Skatin' in Ohio

Tonight's Caps game definitely didn't play out the way they would have drawn it up in Columbus. They started strongly, and played very well for the first five to ten minutes. They didn't convert any chances, but things were looking good. But then they started sitting back too much, and suddenly the Blue Jackets were threatening a bit.

The period ended scoreless, with Columbus holding slight edges in shots (13-8) and scoring chances (3-2). That actually slightly understates Columbus' edge, though, as the Caps were way ahead in blocked shots.

And then the Caps seemed to fall asleep, or something. The second period started out bad, and ended putrid. The Jackets put two pucks in the net, the second with half a minute or so to go. They were only (hah! only) outshot 15-10, but the scoring chances were 7-2. And, again, the Caps led in blocked shots by a large margin, so again, the shots edge (and possibly the scoring chance edge) is understated.

Moore and Pahlsson did the honors, on scoring; both at even strength (the first power play didn't come until 9:34 of the third)

But the Caps came back in the third. Hunter shuffled the lines again, swapping OV and MarJo. The team started slow again, not doing much for the first few minutes, but they got some nice pressure four minutes in leading to OV finding the twine (I'm a little confused, because NHL.com lists it as unassisted, but I thought Wideman passed it to him. Looking at the replay there, it still looks like that was the case). Then Dima got in a fight with Clitsomea minute and a half later, leading to two minutes of 4-on-4. And the Caps definitely took advantage of that, with both Semin and Wideman adding tallies.

The Semin one was really nice; as he was getting the puck and skating into the center of the ice, I was thinking, "That's where I want the puck: on his stick". Before I'd even finished the thought, he'd put it over Mason's shoulder, and into the top corner. On replay, it looked like Mason never saw it; he was screened by the defenseman.

As I mentioned earlier, the first power play came in the middle of the third. And it went the Caps way, as Methot was whistled for holding OV.

And OV made him pay, taking a nice feed from Dima (who was skating behind the net) for a gorgeous rocket of a one-timer slapshot into the top corner. Given that it was coming from the middle of the circle, Mason never had a chance to react to it. And given that it went all the way into the corner, it probably wouldn't have mattered if he had. It was quite nice.

The Caps mostly settled back into playing defense for the rest of the game, which generally torques me, but it was a winning strategy tonight, as Columbus never got it into the net.

Overall, I wouldn't really call it a good game, as they were outplayed for at least half of the game (badly, for most of that), but the result was certainly nice. OV is looking better than he has in a season and a half, and is being more creative and varied. TVo looked very good, coming up big when they needed him. Wideman had a very nice game, with two or three points.

Schultz played almost ten minutes, with no drama, so maybe he's out of Hunter's dog house. Eakin was called up again, with Beagle and Perreault both unavailable. He only played 9:43; I didn't notice him doing anything particularly bad, but I seem to recall his line getting penned in the D zone several times. He only played two shifts in the third.

Ward might have gotten into the dog house; he was dropped to the fourth line, and played less than ten minutes (and the same two shifts in the third as Eakin and Hendricks).

Special teams was certainly good tonight; both units were perfect, though that's only two chances, combined. Definitely wouldn't read anything into it, especially since they were going against Columbus, who's near the bottom of the league on both sides of special teams, but it was still nice to see.

Anyway, they've now got a small winning streak to take home to face Calgary on Tuesday. Let's hope it can be continued.


Bug, worse

The power off bug on the iPad is even worse than I thought. It happened again last night, when the battery died while I was sleeping. What really irritates me about it is that I had quit the game entirely before going to sleep. Not sure where that leaves things, as far as who is driving the bug.

It's very frustrating, though, as I'm playing hugely better on the iPad than on the iPhone, of late (not sure why, but my average distance per game is close to double). My record longest is also significantly longer (8900 vs 6800, IIRC), but my longest distance in a single run of a vehicle is longer on the iPhone for five of the six vehicles.


I wasn't able to see the Caps game against the Rangers the other night; I wasn't feeling well and the DVR either missed it (maybe it was on the alternate channel, I didn't check) or erased it before I could watch it the next night. So I had mixed feelings about the result (love the win and score differential, but would have loved to have watched it).

Still, it sounded like, from the summaries I read, that the Caps got really lucky that they didn't give up more goals, especially in the first (where they had their traditional slow start, it seems).

Tonight, they got off to a much faster start, drawing a penalty in the opening minute and scoring a minute and change later on the power play. In fact, they completely dominated the entire first period, with shots 11-2 and scoring chances 7-1. They were lucky to get that one goal, as it went in off a defenseman's stick, but they did deserve to have a lead.

It was a very chippy period, with two fights, both fairly innocuous (though Ehrhoff managed to get injured in his fight with Brouwer somehow; I didn't catch how. Maybe he hit his head on the ice when they went down?).

As these things usually do, things evened up a lot in the second period. It started great, with a beautiful passing sequence from Semin to OV to Hamr back to Semin then to Backstrom for the slam dunk into the open net. It was the sort of thing that we'd see regularly for a while, but not so much this season. It also marked Hamr's second assist of the last eleven days (and of the season. Yikes).

But, towards the end of the period, the Caps started getting trapped in their own zone far too much, with Buffalo dictating. That was bound to bite them, and fifteen minutes in, it did. Hecht put in a rebound of a Vanek shot, as both Laich and Alzner failed to tie him up on the doorstep.

But they managed to stop the bleeding there, and keep the one-goal edge going into the final stanza. By this point, shots were even; I think the Caps had an edge of one or two in scoring chances, but I can't remember the numbers. So it was pretty even.

The third period was similar to the second, with Buffalo holding an edge, but not managing to dictate play like they did towards the end of the second. Things started looking a whole lot better fourteen minutes in, though, as Backstrom broke into the O zone on a 2-on-1 with OV. He had it next to the boards on the right-hand side, and shoveled it, backhand, over to OV, just left of center. With Miller playing shot all the way, OV had most of the net and got all of the puck with the one-timer into the middle of the goal. It was another very pretty goal, and ended up sealing the deal for the boys in red.

From there, it was all desperation play by the Sabres, with the Caps playing very little on offense, but they managed to prevent any really long build-up sequences. So, as I said, it proved to be enough.

As I alluded to earlier, it was a very strong game for the defense and for TVo. The offense was a bit more mixed, as they didn't have any completely dominant shifts (I'd really like to see more zone time and cycling), but did put together some very nice sequences off the rush. And the power play did convert one of its two chances. The PK also killed off the only opportunity they gave up, so it was a pretty good game all the way around.

That makes two pretty good games in a row, and they'll get a chance to make it three tomorrow against Columbus. Given the state of the Blue Jackets, showing up and playing hard should pretty well guarantee a win, although we'll see. It would be a long way from the first time they failed to show up, if that were to happen.


Congressional wealth

I was very happy to see (well, hear about via NPR, then read) WaPo's discussion of the wealth of Congressmen. Well, happy to see that they're noticing the problem.

And I think, as a human interest story, it was a good one, but missed many of the important issues that bear on why so many Congressmen are so wealthy.

In particular, it completely missed on mentioning the rates that incumbents get re-elected (around 96%, last I heard), and how gerrymandering is affecting that rate.

One knock-on effect of that, is that, because Congressmen and Senators get very out-sized returns from their investments (as I mentioned previously), those who stick around for a little while quickly become very wealthy.

I was quite surprised to see that about 8% of Congressmen have little or negative net worth (home excluded); I expected no more than a dozen for the entire body. I would be willing to bet that those are pretty much all first-term'ers.

(As an aside, I found Rep Kelly's comment about the "death tax" pretty offensive. Nobody has said, or even suggested, that you shouldn't be able to pass a pretty substantial amount on to your children. The debate has been about the exact percentage, and on amounts over how many millions of dollars. Suggesting that you can't pass anything on, when the tax doesn't even kick in until your estate clears several million dollars is assinine, at best. And that's a tax that's barely over 1/3. Yes, you are being taxed twice on the money (well, most of the time; not actually all the time). One could argue about the fairness of that, but what about the fairness of codifying a (roughly) permanent aristocracy by not having a tax at all? That's the choice.

And keep in mind that $1M is already 22 times the national median income. So even if the tax were to become 100% for amounts over $1M, which nobody has suggested, you would still be able to pass on the amount an average person earns in 22 years. Calling that nothing should be damned offensive to at least half the population.)

Bug, confirmed

Well, it appears that the bug that reset my missions and such recently is reproducible. At least, I ran the battery down to zero again yesterday while playing, and everything except possessions and coin count was lost again.

This is especially annoying as I had beaten my personal best again on the iPad (not by a lot; something like 8400 instead of 8100, but it's still irritating). At least I hadn't put any effort into achievements since the first reset.

Anyway, if you have an iPad 2 (this has never happened with my iPhone, although I haven't run that down since the latest upgrade), even with the latest version of the game, it looks like you better not run the battery all the way down. And now I've checked; syncing the iPad right afterwards doesn't help either.

The picture is the profile page, afterwards. Note the picture of the avatar, the coin count, and the best score. Time to get in touch with Halfbrick, I guess.


Takin' it easy

Wasn't able to see most of the Caps game tonight; I forgot to check which channel it was on, and don't have the DVR programmed on the alternate channel. I turned the game on late, just to make sure the DVR wasn't running out of space, and saw that I wasn't, but I wasn't getting the game either.

Plus, when I got the game on, there was a minute left in the second period, and that the score was 4-0. Ouch.

So, I watched the rest of the period, got to see an apparent Perreault goal (later credited to Hendricks), And I set the recorder to get the rest of the game (breaking my normal rule of turning off when the margin reaches four goals).

After we got the kids in bed, I went back to watch the third, and found a few things that surprised me. The Caps apparently didn't show up for the first period, giving up all four goals in that frame. Neuvy gave up three of those (on six shots), and was pulled. And things started going wrong fast, with Hamr getting a delay of game penalty only nine seconds in (and yes, the Sabres scored on the resultant power play).

What probably surprised me the most, however, was seeing the stats as of the end of the second. They were actually pretty close across the board. The penalty kill hadn't, allowing two goals in three opportunities, and the power play wasn't, not scoring in their three chances. Mixed things about the power play came out, though, from the announcers and stats provided. It had allowed a couple of short-handed chances (that went off the post), but had gotten seven shots in those three chances.

But the rest of it looked pretty close. The Caps were ahead in shots, by one; behind in scoring chances, but closer than I expected at 11-9. Those are really the most important things, in terms of predicting success or failure going forward, and that wasn't bad. It certainly didn't sound like a recipe for a three-goal margin.

But you could certainly argue that the Caps were closing the gap in garbage time, and that the game was basically decided while things were markedly uneven. And I wouldn't be terribly surprised if that was the case.

What I do know is that the Caps came out in the third and played pretty well. Not nearly well enough to make up a three goal margin, but not too badly. And they took a couple of bad penalties (actually, the tripping call on Laich was a horrible one; the guy just lost an edge); the one by Perreault was really terrible (especially given that it wasn't a particularly hard hit), and came at a horrendous time. I wouldn't be surprised if that penalty keeps Matty P out of, at least, the next game. Not smart.

On the plus side, Sasha Minor did draw a tripping call, cashed in by Sasha Major (assisted by Backstrom, of course, with a very nice screen by Laich). So the power play didn't end up completely futile, at least.

And the PK did stop the last two penalties. So there was that.

But the root of the problem is, of course, that the Caps still think they can win all their games by playing hard in the last period. And that will never work, in the long term. I wish that message would finally get through; it isn't exactly a new phenomenon.

The Rangers are coming to visit on Wednesday, let's hope that the Caps show up at 7:05.


Tradition, cntd

My wife and I traditionally watch Love, Actually sometime around Christmas time, as it's a perfect Christmas movie. Well, not perfect for having the kids watch it with you; it has an R rating, and, while I always forget that, definitely deserves it. This year we watched it late on Christmas Eve, and, as always, enjoyed it greatly.

I don't have too much to say about it, other than it being a fantastic movie, but did want to mention that it has a Dido song in the middle. Usually, that song catches me off-guard (I always forget that it's there), but this time I was looking forward to it starting. Also, this was the first year we watched it on blu-ray; the DVD was finally retired.

But I love movies of this sort, that tie together a lot of threads, and do it both subtly and blatantly. It's fun to catch new ties that I hadn't noticed before. Four Weddings and a Funeral is similar, in that vein. (Which reminds me; I haven't watched that one in quite a few years. That should be remedied.)

It's like Greased Lightnin'

After the Caps game ended, I finally relented to watching a movie with my daughter, and pulled out Bolt. I didn't know too much of what to expect; my only knowledge of it was from a trailer I'd seen before it came out. It looked funny, with significant likelihood of the hamster stealing many scenes, and that was enough for me to buy it (once I found it pretty cheaply, that is).

Oh, I think I knew some of the basic plot, too. I knew that he was a TV dog who didn't realize that it was SFX giving him super powers; I don't think I knew why he was outside of the TV show.

Basically, then, I knew almost the entire movie. The plot isn't exactly deep; Bolt needs to find "his person" (owner, the Miley Cyrus character), and finds out, in the process, that he isn't so super-powered. And yeah, the hamster he finds along the way stole many scenes (almost every scene he was in, in fact).

One thing that took me a while to spell out, in my mind, were the parallels to Inspector Gadget (Penny and her dog save her father). I realized there was something there I was missing as soon as they named the Miley Cyrus character, but it took me a while to figure out what it reminded me of.

Was the movie good? I enjoyed it quite a bit. As I said, not deep, but funny, frequently silly, and a little bit of feeling (though mostly of the sappy, Disney sort). I'll watch it again, sometime. Probably with my daughter, as she also liked it. Actually, before the end credits had finished, she was asking me to replay it, which is a first, for her.

Bedeviled Anew

I didn't get a chance to write about the Caps game against the Devils from the other night.

It was not a very fun game to watch, as the Caps were badly outplayed in the first (though, thanks to Neuvy, escaped with no score) and completely dominated in the second (and lucky to end down by only three goals). How bad was it? They got their first sustained pressure of the game in the last minute of the second period (and yes, that includes the three power plays. I think NJ got more chances on those power plays than Washington did. And more offensive zone time. Sad). And I'm glad they did, because if they hadn't, I probably wouldn't have watched the third, at all.

And I'm glad I did watch the third, as they outplayed the Devils handily, getting nine shots against only four allowed. And, wonder of wonders, three of those nine found the back of the net. That was enough to guarantee a standings point.

And the Caps continued to outplay the Devils in the overtime, but were unable to bury any of their shots, so they went to the shootout for the second time against the Devils this season. And, unfortunately, the result was the same as last time, with the Devils scoring twice on the shootout (and Neuvy was beaten by the third, as well, but Parise put the puck over the net) while the Caps failed to record a shootout goal.

So the Caps had their second loss of the season after going into overtime (both on the shootout, and both to New Jersey), but, as badly as they were outplayed through two, it almost felt like a victory. Not a satisfying one, though.

And Chimmer continued his annus mirabilis, getting two of the three goals, with Laich getting the third (they were not playing together for most of the game, though, so we can't make a comment about it being their line being awesome).

All in all, we're left with a bit of a "two steps forward, one step back" kind of feeling, as the Nashville game felt like progress, and this one felt like regress.

I'm definitely hoping for a much better showing tomorrow night in Buffalo, though; I can't take much more of this suckage. I keep telling myself that the end result will make the pain worth it, but it's hard to be sure of that, with the way things are going.

Happy Holidays

Looks like I'm a few minutes late to say Merry Christmas, but I hope everyone reading this is having a nice holiday filled with friends, family, and good cheer, regardless of your denomination.


Full, ordered list old jetpack missions

In my shorthand, though it should make sense if you've played before.

play 3 (1)
reach 500m, no coins (1)
collect 5 vehicles (2)
collect 2 tokens (1)
10 hi-fives, 1 game (1)
slide 50m on face (2)
1500 coins (1)
10 lights,1 (1)
smash 5 (1)
buy item (2)
get stomper x3 (1)
cash 3 tokens (1)
finish 3-400m (2)
near missile (2)
200 coins,1 (1)
reach 500m, no veh (2)
travel 3km (1)
use head start (2)
travel 750m hog (2)
5 tokens (1)
10 near misses (1)
gravity 30 (1)
300m on foot,1 (2)
5 spin prizes (3)
finish 5-600m (1)
300 coins,1 (2)
'porter 300m,1 (1)
3 tokens,1 (2)
15 hi-fives,1 (2)
reach 1km, no coins (2)
final blast (3)
5 near missile (2)
rub roof 300m,1 (2)
2km in vehicle (1)
reach 1.5km (2)
250m hog,1 (1)
10 tokens (2)
75 hi-five (3)
500m 'porter,1 (3)
500 coins,1 (2)
1km on foot (2)
15 lights,1 (1)
1km w/o mg pack (3)
300m bird,1 (2)
1-1.1km (2)
10 near miss,1 (2)
knock down 25 w/stomper (3)
rub roof 1km (2)
2500 coins (2)
500-550m (3)
300m gravity,1 (2)
15 tokens (3)
smash 10 (1)
50 lights (2)
4 tokens,1 (3)
1200m 'porter (2)
400m stomper,1 (2)
100 near miss (3)
gravity 50 (1)
750 coins,1 (3)
25 hi-five,1 (2)
1500m no vehicle (2)
1750m no coins (3)

And it seems that my iPad went back to the new missions after completing that set. Maybe they kept that set for a first pass through the game?

Jet-ing strangeness

Played Jetpack Joyride earlier on my iPad. Battery died while playing. Ok, nothing unusual (well, hadn't happened before on iPad, I think, but many times on iPhone).

After it charged, I brought the game back up, and it had lost almost all of my stats. But it still had my items and my coins. Ok, that's weird. Weirder, while I was looking through the stash, I saw several achievement indicators go across the top of the screen.

Wait, which mission was I on? Brought up the mission list. It was the first three missions from the original game. Huh. But didn't I see...?

Yep, I saw the latest additions to the game in the Stash (Santa suit, etc).

So I'm not sure what's going on. Just for grins, I'm playing the original mission set, so I'll be able to post them again, in order, with difficulty levels for all of them. Soon.

Update: I forgot to mention; I don't mind losing most of what was lost. If the coins/possessions had been lost, I'd have been a lot more upset. All that I miss are a few of the achievements that were tough (germaphobe, in particular, but also tee hee two (now a secret achievement?) and bullseye), my longest run (was over 8km, and I've only gotten over 7km three or so times), and the list of tokens (but only because my odds of getting duplicates have now gone up).

Second update: Just noticed that the nice icons aren't (all?) there, as well.


So, I guess tax hikes aren't so bad after all, are they...

It looks like a lot of people will be getting a small tax hike, in the form of the payroll tax holiday going away on January first. How we got there is kind of interesting. As near as I can tell, Republicans wouldn't agree to a one-year extension unless it was amended with a bunch of irrelevancies (most notably fast-tracking the Keystone XL pipeline).

So a compromise, two-month extension was agreed to, that would extend it long enough to negotiate a longer-term agreement. The Senate promptly passed that, with 89 or 90 votes (I forget), but the House decided that negotiating wasn't good enough. No, they needed to reject the Senate bill, and send the issue to committee, so they could negotiate.


So, once again, we see that 'public service' stops at the doors of Congress, as everyone went home for the holiday.

Merry Christmas to the 160M or so who are affected by the payroll tax holiday. *sigh*

Update: Supposedly, the House Republicans caved earlier today, and will be approving the agreed-upon two-month extension. We'll see what happens when the two months ends, but I suspect it'll be as ugly as the last few days have been.

Jetpack Medals

I still don't have a complete list, but I thought I'd list the medals that I have (yes, the names are predefined, they aren't randomly generated. I have a couple of them on more than one device). I'll probably update this as I get more.

001: Lonely Badge of Singularity (final update)
002: Double Badge of Rainbows (Update)
003: Sleepy Badge of Naps
004: Quadruple Badge of Bypass (Update)
005: Funky Badge of Jazz
006: Delicious Badge of Custard (Update)
007: Not So Lucky Badge
008: Prestigious Badge of Bacon
009: Sparkly Badge of Learning (Update)
010: New Badge of Double Digits (Update)
011: Annual Badge of Celebration (Update)
012: Dogs Badge of Walks
013: Super Lucky Badge (Update)
014: Adventurous Badge of Travel (Update)
015: Shiny Badge of Honour (Update)
016: Shiny Badge of Completion
017: Shiny Badge of Achievement
018: Momentous Badge of Age
019: Shiny Badge of Excellence (Update)
020: Shiny Badge of Courage (Update)
021: Tipsy Badge of Celebration
022: Shiny Badge of Persistence
023: Shiny Badge of Resilience
024: Shiny Badge of Skill
025: Shiny Badge of Accomplishment
026: Shiny Badge of Dexterity
027: Shiny Badge of Technique
028: Shiny Badge of Prowess (Update)
029: Shiny Badge of Finesse
030: Shiny Badge of Aptitude
031: Shiny Badge of Talent (Update)
032: Shiny Badge of Sparkles
033: Shiny Badge of Greatness
034: Golden Frothing Badge
035: Shiny Badge of Deliciousness (Update)
036: Shiny Badge of Curiosity (final update)
037: Shiny Badge of Insight (Update)
038: Shiny Badge of Love
039: Shiny Badge of Creativity
040: Crisis Badge of Midlife
041: Shiny Badge of Brilliance (Update)
042: Badge of Meaning
043: Shiny Badge of Delight (Update)
044: Shiny Badge of Superiority (Update)
045: Great Badge of Honor (final update)
046: Great Badge of Completion (Update)
047: Great Badge of Achievement
048: Great Badge of Excellence
049: Great Badge of Courage
050: Great Badge of Persistence
051: Great Badge of Resilience (Update)
052: Great Badge of Skill
053: Great Badge of Accomplishment
054: Great Badge of Dexterity (Update)
055: Ominous Badge of Assassination
056: Great Badge of Technique
057: Great Badge of Prowess
058: Great Badge of Finesse (Update)
059: Great Badge of Aptitude (Update)
060: Great Badge of Talent
061: Great Badge of Sparkles (Update)
062: Great Badge of Greatness (Update)
063: Great Badge of Deliciousness (Update)
064: Great Badge of Curiosity
065: Great Badge of Inspiration (Update)
066: Great Badge of Love (Update)
067: Great Badge of Creativity
068: Great Badge of Brilliance (Update)
069: Racy Badge of Controversy (Update)
070: Great Badge of Delight (Update)
071: Great Badge of Superiority (Update)
072: Special Badge of Honour (Update)
073: Special Badge of Completion
074: Special Badge of Achievement (Update)
075: Special Badge of Excellence
076: Special Badge of Courage (Update)
077: Special Badge of Persistence (Update)
078: Special Badge of Resilience
079: Special Badge of Skill (Update)
080: Special Badge of Accomplishment
081: Special Badge of Dexterity
082: Special Badge of Technique (Update)
083: Special Badge of Prowess (Update)
084: Best Badge of Birth (Update)
085: Special Badge of Finesse
086: Funny Green Badge (Update)
087: Special Badge of Aptitude
088: Special Badge of Talent
089: Special Badge of Sparkles (Update)
090: Special Badge of Greatness (Update)
091: Special Badge of Deliciousness
092: Special Badge of Curiosity
093: Special Badge of Inspiration
094: Special Badge of Love
095: Special Badge of Creativity (Update)
096: Special Badge of Brilliance
097: Special Badge of Delight (Update)
098: Special Badge of Superiority (Update)
099: Devastating Badge of Bradman
100: Badge of the Centurion
101: Shiny Badge of Spotted Dogs
102: Awesome Badge of Awesomeness (Update)
103: Heroic Badge of Heroes (Update)
104: Glorious Badge of Glory
105: Wonderful Badge of Wonder (Update)
106: Great Badge of Greatness (Update)
107: Amazing Badge of Amazement (Update)
108: Familiar Badge of Imagery
109: Brave Badge of Bravery (Update)
110: Lucky Badge of Luck (Update)
111: Prestigious Badge of Prestige
112: Honourable Badge of Honour (Update)
113: Warm Badge of Summer (final update)
114: Freezing Badge of Winter (Update)
115: Historic Badge of Fruit (Update)
116: Historic Badge of Sensei (Update)
117: Historic Badge of Raskullyness
118: Historic Badge of Zombies
119: Historic Badge of Echoes (Update)
120: Historic Badge of Racing Rockets (Update)
121: Historic Badge of Blasting Off (Update)
122: Woody's Badge of Programming (Update)
123: Sierra's Badge of Art
124: Muscat's Badge of Design
125: Last Badge of the Collection(?)

And yes, that last one does have the question mark in the game. I didn't add it.

And apparently my early guesses about the names were wrong. At first I thought it was done mad lib-style, as <ADJ> Badge of <Noun>, but you can see that isn't totally the case. Later, I thought they chose all of the <ADJ> badges to be sequential, but that also isn't true. It looks like someone took the time to individually name all of them. That must have been quite the pain.

sixty-eight seventy-three seventy-five
eighty ninety-one 115 125 down, if I'm counting right, and fifty-seven fifty-two fifty forty-five thirty-four ten none to go. Dunno if I'll keep playing long enough to get there, but that's the results of
7900km11000km of progress over about
43004950 games (Update: not sure about total distance or total games anymore, after losing what was my primary game log.  I'm sure there are at least 84300 more games now, but I'd be guessing at anything more specific).Feel free to add any others in the comments, and I'll update the main list.

Other update: Fixed some formatting after the list, it should now make more sense.

Later update: Had miscounted at the beginning, but now have an accurate count.


Thoughts on old Jetpacking

I mentioned that there were originally 62 missions arranged with 15 levels of progress in Jetpack Joyride. I meant to put together a list of them, so I'll put that at the end of this post. I should point out, though, that my list isn't in order; I never got around to sorting it.

And I should mention two small downsides to the new approach of picking missions of the game. Both are results of random selection: you can get a mission more than once, and there's no synergy between missions. To expand on the latter point, in the old set, you'd generally end up with relatively compatible missions at one time (and, I think, the better you were as a player, the more true this was). With the current picking, it's impossible to determine. Neither of these is a big deal, but they're slightly annoying.

One other bit of oddness comes out of the randomness (although it's possible that this one results from upgrading to the newest version (a much smaller upgrade, that mostly just adds some Christmas window-dressing and better mission icons) in the middle of the set of missions). Last time, I ended up with two difficulty stars left over after I completed the Barry level. We'll see if that repeats; it was odd. And no, those two stars did not carry over into the next mission set.

And one more note on the new mission set. I ran into one last night that says something like 'Travel 500m without touching floor or ceiling'. Unlike most missions with similar phrasing, this one can be done anywhere in the game, not just to start the game.

And one final thing on the big upgrade: there's also a new achievement, Dragon Fruit. Equip the Fruit Jetpack, and find Mr Cuddles.

Anyway, on to the list of all 62 original missions (in shorthand) with difficulty where I remember it:
Play three games (1)
Knock a hole in the wall five times (1)
ditto, 10 times (1)
Slide 50m on your face (2)
Fly 500m w/o coins (1)
ditto, 1km (2)
ditto, 1750m (3)
Travel 500m w/o vehicle (1)
ditto, 1km (2)
ditto, 1.5km (2)
Collect five vehicles (2)
Collect 2 spin tokens in one game (1)
ditto, 3 (2)
ditto, 4 (3)
Collect 200 coins in one game (1)
ditto, 300
ditto, 400
ditto, 750 (3)
Collect 1500 coins (1)
ditto, 2500
Collect 5 tokens (1)
ditto, 10 (2)
ditto, 15 (3)
Travel 300m in stomper, one run
ditto, teleporter
ditto, gravity suit
ditto, profit bird
Travel 250m on hog, one run
Travel 400m in stomper, one run
Travel 500m in teleporter, one run
Travel 2km in vehicle
Travel 1200m in teleporter (3)
Travel 750m on hog
Change gravity 30 times, one run (1)
ditto, 50 (1)
Knock down 25 scientists
Collect stomper 3 times
Cash in three spin tokens (1)
Win prize in final spin, 5 times (3)
Use bought head start (2)
Use bought final blast (3)
But something from stash (2) [can be another mission]
Travel 1km w/o machine gun jetpack
Reach 1500m
Near miss from missile
five of them
Ten near misses from zappers
ditto, in one game
and 100 (not one game)
75 high fives
10, one game
15, one game
25, one game
Brush 50 flashing lights
15, one game
Finish between 500 & 600
300-400 (1)
Rub roof 1000m
300, one game
Walk 1000m
300, one game

Be wehwy, wehwy quiet, we'h huntin' predatuhs

Tonight was another very uneven game for the boys in red. It got off on a high note, celebrating Knuble's 1000th NHL game. Then they proceeded to play a nearly perfect first period, one of the best they've played all year. After goals from Backstrom and Ovechkin (playing on separate lines), they went into the dressing rooms without allowing one in return. The power play even looked good; no goals, but four shots.

Chances were 8-2 in favor of the good guys, and Neuvy was looking excellent.

The second period saw the Caps outplayed by a fair bit, which wasn't helped by the quartet of minor penalties (two of which were very stupid, and another was a rare mistake by Alzner). They were especially out-hit, including one shift by Tootoo where he threw two Caps to the ice in impressive fashion. But they managed not to break under the pressure, with the PK looking especially good. Chances in this period were 4-2, bad guys.

The third period continued with very good play from Nashville, as they flat-out dominated the first half of the third period. They kept Washington penned in, and scrambling, and scored one to pull it back to a one-goal game.

But Washington broke out in the second half, triggered by Semin's beauty of a wrister from the left side ten and a half minutes in. It was a nice rush, with MarJo pulling the defense and leaving a drop pass for Semin. Semin skated in a little bit, then planted the puck all the way in the far side, top corner (really, he couldn't have placed it better by hand).

Brouwer rounded out the scoring with his first power play goal of the season three minutes later, tipping in a Wideman shot. That one also got MarJo his second assist of the night (no goals for his 100th game, but we'll take those assists any day).

In all, it was a very good game. Actually, what was depressing was that Locker said, right after Brouwer scored, something to the effect of it being their largest lead of the night. That was true, but the depressing part was thinking back to the last time they had a three goal lead. Now that I've looked, it was six weeks ago, against Carolina. Ugh.

Let's see if they can find a way to do it again on Friday, when they visit the Devils.


Who is Hanna?

One good thing about the Caps crapping the bed a couple of weeks ago (this game, I think) was that it gave me time to watch a movie. Having quite a few recent options to choose from (thank you, Black Friday/Cyber Monday), I decided on Hanna. I wasn't sure if I could really buy the premise, but I was certainly curious to see the execution.

For those unfamiliar, the premise is that a guy has raised his daughter from early childhood to be an assassin (with a specific, personal target). He was a spy, so some of it wasn't completely outlandish. To further that, he raised her in a remote location near the Arctic Circle (how remote? They had to hunt for their food). So far, so good.

But the big question is, how is she going to carry this out?

To get back to the important stuff, they did an excellent job with the little details, but the larger, plausibility issue wasn't really so great. But Hanna's interactions with other people (and technology) were very good.

I liked that, when she first meets someone to talk to, she sounds like a recorder. She remembers her lines, but can't make herself sound natural. And her knowledge is encyclopedic, but rarely useful (unsurprising, since much of it came directly out of an encyclopedia).

One weird thing that just occurred to me. Her first time in a place with electricity she gets a bit freaked out. The problems with that were two-fold: one, she didn't seem at all uncomfortable at the place where she carried out her mission (which was earlier in the movie), and two, we didn't see that again. People don't recover from something like that quite that quickly.

Also, she didn't seem to have any trouble with cars, which she also hadn't seen before (well, not since she was a toddler, at least).

And the other two problems were pretty big ones. The first was her ability to fight. If they want her to be able to believably fight grown, trained men, they needed to do something more than they did. They had a bit of an explanation for her being strong enough to do that sort of thing, but it wasn't introduced until about three-quarters of the way through the film. That's too late. Plus, no offense to Saoirse Ronan, who was otherwise excellent (and I do believe she worked really hard on the fighting part), but she didn't seem all that believable at fighting. Not that she didn't look competent; she did, but she didn't seem sufficiently outstanding to be outclassing trained guys so much bigger than her. I actually think, to make this believable, that they needed to do some special effects or very fancy choreography, and they didn't.

The last big thing that just didn't seem right: the whole film was set in motion by Hanna turning on a transponder that told her target where her father was. There wasn't any explanation for how or why he would have a transponder that was detectable (apparently world-wide; I did mention how remote they were) and that identified him, specifically. It's fairly easy to ignore, I guess, but I just don't see any explanation.

Anyway, to get back to the good parts, I did think Ms Ronan was excellent. Eric Bana was also good as her father, as was Cate Blanchett as the target.

And, as I said, they got lots of little details right. The boy staying awake to listen to his sister talk to another girl. Hanna's reaction to a boy showing some interest in her. They also spent a lot of time working on accents and languages, and it showed.

Overall, this movie felt more like a foreign film than a US one; I'm surprised, looking now, that it made as much as it did in the US. I'm glad that it did, though. I wouldn't mind seeing more films like this made, although I hope they'll put a little more emphasis into the big details, before worrying so much about the little ones.

Of course, one does need to question why there are so many movies being made recently about assassins. You'd think they'd be considered the lowest of the low, yet they're being glorified. Something's definitely wrong with that picture.

Need a towel? There's an app for that...

At least, if you're a Steelers fan (search for 'Terrible Towel' on the iTunes App Store). I find that hilariously silly.

How did I find out? Apparently, it's available for free, today only. No word on how to use it to make rat tails.

Caps last two

I didn't get a chance to write about last Thursday's game until yesterday; saw it late Friday and was busy on Saturday (and when I wrote this yesterday, I wasn't able to post it).

It was mostly a good game. The first period was mostly good, but with a few serious breakdowns. Unlike many of the recent games, though, they got great goaltending from Neuvy when those happened. I imagine that Coach Hunter was pretty upset about those breakdowns, though, because a team with aspirations to contending for the title can't have those.

The second and third periods had the Caps taking control, putting a lot of pressure on the Jets, who kept getting bailed out by Pavelec. The Caps didn't get a lot of chances in the third, but they managed to give the Jets even fewer. What's more, with a little over a minute left, OV (with help from Johansson and Backstrom) managed to finally get one past Pavelec.

That ended up being the only goal of the contest, so the Caps left town with a pair of points.

In Saturday's game, I was a bit apprehensive when the paper mentioned that Colorado was 25th in the league. Why did that make me apprehensive? Well, it seemed like every time I looked at one of their scores, they had won. So they must have won just about every game I'd noticed, and I was definitely going to be noticing this one.

One slight disappointment was that Giguere was in net; I'd hoped to see Varly again, even knowing that his season has been incredibly up and down.

The first period was pretty good for the Caps, as they held slight edges in most categories that one would care about. And that was despite losing the face-off battle 15-3. But the one category that you'd definitely care about where they were losing was on the scoreboard.

McLeod put a soft wrist shot from the blue line off Carlson's skate and into the top of the net. Neuvy didn't seem to see it until it was past him, which is fairly damning on a soft shot from that far out with no screen. He had a good night outside of that shot, and the team should be able to score three, but that was still a terrible goal to let in.

The second period did not go well for the Caps either, as they were outplayed by a fair bit from start to finish. They did have a definite bright spot as Semin got a breakaway, putting one over Giguere's shoulder to tie the game.

Unfortunately, they again failed to use that as a confidence builder, allowing another go-ahead goal less than a minute later.

That was it for scoring in the second period, leaving the Caps going into the third period down yet again. Did that motivate them to play harder for the last period? To show desperation? Not until the last minute or so, as they were outplayed pretty badly up to that point. Neuvy kept them in the game, but he can't score goals by himself.

I was very surprised to learn, at the end of the period, that the shots were even, but the play certainly wasn't. A large percentage of the period was played in the Caps end, and far too much of it with the 'lanche holding the puck. Kudos to the Avs, as they played very well; it was a very frustrating game to watch.

One part of that is that, while the Caps are a very young team (not as young as the Avs, though), the Avs seemed much, much faster in the game. At times it felt like the team, especially Erskine and Hamr, were just cones to be skated around. As I said, very frustrating.

Adding to the frustration was that the power play was atrocious; they couldn't even bring the puck into the offensive zone. You can see the futility there by noting that they got only one shot on the four power plays (although one of those, at the end of the game, was only fourteen seconds long).

And the face-offs were terrible. I mentioned the first period, which was horrifying, but the margin only increased over the remaining two periods (though not by much).

Let's hope that the team learned some lessons from the game, and applies them tomorrow night against Nashville. And let's hope that that leads to a better result than the last game against the Predators.


Oh, when the tanks, come rollin' home, oh when...

I must admit to having rather mixed feelings about the recent news that the troops in Iraq are, in fact, coming home. I'm very glad for that (and for the troops themselves, especially), and have wanted it to happen for nine years or so, now. And I'm pretty surprised, because, despite Obama's campaign promises, I didn't really expect it to happen. But I also feel some cynicism because of the large number of State Department-led people (some of whom would be hard to classify as anything other than troops) who are remaining indefinitely.

I guess the most important part is to remember that it is a significant step forward. And it will greatly help the budget situation as well, because the State Department's whole budget for Iraq is only (HAH!) $5B.

So let's applaud this for what it is, and continue to hope for a complete pull-out, as well as a complete pull-out from Afghanistan.


Water, water, everywhere, but...

I read, some time ago, about the problems of Jefferson Co, Alabama, where the court ordered that the sewer system be constructed such that no spillage would occur (I believe that was the phrasing). What that resulted in, shortly, was
In Alabama, Jefferson County residents pay $50 a month for a sewer system whose construction generated millions of dollars in fees for JPMorgan Chase & Co. Now it’s getting a court-appointed receiver, according to Bloomberg. And al.com reports that former Jefferson sewer boss Jack Swann is destined for a lengthy stay in a prison to be determined later. To make matters worse, the sewer system is over-engineered yet difficult to operate.

Now, a couple of years later, there is even more fall-out:
But the real victims of the financial collapse in the US state of Alabama's most populous county are its poorest residents - forced to bathe in bottled water and use portable toilets after being cut off from the mains supply.

The whole saga is more interesting, because a significant part of the problem was the financing (arranged by the great, philanthropic JP Morgan Chase):
The saga of the bankruptcy in the county of Alabama's biggest city, Birmingham, includes a long thread of corruption and fraud as a sewer system upgrade originally projected to cost as little as $250 million wound up saddling the county with unsustainable debts worth billions.

Bad bond and refinancing deals and construction problems helped inflate the debt balloon.

The one bit of good that might come out of this is that JP Morgan Chase might not get back a large amount of the money the county owes them. The description (which I can't find, unfortunately) I read of the original debt was that it involved credit rate swaps. Essentially, they were trying to hide how much debt they were generating by getting into obscure derivatives that, if everything went right, would keep the payments low for a while. Getting into those kinds of transactions, without knowing exactly what you're doing, is a fool's game, so, to a degree, the county deserves what it got.

Well, the people responsible are all gone from office, but now we see how the fallout continues for a lot of undeserving people, years later. This is what comes of "do whatever you can to win the next election" governance. In this case, the "do whatever you can" involved trying to hide a body (the size of the long-term debt) that wasn't quite dead yet.

Beware low-flying objects

I was pretty apprehensive about last night's Caps-Flyers tilt, because the Caps are still in transition and because the Flyers would certainly want revenge for the game a few weeks ago. I felt a little better shortly before the game, after finding out that Giroux and Pronger were out (not that I wish ill on them, but it certainly improves the Caps odds for them to be out).

Things started out fairly well; kind of like the game the other night, where the Caps weren't generating a lot of offense (though better than the other night; shots were about the same, but six scoring chances as opposed to one), but were looking very solid, defensively. Perhaps more importantly, they weren't getting penned in their own zone for long periods of time. But they did allow a fairly bad goal sixteen minutes in to put the Flyers in the lead.

The second period didn't go nearly as well, and the 3-0 score differential gave a pretty decent indication of the Flyers' dominance. They got penned in a couple of times, and let in a couple more bad goals (it was a terrible night for Vokoun; I wasn't surprised to hear that he had been replaced after the end of the period. I believe Simmonds' goal was the only one that Vokoun shouldn't have stopped).

I managed to keep the game on until the end of the second period (I thought I might as well turn if off when the fourth goal went in), and did see one good shift because of that. There were some signs of life in the third period. Halpern did get a goal, which was good, and the seventeen shots was also a good sign. But they didn't get any closer to winning the game.

So, it seemed like this game was going to be a good gauge of where the Caps are in their recovery, and that gauge indicates a tank half-full, at best. Hopefully Thursday's game against the Jets will go a bit better.


Jetpack addenda

I mentioned that missions have become fluid. In a minute, I'll give the list of missions for my second pass through. But I forgot to mention a couple of other tweaks. The odds on final spins seem to have changed a bit (I say seem to have, because it could just be normal, random variation); added tokens and head starts seem more likely (the former by a lot, the latter by a bit).

In general, the game also seems a bit more difficult. Part of that is the greenhouse area, just because of the color scheme (the yellow zappers don't stand out as much as against the other backgrounds). I thought, perhaps, that threats might have gotten a touch closer together, but now I think that probably isn't the case. I suspect there might be slightly fewer horizontal zappers, though (they're less dangerous than the vertical or diagonal ones). But I'm not completely sure. I do know that I'm not doing as well.

Hmm. I seem not to have copied down all of the missions the second time, so I'll just mention some of the ones I hadn't seen before:

Travel 450m w/o harming scientists (2)
ditto, 700m (3)
70 high fives (3)
ditto, 55 (2)
20 flashing lights in one game (3)
1400m on hog (3)
275 coins in one game (2)
9 tokens (3)
1200, no coins (2)
3 groups of coins in one game (3)
reach 1750m (2)
reach 2400 (3)
travel 8km (forgot to copy down difficulty)


Joyriding on jetpacks...

I've been playing Halfbrick's Jetpack Joyride for quite a while now. I'm not great at it, as my best game is a little over 7km, but I have played all of the missions over fifty times.

Well, they decided to upgrade a couple of days ago, and this was a much bigger upgrade than any of the previous ones. Previously, "winning" consisted of going through 62 missions (you can solve up to three of them in one game) of varying difficulty.

In this upgrade, there were some cosmetic changes (most notably, adding a greenhouse section to the previous corridor, lab, warehouse, and aquatic areas).

But the big change was to the mission set, which had not been modified in previous releases.

My first time through, here are the missions I went through:

Go 250m in Lil Stomper (1 star)
Go 500m without collecting any coins (1)
Brush by 50 flashing lights (2)
Collect 2 spin tokens in one game (1)
Get 5 high-fives from scientists in one game (1)
Finish a game in 500-600m (1)
Fly over 50 zappers [it says, in one game, but it isn't] (2)
Smash the wall 5 times (1)
Destroy the profit bird (1)
Reach 900m w/o machine-gun jetpack (3)
3 Near misses from missiles (1)
Collect 300 coins in one game (2)
Travel 250m on foot in one game (1)
Get 100 high-fives from scientists (3)
Travel 150m in Mr Cuddles in one run (1)
Collect 7 spin tokens (2)
Travel 750m without collecting any coins (1)
Brush 12 flashing lights in one game (2)
Fly over 90 zappers [again, it says 'in one game', but doesn't mean it] (3)
Destroy Crazy Freakin' Teleporter 5 times (2)
Play 10 games (2)
Rub roof for 300m in one game (2)
3 Near-missiles, one game (3)
Buy item from stash (2)
Collect 3 tokens in one game (2)
Travel 350m w/o hurting scientists (2)
Go 4km (1)
Travel 350m in Lil Stomper, one run (2)
Have 10 near misses with zappers (1)
Travel 1000m w/o machine-gun jetpack (3)
Get 10 high-fives in one game (1)
Get 7 groups of coins [this is even easier than it sounds] (3)
Travel 400m on foot in one game (1)
Win 7 prizes in final spin (3)
Destroy Hog (1)
Brush 15 lights in one game (2)
Go 6km (2)
Rub roof for 500m in one game (2)
4 Near-missile (2)
30 high-fives in one game (3)
Go 1100m w/o collecting coins (2)
Go 300m in profit bird in one run (2)
Buy and use final blast (3)
Fly over 100 zappers [ditto] (3)
Smash wall 8 times (1)
Collect 1000 coins (2)
Travel 1250 on foot (2)
Destroy Gravity Suit 3 times (2)
Brush 17 lights, one game (3)
35 high-fives, one game (3)
Finish 1000-1100m (2)
Rub roof 1000m (2)
Collect 4 tokens in one game (3)
5 Near-missiles (3)
Travel 1100 w/o machine-gun jetpack (3)
Travel 1750m on Mr Cuddles (3)
Fly over 25 zappers, one game {and this time they mean it] (3)
Travel 1750m w/o collecting coins (3)

A couple of things to note here: lots of new missions and there are fewer than 62. A bigger surprise awaited the second time through. The missions changed, although I'll detail it more later.

Maple leaf rag

Because there should be some happy music after last night's Caps game. The Caps were -2 at even strength as a team, but woke up the sleeping beast of the power play to the tune of four goals to win solidly. What's more, Wideman decided that Carlson was taking too much of the press with a pair of 3-point games, so he decided to upstage that with a hat trick and an assist (hmm... that's what they were saying at the end of the game, but it looks like the third goal was changed to be credited to Laich, who must have tipped Wideman's shot in. So, two and two, not three and one).

Plus, for the second game in a row, OV looked continually dangerous (though unable to actually score, this time), putting eight shots on goal.

The game started out ok, with the Caps not putting any shots on net for the first ten minutes, but doing a good job of keeping the Leafs from threatening (even with Ward's really stupid "closing hand on puck" penalty. He has not had a good last four-five games, with some very poor decisions in the D-zone leading to goals against, and several bad penalties). But a couple of minutes later, after turning up the offensive play a bit, they got their first power play and, thirty-three seconds later, their first score. The rest of the period was played pretty evenly (maybe a slight edge to the Caps), but without any scoring.

The second period got off to a good start, with the Leafs taking a 'too many men on the ice' penalty ninety-eight seconds in. Eleven seconds later, Wideman had his second goal of the night, with a long shot from the point with Reimer on a screened-in porch. Eleven minutes later, the Leafs got within one on a weird sequence. TVo was hugging the post, and a shot bounced up from the outside of the net, onto and over his leg, and sat behind him for a second until Kessel could skate around the net and tap it in. A bit of a fluke, but not a good job of hugging the post. There really shouldn't be any room there.

The Caps finally did something on a 5-on-3 six minutes later, when WIdeman faked a slap shot then put a pass through a lot of traffic (blind luck that it made it through) to Backstrom on the doorstep, who put it over Reimer then watched the thin part of Reimer's stick push it over the line. Very bad luck for the Leafs, especially as it occurred with one second left on the first penalty, so they still had to kill the second (though they did).

The third period was not as good as the first two. The Caps decided to stop trying for offense for a while, so, predictably, they spent too much time in their own end and eventually gave up a goal to Franson. That got them back to trying at both ends, though, and they picked things up a bit.

Carlson was involved in a bunch of penalties at the end, taking a high stick with a bit more than two minutes remaining (that pretty much killed Toronto's chances of winning), and then getting into a "fight" with fifteen seconds remaining. The power play on the high stick finished out Washington's scoring, though, with Carlson passing to Wideman, whose slapshot from the point was deflected into the net.

In the end, it was a pretty nice game, with the power play clicking like it hadn't in quite a few weeks. The penalty kill, while only called on twice, was also good.

Even strength was a bit less even; I'd like to see more shots and, again, much fewer giveaways. But they mostly did a good job of making it difficult for Toronto to enter the zone and had some good cycling shifts. So it was far from a perfect game, but definitely one showing progress.

A much bigger test will come on Tuesday, as they face the Flyers again. No doubt they will be looking for revenge after the manhandling the Caps gave them earlier in the season.


Playing to completion

The Caps, tonight, played one of their most complete games of the season (not their most, but top 5, I think), downing the Senators 5-3. They came out strong, forechecking well to keep Ottawa from getting anything set up in the offensive zone. They also were constantly threatening, putting up fifteen shots in the first period. Unfortunately, that hard work didn't pay off, as Anderson did a stellar job in net, keeping the Sens in the game.

In fact, the penalty kill even looked great, getting a breakaway led by Chimera that led to two penalties. Unfortunately, the power play still couldn't solve Anderson, even with almost the whole two minutes of 5-on-3. But they did generate a number of chances (four, IIRC), so I can't say it was a terrible effort. They still weren't moving around as much as they should, but it wasn't terrible.

Early in the second, they finally put one past Anderson off a rebound of Brouwer's shot that Halpern managed to get his stick on, despite being tripped as he was shooting. Instead of giving the Caps momentum, however, they stopped forechecking as hard (or maybe just weren't as successful at it) and played more evenly for the rest of the period. And Ottawa had two pretty goals during that time, put in by Condra and Foligno.

The Caps didn't get too discouraged, though, and came out pretty hard in the third. It took them a while, but they finally managed to solve Anderson on the power play, with a pretty top-shelf shot by Backstrom off the rush. OV, then, finally managed to break through (he'd had a number of good opportunities earlier in the game) with a beautiful stop and shot that went five-hole. That was followed, fifteen seconds later, by MarJo setting up Brouwer on the doorstep for a third goal.

That looked like it was pretty much going to do it (some people started leaving the arena), but Ottawa got a power play (on Semin, increasing his lead for team PIMs) and scored five seconds later on a defensive breakdown and a nice play by Michalek.

That made things pretty tense for a while, especially when the Sens got another power play (on Ward, with his second slashing penalty of the period) with three minutes left. But Carlson managed to clear it all the way down right at the end of that power play (when Anderson had been pulled), and Halpern, on the returning breakout, deflected an attempted pass in right to Carlson. This time Carlson had a second to line up his shot, and stuck it right in the center of the net to provide the final margin with forty-five seconds left.

So, things looked good for the guys in white tonight. More particularly, Brouwer had an excellent game with the Gordie Howe hat trick. Carlson had a goal and two assists for his second consecutive three-point night.

And OV played his best game of the season, I think; he was threatening all night long and had seven shots. He also looked really happy when he scored the goal; we haven't seen enough of him smiling this season. His move to beat the defenseman (Karlsson, who's a very good skater in his own right), was a thing of beauty. He was going full-tilt away from the goal, stopped on a dime, turned, faked the slap shot, and then put a wrister between the legs. The only negative on the night was a cheap shot with his stick to the groin of Neil. Wasn't happy to see that, but I'm more ambivalent if that's what it's going to take to bring OV back.

Semin had a decent game. He got a good opportunity a minute or so in, going in alone on the wing, but lifted the shot high and out of play. He generally looked good after that, although the penalty wasn't a good one.

Dima Orlov looked very good, although I was disappointed when he failed to take advantage of a good hip-check opportunity on a Senator cutting to the net. But he was solid, and even had the second assist on OV's goal.

Schultz actually looked pretty good while he was in, but, for some reason, he was only in for four minutes on the night. Not sure what was going on, there. Alzner and Carlson were mostly the ones who picked up the slack, as they ended up with over 27 minutes on the night. I hope that isn't going to be a regular occurence; they're great, but will get worn down with that kind of workload. Come back soon, Greenie.

Anyway, that's about it for tonight. Let's hope the strong play continues Friday against Toronto, because they're playing very well at the moment.


Panting at the end

I watched around half of the Caps game last night. It was a very uneven effort, with some great shifts and some terrible ones. OV never did score, but almost all of the great shifts I saw were by his line (well, one of his lines; the combos last night were about as predictable as rolling dice, especially in the early second).

The first of those great shifts was about five minutes into the game, when there was no score. But then, a minute and a half, or so, later, after Perreault got sent off for high sticking, The Panthers put one in the net off of Wideman's stick. That was not good, but it got worse thirteen seconds later when Santorelli came in down the right wing and put one over Neuvy's shoulder (Neuvy should have had it).

Things were really looking bad when, after Brouwer took a rather odd interference call (he dropped his stick when trying to pull it out of the grasp of a Panther, and it slid over to the puck carrier), the Panthers scored again on the power play.

Knuble evened it up a little bit forty seconds later with a slap shot from the right circle (huh? A slap shot from Knuble? yep) that beat Clemmenson.

Early in the second, Florida got another power play marker from Bergenheim. I thought about stopping the game then, but soldiered on (through a few good shifts for the Caps) for another nine minutes until Weiss got his second of the game. Down four, and not looking good any more, I gave up.

From looking at the box scores, it looks like my decision was about right. The Caps did come back to score three goals to lessen the margin, but they couldn't get an equalizer. I imagine the team's going to get quite the chewing out during practice this morning about blown defensive assignments. The fifth goal was particularly bad, as the entire team was following Flash as he came into the zone and skated past the net, with nobody marking Weiss, or blocking the pass over to Weiss. This was also the second goal in a row where Neuvy badly overplayed someone going behind the net (Flash passed from the goal line, before he got behind the net on this one), and wasn't nearly able to get back into position.

I'm really not sure what to take from this one. As I said, there were some good plays, but some really miserable ones as well. Neuvy did not have a good game. He did make some very nice saves, but he also gave up some pretty bad ones. Overall, though, this game wasn't as encouraging as the last two.

I guess we'll see what happens tomorrow night, as they'll see the Senators again, this time in Ottawa.


Senators flee capital

Tonight's Caps/Sens game was pretty entertaining. The Caps were outplayed in the first, but dominated in the second. So, of course, the Caps got the only goal of the first, while the Sens got the only tally in the second. The Caps also dominated for about the first seventeen minutes of the third, but both teams ended up putting one in the net.

Overtime continued to be very good for the Caps, though, as Laich cleanly won the draw back to Alzner. Karl pushed it up the Chimera breaking in. Karlsson losing an edge made it a two-on-one break with Laich, and Chimmer gave a nice feed across to Laich for the score. Total time? Twelve seconds.

So Laich had the game-winning goal in his 500th career game. Ignoring injuries, Laich is under contract for another 450 or so games for the Caps, so we don't have to worry whether he'll have the game winner for his 1000th. Still, bully for him, and we'll hope for a bunch more GWGs over that 450.

So, how did they look? Mostly quite good. They weren't getting outworked regularly. The breakout was mostly pretty good (although there were several breakdowns at the end of the game). They made Ottawa work to get their own breakout going. There was only one penalty against. There were 35 shots on goal; a nice improvement. Ottawa had the edge on giveaways, but it was quite close.

The power play still wasn't very good; the first two looked bad, while the third looked good. I don't remember the fourth. The third was actually pretty long, too, because they had a long 6-on-5 (about 50 seconds) while that penalty was delayed.

I can't remember too much of the penalty kill. The first shift looked pretty good, but I can't remember anything specific about the rest. Most importantly, they definitely didn't allow a goal.

So Hunter got his first win, the game was still low-scoring, and there were several more encouraging signs. We'll see a little bit more on Monday in Florida.

Lord of the Rings, extended

I finally ordered the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition blu-ray set recently, and it finally arrived (after getting lost by UPS once) today. I haven't watched it yet (and, given the length of the movies, I might not for a while), but I was impressed with how much is included. Each movie spans two blu-rays (I don't think I have any other movies that don't fit on one disc), and each one also includes three DVDs worth of extras. I was impresed with that. Hopefully the extended editions add enough to allay most of my problems with the movies (I'm buying these almost as much for the visuals as anything else).

My eyes have seen the Morning Glory...

I, somewhat randomly, picked up Morning Glory recently (it was a lot cheaper than it is now), and decided to watch it last night.

It's a (kind of) romantic comedy about an obsessively workaholic young TV producer (Rachel McAdams) working on a local, NJ morning show who, after losing her job unexpectedly, manages to talk her way into taking over as the executive producer of a national morning show. They hire her because the show is in the dumps, of course, but they give her a chance (Jeff Goldblum does an excellent job in the slightly-more-than-bit part as her new boss).

Finder herself needing a new anchor, she manages to finagle getting an older anchor (Harrison Ford) with a huge reputation (and, she soon finds out, an even bigger ego) to take the position.

Although it's nominally a romantic comedy, I think that's somewhat of a mischaracterization. The film is actually almost all about her relationship with Ford, and the "romance" part between her and Patrick Wilson is kind of bolted on. There's one or two good scenes between the two, but largely ancillary to the plot.

Ford's co-anchor is Diane Keaton, who does a very good job of playing a very unpleasant person. The ego clash between Keaton and Ford is fairly amusing, but also fairly ancillary.

The development of the show from bad to really bad to pretty good is the meat of the corpus, and there are some hilarious scenes in there.

There are also some very painful scenes (to watch) in there, as McAdams' character can't shut her mouth, which gets her into trouble quite a few times.

I must admit that I'm left wondering, for much of the movie, why anyone would ever want to date her. She just doesn't have anything going on in her life outside of work. So her ability to get things done is pretty impressive, but she wouldn't be someone you could talk to. Plus, she works miserable hours (both for length and what part of the day they cover). So, can she become someone that another person would want to be around? Does she want to?

I ended up mostly liking the movie. I think it could have been more focused, but it generally was funny. And McAdams and Ford put in very good performances. Keaton was also quite funny, and Wilson did a good enough job with his part. I'll watch it again sometime, I'm sure.


Admirable You

We wanted to take our daughter to see Despicable Me when it was in the theaters last year. I think that it's a good thing we didn't, but I wish we had seen the movie.

I finally watched it a couple of nights ago, and I've got to say that I was impressed. It was absolutely hilarious.

The minions were cute, but also kept me laughing constantly. I was dying when they were updating Gru's records for the orphanage as he was being interviewed. And the one being used as a glow-stick? Classic.

Having "The Bank of Evil (formerly Lehmann Brothers)" was also hysterical. Bringing a bit of nepotism into it was also a nice touch.

And Gru's interactions with the girls were very well done. Believable, and showed real progression. It wasn't like flipping a switch. As I said, very well done.

The music was also pretty good; I particularly liked the "Despicable Me" song that came on when Gru was introduced.

Oh, and the acting was excellent. I'm not a big fan of him, but Steve Carell was perfect as Gru, and Russell Brand was also very good as his sidekick. Actually, nobody was less than good in it.

Hmm... I need to look up the studio (it was published by Universal, but it seemed that most of the crew was French (or Canadian), so I'm thinking it was actually created by a smaller group acting under Universal's umbrella), and see if they've done anything before. Regardless, I'll need to be on the lookout for them.

Bruce All-Duck-y

Boudreau managed to snag a new job already; he started coaching the Anaheim Ducks today.

Not too sure what to make of it; the whole situation is kind of weird. Amazing that he managed to only be out of work about 67 hours. But I think it was a mistake for him to start there so soon; I think it would have significantly helped to make him a better coach if he had allowed some time for lessons from the Caps (good AND bad) to sink in.

Regardless, congratulations and good luck, Bruce. We wish you well 81 or so games a year. (Oh, and kick the snot out of Colorado for us, this year, too.)

Frustrating night

So, I wasn't able to watch much of tonight's Caps game at all. My recording didn't happen, because my DVR wasn't getting 576 (Comcast Sports Net HD) for some reason. I was able to watch part of it by turning on the SD version, but when I tried to record that for the third period, it tried to record the HD version for some reason (which it still wasn't getting. But, of course, I didn't find out that there was nothing for the second recording until after the game was over.

So, in all, I got to watch a bit less than half of the second period. How was that? Well, the power play, once again, wasn't. But they weren't getting penned in the D-zone. And they were dumping and hitting on the O-zone entry, which looked pretty good. They were totally kicking butt on face-offs (and not just victimizing Malkin, which would be expected. Crosby was destroyed on the dot. Crosby also managed to take 40% of Pittsburgh's draws, which seems like an awful lot).

But, looking at the box score, they definitely weren't shooting enough. Which likely means they weren't spending enough time in the O-zone. They also definitely had too many giveaways. And, for the second game in a row, they allowed a defenseman making his first NHL start to get a point.

So there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of positive about the game. But, given expectations for the game, only losing 2-1 isn't too bad. I hope they do better next game (in fact, I'll be very upset if they're held under 20 shots again), but I'm actually not upset about the result. And there was at least a small glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

I guess we'll see a bit more against Ottawa on Saturday. If the shots go up, and the giveaways go down, we'll know we're on the right course.