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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Scattered Thoughts On A Busy Weekend

Now that I have a moment to relax, it's time for some random, unconnected observations and thoughts on the past few days. I went to Minnesota to see Cornell in the NCAA hockey regionals, and then went to San Diego to see U2 kick off their 2005 tour.

-I was disappointed that the recorded voice on the tram in the Minneapolis airport had a British accent. Shouldn't it have a Minnesota accent? Why didn't it say, "Next stop, Terminal C, yah?"

-For a place that bills itself as "The State Of Hockey," I was unimpressed. The Minnesota crowd's cheers were rote and unenthusiastic. Two-thirds of the place cleared out after the Gophers played in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader and didn't watch an exciting Ohio State-Cornell game, and then Sunday's game between the hometown Gophers and the Red didn't even sell out. Yeah, I know, Easter Sunday, but even still - hockey's supposed to be a religion in Minnesota.

-Dave McKee, Cornell's sophomore goalie, is a stud. The guy turned away shot after shot against Minnesota and played a huge role in keeping the Red in the game when they were being outshot about 30-5. The regulation goal he let in was kind of soft, but I'll forgive him that goal because he more than made up for it with his play throughout the weekend (and the season, really). While I'm on the subject of goalies, Maine's Jimmy Howard absolutely stood on his head on Saturday. The guy's glove was huge. He took away several point-blank shots and if his team had given him any offensive support at all, Minnesota wouldn't have been playing on Sunday.

-Where was Cornell's leading scorer, Matt Moulson? I know one skater can't do it all out there, but the guy was practically invisible all weekend. At the end of the second game, it occurred to me that I'd hardly had a thought about him at all during the weekend, good or bad. He did have two assists against Ohio State, so I guess he was doing some work, but I really don't remember him making any momentum-changing plays like I remember from some other players like Mitch Carefoot, Mike Iggulden, the Abbott twins, or Byron Bitz.

-Something is wrong with the NCAA's seeding process when Cornell, seeded fifth overall in the tournament, is forced to play a team like Minnesota in its own building. I don't have a problem with Minnesota having a bigger ice surface than most schools, because the Gophers have to deal with the change when they go on the road. And I don't have a huge problem with host schools being allowed to play in their home rinks for the tournament. My issue is with the inflexibility of the seeding process and how it effectively penalizes a team like Cornell for earning a high seed.

-There are few feelings as instantaneously deflating as that of seeing a sudden-death overtime goal go against your team.

-If you're ever in Minneapolis, do yourself a favor and get breakfast at Hell's Kitchen at 10th and Marquette. Like their slogan says, they've got some "damn good food." I had "bunny biscuits," which had delicious rabbit gravy, and bison sausage, which was awesome. I should really try to find somewhere to get bison here in L.A. It's delicious.

-McCarran Airport in Las Vegas is a scam. They don't have enough seats at the gates, which encourages you to sit down in the seats by the slot machines, which encourages you to play the slots. I lost $10 in five minutes. I'm a sucker.

-I try to get myself seated in an exit row when I fly, preferably in a window seat. I was able to do this for three of my four flights this weekend. On the last flight, I was in an exit row window seat on the left side of the plane. Normally I get stuck sitting next to large sweaty women from red states on these flights, so I was happy to see a girl about my age sit down next to me. As soon as we took off, she spent five minutes trying to force her seat to recline, not realizing that her seat was physically incapable of doing so because the row behind us was also an exit row. Failing that, she then pivoted 45 degrees to her left and put her left leg on the armrest between our seats. Then she rested her arm and her head on her leg. This intruded about six inches into my seat, which is already only about 24 inches wide. I know she was aware of her head and knee digging into my right arm, because she woke up at one point and adjusted her collar. I could understand a four-year old resting her leg on the armrest, but a 20-year old? You've got to be kidding. I should have figured she had no concept of plane etiquette when she brought three carry-ons on board and tried to cram them all under the seat in front of her.

-Bono is an awesome showman. The stage was set up so that people sitting behind the stage could still see, and Bono made sure to spend plenty of time facing the crowd behind him. He constantly worked the audience. The guy knows how to play the rock star card, that's for sure. U2's connection with the crowd was so intense that after the show had ended and the lights were coming on, the fans were still singing along in unison, repeating the last line of the last song.

-At one point, Bono got down on all fours and crawled along the catwalk into the crowd like, well, a cat. Bono is probably the only guy in his mid-40s who can get away with doing something like that and still looking cool. Maybe that explains why the guy next to me at the concert wanted to be Bono. He spent the entire concert as though he was playing in a simultaneous U2 cover band. He played every chord on an air guitar while singing every word.

-For a guy who's been singing as long as Bono has, he still has an incredibly powerful and passionate voice. He hit tough notes with a precise strength that was really, really impressive. I guess that's why he's the lead singer of one of the best and most successful bands of the last quarter-century.

-The San Diego Sports Arena really needs to work on its parking situation. You'd think that they'd anticipate the occasional sellout and have ample parking. But then you'd be wrong. At least I was able to find a parking spot on the street about a mile from the arena and I didn't have to pay.

-U2 did a great job of mixing up their setlist - some stuff from the new album, some early '80s stuff, and three songs from Achtung Baby, which I was happy to hear, since that was the first U2 album I owned. "One" was flat-out awesome. I should listen to that song more often.

-Do you think Bono's wife calls him "Bono?"


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