Dec 3, 2011

For Better Or For Worse, translated into mock Swedish

Earlier today on The Twitter, we were talking about the decreasing quality of For Better or For Worse, and I was inspired to dig up a zine that I published in high school.

The zine was called "YOU'RE TOO UGLY FOR TV", released May 1, 1995. Somehow I was able to submit it as a project for English class.  (Received an A+.)

It was 12 pages, photocopied at the local staples.  I typed out the articles on my dad's 30-year-old Olympia typewriter. I wrote some of the articles, and a few friends contributed columns.  One of those friends went on to become a well-known journalist.  Another was later exposed as a plagiarist and I now suspect his/her entry in the zine was not original.

It was fascinating to read through it.  Part media critique, part found photos, mostly fun.  I had much the same sense of humour and similar writing style as I do now.  Example: "When Hercules held up his fist and shouted "OLYMPIA!", he was shouting for this brand of typewriter."   

At 120 characters, that's a direct precursor to the kinds of mildly amusing tweets that I write every day over 16 years later.

But here's the page that made me rummage through the old boxes in the basement in the first place.  It's the storyline from For Better or For Worse where Farley dies while helping to rescue the family's youngest daughter.  (Heavy stuff.)

I took the text and ran it through a mock-Swedish translation web site. Here is the result (click for larger view):

Nov 27, 2011

World's Smallest Pancake, November 27, 2011

Created in Stittsville, Ontario. This is a standard-sized dinner plate and fork.  Photo has not been altered in any way.

Nov 12, 2011

VIDEO: Creepy dancing Santa Claus, seen today at Lowe's

Dancing Santa, seen today at Lowe's Home Improvement retail outlet in Hazeldean Road in Stittsville, Ontario. Retailing for around $129.99 (I think). The children were scared.  Hip swaying like this is still illegal in several U.S. states and parts of Alberta.

Oct 2, 2011

VIDEO: Red, Black & White - The Heritage Uniform

Here's a video I produced for the Ottawa Senators / Sens TV. Back in 2007, a Gatineau-based graphic designer named Jacob Barrette posted a jersey concept to a message board. Four years later, and the Sens skating out wearing a jersey inspired by that design.

 The title of the video borrows from a line in the original constitution of the Ottawa Hockey Club: "“The colours of the Association shall be red, black and white.”


Jul 28, 2011

Renovations to St. Pete Times Forum include a new pipe organ and Tesla coils for lightning

Some notes from a article about renovations to St. Pete Times Forum this summer:

  • Fifty-four flatbeds worth of concrete were removed from two upper-deck end zone seating sections. Five-hundred seventy-four seats gave way to a pipe organ, which will have a bar on either side, a fixture Leiweke hopes becomes a staple of the arena, similar to the pirate ship in the Raymond James Stadium end zone.
  • Another signature addition will be Tesla coils on either side of the scoreboard that will shoot lightning 25 feet.
  • A new lighting system will add more brightness to the arena, which will enhance the experience for hockey fans at the game and watching on TV. Leiweke said the Forum was one of the darkest surfaces in the NHL. The improved lighting will now allow super slow-motion technology to be utilized.

Jul 27, 2011

VIDEO: Phineas and Ferb perform the L.A. Dodgers stadium conduct rules

Absolutely brilliant video. Saw this at the IDEA conference earlier this month in Kansas City.

Jul 20, 2011

Detroit Red Wings Budd Lynch Bobblehead

Budd Lynch.  PA Announcer for the Detroit Red Wings since 1985. A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. This bobblehead was a hand-out to fans at Joe Louis Arena back in 2009. See also: Rene Rancourt Bobblehead.

Jul 18, 2011

A ton of cool NHL jobs up for grabs in Ottawa, Vancouver, Washington, Boston, Pittsburgh and more

From TeamWorkOnline:

Director of Radio Broadcasting/Play-by-Play Broadcaster - Washington Capitals (Washington, DC) 

New Media Coordinator - Pittsburgh Penguins (Pittsburgh, PA) 

Promotions Team Member - Vancouver Canucks (Vancouver, BC) 

Vice President, Communications - Senators Sports & Entertainment (Ottawa, On) 

Motion Graphics Designer - Pittsburgh Penguins (Pittsburgh, PA) 

Emcee - Phoenix Coyotes (Glendale, AZ) 

Canucks TV and In-Game Host - Vancouver Canucks (Vancouver, BC) 

Marketing Manager - Phoenix Coyotes (Glendale, AZ) 

Pepsi MAX Tank Patrol Team Member - San Jose Sharks (San Jose, CA) 

In Arena Game Producer - Dallas Stars (Frisco, TX) 

Video Editor - Dallas Stars (Frisco, TX) 

Communications Intern-Public Relations - Anaheim Ducks Hockey Club (Anaheim, CA) 

Coordinator, Marketing & Promotions - Los Angeles Kings (Los Angeles, CA) 

Digital Video Editor & Compositor - Night Shift - Los Angeles Kings (El Segundo, CA) 

Part-Time Game Night Staff - Boston Bruins (Boston, MA)

Jul 15, 2011

Today in stadium food: Chinese food truck

Made even better by the "Wok in the Park" pun. You can check out this truck the next time you go to a Colorado Rockies game. (Photo from Darren Rovell.)

Jul 12, 2011

Good to meet you all here in Kansas City

I'm in Kansas City this week at the annual IDEA Conference.  Just a quick note to say THANKS to some of the readers of this blog who've introduced themselves this week.  I can see from the blog stats that people read this -- but I'm never quite sure who you are.  So it's nice to put a face to some of you.

Heading off in a few minutes to a barbecue at Arrowhead Stadium.  I'll post more about the conference soon.

Jul 2, 2011

This year's hot carnival fair prize: Plush Michael Jackson

Somebody go win one of these for me, ok?
Last year they had a plush Obama up for grabs.  Maybe next year a Will-and-Kate pair?

Seen at the Kanata Canada Day Festival on July 1.

Jun 3, 2011

UPDATE: I have retired my old cellphone

This cell phone served me well for five years.  It was an emergency replacement phone after my previous one was lost in a suspected diaper genie accident.  It made phone calls, it texted, and I could even tweet with it.  All for $15/month with a pre-paid plan.

The ringtone was a polyphonic version of Girl, by Beck.  I still instinctively reach for my cell every time the song comes on my ipod.

Once, it was dropped in a puddle.

Once, it was chewed on by a teething baby.

Once, an 11-year-old called it "cool" and "retro".

I was committed to keeping it until the numbers and letters rubbed off, which was only months away.  But then it stopped receiving calls.  That was the final death blow.

Goodbye, old cell phone.

May 27, 2011

Profile of Michael Baiamonte, the Miami Heat P.A. Announcer

From the Miami Sun-Sentinel:

He is known as The Voice.
Deep. Rumbling. Animated.
And, depending on your basketball loyalties and sensibilities, somewhat annoying too.
Increasingly, however, Michael Baiamonte has become The Face.
At least when it comes to Heat home games.
"For so many years I was just a voice behind a microphone," says Baiamonte, in his 21st season as the Heat's public-address announcer. "Now a lot of people recognize me by face."
That's because his repeated in-game pleas to "Stand UP …. and make some NOISE … for YOUR … Miami … Heaaaaattttttt!!!!" are accompanied by a closeup of his face on the Jumbotron.
It's been that way at least since the Heat's run to the 2006 NBA title, and national TV cameras have taken to showing him as well.
No wonder his phone and email have been burning up with requests to emcee weddings and Bar Mitzvahs at as much as $500 an appearance. That more than justifies his decision 11 years ago to quit his job training telemarketers for an insurance company.
Yet it's clear The Voice, with his willingness to straddle the line between announcing and cheerleading ("Let's Go Heat!"), has made his presence felt.
"The energy and the atmosphere at a game, every little bit helps, and Mike has that captivating voice," Heat forward James Jones says. "When you hear the fans clapping and cheering and making noise when the other team is trying to run sets, it can be a distraction for them and it can be a plus for us."
Baiamonte, 47, takes a showman's approach to his job, which he's held long enough to be one of the half dozen or so longest-tenured Heat employees.
"A big part of it is entertainment," he says. "You want to put on the best show you can."
Only a few PA announcers in the league have been at their post longer than The Voice, who grew up in South Florida and attended Gulliver Prep, where he also introduced the lineups before home basketball games.
Read the full article... 

May 25, 2011

How the new scoreboard was unveiled at Fenway Park (video)

I thought this was a creative, brilliant way to introduce the new video scoreboard at Fenway Park:

May 23, 2011

Hey look, the old scoreboard from The Igloo in Pittsburgh is up for auction

"The Jumbotron itself is approximately 21ft.7in.H x 24ft.7in.L on each side. The four LED screens/monitors in the Jumbotron are 10ft.L x 7ft.7in.H. The Jumbotron is suspended from the roof and they Buyer is entitled to any of the gears and rigging used for suspension. The Sound Cluster is not included with the Jumbotron. Included with the Jumbotron are thirty-two ancillary scoreboard units and they are mounted throughout the Arena seating areas on the face and back of the North and South balconies. The two LED Boards are also mounted on the North and South balconies."

Up for auction here, along with other signage and scoring components.

Update: See also "Only $3001 For A Boat Anchor"

How to Dance the Robot, with Jon E Shakka

"Please consult with your doctor b4"

May 19, 2011

Exclusive photo of my home office

  1. Table and chairs from IKEA, a Swedish company that specializes in efficient packaging and requires purchasers to assemble the furniture at home.
  2. Three laptops.  Two Dells and a IBM Thinkpad.  At least one human is often sitting at one of these devices, interfacing with the web or accounting software.
  3. Two blue file folders, the contents of which shall remain undisclosed.
  4. Aerius allergy pills.  To relieve sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes.
  5. External hard drive, containing photos, music and video.
  6. Ipod.  Audio playback device constructed by Apple.
  7. Various cables, all USB.
  8. Bic Z+ 0.5 pen. Black ink.
  9. Wireless mouse, Microsoft. This is a pointing device, used in conjunction with the laptop keyboard to navigate screen menus and other screen interfaces.
  10. Cordless phone, General Electric.  Connected to land line.  Like Skype but without the visuals.
  11. Samsung flip phone.  For receiving phone messages to secret business phone number.
  12. Blackberry, recharging.
  13. Stack of CD-R's.  Archaic storage device, can store up to 700MB of data.  Commonly used to store and play back audio for use in devices like mini vans and Hyundai's.
  14. Items in background blurred for security reasons.
  15. Dog is out of frame, please infer his presence about 2 metres to the right of this image.

May 10, 2011

Charlotte Motor Speedway unveils the world's largest HD screen (200x80 feet)


This screen is as big as an NHL ice surface. 200 feet wide by 80 feet high. The Dallas Cowboys screen is 160x72 feet, practically tiny by comparison.  The press release:
CONCORD, N.C. (May 10, 2011) - Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the world's largest high definition television for a spin earlier today at Charlotte Motor Speedway by taking virtual laps around the legendary 1.5-mile track using an iRacing simulation. 
Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, invited Earnhardt Jr., an avid video gamer, to show off his skills on the giant HDTV. 
For its operational debut, Smith and Earnhardt Jr. used an oversized remote to power on the 200 foot-wide, 80 foot-tall HDTV, created by Panasonic, to reveal a highlight video of past racing action at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 
"Charlotte sets the standard for the rest of the tracks," said Earnhardt Jr. "They always do things first and do things the biggest and look, here we are today with another first from them. Charlotte holds a special place in a lot of drivers' hearts, mine included and the big TV makes this place even more special. 
"The Coca-Cola 600 is one of the best events we have all year long. Now fans can get a ticket to the race and have the experience of the live event with the comfort of their own TV at home with this big TV," Earnhardt Jr. continued. "This place just keeps getting better." 
"This giant Panasonic HDTV will be a game changer for our fans on race day," said Smith. "It will give them a whole new way to experience a NASCAR event at Charlotte Motor Speedway." 
Today's event signaled the completion of the Panasonic HDTV project, which took up to 57 workers a day, working more than 11,000 man hours, more than four months to construct. The 332-and-a-half-ton structure is the largest HDTV in the world. The 158 panels that make up the face of the television's screen will be illuminated by nine million LED lamps during select events at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 
Sam Bass, the official artist of Charlotte Motor Speedway, was also on hand to unveil the souvenir race program covers for the 27th running of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and 52nd running of the Coca-Cola 600 on the gigantic screen. 
For photos from the event, visit
The public debut of the world's largest HDTV will take place May 21 under the lights during the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. The screen is centered along the backstretch between Turns 2 and 3, across from the start/finish line. Fans seated throughout the frontstretch from Turn 4 to Turn 1 will have clear viewing angles of instant replays, leaderboard updates and interactive entertainment displayed in clear 720P high-definition visuals. 
Frontstretch tickets with the best views of the world's largest HDTV start at just $49 for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 21. Fans can also purchase two frontstretch tickets for just $99 to the Coca-Cola 600 on May 29. 
Tickets for all May races at Charlotte Motor Speedway can be purchased online at or by calling the ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267).

Apr 28, 2011

The future of fan experience / trends and technology in game entertainment

Really interesting article from Sports Business Journal. Some highlights:
Whether it's shooting T-shirts into the crowd or laser beams throughout the arena, entertaining with a mascot or informing with a smartphone app, the approaches run the gamut. 
And while some added options provide the opportunity to generate additional revenue, team executives need to know when to dial it down and keep the focus on the game. 
Just ask Chicago Bulls executive Jeff Wohlschlaeger, who has spent 15 years directing in-game entertainment at the perennially sold-out United Center. Each season demands new ways to enhance the fan experience, from up in the rafters to down at courtside. 
"Fans are smart," Wohlschlaeger said. "We can't create fake energy and fans aren't going to cheer for no reason." 
For teams, improving the in-game experience not only demonstrates value to fans, but it also provides opportunities to increase revenue. The trick is knowing when enough is enough. 
"You can wallpaper the game presentation with sponsors' specific reads, but you can go over the edge," said Tom O'Grady, president of Gameplan Creative and in-game executive producer and consultant for the Chicago Fire and the Chicago Blackhawks. 
"You want to sell everything you can but you want something that hooks the fans in," O'Grady said. "Teams are doing more of that than before, and off the shelf is not good enough anymore. It's about creating ideas that will stick." 
So intertwined is the in-game fan experience and revenue that the Tampa Bay Rays now make it a policy to include game presentation staff on corporate sales calls, creating a seamless strategy between in-game presentation and sponsorship inventory. 
Yet, at the same time, the Rays refuse to roll out a sponsored promotion during the middle of the eighth inning in order to preserve the feeling that the game belongs to the fans. 
"Our fan experience department generates ideas that are put into sales pitches so they will be integrated from the beginning, but we are not going to do something that sacrifices the experience at the ballpark," said Brian Auld, senior vice president of business operations for the Rays. "We made the decision to protect that moment of the game that is exciting."
In the NBA, which has long pushed its in-game approach to new entertainment heights, some teams are moving away from an overly scripted strategy to ward off any in-game sponsorship overload. 
"The in-game experience has gone from being overproduced to finding a balance between the basketball and entertainment," said Shelly Driggers, director of event presentation for the Orlando Magic. "We have scaled back on the number of fan prompts, while the number of replays shown on the scoreboard has gone far beyond what we have done in the past. We let the game be the game."
NBA Entertainment logs every timeout of every NBA game and makes a video reel available for all teams. If a promotion or new entertainment element plays well in Portland, for example, teams in other markets will quickly adopt it. 
In addition, the NBA assigns a game presentation manager to each of its 30 teams to assist and evaluate their in-game efforts through regular customer surveys. Every summer, the NBA holds a workshop for all in-game managers where new and best practices are discussed.
Currently, NBA teams are following a league mandate to increase player interaction inside arenas. 
"Player imaging has been one of the focus points," 
Wohlschlaeger said. "We try to be creative in using players in our in-game and have them visible." 
Baseball, Mannion said, is moving toward more sophisticated fan engagement between innings. He said baseball teams spend anywhere from $600,000 to $2 million on in-game operations for each 81-game home season.
But not all clubs share the "newer is better" opinion when it comes to in-game entertainment. Advances in technology bring a bigger price tag and more sponsorship revenue opportunities, but ill-timed execution can have a dampening effect on the fan experience. 
Tim Beach, vice president of game operations and events for the New York Islanders, said the club previously launched a Zamboni race video game that was powered by text messages. Beach said the game was slow and complicated, and few fans actually engaged with it. 
"During a TV timeout, you have 90 seconds to capture the fans, and if you spend the first 30 seconds explaining how a game is going to work, they are gone," Beach said.
Not all teams favor grassroots entertainment like the Islanders. The Los Angeles Kings start each game by beaming a laser light show across the arena as the players step out of a castle-shaped structure onto the ice. A light projection system beams televised movie clips and logos onto the ice. 
According to Chris McGowan, chief operating officer for the Kings, both the laser system and projectors represent significant six-figure purchases for the club. 
"Los Angeles is the creative capital of the world. We need to have a game presentation that is above the rest," McGowan said. "It is a significant expense, but people are paying good money to come to the arena, and we feel it is what people expect nowadays."
Full article is here...

Apr 27, 2011

Guy tries to sing the anthem at 100 different ballparks this season

Befitting its status as a sprawling and geographically diverse nationwide industry, Minor League Baseball and road trips go hand in hand.  But it's safe to say that no one's ever embarked upon a Minor League road trip quite like the one put together by Whittier College professor Joe Price, who has taken a sabbatical from academia in order to sing the national anthem at more than 100 ballparks over a five-month period. Fittingly dubbed "The Anthem Project," Price's tour will take him to more than 40 states. He'll sing in four time zones and across six levels of play and expects to travel at least 15,000 miles. Full story from

Apr 24, 2011

VIDEO: Mascots celebrate Phillie Phanatic's birthday by dancing to Solja Boy's "Crank It"

If you can find a funnier mascot video than this today, let me know. reported: "It was the Phanatic's birthday Sunday and all of his mascot friends showed up to celebrate. But this event seems to get weirder by the year. They played a Wiffle ball game before the real game and the Phanatic plunked his mother, Phoebe, in the head with a pitch. The Oriole Bird was not pleased with this development. A Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpet mascot played shortstop and made a crucial error to decide the game. When it was over, everyone, including the San Diego Friar, danced to music by Soulja Boy. Creepy."

Thanks to Trevor for pointing me towards this stuff.

Apr 15, 2011

VIDEO: Montreal Canadiens anthem guy sings at a tavern

I thought this was cool - Charles Prevost Linton, who sings the national anthems at most Montreal Canadiens games, sings the anthem at a Montreal tavern before an away game:

Also, I love the vintage pics of Charles on his web page.

(Thanks to Stuntman Stu for the video tip.)

Apr 14, 2011

VIDEO: Highlights & memories from the Senators season

Song is "These Days" by the Foo Fighters.  The new Foo Fighters album is full of great highlight video music.

Apr 13, 2011

Three videos from the Pittsburgh Pirates to raise awareness about hotdogs.

This is my second hot dog post in a row. My favourite is the first one, "Catch That Meat".

(via Brian Gainor)

Apr 9, 2011

Photo: The most expensive regular hot dog in Major League Baseball

Darren Rovell posted this photo of a $5.50 hot dog at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.  Apparantly it's the most you'll pay for a hotdog at any MLB ballpark.

Related: What MLB Teams are Charging for Tickets, Beer, Hot Dogs & Parking:

  • The most expensive beers are sold by the Boston Red Sox (60.4 cents an oz.), New York Yankees (50 cents an ounce) and the St. Louis Cardinals (54.1 cents an oz.)
  • The cheapest beers are sold by the Arizona Diamondbacks (28.6 cents an oz.), Pittsburgh Pirates (31.2 cents an oz.), Texas Rangers (31.2 cents an oz.), Philadelphia Phillies (32.1 cents an oz.) and Los Angeles Angels (32.1 cents an oz.)
  • The most expensive hot dogs are sold by the New York Mets ($5.50), Toronto Blue Jays ($5.11).
  • The cheapest hot dogs are sold by the Cincinnati Reds ($1), Baltimore Orioles ($2).

Mar 21, 2011

Which NHL team has the loudest fans in Canada?

Here's an article from Allen Panzeri in yesterday's Ottawa Citizen, measuring how loud fans are at the six NHL arenas in Canada.  In a nutshell, Montreal is the loudest, the rest are all about the same. A good read -- even though to get accurate numbers you'd have to correct for a lot of factors, such as:
  • arena acoustics
  • placement of speakers vis-a-vis press box
  • day of the week
  • opponent
  • performance of team on ice (winning the game?  good or bad season?)
Nice to see the old myth about Ottawa being a quiet arena being debunked.  Like I say in the article: when our team's playing well and the fans are excited, our building is as loud as any in the league.  (Case in point: Saturday night vs. Tampa Bay during the 3rd period and overtime.)

Here's the article:
The complaint is often heard about Scotiabank Place: It is as quiet as a morgue, filled with lifeless, unexcitable fans. Rather than serving to lift the spirits of their team, they sit on hands as if they were not watching a hockey game but browsing in a library.

That may be stretching it just a bit, but anyone who has attended a game against, say, the New Jersey Devils, knows there is some truth in it. Scotiabank Place can be deathly quiet.

But is it as quiet as it is made out to be? And how does it fare against its five Canadian rivals?
The Citizen decided to find out. We bought a hand-held decibel meter and, over the course of a long road trip, measured the sound levels in each of the six Canadian buildings: Rogers Arena in Vancouver, the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Rexall Place in Edmonton, the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the Bell Centre in Montreal, and Scotiabank Place.

At stake was bragging rights as the loudest and proudest Canadian arena.

And who won? No surprise, really: the Bell Centre. It has the reputation of not only being the loudest arena in Canada, but as the loudest in the National Hockey League.

It was followed by the other rinks, all roughly the same. No rink was notably louder or quieter than the other, not even the much-maligned Scotiabank Place.

To the person who is responsible for game entertainment at Ottawa games, Glen Gower, that wasn't exactly a surprise.

"I've heard it often that Ottawa is the quietest," he said. "But my response is that when the team's playing well and the fans are excited, this building is as loud as any in the league.
The players agree. Defenceman Chris Phillips loves playing in Montreal. It's so loud for the players, he says, it gives them goose bumps.

"They're cheering for Montreal when things are going well, they're booing when things aren't going well, and it doesn't seem to matter: they're just loud for the entire game," he says.

"It's always a great atmosphere."

But Ottawa has had its moments, too.

Phillips doesn't even have think to pick his loudest memory. It came on May 2, 1998, when Igor Kravchuk scored the insurance goal to clinch a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils and win Ottawa's first playoff series.

"That was, I think, by far the loudest I've ever heard it," Phillips says.

Nick Foligno's loudest memory came on April 14, 2008, in the third game of Ottawa's playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

It was Ottawa's first playoff game at home after the 2007 run that took them to the Stanley Cup final.

"I just remember the crowd going crazy," says Foligno.

"I was like, 'Wow, that's loud.' I had never experienced anything like that before."

While there are any number of entertainment tricks, including cheerleaders, Gower could use to pump up the crowd, that's not the team's style.

"Our focus has always been that hockey is No. 1," he says."We have a long tradition of hockey in this city, going back more than 100 years with the Senators, and with institutions like the 67's. So we always want to be respectful of the game."

In Calgary, the Flames have ice girls as part of the entertainment, but hockey also always comes first, says Geordie Macleod, who is in charge of engaging the crowd.

"Our fans wouldn't have it any other way," says Macleod.

But it is still a delicate dance to keep them happy.

"The loudness level is extremely subjective," he says.

"I know what I like, but I have to respect the fans who would like it to be quieter."

The sound volume of music and other entertainment is also adjusted for the day of the week and the intensity of the game, he says. A game in the middle of the week, which is when the Senators played the Flames, would be dialed down more than, say, a Saturday night game against conference-rival Vancouver.

To do this study, starting roughly one hour before each game, we began taking measurements, including what turned out to be a set of common measurements we could use as comparisons from rink-to-rink.

They included the sound level at the home team's arrival for the pregame skate, of the music used for the pre-game skate, of the national anthem, of the music between whistles, of the cheering for a goal by the home team, and so on.

In our measurements, the Bell Centre always seemed to be a little louder than the other rinks.
We took our measurements from the press box in each building to be consistent. That means they're not as loud as they would be if taken in the lower bowl, but Gower and Macleod said the figures are a fair representation of the sound levels in their buildings.

We also took a number of random measurements, such as the cheering of a fight, of a goal by the visitors, or a good scoring chance.

My favourite was the 83.2 reading hit at the Air Canada Centre when it was announced that Daniel Alfredsson, a hated figure among Toronto fans, wouldn't be in the Ottawa lineup.

That's just about the sound level you'd expect from a group of screaming kids, which, when you think of it, is a nice metaphor for an ACC crowd.

According to NHL guidelines, teams shouldn't exceed 95 decibels for typical game entertainment, with exceptions for big goals and plays. Occupational health and safety standards typically site 85 decibels as the safe limit of an eight-hour exposure, with a reduction by half for each three-point increase.

"You want to try to keep it at a level to create some energy and not hurt people's ears," Gower says.

That was put to a test in 2006 when William Hodgetts, a professor of speech pathology and audiology at the University of Alberta, and partner Dr. Richard Liu, an otolaryngologist, measured the sound levels during games three, four, and six of the Stanley Cup final series between the Oilers and the Carolina Hurricanes.

Liu wore a noise dosimeter near his ear for every second of each game. The average turned out to be the equivalent of sitting next to a chainsaw, with the occasional blast of a jet engine.
While Liu and his wife suffered a temporary hearing loss, they recovered the next day. But it's like any loud sound, says Hodgetts: if you're exposed to it for a long time, it's going to cause problems.

"What really matters is the cumulative exposure over time," he says.

"A level of 105 could be potentially dangerous if you're exposed to it for 10 or 15 minutes, but if it's only 10 to 15 seconds, probably not."

For example, when the Habs took the ice to start the game, the level peaked at 105.2. That compared to 103.3 in Calgary, 102.6 in Toronto, 99.5 in Ottawa, 99.1 in Vancouver and 92.1 in Edmonton.

This was also reflected in the cheering at the end of the national anthem, when the buildup to the game is at a peak: 99.6 in Montreal, 93.8 in Ottawa, 91.9 in Toronto, 91.7 in Vancouver, 91.3 in Edmonton, 88.1 in Calgary.

However, what, exactly, makes the Bell Centre the loudest arena in Canada is a question that can only be partially answered. For starters, the Habs attract a young audience, with the proximity of McGill and Concordia universities and Dawson College. That means stronger lungs.

Second, it's loud because Montreal is, well, Montreal.

"Part of it is the great hockey culture they have in Montreal," says Gower.

"Every team gets as loud as Montreal when their team is playing well or when they're in the playoffs. But in Montreal every game seems to have a playoff atmosphere."

Beyond that, though, the technical side of the production must remain a mystery because the Canadiens won't reveal their trade secrets.

While every team in the league uses microphones hung from the ceiling to amplify the sounds of the game, the Canadiens, through a spokesman, said they won't discuss the way they set up their microphones and speakers.

That invariably leads to speculation of a Milli Vanilli effect -that the crowd noise is being given an artificial boost.

Or that there's a special microphone in the general manager's office and Pierre Gauthier spends the game clapping and cheering into it.

Who knows?

But even if there is a Milli Vanilli effect, so what?, asks Phillips.

"That's allowed, isn't it?" he says. "If it gets their fans excited and creates a great atmosphere for the game, why not? It makes it a great place to play."

Full article, plus stats and comparison of decibel readings from the six teams...

Mar 13, 2011

Steve Perry & 43,000 fans sing Don't Stop Believing at a Giants Game

I know this is old news, but we're going to talk about this in our Sports Management class on Wednesday. Going way back to the 2010 World Series, Game 2, when San Francisco Giants fans sang along with Journey's Steve Perry to Don't Stop Believing.

Here's what music industry blogger Bob Lefsetz had to say about it:
This is why we do it. This is why we write and perform music. This is why a musician’s life is richer than that of any Wall Street banker, any politician, any sports figure. 
They say that money is king, that it changes everything. But you haven’t experienced true power until you hear 40,000 people singing your song, with no bouncing ball, no coaching, but by heart. That’s how much you mean to people... 
This clip is not as good as the one of "Don’t Stop Believin’", the audio is low and the camera person is far from the man himself, and yes, I know now that the Giants made sure Steve Perry was there, but about 1:20 in you hear the assembled multitude sing "Lights" and you’re overwhelmed, they know it, it’s in their DNA...
This is why everybody wants to be a rock star. To feel this power. To bask in the effect of your creation.
I don’t want to hear that this financial wizard is a rock star, or this politician, that’s missing the point. A true rock star can touch and move people in a way that no one else can. That’s the power. 
And Steve Perry and those ancient Journey songs from last century have the power to not only ignite a whole city, but an entire nation.

Was the World Series the peak of the zeitgeist for the song?  It's been all over sports for the past couple of years.  And I think Steve Perry's appearance was inspired by Ashkon's cover.  Detroit teams have been using it for years - I've heard it many times during broadcasts of  Red Wings playoff games. Then there's Annakin Slayd's sampling of the song in his tribute to the Montreal Canadiens.  And how about this guy, who's started a tradition at Dodgers games.

Where else have you seen/heard Don't Stop Believin'?

Mar 3, 2011

Joe Favorito on why the Washington Nationals President mascots are awesome

Good piece here by Joe on the Washington Nationals Presidents Race: Nats Make The Most Out of Their Mascots:
However for all their onfield issues, one thing that the Nats have done well is market and create interest in their mascots, interest which has drummed up American Idol like appeal for the brand and ancillary marketing dollars not seen in the mascot business these days...
They are goofy, fun and maretable in the offseason, and easily packagable to sponsors. Their races are capable of thousands of downloads without license fees on YouTube, and their appearance can easily be tied into a sponsor year-round, giving great added valkue to anything the Nats sales team can drum up. They appeal to young and old, and those selected through the tryouts are probably unique stories enough to generate even ancillary pubilicity for the team.

Mar 2, 2011

NBA player gets ejected for pointing at the video scoreboard

My Algonquin students will enjoy this one, especially after we spent today's class talking about video replay controversies.  Here's a report from Balls Don't Lie about an incident last night:

In the second quarter of Tuesday night's Grizzlies win over the San Antonio Spurs, Memphis center Marc Gasol received his second technical foul of the game, after taking in the first during the initial quarter while arguing a call. His ejection was not only the first of his NBA career, but it's also the first time we've seen a player get a T for pointing to the instant replay on the scoreboard above.

Watch the video here.

Since the advent of Jumbotron technology, NBA players and coaches have made a show of either watching or pointing to the replay featured above, following a tough call that didn't go their way. Refs clearly don't like the practice, but more often than not (as the groaning crowd will no doubt let the referees know, following the replay), the referees are aware that they blew a close one, and they'll let the player or coach vent, point or stare at the flickering images above.

Feb 28, 2011

About the use of the organ at Wrigley Field for Chicago Cubs games

Really interesting article from the Chicago Tribune about the use (and non-use) of the organ at Wrigley Field for Cubs games.  Excerpted here, bold parts are my emphasis:
They were the last team to install lights, and one of the last to install rotating advertising boards behind home plate. The installation of the car sign in left field caused a stir last summer, and talk about bringing a Jumbotron to Wrigley has been debated for years.

The Cubs made one small change to tradition in 2010 to make their players happy, while aggravating a segment of their fan base. With no fanfare last June, they suddenly replaced Gary Pressy's organ music with snippets of taped music for hitters' intro songs.

Asked by a fan at the Cubs Convention why they were spoiling the "Wrigley Field experience," Chairman Tom Ricketts recalled a conversation with an unnamed player who wanted the taped music to help the team out of its early-season slump.

"We weren't getting the clutch hits, we weren't scoring runs," Ricketts told the fans. "And a player came up and made that request. "I was like, 'Geez, we have traditions.' "

Ricketts and the marketing department debated it, and ultimately decided to make the change.

"I said 'Look, I know that it won't be popular with everybody, but if it shows the players that we're going to give them some support and try to shake things up and help things a little bit, then I'll give it a shot,' " he told fans.

Marlon Byrd confirmed he was the player Ricketts cited and that he was trying to boost the team's morale.

"We were the only team not coming out to music," Byrd said. "I thought it'd be a good twist, with it being 'Year One' with the Ricketts. I understand you have to keep tradition, have to keep the organ. But change it up just a little bit."

Byrd's intro song was "Work" by Gang Starr, which included the lyrics: "I've been laying, waiting for your next mistake/I put in work, and watch my status escalate." He said he enjoyed seeing fans "bobbing their heads in the stands" when they heard his song, even if the sound system is so antiquated it barely could be heard.

The reaction was split between the traditionalists and progressives. Ricketts admitted to fans they received "a lot of feedback from fans who preferred" organ music to taped songs, and said they're considering whether or not to return to the old-school ways.

Infielder Jeff Baker, who came out to various Beastie Boys songs, said he hopes the Rickettses keep the status quo.

"It creates a personality and an identity for each player, showing what you bring, and making your own stamp," Baker said. "I'm all for it. I know the majority of the players like it. I know it's a tough line for (the Rickettses) because they're trying to balance the traditions of Wrigley with what the players like and want.

"It's a tough call, but I hope they don't can it. It's not like you're replacing the organ music completely. You're just adding to it. I don't think it has ruined the fundamental history of Wrigley."

Catcher Koyie Hill, who preferred striding to home plate to Led Zeppelin, said a new sound system would make the recorded music more palatable.

"If they're going to (play) music on that speaker system they have now, I don't know what the point is." Hill said. "But if guys in the room like it and that's their thing, I'm all for it. When you're up at the plate, or on the mound, it's your turn. So take your turn. If you want music, you get music. I'm a big traditional guy, but I'm also not ignorant to the modern stuff. I like a good mix."

If the Ricketts family decides to go back to organ music, Byrd said the team can live with it. It's not a big deal, but one of those little "Chicago things" Chicagoans like to debate.

"I'm not part of the marketing department. So I'm not sure what kind of feedback they got," Byrd said. "If the fans didn't like it, we don't need to have it. They do need a new sound system. We need a lot of things. But I think the Ricketts are going to take care of that, and if we did have one, it'd be pretty cool.

"I know, just looking in the stands, that a lot of people enjoyed it. It's all just fun, trying to keep it loose. It's too serious sometimes in Chicago. We need to have fun."

Feb 26, 2011

The top ten songs played at U.S. sporting events last season

Saw this on Yahoo! Sports -- a list of the top ten songs heard at U.S. major league sports events in the 09-10 season, as reported by BMI. I'd suspect MLB baseball is over-represented in this sample of songs, since they play the most games per season.  (And NFL football would be the least represented.)

I'm surprised at #10: Machinehead.  It's a good sports song, but there are so many other hard rock songs of the same genre.  Also surprised that some arena staples like Sweet Caroline, or anything by AC/DC, or Crazy Train didn't make the list.

And the folks at Yahoo! were wondering why Car Wash made the list.  That's easy: because of the clapping part at the start.

Feb 19, 2011

Video tribute to Chris Kelly (Feb 18, 2011)

On Tuesday, February 15 the Sens trade Chris Kelly to the Boston Bruins.
On Friday, February 18 the Boston Bruins came to Ottawa for a game and Chris Kelly makes his debut.

Here's the tribute video (via Sens TV) we played during the first period. Great reaction from the fans - they cheered throughout and gave Chris a standing ovation. Great job by our video team to turn this around & great idea for the song - "Where Am I Going" by Matt Mays.

Feb 6, 2011

From the crime blotter: Murder suspect nabbed after video scoreboard appearance

This is old news but I felt it was important to document here for posterity. The New York Daily News reports:
If only all murder suspects were as stupid as Earle Barranco - a Brooklyn fugitive who waltzed past a JumboTron camera at an NBA game in the same gaudy bling he wore when he allegedly pulled the trigger.

As if that weren't bold enough, the dopey 24-year-old showed up at the same arena days later, where cops promptly nabbed him and replaced his bling with shiny steel handcuffs.

Barranco is being held in Charlotte, N.C., but will soon be on his way back to New York to face charges in the Oct. 23 slaying of Corey Scott, 28, at Chelsea's Good Stuff Diner...

The NYPD put out a nationwide arrest warrant and even notified authorities in the Bahamas, where the suspect's father lives.
Their big break came when Barranco showed up to a Charlotte Bobcats game Oct. 29 and made the mistake of walking into the view of the JumboTron lens as it zoomed in on a couple.

"He was walking behind them, but someone who knows him spotted him," a police source said. "After the game, that person learned he was wanted and then reported seeing him."

Charlotte authorities reviewed the tape and confirmed that Barranco had been there - with his telltale pendant.

When he showed up to another Bobcats game at the Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday night, North Carolina cops and FBI agents swooped down and arrested him.

Read more

Feb 3, 2011

Promotions round up #753

Feb 1, 2011

Puck Daddy ranks the NHL's goal celebrations

Excellent research and reporting from Puck Daddy on the in-arena goal celebrations for each of the 30 NHL teams.

In the East, Carolina was ranked the best: "Starts with a deep, drowning goal horn playing over Blur's "Song 2," and then things get freaky. There goes Ric Flair, saying 'that's a Ca-ro-lina Hurricanes' goal! Woo! Wooooo!' There's a 'Yabba Dabba Doo!' and a Homer Simpson 'd'oh!' and a Dice Clay 'oh!' And is that Chewbacca we hear?"

In the West, Columbus gets the nod: "The cannon isn't for everyone. And by 'everyone' we mean there are those out there who don't appreciate an AC/DC classic like "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)" being enhanced by heavy artillery. We call these fellow citizens 'lame-ohs.'"

Jan 28, 2011

ESPN reports on the science of the kiss cam

From an article titled "Managing 'Kiss Cam' is a science":
CHICAGO -- Vanessa Kluth and Scott Cummins were just an unassuming couple enjoying a Bulls-Knicks game from the comfort of their courtside seats when in an instant, they became the stars of the show at the United Center.

"It was fun. It was a great time," Cummins said with a laugh.

Unwittingly, the couple became the latest stars on the "Kiss Cam", America's longest-running unscripted romantic drama that unfolds in front of tens of thousands of sports fans on JumboTrons across the country every night.

Over the past 20 years, it's become one of the most popular in-game promotions by putting couples on the spot -- literally.

"In general, it's hard to really tell for the camera people who's a couple with the way everyone's sitting," said Sergio Lozano, senior director of scoreboard operations at the United Center. "Sometimes we have two people and they're not there together, they're there with the person to the left or the right of them."

Lozano is the man behind the curtain of the Kiss Cam, calling the shots from his perch high above the court and determining what couples get to show their affection -- or lack thereof -- for one another on the big stage.

His staff consists of five cameras located throughout the crowd. His charges all have two simple instructions.

"Be safe and pick some interesting couples," he said. "It is somewhat of a family audience so we try and be kind of safe with the couples that we're displaying up there and just in general to have a good time with it."

Preparation for the big moment during the first break in the fourth quarter begins long before show time.

Lozano says he and his camera operators are constantly scanning the crowd, searching for couples who will bring the crowd to their feet. Cameramen we spoke with say they try to have a handful of couples in mind so it's only the couples -- and not camera operators -- who are caught off guard when the music starts playing.

With 20,000 people all together under one roof, it's not easy to pick out the couples from the non-couples, something Lozano says has caused some awkward moments drawing laughs instead of cheers from the crowd.

"That's just part of the trial and error of live TV -- just not knowing what's going to happen," he says.

Nobody -- not even Bulls legends -- are off limits.

"Last year we put up Scottie Pippen and his wife," Lozano said. "He was kind of surprised we put him up. They kissed and he kind of did the finger and pointed at us and did a nice little smile, so that was a good one."
Read the entire article...

Jan 26, 2011

A note about cowbell etiquette

From the Laurel Leader-Call:
To the editor:

After reading the opinion column of Nov. 9 in reference to the “excessive” use of cowbells at Mississippi State games, I thought I would share our experience at the game Oct. 30 against Kentucky.

There were frequent reminders broadcast on the jumbotron throughout the pregame activities and throughout the entire game that fans were to ring their cowbells only at specific times. The scoreboard had an area that was just dedicated to “Ring Now” or “Yell Now” flashing signs. With very few exceptions, the fans followed these requirements.

We were pleasantly surprised at the cooperation among the fans. In our section, there were perhaps 3 or 4 people who didn’t follow the instructions. Naturally these 3 or 4 were drinking during the entire game.

Because I have sensitive hearing, I flinched each time the cowbells rang. To my surprise, I was sincerely offered packages of earplugs by two different gentlemen sitting nearby. If the cowbells really bother you that much, perhaps you should stay home and watch the game on TV or bring a set of earplugs along because it doesn’t seem that the cowbells have hurt MSU’s game attendance at all.

— Ellen Bigbie

Jan 16, 2011

Strange giveaway promo: Rene Rancourt bobblehead

Back in December, the Boston Bruins gave away Rene Rancourt bobbleheads to the first 10,000 fans in the building. Rancourt is the Bruins anthem singer. (via @nhlbruins)

Things I didn't know about Rene until I looked him up on Wikipedia: he's been singing the anthem for the Bruins for over 30 years, he started his anthem singing career at Fenway Park, his fist pump at the end of his performance is a tribute to former Bruin Randy Burridge.

And he also sings "at auto races, charity events, and nursing homes in and around New England".

Jan 10, 2011

NBA game cancelled due to... slippery floor?

Does any league have stranger reasons for delays of game than the NBA? A hawk delayed a game in Atlanta few years ago, and another was delayed by a video scoreboard catching fire. And pre-game pyro shows and smoke machines have delayed games as well.

The latest: NBA game cancelled due to slippery floor. Wish I could say it was on banana giveaway night, but alas the truth is more mundane than that. The floor was slippery because it was installed over an ice surface and it was just too wet.

Jan 7, 2011

Seth Godin: "Why we prefer live"

Recently read on Seth Godin's blog:
There are at least three reasons why someone might pay five or ten or a hundred times more to see a concert than the CD costs (not to mention the value difference: you can listen to the download again and again but the live gig is gone forever):
  • There are people around you, fellow travelers, magnetic energy, shared joy.
  • Something might go wrong. The artist is like a tightrope walker, taking big chances and the drama it creates is engrossing.
  • You might be surprised. Something new and wonderful might happen and it might jar you awake.
And yet, people in the 'live' business--restaurants, people doing presentations, the concierge at the hotel--often work hard to avoid getting anywhere near any of the three.

Jan 3, 2011

Tom Green unleashes the fury at Washington Capitals games

From the Washington Post:

For several years now, Caps fans have risen to their feet late in the third period and screamed "Unleash the Fury" along with Tom Green, as the culmination of the team's late-game rally video. Saturday night, the Tom Green who screamed inside Verizon Center happened to be about 15 pounds heavier, and wearing a red Mike Green jersey. (Video below.)

How did this happen?

Well, Michael Wurman was hired as director of game entertainment and TV production last season, he immediately thought about trying to integrate Green into the team's Unleash the Fury sensation, which has produced posters and t-shirts and personalized jerseys and other bits of Fury. He reached out to Green's team, but never heard back. As the playoffs approached, Wurman sent a message through Green's Web site, and lo and behold, he soon got a phone call from Green's agent, who passed him on to Green's publicist.

It turned out the comic was coming to D.C. in the late spring, and so Wurman crafted a plan to get Green inside the building for a playoff game. Alas, the Caps were eliminated before Green's scheduled visit.

In late July, though, Green had a gig at the D.C. Improv, and so the effort was renewed, and everyone agreed this was the time. Wurman and his crew went to the Improv with the Mike Green jersey and a guitar to mimic the original scene, and within 30 minutes they had what they needed. Their version of the scene starts with a wider shot than the original, so that the Caps logo and red jersey are immediately apparent, but other than that, it's a pretty close match.