Sunday, June 29, 2008

Yee Haw, eh? part 2

A couple of weeks ago I shared a bit about a book I had recently read called Hockey Night in Dixie and on being a southern hockey fan. I wrote that blog in kind of a hurry and didn't really share much, IMHO and frankly don't have any stellar ideas for this week's post so I figured I'd throw a few more thoughts on being a hockey fan in the south and maybe help clarify a couple of things about the game. Granted, I'm no expert; I've only been a hockey fan since around 2005 but I have taken the time to try to understand the game and not just go to see the fights like so many other redneck hockey fans.

“Did you hit somebody yet?!” I hear that one at almost every FireAntz game I go to; it drives me nuts! Yes, there is hitting in hockey. In fact, it's amazing how these guys can take a hit while on ice skates and still manage to not fall and bust their ass. But the game isn't about going out and hitting someone. It's not football you dumb redneck! You don't go after the guy with the puck and try to tackle him. As violent as hockey seems to some people, it really is a game of great skill and finesse. Think about it; if you've ever seen Wayne Gretzky, he's not that big (especially compared to other hockey players). Yet, he holds the all time records for goals, assists and total points. Why? Because he had skill, not because he went out and “hit somebody.” Plowing your opponents into the boards doesn't win games, people; it gets you put in the penalty box and leaves you short handed. Get a clue!

Throughout the book, Hockey Night in Dixie, players that were interviewed spoke about how the southern fans seemed to be more interested in the fights than in the hockey game itself. It's sad, but very true. Now, I love a good hockey fight as much as the next redneck... er, I mean southerner... but that's not what hockey is about. I'm sure everyone's heard the old joke, “I went to see a fight, but a hockey game broke out.” While it's true that hockey (at least on the professional level) accepts and allows fighting (for the most part) there's a reason for it. It's not like in baseball, football, basketball, etc., where a fight is the result of a couple of guys losing their tempers. In hockey, it's usually the result of some goon laying an illegal hit on a key player that went unnoticed by the referee and so an enforcer then challenges said goon to a fight as if to say, “Hey! Asshole! You can't do that to my teammate and get away with it.” It's allowed because hockey officials know that they can't see everything, and allowing fights allows the players, in a sense, to police themselves a bit. You almost never see a hockey fight simply start; there's usually some exchange of words and an agreement between the two combatants that they are, in fact, going to drop the gloves and go toe-to-toe. Sure, they both get five minutes in the penalty box, but it's usually over after that. Fights in hockey can also be used to help spark some energy. Truth is, though, I'd rather see a well skated, tight scoring game with no fights at all, than waste my time watching a match that's gotten out of hand with multiple fights (although, that can be entertaining at times too, especially when it's a FireAnt beating the shit out of a Renegade... I hate those bastards!)

Sportscaster Al Michaels, during the 1980 Winter Olympics, made the statement that most of the people who tuned in to watch the historic game between the United States Hockey Team and the Soviet Team probably didn't “know the difference between a blue line and a clothesline.” That's a fair statement about a lot of folks that attend hockey games in the south too, I'd wager. Where I live (Fayetteville, NC) we've had a hockey team long enough that most of the season ticket holders and regular fans are up to speed on that, but I still meet people who say they love to go to FireAntz games even though they have no clue what's going on especially when the whistle blows for a stoppage of play. Now, here I could go into a long explanation of rules about offside, hooking, boarding, tripping, etc. But I won't. Instead, I'll give you some links at the end of this blog to other websites that can explain it better than I can. Keep in mind that there are some minor differences between, say the National Hockey League (NHL), some of the minor professional leagues, international amateur hockey, collegiate hockey and junior hockey. These differences are generally obvious though, such as things like touch-up icing on the professional levels versus automatic icing in amateur and international leagues. Also, fighting in international and amateur leagues results in being ejected from the game rather than just five minutes in the penalty box.

If you've never been to a hockey game, go! If you go regularly just to see fights, grow up. And if your a southerner (or a traditional market hockey fan who somehow got transplanted to the south) who loves hockey like me, help spread the word and educate.

~ Carlisle

(No, that's not a picture of me, in case you're wondering)

Links to educate yourself with: (just to give you a general idea of the different governing bodies within professional and amateur hockey) (a Wikipedia article on the Hockey rink itself)

ESPN's NHL Rules Glossary of Terms and Rules ( – includes a Video Rulebook with examples.

Next week's blog: “Home of the Free, Because of the Brave”

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Seven glorious days off in a row, five of which I get paid for! How awesome is that? I love having paid vacation time. I'm so burnt out on work right now I was almost at my breaking point. I've come to close to many times to throwing my keys on the desk and walking out it's ridiculous. I need this time off to rest, recharge and relax. So here I am on day four of my vacation deciding what to do. I have no agenda as of yet, but here's what I've done so far:

Thursday, June 19
Played Golf from 8am to 12:30, then had lunch at Zaxby's. Came home and slept until 6pm (Naps are awesome!) then ate supper and did my normal evening routine of pretending to watch TV while goofing off on the computer.

Friday, June 20
Took my dog to his vet appointment, then took my Gramma to lunch and to do her grocery shopping. Wasted the rest of the day looking at boobies and other stuff on the Internet. (I likes teh boobies)

Saturday, June 21
8am – oil change at the Saturn dealership (why the f***k did I make an appointment for 8am on a Saturday?!); had breakfast at Waffle House while waiting; got home around 9:45am and went the hell back to bed! Got up at noon, had a Jersey Mike's cheese-steak for lunch that my father-in-law-to-be brought me then went shopping with my fiancée; picked up several Magic: The Gathering novels at Edward McKay's used bookstore for my collection, ordered a spare pare of glasses from Sears Optical while their sale was still going on; had dinner at Chili's with Roxanne (those little burgers on the appetizer menu are frakkin' awesome!); came home and spent the evening cataloging my newly acquired books and started reading Confessor by Terry Goodkind (not part of the Magic: The Gathering series, just for clarification).

JESUS! What a boring ass person I am! Most people go on exotic trips or cruises for their vacations. But not me. Oh, hell no! I stay in boring ass Fayetteville and catch up on reading or sleep away my vacation. Truthfully, I was supposed to be in Chicago for a friend's wedding, but alas, even with my tax returns back in February and the stimulus check I got a few weeks ago, I just had to many expenses of my own to be able to drop what would have constituted about half to three-quarters of a month's wages to fly to Chicago, rent a hotel room for two nights and rent a tux. I hate that I couldn't be there. So, Drew, if you're reading this (you said you read my blog regularly so we'll see if you're paying attention) I hope it all went well and you and Jen have a great honeymoon and we'll see you when you get back.

Well, that's it for this week boys and girls. I have to get back to my boring ass vacation of reading and sleeping (and possibly job hunting and definitely more golf, weather permitting [damn thunder storms]). Next week I plan to revisit the topic of being a Hockey fan in the South as I feel last week's blog just didn't do it justice. Until then, Have Fun, Be Young, Drink Pepsi!

~ Carlisle

Next week: “Yee Haw, eh? Part 2”

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Yee Haw, eh?

During the 2004-05 hockey season, when the NHL had it's infamous lock out, Jon C. Stott was visiting his daughter in New Mexico. Being from Canada, he was really missing hockey, so his daughter told him he should check out the local minor league team1. It was there that he discovered how popular the Canadian game of hockey had become in the American south. His book, Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South2 is his journey into the world of minor pro hockey, particularly in the American South; it's ups, downs, financial woes, and toothless grins. During the 2005-06 season, Mr. Stott traveled the southwestern and southeastern United States, visiting four teams in four different leagues in order to get an idea of what minor pro hockey was actually like in these very non-traditional markets. I'll admit, I bought the book because one of those teams was my own hometown Fayetteville FireAntz of the Southern Professional Hockey League. I'll also admit that I started to read just their chapter, but being a bibliophile and a hockey fan, I ended up reading the entire book.

I don't read a lot of non-fiction (although I should do so more often) and, as I said before, I picked this book up because it featured my hometown hockey team. I'll admit, it mostly read like a journal and I found myself wondering if Mr. Stott was a sports writer based on his writing style (there's no biography of the author anywhere in the book). It's pretty well written and gives a very good depiction of what life in minor league hockey is like and just how tough it is to keep teams going for any stable amount of time. I think my only real issue with the book is that, while it's title indicates that it is solely about southeastern hockey, it's not. In fact, in the introduction he mentions the Albuquerque Scorpions which are in New Mexico, and the second chapter is about the Odessa Jackalopes in west Texas; that's southwestern, not southeastern. It is the southern part of the U.S. geographically speaking and considering that the author is from Canada, I'll let it slide but Texas (arguably) and New Mexico are not part of what is colloquially known as “Dixie.”

Reading Hockey Night in Dixie has prompted me to blog a bit about being a hockey fan in North Carolina. Growing up I had heard of hockey, but that was about it. I had spotted a few games on television, but never really got interested because I didn't know what the hell was going on. It wasn't until March 2004, when the, at that time, manager of our local Books-A-Million gave my fiancée and I tickets to a FireAntz game that I had ever watched an entire hockey game. I became immediately hooked; I loved the action, the fast pace and the sheer skill it took for the players to pass, shoot and take hits without busting their ass on the ice. Alas, the game we went to was the final one of that season. During that summer, I did a little research on hockey rules so I'd be able to follow along better the next time I went to a game. We started going to as many home games as our schedule and finances would allow. I became engrossed in both the FireAntz and the Carolina Hurricanes, buying hats and jerseys for both teams. On my birthday in November 2006, Roxanne and I made a pilgrimage to the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC, to watch the Hurricanes play the Buffalo Sabres. Yeah, my friends get tired of me talking about it sometimes; I'm usually boring them with either golf or hockey. I can't help it, I love watching hockey even if one of my teams isn't' playing.

In regards to the so called southern hockey fan, I will admit many are ignorant and obviously don't understand the game. I don't pretend to fully understand it; I've only been a fan for a few seasons, but even I, a southerner, get irritated with fans shouting “hit somebody!” and evidently thinking the game sucked if there wasn't at least one fight, even if our team won by a zillion goals. It's still new to us down here, but most of us are catching on to the subtler nuances of the game and starting to figure out that it's still possible to have a successful power-play even if you didn't score and that slamming someone to the boards isn't always called for.

I realize that i”m writing about hockey in the middle of June, but that's how much I want the season to start again. I can't wait for October!

~ Carlisle


1. “Introduction: Return to the Minors” (pp.xi-xx)

2. The title Hockey Night in Dixie: Playing Canada's Game in the American South appears on I have no idea why they have it listed that way, as the cover and title page both clearly say Minor Pro Hockey in the American South and is listed as such on both Books-A-Million's and Barnes and Nobles' websites. The main title is also obviously a play on “Hockey Night in Canada,” the popular weekly broadcast of National Hockey League games across Canada.

Next week's topic “VAY-CAY-SHUN!”

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sign Me Up and call me 'Sucker'! - Reward Programs, Bonus Points, and Credit Cards

Take a look in your wallet, or even better, check your key chain. How many reward program cards and/or credit cards do you have? Personally, I have no credit cards (thank the gods) but I have five reward/bonus cards on my key chain, and I have a card in my wallet to my favorite coffee shop that allows me a free cup for every ten I buy. Remember when grocery stores simply had sales? I think I was still twelve-years-old when they did that. Now, of course, you have to have their bonus card (which, conveniently, is free) to get the sale price (and a shit load of junk mail now that they have your address). I think FoodLion started it back in the 1980's, and all the others soon followed suit, including Harris Teeter (can't comment on Kroger because we don't have them where I live anymore, nor is there any longer a Bi-Lo, which does have a bonus card and I only blame FoodLion because that's honestly the first one I remember ever getting). Amazingly, Wal-mart doesn't have a bonus/discount card, but it does have its own credit card.

Not only have the grocery stores saturated the market with their little plastic cards, but other places have as well. Here's the breakdown of what's on my key chain/in my wallet: FoodLion MVP Card, HarrisTeeter VIC Card, OfficeDepot Worklife Rewards Card, Dick's Sporting Goods Scorecard Rewards, Books-A-Million Millionaire's Club Discount Card, and finally, Barnes & Noble Member Program (what a boring name compared to everyone else) and I used to have a Staples one as well, but I lost it. Most of these were free, save for the two bookstores who charge $15 (BAM) or $25 (B&N) per year to receive a mere 10% off. The grocery stores, as I mentioned, just give you what would have been, in the past, the weekly sales prices. The ones that are the most full of crap, though, are the Dick's Sporting Goods and OfficeDepot cards as well as the so called Visa Rewards Program I have through my bank by using my Visa Check Card. These things are insidious. They promise you points that can be used for additional savings or items as Rewards for being such a loyal customer. What a crock of shit! Typically, with these programs, you get one point per dollar spent (although Dick's is cool enough to offer double points on items that are their exclusive store brands and to occasionally send out coupons worth bonus points). What that means is, by the time you've accumulated enough points to get that $10 gift certificate or pick something from the rewards catalog, you've spent anywhere from $300-$5,000! As much as I hate to admit it, these tactics work. I've bought stuff from Dick's that I could've gotten from Target or Wal-mart because I wanted my points or because they sent me a bunch of coupons (never mind that the other two places may have been $5-$10 cheaper and I had to go there for other things and the trip to Dick's was out of my way; well, where I live the Target and Dick's are across the street from each other, but still...). I do the same thing with certain home office supplies; I end up at OfficeDepot, even though all I've ever gotten from them is coupons for stuff I either don't need, or at least don't need the bulk amount required to use the coupon. You know the kinds of coupons I'm talking about; the ones that say stuff like, “Get 10¢ off your next purchase of $100 or more.” At least reward programs don't effect your credit.

Credit card applications are everywhere too. These are even more maddening than the reward programs, because these things can actually get people in an assload of trouble. I get in trouble at work because I don't sign enough people up for our store credit card, but the truth is, I think people are sick of being asked to sign up for stuff every time they walk into any store. I've actually had people in department stores wave me over to the cosmetics counter as I was walking by just to beg me to fill out an application because these stores impose quotas on their staff (I know, my Mom used to work for one that would regularly threaten employees with termination if they didn't make their quotas; never mind if they had gotten double or triple the quota the month before). So, before you get pissed at that clerk for asking, remember, their job may very well be on the line because of corporate greed. That doesn't change the fact, however, that I think most consumers are just plain sick of playing twenty questions at every cash register they walk up to. “Would you like to sign up for our bonus-card-credit-plan-get-a-free-lollipop-with-every-
and-give-us-a-dna-sample-card? If you sign up today you get a free kick in the nuts!
” I work retail and I'm a consumer, so I see both sides of it. The poor clerk has to ask because they'll get in trouble if they don't, but they're also tired of getting cursed out by the customers who are sick of being asked and don't realize the clerk is just doing their job and has to ask them. And during the holiday season, it gets even worse, because then all the businesses not only ask you to sign up for their rewards/discount program and/or credit card, but then they want you to buy some piece of decorated cardboard for “only a dollar” with the name of a charity printed on it so they can post it on their wall or window to make it look like they give a shit about anything but making money, and you can assuage your guilt for being a “have” instead of a “have-not” for another year.

Most of us are already in debt up to our necks (or beyond) and are getting fed up with the constantly rising prices gas which affects the prices of everything else (thanks a lot Dubya!). Many of us have gotten or will receive by the end of the summer, so called “stimulus checks” courtesy of the federal government. Do they think we'll actually spend them? I didn't; mine went in the bank to help create a bit of a buffer between checks for bills and unforeseen incidentals. Ok, ok, so I bought some golfing supplies (yes, at Dick's Sporting Goods so I could get my frakkin' points) with part of it, but that was only like $70 and the check was for $600, so bite me! I also ended up having to get new glasses (because mine broke) and my dog is due for several booster shots; so much for stimulating the economy with impulse purchases. I'd be willing to bet that most other folks are going to use theirs the same way or to try to help pay off some of that credit card debt. But I digress. Simply put, we all know that the credit card applications and bonus programs that get shoved in our face are total bullshit, just try to be cool about refusing them and remember that the clerk offering them is trying to keep their job.

~ Carlisle

Next week: “Yee Haw, eh?” a book review of Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South by Jon C. Stott and my thoughts on being a southern hockey fan.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Roll Out the Barrel - Curbside Recycling (Finally) Comes to Fayetteville

Fayetteville, NC is a little Podunk southeastern city. Sure, it's one of the top 10 largest cities in the state, but let's be honest, if not for Fort Bragg Army Reserve and Pope Air Force Base and the population of soldiers and airmen that add to the city's population, I'm not even sure there would be a city. That being said, Fayetteville is still large enough that you'd think we'd already have curbside recycling, but we don't. I actually have heard that it's been tried before, a few years ago (must've been while I was in Georgia attending college, because I sure don't remember it). Evidently, a few months into the experiment, the company that was being contracted by the city to do the pick up went belly-up.

So, now we have these blue roll-out containers that look like our green trash cans, but are smaller. The first question I had was, “Why aren't they bigger?” Aside from that, I was also wondering why we received ours on May 1, when the brochure that was attached to it said that pick up wasn't going to begin until “the week of June 7.” The week of June 7? A whole freakin' month later? WTF? Oh, and I'd like to point out that June 7 is a Saturday folks. Doesn't a week traditionally begin on Monday when referring to the “week of [insert date]?” Top that off with the fact that I've never seen a city trash collector truck ever roll down the street on a Saturday and you've got a prime example of how screwed up this burg is.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm quite glad that the Fayetteville City Council voted to finally do curbside recycling. I'm just waiting to see how long it takes before they give up on it. You see, I've already noted that a few of our neighbors have already begun rolling theirs out to the curb with their trash cans each week since we got them going on five weeks ago, even though the recycling pick ups wont begin until next week. Does that mean they're using them for regular trash? Or are they putting the correct things in them, but didn't bother to notice that June 7 is the beginning date? Either way, it's probably indicative of why the program will fail here; Fayettevillians are just to stupid to have a curbside recycling program. They'll put regular trash in the things or be to lazy to rinse out the milk jugs like they're asked to. The City Council will, of course, contract the whole thing out to the lowest bidder and it'll end up being a company that's on the verge of bankruptcy and will fail to do a good job because they don't have the money to hire a large enough crew. I'm just watching and waiting to see what happens, but I can't say I'm overly optimistic about the program sticking around for long. I hope I'm wrong.

~ JC

Next week: “Sign Me Up and call me 'Sucker'!” (How Credit Cards, Reward Programs, and Bonus Points are BULLSHIT!)