Thursday Thirteen Ed. #69

by Steve, November 30th, 2006

meI’m going to skip the intro today and get right down to Thirteen Reasons I Get Fat Around the Holidays:

1. Halloween candy.

2. Stupid viruses that make me sick = no playing hockey.

3. Thanksgiving dinner.

4. Spending Thanksgiving week with the folks and eating ice cream.

5. It’s stinkin’ cold in Ory-gun. (Even while it was 65 and sunny in I-o-way!) Makes me want to pack on the pounds for hibernation. I want to eat even when I’m not hungry.

6. Travel time = no hockey.

7. Travel time = drinking time.

8. Hockey on TV = snacks.

9. Cookies, cake and candy. If they’re not at home, they’ll be at the office.

10. Short days, long nights, warm bed. Who wants to get up and exercise?

11. Rain. Nine months of it. Not a lot of walks or bike rides until July ’07.

12. Neighborhood progressive party.

13. Ah, to heck with it. I’m playing hockey today, and I’m bucking this trend!

Happy holidays all!

Deep, Deep Denial

by Steve, November 28th, 2006

politicsReading the news, I was struck by the bald-faced denial evident in our president’s words. “I am not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete,” said Bush. “We can accept nothing less than victory for our children and our grandchildren.”

Any thinking person has to ask, “What is the mission? How do you define victory? Just yesterday, I was reading Juan Cole’s excellent blog, and he was hammering this point.

What is the military mission? I can’t see a practical one. And if there is not a military mission that can reasonably be accomplished in a specified period of time, then keeping US troops in al-Anbar is a sort of murder. Because you know when they go out on patrol, a few of them each week are going to get blown up or shot down. Reliably. Each week. Steadily. It is monstrous to force them to play Russian roulette every day unless there is a clear mission that could thereby be accomplished. There is not.

Bush seems to be further distancing himself from reality every day. Even the centrist-by-design Iraq Study Group may be too radical for him. The strange thing to me is that he is supposedly trying to rescue his legacy in his final two years. How can he think digging in his heels like this will help in that regard?

I Wanna Drive the Zamboni (to Burger King)

by Steve, November 26th, 2006

zamboniFrom the Associated Press:

BOISE, Idaho — Two employees have been fired from the city’s ice skating rink after making a midnight fast-food run — in a pair of Zambonis.

The ice-groomer jockeys, both temporary city employees whose names and ages weren’t released by Boise Parks and Recreation, had to negotiate at least one intersection with a traffic light on their late-night creep from Idaho Ice World.

Read the whole story in the Seattle Times.

Road trip from hell

by Steve, November 20th, 2006

hockeyThe Winter Hawks are (not surprisingly) struggling through their eastern swing to Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Things got started with a 7-0 thumping in Regina, Saskatchewan, by the middle-of-pack, third-place Patriots. Sure, the Hawks were just coming off a 24 hour bus trip after a home loss to arch-rival Seattle. The Western Conference in general and the US Division in particular are weak this year (with the exceptions of Everett and Vancouver), and Portland is bottom of the pack. One Regina fan commented on the Network54 WHL forum that Portland was the worst team they’d seen through Regina in a long time. Big, dumb, slow and soft were words used to describe the Hawks. (I’ve long complained that the Hawks seem to really go for size over speed and skill, and I’m evidently not the only one to have noticed. It’s really hurting us now with the new zero-tolerance standards in the WHL.)

Next, the Hawks squeaked out a 4-3 win over East Division cellar dwellers Moose Jaw (Saskatchewan). Then came another thumpin’ (6-2) from first-place Brandon (Manitoba), and then a 3-0 shutout from a Saskatoon (Saskatchewan), a team with a similar record to Portland. The prairie has not been good to our left coast boys. (Seriously though, a lot of these guys are from the prairie, and the annual eastern swing gives their families a rare chance to see them play.)

The Hawks wrap up the trip with back-to-back games against second-place Prince Albert (Saskatchewan) and fifth-place Swift Current (Saskatchewan). Here’s hoping they pull off at least one win (Swift Current is doable) before the long bus ride back to P-town, where the boys face the the juggernaut of reigning WHL champs Vancouver this Saturday night.

Disney on Ice, Ogie Oglethorpe and Me

by Steve, November 17th, 2006

meSo yesterday I’m going for a cuppa joe with my cubie neighbor, and he mentions that he and the clan went to Disney on Ice the night before. I called the wife, and before I knew it we had tickets for last night’s show (half price thanks to the Entertainment book). The kids, they loved it. Well, “love” may not be the correct word. They were a bit overwhelmed, I think. Little guy, who was dumbfounded throughout the show, finally broke his silence on the way home. “I will always remember this day,” he said.

The show, Disneyland Adventure Featuring the Incredibles, was (predictably) long on tech and short on literary value. The whole “On Ice” genre is a little weird to me to begin with. There’s always this sense of forcing together elements that really don’t belong together. At a basic level, there’s some really good skating, but the kids don’t care about that. Nobody cheered for the double and triple jumps these guys and gals were landing in costume in the midst of props and lights and smoke. Then there’s the awkward attempt at retelling part of the movie. The outline of the script could be done in 25 words or less. Most dialog serves only to setup the next action sequence. There is no irony, no appeal to grown-up humor, and no subtlety whatsoever. Just a ton of flash and sizzle. But that’s all I expected, really, having once before experienced Toy Story 2 On Ice.

Anyway, here’s a late Thursday Thirteen, which I will call Thirteen Things About Disney on Ice:

1. Disney on Ice is produced under license by Feld Entertainment.

2. Feld Entertainment got their start in the circus, as owners of Ringling Bros.

3. In 1979, Feld bought the Ice Follies and Holiday on Ice.

4. In 1981, Feld produced the first Disney on Ice show, and has held the exclusive license for Disney on Ice shows ever since.

5. Feld Entertainment employs 450 professional skaters in 8 shows touring continuously world-wide.

6. Who are these skaters? Good question… In the early days, they employed well-known Olympic skaters, but today you won’t find the names of the skaters anywhere. Not on programs and not on Web sites. I did find this one interview with a member of the chorus ensemble of Toy Story 2 On Ice. She’s been doing the same show for four years. Sheesh. What a grind that must be.

Ogie Oglethorpe7. After all these years, and with all that crazy, overwhelming tech (lights! sound! pyrotechnics!), it still comes down to the pinwheel. In this show, it was performed by “robot copy” Syndrome’s army. During this, I leaned over to Wacky Mommy and whispered “Oglethorpe fucked her, you know.” She said “Huh?” “It’s true,” I said, “I heard it from a couple of guys. Ogilthorpe fucked the last girl on the pinwheel of the lce Stravaganza. That’s her, right there.” Then I yelled towards the ice,

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(I recorded the whole thing on my cell phone! No, seriously, if you don’t get the Slap Shot reference, you probably think I’m a real a-hole.)

8. If you want to skate with the anonymous hordes of Disney on Ice performers, you need to be 17 and have a high school diploma.

9. If you can’t skate, Feld may have an opportunity for you in Animal Care. You don’t need a diploma for this one. One area of responsibility is “manure pickup”.

10. If animal poop is a turn off, you may prefer the Circus Nursery Attendant position. One of the duties of this job is “Directs children in resting and toileting.” But you get to run away with the circus.

11. Disney on Ice has been performed in 45 countries on six continents.

12. Feld Entertainment is the single largest employer of figure skaters in the world.

13. “Well after that, we don’t have to go to Disneyland,” said Wacky Mommy on the train ride home. “Yes we do!” cried little miss missy. Damn it!

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Dept. of Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.

by Steve, November 10th, 2006

hockeySince I’ve become an amateur t-shirt designer in an attempt to support this site, I’ve learned a lot. One of the interesting
things is where antiwar hockey fans live. I’ve sold gear to folks where you might expect to find lefty hockey fans, places like Ontario, Oregon, California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But I’ve sold even more in Virginia, Ohio, Kansas (!), North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Florida and Arizona. I’ve even sold a sticker to somebody in Hawaii.

One of the oddest lessons I’ve learned is that you never know what people are going to like. I’ve developed several designs over the last couple months, with these two tossed off just to try to hit on a theme:
Yellow T-shirtpass shoot score T-shirt
The general idea being a star as the center of a distressed design. I had an old Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax t-shirt that I really liked, that was yellow with a blue star on the front, and I kind of wanted to hit on that.

The trouble was, the blue turns green against the yellow fabric with Cafe press’ dye sublimation process, and I didn’t want to mess around trying to get the color right. So I pretty much just left the design up there out of laziness. The “Pass. Shoot. Score!” shirt was another experiment using the star as a central theme, but I thought the design was too busy. But again, I just left it out there. Now, suddenly, both of these designs are selling like hot cakes. WTF?!? I was seriously going to pull both of them, and they’re both outselling any of my other, more refined designs. Both of these designs have been in the top five when you search on “hockey” at Cafe Press over the last few days (the “pass shoot score” design has recently fallen some, but it’s still on the first page of results).

There’s one design I haven’t sold any of yet, that’s specific to Oregon, Washington, BC and Alberta. The front says “Left Coast Hockey” and on the back, superimposed over the red star (I like stars!), are the cities of the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference:
women's left coast hockey t-shirt
I bought one for myself, and I plan on wearing it to a Winter Hawks game one of these nights.

Anyway, thank you to all who have bought my designs on Cafe Press. And don’t forget, if there is any issue with quality, please take advantage of the Cafe Press satisfaction guarantee. They like to fix things.

Thursday Thirteen Ed. #66

by Steve, November 9th, 2006

politicsMany Thursday Thirteen regulars may have the impression of me that I’m just one of those Demon-cratic, Bush-hating Lie-berals, just waiting for my party to come back so we can push our agenda of gay marriage, gun control and high taxes. Well, it may come as a surprise, then, to discover that I can be as critical of the Democrats as I am of Republicans. So in the spirit of fairness, here are Thirteen Things the Democrats Should Remember (But Will Probably Forget):

1. It’s the economy, stupid. Thirty years of neoliberal rule has skewed the distribution of wealth dramatically to the richest 2% in this country. The middle class is shrinking, the working class is now the working poor, everybody’s in debt up to their eyeballs or beyond, and everybody’s working longer hours for less pay (when adjusted for inflation) than three decades ago. We’re at a point now, for the first time in American history, where we can’t realistically expect our children to be more prosperous than us. Raising the minimum wage is a nice gesture, but it doesn’t address the fundamentals of neoliberal fiscal policy championed by every president since Carter and “free trade” championed by every president since Bush I. Being in hock to China is more a threat to our fundamental security than “terrorists”.

2. We won’t solve our health care crisis without a single payer system. But don’t expect Democrats to push for single payer. It’s anathema to the insurance lobby. (Remember Hillary’s debacle? She took single payer off the table before she even got started.)

3. We can’t have a stable Middle East without a solution to the Palestinian crisis. Bush’s refusal to deal with the Palestinian Authority has been shameful, but can we expect the Democrats to defy the Israel lobby? History says “NO!”

4. War is not an energy policy. Don’t look now, but history tells us the Democrats were bombing the fuck out of Iraq before the Republican’s invaded (with the explicit support of the Democrats).

5. War is not an anti-terror strategy. See #4. Which Democrats opposed bombing Afghanistan? That’s right, none. And boy, that policy sure has helped reduce terrorism (not!). A country reduced to rubble. Osama bin Laden still at large. Mullah Omar still at large. The Taliban resurgent. Women still oppressed. Apostates sentenced to death. Hey, I’ve got an idea, why don’t we go bomb Somalia next?

6. There is no war on terror. Quit repeating Republican talking points and dumping money down the military-industrial rathole. Shine a light on the real security issue: the economy.

7. Ceding issues to the opposition is not a winning strategy in the long term. Sure, you took the house by running a bunch of conservatives in Democratic clothing. But when the party becomes (became?) nothing but a weak echo of the Republican party, or even the “true” conservative party (vs. the neoconservative Bush Republicans), where does that leave liberals and progressives? Isn’t this akin to destroying a village in order to save it?

8. Hillary can’t win the presidency. Neither can Obama. Get over it.

9. At some point, you won’t have George W. Bush handing you elections. You better come up with a winning strategy, and fast. See #7.

10. You voted for war in Iraq. You knew as well as me that the intelligence was bunk. You voted for it anyway. You can’t pretend now that you had nothing to do with that mess. Own it.

11. We won’t have real democracy until we take corporate money out of our elections. Put that in your K Street pipe and smoke it.

12. One midterm victory does not spell the end of the Rovian one-party state. Don’t think for a minute that the Karl Rove and his gang have given up on their vision of total control. Those traditionally Republican house seats you just won? They will just as likely tip back the other way in two years.

13. You can’t turn your back on progressives. Remember us? The ones who believe in health care as a right, living wages and civil rights? We’re not going away. In fact, the economic policy of the last three decades is swelling our ranks. Your shift to the center-right makes us more likely to vote for third-party spoilers. Don’t blame Ralph Nader when he’s the only one talking about the issues we care about. Look in the mirror. Steal his thunder and you’ll get our attention back.

Republicans lose

by Steve, November 8th, 2006

politicsIt sure is tempting to gloat this morning about a Democratic victory at the polls. I haven’t been registered as a Democrat since ’84, and I’ve been very critical of the party’s rightward drift in the neoliberal era. Sure, I’m happy that maybe we’ll get some opposition in Congress.

But look more closely, and you’ll see not so much a Democratic victory as a Republican defeat. The Democrats are united only in opposition to Bush. On social, foreign and economic policy, they are perhaps more divided than ever. It is worth celebrating the Republican defeat, but don’t get too excited about Democratic victory. Their grip on Congress hinges on holding seats in traditional Republican districts, and on not doing anything to piss off the red staters therein. So expect a very moderate, tentative Congress, with an eye on holding on to the red states for the ’08 presidential elections. Don’t forget, Bush war cheerleader Joe Lieberman won against a war critic. This was not a tidal wave, this was a little slap on the wrist for Bush and his arrogance. It might signal an end to Rovian red meat politics, or it might be a brief interlude in the GOP master plan for total control.

It will be nice to see some oversight, though, if only for two years.

Here in Oregon, our do-nothing Dem governor, Ted Kulongoski, was handily reelected, our senate has stayed Democratic, and it looks like the house is swinging Democratic, too. Wow. It’s going to take a while for that to sink in. Now let’s see if they’ll address the 800 pound gorilla in the room: revenue. Our tax base was severely eroded by two property tax limitation ballot measures in the 90s, and nobody’s had the political will to even talk about it since. Our schools have had to grovel for band-aid funding every couple of years (a local bond measure passed yesterday after our 3 year local income tax expired), and my daughter’s first and second grade classes have both had close to 30 students. Music, Art and PE are luxuries at the discretion of principals (we’re lucky to have a grant-funded half-time music teacher and a full-time PE teacher — but no art). Will the fully in-control Dems address this? They’re making noise about reducing class size, but I have yet to hear anything about revenue.

Speaking of Dems moving to the center, I watched some of ABC’s election coverage last night with Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. The conversations turned to implications for ’08, and Stephanopoulos held forth with the common DLC line that “Democrats win when they run from the Center”. He noted Carter, Clinton…. And his voice trailed off. He neglected to mention Gore and Kerry for some reason. So I guess you could just as easily say they lose when they run from the center. Anyway, bottom line, it was a nice little romp for the Dems, handed to them on a platter by an inept, arrogant George W. Bush and a bumbling, ethically challenged Republican Congress. But it’s looking ugly for ’08. Left to their own devices, without any favors from the other side, I expect the Dems to blow it.