(In which Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)
5 – The offseason
I don’t know if you nice folks caught it over the weekend, but the KHL started its preseason. Can you believe it? It’s not even July and hockey’s already back. Sorta. I mean, it’s only the KHL, but still! Hockey is back! It’s been a long five weeks but I can breathe easy now.
Give me all the Barys Astana games!!!
4 – These Olympics, man
Last week it came out the AHL is going to let AHLers who aren’t on two-way NHL contracts go play in the Olympics and represent their countries and all that stuff. I don’t know if we were supposed to be surprised by that but okay, sure.
The caliber of player on AHL-only deals is, uhh, not very good. Even AHL lifers are often on two-way deals that just pay them a bunch of money for playing at the AHL level.
Chris Mueller, for example, was way up there on the AHL’s scoring list last season, and has 53 NHL games to his name at age 31. You wouldn’t mistake him for an NHLer. Is Mueller a good player? Sure he is. He’s much better than the vast majority of even professional hockey players in the world. But also, even though he’s an AHL player, he’s technically on a two-way deal. That means, no Chris Mueller in the Olympics.
I know we all got a chance to get very excited about “alternative schedules” for the NHL and all that, but that was never a likely outcome, was it? Did people think an unsourced Russian outlet’s take on this was in any way definitive? I know Tyler Dellow had a nice little writeup about why it was technically possible that the theory was correct, I have to say I didn’t believe it for a second.
While it’s never a good idea to take Gary Bettman at his word, but his whole “I don’t know how much clearer I can be that the NHL isn’t going to the Olympics” thing over the past few months felt extremely genuine.
Like, these Olympics are going to be fascinating just because of all the non-NHL machinations that have to take place — and hell, Willie Desjardins is coaching Canada for reasons I can’t possibly fathom — but one thing I can tell you for sure is the hockey isn’t exactly going to be high-level.
Time to give up on that.
3 – Politicking
Here’s Brian MacLellan, who lost young, solid-middle-pairing guy Nate Schmidt for nothing while holding on to a very bad defenseman in Brooks Orpik, saying actually it’s perfectly good that he did this: “We like Schmidt, but it’s not as huge a deal as people are making it out to be.”
I mean technically that is a very true statement. Again, Schmidt scans as a solid middle-pairing guy and while he might have a little more to reveal about his potential, this isn’t what’s going to make or break the Capitals’ chances next season.
Now, as for MacLellan’s whole strategy of how to add useful veterans over the past few years — overpay them and worry about the consequences later — well, that is what’s breaking the Capitals’ chances next season.
So yeah MacLellan is right about the overreaction to losing Nate Schmidt, but he’s very wrong about how this whole mess reveals the problems he’s brought on himself. It’s about what you value, right? And saying “Well we can afford to lose Nate Schmidt” shows that while that’s technically true, also you have to kinda dance around the subject a bit to really say what does and doesn’t matter.
2 – Mika Zibanejad
I think I probably like Mika Zibanejad more than a lot of people in the hockey media. He was a great replacement for Derick Brassard insofar as he was younger, cheaper, and slightly better.
But I really do wonder about this contract. Not so much because I don’t think he’s not-worth-it, but more because I wonder if it leads to poisoned perceptions of him. Five years and a $5.35 million AAV ain’t bad for a player of his caliber, but he’s a year away from being the highest-paid forward on the Rangers and this is a Rangers team that’s probably not going to be very good in the near future.
So the thing for Zibanejad is: “How much is being a scapegoat worth?”
I think he’s probably a high-end No. 2 center in the league overall, maybe a low-end No. 1. That’s what Derek Stepan is, for the record, so he’s not a bad replacement. But having two of those guys is a huge advantage over having only one.
So when Zibanejad, who didn’t exactly draw the tough assignments last season, is drawing the tough assignments in 2017-18 and beyond, what’s that look like for the Rangers? I don’t know, but I have a feeling it’s going to lead to a lot of Ranger fans — uninformed though they may be — saying actually it’s his fault the Rangers are bad now.
It probably won’t be, but that never stopped anyone.
1 – Evgeni Malkin
It’s very good that a Russian news outlet said Evgeni Malkin is the best Russian NHLer of all-time.
They’re right. I love Evgeni Malkin. What a player!
(Not ranked this week: Not signing Jagr.
It is now getting a little silly. Officially. Jaromir Jagr is skating with a Czech club for now, but every suggestion is that NHL teams are shortchanging him. This is easily — EASILY — a $4 million player in terms of the value he delivers, but he’s probably going to make much shorter money than that if he comes back to the league.
And it’s to teams’ detriment, quite frankly. The number of teams that could use a good-in-the-room, lovable future Hall of Famer who’s still a top-30 player at his position, and just happens to be a workout freak that makes young players in particular better? It’s at roughly 31. This is one of those things where you literally can’t make an argument against him, apart from his age, and even then, that whole discussion should have been settled some time ago; he doesn’t break down as the season goes on, which is because of that whole “workout freak” thing.
So sign Jagr. You honestly won’t regret it at all.)
Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.
(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)
A novella by Heather Rose Jones, Three Nights at the Opera (2014), prequel to Daughter of Mystery.
There was indeed a new Catherine Fox, Realms of Glory, delivered to my Kobo well in time to beguile my journeyings. Very good.
Alex Hall, Glitterland (2013): m/m contemporary romance, which was an absolute page-turner and I will even give it a degree of pass on the phonetic rendering of Estuarine speech, on the grounds that this might be down to the first-person narrator's attempt to depict Difference.
Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky (2016): I had a bit of a problem with the rather gender-stereotypical allocation of science vs magic, and also with the way that both of them, in particular Patricia, are shown as coming to their powers as a result of familial dysfunction and school bullying (are US high schools really quite so generally toxic as literature would have me believe?), which is not that dissimilar in its rather Spartan overtones to the ethos of the military school to which Laurence is briefly sent. But I read on.
Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Djinni (2013) - there were parts where I thought this was a bit slow, and possibly about showing off the author's research, but then it all came together with all the threads meshing at the end.
On the go
The end is almost in sight with Prince of Tricksters. Also continuing with Rejected Essays and Buried Thoughts, as and when.
Well, I have lately had delivered to my Kobo Kate Elliott's Buried Heart (2017), conclusion (?) to the Court of Fives series. But I've also, finally, received Monica Ferris's cozy mystery, Knit Your Own Murder (2016), at last a) out in paperback and b) actually in the mailer received from the seller.
Eager to punish Russia for meddling in the 2016 election, the House has overwhelmingly backed a new package of sanctions against Moscow that prohibits [Donald] Trump from waiving the penalties without first getting permission from Congress.
Lawmakers passed the legislation, 419-3, clearing the far-reaching measure for action by the Senate. If senators move quickly, the bill could be ready for Trump's signature before Congress exits Washington for its regular August recess. The Senate, like the House, is expected to pass the legislation by a veto-proof margin. The bill also slaps Iran and North Korea with sanctions.
The 184-page measure serves as a rebuke of the Kremlin's military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed President Bashar Assad. It aims to hit Putin and the oligarchs close to him by targeting Russian corruption, human rights abusers, and crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports.
"It is well past time that we forcibly respond," said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Trump hasn't threatened to reject the bill even though Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other senior administration officials had objected to a mandated congressional review should the president attempt to ease or lift the sanctions on Russia. They've argued it would infringe on the president's executive authority and tie his hands as he explores avenues of communication and cooperation between the two former Cold War foes.
But Trump's persistent overtures to Russia are what pushed lawmakers to include the sanctions review. Many lawmakers view Russia as the nation's top strategic adversary and believe more sanctions, not less, put the U.S. in a position of strength in any negotiations with Moscow.
Trump's "rhetoric toward the Russians has been far too accommodating and conciliatory, up to this point," said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa.
In sum, Trump's behavior toward Russia has become so alarming that even Republicans now understand they have to do something about it — so they've enacted a safeguard to ensure he can't just unilaterally ditch the sanctions they've voted to impose on the nation who attacked our election process.
Putin is not going to be happy about sanctions designed to "hit Putin and the oligarchs close to him" by targeting, among other things, "crucial sectors of the Russian economy." He's going to be very angry, in fact. And he's going to be very frustrated that the Made in America presidential puppet he bought isn't doing his bidding.
Russia threatened to retaliate against new sanctions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, saying they made it all but impossible to achieve the Trump administration’s goal of improved relations.
The measures push U.S.-Russia ties into uncharted territory and "don't leave room for the normalization of relations" in the foreseeable future, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday, according to the Interfax news service.
Hope "is dying" for improved relations because the scale of "the anti-Russian consensus in Congress makes dialogue impossible and for a long time," Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, said on Facebook. Russia should prepare a response to the sanctions that's "painful for the Americans," he said.
Russia is just openly, publicly threatening to attack the U.S. in a way that is "painful" for the civilian population if our president doesn't do whatever they want (which is painful for us in a different way).
What is Trump going to do? Even if he vetoes the sanctions bill, it has a veto-proof majority and will likely get passed without his signature. Then what? Russia isn't going to care that the imposition of sanctions are out of Trump's hands.
On Friday, July 14th, the girlfriend and I went over to the Animal Adoption Center here in Jackson. Someone came home with us. We still don't have a name for her (I've suggested Purrito, but that's been vetoed. Given the date she came home, maybe I should push for Marianne).
What do you do if your significant other thinks that you will go no where with your dream?
My boyfriend is a well known, local photographer. He does mainly fashion photo-shoots and is honestly, very talented at what he does.
I’m newly, discovering modeling. I had tried it before when I was younger; but, it didn’t workout since I had acne. I didn’t get my face cleared until I was almost 30 (ancient in modeling years). But I enjoy my hobby. I have discovered this new passion of mine. Walking on the runway feels great and I get a lot of compliments on my walk! People want to book me for shows, work with me in photos and I even try their new designs! Its very exciting.
I even came up with a concept for a photo-shoot. I made a head-piece, found a makeup artist, made sure to communicate how I want the lighting and am going to see my idea come into fruition. I would have never believed, I could bring that many people together to make an image. But, I can!
It all sounds great… but, my boyfriend doesn’t believe I’ll go anywhere. He’s made so many comments about the photos we’ve done together. He’s literally told me, “You’re not Naomi Campbell,” and he’s even tried to hide a photo-shoot he was doing with a couple of models from California… saying, “You would only be jealous of their careers.” And then invited me to hold the lights.
I have no idea what to do. I told him, I’m not jealous of anyone, but the fact that he got nervous about telling me was odd. I honestly, thought it was because he was going to flirt with them; not because “You’ll be jealous of their careers.”
I’m not sure where he would get a comment like that in the first place? And I’m tired of him trying to put me down with his harsh criticism. He told me, he would say things like that, because he works in a an industry where its normal for people to say those things… However, he’s had a TON of other photo-shoots and has never told anyone else these things? I guess, I don’t understand.
I know, he doesn’t believe I will walk in New York Fashion Week. He’s reminded me that I’m 5’7″, on a daily basis, saying he’s just giving me a “Realistic perspective.” But I never asked him. I also, didn’t even have that as a goal… I just, honestly like what I’m doing. Its inspired me to create things, to try new adventures and meet new people.
My heart is kind of broken because he’s the one person, I thought, would believe in me. Or at least, be proud of me…. instead, all I get is “You’re not Naomi Campbell.”
I told him he could no longer take my photos. We can no longer work together. And I have no time to doubt myself. I work a full-time day job. I have shows booked until November and I want to plan more things! There should be no time wasted on being self-conscious.
We have talked about this issue a lot over the last few days and we worked out some resolutions we are both happy with; along with boundaries of not working together anymore…
But there is still this pain, knowing that he doesn’t believe I can do this. I tell myself, I never needed anyone before, why would I still want his approval?
What should I do?
Half of me, thinks that we can still be together despite this. Because I am quite old, it’s too late to walk the New York runways. I wouldn’t even qualify for them at my height. He has a point…
But there is that other part of me, that still wants to continue. That never wants to place a ceiling on my passion… And that part, is extremely hurt, the love of my life wants to give me a “reality check.”
Thanks in Advance,
The Independent Model
Dear Independent Model,
If you want to talk “reality checks” I checked with Reality and it said “Hey, you’re already a model!”
You’re already a model. You are creating photo shoots. You are walking runways. You are being booked for work. You are already doing it. You have a gorgeous attitude about the work and the adventure of meeting new people and making beautiful images. You have me kind of dying to see your photos because you sound so positive and cool and I want to see the face of the person who makes me feel this excited reading about her work! Just from your letter I can tell that you are stunning and striking and that people want to be around you.
Your boyfriend is right about what people sometimes say about and to models in the fashion industry. In a student film I made long ago there is a scene where two women pick apart the appearance of a third (the scene starts around 5:40). The actresses who play the stylists both worked as models a lot and their dialogue was improvised 100% out of things people have said to them in real life. They were expected to stand there and not react because “professionalism.” It’s shitty and hurtful and objectifying, and just because it happens in real life doesn’t mean you have to internalize and live it like it’s the truest thing about you. And it doesn’t mean that your boyfriend has to contribute to it, to participate in it. Is this how he talks to all the models he knows? Or does he save it all for you, the woman he supposedly loves? Either way, misogyny and cruelty are not a good look, dude.
It’s okay to not collaborate with your romantic parter even if you are in the same field. It’s actually smart to put boundaries around that sometimes. I need my husband and I to to love each other even if we never make anothermovie or write another word, or even if we make stuff that’s terrible. If the relationship only goes well when the work goes well, then there’s a fear that if the work goes badly it will make the relationship go badly. So, it’s okay to decide not to cross the streams of work and also smart for you to seek out other photographers. That’s not even the problem here.
The problem is that I think his comments about you being jealous of other people’s careers are him projecting all over the place. He’s jealous of other photographers and their careers. He’s jealous of you, for launching into the space he thought was his alone, the space where he has authority and gets to pretend he’s a gatekeeper of some sort, the space where he thought his giant lens gave him power to decide what’s beautiful enough. He’s jealous of you for blowing the doors off the illusion that he’s some sort of tastemaker. He’s jealous of you for not accepting what he thought were the rules of your industry. He’s jealous of you because you’ve already surpassed his expectations and he can tell that you are about to surpass him. He’s jealous of you because you’re not jealous when he works with other models, and it would be cool if that made you sort of jealous, because it would make him feel powerful. He’s jealous of you for being braver than he is, and instead of sitting with that discomfort and deciding, whoa, my girlfriend is AWESOME, he’s chosen the path of “Well, don’t get your hopes up, babe.”
Go ahead and get your hopes up, lovely Letter Writer. Get your hopes up about creating new work and expressing yourself and enjoying what you do for as long as you want to do it. And get your hopes all the way up about finding a partner who will celebrate you and believe in you. Your boyfriend is not that guy. He is a small man with a limited vision and a smaller heart. You, on the other hand, are a g.d. Valkyrie. It’s never going to work, I’m sorry. You’ll never be able to make yourself small enough to fit into the box he thinks is marked “girlfriend.” You’ve already outgrown it, and him.
Break up. Be sad for a while. Keep going with your dream. The world holds all the “reality checks” and rejection and doubt and failure any of us will ever need. We don’t actually need any of that from people who say they love us.
On summer scorchers, Korean tradition calls for a boiling bowl of chicken, rice and ginseng that’s believed to work better than anything cold. By DAVE KIM Recipe: Samgyetang (Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup)
Eighteen year-old Nate Ziegler has problems. A dead boy's ghost dwells in the crawl space above Nate's walk-in closet; the ghost won't leave Nate alone. Nate's cross-country teammate is an astrology freak; he wants to recruit Nate as his disciple. Nate's new boyfriend is an emotional mess; he's a victim of physical and psychological abuse. And Nate's parents don't even know Nate is gay. How will he deal with it all?
Add your review of "The House on Fremont Drive" in comments!
Donald Trump's campaign to cajole Attorney General Jeff Sessions into quitting continued into the afternoon yesterday, as he said during a press conference in the Rose Garden: "I am disappointed in the Attorney General. He should not have recused himself [from the Russia probe] almost immediately after he took office. And if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and I would have, quite simply, picked somebody else. So I think that's a bad thing not for the president, but for the presidency. I think it's unfair to the presidency. And that's the way I feel."
Sessions reportedly has no plans to quit, especially because "more than any other member of Trump's Cabinet, Sessions has been an uncompromising advocate for Trump's agenda. The attorney general has worked methodically to dismantle Obama's legacy at the Justice Department" — and Sessions knows how beloved that has made him among conservatives. He has his own base of loyalty, so he's prepared to "call Trump's bluff."
If he hangs on, that will eventually result in his regaining Trump's loyalty and support, because Trump is a coward who fears looking weak, so he won't risk defeat in a major showdown. Instead, he'll re-embrace Sessions — and Sessions is giving him good reason to do so by reportedly planning to "make an announcement about several criminal leak investigations within days."
"The investigations will be centered around news reports containing sensitive material about intelligence," which has been an era of Trump's obsessive focus for months.
How all of this is unfolding is incredibly informative, illuminating just how resolutely Trump is running his administration like a classic authoritarian. He demands personal loyalty, which very specifically entails committing to abet and replicate his contempt for the rule of law and lack of ethics, and when he doesn't get it, he immediately begins the process of alienation.
Weak characters will simply leave (e.g. Sean Spicer). Strong characters will call his bluff, and he will spin to look like he's the one in control of their collective fates. They'll throw him a bone to stay in his good graces. But with every interpersonal battle lost, he will become weaker, and thus more dangerous, as he responds to feeling weak with displays of the abuse he substitutes for actual strength.
None of this is good, at all. And beware the political press minimizing it as "drama" or "palace intrigue." It is serious, scary business — and we should all understand exactly what we're seeing.
I did a fair amount of reading over the weekend, and early this week.
Court of Fives by Kate Elliott was too nerve-wracking and painful for me to read right now; I finished it, but the sequels will definitely have to wait. The race and class issues were very well-depicted, I thought, and the suspense was excellent. I am just too stressed about the world to handle this sort of thing in fiction right now.
The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch was, alas, much shorter than I had hoped. Abigail was so great! I want all the Abigail stories!!!
I was happily surprised that Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb, 43rd in the series, was much better than several of the previous volumes. There were a lot of twists and barriers to solving the mystery, capturing the perpetrators, and bringing them to justice, and remarkably little checking in with the huge recurring cast, which can become tedious. I read this partly because mysteries are comforting (justice wins!) and partly for purposes of analysis. I need to write down notes on its structure and character types and things like that.
Opera has always presented a more overt demand for suspension of disbelief than most other dramatic forms, and never more so than with its ongoing fascination with plots based on hanahaki disease. The middle of the nineteenth century saw the emergence of this tidy, sentimental metaphor for tuberculosis – a gory, unpleasant and all too real ailment – and it has lingered ever since. Blood was replaced with roses, hacking coughs with immaculate arias, lingering deaths with graceful swoons.
Chapter 1: Violetta, o, la traviata (Giuseppe Verdi and F. M. Piave) Chapter 2: Michael of Strelsau (Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan and Julian Sturgis)
I have also: been swimming in cold water; had my heart gently broken by the latest Madame C- C- instalment. We're going out for dinner later. It's a quiet birthday, but a good one so far.
The company that sells the Roomba autonomous vacuum wants to sellthe data about your home that it collects.
What happens if a Roomba user consents to the data collection and later sells his or her home -- especially furnished -- and now the buyers of the data have a map of a home that belongs to someone who didn't consent, Mr. Gidari asked. How long is the data kept? If the house burns down, can the insurance company obtain the data and use it to identify possible causes? Can the police use it after a robbery?