago, Heart and Journey...well maybe Journey was pretty lame from the outset, but you get the point. JP has a link in his archives to the Journey boys in one of the most "unintentionally funny" music videos ever. Scroll to the bottom for this blast from the past.

Just to be fair, Mrs. CB's mental music catalog really only goes back to the early 80's, so she knows big hair and skinny ties but not afro-puffs and tight bell bottoms.

How do I know I'm right and she's wrong? I tuned into some channel in the 300's on Direct TV and found a recently recorded Heart concert. They were doing Dreamboat Annie and a playlist of covers from the 70's. As for their 80's stuff? There was nothing at all....That's what I call affirmation.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Feng Shui is on the air in Tucson

Tucson has to be the premiere backwater for AM radio. Yeah, we get the major syndicated shows, but the local media mavens fill programming slots with an amazing array of pap. Whether it's 15 second bumper sermons from the local Evangelical preacher or advertiser-driven infomercials disguised as news, sports or entertainment, Tucson bad radio is world-class bad radio.

AM 1290 starts their drive-time with Mike and Chuck. Today they stepped out in support of Mary Cheney following the somewhat non-traditional birth of her daughter. She's a lesbian, ya know, and the boys wanted everybody to know that they think there's nothing wrong with that. Not sure who said there was anything wrong with it, but why stand in the way of the crusade du jour.

Here's roughly how each segment goes. Mike introduces a topic and gives his take. Chuck agrees with Mike and then re-sets the take. Mike and Chuck spend five or six minutes complementing each other for the thoughtfulness and social compassion they demonstrate in their take, then they go to commercial. No Rosie/Elisabeth fireworks on the Mike and Chuck show, just French kisses. Yeah, they suck, but who you gonna call? The program director? Uh, that would be Chuck.

AM 1290, The Source, is why we need no stinking Fairness Doctrine. From the political left you get moon-bat progressive radio in the morning followed by a right-wing counter punch of Armageddon-obsessed Glenn Beck in the afternoon. At least Beck makes you laugh. The first time I heard him on the radio last summer, he was doing this "why it would suck to be a Penguin," rant. That had me rolling even more than Dana Carvey's story about Christopher Walken on Dennis Miller's show from the other day.

Slide right on the AM dial and you have 1330, The Jolt. This station is even deeper in the hurt locker than 1290. They used to feature Officer O'Reilly during the PM commute, now they offer a cornucopia of rotating afternoon drive-time shows including:

  • Zeeman's Restaurant Corner: hosted by guys do a real good job of pimping their restaurants, and their friends restaurants. Restaurateur culture is mui incestuous, no?
  • Radio Pet-Vet:sure to be a revenue booster for the local veterinarian-host in a town with thousands of widowed Eva Gabors ready to drop $10-20 k on any real or imagined technique that might add a few years to the Lapso Apso's lifespan.
  • Cleaning with Doug DePugh: I kid you not. If a guy whose name, roughly translated from the Quebecois, means, "The Stink," can't get you psyched about cleaning, who can?

But the best programming on 1330 appears to be Tuesdays with Those Feng Shui Guys. Now before last Tuesday evening, I had no idea what Feng Shui was. At first I thought it was gonna be a martial arts show. Pronounced, Fung-Shway, it has something to do with interior design. My guess is that it involves paper lanterns and sitting cross-legged on the floor around teeny tables, but I'm afraid to delve too deeply for fear of releasing my inner Big Gay Al.

Are they playing hockey yet?

Buh, Bye Babchuk

I'm back to being president of the Luke D fan club. Good nugget today in his N&O column about the pending return of Glen Wesley. A year ago at this time I was wishing him fair winds and following seas thinking he was heading on to retirement. He came back and played well. He's still got game...at least one more season's worth of game.

And Bret Hedican? I'm not so jazzed about the prospect of Bret coming back. Not saying he's not a warrior. Not saying he's not a class act. Not saying he's Barbaro...OK, yes I am.

As for Anton Babchuk, dude must be a total meathead to be shopped so publicly by JR for a lowly second round pick in a weak draft. Here I was thinking he might be a diamond in the rough, or at least worth something in trade. On the bright side, maybe the Canes will get the next Danny Richmond out of this deal...urrr sorry, just had a deja vu moment there.

In sum, Wesley coming back is good; Hedican coming back is good for Orthopedicistusus; and Babchuk will soon join Pavel Brendl on the ash heap of Hurricanes history.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Neidermeyer Has Always Been My Hero

What? You touched the Prince of Wales Trophy? I've got a mind to slap your fat face. Now drop and give me twenty.


Hopefully these Niedermayers won't end up off'd by their own men. So I'm pulling for the waterfowl. Gotta love any team that features more than one Niedermeyer (sp) and an enforcer with a 70's pornstache.

Most of you have probably seen this Knob Hockey riff, but just in case, I give you, Too Many Niedermayers:


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dennis Miller/Dana Carvey

Brothers in Absurdity?

The SNL duo had me laughing until I couldn't see thru the tears during the commute today. Carvey did a riff on Al Sharpton as the black Christopher Walken. He then told a story about a SNL production meeting. The writers had just finished pitching sketch ideas to a stone faced and disinterested guest star. Sensing no reaction from Walken who spent the whole time gazing out the window, Lorne Michaels asked the hall of fame guest host what he thought. His response...

"Bear suits are funny. Ape suits as well."
True Chris, so true. Words to live by, me thinks.

In my world, sincere absurdity is just about the highest form of comedy. Check out hour two of today's show at the DM radio show archives to hear the entire Miller/Carvey exchange. Dennis spends most of it laughing.

Hardcore DM fans will probably remember that this was a second run-thru for Dana doing the my dad is inappropriately gruff bit on Dennis' show.


Monday, May 21, 2007

NHL/NBC - My Take

Punk'd Again

I stood there dumbfounded for around 3 minutes on Saturday after I realized NBC was switching to the Preakness pre-race show in lieu of friggin OT in potential deciding game of the Eastern Conference final. As an afterthought I flipped to Versus and caught the end of the game...the series...the Eastern Conference final. Yeah it wasn't a dramatic series end - no crescendo of action, just a wee Alfredsson wrister through a screen of meandering blue sweaters, but it's the principal that matters here - the principle of self-respect. I would argue the NHL brass has none.

Where's PETA when you need 'em?
Taken off the air for a horse race pre-game. Not the Kentucky Derby, not National Velvet or heart-wrenching Barbaro is dead re-sets - just the friggin' Preakness Stakes. A few months ago, Iditarod Gal took me to task in this forum for a tongue-in-cheek riff about the Versus broadcast lineup. She reminded me how cruel the Iditarod was for the puppies. Where are you now Iditarod Gal? Isn't it cruel and unusual punishment to force poor defenseless animals to dash at dangerously high speeds around an oval with a 8o lb human tormentor on their back? Horses should be free to run, eat, get eaten, crap and procreate at their leisure. Well shouldn't they? Where were the legions of PETA protestors on Saturday afternoon when I most needed them? Wouldn't a huge pile of hemp-clad slackers stacked en masse around turn one have been just the ticket? Then we could have gone right back to OT in Buffalo. But noooooooo!!!!

NHL is still Sweet, Sweet Connie doing her act...
Hockey is loved and respected by a legion of fans. I wish I could say that about NHL leadership. You all in the NHL head-shed F'd with our collective karma with the lockout. For the most part, you've got the faithful back, but I, and hopefully I really mean we, are disgusted with the way you continue to prostitute yourself in pursuit of the shallowest of relationships with major media. You may want to be somebody's Ho, but I don't. If Versus is where the sport is loved, so be it. At least Versus doesn't treat hockey like it's coyote ugly.

The villain here is not NBC, it's NHL HQ. How desperate for love and some semblance of a broadcast network presence are they that they'd cut this deal? For three-hours of broadcast time on a Saturday afternoon when everybody with a life is out doing something else (leaving me among those without a life, I guess), league brass took the risk of total public humiliation-and got it in spades.

The biggest obstacle to the expansion of hockey culture is not the difficulty of tracking pucks on TV or the age-old perception of the sport as a haven for wayward ruffians. It's a league leadership committed to erecting shallow facades. Ooooh, look, the cast of General Hospital loves hockey! I'll love hockey too! The league is like Moose, the fat guy in the Enterprise Rent-a-Car commercial who rents a nice car to take to his high school reunion. Nice car Moose...you fat looser. People aren't stupid. They see thru to the underlying desperation. And desperation is never sexy.


What the league needs to do is invest long-term in the expansion of hockey culture. Not just financially, but thru the direct involvement of player-mentors and role models in the community and in the media. And they need to get more families into the building on game nights...and not make them sit up in pigeon heaven. One of the most fun nights I ever had at a hockey game was in the ATL during a pre-season tilt between the Thrash and the Preds. Right down in Row 5 sat a bunch of rotund African American ladies who hooted and hollered every time the puck or a body slammed into the glass in front of them. They had a great time. They left hockey fans. Going to a hockey game is a great time. Spread the word eh? Make it an accessible and affordable event whenever possible. Don't hold that box seat for Kid Rock. Give it to Joe Six-Pack, missus Pack and the Pack-lings.

And the NHL needs to treat we, the faithful, as partners whenever possible. Unfortunately for those of us who love our game, even high-paid ho's are rarely interested in long-term relationships.

What others are saying

Joe Ovies-850 the Blog
Eric McErlain-Off Wing Opinon
Greg Wyshynski - The Fanhouse

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Drury

Chris Drury looks like the guy who services your car at Jiffy Lube, or the Marine sergant you see in a live remote from Baghdad. Leave the flowing Pirates of the Carribean goldie locks to Swedes named "Henrik." Drury seems to care little for his "look." That's about the only thing he and I have in common.

Sabres lost in five. Lost in their house and lost despite all the mojo the guys with orange arm bands could send them. No love lost here for the Slugs. Glad they are done in five.

That being said, my lasting memory of this series won't be Daniel Alfredsson's flukie limp wrister in traffic to win in OT. It will be Chris Drury's glove save, his other blocked shot on a slapper to the shin and the shot he took to the face. Not sure what the extent of his facial/maxillary injuries as of now. I just know he strapped on an extra piece of Plexiglas and came back for OT. My guess is that the Sabres will let Daniel Briere go. They'd be fools to let Drury get away.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Canes Youth Movement on D

Luke's quickie in the N&O about the signing of Casey Borer today got me looking at the Canes system depth at defense.

Hockey's Future ranks the Hurricanes system only #18 in the league, but I like where the franchise stands in goal and on D. Golden Domers Kyle Lawson and Noah Babin, along with fellow US National Team Development Program vet Jamie McBain form a nice down-the-road-a-couple-of-seasons core. Add a Euro with leadership experience in international play with Czech, Jakub Vojta, and you've got the makings of a nice youth movement. Those geographically pre-disposed to attending Carolina Hurricanes training camp later this summer should have some fun watching these young bucks fight for attention.

Forwards on the other hand...perpetual tweeners like Shane Willis, Ryan Bayda and Keith Aucoin are solid AHL players, but where is the next Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry in the Canes system? Where is the 6'4" power forward with soft hands, breakaway speed and a burning desire to knock somebody's block off? The Getzlaf, Staal x 3 and Malkin physique is the future of hockey, but those frames are still a bit hard to come by. Joe Barnes has the body, but he apparently lacks the modern power forward psyche. Centerman Bobby Hughes is getting a lot of love as a tough playmaker, but he's listed generously at 5'11".

I'd look for the Canes to try and pick up a forward with the #11 pick in the first round of this summer's draft. James Van Riemsdyk of the USNTDP might be the Getzlaf-next in this draft, but according to the scouts at Red Line Report, he's still got some maturin' to do. Another kid who looks good in html, is a big mean defenseman with a big shot by the name of Nick Petrecki.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hockey Central

Did you see the size of Dougie Weight's Stanley Cup ring? Kinda like watching Pamela Anderson in her day. Not sure what he had to say cause the visual totally overwhelmed the verbal.

Monday, May 14, 2007

CB's Knute Rockne moment with Sabre-fan

Dearest members of glorious Sabre-Fan Nation,
Now is not the time for despair. True champions rise above meager two-game deficits. Champions never doubt their comrades in arms, and their faith in their leadership never waivers. Now is the time to seize this great opportunity. Barry Melrose says we are dead. The entire hockey world thinks the Sens are having their way with us. Thus, a four-game sweep will be all the more sweet. Revenge is a dish best served cold-on an inch and a half of freshly re-surfaced Canadian ice.

We are now down two games to love and must play the next two in our hated opponent's house. So what. I say we have the Sens right where we want them. Champions don't dwell on the obstacles - they embrace opportunities. Our beloved Buffalo Sabres hold the Presidents' Trophy as the winningest team in the league for 2007. Buffalo, New York is the center of the hockey universe! Now we will shock the world!

Woe unto those who doubt the Sabres even at this darkest hour. This remains a team of destiny. And it starts with us, the Sabre-fan Nation, the most passionate and committed fans in all of hockey. Every home game, from October to June, a complete sell-out. No ticket? No problem. Sabre-fans by the thousands spill into the streets outside the HSBC Arena in support of this very special team. We will travel even unto the southern-most outposts of hockey civilization for the opportunity to root-on our beloved Slugs. Thus, and by any metric, our glorious Sabres are the more deserving team in these playoffs.

In summary, these Buffalo Sabres remain destined, ney pre-ordained, to gloriously come back from this deficit and seize a Stanley Cup Championship that should have been ours last year, if not for that cruel twist of fate that left our blueline so depleted. Those upstart, rent-a-player Hurricanes were not deserving of the Stanley Cup Championship they stole from our cold, dead hands. The most glorious comeback in hockey history starts tonight in Ottawa! It has been done before, but I don't want to talk about that right now.

Daniel Alfredsson, you fargin' bastage, you should be very afraid right about now. Daniel Briere is floating into Ottawa (mostly at even strength or better odds), and he's got revenge on his mind.

Ein Volk. Ein Slug-Reich!
Tung N. Cheak
Official Oracle
Sabre-Fan Nation

Monday, May 07, 2007

Canes "loaded" on defense?

Normally, I drop "Amens" on the knowledge Luke DeCock puts out. In his May 3 piece on Bret Hedican and his failing hip, Luke gave us these lines:

Even without Hedican, the Canes are loaded on the blue line. Mike
Commodore
, Tim Gleason, Andrew
Hutchinson
, Frantisek Kaberle, Dennis
Seidenberg
and Niclas Wallin are under contract next
season.

That's not a loaded blueline. That's an plodding, fingers in the dike, patchwork blueline. Hedican must be coerced into retirement. Make him executive vice president of skating-related operations-make him vice president of corporate outreach -do something, cause he's far too brittle to take up a roster spot on a team struggling to hold its place in the local market after missing the playoffs last season. Winning keeps the fan base happy and growing. Blind loyalty does not.

Even with a "healthy" Hedican, there are no clear shutdown or point-producing pairings on this Hurricanes roster. By my carefully indexed and calibrated count, this crew generated absolutely zero offensive production in any pairing permutation not involving Mike Commodore.

David Tanabe showed flashes of skill, but this squad needs more than flashes of NHL caliber game. Taking a look at the rest of the Canes under contract stable of offensivish-defensemen, you'll find Andrew Hutchinson who sat most of the season so that David Tanabe got his chance, Frankie Kaberle who rehabbed his way to a lost season, and Dennis Seidenberg who either sat or spat pucks for around half of his season as a Hurricane. None of the aforementioned provided any pop to the Canes scoring prowess or enforced their will in the defensive zone. That's what my man Luke calls "loaded?"

The buzz is that JR will try and use Anton Babchuk as bait to acquire some front line scoring help. Dumb idea, says I. Babchuk is about the only one on this crew who has potential upside left. There might still be a Euro-Pronger under that thin skin. Tim Gleason was nothing short of a disappointment. Bad when injured, mistake-prone when not, and bupkis in the scoring department. Nic Wallin is old guard Hurricane. Hard to mash too much on a guy who's given so much blood, sweat and drama to the franchise (read: Molson Miracle). That being said, Gleason and Wallin are are like red shirt guys from the original Star Trek series. Nameless, faceless and almost always dead or critically wounded (or on the IR) by the end of act one.

Besides Babchuk, the only Carolina defenseman who intrigues me in the least is Andrew Hutchinson. Maybe I'm intrigued by his nice slapper and passing acumen. Maybe I'm intrigued by the fact that I think he's actually that Hansel character from Zoolander. Do the Canes really need two nice hands/conflict avoidance defenseman? Maybe Hutch can parlay his successes at the Worlds into more PT next fall. Can you imagine a Hutchinson/Kaberle pairing on defense? Each defensive shift a "Walk Off." They might not score or stop anybody, but they'd look magnificent. I think Frankie has a bit more Blue Steel to his game face.

I say what this team still needs is a bit of a personnel makeover on defense. Who could be had for Kaberle, Seidenberg and/or Gleason? What if the pot was sweatened with Trevor Letowski? I know, I know "sweetened" is a bit of a stretch.

How about one more season of Glen Wesley and Nic Wallin, plus Hutchinson, Comodore, Babchuk and one additional multi-dimensional UFA stud? I say spend the money on "D" JR-hold on any pursuit of another "scoring" forward. Take a risk on Anson Carter for one more season at $700,000, a fashionable studio apartment over Bates Battaglia's Glenwood restaurant and a year's supply of Happy Meal coupons. I think Chadsworth LaRose might yet surprise us all if he get's the chance to center a third line.

Here are some UFA's who might add some umph into the Canes blueline:
  • Kimmo Timonen
  • Andrei Markov
  • Danny (CB First-Ballot Hall of Famer) Markov
  • Tom Preissing

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The AZ Anti-Smoking Insurgency Strikes First

On May 1, the "Smoke-Free Arizona Act" went into effect. The law bans smoking in all public places, including restaurants, bars and common areas. Tribal areas are sovereign lands and therefore exempt. That means even more $$$ for the Indian casinos - the last refuge for folks with petty vices.

In my building we have an outside stairwell that was once the floor's smoking lounge. Not anymore. And to make sure smokers don't try and weasel their way around the law, somebody has placed a crude IED in the stairwell. As you can see however, the insurgents do provide fair warning...

I don't smoke, but I do use the stairwell as a shortcut to the food court. Thus, I may well be the first collateral casualty in Arizona's global war on smoking.


Godspeed Wally Schirra

The Mercury Seven
Carpenter, Cooper, Glenn, Grissom, Schirra, Shepard and Slayton

I grew up wanting to be a fighter pilot. If you were to venture back to the Glendale Elementary School library, I'd be willing to bet I you can still find my name on the sign-out cards for all the airplane books in that library (if they still use cards). When I was in college, I read Tom Wolfe's narrative on the transition of some of our nation's top fighter jocks and test pilots into Nav Bags, errrrr Mercury Astronauts.

The book is really parallel narratives covering those who sold their souls to NASA and Chuck Yeager, who was left behind in the California desert to fly dangerous experimental aircraft and break the sound barrier. The book is called, The Right Stuff. It's one of the best books I've ever read. The opening chapter is an especially good read. It gives you instant insight into the kind of guy who becomes a test pilot. Wolfe portrays Chuck Yeager the good-ole-boy Lewis or Clark of aerospace exploration. He paints the Mercury Astronauts as seven Charlton Hestons in a NASA culture gone Planet of the Apes.

The movie version came out in 1983 and starred Scott Walker, errrrrr Fred Ward as the self-esteem challenged Gus Grissom, Scott Glenn as the arrogant Alan Shepard and Ed Harris as a super clean John Glenn. The book is fantastic, the movie, not so much. Dennis Quaid steals every scene in the role of Gordon Cooper. Sam Shepard played Yeager. He he played it understated to the point of being Perry Como in a flight suit.

One of those original seven Mercury Astronauts passed away today. Wally Schirra flew the perfect space mission-Mercury 8. No wasted fuel, no mis-steps, no panicky pulls on the rescue hatch emergency release. John Glenn and Scott Carpenter are now the only remaining Mercury astronauts. Navy and Marine Corps...still standing. As it should be.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The single most intriguing moment from Saturday's NFL Draft

As Seen on TV
Saturday for me was spent in front of the TV with some strain of the flu watching the NFL Draft. Not sure why I gravitate to this non-event every year, but I do. Best moment of the nine-or-so hours of coverage was when the Panthers dropped down to the 25th pick and took Dwayne Jarrett from USC. You could have knocked Keyshawn Johnson over with a feather. Not that Keyshawn added much to the ongoing discussion-other than gratuitously throwing the recently departed Chris Wienke under the bus-but dude was struck speechless the moment the pick was announced. He put up a brave front, but I could tell by the look on Steve Young's face that the entire dais knew what had just happened. I played high school sports against Steve Young in Connecticut. I remember that sneer quite well. It was the one he used to lay on me right after he struck me out with a nasty curveball.

So just to add insult to injury, the geniuses in the production truck thought it would be a good idea to have Keyshawn do a puff interview with the guy who just made him disposable. Who's yer buddy there One-Nine? Keyshawn's next stop was at the Manhattan Doc-in-the-Box to have several knives removed from his back.

Good luck Keyshawn. You deserved a somewhat less abrupt exit.

Maybe the Panthers will bring in a veteran "character guy" to take 19's place. Let's see. Fred Lane is dead. Todd Sauerbrun is scoping out black market pharmacists in Denver. Rae Carruth is in jail. Got a rookie coming from that character guy factory known as "The U." USC kid slated to replace old USC guy likes to taunt and showboat. You think the Panthers miss Sam Mills and Mark Fields right about now?