Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fedor Fedorov not Russian enough for some people

There's been barely enough interesting Fedor Fedorov news lately-- except, that is, for a recent interview posted by that in its introduction chides Fedor for not behaving Russian enough.

Complaining that Fedorov only gave brief and generic answers, "like an American athlete", the writer went on to say, "Both in his hairstyle and his manner of dress, as well as his accent, Fedor Fedorov more resembles an American than a Russian."*

Indeed, Fedorov spends most of the interview dodging any of the questions about his checkered past and his reputation as being difficult to work with, though he does say that (at the tender age 26) he's been reduced to fielding only two-way contract offers from NHL teams now, saying that in the past two years the NHL has become a league of well-paid star players and cheaply-paid prospects, with not much being left for the median veteran players in between.

Still no close-ups of Jamie Lundmark in a Dynamo jersey, though judging by the old jerseys the team was re-using at a recent scrimmage, I'm guessing that the '07-'08 models aren't in yet. Either that, or the team's been raiding Tapeleg's closet.

*Although some people would say that's a good thing


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Swiss Lit

Avoiding pink elephants, Darius Kasparaitis gets
hassled by pink balloons instead

With the opening of NHL training camps still a month away, the NY Rangers' Darius Kasparaitis and Artem Anisimov have been training with Swiss team Thurgau, according to the team's web site, as well as an item in Sport Express.

The Thurgau web site is a bit clumsy to navigate and doesn't seem to have individual links for their news stories, so I made record of the items using screen shots instead:

As you can see if you look closely enough, Thurgau was just routed by Avangard Omsk in an exhibition game, 9-2.

Also, if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this article (from a Lithuanian site, dated Aug. 9th), you'll find a two-minute video clip of an interview with Kasparaitis in his native Lithuanian. Not very useful, I suppose, but I still found it interesting to watch, as it shows Kasparaitis (in a "Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers" jersey and Rangers hockey pants) skating at what appears to be a hockey clinic in his home country.


Monday, August 13, 2007

On The Outs

Frankie O'Malley, The Safes (Photos: Brushback)

Sometimes a band isn't much more than the sum of their influences, and while The Safes tread dangerously close to that point, I'm willing to give them a pass on it for now. I'm thinking the titles they pick out for their CDs are pretty stupid, too, but I'm not sure that stupid CD titles are anything that anybody really cares about (lots of people still buy Bon Jovi records, right?).

From reading the press they get, you'd think The Safes are awash in British Invasion influences-- the band itself owns up to this to some degree-- but if there's a breadcrumb trail back to the likes of The Beatles and The Kinks, it probably owes itself more to the glossy production on their most recent album, "Well Well Well", than anything else. "Bad Blood" sounds like nothing if not T. Rex, sure, and the cleverly layered vocals on "Only In Your Mind" blow away anything the Posies ever tried; but like most of the songs on the record, I'm reminded more of stuff like Cobra Verde, or a bunch of other bands like the Figgs that seemingly only Mike Faloon likes.

The Switch: Patrick singing, Frankie on drums

Like the drumming duties, which the band covers during live shows by having Frankie and Patrick switch instruments mid-set, The Safes switch styles from album to album and even song to song as effortlessly as any other band since, well, maybe the Replacements. "Family Jewels", written pretty much entirely by Frankie, kicks off with one of the best snotty punk scorchers ever, "Not To Keep", before bouncing around like a modern-day "Hootenanny" or "Let It Be". "Boogie Woogie Rumble", the 2004 5-song EP released on both CD and red 10" vinyl and penned mostly by Michael, wouldn't sound at all out of place next to the Estrus or Crypt catalog, as far as I'm concerned (The Safes even contributed a credible version of "Annalisa" to the Devil Dogs tribute compilation
a few years back).

Trying to spot a "progression" in
the band's sound is probably
missing the point, anyway, since
the band claims they usually have
two or three albums' worth of
material written at any given time
and when it comes time to put
another record together, they just
pick whichever songs happen to
sound best alongside each other.
Patrick, who wrote and produced
"Well Well Well", was quoted
years ago in an interview
as saying, "I love the Beatles
as much as the Dead Kennedys
and I admire Motorhead as much
as I do the Bee Gees", and while
I can't give him any credit for
the first two, the last two
make The Safes more than fitting
for the upcoming Crooked
Hook/Names For Pebbles reunion
tour that I keep hearing about.

From "Family Jewels" (2003)

Not To Keep (listen)
Hook (listen)
Do You Apply (listen)

From "Boogie Woogie Rumble" (2004)

Mind Meltdown (listen)
Mental Wheelchair (listen)

From "Well Well Well" (2006)

Bad Blood (listen)
Phone Book Full Of Phonies (listen)
Only In Your Mind (listen)
Since Trust Went Bust (listen)

The back cover to "Boogie Woogie Rumble"

Click here to see a slideshow of some of my other Safes photos

Songs have reverted to listen-only files


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Khimik Adds Ekman

Nils Ekman

Russian Super League team Khimik Mytische announced today that they have signed Swedish forward Nils Ekman to a one-year deal. Ekman has already joined the team's training camp in Switzerland, skating with the team yesterday.

Ekman, twice a 20-goal scorer for the San Jose Sharks ('05-'06, '03-'04) who also scored 30 goals for the Hartford Wolf Pack in '02-'03, played in Pittsburgh last season, posting 15 points (6g, 9a) in 34 games.

UPDATE 8/14/07 11:15am - Now Sport Express is reporting that the LA Kings' Jamie Heward has signed with SKA-St. Petersburg. I'm tacking this onto a two-day-old post instead of making a whole new post about it because basically, I just don't feel like it, plus I'm kinda bored.

The Ten Highest-Paid Russian Super League Players

Alexei Morozov, Ak Bars

Sport Daily recently posted an unofficial list of the top player salaries in the Russian Super League, including some interesting details along the way.

Kazan's top forward line of Morozov, Zinovjev, and Zaripov grabs the first three spots on the list, of course, with their salaries having nearly doubled over what they earned the previous season. Note that all three players together will "unoficially" earn a combined $10.5 million in '07-'08, even though the Russian Super League has a salary cap said to be in the neighborhood of $11 million per team. Obviously players in Russia are still being paid under the table some, and the Sports Daily article even makes mention of the Russian oil giant, Tatneft, pitching in with "additional financing" to support all three players' contracts.

For some reason, Oleg Tverdovsky and Stanislav Chistov are left off the list, even though both players recently signed with Salavat Yulayev Ufa for a reported $1.7 million each (the same dollar figure as teammates Perezhogin and Koltsov).

The Sport Daily article also notes that the first million dollar player in the Russian Super League was Maxim Sushinsky, back when he played for Avangard Omsk, and the contract that Evgeni Malkin left on the table when he bolted Magnitogorsk for Pittsburgh was worth $2.5 million.

The list:

Alexei Morozov, Ak Bars $4.0 million
Sergei Zinovjev, Ak Bars $3.5 million
Danis Zaripov, Ak Bars $3.0 million
Alexei Yashin, Lokomotiv $2.7 million
Alexander Perezhogin, Salavat Yulayev $1.7 million
Kiril Koltsov, Salavat Yulayev $1.7 million
Nikolai Kulemin, Metallurg Mg $1.3 million
Alexei Kalyuzhny, Avangard $1.2 million
Maxim Sushinsky, SKA-St. Petersburg $1.1 million
Vadim Yepanchintsev, CSKA-Moscow $1.0 million


Friday, August 10, 2007

Enter The Talisman

From a long, long line of bearded nipple-headed freaks

The Russian Super League team Dynamo Moscow is holding a vote among its fans to select the next team talisman (a sort of mascot-type thingy, apparently), with the above heroic-looking gladiator dude being one of the candidates. Here are the other scintillating choices:



To participate in the voting, which is taking place from now until August 20th, go to the Dynamo home page and scroll down to this ballot, which is in the left-hand sidebar:

Bonk, Turd, or Borat?

Myself, I'm voting for the wolf that looks like Brett Hull. That fat-assed tiger needs to get himself into shape before stepping into the ring against this type of tough competition.

The biggest Dynamo news of the day-- broken here first hours ago, of course-- is that Jamie Lundmark's jersey number for Dynamo is going to be 71. The number is said to have absolutely no significance, much like Jamie's hockey career.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Alexei Lookin' Sexy

Alexei Cherepanov

With the Russian Super League pre-season in full swing (opening date for the regular season is September 4th), I figured I'd post a few photos from some of the training camp activities so far.

That's not Alexei Cherepanov at the senior prom in the above photo, by the way; the photo was taken at Avangard Omsk's post-season awards banquet from a few weeks ago, where the Avangard players received their third-place medals for the 2006-07 season.

Alexei Cherepanov signing autographs

Avangard's RSL bronze medals

Maxim Sokolov arrives at Avangard's first practice in a driving rainstorm

Pavel Rosa: You can feel the love in this room

Alexei Cherepanov trying to bulk up, to no avail

If you want to turn into a pretzel, Cherepanov will spot you

The 'Return of The Century' sits on his butt at practice

Love those Lokomotiv practice jerseys...

'Coach says we all gotta carry Yashin's jock for him'

Alexei Yashin hits the ice

No photos of Jamie Lundmark in a Dynamo uniform yet, but believe me, as soon as I find one, I'm posting it.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Tverdovsky Digs Ufa

Oleg Tverdovsky. Maybe he's building a house?

Salavat Yulayev Ufa team president Nikolai Kurapov told Sport Express earlier today that defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky has signed a contract with the team and will probably begin playing for Salavat Yulayev at an upcoming pre-season tournament in Togliatti. Kurapov declined to reveal any details of the deal, but hinted that it was for one season.

In two earlier interviews with Tverdovsky over the weekend-- one just as Tverdovsky was arriving at the airport in Russia, carrying all of his hockey equipment with him-- Tverdovsky told Sport Express that he hoped he and the Los Angeles Kings could terminate his contract "by mutual agreement."

Motioning to his equipment bags, Tverdovsky said, "As you can see, I have come here to play and to negotiate a contract." Tverdovsky then openly questioned the time he spent with the Kings organization, saying that he could find no common ground with the team and that he was better off playing in Russia.

UPDATE 8/7/07 - In an interview with Russian radio station Маяк, Sergei Isakov (Tverdovsky's agent) said Tverdovsky signed deal for "a minumum of three years." Tverdovsky himself, in another interview with Sport Express, says the term is for five years.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Top Five Songs, All-Time

D-Lee of Red and Black Hockey has tagged me into putting up a "Five Favorite Songs" post. As Dave already points out in his own post (as well as listing a couple of gems, "God Only Knows" and "I Am The Cosmos"), taking every great song I've ever liked and whittling them down to just the five best is a near-impossible task. So, I'll try to do this with at least some sort of criteria: nothing too obvious, like AC/DC or Cheap Trick or anything like that, and no bands that had only one good song to begin with (which leaves out Busted Statues).

You can also click on the links to play the songs...

The Replacements, "Customer"
When I first started buying records, up through '82-'83, I had a lot of metal bands in my collection-- bands that sang about fighting demons and warlocks and banging chicks 'til the break of dawn and crap like that... shit that nobody does when they're 17. Then I heard The Replacements for the first time, and their songs were about hangin' around downtown, not having a car, or walking into the same store over and over because you had a crush on the girl that worked there-- you know, stuff that was happening to me everyday. It all changed for the better after that.

Big Star, "I Got Kinda Lost"
For some reason, I've never minded recordings that sounded crappy, as long as they still kicked. This is a demo track that has a fuck-up at the beginning, still has the studio separation (with the vocals on one side and the rest of the band on the other) that makes it almost unlistenable except through headphones, and at the end you can hear the engineer resignedly say, "It'll do." Still, instead of all of the beautiful recordings that Big Star has released, I think this grimed-up one's my favorite.

Scratch Acid, "She Said"
I interviewed David Yow when "Beserker" came out in 1987, and when I handed him a copy of my fanzine he just put it aside, saying that he didn't know how to read. I don't know if he was pulling my leg or not, but in any case, Scratch Acid is one of the top three bands that I saw multiple times back in the '80s (Government Issue and Breaking Circus are the other two), and this song wails.

The Modern Lovers, "She Cracked"
Not only is this a direct ancestor to Spoon, but I like how Jonathan Richman sings like he's mental sometimes: "I know these very nice girls from where I come... from, but theyyyyyyy get toughtotalk TO".

Weirdos, "We Got The Neutron Bomb"
The three best American punk singles of all time are this one b/w "Solitary Confinement", Gang Green's "Alcohol"/"Skate To Hell", and Last Rights' "Chunks"/"So Ends Our Night". It amazes me how thick and heavy the Weirdos sound on this one, compared to all of their other counterparts (Fear, DOA, etc) who were turning the guitars down in the studio and putting out flimsy records that sounded like crap.

Tagging: Greg from The Post-Pessimist Association, and Ingmar Bergman Shoots and Scores.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Gettin' It Up With Physics

M.O.T.O. (Paul Caporino, r)

Besides the fact that Paul Caporino (M.O.T.O.) has been making brilliant little power-pop home recordings for more than a couple of decades now, besides the fact that I almost pressed a M.O.T.O. record once (the title of which I'm keeping to myself, since I plan to re-use it again someday), besides the fact that there just aren't enough lyrical references to the Steve Miller Band's lame '80s hit "Abracadabra" in today's music anymore-- it's practically a shame that M.O.T.O. isn't a household word acronym right now.

For one thing, whenever I play Paul's stuff for someone for the first time, they're usually like, "Holy crap, what the fuck is this?!? This is awesome!!" For another thing, M.O.T.O.'s probably the only band that I can say I first heard about through Bill Callahan of Smog (back when he was doing a fanzine called "Willpower"), and lent one of their tapes to Damian Pratt once. If that's not a ticket to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then someone's counting the ballots wrong, which probably explains why shit like The Police and The Clash are already in there.

If you've never heard M.O.T.O. (aka Masters of the Obvious) before, think of a punked-out Cheap Trick, or try imagining what Spector-era Ramones could've sounded like if the production hadn't made the songs so underpowered. Or, you could kinda just download some of the songs I've posted here, which are from 2005's "Raw Power" CD.

Click to enlarge
The back cover to "Raw Power"

I'm going to skip over the first two songs, which aren't bad but aren't remarkable (at least by M.O.T.O. standards), and go straight to the Oi!-metal brilliance of "Metal Man". If the double kick drum solo at the end doesn't slay you, then it's not my fault your record collection sucks.

2-4-6-8 Rock 'n' Roll
Gonna Get Drunk Tonight
Metal Man (listen)
Getting It Up For Physics (listen)
Piano Jazz Radio
Primeval (listen)
All-Night Vivarin Jag
Deliver Deliver Deliver (listen)
I Can't Wait'll It's Over (listen)
Flipping You Off With Every Finger Of My Hand (listen)
Meet Me By The Flagpole
Let's Nail It To The Moon
Spent The Night On Me (listen)
Girl Girl Inhale

Home taping is killing the music industry

As a bonus, here's a couple of smash hits, both of which are also on the rockin' M.O.T.O. web site:

It Tastes Just Like A Milkshake (from "Jacuzzi For The Dead") (listen)
The Chicks Can Tell (from "Kill M.O.T.O.") (listen)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Red Wings' Markov negotiating with Salavat Yulayev

Danny Markov

Having reportedly spurned a $2.5 million offer from the Detroit Red Wings, free agent defenseman Danny Markov is said to be weighing a hefty contract offer from Salavat Yulayev of the Russian Super League, according to the Russian site Sports Daily.

Salavat Yulayev's offer to Markov is said to be the same contract the team gave to Alexander Perezhogin and Kiril Koltsov-- $1.7 million, which as pre-tax dollars would equate to more than the $3 million Markov is said to be seeking from the Red Wings.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Stanislav Chistov Russian-Bound?

Stanislav Chistov

Earlier today, Sport Express posted an item reporting that Boston Bruins forward Stanislav Chistov has all but signed with Salavat Yulayev Ufa.

The report says that, pending Chistov passing his physical, it is possible that the Russian Super League team will have Chistov signed as early as Thursday.

The Sport Express story notes that Salavat Yulayev managment has declined so far to comment on the potential signing, but quotes Chistov (picked 5th overall by Anaheim in 2001) as saying that he has been encouraged to sign with the team by Salavat Yulayev defenseman Kiril Koltsov, a friend of Chistov's and a former teammate with Avangard Omsk.

Down Here With The Rest of Us

Social Distortion back in the old days

Saturday night was spent hanging out in Poughkeepsie, New York, a town that time forgot, and so did everyone else, apparently. The only reason I was there was to see Social Distortion at a club called The Chance with G12, who's a big Social D fan from way back (plus they were his tickets).

Poughkeepsie was weird, in that we were right on downtown Main Street at 6:30 on a Saturday (just a left and a right away from Malcolm X Park-- bonus points!), and there was no traffic to speak of and nothing was open. G12 and I had to walk almost 3 blocks just to find a deli open to get something to eat, and the owner told us that he usually doesn't even bother staying past 3:00 in the afternoon unless there's something going on downtown (like a cheese rolling, or a witch burning ceremony, or a sale on horse shoes, or whatever).

The Chance used to be called
Frivolous Sal's Last Chance Saloon,
but that was too many words to make
a decent-looking sign, I guess, so
the name got whittled down to The
Chance somewhere along the way
(check out the fancy sign now).
The entrance to the club is tucked
inside an alleyway between two
brick buildings, in that typical
tattered and run-down fashion that
almost always says, "Live music played here" (that, or "Hey, good place to leave that old mattress"). The joykilling fascists, man, that made up club security were taking away any cameras, otherwise I could've had a bunch of photos of the bands and the inside of the 95-year-old theater; because of that, none of the photos here are mine, by the way.

The band that opened up the show, The Heart Attacks, were awful; in fact, it's been so long since I've seen an opening band this shitty that I forgot all about the Knockout Drops. I mean, how did I know The Heart Attacks were going to do a Dead Boys cover, and it was going to be "Sonic Reducer"? (Doesn't anyone know any other Dead Boys songs?)

These guys really suck

Even funnier is when bands like this try to look like retro punk rockers, and they end up looking like a cross between HR Pufnstuff and Poison's "biker" phase instead.

The second band on the bill, The Hangmen, maybe weren't as awful, though they were no Live Skull, either. The only reason for anyone to come out on stage in a trucker hat and a cowboy shirt, singing a song called "Loners, Junkies, and Liquor Stores", is to make people laugh, and even if it didn't look it, I was laughing on the inside.

Mike Ness, Social Distortion

As for Social Distortion, they were way better than I expected they were gonna be, and I don't usually go for all-out rockstar bombast in a club setting unless Damien Pratt's involved (Rye Coalition excepted). It was after I discovered Flipside zine that I first started going to punk rock shows back in the '80s, so it was kinda cool to have a part of that early L.A. scene right in front of me, all of these years later. It's interesting to contrast the first band on the bill, with their Stiv Bators wanna-be thrift store look being the most punk thing about them, and Mike Ness, who has actual punk roots (distant as they might be) but plays dressed-down along with the rest of his band while decorating the stage like an Applebee's.

From the first and only Social Distortion record that I ever bought, 22 years ago:
Social Distortion, "1945"
Social Distortion, "Under My Thumb"