Begging The Question

Saturday, March 12, 2005

"King of the Hill" Quote of the Day
Bill: "It's tough being a kid these days, Hank. All we had to worry about was Vietnam, Charles Manson, swine flu...."
Hank: "Is it that bad now? Heck, a hundred years ago, kids were working in pork factories and coal mines. You can't tell me that wasn't stressful."
Dale: "Hank's right. When Disneyland first started, it was completely powered by orphan children running on treadmills in underground tunnels. And today those kids are the New York Yankees."

Friday, March 11, 2005

BTQ Review: The Refreshments' Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy
Who? What? Exactly. This installment of the BTQ Review should disabuse everyone of any notion that I have (1) any taste in music and (2) any clue what the cool kids are listening to these days.

The Refreshments were a band out of Tempe, Arizona (heh. "Ed's father staked us to starter home in suburban Tempe.") and their music definitely has a border town influence. I doubt you've heard of them, but most of you have heard their music. The Refreshments happen to perform the theme song to King of the Hill.

"Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy" was released in 1996. I think most people would call it "alternative" but it's really just rock with some nice riffs, smarter than average lyrics, and a healthy dose of humor. The subject matter consists largely of stories about going fishing, going to Mexico and getting drunk. Subjects near and dear to me in 1996 - and surprisingly relevant today.

In particular, I would recommend the following tracks:

Down Together - A fun little tune that sounds inspired by falling very hard for a girl.

Don't Wanna Know - A lament to those plans to "get out of here" that never quite seem to pan out. "If you wonder where I'll be in year/ I'll probably be sittin' right here/ but if you know the answer don't tell me anyone/ 'cause I don't wanna know."

Girly - In which the singer discusses various ways his girl can crush him, and then pick him back up and "do it all over again."

Banditos - Sounds like the script for a Tarantino movie - the band wisely observes that the world is full of stupid people.

Interstate - Morose is perhaps too strong a word, but that's about the best the description I can come up with: "I don't need a miracle, but I could use a push in the right direction." I especially like the description of the "velvet black interstate."

Mexico - A song about losing your girl. The solution? Pack your fishing gear, head to Mexico, get drunk, and stay drunk. Lots of mariachi accompaniment in this one.

Why review this cd? Well, Milbarge's King of the Hill quotes reminded me to dig the cd out of my closet about a month ago, I've been listening to it for the past several days and I guess nostalgia (and the need to post something) got the better of me. It's certainly not a cd that I (or anyone for that matter) could consider "essential" but the tunes are catchy and work well in rotation with country of the singer/songwriter variety or alt-rock like Wilco. I'm going to rate this one at 4 1/2 Pepsi cans out of a six pack.

You can pick up the cd here. For the tech-savvy among you, go to iTunes, pick out a couple of tracks and give them a try. If it turns out that you hate the Refreshments, you can send me the bill.

Won't you gentlemen have 4 and a half Pepsis?

You're spies like us!
You may have noticed that for the past several weeks Milbarge and I have each asked five questions of the other and posted the responses as "Friday Fives" - the whole thing was brought about by Milbarge and lifted from the real Friday Fives* which we have been exposed to only through the occasional blog-stylings of TP.

Well, per the recommendation of Scott we've decided to expand our Friday Five. Rechristened "Friday Spies©" we will now collaborate on a single set of five questions and then distribute those questions to any interested parties on Thursdays. For this week, I've sent out the five questions promulgated by Milbarge and answered by each of us below. If you would like to participate, just drop us a line.

*[Ed. note: Do you really think that one more copyright infringment on this site is going to matter? Ha! Two words: Judgment proof.]

Five Questions, Five Answers
1. Tell me what's in your desk drawers right now.

I'm not at my regular desk right now. I'm using a table with a printer and paper below the computer. Sorry it's not too exciting.

2. How many states have you visited or lived in, and which of the
others do you most want to visit?

create your own personalized map of the USA

I feel like I'm forgetting something when I look at it like this, though. Of the ones I haven't been to, I'd like to see the far northeast and the upper midwest. I like cold places.

3. What was the last cd you purchased, and what was the last movie you
rented/bought a ticket to?

The last cd I bought, other than a book on cd, was...a long time ago. I think it was either the Grateful Dead's "Closing of the Winterland" or Gillian Welch's "Time (The Revelator)" or Weezer's Green Album. I bought those all last summer sometime. As for movies, my choices have lately been dictated by my company. The last one I rented was my brother's choice, Starsky and Hutch, and the last one I saw on the big screen was on a night out with some friends at a cozy little theater showing only Meet the Parents. I'm ashamed of myself.

4. Have you ever sung karaoke? If not, what song would you be willing
to sing in front of people?

I haven't ever sung karaoke. I'm a bad singer, very very bad. I don't sing in public mostly for the benefit of the audience; I'm willing to make a fool of myself. The only songs I would be willing to sing would be the kind you could almost talk through instead of need to carry a tune. I think I could do a good job with something like the Dead's "I Need a Miracle" or something by Johnny Cash maybe, like "A Boy Named Sue." I would love to do a duet on his and June's "Jackson."

5. What was the best concert you've ever attended, either because of
the performance or because it was otherwise memorable?

I saw Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson together, and that was a great show. It was also memorable because of the venue -- it was during their tour of minor league baseball stadiums across the country. I like concert albums, but I haven't been to a lot of concerts.

Five for Fitz-Hume
Questions in italics, answers in plain text, blah blah blah...

1. Tell me what's in your desk drawers right now.

A black permanent marker, four highlighters (green, yellow, pink, and orange), four pencils, a pair of industrial size scissors (I don't know why), about 8,000 paper clips, 6 interoffice phone directories, a copy card for the courthouse library, a post-it note containing all my computer passwords, a rubber band, half a roll of extra strength fruit-flavored Rolaids, and $3.83.

2. How many states have you visited or lived in, and which of the others do you most want to visit?

Here is a map of the states I've visited or lived in:

create your own personalized map of the USA

Of the ones I've not yet visited, Montana, Hawaii, and Alaska are the states I most want to visit.

3. What was the last cd you purchased, and what was the last movie you rented/bought a ticket to?

The last cd I purchased was Damien Rice's "O". The last movie I rented was Friday Night Lights. I recommend both (despite my righteous hatred for the Permian Panthers).

4. Have you ever sung karaoke? If not, what song would you be willing to sing in front of people?

I've sung the hell out of some karaoke, but that was a long time ago. It's been almost ten years since I've sung karaoke and I'm not sure I'd be willing to sing anything in front of anyone today. I make an ass out of myself when I speak in front of people. Putting those words to music would only exacerbate the problem.

5. What was the best concert you've ever attended, either because of the performance or because it was otherwise memorable?

The best concert I saw was George Strait back in 1991 before country got all stupid and electrified. Clay Walker opened for him. It was a memorable concert too, because the girl who attended the concert with me (let's not call it a "date") literally leaped out of my jeep while it was moving and sprinted for her front door. I guess she was worried that I might try to put the moves on her. This is the same girl who a few years later asked me if I would be her "date" for the senior prom so that her parent's wouldn't find out that she was really meeting her boyfriend (of whom her parents did not approve because he was black) at the dance. Sorry lady, I'm nobody's beard.

It's Your Blog, We Just Work Here
Every once in a while I'll get the idea in my noggin that it might be fun to be a legal pundit and bloviate my opinions to millions via the magic of television. After all, I once interned in a U.S. Attorney's office, so all I would have to do is don a long blond wig and call myself a "former federal prosecutor" and someone would hire me -- those seem to be the main job qualifications. But then I realize that with such fun times would come the awful responsibility to find something to say about that human train wreck Michael Jackson and his damn pajama pants. (Prediction: pajama pants will be to this decade what parachute pants were to the '80s.)

So, instead of saying anything about that monstrosity of a trial...well, instead of saying anything at all, I'm announcing an OPEN COMMENT THREAD. Fitz and I are both super-busy today (the fact that I'm in the office this early should be a clue), but we'll try to chime in when we can. But even more than being busy, we can't think of much worth talking about lately. So we're going to tell you to come up with something and then act like it's your fault when nothing happens.

Anyway, comment away about whatever you want (although I really don't want to see another donnybrook over tort reform -- it's been done). So, fire away about Jacko or Iraqo or Iran or Lebanon or social security or Phil and Tiger or steroids in baseball (I will name my child after any member of Congress who, during the hearings next week, says, "There's no lying in baseball!") or what kind of job I can get after this one or love or cats or love for cats or exams or whatever comes to mind. If you want to give us suggestions for something to post about, that's great too. Enjoy the comments.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Spies Like Us
The real reason I haven't been posting much lately is actually that I'm pretty despondent over our defeat last week in the Supreme Court. You may have heard about the case, which was styled Tenet v. Doe, but some details are here. Well, now that it's all over, I guess I can tell you that Doe is me. Well, me and Fitz.

It all started when we were just two regular guys...drones in government offices. We were happy but wanted something more.

Eventually we ran into a CIA agent who told us wonderous stories of the adventures we could have working as covert spies for the U.S. government.

However, they needed a team, so Fitz and I shook hands on an agreement to do or die together.

First, though, we had to go through a battery of tests, both written...

...and physical.

Once we made it through that, we traveled to exotic locales and met all sorts of interesting people, to whom we propagandized the American way, of course.

After years of service, and once the Cold War ended, we retired and lived like kings, with a little help from the government, which set us up nicely.

Eventually, though, they decided to cut us off.

Naturally upset about this, we sued. We took our case all the way to the Supreme Court, which was decidedly hostile to our claims.

So, now we're left out in the cold. Good thing I told Fitz to bundle up.

Anyway, that's why I've been quiet lately. I'll snap out of it as soon as I figure out the squabbling Steel Co. footnotes in the opinion.

RIP Chris LeDoux
Chris LeDoux died Wednesday from complications from liver cancer. He was 56. Chris was a champion bronc rider and one of the few authentic voices in country music. Most people recognize him from the 1992 song "Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy" which he sang with Garth Brooks. Chris described his music as a mix of "Western soul, sagebrush blues, cowboy folk and rodeo rock 'n' roll." That is pretty much the perfect description of his songs. Garth Brooks considered Chris one of his biggest influences, and you can certainly hear that in Garth's early work.

I had the good fortune to see Chris LeDoux in concert several times. One of those concerts was in a tiny town in southwest Oklahoma. Chris and his band played on the stage of the high school auditorium. There couldn't have been more than 300 people there - basically everyone in town was at the concert. The acoustics were not great and the venue was small, but the Chris and the guys put on one helluva concert. Afterwards, Chris and the band hung out on stage and spent a couple of hours chatting with fans, posing for photos, and signing autographs. It was one of the coolest concerts I've ever attended.

If you have any interest in country music, especially rodeo music, I'd recommend Chris LeDoux's songs without reservation. He released 36 albums over his career. I don't know how many of his older albums have made it to CD or mp3 format, but for a taste of some of his earlier (and in my view, superior) works, check out Rodeo Songs Old & New ($5.98) and Songs of Rodeo Life ($11.98), or American Cowboy ($35.08) - a 3-disc collection of his best stuff from throughout his career, including "Copenhagen," "The Cowboy and the Hippie," "County Fair," "Ridin' for a Fall," "Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy," and his rendition of "Amarillo by Morning" which may be the greatest country song ever written.

"King of the Hill" Quote of the Day

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Coalition for Darfur
[Ed. note: We have joined the Coalition for Darfur, a group of bloggers committed to raising awareness of the crisis in Darfur and raising money for her suffering citizens. Part of this effort involves posting a short update on the crisis once a week, provided by the Coalition for Darfur founders. For more information, or to donate, please visit the Coalition for Darfur via the logo to the right.]

In May 2004, Roger Winter, the Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development's Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, told a House committee that it was inevitable that "more than 100,000 people will die no matter what" in Darfur, Sudan by the end of the year. Winter went on to warn that, in a worst-case scenario, the number could reach as high as 350,000.

One year later, the estimated death toll stands at more than 300,000. The actual number of deaths is nearly impossible to determine given that the government of Sudan, fearing the truth, refuses to grant access to the World Health Organization so that it can conduct a mortality survey. Nonetheless, knowledgeable observers agree that thousands have died at the hands of the Sudanese government and their proxy militia, the Janjaweed (a term meaning "Devils on Horseback") and tens of thousands more have died of disease and starvation after having their villages destroyed in government-led attacks. More than 2 million Darfurians have been internally displaced, the agricultural economy has been decimated and an estimated 3-4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Nearly two years ago, the Muslim government in Khartoum was in the process of finalizing a peace accord that would end a twenty year civil war between the government in the North and the Sudan People's Liberation Army in the South that had taken some 2 million lives. Fearful that the Western region of Darfur was going to continue to be ignored in the new coalition government that was being formed, African rebels launched a series of raids against government facilities. Rather than negotiate with the rebel forces in the West, the government of Sudan enlisted Arab militias in a campaign to wipe out the rebels and anyone suspected of supporting them. In the process, hundreds of villages have been destroyed, tens of thousands have been raped and killed, and millions have been displaced.

The international community has responded in a haphazard fashion. The African Union secured the deployment of some 4,000 troops to the region, though its mandate was limited to monitoring a cease-fire that neither side honored. Less than 2,000 AU soldiers have arrived and they have limited logistical capabilities for covering this area roughly the size of Texas, nor do they have a mandate that allows them to protect civilians. The United Nations has been plagued by inaction, with China and Russia using their veto power to water down Security Council resolutions seeking sanctions or demanding accountability. A recent UN investigation detailed massive war crimes and crimes against humanity but stopped short of calling the campaign a genocide, a declaration the United States made last September. For now, much of the debate is focused on where any cases arising from this situation will be tried: the International Criminal Court or some Africa-based tribunal.

Angered by the lackluster response to what is widely acknowledged as the "world's worst humanitarian crisis," a group of bloggers have formed a Coalition for Darfur to do what little they can. We seek to raise awareness of the crisis in Darfur, but also to raise money for the vital work that Save the Children is doing by providing food, water, shelter, and protection to over 200,000 children and families in Darfur each month.

Together, and with your support, we hope to make a small but meaningful contribution to alleviating the massive suffering that continues to plague the region. Please consider making a donation via our Coalition for Darfur blog.

"King of the Hill" Quote of the Day
Hank: "Seriously, Peggy, don't ever report a false propane emergency."
Peggy: "Believe me, Hank, I prayed on it. And God told me not to, but I knew better."

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Frostbite: Because the "we're moving servers" excuse only works once
A Los Angeles man who sneaked into Canada to see his Internet girlfriend will be deported - minus all his fingers and some of his toes, it was reported Tuesday. No wonder Milbarge hasn't been posting lately.

I know, I know he's got a book post below. But there's no evidence of when that post was actually written.

Fifty Book Challenge #7: Salvation on Sand Mountain
My grandmother is a foot-washing Baptist. She doesn't make it to her old home church much anymore (she's 91), but every year one of her kids drives her out in the country to the church's homecoming, the June Meeting. There, they occasionally speak in tongues and they wash each others' feet, like Jesus did with the apostles. I've never heard of any of them handling snakes, but if you told me it had happened, I wouldn't doubt it.

Dennis Covington is a writer from Birmingham who thought he could find a story in the trial of Glenn Summerford, a snake-handling preacher who was convicted of trying to kill his wife with his snakes. In case this notion is foreign to you, there's a line in the Bible that says if you believe, you can drink poison and handle deadly snakes, and it won't hurt you. Some of these Holiness churches take that promise literally, and demonstrate their faith by taking up snakes and drinking poison (usually strychnine). Some of them get bitten, and some die.

Covington's book, Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia, is his story of his spiritual journey, first from observing the trial and talking with the members of the Church of Jesus With Signs Following, and then his own spiritual awakening. As the book progresses, he becomes "Brother Dennis" to the church members, and sure enough, takes up a serpent. The book isn't an objective discussion of snake-handlers or their faith. But Covington tells a good story, and the book gives the reader a glimpse into the mindset that would allow someone to do something like that. It's amusing to hear someone discuss a backsliding member and say that when she was in her right mind (that is, with the Holy Spirit), she would drink poison, but not anymore now that she's crazy.

Covington, a former combat journalist in El Salvador, is clearly an adrenaline junky, and that rush is a big part of the attraction for him. But it's also an attempt to re-connect with his own roots. He does some geneology and starts to wonder if he has snake-handling in his blood. One thing that intrested me the most is that snake-handling is a relatively new phenomenon. It's generally not a relic of isolated mountain outposts. Rather, it often rose up after those folks came "down from the mountain" and were faced with the secularism of the modern world. This was their way to remain pure in the Spirit.

Anyway, it's a nice read, although it's not an authoritative treatment on the subject. I especially liked how Covington was able to portray the way that handlers get swept up -- the writing in those parts fairly drags you along in a frenzy. And he ably describes how that feeling is both agony and ecstasy. I recommend it if you're interested in an insider's presentation of snake-handling. Note for the snake-squeamish: there are several photos of people handling snakes.

What would you do if you had a million dollars?
I would have won this auction. And then I would have named the monkey Touch My.

"King of the Hill" Quote of the Day
Bobby: "Strange bathroom, no nightlight...I hope Mr. Gribble isn't expecting 100% accuracy."
Peggy: "Well, sit if you have to. I do. When I have to."

Monday, March 07, 2005

Turkey Fire ain't just a cooking accident
There really is nothing quite like the imminent possibility of losing everything you own to put life into perspective. Back when I was in 8th grade, a prairie fire with the help of a 100+ mile/hour wind almost did just that.

For those who missed my last guest stint, I grew up on a small family farm in central Montana. On Thanksgiving weekend 1990, some relatives were up visiting from the big city of Billings. They were there to enjoy some good food and good hunting. After dinner on Saturday night, we sat down in front of the TV to watch a Penn & Teller magic special. About half way through the program, my aunt who lives a few miles away calls to tell us it looks like there is a fire west of our house. Now pretty much anytime between June and the first snow fall in that area is prime fire season. Every farmer and rancher in the area keeps at least 1 truck with a water tank and sprayer close at hand. So wthout hangng up, we all walked outside, and bracing against the wind, saw a distant glow emanating from the mountains. Sensing no danger, we went back in.

Mom told her that we saw it, and it looked like it was miles away in the mountains. She said there was another one much closer, and it was coming fast. We walk outside, and realize that the row of trees we have to prevent snow drifts in the driveway . After walking far enough to see around, we saw this huge red/orange glow on the horizon. Without a word everyone turned on their heel and went to work.

My dad and I jumped in a pickup and headed to the shop (about 2 miles away) to start up a tractor. There's a field to the west of our house, and we needed to get a fire guard plowed. My uncle took my cousins to my grandparents house which was by the shop, as that looked to be much farther out of the fire's path. My uncle, grandpa, and grandma came back with a grain truck and started loading important items from the house. Dad and I got the tractor started on the first try, a minor miracle for a diesel engine that had been sitting outside in cold weather. We headed back towards the house as fast as was safe, dad in the tractor and me in the pickup.

I drove ahead, opening gates so dad could cut through fields and pastures to where he needed to go. As soon as he was safely across the highway, I headed back to the house. Some items had been loaded onto the truck. A few pieces of furniture, and lots of boxes. There was kind of a constant discussion going on about what to take. Both time and space were limited. It was interesting to see what people thought of first. My grandmother went to save the china. My mom was worried about photo albums. My grandpa went straight for the filing cabinet to save legal/financial documents. When I walked in mom told me to grab whatever I wanted to save from my room.

I'll never forget walking into my room, looking around, and deciding what I really needed. What was there that I couldn't live without. And then I realized there was nothing there I needed. Everything I had was replaceable. I think I packed a duffel bag with clothes to get me through the next few days if needed, but I left everything else. My time was better spent helping everyone else, and then inevitably, fighting the fire.

At one point as we were loading the large truck and other vehicles, the wind picked up even more. As I mentioned at the beginning, the wind was incredibly strong all night, and was measured at times as 104 miles/hour. This was one of those times, and my grandmother who was a tiny woman, actually began to be pushed across the lawn. It was all she could do to brace herself and keep her feet under her. Someone, I forget who, ran and got her. As soon as she was ok, we went back to work.

Forgive me if I don't give times. The night is kind of a blur, and I couldn't say how long any event took. The next thing I remember is dad coming back to the house with the tractor. He said while he was plowing the fire guard, the fire had barely peeked over the edge of the hill to our west, and then it had turned every so slightly to the north, by-passing our house.

Everyone breathed a small sigh of relief, but not for long. My uncle, dad and I grabbed brooms, shovels and buckets, jumped in a pickup and headed north to help the neighbors. When we got to the small town a few miles to the north, there were already several people there. One man, a life-long friend of dad's had lost his house. The fire had started not far from their place, and they had no warning. The house was catching fire as they were driving away. Not much you can do or say for someone at that point. We also got several conflicting reports about other small towns. Someone would say one town was completely gone, and another where the high school was was threatened. Others would show up from the south saying they thought our town had been wiped out. No one knew what to believe.

Groups of us headed out to fight the fire. When it crossed gravel roads, it would be slowed down briefly. While there was no fighting the main fire, that would have been suicide, there was the job of putting out all the small fires left behind so they did not flare up again.

After fighting fire for hours, and driving around and not seeing more to do, we headed home. I remember walking into my room, thankful it was still there, and passing out. I woke up the next day to a beautiful sunny day. A drive around with the family showed miles of black land, but thankfully only one inhabited house had been lost. A community event to help them rebuild their home and property was already being planned. Since that day I have had a great appreciation for the unimportance of material things. I greatly enjoy the ones I have, but they are all replaceable.

"King of the Hill" Quote of the Day
Connie: "You know what I'd love to do? Run away to the Appalachian mountains and play bluegrass all day long with people who know that music is about having fun. People who sing and smile even though they're poor and their faces are smudged with coal."

Bobby: "And I could wear overalls with no shirt and tell jokes about the high cost of mules! Let's do it!"

My Five-Point Plan to Save Hockey
I meant to post this a few weeks ago in the midst of the last-ditch negotiations to save the National Hockey League season, but it's not like it's untimely now with the lockout still going. Here's my thinking. The hard-core fan, like McPan, will come back regardless of how long the lockout lasts. The casual fan probably won't. I consider myself a casual fan at best. I usually know, by catching a few minutes of "SportsCenter" here and there, which teams are doing well. I don't watch regular season games. I watch a few playoff games, though, and a lot of the Stanley Cup finals, which I think are often compelling, especially when we get sudden-death overtime in critical games. So, the NHL can decide it wants to make do with the hard-core fans, or it can take my advice and capture a few casual fans. I doubt it will ever make me a big-time fan, but it would at least make me a little more likely to go to a game. By the way, my advice isn't available only to hockey; you can find my plan to save the WNBA here (item #8).

1. Don't contract, expand. There's been lots of talk of contracting a few teams from the NHL if and when the lockout ever ends. The idea is that the league grew too fast, is spreading revenue too thin, and is in too many markets that can't support a team. I say that the NHL should go the way of the Arena Football League and expand into ten or twelve more markets. Hockey's not like the NFL, where people will drive a couple hundred miles to make a weekend out of a game. People need to be able to get to hockey games and feel like it's their team out there. The way to support more teams in more cities is, first, go to cities like Las Vegas, Winnipeg, Hartford, Seattle, and Portland -- cities with strong minor league hockey traditions or cities that have lost NHL teams or have shown that they can support other sports franchises; and...

2. Contract the roster. Play four-on-four. It frees players for the expansion teams, it opens the ice to create a more free-flowing game, and it will put a premium on speedy skaters and not lumbering goons.

The other points all have to do with the biggest problem in getting casual fans to embrace hockey -- not enough scoring.

3. Shrink the goalie, expand the goal. I'm waiting for an NHL team to install a sumo wrestler in goal. That's what current goalies look like anyway, only they're less mobile. So reduce the size of the padding the goalies can wear. At the same time, expand the goal a bit. It doesn't have to be too much, maybe a foot or so in each direction. The inspiration for this point was my Dad's plan to get Americans interested in soccer: make the goal a bit smaller, but remove the goalie. While we're on the subject of the goalie and soccer, another change ought to be outlawing the goalie diving on the puck when in it's the scoring area to prevent a rebound goal. Currently, when the goalie smothers the puck like this, it results in a face-off in his own zone. But rebounds mean scoring. So what they ought to do is say that if the goalie smothers the puck, the offense gets a penalty shot. The penalty shot is the most exciting play in sports, and is a great chance to score, so there ought to be a lot more of them. A lot of goalies will take their chances on a penalty shot rather than get beat when they're out of position for a rebound, so it's not like it would never happen. But the hockey goalie ought to be like the soccer goalie in the way that he makes a save and then just clears it if he can, not covers it up like he's taking a grenade for the team.

4. Do away with all the other rules that inhibit scoring. For example, there should be break-aways like basketball has -- two-on-ones with only the goalie back to defend. But this never happens because of the two-line pass rule and offsides and whatever else gets in the way. Do away with trap defenses the way the NBA used to outlaw zone defenses. Hockey ought to be an up-and-down game, not a grind. I'm sure there are lots of other little rules I don't even know about, but we ought to get rid of them too.

5. Two words: shot clock. The sure-fire cure to low-scoring games has always been a shot (or play) clock. You can set it high, like sixty or even seventy-five or ninety seconds, but there needs to be one. More shots always equals more scoring. It puts an emphasis on offense and play-calling, and builds in tension every possession.

I know what the purists are going to say: that's not how they play it in Europe. Well, the NHL ain't selling tickets in Europe, and right now it ain't selling tickets in the U.S. either. And for that matter, the NBA plays by some different rules than the internationals, and they're all coming here anyway. And the NFL is the most popular sport in America, and they don't play it like that anywhere else. So have a national team that plays by the international rules so they can go to the Olympics. But if you want to put fans in the seats (in the arenas and in front of the tv), the key is more scoring, but more importanly, a faster-paced, more fluid game. And it ought to be very easy to understand (another good reason to do away with all the lines and offsides and whatnot). My version of hockey will do it, and I'm giving it away to the NHL. All I ask is for one day with the Stanley Cup like all the Cup winners get. For saving hockey, you think that would be the least they could do for me.

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    The views presented here are personal and in no way reflect the view of my employer. In addition, while legal issues are discussed here from time to time, what you read at BTQ is not legal advice. I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer. If you need legal advice, then go see another lawyer.

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