Thursday, June 03, 2004

Since when is spelling a sport?

That is the question of the day. Fucking ESPN in all their awesomeness choose to broadcast the National Spelling Bee every fucking year and it just so happens it's that time of the year again. I need to send out a message for sports fans everywhere, FUCK THE MOTHERFUCKING SPELLING BEE. I will watch chess, synchronized swimming, or the Little League World Series before I ever watch the fucking Spelling Bee. Besides the families of the kids competing, who really gives two shits which little shit-for-brains-kid wins the fucking thing and which motherfucking word was spelled to win it. I mean, c'mon, does it get anymore boring than watching an 8th grader attempt to spell 'gnathonic' only to draw a blank because the word begins with a fucking 'g' and hear the stupid ass 'ding' from the bell when she gets it wrong? And over the course of the useless attempt to figure out how the bloody fuck to spell the damn word, she repeats it 12 times, asks for its origin, its other pronunciations, etc. blah blah blah. Then the motherfucking ESPN crew interviews a 13 yr old asking him about his experience and his struggles while relaying the story of his family. Then it's all over the news what this winning word was. This year it was euonym next year I hope it is 'suckmymotherfuckingdick'.

Last time I checked, ESPN was supposed to be a sports channel, not an "every-kid-goes-home-crying-because-he-can't-spell-'chiaroscurist'" channel. Honestly, though, the thing that pisses me off the most is that it's on ESPN and the last time I checked, spelling isn't a sport. If it was, everyone college student would be in training for the Olympics. If it was, it would take some kind of physical movement/skill. It may be a "competition" but that does not mean it is a sport. Put this shit on Nickelodeon or PAX or Lifetime or ABC Family, I don't care, but don't put it on ESPN and try to push it on sports fans, we all got Sportscenter reruns to watch, dammit.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

There's more than just the Stanley Cup...

Everyday it seems like I become an even bigger hockey nerd, but I really don't care. I've been keeping up with all the little dealings of the Pittsburgh Penguins this offseason, and it seems that their future is very bright, for a number of reasons.
Here are two...

1. The prospects the Pens are signing are big-time performers.
Names such as Maxim Talbot, Erik Christensen, and Ben Eaves don't copnjure up thoughts of greatness for most people, at least not the people that read this page. But this may change very soon.

Talbot, just 20 yrs old, finished with 98 points (25g+73a) and 41 penalty minutes in 51 games with Gatineau this season, ranking third in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in scoring, second in assists, second with six shorthanded goals and tied for 11th with a plus-33 rating. He also scored 27 points in the playoffs for Gatineau (11g+16a) in 15 playoff games, good enough for his second straight Guy Lafleur Trophy as the QMJHL's leading playoff scorer. Only Guy Lafleur himself (the guy who the trophy is named after and who is a hockey legend) led the QMJHL in playoff scoring in consecutive seasons. Not too shabby for an 8th Round draft pick in the 2002 NHL Draft. Now, that league is considered to be one of the premier Junior leagues in the world, so Talbot's accomplishments are nothing to brush aside.

Christensen was the WHL's (another elite league for North American prospects) leading scorer after the 2002-2003 season. He recorded 108 points and also led the WHL in goals with 54. This season he recorded 62 points (27g+35a) and 60 penalty minutes in 63 combined games with Kamloops and Brandon of the Western Hockey League this season. He led Brandon in playoff scoring with 12 points (8g+4a) in 11 games. He is also just 20 yrs of age and was a 3rd Round pick of the Penguins in 2002.

Eaves played the past three seasons for Boston College, one of the best college teams in the NCAA. He marked up 57 points (18g+39a) in just 36 games in 2002-03 and tallied 34 points (9g+25a) while missing 16 games with a broken kneecap this season, amazingly finishing fourth on the team in scoring and leading his team to a berth in the Frozen Four. A fourth round draft pick in 2001, Eaves is 22 yrs old.

These guys along with a number of others (Colby Armstrong, a tough RW who the Pens are big on, and Sergei Anshakov, one of the top 3 players in Russia right now, just to name a few) are just a few of the many bright spots within the Penguins organization (and don't forget about that Fleury guy, either...). It looks like intelligent draft picks and patience may soon pay off for the Pens.

2. The minor league teams are working wonders.
Even though Pittsburgh was the worst team in the NHL this past season, the future could mean a return to the winning ways of old. While the Penguins were losing, their minor league system was experiencing unprecedented success, as the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL and the Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins of the AHL each had excellent seasons.

My hometown team, the Wheeling Nailers, turned the league upside down as they went from one of the worst teams in recent memory to a 100 pt Conference champion. Jason Jaffray, J.F. Dufour, and Steve Crampton were all towards the top of the ECHL in scoring, showing why the Pens have one of the deepest minor league system in the NHL. Although the Nailers' season ended in the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs, their trunaround is a sign of good things to come for the Penguins.

The Baby Pens have reached even greater heights, as they are now competing for the AHL championship, the Calder Trophy. Many of the team members played for the NHL Penguins at some point in the season. Some players to note are Konstantin Koltsov, Brooks Orpik, Tomas Surovy, Andy Chiodo, and Rob Scuderi. The chemistry this team has developed along with their success in the AHL Playoffs are very promising signs for the Penguins. If the Baby Pens win the Calder Cup, it'd be absolutely amazing and would prove to Penguins fans that "rebuilding" was not such a bad idea after all.

All in all, I now have a reason to look forward to next season (and future ones) for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Let's just hope they even play hockey next season...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

This is a little something taken from a friend's profile, and it touched me so deeply that I though it was important to share with all my readers (aka Roddy).

Ode to the Nice Guys
This rant was written for the Wharton Undergraduate Journal

This is a tribute to the nice guys. The nice guys that finish last, that never become more than friends, that endure hours of whining and bitching about what assholes guys are, while disproving the very point. This is dedicated to those guys who always provide a shoulder to lean on but restrain themselves to tentative hugs, those guys who hold open doors and give reassuring pats on the back and sit patiently outside the changing room at department stores. This is in honor of the guys that obligingly reiterate how cute/beautiful/smart/funny/sexy their female friends are at the appropriate moment, because they know most girls need that litany of support. This is in honor of the guys with open minds, with laid-back attitudes, with honest concern. This is in honor of the guys who respect a girl’s every facet, from her privacy to her theology to her clothing style.

This is for the guys who escort their drunk, bewildered female friends back from parties and never take advantage once they’re at her door, for the guys who accompany girls to bars as buffers against the rest of the creepy male population, for the guys who know a girl is fishing for compliments but give them out anyway, for the guys who always play by the rules in a game where the rules favor cheaters, for the guys who are accredited as boyfriend material but somehow don’t end up being boyfriends, for all the nice guys who are overlooked, underestimated, and unappreciated, for all the nice guys who are manipulated, misled, and unjustly abandoned, this is for you.

This is for that time she left 40 urgent messages on your cell phone, and when you called her back, she spent three hours painstakingly dissecting two sentences her boyfriend said to her over dinner. And even though you thought her boyfriend was a chump and a jerk, you assured her that it was all ok and she shouldn’t worry about it. This is for that time she interrupted the best killing spree you’d ever orchestrated in GTA3 to rant about a rumor that romantically linked her and the guy she thinks is the most repulsive person in the world. And even though you thought it was immature and you had nothing against the guy, you paused the game for two hours and helped her concoct a counter-rumor to spread around the floor. This is also for that time she didn’t have a date, so after numerous vows that there was nothing “serious” between the two of you, she dragged you to a party where you knew nobody, the beer was awful, and she flirted shamelessly with you, justifying each fit of reckless teasing by announcing to everyone: “oh, but we’re just friends!” And even though you were invited purely as a symbolic warm body for her ego, you went anyways. Because you’re nice like that.

The nice guys don’t often get credit where credit is due. And perhaps more disturbing, the nice guys don’t seem to get laid as often as they should. And I wish I could logically explain this trend, but I can’t. From what I have observed on campus and what I have learned from talking to friends at other schools and in the workplace, the only conclusion I can form is that many girls are just illogical, manipulative bitches. Many of them claim they just want to date a nice guy, but when presented with such a specimen, they say irrational, confusing things such as “oh, he’s too nice to date” or “he would be a good boyfriend but he’s not for me” or “he already puts up with so much from me, I couldn’t possibly ask him out!” or the most frustrating of all: “no, it would ruin our friendship.” Yet, they continue to lament the lack of datable men in the world, and they expect their too-nice-to-date male friends to sympathize and apologize for the men that are jerks. Sorry, guys, girls like that are beyond my ability to fathom. I can’t figure out why the connection breaks down between what they say (I want a nice guy!) and what they do (I’m going to sleep with this complete ass now!). But one thing I can do, is say that the nice-guy-finishes-last phenomenon doesn’t last forever. There are definitely many girls who grow out of that train of thought and realize they should be dating the nice guys, not taking them for granted. The tricky part is finding those girls, and even trickier, finding the ones that are single.

So, until those girls are found, I propose a toast to all the nice guys. You know who you are, and I know you’re sick of hearing yourself described as ubiquitously nice. But the truth of the matter is, the world needs your patience in the department store, your holding open of doors, your party escorting services, your propensity to be a sucker for a pretty smile. For all the crazy, inane, absurd things you tolerate, for all the situations where you are the faceless, nameless hero, my accolades, my acknowledgement, and my gratitude go out to you. You do have credibility in this society, and your well deserved vindication is coming.

Fu-zu Jen, SEAS/WH, 2003

Now, that has to be one of the greatest essays ever written, as I can honestly say a lot of that which is told in that story is my very own experience. I'm not pretentious enough to label myself as a 'nice guy,' but a lot of that stuff sounds oh so familiar. So here's a toast for anyone who read that and noticed anything strikingly similar to their own life. And to any ladies lookin for a dude to all of that stuff, I'm your man. Maybe.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Hockey Games for 2005

I was just doing a little searching on Game Informer and found some screenshots for the latest installment of EA Sports' hockey NHL 2005. Here are a couple...

Red Wings vs Avalanche...which team is the home team?

Up close and personal with Ron Francis...

The two screenshots look pretty cool, and I am pretty impressed with the likeness of the Ron Francis facial model. These pics inspired me to do a little snooping on IGN and I came across this. At E3, EA revealed some of the improvements they made to the game. This year, there will no longer be a hit every second you touch the puck and you will be able to get on breakaways more freely and enjoy the skilled aspects of the game. The players are going to play to their skills, meaning goons will be noticeably focused on hitting, speedsters will look to use their speed, and snipers will position themselves to score. They are introducing controls that allo you to switch to a player away from the puck in order to get open for a one-timer, a give and go, or to cause a screen in front of the net. The AI is stepping it up a notch, as they will pick up on your tendencies over the course of a game. So, if you constantly set up an easy one-timer in the same place or persistently use the crossover move (guilty as charged), the defensemen will step into the passing lanes or be prepared for your repeitive moves. Defenders will even push players out of the way of their unprotected goaltenders.

As far as options go, they are introducing the World Cup of Hockey to the game for a further international flavor. Dynasty mode is going to be more similar to MVP Baseball with goal oriented plans for each GM. There will also be a noticeable relationship between the team owners and the GMs, with each having their own desires for the direction of the team (i.e. win now, no matter what it takes to laid back and build for the future). EA also has 'special feature' that's in the works for the game, and they will not reveal any details about it. For the love of all things good, let's hope that doesn't mean another Gamebreaker mode...

All in all, this sounds like a pretty good upgrade of last year's game. IGN is saying this is finally going to challenge ESPN NHL supremacy (though I only think that lasted for the year of 2003), so it should be fun to find out what's new. I'm gonna try to look up some stuff on ESPN NHL 2005 here soon, so keep a look out for that. From what I've read already, it sounds pretty good.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

The Cup!

It's the Stanley Cup Finals and I couldn't have asked for more. This is the best finals ever possible outside of a matchup involving the Pittsburgh Penguins, and so I am itching to watch it. It's the underdog Calgary Flames vs the speedy and skilled Tampa Bay Lightning. It's a series that pits Jarome Iginla against Martin St. Louis and Mikka Kiprusoff against Nikolai Khabibulin. Streaking scorers and stonewall goaltenders. For any hockey fan, this is an awesome matchup for a number of reasons. New teams are in the Finals for the first time in a while, there are some of the best players the game has to offer, top-notch goaltenders, big hitters, and relentless forwards. It is a matchup of hero against hero, clutch against clutch, blue collar against blue collar. In anticipation of the awesomeness that is this series, hereafter follows my recap of each team thus far and a prediction for the outcome of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning are making their first-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Finals after having fought through the likes of Philly, Montreal, and New York. They have received goals from their top guys when they've needed and continued their strong regular season play throughout the playoffs.

This also will be the first time to the Finals for Tampa captain Dave Andreychuk, whose long and illustious career finally leads him to an opportunity to hoist the Cup, hockey's Holy Grail. His teammates follow by his strudy, hard-working example, and none fit this mold better than Martin St. Louis. The tiny-yet-shifty winger is leading the playoffs in scoring just like he did in the regular season, proving that the Bolts are all about consistency. Vinny Lecavalier is finally stepping into the role of the clutch performer the Lightning hoped for when they drafted him 1st Overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.

Defensemen Darryl Sydor and Dan Boyle are proving how talented they at they blueline, both of whom are contributing offensively but still managing to play stellar defesnse. Nikolai Khabibulin has truly stepped up his game for the playoffs, managing to iron out the wrinkles of inconsistency that plagued him during the regular season. His performance is a big reason why the Lightning are in the Finals. His game has reached a new level with a 1.30 goals against average and a .939 save percentage.

Calgary Flames: The Flames road to the Cup wasn't easy, as they defeated each Western Division Champion to reach the Finals. They shut down powerhouse offenses in Vancouver, Detroit, and San Jose by playing in-your-face defense and a consistently gritty forecheck.

Their team philosophy is to play 110% on every shift and as a result they have been able to get timely goals when they needed them. Mikka Kiprusoff is proving to be the best trade of recent years, as he has provided a cornerstone from which the rest of the team can build. His play in between the pipes has been nothing short of spectacular, with a 1.90 GAA and a .930 SV%.

Jarome Iginla is making the most of his first time in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, leading the team by not only scoring, but also in his ability to grind it out in the corners and to go toe-to-toe with their opponents' bruisers. Martin Gelinas has come in clutch when they needed him, sending both the Canucks and the Red Wings to the golf course with series-ending overtime goals. The young and previously unproven defensive core of Calgary has shown little signs of inexperience as they has shut down the top-performers of every team the Flames have met thus far. Their hardwork on the blueline has set the pace for the rest of the team.

The Series: The matchup is a good one, with advantages seemingly swinging in favor of Tampa. Tampa has received amazing play from all of their skilled men and had Bulin Wall in full effect. They have more skilled players than the Flames, and on paper, they look to be the better team. But not so fast, this is the way it has always been for the Flames. They look at the stat sheets about as often as they look up physics formulas on the internet, so they will be ready to play.

Who Has The Edge-
Forwards: Tampa Bay
Defensemen: Tampa Bay
Goaltending: Even
Special Teams: Tampa Bay
Quality of Opponents:Calgary
Momentum: Calgary

Prediction: Not to take anything away from the Lightning, but I'm going with the Flames in 6...I really believe in the Flames style of play against the quick-n-shifty Bolts. They grind it out every second of every shift for an entire 60 minutes, and when they have a few mental lapses, Kipper is there to put a stop to a scoring chance. Although, if Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier get going, it's gonna be very hard to stop them. Jarome Iginla is the X-Factor, as the Flames will go as far as he can take them.

Well, that's my take on this year's Stanley Cup Finals, so make sure to watch, because it should be a good one, if not one of the best in recent memory.

I'm A Drifter...

I've been "home" for the past two weeks and enjoying my free time. I've been making sure to catch up with everyone that needed catching up with and letting the next day take me to wherever that might be. It just so happens that this type of lifestyle lends itself to "drifting," meaning that I end up on the road to another destination every 2 days or less. That's right, in the entire 2+ weeks that I've been home I've stayed in one locale for no more than 2 days or so. Let me recap by listing where I slept each night for the past two weeks...

May 7- Finals end. Josh's drifting period begins.
May 7- Bissman Hall dorm room, College of Wooster
May 8- B-Hol's Wooster home.
May 9- Mom's B-ville home.
May 10- Dad's Martins Ferry home.
May 11- Mom's B-ville home.
May 12- Dad's Martins Ferry home.
May 13- Dad's Martins Ferry home.
May 14- Aunt's Delaware home.
May 15- Russ' Columbus apartment.
May 16- Home in B-ville.
May 17- Rob's St. C. home.
May 18- Brandon's Wooster home.
May 19- Brandon's Wooster home.
May 20- Mom's B-ville home.
May 21- Dad's Martins Ferry home.
May 22- Tom's St. C. home.
May 23- Mom's B-ville home.

All this does not include the various stops I have made along the way. There have been trips to the Wheeling, WV, Bexley, OH, Cleveland, OH, Belmont, OH, and Bridgeport, OH. On any given day, I have traveled to these places and back. A typical day involves waking up, driving a good 45 mins on the road to reach some destination, leaving that place for another and then another before I ever end up to the place I actually end up sleeping at. I bet I have spent a good 48 hours+ in a vehicle traveling during this time. The funny thing is, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am thoroughly enjoying the road trips in my beautiful, wonderfully full-efficient car (50 miles to the gallon, bitch!) and seeing all of the people I adore. In upcoming weeks, a trip to Columbus, OH is planned, followed by another to Wooster, OH, which should be followed by another to Milwaukee, WI, maybe another to Iowa City, IA, and later to Bristol, RI. Hell, if I get lucky, toards the end of the summer I might be heading from Rhode Island to Ohio on one day, only to go from Ohio to North Carolina on the next. If you'd like for me to add your name to the list of destinations, just get in touch...but for now, I've got some places to go and people to see...maybe, if you're lucky, you'll see me pulling into your driveway some day soon! Wish me luck as the road trippin' continues!

This Is The New....Site

In an attempt to re-vamp my old site and give it a modern feel, things fell apart. Somehow, the template changes I made to the site appeared in the preview window but turned out way differently on the actual page. Things weren't aligned, the sidebar was non-existant, fonts and headings were say the least things were fucked. I tried to save the site from shittiness, but when I returned to the template settings, they were further altered, causing the page to go back to its default setting if I were to save it. I really did not want to continue on pissing around with this shit for days on end so I figured I'd just begin an entirely new site. Shot Bloxx is my new home for my dictations on anything I feel is good reading material. Don't ask about the title, it just sounded cool, and a little better then Enter The Weenis. Hopefully this page will live up to the shittiness that was my old page, minus all of the hits I got from people doing Google searches for the word 'weenis'....