Been a long time since I've done one of these. Too long.
Libor Zabransky, 1996-97 Worcester Icecats home jersey. There's a lot of mid-'90s minor league type stuff here that normally bugs me; the "Ice" prefix on a team name, the cartoon mascot, the funky letters and numbers. Nonetheless: I love this jersey.
I don't know if Bush League Factor ever took on the Icecats -- I think defunct teams are removed from the site, right? -- but there's a lot to work with here. The jovially snarling Icecat, apparently decapitated by a hockey stick, with a mountain range (does Massachusetts have mountains?) in the background, all on top of a big "W". I don't know what it all means.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the trend toward funky lettering start with the Tampa Bay Lightning? Yes? No? If so, they have a lot to answer for. In the 1990s, if you went to a jersey designer and said "give me something hip! Something extreme! Something the Offspring would like!" you'd get something like this.
Despite all this '90s excess, and all these criticisms, I love this jersey. It's giant (Zabransky was 6'3", 230), it's heavy. I don't mind the teal or turqoise or whatever that shade is. It's a jersey that got heavy use, and it's got a lot of character.
A claw-mark motif shows up throughout -- I think "Scratch" was the Icecats' mascot. I should note that I unironically love the back-number 5 with chunks torn out of it.
Do a Google search on "Marane oil heat," and about half the responses are in reference to Icecats jerseys. I'm gonna guess that means the company isn't around any more, but I could be wrong.
A bit on Zabransky: he was a big Czech defenseman, a late-round pick of the Blues in 1995. He was over here for two seasons, split between the NHL and AHL; I'm not totally positive but I think he was pretty injury-prone. He went back to the Czech Republic afterwards and played a few years for HC Vsetin, HC Sparta Praha and HC Pardubice, but had to retire really young due to a heart condition.
In recent years, he purchased the PPA's official team, HC Kometa Brno, and has done nicely with them -- as previously noted in this space, under his watch they've gone from insolvency back to the first division. There's an article on the team and Libor here.
(as always, jersey post concept originated by Mr. Tap E. Leg)
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#33 -- "The Throat" by Peter Straub
This is the third book in a loosely-connected trilogy that also included the much-loved (by me) "Mystery," and honestly, I remember being pretty disappointed by it when it came out. I understand why, though I'm over it now -- at the time I wanted more adventures of Tom Pasmore, Sarah Spence and Lamont von Heilitz, but the latter two are only mentioned and Pasmore's a supporting character.
Never mind any of that, because this is a very strong book -- stronger than "Mystery," maybe, though occasionally really frustrating. Timothy Underhill (a character in "Koko" -- don't remember if he's in "Mystery" at all) comes back to his hometown to try to solve decades-old serial killings that seem to have started up again. It's very tightly plotted, very compelling, and it caught me off guard (even though it was a re-read) several times. I liked it much more than I remembered.
The frustrations mostly come from the characters (and some of it's by design). Underhill is a bit of a flaky character, and there's never a question of him taking responsibility for the way his (sometimes rash) decisions impact others. That, at least, is part of his character. More irritating is John Ransom, a supporting character and one of the main parts of the book -- his personality changes from curious intellectual to overgrown frat guy depending on what is needed from him at that part of the book. Very inconsistent and it seemed like there were just a bunch of rotating cardboard characters, all bearing his name.
Still, a great read. I'll get back to "Koko" one of these days, to finish it off.