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MIGHTY DUCKS / '94-'95 PREVIEW : Looking For A Net Gain : The Mighty Ducks Hope Their Offense Gets a Jolt From Paul Kariya, but the Presence the 19-Year-Old Rookie Brings to the Second-Year Team Transcends Mere Goal-Scoring
September 30, 1994|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER
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The day the Mighty Ducks used their first-ever draft pick on a smallish playmaker from the University of Maine, Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner watched as a smiling, boyish Paul Kariya pulled the Duck sweater over his shirt and tie and jet-black hair. And as he watched, standing almost alone, Eisner actually said out loud to no one in particular, "Perfect. Perfect. Perfect."

Eisner had seen no more than a glimpse of the skill, speed, creativity and intuition that have made Kariya the Ducks' best player from the moment the 19-year-old rookie stepped on the ice with them in early September. What Eisner saw, with a corporate eye practiced in assessing the powerful appeal of idealized youth, was a boy who exuded genuineness, intelligence and modesty, mingled with the air of a talent yet to be fully seen.

Kariya is the All-American kid who isn't American at all. He is Canadian, and his hair, along with the shape of his eyes and structure of his face, hints at his Japanese and Scottish heritage--his father, Tetsuhiko, was born in an internment camp in Canada during World War II, a difficult chapter of family history that Kariya says is rarely spoken about. All together, it is a combination that makes Kariya a powerfully appealing image of the increasingly multiethnic face of society.



He is also one hell of a hockey player--an edge-of-your seat hockey player who is already the second-most watchable one in Southern California.

"He just has that knack . . . You start to expect something when he's on the ice," Duck Coach Ron Wilson said. "It's like a baseball game, in a way. When Frank Thomas comes to bat, you expect something, whether it's a great strikeout by the pitcher or a home run. It's like that when you play against Wayne Gretzky. You wait for his shift because when he's on the ice, something could happen at any time."

Anyone who saw Kariya play with the Ducks during the exhibition season knows what Wilson means. There are the metal-to-a-magnet passes, the uncanny eye for the open man, and the rousing breakaway chances that the crowd is already learning to sense even as they unfold.

So often, Kariya tries something so clever it challenges one's ability to describe it. A backhand pass between his legs, a spin to find room to thread a pass. In an exhibition game against Boston in San Diego, he created a breakaway by dashing to the blue line and lifting Ray Bourque's stick just enough to let a pass slide under, then chased down the puck for what proved to be no more than a missed breakaway opportunity, but a spectacular one.

"He doesn't surprise me in anything he does, because he's done it at every level," Duck General Manager Jack Ferreira said. "I sure enjoy seeing it, though."

The three teams that passed on Kariya before the Ducks took him fourth in 1993 should be second-guessing themselves already. Back then, he was a skillful young forward whose size left some scouts wondering if he could make it in the body-crunching world of the NHL. He had just won an NCAA Division I championship at Maine and become the first freshman to win the Hobey Baker award, given to the best U.S. college hockey player--though that has never been a guarantee of professional success. But in the year that followed, Kariya has grown a bit more solid at 5 feet 10 and truthfully, about 165 pounds--a size not really that rare in the NHL. More important, he proved on a silver-medal winning Canadian Olympic team and gold-medal World Championships team that his skill, cleverness and elusiveness more than make up for his stature.

"I saw Paul play in the Olympics and World Championships, and even then you knew this was not a fluke or a couple of good games," said Duck center Stephan Lebeau, who is 10 pounds heavier but an inch or so shorter than Kariya. "I knew he was good, but he's even better than I thought he was. And I knew he was good.



"There's no doubt this guy is going to do things in this league. He's going to be fun to watch. He surprises opponents all the time--even sometimes his own teammates. His passing ability is something to see."

NHL players aren't given to hyping rookie prospects, but they have seen enough of Kariya to know he is special.

"I just feel him, where he is," said Anatoli Semenov, who centers the line with Kariya on the left wing and another rookie, Valeri Karpov, on the right. "Paul, you know, he's unbelievable player, I think. He's very talented."

Center Bob Corkum says "there are not very many guys who have been in the league a long time who are as good as Paul is right now," and Lebeau, asked who Kariya resembles in the NHL, can think of no more than two players.

"You have to say Gretzky right away, that's for sure. They're the same type of hockey player," Lebeau said. "If he's going to put up the same numbers as Gretzky, that's another question, but who knows?"

And besides Gretzky? Lebeau pauses, thinks. "Maybe Doug Gilmour, a little bit."

*
The comparisons to Gretzky are not really comparisons, not in the sense that anyone is predicting Kariya will become hockey's all-time leading scorer or acknowledged as the greatest to play the game. They are more an attempt to describe how Kariya plays, a style that is in obvious homage to Gretzky--right down to the fact, Wilson needles, that Kariya can be a bit lazy getting back on defense.

Kariya gave every indication during the exhibition season that he will be a point-a-game type player, even as a rookie. Some experts even see him finishing in the top 15 in the league in scoring.

But Kariya's career and Gretzky's clearly are not on parallels. Kariya will turn 20 on Oct. 16. The year Gretzky turned 20, he won the second of his eight consecutive NHL scoring titles, notching 109 assists in a 164-point season.

"The area that will have to be monitored and kept under control is expectations relative to points," said Shawn Walsh, who was Kariya's coach at Maine. "It's still an expansion team. I think once they move to the upper echelon of teams, he'll be a terrific point-producer. He may not produce like that right away."



But Gretzky-like?

"Gretzky is in a league by himself," said Glen Sather, Gretzky's longtime coach in Edmonton and general manager of the Canadian team Kariya played for at the World Championships this summer. "I don't think anybody compares to Wayne. Wayne's the most superior hockey player we'll see in our lifetimes.

"Paul Kariya is a very gifted player. He sees the ice, the way all great players do. He has great instincts, good work habits, he's dedicated and sincere.

"I don't know if he'll be a great player in this league. That takes time to prove. He's a rookie. He'll have good nights and bad nights. He's not going to step into this league and dominate right away . . . I'm sure Paul Kariya is embarrassed if anybody tries to compare him to Wayne."

As Kariya has said, "To be mentioned in the same breath as Wayne Gretzky is a tremendous honor, but to me Wayne Gretzky is untouchable. Incomparable. He should be left alone on a pedestal."

Still, when Kariya sets up behind the net, he is using the advantages of that protected position in a way virtually created by Gretzky. When he makes a no-look pass or kicks the puck off his skates up to his stick, much the same. Even when he swirls behind the play, cheating into position for a breakout pass, it is like Gretzky. So much of what Kariya does, in fact, was directly inspired by the young Gretzky, who Kariya watched hour upon hour on videotapes as a boy.

"It began extremely early, and I think he identified with him because he was smaller in stature than most players," said Sharon Kariya, Paul's mother. "To this day, when he comes home from school or wherever he's been, he puts on tapes of Wayne Gretzky. We've got all the Canada Cup games and Gretzky's own personal tapes. He's always watched them over and over. Possibly by the time he started playing junior hockey, he started watching other people too, to learn from them, but Gretzky continued to be his model."

Kariya, a lonely voice growing up in North Vancouver, British Columbia, cheered for the Edmonton Oiler dynasty. The day Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles, his mother picked up 13-year-old Paul at school and tried to break it to him gently.

"He didn't believe it, he absolutely could not believe it," Sharon Kariya said. "I said, 'Paul, I think Wayne Gretzky is going to be traded from Edmonton.' He said, 'No, he's not.' And I said, 'Well, I think we'll hear something about it on the news tonight.' He was absolutely flabbergasted."

The next day, the Kings replaced the Oilers as Kariya's favorite team and he never reconsidered until the day he became a Duck. He waited a year before he put on the Duck uniform for real--mostly because he wanted to play for Canada in the Olympics.



"I think he remembered one time Wayne Gretzky saying he regretted not being able to participate in the Olympics," Sharon Kariya said.

*

On the ice, Kariya is full of flash and boldness and risk. Off it, he says, with his typical half-suppressed smile, "I'm a very conservative person."

He arrived at training camp addressing the 39-year-old Wilson as "Mr. Wilson," until he was invited--begged, teased and implored--to stop.

When he decided to use a sliver of his three-year, $6.5-million contract to buy his first car, "something safe" was all he had in mind.

Sharon and T.K., as Paul's father is called, have a family philosophy that one should do one's best to contribute, and do it quietly. They try to be diligent that no matter what accolades their five children receive, they are treated as equals at home.

When Wilson and Ferreira had dinner at the Kariya home a few months after the draft, it was Paul who got up to clear the table at his mother's prompting.


"Every single time I come home, the big thing is I have to make up my bed," Kariya said, laughing. "I wake up every morning and my mom says, 'Did you make up your bed?' I come home, and I don't get treated special, probably the opposite. It brings you down to earth."

Wilson nods his approval. "That's what makes Paul so different," he said, pausing for effect. "He's normal."

That unassuming nature has been an asset every time Kariya has walked into a dressing room for the first time--with his junior hockey team in Penticton, B.C., at Maine, the Olympics, the World Championships and now with the Ducks. Every time, there have been skeptics, and every time, he has won them over.

"I think Paul has an ability to be soft-spoken and so respectful that he commands respect because people recognize he's not brash and cocky," said Tom Renney, the Canadian Olympic coach. "He's a young man here to do business."

The true moment of acceptance usually comes very early, and usually on the ice. (Few things are more endearing than putting the puck on a player's stick when he's wide open in front of the net.)



Jim Montgomery, a college teammate now with the Montreal Canadiens, still remembers the first time he discovered Kariya's sixth sense.

"The first time we played together, I was open for a pass, and I've always been in the habit of shouting to let people know I'm there," said Montgomery, one of Kariya's closest friends. "Just as I started to yell, the pass came. We got back to the bench and he said, 'I know you're there. You don't have to yell. It just lets the opposition know you're there.' "

When Kariya arrived at Maine, Montgomery says, "the amazing thing was how smart he was and how mature he was."

"He was being offered all kinds of money by junior teams, but he came to the University of Maine. He knew what he wanted out of life. If you don't know him, people are going to think he's a little reserved or standoffish. He's not, he's just always analyzing the situation."

Randy Ladouceur, the 12-year veteran who is the Ducks' captain, has noticed how Kariya blends in.

"I think he's bending over backward to stay out of the limelight," Ladouceur said. "The last thing he's tried to do is flaunt things, like his money. It would be one thing if he showed up here on the first day in a big Mercedes-Benz, but he's taken the shuttle from the Disneyland Hotel just like everybody else. He's come in and tried to gradually acclimate, to see what's going on. He really doesn't say a lot. He's taking everything day by day, kind of reading the situation."

What Kariya does on the ice is sometimes so imaginative--and sometimes so unimaginable until he does it--that people wonder about the connection between this thoughtful, respectful young man and the impulsive, instinctual game he plays.

"He pushes the envelope in terms of his creativity. That's fun to watch," Wilson said. "That's probably where he feels the most comfortable, on the ice. That's where he shows you his real personality."

He plays with an exuberance that draws almost every eye in the building, and even as she tries to set aside a mother's pride, Sharon Kariya knows it has always been that way.

"As a little child doing his skating lessons, you just zoomed in to him" she said. "It was electrifying because you could just tell he so enjoyed doing it."

The people who know Kariya best say his game is the product of an extremely analytical mind, one that anticipates actions and reactions, points and counterpoints.

"As much as he is very spontaneous, very creative and imaginative, that in itself is part of his game plan," said Renney, the Canadian Olympic coach.



A split-second improvisation can have a polished look, almost as if he's done it before.

"I think it's something he's already seen, already done many times in his mind, maybe 10, maybe 50 times," Montgomery said. "When he does it, it looks new, but it isn't new to him.

"I know what he does the night before a game is he lies down and listens to soft music. It's a mental thing, and he wouldn't really have to even listen to the tape, he knows it by heart. He gets into a deep concentration and sees himself making plays and trying new moves."

Kariya still thinks through situations at night before he goes to sleep, and as he sits through long plane flights. The tape, though, is history, worn out by constant playing.

"Off the ice, when you're sleeping in bed, it helps to visualize things," he said. "Then when I'm on the ice, it allows me to do things without thinking. Otherwise you're constantly doing your thinking on the ice instead of reacting and letting it flow."

The same disciplined, logical mind has made every important decision in Kariya's life seem drawn-out and deliberate. The business major in him considered the Ducks' contract offers with such a poker face it unsettled as veteran a negotiator as Ferreira, who suddenly wasn't sure what Kariya would do at all.

Kariya took weeks to decide if he would return to Maine for the fall semester before the Olympics, weeks to decide if he would go back to Maine or start negotiating with the Ducks after the Olympics, and day upon nerve-racking day--for the Ducks--to decide if he would accept their last offer.

"He's never in a rush to make a decision," Montgomery said. "He analyzes the pros and cons. Maybe people should learn from that, because every decision he's made has been the right decision."

Once a decision is made, though, his creativity transforms even coaches and teammates into spectators, and anyone who has been around him long has a favorite Kariya move.

"The most amazing thing I've seen him do, he was coming across the blue line and he faked a drop pass to me," Montgomery said. "I thought it was coming, then he takes a stride and taps it back with his skate and up to his stick and takes a shot right off. It's just the things he can do with the puck and his skates that amaze me."



The one that draws raves is the 360-degree spin-a-rama, a move Kariya keeps under wraps until the right moment appears.

Renney remembers, "there was one I saw where he came from the right boards, through the neutral zone, across the red line all the way to the left wing boards, threw the puck in front of him and did a 360 as the defenseman went to play his body. Paul put the puck through the defenseman's legs and then Paul is alone behind the defensemen who by that time is on his knees. Paul picked it up behind him, all alone in front of the net."

On the ice after practice or in his room watching tape, Kariya is constantly toying with and trying to perfect his game.

"He's got that ability to be creative in looking at himself and specifically identify areas where he can improve himself," said Walsh, the Maine coach. "It's rare in the '90s to have terrific players who keep from getting satisfied." Having an ability to improve your game off the ice is important when you grow up in temperate North Vancouver, not exactly the land of frozen ponds and unlimited ice access. So much of what Kariya has learned has been off a TV screen, or imagined in his mind.

"He'll go into the back yard and practice shooting the puck, then he'll come in and stick-handle on the rec room floor," Sharon Kariya said. "He spends a lot of time doing that. (Younger brothers) Steven and Martin play a lot with Paul and they're always trying new things.

"It hasn't really mattered whether he's playing golf, playing tennis or swimming. He studies the sport and works very diligently at improving in the sport. My husband would work with the children when they learned to do the butterfly or the breaststroke, and they'd do it (in the rec room) before they went into the pool."

After the Olympics, where Canada lost the gold medal to Sweden in a shootout when Kariya missed the final penalty shot, breakaways became one of his little obsessions.

"Obviously, my breakaways need a lot of work," he said, overstating the case against himself. "You always try to constantly improve. You have to analyze your game and see where you get your scoring chances. I seem to get one breakaway a game. It's just recognizing what you need to do. It's seeing where the goalie is in the net, seeing what's open. I always have a move in the back of my mind, but you take what the goalie gives you."

His other projects have been more unusual. A left-handed shooter, he has worked on a right-handed wraparound shot so he can score from either side of the net without having to use his backhand. He's also honing a right-handed one-time shot to use when the pass is coming to that side of his body. And one-timing the puck--shooting off the pass in one swift motion without stopping the puck--is so difficult there are plenty of NHL players who can't do it on their natural shooting side.



In another drill, he works to knock down waist-high passes with his stick, a skill that is useful to control the puck on breakaway chances. What is his success rate? 70%? 80%? What you want, Kariya says quietly, is 100%.

"The nice thing is, he's a perfectionist in striving to improve," said Walsh, the Maine coach. "He's not a perfectionist who gets caught up or overly negative if perfection doesn't happen."

The perfect perfectionist.

Perfect.
guingel: (Default)
Since everything Paul and Teemu said about each other is absolute gold (as is everything anyone else has ever said about them), here are the extended versions of the quotes featured on tumblr here, assembled with @subbaned!

Even this monster is sometimes only a selection so if there's a link, there might be even more - especially content about only one of them.
Order is chronological by publication date.

12,000+ words of Teemu/Paul...quotes )
guingel: (vero cry)
People who follow me on twitter (my apologies to all of you, by the way) have probably noticed this, but... the Olympics is making me bitter as fuck about men's hockey. Actually it's making me bitter as fuck about sportswriters, and I've realized that a certain number of the things that have really made me disgusted about pro sports since following my first North American league has been the shitty, wretched sportswriters - and how they're allowed to carry and define discussions about things that they really don't fucking know anything about. Like domestic violence, or women's sports. (Or the state of amenities in Russia.)

ranting about asshole men's sports dudes )

ranting about unhelpful approaches from women )

in fanfic )
guingel: (ajt pk)
Tweets from Grabs' (and the rest of the team's) spring 2012 campaign to get Johnny on the cover of the NHL13 game, while he was at the Worlds in Finland. The Islanders also made this website for the whole thing, and roped in PK and Sharpy and Stammer? And then kept posting pictures from the game of them all gathering to discuss the campaign? I DON'T KNOW.

Anyway, there are pictures of people on the toilet behind the cut.

Read more... )
Master Post
Islanders Primer
guingel: (Default)
Matt Moulson has spent enough time tweeting about how much he loves Johnny that I had to give these tweets their own post. (There's a couple from JT, but he's not as prolific or adept a tweeter!)

Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 10.17.08 PM
Matt. MATT.
Read more... )
Master Post
Islanders Primer
guingel: (Default)
Islanders Primer to go with all these amazing tweets - in case you want to know more about the guys!

I tried to keep this only to the best tweets and there's still so much that I had to make splinter posts. This one has all the flirting and chirping and complimenting, the others are more focused.
Matt/Johnny post
John Tavares NHL13 Cover Campaign - less kinky than the NHL14 campaign, but incredibly enthusiastic
Additional Player Highlights

yeah i can't even handle them )
guingel: (ajohn tavares is kermit)
So I couldn't get this to load in the internet archive or anything, even though I stg I did at one point, and I managed to open a cached version from google, but I know nothing about google caches and it didn't feel like something reliable enough to link to, so I figured I might as well make a post for it.

Also, Matt is precious and I love him. The interview is from 2005, when he was a senior at Cornell and much-beloved co-captain of their hockey team. I was going to bold highlights but it's just kind of a constant stream of him being earnestly adorable.

perpetually cooing over the Islanders )
guingel: (aajt pk)

B'awwwww! (x)

An unavoidably slashy primer both because I tend to be most interested in friendships between the players... but also unavoidable because THESE GUYS ARE WEIRD ABOUT EACH OTHER. There are a lot of emotions flying around out there. So if that's not what you're interested in, don't expect an analysis of our stats or anything like that. (OK, there might be a little bit of that - but not much!)

The Islanders have to be one of the lovingest teams in hockey. They're always talking about how great the atmosphere in the room is, how close they are, and how much everyone enjoys each other's company. Their tweets are full of talk about going to movies together or getting meals at each other's houses.

We have a really solid, young core, many of them having played together the last few years, either at the Islanders or our AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. The guys have been through a lot together, having just made their first playoffs since 2007 in the spring of 2013. The Islanders have had a reputation as a pretty terrible team, and haven't been able to attract any big free agents - we're basically built from the draft and from claiming dudes off waivers. As a result, the guys really have each other's backs and have to look to each other for support, because the wider hockey world either ignores or mocks them most of the time.


John. Tavares. (x)

You're probably already at least a little familiar with John Tavares. First overall pick at the 2009 draft, 2013 Hart Trophy nominee, loves lacrosse, loves winning, first player ever to enter the OHL draft a year early as an exceptional player. And also everything to the Islanders. Some might say I have an overabundance of feelings about young John, so don't expect any sort of dignified understatement here.

an abundance of forwards )
guingel: (anealsygeno)
So much talking head babbling about which players from Team Canada's Olympics orientation camp will actually make the final squad, and none of them seem to be taking cuteness into account. Or how much Laura loves them. Shocking oversight, I am driven to make my own list. From this roster.

3 goalies, 8 defensemen, 14 forwards, right? )

The world of sports was friggin out of control today, by the way. Like, come on tennis, it's transfer deadline day. I need you to keep things under control. At least Ferru apparently became the fifth man to reach all four Grand Slam quarterfinals in back to back years - along with only Roger, Rafa, Novak, and Ivan Lendl. :))))) Once again, #proudmama.

I'm also super proud of my darling beloved hunky musketeer, Tommy Robredo... but I'm also quite sad for Roger? So. :/// Yeah I don't know. I became a tennis fan in 2010 so I missed the years when he was dominating and I just love him now. But I also love Tommy! Complex.

Annnnnnnnd Real Madrid. ;_________; Um. At least Kaka will be happy? I hope! Sheva's not up to anything, right? Someone get him a job at the club!!!! And I'm optimistic for Arsenal, whose lives I end up excessively invested in because my sister is so into them. But. :|||| Honestly either Perez is even worse at... everything... than we'd thought, or there's some type of sketchy background thing where the owners of Tottenham are going to give him preferential treatment in non-football business dealings or god knows what, because nothing that has happened makes sense for Real Madrid.

I've been at my parent's place for Labor Day and wasn't on the internet so much, and am left totally boggled by the entire day. But I had fun doing puzzles and stuff with my mom! I'm totally freaked out that Rosh Hashanah is on Wednesday, though - I have a serious hardcore deadline on Thursday, and I thought I'd be ok to only work one day of the long weekend, but I thought i'd be able to work late on both Tuesday AND Wednesday! And that is not the case. So tomorrow I have to get up early to go into work from Long Island, and then stay super late trying to get as much done as possible. Meeeeeep. Oh well. Hopefully I will be motivated and productive and my noggin will be firing nicely after the weekend and I'll get shitloads done and it'll be fine. >___> (Worst case scenario I skip Rosh Hashanah, which wouldn't kill me but would be a major bummer.)
guingel: (ajt pk)
Hellooooo livejournal! As is my annual tradition now, I'm posting right after I went to the US Open. XDD But I don't have pictures yet so I'll post ABOUT the US Open some other time.

I've recently made a bunch of new friends through the friending meme/prompt challenge post at [livejournal.com profile] home_ice. I kind of got the impression that a lot of people like me came out of the woodwork - newish hockey fans (or new to fandom) who have been enjoying hockey fandom on tumblr but who haven't been able to make new friends and have been really missing the community aspect of livejournal fandom. Anyway, everyone seems totally delightful! It's really, really exciting to have people to gab constantly about hockey and hockey RPF and cute hockey players with! I haven't gotten my twin sister into hockey yet (although she's much more mildly interested in the fanfic side of things than I am anyway, plus we don't talk about smut that much - but we're usually very much on the same page about players and people who we like) and she's great for squeeing to normally, which takes some of the pressure off my internet life.

I kind of focused a little on friending people who were on twitter, because that's where I do most of my social networking these days. And then I proceeded to tweet like a maniac for about 12 hours straight. XDD I... got a little excited? Bored at work + suddenly know a bunch more people who care about the stuff I'm excited about + also lbr a willingness to share anything that pops into my head = word vomit. It doesn't hurt that I'm the world's least laconic human being - except when I'm trying to write fic, for some reason. So I'm sorry to anyone who suddenly found that their entire timeline was me. >__> I'm going to be much busier the next couple days, at least? (I might declare an unfollow grace period - I really feel like people don't necessarily know the volume of tweets they might be getting when they say "oh yeah, let's be friends!" and I want to give them an out before they loathe me, haha.)

So yeah, quick current fandom rundown, although this was touched upon in the meme - mostly doing the sports and sports RPF thing these days: hockey, soccer, tennis. Big into Avengers, have been an avid reader of the DC Universe for much of my adolescence but they're a steaming pile of crap lately. Was really into Sherlock and Teen Wolf fic, and reasonably into both canons, but not so much anymore. Various Joss stuff is always relevant. Terry Pratchett enthusiast. I'm leaving a bajillion things out - I need something to be excited about, something to throw myself into and learn new things about. When there's no new fandoms, I'll start reading loads about Antarctic exploration or WWII spy technology. [ETA: also was very much into Japanese boybands, especially as produced by Johnny's & Associates - TOKIO are my favorites, of course, also into V6 (old people yay) and Arashi and at various points Kanjani8 and NEWS. And I've watched a certain number of dramas, although none recently.]

I'm also a fervent feminist (but absolutely in no way a radfem) and am always attempting to be more and more anti-racist, and I do tend to post serious shit sometimes or launch into rants. Currently trying to address some of my transphobia & ableism problems so I'm a safer space than most places but not totally safe.

Soccer: Schalke and Real Madrid. Absolutely wildly in love with Raul. Used to be a Liverpool fan but I was already moving away from them and I was so disgusted by the way they handled the Suarez racism incident that I'm not more than a casual fan now. My aforementioned sister is a huuuuge Arsenal fan and since she cares a lot more than me, I'm fairly invested in them as a result of caring about her emotional state. XD Also hugely into women's soccer. I'm madly in love with Spanish superstar Vero Boquete, which she probably knows because someone LINKED HER TO THAT POST and also to these gifs, which were posted at a point when my entire tumblr was filled with Vero gifs I'd made. I am often in small fandoms and have a lot of fourth wall problems. DX

Tennis: David Ferrer! Samantha Stosur!! Andrea Petkovic, the entire Italian Fed Cup Team, most of the Spanish Davis Cup Team, Andy Murray, Tommy Robredo... probably loads of people I'm missing. There's a lot of room in my heart for tennis players. I've been pretty lazy about following it lately.

I got a bit... a bit long-winded about my hockey feelings )

Haha everyone else has been writing great little posts about something in fandom, and I'm like "HERE READ ABOUT ME FOR AN HOUR". But I like knowing that the people I'm dealing with know who I am, I guess? (haha I hope so, given how personal I got on tumblr this morning!) I like representing myself accurately - I hate when people put words in my mouth or make assumptions about me - it's probably why I go on so long, I want to really express every feeling. Idk. Anyway, I do have some more generic fandom-related thoughts that I was going to put into this post, I didn't actually set out to make an intro post!! But given my tendency towards long-windedness, I will have to just cut myself off here!
guingel: (aavivsneer)
(Bolding is for skimming clarity, not emphasis.)

Hellooooo, livejournal! If I waited five days, it will have been a full year since I posted! Which is annoying because I really should have done a US Open write-up like I did once before, because i'll want that. I'll just summarize: awesome time at the US Open last September! XDD I finally got to see David Ferrer play in person!! He was the last of my favorite players that I hadn't managed to see, and as expected, was utterly gorgeous in person. And I saw the beautiful Dustin Brown, and Petko playing mixed doubles with Eric Butorac, which was the most adorable thing ever and they were so precious and smiley! I friggin love mixed doubles. We also were able to get tickets for Arthur Ashe and I therefore saw a bit of Kim Clijster's final match, against Laura Robson. And then we were smart and watched Sara Errani beat up on someone late in the day because the next match on the court was Kim's mixed doubles match, her actual last match now that I think of it, and we were all very emotional and supportive and it was lovely. (Also I love Sara and the entire Italian Fed Cup team.)

So yeah that was super fun. And me, my sister, and my brother-in-law went to Newport to see the grass tournament there, and also the crazy mansions. It was fun and the visitors and inhabitants of Newport were all unknowing participants in a preppiness contest. The men's title was won by a 60-odd year old man wearing pink shorts with a cardigan around his shoulders. The women's title was won by a young woman that Katie and I still affectionately refer to as the princess of all preppiness, she was at the tennis wearing gold boat shoes, formal navy blue shorts, and a red blouse with an anchor pattern on it. With appropriate jewelery and long straight blonde hair of course. :') (This was last July, and yes I am a freakshow for remembering it.)

Oh, and I also got into cricket? Just a little bit. Can't remember when, but I watched Fire in Babylon, which is this amazing documentary about West Indies cricket in the late 70s-early 80s, when they were becoming a team that would absolutely dominate the cricket world for a decade. I don't particularly follow cricket much but I have watched that documentary about 80 times and now have a massive crush on Vivian Richards and an icon to match. :D

actually a moderately quick summary of work and roommate situation )

So yeah, the newest thing in my life is hockey. XDDD I've always enjoyed it as a sport, especially since falling in love with the Mighty Ducks movies, and then with curling and my love of Canadiana, I'd hear about hockey goings on but nothing that sucked me in. But then I'd check this tumblr a bunch: http://waxjism.tumblr.com/ which I found because of Teen Wolf (briefly a fan) and just really liked, and she started posting a bunch of hockey stuff, so I was able to get sucked into the personalities in a slow, subtle way, and then I started reading fanfic and it was all over.

But then there was the "which team tho???" process, and it was kind of bumpy and weird. [livejournal.com profile] kikigirl is a Pens fan and my only close friend who loves hockey, so she was getting me to watch Penguins games and I wanted to embrace them but I had to create my own relationship with them and I was worried it wouldn't happen. But it did!! And now I adore them, and am especially excited that they traded for Jarome Iginla, which I know is sad in many ways but I just was madly in love with him from day one and love having him on my team and want all good things for him. And I adore Sid as well, and you know, all of them. :D And being a Pens fan has been super fun. I had it way too easy, of course - the first game of theirs that I watched was the last one in February, a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Then they didn't lose a single game through the entirety of March! So I felt like I brought some good vibes around. XD

Then I wanted to have an NY area team, and I thought it'd be the Devils because I love Martin Brodeur and Ken Daneyko, and I still am fond of them (I'm trying to be chill about the hockey thing and not feel the rivalries quite as much as in soccer - I still root against rival teams, but I don't feel as much vitriol towards them and their fans) buuuuuuuut things worked out differently than I expected. [livejournal.com profile] kikigirl and I were going to try to go to a Pens-Rangers game at MSG, but it didn't work out and I still really wanted to go to an NHL game, and my parents live really close to Nassau Coliseum, and tickets are really cheap there, so... I went to see the Islanders vs the Tampa Bay Lightning. XDDDDD

So random, but - IT WAS AMAZING. It was easily my best live sports experience, especially men's sports. A lot of the credit for that definitely is how easy the transportation was - even leaving, we live in the opposite direction as the highway so there was no traffic - and it helped that we had great seats. But it was also a really fantastic game and there genuinely was a great atmosphere. Lots of families, lots of women around, which was great (except there were only 5 stalls in the bathroom, cos the building is old as the hills). The team played well and played really hard - effort is something that I have an easier time seeing in person, how hard they go in for what would be called a 50/50 ball in soccer (I do a lot of comparing), that sort of thing. And the way the game played out was just amazing - we were up 1-0 after the first period, then they equalized! We went up again to be 2-1 after the second (so we got to spend both breaks winning) but then they equalized again! My dad apparently felt totally despairing at that point, but we scored again! And then they pulled their goalie (one of my fave things in hockey) and it was still super tense, and then with 15 seconds left there was a great empty-netter - he just cleared it out and it drifted gently into the goal. The commentators (we checked the highlights) compared it to a curling rock. :DDD

So that was just completely fun and delightful and now I'm an Islanders fan!! Against all my better judgement, hahaha. BUT!! Then they went on a points streak for most of April, and qualified for the friggin playoffs!! For the first time since 2007!! :DDDDDDD It was all so exciting and wonderful and I was delighted to have been tricked into loving them. I had to buy playoff tickets as soon as we clinched, even though we didn't know who we'd be playing or what the schedule was. They're moving to Brooklyn in a couple years and tickets will all be way more expensive, and I just had to do it.

Of course, then we stop winning the last couple games of the season and end up the 8th seed in the eastern conference and of course are facing the Penguins in the first round. Of course. XDDD In a way, it's good, because one of my teams will go through. But I wanted to be able to root for the Islanders without hesitation, whereas in this matchup I'm pulling a little harder for the Penguins - aforementioned Iginla factor, plus greater expectations, plus better chances of going farther. Plus it's just so much more difficult a matchup for the Islanders! They've been playing great and most of the other teams in the conference have shown a lot of weakness, but the Pens have been a different level. However!! It does mean that i'll get to see both teams I love, and it'll be amazing to see the Penguins in the playoffs, and even if things go badly whichever way, I can be consoled. So I'm definitely feeling fairly good about how things worked out.

Also amazed at how the scheduling worked out - I knew that the higher ranked team had "home ice advantage" but I had no idea how that actually worked or how the games would be scheduled, especially in the shortened season, but I went for Islanders home game 2 ($65 each after fees, in the corner on the upper level, which is still pretty dang close). Which I kind of thought would be the third game of the series. The playoffs start today so I thought that'd be maybe on the weekend and it'd be nice. Well, what I forgot was that I'm doing an awesome house tour of fancy Greenwich Village townhouses on Sunday - it's a fundraiser, but I'm volunteering and get to go on the tour for free. I did it last year and it's the greatest, I friggin love seeing inside rich people's homes! Very beautiful and luxurious and kind of fantasy-ish. So I realized that game 3 might conflict with this, and then spent the whole weekend fretting at various levels, while I came to terms with the possibility of having to sell off my tickets. I also didn't know who we'd be playing at that point, so there was just so much freaking out, watching scores, waiting for schedules.

And of course it turns out that game 3 of Pens-Isles is indeed on Sunday afternoon, and I would have had to miss it. Except Islanders home game 2 is actually GAME FOUR of the series!! Which I didn't realize until quite a bit after the schedule was released, because I think they just said "game 1" and the date and time rather than "Islanders at Penguins" and the date and time. So then I kind of saw an offhand comment about the first two games being in Pittsburgh and I was like "WAIT WHAT" and spent the next hour in adrenaline-fueled confusion - a terrible state in which to be. XDDD

But YES. It turns out the game I got tickets for is a week from today at 7 PM and I will absolutely be able to go, and will also be able to go to the house tour! And I'd completely forgotten when the tour was when buying the tickets and totally preferred game 3 (cos game 4 could be elimination if the Pens sweep, and regardless of my feelings about the ultimate result, I'm going to the Coliseum to make noise for the Islanders) and totally thought weekend tickets would be great, so if I'd actually understood the scheduling, I almost definitely would have gotten home game 1 tickets and then I wouldn't have been able to go!! All morning yesterday I was kind of still in shock from both relief that it worked out and from how narrowly my ignorance saved me!! WACKY. TIMES.

So now, a little over 2 months from really embracing hockey fandom, I am going to go see my two favorite teams face each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. To quote a meme - that escalated quickly.

a little more about hockey... and feminism )

Oh and you can find me as ambitiouspants on twitter and tumblr now - especially twitter, where I am far too prolific.
guingel: (crackovia fan)
Why am I at work and not at a meeting of the Kyriakos Papadopoulos fanclub??? (which I assume has a New York branch.)

So far just since Saturday, Kiri has -

Scored his first goal in the Bundesliga:

(It was the fourth goal in Schalke's 5-0 victory over Werder Bremen, coming after Raul's third Bundesliga hat trick - I've been giddy all weekend.)

so, so many other things )

And within the past couple weeks, Kiri has also -

Been featured in one of the most amazing photoshoots ever:

CUTEST. CENTER BACKS. EVER.

Recorded a question in truly epic German for Schalke's advent calendar contest, while holding an extremely embarrassed Ucchi in a headlock:

(video here and it's the greatest thing ever.)

I FUCKING LOVE THAT KID. XDDD He's so extroverted and ridiculous and I'm really happy knowing he's on the team because i'm sure he helps bring everyone together - it's actually nice that he's not one of the native German speakers, I think - he's probably comfortable babbling away to everyone regardless of what language they speak. Plus he's built like a tank and I'm just glad to have him playing for us. XDD

He's actually the only Schalke player that I've seen live!! The Greek NT played the Ecuador NT at Citi Field, the Mets stadium, and my sister lives pretty close so we went to see Kiri. (or, as everyone else calls him, Papa.) It was a super duper fun experience! Kiri played well and there was a fantastic atmosphere, we had great seats and we left just early enough that the train was nice and empty. At the time I didn't know Kiri as well but I loved him for being a big, funny-looking mouth-breather (he has a tendency to just run around with his mouth gaping open XD) and for playing for Schalke. And he was so cute, they put down this weird turf on top of the baseball diamond and when they came out after halftime Kiri was all poking at the point where you could see the baseball part starting under the turf. idk, it was adorable!

And since then he's become one of Schalke's starting center backs and we've seen more and more of him, not least of which was this amazing video of him reading Hans Sarpei facts - Hans Sarpei being a Schalke player who, it seems, is kind of the Chuck Norris internet legend of Germany with a massive facebook following. Ahhh, Kiri's terrible German. XDDD I have almost no clue what he's saying but it's the best video anyway.

P.S. Still wildly, madly in love with Raul - so utterly thrilled about his hat trick and all the lovely attention he's been getting this weekend and how much German he's been speaking lately and how insanely adorable and precious and perfect he is. :DDDDDDD Ahhh, Schalke! They may break your heart but they will be ludicrously adorable and delightful and lovable while they do so!

Contract talk: Schalke has a lot of big negotiations to do this January, I'm quite concerned about Farfan and Raul and I know there's quite a lot of financial considerations going on, but... hopefully something will be worked out. Fingers crossed! It seems like Raul and Schalke both want him to stay and it should be a matter of seeing if Raul will accept what Schalke is willing to pay, which will apparently be a paycut for him even if he signs the same contract because he used to be getting some type of massive stipend from Real Madrid (idek) and that's expired. So it'll depend on what Schalke can afford and what Raul will find reasonable. Farfan has more market value and is more able to uproot himself so I hear he's currently asking for more than Schalke are willing to pay... I think he's a fantastic player and very important to us so I hope something can be worked out there. Having a strong second half of the season and being back in the CL next year would be ridiculously delightful so fingers crossed... but you never know what Schalke will do! XD
guingel: (zz shackleton)
If I end up making this entry public, it will start a trend of my public entries being about Sir Ernest Shackleton - although in this case somewhat indirectly. Wednesday the 14th was the 100th Anniversary of Roald Amundsen reaching the South Pole! To me, anything about Antarctica is immediately about Shackleton, his character and achievements tower over all else.

I wanted to do something to commemorate the day, and I'd made plans with my work friend Alison to go to a bar we like called that's Antarctica. They weren't doing anything special to celebrate but at least it would feel thematically appropriate. However, when I got in that day I had an email from her that she didn't think she'd be able to get out of work until 9PM (things are very crazy for her and she's working a lot of overtime. I, on the other hand, get out between 4:30 and 5). Luckily I was able to make a contingency plan to get dinner with friend!Corey.

Corey an I have been making plans to go to a Polish restaurant to get pierogis for months now, I think - I started craving them and suggested we go back to Poland (we went on a whirlwind two-day trip to Bedzin and Krakow last spring and ate lots of delicious pierogis) so that was the original plan but then I was thinking we could do something more thematically appropriate if we went to a Scandinavian restaurant, since Amundsen was Norwegian. Apparently Scandinavian cuisine isn't particularly popular in NYC, one of the top results was the restaurant at IKEA. XD But luckily of the 4 non-IKEA options (3 of which were different locations of the same chain and one of which was ridiculously expensive), one was perfect!! A little bit fancier than my usually dinners out but not prohibitively so, and since it was a special occasion I was ok with going a bit upscale. AND it was super close to Antarctica Bar, which was perfect because Alison realized that she might be able to get out closer to 7:30 (the 9PM estimate was based on a fit of exhaustion and despair the night before).

wooo party timeeeee yeah south pole discovery )


Although Antarctic Exploration is no longer my most recent nerdy historical subject of interest! A wikipedia research excursion into the British perspective on WWII (starting with the Battle of Britain) lead to a more intense immersion into technological aspects of WWII which lead to an overwhelming interest in tactical deception operations and double agents, eventually leading to me taking several books on the subject out of the library (unfortunately, one of them is 800 pages long and impractical for reading on the subway). SO. AWESOME. I've always avoided WWII before, because to me it's so overwhelmingly overshadowed by the Holocaust.

And indeed, there were some difficult moments - I was generally looking into aspects that I'd never really studied before, and overwhelmingly from a British perspective, particularly focusing on areas of Allied success, so generally it was fascinating and as positive as this sort of thing can be, certainly not depressing. But since I have quite a number of unresolved psychological issues about the Holocaust (of which my grandparents are survivors) there were times when I was unable to avoid following a link to something I knew would be disturbing or upsetting, trying to confront this stuff little by little. Since I was coming at things from a British perspective (much of which we never learn about in American schools) there were certain stories from POWs who were in the concentration camps, and hearing about how horrible their conditions are, and then how horrified they were at how much incredibly worse all the Jewish prisoners were being treated is really lingering.

However, for the most part what I was reading about what just absolutely fascinating and cool. The whole period was so technologically fascinating. Nothing was digital but the war was motivating everyone to push all the existing technology to its absolute limit. I've never been someone interested in military history or certainly weapons development but I actually got quite fascinated. The Battle of the Beams was one of my favorite parts - the progression of Luftwaffe radio navigation and British methods of thwarting this, lead by awesome science dude R V Jones.

cryptography, the enigma machine, double agents, sneaky sneaky smart people )

But the greatest double agent - and one of the coolest people OF ALL TIME - is Joan Pujol Garcia, aka GARBO. Absolute genius, fascinating dude, wrote some truly epically entertaining bullshit spy letters to the Nazis. Vital part of the D-Day deceptions that caused the Germans to keep numerous divisions at Pas-de-Calais, thinking the Normandy invasion was just a diversion.


HOWEVER. I think I should actually just end this entry here and write about GARBO another time. I just got his autobiography and I'm so friggin pumped! (half the chapters of which are written by the historian who tracked him down - and unfortunately the historian has a slightly questionable reputation, but on the other hand there's no doubt that the man he found is indeed GARBO so I think it's safe to assume the text is overall as accurate as a book written 40 years later about very secret things can be.) It was quite the struggle just to get it, though! It was supposed to come out in February so I pre-ordered it (it was published 1985 but reprinted 2011) and then I kept getting emails moving the release date forward and back. Then finally I was told it was shipped but I got a little "we couldn't deliver this" note from the post office, and I requested redelivery but they totally ignored me, and the USPS site didn't recognize the serial number on the delivery slip. So I had to go to the post office this morning to get it and the whole thing felt faintly ominous, but the pick up actually went really smoothly so I was happy. :) And now I think I will just read it and not write about it anymore!

Or I'll keep re-watching Ouran High School Host Club... either way. XD (Well, I can't take Ouran on the train when I go home for early Hanukkah later!)

Speaking of re-watching, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ohmiya_sg linking to the JE Index a little while ago, I've totally been re-immersing myself in Johnny's stuff. XDD This is still a highlight though!! (God, there's so many arashi sub communities though! And I've been gone for so long, I have to go through a whole bunch of membership processes and I keep forgetting where I've applied and yeeeesh.)

Oh god and speaking of Schalke, there has been so much unbearably cute Raul stuff lately! Or a quote from our sporting director about rumors that Raul might go to Qatar - "We will speak [with Raul] in January. I do not think Raul will move to Qatar. Raul has not played football so long just to earn money. He will not go anywhere without his family; they will decide his future with him." <33333 THAT'S HOW I FEEL, HORST HELDT! Ahhh I can't wait til I get an improved photoshop for Christmas so I can make gifs of all these new videos.

Haha, I like how long ago I said "i'll just end this entry here." Really for me this isn't a long one, though! Basically almost nothing is behind the cuts. XD I wanted to shorten it for your friends lists but obviously everything i'm saying is way too fascinating to be cut... clearly...
guingel: (zzvero boquete sad)
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] gabrielleabelle at Mississippi Personhood Amendment
Okay, so I don't usually do this, but this is an issue near and dear to me and this is getting very little no attention in the mainstream media.

Mississippi is voting on November 8th on whether to pass Amendment 26, the "Personhood Amendment". This amendment would grant fertilized eggs and fetuses personhood status.

Putting aside the contentious issue of abortion, this would effectively outlaw birth control and criminalize women who have miscarriages. This is not a good thing.

Jackson Women's Health Organization is the only place women can get abortions in the entire state, and they are trying to launch a grassroots movement against this amendment. This doesn't just apply to Mississippi, though, as Personhood USA, the group that introduced this amendment, is trying to introduce identical amendments in all 50 states.

What's more, in Mississippi, this amendment is expected to pass. It even has Mississippi Democrats, including the Attorney General, Jim Hood, backing it.

The reason I'm posting this here is because I made a meager donation to the Jackson Women's Health Organization this morning, and I received a personal email back hours later - on a Sunday - thanking me and noting that I'm one of the first "outside" people to contribute.

So if you sometimes pass on political action because you figure that enough other people will do something to make a difference, make an exception on this one. My RSS reader is near silent on this amendment. I only found out about it through a feminist blog. The mainstream media is not reporting on it.

If there is ever a time to donate or send a letter in protest, this would be it.

What to do?

- Read up on it. Wake Up, Mississippi is the home of the grassroots effort to fight this amendment. Daily Kos also has a thorough story on it.

- If you can afford it, you can donate at the site's link.

- You can contact the Democratic National Committee to see why more of our representatives aren't speaking out against this.

- Like this Facebook page to help spread awareness.


guingel: (x marat eating a banana)
AHAHAHAAA THIS ENTRY. I went to the US Open on September 4th 2010 or something, started writing the friggin entry on the 27th, got back to it on like... February 2011 and variously after that. I AM GOING TO FINISH IT TODAY. I've already been to the US Open again in the meantime but tomorrow is my approximately one-year anniversary because once again I will be back at the US Open for the first Saturday of the tournament. Having this entry in between my 2011 write-ups won't be confusing, right?

I knew... so much less about tennis. And sadly, we only have a couple camera-phone pictures this time. And I didn't know very many players and I was much more into Rafa than I am now and it's all quite strange. This is why you should write stuff within 2 months of what you're writing about, ha. I'm sorry because it's probably really hard to follow what was written when and how I felt about tennis/tennis players at whatever time I was writing. XD

As I said at some point in the writing process:


OK so my trip to the US Open was 23 days ago... from when I started writing this dang thing. Now it's been months and months and another Grand Slam and it's a totally different season and I've learned an incredibly lot more about tennis. BUT I still want to write it up and I'd written about bits of it before and I think I'll remember all the highlights. The vast majority of it was written within two months of the event, I promise! XD

It was, in a word, AWESOME. We got day tickets for the Saturday session - so that means that we had all day and could run around going anywhere we wanted except Arthur Ashe. This was perfect. As was the weather! I was with my twin sister Katie, her fiance David, and his sister Steph. We were meeting up with Brian, a friend of David's, whose family goes every year. One of his brothers was a competitive junior tennis player and is now playing for Stanford or something, so they're a big tennis family.

Generally we were watching the third round of the singles matches, I believe. Definitely for the singles matches.

in nifty expanded summary format )
guingel: (x ferru checking peen)
So we eventually wandered over to Gilles, who was in the fourth set of his match against Ricardo Mello. And it was very crowded (packed with French people!!). And we were almost the last people let in our changeover and there were basically no seats left and we ended up Right. Behind. His. Chair.


SO CLOSE. SO AWKWARD. Hahaha every time he came back for a changeover I didn't even know where to look. I was like "ajdidsofds Gilles is right in front of me I should soak it in... but what if he looks at me? And we make eye contact from like 2 feet away??" It was the closest we got to anyone and we spent the whole day on small courts.

SO MANY PICTURES )
guingel: (x feli crushing)
Yesterday Katie and I went to the US Open! IT WAS AWESOME. We saw at least a game or two of 18 matches, I think, and did drive-by hellos of 2 or 3 more. XD We went with quantity over quality - there were only about 5-6 matches that we saw close to a full set, and the rest we popped in for a couple games and soaked in a lot of doubles action and then ran.

Katie brought a telephoto lens and took absolutely gorgeous pictures - so, in pictures, here is Laura and Katie's Big Day at the US Open. :D I'm splitting it into 2 entries because there are so many pictures!

It started, like all good things, with Feli.


warning!! Image. Heavy. )
guingel: (hat cuddly cold)
wow, sir ernest shackleton looks so different when he has a beard to when he's clean-shaven. of course, he also tends to grow the beard primarily when he's on an antarctic expedition and that'll age the skin a bit. It's not that he's really old in the beard pics, though; he didn't live to a super old age or anything.

no beard:


beard:


lolz:

(promotional image - antarctic expeditions needed sponsors)



although he looks even more different in this picture, to the point where I don't feel 100% confident saying that it's him:


My beloved former roomie got me a little book that I assume is an excerpt from South: The Endurance Expedition, it's by Shackleton but covers only the open boat journey to South Georgia Island and subsequent crossing. It's AMAZING, and reading it is once again bringing to the fore my massive love and admiration for that man. And the entire crew, really - especially Tom Crean and Frank Worsley. And Frank Wild even though he's not really in this book, having been left in charge of the rest of the men back on Elephant Island.

here's a picture of Tom Crean with puppies:
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