Monday, July 30, 2007

CasonBlog at two years

David Lee had a post the other day announcing the second anniversary of Red and Black. Made me go back and take a look at when I started this mess. I launched CasonBlog on July 15, 2005 with a post in opposition to the sweeping sentiment among Nor-Easter's who wanted to close down southern NHL clubs-to contract the league down to a base of more "worthy" markets.

Even back then I was fussing at the league marketing gurus and hoping the "new NHL" would let clubs other than the Devils have a shot at winning it all. What a homer I was (am). Here's a snip of that first post:

Wings fans will always be there. Hurricane fans are going to have to be won
and won back. I think clubs like the Hurricanes will use this CBA and the
forecasts of impending doom to rise from the ashes with a new and better product
and more focused marketing effort.

Back then David and Her Majesty were about the only Caniac bloggers in the known world. Now Carolina on Ice, Paperwhites in Season, Canes Country, Penalty Killer, Life and Times of a Caniac and this newbie, Beth. And Hockey, have joined the fray. The more the merrier. Just have a take more than once every two weeks, craft your own style and don't disappear within the first two months.

I was too much the novice in July, 2005 to think C/B would be anything other than an experiment in this form of media-something I would test-fly for use in my job. Had I been more prescient, I would have crafted a slicker nom de guerre for this blog.

This blog attracts around 100 unique visitors per day. Many more when the Canes are about to win the Stanley Cup. Less when I go to Joplin, Missouri. Not Emperor Paul kinda daily numbers, but a steady flow of new and old readers (nearly 50,000 in total). I greatly appreciate everybody who takes the time to visit.

Filling the summer hockey void

Louis Jordan Rules!
Amy won the Next Food Network Star competition, so I once again find myself deeply immersed in the hockey deprivation void. Howevuh, last night I stumbled on some pretty cool TV. I found an obscure cable channel called Ovation TV, and a series called Popular Song.

This possibly British-produced series plays like a Ken Burns documentary and goes into minute detail about the evolution of pop music. The episode I tuned into dealt with Abba. I just thought they were an evil (obligatory prop to Master Jes) Swedish disco-synth monstrosity. Never gave the quartet any love...until last night. Folks who know music-who do music, seem to love Abba. Who'dah thought?

Then, I watched the Rock n' Roll episode. Lots of stuff I never knew about the origins of blues, jazz and country music, and how Elvis fused the two. Muddy Waters doing Hoochie Coochie Man was slick. Louis Jordan doing Caldonia was even better. Jordan is credited as the originator of the R&B sound. His stuff is slick, toe-tapping and his stage presence was awesome. Watch a few minutes of Louis Jordan and you will see immediately where Mick Jagger and James Brown got their grooves.

I had to FF thru Hank Williams and Jimmie Rogers. They just looked and sounded silly in all that B-serial cowboy attire. Ooooh, my dog got drunk, and my truck left me.... My wife broke down and the boss wants me home for supper...

Friday, July 27, 2007

CasonBlog R&D Hell

Working on a new template. Could be ugly for awhile.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

John McGourty on

Nice glow piece on the 'Canes resurgent prospect base by writer John McGourty.

Think any of these youngsters has a shot at a call-up? Name some names there Caniacs.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Frat House Cred for the Staals

Picked this one up from Kukla's Korner.

Read the story from the N&O and tell me it doesn't instantly conjure up images of Tom Hanks and Adrian Zmed on a nerd rampage. According to the police report, Tawny Kitaen was not spotted in the vicinity of the Lutsen Resort and Sea Villas.

Road Weary and Songs in the Key of Life

The Official Pace Car for the Quittin' Time Rush for Smokes and Bud Lite in Joplin, Missouri

I've slept in my own bed only six nights in the month of July. Last week, it was a roadie to Joplin, Misery for volleyball camp with C/B kid #1.

You know those worn old flannel shirts that Larry the Cable Guy wears? I'm talking about the ones with the sleeves cut off and the matted and frayed threads around the arm holes. You can buy those off the rack in Joplin...and in parts of Oklahoma. I also think Joplin is the rusted-out, window busted, running on the compact spare, 1980's Oldsmobile capital of the world. And to top it all off, I think I got malaria while I was there.

Da Chief tagged me for the favorite songs-a-thon. Hey Chief, can you still get two-for-one T-Bones at a certain downtown hotel in the land of dust and Saudi-infested British pubs?

My list is an ever-changing one. Today, it would look like this:

1. Tie-Deacon Blues/Aja-Steely Dan: Had an 8-track cassette of Aja when I was in high school. I still get the tingle up the spine when I hear the openings of both songs.

Tasty Lyrics:
I play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whiskey all night long
And die behind the wheel

2. Tie-What's Going On?/Mercy, Mercy Me-Marvin Gaye: rich with layers of Marvin vocals, vibes, James Jamerson bass lines, and cool horns.

Tasty Lyrics:
Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what's going on

3. Everybody Wants to Rule the World-Tears for Fears: The two brothers dancing in front of the abandoned gas station in the desert. Still my favorite MTV video.

Tasty Lyrics:
Say that you'll never, never, never, never need it
One headline, why believe it?

4. Tomorrow Never Knows-The Beatles: Most Beatles stuff has been played to death for decades. This one is too out there for mainstream radio. And a Pink Floyd-caliber great tune when you are loaded and on the stereo headphones.

Tasty Lyrics:
Or play the game
existence to the end
of the beginning
of the beginning...

5. A Long December-Counting Crows: Adam Duritz at the peak of self-flagellation, but still managing to hold on to a smattering of hope. This is song I love listening to during the best of times and the worst of times.

Tasty Lyrics:
And its been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass

Bonus Track: Mean to Me-Crowded House: The boys from Te Awamutu got me thru a Persian Gulf Deployment in the late 80's. I owe them props.

Tasty Lyrics:
So I talked to you for an hour
In the bar of a small town hotel
You asked me what I was thinking
I was thinking of a padded cell

I'm probably late on the tagging front, but here goes. I tag:

Joe Ovies of 850 The Buzz (Like Her Majesty, just trying to get mainstreamers to play ball)

Kevin of BfloBlog: A thoughtful sage from hockey's Mordor

Mer of Paperwhites in Season-A woman of impeccable musical taste. I can't wait to read her list.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cullen is back!

My favorite '06 Stanley Cup Championship photo
(still can believe Mark Recchi is as good as he is with that physique)

Matt Cullen for Andrew Hutchinson and head-case Joe Barnes. I like it. The Canes now have four solid centermen. Cullen and Alexander Hamilton in the house should also mean a significant boost for the pathetic Canes PP. I think JR still needs to infuse some physicality and puck-carrying moxy to that blueline. Commie and Frankie are going to be solid. After those two, I gots me some trepidations. Heddy and Wes now qualify for AARP membership. Gleason is a loose cannon. Wallin is steady but unspectacular. That questionable blueline is the only thing that keeps me from feeling pretty good about this roster.

Glad this trade hit the wires. Here's what I was gonna write about today...

Remember that old Sam Kinison bit where he talks about getting married and having his wife immediately seize his manhood? Kinison says she keeps it in her purse or the freezer and only brings it out when she needs it. In the bit, he pretends to get a call from one of his buddies with an invite to join the boys for some boozing and male bonding. He holds his hand over the receiver and asks his wife if he can have his manhood back for the night. She says no f***ing way. So he gets back on the line and tells his buddy that he has the green light to shoot him if he passes by and sees him in the yard, because he's lost the will to live as a eunuch.

I must be heading down that road, because with hockey on hiatus, I'm venturing dangerously into metrosexualville. Winery tours, historic homes, and now I'm now totally into this Food Network show, "The Next Food Network Star." I go away to Orlando and the gay guy, who I thought was gonna walk away with the whole thing, gets whacked. My guy, the ex-Marine, "Jag," finds a way to stay in the game despite repeated implosions, but then has to cop to lying on his application for the show. Bummer, cause anybody who can make a deep-fried meatloaf work for 75 soldiers deserves to win the whole thing. So Jag is now gone, and we're left with a hottie mom and a nasty girl from Texas with a big ole' pair of...eyes. I'm suddenly not missing Jag so much. So don't kill me yet boys. I'm not yet to the state Sam Kinison described. Gotta check the freezer when I get home.

Thank you JR and welcome back Matt Cullen. Neither you or AWard got much love in the land of our beloved hockey maven. It's a good day to be a Caniac.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Road Warrior Chronicles Vol II

Sideways Tour Stop #1 of 1 of the CB California Adventure

Got sidetracked at a professional conference last week in Orlando. Great conference. More than 1,200 college admissions-types in attendance. Big schools, small schools, community colleges and even several Canadian universities represented. Most sessions very good. One, not so good. Here is just one line from the last session I attended: "Creativity is an interesting concept." Thought the session was going to be about Web/database marketing, but it turned into more of a Kumbaya session on organizational change.

Thought I might come back to an announcement about Matt Cullen's return to Raleigh. Glad I held my fire. Who wrote that blog post...something about the search for Cullen? Oh yeah, it was me. Brilliant!!!

Anyhow. I promised the final chapter in the Griswold's adventure in California. I hope not to drone as much in this wrap-up. So, we left off in San Luis Obispo...

Day Four
Depart San Luis Obispo, after a fine hotel continental breakfast of runny waffles and watered-down high fructose corn juice. Jump on the 101 around 11:00. Jump off the 101 around 11:30 for a winery detour. Stumbled on to the Foxen Canyon Trail. Visited Cottonwood Canyon, Foxen, Zaca Mesa, and Firestone. Purposely missed the Fess Parker winery. I bought a bottle of his stuff in the grocery store awhile back and was vinegar. Add to that the fact that with the death of TV's Dan'l Boone around a decade ago, there wasn't even much star power left. Found out later they filmed some scenes in Sideways there. Firestone was my favorite...probably because of that fine ale I had a few nights earlier. I think they earned some subliminal beer-cred that transferred over to the wine.

By the way, the Firestone descendant who is the winery CEO is a US Marine who has done time in one of our combat zones. Firestone makes Jarhead Red wine. If you see a bottle, pick one up. I goes great with pizza, and the net proceeds go to help the kids of fallen Marines with college scholarships.

Returned to Solvang for more pizza, ice cream and wine tasting. Drove back to the 101 via Buellton, the site of the Hitching Post Restaurant in Sideways (pictured grainily above). The restaurant was closed for July 4th. Must not need the business. Kind of like things were around here after they filmed Revenge of the Nerds on this campus. Long term, might have been a mixed blessing for the UA.

Arrive Pasadena, 8 pm. Drink around half the wine we bought on the trip.

Day Five
Depart Pasadena enroute Simi Valley and the Reagan Presidential Library. Politics aside please. I voted for John Anderson in 1980. This is wonderful place and packed with history from the days of my time in the Navy. It sits up on a hill with views of 40-60 miles in nearly every direction. I never knew 80's memorabilia would look so old. You know how old a 1981 Chevy Suburban looks? They have one from the presidential motorcade on display. They also have an Air Force One 707 to walk thru. That was not a luxurious ride, my friends. John Travolta's 707 is probably far more posh. Even Nancy had a roll-out bunk.

Day Six
Depart 10 am for Malibu Lagoon State Beach. Pounding surf, surfers and kelp...more kelp than I've ever seen before. Every time one of the kids would duck under a wave they'd emerge covered in kelp. Still, you couldn't get them out of that cold water for four straight hours. No Malibu cuties either. I think it must have been Fat Armenian Patriarch day or Fat Octogenarian Hippie Surfer Guy with No Day Job...Day.

Day Seven
Depart 2 pm for historic Gamble House in Pasadena. This is the proto-typical California bungalow house-but on steroids. It was built by descendants of the Gamble side of the Proctor and Gamble dynasty. I grew up in a house built on land my dad bought from a Proctor descendant. The Proctor estate at the top of the hill was way spooky.
The Gamble House was the house the professor lived in in the Movie Back to the Future. His lab/garage is the garage on the property and is featured in the movie more than the house. Anyway, it's got lots of teak, servant's quarters, huge sleeping porches and everything in the house was designed by the architects-from furniture to closet doors to chang-a-leers.

Day Eight
Dash for Tucson via the In and Out Burger in Palm Springs.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Another Tucson Sunset

It's monsoon season in the Sonoran Desert, so we get some pretty cool sunsets between storms. This one from last night.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Road Warrior Chronicles Vol I

Greetings from Wind Generator Hell!

(West of Palm Springs, CA)

Hey all-While we await the puff of white smoke that will signal this year's brilliant JR deal (with the Islanders, maybe?), I offer this narrative of my family's recent Griswoldesque California adventure.

Day One:
Depart Tucson, 4 pm carne asada burritos for all, a full bag of gas and kids still on speaking terms-a good omen.

Arrive Pasadena, 12 am after scaring the bejesus out of the missus on the leg between Palm Springs and Pasadena. Seems that round about 10 pm, all the death-wish post adolescent males in SOCAL take to the freeways to push their tricked-out Honda Civics to the edge of the performance envelope. I'm doing 80 in the 75 zone...dozens of four-banger Dodge Neon guys doing 110 blast by me on the left and the right all the way from Indio to Altadena.

Day Two:
Depart Pasadena noon, headed for Santa Barbara. SB is called the California Rivera. Very pretty place right on the ocean. Crowded as Hell. Three things I don't do - crowds, caves and ocean-going vessels. Fought our way out on the wharf for lunch. Paid a hideously high price for a cold meal with bad service at Moby Dick. Should have caught the insinuation in the name. Got dicked on food, water, napkins, and overall service. Jose tried to hit us with a 20% gratuity. Mrs. CB fixed that one right quick. Should have guessed Moby Dick was a tourist trap, when the Maitre D' offered to sell me a Rolex while we waited for a table.

Depart Santa Barbara, 2pm, headed for Solvang. Decide to take the 154 as a shortcut. Find out it's only a shortcut for crows. Had to wind up and around the mountains in between rock slides. The route cuts through Reagan Ranch and Michael Jackson ranch country. I can see how they use(d) their ranches to get away from the glaring lights of the media...and in Jackson's case, law enforcement. CB kid #4, gets car sick. Had to roll all the windows down to keep her from throwing up her expensive Moby Dick lunch.

Arrive Solvang 3:30 pm, found a wine tasting room located right next to an ice cream parlor. Kids get waffle cones and sprinkles, mom and dad get Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. Tasting guy was all dressed in black with a shock of perfectly groomed platinum hair goes instantly arrogant. The kind of wine culture snob who feels the need to correct every mispronunciation from the French. I don't care what "appellation" really means, and if I have cash for your juice and want to say, "Caber-nay Frank," the smart wine guy should just leave me to the bliss of my ignorance.

Depart Solvang 5 pm, en route San Luis Obispo. Loved SLO. Cute little college town tucked into the hills near Pismo Beach (remember that burg from the old Bugs Bunny cartoon?). Great pie at Woodstock Pizza. Also the best pint of pale ale I've ever had. Firestone, was the name. It's owned by descendants of the Firestone tire family. They also own a nice vineyard and winery in Santa Barbara County.

Day Three
Depart SLO 9 am, en route to Monterey. You Midwesterners think you know farming country. You ought to see California's Central Coast. Romaine lettuce, strawberries and vineyards for over 100 straight miles. Around Salinas, some yahoo in a construction truck passes me and a small metal grate gets ejected out of the back. The projectile smashes my headlight cover and careens over the top of the car. Don't remember seeing one of those "how's my driving?" placards.

Mrs. CB and I honeymooned in Monterey over 17 years ago, and the place is far better now than it was back then. Then, we stayed in nice hotel that wass surrounded by a bunch of abandoned canneries. Now most of the canneries have been converted to shops and restaurants, or just torn down and replaced with new hotels, shops and restaurants. When we left Tucson on Saturday, it had been hotter than a skillet full of Hell for around two straight weeks. In Monterey, the temperature hovered around 65 degrees the whole afternoon we were there.

Took the kids to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Awesome aquarium experience -multiple, multi-storied tanks full of otters, sharks, eels, sunfish, tuna and sturgeon. We camped out fifteen minutes early for a spot to watch them feed the otters. Near the two minute mark of the countdown, the horde showed up. Nobody really minds letting little kids snag a seat up front for such an experience, but I think you gotta draw the line when grandma and grandpa try to elbow their way to the front. Mrs. CB, gave grandma a little forearm shiver to keep her at bay. I wonder what the otters thought of such behavior?

By the time we left the aquarium, it was around 6pm. We hadn't eaten since the skimpy continental breakfast at the hotel, so our next stop is for what CB kid #3 calls, "Linner." He can't stand the thought of losing out on a meal, so he bundles them when necessary. Every place along Cannery Row looks too much like Moby Dick, but we end up at a place that was giving out free cups of chowder. The chowder was awesome, and the meals under glass looked great so we took a chance on a place called "The Fish Hopper." Fantastic meal with a total view of the bay. Got to watch the seals and sea otters frolic around the rocks and kelp. Luckily we were protected from the smells of same critters while we ate. I got the crab stuffed shrimp and scallops over risotto, Mrs. CB ordered lightly seared tuna (damn near raw) over some kind of salad concoction. Yup, she's a California native.

Everybody had an awesome seafood dinner except CB kid #3. Ever the adventurous one, he ordered the cheese pizza off the kid's menu. The mini-pie was gone in seconds, so of course he was still hungry. He got all the remaining dinner rolls as a second course while the rest of us finished. You get what you pay for in this life, so one awesome meal at the Fish Hopper meant consecutive nights of pizza and In and Out Burger to get back on budget.

After dinner, mom grants CB kid #4 gets her wish to "put her feet in the ocean." This happens while I'm buying CB kid #2 a t-shirt. When I get over to the wharf, the little beach area is covered with kids picking up shells and stuff. Not my kids. No, my kids are now out on the rocks-as far out as possible, talking to the seals. The seals are unimpressed. I holler at them to come back, and CB kid #3 immediately falls into a briny and barnacle-encrusted crevasse. His shoes are soaking and he has a contused knee, so he tells me I'll have to carry him back to the car-it's around a mile-and-a-half walk. He sloshed, errrr walked.

Depart Monterey 8 pm. Trip back to SLO uneventful.

Next Episode-The Foxn Canyon wine trek, riffs on the movie Sideways, Reagan's Presidential Library, Malibu Beach and Pasadena's Gamble House.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Canes Trek III: The Search for Cullen

Canes sign some guy named Hamilton?

Who knows this guy? I thought George Hamilton was kinda old for the NHL- magnificently tanned, but a bit brittle, and slower than Jason Allison in a headwind. I might have the details wrong-hard to get real accurate info on the road.

Greetings from Pasadena. No "official" Hollywood sightings, but I did see a guy coming out of Starbucks this morning who looked like Billy Bob Thornton. But then again, don't most of us look like him... give or take a few tats (interpret as you wish).

Looks like JR and company are trying to revisit the magic of 2005. Find 'em a speedy centerman-way under the radar guy with a nose for net who loves to compete. Humm, who do I remember from Caniac history who fits that MO? What's the name I'm looking for? Could it be, oh I don't know, Cullen!?! So, now the Canes have Chad and Jeff LaHamilrose. Great. Now show me a puck-moving blueliner! Schneider is gone. Rafalski is gone. Hedican is going to "give it the old college try." I'm still far from feeling warm and fuzzy about the blueline.

Come on Luke and Lorenzo. Do some friggin' deep digging. What happened to the Wallin for Pitkanen deal? We get detailed reports from 50 different journos every time somebody in Buffalo scratches their nether region. Why do we know nothing about what's going on with our boys until after the fact?

The Avs and Rangers cleaned up today-big payroll additions, but top-notch pros. The Caps added Tom Poti and Victor Kozlov. The Kitties got Dvorak, McLean and Richard Zednick. Oooh, those boys are nice players. Glad JR didn't jump into the feeding frenzy on mediocrity. Why pay Victor Kozlov $2.5 mil when you can have Scott Hamilton for less than $1 mil. The newest Cane is an "energy guy," and a his triple-toe loop is far better than Kozlov's or Zednick's.