I decided to add in all of my songs with ‘Black’ in the title, which only got me seven more.  Some great stuff in here from some of my favorite albums.  No U2, Pink Floyd or Marillion, strangely enough.

“Black & White” is my favorite Sarah McLachlan song.  Surfacing came out at a very interesting time in my life, and the lyrics have stuck with me ever since.   “Black Blade” is one of my favorites by BÖC, and was written by author Michael Moorcock (who also wrote my all-time favorite BÖC song, “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”).  My first introduction to Moorcock was a roundabout way, coming from the anthology “Tales of the White Wolf,” a collection of stories about Moorcock’s iconic character Elric of Melnibone by a host of authors.  I was attracted to the book mainly because of the cover art, by Gerald Brom, one of my favorite artists.  Brom did a lot of D&D covers, and I was quite the D&D geek.  Wait, did I say ‘was’?

Once I found the collection of Elric stories, I was hooked.  Everyone loves an anti-hero.  The real fun is understanding all of the various homages to Elric in other fantasy.  There are plenty.

Other songs high on my list are “Black Lodge” (and the creepy video starring Jenna Elfman) and “The Lady Wore Black,” from a time when Queensrÿche was still awesome – the time before Chris Degarmo was still in the band.

Black” – The Birthday MassacreElrice of Melnibone
Black” – Pearl Jam
Black & White” – Sarah McLachlan
Black Blade” – Blue Öyster Cult
Black-Dove (January)” – Tori Amos
Black-Eyed” – Placebo
Black Friday Rule” – Flogging Molly
Black Gold” – Soul Asylum
Black Lodge” – Anthrax
Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” – Santana
Black Milk” – Massive Attack
Black Poison Blood” – Kill Hannah
Black Velvet Band” – Dropkick Murphys
Black Velvet Band” – The Dubliners

Bleed Black” – AFI
“Buried in Your Black Heart” – Burden Brothers
The Cold Black Key” – Azam Ali
Heavy Metal: The Black and Silver” – Blue Öyster Cult
The Lady Wore Black” – Queensrÿche
The Red and the Black” – Blue Öyster Cult
See You In Black” – Blue Öyster Cult

Next week, I go blue!  Wait, not that kind of blue.  I mean songs with Blue in the title.

Hooray Sportspuck!

Hooray Sportspuck!

I’m a pretty crazy hockey fan.  I take my hockey obsession to the nerd level, analyzing numbers, watching stats, and basically getting technical on every aspect of the game.  They say that jocks are just sports nerds, but I’m not a jock.  I’m just a hockey nerd.  The NHL season is days away from starting, after almost being cancelled for the second time in seven years.  That’s right, for those of you who don’t follow sports, the National Hockey League has had three work stoppages in the past 18 years, one of which cost them the 2004-2005 season.  All three of those work stoppages have been lockouts, which is fundamentally different from strikes. In a lockout, the owners try to hold the players over a barrel and demand concessions.  In a strike, the players do the opposite.  I’m supportive of strikes, not so much of lockouts.

Now, people start to get weird when discussing labor disputes where the laborers in question have an average salary that starts with 6 figures and goes up from there.  I can understand why people like to describe them as “millionaires arguing with billionaires over money.”  The economics are still the same: The owners, after making record sums of money, demanded salary and benefits concessions from the players.  In the 2004-2005 lockout, the league, citing economic hardships (of which there certainly were), forced the players into a 24%, off-the-top pay cut on every contract.  The previous CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) had players making 76% of all league revenues.  The 2005 CBA dropped this number to 57%.  Last September, the League’s initial bargaining offer dropped that further to 45%.  Let me reiterate: The NHL wanted to drop the player’s share of the revenue from over 3/4 to under 1/2 in the span of seven years.  That’s a pretty sizable pay cut, even when you consider that the league made $3 billion last year, a record high.  Understandably, the players said “no thank you.”

This dance continued for over four months before the two sides brokered an agreement.  This included federal mediators, secret meetings, and the announcement of a deal by the Player’s Association that was cut short by a phone call from the League as the press conference was happening.  It ranged from the comical to the frustrating, but a central theme throughout seemed to be that the League had no desire to bargain fairly, or even ‘bargain’ at all.  They wanted what was in their initial offer, and they were going to get it.

They didn’t get it.

Commissioner Gary Bettman declared that a 5-year contract cap was the “hill we’re going to die on,” and they wound up with a 7-8 year cap.  Granted, that’s lower than the complete lack of a cap (with some 15-year contracts floating around) that had been before, but to resort to battlefield terminology was just ludicrous.  Players started with 50% of revenues, showing a complete willingness to bargain from the outset.  In the end, the players managed to fend off the worst of the League’s demands.  The real problem, however, goes unaddressed.  The owners are a fractious group, with about 10 teams making the bulk of the revenue and steadfastly refusing to share it.  In the 90s, the League, bolstered by the star-studded success of the Los Angeles Kings, decided to expand into markets that one doesn’t associate with ice hockey.  Teams sprung up in Florida, Georgia, and, Tennessee, and a few teams moved from Northern climes to Arizona, North Carolina and Texas.  Nearly all of those teams have struggled financially, some even after winning the Stanley Cup.  Additionally, more established teams were still struggling to make ends meet, and the League as a whole was loosing money.  In 2004, the owners had no intention of discussing revenue sharing, which is a staple in other leagues.  A rising tide lifts all ships, as they say, and the strong support the weak to ensure a robust league.  The NHL owners don’t seem to have grasped that, because they steadfastly refused any concept of revenue sharing this time around.  The negotiations essentially boiled down to thirty different owners trying to screw each other and the players.

The new CBA is for 10 years with an opt-out after 8, so there’s a good chance we’ll be back to this madness in 2021.  I’m one of those suckers that will keep rolling back in regardless, so I’m just happy they’ll be back to the ice on Saturday.  I’m just scared that they’ve done even more damage to the sport’s perception, which they cannot afford.

But hey, sportspuck is back!