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17/02/2011 / Hackett

An Oldie but a Goodie…

Dead Moon’s “It’s OK” as used in Pearl Jam’s 2000 rendition of Daughter at Jones Beach in New York…

This is my chance, this is my life,
And I’m alone in an alleyway,
This is my chance, this is my voice,
There may be no tomorrow, no
This is plea, this is my need,
And my time is standing free,
This is my step, this is my day,
And in a new world let’s never say…

It’s okay…

It’s okay, you know I love you anyway
It’s okay, you don’t have to run and hide away
It’s okay
It’s okay
It’s okay
It’s okayyyyyyeahhhhhaaaaohhhayaaahhhhhhhhhhhh
*dances*
It’s OK.
Peace.
-Hackett
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25/01/2011 / Hackett

Packers Fans Want the WHOLE Team in the Picture

ROCK THE VOTE PACKERS FANS! GO PACK GO!!

Now Playing: Pearl Jam – Ten

Many of you who follow me on Twitter and are friends of mine on Facebook aren’t fans of the Green Bay Packers, but there are quite a few of you out there, so this may interest you.

In case you haven’t heard, the Packers are taking their team photo on Tuesday the week before they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.  The problem lies in the fact that the fifteen players that ended the season on the injured reserve list aren’t arriving with the rest of the team, and they won’t reach Dallas until Thursday, leaving them out of the team photo.

The team has cited logistical difficulties due to the extraordinarily high number of players currently on I.R. as the reason for this decision, but that reasoning is far from sufficient for many of us “Packer Backers”. 

So in order to make our voices heard, we have taken to the social media landscape and launched an online petition asking the organization to reconsider their position and make the necessary changes to allow all the players to appear in the team photograph. Please take a moment to read it, sign it if you agree with it, and pass it along to anyone you think it may interest. View the petition here.

Thanks for helping us get our voice heard! GO PACK GO!!

-Hackett

10/01/2011 / Hackett

My 2010 of 140: The Year of the Tweet

Now Playing: Pearl Jam – Live at the Garden (8 July 2003)

Day after day I get mocked and chided by family and friends for being on “the Twitter”. Many of these people are also on Facebook, but call Twitter “stupid” and “useless”. How’s that for speaking out of both sides of your mouth? I do my best to explain the benefits and enjoyment I get out of Twitter and social media as a whole, but it often seems as if they are predisposed to latch on to their sheltered opinions no matter what. So, to put a bow on 2010 and launch into the new year, I’ve decided to give a much more long-winded explanation of my unequivocal love for “the Twitter”.

My twitter account was created 21 May 2009. For the first few months, it took some getting used to. I’d had Facebook since sometime in 2005 or so, but was never totally enamored with it. When I discovered Twitter, that relationship only worsened. I would update with random stuff, mostly the things that people who don’t “get” Twitter perceive it as, i.e. “I’m brushing my teeth”, or “BEST. LUNCH. EVER.” Then the 2009-2010 NHL season rolled around, and, as they say, “sh*t got SERIOUS”. I found Twitter to be an incredibly useful tool to connect with fellow hockey, and more specifically, Chicago Blackhawks fans.

This led to some incredibly fun and fantastic opportunities. I eventually got asked to write for some fantastic sites, namely NHL Hot Stove and View From My Seats, as well as starting my own blog (that’s this one, genius) which deals with whatever the hell I want it to, from Blackhawks, to breakups, to Brett Favre, and sometimes even things that don’t start with B.

I am very grateful for the opportunities to write for these sites and have the chance to subject people to my (often alcohol and hockey adrenaline-fueled) ramblings. In addition to the blogs to which I contribute (albeit FAR too infrequently) I have even been asked to join some podcasts. I was invited to be a “counterpoint” voice with the boys in Smashville at CellBlock 303 during last season’s playoffs as well as co-jackass on the Hockeenight puckcast early in the current season. Take a listen, they were BOTH a freaking blast.

I love that I now have an outlet for which I am able to not only able to engage in, but let alone promote, the things that I love, those being writing, hockey, and music. The unfortunate thing is that I do not do it often enough. I resolve to correct that in 2011.

Do you know what it’s like to interact with people from all over the planet during the Olympics via a single hashtag (#Van2010)? I’ve never cared about curling more in my life. Do you think I would have ANY contact with Nashville Predators fans, let alone be invited to talk hockey with them were it not for Twitter? And one of the more chilling nights on Twitter, I watched

Photo Courtesy of Alex Ruiz

 as reporters (in this case Alex Ruiz) captured quotes and pictures as the Calgary Flames suddenly traded Olli Jokinen immediately following a game.  Look at the shock and disbelief in his eyes.  It was surreal to watch this play out 140 characters at a time.

As cool as all of that is, it pales in comparison to the personal connections that I have made through social media (read: mostly Twitter).  The first time I told a friend that I was hanging out with someone I had met from Twitter it was incredibly awkward.  I felt like a Craigslist creeper or, if possible, worse.  Since then I have grown accustomed to the fact that it’s a huge and undeniable part of my life now.  The way Twitter is set up with lists, hashtags, and directories such as weFollow, makes finding people who share common interests easy with just a few clicks. 

One of the lists I have set up on my personal Twitter account is titled “IRL”.  No, it is not a compilation of race car drivers, but rather has the following description:  “I know for a fact these people exist. I’ve seen (and in some cases, touched) them”.  It’s obviously people I’ve met, whether before or after joining Twitter, but the list is made up in large part of people with whom I have become connected since becoming a tweet-a-holic. 

There is Emily, my “sistah from anotha mistah” who came in from Las Vegas

Me and Emily Stanley Cup Weekend

 for the Blackhawks Stanley Cup parade and rally and helped at least try and take my mind off of the rather less than thrilling events of that weekend.  Ya did good, girl.  Speaking of Sin City, Meredith, one of Emily’s dear friends from the Vegas, has also visited several times.  While I can drink her under the table before the appetizers show up, she never fails to go toe-to-toe talking hockey.  There is Jen Jen, who first emailed me and asked me to be one of the co-conspirators on one of my favorite hockey websites, A View From My Seats, who came to visit on a couple of occasions, and whose smile never fails to brighten up otherwise cloudy days.  Thanks for staying up late and helping me edit my ramblings, Jen Jen.

There’s also my Blackhawks convention crew of lady puckheads: Heather, Lindsey (I spelled your name right!), Erin, Ashley and Tina (whom I’ve known for QUITE some time before Twitter).  We tore through that place with a rolling cooler of beer and rabid fandom that left people with mouths agape. 

Then there was the Training Camp Festival.  I remember the first year this was held, I had to go by myself as I had no one that was 1. Aware of its existence; and 2. Willing to shake off a hangover that early on a Saturday. 

Paging Doctor Johnsson...

 Most of the responses I got were akin to the famed Allen Iverson press conference.  This year was a decidedly different story, as Kelly and Andrew from Blackhawks DL sat with me and joined in my buffoonery with wicked gusto. We knocked a few kids out of the way at the Sharpie sponsored sign making table to show our “love” for the ghost of Kim Johnsson, and proceeded to mark every tally in the scrimmages with a goal call in the style of the one and only Randy Moller. I won’t lie, that was the genesis of my “goal tweets” that have either annoyed you or cracked you up all season long.

If you can believe it, I’ve actually made some friends outside of the hockey world through the magic of Twitter. Somehow, I stumbled upon the FIJI Urban Hunt through Miss Leyla Arsan. You can read about the incredible experience here, as my college buddy Mike and I cruised through the city uncovering clues and burning through our cell phone batteries at a breakneck pace. Then, through the people I met there, I came to be part of the #latenightcrowd. These are my fellow insomniacs and social butterflies that do not shut things down when The Late Show comes on, rather, they are just getting things rolling. The nightly check-ins and monthly tweetups (and FAR too much Malört, THANKS MIKE!!) keep this one of the most interesting groups I follow.

I can’t forget Jason, who works for a very nice restaurant franchise (I’m not talking Applebee’s here, folks), and came to Chicago on business, and treated me and a lady-friend to a fantastic meal and even strong-armed the staff into allowing us to watch the Hawks rough up the Canucks in this high-end establishment. We then proceeded to close his bar, then the one down the street (I won’t mention how he dropped a beer after closing time…oh, whoops…) and then grabbed a much needed breakfast at somewhere around 4am…on a Wednesday.

Most recently, a Chicago native transplanted to the left coast came home for the holidays and graced yours truly with her presence for a few evenings. I

D'awwwwwww..!

got to meet Jen when she came in for Christmas, and proceeded to take her to my favorite Christmas party, that of halfway jane and friends. I would forego any and all other Christmas parties for this one. Jen was lucky enough to be my date for the night. I’m confident enough to say she had fun with me even if she hadn’t stolen my hat (and looked better in it than I did…but you didn’t hear that from me).

Unfortunately, this year hasn’t been a complete win for yours truly. In all honesty, I’ve lost quite a bit. I’d rather not dwell on the obvious, but it’s pretty apparent that I’m a (relatively) recently single man. Aside from that, tremendous strain has been put on more than a few relationships this year, some unavoidable, but others due to my own bullheadedness and immaturity. I’ve hurt and been hurt by people that I care about, but have also been propped up and saved by them as well. Some of these misdeeds are beyond reproach and repair, but I take flipping the calendar as an opportunity to correct what I can and move forward. To those I’ve wronged, whether I am aware of it or not, you deserve better in my hands; and I apologize.

Thanks for a great year friends, you are all a significant and enjoyable part of my life. I’m lucky to have all of you.

Peace, and LET’S GO HAWKS!!!

-Hackett

No matter how cold the winter, there’s a springtime ahead

I’m thumbing my way back to heaven

-Vedder

05/01/2011 / Hackett

My Hockey Psychosis

Now Playing: Girl Talk – All Day

In advance of tonight’s Dallas Stars visit to the United Center to face the Blackhawks, I’d like to share with you a glimpse into the depths of my hockey psychosis.  It seems that it enters, albeit in very strange ways, into my subconscious.

Now, I’ve been having some very strange dreams lately, and while some of them have been more of the disturbing variety, this one was just too funny to share.  Now many of you that find your way here are familiar with hockey, at least with the Blackhawks, and know that Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith were among the only six players selected to the 2011 NHL All Star Game. (The rest of the players will be…know what, I’ll go through that in a different post.)  So there’s a chance that Toews will be one of the two captains this year.  That immediately got me thinking about how sweet a #19 All Star jersey with the C on it would be.  I’m going to assume that this was also part of the genesis for this strange stream of sub consciousness. 

In this particular dream, I was on Ice Jerseys (a one-stop shop for all things hockey on the web) selecting my brand-new sweater.  For some strange reason, the post-Christmas deal was buy one Hawks jersey, and get two free Stars jerseys.  As I’m kind of a fan of the Stars (great young team, Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn are going to be REAL good, Team USA Juniors goaltender Jack Campbell in their system…) I didn’t mind so much, especially as it came with free customization.

Now, I don’t remember the customization part of the dream, but fast forward to the jerseys arriving, and I had assumed I picked Eriksson, Benn, or even former Blackhawk Adam Burish.  Imagine to my surprise and complete DERRRRP-face when I unwrapped them and the back of not, but BOTH read Stempniak.  Yes, as in Lee Stempniak of the St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs and Phoenix Coyotes.  Yeahhhhhh, I have NO clue.  But I thought this was humorous enough to share with you all.

That’s all I got. ‘Til next time kids, peace out.

LET’S GO HAWKS!!!

-Hackett

24/11/2010 / Hackett

Blackhawks Stuff I Couldn’t Care Less About

Now Playing: Led Zeppelin – How the West Was Won

Humans are an interesting breed.  They (OK, we) love drama, celebrity gossip, and all that goes along with it.  When you analyze the subset that is sports fans, it really isn’t that much different, for the most part.  This point is hammered home (albeit ad nauseum) when you look at the last two seasons for the Chicago Blackhawks.  There has been so much press and discussion around this team that has absolutely nothing to do with the game of hockey, it’s a bit maddening. 

To start with, I understand the connection a fan base develops with certain players, especially when they win a championship with your favorite team.  But to hear/read that some people will be on the verge of tears seeing former Hawks netminder Antti Niemi manning the opposing cage tonight is a bit extreme.  My opinion on the team’s decision aside, Niemi is now standing in the way of a Blackhawks win, and on a larger scale, possibly a title defense, and must be treated as such.  The first time he is introduced at the United Center this season, I will clap and show my appreciation for his fantastic efforts here.  After that, in my eyes, he’s wearing the color teal, and that alone is grounds for torment. 

Another “story” I can’t bring myself to give a damn about is the team’s trip to Las Vegas over their three-day break this week.  I’m not sure why everyone NEEDS to know what they did, where they did it, with whom they did it, how much it cost and why weren’t they spending that time preparing, practicing, and/or looking at film.  Look, I recognize that since the infamous incident last season in Vancouver there has been a big brother-esque flashlight cast upon this squad’s off-ice adventures, but just because they are professional athletes doesn’t mean they can’t take a few days off in the midst of a long road trip (and much longer season) to enjoy themselves and blow off a little steam.  (Yes, I realize the team did publicize the trip themselves, likely in order to drum up a little coverage.) 

Maybe it’s just that after years of being relegated to second-tier coverage (not only for the Blackhawks, but the entire league), I’m not quite used to seeing the Blackhawks leading the headlines, sometimes more notably for their activities away from the game than on the ice.  I’m not saying there isn’t an element of psychology that plays into the Blackhawks facing their former goaltender tonight, that would just be naïve.  I also know that it makes for much sexier storylines and interviews, it’s just being a bit overblown.  I, for one, won’t shed a tear for the one affectionately known here as “Nemo” if the Hawks perforate him for a half-dozen in the first period.  He’s a professional, and he (read: his agent) made the decision to seek more money elsewhere (yeah, how’d that go for ya?). 

The main point here is that I’d rather the discussion surrounding the Blackhawks (and hockey in general, for that matter) revolve more around the sport than the peripheral activities of the players.  People (myself included) have questioned this team’s focus in the early-going, and this sort of intense scrutiny is definitely something that could be affecting that.  The unfortunate reality is that the mercurial rise in popularity of this team invariably comes with increased exposure, and it’s not likely to just go away.  I don’t want to tell anyone how to be a fan, so I won’t, but this is my blog, and I’ll express my opinions as I see fit, dammit!

As always, your thoughts and reactions are encouraged.  Whatcha got for me, folks?!

-Hackett

31/10/2010 / Hackett

A Dandy Warhol-oween in Chicago

The stage was set and moments after the second song in the Portland-based trio’s set, it was clear the night was going to be a special one, not unlike every time they visit the Windy City.  After cranking out a crunching rendition of We Used to be Friends, flaxen-coifed frontman Corey Taylor-Taylor took a second to tie back his lengthy locks while declaring he was “done eating [his] hair”, to a chorus of chuckles from the costume-clad Chicago crowd.  He then looked out over his audience and, in the most coy manner possible, questioned: “Ready..?”

As with all of the Dandy Warhols shows I’ve seen, the energy took a similar arc.  Starts off straight and strong, with driving guitar riffs and pronounced choruses.  It then melts into long, psychadelic jams often quarterbacked by the always-lovely Zia McCabe on keyboard and sound effects before closing with rip-roaring versions of fan-favorites to send the faithful fans home with  smiles for miles.  The extended instrumental segments built up the anticipation so that when the first chords of Bohemian Like You were struck, the historic Vic Theatre was up for grabs. 

The set also included gems like The Last High, a song which Taylor co-penned with long-time Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando that ironically has Chicago roots.  Taylor explained: “This song is about a girl I used to date that was from Chicago.  She was 6’3″, and she would wear these heels, well, like Stevie Nicks-type boots, which made her like 6’7″.  I’m not a small man, but, damn.”  Towards the end of the night, the group completely tore through a hard-charging delivery of Boys Better (a personal favorite) which, to be honest, really completed the already stellar setlist for yours truly. 

One of the things I really dig about the Warhols is that they never do encores.  For the most part, encores are just posturing, and to me, the time the band spends off stage waiting for the (usually) inevitable applause to bring them back out is time better spent plying their trade for the crowd.  They played for a shade over two hours, and didn’t waste a second, as even when Zia needed to use the little girls’ room, Taylor stayed onstage and treated the crowd with a campfire-esque sing-along to Holiday.  

While I think it’s a bit sad that I attended this fine spectacle of rock by myself for lack of fans of the group in my immediate circle of friends, I must say it was nice not to have to strain my ears to hear the musings of a companion during a raucous jam or thrashing guitar solo.   That’s not to say none of you aren’t welcome to join me at my next rock ‘n roll outing…

Rock on.

-Hackett

13/10/2010 / Hackett

Summer is the Cruelest Month…Cruelest Month

Now Playing: The Dandy Warhols – Welcome to the Monkeyhouse

So it’s no secret that I’m a bit of a sports fan, more specifically, an outright hockey junkie, my team of choice being the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.  I enjoy baseball to an extent, but other than the occasional competitive season by the White Sox and/or Brewers, the time between hockey seasons is more or less a lull in the sports world for me.  Don’t get me wrong, the annual Brewers Tailgate is one of the highlights of my summer, and I always love spending an afternoon or evening tipping back a few at a ballgame, but I certainly don’t get as competitively immersed in the intricacies of the game or the team as I do with hockey between October and early June. 

So with my Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup this past June and being one of two teams to take the season to the limit, you’d think that there would have been the least amount of down time for me, right?  Unfortunately, it seems that even the shortest of offseasons disagrees with me.

As you may or may not have read here previously, this summer started with something less than a bang.  A scant 18 hours after the Hawks first hoisted the Cup I lost the love of my life.  Faaaaaaantastic.  It proved to be quite the heartbreaking harbinger of a crap-tacular summer to come. 

I was in the less than envious of looking for a new place to live on the absolute shortest of timetables: Immediate.  After inevitably wearing out my welcome at a friend’s place, I had to stash myself and my belongings at my parents’ house in the suburbs (something that, well, let’s say they were less than thrilled about).  I eventually found a place, albeit not big enough to accommodate my hoarder-ish tendencies, with a roommate whose schedule agrees with mine (read: he manages a bar, so neither of us sleep at night). 

This offseason was also filled with car troubles, health issues, and me losing my Zune.  For those of you who understand how much music means to me, you know how devastating this was.  Then, just as we were on the cusp of the brand new hockey season and it seemed I was about to clear the tall grass, my grandmother passed away mere hours before the preseason kicked off. 

This wasn’t exactly a sudden development, as Grandma Betty had been battling Alzheimer’s for several years as well as many physical ailments that were causing her so much pain, but as all of us know, whether expected or not, losing a loved one is never easy. 

This just seemed to bookend the worst summer in a morbidly fitting way.  In my opinion, there is no city that offers more in the summer months than Chicago.  There are street fests catering to any and all tastes each weekend, a handful of gorgeous beaches, beer gardens, beautiful public parks, an incredible lakefront, and mostly breathtaking weather.  However, this summer, I found myself too bogged down by personal wear and tear to enjoy the fruits of the best city in the world. 

It’s unfortunate, because I’ve been told by a lot of friends lately “I miss you, Hackett”.  I know, I miss me too.  I haven’t been myself for quite some time, and I’m anxious to return to that.  The good news is, with the 2010-2011 hockey season kicking off, I will be at least much closer to what most consider “me”.  I will again be covering the Blackhawks and NHL for NHL Hot Stove and View From My Seats, and I can once again dive head first into one of the only loves I have left: hockey.  Not to mention, with the chillier weather, I can stop ironing my dress shirts and just wear a freaking sweater.  Fellas, don’t tell me you don’t love that…

-Hackett