The Daily Bongo

March 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012 -- Evening

Crosby Gets 600 Points

The Pens were in action tonight against the Buffalo Sabres. This is a rough four days with the Pens playing three of those days. Tonight's game was a good one, much more physical and entertaining. Sidney Crosby had four points on the night, and he got his 600th career point. This was also a notable night because Brent Johnson played his first game in over a month, and although he was shaky at first, he came on to have a very good third period. Goal scorers for the Pens: Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, James Neal, Steve Sullivan, and Jordan Staal. Finals score; Pens 5 - Sabres 3.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 -- Evening

Pens Deja Vu
This evening's Pens / Islanders game was a repeat of Tuesday's game. It was such a case of deja vu that the score was the same. The Islanders just have the Pens' number. Even though the Islanders lose to everyone us, they beat the Pens. This game really sucked because Sidney Crosby was hit in the face with a puck. It banged up his nose. Goal scorers for the Pens: Pascal Dupuis, Jordan Staal, and Evgeni Malkin. Final score: Pens 3 - Islanders 5.

Thursday, March 29, 2012 -- Afternoon

Cover of The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
Even though I'm a huge fan of mysteries, I've managed to miss some of the classics. For example, I've never read anything by Dashiell Hammett. Yes, I did watch The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart, which is a very good movie. When I think of Sam Spade, I think of Bogart. Imagine my surprise when I read the book! It seems that Spade is tall. Now that's not something that I associate with Bogart. Except for the height and size issue, whenever Spade would talk, I could hear Bogart's voice. Bogart definitely captured the character of Sam Spade.

So what is the book like? It is very much like the movie. The plot is a tad convoluted. A woman shows up at Spade's and Miles Archer's detective agency, asking for them to follow someone for her, Floyd Thursby. The woman, calling herself Miss Wonderly, claims that her sister left with Thursby, and the woman wants to get her sister to come back home. When Archer turns up shot dead, and Thursby is found dead, Spade finds himself in it thick. The police wonder if Spade had something to do with Archer's murder because Spade has been having an affair with Archer's wife, Iva. Spade tracks down Miss Wonderly, who Spade finds out is really Brigid O'Shaughnessy. Spade can't get a straight story out of O'Shaughnessy, and finds himself getting threatened by Joe Cairo, a partner of O'Shaughnessy, and then Casper Gutman and Gutman's henchman, Wilmer Cook. There are lots of twists and turns while Spade tries to track down the Maltese Falcon, and in the end, all becomes clear. The only thing I was left wondering about is whether the Maltese Falcon might have been real, or if it was always a piece of lead. The Maltese Falcon could be anything that people become obsessed with.

I really enjoyed reading the book. Even with limited evening hours to read, I quickly finished the book. I've only seen the movie two times at the most, and that was a while ago. I couldn't remember much to spoil the story. Although now that I've finished the book, I want to re-watch the movie to see if it really matches up as much as I think it does. I loved Hammett's writing style so much that I've put The Thin Man on hold at the library, and I think I need to read the Continental Op stories too. I can understand how The Maltese Falcon ranked number 56 in the Modern Library 100 best novels.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012 -- Evening

One of Those Games You Want to Forget
Tonight's Pens / Islanders game was one of those you just want to forget. The Islanders took an early two goal lead. Even though the Pens tied things at the start of the second, things just went down hill. The Islanders scored some more goals, and Marc-Andre Fleury took a heavy hit from Paul Martin when Fleury came out of the crease to play the puck. Fleury's helmet flew across the ice, and Fleury acted shaky after that. Brad Thiessen started the third period for the Pens, and we can only hope that Fleury bounces back from the shaky game and hard hit. The Pens lose with a final score of 5-3. The good news was that Evgeni Malkin got two assists on James Neal's goals.

Monday, March 26, 2012 -- Afternoon

Cover of Search the Shadoes by Barbara Michaels
Search the Shadows by Barbara Michaels
It was back to Barbara Michaels' books for me over the weekend. This time it was Search the Shadows, which is about Haskell Maloney looking for her father. Haskell's mom died when she was a baby, and Haskell was raised by her aunt Jessie. For most of her life, Haskell thought that she knew who her father was: Kevin Maloney, who died in Vietnam. When Haskell goes for a blood test before marrying her lawyer fiancee, Jon, she finds out that she is a carrier of Tays-Sachs. Since that is something that would come from an Eastern European Ashkenazi or someone from Nova Scotia, Haskell realizes that her "father" wasn't her father. Of course, Haskell has a breakdown, breaks off her engagement until she can "find herself," and fights with Aunt Jessie, who should have known and didn't tell Haskell. Jessie, however, is just as shocked, and Haskell decided that she has to go in search of her father. Haskell decides to go to the Oriental Institute in Chicago, where her mother went to school and met her father. Haskell decides that one of the guys in her mother's photo album must be the father. One of them is Stephen Nazarian, who blew himself up in with a group of Vietnam War revolutionaries. Stephen's father, Victor Nazarian, is a wealthy, powerful, elderly man, and Haskell determines to volunteer to work for his museum organization, because who can turn away a volunteer. The next thing we know, Haskell is on the Nazarian grounds and in danger.

This book has no woo-woo elements. There are no ghosts or spirits haunting Haskell, well, except for the spirit of her mother. I have to admit that Search the Shadows is one of those Barbara Michaels books that I'm not very fond of. Yes, I read through the book quickly, and I enjoyed it to a degree. I love Michaels' writing. The Egyptology bit struck a chord with me. Haskell was plain annoying though. I mean, really! So you find out that you are a carrier of Tays-Sachs, and the first thing you do is dump the guy you are going to marry? That just didn't make sense to me. It's as if Haskell (or maybe Michaels) was looking for a way out from the beginning. The romance part of it was shallow. Haskell winds up with a guy at the end, but it's really not the guy that you would think. We really don't get a build up of the romance. I figured out who the dad was, but it's really not that obvious. So what did I think? Enjoyable, but flawed, book. I think that if you love Michaels, you'll think this one is okay. Not the best, but by far, not the worst.

Sunday, March 25, 2012 -- Evening

Pens Win
The Pens were playing for the second night in a row, playing the NJ Devils. The Pens weren't acting tired when they came out to play, with Chris Kunitz scoring a goal off of an Evgeni Malkin assist one minute and four seconds into the game. Unfortunately, the Devils took advantage of Marc-Andre Fleury getting caught behind the net with a wide open goal. Zach Parise took advantage to tie the score. The scary moment in the game came in the first half of the first period when Malkin took a puck to the hand. He was on the bench with ice on his hand for a while before he went back on the ice. In the waning minutes of the first period, Matt Cooke took advantage of a turnover to shoot the puck to Jordan Staal who scored. The period ended with the Pens one up on the Devils. Pascal Dupuis scored in the second period. At the beginning of the third period, Ilya Kovalchuk positioned himself beside Fleury, and was able to get a goal for the Devils. Shortly after that, Sidney Crosby got a breakaway and scored on amazing goal on Martin Brodeur. In the last two minutes of the game, Brodeur left the net to give an extra man on the ice, and Malkin scored an empty net goal. The Pens had yet another five goal game, and won with a final score of 5-2. The Pens have 100 points for the season, and a game in hand over the conference leading Rangers.

Saturday, March 24, 2012 -- Evening

Pens Lose to Ottawa
The Pens were in Ottawa to play the Senators this evening, and fortunately, I wasn't home to see the game. I say fortunately because the Pens lost with a score of 8-4. Part of the problem was goaltending; Brad Thiessen was in goal for the Pens. However, you can't have Marc-Andre Fleury playing every game. Fleury already has 40 wins this season, and would probably be a good contender for team MVP. Matt Cooke complained about the the officiating, which seemed to go against the Pens this evening. Cooke has had the best season of his career, and he added two goal to his total tonight. Tyler Kennedy and Sidney Crosby also got goals in the losing effort. Tomorrow, the Pens will be playing the Devils.

Thursday, March 22, 2012 -- Evening

Fleury's 40th Win of the Season
The Nashville Predators are in the hunt for the playoffs, and tonight they were in Pittsburgh to play the Pens. Marc-Andre Fleury was back in goal for the Pens, and he got his 40th win of the season tonight. Evgeni Malkin and Pascal Dupuis scored in the first period to give the Pens a 2-0 lead. Then Matt Cooke and Chris Kunitz scored in the second, with Malkin adding his second goal of the night in the third period. James Neal got four assists in tonight's game. The surprises of the team are Cooke and Dupuis, who are on a scoring tear. Final score was Pens 5 - Predators 1. The Pens are really looking like a Stanley Cup contender this season. Everyone has that up, happy look, and are playing like there is no tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 -- Evening

Neal Hat Trick & Malkin's Parents
The Winnipeg Jets were back in town to play the Pens this evening, and the game was pretty much a repeat of the Feb. 11 Jets game. Brad Thiessen was in goal for the Pens. There hasn't been much word on Brent Johnson other than that he is still recuperating from an undisclosed injury. Tyler Kennedy scored first for the Pens, followed by two Jet goals. Then James Neal got the first of his three goals. Tyler Kennedy ended the night with two goals, and Evgeni Malkin gave his parents a show with two goals and two assists. Pascal Dupuis scored a goal, and although Sidney Crosby didn't have any goals, he did get four assists. Final score: Pens 8 - Jets 4. It's a lot of fun to watch Malkin's parents react during the game. Malkin looks like his mom, and both mom and dad are high-fiving and celebrating every score.

Monday, March 19, 2012 -- Afternoon

Cover of The Clairvoyant Countess by Dorothy Gilman
The Clairvoyant Countess by Dorothy Gilman
I just finished reading my second stand-alone Dorothy Gilman, The Clairvoyant Countess. This book was really a collection of stories about Madame Karitska and her policeman friend, Detective-Lieutenant Pruden. Madame Karitska meets Pruden when he comes calling to find out why her address was in a murdered girl's house. The girl has come to visit Madame Karitska earlier in the week and left in a huff when Karitska told the girl not to trust the person the girl trusted the most. As a spoiler, that "trusted" person wound up murdering the girl, and Karitska helped out Pruden by giving him information on what she picked up about the girl. Other cases include robberies at a boarding school, a man dying of a voodoo curse, a woman accused of being a witch, and a missing girl, who was first believed to be dead. The stories are quick, and the same characters weave in and out of the stories. The book is a short one, but a very enjoyable read. I found myself rooting for Madame Karitska. I think that Dorothy Gilman must have had some interesting experiences with spiritualism because both this and A Nun in the Closet have elements that encourage the characters, and the reader, to investigate how the brain and the soul work. Madame Karistka uses psychometry, touching objects owned or worn by someone, to get information about the person's past and future. There was a later sequel, published in 2002, called Kaleidoscope. I'll give that one a try too, but I've read that it is not up to par with The Clairvoyant Countess. I wonder if Ms. Gilman was already experiencing some Alzheimer problems, which crept into her work. The disease is a sad one because it robs the person of himself/herself.

Sunday, March 18, 2012 -- Afternoon

Winning Streak Snapped
It's not often you get to watch hard hitting hockey, but that's what you get with a Pens / Flyers match-up. When these two teams get together, you just know that there will be scrums and fighting, and this game was no exception. Craig Adams got a goal for the Pens in the first period, and Evgeni Malkin got one in the second. Then Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell tied things up in the third. The game went into overtime, and with seconds left before the shootout, the Flyers scored to get the win. There went the Pens winning streak, stopped at 11. Marc-Andre Fleury was playing today, for the second day in a row, and he was quite unhappy at the goal. Final score: Pens 2 - Flyers 3.

Saturday, March 17, 2012 -- Evening

Pens Have 11 Game Winning Streak
Marc-Andre Fleury and the Pens tend to get hot in March, and this season has been no exception, with the Pens beating the Devils today with a final score of 5-2. The Pens winning streak now extends to 11 games, and Dan Bylsma admitted that the team is going for the conference lead. James Neal, Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke, and Evgeni Malkin all had goals. Cooke got two goals today to bring himself to a career high of 16 goals this season. Just goes to show you that it is possible to clean up your act. Sidney Crosby was a power house, getting three assists and the first star of the game. Poor Martin Brodeur had to face 44 shots in the game while Fleury only had 14. The Devils just weren't up to it today, and the Pens excelled.

Cover of Nun in the Closet by Dorothy Gilman

Friday, March 16, 2012 -- Afternoon

A Nun in the Closet by Dorothy Gilman
February 2nd was a sad day for Mrs. Pollifax fans. Dorothy Gilman died at 88 years of age from Alzheimer's disease complications. I've read most, if not all, of the Mrs. Pollifax books. However, I never read any of the standalone books that Ms. Gilman wrote. I decided in her honor that I would rectify that lapse, and finally got around to A Nun in the Closet. The nun in the closet isn't a real nun. It's "Sister Ursula," a seriously injured man found by two Benedictine nuns in a house the abbey inherited. Sister Ursula wasn't the only things that Sisters John and Hyacinthe found on the property. They also found a suitcase with over $400,000 hidden in a well and 50 pounds of cocaine hidden in sugar jars. Since the book was published in 1975, Gilman sprinkled in some hippies, and Sister John had a militant awakening. Before the book ended, the Mafia and the FBI made appearances.

The book reminded me of the Pollifax books. Good won out in the end, and no likable character died. Sister John was the most interesting of the bunch because she had an awakening from her cloistered existence. The book was a nice, light, enjoyable read. Nothing substantial, but that's not what I expect from some books. A Nun in the Closet is a book that should be read on a nice spring day, while you sit outside on a swing, sipping a cold drink, and nibbling on cookies.

Thursday, March 15, 2012 -- Evening

Crosby and Letang Return
Both Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang returned to the ice for the Pens in tonight's game against the NY Rangers. I didn't get a chance to watch the game because I was teaching, and it sounds like a missed a good game. The Pens won with a final score of 5-2. Crosby had 16 minutes on the ice while Letang had 24:22. Matt Cooke got two goals, and Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, and Pascal Dupuis got one. Crosby got an assist on the Kunitz goal and was a +3. Letang was a +5. Not bad at all!

Sunday, March 11, 2012 -- Evening

Cover of Someone in the House by Barbara Michaels
Someone in the House by Barbara Michaels
I just finished another of Barbara Michaels' books. Someone in the House has all the woo-woo elements that anyone would want: a huge mansion, eerie noses in the night, and ghostly visions. This time, Anne goes to Grayhaven Manor in Pennsylvania. The plan is for her and her buddy, Kevin, to spend the summer writing an English textbook. Anne's boyfriend, Joe, is off to on a research project in Europe, and Anne is left on her own. The problem is the house. First, Bea, Kevin's aunt, comments on noises coming from Kevin's room. Bea assumes that is it Kevin and Anne making out. Of course, Bea is somewhat offended. The book was written in 1980/1981, and older folks weren't as accommodating to unmarried sex. However, it isn't Anne, but a ghostly visitor that Kevin is getting busy with. Bea, Bea's new paramour, Roger, and Anne try to figure out what the cause is behind the ghostly visits. Father Steven, the local priest is also called into action.

This book was quite eerie, and it didn't follow the usual Michaels formula. As a spoiler, Anne and Kevin do not find romantic happiness in the end. In fact, there really isn't a good resolution to the mystery of the ghostly visits at all, other than Anne's thesis that the house wants to make all of its inhabitants happy. The following book, Black Rainbow tells the earlier story of the Mandevilles in the house, but that book doesn't have anything more than some vague comments about Megan feeling very content in the house. Anyway, Someone in the House was a great page-turner, and I found myself enjoying it. Even though there wasn't romance at the end, I rooted for Anne and her decision. I can't wait to read more of Michaels' books in the near future.

Sunday, March 11, 2012 -- Afternoon

Pens on Nine Game Winning Streak
The Pens are hot and playing like a team obsessed with leading the Eastern Conference. This afternoon, they played the Boston Bruins in an early game at Console Energy Center. Teh Pens came out flying with three goals from Arron Asham, Matt Niskanen, and James Neal in the first period. Neal's goal was a power play goal, and it netted a free McDonald's Big Mac for everyone in attendance. David Krejci bookended a Chris Kunitz goal in the second period, and Pascal Dupuis, on his own hot streak, scored a goal in the third to give the Pens a 5-2 win. This is the ninth straight win for the Pens, and sees them only two points away from the Easter Conference leading NY Rangers . Evgeni Malkin got three assists in the game, netting the number two star and one point behind Steven Stamkos 82 points for the season. Things are really looking good as the Pens near the end of the regular season. Sidney Crosby may be back for Thursday game against the Rangers, and the Pens, in general, are playing well.

Friday, March 9, 2012 -- Evening

The Pens played the Florida Panthers this evening. Marc-Andre Fleury was in goal for the Pens. The first period was scoreless, and then the Panthers took a one goal lead in the second. Steve Sullivan got a goal in the third to tie things up. Unfortunately, a Pascal Dupuis goal was called off because the powers that be in Toronto didn't see the puck cross the line. From what I could tell, the Toronto crew got it right. Regulation ended in a tie, so the game went into overtime. Overtime was scoreless too, so it was on to a shootout. First up for the Pens was James Neal, and he scored. Next was Wojtek Wolski, and he missed wide on the net. Then Evgeni Malkin scored with a Kris Letang. Fleury stopped Mikael Samuelsson with a sprawling glove hand. Fleury is the ace when it comes to the shootout. The Pens win their eighth straight with a final score of 2-1.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 -- Evening

Mario Lemieux splitting two NY Islander defensemen
Mario Lemieux Statue
A statue honoring Mario Lemieux was unveiled in front of Console Energy Center this afternoon. The statue shows Lemieux splitting two Islanders defensemen in 1988. Of course, the play resulted in a goal. The picture to the right is the photo that was used for the statue. It's a pretty cool looking photo, and the concept is in interesting one. It's hard for me to tell from the photos of the statue how it looks. From some angles, it doesn't look that great. Some people have said that it seems too busy, but that was based on leaked images. It may look much better in person. I'm going to be by the arena on Tuesday, and I'll check it out in person. With the unveiling today, the Pens also honored Mario at the start of tonight's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Crosby Cleared for Contact
Sidney Crosby has been cleared for contact, and he practiced with the team today. The hope is that Crosby will be back for Sunday's game against the Bruins. However, Crosby said that he did not want to just play for a few games and then wind up on the sidelines. So he's going to take his time on the comeback. Needless to say, I'm sure that people will be trying to beg, borrow, or steal a ticket to Sunday's game, which will be here in Pittsburgh.
Pens Versus Maple Leafs
The Pens played the Maple Leafs tonight. Brad Thiessen was in goal for tonight's game. No word really on Brent Johnson other than that he was injured in practice. There were no goals in the first period. Then while the NBC Sports guys had Mario Lemieux on during the second period, the Leafs got two goals. Fortunately at the end of the period, Pascal Dupuis scored. At the start of the third, Jordan Staal and then Dupuis both got goals to give the Pens a 3-2 lead. Fortunately, the Pens and Thiessen were to hold off the Leafs to get the win. Thiessen is 2-0 in NHL starts.

Monday, March 5, 2012 -- Evening

Fleury, Fleury, Fleury!
The Pens were back in town this evening, but it felt like the West Coast trip was still on with the Phoenix Coyotes on the other side of the ice. Tyler Kennedy was back for the Pens after missing a month with a high ankle sprain. The Pens got two goals in the first period from Zbynek Michalek and Chris Kunitz. Marc-Andre Fleury making saves that you would now believe. One of the best came midway through the second period when Fleury lost his stick, but still managed to keep the puck out of the net. Matt Cooke wound up in the penalty box after he was tripped and fell into the goalie, Mike Smith, who started to pummel Cooke. Poor Cookie! It was his second straight fall into a goalie. The Pens had the power play because three Phoenix players got roughing penalties (including goalie Smith), and at one point, the Coyotes stole the puck and went at Fleury. Fleury came charging out of the net and stopped the puck. It was just another stellar play on Fleury's part. A hotly contested second period ended with a goal from other team, even though both tried hard with 14 shots from the Coyotes and 10 from the Pens. At the start of the third period, Ray Whitney got one past Fleury. It was a bit of a let down for me. Fleury whacked his stick against the ice afterwards. The Pens didn't score again, but then neither did the Coyotes. Fleury saved 36 of 37 shots in the 2-1 win, giving him the number one star of the game!

Sunday, March 4, 2012 -- Afternoon

Black Rainbow by Barbara Michaels
My recent Barbara Michaels read is Black Rainbow. This book is more typical of a traditional gothic. Read the complete review.

Saturday, March 3, 2012 -- Evening

Pens on 8-2-0 Streak!
The Pens were in Colorado to play the Avalanche this evening. The Avalanche came out shooting, taking 14 shots as opposed to the Pens 8 in the first period. Marc-Andre Fleury did a great job in keeping the puck out of the net, but J. S. Giguere wasn't as good or lucky. Arron Asham and Deryk Engelland got goals in the first period. In the second period, Evgeni Malkin and Richard Park got goals to give the Pens a 4-0 lead. Of course, I started to root for a shutout, but Matt Hunwick spoiled those dreams by getting a goal in the third period. With less than two minutes on the clock, Steve Sullivan got a goal to give the Pens a 5-1 win. Fleury stopped 35 of 36 shots in a great performance. The Pens are now in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.