Archive for May, 2009

No spoiler alerts, folks. I despise ’em. Besides, if you’re a true fan you’ve already seen the season finale of “Lost.”

Here’s my take on what’s going on with the island gang, in their order of appearance on (hey, I had to pick some type of logic for my list, and this one made as much sense as the show itself.) Just consider this an open letter with some very good suggestions for the show’s writing staff on what we want to see happen next season.

Sayid: He killed Ben but he didn’t kill Ben. He got shot and will surely die but oh wait may not really die because everything that happened may not ever happen since “the incident” now never really happened.

Wha-wha-what!? (Insert needle off the record sound effect here.) It’s a complete and utter mess, I know, but my guess is that we won’t get rid of Sayid that easily. Besides, if he’s dead, who will head the Guatemala chapter of Habitat for Humanity?

Jack: All of the sudden Jack has climbed on board Locke’s “everything is our destiny” bandwagon and thinks that the island wants him to right all of the wrongs of the past. But maybe what Jack considers wrong is really what the island thinks is right?

And can we now say that the will of the island is really the will of Jacob since we’ve gotten a little peek at him and his meddling ways?

Hugo: Still fat but no longer filthy rich, he remains a constant source of comedy relief – and perhaps the only real constant on or off the island.

Sawyer: He’s bedded the two hottest women on the island (since Maggie Grace was killed off two seasons or so ago). In light of this fact, as far as I’m concerned everything that Sawyer does is GOLDEN.

I sincerely hope he can still hook back up with Juliet again whether they remember each other or not next season. That pairing just seemed to make a whole lot of sense. Having him chase after Kate again would seem contrived.

Jin: Always a bad ass and remarkable at quickly picking up a new language, Jin will be reunited soon with Sun. To do otherwise would cause mass rioting amongst the “Lost” faithful.

Sun: A little bitter since she left the island, hopefully reuniting with her husband will temper her anger a bit (see previous entry).

Kate: Let’s just say what everyone is thinking: Just go back with Jack and stop torturing us all! The love triangle is sooo season three.

Locke: Well it looks like the real Locke really is dead – but are we supposed to buy into the whole shape shifting impersonator story line?

And who is Jacob’s nemesis anyway? And where did those two come from? Obviously next season we’ll find out the answer, but did we really need to pose such major questions this late into the series?

Claire: At this point she’s been out of the picture so long I’m not sure I even care anymore. I do want Kate to find her and reunite her with Aaron, though. A promise is a promise. On a side note, did anyone think that Claire’s mom was a little on the young side? She could have been Claire’s slightly older and hotter sister. Just sayin’.

Charlie: Oh, Charlie, I miss you so. We didn’t get enough “back from the dead” guest appearances from you this season. By the way, are they ever going to tell us why Hurley sees dead people? Did Cuse, Lindelof and Abrams watch “The Sixth Sense” too many times?

Ben: Ben got bitch-slapped a lot this season, which was niiice. I like having him around just to see people like Desmond kick the shit out of him. I think he should have a bruise, cut, or splint in every episode, kind of like the ubiquitous band-aid sported by Les Nesman on “WKRP in Cincinnati.”

Desmond: Des, let me just sat that you are one bad-assed dude. You have time traveled, sailed the world, gotten shot and lived, and battled an evil multi-millionaire, and still ended up with the girl of your dreams. Can you tell that I can’t ever get enough of Desmond – which means that they will probably kill him off early next season. Perhaps even before the opening credits.

Juliet: Keep wearing those white tank tops and bending over to pick things up and you’ll be just fine. Plus it’s good for the ratings.

And don’t give up on Sawyer so easily. Jeez, she folded like a house of cards as soon as Kate showed up. Did anyone else think that seemed a bit out of character? At least she was able to detonate the bomb down in the well to remind us that she’s no wimp. Oh, she’ll be back next season. They can’t kill Juliet that easily. The “love quad” will live on.

Shannon: If the incident never happens and the plane never crashes then she’s still alive, right? ABC, please just give us one more sunbathing bikini scene…

Boone: You can stay dead.

Vincent the dog: Does anyone really care about the dog anymore? I did at one time but now I’m over the little mutt.

Walt: The show at one time seemed to revolve around him but he’s barely a footnote now. Is this by design or poor story development? Walt is one loose end that drives viewers more crazy than the origin of the smoke monster.

Daniel Faraday: He’s too interesting to kill off and too knowledgeable about the island to lose. He has to come back next season. He is the professor to Jack’s skipper.

Miles: He became a lot more likable this year but does little to advance the plot, so I’m sure they’ll bring him back next season just to irritate me.

Mr. Eko: Does he walk the island along with the other dead characters? And why? Do the dead characters hang out together and think of ways to torture the living ones? Could be a spin-off show.

Ana Lucia: Her cameo this season was spot-on, but we don’t need to see any more of her midriff bearing antics.

Libby: Please bring back Hugo’s love interest. The poor guy is overweight, recently poor, and it doesn’t look like his “Empire Strikes Back” script will ever make it back to the mainland. Throw the guy a bone, will ya?

Rose and Bernard: They’re living on the beach in seclusion all lovey dovey and don’t have a care in the world. They don’t even mind if they die in a nuclear holocaust. A little too neat and tidy, but I guess it works for me. Could Bernard please fashion a comb out of a coconut husk and tame that wild hairdo, though? Whoof!

Richard Alpert: Let us in on who he is, how old he really is, and what his true purpose is already. We can handle the truth.

Charlotte: You knew once she died that Daniel wasn’t far behind. He had nothing left to live for.

Tom: Am I the only one that wants a little back story on “Mr. Friendly?” And why he throws a football like a girl?

Rousseau: Okay, we saw young Rousseau go nutty but we don’t know why. A little help, here?

Jack’s Dad: The undead need to be explained thoroughly early in season six or we’re all going to smash in our plasma screens.

Okay, I’m pretty far down the list on Internet Movie Database and there are still a boatload of characters I haven’t mentioned. I guess I don’t really care about the rest of them.

By way of conclusion I’ll say that there definitely is a hole in my life every Wednesday night until next season’s premiere that won’t easily be filled by DVR’d episodes of “Entourage” and “Tru Blood.” I will, however, find some way to carry on until then.

>Loose slots

Posted: May 4, 2009 in Gambling

For Destination Cache Creek Magazine

You see it on casino billboards or hear it during radio commercials: “We have the loosest slots!”

But what does that really mean?

“Loose slots refers to how much time or entertainment value you get out of your dollar,” says Russell Kinney, Cache Creek Casino Resort’s Vice President of Slots. “It’s really about the amount of time you’re able to spend on a machine and how much payback there is from a machine to a guest.” Players can play $100 in a casino and play for maybe a half hour, but the same $100 in another casino might net them over an hour’s worth of play. “In the second case you’re getting more paybacks and more value,” says Kinney.

How far slot players can stretch their gaming dollar is an important factor in having a good experience at a casino and is given a lot of thought by Cache Creek’s slot management team. “When we opened this casino we wanted to have a very competitive payback,” says Kinney. “We know when guests come out here they want to be able to play longer on the machines and have more entertainment. Part of that comes from offering Bonus Play. When players come here with a set budget, their ability to play more is increased by the amount of Bonus Play we give them. Through our direct mail offers we give away millions of dollars of this free play every month.”

Kinney also likes to remind players that they earn points for playing with their Cache Club cards, which adds to the entertainment value of slot play. “We have one of the most competitive point programs in California. With those points you can get food, hotel rooms, rounds of golf, spa treatments, or one of our new gift cards.”

Some players think that casinos are constantly “tightening” or “loosening” their slots, but Kinney says this is a common misconception. What slot experts and experienced players consider “loose” when referring to slot machines involves a number of different considerations that go far beyond the set payout percentage for each machine.

“Loose slots are more about the total slot experience,” says Kinney. “For instance, we offer slot value in a number of other ways. Another way is through our promotions, which are almost always running. So the total slot experience comes from a combination of factors including payback to the guest, amount of time spent playing a machine, bonus play, points, and promotions. All of these contribute to the total entertainment value that our guests are looking for when they come to Cache Creek.”

So when all of these factors are taken into consideration, Cache Creek really does have the “loosest” slots in Northern California.

>Planning for next hockey season

Posted: May 4, 2009 in Hockey


Parental Guidance with CEAN BURGESON
for California Rubber Magazine

Whether you’re involved in a summer hockey program or you’re done playing until next season, the thought still looms above our collective hockey parent heads: What will we do next fall? Every year, players migrate into other sports, drop out, or move from one hockey program to another. There are a number of different reasons these things happen.

What if your rink only has an “A” team and your son or daughter doesn’t make the cut? Or transversely, what if your association only fields a “B” team and you want your player to skate on an “A” team? These are the kinds of dilemmas that give hockey parents critical levels of heartburn. Kids face the possibility of leaving the friends they’ve made, facing the hurt of missing a cut, or possibly moving out of hockey altogether. Or parents are left with the decision between playing their child down or up a level. Each avenue carries its own set of additional issues. It can be enough to drive a hockey parent mad.

These decisions should be solely dependant on one factor: Skill Based Hockey. What I mean by this is doing the best we can as hockey associations, coaches, and parents to place our youth athletes on teams that properly fit their playing style, ability, and skill level, while offering the greatest chance for player growth. This means putting “A” players on “A” teams and “B” players on “B” teams, or keeping a house player on a house team for another year to give them a little more seasoning before going on to play travel hockey.

Using and reinforcing the skill based hockey model in every association in the state of California is the best way for youth players to get the most out of their hockey experience and creates the least amount of grief for both the parent — and most importantly — the player. Please keep this in mind when making plans for tryouts this July to assure that all of our players have the most fun and fruitful season possible next year.


for California Rubber Magazine

VACAVILLE, Calif. – The Vacaville Jets Squirt B squad did everything they were asked to do and more this season. For starters, they lost only a single game during league play and finished with a record of 17-1. They also went on to win four California tournaments including the Pacific Regional of the International Silver Stick competition, which earned them a spot in the championship tournament in Pelham, Ontario, Canada. Despite playing against more experienced teams with deeper rosters in that Canadian contest (the Jets have only 12 players including their goalie), they still managed to finish within the top four. And to win their own home tournament, the MLK I-80 Classic in February, they had to tie or beat two Squirt A teams to earn the first place trophy.

The Jets also finished in first place in NorCal, winning all of the games in the playoff tournament, earning them the right to travel to Escondido and play the best Squirt B teams in the state. There, they finished third in California behind the Anaheim Jr. Kings and Bakersfield Dragons. This was the second season in a row the team has made the trip to the state finals.

Overall, during the regular season they put up some amazing statistics: 160 goals for with only 25 goals against, and a winning percentage of .944, leading the league in all categories. These figures don’t include any of the totals they racked up from the six tournaments they played in, either.

“All in all, this was an incredible season for the Squirt B’s,” said Assistant Coach Cean Burgeson. “Whether these players are moving on to play Pee Wee or staying at the Squirt level, we can’t wait to see how they all do next year.”

Parental Guidance
For California Rubber Magazine

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.