I Love Hockey

I love hockey.

Which is ironic because I hate the cold.  (Which reminds me, if anyone knows of any jobs in Phoenix or Vegas, please let me know…)

When I was a kid growing up in downstate Illinois nobody watched hockey.   And I mean nobody, despite being just three hours away from the Chicago Blackhawks and about the same from the St. Louis Blues.

To make matters worse, my family was one of the last in America to get cable TV, so I couldn’t even watch hockey growing up.   So although I was interested, I never really got a chance to watch the game, and as a result I formed no allegiance to either of the local teams.

When my family finally did get cable (while I was in high school), one of the first things I did was watch National Hockey Night on ESPN.

And that was how I discovered the Buffalo Sabres.

I had never even heard of the Sabres.  But they had a cool logo and a badass young Russian defector (yes, it’s all Cold War politics to me) named Alexander Mogilny, and after one night I had my favorite team.

It is a decision I have come to regret.  Over and over again.

It didn’t start out all bad.  Despite being the last team in the playoffs from the Adams Division, they swept top-seeded Boston 4-0 in the first round.  I thought it was meant to be.

But then they got swept themselves in the next round by Montreal.  And since then it’s been nothing but heartache.

–There was the no-goal in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals.  Or the less-remembered 2000 “Six Hole” playoff game against Philly, where the puck went through a hole in the net and the refs counted it anyway.

–There was the magical run in 2006, brought to a screeching halt by injuries that forced the Sabres to play three minor-league defensemen in the 7th game of the Eastern Conference Finals.

–There was the brand new scoreboard falling to the ice in the brand new arena.

–There was the team owner and his son being indicted for embezzling more than two BILLION dollars in 2002.

–And now there’s this year.  It started off with much excitement: a new owner that for the first time in franchise history was willing to spend money to build a winner.  The Sabres entered the season with the highest payroll in the NHL… and currently sit in 11th place… in the Eastern Conference.  They’re 23rd out of 30 teams at the moment, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

So it’s safe to say that the Sabres have been the bane of my existence for the past 20 years or so.  And yet, like an abusive spouse, I just keep coming back for more.

But this post isn’t meant to be an angry tirade against my poor decisions in sports teams.  No, this is my attempt to create a few more hockey fans.  So, in that spirit, I give you, the non-hockey fan, five reasons why you should give the sport a try.  (And I promise, “the fights” will not be one of my reasons.)

Chicago Blackhawks

#5- Best logos in sports — Maybe it’s because the logos are bigger in the chest of a hockey jersey than on a football helmet or on the shorts of a basketball player, but hockey logos are more stylish, more intricate, and just all around much, much cooler than other sports.  Here are just a few of my favorites:

Minnesota Wild

Columbus Blue Jackets

Winnipeg Jets

#4- Sudden Death — There is nothing more exciting than the drama of overtime playoff hockey.  By comparison, overtime basketball is boring, and the NFL’s farce of sudden death doesn’t come close.  It’s edge of your seat excitement from the first drop of the puck until it finally finds the back of the net, whether it takes two minutes or three extra OT periods.

#3- The Olympics — If the 1980 Miracle On Ice team doesn’t give you goosebumps then you’re no doubt a commie pinko spy.  And while that drama of beating the Evil Empire may never be matched again, the excitement of Olympic hockey is still pretty amazing.  This goal in the 2010 Olympics that forced overtime with Canada will forever be one of my favorite sports moments:

#2- Ice Girls! — Most sports have stupid kids wipe up the sweat or pick up the kicking tee.  But not hockey!

Need I say more?

#1- David Backes — Ok, I lied.  A little.  I don’t normally like hockey fights all that much, I think they’re way overrated.  (Let’s face it, the guys are on skates, it’s not that hard to knock someone off balance.  One lucky punch, or tug for that matter.  Doesn’t mean you whipped someone’s ass just because they fell down.)  But in 2010, in the weeks leading up to the Olympics, American David Backes decided to send a message to Team Canada before the games even started.  On January 2nd, he picked a fight with Canadian Olympian Jonathan Toews:

On January 7th he introduced himself to Canadian Olympian Cory Perry:

And on January 12th he let Canadian Olympian Rick Nash know the games were right around the corner:

Now if that’s not patriotism I don’t know what is!

So what d’ya say?  How ’bout you give hockey a chance?  Who knows, it might just grow on you.


Post of the Year?

Hard to believe it’s been a year that I’ve been blogging here at Single White Alcoholic Seeks Same.  It’s been a lot of fun, although I must admit I got a little depressed when I realized I didn’t have enough stories of my own to keep it going without branching out my subject matter.  (In retrospect I should have spaced out the drinking, swearing and fornicating stories a little more.  Oh well.)

In perusing my site stats, I’ve been surprised to find that by far my most viewed blog was How Rambo Saved the World.  All those good stories about me getting shitface drunk, swinging and missing repeatedly with the ladies, and apparently what people really want to read is my somewhat-right-of-Attila-the-Hun political ramblings.  Who knew there were other Cold War buffs out there?  I sure never meet them; people look at me like I’m a fucking weirdo when I refer to them as “commie pinko bastards.”  (I always mean it in the nicest way possible…)

The secret of my success

But who knows, maybe in the next year I’ll start writing more about violence and war.  After all, man cannot survive on sex and booze alone!  Maybe if I try really hard I can get CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) to label this page a hate site!

Hey, you gotta have goals!

This post is dedicated to the memory of Theo Van Gogh, murdered for speaking the truth about Islam.

How Rambo Saved the World

In addition to being a pervert and a drunkard, you may not know that I’m also a history buff.  So when I’m not chasing girls with shots of vodka, or chasing shots of vodka with girls, I’m usually philosophizing (is that a word? I’m a history major, not an English major) on the evolution of warfare and America’s struggle against the evils of communism, terrorism and hippieism.

Which brings me to today’s topic, how Rambo saved the world.  Actually, to be fair, I should say Sylvester Stallone, since it was a combo of Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rocky IV.  But since Rambo killed commies, whereas Rocky only knocked them out, and since Rambo was a life-altering figure in my development, I’m going to give him the bulk of the credit.

In 1985 I was 9 years old.  Too young to truly appreciate the peril the free world faced from the evils of communism.  Oh sure, I knew the Soviets were the “bad guys,” but to my young mind they might as well have been Cobra to America’s G.I. Joe.  I had seen R-rated movies by that time, but they were nominally censored by my parents. We had a VCR (I think it was still a Betamax), and if my brother or I wanted to see an R-rated movie my parents would screen it the night before to determine if it met their standards; sometimes they would fast forward through a sex scene –it was years before I finally saw the supremely disappointing sex scene in The Name of the Rose— or particularly gruesome killing, but for the most part I wasn’t too censored.

But Rambo was the first R-rated movie I got to see in the theater, unscreened and uncensored.  I have to admit, 9 years old is probably too young to be taking a gamble like that (if we’d been going to Silence of the Lambs at that age I’d probably be completely fucked up today as opposed to just slightly), but Dad wanted to see it as badly as I did so I got to go.

I won’t go too deeply into my own personal experience, but it’s safe to say that Rambo changed my life.  It put a face on the enemy.  It gave me an appreciation of the sacrifices our veterans made in Vietnam and every other war.  And it awakened me to the fact that not everyone in America was really on the right side in this life-or-death struggle with totalitarianism.  The world would never be the same for me.

On a world scale, Rambo’s affect was no less profound.  Ronald Reagan was our president, and for the first time in the entire duration of the Cold War we were actually trying to win the war as opposed to merely contain our adversary.  This is not a political rant.  It is not partisan.  Republican presidents Nixon and Eisenhower were just as incompetent in fighting the Cold War as Truman, LBJ and Carter.  Like monkeys trying to fuck a football, the whole bunch of them. For 35 years, from the end of World War II in 1945, to the day Reagan took office in 1981, we were on the retreat in the Cold War.  You could count our victories on one hand.  Meanwhile, the losses piled up: Albania, China, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, East Germany, Yugoslavia, North Korea, Cuba, Yemen, Congo-Brazzaville, Benin, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Guinea-Bissau, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, Somalia, Nicaragua, the Seychelles and Grenada.  Most of the Middle East’s Muslim states allied themselves with the Soviets even if they did not become communist.  (I’m pretty sure California went communist at some point in the 60’s as well.)  It was a dark time.  The light of liberty was literally flickering out across the world.

Until Reagan.

But even the great Ronald Reagan couldn’t do it alone. He needed help.  That help came in the form of Pope John Paul II, himself a child of Soviet oppression in Poland.  It also came from Margaret Thatcher, the greatest British leader since Henry V.  (And no, I haven’t forgotten Churchill, Maggie blows him away.)  But until 1985, that’s about all Ronnie had.

But in 1985 Sylvester Stallone brought Hollywood squarely into the Cold War with a propaganda campaign unseen since the days of Casablanca.  In May Rambo came out; it portrayed the Soviets (and Vietnamese) as soulless, vile war criminals, hell bent on world domination.  And in November Rocky IV came out; it portrayed the Soviets as soulless, vile cheaters, hell bent on athletic domination through steroids and intimidation.

Rambo and Rocky were huge on the homefront too.  After years of declining morale and patriotism, Reagan had focused much energy on raising the national spirit.  Both movies grossed over $300 million, and their blatantly pro-American message made people’s hearts swell with a pride that hadn’t been felt in years.

With the Soviets already on the defensive for the first time since the battle of Stalingrad, this new front did not sit well with the embattled Soviet premiere Mikhail Gorbachev.  He publicly blasted the Hollywood propaganda machine (funny how he never seemed to mind when they were spewing out the usual Soviet-friendly propaganda Hollywood was notorious for during most of the 20th Century).  The Soviet Minister of Culture decried Stallone’s movies as part of an “anti-Soviet campaign.”

And how did good ol’ Ronnie respond?  Unlike past presidents who would have groveled and apologized, disavowed the films as not representing the true feelings of Americans, he embraced them.  He bragged about watching Rambo in the White House movie theater.  He mentioned Rambo in speeches, taunting Gorbachev and making it crystal clear that the days of American backpedalling were over.

To make a long story short, after being on the defensive for literally every day since the end of World War II, it took just 9 years to turn the tide so completely that the Berlin Wall fell.  By 1991 the Cold War was over, and the Evil Empire was consigned to the “trash heap of history.”  And Rambo was an instrumental part of it all.  It wasn’t just the bad-ass way he blew Russkies away with his M-60 machine gun (shot one handed from the hip no less!)  It wasn’t just that he carried a knife bigger than most swords.  It was his will, his indomitable American spirit in the face of the seemingly unbeatable nemesis.

So next time you see any of the Rambo movies come up on AMC (that’s right, Rambo movies air on the American Movie Classics channel, so all you haters can suck it!), kick back and enjoy the flick.  And don’t be afraid to shed a tear or two when he gives his famous speech.

A few other notes about the great John J. Rambo:

–Lest you think Rambo was just another action hero, a caricature similar to a thousand other brainless Seagal or Van Damme movies: The original First Blood novel used to be taught in college literature classes before Hollywood commercialized the name and story.  David Morrell’s excellent novel is acknowledged as being one of the first works to discuss Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  In fact, First Blood dealt with the issue of vets struggling to re-assimilate into society before the medical community had even coined the term PTSD.  Rambo is not a superhero, he is not invincible.  He is flesh and blood.  He also happens to be a badass motherfucker.

Rambo III, released in 1987, saw Rambo head to Afghanistan to face down the Soviets once again.  Since 9/11 this film has been mocked and derided for portraying the Muslim mujahedeen as allies and heroes.  In fact, the film is even dedicated to the mujahedeen.  And it’s true, those same mujahedeen would later produce such modern-day sweethearts as Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban.  But let’s not be naive, this is the way the world has always been.  Allies today become the enemies of tomorrow.  Don’t forget, we once crawled into bed with “Uncle Joe” Stalin to defeat the Nazis.  That’s right, in order to crush the Nazis in three-and-a-half years we allowed a new foe to flourish, one that would take 46 years to defeat.  So by my calculations, as long as we defeat the Muslims in the next… uh, let’s see, carry the one… 604 years, it won’t have been as big a blunder as cozying up to the Evil Empire turned out to be.