How I Spent my Winter Vacation

After a week away, I am a refreshed and energized Zoo marketing manager, looking forward to the challenges of the calendar year. Even brokered a couple of deals during the breather to stay trim. This is a good thing as I am one exhausted Arena usher. I have been moonlighting at the arena for events and service during the World Juniors Hockey Championship Tourney as me seeing the Sabres’ home ice like this.

It is an interesting event to be sure. It is fun to talk hockey, troubleshoot stuff. An international roundtable of your friendly neighborhood usher (me), a gentleman from Simcoe township, and a trio of chemically serene young fellows from Kitchner have addressed how Canada hasn’t played anybody yet, why Sam Hoyt was right, why Sam Hoyt was wrong, why wasn’t the rink at Buff State used for some games to regionalize the tourney into Elmwood which would have given the USA forward something to do other than to whine on twitter about how boring Buffalo is. Think about it, if you are 17 and marooned at the Adam’s Mark, it is pretty easy to be underwhelmed by the area.

Sure, he shouldn’t have said it, but we sure didn’t need to give it any heed.

We also decided that tripleheaders pose more problems than they are worth, that given the heavy passionate interest from Canada (for them, this is personal), perhaps the Canadian games should have dominated prime time, since that would keep more people in the building, thereby selling more souvenirs, more Labatts, and more souvenirs…and probably more higher priced ad time for the good people from TSN.

But you learn by doing and from where I sit, it’s been done pretty well all told. Changes got made to make the whole thing work and as the Swiss and Slovaks showed today, there is some good hockey to be had. There have been a lot of routs in what I’ve seen so far, which is occasionally fun, but if you are either getting routed or impartial, or just spent from a long day, you tend to think “Feh.”

Sure, I could have done with perhaps, a day less of this, and a decided decrease in the alcohol fueled shenanigans, but it has been a good event thus far, even if the local beer distributors are the ones making out. I like seeing these types of things unfold and it is the little things that stick with you. I don’t know how many times I saw mostly guys go past holding three large cans of beer. The large can, I should point out, goes for $8.50. I, like the Dude, “respect the beverage,” but who has all that flippin beer money.

Boggles the mind.

I got one more day, sports fans, that I am out, so all you headed to 305-306, let’s relax and have fun. Being a hockey nerd, it’s been largely entertaining, with only a little peril. Let’s lose the peril


Blame Canada!

The World Juniors Hockey Tourney formally kicked off Sunday at the arena. I spent the day camped at sections 305-306 for the day.

And I’m glad I have the next day off. Overall, it was an entertaining experience.  One actual brawl between a quartet of ugly americans over seats was thankfully ended before anybody got hurt. It did take a little bit for my nerves to resume normal operations. This aging usher isn’t crazy about that sort of fun when I’m outnumbered by a bunch of guys hellbent on proving how tough they are. Thankfully for swift security response, I could employ my older brother’s floor hockey technique of avoiding the actual action, but looking busy at the same time.

That was to start my third game of the day, the eventual US victory over Finland. Understand, this is basically a big Canadian party and much of the crowd was left over from Canada’s win over Russia (that was the best game of the day.). The building was jammed and energized and felt like a hockey game. I got a feeling we were looking at the two best teams. The first game of the day was between Switzerland and Germany and was played to a roughly half full arena. Some of the crowd was actually there for that, others were there to check their sightlines for the Canadian/Russian battle at 4.

I don’t know if the Bills games had anything to do with it, or if the Fins aren’t a big name opponent, but it was a little off to see the USA playing in prime time on National television in both the US and Canada (and presumably Finland) and the place wasn’t entirely full. If you are in to hockey at all and have the post Christmas means, I’d recommend checking it out. For the same reason college basketball is more fun than the pros, these young bucks move. International rules means fewer offsides, no fights, arguments get broken up quick, so the game really does move along. And even the trash talk is mostly good natured, one of the canadian partisans invented the fried bologna/pretzel sandwich at the concession stand and stood eating that gastrointestinal miracle while explaining how if Finland beat the US, that would be good for the tourney. That bit of barstool philosophy was impossible to be an audience to without laughing.

Merry Christmas, Hosers

I misspoke on Facebook today. I meant to say, this was the first airing this season for me of the following classic. Rolling Stone put out a roster of rock and roll Christmas songs, but most of them are kind of awful. But, some are intentionally bad, no holiday can truly be complete with the wisdom of Bob and Doug MacKenzie.

Still trying to isolate the “mystery days.”


Prayer Pimples and Hairy Fishnuts

They say you should always trust your gut. Fat lot of good they know. Apparently my gut has shit for brains. I had two options for today after a little bit of time in at the day gig. I could retire to a good friend’s house and be fed really well. Or, I could stand around at the Arena in my red jacket watching Trans Siberian Orchestra in the name of helping my own fiscal bottom line out. A smart person would have opted for the great food and entertaining company. I apparently am not very smart.

I’ve been curious about Trans Siberian Orchestra for some time. They come every year for Christmas (there, I said it), but I’ve never been. Got the call on Friday asking if I would like to work the show. Stupidly thinking of my fiscal bottom line, I said yes.

As this picture from the Buffalo News shows, there was a cult like following on the floor of the arena. Audience responded to cues for orchestrated mania and all.

It is a visual wonder, multi-level stages, flames, lasers, ramps, heavy metal hair whippage, gyrating singer/dancers and a story teller who was trying a little too hard to enunciate like Geoffrey Holder (hence the Berkley Breathed title for this essay). If there was a sax solo, it would have encompassed every concert of all types that I had ever been to. The hired local string players did an admirable job of ignoring the pyrotechnics. I can’t help but wonder if the Orchestra’s own violin player might have gotten some pre-recorded help as a violin doesn’t really lend itself to flying off of stage risers, but I digress.

Being an agreeable sort, I okayed to staying for the second show. I was moved down to another section and was struck by a unique phenomena. Camera were out in force, but there were a lot of people taking video of the performance. I can’t help but wonder if that you are so hopped up to perserve the performance on video, are you actually enjoying the performance?

I mean, why capture the moment for posterity when you can’t stop to enjoy the moment in the first place?

I’m pretty sure I’m stumped about dinner on Friday night, what it was, what it is, but for whatever reason, I still remember all the salient stuff about seeing Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen in their appearances at Memorial Auditorium.

I was fascinated by this one guy who had his “portable” phone capturing the 3D assault on our collective senses. Things are exploding all around us and dude’s focus was not on the moment, but of taking video of that moment. I guess the comfort of home couch is not to be underestimated.

It would be easier to fathom if this was a rare sighting, but these guys come here every year. And wouldn’t watching at home be easier on the DVDs that were already on sale in the lobby?

I never understood the paying all that money to be see at a show when you weren’t really into the show.

Enjoy the experience. Nobody really cares if that “Whoo” during the quiet part was yours.

Holiday Cards & other Random notes

Tis the season for many things: congressional obfuscation, forced office fun, deciding what Christmas Carols need to stop being annual reoccurences, trying to manage the holiday on the cash I have instead of the credit I don’t.

So, there is much to be contemplated, like informing my lovely son that the song really isn’t called “Ding, fries are done!”

So, I have some things done, but I’ll be a last minute shopper and I’m fine with that as I won’t be a January debtor.

Speaking of which, I guess it is okay to run up the debt when you are greasing millionaires who are potential donors. It is a bit of contrast for me that the folks vilifying the President for the stimulus package not long ago are basically okay with a tax cut for the wealthiest americans for roughly the same amount. That is an imperfect bill, but compromise needs to happen on both sides to get stuff done. It just cracks me up what becomes priority and the many instances where our leaders are looking the other way.

Not sure why the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal is such a source of fear. Yes, it will shake up the troops. Pretty sure that happened before, when blacks and whites finally started serving together. The world’s homophobes need to get past the thought that gays and lesbians have one thing and one thing only on their minds. The older I get, I’m convinced it is the homophobes who have the one thing on their minds. As one of the folks in my twitter feed pointed out, the people against open service are the ones probably afraid of gay marriage too, how that will wreck that institution. Please, we waste so much time tossing pointless stones at one another. The military will endure, so will the various churches.

Oh, yeah, Congress, pass the damned Zadroga bill while you are at it. It really isn’t that tough and the grandstanding filibuster is pretty transparent. Don’t be running out the clock. I’m working a little on my christmas break and I don’t have your health care coverage.

Bypassing the actual mailing of christmas cards again this year, as it was a questionable expense. I think most of us do that to make sure the christmas cards keep coming. It’s pricy, and I guess not enviromentally sound either, but it was mostly the costs. I’m not a big guy for biblical type scripture, prefer to have a bit of a sense of humor over a time of year that permeates everything from thanksgiving till New Year’s and there doesn’t appear to be an inexpensive way to do that. I’d rather concentrate what funds I have on the really important things, like my son’s dental bill.

Got into a silly discussion about pop christmas carols with a cousin who is full for “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” getting overplayed. Much to my horror, there apparently was a sequel a few years ago which thankfully flopped. She raised a very valid point about pop christmas songs. There are not that many good ones. I mean if I could arrange to hear the Waitresses or the Payolas seasonal offerings ahead of Billy Squier or Brian Adams, I’d be a happy guy.

But, the tree will go up tomorrow after I break it out of the basement.

Ya’all realize that it still isn’t winter yet?

Mr. Plow

This weather has side effects. Combine it with the holidays, and punch-drunkedness becomes an easy reach. Last night’s and this morning’s show meant my usual seven minute commute reached a new high of 44 minutes on the trip into work.

Caught sight of some joker in a pick-up truck fish tailing last night on my way home for the evening. I’m thinking that is God suggesting that you might want to slow down, else you are taking out your aggressions, like a certain bus driver.

One nebbish just posted on Facebook about how the temperature in Key West is 75….”just sayin.” Aside from that doing nobody who was stuck on the road this morning any good, I wonder if he considered that if you have to end a sentence with “just sayin,” there is a pretty good likelihood that it didn’t need to be said.

Al Roker tweeted about landing in Buffalo last night and the weather didn’t seem like that big a deal for Western New York. I tweeted back that he must of lost the office travel pool. It snows and is cold in Buffalo, that ain’t news. Our recent sudden ability to be bumfuzzled by that probably should be. It cracks me up that there is always a soundbite about how we pull together during the nasty weather (we do and it is great), and how that kind of implies other places don’t. I think we do to make sure you have a good supply of storm stories for the drinking that follows.

Ever notice for all the preaching about pickups, 4 x 4s, jeeps and “is it good in the snow?”, there is a high percentage of those very vehicles in the ditches and snowbanks.

If I receive a $1 from every tv personality who will use the phrase “Winter Wonderland” to describe the snow on their broadcasts this evening, I can run up pretty impressive bill at the nearest available watering hole (their money, so I’m not choosy).

I don’t mind the snow really, that is part of the four seasons of being here. What is worrisome that the guys who are supposed to remove it are seemingly having greater difficulty cleaning up. Past few storms have required an “examination of our procedures” or some other banality. I remember the Christmas storm where we got seven feet over the course of the time between christmas and New Year’s without so much as a platitude. It makes me wonder if the crews that made us all hubris laden have retired and the newer arrivals can’t match the predecessors.

Careful on the roads, and if you see a snowman in the street, honk first.

Maybe the Vikings should play outside

Ironically, the guys who fix these things are in Buffalo.

Witness what looks like somebody running at the bottom of the screen. It took me a second to realize that “Mall of America Field” is just the latest name for the Metrodome in Minneapolis. I guess the argument of the flexible roof allows for some ebb and flow with winds, but I guess this was no ordinary wind.

Maybe the Vikes ought to go old school and play outside in their next incarnation, but this might still be ready for this season.

That fact alone is pretty amazing.