Monday, April 30, 2012

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!

Today's movie review is a musical that has absolutely nothing to do with gore or metal music.  As a matter of fact, there will be many ABBA references throughout the review, so if your idea of fun isn't the Swedish foursome, then look away.

Okay, show of hands, who here likes ABBA?  Don't pretend that you don't, and if you do in fact not like ABBA, then turn in your music fan card now.  The movie in question is Mamma Mia!, and it is based off of the Broadway play of the same name.  As you can guess from the movie title, it is heavy on ABBA references, even going as far as incorporating songs from the band into the movie.  As for the premise of the movie, a young woman (Amanda Seyfried) is about to get married, but does not know who her father is, so after leafing through her mother's (Meryl Streep) diary, she sends out invites to three men who could be her father (Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, and Colin Firth).  This is unbeknownst to her mother, who as you can imagine, is less than pleased to see all three men that were once in her life.  Of course, the fun ensues and you can imagine how this romantic comedy goes.

The plot itself is cliched on some level, but it serves more as a complimentary piece to the ABBA theme.  The songs picked for the movie obviously had to fit into the story, and many of them work, though you would have to be a big ABBA fan to recognize a few of them.  The people cast into the movie had to be able to sing, and for the most part, it succeeds on that level, though I would have liked to have seen some better casting choices (it's nitpicking here).  The DVD has a sing-along option, which puts up the words to the songs on the screen, so if you want to sing along, it's there for you.  Overall, it's not a masterpiece, but it's main purpose is to provide a fun movie that you can participate in, and that is where Mamma Mia! succeeds on every level.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Northwest Blues

With Vancouver out of the playoffs and the Portland Timbers falling on their face today after a big win last week, not to mention the Mariners getting a perfect game pitched against them, today is about something that I almost never talk about: American football.  As you know, the NFL Draft was this weekend, and every team had a chance to pick players that could help out.  So, what did the Seattle Seahawks do?

I'm not an expert on every player picked (otherwise, I'd be on TV talking about it or even scribbling for a rag like Pro Football Weekly), so assessing all the players is out.  However, just based on the top picks they made, it is clear Seattle wanted to improve their linebacker group, a sore spot on the defense last year.  One pick I thought was wise happened in the third round, picking Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson.  Height and arm strength are the issues with him, but he has a chance to learn the system as he develops behind Matt Flynn and could step in as a backup if Travaris Jackson gets moved this year.  What Wilson can bring is the ability to pick up the system quickly, as he did that as a transfer from North Carolina St. to Wisconsin and led the Badgers to a Rose Bowl berth.  The Draft in any sports is an inexact science, and we'll find out just how wise (or foolish) the Seahawks look when September rolls around.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Conference Semis

Tonight begins round two, and there isn't much breathing room from the end of round one.  So, this will be a quick preview and predictions.



The Rangers survived a very game Ottawa team.  Marian Gaborik must show up for this series if the Rangers wish to avoid another possible upset.  Washington feels good after beating the defending champions in Boston. Upset alert once again, but...

Prediction: Rangers in 7


The Flyers have a lot of offense and sandpaper.  Question is will Ilya Bryzgalov shot the door when it counts the most?  The Devils were given a run for their money by the Panthers, and with Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise on board, the Devils have a chance.

Prediction: Flyers in 6



St. Louis made short work of San Jose.  However, the health of Jaroslav Halak could derail the Blues chances.  Los Angeles seems to be getting hot at the right time, and with the Kings having the Blues' number in the regular season, this is another potential upset.

Prediction: Kings in 7


Another matchup where the teams match up evenly.  The difference?  The Predators have some offense, and unless Radim Vrbata is healthy enough to produce, the Coyotes' euphoria of making it past the first round in their entire existence (as the Jets and Coyotes) could be short lived.

Prediction: Predators in 5

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rye on Rye Crime

It's been a while since the last beer review, so today, in an effort to keep this blog afloat until I get caught up on the music reviews (and there's a lot, since the past month or so has seen some releases I'm forward to), it's drinking time.  This beer you see before you is the Boulevard Rye on Rye, and despite what the title says, it's not really a crime (just roll with it, as bad puns are the norm here).  With an ABV of 11% (according to the bartender, the Rye on Rye is actually really good, though it does lose a little of its punch the warmer it gets.  Overall however, it is worth the try and while it isn't the best Boulevard has made (I still take the Single and Double Wides), the Rye on Rye is absolutely a must if you consider yourself a beer snob.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dubious Company

What do Dale Hunter, Marty McSorley, Todd Bertuzzi, Chris Simon, and Raffi Torres all have in common?  As of today, all will have missed 20-plus games due to suspension, and for Torres, this means he's not seeing anymore playoff action this year.  You know the story if you read the previous post (or have been following any other news site, as it is a big deal), so the story won't be rehashed.  What will be said is that Torres is going to sit out 25 games, which began with game 4 against Chicago.  Should Phoenix finish their playoffs before hitting 25 games, which would have to go to game 7 every time, Torres could be back the following season.  Seeing as that isn't likely, he will have to sit out a few regular season games and won't be allowed to participate in any pre-season games.

Torres' hit on Marian Hossa wasn't the cheap shot Dale Hunter's hit on Pierre Turgeon was in the 1993 playoffs, and there likely won't be any criminal charges filed (see: McSorley's stick swinging incident on Donald Brashear in 2000 and Bertuzzi's head ramming of Steve Moore in 2004), but Torres clearly was targeting the head with the hit, and given the NHL's efforts to crack down on this kind of thing and the awareness of concussions in sports, 25 games sounds about right for Torres, and that's even before figuring his repeat offender status.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

See Ya, Raffi!

Take a good look at this picture because it will likely be the last time you see this image for a while.  That's Raffi Torres of the Phoenix Coyotes, and after the hit on Marian Hossa on Monday, he will be sitting in the press box for a minimum of the rest of the series.  The official word is that it is an indefinite suspension, but one gets the feeling that the book will be thrown at him for longer than that, particularly if Phoenix advances in the playoffs.  If you haven't seen the hit, here's the hit in question (For those with sensitive eyes, watch with caution):

As you can see, Torres leaves his feet to deliver a shoulder shot to Hossa's jaw and Hossa ends up leaving on a stretcher.  Even though this was close to the middle of the ice, Torres was not called for anything.

This is not the first time Torres has been in the NHL disciplinarian dog house, as he was suspended twice last year for dangerous hits.  How Brendan Shanahan will handle this case is anyone's guess, but I absolutely think he needs to set an example with Torres here, repeat offender notwithstanding.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


For those who read this blog, if you're still here, it has been almost a week since my last piece.  Normally, with hockey playoffs in full swing, one would expect some thoughts.  However, Metal Psalter has occupied a greater part of my time lately, a lot of it of my own choosing.  After all, music is just as much a part of my life as hockey.  So, if you see few posts for some time, then head over to Metal Psalter.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Illustrated Man

Playoff hockey began last night, and not in the manner in which I had hoped.  It's a long journey, and panic is only an option during an elimination game.  Today, however, is a book review and today's book was discovered in a Goodwill Store in Portland, OR.  Imagine my surprise when The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury came across my face for just a dollar.  That's right, a classic for just a measly dollar.  Having enjoyed Bradbury's other classic Fahrenheit 451, and the price in which I would have to pay for another book, I had nothing to lose.  You know where this is going, so read on...

The Illustrated Man is eighteen short stories by Bradbury that are tied together by the fact that they are being told on the back of a man who is tattooed all around.  The catch here is that the man's tattoos tend to come alive at night, and generally frighten those who see them.  Many of the short stories tell about the dangers of the future and reliance on technology.  Some favorites from the book include "The Long Rain," which is about travelers trying to find a Sun Dome on Venus, "The Exiles," which is similar to Fahrenheit 451, only that the spirits of the authors get exiled to Mars and plot their revenge, and "The Other Foot," a story about what happens when racism gets out of control.  Many of the stories are distinctly Bradbury, and though there isn't much time spent on the Illustrated Man or the unnamed traveler (later versions will likely have something tacked on), the book is worth a few any price.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Western Conference Playoffs

Despite what it looks like, there is no alcohol in the pelican statue's mouth.  However, today is a look at the Western Conference playoffs that will be more fun than sticking your head in a pelican's mouth.


As Jonathan Quick goes, so will go the Kings, especially since the status of Jeff Carter is up in the air.  Their offense has played well below expectations, and it took them 81 games to make the playoffs.  Vancouver has a lot to prove after coming within a win of the Stanley Cup, and every hope of that happening is on Roberto Luongo.  With Corey Schneider in the background, the Canucks will likely have a quick hook should Luongo falter.  Vancouver should advance, given their offensive strength and above average defense.

Prediction: Vancouver in 6


St. Louis had been faltering down the stretch, but given the tandem of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak in goal, St. Louis should figure to advance.  They don't have one superstar scorer, but they play a team game that begins with captain David Backes and any offense is usually sparked by Alex Pietrangelo.  San Jose has played below expectations, partly because of injury, and like the Kings, they waited until the end to clinch.  Even with the seeding, expectations are still high for San Jose and with the talent assembled, anything less than a Stanley Cup Finals appearance will be considered a failure.

Prediction: St. Louis in 6


In their entire existence as the Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise, the team had never won a division title until this year.  Will this be the year they finally win a playoff series?  Mike Smith has experienced a career revival thanks to the Dave Tippett system that is defensive-oriented.  However, it will be the likes of Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata that will ultimately decide the team's fate going forward.  Chicago has had an up and down year, and much of their playoff successes and failures this year rest on Corey Crawford.  If the Corey Crawford of last year doesn't show up, Chicago is in trouble, even if Jonathan Toews returns for the series.

Prediction: Phoenix in 7


The one playoff series in the Conference that could produce a Stanley Cup finalist either way, both teams want it badly.  For Nashville, they're all in, and given the uncertainty of the futures of Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, this is a Stanley Cup or bust proposition.  Nashville has always been a pain in the ass to face, and now, they just might be even more of a pain in the ass, with the Kostitsyn brothers providing some offense and Paul Gaustad (Winterhawk alumni) adding to an already strong defensive front line.  There is a reason Detroit is always being talked about in the Stanley Cup talks, and it begins with Nicklas Lidstrom.  Detroit's worries however, are on the blue line, and outside of Lidstrom, there hasn't been a defenseman who strikes fear in any opposition's hearts.  It's practically now or never for Jimmy Howard, as he has never seen the Conference Finals in his time as a starter for the Red Wings.

Prediction: Nashville in 7

Monday, April 9, 2012

Eastern Conference Playoffs

Playoffs begin Wednesday, and today will mark a two part preview.  Today is all about the Eastern Conference playoffs, and the first round.


The Rangers' signing of Brad Richards paid off, as they not only earned the first seed, but also exceeded expectations in a brutal Atlantic Division.  Their defense still carries the day, and certainly, Henrik Lundqvist is a major reason for the Rangers' success.  However, the Senators are not intimidated, as they went 4-1-0 against the Rangers in the regular season.  For Ottawa to win, their offense must carry the day, and either Craig Anderson or Ben Bishop will have to be competent.  Want an upset?  I'll give you one right here.

Prediction: Ottawa in 7


Boston is the defending champions, and they will not give it up without a fight.  That said, their defense must carry the team just like last year and Tim Thomas will have to be Tim Thomas from last year.  Washington is on a hot streak, but their main problem right now is finding a healthy goaltender.  When you have to rely on Braden Holtby to be your number one, your team has problems.

Prediction: Boston in 5


Florida won the Souteast Conference by attrition.  However, they were also on a bad streak, and it is unknown how they will react to their first playoffs in over a decade.  Meanwhile, New Jersey is on a winning streak, and Ilya Kovalchuk has been playing complete hockey since arriving in New Jersey a couple of years ago.  Don't discount the experience of some of the Panthers' players, as Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, and Kris Versteeg all have Stanley Cup rings and Ed Jovanovski participated in a Stanley Cup Final.

Prediction: New Jersey in 5


This will be war.  Nothing I can say about this series will even come close to describing how this will all go down.  The deciding factor will be goaltending, as in will Ilya Bryzgalov show up for the playoffs.  This series could go either way...and never mind a winner in the series, there will be only survivors.

Prediction: Pittsburgh in 7 (hard fought games)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Next Stop: Playoffs

With all of the playoff spots spoken for, the only things left to sort out is seeding...and a couple of division winners.  The Southeast and Pacific Divisions are still up for grabs (as of this writing) and the Presidents' Trophy winner is still needing an occupant.  Come Monday, all will be answered, and on Wednesday, the games will begin, and the hair-ripping, cursing, and object throwing at TVs will be the norm.  These will be an exciting two months, one that hopefully ends better than last year.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Florida Breaks a Plate

The headline you see is a reference to the Good Times character Florida (yes, I will provide a clip...solely because it gets used for every offensive joke I make).  However, today is not about the character, but rather the reaction to the Florida Panthers finally making the playoffs after a decade plus drought.  Despite losing to Washington last night, the Panthers will see playoff hockey thanks to Philadelphia beating the Buffalo Sabres.  Washington gets in, too, and now, the only question remains is who will be Southeast Division champion.  Both teams would make remarkable stories, as Washington will have won the division after a circus of a season and Florida winning the division will cap off a year that will have gone from last in the Eastern Conference to division champions.  Oh, and Stephen Weiss will be seeing playoff hockey, as he has been a Panther lifer since being drafted in 2001, which is remarkable, since Nathan Horton (2003) never saw playoff hockey until last a Boston Bruin, and Jay Bouwmeester (2002) still has yet to play in a playoff game.  Weiss stuck with the Panthers, even as the team stunk it up annually, and now, it will finally pay off this year.

Because I made reference to it earlier:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


The man you see in the picture above is Pat LaFontaine, a Hall of Fame hockey player who played with the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, and New York Rangers.  If Islanders owner Charles Wang had his way, LaFontaine would not be anywhere in the Islanders history.  The full story can be found in the Wall Street Journal, and a blog called the Backhand Shelf has taken Wang and the Islanders to task over this issue.  This is not the first time Wang and the Islanders have been in the news over people disagreeing with them.  If you remember the Chris Botta story from last season, the Islanders were taken to task over revoking Botta's media credentials over his criticism of the team.  As for LaFontaine's exclusion from all Islanders' highlights from 40 years in the league, it is petty and childish, and there is no way any sane Islanders fan would forget LaFontaine's contributions to the Islanders, particularly the 4 OT game in the 1987 playoffs against the Capitals.  Whether or not LaFontaine ever reconciles with the Islanders as long as Wang is owner is debatable, as I am sure LaFontaine will want nothing to do with the team as long as Wang is there.  It's not quite on the level of Bobby Hull vs. Bill Wirtz or Dave Keon vs. Harold Ballard, but it could be just as ugly, and there is no way Wang wins this war.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Normally, I do not mention American football on this blog, but when I do, it is often related to the team that represents the Pacific Northwest, being the Seattle Seahawks.  As you can see from the picture above, the Seahawks will be looking a little different, and not coincidentally, it happens when Nike becomes the official supplier to the NFL.  So, what's different for the Seahawks, besides what you see?  Well, the neon green becomes a little more evident, although I would love for a full neon green jersey.  Yes, I admit that I hated the color when they first wore them in 2009, but when you spend enough time in the region, you begin to understand, just like the Vancouver Canucks' Flying V jerseys of the early 80's and the Seattle Mariners adding teal jerseys to their apparel.  Say what you will, but until you spend significant time in the Pacific Northwest, the looks won't be easily understood.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Baseball Bad Blood

With hockey season winding down and baseball season nearing its beginning, today is a slight shift towards that direction.  Fear not, for the hockey playoffs are around the corner, so there will be plenty of time to cover everything there.  Today's story comes from the conclusion of Spring Training, where Cleveland Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez plunked Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  That's only the beginning of the story, as the video shows (well, the best one, since the game was not televised):

As you can see, the hit by pitch caused a bench clearing.  Was the plunking intentional?  Rockies manager Jim Tracy seems to think so:

"Five days before opening day, you're going to take a pot shot like that? It's the worst I've ever seen. I've lost all respect for him, and that's a very difficult thing for me to say with all the players I've had to manage over the years," Tracy said. "I've lost all respect for him, every bit."
As for Jimenez, this year is clearly a make or break year, as he went from Cy Young candidate in 2010 to just plain stinking up the joint to the point of being traded to Cleveland prior to the trade deadline last year.  Obviously, he won't be winning any more friends in Denver, and there will be immense pressure for him to be the ace that he was and not the hot head that essentially pitched his way out of Denver.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Penner Cakes

Today is April Fools' Day, and since I could not think of something along the lines of what I did last year, I will leave this picture of pancakes here.  Oh, and if you can come up with the most creative way of making pancakes, I will dub it "The Dustin Penner Cakes," in honor of the hockey player that threw his back out while enjoying them.