Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Day 12 - Hockey Day in Washington

**This post is photo heavy (I may actually hit the limit on this post) so if it's taking a minute to load, that's why. Hopefully the photos are worth a few moments of patience. Apologies if the formatting blows. I tried.**

Day 12. Room 302. The Hilton. Washington, DC. Recovering.

I'm not even sure I know where to begin. This whole trip has been a little surreal, in the most
amazing ways possible. Today was the epitome of it all (which wasn't entirely unexpected, but the degree to which it epitomized surreality was unparalleled).

* * * * * * *

The day began early, in a Starbucks (because Lauren and I are both uncoordinated enough not to be able to simultaneously walk and drink Passion tea).

Then we ambled on down to the Holocaust Museum to meet up with Jamie and Ali. There had been a bit of minor confusion about where we were meeting but in the end, it was pretty easy to spot each other. (Hmmm, I wonder who that girl in the Orpik jersey is...)

I'm not going to go into much detail about the Holocaust Museum except to say that I'm glad I went, and I'm glad I went with them. It's a really powerful museum (sometimes in some pretty awful ways) but it was worth spending the two or three hours inside on a really nice Sunday afternoon.

I stopped to scrawl down the following, which is on a wall just as you enter:
The things I saw beggar description... the visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were overpowering... I made the visit deliberately in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to change these allegations merely to 'propaganda'.

- Dwight Eisenhower April 15, 1945.
One of the strangest things (although not entirely unexpected) was that I learned almost nothing. I've been obsessed with the Holocaust from a young age and genocide is something I find fascinating, simply in terms of how it happens both sociologically, psychologically and logistically. It's one of the most baffling things in the universe to me. Explain gravity? Whatever... Explain genocide? Now that is a something I wish could be done.

What I didn't expect to see was Schiedam on the list of villages, towns and cities whose entire Jewish populations were eliminated. Sorry for the cross-blog reference, but it really caught me off-guard. Petit Schiedam is a fictional town in Quebec that I created for my story, but it's 'Petit' Schiedam for a reason: Schiedam is a real place. It's in the Netherlands, which were occupied during the Second World War. I only happened to see it as I was looking for my Grandmother's hometown in Holland (where she lived until 1948).

It just reminded me that I've written this whole story, and that, while it is 100% fiction, I can't help but write my characters into the real world. None of them are real, but I am a stickler for the plausible and I never write anything without reason. You should google Schiedam if you're bored sometime. (The real Schiedam has a Basilica too.)

I'm not sure why I felt compelled to explain that. I suppose seeing Schiedam engraved in a glass wall at eye level reminded me that there's a reason I write, and it's not just because I love to write and I happen to have a half-decent way with words: I feel like we can learn so much about the world from each other, even from stories. How many real-life stories are never told? I can only imagine that there are thousands of lives that ought to be documented and never are. In some ways, the lives I create are just as real as those people if my characters are able to affect you the way those real people might have.

It emboldened my resolve just a little bit more to get myself to Berlin this fall so I can be in that city for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (the subject of another book I'm just starting to work on).

The Holocaust Museum was heavy. We didn't really talk about it after leaving, but I know we were all glad to have gone. Instead of dwelling on the depressing past, we enjoyed the sunshine and each other's company and laughed about the terrible service where we stopped for lunch. And then we headed across the street to the Verizon Center...

THE GAME: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
THE TEAMS: Pens (34-26-06) on a 5-game winning streak,
Caps (40-21-05) on a 3-game losing streak.

THE RIVALRIES: Ovie vs. Geno, Crosby vs. Semin.

THE ICE: Verizon Center, Washington, DC.


For "Caps Country" there sure were a lot of Pens fans...

Mad Max. Love him.

Hal Gill action shot.

Geno. Being...well, Geno.

I didn't plan to take so many photos of Kris Letang. It's just that he hangs out by the net during warm-ups.

Kris Letang: goalie in a past life.

No wonder he plays D even though he can score like nobody's business...

Okay... I admit it: I may have a teensy, tiny (massive) crush on Kris Letang. Excuse me, but how can you NOT??? He's adorable as all sin!

I really didn't plan to take photos of him though. He was just there busy being so bloody photogenic and cute. And Sykora was SCRATCHED!!! (Okay he was injured... whatever... at the time I didn't know that and I was SO pissed!)

Flower (!)

Captain Fabulous

Hal Gill looking small which is, in and of itself, a reason to post this photograph.

Sykora was the lone scratch: Mer starts plotting...
(ultimately in all futility... but still plotting)

Free Candy.

*Mer bows to the guys who write Pensblog*


This guy was totally awesome.

Backstrom's creepy eyes. Are they trying to scare the childrens??

Theodore's not-quite-so-creepy eyes. Actually kind of nice eyes... but still.

duh Duh DUH!!! (photo credit: Ali)

I wanted a close game.

I got a close game. (In the first period this was a good thing... later on, I would amend this. Twice.)

Crosby scored less that five minutes in. It looks like Shero has actually found him some decent linemates this time around. Love Bill Guerin. LOVE Chris Kunitz.

Still a little choked that we lost Whitters to get him, but

Go Kunitz Go!!!!

Then Semin scored. Ugh. Oh well. That's what I love about the first period: the 'oh-there's-still-forty-minutes-left-to-go' mentality. And what a forty minutes they would turn out to be....


All I remember about the first intermission was that we found some guys in Capitals jersey and asked them to explain why everyone 'whoop, whoop, whoop'ed whenever Gonchar touched the puck. We'd already gotten about five different answers and it was a bit baffling because they all seemed a bit ridiculous.

Story #1 - The last Penguin to wear #55 was named Larry Somethingorother -Larry like the Stooges, Larry, Curly and Mo, they would say- and the whooping was something in reference to that. Having never actually watched (ie. paid attention) to a Three Stooges film, I just nodded and went "WHHAAAA?" in my head.

Story #2 - It's because the Sarge used to be a Capital. Okay, so what about other guy who may have once been Caps? Nope, just him. Yeah, like that makes sense... Maybe if he'd been some huge franchise guy or something... like Jagr was in the Burgh, that would make sense.

Right, so after the game, I went to Empty Netters to relive the madness and read this:
10:31: Gonchar carries the puck and greeted with "whup, whup, whup" chants they give all former Capitals players here.
Amen. Thanks for clearing that up Seth. You're a peach!

Except... he later added this:

-From EN commenter CC82:

"Not to be labeled as a troll or anything, but I should clarify that the "whoop whoop" we give Gonchar is reserved for him only. A few people who don't understand do it for other former Caps, but most of us know what it's for.

It started with Larry Murphy, actually, who got that treatment every time he came back to DC with another team and grew out of his propensity to turn the puck over at the blue line. As in "whoops, there goes the puck by you again". It's carried over to Gonch for obvious reasons ;)"

Okay, not knowing another teams' fans' quirks is one thing, not knowing your team's quirks and traditions? Lame. They should do a tutorial or something for fans who have been accumulated since Ovie made Washington the new... well, not sure they're the new anything... but since they became a team worth paying attention to outside the Southeast Division.

Other intermission antics: took one look at the bathroom line and died laughing. Then dragged Ali & Lauren down to the 300 level to see if there was a stupidly easy to go stalk Petr Sykora in the press box. It wasn't. I'm not big on getting arrested in foreign countries so I figured I'd just scope the place out a little, but Verizon Center's about as occupant friendly as Alcatraz.

This is when I REALLY regretted not chatting up Seth a little more... I mean, he was probably in the press box (or somewhere else suitably press-pass-entry-only) where the chances of bumping into scratched players is much higher than in the stands...

If it had been anyone else, I probably wouldn't have cared too much, but I have a SYKORA JERSEY, and if you know the story behind it you know why I'd love to meet him... and if you don't know the story, just click to enlarge the photo: it's pretty self-explanatory.

I've considered getting my letter silk-screened onto a patch
I could sew onto the sleeve or something. I have yet to do so,

but wait until I get sick for a few days and I'll probably do it...

If I could meet one NHL player, it would be Petr Sykora (yeah, I'm dead serious... and y'all know how much I LOVE Dany Heatley). I'd love to get him to sign my jersey but that's actually secondary; mostly I want to meet Sykora so I can tell him why I have his jersey.

I would also love to explain to him why the only time I've randomly run into an NHL player in the street (Nicklas Lidstrom) I was too stunned to speak because all I could think was, "I have a Sykora jersey in my bag right now because you couldn't do your job!"

It's just so idiotically, interconnectedly funny: the night I saw Lidstrom -he literally walked by right beside me- I was on my way to my brother's place so he could take the aforeposted photograph so I could send that jpeg file to 1wingangel when she was making a card for the Pens last fall.

I love this story partly because it has absolutely no bearing on anything really important in the world and partly because I honestly believe that Sykora would get kicks out of knowing the story. Even if he forgot five minutes later (which I have a strange feeling he wouldn't) I'd like to tell him. I think he'd find it hilarious. Not just because it's kind of funny, which it is, but because he's the type of guy who calls 3OT game winners in the fourth (!!!!) intermission of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

And the type of player who calls that game winning goal and then scores it? That type of player (of person, really) would almost certainly appreciate the fact that someone inhabits the same silly wavelength he does, the wavelength which compels me to make a ridiculous deals with the universe, one of which resulted in my owning his jersey.

I'll have to do a better job of stalking him in the future...


LOVE BILL GUERIN. He assist the Pens' second goal (Go Gonchar!) and then scores the Pens' third. I wish I could remember more, but honestly I was too caught up in the game to really make mental notes.

That's a lot of 3s... (photo credit:Ali)

I thought this was HILARIOUS. I've been to smaller arenas where this is a bigger concern to a proportionally lager number of fans, and they don't have things like 'Puck Warnings' - for a very funny split second, I thought it was going to be something about the Ice Girls.


The second period ends and the Pens have a 3-1 lead. Booyeah! The six year old next to me is less than thrilled. I joke that screw it, I don't care about a close game, the Pens can win in a 7-1 blow-out if they like. ...I should have kept my mouth shut... but then I got to thinking and I realized something: I don't think I've been to a single hockey game where the team I was cheering for has LOST. Ever.

Not when I am in the arena. I'm definitely cursed as a Sens because they lose about 90% of the games I watch (and that's not just this season... this goes back to the late 90s).

When I've attended games though, I don't recall my team ever losing. I may be wrong about this. Maybe it was such a scaring experience that my memory is blocking it out... but thinking back and I honestly can't remember a single game. This goes across the board too, not just one team.

1. The Oshawa Generals. 5-3 win on October 5th over ??? - If I can't remember off the top of my head, clearly the competition wasn't that good. Anyways, I was there to see Tavares. His team won.

2. The Syracuse Crunch. 4-2 win on March 6th over the WBS Baby Penguins. A surprise win that should never have happened. They (the Crunch) have scored one goal in the two games since.

3. Every Vancouver Giants game I've ever been too. Usually (strangely enough) against the Kamloops Blazers or the Cillkiwack Bruins, who both kind of suck (well, they do). Even in playoffs. Granted Vancouver has the best record in the WHL right not. So it's not exactly difficult to imagine why I have yet to see them lose.

4. The Pittsburgh Penguins. *Heavenly Choir Sings in JOY* 4-3 win in a shoot-out over the Washington Capitals. I wanted a close game (a GOOD game) and I got one. One so scary that I'm convinced my entire body is exhausted sinply from being so stressed in the last few seconds of the third when both teams converged on Fleury's net.

There have been a few other minor league and university games and a BCHL game wherein my friends/school/friend's billets' team won. It's a bit freaky. I'm going to test this theory a little more and then maybe get season tickets to the Giants if I am, in fact, a good luck charm... (how sweet would that be anyways?)


bites her tongue in a fairly painful way as the Caps score twice to tie the game back up in the first 90 seconds of the third period. So much for a blow out win...

Must admit though, Brooks Laich's break-away goal that tied up the game was absolutely gorgeous. I mean, it really really was...

In any case, it woke both teams up a little and made the third period hella-exciting. Even if no one scored for the rest of the period. MAF made some incredible saves though, and I nearly had a heart attack at one point...

Third period ends as such:

(photo credit: Ali)

I feel like I'm getting my money's worth?
Not worth the dents my finger nails carved in my palms.

Then MAF makes a few more unreal saves in the final seconds of OT.
No one scores.


Love a shoot-out as much as the next fan, but not when the Pens best shoot-out scorer is a fecking scratch...

It was a bit nerve wracking. But I just kept crossing my fingers and hollering for Fleury to keep it together and he did.

Watching Sid get the game winner was almost as wicked as watching Flower deny Ovechkin a moment later.

The 3 Stars!

Gotta hand it to Laich. He deserved it. (Also, damn he's cute!) But Sid and Guerin deserved first and second star. It reinforced for me (and most Pens fans) why Crosby's a big deal. I mean, rag on him all you like but he's clutch. He comes through when he's needed (and when he can't there's Max Talbot and Petr Sykora)!

YAY! Pens Win!!!

I spent about the next 6 hours recovering from this whole hoopla. In the best way, ie. eating amazingly delicious frozen yogurt with Lauren, Ali, Traci, Jamie and her boyfriend Jeff, and then lazing around a hotel pool with Lauren before hitting up the hotel bar and chatting until last call (it was a pretty early last call, frankly). Such a wicked day.

(Love the old Lemieux All-Star jersey...)


mer said...

Re: copy edits.

I can't make them. I know there are a whole bunch of spelling errors and that some of the formatting sucks, but for some reason, including the NHL clips has made it impossible for me to edit the post.

Apologies. (And damn you NHL.com!)

Jessclub7 said...

One of my most vivid childhood memories is my parents letting me stay up late to watch the Berlin Wall come down on TV. I was 6 so I had no real idea of what was happening. And I don't recall David Hasselhof being on the BBC.

My grandfather was part of a British army unit which was the first in to a concentration camp - he's never told us anything about it and we only found this out from another person who was in the same unit a few years ago.

I really believe that everyone, no matter how mundane they claim their life is, has something amazing or interesting or unique within their life story.

And, to end on a totally shallow and possibly inappropriate note, Jose Theodore may have nice eyes, but you know Paris Hilton probably gave him eye herpes or something. Just sayin' ...

mer said...

@ jess - you are the FIRST person my age I have EVER met who also remembers the wall coming down.

I had no clue what it meant, but I knew it was big. It gives me shivers just thinking about it.

(Also, just googled Jose & Paris. How did I miss that one??? Oh right, I blinked.)

Jessclub7 said...

I remember seeing all the footage of bulldozers slamming into the wall, people chipping away at it with hammers (and thinking that my dad had hammers just like that in the garage), strangers shaking hands and hugging once they'd climbed over.

I am something of a Germany nerd in that I used to be fluent in German and I think Germany has a pretty interesting history - good and bad.

There is a movie called 'Das Versprechen' which is about the Berlin Wall in the 60s which is well worth a look.

How did I know about Jose and Paris? I have very highbrow interests. Cough.

JK said...

I am very glad I went to the Holocaust Museum, but also very glad that it was something I could take at my own pace. As you said, there was nothing really new about the information presented, but it was something I definitely needed to process without a lot of discussion and I'm glad I had the opportunity to wander off by myself in a corner when I needed to.

*grits teeth* Yes, it was a good game. As much as it pains me to admit, I'm glad it was that close when you came all the way to see it. Perhaps y'all will be convinced to come back to visit for another game next year? I could maybe be convinced to leave my Semin shirt at home, but I would have to replace it with my "creepy eyes" Backstrom shirt.

Also, it makes no sense at all from my crazy Caps perspective, but I have a not so tiny crush on Mr. Letang.

Re: Jose -- I just want him to be good, but he's so inconsistent (at the beginning of the season) and his Paris Hilton/Propecia days are pretty icky. His daughter is really cute though -- I was at practice one day and her mom brought her in and she kept yelling "Daddy! Daddy!" at him from the stands.

Lauren said...

First: Jamie, that story about Jose Theodore's daughter is so cute! :) And I can't speak for the rest of them, but I am definitely thinking that a Pens-Caps game in DC should become an annual event for me :)

Second: I have a very un-secret crush on Kristopher Letang. He is just too damn cute. And it should be noted that he is a lefty - bonus points for that (as if he really needs bonus points).

Third: Every time they showed those creepy eyes, all I could think of was the Footloose song "Somebody's Eyes".

Fourth: I found the "Puck Warning" thing to be a bit odd too - at the Igloo, they make an announcement about being alert, but they don't show anything on the jumbotron or anything, and they certainly don't mention it as often as they showed that warning.

Fifth: Apparently I feel the need to write everything in the form of numbered lists today.