The days are growing shorter, and there's an Olympics-size hole in your nightly TV schedule. Where else to hang out but at the Bake Shop? We're here at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your questions, concerns, rants, and confessions — and we never judge. The hours and the quality of the food may be unpredictable, and the girl behind the counter might sometimes be kind of a jerk, but hey, isn't that part of the charm?
What's the over/under on the NHL playing a full season? As Kings fans, do we still get to call ourselves the reigning Stanley Cup Champions if the season gets cancelled (knock on wood)?
— Stephen S.
Oh man, I hadn't even thought of this potential drawback to losing a season: that we'll have to deal with amped-up Kings fans for a whole 'nother year. I like how this question leaves you unsure as to whether he's knocking on wood for the season to happen — or whether he's hoping against hope that it's canceled so his Kings can potentially never lose another game. Ahhh, come on, reach an agreement! Do whatever it takes!
Anyway, my position on the potential lockout remains one of cynical optimism: I begin with the premise that I really can't see the league pulling the plug on its cash-cow Winter Classic, and I backtrack from there. Could we see a month or two of the season crumble? We could. Will it be the whole year? I highly doubt it. This labor negotiation is about how to split up a pie. The last one, which cost the league a full season, was different: more like the bakery had burned down, and they had to figure out how to rebuild it.
Yesterday, there was some new action involving the collective-bargaining agreement. Over a month after the NHL presented its opening offer sheet, the Players' Association (led by former MLB player union negotiator Donald Fehr) finally responded. What they did was interesting: Rather than dignify the league's plan on a point-for-point basis — squabbling over entry-level contract particulars here, arbitration details there — they all but ignored it, issuing a clean new vision of their own. (All we need is for a rogue owner to contribute a contradictory "long, rambling letter" and we've got a Cuban missile crisis situation on our hands.)
While not all of the nitty-gritty details in the NHLPA's offer have been made public, what they did seems on the surface to be pretty crafty. The owners sought a reduction in the share of revenues that go to the players (from 57 to 46 percent) in order, they said, to help some of the less-profitable teams remain competitive. The players took that stated goal and turned it around on the owners, offering to take a lower pool of money in the next several years and suggesting more aggressive revenue sharing than the league had in mind. (In return, the NHLPA has asked that the CBA "snap back" to the status quo in Year 4.)
In a sense, they've called the league's bluff and attempted to drive a wedge between the big-market, big-money owners — the ones who would potentially be paying more into revenue sharing under a more widespread plan — and their smaller-scale competition, those poor money-losing franchises that the league loves to use as a human shield during labor negotiations. ("Your proposal would be like KILLING PHOENIX!") While there's still a whole lot of drama and deadlines and ultimatums and 11th hours to come (Fehr used the ominous phrase "meaningful gulf" to describe the space between the two sides' stances), the NHLPA's opening salvo was nothing if not an intriguing turn. So I remain cynically optimistic, and I'll maintain my over/under at the day after Thanksgiving.
I saw that you tweeted about going to Outside Lands. Any good performances stick out?
— Brett A.
To the uninitiated (and thus washed) masses, Outside Lands is a three-day music festival in Golden Gate Park with a wide-ranging lineup that this year included Big Boi, Neil Young, and Robert Mays's obscure staff pick of Metallica. (It also featured a trio of bands named Tennis, Yacht, and Mimosa, which is how I got tricked into showing up.)
I always like concerts, but I've just never felt like I'm good at them. I arrive way too early or late, show up too messed up or not nearly enough, know only the words to the songs that the bands roll their eyes about having to play. Music festivals are even more fraught: all the walking around, or worse, the staying put. You know those lovely concertgoing nymphs who can loll seamlessly around on a blanket, moving from a half sit-up position to Indian style to on stomach and elbows, roll and repeat, without flashing strangers or kneeing friends in the process? I know them too, because I stare at them, because I will never be one of them because I'm always tugging on my jeans so my butt isn't showing, and why does my hair never look like that?
Outside Lands is an insanely short bike ride from my house, though, so I really had no excuse not to at least stop by every day. And while I had a great time with friends on Saturday, and Stevie Wonder was excellent on Sunday night, it was the Friday session — which I attended only for a few hours, and alone — that was kind of the best. Hanging out with yourself in such a crowded environment is a trip. You see one strange little thing after another, wish you had a buddy there to point them all out to, but know that if you did you probably wouldn't have noticed any of it to begin with.
So I did what any reasonable person in my situation would do: I passed notes to myself via my iPhone. All of the following are actual items I e-jotted down:
Edmonton Oilers flat brim hat
Yellow Lakers Rambis jersey
Awesome Mutombo rainbow Nuggets jersey
Weird seeing Beck old
Beck looks like a cross between Tom Petty and David Spade
Beck covering Neil Young song
Almost just ate a tater tot off the ground
Got yelled at by a hot blond girl for throwing away my plate instead of composting it
Following a woman in a wheelchair through a crowd = driving behind an ambulance
Guy with a button-down shirt, a hot pink cast on his wrist, and Wayfarers
Tie-dye store. Girl: "I have two skirts, a shirt, and this like, dress thing? from this guy. He's the best."
Bought tie-dye shirt, got a tie-dye dollar with my change
Booth selling jewelry made out of "disarmed and recycled nuclear missle systems"
Found tent showing football games. Chatting with two dudes about going to a Raiders game.
"You have to be drunk, or you'll be scared."
All in all, a successful evening, even if I shudder to think about how much dirt-dust I breathed into my lungs. Oh, and to more specifically answer your question, the last note I made to myself before my phone died for the night: "Of Monsters and Men = pretty great."
Has the sport of diving evolved at all in the last 30 years? If so could even anyone tell? They need a Jonny Moseley Nagano '98 moment.
— Robert S.
Oh yes, that Jonny Moseley run is one of the great "I could watch this on a loop all day long and it would be like visual Xanax" YouTubes. (The announcer saying "he was in the air FOREVER!" is the best.) Go to the 30-minute mark here:
Anyway, I ran this diving question by a friend of mine who dove in college and she wrote back immediately: "hhahah yes! absolutely! they are doing front FOUR and a halves now!! and inward four and a halves! this is completely absurd. Just google Greg Louganis dive list and the 3 meter guys dive lists from this summer and you will see MAJOR differences. I will google the dive lists to compare. the answer is yes absolutely. i will find evidence."
She never did write back. So I'm left to offer this assessment: I seem to recall, when it came to diving, paying much closer attention to the various judges back in the day. Like, to the point where it was totally OK to exclaim things like "Ugh, that ROMANIAN JUDGE again!" while spitting on the floor in disgust. Why doesn't that happen anymore? I miss that. The Norwegian ref who screwed over Canada in soccer was as close as it came.
I'm not sure if it's just because they were editing the diving for prime time so we missed all the dead time between dives, or if it's because of a new scoring system, or what. But that would be my no. 1 suggestion for diving. The synchronized stuff is crazy and all, but bring back the score-settling judges!
As a member of the media, how do you feel about the comments made by Hope Solo ("@brandichastain should be helping 2 grow the sport") and Lolo Jones (" … U.S. media — like, I mean, they should be supporting our U.S. Olympic athletes … ")? Are they saying that you and your colleagues should forego objectivity and become propangandists, a la North Korea? Is this attitude detrimental to the cause of women's professional sports being viewed seriously in this country? Could you imagine if Torts made comments like that every time Larry Brooks put pen to paper?
— Bobby T.
With the way you so deftly segued from disgruntled athletes seeking safety from friendly fire to provocative comparisons with North Korea, I'm thinking you might be a member of the media yourself. You're just a few one-sentence paragraphs ("Sounds familiar.") away from the perfect newspaper column!
In theory, I see what you're saying, but the Olympics are such a unique situation that it's hard to compare them to the rigors of an ongoing professional season. For one thing, the athletes and coaches who went to London weren't nearly as well versed in managing the media; this makes them a joy to cover, but it also means there's a lot more room for controversy to slip in. Then there's the truth that pretty much everyone is a propagandist when it comes to the Olympics, whether they admit it or try to deny or avoid it. Plus, it's the Olympics! This isn't just sports, this is the collision of sports and nationalism and money and corruption and pride and independence and entertainment. When you start to think of it that way, things make a little more sense.
In other words: The comments made by SoLolo didn't really reflect on women's professional sports, in my opinion; they reflected, as did everything else for those two joyous weeks, on the Olympics. And the way the American women dominated the highlights, it's not a surprise that they were present in the lowlights as well. There was a lot to hate about the whole Lolo Jones situation — from the breathless news segments about her virginity to the oddly antagonistic backlash in the New York Times — but it put a valuable spotlight on the way the whole machine operates.
As for Hope Solo, I actually sort of loved her Twitter clash with Brandi Chastain; it's exactly the kind of skirmish I've seen professional men get into on the regular, and it's made even juicier when you read the details of Solo's 2007 suspension from the national team at the hands of many of Chastain's contemporaries. (Brandi herself had since retired.) What struck me most about it wasn't the existence of the drama itself, but rather how representative it was of both Solo and the brash, swaggering attitude of the women's team in general. I don't think I've ever seen anyone belt out the anthem so loudly.
This question has been haunting me for some time. I've been lucky enough to know some very cool, intelligent, grounded females in my life. However, without fail, every female I've ever known watches THE WORST TELEVISION SHOWS. Why? Is it some obscure chromosome (XXbTV?)? Is it a particular characteristic of estrogen? Furthermore, they will freely admit how contrived a particular reality show is (The Bachelor), or how ridiculous the premise of some melodrama is (Army Wives), but they will miss these shows over THEIR DEAD BODY. Why? Help so I can sleep tonight.
— Tom B.
I want to answer your question, but first I need to get through my DVR backlog of Say Yes to the Dress, Miss Advised, Property Virgins, Sister Wives, all of the Kardashiterations but Keeping Up With the in particular; Snapped, La La's Full Court Life, Man v. Food, and whatever original film featuring Jennie Garth and Judith Light is now airing on LMN. Hey, at least I don't watch crap like The Newsroom.
During my college years, some of the most memorable times revolved around 80s themed events. Checking out the local goodwill stores for priceless gems was always an adventure.
Now that we are more than a decade removed from the 1990s, is it now socially acceptable to have 90s themed parties? I hope the answer is yes. I've been saving my Surf Style windbreaker for just such an occasion.
— Rob K.
There are two things they don't really warn you enough about when you're about to graduate from college: (1) that you'll most likely never have access to such a ridiculous (nerd alert) library again, and (2) that your set of opportunities to don that Afro wig or those purple Lennon-y sunglasses or this adhesive creeper 'stache or this vaguely Dolphins-inspired pair of Zubaz or whatever else you have in that weird "party" drawer is going to drop precipitously from, say, twice weekly to a few times a year if you're lucky. (You might get a little additional mileage out of the 'stache.)
Needless to say, this is the worst! One day you not only have instant, free, and well-appointed access to pretty much any and all information that's ever been fit to print (oh, and fast Internet too), you also have an entire working staff of university employees whose job descriptions somehow include doing, with great cheer, 90 percent of your research for you. ("Have I showed you the capabilities of the ProQuestReader ScoutPlus database yet?") The next day? You're in a hot basement lair 19 subway stops from your apartment, surrounded by drifters checking Facebook before their 10 minutes of access are up, trying to force-feed a dollar in nickels into the Xerox to photocopy an article that vaguely has something to do with this thing you were thinking of writing, and ugh! The damn thing is jammed again! Those idiots who try to use pennies —
Oh, sorry, the costumes, we were talking about the costumes. (Seriously, though, I panhandle for LexisNexis log-ins the way most people try to scalp concert tickets.) Gone are the days when a body could cut his or her Friday classes to drive to the strip mall district located adjacent to (or in some cases, within) all American college campuses to get geared up for a toga party or the latest go-round of CEOs & Secretary Hos. Gone are the nights that are nothing but blatant excuses to use crimping irons ("Let's go bowling! No, wait — let's go '80s Prom bowling!") or wear spandex. ("Olympics party tonight! Shotgun on the boner rower!") Sure, we can still have costume parties, but they aren't quite the same.
What this all comes down to is that you're more than justified in having a '90s party, because if any decade can help make you have fun making yourself look ridiculous, it's that one. There are so many directions to take it: You can go grungey, or gangsta, or Cher-in-Clueless, or just normal Cher; you can be Wiccan, or Will Smith, or Web 1.0. You can draw from the awesomest year for music as a soundtrack, or go with a more boy-band-based cut of the later part of the decade. You can wear Starter or slap bracelets or, best of all, Surf Style. The last one probably pairs best with a li'l spritz of Sun-In.
What is the one culinary option you find yourself craving/missing the most now that you're no longer in NYC?
— Andy R.
PIZZA. I miss pizza so much. A mediocre piece of random NYC pizza consumed between 3 and 4 a.m. in a cab is the most delicious foodstuff in the whole world, and it just doesn't exist in San Francisco. (For starters, you'd never find a taxi at that hour.) When I go back to NYC I plan my itinerary almost entirely around procuring a late-night slice — which means I just do whatever I want, because you can get them everywhere. It's so magical. I can't believe I ever took it for granted, or ever thought — as I did for a few months this spring — that California's tempting burritos could take pizza's place in my heart. This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the thing I love and respect the most: pizza. I love it, I love it, I'm so sorry.
I've always wondered how a player, team, and city can co-exist after a situation like we just saw with Shea Weber and the Predators. I mean the guy basically just looked Nashville in the eye and said "I want to go to Philly." I know the stock answer is that they are professionals and it's a business, but it can't be that simple. Is there an example from the common man's life that parallels Weber going from "in a relationship" to "it's complicated" with Nashville?
— Brian D.
I would say that it's akin to each member of a newlywed couple asking the other to go out to dinner because both have something they want to tell the other, then as they're waiting for the entrées neither of them can handle the pressure anymore and one of them blurts out "There's someone else" at the same time the other one announces "I'm pregnant."
However, the example doesn't really translate exactly, because unless you're old-fashioned there's nothing specifically keeping the two people bound together for the sake of a child. When the Nashville Predators decided to match the terms of an offer sheet extended by the Philadelphia Flyers to defenseman Shea Weber, on the other hand, he became contractually committed to the Nashville Predators for 14 long years. (If that were a kid, it'd be old enough to ship away to boarding school!)
It was an uncomfortable situation all around, and it didn't help that Weber's agents — the meddling aunties of the layperson scenario — had been running their mouths about how all into Philly their client had become. Weber, for his part, defused a lot of the tension after the Predators matched the deal, saying all the right things with what scanned as appropriate sincerity.
But there remains one highly awkward loose end: Weber and the Predators have still not agreed to terms on a no-trade or a no-movement clause. Weber wants one, but because of the way the offer sheet process works and the specifics of the deal he signed with Philly, Nashville is under no obligation to include such an arrangement. And why would they? Even if it might make Weber happy, the Predators would only be limiting their own future options should things go sour. It's as if, after agreeing to stay together in the example above, the husband then had the balls to retroactively ask for a prenup.
I grew up in Simsbury — a Hartford suburb — as a die hard Whalers fan (I swear we existed … I used to watch the first period or two then fall asleep to Chuck Kaiton's play-by-play on WTIC 1080). Alas, they were savagely taken away when I was 12 years old and I've been an NHL atheist ever since. Two questions sort of related to this: 1) Does the hockey nation at-large realize the extent to which people in Connecticut still rock their Whalers gear, and 2) Do you see ANY chance that they ever exist again? I tell everybody who will listen and lots of people that won't that one day I'm going to win the Powerball jackpot, buy some southern NHL franchise, and restore the Whalers' glory.
— Ryan G.
Two years ago a company called Mitchell & Ness that makes NHL-licensed retro-y shirts and the like told the Hartford Courant that Whalers apparel was one of their top sellers — and not only locally, as in the Hartford airport. "Nationally, [the Whalers are] in the top five, no problem," a representative said. In a nod to the team's legacy, the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack changed its name that year to become the Connecticut Whale.
More recently, Howard Baldwin — an entrepreneur and producer who has been involved in numerous hockey ownership groups and was hoping to engage in a campaign to bring the NHL back to Hartford — told Hockey Prospectus's Timo Seppa that Hartford was, per Emile Francis, "the Green Bay of hockey" and that "we've got plenty of Whaler fans. The Whaler brand is the 11th-best selling brand in the National Hockey League, whether you know it or not. We're not even in the league."
This doesn't surprise me. Hartford — the Whale — may only have beaten Vancouver once, maybe twice in a lifetime, but they sure did look sharp in the process. The old Whalers logo ("a marriage of convenience between a whale's tale and a 'W' letterform, creating the 'H,' for Hartford, by virtue of the negative space") is the best, as were the old Whalers colors, that Kelly green in particular. (I still think the Minnesota Wild should go all-out bright green, North Stars references be damned.)
Unfortunately, and even though I'd love it, I don't see an NHL team on Hartford's horizon anytime soon. Baldwin has tried to make something happen for a few years now, but things clearly haven't gone all too well. Still, I salute your plan of attack. As the Courant's Jeff Jacobs wrote last week: "Until a sugar daddy/hockey nut with Connecticut ties drops out of the sky and is willing to bankroll a new arena and team, Hartford has no chance right now." He didn't include Powerball-winning hockey atheists in that equation, but I have a feeling it was implied.
I spent my summer working at a summer camp with 5-7 year old boys. I went home every night and complained to my roommate about them but when I woke up this morning and camp was over I just broke down realizing that i'll never see them again and that summer is really over. Make me feel better Katie.
— David N.
This question falls under the (potentially broad) category of "things that will probably get you put on an FBI watch list but that I understand completely." I spent many summers working at camps and/or clubs, and the only thing more unsettling than my party trick of imitating the snack bar orders of all the kiddos right down to their chirping cadences — "KitKat-annaSPRITE!," "Um, um, um, chicken, um, um, fingers," "Redgatorade-OR-purplesecondchoice" — was how much I missed those little monsters and their spoiled sweetness. (These days I'm friends with some of them on Facebook; the sweetness has burned off.) I think it's because their freckled faces are such snapshots in time. It's hard to know what's more depressing: the thought of never seeing them again, or the reality of running into them a year or two later, them having grown just slightly ganglier, grosser, less innocent, second grade having corrupted them with all the choice bad words. The closing trunk of their mom's packed-up-for-the-summer Volvo wagon is really the drumbeat of the slow death march of time.
I'm sensing this all might not be helping you feel any better. Unfortunately, getting over the demise of these children and/or your summer (last night I noticed with terror that it was already dark at 8:30; those 4:45 sunsets feel practically days away) is like any bad breakup: You just have to sleep a lot and take comfort in knowing that what you're feeling is a pain so universal and so human that entire songs have been written about it. This one's the most obvious, but that's why I'll recommend it the most.