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Well wouldja look at that — Devils hockey is on our TV tonight, and we’re here to watch it! So is there any chance the Devils blew all their winning on Saturday? Have the Flyers blown all their losing (HA!)? Will any of this be as good as the bad-ass banjoing we saw this weekend? Will the sight of the rouge, blanc, et noir be enough to warm our lockout-hardened hearts? How late into the game will we still be making Boxworthy jokes before we remember that he’s a slag-faced turtle-of-affairs and not our problem anymore? We’ll pour ourselves some huge glasses of wine (it was a rough day at work) and see.

Happy Hockey’s Back!

Well, it’s finally back! Yay! And with the new hockey season comes the dawning of the Captain Iron Boar Era, as well as the Acorns Forever Era. These are eras we think we like, but after the Brian Rolston Redux debacle, we try to temper our enthusiasm. You can understand, right, Gentle Reader?

That's Captain Boar To You

Captain Iron Boar casts a long shadow of either awesomeness or injury-proneness. Being Devils fans, we’ll hope for the former but expect the latter.

Anyway, we’d be full of season preview thrills and chills or other deep and insightful blog content (HA!), but we’re actually not going to be around for opening night. We have tickets to a banjo concert. Yeah, hockey, you heard us. A banjo concert. We bought them months ago, when “January 19″ sounded a lot like “a Saturday night with nothing on television”. Happy about your stupid lockout now? So, while we’re rocking out with Bela Fleck, we hope the Devils are rocking out with starting their defense of their Eastern Conference crown (HA!).

But we still have nine and a half seasons of Law & Order to go!

…And one upcoming episode on the DVD menu was called “A Losing Season”.

Pookie: I bet it’s about the Devils.
Schnookie: Ha.
Pause
Schnookie: This was 2000, so actually the Devils were the opposite.
Pause
Schnookie: Heh. It would have been about the Rangers. Heh heh.

Oh, hockey. Sigh.

Hey, Gentle Reader! Happy New Year! 2013 so far has been pretty solid, and is inspiring us to look back with fond nostalgia at the year that has just passed. (Or perhaps we just had an idea to do a year-end post but didn’t get around to it before the year actually ended?) So, while our supposed reason for even having a blog in the first place — hockey fandom — has been on ice for a distressingly long time (HAHAHAHA! See what we did there?), we still have a lot of things we were happy about.

12. Three extra months without Chico

So last night we were watching an episode of Law & Order (more on that later) in which the victim was a youth hockey coach who was killed over an ice time dispute. (Uh, spoilers?) As a plot point came up about how the parents of the kids on the hockey team had a history of brawling in the stands, Pookie tried to remember the term “rabby-do” but completely drew a blank. And then she realized something we’d all been taking for granted: there is no Chico in our lives right now. Huzzah! The lockout is good for at least one thing!

11. Hitting our work/life balance strides

At the risk of sounding all touchy-feely in a corporate HR kind of way, 2012 was a banner year for both of us as far as making peace with our work situations is concerned. It’s generally less of an issue for Schnookie, who has the cushiest job in the history of cushy jobs, but Pookie took on some serious, long-term headaches in her job and learned how to process them without any extra angst or unhappiness. We know in this day and age that we’re lucky to have full-time jobs at all, but it’s especially nice to be able to honestly say that we’re both happy to get up in the morning and go to work.

10. Melvins Lite

This may come as a surprise to you, but we are massive, massive dorks. And always have been. So way back in the early ’90s when we were in high school and “alternative” music was easy to find and we were into cool bands and shit, we were not nearly cool enough to be the kinds of people who actually went to see said cool bands in concert. Then we got old enough to be able to spend our own money on tickets to things and to drive ourselves to the venues for those things, but those things always turned out to be hockey games. This fall we got our shit together and ventured into the scary world of concerts performed by rock and/or roll bands. In October we saw Melvins Lite at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, and it was awesome. Sure, the drive there was the shittiest shittiness that ever was shitty, and sure, the waiter at the Mexican place where we had dinner spilled Schnookie’s mole sauce all over her lap, and sure, we felt like massive, massive dorks who stood out like sore thumbs in among all the concert-going veterans. But damn. You know what sounds amazing live? Melvins Lite. (Also, they’re loud. Very, very, very loud.) We also spent about an hour before the show rubbing elbows with Buzz, Dale, and Trevor, and then got all the cool shit from the merch table after the show and were walking on Shevil-fueled air for days afterward.

Melvins Lite (Lite Not Pictured)

No, we didn’t bring nice cameras with us.

9. Law & Order

Every summer when hockey goes away we wile away the summer by watching full runs of old TV shows on DVD. (Who can forget such great off-seasons as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman or Walker, Texas Ranger? Not us!) Figuring this was going to be an extra-long summer, we had to break out the heavy artillery for it: Law & Order. And it has lived up to all of our expectations and beyond. For starters, it’s a lot like watching a Devils game in that when it starts, we know exactly how it’s going to end. Also, we love the patented Jack McCoy cross-examination burn! The Lennie Briscoe one-liner! The arraignments! And the fact that, six months later, we’re only halfway through the full run.

8. Double farm share

In previous years we have gotten entirely not enough vegetables from our farm share. This year we signed up for a second one, and life was abundantly vegetable-y. Sure, “we got lots more vegetables from a CSA” sounds dull on paper, but in reality it was a game-changer.

Farm Week 19

This was just one week out of 26. Oh, summer of plenty, how we loved you.

7. New House

On New Years Day 2012 Boomer read us our extended horoscopes for the upcoming year (she’d found them on, like, Yahoo or something. We’re not normally horoscope people). All three of them talked extensively about how we were going to get a new house in the coming 12 months; that was horrible. We didn’t want to leave stately IPB Manor. We love it here! It’s perfect! No, horoscope, don’t make us go!

Well. 365 days later, it turns out it was all true — we got a new couch (which, if you sit in your living room as much as we do, might as well be the entire extent of one’s house), grow lights for our garden seedlings, a new amazing front door, a new beautiful color on the outside of the house, and we converted from an electric cooktop to a gas one. Dude, it is a whole new stately manor.

April 23 2012

Look at those baby tomatoes go!

October 14 2012

Where all used to be horrible, blah, depressing blue, now there is pink!

April 7 2012

Where all used to be dreary and dark, now there is a Dutch door with massive sunlight! And that blobby thing is a kitty igloo — don’t judge us.

6. Canning

Okay, yes, we learned to can stuff during the fall of 2011, so technically this wasn’t a new addition to our lives. But it was our first year of doing whole-hog food preservation during a summer of plenty. As the dark days of winter are rolling along, we’re neck-deep in all the flavors of summertime, and cooking is fun, fresh, and exciting for all the exotic condiments and pickles and ingredients we made ourselves.

Garden Grub 118

This is only part of it. Seriously. We did a LOT of canning.

5. Vinyl

We have become, over the last 18 months, Mike Patton completionists. So when Secret Chiefs 3 released a recording of “La Chanson de Jacky” with Patton on vocals, we needed it. Only… it was only available on vinyl. Sigh. We didn’t want to do it, but we really had no choice. We started with a little toy record player…

July 7 2012

So cute!

…and quickly upgraded to a grown-up turntable.

September 25 2012

Less cute!

Before long we discovered what audiophiles and hipsters and people who compulsively collect things have known all along — vinyl is so much fun. In fact, we read someone floating the notion that the NHL should offer Center Ice for free if they actually end up having a truncated season this year, and we hope that happens because we just spent our Center Ice budget on Big Business and Creature With The Atom Brain records.

4. Kittens

We had to say goodbye in short order to three of our family members over the last 14 months (Mahmoud, Dr. Shopdog, and Roy). But we also welcomed two new little denizens to stately IPB Manor, and they couldn’t be more delightful. Kitten mischief is something we were sorely lacking.

Happy Cat Bench Monday, Window Edition

Fabi and Zizou aren’t tiny anymore, but they’re still cute.

3. Being fully music-enabled

So, you know how we’re obsessive vinyl freaks now? Well, part of the fun of them is we invested in a set of wireless speakers that mean we can listen to our records (and digital music, but that’s less fun) all over our house now. And we keep finding more and more amazing music because Pookie, being a superstar reference librarian, is able to harness the powers of the internet to keep us abreast of all kinds of cool shit. We used to have literally no idea how to find new music, and we’d go three or four years at a time without any kind of expansion to our horizons. But now we’re not going more than three weeks without finding something new that we love. It’s like going from having only local public-access broadcasts of our local peewee hockey team’s games shot on VHS to having full-HD Center Ice. And hey, if there’d been an internet back when the mainstream stopped playing the kinds of music we liked, we would never have gone 20 years without ever attending a rock concert. Thanks, internet!

2. Devils getting to the SCF

Remember hockey? If we squint, we kind of almost can. And that’s a good thing, because dude — the Devils went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012!

!!!!!!!

Seriously! And what’s more, they beat the Flyers and the Rangers in taking the Eastern Conference. Hockey in 2012 was awesome.

1. Afghan Whigs at ATP

Remember way back in our list when we said we loved seeing Melvins Lite playing live? Well, that was small-time compared to what happened a few weeks prior.

September 22 2012: or Rock And/Or Roll

There simply are not words.

We went to see the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in New York City, because The Afghan Whigs were headlining. Back when were massive, massive dork teenagers, The Afghan Whigs were on our very short list of favorite bands, and as the years went by most of those bands fell off the list, but the Whigs stayed. To put this into hockey perspective, we were Afghan Whigs fans four years before we started watching the Devils. They had a reunion tour this summer, and that was what prompted us, after 20 years of being massive, massive dorks, to stop being afraid of going to concerts. And holy shit. HOLY SHIT. Did that day ever make up for lost time. We also saw Dirty Three and The Antlers and we ended up in the second fucking row for Mark Lanegan Band and then the Whigs. Like, ten feet away from Greg Dulli. And the show was insane. And honestly, we are still giddy just thinking about it. You know how there are those rare, stand-out, perfect days that you remember in crystal-clear detail for years and years? Yeah, this day was one of those.

You know what’s been hard during these long months of lockout-induced hockey privation? Having no socially-acceptable outlet for our hate. When you’re a sports fan it’s considered normal to violently hate an entity of an opposing team, including all the players and managers associated with it, any animals or historical figures that serve as its mascot, any colors it claims as its own, and especially anyone who has the gall and/or stupidity to cheer for it. This is a lot of hate a fan can carry in their heart, and no one thinks twice about it. But when you don’t have a sports outlet for your hate, it starts to look unseemly. But you know what? There’s no getting rid of it once the hate starts, and now that the Rangers and Flyers and Caps and Canada aren’t there for us to wish ill on, we’ve had to turn our bitter bile onto other subjects. And what’s drawn our ire in 2012? Well, here are the top three:

1. Cassadee Pope. Anyone else here watching “The Voice” during the lockout? Because that’s become our new obsession. And about midway through this season Schnookie declared, after another typically shrill, bombastically-phrased, “pop-rock” performance, that Cassadee Pope is “worse than Hitler”. And it seems that America is very fond of Hitler, because she just keeps on trucking, and will likely win next week. Ugh. America is apparently incredibly stupid and has terrible taste in music, because Cassadee Pope is so bad she’s like if Hitler played for the Rangers, but worse. That is not an exaggeration.

2. The new iTunes. If you’re also an iTunes user, have you made the mistake of upgrading yet? Because it’s maddeningly bad. Just awful, awful, awful, and we can’t seem to find anyone else online complaining about it. Why is that? Is the rest of the iTunes-using universe really completely enamored of a system that makes absolutely no sense at all? We’ve been happy iTunes users for years and years, and suddenly we both feel like some kid’s grandmother who’s logging on for the first time. Who thought such a counterintuitive, opaque, inscrutable format was a good idea, especially when its been a platform that has lapped its competitors for years because of its obvious usability? Fuck you, Apple! This new iTunes is like what Hitler would use if he was the DJ for the Rangers at a team party, and he really wanted to spin a bunch of Cassadee Pope tunes.

3. That KCRW took down the HD, standalone video of the Afghan Whigs doing “Mean Sleep” with Van Hunt. Sure, you can still hear it if you listen to or watch their entire “Morning Becomes Eclectic” appearance (it’s the second-to-last song), but it’s not in HD! And it’s not standalone, so we can’t just randomly queue it up when we’re looking for a musical pick-me-up or earhole cleanse, like, say, after we’ve just watched Cassadee Pope perform on “The Voice”. We’d make some kind of tasteless Hitler joke about this, but we don’t want KCRW to get mad and take the whole performance down entirely.

OK, Now We’re Mad!

Thanks to the triple-whammy of the Devils playing as late as they did last season, Assassin’s Creed III being released at the end October, and the discovery that “The Voice” does a decent job (in a junk-food kinda way) of filling the “competitive but mostly low-key and fun” role of early-season games, we’ve managed to do a pretty good job of being chill about the fact that there’s no hockey on our TVs. One thing the lock-out has let us do is focus more energies on finding and listening to new (and new-to-us) music; another thing it’s let us do is not see the same NY Kicks commercials a thousand times a night on MSG. So yeah, we’re chill.

Or rather we were! There’s only two reasons why seeing the same NY Knicks commercials a thousand times a night wouldn’t be a pain worse than death. One would be if the commercial started with some dorky dude shouting “We’re baaaaaaallin’!” We’ve never made any bones about how here at stately IPB Manor, the phrase “we’re ballin’” is guaranteed to get more than a snicker from us every single time. That commercial aired years ago, and yet it’s still a source of much amusement for us. We’re very sophisticated.

The other reason would be if the commercial was set to one of our favorite songs:

So what MSG is saying is that right now, if only the NHL and NHLPA could play a little nicer with each other, we could be watching competitive-but-mostly-low-key hockey and listening to good music? At the same time?! A thousand times a night, every night?!? Alright, now we’re pissed at this stupid lockout!

But… we’ll worry about it after this next mission in Assassin’s Creed III.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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