The NHL has got to do something about headhunting.

March 7, 2010 Hockey, In The News Comments (4) 198

Still recovering from my septoplasty surgery, so I’ve spent most of this beautiful Philadelphia Sunday sitting inside watching NHL Center Ice.  I’ve just watched Marc Savard of the Bruins carried off the ice of Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena on a stretcher, after left wing Matt Cooke tried to disconnect his head from his body.

Edit: new video below.  This one’s less dramatic and shows more context.

As is far too common these days, Cooke saw that Savard was vulnerable, came in from his blind spot, and hit Savard in such a way as to maximize impact to the head – and, as is almost as common, there was no penalty on the ice.  I expect Cooke will be suspended once the league reviews the hit, but in the meantime, the Bruins lose one of their most important offensive players, and the Penguins get to keep their two points.  Cooke will lose a few games worth of pay, but he will ensure job stability in the salary-cap era by being a guy who will “deliver a big hit.”

It seems rare these days to get through a single NHL game without one of these hits, and I have to say that it’s become disgusting.  I am a die-hard NHL fan, a defender of the hockey fight and the big hit, but I cannot stomach the way these players target each others’ heads, especially with the research that has recently been emerging about the long-term consequences of sports concussions.  While league officials and GMs debate the merits of penalizing this kind of play, athletes are seeing their lives shortened and worsened by plays that should never be allowed in any reputable league.

Meanwhile, international hockey leagues carefully protect the heads of their players.  As we recently saw in the Olympics, IIHF rules forbid players from playing without a helmet, and hand out swift justice for hits to the head.  I do feel that the IIHF goes too far (if a player wants to continue playing without his helmet, for instance, I don’t see why that should be penalized) but I do think the NHL needs to take action – definitive, clear action – to stop the headhunting that pollutes this league.

My proposed solution for the NHL is as follows:

(1) Any hit that either (a) contacts only the head or (b) contacts the head before any other part of the body, whether intentional or unintentional on the part of the player initiating the hit, should be a minor penalty.

(2) Any hit where, in the referee’s determination, the player initiating the hit deliberately (a) targetted only the head or (b) targetted the head before any other part of the body should be a match penalty.

At this point, I believe it is safe to say that these sorts of hits will result in injury.  Therefore, any player who intentionally hits in this fashion intends to injure the other player, which justifies a match penalty.

The main objection most people have to this argument is against the “unintentional” hits to the head.  My response is that the NHL already awards a two-minute power play when a player (a) breaks the stick of an opponent, even unintentionally, or (b) clears the puck out of play, even unintentionally.  I find it pretty hard to accept that a broken stick or puck out of play are less tolerable than a player’s health and career being risked with a hit to the head.

I have no wish to see hitting reduced in the NHL, but I do want to see these blind-side head-only or head-first hits stopped.  I am tired of the argument that any hit where a guy keeps his skates on the ice and his elbows down is a “clean hit.”  They are only “clean” because the rulebook says otherwise, which is a major oversight.  Hockey players know how devastating those types of hits are, or they wouldn’t throw them so often.  I do believe that a guy has to keep his head up, and I like to see the big hit against the player who watches his pass or skates with his head down across the blue-line – but I want that hit to be delivered to his body, or his hips, or his chest.  I don’t want to see another player victimize him by clipping him across the head.

Until the NHL does something drastic about this kind of play, nothing is going to change, and the game will continue to suffer for it.

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Film Review: The Road

January 11, 2010 Pop Culture, Reviews Comments (0) 173

The Road

I finally got to see John Hillcoat and Joe Penhall’s film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road this weekend, and I was not disappointed.  McCarthy’s bleak post-apocalyptic father-and-son story is one of my favorite books.  The film is extremely faithful, though sadly it leaves out the baby-eating, one of the most memorable scenes from the book.  Not that we needed baby-eating.  Laid out on the screen, the depravity and desperation of humans without a society are horrifying enough.  My friend Alex, who had not read the book, cringed visibly throughout.

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A Shout out to PVP

June 27, 2008 Reviews Comments (0) 127

I’ve been enjoying Scott Kurtz’s webcomic “PVP” for almost a year now (and wishing I’d discovered the strip years sooner!) but today’s might be my favorite ever.  Timing in cartooning is not the easiest thing, but this is masterful.

The joke might seem kind of obvious to those of you who are not fans, but it is very out-of-type for PVP and I never saw it coming.

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Mondegreens and Eggcorns

February 14, 2008 Pop Culture, Writing Comments (0) 190

Today I came across the Wikipedia entry for “eggcorn,” a recently-coined linguistic term that describes one of my ultimate pet peaves. I know I should be forgiving, but to my mind few things make a person seem stupid than the use of a term they have mis-heard or misunderstood, an “eggcorn.”

A few examples:
“For all intensive purposes”
“Once and a while”
“The spurt of the moment”
…and, of course, the eponymous “eggcorn.”

My own pet peaves aside, what was really interesting to me was the list of descriptive names for other linguistic misuses. An eggcorn, you see, is defined as a personal (as opposed to culturally shared) misuse that results when the person misunderstands the term in question through similarity. “Acorn” in many dialects sounds identical to “eggcorn,” and hence the error – which usually only shows up in written form. Continue Reading

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The shit hits the Brat Boy fans

November 16, 2007 Gay and Lesbian, In The News, Naked People, Politics / Religion, Pop Culture Comments (26) 1674

1084981162_l.jpgI’ve followed Brat Boy School, the home page of model/blogger/underwear spokesman Ethan Reynolds for quite some time. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a “fan” of Ethan’s, but he was pretty and I checked in fairly often to read posts about his love life, skin care regimen, workouts, recipes, and political views. Ethan was a pretty high-profile figure in the online gay community. I say was, because Brat Boy School crashed dramatically this week with a revelation: Ethan’s not real.

Well, to be fair, the person who goes by the name Ethan Reynolds is real, in the sense that he is the male model who appeared in photographs on the site. However, he did not write the blog; Rick Altman, his manager, wrote all of the entries. From what I can gather, “Ethan” (whose real name is apparently JR) really was boyfriend to porn-star-turned-underwear-spokesman Benjamin Bradley. They really were (are?) under contract with Ginch Gonch to be the “Ginch Gonch Boys.”
But beyond those facts, any details that appeared on the Brat Boy School blog were fictional.

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Narnia Review: being in the closet can be fun!

December 13, 2005 Pop Culture, Reviews Comments (3) 284

Went and saw The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe last night with my friend Alex. Not bad; very faithful to the original book, with a few cheesy chase scenes and things thrown in to add excitement. I read the book recently (for the third time–I have a terrible memory for all but summary and major details in literature) and it was pretty interesting to see the whole thing played out on the big screen.

I read recently where C. S. Lewis was strongly opposed to having his books adapted to film. His greatest objection was that talking animals never looked right in the movies. Mind you, Lewis died before CGI special effects, so his reference for talking animals was from “Mr. Ed” and “Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.” Nowadays it seems like they can make almost anything talk, emote, and look convincing–and in this movie, they do. Beavers, a fox, wolves, a horse, a gryphon–even floating leaves talk. All in all, it looked pretty good. I would say ‘cheesiness’ was among the least of the film’s problems.

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The Lamb Lies Down…in Ardmore!

December 11, 2005 Pop Culture, Reviews Comments (0) 167

Took in The Musical Box performing The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tonight. Absolutely spectacular. They get better every time I see them. We are about eight rows back from the stage for this show (last time I saw them we were much further back) and it really made the show that much better.

A few photos from the show (camera phone, couldn’t do better):

This is performing “Back in New York City,” one of my favorite songs from The Lamb. Without getting into too much detail about the story, this is the song where the main character’s rage and anger are really spilled out for all to see. Very dramatic, and the performance tonight carried it across 100%.

You can’t see it that well (sorry) but this is the famous “slipperman” costume sequence, perhaps the visual highlight of The Lamb live show. The guy in the middle is the main character, who is transformed into a misshapen man whose features are not fixed to his body, but ‘slip’ from place to place. He has absurdly large genitalia, portrayed by an inflated balloon, which must be removed to cure the affliction. Again, a key point of the Genesis legend, and the boys from The Musical Box get it spot-on.

This is actually AFTER “The Lamb” was over, they did another Genesis classic–Watcher of the Skies–as an encore. I’ve seen them do this song now three times, and this was the best so far. The bat wings are kind of hard to explain–Genesis became famous in the early 70s for the wacky costumes Peter Gabriel would wear. The costumes themselves were a way of compensating for an early lack of lights or effects, and they became such a trademark that they stuck around when those things were added. Bat wings are perhaps the best known. Which leads me to my next photo.

I don’t really dig on kids, but this one’s all right by me.

My brother brought a couple of his friends to the show as well. I got a call just before the first encore to let me know that they’d left before The Lamb was even over–just after “The Light Dies Down on Broadway!” Not only did they miss the conclusion of the story, but they missed three of the best songs of the whole night–“Riding the Scree,” “The Musical Box,” and “Watcher.” Why did they leave early? Well, not knowing the album makes it a bit harder to appreciate the performance, for one. Two, audience members were singing–nay, my brother says, “screaming”–along with the music and ruining the experience, and three, there were people smoking marijuana, and my brother and at least one of his friends are totally uncomfortable with that.

So overall, GREAT show, but I think you have to be a Genesis fan, or at least a fan of progressive rock in general, to truly appreciate The Musical Box.

Afterward, we grabbed a slice at Lorenzo’s on South Street and then headed over to 12th Air Command for a little while. OK night, but I just don’t enjoy their all-ages night as much as I enjoy all-ages at Woody’s. The music’s not as good, and the dance floor is actually TOO crowded, as impossible as that sounds. Anyway it was fun, and a good way to end the night. Very attractive crowd.

So that’s it. Tomorrow I have to go to the gym, and I have a hockey game in the evening. In between I think I might try to go see Narnia or something. For now, though, sleep is the way to go. Jeez, it’s nearly 4 AM! Yeah, sleep. Sleep is good.

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