Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Game 19 - December 15, 2010

And the beat(ing of the Caps) goes on.
(I was gonna put a picture of Sonny and Cher, with Ovechkin's head in place of Sonny Bono…
… but I got worried about lawyers.)

Were there some bright spots? Sure. Were there some improvements over the last week or so? I guess so. Did the Caps win? Nope. And that, in the end, bums me out. As a man who puts together an entertaining and eclectic four-hour block of music each week might say: "Yuck! With a hand gesture!" But was it all bad?

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Kinda Want To Be A Christmas Wizard

Seriously, I would like to be a Christmas Wizard for some reason.

I love Community.
I love schmaltzy, over the top Christmas specials (to a point, that is).
I love clever digs, even at things that I also happen to love.

Therefore, I was destined to love the December 9th episode of Community: "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas." It was produced in purposely lo-fi stop-motion animation and told the story of a mildly delusional Muslim boy and his group of friends (among them a devout Christian, a Jehovah's Witness, and at least one atheist) searching for the true meaning of Christmas at Santa's workshop at the North Pole. All along the way, they take some friendly shots at the conventions of classic Christmas specials, among other things.

(They even managed to add a bonus piece of the puzzle to my quest for resolution with a certain TV show).

If you're still tracking with me, and you enjoy having a few giggles check out the episode below.

I would love to see more TV comedies do things with such blatant disregard for the homogenizing standards behind a lot of today's 30-minute sitcom fare, as Community does (along with a handful of others) on a near-weekly basis. It's also nice to see some prime time exposure for the handiwork of Dino Stamatopoulos, who had a big hand in bringing this episode to the screen. No surprise, considering his resume so far.

Photo credit: NBC

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Games 15–18 - December 4–11, 2010

They finally did it. My first in-game beer. Ever.

I don't even know where to begin with this last stretch. Suffice to say that I have been wearing out my self-protective "Pre-Season Until January" mantra since last Saturday night against Atlanta. Nothing seemed to go right for the Caps, at least in the "results" category, and the high point of the homestand was a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. That last bit pretty much sums up the level of despair generated on Verizon Center ice last week. At least nobody in the stands caught the flu from the team, as far as we know.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Games 13–14 - November 26–28, 2010

Just one of Varlamov's denials over the weekend.

I had to shake off the remnants of the previous day's food coma and get down on F Street as the Caps continued their quest to fully rebound from a rather hideous game on 11/22 against the Devils. The first steps of rebounding took place on Wednesday in Carolina. Were the next ones coming on the ice in DC?

On The Ice
Friday night's drubbing of the Lightning made Caps history, being the first game in which the Capitals have scored five or more goals and also blanked their opponent. Unless hats being thrown on the ice bother you to the degree that you feel the need to complain about it, it's pretty hard to find a negative from Friday night. The best shared observation of the night is that when the Caps took their feet off the gas on offense, they put the hammer down on defense. Nice to see!

Sunday looked a bit like we might be getting a repeat performance, even with the newly-shuffled lines (which seemed to baffle all observers) and newly-swirled trade rumors going around (which baffled no one). Then Cam Ward really buckled down and stymied the Caps after spotting them a 2-0 lead. Would have been nice to see Mr. Steckel win that draw at the end of regulation, but hey, they picked up the extra point in the gimmick.

In The Stands
Friday evening's game was very well attended, considering the odd start time and the holiday hangover. Apparently, as a way to make up for the absence of The Horn Guy, it became "Pant Ants Giveaway Night" at the F Street Arena. That is to say that there was a pretty hefty amount of foot traffic in the aisles, regardless of the action on the ice. But while folks were in their seats, they were good and vocal.

Speaking of not having a Horn Guy, I tried my best to fill in for my buddy, but those are some big shoes to fill. I would like to thank the Caps for having things very well in hand for the third period, letting me take it easy. Heh!

Sunday's game featured a few more prolonged bits of silence than I really like. Of course, watching an officiating performance like that will tend to have that effect, I guess.

Both games featured a couple of post-Thanksgiving pageant participants with quite the festive get-ups. At least one of the headdresses made it onto the broadcast Friday night after the hat-trick.

After the game, I ran into a couple, originally from the Czech Republic, up from their home in North Carolina just to see the Caps. I hope they made it to either Lyon Hall or the Front Page and got to meet a player or two. (Actually, I wish I could have made it to the Front Page last night, but it just wasn't in the cards.

And finally, kudos to the gang in "The Corner Bar" (sections 107 and 108) and the successful conclusion to their "Trade Flash" campaign.

Above Our Heads And Beyond
One abbreviation sums up the best thing about this homestand's in-game entertainment advancements: PIP. The picture-in-picture to keep live action on the big screen while replays are being shown is a fantastic development. I assume this opens the door for more and more replays. Well done, gang!

Speaking of opening the door, there were some good gaps for crowd noise during stoppages in play on Friday night. I like that we took advantage of them to make said noise. And in case you were wondering, yes, I was a bit bummed that there was no "Bustin' Loose" for the sixth goal. Heh!

This Week's Bonus Public Plea
Just one thing I ask of those attending games in the future. If you are getting up to go to the concession stand, please wait for a whistle. Barring that, at least have the discussion about what you and your friends want before standing up to go. If you don't, and someone behind you asks you to sit down (and I do mean "asks," not "tells" or "demands") after standing up for ten seconds right in front of them while the game is going on, just give a quick "my bad" and sit down. The alternative course of action doesn't seem to end well.

And So…
Things seem to be back on track, with the customary few kinks left to iron out (well, except for Friday night). With a new piece in the mix, things could get interesting in the next couple of weeks. Fingers are crossed. See everybody on Saturday!

Photo credit: Stewart Small / Facebook

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Game 12 - November 20, 2010

At least the "Monster Nachos" were pretty good.

Saturday night on F Street and the Broad Street Bullies were down from Philly to take on the Caps. It's always usually an interesting game when these two teams get together. Whether it's good or not is often up for debate, and could depend on who you ask afterward.

On The Ice
It really looked a lot like the Caps spent a lot of tonight perfecting their dual identities of late. Strong one moment, and somewhat clueless the next. Of course, they weren't exactly helped out by the guys in stripes during one of the most oddly-officiated games that I can recall seeing on F Street in a while, or by the insane amount of posts that they hit both early on and at the bitter end.

The Caps' ability to fall behind 3-1 after scoring first was aggravating. On the flip side, their ability to storm back from a two-goal deficit entering the third was the kind of thing that makes you wonder just how scary they could be if they found the right rhythm and consistency from night to night. Nicklas Backstrom's and Jason Chimera's goals in the third combined to be my highlight of the night. The other two Caps goals were no slouches either, just for the record.

My "Lowlight of the Night" was easily the third goal for the Flyers, scored by Jeff Carter as he just skated through the gaps left between the entirety of the Caps team and lifted a wrister past Neuvirth. I was shocked on the big screen replay to see just how easy of a time he seemed to have skating right on in.

The ship could use a little tightening. Hopefully there's a bit of a practice waiting for them in the next couple of days before heading up to Jersey.

In The Stands
Also in the category of "continuing recent trends" was the amount of Flyers fans in attendance tonight. There was a bit more orange and black apparel than the home game on the 7th, as well as the recently usual amount of no-shows, especially early. However, it was still a strong home crowd that had some great volume right out of the gate. I think a decent visiting team's fan presence tends to help stoke the fires.

Particularly impressive is the emotional tenacity that a lot of the crowd had, even as the Caps almost let the game get completely away from them. When the fury was unleashed in the third, the noise was robust, and the place went wild when Chimera scored the tying goal a few moments later.

Notably in attendance tonight, over to my right in section 106, was NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. I couldn't quite tell if the referees were getting so involved in the action in the second period just to show off for him or what. What I do know is that at least one fan caught up with him during the second intermission to give him a piece of his mind about the officiating performance up to that point. Let's just say it wasn't exactly a rave review.

Above Our Heads And Beyond
OK, I know that the technology behind the CrowdWave games is legit, and that the software and hardware is still being tweaked. That said, two of the three sections in tonight's "Rink Race" must have been either empty or full of corpses tonight. I say that because only half of section 107 was even participating, much less waving their arms enthusiastically enough to win. Oh well, it's still a work in progress.

Great timing for "Unleash the Fury" tonight. Nice faceoff in the offensive zone, crowd ready for a comeback goal, and perhaps in need of a little extra push over the cliff. Nicely done.

Forgot about this one last night, but seriously, 92% of the people that sent in an answer thought that Rod Langway had won the Hart Trophy? For shame.

And So…
We saw promising bursts of talent and sticktoitiveness (two comebacks in the third) coupled with stretches of head-scratching breakdowns (the go-ahead goal after capturing all of the momentum with the previously mentioned comeback), punctuated with occasionally putrid officiating (really, a phantom hook for a full minute of 5-on-3 for Philly?). Somehow, out of all of that mess, the Caps managed to wring out a point. It wasn't a particularly satisfying point, but it counts.

That's the bright side. On the not-so-bright side, there are still some really important question marks looming over the Caps. Most of them don't look all that much closer to being answered now--just under two months into the season--than they did in September.

Invoking the "Essentially Pre-Season 'Til January" mantra again tonight, I'm not really going to sweat it too much. But I don't have to. I just hope that those who do have to sweat it are working on it.

Photo credit: Joe Roos / Facebook

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Game 11 - November 17, 2010

Another weeknight tilt, but this time against an emotional, if not divisional rival in the Buffalo Sabres. I had a pretty bad feeling going into this one, but it looks like I was (mostly) off-base. I think the Redskins "game" on my birthday was still throwing me off a bit. (Once again, I want to say bravo to Chad Dukes for his epic rant on Tuesday.)

On The Ice
Oh, Caps, is there any lead you can't try and squander?

I keed (a little bit, at least), as there was progress made last night over the recent pattern of letting those big leads slip away. They never actually relinquished the lead, and found a way to clamp down on a Buffalo team that had a lot of momentum in the second period. Seeing the Caps come out and play a solid third period, withstand a late flurry, and have it all punctuated by one of the prettiest empty-net goals ever from Alexander Semin felt good.

Now, to work on those mid-game lulls…

In The Stands
Wednesday nights in the regular season will never be known for regular electricity in DC, but usually the Sabres bring out a decent amount of passion in the Caps fan community. This Wednesday night seemed to bring out a lot of Caps fans dressed as either blue seats or Sabres fans.

Not sure what was blowing in the wind that resulted in, as one of my friends noted on Facebook, "the most opposing team's fans I've seen since we've been rocking the red," but it wasn't pretty. The Buffalo rally in the second really highlighted it. Hopefully it's not the shape of regular season things to come.

Above Our Heads And Beyond
Thankfully, there was no appearance on the big screen by "Drunk Bills Fan," or Otis Day and the Knights serenading us with "Shout" (a noted staple in the songbook of Buffalo sports fans). Whatever the reason, I am thankful for that.

However, during the very first stoppage in play, the organist let go with the rhythmic chant that those in blue and yellow could sing along to, in the form of the five-beat/five-clap chant. I understand that it's a good idea to mix things up instead of doing the same thing over and over and over. However, there are some nights where some things can just stay on the shelf, of only for the one game.

From a more positive perspective, I like the very high-quality look of some of the new video packages, especially the new second period intro and the "extremely letterboxed" video that played later on. Nice work, gang!

And So…
The streak continues at home. There can be nitpicks about the way things are getting done, and there very well should be, but the fact remains that the points are piling up in the standings right now. Since I'm still holding to my mantra of "pre-season until January," I'm OK with nights like this for now.

Let's just hope, after seeing what they're capable of in a loss against Tampa, the Caps can hold the Flyers to less than seven on Saturday night.

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Game 10 - November 14, 2010

Unfortunately, I missed this one. I had prior obligations this evening. As a result, I missed something that might never happen again, as John Erskine not only scored the game-winning goal and had a pretty stout fight with Eric Boulton, but he was also named first star of the game.

That's what I get for missing the game. Hope everybody had a great time. Sounded like quite the roller-coaster ride from the text updates I was getting, most notably the one informing me that "Bustin' Loose" was again played after the Caps sixth goal.

Very nice.

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Game 9 - November 11, 2010

Even the light rig behind the goal wasn't immune to the action on this night.

Apologies for the lateness on this one. It's been kind of a crazy time since last Thursday.

On The Ice
I always seem to take a little extra pleasure out of wins against the Lightning. I'm not sure why, but there's just something about the team that kinda irks me. Add a hat trick on top of it, and it's a full evening as far as I'm concerned.

In The Stands
Southeast Division opponent… check.
Weeknight game… check.
Semi-uninterested crowd… check.

There's just something about these match-ups that brings the apathy out, at least early on. As things got heated down the stretch, and the goals kept coming, the crowd got riled up as well. There was a pretty good amount of energy in the place as the final minutes played out as well, which is always nice to see and hear.

Thanks to a few machinations on the part of my buddy Jay, my folks were in attendance for the second time in three games. They picked a heck of a game to follow up the previous Friday night's contest against the Bruins with, and had a blast. (Especially my old man, who was happy to see that all of those years we spent bellowing at the TV together when I was a kid have panned out - heh!)

Above Our Heads And Beyond
The Veteran's Day montage was a nice touch. There's always at least a few nods to vets and active troops during each home game, but this one had a cool personal touch that made it a bit more special.

Other than that, I only have two words to sum up my favorite part of tonight's game presentation: Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers' "Bustin' Loose."

May this always be the song played when the Caps' goal total climbs high. The exuberance behind it, coupled with it being a home-grown hit, makes it one of my absolute favorites.

And So…
We got a nice win to get a firm hold on the top of the division, coupled with some fun extracurricular activities for me and my folks. Can't complain.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Games 6–8 - November 3–7, 2010

The Caps played three games in five nights, and I managed to fit a wedding somewhere there in the middle. Forgive me if this one is a little scattershot.

On The Ice
Gotta love the fact that the home team is racking up the wins where they can.

Of course, if they could avoid some of the drama, that would be appreciated. Giving up three goals to start the third period in two consecutive games against the Maple Leafs and Bruins is a little worrisome, and certainly is a setback to the "Quest for a 60-Minute Effort" that we all hope they're on. However, finding the resolve to take those games back is admittedly encouraging. Finishing strong on Sunday against a pretty strong Philly team, without Brooks Laich (even if it did take a little help from Chris Pronger's wayward stick) was good to see.

Now, if they can find a way to start keeping games away from the fire in the first place, instead of having to pull them out of it in the end…

In The Stands
It felt as though everybody in the house was just mentally somewhere else during the opening 20 minutes on Wednesday night. Even a near-goal (two, if you count both chances in the same sequence) from Mike Knuble didn't jumpstart anything in the stands for long. A fight that felt staged and unnecessary between DJ King and Colton Orr followed a few minutes later, and the indifference from much of the stands was palpable. Thankfully, the Caps had their big outburst in the second, and that got the fans into it enough to spur them on even after they surrendered the lead in the third. Although I was on the concourse (per usual) those who remained in their seats seemed to enjoy the gimmick.

There was one particularly noticeable Leafs fan in section 108, who almost seemed to be the driving force in Toronto's comeback effort early in the third. He was routinely standing up and hollering, both for his team and almost pointedly at several fans around him. Kind of surprised, but glad, that it didn't get ugly over there.

Friday night had its ups and downs as well, but wasn't quite as apathetic to begin with. A good chunk of me and my wife's friends and family were in town for the game, so I was hoping they would get a good taste of how much energy the crowd at the F Street Arena can provide, and those in attendance did not disappoint. Obviously there was more grumbling when the three-goal lead evaporated, but things reached a nice crescendo towards the end. All of our personal special guests had a blast.

Sunday games are always just a bit different, at least for me, because the start time is usually, um, unusual. The home crowd brought it pretty strongly for a late afternoon game. Having the Flyers in town probably helped a good bit, and it always makes me happy to see and hear. Big thanks to my man The Horn Guy for doing a lot of the heavy lifting at the Flyers game, as I was still a little groggy from the festivities the day before. That may have also contributed to my mini-rant at Mike Green at the end of regulation, who quickly shut me up with his GWG not 40 seconds later. Well done, sir.

I've seen it mentioned on a couple of blogs in the last few days, there sure seemed to be more visiting fans over this home stand than there have been in a while. Certainly nothing like it was before the Caps became the hot ticket in town, but a little out of the recent norm.

Above Our Heads And Beyond
Wednesday night, from the opening drop of the puck while the strobe light was still going off in the Olympia ice resurfacer's home corner, I could feel that there was something just a little "off" in the air. Overly-long TV timeouts (thanks, TSN) that began and ended awkwardly, and slightly mistimed announcements just added to the "out of wack" vibe. Even the second-earliest unleashing of the fury--during the first TV timeout of the third--didn't quite reach its usual grandeur. Oh well, there's bound to be an off-night here and there.

Friday night was a bit of a return to form, and a return of the cool metal weagle sign that they let me hold up on opening night. I was a little surprised that there was no attempt to unleash fury that night. Guess it was an instance of "holding it back to keep from wearing it out." Special thanks, as tweeted on Friday night, to the fine folks on the Game Entertainment crew for finding a place for ZO2's "Red Line Highway" in the musical rotation! Thanks as well to my outstanding ticket rep Justin for helping me secure the tickets for the visitors, and the shout-out on the matrix boards.

I can't even think about anything else, entertainment-wise, beyond the picture at the top of this post and the sequence it was involved in. The "Clyde's Fan Of The Game" segment fires up, and who would happen to be up there but my lovely new wife, looking mortified to be on camera, followed by a quick cut to the picture above, and then it was time for me to make the usual ass out of myself. Heh! Big thanks to Wes and the rest of the gang involved in that one. It really was a perfect end to a great weekend.

And So…
I could not have asked for a better week/weekend from the Caps both on and off the ice to surround the best thing that's ever happened to me. Well, I guess if I was being greedy, I could ask for them to have avoided the shootout on Wednesday, but that just seems unreasonable.

I took long enough to post this that I actually finalized it in the post-game glow of the Caps win in MSG. Now I'm really looking forward to Thursday!

Photo credit: Picture of the big screen by Stewart Small / Facebook.
Picture ON the big screen from Wes Johnson / Twitpic

Monday, November 8, 2010

Two Point Nights, Coincidental Timing, And Great Gifts

In all of the run-up to the big event this past weekend, I had the chance to spend some time with my (now) wife's parents and aunt. In the time since I met Aunt Lou a few summers ago, the subject of my Capitals fandom has come up on more than a few occasions, as it is often wont to do.

Well, this past Friday, Jill and I were each given a "pre-wedding gift" that we were to open straight away. As I was unwrapping mine, I was told that it would be a sort of test to see how much of a Capitals fan I really am, and asked if the names Mary Jane and Ron Weber meant anything to me (which, of course, they do, as they should to any Caps fan of tenure worth their salt.

I opened the box, and inside I found this:

That's right, my new bonus aunt (I prefer "bonus" to "in-law" because it seems more positive) gave me a pencil that belonged to Ron Weber, with whom she has a mutual friend out in Michigan, the night before I was gonna get married, which happened to be just a couple of days before he will be honored with the Foster Hewitt Award at the HHOF. Not too shabby, eh?

Now to find a place of honor for it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

28 Messages In 12 Hours

That's how many emails I've received with the following common subject:

[superstars]RE: You've pressed your record - now what? MIA MIND MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT PROMOTION

The most messed up thing is that all but two of them are messages with ever-increasing amounts of vitriol asking to please be removed from the sender's email list. Me, I just marked the first 23 as spam, and the rest are being taken care of.

However, perhaps someone who works for this "entertainment company" might want to be made aware that they seem to be spamming at least two different time zones with what amounts to the potential to be the biggest unintentional "reply all" chain I've ever seen.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Game 5 - October 23, 2010

This is where I'd be putting image 18 from this image gallery
if I wasn't freaky about image rights and stuff like that.

Another one gets pulled out of the fire in a one-night stand before hitting the road.

On The Ice
I'm sure the simmering grouchiness in pockets of the crowd was exacerbated by the schedule, what with this game following two of the more frustrating Caps games in recent memory. Thankfully the second line (featuring the 2010-11 debut of Matthieu Perreault) found a wavelength that worked for them, channeling a hat trick from Alexander Semin, comprised of three very highlight-worthy goals. After the Thrashers tried to spoil the party (and some people's fantasy teams) by knocking Semin's third goal out of the GWG spot, Tomas Fleischmann took advantage of his time on the ice in OT and sent the crowd home happy.

I can't be convinced (at least at this point) that the Capitals don't benefit greatly from having Matthieu Perreault in the lineup, preferably (for me) in the spot he was in on Saturday night.

On the flip side, "Mike Green: Power Play Specialist" didn't do all that much for me (or for the increasingly stale power play, for that matter).

In The Stands
The groans were fast and furious in the early-going, and really kept up until Alex Semin pinged his first goal in. But the crowd really came alive in response to the disallowed goal from Mike Green, and had really good energy from there through to the finish.

Semin was on target all night long, even after being announced the first star of the game. A minor mishap (which I will blame on the "safety" netting) as he gently flipped a puck to a very little fan in the corner of the rink redirected the puck to give the little guy (gal?) a slight bonk on the head. Number 28 was immediately up against the glass apologizing and making sure the youngster's noggin was OK. Everybody seemed to be smiling after all was said and done. Pretty unique souvenir story for the kid, eh?

Above Our Heads And Beyond
Fury was unleashed, mildly streamlined CrowdWave games were played, referees microphones provided epic levels of feedback. It was a full evening.

And this might just be me talking (and, I would hope it is, unless somebody else swiped my keyboard without me noticing), but Caleb Green is the man as far as singing the anthem is concerned.

And So…
The Caps did well oHated the first half, really enjoyed the second half. Much like a movie (or a pro-wrestling pay-per-view), if the ending works out well, it casts a much better light on the rest of the event.

Now, if the Caps can start turning that light on a little bit earlier in the show from here on out…

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Game 4 - October 19, 2010

It's more like the home game that was, so this should be a brief-ish recap.

On The Ice
Marcus Johansson provided my Caps highlight of the night by scoring his first NHL goal in the second period. And it was pretty. Hopefully a snippet of things to come from him. The PK is still looking rather stout as well. That 5-on-3 kill late in the second felt like a potential game-changer.

Other than that, there wasn't much to write home about. It's always tough to watch that type of frustrate-a-thon, and doubly so when it's a home game. One bounce or slightly better-directed pass could change the entire complexion of the game, but it just doesn't quite happen. Essentially, any games that conjure up memories of late April, 2010, aren't going to rank high on the "favorites" list.

Maybe a teensy bit of a strategy shift/simplification on the power play might be in order? Maybe?

In The Stands
Did the Caps install random ejector seats between the first home stand and the Bruins game? There seemed to be a whole lot of people who just couldn't wait to get up and see what was going on up on the concourse. There's always a bit of traffic, but it really felt like a parade. Maybe the 7:30 start and the extended Versus Network TV time-outs threw everybody's rhythm off a bit. (That might also explain the amount of people who started rolling out about halfway through the third period.)

Above Our Heads And Beyond
Perhaps this bit should be renamed "In My Ears" this time around, because that's where the ringing sure was before the game even started. DJ Stretch's tunes during warm-ups were cranked relatively loudly in the seating bowl, but not bleedingly loud, and I was ready for it after the last home game. Besides, the players and other fans seem to dig it. What I wasn't prepared for was the screechingly loud AM radio piped through the speakers on the concourse and the rock-concert volume level of the music and PA before, during, and after the opening video hoopla. I honestly couldn't talk to anyone in my immediate vicinity without shouting.

I know it might sound weird for me to be complaining about noise at a hockey game, but there's a pretty big difference between crowd noise (which is always welcome, awesome, and in some cases, damned impressive) and media noise. I loved that the crowd could drown out the sound system during the opening home stand. If I had a vote, I would check the box next to "Opening Night" on the volume level ballot. I guess it was a bit of A/V's revenge on Tuesday night. Hopefully it was a special occasion.

And So…
Not the best night ever at the F Street Arena, and the lack of chemistry/clicking on the offense is a little bit of a red flag, but they've got a chance to get back at them pretty much right away, so hopefully they can wash taste of this one right out of their mouths. (Especially Mr. Neuvirth. Get well soon, man!)

Aside from that, I still anxiously await the return of the six-dollar nachos to the lower level.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Home Stand That Was: One Goat's Opinion
Home Games 1–3 - October 9–12, 2010

Since I'm not the most prolific writer on the internet, and there are plenty of other sources to get much more in-depth recaps and info about the games as they happen (such as here, here, here, or here, in no particular order), I'd just compile a brief collection of some of my impressions of the recently completed homestand.

(Bear with me, as this is definitely a work in progress.)

On The Ice
I certainly can't find anything to complain about in the area of results. There were definitely some stretches of dicey play by the home team in each of the three games, but any time there's a higher number on the left side of the scoreboard than the right, I tend to go home happy. A few tweaks on the power play, and we could be in for a lot of fun coming our way.

In The Stands
Opening night was a madhouse. The place was packed, the atmosphere was electric even as the Caps fell behind twice in the early going. There was almost a welcome back party vibe throughout the night. As the score blew open and the eventual fisticuff parade took shape, it only got more raucous.

Over the next couple of games, things seemed to simmer down just a little bit. I think there was a bit of the old fashioned weeknight malaise combined with opponents that don't exactly inspire intense emotion. The quick-hitting schedule might have generated a little bit of fatigue amongst the regulars as well.

Above Our Heads And Beyond
Being the opening homestand, this will probably be the biggest that this section ever gets.

Count me in as digging the new opening video. I like the song, if only because it features a clappable drum beat, unlike the very fanfare-ish music featured last year. (It doesn't hurt that it's also a bit of a pro wrestling reference, heh!) As referenced by Dan Steinberg at the DC Sports Bog, there are sparks, metal, and even a bit of Wes Johnson, which I agree are all good things. By extension the overall "metal plates" theme for the graphics works for me.

Speaking of Wes, the PA voices and music seemed to be at a much more reasonable volume than last season, especially in the playoffs. I like that the crowd could be loud enough to overpower it at times. On top of that, the music itself is a pretty stout upgrade over the playlists of the previous years.

The irreplaceable unleashing of the fury in video form, complete with the newly filmed Tom Green bits, feels like a win to me. I think it definitely takes it from being "one of those things" and turns it into a "Caps thing."

Unfortunately, on a personal note, one of the "improvements" to the F Street Arena over the summer was to take the six-dollar nachos away from the concession stands on the lower level. They've been replaced by the "Mondo Nachos" for nine bucks. While they are admittedly impressive-looking, they're a bit harder to eat without a mess, and get cold much more quickly.

After a little bit of recon, it appears that the six-dollar nachos are still around, but they seem to be quarantined to the upper level. Here's hoping a shipment of old-school trays makes its way to the stand behind section 106. (People say you should avoid dairy for a good voice, but I'm pretty sure there's no actual dairy in that cheese.)

And So…
It's great to be back at the F Street Arena for a game that counts, even without the six-dollar nachos. The new bits and pieces of the presentation seem to be falling into place nicely. There wasn't a single unhappy ending in the set, leaving the Caps unbeaten at home to start things off nicely. Plus I even got to do a little "heavy lifting" on opening night. Welcome back to DC ice, Caps!

(Now, if they could just get a little more consistent on that power play.)

Photo credit: Stewart Small / Facebook

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Editing Makes Me (Almost) Look Coherent

More than a few minutes after the Washington Capitals home opener this past Saturday night, I was approached by a nice young lady who asked if I wouldn't mind talking to a camera for a few minutes. Follow this link (or click the image above) to view the tidy 97-second version of my adrenaline-addled ramblings.

Thanks to Madeline Marshall for happening to walk by at the right time, heh!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

For Those Who Recovered My Data, I Salute You!

So, my last post was a very long lament about my beloved music, photos, and such being held hostage by a bitter old hard drive that knew I was getting ready to put it out to pasture.

Late last week (after some gnashing of teeth, but a surprisingly miniscule amount of wailing) I got in touch with a couple of companies to see just how many limbs I was going to have to hand over to get my data unearthed and accessible again. After an earlier conversation, I was afraid it would be at least one each of an arm, a leg, and perhaps an unmentionable. I wasn't exactly looking forward to these phone call to DriveSavers and Ontrack Data Recovery to get prices.

DriveSavers, as you may know, is the grand-daddy of the data recovery industry. They also charge commensurate with their reputation and experience. I'd used them before, but I had a company budget behind me to foot the bill. While I hadn't heard of Ontrack, they had come highly recommended, and I really had to scour the internet to find even a mildly discouraging word about them (and even that was essentially about speed on an incredibly complex job, rather than effectiveness). The fact that their price was half as much as what DriveSavers was quoting sure didn't hurt.

Besides, if they were good enough to recover data from the Shuttle Columbia as well as this campfire mishap, then surely they could take care of my problem with, er, well, no problem, right?

I got back in touch with Traci, the rep I'd gotten my price quote from. She, by the way, was as helpful and courteous as could be throughout the entire procedure. I arranged to have my drive sent to Ontrack on Monday afternoon (thanks again to the crew at the MacMedics DC area office, specifically Mike and Charles). Once it arrived on Tuesday, I got an email containing a link to their online tracking system that allowed me to keep an eye on the progress of my drive as it went through their recovery process, which was a nice touch. After just one day, they were working on it in the clean room.

First thing Thursday morning, I received an email informing me that the drive was ready for recovery, along with a complete list of the files from the drive indicating that all but two (out of about 30,000, give or take 1,000) were 100% recoverable. Needless to say, I was a happy camper. Finding out that the final pricing came in at even less than I had prepared myself for had me just this short of giddy.

The fact that I wound up having this little parcel of happiness show up this morning was really more than I could have hoped for. Sure, maybe I didn't have the most miraculous data recovery situation ever known, but everything had been recovered and sent back to me in a matter of five business days at a relatively affordable price.

And now, my new buddy, as seen at the top of the post, is busy transferring all of the recovered data to the drive I was planning on backing ol' trusty up to two weeks ago when this all started. At least one thing will be right with the world again soon.

Hopefully, I will never have to make a data recovery company choice ever again, but if I do, I'll be sure to give Ontrack a call.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Oh Hard Drive, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Any coincidence it looks a bit like HAL 9000?

Just over a week ago, I decided that my beloved LaCie 400GB Big Disk Extreme external hard drive was ready to be retired. I had come into possession of a gleaming new 1TB LaCie d2 Quadra, and had everything in place to copy the goodies held on "Ol' Trusty" to their new home. I shut down Thursday night, and went to bed with dreams of roomy new storage filling my head.

Apparently, somewhere in the night, the drive must have figured out that it was getting ready to be put out to pasture, and beat me to the punch by quitting before I could fire it.

When I came home from work on Friday evening, and booted up my computer, "Ol' Trusty" turned into "Ol' Busty" and decided it no longer wanted to spin up and talk to my computer anymore. There were no tell-tale grinding sounds, and all the symptoms were similar to a simple power supply failure that I had remedied in the past. Calmly (well, relatively calmly) I ordered a new power supply and hoped against hope that it would be the solution again this time.

Unfortunately, hope failed.

So I took the sucker in to the fine people at MacMedics to see if they could either bring it back to life, or mind meld it onto a younger, healthier drive for me. Unfortunately, I just got the call that it's beyond their capabilities, and I now have to call in the heavy artillery if I want to get back on track. I shudder to think about the monetary output I'm going to have to incur for this, but what can I do? Sure, I could reconstruct my music library, but I don't think I'll be able to pull a "Be Kind, Rewind" style recreation of all the photos that are on that puppy. Guess it's time to get comfy over that barrel.

I wish I had anyone else to blame but me.

As I had already known, and have now had painfully reinforced, I was a damned fool for not having a backup of such a significant amount of valuable data in place to deal with this issue. I'm often somewhat stubborn, but when I've been taught a harsh lesson, I generally tend to be a quick learner, and do what I can to make sure I don't make the same HUGE mistake twice.

Hello Drobo.

Photo credits: Lazurite / Flickr, Emil Erlandsson / Flickr

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Thus Begins The End Of The Beginning Of The End
Of Our Summer Of Discontent

Always nice to see.

Really looking forward to the Caps' first home pre-season game of the year. I don't think I'll be in full-on "superfan mode" tonight (because I like to ease into these sorts of things, at least while it's still hot and humid outside), but it sure will be nice to see the place all set up for hockey again.

Won't be long now until the 82-game waiting period for the playoffs gets underway!

Photo credit: Adam Fagen (afagen) / Flickr

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Today's Time Machine Destination

Every once in a while I'm reminded of a reason that I'd really like to have unlimited funds and a time machine. Being able to go back and experience the Black Crowes live in their entirety from 1992 to 1997 is definitely one of them.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Time To Play "Find The Dumpster"

Look closely. Can YOU find the hidden dumpster in the photo below?

Congratulations to those of you who did. You're all apparently keener-eyed than a whole lot of the people who live in my apartment complex.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Long Live "The New Man In Charge"

"Quiet over there! We're working on the greatest DVD special feature EVAR!"

I'd like to say that I'd been going back and forth on filling in the last material pieces of my obsession with Lost as yesterday's release date for the final season and complete series on DVD (and of course, blu-ray). I'd like to say that, but I'd be lying. There wasn't really any chance I could resist snagging shiny new discs filled with Lost-ness.

That's not to say that I was looking forward to yesterday's releases with quite the same single-minded fervor that I had all of the previous sets. Maybe I wasn't 100% pleased with the way things shook out back in May. It could be that I was little more gripey about season 6 than any prior season. Perhaps it's because I had to somewhat reluctantly accept the series finale as a decent ending only after doing a lot of conversing and internet scouring. All of those might have derailed my usual level of anticipation, but even combined, those factors could not overpower my compulsion for completion.

Additionally, in all of the previously mentioned scouring, I found intimations that there would be some real treats contained on those shiny new discs that would totally be worth my while. With that baited hook firmly in my mouth, I made a pit-stop on the way home from work yesterday to get fully reeled in.

With some trepidation and a hint of optimism (while breaking from my personal protocol about such things), I practically ignored the first 5 discs and immediately popped in disc 6, going straight to the special features contained within.

I clicked on "The New Man In Charge" and sat back.

As soon as the opening shot appeared on my TV screen, I was sucked right in. I hung on every word and image I heard and saw. And when those 12 wonderful minutes were over, I felt great about Lost all over again, in a way I definitely did NOT feel back in May.

I'm not going to give away anything too specific here, just in case anybody reading this hasn't seen it yet, but plans to. I will say that if you had the same massive lingering question that I did, then you pretty much HAVE to watch it. (Even if, unlike me, you didn't stand up and yell "That's complete horseshit! What about him, you dicks!?!" when it was over.)

It only took 12 minutes to give me the warm and fuzzies that I wasn't sure I could have about this show ever again. Sure, those 12 minutes maybe could have been worked into the last 18 hours of the series, but after watching them on their own last night, I think they work best this way. At least they did for me.

It's nice to be able to make up with an old friend.

"Let's never fight again."

And now, if you'll excuse me, the mega-box containing more tchotchkes than you could shake a frozen donkey wheel at is singing it's siren song to me and my wallet.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

They Think It's Over, But It's Just Begun

Just got an email from the fine folks promoting Iron Maiden announcing the release of their new video for the title track from their forthcoming album, "The Final Frontier." They've already been kind enough to share the first single from it (and for free, no less).

Anyway, here's the video:

The chorus is a tad repetetive, but I'm digging the riff. However, after seeing the costume for "Space Eddie," I can't help but be reminded of a piece of film I saw a long, long time ago at a Games Day or twenty.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The More Metro Says, The Less People Listen

Excuse me...

Is that your bag? Is this your first time riding with us? Have you seen any suspicious behavior recently? Are you familiar with the concept of escalators? Have you jut recently been discharged from a mental institution with a fresh set of clothes and a farecard?

Constant announcents come from disembodied voices over ubiquitous speakers reminding us to be courteous and vigilant, like good propaganda should. Train operators prattle on over in-train PA systems with unintelligible recitations about the proper way to board and de-board, and even how and where to sit or stand. Most recently, I've noticed platform "stewards" shouting at passengers as they get on and off of overcrowded trains stopped at overcrowded stations.

Every opportunity is taken to bombard the cattl... er, "valued customers" with friendly reminders of the best way to ride the Metro.

The result of the constant barrage of chatter? Nothing. At least, nothing that constitutes improvement. People still stand on the left on the escalator, they still sit or stand where they please on a train, they still stop doors when they're closing, and they still try to bum-rush their way onto a train before anybody has the chance to get out.

I might be way off base, but perhaps the "pump the trains and stations so full audio information that it turns into background noise for 90% of the riders and just annoys the other 10% in the process" strategy is due for a little revision?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I Think This About Sums It Up

So, it's taken me a week to really figure out where I stand on the series finale of Lost, and I'm in a pretty good spot now. I'll admit I've been taking some serious so-called "wiki walks" through Lostpedia all week, and seriously want to watch the whole thing over again as soon as it comes out on Blu-ray come August. (Come on, employment!) I was a little upset on Sunday night, but now I'm back to being, as they say, "all-in" with this show.

That said, and even though I'm not now, nor was I ever, in the "I demand answers to EVERYTHING" camp, I only really wanted TWO answers, this is pretty good stuff right here from

Thanks to my buddy Wes for hipping me to this on Facebook.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Will They REALLY Be Throwbacks This Time?

So, the news became all officially official today that the Washington Capitals will play in the next installment of the now annual Winter Classic on new year's day in 2011.

While those who know me know that I will most likely not be in attendance, there's one piece of information from Team President and Owner Dick Patrick that really piqued my interest:

“I think it’s very cool for them, I think it’s cool for everyone,” says Patrick. “The Reebok people have been down [to Washington] with the league people to go over thoughts on creating a jersey just for this game for the Washington Capitals. It will be a throwback; it will be reminiscent of the early days of the Caps. I am not sure if the pants will be white or red or blue, but they will be different.”

Me, being the kind of person who, let's say, enjoys his fair share of merchandise from time to time, finds this to be a pretty cool piece of news. That said, it doesn't come without at least a shred of concern.

To be blunt, I hope the folks at Reebok and the Capitals are working to make this an honest-to-goodness "throwback" sweater, complete with individually sewn letters for the logo on the front and the word "WASHINGTON" embroidered separately above over the left half of the team name. And most certainly NOT the replica-looking things, with the whole logo contained in a tiny applique, that Reebok has been trying to pass off as "Vintage" the last few years.

Or, to put it the way I did in a recent message board post, "Please let them do this up right. I'm still 99.99999999999999991% never setting buttock in Pittsburgh for a hockey game again, but I will be a total merch-whore if these things are done right."

Original images from me (left) and the Washington Capitals (right).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is Lost Island Actually Kamp Krusty?

Over the last six seasons of TV, I have avoided about 98% of the discussion involving Lost, both off and online. I am absolutely enthralled with the show, but never felt like I needed anyone else's input on it to enjoy the living hell out of it. I'd rather just let the show do its thing. I was one of those people that actually loved every answer leading to more questions, so I avoided all manner of spoilers and speculation. I didn't need to engage in any of that as I was sure, especially after the finite schedule for ending the show had been released, that it would all get taken care of.

After the final season premiere aired, I admit that I peeked at a couple of forums to see what the general buzz was. (BAD Goat!) I was kind of amazed that there were people upset that all of the island's mysteries hadn't been resolved after one night. "These people just don't get it," I thought, as I resolved to keep my optimism in place that all would be revealed in due time.

Answers Are Coming… Answers Are Coming… Answers ARE Coming…

Sure, I was a little concerned that the show had introduced an entirely new set of characters, and even an entirely new reality. Yes, there were only so many episodes left. And yes, the next few episodes dealt WAY more with the "Altverse" than I, or anyone else, would have liked. Still, I remained confident that the layers of the onion would start coming off at a furious pace at some point.


Now, with just two and a half hours of TV left for Lost to tell me a story (which will probably be more like 90 minutes of actual show), I have to admit that I'm a little concerned. There have, as usual, been a lot of answers that beget questions over the last few weeks, but isn't it about time to start answering questions with, well, answers? I'm not looking for super hardcore, midichlorian-type explanations of things that we shouldn't necessarily understand. I just want some gaps filled in. Is that so wrong?

In all honesty, the only two items I have left on my own personal "MUST BE ANSWERED OR I WILL BE PISSED" checklist are:

  • What about the Dharma Initiative?
  • WTF with Walt?

The entire "History" episodes over the last few weeks have been amazing, in my opinion. In fact, a few more of those throughout the season, and I think everybody would be a lot happier (especially in place of ANOTHER episode demonstrating how Kate thinks of herself first all the time).

I'm still sitting in the corner repeating my mantra, and looking forward to the big blowout on Sunday night, hoping that at least a whole bunch will be revealed. I'm just hoping that when the answers do show up, they're a little bit more satisfying than Damon Lindelof introducing Carlton Cuse in a makeshift clown costume.

You didn't actually think you'd get REAL answers, did you?

Please, TV, don't let me down!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I So Didn't Want It to Come to This

Or: Why Did There Have to Be Another Game Seven?

When the Caps went up three games to one last week, I was positively giddy. I honestly couldn't fathom THIS team letting the necks of their playoff opponents go without being stepped on. Plus, I was practically in the clear to head to a show up north that I had purchased tickets to just about two months ago.

Most of us know how the rest of the story between then and now has gone.

So now, I have a ticket to an evening of quality rock in NYC with my lady and some very good friends. I also have a ticket to a game seven of the playoffs. It's no understatement to say that this was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my entire life. Well, at least as far as decisions between attending hockey games and rock shows in the month of April are concerned.

I'm sorry to say this fellow Caps fans, but I'm boarding a train to Penn Station Wednesday afternoon.

This isn't some form of protest or statement, or a show of indignation towards the Caps. This as an act of somewhat joking self-preservation, in a manner of speaking.

When the Caps win, I will certainly feel a severe pang of regret for missing the win and not being able to celebrate with the faithful at the F Street Arena. I will, however, be there for game one against Philly, ready to bring the noise in a big way.

Should the unspeakable happen, I think it's better for everyone if I am somewhere far, far away. Should I forgo the chance to meet someone I admire a great deal and be there for a seventh game shortfall, it will not be a pretty picture. Let's just say, I tend to get a teensy bit wrapped up in these things.

So please, give the team all you've got and then some! Here's hoping I'll be able to get some guff about this in person in a few days.

Like the title says, I so didn't want it to come to this.