The Daily Bongo

January 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 -- Evening

Pens Win
I missed the Pens game because I was teaching class and then came home sick. Well, I didn't miss all of it. I did see the end of the last period. So I saw Joe Vitale and Evgeni Malkin score to tie the game. There was no score in overtime, so it went to a shootout. Marc-Andre Fleury is stellar in the shootout, and he held the Toronto Maple Leafs to no goal. And Evgeni Malkin got the winning shootout goal for the Pens. Great ending to the game.

Sunday, January 29, 2012 -- Evening

Crosby's Injuries
The news this NHL All-Star weekend centered around Sidney Crosby. This weekend, the Pens announced that after seeing a specialist in LA that Crosby indeed did have a concussion. In addition, he had fractures to two vertebrae, which had healed. Now Crosby is seeing a third party specialist, and there are rumors that Crosby is unhappy with the diagnosis that he has been getting from the Pens' doctors. However, I'm not sure that he is blaming the Pens. I could understand that he would blame them if they were pushing for him to return, which they aren't, or diminishing his claims, which they aren't. But there is obviously some stress there. Who knows where this will lead.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 -- Evening

Upcoming All-Star Break
The Pens were in Saint Louis to play the Blues for their last game before the All-Star break. The Pens' James Neal and Steve Sullivan got goals for the Pens in the second period. The Blues tied things up with Patrik Berglund scoring a goal in the second period, and then scoring on a penalty shot in third period. There was a weird call against Matt Cooke in the last minute of regulation. Cooke got a boarding penalty, but it didn't look as if Cooke hit Barret Jackman. In fact, Cooke was beside Jackman, but Jackman quickly hit the glass, fell into a ball, and covered his face. It really looked like Jackman threw himself into the glass and did an acting job to draw the penalty. If Cooke did the deed, I would call him on it, but it really looked innocent to me. Regulation ended in a tie, and the game went into overtime. Marc-Andre Fleury made several stellar saves in OT. No score in OT meant a shootout. Kris Letang did not score, but Evgeni Malkin did. Unfortunately, the Blues got a goal by TJ Oshie. James Neal missed, but then Chris Kunitz scored to give the Pens a 3-2 win.

Sunday, January 22, 2012 -- Evening

Pens/Caps Rivalry
The Pens had an early afternoon game against the Washington Capitals. This matchup used to be a hot rivalry, but with Sidney Crosby out, and Alexander Ovechkin not producing, things have cooled down immensely. Kris Letang showed why he is a valuable member of the team when he scored a goal. A minute later on a face-off by Michal Neuvirth, Evgeni Malkin passed the puck back to James Neal, who shot a rocket at the net to get another goal. Unfortunately, Brooks Laich, Alexander Semin, and Ovechking got goals. James Neal managed to tie things up with his second goal of the game. Regulation ended in a tie. 1:31 into overtime, Neal shot the puck at the net, and Malkin got the rebound behind Neuvirth to win the game for the Pens. Final score: Pens 4 - Caps 3.

Friday, January 20, 2012 -- Evening

Pens and the Canadiens
The Pens played back-to-back with a game this evening against the Montreal Canadiens. Because Kris Letang got a concussion from a hit by Max Pacioretty in the last game between the teams, there was a sense of retribution in this game. Chris Kunitz got in a fight with Pacioretty, and in the power play that followed, Letang got a goal. Unfortunately, all that did was tie the game since the Canadiens had already scored. Then the Canadiens scored again immediately after to get the lead back. The Habs were on fire this evening. They got two more goals in the second period, including one from Pacioretty. Maybe Marc-Andre Fleury wasn't as sharp as he could have been after playing two nights in a row. Dustin Jeffreys got two goals in a row, then with less than three minutes left in the game, Evgeni Malkin tied the game. Regulation ended in a tie! No score in overtime, so we had a shootout! Letang went first and, goalie, Peter Budaj, stopped him. Fleury stopped David Desharnais. Malkin got the puck past Budaj. Fleury was solid against Andrei Kostitsyn. James Neal missed on his chance. It was down to Fleury stopping Scott Gomez, and Fleury did the job. Pens win with a final score of 5-4.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 -- Evening

Pens on a Winning Streak
The Pens traveled to New York to play the hot Rangers. The Rangers are leading the league, and some, like the owner, are claiming that they will win the Stanley Cup. Well, the Pens said something else this evening. With Kris Letang spending 24 minutes on the ice and scoring a point on his first game back after being off for two months with concussion, the Pens went on to a 4-1 win. Chris Kunitz, Richard Park, and Evgeni Malkin all got goals, with Malkin getting two. Malkin now leads the NHL in scoring. Good game. Tomorrow, it's back in Pittsburgh to play the Montreal Canadiens.

Cover of Big Four by Agatha Christie

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 -- Evening

Big Four
I'm a huge fan of Agatha Christie, and I've read almost all of her books more than once. I love Miss Marple and Tommy and Tuppence. Hercule Poirot is okay, but he can be annoying. I say that I've read almost all of her books because I don't remember reading The Big Four. This is a book copyrighted from 1927, but it's actually a collection of 12 short stories that were published in The Sketch magazine. Hercule Poirot learns of a criminal organization called the Big Four. The four are a Chinese man, a French scientist, an American millionaire, and a mysterious British man. Hercule Poirot figures out who the first three members of the Big Four are and spends most of the book trying to figure out who is the mysterious fourth member. Of course, the Big Four do everything they can to remove Poirot from their trail.

So what did I think of the book? It was interesting. Agatha Christie was good at making a connection between a collection of short stories. She did it with The Thirteen Problems, The Labors of Hercules, and Partners in Crime. The individual mysterious were intriguing and quite puzzling. Captain Hastings is back to help Poirot with the mystery. The book is a very quick, short read, although it wasn't very easy to find. My library only had a few copies; so if you can find it, give it a try.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 -- Afternoon

Pens Win in a Shootout
I had a class last night, so I didn't get to see the Pens and Carolina Hurricanes. Instead, I had to see the late night recap. The Hurricanes scored quickly, and it wasn't until the end of the first period that Evgeni Malkin tied things up. From there, the game was scoreless through regulation. Nothing happened during overtime, so we had a shootout. The Pens won when Evgeni Malkin and James Neal both scored. A boring game, but it was a 2-1 win for the Pens.

Cover of Richard Castle's Deadly Storm

Monday, January 16, 2012 -- Afternoon

Richard Castle's Deadly Storm
Ever since I was a kid, I've loved comic books. With the emergence of graphic novels, I get more opportunity to satisfy that habit. With Richard Castle's Deadly Storm, I combined the love of comics with my love of mysteries. Just this season, I've started to watch the Castle television series, and I've enjoyed the interaction between the characters. The show's premise is that an author, Richard Castle, follows the police around, basing his novels on the cases that the police, in particular detective Kate Beckett, work on. Romantic tension and mystery are all on the menu. Because Richard Castle is an author, the creators of the series decided to capitalize on the popularity by releasing novels "written" by Richard Castle. Richard Castle's Deadly Storm is a graphic take off of the concept. In the comic, Derrick Storm is a detective who is hired by a woman to follow her husband. Storm finds the guy with another woman, but there is a twist. The woman who hired Storm was not the guy's wife, and after the woman the guy was bedding winds up dead, Storm is arrested as the murderer. Enter Alice Strike, CIA operative, to complicate the story. The story was well-told, and I loved all the plot twists. Obviously, with the end of the comic, the writers were setting up the reader for more adventures. I know that I was craving more when I finished the comic. So far, this is the only graphic novel available, but if it's successful, I'm sure that more will follow.

Sunday, January 15, 2012 -- Evening

The Marching Season
Cover of The Marching Season by Daniel Silva I just finished reading The Marching Season by Daniel Silva. It's the second, and unfortunately last, book in the Michael Osbourne series. Silva is known for his spy books, especially the Gabriel Allon series. Allon is the Israeli spy who keeps Israel and the world safe by killing terrorists. Michael Osbourne is a different kettle of fish. He's a CIA operative, and definitely doesn't feel easy about killing others. The action preys on his soul. The first book in the Osbourne series was The Mark of the Assassin. In that book, we are introduced to a secret organization that is trying to influence events in the world by creating terror. In that book, an airliner is blown out of the sky so a US businessman can sell his Star Wars type security system to the US people and government. The assassin is a man code-named October, Jean Paul Delaroche, who killed Osbourne's love many years ago. In Mark of the Assassin, October came after Osbourne and his wife Elizabeth.

In The Marching Season, we join Osbourne a year after Mark of the Assassin. Osbourne is now retired from the CIA, and he and Elizabeth are the happy parent of twins. Osbourne is feeling the strain of retirement and isn't as happy as he was when he worked for the CIA. But things are about to change! Elizabeth's father, former Senator Douglas Cannon, is offered the post of US ambassador to England after a series of terrorist acts in the UK, which were meant to spoil the peace in Northern Ireland. Considering that the book was published in 1999, it's not such an unlikely scenario. Osbourne gets pulled back into the CIA to protect his father-in-law from possible assassination, and October gets pulled back into his role as assassin by the Society, who believes that killing Osbourne and his father-in-law would really disrupt peace, and eliminate Osbourne, who has become a real pain in the neck.

It's so obvious that Silva used the Osbourne books as a springboard for the Allon books. Adrian Carter, Graham Seymour, and Shamron are cross-over characters in both series. Delaroche/October has some of the physical and personality characteristics of Gabriel Allon, including being an artist. The Marching Season is a very good book, full of thrills. I found myself quickly moving through the pages when I had time to read, which wasn't much over the past week or so. Silva made Delaroche/October into a sympathetic character. Although I didn't want him to succeed in killing Osbourne, I did want Delaroche to survive and some how find happiness. In The Marching Season, I did get the sense of closure for both Osbourne and Delaroche, and I was very happy. I wish that there were more Michael Osbourne books, but I guess that I will just have to satisfy myself with the Gabriel Allon series.

Sunday, January 15, 2012 -- Late Afternoon

Malkin Plays Hockey
The Tampa Bay Lightning went from playoffs last season to last in the Eastern Conference this year. The problem for the Lightning is goaltending. Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon are basically just okay goalies. So I had a ton of hope that the Pens would pull through on this one. Things were looking good in the first period when James Neal and Richard Park both got goals. Then in the third period, James Neal got his second goal of the game to give the Pens a 3-0 lead. Then within a span of a little under five minutes (4 minutes and 50 seconds), the Lightning got three goals to tie the game. Time to start worrying right? Then Evgeni Malkin got a goal and things were looking up again. Minutes later, Malkin got a second beautiful goal from his stomach to give the Pens a 5-3 lead. Vinnie Lecavalier got frustrated because of Malkin's play, and tried to pick a fight. It didn't help that Lacavalier tried to sucker punch Malkin as the refs were holding them. As Malkin said afterwards, he didn't want to fight, he wanted to play hockey. Welll, Malkin continued to play hockey by getting an empty net goal from the blue line to get a natural hat trick. Pens won with a final score of 6-3.

Friday, January 13, 2012 -- Evening

Pens' players wear C at morning skate
Pens Wear C
The Pens were in Florida to play the Panthers this evening, and today at the morning skate, the players all wore Cs on their jerseys to show support for their captain. There have been rumors that there was dissension in Pens' locker room over Sidney Crosby being out for so long with concussion symptoms. Although Crosby was skating with the team, he has had problems with headaches and balance. An anonymous player said that the team's players were planning on assigning someone else the job as temporary captain. it's hard for people to understand something like a concussion or brain injury. Others cannot see a headache, and they don't know how serious it is. Sometimes I really wonder if Crosby will make it back to the ice. With the team's losing streak, emotions are high on the side of the fans, and probably even with the players. Hopefully, things will end well.
Pens Finally Win!
The Pens really needed a win to get them out of their losing doldrums. The first period against the Panthers was scoreless, but less than two minutes into the second, Steve Sullivan scored for the Pens. Then in the last minute of the same period, Evgeni Malkin gave the Pens a 2-0 lead. As soon as the third period started, Tyler Kennedy scored. The Panthers managed to get one past Marc-Andre Fleury. James Neal finally got another goal to give him his 22nd goal of the season. The Pens finally broke their losing streak with the 4-1 win.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 -- Evening

Pens Lose Yet Again
The Pens traveled to Washington to play the Capitals this evening. The Pens performed to their usual standard of late. They had difficulty scoring. In the past few games, the Pens were lucky to get a single point. Tonight's game was a close one. The Capitals got a goal in the first period, and then Marc-Andre Fleury kept the puck out of the Pens' goal. The Pens continued their losing streak, with the final score: Capitals 1 - Pens 0.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 -- Evening

Neal Plays Against Senators
The Ottawa Senators were in town this evening to play the Pens, and the first shock of the day was when James Neal participated in the morning skate. The Pens claimed that Neal did not break his foot. Supposedly, he just has a bone bruise, and the "break" in the x-rays might have been a past injury. Speaking as someone who has broken a bone in the foot, I really have issues believing the Pens. But at least Neal is back on the ice.

Brent Johnson as in goal for the Pens. At the end of the first period, the Senators got two goals, then Jason Spezza got a goal at the start of the second. After that, it was bye-bye Johnson. The Senators got another goal before Evgeni Malkin finally managed to score one for the Pens. The Pens weren't able to score any more goals though, and they had their fifth loss in a row. Final score: Senators 5 - Pens 1.

Sunday, January 8, 2012 -- Afternoon

More Bad News for the Pens
The Pens are having a really rough time of it this year. Not only are Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang out for an indefinite period, with no updates or comments from the team on them, but there are more injuries. Jordan Staal is out for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury, and James Neal is out indefinitely with a broken foot. Ray Shero is going to have to do make some sort of trade to try to get something going for the team. I really feel for Neal because he has been scoring as if he were on fire.

Saturday, January 7, 2012 -- Evening

Pens Back to Back
The Pens were in action again tonight against the New Jersey Devils. Marc-Andre Fleury was back in goal for the Pens. Evgeni Malkin scored first, giving the Pens a 1-0 lead in the first period. As seems to be usual for the Pens lately, things went downhill from there. In the second period, Fleury thought he had the puck secured, but he didn't, and Adam Henrique tied things up for the Devils. Then Ilya Kovalchuk and Dainius Zubrus both got goals. The Pens lost another one with a final score of 3-1. Unfortunately, Jordan Staal joined the ranks of the injured with the knee injury he suffered in yesterday's game.

Friday, January 6, 2012 -- Evening

Pens Lose Another Game
The hot NY Rangers were in town this evening to play the Pens. Since the Pens are in the same division as the Rangers, a win against them was a must. The match started out positively with the Pens scoring first on a Ben Lovejoy goal in the first period. The Pens were really outshooting the Rangers, but then the tempo changed when Brad Richards got a goal towards the end of the first period. In the second period, Brandon Dubinsky got a short-handed goal for the Rangers to give them a 2-1 lead. The Rangers got another goal in the third period, and it was obvious the Pens were struggling. James Neal almost got a goal, but Chris Kunitz had interfered with Henrik Lundqvist, so the goal was called off. The Pens were outshooting the Rangers; they just couldn't get anything behind Lundqvist. Towards the end of the third period, there was a scary moment when Mike Rupp ran into Jordan Staal's left leg. Staal lay on the ice for a while, then was helped off the ice. The Pens lost this one with a final score of 1-3.

Roger Moore as the Saint

Friday, January 6, 2012 -- Afternoon

Roger Moore as The Saint
It seems that when the winter season starts, I get an urge to watch The Saint. That urge returned this year, and I've been working my way through the The Saint color episodes in little mini-marathons. The show is lots of fun. Roger Moore is the perfect fit for the role of Simon Templar. Moore brings the perfect blend of suave humor that makes the character so appealing.

Last night, I watched two of my favorite episodes: The Death Game and The Art Collectors. The former deals with a murder game that college students have started to play. The students are in teams with a murderer and a victim. The murderer gets points for the ingenuity and "success" of the murder. The top three murderers from a group will win a trip to Switzerland where they will get to play the game against winners from groups around the world. Simon gets involved when one of the students is assigned to "murder" him. Eventually, Simon takes the place of Bill Bass, a professor who suspected that there was something horribly wrong with the Death Game. This episode also introduces us to Adolph Vogler, the evil mastermind who is recruiting students to play the Death Game for real.

The Art Collectors is great fun because of the numerous twists and turns. Simon rescues Natasha, a girl who was being kidnapped as she left a restaurant. It turns out that Natasha has three previously unknown Leonardo da Vinci paintings for sale. The Saint comes to the rescue, and of course becomes involved in the sale of the paintings. The bad guys kidnap the art collector, and one of them tries to masquerade as him. Too bad because the Saint knows the art collector. The paintings are stolen, but are they? It's the Saint to the rescue, and the pictures are stolen and returned with so many twists and turns that it's like trying to find the ball in the shell game! The interactions between Natasha and Simon make the show all the more entertaining.

If you haven't seen The Saint, you should check out the episodes on Amazon's Instant Video. You won't regret it!

House of Anubis cast and house

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 -- Afternoon

House of Anubis
I always keep my eye open for free TV episodes on iTunes. Over the Christmas holidays, they had the complete season 1 (listed as seasons 1-3 on iTunes) of House of Anubis free. I downloaded the whole lot and have been enjoying the drama and mystery. The show was filmed in England and sold to Nickelodeon, and it just oozes teen drama and soap opera. The story centers around a boarding house (Anubis) at an elite school in England. I like the woo-woo element of the story with the mysterious disapperance of Joy and the evil doings of house supervisor, Victor. What happened to Joy? Is there something eerie going on with Victor, who doesn't seem to age? What connection is there to the discovery of King Tut in 1922? The mystery doesn't get in the way of the teenagers hooking up in various romantic entanglements. The show is definitely perfect for the tween and early teenager. But it's also an entertaining way for an adult to spend a few hours. You can't beat free entertainment.

Monday, January 2, 2012 -- Evening

Corner Gas "Good Old Table Hockey Game"
After the Winter Classic, the new NBC Sports Channel showed a documentary on the 1972 Summit Series, which was a series of eight hockey games between the Russian Olympic hockey team and a team of Canadian NHL stars. Phil Esposito, Ken Dryden, Peter Mahovlich, and Bobby Clark were among the stars on the Canadian team. The Pens Eddie Johnston was one of the goalies on the roster. I knew something about the series because I’m a huge fan of Corner Gas, and they had an episode called the “Good Old Table Hockey Game” that honored the game and the atmosphere in Canada.

The NBC documentary on the Summit Series was great. It was interesting to see the perspective of the various stars, both Canadian and Russian. I really liked Phil Esposito because he had quite a sense of humor. Great documentary!

BTW, the NY Rangers won the Winter Classic, beating the Philadelphia Flyers with a final score of 3-2.

Sunday, January 1, 2012 -- Evening

cover of Barbara Michaels' Be Buried in the Rain
Be Buried in the Rain
If there's one thing I love, it's snuggling up in a warm robe with cookies and a hot drink while I read a romantic suspense book. One of my favorite authors is Barbara Mertz, whether she is writing as Elizabeth Peters or Barbara Michaels. When Mertz writes as Michaels, she includes a supernatural element. There's a mystery to solve, which the heroine does with the help of some ghostly guidance. I've been in the mood for something woo-wooish, so I've started to work my way through the Michaels books. This evening, I finished reading Be Buried in the Rain.

Julie Newcomb is a medical student whose grandmother has suffered a stroke. The relationship between Julie and her grandmother has been strained, basically because the grandmother, Martha, is a mean, old woman. What you might call a real bitch. Julie spent a few years of her childhood with her grandmother when Julie's mother was trying to get herself on her feet. The story starts with the discovery of some bones on a back road running by Martha's land. The discovery leads to Martha having a stroke. Now that Martha is incapacitated because of the stroke, cousin Matt talks Julie into spending the summer taking care of her grandmother. Of course, Martha lives in a huge old plantation style house in Virginia, so there's lots of room for action. Another wrench in the works is the inclusion of Alan, a former flame of Julie's who is doing some archaeological investigations on Martha's land. In the past, Martha caused a break-up between Alan and Julie, to give us the romantic tension in the book. So we have the perfect setup for some woo-woo thrills: the discovery of bones, a big, mysterious house, and romantic tension between the protagonists. Whose bones were in the road? Was it the mythical Lady Jocelyn, virginal maiden from the 1700s, or is it someone from more recent times?

The tension builds as Julie tries to figure out what is going on in the house and with Martha. The evil Joe Danner, resident handyman, and his down-trodden wife, Rosie, are suspects, especially after Rosie tries to poison Julie's adopted stray dog. Who can Julie trust? Cousin Matt, Alan? Is one of them trying to hurt her?

Michaels does an excellent job of building the tension, both mysterious and romantic. Of course, in the end, Julie solves it all with some psychic and romantic help. I really enjoyed the mystery and the romance in the book. I would highly recommend Be Buried in the Rain to anyone who likes a little bit of woo-woo and romance in their mystery.