31 December, 2013

Another Year in the Books...

This time of the year, it seems that there are only 2 types of stories out there. We have the ‘Year in review’ and we have the ‘What to look forward to in (insert new year here)’

People wax poetic on this -gate, or that –palooza, then they put on their best Carnac the Magnificent to predict what will happen in the next 52 weeks.

Some of the ‘Best/worst (fill in the blank) of (fill in the year)’ reports are well done. They are researched, well produced and have valid arguments for why this made it and that one didn’t.

Others are superficial. They are hastily thrown together to fill time or space. They are filled with things that most people wouldn’t consider legitimate contenders.

I have difficulty writing these sorts of lists off the top of my head, because I don’t always remember what happened this year.. Did it happen this year, or last.. was it significant enough to remember? When it comes to movies, I can’t write a good one, because I don’t see that many new movies. I can’t do best song, because I am old and boring, and only listen to talk radio, so I couldn’t tell you who sang what because I probably on heard a 15 second clip of the song at the last Knighthawks or Amerks game. I have no idea what the fox said.

That said, in no particular order, the best movies that I saw from 2013 are American Hustle, Hunger Games, and The Way Way Back. Movies worth seeing: Now You See Me, Thor, RED 2, Enders Game, and Hangover 3. Don’t waste your time: Anchorman, Superman, GI Joe. I am probably forgetting something.

Some personal highlights (again, in no particular order) of the year include a trip to Disney, on a drive to America to get props for our 4th of July, we stopped at the Corning glass museum, (definitely worth a trip if you are within driving distance.) We spent a day at Stony Brooke State Park, we spent a few days in Niagara Falls, The Knighthawks won a 2nd consecutive championship, a new nephew was introduced. Oh yea, I found out I am going to be the father of a new baby girl in May.

Things to look forward to in the coming year would be another strong season for the Knighthawks (including an expanded regular season, and a new play-off format). We will be going to Disney for a low-key trip, last one for a while (we don’t plan on getting back down there until late 2015 or early 2016). I think that the growing distrust of Big Government (particularly Obamacare) will lead to some changes in the Mid-Term elections this fall. NY will continue to become the nanny-state of all nanny states until it snaps. There will be a growing call for the state to split NYC off into its own state (but it won’t happen any time soon)

What do you think will happen in 2014? What were your highlights of 2013? Share them in the comments!

19 December, 2013

Hockey at Frontier Field???

If you have driven down Plymouth Ave or 490 through downtown Rochester during the last week, you probably saw something a bit curious, lights on at the baseball stadium. Did they start playing winter ball up north?

Nope, they are playing outdoor hockey! It is the Frozen Frontier. It is a 10 day festival that kicked off with an Amerks (AHL) game, and includes 3 college games, an Amerks/Sabres alumni game, several high school games as well as rec-league games and blocks of time sold to sponsors for open skate time. This is a joint venture between the Red Wings, Amerks and Sabres.

I had the opportunity to go to the Amerks game Friday night, it was the kick-off of the outdoor hockey festival. As you can imagine, December in Rochester isn’t exactly balmy.. The scoreboard thermometer showed a game time temp of 20, and it only went down from there.

As we approached the stadium, they had frozen the specially designed throw-back jerseys for each team into blocks of ice as well as a logo ice sculpture of the logo of the festival. They also had those mobile spotlights that are used at special events to draw attention to the location. When I got there, it was lightly snowing, which made for the coolest effect of the snow in the spot beams. It was a nice touch.

Special sweaters worn by the Amerks
They had set up a warming station tent down the walk way on the 3rd base side, that had a pre-game party with a band. They had also brought in several port-a-potties, since when they built the stadium 15 years ago, they didn’t predict having a winter event, so the plumbing is turned off at the end of the Red Wings season.  Lucky for me, my tickets were in the Perch suite, so we were ok, the suite level bathrooms were good to go.

In the Perch
My brother and I
The game had an announced attendance of 11k+, and it was a great atmosphere. From where we were sitting, we could see the lines of cars on both Plymouth and State St coming to the game, and could see cars parking on the very top level of the WXXI garage at High Falls. The traffic was steady through most of the first period.

The Colors were presented in a very respectful manner and the national anthem was sung in a very powerful way by a very talented young girl who is no stranger to singing before large crowds. She sang the anthem at a Sabres game that was nationally televised. The pre-game festivities included fireworks timed to the ‘rocket’s red glare’ line of the Star Spangled Banner.

The game turned out to be exactly the type of game you’d hope for in this sort of event. It featured division rivals that flat don’t like each other and had had a rather feisty game just a couple days prior. Early on, the gloves were dropped and that just got the crowd going. The Amerks jumped out to an early lead, only to see that go away and then turn it into a 3-1 deficit. The Amerks went to work in the 3rd, and not only tied it, but pulled ahead 4-3.

The game seemed all but over when the Lake Erie Monsters took a penalty with about 3 minutes left, down a goal, but they didn’t give up. They fought off the power play and then got one of their own with about 50 seconds left. They then pulled the goalie and skated 6 on 4 for the rest of regulation. The Amerks did the best they could to keep the puck out of their zone, but being out numbered, the visitors managed to put the puck in the back of the net with what appeared to be no time on the clock. The officials gathered, and they went to the review, and it was determined that the goal was scored with .1 on the clock to tie the game.

5 minutes of overtime were scoreless, so they went on to the shoot out. The goalies both prevailed in round 1, the Monsters scored in both round 2 and 3, leaving the Amerks down 2-0, with only 2 skaters to go. The 4th Monster skater comes up, if he scores, game over. He doesn’t. Now it’s the Amerk’s turn. If they don’t score, game over. They do.

Same scenario for round 5, The Monsters don’t and the Amerks do. Now we are tied at 2 after 5 rounds. This time Amerks captain Matt Ellis is not to be denied. He nets the game winning shot and sent the Rochester fans home happy, after the fireworks, that is. From the sounds in the crowd, there were more than a few who made the drive up I90 from Cleveland to root on their Monsters.

I haven’t had the chance to make it to any of the other games, and with my schedule, probably won’t. I would have liked to have gone to the RIT men’s game, but it wasn’t to be. I can’t imagine the experience it would be for those high school players that got to change in the Red Wings locker room, then play in that venue. It is something they will remember for the rest of their lives.

I am glad I got to be a part of this, even if just as a fan. I hope that they don’t do it every year. It is something that should be kept as a special event, and not repeated too often. Maybe next time, they can do it at Sahlen’s stadium. It would have provided better sight lines for the fans.

16 December, 2013

Who Dropped the ball?

By now you have heard about the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral last week. Here in Rochester, home of the NTID (National Technical Institute for the Deaf), all of the local reporters went out and found anyone they could stick a microphone in front of to say how offended they were at the nerve of this guy who had the stones to fake his way through the service.

I think that people have a right to be upset and outraged, but not for the reason everyone is getting upset at. First of all.. how do we know that it isn’t a different sign language? It might be that the rest of the world doesn’t use ALS (American Sign Language). Perhaps, he is using a different version of sign language.

The thing that gets me upset at this is how did this guy get that close to our President? This guy has been arrested for burning someone to death, and the courts declined to prosecute because he was mentally unfit to stand trial. Those of you who know me, know that I am among the last to say anything good about Obama, but this is bigger than that.

Someone dropped the ball on this one. Probably several someones. First of all, how did the agency that picks and assigns the interpreter pass this guy? Did he have the right credentials to be in the pool? Also, doesn’t our Secret Service validate the people who are going to be that close to the President? What would have happened if someone got to him and got him to wear a vest? He would have been able to take out several of the world’s leaders in one shot. Then we would be talking about something other than a guy who was faking his way through signing some speeches at a funeral.

02 December, 2013

Let's all be Honest..

Ok, I know I am going to get some heat here, but I am going to call BS on something. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, you had people coming out against the retailers that were going to get a jump on holiday shopping by opening on Thanksgiving.

There were Facebook pages devoted to boycotting the retailers like Kohls, Wal Mart, and Target that would be opening as early as 6pm Thursday. Several of these stores wouldn’t be closing until Friday night.

The complaint was 2 fold.. first of all, people should be spending the holidays with their families, not fighting other consumers for that knickknack or special deal that you just have to have, or Christmas would be ruined.

The other reason is concern for the poor retail worker who had to leave their families, so you could go fight with other consumers for that knickknack or other special deal. They should be able to stay at home so they can watch the parade or the games with their families.

This is where I call BS. If you really cared about people being able to sit home with their families, then you wouldn’t watch the game. Or do the employees at the tv studios, networks, stadiums, etc.. not count?

If you really cared about people being able to stay home, then you would stay home and keep your TV off.

Let’s not forget that there is consumer demand for both. If people didn’t want to go shopping, or watch the game or parade, they wouldn’t and there wouldn’t be a need for those people to work on Thanksgiving.

I’m sick of people using retail employees as pawns for their own political agendas, whether it is for boosting minimum wage, to controlling hours, or increasing union membership.

Let’s call a spade a spade. If you don’t want to go shopping on Thanksgiving Day, then don’t. But don’t say it is because you want the stores’ employees to have the option to stay home with their families, then you better not watch the game or parade.

And, if enough people agree with you, then next year, the stores won’t open until Friday morning.