KIDS ONLY Restrooms?

Sign at the Bethel Park Library reads “Family Restroom: Please see Circulation Desk for key”. I go up and ask for said key.

The middle-aged woman behind the desk says, “There’s a restroom outside those double doors that you don’t need a key for.”

I ask if the restroom is out of order.

She replies, “No but that’s like, for kids…and stuff.”

I figured there should be a sign that looked something like this outside the restroom, but I couldn’t find one:

kids

I got two things out of this encounter. One, I didn’t realize there were restrooms specifically geared toward children. After all, the sign does read “Family”. Two, I’m happy to know I was denied access to a restroom that my tax dollars went toward. Don’t worry, I did get to pee.

Considering the occupants, this would be a good look for the Bethel Park Library restroom:

bathroom

Let’s Get Mushy For A Second

I just want to take a moment to reflect on how grateful I am for everything I have in my life. My new home that I’m loving every second living in, my loving family that goes above and beyond to be extremely supportive, helpful, and generous with everything, my beautiful and amazing girlfriend that I don’t know what I would do without, and my friends, who’ve been there every step of the way with everything I do. I know I’m a bit different and can drive some people nuts at times, but there’s no feeling in the world to know I have people who truly care and stick by me. I wouldn’t trade any single one of you for anything, not even a Blizzard from Dairy Queen. Well, then again…

Just don’t let my debit card get hacked next time, DQ! I don’t know how long I’d live without you.

dq

I’m Back!

I sincerely apologize for the long delay. I haven’t updated since April, when I posted the rough draft for my book, “Two Girls, One Schmuck”. The book is now available on Amazon, and has been since June!

GET IT HERE!

Paperback:

Kindle:

So what’s been going on with me not posting? Well, I started working full-time in April, got a girlfriend, and now live in my own home. Lots has changed! I’m finally cut from the umbilical cord, out of my diaper, and on my own. It takes up a lot of time, takes a lot out of you, and before you know it, six months goes by and you wonder where the time went. Honestly, to me, it feels like six days.

I’m going to start updating this site as much as possible. My laptop is a piece of shit and I don’t have a PC in my home, so I have to get to a library computer to update. I’m working on getting a new laptop in the near future. Fear not, the updates will come and they’ll come more frequently. I owe it to you folks for taking the time to check out all the crazy shit on this blog. Actually, you know what, screw it. I’m going to post a few things on here today.

I think I’ve had enough time off.

“Two Girls, One Schmuck” Final Cover & Details!

Ladies and gents, the cover (back & front) of my first book, “Two Girls, One Schmuck”. Available SOON on Amazon for $12. I know I originally said $10, and I apologize for the change. I just wasn’t anticipating just how much of the profit would be taken for production and distribution. I’m hoping this doesn’t discourage any of you from buying it! Many of you have already pledged to pick up a copy, and I’m sincerely grateful for that. I already ordered the proofs of the book, and I should be getting them in the mail any day now! We’re getting closer and closer to getting this thing up for sale, and I couldn’t be more excited. I couldn’t do it without Wesley Attwood and all of his guidance. Thanks everyone for all your support!

Image

Follow me on Twitter @SullyShow17

E-mail me at sullymailbag@yahoo.com

Two Girls, One Schmuck: The (ROUGH) Cover!

Ladies and gents, I know I haven’t been updating as much, but there’s a reason for that. I’ve been focusing on the publication of my first book, “Two Girls, One Schmuck” which will be out real soon! I don’t wanna give an exact time frame because there’s still quite a few things that need to be done. Editing is a bitch, especially when I have to read everything word-for-word over and over and over and over. Since folks will be spending their hard-earned money on this thing, I wanna make sure it’s as great as it can possibly be. I do think the editing is about done, though; on the inside, that is.

The actual text of the book, the “meat” so to speak, is just about done. Now it’s all about putting the finishing touches on the cover and the design for the back of the book. I need to give my tax info over to CreateSpace.com since I’m gunna be making some money on this. Yeah, it’s a bitch the profits from MY work (my first BOOK!) are going to be taxed, but I have to follow the rules like everyone else I guess. I just can’t help but feel like some money is going to be stolen from me in the way of taxes. I still have to go over the details on that with Wesley, but that’s the impression I’m getting and I’m probably going to be right. Unfortunately.

But let’s not let Uncle Sam ruin this party! I bring you the ROUGH cover for “Two Girls, One Schmuck”. The cover was designed by my dear friend and fellow author Wesley Attwood and let me tell you, I think it looks great. Aside from things we’re going to fix like a little blip in the upper-left corner (where you can see double brick walls and double trees) and the jagged nature of the silhouette images themselves, this is pretty much what the cover will look like when it’s all said and done. I love the black and white scheme, and I especially love the silhouettes of the lovely ladies. No, these aren’t actual images of Princess and Cinderella. That would be a lawsuit waiting to happen. They do look pretty damn sexy, though. Whoever thought computer generated images could be so hott?

For those of you who don’t know by now, that’s a photo of yours truly smack dab in the middle. Wesley snapped this photo of me mid-sentence last year while we were sitting outside of Starbucks. Apparently lot of folks on Facebook found this photo to be either strikingly cute, humorously creepy, or both because it’s received over 50 Likes. I hope this book gets over 50 BUYS! That would be incredible. “Two Girls, One Schmuck” will be available SOON on Amazon.com for only $10. Pick up a hard copy or snatch it for your Kindle! You will NOT be disappointed.

               Image

I’m Publishing A Book

That’s right. As the title of this post suggests, I’ll be putting my first book out this year! The book will be called “Two Girls, One Schmuck” and will feature “A Virgin Suicide” and “I’m With You, Kinda Sorta”. The stories were so successful as far as viewership on this site that I couldn’t pass the opportunity up. I’ve been wanting to publish a book for a long time, but never really had the motivation to do so. My good friend Wesley Attwood (aka “The Dark One”) published his first book “Dances with the Kachina” a few months back and that finally lit the fire under my ass that I needed to get this thing done. Wesley has been busting his hump for me through this whole process and I greatly appreciate it. (Check out my interview with “The Dark One” in a recent post). The crux of the book is already finished, so now it’s on to the editing and cover art stage.

The book will be published through CreateSpace.com and sold on Amazon for $10. A lot of you have already expressed interest in purchasing this book, and that means the world to me! I hope to have this thing out within the next month or two. I’m not going to rush it, though. I want it to be as perfect as it can be, especially since y’all are spending your hard-earned cash on it. I’ll keep you folks posted as Wesley get further into the editing and artwork process!

1-on-1 with Andy Hughes of The Pens Nation Radio Show!

andy suit n tiepens nation

You do a podcast with a few other guys called The Pens Nation, which features guests such as Josh Yohe and Mark Madden. Does the fact that you do a podcast centered around hockey mean that hockey is your favorite sport?
Well, I played baseball for about 13 years and always considered it my favorite sport. But, even as a kid watching the “X Generation” Penguins, I loved hockey. I loved going to the Mellon Arena to watch games and as time went on, I kept learning more and more about the game. I’ve always been a huge fan of hockey, but my interest just kept escalating as time went on. Hockey and baseball are my favorite sports, but it’s hard to pick one over the other.

What exactly got you into sports in the first place?
I’m not exactly sure what got me into sports. I was named after Andy Van Slyke, a former outfielder of the Pittsburgh Pirates. So I guess you could say sports have been in my blood since the very beginning. My parents always took me to sporting events as a kid and had me in the room when they watched events on television. Sports have always been one of my favorite things in life. The competition and its ability to bring people together are two of the things I love most about it.

How did the Pens Nation Radio Show get started?
During my freshman year of college, I decided one day that I wanted to make a blog about the Penguins. I didn’t really have any big goals in mind. I just wanted an outlet where I could post my thoughts about the team and try to bring in some traffic to the blog. Here we are four years later and I can’t believe what has happened. It went from being just a fun thing to do on the side to something I really am passionate about. Because of my heavy workload in college when I started the blog, I needed help running the site.

I basically asked people on Twitter if anyone had interest in writing and I received a decent amount of requests, surprisingly. We brought a few people in and things progressed very well. In December of that year, we decided to take the blog to the next level by adding an online radio show. We were able to do live shows almost every night during the week. That brought in an entire new audience. We really took a huge step with the guests we had on the radio show, such as Josh Yohe, Mike Emrick and Gary Roberts.

Currently, we have an awesome staff that all contribute to the site’s success. They deserve all of the credit in the world. We all are best friends too, which is the cool part. None of us knew each other before the blog. Twitter can be very powerful!

How many subscribers and downloads has the Pens Nation had so far? Guess if you have to.
I’ll be honest. I really don’t have any numbers in front of me, but I can say that our numbers have increased as time has gone on. We continue to look for great guests to bring on the show.

Who do you find yourself agreeing with the most on the podcast? Agreeing with the least? Why?
That’s a really tough question! I cannot really say either way, to be honest. We all have different opinions on different subjects, but I find it pretty even most of the time (for me at least). We enjoy debating different subjects in the hockey world!

The Pens are 40-15-3 heading into the Olympic break, with a great amount of their success coming at home this year. What’s been the key to their success at Consol so far this season?

They have been incredible at home this season. When CONSOL opened, people thought it was cursed because the Penguins struggled in that inaugural season at home. That hasn’t been the case this season. A big difference from this year from previous years is that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been relatively healthy. Malkin has missed some games, but they’ve had at least one of those superstars in every single game.

Pittsburgh has dealt with a ton of injuries this year, but the call-ups have done a tremendous job. Dan Bylsma’s positive attitude has made them look confident at home. They’ve played solid defense for most of the year and obviously have some tremendous talent offensively. To answer the question, though, I would say their confidence seems to be higher at home and Bylsma has done a better job matching up with opponents on home ice.

Many people seem to think James Neal should have made Team Canada. Why the snub? Do you think Neal skating into the head of Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand back in December had anything to do with it?
Yes, I think that contributed to him not making it. Honestly, I didn’t think he should make it for that reason. We have seen Neal lose it emotionally many times and you can’t do things like that in the Olympics. His quick release is one of the best in the NHL, but he needs to be smarter on the ice without the puck. Another factor is that Neal is still only 26. He’s going to have a good chance to participate in the Olympics in four years at age 30.

Some of the veterans won’r be in the game at that time and Neal should be even more established. Neal would probably make any other team in the Olympics, but Canada’s depth at forward is unreal. Getting Neal some rest isn’t the worst thing in the world, either. He has been a little banged up this season and will be ready to go when NHL play begins in a couple weeks.

neal

Do you agree with Team Canada choosing Chris Kunitz? Or do you think another player would have been a better fit?
Yes, I do agree with Kunitz getting selected to Team Canada. His chemistry with Sidney Crosby could turn out to be very valuable in the Olympics. Why force chemistry when you already have it? These Olympic games go quick and there isn’t a lot of time to develop chemistry. That’s one reason why he got picked, but not the biggest one. Kunitz brings some things that some other players on Canada do not. He isn’t the most skilled player, obviously, but his work ethic and ability to open up space is something that will be very valuable in the Olympics. Canada made the right choice by selecting Kunitz.

So far, in my view, Kris Letang has proven his massive contract to be a massive failure. The latest news it that Letang suffered a stroke and will be out at least six weeks. What are your thoughts on Letang and do you agree with the Pens bringing him back? Let’s move on already!
First of all, I want to wish Kris Letang my prayers. He’s dealing with some very tough issues right now and needs all of the support he can get. I would be shocked if he returned in six weeks. A stroke is very serious. He needs to focus on his personal life at this time and put hockey aside. Letang is one of those players that you will love at times and will call out at other times. That’s just the way it goes with his style of play. He can do things with the puck that most defensemen cannot even come close to doing.

His skating is so fun to watch and the Penguins love having him on their team. However, he does make a ton of mistakes defensively, which can be hard to watch in the postseason when every goal against is so crucial. He didn’t start this season very well in that aspect, but I do think he was improving a bit before he went out with the illness. In the offseason, I wanted Ray Shero to at least listen to offers for Letang. He may have done that, but he may not have gotten good offers for him. Therefore, there was no reason to just give him away.

I do think the contract extension is a big risk, but with the salary cap going up next season, it may make the deal look a bit better as time goes on. I just hope Kris is able to get back to 100% and can hit the ice once again to compete in the NHL. If the Penguins do run into some financial issues down the road, Letang may be a trade candidate with his big cap hit. I would be okay with that, but only if Pittsburgh gets a significant return.

What’s been Fleury’s problem in the playoffs since ’09? Being great in the regular season is all well and good, but he hasn’t demonstrated that he’s been able to have any measure of consistency in the postseason. What needs to change this year?

I’m not even sure Fleury knows what happened in the past few postseasons. He’s been bad in them. There is no doubt about that. I think Mike Bales and the sports psychologist really helped him hit the restart button. He does not talk to the media before games now and just seems to be more serious. Sure, he still has fun, but he is a bit different now. Fleury has always been quick and athletic, but he seems a bit calmer in the net this season.

In previous years, he has panicked in big situations and tried to do too much. He seems a bit more focused on his positioning this season, which has contributed to his success this season. His numbers are very good for a team that plays a style like the Penguins do. I would expect the Penguins to do better defensively this postseason. That should help Fleury have a much better postseason this spring.

fleury

Simon Despres has certainly had his ups and downs ever since he was drafted by the Pens in ’09, but it seems to me like he’s had more downs. Do you ever think Simon Despres will be a top-4 defenseman in the Pens organization? Or any NHL team for that matter?
Simon Despres seems to be getting the Eric Tangradi treatment. Despres has a much higher ceiling than Tangradi ever did, but it seems like he has a short leash. If he makes one mistake, he gets sent to the press box the next game. That’s a tough situation to be in, and one I know I would not want to be in. It’s hard to play mistake-free hockey when you are not in a game every night. Despres probably should be in the NHL right now, but he is still stuck in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Before the Letang injury, I thought that he was Pittsburgh’s first trade chip for the trade deadline. Things have changed now with Letang’s condition. What happens if another defenseman goes down? Then the Penguins will need Despres. It’s a really tough situation to be in for Shero.

How do you think Jeff Zatkoff has handled himself in his first season in the NHL? He definitely had a rocky start, there’s no doubt about that. I would still feel more comfortable with Tomas Vokoun in there in a big game (assuming he’s had sufficient practice time), blood thinners or not. If and when Vokoun comes back, what happens with Zatkoff? Has he been playing well enough lately that Vokoun is expendable?
Jeff Zatkoff has been one of the best stories for the Penguins this season, in my opinion. This guy came in to the season thinking that he would play in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. After the Vokoun news, people panicked about the goaltending situation. Marc-Andre Fleury had struggled in the playoffs and Zatkoff had not started a single game in the NHL. Obviously, things have changed quite a bit since then. Fleury is having one of his best seasons and Zatkoff is 9-2-1. He did have a rough start, but this kid is a really good person and understands what it takes to be successful in this league.

Penguins goaltending coach Mike Bales has helped him a lot this season and I don’t think he is going anywhere. Vokoun probably is not coming back until the playoffs, at the earliest. The Penguins are already short on cap space and bringing Vokoun back during the regular season won’t help them. He still needs more time to heal, anyway. If Vokoun does return, Zatkoff would have to go through waivers to go back to the AHL. That will not happen. He already signed an extension and will most likely back up Fleury next season.

Thoughts on the Jacques Martin hiring? What do you think he brings to the bench that maybe Granato and Rierden don’t?
I loved the hiring from the beginning. His defensive strategies have made a big difference this season. During the beginning of the year, we saw the Penguins going to the 1-3-1 in different situations, which was awesome. The more looks you give an opponent, the better. In the past few years, other teams were basically able to predict what the Penguins were going to do. They are having a much tougher time with that this season and Martin is a big reason why.

Deryk Engelland, a big stay-at-home defenseman most of the time, has made a mark this year as a winger, scoring a few goals in the process. Why move him if it’s showing results? You still have Bortuzzo to bring that physical element to the back end.
I laughed when they moved Engelland to the wing because I wasn’t a huge fan of his at the time. But, I have seen him do some good things as a forward with the Penguins. He doesn’t need to cover as much space as he normally would and obviously brings a physical presence. I’m not sure what they’ll do with him in the postseason, but I would keep him at forward. Robert Bortuzzo is a much better option on the blue line than Engelland.

Talk about Olli Maata and the amazing rookie season he’s had thus far. He made Team Finland along with Jussi Jokinen!
It’s been quite a year for the 19-year old. I watched him in Development Camp this summer and he looked so much better than everyone else. There were more experienced defensemen in the camp and he still stood out the most among all of them. I didn’t think he would make the team in camp, but he did and the Penguins made the right choice keeping him. Things may have been much different this season without Maatta. He has scored some big goals and has played some great defense.

His decision making on the ice is something that I have never seen with a player at his age. He looks so comfortable out there. This is a player that should never leave Pittsburgh. In addition to his great play on the ice, he is a really nice guy off the ice too. Believe me; he’s loving every moment of this year. He has probably smiled more this year than he ever has. Maatta has to be considered a candidate for the Calder trophy.

He’s made a big difference with this team as a rookie. It will be fun to watch him on Team Finland too. He never thought he would be on the Olympic team this year, but it happened and he could not be happier. He has been blown away by all of the experiences he has gone though this year, but I think we can all admit he has earned it.

olli maaattajokinen

With Pascal Dupuis lost for the season with a torn ACL, who do you see eventually fitting into that third spot alongside Sid and Kunitz? Do you see Beau Bennett eventually being the guy?
I think Bennett is the only guy the Penguins could put in that slot when he’s healthy. Brian Gibbons has done a solid job, but there is no chance he can play there in the postseason. They’ll need to make a trade for a first line winger or put Bennett in that spot. They still have high hopes for Bennett, but he hasn’t been healthy much since he was called up to the NHL. He had trouble staying healthy in college too. The Penguins hope he can make an impact this year because their depth at forward is very thin after him as far as top six wingers go. I have always envisioned Bennett with Crosby at some point and I’m sure he will at least get a chance to show what he can do. The unfortunate part is that the Penguins do not have much time to let him develop chemistry with Crosby since the trade deadline is so close.

What moves would you like to see Ray Shero make at the deadline? Winger for Sid? Another defenseman? Letang trade?
Kris Letang will not be traded. Let’s get that out of the way first. I think the Penguins’ biggest need is a forward for the third line or fourth line. Players such as Tanner Glass and Craig Adams basically give you nothing offensively. Pittsburgh needs a tough forward who can produce offensively. The Penguins really lack that right now and will get crushed in the playoffs if they do not address it. Pittsburgh is a very top-heavy team at the moment and that needs to change. If teams shut down the Penguins’ top two lines, then Pittsburgh will not have a good chance of winning. As I talked about earlier, another option is trading for a first line winger. That will be hard though with the cap situation. Bennett will probably fill one of these spots, but the Penguins really need someone who will make them tough to play against.

I was always a fan of Michel Therrien’s rough, disciplinarian style. Bylsma isn’t as rough or as much of a disciplinarian, but what is it that he brings to the team, and the league in general, that has made him so successful the past few years? This team has been to the playoffs every year, has been to two Stanley Cup Finals (won one), and now Bylsma is behind the bench for Team USA.
Bylsma brings a very positive attitude to the Penguins and I think all of the players like that about him. He has been very successful as the coach of the Penguins, but there will be a lot of pressure on him again this spring. He is a very smart man in terms of hockey knowledge. His system is very complex and when the players perfect it, it is hard to stop. He does need to be better in making alternate strategies though. For example, if a team is completely destroying the Penguins, he needs to go to a “Plan B” and give the opposing team some new looks.

It seems like the Pens got away from solid defensive play in recent weeks. What do you think is behind that?
We started to really notice this when Malkin and Letang returned to the lineup in that game against the Jets. Those two players want the puck and want to move north. That is going to change some things a bit. The players may feel more comfortable taking some risks than usual because of the talent that is wearing the black and gold. That probably should not happen, but that’s the way these players play the game. I think they should stick to their game plan regardless of who is in the lineup, but that’s another story. Pittsburgh has had to deal with a lot of different players coming in and out of the lineup. That has affected the defense a lot.

How does Team USA do in these Olympics? Do you think any team is a true match for Team Canada? Share some of your Olympic predictions.
We actually just posted our Olympic predictions on The PensNation so check those out! I think the only team that can compete for the gold other than Canada is Sweden. They have some great talent up front and obviously have one of the best goaltenders in Henrik Lundqvist. I picked Canada over Sweden in the gold medal game and chose USA for the bronze. I like the balance of Team USA this year, but it will be tough to keep up with Sweden and Canada. Canada’s roster is simply mind blowing as it always is and I think they will repeat as champions. However, this is probably been the most difficult Olympic tournament to predict in quite some time. It shows how the game of hockey is growing in every country, which is awesome.

The combination of Neal-Malkin-Jokinen really seems to work. However, I’ve heard that when you take Jokinen away from the top two lines, he isn’t as successful. I can see this being the case at times. Thoughts on Jokinen and just how important he is to the team.
Jokinen has been a huge part of the Penguins’ success this season and has really put himself in a nice position for free agency this offseason. He is in line to get a big contract now. It’s hard to believe the Penguins basically got this guy for nothing. A guy as talented as Jokinen is should never hit the waiver wire. But, thank goodness he did. The Penguins always had interest in Jokinen, but never met the price needed for him until last year when he fell out of favor in Carolina. Jokinen is very good at making plays with Malkin and Neal. He seems to know where both of them are on the ice without even looking, which is a clear sign those three have developed some chemistry. His wrist shot is really good too and when he is on, he is on. We have seen him score several multi-goal games this season, which can take over games.

What is it that makes Malkin and Neal work so smoothly together? It’s not like Geno is the easiest guy to play with. You know, Geno’s nickname for Neal is “Lazy.”
Malkin and Neal are fun to watch, on and off the ice. Those two are always joking around with each other. Although both of them want the puck most times, they have done a good job setting up plays. We usually think of Neal as a guy who just wants to shoot the puck as soon as he gets it, but Neal has done a better job of reading the play recently. Malkin can obviously score goals himself, but he loves having a guy who can rip the puck to the net on his line.

He never really had that until Neal arrived. Once Petr Sykora left, he had not had a lethal weapon like Neal on his line, which made his job tougher. Neal takes some pressure off of Malkin and vice-versa. When Neal was acquired by the Penguins, I thought he would play with Crosby eventually, but I’m glad Malkin has a good linemate now. Those two are a lot of fun to watch.

It’s been a revolving door on the third line ever since the Kennedy-Staal-Cooke trio was dissolved. Who do you like to see on that third line and how do you think Brandon Sutter has played this year with all the different faces?
Brandon Sutter obviously will be there on the third line. I love what he brings defensively, but I would like to see some more offensively from him. The Penguins are going to need it in the spring. Pittsburgh was so hard to beat in 2008 and 2009 because of that third line of Cooke-Staal-Kennedy. All three of those guys brought energy and contributed offensively, which made it hard for teams to match up against. The Penguins really lack that now, as I said before. There are not many good options for the third line internally for Pittsburgh other than Sutter. Jayson Megna may work, but I think they need to trade for someone to play on that line.

We’ve seen a lot of Baby Pens up in the big leagues this year. Who has really stood out to you and why? Do you think any of these guys could be big time players for the Pens in the near future? If so, which ones?
Who saw Brian Gibbons even playing in the NHL this year? I certainly didn’t. He made it to the AHL All-Star Game and has played with Crosby a bit this year. Who saw any of this coming? I don’t even think he did. He has done a solid job and has shown his skills on the biggest stage this season. He’s a guy who could blossom into a decent NHL player. He has some speed and skill that could be valuable to Pittsburgh. Megna is the other guy who I like a lot.

He did some great things earlier this year with Malkin, but his injury slowed him down a bit. He is very creative offensively and also brings some speed to the table. We saw a lot of defenseman come up to the NHL from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton earlier this year too. Brian Dumoulin stood out the most among that group. He could be a big contributor up here in a year or two.

Do you consider Tanner Glass to be a big part of the team’s winning ways this year? Talk a little about his season and also Craig Adams’ presence on the fourth line. What an iron man.
As I said before, these two players bring nothing offensively. However, they are good defensively. Last season, Glass was not making much of an impact at all, but he has been different this season. He is talking more on the bench and is hitting everything in sight. The Penguins will need that in the playoffs. Adams is a tough player. He plays with injuries a lot and continues to be solid on the penalty kill. He has struggled a bit this season, but he seems to be getting back to the player we have known since 2009.

Matt Niskanen is such an underrated player, with a helluva shot. I consider Nisky to be a critical part of the Pens defense corps.
He definitely is an important piece to the puzzle. Who thought this “throw-in” player in the Neal trade would turn out to be so valuable. Much like Jokinen, his previous team (Dallas) had given up on him. Niskanen was a first-round pick in the draft for a reason and Pittsburgh gave him a chance. He knows that and appreciates it. Niskanen is now one of the leaders on the team now and does have a great shot. He has been playing solid defense all year and can easily jump to the top-four if needed. That’s why he is so valuable. He can play in any spot and be successful.

He loves Pittsburgh, but he has earned a chance to cash in this offseason, just like Jokinen. It will be interesting to see what he does in the offseason in addition to Jokinen and Brooks Orpik. I like Niskanen on the power play a lot too. He simplifies things up there by setting up the superstars or simply firing a slapshot. There is no need for him to be creative with guys such as Malkin and Crosby out there.

Rob Scuderi, although out for a long stretch with an ankle injury this year, certainly hasn’t made the Pens regret bringing him back.
Scuderi is so solid. You do not hear his name much on television and radio during the game. That usually means he is doing his job: play defense. You are never going to get much from him offensively, but that’s okay. This team has plenty of offense. He was brought back to play solid defense and help the younger guys. He has done a great job and will be very valuable this spring once again just like he was before he left for the Los Angeles Kings.

Would you consider being the play-by-play guy for Sully’s Totally-Not-Winter Classic? We all would be absolutely honored to have a talent like Hughes behind the mic for our summer event!
I love the game of hockey and would absolutely consider it! It sounds like a fun event and I would love to be a part of it.

hughes thumbs

The Engine behind Green Machine: Interview with Josh Sebrosky

Image

There wasn’t a whole lot of winning going on for Green Machine in last year’s Sully’s Totally-Not-Winter Classic games (the team finished the series 0-2), but there sure was a lot of heart from all players involved. Not many better exemplify that effort and commitment than #19 himself, Josh Sebrosky. Leading both teams with 5 goals (including a terrific hat trick in the first game that he admittedly played hungover), Sebrosky has separated himself from the pack as a true star for Green Machine. This year, he’ll be donning the A on his jersey with the same mission in mind: to put pucks on net and get them behind Black Attack goaltender Matt Richert, while putting more focus on the defensive side of things.

I talked with Sebrosky about his stellar offensive  production, the epic battle that was Game 2, what Green needs to do to win this year, Black Attack’s solid goaltending, having his parents in the crowd, and more!

Let’s face it. You’re the engine that makes Green Machine run. You have 5 goals and 2 assists through 2 games, which not only leads Green in the goal department, but Black as well. How do you plan on keeping this going? Seems like the competition is only getting tougher.

By putting as many pucks on the net as possible. Matt Richert is an experienced goaltender and really hard to beat. We just got to stay positive and also concentrate on our defense.

Have you ever played hockey in as much rain as we did during the first game on Father’s Day? It was an absolute downpour and BPTV couldn’t film the first period because of it. Do you think the weather had an effect on the game at all?

I have never played hockey in that much rain to be honest. It was fun and I know it kept me from overheating!

You were named First Star of the first game, with a hat trick to your credit. Considering you had a late party night the night before, was that a surprise to you?

Yeah, sometimes you got to pay for your decisions and I did. I played a rather well game, but may of been sluggish.

Green Machine led the second game by a score of 4-1 in the 2nd period before Black Attack stormed back to win 6-5. What went wrong down the stretch?

We started the game off strong and got power hungry for goals. We started forgetting about our defense and they took advantage of that.

Talk about the overly physical nature of that second game. It was really brutal out there. We had bruised ribs, blown up ankles, dislocated shoulders, paramedics, fire trucks, malfunctioning scoreboards, and just about everything else you could think of.

It was a very brutal game. I don’t think we should play full contact like that unless we have pads. It was a shame having the paramedics show up.

Do you think the fact that Green had a different goalie for each game had any mental effect on the team or was it more about leaky defensive play? Don Ruggery never played goaltender before and Jim Askins hadn’t played in a very long time. Green allowed 12 goals in 2 games.

Goaltender is a very challenging position to play and takes a lot of experience, if you ask me. I think Don and Jim did a pretty good job. It’s hard to be a brick wall like Matt Richert.

It looks as though Green will put yet another man in net for the third game. Ryan Baux, currently a 5-point player for Black Attack with 4 goals and 1 assist, made a big splash when he offered his services in Green’s net as a last resort. Baux says he’s “not bad” and with a little practice, he’ll “get it back.” If that was to happen, what would it mean for both teams? To the game overall?

 I would welcome Baux to the team with open arms. He’s a strong player and I’d be excited to practice with him.

        Imagejosh

You’re now an alternate captain for Green Machine, along with Jeff Guerriero. What are you going to bring to the game, in all facets, while wearing the A?

I’m excited and it’s an honor to be wearing the A. I have a good feeling about next game if we all come healthy and ready.

What do you think made Black Attack so successful in the first 2 games? They started out slow in the second game, and even had a 3-goal deficit during that one, but they still came back and won to sweep the first Sully’s Totally-Not-Winter Classic series.

I think they had better team chemistry with the puck. They played well and had more people contributing with points. The second game, they used their motivation from a wounded teammate to pull themselves together and be victorious. It was actually beautiful.

What are some things you think Green Machine did well in the first 2 games? What are the main things we need to work on going forward to finally beat Black Attack? It’d be nice to spread the points around a little more so we’re not so reliant on Sebrosky scoring.

I think we did a good job getting pucks on net. We have to shoot on Matt a lot if we plan on scoring. I think we should practice a little more if we get the opportunity. Some players are afraid to shoot sometimes and everyone should shoot. Also, getting Baux as much practice as possible [if he took over in net for Green] would be KEY.

Matt Richert is a stud in the Black Attack net. Experienced, quick, skilled, and plays with an edge. Even dropped the gloves with DJ Lafferty in the first game. Talk about Matt’s game and what he brings to the table in between the pipes

Like I stated multiple times, he is talented. Matt Richert was my roommate at California University of Pennsylvania my junior and senior year. When we would play hockey at school, he would always pad up and play well against anyone. He could play on ice, inline, or deck. It’s pretty convenient that I get to shoot on him at games because I know his weaknesses. Matt is very self-disciplined. When he gets scored on, he beats himself up and never gives up until he’s happy with his performance. To be a goalie, I think you need that self- discipline.

josh shooting

Your parents attended the second game, and you certainly didn’t disappoint. How was it playing in front of them, especially with scoring that goal in the 3rd to make it 5-5? You’re such a calm and quiet guy out on the court, and you even let out a yell and a jump on that one!

Having the parents watch my game was awesome. My dad loves hockey and actually wanted to see me play for once. I don’t think my parents or I expected me to do that well. So that’s pretty cool. I think the parents should come to every game if possible.

Ever play in front of TV cameras before? Is that on your mind at all while you’re playing, whether it be more motivation or a sort of distraction?

I haven’t played hockey in front of TV cameras before, but I have played water polo on TV. In my opinion, both sports have so much contact that you really don’t have time to think about the people watching you. I just go out and play my best and get work done.

How’s your overall experience been playing in these games so far? What would you tell those who are thinking of joining, but might not be so sure?

I’ve loved it. I would say it’s worth the experience. Everyone on both teams is easy to get along with, and just love to play the sport of hockey. Everyone on the court has a different skill level and whether you are experienced or not it’s always a good time.

Anything you’d like to see in Sully’s Totally-Not-Winter Classic in the future?

More players. Less contact, but still contact, if that makes sense. The scoreboard [to not malfunction again] when we win the next game against Black Attack.

–Photos courtesy of Facebook–

–Green Machine logo designed by Dave Cable–

Interview with “Dances with the Kachina” author The Dark One

I can’t think of many people that have been there for me as much as Wesley Attwood. Over the past 5 years, Wesley has supported me through my toughest days, stood alongside me during my happiest moments, given me countless hours of his time for advice, and has been the most loyal son of a bitch I know. I could go on for days about the person Wesley is, the things he’s done for me, and the times we’ve shared over the years, but I’d like to spotlight what I believe is his greatest accomplishment to date; his first book, “Dances with the Kachina: A Compendium of Poetic Thoughts” published in August by Createspace.com and available NOW through Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/Dances-With-The-Kachina-Compendium/dp/149127381X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390453700&sr=8-1&keywords=dances+with+the+kachina

Under the pen name “The Dark One”, Wesley has crafted a true masterpiece of raw emotion, covering a wide range of topics that leave the reader both enjoying the simple things in life on its surface and looking at it a little more deeply. I’m proud to present to you my recent interview with The Dark One.

This book covers such a wide range of topics. Everything from love to self reflection to whacky college professors to elder abuse. When you come across these things in life, do you find it therapeutic to write about them? One of the reasons I started blogging so often was because it’s a calming feeling for me to let my thoughts run free on paper, so to speak.

I find it extremely therapeutic to write about things in my daily life. Writing allows me to express my emotions about certain topics or situations.

What got you into writing in the first place? When did you start?

I started writing poetry in middle school. During an English class, I was given an assignment to write five poems about various topics. Before this, I had always admired poetry for the feelings and emotions it can provoke, but I never really thought I had something good enough to write about. So after completing the project I found that poetry came very naturally as long as I had a feeling or subject that I was passionate enough to write about in mind. Also, my father, in his private life, is an excellent artist with a paint brush, a stanza or words, or even with models, so I was very inspired by him and his works over the years. After that middle school class, I didn’t really start writing too much until I met my first girlfriend. That is when I discovered the art of Romance in word form.

How many years worth of material is in this book?

There is three years’ worth of material in this book.

What made you decide to turn this material into a book?

Many of my friends proposed that I put some of my works into a book and publish it. People often see my notes on Facebook with my poems, so a lot of it was my friends’ suggestions, but the rest was a dedication to the Kachina and the inspiration that she is.

You told me when this book was coming out that these aren’t actually all of your works. Why not just publish everything and lay it all out there?

The reason I do not publish all my works is because there are many that are extremely personal to me. Many have a very deep and personal connection and I’d rather keep those to myself.

Where did you come up with the title Dances with Kachina: A Compendium of Poetic Thoughts? Are these really just thoughts of yours that you write down onto paper and make them into a kind of story?

The title is directly taken from one of the poems titled “Dances With the Kachina”. The title refers to my encounters and experiences with the Kachina. The Kachina is not only a person whom which I have experienced a lot with, but the Kachina is also the idea of art and inspiration. You could say that the Kachina is the muse in my life. Some of the poems are just thoughts put down on paper, but most are about actual memories, emotions, dreams, or experiences I have.

What is your relationship like with your real life Kachina? It must be pretty special for you to have her on the cover of the book as well.

The real life Kachina is my best friend. She is the best friend anyone could ever hope for. She has been there with me through many things. We even traveled across the planet together one summer. So the Kachina is someone I truly love and am inspired by every day.

Image

How would you classify your style of writing? What are the main things you focus on as far as themes, messages, etc.?

For the most part, I would classify my poetry as free verse. There are occasions where I write sonnets or even other forms of poetry, but it all really depends on what I am writing about and how it comes out. In my poetry I focus mainly on life, love, and the state of mind. I enjoy writing about my own and others’ perspectives within life and daily life. Many of the topics recur through simple phrases or words within various poems.

What are some of your favorite pieces by other authors? Any favorite authors?

Some of my favorite authors would be Sara Teasdale, Alexander Pushkin, and of course Sixto Diaz Rodriguez. Many music artists such as Rodriguez, in my opinion, are poets and thus have my admiration as well for not only their music, but their words.

Do those said authors influence the way you write? If so, how?

Sara Teasdale has always inspired me to write about simplicity. Throughout my poems I mention the “cup of tea” or “the hands holding the cup”. This, to me, is a direct reference to the simplicity of life and the beauty within that simplicity. After reading Sara’s work throughout the years, I’ve been able to see and write about the small things in our day-to-day lives and how these small things hold so much beauty. Rodriguez has been a lifelong inspiration for just about everything. Rodriguez wrote and sang about life, poverty, love, injustice, and perspectives. Out of anyone’s words I’ve read in my life, he has to be the biggest inspiration I have. A lot of his work has contributed to my personal feelings about love and romance.

As for your own writing, what are some of your favorite entries in the book and why?

I cannot really pick one I like more than another because, for me, most of the poems I write pertain to my life or experiences/memories. But if I were to choose I would say that my favorite entries are “12:53”, “Absent Earth”, “Fond Memories of Days In Your Bliss”, and “Prison of Melody”. I pick these because they each signify a great or extraordinary experience in my life which has contributed to my development in my life. These instances have given me some kind of feelings or enlightenment which has aided me overall in my opinion.

How did you come up with the titles for each piece?

For each piece I generally use a word that sums up the poem unless I have a title in mind. For a lot of the poems it’s very difficult to give them a title so I often find the title the hardest part.

You mention in the foreword that the poems in the beginning of the book are “simple or silly at times” but as you keep reading the pieces “become deeper and more intense”. You mention that this is the result of a “personal change” in how you expressed yourself or even a change of your writing abilities. Can you elaborate on that?

I believe that over the years I have gained a lot of understanding for the world around me directly and how I perceive it. I believe that my perceptions are captured in my poetry by how simple life can be seen to how deep it can be at times.

Why do you call yourself The Dark One?

I use the Dark One as my pen name because that was the nickname I was always given by the Kachina since we first met. I don’t like to be melodramatic but I do like the idea of darkness and the mystery within it. As I may describe in some of my poems, darkness is a place of solace, reason, and understanding where one can reflect upon life. I feel as if I should be more in touch with any dark label than anything pertaining to light and completely seen.

What should people know about The Dark One and his poetic thoughts?

People should know that the Dark One writes about the things that are important to him. The poetic thoughts aren’t always straightforward and sometimes don’t have a meaning, but the meaning is in the eyes of the reader.

Music is such an important part of your life. You write about it quite a bit in the book and you’re also in a band called Losing Time as the percussionist.

Music is one of my biggest inspirations. I have played percussion and other various instruments for most of my life. I also love to sing. I find great relaxation and expression in music, which essentially is poetry in a different form. Music can define emotions or anything, and I like to reference it in my writings.

Any more books on the horizon? Are you still writing? What’s on your mind these days?

I was thinking about putting together another book if I really had the motivation to do so. I generally write a poem a day or more. I’m always writing and, regardless of any publishing, I believe I will always be writing. I still am writing about love, romance, life, and the mind these days.

You’re one of my best friends in the entire world. We’ve been close buddies for over 5 years now and I feel we just become closer over time. I enjoyed every page of this book and can’t wait for possible future tomes! Thanks for including me in the foreword!

You and I have been very close for the past years and I’m honored to have you as a friend. I really glad you enjoyed my book and I hope you enjoyed the writings within. Thank you for your friendship and for buying a copy.

“Dances with the Kachina: A Compendium of Poetic Thoughts” is AVAILABLE NOW through Amazon for less than $6. I’ll give you the link AGAIN!

http://www.amazon.com/Dances-With-The-Kachina-Compendium/dp/149127381X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390456408&sr=8-1&keywords=dances+with+the+kachina

You all should definitely pick up a copy of The Dark One’s first book. Go ahead and squeak out a couple bucks. You won’t be disappointed! “Dances with the Kachina” is one of the best purchases I’ve made in a long time. I wouldn’t have dedicated an entire blog entry to this if I didn’t have the utmost faith in this man. Wesley is not only a fantastic writer, but a a brilliant, creative, loyal, and kind man with an endless amount of talent and heart.

Follow The Dark One on Twitter @JohanVanRiebeec

Follow me on Twitter @SullyShow17

Image

 

Kunitz, Crosby & Company

Since I said I was gunna try my best to do this weekly, I figure now is as good a time as any to start. There’s been a lot of talk over the past few weeks about the hockey rosters for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Seven players from the Pittsburgh Penguins made the Olympics. SEVEN! That’s a number to be proud of certainly and each one of those men richly deserves it. There were a couple players on the Penguins who did not make the Olympic cut, however. I’m gunna break this down for ya real good, and I’m gunna keep it short and simple since I’m running up against the midnight deadline here. Not gunna get into stats and in-depth analysis here. Just a general overview and my initial impressions.

THE LUCKY 7 & WHY THEY MADE IT:

Sidney Crosby (Canada) – He’s only the face of the NHL, the best overall player in the league, and quite possibly the world.

Jussi Jokinen (Finland) - It seems like he makes every goal he scores look phenomenal. It does seem like he isn’t as effective when he plays with third and fourth liners, but when he’s on the top two lines…watch out.

Chris Kunitz (Canada) – “Oh, but he plays on the same line as Crosby. Sid just makes him look good.” I’m here to call bullshit on that one, ladies and gentlemen. Chris Kunitz, aka the Honey Badger, is an outstanding hockey player. When he’s not scoring goals (and trust me, he scores his share) he’s doing all the little things right to not only make himself better, but his teammates too (yes, including Sidney Crosby, who will tell you that Kunitz makes him better too). If he wasn’t chosen for Team Canada, I would have been bummed. Great move by Yzerman and Co. Well earned by Kunitz.

Olli Maata (Finland) - This 19-year-old has just blown me and pretty much everyone else away by his play since moving up to the NHL. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: he is much better than Kris Letang (I’ll get to him later). I can’t wait to see how much better he becomes as he gains more experience at the NHL level. GREAT move by the Pens keeping him out of training camp.

Evgeni Malkin (Russia) - What can I say? Just a monster on the ice. Yes, he has his lapses, but doesn’t every player at times? I can’t see any NHL team ever turning down an opportunity to have this All-Star/Olympian superstar on their team.

Paul Martin (USA) – Remember him? He’s been out awhile due to injury, but he’s really come on strong since joining the Pens. He was pretty bad when he first started out here in the ‘Burgh (I think more than anything he just didn’t pick up the system as quick as people hoped..remember he came from Snooze Jersey), but he’s really turned his game around and consistently shows why he’s paired with Brooks Orpik in the top 4.

Brooks Orpik (USA) - Crazy Eyes himself. The longest tenured Penguin proudly represents Team USA as an at-times physical, shutdown force on the blue line, just like he does here in Pittsburgh. He’s such an honest guy, too. I always love listening to him talk to the media. He never gives you that run-of-the-mill, sports cliche bullshit. He tells it like it is, and backs up his words with his play on the ice.

THE UNLUCKY 4 and WHY THEY DIDN’T

Marc-Andre Fleury (Canada) - We all know he’s an amazing goaltender. He just needs to show that consistently in the playoffs, and let’s face it: he hasn’t. I think that’s why he didn’t make the cut, but if he keeps playing the way he’s playing now (beautifully) and brings that same level in the playoffs to possibly lead the Pens to another Cup, many should think differently.

Kris Letang (Canada) - This is a no brainer. He sucks! Makes countless mistakes on the ice, and the team always seems to play better without him. Bad move by Shero signing him to another deal. That money should have been used on a winger. Thank you, Jussi Jokinen, for seeming to click so well with Malkin and Neal. I love those three together. But Letang? Yeah, not a fan. When he’s injured (and that’s plenty often) I don’t miss him one bit, and I know Team Canada won’t either.

James Neal (Canada) - I’ve read in the papers that he may be having his finest season, but I think there’s some character issues here along with limited space on Team Canada’s star-studded roster. I think he has a better chance of making it next time around, and the suspension earlier this season didn’t help his case either. It’s never a good idea to skate into someone’s head, and it’s an even worse idea to say you didn’t mean to do it afterward. Watch the replay of Neal’s knee to the head on Brad Marchand. You’ll see what I mean. I still think he’s a great hockey player with one of the best shots I’ve ever seen and he should definitely make it next time, assuming he keeps up this high level of play.

Rob Scuderi (USA) – I’m putting him on this list because I think the guy is a great NHL defenseman. Scuds has won 2 Cups already, is steady, consistent, solid, and brilliant defensively. My mind harkens back to Game 6 against Detroit at Mellon Arena during the ’09 Cup Finals when he became Fleury for a second and kept that puck outta the net. HUGE moment. Staal couldn’t have been more right. He’s The Piece!

So there ya have it. Just kind of a brief overview of the Pens that made the cut this year, and the Pens that didn’t. I could get WAAAAAYYYY more in-depth about each player with stats and all that jazz, but I’ll save that for a rainy day. I’m looking forward to rooting for Team USA, although I don’t think they’re a match for Team Canada. Ryan Kesler and David Backes look to contain Crosby? Yeah, about that…