Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Spector on Ward and the Canes

Lyle Richardson has a piece on foxsports.com today about the Canes chances this season. Lyle puts a lot of the focus on Cam Ward. I agree to a point. Ward has yet to become the stopper he looked to be in the '06 Cup series. Ward faced the sixth most shots in the league last season, and gave up the third most goals. He barely held a .900 save percentage and his goals against average was worse than those of NHL luminaries like Fredrik Norrena and Mathieu Garon.

Yes, Ward is going to have to be the ball Danny, but I still think defense is just as big a question mark. JR made significant changes on the blueline, but I'm still concerned about the impact the departure of Wesley and Hedican will have on the Canes play in their defensive zone. Wesley always played a steady positional defensive game, and when he was healthy, Hedican's aggressiveness and speed helped cover mistakes and disrupt rushes.

We're all pretty sure Tim Gleason and Joe Corvo will do just fine in their roles, but until Anton Babchuk and Joni Pitkanen have some time working with their new partners and in the system, we won't know if this is the crew to take the Canes back to the playoffs. We also don't know what will become of Nic Wallin and Frankie K as we get closer to the season. I am willing to make this bold prediction: Nic will be slower and Frankie will be softer. Like most of you, I'd be OK if Frankie were moved for a puck, prospect or pick and Seidenberg or one of the Albany kids given a chance. For some reason, I keep checking on the status of UFA vets like Aaron Miller, Keith Carney and every body's favorite skating Ent, Marek Malik. Oh well, still plenty of time to tweak the roster before Camp Roddy becomes Camp Lavvy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Final Olympics Entry

Another wonderful display of ant colony pageantry last night. Damn, them Commies know how to mobilize the masses and make them do things in lock step.


I hope the USOC bans Ralph Lauren from ever again designing outfits for our athletes. Team USA paraded into the Bird's Nest on opening night dressed like they were going to Judge Smails' yacht christening. They paraded in last night looking like Cabana Boys. Lauren has been putting this country club chic crap out for decades. Next games, I want Wrangler to get the nod. Huge cowboy hats, big shiny belt buckles and lots of dead animal hides. That's the American way!

A big Bravo Zulu to USA Volleyball. Gold on the beach for the men's and women's teams and a gold for the men's indoor. Ranked #9 in the world at the start of the games, the women's indoor team overachieved in bringing home the silver. These games will give another boost to volleyball in this country-especially the beach game. Any sport played by hotties in teenie bikinis is bound to be popular with at least half the population.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cuban Sportsmanship on Display

This morning I was watching a reply of NBC's Olympic coverage and heard the funniest line of the games from Jim Lampley. Cuban Taekwondoalist, Angel Matos, got disqualified in a match for taking too much injury time. Junior took the loss very badly. As you can see, he tried to take his frustration out on the referee's melon. After showing the video replay, Lampley laconically quipped, "After all, it's the first rule of Taekwondo: you can not kick the referee in the head." Nice one Lamps.

This fine display of Cuban sportsmanship was followed later in the morning by a boxing match that featured a kid named Correa who pulled off a Mike Tyson hat trick in his Gold Medal bout against a British opponent-a punch, a grab and a bite. Too bad for Correa. Daddy brought home the gold medal in '72. The Chicoms in attendance were pulling for the legacy to take another gold home to the beloved and still critically dead Fidel Castro. Old school SNL fans will get the reference.

Here's the video of Matos:


Friday, August 22, 2008

Movie Time

So you're sitting there on yer back porch in Angier and you say to yourself, "Self, I wonder if The University of Arizona would be better for me than say...Chapel Hill or Wake Tech?" Well here's your answer. Check out this little movie project I worked on this spring:



Arizona Days/Arizona Nights and the trailer for the movie are both available on YouTube. You can also download the movie or trailer in much higher resolution at the UA's iTunesU site. It's a bit tough to get to on iTunes. You have to open your iTunes then navigate to iTunesU via the iTunes store. Once you've found the UA on iTunesU, you go to the Student Life section to get at the movies.

Monday, August 18, 2008

More Badminton and Olympic Coverage!!!

On Badminton

I am now a Uuuuuuge international badminton fan. I couldn't get enough this weekend. South Korea's mixed doubles pair of Lee and Lee beating the top-seeded Indonesians in two sets was 1980 Miracle on Ice...only with shuttlecocks and tiny tennis rackets. Unlike ping pong where the ball moves so wicked fast that it's nearly impossible to keep up, an overhead smash of a badminton shuttle may leave the wee racket face at 200 mph, but by the time it crosses the net it's already about out of momentum. This gives the guys on the other side time to smash it right back, if they can handle the sudden change in speed and trajectory. They do have to fix the serve element of the game. That little pokey backhand thing is lame. They outta be able to rip it from the end line like Rod Laver back in the day.

On The Marathon
The Marathon started at Tianamen Square and the NBC analysts were good to remind us twice that Chairman Mao's temple was located on the square, but if memory serves, something else...something really big happened on that square...Aw shucks. Let me do a Google China search, I'm sure that will jog my memory. NBC weenies.

On Fencing
Beekeepers dancing and poking in the dark. You never know who gets the point because they both act like they won each tilt. And I didn't even hear any "En Gardes!" How do you have fencing without somebody saying "En Garde"? I would have settled for a "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father...prepare to die," somewhere in the action.

Plus the French won. That sucks. The French simply have no equal at pretending to be in combat. I think they should drop the silly little foil sabres and switch to samurai swords or pirate cutlasses. Let's see Mr. Gallic exuberance, Monsieur Julien Pillet , medal then. Two of France's four gold medals are in swordplay. One in team sabre and one in team epee. I think "epee" is one step up from the swordplay game we all played as kids while we were taking a leak in the woods.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Russian Bear is Back

WARNING-NON-HOCKEY POST

I've got this book at home about the Crimean War, and based on the events of the last week, I pulled it out and took a look at how that conflict started. In 1853, the Tsar wanted to snatch some territory from the Ottoman Empire-namely its possessions in what is now Romania. The Tsar approached the Brits in secret and offered to divide up Ottoman lands between them. The Brits said no. So the Tsar put the word out that he demanded protective control over all the lands under Ottoman control containing Eastern Orthodox Christians. The Turks told the Tsar to pound sand. The Tsar invaded, and the Brits and French joined the Ottoman Turks in the Crimean War to teach the Tsar a lesson. The Russkies get tossed out.

In the late summer of 1939, Stalin couldn't get the world domination deal he wanted with Britain and France, so he went with Hitler. In September, the Soviet Union invaded Poland right behind the Nazis under the pretext that a collapsing Polish nation could not protect the security of ethnic Ukranians and Belarussians living in the eastern part of the country. Those Poles who protested too much were executed or shipped off to Siberian death camps. The Soviet Politburo called the operation a "the liberation campaign."

In the winter of 1939, Stalin wanted to add to Soviet territory along the Finland/USSR border. He also wanted Finnish beachfront property to build a major naval depot. He offered the Finns some barren wasteland in return. The Finns told Stalin to pound sand. Stalin got Soviet artillery to shell a little Russian town, and blamed the provocation on the Finns. He then invaded and got the territory he wanted.

In the fall of 1956, a student-led revolt in Hungary gained momentum and eventually led to the Soviet puppet government agreeing to reforms and a withdrawl from membership in the Warsaw Pact. The Soviets would have none of that and sent in the Red Army to crush the uprising.

In the spring of 1968, the Soviets weren't happy with some reform momentum in Prague, so they sent in 200,000 troops from several Warsaw Pact nations to put an end to this democratization silliness. They threw out the existing puppet government and replaced it with one that more easily bent to Soviet will.

Jump ahead to 1979, when the Soviets were not happy with Communistness of their puppet Afghan regime. Seems they hadn't carpet bombed, tortured and executed well enough to keep this forever lawless land quiet, so they sent special forces to kill their puppet dictator and took over the country. Enter Charlie Wilson and the Mujahideen.

Now Putin, Pravda et al are telling the Russian people and a cowardly political opportunists all over the globe that the Georgians started this whole thing. Yeah, those nasty Georgians were mean to the poor newly minted Russian citizens living within Georgia, so it is Russia's Divine duty to lay waste to Georgia. And they're doing just that.

So you moral equivalence types just shut up. The U.S. invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan to depose evil and give oppressed people the chance to be free is not the same as Russia's move into Georgia. Our men and women in uniform are busy rebuilding, teaching, empowering and eliminating the terrorists who want to fill the void left by the old boss. Russians on the other hand are back in the business of crushing and subjugating. If "world opinion" sees events differently, screw world opinion. It won't the first time world opinion was dead wrong. World opinion should never serve as the moral compass for a nation of free people.

Mr. President, what do you see when you look into your pal Vladimir's eyes today? Wishing the old days were over forever is no longer possible. Willing the old KGB agent to be your bestus buddy never had a chance,and deep down you knew it.

This new Russian bear has added energy dominance and cyber warfare to its arsenal of weapons. Time to drop the hammer on the People's Republic of Putinia. (Now channeling John Belushi in Animal House) Who's with me? Let's do it!! ARRRRrrrrguh, sigh. Nobody, eh? Nice working with you there Georgia. Let us know how things work out.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hating on Synchronized Diving


Synchronized swimming with mad hops

I avoid watching Olympic competitions that involve judges. Biased and inept judges and theatrics of the kind we remember from Bela Karolyi and his kissing machine wife make these events into little more than gentrified WWF theatre. Give me Yao and LeBron-keep the tumbling robo-tots from China. Give me the US American freestyle relay team thumping the smack-talking Frenchies-keep Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.

I began these olympics believing gymnastics was the best embodiment of what was wrong with judge-bias riddled athletic competitions...until I happend upon synchronized diving. This weekend, I watched a feel-good vignette about a teenager who left her family to train non-stop in synchronicity with her partner. She said she really didn't have any friends. She hoped that she might pick up with a real life after her days of competing in front of evil Russian and French judges was over. You should have stuck with straight swimming kid. At least then you could win or lose as judged by the most un-biased evaluator of all-the clock.

Americans Kelci Bryant and Arial Rittenhouse were hungry to earn the USA's first synchronized diving medal since 2000 (I didn't even know it was an Olympic sport before last weekend), but they came up fourth. According to the report on the USA Today Web site:

They needed to beat the Germans' score of 76.50 on the final dive, but their forward 2 1/2 somersault with a twist came up short. The judges awarded them a 72.0 for a total score of 314.40 — 4.59 points behind the Germans.

So they busted their butts to put their fate in the hands of a panel of judges? Was their tuck synch off or were their splashes not symmetrical enough? I wanna know, damnit!!!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Olympics Opening Ceremonies

Two images stick in my head from last night. One is the 2008 drummers in silky silver pajamas pounding out a rhythm only a Borg could groove to. You want to see the value of diversity in a society? Take a look at those 2008 Chinese men with the same close-cropped and jet black haircut. Lighten their complexion and dye their hair blond and last night would have looked just like a Hitler Jungend festival.

The other thing that bugged me was when the cute little children in colorful costumes and representing the various ethnic groups of China handed the Chi-Com flag over to the boys from Leibstandarte Mao Tse-Tung. The colorful little parade turned into a lesson in proper fascist goose stepping.

I wish the Olympic folks would just ban all political showmanship from the event. It's cool to tell me about your culture and history, but spare us all the posturing about the martial glory of Mother China. You might impress the contingent from North Korea, but the rest of the world actually remembers and can access information about Tiananmen Square and the Cultural Revolution.

Friday, August 08, 2008

O'Neill

A few weeks ago, I thought talk of Jeff O'Neill playing hardball to secure an NHL contract was just plain silly. When I also read that the Canes were talking to him about a two-way deal, I thought that was almost as silly.

Reading today that he has been invited to attend camp makes more sense. Let's see Jeff show the club what he's got left in the tank and whether he respects the great privilege it is to play a kids game as a grown up -then maybe contract talks can begin.

Welcome back Jeff. Now get out there and outwork the rookies and journeymen.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

And a Bettman for youse Thrash fans


More mileage out of that troubling Kovalchuk in a kilt image.

Another Bettman


This just in...The NHL's newest philanthropy to be a nationwide chain of shelters for wayward gay animals...and Sean Avery.

Monday, August 04, 2008

One Bettman PhotoShop that didn't make the cut


Greg Wyshynski hosted a hilarious lil Gary Bettman art contest over at his Puck Daddy site. Carolina on Ice made the cut, landing entries in the top 231. Unfortunately, mine didn't make it. I sent it to Greg right after he announced the contest, but it must really suck. I'm crushed.
UPDATE: Crikey, it's in the top row. Sorry to whine unnecessarily.