Archive for August, 2008

Dear Crunchy,

We drew Joe Sakic out of the Project Bicycle Spoke box today and we don’t know what to write. Do you have any helpful suggestions or tips for a situation like this?

The Ookies
Stately IPB Manor, NJ

Dear Ookies,
Life can’t be all about driving around and having other people do your work for you. You have to figure this one out on your own. If I were lazy and dullardish like you two, I’d get my butt off the couch and do some research to see if Joe Sakic’s been in the news lately for any reason whatsoever, then I’d write about that as if I cared about it. I’d reflect on the decades of stolid leadership and classy play Sakic’s brought to the NHL. I’d acknowledge how hard he had worked to earn two Stanely Cup rings.

Oh, fuck it. Just say, “Joe Sakic? Her?” I mean, we’re all thinking it.


Dear Crunchy,

I am helping my daughter plan her wedding, and we are not quite sure how to handle a delicate situation within my husband’s family. He is estranged from his neer-do-well brother, but my daughter and I are very good friend’s with the brother’s wife, who is a wonderful person. Is there a polite way we can invite my sister-in-law while making it clear that her husband isn’t welcome?

Gloria, Providence RI

Dear Gloria,

Yes, there is a perfectly polite way to handle this. Send your husband’s brother’s wife an invitation to the wedding, and hand-write on the invitation, “This means JUST you. Don’t bring your asshole husband with you.” Then, if she insists on bringing the dirtbag with him, make a huge scene and kick them both out of the reception.


Dear Crunchy,

Do you have any easy recipes for homemade raspberry jam?

Marianne, Carson City NV

Dear Marianne,

Are you retarded? The easiest way to make raspberry jam is to open a jar of it. This isn’t rocket science, you know. Of course, you probably already know that all that jam is going to make you fat, right? Well, it’s probably too late in your case, but it’s my responsibility as an advice columnist to mention it.


Dear Crunchy,

My son recently turned eight, and my husband and I promised him a pet dog, now that he is old enough to help take care of it. Is there any specific breed of dog you could recommend as a good family pet?

Arlene, Augusta ME

Dear Arlene,

For the love of God, don’t get a labradoodle. Other than that, you’re on your own. I’d say get him something with four legs and a tail. Anything less that that will be creepy, and the other kids will pick on him.


Dear Crunchy,

I have been in charge of a book club for the last two years, and until recently it has been an utter delight. All of the members of the club get along well and share similar interests and temperaments. We have lively discussions about the books we read, but everyone is respectful and shares good senses of humor. However, several months ago a new member joined the club, and it’s been a terrible fit. This person is argumentative, negative, confrontational, and seems to revel in ruining everyone else’s good time. Is there a subtle way I can try to gently push this person out of the book club, so we can go back to enjoying our lives?

Paula, Buffalo NY

Dear “Paula” (or should I call you Paul”a”?),

Screw you. If you don’t like me being in your stupid book club, just tell me to my face, okay? It’s not my fault you all are simpering, fat, stupid, fat, idiotic, fat fatties. I believe that the best approach to life is honesty, and if that means hurting a few feelings along the way, then tough. If you can’t handle hearing the truth (i.e. that you’re fat), then that’s pathetic. There’s no point in letting people continue deluding themselves, because really, all that comes from sugar-coating hard truths is that people get fat.


P.S. I’m not leaving the book club.

Dear Crunchy,
I work the late shift at the hospital and as a result, I sleep later into the morning than most people. Every afternoon when I go out to retrieve my morning paper, it looks as if someone’s already read it. My neighbor doesn’t subscribe to the paper, and yet he always seems up on stories covered by the paper. I don’t want to alienate my neighbor, who seems like an otherwise nice guy, but I also don’t want to be sharing my newspaper with him. What should I do?

Terrence, South Bend, IN

Dear Terrence,

It’s called a morning paper for a reason. If you can’t drag your lazy ass out of bed to get to the paper before your mooching neighbor, you don’t deserve to know what’s going on in the world. If getting up early isn’t an option because of the “sick people” in the “hospital”, you could always do what I do — work out a deal with the newspaper delivery service to rig your paper with tear gas and angry killer bees. My neighbors haven’t bothered me for years thanks to the dilligence the Greater Buffalo Newspaper Boy Brotherhood has taken in the effort to booby trap my morning paper.


Dear Crunchy,

I recently considered retirement after spending twenty years in my current job. I thought I was reasonably well-liked and respected, so when I announced I wouldn’t be leaving afterall, I expected a certain amount of appreciation and well-wishes. Instead, I’m hearing people merely shrugged and said, “I didn’t realize he was leaving.” Should I be concerned?

Joe, Denver, CO

Dear EggJoe,




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It was brought to our attention today by Greg Wyshynski over at Puck Daddy that one Derek Felksa, apparently a scientist of hockey fandom, has ranked all 30 fanbases in the NHL, from “worst” to “best”, using an infallibly objective numerical system. Because he’s a man of science, Felksa’s process is unimpeachable, and, since the results have been published, that means they’re replicable as well. We work in the sciences (or rather, Schnookie works with scientists), so we know how these things work. So we can’t argue with a process that looks at hard numbers like “attendance average for the last three seasons”, “observations of fan activity during games” and “observations of fan activity on message boards and blogs”, all quantified on the statistician’s best friend, “a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being outstanding or perfect and 0 being very poor”. The methodology is flawless, and the results unassailably reliable. Numbers don’t lie, Gentle Reader, and the sad news is that the Devils fanbase has now been proven, in cold, hard factual style, the worst in the entire NHL.

It is always shocking to be confronted by statistics like this, but rather than having some kind of hysterical “kill the messenger” response here, we’ve got to man up. So to speak. The fact is, Devils fans suck. Or, as our favorite personalized Rangers sweater we ever saw at a game at the Meadowlands said, Devil’s fans suck. (Schnookie: “That’s not necessarily grammatically incorrect. I mean, imagine the headline: ‘Devil’s fans suck. Car overheats’.” That’s most likely what that guy meant, but we digress.) And the reason why they suck? Us. That’s right, Gentle Reader — it’s all our fault.

Let’s assess our culpability now, shall we? Starting at the beginning, with attendance. This blog stands as a monument to our willful refusal to attend games in person. We actually brag in this space about how we don’t go to games, indulging all our worst impulses by insisting on sitting in front of our TV, wearing pajamas, during every home game rather than supporting our team like real fans. Sure, we talk a big game about how it’s so far to go for games, how Pookie works so distantly south that she’s physically not capable of making it to Newark for 7:00 starts on weeknights, how we just don’t have the energy or werewithal to commit to making a 4-hour round trip for a 3-hour game on any kind of regular basis. But you know what? Attendance is based on ticket sales. We could boost the Devils’ attendance figures (and remember, numbers don’t lie) without ever having to get up off our couch or put on real clothes if we just buy tickets. We don’t have to actually use them, do we?

That leads to the next point, about how expensive Devils tickets are. We aren’t keen on traveling 4 hours round-trip to sit in the nosebleeds, which are the only seats we can afford on any kind of regular basis in the new, pricey Prudential Center. But since we’ve already established that we’re not buying our tickets to use, but rather to pad the attendance stats, that should be neither here nor there. There’s an easy way we can help the team’s rankings, and we’ve been dropping the ball. It’s all our fault.

Dr. Felksa’s second statistical measure is the observed fan activity at games. On the rare occasions that we do live up to our responsibilities as fans and attend games in person, we are clearly behaving underwhelmingly. We do things like “wearing Devils sweaters” and “cheering when the Devils score” and “voicing our displeasure when the play does not go the Devils’ way” and “shouting ‘SUCKS!’ after each name announced in the other team’s starting lineup”. And that’s it. How pathetic. For starters, only sweaters? Where are our Devils hats? And sweatshirts? And tube socks? And tattoos? And facepaint? We might as well be attending the opera for the way we dress. And what’s with the understated cheering? We’re never going to rate above a 1 out of 10 at that rate. Dr. Felksa has accumulated volumes of careful field observation of every fanbase in action, and he’s seen us. We didn’t throw beers on opposing fans, or hurl garbage on the ice after tough losses, or generally elevate our natural levels of douchebaggery to appropriately fervent levels. Seriously, we didn’t even riot after the first round of the playoffs the way the NHL’s best fanbase did! Sure, some people might say that losing in 5 to the Rangers didn’t afford us the opportunity to riot, but a good craftsman never blames her tools. Nor does a good fan blame her team. It’s all our fault.

Finally we get to the observed Devils-fan presence in the blogosphere and on message boards. It’s no secret that we don’t participate on message boards, and consequently have been willfully refusing to rectify the total vacuum of Devils fans there. And as for the world of Devils blogs (we like to call it the “Diablogosphere”, even though it’s just a figment of our imaginations), this rating of just 3 out of 10 falls squarely on us. In fact, we can’t help but take it as a personal failing grade. And yes, it’s true — at this time last year we weren’t just posting every day, we were posting two-a-days. But this summer we’ve only been posting every other day. Thereby causing the composite internet presence of the New Jersey Devils fanbase to plummet. There is only one conclusion a learned man like Dr. Felksa can draw from this: Devils fans are abject failures. If we’d only been posting more frequently, the Devils could surely have surpassed the Panthers’ fanbase on this list. It’s all our fault.

Gentle Reader, we are duly chastened. Fortunately, all is not lost. There is a new season fast approaching, a blank slate, a chance for us to redeem ourselves. This shocking exposure of our fandom foibles is actually a good thing, and we have to thank Dr. Felksa for bringing our shortcomings to our attention now, instead of when it’s too late. We’re in a bad place right now, but there is hope. A little face paint, some flipped police cars, and 10,000 more words a day written on the interwebs should be enough to drag ourselves out of the basement. You have our somber word that we’ll do everything in our power to right the wrongs we’ve done.

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Attention, IPB Irregulars! We’ve mentioned here that it’s time to start thinking fantasy hockey! Now’s the time to get serious (not that we’re never not serious about the business of fantasy hockey — HA!) so here’s the dealio. If you are interested in joining the IPB Superleague (or Amazingleague) please do the following:

1. Email andrew, the fearless commish, at a_d_mattson [@] yahoo [dot] com. Right now there is no set-deadline, but we’ll probably be looking to get the ball rolling on the draft in early September.

2. Tell him which is your favorite team. Remember, this is a cross-conference league. If you’re a fan of an EC team, your fantasy team must be entirely comprised of WC players. There are no exceptions to this rule. There will be no whining until you can get your favorite player on your team. Heather. And no “oops, I picked up the wrong guy” mid-way through the season. Sherry. Heh.

3. Watch this space for more information regarding the Auto-Draft. Andrew will make sure you get an invitation from Yahoo! to join the appropriate league (depending on the number of people signed up, we may need to split into two leagues). We will determine a date for the Auto-Draft that works for as many people as possible (i.e. when Patty’s on vacation). You will then be responsible for removing all players from the opposite conference. You may rank the remaining players as you see fit. Then Yahoo will do the rest! All that you’ll need to do then is sit back and watch as the PanBoxers and Tintin Tattoos kick some butt.

Remember, if you’ve expressed interest in joining in the comments but haven’t emailed andrew, you will need to drop him a line. He needs your email address to make sure you get registered. If you have any questions, let us know!

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One of our all-time favorite blog posts is this gem from Katebits at The Willful Caboose. It’s like the start-of-season version of that fabulous old NHL-on-ESPN commercial that equated the excitement of the postseason starting to the unfettered joy of discovering school’s closed for a snow day. It’s pommerdoodling in blog-form. It’s everything we want from this time of year.

It follows, then, that we were thrilled to be able to pay homage to this fabulous post as we discovered three sure signs that Hockey Is Coming.

First up, the US Open in on our television.

The lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium are the red-breasted robin of Fall. There are few things that signal the early sign of Autumn more than turning on USA Network and seeing a blimp-assisted shot of the US Tennis Center bustling with crowds eager to see a Todd Martin marathon. Todd Martin might be retired, and we might care not for tennis as long as Roger Federer’s going to be a losing loser, but the spirit is always there in this, the harbinger of sports-that-are-more-interesting-than-baseball.

One of the few things that does signal the early sign of Autumn more than the US Open is turning leaves.

Our dogwood is the first thing going on the grounds of stately IPB Manor. The leaves are turning a tiny bit red and its winter berries are coming in.

One more sign that Hockey Is Coming is the trusty Project Bicycle Spoke box’s slow, steady decline in health.

At the start of the summer, the PBS box was all gleaming sequins and shiny macaroni. Now, its glue is coming unstuck, its construction paper is curling, its macaroni is molting.

Some might view this as sad. Others might view it as an indication that our craftsman ship was shoddy. We, on the other hand, view it as a symbol of the circle of life. Silly summer series will soon give way to breathless game diaries and excitable editorials and, in this, the season of Blobby Holik’s return, bewildered musings on “Why, Lou? WHY?!?”

It’s almost here, Gentle Reader! If you put your ear to the ground, you can just about hear the schuss-schuss of skates on ice, the goal horns and jubilant crowds, and the “bitch, bitch, bitch” of the Ookies. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

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Attention, IPB Irregulars! As we type this there’s pre-season football on TV, we’re seeing ads for the U.S. Open, and we’re watching episodes of TV shows that have been moldering in our TiVo since May. You what this means! It’s just about time to set up the Annual IPB Super/Amazing Cross-Conference Yahoo Fantasy Leagues! That’s right, Superleague and Amazingleague are back and better than ever. Once again, all participants must field teams comprised entirely of players from the conference opposite their favorite teams. Once again, the fearless andrew has agreed to be commissioner. And once again, we’re sending out an open casting call for fantasy GMs! Watch for further announcements with the nitty-gritty, but in the meantime ponder whether you’re ready for the awesome power of the most super and the most amazing fantasy hockey leagues around.

And on that note, we’re hanging out our “Gone Fishin'” sign for a few days. We’re jetting off to sunny, sunny, sunny Arizona for a distinctly non-hockey vacation. We’ll be writing a travelogue of our journey over at the lifestyle blog of IPB, IPB Living, if you’re curious what it’s like to go needlework shopping with the -Ookies. Yeah. So. We’ll be back next week and things will go back to normal here. Or as normal as it can be during this, the single most un-hockey-newish off-season ever. We’ll still be checking in often, so no food fights, name-calling (that means you, andrew and Caitlin), and absolutely no making fun of Pando!

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Catching Up With…

This summer, the New Jersey Devils website has been running a series of posts — a series not unlike our Project Bicycle Spoke except for that it’s professionally written, and involves access to “real” players, and so far, hasn’t included a hand-drawn stick figure of Fedor Fedorov — catching up with the Devils on their summer vacations. “Catching Up With…” has been pretty scintilating stuff. Brian Gionta says he’s been preparing for brother Stephen’s wedding. Patrik Elias reports that after a fun-filled day of training, sight-seeing, and enjoying dinner with his wife, “before I know it, the day is usually over!” Blobby Holik bores us with a tres-Blobby-Holik run-down of all of the ice rinks within 200 miles of his house.

However, for all that this series is bringing us closer to our beloved boys (and Blobby Holik), it appears as if the professional writer(s) behind it are going to neglect to an important member of the behind-the-scenes troupe that keeps the team running smoothly. Namely, they’re forgetting Boxworthy. For shame! We took it upon ourselves, then, to ask the butlering turtle how his off-season was going.

Catching Up With… Boxworthy

It has been a very eventful summer for me and Master Zach. It began with a rigorous six weeks of stagecraft on my part, as I endeavored to make Master Zach believe he was still competing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I called in several favors from some of the master’s bantam teammates, many of whom benefited greatly from being on a Mighty Mites team with such a stellar talent. They played the parts of players from the teams that Zach single-handedly “beat” for the “Stanley Cup”. After spending two weeks celebrating his astonishing feat of hockey-ry, I convinced the master to take a small break in remote area, where restricting accidental exposure to hockey and sports media might be easier. Thanks to a tip from a chappie at the animals-of-affairs club, I packed up Master Zach’s steamer trunks and loaded them on a train for Donde Biblioteca, a very, very small town in the Mexican countryside. While there, Master Zach struck up an acquaintance with Lord Tumblingmattington, a decorated gymnastics hero of yore who was convalescing in the tiny desert village. In four short weeks, Tumbly-Tum (as M. Zach took to calling him, blatantly disregarding my encouragement to the contrary) had turned my good man into a top-notch gymnastist. Thanks to some of the gentleman’s connections, Zach become the recipient of one invitation to compete on the United States men’s gymnastics team. I am not going to lie to you, Madames -Ookie, I was skeptical. Very skeptical. It was very difficult for me to not cringe out of fear when Master Zach flung himself around on the parallel bars, and very difficult for me not to cringe out of embarrassment when he pranced around during the floor routine, and extremely difficult for me to keep a straight face when he made pathetic attempts on the obviously over-sized-for-him pommel horse. If he was competing in an athletic Olympics, I was unwittingly a participant in the Testing-The-Stoicism-of-an-Animal-of-Affairs Olympics. However, his moment of glory did come as he was awarded both a bronze and silver medal for his efforts. How I convinced him that bronze and silver could both signify a first-place win I’ll never know. What I do know is that I have earned the four-hour vacation Master Zach has so generously set aside for me before his hockey training begins in earnest.

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Last night the IPB PandoPhone’s red light blinked cheerily. It seems we had a new message! A message from an IPB reader and harbinger of Pando goodness, one Cammy from New Jersey. Eagle-eyed Cammy discovered a special event had gone down recently in Boston that we must hear about. A special event involving Pando. A special event involving Pando and a bowling ball. Dude.

All of the pictures in this post came from the marginally-functional website for Noah Welch’s Hock, Rock & Roll

Dude! It seems Noah Welch organized a fun-filled bowling adventure to benefit Make-A-Wish (good on you, Noah!) and invited Boston’s hippest, hottest celebrity. Tom Brady was out of town, though, so Pando stepped in to fill his shoes. Cammy gave us a heads up that the website for the event — Noah Welch’s Hock, Rock & Roll — contained some pretty kick-ass pictures of PandoNation’s beloved (and feared) emperor-god.

Just being in the presence of PandoNation’s emperor/god made the woman on crutches able to walk.

Also, for the Devils fans out there, the one and only Mike “Pahk the Car in Hahvahd Yahd” Mottau was also in attendance.

No matter how many times he said he could prove it, none of these kids believed that Mottau is actually an NHLer.

There are only two words in the entire English language that we could think up to properly respond to Cammy’s incredible find: “wicked” and “awesome”.

PandoNation is swooning at the sight of those hairy arms!

It got us thinking, though, of what would happen if the entire Devils squad took a trip to local lanes. We suspect it would go a little something like this.

David Clarkson would be DQ’ed on every attempt for stepping over the line while attempting a wrap-around.

John Madden would score all 0’s because he would refuse to accept that simply glaring at the pins doesn’t make them fall down.

Paul Martin would make a bee-line for the snack machine and then head out back behind the building for some quality chillaxing time with his wacky tobaccky.

Patrik Elias would throw gutter balls on every toss, and then roll his eyes to the heavens in an exaggerated head-toss.

Johnny Oduya would get tossed out for breaking the floor after dropping his ball too often.

Brian Gionta would bowl a great first frame, but would then take such a nose dive the lane manager would insist on bringing in the lane bumpers.

Zach Parise would miss his turns because he was following Coach Sutter around offering to polish Sutter’s shoes, get a newer, better bowling ball, or picking up some fresh pitchers of beer.

Marty Brodeur would not be able to release the ball due to excessively sticky-fingers from his lane-side snacking on honeyed dormice.

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