Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Top 30 Rock Books I Own: #15 Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story

Title: Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story
Author: Nick Tosches
Year Originally Published: 1982
Edition I Own: First Dell Paperback Printing, 1982

What They Say: In naming it the greatest music book ever, The Guardian: "Nick Tosches's extravagant and evocative biography is a superbly told story that makes sense of the wildest, most messed-up survivor in the history of rock'n'roll. They don't make them like that any more. And, perhaps for that very reason, they don't they write them like that anymore. A killer of a book."

Tuomala's Attempt At A Take: Could there be anything more to add to the above? (Bill says: "I really really liked it, man." ??) I remember buying this at Booksmart in Uptown when it was on that corner next to William's Pub (a sacred location as I bought my first Joan Didion book - The White Album - there also), the faded receipt used as a bookmark says I bought it on April 24, 1997 for $3.99 plus tax. I've read this at least twice and it is every good as what The Guardian says. Tosches has written some amazing books - also check out The Devil And Sonny Liston, Country, or The Unsung Heroes Of Rock & Roll. The Nick Tosches Reader serves as a solid primer.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Top 30 Rock Books I Own: #14 Rod Stewart

Title: Rod Stewart
Author: Paul Nelson & Lester Bangs
Year Originally Published: 1981
Edition I Own: Delilah Books first printing, 1981

What They Say: I have the feeling this book came and went so fast that that aren't archived reviews out there on the Internet. A little background: According to Lester Bangs's biography, Let It Blurt by Jim DeRogatis, Paul Nelson hit a bad case of writer's block when writing a Rod Stewart biography. Bangs signed on and wrote eighty-eight pages in a weekend to Nelson's five, though Bangs would insist that Nelson's name precede his on the book cover.

Tuomala's Attempt At A Take: It's touching how Bangs and Nelson fuss over Stewart's mid-seventies sellout, an early chapter is simply the two of them discussing this. Personally, I haven't cared as much about an artist in many many years. I generally assume that even if the music is great, the artist is arrogant, boring, or a weirdo. I mean, I already have friends, why would I want to spend any time getting to know Jack White? This is one of the oddest rock books I have - the juxtaposition of smartly-written prose contrasted by glossy fan-friendly photos of Stewart, most without any captions. To top it off, Bangs admits in the intro: Some of (this book) is "true" - exhaustively researched, and most of those sections involving quotes from previously published materials, especially attributed ones, may be regarded as the "truth." I made up the rest. This book is hilarious must-read for Bangs fans and a valid reminder of just how great those Faces and early Stewart albums were.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Barney Game

I should have put this story to paper (or screen, in this case) a few weeks back in honor of the Sioux vs. Gophers series that was being played. I thought maybe I should save it for the UND/UM rematch in January, but I am easily sidetracked when it comes to writing stuff so I'm going to post it now. Tonight I realized that I have never told the story of "The Barney Game" in my zine or blog and it needs to be told. It shows the importance of keeping commitments to your friends and that if you are single, you should just go ahead and do the things you love and not get hung up on the social calendars, obligations, and mores of those married or in couples.

Back in the mid-to-late nineties, a friend of mine dating back to our UND days called me and invited me to a dinner party he and his wife were hosting that Saturday. I told him I couldn't make it as I was going over to my friend Turk's house to watch the Sioux/Gophers game with Turk and his brother Mark, as was my custom once a year or so. My friend pointed out that I would be watching the game with Gopher fans. His dinner party would all be attended by our UND friends and their wives. He would have the game on and wouldn't I rather watch it with Sioux fans? I said that I had already made my commitment and couldn't go back on it. What I didn't say was that I rather enjoyed watching Sioux/Gopher games with Turk and his brother, we traded snarky trash talk while keeping all eyes on the game and saved any long conversations for between periods or after the game. I also knew that "dinner party" and "serious sports watching" don't ever go hand-in-hand, and the Sioux vs. Gophers series are THE biggest events on my sports calendar.

So this was that era where every season during one of the games in Grand Forks, the Gophers would have a two or three goal lead going into the third period, and the Sioux would storm back and win the game. (I hesitate to go back and look up the details, because it seemed like this era lasted four seasons or so, but memories can be tricky things and I hate to a sweet memory of an era like this be reduced.) On this Saturday night, the Sioux rallied in the third to rally for a victory over a seemingly-insurmountable Gopher lead. It was awesome! I yukked it up while Turk and Mark muttered curses under their breath, though all three of us of course put our differences aside to have one or two more cold ones after the game to wind down the weekend.

I talked with my UND friend a few days after the game. "How about that game? Didn't you just love that third period?"

"Oh," he said, "we had to turn the game off during the second period. All the kids were getting restless and we put in a Barney video."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Top 30 Rock Books I Own: #13 Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island

Title: Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island
Editor: Greil Marcus
Year Originally Published: 1979
Edition I Own: Da Capo Press first edition, 1996

What They Say: 1) San Francisco Chronicle: "One of the most fascinating books yet written about rock and roll ... Although Stranded in no way pretends to be a history of rock and roll, the pieces of rock that are included form enough of the puzzle." 2) The Washington Post: "Each chapter of Stranded is thoughtful, superbly focused, precisely written. There exist very comparable efforts." (Both quotes from the book's back cover.)

Tuomala's Attempt At A Take: Lester Bangs's essay on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks from this book famously appeared in the opening section of his anthology Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, which led me to pounce on Stranded when it was finally republished in the mid-nineties. The premise of the book is simple: Greil Marcus asked writers to write essays on the one album they would take with them if stranded on a desert album. Some of the selections are bizzare - the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt. (I would take 1979 Linda Ronstadt with me to a desert island, but her music would stay behind.) Probably even more baffling is that nobody picked a Beatles album. And while we get white seventies critics faves like Jackson Browne and the Ramones, nobody picked landmark black artists like Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, or James Brown.

I picked this up again a couple of weeks ago and was absolutely baffled by language like: "The Velvets compel belief in part because, given its context, what they are saying is so bold: not only do they implicitly criticize their own aesthetic stance - they risk undermining it altogether, ending up with sincere but embarrassingly banal home truths" (Ellen Willis) and "The Dolls carried to its illogical conclusion the egalitarian communalism that was one logical response of fun-filled affluence to alienation: they refused to pay their dues. So we had to pay instead" (Robert Christgau.) However, M. Mark's words on growing up in a rural area ring true: "When I lived in Iowa, my wardrobe and vocabulary were as sophisticated as possible, befitting one bound for the Big City; now that I live in New York, my wardrobe consists of jeans and my vocabulary is littered with phrases like 'real good,' befitting one reared in the heartland. I don't recall deciding to make these changes." She also chose a Van Morrison album.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Top 30 Rock Books I Own: #12 The Rolling Stone Record Guide

Title: The Rolling Stone Record Guide
Editors: Dave Marsh with John Swenson
Year Originally Published: 1979
Edition I Own: Rolling Stone Press, 1979

What They Say: I'm not even going to look for online reviews of this one, as it has existed in many editions over the years. Instead, I point you to Randall Roberts, who entered RS Guide data into Excel and came up with something he presented at the 2006 Experience Music Project. As a fellow music and numbers geek, I give him a standing ovation.

Tuomala's Attempt At A Take: I got this for Christmas from my brother one year in high school. I beat the hell out of it (that is not my cover pictured above, mine looks worse) constantly flipping through it in attempts to pick up a language to impress fellow music fans. It's strange now to think that someone thought that you could get an overview of rock 'n' roll and fit all significant record reviews into one not-that-large volume. I still get this one out every once in a while to see if a sixties or seventies artist I've come across is in it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Paul McCartney Was In A Band Before Wings?

Count me as utterly apathetic that the Beatles' albums have been remastered and reissued. No doubt it's an effort (and a successful one) to get fanatics to buy the product on compact disc once more before the CD fades out of existence. And how many buyers will in turn go and listen to their reissues as mp3s?

A great many thousands of Beatlemaniacs will shell out in the neighborhood of $600 for two box sets of extravagantly remastered records they probably already own, rip those suckers to iTunes-type computer programs, and blast them on iPod-type portable MP3 players through earbuds (overpriced at $30 or so) that render the sonic differences between the old stuff, the new stereo stuff, and the new mono stuff thoroughly negligible.

Maybe I'm just cynical because I don't own all the Beatles albums, and the ones I do have sound just fine to me. The Beatles stuff was also reissued as a mono collection (Common Man: "If you want to hear the Beatles in mono, listen to them on AM."), which attempts to replicate buying the albums as they were originally issued on vinyl.

My guess is the next step is to actually go ahead and reissue the albums on vinyl. You don't see much for Beatles stuff in the used racks, so likely most everybody is still holding onto their original LPs. Do longtime fans want new Beatles vinyl? Vinyl has been making a comeback in recent years, would younger folks with no Beatles vinyl want new LPs? With turntable owners still being a minority, maybe the first step in a vinyl reissue would be to release some sort of anthology. I'm thinking maybe two double LPs. One could cover the pre-Sgt. Pepper's years of 1962-1966. Assign the cover a bold primary color like red to signify the Beatles' brazen takeover of pop music in the early- and mid-sixties. And of course, feature a photo of them smiling in their moptops.

The other double LP could cover the years 1967-1970, after they had conquered the world. This album cover could be a softer primary color like blue to signify the experimental and more-individualistic sound the band embraced in the second half of its existence. To signify how much the band had changed since its inception, use a photo of them as longhairs. If they ever posed identically as both moptops and longhairs, those photos would be PERFECT for these two albums.

Aside from the obvious songs essential to any Beatles collection, both anthologies could throw in singles and other notable tracks not on the official Beatles LPs. Stereo or mono? I'll let the fanatics fight over that one. I'm already imagining these LPs in the stacks over by my turntable, ready to be played all weekend long.

Monday, August 31, 2009

And Did Anybody Catch Munch In The Last Episode Of The Wire?

In my previous post, I forgot to mention a classic inside joke that aired on Homicide. An episode opens with Bayliss and Pembleton out on the streets in a Cavalier. Pembleton is driving, while Bayliss reads a book in the passenger seat. Pembleton asks Bayliss what he's reading, Bayliss tells him The Corner and that the authors spent a year in a known drug neighborhood. Pembleton wonders aloud if a writer would ever want to spend a year with homicide detectives and write a book about it. Bayliss replies sarcastically: "Yeah, right."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Beyond The Wire

Four years ago or so my friend Ben told me about The Wire, which was airing on HBO. I caught up with the show on DVD and became one of the many dedicated fans of the show, declaring it my favorite TV series ever. You're either all-in with The Wire or you're not. There aren't casual fans of the show, the complexities of it guarantee that. Since watching the end of the final season in early 2008 (I don't have HBO so I caught that season in a weird mix of late-night post-babysitting viewings on demand at my sister's and on some sketchy probably-illegal Asian websites), I have been exploring books and TV shows that have ties to The Wire. Below is what I've been into so far.

Homicide Detectives

In 1988, The Wire co-creator David Simon - then a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, spent a year with a Baltimore homicide unit and wrote the brilliant and insightful book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.

A few years later, Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana created the TV series Homicide: Life on the Street based on Simon's book. While the show was fictional, it was shot on site in Baltimore and early episodes used cases straight from the book. Simon himself would write some episodes and in later seasons would become a producer of the show. Actors from Homicide would later show up The Wire: notably Peter Gerety, Callie Thorne and Clark Johnson. Though many other The Wire veterans showed up in minor roles (Bodie! Prop Joe!), my fave being Clayton LeBouef being stick-in-the-mud Colonel Barnfather in Homicide and overambitious strip club operator Orlando in The Wire.

Many parts of Homicide will be immediately familiar to The Wire lovers: Baltimore as another character, the white board in the homicide squad room, hard-drinking detectives, the concept of legalizing drugs (okay technically, that was in Homicide: The Movie), and questionable polygraph machines. (Here's The Wire's take.)

Oh, and Homicide was the best cop show on TV before The Wire came along. You will not be disappointed watching this show.

The Boys on the Corner

The Wire co-creators Simon and Ed Burns wrote The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood, a bleak-but-great book that should be required reading for all of those who think The War on Drugs is winnable. This was the basis for the Emmy-winnng miniseries The Corner, which I haven't seen. It predates The Wire but features some of the same actors. I have been told that casting tends to go against that in The Wire (a google search shows that Clarke Peters - Lester Freamon in The Wire - is a drug addict in The Corner.) Plus it has Khandi Alexander - no complaints here.

Crime Writers Who Wrote For The Show

George Pelecanos: His novels take place in Washington, D.C. They usually involve Greek-Americans, diners, and enough great music references that you have to keep a pen handy to write stuff down to check out later. (I was told in one book two characters discuss the Replacements, but haven't come across that one yet.) Pete Scholtes grades Pelecanos's books (Hard Revolution was probably my fave), plus interviews him about The Wire and other subjects here and here.

Dennis Lehane: His novels take place in Boston. Two - Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone - have been made into award-winning pictures, with Gone, Baby, Gone featuring The Wire alums Michael K. Williams in a small role and Amy Ryan in an Oscar-nominated best supporting actress role. This summer I was so captivated by Darkness, Take My Hand that I read it over a weekend.

Richard Price: Writer of novels and screenplays. I am currently reading Clockers (haven't seen the movie.) Published in 1993 and taking place in Newark, it covers familiar ground for fans of The Wire: A teenage corner dealer and a middle-aged homicide detective are dealt with in alternating chapters. I am blown away by this novel, the craft of it moves beyond the crime novel genre and makes it great fiction period.

On A Lighter Note

You can take a "Which The Wire character are you?" quiz. I'm Bunk, which thrilled me to no end.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Robert Mitchum's The Better Tough Guy Anyway

In an earlier post I mentioned reading William Manchester's memior Goodbye, Darkness. In the book, he referenced John Wayne being booed by World War II vets in Hawaii. This intrigued me, so I googled it and found out that Manchester himself had witnessed this:

Once we polled a rifle company, asking each man why he had joined the Marines. A majority cited ''To the Shores of Tripoli,'' a marshmallow of a movie starring John Payne, Randolph Scott and Maureen O'Hara. Throughout the film the uniform of the day was dress blues; requests for liberty were always granted. The implication was that combat would be a lark, and when you returned, spangled with decorations, a Navy nurse like Maureen O'Hara would be waiting in your sack. It was peacetime again when John Wayne appeared on the silver screen as Sergeant Stryker in ''Sands of Iwo Jima,'' but that film underscores the point; I went to see it with another ex-Marine, and we were asked to leave the theater because we couldn't stop laughing.

After my evacuation from Okinawa, I had the enormous pleasure of seeing Wayne humiliated in person at Aiea Heights Naval Hospital in Hawaii. Only the most gravely wounded, the litter cases, were sent there. The hospital was packed, the halls lined with beds. Between Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the Marine Corps was being bled white.

Each evening, Navy corpsmen would carry litters down to the hospital theater so the men could watch a movie. One night they had a surprise for us. Before the film the curtains parted and out stepped John Wayne, wearing a cowboy outfit - 10-gallon hat, bandanna, checkered shirt, two pistols, chaps, boots and spurs. He grinned his aw-shucks grin, passed a hand over his face and said, ''Hi ya, guys!'' He was greeted by a stony silence. Then somebody booed. Suddenly everyone was booing.

This man was a symbol of the fake machismo we had come to hate, and we weren't going to listen to him. He tried and tried to make himself heard, but we drowned him out, and eventually he quit and left. If you liked ''Sands of Iwo Jima,'' I suggest you be careful. Don't tell it to the Marines.
Touchy Touchy

I got a way-cool iPod Touch on Monday and having been spending the week playing around with its features. It's scary that it was able to identify my location on a map without me entering any info and I still don't know what all that stock stuff means (it says Dow at 9,500 ... good, bad, ugly?), but overall it's been a blast to explore. A friend wondered why I didn't man up and go all-in for an iPhone. For those of you who didn't make this leap of logic ... I'm no expert, but I believe the two are considered sister devices, the interfaces are similar and the same apps can generally be used on both. Actually it was an easy decision. My reasons to go with an iPod Touch rather than an iPhone:

1) I still have ten months left on my contract with T-Mobile and didn't want to pay the early termination fee.

2) The iPhone is exclusive to AT&T and they helped the government spy on US citizens. I'd rather not do business with them.

3) Even if I did go iPhone/AT&T, I'm not in the mood to pay $30 more a month for a 3G data plan. I can use the iPod Touch's Internet features anywhere I have access to wi-fi; not at 3G speeds but good enough for me to use the iPod's apps to check email and listen to Sirius, KFAN, and MPR.

4) Most importantly: I plan on using my iPod Touch's music-playing feature a lot when I'm at coffee shops working on writing and do not want to be bothered by some phone call coming in. That's what my cell phone - whether it be in my front pocket, in my book bag, forgotten at home or in the glove compartment - is for: To direct incoming phone calls into voicemail so that I can check it at my convenience. (And if the iPhone has some sort of direct-to-voicemail feature, I still go with #1 through #3 above ...)

As for that last one, yes lost in the mix at times when playing with my new gadget - I can stream past episodes of the Common Man Progrum! - is that the iPod Touch can play my mp3s. Later tonight, after continually staring at the Joan Didion quote Apple engraved (for free!) on the back of my iPod, I just hope I remember that the thing plays music and does it quite well.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Goodbye, Darkness

Recently I finished reading Goodbye, Darkness by William Manchester. It's his memoir of being a Marine sergeant in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Alternately gripping, gory, sad, and darkly funny - this book was one great read. Manchester sees things in the biggest and smallest pictures, by this I mean he knew the importance of defeating the Axis but ultimately fought for the men who served with him. The book also serves as a primer on the US efforts in the Pacific, to be honest a campaign I didn't know as well as the European campaign. Manchester writes early that this is the case for many Americans: Due to both the sheer hugeness of the Pacific and because Europe is more well-known to most Americans. Hopefully HBO's upcoming The Pacific will help rectify this.

If you are at all interested in American history read this book.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Party Down

If you are in the mood for a sometimes raunchy and almost-always hilarious sitcom, check out Party Down. I watched season one a few weeks back via the Netflix instant viewing option and laughed out loud more than once each episode. It originally aired on Starz and may be available via on demand if you have that channel.

It deals with a group of caterers in Los Angeles who all have dreams to do something in showbiz someday. Except maybe Constance, who seemingly knows she's past her prime but brings her "A" game of optimism anyway. (She's played oh-so-perfectly by the great Jane Lynch.) And Henry, who had the misfortune of peaking early career-wise in a beer commercial and now just wants to bartend and remain anonymous. (He's played by Adam Scott as the straight man, blankly but gamely facing the catering circus.) Otherwise the dreamers are the narcisstic prettyboy, the geeky writer (Bill Haverchuck fans take note on this character), the wanna-be-overachieving team leader who constantly underachieves, and the major hottie funny girl.

Throw in superb guest appearances (generally one solid guest star per episode) by Ed Begley Jr., Steven Weber, J.K. Simmons, Rob Corddry, and Kristen Bell (plus Joe Lo Truglio making his Superbad role look like a mere audtion for his turn here) and you have my favorite new sitcom. E! Online says it has been renewed for a second season, so you know it must be true. Party Down, check it out.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Cult's Electric

In those months before I discovered Guns n' Roses, one hard rock band I pinned hopes on was The Cult. "Love Removal Machine" was a hard rock gem – part AC/DC (the riff), part Led Zeppelin (Ian Astbury emits a Plant-like "baby baby baby" at one point), part sixties garage rock (a reference to "psychotic reaction.") And even Astbury yelling "boogie!" at some point couldn’t diminish the tune's greatness. Follow-ups on the old KJ104 like "Lil' Devil" and "King Contrary Man" led me to buy the Electric album.

I hadn't listened to the album in years, though when I deejayed I toyed with bringing the LP to the club to play "Love Removal Machine." Having imported all of my CDs into my iTunes a few months back, I'm currently in a period of rediscovering forgotten aspects of my music collection. So last week I broke out Electric for a late-night headphones spin on my turntable. The opener "Wild Flower" – a deifying ode to a woman – still slays. "Lil' Devil" is still fun. But "King Contrary Man", a song I once loved now comes off as a kinda dumb sell-your-soul-at-the-crossroads tune with lyrics such as: "zany antics of a beat generation." Worse, track two on side one is "Peace Dog" which is truly stupid and just stupid (i.e. not stupid fun like "Louie Louie" or "Smells Like Teen Spirit.") Lyrics like "peace is a dirty word / she used to be a painted bird / and war she's a whore" grate.'s review of the album nailed it: "What happens when the Doors are used as a model in the wrong way." (Astbury toured with a version of the Doors a few years back, plus the Doors had a similarly-titled song "Peace Frog".) Also, Astbury sings of wanting a B-52 (and not Kate Pierson, sadly) to "drop your love on me." Except he pronounces it "Bee Five Two." Dumb Brit. I like to imagine American producer Rick Rubin chuckling in the control room, but just letting Astbury go on and on. Hey, you can't produce Run-DMC every year, right?

I didn't make it through side two. After "Love Removal Machine," which is still awesome, they attempted to cover "Born To Be Wild." After Steve Martin's take on Comedy Is Not Pretty!, said song should just be left alone. Electric is a mixed bag of an album, if you listen prepare to be handy with moving that stylus arm up and down.

(And earlier this week, I checked out the video for "Love Removal Machine", which I hadn't seen since back in '87 when I first heard The Cult. I remember one of my roommates at the time loved the Doors and was disgusted by Astbury's Jim Morrison-like look of leather and long dark hair, but don't remember much else. This 2009 time around I loved the rock moves that were certainly not approved by the music intelligentsia of the mid-eighties: Guitarists having fun, Marshall stacks, aforementioned AC/DC and Zep influences, Brits actually acting like meathead rockers and not fashioned-obsessed swishes, and a huge beer can pyramid. Plus certainly-planned continuity problems with wardrobe/guitars and the drummer actually has an action spot!)
Beats Working

Rochester, Minnesota came up in a conversation today. I've only been there twice, both on business when I worked for Big Construction. As I recalled these trips, I realize I was sent to Rochester for pretty bizarre reasons.

Trip #1: The company had finished a project in Rochester and needed a certain document related to the final payment to be picked up in person, the mail or FedEx wouldn't do. So I drove to Rochester on this errand, even though it wasn't a project my division had handled. I think I was asked to do this as my workload was a little light at the time and none of the accountants at the other office wanted to do it. (There may have been some office posturing at play here. The guy who asked me was a supervisor at another office and likely none of his accountants wanted to admit they had time to take a day to go to Rochester. Me? Toss me the keys!) Ah, the age before cell phones were prevalent: I had to call back to the company to confirm I had made the pickup. The pay phone wouldn't take my long distance credit card, so I called collect.

Trip #2: The company was bidding on a project in Rochester and the estimator needed somebody to go to the pre-bid meeting and ask one specific question to the guy running the meeting. I remember I had to write the question down as I had no idea what I was exactly asking. (Rebar this, concrete that, blah blah blah.) Again, I don't remember why I was exactly asked to run this errand. I do know that the estimators held me in high esteem due to the praises of my estimator buddy Turk and I may have been specifically requested. (In fact, this same estimator asked me to turn a bid for him on my last day on the job - he said he knew I'd do one last good thing for him. I did as he asked.)

In both cases, it didn't take much arm twisting to get me to volunteer. Sit in the office pushing paper or take a road trip on a nice spring day (I think both trips were in the May/June timeframe), charge all that mileage and a lunch to the company, report back to the other office with my findings
and then head for home rather than fighting traffic to downtown? Easy choice for this kid.
Almost A Joker

Monday I was on a conference call with a client and one of their clients. The 1-800 number I was given to access the call instead gave a recorded message directing me to another 1-800 number where I could "meet new people." My client emailed with the correct number, which I dialed and got into the conference call. I said hi, but was so tempted to add: "I liked that other number better, I almost got a date." But I kept my lips zipped.

Today I watched Pardon the Interruption while on the treadmill at the YMCA. The opening went like this:

"Pardon the interruption, but I'm Mike Wilbon. Two days before the Fourth of July, Bobby. You got your party plans ready?"

"I'm Bob Ryan. Cheap whiskey and illegal fireworks. Happy birthday, America!"

To which in the background, Tony Reali was heard to howl and start up with the USA! chant.

After PTI, I headed for the water fountain. I ran into a gal who used to work at Y, we always greet each other and sometimes make small talk when we run into each other. She asked me how I planned to celebrate the Fourth. I almost said "with cheap whiskey and illegal fireworks," but bit my tongue and instead mumbled something about watching the Twins that afternoon.

Dammit! When I am finally gonna unleash some of my "A" material (or Bob Ryan's)??

Monday, June 29, 2009

More on Six Feet Under vs. Homicide: Life on the Street

Let's compare the opening credits sequences:

Six Feet Under's cute little ditty: I am so clever as I sip on my wine spritzer.

Homicide's percussion-driven white-knuckle ride: I'll have a bourbon neat with a beer back. And keep 'em comin'.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

They Say Your Memory Is The First Thing To Go, I Forgot What The Second One Is

I'm reading David Carr's The Night of the Gun, a remarkable book. Much of it deals with memories, and how Carr remembers events from the eighties differently than do his friends and former co-workers. One line I read last night grabbed my attention: "The power of a memory can be built through repitition, but it is the memory we are recalling when we speak, not the event. And stories are annealed in the telling, edited by turns each time they are recalled until they become little more than chimeras."

Memorial Day weekend, my two best friends Scott and Joel and I stood on Joel's Dad's front lawn and had a beer as we stared out at the lake. We three grew up together at the lake. Scott pointed to the opposite shore to where his aunt and uncle used to have a cabin. Almost immediately, the "get the hell out of there" story came up.

It was in the early or mid eighties. We were in a boat in front of Scott's relative's cabin fishing for sunnies. At some point, we heard a car door slam behind a neighboring cabin. Then two little boys wearing life jackets came running down the stairs to the dock and the boatlift. They hopped in the parked boat and started playing like they were driving it, yelling and having a gleeful time. Soon after, a man walked down, stood on shore, pointed at the boys, and said: "Get the hell out of there." The boys had shut up once they saw him, and upon his command quietly and dutifully left the boat with their heads hanging and went back up to the cabin.

It was quite a sight and we three laughed over it. We imagined the two tykes riding the hour's drive from Fargo, wearing those life jackets the whole way, just dying to go for a boat ride once they got there. "Get the hell out of there" became a favorite catchphrase, and the story has been repeated endlessly over the years.

But on this afternoon in 2009, we started to notice discrepancies in our individual recollections of the incident. For instance, we differ over the exact gesture used by the man. Did he point with just his index finger or was it the index finger and the middle finger together? I see the man as an older guy in his fifties, probably the boys' grandfather but Scott and Joel see a younger man, a father. We realized the exact details were foggy after twenty-five years or so, but the gist of the story remains true: The boys ran down to the dock and into the boat with life jackets on and the man did say "get the hell out of there."

And my favorite part of this bull session was when Joel said: "You know, I'm not even sure if I was with you guys that day. I might just be convinced I was because I've heard this story so many times."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ibuprofen Is The Fifth Food Group

Pick a moment during any week, and the odds are good that I will be sore in my right wrist/arm, neck, lower back, or feet. Thankfully, the pain generally is more of a nagging nature than a chronic one. Here's the history of why:

Right wrist and arm - Pain from tendinitis caused by computer mouse. Went through hand/wrist therapy in 1995.

Neck - Pain caused by improper workplace ergonomics. Went through physical therapy (after chiropractor and acupuncture were busts) in 1998 and 2002. Due to mixup between health provider and insurance company, scored a $700 home traction unit for free - meaning I inadverdently contributed to the need for health care reform.

Lower back - Pain into my right hip, leg, and knee via a bulging disc caused by sitting at a desk for twenty years. Went through physical therapy in 2006/2007 (didn't work in the long term) and 2007/2008 (different place that was effective.)

Feet - Pain caused by flat arches. Orthotics prescribed by podiatrist in 2009 (to make them they took a plaster of Paris of my feet, and then a hot nurse washed my feet - very steamy in a New Testament way) alleviated the pain, though the cost was straight out of pocket as insurance didn't cover them. But doctor advised me to never take up running, giving me all the more reason not to.

So like I said above, one of these areas of my body tends to be sore at any given time but not in the severe way when the condition first surfaced. It's more of a nagging pain that can be treated with iboprofen, ice, and stretching. And thanks to Justin Morneau for finally giving me a term for what afflicts me. He sat out Sunday's game. The reason? "General soreness." I hear ya.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

What Do You Want On Your Tombstone?

One of my top-five favorite clients is a caterer, and I am constantly amazed at their ability to come up with various menus and to prepare and present the meals. Sometimes they give me leftovers and I am in eating heaven. But I am not a foodie. I enjoy eating, but don't like to cook. At all. Being a single guy, you can likely imagine the heights of my kitchen wizardry: 1) Spaghetti - I amaze myself as I boil up some noodles while at the same time heat up some Prego sauce. 2) Tacos - This one is tough as it involves both browning the ground beef and remembering to buy the shredded taco cheese. So invariably I fall back into: 1) Cheeseburgers on the George Foreman Grill, and 2) Stauffer's.

Yeah, I'm pathetic I know. And also lazy. I just want to have something quick and simple to eat with supper while I read the sports page. All single guys out there absolutely KNOW what the staple of such a diet is: The frozen pizza. While you thought that the Tombstone pizza couldn't get better, I am glad to tell you that it can be better. My friend Melissa turned me on to the Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven. I scored one from Amazon for forty-five bucks a few weeks ago. Why a pizza oven rather than your regular oven? It cooks the pizza evenly, meaning the crust tastes better and the cheese and sauce won't conspire to scorch the roof of your mouth. You won't have to leave your pizza to cool for five minutes or so before you can take a bite, not to mention that this pizza oven involves no preheating so your pizza will be ready many minutes quicker than conventionally. And you get to impress your non-foodie buddies with your best food boast since that time you scored Taco John's down in the TCF Building/AT&T Building skyway: "Hey, I bought a pizza oven!"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another Reason To Stay Home

I got a postcard from Qwest in the mail today. It offers free services to those with their high-speed Internet service. I don't have that service, I get my Internet service from Visi but do get DSL via Qwest. (The postcard was specifically addressed to me, not "occupant.") They promote their free Wi-Fi at "thousands of coffee shops, bookstores, and restaurants nationwide." Having recently bought a laptop, I was curious as to what was available in my neck of the woods. I entered my zip code (55408) into Qwest's Wi-Fi search engine. The results? A Barnes and Noble store which doesn't serve coffee or other beverages, two Starbucks (I find their coffee mediocre), and three McDonald's locations. McDonald's? Hey, I frequent the Golden Arches but honestly can't remember the last time I sat down in one and ate a meal - I'm a drive-through guy: Get the gutbomb home and eat it while reading the sports page.

I entered a downtown Minneapolis zip code (55401) and got similar results. While tempted to sit down and have a meal at McDonald's to see if folks are working on their laptops while scarfing down their extra-value meals, I think it'll be easier to just throw this postcard into recycling. Real nice effort, Qwest.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Latest Exiled Radio Podcast Now Available

Show #19

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Exiled on Main Street #45 Outtake

Note: I compile each issue of Exiled to run a certain number of pages in print. Due to space constraints, I ended up cutting the following essay. I think it's weaker than what the made the grade anyway - I'm trying a little too hard in this one. At times I think I pretty much wrote it so that I could throw the last sentence in there. Yes, 750-plus words, all in the service of one final sentence.

Five Bozos Who Ruined A Perfectly Good Tuesday Afternoon

Due to unforeseen circumstances I was recently forced to listen to the classic rock monolith KQRS for three hours straight. Hence:

John Mellencamp. I have come full circle with this guy. In high school, I thought he was one of the biggest dorks on radio. I still find "Hurts So Good" and "Jack and Diane" grating. But a few years later I genuinely enjoyed the Scarecrow album. By 1989, I totally loved the Big Daddy album. So I gave Big John a pass when he was dismissed as a sub-Springsteen heartland rocker. But then a couple of years ago he sold "Our Country" – a boring and bad song – to Chevy and in tandem they tainted months of sports-on-TV viewing by blasting the ad featuring the song constantly, so much that I pined for the days of Bob Seger's "Like A Rock" domination. I damn near got tendonitis from hitting the mute button during every commercial break on Sunday afternoons. And I advise listening to the Impressions "This Is My Country" as an antidote to Mellencamp's song.

Phil Collins. He's five feet tall, bald, and of no exceptional talent in singing or drumming. Somehow he was a superstar a couple of decades ago because: 1) "In The Air Tonight" used echo and was used on the pilot episode of Miami Vice, and 2) He was edgier than Rick Springfield. Man, the eighties were fucked up and we're still paying the price.

Joe Cocker. One thing classic rock fans are real stuffy about is the post-Beatles claim that artists have to write their own songs. Sure Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and the Everlys all wrote their own songs long before the Beatles, but nobody seems to acknowledge this. It's pretty much become accepted history that the Beatles were the first rockers to write their own songs, probably because part of being a classic rock snob (I think this might be the same as being a "rockist," but I'm not sure) is ignoring fifties rockers and kissing up to old British acts. But what Cocker songs do you hear on classic rock stations? Diminished covers of great tunes like Traffic's "Feelin' Alright" and the Box Tops' "The Letter." Plus The Wonder Years intro song, which wasn't so hot in its original Beatles form and the only good thing Cocker did with it was have Jimmy Page play on it. Yet classic rock fans never seem to complain that Joe Cocker became famous by singing other people's songs. If he were black and American, he wouldn't get the same free pass.

The Doors. Jim Morrison is summed up best by the Lester Bangs character in Almost Famous: "A drunken buffoon posing as a poet." Truly, there is not much more to add with this clown and his band, they are so boring they're almost beyond my vile. Does anybody over the age of fifteen actually buy into their mystical/mysterious/Jimbo-as-shaman shtick? I guess the Doors could be described as "lounge act buffoons posing as a rock 'n' roll band." My first draft of this contained the line: Who still listens to this crap? But a version "The Doors" surfaced a few years ago with Ian Astbury of the Cult doing the vocals and they did a tour. Who exactly paid money to see this, I'm not sure … Hey! Finally, the Doors are actually mysterious!

Eric Clapton. He sounds like he has a cold when he sings. He makes the blues mind-numbingly boring. And he has come up with just one great musical idea: The opening riff to "Layla." Oh wait, that was Duane Allman. The only good – actually it was great – thing this joker ever did was to quit the Yardbirds because they were "too commercial." (This is the same man of integrity who: 1) would go on to join Blind Faith in a transparent attempt at creating a supergroup to sell mega amounts of records and, 2) would title an album Money and Cigarettes and then promote said album via a tour sponsored by Camel.) The result of his leaving the Yardbirds was that Jeff Beck replaced him and instead of simply being whiteboys playing the blues, they became one of the most daring, exciting, and innovative bands of their time. Claptonheads claim E.C. has passion and Beck is all technique, but when Beck's technique is so powerfully awesome – "Mister You're A Better Man Than I", "Heart Full of Soul", "Shapes of Things", etc. – I gotta quote Joan Didion: "Style is character." If you're still a big-time fan of Eric Clapton you are the whitest person on your cul-de-sac.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

And What Evenutally Happened To That Empire?

The Strib's headline about the Windows 7 operating system?

"The Empire Strikes Back."

I think I laughed out loud when I first saw it last night. I love the part about "making Apple look stupid":

Windows 7 also could be Microsoft's long-awaited chance to strike back at Apple, whose PC guy vs. Mac guy advertisements lampooned Vista as hopelessly complicated and flawed.

"Windows 7 also is designed to make Apple look stupid, because it's much better than Vista and much leaner, too."

But here's the part that's truly stupid:

The installation process isn't a simple matter of popping a disk into the PC. Data files and programs may be eliminated during the upgrade, so consumers must first copy their data onto external disk drives or finger-sized flash drives.

Windows 7. I'm sure it'll be so much better.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

What A Twit

I think I know how Twitter works now ... maybe. Anyway, my lack of knowledge didn't stop me from setting up a Twitter account. You can find links to my Twitter updates on the sidebar to the right. Oh boy.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Cult Of Aloneness, Continued

Back to the joy of having no regular coworkers. When I had a corporate job, I had a photocopied excerpt from Douglas Coupland's Generation X taped to the in/out box on my desk:

Air Family: Describes the false sense of community experienced among coworkers in an office environment.

I used to try not to laugh out loud when people I worked with said "the people in this office are like another family" and a couple of these people were miffed that I had this Air Family definition out in the open. (Actually one of these people was almost visibly upset, sheesh.)

Being one that usually comes up with witty rejoinders ten minutes to twenty-four hours too late, this time I was only fifteen years late:

Coworker: "The people in this office are like another family."

Tuomala: "Yeah. The Manson Family."

Thursday, April 30, 2009

You Don't Know If Mad Is Going To Do A Parody

Why sit through four-plus hours of Che when you can get the same story in 96 minutes? Plus Omar Sharif as Che AND Jack Palance as Castro?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Latest Exiled Now Available

Exiled on Main Street #45

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Union Forever

Friday afternoon I finished watching Ken Burns' Civil War, which I consider required viewing for all Americans. It's that great.

Then an hour or so later, I turned on MSNBC to hear that Texas governor Rick Perry declared that Texas could secede from the USA. Hey doofus: Maybe you heard - Once upon a time, some southern states seceded and declared war on the northern states. A war was fought that left 620,000 Americans dead and one of the verdicts left was that no, states can't secede. Another verdict is that the south got its ass kicked, big-time.

But Perry is a Republican governor of Texas, and we know how bright those guys can be. And as Jay Leno pointed out, if they become their own country we can always invade them for their oil.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Apparently Doug Was A Close, Personal Friend

Craig Leipold, the relatively new owner (he's had them one year) of the Wild fired general manager Doug Risebrough yesterday. Today's Strib sports page shows the perfect example of the contrasts between Patrick Reusse and Sid Hartman. Just check out the headlines:

Reusse: "Feeble spin, wafer-thin skin spell end for Risebrough"

Hartman: "Leipold turns on GM after one year"

Reusse refers to the prior owner of the team, Bob Naegele, as "an eccentric Florida taxpayer." Hartman claims that Naegele wouldn't have made this move and refers to Leipold as "the billionaire from Wisconsin" and a "johnny-come-lately." Reusse mocks Risebrough's efforts as GM while Hartman calls him "one of the best hockey executives in the game."

Both of these columns are fun reads for totally different reasons.
Tax Day Chaos? No Problem In The End!

Wednesday night I left my class at The Loft shortly after 7:00 pm and decided to head over to Surdyk's to buy some booze. I saw a few latecomers on a nearby sidewalk walking to Metrodome for the Twins game. I made a mental note to tune in the game when I got in my car. As I headed west/northwest (whatever direction it is) towards 3rd Avenue, traffic was backed up in the far-right lane of Washington Avenue. What the hell, I thought, I'm driving away from Metrodome ... what's the problem? Geez, I shoulda taken Chicago home and stopped at Chicago-Lake Liquors! Assuming it was an accident or road construction, I figured things would be better once I got onto 3rd Avenue. But no, things were still backed up there. WTF? I thought, All that's over here is a Dunn Brothers, a hotel, and that funky building that Joel used to work in!

Then I realized why traffic was so slow: There was a long line of cars taking left turns off of 3rd to get to the big ol' Postal Service facility that is open until 8:00 p.m. And this was tax day. I shortly got over the 3rd Avenue Bridge into Northeast and was able to get to Surdyk's. The eventual payoff? Surdyk's is now stocking Rittenhouse 80-proof rye and it was on sale for the same price as Old Overcoat! And its regular price ain't much more than the Overcoat. This of course means an Overcoat vs. Rittenhouse taste-off during my now-started staycation. Heavens.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Email From A Listener Read On Dan Barreiro's Program Today (Sadly, I Did Not Write It)

The problem those priests have with President Obama speaking at Notre Dame is that he is too old for them.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Yes! Cat Interrupts Home Opener At Citi Taxpayer Field!

Cats are amazing creatures. This cat at tonight's Mets game shows the typical housecat's amazing vertical leap - going six times its height or more is no problemo. What you don't see is a cat's speed. A humble tabby cat who doesn't work out and rarely leaves her second-floor apartment would handily beat Carlos Gomez or Adrian Peterson in a footrace.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Where Is The List Of Minneapolis Bars With Wi-Fi?

A few weeks ago the hard drive on my iMac crashed and needed to be replaced. I was so disgusted with Apple that ... I went out and bought a MacBook laptop, plus an Airport Express so I can print and get to the Internet wirelessly. So now in my little home office, the iMac desktop is the accounting computer and the MacBook is my writing computer. Plus all my CDs are now in my iTunes so the laptop will also be hooked up to my stereo to play those. (This means my CDs are now out of the living room and their place near the stereo is now filled by vinyl!)

So now I'm looking forward to being Writer Guy At The Coffee Shop With His Laptop. I know I won't be able to give up the Mead Five Star notebooks for creating prose, but the laptop will come in handy for typing up my handwritten notes. Perhaps more importantly, it will be there in case the joint is playing Bjork and then I can listen to the Faces on headphones instead.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Little Eleven

I caught most of the first half of the NCAA hoops title game and it appeared that Michigan State was doing what Ohio State invariably does when it gets a berth in the BCS college football title game: Look shell-shocked and not at all deserving of being on such a stage.

Nice effort Michigan State! And the Big Ten? You have once again proven to be a mediocre football and basketball conference.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dave Catches On To Something I've Been Saying For Years:

Dean Blais looks like David Letterman

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Okay, I missed the episode last week. So maybe everybody knows this, but:


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What A Horrible Place To Work, Part 23

In the mid-nineties I took a business trip to Chicago. The company handled booking my flight. I flew into O'Hare in the morning, took a cab downtown for the meeting, grabbed lunch, and then took a cab back to O'Hare.

While my expenses were paid in full, a copy of my expense report was sent back to me with some scribblings from my boss's boss in red ink. I was being scolded for not taking the less-expensive train from O'Hare to and from downtown. I was a little dumbfounded: A) Nobody at the company had given me any info on this train, which I only knew about from The Blues Brothers because it ran right by Elwood's apartment, and B) I wasn't an expert on mass transit in major American cities.

I wrote a note back to the bosses. I think I was wise (?) enough to bring up that nobody informed about my mass transit options, but know for sure I did write this: "Who Watches The Watchmen??"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Quote From One Of The Very Earliest Episodes Of Homicide

John Munch: "A million people died in the potato famine. Ireland is an island. An island by definition is surrounded by fish. A million people died because they didn't like fish."

Monday, March 09, 2009

"Put Your Street Clothes On, 'Cause I Got No Time For Quitters!"

My North Central American English accent is sufficiently thick enough where I can do a pretty good Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks in Miracle.

(And yes, Brooks did talk this way - I heard him many times on local radio before he sadly passed away.)

Friday, March 06, 2009

2009: Tuomala Embraces Scotch

(And I'm drinking the cheap stuff cut with club soda as recommended by Esquire!)

First sip: Ugh, why did I pour this?
Halfway through first glass: Hey, not bad!
Third scotch and soda: I like scotch! I'm a man! I'm forty-(three)!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Stand Up Roughriders ...

Upstart Grand Forks Red River was outshot 30-12 by Bismarck High (who?) yet prevailed in winning their thirteenth North Dakota hockey state championship. Congrats Riders!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Miller High Life Delivery Guy's Next Stop

From an article about how in these tough times people don't hesitate to ask to split an entree:

"People are splitting things like they never have before," said David Pogrebin, general manager of French restaurant Brasserie in New York, where a hamburger costs $18.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Podcast Up

It's been a while, but show #18 is now available.
Sunday Nights Can Be Even More Depressing

I just flipped over to the Oscars. Why, I'm not sure. I can't stand awards shows - borrrrring!

I tuned in just in time for Hugh Jackman to proclaim that "the musical is back." Then he went into a song-and-dance routine. Ugh. I hate musicals even more than awards shows. Hugh Jackman? Now I know why Dr. Cox detests that guy!

Friday, February 20, 2009

One Reason To Like (But Not Necessarily Watch) What Is Probably A Stoopid Date Movie

From the Grand Forks Herald:

Former UND forward Kevin Spiewak lives and works in Fargo, but his name has reached Hollywood and the big screen.

A short clip of UND’s 2000 quarterfinal game against Niagara can be seen in the new movie “He’s Just Not That Into You,” a romantic comedy that debuted as the No. 1 movie in the United States.

In one of the scenes, Alex (played by Justin Long) is watching the game and exclaims to roommate Conor (played by Kevin Connelly): “Come on Spiewak, this isn’t Ice Capades out there!”

Spiewak scored UND’s final goal of a 4-1 win in that game. The Sioux went on to win their seventh national championship, beating Boston College in the final.

Spiewak played for UND from 1999 through 2003, scoring 38 goals and adding 52 assists for 90 points. He has not seen the movie yet.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Happy 45th Birthday To Matt Dillon

One of my favorite actors, consider:

My Bodyguard (Unable to seperate actor from role, I genuinely loathed Dillon for a few years after seeing this)

The Outsiders

The Flamingo Kid ("... Sweet Ginger Brown.")

Drugstore Cowboy (YES!!)

Singles - (He was easily THE HIGHLIGHT of this flick ... "A big record just broke in Belgium" ... Dillon is underutilized in comedic roles.)

Beautiful Girls (something about how you can't tape Rich Man, Poor Man - you gotta watch it with the commercials like everybody else)



Herbie Fully Loaded (solid movie to watch while babysitting my niece: Michael Keaton as the dad, Dillon as the villian, Lindsay Lohan eye candy)

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I normally don't pine for summer during the winter. Over the years, I have begun to resent warm and hot weather (and sunlight too, for that matter.) Me, I'll take the cool/cold months of October through March when college hockey is on the menu every weekend and the only time I sweat is while working out.

But the past few days I have really had a craving for it to be summer and me to be floating in an inner tube a few feet from my folks' dock with a can of cheap domestic beer in hand. And maybe a boombox on that dock playing some tunes. It's early evening and things are just starting to cool off a little ... yeah, that would be nice. Anybody got seeds for tonight's bonfire?
King And I February DJ Schedule

16-Mon> Paul Harding of Radio K International
17-Tue> VINTAGE presented by: Atlantis Audio Archive
19-Thur> THE SAINT
20-Fri> Misses McFeely, 20,000 Leagues Under the Scene & FOCUS
21-Sat> BLUNT CITY = James Patrick + Daniel Paul Cortez
22-Sun> Vinyl Roulette (sounds of the sabbath)..
with: Wes Winship (BURLSQE) & Sarah J. (Double Trouble)

23-Mon> Kinda Cloudy with Dj Steely
24-Tue> Misses McFeely
26-Thur> Replicant Soul is Dj Tk

Sunday March 1st> Vinyl Roulette (sounds of the sabbath)..
with: Tim Ritter (Bella Koshka) & Medium Zach (Big Quarters)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Golden Age?

In the early nineties, my cable carrier had a sports channel called Prime on it. I don't remember what they showed during the week, but on weekends during the college hockey season they showed an eastern game early, generally around 6 pm, and then later on showed a Denver University game (can't remember if it was just home DU games or not.) This channel was vital as otherwise I was just stuck with Minnesota on the Midwest Sports Channel. In the mid-nineties, my cable carrier dropped Prime in favor of the Golf Channel. I remember telling my brother in disgust: "Great, now I get to watch Grant Show out on the driving range." (actual viewing!)

Things were then tough for years as for college hockey viewing I only got the Gophers on MSC/FSN. Every so often, one of the local independent stations would make a run at showing St. Cloud State games, but those efforts never lasted long. Three years ago or so, I signed up for a sports package with Comcast. Now I get some Fox Sports College Sports channels and College Sports TV that show college hockey. This season, the NHL Channel - also available on this sports package - has started showing college games. Last season, channel 23 began carrying home games from either Mankato State, St. Cloud State, or Minnesota-Duluth. Throw in the readily affordable UND webcasts of home games and suddenly there is all kinds of college hockey available for viewing.

Tonight on my Comcast there were SIX games available for viewing:

Minnesota vs. Alaska-Anchorage on FSN North and FCS Central
St. Cloud State vs. Michigan Tech on channel 23
Ohio State vs. Michigan State on Big Ten Network
Notre Dame vs. Northern Michigan on CSTV
(something called) Yale vs. Union on the NHL Network
and Denver vs. Colorado College on FCS Central for the late game

Me, I watched North Dakota vs. Mankato State on the webcast and then tuned in the last period and OT of DU vs. CC.

I put the question mark in this post's title as 1) only the Big Ten Network shows college hockey in HD, and 2) I believe once NCAA regional finals roll around again next month, those of us without ESPNU will be denied viewing. But the college hockey viewing buffett is a lot bigger than it was just a few years ago.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

"Together we will achieve victory."

My brother sent me this YouTube link: Johnny Chase is asking us to boycott the re-released Viking Quest DVD box set and denounce its accompanying online game until he is "compensated both monetarily and muscularaly."

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Sioux Were Off This Weekend ... And So Were The Gophers

The mighty Golden Gophers have lost six out of eight and have been swept three out of the last four series. Sing along with Tom Petty: "They're free ... they're free-fallin'"

Ryan Stoa never seems to be a tough guy unless he's literally sitting on top of his opponent. I hope this punk gets his clock cleaned real soon.

But I am coming up with marketing opportunities for this Gopher squad:

"Golden Gopher hockey, brought to you by the United States Postal Service. When you want it mailed, visit your local post office! When you want it mailed in, watch the Golden Gopher hockey team!"

And back to the overrated Gopher froshies theme: Jordan Schroeder? The Wooger himself called him out on Wisconsin's second goal - Schroeder failed to get back on defense on the play. At North Dakota and Wisconsin, the coaches will skate you to near-death on Monday for an error like this. At Minnesota when it involves a defensive error? Probably a pat on the head and: "Ahhh, I'm sure you can do better next time."

"They're free ... they're free-fallin'" ... Man, is life great.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Gopher Freshmen?

All of us who are not fans of the maroon and gold hockey team are told every offseason how awesome the incoming class of Gopher freshmen are. I have no doubt that the Gophers can recruit, but their fans' smugness implies that their freshmen class - and ONLY their freshmen class - is worth talking about.

After watching just a few moments of the first period of Minnesota vs. Mankota State on Saturday night and seeing the Mavericks score a couple of easy goals, I have to wonder WTF Gopher fans are thinking when they brag up their freshmen these days. #3 and #21 on defense? These froshies are BRUTAL! #3 was standing right in front of his goalie and twice tried to weakly swipe away the puck from the opposing forward rather than play the body and move the forward off the puck. Result: MSU goal. Who the hell recruited this clown? On the second goal, #21 stumbled and bumbled at the blue line, got his pocket picked, and the Maverick forward was able to break away and score a short-handed goal.

I look forward to the Goofers first-round loss in the NCAAs against Miami-Ohio. What follows won't be so enjoyable: The inevitable chatter from the Gopher faithful about how great next fall's freshmen will be.