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Showing posts from April, 2011

Dethroned

The Hawks kept coming back.

After trailing three games to none against Vancouver, they won three straight and forced a Game Seven. Trailing Game Seven 1-0 inside the last two minutes of regulation, Jonathan Toews tied it up.

Was it destiny? Alas, no. It's hard to see how they could have come any closer. Corey Crawford- who by rights should be one of the candidates for the Calder Cup- stood on his head; Coach Joel Quenville called Crow's performance the greatest exhibition of clutch goaltending he'd ever seen. But when it Alexandre Burrows scored on a knuckle ball of a slapshot 5:22 into overtime, it was the Canucks who would be advancing, and the Hawks who would be going home.

Final score: Vancouver 2, Chicago 1.

My Blackhawks have been dethroned as Stanley Cup champions. They have nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I'm proud of them. And I think the next Stanley Cup will come long, long before we've had to wait another 49 years.

We knew all along that it wouldn&#…

Just a thought...

I wonder whether the younger generation has any idea how ridiculous they look walking around with their pants at half-mast.

I, for one, could operate a zipper, snap, and belt buckle well before I began high school. But I guess educational standards have slipped even more than I realized.

ADDENDUM: I've come across a Facebook posting which offers an explanation that's as plausible as any: "A rapper died, and they're in mourning."

Cool as a cucumber, the Blackhawks force Game Seven

Not quite a week ago, Vancouver led the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks three games to none in the opening round of the 2011 playoffs, and everybody counted the champs out.

Last night Ben Smith's overtime goal gave Chicago a 4-3 victory in Game Six, tying the series at three games each and forcing a decisive seventh game between the Hawls and the team most people picked to win the Cup this year.

The issue will be decided Tuesday night in Vancouver. One thing is certain: the heart of last year's championship team remains, however depleted its talent level may have been by the late Bill Wirtz's final affront to Hawk fans, the salary cap. The coolness of this team- and notably of rookie goalie Corey Crawford, whose exclusion from the ranks of the Calder Cup candidates is hard to justify- under the kind of pressure faced by a defending champion on the brink of elimination has been remarkable.

Whatever may happen from here on out, I feel a great deal better about this…

Pro nobis

Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended,
That we to judge thee have in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by thine own rejected,
O most afflicted! Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee!
'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee;
I crucified thee.Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
The slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered.
For our atonement, while we nothing heeded,
God interceded.For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation,
Thy mortal sorrow, and thy life's oblation;
Thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion,
For my salvation. Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee,
I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee,
Think on thy pity and thy love unswerving,
Not my deserving.


--Johann Heermann, 1585-1647; trans. by Robert S. Bridges, 1844-1930For thoughts on why this day- and not Easter- is the most important day of the Church Year, see this post.

For a Good Friday sermon, see this one.

Victory! The Cup isn't lost yet!

After losing three straight to Vancouver, the Blackhawks blew the Canucks out of the rink for the second straight game last night- this time in Vancouver.

Final score: Chicago 5, Vancouver 0. Goalie Corey Crawford- snubbed when it came to the nominations for the Calder Cup (Rookie of the Year) despite being among the statistical leaders in wins while only having started half the season- shut out the league's leading offense, outshining the Canucks' justly-touted (and defiant) Roberto Luongo.

The Hawks can tie the series and force a seventh game in Vancouver with a victory at the United Center on Sunday. Suddenly, I'm liking their chances.

You may have noticed my pessimism about the post-season. But if the Hawks win this series after having trailed three games to none, all bets are off. Anything can happen. In that case, the defending Stanley Cup champions will have proven that they do win when they really, really have to- the way champions are supposed to.

Proved it four t…

Moot roots

My family history goes a long way back. One ancestor of mine founded the Belfast Newsletter-which may be the oldest continuously published English language newspaper in the world- in 1737. His grandson led Wolfe Tone's Rebellion in Ulster, and went heroically to the gallows in 1798. Like Tone himself, Henry Joy McCracken was a Protestant.

But Joys and McCrackens aside, I really don't know where the last name "Waters-" common not only in Ireland itself, but in both Scotland and England- comes onto the scene. I do know that my grandfather, John Waters, emigrated from our family seat in Belfast, Northern Ireland; his wife, the former Sarah Fisher, was born in Dublin but lived thereafter in Downpatrick. Since Grandfather Waters came to the States to study for the Presbyterian ministry, there seems little doubt that the family originated in Scotland. Of course, many of the lowland Scots in the southwestern part of the country originated in Counties Antrim and Down, and the…

Blackhawks win! Still on life support- but also still alive

The Blackhawks' offense- which has apparently been on vacation during the first three games of the Conference quarter-finals against the Vancouver Canucks- went back to work on Tuesday night.

The Hawks beat Vancouver 7-2 at the UC, staving off elimination. The Canucks now lead the series 3 games to 1.

The bad news is that the defending Stanley Cup champions now have to win three in a row- two of them in Vancouver- in order to stave off elimination. If they can do it, it could be an emotional turning point- especially since Vancouver is the consensus favorite to win the Cup this year.

On the other hand, it's never a good sign when a defending champion's website carries a feature on how hard it is to win the Cup two years in a row. In fairness, though, it's been up there since the playoffs began.

Here's the home team take on Tuesday night's victory, and the steep, grueling road ahead

Vancouver 3, Hawks 2

For the third game in a row, the Good Guys came up a goal short against the Canuckers. Vancouver now leads the best-of-seven series three games to none.

I'm afraid you can pretty much stick a fork in us. We're one and done.

With Corey Crawford in goal the entire season instead of only half of it next year, a better-rested team (some commentators have claimed that the Hawks are exhausted after playing hockey for eight of the last twelve months, But wouldn't that apply to the Flyers, too?) and- hopefully- some major roster moves to improve the penalty kill and shore up the defense,  perhaps the Major's warriors can take a stab at making it two Cups in three years next year. But I have a feeling that it'll take a longer time than that. When push comes to shove, the Hawks are losing to Vancouver because right now Vancouver is a significantly better hockey team than they are.

Dad got to see three Blackhawk Stanley Cups. The first two were four years apart.  The third cam…

Now it's time to worry

The Vancouver Canucks won their first Stanley Cup Playoffs Game Two against the Blackhawks in three years last night, holding off the champs, 4-3. The Bad Guys now lead the series two games to none, with Game Three scheduled for the United Center tomorrow night.

To say that it's a must-win for the Hawks is an understatement.

The Hawks are reported to be showing signs of exhaustion. No doubt. Also signs of missing nine key players due to Dollar Bill Wirtz's salary cap.

Incidentally, the first sentence of the fifth paragraph of the story linked to above contains yet another piece of evidence that educational standards in North America are going down the tubes.

Don't sweat Canucks' Game One victory

Roberto Luongo shut the Hawks out 2-0 Wednesday night in Game One of the opening round of the Good Guys' Stanley Cup defense.

But sweat it not. Vancouver also won Game One last year, and the year before. The Hawks won both series.

They go at it again tonight at Rodgers Arena. It's a bummer that I won't be able to listen very well; WGN Radio doesn't come in very clearly in my apartment, and I won't be able to listen on the internet this year. In fact, since the games start so late, I won't even know the result until I get to a computer tomorrow.

Such are the consequences of living in a state where they think the Hawks are a college football team.

Sigh.

Anyway- go get 'em, champs! ONE GOAL!

The Eleventh Doctor passes custard

Saw my first episode of Dr. Who with Matt Smith Saturday night.

He'll do fine. After David Tennant, we could use a comic Patrick TroughtonSylvester McCoy- Tom Baker type Doctor again. And I have to love anybody who breakfasts on fish sticks and custard, and shows up twelve years late for an appointment he had every intention of being on time for.

Interesting new decorating scheme for the TARDIS, too. Retro is cool.

BTW, I wonder whether the BBC has taken into account the fact that, according to the canonical legend, Time Lords only get to regenerate thirteen times. That being the case, when Smith's successor leaves the role, they'll be casting the Last Doctor- unless they can find a work- around.

Oh, well. They did it for The Master; I assume they'll be able to do it for his nemesis, too. Especially since he's the franchise.

Let's get this straight, Darwinians

There is a certain Gahan Wilson cartoon that I really wish were in the public domain so that I could publish it here. Suffice it to say that, for atheists (and orthodox Darwinians, who by definition must be either atheists or Deists), yes. Nothing is indeed sacred. In more ways than one.

Dr. Kurt Gibberson believes that "Jesus would believe in evolution."

Leaving aside both the fallacy of using the past tense (Jesus isn't dead anymore) and that of forgetting that Jesus, being true God as well as true man, knows rather than believes,  Dr. Gibberson seems to have missed a rather critical point many others also miss.

Darwinian evolution, by its very nature, excludes the possibility of God being in any way involved. It is, by definition, random. Advocates of theistic evolution need to be aware that their view is just as much in conflict with Darwin- and with "orthodox" Darwinists, such as dominate the scientific community- as is creationism.

Scientists, on the oth…

By the skin of our teeth

Who ever heard of the Cubs losing a game they had to have?
-- Frank Chance, "The Peerless Leader," 1908- the year the Cubs won their last World SeriesAll the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks had to do yesterday was to tie the Detroit Red Wings- whom they had thrashed in Detroit the night before, and had beaten four times in a row- in regulation
and the five minute overtime to make the playoffs. And they were playing at home.

Last year they would have done it. No problem. Winning games when a team has to is the hallmark of a champion. But the Hawks just couldn't get it done yesterday.

It was one of the best hockey games I've seen in a long time, and the Hawks certainly didn't lose for want of effort, heart, or discipline. They "left it all out on the ice," as the saying goes. Twice the Wings led by two goals in the third period, and twice the Hawks managed to cut their margin back to one. But when the final buzzer sounded, Detroit had won, 4-3.

Now or never for the champs

The Blackhawks' 4-2 victory over Detroit last night at Joe Louis- their fourth win in a row against the division champion Red Wings- means that all they have to do is tie Detroit in regulation in tomorrow's 11:30 am game at home to make the playoffs. One point is all it will take.

If the Hawks lose in regulation to the Wings, they will need Dallas to also lose in regulation in order to have the chance to defend their championship. On the other hand, the Hawks still could finish as high as fifth in the conference when the dust clears tomorrow night.

This is it, guys. From this point on, you're playing for all the marbles. Hopefully, having to scramble to make the playoffs will prime them to keep scrambling when they get there.

ONE GOAL!

Obama drives Saudis toward China and Russia

The most diplomatically inept administration in recent history has managed to alienate Saudi Arabia to the point where it's making goo-goo eyes at China and Russia.

The Obama administration's handling of the Hosni Mubarak affair was so ham-handed that the Israelis also were reportedly appalled. And anything that can get the Saudis and the Israelis on the same page ought to give even the most dedicated Obamaphile pause.

While the media continue to give this administration a pass, Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden continue to find new and ever more inventive ways to botch crises and alienate our allies. Whatever you thought of his predecessor's foreign policy, at least Dubyah understood the consequences of what he was doing. This guy seems totally clueless.

Finally, Cub fans are standing up for themselves

A great many goody  two-shoes baseball fans bemoan the fact that Cub fans are turning surly. Our usually lovable and gentle and above all loyal (though chronically depressed) race isn't supposed to act that way.

For nearly a century, we stood by our team through thick and think. We put up with ineptitude beyond belief, not only on the field but (more fundamentally) in the front office. We've been teased, to be sure- not only by White Sox and Cardinal fans, but by our own team. From time to time there have been 1969s and 1984s and 2003s and 2007s and 2008s. We have come tantalizingly close- or, failing that, sometimes demonstrated such mastery over our every opponent right up to the moment when it counted that we felt that we were already there. But somehow, the inevitable happened. Somehow, we managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

But some time around the point where Steve Bartman was unjustly made a scapegoat for our 2003 collapse at the last possible moment in t…

The best argument for privatizing the space program yet

Space X has announced the Falcon Heavy- the most powerful operational rocket in the world and second only to the Saturn V as the most powerful booster in history.

I remain skeptical about the ability of the private sector to compete with government-funded man in space programs in Russai, China, and probably in the future Japan, Europe, and India. But if the Falcon Heavy is a success, it will be an impressive achievement, and the best evidence yet that maybe the private sector can operate successfully in that endeavor without embarassing itself or causing the United States to fall any further behind the other spacefaring powers than the Obama decision to pare back government support for the space program makes unavoidable.

The next human beings to walk on the surface of the moon will be Chinese. Thanks to the Obama decision, there is, at this point, precious little that can be done about that. But as skeptical as I remain, maybe the private sector can eventually get us back in the bal…

The Rev. Terry Jones...

is an ass with blood on his hands.

What in the world does burning the Koran accomplish- other than hurting our war effort in Afghanistan and giving his brother whack jobs in the Islamic world another excuse to hate the United States?

Maybe he can get a few Christians martyred in the process. Thing is, Terry... you don't get extra credit for that with God. Rather the reverse, in fact.

Is the jobless part of the recovery ending?

The unemployment rate has defied expectations and fallen to 8.8%- its lowest level since March of 2009.

The unexpected good news has boosted the stock market and inspired some economists with confidence that the "jobless recovery" is ending, and that we are finally headed into a period of expansion for the job market.

For which, thanks be to God.