Lying around



Life moves fast, as Ferris Bueller says, got to take a look around once in awhile. Truth be told, I think they were all just editorializing on the ability of their lead keeper’s christmas decorating ability.


“Be vewy qwiet…”

“We’re hunting cwistmas twees….hehehe”

Well, enough Fudd-isms, as we no longer do such foolish things. But the day after Black Friday, before American Express sponsored it, used to be known as…Saturday. Quite the revelation, I know.

My older brother and our dad had taken to procuring a real honest-to-gosh Christmas tree for the folks’ place on this mighty day. With the appearance of my lovely eldest daughter, I joined in the quest. When you have baby at home, suddenly tossing some lights on top of a six foot tall artificial plant that was there all the time, didn’t seem to cut it. The boys had done their due diligence and found that Ulbrich’s tree farm had a good selection of free range trees (A joke for those of who take shopping at the co-op too seriously). While the good folks at Ulbrichs had already had some on the lot already pre-cut and ready to be attached to your car, those were for the wimps, the candy-assed & generally inferior.

Okay, chances are those were also taken by the smarter people, but the real men, the hairy chested, not afraid of rear-wheel drive cars, drinkers in the good dive bars, went to get our own. Well, it was also cheaper to cut your own down as it saved the Ulbrichs folks from doing it. In our thriftiness, we also became snobs. That first one, that’s a good one, but let’s see what else is out there. My first escapade on this adventure had either my dad or I leaving a glove to mark a potentially worthy tree. From a distance it looked like the glove was giving us the finger. That system evolved as the old man made markers out of material, so we could TRACK the trees, as the good ones wouldn’t stay where we left them.

The uniting factor in all this is that I think with one exception the weather was mostly crappy. It was raining one year and even the staff was looking at us like we were nuts, which truth be told, we probably were. Either rain, snow, or ground that mostly resembled walking on a fudge sundae, it was never ideal, but you came away with the right tree from the space. I don’t think it mattered much to my kids where the tree came from, but it was an all too rare window in my brother’s soul. He battles a variety of issues, but can tell you about each jaunt in remarkable detail, even though we stopped some years ago.

That is what I take away, when I read about people tsk-tsk-ing about the midnight shoppers Thursday night, or self-righteously shopping local because a credit card company told them too, I tend to think more about this kind of silly stuff. There wasn’t a year that we didn’t look like the Keystone Kops heading into the woods of Alden, and that was pretty cool.

That said, shop the local shops at the damn time, the Black Friday deals are marketing (as they pop up again and again, during the year and the season) and cyber monday? Click on the “watch” buttons and you don’t have to do things because some smarmy marketer told you so. I say this as one of those smarmy marketers.

Black Friday

I mean seriously, I know some bars were opening back up Thanksgiving Night and all, but can you imagine being the guy who has to leave dinner to put his stuff on to head off for the 10 pm shift at Target?

There is a reason that people like Thanksgiving more so than Christmas, less constant pressure. This occurred to me, thinking of the poor devil who actually had the misfortune to need an essential, underwear, or whatever at the closest Target.

I mean, I understand, Friday is a day off for most folks and it’s the season and all that, Remember when the season started at the civilized hour of, say, 10? There wasn’t anything wrong with that. The bulk of the “incredible” deals often resurface during the season and even during the “mystery days” of Christmas, you know, that space between Christmas and New Year‘s.

I guess this all stems from me seeing the inevitable news piece of some poor slob who had to line up at 2 in the morning for the deal on a flat screen at some big box retailer, only to stumble and get trampled the moment the doors open. Nobody needs a new set so badly that they need to risk safety and regard for other people that way.

And I think that is at the heart of it for me. Christmas and I have had a love hate relationship over the past few years, mostly from my own odd belief that I wasn’t able to do all that I wanted for my kids only to find out we were doing fine all along. Yet, the season actually is a “Season” with displays creeping into the Halloween racks at some retailers last month, before Halloween.

It is the one time frame where people generally act the way they should all year long, provided you aren’t seeing them in a retail setting.

You want to embrace it, but it can sometimes be too big to get your arms around.

Free Ride

Now this ski resort knows how to make bucks in the warm weather. I rode something like this at a resort in Collingwood, Ontario a bunch of years ago. I think my Dad and I had a race as they had two lanes, but this looks more fun and a longer ride. The coaster located Mieders, Austria, starts at the top of a mountain, reachable by a cable car.

I want to do this.

To see what the non-riders see, check this out:

Does anybody want to go…..faster?


I’m not a huge fight booster when it comes to watching hockey. One of the greatest games I ever saw was a SabresCanadiens game that ended in a 2-2 tie. I don’t think a penalty was called and given that Perreault, Martin, Robert, Lafleur, Shutt were all involved, it was a flippin clinic.

The current Sabres’ are off to a decent start, despite recent trouble. I think we are overhyped a bit. That said, it would be nice to see more passion from the boys on the ice. I’m not worried about Ville Leino at all, and the ringing in my ears over the missed chances against Phoenix has only just died down after two days.

Considering they haven’t one anything yet. This clip was on the Buffalo News‘ site this morning. All Western New York hockey fans have seen it. Upon rewatching it, I found it very telling that after Neil dumped Chris Drury, he didn’t get 15 feet before getting pounced on by…Drew Stafford? Yep, Drew.

Obviously, we don’t have Andrew Peters or Adam Mair these days.

Sure Lucic is a crit for his play, sort of wish he played for us.

The Sabres could use a little more soul.

Live from Section 106

I got the call for ushering duty for the Sabres/Coyotes matchup. One of the cooler things about this duty, other than you really aren’t working to hard, is the people watching fest that unfolds in front of you.

Part of the fun of this for me is watching the show get prepped as the Arena, er, Center gets itself ready for the 18,000+ visitors. Those of us in blue meet a little bit before the doors open en mass, get briefed on what might be happening and then it’s showtime. I tend to be all over the building, but was dispatched to one of the corridors that faces the front of the place last night, so it was going to be little busier.  And that was cool and from down on the main level, the game looks almost life size.

There is typically an hour from when the doors open to when the event starts and it is kind of cool to see people stream in. A couple of times last night, a couple of parents were bringing kids to their first game ever. And to see young eyes go wide as saucers seeing what they had previously only seen on tv was a kick. You can’t help but smile watching somebody trying to soak everything in for the first time. The entertainment also comes from the little things, like how fast you make temporary friends (one guy worked for former employer of mine, to which another had some opinions of that employer’s now jailed owner), to showing off your photo skills (telling a fan how to pose so we can get the picture of them, the logo on the ice and the scoreboard all in one picture), to explaining the significance of Milt Ellis to those unfamiliar (for reference, head over to for a primer on Ellis’ importance). The topper for me was the beer vendor who recognized me from my days peddling cable from across the hall in the Adelphia Zone. In the intervening five years, I’ve at least changed places.

One of the folks in my gathering was sporting a jersey from the now-long defunct California Golden Seals, so I regaled him with the story that the Seals were the opponent for my first Sabres game, back when my eyes were wide from things other than the current bags. He told me how he knew of the team as they came with his table top hockey game as a kid. His wife looked at both of us and decided “You guys are old.” She’s right on that score.

A lot of my blue jacketed breathen have been doing this work since the Aud days so there isn’t a huge amount of turn over, but you can see why. At only 30 some events, I’m still a newbie (hope to make the cool kids clique at some point). There is a little common-interest community going on there regardless how well or poorly the home team is playing. And why they stink at home is a bit of mystery. I think the other events are the price paid to talk hockey.

The Song is Over

A few months ago, the Albright Knox took some less than good natured grief for putting on a small exhibition of Hockey photographs. It was during that Junior Hockey tourney after last christmas. A lot of pissing and moaning about the gallery compromising itself. While I not only enjoyed the exhibit, it was also brilliant as it got people to the gallery.

No small feat that. This occured to me as Number one Son and I plopped into a pair of seats at Kleinhans to hear the Buffalo Philharmonic perform the music of the Who. Always loved the Who, especially the early 70s records. There are a lot of symphonic elements to the recordings so it wasn’t much of a stretch for a six piece rockband to join the orchestra. I was always curious how they staged these pop shows, keeping the rock band and the orchestra on the same page. The only guy who really had to work hard was the sound man to insure a decent mix between the two groups of musicians.

While mimicking parts originally done on synthesizers wasn’t a whole lot of heavy lifting for the BPO, it was still kind of fun. It was a hits show to be sure. While the lead singer was a little smarmy, he had some good pipes for the music. He wasn’t going to make anybody for Roger Daltrey, but he acquitted himself well. It was a kick to hear a guy a few rows behind me shouting out obscure Who tunes. And if they would have played “The Punk versus the Godfather” that would have been something. I remember tales of a BPO conductor some years ago stopping a show to admonish a coughing audience. The rules were lessened for us philistines.

But it was fun and it got some people to Kleinhans to hear some music, maybe even arouse a little curiosity about the orchestra and that is the cool part.

It’s great to see the acoustically perfect place host a greater variety of shows, but it was also good to expose some folks to the main tenants too.

Election Night

I did my civic duty and voted early Tuesday morning.

You know the drill. Belly up to the counter of volunteers while the first clerk looks for your information in the wrong book, finds the right one, and hands you the ballot to go circle like a civic version of the SAT. I dutifully took it to my study carol to fill out, and as I went up to the paper shredder, er, scanner, I got a little nostalgic for the levers.

Remember them, those power proof old clunkers. Those dependable machines. I miss em.

I made regular extra cash when I was in college as media from Rochester and Buffalo would hire out us St. Bonaventure students to head to parts unknown to catch results. During my senior year, while simultaneously being employed by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, WKBW, WHLD Radio (All just for the evening) and my college station, a colleague and I traipsed around Olean and Allegany reading the numbers of the printouts that came off the backs of the voting machines.

A year earlier, another classmate and I, each in the employ of about four or five different media organizations (again, just for the night) played the big stage, heading to election headquarters to do basically the same thing, but in the Cattaraugus County seat. I occasionally called our actual radio station (the mighty WSBU) to “file” reports from the Little Valley Board of Elections.

It was old school as there was no constant newscycle, 2,4,7 and the Buffalo News were it. I had college classmates who thought Buffalo was burning because all we ever saw was Irv Weinstein talking about Buffalo blaze busters battling…..something else beginning with b.

I guess this all came to mind as I was getting pursued by an exit pollster today and people seeking election results before polls close. Back in the day (and 1985 qualifies as back in the day), we waited till 9, as there really wasn’t anything to say. Well, 26 years later, there still isn’t anything to say until the polls close. Yet, that doesn’t stop folks from trying to fill all that airtime.

So, yeah, until results are actually in, I’m watching hockey