1. Of all the Federal holidays that we mark each year, the one that means the most to me personally is Veterans Day, when we honor all of those who have sworn oaths to sacrifice everything they have (including their lives, if necessary) to defend the rights and privileges we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America, when called upon by our lawfully elected leaders to do so. Here’s a link to an article I wrote a couple of years ago on this most solemn of holidays: Veterans Day. I don’t think I can improve upon it. Make it a point to thank a soldier, sailor, aviator or Marine today, and keep the families and loved ones of those serving abroad close to your hearts as well, today and throughout the year.
2. I had to drive around for 15 extra minutes on my way to work this morning when the title track of the greatest classic progressive rock album ever released came on the car stereo. It’s such an inexorably, relentlessly knotty and propulsive piece of work that I always feel guilty stopping it before it reaches its climactic movement. Which song and album is it, and how do I know that it’s the greatest classic progressive rock album ever released? Here’s the answer. (You can scroll to the bottom of the page for the album title, or read all 26,000 words leading up to the decision, depending on your level of music geekiness).
3. The National Hockey League (NHL) has made a lot of blunders over the years, culminating in the loss of a complete season due to labor meltdowns a few years ago. Since then, though, they’ve been innovative and scrappy at trying to figure out new ways to develop new fans in new markets. I read about a new NHL policy this morning that I think is the best sports marketing idea I’ve heard in ages. For this year’s All-Star Game, the fans will select six players via traditional balloting, then the remainder of the roster will be filled by the NHL, with 42 players being selected in total. The players will then elect two captains and two co-captains, and the captains will pick their teams, playground style, regardless of conference or division affiliation. Since no one really cares whether the Eastern or Western Conference wins, and the United States vs The World concept seemed sort of jingoistic and divisive (not to mention the fact that treating Finland, Russia, Serbia and Canada as though they were somehow united in their foreignness was absurd), this strikes me as a brilliant way to let (arguably) the world’s best professional hockey players create a game that actually means something to them personally. I look forward to seeing how the “draft” works out, not to mention watching who the last player picked is, and how he reacts to that dubious honor. I’m guessing it’s an experience that none of these guys have ever gone through before, and I suspect the player so snubbed will skate and shoot with some extra vigor when game-time comes. Well played, NHL. Well played indeed.