Saturday, December 24, 2005

Posted by Mark at 7:40 PM

Merry CHRISTmas, one and all!

To all my friends, all my readers, all my family, I wish each of you the most merry Christmas possible, and all the best life has to offer.

One of the Hated Moments of Christmas

Again, this year, the family and I went to go see my fraternal grandfather, and with that my dad's brothers. You know, I have always loathed going to see grandpa, and for years I thought it directly had to do with Henry, my grandfather. You see, he and my gtandma's relationship ended in a painfuld divorce, and let's just say Henry had more fault than my grandma.

What I have always hated is the feelings of inadequacy heaped on my dad, of how we all had to act a certain way to just get non-condescending looks from grandpa. But, I realize, much of that is just my dad trying to live up to his father's expectations, and not the direct result of anything grandpa did. This Christmas, though, I had an epiphany. I've come to realize what it is. It is my Dad's brother, Tim. Tim is, to be frank, a wannabe. He has never done anything on his own. He is the classic middle brother, trying to hog all the attention.

First, some background. Timmy had everything handed to him. He had an older brother, my father, to lay blame on, and a younger brother, my uncle Gary, to pick on. He was the apple of my grandma's eye, for reasons I will never know. However, he always failed. Constantly. He married his high school girlfriend, who came from a wealthy family, who supplied him with income for him to goof around college in. Then, she became a pharmacist, making tens of thousands a year. Meanwhile, while my dad was working 50 hours a week and travelling around the world, supporting us with no help from his folks, my uncle Tim was welching on the rent to my grandmother for a discounted rate for staying at her house. Tim bounced from job to job, always with a big idea. He had a big idea to be a race car driver, that failed. He couldn't manage a WingsnRings, but he could cheat with waitresses,which ended his sweetheart deal with the cold rich pharmacist, my ex-aunt. Their union produced a boy, Dan, whom Tim obsesses over as the next great athlete. I have seen good plays, but he is no great one. You see, that is what Tim is about. He has never been successful himself, so he lives vicariously thru Dan. Also, his trist at WingsNRings with a woman named after a weather pattern produced a son, Alan, who is in 3rd grade. Alan is going to be the great next linebacker. Tim coaches his football team, and they won the peewee tournament.

But, to hear Tim, he is Donald Trump. He is a roller and a shaker. He treats my dad like crap, mouths off to him, tells him how simple he is. But, he does not thank my dad for going to bat for him and gettin him a job when his ex dumped him and kicked him out. He does not thank him for trying to make amends with his mother, who won't talk to him. No, he just treats my dad and my whole family like we are below him.

Well, today, it just got nasty. When my dad got a call from work, and described he got paid doubletime if he worked on Christmas, Tim said, well, not me, I don't take no crap, I told these people I am working for now if they don't pay me 100 bucks just for coming in, forget it. OK, yeah, right, and you really were going to be on the NASCAR circuit.

Tim is a pathological liar. He trains his younger son to steal gifts by tearing off the tags. This is the 2nd year in a row that there was a snafu because Alan rushed and "accidentally" tore off stubs saying who got what. Last year, we didn't notice it and Tim got free booze. This year, I knew about it and saved Grandpa's gift for him.

See, what really hurts is how my dad is overlooked. My dad has always been there for Grandpa, for Gary, and for Tim. He has always offered to help, to build, even when his ailing body was beaten from working at jobs very difficult. Yet, they still treat him like dirt. They give Tim everything, they hold him on some pedestal, meanwhile, he mouths off to them, and treats grandpa like dirt.

My dad just takes it all...

Today, I had to sit for two hours and hear about how Tim is teaching them new football techniques, how he is going to push them so they can make it. He is going to make sure he is going to have some success. They are going to be winners. However, he laughs and points out every other kids faults on the team as we sit through the boring dvd presentation of a third grade football season. It was cute at first, but when we keep hearing about how this one is great, how Alan is going to work with him and find out where he trains, it loses the innocence. When Tim chastises Alan for not "finishing" that kid, but on the next play, talks about a dirty hit, It is just sad.

He treats his kids like he is their agent, always talking sports. He never enquires about their feelings or anything. He is always heaping gifts, sporting events, but when it comes to what really matters, about being a man, he fails. Where over 29 years my father has taught me fidelity, honor, hard work, and charity; Dan and Alan have gotten lessons on selfishness, adultery, vicarious living, and theft.

Tim, in other words, is edward norton in "The Italian Job." He is the classic bandwagon jumper, as evidenced by his penchant for rooting for whoever the last Nextel cup Winner was. He has no originality or thoguhts of his own, he just wants what he thinks others want, and is a big selfish, self serving synchopant. He is Ed Norton meets Al Bundy, living not on yesterday's glories (Polk high, 4 touchdowns in one game), but rather on his children's glories, claiming them as purely his own. He uses his children for props and not get attention.

Tim may get all the credit now, but I can see in his kids eyes, they realize it is not about them, but about him. My dad never hogged the spotlight, he always brushed it away, so now, I figure, for Christmas, its his day.

Love ya Dad, don't let the a$$holes get you down. I just wish grandpa would give you your due, and quit wasting time on that sad sack of a brother. I love uncle Gary, he at least talks to us, not at us. Tim is all about shouting us down and showing he is the smartest guy in the room, even when he is wrong, which he was on just about everything today, and as he has been on just about everything in his life.

Dad, though we don't see eye to eye on many things, and though I haven't brought you riches and wealth, and though we aren't ward and the beev--I love you Dad, and just wish you would get what you deserve for all you do. You are an unsung hero, one who labors in obscurity, thinking only of what is right and not what is just for them. If I were half the man you were, I would be 10 times better than I am .

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Posted by Mark at 12:21 PM

Former Duck Fischer Lucky to Be Alive

Return to Ice In Doubt

Former Cincinnati Mighty Duck Jiri Fischer, who was hospitalized with a heart condition after collapsing on the bench vs. the Nashville Predators last month, held a press conference yesterday, giving an update on his condition. What follows is the scoop from a fellow blogger out of Hockeytown:
Before the press conference began, the FSN commentators informed us that just Jiri Fischer and team physician Tony Colucci would make an appearance, nothing that the absence of a team official such as GM Ken Holland was a counter to any speculation that Jiri would announce his retirement.

Someone, team media director John Hahn, I assume, introduced Colucci and Fischer, giving Jiri the floor for his opening statement.

Jiri started out pretty composed but very quickly became emotional and it's no wonder. He began by thanking everyone with a blanket statement of thanks and said Colucci must be "my guardian angel or something," noting just how lucky he was to survive that night. He was thankful for being where he was when it happened, mentioning Mackenzie Watts, the 15-year-old girl who died the same night of a seizure while at swim practice with full realization that the same could have happened to him had the Wings not had the AED at hand.

He began to thank some people by name and they were generally names I didn't recognize enough to write down. He said that he didn't want to leave anyone un-thanked but that those who were left unnamed know they have his thanks. He mentioned having received many letters in the mail from fans and was very appreciative.

The floor was then opened to the members of the media and of course the first question was about when he thought he could return. He jokingly replied, "The game is in three hours, right?" but followed that up by soberly saying that he wasn't going to be back for the Pens game, obviously. He left it that he wants to return.

The next question was about how his life has changed. He responded "I get up every day and I live."

When asked whether he would risk playing again, given his apparent new appreciation for life, Fischer replied that he hopes medical technology will advance quickly to help him get answers to his situation. He said that his case will help doctors make discoveries down this particular avenue of research. He mentioned that he doesn't see himself coming back in a few weeks but that he doesn't want hockey to be taken from him since it's what he knows.

He was asked about what he remembers from that night and he replied that he remembers being on the ice but does not remember going down or the life-saving efforts that went on on the bench. He doesn't remember the ambulance much and apparently, his memory picked up once he got to the hospital.

Someone asked him about his fiancee, Avery, and he got very emotional and had a lot of trouble speaking for some time. He eventually got it out that she's one of the best people he knows and that she was part of the group of unnamed people whose support he was immensely thankful for.

As for advice from the doctors, Jiri said he's just waiting on better answers and better solutions.

When asked about what treatment he has undergone since the incident, he said that he always watched what he ate very closely and that he has undergone many tests to discover what, if any, substances he may have ingested could have caused what happened. Nothing was found.

After that, Colucci had to field a question or two. He was asked to give an account of what happened: Jiri slumped over on to Brett Lebda's lap, at which point Lebda alerted Piet Van Zant, the team's athletic trainer. Van Zant called down Colucci and the other team doctors, who were sitting very near the bench, and they immediately began working on Jiri. Colucci credited the quick response of the various people involved and for their help in getting him the equipment he needed (such as the AED) with the haste required.

Jiri was asked the next question, this time about whether he has had to face the reality of life without hockey yet. He admitted that he will have to eventually but for now he is just waiting on the results of various tests. He wants to know why it happened, why then and not at some earlier stage in his career or at such an early stage in the game.

Colucci then had to answer (A) whether or not he would clear Jiri now, (B) whether or not he would clear Jiri ever and (C) what exactly happened to Jiri's heart that not. For the first two, he said he would not clear Jiri now and would not speculate on a timetable for anything in the future. As for the third, he said that Jiri's heart was in an irregular rhythm and that the AED (electricity) was required to get his heart out of it. Apparently, the AED's effect is analogous to holding down your computer's power button to force it to turn off. So, after the AED did its bit, Jiri's heart did stop and Colucci began CPR. He said Jiri's heart came back on its own after that.

Finally, Jiri was asked what it was like not to know what happened or why. He replied that it was a lot better than not being alive. He said he had been getting a lot of support from around the league, having received many phone calls from a number of players. He pointed out that he had always felt "perfectly fine," and that his blood pressure, for example, had always been "just about perfect."

With that, the conference ended.

Jiri mentioned a couple times that he felt as though he had been born twice and gotten a second life. He also mentioned a belief in "faith" (or "fate," couldn't quite tell), that he's always believed in some higher power, crediting this for his survival.

Whatever your future in hockey, Jiri, you were one of the nice guys from Detroit during the Ducks tenure in Cincy. You were a good dman and a great person. We wish you the very best in your recovery and hope to see you on the ice again.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Posted by Mark at 10:50 AM

Former Cincy Duck Penner Makes Big Splash!

Bryz Proves His Worth as Jiggy Still Hurt

From NHL.Com:
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - One thing Anaheim rookie Dustin Penner has is confidence.

Penner scored his first two NHL goals on power plays and assisted on another by Teemu Selanne, leading the Mighty Ducks to a 6-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night.

"I expect myself to be able to produce at this level," said Penner, a 23-year-old right wing who was called up four games ago from Springfield of the AHL. "I felt I could play up here, and now I just hope I can stay here and help the team win games."

Selanne extended his goal-scoring streak to five games and rookie Chris Kunitz scored on a breakaway 8 seconds later in the second period, setting a franchise record for the shortest span between goals.

Joffrey Lupul also scored for Anaheim, helping stake goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a 4-0 lead against a team that entered with the second-best goals-against average in the NHL. Zenon Konopka scored on a power play with 2:46 remaining.

Bryzgalov made 16 saves for the Ducks, who have won four of five - including a 2-1 victory over the Coyotes that snapped a club record-tying eight-game losing streak. Four of their 11 wins this season have come in the five games they've played against their Pacific Division rivals. Their three remaining meetings are all in March.

Phoenix's Mike Leclerc scored his ninth goal of the season and fourth in eight shots against the Ducks, who traded him to the Coyotes in August for a conditional draft choice in 2007.

The Ducks killed off all four Phoenix power plays in the first period - three during the first 8:06 - and didn't record their first shot on net until Francois Beauchemin's slap shot from just inside the blue line hit David LeNeveu high on the chest at the 9:53 mark. But they still outshot the Coyotes 35-17.

Penner helped set up Selanne's 15th goal with a long lead pass to Andy McDonald, who momentarily had the puck tangled up in his skates at the left of the net before making a perfect cross-ice feed to Selanne near the right post. The Ducks won the ensuing faceoff, and Kunitz cruised down the slot before beating LeNeveu with a short backhander.

Penner made it 4-0 with an unassisted goal at 17:07 of the second. He beat LeNeveu with a 20-foot wrist shot while Ladislav Nagy was serving a hooking penalty.

"I had a lot of open ice and I was just taking my time getting up there, seeing if I could get some guys coming with me to make it a 3-on-1," Penner said. "Once I got close enough, I thought I might as well shoot. Once you get one, the weight is taken off your shoulders and the game gets easier."

After Leclerc spoiled Bryzgalov's shutout bid, Penner beat LeNeveu to the glove side with a 15-foot wrist shot from the slot while Sean O'Donnell was off for holding.

Lupul, playing in his 100th NHL game, opened the scoring just 20 seconds before the first intermission when he played the puck off the end boards and banked his 10th goal into the net off LeNeveu from a sharp angle.

Dustin Penner, Jon Hedstrom, Chris Kunitz, Ilja Bryzgalov, Zenon Konopka, and emerging forward Joffrey Lupul all cut their teeth in Cincinnati. Best wishes to them on their NHL careers. With the exception of Hedstrom, who didn't talk much, all of these guys are great people on and off the ice, and they are showing they have the ability. I don't care what uniform they wore this year in the AHL, they are and always will be Cincinnati Ducks! Also, Mike LeClerc, former Cincy Duck, is showing his value to the Coyotes, doing well for them this year.

Way to go, Guys!