Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hey, Is This Thing On?

I am honestly ashamed of myself for taking over 14 months off between posts. I haven't had a lot of time to put down long-form (or even short-form) missives on the blog in a while, and I admit that Twitter has become my outlet of choice for most things digital.
Mostly, I just haven't had a whole lot to write about in the last year or so that didn't just fizzle out as soon as it started, or got so aimless and meandering that I lost track of it and stopped writing.

I'm not making any sort of promise to get things going full-steam ahead again, but I wanted to acknowledge my insane lack of attention to the blog over the last year-plus.


Oh hey, anybody else excited for the hockey seas... er, I mean CBA negotiation coverage season? Here's hoping the lockout is shorter than my hiatus from blogging.

Ugh x2.

Monday, June 6, 2011

La Li Lu Le Lo Hi Def!
Or, My Weakness For Metal Gear In (almost) All Forms

I just heard (well, read, then watched) a little pre-E3 news from the fine folks at Konami that brightened my morning. Both of the Metal Gear Solid games originally released for the PS2 ("Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty" and my personal favorite, "Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater") along with last year's PSP-exclusive, "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker," will be headed to the PS3 in remastered and re-worked hi-definition glory.

I'm sure more info will be forthcoming from Kojima during the full Konami press conference at E3 (along with more info on "Metal Gear Solid: Rising,"), but here's the very brief announcement video.

Double-dip? Sure. Shameless re-packaging of previously released material in an effort to get people to buy it again? You betcha.

Will I be getting this package as soon as it's available because I am essentially a sucker for Metal Gear Solid? Without question.

By the way, I want to thank the fine folks over at Bitmob.com for making it so easy to keep up with the press events at E3 online.

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's OUR Turn To Be Heard, Caps Fans

Here we are on the eve of game 5. The Caps are in a familiar spot to all fans, and a very familiar spot to those of us who might be described as the "long-suffering" variety. The Caps are up three games to one in this first round series of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Rangers.

However, their stirring comeback and thrilling double-OT win on Wednesday night was a very unfamiliar way to have gotten here. The Caps aren't exactly known for putting a W up when playoff games get lengthy, and there are a couple of marathons that have become the stuff of legend, especially for those who were there (and bear the mental scars to prove it).

Could it be that we've finally seen the watershed playoff moment that we've been hoping for over the last few years? We'll get at least part of the answer tomorrow night. While the ultimate outcome is based on what the gentlemen on the ice do, there's always the matter of game-time atmosphere.

That's where we, the denizens of the F Street Arena enter the equation.

A lot was made about comments made by Coach Boudreau on the Kirk & Mike Morning Show earlier this week about how Madison Square Garden wasn't exactly, let's say, up to par in a facilities sense, and how the building wasn't as loud as we'd been in DC. The fans at the Garden responded pretty well, and were full-bore as the Rangers built a 3-0 lead in the second. In unison they asked the chanting question of "Can You Hear Us?" We could, everyone could. But when that lead evaporated in the third, the answer switched from a resounding yes to a, well, "well, kinda." As is to be expected, the crowd couldn't quite find the same voice that they had just a few hockey minutes earlier. Although the game was still tied, it sounded (at least via the television) like the home team had already lost.

I'm not saying that's why the Rangers never got any jump back from that point on in the game (the Caps play had something to do with it, I'm sure), but I get the feeling that a little something to feed off of from the stands might have been welcome by the boys in blue on the bench at that point.

I'll admit it, there have been plenty of times that I've been as blase as anyone else this regular season. Even some of my tweets as recently as Wednesday night were nothing short of "Stereotypical Bi-Polar Long Time Caps Fan." Honestly, there were a lot of reasons (or excuses, depending on one's point of view) that contributed to my malaise and periodic frustration. When the Caps gave up leads this season, I got cranky. When they looked like they didn't care, it was hard for me to. However, all of the trials and tribulations that the team and the faithful have gone through since October, hell, since last April, could all start to fade into the rear-view mirror, starting tomorrow. If there's any part, no matter how infinitesimal it may be, that we might have in making that happen, we need to make damn sure we do it… all afternoon long.

This one's going out on nationwide network television. It's time to bring it.

I'm ready to squash some bad memories tomorrow. I hope everybody's with me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chatting With Nestor Aparicio From WNST

Shortly after the Caps had vanquished the Chicago Blackhawks in OT last Sunday, I was on my way to the Metro and ran into Nestor Aparicio from WNST in Baltimore. He asked me to shoot a little bit of video for his site, and the result is below.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Games 35–37 - March 9–13, 2011

It feels like there's been a lot of stuff written about the Caps over the last few days, so I'll just jump into it and keep it (kinda) brief.

On The Ice
The Caps had a blowout victory against an Edmonton team that they should have beaten in a blowout. This might not sound momentous, but it's something that Caps fans have not necessarily been used to seeing at any point in the last few seasons. The better news was that they built on that drubbing by winning a tight game against a desperate division rival and gutting out an OT win against last year's Cup Champions (both games featuring what I wouldn't jump to call balanced officiating, at least from my perspective). All in all, it was a pretty swanky three-game stand for the home team and the fans.

In The Stands
Each game was celebrated as a continuation of the sellout streak on the big screen, but there were, again, plenty of empty seats visible from my vantage point. Those who ventured to F Street on Wednesday night were involved in one of the most party-type atmospheres since opening night against the Devils, and the Friday night crowd was up to the task of stirring the Caps on to victory.

Having a game start at what felt like 11:30am on Sunday was not exactly the best recipe for raucousness, and there were way too many Blackhawks fans in the house. That said, when things started drawing to their conclusion, the effects of an early Sunday start began to wear off and the noise level reflected it. Anger always helps, and the stripes provided enough of that to shake off the haze. In the end, the ovation for Knuble's OT GWG was pretty thunderous.

Post-game I ran into Nestor Aparicio from WNST up in Baltimore. We chatted for a bit, and he mentioned that they had coordinated a bus trip from Charm City to see the game, and wondered how Caps fans in the 495 area would receive those from the 695 area. I basically told him that it didn't matter where they're from as long as they were rooting for the guys in red once inside, nobody's checking ZIP codes at the door.

Oh yeah, and in case you hadn't heard, DJ Pauly D was there to beat that beat up in person on Sunday. Although I'm still trying to wrap my head around how a guy whose song is based on some kind of "Guido Pride" thing was playing at ShamrockFest. Puzzling.

Above Our Heads
The Caps Game Entertainment crew caught me off guard this time around. Once I think I still had my soda straw in my mouth, another I was leaning over chatting to someone. Well played, gentlemen. I gotta be on my toes these days.

I've forgotten which game it was (would it kill you to jot down a note?), but on one of the evenings, when the Caps scored in the third period to take a lead, the time left on the clock was 13:37. If you don't understand the significance of that, congratulations. You haven't wasted too much of your life online. Heh!

And So…
Eight wins in a row sure feels significantly better than eight losses in a row. No reason to stop now, right? RIGHT?!?!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Games 33 & 34 - March 1 & 3, 2011

So, I was working up a note about my reasoning behind glossing over shootout losses for last Friday, with every intention of including it in a recap of the game on the 25th. Then the game against the Rangers (which we will speak of no more) happened, and I decided to add blowout shutouts at home to the "let's just move along, shall we?" list. Hopefully there will be a little bit more for me to write about over the last few weeks of the season. But there's some legitimate goodness to speak of in the meantime.

On The Ice
The initial inclination about Tuesday's contest would be to say that the first 59 minutes were a frustrating struggle, and the last three saved the day. That wouldn't be entirely fair. The first five minutes of the game were pretty outstanding as well. It was those pesky 54 minutes in between good parts that were a bit hard to stomach. The new guys seemed to blend in as well as can be expected with the short notice, and Sturm almost made his mark early with a shot that went through Lawson, but trickled wide.

The Caps wound up going 7 periods without a goal at home, scoring just one goal in the last 11 (and that goal from Ovechkin against LA was so early, that game felt like a virtual shutout) before the GTG and OTGWG sent everybody home, well, more slightly relieved than happy, I'd say. Still, it's nice to see a number besides a 1 or, thank the fates, another 0 under the Caps name on the board at home. It was also encouraging to see them keep plugging away and not totally fall apart in frustration. Jason Arnott's post game comments (the best summaries of which can be found here and here), may just be words right now, but I am definitely excited to see the results of him putting them into action.

Stringing together the first back-to-back wins at home since Thanksgiving was a great way to follow the late heroics on Tuesday. There was the usual "let the other team score first" maneuver, but the sluggishness to respond was not evident the way it has been in spots recently. Goals from combos of grit and skill kept the pace with St. Louis, giving Jason Arnott the chance to welcome himself to our little show with his GWG on a honey of a pass from Semin. Does Semin make that pass to another player besides perhaps Ovechkin? I know it's only a couple of games and a few interview snippets, but I'm thinking the newest 44's impact could be a lot bigger than numbers he puts up on the ice.

In The Stands
After the Rangers had quite a warm visiting team welcome on Friday night, I was expecting a bit of the same on Tuesday for the Islanders. From where I sat, that wasn't the case. Although I would venture to say that's a result of empty seats not being able to cheer for either team. A Tuesday night against a currently lackluster opponent doesn't exactly bring out the throngs. That said, those Caps fans who stuck around and made it to the light at the end of the frustration tunnel on Tuesday were pretty raucous as the game wound down. Was it faith? Was it legitimate enthusiasm? Was it the byproduct of frustration? Perhaps it was a bit of all three (for me it was a LOT of the latter), but whatever it was, it resulted in some volume that hasn't been heard on F Street in too long.

While there were a few more fans on Thursday night dressed as empty seats, and way more dressed as CEO's than usual, there was a palpably different vibe from the mounting frustration of Tuesday. This was a crowd made up mostly of people antsy to cheer for something good, and they got their chance. The noise during that timeout taken by the Blues late in the third was very nice to hear. It's always a weird feeling to not have The Horn Guy in the house, so I hope I picked up at least a bit of the slack.

Above Our Heads
A shot from Semin in the third period on Tuesday night that clearly soared well over the goal and into the netting above the glass prompted the goal horn to sound. Initial theories were that they wanted to see if the horn still worked in a game situation.

Is it me, or is drinking on the job apparently required of the organ player at the F Street Arena?

Did anybody else notice George McPhee in the tunnel behind the bench waiting for Jason Arnott to finish his post-game interview Thursday night? I saw him for a split-second on the big screen, and thought it a little unusual.

Speaking of being on screens, I was apparently on during the broadcast last night late in the third, during the aforementioned Blues timeout, then they ran the commercial I was in last year. Kinda cool, at least for me.

And So…
For the first time in a long time there were a lot more happy faces and a lot less running the gamut from perplexed to furious on their way out of the arena. Again, although it's early, the arrival of Jason Arnott and his attitude are looking promising to many of us who were looking for something to latch onto in the "hope" department while providing a potential anchor for a second legitimate scoring line, which can only help the overall team dynamic. Last night really wound up being a whole lot of fun, which isn't really something I could say with a straight face a whole lot recently. Three straight wins, and a little blink by the Lightning, and we could be in for a very interesting weekend which could make the rest of the stretch run a lot more interesting than I previously expected it to be.