Sunday, April 17, 2011

Facebreaking

So I was on the train back to NYC after the Phillies game and was watching Seven. I blame Zoo With Roy for making what I remember as a very intense seen unintentionally Halladay-tastic funny.
Jump ahead to 4:25

Great Day for Baseball

Was at the Phillies game today. Great day for baseball--windy and a little chilly to start, for sure, but warmed up.
Cole looked great-real bummer to see some suspect defense (Valdez, I'm looking at you) and not of run support, but good to see the win. More importantly, I learned an important lesson:

This was the third year in a row that I've been to the Phanatics birthday game. I really hope the concept guys who do all of the planning are really high coming up with this stuff. I may either achieve true nirvanna or end up curled up in the fetal position, gently weeping if I ever show up to this game after a good hit of acid. I mean, where else can you hear "Whoa, Mackeral Jordan just ate an umpire!"  or "I think the monk is trying to rape the giraffe!" at 230p on a Sunday afternoon?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Flyers/Sabres

I hate Ryan Miller.
I want to stab him in the throat with a rusty battery (is my Philly showing?).
He's the boogey man of Philly sports since I've been a kid.

That said, I knew this would be a tough series and the flyers limping into the playoffs did nothing to help that.
Then there was Ryan Miller and arguably the hottest team coming into the playoffs.
It was a great game. The Flyers and Sabres both came out swinging and playing some uptempo hockey. Big hits, great defense and timely saves....and a typical night for a Philly sports fan.

This game encapsulates the greater part of my existence as a Philly sports fan. The Flyers looked pretty good tonight-and that's the problem. Disappointment is something you come to live with and expect as a Philly sports fan...but that is not something unique to us. Lots of cities have disappointing teams. These fan bases have the luxury of being USED to the losing. It's the norm. It sucks to be a Detroit Lions fan, but you know they're going to lose. Washington Nationals? Do their fans even know their losing?
The problem is in Philly is that our teams have a unique talent-despite our emotional calluses built up after years of losing and disappointment, the teams manage to still find a way to give us that glimmer of hope-just that one little moment that tugs at your heart just enough to believe just a LITTLE....that this time will be different.

The Flyers lost 8 of their last 11. They were playing lifeless, listless hockey after having a screamingly strong first half of the season. It would have been easier if they came in and lost tonight playing that same kind of hockey.

They showed up though. They played with an intensity and a drive that we only saw glimpses of in the second half of the season. Tied nothing nothing going into the second and seeing that up tempo, blue collar, hustle and hit hockey you slowly started to forget the lackadaisical hockey we've been seeing for months. The Sabres played like they were the hottest eam coming into the playoffs and one of our big questions-goaltending-had some shining moments. The defense played strong hockey and made sure his first shots were easy ones. As much as I didn't want to get on the hook, that I didn't really want to believe that they could just "flip the switch" and play strong hockey, they started to get my attention.

Claude Giroux's couple shots hitting the post, Richards scrabbling in front of the net, Briere agitating his former team...all of them playing like we as fans wanted and hoped. They got me. They hooked me. I started to believe.

And any story needs to have a bogeyman. Tonight it was in the guise of Ryan Miller. Formerly played by Joe Carter in '93, the Rockies in 07, Mike Vernon in 97, Patrick Kane last year.

I'm not saying the Flyers are done, but I've seen a lot of stories that start this way with my Philly teams.

All that said, this sounds like a eulogy, more appropriate for a loss that ends a season rather than a first loss in a seven game series. Bobrovsky played well-the goal he let up was in traffic and was a breakdown of the defense. Richards looked like the Mike Richards we love- a hitter with a mean shot and a guy who leads by example. The defense looked great for long stretches, great in transition and creating turnovers. The Sabres are a good team, but rely on their speed more than their size. The Flyers win on the scales so if they can drag this series out a bit, the bigger guys who can take and deal the punishment better might come out on top. I mean, really....can you doubt a team that came down from a 3-0 game defeceit and a 3-0 goal defeceit just a year ago? And 100% or not, Pronger will hopefully be back Saturday and that adds some attitude and even more depth to a good defensive corp.

Son of a bitch. They got me on the hook again. Flyers in 6.

Let's go Flyers!

PS. If, after the battery reference, youbring up any of that "typical Philly fan" crap, I may actually pelt you with a battery. Don't get me started on that rant...though Ed Rendell-former PA governor, Philly mayor and all around good guy, has a pretty thorough rebuttal of the steroetype:
http://articles.philly.com/2011-03-23/sports/29178683_1_meanest-fans-santa-claus-incident-eagles-cowboys#ixzz1HQTW9CAZ

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'm a jerk...

And have been away for a while. Been a little busy and crazy between The Seven and a few side projects.
I've been taking some time and getting back to my roots-in magic. I spent some time a few weeks ago back at my old high school, just outside of Philly, teaching some students some basics of magic. They are doing a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and wanted to have the faeries be able to do some magic.
It was a blast and fun seeing my former teacher and catch up with her. It made me realize a few things that I learned early on that I definitely take for granted. Two in particular stick out for me:
1.) Early on, I learned that the basic difference between good magic and bad magic is very very simple and not complicated at all. It all comes down to movement.
If you move during a trick like you move when you are NOT doing a trick, it completely masks the technique. It is truly magic. If you do something disparate from your traditional "movement set", it sticks out like a sore thumb and even if the audience doesn't know HOW you did it they know that you DID. It breaks that very fragile illusion.
One of the the prettiest routines I've seen in a long time is by Homer Liwag...and I promise, it looks as good or better in person:


But all of the moves and movements are consistent. I won't call anyone out as being bad, but you know it when you see it. If someone inexperienced tries to vanish a coin, the gesture doesn't look natural.
This is a long way of saying, it was interesting trying to get a room full of teenagers to become self aware of their movements and how they act. We take it for granted...take some time and think and observe how you move and how other people move. It's more interesting than you think.

2.)Magic is boring. Well, that's a bit of a fib. The secret is boring. One of my favorite tricks is one of the oldest and one of the simplest. I have you pick a card and rather than find it, it's under my beer that's been there the whole time.
Check out an absolute pro doing his version of it:

It's beautiful in it's simplicity...and I'll do it and people will hound you to tell them how to do it... everyone's inner child nursing that tiniest flame of hope that you'll lean over, and whisper in their ear, "It's real magic" and for it to be true.
You want me to tell you? You really do? For it to work, and REALLY fool you, to be really enjoyable, even I have to believe that it's real magic a little.
I let my hands do it. 
I'll talk, I'll chat, but my hands do the magic.
Wait, you mean you want to know the actual MECHANICS?
I promise, you don't.  (Now you want to know even MORE don't you?)
Stop here if you don't want to know.  I will tell you and you will be disappointed.

You sure?

I have you pick a card. Then, when you're not looking, I take it out of the deck and put it under my drink. It's a tad more complicated than that, but that's technique. You can find the two basic moves you need to do this is any magic book at your local bookstore: a control and a palm.
It's easy to learn, but it's a trick that takes forever to do well...but the secret is boring. You want to make a coin disappear? Pretend to put it in your other hand.
How do you play a piano? You hit the keys.
How do you light a show? Point some lights.
How do you play a guitar? Strum some strings.
Really? As magical as anything looks, the technique, the fundamentals are pretty boring....
it's the person and the technique that makes the beauty happen. It's rare that the secret exceeds the effect.