Monday, December 26, 2005


IT'S BOXING DAY! I should be happy.....

However, I am a tad depressed today. Perhaps RUMOR HAS IT would have been a better Christmas movie choice than SYRIANA. Don't get me wrong, SYRIANA is a great movie. I think that every American should have to go see it, or at least be forced to read it's source material; Robert Baer's book SEE NO EVIL: THE TRUE STORY OF A FOOT SOLDIER IN THE CIA'S COUNTER TERRORISM WAR. The movie is brilliantly acted, especially George Clooney as Baer, Matt Damon as the partner in a Swiss oil brokerage, and Alexander Siddig as an idealistic Arab prince. This is a movie about oil, money, politics, and their corrupting influence on each other. The end is depressing, but I think it is one of those movies everyone should see. It should certainly make people think. This movie is also a tribute to Clooney's growing clout in Hollywood. There are only a handful of people in Hollywood who could have gotten this movie or GOOD BYE AND GOOD NIGHT produced. Speilburg, Redford, Eastwood, maybe Tarentino. That Clooney got both of them made and released in the same year is testimony to the clout he now holds within the industry!


The PROVIDENCE HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT is now history, won by the host FRIARS in a huge upset over ninth ranked Colgate. But there are still ten tournaments to be played this week. Check them out HERE. There are four tourneys in particular that should be outstanding!

THE GREAT LAKES INVITATIONAL (thurs, fri) at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit looks to be a classic this year. With MICHIGAN missing four players due to the World Junior Championships, COLORADO COLLEGE , with Hobie Baker winner Marty Sertich and point a game defenseman Brian Salcido, would seem to be the favorites. But Michigan has some very talented freshmen desperate to show they deserve more ice time, and MICHIGAN STATE always plays like the Joe is their home ice. MICHGAN TECH would like nothing better than to spoil the weekend for one of the big boys, so it should be a great tourney.

THE OHIO HOCKEY CLASSIC (thurs, fri) in Columbus features the #2 MIAMI REDHAWKS, #19 OHIO STATE, RPI, and HOLY CROSS. This is a home game for Ohio State, but with half the campus in Tempe for the Fiesta Bowl, look for the throngs wearing red to be Redhawk fans. Still, the Buckeyes could make a statement in the CCHA and NCAA tournament bid quest with a win over the second ranked team in the country.

THE DENVER CUP (fri, sat) features defending national champion and tenth ranked DENVER, #4 BOSTON COLLEGE, PRINCETON, and FERRIS STATE. #10 Denver is red hot, having won 6 of 7, and looking to win a third straight national championship. A win over #4 BC would certainly be impressive come NCAA bid time. This should be a great tourney, and don't be surprised if one of the two top teams get caught looking ahead and is tripped up before reaching the title game!

THE SHERATON/TD BANKNORTH TOURNAMENT in Burlington VT (fri, sat) features #5 VERMONT, #15 CLARKSON, formerly ranked BEMIDJI STATE, and DARTMOUTH. Bemidji would love to fight there way back into the top fifteen. And Clarkson star Shawn Weller, who was snubbed by the US Junior National team, should be playing with a chip on his shoulder. This could end up being the most competitive tourney of the week!


Friday, December 23, 2005


again, with apologies...IT'S THE BIG BLOG

David Sedaris

With the big weekend upon us, I thought I'd try to get a weekends worth of blogging into one day's posts. So, on the BIG BLOG:


Robert Reich had a fabulous commentary on Marketplace earlier this week, challenging American businessmen to stand up and fight! Here are excerpts:

Even in it’s infancy, modern capitalism depended on liberty and predictability, and business leaders fought for the rule of law. The very idea that a head of state must be bound by the law emerged from the struggles of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries between monarchs, who claimed to have the divine right to do as they pleased, and a rising class of European merchants who said rulers could only do what they were authorized to do. These business leaders understood that economic liberties could not be separated from civil liberties. If a King or Emperor could arrest, or detain, or search, or torture anyone for whatever reason, there was nothing to stop him from taking private property, interfering with private contracts, or commandeering private resources.

And now we have a president who asserts the power to spy on Americans without the approval of the courts, even though a law, enacted over a quarter century ago, prohibits this practice. To secretly monitor the actions of private environmental and peace groups, and to call any American an enemy combatant, and keep him in jail, without counsel, for as long as he wishes. This is the same administration that flouts international law by detaining foreigners indefinitely, holding some in secret prisons, and using torture. It’s the same administration that pays off journalists, here and abroad, to write favorable stories about it, also in defiance of law.

The President SAYS that this all comes under his responsibility as commander in chief during war time. But, if the end of keeping Americans secure justifies all means, including disregarding the rule of law, then no one is secure and all liberties are threatened! I mean, how far away is the specter of no bid government contracts to politically well connected suppliers that support the president? Of selected prosecution of antitrust laws, or health and safety regulations, depending on support for the presidents agenda? Of pressure on the media to provide favorable coverage in return for regulatory favors?

When a President, or King, is unaccountable to law, it’s impossible to predict where, or how he will act in pursuit of his aims. ....

Economic freedom and civil liberty, the two are inseparable! And both are threatened by arbitrary power that sees itself as above the law. As they did centuries ago, business leaders must come to the defense of liberty!

hear the entire Reich commentary HERE

CRUMPET THE ELF: NPR first played this story in 1992. It made David Sedaris a star overnight, and launched the career of the humorist/novelist/playwright. Listen to this Christmas classic HERE ! Then listen to this hilarious FRESH AIR interview with Sedaris HHERE!

Before I forget (as I have the last couple of weeks) I want to mention a terrific pod-cast for sports fans. Rob Visconti, a Detroit area attorney, has a terrific web-log called THE CHEAP SEATS. He also has a semi regular pod-cast available for subscription (free), or that you can download from his blog. I really enjoy the pod-casts, and think any sports fan would too. So be sure to check it out.

They are grumbling in Canada today. First Kris Draper, then Todd Bertuzzi were added to the Canadian Olympic team, locking out phenom Sidney Crosby. As Executive Director of Hockey Canada, Wayne Gretzky undoubtedly made the call, which, incidentally, I think is the correct one. But with Draper's lack of offense, and the unpopular Bertuzzi's history, there's a lot of grumbling today across the frozen tundra!

The coming week features a number of College Tournaments, including the Providence Holiday Tourney, and the Great Lakes Invitational (Joe Louis Arena, Detroit). There will be some great college hockey played next week, so go see a game, or check out your local CSTV and Foxsports outlets for games!

Judging by all the grumbling going on, I am apparently the only old time, diehard fan, who likes the new NHL. When the NCAA decided to open up the college game about 10 years ago, it improved the product dramatically, made for a much more exciting game, and attendance has increased steadily ever since. I believe the same thing is happening in the NHL, and that the results will be the same, better product, increased attendance. There is however, one rule change I really hate... the shootout!

The Red Wings were the last team in the NHL to participate in a shootout. It took 35 games, but finally, the game against Columbus went through regulation and overtime in a tie. The Red Wings won the shootout, but, I still think it looks like a gimmick. It is just not hockey. I also hate the shootout in soccer. Give me the point for a tie, or let the players skate till the last man is standing. But I will go to my grave hating the shootout!

The Dallas Stars, who looked horrible the first month of the season, have very quietly sneaked up on every one. They are now tied for third overall in the Western Conference, and clearly playing better hockey than anyone in the conference. Goaltender Marty Turco, who was just gawdawful for the first 6 weeks of the season, is red hot, and the Stars look to be the team to beat right now in the West.

update: I have just seen one of the most amazing finishes to a hockey game in NHL hstory! Trailing by two goals in Chicago, the Red Wings get goals from Kris Draper (19:31) and Nicklas Lidstrom (19:53) in the final 29 seconds to tie the game. Then in overtime, they get the game winner with 1/10 second left, when Pavel Datsyuk redirected a Jason Wookey pass past Nickolai Khabibulin. While I am excited about the finish, I also feel badly for our friend Andrea, a Blackhawks fan who was at the game tonight. Sorry! But on the bright side, pretty soon we'll have to address you as DR. Gympumpkin!


Now cooking at THE CHURCH POTLUCK: Bran Muffins

Tuesday, December 20, 2005



It has already been established that I am one of the worst procrastinators in the history of the world. And never has this been more evident than at Christmas time. First, let me tell you until very recently, I HAVE ALWAYS HATED CHRISTMAS! Hated almost everything about it, except Christmas dinner. First, I hate shopping. I believe that large crowds are wonderful at sporting events, and concerts, but should be avoided at all costs any where else. So shopping IN large crowds, forget it! And there is the pressure. Trying to find gifts that will be appreciated by jaundiced kids and a wife looking for new ways to be disappointed. Who in 19 years, never once appreciated a gift I got her (I guess I should be grateful, her father never found one in fifty years that pleased her mother). It always just made Christmas a very unpleasant task.

Also, I have ADD. If you know anything about it, you realize that it is almost impossible for ADD people to force themselves to do unpleasant tasks. So add up horrible procrastinator+ ADD+ Christmas hatred, and you can begin to imagine the ordeal that was Christmas shopping!

I am sure I am the only person in the world who has ever been the last person out of Sears on Christmas Eve three years in a row! While a lot of people go to the 24 hour Walgreen's to get a last minute gift or two, I am probably the only person in the country to ever do half his shopping at 11 p.m. Christmas Eve!

It got a bit better when I discovered Meijer! For those of you unfamiliar with Meijer, think of Super Walmart, only bigger, cleaner, with produce thats actually fresh, meat that actually looks edible, and cashiers with all their teeth who are occasionally even pleasant. For a long time, the nearest Meijer was 45 miles away in Benton Harbor. So I developed a Christmas ritual, On December 22 or 23, I would leave the house about 9 p.m., which would get me to Benton Harbor by 10. I'd get a cup of coffee and double cheeseburger at Steak and Shake just to fortify myself, and walk into Meijer at 11. I would shop until 4 or 5, write a check for approximately $1,000, and pack up the car. My theory was, if you couldn't find it at Meijer, you probably didn't need it anyway! I would then start wrapping gifts as soon as the kids went to bed on Christmas Eve. I became very adept at wrapping gifts, knowing that if I hurried, I could make it to the bar before last call. A couple of good strong drinks and a few beers, and I was able to relax enough to sleep a few hours before the kids woke up! This ritual of last minute shopping lasted over 30 years, till a couple of years ago. But I can tell you that I am now a reformed Christmas procrastinator. Not only am I done shopping at least a week before Christmas, I am actually beginning to ENJOY the holiday! What, you ask, could cause such a sudden change in a man (no, I didn't get religion)? Two things. Granddaughters and the internet.

The internet has to be the best thing that ever happened Christmas shopping! No longer do you have to fight traffic on your way to the mall. No more horn honking and bird flipping. No more tug of war with the 300 lb. sistah with the razor hair over the last copy of Madden 2003 available in the free world. No more arguing with sales clerks because the sale sign says the price is lower than the computer says it is. No more swallowing Rollaids and Prozac by the hands full.

Now, I sit down at the computer with a mug of Columbia Supremo and a six pack of Leinenkugel. I go to and compare prices for all the items on my list. Sponge Bob Big Wheel for Sierra, found it. Click on it, it's mine. Barbie's Dreamhouse for Savannah, click on it, mine again. Movies, computer accessories, gift cards, toiletries... click, click, click click, mine, mine, mine, mine! Hey done shopping in one coffee and two beers, a new personal best!

The internet to me is what Marley's ghost was to Scrooge. It has given me back Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2005


with apologies to Dan and Keith, IT'S THE BIG BLOG

On the BIG BLOG this weekend:
BUSH: Could he be impeached?
From the PEOPLE UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT DEPT: Three words you never thought you'd hear together in a sentence!



NHL REVENUES UP DRAMATICALLY (who are the big winners?)


Well, if the matter actually made it to the Senate floor, yes. Not only are virtually all the Dems in the Senate furious over the President's authorization of NSA spying on US citizens in country, but a large number of Republicans as well. Including highly respected and influential conservatives like John Warner and Richard Lugar. It appears to be increasingly clear to most members of the senior chamber that this president is completely lacking in the character and intellect necessary to run this country. The NY Times article is only the latest in a series of damaging revelations about the conduct of the man in the oval office. It was just last week we heard he had so little respect for the constitution he referred to it as "just a piece of paper." This latest revelation certainly confirms his disdain for the founding document. And his immediate attempt to deflect blame to the bearer of bad tidings, The NY Times, certainly corroborates, again, a total lack of character!

It appears that a majority of Senators are becoming genuinely fearful of this presidents grab for more and more power. Their failure to renew the Patriot Act this week was indicative, especially since some of those leading the fight against renewal were conservatives like John Sununu.

But there are two things working against impeachment. First, any move toward impeachment would have to begin in the much more radically conservative and intellectually shallow House of Representatives. Second, the prospect of a President Cheney or President Hastert might be such a chilling prospect that Congress will decide they prefer the "devil known"

NPR did a story this week about the secret courts used to get warrants for national security surveillance. It seems the FBI is upset at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court's reluctance to provide warrants for searching library records. According to an FBI internal email:
"The inability of FBI investigators to use this seemingly effective tool has had a direct and clearly adverse impact on our terrorism cases. While radical militant librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit..."
Radical militant librarians??? WTF? Talk about people unclear on the concept! I have this mental image of a little old lady with a bun in her hair, wearing camouflage culottes, black t-shirt and red beret with an Uzi slung over her shoulder, peering over a pair of reading glasses and asking me if I intend to pay my late fee today!

HOCKEY FRIDAY (on Saturday)
Chicago Stadium by Daniel John Campbell


Known as the "Madhouse on Madison", Chicago Stadium rivaled Detroit's Olympia as the loudest building I have ever been in. It was a horribly tough place for opponents to play because of the crowd noise, small ice surface, and the fact that the crowds were so close to the ice. And then there was the organ.

The organ was built in 1929 in Oshkosh WI. It was so large it took 24 railroad cars to transport it. Built at the then astronomical cost of $120,000, it could attain the decibel level of 25 one hundred piece brass bands playing at the same time. When the Blackhawks would score a goal, they would play a full volume diminished chord that sounded like you were about to be run over by a freight train. The organ had a beautiful sound, and the music during the pregame warm ups could be awe inspiring!

The Stadium was built in 1928-29 at a cost of $9.5 million. At the time it was the largest indoor arena in the world. It was also the first arena to feature air conditioning. Of course, the a/c was somewhat rudimentary, and the Stadium was famous for late season games played in fog! It seated 17,317 for hockey.

The stadium held a number of historic events during it's day, including 6 national political conventions, the first NFL playoff game (incidentally also the first indoor football game), which was moved indoors and played on an 80yd field due to inclement weather. The Stadium was the last NHL facility to keep time on a huge 4-sided analog clock which hung over center ice.

I saw quite a number of games at the stadium, and have great memories of Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Glenn Hall, Phil and Tony Esposito, Pierre Pilotte, Denis Savard, Al Secord, Steve Larmer, and my all time favorite Hawk, Doug Wilson. I don't think I have ever seen a more awe inspiring sight than Bobby Hull carrying the puck up ice at full speed, then unloading that monster slap shot!

Next to the Olympia and Yost Arena, the old Stadium was the best place I ever saw a game. It is greatly missed!

Contrary to the prevailing opinion, the salary cap will not go down next year. In fact, it appears it will go up by six million a team. To paraphrase old Mark Twain, rumors of the NHL's death were greatly exaggerated! This also means the maximum salary will rise from $7.5 mil to $9 mil. So who will benefit the most?

A number of high profile free agents, including Marty Turco, Zdeno Chara, and Wayne Redden.

The Carolina Hurricane, already one of the leagues premier teams, are currently well below the cap. They will have approximately $16 mil to work with. Look for a bidding war between the Red Wings and Hurricane for former Wolverine goaltender Turco.

The Detroit Red Wings. Next years Wings will be loaded with a whole bunch of very talented young, inexpensive players. They will free up several million dollars with the retirement of Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios, and likely, Jiri Fischer. This will give them plenty of room to go after a world class goalie and /or high profile player or two.



my office last night, and laid hands on my computer. Because, when I fired it up to attempt to read my email.. IT WAS CURED! Screen bright as the day I bought the computer. IT'S A MIRACLE! PRAISE THE LORD, AND SEND $100 IMMEDIATELY!

So hopefully we'll have a special BIG BLOG before the end of the weekend. My usual cynical commentary plus a belated HOCKEY FRIDAY. I know tshsmom will be relieved ! She couldn't bear the thought doing without HF! It must be tough for her knowing the 4th ranked Golden Gophers don't play again until Dec. 29 (against Canisius)!

Friday, December 16, 2005




Saturday, December 10, 2005



now cooking at the The Church Potluck: BRAN MUFFINS

22 November 2005
Madness of war memo
By Kevin Maguire And Andy Lines

PRESIDENT Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a "Top Secret" No 10 memo reveals.
But he was talked out of it at a White House summit by Tony Blair, who said it would provoke a worldwide backlash.

A source said: "There's no doubt what Bush wanted, and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it." Al-Jazeera is accused by the US of fueling the Iraqi insurgency. {read the entire story HERE}

I don't get it. I listen to NPR all day. I get the BBC , NPR, Detroit News, and South Bend Tribune headlines delivered to my desktop daily. I pride myself in being a "news junkie". So how did I manage to miss this? It apparently has been the hot news item in the UK for over two weeks now. The UK's Attorney General is prosecuting two men for leaking this top secret memo! So how is it that it apparently is getting next to no coverage here? I am not usually one to be a conspiracy theorist. But how could the msm POSSIBLY be missing this one? It appears more like deliberate avoidance to me. Since the Bush Administration came to power, there have been a number of sensitive issues ignored by the media until the coverage on the net got so intense they were virtually forced to pay attention. I am beginning to become convinced that this is more than just incompetence or laziness on the part of journalists. It certainly appears journalists are being "discouraged" (a nice way of saying intimidated) from reporting on these topics.

This story is the second one I've read today that is leaving me with the sickening feeling that Dubya is more than just a likable, incompetent dolt. I believe he's become mentally unbalanced, and worse, so have key members of his advisory staff. How could any one in his/her right mind possibly believe that anything positive could come of bombing a respected news organization's headquarters. Especially on the soil of one of the few real allies we have in the middle east, Qatar. Not to mention that Al Jazeera was founded by the young, London educated ruler of Qatar in order to establish an independent, western style news outlet for the Arab world. This has to be a huge affront to a very important ally! What the fuck could these people possibly have been thinking? This story certainly casts doubt that the bombing of the Al Jazeera news outlet in Iraq, in which a respected journalist was killed was "accidental".

And how much worse off would the whole situation in the middle east be without Tony Blair? This isn't the first time we have seen evidence that Blair has dissuaded Bush from doing something completely rash and stupid!

The other story that leads me to doubt the sanity of Bush and certain of his "team" comes from NEW YORK magazine via Josh Marshall at TALKING POINTS MEMO. According to the magazine:
Bush-administration officials privately threatened organizers of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, telling them that any chance there might’ve been for the United States to sign on to the Kyoto global-warming protocol would be scuttled if they allowed Bill Clinton to speak at the gathering today in Montreal, according to a source involved with the negotiations who spoke to New York Magazine on condition of anonymity.

Bush officials informed organizers of their intention to pull out of the new Kyoto deal late Thursday afternoon, soon after news leaked that Clinton was scheduled to speak, the source said.

The threat set in motion a flurry of frantic back-channel negotiations between conference organizers and aides to Bush and Clinton that lasted into the night on Thursday, and at one point Clinton flatly told his advisers that he was going to pull out and not deliver the speech, the source said. (read rest of story)

This amounts to little more than an administration "temper tantrum". Does any one else detect a distinct lack of stability here?

I came across this from our friend Glenn in New Orleans. It breaks my heart.

Malaise and Despair

Malaise, despair, and suicide are becoming common now. And no one not here living day to day in this dark swamp comprehends or cares what is happening to us.

Each morning brings greater clarity to the vacuum of leadership at the local, state, and federal levels. We begin to see the decades of neglect and criminal disregard that gambled that a devastating storm would not happen. People whose job it was to envision the reality of late August did not do so, preferring to believe there was time enough to think about that tomorrow. And tomorrow was, of course, another day.

Unfortunately, tomorrow is yesterday now, and we are suffering. Does anyone hear? It doesn’t seem so. I begin to wonder if New Orleans wasn’t truly a unique American city – more unlike any other city in this country than any of us ever realized.

I don’t mean the picture-postcard aspects of New Orleans. Any place can be photographed in forms and shades of beauty. It’s the nature of pictorial representation to aspire to a degree of beauty even when its subject matter is the monstrous or the catastrophic. No, no one who has not lived here and submitted to the seductions of New Orleans can understand our grief.

She is a city of rhythms and keening voices, a sensuous city, tactile in her wet heat. She is a city of generations. People here lived in homes their great-grandparents had built. Elsewhere in the nation, people reside in cities where they have jobs. They stay in houses where they eat and sleep and wake to leave to drive to work again. Here, for more than two centuries, we have lived in homes in neighborhoods where we celebrated together the sacred rites of birth and life and passing and birth and life again and yet again, seemingly never to end until the end of time.

Can anyone not here understand what we risk losing? Is there anyone left to care?

Friday, December 09, 2005


HOCKEY FRIDAY, featuring....

MAPLE LEAF GARDENS by Daniel John Campbell


VINDICATION (the Great One and me)



Ancient Temples Of The Hockey Gods, part 2: MAPLE LEAF GARDENS

Back in the days of my youth, before UHF television, you only had a choice of three television stations, the local affiliates of ABC, NBC, and CBS. Unless you lived in a city on the Canadian border, which meant you also received the local Canadian Broadcasting Corporation affiliate. This was a very good thing if you were a hockey fan, because while hockey was never broadcast on the US networks, you got to watch it every Saturday night via the CBC's HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA. You also got to watch CROSS CANADA CURLING every Saturday afternoon. But, I digress. Because almost all of these games were broadcast from either the Montreal Forum or Maple Leaf Gardens, you soon came to think of these venues as special. I have a deep abiding love for the Gardens, even though I never have actually been inside (and only viewed from the outside a couple of times). Some of my fondest memories are of Saturday nights spent listening to Bill Hewitt, or occasionally, Dan Kelly, calling the games from the Gardens.

Maple Leaf Gardens was built by Leafs owner Conn Smythe in 1932 for a then huge sum of $1.5 million. Affectionately known as the "Cashbox On Carleton Street", it holds a record unmatched in the history of professional sports! Every Leafs game played there from 1946 to the final game in 1999 was a sellout. 53 straight years of sellouts. A lot of teams would be happy to sell out 53 straight games. Originally seating 12,000 fans, Smythe, and later owner Harold Ballard, eventually found very creative ways to fit more seats into the Garden, and by the time the Leafs played their last game there, seating capacity was just shy of 16,000. Ballard also had an apartment suite built in the Gardens, and lived there until his death in 1990.

When I think of the Gardens, my thoughts always turn to the great players who I loved to hate when I was a kid. Frank Mahavolich, the "Big M", with his long powerful strides. Davy Keon, the scrappy little center who had a knack for big timely goals and assists. The fluid skating of defensemen Carl Brewer and Marcel Pronovost, and the hard shooting, hard hitting Tim Horton (who also made the best donuts and coffee in Canada). And the ancient Johnny Bower, the goalie who didn't even make it to the big leagues until the age most guys are retired, and backstopped the Leafs to their last 4 Stanley Cups.

Today, Maple Leaf Gardens sits empty and unused on the corner of Carleton and Church streets in Toronto. There is a plan underway to keep the exterior in tact, and turn the building into a giant Home Depot type store. I guess it could be worse.. could be a Wal Mart.

A few weeks ago, a lot of people were calling ESPN Radio's DAN PATRICK SHOW complaining about Wayne Gretzky's coaching. I said at the time I was impressed with his style, his staff, and the system he was using, and that once the players became comfortable with it, the Coyotes would probably be a better team than their talent would dictate. Well, the Yotes have won 7 of their last 10 games, and are now just one point out of the final playoff spot. The Great One and the Great White Bear both feel vindicated.

1. Jack Johnson, D, Michigan - drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes, this freshman defenseman is a STUD. A great skater, physical, and in possession of great offensive skills, You could see him in the NHL as early as next year, especially if the Wolverines win the national championship.
2. Jack Skille, RW, Wisconsin - Chicago Blackhawks draftee is having a huge freshman season in Madison. He is playing big minutes and is among the team leaders in both goals and assists on the #1 team in the country. He will face a lot of pressure to turn pro next year, as the Blackhawks are desperate for offense. Like Johnson, he is playing hockey in his home town, and that could be a deciding factor in whether or not he stays in Madison past this year.
3. Brian Lee, D, North Dakota - another freshman D putting up big offensive numbers. A great powerplay quarterback! The Senators have his draft rights, and with Zedeno Chara and Wayne Redden potential free agents, Lee my face a lot of pressure to join Ottawa next season.
4. Sasha Pokulak, D, Cornell - sophomore is property of the Capitals. He is a big, tough defenseman whose game is a bit raw. But give him a couple of more years playing in the east, and he'll be a great, physical, defensive defenseman in the NHL.
5. T.J. Oshie, C, North Dakota - Blues draftee is leading team in scoring as a freshman. The fact that he might have to play in St. Louis may keep him from turning pro for a couple of years.
6. Andrew Cogliano , C, Michigan - has blazing speed, and is among the CCHA scoring leaders. Oilers have his rights, but don't seem to be in a hurry to rush his development. Which means we may actually get to se him in Ann Arbor for at lest another year or two.
7. Joe Finley, D, North Dakota - tough, physical defenseman who, as a freshman, is logging a lot of ice time for the Fighting Sioux. Washington has his draft rights.
8. Matt Niskanen, D, Minnesota-Duluth - this freshman is extremely athletic, a great skater, and a great powerplay quarterback. Dallas Stars look to him as Sergei Zubov's heir apparent!

As you may know, I am a big fan of college hockey! There is a lot of really great hockey being played at the NCAA level. And compared to professional hockey it is a bargain. College hockey is a great way for a family to spend the evening together. So if you live close to a college with a hockey program, check it out. You won't be sorry!

5 weeks ago, the Detroit Red Wings appeared to be by far the best team in the NHL. Pundits were already handing them the Stanley Cup. And in the Eastern conference, only Ottawa appeared to have a shot at derailing the Carolina Hurricanes as best of the east. Then reality stepped up. A grueling schedule that saw the Wings play 5 more games than anyone else in the league began to take it's toll. Fatigue and injuries beset Detroit, and they began to lose games in bunches. Now they are only 1 point ahead of Nashville in their division, and Nashville has 4 games in hand. Their best forward (Robert Lang) is out indefinitely with a groin pull. Their best defenseman (Jiri Fischer) is suffering from a career threatening heart ailment, and their #1 goalie, Manny Legace, is out with bum knee.

Likewise the Hurricane have suffered through a rash of injuries to key players, and have started to lose as many as they win. Which leaves Ottawa as clearly the class of the league. And it should stay that way, as long as Dominic Hasek remains healthy. He may be the best goaltender in the history of the world, and if he stays healthy, with all the Sens firepower, no one should touch them on the way to the Cup. Funny though, that's what folks were saying about the Wings 5 weeks ago. Guess that's why they play 80 games!

Tears: Stevie Y quits Canadian Olympic team, saying he is not playing well enough to take a spot from a younger player!
Cheers: Super Mario's recent heart problem doesn't appear to be serious, and he should be back on the ice soon.

coming next HOCKEY FRIDAY: Chicago Stadium, top 10 left wings of all time.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005



Strange day in the news. First there was the specter of Condi telling the world that US law requires that Americans adhere to the UN conventions on torture anywhere in the world. At the same time she is defending the US practice of kidnapping terror suspects and turning them over to other governments to torture. Meanwhile, George Bush is lobbying Congress to exempt the CIA from the anti torture statutes coming up for a vote soon. Pogo was right!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005



Daniel Schorr

John McCain

Daniel Schorr's commentary Sunday morning disturbed me a great deal. According to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, only 24% of Americans believe the Republican party represents their interests. Worse, only 26% of Americans believe that the Democratic party represents their interests. This means that virtually half of all Americans believe that nobody represents their interests. Schorr believes that unless something drastically changes, turnout for elections in November may reach historic lows.

I find this very disturbing for a couple of reasons. First, anytime you have an election with a turnout that low, you automatically leave the outcome to the most radical elements of society. If only the most ideologically motivated elements of society participate, it opens the door for radical policies that almost always end in restricting freedoms and concentrating power to the ruling elite.

It is especially disturbing that the Democrats aren't doing better. It's understandable why the Republicans are doing so poorly. An unpopular war, an economy and tax policy that favors the rich and marginalizes the working class, huge budget deficits, a scandal a day (and according to John McCain, we've haven't seen anything yet). Yet, the Democrats have been able to do little to take advantage the Republican's incompetence and corruption. They are viewed as having little better to offer, and if the war is unpopular, people remember precious few Dems voting against it. In many minds, it is a question of which is worse. A party whose leadership is incompetent, or a party whose leadership is non existent. Moderate Americans appear to be saying "a pox on both your houses."

McCain points out that the real tragedy of this situation is that the disillusion of young people is making it extremely difficult to attract vibrant, creative young people into politics. Again, this does not bode well for our future. In an interview on NPR's FRESH AIR this afternoon, McCain was extremely critical of Congress, and it's absolute failure of leadership. Not only on the budget, but on homeland security and ethics. He echoed the sentiments members of the 911 commission, who were also extremely critical of both the Administration and Congress for their utter failure of leadership in tackling Homeland Security issues.

John McCain interview: FRESH AIR

Did anyone hear Condi's comments on the administration and torture this morning? I wonder if the good fathers at her alma matter will allow her to take communion next time she returns here after telling those whoppers? Thing is, she gives every appearance of not believing her own words! I think if I were the Prez, I'd at least try to send out someone who was a convincing liar! I thought that's what he has Dick for. Although, I have seen a few things in the press that would lead one to believe that the Dick is in Dubya's doghouse. A little late to be pissed off about bad advice isn't it?

Saturday, December 03, 2005



As tens of thousands of mourners paid their last respects, the man who Pele' called "the best player I ever saw" was laid to rest yesterday in Belfast.

George Best led Manchester United to 2 English league and 1 European championship. His unkept movie star looks and celebrity life style earned him the nickname the "5th Beatle". He was a driving force popularizing soccer in the US while playing for the Los Angeles Aztecs and the San Jose Earthquake.

More about Best here

Friday, December 02, 2005



HOCKEY FRIDAY will be delayed because I spent my whole damn day off at the local walk in clinic. Unfortunately, my DOT physical is due. So, thinking that I'd get there before the clinic opened at 8, I made sure I was up and showered early. I arrived only to find they open at seven. As I was getting out of my car, a thirty something woman was leaning on her teenage son, limping badly. Then a car pulled up and two teenage boys jumped out and opened the back door. A moment later, they were carrying a young woman, one on each side of her, into the office. She had a splint on her leg made of a 2x4 and duct tape. I found out later she was in a carpentry class at school and had fallen on the site where the kids were building a house. A couple of creative boy scouts had administered the first aid and drove her to MedPoint. Anyhow, when we got inside, there were only 5 people ahead of me, so I thought, how long could this take?

So I fill out my paperwork, hand it in, and the lady tells me that I can't leave the room or go outside until after my physical, because I can't pee in the cup until after the doctor examines me... and if I leave we have to start the whole process over tomorrow. Now this presents a problem! I have plans for Saturday, so I don't want to leave. On the other hand, I have taken an extra diuretic, just to make sure my blood pressure is acceptable. I already have to go. The lady says, "sorry, not unless you want to come back tomorrow. But it shouldn't be to long, as soon as we have an examination room open, we'll get you right in." Well, let me tell you....

The place has 5 examination rooms, and there were only 5 people in front of me. Unfortunately, all these people had fallen and injured themselves. Which meant that they had to go down to x-ray, have a picture taken of the injured appendage, then go back and wait for the x-ray to be developed, and read by the one already overworked physician on duty. So while I was next in line for a room, the rooms were all occupied and no one was going anywhere fast.

Two hours pass, and I am now feeling like the proverbial child who ate so many pickles, the juice ran down his leg. And the old lady with the scowl is keepin her eye on me. I am sure by this time my eyes were bulging and face turning red. Desperate times... then, A BREAK! A young woman comes in and tells her she is there to relieve her for lunch. Old scowly pants heads for the fridge and microwave and I make my move. While the two young office hands are gossiping, I sneak past the window and make a break for the restroom. Once inside, I do a fine imitation of Tom Hanks in A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN. About three minutes pass by the time I am done. I kinda sidle back down the hall. I peek around the corner. Office girls still gossiping, old scowly pants nowhere in sight. I nonchalantly walk back in and sit down. About 30 seconds later, OSP returns to her spot at the computer, none the wiser.

Two more hours pass when, suddenly, the door bursts open and out comes miss teenage carpenter, sans 2x4 but with a hard foam cast and crutches. Which means OPEN EXAM ROOM... YEAH!

So I go back and nurse checks my eyes, ears, bp, weight (lost another 10 lbs), heart rate. She then tells me the doctor will be in to see me soon. And I realize I have a new problem. I will soon have to pee in a cup. I spent all morning bitching about how bad I had to pee, and now I don't have to AT ALL! How suspicious is it going to look if I suddenly have a shy bladder? Fortunately, there is a sink in the room and little tiny shot glass sized Dixie cups. So now I am standing at the sink, throwing down shots of water like a sorority girl throws down tequila shooters. I hear voices in the hall, and manage to get seated just as the doctor opens the door. He listens to me breathe, listens to my heart, checks the ears and throat, fondles the boys, says cough, and just like that, I am out of there and headed to the lab. Just about the time the pretty lady hands me the cup and says fill it to the white line, I can feel the H2O shooters starting to kick in. Halleluyah, Saints be praised, he is fillin the cup to the white line! Before you can say "mareseatoatsanddoeseatoatsandlittlelambseativy" I am out the door. It is now 3:00. I've been there since just before 8. I have to be home and get my daughter to work by 3;45. And I have a new problem. I am starving!

In order to make sure my blood sugars were under control (don't want no surprises), I haven't eaten since 9:45 am Thursday. So, I make a brief side trip to Micky D's, get a double quarterpounder w/cheese, large fries, and large iced tea. Snarf it down on the way home. Still hungry. Remember that Shelley made brownies the night before. Arrive home, head straight for the kitchen. Snarf down a couple of large brownies like Harold and Kumar sucking down sliders. Take Shelley to work, feel that headache coming on. Realize that I am now about 100 oz of coffee behind schedule. Call my buddy Ron, head for the gag and heave. Kill a couple of cups of coffee, starting to feel better. Realize I am STILL hungry. Down an order of biscuits and gravy and American fries. Now I don't feel so hot. Go home. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, glug, glug, glug. Lay down. Sleep till Shelley is off work. Pick her up, stop at liquor store for a six pack of Old Milwaukee. Arrive home, pop a beer, start typing. Now on third beer, almost done typing!

And that, my friends, is why there is no HOCKEY FRIDAY this Friday!

Now cooking at THE CHURCH POTLUCK: Roast Brisket of Beef

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