a vague collection of daily struggles, hourly arguments, minute concerns, and secondary impulses.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

change of address.

this blog is moving to a new location.
all of the posts here -- except this one -- will be transferred to this new spot.

thanks to my loyal readers all (three of you) for keeping the skadrian name obscure for the past 16 months.

rock on.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

before I forget.

At some point, I want to share my grinning pleasure about the Devils' hiring of Brent Sutter to be their new head coach. In the meantime, I have to jump across the Hudson for a chucklable nugget. As the 2006-07 regular season wound down, the Devils players had a hard time believing in then-head coach Claude Julien:
With Lamoriello attending to administrative duties and therefore absent from his usual perch at the rink, one of the veterans intentionally shot a puck at Julien during a drill to test how the coach would respond. The story goes that when Julien refused to confront the athlete or even acknowledge the overt act of disrespect, the players concluded that the head coach would have to go, and essentially fired him.
Rough. I wonder how well Julien will fair in the mess that is Boston.

The above exchange may seem unfair, particularly since Julien was brought in with such praise, but New Jersey has a system, plain and simple. You either fit (Brodeur, Stevens, Elias, Brylin) or you do not fit (Guerin, Morrison). I think Rafalski will have success in Detroit, but I see Scotty Gomez being the next Bobby Holik.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Mickey Mouse organization.

In light of this past weekend, at least the Niedermeyer family is happy. Teemu Selanne, too.

Let free agency begin!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Goosebumps ahead.

(Posted Wednesday, June 6.)

The little man turns 24. After breakfast on South Street, we headed back to "The Bank". Shane Victorino Day, replete with a figurine. This game moved almost as quickly as last night's; an immediate 2-0 hole, followed by a brief 3-2 lead, then a trail of 5-3. We had plans to preempt the seventh inning stretch with some food, but after the Giants continued hammering the middle relief, we gave up on our seats and walked around for food early. (Standing around had worked the night before, aye?)

The Phillies entered their half of seventh inning with the score now a bloated 7-3. Wes Helms stepped to the plate with two runners and doubled in both. When his chance came, Utley drew a walk. First and third, two outs, down 7-5. Ryan Howard -- remember him? -- stepped to the plate, 0-fer, and quickly Sheffielded himself into a hole:
The 1-2 to Howard ... High drive, deep center field ... It's got a chance ... IT'S OUTTA HERE! ... Three. Run. Home. Run. Ryan Howard! And the Phillies have taken an 8-7 lead!
Citizens Bank Park has something that no other baseball stadium can match. In center field sits a giant neon sign in the shape of the Liberty Bell. Each time a Phillie homers -- as well as at the end of each Phillie victory -- the bell comes to life and warms the soul of every dark-hearted Philadelphian in the stadium. We missed seeing any home team home runs the night before, but after Utley, Rowand, and now Howard had gone the distance ... goosebumps indeed.

In the top of the ninth, the bullpen warmups became a reality and the Phillies brought in Antonio Alfonseca, the kiss of death. My brother warned me that this was the end of the Phillies lead, and one batter later, that was the case. Big Al managed to escape the inning without allowing anything more than a tie.

At the hotel after the Saturday night game, I told these two about an Orioles game I had been to early in the 2000 season. This was the Albert Belle Era, and I was signed accordingly -- big black posterboard with "PHAT ALBERT" in vibrant orange construction paper. In the middle of the game, he doubled the Orioles out of a hole and tied the score. A cameraman near our section swung right over to us and showed us and our sign on the big screen. Until last year, I once described that day, that moment, as one of the last times I ever felt, good or bad. I spent the better half of the next five years numb, quiet, and efficient.

Speaking athletically, ridiculously ... I have been to my share of events over the years ... but nothing compares to what came in the Phillies' half of the ninth. An 8-8 tie, with bad relief pitching and struggling offense looming worse than the clouds and pouring rain. Rollins stepped to the plate and prompty struck out. Next was the man of the day, Shane Victorino. 0-fer himself, he took the first pitch for a ball and settled in:
High fly ball, deep to left ... Could it be? ... VICTORINO! ... No Ka Oi! ... Shane Victorino -- on Victorino Figurine Day! -- has won the ball game with an opposite field home run! Phillies win it 9-8! You couldn't've scripted it any better!
I missed the home run trot. I missed the Liberty Bell. I missed the crowd, the cheers, the high fives, the spilled beers. The only thing I had, and held, was my brother, as our twin six-plus frames hugged and jumped up and down, and up, and down, and up again, until we nearly fell over. My eyes were soaked and my voice was hoarse. One of the greatest moments of my life, easily. His birthday last year -- "Nitro? Fucking ridiculous!" -- was the beginning of the end of the numbness; this birthday, any last bits were shattered into obscurity for good. Between these two years, with Sophie in between, I should look into having my birthday shifted to June, too.

A meaningless game, during a meaningless season, in a meaningless time ... but for three hours (twice), our minds wandered and our batteries were charged.

And we still had the Les Claypool show.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

the sandbox theory.

between twiddling my thumbs and updating obscure web pages, I spent some time in college thinking about life, the universe, and the number 42. I also devoted thought cycles and brain cells to the interaction between men and women. eventually I came up with something I called "the sandbox theory", for which I make no claims of originality, professionalism, or even clarity. other than a few useful classes on American literature, I took exactly zero classes based on reality or cognition. (further stretching the theory is my equally thin experience out "in the field".)

the theory is simple. men and women play stupid, childish games with each other.* the setting of a sandbox comes from friendly backyards and grassy parks. what do little kids say about each other? you remember. "boys are icky." "girls are gross." things of that nature. children will throw sand at each other, push each other in the mud. to poorly paraphrase James M. Cain, "she looked so good I could have hit her with a hammer." many years ago, I was at a birthday party for one of my soccer teammates. my feelings so strong, I tried drowning one of the girls there. (all right, relax; I am using "drown" as an 11-year-old would.)

the problem with this theory is, by the time you are old enough to realize it, you should have outgrown it. even ten years ago, when I first put thoughts to paper (and Cool Hand Luke's ears), I had outgrown the age limit. ("you must be this short to ride this ride.") times have changed. I should be acting in a calmer, controlleder manner. kids my age do not take well to having someone push them face-first into the mud, and then scurrying away on a Big Wheel. (no so much then, either, but at least we had immaturity and poor social skills as reasons.)

the alternative to this foolhardy foolishness is the direct route. but, too often your target will side-step your warm advance, leaving you with little else but to correct your stumble, shimmy past them, and pretend you were talking to someone else in the first place.

the problem with playing hard-to-get is that "playing", in this sense, is no goddamn fun. there are roller coasters to be ridden and mountains to be climbed, woman. take my hand and let us go.

* - Yes, I realize this "theory" can apply to all courtships and relationships. But, as David Simon once said, "We try to only write what we know."

Monday, May 28, 2007

twelve - eleven.

dear jake byrne, jesse schwartzman, greg peyser, steven boyle, paul rabil, dave pietramala, et. al.,

thank you ... very, very much ... again.

WSE '01

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

let him eat a napkin, it's Christmas.

(This post finally appeared on May 22.)

I am still trying to find the sweet spot between dictating an event as it lingers fresh in my mind -- or in today's case, rings loudly in my ears -- and giving my description a chance to brew to fruition. Too close to the former, and I leave out valuable details, which leads to multiple posts about a single event that probably was not that interesting to begin with ... but too far gone to the latter, and I am left to simply spit forth a vague description full of sentence fragments.

This wordy meandering leaves us with Type O Negative, Irving Plaza, May 7, 2007, with Celtic Frost opening. Three white suburban kids, each aged at least 28 years, but none as much as 30. We met at Rick's house, ate filth, played music, until Chris announced that, yes, now he officially had to leave to make it to the city in time for his union election. He first announced eight o'clock, which was later relaxed to nine. After his vote was cast, he announced the deadline was ten the whole time; apparently his knows Rick's sloth far better than I do.

After a stop at the 7-11 -- "smokes and road beers; be quick" -- we settled into the 80mph minimum of the Parkway. Rick's iPod made its first appearance in the living room, that is, until it skipped to a Madonna song that "came with the iPod" (as well as much ridicule). As we rode and skipped songs -- especially the band of honor -- I mentioned that though my love for Type O Negative was great, it was pretty compartmentalized, Ziploc'd away for use only at certain obscure times throughout the years. (And this was a band that most people already have in check; whether you go to a show in October, August, or January, fans are dressed for Halloween.)

Rick took the mic and mentioned how after James Brown died, he decided he needed to own some new music. I vomited with excitement and moved on to tell about the renewed love for Sly & the Family Stone. The branching into Damian Marley albums. Suicidal Tendencies. The Mars Volta. As I babbled (and nearly quoted myself), the next song to come on was nothing short of "Welcome to Jamrock". My foot planted into the gas and I nearly steered the car into a guardrail, barely missing the eye of a State Trooper lodged in the foliage near the Arts Center. My heart raced and my mind was giddy; these hands are shaking right now as I relay this bizarre coincidence. (A second playing was immediately in order.)

The drive slunk into typical Turnpike garbage: out-of-state cars clogging the useful lanes, missed exits, unfortunately late phone calls asking for directions and parking advice. A quick PATH trip later and we were walking around Union Square, looking for Chris' voting location and keeping an eye out for filthy street vendor fare. A few beers, kabobs, hot dogs, pretzels, cold sodas, and Celtic Frost songs later, we were drenched in "The Chicken Dance" over the Irving Plaza PA. And by over, I mean over, and over, and over again; a good twenty minutes of my life was lost to the drivel. The noise gave way to the Kazakhstan "national anthem" from Borat, and eventually, the band.

One word to describe this outfit, nearly 20 years after they hit the scene? Tired. Johnny still has genuine optimism and charisma, but the rest of the four seem to be going through the motions. I first saw the band at an amphitheater, and a leaner, younger Peter had far more stage presence from 100 rows away than he did here, closer, older, bulkier. He drank freely from a Jack Daniels bottle then; red wine was the choice now. It could have been motor oil for all I cared; it seemed to affect his memory -- Kenny sang more parts than usual -- and his voice -- mumbled lyrics and garbled vocals came in between sips.

Perched behind this muffled madness was Josh. You know, "the nice one". Seriously, this guy may be a teddy bear in real life -- judging from limited exposure through DVDs and stories from people close to the band, he seems to be just that -- but he has to be one of the scariest looking people on this fucking planet. Already sporting full sleeves, every concert makes me wonder if he somehow managed to find blank skin for yet another tattoo. No doubt he has looked into getting a few more arms attached to his spindly body -- not for playing keyboards, but for fresh ink. Long known (har har) for his giant head of hair, he now has a thick Karl Marx beard to go with.

After starting with Borat and an ears-bleeding rendition of "The Magical Mystery Tour", the pulled settled in and started pulling liberally from their early catalog. "Der Untermensch", "Xero Tolerance", "Kill You Tonight", and "Hey Pete" were offered. Bloody Kisses saw the usual attention paid by "Christian Woman", "We Hate Everyone", and "Black No. 1", which closed the night. October Rust was represented only by "Love You To Death", making this my first concert without "Cinnamon Girl". World Coming Down was ignored completely, keeping in line with Steele's strong feelings about that album and the era of his life it represents. Their set was rounded out by "Anasthesia" from Life is Killing Me and two songs, "The Profits of Doom" and "These Three Things", from their latest album Dead Again.

Before the last encore, roadies and hangers-on scrambled across the stage, setting up stacks of toilet paper. A few albums ago, I saw this same mess unfold at the Trocadero; a relentless array of catch and release was on the way. Johnny managed to hit me right in the forehead, before the guy in front me returned the favor with a shot directly off the drummer's nose.

Between 1947 and 1953, the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers met in the World Series four times -- 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953 -- with the Yankees winning all four. They met again in 1955, and bettors the world over decided to stick with the Yankees; trouble is, Brooklyn finally won, four games to three. Almost fifty years later, I approached this concert much the same; after years of (relatively) radio friendly songs, concert staples, and boring stage talk, I was ready for an exciting but trite concert from Type O Negative. They surprised me by pulling back to the days of Brooklyn and really belting out the older, forgotten catalog pieces.

What does this bode for the future? The Yankees and Dodgers met again the very next year. The 1956 World Series was business as usual as the Yankees won in seven, and the next year the Dodgers moved out west. Rumors of breakup or retirement have swirled around this band for their past two or three albums. I wish I was the same angry kid in high school who bought Bloody Kisses in the mall, but I am not; these men have gone through relationships, marriages, children, tours, diseases, war, famine, and death. Can you expect to live past forty or fifty years old with a deep, powerful penchant for pain and negativity?

When compatriots Life of Agony released Ugly, their mature, albeit milder follow-up to the self-explanatory debut River Runs Red, singer Keith Caputo once explained that he had changed quite a bit in the few years between albums. RRR was recorded at the tail end of high school, with the world still new and unforgiving. A bit of touring and world-beating had mellowed him out, and Ugly, while still powerful, had a different feel.

Besides, when a band warns you about being a product vehicle, as all previous Type O Negative albums have alluded if not stated, then we have no right to complain. The trouble is, just when I was getting used to being a consumer -- I used to tell people that Type O were a joke, and I get the joke -- they reminded me why I started listening in the first place.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

xero tolerance.

Type O Negative.Type O Negative
Irving Plaza, New York, New York
Friday, May 7, 2007

  1. Magical Mystery Tour
  2. We Hate Everyone
  3. Profits of Doom
  4. Anasthesia
  5. These Three Things
  6. Xero Tolerance
  7. Hey Pete
  8. Kill You Tonight
  9. Love You To Death
  10. Christian Woman
  11. Waste of Life / Der Untermensch
  12. Black No. 1

Sunday, May 06, 2007

never let it rest.

my brother graduated from college this afternoon. paraphrasing mike, "my heart-o-meter goes way into the red whenever I think of my family."

I am so proud of my brother that no other thoughts will fit inside my head.

way to go, A-Skatt

Saturday, May 05, 2007

dead again -- part the second.

050507_2028 the mighty Devils fell in the second round, again. the coming autumn finds the team abandoning the Brendan Byrne and moving into the new Prudential Center; the 16W Project is officially dead.

with all due respect to Ray Emery, who had a great series, Game 5 was a blubbering mess of mistiming, overskating, and poor shooting. Scott Gomez added 2 goals to his free agency resume but was otherwise invisible. by the time fifty minutes had elapsed, only one Devil -- Zach Parise -- seemed to care that the team was two scores away from another playoff elimination.

post-season appearances are almost a given in this league, and for a recently storied team like New Jersey, a five-game second-round loss is akin to most teams missing the playoffs entirely. what does the future hold? Gomez won a $5 million arbitration award last year, which the team swiftly but reluctantly matched. despite a 24-point dropoff from last year (including 20 fewer goals), he will likely draw large contract offers from teams desperate for centers (Philadelphia, Long Island, and Washington especially). Martin Brodeur had a strong regular season but a regular, if not weak post-season; a friend mentioned that had Tampa Bay thought to acquire a goaltender at some point during the season, the Devils might have been out weeks ago.

with the late firing of Claude Julien, the Tri-State papers wasted no ink calling out team boss Lou Lamoriello once the playoffs began, crying that another weak playoff appearance would weaken or destroy the reputation he built over the past decade. he deserves at least one more season before we can make any sort of decision regarding the "destruction" of his legacy. it is one thing to lose to a team that was simply better -- like Carolina last year, who eventually won the Stanley Cup. but I do not see Ottawa winning even the chance to represent the East, let alone making it all the way to the Finals.

instead, with a few exceptions, the Devils who skated against Ottawa were shadows of the same who won the Atlantic division. these shadows are almost always vanquised from within , thanks to consistent drafting (Parise, Zajac, Elias) and overlooked, undrafted free agents (Madden, Rafalski, Oduya), so another year of subtly effective personnel moves are in store. with 3 Cups in the past 12 years, Devils' fans have their sights set high -- but to spend time rooting for a team that has always managed to win without flashy signings or uttering the word "rebuild", what else are we to do? like their former parents in the Bronx, the Devils open every game, every series, every season, with one goal: to win the championship. class and decency should be expected, not rewarded; victories are the point to all of this maneuvering. new building or not, we need to hold the standards high.