Archive for April, 2009

>Movie review: State of Play

Posted: April 25, 2009 in Entertainment

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This former BBC series turned into an American feature film provides some interesting parallels to real life in its portrayal of political intrigue and corruption in the wake of the current war on terror. A decent group of actors, led by Russel Crowe as a grizzled veteran reporter who woefully awaits the demise of the print media to make way for more viral “blog based” Internet news, does a good job of moving the plot forward believably. He is paired up with Rachel McAdams, the cub reporter who represents the future of news via blog gossip journalism.

There is no romantic spark between the two, just a mentor relationship that works for the most part despite questions of how realistic it would actually be. The love interest in the film (if you can call her that) is the beautiful Robin Wright Penn, whose turn as a tortured politician’s wife is worth the price of admission. The other part of the Penn-Crowe triangle is Ben Affleck, who plays an ambitious and talented rising star in congress, despite his shaky marriage and lack of any friends besides the slovenly hippy-dippy reporter played by Crowe. (By the way, it was kind of nice to see a sloppy overweight Crowe in this role after he made so many men feel inferior with his cut physique years ago in “Gladiator.”)

Without giving anything away, the plight of the modern newspaper business and the controversy over privatizing war (read: Blackwater) are examined and the ethical, moral, and political questions pondered in the film give the audience some decent substance to chew on. I have to also note how much I enjoy watching Jason Bateman, who plays a sleazy, morally and sexually ambiguous Washington D.C. PR guy. Whether Bateman is playing drama for laughs (as he did in “Juno”), comedy (TV’s “Arrested Development), or straight up drama (as he does here) he’s always a joy to watch.

“State of Play” has shades of a modern “All the President’s Men” without the level of drama or story of that film, but still achieves what it sets out to do. In a side note, as a former newspaperman, I felt that the end title sequence showing the newspaper making its way from filed story to printing press all the way to the delivery truck felt like a fitting epitath to the current state of the industry I grew to love during my time there.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention there’s also adultery, murder, and possibly a plot twist? And that Helen Mirren plays the newspaper editor? I still haven’t figured out how a Brit became editor of a major U.S. newspaper in our nation’s capitol with an Australian for her star reporter, but I still give “State of Play” three by-lines out of five.

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>Reidar’s hockey highlight reel

Posted: April 25, 2009 in Hockey

>Here is a little something I whipped up really quick. It has Reidar’s 98th, 99th, and 100th goal and a couple of other little bonus goals that I caught on tape. Enjoy…

>Signs of the times

Posted: April 13, 2009 in Columns, Uncategorized

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This morning, like many others, I stopped at the AM/PM to buy an energy drink on the way to work. What can I say? I have three kids, don’t get enough sleep, and need a little boost. Let me have my one vice, okay?

But unlike other mornings I have performed this mundane task, today I noticed a collective theme – that of everyday people scraping along in this dismal economy. As I stepped out of my car I noticed a beat up van with the door smashed in pulling into a nearby parking space. The woman in the passenger seat had to use the window to get out of the car. I guess they didn’t have the money to pay the insurance deductible to fix the inoperative door.

Then I went inside and a man was paying for $6 worth of gas. Not since my high school years when gas was less than a dollar a gallon had I seen someone buying such a small amount of fuel. That’s fewer than 3 gallons of gas. How far can you go on that? The man was dressed in business attire, sans a tie. Probably a cubicle dweller somewhere in Sacramento, or maybe a government worker. He must have been down to his last couple of bucks before payday and needed just enough gas to eke by.

When my time at the cash register came, I had my own “slow economy” moment as I opened my wallet and found a single dollar in there. My wife isn’t working right now and we’ve been squeezing every penny. I don’t take out a lot of cash these days from the ATM and we try to economize whenever possible, so I just didn’t realize how low I was on cash. Embarrassed that I came up short on my measly $2.50 purchase, I left my Rockstar Energy Drink on the counter and ran out to my car to scrape another $1.50 out of the dusty change bin in the center console of my car. Luckily, I had enough coin to complete my purchase, and the guy working the register was understanding.

But now I don’t have even that single buck in my wallet. Guess I’ll try to stretch for a few days without my morning energy drink fix. We’ve all got to make sacrifices these days. Perhaps I can find a coupon somewhere. At least I know from my observations this morning that I’m not the only one facing the crunch…

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By Cean Burgeson
(For Destination Cache Creek Magazine)

In nine years of ownership, Maloof Sports & Entertainment has guided the Sacramento Kings and ARCO Arena to unparalleled heights. Under the leadership of the Maloof family the Kings have made multiple NBA playoff appearances, recording 50-plus regular season victories five times, back-to-back Pacific Division titles in 2001-02 and 2002-03, and advancement to the 2002 Western Conference Finals.

Joe Maloof, president of the Maloof Companies, has found Cache Creek Casino Resort to be a good fit for his Kings as a marketing partner. “They have been with us for a long time and we are honored to have them as a Proud Partner of the Sacramento Kings,” said Maloof. “It’s our goal to provide the best fan experience, and Cache Creek helps us achieve that through their exciting and creative gifts and promotions, like the ‘Cache Creek Crew’ that gets our fans pumped up and throws out T-shirts throughout the game, and the Cache Creek/Kings-branded playing cards which they’ve given out as gifts at home games for the past three seasons. The team at Cache Creek has been tremendous for our organization to work with and they help add a lot of value for Kings fans,” said Maloof. “For example, I know fans love the ‘Cache Creek Question of the Game’ on our broadcasts. Everyone looks forward to seeing if Jerry Reynolds knows the answer.”

Never satisfied with the status quo, the Kings and Maloof Sports & Entertainment continue to explore ways to enhance the entertainment value to the nearly two million guests who enter through the ARCO Arena gateways annually. “At Maloof Sports & Entertainment, we want every experience for our customers to be the best – we want to have the best entertainment, the best dance team, the best food, the best lighting…everything should be the best for our fans,” said Maloof.

”We’re here to take care of people — that’s what we do,” he added. “We cater to customers. In Sacramento, the fans are our customers and providing a great experience for them is our goal.” Because of this devotion to creating quality entertainment for their fans, the Kings have ranked first in the NBA for overall fan experience twice in league-wide surveys conducted by J.D. Powers and Associates, proving that the best way to enjoy watching the Kings is still at a live game.

“We have an exciting young team with a tremendous amount of talent,” said Maloof. “We beat the Lakers earlier this year at home so you can really see what this team is capable of. Geoff Petrie, our President of Basketball Operations, is working hard to put all the right pieces in place, and we are trying to make the games as accessible as possible for fans in Sacramento to come see this exciting young team play in person.”

“We doubled the number of $10 tickets for all our home games, and we have a lot of ticket packages available that feature added value. We also take a lot of pride in our in-game entertainment. This year we invested in a new lighting and video projection system, and we are the only team in the Western Conference that has it. We thought it was an example of something really special that would enhance the experience for our fans.”

Tapping into the excitement of the team is part of what makes Cache Creek’s partnership with the Kings so successful. “There’s a lot of excitement and an adrenaline rush in the crowd during a game at ARCO Arena,” said Cache Creek’s Vice President of Marketing Mike Leonard. “That’s the same type of experience our guests look for when they visit our resort, so it makes a lot of sense that we share some of the same audience. Cache Creek’s fans are Kings fans.”

For home game ticket information, surf to: http://www.kings.com or call: (916) 649-8497.

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By CEAN BURGESON
(For Indian Gaming Magazine)

On the spacious patio at Cache Creek Casino Resort’s Yocha-De-He Golf Club sits a massive stone column with a majestic stone eagle perched on its top, adorned with 18 varieties of birds found throughout the surrounding Capay Valley. “When I created this, I was thinking about a really good game – 18 birdies for 18 holes,” jokes sculptor Doug Hyde, the Native American artist who created a group of statues to decorate the area surrounding the course’s new club house.

Made of limestone, which absorbs rather than reflects light, the large sculpture he described tells a story which sprung from Hyde’s imagination as he worked to create the piece on a ranch just down the road from Cache Creek. “As the day passes, each of these birds will stand out when the sun moves past them,” said Hyde.

It’s this attention to detail which makes the works of art come alive.

The experiences Hyde had while creating his art outside amongst the rolling hills of the valley contributed to the finished works as well. For instance, a rabbit that came almost daily to watch Hyde work was incorporated into the sculptures. Hyde playfully nicknamed the animal “Mulligan.”

“Every morning Mulligan would stand on the hill and watch me work,” said Hyde. “I had the opportunity to see a lot of other animals from the area up close too like deer, coyotes, eagles, wild turkey, and a bobcat – but luckily not the bears,” he joked.

In addition to the eagle, Hyde cut from pink Portuguese marble the figure of a deer being pursued by a pair of Native American hunters. The deer’s tracks are placed into the concrete in the clubhouse’s courtyard leading the stalkers to their prey. A playful bear cub and his mother watch the hunters and the dear nearby.

“The bears are placed right at the entrance,” said Hyde. Like the other sculptures, this one also tells a story. “The mother is turning over a log and looking for grubs,” he said, “and the baby is collecting pine cones, playing like a little kid.” A wasp’s nest on a stick sits across the cub’s lap. “He’s about to be in for a surprise,” said Hyde, who enjoys infusing a bit of humor into his art.

Other details are also evident in his highly stylized work, such as intricate leaves and foliage surrounding the animals, all cut carefully out of the stone in soft angles. In addition to an eye for detail, Hyde’s work displays a dedication to historical accuracy in his depiction of Native American people, in this case the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians. “In this piece you’ll see that the hunter gestures with his whole hand toward the deer,” said Hyde, “because Native American people don’t point with their finger. It’s bad manners.”

Hyde, who was born in Hermiston, Oregon of Native American descent, is influenced heavily by his heritage and takes pride in reflecting it through his work. “The Native American people are now trying to tell their own story. Sculpture is a really good way to do this because you can write the stories out and people might not read it — but with sculpture they can actually see it.”

The inspiration for the grouping of sculptures Hyde created came from the history of the very valley where the Wintun people lived for thousands of years. To prepare himself, he walked the area with Tribal Chairman Marshall McKay and learned the Tribe’s history in the valley. “All of these kinds of things I thought about to get my ideas for the final pieces,” said Hyde.

Using this type of detailed historical background information, one sculpture features an authentic woven fish trap held by a woman in period dress. A child next to the woman holds a fish that was caught in the trap. Viewing the two figures evokes a feeling of traveling back in time to see the origins of the Tribe and their heritage in the region.

After months of hard work, each completed piece has been lovingly placed amongst the landscape surrounding Yocha-De-He’s clubhouse. When speaking to the artist, it’s easy to see that he’s very proud of how all of the finished pieces came together. His labors and his vision have come to full fruition. “To me, it’s a culmination of 40 years of sculpture to do a grouping like this,” said Hyde.

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By CEAN BURGESON
(For Destination Cache Creek Magazine)

The long awaited clubhouse at Yocha-De-He Golf Club — which completed construction in January – is the finishing touch on what is already considered the premiere golf course in the region. “We’re really looking forward to allowing the public into our new facility this spring,” said Cache Creek’s Director of Golf Daniel Kane.

The 17,951 square foot facility containing about 9,000 square feet of public space includes a 1,400 square foot restaurant, a snack bar, a large multi-function room, lounge, bar, and a private function area in addition to serving as a pro shop. “There’s also a private patio with a beautiful fireplace and a covered outdoor section,” said Kane. “And the lower patio has a fire pit. The open design — utilizing glass doors — encourages an indoor/outdoor experience.”

Situated on a hill, the structure offers a commanding elevated view of the entire course and stands where the front nine holes begin and the back nine ends. “We want the clubhouse to be another facet of a golfer’s enjoyment of the course,” Kane explains. “From the lounge, people will be able to see other golfers playing key parts of their round.”

Much of the design work dealt with fitting the clubhouse seamlessly into the course without detracting from its natural beauty. “There was a great deal of effort made to place functional aspects into the design along with visually stimulating features such as the Native American themed courtyard sculptures and a real working olive orchard,” said John Mikacich, Cache Creek’s Director of Development.

The management staff of Yocha-De-He is excited about the completion of the clubhouse and anticipates an extremely favorable response from players. “The new building will serve as a gateway to the golf course and will truly add to the ‘golf experience’ we’ve worked so hard to set up here at Yocha-De-He,” said Kane.

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(For Rubber Magazine’s Parental Guidance)
By CEAN BURGESON

From October until March hockey dominates the households of thousands of families across California — but what about the other six months out of the year?

There are a number of ways to spend the off season. Some players take the entire time off. For skaters who need to work on their skills, though, this can be detrimental. On the flip side, for those experiencing “hockey burnout,” it can be a beneficial experience to take a break from hockey and return in the fall fresh.

After all, there are other sports to participate in that can help to improve hockey athleticism, endurance, flexibility, and stamina such as baseball, soccer, lacrosse, gymnastics, biking, running, or swimming. The benefit of cross training in other sports has been scientifically proven and the model of engaging in a variety of sporting activities in the off season has been used by European hockey clubs for years.

For those die hard players who aren’t interested in any sport but hockey, there are also inline teams which allow kids to continue working on their strength, skating, shooting and stick handling, and of course summer ice hockey teams, which practice less frequently and travel to just a handful of tournaments over the course of the summer. The value of these teams is that they are generally more competitive, have stricter tryouts, and can expose players to a high level of play, all the way up to AA or AAA.

Many of these tournaments are international in nature, allowing youngsters a chance to play teams outside of their region, state, or country. And, as in the case of my family, you can build your summer vacation around a tournament in a fun location such as Vancouver to get more for your hockey buck and infuse a little more fun into the trip.

Another popular way to keep the hockey fires burning in the off season is of course the hockey camp. California and the surrounding states have a number of good ones focusing on different skill sets. Evaluate your player or ask for an evaluation from your coach about which type of camp would best benefit your child.

We all have our own reasons for choosing how we want to spend our summers and whether hockey is a part of it. The most important factors to take into account when making the decision depend on the skill level of the player, their desire to play, and what their goals are for the coming season. No matter how your youth hockey player chooses to spend the summer, though, keep them working in some way to help get them to the next level.