Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Canucks Alternate Jersey 2001

If you haven't gathered from the color scheme of this blog or the picture of the schmuck who writes this blog, then you wouldn't know of the Canuck love that this blog gives.  And since tomorrow begins the 2010-2011 NHL preview, I figure to transition into that the only way I can: with yet another jersey that looks bizarre.

Today's jersey is the Vancouver Canucks alternate jersey that they wore from 2001 to 2007.  Many of you know of the many looks that the Canucks have worn over the years, from the original blue and green stick in the box to the "Flying V" jerseys to the spaghetti on skates of the late 80's and most of the 90's to the quad-colored orca to now, which is the orca in the team's original blue and green colors.  This particular jersey utilized a navy blue fading into red scheme and as you can tell from the jersey, it looked like one giant mess with the Orca placed in the middle of it.  Call me insane, but like many of the Canucks looks, I wouldn't mind having this jersey.  In fact, there are many worse looks than this; it is just that this one is just flat out weird.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Star Jersey

The past few days, I have been coughing up a storm, which explains why nothing was written the last two days.  Now, since the NHL season is less than 40 days away, the next 30 days or so will be devoted to a preview of sorts.  That is just a day or two away, so in the meantime, here is something to tide you over until then.

Today is a jersey day, and unlike most jerseys that I talk about, this jersey is one of my favorites.  The Dallas Stars jersey that was originally introduced during the 1998-1999 season as an alternate jersey (shown) was largely based upon the All-Star jerseys of the mid-90's.  The Stars wore this jersey exclusively as a road jersey when they were making their Stanley Cup run that year and the next year, a home white version was made.  These jersey were in existence until 2007, when the jersey makeover hit all of the teams.  Unfortuantely for Dallas, that meant the end of the jerseys and the beginning of the rather boring home and alternate jerseys that you see today.

Besides the unique design of the Stars' jerseys of the late 90's to most of the 2000's, the Stars played up the green on both jerseys and the numbering and names on the backs did nothing to take away from the overall design.  Even without the logo on the front, the design of the jersey itself would have been enough to let fans know who the Dallas Stars were.  Some of that thunder was taken in the mid-2000's, when the Stars introduced the rather unfortunate "Mooterus" jersey.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Going Retro

Everyone that has followed the New Jersey Devils and Martin Brodeur know the mask that he wears.  In recent years, he has had the mask modified from the partial Devils logo to the more personal "MB" on the crown of the mask.  However, for the game on St. Patrick's Day in 2010, he sported a different kind of mask.  Unless you happened to be around for his debut in the NHL, you will probably not recognize the look.  The mask is a replica of the one he wore during his first NHL game in 1992, when the Devils still had the red and green color scheme.  This coincided with the Devils going back to that color scheme for that game, which you see below.

I personally would not recommend that either party go retro for more than ten games in a season, but these looks are a nice reminder of what the Devils were when they started out in New Jersey.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shoveling Dirt on Summer 2010

With the kids beginning school in the coming days, if not now, that means Summer is nearing its end.  And for the first time in a while, I can say that I have a lot to say about it.  Now, last year was not as hot from a temperature standpoint, which made it one of the better Summers in a while.  Most of the fun, though, happened in the Fall.  This year, the fun began as Summer reared its ugly head (more on that later).  It began in June, when the sometime visitors, always up for a party band Widow made its annual (so it seems nowadays) trek to Kansas City.  The show got off to a late start (this becomes a trend with many Kansas City shows, as this piece will indicate) because one of the bands pulled off.  Since the band was also hungry, they gathered a few friends for the short trek to Jerusalem Cafe.  It originally began as ten people, but four dropped when the seating arrangements forced its hand.  And who knew that a Mediterranean restaurant can be so metal?

Back to the show, it began shortly after 10 PM and had its usual good moments.  The next weekend saw lots of things, from the 70th birthday celebration for Dear ol' Dad to what started as the week in Albuquerque.  The 15 hours on the road were long and somewhat arduous, but wasn't all that boring.  It's as Widow says, "Road trips are what you make of it," and the trek through Kansas and the Oklahoma panhandle didn't seem as boring as all the other times that I went through those areas.  New Mexico, the eastern half of it, was pretty barren, with only Clayton and Springer being any towns with any semblance of civilization.  There was a stop in the small town of Mora, since I have some relatives there, so a good hour break helped before hitting the road again for Albuquerque.

Along the way, this picture of Storrie Lake, near Las Vegas, NM, brought a good omen for what the week had in store for me.  Now, since I covered the entire week in an earlier piece, I won't go too much into the details, so here's a cliff notes version of what happened: Museum of Natural History and Old Town, as well as another birthday (the brother-in-law) Monday, baseball game Tuesday, Iron Maiden Wednesday, quiet time Thursday, nightlife on Friday, and the zoo on Saturday before heading home Sunday.  And on a side note, try not to go through Houston's airport because for such a large city, it gets cramped in a hurry and is clearly the worst airport that I've gone through.

The rest of Summer was relatively quiet, save for the Week of Metal, which included bands such as Valdur, URN, and Vektor making their way through town.  If only Kansas City would have more weeks like this, which means everyone who considers themselves a metalhead in Kansas City had better make the effort to attend shows.  Drop your excuses and just go to the shows, no matter if your friend's band is playing or not.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Buried Alive

Those who have known me over the years know of my affinity for Sonata Arctica.  However, not many know that another one of my favorite bands is Sentenced.  Up until their split in 2005, the band had put out some of the most depressing albums in the form of melodic death metal.  They began in 1989, with a decided death metal sound, and gained some recognition with their album Amok.  Their style underwent a major change when original vocalist Taneli Jarva left and was replaced by Ville Laihiala in time for the Down album.  With each progressing album, they moved farther away from their roots to a more rock sound, yet the depressive themes remained until the bitter end.

Sentenced's final work is captured on their last ever show in their native Oulu, Finland.  Buried Alive is the live show plus a mini-documentary, the band's videos, and an interview.  The entire listing of their discography and photos are also included in the DVD.  So, if you're like me and never got the chance to see Sentenced live, this DVD is the best and only way to get an idea of what they were live.  On a side note, guitarist Miika Tenkula died last year, so the band will remain true to their word of there being no reunion.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Rust Bucket

Look up the word "flaky" in the hockey dictionary and I am sure that the picture that goes with the word would be of Arturs Irbe.  He was flaky in the sense that he took care of his own equipment, sewing together his own pads when they needed repair, the transliterations from Latvian, and the goalie mask.  Ah yes, the "mask" was unmistakable in that it was a throwback when a handful of goalies resorted to the helmet-cage combination.  Irbe's mask was even more archaic in that the mask looks like it wouldn't even be suitable for a goalie, even in the 1970's.  So, how rare is his mask?  He acquired a new one through an ad and like much of his equipment, trainers and caretakers would often wonder about the charges from out of the way places for hockey goalie equipment.

This entire ensemble gained attention during the 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs, when Irbe backstopped the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup finals.  His tenure in the NHL ended when he was sent down to the ECHL in 2003, but the look will never be forgotten.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Almost that time...

With the start of the NHL regular season less than 50 days away, I've been thinking of what to write.  So, to that end, in the coming days, I will plan to write about each of the the 30 teams (likely starting September 1, if not sooner if the ideas don't come as I would like) and attempt to put some odds with that team's chances of hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup in June.  Think of this as the 2010-2011 season preview extravaganza (cue grand entrance music).

So, what does this mean for this blog?  Well, the movie ideas will be incorporated as I can get through seeing something worth the write up, though it isn't necessarily guaranteed that it will happen right away.  And since Summer is close to dying for the year, there will be my review of everything that happened.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Attack of the Plague

From the people that brought you Deep Red and Cemetery Man comes a movie that actually makes a religious building is the main enemy.  Yes, folks, The Church is about what happens when you build a church on some cursed ground and accidentally open the gate that keeps the spirits inside.

This movie marked the second directorial effort of Michele Soavi and he had some assistance, as Dario Argento lent a hand in the production and writing duties.  Before I continue, here's an idea for a drinking game (inspired by one Don Anderson): if you can spot Soavi in the movie, take a couple of shots.  You can also play this game in some other Italian horror movies that he appears in, too.  Back to the movie, it begins with a flashback to some time ago, when a group of Teutonic knights slaughter a village that was suspected of being Satan worshippers.  They eventually bury the dead and decide to build a church upon that site.  Now, fast forward to present day, and we meet quite possibly the creepiest bishop and librarian along with a young assistant.  The librarian opens the gate (in reality, a cross that the knights had built to seal the spirits) and gets cut.  The cut makes him go wacky, and soon, anyone he cuts gets the same affliction.  One day, a group of children with guide, an elderly couple, a young biker couple, and a newly married couple are all trapped in the church when the Sacristan lets out some blood, which triggers an automatic locking system.  The problem: there's only one door out.  It is up to Father Gus and a teenage Asia Argento to stop the spirits from escaping, which means finding a secret within the building and unlocking it.

The movie borrows from Demons (it was originally going to be called Demons 3) and Inferno.  The soundtrack is good and fits with the movie well, and the atmosphere is perfect for what Soavi is wanting to accomplish.  There's not a lot of violence, but the violence that does happen is spectacular enough to make up for it.  The ending was rather mediocre, which takes the movie down a peg.  Other than that, The Church is an above average movie that is worth the time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hockey Skulls

As a general rule, when it comes to hockey masks, the skull design rarely fails.  Obviously, this design isn't for everyone, and only a few people can pull off the transcendent design (the Eagle for Ed Belfour, Marvin the Martian for Patrick Lalime, Cujo for Curtis Joseph, etc.).  As you can gather, the list is rather small and many of the players who do have this type of mask design have had some level of success at some point in their pro hockey career.

Today's mask is identified with Finnish goaltender Vesa Toskala.  He began his career with the San Jose Sharks before getting traded to Toronto prior to the 2006-2007 season.  Like many goaltenders before him, the Toronto spotlight proved to be too much for him, and he was dealt in the middle of the 2009-2010 season to Anaheim for Jean-Sebastien Giguere.  His stay in Anaheim didn't last long, as he was later dealt to Calgary for backup goaltender Curtis McIlhenny.  Currently a free agent, it is unknown where he will end up, but no matter where he lands, the skull mask (pictured) that has been identified with him will follow.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hobbits, Orcs, and Other Tolkien Related Fantasy

Since the new Blind Guardian album is coming out soon (if it hasn't already), today's album is a 1998 Blind Guardian classic called Nightfall in Middle Earth.  The album is a concept based on the J.R.R. Tolkien book The Silmarillion.  With 22 tracks running over an hour, there would be some fairly high expectations as far as the album goes.  Throw in the band's penchant for going all out on their albums, both musically and songwriting wise, there is much pressure to succeed.  In many respects, this album does that and more, as Hansi Kursch shows why he is considered one of the best vocalists in the last 15 years or so.  Obviously, since this album is based on a Tolkien work, some people who haven't read any of his works may not get the idea while those who are familiar will gain much from the album.  One of the things that makes this album great is that the band is so naturally good at making grand sounding albums that they don't even need to try to overextend themselves.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

KC Power Metal Fest 2008 revisited

This year would have marked the third installment of the Kansas City Power Metal Fest, but like many smaller festivals, money became an issue and as such, it never happened.  Around this time two years ago, the first KC Power Metal Fest happened and like many weekend music festivals, there was a fair share of weirdness and drunken fun.

The original festival was to have been a one day event, but became two when more bands were added onto the bill.  One of those, however (Cage) dropped off a month or so before it was supposed to happen.  The Friday show was divided into two sections: the outdoor patio show that primarily consisted of local bands and the indoor show, which saw two local openers plus Seventh Calling, Leatherwolf, and Avenger of Blood.  Leatherwolf was undoubtedly one of the most difficult bands to deal with, as their antics in their day in town brought headaches for the people that had to deal with them (promoters, "tour guide", and hotel staff).  Here's the story: the band had arrived at the venue, when about three hours before the show, they want to go back to the hotel.  I know there's actually something to do around the venue like, oh I don't know, eat or get drunk.  Rest should have happened before you got to the venue and if that wasn't an option, caffeine is the answer.  Back to the story, about an hour before they were to hit the stage, someone got the call that they wanted to head back to the venue, and being that the "tour guide" was getting wasted himself, that left the only non-drinker, one of the promoters who was pregnant at the time, to go get the band.  Since she needed someone to tag along, that meant I had to do something, since I wasn't anywhere near merchandise tables helping out.  Now, before actually getting the band, we headed to McDonald's for food, and somehow, overshot the hotel by quite a bit, literally ending up on the other side of the highway, so we had to do a U-turn to head back to the hotel and pick up the band.  I left before the show ended so I could get rested up for the next day.

Saturday was the Manilla Road, Widow, Sacred Dawn, and Twelfth Gate show, and there were many drinks and some pizza had, though none of the beer was had by the pregnant co-promoter.  The first live interview that I ever did also happened that day, as I had an opportunity to interview Sacred Dawn over dinner.  Other than a flub on my part, which caused the interview to be interrupted and restarted from the last point of success, it went alright and for better or for worse, set a time marker for what I can consider a decent interview (7 minutes or more is considered a decent interview).  The show itself was pretty good and brought some friendships with the bands, namely Widow, who are as much a part of Kansas City metal as they are Raleigh metal.

On a side note, Leatherwolf ran into problems with the hotel staff with things like getting extra hotel keys and just being general jerks.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Blues Look of the mid-90's

This piece has been bothering me for a while, but since today is somewhat slow, I can sneak this one in.  This is actually a two-parter, as it covers both a team's home and away jersey for a specific time frame.

The St. Louis Blues have undergone some minor jersey changes in their time before 1994.  No matter the look though, the Blue Note has always been at the heart of everything that the Blues have done.  1994 marked a rather dramatic change, though, as the color red was introduced in a more involved manner, as opposed to just a complimentary accent that it had been.  As you can see by the picture, diagonal striping lifted from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (which by the way, if you're lifting from the Mighty Ducks design, then you're just reaching too far) and numbering that just simply looks odd because of the diagonal design.  The home jersey (white for you folks that remember when hockey's home team wore white) isn't that bad, but the road jerseys have one of the most uninviting amounts of red that grace a jersey, for a team whose primary colors are blue and yellow.  The thin striping in the diagonal design makes the jersey even more cluttered than what it is, but I do have to give the Blues credit for the shoulder patch, as it drives home the point of the team's name.

Thankfully, a third jersey came along in 1999 that signaled the beginning of the end of the diagonal eyesores, and that third jersey is the basis for today's Blues jerseys, and a current third jersey that is equally appealing.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Viking Voyage

In the early days of Facebook (when I have had one, that is), one of the things I did was something called Doc Reviews the Classics, where I would take a look at an album and give it a small review along with why I think it is a classic.  Ladies and gentlemen, it is time that I take that segment out of the mothballs and resurrect it here, so without further ado, here is a look at an album.

Falkenbach-Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty

Track listing:

1. Vanadis
2. ...As Long as Winds Will Blow
3. Aduatuza
4. Donar's Oak
5. ...The Ardent Awaited Land
6. Homeward Shore
7. Farewell

Bring up the genre of Viking metal and what is the first band that comes up?  If your answer is Amon Amarth, then you have a long ways to go.  Yes, Amon Amarth has been around for over ten years, but their style of Viking metal isn't specactular, nor is it epic.  To clarify that statement, all one would need to do is throw in the 2003 Falkenbach album Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty.  It is Viking metal in the epic sense, and is one of the most perfect albums in any genre.  The opening track "Vanadis" is a nine minute-plus adventure that mentally places the listener on a viking boat that is on its way to new lands.  All of the songs have the storyteller feel to them that conjures memories of heroes taking lands for their country and heroic battles, though it isn't nearly as cheesy as some bands tend to do.  What makes Falkenbach stand out even more is that it is primarily a one man project.

It has been a while since the last Falkenbach album (2005, to be exact), and albums such as Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty are few and far in between nowadays.  It is also rare that a 40 minute Viking metal album makes as much headlines for its ability to be a good storytelling album as it does for being great in its music compositions.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Florida Panther

Did you know that one point, the non-entity known as the Florida Panthers once made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals?  It's true, and they did it in what can be best described as the "Magic Carpet Ride" of 1996.  The 1995-96 season for the Florida Panthers was a culmination of what in the beginning, was a rise to top from the middle of the pack since their inception in 1993.  Having missed the playoffs in both of their previous seasons by mere points, the Panthers were looking to break through in 1995-96.  Who knew that it would be the year of the Rat?  Yes, the Panthers were associated with the Rat, as one of the faces of the team Scott Mellanby one-timed a rat against the wall before a game in October 1995.  He would go on to score two goals in that game.  For the rest of the Panthers home games, fans would shower the ice with plastic rats after every Panthers goal.  That magic would carry them to the Finals, where they were ultimately swept by the Colorado Avalanche.

Unfortunately for Panthers fans, this would be the highest point in their existence, as they haven't advanced  past the first round of the playoffs since then, when they have made the playoffs, and haven't seen the playoffs in a decade.

Today's mask is the John Vanbiesbrouck mask from his Florida Panthers days.  The mask is widely considered the best Panthers mask in existence, as it takes the Shark mask of Brian Hayward and parlays it into a Panther version.  As for Vanbiesbrouck, his career went through the New York Rangers, Florida, Philadelphia, and New York Islanders.  His best years were in a Florida uniform and even today, he is still the standard bearer when it comes to Florida goalies, as the likes of Roberto Luongo, Trevor Kidd, Tomas Vokoun, and Craig Anderson have continued the tradition of good goaltending, even when the rest of the team stinks.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Story Time, Kids...

Kids, come gather around as your Mr. Rogers imitation reads from the Canadian classic The Hockey Sweater.  Okay, so I won't be reading it here, but the 1979 Roch Carrier children's book is one of the most revered stories in hockey lore.

The story is about a young boy in the mid-1940's and like many boys in the small town of Ste. Justine, Quebec, they idolize Maurice "The Rocket" Richard. How much?  Well, in the story, they wear the number 9 in the Montreal Canadiens' bleu, blanc, et rouge that Richard wore, they tape up their hockey sticks like him, and they even comb their hair like their idol.  One day, the main character outgrows his Richard sweater, so his mother orders from the same catalog that she always orders from.  A few weeks later, instead of getting the Rocket Richard jersey that he always gets, he finds a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater shipped to him, much to his horror.  As you can imagine, this causes him much grief, as this would be the equivalent of, say, wearing a New York Rangers jersey to a New Jersey Devils game.  Okay, so maybe it's not on that level, but it gives you a good idea.  During a game, he takes a penalty and breaks his stick in the process.  The referee, who happens to also be the town's priest, sends him to church to ask God for forgiveness.  While there, the boy asks God to "send a million moths to eat the Maple Leafs sweater."

The story is one that will definitely strike a nerve for hockey fans, as it is a story that many can relate to, particularly Maple Leafs and Canadiens fans.  It is also a good children's book, as any child can see themselves in the main character, if they substitute the hockey sweater for anything that they hold near and dear.  The book was so popular that it was turned into a cartoon.

As a bonus, here is the cartoon version of The Hockey Sweater:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fall Into Darkness...Again

Every year in Portland, OR, there is a music festival in the fall that is considered one of the most eclectic festivals in the United States.  Fall into Darkness is a combination of the extreme, ambient, and pagan styles and is more a celebration of Halloween's roots instead of the commercial shell that it has become.

Last year brought out some of the big name bands from the West Coast, as the likes of Earth, Agalloch, Yob, and Ludicra all appeared on the three day event.  Those unable to make it to any of the three day event missed out on a great show.  Fear not, for the folks at Nanotear Booking have collaborated with Fell Studios for a DVD commemorating the event, with songs from the aforementioned bands, as well as Atriarch, Saviours, Witch Mountain, Soriah, Amber Asylum, and a solo performance by  Makoto Kawabata.  Also on the DVD are two trailers made for the release.  The performances on the DVD are just a sampling of what happened during that weekend, so those who long to either relive the experience or just try to catch what they missed can get this DVD.  Be warned though, that there were only 300 made, so act fast (oops, they're already sold out, so if you don't have your copy, then you're SOL).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Brain Drills and Michele Soavi Getting his Scalp Ripped Off

I've been slacking a bit when it comes to movie watching, so in an effort to rectify that situation, I turned on City of the Living Dead and managed to get through the entire thing after a few failed attempts.  As you can see from the picture, it is a Lucio Fulci film, which means there will be blood.

The movie opens with a medium "dying" from sheer fright after seeing in her vision a priest hanging himself.  That priest hanging himself opens the gates of Hell (please, don't ask).  Soon, the townsfolk begin to get killed off one by one, with one getting killed by what can only be best described as a "Dirty Sanchez" maneuver.  A couple in a car get killed, with one of them (see title) getting his scalp ripped off and the other having her insides leak out of her mouth courtesy of the priest's super strong stare.  Of course, the underlying story is that some guy named Bob is thought to have been involved in the killings, and at some point, he meets his demise at the hands of a deranged father and a giant drill.  You have to love Italian horror directors and their crazy ways of killing off people.  The medium that was thought to have died, well, along with a reporter and a couple of surviving townsfolk, they make their way to Dunwich, where the priest hanged himself.  They have to find a way to stop the living dead from walking the earth, which means killing the priest again.

As far as Fulci movies go, The Beyond and Zombi 2 get all of the headlines when it comes to his legacy.  However, movies like City of the Living Dead are underrated and deserve as much attention as the aforementioned titles.  Yes, it is a rather unorthodox way of portraying zombies, but it is quite effective and the ending will leave you with more questions than answers, which in a rarity, is a good thing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Actual News (for a change)

For all of the ideas (or non-ideas) that I have for today's piece, all of that will have to wait for another day, as today brings (gasp) actual news.  Remember when Ilya Kovalchuk signed that ridiculous 17 year deal that went for about $102 million with the New Jersey Devils, only to have the NHL reject that deal?

Well, that went to an arbitrator, who ruled in favor of the NHL, which means Kovalchuk is once again, a free agent.  That also means the saga of Kovalchuk drags on for at least another few days, which shouldn't be surprising, since before he signed that deal in the first place, it took over two weeks from the start of free agency before he even agreed to the deal.

Now, as for where Kovalchuk can go, the Devils are still in play, as they can re-open negotiations with him.  The Los Angeles Kings are in it again, though I believe that they won't be breaking the bank for him unless he takes a fairly significant pay cut from the triple digits that he signed for originally.  They still have to think about guys like Drew Doughty, who among others, is slated to be on the market next year.  The New York Islanders are a possible destination, although I think they should not sign him, as it would be yet another idiotic signing from a New York team.  To give some background, the New York Rangers have signed the likes of Ales Kotalik, Donald Brashear, and now, Derek Boogaard, and have gotten next to nothing in return, though it remains to be seen on Boogaard, though four years is too much for an enforcer.  The Islanders haven't made as many idiotic signings, but the years for which the players they have signed them for is quite horrid.  Remember Alexei Yashin and his 10 year deal back in 2001?  They ate that contract in 2007 and are still paying on that deal.  How about Rick DiPietro and his 15 year deal back in 2006?  Concussions have made him a shell of his former self, and no one knows if he will ever suit up for an NHL team again, let alone the Islanders.  Back to the topic, Kovalchuk can always consider the KHL, the Russian league that has been something of a haven for hockey players looking for that one final big payday.

Whatever Kovalchuk decides, the perception that he is a "me first" guy is going to be there for a while, and anything close to $80 million will be too much for a guy whose sole purpose is to score goals and a guy who plays next to no defense and in the short sample of postseason appearances, doesn't show up too often.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Swords Jersey

It's been a while since I've done one of these jersey talks, so here is one that has been uncovered from the mothballs.  From the Buffalo Sabres days of red, black, and silver comes this third jersey.  This particular jersey played up the Sabres part of the team name as opposed to the primary jerseys that focused more on the buffalo.  As a reference point, the primary logo was a buffalo head that some thought was a goat, but had some intimidation to it.

Back to the jersey, this red version had the swords crossed, much like the Sabres' original logo, but without the buffalo above it.  It also featured the word "Buffalo" on the bottom of the jersey, much like the current Los Angeles Kings' jersey, which has had that style since 1997.  Where an otherwise above average jersey takes its breathtakingly idiotic turn is the neckline.  I don't know whether the Sabres' jersey wanted to do a traditional neckline or one of those sharp v-style necks that became fashionable with teams like the Phoenix Coyotes when they went to their current logo.  Whatever it was, it looked like a disaster on an otherwise pretty decent jersey.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Original Mask

The goalie mask as we know it today comes in many shapes and designs.  It is also advanced when it comes to protecting the goalie from pucks that frequently break the radar gun.  However, it wasn't always that way.  Like its football cousins, hockey wasn't too big on head protection.  In fact, many of the players in the early days only wore stocking caps on some days, since the game was still an outdoor sport.  Ironically, it was an injury by one Jacques Plante (above) that gave birth to the goalie mask.  Rather primitive in design, it protected most of the face, with holes for the eyes and mouth.  If one can go far as to make a movie link, you could say that it also inspired the Jason movie series.  Now, granted, the franchise wore out its welcome after, oh, the fourth installment, but it did what a lot of us would like to do today: thin out the stupid population, though not necessarily in the manner that Jason did it.

Back to the mask, Plante had a pretty good career, backstopping the Canadiens to a few Stanley Cups in his tenure.  However, being the first goalie to wear a mask in a regular season game is the one thing that people will remember him for the most.

More Plante facts, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Plante was one of the first goaltenders to skate behind the net to stop the puck. He also was one of the first to raise his arm on an icing call to let his defencemen know what was happening. He perfected a stand-up, positional style, cutting down the angles; he became one of the first goaltenders to write a how-to book about the position. He was a pioneer of stickhandling the puck; before that time, goaltenders passively stood in the net and simply deflected pucks to defencemen or backchecking forwards.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Revisiting the 2003 NHL Draft

Today has been a rather slow day, and being that I would like to have something to fill this space, well, here I am.

This evening, I have flipped through the old NHL rags that I have kept through the years and happened upon the preview for the 2003-2004 season.  Going through these things is fun for me because it offers a retrospective of who was favored that year, but the most fun I have is leafing through to see who the teams picked in the draft and the prospects they had in the system.

So, to offer some perspective and hindsight on the 2003 offseason, here are a few picks from the 2003 Draft, with the player and the position in which they were drafted along with how they panned out.

1. Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins)

Being a number one draft pick is hard, especially for a goaltender.  More often than not, the best goaltenders are the ones not drafted in the first round.  Fleury isn't an elite goaltender, but he does have a Stanley Cup and a gold medal (as a third-stringer) to his name.  More consistency is all he needs to be elite.

5. Thomas Vanek (Buffalo Sabres)

Of the top five, he has been considered the best pick.  Consistent 30-goal scorer for a team that always seems to struggle for offense.

9. Dion Phaneuf (Calgary Flames)

Early on, it looked like he would be the next big superstar on the blue line.  However, he struggled and essentially played his way out of Calgary.  He has found new life in Toronto, and is now the team's captain.  If I root for the Maple Leafs this year, it will be because of Phaneuf.

12. Hugh Jessiman (New York Rangers)

The highest drafted bust of the year's draft, it marked the Rangers' inability to field a competitive team despite paying the most for players.  They could have had Dustin Brown (13th overall), Zach Parise (17th overall), or Mike Richards (24th overall).

23. Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks)

When the Vancouver Canucks look back at this draft, they can say that they did a good job in picking someone who is part of the team's current plan.  Selke finalist and important part of the USA Olympic team this year, he parlayed that into being the cover boy for NHL2K11.

30. Shawn Belle (St. Louis Blues)

The last pick of the first round, he has also been unable to find a niche in the NHL.  Was traded to the Dallas Stars while still in the Blues' minor league system and has bounced around in the minors.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Chicago Powerfest 2008

In keeping the theme of having an autobiography ready for when I need it, today is another trip into the way back (though not too far back) time machine.  Today is about Chicago Powerfest 2008, otherwise known as the "Metal weekend to end all Metal weekends (so far)."

The weekend began Thursday morning when the group I was travelling with came to pick me up for the road trip to Chicago, or thereabouts.  The trip began about an hour or so late because of what will be known as the slowest person in the world to get ready being herself.  The eight hour trip went through northern Missouri without many problems.  We stopped for the first break at the Iowa border because that energy drink I had before leaving the house decided to come at me with a vengeance.  The trip through Iowa had a few covering the noses because of the numerous cow farms and quite possibly the most "Kum and Go" stores ever (make your own joke here).  Illinois was smooth sailing except for when we got closer to Mokena, where the hotel and the Powerfest were located.  We made it to the hotel about 5:30 PM, and took a brief rest before heading across the street for some White Castle.  If you want to know why we didn't drive down to the venue, it would be because it would be a folly to do so when the venue is literally across the street from the hotel.  After eating, we headed to the venue for Pagan Fest, which was the unofficial kickoff show for Chicago Powerfest.

Since I don't want to be rewriting the review for the weekend's show, here is the review, as written a few days after the CPF weekend:

Pagan Fest was the kickoff show and it all started with local act Earthen. They were okay, but they could afford some more work, which will come with experience, as they are relatively new to the scene. Eluveitie was next and the music from the albums translated well live, with Your Gaulish War being the highlight of the set. Tyr was next and it seemed that their set was too short, despite having played six or seven songs. Even so, it was still a good set. Turisas, face paint and all, took the stage and played some favorites such as Battle Metal and To Holmgard and Beyond. Ensiferum looked ready for war, taking the stage in kilts. They put on a great show, with One More Magic Potion being one of the highlights. Overall, the Pagan Fest bands all got pretty good crowd reactions and I hope it happens again here in the States.

Friday was the official start of Chicago Powerfest. Opening act Arise and Ruin are your run of the mill metalcore band, and other than the vocalist mentioning Iced Earth in between one of the songs, it showed by the lack of crowd reaction. Local act Ion Vein was next and they were breaking in a new vocalist in Allen James. They were actually pretty good, even with James' idiosyncratic quirks onstage. A few assclowns in the crowd obviously didn't take too well to those, with profanities coming from them. One of the members fired back with the double bird. Before I go on, I'd like to say that it's okay to boo, but it's not okay to be firing obscenities at the band while they are onstage. Back to the show, Epicurean was next and they were the definition of average, with the clean vocals coming out a little flat. A Life Once Lost was next, and no one cared. The vocalist didn't help himself by responding to the boos directed towards the band by telling them to "Shut the fuck up!" In this instance, the crowd was just booing. A word to the vocalist for A Life Once Lost, it's just boos. Show some mental toughness and be a professional. Iced Earth wrapped up the day's festivities with some old favorites such as Dark Saga, Burning Times, and Iced Earth. Matt Barlow didn't miss a beat in his return to the band, and they easily got the biggest cheers for the evening.

Saturday saw Chaoswave and Autumn Offering cancel and Sacred Dawn open the evening's festivities. Unfortunately, due to a pain in the ass traffic jam, lunch at Kuma's Corner, and a stop at Metal Haven, I missed their set. I made it in time for Twelfth Gate, and they put on a pretty good set, with some powerful metal accented by the vocals. Suidakra was next, and on the surface, they seem better suited for Pagan Fest. However, their set drew some pretty good crowd reaction and they seemed genuinely happy to be playing at the show. As for their music, it was pretty good, but I will have to pick up some of their CDs though. Darkane is one of the most underrated bands in the melodic death metal scene. One of their first shows in a few years, the band showed no signs of rust. I wish they would have played Layers of Lies, but you can't go wrong with Innocence Gone, Organic Canvas, and Chaos vs. Order. After an hour of trying to get set up, Testament took the stage. If you have never seen Testament live, you are missing out. Playing old favorites such as Into the Pit and Practice What You Preach, they even threw in some newer material such as More Than Meets the Eye from the new album Formation of Damnation. Chuck Billy and crew are definitely back and better than ever.

The trip back home began at 11 AM Sunday and went through Illinois through the St. Louis route, which meant no cow pastures this time.  Fortunately, we didn't go through St. Louis itself, which meant the risk of getting shot was reduced just for that.  We made it back to our respective homes at about 8 PM, putting an end to the weekend and the road trips that went with it.

So, what did I learn?  Well, getting lost trying to find your way back onto the highway in Chicago can be bad, especially if there is the adventurous driver in the midst.  Also, Mokena is a bad place to try and get drunk because there aren't many places to pick up beer and if there is, those who don't know where to get it are out of luck, and the Pearl Room beer sucks.  Oh, and modesty can pay off (See picture), so there.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Living For Metal 2004-2010 (?)

Today marks the official passing of Living For Metal webzine, although the 'zine had been done a while before that.  When it shut its doors for the last time is irrelevant, though, as in its existence, it brought a unique take on the music webzine.  It provided a set up similar to Metal Archives, in that it had a list of bands.  It also had the usual fare when it came to webzines (reviews and interviews with bands).  Staff members were among the most knowledgeable, and given that the heads of the 'zine are computer nerds (and I mean that with the utmost respect), computer knowledge was just as important as metal music knowledge.

So, what does this all have to do with me?  Well, from March of 2007 to March of 2009 (unofficially the last entry I made for the website, which was an interview with Woods of Ypres, which I posted on this blog earlier), Living For Metal was where I called home as a metal journalist.  Yes, the Metal Psalter portion began in April 2008, which would mean that the two overlapped, but it was Living For Metal that I began to really carve out a niche for myself.  Yes, Metal Coven was where it all began, but things really took off at Living For Metal.  And one could say that Living For Metal brings people together, as four of the members, including myself, had a get together at ProgPower VIII in the Fall of 2007.

In closing, Living For Metal had a good run when it existed, and I am better off for having been a part of that run.  However, it would have not been possible if someone hadn't come along and asked if I wanted to contribute to the webzine.  Best of luck to everyone who called Living For Metal their website home and may they move onward to even better things.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Battlelore interview from 2008

With the silent passing of a former webzine that I wrote for in Living For Metal, I would like to first, give thanks to Barry and Jessica Van Beek for giving me an opportunity to contribute to their part of the metal world and to Jodi Michael, for whom this chance would have not been possible otherwise.  An obituary for Living For Metal will be written soon, so stay tuned.  This bit of sadness had me thinking about some of the interviews that have been posted on the website, and since I managed to save a few interviews, I will be posting some of them here as they were on LFM.  Today's interview is with Battlelore keyboardist Maria and it was originally posted in November of 2008.

Peter Santellan: It was only last year when Battlelore came out with Evernight, an album that is seen as a breakout of sorts for the band.  In relation to the new album The Last Alliance, were the expectations higher for the album than on any of the previous albums?

Maria: I don't know what others expected of us, we don't really care about stuff like that. I think that our own expectations were quite high since we all were really much into making music and inspired and happy about writing new songs - and I have to say that the end result has fulfilled and exceeded our expectations! The Last Alliance is, in my opinion, the best of Battlelore so far, so I couldn't have expected anything more. I suppose others may have expected something, but our song writing always comes from the heart, we don't really think about anything but the music.  I guess that's stupid, but that's how we are, hehehe.

PS: The Last Alliance features production work from Dan Swanö, who is one of the more well-known producers in metal music.  How did the band get in contact with him and what did he bring to the band's sound?

Maria: Actually, one of Tomi's (Mykkänen, vocalist) friends told him that Dan was starting to work with his Unisound studio again, mixing and mastering albums, and told
Tomi that he should contact Dan. Well, that's what he did - and Dan Swanö turned out to be a great fellow, totally into this project and agreed to take this task. He did mention that mixing us was like mixing 156 death metal bands at the same time.

He created the perfect sound for The Last Alliance - he put the vocals and orchestrations further front and the guitars a bit back, without losing the guitar groove. Also, he managed to create the kind of sound that was perfect for the atmosphere of the album and of the whole Battlelore sound.  So he did a great job and I'm sure we'd be more than happy to work with him again!

PS: Who did the cover art for the album and what concept, if any, does it convey?

Maria: Ingo Römling, a German artist, did the cover art for The Last Alliance. He created the sort of "tribal" tree for the digipack cover and painted the warrior for the booklet.
With the glowing ring and evil look, it is Sauron - very suitable, considering even
the name of the album, which refers to the great war.

PS: Given that the band has shot a video for the previous two efforts, Third Age of the Sun and Evernight, is there a possibility of a video for one of the songs off of The Last Alliance?

Maria: We have actually already shot a video for the song Third Immortal. The video should be ready in about two weeks or so, so you won't have to wait much longer!

PS: Seemingly, the vocals, male and female, are getting better at working together.  How much of that can be attributed to having a set lineup and are there any other factors?

Maria: I guess you have a point there - the fact that Tomi and Kaisa have been working together for the last three albums has given them both the opportunity to learn from each other and learn to work together a bit more. I also think that with time, Tomi has found himself and his place, using the clean vocals as well as the great growling. He has actually proven to be quite a genius when it comes to making clean vocal lines!

PS: In support of Evernight, Battlelore performed at the Metal Female Voices Festival last year.  For those who may not know, what is the MFVF and where is it normally held?

Maria: The Metal Female Voices Festival is a Belgian festival that celebrates metal bands with female singers. I don't know if it's always been at the Oktoberhalle in Wieze, Belgium, but that's where it's been for the past year and will be in 2008 as well. It's a great festival for metal fans, featuring loads and loads of bands with their female singers and a great party!

PS: Are there any plans for future shows in support of The Last Alliance?

Maria: We have been touring Finland starting from August and towards October, and in November we'll go on a European tour under the banner "The Finnish Fire Tour" with our fellow Finns Korpiklaani, Falchion and Kivimetsän Druidi. It'll feature 24 shows in 10 different countries in Europe, so we're really looking forward to it!  It'll be a blast touring with these great fellows, partying and playing music all night long!

PS: Any words of wisdom that you would like to impart on anyone reading this?

Maria: As I feel I'm the perfect person to say something wise (sarcasm, party of one), I'd just like to say listen to the album, come and see our shows and have a few beers with us! There's nothing better than the distinctive taste of hangover in your mouth and head (and neck) in the morning, after a great music performance and party the night before! Just enjoy life and the music it brings you! (Works the other way around, also.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Red Wings-Avalanche Rivalry

In the mid-90's, a nasty rivalry was born in the National Hockey League.  The setting was Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals and the Colorado Avalanche were up 3-2 in the series against the Detroit Red Wings.  The hit that sparked a rivalry for the next few years happened in this game when the Avalanche's Claude Lemieux hit the Red Wings' Kris Draper from behind.   The hit sent Draper face first into the dasher boards where the players' benches were and left him with a litany of injuries in the face, as well as a concussion.  After the game, Draper's teammate at the time Dino Ciccarelli was quoted as saying, "I can't believe that I shook that son of a bitch's hand," in reference to the tradition of shaking hands after a series in which the Red Wings shook hands with Avalanche players, including Lemieux.  Lemieux was suspended for the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Florida Panthers, a series that Colorado swept to gain their first of two Stanley Cups.

In 1997, in the first meeting between the two teams since the Lemieux hit, there were numerous brawls in the game, which is most memorable for the teams' respective goaltenders Patrick Roy and Mike Vernon duking it out at center ice.  This was just the beginning, as in subsequent meetings, the teams would continue to let the bad blood spill, which included another brawl of the goaltenders, only that it was Roy vs. Chris Osgood.

Looking back on this rivalry, which can still happen at any time, this wasn't the searing hate filled rivalry that the Battle of Alberta (Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames) was, nor was it near the levels of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, but the Avalanche and Red Wings rivalry set a new standard for being downright bloody.  And like the rivalries before it, there was a Stanley Cup berth on the line more often than not.

A special video that defines this rivalry is included for today, and features highlights of the infamous game in March of 1997:

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Rocky Mountain Mask

Did you know that Patrick Roy wasn't the first goaltender when the Colorado Avalanche came into existence when they moved from Quebec in 1995?  What's that?  You already knew that?  Okay, then I bet you don't know who was the team's first goaltender.  You don't know?  The answer to that is the masked gentleman you see in the picture above: Jocelyn Thibault.

The first round draft pick of the Quebec Nordiques in 1993, he had a fairly solid tenure in Quebec when the team moved to Colorado after the 1995 season.  He only played a handful of games for the Avalanche in the team's first season before getting traded to Montreal as part of the Patrick Roy deal.  Everyone knows what happened to the Avs that year, but Thibault carved out a decent, if not spectacular career for himself.  He spent time in Montreal, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo in addition to the Nordiques/Avalanche franchise.  He will forever be linked to the Patrick Roy trade, which seems unfair at times, given that there wasn't going to be many that could replace what Roy brought to Montreal.

Today's mask is from the Colorado Avalanche part of Thibault's career, and even though he only saw action for a couple of months with the team, the mask brought out the essence of the Rocky Mountains that the team calls home.  Unfortunately, this was the best picture I could find, so if anyone has a better picture, tell me about it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lady Liberty

Today's mask is about the epitome of America...and the New York Rangers.  Looking at the mask in the picture, there is no better depiction of the red, white, and blue than the Mike Richter Lady Liberty mask.

This mask first gained recognition during the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, when Richter's Rangers won the Stanley Cup, thus ending a 54 year drought for the Rangers.  Richter would later go on to backstop the United States hockey team to gold in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and silver in the 2002 Olympic games.  Injuries later in his career would ultimately derail his career, but his play when the games mattered most combined with the Lady Liberty mask are synonymous with both the Rangers and United States hockey.  How much so for the Rangers?  It was the inspiration for the Rangers' third jerseys in the late 90's to early 2000's.