Sunday, November 27, 2005



Arlo, now and then.

Forty years ago on Thanksgiving Day, an 18 yr old kid from Stockbridge, MA committed a thoughtless crime. Not only would this crime keep him out of the army, the saga would become immortalized on maps, t-shirts, and of course, in song. The song has become a Thanksgiving Day classic, and gets played about 5 times a day on every pop and rock station in the country during Thanksgiving week. Click on this post's title bar to hear Arlo tell the story of THE ALICE'S RESTAURANT MASSACRE.

Hockey Friday will return next Friday.

Now cooking at THE CHURCH POTLUCK: Bill Knapp's Au Gratin Potatoes, and Bill Knapp's Famous Biscuits

Friday, November 25, 2005


"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work... I want to achieve it through not dying" - Woody Allen



HOCKEY FRIDAY is being postponed till Sunday, due to preparations for tomorrows late Thanksgiving dinner. I did want to take a brief moment to mention the passing of one of football's greatest legends. NO, not THAT football. The REAL football!

GEORGE BEST died yesterday at the age of 59. During the 60's and early 70's he was the best soccer player in the world. But he was also much, much more. His movie star good looks, love of booze, broads, and fast cars made him an A list pop star, running in the same circles as Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, Britt Eklund, Steve Winwood, et al. He appeared on the cover of teen magazines, and millions of young women swooned. He almost singlehandedly popularized soccer in this country, as all those swooning teenage girls would soon enough become parents and give birth to the "soccer mom" phenomenon. I guess that kind of makes him responsible for mini vans too... but I digress!

After his career ended, best quickly fell into alcoholism and bankruptcy. He quit the booze, but not in time to save his liver. He had to undergo a transplant, and the drugs that kept his body from rejecting his new liver left him open to infections. He was hospitalized a few months ago with a kidney infection, and never recovered.

My biggest memory of Best was from a photo magazine pic of Rod Stewart and Best, each with a bottle of beer in hand, playing soccer. It was the perfect picture to capture the essence of George Best, pop star athlete.

Thursday, November 24, 2005



Some of you may remember that shortly after the battle for Falujah, I posted about the US illegally using napalm, which was banned internationally in 1975. I came across this post on BLONDESENSE today. I thought you might find it very interesting. I sure did!

Currently at THE CHURCH POTLUCK:Meatloaf, Biscuits and Gravy

Wednesday, November 23, 2005



I volunteered to work Thanksgiving day. It is hard to look at what has happened to the America my Dad and uncles fought so hard to build and feel thankful. Sad and angry, yes. Thankful, NO!

Tom Brokaw called them THE GREATEST GENERATION. If you look at what my parents generation accomplished, it is truly amazing. Besides saving the world from Fascism, they ended Jim Crow in the south, guaranteed voter rights for blacks, and desegregated schools. THE GREAT SOCIETY tackled pervasive poverty, especially in the rural south and Appalachia. And there was that little thing about putting a man on the moon. And just to prove they still had it, they went out and won the Cold War. By the time they started retiring around 1980, poverty was at an all time low, the gap between the wealthy and the working class was at an historic low, and American's were enjoying a standard of living unseen in history. Most Americans had affordable health insurance, and union negotiated retirement plans allowed them to retire in comfort.

So what has happened in the intervening 25 years? In 1980, less than 11% of Americans lived below the poverty line. Today, over 18% live in poverty. Millions of Americans who have worked their entire adult life expecting a decent retirement are about to find that their companies were allowed to underfund their pensions, and that retirement is about to go up in smoke. According to the Dept. of Health and Human Services, 38 million Americans live unsure where their next meal is coming from. 40 million Americans are without health insurance, and an equal number are under insured. The wealthiest 1% of Americans control more of the nations wealth than the bottom 90%. The average CEO makes 500 times what his average hourly employee makes. Not even the Robber Baron's controlled so much of the nations wealth. As billionaire Warren Buffet put it, "we're engaged in a class war, and my side is winning".

In the last 25 years, neo conservatives have managed to reverse most of the economic gains the greatest generation made in 50 years. How did this happen? Call it Madison Avenue's greatest accomplishment! A concerted effort to purchase influence, combined with a strategy of dividing the opposition, has allowed this small number of men to accumulate vast amounts of power and unimaginable wealth. They have accomplished much of this through the politics of divide and conquer.

In one of my many incarnations as a student a few years back, I was one of sixty some students in a sociology course. The professor asked us this question. Which minority group has benefited most from affirmative action? a) Black men; b) Black women; c) White women; d) Hispanic men; e) Hispanic women. And conversely, what group has been most adversely affected by affirmative action?

All but a handful of students agreed that Black men had benefitted most, while white males were most adversely affected. But in reality, it was White women who by far benefitted most from affirmative action. And in fact, Black males were most adversely affected (due to the fact that if an employer hired a black woman, he effectively got credit for hiring two minorities, leaving Black men SOL). Even though there was no remote basis in fact for the belief, a vast majority of these students, even the Black students, were convinced that Black males had benefitted to the detriment of White males. This is how the politics of divide and conquer works. Play to the irrational fears of your opponents, in this case race. And conservative politicians did it brilliantly. Remember Ronald Reagan and the story of the welfare queen in Detroit who had thirteen illegitimate children and drove a Cadillac El Dorado? He repeated this story all over the country, even though there wasn't an ounce of truth to it! But, he repeated it so often and so convincingly that people believed it to be true. Conservative politicians and commentators managed to convince white male workers that somehow THEY were the victims of discrimination! Now it would seem obvious that White workers would have more in common with Black workers than with the wealthy elite. Yet White male workers, and in particular unionized White male workers, crossed over by the thousands and voted Republican. In large enough numbers that the Republicans were able to wrest the South and some key Northern constituencies from the Democrats, and win the Whitehouse. And how did Reagan and the Republicans repay the so called Reagan Democrats? By immediately pushing legislation to effectively hamstring the very unions responsible for all the gains workers made in the previous half century. One only need look at health benefits and pensions to realize how effective they were!

So I am working Thanksgiving Day. Quite frankly, it is impossible be thankful while watching all the monetary, health, and welfare benefits my Dad and uncles fought so hard for carelessly discarded. To watch as corporations blatantly hire illegal aliens in order to hold down wages, then move those same jobs out of the country to take benefit of even lower wages and to avoid those pesky environmental laws. Reaping record profits while working folks paychecks continue to shrink. Yeah, might as well try to stave off homelessness and take the extra hours!


Now cooking at THE CHURCH POTLUCK: MEATLOAF (Heavenly Midwestern Comfort Food)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


MITCH ALBOM: Time stood still

Great column by Mitch in this mornings Free Press!

Now cooking at THE CHURCH POTLUCK: Biscuits and Gravy

Monday, November 21, 2005



I was listening to the Wings game online as I was preparing a post titled WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY PARENTS AMERICA when it happened. Play was stopped and all eyes in the arena turned toward the Red Wings bench, where the team's trainers and doctor were frantically working on a player. Almost immediately, they began performing CPR on the player, who was lying on the floor in the runway. Because of the crowd surrounding him, no one could make out his number. After a few minutes, an ambulance arrived at the Zamboni entrance, and Kris Draper and Robert Lang quickly skated over and retrieved the stretcher. Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shannahan escorted a young women across the ice to the Wing's bench.

I am sure that every old time Detroit sports fan had the same ugly flashback that I did. Oct. 24, 1971. Tiger Stadium. The Bear's Dick Butkus frantically waving to the sidelines for medical help as the rest of the two teams huddled. Second year wide receiver Chuck Hughes lying motionless on the turf. Lions players had thought he was faking an injury to stop the clock. However, Butkis had seen him collapse, and new immediately it was serious. Hughes was never revived. The 24 yr old had died of a massive heart attack brought on by amphetamine use. It would be 20 years before the Lions franchise would recover. And to this day I can see the scene as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. At the small college I attended here in South Bend, the majority guys living on campus were either from northern Indiana or metro Detroit. So when the Lions and Bears played the TV room in the dorm was filled with rival fans. I was sitting on a leather couch on the north wall facing the TV. Seated next to me was a fellow Pontiac native, Doyle Perry. I don't think I have ever been in a room full of men that was so quiet as that group. You could literally hear big Doyle's heart beat.

So it was that day in 1971 that was on my mind when the announcement came over the PA that 25 yr old Jiri Fisher was breathing on his own, but still unconscious. A few minutes later, it was announced that the league office had postponed the game, but that Fisher was awake at the hospital and talking to his fiance.

It had been an odd scene in the stands at the Joe. Nobody could see what was going on, and people were standing in the upper concourse frantically calling friends or family to find out what was going on. Then someone would rush down and relay the news to the people in their section. Because the radio and OLN crews were on top of the news, the fans actually knew long before the announcement came that Fisher had been revived and the game was going to be called. Yet most of them stayed, as if to make sure the news was really good.

The official line is that he suffered a seizure, although I don't recall ever seeing anyone's heart stop beating from a seizure. I'm sure we'll know more tomorrow. As for me, I am going to sit down, pop a beer, and breath a very audible sigh of relief.

Friday, November 18, 2005


HOCKEY FRIDAY, featuring....

print of Olympia Stadium by Daniel John Campbell


As the mood strikes me the next few weeks, I'll be talking about great hockey venues, including the old buildings of the original 6. Today we start with the temple where I spent many a night worshipping as a youth.

The Olympia Stadium in Detroit first opened in 1925, and remained the home of the Red Wings until 1979. It was a red brick building affectionately called the "Old Red Barn". Situated on the corner of Grand River Ave. and Grand Blvd., it was a stately building with a very warm, inviting look, especially at night, when the city lights gave the red brick a soft glow. The building had two decks, plus a mezzanine at one end. The mezzanine was my favorite place to view a game. You could really see the play unfolding from up there. And the acoustics of the building were such that the voices in the mezzanine could be heard over the din of the rest of the building. And the din!

Ask any oldtimer the biggest difference between the old arenas and the modern ones, and the first thing they'll talk about is the volume. The old arenas were LOUD. And among the original 6 temples, only Chicago Stadium rivaled the barn on the boulevard for decibel levels verging on torturous. Joe Louis Arena, the Wings current home, has the reputation of being among the leagues loudest arenas, and trust me, it is not close to the Olympia. The first game I saw at the Joe was a New Years eve game against the Blackhawks around 1983. The first thing my Dad commented on was how quiet it was. Which amazed my then 6 year old son Sean, who thought it was the loudest place he'd ever been.

My memories of the Olympia are numerous and grand. The legendary Canadians tough guy John Ferguson backing down from a fight with Gordie Howe. The fluid, almost mesmerizing skating of Delvechio and Gadsby. The unbelievably loud crack made when Bobby Hull launched a slap shot. The acrobatics of Sawchuk and Crozier. But my very best memory came during the 1966 Old Timers game. These games benefited (and still do) Wings Charities. That particular year, the Old Timers, plus Howe, Delvechio, Gadsby and Sawchuk, played the rest of the Red Wings. My mom was in management at Michigan Bell, and she got tickets through their travel agency right behind the Old Timers bench. She had always been a huge Ted Lindsay fan, and in an effort to get his attention so she could get his autograph, she reached under the glass partition with her leg and kinda nudged him. Lindsey got this incredulous look on his face, turned to Bob Goldham, and said "that lady KICKED me"! The look on Lindsey's face caused Goldham to bust out laughing. He turned to me, took my program, and got it signed by everyone on the team. Nine Hall of Famers: Gordie Howe, Alex Delvechio, Terry Sawchuck, Bill Gadsby. Ted Lindsey, Sid Abel, Bob Goldham, Bill Quakenbush, Black Jack Stewert. Unfortunately, the program was destroyed in a flood in 1986. It would probably be worth thousands now. But the memory of the look on Lindsey's face... Priceless!

Last week, I was properly castigated by an anonymous reader for not mentioning the Ottawa Senators. In my defense, I mentioned that before the season started, I had picked Ottawa to reach the Stanley cup finals (only to lose to Calgary). But it is becoming increasingly clear, to me at least, that Ottawa is the class of the league, and should be favored to win it all, with one caveat. That Dominic Hasek stays healthy. The last several years, the Senators have been a goaltender away from being a serious Cup contender. Now they have one of the best in the history of hockey, and who, so far, appears still capable of playing with the elite. Ottawa has been dominating teams with there offense, and surprise, surprise,, playing very solid D. And they are getting great leadership from their Captain, Daniel Alfredsson. Alfredsson is beginning to remind me of Steve Yzerman; quiet, steady, determined, leading by example. No one on the team will out work him. Willing to backcheck and do the grunt work, while challenging for the league scoring lead. The Sens appear to have matured into a team ready to take the Cup. They are my pick at this juncture of the season!

HOT: Ilya Kovalchuk, 6 goals in the last week.
HOTTER: Calgary 8-1-1 , Ottawa 8-2 in last 10 games
HOTTEST: The "Canes continue to roll, 9-1 in their last 10
COLD: Detroit Red Wings, lose 3 in a row, including debacle in Edmonton last night. They give up 4 straight goals in the third to cough up a 3-1 lead, then score 2 late to tie, only to lose in OT.
COLDER: Kris Draper, 0 goals, 0 assists, -1 in last 5 games.
COLDEST: Florida Panthers 1-9 in last 10 games.
DESPERATE: Columbus Blue Jackets trade for Sergei Federov, then waive Todd Marchant to make room under cap to pay him. Without injured Rick Nash, Jackets are in trouble. Yet, somehow, attendance is still holding up.

DID YOU KNOW? The largest crowd ever to see a hockey game was last years outdoor game between the University of Michigan and Michigan State. Over 76.000 fans were in attendance! And Minnesota has the nerve to call itself the State of Hockey. Guess that makes Michigan the Center of the Hockey Universe!

Not all the best places to watch hockey are in the NHL. Some are, for sure, but there are also some great minor league and college venues. Here are some of the best:

10. MacInnes Student Ice Arena, Houghton MI - Home of the Michigan Tech Huskies, it is said to have as good an ice surface as to be found in North America. Hard ice surface insures great, fast skating games.

9. War Memorial Coliseum, Ft. Wayne IN - home of the Ft. Wayne Komets of the UHL, The Coliseum was originally built in the early 50's for the NBA's Pistons, who a couple of years later bolted for Detroit. The arena originally held about 7,000 for hockey, with probably 1,000 being obstructed view. I first went to a Komets game way back in the early 70's, but hadn't been to a game there in about 10 years. So imagine my amazement when we returned last year for the Michigan/Notre Dame hockey game. Talk about an amazing remodeling job! All the old post seats are gone. They raised the roof and added a whole second deck. You enter through a beautiful glass atrium very similar to the Palace of Auburn Hills (ironically, home of the Detroit Pistons). The place now holds about 10,000 for hockey. It's loud, proud, and just a great venue. And the brats are great!

8. Mathews Arena, Boston MA- Home of the Northeastern University Huskies, it is said to have an ambiance like no other rink in America. Built in 1909, it has the charm of another era. Coaches love the feeling of history you get there, players and fans love the intimacy.

7. Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI - Home of the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, it is another old stadium that has gone under an amazing makeover. It is very similar to the Coliseum in Ft. Wayne, but in one of America's best downtowns.

6. United Center, Chicago, IL - Great sight lines, comfortable seats. Not near the ambiance of the old Chicago Stadium, but built on the same great site, close to all the fabulous dining and nightlife of Chicago. Too bad the hockey team has a dinosaur for an owner and a consistently bad team. Cause it's a great place to see a game!

5. Marriuci Center, Minneapolis, MN - Home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. Beautiful building, fabulous sight lines, and an Olympic sized ice surface. A number of the newer NHL arenas have been modeled after this one. Seats 9,700, always a sell out.

4. Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI - One of the first of the modern hockey palaces, and still one of the best. Great view from every seat in the house. Great location with fabulous view of the Detroit River and the Windsor, ONT skyline! Quick hop to fabulous Greektown, or run over to Corketown and have a cheeseburger at Nemo's or the legendary Hoot Robinsons.

3. Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH - The best arena in the NHL! We had a ball when we went there a couple of years ago! Fabulous Arena in a even more fabulous downtown. Go next door to Boca De Beppo for pizza after the game (the kitchen is so clean they take you on a tour of it on the way to your table). Or walk two blocks to the Flat Iron Grill and try the Pulled Pork with the Carolina mustard bbq sauce. Columbus' other hockey venue, Ohio State's Schottenstein Center, college hockey's largest arena with a 17,000 seat capacity, deserves an honorable mention.

2. Ralph Englestad Arena, Grand Forks, ND - Home of the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. Finest arena in college athletics, period! $100 million, 11,500 seat arena features solid granite concourse floors, and all seats are cherrywood and leather. Olympic sized ice surface. All games a sell out.

and the best place in America to see a hockey game is.......

1. Fielding H. Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, MI -
Welcome back to a different era. Yost Arena, home of the #1 team in the country, harkens back to a different place in time. Think of the old Butler Field House in the movie Hoosiers. In fact, Yost Fieldhouse is where Michigan's basketball games were played before they built Chrylser Arena in the late 60's. Intimate and just oozing in history and charm. Only holds 6,700. The U of M could build a new arena and easily sell out twice that many seats, but Michigan fans love Yost so much they wouldn't hear of it! If you are ever going to be in Ann Arbor, be sure to go on Ebay and bid on tickets. I guarantee you'll fall in love with both Yost, and downtown Ann Arbor.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005



I normally have very eclectic musical tastes. A glance at my iTunes list will display a quite large number of styles and genres. Alternative, Metal, and Class rock. Folk, Folk Rock, Americana, Celtic. Blues, Rockabilly, Country Swing, Big Band Jazz. But my musical tastes change suddenly if I become anxious or stressed. Long before I show any outward signs of anxiety, and certainly long before I can put a finger on the cause, you can tell something is up by what is playing on my radio, computer, or stereo.

I am a working class guy, descended from a long line of working class people. And when I get stressed. I immediately return to my roots. What I call working class rock. Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, pre-Glass Houses Billy Joel, Harry Chapin, Bon Jovi, George Thorogood. Guys who sing about working folks; their hopes, dreams, successes, and failures. About the issues that affect working folks. I realized this afternoon that I had been listening to an awful lot of The Boss the last couple of days. In particular, THUNDER ROAD. It took me a bit of time to figure out why, because there is nothing in particular going on in my life right now, and no one of the female persuasion to inspire these bouts of anxiety.

Then I realized that the brilliant bubba philosopher had hit the nail on the head. "It's the economy, stupid." I have come to realize just how misleading the governments inflation statistics are. Because most of the items we buy that would be considered non essential or luxury items are now made over seas by people making a dollar a day, the value of these items is actually deflated. They cost less and less. Which masks the fact that the costs of the essentials of life, especially shelter and energy, are going up much faster than wages. And when you are somebody who lives sans most of the luxuries anyhow... you can appreciate the anxiety. I have a feeling Bruce, Bob, Billy, Harry, et. al. will be getting a lot of play in the Bear household the next couple of years!

The Survey, via Dbackdad (play along if you dare)

1. What color are your kitchen plates? Mostly white, some blue and green.
2. What book(s) are you reading now? OUR ENDANGERED VALUES by Jimmy Carter
3. What or who is on your mousepad? Don't have a mouse, I use a trackball.
4. What's your favorite board game? Trivial Pursuit
5. Favorite Magazine? Salon, Slate, The American Prospect
6. Baked goods? Cherry Pie, Bran Bread, blueberry cobbler w/ rum sauce
7. Least favorite smell? Garbage, feet
8. What's the first thing you think in the morning? Damn, gotta pee AGAIN!
9. Favorite color? Blue, red
10. Least favorite color? Amber
11. How many rings before you answer the phone? I usually don't answer it unless it's one my kids. I let it go into voice mail and check it when I have hands free.
12. Future children's names? I am SO beyond that!
13. What's your sign and birthday? YIELD (to traffic on right), July 31
14. Do you eat the stems on your broccoli? That would mean I actually ate broccoli.
15. If you could have any job you wanted, what would it be? News analyst for NPR or a columnist. Unless, of course, Don Cherry's job on HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA should become available!
16. If you could have any color hair, what would it be? Hell, I'd just like to have HAIR!
17. Is the glass half full or half empty? Depends on what's in the glass.
18. Favorite movie(s)? Casablanca, Fried Green Tomatoes, Benny and Joon, Green Card
19. Do you type with the correct fingers on the keyboard? As long as I'm not using my toes, aren't they all correct?
20. What's under your bed? God only knows, and I'm afraid to find out!
21. What's your favorite number? Well, Mr. Hockey and The Golden Jet wore #9, so that would be it!
22. What's your single biggest fear? It already has been realized. I got too damned old to die young!
23. Person most likely to respond... Bucky4eyes, Squirl. They always respond to these because they are good sports. And apparently have too much time on their hands.
24. Least likely to respond? Can't think of anyone
25. Favorite CD? Rue Paul. Oh, you mean recording! That would be GREATEST STORIES LIVE, Harry Chapin
26. Favorite TV show? See above. Er, I mean, anything Law and Order, Hockey Night In Canada
27. Ketchup or Mustard? Mustard on dogs and brats, Catsup on burgers and meatloaf. Nothing but salt on fries.
28. Burgers or hot dogs? Either, I am an equal opportunity carnivore. Real favorite is smoked sausage!
29. Best place you've ever been to? Little Vermillion Lake in northwest Ontario. Any beach on Lake Michigan!
30. Most amazing sight? Northern Lights (Little Vermillion Lake, Ontario)
31. What is on your screen saver now? Dominic Monahan pics from LOST and LORD OF THE RINGS (I share computer with my 19 yr old daughter)
32. Favorite Burger? Double Cheeseburger at Steak and Shake (me and Jimmy Buffet)
33. Favorite Pet? My daughter's Airedale, Kipper

Sunday, November 13, 2005



John Haynes is a wealthy retired auto dealer. He is also a patriotic citizen, who is grateful for the sacrifices others have made so he could enjoy the fruits of his success. And when he found that the memorial at the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier had developed an unsightly crack, he thought he'd found the perfect way to show his gratitude. He found a perfect, 60 ton (that's 120,000 lbs. for those of you in Crawford TX) slab of Yuma marble. From the same quarry as the original monument. He purchased it, and even arranged and paid for the complex and expensive process of moving the behemoth stone. Thats when complications arose.

It seems that Arlington National Cemetery can't just accept such a generous gift. Their are regulations about such things. And the job might have to be let for competitive bidding. Like anyone can bid lower than FREE! FUCKING IDIOTS!

So, I would like to congratulate the superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery. For you sir, a place of honor right behind the Vice President has been reserved. In the guillotine line. Heads will roll!

Complete story HERE

Saturday, November 12, 2005



Pic on left is goalie Terry Sawchuk, before he started wearing a mask. Picture on right is Gerry Cheevers, who drew stitches on his mask every place he would have gotten cut without it.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


HOCKEY FRIDAY, featuring....

Picturered: Tomas Holmstrom, Terry Sawchuk

Who's hot. Who's not. The ghost of Terry Sawchuk. The best things to eat while watching the game. Plus, the Top 10 Defensemen of all time!

HE'S HOT: TOMAS HOLMSTROM! Holmer is making the most of playing on line 1A with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterburg. 7 goals in his last 5 games. Not content with junk rebound goals anymore, he is starting to take more shots, especially from around the face off circle. Turns out he has a much better shot than anyone thought!

HE' S HOTTER: Peter Forsberg is just on fire! 3 goals and 13 assists in his last 5 games. Comes out of nowhere to pass Eric Staal and Daniel Alfredsson for the league lead in points.

THEY'RE SMOKIN'!: The Detroit Red Wings are still red hot! 29 points (best in the league), their record is 14-2-1

SO ARE THEY!: How about those 'Canes? They've now won 8 in a row!

NOT SO MUCH: The Nashville Preds. The last team in the NHL to be unbeaten, they've now lost 3 of 6!

COLD: The Devils have lost 4 in a row. This is the first time in 20 years New Jersey has been below .500 after 15 games!

COLDER: After setting a torrid coal scoring pace, Jaromir Jagr went goaless in 4 games last week.

FREEZING OVER HADES EVERY GAME NIGHT!: The Blues, Blackhawks, and Jackets are the only teams in the Western Conference with losing records. How bad must they be? The answer: terrible! A lot of teams are fattening their records against these guys.

For the last forty years 40 years, Detroit has been known as a death trap for goal tenders. A lot of very talented goalies have wilted under the pressure of playing there. Stars like Glenn Hall and Roger Crozier couldn't take the heat for more than a couple of years. Ditto Cujo. Dominic Hasek was mostly mediocre in his one year there (until he got hot in the playoffs). The number of very talented young goaltenders whose careers tanked in Motown is legendary. Think Tim Cheveldae. Even Mike Vernon struggled mightily there, till he won the fans over taking on the much bigger Patrick Roy in the infamous brawl with the Avalanche. Vernie then went on to backstop the Wings to their first Cup in 40 years.

So why all the pressure playing in Detroit? Simple, the ghost of Terry Sawchuk. In North America's most rabid and knowledgeable hockey town, only the names Howe and Yzerman are more revered than Sawchuck. Sawchuk was considered the best goalie in NHL history, and won 5 Stanley Cups. Red Wings fans have very long memories. Sawchuk is the standard that all goalies in Hockeytown are held up against. Tough to stand up to best of all time. Roy Edwards managed for a few years. But really, only Greg Stephan managed to prosper in Motown for any given length of time.

Which makes Chris Osgood a special kind of guy. Traded out of Detroit a couple of years ago, he was actually dying to get back. Excited about it! You have to be tremendously laid back and thick skinned to thrive in Detroit. Osgood and his goaltending partner, Manny Legace, fit that bill to a T. Both have very similar personalities. They are close friends, and each is the ultimate team player. Which at least gives them a chance to survive Sawchuk's ghost. But, the jury is always out in Detroit!

When I was a kid, back in the days before UHF television, you only got to see 1 game a week on TV. HOCKY NIGHT IN CANADA was the only show in town. You always saw either Toronto or Montreal. Which means you only got to see the Wings play if they were playing one of the Canadian teams, and if that was the featured game. On those special nights, there was a ritual in the Spurrier household. Early light dinner. Then dad would go into the family room and build a fire in the fireplace. Mom would set out a bowl of apples, along with the apple slicer and salt shakers. Then she would fire up the popcorn popper. This fare was served with either Vernor's over ice, or cocoa. We would then spend the evening listening to the dulcet sounds of Foster Hewitt as he broadcast the game. To this day, there is nothing I like better than popcorn, apples, and Vernors during a hockey game.

1. BOBBY ORR- The most amazing player I ever saw. He revolutionized the game of hockey. Watching Bobby's end to end rushes, his fluid skating, his ability to thread a pass through an opening nobody else would even see was just breathtaking to watch. Possessed not only of a blazing slapshot, but a powerful, extremely accurate wrist shot, he was an offensive force. Even so, his speed and ice awareness meant he seldom got caught caught up ice. As a defenseman, he was always in position to make a play. 8 straight Norris Trophies, 2 Conn Smythe Trophies, 3 Hart Trophies, 2 Stanley Cups. In 1971 he was an amazing +124. Complete Bio

2. DOUG HARVEY - Maybe the most complete player to ever play the game. He was a tenacious, physical defenseman, a great shot blocker. But he also was as good as any defenseman (except Orr) in history at leading a counter attack or quarterbacking a powerplay. Just his presence on the ice intimidated people. 11 straight years an All-Star, 10 first team. 7 Norris Trophies in 8 years. 6 Stanley Cups. Complete Bio

3. EDDIE SHORE - probably the first defenseman in history capable of completely taking over a game. He was tough, mean as hell, and played hockey with a 'hell bent for leather' style that earned him the nickname "old blood and guts". His first year in the NHL he set a record for penalty minutes, and also scored 12 goals. He is the only defensman in history to have won the Hart trophy four times. After his playing career, he remained in hockey and had a long, successful career as an owner and executive in the AHL. 4 Hart trophies, Lester Patrick trophy, 7 times first team All-Star. 2 Stanley Cups. Complete Bio

4. DENIS POTVIN - Led the Islanders to 4 straight Stanley Cups. A big, bruising, punishing, physical defenseman, could drop the gloves with the best. But he was also a great skater and goal scorer. He was the first defensman to reach 1,000 points. He also scored 56 goals and 124 assists in his playoff career. Calder trophy , 3 Norris Trophies, five time first team All-Star. Complete Bio

5. LARRY ROBINSON - Known as "Big Bird" (the physical resemblance was striking), Robinson holds the NHL record for consecutive seasons in the playoffs, twenty! A very steady player who played the body, was always in good position, controlled the corners, and moved the puck well, he could contribute on offense too. 6 Stanley Cups (plus one as a coach), 2 Norris Trophies, Conn Smythe Trophy, 6 time first or second team All-Star Complete Bio

6. VIACHESLOV (SLAVA) FETISOV - Considered the best defenseman in the world during the 80's, Fetisov is one of the most respected men, both as a player and person, in the history of hockey. A 9 time All-Star in the Soviet Union and 5 time Best Defenseman at the Senior world championships, he played on 9 World or Olympic Championship teams. He didn't arrive in the NHL until age 31, where he was three times an All-Star, and won two Stanley Cups. He won another Stanley Cup as an assistant coach for New Jersey. He is currently Minister of Sports for the government of Russia. Complete Bio

7. RAY BOURQUE- He played 22 seasons, and he was a star from the very first, when he was both Rookie of the year and and First Team All-Star. An outstanding skater and puck handler, his skills at quarterbacking the powerplay rival those of Orr or Harvey. He was selected to the All-Star game 17 times, but didn't win a Stanley Cup until his 22nd and last season. Bourque was a great two way player and very durable. The legendary Scottie Bowman said of him "I always felt Bourque was very similar to (Denis) Potvin. Both were great passers, had a terrific feel for the game and they were strong. Nobody ever would push them around." Only Orr and Harvey have more Norris Trophies than Bourque's five. Ray also has a Calder Trophy, a King Clancy Trophy, and a Lester Patrick Trophy to his credit. Complete Bio

8. PIERRE PILOTE - A small man, but one of the most feared defensemen in the NHL. He once knocked out both Maurice and Henri Richard in the same altercation! Pilote was a superb two way player, and very durable. At one stretch, he played in 376 straight games! He won a Stanley cup in his first year as Captain of the Blackhawks. He won three successive Norris Trophies, and was an All-Star 7 straight years. Complete Bio

9. BILL GADSBY - Gordie Howe once said of Gadsby, "he could skate faster backwards than most players could forward". A perennial All-Star, he played the game with reckless abandon for 20 years. He received over 800 stitches in his career (he was insured, and got $5 a stitch), an indicator of his style of play. Probably the best defenseman never to win the cup. Complete Bio

10. NICKLAS LIDSTROM - A superb rusher with a powerful shot and excellent puck handling skills. Runs a superb powerplay. He isn't a physical player, but knows how to put a body on someone and finish a check. His hockey intuition is incredible, he always anticipates the play. He has three Norris Trophies to go along with with a Conn Smythe. 8 straight All-Star games, 6 first team. Three Stanley Cups. So far! Complete Bio



Just a brief post tonight because I am working on the recipe blog and Hockey Friday. But I thought this was worth taking the time for!

If you want to know the real reasons we went into Iraq (and no, WMD's, Saddam's links to Bin Laden, and oil are not the right answers), and how it came to turn out so badly, George Packer has some very disturbing answers. Packer, who has been covering Iraq for the New Yorker since the beginning of the war, gives you an inside view of the decision making at the White House, and it is ugly and depressing. Especially Colin Powell's last day in the administration.

If you missed Alex Chadwick's interview with Packer on this afternoons DAY TO DAY, you can listen to it HERE. I guarantee you will learn some things you didn't know before. As soon as I get through Jimmy Carter's book, I am buying this one!


Tuesday, November 08, 2005



I heard on the news this morning that the latest polls show only 19% of Americans trust Dick Cheney. By my reckoning, that's about the same number of Americans who trust Satan. Of course, Isabella will probably tell you that the two are interchangeable anyhow.....

If you have followed my blog for anytime at all, you know that I am a HUGE fan of Daniel Schorr. I think he is a living national treasure, and the epitome of what a journalist should be. So imagine my surprise when his commentary Wednesday covered most of the same subjects as my Tuesday blog post. Only, of course, he was much more eloquent. Listen to Schorr's commentary HERE, and tell me you aren't angry when he is done!

has been among my favorite bands for a while now! Yesterday they performed an acoustic set on NPR's WORLD CAFE that was just terrific! World Cafe has become one of my must listen shows. If I were a radio program, this would be it.

DCFC also recently did a live concert for NPR's concert series. These shows are heard live via the NPR webpage, and are also archived so you can download and listen anytime you want. They've had some really great concerts recently, including a terrific Lucinda Williams concert, and a fabulous White Stripes show.

JIMMY CARTER has a new book out. After hearing Terry Gross' interview with him on FRESH AIR, and reading the first chapter of OUR ENDANGERED VALUES on the NPR website, I immediately went on and ordered it!

The IDIOT IN CHIEF spent much of the day trying to convince the world we don't torture detainees. At the same time, Satan, er, VP Cheney, was attempting to strong arm the Senate into exempting the CIA from a blanket ban on torturing anyone in US custody. Shouldn't somebody (like Laura) point out to the Prez that his second in command is making him look like a lying fool in the eyes of the world, not to mention his own countrymen? Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are trying to find out who leaked the info about the secret CIA prisons to the NY Times. Wouldn't it be a better idea to find out why the CIA is running secret prisons and what they are doing there?

Speaking of torture, former Brigadier Gen. JANIS KARPINSKI was interviewed on the Diane Rehm Show this morning. She painted a very stark picture of the goings on at Abu Gharib prison, and painted a very unflattering picture of General Sanchez and Gen. Myers. She is demanding, and asking all Americans, to demand an independent commission be appointed to investigate the goings on at the prison and elsewhere. After hearing this interview, I am also ordering her new book ONE WOMAN'S ARMY

So, it turns out JUDGE ALITO has some ethics problems, eh? Failed to recuse himself in TWO cases in which he had a direct financial stake. Are we SURPRISED? Conservatives in this country long ago divorced themselves from business ethics. I am sure he probably sees nothing improper in his actions. Which should scare the hell outta ya.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005



Hey, a new feature on TGWB, Hockey Friday! Every (or on an occasional) Friday we'll have all the surprises! Plus The Good, The Bad, the Ugly. And a feature sure to piss lot's of people off... The All Time Best. So without further ado:

Carolina: The biggest surprise of the new season has got to be the Hurricane. With a record of 9-2-1 and a nice mix of youth and experience, the 'Cane's are making a lot of noise in the east. They are currently in second place in their conference, and tied for fifth over all. Former Wing Ray Whitney is having a really nice season (which I predicted he would), after a less than stellar year in Motown. Former Wolverine/Wing defenseman Aaron Ward, after almost being cut at the end of camp, is having a great year, currently +4. And talk about surprises! My, oh my.....

Eric Staal: With a league leading 23 points, Staal's breakout season is the biggest reason the ''Canes are making waves around the league.

Jason Labarbera: Before this season, he had played in only 4 NHL games. Now he is 6-1, with a great 1.78 goals against, and a 9.38 save percentage! Small wonder the Kings are in first place in their division

Jason Williams: With 5 goals and 13 assists, Williams has been a huge part of the Wing's offense! He has also been very strong defensively! Maybe their best player so far!


The Detroit Red Wings: 12-1-1, including streak of 9 in a row.

Manny Legace: Wing's goalie sets record with 10 wins in Oct.

Manny Fernandez: Minnesota Wild goalie with an incredible 9.48 sv pct.

Jaromir Jagr: Leads league in goals, playing his best hockey in years.

The Flames: Last seasons Cup finalists, Calgary was expected to be one of the three best teams in the west! They are currently ranked #11, three places out of the final playoff spot.

Jeremy Roenick: Kings forward has only 3 points in 12 games

Marty Turco: The former Wolverine is just not doing the job for Dallas: A 3.64 goals against and 8.76 save percentage.

Ditto for the Jacket's Marc Denis: he is blessed with as good a set of physical skills as any goalie in the league, but consistently under achieves. Columbus really upgraded on the blue line this year, so he can't use lousy "D" as an excuse anymore!

UGLY: Thy name is the Chicago Blackhawks. You hired your radio color man as your GM. He promptly spent the mortgage on goalie Nickolai Khabibulin, defenseman Adrian Aucoin, and winger Marty Lapointe. So how's that working out for ya?

Let's see, the Bulin Wall is allowing almost 4 goals a game. Aucoin is a -4. Only the former Wing Lapointe is earning his keep, with 8 points.

UGLIER: The St. Louis Blues. Look up butt ugly in the dictionary, the Blues logo is there. This is just a God-awful team. I'm sure Bill Wirtz says a little prayer of thanks every night that the Blues are in the same division as The Blackhawks!

UGLIER part 2: The new NHL scheduling. I HATE IT! The Wings play Chicago, Columbus, and St. Louis 8 times each. Besides the 'Hawks, we don't play a single game against an original six team! You would love to get a chance to see a great young team like the 'Canes, yet we only play them once..away. The NHL really needs to rethink this.

Bear's note: I have an advantage at this one, being old enough to have seen everyone of these guys play.

1. Ken Dryden* - never saw him have 2 bad playoff games in a series, 5 straight Stanley Cups
2. Dominik Hasek* - 2 Hart trophies (MVP), 5 Vezina Trophies (best goaltender), 2 Lester Pearson trophies (best player, regular season), dozens of awards in Europe, Olympic Gold Medal, several world championships, a Stanley Cup, lifetime .924 save percentage
3. Vladislav Tretiak*- Central Red Army (Soviet Elite League) - dominated Soviet and International hockey for a decade and a half, three Olympic Golds. Ironically, benched after dispute with Russian coach, he wasn't in goal for the "Miracle On Ice". Thankfully (for the US).
4. Terry Sawchuck*- Best goalie in days of the original 6! 5 Stanley Cups, second in all time NHL victories, holds record for career shutouts (103), most shut outs in one postseason (4 ). In Red Wings 1952 Stanley Cup playoff run, he allowed 5 goals in 8 games!
5. Jacques Plante - 6 Stanley Cups, 7 Vezina Trophies, 1 Hart Trophy, lifetime 2.38 ga, first goalie to don the mask
6. Patrick Roy- brilliant when on his game, but would have extended streaks when he was awful, often in the playoffs! More NHL victories that any other goalie, 3 Stanley cups,
7. Glenn Hall - known as Mr. Goalie, first to perfect the butterfly style, 2 Stanley Cups
8. Martin Brodeur - 4 Jennings Trophies (fewest goals allowed), 2 Vezina trophies, 3 Stanley cups
9. Grant Fuhr - As good a playoff goalie as any in history (except Dryden), has 4 Stanley Cups
10. Tony Esposito - Best goalie never to win a Stanley Cup

Hon. mention: Gerry Cheevers, Bernie Parent, Billy Smith, Ed Giocoman, Gump Worsley
* These 4 are probably interchangable, could be 1, 1a, 1b, 1c


Tuesday, November 01, 2005



You live in a country where:

The wealthiest one percent of the population controls more of the nations assets than the bottom 90%.

The average CEO of a Fortune 1000 company earns 500 times more than his average employee.

On the same day the the USDA announced that the number of Americans in need of food aid has risen to 38 million, Congressional Republicans announced a plan to cut the food stamp program by 30%.

The President's party has controlled the Administrative branch of the government for 18 of the last 26 years. They have controlled the Legislative branch of the last 11 years. When Ronald Reagan took office, 11% of Americans lived in poverty. Today, 18% of Americans live in poverty.

One member of the current administration is under arrest, another under indictment, still another under investigation.

The House Majority leader has been indicted and is free on bail on money laundering charges.

The Senate Majority leader is under investigation for insider trading.

The latest Supreme Court nominee believes that husbands should have the same dominion over their wives as parents have over their children.

70 million Americans are without health insurance or are under insured.

1 of 5 children lives in poverty.

In Iraq, 2000 Americans have died for a lie.



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