Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One door opens another shuts behind

Today marked my last day posting at another blogging site. Live Journal was a big part of my life for nearly eight years. It's an understatement to say a lot happened in that time, good and bad. I've burnt out with that format, tired of looking at digests of people's tweets that offer no interaction and been noticing my own comment levels dwindling. Paid membership ended and it's a good time to begin fresh here.

A few people have already posted how much I'll be missed. There were even a couple of haiku written in my honor. It's quite touching, honestly. I'm not abandoning the friends I made there. Will still be reading and commenting.

The posting will be here though, and I'm going to (hard as it can be sometimes) limit them to one a day, if that. Having something to talk about is going to be difficult. Some days there may be just an obituary, others a rant about something like Ohio State Hockey.

I forgot where I read this but a blogger once said you should just write about one thing or you'll just limit your audience to a few friends and family if you write all over the map. I'm not so sure about that. Limiting myself to writing about Buster Keaton or Swedish hockey players would suffocate me even more. I have an ego, with varying interests - just like a lot of people. I'm no one special, but I'll try to be entertaining at the least.

So welcome readers old and new. Please comment. Sometimes it gets lonely after typing.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ohio State Hockey: A Post Mortem

The following numbers are sports scores that have a common result.


These scores mark the last five times the Ohio State Hockey team played in the NCAA tournament. They were on the losing end each time. The team has not seen victory in the tournament since their frozen four run, ten years ago.

I was surprised that they got into the tourney this year, they did beat three of the number one seeds during the season and got creamed yesterday by the only team they did not play - Boston University.

Next season is an important one for the OSU Hockey program. They're only losing three seniors. Only one of these seniors, Corey Elkins, was productive offensively. The other two, Zak Pellitier and Nick Biondo, provided veteran leadership and little else in their four years. They're really not losing much. It's also the final year of the head coach's contract.

A large number of underclassmen will be returning. Will Zac Dalpe, who is a high draft choice of the Hurricanes? Heck, will goaltender Dustin Carlson? Ok, he will be back.

In other words, there should be no excuses next season for the Buckeyes being a "young team."

Honestly, I heard that so many times this season I thought my head would fly off each time I read it.

Under John Markell, this program has always had excuses for consistent mediocrity, at best. The team was young, so and so got hurt, so and so (Hugo Boisvert) left the program early and my favorite - "the reason we've lost so many games is that we have played a lot of games."

One thing that has been consistent in the program's lack of consistency is John Markell. He came on and, admittedly, did bring the program into the eye of the athletic department and brought the program to its only NCAA frozen four appearance. However over his fourteen year tenure as coach it's been a couple of years of above average performance followed by a few more years of below average play, under achieving and excuses.

It's said that in in order to be considered a good college hockey team, winning twenty games in a season is a benchmark. In his time has coach, Markell's teams have won twenty or more games seven times. Half of his time here.

Ohio State, I suspect, wants to be considered one of the elite programs in the country for college hockey. After all, they invested millions of dollars into building the Schottenstein Center, untold sums of money in state of the art training facilities and the recruiting of top athletes to play for the Buckeyes. Here are the numbers for some of the elite college hockey programs.

Miami University's coach Enrico Blasi has won twenty games seven times in his decade as head of the Redhawks, the same as Markell.

Boston University's Jack Parker has hit the twenty win mark sixteen times in the last twenty years.

Jerry York has won twenty games 11 of his sixteen years as coach of Boston College.

The University of North Dakota has had three coaches in the last twenty years and has won twenty games fourteen of those years.

Now. Here's the staggering one.

Red Berenson's Michigan teams have won twenty or more games twenty two years in a row.

Markell has a long way to go to approach the elite status. I'm not sure he's the guy who is going to take your team to the next level. He's shown that his team can win, a little bit, during the regular season with an inability to win in the post season. One CCHA Championship in his time as coach is not enough. The University is not getting the proper return on its investment in the facilities and the program.

John Markell should not have his contract extended next season.

I like John Markell and want him to do well. I want the program to succeed and do well. In an ideal world Markell would be welcomed with open arms at Bowling Green, his alma mater, and return that program to its past successes.

Who comes here? Who knows? Rumors of former North Dakota coach Dean Blais have been around for a couple of seasons, but would Blais want to return to a city where he did not do well as a Blue Jackets assistant coach?

Attendance is horrible. An arena that seats 17,000 is barely a third full, at best for games. Part of this is the marketing of the program. Part of this is the coach providing a good hockey tradition. It's time for the Ohio State University Athletic Department to look at the talent that is coming into the hockey program, see how they are being coached and act appropriately.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bruce: A Breakup

Over the years you stop listening to certain artists and groups. The reasons can be many. The band broke up and is doing nothing new. The personnel changed and the songs are not quite the same. The artist went through rehab and is no longer edgy.

With Bruce Springsteen, it's finally happened. After listening to Working on a Dream, I can honestly say I'm no longer interested in listening to what he has to say. I'm not even sure he still has a record left in him. There's not going to be a Flaming Pie with the Boss. Heck, McCartney may even have one more after that one left in him.

It took me awhile to start listening to his music. It was not until Born in the U.S.A. and its polished Bob Clearmountain mix Courtney Cox in the video that I went back and appreciated his earlier work. For the record, Darkness on the Edge of Town is the one I keep going back to. I saw that mega tour in Buffalo late in '85 and it was quite the event. The Wave during Clarence's sax solo in Jungleland, with Bruce at the core of it was spectacular populist art.

The follow up was him trying to avoid the tabloids with his marriage to Juliette Phillips. Then Tunnel of Love and it's revelation that married life can be a downer. I am aware artists change. They grow up. They have kids - and when Bruce wrote about that with the song Living Proof, I was touched.

But the whole releasing two cds on one day thing with Lucky Town and Human Touch. Come on, that's just ego and it screams for the need of an editor.

I saw him again, in late 1999 here in Columbus. Clarence was taken out as foil. Patti was absent that night but she replaced him. As talented as a musician as she is, listen to 23rd Street Lullaby it's good - she could never inject herself into the E-Street Scene, and the performance was lessened.

Then 9/11 came and Bruce showed up for the benefit show a week later doing a brilliant My City of Ruins, and the "Rise Up" chorus send chills up my back. In the aftermath, he was asked to write a record about the tragedy, and The Rising had some good songs, but writing to spec was never his forte.

Lately, he was working with Brendan O'Brien and had a couple of promising songs on the Magic record so I was pleased to find out that Working on a Dream was to come out.

And there's this one song on it, the lyrics are horrible. It has a string arrangement that is disgusting. Queen of the Supermarket may be one of the worst songs released by a mainstream artist. Where were the editors? Was there anyone in the studio with the 'nads to say, "Um, Bruce, you may want to put this one back."

The man is pushing 60 and to release lyrics such as "The way she moves behind the counter/Beneath her white apron her secret remains hers/As she bags the groceries her eyes so bored/And sure she's unobserved" is really execrable. I mean, the Northern Pikes got away with Jackie T. looking cute in her drug store suit because they were in their twenties, and Canadian.

But this ode to a cashier makes My Morning Jacket's "Librarian" seem like songwriting genius. The rest of the record is dragged down by this song. There's little inspiration here. The songs are mid tempo and even the experimentation is half-hearted.

So Bruce, while I respect you and wish you well. Anything you produce from here on out, probably won't be heard by my ears. I'll still groove to Candy's Room. Anytime.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A change in the culture? Not a chance

Trying not to be grouchy about all the economic news, but it's next to impossible. There's a lot of outrage and unrest in the world that is hard to ignore. If I was a politician or corporate board member it would be easy to turn my back on it, but even that is getting more difficult.

The former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland had his house vandalized. Employees of AIG have received some threatening mail and there has been yet another round of rioting in France.

Are the powers that be ever going to get it?

Then there's Jake Desantis of AIG, who publicly resigned earlier this week. I'm trying hard not to blow my top over this one. He deflected responsibility from himself, saying he did a good job.

You know, if you are on a baseball team that loses 100 games, it does not matter if you hit .340, or won 27 games like Steve Carlton did when the 1972 Phillies won only 59 games - your team still stinks.

Desantis smelled the bonus money and pouted when he did not get it. It's refreshing to know he had an adequate savings so that he and his family could afford to live on his token dollar a year salary. Guy wanted a bonus while his company lost about seven thousand dollars a minute during the last quarter of 2008. Sure, give him a bonus. Send him a balloon bouquet.

I'm never sure on Rolling Stone's journalism commitment these days (or anyone's really), but this article is a good primer to the inbreeding of our government and the financial system. A lot of hysteria in some of the quotes, but some decent information too.

Today I read that our government now wants to regulate the banking industry. Again. So will they be repealing the repeal of Glass/Steagal, the act the banking industry paid congress to do for them in the 90's? Now many of these same government officials are going to try and dismantle the monster they helped build.

You believe that you do not have an ounce of cynicism in you.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sadness is Nature's Spanking

Yes, the subject line is a quote from Morel Orel. A wicked little cartoon that combines Ozzie and Harriet, South Park and Davey and Goliath.

Went on a little road trip to a British Food store. Wanted to see what was there so if my girlfriend gets an urge for food from her homeland, we can drive an hour west and pick up a few things. I did manage to snatch up a couple of bottles of Irn-Bru, which is a Scottish soda. It's hard to describe. Like a cream soda with quinine, it's also caffeinated - and addictive. The closest I've found to match its flavor is a Goya Product called Champagne Cola. It's also known for some very quirky and humorous ad campaigns. (and it's made is Scotland, from girders) This one, which came out last year, is a rather touching look at the character of Scottish people.

If Coca-Cola could do its ads half as good I'd buy more of it!

While west, I visited the Dayton Art Institute. There was a very good collection of Chinese works, including this 13th century Buddha.

I was not wowed by the museum. It had a surprisingly good cross section of modern American art. The rest underwhelming, and under represented. Yet for free parking and free admission, there's really no reason to complain.

Last night was the Columbus Crew's season opener on the road in Houston. I was invited by a friend who is a die hard fan to come view the game with him. So I found myself at Claddagah in the brewery district with a hundred or so people - most of them dressed in Crew Canary as they cheered, sang and drank. The Crew were down 1-0 until the 82nd minute when Guillermo Barros Schelloto scored to tie it up. The man's a legend.

Worked on some writing a little today, preparing for Wednesday's slam and the June reading. Had more usable material than I suspected, but still have a bit of time to fill in. There are over two months left to assemble some quality material that is worthy of a second place tie.

Had a friend take this one last night in a snug at the bar.

Trying to decide if I look literary or uncomfortable.

Back to work tomorrow, as we continue to wait for word from London.

Friday, March 20, 2009

While You Were Reading

Received word a couple of days ago that I came in a second place tie in the Columbus Arts Festival poetry audition.

What does this mean?

I get to read for half an hour (instead of fifteen minutes) at the festival on Saturday, June 6th at 6PM. I think I also get a short bio in the program.

Two years ago I was stunned to get a slot. I suspected I did well in this year's audition, but not that good. I am humbled to be on the podium, as it were, with a couple of Columbus' finest poets in Mikelle Hickman-Romaine and Louise Robertson.

Taking off on a mini road trip tomorrow. I have a real itch to get out of the city now that the weather is getting better. There is some paperwork that has to get done this weekend. Tonight and Sunday should take care of at least half of that. Must get cracking on the poetry. Big slam on Wednesday night, along with pre=preparation for June.

Also booked a flight for my son and I to head to Long Island and see my parents next month.

The still is from the film Hunger. It's one of the most brutal and profound films I've seen in a long time. It tells the story of IRA terrorist Bobby Sands and the hunger strike that killed him in 1981. Director Steve McQueen makes his feature director/writer debut with this and knocks it out of the building with brilliant visuals such as snow falling on the bloody knuckles of a prison guard. I may be projecting this but I believe some of this film was influenced by the work of Bresson and Truffaut. The politics are kept neutral through some brutal scenes of violence and grotesque artistry. There is one breathtaking long shot of Sands discussing his hunger strike with a priest that was done in a single take of 17 minutes. Michael Fassbender goes through a physical transformation not unlike Christian Bale's in The Machinist. It's not a film for the faint of heart, but if you want to see a bleak transformation of a character it's a stunning piece of film making.

Image from brooklynvegan.com

Been tracking down the latest record from Elvis Perkins and what I've heard is amazing. It's a bit more upbeat musically that Ash Wednesday, but the content of the songs is just as bittersweet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to cultivate customers

Been so busy this year I've had little time to read, and what I have read has not stood out.

Until I saw that Kenny Shopsin had put out a book late last year.

I first heard of his restaurant years ago from an article in The New Yorker that Calvin Trillin wrote. It's in the forward of "Eat Me."

And, no, I've never been there. The man's a puzzle. He does not want publicity, but has put out a book and maintains a web presence. It reminds me of another place I've never been Seattle's Grouchy Chef.

Both cooks seem to have skills in the kitchen, but subject their customers to sets of rules and are not afraid to kick anyone out for breaking them.

From Shopsin, "Some people tell me they're deathly allergic to something and that I have to make sure it's not in their food. I kick them out too. I don't want to be responsible for anyone's life-or-death situation. I tell them they should go eat in a hospital. Often after I do that, they'll back down and tell me, well, they're not that allergic. And then I really want them to leave because now I know they're assholes."

The book is also blessed with a good portion of Shopsin's recipes, and some cool philosophy on the cooking of eggs, pancakes and soup. It's a book that was more fun than I expected. Now, I have to get to Essex Street, ask for a cheeseburger - and not get kicked out.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Out and About

Got out of the house a bit to keep away from the media. Was getting more annoyed at cheney's sore loser fear mongering comments and the nerve of AIG to give out bonuses after receiving 170 billion dollars in bailout money.

At least it was a decent day to get outside with my son and go for a walk. We went down to Little Darby Creek. He liked walking down, and then wanted to go into the creek. I tried to convince him that it was not a good idea, he did not believe me then did not want to walk back up so I ended up carrying him on my shoulders.

His sleep has been erratic. I'm waking up at two in the morning to hear him having conversations with who knows who in the dark. He does fall back asleep after less than an hour, I think.

This was taken yesterday at the Wexner Center after picking up tickets for Hunger.

The film is by artist Steve McQueen and it's about Bobby Sands, interesting timing considering the nonsense happening in Northern Ireland. The film is this Wednesday and the director is doing a Q&A after the screening.

Time to get dinner started. Celtic beat rangers today! Blue Jackets vs. Detroit in an hour.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Keep the Falcons

There is a lot of news and rumor going about that Bowling Green State University is about to dismantle its hockey program. This would be a detriment to the NCAA, college hockey, the CCHA and sports in general.

Sure, the main part of college should be academics, and sports just a diversion. In today's times, the college experience is more than classes. There is tradition of attending sporting events, along with theater, recreational events and so much more outside of the classroom. Plus, in today's hard times many universities have, are, and will be having major financial decisions to make.

To get rid of a institution that has a 40 year tradition, a national championship in 1984, and that has been a part of good rivalry with Ohio's other D-1 hockey teams and has been a clean program for its entire existence is a big mistake. Sure, the Falcons have seen better days and the arena it plays in is getting a bit long in the tooth, but positive change can happen.

I'm not saying to build a new arena, like Miami did - and during their lull in the late eighties there was talk of them shutting down their hockey program. But a change to the hockey culture, ie, a new coaching staff would be a good start. Surely some money for minor renovations can be raised by BGSU's hockey alumni that includes Rob Blake, Ken Morrow, Jerry York, Nelson Emerson, George McPhee and current Ohio State Hockey coach John Markell, among others.

Here's a list of trustees to contact and to let know that shutting down this program is not in the best interests of the university.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yelled at in my dream

It was in a building that resembled an old wine shop I worked at, the one with the bar that served as a drug haven. There was this middle aged woman with a faint New York City accent who was asking me about Washington State Pinot Blanc from a winery called Ashton or Aston Lane that was our wine of the month for May or June.

I had never heard of this winery. There is an Ashton Lane in Glasgow. I've been there. Looking it up in hindsight there is no such winery.

So she keeps prodding and I cannot find the wine and finally she yells at me that at the shop down the road they know what she likes and we do not know her at all. She leaves.

Meanwhile at the bar, I'm the sole employee (as usual), every seat is taken and the first person I speak to gives me his order in a language I do not understand.

The phone is ringing while all of this is going down, just to make me feel even deeper in the weeds.

No. I have no anxiety whatsoever.

In the last two games the Blue Jackets have played the top team in each conference. They have beaten those teams by a combined score of 10-2. Steve Mason has returned to top form after battling mono. Players are scoring key goals and the team has jelled. It's too early to say there will be hockey at Nationwide Arena into April but this is the latest in team history that they've competed for a playoff spot. It's a good ride to be on.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

In the city there's a thousand things I want to say to you

The temperature warmed up to about 70 degrees yesterday. Spring may not be here, but you could feel it coming.

After a phone call from my gal in Scotland and watching my son swim I headed downtown to take a look at Huntington Park, the new home of the Columbus Clippers. It opens next month and is looking better than I thought.

It seats 10,000 and there's not a bad seat in the house. My one nit pick is that there does not appear to be a lot of covered seating.

Headed up to Half Price Books and sold a few things for lunch money then headed to Hayden Run Falls. Last summer we went and it was dry.

Not so yesterday.

No one was swimming in the pit though. Was not that warm!

I was doing a good job killing time before auditioning for a spot at the poetry tent of this year's Columbus Arts Festival. I got to the location early. There were no shows so I read early. Did well. Made someone cry, in a good way.

After all that it was time to get some food and relax a bit. I went down to the Short North Gallery Hop and got myself some pizza. It hit the spot. I was headed down to Jeni's on High Street and coming toward me was Ric Ocasek. He was tall, dressed in black with a white cloth wrapped loosely around his neck. It was 1983 all over again. The Cars were the first band I saw live and their music made high school suck less. I did not want to be a gawking dick so I said nothing. Really wanted to thank him though.

He was walking in front of his family, that included his wife Paulina Poritzkova, who looked natural and fabulous, and their teenage son, who looks a lot like his father. Ocasek was here to promote an exhibit of his work at a local art gallery. All I'll say is that his work is better than Mellencamp's.

There was a line out the door at Jeni's so I talked to a fellow poet, who was selling her jewelry in front of a wine shop. Ended up going inside and finding a decent bottle of kabinett. Went home, watched the Blue Jackets beat the crap out of the Red Wings. Rick Nash had the first unassisted hat trick since Rocket Richard in 1948. Steve Mason was awesome in net.

Then watched Vicky Christina Barcelona, which would have been a good film had it not had lazy voice over narration than continually brought the movie's momentum to a crashing halt.

Now it's a lazy Sunday of laundry, FA Cup soccer (go Everton!) and dinner out later.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Was it something I ate

I rarely remember dreams. I have vivid visions of relatives telling me they're riddled with cancer, then finding out a week later - for real. There was also a photograph of a former boss standing in the kitchen of his bar, large chef's toque on, brandishing a meat cleaver with an evil leer on his face. A sex dream with a train wreck of a celebrity. I told my ex about that one. She thought about it for a second then asked if she was any good.

Last night's was set in a wine shop. One I may or may not have worked at. The owner was marking down wine and pointed out a bottle of vintage French Champagne 1990 (a very good year) to me. It was a $56 bottle on sale at $36.09. There was one bottle left and I could not afford it. He asked me how old I was. I told him. He then said that I should sail around the world for a year and buy it then.

In another part of the shop, a man was pleasuring himself. After finishing he said something like, 'what a relief', then left. The owner was watching him, not in a voyeuristic way, but to make sure there was no additional trouble.