I turned out for last night's Thrashers game in style -- a friend won a "night in the luxury box" raffle deal and I got in on the action. It's the fourth time that I've been in a luxury box but the first time that there was no chicanery involved at any point. I'll come out and say it: while I'm a man of the people and all, watching from a box is pretty sweet. I don't know if I can go back to mixing with the commoners now.
It largely flew under the radar, but best-Thrasher-ever Ilya Kovalchuk was traded to New Jersey this past week. This has led to some serious end-times talk among Thrashers fans, but I'm okay with it. His salary demands were such that signing him long-term would have blown out any chance at a deep team. They got one solid roster player (Oduya) and one who's likely to be solid (Bergfors). They got a prospect who was well-regarded up until he beat the shit out of some other guy, they got a pick. It's not a bad return. Lindros for half the Flyers deals don't happen any more.
The last Thrashers game I went to before this was a snoozer, and for one period this looked set to be awful -- thanks to the weather around DC, the team got back to Atlanta about two hours before gametime and they looked exhausted. It was a whole lotta suck. But then in between periods someone must have played positive thinking tapes, because jeezus, it was a different team that came out afterwards. Maxim Afinogenov, a guy I never really rate too highly, was flying. Tobias Enstrom was all over the place. Ron Hainsey and Zach Bogosian were solid. Evander Kane looked great.
The end, of course, was perfect: Bergfors scores the winner and gets first star (debatable whether it was really deserved, but who am I to critique a happy ending?). Nice big crowd for the game, too. I was expecting something south of 10,000 but that was the most packed I've seen Phillips in a while.
Hey, how about some really blurry photos?
Tomas Vokoun, vaguely aware that he is being watched.
Special Post-Pessimist Association points awarded if you can figure out the common theme in this photo.
This one's for Tapeleg: Zach Bogosian beats up on a Panther.
It's always fun to go through these photos the next day and determine the point when beer started affecting my photo choices.
And it all culminates in a sad testament to the impact of alcohol: I start photographing television screens. The expression on Johnny Oduya's face can best be described as "I was on a Stanley Cup contender 48 hours ago."
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#4 -- "The History of the Present" by Timothy Garton Ash
Despite my obsession with the former socialist bloc, I haven't read a lot of TGA's work. Not sure why -- I remember thinking "The File" was rather drab, and "The Magic Lantern" a bit self-centered. This, though, is (mostly) very good; essays tracing the region's path through the 1990s, after the fall of Communism. While the years leading up have been heavily covered, this looks at themes that aren't as publicized but ultimately may be more important -- the nations of central and eastern Europe searching for normalcy. The essays are printed as they were originally written as events happened, and while a few now seem outdated and irrelevant, for the most part the book is very insightful and has a new way of looking at familiar situations.